Oh Lord, it’s hard to be humble…

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Oh Lord, it’s hard to humble, When your perfect in every way

I can’t wait to look in the mirror, I get better lookin’ each day…

 

Maybe it has been hard for America to be humble?  But the time is now for America to recover that great virtue..  For the last few years, like many others, I have sincerely been worrying about my country.  And with this crazy election year, we have sound reasons to be concerned!   We all need to vote, but we all need to first put our trust in Christ.  He’s the one really in charge anyhow.  America has never had a national religion so to speak.  But, there can be no doubt that Christian principles guided the founding of our nation.  For me to write that America needs to return to those Christian principles would be the understatement of the year!   That would be like Hillary Clinton holding a press conference and admitting to making a few mistakes with her computer…  The wording doesn’t have to be complicated.  The right words were written long, long, ago.

if my people who are called by my name humble themselves,  and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

2 Chronicles 7 :14

 

The other day, feeling depressed because I just watched the morning news, while waiting for my first patient I decided to surf the net and find some inspiration.  Well, I somehow stumbled upon that verse in 2 Chronicles.  I have seen it and heard it hundreds of times before, but it jumped out at me last week.   Think how great America could be if we all came together in Christ and humbled ourselves before Him…  He would forgive our sins and heal our land!  I know everyone wouldn’t go along with this, but if the majority of us did, America would once again be that shining city on a hill…   Though, this would only come about through the Grace of our Lord, not by some politician.

 

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Ronald Reagan had his wife Nancy hold his Mother’s bible open to 2 Chronicles 7:14, while he placed his right hand upon that scripture to take the oath of office.  A very simple, humble gesture.  Ironically, about to become the leader of the free world.  Please don’t get me wrong here…This post is not meant to build up President  Reagan, the GOP, or Trump.  Our country as a whole needs to get back to the basic simple truth that God is in charge!  We must repent and humble ourselves before Him,  Surrendering to His will completely.

 

We Christians can sure do a lot of praying that this change will ultimately take place.  We can look to the Sacraments for all the Grace we need.  With regular attendance at both Confession and Mass we will be on the right track.  We Catholics are fortunate to have the magisterium and authority when interpreting the Word of God.  Our first Pope, St. Peter, clearly lets us know what we need to do to humble ourselves, why we need to do it, and our rewards if we do it!

 

Likewise you that are younger be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that in due time he may exalt you. Cast all your anxieties on him, for he cares about you. Be sober, be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking some one to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experience of suffering is required of your brotherhood throughout the world. 10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, establish, and strengthen[c] you. 11 To him be the dominion for ever and ever. Amen.    1 Peter 5:5-11

 

Those words ring very true and could help us all if we practice them outright…  God seems to provide us all with great examples of what it means to be humble, and how we should live.   We have numerous Saints that can pray for us, and we have their examples.  Our recent Popes have all been different in their own way, but humility seems to be at the forefront of all their messages.

 

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Albino Luciani, chose the one word motto pictured above when St. John XXIII made him the Bishop of Vittorio Veneto.  In his first address to his diocese with great humility he stated, “I would like to be a bishop who is a teacher and a servant”.  Albino later would become Pope John Paul I.

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We all need more humility… John Paul I lived life humbly, and proved to be a great example.  However, his reign as Pope only lasted 33 days.  The world never really got a good chance to know him.   Fortunately, we have his writings, speeches, and biographies that highlight the simple humility of the 263rd Supreme Pontiff.  For example, in his first general audience,  September 6th 1978, he stated,

To be good, however, it is necessary to be in place before God, before our neighbor and before ourselves. Before God, the right position is that of Abraham, who said:

“I am only dust and ashes before you, O Lord!” We must feel small before God. When I say, “Lord I believe” I am not ashamed to feel like a child before his mother; one believes in one’s mother; I believe in the Lord, in what he has revealed to me.

 

John Paul I often reflected on becoming a bishop.  Through his words one can easily see his humbleness as he surrendered completely to the will of God…

 

Just appointed Bishop, I thought that God was using an old system, even with me: to write certain things not on bronze or marble, but right in the dust, so that if the writing remains intact, undisrupted or dispersed by the wind, it is clear that the credit is completely God’s alone

 

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For help, we can all pray the Litany of Humility…  It was composed by  Cardinal Rafael Merry del Val, Secretary of State under Pope St. Pius X.   Here is a great link and blog post about the Litany of Humility…

 

http://www.catholic365.com/article/1619/why-would-anyone-pray-the-litany-of-humility.html

 

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Rafael Cardinal Merry del Val

 

Ave Maria!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pray Diligently for World Youth Day 2016!

