Grateful that God allowed His guardian angels to save this little one.
This sweet child and his parents are symptomatic of the larger problem sweeping humanity - the complete disregard for human life.
And that, itself, probably stems from the fact that, by and large, we feel "hindered" by the mere thought of caring for another person. Isn't that what birth control, euthanasia and abortion are for?
Forgive us, Lord, for we know what we do and we do it anyway...
Brace yourselves for one of the nerdiest "fan-girl" type entries ever.
And yes, it's about a homily.
I'm not even sure where to begin as I'm so giddy over the brilliance and no-nonsense approach this retired priest (who is filling in for Fr. Atlas while he's away). It was his mission to defend the Eucharist and educate parishioners on the importance we should place on the Real Presence of Christ - what a gem! If I didn't have Vince on my lap, I would've taken a pen and paper out for notes!
To begin, this weekend's readings were very much Eucharistic in nature. The first reading dealt with the manna from Heaven that nourished the Israelites as they wandered through the desert. The psalm was a reflection of this reading and also foreshadowed the joyful thanksgiving we ought to sing in praise of His gracious institution of the Holy Eucharist.
The second reading reminds us that the bread that nourishes us it not only physical but spiritual. Christ, the Word, is our sustenance. His teachings and example are the gateway to Heaven.
Finally, in the gospel, we hear Jesus, Himself, affirm that He is the Bread of Life. This is not some spiritual manner of speaking. He is affirming His Presence in the Holy Eucharist - the greatest of all Sacraments. He is preparing His followers to understand and accept this unfathomable mercy.
Upon walking out amongst the congregation, Fr. Eucharist (as I'll call him henceforth) spoke of several mystics who lived solely on the Body of Christ in the Eucharist.
He didn't specify a particular mystic, but considering the scientific evidence he spoke of regarding the validity of these miraculous signs, my mind jumped to Blessed Alexandrina who subsisted on nothing but the Holy Eucharist for 13 years (to the astonishment of the many doctors and scientists who examined her).
Fr. Eucharist wanted to highlight that the Blessed Sacrament is not just symbol of Christ. This Sacrament of Love is the fullness of Christ's Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. When we say "Amen" in response to the priest's offering, we are saying "Yes, I believe!" that the consecrated Host we receive is, in fact, God. He has chosen to use some of His saints to hit home this point through allowing them the grace of existing solely on His Body. As He said, "My Flesh is true food, and My Blood is true drink." Amen, indeed.
As such, the Eucharist is to be the most important thing in our lives. It is the banquet that supercedes all other banquets.
Upon this reflection, Father Eucharist then went on to describe some key elements that build up our Mass towards this miraculous banquet.
The procession and readings - our Liturgy of the Word - is like a cocktail hour. I loved that comparison! At a wedding cocktail, for example, we gather together with joy to catch up with family and friends we haven't seen in a while. We see how the kids are doing, we find out what so-and-so's been up to, and we bask in the filial love present amongst us all.
During the cocktail hour, we also get tiny samples of the greater meal awaiting us at the main banquet. For us, those morsels are the various readings and responses. As Catholics, we believe that Christ is the Word, so we are blessed to receive Him with our ears before we partake of the "main course" of the Liturgy of the Eucharist.
And oh... the Liturgy of the Eucharist. Pardon me as I 'squee' ridiculously for a few moments. He really took off running as he reflected on the Liturgy of the Eucharist.
Once again he discussed the spiritual reality of our physical presence at Mass.
As St. John Chrysostom once said, "When Mass is being celebrated, the sanctuary is filled with countless angels who adore the divine victim
immolated on the altar."
Amen, St. John!
Fr. Eucharist reminded of this in such a reverent, direct way that I could have stood up to applaud him. He said, "Yes! There is truth beyond what we can see with our physical eyes. At the words of consecration, Jesus is standing behind the priest! God the Father and Holy Spirit are with Him. Mary, His mother, is there with St. Joseph. And filling the sanctuary are the angels and saints who, together with us, adore and praise Him."
How I managed to stay in my seat and not jump up to hug him is truly beyond me. I felt as if my heart had doubled in size just so it could sprout arms and embrace him.
Yes, Fr. Eucharist, yes! TELL US! TEACH US! REMIND US THAT THE EUCHARIST IS GOD TRULY PRESENT! Shine as an example to all other priests that THIS is the type of truth so desperately needed in the world today. THIS is what Catholics must be reminded of so that we can properly appreciate the gift that is the Eucharist.
Did he stop there? No no, folks. My giddiness erupted as he went on.
Catholics, when they present themselves for the Eucharist, must make a throne with their hands with which to accept the Body of Christ. Not with one hand. Not with two haphazardly placed together. Reverently accept Him as the King He is!
