Photo Essay: Connecting to the Christ Child’s Heart

    At the center of the plaza in front of the Shrine of the Blessed Sacrament is the statue of the Child Jesus extending his Sacred Heart towards us.  The heart of a child, broken of it’s innate narcism, recognizes the blessings Christ brings to us in some moment of silence.  For most of us, those childhood moments form the closest and purest connections to God we will ever have.  it is the closest we will ever come to touching the Sacred Heart of our Lord.  

    The reason is once we leave the narcism free window of youth, our lives get busy.  Our lives fill with noise and competition needed survive in the adult world.  The moments of peace needed to connect to God in the manger, at the Sermon on the Mount, on his cross, or arising from the dead in his glorious triumph over death get crowded out on the clock.  The devil uses our fallen world to challenge your attempts at connection to Christ using trials to us at work, his mocking us when our children go astray, or physical ailments used fogging our mind and blocking reception of God’s treasures bestowed on us.

    We should not lament on this spiritual torment.  We must accept it, and revel in the few moments of childlike joy we do get when our hearts open to the Lord.  We must treasure those moments as a triumph over the forces of Satan, and know this constant spiritual battle is the one the Lord encourages us to have.  A heart constantly striving for the Lord is one which never leaves faith or hope aside, and provides a path where charity can flower.

    See the striving heart, the one cutting through the distractions of the world, is a mature heart seeking Jesus Sacred Heart.  The striving heart completes the circle of spiritual life for those blessed with a childhood connection to the Lord.  See if charity flows through your heart to others, you again stripped yourself of narcism like you did as a child.  In the charitable acts you will build not just a moment of joy, but the potential for an eternity of heavenly joy with Christ.

-ehw

P.S. Thanks to Mom for the inspiration for this blog post!

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The Harvest of Salvation

    Many modern Catholic theologians, and clergy, assert the world’s population has a reasonable assumption of reaching heaven.  This theological viewpoint by nature runs over quite quickly into how they interact with the world through preaching, parish life and politics.  Although I am just a novice in understanding grand theological ideas; the assumption cannot be true due to conflicts with sacred scripture, Church Fathers teaching, and natural law.

    We are created in the image of God and built to share in knowledge and the life of God (CCC356).  Our capacity to do so however depends on each of us freely choosing to offer back to God all of the creation he provided to us (CCC358).  The stain of original sin on our nature makes it impossible to do be completely intimate with God without constant reliance on our Lord’s sacraments and teaching (CCC 402-406).  This results in the “hard battle…” of life in the real world where one who lives in ignorance of man’s wounded nature “gives rise to serious error in the areas of education, politics, social action and morals.”(CCC407)

    Our Lord also clearly repeats this theme in scripture through his parables.  In the parable of the sower we find all the seed is good.  The seed just lands on different ground.  The seed only thrives when it can find enriching soil and few external dangers.  Some ground is easily fertile, some is fertile but full of thorns, and some falls on rocky infertile soil.  The end result is two thirds of the seed yields very little healthy wheat.  Meanwhile the fertile soil thrives with the fewest plant failures.  The moral of the story becomes the minority of people grow into wheat the Father takes into heaven.

    Now the great philosopher would reply, any man can have their own faith in God which generates hope.  The same person could then use their intellect, and observations of nature to do good works of charity for others.   So therefore the scripture, tradition and sacraments are not required for assumption into heaven for eternal life.  So therefore reasonably people can assume God has a wide entrance to everyone to obtain heaven.

    The philosopher would err however in his final assessment.  By relying solely on our own intellect for decisions, we in fact prevent ourself from submitting our intellect to the will of God.    This fact, in and of itself, means the person living alone is not ready to become one with God.   No being ready to form complete union with almighty God prevents us from obtaining the gifts of heaven.  Giving back everything to God includes submitting all of our intellect to the words and commands of Jesus for introspection.  

    The lone person also becomes one against the fallen world, with all of its physical and spiritual dangers. With no community in which to find refuge from hostile forces, the lone person must fight alone and will be unaided by the wisdom of others on their quest for heaven.  So at the end of the lone journeyman’s life, it will not be a final chance to beg for God’s mercy (which those who submitted our lives before hand may possibly receive).  It would be a complete act of mercy from God to grant mercy to someone who did not submit completely to his rule, and is still defiantly saying they are their own judge on matters of faith and morals.

