Posted by: Thomas Richard | October 24, 2016

A Catholic Program for Change

What are we to do?

The country is at a precipice. A great destructive fall is a strong possibility. A profound darkness is growing, deepening, creeping in all directions: a moral darkness that brings only death by cultural suicide. We don’t know how much time we have, but we ought to begin. Even now, at this very late date, we ought to begin to do what we are supposed to do. We ought to do what God formed and sent us to do: we ought to be light. We ought to be light for this darkening world.

The Church today seems impotent in the midst of a cultural collapse: useless, irrelevant, pointless while a once great nation around her is losing all sense of goodness. This can change. The Church can become what she exists to be, but we – her leaders and her members – must be willing, and prudent. We must see the path before us and we must begin, regardless of the costs, to journey one step at a time in one day at a time toward our calling. We must set our sights on what God has called us to do. We must be witnesses of Truth, of Love, of Justice in the midst of a secular godless consumer-driven society. We must be light to reveal the way for this country that has lost its way. We must regain our mission: witnesses of light.

Here’s how.

We must be Catholic. We must help form faithful Catholic households. We must be, and raise our children to be, faithful Catholic citizens. We must generously raise many children as many blessings in God’s creation: a generation to bring an electoral presence to be reckoned with, a generation to righten the direction of our nation, a generation to bring righteousness and truth to government, to the marketplace, to the judicial system, to the entire country. The Church must become God’s leaven for good, permeating the whole of the texture of secular America.

First, our parishes must form faithful Catholic adults and marriages, faithful Catholic households. We must as a priority form our Catholic adults as disciples of Christ in the Catholic Faith. We must make it a parish expectation that all our adults, of all ages, are personally and intentionally growing in the Faith – ever learning though Bible studies, Catechism studies, prayer workshops, retreats, and so on. Our Catholic adults must be led to engage the question, and find answers to the question, to the mystery of God’s very personal call to them, and for them. We must all face and answer the question: “What does God want of me, in this moment of human history?” Then, as Catholic adults do grow in the Faith, we will see real strengthening in the Faith, in our Catholic homes and families. We will see authentically Catholic homes emerging, and coming alive, and growing in numbers and in the holy faith.

As the program progresses, faithful Catholic parents will begin to ask for, demand, enable and support authentic faithful Catholic schools for their children. Authentic Catholic schools in parishes across the country will be seen in the light of the great, the central importance they hold for our mission. They must be supported by the parish and by the member families! They must be staffed only by faithful and competent Catholic teachers (whether credentialed by the State or not!), who can and will integrate the Catholic faith into every class and every classroom, into the whole school curriculum. The Catholic Faith inculcated in these children in the school will be reinforced and complemented and embraced in their authentic Catholic family life at home. A new “identity group” will emerge in the country, impossible to ignore by the politicians: Catholic Christian Americans who demand a just and righteous government, and who will actively support, lobby and vote for such a government.

This movement could have other consequences, troubling for some, turning the parish and diocese status quo upside-down. Lukewarm and “cafeteria” Catholics could become very uncomfortable in churches that take the Gospel seriously. Lovers of this world and the things of this world would be deeply conflicted in Catholic parishes alive in Christ, some preferring to leave for churches more open to compromise, than to embrace the full call of Christ to conversion. They would have a hard choice: to change, to grow with God’s grace, or to turn away, to leave.

There would be other challenges as well, of financial insecurity and instability in Catholic parishes. Some pastors may become afraid, wanting to abandon the new program of Catholic fidelity to return to the old and easier program of low expectations and status-quo maintenance. Bishops and local pastors who persevere in trust may be forced to find ways to “downgrade” – smaller church and school buildings, less expensive equipment, staff salary and benefits reductions, and so on. We might become poorer in the goods of this world, but happy becoming richer in the goods of the Kingdom that is coming. Those who persevere, who seek to remain faithful to Christ and His call no matter what, will find the treasure of His great blessings here and now, and in the Kingdom to come, indeed “manifold more in this time, and in the age to come eternal life.” (Lk 18:30)

The Church trusting Christ will, with God’s grace, become a new force in the culture, beginning to bring changes for the good. As the Church becomes recognizable, once again, as a truly different and supernatural presence in the world – a presence of Christ among us – seekers from outside the Church will want to “come and see”, as they did years and centuries ago, and membership could begin to grow both in numbers and in participation in the holy life of Jesus Christ.

What will we do?

