The Controversial Catholic Prayer that You Should be Praying Daily

Today was the last day for my apostolate, Christendom’s Rome study abroad program. The students were amongst the most brilliant, most intellectually-curious, and most devoutly Catholics I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet. This morning, Cardinal Burke celebrated a closing Mass for us (in the usus antiquior) in St. Peter’s. After Mass, he gave us each each holy cards like this:

It’s one variation (apparently courtesy of the Marian Catechist Apostolate) of a common prayer that many of us already pray daily, and Cardinal Burke encouraged us to pray it daily. What struck me in reading it was how distinctively Catholic it is, and how effortlessly controversial it is. So here’s the prayer, line-by-line, with an explanation of what makes it controversial amongst some Christians:

O Jesus, Not only Jehovah’s Witnesses, but even some Protestants reject the idea that we should pray to Jesus.
“through the Immaculate Heart of Mary,” Obviously, Mary is a controversial figure in Catholic-Protestant dialogue, and the idea of coming to Jesus through Mary is particularly troubling for some Protestants.
“I offer You my prayers, works, joys, and suffering of this day in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world.” Most Protestants reject the Mass, and particularly the idea that the Mass is a sacrifice through which we join our offerings to Jesus’ perfect Sacrifice.
“I offer them for all the intentions of Your Sacred Heart: the salvation of souls, reparation for sins, the reunion of all Christians.” While Protestants overwhelmingly pray to Jesus (despite the outliers mentioned above), prayer to His Sacred Heart is almost exclusively a (beautiful) Catholic tradition.*
“I offer them for the intentions of Your Bishops and of all Apostles of Prayer and in particular for those recommended by our Holy Father this month. Amen.” If references to Mary, the Mass, and the Sacred Heart weren’t enough, the prayer closes on asking for prayers for the Holy Father’s intentions. Of course, the papacy (and sometimes, the episcopacy) are controversial amongst non-Catholics.

In pointing out all of these differences and areas of separation, I’m not making an argument here for the Catholic side (although I’ve done that for each of these issues elsewhere on this blog). Rather, I’m just pointing out that the wounds of the Reformation are still festering, and in a way that keeps us from being able to pray together as deeply and unitedly as we should. This is for two reasons.

One, because we need to be reminded. When a well-meaning Evangelical said that Catholics and Protestants were basically in agreement, someone (perhaps Mark Shea or Peter Kreeft? I can no longer remember) responded to the effect of, “Great, let’s pray the Rosary together in front of the Blessed Sacrament before Mass!” The point of the response was, yes we have huge areas of unity and that’s great (truly!), but if we can’t pray together without the Catholic leaving his spiritual traditions at the door, we’re not yet where we need to be. We shouldn’t overlook the great progress in Catholic-Protestant relations in the last century, but we also can’t whitewash the areas still needing work.

Second, because this Christian disunity is a scandal (cf. John 17:20-23) and a crisis that demands serious attention. More specifically, it needs a spiritual response,  not just a theological one. For us Catholics, it strikes me as exactly why (well, one reason why) we should be making a morning offering of the sort that Cardinal Burke prescribes. Through Mary, united with the graces of the Sacrifice of the Mass, offer up your sufferings for your Protestant and Orthodox brothers and sisters for the cause of Christian unity.

*In doing so, in striving to live more fully in unity in the one Church, we’ll bring great comfort to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. When I say that devotion to the Sacred Heart is a beautiful Catholic tradition, I have in mind this insight from Pope Pius XI:

Now if, because of our sins also which were as yet in the future, but were foreseen, the soul of Christ became sorrowful unto death, it cannot be doubted that then, too, already He derived somewhat of solace from our reparation, which was likewise foreseen, when “there appeared to Him an angel from heaven” (Luke xxii, 43), in order that His Heart, oppressed with weariness and anguish, might find consolation. And so even now, in a wondrous yet true manner, we can and ought to console that Most Sacred Heart which is continually wounded by the sins of thankless men, since—as we also read in the sacred liturgy—Christ Himself, by the mouth of the Psalmist complains that He is forsaken by His friends: “My Heart hath expected reproach and misery, and I looked for one that would grieve together with me, but there was none: and for one that would comfort me, and I found none” (Psalm Ixviii, 21).

202 Comments

  1. I have to admit, that learned a lot from the ongoing dialog with Phil over the last few days. I came to the realization that men in using their free will, either for or against God, can feel quite comfortable in their ultimate decision. I used to think that those who oppose God really have some hidden remorse in this world, an agitation that interiorly, if not secretly, bothered them somewhat while they lived in this world. But, the more I think about it, the more I think that those who oppose God, revealed by Jesus Christ and His sacred Gospel, can often be very joyful and happy about their decision to oppose the Gospel of Christ. In this world they can rejoice and celebrate that they don’t need to honor or respect God, rejoicing in their supreme freedom of will. And actually, they can live quite comfortably opposing Christ, and all of His teachings: laughing, joking and rejoicing in all their glory. And this is probably how some of the Jewish priests felt when condemning the Lord to be tortured during his sacred Passion; and maybe also when Judas kissed the Lord in a friendly manner during His betrayal. These opponents rejoiced in their free will, such that they loved their ability to be able to ascend to the level of the visible God and oppose Him to His sacred and loving face… so happy they were to be able make their own decisions and no be mere robots. And, indeed, they were provided this decision, and sacred ability, by the Creator of the Universe from the beginning of time.

    Yet, still, on a personal leveI, I always thought that evil people really repented in their hearts in their rebellion, and only publicly opposed Christ to uplift their own person or fame in the midst of others; but when they went home, they secretly felt bad about what they were doing.

    But now, I’m becoming more of a realist. Those who reject the words of Jesus, or distort them until they are meaningless….for what ever cause….can actually be completely joyful in their decisions. They can jump up and down like new born fawns, rejoicing in themselves, in the warmth of their own freedom to do whatever they want including rejecting the revealed words and wisdom of God given to us through our Lord Jesus Christ, in this world.

