Thursday, December 26, 2013

St. Stephen, 1st Deacon and Martyr

St. Stephen, the first Deacon and the Church's first martyr for Christ, whom St. Luke calls "a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost," was stoned to death by order of the Jewish Sanhedrin at Jerusalem, and among those taking part was Saul of Tarsus, the future St. Paul. Stephen's name means "crown," and he was the first disciple of Jesus to receive the martyr's crown. The apostles had found that they needed helpers to look after the care of the widows and the poor. So they ordained seven deacons, and Stephen is the 1st and most famous of these.
God worked many miracles through St. Stephen and he spoke with such wisdom and grace that many of his hearers became followers of Jesus. The enemies of the Church of Jesus were furious to see how successful Stephen's preaching was. At last, they laid a plot for him. They could not answer his wise argument, so they got men to lie about him, saying that he had spoken sinfully against God. St. Stephen faced that great assembly of enemies without fear. In fact, the Holy Bible says that his face looked like the face of an angel.

The saint spoke about Jesus, showing that He is the Savior, God had promised to send. He scolded his enemies for not having believed in Jesus. At that, they rose up in great anger and shouted at him. But Stephen looked up to Heaven and said that he saw the heavens opening and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.

His hearers plugged their ears and refused to listen to another word. They dragged St. Stephen outside the city of Jerusalem and stoned him to death. The saint prayed, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!" Then he fell to his knees and begged God not to punish his enemies for killing him.

And TODAY ...
Professing the Christian Faith Demands the Heroism of the Martyrs
On the day after the solemnity of Christmas, we celebrate today the feast of St. Stephen, deacon and first martyr. At first glance, to join the memory of the "protomartyr" and the birth of the Redeemer might seem surprising because of the contrast between the peace and joy of Bethlehem and the tragedy of St. Stephen, stoned in Jerusalem during the first persecution against the nascent Church.
In reality, this apparent opposition is surmounted if we analyze in greater depth the mystery of Christmas. The Child Jesus, lying in the cave, is the only-begotten Son of God who became man. He will save humanity by dying on the cross. 

Now we see Him in swaddling clothes in the manger; after His crucifixion, He will again be wrapped in bandages and placed in the sepulcher. It is no accident that the Christmas iconography sometimes represents the divine newborn Child lying in a small sarcophagus, to indicate that the Redeemer was born to die, He was born to give His life in ransom for all.
St. Stephen was the first to follow in the steps of Christ with martyrdom: like the divine Master, he died forgiving and praying for his executioners (cf. Acts 7:60). During the first four centuries of Christianity all the saints venerated by the Church were martyrs. 

They are a countless multitude, which the liturgy calls "the white army of martyrs," (martyrum candidatus exercitus). Their death was not a reason for fear and sadness, but of spiritual enthusiasm, which always gave rise to new Christians. For believers, the day of death, and even more so, the day of martyrdom, is not the end of everything, but rather the "passage" to immortal life, it is the day of the final birth, the "dies natalis." Thus is understood the link that exists between the "dies natalis" of Christ and the "dies natalis" of St. Stephen. If Jesus had not been born on earth, men would not have been able to be born for heaven. Precisely because Christ was born, we are able to be "reborn."
Also Mary, who took the Redeemer in her arms in Bethlehem, suffered an interior martyrdom. She shared His Passion and had to take Him, once again, in her arms when they took Him down from the cross. To this Mother, who felt the joy of the birth and the anguish of the death of her divine Son, we entrust those who are persecuted and those who are suffering, in different ways, for witnessing and serving the Gospel. 

With special spiritual closeness, I am also thinking of the Catholics who maintain their fidelity to the See of Peter without giving in to compromises, at times even at the cost of grave sufferings. The whole Church admires their example and prays that they will have the strength to persevere, knowing that their tribulations are a source of victory, though for the moment they might seem to be a failure.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

MERRY CHRISTMAS ONE AND ALL - PEACE TO THOSE OF GOOD WILL!

Let us bow down before Him - the CHRIST, The One Who gave Himself as Ransom for our souls! 
The only One that COULD. 

Oh come let us adore Him, but not just today, and not just halfheartedly ... but every day and with all our hearts!

Christmas itself bespeaks peace and love. It's a time when we stop, even if just for a brief moment and recognize each other as brothers and sisters of the same family. All one in the Body, for that is what we truly are if we call ourselves Christians. We, for the most part, set aside petty differences and some, by the grace of God, hurts and resentments that have festered for years and even decades. This is the magic of Christmas. The Grace, Love and Peace that He gives freely if we but look in His direction and receive it. 
Let everyone's prayer be to have this not just today, but always and forever! 
Please let our prayer for this next year be for those that have lost their way, strayed from the path and not only forgot the precious Gift of Christmas, but the reason and the Path to Easter Sunday that leads to Eternal Happiness. Pray for those in mortal sin that are in so much darkness, they can't even SEE the light, let alone what surrounds them in this valley of tears. 

Let our daily prayer be: 
"Eternal God, thank You for sending Your only begotten Son to the world to offer us a way back to You. That He suffered and died for our sins is too hard for our human intellect to fully understand and we cringe to know our own sins put Him there. But we beg You Father to accept our continuous prayer; united to the Perfect & Holy Passion of Jesus, we offer You our joys, sorrows, breaths, heartbeats and tears to strengthen the faithful, renew the lukewarm, restore the fallen away and convert the proud. Merciful Father, Whose tender Love has no bounds, grant, in Your Goodness and Mercy that we always embrace Your Perfect Will in all things with a joyful heart. Please cover us with the Precious Blood of Jesus in which we trust and rely. Send the Holy Spirit to renew our souls and our land that it may bring You honor and glory and we may, once again, be a nation under God! Bring us daily closer to the Sacred & Immaculate Hearts and increase our Faith that we may always strengthen each other, in Jesus' Name. Amen."

Let this new year renew in our souls the fervent hope that all be saved and none be lost. Let us remember always to pray and do penance for those in our families and all we hold dear that have fallen away to renew and SHARE their Faith with all who cross their path, as we should. Pray especially for those whose hearts are good but necks are stiff; those who do good for others but for whatever reason have turned away from formal practice and are too proud to search for the Truth; for those who feel they have been hurt (real or perceived) by God and have hardened their hearts towards Him ... and for those that satan has convinced that they're 'good enough' to get into heaven as they are, putting worldly things first rather than eternal things. 

Above all else: PRAY, PRAY, PRAY!!!

Ephesians 6:12: "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood; but against principalities, powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places."


"The date is December twenty-fifth, but to the humble man, it is Christmas; the manger is a throne; the straw is royal plumage; the stable is a castle; and the Babe is God. He found Power because he was weakness, and the Infinite, Immense and Eternal God, because He was little – for it is only by being little that we ever discover anything big. He lies upon straw on earth and yet sustains the universe and reigns in Heaven; He is born in time, and yet He existed before all time; Maker of the stars under the stars; Ruler of the earth an Outcast of earth; filling the world, lying in a manger. And yet the proud man sees only a Babe. The humble, simple souls, who are little enough to see the bigness of God in the littleness of a Babe, are therefore the only ones who will ever understand the reason of His visitation. He came to the poor earth of ours to carry on an exchange; to say to us, as only the Good God could say: You give me your humanity, and I will give you My Divinity; you give me your time, and I will give you My eternity, you give Me your weary body, and I will give you Redemption; you give Me your broken heart, and I will give you Love; you give Me your nothingness, and I will give you My All. Thus the birthday of the God-Man is the children’s day, in which age, like a crab, turns backwards, in which the wrinkles are smoothed by the touch of a recreating hand, in which the proud become children, and the big become little, and all find God."  ~~(The Eternal Galilean)

 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Beware of Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing

“Be Careful with the Precious Gift of Your Faith . . .  Believe in the Truth of the Gospel”
Beware of wolves in sheep’s clothing.
St. Paul takes up this theme that God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ will encourage and strengthen our hearts to perform every good work, even if that means we have to endure the slow martyrdom of our daily lives or the quick martyrdom of death.

