Category Archives: priest

Unplanned

In light of the release of the film “Unplanned” which tells the story of Abby Johnson who was once a director for Planned Parenthood, who goes through a conversion to becoming one of the most leading voices in the Pro Life movement, I wanted to share a time in my life that I became a part of the Pro Life cause.

After a tough two years from being diagnosed with Lupus, I was seeking ways to use my energies and my renewed Catholic faith.

In the Church bulletin, was a post “volunteer crisis pregnancy counselors needed”. I thought ‘that sounds like something I want to be a part of. I have the time and I love babies, how difficult could this be?’ How clueless I was to soon find the raw and vulnerable situations I would be involved in.

Crisis Pregnancy Centers, CPC for short, had a two week training course for all volunteers. The training was designed to also inform them if the volunteer who completed it, could really take on the role.

The training had videos, speakers, manuals, and role play. The training included videos of actual abortion procedures, interviews, that left your mind spinning, and many tears. What I thought I knew about abortion was a completely sheltered world than from its true reality.

But I knew it in my heart, I wanted to continue and felt like the courage I was experiencing was not from me. I felt purpose!

When I served in this ministry, the women who came in for assistance, were of many backgrounds and nationalities. The women who worked or volunteered were from different Christian backgrounds. Out of these group of women, I would say out of the 40, maybe 5 were Catholic. CPC was not a Catholic agency.

I think if it wasn’t for some boisterous women who would like to voice their opinion of the Catholic Church, I would’ve stayed longer. It’s too bad such an important cause would have to have some bitter helpers.

But in either case, the women I counseled will always be a big piece to my heart.

There was a set of go to resources we would give the woman once we did their pregnancy test and if it showed positive. Like next steps, medical care, resources for food/nutrition, etc. We were given the freedom to pray with them and most of the time I did.

I’ll never forget one gal in particular. She came in appearing confused. She was young (like most) possibly 20. By her appearance, her clothes did not look fresh nor her hygiene. When I walked her into a counsel room, I then noticed her arms. They were riddled with heroin track marks. I didn’t want her to think I paid attention. And what came next was complete guidance by the Holy Spirit. By her approval we prayed waiting for results. Being a complete germaphobe, I lost myself in the fact, that I could’ve harmed myself since I was holding her bare arms. But it didn’t stay my focus.

Here I thought I was helping her in the beginning, yet I felt strength from her at the end. She seemed tired, scared, and needed someone to give her time.

Honestly, my memory doesn’t recall if her test was positive. All I remember, is how she touched me and know my Lord used me to meet her.

The women who came to CPC received love, direction, and support. Many are in need of hope. Most do not have money. But centers like CPC, are there for women to know they are respected and their unborn child will be cared for by the many resources who support CPC.

One of my biggest questions I have for the Pro Choice movement, is if they have really taken the time to see what an abortion does? To see what a “fetus” (BABY) shows in form and what it brutally does to a woman. If Planned Parenthood cares so much for the woman, I would like to see testimonies from the women who had abortions and what follow up care (emotional especially) they were given. Because I’ll tell you what, I never seen it. Where are the YouTube videos, website, Twitter, or feminist groups highlighting the post abortion care? I mean if it’s such a liberating action to have an abortion, why not film women explaining how valuable the process was? Where are these testimonies?

Kudos to Abby Johnson and the team who put this film together. Hopefully, there will be many who are not Pro Life, who will see this film.

If we practice our faith – Catholic or Christian, than our life decisions are based on that first. Not a political party, celebrity, or our opinion. If we place ourselves in all of God’s creation, we will take honor to His design.

Psalm 139

You formed my inmost being;

you knit me in my mother’s womb.

I praise you, because I am wonderfully made;

wonderful are your works!

My very self you know.

My bones are not hidden from you,

When I was being made in secret,

fashioned in the depths of the earth.

Your eyes saw me unformed;

in your book all are written down;

my days were shaped, before one came to be.

False Witness

In order to write this post, I have to reveal an area of sacrifice I’m working on this Lent.  A part of self control, for me, is the sin of gossip.

Throughout my life, I have wrestled with this sin. Before I began practicing my faith, I never knew gossiping was a bad thing.  It was all around me.  Family and friends always used gossip in conversations. It was and still is a way to either vent or share things because we feel we can in either making fun of someone or puffing up our chests to make ourselves look better.

