10 Quotes from Saint Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles

Today in the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church, we celebrate the feast of The Conversion of Saint Paul the Apostle. One of the most powerful miracles in the Early Church was the conversion of Saul of Tarsus, while he was traveling to Damascus. This miracle displays for us how faith develops from grace and builds when someone freely cooperates with it. The doctrine of the Mystical Body of Christ was given clarity and evidence when Our Lord says – “Saul, Saul, why do persecute me?

As we celebrate this important feast in the Catholic Church, here are 10 of my favorite quotes from St. Paul (alas – the Sacred Scriptures!) to the Gentiles. There are many lines that I could quote but here’s an idea for you – start reading the New Testament if you haven’t read it already. You will love reading about the very Early Church!

1. “Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with brotherly affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Never flag in zeal, be aglow with the Spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in your hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints, practice hospitality.” – Romans 12:9-13

2. “But on some points I have written to you very boldly by way of reminder, because of the grace given me by God to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in the priestly service of the gospel of God, so that the offering of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit. In Christ Jesus, then, I have reason to be proud of my work for God” – Romans 15:14-17

3. “For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, that I might win the more.  To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews; to those under the law I became as one under the law—though not being myself under the law—that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law—not being without law toward God but under the law of Christ—that I might win those outside the law.  To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.” – 1 Corinthians 9:19-23

4. “Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself.” – 1 Corinthians 11:27-29

Conversion of Saint Paul – Caravaggio (1600)

5. “O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit[a] by works of the law, or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun with the Spirit, are you now ending with the flesh? Did you experience so many things in vain? – if it really is in vain.  Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith?” – Galatians 3:1-5

6. “Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord.  For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.  As the church is subject to Christ, so let wives also be subject in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. Even so husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.  For no man ever hates his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This is a great mystery, and I mean in reference to Christ and the church; however, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” – Ephesians 5:21-33

7. “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.  Stand therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the equipment of the gospel of peace; above all taking the shield of faith, with which you can quench all the flaming darts of the evil one.  And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.  Pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.” – Ephesians 6:10-18

8. “Have this mind among yourselves, which was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name,  that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” – Philippians 2:5-11

9. “But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God chose you from the beginning[e] to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit[f] and belief in the truth. To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter.” – 2 Thessalonians 2:13-15

10. “Do not be ashamed then of testifying to our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but take your share of suffering for the gospel in the power of God, who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not in virtue of our works but in virtue of his own purpose and the grace which he gave us in Christ Jesus ages ago, and now has manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. For this gospel I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher,  and therefore I suffer as I do.” – 2 Timothy 1:8-11

Saint Paul, Apostle to the Gentiles…Pray for Us

Translation used: Revised Standard Edition – Second Catholic Edition. Ignatius Press, 2006.

12 Points about Saint Luke the Evangelist and His Accounts

1. He was a Gentile (Greek) from Antioch.

2. He was a companion to St. Paul and traveled with him during the Caesarean and Roman persecutions and imprisonments.

3. He was an educated physician whom St. Paul refers to as “Luke the Beloved Physician” (Col 4:14).

4. He is the author of the Gospel that bears his name. It is dedicated to Theophilus. There are two theories on this name – first, he was a convert to Christianity and possibly a Roman Aristocrat that financed Luke to write down his accounts, and second, the name Theophilus means “Lover of God”, which could pertain to all those people love the Lord. St. Luke’s target audience for his Gospel was Gentile Christians.

5. His authorship of the Gospel is affirmed by Tradition as well as by the Muratorian Canon, Tertullian, Origen, St. Irenaeus, St. Jerome, and St. Eusebius.

6. The theme of his Gospel is a Universal Message of Salvation for all, not just the chosen people. This begins in Jerusalem and spreads throughout the world.

st luke icon

7. He is one of the three Synoptic (“seeing together”) Gospel Writers. St. Matthew and St. Mark are the other two.

8. Although his Gospel account as similarities with St. Matthew and St. Mark, St. Luke gives us a detailed account of the Infancy Narratives. More than likely, St. Luke had personal contact with the mother of Jesus and received his information from her.

