Archives for September 2015

Mercy: a limited-time offer

God’s immense mercy is in the news! Unfortunately, this supreme gift is often misrepresented. I will get to that in a moment.

December 8th through the following November 20th is a Holy Year of Mercy, an extraordinary jubilee. In announcing it, the Holy Father proclaimed “No one can be excluded from God’s mercy.”

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

His divine mercy truly is extraordinary and is the bedrock of Christian faith. We sin against God and the wages of sin is death. THAT is how serious sin is and the fate we deserve from a just but unmerciful god. God is not unmerciful and sent His only begotten Son into the world to offer us a choice.

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.

Whoever believes in him will not be condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

And this is the verdict, that the light came into the world, but people preferred darkness to light, because their works were evil.

For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come toward the light, so that his works might not be exposed.

But whoever lives the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God.

Friends, that is God’s mercy and truly good news. Through Jesus Christ, every person, no matter the depths of their transgressions, may be forgiven. It is extraordinary and Pope Francis is a wise shepherd in declaring this year of mercy.

Make no mistake, while God’s incredible mercy is offered to all, this year and every year – it comes with one simple condition and is a limited time offer. The condition is contrition — acknowledge, understand, be truly sorry, and turn away from sin. The time limit is our lifetime and the clock is our beating hearts.

We have the free will to reject this generous and loving offer, that is to reject God. God’s love is so abundant, He does not force us to reciprocate. When we reject God’s commandments we reject Him and the undeserved mercy He offers us.

“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, which the world cannot accept, because it neither sees nor knows it. But you know it, because it 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.”

God’s great mercy is for everyone yet many will say “no thanks.” They do this in their pride and arrogance by rejecting God’s commandments, accepting morality not as God revealed truth but as the world continuously redefines it. They may call themselves Catholic or Christian or anything else, but in fact they manifestly reject God’s will and only accept Him, if at all, on their own terms and conditions. In doing so, they reject His mercy. By not dying on the spot, God’s boundless mercy continues to sustain them – temporarily.

It is disastrously wrong to expect God’s mercy to be an unconditioned entitlement. It is also wrong to believe God’s mercy is given by merely expressing empty “belief” without works (that is, without reflecting honest belief in our heart and through our actions).

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?

If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,” but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it?

So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

Indeed someone might say, “You have faith and I have works.” Demonstrate your faith to me without works, and I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works.

You believe that God is one. You do well. Even the demons believe that and tremble.

Do you want proof, you ignoramus, that faith without works is useless?

Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar?

You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by the works.

Thus the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called “the friend of God.”

See how a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.

Divine mercy is not something we give. We are not God. It is not for us to judge. God will and when He does at the moment of our death, no amount of word games, excuses, false claims or blaming others could fool Him (should that be one’s plan). He knows us better then we know ourselves.

What if, some may ask, a person is invincibly ignorant or has diminished mental capacity or in some other way is not willfully rejecting God? Is there no hope? First, as long as they draw breath there is hope they will turn to God. Second, God is the most perfect and merciful judge. For any individual person, the answer is “we don’t know”. We pray for them, for everyone else and for ourselves. No one should presume to know (itself a sin). However, we know with certainty that Hell is real. Scripture and the Saints suggest it is anything but empty.

Headlines which speak of the Church or the pope offering mercy are distortions. Willful non-repentant sinners are themselves rejecting absolution. They are seeking worldly acceptance but are separating themselves from God and choosing to remain so. The angels and saints weep.

The media suggests the Church can / should / will adopt a “more merciful policy” on adultery, abortion, homosexual and other sinful acts. God’s mercy already absolves these sins for the truly repentant. The media’s implication however is that those who engage in these sinful acts, sometimes loud and proud, but without contrition should still be accepted and tolerated. Of course our brothers and sisters are accepted. It is the sinful acts that are rejected, not the sinners which we all are. That is not good enough for secular thought, which insists these acts are natural, good and wholesome. We call that scandal and such false affirmation will never come from Christ’s true Church. This prideful beef is with God as these violate His commandments. It is utterly impossible for the Church to change this, nor does she desire to. God’s way is the way and the truth and the life.

7 Quick Takes Friday (set #184)

This week: Women and abortion…   Where do the women presidential candidates stand? Women share their abortion experiences. Women who survived being aborted. An amazing miracle in Buenes Aires. Lutheran Satire parodies BuzzFeed’s dumb anti-Christian video. Is capitalism moral?

— 1 —

Two women presidential candidates! Where do they stand on abortion? First, Hillary Clinton:

Position: strong support for abortion up to the moment of birth (a NARAL pro-abortion rating of 100%, a NRLC pro-life rating of 0).

— 2 —

Next up, Carly Fiorina:

Position: pro-life (but with exceptions, unfortunately), wants Roe v. Wade overturned, Planned Parenthood defunded, and more.

