PENTECOST – Convincing Illumination

d068cbfeaf8c40be2c7c223643e6f883“A man is not really convinced of a philosophic theory when he finds something proves it. He is only really convinced when he finds that everything proves it.” – G.K. Chesterton

A  Jewish scholar who became a Christian and who knew the Old Testament very well and all of the traditions of the Jews, said that at the time of Christ the rabbis had gathered together 456 prophesies concerning the messiah, the Christ, the conqueror of evil who was to be born and to enter into a new covenant with mankind. Suppose the chances of any one prophesy being fulfilled by accident, say the place where he would be born, was one in a hundred. Then, if two prophesies were fulfilled, the chances would be one in a thousand. If three prophesies were to coincide in Christ, that would be one in ten thousand. If  four, one in a hundred thousand. If five, one in a million. Now if all of these prophesies were fulfilled in Christ, what would be the chance of them all concurring at the appointed moment, not only in place but also in time, as was foretold by the prophet Daniel? Take a pencil and write on a sheet of paper the numeral 1, and draw a line beneath it. Under the line write 84, and after 84, if you have time, write 126 zeros. That is the chance of all of the prophesies of Christ being fulfilled. It runs into millions and millions, trillions and trillions. – Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen (“Through The Year With Fulton Sheen”)

“When  the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.”- Acts 2: 1-4

Jesus promised that after His Ascension He would send the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit, to His Apostles. And along with the arrival of the Holy Spirit came an illuminating and complete understanding of Jesus. (In the words of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen: “Just as the Son has revealed the Father, so the Holy Spirit reveals the Son.”) In another dramatic fashion, that understanding also descended upon Saul, a persecutor of Christians. To coin a phrase: He was blinded by the light; literally, while on his way to Damascus. When He recovered from this life changing experience, at the hand of his savior, Saul’s sight was restored beyond the physical. For it was now Paul, not Saul, who emerged from the traumatic but transfiguring event. Essentially, Christ having heard the cries for mercy from His followers rescued them from the merciless Saul by sending the merciful Paul. The persecutor of Christians is now the protector of Christ’s Church.

The Apostles of Christ were like Saul; not sharing in his hatred, but in his doubt. Saint Thomas, alone, was proof of that. He would not believe in the Resurrection unless He was satisfied with physical validation. For Thomas, seeing was believing. The Apostles never truly understood the significance of the Resurrection. If they had understood, they would have been at the tomb awaiting what Jesus had promised. Yet their doubt scattered them and sent them into hiding. Even though Jesus appeared to them and, as well, to many others on a number of occasions after His Resurrection, the apostles still tended to their profession as fishermen. Only when the Holy Spirit came upon them at Pentecost was their understanding of the Resurrection complete, and their doubt vanquished. So convinced were they then, that they feared not even death in spreading the Good News of Christ and through an immeasurable faith worked wonders in His name.

The Jewish scholar was a doubter too. I wager that his original purpose in the study of the Old Testament and Jewish traditions was not to prove but disprove Christ’s true nature. But, as scientists of various disciplines will attest; many theories are proven true by the failed attempts to prove them false. This Jewish scholar, influenced by the common sense of first principles, could not help but come to the reasonable conclusion that Jesus is who He claimed to be; the Son of God and the Savior of mankind. So convinced was he by his findings, that he, too, took up his cross and followed Christ.

Whether knocked from a horse by a blinding light, or having one’s heart enkindled by the perfect love of the Holy Spirit, or persuaded by common sense reason, many have come to divine understanding. Those who permit themselves to be overshadowed by the Third Person of the Holy Trinity are blessed, for they will find what they have been seeking their entire lives; the way, the truth and the life.

For in knowing Christ, who is all-encompassing, we know not one truth, but all truth. Therein is well placed our conviction. 

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SCARS: Evidence Of Healing

Agca visits Saint John Paul II's grave and leaves white roses.

Agca visits Saint John Paul II’s grave and leaves white roses. (2014)

Pope John Paul II visits his would-be assassin, in prison.

Pope John Paul II visits his would-be assassin, Mehmet Ali Agca, in prison. (1983)

In the movie “Jaws” there is a scene aboard Quint’s boat, the Orca, in which Quint and Hooper, over a few drinks, are comparing their various scars while awaiting their next encounter with the Great White. Chief Brody, for the moment enjoys the comic game of one-upmanship between the two men of the sea as a respite from their dangerous mission. Each scar is accompanied by a story. And isn’t that true of us all.