9. Other themes stressed in the Gospel of Luke: Mercy of God, Mercy and Concern for the Poor, Oppressed, and Care and Respect for Women.

10. He is also the author of Acts of the Apostles.

11. The theme of Acts of the Apostles is the reliable history of the first 30 years of the Church from the Ascension of Jesus to St. Paul’s imprisonment in Rome. The first part is about St. Peter and second part is about St. Paul.

12. Both the Gospel of Luke and Acts of the Apostles were written in the early 60’s A.D. (63-65 A.D.) in the Greek language. His accounts are the most literary and most historical.

Sources:

Hahn, Scott, Catholic Bible Dictionary. Doubleday, 2009.

Socias, Rev. James, Introduction to Catholicism. Midwest Theological Forum, 2002.

Good-bye St. Dominic Savio Catholic High School – Austin, Texas

This was the good-bye letter that I wrote to the St. Dominic Savio Catholic High School Community one month ago. I added some pics to this post for aesthetic purposes.

Dear Savio Community,

As many of you know by this time, I resigned from St. Dominic Savio Catholic High School effective at the end of my contract. This was a difficult decision and one that I went back and forth on nearly every week since January. In the end, I know that being back in Phoenix with my family and friends is the best decision for my life at this time. With the birth of my first niece in December, and now Goddaughter in April, the decision was even easier. My sister and brother-in-law really want me back there to be a part of her life growing up. With my parents getting older, it was also a desire of mine to return home after four years of being away.

The hardest part of leaving Savio is not having the students that I have had the privilege to teach for the past two years. The excitement and frustrations of being in the high school classroom will be missed. I wish I had the time to say something about each of my students over the past two years, but then this short letter would not be very short. What I have found at Savio among the students is a real love for the Catholic faith and the desire to defend it. The Pro-Life Club is a real witness to the beauty of the human person. The few students that are considering calls to the priesthood and religious life is a defining characteristic of what the Holy Spirit is doing at Savio. It was a blessing and a cross to be at Savio for two years, but that’s what our Catholic faith is all about – sacramental grace, blessings, and carrying a big wooden cross.

For the students I would say – if you follow the words of St. Paul nothing will ever come between you and your faith – “Command and teach these things. Let no one despise your youth, but set the believers an example in speech and conduct, in love, in faith, in purity…Practice these duties, devote yourself to them, so that all may see your progress.” (1 Timothy 4:11-12; 15)

For the parents I suggest the words of Blessed John Paul II from his Post-Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio, “Hence, parents must be acknowledged as the first and foremost educators of their children. Their role as educators is so decisive that scarcely anything can compensate for their failure in it. For it devotes on parents to create a family atmosphere so animated with love and reverence for God and others that a well-rounded personal and social development will be fostered among the children. Hence, the family is the first school of those social virtues which every society needs.”

Thank you for welcoming me into your community. I will miss you.

In the Peace of Christ,

Tom Perna

**Note: Please pray for me since I have accepted a position with the University of Mary at their Tempe Campus in collaboration with Arizona State University (as of July 10, 2012). I will be an adjunct professor teaching Introduction to Theology to Non-Traditional Students once a week at night.**

Readings for the Third Sunday of Lent

Today, I want to write on all four readings from yesterday. Last Monday, I gave a Bible Study on the readings we heard yesterday (well I didn’t hear them since I attended the Maronite Rite yesterday and the readings are different). Before I explain the readings, I will  give a short catechesis on the books that the readings come from so you have a “basic” understanding of these books.

First Reading: Exodus 20:1-17

The book of Exodus is the second book in the Pentateuch (five books). It’s traditionally thought to be written by Moses. The word – exodus – means “departure.”  There are two major themes in Exodus: the God of Israel brings Israel out of slavery and God reveals himself (theophany) to Moses at Mount Sinai. Exodus picks up where Genesis leaves off and we get – the life of Moses, the Burning Bush, 10 Plagues, Death of the First Born, Israel departs, Crossing of the Red Sea, God establishes Covenant with Moses and Israel, 10 Commandments, Golden Calf, Levitical Priesthood, building of the sanctuary and ark of the covenant. The Covenant is established between God and Moses. The Ten Commandments is the concrete law between God and Israelites. 

