Should We Pray For People After They Die?

04/03/2016

Catholics say “pray for souls in Purgatory.”

Non-Catholic Christians say “there’s no need to pray for souls after they’re dead.”

In this final video of the 2016 Lent and Easter season, I ask some basic questions about this dichotomy.

Happy Feast of the Divine Mercy!

Pray the Chaplet. Today and every day.

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Thanks for taking some of your precious time today to read and listen to my thoughts. My commitment during Lent 2016 and continuing through Divine Mercy Sunday, the Second Sunday of Easter, is to post a daily video reflection to help you and me on our walk through the season and toward Easter Sunday, and finally to the Feast of Mercy. Click here for my YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/davekwiecinski

I appreciate your help and encouragement. Please let me know how I can help you. This is something I’ve been called to do for some time. I’m finally embracing it. Father, forgive me for procrastinating.

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Tradition!

03/02/2016

What’s your favorite family tradition?

If you prefer to watch and listen to a slightly different version of this message, here’s a link:

We’ve had so many fun and touching family traditions. I’m blessed beyond belief to still be able to share holidays with Mom and Dad. We go to their house for the annual Fourth of July family bash. Thanksgiving dinner is Mom’s signature day. She still does almost all the cooking and most of the work. She is so in her element.

Growing up, we spent Christmases together with my grandparents, Christmas Eve at Babcia and Dziadzia Kwiecinski’s house and Christmas Day at Babcia and Dziadzia Konieczka’s house.

Without a doubt, my favorite Christmas tradition was and still is sharing oplatki. Oplatki is a flat wafer, resembling Communion wafer, although the texture and taste of oplatki is more like the wafer that those flying saucer candies came in.

Remember those?

Anyway, our oplatki tradition was — and still is — just before the meal, each of us takes a large piece of the wafer. Then we go around the room, breaking off a small piece of oplatki  and offering a handshake, a hug, a kiss, or any combination thereof with each other. It’s crowded. It can get a little raucous, but it is a deliberate exchange of love and good wishes with those we love.

I look forward to that as much as anything else every year. It’s so special to me.

Today’s two readings for the Catholic Mass focus on the commandments and expectations that God has for each of our lives.

Moses instructs the people of Israel (Deuteronomy 4:1, 5-9) about the statutes and decrees that the Lord commanded him to teach them. Keeping the commandments was one means to demonstrate to other nations that they were a “wise and intelligent people.”

And Jesus tells His disciples (Matthew 5:17-19) that He has not come “to abolish the law or the prophets… but to fulfill.”

But what strikes me today is that both Jesus and Moses emphasize tradition.

The first reading particularly speaks to this. The reading from Deuteronomy closes with Moses saying:

“However, take care and be earnestly on your guard not to forget the things which your own eyes have seen, nor let them slip from your memory as long as you live, but teach them to your children and to your children’s children.”  –  Deuteronomy 4:9

Moses is talking about the traditions of the Israelites. Sharing the stories of their time in Egypt and their time in the desert. I’d argue that this could include all the traditions of the Old Testament, although this is not what Moses says.

The Catholic Church is rich in tradition. It is truly the Christian tradition. Our traditions separated and segmented thousands of years after Moses, but the traditions of the Bible are ours.

I couldn’t help but think of the passionate song from Fiddler on the Roof when I read and listened to Moses.

Tradition!

We share a rich and glorious Judeo-Christian history and tradition. The commandments of God are woven into these traditions. The extension of Jesus’ command that the Ten Commandments are merely the baseline of how we’re to behave as Christians in order to gain entrance to Heaven.

Remember when I mentioned Purgatory yesterday?

Let’s consider that for just a second and consider what Jesus told the disciples.

Matthew’s Gospel, just after today’s Gospel passage, says:

“You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, ‘You shall not kill…'”  –  Matthew 5:21

“But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment…”  –  Matthew 5:22

and later,

“You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, ‘You shall not commit adultery.'”  –  Matthew 5:27

“But I say to you, everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”  –  Matthew 5:28

So… if every time I have looked cross-eyed at a pretty girl, I’ve committed adultery, if every time I’ve become angry with someone, I have essentially committed murder, my soul will require a whole lot of cleansing.