— 3 —

Some non-candidates talk about their personal abortion experiences:

— 4 —

Other women are survivors of failed abortions. That is, they were supposed to be terminated but lived anyway. 2 weeks ago they testified before congress:

— 5 —

We are in the presence of a Eucharistic miracle at every Mass. Before us ordinary bread and wine are transformed in substance to the actual body, blood, soul and divinity of our Lord. Nothing symbolic, the substance itself is changed. Very few miracles (I am thinking along the lines of the resurrection) top that!

Sometimes, not only does the Eucharistic substance change, but the appearance (accidents) do as well. One such visible Eucharistic miracle happened in recent times in Buenos Aires. This is a powerful story for Catholics and non-Catholics alike:

Spotted by my friend Tom.

— 6 —

Recently, BuzzFeed produced a video where poorly catechized people, claiming to be Christians, explained “I’m a Christian BUT….” The words that followed the BUT were just the opposite of the faith. A more honest tag might have been “I am not Christian because I believe….”

Anyway, the folks at Lutheran Satire have produced this parody:

— 7 —

With the Holy Father’s visit, much is discussed about many topics including capitalism. Some (not Pope Francis, BTW) hold that capitalism is immoral. Is it?


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!

Elsewhere: Synod Reading List

With the World Meeting of Families and the (continuing) Synod of Bishops on the Family, it is safe to expect public antics from agenda-driven Catholics and non-Catholics futilely pressuring for changes. Futile because truth is immutable.

Regularizing the status of divorced (not a problem now) but “remarried” (big problem) Catholics is one issue. Christ was abundantly clear that marriage is indissoluble for validly married people and living as married with someone else is adultery (Matthew 19:3-9).

Likewise, acceptance of people with homosexual attractions (not a problem now) but who engage in non-chaste sex (big problem) is another. The immoral LEGAL concepts of divorce and “same sex marriage” are sinful in God’s eyes.

This is the timeless teaching of the Church. Unpopular with modern secularists for sure, but true nevertheless. It is thus also the unchangeable doctrine of the Church so will not and can not be changed by the upcoming synod, any future council or even the Holy Father.

I suspect what you are about to read and hear from the popular press will include many errors and distortions. It is important to discuss this and to know the beauty of the truth. To that end, several new books have recently been published. Edward Pentin provides a good overview in a piece for the National Catholic Register:

As the upcoming Ordinary Synod on the Family takes shape, a slew of new or updated books upholding the Church’s teaching and tradition on marriage and the family have been written and published shortly before the meeting begins.

The publications are a response to what many see as threats to established Church teaching and practice presented at the last synod, and which look likely to be repeated at the upcoming meeting of bishops next month.

One of the latest comes from no less than the prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, Cardinal Marc Ouellet, who has had published a new edition of his book: “Mystery and Sacrament of Love – A Theology of Marriage and the Family for the New Evangelization“.

As prefect of a Vatican dicastery, Cardinal Ouellet is automatically invited to the synod, but his decision to come out with an updated version of his book just ahead of the meeting is a sign that he wishes his views to continue to be heard.

The Canadian cardinal, who wrote the first edition before last October’s Extraordinary Synod on the Family, underlines the Church’s teaching on the indissolubility of marriage and the sacraments, and their “missionary dimension.”

He criticizes modern approaches to marriage which reflect an “anthropological crisis,” and he firmly opposes Cardinal Walter Kasper’s proposal for admitting remarried divorcees to Holy Communion. Rather, he believes such faithful bear better witness to Christ by abstaining from Holy Communion.*

The Canadian cardinal, who is renowned for his spiritual writing and theological expertise, draws on the teaching of Pope St. John Paul II, known as “Pope of the Family,” theological intuitions of Vatican II, the Swiss theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar, and influences of Pope Francis.

The book “lays the foundations for a faithful resurgence of well-being for families in our contemporary day and age,” write its publishers, Eerdmans. Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia, one of three bishops representing the U.S. Church at the synod, has called the book – an invaluable resource in recovering a faithful understanding of marriage, family, and the new evangelization.”

The prefect of another important dicastery has also had his comments published just ahead of the synod. Guinean Cardinal Robert Sarah discusses with Nicolas Diat the mission of the Church, the joy of the Gospel, the “heresy of activism”, and the definition of marriage in the book entitled “God or Nothing“, published now in English by Ignatius Press.

Read the entire piece: Flurry of Books Upholding Church Doctrine Appear Before Family Synod.

Here is a list of books referenced in the above piece plus other faithful books written ahead of the synod. There is good reason why so many heavy-hitter Cardinals are involved (see my coverage of Cardinal Walter Kasper and Cardinal Reinhard Marx; see also The rigging of a Synod?).

7 Quick Takes Friday (set #183)

This week: Planned Parenthood’s Senior Medical Advisor is proud of their role supplying “fresh” baby organs in the 10th video to be released. The story of Sebastian Kaza’s death and his strong Catholic family. The Knights of Columbus release the results of a new poll. A young Franciscan friar starts a new video series. A TED talk on the history of the universe and a video on why so many scientists believe in God. Whole Foods co-founder shares his thoughts on capitalism.

