Our Lady and Sheen

“Whatever is received is received according to the manner of the one receiving it.”

The quote above is from Sheen’s “Power of Love” from “philosophers of the Middle Ages.”. He goes on to say this means, “food laid on a rock is not received in the same manner as food laid on a tongue,” etc (14).

When we are able to Love, we see the beloved more beautifully than one who does not love. To the varying degrees in which we love, we are able to see more or less beauty; as someone who hates is not able to see the beauty at all, for the beauty becomes hateful.

Sheen writes, “The lover has a vision of beauty which is denied the one who hates. When love goes, often even the truly beautiful ceases to be beautiful. A husband who begins to love another woman will wonder why everyone else considers His wife so attractive,” then, “not only the eyes but also the heart can grow cataracts which distort vision, so that the beautiful may even seem ugly.”

How true is this story to us who have fallen into bitterness against someone, and can no longer see any good. I know I am guilty of allowing one grievance to hold me hostage against a thousand virtues of a man, and I am sorry for this sin.

Husbands, continue to love your wives as Christ loved the Church. In this way your wife will remain beautiful to you, even as we remain beautiful to Our Lord.

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March 20, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Sheen and Love in the confessional

The Power of Love by Ven. Fulton Sheen gives an encouragement to those who wish to love. Namely priests and doctors.

One can never love in a hurry… To hurry the distressed and the disturbed, either through the confessional or the parlor or the clinic, is to make oneself a merchant dealing with things, rather than a dedicated servant of the poor, the sick and the disturbed…

Every human person has within himself a rhythm or a tempo, to which the one who serves must tune in…The speeding up of confessions, the rushing of consultations, or imposing one’s own mind in counseling, are failures to love. To love anyone means to give one’s talent, to give one’s time, to give one’s money; in a word, to become identified with the soul in crisis.

How intense a calling it is then to be a priest, or a doctor, or a teacher! Let us examine quickly the ideal that Ven. Sheen is calling for. First, we must give of ourselves. It may not be money, or counsel, but it will be that more precious item we are given by God: TIME. Each time we help someone, we MUST give time. Using time is the most charitable act that we can have upon earth. I may be wrong, but if we are to do things for our fellow man out of Love of God (the theological virtue of Charity), we give only what God has already given us. Time is irreplaceable on earth, and is the most charitable of gifts.

Second, we must always look towards the person as a person in the image and likeness of God. We do not errr… We should not pretend to know God in his wholeness, for who is God’s counselor? (Romans 11:34). We take time to “investigate” God through prayer. Sometimes with our friends we receive more knowledge that we wish to have, and we lose part of our friendship. The same was true with Christ’s mission on earth, many abandoned him when it became too “intimate” (John 6:66). We must invest time in our relationship, even if you are blessed with interlocutions they still take seconds to process in our mind or ears. How much more then should we listen to our fellow man, who is not yet perfected as God is perfect? My guess is that it would take more than a cursory glance at the man.

Finally, sometimes we must give money, or talent, or something else of value. We can not always just tell someone to have peace, and be warm and fed; we must often do more than just give our time! (James 2:15-17) We must give talent and treasure to the needy, or we have done little to help them see the physical manifestation of Christ’s passionate love.

For those of you called to lay down your life for a friend, how blessed are you to partake in the sacrifice of Christ! For those of us called to lay down $20 or a coat and perform a smaller act of love, are we too proud to perform that act of humble charity? Perhaps in the building up of e virtues of Charity we will be more ready to courageously face the laying down of our physical life for our friends… Or, with the Grace of God lay down our lives for our enemy.

Perhaps, the greatest act of love is to lay down our lives out of love for God, constantly. I know I am far from that goal. But one day, perhaps, God will give me the grace to answer his call more deeply and be less selfish.

Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us!
Our Lady, Mother of God, pray for us.

March 18, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Love begins as a Duty” – Fulton Sheen

As I often say when it comes to love, “Sacrifice is the name of the game.” I’m sure that I heard it from someone very important and wise, and even if I didn’t, this would probably be the most “inspired” thing that I’d ever said. It’s hard to imagine this Agape (all you Greek loving folks, I’m sorry I don’t have the Greek font to use, please forgive me), after all “it was used only 10 times by Homer,” (Sheen, F. The Power of Love, 7). Our Christian duty is to be perfected as our Father is Perfect (Matt. 5:48), and God is Love, and God sent His only begotten Son into the world because he loved it (John 3:16). So what then are we supposed to do if we do not like the people that we are supposed to love?

