Angelic Warfare Confraternity

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A Witness To Truth And Hope

Chapter 18 – A Witness to Truth and Hope –

“He said in reply , “I tell you, if they keep silent, the stones will cry out!” – Luke 19:40.

I have been called by The Power of The Holy Spirit to witness, to pray, to study, to preach and to glorify God in business in life while helping others along the way.

If I keep silent, the stones will cry out.

I am compelled. I have gained knowledge through 33 years of prayer, reading and study. Those who have been given knowledge cannot undo that knowledge.

Two of our seven spiritual works of mercy are, 1. To instruct the ignorant and, 2. To admonish the sinner. These are acts of love and mercy.

One who has knowledge must speak and act on it. It is better to obey God than man.

I have also been “in the belly of the whale”, read Jonah chapter 1-4 and “in the tomb”, Matthew 12:40 – “Just as Jonah was in the belly of the whale three days and three nights, so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights”.

My time in the “belly of the whale” was from March 18-22, 2015 inside Chester county hospital undergoing tests related to my heart due to chest pain, eventually resulting in a stent being inserted into my severely blocked circumflex artery. Minor blockages were found in 2 other arteries. I suffered a mild heart attack during the procedure. Because of the insertion points through the wrist to get to the heart and the fact that they had to redo the procedure and therefore pierce both my wrists and having welts all over my upper body from all the heart probes attached stickies being put on and taken off and needles inserted in my hands and bend of elbows I was blessed and joyful to receive a gift from God, called the stigmata in miniature and experience during this time of lent the hand wounds as well as the scourge wounds of Jesus on my upper body in a miniature and prayerful way like never before. I did not have to endure even a miniscule of what our Lord and Savior Jesus endured or many of the saints endured.

God spoke to my heart very clearly during my hospital stay and he continues to “speak” to me every day since up to this moment. I write this in “fear” and trembling. Fear and trembling, are actually awe and wonder which is a good thing. It is very difficult to articulate in words spoken or written how God has “spoken” to me. I can tell you His love and mercy endure forever and He will never be outdone in generosity.

My one and only sibling, my older brother Kenny DeFeo, was called home by my God and his on December 28, 1997 at age 37 by a sudden and fatal heart attack. December 28 is the feast of The Holy Innocents. This is what I call a Godcident, as I don’t believe in coincidence, and that feast day is an appropriate day of feast as to the kind of man my brother was and continues to be through his intercession. My father, Robert DeFeo, was diagnosed with heart disease at age 39, but he did live with it for 30 more years. God called my Pop home on June 21, 2008. God could have called me home as well back in March but He has other plans for me. This is why I write this blog. Another Godcident is He is clearly telling me to write and act in this year 2015 as we prepare for the World Meeting of Families and visit from Pope Francis as well as the Jubilee year, which will start on December 8 of this year (The feast of the Immaculate Conception) and culminate with start of advent 2016. In addition the USA Supreme court has legalized same sex marriage and Planned Parenthood is selling body parts as they continue the destruction of human life. So, I am commanded to write. I believe the Holy Spirit inspires me to because it’s a feeling I am unable to articulate. Thoughts just pour out like water.

We were and are a family of faith. My parents dealt with the death of their oldest son with grace, dignity and continued to walk in faith and that had a profound affect on me.

All this has brought me to this point as a witness, which is a person who testifies, along with a few other defining moments in my life starting in the third grade when my school teacher asked us as Good Friday approached to do something for Jesus, especially between the hours of noon – 3pm, when we believe He was crucified, hung on the cross and eventually died at 3pm. I decided to remain silent, not eat and read my bible for those 3 hours while I sat in my bedroom. There was a bit of humor when my pop called from work to talk to my mother. As the phone rang and no one picked I figured I should, so I did. I picked up the phone but did not speak, my father on the other end was speaking into the phone and trying to figure out was going on. He was not happy with playing a guessing game, so through clenched teeth like a ventriloquist I spoke and explained as quickly as I could what I was up to and why. He just said, OK, go find your mother, so I did.

A couple of years later, at age 11, I had my first experience in viewing pornography. As is usually the case and as is usually the age, I stumbled upon it by accident. A friend and I were just walking to our usual hangout at the bowling alley in Westbrook Park and there was trash blowing around in an alleyway and what appeared to be a ripped up magazine so we picked it up to look at it. We didn’t even know what it was, but we read the words on this magazine, Playboy. We looked through it and laughed and threw it away.

From that moment on I looked at so much porn up to March 18, 2015 I cannot even keep track. I did have long periods of abstinence throughout my life by the grace of God as well. I have also engaged in much worse sexual sin than just looking at porn, which is a gateway to worse sexual sin. So many men are wounded by the scourge of pornography and priests state 9 out 10 men have confessed to viewing pornography in the sacrament of confession. It is an addiction and damaging. It destroys marriages and families and did not help me to say the least to be the husband and man God wanted me to be. The Kingsmen is a great apostolate and has helped many men in their struggle to overcome pornography addiction. As a priest in the sacrament of confession once told me, “you are staring into the gates of hell”. Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:28 – “But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” and again in Matthew 18:9 – “And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter into life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into fiery Gehenna”. These words come directly from Jesus Himself and are serious beyond belief. These verses alone should be cause for repentance, turning away from sin and remaining faithful to the Gospel, but we are weak, I know I am weak. But as the Apostle St. Paul tells us when I am weak, He is strong ( see CCC 1264, 1426 and 2515). The Apostle St Paul also exhorts us to put on the full armor of Our Lord Jesus Christ to battle and defeat concupiscence. If we go it alone and think we don’t need God’s help, we lose, every time (“For if God is with us, who can be against us”). If we go into “battle” without God or worse yet if we don’t even see, recognize or acknowledge the battle, than we are placing ourselves in harm’s way and playing God. By saying I don’t need you God or if the thought of God does not even enter your mind, you are in fact saying you are God, you are replacing God by becoming God yourself, and the devil loves that!

