A Living Sacrifice Posts

When I saw the following writing on the Facebook page of Fr. David Abernethy I was greatly moved. In so many ways it describes the interior journey of a person who is living with ALS. A person with ALS will eventually lose their ability to eat and drink, thus beginning a fast for the rest of their lives. Thankfully, I can still chew and swallow, but it gets harder every day. I know that the time will come when feedings through a tube will be my only source of nourishment. It is then that my great fast preparing for the eternal feast of in heaven will begin.

Second is sorrowing, or weeping. This is something that has come to be a part of my life. I weep over lost abilities. I weep in frustration. I weep over what might have been. I weep for family and friends. I weep in sorrow for my sins. Tears in prayer are a great gift, and many of the saints, including my patron, St. Benedict, had this gift in abundance. I’m in good company.

The next thing this writing speaks so eloquently about is solitude. The person living with ALS often describes the experience as being trapped inside their own body. I can identify with that feeling. When I can’t move my body, when I can’t effectively communicate my needs it feels like I am trapped. That word however, doesn’t sit well with me. I am not so much trapped, as I am choosing to be like the holy monks who live in solitude. One thing you might not know about me is that monastic spirituality has always been part of my life, and I have often longed to become a monk. Now God has given me the chance. My body is my monastery.

The final thing this anonymous author writes of is prayer. This is the one thing ALS cannot take away. No matter the state of my body, I can always pray. Since prayer is the way we meet God, I will always have someone I can actually talk with and who understands me perfectly.

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Ascetic: Reflections on the Way of Self-Sacrifice

Written by Anonymous.

A boy once approached his father, ‘Old man, why do you fast?’ The father stood silent, bringing heart and mind together, and then:

‘Beloved boy, I fast to know what it is I lack.

For day by day I sit in abundance, and

all is well before me;

I want not, I suffer not, and I

lack but that for which I invent a need.

But my heart is empty of true joy,

filled, yet overflowing with dry waters.

There is no room left for love.

I have no needs, and so my needs are never met,

no longings, and so my desires are never fulfilled.

Where all the fruits of the earth could dwell, I have

filled the house with dust and clouds;

It is full, so I am content—

But it is empty, and so I weep.

‘Thus I fast, beloved, to know the

dust in which I dwell.

I take not from that which I might take,

for in its absence I am left empty,

and what is empty stands ready to be

filled.

I turn from what I love, for my love is barren,

and by it I curse the earth.

I turn from what I love, that I may purify my loving,

and move from curse to blessing.

‘From my abundance I turn to want,

as the soldier leaves the comfort of home,

of family and love,

to know the barrenness of war.

For it is only amongst the fight, in the

torture of loss, in the fire of battle,

that lies are lost and the blind man

clearly sees.

In hunger of body and mind, I see

the vanity of food,

for I have loved food as food,

and have never been fed.

In weary, waking vigil I see

the vanity of sleep,

for I have embraced sleep as desire,

and have never found rest.

In sorrow, with eyes of tears I see

the vanity of pleasure,

for I have treasured happiness above all,

and have never known joy.

‘I fast, beloved child, to crush the wall

that is my self;

For I am not who I am, just as these passions

are not treasures of gold but of clay.

I fast to die, for it is not the living who are

raised, but the dead.

I fast to die, for it is not the living who are

raised, but the dead.

I fast to crucify my desires, for He who was

crucified was He who lived,

and He who conquered,

and He who lives forever.’

***

The ascetic mind is not one of stone, cold and darkened to the outside world. Too often, those who stand apart from the heavenly struggle see it thus, and thereby see it askew. To climb is not to descend, and to grow is not to die. Those who reject the world do so not out of hatred, not out of scorn for the creation into which they have been born, but out of most profound love. It takes a true love deeper than most will ever know, to consider the world with such fondness and thanksgiving that one is willing to let it go. Hope and faith must be of the profoundest sort, if ever they are to give birth to a heart willing to break away from creation, that it might one day be united more fully to it.

The ascetic heart knows the world, and knows that it is good. It can see the tranquil pond, the azure sky, the frail leaf, and catch in every glimpse the radiant shimmer of the Divine. In all things there is God.

