Posts By: Fr. Alfonse
Jn 17: 11B-19 The Lord of the World and the Lord of Heaven
Wednesday of the Seventh Week of Easter
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By Benedict Augustine
I do not ask that you take them out of the world
but that you keep them from the Evil One.
They do not belong to the world
any more than I belong to the world.
If I were making a religion, I would…” so says the worldly man. He lists many different desirable qualities to improve society as we know it. His religion would be more tolerant, more enlightened, more progressive, more exciting, more empowering, or more flexible. He and many others have come to the conclusion that some clever shamans in the ancient world invented religion to perpetuate their own superiority. They came up with a story, attached some rules to it, and made sure to pass it on to posterity. Not for a moment does the worldly man even wonder if any of these religions may be true.
In his novel, Lord of the World, Fr. Robert Benson depicts a future world not so far off from today. The people of that world believe in the spirit of man, the possible unity of the world, a heaven on earth. They disregard Christianity as so much myth while they greedily swallow the myth of progress. None of this is reached rationally, but simply results from the overwhelmingly materialistic atmosphere. Any defense that these “humanists” may have had against the forces evil has gone away. They have no faith and no reason; they follow the demagogues, the spectacles, and their own animalistic impulses.
As the anti-Christ, the Lord of the World, comes into power, he finds the work of harvesting souls already half-way done. He revels in the culture of death that solves problems by eliminating them – curiously, the doctors more often euthanize than cure those in pain. In this sordid setting, his mere words and presence take possession of his listeners who succumb to his power. They belong to the world, and the world belongs to him. Only the small cadre of Catholics withstands this man’s power by clinging to their faith in Christ.
Unfortunately, as more unwitting people align with the anti-Christ, the less safe it becomes for the remaining Catholics. Benson’s scenes of Christian persecution resonate prophetically for 21st century readers witnessing the crucifixion and torture of Christians today. He describes the pressure of the mob, the absence of conscience, the lustful gratification of hate. They commit abominations for a false god; they do not experience the freedom of faith, but the slavery of spiritual absence.
As in the novel, a Catholic in today’s world must counteract these pressures with the truth. His religion must come from God, not from man. How can one tell? If man made a religion, it would resemble the religion that takes hold of the people in Benson’s novel. It would glorify man, escape reality, and resort to violence to establish supremacy. The pagan religions did this; secular religions (like communism and fascism) still do this; Islam and Hinduism continue to do this. While many liberal-minded believers might try, Catholics cannot overturn the truth of their faith. Jesus’ resurrection happened, this is historical fact. The disciples of the early Church was willing to suffer martyrdom by the thousands, another fact. Catholics cannot overturn truth of Christ’s teachings, the power of the Holy Spirit, and the reality of Heaven without losing themselves. Those who reside outside of Truth, outside of Christ, expose themselves to the temptations of cruelty, slavery, and delusion—observations made by Hillaire Belloc when discussing the Modernist heresy of the early 20thcentury.
In a word, a soul lost to Christ will find himself with the Devil, the Lord of the World. Thus, Jesus prays with His disciples that they may be one and kept from the Evil One. Paul shares the same fears with the disciples of Ephesus. The Lord of the World lurks in and out of the Church always. All Catholics, both then and now, must look to the Lord of Heaven to keep them safe. Their faith will be tested.
Jn 16:23b-28 All You Have to Do is Ask
Saturday of the Sixth Week of Easter

By JENNIFER BURGIN

Jesus said to his disciples: “Amen, amen, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you. Until now you have not asked anything in my name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete. “I have told you this in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures but I will tell you clearly about the Father.”
Have you ever asked for a favor and the person never followed through?  On the flip side:  Has someone ever requested a favor from you and you blew it off like no big deal?
At the end of my sophomore year of college, we were in the process of vacating our dorm rooms.  I needed help removing a heavy carpet rug from underneath my bed, so I pre-arranged for my boyfriend to come by one evening. When he failed to show up, I called him.  I remember his rudeness and irritability as he yelled: “Jennifer, you’re just going to have to find someone else to move that carpet!  I’m too tired and don’t have the time!”  I slammed down the phone in anger and disgust. Since he refuses to help, I’m no longer his girlfriend! He can go where the sun don’t shine!  
How was I going to move the bed and the ugly pink carpet?  (I cursed my roommate for leaving me stuck with her trash.)  In desperation, I called one of my girlfriends.  She agreed to come over very late that evening, and she removed the rug with all of her brawn and sweat.  I was grateful for her assistance but evidently the “favor” was too burdensome.  She never spoke to me again!  I wrote her letters that summer and even enclosed a small gift of thanks.  No response. To this day, I wonder if she’d remain a friend if I asked someone else to move the carpet? 
Ask and you will receive…..   In Adoration this week, I pondered these words further.   The Lord doesn’t grant our wishes like a Genie in a bottle. Sometimes we ask and the Lord tells us, “Nope! That’s not for you! You are not ready for this yet.”  Maybe what we ask for is bad for our bodies. Maybe what we beg for is dangerous to our souls. Maybe what we cry out for will lead us away from grace. Our Lord desires our joy to be complete in Him and through Him. He wants to see our smiling faces in heaven someday! In the meantime, we should let go of our egos, hangups, pride, and selfishness.
The Holy Spirit whispers in our ears three simple words: patience, trust, hope.  Be patient, trust in God’s will and remain hopeful!
Unanswered questions We ask God many questions. Why do good people die too soon? Why so much poverty and starvation in the world? Why so much hate, corruption, and persecution in our global society?  We wait to receive an answer; however, we hear silence. We don’t understand God’s plan, and we definitely don’t know how Christ will judge us at the end of time. Despite the unanswered questions, we keep moving forward.  Hopefully we are enjoying life to the fullest, praising God for our blessings even if we are unclear of how the past, present and future will work out.
All you have to do is ask…  Sounds simple enough, right?  We don’t have to worry about Our Lord playing a game of fickleness like people we know.  He remains constant, pouring out his unconditional love!   We ask for forgiveness, he gives us mercy.  When we ask for favor, he gives us grace.  Remember there is a clear distinction between asking for material goods versus asking for spiritual goods.  If it helps us grow in our faith, the Lord will provide.

Let the water flow beneath the bridge; let men be men, that is to say, weak, vain, inconstant, unjust, false, and presumptuous; let the world be the world still; you cannot prevent it. Let every one follow his own inclination and habits; you cannot recast them, and the best course is, to let them be as they are and bear with them. Do not think it strange when you witness unreasonableness and injustice; rest in peace in the bosom of God; He sees it all more clearly than you do, and yet permits it.” 
-Francois Fenelon
This meditation was written by Jennifer Burgin, a Lay Dominican.  Please visit her blog:  Jennifer’s Spectrum of Spirituality

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