Throughout all my struggles with concupiscence since age eleven I never wandered from the Church and the receiving of all its sacraments including regular confession and Mass on Sunday’s.

As I grew physically, mentally, intellectually, emotionally and even spiritually I continued to remain immature sexually but I kept walking in faith and because of my formed or rather forming conscience based on Church teaching I was aware when I was sinning and went to the sacrament of confession as soon as possible. I hated knowing I would be going to mass on Sunday and refraining from receiving Communion, but I would refrain when I knew I was in a state of mortal sin and my heart ached not being able to receive Jesus in me in the sacrament of the Eucharist but I had remembered what St Paul wrote to us about receiving Holy Communion unworthily – see 1 Cor. 11:26-34, and Hebrews 10:29 – and therefore I knew it was more important not to receive than to receive if I was not in a state of grace. Catholics have an altar call every day! It’s called Holy Communion and it’s awesome! A gift given to us by Jesus Himself; He instituted this sacrament during the Last Supper on Holy Thursday night before His passion and death.

Jesus tells us in Matthew 12:31 “Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is the only sin that will not be forgiven”. We should be trembling at this. This means if we don’t have a formed conscience based on the truths of the Bible and Church teaching we are in grave danger of being lost, because it is impossible to acknowledge God or allow Him to be in your thought process if we don’t know or want to get to know Him. Allow the Holy Spirit in you. How do we get to know Him? By living in His word for one, but that is just the start. Pray unceasingly and study and read everything you can on Church teaching and the lives of the saints.

I mention these two gravest of grave sins to say we can be in God’s word and practice our faith but still fall into sexual sin because I am living proof of that. Reading God’s word is not enough to avoid the temptation of falling into sexual sin, you and I must LIVE in God’s word to avoid this temptation. I have been a faithful, practicing,  well read and studious believer in God’s word and the teachings of The Catholic faith for as long as I can remember. I was even baptized in The Holy Spirit during the spring of 1982 at age 17 at a charismatic renewal retreat, all this after being baptized, receiving first confession, Holy Communion and Confirmation which makes us soldiers for Jesus but I still thirsted for my Lord and Savior and wanted more, so I made my profession of faith at age 17 but still continued to fall into sexual sin, why?

Why? Well the reason is I had not fully surrendered my life and total trust to Jesus. I thought I needed sexual pleasure to be happy all the while sexual pleasure outside of God’s plan for human sexuality (read Pope Saint John Paul II Theology of the Body) does great harm and collateral damage;  I damaged others including my wife as well as bring on despair and depression. (In another and separate post I will explain from the Book – Witness for Atonement – by Robert Margetts how the USA’s dropping of and using Atomic weapons in 1945 on the Japanese innocent people, noncombatants in population centers, was a grave offense to God and an atrocity and brought this country’s downfall morally and led to the atrocities of abortion we experience today, not to mention the other immoral acts we allow. If we can allow dropping bombs on innocent people than it is easy to kill people in their mother’s womb. I am pro-life from moment of conception until natural death and everywhere in between. I don’t like gun use or any weapons but understand why they are legal. I don’t believe in capital punishment and I believe a baby conceived even in the violent act of rape has a right to life and I have witnessed those who were born by their mother who was raped speak and it was pretty awesome listening to them and the act of love their mother made for them so they can have life. Our collective conscience has been numbed to mass murder, which is what abortion is, because of our use of weapons of mass destruction in 1945 on innocent people. I encourage you to read this book. It is very short and you can purchase online). We all are searching for true joy, we all are searching for Jesus and we don’t even know it! The devil does everything in his limited power to obstruct us from getting to Jesus. We have to fight and we need God’s grace in us, His sanctifying grace and we need each other, we are in spiritual warfare. Surround yourself with warriors who will fight this battle with you on your knees. That is why I am with The Kingsmen.

The title of this chapter is A Witness to Truth And Hope so I close with this I am a Witness to Truth, the truth God gave us written in His Word, The Bible. Admit the truth, accept  Jesus as your Lord and Savior, believe on HIM and confess on your lips and in your heart and mind that He is Lord of your life. Then just keep walking, reading, studying and practicing your faith and meet with others of faith regularly. Growing in faith is a lifelong process, listen to God’s whispers, open your eyes and your heart. Live in His Word every day, The Bible, it is Truth, and the teachings of The Catholic Church have safeguarded this truth for 2000 years and continue to do so today and will forever.

Secondly as I state in the title of this chapter, A Witness to Hope! Never despair, never! It is written in the Bible over and over again in both Old and New Testament, “Do not be afraid”, and Jesus says it often as well. As I stated earlier admonishing the sinner and instructing the ignorant are two spiritual works of mercy. A spiritual work of mercy is a WORK OF LOVE! If we really love than we don’t enable, we speak the truth. Faith, Hope and Charity! We are people of hope. Repenting brings hope, conversion brings hope, change brings hope. Experiencing the Risen Jesus like I did from March 18-22, 2015 brings hope. I was wounded and still am but Jesus filled that wound, let Him fill yours, whatever caused it, and I am here to witness to it and tell you not to wait until you experience chest pain like I did to fully surrender to His Love and Mercy. It is the greatest and most joyful experience you will ever have!

So, how did I finally break free of the slavery of concupiscence even after being a person of faith for my entire life, by opening my heart, ears and mind to those God surrounded me with and on the advice of a friend joining the Angelic Warfare Confraternity which provides sanctifying grace and by staying connected to the Triune God through the intercession of His and ours Blessed Mother, the Queen of Virgins, and virgin saints like Thomas Aquinas every second of the day, by “making an agreement with my eyes”, see Job 31:1, and by repenting, turning away from sin and remaining faithful to Gospel and knowing it’s in my past but not being foolish to not know my vulnerabilities and by not consuming alcohol or drugs or smoking anything, which damages the body, heart and lungs and ultimately the soul.

