The Infinite Value of the Holy Mass

Fr. Peffley passed this along. It is food for thought and action:

The Holy Mass is the highest form of worship. It is the sacrifice of Calvary renewed. One Mass gives God more praise and thanksgiving and makes more atonement for sin and pleads more eloquently than does the combined eternal worship of all the souls in heaven, on earth and in purgatory. In the Holy Mass, it is Jesus Christ, God, as well as Man, who is our Intercessor, our Priest and our Victim. Being God as well as Man His prayers, merits and His offerings are infinite in value.

The Mass is the best means we have:

1. To render God the highest form of worship

2. To thank Him for all His blessings

3. To obtain reparation for all our sins.

4. To obtain all the blessings we desire.

5. To release souls from purgatory and shorten our own time there.

6. To preserve us from all dangers to soul and body

7. To be consoled at the hour of death, for at that moment their memory will be our greatest consolation

8. To intercede for us at the Judgment Seat of God

9. To bring down God’s blessings; therefore try to assist at Mass every day, or as often as possible

10. To better understand the sublimity of the Passion of Christ, and therefore, to increase our love for Him

Science vs. Religion — A False Conflict

I found an interesting article at RealClearScience about whether science and religion are irredeemably in conflict.  It argued that they were not and that the ‘debate’ we see is conflict arising from the two extremes not the reasonable middle.  Check it out.

How Often Should Catholics Go To Confession?

Are You There When You Need To Be?

Are You There When You Need To Be?

Stories abound about how often some notably holy people went to confession.  Bl. John Paul II is said to have gone to confession every two weeks.  Bl. Mother Teresa is said to have gone to confession every day.  Does that mean we of lesser holiness ought to be going at least that often? If not, how often?

Here is some advice that I received from a friendly priest about this question:

+     We should always go to confession when we are aware of having committed a mortal sin or a serious venial sin.  We should go as soon as possible.  Don’t hesitate to make an appointment with a priest if need be.

+     We may go to confession for regular venial sins, but should remember that the Church offers numerous ways to obtain forgiveness for those sins without full sacramental confession, such as the worthy reception of the Holy Eucharist.

+     We should be aware that any religious practice can become rote.  Going to confession for the sake of going to confession can becomes rote and is not a good practice.  We should go to confession when we are aware of sin, are truly sorry, and want God’s forgiveness.

+     Don’t be worried or discouraged if you seem to confess the same sins over and over again.  Just keep working on overcoming them with God’s grace.

+     We should pray for the Holy Spirit to enlighten our consciences so that we can avoid sin in the first place, know when we need to go to confession, and make a good confession when we get there.

photo source (wikimedia, creative commons, Adam Smith)

Men’s Communion Breakfast & Reflection at St. Patrick’s

It’s that time of year again to circle your calendar for a Men’s Communion Breakfast & Reflection at St. Patrick’s.
We had 3 of these events last year and all were well attended.  We’re hoping to keep the momentum going in
the Fall.

Here’s the game plan:

What:           Men’s Communion Breakfast & Reflection

When:          Saturday, September 10th,  7 – 9Am

Where:         St. Patrick’s Church – Rockville  (corner of Norbeck Rd and Muncaster Mill Rd)

Celebrants:   Msgr. Kevin Hart and Fr. Michael Paris

Reflection:    Witness & Conversion by Fr. Paris

Our speaker is newly ordained and St. Pat’s is lucky to have Fr. Paris with us.  Though a rookie, he’s up to the task
of challenging us in our life’s journey.  Let’s show our solidarity for our new padre and turn out in force.  Save the
date and tell a friend.

As always, please RSVP me and Matt Halbach ( 76halbach@cardinalmail.cua.edu) so we can get a good head count.

See you on the 10th.

Updated: How To Strengthen Your Faith In College

This post was published last winter.  Now that it is getting to be back to school season, it seems that now is a good time to re-publish it.  I added some additional thoughts at the end.

___________

Will The Crucifix Be There In Four Years?

How do you keep your faith in college? It can be done. 

The following advice was written by Peter Bullen, a Stanford grad, who has long been a member of the St. Francis of Assisi.

1.    Make a conscious decision to love every single person you meet.  Love is an action rather than a feeling, so it’s the key to living your faith actively.

2.    Love yourself because God loves you and you are His child.  College is hard, and you will fail sometimes, so you may have a hard time loving yourself, but if you don’t love yourself, it’s harder to love others and love God.

3.   Get involved in a Christian fellowship on campus.  Christian friends can support each other in their faith and encourage each other towards Christ.  We’re all members of the Body of Christ, so we’re meant to work together.

4.  Pray and share your faith with your friends.

5. Take time to pray when you have down time, such as when you’re walking to class.  Praying often helps you keep God at the center of your life.

6. Put your faith into your regular schedule.  For example, go to daily mass on a certain day of every week or read the Bible at a certain time.

