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Devotions and Supernaturalism vs. Superstition

Supernaturalism, on the other hand, is God’s grace coming to us through the natural world. In superstition we try to impose our will. In Supernaturalism we try to conform to God’s will. In superstition we do something to get our way. In supernaturalism God does something to change us to his way. This is why when we do bring our prayer requests to God we always include the prayers, “According to your will.”

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The devotions of the Church are given to us to provide the words and ways for our love of God to be expressed. They provide a method and system for our contrition, our submission to the Divine Will and a way to draw closer to Christ. They must be accompanied by true conversion of heart, genuine contrition, true devotion and an unwavering trust in God, in whom we live and move and have our Being.

—from the online article Exorcism, Superstition and the Supernatural by Fr. Dwight Longenecker

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Actual Participation in the Liturgy

Vatican II called for actual participation in the liturgy, actuosa. Not so much “active” participation, but actual in Latin. What is “active” participation? So often active participation means to get as many people on their feet or involved as possible, fabricating something that we came up with. “Active” participation means innovation. Active participation more often means, in the U.S., not following the book. The Holy Spirit anointed the Church with the Mass and yet, somehow, after the Council, so many people got the idea that they could do better!

“Actual” participation is what we want. That consists of active passivity, active receptivity to the unveiling of the mystery of Christ that is opened before us here at the altar. Active passivity, actual participation, contemplative participation — getting caught up in the mysteries, never doing something because people find it entertaining. It is not about being entertained, but getting caught up in the mystery, which only happens if what the Church wants done, is done.

…. Actual participation is the gift of the Holy Spirit.

—from Bishop Robert C. Morlino’s Homily, Promoting beauty, reverence in the liturgy, at the Chrism Mass, Tuesday, April 11, 2017

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Happiness, the Prosperity Gospel, and…

the Part at the End (which I’ve highlighted in red) That I Think Alludes to Why Only Practicing Catholics Who Are in a State of Grace Should Receive the Eucharist

It’s better to yearn for Christ without knowing that He is the one for which you yearn than to feel no yearning for Christ because you think you have Him when you don’t, or that you’re “close enough” anyway. There is only one thin wall that separates God from the atheist who desires truth but hates the Answer. There is a whole labyrinth of walls and locked doors separating God from the “Christian” who no longer desires truth because he found self-esteem and “positive thinking” instead.

Giving the Prosperity Gospel to our culture is like giving diet pills to a starving man. Yes, he will no longer feel the pangs in his gut, but he is still dying all the same. And dying faster now, in fact. We should eat the Bread of Life or not eat at all, and that should be our message to the world.

—from a blog post by Matt Walsh

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The Authentic Work of God in Your Life

—from the blog post 4 Thoughts About Medjugorje and the Authentic Work of God by Dan Burke

As I was making my way to the Catholic Church, I was deeply blessed by an encounter with a 17th century priest who taught me, through his writings, how to overcome aridity in prayer. This was a significant breakthrough for me and brought me tremendous relief. I developed an instant affinity to this priest and looked for other writings of his that might help me. By God’s grace, I didn’t find anything else about him until I became Catholic and discovered that his teachings were condemned by the Church.

The central lesson of this encounter was that God works through people and situations both because of them and in spite of them. In this case, once I received official word about the Church’s ruling on his writings, I set them aside. It is very important to note that I didn’t set aside the truth and the blessings that I received in this case. What I recognized, though, was that the gifts I received were from God, not from this errant priest.

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With regard to those who have been changed in and by the events happening at Medjugorje, or even an approved apparition, I would strongly encourage you to attach yourself to the work of God, not to the apparition itself. If, through your engagement with Medjugorje, you have drawn near to God, then you need not have any doubt that He has drawn near to you. If you take this approach, no matter what decision the Church makes, your faith will rest on the authentic work of God in your life.

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To Be Holy, Not Just Comfortable

It’s not the church’s job to make us comfortable… Its job is to help to make us holy.

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It’s true that the church should be like the father in Christ’s parable, running to greet the son who’d squandered his inheritance on booze and prostitutes, eager to embrace and forgive him. But note how the father didn’t go out, find his son at the brothel, and say, “Son, why don’t you come and fornicate and get drunk at home? No need to change your lifestyle at all. Just come home and do whatever you want. Don’t let me cramp your style, son. Here, need some more money?”

That’s because the rebellious young man had to abandon his sin, seek forgiveness, and surrender to the will of his father. Notice that when he came home he said, “I have sinned against you and against heaven. I am not worthy to be called your son.”

—from a blog post by Matt Walsh

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Blessed Are the Meek

Europeans have embraced the culture of death, contracepting themselves out of existence…. A culture which seeks self-gratification instead of the self-sacrifice needed to raise children is doomed to self-destruction. It has no future. It has no future for the plain and simple reason that it has no children. In this sense, it can truly be said that the future belongs to those who forsake selfishness for the selflessness of parenthood. The meek really do inherit the earth!

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The future looks grim for those who have cast their lot with the Grim Reaper, but for those who follow the God who conquered death there is always the promise of the resurrection. The “West” might be “lost forever,” but the light in the East is always rising.

—from the online article Is the West Lost Forever? by Joseph Pearce

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The Slide from Faith to Secularism

He [comedian Louis C.K.] recalled a moment driving his car when a Bruce Springsteen song came on the radio. It triggered a sudden, unexpected surge of sadness. He instinctively went to pick up his phone and text as many friends as possible. Then he changed his mind, left his phone where it was, and pulled over to the side of the road to weep. He allowed himself for once to be alone with his feelings, to be overwhelmed by them, to experience them with no instant distraction, no digital assist. And then he was able to discover, in a manner now remote from most of us, the relief of crawling out of the hole of misery by himself. For if there is no dark night of the soul anymore that isn’t lit with the flicker of the screen, then there is no morning of hopefulness either. As he said of the distracted modern world we now live in: “You never feel completely sad or completely happy, you just feel … kinda satisfied with your products. And then you die. So that’s why I don’t want to get a phone for my kids.”

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In his survey of how the modern West lost widespread religious practice, A Secular Age, the philosopher Charles Taylor used a term to describe the way we think of our societies. He called it a “social imaginary” — a set of interlocking beliefs and practices that can undermine or subtly marginalize other kinds of belief. We didn’t go from faith to secularism in one fell swoop, he argues. Certain ideas and practices made others not so much false as less vibrant or relevant. And so modernity slowly weakened spirituality, by design and accident, in favor of commerce; it downplayed silence and mere being in favor of noise and constant action. The reason we live in a culture increasingly without faith is not because science has somehow disproved the unprovable, but because the white noise of secularism has removed the very stillness in which it might endure or be reborn.

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The smartphone revolution of the past decade can be seen in some ways simply as the final twist of this ratchet, in which those few remaining redoubts of quiet — the tiny cracks of inactivity in our lives — are being methodically filled with more stimulus and noise.

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And I realize that this is, in some ways, just another tale in the vast book of human frailty. But this new epidemic of distraction is our civilization’s specific weakness. And its threat is not so much to our minds, even as they shape-shift under the pressure. The threat is to our souls. At this rate, if the noise does not relent, we might even forget we have any.

—from the on-line article I Used to Be a Human Being by Andrew Sullivan