This post ties into two other posts, which I recommend you go to called Angelic Warfare Confraternity and Whitehouse Witness.

Please know that are bodies are temples of The Holy Spirit and anything we do to damage the body is sinful. Excessive eating, drinking alcohol, drugs are all bad, get enough sleep and exercise.

In other posts we will dive into difficult subjects all inter related or stemming from the same tree of death including use of Pornography, domestic violence, in vitro fertilization, use of artificial birth control, abortion, fornication, adultery and same sex acts. All are sinful, but there is hope, admit, accept, believe and confess even if you continue to stumble like I did keep confessing and never despair, St Paul tells us “where sin abounds , grace abounds all the more”!!! Meet with a spiritual director regularly.

It is important to note that having same sex attraction is not a sin! Engaging in same sex is. Just go to confession and confess this sin and stop. You can do it! “With God all things are possible”!

As the author of this article I want to state that I have ministered to others who are same sex attracted and transgendered but striving for holiness through my various ministries in serving. I have witnessed talks from same sex attracted individuals who are living a chaste life and practicing their faith and are joyful!

I pray and sidewalk counsel outside abortion mills. I serve in a soup kitchen regularly. I help and support those trying to break away from Porn addiction or any addiction that is bad. I teach and coach middle school age and high school age people.

We are all called to serve in some way so I encourage you to, all in the name of Jesus!

God loves you and so do I! Peace, love, truth, hope and mercy!!!

http://www.WorldMeeting2015.org

http://www.oremuscomms.com

http://www.usccb.org

http://divineoffice.org

White House Witness – August 15, 2015 – 10-12noonEST

Please click on link below to get full details for this witness.
Please go to the two Posts on my blog Titled – A Witness To Truth And Hope – and another Titled – Angelic Warfare Confraternity – to gain a better understanding of why I am participating in this witness. It is a Spiritual Work of Love and Mercy and a calling I must accept.
I encourage you to join us. If you are in DC and near the White House on Saturday August 15, 2015 between 10am and 12noon please feel free to stand with us or even stop by to talk. Hope to see you.
God Bless and Keep Walking!!!
after clicking on above link read – More Truth, Less Misplaced Compassion and under that post read the next post tiltled – 3 Ways to Reclaim Marriage In Our Country.
In addition the below links provide great resources –

We Are – Dominican’s In The Catholic Faith

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    PROVIDENCE COLLEGE WINS ARCHITECTURAL AWARD

    The architectural publication Traditional Building recently drew attention a new building at Providence College by granting its architects the 2015 Palladio Award for “New Design & Construction, more than 30,000 sq.ft.” The architecture firm S/L/A/M Collaborative and Sullivan Buckingham Architects worked… Read More

  • Novices copy

    SIMPLE PROFESSION 2015

    On August 15, 2015, nine novices of the Province of St. Joseph will make simple profession at St. Gertrude Church in Cincinnati, OH. Please keep them in your prayers as they prepare for profession.

  • Thomistic Institute - Conference for Priests 2015 (19)

    BECOMING A BETTER CONFESSOR

    The Thomistic Institute recently sponsored their fourth annual Conference for Priests: “Becoming a Better Confessor: Using the Virtues and Vices in the Confessional.” The conference, cosponsored with the Archdiocese of Baltimore,  took place on July 7-9, 2015 in the Archdiocese of Baltimore and at the Basilica… Read More

  • St Dominic Harvard Fogg

    ST. DOMINIC AT HARVARD

    The oldest surviving portrait of St. Dominic, painted in Siena c. 1240, now rests in Harvard’s Fogg Museum and may be viewed online.  Since Holy Father Dominic died in Bologna in 1221, the painting may well have been made… Read More

  • Thomas_More_Family

    DUAL CITIZENSHIP, BUT ONE IS TO BE PREFERRED

    The following is a reflection on the tension between civic life and living a life of faith by Fr. Brian Chrzastek, O.P., professor of philosophy at the Pontifical Faculty of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. ✠ “God… Read More

  • 2ruane_856a

    PROVIDENCE COLLEGE WINS ARCHITECTURAL AWARD

    The architectural publication Traditional Building recently drew attention a new building at Providence College by granting its architects the 2015 Palladio Award for “New Design & Construction, more than 30,000 sq.ft.” The architecture firm S/L/A/M Collaborative and Sullivan Buckingham Architects worked… Read More

  • Novices copy

    SIMPLE PROFESSION 2015

    On August 15, 2015, nine novices of the Province of St. Joseph will make simple profession at St. Gertrude Church in Cincinnati, OH. Please keep them in your prayers as they prepare for profession.

PROVINCE OF ST. JOSEPH

We Dominican Friars of St. Joseph Province are a community called to preach Jesus Christ as part of the worldwide mission of the Order of Friars Preachers.

Under the patronage of Mary, the Mother of God, we are bound, poor and chaste, to one another by our common vow of obedience, and by God’s grace we grow in holiness through our common life, prayer and contemplation, study of the Word, and our fraternity.

Empowered by the Holy Spirit, our mission is exercised for the salvation of souls and extends to all of God’s people through these primary ministries:

a. preaching the Word, including all forms of evangelization;
b. teaching and scholarship in service of the ministry of the Word, with priority given to our own foundations: the Dominican House of Studies and Providence College;
c. parochial service, especially in university locales, and in parishes offering strategic opportunities for preaching; and
d. foreign missions.

