Good Shepherd Sunday

19 April 2015

by Fr. Francis Xavier Weninger, 1876

“I am the Good Shepherd.”–John 10.

In today’s Gospel Jesus calls Himself the Good Shepherd, and well does the title become Him. Many other names are given to our Lord in Holy Writ. He is called “God” and “Lord,” the “Father of the Family,” the “Promised Messiah,” the “Saviour and Redeemer of His People.” That He deserves them all, every well-instructed Christian readily understands; for He is, indeed, both God and Lord the Father of the family, which, as Messiah, He has redeemed and saved.

Good Shepherd MainOne name, however, is especially applicable to Him, that of the “Good Shepherd.” Christ calls Himself, emphatically, the Good Shepherd; and it is profitable for us to consider what this title of Christ means, as the elect are frequently typified by our Lord and His Prophets as sheep. The more clearly, then, we realize what the shepherd is to the sheep, the more ready and willing shall we be to follow Christ, our Good Shepherd, as His faithful sheep. Let its, therefore, today consider Christ as the Good Shepherd, and reflect on the qualities that entitle Him to this appellation.

Mary, thou who art next to Christ, the Good Shepherdess of His flock, thou zealous and first follower of the Lord, pray for us, that thy divine Son may acknowledge us as His sheep, and may be to us a Good Shepherd our Redeemer, our Lord! I speak in the most holy name of Jesus, for the greater glory of God!

Christ calls Himself the Good Shepherd, and such indeed He is. To prove this, we need only think of the attributes which Christ mentions as belonging to a good shepherd. The first of these is: “To know his sheep.” Every good shepherd, of course, knows his sheep; but none know their flock so well as Christ knows His. Even the most careful shepherd is not always able to recognize a sheep that has strayed from the flock, so that he may lead it back to the fold. Christ, however, as Good Shepherd, knows every human soul which He redeemed, and knows it better than the soul knows itself He knows every one. He knows the thoughts, the words, the wishes, and the actions of each all his good and all his evil inclinations. He has a thorough and complete knowledge of each and every man.

A good shepherd calls his sheep, that they may remain near him, and not stray away from the flock and the good pasture; and the sheep know His voice. How perfectly Christ possesses all the qualifications of a Good Shepherd! An inner and an outer voice is continually calling us. He admonishes, instructs and guides us by His voice. We hear it in the depth of our heart, through the inspirations of His grace, and we hear it, too, in the admonitions and warnings of those whom He has installed as His vicars upon earth.

Happy are we it we listen to this voice, if we follow it, and avoid the dangers which threaten our salvation! Happy are we if, when tempted, we make use of all those means of evading the persecutions of Satan which Christ points out to us! The good shepherd loves his sheep, and goes before them. How admirably our Lord fullills this duty to us! “I am the way,” He cries to us, “follow Me.” “I am the Truth and the Life.”

The path of virtue and perfection lies before us, glorious in the light ot our Lord’s example an example of the perfect fulfillment of the great commandment of loving God above all things and one’s neighbor as one’s self. If we but follow the voice of Christ, it will guide us in the way of salvation, into the best, the most nourishing of meadows, which is His Holy Word–the instructions and the graces which He imparts to us through His Church. How refreshing, strengthening and delicious is this pasture! Nor is this all; but He does for us what no other shepherd does for his sheep, He sacrifices Himself for us, and nourishes its, soul and body, with His sacramental flesh and blood.

What a Good Shepherd! And, to accomplish this, what does He do for each one of us? He not only leads us by His almighty power and goodness towards heaven, but He also offers Himself up daily for us all in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. “A good shepherd,” says our Lord, “protects his sheep.” And Christ promised His powerful protection to His Church, which is the flock of the Good Shepherd, when He said: “The gates of hell shall not prevail against her;” nor shall they prevail against any of His children who make use of those weapons and means of salvation which He intrusted to them.

Yes, the most holy name of Jesus alone protects us triumphantly in every danger that threatens our salvation, for no one shall be conquered or lost who pronounces with confidence this holy Name, and with it calls for help. For, to protect and save us, Jesus gave His life, and the last drop of His blood. This Christ did for us His children, His sheep. Never has an earthly shepherd done a work like this; never could it have been done. Where was there ever found a shepherd who was wounded and slain for his sheep? Yet Christ was wounded and slain for us! “He has delivered Himself for me,” can every soul exclaim gratefully and lovingly with St. Paul? For me, He was born one cold winter’s night; for me, He fled into Egypt; for me, He remained working in Nazareth; for me, He bore all the toils of His apostolic life; for me, He was scorned, scourged and crucified! What a Good Shepherd!

A good shepherd guards his sheep; but still, at the last, every sheep becomes the prey of death. Christ, the Good Shepherd, calls to us: “He that believeth in Me, although he be dead, shall live.” Death, since Christ has redeemed us, is no longer to us what death is to a sheep, namely, destruction. No; through Christ, the Lamb of God, sacrificed for us, we have a right to exclaim: “O death! where is thy sting?”

Oh, the goodness our Shepherd shows to us, especially if we consider the relationship in which this Good Shepherd stands to us! As Shepherd, He is at the same time our Father, who has made us children of God. He is our Brother, and a Brother who has taken to Himself our nature, and elevated it above the choirs of angels. He is our Friend, and what a Friend! He gave His life for us! He is our King, and how generous, how wise, how grand a Monarch, who will place us all on thrones! He is our Bridegroom, and what a union awaits us with Him in the joys of heaven!

Let us follow Him like good sheep, that He may lead us into the fields and meadows of Paradise! Amen!

 

“My sheep know Me, and hear My voice.”–John 10.

No one doubts that Christ has the right of calling Himself our Good Shepherd, since the qualities which He mentions, when speaking of the good shepherd, are strikingly apparent in Himself. But is it qually clear that we are His sheep? Do we bear the marks which Christ gives us to recognize His sheep? How many, alas! of those who, because they have been baptized and educated in the bosom of the Church, style themselves Catholics, deserve that reproach of Christ, which we find in the Apocalypse: “Thou hast the name of being alive, and thou art dead “(3 – 1).

