Friday, June 23, 2017

4X + (3Y-6X) = 17

When we first start in school we learn how to count. Then we learn to add by single digits. Eventually we are doing algebra with letters and are even able measure constant change through calculus. If you present a quadratic equation to a normal first grader you will get that blank stare and all famous, “I don’t get it.” One thought builds upon another and the next cannot be grasped until there is a firm hold on the first.

Anyone who reads Holy Scripture through the big picture lens can easily see that the Old Testament foreshadowed the New. The Old prepared us for what was to come next. There are many who cast off the Old Testament as having little importance and some who believe there to be different Gods between the two books. The God of the Old Testament is so barbaric and cruel. Jesus is so gentle and loving.

Take for example the command in the Old Testament, “An eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth.” This seems to advocate violence. This certainly contrasts with, “Turn the other cheek.” It undoubtedly seems barbaric to allow the return of violence for violence received. Why didn’t the gentle and loving God just command them to turn the other cheek from the beginning?

Actually, an eye for an eye was a command to scale down violence from the norm of the day. A typical response to losing an eye through violence would be to kill the other person and probably his family while you were at it.

I want him dead. I want his family dead. I want his house burned to the ground. The command to limit your response to a like punishment was the equivalent of teaching a people who barely knew how to count how to add 1 + 1. If God had skipped to calculus with “turn the other cheek” the people of the time would have looked inquisitively towards God and said, “I don’t get it.”

God is a lot like a school teacher. If you struggle with a command he gives he will give you more to work on it. God started with one command – Do not eat from the tree of knowledge. Man did and fell from Grace. Next came the seven laws of Noah, or the Noahide Laws. These laws were given by God to the children of Noah, or all humanity. These are:

1: Do not deny God.

2: Do not blaspheme God.

3: Do not murder.

4: Do not engage in illicit sexual relations.

5: Do not steal.

6: Do not eat from a live animal.

7: Establish a legal system to ensure obedience to said laws.

It wasn’t long after the flood that man started to slip back into his human nature. God took a particular group of people for his own to show the rest of humanity how to live in a right relationship with God. These were the twelve tribes of Israel. To Israel, through Moses, God gave a new set of Laws we know as the Ten Commandments. The numbering of these commandments differs between the Jews, the Catholics, and other Protestant denominations but all groups have all the commandments covered despite of the numbering used. The Catholic numbering of the ten is:

1: I am your God. You will have no other gods before me. The command not to make graven images is included in the long version of this commandment. It was not removed.

2: Do not take the Lord’s name in vain.

3: Remember the Sabbath Day and keep it Holy.

4: Honor your mother and father.

5: Do not murder.

6: Do not commit adultery.

7: Do not steal.

8: Do not bear false witness.

9: Do not covet your neighbor’s wife.

10: Do not covet your neighbor’s property.

As Moses descended from Mount Sinai with these new commandments from God he found that the people had already reverted back to idol worship. Out of anger he destroyed the tablets the commandments were written on and returned to the mountain. When he returned God had added 603 more laws to the list. Moses presented the Torah to the people and they have tried to live by it ever since in as much as human weakness permits.

Everything in the Old Testament foreshadows the New Testament. The New Testament begins with the birth of Jesus, who Christians believe is the visible image of the invisible God. Jesus did not come to abolish the Law but to fulfill it. Jesus is the living Torah. He ushers in the last age of preparation before man is restored to what he was created to be. The New Testament ends with the Book of Revelation. It is the story of the wedding feast of the Lamb and his bride, the Church. It gives us a glimpse into heaven.

In much the same manner this life foreshadows the next. This life is a preparatory time for the life to come. The next life will fulfill what we have started in this life. If we love God in this life we will know that love fulfilled and complete in heaven. If we reject God in this life we will know total rejection and isolation in hell to follow. Use the time you have been given here wisely. Do what is right. Hate what is evil. Love God with your whole heart, your whole mind, your whole strength, and your whole soul and love your neighbor as yourself.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Living Bread from Heaven

What is faith but trust in God? How do you know how strong your faith is unless your faith is tested? It is easy to say that I trust in God with my whole heart when times are good and the way easy. It is much harder to actually trust in God when the way is difficult and full of trials. That is where the rubber meets the road.

God freed the Israelites from slavery in Egypt only to have them wander in a desert for the next forty years. Those forty years were more difficult than any they had ever known. Their lives were much worse than what they had been in slavery. Their lives were in danger at all times. They knew hunger and thirst. They died from snake bites and scorpion stings. They grumbled and complained they entire time. They even went as far as to make an idol to worship.

One of the biggest stumbling blocks in Christianity is the question why would a loving God allow suffering? Does he like to see us suffer? Does he do it to see what we are capable of? God allows suffering so that love can exist. Love can never be forced. Love is always a choice. For there to be a choice there has to be alternatives. The proof of love is trust. God does not test us to see what we are capable of. He knows. God tests us so that we can see what we are capable of. Is your love for him strong enough that you will put your life in his hands no matter what the outcome?

God is always there to save us when we ask. When the Israelites were dying from snake bites God provided the golden serpent Moses raised high on a staff. When they were dying from thirst he brought forth water from the rock. And when they were starving to death he gave them the food of the angels and brought down manna from heaven. Through their trials they knew that God loved them and they God.

When we are faced with trials we can react to them in one of three ways. We can be filled with grief and wring our hands in despair. Woe is I, why am I made to suffer so? We can put the trust in ourselves and try to control the chaos. Or we can turn to God in love and trust that he will take care of us. We should look upon our trials, no matter how great or small, as blessings. These trials do two things for us. They give us opportunities to prove our love for God to ourselves in our trust that he will care for us.  Our trials also act as conduits through which grace can flow.

When the Israelites were starving in the desert God’s grace came in the form of bread from heaven. The manna sustained the people through their trial. God also provides us with bread from heaven to strengthen us to face our trials with love and trust. He does not give us the manna that he gave to our forefathers. Instead God gives us the true bread, the Bread of Life. He gives us himself in the Eucharist and whoever eats of this bread shall never perish but have eternal life.

All things in this life including our trials will pass away. The love of God and the life he offers through the Eucharist is eternal. The Israelites would have continued to starve in the desert had they not eaten the bread God provided. Likewise, we will be dead in our sin if we do not consume the Bread of Life, the Eucharist, which God has provided to us. It is not merely bread made of wheat and water. It is the body, blood, soul, and divinity of God himself. We invite him into our being so that we may co-exist together for eternity.

