Persevering through the “dark night of the soul”

Posted at Catholic Insight

dark night of the soulI know someone who is going through a spiritually dark time. When I think of this person, the word that comes to mind is “trial.” It seems to me that God is trying this person through a series of events that give rise to many questions and doubts. What impresses me is the person’s response. Amidst the questions about God’s silence in times of suffering and confusion, a profession of faith and abandonment to God’s Will always follows. To my mind, this person is experiencing what St. John of the Cross called the “dark night of the soul.”

Many great saints have written about this state of emptiness, coldness, the seeming absence of God. The most famous work comes from St. John of the Cross who explained that this is a period of “purgative contemplation.” In this time of spiritual darkness, God seems no where to be found. Gone are all spiritual consolations, supernatural signs, enlightenment. Instead there is confusion, unknowing, lack of direction, and a great big dark, empty void.

This state of purgative contemplation may last for weeks, months, even years. It’s up to God to decide how much refining the soul needs. During this time, the poor soul struggles to cling to God by being faithful to prayer, good works, and Holy Mother Church. Devoid of any rewards and solace from God, eventually the person begins to love God for His own sake, not for what He can do. The person grows in humility as he understands the truth that our love for God must reflect God’s love for us. And so, while still in darkness, there is joy; and while there is a keen awareness of one’s sinfulness, the soul knows that God is merciful and loves us as only a perfect Father can. The person becomes resigned to his flawed humanity and abandons himself to Divine Providence. He unites his sufferings and longing for God to the sufferings of Jesus. But the soul is not sorrowful. In faith and with trust in Divine Providence, life is purposeful and joyful as he puts his confidence in a silent God.

Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta suffered a terrible darkness of the soul. For fifty years, she lived without the consolation of Jesus; but with great faith and longing for Him, she persevered in the work she knew He wanted from her. She wrote: “in my heart there is no faith – no love – no trust – there is so much pain – the pain of longing, the pain of not being wanted. I want God with all the powers of my soul – and yet there between us  – there is a terrible separation.”

The pain deepened over the years but she learned to accept it, even to the point of loving it. She recognized her nothingness before God and understood that He was using her in her poverty. She became completely empty of self; in conversation and in her letters, she directed the focus to Jesus in His work among the poor and in her community.

In a letter to Father Joseph Neuner, Mother Teresa explained that in her soul’s darkness, she was sharing in Jesus’ pain, and that she was united with Him in His suffering. In her “unbroken union” with Him, she felt His agony, His cross; and in this union, she loved Him in the people around her, recognizing Him in their suffering.

Helping others discover God’s presence in their suffering was a gift that she tirelessly gave. In a letter to a friend, she wrote:  “suffering, pain – failure – is but a kiss of Jesus, a sign that you have come so close to Jesus on the Cross that he can kiss you. I think this is the most beautiful definition of suffering. So let us be happy when Jesus stoops down to kiss us. I hope we are close enough that He can do it.”

Mother Teresa learned to reflect God’s love through the darkness she endured and with great wisdom, she was able to guide others experiencing the same pain. “Don’t give in to your feelings,” she explained to one of her followers, “God is permitting this.”

God is permitting this, too, in the person that I know. In a mysterious, painful, but grace-filled way, God is purifying and drawing this person closer to Himself. In response, this person is steadfast in faith, praying and trusting that God in His wisdom knows what is best.

We have much to learn from known and unknown saints who persevered and continue to be unremitting in times of darkness. They are powerful examples of abandonment, humility, obedience, faith, confidence, and trust. While they feel a deep void in their souls, we see them as great lights who shine with the promise of God’s love.

Source: Kolodiejchuk, B. (Ed.). (2007). Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light. The Private Writings of the “Saint of Calcutta”. New York. Doubleday.

Photo by Miguel Virkkunen Carvalho, Finland. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution  2.0 Generic license. Wikimedia.org

 

 

 

 

 

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Interview with a working mom

510NQZSigXL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_Author, blogger, speaker Erin McCole Cupp has a new short work of biblical historical fiction called Working Mother. The description of the story is as follows:

With her husband disabled and out of work and her child in mortal danger,a mother must leave her family and find work so they can all survive.The husband’s name is Joseph. The child’s name is Jesus.The working mother is Mary.

Working Mother is available as a Kindle download over at Amazon. Please do pay a visit and make sure you read the many glowing reviews.

