What is Truth?

light in the forest

(This article, as I worked on it a few weeks ago, was much longer. The shorter version here is much better.

I was asking my Mother, who passed on three and a half years ago, for help to make this shorter. I keep an old King James Bible that was her Mother’s and passed on to me by my dear Grandmother. I use it to look up verses, particularly in the Psalms. Just before I finished this article, while looking through it, a note dropped out. It is from my Mom, in her hand. I never saw it before today. It says:

“Merry Christmas. Even though we are apart at Chrismas time this year, we still can share the day in heart, for thoughts will keep us near! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.”

I have been getting little convulsions of tears ever since it fell into my lap. And now, the truth:

By Charlie Johnston

A friend told me of a visit to his Parish by his Bishop. All were very excited because the Bishop had not visited in 15 years. The local radio station came out to tape the homily. My friend said it was a nice enough homily, but bland and boring. Afterwards, the Bishop spoke to parishioners who wanted to stay, but without the radio station present. The Bishop’s comments at this meeting were profound, relevant, candid and deeply inspirational, my friend said. He was disappointed the Bishop had not shared this hopeful, powerful message when the tape was recording.

Jesus said He is the Good Shepherd and His sheep will recognize His voice. (John 10:27-33).

Speaking the truth is not merely a matter of saying things that are true: it involves addressing those things that matter to the listeners, that give them hope and fill them with wisdom. When confronted with a tragedy in the community, you could give a dissertation on mathematics that was entirely true and deeply insightful. But it would not be truth – and it would leave the listeners cold, for its purpose would be to avoid, rather than confront, the reality burdening everyone’s heart. In fact, that is often the purpose of publicly proclaiming things that are accurate, but irrelevant to what people need.

It is a great evil of our age. People – and pastors – are so afraid of giving offense that they speak irrelevant pabulum, all of it true, then wonder why people don’t listen to them or take heart in what they say. It is, in fact, an effort to avoid our fundamental responsibility to our brothers and sisters. The Master’s voice is not in it. And so, those playing it safe, being neither hot nor cold, will be spewed out of the Master’s mouth. Here, then, on this Christmas, are my seven characteristics of how to recognize truth – and how to speak it.

1)      It must be true. That is a beginning, not an end. It is the indispensable raw material with which you must work.

2)      It must be relevant. It must engage people, deal clearly with what is on their minds and in their hearts. Citing a mathematical table in the aftermath of a tragedy to comfort the mourners may be true, but has nothing to do with the truth they need.

3)      It must be candid. Sensitive, yes, but to expel the elephant from the room, you must first acknowledge he is there. If you avoid what is central to troubles around you, you are not dealing with truth. You may, for a time, delay grappling with it for strategic reasons, to nurture more favorable circumstances and strengthen the relationship before tackling troubling issues, but if you find yourself delaying it interminably, you are avoiding truth, not seeking it.

4)      It must be charitable. Walk a virtual mile in the shoes of those around you, that you may get a sense of those around you. Do not be one who prides himself on his brutal honesty. Most such are far more interested in the brutality than they are the honesty.

5)      It must be respectful. Too many people think to speak truth is merely to harangue others to believe precisely what they do. That is not truth, but only overbearing boorishness, the kind the Pharisees inflicted on all who were not already part of their little clerisy. “They bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with their finger. They do all their deeds to be seen by men…and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues, and the salutations in the marketplaces…” – Matthew 23:4-7 Respect the consciences of others as you demand they respect yours, Then you can speak truth to one another, as Job and God spoke truth to one another.

6)      It must be humble. Unless you are actually God, the only truth you can speak objectively is from Scripture and the Magisterium. Even then, you must be docile to the formal teaching of the Church, lest you misinterpret those truths. That requires humility. And even then, if you are talking to someone of another faith, you must respect their conscience and so, not pound them with such truths as bombastic commandments, lest you drive them away and have their blood to account for before God. Speak as what you are: a man who is called to help other men find the joy of God – and to live as true neighbor to them.

When we hear something true, we often shrug our shoulders and think, “So what.” When we hear truth, our hearts burn within us.

I was deeply saddened, but not at all surprised, to see this survey showing that, routinely, about a fifth of Christian Pastors do not believe in the Virgin Birth or the literal Resurrection. It baffles me why people would give their lives in service to what they believe to be a fraud. Oh, I know, the “Jesus was a good moral teacher…” line. That is for courteous atheists, not Christian Pastors. At bottom, to believe there could not have been a Virgin Birth or a Resurrection is to believe God has no power…and ultimately that there is no God at all. One might carry on, recognizing that the habits of mind and heart engendered by faith are indispensable to a peaceful social order, to interacting well with one another. Some of the deist agnostics among the American founders recognized this. But that is to fend off the darkness with entirely inadequate means, and must ever end in despair. “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile…” I Corinthians 15:17 Even in St. Paul’s day, some believed these things to be hopeful myths. St. Paul bluntly rebuked them, telling them if they do not believe in the central points, their faith is in vain…and they would be better off as honest disbelievers. In these times, when the forces of secularism are ascendant, when secularists think they have found rigorous “truth,” even as we have cured so many diseases and improved medical care, the death rate is going up. More people are committing suicide, giving in to the despair of living joyless, endless days of quiet desperation where there is no truth, there is no joy, there is no fellowship one with another – only brief sensations punctuating unending sorrow and hopelessness.

This brings me to the seventh characteristic of truth: all truth, all that brings life and hope and peace and fellowship springs from Him who came to us in a manger two millennia ago. Many things that might be true, if not grounded in Him, do not rise to the level of truth. They shall never make our hearts burn within us.

So to Pastors who doubt, I say, pray. Ask the Lord to reveal Himself to you – and pray with the father of the son who was delivered from a demon, “I believe; help my unbelief!” – Mark 9:24 If you cannot believe it at all, for your own sake, resign the ministry. God IS…and you will be held to account. “It would be better for him if a millstone were hung round his neck and he were cast into the sea, than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin.” – Luke 17:2 If you are teaching, from a position of authority, that the fundamentals of the faith are frauds; if you have deceived yourself that Christ is your creation rather than you, His; get out. You will cause His little ones to sin – and I shudder to contemplate the accounting you will face.

For those of you here, my dear companions, go forth and speak the truth boldly…the truth that begins in a manger. It is a cardinal act of mercy in this year of mercy. Live it every day. Tell the people in darkness that there is hope, there is joy, we are made for God and will live with Him forever – and He calls us to love each other, care for each other, and build each other up. Do this and you will be a light breaking through the darkness of modern despair. If enough of you do it with fortitude, then truly, just a few Christmas’s hence, all the world will say, in wonder,  “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.” – Isaiah 9:2

That is truth.

About charliej373

Charlie Johnston is a former newspaper editor, radio talk show host and political consultant. From Feb. 11, 2011 to Aug. 21, 2012, he walked 3,200 miles across the country, sleeping in the woods, meeting people and praying as he went. He has received prophetic visitation all his life, which he has vetted through a trio of priests over the last 20 years, and now speaks publicly about on this site. Yet he emphasizes that we find God most surely through the ordinary, doing the little things we should with faith and fidelity. Hence the name, The Next Right Step. The visitations inform his work, but are not the focus of it. He lives in the Archdiocese of Denver in the United States.
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196 Responses to What is Truth?

  1. Tom says:

    That was a very nice Christmas present that I needed to hear. So thank you. I wish I had as nice a gift to present to you but hopefully my prayer for God to continue to bless and fortify you will suffice. Merry Christmas, Charlie 🙂

    Liked by 8 people

    • Joe Crozier says:

      Merry Christmas Charlie and a good new year.
      We preach no clever philosophy but only Christ crucified St Paul tells us. But philosophy has its place, perhaps not so much in preaching the gospel, but definitely in our search for the truth. In this search our starting point is quite important insofar as it orientates us in the direction of the answer. If we start facing the wrong way we may end up in the wrong place. Pilates question was the wrong starting point. It was the wrong question. He should not have asked “What is truth?” but “Who is truth?” Then he would have seen the Truth staring him right in the face. But even then there are none so blind as those who will not see, those who will not face up to the Truth. Fortunately for many, in the correction of conscience we will be forced to face the truth but some still be inclined to reject it and turn away. From what I have read ‘some” will become ‘many’ and then will come the Great Chastisement when the conditions for avoiding it are not met. Pilate saw Jesus was innocent but did not have the courage of his conviction. He handed him over to his murderers. I pray we find the courage and determination to face the revealed truth about ourselves that we would rather not see and humbly admit our guilt, tell Him we are sorry, ask for forgiveness and say “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner. Help me to obey your will.” All we have to do is face Jesus in His love and mercy and we will recognize and know The Truth. No wonder the seers from Garabandal feel we Catholics will survive the Warning better. We have Confession. We have Communion.
      (Charlie, if you feel this is too preachy just delete it. I am not a preacher or a teacher.)

