Eternal Thanksgiving

Wishing all in our TNRS family a Blessed and Happy Thanksgiving! Extending this wish to include our friends from all over the world at this time of feasting and celebrating in America, so grateful are we to be gathered at this site.

It is our charge, recounted in the Scriptures, to be a people of thanksgiving:

“See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (I Thessolonians 5:15-18)

In my mind, gratitude is the foundation for acknowledging God before we take our next right steps and it is fitting that we pause to recount and ponder our manifold blessings, even while our ship is battered from all sides and we sail on in the darkness of whatever awaits us as all is being revealed. Rooted in thanksgiving, with the assurance that God is the Source of all goodness, we need not cling to any passing fear, for He and His Plan are our Rock of Refuge in this Storm of storms. And in His Divine Providence, He has granted us another sure refuge. In the words of St. Josemaria Escriva:

“When you see the storm coming, if you seek safety in that firm refuge which is Mary, there will be no danger of your wavering or going down.”

Reading Msgr. Charles Pope’s piece written, five years ago, at Thanksgiving, brought to mind Scott Hahn’s book, The Lamb’s Supper: The Mass as Heaven on Earth. A few quotes from Hahn’s work:

“When we begin to see that heaven awaits us in the Mass, we begin already to bring our home to heaven. And we begin already to bring heaven home with us.”

“Remember that Israel’s tradition always had men worshiping in imitation of angels. Now, as Revelation shows, both heaven and earth participate together in a single act of loving worship.”

“The Mass, it seems, is like the Normandy invasion in the spiritual realm.”

Now, let us turn to Msgr. Pope:

How to Give Adequate Thanks to God

On this feast of Thanksgiving (here in America) we do well to ponder how we ought to give thanks to God. Indeed, how can one adequately thank God who is the giver of every good and perfect gift? Is it really enough to simply kneel and say a prayer of thanks? Perhaps we should run to Church and light a candle or visit some distant shrine? Perhaps even doing the “Snoopy dance” as we say over and over, Thank you thank you thank you” ?!

But none of these acts of thanksgiving would prove adequate. God has been too good, has done too much, and is, after all, God.

Indeed, a great question went up in the Old Testament regarding this very problem of adequately thanking God. It occurs in Psalm 116 wherein the psalmist plaintively asks

“What return can I ever make to the Lord for all the good he is done for me?” (Psalm 116:12)

To that point the Jewish people had been accustomed to killing thousands of animals every day and burning them up in the Temple in order to give thanks and to atone for sin. But the blood of animals cannot atone for sin and neither can slaying even many thousands of them really give adequate thanks to God.

And thus the same psalm not only asked the question, but it gives the answer:

What return can I ever make to the Lord, for all the good he is done for me? The cup salvation I will take up, I will call on the name of the Lord! (Psalm 116:12-13)

And yet, in supplying this answer, the actual raising of the cup of salvation could only be pointed to in the Old Testament, it could not be done. The lifting up of the cup of salvation and the giving of adequate thanks could and would only be done by Jesus.

And this brings us to the first Thanksgiving meal. No, we are not in Plymouth Massachusetts in the 1620s. We are at the first, the true, and the only Thanksgiving meal that can ever really render adequate thanks to the Father. And that meal is in the upper room, at the Last Supper that Jesus had with his disciples. We are told that he took the bread and, having given thanks, he blessed it and broke it and gave it to his disciples saying, “Take this all of you in eat of it, for this is my Body.” And  likewise after the meal, he took the cup, and he gave thanks and, giving it to his disciples, he said, “Take this all of you and drink from it, for this is the chalice of my Blood, the Blood of  the New and eternal Covenant which will be poured out for you and for many, for the forgiveness of sins.” He adds, “Do this in memory of me.”

Yes, this is true and the first Thanksgiving meal. Jesus alone is able to fulfill Psalm 116, and taking the cup, the chalice, he lifts it up and give thanks to God adequately for all the good he’s done. He fulfills the Scripture and gives adequate thanks.

You and I can never give adequate thanks to the Father, but we do have a member of our family who is so able, he is our Brother and he is our Lord, he is Jesus Christ.

At Thanksgiving, how can you and I give adequate thanks to the Lord? The answer is not on some far-off distant mountaintop, it is as near as our parish church. We give adequate thanks to the Father by joining our meager thanksgiving to the perfect Thanksgiving of Jesus in every Mass. We as members of his Body and he is the Head of his Body the Church, and at every Mass fulfill Psalm 116, wherein we, through Jesus our head, take the cup salvation and call on the name of the Lord. Joining our meager thanks to that of Jesus, the Father is perfectly glorified and perfectly thanked. The Mass is the perfect Thanksgiving; it was, is and remains for us our perfect Thanksgiving meal and sacrifice.

Hidden Mass? It is interesting that in one of the Gospels picked for the Mass of Thanksgiving, we have the gospel of the 10 lepers. And you may have noticed, but perhaps not, that the whole gospel, which is a gospel about giving thanks, indeed this whole gospel has the form of a Mass. For there are lepers who gather, just as we lepers gather at every Mass. And as they are gathered, Jesus is in their midst, Jesus is passing by. It is just as Jesus acting through the person of the priest walks the aisle of our church. And seeing Jesus, the lepers cry out: “Lord have mercy!”  just as we cry out in every Mass: “Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy.” And Jesus, turning, gives them a word, quoting from Leviticus 13:2: “Go show yourselves to the priests.” We too are given a word from the Lord at every Mass. Jesus’ homily to the lepers was a brief one, in effect, “Go do what this reading says.” And at the end of the day, that is a pretty good summary of what every sermon should be, as Jesus speaking through our clergy says to us, in effect, “Go do what this reading says.” One of the lepers, realizing he has been healed by this word falls to his knees to give thanks. And so do we fall to our knees to give thanks in the great Eucharistic prayer. And the word “Eucharist” is from the Greek meaning to “give thanks.” Jesus then bids that the man go, saying that his faith and his act of thanksgiving have saved him. Thus we are told by the priest or deacon at the end of the Mass to go and announce salvation to the world.

