The Catholic Defender: And forgive us our trespasses

Posted by Donald Hartley - May 2nd, 2016

jesus-prayingOur Father who art in Heaven,
Hallowed be thy name;
Thy kingdom come
Thy will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread;
And forgive us our trespasses
As we forgive those who trespass against us;
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.

The Lord’s prayer is the most recognizable prayer that gives the basic tenet of Christian. “And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” As simple as this sounds, we all know this is easier said than done. How easy it is to allow ourselves to let anger set in. Families are torn a part and friends turn into enemies.

Even with the greatest examples known to man, Luke 23:34, “Then Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, they know not what they do”. Jesus gives a teaching on the importance of forgiveness. Matthew 18:21:22 states, “Then Peter approaching asked him, ‘Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? As many as seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.” In each one of us there is a part of us that wants to hold onto anger. This can have serious spiritual, health consequences.

forgivenessCatherine Ponder, a prosperity writer, once said, “When you hold resentment toward another, you are bound to that person or condition by an emotional link that is stronger than steel. Forgiveness is the only way to dissolve that link and get free.”

Coming from the field of Psychiatry it is becoming more understood that the affects of not forgiving has potential serious health risks. Bitter resentments, hatreds can lead to psychosomatic illnesses and disorders that can affect the mind and emotion. This most certainly can play a tremendous toll on the body. Healing is not only of the body, but also the mind and spirit. It is important to forgive your self and others.

St. John Paul II met with his Turkish terrorist Mehmet Ali Agca, the would-be assassin, in Agca’s prison cell in Rome. I’ll never forget the day when the Pope was shot. I had seen Pope John Paul II in October 1979 when he was in Chicago.

forgiveness 1What a great witness and testimony the Pope gave to all the world, as he imitated the Lord’s forgiveness from the cross. That is the perfect example.

Christian Author Lewis Smedes said, “To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.”

How true this quotation really is. The only way to be set free is to give the situation to God and let Him take it.

We are not always strong enough to forgive on our own. I have counseled people who had terrible things happen to them to give it to God.

Ephesians 1:7 states, “In him we have redemption by his blood, the forgiveness of transgressions, in accord with the riches of his grace that he lavished upon us.” Because Jesus died on the cross and His forgiveness is for all, Jesus empowers all of us the power to forgive in his name.

Bryant McGill, a public speaker and activist said, “There is not love without forgiveness, and there is no forgiveness without love.” Without love we really do not gain anything.

forgiveness 2First Corinthians 13 is known as the “love” chapter in the Bible.

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends; as for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For our knowledge is imperfect and our prophecy is imperfect; but when the perfect comes, the imperfect will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood.So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

forgiveness 3The importance of finding strength to confess your sins and allow God to heal you inside and out, to plug the holes.

To find healing from God, this requires humility and the ability to admit that we have sinned, fallen short.

We all need God’s help. Pride is a terrible road block to this, we must subdue our own personal pride and embrace the Lord’s plan of salvation. To create a clean conscience.

This is important in making a good Confession. If Catholics practiced going to Confession, there would be less need for Psychologists.

It is important in our relationships to love unconditionally so that there are no conditions. I love my wife without reservation. We choose to forgive without being asked to forgive. If we are building a foundation that God can build upon, love has to be the major ingredient.

We are to humble ourselves before the Lord, this is important in giving restitution to those we have offended. To correct wrongs, we will have to be willing to see within ourselves our own limitations. Matthew 5:23-24 states, “Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar, and there recall that your brother has anything against you, leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” I have seen this mostly with divorced couples who must wait for their annulment to go through before they can receive the Eucharist. Sometimes they will come up for a blessing. What I think is so awesome is when a child receives this blessing.

forgiveness 5Many times the problem of forgiveness stems on the fact that we tend to be hardest on ourselves. I know that I am. Sometimes people develop a heart of stone because they refuse to face life. Their hearts grow cold and they do not allow God or anyone else to enter their life deeper than the surface. How great it is when a person finally goes to Confession and releases the chain they have been making link by link. At Marriage Encounter, I will never forget the person coming out of the Confessional for the first time in 10 years. He was in tears as he realized the chains he bore fell to the floor.

The forgiveness of memory is something I have promoted a lot among those I encounter who have had terrible violence happen to them. Bondage is a terrible place to be, even if it is within our own mind. Addictions, suicide, false philosophies, drugs and alcohol will certainly bury us deeper and deeper away from what God’s forgiveness offers. Luke 4:18 states, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.”

baptizzed 1We are called by virtue of our Baptism and Confirmation to bring the light to the world, to bring Christ to a dark world. Life is so good to not utilize it for the Glory of God. To find true happiness is to find yourself within the heart of Christ, His Sacred Heart, where Jesus offers His Divine Mercy. About forgiving, one of my Facebook friends (Frank) said, “When it is “hard” to do so, begin by praying for God’s mercy for yourself and for your “enemy.” (For the sake of His sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.) That is great advice!