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WORD TO LIFE BROADCAST: THE SOLEMNITY OF OUR HOLY FATHER DOMINIC

Fr. John Maria Devaney, O.P. and Fr. Innocent Smith, O.P. continue the series on the “Bread of Life” discourse in the 6th Chapter of St. John’s Gospel, offering reflections on the readings for the Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary…

Learn More

Aiming High: How To Grow In Virtue

Aiming High: How to Grow in Virtue

Edward Sri, the author of this article has written many books and appears on EWTN as the Leader of Symbolon. I encourage you to learn more about this. My friend and brother in faith Joe Lepera shared this article with me. This is how we strengthen and sharpen one another in our faith and grow and learn. True friends in the faith instruct and even admonish one another when necessary as we “walk” together with our Lord and Savior Jesus. It is important to humbly accept help and instruction in the faith if properly catechized. This article represents the story of my life and what I am striving for and practicing in my walk. Enjoy this article, it is a great read and will help you in your daily “Walk”. God bless and keep “Walking”.

  • EDWARD SRI

If we are aiming to live virtuously in our marriages, families, and friendships, we need much more than sporadic good deeds or occasional acts of kindness when we happen to be in a good mood.

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I was nervous about pulling the trigger. I had never used a shotgun before, but my friend took me shooting skeet – clay discs that are thrown into the air as moving targets. My friend, who was a good marksman, shot the first several rounds and then asked if I wanted to try. Bang! On my very first shot, I knocked it down.

Someone watching me at that moment might have been very impressed. “Wow, he hit it on the first try! He must be a lot better than that first guy!” However, one good shot does not make a good marksman. A good marksman possesses the ability to use a shotgun well and hit his target consistently and easily. I, on the other hand, barely knew what I was doing. My next 25 shots made that evident: They were all embarrassing misses, widely off the mark.

If we are aiming to live virtuously in our marriages, families, and friendships, we need much more than sporadic good deeds or occasional acts of kindness when we happen to be in a good mood. In this reflection, we will consider three key characteristics of virtue that are crucial for living our relationships on target, the way God intended for us. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the virtuous man does what is good consistently, easily, and joyfully.


Three Characteristics of Virtue

1. Consistency. First, the Catechism defines virtue as “an habitual and firm disposition to do the good” (no. 1803). This tells us that virtue requires much more than performing good deeds every once in a while. After all, it is easy to be generous, patient, and kind to others when things are going well in our life: when we’re feeling good and enjoying the people we’re with. But will we be generous, patient, and kind to the person who happens to be frustrating us right now? Will we be virtuous with our spouse when we’re tired? Will we be virtuous with our children when we’re experiencing stress at work or feeling overwhelmed in life? The virtuous man is someone you can count on to give the best of himself consistently, no matter what the circumstances may be.

2. Ease. Virtue also enables a man to perform good acts easily (Catechism, no. 1804). He does what is good promptly, as if it is second nature for him. Just as a professional basketball player drives to the basket and sinks a lay-up without having to think much about it, so too the virtuous man performs good acts easily without extraordinary effort, deliberation, or internal struggle. Doing what is good is so deeply ingrained in him that his virtuous deeds seem automatic. On the other hand, to the extent that a man struggles in being cheerful, humble, or pure, for example, to that extent he is lacking in virtue.

3. Joy. Finally, the virtuous man does not just do what is right. He does it joyfullyCatechism, no. 1804). He takes delight in the good, even if it is difficult to achieve or causes him suffering. The virtuous man does not complain or feel sorry for himself when he does what is right. He finds a deeper joy in living the way God made him to live, which is to do the good no matter what the cost.

Teeing Off

A helpful exercise is to consider your most important relationships and ask yourself, “Which vices are keeping me from loving these people more?”

Let us consider an analogy from sports. A professional golfer such as Jack Nicklaus possessed a high degree of skill that made him an excellent golfer. He knew which club to use, had a great swing, and had good judgment about how to hit the ball. Therefore, he could hit the ball straight down the fairway with ease. He also hit the ball consistently right where he wanted it, and he found joy in playing the game well.

I, on the other hand, am not a good golfer. I rarely play, and when I do, it is abundantly clear that I do not possess the skills of golfing. It is not easy for me to golf well. Even if I do occasionally hit the ball where I want it, I am far from consistent in doing so. And since I am so poor at this sport, there usually is not much joy when I play!

Personal Virtue Assessment

With this background, we are now prepared to ask ourselves, “To what degree am I really living the virtues?”

For example, do I have the virtue of generosity? The man who puts a$1,000 check into the collection basket one Sunday may be performing a good and noble act, but that alone would not necessarily mean he possesses the virtue of generosity. Some people can give money to a charitable organization, but fail to give personal time, attention, and care to the people right in their own lives. The truly generous man, however, gives of himself – not just when it is convenient for him, but consistently. He also gives promptly, easily, and joyfully, without having to calculate the cost or wrestle with his selfishness. For a generous man, giving of himself is second nature to him.

Similarly, do I have the virtue of patience? The patient mother, for example, can remain calm with her children not only when they are behaving well and the day is moving along smoothly, but even when the kids are having a breakdown and the schedule for the day has been turned completely upside down. Though she may experience stress and sorrow over the way things are going (which would be quite natural!), she does not allow that sadness to take over. Her patience enables her to maintain a certain interior peace and carry out her responsibilities as a mother well, despite the chaos around her.

The standards of virtue are high. The more we learn about the virtues, the more we realize how far off the mark we are. But this should not discourage us. The Church offers much wisdom on practical ways we can grow in virtue, increasing the capacity within us to do the good with consistency, ease, and joy.

How to Grow in Virtue

First, we must examine our lives and discern the main weaknesses keeping us from living our relationships with excellence. These weaknesses are called vices – the bad habits formed through repeated sin.

A helpful exercise is to consider your most important relationships and ask yourself, “Which vices are keeping me from loving these people more?” Are you selfish with your spouse, tending to think more about yourself than serving his or her needs? Do you lose your patience often with your children? Are you “too busy” to give God your time in prayer each day?