Godless secularism encountering a Church on fire and alive in Christ can go one of two ways: into hatred, persecution and martyrdom for the Church, or toward conversion, reform, salvation and life in His name. For us, we owe God obedience and trust. For them, we owe them the Truth of the Gospel. In Him we can and must hope that – if we do our part – this country will change. Goodness can begin to grow in America: goodness that God intends to be present in this world: His goodness, alive in His people.

This Program for Church is not a new idea. It is only the Church taking her tradition, her identity and her mission seriously in our time, first within her own membership, and then in outreach to the lost. It is only the Church taking her Lord seriously, following Him with a cross on her back, willing to go where He sends her, in trust. It is only the Church, in faithfulness. Will we as Church do anything differently, as we see the world and those of this country hardening their hearts more and more each decade against God and against the humanity of mankind? Will we stand true in Christ? Or will we merely “maintain” our lukewarm middle ground, and wait until they come for us to take us away?

Posted by: Thomas Richard | October 21, 2016

The Issue of Abortion

Hilary Clinton’s unashamed and forceful support for even partial birth abortion, at the last Presidential Debate this week, was literally incredible. It was difficult to listen to, and to believe! She had no hesitation, no reluctance to affirm: for the sake of the life and health of the mother, the mother and she alone had absolute power over the unborn son or daughter in her womb – even if only one day, or even hours, from normal childbirth!

Think of it. The child would be viable, and ready for life outside of her – the child would be ready for induced labor, moments away from natural birth right then and there! But if the woman decides at the last moment that for some reason “her health” might be threatened in some way by the life of this child, then she should be free to destroy the life of this child. She should be free to kill her baby. And we suppose that the seriousness of the threat to her “health” posed by the life of her child would be a matter to be decided by the woman and the woman alone.

The child in the mother’s womb has no rights, in Hillary Clinton’s world, absolutely no human rights at all. The mother has complete life-or-death power over this child, right up to the birth of the child. No, even worse, right up to the completed birth of the child! The baby can be partially born, his or her little head exposed, so that the doctor can then easily kill him, or her, during the birth process. Thus the horrific and inhuman name for the “procedure” – “partial birth abortion.”

Catholics, can there be any moral justification for such an inhuman “human right” as Democrats want to assure to every woman in the country, and in the world? The next president will have at least one, probably two or more appointments to the Supreme Court – the court which is supposed to judge laws, but has now begun to define or rewrite laws on its own. Can you imagine America under laws allowing the murder of babies in the very process of being born – again? And with a taxpayer-funded Planned Parenthood free to sell baby parts, the by-product of the abortion mills, all for the alleged sake of “science”? Have we really come to this, in America?  Have our hearts become so hardened?

Catholics, can any Catholic – no, can any human being – justify such barbarism, such insanity?

Catholics, can any Christian justify electing such a candidate to be President, having such power and authority?

Here is a comparison the the two Platforms on this particular issue (from Priests for Life website):


There is more, of course, to consider.  Here are some sober and wise words from Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson, of the Knights of Columbus:

Once again we meet during a presidential election campaign in the United States and once again we face the question: “How should Catholics exercise their responsibilities as citizens?”

Catholics often confront a dilemma in deciding how to vote: Can we support a candidate who may be attractive for many reasons but who supports abortion? Some partisan advocates have sought to excuse support for pro-abortion candidates through a complex balancing act.

They claim other issues are important enough to offset a candidate’s support for abortion. But the right to abortion is not just another political issue; it is in reality a legal regime that has resulted in more than 40 million deaths.

Imagine for a moment the largest 25 cities in the United States and Canada suddenly empty of people. This is what the loss of 40 million human beings would look like.

In fact, 40 million is greater than the entire population of Canada. What political issue could possibly outweigh this human devastation?

The answer, of course, is that there is none.

Abortion is different. Abortion is the killing of the innocent on a massive scale. We need to end the political manipulation of Catholic voters by abortion advocates.

It is time to end the entanglement of Catholic people with abortion killing. It is time to stop creating excuses for voting for pro-abortion politicians.

We will never succeed in building a culture of life if we continue to vote for politicians who support a culture of death. Catholic voters have the power to transform our politics.


In this same article, Mr. Anderson cites the wisdom of St. Teresa of Calcutta – “Mother Teresa” – who said,

I feel that the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a war against the child, a direct killing of the innocent child, murder by the mother herself. And if we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another?

Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want.

