Category Archives: Catholicism

The Bible: Updates and Current Events

Not updates to the Bible itself, of course….  Way back here, in my first post in my series on the Bible, I had this to say:

In Lent of 2009 I decided I’d start reading the Bible from beginning to end for a third time.  I’d tried that a couple of times in the past, never having got past Genesis, or once the very beginning of Exodus.  This time, I vowed, I’d do it.  I began reading it.  Two and a half years later, I’m still at it.  At least I’ve finished through the end of Joshua, and I am confident that I will indeed finish the whole Good Book again eventually.

Alas, it is now almost seven years since I wrote that post, and over nine years since I began re-reading the Bible, and I just ran out of steam.  I have, however, started back, in a bit of a roundabout way.

This past Easter (2018) my wife, after eighteen years of marriage and twenty-one years together, entered the Catholic Church.  This was a cause of celebration in our family.  During Lent, she began using a Catholic app on her phone to read the Douay-Rheims version of the Bible.  For Easter I bought her a hardcopy, as well as getting the Kindle version for her Kindle Fire.  Since we use a common Amazon account, I put the Kindle version on my Fire, too.  I have no idea why she decided to read that particular translation.  However, since I now had it on my Fire also, I decided that I’d just jump in and start reading it, too.  It wouldn’t be bad to be rereading the Bible (again); and by reading the specific version my wife was reading, I’d be better equipped to answer any questions she had.

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Prayers to the Sacred Heart

Devotional Prayers

♥ Prayer to the Sacred Heart

O most holy Heart of Jesus, fountain of every blessing,
I adore you, I love you and will a lively sorrow for my sins.
I offer you this poor heart of mine.
Make me humble, patient, pure, and wholly obedient to your will.
Grant, good Jesus, that I may live in you and for you.
Protect me in the midst of danger; comfort me in my afflictions;
give me health of body, assistance in my temporal needs,
your blessings on all that I do, and the grace of a holy death.
Within your heart I place my every care.
In every need let me come to you with humble trust saying,
Heart of Jesus, help me.
Amen.

 

♥ Daily Offering

O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer you all my prayers, works, joys, and sufferings of this day, for all the intentions of your Sacred Heart, in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world, in reparation for my sins, for the intentions of all my relatives and friends, and in particular for the intentions of the Holy Father.

 

♥ Efficacious Novena to the Sacred Heart of Jesus

This nine-day prayer is often said prior to the Feast of the Sacred Heart but can be said anytime. The “Our Father,” “Hail, Mary,” Glory Be,” and “Hail, Holy Queen” are traditional Catholic prayers associated with the Rosary, and may be readily found online or in most Catholic prayer books. There are other versions of the novena; this is the one that Saint Margaret Mary offered.

O my Jesus, you have said: “Truly I say to you, ask and you will receive, seek and you will find, knock and it will be opened to you.” Behold, I knock, I seek, and ask for the grace of (name your request). Our Father… Hail Mary… Glory be to the Father…

 

♥ Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in you.

O Sacred Heart of Jesus, for whom it is impossible not to have compassion on the afflicted, have pity on us miserable sinners and grant us the grace which we ask of you, through the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, your tender mother and ours.

Say the Hail, Holy Queen and add: “Saint Joseph, foster father of Jesus, pray for us.”

—Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque


Prayers for Special Circumstances

♥ Prayer of Trust to the Sacred Heart (in Times of Stress)

Holy Heart of Jesus, Sweet Sanctuary of rest,
bring peace to my soul and settle my spirit,
especially in the matter of_________________.
I vow to place all of my worries and fears
into the wound of your Sacred Heart,
there to be tended to in accordance with your perfect will,
which desires only the best and highest good.
Your love alone is enough, and I surrender to it;
clinging to the hope of a swift resolution
and trusting with confidence in all of your promises.
Amen.

 

♥ Prayer to the Sacred Heart in Times of Loss or Betrayal

Sweet Jesus, your heart beats for the brokenhearted,
and you know their pain.
You experienced loss when your friend Lazarus died,
and betrayal when your friends abandoned and rejected you in
your darkest hours.

I ask you for relief and release right now in this time of grief.
I cry out to your heart, seeking comfort and consolation.
Take this present heartache and unite it to your own for the good  of others,
especially _____________________.
Ease my sorrow,
and fill my heart with hope and light to face another day.
Amen.

