Thursday, November 9, 2017

A REVIEW: IN THE WOODS WITH DUCK DYNASTY'S PHIL ROBERTSON and CRTV



I have to ask, "what planet am I on?" when the public figures I agree with most are President Trump and Phil Robertson. This post is not about the president, therefore I will go on to Phil Robertson.

I hated Duck Dynasty with a passion. (Shudder)

Years ago, I was stuck in a hotel for a few days and there was nothing on even remotely worth watching, and there was a Duck Dynasty marathon going on and so I watched. I had to turn the revolting program off after about ten minutes. During the day, I kept checking back periodically in different episodes as to give the program a fair judgement and I decided that they were a bunch of rich, spoiled actors trying to make Christians look like backwater imbeciles. 

Fast forward to now. Since we already subscribe to CRTV because I like Mark Levin, I turned on their new program addition with great trepidation In the Woods with Phil Robertson. And I liked it. Besides closing my eyes as he cut off the heads of some ducks he was preparing to eat, I thought it was an okay show. In fact, after watching several episodes, I found myself verbally shouting accolades at his courage and wisdom. So I showed the program to my husband, knowing once he saw it that we would be watching regularly.




However, still, as I watch, I vascillate between thinking that he is an actor extraordinaire pretending to be wise paying some twenty-year-old show writer to flip through the pages of saints and G. K. Chesterton for monologue ideas or that he is a modern-day John the Baptist who is shaming all our Catholic bishops by his courage. I kinda want to believe the latter. But who knows? I keep up my emotional defenses against all public figures so I won't suck into believing they are who their publicists says they are and then be disappointed. (Thanks, Ronald Reagan...)

At the moment I will give In the Woods a thumbs-up and recommend the show. Actor or not, what he is saying is refreshing. And I will recommend getting a subscription to CRTV with two cautions. 

1) Mark Levin is a great source of information and is entertaining. However, he constantly refers to the Constitution as a sacred document, the Declaration of Independence a creed and makes the Founding Fathers saints. This is disturbing to a Christian. He has created a quasi-religion out of the United States and capitalism. Watch out. Patriotism is good, but this lavish, almost worshipful, reconstruction of our history tempts us to put our faith in the USA rather than God.

2) Louder with Crowder. Steven Crowder is the reason I took out the subscription to CRTV in the first place. He is smart. He could be right up there with Ben Shapiro or Matt Walsh on my list of brilliant young men, but Steven takes his vulgarity too far. Every time I think, "Okay, that was just that one show, maybe he has toned down the coarse talk and obscenities" I find that after a few minutes, God needs to cleanse my eyes and ears of the filth Crowder throws at his audience. So, I don't even watch his show anymore. And that is too bad because he seems like, underneath his scatological psychosis lies a profound thinker. He reminds me of Robin Williams. Yikes....

I kinda imagine Phil Robertson grabbing Steven Crowder wrestling him to the ground and washing his mouth out with some bitter, black coffee. (smile). Steven needs to spend some time out in the woods with Phil!

Having given those warning, I still would recommend CRTV. Well worth the ten dollars a month, especially now with Phil Robertson's In the Woods. 

I guess I am now on a planet so confused by wickedness that it has made Phil and I soulmates. Well, in this new world, Phil and I could work together, he could hunt down a fox as a fur collar for my coat. He could whittle me a duck call that plays Madame Butterfly. I am sure his wife, Miss... (can't remember her name) and I could have a lovely time in the kitchen cooking up something vegetarian.

But when we spoke of God and our wonderful Savior, Jesus Christ, you wouldn't know where this backwoods Protestant duck hunter and this city-dwelling, pumpkin-spice-coffee drinking, high-heel-wearing, Catholic woman would differ. We all become one in Christ! Hallelujah!  


Tuesday, October 31, 2017

REFORMATION DAY



Halloween, October 31, 1517-2017
500th Anniversary of the Reformation

When we were in Wittenberg and Worms a few years ago doing research for our novel trilogy, we saw that many areas were already preparing for 
the onslaught of Protestants making a pilgrimage to the Reformation hotspots today. The Protestant world was readying for that celebratory moment when they could shout that for half a millennium they were "free at last, free at last, thank God Almighty they are free at last" from the horrors of the wicked and corrupt Catholic Church. I don't write that with any malice or bitterness or even sarcasm. That is how many Protestants feel. I know. I have marched in the Reformation Day parades this day when I was a Protestant. 

Whether it be from theology and doctrine or from politics disagreements or from the leaders they feel do not have God's authority—Protestants do not like the Catholic Church and are glad there are churches they can attend that more fit their own beliefs.