 

Our world has been getting darker. Seems like every week, Satan turns down the dimmer switch just a little bit more…  But we must not give up and lose our focus. Christ must stay in the center of our lives, and if we do our best to do that very thing, His light will extinguish the darkness, completely!

 

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World Youth Day 2016, in Krakow, Poland begins on July 25th.  We need to say a special prayer for those in attendance that God will keep them all safe from harm and evil. Just think about this for a moment… Millions of Christians, all gathered together to celebrate the Gospel and show the world God’s never ending love for us all.  This truly will be a beacon of brilliant light, that no matter what, will never go out.  Remember what our Lord said to St. Peter,”…I will build my Church and the powers of death shall not prevail against it.”

 

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I can’t help but wonder if given the opportunity to go to an event like World Youth Day in Krakow, would I take it?  The whole world has become a dangerous place, but Europe especially has felt the brunt of Islamic terrorists.  Many Christians have recently become Martyrs in the Middle East.  Something terrible seems to happen on a weekly basis.  And not just over seas…  Evil terrorism has become more prevalent and rising, right here in the good old USA.

Well, I need to make a strong stand for Jesus no matter what ground I am standing on.  I can start on the right foot by going to regular, routine Confession, and at least Sunday Mass.   He talks to us through His scriptures and we talk to Him through our prayers.  I have to ask myself though this tough question, ” Why don’t I make enough time for Jesus?”  I certainly make enough time to watch an entire golf tournament on TV nearly every weekend.  I must change this about myself, and change now.

 

Confession-1                      ugilfi

 

“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, Have mercy on me, a sinner.”

 

 

St. Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray,
and do thou,
O Prince of the heavenly hosts,
by the power of God,
thrust into hell Satan,
and all the evil spirits,
who prowl about the world
seeking the ruin of souls. Amen..

 

Ave Maria!

 

 

Chose Life, No matter what…

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I have tried diligently to not post angry political comments on this blog.  But, enough is enough!   I cannot look the other way, any longer.  Today’s Supreme Court ruling landed once again on the side of the pro-choice, or pro-abortion people.   The left  can’t help but use coy euphemisms when describing key issues related to their platform.   Pro-choice isn’t a great moniker, but at least that euphemism makes more sense than the phrase, protecting women’s health care…  I wish the good Justice Scalia still sat on the bench…  Though, I bet the vote today would have still gone in favor for the Culture of Death, 5 to 4.

 

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The Democratic nominee for President tweeted this lovely note upon hearing the news….

SCOTUS’s decision is a victory for women in Texas and across America. Safe abortion should be a right—not just on paper, but in reality. -H

 

How can someone who has given birth to a child be so unashamed and cold to the unborn?  I know there exist numerous issues we all have to deal with in this country.  For some the economy matters most or immigration.  There also exists a lot of grey areas with some of these issues.   But, not abortion.  That issue can only be black and white.  Either you are for saving the life of the unborn, or you are in favor of ending that life.   At least one life ends with every abortion that is preformed.  And half of those unborn children are female… Now, how can that be good for women’s healthcare?

 

 

 

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Reflect on this thought for a moment… Our Lord, during his first trimester of life, inside the womb of our Blessed Mother Mary, was recognized by an unborn child!   St. John the Baptist, in Elizabeth’s womb during his third trimester of life, recognized our Lord and leaped for joy at His Presence   Much in the same manner as King David danced in the hills of Judea before the ark, the Presence of the Lord.  ( Second Samuel 6:14)

 

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As a physician, I can’t help but be ashamed of my profession.   Politicians, and doctors as well, believe they have the right to play God and decide when life begins.  God has made it crystal clear that life begins at conception.  No one can change that fact or dispute it.

 

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We need to fight this.  Not with violence, but with love.  We need to pray for the unborn.  Just as we need to pray for those elected officials and physicians that believe they can play God and decide when to end a life.  We need to pray diligently that these people get voted out of office and lose their power.  We should also pray that God will soften their hearts and they will ultimately do the right thing.