Give thanks today for all that you have, the good and the bad, for it all is a blessing from God.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

The devil likes more than just idle hands.

Idle hands are the devil's playthings.
The aspirancy period for my brothers and I in diaconate formation has officially ended. We now have the summer to prayerful discern if we wish to formally declare to the Church that we want to be ordained. At the end of the summer we will face our second scrutiny and the Church will determine if they want to officially invite us to candidacy for ordainment. Please pray for my brothers and me that the Holy Spirit guide each of us to the decision God wants us to make. Pray also for our spiritual protection as the spiritual attacks will increase the farther we travel down this road. You may believe that it is all mumbo-jumbo but I can tell you for a fact that the devil is real and he does not want good, ordained ministers.

Our summer assignment is to write a personal reflection on one of the daily scripture readings. Sunday’s reflection is to be a two page typed reflection. The goal of this exercise is to get us to start thinking as preachers who will one day be prepared to give a daily homily. For you non-Catholics a homily is akin to a pastor’s sermon except it is focused on the daily gospel readings and how they are relevant to our modern lives. We are not permitted to preach on whatever subject we choose. A good homilist is a godsend. A bad homilist is a cure for insomnia or worse.

On top of this we also are to pray the Liturgy of the Hours at least for the morning and evening periods. We are always encouraged to do more. We were warned about getting behind and missing multiple days. We had the same assignment last year, only with fewer days during the week required. I managed to do a reflection for every day during the summer last year and post them for others to read and respond to. Some of my brothers did likewise. We got in a pretty good habit and it wasn’t overly difficult to keep up with the assignment. This year it has been a bit tougher for me to keep my head above water.

During the last month or so of formation my work schedule started to ramp up. As soon as summer break hit so did my workload. I have been assigned as the point person on a very important project and I have had some late hours and increased travel. I have even had to do a few 24+ hour days. This has made it very difficult to get on a schedule of reading, reflecting, writing, and prayer. I am not worried that I will catch up but it is making me very conscious of my spiritual life.

One of my favorite instructors always says that if the devil can’t make you bad he will make you busy. I never fully grasped what that quote meant until this past week. The devil actually loves two types of holy men – the ones he can convince to walk away from their vocation and the ones he can corrupt in their vocation. If he can’t corrupt you he will make you busy.

A busy man quickly uses the time he would normally spend in prayer doing busy work. A busy man spends reflection time and time he normally spends with the Lord doing busy work. Once the devil is successful in getting a man to do busy work and stops him from his time of prayer and reflection he has started to corrupt him. Then once he can make you busy he can make you bad. A question you can ask any ordained man who has walked away from his vocation and get the same answer every time is when did you stop praying? It is a common thread for those who leave a religious life. The stronger the prayer life the stronger the spiritual life.

There are times where I get to the end of the day and I realize that I didn’t read the daily readings, I haven’t written my reflection, and I haven’t prayed the LOTH. How did the day get away from me? Then I examine my day. Did I eat today? Yes. Did I sleep? (most days) Yes. Did I watch TV or play any video games? Yes there to. Did I engage in any unnecessary social media or text messages? Of course I did. It becomes apparent very quickly that I don’t really have a problem with being busy but I have a priority problem. I must learn to reorder my day so that the big rocks go in the glass first. What are the big rocks? Eat, sleep, family, prayer, and exercise. I must reorder my life so that I touch each of those areas at least a little every single day. The more I touch those areas the happier a person I will be. Putting in a twenty hour day at the office never makes me happy. Reaching the line, “May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil, and bring us to everlasting life.” always fills me with happiness. Everything else in my day is just filler.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Tomato - Tomatoe

God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perishbut might have eternal life.” – John 3:16

This is undoubtedly the most well-known and often quoted verses in the Bible. It manages to pop up on signs everywhere from sporting events to protest marches. For far too many it is about as deep as their religious convictions get. I believe in Jesus so therefore I am saved and am going to heaven. I certainly do not need a church, its Sacraments, or to do anything further than simply say, “I believe in Jesus and accept him as my Lord and Savior.”
Is this really the point God meant to get across to us or have we lost something in translation? Most people read the Bible in their native language using a modern understanding of word meanings. They have no desire to ever dig deeper. This is unfortunate because they will never experience the true flavor and complexity that is in Holy Scripture.
If all you have ever tasted was a hot-house tomato bought from a mega-mart in January you would never know what true tomato flavor really is. Once you sink your teeth into a ripe, home-grown, heirloom tomato during the height of growing season you will never desire the bland things you buy from the store ever again. The same holds true for Holy Scripture. Once you get some understanding of the rich and complex meaning of scripture as it was written in the original language you will find a new appreciation and love for the words.
So how does this apply to the most quoted verse in the Bible?
A good modern day definition of “believe” is:
                to have confidence in the truth, the existence, or the reliability of something, although without absolute proof that one is right in doing so.”  
If this is all the scripture meant to convey then Satan would be more saved than any of us for he not only has confidence that Jesus is God’s only begotten son but he knows it to be fact. Satan believes in Jesus for he knows him personally. Unfortunately many of us have confidence in the truth that Jesus is God’s only begotten son and because we have this confidence we believe we have been saved.
The word used for believe in the original Greek holds a much deeper and exact meaning. In this verse believe becomes synonymous with the word “faith” which is always synonymous with the word “trust”.
                “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, so that everyone who trusts in him might not perish but might have eternal life.”
What separates trust from simple belief? Your actions. There is no action required when you simply believe. When you simply believe you have confidence in the truth. Trust requires proof. What is proof that you trust? You do what is asked of you by the person you trust.
If a stranger walked up to you right now with a glass containing an unknown liquid and told you that you had been poisoned, drink the liquid if you want to live, you would not drink the liquid until you had a chance to verify the claim. You have no trust in the stranger. If someone you trusted did the same thing you would drink the liquid without needing verification of the truth.
“…everyone who trusts Jesus, and does what he commands, might not perish but might have eternal life.”
As a Catholic I believe that all official Church teachings were given to her by Jesus himself. To trust in Jesus is to trust in his Church. If I trust in Jesus I cannot pick and choose which teachings of his Church I believe and follow. If I trust in Jesus and wish to do as he commands I must do my best to follow every teaching of his Church. If I have to follow the teachings of his Church it cannot simply be me and Jesus.
Satan believes in Jesus for he knows for a fact that Jesus exists. Satan does not trust Jesus for he refuses to listen to his commands. The first step to eternal life in heaven with God is trusting in and listening to Jesus through his Church here on earth.
Off to make a BL – heirloom Tomato sandwich.