But for most of Christianity today, for Protestants still remain a minority within Christianity, this is a great day of mourning. We see the Reformation as more of a great divorce that ripped the Body of Christ into little divisions of distrust and left the disaster of relativism in its wake. It is a day that we should be throwing ashes upon ourselves and sitting in sackcloth. Our family is broken. God's kingdom remains divided against itself against the pleading command of God to stay unified: 
For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.. Rom. 12: 4-5 
 …With all wisdom and understanding, he mde known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ. Ephesians 1: 8-10
This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus. Eph. 3: 6
As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. Eph. 4: 1-6
Why is unity SO important?
Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Eph. 4: 11-14 
Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Eph. 4: 31-32
After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— Eph. 5: 29

Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. Colossians 3: 13-15


I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought. I Cor. 1: 10
Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all share the one loaf. I Cor. 10:17 
Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. …As it is, there are many parts, but one body. I Cor. 12:12, 20
so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. I Cor. 12: 25-27

My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.  I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—  I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. John 17: 20-23
Let us not, this Reformation day, celebrate the divisions in the Body of Christ. Let us instead grieve and pray for ways of healing those divisions. And it is possible if we act in faith. For God said to unify, an we must do it even if we don't want to.

First step is to put down our swords of defensiveness. Our enemy is not those who take the name of Christ. The Bible clearly identifies the enemy of Christ as those dark powers and principalities of the unseen… the devil and his fallen angels. For Christians who may disagree with us theologically or are simply bad people, we should not see as our enemies, but see them through the eyes of Christ. They are who He died to save. It's okay to love people who are wrong. It's okay to love people who are evil. God is big enough to handle the bad Christians. Pray for them. Do not hate them.

Secondly, listen with your hearts to other Christians who disagree with you. You may find that most often, you actually agree, but just have different ways you express something. Listening is an art that we have lost today. Listen without judgment.

Thirdly, do not fear. For pride and fear are the biggest hurdles we must overcome in order to follow Christ's command to unify. And I am not saying we are going to become one big happy denomination. That is not what I am saying at all. What I am saying is the first step towards unity is to love each other and believe that no matter what it may appear, God is in control and He will bring us all into truth. He said that bringing us into all truth was the job of the Holy Spirit. We can trust the Holy Spirit. What we need to do is act in faith that God will protect His people.

Five hundred years of disobedience, divisions and heart-rendering disunity. We can change this. Begin on our knees in asking God for forgiveness for His Body being torn apart. Let's begin the healing today. 

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Nearer My God to Thee by Teresa Beem



St. Peter tells us to be ready always to give an "apologia" (a defense as in a courtroom or debate) to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you." (I Peter 3: 15) I think the chief of Apostles was careful not to say, "Go around giving your testimony to everyone." I am wondering if it wasn't because a person's reason for believing—their connection with God—is holy. And though new Christians can be so excited to give their testimony, there needs to be great care in preventing casualness (or vanity) in speaking of holy things. Taking the precious name of the Lord on our lips is to be done only with the greatest of care, in humble adoration. (See second commandment.)

When the Holy Spirit prompts someone to ask for your testimony, it is then they are able to receive it. Lately, I have had repeated invitations to speak of such holy things. So, I will pray that His name will be glorified as I respond to these requests.

This is in no way to demean other people's experience with God. God, in His love, specifically tailors His relationship with each of us. Your experience will not look like mine nor should it nor should our experiences be compared. There is no such thing as equality of faith. There is just the infinite. And that is unmeasurable.

My heart yearns to go into my beautiful Catholic Church and sit as a little soul amongst its exquisite wonder. The sanctuary of God speaks from every corner and from the heights that God is mysteriously other and God is good. While the mass with the Body of Christ is the highest form of worship, I especially love to wander in when it is empty, sit on the bench near the front and allow my ears to absorb the sublime silence. And yet, I can feel the echo of the grandness of the House of Prayer and feel the joy of our intimate meeting. I experience the nearer, My God, to thee


Then I kneel. I do not kneel out of habit or form. I kneel because I know that in that humble position, I am more able to climb the mountain of prayer. For me, prayer is not easy. It is a struggle with God, a struggle not to get but to give up—to die daily. For it is in prayer that we fight the battle of self and our desire to be God.

First and foremost, I ask for forgiveness and for His mercy. For I know how evil is man and how dark, blind and stupid is man's soul. I know I am but dust and no matter how I feel, I know that He can see past my oblivion to my own sin. His holiness would destroy me if I came before Him with my petitions without His cleansing forgiveness. Then I begin my prayers.