Catholics of America – please – save this country from the evil ready to creep in upon us, the evil that is called “Progressivism” – an ancient evil as old as sin, as old as the Culture of Death, as old as the father of lies ever seeking to deceive good people to follow his lies into his kingdom of death.

Posted by: Thomas Richard | October 17, 2016

How Should A Christian Vote?


I’m simply urging you  to visit and read what is published on the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association website – a comparison of Platforms of the Republican and Democrat parties.  Thank you, Franklin Graham!  I apologize that we Catholics have not been as helpful to our members, in making plain and simple how obvious it ought to be to vote this election cycle!  The Democrats have a position – read it!  The Republican have a very different stand and direction for our country – read, and compare!  Can there be any doubt or hesitation at all, for a Christian, for a Catholic Christian?  Please, friends – this election is truly a fork in the road: which direction does Christ call us to take?  Read, talk to your friends, and respond – vote, on Nov. 8.


Posted by: Thomas Richard | October 3, 2016

The Last American Election?

The present head and chairman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights for the Obama Administration, Mr. Martin Castro, appointed by Pres. Obama of course, has a very troubling sense of priority concerning “Civil Rights.” He sees such “rights” as superior to and dominant over our traditional American highly treasured right of religious liberty. This ought to be troubling to all those citizens who value the freedom of religion, but especially those Catholics who voted Mr. Obama into office for his first term and even for a second term of office.

Mr. Castro, in a report just this last Sept. 7, wrote (1):

Religious exemptions to the protections of civil rights based upon classifications such as race, color, national origin, sex, disability status, sexual orientation, and gender identity, when they are permissible, significantly infringe upon these civil rights.

What? He is saying that American freedom of religion – a Constitutionally protected freedom, among our inalienable rights – “when they are permissible” (!) “significantly infringe upon these civil rights” such as: “race, color, national origin, sex, disability status, sexual orientation, and gender identity.” Sexual “orientation” and the newly discovered now apparently inalienable right to one’s own preferred “gender identity” is seen as more “inalienable” than the freedom of religion! Tell that news flash to the Founding Fathers of our country.

Hillary Clinton – the present contender for the mantle of progressive leader of our country – would add abortion as a right supreme over religious liberty. She said, defending the “woman’s right to choose” abortion (2):

Laws have to be backed up with resources and political will. And deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed.

Yes, Mrs. Clinton has these pesky religious pro-life beliefs in the cross-hairs, among her targets for re-education! Will we have “re-education camps” for all the cultural regressives who are not yet up to speed on the Politically Correct Thoughts of the People’s Socialist Republic of America? Mr. Obama must be proud of his accomplishments, so far, in his power over the “masses of the retarded” of Middle America.  Do you remember this 2008 line to fellow elitists of California? (3):

You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania, and like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing’s replaced them, …. And they fell through the Clinton Administration, and the Bush Administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not. And it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.

What has this country come to! And how did it ever get here, from the “there” where we began? The answer is, of course, one day at a time. Evil never sleeps, but good men do. Evil never sleeps, but good men and women throughout a country can, and it does not take long for the corruption and the dysfunction to permeate the whole culture: sports, movies, television, the music industry, religious organizations, news media, ….  Leaders and spokesmen throughout the culture bend and redirect the path, and we as a nation are headed straight to hell. “In a handbasket,” as they say.

“America is great because she is good. If America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.” This observation is attributed to Alexis de Tocqueville, “misattributed” according to some, but if he did not say it, someone did and it is true. America attempted something beautiful, a few hundred years ago, and very dark clouds are now gathering over her and indeed over the world.

Mr. Trump has broken the mold for “politician” this cycle, and he promises much – much around the central theme, “We will make America great again!” He is troubling in many ways – can we trust him? Can he deliver? Can he bear the weight of the office? Will he do what he promises?

For me, I will take the chance.  I’m voting for Donald Trump, in hope and with prayer for him and our country.  Mrs. Clinton is a certainty for America – certain disaster – she has proved herself over the many years of her public life, and it is truly (pardon the word) a “deplorable” future she foresees, and promises. She would continue to redefine America, and civil rights, and religious freedom, to recast them all to fit the image of a humanity that knows no image of God.