Monday, June 5, 2017

You have the power!

"Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained." - John 20: 23.

The authority to forgive and retain sins was indeed given to the first bishops of the Church and is currently exercised in the Sacrament of Reconciliation in the Catholic Church, but the authority to forgive sins was given to each of us on a much more personal level. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is one of the two sacraments of healing.  Open wounds do not heal on their own. Forgiveness acts as stitches that bind spiritual wounds closed and allow the healing to begin.

We have each been given the authority to forgive those who trespass against us. In the “Our Father” we give God permission to only forgive our sins to the same degree as we are willing to forgive the sins of those who have sinned against us. We tell God that it is ok for him, through his Church, to retain our sins and not forgive us for them if we are not willing to forgive those who have wronged us.

If your brother has wronged you the first step of healing that wound is not an apology from him. Healing can only begin by the person who has been wronged. Healing can only begin by closing the wound by forgiving your brother of his wrong.

There is nothing a penitent man can do amend for his wrongs to a god who does not forgive. God, our Father, is a loving God who will forgive our sins and allow us to show our deep sorrow to him through humble hearts and penance.

We in turn need to offer our brother the same kind of forgiveness for the wrongs we have suffered. We give God praise for his great glory when we imitate him and freely and completely forgive those who trespass against us. When we truly forgive from the heart we let go of the pain and suffering the wrong as caused. We close the wound, allow the healing to begin, and are liberated by love.

We live in a world where people want everything to be permissible but forgive nothing. We live in a world of hurt, anger, and hate where everyone seems so easily offended. Now imagine a world full of love and kindness where neighbors do not quarrel over trivial things. That world begins with forgiveness. That world begins with you.

In the next week find at least one person with whom you have had a long standing grudge and do your best to forgive them from the heart. Take that first step to mend an old wound. Let God’s infinite mercy flow through you and see just how liberating forgiveness actually is.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

What is value without a cost?

There is no argument that BMWs are great cars. They run well, they handle well, they are safe, and they are stylish. If BMWs are such great cars why do so few people drive them? The answer, of course, is cost. BMWs are expensive to buy, paying retail anyway. They are expensive to own and maintain properly. Their cost puts them out of most people’s reach. The people who do buy them care for them. They know not only the cost of a BMW but the value a well maintained one holds.

Today we live in a throw away culture that recognizes the cost of everything and the value of nothing. Cheap is always best. There is no reason to take care of or maintain something we own. When it breaks we just throw it away and get a new one. Cell phones are a great example. We barely have one model when we start looking at upgrading to the next, best thing. I just got the Universe 8 last week and the 8A is already available.

The throw-away culture is affecting our faith as well. The “nones”, that is the people who check “none” when asked about religious affiliation, are the fastest growing group in first world nations. Catholics used to leave their faith for one the easier to follow Protestant faiths and now Catholics and Protestants alike are leaving for one of the many mega-churches that concentrate their services on feeling and experience over a relationship with Jesus.

Something that comes at great cost usually carries with it great value. Becoming Catholic used to come at a great cost. It used to take years instead of months to be accepted into the Church. As a catechumen you weren’t allowed in the Nave during the distribution of the Holy Eucharist. Porters used to remove anyone not a Catholic in good standing and lock the doors. You were allowed one confession in a lifetime. That was made in public before the entire Church. Penance was harsh and took more than a year to complete.

Most would say that the Church was too strict in the way she did things. But the Church knew the value of what she had – the body, blood, soul, and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ through which eternal life was obtained. The Church was strict, but the lines for confession were long and the Masses were full of people dressed in their Sunday best. That all started to change in a major way when the documents of Vatican II were used as an excuse to undo the shackles and open the Church up to a more liberal interpretation.

Sixty years of watered down catechesis has done its damage. Churches and church organizations all over the first world are closing due to lack of parishioners. We make things easier and simpler in the hope of keeping the modern parishioner from going to another faith that is easier and simpler. The fast before Mass used to start at midnight the night before. Today it is only an hour long and is too much of an inconvenience for some. Instruction to join the Church consists of a few hours a week for about six months. Lines for confession are short despite easy penances. We live at a time where everything seems to be permissible but nothing is forgiven. People understand what is happening at Mass so well that they see nothing wrong showing up to receive our Lord in the Eucharist in shower shoes, shorts, and T-shirts full of holes.

Because we have lowered the cost of our faith we have lost the understanding of the immense value it has. It has become a commodity. It has become something we no longer need in our lives. Yet, the Church is thriving in third world nations where there still is a great cost to be Catholic. We have more Saints being created through martyrdom today than we did during the years of the early Church. People will walk through life threatening conditions for ten or more miles just to attend Mass. They have what we have lost – faith with value.

The house I grew up in has been torn down and replaced with new town homes so I cannot go home again. We cannot return to the way things were. We can only move forward. If we want the Church to flourish in this country once again we need to live our faith joyfully and publically. We need to pass down our faith through proper catechesis so those who are new to it will know the value without being charged the cost.

What value does the Catholic Church offer? We have the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus given for the salvation and redemption of all those who love him. Nothing on earth or in heaven is more precious. The cost? Your life. The value? Eternal life with God in heaven.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Pray for us

My brothers and I have just completed our second year of diaconate formation. Our aspirancy period has ended. We get the summer to reflect and further discern our future. At the end of July we will face our second scrutiny. If we are found worthy our diocese will invite us to Candidacy. This is where the Church publically declares her intention to ordain us at the end of our formal formation. We will have to make a choice. If we decide to go forward we will be publically declaring our intention to be ordained.

This is no small decision. In a world that doesn’t believe or understand the supernatural many do not get why this is such a big deal. I have a friend who is a Baptist deacon. His formation period was two weeks. Mine is a total of seven years. When a man is ordained in the Catholic Church the Bishop passes along his authority through the laying on of hands. The Bishop received this authority through the same manner, passed down through the ages from one man to another back to when Jesus did it to the original Disciples. Like baptism, receiving Holy Orders puts an indelible mark on the soul. It is permanent. It cannot be undone. If we publically declare our intention to be ordained and we accept the invitation to candidacy we will be forever marked as men who were found worthy of candidacy. Even if we never get ordained that will be a mark in our permanent record.