      Liked by 3 people

  2. John OBrien says:

    Merry Christmas Charlie, I’m a fairly new reader from St. Louis. As an old newspaper editor I appreciate your seasoned writing skills but, moreover, I admire your thinking skills manifested in your talent for getting a solid grip on your topic and bringing your case to a fine point. I’m also comforted by your association with priests of The Work– we have benefitted mightily in the St. Louis area from their wise and prudent influence here for many decades. Allow me to express also my gratitude for coming upon your writings which have provided a stable perspective with which to move through the times ahead.

    With kind Regards,

    John

    >

    Liked by 13 people

  3. John OBrien says:

    PS… I lost my Mother three years ago also and your opening paragraph really got me!

    Regards,

    John

    >

    Liked by 6 people

    • Mick says:

      John, I’m a couple days behind on posts and so I missed the initial welcome wagon; but I wanted to tell you how glad we all are to have you here among us. Also, I saw that you are familiar with The Work. My husband is a supernumerary, and I’m always glad to see other friends of The Work here. Merry Christmas!

      Like

  4. vvtaranto@aol.com says:

    Thank you Charlie for this wonderful message…. God Bless you and we wish you and your family a wonderful and joyous Christmas!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Blessed Christmas Charlie and all here! I have been silent in the comments, but I carry you all in my heart. Maranatha! He is near!

    Liked by 9 people

  6. Beckita says:

    Thank you, Charlie. I just had a long conversation, as I sat in the chair of my hair stylist, yesterday about faith, the state of the world today, divisions among Christians, etc. and it was a most fruitful exchange with mutual honoring of where each of us was in our understanding of truth in the things of which we spoke. (I kept internally asking the Holy Spirit to guide me.)

    She LOVES Jesus, strives to serve Him and is heartsick at how people who call themselves Christian bend the laws of God.She beautifully said she wasn’t sure whether or not to believe much of what I was saying but surely knew we can’t go on like this. Then her eyes lit up at the prospect of God bringing unity as a fruit of the Storm and Rescue.

    As she poured out her heart professing the great Mercy of God, I felt led to say she will be a great advocate for His Mercy as the Storm intensifies. See, I think there will be people who, in their conversion, will doubt that God could really forgive all they have done. I shared this with my stylist and acknowledged her vast influence in the community since it takes more than three weeks to get an appointment with her. When I spoke the idea of her advocating for the reality of God’s Mercy, she burst into tears saying all she has ever wanted to be is Christ’s blessing to others. It was a rich conversation to the end.

    Lifting you in prayer Charlie as your heart is full with so much this Christmas.

    (BTW, she is the leading expert in hair extensions in this little city, YD, and I’m NOT kidding. Wanna’ visit? MP would be very jealous since he knows the landscape here. Did you catch his online sigh the other day?)

    Continued prayers for all as we Welcome the Child, once again!

    Liked by 17 people

    • charliej373 says:

      Oh, God bless you, Beckita. You have been a sign of hope to one who can be a sign of hope to many more. God bless both you and that good woman.

      Liked by 9 people

    • YongDuk says:

      I would laugh. Imagine me visiting?

      Liked by 2 people

      • Beckita says:

        Nothing is impossible for God, YD.
        PS I would laugh as well!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Julie says:

          I am in awe too of how Charlie can express so clearly what His message is. I am also in awe of how others in this “take the right step” family are so articulate and inspirational. I am not the most articulate person and I stumble over my words a lot. I am concerned that I will have a hard time conveying the message of hope when it is needed. I am in the bereavement ministry and I have, however, found I do have a gift from God to comfort those that are grieving because of my own experience of going through a tragic loss. Anyway, Charlie, I thought about you on Christmas and your comments about enjoying Christmas. The joy in your heart for this day was contagious. Thank you!

          Liked by 7 people

          • prayingflower says:

            In the final analysis, Julie, all we really need is Love. You are obviously committed to that. Keep it simple and continue to emulate Mary. Comforting God’s people is no small thing. God bless you and those to whom your minister.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Julie says:

            Sweet Prayingflower, thank you for your response. The will is there, but “simple” I am. I am so happy to see miracles performed on people every day in this TNRS family through Charlie and the encouraging words from others. I am not a very lighthearted person, but I have experienced joy and hope and this blog has changed and comforted me. Merry Christmas to all here as we continue through this holy season.

            Liked by 4 people

          • Doug says:

            I think you do just fine writing Julie. Very heart felt.

            Liked by 3 people

          • Julie says:

            Thank you, Doug! 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

          • Beckita says:

            Julie, I agree with Prayingflower. Thank you for your ministry of love. LOVE… the measure of our judgment at the end of earthly life. I know your love poured out on those grieving, mourning souls has a ripple effect throughout the entire Mystical Body of Christ, so we are all affected by your FIAT and evil is diminished in every time you offer comfort for those in need. Each.of.us. is so important to God. Each of us has a mission. Praying in gratitude for you and your mission, Julie. Praying, too: God bless you, your family and all to whom you minister.

            Liked by 2 people

          • Julie says:

            Oh, Beckita, thank you!! Everyone’s responses made my day! What a great way to start my day! O.k….time to clean my house!

            Liked by 3 people

          • Mick says:

            Julie, I didn’t see you tripping on any words! I believe that God is going to use you and your gifts in a huge way as the Storm deepens. God bless you.

            Like

    • jaykay says:

      Ahh, Beckita, that was a truly beautiful witness. I love that you invoked the Holy Spirit. Would that I could do that, especially, yes, especially when those I may be talking to are, ummm, not especially sympathetic. Because the high horse ain’t never far from me, nope, and the temptation to mount-up and grandstand beckons all too alluringly. What a way to drive souls away! But how satisfying for me to show off; meanwhile a damaged soul receives more… damage.

      Well, with God’s help, I’ll work on that. But your posts like yours really help to ensure I remember to keep that pride in check. And remember the true needs of those I’m with, putting myself down and raising them up, unobtrusively, and remembering to give God the glory if I have some success. Not that I exactly go out of my lazy way to evangelise…

      Anyway, just back from our Christmas Night Mass. It was beautiful. Singing again tomorrow morning. It’ll be lovely also but… the night Mass is really different, and in truth I always loved Christmas Eve. Earth wedded to Heaven, my very Catholic upbringing ensured we didn’t lose focus on the reality of the Feast. Lord, may I have the grace to truly pass that on, and keep at it in the year ahead. As you’ve done, Beckita, may I trust the Holy Spirit and invoke Him for this. So, once again, true blessings and peace to all here for this Holy Season. Could I post a verse of a very good old Irish carol, the Wexford Carol; many of you may have heard it. If not, please do look it up. It says it all, I think:

      Good people all this Christmas time,
      consider well and bear in mind,
      what our good God for us hath done,
      in sending His beloved Son.
      With Mary holy we should pray,
      to God with love this Christmas day.
      In Bethlehem upon that morn,
      there was a blessed Messiah born.

      It’s a folk carol that resonates with pure faith, and truth. The melody is beautifully resonant, as all the best carols are. I hope you’ll be encouraged to look it up. So, best wishes for a holy and blessed Christmas. J.

      Liked by 6 people

      • JoyInTheLord says:

        Thank you for sharing that Irish carol, JayKay. I have been hearing that same message these past two days. Amazing Love of God.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Beckita says:

        Thanks, Jaykay. Listening to the carol right now. What a lovely and haunting melody with meditative lyrics. I have a wee bit of Irish on my paternal side and only in later life discovered it and even later claimed it for the gift the Irish truly are. Such rich heritage and culture!!! Just imagine the new expressions of manifold cultural talents waiting to unfold, in song, poetry and prose, as the people of Ireland, once again, in the depths of the Storm fall on bended knee before the manger in their hearts. Merry, Happy, Holy Christmas, to you and All, Jaykay!

        Liked by 3 people

      • Mick says:

        Thank you, Jaykay. I just listened to the Wexford Carol as sung by Alison Krauss, who was accompanied by Yo-Yo Ma on the cello. My, was that a treat! Like others here, I love Irish folk carols and Irish hymnody. I also have a wee bit of Irish in me (probably wee-er than your wee bit, Beckita). But I consider that small trace of Irish blood to be a great gift. To me, it is a connection with a great culture; but, even more, it is the connection to the Church and the ancient Faith that I cherish (especially given that I am a convert to Catholicism). God bless!

        Liked by 1 person

  7. MarieUrsula says:

    Thank you, Charlie. These seven characteristics of truth give me much to consider.

    Also, I found this image on another website and “lifted” it for my FB page. Let’s see if I can post it here. I think it is very beautiful. Merry Christmas, everyone:

    Mary-Pregnant-with-Jesus-900.jpg

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Doug says:

    Spoken with truth and clarity!

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Kim sevier says:

    Merry Christmas dear Charlie and all here. You follow your prescription for telling truth and that is why so many are drawn here and stay here. God bless and keep you. And— my squirrel ornament arrived today. Just in time for our Savior’s birth!