Over time, for me, I realized my confessions continued to cough up this sin and yet, no real self reflection struck me on why this was repeated.

At this stage in my life, I do find myself gossiping, but it’s like I told myself in a certain way…well, I’ll only go this far in sharing, or I won’t say too much as to not fall into the trap. But regardless, I would find myself reflecting on discussions I’ve had with others after that fact and see that no matter how  I wanted to classify it, it was still gossip.

There is a fine line I want to say when it comes to being concerned  over an individual when sharing things for the sake of helping them without their knowledge.  Speaking about their decision making or ways that could hurt them spiritually, those incidents may cause for others to discuss and plan out what could be done to get them back on track.  But to just have a  field day about someone’s lifestyle or continued same actions that cause pain to others, does nothing to keep talking about how awful this person is to everyone.

Coming back to my sin of gossip during this Lent.  I’ve come to take on an action that I first saw as my own penance. And that is to correct myself with those who I gossiped with as a way to reconcile my behavior and sin. Explaining to the individual, that I did wrong and that I shouldn’t have said what I said.   Doesn’t matter if it was one word blurted out or ten.  Doesn’t matter if I didn’t mean harm in sharing, because it is harmful no matter what.  It places me in accountability.  Makes me humble myself that I sinned and want to correct myself because Jesus placed it in my heart and eyes to see what I have done.   Oh how much Our Lord wrestles my heart to show me my sin. I’m thankful.

What catches me to about gossip, is that I wish those individuals who do know it’s wrong, don’t pin it on me or correct me right on the spot. Gosh, how I wish they would. I’m not saying it’s easy to do but I’m going to start trying. Sometimes we don’t do that enough or at least in my circle I don’t see it.  I also don’t see much in asking forgiveness for daily actions that can hinder unity or cause disruption. Most of the time, we don’t want to take notice we’ve done some thing wrong or pride ourselves that we are doing all things right. Really?  There are some things to dig deep about and frankly, I would appreciate if my fellow Catholic/Christian would call me out when I sin so it’s corrected right then and there.  But I know it’s not easy.  Honestly, I know.  And I know I will slip up again, but my hope is the day it completely stops for me. That I am so rooted, it doesn’t make me budge.  And most of all, throughout this self examination, how the path through it gets me to God’s mercy.  It’s there every time.  Like the Light at the end of the tunnel. Once I’ve reflected, accounted for, asked forgiveness, His mercy is there…and I move on.

If the dialogue isn’t fruitful brothers and sisters, there is no end that points to a helpful solution, then do yourself and me a favor….don’t go there!

 8th Commandment, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

 

Added note: The Catholic Church has always taught there is a communal reconciliation

Strike One, Strike Two, Strike Three

I feel like such failure.

For some reason lately I am greatly battling my attitude. I feel more than ever my response can be negative and unwelcoming. Where I’m pessimistic and say things without a care whether what I’m saying is heard or not. And through it all, signs of impatience are easily given off.

Is it me? Is it hormones? Is it just Lent and because I’m walking through I’m being attacked?

All I know about this, is that I hate it! I hate that there’s that piece of me that I show others that doesn’t show Christ in my life. That I have not asked or done my part to rid myself of it. At least, that’s how it feels. Like I’m not doing enough about it.

I notice when I get high strung, stressed, impatient, this negative side of me appears. It is more so when I think I’m being provoked. But regardless of how it comes, I should not be allowing it to rear its ugly head.

I was told by a priest in the confessional in order to respond to these situations, I should stop and call our Lord in prayer. To pray and not react. But I’m not consistent. A part of me wonders will I ever change? What am I missing?

My heart is heavy right now. Because I’ve been helping others in their own area of lives, with virtue and prayer, yet I demonstrated something to them that was not an example I wanted to convey.

Now that I know damage is done, I’m struggling on how to correct it without placing to much emphasis towards me but letting the other person who I feel received my sin know my remorse. I’ve asked Our Lord for His correction. And even though I’m carrying regret from my actions, I am thankful Jesus showed me my wrong doing.

Thus, the purpose of prayer is perhaps less to obtain what we ask than to Become someone else. We should go further and say that asking something from God transforms us, little by little, into people capable of sometimes doing without what they ask for.  -Father Bernard Bro, o.p.

I want to be free of this but more importantly to gain a stronger charitable spirit, peace, and patience no matter what the situation.