How long will I endure Purgatory when I die? If I’m not clean, if I’m not perfect, I cannot enter Heaven.

How am I cleansed? What will it take?

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Thanks for taking some of your precious time today to read and listen to my thoughts. My commitment during Lent 2016 is to post a daily video reflection to help you and me on our walk through the season and toward Easter Sunday. I will also explore other matters of faith and also health and fitness to keep us fit for the journey. Click here for my YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/davekwiecinski

I appreciate your help and encouragement. Please let me know how I can help you. This is something I’ve been called to do for some time. I’m finally embracing it. Father, forgive me for procrastinating.


What in the World is Pope Francis Doing?

02/18/2016

Catholics… what in the world is Pope Francis doing?? He infers that Donald Trump is not a Christian for making statements about what he would do to protect the sovereign borders of the United States?

Yet Pope Francis visits the United States, meets with government leaders who are actively taking steps to restrict religious freedom and force believers to pay for abortions and contraception, and the pope makes nice with them? No personal attacks then. Some of these government leaders are Roman Catholics and some rather critical of the Catholic Church. No reproof for them.

Seriously?

Let’s see… Vatican City has agreed to take two migrants into their walled city and suggests that the United States should not protect their borders with a wall? But the borders of the United States should be porous, with no restrictions?

Does anyone else see a disconnect here?

No country in the history of mankind has done more for the citizens of the world than the generous citizens of the United States of America. None. And erecting a wall to control illegal immigration is not going to change that.

The United States has a moral obligation to enforce the justly enacted laws for the protection of its citizens. How is bringing financial and potentially physical harm to its citizens moral? In any respect?

This isn’t the first red flag. The pope’s official comments and official Vatican actions concerning global warming… OOPS!! climate change… climate change… his denigration of capitalism, and now contraception is acceptable in certain circumstances!

What happened to moral absolutes?

But I digress.

Overheard on the radio: “Used to be a rhetorical question to ask

‘Is the Pope Catholic?'”

Words mean things. Official words mean a precedent is established.

This is where Kit Kat is buried. R.I.P. little buddy.

This is where Kit Kat is buried. R.I.P. little buddy.


This is Why We’re All Catholics

04/27/2015

That’s with a small ‘c,’ folks. Just not in the blog title.

‘What God has made clean, you are not to call profane.’ – Acts 11:9b

Today’s Reading is Acts 11:1-18, “The Baptism of the Gentiles Explained.”

When in college, I questioned my Roman Catholic faith. Two of my professors, Dr. Iver Yeager and Dr. David Koss, taught Religion courses. Excellent instructors.

I went to a public high school that had such a large Jewish student (and probably teacher) population, we had days off for Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. I hadn’t had a religion class since graduating 8th grade from St. Nicholas. I even met my first atheist in high school.

I went to Catholic grade schools. Hearing that my friend, Karen, did not believe in any God was shocking to me. I had never even considered such a possibility.

So when I took an Introduction to the Bible course at this non-Catholic college and seriously courted a young woman who was Christian but not Catholic, I started questioning whether I truly believed that I was a Roman Catholic. Was I a non-Catholic Christian?

This was heavy stuff that I never ever contemplated when choosing a college. And here I was, on my own, evaluating and making life decisions. A pretend grown up in a (still) adolescent brain.

I have posted previously about my Catholic faith. I don’t intend to convert any of you by reading today’s simple post. But I will tell you that my contemplation, prayer, and study over the course of many months convinced me that to be Catholic is to honor the tradition of the Apostles and the will of Jesus Christ.

Not because somebody said so. Because I saw it and believed it.

What do I believe?

I believe that Jesus Christ is truly present in the Holy Eucharist. I believe that:

(God) never cease(s) to gather a people to (Himself), so that from the rising of the sun to its setting a pure sacrifice may be offered to (His) name. – from Eucharistic Prayer No. 3, Third Edition of the Roman Missal

Think about it. Jesus instituted the celebration of the Eucharist on Holy Thursday. He commanded the disciples to “do this in memory of me.” I cannot possibly convince you in a several hundred word blog post, so I point you here instead.

