Posts by popemichael

A Hedge

Posted by on Dec 13, 2018 in Catholic Action, Pope Michael, Sanctification | 0 comments

Dear friends,
Father Francis Dominic wrote another very good devotion, which we should all take to heart. We will follow with Our own thoughts in a few days:
The Lord says, “And I sought among them for a man that might set up a hedge, and stand in the gap before me in favour of the land, that I might not destroy it: and I found none.” (Ezekiel 22:30).
God is looking for men and women today, who will stand in the gap for the Church – selfless people, who are not taken up with just their own needs, but who are concerned about God’s work.
Many believers think that sanctification means just the refinement of their personal conduct and behaviour. But true sanctification makes a person selfless like God – or in other words, like Jesus.
No-one really knew what God was like until Jesus came to earth, and explained Him (John.1:18). And what do we learn of the nature of God, when we look at Jesus? We see that the Divine nature is one that is willing to give up everything, and to be inconvenienced to any extent, if as a result, sinners can be saved from their sin and brought back to God.
Jesus did not come down from heaven because He wanted to gain something for Himself. No. He came to earth totally for the benefit of others. He lived for others. He fasted and prayed and gave Himself – all so that others might partake of God’s salvation. It is this spirit that is so rare to find even among the leaders in the church today. Although many speak of partaking of God’s nature, very few actually partake of this selfless love for others.
Many are willing to deny themselves and take up the cross if that will bring them some benefit – perhaps some spiritual benefit such as a place in the Bride of Christ, but still something for themselves. But if we were to ask ourselves, “what have we denied ourselves purely for the benefit of others,?” we may discover that the answer is, ‘Almost nothing’.
There are many in our midst who despise the ideal of their child giving their life totally to Christ and His Church as a Nun, Monk, or Priest. But before you criticise them, it may be good to ask yourself whether YOU would be willing to resign your job in order to become a missionary in a rural area of the world. It is easy to despise others who don’t have as much light as we have. But despite all the light that we have received, we may still be loving our comforts and unwilling to give up anything costly for the Lord.
Jesus gave up His place in heaven in order to come and live on this earth for 33-1/2 years, without any of the comforts of modern civilization – only so that others might hear the gospel and be saved. He also resigned His job as a carpenter, so that He might devote all His time fully to the vocation of proclaiming the gospel to others.
It is this Spirit of Christ that has urged missionaries through the years, to suffer hardship and loss, so as to take the gospel to heathen lands, where the Name of Jesus had never been heard, to bring others to Christ. Those on the other hand, who travel and stay in 5-star comfort these days, and preach the gospel, are all tourists, by comparison.
It is good for us to read the biographies of saintly missionaries like Adrian of Dalmatia, or St. Pauls fellow worker Saint Urban who gave up everything for the Lord, so that we too can be challenged by their sacrifice and their devotion to the Lord. A holiness that does not lead to a sacrificial life is a deception – for true holiness is not just being free from sin, but being free from Self-love too.
The fire of God does not fall on many today, because they have not placed everything on the altar. They are willing to give up everything for the Lord, except their jobs and their comforts. If anything on this earth is still valuable and precious to you, then you are not a disciple of Jesus.
+Michael pp

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A Wall of Fire

Posted by on Dec 10, 2018 in Catholic Action, Pope Michael, Sanctification | 0 comments

Dear friends in Christ,

Father Francis Dominic wrote the other day:

In Zechariah 2:1-13 the prophet “lifted up his eyes, and saw, and behold a man, with a measuring line in his hand. And he said: Whither goest thou? and he said to me: To measure Jerusalem, and to see how great is the breadth thereof, and how great the length thereof.” (vs 1-2)

This vision symbolizes man determining the strength of the Church by the number of its members. But the Body of Christ in reality, has only one membership list – the Book of Life. And the Lord teaches us here how to really measure the Church.