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The Guardian Angel: St. Zosimus Incredible Story Of St. Mary Of Egypt

Posted by Donald Hartley - March 2nd, 2016

woman-wiping-feet_1409220_inlIn the Gospel stories found in the Holy Bible, we read the great mercy and forgiveness of God. Consider the story of the woman who washed Jesus feet (Luke 7:36-38), Jesus said, “A certain creditor had two debtors; one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he forgave them both. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, to whom he forgave more.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.” Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house, you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.” And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”

woman-at-the-wellAnother powerful example of Jesus compassion for sinners is the story of the woman at the well (John 4:7-8), Jesus said, “Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep; where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, and his sons, and his cattle?” Jesus said to her, “Every one who drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst; the water that I shall give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw.” Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and he whom you now have is not your husband; this you said truly.” The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain; and you say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for such the Father seeks to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ); when he comes, he will show us all things.” Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.”

woman-caught-in-adulteryProbably, the most well known of these stories come from the Gospel of John 8:1-6, the woman caught committing adultery and brought before Jesus. To challenge Jesus, Jesus responds, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the eldest, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus looked up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and do not sin again.”

St. Luke writes that many signs and wonders will accompany the Saints through the mercy of God (Mark 16:17-18, Acts 2:17-19), we give testimony of many stories given by great Saints of God. The following story comes from St. Zosimus of Palestine (5th Century Hermit) of another women who received the forgiveness of God.

egypt M 1St. Mary of Egypt was a typical girl many today can relate too. St. Mary was a twelve year old girl who found herself bored with life. She became a runaway leaving behind her family and loved ones because she wanted to be a singer and an actress. She loved to perform so she left for Alexandria Egypt where she became a prostitute. How tragic this is as we see this happening today.

At some point in her young life, her lifestyle was taking a heavy toll on her life and she began to cry out for help. Do we not see this today? People just hide themselves in drugs and other things that helps them cope with their lifestyle. St. Mary, after about 17 years of this lifestyle she left Alexandria and found herself wondering in Palestine looking for answers, looking for help when she noticed a large crowd of people gathering. At first, Mary thought she might be able to find customers to help her find food and drink.

But this crowd was different from then men she had known for so long, this particular day was a major feast celebrating the Holy Cross of Christ. Mary goes into the Church and coming upon an image of the Blessed Virgin Mary, something tremendous takes place within her. Just like the woman Jesus spoke to at the well, Mary found herself thirsting for that water that will never run dry. Like the woman caught in adultery, Mary found herself among Jesus family and she too wanted that forgiveness. Like the woman who washed Jesus feet with her tears and dried Jesus feet with her hair, Mary found forgiveness through the Sacraments of the Catholic Church.

Egypt M 5Mary being overcome with remorse and sorrow for her sin, she prayed to Our Lady asking for guidance. The Virgin Mary, the Mother of Jesus and Our Mother as well, loved her wayward child who just found her way home. The Virgin Mary told Mary, “If you cross the Jordan River, you will find peace.”

The following day, St. Mary did cross the river and ran into St. Zosimus who had been living there for almost 50 years. It was like the Virgin Mary was sending St. Mary to St. Zosimus which leads to a greater point. Like St. Zosimus, it is important for us to be accountable and ready should the Lord send someone our way to teach then and show them the truth. St. Mary did indeed find peace as she fell more and more in love with Our Lord and His Mother.

St. Zosimus was in the desert following a Lenten penance when St. Mary called out to him asking him to met her at this place next year and to bring her Jesus in the Eucharist for her. A year did pass when St. Zosimus did come by the rivers edge, but St. Mary was still on the other side of the river without a means to cross over. There was no boat, nor was there a bridge nearby, so St. Mary took a leap of faith. She did the sign of the cross and began to walk across the water, what a great sign and wonder that even St. Zosimus was praising God as he gave St. Mary Holy Communion.

Egypt M 4With such a great experience the two Saints made another agreement to meet again the following year. Being a hermit, St. Zosimus kept socializing to a minimum, but he came to love this young woman who grew to love Jesus so much. As before, St. Zosimus made good his promise to meet St. Mary once again but when he came to see her, he found her dead, the Lord just took her, but he did find a note for him to bury her.

As St. Zosimus began to bury St. Mary, a lion came out of the desert and assisted digging her grave. Revelation 5:5 states, “Then one of the elders said to me, “Weep not; lo, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.” Jesus is the “Lion of Judah, the Son of David, who has victory over the grave. The Story of St. Mary is a great reminder that we can overcome sin and death through the mercy and forgiveness of God.

Egypt M 3This is a great story as we are celebrating this year of jubilee, the Jubilee of Mercy and St Mary offers her example for all those today who find themselves lost and forsaken. Jesus loves you and will forgive you through your Confession and repentance.

So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me. This is the bread which came down from heaven, not such as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live for ever.”

Egypt M 2Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1

Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them; and those who are ill-treated, since you also are in the body. Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled; for God will judge the immoral and adulterous. Hebrews 13:1-3

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The Catholic Defender: St Maria Goretti’s Forgiveness Of Alessandro Serenelli.

