Category Archives: Saints

Sunday Devotional: ‘unclean spirits came out of many possessed people’

Acts 8:5-8

Philip went down to the city of Samaria
and proclaimed the Christ to them.
With one accord, the crowds paid attention to what was said by Philip
when they heard it and saw the signs he was doing.
For unclean spirits, crying out in a loud voice,
came out of many possessed people,
and many paralyzed or crippled people were cured.
There was great joy in that city.

Exorcists often say real cases of demonic possession are rare, but the above passage from the Acts of the Apostles says otherwise.

As an example, Catholic News Service reports on Feb. 17, 2005 that:

“Two Italian exorcists preparing priests and seminarians to respond to reports of demonic possession have affirmed that the devil is real and can possess people, but it does not happen as often as many people think.”

The late Gabriele Amorth, Vatican’s chief exorcist who passed last September 16 at age 91, said again and again in his writings and interviews that while demonic possession is on the rise across the world because “Today Satan rules the world” and “The masses no longer believe in God,” real cases of possession nevertheless are rare.

But Fr. Amorth emphasized that demonic attacks come in forms other than demonic possession — the full possession by a demon or demons of a human’s body, not the soul. There are five other types of demonic attacks:

  1. External physical pain caused by Satan: Demonic activity that manifests as physical pain, such as the physical beatings and torment demons inflicted on some saints, e.g., St. John of the Cross and St. (Padre) Pio.
  2. Diabolical oppression: Severe to mild events that plague the individual where “There is no possession, loss of consciousness, or involuntary action and word.” Some examples are Job’s severe afflictions and St. Paul’s thorn in his flesh (II Cor 12:7).
  3. Diabolic obsession: “Symptoms include sudden attacks, at times ongoing, of obsessive thoughts, sometimes even rationally absurd, but of such nature that the victim is unable to free himself.” Moreover, “the obsessed person lives in a perpetual state of prostration, desperation, and attempts at suicide. Almost always obsession influences dreams.”
  4. Diabolic infestation: “Infestations affect houses, things, or animals.”
  5. Diabolical subjugation or dependence: This is the classic Faustian bargain or pact with the Devil. In Fr. Amorth’s words, “people fall into this form of evil when thy voluntarily submit to Satan. The two most common forms of dependence are the blood pact with the devil and the consecration to Satan.” Fr. Malachi Martin called this total or perfect possession. Since the human, with full consent and assent, voluntarily invites in the demon(s), we would not expect the totally possessed person to seek an exorcist. In other words, the cases of demonic possession that come to the attention of exorcists are only of the partial or incomplete variety, which is a frightening thought.

So what’s the antidote?

Jesus Christ.

Forever and always.

John 14:15-21

Jesus said to his disciples:
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.
And I will ask the Father,
and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always,
the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot accept,
because it neither sees nor knows him.
But you know him, because he remains with you,
and will be in you.
I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.
In a little while the world will no longer see me,
but you will see me, because I live and you will live.
On that day you will realize that I am in my Father
and you are in me and I in you.
Whoever has my commandments and observes them
is the one who loves me.
And whoever loves me will be loved by my Father,
and I will love him and reveal myself to him.”

Love the Lord thy God fiercely — with your whole heart, your whole soul, your whole mind, and with all your strength.

And may the peace and love of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you,

~Eowyn

See also:

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‘Humanity’ in animals

We humans like to think of ourselves as “like gods” who are superior to the real God’s other creations. We use the word “animal” as an insult, calling the most depraved among us “animals” when it is we “enlightened” humans who consciously and willfully lie, steal, insult, hurt, scheme, plot, plunder, and murder for profit or pleasure. Then to top it off, we use the intelligence that God gives us to justify our deeds with elaborate rationalization.

Saint Bonaventure called animals “creatures without sin” for, unlike humans, they are not born with “the mark” — fomes peccati, tinder for sin.