First we ourselves need to be right with God.  So, Confession of sins should be first on the list for most of us.  I know it is for me.    Then, we need to get into Mass and give thanks.  We can talk to God by praying, and He can talk back to us through the scriptures.  We need to stand up for our religious rights in this country.  We  can turn the other cheek, but that doesn’t mean we let the enemy trample us.  We stand together, vote accordingly, defend our families, and do our best to love our enemies.

 

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St. Michael The Archangel, Defend Us!

St. John the Baptist, Pray for us!

 

Ave Maria!

 

Take a Stand!

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                                                              Ephesians 6:13

Therefore take the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

 

74 and 72 years ago, on this very day in June, many young Americans took a stand and gave their lives to stop evil aggression.  No other choice existed, our freedom had been challenged and had to be defended.   Today marks the anniversary of D-Day, and also the last day of the Battle of Midway.  Two decisive and separate events, that allowed us all to remain free.  We must never forget the stand they took for all of us.

 

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USS-Yorktown

 

Today, folks in uniform still have to take a stand against evil.  Radical Islamic terrorists wreak havoc all over the world.  They kill, torture, and rape civilians.  Their favorite target appears to be Christians.  This possibly could be the worst regime, with the most evil ideology of all time.  American men and women, standing tall as soldiers, sailors, and airmen,  have taken this on and risk their lives daily to protect us.  Though this may be a different kind of war, it is still war none the less.  Me must never forget their efforts and the sacrifices they have made to protect us and our freedom…

 

bvbbsg Afghanistan-War

 

As Christians, even here in America, we often need to make a stand.  I find it hard to believe that in our great country we still need to make sure we do not lose our religious freedom.  But, we do!   The current Culture of Death that seems to be more prevalent today in our society, must be challenged and defeated.  This can be done in various ways, but so many people here in America aren’t even aware that a problem exists.  Take my profession for instance, medicine and the health care industry.   What could possibly be bad about health care in America?  Don’t you guys save lives?  Well, I would have to say that most of us try to.  But, unfortunately, not all.  Watch any one of the horrific videos made by the Center for Medical Progress and you can see where I am coming from.  Planned Parenthood, caught literally in the act of the illegal selling of “baby parts”, totally denies this and then hides behind a false euphemism of women’s health care.  And the mainstream media as well as left leaning politicians, all join symbolic hands and praise  the good things that Planned Parenthood does for women!    After that, the first thing that comes to my mind is a quote from  LBJ after he heard then Vice President Nixon’s famous Checkers Speech, “Boys I don’t know much, but I know the difference between chicken s#$& and chicken salad.”

 

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Rather than just ramble on about this topic, things can be done to change.  For example, in our current Congress, a bill is being proposed that will  help those of us in the health care industry make a stand against the Culture of Death and still keep our jobs… ( I cannot believe that we have to get a bill passed to do this in our country) It is called, H.R. 4828, The Conscience Protection Act of 2016.  This will protect, say a nurse, that has been asked to assist on an abortion.  The nurse can say no, without being fired or reprimanded, and also can see that these rights get enforced by the courts of law.  Here is the link to that petition with information.  Please read and sign this petition to get this bill on the floor!.

 

http://cqrcengage.com/cacatholic/app/write-a-letter?0&engagementId=215053

 

Folks, we need to write our congressmen about all this nonsense as well as other issues facing us.   Also, we do have access to the ballot box, and from there, we can bring about much needed change in our culture, society, and great country.  We still can call America the Land of the Free.  We just may need to be more active in the process to make sure we stay that way…

 

Perhaps things may need to change at home for some of us.  I know that I definitely need to pray more, read the Bible more, and watch TV a lot less.  As a husband, I have a responsibility to my wife to love her as Christ loved the Church, and gave Himself  for it.  That’s a tall order, not to be taken lightly.  Before anything else, we need to make sure that our own hearts are indeed right with God.  We must go to confession regularly and attend Mass, at least on Sundays.  We need God’s Grace, and we get that through the Holy Sacraments.  Another way to help would be to pray the Rosary every day.   Pius IX stated, “Give me an army saying the Rosary, and I will conquer the world.” 