Posted by Donald Hartley - October 22nd, 2015

Pope Pius XII once wrote, “It is often said almost with passive resignation that fashions reflect the customs of a people. But it would be more exact and much more useful to say that they express the decision and moral direction that a nation intends to take: either to be shipwrecked in licentiousness or maintain itself at the level to which it has been raised by religion and civilization.”

It does not take long for anyone today to see how the Western culture has declined attacking religion, family, and society. Young people imitate whom they admire and the grow towards those whom they imitate.

Why is the media silent concerning the dangers of sexually transmitted disease, why does the media support left wing agendas such as abortion and homosexuality?

Yet, we see an attack on religious faith in America.

Little Jacita of Fatima said, “Fashions will much offend our Lord. People who serve God should not follow the fashions”. Jacinta also said, “The sins which cause most souls to go to hell are the sins of the flesh”.

This was given to her by the Blessed Virgin Mary who appeared to the Children of Fatima.

When you do a study about domestic violence, especially violence directed towards women, they become a random statistic.

Every 2 minutes someone is sexually assaulted in the United States, 44% of them under the age of 18. 80% under the age of 30.  After watching a few episodes of ID, this is a horrific problem that is essentially a spiritual problem.  People are in essence walking dead.

There is something to say about the effect of pornography and immodest dress. Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery. But I say to you, everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:27).

Remember when former Governor Rick Perry first entered into the Republican Presidential Race (2012), he was challenged by Michele Bachmann because of his mandate in the State of Texas to give 12 year old girls and older a vaccine against HPV virus.

Recent studies have shown that women have been exposed and diagnose with a sexually transmitted disease at a rate of 1 in 4 down to the age of 12. This is an amazing statistic?

Governor Perry sought to safeguard these girls from the HPV Virus recognizing the threat as a serious problem.

One of the greatest role models in the early 20th century was a young girl named Maria Goretti. She was a 12 year old girl who was brutally murdered by Alessandro Serenelli.

Maria goretti’s Father had a lumber business with a partner, who had a son, Alessandro Serenelli, who was 20 years old at the time of the murder.

Maria’s Father had died and her Mother tried to hold up the business when Alessandro began to make sexual advances toward Maria, each time refusing him.

On July 5, 1902, Alessandro attacked Maria while she was at home. He tried to sexually seduce her but she refused crying, “No, no, Alessandro, God does not want it. It is a sin. You would go to hell for it”.

Maria had always been drawn to her Catholic Faith, she loved the Lord Jesus Christ. Alessandro stabbed her 14 times and left her there to die. Maria lived through the night and when the Priest asked her what she thought of Alessandro, her last words were: “I forgive him”.

Alessandro was sentenced to 30 years in prison when after 8 years he received a vision of St. Maria gathering lilies in a field. She turned to him and the lilies became radiant and she gave them to him. There were 14 lilies representing her 14 stab wounds.

This so much affected his life that he became a model prisoner and was released from Prison after 27 years time served. Pope Pius XII canonized St. Maria in 1950 with a huge crowd at the Vatican. Alessandro was among the vast throng who were there to honor St. Maria Goretti.

Pope Pius XII gave a stern warning to the world that has proved to be prophetic. The Pope warned that in the latter half of the 20th century, to be a Christian you would have to be a living martyr because the attacks on the family and faith will be so strong.

A great example of this can be seen at the New Hampshire Primary (2012) where former Senator Rick Santorum was speaking before a group of supporters when Gay Activists began to chant him down. Because Rick Santorum is a dedicated Catholic, the media has gone after his Catholic values.

The Obama administration has been waging a war against the Catholic Church in America. Former Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, another Republican Candidate for President of the United States (2012), referred specifically how the State of Massachusetts because of the Obama mandate for Homosexuals, took away the Catholic Church’s ability to help adoption of children because the Church does not recognize Gay parents.

Even though the Church had helped thousands of Children find homes, more than 50% of any other agency. The attack on religious liberty by the Progressives in our Country is tearing at the fabric of our society.

Unfortunately, many 12 year old girls today admire the likes of Lady GaGa, Madonna, who are far from modest. St. Maria Goretti should be a role model that encourages young people to follow and serve Our Lord Jesus Christ and His holy Catholic Church.

Consider the following two questions,“Girls, have you, in any manner whatsoever, made immodest use of your bodies to draw to yourself attention from the opposite sex? Boys, have you, by subtle means or otherwise, sought to induce a girl to sin? If so, you have made yourself an instrument of destruction to any soul you have tempted to sin gravely, since grave sin causes a soul to be lost forever (unforgiven-unconfessed in Confession). You have made yourself an actual companion of Satan, who has vowed to destroy every soul, every temple of God, he possible could”.

St. Paul warns, “Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for the temple of God, which you are, is holy” (1 Corinthians 3:16-17).