Saint Francis saw the “humanity” in non-human creatures. He talked to birds and animals, and even preached to them.

Take a look at these pictures. Do you not see their “humanity”? — of intelligence, loving “tolerance” of another species, parental love, unspoken friendship, and quiet companionship . . . .

And then there is their sheer, breathtaking beauty, which no human can match:

Did you know that animals have empathy? — that attribute on which human morality is founded (“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets” -Matthew 7:12), but which human narcissists and psychopaths lack. See:

H/t FOTM‘s MomOfIV

~Eowyn

Sunday Devotional: The two witnesses

Luke 24:13-35

That very day, the first day of the week,
two of Jesus’ disciples were going
to a village seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus,
and they were conversing about all the things that had occurred.
And it happened that while they were conversing and debating,
Jesus himself drew near and walked with them,
but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him.
He asked them,
“What are you discussing as you walk along?”
They stopped, looking downcast.
One of them, named Cleopas, said to him in reply,
“Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem
who does not know of the things
that have taken place there in these days?”
And he replied to them, “What sort of things?”
They said to him,
“The things that happened to Jesus the Nazarene,
who was a prophet mighty in deed and word
before God and all the people,
how our chief priests and rulers both handed him over
to a sentence of death and crucified him.
But we were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel;
and besides all this,
it is now the third day since this took place.
Some women from our group, however, have astounded us:
they were at the tomb early in the morning
and did not find his body;
they came back and reported
that they had indeed seen a vision of angels
who announced that he was alive.
Then some of those with us went to the tomb
and found things just as the women had described,
but him they did not see.”
And he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are!
How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke!
Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things
and enter into his glory?”
Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets,
he interpreted to them what referred to him
in all the Scriptures.
As they approached the village to which they were going,
he gave the impression that he was going on farther.
But they urged him, “Stay with us,
for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over.”
So he went in to stay with them.
And it happened that, while he was with them at table,
he took bread, said the blessing,
broke it, and gave it to them.
With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him,
but he vanished from their sight.
Then they said to each other,
“Were not our hearts burning within us
while he spoke to us on the way and opened the Scriptures to us?”
So they set out at once and returned to Jerusalem
where they found gathered together
the eleven and those with them who were saying,
“The Lord has truly been raised and has appeared to Simon!”
Then the two recounted
what had taken place on the way
and how he was made known to them in the breaking of bread.

Modern Christology, the systematic study (“ology”) of Jesus Christ, is a product of the Enlightenment, distinguished from the pre-modern variety in its purpose and intent. Instead of studying Christ as the object of religious devotion or faith (by exploring the Trinity — that three persons are in one God — or the hypostatic union — that Jesus has two natures, both God and man), modern Christology means to study Jesus as a figure in history, i.e., Jesus the man instead of Jesus the Christ.

Modern Christology’s historical reconstructions of Jesus have regularly been put forward as challenges to faith. In a speech in 1996, then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger said that “The identification of only one historical person, Jesus of Nazareth, with . . . the living God, is now relegated as a relapse into myth. Jesus is consciously relativized as one religious leader among others.” The result is an erosion of faith even among the clergy. A survey in 2002 found that a third of the clergy in the Church of England doubted or outright disbelieved in the physical resurrection of Christ.

Having studied some of their writings, what I find curious is that, in their search for the historical Jesus, modern Christologists pay scant attention to an important concept in law which is critical to the testimony and determination of truth.

That concept is “percipient witness.”

According to Nolo’s Plain-English Law Dictionary, a percipient witness is “A witness who testifies about things she or he actually perceived. For example, an eyewitness.”

The apostles and disciples were the percipient witnesses of the historical Jesus. Their accounts are contained in the four canonical Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles. And it is their behaviors, lives, and deaths that provide the most compelling testimony of not just Jesus the man, but Jesus the Christ.