The Ten Commandments are often known as the Decalogue (“ten words”). They are revealed to Moses by God (the LORD) and are found in Exodus 20:1-17 and Deuteronomy 5-6:22. The Ten Commandments are given to the Israelites as part of the Mosaic Covenant (Ex. 19-24). When Jesus says he will fulfill the Law and Prophets and not abolish them, it’s these laws he speaks of in Matthew 5:17. Jesus speaks very highly in a variety of places in the Gospels on how important the Commandments remain. The Catholic Church has always viewed the Ten Commandments with high honor and respect. They are to be kept with diligence and are not options, advice, suggestions, or psychological babble. They are important – they are TEN COMMANDMENTS!

The Ten Commandments are printed on the very heart of man (natural law) and they display for us how to love God and our neighbor. They were written on stone to signify that they are as durable as stone. The Commandments were written for all of humanity for all time. The Natural Law remains constant and never changes to “fit” the culture. The Natural law is about preserving life, developing as individuals & communities, and sharing life with others.  If you read the Commandments, you will see these three themes rooted in the Law.  Although these laws are held with praise, the Old Law does not give us grace. The Ten Commandments find their fulfillment in the New Law of Love – Jesus Christ and the Beatitudes. It’s Christ himself that sheds grace upon us.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 19: 8, 9, 10, and 11

The Psalms are right in the center of the Bible and there are 150 psalms. There are different genres of psalms: Hymns of Praise, Lamentation and Deliverance, Thanksgiving, Royal Psalms, Wisdom Psalms, and other Liturgical, Prophetic, and Historical Psalms.

Psalm 19 is in Book 1. It’s an individual lament by David. He is giving praise for God’s creation and the Law. Part 1 of this psalm is praising God for the Sun (creation) and part 2 is praising God for the Law. The psalm is suggesting that the Law of God is like the sun. Just as the sun gives us illumination, so does the Law. The forms of the law that mentioned are law, precepts, and commandments. The qualities that are associated with the forms of the law are perfection, reliability and purity. Then we have the benefits that the law brings humanity and these are life, wisdom, joy, and light.

In verse 9, we read the “fear of the Lord.” The fear of the Lord is not being afraid of God (not fear as in I am afraid of what the NY Yankees will do the Boston Red Sox this season with Bobby Valentine as manager…Ha ha… you will see more Baseball references from me until October) but it means we should be in awe of God. God deserves our respect and honor for he is our creator and we adore him above all. The person who keeps the Law will honor God just as the earth benefits from the heat and light of the sun. In verse 11, there is a reward in keeping the Law, since it’s very easy to break the law without realizing it and nothing escapes the judgment of God. God always knows what we are doing.

Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 1:22-25

1 Corinthians was written by the St. Paul (Apostle to the Gentiles). He says it twice himself in 1:1 and 16:21. The Early Church Father, St. Clement of Rome (95 A.D.) supports the claim as well. It was written in 56 A.D. on his third missionary journey while in Ephesus. The Corinthian church was founded in 51 A.D by St. Paul. Ephesus is the city where the Apostle John and Mary go after Jesus’ Ascension into heaven. Ephesus is located in modern day Turkey.

Corinth was a large metropolitan. It was a cosmopolitan city that also was a seaport that attracted many entrepreneurs, tourists, sailors, and tradesmen. However, being that it was this type of city it was filled decadence and sin. Imagine Las Vegas on the water. 1 Corinthians speaks of many of the same issues that Church has faced throughout her generations and we still see today: internal divisions, sexual immorality, denials of the Resurrection, and carelessness in the liturgy. St. Paul calls them back to basic Christian doctrine (hmmm..sound familiar?). St. Paul is stern yet a loving father with these issues.

