Category Archives: Catholic

Perverting the holy – an ever present danger ⚠️

Thirtieth Sunday

Luke 18:9-14 The tax collector, not the Pharisee, went home justified

We are privy to the pharisees inner world and so we’re able to see him as God sees him.

He’s using other people, people whom he views as beneath him, to make himself feel good but – and this is what makes it so much worse – he’s doing it by using the holy, by using the Ten Commandments, by using God.

So the ego remains unconverted and in fact the ego is converting (perverting) the holy to suit itself.

From the very beginning this perversion of the holy has been an ever present danger ⚠️ within Christianity – and too often a very real one.

And in the sight of God what he’s doing amounts to abusing the holy, abusing the Commandments and abusing God.

Jesus says we over-estimate our faith and goodness – with a nod to Peter Kreeft

Twenty-seventh Sunday

Luke 17:5-10

What are we to make of that?

Two things.

Even though the apostles ask Jesus to increase their faith they’re still over-estimating the size of the faith that they do have. They think they have faith but Jesus raises the bar, he raises the standard; “were your faith the size of a mustard seed you could say to this tree, be uprooted and planted in the sea, and it would obey you.” Jesus is telling them that their faith is not even the size of a mustard seed!

In the second piece they’re over estimating their goodness. So Jesus tells the story of the servant who having worked hard all day in the fields is then expected to make himself tidy, lay his master’s supper and wait on him before he eats himself… and he is then required to say; no big deal, I’m merely a servant. Again he’s raising the standard… it feels like injustice.

All this means:

If we stroll up to Heaven thinking that we’ve both faith and goodness “to beat the band” we’ll be in trouble because God’s standard is so much higher.

If we approach Heaven humbly, relying on Gods mercy rather than our sense of our faith and goodness – which is almost always inflated and an expression of the human ego – we’ll have a much better chance of gaining entry.

Put dishonesty in Heaven and you’re creating Hell!

Twenty-fifth Sunday

Luke 16:10-12

Again, the teaching of Jesus is profoundly simple.

If you cannot be trusted in little things how can you be trusted in great things?

The little things mean the stuff of this world like money… all the stuff that you and I think is our life!

The great things mean Heaven and the things of Heaven.

If you give Heaven – even the tiniest piece of Heaven and the powers of Heaven – to a dishonest man, you’re creating a demon.

If you put a dishonest man in Heaven he’ll begin turning it into Hell.

So, dishonesty doesn’t – cannot, just cannot – enter Heaven, it’s impossible.

It has to be purged first, burned out of the person (soul) before entry.

Simple.

Pentecost: Making things a little too black and white!

This is so simple.

It’s nearly too simple for many of us. I suspect it’s much too black and white!

The Spirit arrives into our lives in a very ordered way – remember it’s the Spirit that brings us into intimacy with God.

There are ordered steps and each step builds on the previous step.

If you love me – that’s the first step; if you love ❤️ me… look how he’s phrased it; if

If you love me, then the second step; you’ll keep my commandments. So the second step is keeping his commandments but you’ll never have one without the other.

Then Jesus repeats himself, making the same point but in a slightly different way.

And then to really push the point home he states that the reverse is true: “Those who do not love me do not keep my words.” Few of us are comfortable with this, typically we’d say; much too black and white!

So, the Spirit does not enter every life, only the lives of those who love Jesus (God), and keep his commandments, his Word.

So we’re given a reason for lack of intimacy with God.

Finally we’re told something of what the Spirit’s presence does; it causes us to remember Jesus teaching, his teaching becomes part of who we are, my identity, your identity, our identity.

Confirmation Session 5: Avoid offending God and when we have offended God, apologize

There’s stuff that we do – being dishonest, unfaithful, selfish… stealing – that offends and hurts God.

Stuff that hurts God is called sin.

When we offend God it’s like offending any other person.

Imagine loving the person who has offended or hurt you…

We don’t usually do that. We’re much more likely to avoid that person, to back away.

Can you imagine God backing away in much the same way?

So let’s try to imagine that instead of backing away you walk toward the person and hug them, forgive them. Do you think that’s difficult to do?

This is how it is for God too but for God it’s on a much bigger scale.

Imagine hugging human offence on a global scale… imagine the cost!

5.1 Jesus taught us to love our enemies, to turn the other cheek, to lend without any hope of return, and lots more difficult stuff too.

He was really just saying: Be like God.

Check it out: Luke 6:27-38 but read it as a description of God.

If we lived like this, as Jesus taught us, as God-like, it’d take every bit of us, we might say it’d crucify us!

This is how God loves us and we see the cost of it in Jesus Christ crucified.

Imagine always seeking to love the person hurting you, offending you, always seeking to love your enemy and enemies, always turning the other cheek, always lending* without any hope of return, imagine the cost!

For God it’s crucifixion and lasts until the end of time or for as long as God loves us, as long as God is merciful.

When we offend God we’re causing this suffering.

When we apologize, tell God we’re sorry… we’re easing this suffering.

Simple as that.