Another angel comes and tells Zechariah, “And behold the angel that spoke in me went forth, and another angel went out to meet him. And he said to him: Run, speak to this young man, saying: Jerusalem shall be inhabited without walls, by reason of the multitude of men, and of the beasts in the midst thereof.” (3-4) This was a smaller group of people without a wall,(other translations say towns, villages without a wall) and they were thinking, “Who will come and join this despised group of ours? The other Jews are all living so comfortably in the North, in Babylon. But here we are, a small, despised group trying to build God’s temple. Who is interested in what we are doing?”

The angel came to encourage them and said, “Don’t worry. People from here and there will hear about you and will come and join you one day. Today you may be small. All of God’s work starts very small. But if God can find leaders who will stay true and not compromise His principles, then even if they are small, one day from north, south, east and west those who have a hunger for godliness and reality, will gradually hear of your group, and come and join you because they will recognize that God is in your midst and that you have life.” (read vss 6-11)

The Lord then told them, “I will be to [Jerusalem-the Church], saith the Lord, a wall of fire round about: and I will be in glory in the midst thereof.” (Zechariah 2:5). Everyone has to come through that wall of fire if he is to become a part of the True Church. That fire will burn up all his earthly ambitions and his desire to live for himself. Only then can he become a part of the Body of Christ. Those in the True Church have been baptized, they have been confirmed, they are doing all the right things outwardly, but if they have not walked through that wall of fire and allow it to purge out Self. They would lose their life. “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For he that will save his life, shall lose it: and he that shall lose his life for my sake, shall find it.” (Matthew 16:24-25)

Picture a city surrounded by a wall of fire. How can you enter that city? Only by going through the wall of fire. Everything that can be burnt will be burnt up by God as you enter through that wall. Only what cannot be burnt will go through the fire. “Our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:29). “Which of you can dwell with devouring [consuming] fire?” (Isaiah 33:14).

And then God goes on to say, “I will be the glory in the midst thereof.” (vs 5) If we want the glory of God to be in the Church, then we must allow Him to be a wall of fire around the Church. The two go together. If you say that God’s standards are too high and you throw water on the fire, then God’s glory will not be in the Church either. When the wall of fire goes away, the glory goes away too. The most important thing in a Parish is not how traditional it is but have its members gone through the wall of fire. Do they have the glory of God. Among them. If those two things are there, right doctrine and right Tradition will follow. If those two things are not there, mere Doctrine and Tradition alone are useless.

We would like to add some of Our own thoughts. Three and a half decades ago, We realized God had brought Us through a wall of fire. We were tested and with His help passed the test. Then We began considering this fact and realized, that if a person does not go through this trial, he is not truly a sincere member of Jesus Christ’s Church.

This Advent is a good time for you to ask God to bring you through this wall of fire, because very few of you have come through this wall of fire. Basically, we have two choices, come through the wall of fire, or go to eternal fire at the end of our life. Going through this wall of fire may be painful, but “Amen, amen I say to you, that you shall lament and weep, but the world shall rejoice; and you shall be made sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy.” (John 16:20)

There are several of us waiting here on Christ’s side of this wall to welcome you, and to help you as you come home through the wall of fire.

Oremus,

+Michael pp

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Unity

Posted by on Dec 3, 2018 in Catholic Action, Pope Michael | 0 comments

Dear friends,

As We were completing a sermon on next Sunday’s Epistles (Romans 15:4-13), We read the following story about Saint John Vianney: “A Protestant once approached St. John Vianney saying, ‘though we are not together on earth, we shall be together in heaven’. The saint looked into the man’s eyes and said gently: “As the tree leans, so the tree falls. If we do not live together on earth, we shall not live together in heaven. Death makes no change in that”. The Protestant upon hearing these gentle words of the saint considered them, renounced his error, and became a Catholic.” We also should be together on earth, if we hope to be together in heaven. Let us go to the Epistle for a moment: Now the God of patience and of comfort grant you to be of one mind, one towards another, according to Jesus Christ: 6 That with one mind and with one mouth you may glorify God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 15:4-5)

We should be of one mind. Saint Paul says: “But we have the mind of Christ.” (I Corinthians 2:16) Do we have the mind of Christ? Are we obedient to His will and follow His teachings?