When I was originally discerning the diaconate and in the past two years of aspirancy I thought I was being called to serve. God wanted me to serve as a deacon. Upon further reflection I do not believe this to be the case. If all God wanted me to do was serve there are plenty of places to do so without being ordained. There are many great humanitarian organizations in and outside of Church that are in desperate need of good people to help. No, God is not calling me to serve. God is calling me to be ordained.

Holy Orders are one of the seven Sacraments of the Catholic Church. A Sacrament is a conduit through which the Lord delivers special grace. If God is calling me to Holy Orders then he wants to use the Sacrament to deliver a special grace to me. Graces and gifts are given to us to help us complete a mission that the Lord wishes us to do. If God wants to give me a special grace it is to strengthen me for a mission he wants me to embark on.

Like Abraham, Mary, or Jesus before me I am being given an option. Are you willing to trust me and let me do my will in your life without the need to know what or why right now? Are you willing to be ordained so that I may use you for something special later? Often these questions come with great suffering and trial and the grace is given to provide one with strength to see the mission to completion. Knowing that is what makes this one of the hardest decisions I will ever have to make. Do I have the faith of Abraham to do as the Lord asks no matter what that may be? Do I have the conviction of Mary to say yes to the Lord’s invitation? Do I have the strength of Jesus to say, “Thy will, not mine, be done.”

That is what my brothers and I must discern this summer. That is the decision we must make. Our response cannot be lukewarm. We either have to go all in or walk way.

Pray for us, that we be open to the voice of God over the next couple months and discern correctly. May the Holy Spirit lead us and guide us to make the right choice. This is no small decision.

But wait...there's more!

"Amen, amen, I say to you,
whoever does not enter a sheepfold through the gate
but climbs over elsewhere is a thief and a robber.
But whoever enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep.
The gatekeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice,
as the shepherd calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.
When he has driven out all his own,
he walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow him,
because they recognize his voice.
But they will not follow a stranger;
they will run away from him,
because they do not recognize the voice of strangers."
Although Jesus used this figure of speech,
the Pharisees did not realize what he was trying to tell them.

So Jesus said again, "Amen, amen, I say to you,
I am the gate for the sheep.
All who came before me are thieves and robbers,
but the sheep did not listen to them.
I am the gate.
Whoever enters through me will be saved,
and will come in and go out and find pasture.
A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy;
I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.

John 10: 1-10

The sheep follow him because they recognize his voice. But God does not yell at us. He does not scream. He does not raise his voice. God speaks to us through a still, small voice. Knowing this, the evil one has filled our lives with as much noise and distraction as possible. There are a million different things vying for our attention.
Turn on any television. The average thirty minute program is less than twenty-two minutes long. What fills the remainder of the time? Advertisements. Advertisements that tell you what to eat, what to watch, how to look, how to smell, how to act, and even how to think. You cannot open a paper or a magazine or even drive down the road without being inundated by advertisements all trying to manipulate you into buying that one thing that will make you truly happy. And yet, this generation has the lowest happiness level ever. How can this be?
We have forgotten what true happiness really is. A good working definition of happiness is the feeling you get when an expectation is met. We are really happy when an expectation is exceeded. There is such a level of unhappiness in the world these days because our expectations are not being met. We buy the latest weight loss product but we don’t lose weight. We are unhappy. We buy the latest fashion hoping to be noticed and we are unhappy when we aren’t. We buy the coolest car or the latest phone or the newest gizmo looking for satisfaction but satisfaction is fleeting. And now the biggest trend in this manipulation of thought is with prescription drugs. There seems to be a pill to cure anything that ails us. Do you want beautiful skin? There is a pill for that. Do you want to lose all of that stubborn belly fat? There is a pill for that. Want to re-grow all of that hair you have lost? Yup, there is a pill for that too.
The devil did not start by filling our lives with noise. A truly happy person does not go out looking for something to make them happy. The devil started by changing our expectations. Not all at once, but slowly over time. He capitalized on the pride, vanity, greed, and laziness that are all part of our fallen nature to change our expectations from something real to something unattainable. Once expectations are unattainable happiness is unattainable. Once happiness is unattainable misery and grief fill the void where love once lived.
The devil is a thief, a robber, and a liar. Do not be deceived by him. His way leads to misery and grief. Follow the Shepherd instead. Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. In him expectations are exceeded past anything you thought possible. But he will not yell and scream at you to get your attention. His sheep know his voice and know to follow him. Make the time to turn off the distractions of the day. Shut down the screens, turn off the noise. Listen for that still, small voice calling you to have life and to have it more abundantly. Real happiness does not come from having more stuff. It comes from recognizing more of God’s infinite love poured out in your life.
If today you hear the voice of the Lord harden not your heart.

Friday, April 14, 2017

A Stone Tomb

“When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who himself had also become a disciple of Jesus. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock; and he rolled a large stone against the entrance of the tomb and went away. And Mary Magdalene was there, and the other Mary, sitting opposite the grave.”

Matthew 27, 57-61

When Jesus had died they placed his body into a stone tomb and sealed it with a large rock. Jesus body was placed in a cave, a cold, dark, lifeless cave.

I have heard it asked if God is all powerful could he make a rock so heavy that even he couldn’t move it. If he can then he isn’t all powerful and if he can’t move that rock he also isn’t all powerful. The truth of the matter is that God did make a rock so heavy that even he can’t move it. That rock is called our hearts and out of love for us he chooses not to move it if we do not want to be moved.

My stone heart is a cold, dark, lifeless place.  My heart is the tomb where Jesus was laid to rest. It is precisely because my heart is stone and I do not hear the voice of the Lord that he had to give his life for me.

In the early morning of Resurrection Sunday a bright light filled the tomb of Christ. This was the light of God’s love. This was the Light returning to the world. This was the Light who conquered death and paid the ransom for the sins of humanity. The angels of the Lord ministered to him, releasing him from his burial cloths.