Reflecting on the marks by which Christ distinguished His sheep, and listening to the secret revelations of our own consciences, let each one examine and see if, perhaps, this reproof of Christ be not directed to himself. In this manner will each one be able to determine whether he belongs or not to the fold of Christ, the Good Shepherd. What, then, are the marks which, according to the words of Christ, distinguish the true sheep of the fold? I will point them out to you today.

O Mary, devotion to thee is one of the signs by which the true sheep of Christ’s fold are recognized, pray for us, that we may receive the grace not only to be called Catholics, but also to live a Catholic life! I speak in the most holy name of Jesus, to the greater glory of God!

In the words: “My sheep know Me,” we have the first sign by which Christ describes His sheep. In how few of the many who call themselves children of the Catholic Church can we trace this sign in its full and comprehensive significance? There are multitudes who believe in Jesus Christ, and outwardly fulfill their duties as children of the Church, and yet are strangers to that intimate knowledge which their close relationship with Christ, as souls redeemed by Him, naturally supposes. How many, who, though baptized, live like children of the world, without further instruction, and know Jesus only in name!

They know Him as the Redeemer and Saviour of mankind, but are grossly ignorant of the beneficent and manifold relationship in which He stands to them as the Dispenser of the innumerable blessings of redemption. How many fail to grasp the meaning of the words: “Jesus our Father!” Ah, how loving a Father! It is He that restored to us the glorious birthright of the children of God, which we had lost in the fall of Adam and by our own personal sins, thus becoming children of Satan instead of children of God.

How many understand not the meaning of the words: “Jesus our Lord and King!” and fail to appreciate the happiness of being His subjects, soldiers of the Church militant, fighting valiantly under her standard, and strong in the hope of reigning one day with Christ, the “King of kings!” How many fathom not the meaning of the words: “Jesus our Brother!” Through the mystery of the Incarnation, Christ has become in very deed our Brother! How many consider not the meaning of the words: “Jesus our Friend!” How great a Friend has He not been to us! He has shed the last drop of His blood for us; and we know, according to His own rule, that “greater love no man hath, than that a man lay down his life for his friends!” Finally, as a reward of His friendship, He invites us to share with Him the joys of heaven. How many know not the meaning of the words: “Jesus our Light!” Yet He is “the true Light that enlighteneth every man who corneth into this world.” How many ponder not the meaning of the words: “Jesus our Counsel, our Example, our Guide!” Still what a depth of instruction they contain! He is, indeed, our Counsel, our Example, our Guide; and He Himself calls upon us: “Follow Me.”

Lastly, how many understand not the meaning of the word: “Jesus our Solace, in all the woes and trials of life; Jesus our Hope; our Strength;–Jesus the Joy of our heart;–our All!” This intimate knowledge of Jesus Christ we secure by prayer, and, especially, by devotion to the blessed Sacrament of the altar. That there is no more effectual means of acquiring a personal knowledge of Jesus Christ than frequent communion with Him present upon our altar, is the testimony of all who have reached that sublime union of which St. Paul speaks, when commending the hidden life through Christ in God.

Therefore, if we consider the lives of the majority of those who call themselves Catholics, how few shall we find among them who can say in the full acceptation of the words: I know Jesus! If we possess this personal knowledge of God, then our lives will be stamped with those other characteristics, which Christ enumerates, when He speaks of the sheep whose Shepherd He is.

He says: “They hear My voice, and follow Me.” Doubtless, if our knowledge of Christ be real, it will be inseparable from a desire to please Him, and, hence, to know and fulfill His will. Is that your case?–“They hear My voice, and follow Me.” How certain, how characteristic a sign of the true sheep, the true follower of Christ!

In order to understand the inspirations of the Holy Ghost, and to hear and follow the voice of Jesus, we must not only be thoroughly in earnest and filled with a great longing to do His holy will, but we must also be animated with that loving confidence, which is so well symbolized by the sheep following the voice of the shepherd and crowding around him. They hear My voice, and follow Me with true self-abnegation, perseverance and love of the cross, upon the path which I walk before them.

The true sheep of the flock of Christ flee all the occasions of sin, and dread losing sight of Him. They are watchful, and seek the protection of their Shepherd at the slightest approach of danger. The real sheep of the fold of Christ understand how to use those means which He bequeathed to His Church, in order to heal the wounds her children may have received from the wolves of the spiritual life, and they know, moreover, how to guard themselves against new attacks.

As this trait of being with Christ is distinctive of His sheep, so, too, is that abhorrence they experience for those hirelings who seek to corrupt them, and for the wolves of sinful inclinations, which threaten to tear them to pieces. Christ as the Good Shepherd protects them by His gracious providence, and they follow Him as predestined souls towards the pasture-lands of eternal life ! Amen !


Good shepherds do not flee from the wolves.

19 April 2015

The Inaugural Mass of Pope Benedict XVI

Originally published 1 May 2010 A.D.

From the blog of Father John Zuhlsdorf: WDTPRS

Five[ten years ago presently] years ago Pope Benedict sat down to preach at the first solemn “inaugural” Mass of his pontificate.

Inter alia he said:

One of the basic characteristics of a shepherd must be to love the people entrusted to him, even as he Pope+Benedict+XVI+Holds+First+Mass+Saint+Peter+CSkBJBo_CSDlloves Christ whom he serves. “Feed my sheep”, says Christ to Peter, and now, at this moment, he says it to me as well. Feeding means loving, and loving also means being ready to suffer. Loving means giving the sheep what is truly good, the nourishment of God’s truth, of God’s word, the nourishment of his presence, which he gives us in the Blessed Sacrament. My dear friends – at this moment I can only say: pray for me, that I may learn to love the Lord more and more. Pray for me, that I may learn to love his flock more and more – in other words, you, the holy Church, each one of you and all of you together. Pray for me, that I may not flee for fear of the wolves. Let us pray for one another, that the Lord will carry us and that we will learn to carry one another.

The Good Shepherd, and those shepherds after His Heart, do not flee from the wolves.

I read in CNA:

Head of Italian Senate: Pope not afraid to ‘face the wolves’ in the Church

SchifaniRome, Italy, Apr 29, 2010 / 09:11 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The Holy Father has “never been inert in the face of suffering and injustice,” the President of the Italian Senate said as he reflected on the impact of the five years of Benedict XVI’s time as Pope. The politician noted that the Pope has opted to “face the wolves” rather than avoid addressing difficulties such as cases of priests who sexually abuse minors.