Yes, this gospel about giving thanks is in the very form of the Mass. And it is no mistake for the Mass is the perfect act of Thanksgiving wherein we are joined to Jesus in the one perfect act of praise and thanksgiving.

Just a brief thought on Thanksgiving day. How shall we adequately thank God, for all the good he is done? You know the answer; go to Mass, join with Jesus in the only adequate way of really thanking the Father.

 

 

Posted in Culture, Guest Columns | 18 Comments

Blessed Solanus Casey, Pray for Us

Tomorrow is another great day for the Church as the Venerable Solanus Casey, an American-born Capuchin priest who died in 1957, will be beatified at a Mass in Detroit, Michigan. Perhaps some of our TNRS family will be there. Information for those who wish to watch can be found here.

 

 

You can discover more information about the newly Blessed at the site, Doorway to Solanus Casey. Here’s a beautiful article which speaks of Fr. Solanus’ gentle holiness. A connection to the newly beatified first American martyr is found in the opening lines:

On Nov. 18 in Detroit, Blessed Solanus Casey will become the second U.S-born priest to be beatified, joining Oklahoma City priest Father Stanley Rother, who was beatified just this September. Among the personal effects belonging to Blessed Stanley at the time of his 1981 martyrdom were several relics. It’s notable that one of those few relics in his possession was a third-class relic of Father Solanus, a Capuchin friar and miracle worker who gained widespread notoriety for his holiness.

Both of these Blesseds have captured my heart in their down-to-earth ways of living, with deep faith, the core message of TNRS. Many in our community have expressed their longtime devotion to Blessed Solanus and his intercession. Surely, on this special occasion of his beatification, he will speak our names to God if we but ask with firm trust and heartfelt thanksgiving. It’s a great time to ask for special favors so dear to our hearts!

Blessed Solanus’ total trust in God with commensurate submission to Him in the present moment is what is most astonishing to me. I was awestruck to discover the humble beginning of Blessed Solanus’ priestly life as recounted in this piece:

To his great joy, he was ordained in 1904, but to his humiliation he was made a priest simplex, that is, a priest who could say Mass, but “doesn’t know enough” to hear confessions or preach. Again, enormous temptation to despair, to anger, to self-pity, to depression, to every kind of negative response. Instead Solanus, in his thirty-fourth year, made the response of a person at least close to holiness: he accepted what would be a lifelong humiliation and prayed week after week, month after month, until he could actually thank God for apparently making him so inef­fectual a priest that his superiors were hard put to find anything for him to do except manage the altar boys and answer the door as a porter.

A fellow Capuchin who knew him has remarked that it was through his ever more spiritualized and finally joy-filled response to this humili­ation that Solanus Casey became holy. As the years passed, it also be­came clear that the apparent blight on Solanus’s life of being a simplex priest was actually part of God’s wonderful design, for it was through the Capuchin’s assignments as porter in New York, Detroit, and Indiana that God carried out the immense ministry he entrusted to the man judged “too dumb” to be a full priest.

Thanks be to God for Blessed Solanus Casey who lived each moment with humility, trust, simplicity and love and who is now set before us on this occasion of his beatification as a shining example of one who professed and extended God’s never ending Love and Mercy.

 

May we follow in Blessed Solanus’ footsteps, each of us, as we continue in our ordinary lives, striving to be Christ’s Light and yearning to do whatever he asks us to do.

Blessed Solanus Casey, pray for us and pray for our families!

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Announcement, Prayer | 157 Comments

Upcoming Visits

Especially take note that the next visit is in two days, on Tuesday this week. The hosts urge all who plan to attend to come early for the Pot Luck at 5pm.

 

Upcoming Visits

Los Angeles, CA

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

5:00pm:  Pot Luck

7:00 pm: Public Talk  

Pauline Books and Media, 3906 Sepulveda Blvd, Culver City, CA  90230

Contact Josephine at la.tnrs@gmail.com

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 San Francisco, CA

Thursday, November 30, 2017

6:30pm:  Mill Valley Golf Clubhouse, 267 Buena Vista Ave, Mill Valley, CA.  

Contact Robert at sanfrancisco.tnrs@gmail.com

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Yuba City (Sacramento), CA

Sunday, December 4, 2017

4:00pm:  TNRS Dinner with Charlie and local TNRS group

Contact (For RSVP and Directions):  

Mary at lovedbyhim1026@gmail.com

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Santa Fe, NM

January, 2018

Exact Date and Location TBD

Contact:  Mary at tnrs.sf@gmail.com

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Posted in Announcement | 13 Comments

Musings of Hope and Exhortation

(I asked our own Phillip Frank to write a piece to hearten us in these days in which, as he says, the world has gone mad. Phil has recently been through a season of personal storms. About the time Hurricane Irma passed through, his mother was diagnosed with cancer and passed away. In this month which our Church has set aside to remember our loved ones who have gone before us, we pray for the repose of his mother’s soul. We pray, too, for the repose of all the souls of TNRS family and friends who have, recently, made their Final Journey Home. Charlie prayed in the most beautiful way when commenters sought prayer for a loved one who had passed. He requested that the soul would be welcomed into the Kingdom and that s/he would become an intercessor for us as we proceed through the Storm. May all whom we know and love in the Great Cloud of Witnesses become such intercessors for us in this sobering time.  ~Beckita)

A young mother from our church was asking me about how to keep her children pure in these times. She was frustrated at the thought that her daughters would make the same mistakes she had when she was young and would end unhappy like she was as a single parent raising two children in this crazy, messed up world. I told her that no matter how hard she tried, temptations of the world would find them and they would then choose to follow the righteousness they were taught or the world. Proverbs 22:6 says to “train up a child in the ways of God and they will return to it when they are old.”