In repeating what Pope Pius XII said, “It is often said almost with passive resignation that fashions reflect the customs of a people.” And remember little Jacita’s warning, “Fashions will much offend our Lord. People who serve God should not follow the fashions”. Jacinta also said, “The sins which cause most souls to go to hell are the sins of the flesh.”

Plato once said, “Musical innovation is full of danger to the State, for when modes of music change, the laws of the State always change with them.” Plato’s Republic: The Theatre of the Mind

America is not innocent, we knew what the effect of the Democratic Party and the Obama Administration would be.  As a nation, we have chosen the direction our Country is following.  We are turning farther and farther away from our Judeo/Christian roots.

Remember Alessandro, years later, after serving as a Capuchin Monk, would say, “I am an old man, almost eighty, nearing the end of my days. Looking back over the past, I realize how, as a youth, I set out on the wrong road, the way of evil, which led me to ruin. I was persuaded to believe-by what I read in the press, or saw in shows, or noticed in bad example of some-that many young men follow that path without giving it much thought. And I, too, did not let it bother me. There were around me those who believed in and practiced goodness and virtue, but blinded by the brute force which pushed me onto the way of evil, I committed, at the age of twenty, the passionate crime which today fills me with horror just to remember. Maria Goretti, now a saint, was the good angel that Providence had sent before my steps to save me. I still bear, imprinted on my heart, her words of reproof and pardon. She prayed for me. She interceded for me, her murderer. Thirty years in prison followed. Had I not been a minor, I would have been condemned for life. But I accepted my well-deserved sentence, resigned to expiating my sin. Little Maria was truly my light, my protectress. With her help I conducted myself well and tried to live honorably when society again accepted me among its members. The sons of St. Francis, the Friars Minor (Capuchin) of the Marches, with seraphic charity, have received me among them, not as a servant, but as a brother. I have been living with them since 1936. And now I serenely await the moment of my being admitted to the vision of God, of again embracing my loved ones, of being near my angelic protector and her dear Mamma, Assunta. Those who read this letter will, I hope, take from it the lesson of fleeing evil and of always following the good, even from childhood. Let them realize that religion, with its precepts, is something one cannot affort to do without. It is a true comfort and the only secure way in all the circumstances of life, even the saddest. Peace and goodness. Alessandro Serenelli.”

There is so much that Alessandro says in his farewell letter. Some people seem to have to learn the hard way, if they ever learn at all.

One thing that Alessandro says that is so true, we are to avoid evil, to flee from it. 1 Peter 5:8-10 warns, “Be sober and vigilant. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in faith, knowing that your fellow believers throughout the world (The Catholic Church) undergo the same sufferings. The God of all grace who called you to his eternal glory through Christ Jesus will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you after you have suffered a little. To him be dominion forever. Amen.

 

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The Catholic Defender: In Prison And You Visited Me

Posted by Donald Hartley - August 27th, 2015

works-of-mercyJesus stated very clearly, “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.” These works that Jesus instructs we must do are called the Corporal Works of Mercy.

To feed the hungry.
To give drink to the thirsty.
To clothe the naked.
To harbor the harbourless. (also loosely interpreted today as To Shelter the Homeless)
To visit the sick.
To visit the imprisoned (classical term is “To ransom the captive”)
To bury the dead.

Many people gives money to charity that does mostly these works, money given to the missionary field. But as I grew a little older and began to see this more clearly, there is a lot of opportunities to do these acts of charity within our own communities.

To feed the hungry is a full time job in many American cities. This was an opportunity that we had when preparing young people for the Sacrament of Confirmation. There was always the opportunity to teach them the importance to volunteer serving food to the hungry at a local soup kitchen.

Many Catholic Parishes have a St. Vincent De Paul organization that supports the poor handing out food stuffs. I did this kind of work in college as part of Students In Free Enterprise (SIFE), we raised several thousands of dollars and food stuffs for the poor.

PrintThe Catholic Church has built in it outward ministry that focuses on these Corporal Works of Mercy. Some people literally will attack Catholics for doing these works because of a false doctrine of Martin Luther who developed a new doctrine, “Sola Fide”, Faith alone. So there are those who strenuously attack the Catholic Faith accusing to be a gospel of “works”.

Jesus is clear stating, “Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me. And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous (those obedient to Jesus call to do the Corporal Works of Mercy) to eternal life.”

Another hurdle the anti-Catholics have to overcome is James 2:24, “See how a person is justified by works and NOT by faith alone.” That is amazing, the only place in scripture that speaks of “faith alone” clearly states that we are not saved by faith alone. James places a rubber stamp with a huge exclamation mark stating, “so also faith WITHOUT works is DEAD.”

This was a major reason Luther placed James in his non-canonical list of “Apocryphal” books. At the Council of Hippo (393-396) the Apocrypha were the many writings that were not admitted into the Biblical Canon of Scripture. The Council of Trent (1545-1563) reaffirmed the Biblical Canon because of Luther’s Reader’s Digest version.

Luther referred to James as a “gospel of straw”, that it lacked “backbone” because James disagreed with Luther’s Sola Fide doctrine. And this false doctrine mutates as division among Protestants continue to deteriorate through the passage of time and newer generations develop new heresies.

