Archbishop Listecki Directs His Flock on How to Battle Today’s Cultural Turmoil

His Excellency, Archbishop Listecki, offered a good article in this week’s (Milwaukee) Catholic Herald. He discusses a few points including the need for Catholics to be BOLD in today’s culture, a common theme here at TSP. Below are snippets, emphases mine:

‘Hold the Line’ in Times of Turmoil

I have encountered a number of people who are apprehensive about the current state of affairs in our country. Some of these areas are the seeming divisions that have occurred in the realm of politics, the social reconstruction that is occurring under the guise of personal freedom and the international threat of nuclear proliferation endangering the entire human community. Many people of faith don’t know where and to whom to turn. They seek solace in the face of confusion. No one dialogues anymore; shouting matches have replaced civil discourse. Emotional arguments have replaced reason and logic. And, the old “ad hominem” statements have been injected into every debate.

… It seems to me in the climate of today’s arguments that the Catholic Church is often presented as the enemy to individuals who characterize themselves as “progressives.” Because of the rampant secularization that we are experiencing in today’s society, religion is no longer embraced as “good” for the development of the society, but at the present time tolerated, with just one step away from persecuted. Some may say that I am overreacting, but I believe that it is time that we were sensitive to the attacks so that we might prepare for our response.

…We can never take for granted the spiritual activity that surrounds us. Our young people are fascinated by Harry Potter and the realm of magic. Yet, we have good spirits and bad spirits (angels and devils), a guardian angel that accompanies us through life and, of course, the saints.

…The Holy Spirit, the third person of the Blessed Trinity, animates the work of the Church. The Church is instituted to lead us to salvation and the Holy Spirit guides the Church in truth. Jesus said, “If you love me you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth, which the world cannot accept, because it neither sees nor knows it. But you know it, because it remains with you, and will be in you.” (John 14: 15-17) The promise of Jesus is fulfilled in the advocate, given to His Church. The Church is “indefectible.”

As we consider our position in this day and age, my advice is “hold the line.” Look to the teachings of the Church and understand that it is rooted in the truth that guides us toward our heavenly inheritance

What then is our task today? It is to be witnesses of “Blessed Boldness.” We need to stand tall in the face of those who would deny Christian truth

During the 26 years of St. John Paul II’s pontificate, he always told us to be not afraid. He lived in the face of oppression, Nazism, communism and growing secularism, and, despite the obstacles he faced, his hope was always manifest in the person of Jesus Christ. “The Church’s fundamental function in every age and particularly in ours is to direct man’s gaze, to point the awareness and experience of the whole of humanity toward the mystery of Christ, to help all men to be familiar with the profundity of the Redemption taking place in Christ Jesus.”

So, live close to the Church and proclaim her teachings. With the Church, we “hold the line” despite the world’s problems and we will maintain our path towards sanctity by living a “Blessed Boldness” in a world that needs Jesus Christ.

Read the whole thing there. Bishops need to be supported when offering counter-cultural messages like this to their dioceses. Make sure to call/email His Excellency or your own bishops to let him know of your support and prayers! ☩

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Humility: The Key to “Finding Jesus”

Juliaan de Vriendt, <i></dt><dd class=

I came across this recently in the National Catholic Register (not to be confused with Reporter). It’s a brief reflection on the readings for the upcoming Sunday (July 9) according to the Ordinary Form’s calendar. It discusses the need for complete humility, to make oneself lowly in order to be raised up by Christ both now and following death. Pretty basic Christianity to be sure, but an important and beautiful reminder nevertheless. The love of the Father and ultimate salvation is closed off to no one if they are seeking it. Excerpt below:

Why We Can’t Find Jesus

“I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned, you have revealed them to little ones,” he says. (Mt. 11:25)

The wise and learned don’t see him. Those who are not “little” do not see him.

Those busy succeeding on the world’s terms don’t see him.  Those who want to have everything their way don’t see him. The contentious, argumentative people who always have to be right don’t see him. Those who are always searching for the more comfortable, easy way to please themselves don’t see him.

Today’s first reading from Zechariah amplifies the point by reminding us who God is. “He shall banish the chariot,” a symbol of power. He will banish “the warrior’s bow,” a symbol of conflict. “His dominion shall be from sea to sea,” leaving no room for any other dominion — including those of us who try to dominate at work, at home, or in whatever room we happen to be in at any given moment.

Instead, he will come to us “meek and riding on an ass.”

He isn’t what we expect.

He doesn’t prove he is right. He doesn’t force himself on anyone. He doesn’t imperiously demand his way. He just quietly is who he is and invites us to follow him.

Do Children Know More About Santa than Jesus?