Christ “will deliver us from perverse and wicked people,” and why do we need to be delivered? Because as St. Paul reminds us; “not all have faith.” This may shock you or it may not, but there are some who claim to be Christian that are nothing more that wolves in sheep’s clothing. Some who claim to be Catholic and are faithless, lazy, lukewarm – good for nothing but burning to paraphrase Jesus and these people want nothing more than the demolition of the Christian community and destruction of the male sacramental priesthood of Jesus Christ.

This evil has become so widespread into today’s culture that it has even infused itself onto the Church. Even we priests, have to be on guard against our brother priests who have lost the faith and who have become so inculturated with society’s evils to the point that it is questionable if they Catholic anymore.

I remember being at a retreat for young women, and the Mother Superior of the Convent, pleading with these young ladies to be careful when they go home.

She said, “you will need to find a good, holy, prayerful priest – who has the faith – to talk too.”
She continued, “Don’t trust any priest, and any priest will not do because all priests aren’t good or holy or prayerful or even have the faith anymore – search for a good one when you get home.”

What great advice!! Advice we all need to start taking to heart!!

Times have changed and the Church has been infested by a whole host of sinful, corrupt, and evil clerics - be careful with the precious gift of your faith that God has given you – protect it, cherish it, and nourish it and don’t expose it to the evils of this world.

St. Paul instructed us that if we want to increase our faith, then we must “continue to love God and our neighbor and believe in the truth of the Gospel – then we need not fear anything – not even death because with Christ we can endure and overcome all things.” In the scriptures it says 365 times; “Do not be afraid.” Once for each day of the year – shouldn’t that give us courage to face each and every day regardless of the outcome.

With God’s grace – we can endure those people who hate us, we can endure those who want to kill us, even endure the painful search for what is real and true or endure the search for a good priest who still has the faith to leads us and can act like a fearless man of God.

Because God is the God of the living – He will watch over us, protect us, and leads us home to Himself as long as we are willing to remain faithful to Him even in the midst of persecution, suffering and even martyrdom.

We hear part of the story of seven wise, brave, young [Maccabes] brothers – who gave up their earthly lives to obtain a heavenly ones. May we too have the courage to be faithful – and in that courage – to truly live holy lives and to endure whatever God may send us for it is always for our greater good.


By: Fr. Daniel E. Doctor through Courageous Priest

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Christmas Message from Friar Alessandro Brustenghi


Letting this *PLAY ALL* will give you a taste of his love and talent!
 
I still have a couple of Friar Alessandro Brustenghi CD's available ... and STILL trying to decide on a CONTEST to give them away to a couple of lucky BATTLEBEADS CUSTOMERS ... won't you help? 
 
Put on your thinking caps or I guess I'll wind up saying the next order will receive one and I'd really rather it be something different than that :) 
 
ANYWAY!!!! .... Please consider Friar's CD's for Christmas presents ... he's got a WONDERFUL voice that is full of love for the Lord!! 
Please message me either here, Twitter, FaceBook or email ... all links on the right side here :) 
 
Blessings for a THANKFUL &  BLESSED THANKSGIVING
to those in the USA :) 
 
 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Solemnity of Christ the King


Nov 24th Solemnity of Christ the King

The Feast of Christ the King is celebrated on November 24. This was created by Pope Pius XI in 1925 because people were living as if Jesus Christ didn't exist. The feast proclaims how Jesus Christ is Royalty above people, communities, nations, and governments. Christ's kingdom in heaven is for everybody who wants to be with Him; and it's endless.











The feast establishes the titles for Christ's royalty over men: 

1) Christ is God and holds high power over everything; 
2) Christ is our Redeemer, He made us His by His blood and now we belong to Him; 
3) Christ is Head of the Church, 4) God bestowed upon Christ the nations of the world as His special possession and dominion


~Today more than ever this world lives as if Jesus was just 'someone' in history rather than the King of everything, including ETERNITY! Many can't even see beyond this world to realize that there truly IS another life and that it is WITHOUT END for those who love our glorious Triune God.  

"Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor has it entered into the mind of man what God has prepared for those who love Him."

Saturday, November 23, 2013

It Is Not Hateful To Call Immoral Actions Sinful…Rather It Is In An Act Of Love!