The address from the leader of the Italian Senate, Renato Schifani, took place during a Wednesday evening presentation organized by the Congregation of the Children of the Immaculate Conception, which was themed “The world suffers for a lack of thought.”

Likening the Holy Father to the “messenger” of the Gospel, the image of the pastor and the fisherman, Schifani said that “Benedict XVI really knows that loving means being ready to suffer, and as pastor he gives witness to (Him) who has truly made history with men.

The day after his election, noted Schifani, the Pope asked for prayers for strength to confront “the wolves.”

Reflecting on the Pope’s attitude since then, Schifani observed that, “Facing the hidden dangers, the betrayals, the scandals, the open and painful wounds of the Church, Benedict XVI doesn’t flee out of fear before the wolves.More…



A Profound Observation on Fulton J Sheen & Today’s Social Media

15 April 2015

 

5 Things Fulton Sheen Teaches Us About Social Media

 
Posted on April 13, 2015 by: Br. Patrick Mary Briscoe, O.P.
Posted at Dominica Blog

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This post is the first part of a series on Archbishop Fulton Sheen.

“Jesus loves you.” #JN3:16 #Easter #risn

“Pray. Hope. Don’t worry.” #faith #believe

“Preach the Gospel at all times” #Francis #peace #prayalways

Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest and countless other platforms are filled with almost empty Christian one-liners and other messages. Oftentimes trite sayings are re-tweeted or shared along with some kind of exhortation to “spread the word.” Since you’re a Christian, you can feel guilted into supporting this sort of thing, to do your share of evangelization. Believe me, I’m committed to building up a Christian culture, but sometimes I can be downright ashamed of that content. In the most extreme cases it can feel like not sharing whatever image or quote “because you’re a Christian” is a denial of Jesus himself.

So what about social media evangelization? Is tweeting 140 characters going to convince someone of the Gospel? The Church refuses to be absent from the conversation—that alone tells us something important. Pope Francis (@Pontifex) has some 5.87 million followers on the English language account (over 15 million if all the eight language groups are added together). The Church is called to be leaven for the world, and that means continuing to share the light and hope of the Gospel message, even on the web. Msgr. Paul Tighe puts it this way, “If we withdraw, then we’re leaving those areas to the trolls. We’re leaving it to the bullies.”

While few people may think that the Church should absent herself from the “new media,” many might wonder what good it all does. Will seeing a Scripture passage in someone’s Facebook news feed actually help infuse a soul with an abundance of actual graces, even the grace of justification? It seems unwise to just close that door. The workings of Providence are mysterious, and the Creator loves using instrumental causes to achieve his aims. Far be it from this theologian to declare the internet an option banned from God’s playbook.

The Holy Father offers one helpful way to define our Catholic web presence in light of the following goal: building a culture of encounter. “The great challenge,” says Pope Francis, “the great challenge facing us today is to learn once again how to talk to one another, not simply how to generate and consume information.” Genuine evangelical encounters demand authentic relationships and true exchanges. This is our aim, then, to use the web to nourish these encounters, which prompted and directed by God’s grace, may bear fruit in countless lives.

But who can we look to as an example for how to do this? The innovations of the “new media” are by definition without precedent. Nonetheless, I think we ought to appeal to the life and teaching of Fulton Sheen. By mining the example of his life and teaching, we can deduce some principles to guide our e-preaching.

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1. Relationships – By the time his show stopped airing in 1957, Archbishop Sheen had a viewing audience of some thirty million people. People loved his presentation of the Gospel because it felt like he was talking to them. Sheen never used a teleprompter or idiot cards. He was a professor, so he did what he loved doing—he taught. He taught the audience, and they responded as his students. Sheen managed to build, across the barriers of microphones and screens, personal connections to his audience, the very real relationship of a teacher and his students. On social media, we too have to find a way to bring people into our little “broadcasts”—our likes, posts, and shares—and build real relationships with our friends and followers. Sheen didn’t use his shows to proselytize; he left it to his audience to conclude that his words should draw them to Someone Else whom they needed in their lives. In Sheen’s own words, “There is a need to take hold of tortured souls like Peter, agnostics like Thomas and mystics like John and lead them to tears, to their knees or to resting on [Christ’s] Sacred Heart.”

2. Panache – Whatever might be said about Fulton Sheen, it can’t be said that he lacked style. The whole world knows his cassock and episcopal cape (called a ferriola). Sheen appeared on television wearing the garb of the tradition. His vesture sent a clear message: my job is real and so are my words. But the show was also strikingly simple. His only props were a piece of chalk and a chalkboard. This combination of noble simplicity should guide the aesthetic choices of the e-Gospel, which can send such a strong message without even offering words. Our websites should be handsome and easily navigable. The pictures we share should be striking and beautiful. Our designs should be clearly inspired by our traditions, and we should eschew art forms and depictions that are discontiguous or incompatible with our work. The Church—even on the web—should feel like the Church.

Editor’s Note: I am so LOVING number two!!! Inspired to make Always Catholic even a better blog! Catholic bloggers get with it…we are far off on this.
For the rest of this brilliant essay, please click
HERE for the rest…


Heaven’s Last Best Gift: Marriage as the Final End in Persuasion #JaneAusten

15 April 2015

By: Br. Aquinas Beale, O.P.
April 11, 2014 (Original Date of Publication)
Posted at Dominicana Blog

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The fifth in a series considering considering Jane Austen in light of Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas
“Above all other blessings Oh! God, for ourselves, and our fellow-creatures, we implore Thee to quicken our sense of thy Mercy in the redemption of the World, of the Value of that Holy Religion in which we have been brought up, that we may not by our own neglect, throw away the salvation thou hast given us, nor be Christians only in name.” —from Jane Austen’s Prayers

One of the characteristic aspects of all of Austen’s novels is that they end in happy marriages for the heroines. Several modern literary critics have wondered at the motivation behind this feature of her novels, given that Austen herself never married. Is it the case that she was vicariously living through her characters? Was she simply giving the readers what she knew they wanted? Or is there perhaps something more profound motivating her use of the marriage construct? Some critics have speculated as much. For example, one can find traces of a critique of the French Revolution in Pride and Prejudice, complete with an ‘English’ solution: a marriage between the middle and upper classes.

