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HELP! – DISGUSTING THOUGHTS DURING PRAYER – ARE THEY CAUSED BY THE DEVIL?

Question: Sometimes when I pray, I get really bad, even disgusting thoughts… I am not sure whether I should mention this in Confession.

Answer: “You are not alone in this problem: even some of the saints have spoken of it. Such thoughts are a particular kind of involuntary and distressing distraction in prayer. Obviously you don’t intend to have such thoughts and so you are not committing a sin, but if you want to, you can talk about the matter in Confession, though without going into details about what exactly the thoughts are. Your confessor will probably have heard of this phenomenon before and will help to reassure you.

More than normally open to distracting thoughts

When we pray we are more than normally open to distracting thoughts of all kinds. These sometimes arise from, or are consequences of, our experiences. If you have committed sins of unchastity in the past, you can renew your sorrow for those sins but without dwelling on them. We also believe in the Devil: his petty and nasty character may be responsible for the attempt to soil your prayer and to dishearten you. Therefore it is also a good idea to pray to St Michael and your holy Guardian Angel for protection.

More positively, turn away gently and peacefully from your thoughts that have disturbed you, and take the opportunity to dwell with a renewed determination on what is holy. One way to do this is to take some concrete scene, perhaps one of the mysteries of the rosary or one of the Stations of the Cross , and imagine yourself there, speak to our Lord from your heart, and ask Him for the particular graces that you need today.

Focusing on the words of the Mass or on a traditional prayer can also help. Most of all, do not be unduly disturbed and do not be tempted to give up on your prayer. It may well be that when you have found prayer difficult and a struggle; it is precisely then that Our Lord brings good out of evil, rewarding you with a deeper union with Him.”

– This article by Fr Tim Finigan was published in the Catholic Herald newspaper, issue 11 2014. [The inserted links to well-known traditional catholic devotions and prayers referred to in the above text have been added afterwards]. For subscriptions please visit http://www.catholicherald.co.uk [external link]

 

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Posted by on August 17, 2015 in Words of Wisdom

 

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WE SHOULD PARTICULARLY ASK GOD’S HELP IN RESISTING TEMPTATIONS

The best method

“It consists in praying constantly; that is in recommending ourselves on all occasions to Jesus Christ, and in invoking the intercession of our Angel guardian, of our holy patrons, and above all of the Blessed Virgin; for all God’s graces pass through her hands.

Our whole welfare depends on prayer

Our whole welfare depends on prayer. Every day we should specially ask God for perseverance in grace. He who prays for perseverance obtains it; he who does not pray for it does not obtain it, and is lost for all eternity. We should also ask from Jesus Christ the grace of His divine love, as well as perfect conformity to His holy will. And to obtain these graces, we must rely above all on the merits of Jesus and the intercession of Mary.

These prayers should be said on rising in the morning

These prayers should be said on rising in the morning. We should return to them during the day, in our devotions, at Holy Communion, in visiting the Blessed Sacrament, and, finally, at our evening examination of conscience.

We should particularly ask God’s help in resisting temptations, above all temptations against chastity. We shall be unable to resist, unless we constantly invoke the holy names of Jesus and Mary. He who prays, triumphs; he who does not pray is overcome.

He who prays triumphs

Yes, O my Jesus, how many times I have fallen, because I neglected to call upon You! Doce nos orare. O teach me Yourself to pray, and to recommend myself to the maternal care of our Blessed Mother!”

– St Alphonsus

 

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WE HAVE TO RECAPTURE THE SIMPLICITY OF CHILDHOOD TO QUALIFY FOR HEAVEN

The clean of heart

“It is only my own opinion, but I feel that we pedagogues make a mistake when, in our preaching and teaching, we equate chastity with purity or cleanliness. The usage seems an unsound one from a psychological standpoint. The constant emphasis upon ‘impurity’ in connection with sex, especially in the instruction of children, can lead to a distorted and unwholesome attitude toward the beautiful and sacred act of procreation.

It is true that St. Paul in some of his epistles excoriates sins of uncleanness, but he is condemning the sexual perversions of the pagans, a source of danger to his converts [rather than the sacred act of procreating]. Our own adoption of purity as as a synonym for chastity may stem from heresy rather than from the Bible.

For ten centuries or so the Christian Church was troubled by heretical sects collectively known as Cathari, from the Greek word which means ‘puritan’. The Cathari maintained that all things material, including human bodies, are the creation of the devil. Only spiritual substances, such as the human soul, are the work of God. The devil enslaves souls by imprisoning them in physical bodies.