Highlights From Bishop Paprocki’s Exorcism and Supplication Mass

Bishop Thomas John Paprocki

1.   I wish to preface my reflections by saying that I am conducting this prayer service and am speaking to you now with great reluctance. I did not seek to enter any controversy and I don’t relish being part of one. But I have given this matter a great deal of thought and prayer, which has led me to the conviction that God is calling me to speak out and conduct these prayers.
2.   Our prayers at this time are prompted by the fact that the Governor of Illinois today is signing into Illinois law the redefinition of civil marriage, introducing not only an unprecedented novelty into our state law, but also institutionalizing an objectively sinful reality.
3.   It is not hateful to say that an immoral action is sinful. On the contrary, the most compassionate thing we can do is help people to turn away from sin. To ignore another person’s wrongful actions is a sign of apathy or indifference, while fraternal correction is motivated by love for that person’s well-being, as can be seen by the fact that our Lord Jesus himself urged such correction. Indeed, the call to repentance is at the heart of the Gospel, as Jesus proclaimed, “The Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe the Good News” (Mark 1:15).
4.   The Good News is that God’s mercy and forgiveness extend to those who repent. Mercy does not mean approving of something that is sinful, but does absolve the wrongdoer after a change of heart takes place in the sinner through the gift of God’s grace.
5.   I do not stand here before you as a self-righteous saint who has achieved spiritual perfection, but as a sinner who has received Jesus into his heart as his Lord and Savior.
6.   This is a key point which the secularists are missing: they think that stressing God’s mercy means that sins are no longer sins. On the contrary, God’s mercy is a great gift of grace precisely because sins are sins and they call for repentance and forgiveness.
7.   The fact is that a “minor exorcism” takes place in every Baptism and Confirmation ceremony when we renounce Satan and all his works and empty promises. This prayer service will be along those lines. I’m not saying that anyone involved in the redefinition of marriage is possessed by the devil, which, if that were the case, would require the remedy of a “Major Exorcism,” but all of us are certainly subject to the devil’s evil influences and in need of protection and deliverance from evil.
8.   Our prayer service today and my words are not meant to demonize anyone, but are intended to call attention to the diabolical influences of the devil that have penetrated our culture, both in the state and in the Church. These demonic influences are not readily apparent to the undiscerning eye, which is why they are so deceptive.
9.   The deception of the Devil in same-sex marriage may be understood by recalling the words of Pope Francis when he faced a similar situation as Archbishop of Buenos Aires in 2010. Regarding the proposed redefinition of civil marriage in Argentina, then-Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio wrote on June 22, 2010, “The Argentine people must face, in the next few weeks, a situation whose result may gravely harm the family. It is the bill on matrimony of persons of the same sex. The identity of the family, and its survival, are in jeopardy here: father, mother, and children. The life of so many children who will be discriminated beforehand due to the lack of human maturity that God willed them to have with a father and a mother is in jeopardy. A clear rejection of the law of God, engraved in our hearts, is in jeopardy. . . . Let us not be naive: it is not a simple political struggle; it is an intention [which is] destructive of the plan of God. It is not a mere legislative project (this is a mere instrument), but rather a ‘move’ of the father of lies who wishes to confuse and deceive the children of God.”   The Pope’s reference to the “father of lies” comes from the Gospel of John (8:44), where Jesus refers to the devil as “a liar and the father of lies.” So Pope Francis is saying that same-sex “marriage” comes from the devil and should be condemned as such.
10.   The work of discouragement by the Devil in same-sex marriage is apparent in the message being conveyed to defenders of traditional marriage that the universal redefinition of marriage is unstoppable, so we might as well just stop trying. But the legalization of abortion on demand forty years ago did not silence those who believe that abortion is contrary to God’s law. On the contrary, Roe v. Wade only heightened the need for more concerted efforts to protect all human life from conception to natural death. So, too, the legal redefinition of civil marriage does not put an end to the need for discourse and action to defend natural marriage in accord with God’s plan, but only serves to heighten the need for greater efforts in this regard.
11.   Politicians responsible for enacting civil same-sex marriage legislation are morally complicit as co-operators in facilitating this grave sin.
12.   We must also affirm the teaching of the Catholic Church that homosexual persons “must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.” The Church loves homosexual persons and looks upon them with compassion, offering assistance through support groups such as the Courage Apostolate to live in accord with the virtue of chastity. Indeed, all people are called to chastity, which for a man and woman united in matrimony means for the husband and wife to be faithful to each other.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Video courtesy of ChurchMilitant.TV
On November twenty-first the Church celebrates the Feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This feast finds its origins as early as the second century according to apocryphal source, the Protoevangelium or the book of James. This feast was already commemorated in the East by the sixth century. Pope Gregory XI heard of this feast being kept in Greece in 1372 and introduced it at Avigon. In 1585 Pope Sixtus extended to the universal Church. This feast refers to Our Lady's presentation at the temple in Jerusalem as a small child. When she was only three years old, the Blessed Virgin Mary was taken to the Temple in Jerusalem by her parents, St. Joachim and St. Anne. There she was taught, lived with other little girls and was cared for by pious women. The Blessed Virgin was happy to begin serving God in the Temple. Even as a little Child Mary's life was centered on God. She studied the Sacred Scriptures and awaited and hope for the coming of the Messiah. On this feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary let us ask Our Lady to help us to consecrate ourselves entirely to God.
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"Hail, holy throne of God, divine sanctuary, house of glory, jewel most fair, chosen treasure house, and mercy seat for the whole world, heaven showing forth the glory of God. Purest Virgin, worthy of all praise, sanctuary dedicated to God and raised above all human condition, virgin soil, unplowed field, flourishing vine, fountain pouring out waters, virgin bearing a Child, mother without knowing man, hidden treasure of innocence, ornament of sanctity, by your most acceptable prayers, strong with the authority of motherhood, to our Lord and God, Creator of all, your Son who was born of you without a father, steer the ship of the Church and bring it to a quiet harbor." --St. Germanus, homily on the Presentation of the Mother of God

 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

CONTEST!!!

 Put your thinking caps on folks! I have been given a couple promotional CD's of Friar Alessandro Brustenghi's newest album and two lucky BattleBeads customers will be the winners!!

The first copy of this great CD will be awarded to the person that designs the best contest! So then, it  follows that the 2nd copy will be awarded to the person that wins that contest :)

The contest should have something to do with BATTLEBEADS (Rosaries, chaplets, etc.) and/or the Faith ... I'm kind of leaving it wide open and will select what hits me between the eyes as "IT"!

I'm hoping to have both copies gone before Christmas. So put on your thinking caps and get the wheels turning to see what you can come up with. You can message me on my personal Facebook or the BattleBeads FaceBook FanPage or email or send a contact through the website; but please be sure to put CONTEST in the subject! GOOD LUCK TO ALL!!!

I'm also leaving a few links below so you can get a taste of his beautiful voice and spirit!

You can listen to more music from Voice of Joy here

Stay up to date by checking out his Facebook

For everything else, you can visit new website FriarAlessandro.com

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-- It does NOT have to BE a 'design' contest .. I'm open to anything! --
But this is all that's been mentioned so far. 

 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
 Some folks have suggested a rosary or chaplet "design" contest ... but actually, what would a 'design' be? To me, a design would be a totally different rosary containing all 59 prayers .. like these:  



Or decade chaplets: 

So it would have to be a totally new design of the Rosary. It would be impossible to just pick the nicest design with so many different combinations of beads and components .... I sure wouldn't want to have to judge that!
With a chaplet, I wouldn't feel comfortable promoting a NEW chaplet that wasn't Church approved, but for like a pocket decade design or something, that would be ok.
So this will be a toughie .. that's why I need HELP! LOL
 So let's keep it all on the back burner folks and perhaps we may come up with some really novel ideas! :) 


OF COURSE you are not bound to this idea at all .. ALL IDEAS WILL BE CONSIDERED AND THE WINNING CONTEST ANNOUNCED ASAP!! :) 

BLESSINGS!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The Love in His Heart will Bring Tears to Your Eyes!

I had to make this an official blog post after receiving an email to listen to Friar Alessandro Brustenghi for just a few moments :) Truly the LOVE in his heart will bring tears to your eyes! Here's just a little background. Later, I'll give the link to his official page.  

The DECCA RECORD COMPANY IS GIVING ME A COUPLE COPIES OF HIS ALBUM THAT I'M GOING TO AWARD TO SOME LUCKY BATTLEBEADS CUSTOMER IN THE UPCOMING WEEKS. I WILL HAVE TO PUT ON MY THINKING CAP TO DECIDE HOW TO DO THIS. IDEAS WELCOMED! ;) 

Friar Alessandro is a very cheerful and humble sanctuary guide in Assisi, Italy where he was born.  His hope as the first Franciscan Friar to be signed to a major record label, is that his voice will have the ability to foster a stronger Catholic presence in contemporary art & music.
His enthusiasm for music since childhood influenced him to study organ, musical composition, and operatic singing at institutions and conservatories throughout Italy. However, his success in music felt incomplete in the absence of a driven religious life. So at the age of twenty-one, he entered as a postulant in the Order of the Friars Minor of Umbria and would take his final vows some ten years later.  It was in fact the desire to join the Order which pushed him to complete his qualification at the musical
conservatory as it was considered a touchstone for the seriousness of his commitment. At present he lives at the Porziuncola Friary in Santa Maria degli Angeli, Assisi, where he welcomes pilgrims to the Basilica.

And he sings. OH DOES HE SING! This post is to help announce his upcoming album. To accompany this special release you can own a piece of Bethlehem, a beautiful Christmas decoration hand crafted from local olive wood by local university students.

