UNBORN WORD of the day


Visitation by Bradi Barth

Unborn Word of the Day has received permission to post  Visitation by Bradi Barth* copyright “BRADI BARTH” and “@HERBRONNEN vzw {www.bradi-barth.org)  Click on painting for full view.

“…God loved the world so much that he gave his son – it was a giving – it is as much as if to say it hurt God to give, because he loved the world so much that he gave his son, and he gave him to Virgin Mary, and what did she do with him?

As soon as he came in her life – immediately she went in haste to give that good news, and as she came into the house of her cousin, the child – the unborn child – the child in the womb of Elizabeth, leapt with joy. He was that little unborn child…was the first messenger of peace. He recognized the Prince of Peace, he recognized that Christ has come to bring the good news for you and for me.”

Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, Nobel Peace Prize Lecture, December 1979

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*We would encourage our readers to visit the Bradi Barth’s website: Bradi-Barth.org Bradi Barth (1922-2007) was an amazing Catholic artist. She was born in Switzerland but lived most of her life in Belgium. Her art is rich in tradition, amazingly unique and awe-inspiring.

In October 2000 Bradi Barth started her foundation “HERBRONNEN vzw”, fixing clearly its mission and goals:

  • Evangelization in the largest sense – Support for the missions – In Union with the Pope of Rome –  In Union with Christ – Under the protection of the Holy Virgin Mary


The Pro-life call to patience

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Here are three insightful quotes about patience.

“Defending the dignity of the human person requires detachment from immediate results. We’re in this for the long term.… We have no right to despair and we have no reason to despair. Rev. Richard John Neuhaus

From an article by Colleen Carroll Campbell: A Lgacy of Connection and Common Ground in a Fragmented World

One of my favorite quotes from Mother St. Paul’s book Ortus Christi is about patience.

“Patience is a twofold grace, that of waiting and that of suffering, both are a great aid to zeal. The Eternal Word’s zeal for the salvation of men had existed in all its perfection and all its fullness from all eternity, yet think how long He waited! When the conditions were changed and He had at length become incarnate, He still waited patiently for nine months, and after that He waited for thirty years! This was zeal, zeal in its perfection. Is my zeal tempered with patience?”

Here is a interesting and encouraging quote about patience and perseverance from John Quincy Adams.

“Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish.”John Quincy Adams (1767-1848)



UNBORN CHRIST ON COLLISION COURSE WITH CULTURE OF DEATH
March 29, 2009, 8:59 pm
Filed under: Evangelium Vitae, Thriving Not Just Surviving!, Unborn Jesus

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Simeon Holding the Christ Child

When the baby Jesus was still a newborn Mary and Joseph presented Him to the Lord according to Jewish custom. As they left the Temple they met a holy man named Simeon (Lk 2:25-35). He prayed to God and made a prophecy about the baby Jesus. In part, he said: “…this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is spoken against…” Other translations say “as a sign of contradiction” or a sign that will be “opposed”.

Yes Christ is “A Sign”. First He is a Person! A Divine Person! But He is also “A Sign of Contradiction”. Likewise – thanks be to God – The Unborn Christ Child is a Sign of Contradiction!

We learn from a Prophetic Sign! And if we study the life of Unborn Jesus we have lots of uplifting, beautiful, edifying and hopeful lessons to learn there!

But there is also this: Unborn Jesus is a sign of contradiction to the culture of death that is encroaching day-by-day into our culture and society. Thanks be to God, Unborn Jesus is at the spiritual heart of the Culture of Life that the Church is committed to.

Here are two examples: “…as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me” (Mt 25:40). “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me.” (Mt 18:5). Mother Teresa of Calcutta, John Paul II and Benedict XVI have all commented on these words of Jesus in relation to unborn children. When your local abortion facility aborts a baby, it is aborting Christ. And when your local Pregnancy Counseling Center helps a pregnant woman carry her child to term, they are also helping Christ be born in Bethlehem!

There is an intersection between time and eternity, earth and heaven, the worldly powers and the Kingdom of God, the physical life and the spiritual realm, evil and Good, death and Life – and the newly conceived Christ Child at the one cell stage is at that very point of intersection! So is Christ Crucified & the Resurrected Christ! When Life meets death Christ is there! When adults kill babies Christ is there (with the babies)!