 

♥ Prayer to the Sacred Heart for Help to Forgive

Lord Jesus,
my heart feels like an impenetrable stone as I am struggling to  forgive_____________.
Please trade my hardened heart for one that flows with mercy like  your own.
Give me the grace to let go of bitterness, a desire for revenge, and the need for an apology.
Set me free from the captivity of my unforgiving heart and fill me with your healing love.
Amen.

 

♥ Prayer to the Sacred Heart for Someone Who Is Addicted

Lord, my heart is filled with concern for____________, who is addicted.
You know and see the disorder and chaos that the addiction is causing,
and your heart grieves over the distortion of personality and danger to the soul
that results when someone is in the throes of addiction.

I pray that you will please give me the wisdom and spiritual
fortitude to detach with love and trust in your tender mercies
and that you will give _______________ the humility and strength  to seek recovery.
I ask this through the saving grace of your Sacred Heart.
Amen.

 

♥ Prayer to the Sacred Heart When Health Is Failing

Sweet Heart of Jesus,
my health is failing, and I am hurting.
Thank you for my body, which is a great and marvelous gift
and a temple where the Holy Spirit chooses to dwell.
I offer up my current suffering for ____________,
accepting whatever you permit to happen to me.
I believe in your healing power and claim your promises of peace,
help in all my afflictions, and the grace of final perseverance.
Help me to resist all fear, and hide me, Lord,
in the haven of your precious heart.
Give me the strength to accept this current state of my health with joy,
holy resignation, and lively hope for the future.
Amen.

 

♥ Prayer of Thanksgiving and Praise to the Sacred Heart

Lord, you deserve all honor and praise,
because your love is perfect and your heart sublime.
My heart is filled to overflowing with gratitude
for the many blessings and graces you have bestowed upon me and those
whom I love.
Forever undeserving, may I always be attentive
and never take for granted the gifts of mercy and love
that flow so freely and generously from your Sacred Heart.
Heart of Jesus, I adore you.
Heart of Jesus, I praise you.
Heart of Jesus, I thank you.
Heart of Jesus, I love you forever and always.
Amen.

Courtesy of here.  Today is the Feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus

The Long Journey to the Trinity

The title of this post is a slight alteration of the title of this excellent book, a translation of the Ad Monachos of Evagrius Ponticus.  I am not here applying it to Evagrius or his works, but to myself.  I mentioned back here that I was an Arian–or perhaps, better, “quasi-Arian” or “little-u unitarian”–in my younger days.  I said that a detailed unpacking of my beliefs and how they developed was for another time.  That time is now.

I grew up in a small town in Appalachia, part of the Bible Belt and hotbed of Fundamentalism, and (paradoxically) one of the most unchurched regions of the country.  I was raised in a sort of generic, culturally Protestant way, without anyone in the family formally belonging to any church.  Both my parents had been baptized before I was born, though I don’t know the details.  During my life, though, neither was a formal member of any church, nor a regular attender.  I was sent to Sunday school at a Methodist church from about the age of four until about seven; and at a Baptist church between the ages of about eight or nine and thirteen.  During this latter period, I was usually sent to vacation Bible school in the summers, at the Baptist church (and once or twice, I think, at a second Methodist church).  Every once in awhile, my mother would go to church services (this was at the Methodist church–she never attended the Baptist one, as far as I remember) and drag me with her.  “Drag” was the operative word.

I was always extremely reluctant to go to church, and never did so voluntarily.  I don’t know exactly why.  I do remember I that I associated church with fear.  I don’t clearly remember any hellfire and damnation sermons, though there may have been some.  Mom and Dad certainly never used threats of hell, as some parents did.  I remember thinking that being in an actual church involved a commitment I was unwilling to make.  I recall one time Mom dragged me to church, and the hymn being sung was, “I have decided to follow Jesus/ No turning back, no turning back.”  I mouthed the second line without singing it.  I wasn’t going to sign up for that!  I remember another time in Sunday school at the Baptist church, there was a visiting preacher, a black Baptist (there were very few black people where I grew up, so for us this was exotic).  The one thing I remember about him is that at one point he said, “When you say I’m going to follow God and get my life together tomorrow, that old devil just laughs and laughs!”  Those words haunted me for years.

