Archive | August, 2012

Random Thoughts in Prayer

27 Aug

Faith in God is far from superstition! Stand solid and trust in the Lord! Read on!

 Why do the nations protest and the peoples grumble in vain? Kings on earth rise up and princes plot together against the Lord and his anointed:

“Let us break their shackles and cast off their chains!”  Ps 2:1-2

This seems to be the attitude of secular powers – the attitude that believers are shackled and chained and enslaved to quaint or even dangerous superstitions. I am reminded of something I wrote many years ago and it seems to be a good response to those who would set us “free.”

A man who is free in a circumstance of freedom may not be truly free. He may be only a creature of circumstance. But a man who is free in a circumstance of “unfreedom” is truly a man – a free man.

 The remaining survivors of the house of Judah shall strike root below and bear fruit above. For out of Jerusalem shall come a remnant, and from Mount Zion, survivors. The zeal of the Lord of hosts shall do this.  Is 37:31-32

For many years this idea of a remnant has surfaced among Christians who see rampant wickedness in the world. They expressed trust in God’s word that, in his zeal, God will save a remnant which will remain faithful and begin again to bear fruit for his kingdom – more believers and workers in his vineyard.

It seems this position was a bit prophetic. Many Christians seem to be so in name only: Truth is what you want it to be – you can pick and choose from the Scriptures and Tradition only those things which cause you the least discomfort – and challenge!

Pray for the Church, for true disciples who will profess faith publicly, prophetically and effectively.

 

 

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Declan is coming!

22 Aug

Just a portion – about one-third – of the Libersat clan. Taken at a family reunion in Louisiana circa 2008.

He doesn’t know me. I’ve never seen him – and he’s never seen me. But he’s coming. Our great grandson. Number – 23, 24? Whatever, he’s coming.

 When I’m asked about my family – sometimes I don’t wait to be asked – I try to humbly, but unashamedly, crow about seven children, 21 grandchildren and 24 great grandchildren and two step great grandsons. And, of course, there are the spouses of children and grandchildren – and we consider all of them as family.

 People’s reactions to that proclamation of family size vary from disbelief to downright disgust and from surprise to joy. I guess it depends on how much people are actually open to the gift of new life. It might also depend, in some cases, on how people value the two great purposes of marriage: first, to love another selflessly and to help one another grow in holiness and, second, to bring forth new life into the world.

 I say “in some cases” because there are people who value new life but find it better for some good reason to space the birth of their children. There are couples who do so by natural means, and those who choose artificial contraception.

 Such decisions are a matter of conscience and the Christian conscience must be formed by Scripture and the moral determinations made by the Church under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Whatever! Declan is coming! All the way from New York State. He’s coming on a jet plane.

 Why the excitement? When I see Declan I will see my grandson and his wife, my daughter and her husband, and Peg and myself — and all the rest of our family. I will remember my parents, both sets of grandparents and their ancestors before them. I will see family, the continuation of family, the mysterious gift of human life, the promise of continuity, the invitation to eternal life.

 Yes, indeed! Declan is coming – and, his mom, too. His dad, our grandson, can’t come now, but there are promises of all of them being here for Christmas.

May it please the Lord!

Marriage and the Year of Faith

20 Aug

“In rediscovering (Christ’s) love day by day, the missionary commitment of believers attains force and vigour that can never fade away. Faith … makes us fruitful, because it expands our hearts in hope and enables us to bear life-giving witness: indeed it opens the hearts and minds of those who listen to respond to the Lord’s invitation to adhere to his word and become his disciples” (pope Benedict V, “Porta Fidei,” No. 7)

Marriage is rooted in that agape love of Christ and his disciples; it is given to man and woman for personal sanctification and for providing a safe place for their children.
But is it not more? How can sacramental marriage impact our Year of Faith? (Vatican Council II, “Decree on the Apostolate of Lay People,” No. 11.)

St. Paul teaches that the love of husband and wife mirrors the love of Christ and his Church. The wife dies to self; she submits to the marriage all that she is for the sake of their union — and the husband dies to self for the sake of his wife; he submits all that he is to the marriage. It is in  this mutual dying to self that love grows and marriage endures.

The priest shortage rightfully prompts us to pray for vocations to the priesthood. However, with so many marriages “on the rocks,” I don’t sense the same anxious concern over the shortage of successful, fruitful and productive marriages. And we need such marriages for the successful mission of the Church.

