Catholicism: It’s not for “Wussies”, but it is for the Weak!

“If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.” – 2 Cor. 11:30.

“Therefore, that I might not become too elated, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, an angel of Satan, to beat me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times I begged the Lord about this, that it might leave me, but he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.’ I will rather boast most gladly in my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me. Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” – 2 Cor. 12:7-10.

I am nothing! I am a worm and no man, without Jesus Christ as my Lord, Savior, King, Everything! He is my rock and refuge, my stronghold through trials and tribulations of life.

The world we live in and the signs of our times tell us we can fix ourselves and heal ourselves through psychology, medicine, self help, yoga and a host of other things that take Jesus away from being at the center of our lives instead of putting him directly in the center, which is the better part and what is needed.

The Church is our guide to putting Jesus in the center.

The world tells us, eat, drink and be merry; “it’s all about you, your feelings and doing whatever is needed to make you happy. However, Jesus tells us, take up your cross daily and follow me!

What a juxtaposition!

The world says live carefree, laugh, be strong, buck up, suck it up, but the great Apostle St. Paul says “power is made perfect in weakness”.

The world says, it’s okay for a person not to love their spouse, commit adultery, enter into another relationship with someone who makes you feel good, have sexual intercourse with a person of the same sex, change your sex from man to woman or vice versa, even to the point of mutilation; view pornography, go to strip clubs and seek out prostitutes. All of this is okay if it makes us feel good and we are not harming anybody anyway. Lie and Cheat others; the ends justify the means as long as you get what you want.

Well, let me tell you this, it’s all a big fat lie. When you and I do this, we are not only harming ourselves and our souls but we are harming the body of Christ!

We have the worldly allures, the flesh and the father of lies on one side and we have Christ’s teaching and His Church on the other side.

One side has to be wrong, right? You decide. I have no doubt I have chosen the better part and not part of it, all of it. You and I must follow Church teaching 100% all the way to attain fullness of Joy and the abundant life not just in the next life but in this life as well.

Let me add, I have struggled mightily for most of my life with sexual temptation and sin and I have fallen many times. Jesus also fell many times while he carried his cross on the road to Calvary. He kept getting up and he had Simon of Cyrene help him carry his cross. Only because of Christ, I, too, kept getting up and allowed the Church, His Church, to help in carrying my cross. I returned to the sacrament of Confession frequently and God’s grace became sufficient for me because I accepted and admitted my weakness, I believed in Jesus and His Church and I confessed my sin over and over again within the Sacrament of the Church and before the man, the priest, His priest, In persona Christi, In the person of Christ.

It’s the only way and the true way. I encourage all to please go to the Church and receive the sacraments of confession and holy communion often. It’s the visible face of Christ in the world!

The Church provides order in our lives daily, weekly, monthly and yearly and it keeps repeating year after year through daily mass, Liturgy of the Hours and devotions. The reason the Church has it’s own Calendar, we call it a Liturgical year or calendar is because we need order and it provides it.

Without order, we have chaos. We live in the midst of chaos because so many have left the Church and it’s teaching due to the father of lies, the flesh and worldly allures.

It took me many years to understand it but I persevered and asked questions and listened and read and studied my Catholic Bible and Catechism of the Catholic Church, which is my playbook and weekly game plan to navigate through this life in an orderly manner instead of disorderly manner that I mention above.

I like to call myself a born again Catholic because although I was baptized as an infant and have stayed in the Church and practiced my faith my entire life, never leaving, even in my sins, I have been reborn and chosen Catholicism for myself after much reading, studying, listening, practicing and learning. I am in a sense a convert to Catholicism, even though I am not, because it’s the faith practice I chose on my own and willingly by the grace of God.

Everything in the Old Testament, starting with Genesis, prefigures the coming of Christ, and what I love about Catholicism is that it was born out of Judaism and kept it’s traditions and history from Scripture to priests to vestments to sacrifice, prayer and fasting and to the way we celebrate Mass; it’s all rooted in Judaism!

Jesus did not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it!

Because of Pentecost and the power of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles after Jesus’ passion, death, resurrection and ascension into heaven they finally understood how to proceed in setting up the Church, even though they had to figure it out and struggle.

They were all Jews! As was Jesus and his parents, Mary and Joseph.

I encourage all to read chapters 9 and 10 in Acts of the Apostles prayefully, where Cornelius, a Roman soldier and Gentile became the first non Jew to be welcomed into the Church. It’s marvelous. God revealed how the Church must proceed in a vision to Peter and Cornelius.