The best way to conquer vice in our lives is not merely to try to avoid sin, but to try to put into practice the particular virtue that opposes the vice we’re trying to conquer. For example, if I often say critical things about other people, I should make it a point to honor others each day. If I tend to procrastinate, I should start certain projects at work earlier than necessary in order to combat my procrastination.

If I tend to be self-centered and want to have my own way in my home, I should purposely find out what my spouse’s and children’s needs and preferences are and pursue those instead of my own. By positively practicing the virtues that oppose my vices, I can begin to overcome the weaknesses that prevent me from giving the best of myself in my relationships.

Practice Makes Perfect?

Given our fallen human nature, we will always struggle with an inclination toward sin. This is why we need to reach out to a power outside of us that can enable us to live the virtues in a way we could never do on our own.

Such a program of virtue training, however, will not be easy. As the Catechism explains, “The removal of the ingrained disposition to sin . . . requires much effort and self-denial, until the contrary virtue is acquired.” Therefore, we should not be discouraged if we do not notice immediate results. Growing in virtue is like strengthening our bodies’ muscles. When an out-of-shape 40-year-old man first starts jogging, he probably will not find running three miles a day to be easy. In the beginning, it will be quite painful. But over time, the jogger who consistently runs several times a week builds up his muscles and stamina. With much practice, a three-mile run eventually becomes a lot easier.

Similarly, strengthening our moral muscles – the virtues – takes time and effort. We might experience tremendous difficulty and failure when we first start battling against our vices. The unchaste man will struggle against impurity for a long time. But if he perseveres in the struggle, chaste living eventually will get easier for him as his moral muscles strengthen. The man who suddenly decides to start praying every day most likely is not going to find it easy to do. But if he practices daily prayer for many weeks and months, prayer will gradually become more natural for him.

The key here is perseverance. If the beginning jogger quits after two weeks because it is too difficult, he will never be able to make a three-mile run easily. Similarly, if we give up the battle for virtue because it is too hard, we will only remain enslaved in our vices and never be able to give the best of ourselves to our God, spouse, children, and friends.

Amazing Grace

Nevertheless, no matter how much we pursue virtue, we will still run up against our own limitations. Most of us have weaknesses that have plagued us for many years, no matter how hard we have tried to overcome them. Given our fallen human nature, we will always struggle with an inclination toward sin. This is why we need to reach out to a power outside of us that can enable us to live the virtues in a way we could never do on our own. That power is found in Jesus Christ. As the Catechism explains, “Christ’s gift of salvation offers us the grace necessary to persevere in the pursuit of the virtues”(no. 1811).

Sanctifying grace is Christ’s divine life in us, transforming our selfish hearts with the supernatural love of Christ Himself. The more we grow in Christ’s grace, the more we are able to love supernaturally – above and beyond what our weak human nature could ever do on its own.

This is why it is essential to seek grace in prayer and the sacraments. With Christ’s divine life dwelling in us, our natural virtues are elevated to participate in Christ’s life. With grace, we can begin to be patient with Christ’s patience. We can begin to be humble with Christ’s humility. And we can begin to love with Christ’s divine love working through us. When grace starts to transform our lives, we can begin to say with St. Paul that “it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me”(Gal. 2:20).

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Acknowledgement

Edward P. Sri. “Aiming High: How to Grow in Virtue.” Lay Witness (Mar/Apr, 2009): 11.

This article is reprinted with permission from Lay Witness magazine.

Lay Witness is a publication of Catholic United for the Faith, Inc., an international lay apostolate founded in 1968 to support, defend, and advance the efforts of the teaching Church.

The Author

sri10sri9Edward Sri a professor of theology and Vice President of Mission and Outreach at the Augustine Institute in Denver, Colorado. Sri is also a founding leader with Curtis Martin of FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students). He resides with his wife Elizabeth and their seven children in Littleton, Colorado. Among his books are Rediscovering the Heart of the Disciple: Pope Francis and the Joy of the GospelMen, Women and the Mystery of Love: Practical Insights from John Paul II’s ‘Love and Responsibility’, The Bible Compass: A Catholic’s Guide to Navigating the Scriptures, A Biblical Walk Through the Mass: Understanding What We Say and Do in the Liturgy, Mystery of the Kingdom, The New Rosary in Scripture: Biblical Insights for Praying the 20 Mysteries, and Queen Mother. Visit Edward Sri’s website here.

Copyright © 2009 www.augustineinstitute.org

Hope and Healing Resources Provided by The Catholic Church For All People

These are great resources for anyone seeking healing and holiness. Anyone who wants to grow closer to God, but feels they cannot do it on their own. There is hope for all of us. We need each other and God’s uses us to help each grow in holiness. If you know anyone who can benefit from these great resources below please share them. Everyone has been wounded in some way at some point in their life’s journey and walk.

http://www.rachelsvineyard.org/

http://couragerc.org/

http://manlyminutes.org/

http://thekingsmen.org/tkm-retreats/samson-healing-retreats-for-men/

God bless. I hope you find this helpful for you or someone else in your life who need’s healing. Let’s build each other up and encourage one another.

http://www.WorldMeeting2015.org

http://www.oremuscomms.com

http://www.usccb.org

http://divineoffice.org

St. Paul Street Evangelization – Stories From The Street

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In This Issue

1. Word on Fire’s Brandon Vogt Hits the Streets
2. Street Evangelization Takes off in London, England
3. South Windsor, CT Checks-In

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Word on Fire’s Brandon Vogt joined the new Orlando, FL chapter of St. Paul Street Evangelization for an hour and a half last week. The team handed out literature, books, and rosaries, speaking to those who passed by about the Catholic faith.

Sometimes team members will become discouraged if they don’t experience dramatic encounters or conversions right away. Brandon offers some advice:

“Just do it! You might be nervous, and you might feel silly standing out there if nobody approaches you. That’s fine. We talked with about 10 people in 1.5 hours, and only made real headway with 1-2 of them. But don’t worry about the results. The important thing is just to show up!”