Here, I would like to offer quite a different allegorical interpretation of the marriage plot as used by Austen. It is easy to consider the marriages simply as the reward for the virtuous efforts of her heroines, especially considering that each one is brought about through a Deus ex machina. They all have struggled through the challenges of life and have come out on the other side as women possessing and growing in virtue. From this perspective, then, marriage is the end towards which the virtuous lives of her heroines are directed. Turning Henry Crawford’s allusion to Milton on its head, for Austen’s heroines, marriage is heaven’s last best gift.

Such a notion of a final end that rewards all the trials of a virtuous life is by no means foreign to virtue ethics. In the Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle identifies the end of the virtuous life as contemplation; it is this state of rest to which every act of virtue is directed and in which true happiness consists. Like true friendship, contemplation is sought for its own sake; it is the most self-sustaining form of life and the most pleasant of activities. Building upon Aristotle, St. Thomas Aquinas identifies the final end of contemplation with the beatific vision. For St. Thomas, the virtuous life is framed as a way of perfection which finds its consummation in the last end: beatitude. It is the greatest good to which all other goods are ordered, and, holding that human actions are ordered to the good, St. Thomas concludes that the beatific vision, final happiness, is the fulfillment of all of human action. Ultimately, it is a rest that is given by God, that perfects all our potential, and that satiates all desire: heaven’s last best gift.

One of the virtues closely associated with man’s final end is hope. According to St. Thomas, it is hope of the final end that gives way to charity, which is the perfect love of God. So in a way, hope is one of the final virtues that must be acquired before the end can be attained. In Persuasion, it is precisely this virtue that Anne Elliot acquires throughout the course of the novel. She, who had been “forced into prudence in her youth [and] learned romance as she grew older,” must now learn to hope in order that she may know happiness once more.

As the novel begins, Anne is surrounded by harbingers of fading life: the time of year is autumn, her father’s line is in danger of extinction, and her family must let Kellynch Hall in order to make financial ends meet. On top of all this, she is oppressed by the prospect of her former lover once again being near her, and when he does arrive, she is made miserable in his presence. Mistakenly, she prepares herself to meet him with as much indifference as possible and to “teach herself to be insensible on such points” as meeting him and hearing others speak of him. In short, she harbors no hope for happiness and looks only to avoid as much pain as she can manage.

In the closing chapters of the first volume, there are such exquisite descriptions of the fading year that one cannot help but imagine that their narration is tinged by Anne’s despondency as she struggles to endure the affliction of a renewed, yet torturously more distant acquaintance with Captain Wentworth. Anne struggles to derive pleasure from “the last smiles of the year upon the tawny leaves and withered hedges,” mining the reserves of the contemporary poets for an “apt analogy of the declining year with declining happiness, and the images of youth and hope, and spring, all gone together.” She is withering in spirit, as she has done already in beauty, and she does not become fully aware of her closeness to despondency and despair until her discussions with the unfortunate Captain Benwick, in which she counsels him in “moral and religious endurance” in the face of the temptation to mourn ruefully over lost love.

And yet, in these last chapters, the reader finds the faintest glimmer of hope for new life and happiness in Anne’s reflections and experiences. After her conversation with Captain Benwick, she realizes just how close she had come to despairing of happiness, having sought to console another in his own loss and instill hope for the future. The morning after this conversation, Anne’s outlook begins to change for the better. She looks on nature with a more positive outlook than her November walk, praising the morning, glorying in the sea, and delighting in the fresh-feeling breeze. This internal change is mirrored by her external appearance, as she, along with Mr. Eliot and Captain Wentworth, finds herself coming into a second bloom of softened beauty.

Once she arrives in Bath, Anne begins to hope more consciously for greater happiness in life, freed from remorseful recollections of her actions in the past. Aided by the exemplary behavior of an old, poor school-fellow and the news of Louisa’s engagement to someone other than Captain Wentworth, Anne fully embraces this newfound virtue and lives in hopeful expectation of a life of happiness that is yet to come.

Of course, she is rewarded with marriage to the man she loves, but in comparison to the rest of Austen’s heroines, Anne stands out as living the most independent life of virtue; even the paragon of all things good, Fanny Price, does not quite learn to expect happiness apart from marriage with Edmund before providence intervenes. Anne’s is a more mature hope for happiness, which is not too surprising considering her superiority in age (Anne is, by far, the oldest of Austen’s heroines). Such a development is in line with Aristotle’s conviction that complete virtue took time to perfect and mature and, consequently, was rarely found in the young. The difference can also be seen in Anne’s ability to instruct others in virtue and Fanny’s conviction that she would be ill-suited for such a task.

As a result of her more solid foundation in virtue, Anne begins to develop a more independent sense of virtue. Impressed by the upbeat disposition of her poor and ailing friend, Mrs. Smith, Anne begins to contemplate a more stable and permanent source of happiness than that which the goods of this passing world can provide. Even before she begins to seriously hope for a life of happiness in a marriage to Captain Wentworth, Anne has proved herself capable of sharing in the happiness of others with little concern for any of her own selfish desires, as the many episodes at Uppercross and Lyme illustrate. More importantly, in the midst of her concern for the happiness of others, she does not compromise her own standard of happiness (“her feelings were still adverse to any man save one”). While it does not entirely depend upon the fulfillment of any single desire, Anne’s happiness does rest on a hope that finds its eventual fulfillment, its final rest, in love. Likewise, in this life, the gift of hope points us to our final rest: the vision and love of God.

Image: John Atkinson Grimshaw, In Peril (The Harbor Flare)

About the Author

Br. Aquinas Beale is originally from West Virginia, and studied Political Science at the University of Virginia, receiving a Master’s degree in 2010. He entered the Order of Preachers in 2011.


Fulton Sheen and the Playfulness of the Gospel

14 April 2015

Posted on April 14, 2015 by: Br. Innocent Smith, O.P. at Dominica Blog

Fulton-Sheen-Dominican-missionaries-8-31-1956-e1428941559970

This post is the second part of a series on Archbishop Fulton Sheen.

St. Philip Neri once remarked to a Dominican friar, “All that I have of good I owe to your fathers of San Marco.” Could the same be said of Fulton Sheen?