Logically the Cathari condemned marriage, since to conceive new bodies was to do the devil’s work for him. The Cathari initiate was ‘pure’ only if he abjured sexual intercourse. It may be that the linking of cleanliness with chastity is a practice which ‘leaked in’ from the Cathari vocabulary to our own.

Blessed are the clean of heart

These thoughts are by way of introduction to the sixth beatitude in which Jesus says, ‘Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God.’ To Him, a clean heart is a heart in which there is no guile, a heart simple and sincere, a heart free from pretence and self-deception.

Jesus clarified the sixth beatitude for us on the occasion of blessing a group of small children. ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them,’ Jesus said, ‘for such is the kingdom of heaven. Amen I say to you, who ever does not accept the kingdom of God as a little child will not enter into it’ (Luke 18:16-17).

We all are familiar with the purity of heart which is mirrored in the eyes of a small child. It is the purity of an utterly candid nature, loving, trustful and undevious.

We adults who have experienced and perhaps have contributed to the evils in which the world abounds, may find it hard to preserve or to recapture the simplicity of childhood. Yet, we must somehow do so if we are to qualify for heaven.

An undivided love for God

An undivided love for God is the basis, the only basis, for the cleanness of heart to which Jesus refers. If God’s will is for us the ultimate measure of all things, then we necessarily shall possess the singleness of purpose which makes for sincerity.

Danger signals

What are some of the danger signals which indicate that we may be lacking cleanness of heart?

• .One such indicator is an excessive preoccupation with the opinions of others and an over anxiety to make a good impression. God’s opinion of us is the only one which really matters. If we love God and are doing our honest best for Him, we have no reason to be ashamed of our true self. It is this self, and not a deceptive mask, which we should display to one and all.

• Another symptom of a tainted heart is an attitude of selfish calculation, best expressed d in the question, ‘What’s in it for me?’ We expend effort only for personal reward and cultivate as friends principally those who can contribute to our social or financial advancement.

• Most of all, uncleanness of heart manifests itself in a tendency to ‘play down’ the evil of sin in a facility for excusing ourselves from culpability for sin.

These are a few of the basic insincerities which exclude us from our Lord’s commendation, ‘Blessed are the clean of heart.’ Probably there is none of us completely without blemish. With God’s grace and our own determined striving, we can and we must repair the ruptures in our hearts.”

– Fr Leo J. Trese, 1966 – “One Step Enough”

 
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Posted by on July 23, 2015 in Words of Wisdom

 

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“EXPOSED TO AN ALMOST IRRESISTIBLE PRESSURE TO CONFORM WITH THE HERD” – MARTYRDOM HAS MANY FACES

DO YOU EVER SUFFER FOR YOUR FAITH?

“Do you ever suffer for your faith? You may answer, facetiously, ‘Yes, every time I smell a steak being grilled on a Friday.’ There would be truth in your answer. Penance IS painful.

Virtue can be painful, too. Each time that we overcome a temptation to sin we suffer at least a little. Sometimes the suffering can be quite severe, as when a girl breaks off with the man she loves because she discovers that he has a divorced wife still living.

‘BLESSED ARE THEY WHO SUFFER PERSECUTION FOR JUSTICE’ SAKE’

This hardly would be the type of suffering which Jesus had in mind, however, when He said, ‘Blessed are they who suffer persecution for justice’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.’ Parents view the ordinary sacrifices which they make for their children as a natural expression of love. Similarly we should esteem the ordinary sacrifices entailed by God’s commandments as the minimum measure of our love for Him.

PERSECUTION FOR VIRTUE’S SAKE

Persecution for justice’ sake – that is, for virtue’s sake – calls for more than a minimum of love. The perfect exemplars of the eighth beatitude are, of course, the martyrs. A martyr proves his love for God by the ultimate test: death rather than sin.

Probably no one who reads these lines will ever be called upon to face such a heroic test of his love. However, there are more modest degrees of martyrdom. Anyone who speaks up in defence of God’s rights (in defence of racial justice, for example, or in defence of decency in dress, films and literature, or in condemnation of steady dating by highschoolers) at a time and place where those rights are not popular, is bound to incur some persecution. The persecution may be no more than raised eyebrows and chilly looks, but even that can hurt.

SOCIAL PRESSURE, ALMOST AS POWERFUL AS AN ABSOLUTE DICTATOR

Social pressure, the pressure to make us conform to the mores of the group, can be almost as powerful as an absolute dictator. We have a deep-rooted need to be liked and accepted by others. It hurts when, to defend the right and the good, we must alienate those whose good opinion we covet.

