Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Another Screwtape Letter



I recently came into acquisition of the following letter. After approaching the proper authorities, I received permission to translate and publish it for the benefit of our readers. Diligent study has confirmed this letter is written by none other than Screwtape himself. The demon is still working hard at corrupting us all and continues to mentor other demons. Take note of his words below that you may arm yourself against his tactics.

                                                                             

My dear Snearman,

Your reputation precedes you. You are becoming quite the master-tempter and I am thrilled at the chance to work with you. I hear you have had some trouble with your latest patient and need some assistance in your service to Our Father Below. Fortunately, I have some new tactics straight from Research and Development which will help you in this rather difficult case. 

Your patient is one of those ‘faithful Catholics.’ You have been given a challenging one. There are, however, a few techniques to knock him off his path to The Enemy without him even knowing it. In fact, if you perform well and follow my advice precisely, he won’t even be aware that he has left The Enemy’s service.

Number 1: Pandemonium ...

Under no circumstances should the patient ever be left in silence. Our research has found that patients can be conditioned to find it as vile as we do. This emptiness of noise is pivotal to the development of their inner parts towards the Enemy; a significant number of patients immediately experience accelerated ignorance of The Enemy’s movements when they are not allowed any part of quiet reflection. 

Begin with something the patient enjoys and slowly bring him to excess with it. Then help him find another pleasure and let him bounce between the two. You can even begin to use tools which are claimed by The Enemy: have him volunteer for enough organizations, work for enough causes, and do enough hobbies that he never sits with his own thoughts. 

Even when he attempts prayer, make his reading, journaling, and recitation the main object of his time so that he never actually lets The Enemy speak to his inner parts. And should you find yourself at a loss for distraction, you can always get him to stare at that glowing rectangular object he always carries with him. These days so many patients are practically tempting themselves!

Number 2: Smugness ...

Once the patient is surrounded by a cacophony of noise, it is vitally important that the tempter move them toward self-reflection. This appears counter-intuitive, but this is also the brilliance of our research! Without any attention to the Enemy’s movements, we bring one of their greatest weapons to a grinding halt: The Examination of Conscience. We then control their self-reflection and the tempter may work on a two-horned approach: Pride and Self-Hate. 

In pride, the patient finds himself on top: he is more well-informed, better looking, more talented, more holy, more charitable…any cause or thought can be brought to profit for Our Father Below. He quickly loses any chance of real self-analysis and the more righteous he feels his cause is, the better. Without The Enemy’s guidance, he becomes food for us. 

Alongside the external pride comes the internal self-hate. Without any knowledge of the true love The Enemy has for him (which I so regrettably discovered years ago,) he begins to hate others as well. He realizes he will never match up to the constant comparisons he draws between others and himself and isolates himself. Pride and Self-Hate become circular and spirals the patient down to us in tight circles.

Number 3: Complexity ...

My cleverly concocted third step relates specifically to the more difficult patients like the one you are tempting. Their deep belief in The Enemy is one that can be hard to overcome. There is a lot of natural habit and we must gain back all the ground The Enemy has conquered. Fortunately, followers of The Enemy have given us their game plan in what they call their Creed. 

You must get your patient, with all his deep devotion, to focus on the more complicated beliefs, doctrines, and truths from The Enemy and forget entirely the basic building blocks of these first beliefs. Puff him up with pride when he knows more than someone else. Let him ridicule those who don’t understand the ‘truth of the faith.’ Let him forget the vileness of The Enemy’s relationship which is somehow the exact thing we find so repugnant: love. How I can hardly write the word! 

You will know you have finally accomplished this step when your patient becomes so opinionated and self-righteous, he shares his every thought in 240 characters! It’s even more fun when your patient is a priest! He will respond to anyone and everyone who has a different opinion and with each character he types, he will be closing his ears to The Enemy who these fools believe is actually present in the other patients. He will also be closing his inner parts to love (yuck!) and once we’ve got him in this way, anyone who speaks on behalf of The Enemy becomes his enemy! I’m nearly giddy with glee!

Number 4: Tainted Love ...