In her fear of how to keep her children safe and not really knowing how to accomplish it, I reminded her that Jesus told His disciples that for man alone salvation is impossible but with God all things are possible. (Matt 9:26) Despite her weak efforts, God would make sufficient what she lacked. Further, I said she needed to TRUST God and release her worry to hope, then train up her children to the best of her ability and live a good life as a witness to them, then, God would make sufficient her weakness (My grace is sufficient) for in weakness (our acceptance that God is really in charge) we (He) are strong. When Jesus told those He cured “your faith healed you” He was referring to the fact that they “relented” their will to Him and opened themselves to trust Him. Faith leads to hope (trust) then to love which is eternal (heaven). We reach into eternity (heaven) when we do the will of God (thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven). Love, then, casts out all fear as our faith, hope and love stabilize us in this world gone mad.

When Jesus washed the feet of the apostles, He was taking a position of the least among them, despite being their leader, to help them realize humility (for I am meek and humble of heart). It was the enemy who sowed the temptation in us to “be someone” but Jesus came and took the lowest possible position among us – a slave. “Instead He emptied Himself by assuming the form of a slave.” (Phil 2:7) He did this to bring us back to the realization that we are children… His children! And that, like children, obedience, trust and not worrying are the correct behavior of a child of God.

It will be the Great Miracle of light blinding Satan… The torrential flood of blessings about to jolt the world must begin with the small number of the most humble souls.”  – Our Lady to Elizabeth Kindelmann <http://www.theflameoflove.org/> http://www.theflameoflove.org

The tragedy of this life is that we all suffer. That is our lot from the Fall of Adam and Eve and a combined condition of humanity’s spiritual link to one another as the Body of Christ. But we also gain through this Body. Just like a physical body that profits as a whole from good nutrition, rest and peace of mind, the Body of Christ gains merit, goodness and even physical relief by the good acts of its members. We must be prepared to give “reasons for your hope.” (1 Peter 13:15) And to do so “in season and out of season.“(2 Tim 4:2).No good deed goes unrewarded just as no evil deed goes unpunished. We, who are in the “know” of God’s grace and goodness, carry much responsibility for the good which comes into the world. We are like dikes that allow water to flow into a desert. When we are open, much flows through us to green up the parched lands. But when we are closed, the earth is dry and barren. If we, who then receive so much, refuse to open ourselves to the life-giving graces which can flow through us by our “prayers, works, joys and sufferings” and, instead, become too attached to something or someone or shy away from the sufferings God sends us or if we are spiritually lazy, we should not be surprised when everything around us is turning to dust!

What is most acceptable to God are acts that involve no self-interest, whatsoever, and that we do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do. Actions done solely out of love for God are sacred deeds that bring eternal blessings. “So you also, when you shall have done all these things that are commanded you, say: We are unprofitable servants; we have done that which we ought to do.” (Luke 17:10) As God is whole and complete (“I am the beginning and the end.” (Rev 22:13), we profit Him nothing by our existence and are incapable of loving Him as He truly deserves. But He gave us each other (His Mystical Body) to fulfill that which cannot be fulfilled for us by Him – “love one another, as I have loved you;”  ” and forgive us as we forgive those who trespass against us.” “See how they love one another.” “For the sake of the body of Christ, they complete what is still lacking in His afflictions.” (Col 1:24)

So for the sake of the Body of Christ, we must remain OPEN in these times to allow God His chance to save as many souls as He can. We must not “ refuse to pay attention, and turn a stubborn shoulder and stop our ears from hearing.“(Zech 7:11) when it is hard to forgive and forget. I see a great division among those of us professing faith and those opposed to it. We must be mindful, always, that we, too, are worthy of death because of our sinfulness and are saved from this fate by God Himself.  “Therefore, you are without excuse, every one of you who passes judgment. For by the standard by which you judge another you condemn yourself, since you, the judge, do the very same things.” (Rom 2:1) We are to pity and love our enemies and pray for their salvation, realizing that but for the grace of God, we would be just like them and we actually are just like them in many ways. The mystery of why God allowed the enemy to dwell among us has always troubled me but the parable of the wheat and the weeds (Matt 13:24) has given me insight into how Our Lord expects those of us who are “in the world but not of the world” to bring light to His people. God allows sinners to dwell alongside His faithful ones, not to punish them, but to bring light into the darkness. It is we, His faithful, who are to be a sign of contradiction to the weeds. As our “roots” grow entangled among the weeds, we may pull some of them up and out of perdition along with us when the harvester brings us home.

My mother was sent to the hospital the day before hurricane Irma rolled into Florida. The next day, the doctors diagnosed her with late stage pancreatic cancer and because of her age and physical limitations, treatment was not an option. The nurses on staff cried for her when they heard this. Why? Because my mother was sweet and loving, wheat among the weeds in this life and “entangled” herself up with everyone she met, even those she only knew for ONE DAY!

Though He constrains Himself against compelling our will, God manages the divine economy so that every event, every chance encounter, calls us to Him.” (Charlie Johnston) Being a sign of hope is to be that chance encounter with someone who needs a chance. Growing alongside the weeds, we learn to love and care for them despite their offenses and if they don’t pray, we can pray in their stead. They, in turn, learn to love and care for us… and will recognize God dwelling in us. St. Faustina, in her diary, Divine Mercy in My Soul, captures this relationship importance. “Although a sinful person is at the point of death, the merciful God gives the soul that interior vivid moment, so that if the soul is willing, it has the possibility of returning to God thus making use of all the prayers that other souls offer to God for them.

Jesus set His eyes on the goal, was not put to shame and felt joy in what He was accomplishing by the cross. Despite the great suffering He was going through, He experienced joy in its accomplishment, a parallel which we can ourselves feel as we suffer the Storm and await the Rescue with its light already piercing the darkness. Our own Francesca here at TNRS feels this distinction: “Fortunately we walk by faith and not by sight, and so the prayers of God’s people, our Guardian Angels, the tender embrace of our Immaculate Mother, and the hope to see Jesus brings needed mercy, and I do not despair, although despair is all I can feel.” She does not despair because she has replaced it with trust and hope which she does not “feel” but “believes” through her faith. Here people, is a sign of contradiction and a true disciple of TNRS. She becomes a “sign of hope” herself when she practices what she preaches. And with the Storm, God has given us ample chance to practice!