Few groups today actually hold to the traditional Protestant line today, but they certainly carry the rhetoric. What seems to unite many of these anti-Catholic groups are their attacks on the Catholic faith.

eph2The classic defense given to attack and mangle Jesus words in Matthew 25:31-46, Ephesians 2:8-9 is cited: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from you; it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so no one may boast.” Lets break this down real quick, grace is the main point in this text. It is grace that saves a person, God offers grace free, we do not earn His mercy.

This is important and we place our faith upon that gift of free grace. What our friends ordinarily omit, is verse 10, “For we are his handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for the GOOD WORKS that God has prepared in advance, that we should live in them.” So, when you see the whole text of St. Paul, we see a tight rope consisting of grace, faith, and works.

Just a side note on the topic of grace, Luther described grace like a cover of snow on dung.  That is really an incredible perspective? I see grace more like a Combat Medic who has seen war injuries.  Knife wounds, bullet wounds, protruding wounds that cause terrible painful injuries.  These injuries must be healed from the inside out.  Even cysts that require healing must be cleaned and properly treated to heal the wounds inside out.

When you go to Confession, when the sins are removed, what is left is the hole left from the result of the sin.  God gives his grace through penance to heal the soul inside out.  It is not like a blanket of snow over dung. God is healing us making us righteous.  It is a work in progress.

Faith and good works together both stand on the free grace given by God. We must co-operate with God’s grace and that begins with our “Yes”, just like Mother Mary, we then take ownership, we take on responsibility to “work out our salvation with fear and trembling”. (Philippians 2:12)

This is the meaning of Jesus parable of the talents. I find it interesting that Matthew addresses this very parable of Jesus just before Jesus addresses the judgment of the nations. Read Matthew 25 and this is clear cut. One of the servants given the responsibility of a talent (money) buried his in the back yard.

TheDarknessOfTheOuterJesus said, “You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I did not plant and gather where I did not scatter? Should you not then have put my money in the bank so that I could have got it back with interest on my return? Now then! Take the talent from him and give it to the one with ten… And throw this useless servant into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.” Matthew 14-30

This is not a “works based” gospel as some imply, but is acts of love that we are to be good stewards of the gospel. Love is centered in all we do, we are to carry out the works of Christ. We become his voice when we proclaim his word, we become his feet when we go where he sends us, we become his hands when we do His will.

Jesus also includes that we must visit those in prison. Why would this be? We are to set the captives free. This does not mean that prisoners who have done serious crimes needs to get out of Jail. No, not at all, but what truly frees a person is the prison from within. To reach the prisoner for Christ with the message of forgiveness gives hope to those who are not free.

cd !!In 1977, after buying me a $60 baseball glove for the college spring baseball season and driving me to the School of the Ozarks where I went to college, my Uncle Philip went back home and that would be the last time I would see him. Soon after this, he was brutally murdered by teenage thugs who had been doing small time robberies for drugs.

After one of the largest manhunts in Southern Missouri, the killers were captured, sentenced and placed in Columbia prison serving life without parole. Years have come and gone as I left college, joined the Army, and retired after 26 years being all over the world at the expense of the Government.

I am so thankful that through all of this my Catholic Faith was always intact. Dr. Gregory Thompson and I was visiting my brother Randy, a former Marine, a no-nonsense kind of guy. 6 foot 7, a very strong man, my brother went with a group to the Columbia Prison to pray with some of the prisoners. What he did not know going there that one of the prisoners was the master mind who killed our Uncle.

I am very proud of my Brother in that he took a very awkward situation and turned it into a positive, he forgave the prisoner for the murder of our uncle. What a story this was to me. It recalled what Jesus did from the cross, it recalled what St. Pope John Paul II did going to the cell forgiving Mehmet Ali Ağca, we are to forgive.

The Catholic Church has always had a mission to reach out to the prisoners and one of the great testimonies that I have come to know is that of Russell Ford, a Catholic Convert while serving a 25 year prison sentence. Since his release, it is reported that Russell served 25 years in prison for a crime he did not commit, but what he did in prison promoting faith is very inspiring.

cardenasGod can take a negative and make a positive through the faithfulness of His servants no matter where they are planted. One area of ministry that Russell Ford has brought back to my psyche is the importance of sponsorship to those becoming Catholic. Since 1978, I have literally sponsored so many people, I can’t remember or count them all. In the Army, moving about all over it is easy to loose base with people you knew in former units. Time and space with separation makes it easy to loose such a base. Because of Russell’s influence, I try to spiritually pray for all those whom I have sponsored into the Church.

It is important for the Catholic Church at large to support the converts coming to the Church. That is really vital as many of them are coming from tough situation looking to Christ for healing and forgiveness. They should receive this from us, who Christ has called for us to do His work of setting the captives free.

