Food for thought;

Couples that stay together in a lasting relationship have one thing in common which is ” EMOTIONAL RESPONSIVENESS “

This is a glue that binds people together, it’s build a deep sense of affection, confidence and connection in a relationship leading to a powerful sense of understanding.

Emotional responsiveness has to do with validation, understanding, engagement, responsiveness and accessibility. This movement has the potential to make or break a connection and relationships.

Waking Up

I was suddenly shaken out of my daydream because of the sound of sirens ringing in the distance.  As I looked in my rear view mirror, a police car was quickly approaching behind me.  Any moment now, I thought, the police car would pass me and catch the culprit they were in pursuit of.  Needless to say, I was surprised when, as the police car got closer to me, it did not change lanes to pass me.  A few seconds later, I was shocked to discover that the culprit the police were in pursuit of was me!

I pulled over to the shoulder not knowing exactly what was going on.  Was I speeding, I thought to myself?  I didn’t think so.  Did I run a red light?  Not that I remember.  Feeling confused and somewhat afraid I rolled down my window to greet the officer that was approaching my car.

“Good morning,” I said.

“Good morning,” the officer echoed back, without a smile or a hint of sincerity.  “Do you know what the speed limit is sir?”

“65?” I said, somewhat unsure.

“It’s 55,” she said.  “Do you know how fast you were driving?”

“60?” I said.

“I clocked you at 77.”

“77!” I said in astonishment.  “Are you sure?”

“These machines don’t lie, sir.  I’ll be right back,” she said.

As she went back to her police car, I sat there confused and a bit alarmed that I was driving so fast without even being aware of it. After a few minutes, I was beginning to wonder what was taking her so long.  This was the first time I had been pulled over and therefore could not fathom what she was doing.  I looked in my mirror and saw her writing and on the phone.  Finally, she got out and approached my car.

“You were driving 22 miles over the speed limit sir.  Here is your ticket.  Your fine will be $300 and you will receive six points on your driving record.  Please slow down,” she said, all without a smile.

As I returned to the friary later that day, my body was tense and my heart was troubled.  What bothered me most was not getting a speeding ticket, but that I was completely unaware that I was engaging in something that was potentially dangerous, not only for me but for others as well.  This police officer, in a strange and rather expensive way, was a messenger from God, reminding me to wake up and start paying attention, before I or somebody else gets hurt due to my lack of attention.

The New Testament is filled with similar admonitions.  “Stay awake,” Jesus warns us, “for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming” (Mt 24:42).  St. Paul warns the Thessalonians, “So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake” (1 Thessalonians 5:6), while Jesus utters these sobering words in the Book of Revelation, “Behold, I am coming like a thief!  Blessed is he who is awake” (Revelation 16:15).

What exactly is the New Testament exhorting us to wake up from? Essentially it is any life or any part of our life, that does not have God at its center.  Those of us who consider ourselves fairly devout people can easily assume that this does not apply to us.  After all, we might conclude, I pray every day, I’m involved in ministry and I am living a moral life.  I am awake!, we believe.  Without even realizing it, certain aspects of our Christian life can be operating more upon our own strength, intelligence, and creativity, than actual dependence on God.

An important question we all must honestly ask ourselves is, is God really at the center of our lives?  Unfortunately, one of the only ways we can discern this is through trials.  What are we like when prayer is dry?  Do we give up because God doesn’t seem to be entertaining us and filling us with consolation?  What is our response to sickness or some form of bodily weakness?  Do we get mad at God for interrupting the hopes and plans we made for our life? What is our attitude towards ministry when, on a human level, it appears to be failing?  Do we lose heart and consider giving up because something is not working the way we imagined?

Occasionally, people are taken aback when I say that God can use something like sickness, divorce, or bankruptcy as part of our ongoing conversion.  Of course, God does not will that we experience any of these directly; rather he uses them often to bring about a greater good, which is essentially our own deeper conversion and growth in holiness.  They are often a “wake up” call for many of us: for those who are distracted and driving at a speed that is dangerous, and even for those who aren’t they help us to continue moving ahead with greater clarity and resolve.