The U.S. bishops have plainly stated that marriage and family are part and parcel of the mission of the Church: “A culture of witness is sustained in the Church through marriage and the family. … It is within the Sacrament of Matrimony that husband and wife evangelize, become evangelized, and share their witness of the faith to their children and to society” (“Disciples Called to Witness. The New Evangelization,” U.S. Bishops, section on “The Christian Family.”)

A holy married couple is a Eucharistic presence in the world. They mirror the passion of Christ for the salvation of the world. Theirs is a sacrament of service – caring for their own, but also enfolding friends, neighbors and needy people in their familial embrace. They provide witness to the Christian meaning of hospitality (to make a safe place) ; they embody sacrificial love; they live for one another and their children – but they live also for the world and in the world where their faith can have a tremendous impact.

Marriage brings together into one flesh, mind, heart and spirit two committed disciples of Christ. Two lay people, made one in Christ, who are “to work so that the divine message of salvation may be known and accepted by all men throughout the world.” … “They fulfill their prophetic mission by evangelization, ‘that is the proclamation of Christ by word and the testimony of life'” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, Nos. 900 and 905).

Marriage is indeed a missionary, Eucharistic and evangelizing force for the Church’s mission – and, therefore, an important consideration in our Year of Faith.

Life is precious

17 Aug

New life — soft, helpless, totally dependent. A reminder of how fragile life is, also how precious and enduring. The gift of life: pass it on, nurture it, bless it; hold it in reverence.

In all honesty, it seems to me, that radical feminists belittle women who want to make their families a priority, who do not think of themselves as baby factories simply because they want more than two or three children. (I remember telling one young woman who didn’t want more than one child, herself the fourth in her family, “I bet you’re glad your mom didn’t feel that way.”)

This radical stance against new life, along with those “enlightened freethinkers” who support gay marriages, is rooted in a falsehood so deep and twisted that, perhaps falling short of diabolical, it is at least perverted. But then, it would seem by their standards that people of faith are not enlightened; they are not free thinkers.

People of faith are indeed free – and they are thinkers who weigh all factors in making a decision about how they will live as whole human beings. They give attention to how they fit into God’s creation – how they are part and parcel of God’s plan for the world.

How can anyone respect a “liberation” that negates the very dignity of the human person, that equates truth with anyone’s personal preference and calls a human in the womb mere matter? And it is mystifying that any woman (or man) who claims to be Catholic can publicly or even privately support abortion.

Years ago, I wrote an editorial for The Florida Catholic weekly newspaper in which I stole a line from a dear friend: “If you are so much in favor of abortion, why not make it retroactive?” Even the liberal daily picked that one up.

I think these “liberated” women are actually victims of ignorance or have consciously rejected God-revealed truth. If victims, they are victims of manipulation by forces in society that, again through malice or error, want to make humans their own creator and subject to nothing that causes any strain to the brain – or discomfort to the big, all important “ME.”

God is Creator and Father. He created you to be free – gave you free will and intelligence. God leaves you free to enter into the highest freedom – into a communion of love with him and all others, and the strength and power to do so. The real issue is human life – the dignity and sacredness of human life and true happiness and the utmost experience of freedom.

Can I Really Love God?

11 Aug

I know God loves me.

I am told I should love God.

I try to love God,
    but I think I am an imposter.

If I truly love you, Lord,
    why do I continue to fail you,
    to fall into the same traps and sins
    over and over again?

Why do I fail my family and friends?
    Why do I fail myself – making promises
    I never seem to keep?

And yet I do love you –as inadequate and weak
    as my love might be, I do love you.

Your love, Lord, is like an ocean.
    My love is only a small raindrop.

And yet, Lord, you embrace my love
    as the ocean envelopes the raindrop.
    You receive my love, you receive me
    and make me one with you.

Henry Libersat, 8-11-12

Want to miss out?

8 Aug
Sometimes, the choices facing you seem a bit mixed up; maybe you think you are on the right path, but then someone tries to throw d0ubts your way. 

In a movie, “Listen to Your Heart,” a musician falls in love with a woman who as a child had lost hearing and speech. A friend was urging him to dump her, arguing that he could never have a fully satisfying relationship with someone who could not share his love for music.

The musician responded, “I’m not going to miss out on something great just because it might be hard.”