In Verse 22, it speaks of the Jews and the Greeks since Israel was always looking for great signs to authentic the Messiah’s mission (Mt 16:1, Jn 6:30) and Greeks as philosophers were always looking for the hot new thing to explain the universe (wisdom).  Verse 23 says, “we preach Christ crucified.” For some Jews, crucifixion was associated with the curse of God (Dt 21:22-23). Christ endured this curse of death so that both Israel and Gentiles could have a new life.

Gospel Reading: John 2:13-25

The Gospel was written by St. John the Apostle. Known in the Gospel as the “disciple whom Jesus loved” or the “beloved disciple.” The Gospel was more than likely written in 90 A.D. when John was an old man. It was written in Greek but with an Aramaic influence to both Jews and Jewish Christians. The theme of the Gospel is: Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah who was promised by God to the Old Testament and he is the Son of God the Father. The Gospel of John compliments the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke). In this Gospel, Jesus says, “I am” 54 times. It’s here where we hear the many great names for Jesus – I am Sheep Gate, I am Bread of Life, I am Vine, I am the Good Shepherd and many more. There is also a sacramental approach in John. He focuses heavily on the Eucharist, Baptism, and Reconciliation. The important Bread of Life Discourse (John 6) is read here as well. John 6 correlates perfectly when Jesus establishes for us the New Covenant in Luke 22.

In Verse 13, we read that it was the Passover. The Passover was celebrated every spring to commemorate Israel’s release from slavery in Egypt. We see in John the Passover celebrated 3 times. This is how we know Jesus ministry lasted three years. The Synoptic Gospels mention the Passover only once.  The Cleansing of the Temple is mentioned in all four Gospels, but John places it at the beginning while the synoptic Gospels place it at the end. It’s the same event in all four Gospels but John is trying to show the same thing with the Wedding Feast of Cana. The New Covenant is coming to fulfill the Old covenant. It’s a strong theological point!  There is also the chance that Jesus might have cleansed the temple twice (Read the Old Testament – The Israelites tend to disobey over and over again).

The Jerusalem Temple was divided into four sections (Gentile Court, Women’s Court, Men’s Court, and the Levitical Court). The Cleansing of the Temple is happening in the court where Gentiles were welcomed, since this was the only place in the Temple complex they could worship. Jesus is angry (verse 17 – righteous anger) because the merchants are cheating the people of the items they are selling. The city of Jerusalem had a large pilgrimage economy. Instead of bringing the animals for sacrifice from home, one could purchase the animals for sacrifice in Jerusalem. It’s similar to city of Rome today who has a pilgrimage economy. Jesus is also upset that the merchants are not allowing the Gentiles to pray and worship since they are in that part of the Temple.

In verse 15, we read of the aggressive actions of Jesus. These actions show us that the sacrifices of the Old covenant would be destroyed and no longer occur in the Temple. Jesus Christ, on the cross, would destroy all of these old covenant sacrifices with the one perfect sacrifice.

In verse 19, it’s not the sacred building that would be destroyed in 3 days, but he was referring to his body. The Jews thought that this Temple (the Temple built after the return from exile and renovated by Herod the Great) was the fulfillment of the Solomonic Temple in 1 Kings 8.

To understand Jesus as the New Temple, I give you this explanation. In the Levitical Court of the Temple, the lambs were sacrificed. To clear out the blood, the priests would flush it out with water. On the side of the Temple, there was a drain that would pour into the Gihon River. The blood of the lambs and the water would pour out of this drain together. This points to our Lord on the Cross-when the blood and water would pour forth from the side of Him on the Cross. Jesus fulfills the prophecy of the Solomonic Temple. Jesus is the New Temple on the Cross!

I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed explaining it to you. Don’t forget to follow the blog to receive email notifications when I post.

Holiness and Martyrdom as a Catholic in America

When Cardinal Timothy Dolan received his red hat on February 18, he said that he was grateful to the Holy Father for giving him this honor, but he just wants to be a saint. If I were to sit down with Cardinal Dolan today, I would share with him that the easiest way to canonization, according to the 6th point in the article – Desiderata for 2012 written by Reverend C. John McCloskey III, is to die a martyr. Knowing the extent of Cardinal Dolan’s experience and education, I would imagine that he would already understand this fact. I make this statement because martyrdom is very likely to appear in the United States of America in the years to come. With the greatest threats against Religious Freedom and attacks on the First Amendment this country has ever seen, it it quite possible that not only will our bishops, priests, and religious face martyrdom, but many faithful and obedient Catholics who will not comply with a tyrannical government could as well. I will let this marinate in your minds return to it at the end.

