Resources: Called to Communion

Seven years ago my first “resource” piece was on Catholic Answers. They remain one of the best places for information about the faith and where I would send most people.

Called to Communion is in some ways similar. They are a website, blog, article library, podcasts and radio presence. While smaller than Catholic Answers, their work on average is at a deeper level. They are “theology geeks”, highly educated and very smart.

The CtC authors are converts themselves, specifically from Calvinist (e.g. Presbyterian) backgrounds. They are WELL versed in theology and generally were very skeptical of Catholicism (to put it charitably). Like many of us converts, they never dreamed that they would one day be Catholic!

The authors page lists over 20 outstanding folks. Seminary education is common as is passing through Anglicanism on their way here. In the group is a deacon, five PhDs (plus several PhD candidates), two professors of philosophy, an executive director, several hold Masters of Divinity, an ordained PCA minister, a CRC pastor, a theology teacher, an attorney, an OPC ordained minister, an M.A. in Historical Theology, a Pontifical Faculty of Theology and a Master of Theological Studies. I am sure I missed a lot in this quick survey. Today these guys (and 1 gal) are heavily involved with the faith in their professions, with personal blogs, as book authors and on Catholic radio. Be impressed!

Blog and Articles

The CtC blog includes short posts, often of a timely nature on the liturgical calendar or current events.

The article library is really the heart of the site. The pieces are typically thorough, well researched (with footnotes) and necessarily long. The comments are a goldmine of insights and discussion, often hundreds (or more) replies.

Podcasts and Radio

A growing number of audio podcasts are available for listening or downloading. Some of the podcasts are recordings of earlier radio shows. Like the blog and articles, each includes a comment section with good discussions on the topic.

The radio component is primarily Dr. David Anders’ show, appropriately named Called to Communion. This popular show was previously 1 day per week in EWTN’s “Open Line” time-slot. Several months ago it expended into its own time-slot, 4 days each week. It is on EWTN, Sirius, iHeart and even short wave. Many local Catholic radio stations carry it. It can also be viewed live. This is in a call-in format, particularly inviting non-Catholics to call with their questions or (usually incorrect) assumptions. Dr. Anders is an excellent apologist with a lot of “meat” in his answers. I regularly enjoy these excellent podcasts.

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Seeking God’s Help

Guest contributor:   Ed Trego

“I love you, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” (Psalms 18:1-2)

Have you ever noticed that once you have decided to do something to improve yourself, it becomes very difficult? For instance, you make a promise to yourself to eat a better diet and instantly begin to crave donuts. Or you make a commitment that you are going to read a few verses in the bible each day and suddenly your evenings are jam-packed. I’ve experienced these difficulties whenever I’ve made a decision to do something to benefit my spiritual life, my married life, or any other aspect of my life that I wish to improve. It seems there are always obstacles to overcome and weakness in overcoming them.

Improving our lives, even in areas that are already pretty good is a worthy goal. As a Christian, it is a means of serving our God and thanking Him for the many blessings He has given us. God is pleased when we make an effort to make our offering of ourselves to Him as good as it can be.

Satan, however, wants to interfere with anything that improves our relationship with God. His efforts are to convince us that we don’t need to improve. In fact, we are probably already doing more than is necessary. Why add more when we are already doing more than enough? Look around, nobody seems to be worrying about it except us, so why should we worry and fret over things that don’t matter. The enemy can make a very logical argument for us to accept our current state and believe it is good enough. However, if we stop and consider our current state, we will realize there is always room for improvement in our spiritual life and our relationship with God.

When I look at the times in my life when my efforts for improvement are thwarted, I can clearly see the influence of Satan in those failures. It’s often very difficult to see his influence as it occurs, but it becomes quite easy to see Satan’s efforts in retrospect. I think of the times when I’ve decided to improve my diet to better my health and then almost immediately go out for a breakfast of eggs, sausage, biscuits and gravy. Then maybe I’ll have another biscuit or two with some jam. Not only is that not in line with my efforts to eat a healthier diet, it’s also far more than I would have normally eaten for breakfast. I can see the hand of the enemy in this scenario very clearly.

As an author I need to set aside time each day to write. If not, the next book will never come. Again I often see that same enemy, Satan, influencing my efforts. There’s too much other stuff that has to be done today. I don’t have time to sit down and write this evening. But I’ll do better tomorrow, or the next day, or next week.

When I really see the work of the devil is when I put off something I’ve planned as to better my relationship with God and find myself watching some ridiculous show on television instead. Not only am I not doing as I planned to improve my offerings to God, I’m wasting the precious time given me by God on worthless, inane drivel. While there is occasionally a show actually worth watching, it’s extremely rare that anything on commercial television is of any real value.