I also encourage you to read the writings of our early Church father’s, the saints and the Popes down through the ages starting in the second century with St. Ignatius of Antioch, St. Polycarp, St. Iraneus, St. Augustine, St. Jerome, St. Ambrose, St. Albert the Great, St. Gregory the Great, St, Thomas Aquinas and St. Catherine of Siena to name a few. Their writings are so beautiful and timeless and give us a lens into how the early Church as well as the Church down through the ages operated and you will find it’s so Eucharistic! It is Catholic, no doubt, starting with the Apostles and it’s so beautiful! Amazingly beautiful and rich!

The Church is here to help us and lift us and carry us when we drop the ball and when we are weak! The history and tradition of the Church is a pearl of great price and so important to be followed and carried on and loved and cherished.

It takes discipline, sacrifice, commitment and giving things up for sure, but like most things in life it takes hard work to accomplish.

As St Paul tells us just as an athlete must train his body and subject himself or herself to the point of torture to achieve greatness so must we in our quest for the Divine nature. We must run the good race and fight the good fight to win the eternal crown of victory and we must persevere to the end regardless of feelings or even through difficult and adverse circumstances as well as the good!

We must be thankful for all of it! As Romans 8:28 tells us, God uses all our circumstances, even the most adverse or hurtful or evil for His good. He makes all things new and all things good if we trust Him and cooperate with His grace and submit our will to His and His Church, instead of expecting Him and His Church to submit their will to ours.

That is why I Walk By Faith to Live Joyfully!!!

Advertisements

Feelings: The Signs of our Times

We live in a world where so many are guided by their feelings. Following our feelings can lead us down the wrong road.

When so many are in mental or emotional crisis they turn to pscyhology and medicine alone without also turning to the Church.

I encourage parents, grandparents and friends to lead their loved ones to the Church when in the midst of a crisis.

Why do we trust a psychologist who we don’t even know but we don’t trust a priest, who we may or may not know?

I am not saying to not go to a psychologist or take medication if needed, but I am saying to also include the Church in your healing.

Too many are guided by their feelings and getting advice from others who are just trying to make the “hurt” party feel better. So many who are giving advice have no spiritual guidance themselves.

I hear often, leave them alone and mind your own business but yet these same people have no training in any field and are doling out advice based strictly on feelings.

We need the Church and the Sacraments for healing and it’s not a one time thing. It’s an everyday thing!

I have had people I know ask me to be their spiritual director. I respond, I will be glad to help you in spiritual matters but I always tell them to go to a priest as well as I am not trained in spiritual direction nor am I a theologian or doctor.

So many need help, and what they really need is the Church and the Sacraments, which has been my rock and refuge in times of crisis as well as in good times and in every circumstance.

The greatest thing I have ever done, I believe, (next to partaking in giving life to my children) was to help my dying friend, who I knew since childhood,  receive the sacraments before he died. He had cancer, and his life in this world was slipping away. He was honest with himself and realized the inevitable even though many were praying for a miraculous recovery.

I was meeting with him often and sent him a simple text about Anointing of the Sick and Confession and how those two Sacraments helped me when I received them in a hospital stay.

The next day he returned my text asking me to bring him a priest. I did and he went to confession and received Anointing of the Sick and Holy Communion on 3 different occasions before he died. It was the most beautiful thing for me to witness, something I will never forget.

As a former football player, I like to say My Bible is my playbook and The Cathechism of The Catholic Church is my weekly game plan. I need both to succeed in the game of life. I also like to say The Sacraments of Reconciliation or Confession and Holy Communion are oxygen and water to my soul. I could not survive without them. I really believe that, live it and practice it.

None of these things has to do with feelings, but they are life giving.

Truth is a person, not an idea or feeling. That person is Jesus the Christ! and the Truth will set you free. It certainly has for me.

I pray our country and world will seek Truth and not be guided by feelings only. Our feelings can motivate us to greatness but it takes so much more than feelings to over come mediocrity, spiritual mediocrity in this case.

Our Rock and Refuge is in the Church, go to it. When we rely on feelings, medicine, science, psychology alone without the Church we are not whole and we are not fully healed.

This will bring us to our final destination, our home, where God wants us to be and we will WALK BY FAITH TO LIVE JOYFULLY on the way.

“I Love You”

I returned today from a very special retreat called Samson healing retreat. I have been on several retreats over the course of my life and the Samson retreat is my favorite. It is run by The Kingsmen Apostolate and I am extremely blessed to be on the leadership team for it’s Samson retreats.

My very dear friend Father Jim Hutchins, who has provided me spiritual direction for many years, and who is a spiritual father to me was our retreat Chaplain. Fr. Jim is a special man of God and His priest. He was very moved by the honesty, openness and faith of the men on this retreat and he wrote this letter to all of us who attended it after our group Adoration, which is held on Saturday afternoon of this 3 night retreat.

I love you

The thoughts I had as we embraced at adoration last night.