This is what we know:

  • All the apostles, except the youngest named John, abandoned Jesus after he was taken away from the Garden of Gethsemane by Roman soldiers.
  • The apostle Simon Peter—on whom Jesus founded and to whom he entrusted his Church—thrice denied he even knew Jesus.
  • The apostles were understandably frightened by Jesus’ crucifixion, which was the Roman Empire’s cruelest form of execution reserved for the worst criminals. They were so frightened that they went into hiding.
  • On the third day after Jesus died, his body disappeared from the tomb.
  • After that, the apostles became completely transformed—from cowering to being fearless men; from illiterate fishermen to bold preachers in different languages (!) to crowds of strangers; from having abandoned their master and teacher to die alone on the cross to become martyrs for the faith.

Such a total transformation can only be accounted for and explained by their witnessing something extraordinary that happened in that brief interim between the crucifixion of Jesus and the disappearance of his body. What happened had to be something even more extraordinary than the miracles the apostles had witnessed in the three years of Jesus’ public ministry. Those miracles included:

  • The multiplication of a few fishes and loaves to feed thousands;
  • The healing of the blind, the lame, and the sick;
  • The casting of demons from the possessed;
  • Jesus walking on water;
  • Jesus calming a stormy sea;
  • Jesus reattaching the severed ear of a Roman soldier in Gethsemane;
  • Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead.

That super-extraordinary event was the Resurrection.

Only the risen Christ could have so convinced sane, rational men such as the two disciples in Luke 24, as to completely, with the assistance of the Holy Spirit, transform them into men they were not. Only by seeing the risen Christ — by speaking, walking, and eating with Him and in the case of doubting Thomas, by touching the wounds of the risen Christ — could the apostles have changed overnight from being frightened little rabbits into fearless outspoken men whom no one could silence and who went to a martyr’s death, willingly and joyfully, for their risen Lord.

And so, in the end, modern Christologists’ quest for the historical Jesus remains ever sketchy and elusive. But the quest for the Christ Jesus is in the personal testimonies of the lives and deaths of the percipient witnesses, His apostles and disciples.

See also “New evidence dates Shroud of Turin to time of Christ” .

May the peace and joy of Jesus Christ our Lord be with you,

~Eowyn

Holy Saturday: Our Lord stormed the gates of Hell

“. . . was crucified, died and was buried; he descended into hell; on the third day he rose again from the dead….” –Apostles’ Creed

The Saturday between Good Friday (when our Lord was crucified) and Easter Sunday (when He rose from the dead) is given little attention, although what Jesus did in that interregnum is no less significant.

On Holy Saturday, Jesus undertook some of the most dramatic and important work of his salvific mission. He went into the depths of “hell” — a realm of the dead called “the limbo of the patriarchs,” which was without the punishments of the damned and which no longer exists.

There, awaiting Christ’s coming, were the departed just, including Adam and Eve, St. John the Baptist, and Jesus’ foster-father Joseph. To the souls of the just, Jesus proclaimed He had won their salvation and led them as the first entrants into Heaven.

What a magnificent sight that must have been!

From an ancient homily for Holy Saturday:

Something strange is happening – there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear.

He has gone to search for our first parent, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrow the captives Adam and Eve, he who is both God and the son of Eve. The Lord approached them bearing the cross, the weapon that had won him the victory. At the sight of him, Adam, the first man he had created, struck his breast in terror and cried out to everyone: “My Lord be with you all.” Christ answered him: “And with your spirit.” He took him by the hand and raised him up, saying:

“Awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.

I am your God, who for your sake have become your son. Out of love for you and for your descendants I now by my own authority command all who are held in bondage to come forth, all who are in darkness to be enlightened, all who are sleeping to arise.

I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be held a prisoner in hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead. Rise up, work of my hands, you who were created in my image. Rise, let us leave this place, for you are in me and I am in you; together we form only one person and we cannot be separated. For your sake I, your God, became your son; I, the Lord, took the form of a slave; I, whose home is above the heavens, descended to the earth and beneath the earth.