This is a type of martyrdom for which young people have more opportunities than do we oldsters. Social pressure is seldom so tyrannical and the urge to conform so powerful as during the adolescent years. Youth has such a hunger for peer acceptance, such an anxiety to be one of the crowd. In a harmless form, this urge to conform sends thousands of teenagers screaming after [a boy band]. In a less harmless form it sends thousands of college students migrating to the Florida beaches during the spring holidays, like mating seals flocking to the Pribilof Islands.

We do have ever so many fine young men and women, but we also have a progressive lessening of sexual restraint among the general population of teenagers and young adults. For many of our youth sexual experience has become the mark of sophistication, and ‘Everybody does it’ the supreme code of morality.

‘EVERYBODY DOES IT’

This poses a great challenge to us parents, priests and teachers. Our boys and girls have high ideals and a sincere desire to be virtuous. Outside the shelter of Catholic home and school, however, they are exposed to an almost irresistible pressure to identify with the herd, to conform to the rules which the herd imposes. If they do not conform, the penalty sometimes can be a painfully lonely life in high school or college.

[BEING MADE FUN OF, BEING OSTRACISED, BEING BULLIED FOR BEING ‘OUTED’ CHRISTIAN]

We who love them must help our youth to prepare for the test which, sooner or later, almost certainly they will face. We must lead them to such a strong and personal love for Christ that they may be able to withstand disapproval, ridicule, even ostracism for the sake of Him Whom they love.

YOUTHFUL HEROISM

In the Bible, the seventh chapter of the second Book of Maccabees gives us one of history’s greatest accounts of youthful heroism and parental nobility. A mother exhorts her seven sons to perseverance as, one by one, they are butchered in her presence for refusing to renounce God.

BE STEADFAST! BE STRONG! YOU ARE WORTH IT.

The mother of the Maccabees might well be our patron saint as we try to teach our sons and daughters the meaning of the eighth beatitude: ‘Blessed are they who suffer persecution for justice’ sake, for of such is the kingdom of heaven’ [Matthew 5:10].”
– Fr Leo Trese (capital headings added afterwards)

 

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PRAYER FOR THE TWELVE FRUITS OF THE SPIRIT

PRAYER FOR THE TWELVE FRUITS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

Holy Spirit,
eternal Love of the Father and the Son,
kindly bestow on us
the fruit of CHARITY,
that we may be united to You by Divine love;
the fruit of JOY,
that we may be filled with holy consolation;
the fruit of PEACE,
that we may enjoy tranquillity of soul;
and the fruit of PATIENCE,
that we may endure humbly
everything that may be opposed to our own desires.
Divine Spirit,
please infuse in us
the fruit of BENIGNITY,
that we may willingly relieve our neighbour’s necessities;
the fruit of GOODNESS,
that we may be benevolent toward all;
the fruit of LONGANIMITY,
that we may not be discouraged by delay
but may persevere in prayer;
the fruit of MILDNESS,
that we may subdue every rising of ill temper,
stifle every murmur,
and repress the susceptibilities of our nature
in all our dealings with our neighbour.
Creator Spirit,
graciously impart to us
the fruit of FIDELITY,
that we may rely with assured confidence
on the Word of God;
the fruit of MODESTY,
that we may order our exterior regularly;
and the fruits of CONTINENCE and CHASTITY,
that we may keep our bodies in such holiness
as benefits Your temple,
so that having by Your assistance
preserved our hearts pure on earth,
we may merit in Jesus Christ,
according to the words of the Gospel,
to see God eternally
in the glory of His Kingdom.
Amen.

 

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16th AUGUST, GOSPEL READING (MATTHEW 19:3-12)

YOU WERE SO UNTEACHABLE THAT MOSES ALLOWED YOU TO DIVORCE YOUR WIVES; IT WAS NOT LIKE THIS FROM THE BEGINNING.

Some Pharisees approached Jesus, and to test him they said, “Is it against the Law for a man to divorce his wife on any pretext whatever?” He answered, “Have you not read that the creator from the beginning made them male and female and that he said: This is why a man must leave father and mother, and cling to his wife, and the two become one body? They are no longer two, therefore, but one body. So then, what God has united, man must not divide.”

They said to him, “Then why did Moses command that a writ of dismissal should be given in cases of divorce?” “It was because you were so unteachable” he said “that Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but it was not like this from the beginning. Now I say this to you: the man who divorces his wife – I am not speaking of fornication – and marries another, is guilty of adultery.” The disciples said to him, “If that is how things are between husband and wife, it is not advisable to marry.” But he replied, “It is not everyone who can accept what I have said, but only those to whom it is granted. There are eunuchs born that way from their mother’s womb, there are eunuchs made so by men and there are eunuchs who have made themselves that way for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let anyone accept this who can.”