Thanks be to God, the Unborn Christ is Victor when He collides with this pathetic culture of death. We as Christians must be united with Him, in solidarity with all unborn children. To quote George Weigel, we must be busy about building “a culture-forming counterculture”. Two of its distinguishing marks will be: it is Christ-centered and Life-affirming!

To quote John Paul II: “…we are facing an enormous and dramatic clash between good and evil, death and life, the ‘culture of death’ and the ‘culture of life’. We find ourselves not only ‘faced with’ but necessarily ‘in the midst of’ this conflict: we are all involved and we all share in it, with the inescapable responsibility of choosing to be unconditionally pro – life.” (Evangelium Vitae #28).



Everyone has the duty to do the impossible…to bring the world back to Christ

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Toronto, Toronto by William Kurelek

“The Christian of the future will be a mystic or he will not exist at all.

Karl Rahner, Theological Investigations XX, Concern for the Church, “The Spirituality of the Church of the Future”, translated Edward Quinn (New York: Crossroad, 1981), p. 149.

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“I have often had occasion to remember a saying of Pope Pius XI that was a favorite of Dorothy Day, co-founder of the Catholic Worker movement.  “Let us thank God that he makes us live among the present problems; it is no longer permitted to anyone to be mediocre.” Catholicism’s Bright Future Seven Signs in America That the End Is Nowhere Near By George Weigel

After some research I was able to find this quote in the context of part of the larger statement Pius XI made:

Pius XI was even more insistent that the layman fulfill his function in the Church. He wrote: “It is absolutely necessary that in this our age all should be apostles: it is absolutely necessary that the laity should not sit idly by. . . . The crisis we are experiencing is unique in history. It is a new world that must burst out of a crucible in which so many different energies are boiling. Let us thank God that He makes us live among the present problems. It is no longer permitted to anyone to be mediocre. Everyone has the imperative duty to remember that he has a mission to fulfill, that of doing the impossible, each within the limits of his activity, to bring the world back to Christ.Program of Action (Grailville, Loveland, Ohio, 1946)




New Signs of hope Feb 2009
February 14, 2009, 12:11 pm
Filed under: Pro-life, Thriving Not Just Surviving!

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It is better to Light One Candle than to Curse The Darkness

Here is a small list of good signs for the pro-life movement.

On December 30, 2008, the U.S. Bishops released a survey showing that most Americans support laws limiting or regulating abortion. Click here to see the survey.

A  recent USA Today/Gallup poll shows that only 35 percent of those surveyed approve of the President’s controversial move ‘allowing funding to overseas family planning groups that provide abortions.’ Fifty-eight percent disapproved of this executive order. Click here to see this poll.

Missouri, Oklahoma Legislators File Resolutions Against FOCA Abortion Bill Click here to read about this.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has launched a national postcard campaign urging Congress to maintain widely-supported pro-life policies and to oppose the federal funding and promotion of abortion. Launched on January 24-25, the campaign is being coordinated through the USCCB’s partner organization, the National Committee for a Human Life Amendment (NCHLA).  Click here to read more. Click here for instructions on  how to get involved.

Many  pro-life groups are fighting FOCA . One group that is leading the way is Americans United for Life (a really great group  that has a great website for information on how to stand up for the unborn.)

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Click here for the website.

This following article is a good short readable summary of FOCA ( The Freedom of Choice Act).

A Radical Attempt to Prematurely End Debate Over Abortion by Denise M. Burke

Click here to sign AUL’s fight FOCA petition.  For other action alerts from AUL click here.

Another really creative idea circulating the internet  is called the Red Envelope Project. They are calling on pro-lifers to send 50 million red envelopes to the White House. Each envelope representing a baby killed by abortion in this country. Click here to learn more.

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There are tens of  thousands of pro-life groups around the world. This is cause for hope. We are not alone when we stand up for the unborn.

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Priests for Life has a great resource list of Pro-life groups around the world (including the U.S.).  Click here to go to their  Links To International Pro-Life Community page.