I believe that the popes form an unbroken lineage of bishops that began with Jesus hand-selecting Simon Peter as the first Bishop of Rome.

I believe that Confession is a sacramental sign of forgiveness that we receive directly from Jesus Christ, through the Catholic priest as a conduit for Jesus Himself.

And I believe that today’s Reading, in which Peter, through visions, comes to understand that the Gentiles are as worthy of believing as “the circumcised believers,” confirms that the Christian church is a catholic (universal) church.

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Thanks for taking some of your precious time today to read my thoughts. My intention, beginning Friday, April 17, 2015, is to post a brief, daily meditation based on the readings from the day’s Catholic liturgy. I would appreciate your help and encouragement. This is something I’ve been called to do for some time. I’m finally embracing it. Father, forgive me for procrastinating.


Man, Do We Harbor a Lot of Darkness….

04/23/2015

Well… I sure didn’t expect this…

All I wanted to do was learn one thing about linking the “Catholic tradition” of the Eucharist to Thursdays.

And instead, I stumbled upon the following blog, Traditional Roman Catholic Thoughts, and the following blog post, “The Luminous Mysteries and Why You Should Dump Them.”

Today’s Gospel is John 6:44-51. Jesus calls Himself the Bread of Life, “the living bread that came down from heaven.”

Since I’ve started praying the Rosary with consistency and vigor, I’ve also adopted the pattern of praying the Glorious Mysteries on Sunday and Wednesday, the Joyful Mysteries on Monday and Saturday, the Sorrowful Mysteries on Tuesday and Friday, and the Luminous Mysteries on Thursday.

Pope St. John Paul II introduced the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary, or Mysteries of Light, in October 2002. At the time, I was not totally engaged as a Catholic. Yes, I practiced, assisted as a Lector and Extraordinary Minister of Communion (also a heinous act, I learned this morning), and led some faith formation small groups, but we were too busy raising kids and figuring out life. I don’t even remember the Pope officially introducing the Luminous Mysteries. And I don’t even remember him proclaiming a “Year of the Rosary.”

But he did. He messed with the long-standing tradition of the 15 mysteries of the Rosary, also known as the Marian Psalter or Mary’s Psalter (15 mysteries of the Rosary, 10 Hail Marys per mystery, 150 total Hail Marys in the “complete” Rosary compared to 150 Psalms in the Holy Bible). Apparently, this caused enormous angst among Catholics who embrace a rigid traditionalism (and maybe I should capitalize it as Traditionalism).

I had no idea.

Until this morning.

I innocently wanted to make the point about how devotion to the Fifth Luminous Mystery has deepened my faith and devotion to the Eucharist, an idea that I want to develop further at some point in my life (hold me to it, please… somebody remind me).

Instead, I learned why I should never have been praying that mystery or any of the other Luminous Mysteries.

At least according to some.

And the blog post referenced above was particularly direct in telling me why (1) I should dump the Luminous Mysteries because the Pope really didn’t have the authority to add them, (2) the Pope was really inferring that the Rosary as Mary originally gave it to us wasn’t any good any more, (3) adding Mysteries that meditate on Jesus’ life make nonsense of the “rhythm of the prayers,” (4) Heaven certainly did not approve of 20 Mysteries that the conclusion found in a book out there titled “EWTN: A Network Gone Wrong” (had I only known…), (5) the Pope was arrogant for seeking to change Mary’s devotion, (6) all popes since 1958 (who are really not “popes” at all) were and are all puppets of Freemasonry AND John Paul II was “a manifest heretic,” (7) oh! And that John Paul II was grand standing the Mother of God by introducing the Luminous Mysteries, and (8) Pope John Paul II really should have just brought back the Latin Mass if he was really interested in giving ‘people of the 80s and 90s true appreciation of the faith.’

O———kay.

I couldn’t let it go. I had to respond when the author of the blog (Jeff) paraphrased the scripture passage, asking a commenter about giving (your child) a stone when they ask for a piece of bread. My comment — on the blog site — is still awaiting moderation. Since I don’t know if it will be published or discarded, I reproduce it here.