The ascetic heart knows creation, and rejoices in its bounty. It sees the breath drawn in and out by all creatures, watches as they mingle together in the Creator’s hands. There is fawn, there is bird, there is beast, but all are life, and all life is in Christ.

The ascetic heart knows humanity. In its gentle sight there is no man, no woman—only brother and sister, father and mother, daughter and son. The family of human life is united together with a bond only this heart can truly see, and once it is seen, it is all that can be seen in man. That bond of communion, reflection of the Divine, is the nature of human being.

The ascetic heart knows itself, and knows that it is good. For all that may darken and stain its surface, the handiwork of a Craftsman is still beloved, and what was once made divine can only be sullied and perverted, but never wholly destroyed. The ascetic heart looks within, and knows of a great Beauty to be found inside its own walls.

Yet this same ascetic heart also knows of darkness. As much as it has rejoiced over its light and fullness, so much has it bewailed its void and emptiness. A brilliant light which cannot be seen suffers not always from its source, but rather from its surroundings—the ascetic heart is pure, but its purity is covered in shame. It is the unique gift of the ascetic to know this, and her divine blessing that such knowledge wells up tears of grief like none the world can call forth. To gaze deep within and see the Sun darkened with stains is to be pained in soul, to see nature perfected and destroyed at once and in the same breath. Unbridled joy and soul wrenching agony collide; and if their collision be perfect, the ascetic heart is born.

***

The boy approached his father, gently, ‘Old man, why do you sorrow?’ The old man softened his tears:

‘Beloved, my sorrow is my joy.

Where there is no weeping, there is

no rejoicing,

And he who has not sorrowed

has never known delight.

‘I sorrow for the darkness that

I see within,

for the depth of the divide I have

cast between my mind and my heart.

I sorrow, for I have become

a source of sorrow,

and if I do not weep

I shall never be healed.

‘What God has blessed, I have squandered,

and therefore all the mountains weep.

Shall I yet rejoice?

See me, an aged man of squandered days,

a vessel of life confined to death—

yet merry, at peace, rejoicing!

‘No, beloved, let us weep.

Let us know sorrow, for then

we know ourselves, then we see.

No more in ignorance, but in truth

let us walk,

acknowledging our woe,

weeping with the earth.

When its sorrow is our sorrow,

then the weight shall crush my bones

—and crushed, I shall be reborn.

‘Sorrow is the door, dear boy,

the door of joy pure and true.

With every tear we shed,

we rejoice more fully,

exist more wholly,

love more purely.’

And with this, the old man’s words ceased, his mouth was still. And as the tears brimmed within his eyes, his joy radiated as the sun.

***

How captive are we, we fallen children, to the pleasures and passions that rule our lives. How we treasure the chains which imprison us, bestowing upon them garlands and wreathes, adorning them as friends. We sit bound by our desires, a lamentable state, yet we rejoice, for our eyes are shut fast; and as in a dream we see our confinement as freedom, our chains as wings.

The ascetic heart knows the darkness of this cell that is our fallen state, the chill of the stone walls that barricade us as if in tombs while yet we walk alive. And this heart knows, too, the cunning poison that is our joy, when founded in these walls—a poison sweet as honey, that dries the blood even as it tickles the tongue. The ascetic heart knows the deep reality of bondage, of the lament of all creation when a human person is bound to death, and recognizes the truth of the chains that bind him. Yet for the ascetic, the chains lose their appeal, their draw—for he knows that only the yoke offered by Christ can lead upward, inward, forward to Life.

One might feel pity, when seeing the ascetic, for he whose heart is borne aloft to God is the very man whose tears flow more freely than most, who weeps in time of rejoicing and sorrows at the festivals of the day. Yet how absent from the need for pity is the man who knows the sorrow of the world, for it is only he who knows its joy! Only when the illusion of ‘life’ is seen for all its empty reality, can the space within one’s vision that so long it occupied be filled—at long last—with the vision of Truth.