When our teams go and evangelize on a regular basis in the same area people from the local community get to know them and expect to see them. That is why our joyful witness is so important. The community begins to get a sense of who we are and whether or not we are trustworthy.

Our teams are thanked every day for being so friendly and approachable. While someone may pass by a team once, twice, or a dozen times without ever stopping our faithful witness may lead them one day to engage us and seek out more information. If we can be approachable we will begin to serve as a bridge of trust from the public square to the local parish, leading others to encounter Jesus Christ. If you have ever become discouraged as an evangelist, don’t worry and be of good cheer. God is pleased with your work in the vineyard, and he will grow the harvest.

“Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, “For Your sake we are being put to death all day long; We were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 8:35-39

St. Paul Street Evangelization does not charge any kind of fee to our nearly 200 teams. We depend on monthly gifts from our supporters to keep our apostolate running. Will you help us continue to expand throughout the world today?

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Street Evangelization Takes off in London, England

SPSE’s new London team set up for their first outreach session close to Westminster Cathedral, so close in fact they drew the attention of the secretary to Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster. It was an amazing encounter, said SPSE team leader John Rodger.

Although finding evangelists “interested in going to the streets with the Gospel message” was tougher than expected, the team headed out with three. During their outing, team members met many Catholics who were surprised to see other Catholics “actually out on the street”. They also met Catholics who needed “encouragement in matters of their Faith”, as well as non-Christians who nevertheless were interested in the Rosary. One nice conversation the team had was with a non-Catholic Christian who took some information, as did many other people.

Although the London team found their first session “a learning curve”, they made some valuable contacts. A friend of the evangelists plans to advertise the work in his newsletter. And two other friends have ordered signs and plan to hold an outreach in Bournemouth, with hopes of starting a chapter there. Team leader John Rodger tells us, “I sense the time is right for this to expand.”

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South Windsor, CT Checks-In

SPSE’s team in South Windsor, CT, reports great success. They attend events such as the town’s annual Strawberry Festival and Craft Fair. The team’s pastor and other priests from their parish support their evangelization efforts, and even plan to join them on future outings.

Team members talked with many people at the Strawberry Festival. One was “Stuart”, a 17-year-old who had been raised a non-Catholic Christian but told the team he was interested in becoming Catholic. He was working a couple of booths down from the SPSE team, and stopped by three times during the day. He accepted a Rosary, medal, and literature on the Catholic Church. Later, he brought over two of his brothers, who were both non-believers. To one, the evangelists gave a pamphlet on the existence of God. To the other, they gave literature on the Catholic Faith. They also gave the brothers a door hanger showing Mass times at their local parish, and invited them to the church tour that was a couple weeks away.

The evangelists also met many inactive Catholics. One woman said, “I grew up Catholic, but haven’t been to church in years.” When asked why, she responded, “Life, I guess.” Evangelist Donna acknowledged how distracting life can be, and the woman accepted a Rosary.

The team was also happy to report that a couple had come up to their pastor after Mass and told him they had come back to church because the evangelists were at the Strawberry Festival. The leader of the parish evangelization committee had told the team she thought she would never feel comfortable evangelizing. But she joined the team effort at the Strawberry Festival. Afterward, she said she “was overjoyed” by the experience and wants to go out with the team again.

Thank you, South Windsor team! Stepping out and evangelizing really is a source of great joy. And SPSE’s model makes it easy to get started and enjoyable. Have you become of a member of SPSE? If so, thank you! If not, please pray about doing so today

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Upcoming Training Events

Coming Soon
August 14-15 | Basic Evangelization Training – Sacred Heart Major Seminary
August 15 | Teen Encounter Workshop – Sacred Heart Major Seminary
September 18-19 | Basic Evangelization Training – St. Paul / Minn.
September 11 | Basic Evangelization Training – Michigan State University

Just Announced
September 12 | Basic Evangelization Training – Franciscan University of Steubenville
October 8 | Entertaining Angels Hospitality Training – Archdiocese of Detroit
October 9-10 | Basic Evangelization Training – St. Mary Parish, Port Huron, MI
October 16-17 | Basic Evangelization Training – Wilmington, NC
December 12 | Basic Evangelization Training – Austin, TX

Bring SPSE into your diocese, parish, or university for Basic Evangelization Training, Evangelical Apologetics Training, Catholic Hospitality Training, or conference talks. Email adam@stpaulse.com for more information.


Supporting Membership

Steve Dawson, our founder, shares in this video why this is so important and how we use your funds. SPSE is a 501(c)3 non-profit Catholic ministry, and as such gifts are tax deductible.

If you are not yet a supporting member, become one today and get access to all of the online tools we offer. Consider a one time donation. Our team is humbled every time we receive a donation of any size, because we know the sacrifice our donors made to be able to give.

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Question About The Ressurrection

Gospels in a Year Gospels in a Year

Today’s Reading: Luke 20:27-40

27 There came to him some Sadducees, those who say that there is no resurrection, 28 and they asked him a question, saying, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies, having a wife but no children, the man must take the wife and raise up children for his brother. 29 Now there were seven brothers; the first took a wife, and died without children; 30 and the second 31 and the third took her, and likewise all seven left no children and died. 32 Afterward the woman also died. 33 In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? For the seven had her as wife.”

34 And Jesus said to them, “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage; 35 but those who are accounted worthy to attain to that age and to the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage, 36 for they cannot die any more, because they are equal to angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection. 37 But that the dead are raised, even Moses showed, in the passage about the bush, where he calls the Lord the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. 38 Now he is not God of the dead, but of the living; for all live to him.” 39 And some of the scribes answered, “Teacher, you have spoken well.” 40 For they no longer dared to ask him any question.