Often I am sorely tempted to give up on prayer too soon. Not that blessings do not fall at each step, but I have come to  understand that I must exhaust self in this the long trek of prayer.  And through His grace, I reach the summit of "not my will but Thine." At the top of the mountain the struggles of faith and the worries of life shatter and a refreshing time of peace and joy awaits.

And as I pray, in my blessed church I cast my eyes up upon the Cross and feel like St. Paul, "I am determined to know nothing but Christ and Him Crucified."

The Cross. The Cross. The Cross from whence pours down His love. This terrible scene of awe. This miraculous wonder of God and His agony lets me see into His heart. For His flesh was torn so that we may receive His sacred heart.

As I lift up those God has given to me to pray for—my precious daughters, Ellie and Becky, the newest additions to my children I offer them to Christ as I have done for my children since they were still unseen within me, that His blessings and protection and love will pour upon them. I offer up my beautiful mother and my cousin Sandra, my darling Carrie and her two amazing daughters, Maeby and June. Brenden and Uncle JT and the Dexters and Lori Jamison and her daughters and especially Zack and Jacob as they fight for our security. Each person, one by one—all my relatives and friends and even my enemies— I lift up and see the glorious grace pouring down in the sacred blood and water from His wounded side. I know each soul is being healed from the devastation of sin and I pray temptation will remain far from us. 

I repeat over and over, "Lamb of God, You take away the sins of the world. Have mercy on us."

From the Cross, I see His miraculous love. It is through this hard view of Divine sacrifice that the most pure and holy love is understood. For His love was unbridled, passionate, courageous and active. His love was not given by degrees but poured out without measure to us.

Then when I am done with my numerous petitions, I begin adoration. My mind fills itself with Him and I become lost, not knowing where I end and He begins. It is through adoration we enter heaven and because I go often to the worship of mass-- I know as the Bride--when I enter in a more intimate way to the King, he will hold out his scepter to me and my adoration will be accepted. For I know He loves me.

Then, as a new enlivened soul, I step out of this sanctuary, I am prepared for the battle— the battle of bringing the sacrifice of the Cross to each human I encounter. The battle of being Christ to all I see and seeing Christ in all I encounter.

And I know my enemy is going to try and break me. He wants me, rather than offer myself up for others as Christ did, to become petty and small-hearted and judgmental. The dark principalities desires me to see with an eye to criticize others and will tempt me to fall back into selfishness, to protect my own ego and demand no one offend or hurt me. The devil will do anything to keep me from being humble and self-sacrificing.

Yet I am fortified with Christ's grace and when I fall, I know all that is needed is for me to repent and He brings me back to the graces that were given to me in His House. His glory and grace are there inside me changing me into His image. And I become more and more that Cross which I behold.

And I know that God and His gospel of the Kingdom is good.

Friday, October 6, 2017

WHAT IS LOVE?

God IS love.

God does not possess love like it is something other—something outside Himself. God did not create love, as if it is material. Nor is it ours to grasp. 

Love is freely given to every living creature on earth that they may fulfill their purpose in glorifying God. Humans are the only creatures that can choose to love or choose not to love.

When we want to understand love, when we want to be loving, we go to God. There is no other source of love than God Himself. All love we see in the world finds its source in the Creator. Each act of kindness, each patient word, each sacrifice for another has an unseen and often unrecognized mover. God is glorified in each selfless act, no matter who gets earthly credit. He is pleased when humans show they are made in His image by even the tiniest acts of self-giving. Each glimmer of goodness reflects back to He-who-is-good.

We often mistake love for comfortable, emotional sentimentality—a feeling that warms and soothes us. Yet love is so much bigger than that. While love is feeling—in the present moment—the distant shores of a peaceful land, love does not allow us to sleep and dream too long. Love abruptly awakens us and gives us supernatural power to stand and fight today’s battles of pride, selfishness and lethargy.

Do not fear love. Often we substitute pleasure for love because love can be more painful to receive than to give. Love tells us who we are, and the natural man does not want to know who he is. For the infinite meaning of who we are to God is unbearable without His grace sustaining us. As that knowledge of love is unfolded to us, as we enter the holiness of love, we often long to cling to our wretched view of ourselves. And we retreat back into fear. 
For, Love stretches us to our full height as it embraces us.

Love is a daily, hourly, and by the minute letting go of fear. The fear that we will not get our way.  The fear of loss of control. For love freely gives control to God knowing that “though He slay me, yet will I serve Him.” It is the mystery of faith that as we pour ourself out as a sacrifice for others, that Christ’s grace will continually flow through us so we do not dry up.