If my stone heart is the tomb in which Jesus was buried then my heart will be filled with the light of God’s love when Jesus conquers death and is raised up. The light of God’s love is a transforming light that will turn my stone heart into a natural heart bursting with love for my Lord. At that time God will have moved the immovable showing us that he indeed is capable of all things through love.

“Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. “I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances. “You will live in the land that I gave to your forefathers; so you will be My people, and I will be your God.”

Ezekiel 36, 26 – 28

Prepare you hearts of stone. Allow God to move them. Be filled with the light of his love when we celebrate Jesus resurrection this Sunday. Empty yourself and become a lantern to carry the light of God’s love with you wherever you do. Be filled with the Holy Spirit and rejoice knowing that death has been conquered.

Become the person God created you to be.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

God is calling, line 3.

We often hear that we have a vocation crisis in our Church. When we here this we automatically think of the priesthood. It is true that we do not have enough men answering the call to become priests and that there is not enough of them to meet the need. Without priests to consecrate we have no Eucharist. So goes the priest, so goes the Eucharist.

But the priesthood is not the only vocation in crisis. The diaconate is also a vocation. Deacons are consecrated servants of God. Can you have too many men answering the call to serve? If your diocese is like mine most of your deacons are getting up there in years and are serving much longer than they should be.

The consecrated life is another vocation people aren’t answering like they used to. Catholic hospitals and schools used to be staffed by the nuns in their habits. During the cultural revolution of the 1960’s and 1970’s nuns lost their habits and shortly to follow the Church lost many of their nuns. Catholic education is now taught mostly by secular teachers, many whom aren’t even Catholic. The vocation to the consecrated life is also in crisis.

There is one vocation that is in greater crisis than any other. This is the vocation of sacramental marriage. The crisis in secular marriage is that the culture is demanding that anyone should be permitted to marry anyone they wish and that this marriage should be accepted by everyone no matter what their personal beliefs may be. Sacramental marriage is not a right, it is a vocation. The call from God comes first. If God does not call one to a sacrament the sacrament does not exist no matter where a couple gets married.

A secular marriage is a contract, an exchange of goods and services for a time. A sacramental marriage is a vocation where we have a total exchange of self for life. God does not call everyone to the sacrament of marriage. The first thing a couple who are contemplating marriage should ask themselves is, “Is God calling us to this or is this something we want for ourselves?”

A sacramental marriage is a microcosm of the Holy Trinity. God is the head of every sacramental marriage. The husband and the wife work together to do the Will of the Father, that is, to be fruitful and multiply. Far too many marriages today start with two people who choose to take a sacrament that they were not called to and then live that sacrament for purposes other than what the sacrament was designed for. A sacramental marriage is the fundamental building block of society. God’s purpose for marriage is to fill heaven. Man’s purpose for marriage is to raise the next generation, or at least it used to be.

Knowing this, the devil has done everything he can to attack sacramental marriage. If sacramental marriage is destroyed it greatly limits the amount of children that are born and slows the growth of heaven. As goes marriage, so goes society and when society falls the creation of Saints goes with it. When sacramental marriage is not fruitful we have fewer men available to become priests. When sacramental marriage is not fruitful we have fewer people to become deacons and enter consecrated religious life. When sacramental marriage is not fruitful we have fewer students to fill Catholic schools. When sacramental marriage is not fruitful we have fewer people to answer every other vocation. Sacramental marriage is not only the fundamental building block of society but it is the primary building block of God’s Kingdom.

Pray for all vocations. We need more people to hear and answer God’s call in their lives. Pray especially for the vocation of marriage. Pray for marriages to be open to life and to God’s command to be fruitful and multiply. Without people answering this vocation there ceases the need for the others.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Possession is 9/10ths of the Law.

Last month Billie turned sixteen and passed his driver exam with flying colors. His parents let him borrow the car from time to time to run errands or to go see his friends. He enjoyed the freedom being able to drive gave him. This opened up a whole new world of opportunity.

Billie asked a girl he liked at school out to go see a movie. Much to his horror she said yes and they planned to go see a film that Friday night. Billie was exuberant as he rushed home from school. He begged his mother to use the car that night. He was disappointed to learn that his mother already had plans and would need the car. He was granted the use of dad’s “car” instead – a 1978 Oldsmobile Cutlass affectionately called “The Deathmobile”.

Billie was horrified. He couldn’t be seen in that old thing. What would this girl think? But left with the choice of the Deathmobile or nothing the Deathmobile would have to do. Maybe he could clean it up a bit. He called his good friend, Charles, to come and help.

First they gave it a good washing. No matter how hard they scrubbed they couldn’t get the faded maroon paint to shine. The solution was to get out the paint roller and give it a fresh coat of semi-gloss black. The rims were next on the list. They added a set of chrome spinners Charles brother was saving. He wouldn’t notice they were gone. The car only had an AM/FM radio in it so Billie wired in a boom box with CD player. To top it off he added a nine-foot whip antenna on the back. Now here was a car he could drive around in with pride.

His father wasn’t nearly as enthusiastic when he got home and saw what Billie had done to his car. Livid I think was the word later used to describe how he reacted. What Billie failed to understand was that the car did not belong to him. He didn’t have free reign to do what he wanted just because he got to use the car. It was only on loan to him and his father wanted the car back in the way he lent it.

Visit any woman’s “rights” demonstration and you will see signs held in pride and defiance all over the place that read, “My Body – My Choice”. It is one of their strongest arguments to keep abortion legal. It is my body. Who are you to tell me that I can’t have a medical procedure done to it if I desire it to be done? As with all the arguments the devil puts in our heads this appears to be full of logic and rational thinking, but only on the surface.

No man ever created himself. Each and every person was created by God. Seeing he created us we belong to him and not to ourselves. We do not have dominion over our bodies. We are allowed to use them for a time and then they go back to the one who created them. The only thing that is truly ours, the only thing that we have free reign to do with what we will, is our will.

Yet, like Billie, most of us are under a false impression that our bodies belong to us. We do all kinds of strange and bizarre things to these bodies. It began with simple things like piercings and body art. Now we are to the point where we can deny the truth of our chromosomes and choose what gender or race we want to be. If I am not happy being an old, white guy I can choose to be am African-American woman and even go as far as to alter my body to give the appearance that is what I truly am. After all, it’s my body – my choice. Who has the right to say that I am wrong? Well, the guy who has rightful claim to this body does I guess.

