Catholic Exchange: The Cross Leads to the Greatness We Are Made For

There is a quote by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI that frequently makes the rounds in social media: “The world offers you comfort. But you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness.” On the surface it is a summons to rise above the things of this world in order to achieve the greatness we are made for by God. The question is: How do we achieve this greatness? The answer is through the Cross.

In the West, we live in an age of comfort. This comfort is plaguing the Church at pandemic levels. It has eroded away her evangelical witness and it has led far too many Catholics to abandon the call of Christian discipleship for the things of this world. It has also led far too many in the ministerial priesthood to fail to teach, to govern, and to sanctify the People of God. Comfort acts as a cancer within the Mystical Body destroying everything it touches in the process.

The path to holiness is not an easy one. It is deeply difficult and it is impossible for us to achieve on our own. It is only through a radical surrender of our entire being to Christ that we can be transfigured into who we are meant to be for the salvation of souls and our own salvation. The means by which Christ transforms us into great saints is through the Cross. It is the only way because it is the same path He walked.

I will freely admit that I did not come to understand this central aspect of the Christian life until a few years ago after many years of intense suffering and after Our Lord quite literally placed three pieces of His True Cross in my hands when he entrusted them to me as their temporary guardian when I was 33-years-old. God was not subtle about it when He made it clear to me that I was to pick up my Cross and follow Him.

This should not have been difficult for me to understand. I’m a cradle Catholic, after all. The fact of the mater is, I never heard a passionate call from the priests of my childhood and young adulthood telling me to die-to-self united with Christ on the Cross. In fact, the love of God was frequently preached, but in a manner that was divorced from the Cross. “God loves us” is all I heard for decades. That’s well and good, but that statement lacks any depth without the full force of the Cross with it.

When I hear “God loves us” in a homily my immediate first thought is: “Yes, Father, but what does that mean? What does that love look like in our daily lives? What is Christ calling us to?” Through His love for us, Christ issues each one of us an invitation to walk the Way of the Cross and to be crucified on the Cross with Him because that is what love looks like. That is the love we are called to; a complete abandonment of self to God and in the service of others. It is the call to put others first, not ourselves, which is completely counter-cultural in an age of me and my wants and needs.

Over the course of the last few weeks, I have been working my way through Servant of God Catherine Doherty’s writings and biographies written about her. In many ways she is a woman after my own heart and a true spiritual sister. The most prevalent theme in her writing is the Cross. Multiple times throughout her life, holy men and  women prophesied to her about the role of the Cross in her life. From her infancy, her own mother said that she was born under the sign of the Cross.

Read the rest at Catholic Exchange.

The Saints and the Cross Episode 19: Sts. Peter and Paul

Happy Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul! I apologize that I haven’t made any videos in the last few weeks. I’ve been working on a few projects and spending time with my family. Today I talk about how St. Peter and St. Paul show us the Way of the Cross and how their examples help us in our own spiritual lives. St. Peter’s doubt and St. Paul’s unshakeable faith are representative of the ups and downs most of us face in the spiritual life. By the power of the Holy Spirit, we too can have unshakeable faith despite the Crosses we face. These two saints show us that regardless of our faith journey the Holy Spirit is guiding us on the Way of the Cross in our own lives.

Crisis Magazine: An Identity Crisis in the Priesthood

As a new wave of protests erupt in response to the death of Rayshard Brooks, many Catholics are finding themselves angered, frustrated, and perplexed, but not in the way that immediately comes to mind. For months, we have been told that we must be exiled from the public celebration of the Mass, and, in some dioceses, from the Sacraments as a whole, for the sake of the common good. We were told by countless bishops and priests that we have an obligation to protect the most vulnerable among us from the spread of Covid-19.

Imagine the surprise of many of the lay faithful at seeing some bishops and priests marching in the streets in various demonstrations around the country in direct violation of current public health and safety protocols that are still restricting or suspending the public celebration of the Mass and the Sacraments in many dioceses. The issue here is not that these Catholics are uninterested in supporting demonstrations against racism. Racism is an intrinsic evil and we have an obligation to fight against it in all of its forms within our society. The issue is that these priests and bishops seem to have forgotten their sacred duty in all of the emotional fury gripping our nation’s streets.

The lay faithful are understandably upset because these actions give the perception that the Sacraments—which are the most important things in this life—are non-essential while public protests are essential, even to the risk of public health. If anything, this pandemic has served as a clarifying moment for the lay faithful after two years of confusion and righteous anger in relation to the hierarchy.

In the summer of 2018, when the evils of Theodore McCarrick were coming to light, and we heard about the horrors of the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report and witnessed the launching of investigations into countless dioceses across the country, many Catholics were sickened and angered by the sins of some priests and bishops. The wounds of the lay faithful have only deepened as more legalistic and bureaucratic responses continue to come down from the hierarchy in beleaguered dioceses. This response, however, serves as a clue as to what we are really facing within the priesthood.

Read the rest over at Crisis Magazine.

Catholic Exchange: St. Clare and the Power of Our Eucharistic Lord

In 1224, an army of soldiers on errand from Frederick II arrived to attack Assisi. St. Clare lived in Assisi with the sisters of her newly formed religious order at the time. In response to the coming invasion, St. Clare—while very ill—went out to meet the soldiers with the Blessed Sacrament in her hands. She placed the Blessed Sacrament on the wall where the invaders could see it. She then fell to her knees and begged God to save her sisters. It is said that she prayed:

“O Lord, protect these Sisters whom I cannot protect now,” she prayed. A voice seemed to answer: “I will keep them always in My care.”