    We have scriptural evidence for this when Jesus himself tells Saul his work of persecuting christians hurt his body, and he needed to change.  Saul becomes the Apostle Paul, and every day begged for mercy he did not deserve.  Paul submitted his teachings, and service to the guidance of the other apostles in Jerusalem to insure their continuity with those of the remainder of Christ’s body.  Paul celebrated the eucharist with the rest of the church as daily nourishment for his journey.  Paul did this because the Body of Christ on earth was the church, and its sacraments is God’s life blood poured forth to the nourishment of the individuals in that body.

    If men as great as St Paul and other church fathers realized how thin the path to heaven was, then the historical and theological evidence clearly comes down against a “reasonable assumption” for each person to reach heaven.  It is time to recognize how this carefree attitude hurts moral decision making in our daily lives and the governance of our church.  If we recognize the real rocky path towards heaven, maybe we’ll re-acquire the missionary zeal of those first christians once again.

-ehw

We must preach with words

    You also are blessed because you have heard and believed. A soul that believes both conceives and brings forth the Word of God and acknowledges his works.    A Commentary of Luke by St Ambrose Bishop, Divine Office 21 Dec

    A common phase we hear today is the St Francis saying of “Preach the gospel at all times, if necessary use words.”  In our overly politically correct culture, we get bombarded with messages saying words of evangelization offend people and turn them off to the faith.  So any way out of explaining or evangelizing with words, is actually welcomed by those of us who fret we may not have all the tools to evangelize properly.   Giving into this fear however will not promote the gospel in anyway.

    Our early church fathers recognized all people can see natural law, and form lives which conform to it.  Natural law in this case being defined as the revelation of the Eternal Law of heaven in nature.  Aristotle, aka The Philosopher, remains one of the foremost pagan observers of natural law.  We find Aristotle referenced constantly by St. Thomas Aquinas and other Doctors of the Church as they framed their arguments about church doctrine.

   Despite the brilliance of observation by natural law observers, they often found themselves going astray because they lacked one vital element to guide their daily reasoning.  While these observers could see God’s eternal law peeking out in nature, they lacked the other two legs of the trinity to guide their minds to full truth.  These men and women lacked the words of Christ, and the timeless inspired words of Wisdom gifted by the Holy Spirit we find in the Holy Bible.

    In today’s man filled world of noise, the Bible must compete for time in people’s thoughts.  Therefore, God really does call each each of us to advertise for him.  Our actions must of course be consistent with our thoughts and words (That is another blog topic), but we need to use words to form the invitation to know this Holy Bible is worthy of spending time with it!

    We do not need to be be a St. Ambrose, Augustine, Aquinas, Mother Teresa, or John Paul the Great.  We just need to live our lives, and then make the invitation to come to the book when the moment strikes.  When someone asks you why you were kind you can say, “Because I want to live as Christ wanted me to.”  When someone is in need of support, or looking for guidance on a tough moral decision you can always offer to pray with them or for them.  

    When we don’t know the answer to anything we are asked, we have legions of saints writings and active religious to reach for.  These faithful instructors to illuminate the word in different methods.  This allows the word to reach, and touch the souls, of those with different backgrounds and cultural references.

    Actions alone will never satisfy the soul’s need for ministry.  We must preach with words to bring the word of God deep into people’s hearts and minds.  This is where the mysteries can make a stronghold.  It will let new faith stand the tests of the world like a fire against a cold night with equal parts emotion and reason.

-ehw

    

Go home to Christ with the Holy Family

Holy Family in the Desert at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

Holy Family in the Desert at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

       Some of my favorite meditations during the Rosary focus on the Holy Family.  I find many lessons in their lives, mostly unsaid, which help us understand how we need to live our lives in this fallen world.  When God gave them each a unique mission for our salvation, each member of the family did as requested.  Take in a bride and adopt a baby as your own…St Joseph check.  Flee to Egypt and leave EVERYTHING behind in the MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT…Check.  Watch your child die on the cross, innocent of everything except being our just and holy savior…check.

    In our faith community of Regina Caeli Academy we had two mothers pass away during the past month in Texas.  One from cancer, and the other suddenly during delivery of her third child.  Each woman left behind a family lead my faithful men of the church.  For them I pray the example of the Holy Family provides a path to continued holiness, and reunion in heaven.     These husbands had strong families of faith, and now face a period where they may feel the heat and cold of a desert journey until they reach safety of peace in understanding the will of God.  In some ways it reminds me of Joseph and Mary as they carried their child Jesus to from Bethlehem to Egypt and back to Nazareth.  A long journey which must occur under the guidance of faith to succeed.

    As we gather for Thanksgiving, remember families like these two around the country.  Pray the light of Christ stays strong in them and their children.  May it be lit by their desire to obtain the graces of heaven, and rejoin their mother in eternal life.  It should be a prayer for all of us as well.  God wants us all to come home.

-ehw