To mark the release of her ebook, Erin is celebrating working moms among us. Today, I am honoured to be featured in the series of interviews. I am doubly graced because my interview comes out on today’s feast of St. Marguerite Bourgeoys, a fellow Canadian, and the Sister who founded the  Congregation of Notre Dame. The CND Sisters taught me in high school.

Here’s the link to my interview: Interview with working mother, Terry McDermott

 

 

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Prayer for a Friday Morning

st benedict's prayer bookO my God, I offer You all my thoughts, words, actions, and sufferings, and I beseech You to give me Your grace that I may not offend You this day, but may faithfully serve You and do Your Will in all things. Amen.

 

Source: Saint Benedict’s Prayer Book. (1993). Great Britain:  Ampleforth Abbey Press

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Transforming weak Catholic families

Also posted at Catholic Insight.

786px-Familio_(Schumacher,_Katholisches_Religionsbüchlein)_002When you teach two classes of First Reconciliation and First Communion candidates on most Saturday mornings, you learn a lot about other families’ prayer lives. It doesn’t take long to see who prays at home and who doesn’t. I have come to the point where I am not surprised but remain disappointed that so many of the children can’t make a proper Sign of the Cross and don’t know the words to the Our Father and Hail Mary. Little children are not to blame for their lack of knowledge in the basics of the Catholic faith; the fault likes squarely with their parents. When I point out to some of them that they need to pray at home regularly with their young children, I am often met with excuses, embarrassment, or indifference.

It would be easy to look down on Catholic parents who don’t teach their children to pray, don’t bring them to Mass, don’t teach them about our glorious Faith, and don’t follow Church teachings, but what would that gain for the universal Catholic family of faith? We are all part of this family, all parts of the Mystical Body of Christ with our unique part to play. Just as the physical body is only as strong as its weakest organ, and a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, so is the Mystical Body of Christ on earth only as strong as its weakest members. Among its most fragile members are Catholic families who don’t fully embrace the Faith.

As a catechist, my role is very clear: prepare the children of my parish to receive the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Holy Communion. But we who try to daily live in Christ are all catechists and it is our brothers and sisters who are only nominally Catholic that we need to catechize first. Instead of criticizing, condemning, and abandoning these Catholic families, let’s do something different: let’s gently and charitably show them what they’re missing. By our prayers, and the life in Christ we try to live in our families, we are a beacon of light illuminating Catholic family life as good, noble, and attainable.

Even the strongest Catholic family is imperfect. Devout families may have to deal with a crisis of faith in one (or some) of their children, or in one of the parents. If we address these crises in a spirit of humility and trust, if we storm heaven with our prayers, and if we are charitable to the person undergoing the trial of faith, then this too is an example and a sign of hope and strength for other families.

Our churches ought to do more to reach out to families who are weak in the practice of the Faith. My archdiocese  (and I suspect many other dioceses) pours money into youth and young adult ministries but often the parents of our young people are not given the same encouragement, opportunities and resources to strengthen their families.  Parents need homilies that inspire and support them in their role as their children’s primary educators in the Faith, and parish programs ought to catechize parents so that they can catechize their children. Parish priests, encourage families to attend Eucharistic Adoration that is scheduled for easy access by families; instead of Youth Masses that separate children from their parents, inspire families to attend Holy Mass together. A very wise former pastor observed that the family, the Domestic Church,  is the foundation of the Church and he made it his mission to support his parish families. Even now, my family continues to benefit greatly from his legacy of strong leadership.

On the Feast of the Holy Family, Pope Francis addressed the Italian Association of Large Families. He quoted this passage from Pope Saint John-Paul II’s encyclical, Familiaris Consortio: “Families should grow in awareness of being ‘protagonists’ of what is known as ‘family politics’ and assume responsibility for transforming society; otherwise families will be the first victims of the evil that they have done no more than note with indifference.” (Familiaris Consortio, 44) A strong Catholic Church depends on faithful families. In our parishes and in society, the first people we ought to transform through our prayers, resources, and actions are Catholic families where God has largely been forgotten.

Drawing: Family During Common Prayer by Philipp Schumacher (1866-1940). In the public domain.