I don’t see how we could have another chance, to change the course that Pres. Obama has set for us, than the chance we have in this election! A Clinton Supreme Court and Federal judiciary, a Clinton economy, a Clinton military, a Clinton education system, a Clinton America ever more divided into identity groups all “victims,” all dependent on The State, a Clinton quasi-religious secular system formed around ever-expanding politically correct “civil rights” – in short, a godless utopia – cannot stand. It would fall. It is now in decay, thanks to Mr. Obama’s America; with Mrs. Clinton to continue, it would fall. And Russia, China, Iran and North Korea are all waiting to see just how stupid we can be.





Posted by: Thomas Richard | September 14, 2016

We Need the Holy Spirit!

“Lukewarm” is not a good word, in the Christian lexicon. It is not a good state of the human soul. The alternative – fervor, zeal and whole-hearted commitment – in the heart and soul of a Christian – ought to be the norm! Every Christian church ought to be on fire for Christ and the Gospel, and thus for the mission of the Church:

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.” (Mt 28:19-20)

There is not a lot of “Go” from many Catholic churches; even the going to search for the lost sheep – the former Catholics who have drifted away from the Faith – is not a big priority among many of our parishes and dioceses. So much of our activity and concern, in my experience, is directed within – within the parish and for the parishioners.  And sadly only little of that activity is focused on the great need among our adults for catechesis and growing in the life of prayer. We need renewal.

Vatican II called us to renewal, in so many ways! The universal call to holiness was proclaimed by the Church to the Church, in that Council, a call to remember who we are, and what we are to be about. We all, every one of us, have a vocation, a divine calling, to be light in this darkening world. We all have been entrusted with Bread from heaven, in a world hungry for that which finally satisfies. We all have been infused with a share in the divine and eternal life – the Holy Spirit – in a world stumbling toward death. How can we be so quiet?

The Holy Spirit is the great awakener of lukewarm and sleepy souls. We need the arousal of the Holy Spirit.

A New Article in HPR

An essay I wrote recently on this matter has just been published on-line, at the website of Homiletic & Pastoral Review, as an article titled The Church Needs the Holy Spirit!  I hope all my readers here will click on the title-link, and read the article. And as usual, I’d be grateful for your comments either here on the blog or added on the HPR site at the bottom of the article.

Finally, let me recommend to you the encyclical of Pope St. John Paul II on the Holy Spirit, which can be found on the Vatican website.  This document was the foundation of a “Novena” of nine presentations on the Holy Spirit which I presented recently in my home parish.  The title of the encyclical (and the link to it) is Dominum et vivificantem. It is lengthy! But it is worth the “price of admission,” in time.

Posted by: Thomas Richard | August 19, 2016

A Campaign Speech Worth Hearing…

After some dark days of grieving for the state of our country, and even darker days of fearing that “Progressivism” may very well swallow this country whole, in a “Democrat” victory in November, I am encouraged that maybe the catastrophe can actually be averted.  I know that with God, all things are possible, and that He is of great mercy and patience toward us, as foolish and stupid as we so frequently are.

This video I include below is of Donald Trump’s latest campaign speech – Aug 18, 2016, in Charlotte NC – it is worth watching, and listening to, and imagining: is it possible to turn this massive ship around, after all that has been inflicted upon America thus far?  The “progressive” ideology – that the Democrat Party has fallen into – is a dark one, an anti-human one, generating a godless culture of death all the while promising to bring a secular utopia.    I almost was believing that Trump – and a new beginning for America – did not stand a chance!  But I’m seeing some light of possibility at the end of the tunnel.  America is not finished yet.  God has not finished with us yet.

In the video Mr. Trump appeals to the African Americans in America – who have been block-Democrat-voters for decades now, abused and used and taken for granted by that party – that it is time for a change!  The Democrats have brought African Americans changes only for the worse.  The same can be said for many American Catholics!  American Catholics have been largely block-Democrat-voters for a long time also, only to see anti-Christian laws and policies multiply under their administration, to our shame.  Secular ideologues have an agenda, and it is deadly.  We need a change. Please watch the video, and recommend it to others.  America needs a change, a new beginning, a new chance.


Posted by: Thomas Richard | August 2, 2016

Catholic Politicians and Public Scandal

Shameless public “Catholic” endorsements of the New Morality take one more bow in the spotlight: our present “Catholic” Vice President, Joe Biden, has now officiated for a “marriage” of a same-sex couple. Yes, Joe Biden “married” two men who are long-time White House aides. The story is HERE.