The sorrow of the ascetic is not a hopeless sadness, but a hope-filled lament for all that is distant from God. It is the heart weeping for its loss, even in the same breath that it receives its gain, just as the father wept for his prodigal son even as the latter rushed with longing into his father’s arms. The tears wept in this divine sorrow are tears of purification, the divine waters of baptismal grace welling up anew from the depths of the heart, purifying flesh and soul as they ascend upward and outward, finally to fall to the waiting earth.

It is in sorrow that the ascetic heart finds the doorway to joy. A heart petrified so long by the dry passions and fleeting winds of worldly desires becomes hardened, parched, incapable of change or growth. It is this parched earth that the ascetic waters with her tears, pained at her heart’s barrenness, but stirred with profoundest joy at the knowledge that each drop of water transforms the very earth itself.

As sorrow gives rise to tears, so is the hardened heart softened. As the heart is softened, holiness is born. As holiness is born, so divine transformation occurs. And where God transforms life, there all joy and hope, love and peace are found. Thus does the ascetic sorrow, for in sorrow is the door to life.

***

The boy approached his father, sat and questioned, ‘Old man, why are you alone? Why your solitude?’ The elder sighed, his breath light as the sky:

‘All the world is one, beloved,

kept entire in the hand of God.

Solitude is an illusion,

a fleeting vision;

for when one is still

he is never alone.

‘And yet the world turns,

turns with haste toward its ends—

fleeting, fallen, manmade all.

And we, too, turn,

glancing here and there, with

vision rushed, blurred;

never one, but divided.

‘I am alone, beloved, for the sake

of our communion.

Only in solitude is stillness born,

only there is it nurtured—

that great gift by which we live.

Divine silence can be found but

when the heart is still:

alone in its quest,

alone with God.

Thus solitude brings quiet,

and quiet the stillness where

whispers cease,

and here, the voice of God.

‘Hear me well, dear boy:

my solitude is my communion;

alone, we are together.

In solitude I see Christ whole,

for I am wholly His.

By this vision I am transformed,

my eyes at last beholding Life,

and Life reviving the blood of my veins.

I am Adam, wailing alone before the gates.

I quiet my tears to hear God beside me

—and am healed.

‘Thus my solitude, thus am I alone:

to know the depth of Christ within

and heal all that is without.

For when in solitude I come to know God,

I am united to Him in love,

united to Him who fills all,

And my solitude becomes my communion,

as alone I embrace the world.’

***

The call to retreat is mystical. There is divine grace even in the pin-prick voice of the inspired conscience, which through its love for the way of the Cross takes note of the desert, there sees a palace, and calls with longing for its transformation into home. It is the voice which called Christ into the sands of Judea, Anthony into the dunes of Egypt, Saba into the valleys of Palestine, and every human person into the desert of his own life. With echoes of the voice of God, this chord within the human soul seeks retreat, departure from the ways of extravagance and ease, and builds within the heart the desire for battle in the solitude of the sand.

Who has lived and not at some time heard—however faintly—this call? In the busiest moments, in the most absorbed, who has not felt the inexplicable desire for solitude, for a place of silence and peace in which to make sense of the world’s stage? Perhaps but for a fleeting instant, yet this desire is truly felt, and that instant can change the soul. There is crisis, for in the infinite smallness of that single moment, the great magnitude of life is felt, and a sense of distance formed.

It is the gift of the ascetic heart to live in this moment, to cultivate the seed of so precious an instant into the fruit of a whole life changed, woven to the garment of Christ. In this heart the moment of the call is extended to the span of life, for the call is sweet, and the heart knows that such an invitation cannot but be heeded. Love answers Love, for it is the One who is the essence of love whose voice has pierced the soul.

Thus is born the desire for retreat. Yes, to retreat is to flee, but the ascetic flees the world not to abandon it, rather to embrace it. It is not that she hates the world that the ascetic runs, but because she loves it too dearly to be captive to it falsely. To love the world in sin is to shame both the lover and the loved, to deny the holiness of both. Retreat becomes the means for purification, for sanctification, that holy may meet holy, and in purity embrace at last.