In his autobiography, Sheen speaks movingly (and amusingly) about his friendship with a certain Fr. Smith:

fjs quotes

While it would perhaps be going too far to attribute all of Fulton Sheen’s goodness to Ignatius Smith, it is striking to note the aspect of joy and good humor that Sheen associates with Smith. (Although Sheen doesn’t give any specific examples, one story that is part of the oral tradition at the Dominican House of Studies is that Ignatius Smith, a talented organist, would occasionally slip in a few bars of “Goodnight Ladies” into the recessional as the good Sisters were departing from Sunday Vespers.) Ignatius Smith was able to share a sense of joy with his friend, which Sheen in turn passed on to his students. Entering the classroom laughing, Sheen could give the whole classroom the opportunity to get in on the joke.

For St. Thomas Aquinas, the great master of Fulton Sheen and Ignatius Smith alike, the virtue of eutrapelia (playfulness or pleasantness) is necessary in order to have a proper balance in our lives and to avoid the soul becoming overburdened with seriousness. As Sheen writes in his autobiography, “[T]here is a close relationship between faith and humor. We say of those who lack a sense of humor that they are ‘too thick'; that means they are opaque like a brick wall. Humor, on the contrary, is ‘seeing through’ things like a windowpane. Materialists, humanists, and atheists all take this world very seriously because it is the only world they are ever going to have. He who possesses faith knows that this world is not the only one, and therefore can be regarded rather lightly.”

We are but pilgrims in this present world, journeying to our heavenly homeland. But we have a choice: we can be like whining children, grating the ears of their parents in the front seats with cries of “are we there yet?”—or we can entertain our fellow pilgrims with humor and good cheer.

Image: Archbishop Fulton Sheen blessing Dominican missionaries to Lebanon and Pakistan (Dominican House of Studies, Washington, D.C., August 31, 1956)

Thank you to Dominica Blog. Please visit there for so much more on Fulton J Sheen and other authentically Catholic reading.


Fulton Sheen Week! It’s ON!

13 April 2015

Posted on April 13, 2015 by: The Editor at Dominicana Blog

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This week, The Catholic University of America is hosting “Archbishop Fulton Sheen Week.” As his cause for beatification is underway, the University chose this year to celebrate Sheen’s life, as 2015 marks the 75th Anniversary of Sheen’s first television appearance (Easter Sunday, 1940, at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, New York City). At that time, Sheen was celebrating the 10th anniversary of his Catholic Hour Radio Show. He would later go on to host a television series, Life Is Worth Living, a major step for the Church in evangelization through media.

Dominicana Journal will be publishing blog posts on Sheen this week, in conjunction with CUA’s efforts to celebrate his life and promote his cause. A full schedule of events at CUA can be found here, as well as a video archive of Sheen’s time at the University and elsewhere.

Recordings of Sheen’s Life is Worth Living series are available here (in mp3) or you can download the app!

Image: Sheen at prayer


Divine Mercy Sunday: The Mercy AND Justice of God

12 April 2015

Editor’s Note: Mercy and Justice work hand in hand. Very rarely spoken of today except by holy priests who are true to the Faith. They are admonished for it and are suffering as “white martyrs”. Pray for them.

from Catholic Harbor of Faith and Morals

Divine Mercy Sunday
12 April 2015 A.D.

Christ the KingSin is a separation of the sinner from God, a servant’s desertion of his master, the son’s abandonment of his loving father. When man offends the Lord by transgressing His holy law, he says with Agar: “I flee from the face of my master.’ with the difference, however, that Agar fled from a severe mistress; the sinner, however, flees from His most merciful and good God, upon whom he impudently turns his back. In this miserable state the sinner will walk in the wrong path, from one abyss of crime to another. his punishment is already assured; hell is ready to swallow him.

Richly has he deserved destruction, but God in His great mercy wishes to save him. The sinner can, of himself, do nothing to return to God, but God, as it were, goes after him. he follows the straying creature, He seeks him out, calls unto him, and invites him to return to His lovingly outstretched arms.

Let us today consider the greatness of Divine mercy, and, at the same time, give attention to the fact that:

Only the contrite sinner may profit by this mercy, while the unrepentant sinner gains nothing, because the mercy of God is never separated from His justice.


The Mercy of God

Mercy comprises in itself, as St. Thomas remarks, two sentiments, that of sadness at the misfortune of the neighbor, and that of willingness to deliver him therefrom. God in His infinite love commissioned His only begotten Son to clothe Himself in our human nature, so that He might have compassion upon our misery, and sympathize with us. The Divine Word, however, was not content with sympathy for our ills, He wished to take upon Himself man’s punishment for sin, even death, so that the endurance of these sufferings would render Him all the more sympathetic to our misery. Hence, St. Paul writes, that Jesus Christ has an infinite compassion upon mankind, because He, although innocent desired to test the sufferings and the misery we endure, and through His own sufferings learn to have mercy and compassion upon ours.

dm imageThe Divine Mercy is eternal, and He will have mercy on the contrite as long as He is God. Hence David sang: The mercy of the Lord is from eternity unto eternity upon them that fear Him. For from all eternity God decreed to make happy them that fear Him, to save them from every misery, in particular from damnation. To this end, Divine Mercy anticipates the actions of the just, it accompanies and guides them until death. God embraces all in His fatherly arms, great and small, rich and poor; no one is excluded who turns to Him with contrition. We read in holy Scriptures: “But thou has mercy upon all, because thou canst do all things, and overlookest the sins of men for the sake of repentance: (Wisdom xi.24). no matter how numerous and grievous your sins, the mercy of God is greater and ready to forgive them. God delays the punishment so that the sinner may become converted.

God’s great mercy for the contrite sinner is testified to by Jesus Christ, especially in the beautiful parable of the prodigal son, After this unhappy youth had squandered his father’s substance by vicious excesses, he found himself in want and privation. He reflected upon his father’s kindness of heart and determined to turn to him and ask pardon for his misdeeds. And he had not even reached his father’s home, when the father, filled with love, hastened toward him, embraced him tenderly, and, without reproach for his shameful life and the gravity of his offenses clothed him anew, and rejoiced in his return, because he was happy at the conversion of the son who had been lost.