Luckily, these bodies are only temporary. They give us a chance to learn to be good stewards of what we have been given. One day these bodies will fade away and be replaced with perfect, permanent, and glorified bodies.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

The longest journey is not one of a million steps but one of twelve inches.

During the ordination of a permanent deacon in the Roman Catholic Church the Bishop passes along the Book of the Gospels to the newly ordained with the following words:

                Receive the Gospel of Christ, whose Herald you have become.

                Believe what you read.

                Teach what you believe.

                And practice what you teach.

It is a reminder to all of us that we are also called to believe, live, and pass on our faith in Christ. There are two types of belief. There is intellectual belief where you know something in your mind. Then there is an intimate belief where you know something in your heart. For example; when I had my heart surgery I knew that there was a chance that I would not live through it. I also knew that if I didn’t I would be with God and that he would care for my family. I truly believed this and trusted in God. If surviving the surgery was the worst outcome how could I be afraid? This gave me a great deal of peace going into the surgery. If I only believed this in my head I would have been filled with anxiety and worry.

This is known as making the twelve inch drop – dropping belief from your head to your heart.

Every day people leave the Catholic faith for another denomination church, or they walk away from God altogether. The “nones” is one of the largest growing demographics in the world. The reasons given for this are vast and varied and usually revolve around a selfish reason.

                I don’t like the music.” “I am not a fan of the priest.” “The sermons are boring.” “I didn’t feel welcomed.”

The ones that bother me most are, “I don’t get anything out of it.” Or, “I wasn’t being spiritually fed.”

As part of our Sunday Mass we stand together and make a profession of our faith by reciting the Nicene Creed which begins:

                I believe in one God,

                the Father almighty,

                maker of heaven and earth,

of all things visible and invisible.

The Catholic Mass is much more than a simple worship service. It is more than the music, more than the scripture reading. It is more than the Gospel, the homily, the fellowship, or even the reception of the holy Eucharist. These are all visible parts of the Mass. But the Mass is so much more than just the visible.

Some Protestants criticize the Catholic Church because they have the false belief that we “re-sacrifice” Christ and that Jesus was sacrificed once for all. The Catholic Church uses the verbiage that she “re-presents” the sacrifice on Calvary. I find it more accurate to say that the Church “makes present” the one sacrifice to the people today. We are creatures that live in the visible world. Most of us have neither the thought nor care for the invisible reality happening around us. Our intellectual belief knows that we are surrounded by the spiritual, angels, demons, and God but rarely do we embrace this with intimate belief.

What the Catholic Mass does is act as a conduit between space and time. Our time, our reality is joined with all times at the one and only sacrifice Jesus made for all. In our visible reality we see the priest elevating the host at consecration. In the invisible reality, in that very spot stands the cross and our Lord hanging upon it. As we look upon the visible priest we are actually looking upon the invisible Jesus made present to us.

In our visible reality we are surrounded by our fellow parishioners. In the invisible reality we stand before the cross with all of the angels and heavenly host, all of the Saints in heaven, and every believer who lives, has ever lived, and will ever live throughout time. We stand with billions upon billions of God’s creation all worshiping at the one sacrifice of our Lord. Do you miss a person who has passed? When you attend a Catholic Mass you stand with that person at the foot of the cross.

In our visible reality we respond to the consecration with an often groggy or half-hearted “Amen.” In the invisible reality we are joined to the resounding “Amen” offered up by billions upon billions of voices at the same time. To open your heart to this reality will shake you to your core and you will never see Mass in the same light ever again. The greatest event that will ever happen to creation is made present to us each and every time we attend a Catholic Mass anywhere in the world.

In ministry we are often trying to get people to make that twelve inch drop from the intellectual knowledge in the head to the intimate knowledge in the heart. With regards to the reality of the Mass this needs to be a rise of twelve inches. We must believe in our hearts what is happening around us even though we cannot see it and allow that to rise to our heads and become intellectual knowledge. I see because I believe.

I am Catholic today largely in part to the complete reality the Mass offers. No other church can offer this reality. When a Catholic walks away from the faith because they do not feel that they are getting anything out of Mass they never really believed, intellectually or intimately, anything the professed to begin with.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Science is delicious.

The main components of a good vinaigrette salad dressing are oil and vinegar. Vinegar is mostly water and water and oil do not mix. Vigorously shake before use to break up the water and oil into little droplets that will mingle with each other for a time. In just a short time the dressing in the bottle starts to separate, oil floating to the top and water sinking to the bottom.

Mayonnaise is also a mixture of oil and water but unlike the vinaigrette the water and oil stay suspended in a creamy goodness that doesn’t separate. How is this possible? The secret lies with a component in the egg yolk called lecithin. Lecithin is a compound that binds to other compounds on two ends. One side of lecithin binds to fats. The other side binds to water. In mayo the lecithin holds the oil and water together in a suspension called an emulsion.

God created man to be in perfect relationship with him. God dwelt with man, first walking with him in the Garden of Eden, then in the Tent of Dwelling, finally finding a home in the Holy of Holies inside the Temple. But God and man are even more different than oil and water. No matter how hard you shake up the bottle God always rises to the top and man sinks to the bottom. What was God to do? He introduced lecithin into the mix.

The Father sent the second person of the Trinity, his only begotten son, Jesus to live among us and show us how to live in right relationship with the Father. Jesus is fully human and fully divine. One side of Jesus binds perfectly with us humans. The other side binds perfectly with the Father. Jesus creates the ultimate emulsion where we can live in a perfect relationship with him and he lives in the perfect relationship with the Father. Through Jesus we can know the Father in a way that we were not capable of before.

And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth shook and the rocks were split.

Matthew 27: 50-51

When the Sacrifice was complete and the emulsion set God no longer needed a special dwelling place among mankind. The perfect relationship with his creation was fulfilled. The Kingdom of God is at hand, here and now. It will reach its full completion when Jesus returns to render final judgment and bring forth the new heaven and the new earth. The Kingdom of God is here and now and we can experience it each and every day.

To be continued…

Saturday, January 14, 2017

The desert is calling.

I was fourteen and starting my sophomore year in high school. We were given the assignment in one of our classes to write a paper on the career we wanted to pursue after we graduated high school. Some wanted to be doctors, other veterinarians. We even had some that though a career in the military was in their future. I wanted to be a hermit. My paper was returned to me ungraded with a note to rewrite it. Hermit was not a career and no one seriously wanted to be a hermit.