 Friar Alessandro's "Voice of Joy" is an album of beautiful music, from a wonderful man, and a celebration of Christmas - an album of joy, from his heart to yours.
AND JUST IN TIME FOR CHRISTMAS TOO!!!
Here is a little video to get a flavor for the man who seems SO sweet and FULL OF LOVE for the Lord and to hear a voice that would rival Mario Lanza! :) 

You can listen to more music from Voice of Joy here



Stay up to date by checking out his Facebook


For everything else, you can visit new website FriarAlessandro.com

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Hard Spiritual Truths That Will Set You Free!

“A Steady Diet Of, “God Loves You And All Is Well, No Matter What…” Has Emptied Our Pews.”

St. John of the Cross
by:Msgr. Charles Pope - I have written before on Five Hard Truths That Will Set You Free. In this post I would like to ponder Some Hard Spiritual truths that will set us free.
In calling them “hard truths,” I mean that they are not the usual cozy bromides that many seek. They speak bluntly about the more irksome and difficult realities we confront. But, if we come to accept them, they have a strange way of bringing serenity by getting us focused on the right things, instead of chasing after false dreams.
For it sometimes happens that a person can spend his whole life being resentful that life isn’t peachy, forgetting all the while that we are in exile, that we are making a hard journey, we pray,  to a life where, one day,  every sorrow and difficultly is removed, and death and sorrow are no more. But not now.
There is a kind of unexpected serenity in living in the world as it is, rather than resenting the world for not being what we want it to be. For now, the journey is hard and we have to be sober about our obtuse desires and destructive tendencies. And that is why there is a value in calling these insights, “hard truths that will set us free.”

In the very opening section of his Spiritual Canticle, St. John of the Cross lays out a presumed worldview that the spiritually mature ought to have attained. And because he presumes it of his reader, he states it only briefly.

Yet, for us who live in times not known for spiritual maturity, we ought to slow down for a moment and ponder these truths which are not only poorly understood, but even actively resisted today by many who call themselves wise and spiritually mature.
Remember now, these are hard truths, and many today wish to bypass the harder teachings of God. Thus we do well to pay special attention to a Spiritual Master who is deeply immersed in Scripture, as a remedy for the soft excesses of our modern times.

Lets first look at the quote from St. John and then, by way of a list, examine his points. With this preamble of sorts, St. John begins his Spiritual Canticle:
The soul… has grown aware of her obligations and observed that life is short (Job 14:5), the path leading to eternal life constricted (Mt. 7:14), the just one scarcely saved (1 Pet. 4:18), the things of the world vain and deceitful (Eccles. 1:2), that all comes to an end and fails like falling water (2 Sam. 14:14), and that the time is uncertain, the accounting strict, perdition very easy, and salvation very difficult. She knows on the other hand of her immense indebtedness to God for having created her solely for Himself, and that for this she owes Him the service of her whole life; and because He redeemed her solely for Himself she owes Him every response of love. She knows, too, of the thousand other benefits by which she has been obligated to God from before the time of her birth, and that a good part of her life has vanished, that she must render an account of everything – of the beginning of her life as well as the later part – unto the last penny (Mt. 5:25) when God will search Jerusalem with lighted candles (Zeph. 1:12), and that it is already late – and the day far spent (Lk. 24:29) – to remedy so much evil and harm. She feels on the other hand that God is angry and hidden because she desired to forget Him so in the midst of creatures, Touched with dread and interior sorrow of heart over so much loss and danger, renouncing all things, leaving aside all business, and not delaying a day or an hour, with desires and sighs pouring from her heart, wounded now with the love for God, she begins to call her Beloved…

Let us look at these hard but freeing spiritual insights one by one.

The soul has grown aware of her obligations and observed..... 

1. That life is short (Job 14:5).
More than any other age we entertain the illusion that death can be easily postponed. It cannot be. We are not guaranteed the next beat of our heart, let alone tomorrow! It is true that with advances in medical science, sudden death from lesser causes it not as frequent today. But too easily this leads us to entertain the notion that we can cheat death. We cannot.
Life remains short, and we do not get to choose when we will die. Both my mother, and sister died all of a sudden, were swept away in an instant. They never got to say goodbye. You do not know if you will even finish this sentence or article before before death summons you.
This is wisdom. It is a hard truth that gives us an important perspective. Life is short and you don’t have a calendar to know how short.
What are you doing to get ready to meet God? What are you getting worked up about and what are not concerned about? Are your priorities rooted in the truth that life is short? Or are you waging bets in a foolish game where the house (death and this world) always wins on its terms and not yours?
There is a strange serenity and freedom in realizing that life is short. We do not get as worked up about passing things, and we become more invested in lasting things, and the things to come.

2. The path leading to eternal life constricted (Mt. 7:14) 
Another illusion we entertain today is that salvation is a cinch, that it is a done deal. The “heresy” of our time is a kind of universal salvation that denies the consistently repeated biblical teach which declares: Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. (Matt 7:13-14 inter al).
In parable after parable, warning after warning, Jesus speaks with sober admonition about the reality of hell and the closing reality of judgment. No one loves you more than Jesus, and no warned you about Hell and Judgment more than Jesus.
Salvation is not easy, it is hard. Jesus said this, not me. This is not because God is mean, it is because we are stubborn, obtuse and prefer the darkness to light. We need to sober up about our stubbornness and our tendencies to prefer “other arrangements” to what God offers and teaches. In the end, God will respect our choice and there comes a day when our choice for or against the Kingdom and its values will be sealed forever.
This is a hard saying, but it sets us free from the awful sin of presumption, a sin against hope and instills in us a proper priority for the work that is necessary to root us in God. Accepting this hard truth will free you from silly and baseless presumption. It will make you more serious about your spiritual life and aware of the need for prayer, sacraments, Scripture and the Church. It will help you have better priorities that are less obsessed with passing worldly things and people, and be more rooted in what it eternal. It will make you more evangelical and urgent to save souls. It will turn you to Jesus and away from Belial and passing pathetic worldly things.

3. That the just one scarcely saved (1 Pet. 4:18) 
Here is a further truth that sets aside modern errors about an almost universal salvation. The fuller context of the quote is this: For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And, “If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” (1 Peter 4:17-18)
And yet, despite this and many other quotes and teachings like it, we go one presuming that almost everyone will go to heaven. We set aside God’s Word, for human errors and wishful thinking. We substitute human assurances for God’s warnings. We elevate ourselves over St. Paul who said that we should work out our salvation in fear and trembling (Phil 2:12) and spoke of disciplining himself, lest, after preaching to others, he should be lost (1 Cor 9:27). Are we better and more enlightened that Jesus? Than Paul, Than Peter?
Salvation is hard. This is not meant to panic us, but it is meant to sober us to the need for prayer, Sacraments, Scripture and the Church. Without these medicines we don’t stand a chance. And we must persevere to the end.
This hard truth sets us free from illusion and sends us running to the Lord who alone can save us. Smug presumption roots us in the world, Godly fear and sober awareness of our stubborn and unrepentant hearts sends us to Jesus and this frees us.