— 1 —

Planned Parenthood’s Senior Medical Advisor Dr. Carolyn Westhoff, in the 10th video exposing just how evil they are, boasts about offering “fresh” babies’ organs to “generate a fair amount of income”. She goes on to note “we’ve just been working with people who want particular tissues, like, you know, they want cardiac, or they want eyes, or they want neural…   Oh my God, gonads!”

TEN videos, hard to ignore or explain away. Incredible for top political leaders to claim they have not seen them.

— 2 —

This is a heartbreaking story of the loss of 19 month old Sebastian Kaza. It is a tragedy. It is also a story about the unshakable Catholic faith of his large family. You will be touched: “The Loss of His Life is So Great – How Can it be Borne?”.

— 3 —

The Knights of Columbus has published the results of a new survey. 90% of practicing Catholics say it is important to pray daily, follow the teachings of the Church, receive the sacraments and attend Mass. This is in stark contrast to the “non-practicing Catholics” where only 42% think Mass attendance is important. The National Catholic Register has the story.

Polls like this show our huge catechesis problem, even among the “practicing” Catholics. To be Catholic means (on questions asked in the poll) that we pray, fulfill our Mass obligation, accept 100% of the doctrinal teaching of the Church, receive the sacraments, believe the Eucharist is the true presence of Christ, go to confession in the very least yearly, hold that abortion is intrinsically evil, and understand there is no such thing as “same-sex marriage.” There is zero wiggle room on this. Taking any different position flat-out rejects the authority of Christ and His Church.

— 4 —

This (very!) young man, Brother Casey Cole is a Franciscan friar. He blogs at Breaking In The Habit and has started a video series on our faith and his vocation. I will feature these going forward as they are interesting for Catholics and non-Catholics alike:

— 5 —

I found this TED talk to be interesting. It’s claim is to tell the history of the universe in 18 minutes. While the presentation is completely secular, it shows how a long series of extremely unlikely coincidences led to the world as we know it [ — long series — extremely unlikely — ]. The hand of God is obvious, starting with the creation of something from nothing then everything that followed.

— 6 —

Speaking of science and God, this video from a not specifically religious source, explores “Why So Many Scientists Believe in God”. It’s not perfect, but we would agree with many of the points.

— 7 —

John Mackey is a co-founder of Whole Foods. In this recent video, he gives his thoughts on capitalism. You may be surprised.


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!

Resources: My Catholic Tube

The Internet offers us an ocean of unfiltered “content,” supplied by media giants and by individuals, spanning the spectrum of filth to the light of Christ. One huge format is video and the undisputed video king is YouTube.

Just how big is YouTube? 300 hours of new video is uploaded, on average, every minute (that is 18,000 times faster than you can watch it – you are getting really behind!). Each day, 4 billion videos are viewed. 1 billion users spend an average 40 minutes per session to see 6 billion hours monthly.

It is estimated that YouTube offers somewhere around 820 million hours of video. Among all of that is some really wonderful Catholic content. You probably already look for some of it and maybe subscribe to some channels, but finding most of the top content is hard.

What would be great is a special, Catholic YouTube portal. A special door to YouTube where we could discover faithful Catholic videos, curated and organized into general areas. While we are dreaming, it would also be nice if they were sortable by the latest, most viewed or most commented. We should also have the option of displaying them in a thumbnail grid or as a list with details. It should all be searchable too.

This has occurred to David L. Gray and his cohorts too and they said “why not?”. (Let me answer my own question: because it is a LOT of work and takes a LOT of time!). Undeterred, they have made this a reality at My Catholic Tube.

My Catholic Tube (mCT) is tagged as “The Top Destination for Catholic Videos” and is self-described as a place:

[…] to gather and to present all Catholic video productions that are faithful to the teachings of the Magisterium of the Catholic Church and professionally produced. The hope is that this one gathering source will better enable us proclaim Christ to all peoples more effectively.

Videos are categorized into these areas:

  • Apologetics
  • Apparitions
  • Cdl. Newman Recommended Colleges
  • Channels
  • Conversion Stories
  • Español
  • Evangelization
  • Featured
  • Films & Series
  • Homilies
  • Humor
  • Laity
  • Lectures
  • mCT Live
  • Mass
  • Ministries
  • Music & Poetry
  • News
  • Playlists
  • Prayers
  • Priests
  • Pro-Life
  • Religious
  • Teen To 20-Something
  • Travel
  • University

There are also special areas by month and a few blog areas (e.g. Featured Music, God in Music, Twisted Mystics).

In addition to all of this, My Catholic Tube also produces 2 video podcasts of their own. The first is The Catholic Five Talk Show (LIVE) which is a live panel discussion on contemporary topics of interest to Catholics. Panelists include Katrina Fernandez (the Crescat), David L. Gray, Fr. Joseph Heschmeyer, Brantly Millegan and Kevin Tierney.

The second self-produced video podcast is My Catholic Conversion, where us converts tell our own stories and how we came to the faith.

Finally, for you social media mavens, you can also follow My Catholic Tube on Facebook, Google+ and iTunes.

show