This, to be heard in the echoes of the recent unveiling of a new insult to the Church and the Faith, new to most of us – the “Catholic” Democrat nominee for our next Vice President, Tim Kaine. Mr. Kaine is solidly in support of the New Morality: pro-abortion, pro-contraception, pro-homosexual equivalence in matters of marriage and child adoption. Indeed, “the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) civil rights organization, hailed Hillary Clinton’s selection of Tim Kaine — who has a solid commitment to LGBTQ equality — as her running mate.”

Tim Kaine thinks that his Catholic foundation was laid for him in his “Jesuit education.” There, he believes, he was taught to be a “man for others” in the mold of his Jesuit education. Here is a summary from an article on the Cardinal Newman Society website:

But for Kaine, being Catholic doesn’t prevent him from ignoring his faith to support redefining marriage to include same-sex couples, the use of  birth control and the ordination of women as priests.  Being “for others” doesn’t include protecting the innocent unborn, who are created in the image and likeness of God. His efforts to “battle for social justice” don’t include seeking justice for those killed in the womb.

LifeSiteNews notes that Kaine “has a perfect pro-abortion record in the Senate and supports Planned Parenthood. Kaine is also a co-sponsor of the Women’s Health Protection Act, a bill that would undermine pro-life laws across the country.” The news service also recently highlighted abortion giant Planned Parenthood’s excitement about Kaine as the Democrat vice presidential nominee, calling Kaine a man who has “dedicated his life to serving others.”

More broadly, Kaine betrays his service “for others” as a Catholic by purposefully causing scandal with his public statements and political positions against Church teaching that could confuse both Catholics and others about the importance of defending innocent life.

Sadly there are many other prominent, well-known figures in our government who are Catholic, and who bring only shame to the Church and confusion to many. Our Church is called to be light in this darkening world! Yet many in the Church seek to aid and further empower the darkness. Many – who are called to be evangelizers for the Faith – instead are sources of grave scandal, leading people away from Truth and into sin.

Scandal is a grave matter – Catholics in prominent, responsible positions of leadership in government – and thus positions of power in society – have a grave responsibility to care for those subject to their authority, their leadership and their example. The Catechism teaches, concerning scandal:

Respect for the souls of others: scandal

2284 Scandal is an attitude or behavior which leads another to do evil. The person who gives scandal becomes his neighbor’s tempter. He damages virtue and integrity; he may even draw his brother into spiritual death. Scandal is a grave offense if by deed or omission another is deliberately led into a grave offense.

2285 Scandal takes on a particular gravity by reason of the authority of those who cause it or the weakness of those who are scandalized. It prompted our Lord to utter this curse: “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened round his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.” [Mt 18:6; Cf. 1 Cor 8:10-13] Scandal is grave when given by those who by nature or office are obliged to teach and educate others. Jesus reproaches the scribes and Pharisees on this account: he likens them to wolves in sheep’s clothing. [Cf. Mt 7:15]

2286 Scandal can be provoked by laws or institutions, by fashion or opinion.
Therefore, they are guilty of scandal who establish laws or social structures leading to the decline of morals and the corruption of religious practice, or to “social conditions that, intentionally or not, make Christian conduct and obedience to the Commandments difficult and practically impossible.” [Pius XII, Discourse, June 1, 1941] This is also true of business leaders who make rules encouraging fraud, teachers who provoke their children to anger, [Cf. Eph 6:4; Col. 3:21] or manipulators of public opinion who turn it away from moral values.

2287 Anyone who uses the power at his disposal in such a way that it leads others to do wrong becomes guilty of scandal and responsible for the evil that he has directly or indirectly encouraged. “Temptations to sin are sure to come; but woe to him by whom they come!” [Lk 17:1]

At least two bishops have spoken out concerning such public scandal:

Bishop Francis X. DiLorenzo of Kaine’s home diocese of Richmond, Virginia released a statement regarding Catholics in public office July 22.
“The Catholic Church makes its position very clear as it pertains to the protection of human life, social justice initiatives, and the importance of family life,” he said.
“From the very beginning, Catholic teaching informs us that every human life is sacred from conception until natural death. The right to life is a fundamental, human right for the unborn and any law denying the unborn the right to life is unequivocally unjust.”

Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence, Rhode Island also commented on the subject, mentioning Kaine by name and lamenting that “apparently, and unfortunately, his faith isn’t central to his public, political life.”

Kaine has been described as a devout Catholic and has attended St. Elizabeth Catholic Church in Richmond for decades.