*He then proceeded to show us what that would look like.*
And, bless him, he also gave a nod to acceptance on the tongue (which is how I receive anyway).
And to boot, he called out folks who leave after receiving the Eucharist. He said, "And to those of you who leave after Communion, you're missing a lot of stuff! From Consecration until the Recessional, the Blood of Christ covers the congregation, filling us with untold graces!"
He again didn't mention a specific mystic, but I'm about 99.9% sure he was referring to the revelations made by the Blessed Mother to Catalina Revas of Bolivia. I'd only recently learned of her (I would guess in the last 8 months or so), but the insights and revelations made to her by Christ and Our Lady have forever changed my participation in the Mass. I would encourage all of you to read more about her! But again, use the typical caution regarding private revelations. Though not forbidden / approved by the Church, it us up to the individual to request guidance and discernment from the Holy Spirit.
Back to the wonderful priest, however, he closed his homily with a reminder that after reception of the Eucharist, we would do well to remember that God, Himself, dwells within us. So as we walk back to our seats, it's not the time for saying "Hi" to friends, nor is it the time to get one's self ready to leave. The time after Communion is meant for prayful reflection... a true and intimate conversation between us and God.
And don't you know after Communion, he graciously allowed us time to sit in silent contempation.
Hmmmm... I've got a big old stupid smile on my face, and it's all because of this wonderful representative of Christ. My prayers are with him and with all priests. May they all have such ardent love for Him, and may they all seek to spread that love and understanding to others. Bless him, and bless them!
Great Blog if you click the pic!
So I was watching a documentary the other night about a woman and her no-kill cat sanctuary. Being a bit of a "crazy cat lady" myself, I thoroughly understood much of what was revealed during the hour-long special.
I've been an avid animal lover my entire life. I must've drove my mother up the wall with the amount of animals I'd try to sneak into the house. I succeeded with a few she still doesn't know about to this day! Ha ha.
(Mom, if you end up reading this, sorry... blame Grandpop. His blood pumps through me, too, and inevitably ends up using my heartstrings as a makeshift accordian. I'm powerless, really!)
Anyway, it wasn't until I moved out and started a life with John that I kicked into "foster-mom" gear. In the last few years, John and I have fostered and found homes for more than 50 cats / kittens. Now obviously 50 isn't nearly as fantastic a number as 700, but those 50 that we saved enabled 50 others to find room at the shelters. Our work also opened the hearts of others to the plight of unwanted animals, and now several of our friends have either fostered or adopted their own furbabies. Be the change you want to see, right?
In my travels as foster-animal advocate, I've come to see a lot of heartbreaking things. My own foster-turned-adopted cat, Zoey (read her story as featured on Animal Planet) taught me an incredible amount about the overburdened shelter system, the carelessness and cruelty of humans, and the power of faith.
Knowing this, one thing from the documentary really struck me. A tiny, malnourished kitten was brought in, barely clinging to life. A team of volunteers rallied around him, bottle feeding, warming, and caressing this impossibly small, hungry and dehydrated kitten. Sadly, they were too late in their efforts and the kitten succumbed to its tryst with neglect. This situation is all too common all over the world. However, Lynea Lattanzio (the "crazy cat lady") said something I've found myself saying when faced with the crippling emotions that come from being "too late."
She said "At least this animal died surrounded by love. At least, for a few moments, he understood what it was to be cared for, to be held, to know dignity."
I was crushed, then, because I've known that feeling. I've felt my heart break over the loss (and even potential loss) of these little lives. People would always look at me cock-eyed, asking me how I got attached so quickly to these animals. Much like the kitten documented above, the volunteers had only known him a total of 15-30 minutes before his life slipped away, yet all felt that sharp pang of loss.
Lynea said something else that echoed my own voice to friends: It never gets easier. It's always painful when you lose one. In all the years I've done this, it's never not hurt.
And as I was thinking more on it, a little light went off over my head. Why DO we feel such an incredible sense of loss? Why does that pain linger? Why do we catch ourselves mourning - years later - those little lives that were lost on our watch?
I realized it was because we felt, briefly, Divinity. As I explained in a previous post, all animals have souls. Not only do they have souls, they have pure, unblemished souls that can do nothing but infinitely please their Creator.
As we hold those little furry angels, we delight in that purity. We recognize the hidden gem of God's breath that animates their beating hearts. As that life force returns to its Creator, it inevitably leaves us behind, and we sense that we lost something of infinite value. We lost something pure and innocent - a reflection of the One our souls unconsciously seek. I really do think that is why we immediately sense that connection and subsequent loss.