The Catechism of the Council of Trent teaches us: “The Church has but one ruler and one governor, the invisible one, Christ, whom the eternal Father hath made head over all the Church, which is his body; the visible one, the Pope, who, as legitimate successor of Peter, the Prince of the Apostles, fills the Apostolic chair.

It is the unanimous teaching of the Fathers that this visible head is necessary to establish and preserve unity in the Church. This St. Jerome clearly perceived and as clearly expressed when, in his work against Jovinian, he wrote: One is elected that, by the appointment of a head, all occasion of schism may be removed. In his letter to Pope Damasus the same holy Doctor writes: Away with envy, let the ambition of Roman grandeur cease! I speak to the successor of the fisherman, and to the disciple of the cross. Following no chief but Christ, I am united in communion with your Holiness, that is, with the chair of Peter. I know that on that rock is built the Church. Whoever will eat the lamb outside this house is profane; whoever is not in the ark of Noah shall perish in the flood.”

When the Fathers of the Church are in unanimous agreement on a point, the Church considers their opinion to actually be infallibly true teaching.

We are this visible head. Pope Boniface VIII teaches in the Bull Unam Sanctam: “It is absolutely necessary for salvation to be subject to the Roman Pontiff.” The Roman Pontiff is also called the Pope and is the visible head of the Church. Just as the Pope should be of one mind with Jesus Christ the Church should be of one mind with the Pope. Father Francis Dominic has written on the necessity and beauty of authority.

We have heard Father speak on Matthew 8:9: “For I also am a man subject to authority, having under me soldiers; and I say to this, Go, and he goeth, and to another, Come, and he cometh, and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.” He explains that Jesus is also under authority, the authority of the Father. We are all somewhere in the chain of command, and should discharge our duty where God has placed us. And so let us work together in the order God has established for us through Jesus Christ in the Church.

+Michael pp

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Finding the Will of God Part 5

Posted by on Nov 19, 2018 in Pope Michael, Sanctification | 0 comments

Divine guidance cannot be considered by itself apart from our personal relationship with God. Many desire the gifts but not the Giver. If we long for guidance but do not thirst for God Himself, we shall not obtain the guidance we seek.

A person must be in fellowship with God in order to experience His guidance in his life. This implies, first of all, that he should have come into a vital relationship with Christ through the new birth. But this alone is not enough. There are certain other essential conditions to be fulfilled if we are to know God’s leading. These prerequisites are mentioned in two passages of Scripture, one in the Old Testament and the other in the New (Proverbs 3:5- 6; Romans 12:1–2). Let us consider these scriptures in detail. In Part 1-4 we discussed

4 prerequisites.

1. FAITH 2. SELF-DISTRUST

3. OBEDIENCE IN EVERY AREA

4. UNCONDITIONAL YIELDEDNESS

Our last prerequisite is:

5. A RENEWED MIND

And be not conformed to this world; but be [be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind], that you may prove what is the good, and the acceptable, and the perfect will of God. (Romans 12:2).

Worldliness plugs our spirit’s ears preventing us from hearing God’s voice. Every person living in this world is affected by its spirit. No one has escaped its influence. From our childhood every one of us imbibes, day by day, either more or less of the spirit of this world into himself – by what we hear, see and read. This especially affects our minds and influences our thinking. The decisions we take then come primarily from worldly considerations.

The Spirit of God Who comes to live in us, when we are “born again” is opposed to the spirit of this world and therefore desires to renew our thinking completely. God’s ultimate purpose for us is that we might be conformed to the image of His Son.

This is the primary part of His will for all of us. Everything else – whom we should marry, where we should live and work – is secondary. All of God’s dealings with us are directed towards this end – that we might become like Jesus (see Romans 8:28-29). But this can be fulfilled in us only as we allow the Holy Ghost to renew our minds daily. The more our minds are in this way renewed, the more accurately shall we be able to discern the will of God at life’s crossroads.

