Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 531: Clean out the Pop Clutter: Reflection on Deuteronomy 4:1,5-8
Moses spoke to the people and said:
“Now, Israel, hear the statutes and decrees
which I am teaching you to observe,
that you may live, and may enter in and take possession of the land
which the LORD, the God of your fathers, is giving you.
Therefore, I teach you the statutes and decrees
as the LORD, my God, has commanded me,
that you may observe them in the land you are entering to occupy.
Observe them carefully,
for thus will you give evidence
of your wisdom and intelligence to the nations,
who will hear of all these statutes and say,
‘This great nation is truly a wise and intelligent people.’
For what great nation is there
that has gods so close to it as the LORD, our God, is to us
whenever we call upon him?
Or what great nation has statutes and decrees
that are as just as this whole law
which I am setting before you today? -Deuteronomy 4:1,5-8
Moses tells the people to observe the statutes and decrees of the Lord carefully. Why? This is for two reasons. First, so they can grow in wisdom and intelligence. Second, so they can give witness to the other nations of the world. That’s an important detail. The covenant was not JUST for Israel. Israel was the primary beneficiary of the covenant. The Jews were a people that were called by God to be PARTICULARLY his own, but the covenant was supposed to benefit the whole world. The Jews were called to embrace the covenant so they could grow in wisdom and intelligence, and thus inspire the world so that the world would also WANT to become like Israel and embrace the covenant. So, the original plan of God was that ALL the nations would come to him through Israel’s example. And it worked for a while!
The pinnacle is when the Queen the Sheba makes this long journey from the South to hear the wisdom of Solomon. Unfortunately, that’s also the turning point that marks the beginning of the end, because it’s AFTER that encounter Solomon thinks, “That’s right! Why am I sharing my wisdom for free? I should be charging people for my advice.” And that’s the beginning of Solomon’s descent into idolatry. And it’s Solomon who ultimately leads Israel into ruin.
We look around today and we see so much folly, so much insanity, and we ask, where has common sense gone! I saw a meme on Facebook of a pizza box that said, “remove pizza from box before eating.” SERIOUSLY?! We need to be TOLD to do that?! Like we need to be told that the coffee in a paper cup is hot. Preparation H; “do NOT take orally.” These are REAL warning labels!! And I think we can agree that these are just symptoms of a much larger problem. Common sense isn’t so common anymore. And the reason is that our culture as a whole has turned away from God. Like Israel of old we have embraced idolatry, and exchanged wisdom for folly, and it’s OUR fault.
From the close of the Second Vatican Council until our present day, the Church has gotten away from the basic teachings of Catholicism and exchanged them for pop wisdom and cultural fads. And so, from the 1970’s to our present day, we’ve seen a decline in our catechesis, then our church, then our society, and now our country.
When we have Bishops who call our president a “good” Catholic and congratulate him on his victory, with his career of opposing ANY pro-life legislation, we have a problem. And we have a problem that I believe only direct Divine intervention can correct at this point. And so, THAT’S what we need to pray for. My brothers and sisters, first pray that the Holy Spirit reclaim his Church, clean out the pop clutter, and set her message straight again. Second, pray that our Church leaders clearly TEACH Christ’s message and stop confusing the faithful. And third, pray that the world will heed the wisdom of that teaching and abandon the folly of idolatry. It’s up to us. -Fr. Michael Anthony Sisco
Quote from a Saint
There is no health in them to whom any part of your creation is displeasing, nor was there health in me, when many of the things that you had made displeased me. Since my soul did not dare to be displeased at my God, it would not admit that anything displeasing to it was your work. From there it turned to the theory of two substances, but it found no rest in it, and uttered the errors of other men. Turning away from that belief, my soul fashioned for itself a god that filled all the places in infinite space. It thought that this god was you, and set it up in its heart. Thus, it again became the temple of its own idol, a thing abominable before you. But afterwards you soothed my head, unknown to me, and closed my eyes, lest they see vanity, I turned a little from myself, and my madness was lulled to sleep. I awoke in you, and I saw that you are infinite. – Confessions of St. Augustine
Refrain: Blest holder of the heavenly keys,
Thy prayers we all implore;
Unlock to us the sacred bars
Of heaven’s eternal door.
By penitential tears thou didst
The path of life regain;
Teach us with thee to weep our sins,
And wash away their stain.
Firm rock, whereon the Church is based,
Pillar that cannot bend,
With strength endue us; and the faith
From heresy defend.
Oh, worship’d by all Christendom,
Her realms in peace maintain;
Let no contagion sap her strength,
No discord rend in twain.
Refrain of St. Peter, Raccolta
Questions for reflection
What cultural fads most threaten our church today?
How can we avoid falling into these fads?
Why did Solomon fall lead Israel into sin after having been given such a gift of wisdom? How does the same temptation plague the Church today?
Israel was supposed to be a light to the nations. How does this compare to the mission of the Church today?
What makes someone a “good Catholic”?
How does turning away from God lead to a lack in common sense?
What led St. Augustine to return to idolatry?
