FR. CATOIR – ARTICLES


Spirituality for Today – July 15, 2013

What Does God Want?

By:  Fr. John Catoir

    In this column I am going to try to reduce the New Testament to a few hundred words. Are you with me? Here goes.

God wants your love. He desires you, and He wants you to be with him in heaven. Jesus died on the cross for you. Those who understand this have The Faith, the others who do not are in the cold. We can only pray for them.

Believers like you, already have the Risen Lord living within your baptized soul, which means God is closer to you than your own heart beat. He loves you, and He wants your happiness. When you come to this understanding, you will be ready to follow his instructions.

One of the first things he asks is that you abide in Him. Abiding in Him is not found exclusively in contemplative prayer. No, to ‘abide’ with Him also means living your daily life in Him and with Him. By living in the present moment you will find God at your side, along with His love and joy. Don’t cloud your mind with needless guilt of fear. You are loved. Jesus said, “Fear is useless, what you need is trust.” 

Fidelity to His will is not an abstract theological obligation. In real life, it is nothing more than seeing the duties of the present moment as opportunities to unite with HIm. It is only in the present moment that you can be attentive to the needs of others.  

Real holiness is more about loving than it is about doing. Mother Theresa explained the connection: “It’s not so much what you do that counts; it’s how much love you put into the doing.”

Pray for the grace to respond joyfully to God’s love. The essential calling of every Christian is first of all to love and honor Almighty God. We do that best by loving Him in those who need us. Love is life’s greatest joy.

The supreme law is this: “Love God with your whole heart, soul and mind, and love your neighbor as you love yourself.” In other words, cling to God; think of others; and don’t put yourself down. Loving and forgiving yourself is essential.

Jesus commanded us to “love one another;” and added, “I have told you this, that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete,”(John 15:11).

He wants us to share in His happiness. This same theme is repeated over and over in the New Testament. 

Pope John Paul II captured the same idea with this proclamation:
“Christ came to bring joy; joy to children, joy to parents; joy to friends and families; joy to the sick and elderly; indeed, Christ came to bring joy to all people. Joy is the keynote message of Christianity, and the recurring motif of the Gospel, go therefore, and become messengers of joy.” 

For over twenty-five years I have been writing books on joy. 

I have a website entitled: “messengerofjoy.com“, and my Tweet address is:
@JOHNCATOIR. 

For me this obsession is like a vocation within a vocation. But we are all called to be messengers of joy. Therefore, it should be your obesession too. 

My hope is that you will become a messenger of joy. In that way, we can all do our part in making the theme of Christmas and Easter, a reality all year round: 

“JOY TO THE WORLD.”  

Spirituality for Today

May 12, 2013

“Are You a Doubting Thomas”

by: Fr. John Catoir

 

Don’t be too quick to label yourself a doubter until you know all the facts.

There is a distinction to be made between real doubt, and the discomfort we feel when pondering theological mysteries.

Intellectual mysteries are always baffling, but we accept the mystery anyway because we trust the word of Jesus. For instance, I may feel intellectual discomfort when I ponder the mystery of the Incarnation: namely, that Jesus Christ is true God and true man. Can such a thing be possible, God becoming man? Yes it is.  

In spite of my puzzlement, I simply accept it as true. The miracles and majestic teachings of Jesus have all persuaded me to trust Him. Truths of faith are supernatural mysteries, which we accept because Jesus taught them to be true, not because we can prove them scientifically.

There are also scientific truths that go beyond what is observably true. For instance no one has ever seen a subatomic particle, but all scientists know they exist by the trillions.

We accept natural and supernatural mysteries not because we comprehend them perfectly. We accept them because we know intuitively that they are true. Even scientists accept mysteries. True, they use instruments, but they can’t really explain the how of the things they discover.

Back to the original question; are you a “Doubting Thomas”? I think not. May be you feel obliged to admit that you don’t get it, but that’s not the point. We are all lost in the wonder of it.

At the time the Apostle Thomas said he would not accept the idea that Jesus rose from the dead, he was in shock. He demanded to put his finger into his side before he would believe. But he didn’t run away.

Remember, that while the greathearted Peter stoutly tried to dissuade Jesus from facing the dangers in Jerusalem, the doubting Thomas stood up and said, “All right! Let’s go up to the city and die with him.”

Father Bill O’Malley rightly concludes, “Thomas’s (all-in attitude) is evidence enough to show that a critical mind doesn’t preclude a stout heart,” (Notes taken from his private correspondence).