7. Do not be afraid to ask questions about your faith.  Questions can help you grow if you take the effort to find the answers.

8. At times when you doubt your faith, be active instead of passive. Pray for stronger faith, talk to someone who has a strong faith, and learn more about your faith.

9.   Learn more about the mass and the Eucharist.  The mass can be so rewarding if want to love it.

10. Participate in a community service activity.  Faith without works is dead.

Update (August 6, 2011):

I would add a couple of thoughts to Peter’s excellent summary.

+    Everything your professors think they know about Catholicism is wrong.  Their mistakes will seep into their teaching (mostly) unknowingly and they will rarely reflect well on the Church and her teaching. Most often, they will say or suggest that Catholic Church believes “X” and imply that “X” is really stupid.  Stop and think: Would a billion Catholics believe it if it were really stupid?  Would the Church teach it if it were really stupid?  Is this professor really smarter than some of the most brilliant thinkers known to history — St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, Bl. John Paul II — thinkers who believed what the professor is mocking?  Uh, no.

So, if they tell you something troubling about Catholicism or the Church, ask someone who knows.  You will find either that the professor has misstated what we and you believe or that the professor simply does not know why we believe what we do — reasons that the Church has probably believed and taught for, oh-I-don’t-know, centuries.

+     “The greatest deception, and the deepest source of unhappiness, is the illusion of finding life by excluding God, of finding freedom by excluding moral truths and personal responsibility.”  Bl. John Paul II, 2002.

In college, you will experience new-found freedom.  Much of the so-called ‘college experience’ is nothing more than an attempt to find happiness by “excluding moral truths and personal responsibility.” Have lots of fun — just choose your fun well.

+     Grace.  Participate in the sacraments — they are the ordinary means of receiving sanctifying grace.  More than anything you need grace.  Grace opens the door to Heaven — nothing else.  Your faith will wither without it.

+     The Church Will Always Be There For You.  The Church carries within her and freely gives out a love like no other.   Your professors don’t.  The guy you met in the bar who’s plying you with drinks and pretending that he likes you doesn’t.  The girl who’s doing shots with you so she can forget what she’s about to do doesn’t. They won’t be there when the chips are down.  They will abandon you; the Church will not.

Updated: How To Strengthen Your Faith In College

This post was published last winter.  Now that it is getting to be back to school season, it seems that now is a good time to re-publish it.  I added some additional thoughts at the end.

___________

Will The Crucifix Be There In Four Years?

How do you keep your faith in college? It can be done. 

The following advice was written by Peter Bullen, a Stanford grad, who has long been a member of the St. Francis of Assisi.

1.    Make a conscious decision to love every single person you meet.  Love is an action rather than a feeling, so it’s the key to living your faith actively.

2.    Love yourself because God loves you and you are His child.  College is hard, and you will fail sometimes, so you may have a hard time loving yourself, but if you don’t love yourself, it’s harder to love others and love God.

3.   Get involved in a Christian fellowship on campus.  Christian friends can support each other in their faith and encourage each other towards Christ.  We’re all members of the Body of Christ, so we’re meant to work together.

4.  Pray and share your faith with your friends.

5. Take time to pray when you have down time, such as when you’re walking to class.  Praying often helps you keep God at the center of your life.

6. Put your faith into your regular schedule.  For example, go to daily mass on a certain day of every week or read the Bible at a certain time.

7. Do not be afraid to ask questions about your faith.  Questions can help you grow if you take the effort to find the answers.

8. At times when you doubt your faith, be active instead of passive. Pray for stronger faith, talk to someone who has a strong faith, and learn more about your faith.

9.   Learn more about the mass and the Eucharist.  The mass can be so rewarding if want to love it.

10. Participate in a community service activity.  Faith without works is dead.

Update (August 6, 2011):

I would add a couple of thoughts to Peter’s excellent summary.

+    Everything your professors think they know about Catholicism is wrong.  Their mistakes will seep into their teaching (mostly) unknowingly and they will rarely reflect well on the Church and her teaching. Most often, they will say or suggest that Catholic Church believes “X” and imply that “X” is really stupid.  Stop and think: Would a billion Catholics believe it if it were really stupid?  Would the Church teach it if it were really stupid?  Is this professor really smarter than some of the most brilliant thinkers known to history — St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, Bl. John Paul II — thinkers who believed what the professor is mocking?  Uh, no.

So, if they tell you something troubling about Catholicism or the Church, ask someone who knows.  You will find either that the professor has misstated what we and you believe or that the professor simply does not know why we believe what we do — reasons that the Church has probably believed and taught for, oh-I-don’t-know, centuries.

+     “The greatest deception, and the deepest source of unhappiness, is the illusion of finding life by excluding God, of finding freedom by excluding moral truths and personal responsibility.”  Bl. John Paul II, 2002.