While playing with friends, as a young boy, I lost my balance and fell. Not too unusual for those who are young and rambunctious. Yet unusual in that I wore leg braces and crutches as a result of polio. As I fell I was unable to free myself from my crutch which supported me at the forearm. With the crutch tip wedged in the ground and upright I dangled briefly, but long enough for the edge of the metal forearm support to gouge into my flesh. The mishap did not require a hospital emergency room visit. When ice along with Mercurochrome and a bandage suffices, there is no need for such attention. After the wound had healed I was left with a scar that is visible to this day. And as was the case with Quint and Hooper, I was left with a story to tell. I must rightly say, if the scar no longer existed neither would this tale.

Scars confirm that a healing process has that taken place. Scars can result from a number of intentional or unintentional incidents, but are not limited to the physical. Hearts, minds and souls can be wounded as well. These wound types cannot be seen by the naked eye, but none the less are in need of healing. And will also leave behind scars with stories that are often as well guarded as that of a good poker hand.

Scar tissue often remains visible, although healing is complete, as evidence to a significant trauma occurrence. The body possesses the ability to heal some wounds without outside intervention. Antibodies fight infections as blood cells join to seal the wound. Again, we can recall certain injuries because scar tissue remains to remind us. However, memory of the events that had caused minor cuts, bruises and abrasions will eventually fade, as do their fully healed scars.

Forgiveness is the healing process of interior wounds; of heart, mind and soul. And as it is true of the body; the heart, mind and soul can, too, be wounded by others or ourselves. Residual scar tissue can be as evident here as it is with the body. The presence of this particular scar tissue is validated by an imbalance or discord  in our natures. We just may not seem like ourselves; resembling someone who is ill or injured. Negative effects on the unseen self are as real as those of the seen. Forgiveness, given or received, heals. Scar tissue of this sort will remain only if we choose to follow our inclination to hold the offensive wound inflicted upon us against others or ourselves.

“But he was pierced for our sins, crushed for our iniquity. He bore the punishment that makes us whole, by his wounds we are healed.”-Isaiah 53: 5

Christ, after His resurrection, still possessed the scars of crucifixion. The same scars demanded to be seen by Thomas to convince him from his doubt. Christ’s scars represent a healing of monumental proportion as proof that forgiveness powered by love heals all wounds; even that of the entire world. Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen points to another valuable purpose in those visible scars of Christ when he says: “Christ will intercede for us in seeking God’s mercy by showing God His scars and saying; see how much I love them.”

God’s forgiveness is like a vast ocean. Can anyone retrieve the same water from a cup after pouring it into the ocean. Of course not. That is what God’s forgiveness is like. And in being irretrievable our trespass is not just forgiven but also forgotten.

Man’s capacity to forgive when compared to God’s is not vast but minute. The scars that often remain are a testament to the not a yet completed quest of perfecting ourselves in His will. No matter the effort made, one cannot forget completely; especially when the offense carried out cuts deep. But, God does give us the ability to make it seem as though we have forgotten such grievous acts against us. That ability is in our choosing. Our choosing to stay our hand, sheath our sword and bite our tongue. It is a difficult choice because it is the right choice. A choice that stems from a selfless act of the will. An act that counters ill will with good will. The same act of will that not only allowed Christ to withstand the demands of the cross, but to embrace them triumphantly. Each of us can choose not to continually hold a harm done to us over the head of the one we say we have forgiven. And both parties will be the better for it. For, often, the shoe is found on the other foot.

When we stand before God, in the only just judgement of our lives, He will notice any remaining scar tissue, which is seen by Him as an imperfection. But may, by His divine mercy, not hold it against us. This is possible, because even though God knows that we have sinned against another, He will take into account that the one we have offended has, also, chosen not to hold it against us.

The measure of mercy that we show to others will be in like measure shown to us .

 

 

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Of Truth And Reality: Reprised

Of Truth And Reality.

via Of Truth And Reality.

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When One Dream Fails

From the Contagious Optimism blog.

When One Dream Fails.

via When One Dream Fails.

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EASTER SUNDAY: The Empty Tomb

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 cut for the cause of Christ.” – Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

“Why do you seek the living among the dead?” He is not here, but has been raised.” – Luke 24:5-6

And as the risen Christ had overcome death, so too, the apostles would rise above their fear. Having again seen and eaten with their master, a presumed illusion had become reality; restoring their faith. The cowards would become heroes. They were now prepared to let go of the lives they knew and give them over to and for Christ; completely. All that was Christ was conferred upon them by Him. They would do what He had done. And through the apostles the gospels would be proclaimed throughout the world resulting in a growing, vibrant, Holy and living church.

As a result of the events of Good Friday and Easter Sunday all that was is changed forever. Suffering once seen as a dreaded error of life now has a valued purpose and meaning; for it is the precursor of a greater good; and in the case of Christ, the greatest good. His success is our success. The entrance to heaven that had been denied to all humanity by the disobedience of one man, has been reopened, and access reinstated to all humanity by the obedience of one man.