I see the parable of the workers (Matt 20:1-16) like this: The land owner hires the workers to work his vineyard. The first to be hired, work all day (their entire lives) to fulfill the job given them by the land owner (God). But God, loving all humanity, sees those standing around in the market place (the world) doing nothing (not tending to what they were created to be) and asks them to join those who are already working (the faithful) and offers to pay them what is right (eternal life). This story has two lessons for me. First, God is “generous” with His love and salvation. He makes the point that those who worked the longest in His vineyard “deserve” the pay agreed upon but, because of His generosity, He can also give those who do not “deserve” it the same. He makes the point that it is none of our business what He does with His money (grace) despite our “jealousy” of His mercy and love for those we think do not “deserve” it! He makes the point that the work does not actually give us salvation but His generosity does. So the second lesson is this: despite our ideas on who deserves to go to heaven or not, God will, in the end, save us all if we, even at the last moment, “agree” to work in His vineyard. “God’s mercy sometimes touches the sinner at the last moment in a wondrous and mysterious way. Outwardly, it seems as if everything were lost, but it is not so. The soul, illumined by a ray of God’s powerful final grace, turns to God in the last moment with such a power of love that, in an instant, it receives from God forgiveness of sin and punishment.” (St. Faustina) For this soul the “work” is its final “turning to God” and then God’s grace “is sufficient” for it to receive the “day’s pay” of eternal life. Thus, we all enter heaven on equal ground, not because of our labors’ equality, but because of our God’s mercy and love for His children. This is why “the first will be last and the last will be first.” We do not go into heaven in a straight line, first to last, but all together at once as a single unit, as the Body of Christ!

Posted in Conversion, Encouragement, Family of God, Guest Columns, Musings, Solidarity, The Storm, Trust | 345 Comments

Updated Visit Schedule and An Expression of Gratitude

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some have asked if Charlie will be visiting their local area. You may contact Mary at lovedbyhim1026@gmail.com to discuss the possibility of hosting a visit. Now, here’s Charlie’s updated schedule. But first, please remember:

To either volunteer to help or to get information on a public meeting, contact the coordinator at the email address for the city closest to you. There is never a charge for any meeting nor will there ever be a collection taken. All is handled by volunteer sponsors.

Upcoming Visits

Los Angeles, CA

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

5:00pm:  Pot Luck

7:00pm:  Public Talk:  Location To Be Determined

Contact Josephine at la.tnrs@gmail.com

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 San Francisco, CA

Thursday, November 30, 2017

6:30pm:  Mill Valley Golf Clubhouse, 267 Buena Vista Ave, Mill Valley, CA.  (415) 388-4242

Contact Robert at sanfrancisco.tnrs@gmail.com

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Yuba City (Sacramento), CA

Sunday, December 4, 2017

4:00pm:  TNRS Dinner with Charlie and local TNRS group

Contact (For RSVP and Directions):  

Mary at lovedbyhim1026@gmail.com

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Santa Fe, NM

Date and Location TBD

Contact:  Mary at lovedbyhim1026@gmail.com

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Thank you, Doug and Jacki, for praying for all of us at TNRS while you made pilgrimage to Medjugorje!

I especially thank Doug because he and Jacki not only prayed for us all, Doug sent me a photo of his backpack, filled with our petitions, which he carried e.v.e.r.y.w.h.e.r.e. they went. In his own words from a comment posted on November 4th:

Doug’s backpack filled with our petitions and presented to St. Faustina’s intercession via a first class relic

Hi Everyone,

Here is a brief update on our trip. Lambzie and I just got back yesterday. I continued carrying everyone’s petitions everywhere we went. They:

-climbed Cross mountain and did the Stations of the cross which was very moving.

-they went to Mass everyday

-they were present for Mirjanas Nov 2nd apparition where I offered them up to the Blessed Mother.

They were left with our guide on the last day where he will bring them to one of the visionaries for prayer and then they will be burned.

God bless you all!

Doug

Posted in Announcement | 25 Comments

Upcoming Visits

Charlie’s on the road again, heartening the faithful. Please remember, the black nav bar at the top of this page is, once again, updating Charlie’s planned visits as they are determined. You can click on the words, “Upcoming Visits,” any time to see the up-to-date schedule. For your convenience, here’s the latest from Mary:

Upcoming Visits

 

Los Angeles, CA

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

5:00pm:  Pot Luck

7:00pm:  Public Talk:  Location To Be Determined

Contact Josephine at la.tnrs@gmail.com

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San Francisco, CA

Thursday, November 30, 2017

6:30pm:  Mill Valley Golf Clubhouse, 267 Buena Vista Ave, Mill Valley, CA.  (415) 388-4242

Contact Robert at sanfrancisco.tnrs@gmail.com

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Santa Fe, NM

Date and Location TBD

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Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Comments

The Decisive Moment Has Come

fork-in-the-road

By Charlie Johnston

Although few yet understand what has happened, the Rubicon I spoke of a few days ago has been crossed. There is now no negotiated settlement or stand-down possible.

Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller, assigned to investigate possible collusion with Russia to influence the last presidential election, has indicted Paul Manafort, who briefly served as Donald Trump’s campaign manager (for two months in the summer of 2016). What Mueller indicted him for is failing to register as a foreign agent and tax evasion from his work a decade ago. Nothing at all to do with Trump or the last election. He also indicted George Papadopoulos, a Trump campaign volunteer, for lying about when he tried to set up a meeting with Russians. These indictments come in the wake of revelations last week that it was the Clinton campaign, the Democratic National Committee and (we learned just this weekend) the Obama campaign fund that hired Fusion GPS to work with Russian officials to dummy up a dossier to smear Trump. This came on top of revelations that the FBI had proof that Russian agents were engaging in extortion, bribery and kickbacks in order to gain ownership of a chunk of America’s nuclear raw materials. Yet this investigation was shut down for a time in order to facilitate the Uranium One deal which gave Russia ownership of 20% of America’s stores of uranium. Coincidentally, the Clinton’s and their “charitable” foundation received over $145 million from investors in the company which got the deal. The FBI Director at the time this slimy deal went through and the investigation was put on hold? Robert Mueller.