Even my favorite sport, baseball, is used by the enemy to interfere with my efforts. Anyone who is familiar with baseball can tell you that you are hardly ever going to miss anything important if you miss an inning or two of televised baseball. In the event something exciting really happened, it will be replayed over and over throughout the rest of the game, so you aren’t going to miss it completely. And yet, I’ll sit and continue to watch a game that is scoreless through four or five innings rather than take the time to read a few verses in my bible, or perhaps proof-read or edit a book I’m working on. Yes, I love baseball. And certainly there’s nothing wrong with watching a baseball game. But I shouldn’t allow it to take me from those things that will improve my relationship with God.

How do these things happen? How can we avoid them? It takes one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, fortitude, to overcome Satan and his tricks. Fortitude is that ability to overcome difficulty or even pain by the power of God. It’s important to note that we overcome Satan by the power of God, not of our own power. Fortitude and perseverance helps us turn to God when tempted. It urges us to ask His help. God is always waiting for our call, but we must the effort to ask for His help. As with most things in our spiritual life, we have to make the decision to accept the wonderful gifts God offers us. He doesn’t force us to accept His gifts; He offers them out of his love for us. I believe it pleases God greatly when we turn to Him for help in overcoming our difficulties. He wants us to make use of His many blessings. It’s our responsibility to do so.

Prayer and reliance on God’s strength are the only effective weapons in the fight again the enemy. We, as humans, aren’t capable of resisting Satan on our own. We simply don’t have the strength required. But God has more than enough strength for this purpose and is pleased to provide it to us in our sincere effort to overcome the devil’s temptations.

The trouble is, we want to do it ourselves and we want to do it our way. Unfortunately that is playing directly into the strength of Satan. He knows full well that we can’t resist him on our own. From Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, to King David committing adultery with Bathsheba, to Judas betraying Jesus, we see over and over again that we are no match for the Evil One. He knows it and we know it as well. We just chose not to acknowledge the fact. The part that I really don’t understand is why? Why would we continue to try to overcome Satan on our own when we’ve proven to ourselves over and over that it’s not possible? Maybe it’s pride, maybe if just foolishness on our part, but we continue to fight a battle we can’t win.

If we look at the world today we can see how very obvious it is that Satan is winning the battle as long as we refuse to call on the strength of God in our efforts to defeat him. Prayer is the best defense we have to win this, our most important, battle. If we want to be successful in our attempts to defeat Satan and in resisting his temptations we must remember that it’s not possible without the grace of God. Without God’s strength Satan will win every time. Only through the grace of God and the strength He offers can we hope to overcome the Devil and his temptations of evil.

When we pray, Satan cringes. Our prayers are his greatest fear. For if we are in communion with God, Satan can have no power over us. Frustration, anger, pride, disappointment; these are some of the weapons the enemy uses against us. Sadly, when experiencing these trials we too often fail to go to God for his help to overcome them. The devil knows we humans think we can do all things and he uses it to his advantage whenever possible. However, when we turn to God in these times, Satan is shut out. His strength can’t begin to compare to the strength of prayer. For this reason, maintaining a vibrant, faithful prayer life is one of the most important things we can do to repel the enemy and his attempts to pull us away from God.

As we improve our prayer life, we will improve our spiritual life. But we must expect that Satan will challenge us at every opportunity. When we wake in the morning he will try to distract us from simply thanking God for another day. As we go to work, he will do his best to feed our anger when someone cuts us off. At work, each frustration will become an opportunity for the devil to pull us away from God and make us focus on our frustration rather than the solution. As we travel home, he will fill our minds with all of the things we think we must do that evening and before we know it we are going to bed. We’ve hardly spoken to God throughout the whole day because of Satan. Even as we attempt to pray before sleep, the enemy will try to fill our mind with worries and concerns about the day to come.

The only way to overcome him is through the very thing he tries hardest to stop; our prayers. A healthy prayer life relieves those daily frustrations and anger points. It gives us the ability to look at others differently. Rather than seeing an unreasonable boss, perhaps we can begin to see he is only reacting to the demands being placed upon him. Maybe we can consider that the person who cut us off in traffic truly didn’t see us and would have loved the chance to apologize for their action. If we have a prayerful relationship with God, we will begin to see His presence in others. We can recognize the suffering of Christ in the truly down-trodden and homeless. We can see the rejection of Christ in the unloved child who turns to crime and violence because they’ve never know the joy of being loved. We can truly begin to recognize that we are all creations of God and understand that we are called to love each other as Jesus loves us.

God waits for us. He stands ready to help us in all of our trials and temptations. Whether our problems be big or small, He will respond to our prayer. He is delighted by our plea to Him for help. We must reach out to Him and ask for His help.

“Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened for you.” (Matthew 7:7)


The above meditation is a chapter from Ed’s new eBook “The Narrow Gate”. Available now for only $1.99 on Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Kobo and other fine publishers.

