“Hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” -Romans 5:5
Prayer… draws everything into the love by which we are loved in Christ and which enables us to respond to him by loving as he has loved us. Love is the source of prayer; whoever draws from it reaches the summit of prayer. In the words of the Cure of Ars:
I love you, O my God, and my only desire is to love you until the last breath of my life. I love you, O my infinitely lovable God, and I would rather die loving you, than live without loving you. I love you, Lord, and the only grace I ask is to love you eternally. . . . My God, if my tongue cannot say in every moment that I love you, I want my heart to repeat it to you as often as I draw breath. (St Jean Vianney, Prayer)
Catechism of the Catholic Church, par. 2658
[T]he human person has a right to religious freedom. This freedom means that all men are to be immune from coercion on the part of individuals or of social groups and of any human power, in such wise that no one is to be forced to act in a manner contrary to his own beliefs, whether privately or publicly, whether alone or in association with others, within due limits.
The council further declares that the right to religious freedom has its foundation in the very dignity of the human person as this dignity is known through the revealed word of God and by reason itself. This right of the human person to religious freedom is to be recognized in the constitutional law whereby society is governed and thus it is to become a civil right.
It is in accordance with their dignity as persons-that is, beings endowed with reason and free will and therefore privileged to bear personal responsibility-that all men should be at once impelled by nature and also bound by a moral obligation to seek the truth, especially religious truth. They are also bound to adhere to the truth, once it is known, and to order their whole lives in accord with the demands of truth.
…the highest norm of human life is the divine law-eternal, objective and universal-whereby God orders, directs and governs the entire universe and all the ways of the human community by a plan conceived in wisdom and love. Man has been made by God to participate in this law, with the result that, under the gentle disposition of divine Providence, he can come to perceive ever more fully the truth that is unchanging. Wherefore every man has the duty, and therefore the right, to seek the truth in matters religious in order that he may with prudence form for himself right and true judgments of conscience, under use of all suitable means.
Truth, however, is to be sought after in a manner proper to the dignity of the human person and his social nature. The inquiry is to be free, carried on with the aid of teaching or instruction, communication and dialogue, in the course of which men explain to one another the truth they have discovered, or think they have discovered, in order thus to assist one another in the quest for truth.
Moreover, as the truth is discovered, it is by a personal assent that men are to adhere to it.
On his part, man perceives and acknowledges the imperatives of the divine law through the mediation of conscience. In all his activity a man is bound to follow his conscience in order that he may come to God, the end and purpose of life. It follows that he is not to be forced to act in a manner contrary to his conscience. Nor, on the other hand, is he to be restrained from acting in accordance with his conscience, especially in matters religious. The reason is that the exercise of religion, of its very nature, consists before all else in those internal, voluntary and free acts whereby man sets the course of his life directly toward God. No merely human power can either command or prohibit acts of this kind. The social nature of man, however, itself requires that he should give external expression to his internal acts of religion: that he should share with others in matters religious; that he should profess his religion in community. Injury therefore is done to the human person and to the very order established by God for human life, if the free exercise of religion is denied in society, provided just public order is observed.
Paul VI, The Declaration of Religious Freedom, par 2 & 3.
(Vatican Council II)
Ten Principles of Civil Communication: A great way to engage conversation and the new evangelization!
Yes, you too can be an evangelist in your own way.
Thanks to Catholic Voices, a lot more people are being trained in communication of the Catholic faith in the media and marketplace of ideas. I really benefitted from their training, and I heartily recommend Austin Ivereigh’s book, around which much of the training revolved: How to Defend the Faith Without Raising Your Voice.
With this great pamphlet, “Ten Principles of Civil Communication”, you’ll get a short cut to remembering the best ideas and best practices for sharing our Catholic faith in the media, and in conversations with family, friends, colleagues, and strangers.
The Top 3 principles are these:
1. Look for the positive intention behind the criticism.
2. Shed light, not heat.
3. People won’t remember so much of what you said, but how you made them feel.
A note of caution, you’ve got to buy this pamphlet in sets of 50, that’s just how its sold. Naturally, the publisher thinks the majority of people buying it are purchasing it for parishes, dioceses, or organizations. And if you work in a church, or a Catholic organization, you should share these principles with your membership. My bible study group and local friends are getting a copy of this as soon as my batch of 50 is shipped to me.