Lord, help me, change me.

The Dialogue of St. Catherine of Siena

Around August 15th, about the time the news broke out on Cardinal McCarrick and the priest sex abuse scandal, I had just received my copy of ‘The Dialogue of St. Catherine of Siena.  For some reason, right before this horrific news hit, I felt compelled to read it.  Even though I have read many books on St. Catherine, this one I hadn’t.  This book is the one big source to her total being.  It is odd to me that I hadn’t read it and yet now was the most perfect time to read it.

Quite frankly, I wish I could post a pic of each page and upload her text so you can just skip what I have to say about it and read what was written.

For those who don’t know about this book or St. Catherine, her life’s purpose in a nutshell had to do with reform of the Church. This book is the essential piece to the work she performed to help rid the Church of bad clergy.  Much of St. Catherine’s life was a selfless act of humility and servitude. All she wanted was for others to come to Christ and to defend the Church. Two things I hold dear in my heart.  However, I am no way near selflessness. But thanks to God, through St. Catherine, He used her at a time when much revolt was occurring and educated her to evangelize the masses during it.

St. Catherine was gifted with such openness to have our Father God speak to her.  With that, he gave her multiple “talks” on how to respond, how to pray, what to teach/pass on, how to stay on course of the faith, etc. during the time of purging and restoration.

The dialogue is based on “bad clergy” and Our Lord’s response to that.  He often refers to them not as bad clergy but priests who rather “self love” than to love God.

God’s speech to St. Catherine defines who follows Christ and those who don’t. He points out to her what He sees in both.

This excerpt is identifying those who are full of self love. From the book: “…nor the three vows which he promised to observe at the time of his Profession; he swims in the tempestuous sea, tossed to and fro by contrary winds, fastened only to the ship by his clothes, wearing the religious habit on his body, but not on his heart.”

Father God shares with St. Catherine that there are priests performing evil acts.  Some so far into it, they can’t even turn away or find God’s mercy.  So they continue to stay in their sin and filth.  He instructs St. Catherine to pray for them. Pray they come to ask for God’s mercy before they die and how worse is it for a Priest to commit their abuse and never have asked God for forgiveness then for anyone who has committed the same abuse.

He goes onto telling St. Catherine that as much as we despise these “priests” who are causing evil in the Church and letting it fester, that we not lose sight that they are still Priests.  To not slander their name or mock them. But to instead pray. To remember, they are priests and that they are His.

He tells her: ” You should love them therefore by reason of the virtue and dignity of the Sacrament, and by reason of that very virtue and dignity you should hate the defects of those who live miserably in sin, but not on that account appoint yourselves their judges, which I forbid, because they are my Christ’s, and you ought to love and reverence the authority which I have given them.”

After I read this, I completely understood it. It hit my soul….”of course.”  These Priests are under attack.  And some weak, they don’t even know it anymore. There are layers to these crimes committed and are being committed and who they affect.

Vow, Priest, sin, (mercy) >>>Church, Eucharist, faithful, (salvation).

It is not that Our Lord does not want us to be angry at what they’ve done, but to center on the problem that is causing this awful sin and that is the Devil himself.  The devil and all darkness is whom we are fighting.

The words and imagery used by Our Lord to St. Catherine speak with love and ferocity. His words are nothing but love and how awful it is for those who lose sight of it. What happens to us when we lose sight of Christ in our lives? Our world becomes foggy, we become clouded by our sin, our hearts are clogged.

This book came at the right time.  And since, I keep seeing clergy to the faithful, refer to St. Catherine as a reference on how to go forward. She is thrust out on the forefront again. Rallying the faithful to stop and recognize who we are in this fight against the evil that is in the Church by those who for far too long have kept it hidden.  The struggle seems the same but it is new to us. The push to make change or to put an end to the darkness is slowing happening. The task seems overwhelming. But if we take into account, this book, and its bits of instruction, we can plow through.  Let’s stay on the Ship.

St. Catherine of Siena, pray for us. +++

What is Truth?

So Pilate said to him, “Then you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say I am a king. For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”

Pilate said to him, “What is truth?”

Pilate’s response has been ringing in my head these days. I’ve been thinking about his response in relation to current events. The illusionist is working many angles from religion to politics to family relationships. I understand this is nothing new. But what seems different to me is the loss of respect in people’s attempt to defend their truth.