The Uranium One deal was the equivalent of a bank robbery committed by the very people charged with insuring the safety of the bank. Mueller was not one of the bank robbers – but the revelations show pretty conclusively that he either drove the getaway car by stopping the investigation or turned his head while his underlings did. A basic rule of justice: you don’t let the driver of the getaway car prosecute the first responders.

By all accounts, Manafort is a shady character. But his shadiness is unrelated to any collusion with Russia in the last election – or with Trump. This does not fall under the purview of the special prosecutor’s office, but under the normal workings of the Justice Department. Manafort is not being targeted for any collusion; he is being targeted because of his brief connection with Trump, just as that pathetic video-maker was sent to jail for a year because the Democrats needed a scapegoat for Benghazi. Even if Manafort deserves to be prosecuted, you go back to the basic rule of justice: the driver of the getaway car does not get to act as prosecutor.

Don’t think that Mueller is protecting the Clintons here. That is just ancillary to the collapsing story. He is protecting himself and the FBI from revelations of how corrupt and politicized its leadership has become over the last decade.

I am both horrified and sympathetic to how many conservative outlets are arguing to let the investigation play out under Mueller. I am sympathetic because they clearly just don’t want to believe the scandal could be this big – and formerly respected players, this corrupt and compromised. Back to the basic rule: the driver of the getaway car does not get to act as prosecutor. I am horrified because, if this is allowed to stand, it would be formal recognition that there are now two tiers of justice in America; one harsh and punitive towards acting as a citizen while conservative or Christian, the other indifferent to actual evidence of serious crimes by ‘progressives.’

In Washington we now have substantial evidence of what may be the worst, most damaging scandal in American history – all perpetrated by the Clintons, the DNC and other denizens of the last administration. But we go after a bit player on the Republican side for crimes that amount to a molehill beside the mountain of corruption we now know about. Christian bakers, florists and wedding chapel owners are fined, bankrupted and threatened with jail for being true to their faith while the establishment media and ‘progressive’ officials give a wink and a nod to violent Antifa activists. Nuns are forced to pay for contraceptives and abortions while a federal judge puts a gag order on video evidence taken from public venues showing abortionists illegally selling baby body parts for profit. The IRS targets people and groups for their conservative views and, in the end, the ‘progressive’ predators get off with an apology and a settlement paid by the government – not the predators.

As Abraham Lincoln once said, quoting the Bible, “a house divided against itself cannot stand.” This issue is no longer about Donald Trump or mere vicious political wrangling. The question before us now is whether this nation can stand with a justice system that punitively targets conservatives and Christians for failing to bow to ‘progressive’ sensibilities while simultaneously exempting ‘progressives’ from accountability for the ugliest of criminal behavior. There can no longer be a compromise. One side must win and the other, lose. The future of liberty, itself, is now in the balance.

 

Posted in Culture, Uncategorized | 184 Comments

Nearing the Rubicon

monster in the mirror, definitive

By Charlie Johnston

In the last week, the Russian collusion story has collapsed. Well, not exactly collapsed: there was collusion with Russian officials, but it was all done by the Clinton campaign, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Obama Administration. They were aided and abetted in covering it up by the FBI under the leadership of Robert Mueller and James Comey. The only thing slightly unclear is whether these FBI leaders were active participants in their agency’s help in covering up what may be the biggest scandal in American history or clueless dupes.

As it turns out, in 2010, the FBI knew that the Russians were systematically engaged in bribery and extortion to increase their ownership of North American atomic energy resources. But that FBI investigation was put on hold long enough for the U.S. to approve the sale of 20 percent of its uranium reserves to the Russian company, Rosatom. Coincidentally, Rosatom investors donated $145 million to the Clinton Foundation – and Russia paid Bill Clinton $500,000 for a speech, double his normal fee. Actually, the FBI investigation was put on hold entirely until 2014, when the “Russian Reset” had clearly tanked. Mueller was head of the FBI when the investigation was put on hold. This is not just a smoking gun; it is a blazing pile of rocket launchers.

In a separate revelation later in the week, it turned out that the phony dossier that was used to accuse Donald Trump of collusion with Russians was instigated, bought and paid for by the Clinton campaign and the DNC. Their contractor worked with Russian officials to dummy up the charges. These stunning revelations were not broken by Fox News, but by the left-leaning capitol hill newspaper, “The Hill” and the far-left “Washington Post.” And so it turns out that the shrill accusers were simply accusing their opponents of doing a vastly watered-down version of what they had been doing for years – and dummying up the evidence to give it plausibility.

It has been a rough few weeks for the anti-God left. Those accusing others of colluding with Russia were the ones actually colluding with Russia – for profit and to affect the outcome of the election. Now the establishment media, which a few months ago was shrieking that Donald Trump Jr. was guilty of treason for taking lunch with a Russian, then walking away from her offer, is absurdly arguing that taking over a $100 million and giving away America’s nuclear resources…and working with Russian agents to dummy up a fake dossier to discredit an opponent is just business as usual. The establishment media has made it clear to all but the most clueless that it has become the press office and crisis management center for the Democratic Party.