Here we are thirty years later and I still find myself figuratively drawn to the desert. I have always enjoyed my solitude. Growing up it was not uncommon to find me outdoors foraging for stuff to eat. My mother would often come home from work to find me cooking up the day’s harvest. Plants and berries from the yard or nearby field, fish and crayfish from the creek; if it were edible and I could find or catch it I wouldn’t hesitate to eat it. This lead to my love of gardening and hunting I still enjoy today.

I have been all over this planet. I have dove the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and been in many countries in Asia. I have traveled through the United Kingdom from Wales to Scotland. I have never had a problem boarding a plane and coming home, that is, until I went to Alaska. I spent two weeks one mid November traveling between Anchorage to just north of Fairbanks. It averaged about eighteen below zero with over two feet of snow. At times my coworker and I were the only two people to be found for five-hundred square miles. It was the most isolated place I had ever been and I was in heaven. If I didn’t have a family at home that I dearly love I would probably be there still today.

In studying the Desert Fathers many in my class struggle to understand why anyone would choose such a lifestyle. Who in their right mind would choose to live alone? Silence is a treasure few people know the real value of. One is never truly alone if they are in communion with God. Obi Won explained God best when he tried to explain the force to Luke.

                It surrounds us and penetrates us; it binds the galaxy together."

God speaks to us in a small, still voice. Knowing this the devil has filled our lives with as much noise and clutter as he possibly can. Those he can’t make bad he makes busy. You can no more hear the voice of the Lord any more than you can feel the soft breeze blowing through the field when you are inside sitting in your favorite recliner watching the big game. We become so accustom to the noise that we cannot function without it. Many who have lived their entire lives in a big city find it very unnerving to spend a night in the country. It is too dark, there are no alarms or sirens, there is no bright blinking neon and what is that? Crickets chirping?

The Desert Fathers did not like the path society was following. They sought to isolate themselves from society to be alone with God. Looking at the path modern society is on it is hard to argue with their idea. This is why it is so important to find time to be alone with God. If the devil had his way we all would be swept away in the current of the culture, knowing that current ultimately flows over the falls and leads to doom. Spending time alone with God allows us to stay safely tethered to the shore as others float speedily by. This is even more important for the clergy. If they become so busy that they begin to neglect their prayer life it is only a matter of time before they begin to neglect God as well.

On the day of his ordination venerable Fulton Sheen made a resolution to spend a holy hour each day alone with God. He gave three reasons doing so. These are taken from his autobiography Treasure in Clay.

First, the Holy Hour is not a devotion; it is a sharing in the work of redemption. Our Blessed Lord used the words "hour" and "day" in two totally different connotations in the Gospel of John. "Day" belongs to God; the "hour" belongs to evil. Seven times in the Gospel of John, the word "hour" is used, and in each instance it refers to the demonic, and to the moments when Christ is no longer in the Father's Hands, but in the hands of men. In the Garden, our Lord contrasted two "hours" - one was the evil hour "this is your hour" - with which Judas could turn out the lights of the world. In contrast, our Lord asked: "Could you not watch one hour with Me?". In other words, he asked for an hour of reparation to combat the hour of evil; an hour of victimal union with the Cross to overcome the anti-love of sin.

Secondly, the only time Our Lord asked the Apostles for anything was the night he went into his agony. Then he did not ask all of them ... perhaps because he knew he could not count on their fidelity. But at least he expected three to be faithful to him: Peter, James and John. As often in the history of the Church since that time, evil was awake, but the disciples were asleep. That is why there came out of His anguished and lonely Heart the sigh: "Could you not watch one hour with me?" Not for an hour of activity did He plead, but for an hour of companionship.

The third reason I keep up the Holy Hour is to grow more and more into his likeness. As Paul puts it: "We are transfigured into his likeness, from splendor to splendor." We become like that which we gaze upon. Looking into a sunset, the face takes on a golden glow. Looking at the Eucharistic Lord for an hour transforms the heart in a mysterious way as the face of Moses was transformed after his companionship with God on the mountain. Something happens to us similar to that which happened to the disciples at Emmaus. On Easter Sunday afternoon when the Lord met them, he asked why they were so gloomy. After spending some time in his presence, and hearing again the secret of spirituality - "The Son of Man must suffer to enter into his Glory" - their time with him ended and their "hearts were on fire."

“Not for an hour of activity did He plead, but for an hour of companionship.”  The Desert Fathers longed for this companionship more than anything else in the world. They were not content with just an hour. They wanted a lifetime. When you truly love someone you seek to spend every minute you can with them. Couples young in love can sit for hours on the telephone with each other without saying a word content knowing that the other is on the other end of the line.

Ask yourself, is spending an hour in silence adoring the Blessed Sacrament a joy or a burden? Do you find it rewarding or boring? Do you find time to sit in silence and listen for that small, still voice? Do you answer the Lord’s plea for companionship or do you allow the devil to reign by filling every moment with noise and distraction?

Monday, January 9, 2017

It is that time of year again.

On January 22, 1973 the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that a right to privacy under the due process clause of the 14th Amendment to our Constitution extended to woman’s decision to have an abortion, overruling the abortion laws in many states. SCOTUS did recognize that states do have an interest in the potential human being growing inside the woman and allowed states to pass laws making abortion illegal during the third trimester. This time frame was later changed in another ruling allowing states to intervene only after the fetus becomes viable around the 23rd or 24th week.

This is only possible because we, as a society, have never officially defined when a human life begins. Some believe that life begins at conception. Others believe that the fetus becomes a person at some undefinable moment between twenty weeks to actual birth. There are some who believe that partial birth abortions are perfectly fine. Partial birth abortion is where a fully grown baby is partially born backwards and then the spinal cord is snipped before the head is fully removed. The most disturbing group of people believe that we should be able to abort babies anywhere from twelve months to twenty-four months post partum. Yes, that means being allowed to kill a child up to two years of age.

Abortion for a Catholic is a non-negotiable. We are not allowed to participate in one. We are not allowed to support one. We are not allowed to vote for someone who openly supports this action. There are many Catholics today who ignore this. There are many who believe it is far past time for the Church to get with the program and change some of its archaic teachings.