I don’t like a lot of people. As my brother, Bernard would tell you, I love him. But for a period of time, I did not like him. It was an extremely disturbing time of my life because I was completely conflicted. In one lung I was angry, hurt, and felt betrayed. In the other lung I only wanted to be his friend and to love him. That dual nature is hard to reconcile within oneself and it contributed to a feeling that I was losing control in my life.

While we might not “like” someone, especially at first, we are called to love our neighbor. Our Lord was very clear when he described who our neighbor was, but of course it is hard for those of us on our knees to reach that level of Love that the Second Person of the Holy Trinity had. We ask for Grace, we ask for examples, and we ask for Love ourselves. But! This may be part of the Cross that you take up! The Cross of Our Divine Lord! Like the Cyrene we are called to take part in the Divine Mission. We are called to sacrifice united with The Sacrifice (Col. 1:24); and we are called to love, united with The Love. How can we call ourselves Christians, without lying, if we do not try to follow the teachings of Our Lord?

So how then are we supposed to “love,” if we do not even “like”? Venerable Fulton J. Sheen in “The Power of Love” tells us that, “When there is no spontaneous love, love begins only as a duty,”(p. 4) A “duty?!” That sounds awful! I hate working and grinding away, why would I want to take on another “duty” to continue to do things? Ven. Sheen continues, “But as we learn to write by writing, to cook by cooking, to be courteous by practising kindliness, so we learn to love by loving.”

Hmm… most of us enjoy eating, if not writing or being courteous. So, focusing there, I would say that if I were to desire to eat, I should learn to cook. Yes, I could go out to restaurants, or fast food joints, or perhaps just have my wife who would cook better than I; but in the meantime, what am I to do for food? I could eat richly, spending much money at “nice” restaurants; I hope all of you are monetarily endowed enough to do that. Perhaps that money would be better suited for the poor, it’s always a debate I have with myself.

I could also fill myself with “cheaper” fast food which I think we all will agree that sometimes it’s hard to pass up having things “your way, right away,” and who can resist “good mood food.” But, we run the risk of eating unhealthily, and that would not be good – again something I have to fight with myself often. It is much easier to write about things in the abstract than to actually struggle with them.

Finally, I could get married to a wonderful woman who loves to cook and never burns the roast. Additionally, she would mirror Our Lady in so many qualities that I would grow in holiness just from being around her. I should stop before I just start my “personal ad.”

As a bachelor, if I would like “good” food, relatively inexpensively I can learn to cook. At first I learned to cook very simple things, and now, 10 years later, I still cook very simple things! But I try to learn to cook other things, and sometimes I’m successful. Sometimes I just feel like I’ve accomplished something. Perhaps that is why I do it! Perhaps I enjoy dicing onions or tomatoes (I do); perhaps I like seeing cheese melt onto something (I do); and perhaps I like the idea that if I cook for someone I feel as though I have offered them a small act of love… which brings us back to “Do, a dear, a female…” I mean, it brings us back to “Love.”

We grow in our ability to do things by doing them. If I never inserted my Polish Language CD I would not be able to say, “Rozumiem trochę po polsku.” If I never asked my friend if I could help her make cupcakes, I’d never know how to make Key-lime filled merengue topped desserts!

This is why Ven. Sheen finishes his thought with, “The ‘I ought’ after a while passes to ‘I love.'”

Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us!
Our Lady, Mother of Divine Grace, pray for us!
Venerable Archbishop Sheen, pray for us!

March 5, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Breaking…err… WAKING up is hard to do! (Part 2)

Just a reminder of the quotes of St. Josemaria Escriva from The New Liturgical Movement I’m working from:

“Conquer yourself each day from the very first moment, getting up on the dot, at a set time, without granting a single minute to laziness. If, with the help of God, you conquer yourself in that moment, you’ll have accomplished a great deal for the rest of the day. It’s so discouraging to find yourself beaten in the first skirmish!” (191)

and

“The heroic minute. It’s time to get up, on the dot! Without hesitation, a supernatural thought and … up! The heroic minute; here you have a mortification that strengthens your will and does not weaken your body.” (206)

I spoke about how easy it was to wake up when my mother called me. There have been a few other instances where it was easy to wake up.

In high school, I had a girl whom I cared about very deeply, nothing any more than friendship, but still a deep love. I know I said my mother usually called me to wake me up, but for a period of time I’d wake up even earlier than normal so that I could spend my morning talking to my friend, to help her wake up to get to her school. I remember this with my fondest memories. She was not a morning person, and she had a lot of problems sometimes, so she wasn’t always in the best mood. But, speaking with her, I’d usually be able to make her laugh and get ready for the day. In return, the joy I’d feel in having such a great friend made my day amazing. It was a great situation, although from the secular point of view people would think that I was “being used” or “doing more” for our friendship.