V. The Gospel of the Lord.
R. Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

 
 

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“DO YOU FEEL YOU HAVE TO HAVE SEX BECAUSE THE T.V. , MEDIA, ETC. TELL YOU SO?” ON PRE-MARITAL CHASTITY

MORE AND MORE PEOPLE ARE LEARNING THAT THEY CAN JUST BE THEMSELVES AND DON’T HAVE TO CONFORM TO WHAT THEY PERCEIVE AS SOCIETY’S EXPECTATIONS OF BEING COOL OR NOT BEING CALLED A WEIRDO. SO, YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

From the Pastoral Counselling Column (details below)

[Regarding the Sixth Commandment ‘You shall not commit adultery’ and Christian teaching on the sanctity of marriage and sex, our bodies as temples of the Holy Spirit, respecting ourselves etc.]

QUESTION:

[Dear Friar Rick: My girlfriend and I plan to get married next spring. We understand that many people have sex without being married. We feel embarrassed and out of place and ask ourselves: Are we weirdos for waiting with sex and staying chaste till we are married?]

FRIAR RICK’S ANSWER:

“Dear Weirdos: Are you really asking a man who wears a 13th century long grey robe and has vows of poverty, obedience and celibacy what he thinks constitutes weird? Really! Well, good for you. You’ve come to the right place.

Yes, you definitely are weird. How do I know? Check out the two definitions of the online ‘Urban Dictionary’ which is the arbiter of all things cool! A weirdo is defined as:

1) ‘A person who is considered strange to other people. This person may do strange things, so this person can be considered a ‘weirdo’.’

2) ‘A non-conformist who does not follow trends or a subculture. A true ‘weirdo’ will just do what they feel, and can get along with most people. This person does not actually conform to a stereotype and shouldn’t be labelled.’

YOU ARE IN EXCELLENT COMPANY

If you accept the above definitions of weirdos then you can consider yourself to be in excellent company. You would be in line with Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, as well as some of His most famous disciples including my all time favourite weirdo: St Francis of Assisi. What you may find surprising, at least I did, was that you are also in the company of a lot of your friends and neighbours. Let me explain…

[PRESERVING VIRGINITY UNTIL MARRIAGE IS A LOT MORE COMMON THAN ONE WOULD EXPECT IN OUR HIGHLY SEXUALISED CULTURE].

When I was the pastor of a parish in Toronto and worked with couples preparing for marriage there were some who in the course of the preparation admitted that they had been sexually active with one another. Let me state that when it comes to marriage preparation I am very welcoming and accepting of young people. They usually feel pretty safe to be open with me and tell me the truth. Well, to my surprise, there were quite a few couples who sometimes sheepishly acknowledged that they were both virgins. This was a lot more common than I expected in our highly sexualised culture.

PEOPLE ARE LEARNING THAT THEY CAN JUST BE THEMSELVES

It seems to me that the ‘sexual revolution’ of the 60s and 70s and its natural further development over the decades has certainly taken away the taboo feeling around sexuality. It seems to many in society that it’s okay for anyone to do anything with anyone else. No judgements. No shame. Yet I find that young people are in some ways more modest… The message has also been made and heard very clearly, that you don’t have to be sexually active unless you feel ready. Now that doesn’t exactly line up with Catholic teaching, but it moves in the right direction. Young people are learning that they can just be themselves and don’t have to conform to society’s expectations of being cool or not being called a weirdo. So, you are not alone!

ARE YOU WILLING TO BE PROUD OF THE PERSONAL AND RELIGIOUS CHOICE YOU HAVE MADE?

ARE YOU WILLING TO COME OUT OF THE ‘ABSTINENCE’ CLOSET?

Another important paradox for young people today is that in an age of social media where your every breakfast, restroom visit and yawn is documented on Facebook or Twitter, many young adults are also extremely private. So the question then arises, for you as a couple: Are you willing to come out of the ‘abstinence’ closet? Are you willing to be proud of the personal and religious choice you have made to give yourselves sexually only to the person you marry?

Your lifestyle choices may give someone else a reason to question themselves and what they are doing. It could be a graced moment of evangelisation for some of the people around you. Are you willing to take up that challenge? Your ‘Yes’ to pre-marital chastity may have a greater impact than you think on those around you.”
(This article is offered for educational purposes. It should not be seen as a substitute for obtaining counselling.)
– This article entitled “Two Weirdos? – Pre-marital chastity may have a greater impact on society than we think” by Richard Riccioli, OFM Conv. was published in Messenger of Saint Anthony” issue July-August 2013. For subscriptions please contact: Messenger of Saint Anthony, Basilica del Santo, via Orto Botanico 11, 35123 Padua, Italy.

 
 

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