Abortion for every American should be a non-negotiable. The American ideal is that all humans are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights; among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Our Constitution recognizes the fact that each human life is valuable and that a person cannot be deprived of their life without due process of the law. Our court system has recognized that at some point a fetus is a human life but intentionally leaves that point as vague as possible to allow as many abortions as possible.

We all can agree that a fetus becomes a human being at some point. This point has to be a definite point that applies to all fetuses and the only point that is definite is conception. Conception is the same for each and every person. Fetal viability is not. Some fetuses will survive earlier than others. The same goes for a hard time mark like the third trimester. It is wrong to say that a baby can be aborted thirty seconds before the beginning of the third trimester and not be aborted thirty seconds after the beginning of the third trimester. The same argument applies to life beginning at actual birth. Babies born one hundred days premature survive more and more with the advancement of modern medicine.

Officially defining when a human life begins ends the debate on abortion. If this country were to ratify into law that a human life begins at conception the constructional protection each human is recognized to have would immediately extend to the unborn. A person seeking an abortion would have to prove in a court of law what crime, punishable by death, an unborn baby had committed before the abortion could be granted. Short of undeniable proof that a continued pregnancy puts the mother at great risk of death or serious bodily harm, there isn’t much an unborn baby could do to warrant a death sentence.

The ramifications of officially defining when a life begins is what gets pro-lifers to start to side with the pro-choicers. If an unborn baby is a human life and has the full protection of the law any activity a mother engages in that is known to cause injury or defect to that baby could be viewed as neglect or abuse by the mother. In other words, if a mother drinks to a certain extent, smokes, uses recreational drugs, or any number of other activities that medical science has proven to be harmful to a developing human that mother could be prosecuted for a crime. Habitual offenders could be sentenced to incarceration until the baby is born. A zealous prosecutor could even move to take the child away from the mother as soon as it is born because of the neglect or abuse. The matter only gets more and more complicated when we begin to look into things like in vitro fertilization when a human is conceived outside of the womb and medically implanted, or when fertility drugs cause multiple embryos to implant at one time. Both procedures help struggling couples have a child but would be highly questionable if life begins at conception were the law of the land.

But not doing the right thing just because it is hard or complicated is never ok. Every day more humans die in this world because of our inaction and inability to make a decision. Almost 60 million babies alone in the United States have been murdered since the Roe vs Wade decision in 1973 made it legal to do so. Forty-four years it has been legal to kill children as long as you do so before they take their first breath.

As a good friend once told me, “I don’t want to make abortion illegal. I want to make it unthinkable.” Amen to that.

Every day Catholic clergy and laity pray Psalm 95 as part of our Liturgy of the Hours. In it we pray –

For forty years I have endured that generation;

I said, ‘They are a people whose hearts have gone astray,

And they do not know my ways.’

So I swore in my anger,

They shall not enter into my rest.

How much longer will God continue to endure us?

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Where have all the demons gone?

First, let me say that I have never had any instruction in demonology, the study of demons or demonic belief, but I am intrigued by it. Holy Scripture mentions demons frequently and it was one of the many signs Jesus performed during his three years of public ministry. His disciples also worked the miracles of healing, resurrection, and exorcism through his authority.

Exorcist was a respected trade at the time of Christ. Exorcists attempted to cast out demons by fear. They kept lists of demons names; a guarded trade secret. An exorcist would try to scare the demon away by invoking the name of a greater demon. Jesus cast out demons through his authority over all creation. The priests of the temple did not understand this and believed he cast out demons because he was the greatest of all demons.

Then a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute was brought to Jesus, and He healed him, so that the mute man spoke and saw. All the crowds were amazed, and were saying, “This man cannot be the Son of David, can he?” But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, “This man casts out demons only by Beelzebul the ruler of the demons.”

And knowing their thoughts Jesus said to them, “Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and any city or house divided against itself will not stand. “If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself; how then will his kingdom stand? “If I by Beelzebul cast out demons, by whom do your sons cast them out? For this reason they will be your judges. “But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. “Or how can anyone enter the strong man’s house and carry off his property, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house.” – Matthew 12, 22 - 29

We read in the Book of Revelation that Satan, through his disobedience, fell to earth. When he fell from heaven he took a third of the heavenly host with him. Catholic tradition holds that there are three hierarchies of angels each with three separate orders or choirs: Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones, Dominions, Virtues, Powers, Principalities, Archangels, and Angels.

Then another sign appeared in heaven: and behold, a great red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads were seven diadems. And his tail swept away a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she gave birth he might devour her child.” – Revelation 12, 3 - 4

Let’s think about this for a moment. When Satan fell from heaven he took a third of the other angels with him. If we take this at its word what could be possible? Another Catholic tradition holds that each person is assigned a guardian angel to help him or her get to heaven. These guardian angels come from the general angel choir. It is unknown if a guardian angel only has one person to watch over or has multiple. If we make the assumption that being a created person an angel cannot be omnipresent, that is in all places at all times. If a guardian angel is present with each human who is living there would have to be at least six billion guardian angels in existence at this time. Guardian angel is only a segment of the angel choir and if you consider the other choirs is would be reasonable to believe there to be billions of angels in existence at any moment in time. For argument sake let’s put that number at a firm ten billion.

If this number is anywhere close to accurate and it is true that Satan took a third of the heavenly host with him in his fall there would have to be at least five billion demons present at any point in time. Let that number sink in for a moment.

Demonic influence seemed to be very prevalent throughout Holy Scripture. Today it seems to be thought of as nothing more than a gimmick for television, movies, or to sell costumes. Society doesn’t take it as a reality. Even the possessions written about in the bible are explained away as what we now know as mental disorders. All Jesus really did was cure someone of a mental sickness, not free them from demonic influence.

Jesus sure believed in them. He commanded them out by his ultimate authority. He forbad them to speak or utter his name. The demons we compelled to comply. They had no choice. It is too bad Jesus didn’t have a PhD in psychiatry. Think of the good he could have done had he understood the human mind a bit better.

The Catholic Church still believes in demons, even if some priests and laity do not. They hold a conference every year to help train priests and lay people in the art of spiritual warfare. Exorcism is a ministry of mercy. What good does it do to make sure a person has food, clothing, and drink when the temple of their body is host to the unclean? We must care for all parts of a person, both physical and spiritual.
I believe demons roam freely among us. Because of our disbelief they no longer have need to hide. As the prayer to St Michael says, "who prowl through the world seeking the ruin of souls."