In college, I relayed how I missed a lot of 8 am classes, some of which I liked. But, when I had a friend who wanted to meet me for breakfast at 7am, I never let them down (well, almost never). I’d wake up way earlier than I needed to, eat breakfast way earlier than I needed to, be at class. A win/win situation. Friendship, fun, and improved success. Just by conquering my desire not to get out of bed, I did better for myself and others!

I have friends who sleep ALL THE TIME, but when there is something that they are doing they shoot out of bed and I’ve never seen anyone ready so quickly. It’s like a rocket ship. I have the opposite problem with events… usually I can’t sleep before anyway. It is interesting to see how different people respond to different stimuli.

How funny is this?
1. St. Escriva believes that the moment of waking up is an act of mortification.
2. The times its been easiest to wake up, have been times when I was waking up for someone else, either because of their love for me or mine for them.
3. Waking up “on the dot” is mortification, and we (usually) happily mortify ourselves for someone/something we want.
4. So… maybe Love should be the reason we mortify ourselves? We give up something we want for someone else, or for something else, or… perhaps for another, higher, reason?

St. Josemaria Escriva, pray for us.
Venerable Fulton Sheen, pray for us.
Our Lady, pray for us.

February 15, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

Sheen on Christ and modernity (and antiquity)

In Venerable Sheen’s book, “Go To Heaven,” there is a passage that I think is very relevant for today. In describing the Beatitudes, Sheen gets into the nitty gritty of the statements Our Lord is making. After saying “You have heard,” and then we here the rest of God’s command of true LOVE. As Sheen writes, and we all need to consider if we are called to the vocation of marriage:

Christ affirmed that when a man married a woman, he married both her body and her soul; he married the whole person. If he got tired of the body, he might not thrust her body away for another, since he was still responsible for her soul. So He thundered, “You have heard.” In that expression He summarized the jargon of every decaying civilization [take heed]. “You have heard, ‘Get a divorce; God does not expect you to live without happiness'”; then came the “But.” “But I tell you that the man who puts away his wife makes an adulteress of her, and whoever marries her after she has been put away, commits adultery” (Matthew 5:32).
What matters if the body is lost? The soul is still there and that is worth more than the thrill a body can give, more even than the universe itself. He would keep men and women pure, not from contagion, but from desire of another; to imagine betrayal is in itself a betrayal. So He declared: “What God has joined, let not man put asunder” (Mark 10:9).
No man! No judge! No nation! (Go To Heaven, p 43-44)

Let us join together with those in the world praying for the union of souls with each other and with God, the strengthening of marriage, and the desire to love as God has Loved. Let us image the love of the Blessed Virgin and St. Joseph her most chaste spouse.

Saint Valentine, Pray for us.

February 14, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

Loneliness pt. 2

A continuation from my last post.

“Love!? Of course that’s the answer to my loneliness! If someone would love me, I wouldn’t be lonely! Thank you for stating the obvious, that doesn’t help.” That was my response… sort of.

Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen is much more wise than I am. By the time he was my age, he was a priest and was making a Eucharistic Holy Hour daily, and the School of the Eucharist is the greatest classroom on Earth. How then is love the answer to loneliness, if not in the way we think?

Sheen writes that those who feel the most lonely feel so because of “an abnormal complex to be loved.” The desire to be loved is normal for humans, but the lonely demand love, and “to demand love is to kill it.” When love decreases, loneliness increases, and the demand for love increases, which makes love decrease and a spiral is born. The wife demands more time from her husband in order to prove his love, as Sheen points out, the husband resents this demand after a while, and a marriage is ruined.

Sheen compares the abnormal desire for love that wounded men feel to the Dead Sea: “The fresh waters of the Jordan pour into it but, having no outlet, it’s waters suffer no living creatures to flourish therein. It condemns itself to sterility because it does not serve.” Similarly, “Loneliness, by a curious paradox, is begotten of the madness of the arms opened to be embraced but never extended to serve.” How true, since love is a sacrifice. The more we love, genuinely and unselfishly, the more we Love through God, the more we have love.