For your sake, for the sake of man, I became like a man without help, free among the dead. For the sake of you, who left a garden, I was betrayed to the Jews in a garden, and I was crucified in a garden.

See on my face the spittle I received in order to restore to you the life I once breathed into you. See there the marks of the blows I received in order to refashion your warped nature in my image. On my back see the marks of the scourging I endured to remove the burden of sin that weighs upon your back. See my hands, nailed firmly to a tree, for you who once wickedly stretched out your hand to a tree.

I slept on the cross and a sword pierced my side for you who slept in paradise and brought forth Eve from your side. My side has healed the pain in yours. My sleep will rouse you from your sleep in hell. The sword that pierced me has sheathed the sword that was turned against you.

Rise, let us leave this place. The enemy led you out of the earthly paradise. I will not restore you to that paradise, but I will enthrone you in heaven. I forbade you the tree that was only a symbol of life, but see, I who am life itself am now one with you. I appointed cherubim to guard you as slaves are guarded, but now I make them worship you as God.

The throne formed by cherubim awaits you, its bearers swift and eager. The bridal chamber is adorned, the banquet is ready, the eternal dwelling places are prepared, the treasure houses of all good things lie open. The kingdom of heaven has been prepared for you from all eternity.”

H/t ChurchPop

~Eowyn

Sunday Devotional: ‘Whoever believes in me, will never die’

John 11:17, 32-35, 41-44

When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus
had already been in the tomb for four days….
When Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him,
she fell at his feet and said to him,
“Lord, if you had been here,
my brother would not have died.”
When Jesus saw her weeping
and the Jews who had come with her weeping,

he became perturbed and deeply troubled, and said,
“Where have you laid him?”
They said to him, “Sir, come and see.”
And Jesus wept….
So they took away the stone.
And Jesus raised his eyes and said,
“Father, I thank you for hearing me.
I know that you always hear me;
but because of the crowd here I have said this,
that they may believe that you sent me.”
And when he had said this,
He cried out in a loud voice,
“Lazarus, come out!”
The dead man came out,
tied hand and foot with burial bands,
and his face was wrapped in a cloth.
So Jesus said to them,
“Untie him and let him go.”

The Resurrection of our Lord, which Christians will remember and celebrate two weeks from now, already is dazzlingly, amazingly astonishing.

But we are promised resurrection as well! And the proof of that is the account of John 11, of Jesus’ raising of Lazarus, who had been dead for four days.

The promise of resurrection isn’t just in John 11. It’s in the Old Testament as well.

Ezekiel 37:12, 14

Thus says the Lord God:
O my people, I will open your graves
and have you rise from them…
I will put my spirit in you that you may live….
I have promised, and I will do it, says the Lord.

The promise of resurrection is not given to everyone. The necessary condition is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the Triune Godhead.

Ezekiel 37:14

I will put my spirit in you that you may live

Romans 8:9-11

Whoever does not have the Spirit of Christ
does not belong to him.
But if Christ is in you,
although the body is dead because of sin,
the spirit is alive because of righteousness.
If the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead
dwells in you,
the one who raised Christ from the dead
will give life to your mortal bodies also,
through his Spirit dwelling in you.

Take seriously this warning of St. Paul in Romans 8:12-13:

[W]e are not debtors to the flesh,
to live according to the flesh.
For if you live according to the flesh,
you will die,
but if by the spirit
you put to death the deeds of the body,
you will live.

Isn’t to live “according to the flesh” satanist Aleister Crowley’s “do as thou will”?
Which is exactly what pop culture prods and encourages us to do?

Instead of the false allure of self-fulfillment, “do as thou will” is a sure path to enslavement (“debtors to the flesh”) and death of the spirit.  Beware!

May the peace and love of Jesus Christ our Lord be with you,

~Eowyn

Sunday Devotional: Season of Lent begins

Genesis 2:7-9, 3:1-7

The LORD God formed man out of the clay of the ground
and blew into his nostrils the breath of life,
and so man became a living being.