If you feel baffled by the mystery of an afterlife because you can’t imagine what heaven will be like, you may have more of a problem with your imagination than with your faith. Logic is not a friend of mystery. If you live by logic you may become an atheist and miss the joy of supernatural love.

Doubt is a refusal to give assent to a proposition until hard scientific evidence has been shown to verify it. Christians accept supernatural mysteries, not because they have scientific evidence to prove them, but because they have made a decision to trust the words of Jesus.

“Let’s not judge the Doubting Thomas, but praise him,” writes Father O’Malley. “Only humans are burdened with doubts, and a very estimable burden it is. Doubt is to the mind what hunger is to the belly, a discomfort that invites us to a healthier state than we were before…only the truly dull-witted are going to accept a (teaching) or rule based solely on the authority of books written long before anyone knew the Atlantic could be crossed. We’re now living in the most litigious society in history because one’s word, and-a-handshake aren’t enough.”

Don’t be a skeptic. Be patient. Faith will pull you through the fog. Remember the last words of Jesus:
            “I have told you all these things that your joy may be full.” 
         

Spirituality for Today
12/12/12
You Don’t Have to be Pretty to be Beautiful
By Father John Catoir

Everyone wants to be thought of as beautiful or handsome. The multi-billion dollar cosmetic industry, which services both men and women, attests to that fact. But what is true beauty?  The answer is both simple and profound. Bette Davis put it best when she said, “I think great beauty is a kind of beauty that has nothing to do with the face.”

We all know that there are women in the world with pretty faces, who manage to make themselves ugly by the way they treat others. Remember the TV show Bridezilla? All the cosmeticians in the world cannot transform a self-centered shrew into a beautiful woman.

On the other hand, many plain women are indeed beautiful because they have something called inner beauty. This light within transforms them into admirable and alluring women. Many of them do not realize how truly beautiful they are.

There is outer beauty and inner beauty. Outer beauty is only skin deep. It can be improved with some well-applied make-up, all of which will wash off, but make-up can never be a substitute for inner beauty. “Beauty is not in the face, beauty is a light in the heart.” Kahlil Gibran maintained that inner light is a spiritual matter. Those who aspire to radiate true beauty need to pay more attention to God’s presence within them. The Spirit of Love is eternal beauty.

I recently co-authored a book entitled, “You Don’t Have to be Pretty to be Beautiful.” It won’t be available until February of 2013. If you would like to preorder a copy, I promise delivery postpaid, as soon as it is off the press. Make your $10 check payable to: IBIS Publishing, PO Box 544, Cary, NC 27512.

The IBIS is a beautiful bird with a long nose. It is also an acronym for the words: Inner Beauty Is Serene. The importance of cultivating a deeper spirituality cannot be overestimated.

One of the most admired American women, during her lifetime and beyond, was Eleanor Roosevelt. Even after her husband, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, died, the United Nations elevated her to head their highest humanitarian service. She left us these words to ponder, “No matter how plain a woman may be, if truth and honesty are written across her face, she will be beautiful.”

Maintaining a basic fidelity to the Golden Rule is something most people strive to do. Father Jean-Pierre de Caussade wrote, “The secret of sanctity and happiness rest in fidelity to the will of God as it is manifested in the duty of the present moment,” (Cf. his book “Abandonment to Divine Providence”).

One of Hollywood’s most beautiful actresses, Marilyn Monroe, took her own life because, among other things, she believed she was losing her looks. Never, not even for a second, allow such a depressing thought to enter your mind. You can never lose your beauty when it rests in God.

Try to imitate Audrey Hepburn, the beautiful British actress, who starred in My Fair Lady. She aged gracefully, and was a humanitarian right up until her death in 1993. She offered this uplifting thought for struggling women everywhere, “The beauty of a woman is not facial, but true beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul. It is in the caring that she lovingly gives to others.”

Spirituality for Today                                                    

 August 29, 2012 

 The War on Women                                                       

 by Father John Catoir

 

      I love women, and would never be associated with any kind of war against them. However, I am at war with the outrageous lie, which claims it is morally permissible, during the birthing process, to stab little infants in the heart, as long as they still have one foot in the vagina.

      This evil idea comes straight from the bowels of hell.

      I love women, and want to save them. In fact I have recently joined an alliance of women who believe with me that the Golden Rule is a genuine expression of God’s will: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

      Our alliance is made up of Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists, Hindus, and an array of other smaller religions, all of whom have joined to condemn President Obama for supporting for partial-birth abortion.

      Those are a lot of votes.