Prop 8 passage: Another ray of light ‘midst the dark night of our political landscape
November 7, 2008, 9:53 pm
Filed under: Thriving Not Just Surviving!

prop-8

Proposition 8 states that “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid and recognized in California.”

This election has taught me a powerful lesson. I live in California and I know first hand why Proposition 8 passed in one of the most liberal states in the union. How did they get this to pass in a state that is overwhelmingly liberal? Great organization, good ground game and hard work. The people at ProtectMarriage.com were ahead of the game. I had received a packet to collect signatures to put this proposition on the ballot a few weeks before the Supreme Court overturned marriage in California.

These people saw this coming and they were prepared. They had been watching the court case and saw where it was going. Once it was on the ballot the Knights of Columbus and the Mormon Church got into the fray right away along with many Christian and Catholic churches. In my town, not only did my Catholic Church push ‘Yes on 8’ but we had signs for everyone to put in their yards. Also extra signs to put them back in their yards when they were torn down. (Which happened frequently.)

A lot of people got involved in a phone bank (myself included and believe me I went way out of my comfort zone to do this) and I wouldn’t be surprised if most people on the voter list in my area got a phone call about ‘Yes on 8’. As the election approached people in my town often stood in groups on the street corners waving ‘Yes on 8’ signs. And on the day before the election many street corners were manned by 25 or more people waving Yes on 8 signs. The ‘Yes on 8’ also had a bus tour which had rallies all through California. I attended one that was in a town close to my own. I don’t know what it was like in the rest of California but I suspect something similar happened elsewhere.

‘Yes on 8’ passed and it taught me a lesson too. Next Presidential election pro-life people have to be as organized as their opposition.  Also we have to be smarter, plan better and work harder to win for the unborn. The ‘Yes on 8’ were as organized as the Democrats were this year and they won. In fact, a Californian writing about 8 on one blog said  “I heard a Democrat politician note that Prop 8 won because of good ‘ol fashion, door-to-door type neighborhood campaigning.” The Prop 8 people have stated on their website that over 100,000 volunteers were involved with ‘Yes on 8’.

I have always been proud of the pro-life movement in the U.S. We have worked hard and kept this issue alive. That is why the opposition has always been so ferocious.  Now let us begin again and pray, fast, and work harder, smarter, and even better on helping Americans say ‘yes for the unborn’.



Watch your spiritual investments soar
October 10, 2008, 5:51 pm
Filed under: Pro-life, Thriving Not Just Surviving!

The Sermon on the Mount was lengthy – and for good reason – because the people needed a long sermon on the proper way to live. Actually, the sermon was intended just as much for us today as it was for those folks back in the day. It covered lots of topics – financial investment wasn’t one of them. But, do you remember this pithy piece of advice?

“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” Mt 6:24

The word “mammon” is slightly ambiguous in meaning. My Bible Dictionary notes its use in Rabbinical writings, the Talmud and in the New Testament. It seems to mean property and possessions (including of course money). Maybe a spirit of “Materialism”. But here, by comparing it in a sense to “God”, Jesus seems to be elevating its meaning to dizzying heights, such as those who might even be inclined to “worship” it as a false god.

So there we have it. If we look around at modern life we see Materialism falsely elevated, for many, higher than God Himself! But with Materialism comes a phony morality which we can safely term “Immorality”.

We might say that Mother Teresa of Calcutta predicted this stock market crash when she quietly stated the obvious. Paraphrasing: “Abortion has turned the world up side down.” Of course abortion is just one example of morality’s skeleton picked clean by the vultures of materialism and consumerism. Every area of modern life has been dragged down into a base immorality. All ten, of the once revered TEN COMMANDMENTS, have been abandoned by a vast number of modern people and many will even claim that the breaking of commandments are in fact virtuous acts. This is the moral world up side down, for sure.

BUT THERE IS GOOD NEWS! Your investments in worshiping and obeying the One True God! Your investments in People. Your investments in true “old fashioned” morality! Your investments in living the theological virtues of Faith, Hope and Love! These are the investments that will truly endure!

These are the investments that will bring you peace and turn your world right side up!