The attackers were then filled with fear and fled from the town as fast as they could without hurting anyone in the process.In 2014, it became national news that Satanists planned to host a “black mass” at Harvard which was being hosted by the Harvard Extension Cultural Studies Club. There was a great outcry as Catholics rallied around the world through prayer to combat the sacrilegious event. In response, Catholics in the Boston area participated in a Eucharistic procession through the streets near MIT.

In a great show of spiritual power, the priests, religious, and faithful present demonstrated to the world and to the Satanists that true power comes from the Real Presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. The “black mass” was canceled by Harvard and moved to a local bar where it apparently was not performed in its entirety and without a consecrated host.

Nearly 800 years after St. Clare, Catholics still respond to threats of evil by holding high the Eucharistic Presence of Our Lord. In doing so, we are showing the world Christ Himself body, blood, soul, and divinity who is the ultimate answer to all evil, affliction, sin, and death. He is the source of all power. In the end, it is the higher supernatural order that truly conquers what transpires in the material world as ordained by God. It is this supernatural understanding and vision that we must reclaim to an even greater extent now.

Read the rest over at Catholic Exchange.

The Saints and the Cross Episode 18: Mary and Fraternal Charity

In the this episode I discuss how Our Heavenly Mother shows us how to love others. Love is always a movement outward away from ourselves. The more we love God, the more we come to love our neighbor. This is spiritual physics! Our Heavenly Mother’s soul was so open to the divine love that she became the Spiritual Mother to all people. Our souls are also expanded in love by God in order to make room for others.

The Saints and the Cross Episode 17: Mary’s Charity and the Holy Eucharist

In today’s episode I talk about Our Heavenly Mother and supernatural charity, especially in relation to the Holy Eucharist. Our Lady shows us how to open up to the Divine Love and to live in intimate union with Him. This union is most especially realized in our reception of the Holy Eucharist. Even if we are still exiled from the Mass, we can grow in a deeper love of Our Lord’s Real Presence through Our Lady.

Catholic Exchange: The Ascension Reveals to Us Our Ultimate Hope

It is during these dark days of uncertainty that we must raise our eyes to heaven. It is through Christ’s Ascension and return to the Father that we learn to follow Christ to our ultimate end. He shows us that our true home is not to be found in this world. We are made for eternal life. It is this message of hope that we must cling to and boldly proclaim as we continue through this pandemic and the separation from the Sacraments that continues in so many dioceses around the world.

In the days and weeks following His Resurrection, Christ sought to prepare the Apostles for His return to the Father, but they could not bear the news. They were filled with grief, so Christ gently, over time, revealed His plan to them that would result in the coming of the Holy Spirit, Who is our Advocate and Comforter.  Nevertheless, His return to the Father was necessary because we are called to follow Him wherever He goes.

Through the Ascension, Christ completes His earthly pilgrimage and leads us to our ultimate home and union with Him. We cannot attain eternal life fully until He ascends back to the Father. The Ascension raises our eyes towards heaven.

The Ascension is, then, a feast of hope, a sweet foretaste of heaven. By going before us, Jesus our Head has given us the right to follow Him there some day, and we can even say with St. Leo, “In the person of Christ, we have penetrated the heights of heaven.” As in Christ Crucified we die to sin, as in the risen Christ we rise to the life of grace, so too, we are raised up to heaven in the Ascension of Christ. This vital participation in Christ’s mysteries is the essential consequence of our incorporation in Him. He is our Head; we, as His members, are totally dependent upon Him and intimately bound to His destiny.

Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary MagdaleneDivine Intimacy, #179.

Through baptism we have been incorporated into the life of Christ, which means we live in the hope of our own resurrection and sharing in His glory. We too will follow Him to the Father at the end of our earthly lives. The Ascension is the event that most clearly reflects our hope in eternal life.

Read the rest over at Catholic Exchange.

The Saints and the Cross: Mary’s Hope

Today I look at the next supernatural virtue of hope and how Our Lady shows us how to live in the hope of eternal life regardless of our circumstances. She trusted in God always and united her will fully to His. We are called to do the same during this pandemic and during all of the trials and tribulations of our own lives.

The Saints and the Cross Episode 15: Mary’s Faith

This week I will be focusing on Our Lady and the supernatural virtues of faith, hope, and charity. In this video I focus on Mary’s great faith and trust in Christ even when she didn’t understand everything He was doing. She trusted that it was for some greater good and for our salvation. This is the same faith we are called to during this pandemic and the exile we are experiencing.

I also spend the first part of the video discussing some of the struggles people are facing with the protocols in place in order to attend public Masses. We need to prayerfully discern if we are allowing our own ego or the Enemy to put roadblocks in place that are preventing us from attending Mass when it is available. All dioceses have dispensations in place, but for those who are struggling with going because of protocols, it would be good to prayerfully consider if we are placing things we don’t need to before Christ.

Hour of Our Death: Corona Stories Piece

I sincerely hope people start making peace with the fact that we cannot control the outcome of this pandemic. No SARS vaccines have been viable in the last seventeen years. One may be found for this one, but there’s a good chance it won’t. That means herd immunity is our best shot, which means we have to start making peace now with the effects of the disease.

And that means we must truly see with the eyes of supernatural faith. People have struggled to understand why my husband and I are not freaking out, even though he is immunocompromised with a rare lung disease. We already knew that things would become more dangerous as time goes on.

We Made Peace With God

We made peace with it. God gave us that grace before this pandemic started. We lived the fear and panic the first eighteen months of his illness. It is a soul-sucking waste of time and energy. It comes from the Enemy. Life and death are up to God. That doesn’t mean my husband’s going to take unnecessary risks, but it does mean we are going to live our lives.

Read the rest over at Hour of Our Death.