Solitude becomes communion, true communion, for our unity as brother and sister is naught but for our union with Christ, and this is in us all most fallen. Fragmented, torn from Christ and ourselves, we can never be whole. The family of humanity is a great and marvelous image formed after the nature of a puzzle with pieces intertwined, embracing. But if each piece will not itself be one, then the puzzle may never be fit. Thus the ascetic plunges into solitude, departure, for here the broken self is healed. Here distractions falls before the gates of contemplation, and fallen being finds reality in communion with the Maker of all. Here, alone, the thread is re-spun, strengthened, purified, brightened, that it may be woven as never before into the fabric of humanity.

Christ will be all in all, and all in Him must be one. But community without self is illusory, finite. The ascetic sees this, and in the vision sees response in flight. Alone, alone in the solitude of prayer, does he join the world at last.

***

The boy knelt at his father’s knees, ‘Dear man, how do you pray?’ The old man sighed a gentle sigh, smiling in his eyes. All questions came to this. Here the great meeting place of life, and of its nature the elder spoke:

‘Beloved, prayer is life,

and apart from it is only darkness.

It is the breath of the soul which yearns for God,

joining with His breath,

becoming one.

Prayer is the only light by which men can see,

the only vision they are called to adore,

for it is union with God

and in this union—everything.

‘Prayer is the quiet of a storm-tossed will,

an intellect guarded from the seas,

a mind centered upon God Most High.

It is stillness wrought in the midst of motion,

in which all that moves is God,

and with Him, all the world.

Prayer knows no words, if it is true,

for words belittle the presence of the Divine,

confound the conversation of Him who is all in all.

True prayer is beyond words,

transcending speech and thought,

communing with One who is greater than these,

Who works beyond them,

and in Whose presence they are no longer required.

Prayer is the stillness of the tongue,

of the mind, of the heart,

that God and these may come together

apart from words—one.

‘To pray, beloved, is to gather with Christ

at the shores of eternity;

To realize that these shores are within,

manifested in each human heart—

the infinite contained in the finite.

The One who came as Man and dwelt in a womb,

now dwells in the very heart of man.

Prayer is His energy, His activity,

vibrant in the human soul,

alive through His very Spirit,

stirring life to new heights

in the soul that has become quiet,

still enough to feel His breath.

‘We pray in our weakness, beloved,

for it makes us strong;

We pray in our strength,

for it makes us humble;

We pray in height and depth,

for prayer is our center—

It is the heart and nature of being,

the very root of spiritual life.

We pray when we know not how to pray,

for then it is not we,

but Christ who prays in us;

and the groanings of His Spirit

show the way.

‘To pray, dear child, simply sit.

Ask for the blessing of Him

with Whom you wish to commune.

Call Him near to you,

for without Him you have already lost.

Then close your eyes, child,

and banish every thought—

the good as well as the bad.

Whisper out only for His mercy,

and you shall receive it.

Let your heart be still,

Let your thoughts descend within,

for in the heart is Christ,

and only His wings will give you flight.

Then rest there, beloved,

in that place of still silence:

It is time for the Lord to act.

‘Prayer shall move you,

if only you will let it.

It will bear you to new heights,

transform your life and being;

But it will cost you your life,

your mind, your heart—

everything.

It will take of your time and energy,

it will consume your life;

But there is no reward greater than prayer.

So work, child.

Open your heart—and pray.’

***

The ascetic heart is ultimately a heart of prayer. It is this heart that yearns for communion with God Most High, and will sacrifice all the world for such union. It is the heart willing to cast aside every hindrance and sinful chain that weighs down the soul from its proper dwelling place in the bosom of Christ God, that the race to obtain the prize may be fought more fully, more readily.

In prayer, the ascetic finds his home; for prayer is the union of man with God, and this the state for which humanity was created at the dawn of time. Such union, wrought by the grace of God in concert with the faithful work of man, is the only true life of the human race. Apart from it, life is but a shadow; within it, the smallest man or woman radiates more brightly than the very sun.

True prayer is not speech, nor is it discussion. These are steps along the path to true, inner prayer, but they are not the goal. Speech is forged of words, and words of finite minds, and finite minds are ultimately incapable of grasping the fullness of divine Truth. Thus words begin the ascent, provide the path which leads to the mountaintop, but cannot reach its peak.

