So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter (2 Thess. 2:15). Guard what has been entrusted to you. Avoid the godless chatter and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge, for by professing it some have missed the mark as regards faith (1 Tim. 6:21-22).

Friday, June 23, 2017

Catholic Underestimated

These days, in your typical Ordinary Form diocesan parish, homilies tend to be pedestrian, a concoction of feel-good tripe and banal social commentary barely touching upon the mysteries of salvation. Instead of focusing on Scripture and the life that hearing the word of God proclaimed can impart to the attentive soul, sermons are safe, predictable and not infrequently way off topic. Of course, all homilies share an element of predictability if, indeed, they are well composed. The Gospel does not change, and there is no improving upon the Lord's commandments which should saturate the hearts and minds of all Catholics. If there is a word that describes a well constructed homily it might be 'conservative'. Good homilies conserve the Truth. Good homilies communicate Tradition because a people without its story is a people lost to the whims of an age. All a priest has to achieve in his homily is to be faithful to the Truth, the Truth expressed in clear terms that invite people to confront and abandon their complacency and to adopt with zeal the Way of Jesus Christ.

Too often, priests make the mistake of preaching down to the faithful despite wanting to not appear that they are preaching over the heads of the people. A most obvious consequence of the corner into which homilists have painted themselves is the dumbing down of the Liturgy so that everyone can "understand" it. "Children's liturgies", especially, are most commonly reduced to babble that adults think will appeal to kids. Have they ever witnessed a Mass with the children of Our Lady of the Atonement Parish and School in San Antonio, Texas?

Children and adults alike require a diet of whole food, of substance, in order to progress in the spiritual life. It should be noted that Our Lady of the Atonement is yielding a harvest of young men entering the seminary. Where the Gospel is faithfully proclaimed and the Liturgy - the source and summit of the Christian life - is beautifully celebrated, the Lord blesses those places and people with many, many gifts.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Gasoline; match. Apologetics 101b

If someone is pouring gasoline over you, don't light a match.

Let's face it, there are provocateurs out there who take a twisted delight in assaulting believers with the spear of their own unresolved baggage. Instead of opening up that case to sort through that baggage, and conversing in a civil manner, there are those who swing said baggage around like a baseball bat, inflicting as many bruises upon their chosen opponent as possible, possibly because they don't want to be free of said baggage. Perhaps their known pain is preferable to the possibility of freedom, a freedom which requires them to let go of their deep seated anger. When anger becomes your anchor, do not be surprised when you are dragged down to the bottom of an ocean of misery.

A natural response to a verbal assault is to fight, flee or freeze up when confronted by a bully. Like all bullies, those who have an axe to grind (against the foreheads of Catholics), generally speaking, fear exposure. They have their insecurities like anyone, but they choose to throw up a massive smokescreen by hitting first, verbally, as in the case of the bully apologist. The bully apologist has no argument, no defence, so he swings wildly in order to distract from the issue.

If one chooses to defend oneself against verbal assault (gasoline) by becoming reactive and heated (by striking a match), do not be surprised that you will not only feel worse (having burst into flames) but know that you have given said bully exactly what he wanted. He wanted you to loose yourself by fighting back in anger (with a lit match). The result was you got burned, and he gets the satisfaction of having won by default by proving, to his somewhat mixed-up way of thinking, that you are a hypocrite. Little does that bully realize, however, that he is no less a hypocrite. Having brought you down, he elevates himself. He elevates himself at your expense. His sin was to cause you to fall, much like Satan takes delight in the fall of a sinner. All hypocrites delight in pointing a finger away from their own faults to prop up the pretence that they are morally superior. Their "superiority" relies on the fact that they do not hold themselves up to any standard from which they can fall. They admit no fault because they have no virtue to which they can compare their behaviour. It is easier for the bully to see another person's faults because he cannot stand to look in a mirror and see his own faults.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Father Karam Alraban: Iraqi Catholic Priest to Victoria Parish.

A long way from home, Fr. Karam Alraban tells his story and the story of his people.

Read the entire article by Sarah Petrescu (Times Colonist) at:
Edited for Length
“The experience of being Christian in Iraq is one marked with lots of conflict and difficult times,” said Alraban, 29, in his new office at Holy Cross Parish in Gordon Head. The priest grew up in Baghdad and came to Canada in 2014, one of about 300 Iraqis granted refugee status that year.

Alraban started seminary school at 15. He was in his early 20s studying at a monastery when a terrorist attack on his family church turned his world upside down.

“It was the year before my graduation, on Oct. 31, 2010. That was the huge event that was a shock for me,” Alraban said.

During Mass, five terrorists entered the church. “They started to shoot people and throw grenades,” he said.

It would become known around the world as the Baghdad church massacre. Fifty-eight people were killed and dozens maimed and wounded.

Many of the victims were his friends, schoolmates and relatives.

“They killed two of the most important people in my life,” Alraban said — priests Thaer Abdal, 33, and Waseem Sabeh, 27.

During the attack, the terrorists, later identified as Islamic militants, told parishioners they were being taken hostage in retaliation for an alleged kidnapping in Egypt.

Alraban said when the terrorists entered the church, Abdal was just finishing the homily. “He said: ‘If you want to take a hostage or kill someone, don’t hurt the innocent people. Come and take me, kill me, but don’t kill anyone else in the church,’ ” he said. Fifteen bullets were later recovered from Abdal’s body. The priest’s brother was shot and killed while trying to help him. His mother was also shot. She now uses a wheelchair.

The other priest, Sabeh, tried to help parishioners escape from a side door. When a security guard offered to help him hide, Sabeh said: “No, I will go back. I will never leave my people,” Alraban said. Sabeh asked the terrorists if they could have a peaceful conversation. “They shot him immediately,” he said.

He recounted other tragic stories, like that of the nine-month-old boy shot in the head by a terrorist because his mother could not stop him from crying.

“Imagine that. Nine months old,” he said.

There is another story that he believes shows God’s presence with the victims that day.

“There was a three-year-old child named Adam. Among these attacks, he left his parents and stood in the middle of the church. He yelled at the terrorists: ‘Enough, enough,’ ” Alraban said. “I believe this child would not have been able to do that by himself unless he was inspired by the Holy Spirit to deliver the message of peace and invite the terrorists to stop.”

The child was killed, along with his father.

Alraban said the story of Raghda Wafi is one of the most painful for him.
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