 

 

 

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St. Therese and my New Year’s Resolution to offer it up

Also posted at Catholic Insight

Happy_New_year_6_pointed_stars.svgThe inspiration for my New Year’s resolution came to me as I cautiously steered my car along a snow-covered, traffic-snarled road on my morning commute. The snow continued to fall, the roads were a congested mess, and the misery of impatient commuters added to the general unpleasantness of the day.

It was the perfect scenario for complaining about my lot in life: the remnants of a cold that didn’t want to leave me, the stressful drive to work, and the busy day ahead. My pity party was just getting started.

Staring out the car window (because traffic wasn’t moving), my mind wandered to the book assigned by my spiritual director, The Passion of Therese of Lisieux. Although she is my patron saint, St. Therese was never one of my favourite saints; but when my spiritual director advises me to read a specific book as he places it in my hand, I know better than to question him.

The account of St. Therese’s final months and days is fascinating. It shows how a young woman so desirous of God bore her excruciating pain and suffering with good cheer and fortitude, never losing concern for those around her. In the midst of great difficulty in breathing that was alleviated only by sitting up with arms extended in the form of a cross, and propped up on the shoulders of two supporting Sisters, St. Therese somehow managed to utter little puns and word plays that elicited laughter from those surrounding her death bed. In her concern for the Sisters, she wished to alleviate their sorrow at her imminent death.

But St. Therese was only human and “like any other sick person [she] suffered, groaned, and cried. Then she would doze off to sleep, have nightmares, or know insomnia while all around her were sleeping. Like many others – the vast majority – there were times when she felt incapable of praying, incapable of saying or having ‘beautiful thoughts.'”

Still, unlike most of us, even in her agony Therese always saw “the good side of things.” Her explanation for her constant optimism was simple: “I should not be as I am if the good God did not make me see that the only joy on earth is to do His Will.” In her steadfast desire to love God, she offered Him everything knowing that abandoning herself totally to Him would please Him and save souls.

As I sat in traffic bemoaning my misfortune, it finally occurred to me that I was wasting a golden opportunity. What would St. Therese do? Why, offer it up, of course. And she would probably throw in a play on words for good measure. So in the spirit of my patron saint, I offered up the frustration of the morning and prayed: “Lord, if this is what you want for me right now, then I offer it up for whatever You want.” Immediately, I felt much calmer and more cheerful.

And that’s how I arrived at my New Year’s resolution. St. Therese taught me that the only good resolution is one that leads me closer to God and has as its goal only to please Him by an act of total abandonment and humble offering. Therefore, instead of wallowing in self-pity, I resolve to quietly, joyfully, faithfully, humbly offer up the inconveniences of daily life, the aches, illnesses, and pains of my imperfect  aging body, and all the other little and not-so-little crosses the Good Lord wishes to give me. With God’s grace I will offer them up for the love of Him and the salvation of souls, all with the help of my patron saint whom I love more and more.

Source: Gaucher, G. (2006) The Passion of Therese of Lisieux. New York: The Crossroad Publishing Company.

Image: licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. copyright Nevit Dilmen

 

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Disney’s Frozen: Reflections on Original Sin and the Incarnation

Fr. Eric Mah is a priest of the Archdiocese of Toronto. Here is his thought-provoking extended homily that uses the Disney movie, Frozen, as an analogy for Original Sin and the Mystery of the Incarnation. (warning: spoiler alert)

Today, I’d like to do something a little bit different. What I’d like to do is explain this great Mystery of the Incarnation – this great mystery of the Word of God becoming flesh (cf. Jn 1:14; CCC 461) – by using an extended movie analogy. The movie I have in mind came out about a year ago.  It’s made by Disney and it’s made about $1.2 billion worldwide. The movie I’m talking about is called Frozen.

disney's frozenThe movie is very loosely based on that really famous fairytale called “The Snow Queen” by Hans Christian Andersen, which is to say that, technically speaking, there’s a character in the movie named Elsa, who will eventually become queen of this little place called Arendelle, and who just happens to have a very unique ability to manipulate snow and ice in a very magical sort of way. But apart from these little details, the movie actually has very little to do with the original story. What we find instead is that the movie tends to focus very much on the particular relationship between Elsa and her younger sister, Anna, who will eventually prove herself to be a sort of “Christ-figure”, if you will, in the greater context of the movie.