Like the Good Shepherd he seeks us out when we go astray, and like a loving Father, he draws us closer even when we remain at his side.  Whether these moments produce joy or suffering, God is teaching us that our faith and our trust can only be in him.   He will use whatever it takes to get us back on track, refocus, and to reach our destination, where he is already waiting for us.

When Christianity Becomes An Idea

Nominalism has pushed more and more “essential” doctrines and practices into the “non-essential” category in order to maintain some sort of unity

By the second half of the twentieth century, the cultural momentum of Christendom has waned, and the ever-increasing atomization caused by nominalism has pushed more and more “essential” doctrines and practices into the “non-essential” category in order to maintain some sort of unity.

Faith is no longer the supernatural gift in which we assent to the whole truth as revealed by God through his Church. Rather, it is a reflexive faith, a change in the disposition of the mind—Christ’s salvific work is done for me. Conversionism reduces faith to a kind of gnosis and salvation to an interior personal relationship.

A personal relationship with God is certainly a good thing. It would be tragic if a Christian didn’t enjoy intimate friendship with God. But we can have a personal relationship with many people—parents, co-workers, next-door neighbors, even people we have met only online. As close as these relationships may be, they are not equal. Your flesh-and-blood relationship with your parents and the one-flesh union with your spouse are categorically different. The same is true for our union with Christ: we become his body and bride through faith and the sacraments, especially baptism and the Eucharist. This is why Catholics in the past rarely used “personal relationship” language. Instead, they spoke of being a devoted son or daughter.

Lowest Common Denominationalism
All churches, in this view, are the same

When a conversion experience becomes the lowest common denominator that unites all Christians, the church community can, itself, be viewed as an impediment to unity. As David Anders notes:

In its most extreme form, this evangelical ecclesiology devolves into popular rants against any Church. This is not new. We find essentially the same thing in the well-known revivalist Billy Sunday (1862-1935): “Jesus said: ‘Come to me,’ not to the Church; to me, not to a creed; to me, not to a preacher; to me, not to an evangelist; to me, not to a priest; to me, not to a pope; ‘Come to me and I will give you rest.’ Faith in Jesus Christ saves you, not faith in the Church.”  

Where the magisterial Protestants see church membership and rightly ordered worship as essential to the Christian life, conversionism places all those things in competition with Christ. All churches, in this view, are the same. For the believer, they all are either inconsequential or impediments and distractions that insinuate themselves between the believer and Christ.

What is Non-Denominationalism?
By denying any denominational identity, they try to appeal to the broadest possible Protestant audience and attract disaffected Catholic

As conversionism spreads, denominations and denominational labels soon become unpopular. Thus is born a new phenomenon: non-denominationalism.

What is non-denominationalism? It is a Protestant denomination that doesn’t want to be called a denomination. Non-denominationalists’ beliefs generally mirror that of the Baptist faith; they are low-church, Bible-alone, and conversionistic. By denying any denominational identity, they try to appeal to the broadest possible Protestant audience and attract disaffected Catholics.

The remarkable growth of non-denominational groups shows that their strategy worked. Christianity Today computed that “using a baseline average from 1972-1976, over the last four decades, there has been more than a 400 percent growth in Protestants who identify as nondenominational.”

The mega-church movement takes the non-denominational model one step farther. These groups remove anything that would impede people from sitting in their pews—and then they remove the pews, too. If traditional church music turns you off, the organ and choir are replaced with a contemporary rock band. Don’t like sermons? The preacher and sermons are replaced with theater and high-level entertainment. The messages vary. Many preach a utilitarian ethic, where happiness becomes the goal for the here and now, mixed with a call to make a “decision for Christ.”

Although mega-churches are geared toward supplying the lowest common Christian-like beliefs for popular consumption, they do propound one unalterable, infallible dogma: all churches are the same. No church is more true or more beneficial than any other. This militant egalitarian approach to ecclesiology has a fatal flaw: if it doesn’t matter where I go to church, why attend a mega-church? Why not satisfy my spiritual needs by myself and on my own terms? The mega-church cannot answer this question without forsaking its one infallible egalitarian dogma.

Finding God in the abyss

When prison becomes a place of conversion


Raphaëlle Coquebert11/21/21

With the help of dedicated chaplains, the Light makes its way in, and the Holy Spirit turns hearts around.