    So, at least, this is one gift that Phil has provided over the last few days: That a person can be completely satisfied with saying “even though I’m a hedonistic Woodstock orgy heretic”, can at the same time be supremely happy with his state of soul. And he can also term himself a Christian, by which it is presumed that he might have at least some respect for Christ as God, Master, Rabbi and Teacher; but then feel most joyful to present Him as a complete dufus in his own cartoon portraiture of Him, the “Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world”. As said again, I always thought that there was some sense of secret shame in all men, regarding their debauched conduct. Not to say that I haven’t been debouched in my life. But at least (like St. Augustine) I wasn’t happy about it…and actually quite miserable.

    So, this is a new lesson for me, thanks to Phil. Maybe many of you knew it all along. But, I will consider more in the future this aspect of the joyful glee that some opponents of Christ’s teachings exhibit in their lives, even while proclaiming themselves the epitome of Christian example and teaching.

    This is to say, that this long thread has not been a complete waste of time for me.

    Best to all, including Phil.

    1. Hi Al,

      Aquinas has a section of Summa, “Against the Pagans.” Here he talks about “natural reason” as a “fundament.” Natural reason (which we all have) allows us to debate issues on whose fundaments we disagree. It is not the ability to vanquish another in debate so that the other recognizes and accepts truth when he hears it. Rather, natural reason is the strength to “listen to” all that one hears, including gleeful contradiction, hateful insults, and reprehensive blasphemy. That strength is a grace from God; I think you have earned it and been given more.

      Natural reason also is operative when one hears the truth but one’s inner being chooses to oppose it. That of course leads one to gleeful contradiction, hateful insults, and blasphemy. This to me points out the infinite and nearly incomprehensible charity of our creator. He offers his grace to us all.

      God bless.

  2. Well Al, I would question how much you’ve really learned. It seems to me all that’s new from you is a fresh angle on how to talk about Phil, which in Joe’s wisdom, has never been the topic of this page. Thank you for finding me absolutely fascinating, but let’s return to a more important subject.

    The topic of this page, as determined by Joe, has from the start been enhancing Christian unity. We know Joe is interested in this because he chose to write about it, and more importantly, he offered a constructive suggestion that might take us in that direction. I’ve offered a constructive suggestion as well, evidence of my interest.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but after all this discussion I recall no one else offering any kind of constructive suggestion for enhancing Christian unity. Is that correct? Am I missing something? Is it true that members here have no interest in Christian unity, but only in victory for their own opinions?

    If you have little to no interest in coming closer to your fellow Christians, you will likely be totally unprepared for dialog with non-Christians (a greater distance to travel) and thus, you will never be in a credible position to share The Truth which you sincerely believe you possess.

    Look at the Catholic web, this blog as example. It’s almost exclusively about Catholics talking to other Catholics, ie. people who already agree with you. I challenge members to find a single Catholic owned site which is sincerely and seriously designed specifically for _REAL_ dialog with non-Catholics and non-Christians. Please tell me, how do you plan to “share the good news” by spending all your time talking to people who already completely agree with you??”

    Should you ever be truly interested in sharing the good news you feel you own, the first step would be to learn how to build bridges with your fellow Christians. I repeat my assertion that to the degree you focus such conversations on ideology, you will find building such bridges difficult to impossible.

    If you reject the attempt to build bridges with your fellow Christians, if you reject the job of spreading the good news, ok, fair enough, then just say so. Send Joe an email and tell him to stop writing articles on this topic. Instead of wasting days arguing with me, just be honest from the start and say, “Phil, we have no interest in Christian unity, so you can stop trying to solve that problem for us.”

    1. The job of the Christian is to teach the Gospel, not to ask opinions about it:

      “And into whatsoever city or town you shall enter, inquire who in it is worthy, and there abide till you go thence. And when you come into the house, salute it, saying: Peace be to this house. And if that house be worthy, your peace shall come upon it; but if it be not worthy, your peace shall return to you. And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words: going forth out of that house or city shake off the dust from your feet. Amen I say to you, it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city.” (Matt. 10:11)

  3. Which interpretation of the gospel Al?

    Are you aware that whatever position you might take on the issues being discussed across the Catholic web, millions of serious and sincere Catholics will disagree with you? Are you aware of this? Are you so informed? Do you have any clue about this at all?

    Search for “Pew Research Catholic opinion” on Google. Pew is a highly respected fully independent research firm with no stake in anybody’s game. They’ve done serious polling on Catholic opinion (and many other things) on a variety of issues. Do the homework, and educate yourself on what’s happening in the real world beyond your imagination. You need not venture beyond Catholic culture to discover that there is no such thing as one fixed gospel.

    You continually confuse “Al’s interpretation of Christianity” with “Christianity”. You sound more and more like a Jehovah’s Witness every time you do.

    1. Phil –

      Are you aware there is only one Catholic Church and only one interpretation from that Church to be followed? Not all of scripture has been infallibly interpreted, however, it’s not all meant to be infallibly interpreted.

      You have a warped understanding of history and Catholicism and you have massive errors in every post you make. Why? You don’t know what you’re talking about and presumably have no training in philosophy, etymology, ecclesiology, epistemology or hermeneutics. If you want a serious interpretation of scripture you start with Greek or Latin texts, not English.

      1. I’m sorry, but it is simply not true there is only one Catholic Church in the ideological sense. If that were true, there would be no endless disunity and conflict on the Catholic web. Again, this is not my opinion, and I refer you to Pew Research for an independent look at the details. You’re confusing reality with your own adamantly held conclusions, which are PART of that reality.

        If I understand you correctly, you appear to be an adamant follower of the Vatican’s interpretation of the Gospel. Is that correct? Ok, that’s your right of course. But your firm conviction, your adamant stance, your refusal to entertain any other possibility other than your own full possession of “The Truth”….

        Does not make you right.

        Your conviction of your own superiority makes you passionate, very interested, opinionated, sincere, very much in the Catholic community conversation…

        But it does not make you right.

        You seem to think that if you just repeat often enough that you and your group OWN Catholicism that this will somehow make it true. If that were so, my views would win, because I’ve typed more words in the thread than anybody else. Does such a thing make even the slightest bit of sense? No, it doesn’t.

        You do open an interesting subject though. Has it occurred to you that perhaps the entire Bible was deliberately authored so as to be open to a multitude of interpretations, so as to keep discussion of the Bible going forever? After all, if everything could be totally nailed down in an indisputable manner, what would we talk about?

        I’m not asserting this theory to be the case. I’m asserting none of us are in a position to know whether it is the case or not, given that we ourselves are not God.

        Do you see how you are attending to me, instead of Joe’s article? That’s because I’m generating a lot of drama by challenging everything, and that’s why we’re on page 2 of this comment section, instead of the conversation dying early on page 1.

        So, a hyper-intelligent God might be more clever than to nail everything down. He might keep a lot of balls up in the air so that we would be eternally discussing where they might fall.

        1. You have no idea what you’re talking about or what it means to be Catholic.

          By definition only Rome has the authority to infallibly interpret scripture on behalf of its members, not individuals.

  4. This might help.

    What is the Catholic Church?

    Some people feel the Catholic Church is the clergy.

    Other people feel the Catholic Church is all Catholics, clergy and laity.

    Some people feel the clergy gets the final word on everything of substance.

    Other people feel the clergy are just some nice old fellows in dresses who APPOINTED THEMSELVES to leadership positions. Serious Catholics, influential Catholics for sure, but otherwise, just Catholics, no higher or lower than anybody else.

    There is no way to resolve such differences of definition, which is why such matters have been endlessly discussed without resolution for 2,000 years. Nobody is going to end that conversation by pounding their fist on the table, stamping their little feet, and insisting loudly that they alone have the correct answer. That’s been tried already a thousand million times, and the debate still goes on endlessly without interruption.

    1. The Catholic Church is easily defined by Apostolic succession, belief in the real presence of the Mass and that it has authority over its members. Why does it have authority? Because Christ created this Church and it is controlled by the Holy Spirit. There is a metaphysical aspect to the Church as well as an earthly component.

      You just make up straw men or half truths about what it is or proclaims to be which leads me to believe you have no desire for an adult conversation about these topics.

      1. Which Catholic Church??? Look around you in Mass. You will likely not find a single person who thinks exactly as you on every issue.

        Or, if you prefer, look at the clergy. If they are the highest authority because they speak and act on God’s behalf, then God is responsible for a widespread pattern of trying to cover up child rape, thus endangering more children.

        You can’t have it both ways Clayton. If the clergy is God’s representative on Earth, then God inherits all the crimes of the clergy.

        But anyway, I’m talking logic to you, a process you appear to know nothing about. So go ahead, stick your fingers in your ears, ignore reality, and chant your memorized dogmas. It’s your right to do so, we agree on that.

        1. Being part of the Church doesn’t mean that specific part IS the (entire) Church. Plus, the Church would be nonsensical if it’s natural outworking was sin as done by those within the Church. You’re trying to remove all mystery about something that is metaphysical.

          If you reject the real presence of the Mass you aren’t Catholic and can’t be Catholic. If you reject the Church you aren’t Catholic and can’t be Catholic. It’s that simple and that minimum.

    1. It’s OK Phil. We hope you are happy with yourself.

      But the community of true believers in Jesus Christ also find joy in relating with each other. It’s called the ‘Communion of the Saints’. So, don’t think that we are wasting time in communicating on this blog. You are not the object of attention, like you might think you are, and lessons can be provided by your bizarre spirituality and behavior. So, even good things can come from sinful example… when people are repulsed by the sins or vanities of others… and therefore fly towards virtue and good living.

      And regarding the ‘Community of the Saints’, this is what Heaven is all about. And we can taste it by communicating and sharing faith with others of the faithful here below in Christ’s Church. So, don’t think that Christian socialization is a minor thing, as this is what Heaven for all eternity will be about, and no one will ever tire of it.

      On the other side of the coin, there is also a sort of communion of demons, devils and sinners. And this communion is not joyful but eternally annoying and painful… to be united to so many multitudes of rebels against God and truth. And even in this world there is a foretaste of it, when one is in the close proximity of toxic human spirits, who are addicted to one deadly sin or the other, and are happy with their addiction. Just multiply this toxic annoying environment a billion times and then multiply it by an eternal time frame, and you get an idea of how miserable it is to be with people, or creatures, who are rebels against the Eternal and ALL GOOD Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

      So, we have the joy of the saints who can begin their joy here below, on Earth. And we can see them in formation even on this blog site(Not to say they are ‘perfect’ in any way). But you can see their good will and the desire to know Christ the Lord better, which leads to perfection in God’s due time.

      To sum up, I like to read Clayton’s comments, and Margo’s and Amateur Brain Surgeons, not to forget the many others. And if we ever are blessed to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, we will probably continue the conversations, in one way or the other, forever.

      So, beautiful Catholic conversation is recreational, as is also Catholic evangelization. It refreshes the soul, and does not exhaust it. Rather, it is sin that exhausts….as Jesus said: “Come to me all you who labor and are burdened and I will give you rest”.

      Thanks to all who shared their thoughts on this blog topic. May God bless you for the light and spiritual refreshment that you gave.

      – Al

  5. Ha, Al says, “… you are not the object of attention, like you might think you are” while at the same time reading and replying to every single one of my posts. I didn’t read the rest, this is getting just too silly.

    And Al….

    WHERE IS THE EVIDENCE TO BACK UP YOUR REPEATEDLY STATED CLAIMS??? Where are the links to the sites you claim are utterly normal, routine, everywhere, old hat, nothing new?

  6. Stop playing the fantasy holy man role Al, we know enough about you by now to see through that. Honestly, the BS you’re slinging is really getting to be too much.

    That said, I have a new constructive project proposal, which I’m pretty sure you will see to be in your interest.

    Let’s find Phil a Catholic site that….

    1) isn’t based on fear, Fear, FEAR! and…

    2) …welcomes real dialog with the outside world.

    Been looking for years, and haven’t found it yet, but that doesn’t prove it doesn’t exist. As you can see by my participation here, I’m not very discriminating about where I participate, and have thus wasted a lot of time in the wrong places. Nobody’s fault but my own.

    I once had hopes for this site: catholicmoraltheology.com

    All the contributors are professional academic Catholic theologians with Phds etc, so the intelligence and training is there, and the ability to write. Regrettably, although they have the comment feature of the blog turned on, they almost never use it, even to talk to each other. Thus, the opportunities for dialog are pretty much zero. Their site appears to be permanently trapped in the “we talk, you listen” model, which we can at least say is an authentic Catholic experience.

    So a constructive resolution to all this pointless disunity above which is descending in to ever dumber commentary is to find Phil higher ground. I’m really not here just to torment you, I’m really not, I’m just having a great deal of difficulty finding the part of the Catholic web that is confident, intelligent and articulate. Should such a thing exist, show me where, and you’ll be rid of me.

    Out of respect for your time, let’s skip the lectures and personal advice blah, blah, blah. I’ve heard it all already from you and am not impressed. Let’s just get me out of here and then you can go back to whatever it is you want to do in peace.

  7. Sorry to jump in much after the fact, but I have been somewhat keeping up with the exchange here. I get where both “sides” are coming from, but largely don’t buy into the basic premise, i.e., what constitutes unity. There has never been, and there will likely never be, theological homogeneity among believers. But instead of just saying that “all Christian ideology is heresy” and forcing us all to go get frontal labotomies in an attempt to remain orthodox, how about we just redefine unity. I largely agree with you that a common experience will be much more effective in delivering such a thing. I believe our Lord gave us just such an experience and that the early church understood it much better than we do today.

    There is an alternative binding agent. We could have faith in the act of love. Not theories about the act of love. The act itself.

    Here’s an example. Talk about food can be interesting, but no amount of talk provides the nutrition our body needs. Only the act of eating sustains us.

    This comment, made by Phil, slapped me up side the head. Regardless of our understanding of the mystery of the presence of Christ in the Lord’s Supper/Communion/Eucharist, what could happen if we would all strive to A) respect our brother’s current understanding of the mystery, B) approach the altar/table with a desire for union with Him and each other, and C) look for His presence in the other? I believe God would honor our effort and put our differing understandings in perspective.

    Let us look to the past in order to be more fully united in the future.

    O sacrament of devotion! O sign of unity! O bond of charity!” -St. Augustine (In Joannis Evangelium, 26, 13)

    Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread” -1 Cor 10:17

    Just as this broken bread was first scattered on the mountains and, after being harvested, became one reality, so may your Church be gathered from the ends of the earth into your kingdom” -Didache 9,1

    The sacrifices of the Lord themselves highlight the unanimity of Christians strengthened by solid, indivisible charity. For when the Lord calls the bread formed of the union of many grains his body, and when he calls the wine pressed from many clusters of grapes and poured together his blood, in the same way he indicates our flock formed of a multitude united together -St. Cyprian of Carthage (Ep. ad Magnum, 6)

    1. The Creed expresses one’s belief in what the Catholic Church teaches.

      I believe in one…

      That oneness is unity and you do not get to redefine it and if you do not believe it, stop say8ng it.

      The Epistles of Saint Paul describes that unity as do the Early Church Father and, no, it is not an unimportant matter of whether or not one is Catholic. Now, you may think so but that is not Catholic Tradition.

      Pope Pius XI “To be Christian one must be Roman. One must recognize the oneness of Christ’s Church that is governed by one successor of the Prince of the Apostles who is the Bishop of Rome, Christ’s Vicar on earth”

      Pope Leo XIII Thus the man, so long as he lives on the body of the Catholic Church, he is a Christian; separated from her, he becomes a heretic”

      Modern man’s arrogance is such that he thinks himself more intelligent than all who came before him and his new Gospel is superior to what came before him…

    2. Shane,

      Yes, “…the act of eating sustains us” alludes to Eucharist. In the RCChurch, the eating of Eucharist is only accidentally material but substantially spiritual. I submit that the RC SHOULD approach the altar with a desire for union with Him since this is our prime raison d’etre. Communion with each only is as a result of the former; the head reveals to us our one body, by virtue of our each having communed with Him.

      Given the RCC communicant with a firm belief in the Living Presence, one receives Him who is present to us and so He cannot help but be one’s first line of thought. Is there any more appropriate time in which to make His prayer (John 17:21) our own: “… 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.”

      The truth is that we are more than one flock and many are not members of the one body. So we now commingle our heartache with our Lord’s.

      1. Margo,

        Amen on all fronts. Let us use the pain of that heartache to love our separated brethren and, without budging an inch on truth, remember that the vast majority of them have never given the first thought as to why they are Protestant or what that even means.

        Think about it. For about 475 years, every new denomination someone started was done because they thought they were “right.” Now, rarely anyone starts a new church for doctrinal reasons. It’s Joy Church, The River, The So and So Fellowship, all begun mostly with a desire to “evangelize” people with what I think is a tamed Jesus. These people don’t have an ax to grind against any group, they just love Jesus and want to share him with others. I contend that if God ever decides to flip the switch and show them Jesus in the Eucharist, it will be like moths to flame. I remember telling the director of our RCIA program that he had the power to make me wait until Easter to receive, and I would out of respect for the authority of the Church, but that he was going to get tired of me asking for full communion. And on November 29, 2015, I knew Jesus in a way I never had before. I want that for my separated brothers and sisters, but also realize that God’s ways are not mine and I can’t even begin to imagine just how beautiful the ending of His love story for us is going to be.

        1. Yes, Shane, we love our separated brethren. We cannot, at the same time, love words and deeds against reason and faith, against persons and God. We are engaged in a great spiritual war, a war won with weapons of prayer, charity, counsel, wisdom, knowledge, teaching, patience, and other gifts and virtues of the Holy Spirit.

          God bless.

    1. Hi ABS,

      I really enjoyed the comments on this site. Thank you!
      One poster, Bryan Cross, had this to say about the unity of the RCC:

      “when the God-man puts His divine Life into His Mystical Body, nothing can defeat it, or hold it down. Nothing can divide it. This is why the gates of Hades cannot prevail against it. Hell can prevail against any denomination formed by mere men, but not against that Church founded by the God-man, and He only founded one Church.”

    1. Yes ABS, and even as you consistently provide great Catholic Links to others for their benefit, every Catholic also should try to give out similar materials at their parishes to catechise better their fellow brothers and sisters. The greatest problem in the Church today is that too few Catholics give time to study 1. The Lives of the Saints 2. Sacred Scripture 3.The History of the Church and 4. Liturgy and Church Doctrine.

      I put the ‘lives of the saints’ as a first step because they are the living embodiments and goal of what a Christian could actually be like if he determines to imitate them in, even in a little way… their charity, their humility, their life of prayer, their love of neighbor, their zeal for spreading the Gospel, etc…. So, the acts of the saints, and the motivation behind those actions, can give a person courage that they also can do some of the same as these great friends of God. Just as St. Paul says,”Be imitators of me as I am of Christ”, we also have about 20,000 other such excellent models in the history of Christianity, and they can inspire all peoples and nations, whatever the religion they believe.

      So, sending links, biographies and hard copy editions to friends, families, parishioners and neighbors is a great way to help ‘feed’ the ‘lambs and sheep’ of the Lord. Right now, I’m giving out the ‘Little Flowers of St. Francis’ (… as quality sheep food) to hundreds of people at my parish and at farmers markets/supermarkets in short readings. And the occasional response back from them is very positive.

      Also, I gave out 1/2 of the autobiography of St. Patrick to about 700 people last St. Pat’s Day both at my parish and nearby public locations including 1 college campus. And the results with that were also pretty good. Next year I will try to be prepared for double or triple that number.

      So, getting out good Catholic information, and especially the ‘lives of the saints’ is really necessary these days. People need a little authentic inspiration in their lives, and there is probably nothing as inspiring as these great Champions of Christ. They also lead people to learn more about the saints of the Old Testament, and a deep study of Sacred Scripture.

      Here is the text for ‘The Little Flowers of St. Francis” for those interested:

      https://www.ewtn.com/library/mary/flowers.htm

      1. Since Satan is the father of lies wouldn’t he try to deceive mankind by believing a lie as truth? How best to do that? Relativism!! He knows outright lies will be rejected. If trust is relative then you can convince yourself that you’re living a life of truth when it’s really a lie.

        Just look at our political landscape. Lies are accepted as truth.

        1. Of course, Clayton. Just a study focused on the ‘temptations of Christ in the desert’ can give an idea of the degree of Satan’s power and ability to deceive. And he uses OT scripture against Jesus in this account, trying to impress Jesus with his exegesis. What’s interesting though, is that even though Jesus resists the temptation to transubstantiate stones into bread, for His own purpose….when HIs mother, Mary, requests that He miraculously produce wine for a wedding (which He dies through transubstantiation) He complies with her request and performs His first public miracle.

          As mentioned above, one of the best things Christians can do is read MANY ‘Lives of the Saints’, and then give them to others. And this is because we can benefit by their struggles with evil and temptation, even as we can by the story of Christ in the Desert. In this, education is greatly needed. And this, I believe is what Jesus means when He says “Feed my lambs…Feed my Sheep”. We really need to give the people of our day, including politicians, some ammo against the deceptions of the devil.

          And if some people like Phil don’t want to listen, unfortunately, that’s their problem. Christ and His Church provide teachings and remedies against the devil, but some people of their own free will just don’t want to listen to them.

  8. Hi Al and Clayton and ABS et al.,

    Yes. It Chills me that Satan quotes Scripture to our Lord. As if Jesus bears the onus of confuting or proving anything to Satan.

    Some people demand that we follow their will. “Answer my questions!’ Some demand that we answer in the way they want, and by the person they designate.

    May the good Lord help us to demonstrate good works and to acknowledge free will. I need humility and charity. Please pray for me. God bless you,

    1. We all need humility and charity, Margo. And the more we read ‘the saints’, the more we realize it. But we should never give up trying for these lofty virtues. And, fortunately, we have a Lord who said,

      “Take up my yoke upon you, and learn of me, because I am MEEK, and HUMBLE of heart: and you shall find rest to your souls. For my yoke is sweet and my burden light.”

      So here we are, right back where we started from….contemplating the ‘Sacred Heart of Jesus!

      What we really need to do is …while not neglecting our own defects, is to keep spreading this Gospel message to as many others as possible. This is why I belong to the Legion of Mary: It gives me a kick in the pants to do something for the New Evangelization every week, without fail. Sometimes I don’t want to go out and evangelize, but do it anyway. And, I almost always meet gentle souls who will converse about the faith and take whatever literature I am promoting at the time. Just yesterday I talked to about 20-30 people at my local farmers market, and found various youth who took the St. Francis readings. I also met an Iranian ‘scholar type’ who loves history and asked for my E-mail to carry on the conversations. And I met a woman who has been away from the sacraments for about 5 years, and told me the reason why, and I explained some items which she carefully listened to. She was upset by certain members of the parish who didn’t treat her mentally disabled child with concern. So, at least I was there from the parish to commiserate her and recommend that she never leave Jesus in the Eucharist for anything, or anyone (but with true confession). And of course they all took the reading packets of St. Francis PTs. 1,2 and 3. (about 45 mins of reading material).

      So, these are the types of things that happen every week …if people just try to reach out to others. While many people walk by not interested, still, every time there are also people who do stop to talk on religion.

      Best to you, and all…with prayers included.

      1. Thanks, Al. Thanks for the uplifting heartening stories. I know the LoM–belonged for about 5+ years. It was a true blessing for me; some of the other members taught very much about service and love and virtue. I yearned to go door-to-door, but our pastor needed EEMs to nursing homes and assisted living facilities, so we did that. Although I no longer belong to LoM (time and family/duty constraints), my son and I still do nursing home visitation and Bible study. We have made many wonderful elderly friends who’ve passed and so we hope that they–now close to his blessed heart and ear–will assist us on our sojourn there. As you say, right back where we started! God bless.

        1. At this very moment my wife is out doing her LoM EEM work…the same as you were doing. And she also comes out to the Farmers Markets with me, off and on, to give out Rosaries and Divine Mercy lit…and St. Francis too. So, I completely understand where you’re coming from, and also with the time constraints. But it’s also good to keep a schedule for evangelization (apostolate to the crowd) work, as it’s only too easy to drift off and forget about it. And I almost always come back spiritually refreshed from such work.

          Best to you always, and keep up the good work, and comments, for the Lord.

          – Al

  9. Friends,

    The May edition of Magnificat contains Pope Francis’ comments, apparently regarding John 14:21: “Whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me. And whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him.”

    The Pope asks about our image of God in relation to the commandments. Does He appear as “…a severe judge, as someone who curtails our freedom and the way we live our lives. But the Scriptures everywhere tell us that God is the Living One, the one who bestows life and points the way to fullness of life….

    …He reveals his name: I AM WHO AM, the God who enters into our history, sets us free from slavery and death, and brings life to his people because he is the Living One….think of the gift of the Ten Commandments: a path God points out to us towards a life which is truly free and fulfilling. The commandments are not a litany of prohibitions–…, they are a great “Yes!”: a yes to God, to Love, to life.”

    May God bless us all.

  10. The commandments are not a litany of prohibitions–

    Hmmm, ABS wonders what Ten Commandments Franciscus is speaking about:

    You shall not have
    strange Gods before me

    You shall not take
    the name of the LORD your God in vain
    . . .

    You shall not kill.

    You shall not commit adultery.

    You shall not steal.

    You shall not bear false witness
    against your neighbor.

    You shall not covet
    your neighbor’s wife.

    You shall not covet
    your neighbor’s goods.

    1. I know! I know! His words are often controversial!

      I generally don’t grant P. Francis much benefit of my orthodox doubt, and I DO NOT like his sentence that you quote. Conceding that P. Francis is neither theologian nor saint (that I have yet been given graceful presumption to see!), I don’t think he intends we take his sentence sole and out of context.

      He continues to explain that the gift of the commandments is that they open us to fullness of life.

      As in the garden of Eden: Adam and Eve did not choose the prohibition not to imbibe of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of evil. So long as we follow the prohibitions of the commandments, we shall live in grace.

      As you say. The commandments are indeed prohibitions and by that very virtue, by our following them, we assent to positive good.

      I agree totally. People will take his words and say: “The Pope says the commandments are not prohibitions!”

      But I see more than this sentence. Do you see what I say?

  11. Does He appear as “…a severe judge, as someone who curtails our freedom and the way we live our lives. But the Scriptures everywhere tell us that God is the Living One, the one who bestows life and points the way to fullness of life….

    There is Matthew 25 and also this most neglected verse(You will NEVER hear this during the Lil’ Licit Liturgy

    Luke 19:27

    But as for those my enemies, who would not have me reign over them, bring them hither, and kill them before me

    The Great Commentary of Cornelius a Lapide observes:

    Jesus is referencing His extreme judgment of the Jews and His other enemies and their condemnation to eternal death in Gehenna….perpetually tormented by death-dealing punishments and flames. Our Lord alluded to Titus who slaughtered the conquered Jews…He shall come again from Heaven for judgment, to judge and condemn the Jews and the reprobate.

    As we just had the 100 year Anniversary of Fatima, we would do well to recall that Mary showed the children the scenes from Hell depicting just that.

    1. I see it both ways…pointing to both extreme love and extreme evil. But the motivation for giving the commandments, as Margo says, is one of love. And, actually, any teaching of wisdom or warning at all is motivated by love, because why else would someone reach out to others, if he didn’t care for them?

      If we really examine the commandments, they are actually very instructive and reasonable, considering that we live not as ‘solitaries’, but in societies. We are told not to steal and kill, because it is not good also for us to be killed or stolen from by others. And ‘honor thy mother and father’ instructs us to learn lessons from others so as to avoid their mistakes. And this does indeed give us the possibility of living a ‘longer life’, as promised, as we will know the dangers present in a more detailed way, there by being able to avoid dangerous errors and miscalculations.

      So, I see ‘the commandments’ as being fundamentally very loving.

      1. Dear margo and awims.

        Y’all have substituted God and His love for Franciscus’ erroneous claim the Commandments are not a list of prohibitions and then you belabor the obvious in your observation while you ignore what Franciscus obviously and erroneously claimed.

        How is that of service to any man?

        All that God does is owing to his love for He is love but the Commandments are clearly what they are and Franciscus is clearly wrong in his characterisation of them.

        1. ABS,

          It is the Gospel words of Jesus Christ and also the examples of Jesus Christ shown therein, that must be our guide in all things, even regarding the commandments. As we know, Jesus enlightened us (changed the prevailing understanding at that time) on the third commandment when He taught, ” The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath”. So this is an example for how christ can teach us the proper understanding on how to understand the commandments. Moreover, the commandments need to be understood by the actions of Christ… for instance, with the story of the woman caught in adultery. We note that Jesus is very merciful, even when a sinner is caught in the very act of breaking a particular commandment. He is noted to be not even looking at her, but looking at the ground, when the Pharisees bring her to Him, pointing out to Him her undeniable sin and testing Him as to His understanding of the Commandments. Yet Jesus, when He indeed raises His eyes, merely says:

          ” Woman, where are they that accused thee? Hath no man condemned thee? Who said: No man, Lord. And Jesus said: Neither will I condemn thee. Go, and now sin no more.”

          So, this is a very applicable ‘case study’ to consider, as it pertains exactly to the topic of the commandments.

          We note also, that Jesus often gives the benefit of the doubt to the sinner, in an appeal to their hearts and conversion. This is to say, that Jesus always looks to convert and save the people that appear before Him… in comparison to merely condemning their very visible sins or even destroying them. And He does so considering their free will, as part of the Gospel message that He taught is to ‘repent’ and believe the ‘Good News’, and this takes time to do, it’s not an immediate undertaking. So, Jesus is content to point out to them in the right direction for them to go, to direct their lives and souls, so that they might be able to walk the way towards the ‘narrow gate’ of their own free will, and not by force.

          The main problem of being too strict with the commandments, and especially with the New Evangelization, is that many people are extremely ignorant of true religion. They have reverted to paganism in many ways, with just a shadow of Christianity left in them as a remnant. And so, these people need to be appealed to…to return to Christ…just like the father of the Prodigal Son did, by allowing his son to fall into misery, but then to receive him back with merciful arms. He did not say to him “If you leave, I will follow you and kill you when I find you’…he actually gave him his inheritance early, even though he knew that he is son would waste it very quickly.

          So, we need to look at the commandments in various ways. If we have children, we can teach them directly what to do and what not to do, according to the commandments. This is the most effective and natural way. But after people grow up far from the commandments, we need to evangelize them, and be patient with them, like St. Monica was with her son Augustine. It takes time to fish for their souls, and maybe it will work and maybe it won’t. But we must respect their free will. So, we must be imitate the Father of the ‘prodigal son’, and St. Monica also , and Jesus with the adulteress… and lead them towards the the Kingdom of God without violating their free will.

          So, I thinkPope Francis is trying to steer in this direction, even though he fumbles with his expressions on how to balance the teaching the commandments to children( who can easily accept them), and appealing to sinners who are far from such teachings…to return to their ‘Father’. I sometime squirm at what he says, even as I do with what Trump tweets, but I also understand his charisma, and consider also that no one, even a Pope, is perfect (as Margo noted).

          So, all of this is like walking a tight line, and teaching the commandments to those capable of listening, such as our own children, and being patient with those who are improperly catechized, with the hope that, over time, they might listen to the ‘Good News’ and be converted. To do all this is not easy, because souls are like fish, and are far from easy to catch. If you try to catch them by throwing a stone at them, they flee even farther away then before. But sometimes they can be enticed, as a good angler does, and so they might be brought into the boat in that way. It is all up to the fisherman to decide on his strategy. Luckily, Jesus, gives some teachings on the subject, as He said..”I will teach you to be fishers of men”. And then, of course,we have the whole history of Christianity, and the lives and strategies of the Saints regarding evangelization, to help us also.

          Best to you always,

          – Al

          1. If a Pope can not be trusted to characterise the Ten Commandments accurately (and he cannot) – if he, in fact, describes them wildly wrong – and if he requires very long digressions by others to try and mask his errors (digressions entirely extraneous to his claims and at oblique angles to the actual content of his claims) -then of what use to evangelisation will such a man be?

            He will be of no use and he is of no use for his praxis is to forswear all conversions and to call proselytism solemn nonsense.

            O,and as for the weird remark about stones and fish, Christians expect their Father to give them Fish, not a snake, when they ask for the truth about Christian basics such as the Ten Commandments or whether or not he is wrong to claim that one living in a state of adultery is living in a state of Grace.

            aims. I doubt you’d be patient with a POTUS who publicly said that the Bill of Rights was not a litany of things the Federal Govt is prohibited from doing so why so uncaring about the Faith?

            Why just slough-off such nonsense?

            You may not be sending the message you intend to be sending…

          2. ABS, the Pope isn’t trying to do away with the 10 Commandments, he is just focusing on the ‘proclamation of the Gospel to multitudes of ignorant people, including Catholics. I see him as sort of a ‘Kerygmatic’ pope, in that he seems to be focused on the Gospel and it’s proclamation to both Catholics and non-Catholics alike. Without the knowledge of Jesus, via His words and examples, no one will have the power, grace or wisdom, to follow the ten commandments. And so, the Gospel and kerygma need to come first, as it was taught in the early centuries. Everything else follows after that first proclamation and introduction of the kingdom of God to the populations.

            The sorry part of all this, is that the faith of most Catholics is so deficient, that they need to start at the very beginning again, even though they are already baptized. This is to say, they have never really accepted the words and teachings of Christ as they’re suppose to be known, and this can be seen by the statistics of how many modern Catholics practice birth control. Hence, not ever really reviving the ‘initial procamation of Chrsit and His gospel, and accepting it also….these are mere cafeteria Catholics, who are Chirstian by name but in reality very far from the true faith. And many of these still attend weekly Mass.

            And so, this is why a ‘new evangelization’ is needed, to teach these very same ‘cafeteria’ Catholics who Christ really is…what He taught, what examples He gave and what He expects from those who desire to enter the ‘Kingdom of God’. So, Catholics need to have Christ taught to them on a personal level, until they come to love the Lord’s word’s and teachings, and hence become true disciples.

            So, I think this is the Pope’s goal….to promote this ‘first proclamation’ as if he were teaching the faith to pagans…even though they are already baptized Catholics. We can see this in almost everything he says, writes or does. It seems to be his modus operandi.

            So, this seems to be his charism, his chosen focus. Every pope is a person who has his own charisma and talents, even as the apostles were also were very different in charism from one another.

            Best to you.

            -Al

  12. Hi ABS.

    Clearly P. Francis errs when he states that the commandments are not prohibitions. A child at the age of reason clearly knows that the commandments are negative statements. I agree. P. Francis words too frequently invite controversy. He ‘misspeaks’ and we are aghast. Particularly when we juxtapose him with his 2-3 immediate predecessors. That is a problem for him and for the Mystical Body.

    I don’t belabor the true and substantive point of Francis’ words. There is no error in his explaining the purpose, the effect of ‘observing’ the commandments: Fullness of life. Those words reiterate John 14:21 as in the Sixth Sunday of Easter Gospel today.

    Obedience to God’s laws is necessary in order for love to blossom.

    God bless us and our Pope.

  13. ABS, the Pope isn’t trying to do away with the 10 Commandments,

    Who said he was?

    It was during Mass that he told the communicants the Ten Commandments weren’t negative The commandments are not a litany of prohibitions

    And so being unable to defend such nonsense, you desire to talk about other things.

    O, and contact me when Franciscus evangelizes the Church about birth control, and the other mortal sins of masturbation, sodomy, adultery etc.

    Be my guest. ABS will not have any part of that as all you are doing is pretending you know his interior motivation

  14. ABS,

    Here is a forest with trees. Which do we choose to see?

    P. Francis delivered a substantively true message about the goodness which results from our following the Ten Commandments, at least two of which are definitely not prohibitive: Honor thy Father and thy Mother. Keep Holy the Lord’s Day. The first is both prohibitive and positive: I am the Lord Thy God. On some level, P. Francis did not totally misspeak.

    We dishonor one another and we dishonor God’s authoritative rulers when we see fault where none exists. Neither Awlms nor I pretend nor espouse to know anyone’s interior motivation. Please tell me how or why you accuse us of that?

    Are we not instructed to give charity and benefit of doubt to those whose words and actions confuse or hurt us? We are positively instructed to turn the other cheek if we are wronged. How have Awlms or I turned aside from wrong? How have you? How have we reinforced the good?

    God wills all to good, as He Himself brings only good out of evil–Adam and Eve sinned; God responded with the Incarnation. The Resurrection followed the heinous and hideous and humiliating forsakenness of death on the cross. God can and does bring good from our evil, mistakes, misspoken words, and sins. We are to imitate Him.

    May God bless us and keep us in peace.

  15. ABS was neither confused or hurt for not one thing Franciscus says or does can cause ABS to abandon the Faith once delivered.

    Franciscus was clearly wrong and you and awims desire to pretend he wasn’t.

    Free will being what it is…

    C’est la vie.