4. The things of the world vain and deceitful (Eccles. 1:2)
Such a freeing truth. First that the things of this world are vain. That is to say, they are empty, passing, and vapid. We so exult power, popularity, and worldly glories. But they are gone in a moment. Who was Miss America in 1974? Who won the Heisman Trophy in that same year? If you know, do you really care and does it really matter? Empty show, glitter and fools gold, yet we spend billions and watch this stuff forever.
And even though we should fight for justice, for the sake of the kingdom, even here the Scriptures counsel some perspective: I have seen a wicked, ruthless man, spreading himself like a green laurel tree. But he passed away, and behold, he was no more; though I sought him, he could not be found. (Ps 37:35-36).
And how deceitful is this passing world.! The main deceit of this world is to say, “I am what you exist for, I am what matters, I am what satisfies.” Lies and deceptions on all counts. The form of this world is passing away. It cannot supply our infinite desires. Our hearts were made for God, and only being with him one day will satisfy.
Yet so easily do we listen to the world’s seduction and lies. Too often we want to be lied to and prefer to chase illusions, vanity and indulge deceit.
How freeing this truth is, if we can lay hold of it. We learn to make use of what we need, but begin to lose our obsession with vain and passing things, and our insatiable desire for more. Yes, perhaps you can live without that granite counter top.
This is a very freeing truth if we can accept its hard reality. And becoming more free a deeper serenity finds us.

5. That all comes to an end and fails like falling water (2 Sam. 14:14)
The world is passing away. It can’t secure your future. The world cruel lies that it can supply you is on display in every graveyard. So much for the world’s empty promises: “You can have it all!” Yes, and then you die.
Meditate on death often. Indeed, every night the Church bids us to rehearse our death in night prayer by the reciting of the Nunc Dimittis.
Scripture says, For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come (Heb 13:14). Do you have your sights fixed where true joys are? Or are you like Lot’s wife?
Let this truth free you to have proper perspective. Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God (Col 3:1).

6. And that the time is uncertain. 
You got plans for tomorrow? Great, so do I. Only problem, tomorrow is not promised or certain. Neither is the next beat of your heart. Another hard, but freeing truth.

7. The accounting is strict -
Jesus warns,  But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken (Matt 12:36). St. Paul says, He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart (1 Cor 4:5). And adds, So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad (2 Cor 5:9-10). And James chillingly says, So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty. For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy (James 2:12-13) What he says is chilling since so many are without mercy today.
If God judges us with the same strict justice we often dish out, we don’t stand a chance. The accounting will be strict, so don’t pile on with unnecessary severity and wrath toward others.
Here is another freeing truth that helps us take heed of the coming judgement.

8. Perdition very easy - I wonder why he might have repeated this? I just wonder….!

9. And salvation very difficult - Hmm… look he repeated this too! I wonder why? Maybe repetition is the mother of studies.

10. [That we are often and strangely ungrateful and unmoved] She knows on the other hand of her immense indebtedness to God for having created her solely for Himself, and that for this she owes Him the service of her whole life; and because He redeemed her solely for Himself she owes Him every response of love. She knows, too, of the thousand other benefits by which she has been obligated to God from before the time of her birth, and that a good part of her life has vanished,
Here is a sober truth that calls us to remember. What does it mean to remember? To remember means to have present in your mind and heart what the Lord has done for you so that you are grateful and different. 
And yet we live so many years and hours of the day in ingratitude. We get all worked up resentful about the smallest setbacks, and almost totally ignore the trillions of blessings each day.
In a sense our ingratitude is obnoxiously massive because of the easy manner with which we mindlessly receive and discount incredibly numerous blessings, and magnify every suffering setback or trial. So much of our life passes in the complaint department. And so commonly we are stingy with even a simple “Thank you Lord, for all your obvious and hidden blessings, thank you Lord for creating, sustaining and loving me to the end, and for inviting me to know, Love and serve you.“

11. That she must render an account of everything – of the beginning of her life as well as the later part – unto the last penny (Mt. 5:25) when God will search Jerusalem with lighted candles (Zeph. 1:12) - Did he repeat himself again? Now why do you suppose he does that?! You don’t think he considers us stubborn, do you?

12. and that it is already late – and the day far spent (Lk. 24:29) – to remedy so much evil and harm. Repetitio mater studiorum

13. [That the unrepentant will experience the wrath to come] – She feels on the other hand that God is angry and hidden because she desired to forget Him so in the midst of creatures,
The wrath of God is really in us, not in God. It is our experience of discomfort before the holiness of God. It is like being used to a dark room, and suddenly being brought into the bright afternoon sunlight. We protest and say the light is harsh. But the light is not harsh. We are incapable of tolerating the light due to our preference for and acclamation to the dark. In the same way God is not  “mad” He is not moody or harsh. He is God. And God does not change.
Thus St. John teaches here, the hard but freeing truth that God is holy and no one is going to walk into his presence unprepared. If we prefer the world and its creatures to the Creator, we thereby prefer the darkness and cannot tolerate the light. Heaven is simply not possible for those who prefer the darkness. And thus Jesus says, And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil (John 3:19) – That’s right, just three verses after John 3:16
And while the sinful soul may “feel” that God is angry and hiding himself, the problem is in the sinful soul, not God.
The freedom of this hard saying comes in reminding us, and urging us to get ready to meet God. He is not going to change. He can’t change. So we have to change, and by his grace, become the light of his holiness.

14. [We Need to Call on the Savior] – Touched with dread and interior sorrow of heart over so much loss and danger, renouncing all things, leaving aside all business, and not delaying a day or an hour, with desires and sighs pouring from her heart, wounded now with the love for God, she begins to call her Beloved
And yes, here is the real point of all these hard truths: to make us love our savior more, learn to depend on him, and run to him as fast as we can. Only when we know the hard truths are we really going to be all that serious.
After all, who goes to the doctor? One who is convinced he has no cancer (even though he does). Or the one who knows he’s got it bad and that ain’t good? The answer is self evident.

Bad sadly the answer is self-evident enough to this current generation where, even in the Church, there are so many who don’t want to discuss any of the hard and sober truths we need to lay hold of before we get serious.
A steady diet of “God loves you and all is well, no matter what…” has emptied our pews. Why? Well, who goes to the spiritual hospital if all they hear is that nothing is wrong and that their salvation is secure, almost no matter what?
The good news of the gospel has little impact when the bad news is no longer understood. What does salvation mean if there is no sin and nothing to be saved from? Now of course the bad news should not be preached without pointing to the good news. But the point is that both are needed.

Thus, St. John’s hard truths are not meant to discourage. They are meant to sober us and send us running to the doctor.... the Great Physician, Jesus!
Now look, you’ve got it bad and that ain’t good. But the Good news is, there is a Doctor in the house. Run to Him now, He’s calling you!

Originally posted at:   adw.org

Saturday, September 28, 2013

The Occult And The Destructive Power Of Darkness

Spiritual Warfare: The Occult HAS REAL Demonic Influence 
The Occult Constitutes A Serious Threat To Our Spiritual Well Being!! 

By the "occult," we are speaking of some supra-human or supernatural influence that is not from God. We commonly associate the occult with that which has demonic influence. In the United States today the occult has become much more popular than it was twenty years ago. Today, there is popular Satanic music, Satanic street gangs, an increase in Satanic worship, a more widespread use of the horoscope and study of the signs of the zodiac, and Satanic games that can be purchased. In spite of this, many people do not take the occult seriously. They laugh off the notion of the Power of Evil as actually being a part of the "real" world in which we live.