From the apostles and succeeding disciples to the present day priests, the consecration of the Holy Eucharist continues in the presence of the ever vigilant Paraclete. The Paraclete is the love of God that binds the Father to the Son and the Son to us all. The Paraclete guides, protects, inspires, consoles and sustains. And through that continual Eucharistic consecration, Jesus keeps the promise He made that comforted and encouraged his apostles then; and comforts and encourages all today, who take up their cross and follow Him. “And remember that I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” – Matthew 28:20

The stone that sealed the tomb of the Savior was found fallen away. And the place where His body had been laid was empty and free of darkness. For that which harbors not life, but death, had not the power to contain “The Light Of The World.”

 

 

 

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GOOD FRIDAY: Where Is Caesar?

Happy Good Friday Wallpapers and Images Ishu+cross+shadow

“For this I was born and for this I came into the World, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” – John 18:37

One Solitary Life

He was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. He grew up in still another village, where he worked in a carpenter shop until he was thirty. Then for three years was an itinerant preacher.

-He never wrote a book.                                                                                                                   -He never held public office.                                                                                                             -He never had a family or owned a house.                                                                                     -He didn’t go to college.                                                                                                                     -He never traveled 200 miles from the place where he was born.                                           -He did none of the things one usually associates with greatness.                                           -He had no credentials but himself.                                                                                               – –He was only 33 when public opinion turned against him. His friends ran away. He was turned over to his enemies and went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed to a cross between two thieves.                                                                                                               -When he was dying, his executioners gambled for his clothing, the only property he had on earth. When he was dead, he was laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend.

Nineteen centuries have come and gone, and today He is the central figure of the human race, the leader of mankind’s progress. All the armies that have ever marched, all the navies that have ever sailed, all the parliaments that ever sat, all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man on earth as much as that One Solitary Life. – Author unknown

At the crucifixion, Christ not only fulfills His mission of reconciling God with mankind, by taking upon Himself the burden of our sins and paying our debt by His death; but also consummates His church. With He as its head and Mary as its mother, John then becomes the first son and member of the church. This is accomplished in Jesus saying from the cross: “Women, behold your son!(referring to John, who along with Mary, was at the foot of the cross), Son behold your mother!” – John 19:26-27

Peter is the first Pope of the Church. He is the first in the succession of 266  popes throughout the history of the Church; Pope Francis being number 266. From the dome of Saint Peter’s Basilica a visitor can view all of Rome; including the Colosseum and the Roman Forum. There, in Saint Peter Square, are statues that reverently honor the succession of popes. When one views the Colosseum and the Roman Forum one can find the succession of Caesars; from Julius Caesar(although a dictator and not an emperor) to Romulus. We know Francis is the present pope. But, where is Caesar? The point to be made is the following: The Church, established by Christ, with Peter as His vicar on earth, and consummated at the crucifixion, thrives to this day. The Roman Empire lasted some one thousand years; and no longer.

Do you think Julius Caesar’s mother had any confirmation that her son, to be, would one day end the Roman Republic rule and establish himself as Caesar of Rome; proclaiming himself a god? Even though his heritage rightly suggested that his future would likely be much more prominent than that of a laborer or servant, there was no guarantee of what was to come. However, it was revealed to Mary – the divinely chosen mother of Jesus – exactly who she would bring into the world. And in accepting she proclaimed: “Fiat.” No other person’s purpose in history has ever been pre-announced as was that of Christ.

Christ, in the person of God, was sent by God. Julius Caesar proclaimed himself a god. God is eternal and absolute. Man is temporary and fallible. That is why the Church, which is the person of Christ, is everlasting; and why the Roman Empire, shaped by its various Caesars, ended in ruins.

Christ, through His love for us, gave His life willingly and selflessly for the salvation of souls. Julius Caesar gave not his life for the good of men. It was, instead, taken by selfish and wanton men; men, who like himself, saw truth as subject to the powerful. Never did they once realize that whatever power they possessed was given by the One who relinquished His on the cross, only to regain it in three days; as the Son of God only could.

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5TH WEEK OF LENT: DIVINE PURSUIT

“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 that is lost…Once the soul becomes conscious of the Divine Presence, it…whispers to itself: “This is a message sent to me and to no one else.” – Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

In his poem: “The Hound of Heaven,” Francis Thomas shows that God views us each as significant individuals, but also that He is relentless in His pursuit of us. As the shepherd who searches for the one lost sheep tirelessly until he finds it, so too does God pursue us with patient persistence.

Unlike the sheep who has no design in mind to stay lost, we often attempt, with all our energy, not to be found by God. We believe our happiness is in our freedom. Yet, like Thomas in his poem, we don’t understand that happiness is not in being free, but in the proper use of freedom. Improper use of freedom leads us to sadness. Proper use of freedom leads us to happiness. In the former we are successful in evading God; in the latter we are found.

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