Friday, June 22, 2007

"Enemies of Christ...are wide awake"

Adoration tonight, 7-8 pm, SAA Church. All are invited!!
Today is the memorial of one of my favorite saints, St. Thomas More. St. Thomas (d. 1535) was a lawyer in England who was married with four children. He ardently lived and taught the Faith, especially in the situation involving King Henry VIII’s divorce. He defended the Church’s teaching on marriage to death; he was beheaded for not supporting the king. The 1966 movie, “A Man For All Seasons”, is a beautiful and powerful depiction of St. Thomas’s life and death.

The following are excerpts from a letter from St. Thomas to his daughter, Margaret, written while he was in prison:

“I will not mistrust (God), Meg, though I shall feel myself weakening and on the verge of being overcome with fear. I shall remember how Saint Peter at a blast of wind began to sink because of his lack of faith, and I shall do as he did: call upon Christ and pray to him for help. And then I trust he shall place his holy hand on me and in the stormy seas hold me up from drowning.

And if he permits me to play Saint Peter further and to fall to the ground and to swear and forswear, may God our Lord in his tender mercy keep me from this, and let me lose if it so happen, and never win thereby! Still, if this should happen, afterward I trust that in his goodness he will look on me with pity as he did upon Saint Peter, and make me stand up again and confess the truth of my conscience afresh and endure here the shame and harm of my own fault…”

Our good friend, Fr. Wells, once commented on the life and writings of St. Thomas More:

“As St. Thomas faced his own death, it is no surprise that much of his prayer focused on the passion and death of Christ, but his meditations were not only personal. He saw how the players in the drama of Christ’s death were present in his day – and ours. I was particularly struck by his meditation on the sleep of the Apostles while the Lord was in agony on the garden. He contrasts the sleep of Peter, James, and John with the zeal of Judas who was scurrying about in efforts to betray Christ. As More says, ‘For very many are sleepy and apathetic in sowing virtues among the people and maintaining the truth, while the enemies of Christ in order to sow vices and uproot the faith, are wide awake’.

It becomes difficult to ignore the real hatred of the message of Christianity, and especially the Catholic Church. As a priest, I must examine how hard I work to teach and preach the good, but confrontational, news which is the Gospel. Thomas More recognized how easily fear can influence our living of the faith. He wrote, for example, of Jesus’ fear and dread in the Garden as He contemplated His death. He recognized that fear is, first, a temptation, but like all temptations, can be overcome especially with prayer. Those who oppose the message of Christ are wide awake, just as they were in Thomas’ time. Pray God that those who have the gift of faith will give in neither to sloth nor fear as they are challenged to live fully the Christian life”.


At 11:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can’t find the verse, but it’s about the blind leading the blind with both ending up in a ditch. There is toxicity in those who work to refute what we believe. I’m respectful of others’ rights to their opinions and do not go out of my way to actively breakdown what they believe, and for me, I prefer to live an example rather than preach one. With those who choose to negate the faith of others, I think it can be important to know when to walk away from them before they take you down with them. A toxic relationship is like an infection- left unattended, it spreads. It takes courage to remove the infectious part, but if we don’t, we are risk for losing much more. It’s a hard lesson, for we often have an idea that, as Christians, we should bear all the world has to give us. I’m starting to think the greater good must be considered.

I don’t know how you can develop a meaningful relationship with one who doesn’t share your goals and purposes. Some issues can be discussed and actions can be amended, but I don’t think you can teach someone to care. If they don’t care, why would they care about me or the health of my environment? I find I often ask God, “who should be in my life?” I want people who support my faith- they don't ALL have to be committed to it, but I don't want anyone around me who seeks to tear it down.

At 7:30 PM, Anonymous was wondering said...

In Protestant churches the cross is empty because they believe that Jesus resurrected.

How come we don't believe this also in this way?

At 6:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I saw a bunch of really talented kids in a play Fri night. Some of those kids were amazingly gifted, and coupled with the fact that a bunch of our boys from SAA CYO were playing in the CYO All Star Game out at the Baysox field made me think about "treasure". Before I went to bed, I re-read Friday's Gospel reading- about treasure.

Treasure is a funny term. Some use it to reference their children or friends. Others use it more literally to describe what they’ve amassed. I think of some of the treasure we have as the innate abilities we each are given. When we tap those abilities and share them for good of others, amazing things happen. It’s never done w/o God’s help. God placed our talent within us, and only He knows where it’s hidden and how to release it. I think it’s why it’s easy (for me) to get really excited and committed about things that are about creating something positive. When I know that I‘ll affect good, it’s like everything about me kicks into overdrive. I’m given an enormous amount of energy and focus (something most would be surprised to know I struggle with in other circumstances). I believe there is so much treasure in each of us that others gravitate towards, sometimes with good intentions but sometimes with other motivations (like envy or greed). I can’t remember exactly how it was said, but Jesus said something to the fact that Satan comes to rob. I think those are the times when we bury our “treasure” under fear, sin we haven’t confessed, bad habits, regrets and anger. If we focus on sharing ourselves & our treasures, anxiety and despair disappear. It’s really amazing and surprisingly easy.