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A Prayer for Corpus Christi

Godhead here in hiding, whom I do adore,
Masked by these bare shadows, shape and nothing more,
See, Lord, at thy service low lies here a heart
Lost, all lost in wonder at the God thou art.

Seeing, touching, tasting are in thee deceived:
How says trusty hearing? that shall be believed;
What God’s Son has told me, take for truth I do;
Truth himself speaks truly or there’s nothing true.

On the cross thy godhead made no sign to men,
Here thy very manhood steals from human ken:
Both are my confession, both are my belief,
And I pray the prayer of the dying thief.

I am not like Thomas, wounds I cannot see,
But can plainly call thee Lord and God as he;
Let me to a deeper faith daily nearer move,
Daily make me harder hope and dearer love.

O thou our reminder of Christ crucified,
Living Bread, the life of us for whom he died,
Lend this life to me then: feed and feast my mind,
There be thou the sweetness man was meant to find.

Bring the tender tale true of the Pelican;
Bathe me, Jesu Lord, in what thy bosom ran—
Blood whereof a single drop has power to win
All the world forgiveness of its world of sin.

Jesu, whom I look at shrouded here below,
I beseech thee send me what I thirst for so,
Some day to gaze on thee face to face in light
And be blest for ever with thy glory’s sight. Amen.

–courtesy of here

Quote for the Week

Ceux-là qui aiment à se faire craindre, craignent de se faire aimer, et eux-mêmes craignent plus que tous les autres; car les autres ne craignent qu’eux, mais eux craignent tous les autres.

Those who love to be feared fear to be loved, and they themselves are more afraid than anyone, for whereas other men fear only them, they fear everyone.

–The Spirit of Saint Francis de Sales, ch. 7, sct. 3 (1952); courtesy of Wikiquote

A Prayer to St. Justin Martyr

O God, who through the Cross
wondrously taught Saint Justin the Martyr
the surpassing knowledge of Jesus Christ,
grant us, through his intercession,
that, having rejected deception and error,
we may become steadfast in the faith.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity
of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
Amen.

Today is St. Justin Martyr’s feast day.

The Disenchantment of the World, Part 4: The Enlightenment

voltaire

On this rather elliptical path towards looking at religion as role-playing, we’ve looked at the religious milieu of the ancient Greco-Roman world, the origins of monotheism, and why it replaced paganism.  Many aspects of pagan belief remained, of course, under a (sometimes extremely thin) Christian veneer, and sometimes more or less openly as various types of folk practice and superstition.  Still, Christianity was on the whole dominant for nearly a millennium and a half after it conquered pagan Rome.  What struck a blow from which Christianity has never completely recovered, and which began the disenchantment of the world in earnest, was the Enlightenment.

The Enlightenment is the period beginning at about the end of the 17th and the beginning of the 18th Century in which a new focus on reason and secularism began to be manifested in Western and Central European society, and to a lesser extent in Eastern Europe.  It’s always hard to give a concise definition of a complex phenomenon such as the Enlightenment, but the following points can serve as a beginning.  The Enlightenment was characterized by

  1. An emphasis on human reason, as opposed to Divine revelation.
  2. A focus on science and the scientific method.
  3. A call for political and social equality:  that is, democracy over monarchy, the intrinsic equality of all classes and nationalities, and even the beginnings of equality between the genders.
  4. A call for political and religious liberty:  Established religions were to be opposed, freedom of religion and association were promoted, and people were to be free to change their governments if need be.
  5. A desire to put human reason and science to work in improving human society, especially by rationalistic and technocratic means.
  6. An emphasis on the individual over the collective.
  7. A suspicion of organized religion and a tendency towards Deism and anti-clericalism.
  8. Optimism and (to some extent) utopianism as to the prospects of improving society; and a tendency to view the past as primitive, superstitious, and obscurantist, and the future as the realm of glorious possibility.

I think those points are a fair outline of the Enlightenment worldview.  It’s very clear from points 1 ,2, 5, and 8 why the Enlightenment resulted in so much disenchanting of the world; but before I go on with that, I think we need to look at the context of the Enlightenment, lest we misunderstand what followed.

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A Novena to Simone Weil

A little bit of a preface.  A novena is a Catholic devotion in which a certain set of prayers–typically directed to a saint, but sometimes to one of the persons of the Trinity–is repeated for nine consecutive days.  Generally, the novena is said for a particular intention, though some are more general.  There are many novenas addressed to many saints.  Go to a Catholic bookstore, or poke around online, and you can find them by the droves, as well as books containing compendiums of novenas.  Regular readers will know that I occasionally post novenas here.

