These days it seems like we are undergoing as much of a sacramental recession as we are an economic one. At a time when COVID-19 has rendered our priests’ public appearances relegated mostly to television, debates about how to deal with this crisis are being waged among Catholic bloggers and Bishops alike. Has COVID-19 resulted in a sacramental as well as economic recession? What is the relationship between the sacraments and our salvation?
Letting friends and family know our wedding ceremony this June will now have to be private in light of the coronavirus has been a sad and disappointing undertaking. But it has also put for us the sacrament of marriage in perspective. The reality is that matrimony isn’t ultimately about the pomp and circumstance humans create, but what God divinely creates in us as a couple. Read more from Ryan Bilodeau here
The Eucharist as the real presence of Jesus Christ body and blood, and not just a representative thereof, is an issue debated since the beginning of the Church. For Catholics this debate is not one from which we should run. Without a proper understanding of the Eucharist, after all, one cannot properly understand the liturgy. Continue reading on Prayer to Pen Catholic Blog
The Grace Trifecta
Fast forward a few years, I am sitting in a small chapel in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament (aka Jesus in the Eucharist). In my reading I once again face the question, what is grace? This time I open the Catechism of the Catholic Church; and prayed for guidance from the Holy Spirit. That day the Allison abridged version of how I define the grace of God, was born … Read More at Reconciled To You
All Rights Reserved, Allison Gingras 2016
Fantasy sports leagues are now allowing players to pick a different teams each week in order to maximize the chance of success. If you think this model mimics contemporary approaches to dating, marriage and friendship, then you are right. Continue reading here…
|St. Teresa’s Transverberation by Joefa de Obidos (Wikimedia Commons)
Last winter on social media, I came across another Catholic author who was promoting yoga. Not as an exercise program, but for spiritual growth. I was shocked. I asked her why she wasn’t promoting prayer instead. She answered, “Meditation is prayer!”
Two months ago, my brother forwarded an email from a colleague, asking about Centering Prayer. A friend was pushing it relentlessly. I looked at the website of the Catholic group that promotes Centering Prayer and found this in the FAQs:
This form of prayer was first practiced and taught by the Desert Fathers of Egypt … the Carmelites St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross and St. Therese of Lisieux…
The other day a new reader asked in the comments about meditating on Sacred Scripture. “Is this the same as the method of Fr. John Main, who has adapted an Eastern mantra method for Christian meditation?”
I have written a little on this topic before, but I think it’s time to revisit it. Let’s start with Teresa of Avila.
Continue reading at Connie’s blog Contemplative Homeschool.
Suffering. Ever since the Fall of Adam, it’s an unavoidable part of life. We suffer daily in little ways. The alarm clock rings too early. We spill coffee all over our work clothes. The kids are disobedient. We get stuck in traffic. These little things are a reminder that all is not right with the world. Something is out of whack. We have lost the close connection with God we were meant to have.
When we face small trials, we have an opportunity to grow in trust and love. We can offer our disappointments and dislikes to God in love, asking Him to use them to bring others to Him. We can say, “Jesus, I trust in you,” praying that He helps us to accept His sovereignty over our day. Because after all, we were never meant to be in charge of our life. These gentle reminders of that fact can help us reorient ourselves towards God. (As an aside, I am experiencing a little annoyance right now from my kids. Thank you, Lord, for this opportunity to put into practice what I am preaching!)
What about tragedies?Every day on FaceBook, someone asks me for prayers. Sometimes, a loved one is seriously ill. Other times, a FaceBook friend faces clinical depression. Prayers for difficult pregnancies and comfort while burying infants or dealing with miscarriage are common.
How should a Christian face tragic suffering?
Continue reading at Contemplative Homeschool.
In the past week we’ve celebrated two major Carmelite feasts: Our Lady of Mt. Carmel (July 16) and the prophet Elijah (July 20). These two great saints in different ways exemplify what Carmelite spirituality is about.
Elijah demonstrates the prophetic aspect of Carmelite spirituality. The Carmelite seal bears these words of his as a motto:
With zeal have I been zealous for the Lord God of Hosts (1 Kings 19:10).
Consumed with zeal for holinessElijah was not afraid to confront the rulers of his day. He risked death to preach repentance to King Ahab, while Queen Jezebel launched an anti-crusade to wipe out God’s prophets. He challenged the prophets of Baal to a contest on Mt. Carmel to see whose god would consume a sacrifice with fire from Heaven. After winning that contest (surprise!), Elijah had all the false prophets killed. He led the people to re-commit themselves to the true God.
Then he went and prayed that, seeing their repentance, God would send rain. Elijah’s prayers had kept the land in drought for three years.
So Ahab went up to eat and to drink. And Eli′jah went up to the top of Carmel; and he bowed himself down upon the earth, and put his face between his knees. And he said to his servant, “Go up now, look toward the sea.” And he went up and looked, and said, “There is nothing.” And he said, “Go again seven times.”And at the seventh time he said, “Behold, a little cloud like a man’s hand is rising out of the sea.” And he said, “Go up, say to Ahab, ‘Prepare your chariot and go down, lest the rain stop you.’” And in a little while the heavens grew black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain. And Ahab rode and went to Jezreel. (1 Kings 18:42-45)Since medieval times, Carmelites have seen the cloud as a symbol of Mary. She rises from the sea of our fallen humanity, a human being herself, yet without the stain of sin. She pours down on God’s people the pure water of His grace from Heaven. So the return of rain to the land of Israel is also a prophecy of the Woman whose cooperation with God’s grace will bring about the Incarnation.
Here are some more facts about Elijah:
His name means, “Yahweh is God.”He heard God speak to him in a gentle whisper (or “still, small voice”).He nearly despaired because he thought he was the last surviving faithful Israelite.He said, “The Lord my God lives, in whose presence I stand” (1 Kings 18:15).He raised a boy from the dead.He was taken up to Heaven in a chariot of fire.
Continue reading at Contemplative Homeschool.
Some years ago I had lunch with friends in London. On my way out they introduced me to their father who was busy working in the garden. Without thinking I asked him what he was doing and he replied –“I do be digging the garden.” Some months later I met a nun who taught Irish in Dublin and I asked her about this expression that I’d never come across before. She explained that it was an English translation of what in Irish is called the present continuing tense. “Well what does it mean?” I asked, “What was he trying to say to me?” “Oh, what he was saying was this.” she said. “I have been digging the garden, I am digging the garden, and when you stop asking the obvious, I will continue digging the garden!” read on…
However, even sharia law allows for dhimmitude, second class citizen status for “people of the book” (i.e. Jews and Christians) so long as they pay the jizya tax. But that is not good enough for ISIS jihadists. They have taken to mark the buildings of Christian institutions with spray-painted red marks indicating holdouts to exterminate and expropriate.
|Spraypainted ISIS Extermination Graffiti on Christian buildings in Mosel, Iraq
|“Nun” 14th letter in Arabic alphabet
The symbol is “Nun”, the 14th letter in the Arabic alphabet. It is the first letter in the name “Nazara” (or Nazarenes) the way in which Muslims have referred to Christians since the 7th Century. This is intended as a badge of shame for what is perceived as a contemptible and disobedient sect.