Meanwhile, in Hollywood, after decades of lecturing normals about how benighted we are and uncaring about women’s rights, a “New York Times” story on Harvey Weinstein has unleashed a gusher of allegations and hard evidence that Hollywood is the home of predators and pedophiles – and that even those who may not have actively participated were complicit in covering it up. The Hollywood left has been busy ‘leftsplaining’ to us that it is a systematic problem and we are all to blame. No, Hollywood, it’s not us; it’s you. The meltdown in tinseltown has helped me understand why so many actresses are so shrill about how rotten men are. If, in their bubble, they imagine that men in Hollywood are the kindest towards women’s sensibilities, no wonder they avoid all men in flyover country like Dracula avoids garlic. They should get out to flyover country, go to an NRA meeting, maybe even a church service.  They’ll be astonished to discover that here in the Heartland, we treat women with respect – like real people rather than as mere things for our pleasure.

We must remember that much of the anti-God left actually believes the smears they launch at us. Former National Public Radio CEO Ken Stern was astonished, after spending a year among conservatives, to discover most of his prejudices against them were based on ludicrously inaccurate stereotypes. Without neglecting to hold those who have tried to weaponize the legal system against their mere political opponents, let us never forget that we are called to evangelize our opponents by showing them the true face of Christianity and normalcy.

With the pretenses and fantasies of the anti-God left in full collapse, Special Prosecutor Mueller will unveil his first indictments in the “Russian collusion” case against Trump on Monday. It is bizarre. After last week’s revelations, whoever Mueller indicts, he ought to be listed as a co-conspirator, not a prosecutor, even if those indicted are Democrats who actually DID collude with Russians. If, feeling the ground crumbling beneath them, this is a last-ditch effort by the anti-God left to get their mojo back, by brazening and bullying it out, it will make for a VERY perilous moment – and may launch a genuine crisis of massive proportions.

A month and a half ago, NFL players decided to double down on their open contempt for America and its soldiers and cops, figuring the fans had nowhere else to go. Now the TV ratings of and attendance at NFL games is in free fall. An attempt to double-down on the phony Russian collusion charges against the Trump administration the very week after it was revealed that all the collusion has come from the left will lead to a Constitutional crisis at best, the beginning of violent civil strife at worst. We are nearing a perilous Rubicon. Normal Americans are, to use a favorite leftist expression, woke.

Whatever comes, remember that God has a plan. We are called to be a Godly people, neither tolerating nor enabling the assaults from the left, nor striking out in frustrated vengeance. All things ARE being revealed.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 148 Comments

In All Seasons, the New Springtime Blooms

(My maternal, German grandmother, “Nanny,” who resided in a one room apartment, needing to walk across a hallway for her bathroom needs, lived simplicity and LOVE. When her mobility became more restricted, she prayed a bountiful number of Rosaries for each of her ten children, all in my family of origin. Nanny spoke, often and with fervor, of Our Lady of Fatima and our responsibility to listen and respond to our Mother for the sake of souls.

Lately, I’ve been pondering how it seems we have been waiting, a very long time, for the Triumph of Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart. Immediately, my thoughts turn to how often Our Lord and Our Lady have come to earth and have waited, a very long time, for us to respond, repent and be renewed in heart, mind and soul. They have done e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. possible to call us back to Abba. And, now, we are immersed in the Storm, as Charlie wrote in August:

We are there. We are in the midst of a global civil war fought on cultural lines. It is not as bad yet as it will be, nor can we yet see the glorious renewal to which it ultimately leads. But we are there.

In September, Charlie exhorted us:

So gird your loins and proclaim the one, True God, whatever the cost. Not only is it the side that will win; it is the only possibility that will give your children and grandchildren a chance at a happy, prosperous life. Do not worry if your primary motivation is love for your children: self-sacrificing love is always love of God, Himself.

Taking to heart these words of our Sherpa, I’ve been nudged to reprint the following piece, lest we are caught off guard, perhaps drowsy in this seemingly long period of watching for the fullness of the Storm to break. As we strive to stay awake and be ready, we are keeping vigil with the Lord and I encourage us all to review these life-giving words with new eyes and new resolve, taking time to contemplate and ask: “What do You want of me, Lord?”

Often, I think we are living both Lent and Advent as we anticipate, in our own Garden of Gethsemane, only-God-knows-exactly-what, while longing, in joyful hope, for the New Springtime prophesied by Pope St. John Paul II. This Springtime will not be magically plunked into existence. It demands a commitment to hard work, to acknowledge God and take the next right step that He may make of us a sign of hope, His Light shining in the darkness. Thomas Williams’ golden oldie, The Springtime of John Paul II, says it well and is found here. In all the many steps we continue to take, we are co-creating, with God, the New Springtime.

I’ve taken liberty to highlight, in burnt orange, those concepts which speak strongly to me in where we now are. So salient is Charlie’s closing, it is emboldened and set apart in Lady Blue. Perhaps you are moved by other passages. Let us hearten each other, in words and in prayer, as we make our way through these days, never to be forgotten, with the Cross, always to be embraced. ~Beckita

PS In Charlie’s last post, rich with links to articles, there was a gem you will not want to miss. In case you might not have had time to read George Neumayr’s outstanding piece, here it is again.)

 

What The Next Right Step Really Means

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“What you desire most is most effective against you. Desire God and all shall be added to you.”

 

Before I ever began talking to my priests, before I was received into the Catholic Church, before I had children, before I was married I was told that a time was coming when I would not be able to see more than a step ahead of myself, a time when even that step would often be hazy, a time when I would have to completely rely upon God for every step. It was a mysterious thing to me. Like the dunce I often am, I wondered if it meant I was going to go blind. That is not what it meant (though who knows, I suppose I could still go blind). Today, I will tell you a little bit about what it means…and take you deeper into my interior understanding of these things than I ever have before. It is time you need to hear some of these things.