Worldliness is not basically something external – such as movies, computers, television, wearing expensive and fashionable clothes and ornaments, or living extravagantly. These may denote a worldly person, but they are only outward expressions of his worldly thought-processes. Conformity to the world exists essentially in a person’s mind and shows itself in various ways, especially in his decisions. For example, when considering a job or a career, a worldly person will be governed by factors such as salary, promotion-prospects, comfort, ease, convenience, etc. And when contemplating marriage, he will be influenced by points such as family-status, position in life, physical beauty, or wealth.

A believer’s decisions, on the other hand, should be governed primarily by spiritual factors, although other considerations should not be neglected. The glory of God’s Name and the extension of His Kingdom should be our first concern. This is why the Lord taught us first to pray, “Hallowed be Thy Name, Thy Kingdom come”, and only then, “Thy will be done”.

The process of discerning and eliminating worldly motives is vital if we are to know the will of God. To say, “God led me”, when our motives were selfish, is blasphemy. Far better in such cases to say the decision was our own than to take God’s Name in vain and give a cloak of spirituality to our worldliness. We gain nothing by merely convincing others (or even ourselves) that we are doing God’s will. After all, God cannot be fooled. As the Bible says,

All the ways of a man are open to his eyes: the Lord is the weigher of spirits…..Every way of a man seemeth right to himself: but the Lord weigheth the hearts. (Proverbs 16:2; 21:2).

The renewal of our minds will result in our beginning to think as the Lord thinks and to view situations and people as He views them. Paul’s mind was so renewed that he could dare to say that he had the mind of Christ and that he no longer looked at people from a merely human point of view (1 Corinthians 2:16; 2 Corinthians 5:16). His prayer for the Colossian believers was that they too might be thus transformed.

Therefore we also, from the day that we heard it, cease not to pray for you, and to beg that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will, in all wisdom, and spiritual understanding: (Colossians 1:9).

Such a transformation of our minds will enable us to know what pleases God and what does not please Him, and thus we shall be able to discern His will easily in the different situations we face. God’s promise to us in this New Testament age is, “This is the new agreement (testament) …. I will give my laws into their mind, and in their heart will I write them ….I will give my laws into their mind, and in their heart will I write them .” (Hebrews 8:10; 10:16).

Such a renewal will give us an understanding not only of God’s will, but also of His method and of His purpose – we will know, not only what God wants us to do, but also how He wants us to do it, and why. Doing the will of God can be drudgery if we do not appreciate God’s purposes. When we do appreciate them, the will of God becomes for us what it was to Jesus – a delight. It is because of our ignorance of God’s nature that we fear His will. If we knew Him better, we would rejoice to do His every bidding.

How can our minds be renewed? A wife living close to her husband in heart-companionship comes to know more and more of his mind and of his ways as the years go by. The same applies to the believer and his God. The new birth is like a marriage with the Lord Jesus. We should go on from that point to walk in close fellowship with the Lord, conversing with Him day by day.

We must also let Him speak to our hearts daily, both through His Word as well as through the discipline of trials that He sends into our lives. Thus we shall find ourselves growingly conformed to the image of our Lord (2 Corinthians 3:18). If we neglect daily meditation on God’s Word and prayer-fellowship with the Lord, we will find it extremely difficult to understand God’s mind. Meditation on God’s Word can straighten our warped and crooked ways of thinking and make us spiritually minded and sensitive to God’s Voice.

We can recognize the Lord’s voice only by becoming accustomed to hearing it. A new convert once asked a Priest why it was that though Christ had said, “My sheep know My voice”, yet he could not hear the Lord’s voice. The Priest replied,

“Yes, it is true that His sheep know His voice, but it is also true that the lambs have to learn it.”

A son identifies his father’s voice easily only because he has heard it so often. Even so, it is only by constantly listening to the voice of the Lord, that we will be able to distinguish it above the din and clamor of other voices that will ring in our minds when we seek God’s will. If you are habituated to listening to the Lord’s voice, then in times of emergency, His promise is, “And thy ears shall hear the word of one admonishing thee behind thy back: This is the way, walk ye in it: and go not aside neither to the right hand, nor to the left.” (Isaiah 30:21).