    Liked by 7 people

  10. prayingflower says:

    You have given us a great deal to ponder, Charlie, as you always do. During this Christmas season I look forward to deeply pondering this message with Mary. Your sharing of your experience with your earthly mother was very touching. Thank you for that glimpse into a sweet relationship. May you find rest at the crib during this holy Season. We will be praying for you.

    Liked by 4 people

  11. Matthew says:

    Charlie:
    “the death rate is going up”! With the possibility of some ancient exceptions, I always thought the mortality rate was continuing at 100%. :^)
    Thanks for another great column. I am officially on my leave of absence from my teaching position as I move into a parish assignment in Michigan’s UP to explore the possibility of priesthood there. As I left the school I really tried to instill in my seniors the necessity of being both a hopeful support and a healthy challenge to each other – real brothers.
    Prayers please as I work to take the next right steps in the tasks of putting personal items (way too many of them) in storage, purge the stuff that is not really necessary (lots of that too) and arrange for the successful sale of my house in the next few weeks.
    A JOY-FILLED CHRISTMAS TO ALL HERE!
    PAX,
    Mathew

    Liked by 7 people

  12. Gabrielle says:

    Charlie, you hit me hard when you wrote this, “I was deeply saddened, but not at all surprised, to see this survey showing that, routinely, about a fifth of Christian Pastors do not believe in the Virgin Birth or the literal Resurrection. It baffles me why people would give their lives in service to what they believe to be a fraud. Oh, I know, the “Jesus was a good moral teacher…” line. That is for courteous atheists, not Christian Pastors. At bottom, to believe there could not have been a Virgin Birth or a Resurrection is to believe God has no power…and ultimately that there is no God at all.”

    Recently, I was able to start a soup kitchen with a wonderful woman at church who is a third order Servite (Joyfully, I made my promise to become a third order Servite on December 8th), is a Eucharistic minster, attends church faithfully, and is a social worker by profession. She seems to be a warm and loving person. The other day at the soup kitchen she started telling me that she doesn’t believe in the Resurrection. She doesn’t believe in the Eucharist. And, she believe that Jesus was married. I felt like someone punched me in the stomach as she was saying all of this. I do not wish to judge her. Yet, I have really been struggling being her friend since this happened. I am still not sure how to navigate this situation but at least I don’t feel guilty for being so horrified by her beliefs. Thank you!

    Merry Christmas, everyone!!

    Liked by 3 people

    • charliej373 says:

      I’m glad it helped, Gabrielle. Though your friend doesn’t know it, she is already well down the road to despair…for this is a cry that there is no God, hoping one can hold back the despair by engaging in good works…or social work. Our duty is to proclaim it by living it – and then proclaiming what animates us..the

        Living Christ!

      Liked by 5 people

    • Doug says:

      Gabrielle, Have you heard of Medjugorje? Try a nice book or article on Medjugorje. You may be surprised there. Wayne Weible wrote a couple of good ones “Medjugorje” and “The last Apparition”. Merry Christmas.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Gabrielle says:

        Hi Doug, Merry Christmas. I have heard and studied about Medjugorje. I am wondering if you are referring to the messages in which Mary was reported to have said that there is no religion, it is a man made creation? I understand that. It is just an odd contradiction to be a practicing Catholic and not believe in it. Why do that to one’s self? If that is not what you meant, please feel free to clarify. Thank you!

        Liked by 1 person

        • charliej373 says:

          I think I must have misunderstood what you mean, Gabrielle. There are no such messages. The closest I can come to is where Our Lady says in heaven they love people of all religions. Some have tried to twist that to mean all religions are equally true – but that is not what is said at all. Of course, it would be incoherent and bizarre to report that an apparition had said there was no religion and, thus, no apparitions. Are you speaking, perhaps, of some of the tendentious crank sites that make things up about Medjugorje just to discredit them? Doug said nothing at all about not believing in Medjugorje, so I am struggling to figure what you are getting at.

          Like

          • Gabrielle says:

            I was trying to piece together Doug’s reference to Medjugorje. Actually, the lady I work with at the soup kitchen literally quoted that to me the other day, that Mary said that religions are all man made, so I guess that is why I referenced it. I am still not sure what Doug’s point was exactly. I am open to understanding it, just asking for clarification. I researched the author he referenced but all I was able to find were various people attacking that author for his point of view on Medjugorje. So, I guess I am out of the loop here and need someone to spell it out more clearly to me. I am in no way trying to be disrespectful. I am just confused. Thank you!
            BTW-Sorry I was unclear in some of my comments. What I was saying about not believing was a reference to the lady at the soup kitchen and not Doug. She is a devoutly practicing Catholic (3rd order Servite, Eucharistic minister, weekly church goer) yet she doesn’t believe in any of what the Church teaches I have a hard time understanding why she does all of it if she doesn’t believe in any of it.

            Like

          • charliej373 says:

            Thanks for clearing it up, Gabrielle. Unfortunately, when something grows in public attention, there are always those who attack it – and just make stuff up. The lady you work with either did that or heard from somebody else who made that up. That is a strange one, though, that even a little basic logic should have told her couldn’t be true: the idea that the Mother of God would appear in an apparition to say God does not exist is just downright bizarre.

            Liked by 2 people

          • Doug says:

            Hey Gabrielle, I should have been more clear. What I meant was to pick up either of the two books (or maybe something else) and offer one to your friend. Medjugorje was a strong awakening in me towards the Catholic faith. I have experienced healing and miracles as a result of Medjugorje and it brought me into the Catholic Church. Many graces are flowing from Medjugorje and very often and easily receiced through being open to it. I was thinking that if you got her one of the two books and offer it to her and she read it, it could awaken her faith. Does that make more sense? God bless you and Merry Christmas.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Doug says:

            Gabrielle, There is nothing coming out of Medjugorje that claims Mary said religions are man made.

            Liked by 2 people

        • Patrick of South Dakota says:

          I stay close only to those apparitions that Holy Mother Church has approved (since Medjugorje was nearly a deal-breaker for me).

          I love deeply Our Lady of Fatima and Our Lady of Lourdes. Medjugorje may yet be shown to be related to them, but the messages of those two earlier apparitions stand independently and sufficiently unto themselves.

          I praise God for the fruits that abound from that town in Herzegovina, however the confusion surrounding it has obscured the truth, making it nearly possible for us Marian “researchers” to corroborate. It’s also OK if you chose not to personally follow Medjugorje while it awaits approval (and even if it has approval) as the messages do not necessarily speak to every person.

          I have pretty much stopped my curiosity-seeking with apparitions. I have consecrated myself to Our Lady of Tepeyac on December 12, 2008, I pray before her miraculous image every day since, honoring her and worshipping her divine Son, and I let her guide me spiritually every day — in ways that require no words.

          Like

          • Doug says:

            Hi Patrick, I respect your position on Medjugorje and agree with what you say. I would like to add though that all apparitions were not approved at one point. The church must exercise prudence. Ultimately, I will defer to the church on the final decision. In the mean time, the fruits have been born out in my and my and my wife’s life as we have gone through a spiritual transformation due to Medjugorje. It has brought me into the Catholic church from a protestant denomination that was very anti catholic.

            I see where there has been a lot of commercialism around Medjugorje, but that is a side affect of folks capitalizing on the millions of people that go there. I have been to Lords and the same is true there as well. When one walks off the church property at Lords, one is bombarded with comercialism. Aslo, where there is great spiritual work, the evil one will try to sow seeds of doubt through confusion which is no surprise to me. One may have to sift through this to find the truth. If Medjugorje is not deemed of super natural origin by the church, it would be a surprise as it is bringing people into the faith in the 100s of thousands along with creating more priestly vocations than any other event in modern history.

            On my last trip there which was last month, I experienced a very distinct interior healing for something I have been struggling with for years. My trips there or interest have never been out of vain curiosity. The first article I read on it back in 1987, I knew interiorly right away it was real. My desire to go there was as a thank you to God who at that time gave me a gift of grace and also for what God did for my wife who had a dramatic physical and spiritual healing that saved our marriage and family. The trip I went on was purely as a thank you to God with no intent to be Catholic. On this trip, I fell head over heals in love with the Catholic faith and decided to go through RCIA and become Catholic. For me, it was like coming home.

            One thing that really struck me on my last trip were the lines for confession. On a Saturday evening, the confessional lines in front of about 20 confessional booths were 5 to 10 deep. If this is not from God and is from the evil one, he is failing most miserably with all the heart felt conversions. I sent Charlie a picture of this if he cares to post at some point.

            Again, I will ultimately defer to the church on the final decision and trust she will act with prudence. Of course, if the opinion is negative, I will be disappointed, but will also view this as a test of obedience. There has also been past apparitions that were disapproved and later approved. So i am not overly concerned. I trust God and I trust the Church. In the mean time, the church has not condemned it and I will take advantage of the fruits.

            I still want to share a beer with you and ponder the wonderment of God’s creation. God bless you and Merry Christmas!