The last and final step is my favourite. The Church is the largest and biggest problem we have in bringing patients to Our Father Below. We made great strides recently in bringing patients away from it through the misdeeds of its leaders. The further away from the stench of grace the better for us. However, it is possible to tempt your patient away without him thinking he has fallen away. 

Make him fall in love with what he thinks is the Church. Make him love incense and chant more than the Eucharist. Make him love kneeling to receive that horrible Host because it makes him feel superior to his fellow patients who stand. Make him focus entirely on social justice and the sins of others and get him to forget his own personal iniquity which will bring him to us quick as you can say “Beelzebul.” Never, under any circumstances, let him see a style of liturgy or spirituality different from his own as good and of God. It becomes very hard to bring him down when he finds empathy with others. 

In Closing ...

I look forward to hearing your report on your progress with your patient. All our patients seem to be doing a very good job at destroying themselves but we mustn’t rest on our laurels. Our Father Below demands top effort all the time.

Fiendishly yours,
Screwtape

                                                                             

Kellen O’Grady is Director of Liturgy & Music at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church in Hastings, Minnesota.  He holds a Masters in Catholic Studies and chairs the Association of Liturgical Ministers for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.  He has a reputation for enjoying the finer things in life from hipster cocktails to dance and yoga.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Marian Disposition and the Pauline Charism




The Pauline Charism is both humble—“I came among you knowing nothing but Jesus Christ and him crucified”—and bold in believing in the abundance of grace given in Christ. This humility and faith can readily be traced through St. Paul’s writings to the thoughts of Blessed Fr. James Alberione. For Alberione, the disposition of humility and trust is summarized, modeled, and perfected in the life of Our Lady.  

This Marian attitude is the efficacious means that blesses and motivates Christians to live and proclaim the Good News in every dimension of life. Like Mary, we are all called to awareness and acceptance of our littleness while also looking to God who is great and who can do mighty things for those who trust Him. In truth, the Marian insight is so essential to the Pauline charism that Blessed Alberione put it frankly: 

“Know the Queen of Apostles…
When all is done for the Queen, 
progress and a good spirit 
are immediately seen. 
Make Mary Queen 
of every house. 
She will govern well, 
just as she did in the house of Nazareth.” 

Consider the practicality of Blessed Alberione’s love and devotion to Our Lady: “make Mary Queen of every house.” He likens her power to the power of a virtuous mother and wife. When a house is in disarray and the children are out of sorts, a mother can enter into the situation and clear up the confusion with a few simple phrases spoken in love and with the certitude of knowing the best way forward. Then, if the children are willing, order quickly returns and there is, once again, a sense of normalcy and peace. 

Alberione described the role of the Queen of Apostles as Mother, Teacher, and Queen. It’s an all-encompassing way of approaching Mary that echoes the height, length, depth of the power of God’s grace to transform hearts and societies. This is why the two new Marian titles by Pauline Books & Media can be remedies for our day. Drawing near Our Queen of Apostles will calm our spirits, ease our minds, and correct our vision. With her, we will have “progress and a good spirit” as we seek to live in Christ with all the fruits of the Spirits day by day and moment by moment. 

Mary Mother of Apostles: How to Live Marian Devotion to Proclaim Christ by Father Giuseppe Forlai of the Pauline Family’s Institute of Jesus the Priest is sure to enliven or renew a love for Our Lady. Drawing from Saint Louis de Montfort, Saint John Paul II, and Blessed Alberione, readers will discover Mary as the efficacious way to holiness and true evangelization.

Mary Mother of God Prayer Book will surely help people to grow in love and understanding of Our Lady’s role in our life in Christ through beloved prayers, devotions, novenas, prayers of the saints to Mary, and a guide to Marian Consecration. 


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Sister Maria Kim Bui is a member of the Daughters of Saint Paul, women religious dedicated to evangelization in and through the media.  She holds a BA in Business from Boston College and an MA in theology from the Augustine Institute. She is originally from Tempe, AZ; spent most of her seventeen years in religious life in the northeast, with some time in Texas; and was recently asked to serve as the director of marketing and sales at her community’s publishing house, Pauline Books & Media.


Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Double Down!