Deepertruth  member Fred Williams recently has become very involved with the local prison ministry at our Parish. Every Thursday evening, he spends time at the Maximum Security Facility witnessing and teaching the prisoners helping to prepare them coming into the Church.

righteousSome of these prisoners have done horrible crimes, some of them are there for life, all of them are still loved by God who desires that their final word is to accept Him as their Lord. What a grace it is that any soul should make the last decision for Christ before it is too late. And for those who are carrying out this work of Christ, how great is your reward.

1 Corinthians 9:24-27 states, “Do you not know that the runners in the stadium all run in the race, but only one wins the prize? Run so as to win. Every athlete exercises discipline in every way. They do it to win a perishable crown, but we an imperishable one. Thus I do not run aimlessly; I do not fight as if I were shadowboxing. No, I drive my body and train it, for fear that, after having preached to others, I myself should be disqualified.”

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The Catholic Defender Given A Temptation

Posted by Donald Hartley - February 22nd, 2015

jesus-tempted-in-the-desert“The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert, and he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan. He was among wild beasts, and the angels ministered to him. After John had been arrested, Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God: “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”

Lent is a very important season as we reflect on our lives. I recall Jesus “was lead by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.”

What was the main temptations? “If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become loaves of bread.” “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down.” “All these I shall give to you, if you will prostate yourself and worship me.”

These temptations recorded in the Gospel of Matthew 4:3-11 tell us a lot about the devil.

He is crafty and cunning. He uses the environment to lure his victims. For many, he uses drugs, wild sex, homosexuality, and many other things.

Sometimes, he can be simply appealing to the mind. “C’mom Defender, everybody does it?”

Consider the following temptation that was attempted on me recently. The following was written to me:

temptation“Defender, I have a challenge for you, I know you wont accept and if you do, you wont be honest about it. The challenge is this, don’t go to church for one month. Don’t be Catholic for one month. Don’t say any Catholic prayers, no rosaries, no hail Marys, no saints. Don’t do anything Catholic for one month. Instead, just pray directly to God. Seek him out, ask for his guidance. Fast and pray, pray only to God and in Jesus name only. Ask for truth. Do this with a whole heart and you will find, after one month of not being Catholic, that you will never want to return to the RCC. You will discover what Sandor, Sola, Girl, myself and the rest of us have been trying to show you for nearly 2 years!!!” “What have you to lose, Defender?”

I couldn’t believe this when I first read this? “What have I to lose?”, Well, my soul would be important to me. I recall 1 John 2:18-20, “Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that the anti-christ was coming, so now many anti-christs have appeared. Thus we know this is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not really of our number; if they had been, they would have remained with us. Their desertion shows that none of them was of our number.” So, I will not forsake my Lord for one second, one minute, let alone one month.

Then this was sent to me: “Try it Defender, I pray this always that you convert to real Christianity.”

They want me to convert to a new Christianity created and developed by men. Sorry friends, I can’t help but see the devil behind the curtain.

devil_in_disguise_by_nomnom09-d5wtp98Then the following really tells me what is going on: “I have to say I agree with Joe. Defender my friend – what do you have to lose? I did the same test (and I was a Roman Catholic Practitioner the whole 9 yards) and the Lord answered more of my prayers when I let go of all religions and used him (God) alone as my crutch (at least this was/is my experience). But this isn’t about answering prayers (I feel like many of us use God for his rewards only which is not the Prime Directives purpose). And if you think you can’t do it because you honestly think the Catholic Church is the only way, you need not fear because the Lord would highly appreciate you searching for him the extra mile, not to mention it is our duty to test all things in correlation to Gods Will (and/or using Gods word for reproof in righteousness in all we do). If we didn’t test all things & only practiced what we were fed, this surely would acknowledge no real zeal for the Lord but rather conformity for the sake of conforming! I urge you to at least try it, we will be their for you every step of the way! Either way I will always appreciate what you have done for North America (I know Joe does), and we will always love you man!”

I feel the need to add a comment here that the Lord has answered countless prayers for me. Healing, conversion, miracles, and much much more. Jesus calls me to receive  him at Mass in the Eucharist. This is the way in which to renew the Covenant. The Lord would leave the 99 to find the one gone astray. May these individuals find their true home in the Catholic Church!

resist the devil (1)St. Paul warns, “I am amazed that you are so quickly forsaking the one who called you by the grace of Christ for a different gospel not that there is another. But there are some who are disturbing you and wish to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel other than the one that we preached to you, let that one be accursed! As we have said before, and now I say again, if anyone preaches to you a gospel other than the one that you received, let that one be accursed!”

With this temptation, I want to send back my response with a challenge of my own, “My brethren, if any one among you wanders from the truth and some one brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins. (James 19-20)”  My encouragement is that you guys take another good look at the Catholic Faith, if you do their would be a great party in heaven.  (Luke 15:7-10)

The gospel given to us has to be nearly 2,000 years old, founded by Christ and commissioned by Christ to go to all the nations teaching them the gospel. This is the Catholic Faith, to deny the Pope, the bishops, the clergy, and all the teachings handed down from Christ to His Apostles would be a serious sin. Just like the Lord resisted the devil in the desert, we must resist him when he comes challenging you. Lord, Jesus, give us the strength to resist the devil as you did so long ago.