How does St. Augustine’s return to idolatry compare to Solomon’s fall?
What is wrong with being displeased with any part of God’s creation? Is this different than having a natural dislike for something? How?
What promises did Our Lord make to Peter regarding the Church?
How can St. Peter’s intercession help the church escape the heresies of our times?
Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 529: Heal Our Defection: Reflection on Hosea 14:5-9
I will heal their defection, says the LORD,
I will love them freely;
for my wrath is turned away from them.
I will be like the dew for Israel:
he shall blossom like the lily;
He shall strike root like the Lebanon cedar,
and put forth his shoots.
His splendor shall be like the olive tree
and his fragrance like the Lebanon cedar.
Again they shall dwell in his shade
and raise grain;
They shall blossom like the vine,
and his fame shall be like the wine of Lebanon.
Ephraim! What more has he to do with idols?
I have humbled him, but I will prosper him.
“I am like a verdant cypress tree”–
Because of me you bear fruit! -Hosea 14:5-9
I will heal their defection, says the Lord. In the book of Hosea, Israel’s idolatry is compared to defection from the country. Our faults and defects can separate us from God like that. Part of our daily prayer routine should be to ask the Lord to heal our defects, and I’m not talking about our physical defects. We should be asking God to heal us of our emotional, psychological, and spiritual defects; because we ALL have them. Emotional defects; Lord heal me of my need to feel appreciated. Lord heal me of my need to be praised, and admired. Lord heal me of my need to feel needed. Psychological defects; Lord heal me of my insecurities. Lord, heal me of my feelings of inadequacy. Lord heal me from all my fears and anxieties. Lord help me love and appreciate the creation you have made in me. Spiritual defects; Lord heal me from my desires to satisfy my flesh. Lord heal me from the tendency to want to reward myself carnally when I’ve had a bad day. Lord, heal me from my own ego, and my desire to put myself first. These are just a few examples of defects we should ask the Lord to heal us from.
When the prophet Hosea speaks these words though, this isn’t what he’s talking about. Hosea is talking about the Lord healing the defection of the country, Israel. That’s ANOTHER good intention we should all pray for every day. We should all be praying that God heals the defects in our nation! Lord, heal our country of greed. Heal our country of lust. Heal our country of its irreverence. Heal our country of violence. Heal our country of hatred and division. My brothers and sisters, the first step of the spiritual life is admitting there are defects in ourselves and in our world; defects that only God can heal. Blessed be God forever. -Fr. Michael Anthony Sisco
Quote from a Saint
HOWEVER much we may admire and crave for light, it is apt to dazzle our eyes when they have been long accustomed to darkness; and on first visiting a foreign country, we are sure to feel strange among its inhabitants, however kindly or courteous they may be. Even so, my child, your changed life may be attended with some inward discomfort, and you may feel some reaction of discouragement and weariness after you have taken a final farewell of the world and its follies. Should it be so, I pray you take it patiently, for it will not last, -it is merely the disturbance caused by novelty; and when it is gone by, you will abound in consolations. At first you may suffer somewhat under the loss what you enjoyed among your vain, frivolous companions; but would you forfeit the eternal gifts of God for such things as these? The empty amusements which have engrossed you hitherto may rise up attractively before your imagination, and strive to win you back to rest in them; but are you bold enough to give up a blessed eternity for such deceitful snares? Believe me, if you will but persevere you will not fail to enjoy a sweetness so real and satisfying, that you will be constrained to confess that the world has only gall to give as compared with this honey, and that one single day of devotion is worth more than a thousand years of worldly life. -St. Francis de Sales
ETERNAL GOD, the Maker of all things, remember that the souls of unbelievers have been created by Thee, and that they have been made after thy own image and likeness. Behold, O LORD, to thy dishonour, with these very souls hell is filled. Remember, O GOD, that for their salvation thy SON JESUS CHRIST underwent a most cruel death. O LORD, suffer not that thy SON be despised by unbelievers; but, appeased by the prayers of holy men and of the Church, the Spouse of thy most holy SON, remember thy own pity, and, forgetting their idolatry and their unbelief, bring to pass that they may at length acknowledge thy SON JESUS CHRIST, who is our salvation, life, and resurrection, through whom we are saved and set free; to whom be glory from age to age without end. Amen. - Prayer of St Francis Xavier for the Conversion of Infidels
Questions for Reflection
What defects should we ask God to heal in our nation?
What defects can you ask God to heal in yourself?
What are the consequences beginning a life of conversion?
Why is Israel’s worship of idols so dangerous?
St. Francis de Sales compares conversion to going to a new country. The Lord speaks to Hosea of idolatry as defection. How are these related?
How does the sweetness of conversion that Francis de Sales describes compare to the healing the Lord promises to Israel?
What do you imagine America would be like if she is healed of her defects?
Which of the defects mentioned by Father Sisco do you think is most prevalent in the USA? What remedies are available for this?
Why can only God heal us from our defects?
Why should we care that other people be converted from unbelief or idolatry?