Today’s Commentary:

The Sadducees challenge Jesus about his teaching on the afterlife. They are convinced that the Mosaic Law says nothing about a future resurrection (20:27) and so present him with a dilemma: If Moses permits a woman to remarry every time her husband dies (Deut 25:5), will this not bring confusion into the next life? How will she determine who is her legitimate spouse if all of them are raised? Jesus deals with his objectors on their own terms: first, by denying that marriage exists in the next life and, second, by deliberately citing the Mosaic Law against them.

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Catechism of Catholic Church Teaching – How Do We Attain Heaven And Sainthood

Catechism in a Year Catechism in a Year

Can someone earn heaven by good works?

No. No man can gain heaven merely by his own efforts. The fact that we are saved is God’s grace, pure and simple, which nevertheless demands the free cooperation of the individual.

Although it is grace and faith through which we are saved, nevertheless, our good works ought to show the love produced by God’s action in us.


Are we all supposed to become “saints”?

Yes. The purpose of our life is to be united with God in love and to correspond entirely to God’s wishes. We should allow God “to live his life in us” (Mother Teresa). That is what it means to be holy: a “saint”.

Every man asks himself the question: Who am I and why am I here, how do I find myself? Faith answers: Only in holiness does man become that for which God created him. Only in holiness does man find real harmony between himself and his Creator. Holiness, however, is not some sort of self-made perfection; rather, it is union with the incarnate love that is Christ. Anyone who gains new life in this way finds himself and becomes holy. (YOUCAT questions 340-341)


Dig Deeper: CCC section (2006-2016) and other references here.

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BLESSED KONRAD

<http://www.iiculture.org/library_search.asp?keywords=konrad&order=none>

<http://catholicsaints.info/blessed-mykola-konrad>

Nicholas Konrad  Catholic Priest and Holy Martyr “He’s My Grandfather!”

by  George Isajiw, M.D.

As told to: Richard A. Watson, M.D.

Doctor George Isajiw, Past President of our Catholic Medical Association, recently caught  me by surprise with the above statement. These words certainly captured my attention, and  I expect that they well might capture yours as well. More fascinating still was the  explanation that followed. With Dr. Isajiw’s permission, I would like to share with readers  of the Linacre Quarterly the true life story he has to tell concerning his grandfather. Father  Nicholas Konrad, Ukrainian priest and holy martyr.

My Grandfather, the Catholic Priest

Dear Rich and Leonie,  Here is a brief note about my grandfather, Father Nicholas Konrad who was a Catholic  priest. (As you may know, priests in the Ukrainian Catholic Rite are allowed to marry. In  fact, BOTH of my grandfathers were priests—or, more correctly, ARE priests, i.e., “You  are a priest forever” [Hebrews 5:6]). I never had a chance to meet my grandfather, since I was born four years after his death. Father Konrad was a professor in the seminary at Lviv, which is the largest city in Western Ukraine. At the time, that region, called “Galicia,” was under Polish rule, by mandate of the League of Nations after the First World War. My  grandfather was a theologian, with multiple advanced degrees (S.T.D. and Ph.D.) gained in  Rome. He was the author of several books in theology, philosophy, and sociology. He and  my grandmother, Antonina, had four children; my mother being second oldest.

Gathering Storm of Anti­Catholic Persecution in Ukraine

Father Konrad’s first calling was to the academic world within the Church. As a matter of fact, up to 1939 he had never been a pastor, having served as a professor from his earliest  priestly days.

Suddenly, everything changed in September 1939, when the Russian communist armies invaded Western Ukraine, as a result of the partition of Poland, under the RibbentropMolotov Pact, engineered jointly by Stalin and Hitler, (Eastern Ukraine had already been  under Russian rule since 1921.) The German/Russian border had been shifted to about 60  miles west of the city of Lviv. Archbishop Sheptysky, anticipating that persecution of the  Church was soon to begin, had already closed the Seminary in order that the seminarians might avoid being betrayed to the Russian KGB. The archbishop secretly issued  permission for all those parish priests who had families to flee westward to the German  side of the border, in order to avoid the impending difficult times, under Communist  oppression.

Professor Konrad Takes on a Parish

My grandparent’s children were all already full­grown with families of their own. So, Antonina and Nicholas volunteered to stay behind, and Father Konrad became pastor of the village of Stratch, some 20 miles west of Lviv. This parish had recently been vacated  by a younger priest. Fully conscious of the risk that he was taking, my grandfather  remained in Stratch through the summer of 1941, becoming very popular and beloved by  the parishioners (some of whom I have had the privilege to interview personally during my  recent visit to Ukraine).

By June of 1941, many priests in the city of Lviv had been imprisoned by the KGB, under  the charge of collaborating with anti­communist separatists. However, the priests in the  outlying villages had not yet been persecuted. On June 22, 1941, the Germans attacked the  Russians without warning (blitzkrieg). For the ensuing four days, Russian armies were in  full retreat, along the main highway, which passed near the village of Stratch. On June 26, however, there was no further military traffic on the highway. Still, the air was bristling  with tension, as it was anticipated that the Nazi army would be arriving at any time.

Martyr’s Blood

On that morning, Father Konrad, after Mass, received a sick call from one of his parishioners who lived near the main read. His church cantor pleaded with him not to go, in view of the imminent danger. However, Father Konrad responded, “What if this woman  were to die without benefit of the Sacraments?” Insisting on going alone, Father Konrad  urged the cantor to hurry home to be with his wife and three children. (Father Konrad was 67 years old, while the cantor was 35). The cantor importuned upon Father Konrad to  allow him to accompany him. While they completed the sick call without incident, on the  way back they were confronted by two KGB agents on horseback. These communists forced the two churchmen, at gun point, to walk along the road towards the city. The  villagers of Stratch, who had witnessed all this, assumed that their priest was being taken  to a prison in Lviv. Instead, once the priest and cantor were out of sight of the villagers, they were driven into the woods, where both men were shot in cold blood. (Had they  managed to reach Lviv, their fate would have most likely been much the same. On that  very day, Ukrainians held in the Russian prisons of Lviv—especially the priests—were  being murdered, en masse, by machine guns and hand grenades, as their communist  captors fled the city.)