We can be loved by man, and we can e Loved by God; which then is stronger? The infinite Love of God, of course, is unceasing. If we love out neighbor out of Love of God, don’t we have love flowing through us? We have love straight from the source, no middleman is necessary. The next question is a simple one: “Would we rather have others love us, or have true Love?” If we would rather have others love us, over true Love, are we not showing pride? Indeed we are trying to posses others, even if we feel that it is a powerful good.

If we choose the later, true Love, we possess it as a gift from the Father so that we may give it freely. It is a transient possession, the virtue of Charity. We become a channel of true Love through our desire to love God so much that we can not help but love our neighbor. We then have the self-sacrificing love that is the grain of wheat falling on the ground; we are the father fighting for the freedom of his children; we are the mother curled around her infant to protect him from harm; and we unite ourselves with the greatest love of all, the Love that is Calvary.

Then, with that Divine Love flowing through us, how could we dare think ourselves lonely? Indeed, we have united ourselves in communion with the greatest un-lonely, the Holy Trinity.

I am on my way to my cousin’s wedding, what a great occasion for love of family. In my next post, I will try to relate how the Servant of God Fulton Sheen advises helping those who are lonely.

God love you!

September 21, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | 2 Comments

October Baby

October Baby is the only movie that I have ever seen where the effects of Abortion are the direct motive of the movie.  Juno had a little bit about pregnancy and choices, and there have been others that take the other perspective of trying to get pregnant, but this movie is unique.

To be fair, this movie deals with the survivors of abortion; the child within and the mother.  I am not able to do the subject justice, but I will try.

Be prepared, above all else, for an emotional roller coaster.  The script is so well written that I felt myself rolling from one emotional high to another, with the play between agony for the characters, laughter with them, and longing in all of it being masterfully done.  With a few exceptions, the script was constantly focused, but not “preachy.”  I am sure that some people who feel that abortion is “good” will feel this is a horrible movie, but the movie speaks mostly to the emotional nature of abortions, including the struggle that women and men go through to make those decisions.  If you were to watch this movie without a political agenda, I think that you would find that it is a powerful story.

“Every life is beautiful,” is a motto that we should all carry on our hearts and lips.  This does not mean, as Catholics are accused, that we only care about until birth, it means we rejoice in the life of everyone we meet!  Sometimes this is the hardest thing ever, we all know people who seem to WANT us to hate them, as if it’s their life’s goal.  (Doesn’t that make us feel important when we are the sole reason for someone existing? I try to keep that in mind! 🙂 ) If we can not love our neighbors, much less our enemies, how are we to truly love everyone.  We must reach out to the mother with her child, the father struggling with decisions, yes! But, we must also reach out to all of humanity with the same love.

I pray always that abortion will no longer exist and that Love will overtake all the world; until then, this movie opens up an opportunity to reflect and have conversations with others.

The PG-13 movie is rated A-II (adults and adolescents) by the USCCB’s raters.

April 9, 2012 Posted by | Movie Review Monday | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Installation of a Pastor

One of the first Masses I attended in Natchitoches was the installation of the new pastor at the church that is now the Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary… or just “Immaculate Conception.”  Four years later, bright and early tomorrow morning, I will drive a few miles away to Campti to see a priest who is a friend of mine be formally handed over to his parish.  I like to read canon law… sometimes when something is interesting, and so I went to the handy dandy Code of Canon Law and looked up some information on the role of a pastor. My favorite:

Can. 528 §2. The pastor is to see to it that the Most Holy Eucharist is the center of the parish assembly of the faithful.

§1 speaks of the necessity to inform the faithful of the Gospel, the spirit of the gospel, informing what social justice is, and interacting with the faithful so that the gospel message reaches those who may have stopped practicing the religion.  But, section 2 makes it clear that “the Most Holy Eucharist is the center of the parish assembly of the faithful.”  This intrigues me as I watch “catholics” attempt to make other issues the center of their parish.  Even if Can. 528 is speaking purely of the actual assembly of the faithful for prayer in a literal sense, it seems to me that if the Eucharist is replaced by agendas or innovation, then we have a problem.

I guess when it comes down to it, I just enjoy that in the “dry” reading of law, you come to this sentence that is almost poetic and is definitely beautiful, speaking of our Lord in the Most Blessed Sacrament.  It’s like reading a grocery list and halfway down the page your husband or wife or child or parents has written, “and I still love you.”  How great is the love of even the lawyers of the Church.

Our Lady, conceived without sin and born to bear The Lord, pray for us.

July 30, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Happy St. Valentine’s Day

A few days ago, a student asked me if I wanted to buy a valentine for anyone; I must admit it made me cringe ever so slightly, then I realized that it’s not that big of a deal!  (I do enjoy that St. Valentine is listed as the patron saint of greeting card manufacturers!)