Yes, here I go again. The coming election is haunting me – stalking me – tempting me to grief and worry about the horrors that could come upon us. The country is at the brink of crisis, and people are angry. We are left with two major candidates who are both flawed, both provoking fears and uncertainty about what exactly they would do, and not do, as president. I am left with the resolution that if I cannot in confidence advance the good by my vote, at least I can seek to lessen the evil that could come. And with my primary concern being the right to life, my lot is cast with the Republicans.

I’ve written here several blogs on the concern that our Church is asleep, while our country is adrift and in danger. She sleeps while the world is very busy at work, building its city of deceit, and of death. Some examples –
1. Catholics: It is Time to Awaken! 
2. What Time Is It?
3. Acedia: Spiritual Sloth and the Church of Laodicea, U.S.A 
4. Church as Babysitter in a Culture of Death

I’ll close with this quote from Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI:

… Across the centuries, it is the drowsiness of the disciples that opens up possibilities for the power of the evil one. Such drowsiness deadens the soul, so that it remains undisturbed by the power of the evil one at work in the world, and by all the injustice and suffering ravaging the earth. In its state of numbness, the soul prefers not to see all this; it is easily persuaded that all things cannot be so bad, so as to continue in the self-satisfaction of its own comfortable existence. Yet this deadening of souls, this lack of vigilance regarding both God’s closeness and the looming forces of darkness is what gives the evil one power in this world. On beholding the drowsy disciples, so disinclined to rouse themselves the Lord says, “My soul is very sorrowful, even unto death.” (Mk 14:34)
(Jesus of Nazareth, Pope Benedict XVI)

Posted by: Thomas Richard | July 13, 2016

When God Dies

A profound crisis has come upon our country and now is settled into the depths of the very core of the nation – a crisis that continues to degrade us, bringing us to the point of spiritual and moral bankruptcy. I have a short one-word solution to the crisis: God. We need to return to God. As a country we have abandoned God. Remember the Pledge of Allegiance? It includes the phrase, “One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” It is only under God that a nation can be indivisible! The only secure basis for unity, for peace and concord, for liberty, for justice, is God! And God is systematically revoked, “repealed and replaced,” throughout the nation. Replaced with what? Replaced with man – replaced with the thoughts, opinions, ambitions, judgements, political correctness of men separated from God. In such darkness, justice is no more firm than a vapor, no more certain than the fluttering path of a butterfly, no more true than the slurring ramblings of a drunkard.

God is not welcomed here, anymore. Certainly He is welcomed among some! But among so many of our leaders, God is set off on the margins, and the margins are moved, and God is far distant, outside. Lost in the past, for so many people, is the sense that God is present – and relevant – to daily life. Does God “exist”? That question is now as irrelevant as God Himself, for so many it does not matter. God does not matter. God is irrelevant – as irrelevant as any other passing opinion, idea, or fantasy dreamed up by people who also don’t matter. God is irrelevant; the people who believe in Him are irrelevant. What is relevant, in this “culture of death,” is power. Political power, financial power, military power: power is relevant. Stalin is said to have discounted the relevance of the Catholic Church to his ambitions, with the rhetorical question, “How many Divisions does the Pope have?”

In America, we seem to have now reached a tipping point. My very rough “statistics” lead me to this conclusion: we are on the tipping point, and we will fall one way or the other, perhaps irreversibly, perhaps very soon. The Supreme Court, for example is about 50-50 on major, radically important issues of fundamental national moral values. The major political divide in the country – conservatives on the one hand and “progressives” on the other – is typically 40-40-20: 40% lean conservative, 40% lean progressive, and 20% might lean one way or the other. America, the flutterings of a butterfly might cause us to fall one way or the other.

When God dies, man becomes an animal – a savage – a beast. Such men care for no one; they are left to long for nothing but pleasure. They care for no one but themselves, and even that, wrongly. Such a man has lost himself, in running away from God, in hiding from God, in denying God, in refusing to acknowledge in his own heart that there is a God over all.

When God dies, man fills the chasm in his soul with anything, with everything, with ever more things, lest the empty chasm consume him too. The music must be louder, and louder still. The noise must never stop, silence must never seize a space in him, quiet and solitude must never be allowed in. Man must not pause, he must not seek rest, he must not stop lest God find him and he comes face to face with His eternal truth.

When God dies, man must erase all remnants of truth, he must silence the echoes of the Word still streaming through all that has being, he must forge his own poor stamp on all his thin fabrications and fictions, lest the authentic ring of truth condemn him. Man must not listen; man must not let himself listen again, not ever again, lest he hear and learn what he cannot bear to know.