            Liked by 4 people

          • charliej373 says:

            Oh yes, Doug, I have the picture filed away for future use. As I was reading this, I was thanking God about something. This is the only forum I am aware of where people speak respectfully, even lovingly to each other both pro and con on Medjugorje. It just struck me how many subjects we discuss like loving family around the table that, just about anywhere else, would become the cause of bitter invective and a full-on food fight. I thank God – and thank all of you. We really have begun to act as the Family of God here.

            Liked by 4 people

          • Patrick of South Dakota says:

            Dear Doug, thank you for your beautiful story.

            I can only reiterate: Praise God! How blessed are you and your family to have an intimate encounter with the Blessed Mother and Our Lord in such a dramatic way!! I mean this from the bottom of my heart. It really does appear that Mary is lassoing thousands and thousands of people with her Rosary and her messages. My opinions about the apparition are utterly immaterial.

            I also feel a particularly strong joy in my heart when I hear about lines to confession. That can only come from God, and it makes the devil cringe. Two of my favorite saints are Padre Pio and the Cure D’Ars, both heroes of the confessional who did immense work for the salvation of souls and the greater glory of God.

            I have confidence, too, believe it or not, that our Church will find Medjugorje to be authentic. Frankly, I’m a little sad that it just doesn’t quite work for me, but I still hear Her voice from other seers from different times.

            God bless you and your family!
            Patrick

            Liked by 4 people

          • Doug says:

            Hi Patrick, as long as you have your faith, that is fine and is what counts. Thus, I rejoice. I write this probably more with an eye for those who are reading and searching with hopes that they may discover Jesus and the Blessed Mother in a special way. The Blessed Mother has a special place in my heart. God bless!

            Liked by 2 people

    • Beckita says:

      Gabrielle, I was taught by Servite Sisters for nine years at Immaculate Conception School in Sioux City, Iowa. I will pray the Prayer of Miraculous Trust and call upon the Intercession of Our Lady the Immaculate Conception for this woman who is in such a serious crisis of faith. Lifting you in prayer as well for peace, fortitude, wisdom and discernment. May the Prince of Peace restore your equilibrium and fill you with JOY!

      Liked by 3 people

  13. Marita says:

    Have a very Merry Christmas Charlie, and a blessed New Year, whatever it holds. I wish all the “Next Right Steppers” the same. God bless us everyone!!!!

    Liked by 6 people

  14. Michael King says:

    Merry Christmas Charlie. Thanks so much for this meditation, it is an awesome example of the truth! You’ve helped to inspire me for the next Mass.

    Father Michael King

    Liked by 10 people

    • charliej373 says:

      God bless you, Father Michael. That is also one of my great joys this last year…I have had the privilege of hearing from a number of priests who have told me I have inspired them and given them new hope. That gives me great joy…makes me feel like I am running a sort of spiritual USO on the front lines. For I tell you, I know very well you are all on the front lines…and how I want to hearten and support you!

      Liked by 12 people

    • victura98 says:

      I will reiterate Fr. Michael’s sentiment. I read “What is Truth” before preaching Christmas Eve, and it’s message also inspired this weary soul. 🙂

      Liked by 7 people

  15. starxedee says:

    Thank you for this piece Charlie! A merry and blessed Christmas to all the NRS family here.

    Liked by 5 people

  16. Carmel says:

    Praying that Charlie and all readers here receive abundant blessings in this holy season. Thank you Charlie for your commitment and good humour, and all commenters for your sharing. Christmas Day is well advanced here ‘down under’. At the end of midnight Mass the choir sang the Hallelujah Chorus and the message of hope in this magnificent hymn – “He shall reign forever” – really leapt out for me. May hope and peace be His gifts to you all this Christmas.

    Liked by 4 people

    • charliej373 says:

      Merry Christmas to all you Aussies. I love you guys!

      Liked by 2 people

      • anne ovari says:

        Thank you Charlie. I know I’m a bit late, but sending you Christmas wishes and blessings back to you from right at the bottom of ‘down under’. The joy of Christmas should always be in our hearts to help us get through all of our difficulties. Hoping everyone here had a peaceful and happy Christmas. May the Infant Jesus bless us all.

        Liked by 5 people

        • Mick says:

          Hey, Anne, Christmas season lasts until Candlemas on February 2 (at least for fans of the Tridentine Mass; can’t remember when it ends in the Novus Ordo); so the way I see it, you’re right on time. Merry Christmas! 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

      • anne says:

        Yes ……..Merry Christmas and abundant blessings for 2016 from Down Under. taken me awhile as have to use library for computer at present.

        Liked by 1 person

  17. docallanw says:

    Thanks for this gift of truth, Charlie! A blessed Christmas to you and all the family here!

    Liked by 3 people

  18. Mary McBride says:

    Thanks Charlie! I wish you all the spectacular, magic heaven sent moments of this beautiful Feast of the Incarnation!

    Sent from my iPad

    Liked by 2 people

  19. SteveBC says:

    To Charlie and all in this excellent community, MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!

    Liked by 12 people

  20. Christiaria says:

    What a beautiful Christmas gift from your sweet mother, Charlie (and from the Lord)! I got a lump in my throat as you shared what it meant to you. This is the communion of saints in action.

    I don’t know if you’re familiar with Fr. John Riccardo in Detroit, but he preaches with such relevance, clarity, charity and wisdom, my heart burns with a “Yes!” every time I hear his podcast or inbCatholic radio. I highly recommend the free downloads of his show, “Christ is the Answer” at https://avemariaradio.net/program/christ-is-the-answer. Just listen to one show–it’s time well spent.

    May God bless you and yours this Christmas and always. You are a blessing!

    Kitty

    Liked by 5 people

  21. Don_D says:

    Merry Christmas everyone and thanks for a thoughtful article Charlie.

    I was browsing today on a BBS I follow. There was a post there regarding the Pope stating that this may be the last Christmas for many and that the world will look indistinguishable next year this time, followed by a whole lot of negative comments. It struck me that so much of what the Pope says is either taken completely out of context or deliberately twisted by the media and sometimes by those within the Church itself. Truth these days is in very short supply. We must all be very discerning about what we believe and judge it very carefully.

    To defend the faith is a very frustrating en devour I have found because most hold so firmly to their beliefs that its as if you are speaking another language and they simply can not hear what it is you are saying. I am beginning to think it pointless and instead offer my prayers to the Lord to call them to him. Maybe then they will have ears to hear.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Lily says:

      I notice this a lot in my circle of people, that I feel like I am speaking another language and they don’t understand. It is such a disconnected feeling.

      Happily, we are having a wonderful Christmas though, at least in our little family. At the Christmas Eve service, we sung the favorite traditional carols, listened to the reading of the story in Luke (mixed with carols), and to me at least, I felt like the whole church was loving and worshipping God. My husband and I, surrounded by our 4 kids, singing and worshipping together, and smiling and loving each other as we sang, surrounded by friends and strangers doing the same thing with their loved ones.

      The thought crossed my mind a week or so ago, about these little kids being God’s love to me, how they love me so deeply, so unconditionally. How that is sometimes so hard to recieve, in my brokenness and sin. That I need to chill and open my arms and heart a little more intentionally to pause all the things that need doing to just recieve that love from them and God.

      Merry Christmas all!

      Liked by 4 people

      • Joe says:

        Lily, I envy you right now. I have 4 children (6, 4, 2, 8 mo) and my experience of Mass with them is not anything you describe above. I go to daily mass to make up for the lost graces i get on Sunday hahaha. Seriously though, i havent heard a homily in about 4 years. Although at my parish that isnt such a bad thing…we dont have homilies any longer, we have sermons. They havent preached about the week’s gospel is quite some time. We didnt even kneel during the “by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary and became man.” Part of the Creed today. It is very disheartening, but unfortunately is something we have had to deal with for as long as I’ve been a parishioner. Please pray for us and our parish. There is a growing number of people who are yearning to be fed and are bringing in outside speakers to feed us. It doesnt carry over to Sunday, but it is a start.

        Liked by 1 person

        • zeniazenia says:

          Hi Joe, You are probably receiving more graces on Sunday. 🙂 Your desire to be fed will not fall on deaf ears, but the important work is your attendance and participation at Mass however clumsy it may feel with the distractions and whatever else feels lacking. Offer your difficulties every morning and at the Prayer of the Faithful. The angels and saints take those offerings for you to the Throne of Almighty God in heaven!. We will pray for your parish. –Jane

          Liked by 2 people

        • Beckita says:

          Praying for you and your parish, Joe. Not much longer and the common yearning to be fed will be richly fulfilled!

          Liked by 1 person

        • Lily says:

          My experience is not always like this either, Joe. It was a very special Christmas present to me from God our Father, because He knows it is my hearts desire. As I think about it like this, I am even more thankful – I hadn’t even realized this until now. I am learning how to be with my kids and how to show love to them, and teach them in a way that makes sense to them – I am realizing that they need different things than me. Ha ha, maybe that is obvious, but I don’t know anything about kids other than the little I’ve learned about and from mine. Parenting is not easy!