 

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We can talk with God through our prayers, and he can talk to us through his Word.  We have these tools on hand and we need to make good use of them.  I find this all very easy to write down but difficult to actually do in real life.  It sounds like I need more of His Grace if I am to practice what I preach!  Hopefully then, I can make a strong stand for Him.

 

;o;j ;o ;

 

1Archangel_Michael

 

 

St. Michael The Archangel, Defend us in Battle!

Ave Maria!

To Those that Paid the Ultimate Price…

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I wanted to write something profound and fitting for Memorial Day, but sometimes words just don’t suffice.

Our precious Freedom, that we often take for granted, came from one source….

 

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The best way to celebrate this Memorial Day would be to make a habit out of saying a simple thank you to our Veterans for their service.

 

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Joshua 1:9

 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; be not frightened, neither be dismayed; for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

 

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Ave Maria!

Joy of Spring, Joy of the Church!

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Springtime often lightens the spirits in all of us.  The trees bloom, the birds sing, and living things seems to become more vibrant… Spring symbolizes a renewing or a rebirth.  Easter comes in early spring and we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord.  Often, in springtime we make new plans or start new projects… There must be something in the air, for this phenomenon seems to be contagious.  A lot of folks get spring fever

 

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May, rightfully stands as the month devoted to Mary, the Mother of God.  Nothing on this earth seems more fitting or proper… Our Lady deserves our veneration.  After all, she accepted the will of God, gave birth to His Son, the One that died for our sins on the cross and then conquered death by rising 3 days later.  Through Him, with the Sacrament of Baptism, we receive resurrection, rebirth, and a cleansing of our sins.

Growing up as a preachers kid, with the exception of Christmas time, we didn’t hear very much about our Blessed Mother… How unfortunate to miss out on something so significant to Christianity.   Mary seems like a quiet, simple and unassuming character in the New Testament.  Unless of course, one looks deeper into the Word, and into the typology from the Old Testament.    Put that all together, and she becomes the most blessed and spectacular person on earth!  In order to be the Ark of the New Covenant, she had to be perfect and without sin.  She did not need to slay Philistines with the jawbone of ass, or kill a giant with a small smooth stone.  She didn’t need to part the Red Sea, or step into a fiery furnace.  All she had to do was accept the will of God and raise and protect her child.  However, in the process of all this, she crushes the head of the serpent, Satan!

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God provided Moses with specific instructions on building the Ark of the Covenant.  In order to carry the Presence of God, it had to be perfect.  Thus, Mary had to be perfect also.  For she carried the Word made flesh.   Obviously, with my Protestant background, I never realized this or saw it in the Bible.   I am so glad to be Catholic now, for my eyes have been opened to see more of the fullness of the truth!

This last Pentecost Sunday, just a few days ago, our Priest showed us more exciting typology regarding Mary, the Ark, and the Holy Spirit.   He spoke from 2 Chronicles where King Solomon, along with 120 Priests, brought the Ark of the Covenant out in the temple.  The Presence of God came as cloud and filled the House of the Lord.  Then, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offerings.  Father then compared this event to the first  and second chapters of Acts.   Where the Apostles, Mary the Mother of Jesus,  and others numbered about 120 in the upper room.   Then a rush like a mighty wind came forth and the Holy Spirit descended upon them with tongues of fire.  I get amazed every time I see another example of how the Old Testament ties in so close with the New… One of my Dad’s favorite quotes he often used from the pulpit came from St. Paul,  Romans 15:4  For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope.

 

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Oh how I wish my Father could see this and I could talk with him about the Lord… I had many chances to do that when he was alive, but I never cared or exhibited any interest during my selfish youth.  I have deep seated regret for that and probably will forever… But, I truly believe he would be happy and proud of my interest now, even though I am a Catholic!  My Dad looked and listened to the heart, he had a special gift.