All life comes from God - and as such, all life returns to Him.
May those folks over at the Cat House be immensely blessed for everything they do. May all fosters, volunteers, and rescue staff be blessed. They do incredible, heart-breaking work... and they DO make a difference. Even if the world is incapable or unwilling to see it.
True photo of an in-womb child.
_The below text is taken from Richard Wurmbrand's Tortured for Christ. For those of you who have not yet read this book, please avail yourselves to its contents here.
I've been thinking about this a lot recently. It's probably one of the most thought-provoking moments in his memoir (and he's got a LOT of those!). Ever since first reading it (several months ago), I've been unable to parray it from my mind for very long. It swooped in and enveloped my conscious again yesterday, when a friend asked me how I could possibly be sure there was an afterlife.
"Suppose that we could speak with an embryo in his mother's womb and that you would tell him that the embryonic life is only a short one after which follows a real, long life. What would the embryo answer? He would say just what you atheists answer to us, when we speak to you about paradise and hell. He would say that the life in the mother's womb is the only one and that everything else is religious foolishness. But if the embryo could think, he would say to himself, ‘Here arms grow on me. I do not need them. I cannot even stretch them. Why do they grow? Perhaps they grow for a future stage of my existence, in which I will have to work with them. Legs grow, but I have to keep them bent toward my chest. Why do they grow? Probably life in a large world follows, where I will have to walk. Eyes grow, although I am surrounded by perfect darkness and don't need them. Why do I have eyes? Probably a world with light and colors will follow.'
"So, if the embryo would reflect on his own development, he would know about a life outside of his mother's womb, without having seen it. It is the same with us. As long as we are young, we have vigor, but no mind to use it properly. When, with the years, we have grown in knowledge and wisdom, the hearse waits to take us to the grave. Why was it necessary to grow in a knowledge and wisdom that we can use no more? Why do arms, legs, and eyes grow on an embryo? It is for what follows. So it is with us here. We grow here in experience, knowledge, and wisdom for what follows. We are prepared to serve on a higher level that follows death."
This truly is a beautiful insight... an inspired insight. May it touch you as it has touched me.
Sharing isn't just caring, it's Divine Providence!
Okay, so I lied. I'm a day late because when I wrote the "Do Animals Have Souls" entry, I'd forgotten that I'd be out and about for Vince's birthday.
Ah well. I apologize. Hope I didn't leave you too uncomfortably on the edge of your seats!
I've already gotten a couple e-mails asking me about this. One, in particular, was slightly angry, accusing me of not understanding Catholic teaching because there is no such thing as "Purgatory on Earth."
Well, of COURSE you're not going to find that in the catechism. I sorta-kinda-most-probably made that up. However, the theology is all there in black and white. This structured mercy is all explained through the Catholic understanding of Divine Providence (which I break down into cookie form here).
So just to quickly recap, Divine Providence is God's way of providing us with all the tools, equipment and practice necessary to make it through the jungle of life and into Heaven. Humanity is able to dole out these gifts from God through the Golden Rule (loving others as Christ loves, thus always being willing to share everything with others). However, since humanity is unable/unwilling to properly follow the Golden Rule at all times, we fall off the path towards Heaven and Purgatory is God's last-ditch effort to toss a life-line our way and pull us back on track.
Purgatory on earth is a gentle precursor to Purgatory of the Holy Souls. An analogy is in order here...
One of my employees borrows $100 from me. When it comes time to pay up, he's unable to pay save for a little at a time. I accept his apology and promise to pay me back.
After a couple weeks of paying $10 at a time for odd jobs he'd been working, he gets thrown into jail for stealing. He still owes me about $80, but now that he's in jail, he's got no way of paying me that $80 back. He must rely on family and friends for the remaining $80.
That's kinda the difference between Purgatory on Earth and Purgatory in, well, Purgatory.
While on earth, we're given the opportunity to pay back or "atone" for our misdeeds a little at a time through sacrifice, prayer and charitable acts of mercy. Once we die (still having debts to pay) we go to Purgatory where we must rely on those we've left behind to fulfill our obligations to Divine Justice.
This again highlights why human euthanasia is a no-no. Euthanasia cuts short our ablity to atone for our transgressions. It also has the ability to cut short the blessings that suffering can, in fact, bestow upon those around us.
For example (true story alert), there was a wonderful woman who lived into her late 80s. She suffered for three years with a terribly debilitating disease. Her three sons, Ron, Eric and Joe, weren't really sure how to handle the prognosis... or how to handle each other. The boys had been somewhat distant, content to live their own lives separate from one another save for the ocassional holiday dinner. In fact, they didn't even like each other very much. Their mother's illness, though, effected them all in a very profound way.