My father died on June 17, 1982, a couple days before Father’s Day. For a couple years I had seen his health deteriorate. He was overweight (Thanks, Dad) and already had a heart attack at 48. Then at age 67 ┬áhe had to have a quadruple bypass. The operation was a success but, as they say, the patient died. A blood clot got him.

But not before what I consider my most treasured memory of my father.

I was at home overnight. Mom was still alive. She was already in bed. Dad always liked to watch the late movies. He also liked to fall asleep before they were over. I liked to watch them with him. I watched. He slept.

This night at the end of the movie, we were pulling the shades and turning out the lights. We both ended up in the kitchen—our favorite room-to turn the lights out. This moment had been building up for several years as it became more and more evident that I might not have him much longer.

We looked at each other and I reached out and hugged him and he hugged me. And I told him “I love you”. He told me he loved me. And we just stood there hugging.

That moment was different from the other times we hugged and said , “I love you”. This was not only the iconic moment when I felt the full flood of the love that he had been giving me for 41 years but it was also and still is the iconic moment when I felt the full flood of God the Father’s love for me.

That’s what was in the hug and those words. I pray that your “I love you” to others will be a similar moment which our heavenly Father uses to communicate his love for others through you.

Our embrace repeated over and over 15-16 times (?) at adoration was like a gushing waterfall under which I stood while I was flooded once again with my father’s love/my Father’s love. It just kept coming.

Thank you for helping me relive that precious moment. My tears were tears of joy.

Father Jim

I wanted to share this letter that Fr. Jim wrote to our Samson group on my blog and Apostolate Walk By Faith To Live as it captures so well my sentiments about my own father/Father.

I lost my father to death on June 21, 2008 and he also suffered from heart disease for about 30 years.

My father also provided guidance, love and affection that emanated from the Father’s love.

He provided so much to me and for me and he was the most important influence in shaping the man I became.

His Catholic faith and love for The Eucharist and Confession he passed on to me by example and words.

If God allowed me to pick my own father I could not have picked a better man.

We also loved to watch TV together, especially football and old movies and we loved to walk together, and we did often as well as hang out in his pool where he lived in Florida for the last fifteen years of his life.

We also loved to attend Church together.

Finally, we too loved to sit in the kitchen or dining room together and eat! My father could make me laugh until I cried without even trying to be funny. I think I miss that the most.

He was a great example of what our heavenly Father’s love must be for us and he certainly provided me the full floodgates of love our heavenly Father will and does shower upon me as his beloved child.

Thanks dad and thank you DAD for your great love for me!

Thank you Fr. Jim for reminding me about my father’s love/my Father’s love for me; and thank you for being a spiritual father to me now and continuing to show me the love of the Father.

I pray I am the example of the Father’s love to my children and other’s that you request me to be as my father was to me and as you are to so many.

God bless!!!

Your brother in Christ Jesus,

Charles DeFeo

 

All Saints/All Souls Days

In our Church liturgical calendar year we commemorate November 1 as all saints day and November 2 as all souls day.

Both groups include the faithful departed. The saints enjoy total and complete union with God in the life hereafter. The faithful departed holy souls are also saved but undergo a purgation before they can appear unblemished before the almighty God.

Both days are extra special to me because my youngest child and daughter Rosalie was expected on November 2 but arrived a day early on November 1! How awesome for her to have her birthday on the feast of All Saints. I pray she becomes one!

I have also lost many family members including my father and brother to death and pray for them daily.

The Cathechism of the Catholic Church reminds us that “death puts and end to human life as the time open to either accepting or rejecting the divine grace manifested in Christ”(1021; see 2 Tim 1:9-10) The Holy Souls are those “who die in God’s grace and friendship” but who are “still imperfectly purified…; after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven” (CCC 1030). Part of the joy of belonging to the Church is the privilege of helping the Holy Souls to enter heaven. The Church “commends almsgiving, indulgences, and works of penance undertaken on behalf of the dead”(CCC 1032).

Saint Catherine of Genoa states in her treatise on purgatory that “if a soul were brought to see God when it had still a trifle of which to purge itself, a great injury would be done it.” Conversely, “a great happiness is granted to the Holy Souls that grows as they draw nearer God. For every glimpse which can be had of God exceeds any pain or joy a man can feel. The Holy Souls clearly see God to be on fire with extreme love for them. Strongly and unceasingly this love draws the soul with that uniting look, as though it had nothing else to do than this.” We offer our penances with the hope of giving the Holy Souls such a glimpse of God. Saint Augustine assures us: “It cannot be doubted that the prayers of the Church relieve the Holy Souls, and move God to treat them with more clemency than their sins deserve.”

May we all answer the Universal Call to Holiness and strive to become the saints God has uniquely called each and every one of us to be.

Part of this article was taken from the November Magnificat P. 36, Praying for the Holy Souls in Purgatory by Father Peter John Cameron, O.P.