st. catherine qoute

(St. Catherine of Siena)

Saturday, September 18, 2010

A new type of Martyrdom

A few weeks ago, I was going through the many books of on my wee little bookshelves and came across one called, "The Seven Sorrows of China" by Dr. Mark Miravalle. The book is first hand encounters of Miravalle's travels to China observing the great persecution of the Catholic Church, including forced abortions on women for the one child policy, rampant use of contraception/euthanasia/abortion, the underground extent of the Church, and martyrdom of faithful of many Chinese Catholics. It was powerful, amazing, and sad all at once.

Last night, I went to a talk from a priest who escaped Communist Albania. He grew up in a country where if you even suspected of going to church or living the Catholic faith, you were thrown in prison for years on end or killed. Fr. Fred shared how his parents stopped talking about their faith, for fear of their lives. As a young man, he happened to come across the Gospel of St. Matthew, which through the grace of the Spirit began to answer all his unanswered questions; with that, he began to hear the call of the priesthood deep within. The Communists were suspicious of him, so he and some friends decided to escape by swimming seven hours over the border. Eventually, Fr. Fred made it to the United States and became a priest in the Church.
These two different incidents have caused me to reflect and pray over many things. How much we take for granted here in the United States! Fr. Fred made a good point when he said, "You didn't just wake up one day, and Communism takes over your country, it happens slowly over time." This made me reflect on our own lives here. Slowly, we see the traditional values and fundamentals of Christianity being ridiculed and slowly stripped away from our society. From taking prayer out of public schools, not saying the name of God in the pledge of allegiance, the faith being mocked and persecuted in the media, etc. Are faithful Christians asleep at the wheel?
I am not a person who is pessimistic or is consumed with all the doom and gloom ideologies you sometimes hear about. But, I truly believe within my lifetime we will see and perhaps endure to a degree what many Catholics have and continue to suffer all over the world for their faith. We will have to suffer for our belief in Jesus and our faithfulness to the Church in a way we have never known here in the United States...maybe even martyrdom. Even though it can be easy to look at the world and get discouraged, I believe that although it is a challenging time to be a person of faith, it is also an exciting time! No matter whatever suffering we encounter, we know that Jesus will win! T continue fighting the good fight and to be ready to follow Jesus anywhere we must be people of prayer and sacrifice. We must go to Mass and receive the sacraments often! We must read Scripture and have an intimately, personal relationship with the living Jesus. We must actively live our Catholic faith out in the world, and not be afraid to speak the truth boldly! We must be passionately in love with Jesus Christ to the point all of the early martyrs of the Church were, to the point of giving our life for the name of Jesus Christ.

United in the bonds of prayer and through the Holy Eucharist, let each of us continue to pray for our country, national and world leaders, and all countries of the world. Let us pray for especially all area's of the world where the Catholic Church is heavily persecuted or forced to go underground, such as China.
May the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus, bless and protect all the faithful!

Below is the Holy Father's letter to the Catholic Church in China:

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The best thing since sliced bread...

A few weekends ago, I wrote a Youth Ministry bulletin article as I usually do for one of the parishes I work at. In promoting Youth Ministry, I was the phrase "the best thing since sliced bread" in referring to the Catholic faith.

I happen to think that the Catholic Church IS the best thing since sliced bread...particularly the Holy Eucharist (which I will later come back too). Now if you are not a Catholic Christian please do not take offense to my statement; this is just pure Patty's passionate and love bubbling over.
For a time in my teen years, I was "Catholic" and would go to Mass on Sunday's because my parents made me. I didn't know why I went, whom I was receiving, or what all that sitting/standing/kneeling was for (AKA-"Catholic aerobics"). I would be standing reciting the Apostle's Creed, (which thousands of early Christians shed their blood for those very words of our Faith) and be off in lala land wondering if there was any left cherry pie in the fridge for lunch later. I just didn't get it, and I just didn't care. I had no personal relationship with Jesus.
Towards the end of high school, there were some incidents that plunged me into dark depression and hopelessness; pretty much the pits of Hell. For some reason, I began going to daily Mass the summer after I graduated high school; didn't really know why at the time, but each time I left, I felt like I was leaving with strength to get through the day ahead of me. Now I know it was because I received Jesus Christ, body, blood, soul, and divinity in Holy Communion. I was very much in a crisis of faith, and honestly began trying it out as one last try. I began going to pray daily in a nearby chapel where I could sit with Jesus in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament. Sometimes I would just sit and be still, cry, talk with Jesus, or let it all out and be mad at Him. One particular time, I was sitting there crying and said something to the effect of: "Jesus if you are REAL, if this Catholic thing is real, you need to come out that gold, shiny box (AKA tabernacle) and heal me. I am so lost and broken and unhappy, that you gotta do it." Now the skies didn't split open and Jesus didn't descend from Heaven and instantly stand before me, but in the deepest part of my heart, I knew Jesus heard that first real prayer of my life. The long story short, is that Jesus began this journey with me in a much more personal way, because I asked Him. Jesus is real to me now, and I am constantly striving for a more intimate relationship with him each day.

The Holy Eucharist, the same living Jesus that walked this earth is truly present in that little host and in a drop of that wine; NOW that is the best thing since sliced bread. Jesus loved humanity so much that he promised the Apostles He would never leave them. He kept that promise by remaining humbly (body, blood, soul, and divinity in the bread and wine) until the end of time. If you don't believe in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, then read John chapter 6 "The Bread of Life Discourse". Jesus told his disciples, "My flesh IS true food, my blood IS true drink" and also "If you do not eat the flesh of the Son of Man, you will not have life within you." Either Jesus is a Lord, Liar, or Lunatic, the possibilities could be either: 1)Lord-Jesus is true and as God what he is saying is truth which takes the gift of faith. 2)Liar-Jesus is a liar and making this up. 3)Lunatic-Jesus was crazy and totally off is rocker.
If Jesus Christ is wrong about the real presence of himself in the Holy Eucharist, than you may as well spit on his face! BUT, see Jesus said, "This is me! this(the action of the Mass) in remembrance of me!" If Jesus is lying about the bread and wine TRULY being His body and blood then you may as well throw your Bible into the trash can right now! Yup, you heard me right. LONG before we had the Holy Bible the early Christians, believed in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist (read accounts from St. Justin Martyr and "The Diadache"). Mass was celebrated in the early Christian church very similar in ways still today as in the Catholic Mass u to the same prayers, gestures, and actions/responses of the people present. If you believe that the Holy Bible is the Word of God, than you better believe in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. Jesus loved YOU so much that He gave himself in the Holy Eucharist to remind us He is always close to us and will never abandon you. If you don' understand this teaching of the Church, or personally do not believe it, I challenge you to study and begin to understand it. It is a great mystery that takes faith, but all you have to do is simply ask for that gift of faith and understanding.


I don't know about you, but I think that is something definitely better than sliced bread. :-)