Enter Through the Narrow Gate

July 14, 2007

I don’t think I’ve ever heard this, have you?  Here’s what I mean …

I was reading scripture today and I came across a certain passage in the Gospel of John which describes many of Jesus’ disciples response to his challenging Bread of Life Discourse (John 6:26-71).  Here is the response: “From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.” Did you know the chapter and verse for that line?  It is John 6:66.  Ouch!

Why do I even mention this?  Well, recently we have been faced with some challenging teachings.  Namely, what some are referring to as our Holy Father’s one, two punch:  1) On June 29, the Vatican released a document entitled, “Responses to Some Questions Regarding Certain Aspects of the Doctrine on the Church,” and 2) the Holy Father’s July 7 Motu Proprio letter, “Summorum Pontificum.”

These are the days in which our faith is challenged and our choices are clear, and so is Christ’s exhortation: “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it” (Matt 7:13).

We know the wide gate the secular news media has been trying to coax us through for years now.  As the faithful remnant — the anawim — we must resist the temptation of following the crowd who, in this instance, with the barest cursory reading of these documents, if they read them at all, will formulate their discernment based on dribs and drabs coming from the AP wire or Reuters.

Many of us have been reflecting upon Pope John Paul the Great’s encouragement to Cast Out to the Deep (Duc in Altum).  We’ve come to understand that wide is the gate and broad is the road for so many of us who get caught up in our busy lives, give a glance at a news report and draw all of our conclusions from such a suface level, superficial study.  These are the times we are asked to dig a little deeper and learn what is beneath the predictable hostility of the secular news media.

It’s understood that the few who remained with Jesus after his challenging discourse (referenced above) did not completely understand.  But that “faithful remnant,” knowing they did not have all the answers, stood by our Lord and patiently awaited the unfolding of this amazing truth.  Here, again, is evidence of the precious humility of the anawim.

I encourage you to, please, do your own study on these important documents, beginning with reading them.  Beyond this, I would like to recommend a couple of excellent teachings rolling around the blogosphere that are helping many come to a deeper understanding.

The first, entitled, “No, I’m not offended,” actually comes from an Evangelical Pastor in response to the above mentioned, June 29 document.  The second comes from one of the great minds in our Church today, Richard John Neuhaus, and his take on the Holy Father’s Motu Proprio letter, Summorum Pontificum, entitled, “The Pope’s Liturgical Liberalism.”

Remember, precious anawim:  “In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”  –George Orwell


Bishop Morlino: “Be Serene”

July 10, 2007

Monday night I had the great pleasure of gathering with some of my brother priests and our MANY seminarians for dinner as we inaugurated this year’s “Summer Seminarian Gathering Week” with Bishop Morlino.  Please pray for our sems this week.

As the evening came to its conclusion, we were treated to another one of Bishop Morlino’s amazing talks.  As he drew upon our Holy Father’s recent comments, this Sunday’s Gospel and the topic of “forgiveness,” which was the theme for the sems’ Summer gathering, Bishop Morlino offered us a spiritual cocktail for conversion.

Bishop pointed out that a person of forgiveness is a person who is serene.  It was our Holy Father, in his recent heroic efforts to unite our Catholics in China, who “praised those Catholics who resisted pressure to join the official church and paid a price for it ‘with the shedding of their blood.’ But he urged them to forgive and reconcile with others for the sake of unifying the church.  ‘Indeed, the purification of memory, the pardoning of wrongdoers, the forgetting of injustices suffered and the loving restoration to serenity of troubled hearts … can require moving beyond personal positions or viewpoints, born of painful or difficult experiences,’ he wrote.”

This gentle pope of ours continues to inspire us, by his example and teaching, to be that precious anawim with such beautiful words as, “The loving restoration to serenity of troubled hearts.” Isn’t that the goal in all relationships?