While their mother was quite possibly suffering physically to atone for past transgressions, her condition was not given solely for her benefit. Through her suffering, her sons came together and got to know one another again. They were forced to communicate regulalry, to console one another, to provide food, housing, even transportation for one another as they rotated shifts. Ron and Eric, (and Joe and Eric) eventually reconciled their differences and became friends - true brothers. I wish I could say the same for Ron and Joe, but not everyone takes advantage of the blessings granted through Divine Providence.
In other words, even suffering is a blessing. Even suffering is an opportunity to take part in the grace of love and reconciliation.
I, myself, have been trying to practice this mindset more often... especially in traffic. I'm a horrible road-rager. I cannot stand when someone is driving 10 miles below the speed limit, yet instead of cutting them off and angrily waving some not-nice-things their way, I now chalk it up to Divine Providence. I simply wonder why God chose to put that little inconvenience before me. Was He forcing me to be three seconds too late to the scene of a horrific accident that I would have been a part of otherwise? Was He giving me an opportunity to practice my least-utilized (almost non-existent) virtue, Patience? Maybe He just wanted to back up traffic juuuuust enough so that an old lady way up the road could make it safely across the street. Who knows?
My point is - GOD knows. Catholics trust in Divine Providence as the driving force in every single thing that comes up throughout our lives. We believe that God is not only interested, but active in our lives - fully vested in the creation He saw fit to bless into being.
Suffering, too, is part of that Divine Providence. As a result, any attempt at shortening the timeframe God, Himself, has acknowledged as necessary for salvation translates to a sure ticket to Purgatory (at the very least... I shudder to think of what the alternative is!).
Clincial... as if the child feels nothing
When you're able to pull a child who is fully formed and likely viable from the womb of a woman, stabbing scissors through his skull and suctioning out his brain, you've not only started to slide down a slippery slope - you've grabbed your granddad's favorite wooden sled, greased the skates and bet your friend $20 that you could make it to the bottom of the hill faster than he could.
I have no idea how we've gotten to this point, but we've successfully dehumanized infants. No longer are children safe within the wombs of their mothers, and no longer are they safe once they make it out of that jungle alive.
Katrina Effert, a 19 year old woman at the time, gave birth to a little boy and subsequently strangled him, tossing his body into a neighbor's yard. Twice a jury convicted her of murder, and twice the ruling was overturned by a judge who felt jailtime wasn't really necessary because, well... "infanticide" isn't really as serious as murder.
So exactly how is the killing of a child any different from the killing of an adult? Unless, of course, we don't view children as "fully human." Considering an infant isn't legally "human" before, during, or even 99.9% out of the birth canal, how far is the jump to decide that the infant isn't human for a minute, hour, or a month after birth?
Seems the Netherlands already is well on its way to answering that.
Then again, with articles like this, it seems like the US is attempting to grab a sled and hitch a ride down south as well.
Catholic Fire, a blog I've been following, posted a great video that dissects everything that is wrong with the NY Time's article. And God bless Father Barron for his gentle chide. He was much more charitable in his approach than I was when I first read the article.
But I digress...
The point of this post is to highlight, as so many others have done (and better, might I add, especially the blog I just linked you to... I stalk her daily), the magnitude of moral decay being experienced by humanity. Never have we been so inundated with such treachery against children. We allow the likes of Casey Anthony to walk free, and now Katrina Effert... and the countless other criminals who somehow bend the system to excuse their treachery. What have we become? How have we allowed the most innocent among us to become the biggest target? One that we neglect to even admit as even BEING a target!
Oh - my heart, my heart. This is why I took so long to write this blog. It's so painful. It is mind-bogglingly painful to acknowledge that humanity has tumbled so far down the spiral of sin that there is no hope of climbing out save the Illumination. Dear God, grant us this mercy quickly. That mercy will save untold numbers of souls.
The Illumination, for those unaware, has been promised by God through several visionaries (Garabandal, Medjugorie, various saints, etc). It is a brief span of time in which every single soul on Earth (from the age of reason, about 7 and up) will see themselves as God sees them. In other words, every sin, every good deed, every opportunity taken or missed for grace will be laid out before us in the light of the Eternal Truth. This supernatural event is meant to be an undeniable sign that God not only exists, but is calling each of us into Union with Him. It is a Mercy beyond all Mercies because we will experience 1st-hand what "judgement" is like. Yet instead of being judged, we will have the opportunity to amend our ways.
So yes... I await the Illumination with absolute joy and anticipation. In my mind, that is the only way humanity will ever remove itself from the clutches of such intense, unbearable evil.
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