YOUR SPIRITUAL RESTING HEART RATE
August 2, 2008, 8:52 pm
Filed under: Sacred Heart, Thriving Not Just Surviving!

THRIVING NOT JUST SURVIVING!

A series of reflections on living the Christian Life in a Time of Cultural Upheaval (a Culture of Life under attack by a culture of death which erodes traditional beliefs and values).

9

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden,
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me;
for I am gentle and lowly in heart,
and you will find rest for your souls.” Mt 11:28-29

Amidst the cultural upheaval of our time, there is a tangible palpable restlessness. It comes in two flavors: 1.) the restlessness of those who are restless precisely because they are foundationless, and 2.) the restlessness of those who are holding fast to their Christian faith and traditional Judaeo-Christian morality and are being assailed on every side, every day, by contrary arguments and messages.

Both variations of restlessness concern the soul, first and foremost. Another way to express it is to say that our human hearts are troubled. St. Augustine’s famous summation is to the point: “You have made us for Yourself, O God, and our hearts are restless till they rest in Thee.” We can take stock of our spiritual resting heart rate during times of calm reflection, with God’s help especially, as in prayer. Am I restless? In what ways am I restless? What causes me to be restless? When am I most spiritually rested?

These are not trick questions, because in fact, as long as we are humans here on earth we will all have our spiritual “rest” issues. But St. Augustine’s expression is 100% true. Which leads us to the above quote from Jesus. We might say that there is a cure for restlessness, the deep Divine “rest” which we discover within the Heart of Jesus Christ, a heart which He Himself describes as “gentle and lowly”. And the “cure” involves “learning”, as Jesus Himself explains: “…learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart…” and what? “and you will find rest for your souls”. Christ is recommending a heart-to-Heart spiritual therapy.

One example of a person who learned this lesson well is St John the Evangelist who, at the Last Supper, “was lying close to the breast of Jesus” (Jn 13:23), and who, at the death of Jesus, witnessed the soldier’s spear piercing the Lord’s heart (Jn 19:34-35). We find in John’s writings a profound mystical understanding of God’s Heart and God’s Love.

By observing the Lord’s Day, Sunday, the day of rest, and incorporating times of prayer rest and meditative rest into our daily routines we will also discover the rest that is in God. Just as exercise and oxygen effects the body’s physical resting heart rate, so exercising our faith along with docility to God’s Spirit effects the soul’s spiritual resting heart rate. With spiritual rest comes personal and moral stability – which is greatly needed during our present time of cultural upheaval.

God values your rested heart and peace of soul so much that He gave us a day devoted to spiritual rest and He gave us His own Heart to rest upon! Just what the Divine Physician ordered!

George A. Peate, August 2, 2008



INDEFATIGABLE FAITH
July 29, 2008, 10:21 pm
Filed under: Thriving Not Just Surviving!

THRIVING NOT JUST SURVIVING!

A series of reflections on living the Christian Life in a Time of Cultural Upheaval (a Culture of Life under attack by a culture of death which erodes traditional beliefs and values).

8

St. Paul escaping from the city of Damascus

One morning 10 or 15 years ago, I woke up with a word in my mind and upon my lips; “INDEFATIGABLE”. Besides still being drowsy, I wasn’t exactly sure what the word meant – I had a rough concept of it but not an understanding of it. So I went to the dictionary: “Incapable of being wearied; that cannot be tired out; unremitting in labor or effort”. True story. (Which reminds me of the time my smiling high school football coach said to me: “You’re expendable” and I wasn’t sure if it was a compliment or something sinister.)

The Christian is called to an ‘untiring’ faith, a ‘tireless’ faith. A faith for good times and bad, a faith commitment in season and out of season. It is also a faith which requires effort – constant effort, continuing effort, unrelenting effort. Does this sound negative? Does this scare us?