Therefore – therefore, Church, listen to your call! – Therefore Church, you must speak. Therefore, Church, you must speak what man must hear, lest he destroy himself. You must bear witness, you must be the one you are called to be: His witness, His voice, His Bride. Awaken! Give what He has given you to give.

Pope St. John Paul II included this prophetic word for the Church of our time:

“The hour is coming, in fact has come, when the vocation of women is being acknowledged in its fullness, the hour in which women acquire in the world an influence, an effect and a power never hitherto achieved. That is why, at this moment when the human race is undergoing so deep a transformation, women imbued with a spirit of the Gospel can do so much to aid humanity in not falling”. (Apostolic Letter Mulieris Dignitatem of Pope [St.] John Paul II)

This was written especially to women, knowing the gifts and abilities given them particularly, for humanity. But Church, hear this for you as well – men and women – to live this vocation as Bride of Christ! Church, become imbued with the spirit of the Gospel! Church, live your vocation! Church, act – and do much to help and aid humanity in not falling!

Posted by: Thomas Richard | June 24, 2016

Seeking the “Still Small Voice” of God

God said to Elijah,

“Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD.” And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and broke in pieces the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake;

and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.

And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.

(1 Kings 19:11-13)

It is an unmistakable and precious moment – a timeless moment – to be in the Presence of God.  Such encounters are so precious, that one could say they are essential.  How can a man or a woman keep sane, in this increasingly insane world, without moments – or at least memories – of communion with the One who is truth and reason, stability and sanity, faithful and strong, undying, eternal.

Elijah was given a moment of encounter with the Lord in a “still small voice” – and specifically not in a great wind, or an earthquake, or a fire – all events of power and dramatic significance.  Only in the humble whisper that demands alertness, attentiveness, inner quiet and focus: there was the Lord waiting to meet with Elijah.

The Catholic Church has a long tradition of “making a retreat” – a time apart, a time dedicated to openness to the Lord, a time for prayer, meditation, silence, solitude, peace.  It is a time for saying “Here I am, Lord, speak to your servant.  Here I am, Lord: what would you have me do?”  It is sad, but it is understandable, that human persons would not want to offer themselves to the will of the Lord in that way!  It is sad, but understandable, that given the choice between Martha who kept herself busy and distracted, and Mary who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to His word (see Lk 10:38-42), that many would rather turn to preoccupation and busyness than offer themselves “blindly” to the service of the Lord!  Who knows what He might ask of us?  Who knows what that might cost?  It might cost our very lives.

I was in my thirties when I made my first retreat.  It was a 45 day directed retreat, “directed” meaning directed by a retreat master who provided daily presentations on the retreat theme, and as a priest also offered daily Mass and Confessions, as well as personal conferences if desired to discuss matters of spiritual concern.  The theme of the retreat was the Gospel of John, and the length of the retreat allowed a slow and deliberate journey through that Gospel, listening carefully and prayerfully to what the Holy Spirit inspired John to write, for our salvation.  It was a wonderful, truly beautiful experience.

The first thing I learned, which was a surprise to me, was the length of time it took me to “slow down” and begin to actually listen to the Lord in His Gospel!  The retreat was held in an elegant beach-front – well, I would call it a “mansion.”  Now a retreat house, it had been willed by a wealthy family, donated to a religious order of sisters.  It was a beautiful place for quiet and prayer – well-separated from the world of noise and busyness – here we could find the silence and solitude needed to listen to and be attentive to the movements and directions of the Lord.  But to my surprise, after about four days, I noticed a change in myself: I had slowed down within myself; I had become quiet within myself; I had entered a space of solitude – separation from the other retreatants and retreat leaders and helpers – even though they were all around.  In a mansion on the beach, in the midst of 35 or 40 people, I had become alone.  This was not intentional!  It happened; it was given to me; it was a surprise gift that I did not know I needed or wanted.  I did not know I lacked it before it was given, but when I received it, I knew clearly the difference in me and the treasure that it was.  I was alone, and I was ready to be with myself, with God, with Truth.

This was the beginning of the retreat, four days into it.  Desert-time had come.  Prayer-time had begun.  The first lesson I needed to learn, was now dawning on me: I had not known what solitude and silence were; I had not known how busy and noisy I had been in myself!  Now I knew, because God showed me.  Now I could listen for Him; now I could listen to Him.