So, when you offend God, apologize, and commit to live like him.

5.2 But also – and this is very important – if we’re dishonest, unfaithful, selfish, then God can’t give his gifts to us because God’s gifts are really little bits of Heaven and if God gives Heaven (or even a tiny piece of Heaven) to a dishonest or unfaithful or selfish person he’s actually creating hell, turning Heaven into hell.

It’s a bit like a business owner promoting a dishonest employee… disaster, the business will be lucky to survive.

So, the bottom line here is if you’re offending God you just can’t receive Heaven or God’s gifts 🎁

No, you must change your ways first.

Repent!

*God lends life without any hope of return, always, until the end of time.

Confirmation Session 4: Mass

Mass is everything.

On earth there is nothing greater than Mass… at least in God’s eyes!

Padre Pio once said that it’d be easier for the earth to exist without the sun than for the earth to exist without Mass!

Mass is Heaven’s greatest gift 🎁

Mass is Jesus and all that he has done for us.

Imagine trying to hug the person who has hurt you. It’s so hard… sometimes impossible.

Well that’s what it’s like for God. When God loves us he’s also loving us as people who’ve offended him and that’s so hard to do.

When we look at Jesus on the Cross we’re looking at how hard it is for God to love us as people who’ve offended him. We can see it in a way that makes it more than just words.

Mass is this love ❤️ offered to us personally. It’s personal. It’s Jesus himself.

God packages everything he’s got – love – and gifts it to us in the person of Jesus who unites himself completely with us in Communion. God actually comes from Heaven and enters inside us in Jesus when we receive Communion.

If this is true… that Mass is God’s love for us, nothing less than Jesus himself leaving Heaven and entering inside us, then we should prepare for Mass very carefully.

If Mass is Jesus… and in Jesus we see how hard it is for God to love us as people who’ve offended him, then we should be really careful to not offend him even more in Mass and especially in receiving Communion.

Try to understand Communion from God’s side…

He’s loved us as people who’ve offended him to the point where it’s crucified him, to the point of giving his life, and it’s all packaged up and gifted to us in Mass and Communion.

It follows that Mass and Communion matter a great deal. I can’t stress this enough. It may not matter to us but it matters in Heaven.

The bottom line here is; when we celebrate Mass and especially when we receive Communion, depending on the state of our souls – if we’re pleasing or displeasing to God – we may be consoling him or we may be adding to his suffering.

This is the reason the church says we should always apologize to God for our offences before receiving Communion.

In fact, the church (who got this in the first place from men and women who were very close to God) says we should tell God we’re sorry in Confession before receiving Communion.

Equally though, given that it costs God so much to embrace us, our little sufferings freely offered to him in Mass serve to take away a little bit of his suffering and give him great comfort. In these moments we make God feel like his work in Jesus is worth it! In fact, God delights in us when we freely accept and offer him our little sufferings.

So, I’ve tried to explain how Mass is experienced in Heaven… how God experiences Mass.

If this is God’s understanding of Mass then how does God feel when we don’t go to Mass?

Are our usual excuses for not going to Mass received in Heaven as little more than further insult?

What’s it like for God when we go to Mass but our minds and hearts are elsewhere? Well… what’s it like when you’re talking to someone and they’re not paying any attention to you? That’s how it is for God.

In truth God is grieved by our unbelief and indifference toward Mass.

If all that I’m saying is true then we’re probably offending God on a scale we haven’t even begun to understand.

Still, God will seek to love us, always. It just costs him much more!

Confirmation Session 3.2: Prayer 🙏 and the Holy Spirit

Caution ⚠️ from here on I may be describing spiritual experience that goes over lots of heads!

Please don’t let this put you off… instead treat it as a map of the path to intimacy with God.

The Spirit has only one purpose – to bring you with her… to bring you back into the Holy Trinity (God is three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit = Trinity)

In fact, the Spirit can’t do anything else but return to the Father and the Son. She’s come to you, started the process of making you hers, but she will want to go back to the Father and to the Son, back home so to speak, it’s where she belongs, and since you now merit her presence she’ll bring you with Her – like being collected by a parent to bring you home!

When this happens it feels like you’re still on earth but with your heart ❤️ and more besides already in Heaven.

For the spiritually advanced this half on earth half in Heaven heart and mind space, this soul space, is quite painful. It’s a longing that the soul realizes can’t be truly fulfilled in this life.

Overall this is how we become God’s possession.

Bear in mind though that at any point along the way you can drive the Spirit away from you (traditionally known as the effect of mortal sin)

Once we’ve made it possible for the Holy Spirit to breach our personal space and provided we remain faithful to the four essentials she begins to melt us and mould us and a new person is formed – St. Paul’s new man or woman – and this new man or woman will always manifest clearly identifiable qualities, characteristics, traits… which are in fact the gifts and the fruits of the Holy Spirit fully developed.

But God won’t leave it there. No, there’ll be other gifts bestowed which will be given primarily to help the recipient bring others to Jesus.

To give some idea of the breath of gifts that God might bestow it is necessary to look to the lives of the saints.