Even more, it is this “serene heart” — the heart of Mary’s Anawim — that Christ asks us to present to the world, as we heard in this Sunday’s Gospel“Behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves,” and then calling us to bless with peace upon all first encounters: “Into whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this household'” (Luke 10:3,5).

As courageous and firm are Pope Benedict XVI and Bishop Robert Morlino in bringing the truth to a waiting world, their serenity of heart is profoundly evident.  Like Christ, they will not ask us to do anything they would not do first.  These courageous leaders are going out like lambs among wolves and they are inspiring the precious anawim to follow.

Mary said, “He has cast down the mighty from their thrones, and has lifted up the lowly” (Hebrew: anawim).  May God continue to bless these courageous and serene spiritual shepherds who are joining, with our Lord, to lift up the lowly (anawim).

What are some of your thoughts about Pope Benedict XVI? About Bishop Morlino? And/or about our call to live as Mary’s Anawim?

Welcome, Mary’s Anawim!

July 7, 2007

A very warm welcome to all of you who are looking for a place to go that is wrapped in the warmth of good, old fashioned, Abraham-like hospitality.

This blog is for all of the precious anawim who truly love being Catholic … I mean, the entire treasury of our faith.  Therefore, in the spirit of hospitality, this blog will be a safe haven of only positive posts and comments about our faith, our Catholic Church, and our heroic spiritual shepherds. 

I want to begin by noting that this is the first time I have put together a blog, and I am very excited.  Especially as this first post comes on July 7, 2007 (07-07-07).  I’m not sure what that means, but I trust God will let me know in His time.

Also, I just concluded a very special Marian novena that has prepared us for this new beginning.  This novena has loosed many new opportunities, and I highly recommend it for all.  It is called, “Mary, Undoer of Knots,” and was inspired by St. Irenaeus’ (Bishop, 202 a.d.) meditation on Mary: “Eve, by her disobedience, tied the knot of disgrace for the human race; to the contrary, Mary, by her obedience, undid it.”

It is that obedience that is at the heart of describing what it means to be one of “Mary’s Anawim.”  Anawim (pronounced ann-a-weem) is a Hebrew word from the Old Testament which describes the “poor ones” who remained faithful to God in times of difficulty.  It is the Anawim, “the lost and forgotten ones,” to whom Jesus refers in his beautiful beatitudes on the Sermon on the Mount: “Blesssed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven” and “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” (Matt 5:3,5). 

The great Marian canticle (Luke 1:46-50) “reveals in filigree,” as Pope Benedict XVI so beautifully teaches, “the spirituality of the biblical ‘anawim,’ that is, of those faithful who not only recognize themselves as ‘poor’ in the detachment from all idolatry of riches and power, but also in the profound humility of a heart emptied of the temptation to pride and open to the bursting in of the divine saving grace.”

“The bursting in of the divine saving grace” … aaahhh … isn’t that what we want in our lives?  Mary’s Anawim are those who have come to understand that there is only one true way to open ourselves to that “bursting in,” and that is to offer our loving hearts, burning H.O.T. for the Lord … hearts of Humility, Obedience and Trust. 

In Pope John Paul II’s inspiring reflection on Psalm 149, he draws attention to the anawim in this way: “The ‘day of the Lord’s wrath’ is really the day described in the second part of the Psalm when the ‘poor’ are lined up on the side of God to fight against evil. By themselves they do not have sufficient strength or the arms or the necessary strategies to oppose the onslaught of evil. Yet the Psalmist does not admit hesitation: ‘The Lord loves his people, he adorns the lowly (anawim) with victory’ (v. 4). What St Paul says to the Corinthians completes the picture: ‘God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are’ (I Cor 1,28).”

How, as Mary’s Anawim, do we contribute to building the kingdom of God here on earth?  How do we fight against the mounting evil in our world?  By trusting prayer and unreserved love for all. 

That is the hope of this blog … that it be a place where we can all reflect on the countless ways in which God is responding to the prayers of the humble and the hearts of the lowly — Mary’s Anawim.