If we’re really going to understand and appreciate how the movie actually fits in with the great Mystery of the Incarnation, it’s actually quite helpful for us to have at least a basic understanding of salvation history. As you might recall, at the very beginning of the Book of Genesis, we hear that our first parents, Adam and Eve, walked in easy friendship with the Lord in the Garden of Eden (cf. CCC 374); which is to say that there was no suffering, no death, no pain and no fear (cf. CCC 375-377). It’s no coincidence that the Bible basically says that Adam and Eve were both naked before the Lord and each other (cf. Gen. 2:25). You’ll notice that it’s all very symbolic.

original sinAll of this is suddenly interrupted (very dramatically) by the entry of Original Sin into this world. As a result of this great act of disobedience and distrust on the part of our first parents, all sorts of disorder and chaos are suddenly introduced into the visible world. For instance, we hear that Adam and Eve start to bicker among themselves (cf. Gen. 3:12), which represents a certain disorder into our dealings with others. Furthermore, we see the great onset of suffering, misery, death, and even this new inclination towards evil and sin (cf. CCC 405; Gen. 3:19), which represents a certain disorder in our very selves. Finally, we hear that Adam and Eve suddenly become very afraid of God (cf. Gen. 3:8, 10). They try to hide from Him (cf. Gen. 3:8) and they try to cover up their nakedness before Him (cf. Gen 3:7). What does this represent but the introduction of a certain disorder even in our very relationship with God Himself?

But God does not abandon Adam and Eve. No, instead He clothes them (cf. Gen. 3:21); and more importantly, He promises them that in the fullness of time He will send onto them a Saviour: One who will finally liberate them from the great tyranny of sin and death, and restore them to a true and lasting friendship with the Lord their God (cf. Gen. 3:15; cf. CCC 410-411).

Dante's inferno

A scene from the 1911 silent film ‘Hell’, an Italian cinematic version of Dante’s Inferno.

Now, what does this all have to do with the movie Frozen? Well, quite a lot, actually! Because the great spiritual masters in the Church’s tradition have often described this notion of being “in sin”(or rather, being “sinful”) as a state of “separation” or “alienation.” For example, St. Augustine says that sin is like being “caved in” on oneself. And perhaps more significantly, the poet Dante describes hell not as a fiery pit as we might typically expect, but rather, as this sort of icy wasteland. He says that sin is basically like being “stuck in ice”; or rather, being “frozen”! This whole image of being “frozen” as we see time and time again throughout the course of the movie, is basically a sort of metaphor for the reality of sin in our lives; or perhaps, we might even say Original Sin, in particular.

So how does all of this actually play out in the context of the movie? Well, at first, we notice that Elsa and Anna, in their childhood, are both portrayed as being very carefree, and very much relaxed in each other’s presence. All of this hearkens back to that original state of affairs in the Garden of Eden where, again, as we hear in the Book of Genesis, both Adam and Eve walked in easy friendship with the Lord.

This is suddenly interrupted very dramatically when an “accident” takes place while Elsa and Anna are at play, which of course represents this great onset of Original Sin into the visible world. In turn, this introduces a sort of rupture in the relationship between these two sisters. For instance, you’ll notice that Elsa starts to become very fearful and very self-conscious in the presence of her own sister. In fact, she even goes so far as to actually shut Anna out from her life, not just for a day, but actually for a period of several years, by  locking herself up in her own room!

behold I stand at the door and knockAnna is completely dissatisfied by this new state of affairs and so she takes it upon herself to knock continuously on Elsa’s door; and again, not just once, but for a period of several years, constantly inviting her to come out, and to enter back into right relationship with her (cf. Rev. 3:20-21). It’s actually kind of reminiscent of that very famous passage from the Book of Revelation, where the Lord says to us: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if you hear My voice and open the door, I will come to you and eat with you, and you with Me… Let anyone with ears listen” (Rev 3:20-21) [emphasis added].

If you think about it, that’s actually the whole point of that song “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?” In other words, the song isn’t really about this invitation to “build a snowman” per se; but rather, it is very much about this very deep and profound invitation on the part of our Lord for us to enter back into right relationship with Him through this great appeal to the deepest desires of the human heart, whether we’re talking about the desire for peace, joy, friendship, happiness, relationship or whatever the case might be.