Then the LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east,
and placed there the man whom he had formed.
Out of the ground the LORD God made various trees grow
that were delightful to look at and good for food,
with the tree of life in the middle of the garden
and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Now the serpent was the most cunning of all the animals
that the LORD God had made.
The serpent asked the woman,
“Did God really tell you not to eat
from any of the trees in the garden?”
The woman answered the serpent:
“We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden;
it is only about the fruit of the tree
in the middle of the garden that God said,
‘You shall not eat it or even touch it, lest you die.'”
But the serpent said to the woman:
“You certainly will not die!
No, God knows well that the moment you eat of it
your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods
who know what is good and what is evil.”
The woman saw that the tree was good for food,
pleasing to the eyes, and desirable for gaining wisdom.
So she took some of its fruit and ate it;
and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her,
and he ate it.
Then the eyes of both of them were opened,
and they realized that they were naked;
so they sewed fig leaves together
and made loincloths for themselves.

Michelangelo's Temptation and Fall

The Fall of Adam and Eve is a mystery wrapped in a conundrum. For, having everything in that bucolic first garden, including and especially the unimaginably sublime gift of seeing and conversing with the Creator (Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day” –Genesis 3:8), they still chose disobedience and betrayal.

All because of the sin of grandiose narcissism — of wanting to be “like gods,” who will determine for themselves “what is good and what is evil” although they already knew right from wrong for, as the Book of Jeremiah 31:33 says, when God created humans, He placed His law within each of us, written in our very hearts.

But our first parents wanted to be their own gods, that is, with their own conception of right and wrong. And that is nothing other than a contravention of the First Commandment (“You shall have no other gods before me.” –Exodus 20:3). Another way to say “wanting to be their own gods” is “Do as thou wilt” — the motto of satanist Aleister Crowley and the church of Satan, and the zeitgeist of our time.

That first sin by our first parents was so cataclysmic that it fundamentally changed the natural order of the world.

A door was opened to chaos; henceforth a price must be paid for being human. Where once was joy and ease, there would be banishment, toil, pain, hardship, sickness, disease, and eventual death (“with painful labor you will give birth to children“; “by the sweat of your brow”; “for dust you are and to dust you will return”). Humankind’s relation with other creatures and the physical environment turned askew as “visible creation has become alien and hostile to man.” 

So cataclysmic is the breach that human nature itself became perverted. Henceforth, all of Adam’s progeny would be born “tinder for sin” (fomes peccati) with the stain of Original Sin, an inclination to evil. As St. Anselm lamented¹:

“I fell before my mother conceived me. Truly, in darkness I was conceived, and in the cover of darkness I was born. Truly, in him we all fell, in whom we all sinned. In him we all lost.”

¹St. Anselm: Basic Writings, translated by S. N. Deane (La Salle, Illinois: Open Court, 1961), p. 24.

So immense was our first parents’ Fall that only God Himself, in the person of the Son, could make amends — by becoming incarnate, only to be tortured, to suffer, and to die on a cross.

Jesus loves us this much

And so we come to Lent.

Since Jesus prepared Himself for His public ministry in 40 days, Christians imitate Him with prayer and fasting during this time of Lent to prepare for Holy Week. In remembrance of how Christ our Lord was tortured, suffered, and died for our sins, we are asked to make a sacrifice during Lent by surrendering something that gives us pleasure, and/or by doing something good that we don’t ordinarily do.

For Lent, I’m giving up chocolates. What are you giving up for Lent?

And may the love and peace of Jesus Christ our Lord be with you, always,

~Éowyn

Tomb of Christ in Church of Holy Sepulchre surrounded by electromagnetic field

Source: Wikipedia

Source: Wikipedia

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is a church, built in the 4th century, in the Christian Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem. According to traditions, the church occupies two of the holiest sites of Christianity:

  1. Where Jesus was crucified (“Calvary” or “Golgotha”).
  2. Jesus’s empty tomb, where His Body was placed and resurrected. The tomb is enclosed by an 18th-century shrine called the Edicule.