With that being said, the purpose of my blog is to engage and educate the Catholic lay faithful in the New Evangelization. It’s my hope that through my writing, I will help teach the “basics” of the Catholic faith for Catholic adults, who did receive proper catechesis as adolescents. In the words of Our Lord Jesus Christ and one of his great vicars and universal shepherds, we must remember – “Be Not Afraid!” We must not be afraid of what lies ahead of us or be afraid to learn more about Catholicism. Today, I will discuss holiness, what it means to be saint, and martyrdom.

In Thessalonians 1:6-7, St. Paul says, “you become imitators of us and of the Lord…you became an example to all the believers…” To be holy and to seek perfection is not an option, but an obligation. As followers of Jesus Christ, we must always thrive to be saints. Every Christian has the capacity of becoming a saint. Our purpose in life is to be holy in imitation of Jesus Christ, who is all holy. He is to be our perfect model. As St. Paul says in Corinthians 11:1 – “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.”

What is holiness?

Holiness is the separation of the irreverent, seeking and giving oneself to God. God is the foundation of holiness because God is all goodness. The invitation to holiness and goodness comes from God himself.  As Christians, to be holy is to bring our best versions to the world. However, because we suffer from the remnants of Original Sin, it can be difficult and challenging at times to live a life of holiness. We must always remember that we have Jesus Christ as our model and strength and should never get discouraged. Even the greatest saints of the Catholic Church had their struggles and moments of weakness.

What is a saint? Who is called to be a saint? When do we receive this call?

A saint is a person who thrives to live a life of holiness with the help of God’s grace and attains the prize of eternal life (CCC 828). The word saint comes from the Latin term – sanctus, which means “holy.” Sanctification is the process where one is made holy.

All Christians are called to holiness. We are called to holiness after receiving the Sacrament of Baptism. In Baptism, we are claimed and adopted by God as his children. We are restored to the filial (sonship) relationship that was established first and foremost with the first man. In our Baptism, we receive the three theological virtues of Faith, Hope, and Charity. We also share in the three Old Testament offices that are fulfilled by Jesus – Priest, Prophet, and King.

To be a saint is to live a life dedicated to heroism. Heroism is about self-sacrificial deeds; it’s not about self-glorification and narcissism. It requires one to live with heroic virtue! G.K. Chesterton said, the “saints are the heroes of the Church.” Zorro has always been one of my favorite literary heroes. When I think about Zorro, the words of self-sacrifice, strength, goodness, and servant of the people come to mind. Just as Zorro is a great hero, so must we thrive to live lives dedicated to self-sacrifice, goodness, and serving others. Throughout the history of the Catholic Church, there have been many men and women who have answered the call to live lives of heroic virtue and self-sacrifice. In recent years, I think of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, St. Gianna Beretta Molla, Blessed John Paul II, and St. Jose Maria Escriva. These men and women truly lived their lives for Jesus Christ and were filled with joy. St. Teresa of Avila said to be a saint is to live life with joy and passion – “a sad saint is not a saint at all.”

Living the life of a saint is not always the most popular lifestyle in our culture or period of history. To be a saint is to be counter-cultural just as the Church is counter-cultural. During his three-year ministry, Jesus himself was counter-cultural for he ate with sinners, spoke with woman (some became his disciples), and countered the elders of the faith.

Most Reverend Thomas J. Olmsted, Bishop of Phoenix says, “Christ does not call us to be popular, or even successful. He calls us to take up the cross each day and follow him. There is only one ultimate failure in life: not to be a saint. Nothing else in life matters, compared to the treasure of Christ’s love.”

As Catholics, how do we become saints seeking holiness?