The Justice of God

The recalcitrant sinner, however, who is over confident of the Divine Mercy, will be all the more severely visited by the justice which he feared not. In order to understand this extremely important truth, we must remember that mercy and justice shine forth equally strong in every Divine action: His mercy always presupposes His justice. Whether God punishes or rewards, He does so always with regard to the graces that man has used or misused. Hence, we must not forget that the Divine justice will be exacting toward us.

Dear Brethren, we have abundantly experienced the Divine Mercy in ourselves. Raise your eyes to the crucified Jesus, and at the sight of God Incarnate, Who bled upon the Cross, in order to deliver us from Hell, and lead us to heaven, you will perceive the most extreme effort of His love. We have been born in the bosom of His holy Church, we have been led by the light of the Catholic faith, received nourishment for our souls in the Holy Sacraments, instructed through His holy gospel. But if, instead of corresponding to these graces by a righteous life, we multiply our sins, then we become worse than unbelievers, and the misuse of the mercies of Divine goodness will burden us with the wrath of Divine justice.

God is all benevolence and kindness, but when we take this as an indulgence to sin, we forget that God is also just. As the Divine clemency and goodness should encourage us, so, too, His justice ought to make us fear. God is all merciful, but reflect for how many years He has endured your sins, without punishing them; now, at any moment, stern justice may follow upon this great mercy. God is good, but His goodness cannot stand in opposition to His sanctity; it cannot foster weakness, it cannot favor hatred, nor sensual passions, it cannot encourage injustice and fraud, nor does it intend to populate heaven with profligates and adulterers. It is a just judgment of God that those who have ignored His mercy should be made to feel the effects of His justice.

Oh, sinner, upon you and upon you only, it depends to choose whether God should be your merciful Saviour, or your stern judge. You can now obtain mercy from God through contrition and penance; and upon your free will depends eternal death. Your stubbornness in sin will ultimately involve a severe judgment. God is all love, and desires the salvation of all. Nevertheless, he lets us have what we choose, be it punishment or reward. Amen

God’s Justice Toward Sinners

We read in the Gospel that our Divine Redeemer wept over Jerusalem, that unhappy city, so hardened in sin, because He foresaw its terrible destiny. His tears bear witness to His Divine justice, and they were shed also for every sinner who refuses to listen to God’s warnings and admonitions, or to the voice of confessors, and wastes the time of grace and repentance, putting off his conversion until the end of his life. Such a person will perish because he fails to recognize the days of his visitation, of admonition and of grace. God’s justice requires that this should be so. Let us today consider how this justice is displayed in God’s dealings with sinners.

The Mercy of God is Tempered with Justice

God is merciful; this is stated on almost every page of Holy Scripture. His mercy embraces heaven and earth, and includes even the most hardened sinners, as we see from the fact that our Saviour wept over the sinful city of Jerusalem. But God’s mercy is tempered with justice, for He is infinitely just, as well as infinitely merciful. His justice constrains Him to requite every man as he deserves, and our divine Redeemer, in speaking of the day of judgment, proclaimed this fact, for He said that the good would be rewarded, but the evil would hear the terrible sentence: “Depart from me, ye cursed into everlasting fire, which was prepared for the devil and his angels.” Even here on earth, God often punishes and rewards in such a way as to reveal His justice. We have an instance of just punishment in the destruction of Jerusalem, the city that knew not the time of its visitation and would not perceive what would be to its peace, not even on the day when our Lord in all meekness and humility entered the gates whence he was soon to come forth, bearing the heavy Cross amidst the jeers of the citizens. Jerusalem continued in sin until at length God’s mercy was exhausted, and His justice was brought down by the crimes of the wicked city, just as once it had consumed Sodom and Gomorrha.


God is Just in Punishing Sin

We must not be astonished if God’s justice constrains Him to punish hardened sinners; for if He invariably showed mercy and never inflicted punishment, He would wrong the good, who suffer much at the hands of the wicked, and He would actually encourage the evil to defy Him by continuing their sins and vices. When God punishes and condemns, He does so because sinners practically compel Him to punish them. He desires not the death of a sinner, but a sinner desires his own death, and demands it, as it were, of God’s justice. God acts like a king bringing a criminal to trial and condemning him to death in accordance with the law. In His compassion, He would fain save the wrongdoer, but He is prevented by justice, that has already given sentence against the sinner, and by the fact that mercy is true mercy only when it can be exercised without injury to justice.

The Justice of God Warns Us Against Presumption

We must never presumptuously rely upon God’s mercy when doing so involves a violation of His justice. Men are very prone to presumption of this kind. “God is a loving Father,” they say, “He is sure to forgive me,” and so they go on heaping sin upon sin, not thinking that this loving Father is also a stern and just Judge. Oh, you who continue presumptuously in your sins, always pleading in excuse for them that God is merciful, beware lest you share the fate of the inhabitants of Jerusalem–God’s vengeance fell suddenly upon the wretched city, when it was besieged by the Romans; many thousands perished by the sword, and still more died of starvation. It is gross presumption and a sin crying to heaven for vengeance, when a man persists in evil, relying on God’s mercy. In such a case a habit of sin is quickly formed, and this gives rise to obduracy and despair, that lead to hell. Our Lord shed tears over Jerusalem, but he did not save it; He wept over the city, but nevertheless He allowed it to be destroyed. In His mercy God is now calling you to do penance and be converted; if you do not obey and obey quickly, misery as great as that which fell upon Jerusalem may be your lot, and you too may perish suddenly and for ever. The God who did not spare a whole city and nation, but was obliged to sacrifice them to His justice, will not spare any sinner, when the measure of his guilt is filled up. We ought then to remember God’s justice, and not rely presumptuously on His mercy. Let us anticipate His judgment by doing penance and earnestly striving to amend whatever has been amiss in our lives hitherto. Fear, a wholesome fear of sin and of God’s justice, not a slavish fear, ought to accompany us through life, and then we shall some day meet in heaven around the throne of the Father of Mercies. Amen


Love and Friendship: Virtue and the Varieties of Relationship in Pride and Prejudice

12 April 2015

12 April 2015 A.D.

By: Br. Aquinas Beale, O.P.
April 10, 2014 (Original Date of Publication)
Posted at Dominicana Blog

P & P

The fourth in a series considering Jane Austen in light of Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas.