Nevertheless, Elsa still refuses to open the door to her sister (again, for a period of several years) until she is finally forced to do so on the very special occasion of her coronation: this very special day on which she is finally to be crowned queen of the entire kingdom. You’ll notice that this moment basically coincides with this very catchy song called “For the First Time in Forever”, which interestingly is sung as a sort of duet between Elsa and Anna. Because what really stands out when you listen to this song is the great contrast in attitude between these two sisters with regards to the impending coronation. On the one hand, you’ll notice that Anna is completely thrilled and excited by the possibility that the castle doors are finally being opened, such that she finally has the opportunity to enter into real relationship with so many different people. But, on the other hand, you’ll notice that her sister, Elsa, is completely terrified, even though this is actually meant to be (quite ironically) a moment of great joy and tremendous celebration.

But all of this alludes very strongly to the fact that truly one of the great tragedies when it comes to the reality of Original Sin in our lives, as noted very beautifully by Fr. Robert Barron in one of his sermons, is that we typically come to adopt a sort of defensive posture and mindset vis-à-vis our neighbour, such that we come to look at other people not as persons to be loved; but rather, as persons to be feared. As Fr. Barron points out, and as we all know from personal experience, what this typically does is give rise to a whole variety of sins in our dealings with others, whether we’re talking about the sins of hatred, violence, cruelty, malicious gossip, slander or whatever the case might be.

frozen let it goAll of this eventually proves to be far too much for Elsa to finally handle. She decides to essentially banish herself to a far away mountain where she can finally be all alone. This gives rise to that very iconic moment in the movie when we hear that really famous power ballad called “Let It Go”, which won the Academy Award this past year for “Best Original Song”. This song is completely fascinating for a variety of reasons; but what stands out in particular is that, if you look it up on YouTube, for instance, and you read several of the comments posted below, you’ll notice that a lot of people are of the opinion that this song is actually a great theme of self-liberation and self-emancipation; whereas actually, it’s really not.

Because even though this song is extremely catchy and very upbeat, if we pay very close attention to what’s really going on in Elsa’s life when she’s singing this song, you’ll notice that the song is actually very sad and quite tragic! Even though Elsa is changing her clothes, changing her hairstyle, and building herself a new castle, at the end of the day, she is still very much all alone in a castle made of ice! And if that isn’t a metaphor for how Original Sin really screws up our lives, and really separates us from God and from each other – well, then I don’t know what is!

But this speaks to the fact that whenever we try to deal with the effects of Original Sin on our own and through our own effort, we simply can’t do it. In other words, at the very most, we can only deal with the problem on a very superficial and cosmetic level whether we’re talking about changing the way we look – plunging ourselves into all sorts of activity – or simply acting out in a very dramatic and perhaps even self-destructive kind of way as, for instance, we often do in the case of sex, drugs or alcohol. Because the reality is that what we really need to do whenever we find ourselves in this state of real separation or alienation from God, is simply turn our lives back onto God with a great spirit of humility and trust; and simply allow Him to save us in the very particular way that only He can.

All this eventually comes to the surface when Anna finally catches up to Elsa at the ice castle, and they finally have a chance to talk about all these things which have recently come to pass. At first, you’ll notice that Elsa is still very much in self-denial.  She insists very passionately that even though she is, in fact, living all by herself in a castle made of ice, she is still very much “alone and free”. But then as Anna clearly points out, the “effects of Original Sin”, if we can put it that way, are simply far more serious and far more reaching than Elsa could have ever imagined or anticipated. This comes out most strongly in the fact that the entire kingdom of Arendelle is now completely encased in ice, even though it is still (technically speaking) the middle of the summer.

When Elsa finally realizes how bad things have actually become, and that her life has  spiralled completely beyond her control, she starts to panic. She starts saying things to herself like: “I’m such a fool! I can’t be free!” “[There’s] no escape from the storm inside of me!” But then, you’ll notice that she very abruptly ends by saying: “I can’t!” At this point, a very powerful blast of ice suddenly shoots forth from her own body and enters into the heart of her sister, Anna.