The Devil will certainly want you to miss Mass so anytime you feel that you are getting weak, trust in the Lord with all your heart. This is a great prayer to recall during such times:

archangel-michael-defeating-satan-1635“Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle.  Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.  May God rebuke him, we humbly pray; and do Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host - by the Divine Power of God - cast into hell, satan and all the evil spirits, who roam throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.”

The Devil will appear in many different forms, even as an Angel of Light. Sometimes people can appear to be sincere, but unfortunately, they may be sincerely wrong. The only sure thing that we have is what Jesus Himself has laid out for us. Anything else would be a rabbit trail, an illusion, a false way.

The Lord is Our Shephard, and there should be nothing else we should want. All that we have is a gift from Him.

During this Season of Lent, let us continue to grow in our understanding of the Great gifts we have been given. Let us be faithful to Him and renew the Covenant with Him at each Mass!

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The Catholic Defender: In Prison And You Visited Me

Posted by Donald Hartley - February 13th, 2015

JudgementMatthew 25:31-45 tells us the story when Jesus, “the Son of Man, comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, and all the nations will be assembled before him.”

Something about Jesus throne that first interests me. This is a Chair of judgement, a Chair of authority, a Chair of Mercy to those saved by His grace.

To those who opened the door when Jesus knocked, to those who heard Jesus call, Jesus came into their being through the Eucharistic table of Plenty.

To those who overcame sin and lived the life of grace, Jesus gives the right to join Him on His throne.

We become partakers of the victory of Jesus who will come to judge the living and the dead.

We will sing the victory song of Psalms 118:5, “The joyful shout of deliverance is heard in the tents of the victors: The Lord’s right hand strikes with power; the Lord’s right hand is raised; the Lord’s right hand strikes with power.”

Jesus said, “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.” Jesus is clear what he is referring to, what we are called to do.

The corporal works of mercy is as follows:

mercy 1To feed the hungry;
To give drink to the thirsty;
To clothe the naked;
To harbour the harbourless;
To visit the sick;
To ransom the captive;
To bury the dead.

The spiritual works of mercy are:

To instruct the ignorant;
To counsel the doubtful;
To admonish sinners;
To bear wrongs patiently;
To forgive offences willingly;
To comfort the afflicted;
To pray for the living and the dead.

divine prisonerToday, I want to take a look at what Jesus said about visiting the prisoner, “in prison and you visited me.” This call from the Lord encompasses a little of all the corporal works of mercy and the spiritual works of mercy all in one. It is here in the prisoner that the Lord can set from from a past of hate to a future of faithfulness, it is here that spiritual need can be filled through the instruction of the Catechist.

The following is a recent letter from one such prisoner that Deepertruth Member, Fred Williams shared with me:

Fred

I am praying this letter finds you well. I am glad that you found out how to work the e-mail site. Always remember through Christ we can do all things. Fred, me and my sisters in Christ welcome you all and can’t wait to see you all on Thursday. The one thing we do know is that you all do have lots of spiritual love for us and that alone we are grateful for.

broken-chainI want to thank you for your prayers. This Catholic Religion is all new to me and I want to learn all I can out of it. There are things I still don’t understand.

I love the Lord with all my heart Fred. I struggle with some things with my family and myself but I keep on praying and believing and trusting in God.

I know by my prayer requests you do realize what’s going on with me and my family.

Fred, my sister and I are not speaking at this point. My heart is broken, but I know God is a heart fixer so I have taken the situation to Him.

I still write and tell her how much I love her, but she is very stubborn. I am asking that you pray for her and me to have a sister relationship.

I would love to have here in my life right now. Fred, I feel so lonely even though I have Machell, she is my best friend, but I am gonna keep on trusting.

(FILES) A file picture taken on July 20,My Sisiter’s name is Sharen. I did get good news my oldest Son has got a job and doing good for himself. I am excited about attending the RCIA class, I want to know the importance of the Saints. Mu church never talked about the Saints alot.

I am excited about ll of this. The Lord is ordering my steps.

I am glad that you write! I don’t get mail often, Fred I want you to have a blessed day. Sincerely yours, Sandra Cunningham.

God bless you in all you do. (Editors note: Names in this letter have been changed to keep individuals identity from being know at request of the sender)

What a wonderful letter of hope from a Prisoner who is not left forgotten, but is very much spiritual alive because of people who care to serve the Lord in serving others.

Hebrews 13:3 states, “Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them; and those who are ill-treated, since you also are in the body.” Let us also remember that Jesus came to set the captives free, that we all have sinned and need His Mercy.