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Friday penance

The modern Catholic Church in America has changed from customs and teaching of 50 years ago, often to its detriment. Not doctrine, of course, but in some important discipline, practices and traditions. This is not without harm to the Body of Christ. Friday penance is one such example.

What is penance?

Penance is an expression of repentance. It is a means to repair the temporal effects of sin, for us and in behalf of others, reducing the cleansing necessary in purgatory. For non-Catholics who may be reading this, it has nothing to do with forgiveness. Completely forgiven sins leave a trail of damage in their wake and in justice must be addressed (sooner or later).

Friday is set aside as a special day in remembrance of the suffering and death of our Lord. Practicing Friday penance reminds us of this, pleases God, brings us closer to Him and at least partially atones for the effects of sin. It is an act of humility, surrendering what we prefer (not to perform penance) to what God prefers. It is seeking and yielding to His will.

Penance can take several forms such as abstinence from things we like, fasting, prayers, or performing acts of charity. Friday penance has traditionally been abstinence from meat. If you already abstained from meat for some other reason (vegetarian, health, etc.) then some other form would be indicated.

Are we required to abstain from meat on Friday?

Friday penance is the universal norm of the Church.

That said, it saddens me to acknowledge that we Americans do not have to abstain from meat or perform any other act of penance on Friday. Many people therefore do not, give it no thought at all, or assume it was an outdated / unnecessary practice. That is a mistake.

How we got to this sad state of affairs is complicated. Canon law states:

Abstinence from eating meat or another food according to the prescriptions of the conference of bishops is to be observed on Fridays throughout the year unless (nisi) they are solemnities; abstinence and fast are to be observed on Ash Wednesday and on the Friday of the Passion and Death of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Canon 1251

That seems clear enough in intent, requiring abstinence from meat unless the conference of bishops prescribe something else — which they presumably would do for good cause. The USCCB did this, but with complex wording, approved by Rome, which has the unfortunate effect of making Friday penance optional. For Americans, it is therefore not technically required and not a sin to ignore it. If you are interested in the legalities of this, Jimmy Akin has a good explanation here and here.

Officially, the USCCB strongly urges us to abstain from meat or perform some other act of penance on Friday. This is for our own good and the good of Holy Mother Church. Unofficially, this is never spoken of. While converting, I never heard a peep about this. Subsequently, I never heard a peep about this in homilies, Diocesan newspapers, or any other official channel. Very few people seem to know of the USCCB’s strong admonition to observe Friday penance. The vast majority of folks seem to believe it was “completely done away with.”

Unfortuante and wrong in my opinion. “Rules” which so many deride, are for the good of the faithful to help the greatest number possible get to heaven. That is the mission of the Church on earth. Making this optional, through what is in effect a legal sleight of hand, is counter-productive.

BTW this is another example of the “spirit” of Vatican II. That is, not in Vatican II at all but done anyway. The 1966 USCCB document says “In summary, let it not be said that by this action, implementing the spirit of renewal coming out of the Council, we have abolished Friday, repudiated the holy traditions of our fathers, or diminished the insistence of the Church on the fact of sin and the need for penance.” Yet, that is EXACTLY what has happened.

Now what?

Follow the universal norm and observe Friday penance by (for most of us) abstaining from meat. Do it for your own good and the good of the Church. Start now. Set an example for your family, friends and other parishioners. Ask them to join you and tell them why.

Pray that the USCCB learns from this giant mistake. Cardinal Timothy Dolan, while president of the USCCB in 2012, wrote: “The work of our Conference during the coming year includes reflections on re-embracing Friday as a particular day of penance, including the possible re-institution of abstinence on all Fridays of the year, not just during Lent.” While the USCCB has yet to do this, the bishops’ conference of England and Wales, who were in the same situation as us, has done so. Friday penance is reinstituted there.

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7 Quick Takes Friday (set #160)

This week: The latest issue of New Evangelists Monthly awaits your perusal. Bishop Robert Finn is strongly supported in his defense against liberal media attacks by the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles. Death with dignity, not suicide. Devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe. Dennis Prager explains the power of the 10 Commandments. Amazing advances in prosthetics, for man and beast.