It’s a very dramatic and almost scary moment, for sure! But perhaps we might even say that this scene actually represents the real “turning point” in the entire movie. Because what this moment basically represents is that very important move in the spiritual life whereby we basically come to acknowledge our complete and total insufficiency before the reality of evil and sin in our lives, such that we basically choose to turn our lives completely over to Christ; believing again that He will save us in the very particular way that only He can. But perhaps we can even take it one step further: because what this scene also represents is that very important moment in salvation history when Christ effectively “takes [upon Himself] the sins of the world” (Jn 1:29) [emphasis added]!
It’s no coincidence that when Elsa basically comes to admit her great powerlessness in the face of evil and sin in this world, and at least very implicitly chooses to turn her life over to Christ, the grace of salvation starts to work very quickly. You’ll notice that Anna starts to change very dramatically; she starts to transform. Her body temperature not only begins to plummet at an extraordinary rate, but her hair also becomes very white, not unlike Elsa’s hair. Her face becomes very pale, not unlike Elsa’s face. And then, finally, to sort of drive the point home, there’s a really dramatic scene near the end of the movie where Anna is effectively trapped behind locked doors, not unlike how Elsa was herself trapped at the very beginning of the movie! In other words, Anna effectively becomes Elsa! And, of course, what is this but a great symbol for the Incarnation: this great Mystery by which mystery of the incarnationChrist Himself takes on our human flesh (cf. Jn. 1:14) and truly becomes like us in all things but sin (cf. Heb 4:15), so as to truly position Himself to become the “New Adam”, if you will: the one who will truly counteract this great act of disobedience and distrust on the part of the “First Adam” through a life of perfect obedience.  A life of perfect, sacrificial love  in accordance with the will of the Father, again, so as to bring about this very definitive and lasting reconciliation with the Lord our God (cf. 1 Cor 15:21-22, 45; Phil 2:8; Rom 5:19-20; CCC 411).

At the end of the movie, what basically happens? Well, Elsa eventually faces this sort of “life-or-death” situation where she’s almost killed, but then she’s ultimately saved through the intervention of her sister: when Anna basically chooses to sacrifice herself such that her sister might live, but not before becoming herself completely frozen as a solid block of ice. And, of course, what is this but a great symbol for the Crucifixion (cf. Mt 27:32-56)? But then, of course, because it’s a Disney movie, Anna very quickly comes back to life! And what is this but a great symbol for the Resurrection (cf. Mt 28:1-10)?

eucharist1But you’ll notice the very particular way in which Anna comes back to life, which is actually very important! You’ll notice that at first there is a very small emanation of heat which begins from Anna’s heart which then extends to the rest of her body until she is finally restored to her former self. If you think back to the Gospel of John, what does this actually remind us of but the pierced heart of Christ on the Cross from which flows blood and water (cf. Jn. 19:34)?  This in turn, represents the Most Holy Eucharist and the sacrament of Baptism; or perhaps, we might even say (generally speaking) the sacraments of the holy Catholic Church which are the very privileged means by which we are actually freed from original sin and restored to true and lasting friendship with the Lord our God. For example, the sacrament of Baptism truly frees us from the grips of original sin, and restores us to divine life. The sacrament of Penance restores us to real friendship with God whenever we happen to fall into sin after the day of our Baptism. And by means of the great sacrament of the Most Holy Eucharist, Christ Himself truly gives us “food for the journey” (cf. CCC 1524-1525), if you will, through the very precious gift of His own Body and Blood.

I realize that there’s a lot going on here but perhaps I might end with this: a very good and holy priest once told me that the reality of sin is such that it basically amounts to a failure to love, whether we’re talking about the failure to love God, or the failure to love other people; and that always has definite consequences. In other words, whenever we commit a particular sin, whether we’re talking about something we’ve done, or something we’ve failed to do, what basically happens is that a sort of poison enters into our veins, in a spiritual sense, which very much compromises our ability to love, again, whether we’re talking about loving God or loving other people.

sacrament of reconciliationBut the whole point is that this poison is not something we can simply remove on our own,  through our own personal effort. No, it is actually something which can only be removed (or taken away if you will) through the grace of God, particularly as it is given to us through the sacraments of the Church; again, whether we’re talking about the sacrament of Baptism, the sacrament of Penance, the sacrament of the Most Holy Eucharist, or whatever the case might be.

All of this comes across very beautifully and quite dramatically at the very end of the movie, when Elsa effectively receives the great sacraments of the Church, through the death and resurrection of Christ, and through the pierced heart of Christ on the Cross, such that her ability to love God and to love others is suddenly restored; hence, her newfound ability to really appropriate that great line which effectively becomes the great motto and touchstone for the entire movie: “An act of true love will thaw a frozen heart.”