At the height of prayer all speech must cease. The God who transcends speech energizes the human soul and body to the attainment of intimate, personal union with Himself, whence knowledge and communion are of experience and not of words. The heart of prayer communes with God not through any mediating speech or conversation, but through direct connection and communion. God lifts the ascetic to Himself in prayer, and there she comes to know God.

What a mystery is this union of prayer! How can it be that God and man, Creator and created, come together as one? Yet God is not blasphemed in such a notion; all the saints and the whole witness of the holy Church testify to this most personal of unities that is the heart of prayer. Shall we sinful men know greater truths than they? The wish of the Saviour was, and remains, that He and man might be one; in prayer, when prayer be inner and true, His wish is born a reality.

The ascetic prays, and strives to pray. Her prayer is weak, yet it leads to perfection. And this the most profound of mysteries, that prayer, the fruit and goal of all ascetic labor, stands also as that labor’s greatest tool. The perfect is attained by the imperfect, and outer, base prayer shall eventually lead to glory. Though prayer be the target, it is also the bow by which the arrow is launched to hit the mark; and so the ascetic heart prays, that it might learn to pray. His cry remains, ‘Teach us to pray. Pray within us.’

The ascetic life is summed up in prayer, and prayer is attained by the ascetic life. There can be no true prayer in a soul untrained and unprepared, thus for the call of prayer the whole world is charged to take up the ascetic walk. This walk and this heart are not reserved for a select few, for only the monastics or the clergy, or the greatest of saints; they are the charge of every human person, the call of every human life. In the midst of any station, there can the ascetic heart be fostered—there can it flourish.

It is the gift of the ascetic heart to know, truly know the world, and it is the gift of the unworthy world to possess the call to this heavenward life. It is the very source of life, for life is in God and God is in prayer; it is the upward call of Christ Jesus in a world of fallen passions; it is the charge of heaven, the life of the angels, offered to frail humanity by a loving and benevolent God. Let there then be no delay: arise, take up this yoke so deft and yet so light to bear, and find in its ultimate struggle the only true peace and rest for the human soul.

“Yet even now,” says the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments.” Return to the Lord, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and repents of evil. – Joel 2:12-13

These words, from today’s Epistle, are familiar, for they are read to us every Ash Wednesday. They give us a clear sense of what this Holy Season of Lent is about. But this passage begs a question. It begins with “Yet even now,” what exactly is this “now” that this passage refers to? Well, if we were to open up our Bibles and take a look at the beginning of the chapter, we will find a description of what this “now” refers to. Here is what it says:

Blow the trumpet in Zion;
sound the alarm on my holy mountain!
Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble,
for the day of the Lord is coming, it is near,  a day of darkness and gloom,
a day of clouds and thick darkness!
Like blackness there is spread upon the mountains
a great and powerful people;
their like has never been from of old,
nor will be again after them
through the years of all generations.

Fire devours before them,
and behind them a flame burns.
The land is like the garden of Eden before them,
but after them a desolate wilderness,
and nothing escapes them.

Their appearance is like the appearance of horses,
and like war horses they run.
As with the rumbling of chariots,
they leap on the tops of the mountains,
like the crackling of a flame of fire
devouring the stubble,
like a powerful army
drawn up for battle.

Before them peoples are in anguish,
all faces grow pale.
Like warriors they charge,
like soldiers they scale the wall.
They march each on his way,
they do not swerve from their paths.
They do not jostle one another,
each marches in his path;
they burst through the weapons
and are not halted.
They leap upon the city,
they run upon the walls;
they climb up into the houses,
they enter through the windows like a thief.

The earth quakes before them,
the heavens tremble.
The sun and the moon are darkened,
and the stars withdraw their shining.
The Lord utters his voice
before his army,
for his host is exceedingly great;
he that executes his word is powerful.
For the day of the Lord is great and very terrible;
who can endure it?

YET EVEN NOW! Even in the midst of darkness, terror, confusion, the sun, moon, and stars not giving light, the drumbeat the of war, fire, and destruction of every kind. Even now, says the Lord, return to Me.