I do believe that demonic influence is very real and that it constitutes a dangerous threat to our spiritual well-being. What is written here is, at best, a brief summary of a reality that I have no desire to spend much time exploring. My purpose is simply to give you enough knowledge to be able to at least suspect the presence of the occult so that you can avoid it completely.

In the letter to the Ephesians (1:3-10), St. Paul tells us that God chose us in Jesus Christ before the world began. We are called to be holy and without sin in his sight. God called us to be his children through Jesus Christ. In Jesus and through his Blood we have been saved and our sins forgiven. This is how generous God our Father has been with us. And He has given us the wisdom to understand this mystery, this plan He revealed to us in Christ.

We are Baptized and Confirmed Christians. In both of these sacraments we have renounced Satan, all his works, and the empty promises of the kingdom of darkness. In these Baptismal promises we profess our faith in Jesus Christ and in the Church. Now the kingdom of God is absolutely opposed to Satan's kingdom. Salvation in Jesus Christ presupposes our rejection of the kingdom of darkness. Our life, though, is a spiritual warfare. In the first letter of St. John (1 Jn. 5:18-20) he tells us two things. First of all, we who are born of God (by Baptism and the Holy Spirit) are protected by God so that the Evil One cannot touch us. But he also tells us that the whole world is under the Evil One.

The Evil One can tempt us, but he cannot touch us directly unless we open the door for him. We should not fear Satan nor should we be constantly looking for him in the ordinary happenings of our life.

Do not concentrate on the Evil Spirits, but fix your eyes and your faith upon Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We are saved by Jesus Christ alone, through prayer, our adherence to the Word of God in the Bible, and through the sacraments, especially through the presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist.

In our prayer we should not forget to involve Mary, the Mother of God, who has crushed the head of the ancient serpent (Gen. 3:15). Devotion to Mary is a powerful means of protection in our daily life.

What is the kingdom of Satan, the kingdom of darkness like? It is a lie that seeks to resemble the Kingdom of God. Read Isaiah (14:12-15). It is about Satan. The prophet tells us that in his heart Satan is determined to be like God.

Therefore, in Satan's kingdom he wants everything that is in the Kingdom of God. But his kingdom is a lie; it is false. In the kingdom of darkness, there is false worship and adoration; there is evil prayer. He offers us false happiness and peace. He holds out to us dark wisdom and knowledge. This is how he tempted Adam and Eve (Gen. 3:5). Satan said: "No, God knows well that the moment you eat it (the forbidden fruit) your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods who know what is good and what is bad." In his kingdom, Satan also offers us a health that is unto death, and a protection that is false. Just as we picture the angels of heaven singing and worshipping God, there is also a special music that is evil in the kingdom of darkness.

Satan's kingdom is a lie. He wants to be like God. But in the very first of the Ten Commandments, God told Moses: "I am the Lord your God. You shall not have strange gods that are proposed to us in the kingdom of darkness. " St. Paul tells us to be on our guard: "The Spirit says clearly that some men will abandon their faith in later times. They will obey lying spirits and follow the teaching of demons" (1 Tim. 4:1). Let us hold fast to our faith in the Lord Jesus and his Church. Our salvation is brought about by Jesus Christ alone, through prayer, by reading and studying the Word of God in the Bible, and through the presence of Jesus in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in our tabernacles.

When the Israelites were about to come into the promised land, the Lord God gave them many commandments that had to do with the true worship that He desired, and the false worship that He hated. These same commandments hold for us today.

"When you come into the land which the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not learn to imitate the abominations of the people there. Let there not be found among you anyone who immolates his son or daughter in the fire, nor a fortune teller, soothsayer, charmer, diviner, or caster of spells, nor one who consults ghosts and spirits or seeks oracles from the dead. Anyone who does such things is an abomination to the Lord, and because of such abominations to the Lord, your God is driving these nations out of your way. You, however, must be altogether sincere toward the Lord, your God" (Deut. 18:9-13).

The Lord says that we must be sincere with Him. We cannot have it both ways. Jesus said: "He who is not with Me is against Me" (Matt. 21:30). We have to be firm in our resolution to follow the Lord alone.

Let us now consider some examples of forbidden knowledge and power.

When we talk about forbidden knowledge, we simply mean knowledge that is obtained outside of God's influence or the normal way that human beings obtain knowledge. None of us knows the future; from our knowledge of particular circumstances we can know what might possibly happen. This is one thing. But to seek knowledge of the future or intimate knowledge about another person, apart from God, and through the help of clairvoyance or spirits is what is meant by forbidden knowledge.

Forbidden power is a kind of magical power that produces effects apart from God and in a way that is beyond ordinary human means.

The Kingdom Of Darkness And Forbidden Knowledge

"Do not go to mediums or consult fortune tellers, for you will be defiled by them. I, the Lord, am your God" (Lev. 19:31). "Should anyone turn to mediums and fortune tellers and follow their wanton ways, I will turn against such a one and cut him off from his people" (Lev. 20:6).

Astrology, Horoscopes Are Pagan Customs

Fortune tellers try to predict the future through the use of occult, magic, or superstition. It is forbidden to seek knowledge of the future by using playing cards, tarot cards, the crystal ball, the study of the hand, the stars, examining the liver of dead animals, shooting arrows, the Ouija board, or any other superstitious means.

A medium is a person who has immediate or secret knowledge either by some questionable power of his own or through the power of an evil spirit that works through him. In l Samuel chapter 3, read how King Saul consulted a medium and died the next day. 1 Chronicles 10:13 says that Saul died because of this.

Astrology And Horoscopes


Jeremiah 10:2—"Thus says the Lord: Learn not the customs of the pagans and have no fear of the signs of the heavens, though the pagans fear them." By studying the stars and planets an astrologer casts a horoscope on the basis of the month and the day of an individual's birth. The horoscope is a prediction of events likely to occur in a person's life based upon the movement of the stars and planets. Even though millions of people follow horoscopes with greater or lesser interest, this is still a type of fortune telling. Even if you say you do not believe in horoscopes, and only read your own for fun, you should abandon this practice. The daily horoscope can easily influence us from time to time. It is a way in which we open ourselves to the occult.

If you want to live in the Kingdom of God, renounce horoscopes and all other means of fortune telling. Any playing cards, Ouija boards, or other things used for fortune telling should be destroyed.

The Kingdom Of Darkness And Forbidden Power

Witchcraft or superstitious magic is used to produce effects that are beyond the power of man. These effects may be good or bad and are brought about by the use of magical words or gestures, or the use of magical herbs, powders, liquids or similar things. There is often a specific invocation of the devil. Physical evils are directed against individuals because of hatred or jealousy. We have all heard about sticking pins in dolls, the evil eye, the eating of cursed food or drinking a liquid, that through the power of darkness is to cause harm, sickness, or death. This is witchcraft. Today, witches can be found almost everywhere, and often they are presented in a positive light. Just remember everyone involved in false worship, seeking forbidden knowledge, or using forbidden power should be absolutely avoided.

There is also an increased interest in African witchcraft—voodooism. The gods of voodooism are good and bad. Usually a voodoo service begins after sunset and ends in the early morning. It often includes a bloody sacrifice of a goat or chicken. There is prayer and singing. The gods are supposed to briefly enter into the persons during the ritual.

In voodooism and witchcraft, Catholic objects such as images of saints, crucifixes, candles, holy water and Catholic prayers are sometimes used, as well as other objects and prayers. Do not be fooled by the apparent religious nature of what happens. ~~many many fortune tellers have statues of the saints all around them.