“For all whom we love and value, for every friend and connection, we equally pray; however divided and far asunder, we know that we are alike before Thee and under Thine eye. May we be equally united in Thy faith and fear, in fervent devotion towards Thee, and in Thy merciful protection this night.”
—from Jane Austen’s Prayers

“Happiness in marriage is entirely a matter of chance. If the dispositions of the parties are ever so well known to each other or ever so similar beforehand, it does not advance their felicity in the least. They always continue to grow sufficiently unlike afterwards to have their share of vexation; and it is better to know as little as possible of the defects of the person with whom you are to pass your life.”

Such are the thoughts of Charlotte Lucas concerning the nature of the relationship enjoyed by husband and wife. In her mind, the happiness that accompanies true friendship is not a necessity for a good marriage but is, rather, a blessing that is a bonus in cases of good fortune. Given her outlook, there is no surprise that Charlotte agrees to marry a man for whom she has little or no esteem. In so doing, she provides a sharp contrast with her friend, Elizabeth, who—though not a complete romantic in her own notions of matrimony—has a higher estimation of the relationship that ought to be shared by spouses.

Throughout each of Austen’s novels, friendship plays a prominent role. Catherine Morland learns the distinction between true and false friends by comparing the fickleness of Isabella Thorpe to the constancy of Elinor Tilney. Isabella seeks Catherine’s friendship only for the sake of furthering her own prospects, whereas Elinor continually shows an earnest interest in Catherine and seeks to comfort her in her trials. In Emma, Mr. Knightley expresses great concern over the heroine’s lack of a proper friend from whom she can derive true benefit. Even among Austen’s men, in Persuasion, Captain Wentworth receives support from his friend, Captain Harville, in weathering the storm of his passions and his reason after Anne breaks off their first engagement.

While he does not delve much into spousal relationships, Aristotle does consider friendship to be one of the chief fruits and aids to the virtuous life. Aristotle identifies three kinds of friendship which, though distinct, are not necessarily exclusive. First, there is the friendship of utility, which is based upon the usefulness each party derives from the other. A second kind of friendship is that which is based upon pleasure, which lasts only as long as one derives enjoyment from the other. Finally, there is true and perfect friendship, which is sought for the sake of the other. This last friendship proves to be the most lasting because it is based upon goodness of character, which has an enduring quality, whereas the other two kinds pass away once utility and pleasure can no longer be derived from the match.

Reflecting on the nature of virtuous friendship, Aristotle notes that true friendship does not readily exist where there is great inequality. Primarily, this observation applies to the varying levels of virtue in people. Where there is a perceived lack of virtue and understanding, there will be a lack of respect, thus precluding any possibility of a mutual appreciation of the other for her sake. This mutual relationship, built on an appreciation for the other, implies that the true friend will rejoice over the other’s happiness and mourn over her misfortunes. When he does briefly consider the relationship between a husband and wife, Aristotle notes that it can be founded upon any of the three kinds of friendship but that the best marriage will be the one rooted in true friendship.

In Pride and Prejudice, all three types of friendship are on display. Of the two imperfect kinds of friendship, the marriages of Lydia and Charlotte provide good illustrations. The marriage between Lydia and Mr. Wickham proves to have no other foundation than that of the pleasure one can gain from the other, and, as it turns out, there is no intention on the man’s side to fully pursue the marriage until he receives financial incentives to do so. In the case of Charlotte, she is well aware of her position in society and that her future economic security depends greatly upon her marriage, but she is also aware of the silliness and shallowness of Mr. Collins and the little hope she has of ever esteeming him. Nevertheless, she not only welcomes his overtures, but even seeks them. In these marriages, there is no proper foundation of mutual care and respect for the other. Mr. and Mrs. Bennet provide a prime illustration of the risk that such couples run if they do not base their marriage upon a solid relationship. Mr. Bennet has found that he cannot esteem his wife, while Mrs. Bennet does not care for that esteem and respect. As a result, their household crumbles beneath them, to which Lydia’s unrestrained, unprincipled behavior testifies.

Determined not to follow in the footsteps of her parents, Elizabeth approaches the question of marriage with a steady reasonableness, avoiding the potential advances of Mr. Wickham even before she fully knew his character due to the imprudent nature of a match with little money on either side and hints of inconstancy on his side already beginning to show. The reader is also assured of her own resolve not to marry for mercenary motives either, as she scorns her sister Jane’s attempts to defend Charlotte’s marriage. On this occasion, Elizabeth emphatically asserts that “[y]ou shall not for the sake of one individual, change the meaning of principle and integrity, nor endeavour to persuade yourself or me, that selfishness is prudence, and insensibility of danger security for happiness.” And while she eventually learns to think of Charlotte’s decision in a less critical light, she still recognizes that the level of mutual trust and friendship could never be the same between Charlotte and herself, due to such a fundamental difference in principles.

Of course, Elizabeth does find the man she can love and respect in Mr. Darcy. Though one might suspect she harbors a trace of the mercenary motive given that her affection began once she had been to Pemberly, the narrator provides enough insight into her thoughts to assure the reader that Elizabeth’s affection is founded upon her growing respect for Mr. Darcy’s taste and true, generous character. Likewise, while Darcy’s love may have initially begun as a sort of infatuation with her unorthodox beauty and playful character, he grows to truly appreciate and esteem her character.

Ultimately, Austen proposes a model for relationships that may appear rather unsatisfactory to a modern reader’s notion of romance. Elizabeth’s attraction to Mr. Darcy may very well be described as rational, founded first of all upon an appreciation for his taste and judgment rather than an attraction to his appearance or behavior. Nevertheless, with such a foundation, Austen assures the reader that Elizabeth and Darcy will have an enduring marriage. Confident in her expectations of happiness, Elizabeth compares her felicity to Jane, who “only smiles,” whereas she laughs.

Image: Sir Thomas Lawrence, A Double Portrait of the Fullerton Sisters

About the Author

Br. Aquinas Beale is originally from West Virginia, and studied Political Science at the University of Virginia, receiving a Master’s degree in 2010. He entered the Order of Preachers in 2011.


“Porn Industry and Modesty”: a 23 yr old woman tells us the hard truth.