          We actually didn’t regularly attend any church for almost 3 years (it was extremely sporadic), because it was too hard on us with our little kids. We literally took sunday to rest and do almost nothing. Maybe that’s ok, or maybe it’s a lame excuse. The last two of those years were not my best years ever – it’s not very fun to see the worst side of yourself. I like to think I’m better, but mostly the kids have grown up a little and I don’t feel the stress like I did. So I could use your prayers too (and/or anyone else’s). I will pray for you too, and your parish.

          Anyway, I have learned to be a lot more thankful, and my main impression from this blog is learning to love and value the ordinary. These things have totally changed my life, and continue to.

          Thanks for your comment, that I could reflect on my Christmas and see God’s present to me. I guess He forgives me after all. ❤

          Liked by 2 people

        • Mick says:

          Joe, I will pray for your family, and for your parish. At times, we’ve been parishioners at a parish like yours, and it’s hard.

          Like you, I haven’t heard a homily in several years. I’m always walking around the vestibule with a very vocal baby or toddler! But God understands and is smiling down on us while we multitask by being as present to Him as we can, while tending to the needs of our kiddos. Keep up the good work! 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

        • Joe says:

          Thank you guys for your prayers! Turns out yesterday at Mass, our pastor not only spoke about the Gospel diring the homily, he had a nice pithy meditation on St. Joseph and the trust and faith he had during this time. Definitely a great blessimg for our parish!
          Now the kids….well, i think God is working on my wife and my patients. Hahaha

          Liked by 1 person

    • Joe says:

      Don, do you have a like to where the Pope says this will be the last one for many, etc? I just read the “Urbi et Orbi” address and didn’t see anything like that in there. Thanks!

      Like

    • zeniazenia says:

      Dear Don, When I discover I am speaking to person who cannot hear Jesus’ message, it seems to me to be exactly similar to asking someone in the kitchen, who does not possess a sense of smell, to enjoy the aromas of the apple pie and the other savory, sweet and spicy smells of a feast, as the rest of us can enjoy. We won’t recoil with despair for them, or become frustrated, but remember the Love of the Father for all His Children. It is our task to be creative in helping them enjoy the feast in the individual way they do have the ability to enjoy. It takes time and a growing trusting relationship. (prayer and fasting for them?) Don’t give up! 🙂 We will have the chance to witness to people at all stage s of conversion. Love Zenia Jane

      Liked by 2 people

  22. JoyInTheLord says:

    Thank you for these true guidelines, Charlie. Merry Christmas to you and to your family, and to all our brothers and sisters here at TNRS.

    Liked by 3 people

  23. chrislyford says:

    Hi Charlie, The story about your Mom’s note made me so happy, I can tell she is proud of you. I thought I would share a reflection I just finished last night for the paper I edit; it seems to be along the same lines as “What is Truth”. You are always in our prayers, keep the San Fran Contingency in yours! A blessed and peace filled Christmas to you and yours! Chris
    ———-
    One of the greatest obstacles in creating a Culture of Life today is the culture of death itself which pervades our society and is promoted and celebrated by those in control of the media sources through the vehicles of movies, music, fashion, and even news. The modern means of communication are not the obstacles; the content delivered by them and the authors of that content are. More substantially the obstacles come in the form of errant philosophies, pseudo truths, pluralism, and postmodern relativism that imbue these media creations to which our society is exposed on a daily basis.
    These seeds of pseudo truth can infect the hearts and minds of our families with the darkness of self deception. In addition, the leaders of our world have systematically passed laws that break down Judeo-Christian principles, facilitated unjust wars abroad, and most devastatingly facilitated the death of millions in the slaughter of the unborn though acts of legislation. Sadly, because of these influences, many of our brothers and sisters have absorbed the myths that this ‘culture of death’ has sown. These seeds of ‘psuedo-truth’ can readily distort a true understanding of essential Catholic teaching on topics like the right to life, the Sacrament of Matrimony, the understanding of homosexuality, and the role of women in the Church.
    Yet all of these obstacles can be overcome with the simple gifts of humility, charity, honesty, and faith. It’s not in the power of our logical argument, but in our living the joy of knowing we are God’s beloved that we can be a sign of hope to others. We all need mercy. And thank God for His mercy! It’s His mercy that reaches into the cave of darkness into which we can wander. He shows us the truth of what our lives are like when we choose our will over His, and still respects our free will to remain in the cave of self deception, or reach out to grasp His outstretched hand. With reckless abandon He strongly seeks any contrite heart in order to flood it with pure light; the light of truth.
    It’s in our own parish community where the signs of hope abound. Every day I see more and more Catholics who have embraced the call to humbly evangelize themselves, their families, and their colleagues, and who are presenting to their ‘worlds’ the challenging merciful Jesus while they exhibit the fruits of the Holy Spirit.
    The social teachings of the Church, the initiatives by our shepherds to make known at the ‘table of the world’ the timeless truths of our faith, and the heroic virtue of all Catholics who have embraced the New Evangelization are all the response of the light of Christ to this culture of death. The 12th annual Walk for Life West Coast to take place on January 23rd represents a work dedicated to the public interaction between our basic belief in the dignity of human life itself, and our socio-political culture. It’s the image (and reality) of the Catholic Church walking the streets of San Francisco. This symbolic ‘front line’ of the culture war is primarily an event to show our support for the dignity of human life through faithful citizenship and political action, yet it serves as a rallying point for much more.
    It’s the rallying point for all who have chosen to defend the Faith, hearten the faithful, and defend the faithful.

    Liked by 1 person

    • charliej373 says:

      I tried top give you a call a month or so ago, Chris, but they told me your number had changed without actually giving me your new number.

      Liked by 1 person

      • chrislyford says:

        LOL, yes, remember you called shortly after your visit and asked if there was any ‘fallout’, and I said ‘no’ not that I can see. Then ‘BOOM’ they informed me that I was no longer needed, etc. So Vickie rightfully said “we need to praise God now” to which I replied “yup” and as we did, things opened up and now I am the communications director for the Santa Rosa Diocese w/ Bishop Vasa, where I edit the paper among other things. God moves fast. You are always in our prayers friend! With love, Chris and the rest of the Lyfords: Vickie, Luke, James and Shaina.

        Liked by 1 person

        • charliej373 says:

          Glad to hear from you, Chris. I edited out your new phone number, but took it down for myself. Tell Vicky and the family I said Hi. Congratulations on landing on your feet.

          Like

        • MarieUrsula says:

          God is good, Chris. I have very positive memories of Bishop Vasa when he was bishop in my diocese. I found him very approachable (if one called the main number for the chancery, he often answered), conscientious about his role, strong, and fair. God bless you and your family in your life and work there.

          Like

          • chrislyford says:

            Thanks Marie Ursula, and yes, the Bishop stops by my office often to chat (not something I have experienced before). Or, I will see him walk by on his way to the chapel at various times of the day to make a visit. He is living his role as a shepherd to the very best of his ability. That’s why I always ask people to hold him up in prayer!

            Liked by 2 people

    • Mick says:

      Wonderful piece, Chris. Thanks for sharing it with us.

      Like

  24. naisy says:

    True
    Relevant
    Candid
    Charitable
    Respectful
    Humble

    Like

    • charliej373 says:

      Don’t forget the key to it all – Christ.

      Liked by 4 people

      • Christiaria says:

        Charitable
        Humble
        Relevant
        I (?–help me out here)
        Sincere (sincerely candid?)
        True

        Liked by 3 people

        • charliej373 says:

          Gosh Kitty, all I can think of offhand are incisive or inspiring – and they don’t quite fit, I don’t think.

          Liked by 2 people

        • zeniazenia says:

          INRI ?

          Like

        • Spelling out CHRIST… Love it Kitty!
          Especially with the Charlie’s 7th characteristic, “All truth… springs from Him”

          C – Charitable
          H – Humble
          R – Relevant
          I –
          S – Sincerely Candid
          T – True

          How about “I” for “In Love”? The 5th characteristic of recognizing and speaking truth is, “It must be respectful.” And how do we respect others? We follow His commandment … “that you love one another, just as I have loved you.” John 15:12.
          Just a humble suggestion☺

          Christmas Blessings to All!

          Liked by 2 people

        • Kim sevier says:

          Imbued? Innocent?

          Liked by 1 person

        • Kim sevier says:

          Intelligent? In touch?

          Liked by 1 person

        • Beckita says:

          How beautiful, Kitty! Here’s where your idea took me (but one perspective, I might add): Christ is the Source of the attributes. So rather than describing Him with the adjectives, perhaps one could name Him as their origin as we put on the Mind of Christ when continuing our journey of proclaiming Him.

          Charity
          Humility
          Reverence (reverent is a synonym for respectful)
          Infinity (all-embracing, relevant to every detail in life!)
          Sincerity
          Truth

          Thanks to Naisy for launching us into some great review thinking. Thank you Kitty for taking Charlie’s exhortation and focusing us on CHRIST with the adjectives (which I’m sure Naisy was doing in her own way).