“Take up (your) cross and follow me” says the Lord (Mt 16:24, Mt 10:38). Should we edit this from Christianity? (Push the delete button?) ‘Shouldn’t our faith just be one continuous “high”?’ some might conjecture. Let’s take a look at a famous passage written by Saint Paul to the Church of Corinth (II Cor 11:24-12:10). It is too long to quote here, but let’s paraphrase parts of it. It starts with Paul boasting (in a self-conscious manner, “I am talking like a madman”) about his numerous problems, sufferings, setbacks and weaknesses as compared to other apostles:

I have endured far greater labors, more imprisonments,
countless beatings, often near death…
Five different times I received 39 lashes,
Three times I was beaten with rods,
I was stoned once.
Shipwrecked three times,
Adrift at sea for a night and a day.
I experienced frequent dangers from rivers,
from robbers, Jews, Gentiles, false brethren
dangers in the city, in the wilderness, at sea…
toil, hardship, hunger and thirst,
often without food, subject to cold and exposure.
I escaped from the city of Damascus
by being lowered in a basket over the city wall.

Paul is the model par excellence of heroic indefatigable faith. This wonderful excerpt from Paul also acknowledges the extreme weakness which is inherent in our lives (not paraphrased above). Paul concludes this powerful passage with his famous statement: “for when I am weak, then I am strong” (by the Grace and power of Christ within him). We must all hold on with Paul and all the great Saints who have gone before us. To live virtuous lives amidst cultural upheaval is heroic. We are called to develop virtues in our lives and live by them tirelessly, heroically. Saint Paul pray for us.

George A. Peate, July 30, 2008



THE CHRISTIAN LIFE – NOT SMOOTH SAILING EVERY DAY!
July 26, 2008, 4:06 pm
Filed under: Thriving Not Just Surviving!

THRIVING NOT JUST SURVIVING!

A series of reflections on living the Christian Life in a Time of Cultural Upheaval (a Culture of Life under attack by a culture of death which erodes traditional beliefs and values).

7

This is one of the paintings on the walls of the Greek Orthodox Church in Capernaum. Note that Jesus is depicted twice in the painting: once asleep and once calming the storm.

When I was a teenager I had two friends whose families both owned sail boats. Since we lived very close to a lake I went sailing with them quite a bit. One sailboat was a beautiful, sleek “Flying Dutchman” that was responsive and supple and a joy to sail. This friend raced at the yacht club and had a pretty good record. The other boat was a pint-size bright red wood dinghy with a sail.

In my life I relate more to the humble dinghy than the more sophisticated “Flying Dutchman”. I remember many occasions when we were in the dinghy and large boats were all around us causing havoc as each wake-created wave would assail us and send us furiously bobbing up and down as sail and rudder both suffered temporary paralysis. And the zipping motorboats seemed to enjoy upsetting our modestly proposed course, waving to us with smiles of delight as we held on to our frowns of consternation.

So there you are, a little dinghy of a boat out on the waters of civilization and you are experiencing cultural upheaval to port and starboard, the winds of change are not cooperating either. You don’t really have too many choices. You can abandon your faith (and its cherished interwoven faith teachings and moral wisdom) – this little dinghy that keeps you afloat and more or less on course – or you can hold fast to your faith and weather the storm as best you can using sail and rudder and maturing insight to get you to your destination.

Your simple dinghy is part of a worldwide flotilla of dinghies that spans the centuries and encompasses the world. This Flotilla of Faith is impressive not for its vast numbers alone but more for its Divine Artisan and Commander. Each tiny dinghy flies a little flag with a cross on it which blows valiantly in the breezes of life. Each tiny dinghy has its mother ship in sight – the Great Barque of Peter – which toils onward amidst storms and human catastrophes, onward, propelled not by the motors of men but by the breath of the Spirit, exhaled eternally for all humanity to be freshened by and moved by. This is our confidence! This is our hope! And there is much joy besides!

We have a biblical precedent for comparing a little dinghy to our faith-life. Remember the evening when Jesus and His disciples set out to cross the lake and a raging storm came upon them suddenly? Where was the Lord? “But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion” (Mk 4:38). ‘Where is God when we need Him?’ our fear and confusion demands. So they cried out: “Master, Master, we are perishing!” And His reply? “Where is your faith?” (Lk 8:24-25). He rebuked the wind and the waves, a calm ensued, and the rest is Mystery…

George A. Peate, July 26, 2008



THE SURGE IS WORKING – IN BATTLE AGAINST THE DEVIL
July 24, 2008, 10:38 pm
Filed under: Thriving Not Just Surviving!