11 April 2015

 

Porn Industry and Modesty

by Layna Hess at her blog,
My Thoughts, My Words

Purity

I thought I would take the time to write about something a bit different. It’s something I am passionate about. I love books, and I enjoy reading as much as the next person. Unfortunately, I believe that there are some books that should simply be burned due to the fact that they are poisonous to the mind.There is a book called 50 Shades of Grey, and recently the movie came out. As a female, I must say I find it rather appalling due to the fact that they constantly engage in BSDM–and to those that are not aware of what this is, it’s nothing more than a celebration of rape, pain, abuse, and disrespect towards a human being. This is the constant trash that you would find in porn. Porn treats a body not as glorious reflections of the image of God, but as sources of sin and temptation.

I’m not sure what I’m more concerned about. The fact that this is socially “acceptable” entertainment, or the fact that women enjoy reading this. The core to this is: we don’t have a positive example for our children. The divorce rate is 50%. We live in a society where broken families is the norm, and we have kids growing up without a mother or a father..sometimes both. In this instance, I will be speaking about fathers. There are many girls growing up without that father figure. A girl’s first love should be her father. Unfortunately, in today’s society this isn’t always the case. A father should be there to give the parental love and affection they need, and to show them what they deserve for later on in life. Boys, never having a male role model around to tell them how to treat women with respect and love. Aside from our paternal father, we should be looking to our Heavenly Father first and foremost as the ultimate example.

But, what is teaching our children? The porn industry, which teaches us violence against a human being. It teaches us to degrade another life. Some would use the term “violence against women”, but two people take part in the act, both people are at fault in my eyes.

Let’s look at some statistics:

statistics

  • 80% of 15-17 year olds have been exposed to hard core porn.
  • 67% of men and 59% of women said that porn was acceptable.
  • Studies have shown porn is more addictive than heroin or cocaine.

On top of all of this, we have sex trafficking that takes place in the world. We are disgusted at those who would hold women and children as sex slaves, deny them their human rights, and make them mere objects for sexual pleasure. At the same time, pornography is tolerated, accepted, openly defended, and even celebrated. What you might not know is that many women and children who are being sexually exploited and trafficked are also being used for the production of pornography.

Reading these statistics saddens me, especially since I have known people that have struggled with porn. It breaks my heart. Impurity chains your heart, and clouds your mind. What you choose to feed your brain makes a difference. To those that struggle, every single time my advice is to pray constantly. Pray for the graces to be pure, and stay close to Mary through the Rosary. Even though porn may not seem “real”, it is. You aren’t dealing with just a woman. You aren’t dealing with just a man.You are dealing with a daughter of God. You are dealing with a son of God. His creations are meant to be respected and loved. His creations are not meant to be mistreated, abused, and lusted after for ones own selfish pleasure. Treat him/her, accordingly. It might take more than prayer to beat the addiction. I highly suggest spiritual guidance/counseling. Because it is a selfish act, true love becomes harder to find. Love is about self giving and sacrifice. Christ is the perfect example of love.

One should really contemplate on the selfish aspect alone.
Just try to imagine. You are spending hours pleasuring yourself to impure images and various videos, you begin to become obsessed not only to the pornographic material, but to yourself. You don’t know how to embrace the sacrifice that true love is designed for. Instead you view others as toys for your own selfish entertainment that are designed to fulfill every want and need—just like the pornographic material. A Christ love is about giving and serving. It’s about sacrifice. What kind of love is narcissistic and abusive?

So, what can we do to help others remain pure?

For the rest of the post, and a positive, Catholic and loving answer from a very smart young woman…CLICK HERE!


ACTION ITEM! Support Our Lady of Hope Clinic! via @FatherZ

11 April 2015

Our Lady of Hope Clinic is a cause I personally support. This Catholic health clinic here is Madison WI is an example of how professional, caring physicians, nurses and others give to those in need. The Teachings of the Catholic Church are upheld without question.
Many times Catholics want to give to certain national causes only to find out that the organization is at odds with Church Teaching. What’s a faithful Catholic to do?
My suggestion is to give locally. Give to ONLY organizations which are truly Catholic. First, give to your priest personally. For example, Father Zuhlsdorf has a ministry where he must raise money to continue to minister millions on the Internet. A worthy cause.
Giving to an order of nuns you know are orthodox and not jumping on a bus to protest Catholic Teaching. The Dominicans of Summit NJ are one of many good choices.
If you want your money to go directly to help the healthcare of those in need who do not want to be pressured to have an abortion or to go on birth control or who cant pay the difference owed in Medicare, Our Lady of Hope Clinic, Madison, Wisconsin  is the place.
It is a beautiful facility with doctors and health professionals who provide excellent healthcare according to Church Teaching and do so joyfully.
What follows is Father Zuhlsdorf’s post announcing their fundraiser near the end of April. Please consider donating even a small amount. Your money will go DIRECTLY to care for someone truly in need.

God love you,
Sofia
……………………………………………………………………………………………

 

Posted on 9 April 2015 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf
at his blog, “Father Z’s Blog”

olhopeI have an ACTION ITEM for you good readers. You have been generous to causes I have mentioned in the past. Sometimes people have a hard time finding causes to support. This is one of them that I admire.

I have written about Our Lady of Hope Clinic before. This is one of the worthiest causes I have seen for a while and it could use your help, wherever you are.

Read more HERE and HERE

This could be a new model for health care in a rapidly changing – disintegrating – time. The “Affordable” Care Act really isn’t. It is going to be harder in the future for people to get health care, not easier. And for those without much bucks?

They have a DONATION page.

Contact Julie Jensen, Director of Development, at Julie -AT- ourladyofhopeclinic -DOT- org, or by calling (608) 957-1137.

In the clinic you see a sign on the wall explaining that…

clinic sign“Our Lady of Hope Clinic practices medicine consistent with the teachings of the Catholic Church”

Therefore, they will not refer for abortion, prescribe contraception, refer for sterilization, refer for in vitro fertilization, etc.

And…

“We will practice in complete accord with the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.”

This is a worthy cause.

I received an email today, about a fundraiser event for Our Lady of Hope clinic. They told me that whenever I mention them on the blog, they get donations from all over.

15_04_08_OL_Hope

Thanks Father Z!


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