I love the Church, and I love learning more about our Lord.  As long as I keep praying and trusting in Him, that desire for knowledge will only deepen.  But, we are not alone and we have a lot of help.  We have the Communion of Saints and direct access to the Church Triumphant!   This does not mean we speak to the dead or worship those gone before us.  On the contrary, these great Christian examples that live in Heaven are by far more alive than we are here on earth in the Church Militant.  The Saints, the angels, and the Blessed Mother all want to lead us closer to Jesus.  We do not worship them or place them equal or above God in any way.  Saint Louis Marie de Montfort said this regarding veneration to the Blessed Mother…

“We never give more honour to Jesus than when we honour his Mother, and we honour her simply and solely to honour him all the more perfectly. We go to her only as a way leading to the goal we seek – Jesus, her Son.”  True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin, #94

 

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God made us in his image, and he gave us 5 senses.  That gives me 5 more reasons to like the Catholic Church.  It has a unique way of appealing to all of them.  We have statues, icons, colorful vestments, the wonderful smell of incense, and the sounds of heavenly bells.  Most importantly, we have bread and wine that once consecrated by the Priest, becomes the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of our Lord.  We partake of this Holy meal at every Mass.   We do this as He commanded.  We do all of these things just to get closer to God.

 

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Here are some good links to more about the Ark of the New Covenant…

https://stpaulcenter.com/studies/lesson/lesson-three-the-ark-of-the-new-covenant

4 Biblical Reasons Mary Is The New Ark of the Covenant

A link here to the film, Full of Grace 
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St. Louis de Montfort   Pray for us!
Ave Maria!

4 Admonitions from St. Paul

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1 Thessalonians 5: 15-18 

15 See that none of you repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to all. 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 

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We here in America, and all over the world for that matter, need to commit to memory these few sentences from St. Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians.   Then, try to actually apply them to our daily routine.   I know this would help me.  Comfort and Grace shows up when we finally realize and accept, that God has the controls…

1. See that none of you repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to all.   I believe that standing up for our rights, and protecting our families or ourselves does not constitute rendering evil for evil.    But, when I reflect on my thoughts and feelings, maybe I need to take a longer look at this line.   When I hear a spokesman from Planned Parenthood talk about all the good they do for women’s health care, I react with anger.  I certainly cannot say that I am acting in a Christ-like manner when I day dream about turning a fire hose on the weenie college students that feel they don’t have a safe enough space away from conservative ideals…   Jesus told us to love our enemies and to pray for them.  An easy task, right?  No, this maybe the hardest of all, but we have to give it our best.  I have a long way to go to get this one scratched off my list.  I am more inclined to turn into the Hulk after watching the news, than to turn into a Saint.

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2.  Rejoice always.   Normally, this should be an easy admonition to follow.  But, when we get wrapped up into all the earthly goings on, it’s no small no wonder we can’t rejoice.    We need to follow the Word, Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight.  If you belong to the Church, the Body of Christ, then rejoicing always should come naturally without any  question.   

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3.  Pray without ceasing.   I know that I do not pray near enough.  I try harder to pray now days, but I still have a long way to go.  I doubt if I am alone here.      St. Francis de Sales once said, “Every one of us needs half an hour of prayer a day, except when we are busy – then we need an hour.”  While writing that quote down it came to me that I can’t remember the last time or anytime where I actually prayed for an hour… I need to change that.

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4.  Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.   Nothing exists that isn’t of God.  So, we need to be thankful for everything, good and bad.  I try to do this often, but I know I don’t thank God enough.   In spite of all the political problems in our country, we truly are blessed here.  Though we must stand guard that our religious freedom stays protected, we do not have to worry about being tortured or killed just because we serve Christ.   Many Christians in the Middle East suffer and become Martyrs.  We must never take anything for granted and always give thanks to God.  

 

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Ave Maria!

 

 

An Epidemic of Apostasy & A Lack of Common Sense…

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Common sense no longer seems to exist in places where it should be thriving… Institutions of higher learning seem to be lacking this virtue more than any other location on planet earth.    You know, not that very long ago, 18 and 19 year old college kids stormed the beaches of Normandy to help keep the world free from evil.   Now, just last month, 18 and 19 year old college kids called the authorities at Emory University because someone wrote in chalk “Vote Trump” on the steps.  This horrible act of hate they say, made them feel unsafe.   People, this stuff cannot be made up!  The so called intelligentsia will someday be in charge of this country.  I can’t fathom  a more scary thought than that…Now I need my safe space!