          I especially like this exercise because it brings us to review the main concepts. Charlie, you write with rich texture, with many concepts and much meaning. Often, as I embrace it all, I struggle to respond because there SO MUCH MEAT! AMEN. ALLELUIA!

          MERRY CHRISTMAS, Everyone! Yes! We’re in the Octave of Christmas and, liturgically, it’s Christmas every day for eight days!!!

          Liked by 3 people

          • naisy says:

            Beckita, I like your take, “the Source of attributes”. I like Yong Duk’s suggestion of “Incontrovertible”. The “R” of “Relevant” might be substituted with “I”? How much more “relevant” can you get than “incontrovertible”?:) Incontrovertible: not able to be denied or disputed. Synonyms: indisputable, incontestable, undeniable, irrefutable, unassailable, beyond dispute, unquestionable, beyond question, indubitable, beyond doubt, unarguable, undebatable.
            Charitable
            Humble
            Respectful/Reverent
            Incontrovertible (Relevant)
            Sincere (Candid)
            True (Trustworthy)

            Liked by 1 person

  25. Julee says:

    We’re blessed to have a relatively new parish priest that isn’t afraid to speak the truth. He speaks it gently, but at the same time he doesn’t mince words. A few weeks ago, he gave a very powerful homily and I thanked him after Mass. He said he appreciated the encouragement because after a homily like that he often gets critical emails from some of the parishioners. I was surprised and very grateful he hasn’t given in to the pressure to “water it down.” Evidently, our pastor supports him because it seems to me the both of them are being more straight forward than ever. So, support your priests and pastors who likely catch some flack for speaking the truth!

    Liked by 9 people

    • charliej373 says:

      Thank you for doing that, Julee.

      Liked by 2 people

    • YongDuk says:

      Amen! Please encourage your priests and pray for those who don’t want it all the more!

      I fear that I am going to have to spend a long time in Purgatory for all the homilies that I slept through when they went bland and boring. (I expect half were my own. Imagine the poor the server in having to muster up the courage to tap me to see if I were dead, in ecstasy or just drooling in my sleep.)

      Well, on wards and upwards to prepare for Mass during the Day! You all will be remembered; Merry Christmas!

      Liked by 5 people

    • Mick says:

      Hi, Julee; and Merry Christmas to you and yours! How have you been? How’s your health? How’s sweet Justin? Prayers for all of you.

      Like

  26. joanp62 says:

    Merry Christmas, Charlie and thank you for this post on Truth vs. what is true. Something to take to heart.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. CrewDog says:

    My Buddies @ MILINET posted this today … enjoy 😉

    MERRY CHRISTMAS

    VIDEO: O Holy Night
    http://safeshare.tv/v/ss565c8d738e15a
    [COURTESY: Maj William xxxx, USMC (Ret)]

    A Christmas story, American-style: Focusing the day on gifts for tots enshrined it in the heart of the nation
    http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/dec/23/thomas-v-dibacco-a-christmas-story-american-style/

    Washington Irving’s Christmas
    http://www.nationalreview.com/article/428940/washington-irvings-christmas-what-holiday-should-be

    The Only Christmas Gift That Matters–MYRA ADAMS
    http://www.nationalreview.com/article/428969/christmas-shroud-turin-god-gift-sent

    The Gift Of The Magi–O. Henry
    http://www.eastoftheweb.com/short-stories/UBooks/GifMag.shtml

    This Christmas story comes from the Civil War
    http://www.militarytimes.com/story/life/2015/12/21/this-christmas-story-comes-from-the-civil-war/77722876/

    WWI: The Christmas Truce of 1914
    http://time.com/3643889/christmas-truce-1914/

    The “True” Story of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
    http://urbanlegends.about.com/od/christmaslore/a/rudolph_the_red_nosed_reindeer.htm
    [COURTESY: Dennis x]

    This McDonald’s Christmas Store Ad Went VIRAL on Facebook!!
    http://www.teapartynetwork.com/this-mcdonalds-christmas-ad-went-viral-on-facebook/

    VIDEO: USAF Band surprises commuters at DC train station
    http://www.af.mil/News/ArticleDisplay/tabid/223/Article/632656/usaf-band-surprises-commuters-at-dc-train-station.aspx
    [COURTESY: MSgt Bob xxx, USMC (Ret)

    & GOD SAVE ALL HERE!!

    Liked by 5 people

  28. Meriadoc says:

    Loss of mothers seems to be a theme here today, and it affects me too: my holy, prayerful mother passed away last summer and this Christmas is the first one without her. Nevertheless, many new blessins ensued this year, among them the fellowship and comfort of this forum. It was about a year ago that I started reading it. It’s so weird how these things get started…a random guy on another site mentions some “Johson, Johnston, Charlie I think. A kinda mystic type.” Next thing you know, you’re hooked!

    Who can say where we’ll all be a year from now? The world may be a very different place. I give thanks for everything. As weird as I feel posting something to the Internet on Christmas morning, it seems appropriate to this forum. Merry & Blessed Christmas
    to everyone!!!

    Liked by 3 people

    • BD says:

      Meriadoc. I agree, Here I am reading and posting on a blog I never heard of 6-months ago. I have come to appreciate Charlie’s message and subtle guidance. Ok, sometimes not so subtle but appreciated just the same. Once the holiday season is in the rear view mirror, I expect the relative calm we have now to change quickly and this blog will take on a greater importance for us all.

      Merry Christmas to All…

      Liked by 5 people

      • Thinking about what next year may bring….what a unique time in human history. I often think about that embrace between our Sweet Mother Mary and Elizabeth, how right there in that embrace “preparation” and the “Living Love” smacked right up against one another. That point in time where prepare the way and the Living Love of God met, and St. John responded, leapt, in knowing that physical Love. As we often pray to be in Mary’s arms or wrapped in her mantle, I also often pray to be squished right between those bellies :>} Yes, I have had 4 kiddos, so maybe my affinity for a pregnant belly is a little strange for some, but to be included in that embrace!
        So, I apologize if I have weirded any of you out, but I placed all of the NRS peeps in that embrace, as we begin to more fully move out of preparation and into loving in the footsteps of our King. I am so grateful that the Lord has deemed that I get to be here today, to celebrate HIM this beautiful Christmas Day. I am so grateful for this Jubilee year of Mercy, I am so grateful for the prayers shared here in this family. Charlie, may the Lord bless you, and guide your heart and your words. Thank you for cooperating with Our Lord’s plans and loving with each NRS you take! I thank Our Lord for giving you a special gift this Christmas in finding your Mom’s note, and I have said a prayer for her, and for all those we are missing this Christmas Day.

        Liked by 5 people

    • Doug says:

      So true Meriadoc!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Petra says:

      I lost my mom last February, and although I shed a tear on Christmas, yet, it really was okay. The funeral home from which she was buried sent the following on a card. Maybe you’ve seen it. It comforted me some, and I thought I’d share it to comfort those who are missing loved ones who have gone before us these days:

      “I see the countless Christmas trees
      Around the world below,
      With tiny lights like heaven’s stars
      Reflecting in the snow.

      The sight is so spectacular
      Please wipe away that tear
      For I’m spending Christmas
      With Jesus Christ this year.

      I hear the many Christmas songs
      That people hold so dear
      But earthly music can’t compare
      With the Christmas choir up here.

      I have no words to tell you
      The joy their voices bring
      For it’s beyond description
      To hear the angels sing.

      I know how much you miss me,
      Trust God and have no fear
      For I’m spending Christmas
      With Jesus Christ this year.

      I can’t tell you of the splendor
      Or the peace here in this place.
      Can you imagine Christmas
      With our Savior, face to face?

      May God uplift your spirit
      As I tell Him of your love
      Then pray for one another
      As you lift your eyes above.

      So let your hearts be joyful
      And let your spirits sing
      For I’m spending Christmas in Heaven
      And I’m walking with the king!”

      Author: Wanda Bencke

      God bless, and Merry Christmas.

      Liked by 2 people

  29. the phoenix says:

    What an amazing Christmas gift from your mother! Thank you for sharing that inspiring note with us. Wishing you Charlie, and all here, a Merry and Blessed Christmas!

    Liked by 2 people

  30. Annie says:

    Dear Charlie-Merry Christmas and thank you so much for that beautiful piece! This year I lost my brother very suddenly-he was literally here one moment and gone the next. He was a catholic priest. We were very close and all arrangements fell to me, including the role of comforting a community that loved him. As I stood at his wake and accepted condolences from over 2000 mourners, the reality of his life became clear. Over and over people told me about hidden little things this humble priest had done for them. Conversion stories, death bed stories, parents who were loosing their children whose families had been healed in some way…it went on and on. He was my brother-I knew all of his flaws. But suddenly I understood what a life walked with Christ looked like. It wasn’t grand-it was ordinary! It was getting up every day and starting over. It was lending a helping hand or kind word where ever possible, and mostly it was do-able! Weeks later I found your website and your message of the next right step is a truth for me.
    On this first Christmas that I find myself without one of the most important people in my life, your mother’s note made me cry. In a good way-so thank you and God Bless you abundantly!
    Annie

    Liked by 13 people

    • jlynnbyrd says:

      Annie, thank you for sharing that moving tribute to your brother, our Father and Shepherd. What a grace you both are. May your Christmas be filled with his loving memories and loving legacy.