Here is the point of this blog: please, brothers and sisters, do not underestimate the immense value of silence, solitude and prayer.  Do not underestimate the cost of it!  In the beginning, it can take days – days in it, to arrive at it and willingly enter into it!  A fish does not know of the water he lives in; we do not realize the conflict and chaos that surrounds us, nor perhaps do we suspect how much of it, and how deeply, it has permeated our very souls.  We need to value silence, simplicity, solitude, prayer: listening for Him and for His life-giving words.  Once we have learned the treasure of it, we will not resist or fight against it so much.  It need not take four days, the next time.  The next time, we may even hasten to meet it, and to meet Him.  The time after that, no stranger any more to silence, simplicity, solitude and prayer, we may find it within ourselves, waiting within us for us to remember, and return, and maybe even remain as if home.  We have there found Him; we have found love; we have found truth.

In that sacred place, that holy encounter, we have found our true home.  In Him, with Him, we have all.  He is faithful, and will never abandon His own.  He will always be there, waiting.  “Seek Him!” He urges us to ask, and seek, and knock: He will respond, He will reveal Himself in holy prayer.  It is there, with Him and in Him, that we discover and begin to live the interior life.

St. Faustina wrote beautifully of this sacred place, where our Lord waits.

Although outwardly I meet with many sufferings and various adversities, this does not, however, lessen my interior life for a moment nor disturb my inner silence.  I do not fear at all being abandoned by creatures because, even if all abandoned me, I would not be alone, for the Lord is with me.  And even if the Lord were to hide, love will know how to find Him.  For love knows no gates nor guards; …; it will work its way through wilderness and scorching heat, through storm, thunder and darkness, and reach the source from which it came, and there it will endure forever.  All things will come to an end; but love, never.

(St. Maria Faustina Kowalska, Diary, Notebook III, #1022)

Posted by: Thomas Richard | May 14, 2016

Catholics: It is Time to Awaken!

The Catholic Church must wake up! The darkness growing in this country is accelerating, and human persons are being swallowed into it, losing all sense of truth, righteousness, justice – even sanity! And God’s chosen witnesses continue to sleep.

Catholic laity need strengthening, enlightening, igniting into life – so that they might be the holy light to expose and dispel this ugly darkness. Catholic men, Catholic women, Catholic young people, Catholic children – we all are here, in the midst of this evil and growing culture of death. And we all are called to be God’s witnesses, God’s messengers in the midst. We must remind our culture, our country, of what ought to be! Who else is there? Who else can do this? Who else can touch the dying hearts of this nation and revive them, and recall them to their own vocation?

The Church must awaken, the whole Church must awaken. Church leadership must arise and arouse them, must train and inspire them, must educate and enflame them, must pour God’s grace and Spirit into them, and bring them to life. The time for sleeping is past; there is no time left for half-hearted concern, or part-time Christianity. Catholic men and women, the time to choose is here: whom will you serve? Which side are you on? Why are you here, alive and strong, and doing nothing to fight the enemies of your children, the enemies of the innocent, the enemies of your own sleepy soul? Will you yet arise, and stand up? Will you yet be the man or the woman God is calling you to be?

Bishops! Priests! Deacons! Catechists! Parents! Cry out the saving Truth of your Faith, and live your calling. Teach your people! Stop with all half-truths, and safe suggestions, and nuanced duplicity! Make disciples! Bring forth fruit that will remain! Shepherds, enough of your pandering and platitudes! Enough lukewarm lullabies from the pulpit, lest anyone should actually hear the living word of God! Enough of your CEO concerns, while the sheep are not being fed and the wolves continue to raid your own sheep-fold! Enough catering to the donors, and neglecting the poor and the hungry! Enough building expensive edifices, and filling them with furnishings of gold and velvet and linen lace! Enough staff parties, and back-slapping, and sleeping with the enemy. Enough. It is time; the enemy is at the door; it is the time to act.

Bishops! Priests! Deacons! Catechists! Parents! Help your children, those children of God entrusted to your care, help them to see what is happening to this nation! The enemy is at war with us, like it or not.

Catholic laity need to know the Faith of the Church.
Catholic laity need to know Catholic moral truth – what is right, what is wrong, and why!
Catholic laity need to understand worship, in spirit and truth, that we may worship!
Catholic laity need a life of prayer – an interior life – a growing, maturing life in Christ.

Shepherds, be shepherds! Tend His sheep. Feed His sheep. Shepherd His sheep as Christ called you to do!  Every man will be called to give an account of his stewardship, on that Day.

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