Recently as part of my series “Your Own Personal Altar“, I wrote on Simone Weil, the French philosopher.  I won’t reiterate what I said there.  Rather, I want to fill a gap here.  Weil, though probably baptized before her death, was never officially received into the Church, though she was Catholic by conviction for the last six years or so of her life.  As I said in my post on her, she’ll never be canonized as an “official” saint.  Then again, the Church also allows prayers in a personal and private context to any given departed (e.g. a parent or other kin) with whom one has a connection and who might be an exemplar of faith.  In her own eccentric and unusual way, Simone Weil, I think, was indeed an exemplar of faith.  Thus, I think a novena to her is not inappropriate.

I searched the web, wondering if anyone had composed such a novena, and came up with no results. Thus, I have taken in upon myself to compose just such a novena.  I hope you will find it of spiritual benefit.  Sancta Simone, ora pro nobis!

A Novena to Simone Weil

 Daily Prayer:  O God, you always raise up for us holy men and women in all ages to witness to us in ways appropriate to the age.  The 20th Century was a time of war and confusion, secularism and loss of faith, oppression and totalitarianism; and also a time of progress, change, and hope.  Your servant Simone Weil fought for peace and justice for all people, for solidarity with workers, and against totalitarian regimes.  She saw the importance of fighting for justice; but more importantly, she sought the truth and kept searching until she found You.  Despite all the difficulties she encountered and the ways in which she was misunderstood, she held fast to her experience of Your love, and waited for You throughout her life.  Hear us now, we pray, and through the intercession of St. Simone, we beseech you to grant this favor (mention intention).  Through her intercession, grant us also the patience and courage to wait for You through all the struggles and challenges of life.  Amen.

Day 1:  St. Simone, you always lived in solidarity with the poor, the oppressed, the victims of war, and those in need, denying yourself for their sake.  Help us to see Christ in the least of our brothers and sisters, and to live our lives in solidarity with them.  Through your intercession, give us the strength to sacrifice and to practice asceticism for the sake of others.  Amen.

 Day 2:  St. Simone, you “hungered and thirsted after righteousness”.  Help us to open our eyes to see the ways in which injustice is perpetuated.  Give us the zeal for righteousness and justice that you had, and the strength not to weary or lose heart in pursuing them.  Through your intercession, give us discernment so that we can best act in accordance with God’s will.  Amen.

 Day 3:  St. Simone, you saw God active everywhere, in the lives of all, and in the traditions and faiths of all people of good will throughout the world.  Help us to see God in places we would least expect.  Through your intercession, give us the discernment to see the good in all cultures and belief systems, and help us to work together with our brothers and sisters of all faiths to make the world a better place.  Amen.

 Day 4:  St. Simone, you were born of the Jewish people.  Help us to see the Jewish people as our elder brothers and forebears in the faith of the One God.  Through your intercession, help us to bring peace and reconciliation between Jews and Christians, and an increase in knowledge of God for us all.  Amen.

 Day 5:  St. Simone, you spent much time in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.  You said that the Eucharist is the only perfect purity in this world, and that through it we may be cleansed.  Help us to have a stronger faith in the True Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.  Through your intercession, stir up in us a strong devotion to the Blessed Sacrament in Adoration, and a firm resolve to receive the Eucharist worthily as often as possible.  Amen.

 Day 6:  St. Simone, help us to see the presence of Christ in our brothers and sisters who are autistic, mentally ill, or non-neurotypical.  Help them and strengthen them in all their trials and needs, and give us the patience and understanding to be of service to them.  Through your intercession, may we all come together as God’s children, praising and serving Him in diverse ways and loving each other in all our differences.  Amen.

 Day 7:  St. Simone, you rejected all totalitarian systems and you knew well how human sinfulness can corrupt even the best of institutions.  You abhorred the kind of false zeal that turns the love and mildness of Christ into oppression and coercion.  Help us to do the same.  Through your intercession, may we be more effective witnesses for Christ, and may we lovingly work to make the Church on earth a more effective sign of the Kingdom of God.  Amen.