Based purely on personal observation, the vast majority of Millennial parents who celebrate Christmas make sure their kids know everything there is to know about Santa Claus–what he looks like, wears, what make he thinks is good (and bad), the people around him, songs about him, etc–while almost never mentioning (if at all) Christ’s role in Christmas.

The fact that “Jesus” is often a foreign word on the tongue of a toddler but “Santa” is often a staple word in the lexicon of a two-year old is sad. The reason is because “Jesus” is a foreign word to most parents.

Santa Claus is great and fun tradition. But when he is divorced from the true nature of Christmas and, thus, removed from his roots as Saint Nicholas, Millennial parents are raising a new generation of shallow-minded consumerists.

Have fun with Santa, Rudolph, Mrs. Claus, and all the elves, but make sure your kids hear you talking about Jesus more than you talk about Santa. After all, Christmas is celebrating the most monumental day in the history of the planet…the day God took on a physical form on Earth and became man. ☩

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St. Nicholas, ora pro nobis!

Forget the election chaos, focus on the Kingdom

It seems that this election is speeding up the continuation of our spiral into chaos, anger, and fear in this country. It’s a scandal that conservative-minded people, especially those who seek stability for religious freedom, must vote for a man who is known to express remarkably vulgar sentiments and often seems insincere with his recently acquired conservative positions.

Even worse is that the other option is a person who goes beyond simply speaking of these sentiments by actually seeking to ruin women (and one child) who have come out as sexual assault victims in order to gain political power and wealth. This along with the desire not only for abortion on-demand  up until the moment of birth but also to have tax payers foot the bill. A vote for this option would also be voting in favor of what is essentially a referendum if one is okay with even less transparency in the executive branch and what would likely be a level of corruption that no past presidential administration comes close to matching.

It’s true that voting for the “lesser of two evils” is something that genuinely does need to be considered every election cycle. This is something we do every day in small and big ways. Similar to the situation Aron Ralston found himself in when got his arm trapped under a boulder while hiking alone (and depicted in the movie 127 Hours), it sometimes makes sense to go through pain if you know it increases the odds of a better outcome. Aron cut his arm off with a pocket knife and successfully avoided death.

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But there is a point where the “lesser of two evils” argument breaks down. While I’m not suggesting we are at this point with our two options (as it can be argued), I’m suggesting that political conservatives be careful not to ignore how close it is approaching. At a certain point it’s like arguing if we should vote for the person who murdered 20 people or the one who murdered 18 people. Eventually there will be a line crossed where it makes sense to simply not accept the choices before us.

Alas there is (and always will be) hope despite these dark times. The good news it that we are “resident aliens” in this representative democracy. Our true home is with our Father who art in heaven. And we answer to our sovereign king Jesus Christ whose monarchy spans the universe. Ultimately we have hope for an outcome that rests beyond what happens after this election. The Adversary wants us to submit to anxiety and fear so we lash out, make bad decisions, and are overcome by the world and the political systems that reside within it. Don’t.

Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. -Mt 8:24-26

What to make of what’s going on? Well, our country is divided more than ever, people care more about politics than principles, we are a post-Christian nation, and the only institution we have that can match the corruption of our politics is our mainstream news media. All we can do as individual Christians is evangelize, pray, and fast.

No one knows what will happen on November 8 or what will happen after that. What we do know is that we are not made for this world. We are made for heaven. This world is simply the ship that takes us there and as long as we stay aboard through daily conversion, faith in Christ, and the frequent reception of the sacraments of Confession and Communion we will one day reach the outcome that no political election can satisfy.☩

Faith and Hope in the Lord

Tonight while finishing the book of Hebrews with my wife (if you don’t make time for it already, let me tell you it’s a real treat when you are able to find a quiet time to read Scripture–especially with your spouse), I found the peace, hope, and beauty of the last two chapters too good not to briefly share for those not familiar enough to recall. Below is the abridgement of chapters 12 & 13.

The Example of Jesus

12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us,looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you forgotten the exhortation which addresses you as sons?—

“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
nor lose courage when you are punished by him.
For the Lord disciplines him whom he loves,
and chastises every son whom he receives.”

It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers to discipline us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time at their pleasure, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant; later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

Warnings against Rejecting God’s Grace

12 Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, 13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. 14 Strive for peace with all men, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. 15 See to it that no one fail to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” spring up and cause trouble, and by it the many become defiled; 16

[…]

28 Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe

Service Well-Pleasing to God

13 Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them; and those who are ill-treated, since you also are in the body. Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled; for God will judge the immoral and adulterous. Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have; for he has said, “I will never fail you nor forsake you.” Hence we can confidently say,

“The Lord is my helper,
I will not be afraid;
what can man do to me?”

[…]

12 So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. 13 Therefore let us go forth to him outside the camp, bearing abuse for him.14 For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city which is to come. 15 Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. 16 Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.