A while back, I complimented someone on how at ease they put me in discussing something that wasn’t an easy topic. That person told me, “That’s the power of the Holy Spirit.” I thought- ok- if you say so.... thinking that they were really just a people person. Many months later, I think differently. Maybe an easy way with people is one of this person’s talents, but without the Holy Spirit it wouldn’t have been released- that is really how our treasure is given.

At 8:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was talking to a few people yesterday on topic of Adoration. There was one member among the group who was rather incensed that we, Catholics, would adore a piece of bread. She went on to say that she knows what we (the other 3 people sitting there and Catholics in general) believe about the "bread" being the risen body, but to her, it was no different than something she could pick up from Giant. I can't tell you I was insulted by her words (shocked maybe at the ease with which they were said), for she is free to believe what she chooses to believe, and I understand why others behave this way. Others, especially other Christians, feel the need to negate our belief in the risen body of Christ in the Eucharist b/c if they didn't, it would mean we have something that they do not (a pretty substantial something). I use to find it curious that the base of other religions wasn't attacked as frequently or fervently as Catholicism, for even if others didn't subscribe to another faith, I rarely heard another attack that faith. With others' opinions regarding Catholicism, my experience has been different. I hadn’t ever thought of these people as enemies, rather uniformed and fearful people, and I am grateful that my understanding differs from theirs.

At 12:36 PM, Blogger fran said...

Anon 8:32-
Just remember these word of Jesus.

"Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you [falsely] because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven...."

Matthew 5:10-12

Also, pray for your friend, that one day she may have the same understanding as you, regarding the Eucharist.

At 8:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Those who oppose the message of Christ are wide awake, just as they were in Thomas’ time."

It’s sometimes really easy to believe that those who oppose our beliefs are against us. Is that really true though? Is it really- “if you’re not with me, you’re against me?” In a case where you are imprisoned and ultimately killed for your beliefs- obviously! But in the more subtle cases in our daily life when we feel unwanted, underappreciated and flawed as the result of someone else’s words or actions, it's easy to go to that place where you view the offender as “enemy.” Instead of being attacked, maybe we’re really being challenged to step-up to be better people and hold true to the faith we say we live. I know that’s my challenge of late.

At 1:01 PM, Anonymous Kelly said...

"But in the more subtle cases in our daily life when we feel unwanted, underappreciated and flawed as the result of someone else’s words or actions, it's easy to go to that place where you view the offender as “enemy.” Instead of being attacked, maybe we’re really being challenged to step-up to be better people and hold true to the faith we say we live. I know that’s my challenge of late."

This site is so great. The above statement has really hits home with me. Recently a 2 trusted friends have -well- I would not say offended me but hurt me.
I prayed about my response because my initial response would not have been Christ like. Yes, Christ was challenging me to step up and live my faith. It is also my challenge to in this situation to hold true to the faith that I say I believe.

Also, my wonderful husband offered that sometimes others behave for reasons that are a mystery to us. We all have bad days, and how many times have we "hurt" or "offended" others, especially the ones closest to us.

At 3:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Kelly-
I wrote that for someone's actions also hurt me. I was really upset for the better part of yesterday (to the point that I actually avoided seeing that person, who's really nice btw). The person wasn't mean or hurtful, but their actions left me feeling like maybe I wasn't very important. My first reaction was to stay away, but in doing that, I would be sacrificing something important to me. I guess my point is really that maybe I'm being challenged on how important this thing really is to me. Is it important enough that I put aside my feelings or follow thru with the commitment I made (sorry for sounding cryptic- the topic is rather personal)? I think maybe I'm being given the opportunity to decide what is most important to me- my values or being right.

At 4:25 PM, Anonymous Kelly said...

Hi, Anon,

Don't worry about sounding too cryptic....I actually am in the same situation as you. I could stay away/avoid persons who I have perceived as hurting me. Just thankful that I did not respond at the moment of the incidents. So I have been praying about it .
Here is what God is teaching me and maybe it will help you. btw, my friends are wonderful people too and I love them dearly! I, too, was completely blown off by both persons.

I think God calls us to refuse pride after we have entertained accusations against another person in our mind. I think God wants us to give our friend the benefit of the doubt.

It is humbling to admit that we don't know why a person behaved in a certain way and just leave it alone. We know we are hurt, but we are wrong to judge why they did it. Pride puts us in God's shoes.

So I have approached one person and they continuued to blow me off. I have not checked with my other friend and I am waiting for my feelings to calm down a bit.

I am also convicted of the times when I have not reached out,responded or remembered others. As the bible says let me get that board out of my own eye..........instead of worrying about the splinter in my brother's eye.

Thanks for sharing, anon. You have really helped me and I hope that I have been able to encourage you. Thank God for the fellowship of Christ.


At 5:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

One more follow-up-
I followed what I knew was right to do Sunday, not allowing my apprehensions and righteousness to dictate my actions (it took some self control and a good run to get it out of my system), and the situation righted itself last night. This event was something that would have consumed me a time ago, and although it worried me, it didn't rule me. I held true to what I believed to be the correct course and was rewarded. It only affirms for me that we are meant to act in accordance with our faith.

Now, I'd kind of like to say, "God, I get it, so You really don't have to keep challenging me." Although, I guess the real reward isn't so much in the outcome but in the action, for knowing I held my values above my inadequacies is an empowering thing.


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