 

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As crazy as this all looks on paper or on the screen, this ranks low compared to what happened earlier this month at  Loyola Marymount University, a Catholic institution of higher learning.  An employee of this Catholic University expressed her views to some students that only two genders exist, male and female. She also asked if the students  had permission to post the sexually explicit flyers they were posting.  She mentioned that they were inappropriate for a Catholic university.   LMU authorities were called in, along with members of the LAPD to investigate a hate crime.  What could this hate crime possibly be?   Denying transgenderism of course!  Also, disrespecting a person’s existence.  Well, suffice to say, the authorities suspended this 15 year employee without even a hearing!  Okay, I could see something this ridiculous happening in the quad at UC Berkeley or at Humboldt State. ( I did not say I agree with it happening, I said I could see it happening) Obviously, political correctness has gone way too far into fantasy land.  Common sense has left the building…I don’t mean with the students in question.  The administration clearly lost their minds when they suspended an employee for defending Catholic faith, on a private Catholic university campus!

 

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I can say this with authority because I went to doctor school… There exist in our world only two genders, male and female.  They are both very different, yet they compliment each other.  Now, I am not bragging here, but I knew that to be a fact long before I became a physician!   This should not be new information for anyone in the civilized world.  Remember what God told Noah in Genesis 6:19, “And of every living thing of all flesh, you shall bring two of every sort into the ark, to keep them alive with you; they shall be male and female.”     I guess I need to really go out on a medical limb here and state this, “Life cannot exist without one of each gender.”

 

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Fortunately, not all Catholic colleges bow to political correctness and the current trends of a society gone mad. Nevertheless, LMU plans to have former President Bill Clinton deliver the commencement address this year!  Seems to me, an epidemic of apostasy has plagued some of our most prestigious Catholic universities these last few months… Georgetown, Notre Dame, San Francisco, just to name three.

 

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Why have these places turned away from the teaching of the Church? I just can’t figure that one out.  Well, we need to believe the Word.  What Our Lord said to St. Peter in Mathew 16:18, ” I will build my Church and the powers of death shall not prevail against it.”   We have voices, and we need use them.  We also can vote, and this year may be one of the most important election years in history.  The prevalent culture of death in our country can be defeated, but that won’t be easy.  Pray hard, pray often, and pray for those opposed to our beliefs.  We won’t be walked on any longer, but we need to fight with compassion and love for our enemies.    Pray for the intercession of St. Michael to defend us in battle.  Let your voice be heard and when you go to the ballot box make sure your vote supports life.

 

btygwrghrhy                                    1Archangel_Michael

 

https://www.facebook.com/notes/anthony-gonzales/when-a-catholic-university-publicly-renounces-the-catholic-faith/1083184975076716

 

St. Michael the Archangel, Defend us in Battle

Ave Maria!

Be like Father Damien…

 

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The new decade had arrived, 1840…  Soon, there would be great cause to celebrate the new year at a small farm in Belgium.   Anne-Catherine De Veuster, a fervent Catholic, Flemish farmers wife, gave birth to a future Saint!   Jozef  De Veuster, today known as St. Damien of Molokai.  He came into the world on January 3,1840 in the  village of Tremelo in Flanders.   Think of it, a small farm in Belgium, in the 1840’s…. Seems rather peaceful.  I have a feeling though, the farmers of that day and age were plagued with a lot of the same hazards and stresses that farmers face today.  We know that  the De Veuster’s had some economic problems.  Young Jozef had to stop school and work the farm.  He must have done well because his Father wanted him to stay on and run the business.   He had developed a fabulous work ethic as well as good skills.   But Jozef, a devout Catholic, wanted to follow in the footsteps of his siblings and serve the Church.  He felt the call at an early age to be a missionary.  He would often pray before a painting of St. Francis Xavier, the patron Saint of missionaries.  Asking for intercession to allow him to go deep into Asia on a mission of his own….

 

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On October 7th, 1860, Jozef took the name  Damien, after St. Damian,  a physician and early Martyr of the Church.  He then joined the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary.   At the time, his superiors felt he didn’t have enough formal education to be a Priest.  However, he learned Latin on his own and with some help from his older brother.  Seeing this determination, the superiors relented, and he was allowed to become a Priest.  About 3 years later, Damien’s brother, Father Pamphile, received orders to go on a mission to the Hawaiian Islands.  However, due to an illness, he could not make the journey.  His younger brother Damien went in his stead.  This answer to Damien’s prayers took him to Honolulu Harbor in March of 1864.   He became Father Damien when he was ordained there on May 21, 1864.