Within the church proper are the last four (or, by some definitions, five) Stations of the Via Dolorosa, representing the final episodes of Jesus’ Passion. The church has been a major Christian pilgrimage destination since its creation in the fourth century, as the traditional site of the Resurrection of Christ, thus its original Greek name, Church of the Anastasis or Resurrection.

In 2016, restoration works were performed in the Edicule, the shrine that encloses Jesus’ tomb.

For the first time since at least 1555, marble cladding which protected the estimated burial bed of Jesus from vandalism and souvenir takers was removed. On the night of October 28, 2016, the original limestone burial bed was revealed intact. The tomb was resealed shortly thereafter.

The Edicule encasing the Tomb of Christ, in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre

The Edicule encasing the Tomb of Christ, in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre

What that’s received very little publicity are two discoveries of the scientists who undertook the restoration work on the Edicule.

As recounted by Sylvain Dorient for Aleteia, Nov. 15, 2016:

On October 26, 27 and 28, 2016, the marble slab that covers the tomb of Christ was removed. As the group of scientists and religious authorities had access to the place, rumors immediately began to run around. Some rumors claimed it was possible to perceive a “sweet aroma” emanating from the tomb, reminiscent of the olfactory manifestations commonly associated with both Marian and saintly apparitions. Secondly, it was alleged that some of the measuring instruments used by scientists were altered by electromagnetic disturbances. As soon as they were placed vertically on the stone in which Christ’s body rested, the devices either malfunctioned or ceased to work at all. […]

The [electromagnetic] phenomenon was confirmed by one of the scientists authorized to access the tomb. Later, one of the heads of the building and construction team, Antonia Moropoulou, indicated that it is really hard to imagine that someone would be willing to put in danger his or her reputation just because of a “publicity stunt.”

Antonia Moropoulou is the Vice Rector of Academic Affairs of the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA), and a Chemical Engineer, Dr., and Professor at NTUA’s School of Chemical Engineering.

Dorient noted that during the last partial opening of the Edicule made by the architect Nikolaos Komnenos in 1809, the chronicler also made mention of a “sweet aroma” — the “scent of sanctity” that often accompanies Marian apparitions and the tombs of some saints.

On the electromagnetic disturbance experienced by the scientists, uCatholic writes:

The observation of these unusual electromagnetic anomalies at the tomb of Jesus may lend credence to a scientific hypothesis on the creation of the ghostly image on the Shroud of Turin. Italy’s National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development [ENEA] concluded during a five-year-long study that the Shroud of Turin could not be a ‘medieval fake’. The findings of ENEA study hypothesized that the image may have been created by an intense source of light, stronger than could be created by any technology currently available to man. The results of ENEA “show that a short and intense burst of VUV directional radiation can color a linen cloth so as to reproduce many of the peculiar characteristics of the body image on the Shroud of Turin, including shades of color, the surface color of the fibrils of the outer linen fabric, and the absence of fluorescence”. . . . But “the total power of VUV radiations required to instantly color the surface of linen that corresponds to a human of average height, body surface area equal to = 2000 MW/cm2 17000 cm2 = 34 thousand billion watts makes it impractical today to reproduce the entire Shroud image using a single laser excimer, since this power cannot be produced by any VUV light source built to date (the most powerful available on the market come to several billion watts )”.

“An intense source of light, stronger than could be created by any technology currently available to man” . . . “a short and intense burst of VUV directional radiation” . . . .

VUV is vacuum ultra-violet, a type of electromagnetic radiation.

Imagine how powerful the radiation burst of the Resurrection must have been to leave electromagnetic traces after more than 2,000 years — traces that were detected by those scientists restoring the Edicule in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the Year of Our Lord 2016.

~Eowyn