At Men’s Bible Study, we have been reflecting on our gospel readings for August, namely, the sixth chapter of John.

An important observation was made: “If I had been present when Jesus preached these words, would I have run off with the disbelievers?”

We receive this message now with the gift of faith, with 2,000 years of Tradition and the witness of martyrs to seal our belief in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Most Holy Eucharist.

But a second observation was made: “We go to Mass all the time – could not the Mass and Communion  just become something of habit and not really meaningful?”

And here is the question we face today: Do we really believe what we say we believe?

Is it possible for a person can remain in apathy, in an unmoved and unmoving presence, in the face of so great a gift, so great a mystery as the Real Presence? Perhaps, but such a person will soon realize that apathy never replaces sadness with joy, loneliness with belonging and ignorance with understanding. I see a difference between apathy and disappointment, between fear and cowardice, between isolation and involvement. A lot of people today are terribly disappointed and somewhat fearful for their future. They are frustrated by what is happening in our nation – persecution of religion, widespread unemployment, vitriol and pettiness between political parties and candidates for office.

But if you believe in God’s Word and receive faithfully the sacraments of the Church, you are not ignorant or cowards or lonely. You may be frustrated and a bit fearful, but you are not depressed or sad or hopeless.

It’s true to human nature that at times we come to Mass and can’t seem to be “present” to God and community. But these occasions become fewer as faithful Catholics take time to prepare for Mass: Before Sunday, they reflect on the Scripture to be read at Mass; they ask the Holy Spirit to fill them with awe and reverence as well as understanding ; they focus on the reality of the Mass – that great mystery that enables us to stand, in this time and place, under the Cross of Christ, to witness personally our own redemption through the passion and death of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

When we receive the Eucharist, we receive the Real Presence of Jesus, his Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. We‘ve said and heard this truth over the last few weeks. But receiving the Eucharist in faith and trust is not the end of the story.

We must become Eucharist. We must become Christ. If we are the Body of Christ, his faithful Church, we are Christ and we have to do the work of the Lord.

Sure, it’s hard work. It’s hard to force your tired and distracted mind to focus on the reality of God and Salvation; it’s hard to admit your sins and to tame your pride as you seek reconciliation with God and the Church. It’s hard to stand over against the engrained evils in society – the tendency to make oneself the center of the universe, the efforts to reduce truth to one’s own preferences and pleasures. But the Cross was hard, too.

It’s hard – but the challenge remains for each of us: “I’m not going to miss out on something great just because it might be hard.”

Perfect Strength in Weakness?

3 Aug

Sometimes, it’s like being frozen in place — wanting to move forward, unsure what that might mean. Where do you go? Where is the answer?

Three times I begged the Lord that this might leave me. He said to me, “My grace is enough for you, for in weakness power reaches perfection.” And so I willingly boast of my weaknesses instead, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  (2 Cor 12:8-9)

St. Paul gives us this treasure, this well of hope, as he talks about how Satan was tormenting him, about his weakness in the face of evil.

He proclaims this marvelous truth: “And so I willingly boast of my weaknesses instead, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

The “power” is clear – it is Christ, his grace and his redeeming love.

But what is this “weakness” about which Paul is boasting? Is it his cringing from the power of Satan, or is it his tendency toward sin?

Though I thought that was his “weakness” and tried to see that in my own life, I’ve come to another realization: The “weakness” about which we can and should boast is our inability to change our life on our own. We are too weak for that. This weakness is our ticket to sanctity and eternal life – because it makes us totally dependent on Christ, his power, his grace, his redeeming love.

St. Paul after insisting that we preach only “Jesus Christ as Lord,” goes on to say, “But we hold this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing power may be of God and not from us” (2 Cor 4:5-7).

So, some food for thought:

  • Stop fighting Satan – run to Jesus for he has already won the battle.
  • Say you’re in church and you know that the person preaching is, like yourself, an earthen vessel, a cracked pot – see the power of Christ coming through this wounded sinner.
  • Even though you are a cracked pot yourself, and you leak very badly, keep on coming to God – to Reconciliation and Eucharist – for refills. Eventually, the cracks will begin to heal.
  • Place all your trust in the Lord; surrender to God and he will do everything for you; forgive yourself because God forgives you and you are not smarter than God.
  • Persevere! Persevere! Persevere!

AMEN!