Beyond Corruption

The very next day, the German army arrived. My parents had already moved to the  German side of the border in 1939, as my father (who was a history professor and editor of a Catholic newspaper) had found himself in grave danger in Ukraine as an “anticommunist  intellectual”. One of my uncles, who had remained in Lviv, went to the prisons, trying  unsuccessfully to identify Father Konrad’s body. It was not until three weeks later, in the  heat of mid­summer, that the bodies were found, lying exposed in the forest. The cantor’s body was so badly decomposed that he was only identifiable by his wallet. My  grandfather’s body, however, was perfectly preserved, without even an odor — and the  blood in the bullet wound in his chest appeared fresh and bright red! He was buried in a  wooden casket without embalming. Eleven months later, when my grandmother finally  managed to obtain a metal casket, my father and my uncle (who is a doctor), along with  other villagers, exhumed Father Konrad’s body in order to transfer it to the metal casket. They documented that there were still no signs of decomposition. All the blood had dried  up, but there was no odor. The skin was intact leather­like and hardened, and the martyred  priest’s body was light (i.e., dehydrated), but no evidence of decomposition could be  found.

Communist Oppression

In 1944, the Russian communists returned the Western Ukraine and reinstated their systematic persecution of the Catholic Church. Over five hundred priests, who had refused  to join the newly formed Orthodox Church (controlled by the KGB), were either executed  as “Nazi collaborators” or they were sentenced to hard labor in Siberia, where most  eventually died (although some did manage to return). It was not until 1991 that the  Catholic Church could come out front the underground—“the catacombs”— to be  reestablished in Western Ukraine, where it is now flourishing!

Beatification

In January of 2000, Archbishop Hrynczyshyn (the Ukrainian Rite prelate) submitted to  Rome a list of 18 names for canonization, and included among them was that of my  grandfather, Father Nicholas Konrad, This decision came as no surprise to the residents of the village of Stratch; they had, on their own, for many years recognized Nicholas Konrad  as a Saint. They had already been holding a yearly Mass and a procession to the site where  the priest and his cantor had been martyred, and many of the parishioners are convinced  that cures have been obtained through father Konrad‘s intercession.

Private Devotion

Even though his cause was not announced until this past January, members of the lsajiw  family have been praying for his intercession on behalf of our daughter Colleen for the past  two years — as our personal, private devotion to an acknowledged martyr for the Faith. Colleen is now still alive and well, over two and a half years after her first craniotomy for a  highly anaplastic glioblastoma. (This is the worst histologic type—the accepted prognosis in the medical literature is for an 80% mortality within the first eight months, regardless of treatment, and 100% mortality within two years!) It is now seven months after her third craniotomy, and she js without any evidence of tumor residual or recurrence. Even though  the tumor had recurred twice in the same site (the left frontal lobe), there has never been  any evidence of spread to any other part of the brain nor of distant metastases, even though  metastases are a very common complication of this type of tumor.

Canonization to Come

Now it is permissible to pray publicly for the intercession of Father Nicholas Konrad. I feel  confident that some day soon, members of the lsajiw family will be going to Rome to  celebrate his canonization. And I am feeling more and more confident that Colleen will be  going there with us on that day! It is a hope about which one never dares feel too  confident. Nevertheless, I trust it to be God’s will. For myself, with my wife and my  children at my side, it will truly be a great privilege and source of much grace to be among  Saint Nicholas’ grandchildren, standing there, at his canonization.

The Watsons Attest

Since learning from Doctor Isajiw of his saintly grandfather and his intercession, the  Watson family has placed our concern for the health of our son, Peter Damien Watson, in  the hands of Nicholas Konrad. Peter, who was born with Down Syndrome and  consequently with serious physical as well as mental disabilities, has recently suffered a  mysterious, life­threatening downturn, with mini­seizures, anorexia and a weight loss of over thirty pounds. Multiple tests, including CT Scan, ultrasound, MRI and endoscopy, have all proven fruitless. However, since we have been praying to Servant of God, Nicholas Konrad, Peter’s health has been slowly turning around. We are not out of the  woods yet, by any means, but things are looking up for the first time in several months.

We invite your prayers for our son, Peter Damien, for the Isajiw’s daughter Colleen, and  for all those children of CMA members and Linacre readers, who are currently facing  physical, mental, emotional or spiritual challenges. And we invite you, too, to look forward  with us to the day when Nicholas Konrad, along with his companion martyrs of Ukraine, will be formally recognized by our Church, be it the Will of God, through the process of beatification and eventual canonization, as the Saints they truly are; that all Catholics may  join in the prayerful petition:

“Blessed Nicholas Konrad of Ukraine, pray for us” 

References:

Robert Royal, PhD: The Catholic Martyrs of the Twentieth Century. 20 Crossroad Publishing, 370 Lexington Ave., New York, NY 1007 (available at www.amazon.com)  Kurt I. Lewin: A Journey Through Illusions, 1994 Fithian Press, P.O. Box 1525, Santa Barbara, CA 93102 (available at  http://www.amazon.com. and at www.danteipublishing.com)  Bill Dodds: Your One­Stop Guide to How Saints Are Made. 2000 Servant  Publications, P.O. Box 8617, Ann Arbor, MI 48107 (available at www.catholicity.com/market/servant)  Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr.; ‘Martyrs of the Century”

(available at www.lewrockwell.com/rockwell/martyrs.html)

The Linacre quarterly   /   Reprinted with permission   /    November 2000

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