So, as an essential part of preparation for Confirmation I recommend reading at least one of the many written accounts of the life of Padre Pio.

You don’t have to do this now, or pre Confirmation, but at some point in the coming months.

Confirmation Session 3.1: How to pray

Create the space and the time.

In prayer speak to God as you would to another person, as you would to a friend using your own words. What do you speak about when you meet your friends? When you’re on a sleep-over? When you meet a friend for coffee or lunch? That’s the stuff of prayer, talk to God as you would to a friend.

Don’t be afraid to speak audibly (out loud) if it helps.

Tell him all that’s going on in your life… in your own words. Adults might like to tell him all the gossip… then watch your attitude change!

It may help if you’ve got something to focus on, an image or a statue, or from wherever you are situated, to turn toward the tabernacle in your local church and empty out your heart and mind… over time this will lead to a profound silence in which the soul and God communicate without and beyond words.

When using images remember there’s an order, Jesus first, Mary second; an order that Mary herself respects.

For this reason I recommend turning toward the tabernacle in your local church although this orientation doesn’t exclude the use of a statue of Mary in your prayer space, it just means that if you’re asking Mary for something at least you can look away from her toward her Son because this is the totality of all that she can do in response to you asking her in the first place.

You see anything Mary obtains for us, she obtains by praying to her Son, so as we move our gaze away from her and toward her Son we’re uniting our gaze with that of Mary, a combined look toward her Son.

In prayer it’s vital to grasp that God has shown himself in Jesus and all that God wants us to know is to be found in Jesus.

Therefore we must pay close attention to the teachings of Jesus which are found in the four books of the Gospels.

A convenient way to access the teachings of Jesus is by paying close attention to the Sunday Gospels – a good reason to go to Mass on Sundays!

Read them over and over, sit with them, through them Christ will teach you about the inner workings of Heaven, of God Himself.

If we persist in prayer God will begin to trust us with himself and his inner world, with Heaven, and even a few scraps from Heaven are worth more than everything the world has to offer!

When you’ve learned to speak with God in your own words you will find it easier to pray using the traditional formulas.

Remember, the traditional prayer 🙏 formulas were once someone’s own words based on their experience of God.

Now go make that experience your own!

Confirmation Session 3: Prayer – convincing God we’re serious

Prayer is the use of our freedom to invite God to breach our personal space.

It’s our consent, our permission given to God. Such is God’s respect for human freedom that without this invitation… this consent… this permission… God will not enter our personal space.

So without prayer God remains outside… distant… remote… little more than a thought or a possibility!

Prayer is vital…

Without it… nothing!

Prayer must become an essential part of the rhythm of our lives… as important as our food or our nights rest.

It must become a daily activity, twice daily, three times a day, over years… and more years!

It will require its own uninterrupted time and space.

The only difference between you (or me) and Padre Pio is the amount of time spent in prayer and the quality of that prayer. The only difference between the many who are called and the few who are chosen is the amount of time spent in prayer and the quality of that prayer.

If you’re ready to develop this level of commitment…

Start by asking God to create in your very self a real hunger and thirst for Him.

Without a hunger and a thirst for God you’re not likely to even start this journey.

Sometimes, the hunger and desire for God is created out of real human need… a crisis… the feeling that there’s nowhere else to go…

Often though, we need to create it ourselves by simply asking for it over time.

At the same time ask the Holy Spirit to come and make her home in you. Invite the Holy Spirit to begin breaching your personal space and to take you into God.

In the next session we’ll look at how we might pray, how we might make these requests.

Confirmation Session 2: How we choose God

Choosing God is really about convincing God that we’re serious about him, that we’re sincere, 100% genuine, otherwise God will leave us alone.

God will not give us his gifts 🎁

He just won’t!

So, how do we convince God that we’re serious, sincere, genuine?

We will convince God that we’re serious, sincere, and genuine by:

  1. Praying 🙏, spending time with God. In the case of Confirmation by asking God – begging God – to give us the Holy Spirit.
  2. By going to Mass… but it needs to be more than just going to Mass, it needs to be a very conscious uniting of ourselves with the priest to raise the very person of Jesus Christ in his one eternal redemptive sacrifice.*
  3. By trying to avoid offending God and when we have offended God by apologizing.
  4. By actively doing good.

To convince God we will need to do these things over a period of time, we will need to be committed, sincere, and genuine over the long haul.

We will not fool God and there are no shortcuts!

When we’ve proved ourselves to God, when God knows that he can trust us with his gifts 🎁, only then will he begin to give them to us… but not a moment before we’ve earned this trust.

When we’ve earned God’s trust (it’s called being faithful) he’ll draw us into intimacy, closeness, into his confidence.

At first, he’ll show us small stuff, little insights, he’ll open the door slightly and let us see inside Heaven, just a little bit… and if we use this small stuff properly he’ll trust us with ever greater and greater things.

In the next session we’ll look at the first of the four essentials in how we choose God: Praying 🙏.

*I’ll explain this in Session 4: Mass as prayer.