THRIVING NOT JUST SURVIVING!

A series of reflections on living the Christian Life in a Time of Cultural Upheaval (a Culture of Life under attack by a culture of death which erodes traditional beliefs and values).

6

Intensifying one’s prayer life and commitment to prayer is always a good idea, but especially in times of extreme difficulty. So stepping up one’s prayer “routine” as the devil is stepping up his unholy guerrilla tactics makes good sense militaristically and mystically.

As Paul counsels us: “…the weapons of our warfare are not worldly but have divine power to destroy strongholds” (II Cor 10:4). Pray Onward Christian Soldiers! Pray On!

Every Christian will have his weapons of choice – spontaneous prayer, praise, thanksgiving, worship, the Mass, the rosary, morning devotions, quiet meditation, adoration, biblical reflection, novenas, litanies, group prayer, praying while out for a walk, and so on. However, one choice is not enough. God expects His troops to be multifaceted and flexible depending upon those situations that present themselves.

As Paul counsels us: “Train yourself in godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come” (I Tim 4:7-8).

The times in which we live call for extreme responses on our part, that is, extreme holiness, extreme self-discipline, extreme thoughtfulness, extreme compassion, and any other extremely inspired virtue you might wish to practice. We are talking PEACE here not violence. All virtues support a Peace Process within our lives. Wage a bold spiritual battle of Peace.

As the author of Hebrews counsels us: “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb 4:16, KJV).

When we wake up in the morning we should dress ourselves in God’s armor. That is, prepare ourselves as if civilization depends upon us, because it does. We are fighting for a healthy Culture of Life, for a country that values virtue, moral law, order and truth.

As Paul counsels us: “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil…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”(Eph 6:11, 14-18)

George A. Peate, July 25, 2008



CHRISTIAN REMEMBER THIS
July 19, 2008, 10:34 pm
Filed under: Thriving Not Just Surviving!

THRIVING NOT JUST SURVIVING!

A series of reflections on living the Christian Life in a Time of Cultural Upheaval (a Culture of Life under attack by a culture of death which erodes traditional beliefs and values).

5

“…for love is strong as death…” (Song of Solomon 8:6) Yes, “love is strong as death”, in fact stronger as has been demonstrated definitively.

For on one occasion Love was betrayed with a kiss, accused falsely, scourged and mocked, led by a tether like an animal, but Love endured and remained strong.

On that day, Love was beaten and knocked down, spit upon, stripped and humiliated, but Love endured and remained strong.

Love fell under a burdensome weight, more than once, Love even trembled as its trial drew more severe, but Love endured and remained strong.

Nails were driven through Love’s limbs and blood drained from Love’s numerous wounds. Then death set upon Love a kiss complete and final, Love succumbed for a time.

A spear was thrust in Love’s unfathomable Heart, to empty it further, of all Hope. Then Love’s shame was hidden within Life’s tomb of rock.

But Love endured, revived, and proved for all time, that Love is strong as death and stronger yet unto Life eternal.

One of Love’s greatest admirers cried it out for all ages to hear: “I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified” (I Cor 2:2).

George A. Peate, July 19, 2008



“BEHOLD, I MAKE ALL THINGS NEW.”
July 17, 2008, 10:02 pm
Filed under: Thriving Not Just Surviving!

THRIVING NOT JUST SURVIVING!

A series of reflections on living the Christian Life in a Time of Cultural Upheaval (a Culture of Life under attack by a culture of death which erodes traditional beliefs and values).

4

In a time of trial by fire, there is need for hope. Some might say “We know the power of Love and we know that Faith leads to God and Heaven and Truth, but how does hope help us?” Hope is the forgotten theological virtue, the least glamorous of the three. Hope is the country cousin of the well known and much discussed other two; Faith and Love.

When the heart is heavy, the mind troubled, the will is wavering and even the senses are numbed, there is no reservoir from which to draw spiritual and moral sustenance for such a struggle except from Hope. There is natural hope residing within every human heart of course. But the theological virtue of Hope is supernatural – a gift of the Holy Spirit – for times of difficulty and challenge, whether routine or extraordinary.

