Thursday 19th April 2018

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March 16, 2018 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

Q. In discussing the Arian heresy, which denied the divinity of Christ, a friend wondered why Christ, who is omniscient, would say that only the Father knows the end of the world. Please clarify this. — L.S., via e-mail.
A. In Mark 13:32, Jesus said of the day that the world will end, “no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” Of course, Jesus as God knew when the end would come, but He was not sent by the Father to make this information known. In the words of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (n. 474):
“By its union to the divine wisdom in the person of the Word incarnate, Christ enjoyed in his human knowledge the fullness of the understanding of the eternal plans he had come to reveal. What he admitted to not knowing in this area, he elsewhere declared himself not sent to reveal” [cf. Mark 13:32; Acts 1:7].
Q. Do you know the names of the 14 Catholic U.S. senators who voted against a ban on abortion after 20 weeks of gestation? Shouldn’t they be excommunicated? — D.M., via e-mail.
A. At issue was the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. According to LifeSiteNews, on January 29 the U.S. Senate effectively voted against banning late-term abortions on most five-month-old babies who can feel pain, with 46 out of 97 senators voting to continue debate on the bill, thus not allowing the Senate to vote on the bill itself.
The text of the bill noted that “after 20 weeks, the unborn child reacts to stimuli that would be recognized as painful if applied to an adult human, for example, by recoiling.”
Those purported Catholics who voted against the ban included two Republicans (Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine) and 12 Democrats (Maria Cantwell of Washington, Dick Durbin of Illinois, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Tim Kaine of Virginia, Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Ed Markey of Massachusetts, Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Bob Menendez of New Jersey, Patty Murray of Washington, and Jack Reed of Rhode Island).
While the votes of these alleged Catholics were gravely sinful and placed their souls in what Dr. Ed Peters called “mortal jeopardy,” the canon lawyer said that voting for abortion is not subject to excommunication.
Only “procuring a completed abortion” is an offense incurring excommunication. He said in his blog In the Light of the Law that the withholding of Holy Communion from these 14 “urgently needs to be implemented, but not in response to a single act (for that theory is canonically doomed to failure), but rather in response to a demonstrable string of such acts taken by most of the Bloody 14.”
Peters said that “the repeated, though for now misguided, calls for excommunication in these cases, and the repeated but worth considering calls for withholding Holy Communion in these cases share this: They spring almost completely from Catholic laity and are almost completely ignored by ecclesiastical leadership. This almost total, multi-decade disconnect between people and pastors is a source of serious tension in the Church. Pray that such tension is relieved before it erupts into even more serious problems.”
One bishop who takes his responsibility seriously on this matter is Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki of Springfield, Ill., the diocese where Sen. Dick Durbin resides. In a statement issued on February 13, Bishop Paprocki said that because Durbin’s “voting record in support of abortion over many years constitutes ‘obstinate persistence in manifest grave sin’ [cf. canon 915 of the Code of Canon Law], the determination continues that Sen. Durbin is not to be admitted to Holy Communion until he repents of this sin. This provision is intended not to punish, but to bring about a change of heart. Sen. Durbin was once pro-life. I sincerely pray that he will repent and return to being pro-life.”
Q. I am currently in a state of spiritual desolation. I am very joyful that God is purifying my love for Him at this time, but I am also confused and mad as to why I never knew about spiritual desolation before. I am a typical Catholic who goes to church every Sunday, but why has my priest never talked about this? I feel that this is a big problem since many people who leave the Church thinking that “God isn’t there” are really experiencing spiritual desolation. Please explain why this topic is talked about so little. — Name and State Withheld.
A. If you don’t hear priests talk about this from the pulpit, a knowledgeable priest told us, it may be because the topic is not easy to deal with in a ten-minute homily. But he said that if you want to learn more about the topic, you should contact a retreat house and ask for a directed retreat on spiritual desolation and how to deal with it.
As for the topic itself, our priest said the first thing to note is that some of our most beloved saints have experienced spiritual desolation. The list includes St. Teresa of Avila, St. Teresa of Calcutta, St. John of the Cross, and St. Ignatius of Loyola. He said that St. Ignatius experienced the loss of faith, hope, and love and offered insights on how to deal with this spiritual darkness.
After noting that each of us is influenced by spiritual inspirations throughout our lives, our priest said that we are always in a state of either consolation or desolation. We may be oblivious to these spiritual states unless we enter a “school of discernment” and learn how to become aware of their influence. Why would God allow this? Ignatius offers three reasons: The first reason deals with following the false logic of counter-inspirations. When we make wrong choices in our thoughts, words, and deeds, God allows us to experience the darkness of our sins as a holy warning. This experience of desolation is meant to stir our consciences and return us to authenticity.
The second reason is that God wants to awaken our whole being — spirit, mind, and body — to become aware of our hidden wounds. Desolation reveals the ways in which sin has taken root in our spirits, minds, and bodies. Spiritual progress is possible only when we “wake up” and confront these damaging patterns. We might feel discouraged by the darkness at such times. In this moment, however, we must reaffirm our hope in the Lord, who is gradually uprooting the source of the darkness in our being, with our cooperation. Ignatius reminds us that when we feel lost, God is closer to us than ever.
The third reason deals with desolation that appears during times of spiritual advancement. One example might be a period of peace in divine inspiration after a period of purification marked by struggle. At such times, we may be tempted to believe that we have “arrived” and have reached the end of our spiritual journey. This is an illusion. When we find ourselves in these moments of pride and self-satisfaction, the counter-inspirations of desolation return. God allows desolation at these times as a warning, to remind us that although we have grown in authenticity and holiness, we are still susceptible to the narcissism and destructive pride that will halt all our progress.
St. Ignatius developed guidelines for how we should act when we feel the discouragement, hopelessness, and frustration that accompany spiritual desolation. First, he taught that we should never change course when in desolation. He warned that it is a clear sign of counter-inspirations at work when we feel compelled by an “anxious urgency” to reach a decision or engage in an action.
Second, he said that during times of desolation, we need to redouble our efforts to open and orient our hearts to God, even if it feels useless. Prayer, examination of conscience, and simple penance or fasting is helpful as we seek God’s grace (cf. Mark 9:29).
The third guideline is to remember that God will give us the grace we need, building on our natural abilities. When we feel overwhelmed by temptations, or the darkness of spirit associated with disordered attractions and compulsive behaviors, there is always sufficient grace for salvation, even if the counter-inspirations indicate otherwise.
Finally, we must be intentional in our efforts to cultivate patience and perseverance in the religious practices of our faith when influenced by the counter-inspirations of desolation.
As St. Paul said: “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).
It is important to remember, our priest concluded, that God holds you fast during the divine inspirations of consolation, and holds you even closer during the cleansing times of desolation. Affirm your faith in God, hold fast to your spiritual disciplines and the practices of your faith, and seek stability and fidelity both in times of peace and calm and in times of turbulence and struggle. Then God will fill you with peace.

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Interview With Cardinal Burke . . . Discriminating Mercy: Defending Christ And His Church With True Love

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Today . . .

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