It can happen so easily! We begin to run, even sprint full speed ahead before we realize we’re headed in the wrong direction. Or even worse, we don’t know where we’re headed or should be headed. This has become a normal part of the current culture - some might say it’s the ‘cool-aid’ we’re drinking today. We act on emotions or fly on feelings without reflection, reason, or rational thinking.

Many people today, young and not-so-young - myself included! - forget to recall, reflect upon the purpose of life, the end goal of life, and the true reason we’re even created. Because of such lacking, whole industries (using the word intentionally) have grown up with the purpose of satisfying the every desire of our appetites and the urgings of all our senses with subtle yet debase activities. It’s all in an effort to ‘fill us’ with the things of this world with the result of keeping us from hearing the still ‘quiet’ voice that calls us by name, draws us into True Intimacy, and reveals God's deep and abiding Love for us.

Yes, from the beginning of time, each generation has been tempted by the father of Lies to believe that Our Father is not our Friend. These lies somehow seek to convince that God is our competitor or even our foe. He wants  to watch us struggle and hurt, the Lies go on. His desire is that we age and decline without the rewards of happiness in this life or eternity in the next (our purpose and goal!). But that is what it is: it’s a Lie!

Since the beginning of time, so many souls have fallen for this waywardness and succumbed to the deceit - not unrelated. The fallout of this deception is all around us right now:

  • Only one-third (1/3) of practicing Catholics today truly believe in the True Presence of the Son of GOD in the Most Blessed Sacrament - and hence really participate in the Holy Mass.
  • A ‘spiraling-out-of-control’ of addictions and overdosing, particularly among young people, has led to an escalating number of suicides awash in the wake of overwhelming hopelessness. [1]
Respectively, these two realities are more involved or complex but, suffice to ask, what will help draw people back from the cliff and back to the healing Presence of Jesus Christ?

The answer is simple. Tell our story to all who will listen. The story is the same story that changed the world 2,000 years ago and led each of us into the Pauline Family. It had power then and it still has power today! 


Jesus Christ is Risen! He alone is the Way, the Truth and the Life! 

Do you think that’s too optimistic? Too simplistic? Well, think again. Twelve men told their story: “Day after day, both in the Temple and in people’s homes, they (Apostles) continued to teach and proclaim that Jesus was the Messiah!” (Acts 5:42). It resulted in many thousands of conversions in the first few years of the humble beginnings of Christendom.

So what’s our story? We are Paulines. Our Family was born of the Eucharist and sent to counter the Bad Press (the Lies of the Evil one). Our whole mission, some 10,000+ strong Apostles around the world, is to proclaim Jesus Christ, The Way, The Truth, and the Life (Jn 14:6) in meaningful, powerful and life-changing ways. There is no Other to whom one can turn for purpose and meaning in life. And there is no One better to proclaim to the world that each of us is beautiful to behold - since alone He created us (Eccl 7:29) - and each of us is special in His eyes (Zech 2:8).

We should never tire, run out of publishing books, weary of writing blogs, or come to an end in making CDs or YouTube videos that proclaim this reality before He comes returns in His glory. Don’t let anything stop us from writing, singing, and proclaiming Jesus Christ because every life is worth saving. And every life is worth ‘stealing back’ from the Evil one, who is the father of Lies! (Eph 6:12)

To curb the hopelessness that often feeds this cultural non-belief, addictions, and despair, let’s ‘double-down’ on our prayers and our apostolic initiatives to promote the beauty and truth of the Divine Presence in the Most Blessed Sacrament. Let’s share the Good News that our daily Eucharistic Visit gives us new life for we have a Savior!

Two gifts that our Pauline Spiritual Life can offer young people is the daily Ignatian Examen and the Eucharistic Visit. Might we share how we take these rich spiritual practices into our daily lives as Paulines, increasing the Faith of Jesus in the Sacrament and the Hope of seeing God’s Divine Plan for us unfold in Mystery. Too many Catholics have not been led to experience the Divine Presence in the Eucharist which is the heart of our our religious life and our existence as a Church. And sadly, they have not experienced that their life is precious to the LORD of Life either. 