      Liked by 4 people

    • prayingflower says:

      Sincere condolences on the passing of your dear brother, Annie. Thank you for this beautiful testament to his life and priesthood. During our incredibly moving Christmas Eve Mass last night, in the midst of my euphoria I suddenly welled up at the thought of perhaps not being able to receive Eucharist next Christmas. A little whisper inside of me seemed to say, “If you want Eucharist next year, you must pray for all priests this year.” Whenever I see a priest after Mass I always thank him for bringing us Eucharist. Thank God for our priests.

      Liked by 6 people

    • Beckita says:

      Thank you for a beautiful testimonial of your brother’s life lived in the Lord, Annie. Praying for the repose of his soul and for your healing as you mourn as well as for all who loved him. May the Christ Child, the Prince of Peace, bring you deep peace.

      Liked by 2 people

    • barb129 says:

      Condolences on the loss of your brother, Annie….may he rest in the peace of our dear Lord! May our dear Lord and His Blessed Mother surround you with peace and joy…

      Liked by 1 person

  31. EllenChris says:

    I feel a little uncomfortable sharing this because it feels a bit self-serving, but may I ask for a little indulgence.

    Last night we had two services here at home with my husband, the pastor, with a full church (not the usual situation for churches around here). It was lovely. I preached the second service of “midnight mass” all about Light coming into the darkness.

    Three years ago I was asked to go to a small, dying and very “liberal” parish in a tiny town out in a wilderness and farming area on the edge of our diocese. ON Christmas Eve the church was packed with non-church folks who were there for the wonderful music and beautiful, elaborate decorations (that church is 200 years old and lovely). I preached the Gospel of the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and invited them all back for Sunday.

    The next Christmas, there were only half as many people showing up. Again, I preached Good News of salvation.

    Last year, only a handful of folks of were sticking around. The liberals were busy spreading nasty and false rumors. I got three phone calls from the lay leaders telling me that they did not have the energy to decorate the church, and without all the decorations they just would not come to church at all on Christmas Eve. (the organist, openly lesbian, had quit). I argued with them: two poinsettias and a wreath, and we are good to go; we can sing Silent Night just fine. They said that NOBODY was going to show up, and I should just stay home. Because I was recuperating from an operation, I did not have the energy to fight them, so I celebrated Christmas at home here at my husband’s parish.

    Why am I sharing this? Certainly not to make myself any kind of hero; it felt like failure. I am sharing this because it is hard to describe how discouraged and disheartened clergy can become when their congregations turn off and tune out the Truth. It takes a lot of Faith and Hope as well as Love to keep trying.

    Everyone is making their choices these days. The question of Pontius Pilate is everywhere: “What IS Truth?” Truth is a Person — Jesus told us, I AM The Way, The TRUTH, The Life. He is not *A* Way or Truth, but the definitive Truth Incarnate. People are choosing to accept or reject Him. They prefer Santa Claus to a crucified Lord.

    Shortly after the Christmas of 2014, the Lord in His mercy gave me to understand quite clearly that I had done what He had asked me to do there, and we were finished. My current position is officially here at St. Andrew’s in a parish that hears the Gospel every Sunday and responds. I am really happy to be celebrating Christmas here. But a pastors heart still aches for those who are willfully deaf and blind.

    Jesus told us: “If a town does not receive you, go to the next town and shake the dust from from feet as you leave. But woe to that town in the day of My coming.”

    We are all making our choices — and we will receive what we choose. Blessings of Love, Joy and Peace to all you lovely people who are choosing Jesus on this wonderful Feast of the Incarnation of Jesus Christ, Who is the Truth.

    Liked by 6 people

    • charliej373 says:

      Merry Christmas, Mother Ellen – and please convey the same to Fr. Mike. Thank you for your fidelity in trying times and circumstances. In the end, you will see it DID make a difference.

      Liked by 2 people

    • naisy says:

      Come Lord, Jesus. Thank You. Open our eyes and our hearts, to see You, to know You, to love You.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Doug says:

      Thank you Ellen. I think you are well prepared for the storm. May God have mercy us. God bless you and Merry Christmas!

      Liked by 2 people

    • the phoenix says:

      Hi Ellen Chris,

      So basically, it seems like the people in the parish you left turned against you for simply being a loyal parishioner. The sad thing is, it truly is their loss … The silver lining is, now you know exactly who to pray for, and how. And meanwhile, it looks like the Lord has moved you to where you’ll do the most good. Have a merry Christmas!

      Liked by 3 people

      • EllenChris says:

        Thanks, Phoenix. But actually we are Anglicans, and I am ordained in the Episcopal Church — in a faithful, last-ditch hold-out for orthodoxy diocese. I was the pastor of that church, trying to preach what Charlie described in this article. Glad now to be in a parish comprised of actual Christians. Blessings to you and yours for Christmas and always. EC+

        Liked by 1 person

    • Ellen Chris, thank you for your powerful witness and sharing The Word. The Truth. I’ve substituted your post for the sermon I was looking forward to at Christmas Mass. Sadly, the one that was delivered at the Mass I attended was milktoast.

      As recently as three years ago, Christmas Masses were held in both the Church and Parish Hall to overflowing. It was always so packed that we had to get there an hour early just to find seats in the Parish Hall. Last year we got there a half hour early and there was plenty of seating and elbow room in the Parish Hall. This year we were running late, so I dropped the family off by the Church entrance and told them I’d look for them in the Parish Hall after parking up the road and running through the desert. Surprisingly, there was no need for that this year since there was plenty of parking. The Parish Hall was dark so I jogged over to the Church. There were plenty of seats available in the Church even though I barely made it before it started.

      On the way in I passed some guys in the courtyard speaking arabic and setting up a table with boxes of doughnuts. Their sign identified that they were from the Islamic Center of such-and-such and also said “Thank You for Supporting Us.” They were pleasant and smiled. I smiled back. Not sure what that was all about, so I’m still pondering it.

      On the way out from a shockingly quick Mass, I spied the bronze statue of St. Francis across the courtyard, sitting on the usual bench in his tattered rags, surrounded by various critters. Honestly, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Had my friend YD been there with me, I’m sure he would have had the good sense to cry for me. No doubt Charlie and others here could have shared some profound words. I just drew a blank and have been in a sort of haze ever since.

      You’re a sign of hope to me, EC. I don’t want to rehash this experience again in any form, but I just wanted to say thanks and let you know how you helped me hand the whole thing over to Jesus. He cleared the haze.

      God Bless,

      MP

      Liked by 5 people

      • Mick says:

        MP, attendance was down at the Christmas Vigil Mass our parish, also. Two years ago, it was standing-room-only unless you got there a ton early. Last year, we got there 10 minutes before Mass and barely got a seat; but nobody ended up standing (they just smooshed into the pews more tightly). This year, there were a whole lot of empty seats. After Mass, we were talking to one of the ushers. He was expressing surprise at how many fewer people were at Mass this year as compared to last year.

        And all during Mass, I was wondering, “Will we even be able to DO this next Christmas?”

        Liked by 3 people

        • jlynnbyrd says:

          Mick, I experience the same thing in our parish. I was the only one in my pew when mass began. Shortly afterward a timid young girl asked if her family could sit with me to which I responded, “absolutely!” A mother and her three children joined me to fill our pew. They were so grateful to me. We all joined hands in praying the Our Father and they were jovial and wished me a very merry Christmas when mass concluded. It occurred to me that they may have been strangers to our church and that we really must welcome people with open arms. Too many times people feel judged our excluded. Their presence with me was a present to me that beautiful Christmas afternoon and filled my heart with joy.

          Liked by 4 people

        • barb129 says:

          I was thinking that too Mick! I was trying to enjoy every moment in case next year is different. Mass attendance was down a bit at our parish too. We had pews that had empty places and the only people standing were people who wanted to. They received Communion and went flying out the door..

          Like

      • EllenChris says:

        Thank you so much, MP for sharing your story. I am sorry that I only just now saw it instead of sooner. Christmas Day was a bit of a whirlwind. I am very surprised and deeply sorry to hear that attendance at Christmas has fallen off in your church, and also at the churches attended by Mick and jlynnbyrd. Gosh! It is especially surprising to me that this is happening just as we are going to need God the most. People are so unaware of their need for God and so willing to ignore him.

        Charlie mentioned something in passing a week or two ago about how we are going to have to start welcoming lots of new people into our churches before long. How I do hope that will turn out to be true! It would be such a joy to see people return to our good Lord!

        I have said a few times that the people I pray for are “The Clueless” — the folks who just don’t get it. My prayer for them is that they catch on SOON to the real Love God has for them.