If you have any objects or written prayers that have been used in witchcraft or given you by a witch, they should be completely destroyed.

If you have been involved in witchcraft you must renounce the devil, renounce the witchcraft in which you have been involved and all witchcraft, ask God's pardon, and confess your sin to a priest. In Confession (the Sacrament of Reconciliation) there is Divine Power needed to free one from the influence of evil.

Charms And Amulets

This is a form of magic in which the particular object is believed to have power to attract the good or to ward off evil. These are particularly bad when given to us by a fortune teller, spiritualist, "curandero" or some person involved with the occult. When the object is worn on the person or carried in the purse or placed in the home, it means that the influence of evil is always present there with us.

Examples are: carrying garlic in the purse in order to always have money, keeping an open pair of scissors for good luck, keeping special herbs in a jar, wearing a crescent around the neck or a necklace of garlic, putting alfalfa and flowers in front of a statue, placing figures of oriental or Indian gods in the house, and so on. Much of the modern jewelry worn about the neck is now actually representative of something used in witchcraft. Usually people wear this jewelry innocently.

We must be careful not to use religious medals or statues in a superstitious way. No medal, no statue, nor religious article has any power or luck connected with it. A medal, statue or candle is only a sign of our prayer asking the saint to intercede with God for us. All worship is given to God and to Him alone.

All of the objects described above or any other objects used in a superstitious way should be effectively thrown away or destroyed. If we are wearing jewelry that corresponds to a zodiac sign, or if we wear something that is representative of witchcraft, we can open ourselves unwittingly to the kingdom of darkness. People wear religious medals because they seek the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary or the saints, and they desire the protection and the blessing of God. Wearing something that represents the occult, even in an innocent way, is symbolic of our being under the power of darkness. We should not hesitate to get rid of this type of jewelry. Either we want to be in the Kingdom of God or we don't.

Renounce Satan, renounce the use of charms and ask God's pardon. If you deliberately carved such an object to ward off evil or to attract good luck, it would be well to mention this when you go to Confession.

Place your faith, not in the kingdom of darkness, but only in Jesus Christ who cures, who saves, who protects and who loves us.

Spiritualists Or Spiritualistic Churches

Spiritualism involves a communication with the dead or with the spirit world by some psychic or occult means.

Great care is to be used because many people are fooled. There can be the use of the Bible, holy water, statues of saints and Catholic hymns. Spiritualists often believe in the Fatherhood of God, doing good to others, personal responsibility for what one does, reward for good deeds and punishment for evil deeds. Many are Christian or even Catholic and profess faith in Jesus.

But there is always a dangerous attempt to communicate with the dead or with spirits in some way. It can be through a seance, or perhaps the person just seems to go into a trance.

Sometimes spiritualists are involved in healing, witchcraft, fortune telling or even blessing homes to protect them. Sometimes they believe in reincarnation as well.

Reincarnation (Theosophy)

This is the belief that the soul, after death, passes into the body of another human being, an animal, a plant or even an object. Many oriental religions or cults believe this. In Hinduism the god Vishnu is believed to have several reincarnations as a fish, a dwarf, as the person of Rama, and as Krishna in the different ages of the world. This is contrary to the Bible and to all Christian belief in the afterlife. "It is appointed that men die once, and after death be judged" (Heb. 10:27).

Those involved with spiritualists must renounce Satan, renounce spiritualism, ask God's pardon, and confess their sin to a priest.

Curing Sickness Through Superstition ("Curanderos" And "Santeros")


It doesn't matter if there are statues, holy water, crucifixes, prayers to Jesus, Mary and the saints, if there is any superstitious practice it is evil. These are some examples:

—using charms or a tomato to wash one's body, putting the remainder under the bed,

—cleaning one's body with eggs or lemons and burning the materials with charcoal,

—using rose water and alcohol for healing. (In one case this was prepared by placing a skeleton in the water for six hours, followed by singing and praying over the water.)

Sometimes a "curandero" gives a special vitamin to take or even prescribes "Catholic" prayers to be said. None of these "prayers" should be said in these circumstances because they were prepared under the influence of evil.

Other examples include:

—taking a special bath prepared with wine, flowers, bread, cinnamon, black sugar, and water from a river.
—wrapping a person in a special bandage, cutting off piece by piece, and burying it in a recent grave in the cemetery.

These are just a few of the superstitions used, but there are many more.

Sometimes people pray to God and to the saints and then go off seeking relief through the kingdom of darkness. Many times God does not heal through prayer or doctors because He wants the soul to be healed first of hatred, jealousy, or some other sin. God knows what He is doing. We have to choose either the power of God or the power of evil. If you have any objects used in these false cures, destroy them. Renounce Satan, renounce this sin, ask God's forgiveness and confess your sin to a priest.

Hypnotism

Although hypnotism is now used sometimes by respectable doctors, dentists and therapists, it was linked in the past with the occult and with superstition.

Even when it is legitimate, there are certain real dangers that must be very carefully considered. In hypnotism, one surrenders for a time his own capacity to reason; there is a dependence of the one hypnotized on the will of the hypnotist; also there can be unfortunate aftereffects that result from this technique.

Except for a very serious reason, avoid submitting to a hypnotist; never do it for the purpose of entertainment.

Music
In our day, hard rock music played by "satanic" musical groups presents additional problems. This music often glorifies Satan and also, at times, awakens desires to commit suicide, to use drugs, and to misuse sex. The music is also known to encourage physical violence. Even hell is proposed as a desired end of life. The evil is found in the musical combination of words, rhythm and noise. Records or tapes of this kind should not be kept in the home but should be destroyed, even if they have cost a considerable amount of money. Choose the Kingdom of God!

Devil Worship


It goes without saying that praying to the devil, worshipping Satan, reading the Satanic bible, or taking part in a Black Mass which mocks the crucifixion of Jesus and the Eucharist are among the most serious sins that one can commit.

In some Satanic worship, there is at times sacrifice to Satan by a horrible killing of animals, and even the murder of human infants. The secrecy surrounding this activity enables the "Church of Satan" to obtain a certain respectability in our society. It has the same legal standing as any other church.

Do not be deceived; being involved in this false church is a very serious matter. Catholics who wish to repent must resign from the false religion at whatever cost, renounce Satan and their sin in all their heart, and confess this sin in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

The New Age Movement


Although virtually unknown a few years ago, this movement is gaining in popularity on an international level. On the surface it appears to be a "peace" movement, but in my estimation, it definitely belongs to the occult. This is because it presents some basic characteristics that are identified with the occult, even though Satan is not mentioned.

For example, the "god" of the New Age is not the God of Christianity and Judaism. The New Age god is more like an impersonal energy or force of which the whole universe consists. This is a form of pantheism. For us God is Creator and Lord of all. We are his creatures. In the New Age, Jesus becomes one of the many spiritual masters who discovered his higher self. It is believed that in the New Age we can also be enlightened, and this through our own efforts not through revelation and the grace of God.

The New Age Movement is sometimes called a peace movement. Somehow, it is said, that when we become a part of this "Harmonic Convergence" we can bring to bear a mighty power that is beyond ourselves for achieving world peace. But when we talk about any power that is not from God, and beyond ourselves we are really talking about the occult.