“And he who sat upon the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new” (Rev 21:5).

Prior to this verse in Chapter 21 we are told about “a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth have passed away”. And that “the dwelling of God is with men…he will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more…for the former things have passed away.” Here is described the reason for hope; eternal life with God.

But the one “who sat upon the throne” in Heaven, hung upon the cross on earth, and before that lay in a manger. He began making “all things new” from the moment of His conception. The Incarnation began this universal ‘construction project’ of making “all things new”. The Crucifixion and the Resurrection opened the gates to new life for humanity.

Pentecost sealed this ‘new arrangement’, this new spiritual configuration which we call the New Covenant. But now each one must “fight the good fight” (I Tim 6:12. II Tim 4:7-8) himself or herself, to claim the prize. As St. Paul once said: “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil 3:14). Accepting the promises of Christ is activity not passivity, struggle rather than complacency.

St. Paul is a great model for us: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing” (II Tim 4:7-8).

We are talking about hope, “new” hope in the Presence of the Spirit, in the glory of the Resurrection. He makes “all things new” – even Hope! Hope is no longer a sentimental desiring, no longer wishful thinking, wistful glances… New Hope is associated with tongues of fire, running a spiritual race (alone), fighting a spiritual battle(side by side with one’s fellow Christians against the evil one), reaching out for a crown…

George A. Peate, July 18, 2008



“NOW IS THE ACCEPTABLE TIME”
July 16, 2008, 10:39 pm
Filed under: Thriving Not Just Surviving!

THRIVING NOT JUST SURVIVING!

A series of reflections on living the Christian Life in a Time of Cultural Upheaval (a Culture of Life under attack by a culture of death which erodes traditional beliefs and values).

3

Saint Paul speaks of “working with” Christ, then:

“…we entreat you not to accept the grace of God in vain. For he says,
‘At the acceptable time I have listened to you,
and helped you on the day of salvation.
‘Behold, now is the acceptable time;
behold, now is the day of salvation.” (2 Cor 6:1-2)

And so is today the acceptable time, even when humanity’s moral compass is spinning wildly out of control – especially when it is spinning thus – this is the appropriate time to trust in God and seek His will with all our hearts. Paul is telling us that “the acceptable time” is the same time as “the day of salvation”. In other words, it is a time to act, to live by faith.

The day of salvation, if anything, is a day of spiritual opportunities, that is, it is a day full of promise.

But the world around us is shifting like the sand, blowing hither and thither, aimlessly destroying the moral order that had been constructed over the centuries according to the Judaeo-Christian heritage we perhaps took for granted for too long. Now it is disappearing. To be replaced by a false morality with new false gods and creeds of false tolerance which erode the true tolerance born of mercy which God taught us through the millennia.

But now, the Church is to be purified – is now being purified – has been undergoing purification for some time now, but did we notice? Did we understand?

The Christian must turn to God in union with the body of the Church and “accept the (purifying) grace of God”, not “in vain”, but with docility, in order to move the Church forward and his/her own relationship with God forward. Within this present cultural upheaval, one discovery the Church must make and the Christian must accept, is that God desires to purify His people.

So it was with the martyrs in prior turbulent times, so it is now in our own privileged time. The logic of Christian daily living is shifting a little bit now. Acts we once took for granted, must now be seen for what they are. To kneel and worship God, for example, is a privilege. Take advantage of it! And know that it is pleasing to God.

To offer thanks to God before a meal is a privilege. To sit in a chapel and pray quietly is a privilege. To take an evening walk and speak softly to God in Heaven is a privilege. Even to be purified – as hard as it might be – is a privilege.

The privileges multiply as grace abounds all the more, all around. But “the acceptable time” is also a time of responsibility. Listen to the question Jesus posed after one of His parables:

“…when the Son of man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Lk 18:8)

Let him who has ears hear this question. Let each Christian reply as one New Testament parent did: “I believe; help my unbelief!” The Son of man wants to find faith on earth when He returns! Will He have to hunt forever to uncover our faith or will He immediately see it, perhaps flickering like a candle ‘midst breezes, but lit nonetheless?