If, on the other hand, we turn to the Lord only in times of emergency, we are not likely to hear His voice at all. Some of God’s children are so busy that they have no time to listen to the Lord in their daily lives and yet in times of crisis they want to know His will immediately.

Daily fellowship with God in meditation and in prayer is vital, if we wish to have God’s guidance in our lives.

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The Majority Is Always Wrong

Posted by on Nov 15, 2018 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

In Numbers, chapter 13, we find that the Israelites came to Kadesh Barnea at the border of Canaan – the land that God had promised them. It was now two years since they left Egypt (Deuteronomy 2:14) and God told them to go in and posses the land. The Israelites sent twelve spies to survey the land. All twelve of them came back saying that the land was indeed a wonderful land. Ten of them however said, “But there are huge giants there and we cannot conquer them.” But two of them – Caleb and Joshua – replied saying, “The Lord will help us to conquer those big giants”. But the 600,000 Israelites listened to the majority.

What do we learn from this? First of all, that it is dangerous to follow the majority – because the majority is invariably wrong. “The way to life is narrow and very few find it,” Jesus said. The majority still go on the broad way to destruction. So if you follow the majority you may find yourself with them on the broad way to destruction. Don’t ever imagine that a large Parish is necessarily a sign of a spiritual Parish.

When ten leaders say one thing and two say the exact opposite, whose side will you take? God was on the side of the two here – Joshua and Caleb. Unbelief and Satan were on the side of the other ten. But the Israelites foolishly followed the majority – and that was why they had to wander in the wilderness for the next 38 years. They did not have the discernment to see whose side God was on! God and one person are always a majority – and that is where I want to stand always. We find in Exodus 32 that God is on the side of just one man Moses, when all the Israelites were worshipping the golden calf. But of all the twelve tribes, only the tribe of Levi could see that then. And now when God was with Joshua and Caleb, even the tribe of Levi could not recognize it!

All of this has lessons for us today. Catholicism in general is full of compromise and worldliness. Here and there, God raises up a few who stand for the truth of God’s word without any compromise. If you have discernment you will recognize that God is with those few, and you will stand with them against the majority. You will enter the promise land with them.

How do you identify the man with whom God is standing? He speaks the language of faith. Joshua and Caleb spoke the language of faith: “We can overcome.” We can overcome the giants of anger, sexual lust, jealousy, murmuring etc., we can overcome Satan. God will crush him under our feet. That is the language of the man with whom God stands. The man who is not with God says: “We must not take the Bible so literally, We must understand that the Apostles lived in a different time and did not understand things the way we do now.” “We have evolved since then.” What once was sin, those with in the Church are saying that it is not a sin anymore.

Many Christians go astray exactly like those Israelites- through human reasoning. God has hidden these things from the clever and the intelligent and revealed them to babes. If you use your human reasoning and your cleverness and your intelligence to study theology, I can guarantee that you will go astray. You need the revelation of the Holy Ghost. That’s why Jesus picked fishermen to be His disciples, and not professors like Gamaliel and his students. He did pick one of the students later – St. Paul. But the Lord had to take him into the desert for three years to bring all his pride to nothing before Paul could get revelation.

God was so angry with those Israelites who doubted His power that He told them “But yet all the men that have seen my majesty, and the signs that I have done in Egypt, and in the wilderness, and have tempted me now ten times, and have not obeyed my voice, Shall not see the land for which I [swore to give] to their fathers, neither shall any one of them that hath [provoked and despised] me behold it.” (Numbers 14:22). “Ten times” was not an exaggeration. They had actually rebelled ten times. God gave them nine chances. They took advantage of His forgiveness – just like many Christians do today – not realizing that the ninth chance was their last. God’s patience had run out and they were punished when the rebelled the tenth time. There was no way to go back then. They repented when they heard their punishment and asked for one more chance. But it was too late (Numbers 14:39-45). Many will also find one day that repentance also has a limit.

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