 

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Imagine being a newly ordained Priest, 25 years old, and your first post is Honolulu…That must have been exciting.  Fortunately, we have letters that Father Damien wrote during his vocation.   They offer keen insight into his personality.  Often when we think of Priests, we think of old grey haired guys that spend most of their time at the dinner table… Father Damien, on the other hand exhibited a robustness, and vigor not that common with “men of the cloth”.  Here is an excerpt from one of his early letters from Hawaii

“I had to visit a group of Christians, but how was I to get there? The village was perhaps the most inaccessible in the whole archipelago. One side was blocked by the sea, and the other by rock cliffs of extraordinary height. The track is manageable until one arrives at a beautiful valley; but then there are at least 12 miles of ravines and rocks to cross. The Protestant minister needs two hours to climb the first rock cliff! I personally can do it in forty-five minutes, though I do admit it leaves me out of breath…Moreover there are at least another ten ravines so wedged in that each one is like climbing a mountain. The path is impracticable and it is not possible to travel it with an animal” (March 1865).

Not all Priest’s have the gift of being a pastor.  Damien quickly took on the role of a pastor and did well.  He could find joy in almost any situation.  Look how proud he was for beating the Protestant missionary up the cliff!  He spent his valuable time tending his flock… He preached, taught, and built chapels.  He developed a rapport with his people and they greatly appreciated his effort.  He would often write letters to his older brother, Father Pamphile.  Who though a missionary, spent his time back in Europe teaching school.  Reading the letters shows more of Damien’s robust personality.  He seems to be complaining a bit, but not whining.  And his complaints all seem to be geared towards not being able to do enough for the people he ministered to.  Remember, he hasn’t even seen the leper colony at Molokai yet!  I am sure he needed to vent some frustration, and who better than his older brother back in Europe…

“I’m going to tell you now what I do during the week. After mass I often give a little talk. Then it is breakfast, always with poi [baked, fermented taro root]; after that (at least for the last seven months) I take off my cassock and grab the saw. Only with a lot of sweat have I been able to build some chapels that are decent both inside and outside…Still more sweat and then comes a terrible hurricane that knocks down…two chapels! …This year I will be able to dedicate more time to visiting the sick and to studies, providing that Divine Providence does not send me other worries” (letter dated October 23, 1865).

“Unfortunately, what is the missionary life if not a tapestry of pain and misery? One passes all the time in unrewarding tasks like Martha and very little time at the feet of the Lord like Mary Magdalene. Happy the missionary who only has to concern himself with his ministry! We, on the other hand, have to concern ourselves with the material aspects of our mission stations, something which can cause us a lot of worry” (letter dated October 24, 1865). 

 

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For nine years, Father Damien served the needs of his parish.  There existed in Hawaii, though barely, other folks that desperately needed a good pastor and Priest.  By this time, leprosy had become an epidemic in the Hawaiian Islands.  The government could only come up with one grave solution…  Round up all the people infected with the disease and quarantine them on an island peninsula that they could never escape from.  Thus came the leper colony of Molokai.  How truly hopeless life must have been for these poor souls.  No physical escape from Molokai possible, they resorted to escaping by other means.   Much like folks do today, escaping with drugs and alcohol.  Some felt that they had no reason to live anyhow, they might as well go out enjoying themselves the best way they can.  Unfortunately, with a group of people all ready depressed and living the drug and alcohol lifestyle, sexual abuse becomes more prominent.  These poor folks had no hope, and no one seemed to care for their needs.  There were not allowed to see their families.  People went to Molokai for two reasons- To prevent the spread of leprosy, and to die.

Eventually, enough people heard about the horrors of Molokai and tried to help the situation.  But, going to Molokai had become synonymous with a death sentence…  That makes the task much more difficult to finding any good volunteers.  Nevertheless, the Catholic Church asked for a Priest to volunteer to go to Molokai and help.   At the end of summer in 1873, Father Damien was one of the first to accept this call.