In college, you will experience new-found freedom.  Much of the so-called ‘college experience’ is nothing more than an attempt to find happiness by “excluding moral truths and personal responsibility.” Have lots of fun — just choose your fun well.

+     Grace.  Participate in the sacraments — they are the ordinary means of receiving sanctifying grace.  More than anything you need grace.  Grace opens the door to Heaven — nothing else.  Your faith will wither without it.

+     The Church Will Always Be There For You.  The Church carries within her and freely gives out a love like no other.   Your professors don’t.  The guy you met in the bar who’s plying you with drinks and pretending that he likes you doesn’t.  The girl who’s doing shots with you so she can forget what she’s about to do doesn’t. They won’t be there when the chips are down.  They will abandon you; the Church will not.

The Constitution As Secular Religion

Our Church teaches us that each person has a religious sense — a deep-seated need to make sense of the world, our place in it, and to find happiness by transcending ourselves.  Religion meets this need by teaching us the an Almighty Father created us, loved us so much that He sent His only begotten Son to redeem us when we were lost, and calls us to happy with Him forever in Heaven.

What about people who reject this teaching, whether consciously or not?  Do they just stumble around asking questions (or evading questions)?  What do they do?

My observation is that people find a substitute for God and try to fill their lives with it.  I noticed an interesting example of this phenomenon today.  Jack Balkin is a leading constitutional scholar.  Balkin just published a new work on constitutional law to rave reviews.  The book is titled Constitutional Redemption: Political Faith In An Unjust World.  The blog Concurring Opinions quotes Balkin’s last paragraph:

Faith in the Constitution is really faith in a succession of human beings working through a framework for politics, adding to it as they go, remembering (and misremembering) what previous generations did, and attempting to persuade each other about how to make it work.  To believe in this project is to believe in progress despite human imperfection, and in what Abraham Lincoln called the better angels of our nature.  If we want to believe in the Constitution, we must believe that, flawed as we are, we can create a better world than the one we inherited.  If we want to have faith in the Constitution, we must have faith in ourselves.

I do not know Balkin’s perspective on religion.  The last sentence suggests to me a deification of the Constitution.  Do we want to have “faith in the Constitution?”  Can the Constitution forgive the littlest of my sins?  Can it provide a soul to my children?  Can it answer the deepest longings of my heart?  Can it fill the hole in my soul that longs for God?  No, it cannot.

Balkin realizes this.  He does not advocate faith in the Constitution.  He advocates “faith in ourselves.”  What an odd concept! Faith in who — when any newspaper, television show, and blog will bring you more news than you could ever want of people demonstrating that they are not the answer to that deepest longing.  Faith in what? A system of government? No.  If I could fulfill the longing of which I speak through faith in myself, then I wouldn’t have the longing, there would be no hole — nothing to draw me and us out of ourselves.

I do not know Jack Balkin.  He could be a very religious person for all I know.  But I do know that as important as the Constitution is, it is not God.  Everything that is not God is imperfect.  Nothing that is not God can fulfill us. Nothing, not even the Constitution.  Secular answers to man’s deepest questions will always come up short.

Blessed Are They Who Mourn

A Jesuit father once told me that tears are a gift from God.  He told me at my father’s funeral.  I cried.

How could this be?

The Holy Father (while still Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger) explained in his book Jesus of Nazareth.  There are, he pointed out, two kinds of mourning.  “The first is the kind that has lost hope, that has become mistrustful of love and of truth, and that therefore eats man away from within.”  We’ve all seen this in action and may even have experienced it ourselves.  It truly is a vortex: by playing on the soul’s mistrust in face of the event, it chooses further mistrust as the solution.  The soul is then trapped.

There is another kind of mourning.  The Holy Father wrote: “But there is also the mourning occasioned by the shattering encounter with truth, which leads man to undergo conversion and to resist evil.  This mourning heals, because it teaches man to hope and to love again.”  The tears I shed for my father were of this kind.  Left alone, I would have been lost in the vortex trusting ever less until I lost the capacity to trust.  But I wasn’t lost.  I wasn’t lost because the Jesuit father who I mentioned, through his own tears (he and my father were friends), helped to teach me to hope and to love again.

A Prayer For Young People

Bl. John Paul II concluded his homily at the Solemn High Mass at World Youth Day 2002 with this prayer.  It expresses so well what I think most parents want for their children, especially as they mature and begin to face new challenges and questions about their faith.

O Lord Jesus Christ, keep these young people in your love. Let them hear your voice and believe what you say, for you alone have the words of life.

Teach them how to profess their faith, bestow their love, and impart their hope to others.

Make them convincing witnesses to your Gospel in a world so much in need of your saving grace.

Make them the new people of the Beatitudes, that they may be the salt of the earth and the light of the world at the beginning of the Third Christian Millennium!

Mary, Mother of the Church, protect and guide these young men and women of the Twenty-first Century. Keep us all close to your maternal heart. Amen