The movie basically ends with a really beautiful scene where the kingdom of Arendelle is finally restored to its former glory. It is finally freed from its eternal winter which, of course, is very symbolic of the fact that, again, through the intervention of Christ – through His Incarnation – through His death – through His Resurrection – and through the sacraments of the holy Catholic Church – the world is finally freed from the great tyranny of sin and death – as the Lord had always promised – from the very beginnings of salvation history (cf. Gen. 3:15; cf. CCC 410-411).

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Our Lady and the Octave of Christmas

Mother of Perpetual Help“In the sacred liturgy we celebrate not only the events themselves of salvation history but also the men and women and children redeemed by the Saviour who have lived and proclaimed this Mystery in a manner worthy of imitation. In all of these events and figures, the presence of our Lady is clearly discernible for she is both Mother of the Redeemer and Mother of the Redeemed.”

Over on the Priest Blog at Catholic Insight, there is a wonderful homily on Our Blessed Mother’s unique role in the Mystery of the Incarnation. The homily explains why we honour her and how she leads us to closer union with her Son, Jesus, on the path of Christian discipleship. Read it here.

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Merry Christmas

From my family to yours, have a happy and holy Christmas. God bless you.

From my family to yours, have a happy and holy Christmas. God bless you.

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College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario: revised Professional Obligations and Human Rights

syringes-and-vial-1028452-mOn December 11, 2014, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) put out a revised draft policy entitled Professional Obligations and Human Rights. If enacted, the policy will take away the freedom of conscience rights of Ontario’s physicians and surgeons. The CPSO is inviting the public to comment on the proposed policy.

The Catholic Doctors Guild asked me to write an article about this problematic development. I invite you to go to catholicinsight.com to read the article. Then click on the link to the CPSO website and enter your comment.

 

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As Morning Breaks

One of the many gifts in my blogging life is the privilege of being part of the  Gospel Reflection team at CatholicMom.com  where I am also a monthly columnist. As a Gospel Reflection team member, I write short, hopefully helpful, monthly Gospel reflections at CatholicMom.com.

This year, I had the wonderful opportunity to contribute to As Morning Breaks: Daily Gospel Reflections, an ebook project of evangelization conceived by CatholicMom.com founder, author and speaker, Lisa Hendey. My reflections are on the third day of each month for the year 2015.

As Morning Breaks: Daily Gospel Reflections is now available from amazon.com and amazon.ca as a Kindle download ($2.99 US, $3.29 CDN). We hope that our Gospel reflections will help readers begin their day in a Christ-centred, prayerful way that prepares them to spread the Good News to all they meet.

As Morning Breaks: Daily Gospel Reflections

December 11, 2014New Book from CatholicMom.com Encourages Daily Morning Prayer with the GospelsCatholicmom.com team of collaborators publishes daily devotional for 2015 to raise needed funds for websiteFresno, December 11, 2015—Looking for joy in 2015?  Begin each day of the year with As Morning BreaksDaily Gospel Reflections, a new ebook just released by Lisa M. Hendey and CatholicMom.com.  This book was written in collaboration by over thirty authors, all of whom freely volunteered their work. The writing team includes men and women, parents, singles, a married Deacon and his wife, a religious sister and writers of all ages.

 

Priced at only $2.99, the 685 page book was launched to raise needed funds to support the work of CatholicMom.com, an international apostolate that provides services to families, parishes and individuals worldwide free of charge.

 

Let this prayer community guide and support you with daily reflections on the Gospels and the Liturgy of the Word.  As Morning Breaks invites you to make morning prayer a fruitful part of your day, and ponder the joy of the Gospels in your heart.“A terrific resource to include in your daily prayer routine…an ideal way to either springboard your morning prayer or supplement it.  Highly recommend!” notes Ellen GableHrkach, president of the Catholic Writers Guild and award-winning author.As Morning Breaks contains 365 daily reflections from various vocational perspectives; with each, thereaderis invited into a further examination of the Gospel passage. A “ponder”questionis provided for contemplation, discussionorjournaling. Each meditation ends with a brief prayer to help you transition to your own quiet meditation.  With links to each day’s Gospel passage,andfollowing the liturgical calendar of the Catholic Church, thisbookis designed to offer you a beautiful, prayerful and joyful start to your day.Available for immediate download

in the Amazon Kindle store

Special Offer: $2.99 – Makes a Great Christmas Gift!
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