Meanwhile, I’m writing to the publisher today and suggesting it be able to sold in smaller quantities, too. But in the absence of actually buying a personal copy, by all means read through the PDF pamphlet and get a tune-up on your ability to witness for the Church.
We are still in Divine Mercy’s wake.
Here’s a powerful testimony from my pal, Kitty Cleveland, and the answer to prayer that her family received during the Divine Mercy novena.
You may remember my interview last year with singer-songwriter, Kitty Cleveland.
Jesus Christ is the face of the Father’s mercy. These words might well sum up the mystery of the Christian faith. Mercy has become living and visible in Jesus of Nazareth, reaching its culmination in him. The Father, “rich in mercy” (Eph 2:4), after having revealed his name to Moses as “a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness” (Ex 34:6), has never ceased to show, in various ways throughout history, his divine nature. In the “fullness of time” (Gal 4:4), when everything had been arranged according to his plan of salvation, he sent his only Son into the world, born of the Virgin Mary, to reveal his love for us in a definitive way. Whoever sees Jesus sees the Father (cf. Jn 14:9). Jesus of Nazareth, by his words, his actions, and his entire person reveals the mercy of God.
We need constantly to contemplate the mystery of mercy. It is a wellspring of joy, serenity, and peace. Our salvation depends on it. Mercy: the word reveals the very mystery of the Most Holy Trinity. Mercy: the ultimate and supreme act by which God comes to meet us. Mercy: the fundamental law that dwells in the heart of every person who looks sincerely into the eyes of his brothers and sisters on the path of life. Mercy: the bridge that connects God and man, opening our hearts to a hope of being loved forever despite our sinfulness.
Mercy is the very foundation of the Church’s life. All of her pastoral activity should be caught up in the tenderness she makes present to believers; nothing in her preaching and in her witness to the world can be lacking in mercy. The Church’s very credibility is seen in how she shows merciful and compassionate love. The Church “has an endless desire to show mercy.” [Evangelii Gaudium, 24.] Perhaps we have long since forgotten how to show and live the way of mercy. The temptation, on the one hand, to focus exclusively on justice made us forget that this is only the first, albeit necessary and indispensable step. But the Church needs to go beyond and strive for a higher and more important goal. On the other hand, sad to say, we must admit that the practice of mercy is waning in the wider culture. It some cases the word seems to have dropped out of use. However, without a witness to mercy, life becomes fruitless and sterile, as if sequestered in a barren desert. The time has come for the Church to take up the joyful call to mercy once more. It is time to return to the basics and to bear the weaknesses and struggles of our brothers and sisters. Mercy is the force that reawakens us to new life and instills in us the courage to look to the future with hope.
[W]e live in a time of deep worldly skepticism about any “bigger plan” or higher meaning to human experience. For many people, the human person is little more than an accident of evolution; carbon atoms with an attitude. In other words, for many people we have no higher purpose than whatever meaning we create for ourselves.
In an era of sophisticated technology and material wealth, that kind of reasoning without God can sound plausible. But in the end it’s too small a vision of who we are as women and men. It undermines human dignity. It leaves starving souls hungry. It is not true.
In fact, we yearn for meaning.
With so many conflicting answers, our age is a confusing time. Many people today honestly seek meaning, but don’t know whom to trust or where to commit their lives.
Amid this uncertainty, Christians are people who trust in Jesus Christ. Despite the ambiguities of human history, the Catholic way of hope and joy, love and service grounds itself in an encounter with Jesus. As Saint John Paul II proclaimed in his first encyclical: “in man’s history, [the] revelation of love and mercy has taken the form and name: that of Jesus Christ. Everything follows from that. Jesus Christ is the basis of Christian faith.” – Love is Our Mission, Catechesis for the World Meeting of Families, 2015
Tribute: Lauren Hill, #22 “Live well to the grace of the moment. Do your best and leave the rest to God.”
What an inspiration you are, Lauren!
On Lauren’s honorary degree and more. From that post: Lauren lives out the words of St. Elizabeth Seton: “Live well to the grace of the moment. Do your best and leave the rest to God.”