Now let’s go back to the parable which preceded the foregoing question from Jesus. It was a parable about persistence in prayer (about the widow and the “judge who neither feared God nor regarded man” Lk 18:1-8). Perseverance in prayer provides stability in times of upheaval and faithlessness.

George A. Peate, July 17, 2008



The wave and the way…continued
July 15, 2008, 10:48 pm
Filed under: Thriving Not Just Surviving!

THRIVING NOT JUST SURVIVING!

A series of reflections on living the Christian Life in a Time of Cultural Upheaval (a Culture of Life under attack by a culture of death which erodes traditional beliefs and values).

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In 1968, the inhabitants of the city of Prague, Czechoslovakia, were bracing for the impending Soviet invasion of their city. In order to make things as difficult as possible for the invading army, the Czechs took down street signs and removed house numbers and door nameplates throughout the city. When the Soviet tanks and troops stormed into the city and demanded directions they received cooperative but baffling instructions that invariably led them someplace they did not want to go.

In 1968, the Czechs were the victims and the Soviet troops were the aggressors. Today, we see a role reversal where it is the impious aggressors who are taking down the ‘street signs’ leaving the masses in confusion. In our present time of cultural upheaval, not only have the old familiar cultural and moral signposts been torn down but now new unreliable and unintelligible signposts have been put up in their place by those promoting a new relativistic morality without God. Confusion reigns supreme amongst an overwhelming majority of the populace. A common way of coping with confusion seems to be to choose “the path of least resistance”. But the Christian has another path, a superior path: “I am the Way, and the Truth and the Life…” Jesus told His disciples (Jn 14:6). Christ is the path for the Christian, the road for Christianity.

Let’s look at this Christian Way in Christ. A lot has changed in our perception of walking this Way now that traditional moral signs imbedded within the very fabric of society have been pulled out from under us. What was once bad is now called good. Crimes of old are now common practice and enjoy the blessing of secular society. Many sins of the past are now, well…laughed at.

What is a Christian to do? Hold fast to those traditional moral teachings and precepts enshrined within the Christian tradition precisely because they were important moral principles worthy of attentive respect. Civilization – no longer as we knew it – has become a dangerous battleground of ideas. The Christian should follow Christ’s guideline:

“Behold I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves” (Mt 10:16)

Many Christians have neglected this advice and have let go of many core Christian beliefs as a result. Pray for them. Pray always!

Next post: “NOW IS THE ACCEPTABLE TIME”

George A. Peate, July 16, 2008



THE WAVE & THE WAY
July 14, 2008, 10:10 pm
Filed under: Thriving Not Just Surviving!

THRIVING NOT JUST SURVIVING! – A series of reflections on living the Christian Life in a Time of Cultural Upheaval.

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I moved to California when I was in my thirties and I remember being very surprised while driving to work some “winter” mornings and hearing that bad weather was coming in from the Pacific and that surfers were calling in sick so they could go out to the turbulent ocean and find big waves to ride. At the same time the weather service was telling people “stay out of the water!”.

What’s wrong with this picture?

Well we are living in turbulent times – to say the least. Actually we have been living through a cultural revolution of the first order, but many people haven’t even recognized it as such simply because they lost their moorings a long time ago and just adapt from year to year as things change. “Whatever..”

The Christian is different, he/she knows there is a bad storm all ‘round. But many Christians don’t realize that precisely because of this cultural storm we have great opportunities everyday. In fact, this is the time for us to seek out those many waves of Grace that come along every day. Individual waves of Grace which are opportunities for living the Christian life to the full!

“…but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more…” (Rom 5:20).

In this series we’ll take a look at the stellar opportunities confronting Christians and the age-old wisdom of Christianity for seizing the day, each day. A spiritual guide to catching and riding these great waves of Grace in this difficult time of moral disasters. The sports networks won’t notice but: “…your Father who sees in secret will reward you” (Mt 6:4).

We don’t need a “big” wave, we just need “God’s” wave of Grace, however it manifests itself to us. For as the Lord once told St. Paul: “My grace is sufficient for you…” (II Cor 12:9)

George A. Peate, July 15, 2008