For a good 20 years my angel would use prophetic words to tell me innocuous things that were to come in the future. On almost every one, it would come to pass as he had prophesied, but not at all as I had expected. This served a twofold purpose (maybe more, but two things I have come to understand). First, it burnt much of the vanity right out of me. In this world, I’m a pretty smart fellow. But when dealing with the next, I’m as dumb as a box of rocks. All my smarts here are worth less there than a pocketful of Monopoly money is at the local mall there. It helped me to understand my true stature – which most surely is not heroic. Second, it – and the rest of my lifetime of ongoing experiences – have taught me to see a little from the perspective of how they see from that side of the veil. It is so profoundly different that my sight is little different than blindness – but that is what a lot of this has been about…to see a little as they see…and I needed every bit of the smarts God gave me here to rise to the level of blathering idiot there (a status I have not yet achieved, but I’m working on it).

We misunderstand almost everything, sometimes in small ways, usually in large ways. It is not just that the world is changing in large, unexpected ways: as the Storm rises to greater fury, our instincts become more useless. All of us have gotten to where we see a set of circumstances, then use our reason and logic to make a plan. All of us do that. As we separated our reason and experience from its root in God, things have gone downhill at a geometrically accelerating pace. Now people look to prophecy, even try to make a concordance of prophecy to see what will happen. Why? So they can make a plan. Your plans won’t work and are useless. Your instincts don’t apply to the Storm that is upon us. The more you plan, the deeper you will sink into the quagmire. It does not matter whether you are an active opponent of the faith or whether you spend five hours in Adoration and say 50 Rosaries a day. When you use the information you glean to formulate a plan, you trust to yourself and your own cleverness. God will let this Storm we have brought on ourselves rage until that confidence in our own capacity is burned out of everyone. That is why we all must lose hope before the rescue. Whatever we say, even if we think differently, it is ourselves we rely on – not God. That is why people restlessly seek more information on what is coming: so they can make a plan.

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It is why I pray that God give me no information more than what is necessary for me to carry out the work He has laid out for me. I am subject to the same temptations as anyone else on this matter. I KNOW that the more specifics I know the more likely my silly mind is to start formulating a plan of my own devising – rather than looking to God for each step, which is the only path to safety. Here is a paradox: If you look to God first and just take the next step in front of you, He will flourish it, even if it is the wrong step. If you make the perfect plan, perfectly informed by the best, fully approved prophecies, you will fall into a pit. All of your plans will blow up in your face. Yet every step you take after acknowledging God – WITH EACH STEP – will flourish. This is a subtlety that many, probably most, deceive themselves on. If you humbly ask God to help you be what He calls you to, He will bless your efforts. If you, instead, dedicate yourself to helping God rescue the world, you will founder. God does not need you to accomplish His will; you need Him to remain in His grace. If you keep that straight, He can use you as a profitable tool. If not, you are useless to Him, however scholarly, pious, or orthodox you think yourself to be. The sooner you get that, the closer we all are to rescue.

When you are sitting on a placid lake in a canoe with a paddle, you can use the paddle to steer, to choose where you want to go. When you are in that canoe in a fast-moving, frothy, rapid river, you do not choose where to go. In fact, if you try to steer, you capsize. Rather, the paddle can only be used to react to the current and the rapids…and every bit of skill you have must be used to keep from capsizing as the river takes you where it will. We are in the rapids. We are not in control. But if we are humble and skillful, we can dramatically reduce our odds of capsizing.

Shoot-the-rapids

You will see nation rise against nation, bishops fighting with other bishops, leaders trying to undermine the faith both from within and without. I have long known that. But what I also know is that the whole world has succumbed to a zeal for locating and diagnosing the splinter in everyone else’s eyes. If you have a baseball team in which all nine players are too busy critiquing the flaws of their teammates to bother playing their own position, the problem will not be solved by the third baseman’s ever more penetrating analysis of how the center fielder is messing up. The situation will not stabilize until each player understands his own limits – and resolves to quit worrying about his teammates, except to back them up well, and relentlessly devotes himself to playing his own position with every ounce of skill he has. This is why I am so slow to condemn anyone who purports to play for the Christian team. Even if your analysis of the center fielder’s deficiencies is spot on, it will avail you nothing if you have not devoted yourself to playing third base as you were assigned. It is painful for me to hear good people eager to detract others on matters they are only partially informed about. These people think they are cutting their targets, but they are actually cutting themselves and losing blood by the minute. God has not found those who disagree with us wanting: he has found us all wanting. We may deceive ourselves on the matter, but God is not deceived. You want to know who killed Christ? I killed Christ. Pound that into your head. Every one of us killed Christ. Internalize that and you are at the beginning of wisdom.

We understand nothing. We think God punishes us for sin. Religious folks think it is just; non-religious folks think God is a killjoy. Neither understands the nature of sin. God warns us away from sin because, by its very nature, it wounds us. He loves us and wants to protect us from harm and spiritual death. If a man atop a mountain aerie puts up a wired gate blocking access to a rickety bridge and posts warnings that the bridge is unsafe, that if you venture there you will likely fall to your serious injury or death – if you go ahead and mount the fence anyway, go charging across the bridge and fall, breaking your arm and ankle, do you think the man is punishing you for disobeying him? Of course not! He was trying to protect you from behavior he knew would wound you but you were too stupid to believe.

People think the increase in natural disasters and catastrophic events is a punishment from God. Again, we understand nothing. Has it never occurred to you that the dynamic tension of the natural forces that sustain life are normally more volatile and violent than we recognize? In normal times, God is constantly staying the brunt of these things. Now we dismiss Him from the classroom, dismiss Him from assemblies, dismiss Him from the public square – and so He obliges. That means His hand is not there to stay the rougher edges of natural events. It is not He who chooses to subject us to these things, but we who have sullenly demanded out from under His thumb – and now we dare to complain of what happens when we expose ourselves?