The times described here as the “day of the Lord” are much like our own. We can see it both in the Church and in the world. In the world we see the darkness and clouds of the culture of death envelop us. Joe Biden and his administration are fighting tooth and nail to make sure that every woman has the “right” to murder their own baby while it is still in her mother’s womb. We see our nation devolve into violence where mobs of wicked people riot, loot, and murder with the approval of many of our leaders. We hear the drumbeat of war in far off lands as even our Capitol is surrounded by a fence and armed soldiers occupy Capitol Hill. We have division far and wide, with constant questions about the integrity of our elections. Hatred abounds in politics and society at large. And this is only the beginning! I could go on and on, and this is only our country!

The Church fares no better. As Pope Paul VI rightly said in 1972, “… We would say that, through some mysterious crack—no, it’s not mysterious; through some crack, the smoke of Satan has entered the Church of God.” Indeed, the smoke and filth of Satan has entered into the very halls of power within the Church. The very bride of Christ has been sullied by her leaders.

We have seen in the last hundred years the systematic destruction of the Sacred Liturgy, and the consequent disbelief in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. We have seen dissident theologians, even bishops, cardinals, and, perish the thought, popes, infiltrate the Church with the purpose of injecting confusion, false teaching, and Marxist ideas into her. We have seen homosexual, drug filled orgies just yards from the resting place of the Rock, St. Peter. We have witnessed the horrific abuse of minors by priests, bishops, and cardinals. As if that was not bad enough, the primarily homosexual predation was covered up, even to the point of the highest authority in the Church knowing about it, and still reassigning these same abusers to prestigious posts. We have seen over and over again financial scandals in the Vatican. And it only seems to get worse by the day as more and more priests, bishops, cardinals, and popes are revealed for who they really are.

Yes, darkness, destruction, and great evil is at work, even in our beloved Church.

We could, with all this, think that all is lost, that evil has won, and now all that is left is for final disaster to come. We could become bitter and angry. We could lose our peace and despair. But that is not the way of the Christian. The way of the Christian is to even now, in most dire circumstances, to turn back to the Lord with all our heart, with fasting, with weeping and mourning, and with hearts torn asunder in grief over the sin that has invaded our lives. Then, when the Lord has seen our repentance, he may relent.

The response of the Christian is to turn to Jesus; to turn to him with great trust in his mercy and love. Now, my children, is the time of mercy, so we must embrace that mercy now, before it is too late. As Jesus said to St. Faustina, “Speak to the world about My mercy; let all mankind recognize My unfathomable mercy. It is a sign for the end times; after it will come the day of justice. While there is still time, let them have recourse to the fount of My mercy; let them profit from the Blood and Water which gushed forth for them.” (Divine Mercy in My Soul, 848) The fount of mercy that Jesus here refers to is the Sacrament of Confession, wherein the blood of Jesus flows down upon us from his wounded heart washing away our sins. This is THE way that we turn back to the Lord. During these times, more than ever, we need to visit the tribunal of mercy often, even weekly! Would that every priest had to hear confession eighteen hours a day, as St. John Vianney did, because the demand for the Sacrament was so high.

As we stand on this Ash Wednesday, we see the forty days of Lent stretch before us. These days are given to us as precious opportunities to turn back to the Lord before it is too late. The days are dark. The smoke of Satan is everywhere. Destruction is all around us. For many of us, there are personal struggles that weigh heavily upon us, and all seems lost. Even now, says the Lord, turn to me!

Judas Maccabeus replied to them, “It is not on the size of the army that victory in battle depends, but strength comes from Heaven. They come against us in great pride and lawlessness to destroy us and our wives and our children, and to despoil us; but we fight for our lives and our laws. He himself will crush them before us; as for you, do not be afraid of them.” – 1 Maccabees 3:19-22

My dear sons in Christ Jesus, how it brings me joy to hear that you are joined together in retreat at a place so dear to me. A place where my priestly vocation was nourished by many who lie buried at the bottom of the hill. It will be forever to me Holy Ground where I met God in prayer.

The scripture quoted above is part of a speech that Judas Maccabeus gave to his small army of faithful Israelites as their vast and mighty enemies approached to impose on them things contrary to the Law of God. These enemies sought to disrupt and defile their worship, their temple, and their morals. Judas would have none of that nonsense, so he formed a small army to resist. This resistance was the way that they fulfilled their duty as men and fathers. In the same way you, as men and fathers, must resist the spirit of wickedness that has invaded our nation and our church.