First, we must receive the Sacraments. Although all seven are fundamental, Reconciliation and Holy Eucharist can be received on a daily basis. The Sacrament of Reconciliation assists us in our relationship with Our Lord and allows us to restore our personal relationship with him when it is severed. If you have not been in some time, I encourage you to find a time and go. The Sacrament of Holy Eucharist is the life giving bread of Jesus Christ. It not only nourishes our physical body, but gives us spiritual strength as well. It is truly Christ’s body, blood, soul, and divinity. Next, we need spiritual direction. A director of our interior life will aid us in our prayer and help us to discern God’s will for our lives. Lastly, reading the Scriptures, Lives of the Saints, or other spiritual texts will engage us to know God in a personal way and will also assist in our relationship with Our Lord and His Church.

As Catholics who are striving to live lives of holiness, learning each day how to be saints, and living contradictory to the world around us will often bring times of hostility and persecution. We saw this in the Early Church as Christianity grew. Hostility and persecution rose up to meet Christianity and the martyrs of the Early Church were born. The word martyr comes from the Greek term – witness.  St. Stephen, the first martyr of the Christian faith was stoned to death (Acts 7:54-60). Other individuals such as St. Lawrence, St. Ignatius of Antioch, St. Martina of Rome, and eleven of the twelve apostles (excluding John) and many others all died the martyr’s death. In his Letter to the Romans, St. Ignatius of Antioch says about his impending martyrdom, “…Come fire, cross, battling with wild beasts…only let me get to Jesus Christ…I would rather die.”

There are two forms of martyrdom – red martyrdom and white martyrdom. Red martyrdom is witnessing to the faith where a person endures death. The Church proclaims those who are killed for the faith are baptized by blood and are directed straight to heaven. The red martyrs are genuine examples of heroic fortitude and conviction that is unparallel. White martyrdom (dry martyrdom) is social persecution rather than death. This form of martyrdom is when a person or group of persons are attacked either verbally or in writing for having a conviction of faith or when they choose not to violate their moral conscience. This is the most common form of martyrdom for us Catholics in America to date, but that could change soon.

Although the 20th century witnessed more red martyrs for the faith around the world than any other century, here in the United States white martyrdom was more common. However, in recent years and with the multiplying of the culture wars, white martyrdom has dramatically increased against Catholics in general (see Huffington Post article). With the announcement of the HHS Mandate and the so-called “compromise”, verbal and hate filled attacks have been on the rise against Catholics since we stand against this unjust law. We will not allow a tyrannical government like the Obama Administration to force us into anything that contradicts our Religious Freedom and First Amendment Rights on the grounds of “women’s health” (see yesterday’s results from the Blunt Amendment – right down party lines). We will not comply!

In the 1920’s, the government of Mexico declared war on the Catholic Church killing bishops, priests, religious brothers and sisters, and lay faithful in the streets. It was terrible time for the Church in Mexico and many good and faithful people lost their lives. If the dangers we have now continue and the current administration is re-elected for four more years, Mexico from the 1920’s could appear on the shores and in the heartland of the United States.

Ash Wednesday and Lent Explained in 120 Seconds

This is a great explanation of Ash Wednesday and Lent in only 120 Seconds by Busted Halo.

We must remember that Lent is not just about giving something up, BUT IT’S CONFORMING OUR WILL TO GOD’S WILL. So many of us give up food, alcohol, candy, soda, social media sites, etc. Those are good sacrifices, if we are truly addicted to those items – don’t give up alcohol if you only drink it a few times a year…where is the sacrifice in that?

We must remember to take on something that will allow us to know God’s will in our own lives. Some possibilities are – Go to  Daily Mass a couple times a week, Weekly Adoration, Pray the Rosary (greatest weapon against Satan according to St. Padre Pio), shut off the car radio in the morning and pray, pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, pray the Liturgy of the Hours, pray Stations of the Cross, Fast other than Fridays…in other words – Talk to Jesus!

In the end, it’s your choice what you “give up” or “take up” for your Lenten Penance. As adults in the faith, I think we need to be adults when we sacrifice. St. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13:11 – When I was child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I gave up childish ways.

Giving things up is important, but taking on things is even more sacrificial.

Into the Desert We Go…