“Wuv… twue wuv,” as the man says, is not something that is eternal.  It is, in fact, someone who is eternal.   The most beautiful part about the Love to me is that throughout time it is the Love of the Cross.  St. Valentine, while alive served the faithful by providing the sacrament of matrimony in the face of the Emperor’s order against it.  He gave his life in an attempt to allow those creatures of God an opportunity to mirror the heavenly love.

While jailed by the Romans he cured the sight of his jailer’s daughter, and mailed off to her a lovely letter, encouraging her in her faith, signing it “Your Valentine.”  Then he was beheaded for the love of Christ.

In the words of our priest at Mass, red, the color of love, is also the color of blood out-poured by the martyrs, like St. Valentine.  I enjoy CatholicCulture.org for its coverage of feast days like today.

St. Valentine, pray for us, and especially for those couples attempting to live lives of Christian virtue.

February 14, 2011 Posted by | Feast | , , | Leave a comment

Love and working.

I have a new song that I really enjoy.  I know that I love the chorus, or part of it.  It’s by the Sidewalk Prophets, entitled “You Can Have Me.”

So often, as Catholics, we are told that we believe we have to earn our way into Heaven, instead of just accepting the Grace that saves (salvific Grace, for the Catholic term).  But I was listening to this song, and it seems that they describe the Catholic understanding of good works in conjunction with faith perfectly.

The one line from the chorus is, “When did love become unmoving? and when did love become unconsuming?”

It’s an absolutely beautiful image.  I know that when I have friends whom I am very close to, I want to do things for them.  Not because they will pay me back, but because of the relationship.  If it’s a guy, I want to really challenge them to be better men, and I want them to do that to me.  I want to know that they love me enough to want me to be the best man that I can be, and I want them to be the best men that they can be.

When it comes to girls, I tend to lean more towards the chivalrous nature.  Even within that context of friendship, I want them to know that I love them deeply, because I love them, not for the benefit of the relationship.  I go out of my way to make them smile, feel good about themselves, open doors, the whole nine yards as much as possible.

In the same way, the God of the universe created us and loves each of us infinitely and goes out of his way to open doors, or pull out chairs, or challenge us to be better, or whatever analogy you would like to know, because he desires us in heaven with Him for all eternity (see Baltimore Catechism, lesson 1, question 3 if you need more).  Why does God do all of these things for us?  Because, in the under-educated layman’s terms, the infinite love that He has inspires Him to purely, out of love.

Additionally, if God loves us to the point where He willingly does all things for us and so that we may have life to the fullest, are we to say that we love God and then sit down on our couch and never call, or see each other.  No!

What then are these works that we do, is it out of an obligation to “earn our way into heaven?”  No.  The works that we perform are inspired by the Charity (think faith, hope and love) that is given to us by God to perform for our fellow man.  James 2:14-26, a teaching that can be as hard for some as John 6, is the goal of our Love for God.  It is to reach out with all our heart to the fellow man, first to inspire him to have his soul saved, and secondly to take care of him corporally. 

These are the works of which we sometimes forget are required.  There are consequences to failing to perform these works, and there is Heaven or Hell for all eternity to content with:

And when the Son of man shall come in his majesty, and all the angels with him, then shall he sit upon the seat of his majesty. And all nations shall be gathered together before him, and he shall separate them one from another, as the shepherd separateth the sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on his left.  Then shall the king say to them that shall be on his right hand: Come, ye blessed of my Father, possess you the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave me to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me to drink; I was a stranger, and you took me in:Naked, and you covered me: sick, and you visited me: I was in prison, and you came to me. Then shall the just answer him, saying: Lord, when did we see thee hungry, and fed thee; thirsty, and gave thee drink?  And when did we see thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and covered thee? Or when did we see thee sick or in prison, and came to thee? And the king answering, shall say to them: Amen I say to you, as long as you did it to one of these my least brethren, you did it to me.

Then he shall say to them also that shall be on his left hand: Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry, and you gave me not to eat: I was thirsty, and you gave me not to drink. I was a stranger, and you took me not in: naked, and you covered me not: sick and in prison, and you did not visit me. Then they also shall answer him, saying: Lord, when did we see thee hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister to thee? Then he shall answer them, saying: Amen I say to you, as long as you did it not to one of these least, neither did you do it to me.

And these shall go into everlasting punishment: but the just, into life everlasting. (Matt 25:31-46)

September 9, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment