When God Calls

“There is a Man on the cross” Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

Whenever there is a silence about me, by day or night, I am startled by a cry. It came from a cross the first time I heard it, and I went out searching and found a man in the throes of crucifixion. I said: “I will take you down.” He said: “I cannot be taken down until ever man, woman, and child come together to take me down.” “What can I do?” I said, “I cannot bear your cry.” And he said, “Go into the world and tell everyone you meet, there is a man on the cross.”

“The Next Voice You Hear;” is a movie that was released in (1950). It starred James Whitmore and Nancy Reagan. (Yes, the former First Lady of the United States.)

Joe and Mary Smith and their young son Johnny live in a modest home in a suburban Los Angeles neighborhood. The Smiths lead simple lives defined by mostly their daily routines: Joe works hard at his steady job at the Ajax Aircraft Plant and Johnny attends school and delivers newspapers, while Mary, who is nine months pregnant, is a homemaker. One evening, while Mary is helping Johnny with his homework, Joe turns on the radio in the living room, expecting to hear his favorite program. However, instead of the usual programming, Joe hears a voice that identifies itself as the voice of God. Though perplexed by the voice and initially believing it to be a hoax, Joe later tells Mary that he heard the voice tell him that God will be broadcasting on the radio for the next few days.

The following morning, Joe reads in the newspaper that three thousand people reported hearing a strange voice on the radio the previous night, and that they all heard the same thing he heard. Later that evening, when Joe returns home from his bowling game, Mary tells him that she heard the voice of God on the radio and that it said that God was planning to perform miracles.

As the government begins an investigation into the mysterious radio voice, which is now being heard all over the world, the talk of the town is the voice of God. The next time that God addresses the world, a fiery thunderstorm suddenly advances upon the city, sending Mary and Johnny into Joe’s arms for comfort. Joe tries to calm them by insisting that the storm was a coincidence, but Mary is not convinced. As all scientific attempts to explain the voice fail, people all over the world begin to conclude that the voice really is God.

Joe eventually decides that the voice is real, too, and that he has been given a sign from God to respect his boss, Fred Brannan, and to be kinder to Mary’s sister, Ethel. On the fourth consecutive day of God’s radio broadcasts, the world is instructed to perform miracles of kindness and peace. The following day, while drinking in a bar with his friend Mitch, an intoxicated Joe has a epiphany and realizes that the time he spends with Mitch in bars is wrong. Before staggering out of the bar, Joe tells Mitch that he is the “voice of evil.” When Joe returns home, Johnny sees his father drunk for the first time and is ashamed. Joe quickly reforms his ways and, the following day, apologizes to Ethel for his past behavior. Johnny, however, becomes disillusioned and runs away from home. Joe finds his son at Fred’s house, and their frank discussion leads to a reconciliation.

The next day, the Smiths attend a special church service to hear the voice of God speak on the radio, but on that day, the seventh day, no voice is heard. Their minister concludes that God must be resting, and with that pronouncement, Mary goes into labor. Hours later, Mary gives birth to a baby girl, and Joe and Johnny are overjoyed.

The two examples above prompt a question. Is it in us to do such a thing? That thing being, the turning of the totality of humanity’s ear to God’s beckoning call to unity. A Divine unity calling us to love God and our neighbor. Yes, it is in us to do such a thing. Even, if only for an instant, can perfection be achieved, when humility overcomes pride. For it has not a thing to do with evolving to such a point, but rather it has everything to do with an act; an act of the will. Is it not possible to will ourselves to anything? Cannot a thought become an act? Of course this is possible. When a throng of sports patrons are asked to stand, in respect, for the playing of their county’s national anthem, is that not accomplished? So then, if we can all will ourselves to respond to a call to stand in unison; we have, even, for but a moment, found perfection. Image the immeasurable joy experienced if we were to will ourselves to let our baggage drop from our grips to heed the call of God.

Every one of us can change. It can happen in a flash. As with Joe Smith, and in Saul’s transformation to Paul. Nothing is impossible where there is willingness. Anyone who has ever walked the earth has had an ability to decide; hence everyone has a common will. And it is in this common shared will that we possess the capacity to act in concert at any given moment.

God’s call, whether heard as a cry from the cross of salvation to bring Him our love, or as a divine entreatment on some form of mass communication to love one another, should draw the attention of all. For His voice resounds in, and is familiar to, every heart that He loved into being. As the apple falls not too far from the tree, neither are fallen men and women so far removed from paradise that they cannot hear the call of their Creator to come home.

 

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A Picture of Health

In Oscar Wilde’s novel, “The Picture Of Dorian Gray,” Dorian Gray is the subject of a full-length portrait in oil by Basil Hallward, an artist who is impressed and infatuated by Dorian’s beauty. He believes that Dorian’s beauty is responsible for the new mode in his art as a painter. Through Basil, Dorian meets Lord Henry Wotton, and he soon is enthralled by the aristocrat’s hedonistic worldview: that beauty and sensual fulfilment are the only things worth pursuing in life.

Newly understanding that his beauty will fade, Dorian expresses the desire to sell his soul, to ensure that the picture, rather than he, will age and fade. The wish is granted, and Dorian pursues a libertine life of varied and amoral experiences, while staying young and beautiful; all the while his portrait ages and records every soul-corrupting sin.

Those who know him become puzzled, as the passing years that taint with grey and thin the hair, while adding creases to the face, seem to have overlooked Dorian. He is as unchanged as is his portrait. Yet, when he ends his engagement to his fiancée, so that he can become fully engaged in his life of debauchery, he notices a hint of cruelty evident on his image in the portrait.

Basil, in time, confronts Dorian in regard to his distasteful self-indulgent life-style, which Dorian does not deny. Basil inquires why the portrait of Dorian is not on display. Dorian then takes him to an oft not used room where he has locked the portrait away. On seeing it Basil is horrified and bewildered by the grotesque figure that had replaced his once beautiful subject. The lustful vices willfully practiced by Dorian had mutated the portrait to its present state. The distorted portrait of the man, in fact, had become the picture of his soul. Dorian blames his fate on Basil, after which he stabs him dead. Dorian then blackmailed an old friend to dispose of the body. Now, the corruption of the picture is complete, by an act of murder.

Dorian, being motivated by a new love interest, does some soul-searching and alters his behavior. Through that relationship he wonders if his new-found goodness has reverted the corruption in the picture, but sees only an even uglier image of himself. He decides  that only by a full confession will he be absolved of his sins. So Dorian decides to destroy the last remnant of his guilty conscience. In a rage, he plunges the knife, that he used to kill Basil, into the portrait. Upon entering the room, from which they heard screams, the servants find an unknown old man, stabbed in the heart, whose face and figure are withered and decrepit. The rings on the hands of the dead man are those belonging to Dorian, thereby identifying the body as his. Beside him is found the picture of Dorian Gray, reverted back in form as Basil had painted it; its original beauty.

 

Should we have such a picture of our souls, what might its likeness be? As unblemished as at our birth? Likely not. As each sound, image and action can be recorded or recounted by witness, so, too, does any indiscretion of thought, word and deed leave a lesion upon one’s soul. Although a child who steals a candy bar from a store, or a man who robs a bank, are different functions of thievery, is each not still a violation against a neighbor? Levels of culpability can be determined by motivation, yet culpability remains .

When at the moment of death if one is in a state of grace by having refrained from, or attained forgiveness for any mortal sins, there may still exist the stains from any failure to fulfill the two commands; to love God with all our being and to love our neighbor as ourselves, which were left by Christ to those who would choose to follow Him. In the presence of God those seemingly negligible stains on our souls will be seen vividly, as would those imperfections on a portrait when examined in the natural light of day. It is not God’s perfection that bars us from entering heaven, but rather our imperfections in comparison that do so.

But, through God’s infinite mercy, for those acceptable souls that are yet not perfect, a period of purification is granted which removes the stains of impurity as dross is burned away leaving gold purified. Furthermore, through this Divine mercy, accelerated purification is made possible for these longing souls by loved ones still on their earthly journey, who sacrifice time in prayer and especially in offering up the sacrifice of the mass on their behave. Those souls, who have passed beyond death, can no longer of themselves gain forgiveness nor make amends for un-repented sins.  Only when these hungry souls are worthy to be in the presence of perfect love can they become saints. And only those who are saintly shall inherit the joy of unending blissful life found in God’s divine truth and perfect love. Dorian denied himself any chance of purification and salvation. Instead of remorseful repentance and putting his trust in God’s mercy, he took his own life in a suicidal rage.

Thoughts become words, words become acts, acts determine character; a character that can be either built upon virtue or vice. As Basil created an image of Dorian’s beauty, Dorian betrayed that image by his imprudent actions. Only in the end when it was too late did he admit to his guilt. And even then his offer of repentance was a violent expression of vice, as he brutally stabbed the image of his own soul. For only though an act of love, not hate, can a soul be made new.

How directed then are our thoughts, words, and acts. Are they directed as Basil, toward the saintly, or as Dorian, toward the sinner. Prudence causes us to hesitate. A pause to reflect upon the potential repercussions of our acts. Let Dorian’s fate be a lesson. A lesson not needed to be learned by experience.

So then… let us, in every waking moment, prepare ourselves for the ultimate joy. That joy which is accessible by one who accepts God’s will as his own.

May our souls, in the end, be pictures of health.

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THE HOPE OF EASTER

“I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never die.” – JOHN 11:25-26

The Cross had asked the questions; the Resurrection had answered them….The Cross had asked: “Why does God permit evil and sin to nail Justice to a tree?” The Resurrection answered: “That sin, having done its worst, might exhaust itself and thus be overcome by Love that is stronger than either sin or death.”

Thus there emerges the Easter lesson that the power of evil and the chaos of any one moment can be defied and conquered, for the basis of our hope is not in any construct of human power but in the power of God, who has given to the evil of this earth its one mortal wound-an open tomb, a gaping sepulcher, an empty grave.                   – Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen 

The way is hard, not easy, that leads to everlasting life. Because it is purchased by a love that can only be secured by a truth that confounds the world.  

                                                                     

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EASTER SUNDAY: The Empty Tomb

To all my good friends and followers, and those whom I follow…God’s good graces and blessings upon you and your families on this glorious Easter Sunday, for years to come.
Pax Cristi,
Alan

CROSSROADS-Right Choices

empty-tomb

“Pilate said to them, “The guard is yours; go secure it as best you can.” So they went and secured the tomb by fixing a seal to the stone and setting the guard. – Matthew 27: 65-66

“The king lay in state with the guard about Him. And the most astounding fact about this spectacle of vigilance over the dead is that the enemies of Christ expected the Resurrection, but His friends did not. It was the believers who were the skeptics. It was the unbelievers who were credulous.

None of the apostles expected a Resurrection. They had to be convinced. They had to be convinced the hard way, as Thomas had to be convinced. Believe me, the skeptics of today cannot compare with the skeptics of those days, namely the apostles. They were the doubters, and when they were convinced they proved that they believed by having their throats…

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Good Friday – The First Homily

Happy Good Friday Wallpapers and Images Ishu+cross+shadow

In the letter to the Hebrews, the author affirms Jesus as High Priest according to the Order of Melchizedek.

When the Sacred Scriptures are read in the Church, God himself speaks to his people, and Christ, present in his own word, proclaims the Gospel. Therefore, all must listen with reverence to the readings from God’s word, for they make up an element of greatest importance in the Liturgy. Although in the readings from Sacred Scripture God’s word is addressed to all people of every era and is understandable to them, nevertheless, a fuller understanding and a greater effectiveness of the word is fostered by a living commentary on the word, that is, the Homily, as part of the liturgical action.

The Homily should ordinarily be given by the priest celebrant himself. He may entrust it to a concelebrating priest or occasionally, according to circumstances, to the deacon, but never to a lay person. In particular cases and for a just cause, the Homily may even be given by a Bishop or a priest who is present at the celebration but cannot celebrate.

The first Homilist was the sacrificial lamb Himself, Jesus Christ. The cross is the altar on which the priest consecrates the bread and wine, changing it into the body and blood of Our Lord by Transubstantiation. The Sacrifice of the Mass is not a recreation of the crucifixion, because Christ could only die but once. It is a conjoining of the then and the now. Christ’s one-time sacrifice at Calvary is made present during the Eucharistic Liturgy.

Christ’s Homily from the cross is in His “Last Seven Words.”

“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” – Luke 23:34

Here Christ tells us that ignorance is the prerequisite for forgiveness. Should one not know that one is in violation of some rule, then one cannot be held responsible. There were many who had no understanding  of who Christ was; and in that, exhibited ignorance. Christ was sent into the world for the expressed purpose of forgiveness. To cleanse from mankind the stain of Original Sin. As sunlight shines upon all, the good and the bad; so, too, does the Light Of The World shine His light on the righteous and the sinner.

“Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” – Luke 23:34

In Christ’s promise to the good thief, that he would enter Heaven with Him this day, Christ forgives those who are aware of their sins, as well. The good thief knew exactly what he did in life, and in his acknowledgement of Christ’s innocence, justly spoke in defense of that innocence. Christ, in that instant, heard the good thief’s confession and forgave him; extending the invitation, welcoming him to heaven. In that moment the good thief’s life was amended.

“Jesus said to His mother: “Woman, this is your son.” Then He said to the disciple: “This is your mother.” – John 19:26-27

Here Christ does not solely turn over His mother to John’s care, but also solidifies the role of each in His Mystical Body, The Church. Christ upon that cross confers a marriage. A marriage in which He is the head of the church, Mary is the Mother of the church and John is the first-born of the church. And at Pentecost the church would have grown to 120 members. No one need ever be alone. For in the Church one finds a brother in Christ and mother in Mary; Holy Mother Church.

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” –  Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34

Christ knows abandonment. He was human in every way, save for sin. He felt the dark force of our temptations, and bore the sins of the world that were committed through man’s unsuccessful rejection thereof. He felt what it must be like for us, when separated from God through sin. While on the cross, Christ was under the immeasurable weight of all the sins ever committed and yet to be committed. Where there is sin, God is not. So Christ’s feeling of abandonment is found in all those suffering affliction and addiction who believe they have been forgotten. He now stands in for the despairing, assuring them that the God of mercy, love, forgiveness and peace, is ready to receive all who will turn to Him with a contrite heart.

“I thirst.” – John 19:28

Here Christ is not seeking to satisfy a physical need, but rather spiritual fulfillment. God is love. And the Son of God can be no more, nor less, than God the Father. He thirsted not for water, but rather for our love. Yet those to whom He gave of Himself in sacrifice for their salvation; instead of gratitude, offered their wrath. How much more must that pain inflicted have seemed, knowing that it was delivered by those whom He loved?

Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” – Luke 23:46

All of us are born into this world, naturally, through our parents, by the love of God. The power within us that sustains our lives and motivates our good works are from Him. Christ offered up His spirit to God, the Father, because our lives are but a gift from God and it is only fitting that that gift should be returned to the One who is Divine all perfect love. As Saint Augustine said: “You have made us for yourself, Oh Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee.” We are because He is.

When Jesus had received the wine, He said, “It is finished.” Jesus then bowed His head and gave up His spirit.- John 19:29-30

The Old Testament Book of Daniel describes 456 prophesies that would be fulfilled by the Messiah. Jesus, from His birth in Bethlehem to the cross on Calvary, would fulfill every prophesy in time and place. The odds in fulfilling those prophesies has been calculated to be in the millions of trillions. In His words: “It is finished,” refers not necessarily, as one would assume, to the successful execution of the crucifixion, but rather, that all conditions of the mission that God had planned in reconciling Himself to Man had been completed in every way. What was finished on the cross would be validated in three days, when the risen Glorified Christ emerged from the tomb. He removed the sting from death for all mankind in saying: “We would do what He has done.”                                                                                                                                                      “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live.” – John 11:25

The Homily from the cross can best be expressed in a quote from Charles Dickens’, “A Tale of Two Cities.”  When Sydney Carlton dies on the guillotine in place of Charles Darnay, he says: “It’s a far, far better thing I do than I have ever done. It’s a far, far better rest I go to than I have ever known.”                                                                                                                 “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” – John 15:13

Christ’s Homily was delivered  from the cross, which served as His pulpit. And that homily proclaimed a simple message. He came into the world, by the power of God’s love, to forgive sins, thereby restoring the bond between man and God. He turned the world upside down, to turn it right side up. He taught that to have everything, you must give up everything; to be filled, you must empty yourself; to live, you must die to self. All being accomplished by love in obedience to God’s will.

“Just as the disobedience of one man the many were constituted sinners, so also by the obedience of the one the many will be constituted just.” – Romans 5:19

 

 

 

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“The Week That Changed The World”

CROSSROADS-Right Choices

Palm Sunday

“Took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried: Hosanna, blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord, the king of Israel.”- John 12:13

Holy Thursday“And taking bread, he gave thanks, and brake: and gave to them, saying: This is my body, which is given for you. Do this for a commemoration of me.”-Luke 22:19

“For this is my blood of the new testament, which shall be shed for many.”-Matthew 26:28

Good Friday

“Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”- Luke 23:34

“And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying: Eli, Eli, lamma sabacthani?” That is, My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”-Matthew 27:46

“And Jesus crying out with a loud voice, said: Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.”- Luke 23:46

Holy Saturday

” Command therefore the sepulchre…

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5TH WEEK OF LENT: DIVINE PURSUIT

A re-blog of 2015 5th week of Lent post; with a few revisions.
A continued successful Lent to all believers.
-Alan

CROSSROADS-Right Choices

“So Jesus told them this parable: “Which of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of  them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness  and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices…Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.” – Luke 15:4-5,7

God solicits each of us by dialogue no other soul can hear. His action on the soul is always for us alone. He sends no circular letters, uses no party lines. God never deals with crowds as crowds-they could only give him earthly glory-but what he wants is each soul’s singular and secret fealty. He calls his sheep by name; he leaves the ninety-nine that are safe to find the one…

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