We see quite clearly how our nation has devolved if we have eyes to see. Abortion threatens to take the lives of our children, and our “Catholic” leaders seem to be just fine with that. Religious freedom is threatened by the government constantly trying to tell us if we can have Holy Mass, how far we must sit from each other, and how many can attend. Even nuns are told by our government that they must violate the teaching of the Church on contraception or face steep fines. And the drumbeat of war keeps getting louder and louder, while our own Capitol is occupied by armed soldiers.

The Church too has seen the infiltration by leaders set on the destruction of authentic Catholic worship. In its place they seek to make what should be an act of transcendence, reverence, and sacrificial into a banal, effeminate celebration, that requires nothing of those in attendance. It has also seen a significant infiltration of homosexual clergy, bishops and priests alike. We have all seen the destruction these men have done to the Church through homosexual predation and subsequent cover ups that have gone as far up as the Papal Palace. We also are witnessing the fallout of fifty years of poor catechesis, lax teaching, and a general lack of belief on the part of our leaders. That fallout takes the form of the vast majority of Catholics no longer coming to Holy Mass, confession, or flat out not believing that Jesus is truly present in Holy Communion. Truly it is a sad and distressing affair that puts millions at risk of losing their souls. It is a dire situation that requires action, and this is where all of you come in.

Just as Judas Maccabeus put together a rag tag army, so God is raising you up to fight for your wives and children against the enemies who seek to destroy our Worship, our morality, and our very faith. So, small though you may be, God will win the victory through you. Our strength is not in numbers but in the strength that comes from heaven. Now is a time for warriors! So, as the hymn says, rise up, oh men of God!

Rise up and take up the weapon of the Holy Rosary! Pray it every single day without fail. Our Lady of Fatima commanded us to take up this weapon daily, not occasionally. As a friend often says, “if you’re not praying the Rosary every day, you’re not on the team.”

Arm yourselves with frequent confession and Holy Communion. Defend our Worship against those who would strip it of its dignity, reverence, and awe-inspiring majesty. Beg your priests to defend tradition and true Catholic identity. The way to draw people back to Holy Mass is through tradition, not by the effeminate liturgy we so often see. Our young people want substance, not a dumbed down, “relevant” Mass! So, fight for this in your parishes.

Take up, dear brothers your God given call to be leaders. First in your family by leading them in daily prayer and transmitting the pure, unadulterated faith of our ancestors to them. Lead too in your parishes, your community, and even our nation. If we as faithful Catholics are afraid to lead, someone else will, and if history is any indication, those leaders will be corrupt, immoral, and downright wicked, so rise up, oh men of God!

Also, we as men need to stop being afraid of what others think. As Judas Maccabeus said, have no fear! Will people think we are off our rocker when we defend the rights of the unborn, if we speak out against the scourge of pornography, if we pray our Rosary and go to confession regularly? Will they think us crazy if we demand of our priests and bishops solid teaching and traditional liturgy? Yes. They will. But who cares? Heaven is worth having people think we’re nuts.

Take as your model in this battle for souls St. Joseph, Terror of Demons. His very name strikes fear into the powers of hell. He protected his wife, the Virgin Mary, and his son, Jesus the Savior of mankind in the face of the enemy. He was devoted to Jesus. He was devoted to our Lady. He was fearless when things got rough for the Holy Family and they had to flee to Egypt. He was faithful to the traditions of his ancestors. He worshipped and prayed with reverence and devotion. And he slays Demons. Be like St. Joseph! Live a life that will cause the very Demons to tremble!

In doing all this you will bring your families closer to Our Lord as well as many others. This is ultimately the task of evangelization. To save our souls, the souls of our family, and the souls of countless others by entering into combat is our call. We must do what Judas Maccabeus and his men did. It is what discipleship and evangelization requires in our day and age. So, without fear, head into battle! The souls of many are at stake!

St. Joseph, Terror of Demons, pray for us!

St. Benedict, pray for us!