Love is liberating. Our choice to give ourselves over to loving God and others opens up more and more freedoms. While choosing to refuse to love will eventually restrict us. Because--s
in does not knock when it enters. Sin does not ask our permission, nor announce what he is doing. Sin takes advantage and creeps in, enslaving us to our indifference and hate. 

Love understands that sin is man’s greatest enemy and always picks up the sword to fight with and for the sinner—not against him. Sin cannot endure love and when sin is convinced love will win, it flees.

Love never blocks another's way to heaven.

The Christian journey is a series of learning to prostrate ourselves before Love. For love is demanding. It does not allow us to think ourselves better than others. It molds us into a perfection of patience and kindness. It teaches us to look upon the terrible struggles of sin in others and never judge the outcome, for love never gives up hope that God will win in every soul.

The more we love, the less we sin. It is the definition of how love works. For as we behold the very source of all life and love, we are changed into His image.

The Catholic Church has helped me see through the eyes of Christ, which are the eyes of love. I could never have seen unless He healed me of my great blindness. I never even knew I was blind, until He gave me sight. 

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

WHY SOME CATHOLICS CALL SUNDAY "SABBATH"

Let me begin by saying, the Sabbath issue is basically a non-issue for everyone but Seventh-day 
Adventists. To take the time to explain the theology of the Lord's Day and the Sabbath day is about as important to Christians as debating who wrote the book of Hebrews--was it St. Paul or Apollos or Barnabas? People simply don't care, so this is why the Catholic Church doesn't address this mistake of many Catholics calling Sunday "the Sabbath." When you are in battle against Satan, and families are being torn apart, the last thing you are worried about is whether your socks match. And that is the importance to Catholics about this subject.

But I will give a very brief and incomplete history of how this Sunday "sabbath" issue grew up in America and why Seventh-day Adventists can find a whole slew of writings they quote in their literature that back up Catholics calling Sunday, "the Sabbath."

First, through the centuries, scholars--all theologians--have seen the similarities in holy days. There are similarities in the high holy days that occur once a year in Lev. 23 to the sabbath that occur weekly. In fact, the Passover was called a "sabbath" just as the 7th day was called a Sabbath, though they were not commemorating the same event. The Passover was a holy day just as the seventh-day was a holy day, but they were very different in that one pointed to the Promised Land and the other pointed to Creation. We have holidays in America and are free to call Christmas a holy day and somehow that is not confused with Easter. It's similar to the way Catholic theology treats the Lord's Day and Sabbath.

Okay... so, understanding this, I jump to 19th century United States.

America had been very anti-catholic. Many early colonies did now allow Catholics to live there. The KKK's targets were both blacks and Catholics. The Catholic Church was attempting to survive by proving to Protestants we were not the great evil thing it was being portrayed as. Public and private debates erupted.

There seemed to be one point upon which the Protestants could not answer the Catholics. Catholics asked them why Protestants went to church on Sunday when there was nothing explicit in scripture that commands Christians to worship on Sunday. It was their "gotcha" moment in all exchanges. The point was that Protestants unknowingly accepted the authority of the Catholic Church by going to church on Sunday. To this day, the same argument is used by Catholics to Protestants who deny that the Catholic Church has authority. Why do you go to church on Sunday? 

...... crickets......

Because the Catholic Church sees similarities in the Lord's Day and the holy seventh-day of the commandments, Catholics are free to use those similarities.

However, the Catholic Church never changed the Sabbath to Sunday. Sunday is the Lord's Day. It is the first day and the eighth day---it is not the seventh day. If one goes to Rome, one will hear anyone speaking Italian or Latin refer to the first day of the week as "The Lord's Day" and the seventh day of the week as "The Sabbath." There is not a transference. Sunday gets its holiness from being the great day of the Son of God gave His life to save the world. Sunday doesn't need to borrow its holiness from Sabbath. Indeed Sabbath derives its holiness because it foreshadowed the holiest day of all time.... the day heaven and earth met in a cosmic battle for our souls. And there was never a doubt as to who would win. Jesus won. And each Sunday we are celebrating that.

The sabbath was just like John the Baptist when he said something similar to, "I must grow lesser that Jesus may grow greater."

American Catholics have used the Sabbath/Sunday as a survival issue so that the could end the attacks on Catholics. They just have never taken the time to explain the theological nuances of the Lord's Day. And that has caused untold misunderstandings with Adventists.





















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