Do not be deceived by the talk about ecology, the beauty of nature in the world, and the fundamental goodness of the apparent goals of this movement. Those who join the New Age Movement are entering a movement dealing with occult spiritual power. It is not a spiritual power that comes from God, but from the Kingdom of False Light and Darkness.

The Kingdom Of Darkness

This kingdom offers a false peace and happiness in sin. Man is capable, especially in heaven, but even here on earth, of experiencing a deep joy and a deep peace given by God. Many of us have experienced this. The false joy offered, for example, in the sin of drunkenness or drug abuse. This false joy is also offered in the sins of sex before marriage, adultery after marriage, or homosexuality.

When people are deeply involved in these sins, or in murder, violent anger or in deep hatred, jealousy and unforgiveness, they are really living in the kingdom of darkness and can open themselves up to the possibility of direct attacks from the evil spirits.

The danger today is that sin has become very "respectable" in our society. Sex before marriage, adultery, heavy social drinking, abortion, and homosexuality have all attained a certain "respectability." They do not seem so bad. That is because they are not bad in the kingdom of darkness.

Eliminating The Kingdom Of Darkness


Our homes should be sacred, peaceful places in which to live. Our homes need to be clean. We should not let them become dirty or allow disorder by having junk and filth accumulate in our drawers and closets. The power of evil abhors cleanliness.

Remove anything in your home that has had something to do with witchcraft, a spiritualist, a curandero, a medium, an oriental religion or cult or that has been used in a superstitious way. Destroy it or see to it that it is destroyed. Do not keep jewelry that is symbolic of witchcraft or is a sign of the Zodiac. Remove and burn all pornographic pictures and magazines—even those that have been put away in a drawer, closet or trunk. Get rid of all religious literature that does not agree with the basic truth of our faith that Jesus Christ is divine. He is the Son of God, our only Savior who brings us to the Father. Remove and destroy literature from the Jehovah Witnesses, Mormons, Christian Science, Unity, Science of Mind, Scientology, Hare Krishna, Yoga, Transcendental Meditation, Divine Light Mission, Unification Church of Sun Myung Moon, the Children of God and the Way International. None of this or similar literature should be around our homes. Do not allow the influence of evil to come into your home through television. Carefully monitor the programs that are seen. The values taught by television advertising are not the values preached by Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Gospel of St. Matthew, chapters 5, 6 and 7.

In The Home—Seeking God's Presence

Although you are not a priest, as a baptized Catholic you have a power that you do not realize. St. Paul, in his letter, told the Ephesians this truth (Eph. 1:19): "How very great is his power that works in us is the same as the mighty strength which He used when He raised Christ from death and seated Him at his right side in the heavenly world. " Think about that for awhile! The power of prayer is greater than we know.

Although we do not have the power of an ordained priest, we can ask God to protect and bless our homes. It is good for us to keep blessed water in our homes and use it frequently. If we wish to ask God's blessing on our own homes, we can say a simple prayer of blessing and then sprinkle holy water in each room. Such a prayer of blessing could be something like the following:

"Heavenly Father, we ask your blessing upon our home. In the name of your Son Jesus we ask to be delivered from sin and all evil influence. Protect us from sickness, accidents, theft and all domestic tragedies. We place our home under the Lordship of Jesus and consecrate ourselves to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. May all who live here receive your blessing of peace and love." An "Our Father" and "Hail Mary" could also be recited.

The consecration of the family and the home to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is another beautiful Catholic custom. We need to have a crucifix and pictures of the Sacred Heart and Our Blessed Lady in our homes. We want home to be a sacred place.

There needs to be a place in the home where the members of the family come together to pray. In some Mexican families the custom of having a little altar with pictures or statues, not only of Jesus, Mary and the saints, but also pictures of members of the family is observed. It reminds us to pray for them.

Freeing My Own Self From The Power Of Evil


Through his passion, death, and resurrection, Jesus has broken the power of the Evil One. When the influence of evil is perceived in one's own life, it most frequently comes about from personal sin. Family members suffer because of the sin of an individual member of the family. It is through the sacred power that the Lord has placed in his Church that the evil of sin is conquered.

Through medicine, psychology and other human means, suffering can often be alleviated. But Jesus in his Church, has given us basic helps that are often neglected.

In our day the Sacrament of Reconciliation has fallen into disuse. There exists a power in this sacrament to break the power of the Evil One and sin that is not possible otherwise.

Our faith in the Eucharist is weakened. In this sacrament is the power and presence of Jesus Himself. Persons who have actually needed exorcism from the power of the Evil One have been cured by sitting in church in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, an hour each day, for one or two months. These were very difficult cases.

Our Blessed Mother has been designated by God as the one who crushes the head of the serpent (Gen. 3:1s). The Rosary is a very powerful means of protection and salvation. Many sons and daughters have been saved from the power of sin and the loss of faith through the perseverance of their parents in saying the Holy Rosary.

The "Evil Eye" Or "Hex": A Special Note


Once in a while people are afraid because they believe that someone has looked upon them with an "evil eye," placed a "hex" upon them or has done something by means of witchcraft to bring them under the destructive power of the enemy. What about this problem?

My own personal beliefs are as follows: Jesus is Lord and God. He is Lord and therefore has dominion over both the Kingdom of Light and the Kingdom of Darkness. Satan has no dominion over the Kingdom of Light. He is allowed a limited dominion over the Kingdom of Darkness.

Therefore, if I am baptized and am living in the Kingdom of Light in the state of Sanctifying Grace, Satan has no dominion over me unless through fear I open the door to his influence. Sanctifying Grace means that I am sharing in a mysterious way in the life of God Himself and He is dwelling in my soul (Rom. 5:5; 2 Cor. 6:16; John 14:23). However, when I commit a mortal sin, a serious sin, then I lose Sanctifying Grace and begin to live in the Kingdom of Darkness. Even though I have been Baptized and possibly Confirmed, I become somewhat vulnerable. As I persist, unrepentant in serious sin, I become vulnerable to the influence of Satan.

When we are living in the Kingdom of Light, in the state of Sanctifying Grace, we should simply reject all fear, and place our confidence in God and in Our Lady, then live according to the advice previously given in this article as far as the Kingdom of Darkness is concerned.

Again, however, there is the difficulty of defining sin in our present age. We have to define sin according to the Gospel and the official teaching of our Church as it has been handed down by the Church's Magisterium and not define it by the viewpoint of the modern age which has been contaminated. Many people live in sin and have false peace, because their conscience has been formed, not by the Gospel, but by the spirit of this age. They may be leading very respectable lives, be law-abiding citizens, and in the estimation of people, leading good lives. But if they are not living according to the Ten Commandments, the Gospel, and the moral teaching of the Church, even in just one area that concerns serious sin, they are probably living in the Kingdom of Darkness.

The Sacrament of Reconciliation and the Eucharist, (as well as all of the sacraments) are very special weapons that Jesus gave to his Church to overcome the Kingdom of Sin and Darkness. We need to use these sacraments as Christ meant them to be used and have no fear of the enemy. If one has a heavy problem in this regard, I suggest daily Mass and Communion.



Conclusion
There are many and varied ways in which sin and evil are presented to us in an attractive way. This article presents some ways that many of us rarely think about. I pray this article will be a source of knowledge and help for those who read it.

A Pastoral Letter by Most Rev. Donald W. Montrose, Bishop of Stockton, CA