 Day 8:  St. Simone, you lived through a time of economic depression, war, and genocide, and yet you did not lose hope.  Help us to keep a firm grasp on the virtues of faith and hope, no matter what personal or societal difficulties we may encounter in our lives.  Through your intercession, give us the strength and courage to face whatever challenges God sends us, and final perseverance in the faith.  Amen.

 Day 9:  St. Simone, you said that we do not have to search for God, but only change the direction we are looking, and that is for Him to search for us.  You patiently waited all your life for God, living in openness to His will and seeking His inspirations when and how He chose to send them.  Give us the same openness and patience.  Through your intercession, give us the fortitude to wait for God, no matter how difficult we may find it; the patience to endure; the openness and discernment to receive everything that God wishes to communicate to us; and the obedience to carry it out.  Amen.

 Concluding prayer:  Good and gracious God, you have given us your servant Simone as an example and an inspiration for us all.  Through her intercession, help us to imitate her virtues, especially her openness to Your will and her patience in difficult times.  Guide us through life as you did your servant Simone, and bring us at last to full fellowship with your saints in the world to come.  Amen.

Nulla Scriptura Revisited

One of the keystones of traditional Protestant theology is the concept of sola scriptura.  This means literally “by Scripture alone”.  That is, all doctrines and practices of Christianity must be derived from Scripture.  Tradition, commentary, and development are not necessarily bad, but they may never be normative for belief and practice.  My post from some time back, “Nulla Scriptura” was a deliberate pun on this, as it means, “by nothing [of] Scripture.”

Back here, I said the following:

Of course, I’d say that open theism, as well as many other flavors of Protestantism, has too high a view of Scripture, anyway. I don’t mean that in the sense of saying that Scripture isn’t inspired, or of encouraging a “low” view of it. Rather, I mean the tendency to take it more or less as is without looking at context or the philosophical implications. I’ve read essays by open theologians in which they’ve gone so far as to say that if the theology or philosophy says one thing, and Scripture says another, then Scripture must be preferred, even if it seems to paint God in peculiar ways (e.g. limited knowledge, changing His mind, etc.). By that logic we’d have to jettison the value of pi!

What I want to do here is to elaborate on that concept, both in a general, theoretical way, as it pertains to Christianity and Christian thought in general; and also in a concrete, specific way, as it pertains to my own church, the Catholic Church, particularly in 21st Century America.

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The Breastplate of St. Patrick for Trinity Sunday

I bind unto myself today
The strong name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same,
The Three in One and One in Three.

I bind this day to me for ever,
By power of faith, Christ’s Incarnation;
His baptism in the Jordan River;
His death on cross for my salvation;
His bursting from the spicèd tomb;
His riding up the heavenly way;
His coming at the day of doom;
I bind unto myself today.

I bind unto myself the power
Of the great love of the Cherubim;
The sweet ‘Well done’ in judgment hour;
The service of the Seraphim,
Confessors’ faith, Apostles’ word,
The Patriarchs’ prayers, the Prophets’ scrolls,
All good deeds done unto the Lord,
And purity of virgin souls.

I bind unto myself today
The virtues of the starlit heaven,
The glorious sun’s life-giving ray,
The whiteness of the moon at even,
The flashing of the lightning free,
The whirling wind’s tempestuous shocks,
The stable earth, the deep salt sea,
Around the old eternal rocks.

I bind unto myself today
The power of God to hold and lead,
His eye to watch, His might to stay,
His ear to hearken to my need.
The wisdom of my God to teach,
His hand to guide, his shield to ward,
The word of God to give me speech,
His heavenly host to be my guard.

Against the demon snares of sin,
The vice that gives temptation force,
The natural lusts that war within,
The hostile men that mar my course;
Or few or many, far or nigh,
In every place and in all hours
Against their fierce hostility,
I bind to me these holy powers.

Against all Satan’s spells and wiles,
Against false words of heresy,
Against the knowledge that defiles,
Against the heart’s idolatry,
Against the wizard’s evil craft,
Against the death-wound and the burning
The choking wave and the poisoned shaft,
Protect me, Christ, till thy returning.

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

I bind unto myself the name,
The strong name of the Trinity;
By invocation of the same.
The Three in One, and One in Three,
Of whom all nature hath creation,
Eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
Praise to the Lord of my salvation,
salvation is of Christ the Lord.

Translation: Cecil Frances Alexander; courtesy of here.