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed…” Luke 4:18

The Apostle Peter in Prison:

Peter in prisonAnd when he had seized him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four squads of soldiers to guard him, intending after the Passover to bring him out to the people. So Peter was kept in prison; but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church. The very night when Herod was about to bring him out, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries before the door were guarding the prison; and behold, an angel of the Lord appeared, and a light shone in the cell; and he struck Peter on the side and woke him, saying, “Get up quickly.” And the chains fell off his hands. And the angel said to him, “Dress yourself and put on your sandals.” And he did so. And he said to him, “Wrap your mantle around you and follow me.” And he went out and followed him; he did not know that what was done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision. When they had passed the first and the second guard, they came to the iron gate leading into the city. It opened to them of its own accord, and they went out and passed on through one street; and immediately the angel left him. And Peter came to himself, and said, “Now I am sure that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting.”
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The Catholic Defender: Ross Earl Hoffman, YOU’RE FIRED

Posted by Donald Hartley - February 3rd, 2015

Ross 16Ladies and Gentleman, I regretfully announce that I, Donald T. Hartley, the Catholic Defender, President of Deepertruth do now feel that I have no choice but to publically Fire Ross Earl Hoffman.

Over the years, Ross has done many great things for Deepertruth and for the Catholic Church. His teamwork with Margie Prox Sindelar on Facebook, hosting a show on Deepertruth, the Round Table that would become the Roaming Romans became a spring board for mission trips to Israel and Rome.

Two Catholic Apologists, Dave Armstrong and Steve Ray both were connected to these trips and the Radio show.

But as Ross has continued to make false claims against me as well as others for his own personal purpose. Because of his onslaught against many people who were close associations there have been many people dividing up along lines of support.

St. Paul warns, “What causes wars, and what causes fightings among you? Is it not your passions that are at war in your members?” Because Ross, you have chosen to separate yourself from Deepertruth by your commitment of waging a personal war, anyone who differed with you were unfriended and blocked by you. Even though you have gone strictly against the intent of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, I was patient with you hoping that from Christmas till now you would allow the Holy Spirit to guide your thoughts and actions.

What I have witnessed the past two months how you used your influence to make Sleep Deprivation, Isolation, and Waterboarding a part of torture even though the Bishops had not made that connection, you chose to keep a rigid interpretation of the USCCB Guideline: Torture is a Moral Issue, you fail to understand the written text.

IMG_1839Also you have attacked Catholics who are Pro-Life, something that Deepertruth is very committed too, your tying Abortion with sleep deprivation and other forms of interrogation that are considered to be gray areas that the Catholic Church has not defined as mortal sin. You and your Clan have made attacks on even Catholic Religious who speak out against your rigid ideology.

I have received personal messages from friends that they would agree with your position to a point, but because of your reckless blind efforts have pushed even potential supporters against you.

I’m sure that any priest could share the Bishops intent of the Guidelines and would respect your position, but I was taught that you should never attack a Priest. Or even advance the false idea that I made this all up? Here are the questions I asked a Confessor:

Father, if I participated in an abortion, would I need to confess this? The answer was yes.

Father, if I utilized Artificial Birth Control, would I need to confess this? The answer was yes.

Father, if I was under orders to interrogate a Prisoner of War using sleep deprivation, isolation, and or waterboarding, would I need to confess this? The answer is no. Unless there was an abuse that clearly the Bishops intent would be torture. (After talking with Father, I need to share that he doesn’t really give a yes or no to that third question, I understood for him to have said that.) I still feel that until the Church is clear that waterboarding is a sin or not, we should use charity in discussing the issue and not condemning others.

Bishops listen to an address by Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York during the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in BaltimoreFrom my article, The Catholic Defender: The Torture Debate, I presented the following:

“On the issue of sleep deprivation, what the Bishops considered torture was the prolonged interrogation without sleep that could run 180 hrs with limited breaks, little food and drink. That would constitute as torture. But sleep deprivation in itself was not torture, it is the obvious abuse of it.”

“On the question of isolation, using a hood or placing a Prisoner in isolation was not torture, but again it would be the abuse of placing a Detainee in darkness for days and weeks without interaction, without opportunity to exercise, without food or water would constitute as torture.”

“The big one that people seem to base most of their argument on is water boarding. Water boarding does not cause “SEVERE” pain or suffering, but admittedly, it is not a pleasant experience. It creates the reflex of drowning. The USCCB has not made any of these issues classified as torture. Of course these can be torture, especially when used by our enemies.

One more reason why this is important is how you exerted your influence to bring young Catholic converts and bringing them into your personal war. I warned you before Christmas that this issue was not worth falling on your sword over, but you could not help yourself.

CameraThe United States Military does not authorize torture and for you to accuse Catholics who follow the intent of what the USCCB intends, you are wrong and now duly formally fired. Steve Dawson, Steve Ray, and and many others will be forwarded this happening. Ross, I really pray that you find peace and that you will ultimately come to see the damage you have caused and will render an apology to all that have been hurt on all sides of this happening.

Ross, your personal attacks coming from some of your loyalists do not bother me, it is sad in that I knew them as friends and Brothers and Sisters. I pray for all of you that you will all find the peace that is beyond understanding.

I will refer to Barbara (Diocese of Austin) here, that her recommendation to follow the intent of the Bishops, to foster charity between all involved. What has been happening is just the opposite.

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