    1. No, ABS, I did not desire to pretend that P. Francis was not wrong, and I did not clearly read that Awlms did either. I admitted that P. Francis misspoke or spoke in error when he denied that the Ten Commandments were prohibitions! But his main point was that our following them led to fullness of life. That is the prime message he was sending. It is disheartening that you apparently choose not to acknowledge the good that is in that message.

      On many other points, we can fairly criticize the words of the Pope. His waffling and flubbing about and not answering the official Dubia of Four Cardinals on the Eucharist for Divorced and Civilly Remarried persons without annulment is heinous. That we need to pray earnestly about. We need to prayer our hearts out about that.

      Here we can fairly criticize his characterization of the Commandments. He MISSPOKE. Did he do it intentionally? I Don’t Know, and I Don’t Think it Fair for You to Not Give Him the Benefit of Doubt in light of all the other good words he spoke immediately afterward.

      I do not understand why you continue to accuse me of desiring or pretending or in any other way not being able to see the reality of this situation. That is a problem. You don’t seem to hear or read what I say. Perhaps I need a course in English! HAH! I am grossly facetious now–teaching English has been one of my professions.

      But until our paths cross again,
      Best.

  16. When I was newly ‘reverted’ back to the Catholic Faith, a long time friend’s father passed away. He was not Catholic, but sent his children to Catholic schools. I was very scrupulous regarding the faith at this time, and when I talked to my friend regarding his father, I started teaching about eternity, and heaven and Hell to him, thinking that I could get across to my friend how important it was to follow Christ. And in my misplaced, and new, zeal I told my friend that his father was probably in Hell right now, because he wasn’t a faithful Catholic. And even if this indeed was a probability, it was a terrible thing to say to my friend at that time, and he was deeply disturbed by this. It even got back to me after he told his mother what I said, and then she in turn told my mother, and so my zeal had some bad consequences for everyone involved. And again, even if this might indeed be true, due to his father’s unconverted death, it was no way to help another person like my friend come closer to the Catholic faith. On the contrary, is more likely to make a person like him run twice as far AWAY from it.

    And this is what I think Pope Francis does, is try to avoid chasing people away from Christ, and encouraging people to gently teach the faith to others by both words and examples. So this is why I don’t mind his strategies, and understand that the preaching of a ‘fire and brimstone hard truth’ might not be suitable towards coaxing people back to God (even though it indeed worked for various saints and missionaries in the past).

    Pope Benedict was excellent for promoting and encouraging beautiful liturgical art and music throughout the Church, and for his ‘Summorum Ponificum’. He was also a great theologian and historian. And, for this, he is my favorite of all modern Popes for the agendas that he promoted, and especially for promoting ‘continuity’ over ‘rupture’ in regards to ecclesiology. But, Pope Francis I like for his promotion of simple devotion, love for Jesus, love for the poor, charity and gentleness in evangelization, imitation of Christ’s poverty in life, and many other traits that would have probably been appreciated by the likes of Mother Theresa, and St. Francis himself…his papal namesake. And following this ‘simple’ theological way, does not mean you abandon the ‘true faith’ in any way. It means you live it out in imitation of Christ Himself.

    And so, I think we need to be patient with God’s Divine Providence when He gives us a new Pope. Such diversity of charisma’s are like the difference between St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Bonaventure. Both were great theologians, but took different avenues to express their theology. One was more scholastic, Aquinas, and the other more mystical, Bonaventure. So, in life we have a diversity of charisms that everyone can benefit by, all being part of, and working together as… the mystical body of Christ.

    1. Love is truth! Not avoiding it. If you were pious in your comment then that wasn’t love. If there is no hell then Christianity is another false religion. I understand you not wanting to offend, but the faith is offended if truth becomes relative. That is a very dangerous strategy. No need to be cruel, but no need to avoid reality. Most people reject Christ and are headed for hell. Maybe your comments saved a soul and if they weren’t said another soul would have been lost by not wanting to offend.

      1. I found out that it is better to help convert people to Christ using beauty, joy and charity, than through threats of horror and the punishment of hell. And Christ seems to have taken this route also, with most of the Gospel message revolving around words and examples of love for God, Christ and our fellow neighbor. This is not to say that Christ didn’t warn us of the possibilities of perdition if we don’t try to enter through the ‘narrow gate’. It’s just that His method of evangelization is one that first preaches ‘peace’. When sending His 72 apostles and disciples to teach His Gospel message, He instructed them to first seek for a ‘worthy’ house to enter, and then to say “peace to this house”. So, this should also be our FIRST approach…seeking out worthy people, and greeting them with a peaceful attitude and message regarding the Holy Gospel. If they reject the message, then Christ doesn’t instruct us to get upset, or agitated or to threaten them, He merely instructs us to move on to another house, and then try again: That is…”shake the dust off your feet”…for it is God who will be the judge of these people, which will be even worse for them than it was for Sodom.

        So, Christ doesn’t teach here that we must become agitated by those who reject Him in this world. Rather, we just change direction and seek out other ‘worthy households’ or people. Jesus wasn’t disturbed by rejection, and neither should we be. In all things Jesus is the model for us, and especially for evangelization purposes. So we begin with a greeting of ‘peace’, and if rejected, we merely shake the dust off our feet and move on to others who might indeed appreciate that peace.

        This, at least, is the way I evangelize now. And, I rarely talk about hell with folks unless I know them well. I prefer to get them to fall in love with ‘the lives of the saints’ and their multitudes of charitable words and deeds. And, through familiarity with the Saints, they might then advance closer to both Christ Himself, and the holy Catholic Church… which was responsible for both forming the spirituality of those Saints, as well as canonizing them for the very purpose that we also might follow and imitate their examples.

        I once gave a Lutheran lady a book on a saint, and she liked it and asked me to lend her another. Within about 1 year, or so, I ended up being her sponsor into the Catholic Church. And after about 5 years, she knew almost as many saints as myself, having probably read 30 full length biographies. She also visited the Vatican about 6 times over 20 years. So, the power of the witness of the saints is a very powerful tool for evangelization purposes.

          1. Yep. I let the literature do most the work, as I don’t have the time to teach much.
            I just try to get people that I meet to do their own home work…offering them both short Saints bio. readings that I publish, and also websites such as New Advent.org… and especially Eusebius’ “Church History”(310 AD), at New Advent.

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