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New Evangelists Monthly

Issue #25, January 2015, of New Evangelists Monthly was completed last Saturday and is ready for your enjoyment! Scores of faithful Catholic bloggers have contributed their very best pieces from December. Contributing authors this month include: Chris Capolino, Melanie Jean Juneau, Matthew Plese, David Wong, Adam Crawford, Rick Becker, Tracy Smith, Ellen Gable Hrkach, Christian LeBlanc, Jamie Jo, Sarah Thèrése, Debbie Gaudino, Fr. John Corrigan, Cindy Hurla, John Schroeder, Jim Curley, Tony Agnesi, Nancy Ward, Joseph Shaw, Ebeth Weidner, Emily Davis, Ashley Woleben, Birgit Jones, Anabelle Hazard, David Torkington, Virginia Lieto, Mary Beth Brummond, Ruth Anne Holloway, Fr. Ben Hadrich, Anita Moore, Dn. Scott Dodge, Tom Perna, Blythe Kaufman, Nancy Shuman, Rich Maffeo, Sr. Anne Marie Walsh, Michael Brumley, Rose O’Donnell, Larry T, Roxane Salonen, Fr. Chori Jonathin Seraiah, Karee Santos, Jen Steed, Sr. Maresa Lilley, Kathleen S, Ellen Kolb, Michael Seagriff, Bartimaeus Timeo, Anthony Layne, Paul Roy, Leslie Klinger, Kathryn Cooper, Brian Gill, Denise Hunnell, Allison Salerno, Carolyn Smith, De Maria, Rita Buettner, Shannon Vandaveer, Brantly Millegan, Susan Fox, Lawrence Fox, Barbara Hosbach, Sharon Babineau, Barbara Szyszkiewicz, Fr. Adrian Danker, Lisa Ponchak, Fr. Tucker Cordani, Nanette Carey, Barbara Schoeneberger, Melody Marie, Michael Depietro, Jeff Walker, Ishmael Alighieri, Philip Kosloski, Michael Brandon, Sallie Thayer, Kim Padan, Msgr. Charles Pope, Christina Sawchuk, Vinny Carr, Celeste Ciarallo, Laura Pearl, Margaret Felice, Drusilla, Fr. Gerald Souza, Paul Smith, Niki Chris, Timothy McCormick, John Donaghy, Bethanie Ryan, Reese Cumming, Zoe Jumonville, Fr. Errol Fernandes, Allison DeWolf, Justin Soutar, Heidi Knofczynski, Kimberly Lynch and James Milliken.

This monthly “meta-magazine” showcases faithful Catholicism from theology to family life and “everything in between.” Enjoy it now at NewEvangelists.org.

Read Now

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Missouri bishop Robert Finn is an excellent shepherd, teaching truth in an area with many liberals and secularists. They don’t like him and their media works incessantly to undermine him at every opportunity.

Thank God for the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles who have spoken out strongly in support of this holy man. LifeSiteNews covers the story very well. BTW, you may know of the nuns from their very popular CDs:

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When I hear the phrase “death with dignity” I think of how congress names bills. Often the bills do the opposite of what their titles suggest. This is the same. True death with dignity is remaining in God’s hands and is the opposite of suicide. Christopher Stefanick produced this new video:

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OneBillionStories.com has a new video on devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe. If you somehow are not familiar with the story, it is quite fantastic. The full story is told many places, including here. The video is a somewhat abbreviated version.

— 5 —

Dennis Prager explains the Ten Commandments, for those who have not figured it out:

— 6 —

We are making a lot of progress in prosthetics, in the range of motion, the compact size and control. This project at John Hopkins is one of several which will control limbs by thought. Yes, reading the person’s mind sufficiently to interpret their intent.

— 7 —

Prosthetics are for species other than human too. Derby was born with deformed front legs but has been helped by 3D printed prosthetics. Such technology will work its way up “the food chain” and help people too.


Some random thoughts or bits of information are worthy of sharing but don’t warrant their own full post. This idea was begun by Jennifer Fulwiler and is now continued by Kelly Mantoan. So, some Fridays I too participate when I have accumulated 7 worthy items. Thank you Kelly for hosting this project!

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Elsewhere: teaching the faith

Being Catholic: to know, love and serve the Lord. I like to add “in that order.” You can not love what you do not know, you will not truly serve what you do not love. If you are loving and serving only what you think (or hope or prefer) the Lord to be, then chances […]

The Potter and the Vase

Guest contributor:   Ed Trego “As clay in the hand of the potter – for all his ways are as he pleases – so men are in the hand of him who made them, to give them as he decides.” (Sirach 33:13) Can a vase crafted by a accomplished potter say to his maker, “Why […]

New Evangelists Monthly – January 2015, Issue #25

This is the January 2015 issue of New Evangelists Monthly. With this announcement, participating Catholic bloggers link their best stories from last month right here at NewEvangelists.org. Revisit anytime to see up-to-the-minute posts in this dynamic format! Contributor links are accepted beginning at noon (ET). Most contributions are received in a day or two. To […]

Elsewhere: filtering Francis

Recently, I gave you my take on Pope Francis (Francis: style, substance, execution). Not that my opinion matters all that much, but I gave high marks on style and substance — not so much on execution. In that section I expressed my concern on how the pope’s message gets twisted by the media (and apparent […]

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