And so it begins…the Triduum

    The commisioning of priests and institution of the Eucharist...two great gifts

    The commisioning of priests and institution of the Eucharist…two great gifts

    The beauty of Holy Thursday never escapes me  Last night as even more beautiful because of the lessons taught to me by so many God seeking people over the last year. Lessons from people who past over 1800 years ago, and lessons from those living amongst us now filled my mind, heart and warmed my soul as we heard the liturgy of the word and celebrated the liturgy of the Eucharist

   Father Tri, of St Brigid Catholic Church, reminded us the story of each life is what makes the church breathe the world. The story each life brings to the church helps pass on its’s lessons and beauty from generation to generation  These stories allow the priesthood of the family to connect with the priesthood of the Church.  To make this occur we all must listen, observe and react to the wisdom of God as it works its way into our lives throug everyone around us. 

   The Holy Eurcharist is the foretaste of heaven, the perfect mana, needed to nourish our souls with the grace to navigate e challenges of a fallen world.  When taken in concert with reconciliation it enables us to stay on the path to heaven.  It keeps Christ within our very blood…commingling a bit of heaven with our life here on earth..as we go about our day.  So when we say take Christ with you wherever you go, if we partake of this holy nurishment we can do exactly that.  No other God before or since offered such a gift to mortals.  In fact no other God offered to make lowly man part of himself, and join in perfect communion in heaven, for all eternity if we choose to do so.

   Pray for our priests that they may lead all souls to heaven.  Pray for our priesthood in the family, that each man will be willing to lead their family to the best of their ability to the altar of God.  Pray each mother makes their home a place where the stories of old, new and the future will enable The word of God to reach fertile ears and move those souls to Christ.  Pray for the religious, that by their concerted life they make offerings the rest of us cannot for the salvation of the world.

   So let us begin our Triduum journey, and honor the sacrifices made to bring us all the way to heaven.

-ehw

 

 

Kalen helping bring the gifts forward with our Decon in formation Randy Ortiz

Kalen helping bring the gifts forward with our Decon in formation Randy Ortiz

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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

Iron Mike in War and Peace

Iron Mike at the Infantry Museum, Fort Benning, Georgia.

Iron Mike at the Infantry Museum, Fort Benning, Georgia.

    Growing up men like Iron Mike were my not just folk heroes, but were real people to admire in my life.  From my adopted Grandfather “Easy” Smith (a five combat jump 82nd Airborne trooper), Uncle Walter Betley (WWII Europe, Korean War, Vietnam), Uncle Bernie (WWII), my DjaDja (WWII USN), my wife’s Granddad (WWII), My Father in Law (Vietnam), my Dad (Desert Storm), my good gunner (SSG Thornburg Bosnia/Iraq/Afghanistant), and countless others I dare not forget in my prayers…taught me about what strength and courage really were.  I also learned in the peace one needs just as much strength.

    Easy Smith, my Airborne Pathfinder friend, told me of his missions and the leadership needed to accomplish them.  He instructed me on the personal trials of fire I would face in combat, and what qualities to try and cultivate in myself to prepare for the supreme tests of leadership in combat.  I was never a great army officer, decent/honorable but not GREAT.  I never faced the test so many of my relatives and friends did. I often wonder if I would pass that test of combat…but in reality my life is still young.  The ultimate test could come at any time in this wild wild west world we live in today.

    Easy told me of his Army career, and then work on the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra.  He rehearsed all day, stayed up all night and got very little sleep.  The work was exhausting.  Like many musicians he turned to alcohol and became dependent on it.  He got to the point where one day he had to have a talk with God.  He knew he lived or he died based on his reaction to the temptation from the devil he would deliver in bottle.  He lived if he left the bottle behind.  He died if he picked it up again to drink.

   Easy left the bottle forever that day.  He became an active man of God.  As a God fearing gentleman he mentored hundreds of youth in his third career as a Sheriff’s Deputy in Northern Virginia through baseball, music and church ministries.  If you ever visit the E.G. Smith Complex in Manassas, Virginia you will walk on the grass of my adopted Grandfather and personal embodiment of Iron Mike.

    The men I mentioned above all fought through war, but thrived without conflict by living out God’s commands in peace.  In the list above I know of church councilmen, Knights of Columbus, a man baptized in his Episcopalian faith as an adult, and a non-denominational Christian who raised families with love and taught honor to them.  I am proud to know them, learn from their example, and try to carry it on one more generation.

   While it would be nice to have world peace, I am not foolish enough to think it will come without a miracle of the second coming of Christ first.  Until then I will pray men will continue to be Iron Mike’s in both war and peace.  Just as strong to face a bullet as the challenges of peace.

-ehw

Wonderful Time of Loving Labors

    When you see the photo of an adorable, 100% cute child you think of the wonders the child brings to the world.  When he is your child, and you meet him at 1AM for a quick diaper change and handoff to Mom a few other thoughts run through your tired mind about the same child.

    Nothing good in life comes free.  Nothing great comes without great cost and sacrifice. This is not only true of life, but of the path we need to take to heaven.

   Jesus lived a hard life, and so did his disciples.  He even had friends he loved suffer and die!  He was our king, and died a painful death on a cross he carried on his shoulders after a brutal set of beatings.  Yet despite these facts, I think most people imagine Christ in his gloriously transformed body by default.  A transfigured body he only obtained by passing through the painful death on a tree.

    So the next time you see 100% cuteness, don’t forget the work it takes to get there.  Also know the moment of glory is worth every sacrifice it took to make a glimpse of heaven on earth.

-ehw