The lines of facts are skewed and there are many who use them to benefit a cause/point no matter if there is validity. If they believe them to be true, that’s all that matters. Reason or logic to a situation isn’t taken into consideration and what seems even worse is that people don’t care what that might mean to the person/persons it affects.

Credibility weakens when facts are skewed because the person/persons where respect was once given is thrown out the window too.  Seeing this more towards the Church.  The mocking and the not taking seriously the Church’s position to everyday moral questions by Catholics and Non Catholics. However, it is not just the Church authority that is suffering. There is a string of other high regard positions of people under attack as well. From school teachers, law enforcement, business leaders, medical professionals, pharmaceutical industry, political office, etc. Never have I felt credibility to not be important to possess, but it seems from recent events, accountability and respect are becoming blurred and the attempt by the devil is to make people lose sight of order and control.

The biggest example is from Church leaders. Certain clergy are still visible doing things that they shouldn’t be. The faithful, from my assertion, are moving on knowing there’s only so much they can do or put their time and energy into the fight. The visible results are slowing being seen. It’s not that nothing is being done, but it might appear to some it isn’t changing.  I feel all must share and care to inform others change will take time.

Now going back to the truth, if you don’t show honor to ones truth, then you must side with the opposition and therefore you’re the enemy. Sensitivity and boundaries seem to not work for everyone. If you’re not for them, you’re against them. People want you to not take away their ideals, but are not understanding that’s what they’re doing to you.  Some news line is fed out and people, without further researching, believe it. They never look past it and then begin using it as a weapon of defense on something that is not true.

There are countless sources out on the internet feeding people garbage that they believe in and end up falling in the trap. Untruths about the President, the Pope, government programs, crimes, etc. They tend to not go further into fact checking and become paralyzed with fear.  It’s awful and scary.  I truly believe that if they spent more time in their faith, practicing, their eyes would see what is truth and what are lies. I’m grateful Our Lord has me where I am, but I know I need to get deeper rooted.  I feel it for the sake of my own family.

The best I and others can do is help our brothers and sisters know what to focus on and where to take our fears. The world is changing fast and those around us may not see what their eyes are losing sight of.

I believe

For almost these past two months, there has been increase in news exposing the darkness in the Catholic Church. It feels like each week, there is more news to prove, it’s worse than what we thought the day before.  Personally, I receive the bulk of my news through Twitter. The national news isn’t even reporting in the speed Twitter is feeding it.  The news sources I cover are reputable Catholic news agencies, along with Catholic reporters/journalists, theologians, speakers, public figures, etc.

At this point, I feel like where I’m at in information, is a bit numbing.  I’m stunned and shocked.  But as I pointed out earlier in a previous blog, the aid of reading from St Catherine of Siena’s writings to Catholic bloggers, experts of the faith, have channeled me with direction.  Attentiveness to the daily Mass readings, and thanks to God, the rosary for reparation for the Church that began a novena on the Queenship of Mary, have been key to me in clarity.

However, I felt the need to write about some of my feelings on particular responses I’ve read from the ‘faithful’.  A part of me is a little apprehensive about sharing my thoughts because I don’t want to come off as one who thinks I have attained all faith and knowledge. I clearly have not!  But the other side of me, is well…getting a little fed up with Catholic folk on sharing their voices about their Catholicism.

For example, and I mainly see it on Twitter, are comments shared by celebrities, writers, politicians, etc, who express they have just had it with the Papacy, Cardinals, and just think the whole tie to identifying oneself Catholic is questionable.  That the disgust, mistrust, no firing of the Cardinals is quick enough, Pope Francis isn’t stepping down, is all enough to leave the Church.

There are people blurting out all these things to the faithful not ever recognizing their responsibility to them.  I’ve written a few responses to them saying, bluntly, stop feeling so victimized and get out there and fight.  Fight for those who are victims of priest sex abuse, for those who only have faith because of where/how they live is dire, for the good priests having to push through it all and be everything to everyone right now, for the bad priests who cannot see past “self love” and are not aware to ask for God’s mercy, for the faithful at your parish who are family, for the Catholic Church as a whole who is the Body of Christ. You, me, everyone. We need to be strong!