        Thanks, MP for the encouragement. Just hang in there. You will be amazed at the return our good Lord will make to you: “full measure, pressed down, shaken together and overflowing! Many blessings of all 12 days of Christmas. EC+

        Liked by 2 people

        • jlynnbyrd says:

          Christmas Day evening, my sister and her family came to our home for a delicious festive dinner. We put on the DVD Joshua (2002 release), another USCCB top rated family film, based on the novel of the same name by Joseph F. Girzone. It is about a stranger arriving in a small town of many faiths to rebuild a church after a storm, in the midst of apparent dissension in the ranks of the local Catholic church.
          To my amazement their entire family was more interested and engaged in watching the show versus eating dessert, opening gifts and chattering. The children are teenagers and even set down their cell phones. I was delighted!

          Liked by 3 people

      • YongDuk says:

        Wow… to all these replies. And here I was saying to myself that this year more people in stores said “Merry Christmas!” to me than in years past. (Mind you, I don’t really shop at all as sound recollection of the Amazon squirrel comments would show, so a statistical analysis of my encounters with folks might be skewed, plus with the hair extensions up in a “man bun” [which it took me an hour to learn from Dave Barry on Christmas Night are actually now in] looking like that Syro-Jacobite miter and with my Flying Squirrel cassock, folks may be more apt to wish me a Merry Christmas.)

        Innocently, I had thought that the decline in “Midnight Mass” attendance was more a realisation on the part of Pastors following Vatican II and the Revised Translation that “Missa in Nocte” could be now said whenever it was properly nighttime.

        When I was a seminarian, I asked my Spiritual Director what to do about people coming up to receive in Mortal Sin. To my sadness at the time, I was told that I could not refuse the Communion like Padre Pio did, lest I suffer wrath of my Diocese or the Seminary. So in obedience, I did. I must say that I hated, hated, hated Midnight Mass for that reason. Christmas Day was better. I never went to Christmas Vigils. My falling asleep during Homilies that I joked about before evolved from my closing my eyes to focus on God and not see the tragedies. Your story, Charlie, in your Birmingham Talk was wonderful to hear about the sacrilegious behaviour and the Lord’s gentle rebuke. I mentioned St Demetrios once before, he was my patron for moments like those… And perhaps it was training to pray for those folks.

        Liked by 3 people

        • charliej373 says:

          Ha ha, YD…the way you describe your appearance, people wish you Merry Christmas for the same reason they give a dollar to a scowling, muttering beggar: they don’t want any trouble.

          Liked by 2 people

          • Mick says:

            Hahaha! I was just thinking the same thing, Charlie. YD sounds like a fearsome sight to behold. (But don’t despair, YD; when I read the Dave Barry article, I didn’t know what a “man bun” was either; and I didn’t look it up because I was afraid it might be something crude. Then while watching an NFL football game yesterday, I saw one of those huge football players with his helmet off… and there atop his head was a man bun. Weird.)

            Liked by 2 people

          • Doug says:

            Man bun. Naaaa…. I would would prefer manly kung-fu hair extensions.

            Liked by 1 person

          • YongDuk says:

            Ok, I am sending a photo to Charlie to help with the image… Mind you these are Syriac Jacobite Bishops of the Malabar Church in India. (Since posting this, I rescinded my petition to the Holy See for permission to carry the double-snake-head Crosier lest people be wishing me “Merry Christmas!” all year long.)

            Liked by 4 people

        • Doug says:

          Very sincerely, Merry Christmas Yong Duk! Thank you for your presence here!

          Liked by 1 person

        • Beckita says:

          But, Doug, both extensions and buns take long hair to do the stylin’.

          Liked by 1 person

    • Mick says:

      Thank you for fighting the good fight, Ellen. Hang in there; we’re all in your corner. Wish i could’ve heard you preach at midnight (but that’s way past my bedtime). 🙂

      Liked by 4 people

      • EllenChris says:

        I just now got the chance to read this, Mick. Thank you so much for your kind words. I put midnight mass in quotation marks because the more solemn mass actually begins at 9 pm. The “family” mass is at 5 pm. My husband preached that one with his story for the kids about Abigail the lamb waiting to greet the promised Good Shepherd, and the joyful donkey who received the fulfillment of the prophecy of the donkeys that one of them would carry the Mother of God. It was lovely in spite of everything else going on here.

        Liked by 4 people

  32. Bob says:

    Merry Christmas all. I am soon to visit other family members and I just had a good Christmas breakfast with my cousin I went hunting with this year. It is unusual for Charlie to be responding on Christmas. Enjoy your family today sir and again Merry Christmas to all.

    Liked by 3 people

  33. A Quiet Person says:

    Thank you for sharing your special story of your mom on Christmas Eve. Coincidentally, just moments before I had read it, I had decided to send my oldest brother (the one I have been asking prayers for) the missal he had given to our mom around 1958. Somehow, after all these years, it has survived in my procession. He in particular needs the real assurance (not just a fantasy) that our moms love us, look after us, and are with us, truly with us now. Your story gives me hope for him, that maybe by receiving the missal he had given to her, he will feel her loving presence in a real way.

    Liked by 4 people

  34. MT Butterfly says:

    Merry Christmas Charlie and all of the NRS family here. I remembered all of you at Mass last night. May Jesus and Our Lady continue to guide us as we face a new and challenging year.

    Liked by 5 people

  35. BlessedToLiveNow says:

    A Merry Christmas to everyone here and thank you Charlie for continuing to guide us to the loving arms of Jesus Christ as we live in challenging times. I am grateful for the touchstone your writing and the comments provide. I am spending more time quietly pondering, learning to trust, and to become more aware of God’s presence. Peace, Love, and Light to you all!

    Liked by 3 people

  36. Merry Christmas to all! Since this is a special family day I couldn’t neglect to greet the N.R.S. family today. My Christmas prayers today are my spiritual bouquet to you all. ( Remember the “spiritual bouquets” the nuns had us make for our families from Catholic school days?) No matter what comes for you this year, good or bad, May it become a jewel in your crown in Heaven. May nothing be wasted and all be turned to gold.

    Liked by 7 people

  37. Vijaya says:

    Merry Christmas Charlie, and what a lovely Christmas gift from your mom! I have learned so much from you and others here. Thank you for all you do. God bless you!

    Loved the squirrel photos and commentary. We have a single squirrel who has a nest in our backyard oak and I often forget to write when I sit outdoors as I watch his antics. He has a friend that comes to play regularly as they chase each other in the canopy … sometimes I feel I live in a treehouse. Ah, we can learn a lot from our dogs, cats, and squirrels.

    Liked by 5 people

  38. audiemarie2014 says:

    Merry Christmas Charlie and all!

    Liked by 4 people

  39. Fera Henri says:

    Merry Christmas Charlie and Merry Christmas to all.

    Liked by 3 people

  40. Nancy says:

    At work yesterday, I didn’t hear a single “Happy Holiday”! EVERYONE said “Merry Christmas” with a big smile and some even repeated the greeting. Wow 🙂 –saying Merry Christmas makes people happy and no one was grumpy. It was the most joyful one I have worked for a long time. 🙂 And Christmas isn’t over yet.

    Liked by 2 people

  41. zeniazenia says:

    Thank you again Charlie and TNRS!

    Liked by 1 person

  42. Lynn says:

    Beautiful. Yesterday morning in prayer the word I received was truth the Holy Spirit laid on my heart John 17:17 Consecrate them in truth. Your word is truth. Now after reading your post I find it to be affirmation. I am so thankful for a God who loves us so much and I thank him for giving you the ccourage to do His will. I pray for you. God bless you Charlie.

    Liked by 3 people

  43. Todd says:

    Truth and Love are One. Both are names for the One God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. 1 Corinthians chapter 13 goes along way to revealing how we are to love. Love is not merely a sentiment. Love is strong and is willing to go to the Cross. Love is a willingness to die. Sometimes in big ways but more often than not – daily in many smaller ways. Dying to our selfish desires, resisting temptations, humbling ourselves for the sake of others, risking the loss of relationships when required, and using the Two Edged Sword of Truth – The Word of God. We find ourselves on a battlefield when by God’s grace we are rescued from darkness and given eyes to see, and ears to hear. Soldiers want to make it home. In worldly physical combat that means home to family and friends. In Spiritual combat that means Home to our Father’s House – Heaven. Notable is the fact that the Theological Virtue of Hope is just that a “desire” for Heaven and Eternal Life as our happiness, trusting in the promises of God, relying not on our own strength but on the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit. Hope is a desire for home (Heaven) as our happiness. Often times when we place our hope in lower created things sooner or later, we begin to lose hope. Lift your eyes higher and keep your focus on Jesus rather than the wind and the waves. A Bing search for “Bible + lift your eyes”, led me to this: Psalm 121 1 I lift up my eyes to the hills. From whence does my help come? 2 My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.

    Liked by 7 people

  44. Snowy Cherry Blossoms says:

    Charlie, that is just so beautiful about the letter from your mom. What a Heavenly Christmas gift!

    Liked by 1 person

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