      After he declared his support for partial birth abortion, thus implying, that the practice is not against God’s will, he went on to accuse Catholic bishops of waging a war on women, another colossal lie. Jesus came “that our joy may be full.” The Church exists to oppose everything that destroys joy.

      Millions of women in the past have had abortions, very often against their better judgment. Many felt powerless at the time to muster the strength to carry the child to birth. The Church was there to offer them forgiveness in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and urged them to trust in God’s mercy. The bishops and priests care about women more than women realize.

      President Obama took an oath to uphold everyone’s right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and yet he had the “audacity to hope” that he could get away with a political campaign of lies designed to get him elected.

      Abraham Lincoln said, “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and you can fool all of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.” Those who falsely claim that the Church is “waging war on women” are deceivers.

      I was a Democrat all my life, a bleeding heart liberal, who marched and prayed with Martin Luther King in Selma. Ministers of all faiths had gathered there to help the black community obtain the right to vote, without fear and intimidation from redneck bullies.

      Nothing would have pleased me more than to see a black man succeed as President of the United States. I voted against Senator Obama in 2008 because I realized that his political agenda of printing money to extend deficit spending would destroy Medicare for the very people who depended on it the most, namely, the poorest of the poor. Nearly all the good he did in his first four years was done with money he borrowed from China.

       I was an inner-city pastor in Paterson, NJ. It was there I discovered that the holiest people in my parish were the black grandmothers who were raising the children of their sons and daughters, who had lost their way due to alcohol and drug addiction.

      These good women were absolutely dependent on Medicare and Social Security. I knew those programs would collapse sooner rather than later if Senator Obama was elected. He was untested and had no real comprehension of the science of economics.

      Barack Obama still lacks the necessary credentials to be President of the United States of America.

 

Spirituality For Today                                                                       

The Survival of the Church                                                    

 

by Father John Catoir – 2012

 

           The Second Vatican Council defined the Church as, The Sinful People of God. However, this human weakness doesn’t shock those who can distinguish between the human and divine elements of the Church. We are all sinners. The real mystery is how the Church has managed to survive through more than 2000 years of sin, mismanagement and scandal?

            Civilizations have disintegrated over the centuries, but our wounded Church is still alive because it mysteriously renews itself daily. This is clearly a moral miracle, a phenomenon that requires a supernatural explanation.

            I wrote a book about this miracle, entitled Joy, The Gigantic Secret of The Church’s Survival, (ALBA HOUSE PUBLISHING, NY). In it, I asked my readers, ‘Why they have remained a Catholic, in spite of all the scandals in the Church?’ Their answers were interesting. 

           The Lord promised to be with us all days even until the end of time. Our intimate relationship with Our Divine Savior gives us access to the inner life of the Blessed Trinity. When we delve deeply into this mystery, millions find a life of Joy and Peace.

           Those who have ceased to believe in the Divinity of Christ have no clue about how this wonderful gift operates. In Europe, many Catholics have lost their faith in the Divinity of Christ, as a result their lives have been derailed. 

           Faithful Catholics somehow grasp the indescribable splendor of the Divine element of the Church. For them this truth towers over all of the human scandals. We don’t stay in the Church because human beings, who happen to be Catholic, commit sins of weakness. We do however, find deep contentment in the Lord, and understand the Church is a port in the storm of life. Like St. Peter, we say, “To whom shall we go Lord, You have the words of eternal life.”   

          The Church in Europe is in decline because so many have lost faith in the Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Nevertheless, the Universal Church is actually growing stronger in many parts of the world. We are the oldest, pan-national organization in human history. The Church is a unique and extraordinary force for good, notwithstanding the centuries of notorious scandals in high places and low. 

          The Church is Jesus Christ, who promised to be with us always. It is always drawing to herself an endless flow of devoted followers in search of truth, salvation and healing.

           Outsiders try to conquer the Church by dividing us, turning against one another. In today’s political climate there are brothers and sisters who are angry with one another over politics. They say to one another, “My mind is made up, don’t confuse me with the facts.” They’re all good people, but some refuse to believe that bankruptcy is possible in both the State and the Church. Survival is the essential issue.

          Both modern politics, and all the medieval baggage of the Church conspire to make the Church’s survival even more amazing. Those who do not see that this survival is a moral miracle  are blinded by controversy. They have no explanation for how to the Church has managed to retain the loyalty of so many millions of devout followers. 

          For more than 2000 years, the Church manages to carry on, giving succor and solace to millions of good and holy human beings because of Jesus Christ who said,, “Come to me Blessed of my Father, and I will give you rest.” The truth will make you free, and give you a joyful heart.