It blows me away and I have to be careful about this thought, and I know we are all at different stages of our faith, but besides that, those who are vocal about their indecision are not 4th graders. They’re educated. They’re intellectuals. They should recall all those scriptures covered in Mass that they have attended and know what they are supposed to do!  All those readings are life and guidance!

I mean, even if you did not have all the knowledge, why wouldn’t you seek answers by what you have been taught and why you are Catholic in the first place??  That’s all I’m saying. The Eucharist is the number one reason. The number one very big reason. How is it that easy to walk away?

In no means, am I perfect at my faith. I do not know everything. I’m a 47 year old woman.  I practice and seek each day. But for something as so sacred as our faith in which Jesus entrusted to the Apostles by the Holy Spirit to the Church to be given to us, how can we all sound so flaky about our response when we deal with crises.

Multiple scripture verses come to mind:

Luke 9:23 – Then he said to all, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.

Ephesians 6:10-12 – Finally, draw your strength from the Lord and from his mighty power. Put on the armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the tactics of the devil. For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens.

1 Peter 5:8-9 – Be sober and vigilant. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for [someone] to devour.fResist him, steadfast in faith, knowing that your fellow believers throughout the world undergo the same sufferings.

1 Corinthians 12: 27-31 – Now you are Christ’s body, and individually parts of it. Some people God has designated in the church to be, first, apostles; second, prophets; third, teachers; then, mighty deeds; then, gifts of healing, assistance, administration, and varieties of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work mighty deeds?Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret?Strive eagerly for the greatest spiritual gifts.

 

Recite the Nicene Creed.  You don’t follow men. You follow Jesus and the Church He gave us! Fight!

Take notes from St Catherine on Priests

I had found a quote so perfect from St Catherine and had wanted to share, but I have misplaced it.  Came to my computer again this morning to search for it and stumbled upon this passage which provided it to me in multiple search results.  Let me preface here, I have read many books on St Catherine and know her as a warrior of the Church. I know her accolades but for whatever reason, my mind over the priest scandals our Church is facing lately, I had forgotten about these specific talks from God to her.   For two weeks now, I, and I know many, have been in a bit of a slump. Reading and hearing about the U.S. Church today and the scandals that are now being uncovered. It’s devastating what has been brought to light on Cardinal McCarrick.

Yesterday, I began writing a blog on what I felt, but had to step away because I was overwhelmed. Most of the time, when I blog, it helps relieve tension.  Almost like I’m surrendering it to God and helping me receive peace afterward.  But I knew this time, I was wrestling with it differently.

Like I mentioned when I began searching writings on St Catherine, I came upon her dialogue and now instead of sharing my blog on my emotions, I replace it with this. This says it all. No need for more. It’s what I should now focus on and help others to recognize the truth in it as well.

For two thousand years plus, Our Church has given us Saints for every occasion, for every time. St Catherine was one who during much conflict in the Church evangelized in her capacity and selfless will so that the faithful would not lose sight of purpose and love for Jesus Christ or His Church.  With that, I pass on what has already been clearly identified and no more need for me to become fixated, but to continue in the way Jesus calls on me.

God the Father spoke to St. Catherine of Siena about his “ministers,” the priests. She recorded it in her Dialogue:

…[It] is my intention that they be held in due reverence, not for what they are in themselves, but for my sake, because of the authority I have given them. Therefore the virtuous must not lessen their reverence, even should these ministers fall short in virtue. And, as far as the virtues of my ministers are concerned, I have described them for you by setting them before you as stewards of… my Son’s body and blood and of the other sacraments. This dignity belongs to all who are appointed as such stewards, to the bad as well as to the good.

…[Because] of their virtue and because of their sacramental dignity you ought to love them. And you ought to hate the sins of those who live evil lives. But you may not for all that set ourselves up as their judges; this is not my will because they are my Christs, and you ought to love and reverence the authority I have given them.

You know well enough that if someone filthy or poorly dressed were to offer you a great treasure that would give you life, you would not disdain the bearer for love of the treasure, and the lord who had sent it, even though the bearer was ragged and filthy… You ought to despise and hate the ministers’ sins and try to dress them in the clothes of charity and holy prayer and wash away their filth with your tears.

Indeed, I have appointed them and given them to you to be angels on earth and suns, as I have told you. When they are less than that you ought to pray for them. But you are not to judge them. Leave the judging to me, and I, because of your prayers and my own desire, will be merciful to them.

 

St Catherine of Siena, pray for us! +++