As you know, I have been an advocate for refuges, for people preparing to help others, to live simple solidarity, one with another. But I see religious people acting as if they think that these are going to be enclaves completely secluded from the Storm in which Jesus will be our maitre d’ and the angels and archangels will serve as our waiters and cocktail waitresses. The refuges are not places we will go to be treated like visiting satraps by the heavenly host. They are an opportunity for us to serve and live solidarity with each other as we weather the Storm. I have seen tales from visionaries who have probably seen true but can interpret nothing that further this nonsense. At one place of refuge, they told me how they had been told they will know who to let in because of a glowing Host that will appear in their foreheads and that the deer will walk right up to them and fall dead for food. I told them bluntly that while that is metaphorically true, in that they will perceive differently when they acknowledge God in all things and that it means there will be sufficient food, it is not literally true. I reminded them that God promised to deliver the Israelites to a land flowing with milk and honey – and He kept His promise. But when they got there, they still had to milk the cows and keep the bees – and if they had waited for the heavenly host to act as their stewards, they would have died in that very land flowing with milk and honey. In the refuges, you will work hard, have many trials, and will know hunger, though not starvation. Live it well and you will be startled at what joy you find in the midst of such hardship.

Some people have gotten queasy when I speak of my anticipation of being able, if I have kept faith, after the Storm, to devote myself to helping raise the money and materials for the building of the Shrine. They think we won’t need any of that, since Jesus will reign directly. No, He won’t. I am not a millenarianist who claims we are going to have an earthly Paradise. We don’t get heaven until we actually get…heaven. The world that we will have after the rescue is a fully natural world. We will have to get jobs, raise families, pay bills, organize societies and governments. God is giving us another chance to get the natural world right. He will give us the visible sign of our miraculous rescue by Our Lady to help fortify our resolve. It is VERY important that we take it to heart, because the next time there is a massive falling away like now, it will be the end. But we are getting another chance to get our hearts and heads right – and how well we keep faith will determine which of us ultimately gets heaven, but it will be a fully natural world that we go back to.

Some have complained that they cannot imagine such a thing because it has never happened that way. Really?! When God actively intervenes in human affairs, He usually acts in a way that is unprecedented in human history. When the flood came, there never had been, before or since, such a comprehensive disaster – and his fellows mocked Noah for his foolishness in preparing for such an event. When Israel left Egypt, never before had a captive people been spontaneously set free by their captors to go and found a great nation. When Christ came, Israel was used to prophets. Because, in part, Christ did not fit any of their previous categories, He was rejected by the very people He was sent to. When, after decades of existential war, France was on the very brink of permanent annihilation, it pleased God to send an unlettered teenage girl to rally the country and save the nation. God is always startling, fresh and new. It is we who constantly fail to have the wit to see what He is doing – particularly when it does not fit in with any of our previous experience of Him, which it usually doesn’t.

St. Therese playing St. Joan of Arc in a play she wrote at her convent.

Shortly after I was received into the Church I read St. Therese of Lisieux’s The Autobiography of a Soul – and fell in love with her and her little way. I recognized in it the only way forward in the chaotic times ahead – and know that the way of simplicity is the way to endure this Storm. There will be so much chaos that it will make your head spin. No one can possibly keep up with it. You cannot divine the mind of God. If you seek to be a heat-seeking missile aimed at heresy, you are just as likely to hit a St. Paul in the making as you are a betrayer. In fact, God allows some errors among His servants to draw out the deeper errors of those so caught up in their own vanity that they cannot help but restlessly pick at the splinter in others eyes to avoid contemplating their own splinters candidly. Try not to be one of them. This does not mean you should not authentically proclaim the faith. You should. But again, you will be held to account for EVERYONE you could have given effective witness to but did not because you wanted to show how clever and what a shrewd aide to God you are. AND you will be held to account for EVERY case where you could have defended the faithful from an assault but did not out of false tolerance. If you can wrap your mind around those two dictums, you know it is impossible. A man cannot be that discerning. That is why the ONLY hope is to acknowledge God, take the next right step and be a sign of hope to those right around you. Trust-Do-Love. Now you know where I got the phrase, “The Next Right Step” from as well. It is an iteration of what I was told from the beginning these times would be like. The way of simplicity is the only way to endure.

We are the sheep.

Some think I have it easy, for I have been told I will live through the Storm if I keep faith. That is not a condescension to me, but necessary for my work. I am also reliably informed that several times, in the course of it, I will desperately long for the release of death to free me from these trials, but it will not be given. Pray that when that happens I will have wit enough to pray for more strength. I am also told that parts of me will be permanently broken for this life once we come out the other end. That makes sense. I came out of my little preparatory mini-Storm with permanent neurological damage and pain. Over the course of my life, I have been forced to see mankind at times through the rancid, accusing eyes of satan. I loathe him. He is the universe’s true bastard – for He had a glorious Father, THE glorious Father, and knew it, but rejected Him that he might accuse and savage mankind. But I also have been privileged to see mankind with God’s eyes; to see the feebleness, the deep longing, and the love that often transforms the most bitter foe at a crucial moment. If you have not read it, take a look at this piece. In the late summer and early fall of 1997, just after I finally agreed to live what God had laid out for me definitively and to the best of my ability, my angel was sent to take me into the whirlwind, like Job, to see all of creation, the whole universe, the beginning and the end. Like Job, I understood very little of it…it was far too great for me. But what animated it all was God’s staggering love for us. Every event, every chance acquaintance, is ordered by God that we may turn to Him and live eternity in heaven. The piece was the best I have ever been able to manage in describing it. It was then that I fell head over heels for God’s creation here and learned never to gainsay it.

Our plans mean nothing. It is best to know as little as possible in detail, in order that we are not tempted to formulate more useless plans. The only thing that will put flesh on the bones of our plans is to relentlessly acknowledge God, take the next right step, and be a sign of hope to those around us. Do that and you will be an island of peace and strength throughout the Storm.

Posted in Encouragement, Spiritual Preparation, The Storm | 115 Comments

The Refiner’s Fire with Chris Lyford: TNRP Episode 9

Hey everyone,

Sorry for the break! This podcast was met with many technical difficulties, but persistence brought it to you! Enjoy the episode! Chris’ websites are in the show notes and linked below!

-Chaz

chrislyford.wordpress.com

srdiocese.org/signofhope

Posted in Podcast | 33 Comments