Category Archives: Saints

Sunday Devotional: Whoever has ears ought to hear

Romans 8:26-27

Brothers and sisters:
The Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness;
for we do not know how to pray as we ought,
but the Spirit himself intercedes with inexpressible groanings.
And the one who searches hearts
knows what is the intention of the Spirit,
because he intercedes for the holy ones
according to God’s will.

Matthew 13:30

Whoever has ears ought to hear.

Given that the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth” (John 15:26), it is important that we seek and heed His counsel.

But how?

How do we know the Spirit’s intention?

How do we listen to the Spirit with ears that ought to hear?

Here are some suggestions from Charisma News and a few from my puny experience:

1. Pray for wisdom: “Come, Holy Spirit, come!” With sincerity and humility, ask the Holy Spirit to counsel, enlighten and guide you, especially when you have just received Holy Communion or when you are before the Eucharist in the Tabernacle.

2. Listen to the Spirit: The Holy Spirit speaks to us in many ways —

  • In the Bible: “All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” –2 Timothy 3:16-17. God is always speaking through His Word. Apply what you read in the Bible to your life and you’ll position yourself for truth and wisdom.
  • As a still, small voice in our mind.
  • As a flash of understanding.
  • Through our conscience: “search your heart” (Romans 8:27).
  • In a dream or vision: St. Joseph was told by an angel to “not be afraid to take Mary as your wife” (Matthew 1:20). St. Peter fell into a trance (see Acts 10:10). St. Paul had supernatural encounters, in the body and out of the body (see 2 Cor. 12:13). St. John wrote the entire book of Revelation based on a supernatural vision.
  • Through our surroundings in our daily lives: If you keep a listening ear, you’ll discover that God speaks to you as you go about your everyday life. God spoke to Solomon through his practical experiences, an account of which is in Proverbs 24:30-34: “I went by the field of the slothful, and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding; and it was all grown over with thorns, and nettles covered its surface, and the stone wall was broken down. Then I saw, and considered it; I looked on it and received instruction: Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep, so your poverty will come like a stalker, and your need as an armed man.”

3. How do we know that it’s the Holy Spirit speaking to us:

  • By the message’s goodness: Remember that the Holy Spirit is the Third Person of the Triune Godhead. He will never counsel you to do ill or harm.
  • By its persistence: When the Holy Spirit wants you to do something, He can be very, very persistent!
  • By your sense of peace: When you listen and heed His counsel, your heart, mind and soul will be at peace. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and supplication with gratitude, make your requests known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will protect your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”Philippians 4:6-7.

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

~Eowyn

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Sunday Devotional: ‘in Christ shall all be brought to life’

Genesis 3:17, 19

To the man [the Lord] said:
Because you listened to your wife
and ate from the tree about which I commanded you,
You shall not eat from it, […]
By the sweat of your brow
you shall eat bread,
Until you return to the ground,
from which you were taken;
For you are dust,
and to dust you shall return.

Wanting to be “as gods,” our first parents in that first garden freely chose to disobey the explicit command of God. Imagine their hubris!

But the exercise of free will is not free of consequences. As God had forewarned, the issues of disobedience were dire indeed. By their fall, a door was opened to chaos; henceforth a price must be paid for being human. Where once was joy and ease, there would be suffering, hardship, and pain; where once was harmony and order, there would be turmoil and confusion. Eve and all her female progeny would bear the pangs of childbirth; work would become an affliction as Adam and all men who follow must toil in order to survive. The union of man and woman becomes subject to tensions and marked by lust and domination; humankind’s relation with other creatures and the physical environment turns askew as visible creation becomes alien and hostile to man; the control of the soul’s spiritual faculties over the body is shattered, and humanity becomes vulnerable to the ravages of sickness and disease. As J.R.R. Tolkien put in, in “a fallen world . . . there is no consonance between our bodies, minds, and souls” (Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, p. 51).

More than all that, death enters the world. Along with lives of toil and pain, men and women would eventually die, returning to the ground from which they were first taken, “for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.”

Why our first parents’ fall required the intercession of none other than the Son of God Himself is a mystery that not even the brightest theologians could fully plumb or explain. This much we do know because we are told: By willingly sacrificing Himself to die on a cross, Jesus the Christ not only atoned for our first parents’ terrible sin, He also reversed their greatest punishment — the irrevocability of death.

That is why the Resurrection is so central to Christianity. In the words of St. Paul:

1 Cor 15:14, 17-18, 20-22

If Christ has not been raised,
then our preaching is in vain
and your faith is in vain….
And if Christ has not been raised,
Then those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished….
But, in fact,
Christ has been raised from the dead….
For since death came through a human being,
the resurrection of the dead
came also through a human being.
For just as in Adam all die,
so too in Christ shall all be brought to life.

But the promise of eternal life can be erased by sin.

St. Paul warns:

Romans 6:3-4, 8-11

Brothers and sisters:
Are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus
were baptized into his death?
We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death,
so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead
by the glory of the Father,
we too might live in newness of life.

If, then, we have died with Christ,
we believe that we shall also live with him.
We know that Christ, raised from the dead, dies no more;
death no longer has power over him.
As to his death, he died to sin once and for all;
as to his life, he lives for God.
Consequently, you too must think of yourselves as dead to sin
and living for God in Christ Jesus.

See also:

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

~Eowyn

Sunday Devotional: ‘Let us make man in our image’

Last Sunday, the universal Church celebrated Pentecost, the coming of the Holy Spirit — the “Spirit of truth” (John 16:12).

Today, we commemorate the solemnity and mystery of the Holy Trinity, the Triune Godhead.

Genesis 1:26

And God said,
Let us make man
in our image,
after our likeness:

John 5:7

For there are three
that bear record in Heaven,
the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost;
and these three are one.

Jesus baptism

How can three individual persons be one?

Through the centuries, our brightest and most gifted theologians were unable to plumb the mystery of the Triune Godhead, that —

  • There is but one God (“And God said”, not “And the Gods said”)
  • With three separate persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (“For there are three”)
  • Who made man in their image
  • But the three persons nevertheless are one (“and the three are one”).

Here’s St. Thomas Aquinas on the mystery of the Holy Trinity, in Summa Theologica:

We cannot come to the knowledge of the Trinity by reason alone, that is, by the natural and unaided efforts of the human mind. By our natural reason, we can know that God exists; that he is the First Cause of all; that he is one, infinite, simple, immutable, etc. But that the one God subsists in three really distinct Persons is a truth that can be known only by supernatural means. That is a truth beyond the reach of human reason to know, to prove, or to disprove. We know this truth by divine revelation, and accept it by supernatural faith; we take it upon the authority of God himself. […] By aid of the light of glory the soul in heaven sees God himself clearly and truly.”

Holy Trinity

And so, as St. Paul said, though we presently but “see in a mirror dimly” with our limited human intellect, we accept and we trust, with the hope that — striving to be good and loving the Three Persons with our whole heart, our whole soul, our whole mind, and with all our strength — there will come a day when we will know and understand what the Second Person hinted at before He took final leave of His disciples and ascended into Heaven (John 16:12):

“I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now.”

As St. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 13:12:

“For now we see in a mirror dimly,
but then face to face.
Now I know in part;
then I shall understand fully,
even as I have been fully understood.”

And may the love of God the Father, the peace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you on this magnificent Sunday!

Eowyn

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:

‘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