Fr. Éric Venot-Eiffel knows how to care for those who are in the most spiritual need. He’s made Blessed Pierre Claverie’s idea his own: “We are more Christian than ever when we put our lives on the line where humanity is wounded.”

Venot-Eiffel has been, among other things, a volunteer with the Little Brothers of the Poor during his student years, a chaplain at a palliative care facility from 2001 to 2005, and the chaplain of a prison in the west of France (2012-2020). He has written especially about his most recent ministry, both difficult and luminous, in his second book, Derrière les hauts murs (“Behind the High Walls”).

Seeing beyond their actions

With a phrase from the New Testament as his only mantra—”If your heart condemns you, know that God is greater than your heart” (see 1 Jn 3:20)—this pastor spent eight years meeting prisoners to bring them comfort and to discover in them, behind their sordid acts, the trace of their dignity as children of God.

It was often an arduous or seemingly futile task, but its fruitfulness was sometimes forcefully revealed, as in this letter he quotes from a prisoner he calls simply “R”:

“We are without morale, dispossessed of everything, alone in our cell. (…) On Sunday mornings, when Mass comes, it’s a deliverance, a moment of sharing, a communion, a pleasure to be together (…) Thanks to the priest, I’ve learned to forgive. Wanting someone to forgive us without us forgiving ourselves had become nonsensical for me. I owe this change to the Father, to Christians and to the Gospels.”

From this “universe of suffering and night,” Fr. Eric, who sees himself as “pouring out grace,” shares some moving testimonies proving that it’s possible to extricate oneself from one’s past in order to “be reborn from above.”

From darkness to life

For example, “P” recalled Fr. Eric’s first visit to his cell:

“At the end, he said to me, ‘In the name of God, I forgive you for all the evil you have done.’ And I cried. The priest had healed my heart and soul (…) I felt I was in a new world. God, in all his mercy (…) had just welcomed me with open arms.”

Fr. Eric also cites the words of “B,” 45 years old, whose serious psychiatric problems led him to kill the mother of his two children:

“I approached the Catholic prison chaplaincy (…). We knew that we were being accompanied by human beings driven by a benevolent mystical force: God. (…) I still don’t know who I am, except that I am more than my sins. (…) I know that God can guide me.”

This is a beautiful tribute to all those Christians who, driven by an inextinguishable faith in God and in humanity which, reach out to those who seem to have no human face anymore, but whom God visits and raises up.

Catholic priest guillotined by Nazis is beatified in Poland

Cardinal Marcello Semeraro presides at the beatification of Fr. Jan Macha in Katowice, Poland, Nov. 20, 2021 The beatification of Fr. Jan Macha in Katowice, Poland, Nov. 20, 2021. | Screenshot from Katedra Katowice YouTube channel.

A Catholic priest guillotined by the Nazis in 1942 was declared blessed on Saturday.

Cardinal Marcello Semeraro, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, presided at the beatification of Fr. Jan Macha at the Cathedral of Christ the King in Katowice, southwest Poland, on Nov. 20.

EpiskopatNews via Flickr.

Preaching at the live-streamed Mass, the Italian cardinal said: “The witness of Jan Franciszek Macha, now blessed, to the Lord Jesus is a truly heroic page of faith and charity in the history of this Church in Upper Silesia.”

“He too died, just like the grain of wheat: he was killed by a Nazi system full of hatred for those who were sowing good, in order to show the people of today that earthly dominion is passing away, while the Kingdom of Christ — which, as its supreme law, has the commandment of charity — endures.”

EpiskopatNews via Flickr.
EpiskopatNews via Flickr.

Jan Franciszek (John Francis) Macha, known as Hanik, was born on Jan. 18, 1914, in Chorzów Stary, a village in the southern Polish province of Silesia. He had two sisters and a brother.

In 1934, he entered the Silesian Theological Seminary. He was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Katowice on June 25, 1939, just three months before Nazi Germany invaded Poland.

After a two-month substitution in his home parish, he was appointed to the parish church of St. Joseph in Ruda Śląska, a city near Katowice.

Fr. Jan Macha (1914-1942). episkopat.pl.

Fr. Jan Macha (1914-1942). episkopat.pl.

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