Let not your heart be troubled

Let not your heart be troubled

In light of recent court decisions, legislative events, and various haughty celebrations which followed, a great many of my friends expressed dismay, distress, and despair, especially concerning the future of Catholics and religious freedom in America. While I have experienced great disappointment with the five tyrants on the court calling those who oppose “gay marriage” as “enemies of the human race,” I was reminded by a little bird that my trust belongs in God, not in men. My cohort, Micah, wrote a post titled To Heaven with Us! at the beginning of last year explaining what Catholics must do in the face of an increasingly hostile society and government.  In keeping with his penchant for numbered lists, he included seven things we can do, which are particularly relevant for today.  His advice basically boiled down to frequent reception of sacraments, prayer, and scripture, which feed the soul so the soul may spread the Gospel and be a beacon to the wayward and the faithful, and a source of encouragement to clergy. It seems to many that it can’t get too much worse than it is now.  I believe this is only the beginning of a war by our government to remove God from society and replace it with government.  I fear things will get far worse.  I fear for my children and the persecution the may have to endure.  Those thoughts are hard to bear, even harder if you have no faith. What? I’m an eternal optimist.  I think things will always work out for the best, and often times I’m crushed when they don’t, but I always have...
Down in the Mouth: A Note on Prayer and Suffering

Down in the Mouth: A Note on Prayer and Suffering

My wife and I have two children, four months apart (go figure), both under the age of two.  Currently they’re both in day care which means they’re both constantly exposed to all the germs passed by a dozen or so other kids.  Since October, our family has endured three cases of food poisoning, eight ear infections, two cases of bronchitis, three cases of pneumonia and currently suffer from three cases of strep throat and one case of hand, foot, and mouth which is not to be confused with hoof and mouth or mad cow disease. Before having kids, I was relatively healthy.  I sometimes had allergies or a sinus infection, but I usually overcame them with decent success using every homeopathic remedy on God’s green earth, however, the last six months has brought a barrage of sickness quicker than I could fully recover.  These months have provided an excellent opportunity to practice joy in suffering.  To many people, that probably sounds ridiculousJoy in suffering? That's quite an oxymoron, isn't it? .  It certainly sounds ridiculous if your definition of joy is “happiness and comfort”.  Joy, however, is not about feeling physically or emotionally satisfied, but rather about having a certain peace that despite the hardship, you know you are doing something for God.  I’d posit that the greater the hardship, the greater the faith, the greater the joy. “Jesus says; ‘My daughter, I want to instruct you on how you are to rescue souls through sacrifice and prayer.  You will save more souls through prayer and suffering than will a missionary through his teachings and sermons alone.” ~Diary of...

The Valley of Tears

Out of the deep have I called unto thee O Lord; Lord, hear my voice! O let thine ears consider well The voice of my complaint. -Psalm 130:1-2 Given all the drama within the Catholic universe lately, as well as the perilous state of national and worldwide affairs, I found myself half-joking with a friend that we’re no longer certain that the End Times are not at hand.  Then again, a Christian being fed to a first-century lion would probably love to battle a contraception mandate. Anecdotally, the level of suffering in my immediate experience of the world has risen considerably.  Loved ones with cancer, employment issues, discord among friends, screaming babies, exhaustion; such a storm brews around nearly every one of us that the list of intentions we lift up to God becomes too many to count, causing us to drop the formality and ask for help for “everything and everybody.”  Suddenly a violent storm came up on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by waves; but Jesus was asleep. -Matthew 8:24 Serenity is something for which many people pray in the midst of distress; however, it is a virtue that is often misunderstood.  Christ never said that we would be free from suffering, only that we should not fear the suffering that this world affords to its followers; for he has overcome the world.  Serenity is not freedom from the storm, but peace amidst the storm. The Serenity Prayer is one that provides great perspective and checks the expectations of those that pray it.  Generally, people are only aware of the first half: God,...

Undying Hope

Lately it seems the news headlines have increasingly included stories of persecution of Catholics or the Catholic Church, whether the abortion issue, so-called homosexual “rights”, or the unending slaughter of Coptic Christians and others by Muslim jihadis.  The daily barrage of such news stories can leave one feeling as though the whole world has turned against the one, holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.  While sometimes I find myself slightly discouraged by the persecution encountered for living my faith, I constantly look for signs of hope from people who have lived through tougher times. One topic from which I have drawn countless hours of information and insight, is the Holocaust, the attempted and unsuccessful German extermination of the Jewish people.  My greatest interest in the Holocaust, I think, stems from the parallel of martyrdom of early Christians and the Jewish people some 70 years ago.   It’s almost as if the stories of suffering, brutality, and even hope are somehow transcendent of time and pass from the original Christian persecution around the time of Christ to be embodied in the stories of modern day survivors.  Two stories I would like to highlight for you. The first is the story of Tadeusz Raznikiewicz (featured on Paul Camarata’s Saintcast Podcast) a concentration camp survivor and eyewitness to the last days of St. Maximilian Kolbe.  Mr. Raznikiewicz details his personal experiences with “Pater Kolbe”, as well as his own life in the concentration camps. The second is a podcast called “An Unbroken Chain” by Dr. Henry Oertelt, detailing the events in his life which resulted in his surviving the concentration camps.  Although Dr. Oertelt...