“Do not touch them, do not eat with them,” were the commands issued from Damien’s superiors.  However, he knew he couldn’t follow that rule and successfully minister to these poor folks.  He knew very well that Jesus went into the homes of the unclean, he ate with them, touched them, and most of all loved them.  Father Damien would have to do the same, anything less would be wrong.  So, much like his first Hawaiian parish, Father Damien served as cook, dishwasher, nurse, doctor,  carpenter, teacher, preacher, pastor and Priest.  He wrote in one of his letters that he was becoming “quite the doctor”, much like his patron Saint, the first Saint Damien.  He felt that he could lead these people to salvation, by first trying to alleviate their suffering.  He bandaged their wounds and cared for them in anyway possible to make them comfortable.  Damien placed himself at risk in order to care for those that needed help.  I believe that would be the very type of love that Jesus wants us to bestow to all mankind.  Most of us, me included, seem to have a hard time doing that.

The life of St. Damien of Molokai has been written about in many books, and also portrayed on the big screen.  His life, was one of total service and devotion.  There exist many fabulous stories about actual events that occurred and the various little things that Damien did that mattered so much to the people he cared for.  This blog post isn’t meant to be a partial biography of St. Damien in any way.   Those can be found just about anywhere these days.  People though, need to know about heroes.  And this one here can appeal to just about everyone on the planet, believers as well as non-believers.

We Christians, have at our grasp, the ability to ask for the intercession of members of the Church Triumphant! They can pray for us, just like we pray for our friends and family members.   We can look up to these folks for inspiration, and we can try to emulate their lives. St. Damien of Molokai risked his life to help those less fortunate.  He didn’t do this for money or fame.  He did this because he knew it would please God.  No cure for leprosy existed during Damien’s life at the Molokai Colony.  The first effective treatment didn’t arrive on the scene until the 1940’s.  Nevertheless, the impact made by a simple Belgian farm boy turned Priest, echoes throughout the world.   Likeness’s of St. Damien can be found in the Hawaiian State capitol building, Statuary Hall in Washington DC, and in Belgium.  An amazing, deserving tribute indeed to someone that truly showed the love of Christ to others.

My favorite tribute to Father Damien came from a woman in Hawaii afflicted with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.  Like leprosy during Damien’s time, ALS in our time has no cure.  This lady, Peggy Chun, became an accomplished painter late in her life.  She developed the incurable ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s Disease, and kept on painting.  She used her hands as long as she could, then she would paint with her mouth.  She had an idea for a painting of Father Damien, and she wanted to give the work to the Pope.  This lady could now only communicate by blinking her eyes.  With a great deal of patience, and the help of other assistants and artists, Peggy Chun communicated every brushstroke by blinking.  She completed the painting.  The great work made it to the Vatican and the hands of Pope Benedict XVI for Father Damien’s canonization on October 11, 2009.  Peggy had passed away nearly a year prior…

 

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http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/pope_benedict_to_receive_paralyzed_artists_portrait_of_fr._damien/

http://www.swordofthespirit.net/bulwark/january2012p5.htm

 

St. Damien of Molokai, Pray for us

Ave Maria!

 

7th Anniversary!

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7 years ago, I married my best friend and soul mate.  God blessed me with this at a time when I didn’t think I would ever find love again.  She led me back to God, and for that I am eternally grateful.

Selfish desires,  my standing in the community, and money existed as the most important things in my life.  I know now that love conquers all, that God is in charge, and nothing else really matters that much.  Our marriage brought about that much needed change.

 

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So what kind of gift to you get for someone that has changed your life?  A person that loves you unconditionally, prays for you constantly, and always greets you with a smile.  Well, it will have to something real special…

My wife prays daily and often.  She has a way of looking at our crazy world with a positive outlook and she always finds good in just about everything.  She has been an inspiration to me and I don’t believe I tell her enough just how much she means to me.

Trying to build our home out in the Nevada desert has been joyful experience.  But, a while back we were discussing the need for a chapel of some kind.  A place out on the property we love, where we can pray, read, and give thanks to God for all our blessings.  Of course I became more focused on drilling a well, and getting our home built.  But, in the back of my mind, I knew that we really needed to have a place on our land that was devoted solely to God, the One that made this whole endeavor possible.

So, for our 7th anniversary, and my wife’s birthday, I scrounged up some cash and had a chapel built.  She deserves this gift more than anyone else I know.  I am not writing this to tell everyone, “Hey look what I did.”  No, I am a sinner and all the glory for this gift goes to God.  I couldn’t change my selfish and stubborn ways without His help.  He brought us together.  Her devotion,prayer, and love made this all possible.

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Thanks be to God

Ave Maria!