How does the world try and entice us back to defection after conversion? -Erin Wells
Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 530: Listening to God: Reflection on Jeremiah 7:23-28
Thus says the LORD:
This is what I commanded my people:
Listen to my voice;
then I will be your God and you shall be my people.
Walk in all the ways that I command you,
so that you may prosper.
But they obeyed not, nor did they pay heed.
They walked in the hardness of their evil hearts
and turned their backs, not their faces, to me.
From the day that your fathers left the land of Egypt even to this day,
I have sent you untiringly all my servants the prophets.
Yet they have not obeyed me nor paid heed;
they have stiffened their necks and done worse than their fathers.
When you speak all these words to them,
they will not listen to you either;
when you call to them, they will not answer you.
Say to them:
This is the nation that does not listen
to the voice of the LORD, its God,
or take correction.
Faithfulness has disappeared;
the word itself is banished from their speech. -Jer 7:23-28
OK. HOW do we listen to the voice of God? People sometimes say to me, “Father I pray, and pray, and pray, and I NEVER hear the voice of the Lord.” If you’re waiting for an audible voice, it’s likely never going to happen. Sure, God spoke audibly a few times as He did to Moses in the burning bush and to the apostles from a cloud at the Transfiguration, but those instances are extremely rare. If you want to hear the voice of God, you need to develop SPIRITUAL ears. The theological term for that would be “forming your conscience.” We cannot reduce LISTENING for God to prayer alone, because you never REALLY know if the voice you’re hearing IS God’s, the devil’s, or your own. Even the scriptures say that the devil can appear “as an angel of light in order to deceive men.” OK, so how do you protect yourself then? How do you keep from being deceived? Form your conscience. Good discernment is the byproduct of forming your conscience.
Alright then. How do we form our conscience? First, read your Bible. Ignorance of scripture is ignorance of God. And with scripture I would recommend reading a good Bible study guide. Which one? The Navarre Bible Study series is generally considered the best, but be warned, it’s VERY cerebral for the average lay person. It’s a hard read. I think any of Doctor Scott Hahn’s materials out of Franciscan University is a good choice. They’re solid and they’re more “user friendly” than Navarre. After you read your bible, read the catechism of the Catholic Church. If you truly want to hear the voice of God, you need to know what teachings developed and how they developed as a result of his word in scripture. Next is frequent reception of communion and reconciliation. You can’t hear the voice of God if you’re not being touched by his Grace, or if the effects of that Grace are being hindered by sin. Finally, do charitable deeds. I’ve said it many times, charity opens our hearts to God. If you open your hearts to God, your ears will follow.
Well wait a minute Father, all this is the same stuff you’ve been telling us for the past ten years! YUP! You’re exactly right! The formula for hearing the voice of God or guaranteeing salvation is not a complicated one; but it does require effort, perseverance, and constant diligence. So hop to it. And blessed be God forever. -Fr. Michael Anthony Sisco
Quote from a Saint
“Prayer is the beginning and the end of all good. Prayer illumineth the soul, and by it all good and evil is known. This prayer every sinner should offer to the Lord - that He may give him to know his own misery and his sins, and His benefits. He who knoweth not how to pray doth not know God.” -Blessed Giles of Assisi
HEART of JESUS in the Eucharist, sweet companion in our exile, I adore Thee.
Eucharistic Heart of JESUS,
Heart solitary, Heart humiliated,
Heart ignored by men,
Heart, lover of our hearts,
Heart desirous of being loved,
Heart patient in waiting for us,
Heart eager to hear us,
Heart longing to be prayed to,
Heart source of new graces,
Heart wrapped in silence, desiring to speak to souls,
Heart, the sweet refuge of the hidden life,
Heart, teacher of the secrets of union with GOD,
Heart of him who sleeps, yet ever watches,
Eucharistic Heart of JESUS, have pity on us.
I unite myself to Thee, and sacrifice myself with Thee
I annihilate myself in thy presence.
I would be forgotten and despised for love of Thee.
And be neither understood nor loved, unless by Thee.
I will silence myself to listen to Thee,
I will abandon myself to lose myself in Thee.
Grant that I may thus appease thy thirst, the thirst for my sanctification and salvation, and that being purified I may bestow on Thee a pure and true love. I offer Thee all my actions, my intellect to be illuminated by Thee, my heart to be guided by Thee, my will to be made strong, my soul and body to be nourished, my misery to be lightened. Eucharistic Heart of my JESUS, whose blood is the life of my soul, may it be no longer I that live, but do thou alone live in me. Amen. -Prayer to the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus, Raccolta (abridged)
Questions for Reflection
How can you hear the voice of God?
Why do you think God only rarely speaks audibly?
Why is it important to form your conscience?
Why is prayer necessary to hear the voice of God?
How does prayer illumine the soul to know good and evil?
What are some ways you can form your conscience?
How do the sacraments help you to hear the voice of God?
What desires does the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus have for us?
How can you listen to God when you receive Jesus in the Eucharist?
What resources do you find most helpful in reading scripture?
How can you protect yourself from deceptions of the devil appearing as “an angel of light”?
What obstacles prevent us from hearing God better? -Erin Wells