Let’s ‘double-down’ on all that makes us Paulines and let the beginning of this new century and millennium turn the tide of the last ones for the Glory of God Our Father. 

JESUS MASTER, Way, Truth and Life, have mercy on us! Queen of the Apostles, pray for us! St. Paul the Apostle, pray for us! From all sin, deliver us O LORD!



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[1] In the span of just 16 years, suicide rates among working-age Americans (aged 16-64 years) spiked 34% between 2000 and 2016, according to data from the Center for Disease Control. Among Americans aged 10-24, the spike was even more dramatic - CDC data shows a 50% increase in suicides among this group between 2000-2017. (https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/suicide-is-on-the-rise---what-can-the-catholic-church-do-to-help-94385)
                                                                                                     

Fr. Ed was ordained to the priesthood in May 2000 for the Archdiocese of Boston. He was assigned to three different parishes in the Archdiocese from 2000-2010, when he was appointed to the Faculty of Saint John's Seminary, Boston, where he is Dean of Men and Director of Pastoral Formation. He is also the Spiritual Director & Liaison in the Archdiocese to Homeschooling Families as well as the Spiritual Director for the World Apostolate of Fatima (Boston Division). He is temporary professed in the Pauline Family Institute of Jesus the Priest.



Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Jesus Speaking: Heart to Heart with the King



Jesus Speaking. Isn’t that we all really desire: to hear Jesus speaking and conversing with us? We want to hear Him speak to us as an individual, as a uniquely loved person for we are the work of his hands.

And Jesus does speak to us. He speaks to us continually and repeatedly through His Word,
through His Body present in the Eucharist, through the beauty of creation and through those
we meet throughout the day. But do we listen for his soft whispers, his gentle promptings Or are we too busy and distracted to hear his voice?

Gabrielle Bossis, a twentieth century French single woman, a writer and playwright, was busy, too, yet she heard Jesus speaking to her. She heard Him speak in a clear, distinct voice deep in her heart. At first she wondered if it was really Him, if it was really Jesus or was it just her own imagination, her own thoughts whirling through her mind. To these misgivings, to these doubts the voice said, “Sometimes you doubt that it is I speaking to you….it all seems so simple, so like yourself. But aren’t we one?”

Jesus asks the same question to each of us: aren’t we one? Each of us has been made one with Christ at our Baptism. And this union increases each time we receive Him in the Eucharist, read His Word, spend moments in prayer, or reach out to our neighbor in charity. Jesus is present in each of us. He is one with us, but are we aware of His presence? 

St. Paul speaks of this divine indwelling when he says to the Galatians, “It is no longer I, but Christ who lives in me!” (2:20Christ lives in us! He breathes in us! How utterly amazing this reality is! Gabrielle was aware of this. And because of this awareness which she cultivated and responded to, she developed a beautiful, rich and intimate friendship with Jesus.

This same intimacy is available to each one of us. Gabrielle would be the first one to agree for she sensed that the words that Jesus spoke to her and which she recorded in her journals were meant for everyone: not just for her alone. They were first published in French and then translated into English under the title, “He and I.”

To help us all develop this same intimacy with Jesus; to make Gabrielle’s conversations with
Jesus more accessible to modern, active readers who lead busy lives like Gabrielle, Pauline
Books and Media is publishing them in the form of a daily devotional, “Jesus Speaking: Heart-to-Heart with the King. It is our hope and desire that this book will help us all grow in our awareness of the nearness of Christ, and to be convinced of his great desire to be one with us.

Jesus says to Gabrielle and to us, “Fix it firmly in your mind that this presence of Me in you is not an allegory or a fantasy or a metaphor. It’s not a story you listen to or something that might have happened to someone else. It has to do with you and Me. It has to do with a reality to be lived.” May each one of us live this reality!






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Sr. Laura Rhoderica Brown made her first vows as a Daughter of St Paul in 1985 and made her final vows in 1991. She has been assigned to many of our communities in the US and currently lives and ministers in St. Louis. Here she coordinates parish and school exhibits, plans Book Center events and conducts the formation program for the local Pauline Cooperators. Sr. Laura has an MA in theology and participated in the Pauline Charism Course in Rome from 2008-2009.