I am not a Catholic scholar. I am far from sainthood. I can’t go a few minutes without sinning. I certainly don’t know the history and tradition of the Rosary like many of you who have commented.

But I gotta tell ya… this “debate” in the comments troubles me greatly. Saint John Paul is a modernist? There’s some tie to Freemasonry? We don’t have a real Pope?

Jeff, I wanted to respond directly to your reply to Adelina (September 1, 2014). You are right to point out that Christ is unchanging. I think I have sufficient faith and understanding to say that with absolute certainty! WE (my caps) are the changelings. WE are the flawed, the sinful, the imperfect. God only made one of us perfect. So… we as Church, we as Catholics must interact — flawed entities that we are — with the rest of the 6 billion or so flawed souls out there.

And we do our best.

Jeff, you asked:

“If someone is hungry and asks you for food, do you give them bread, or do you give them a stone?”

I happened upon the (apparently heretical) EWTN about five years ago. I knew EWTN was on the air years before that day. I just never paid any attention.

But something caught my attention that day and renewed my sense of Catholic purpose.

Since then, I have been devoted to study of Scripture, specifically Liturgy, and to praying the Rosary and the Chaplet of Divine Mercy daily.

Never once have I ever — EVER!! — considered that viewing or listening to EWTN or praying the Luminous Mysteries of the Holy Rosary have done anything less than nourish my faith and devotion. More specifically, my faith in God and Jesus Christ and my devotion to my Lord and Savior, to His Blessed Virgin Mother, and to the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.

I would consider that “bread.”

I have to admit that your referencing that particular scripture made my head spin.

The Luminous Mysteries a “stone?”

How in the name of God, in the name of Christ, in the name of Mary, in the entire tradition of the Holy Catholic Church does this detract from devotion to Almighty God?

I’ve said more than I intended already.

Just one more thing. If any of us think that we have the one set of answers, that WE can interpret the unchanging Christ and the EXACT MESSAGE that He gave us, we’re replacing Him as God. We are setting ourselves up as our own gods. (Small ‘g’ for all the traditionalists.)

I welcome discussion.

And I do welcome discussion on any of this. Here or on the original blog. All of this simultaneously fascinates and depresses the hell out of me.

(Oops… can I say “hell” and still consider myself a ‘good Catholic?’)

How’s THAT for a daily meditation?

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Thanks for taking some of your precious time today to read my thoughts. My intention, beginning Friday, April 17, 2015, is to post a brief, daily meditation based on the readings from the day’s Catholic liturgy. I would appreciate your help and encouragement. This is something I’ve been called to do for some time. I’m finally embracing it. Father, forgive me for procrastinating.


Would You Die For What You Believe In?

01/16/2015

Would you die for what you believed?

Could you?

I’ve told you before that I listen to at least a portion of the Mass on EWTN almost every day (TV when I can and radio when I’m on the road). Today, I listened on the radio as I drove to my next appointment.

Today is a feast day for the Franciscans, honoring five early followers of Saint Francis who martyred themselves instead of renouncing their faith.  Father Leonard Mary celebrated Mass today. He used his homily to give a brief history of the martyrs and how they were tempted by their captors before being killed. Father Leonard then mentioned something called White Martyrdom. White Martyrdom is not a physical death, he explained, but a dying to oneself.

The comparison was clear. How can we martyr ourselves in our everyday lives?

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Later this morning, sitting in Panera before my next personal training session, I overheard a gentleman telling his companion how Catholics had … oh… let’s call it, “a damaging way” of looking at sin, and how sharing that perspective with others is harmful to the way other people live their lives.

What?!?

I couldn’t get my headphones shoved into my ears fast enough. I needed music. Loud music. I didn’t want to listen to what this man was saying, kind and soft-spoken though he was. Despite his demeanor, his opinion — at least on this matter — didn’t strike me as kind and gentle, but rather reckless and damaging. I wasn’t angry, but I was upset at what I perceived as some egregious misconceptions.

I was trading text messages with my son, Stephen, at the time that I happened to overhear this conversation. I fired off a text message to him, expressing my exasperation over what I heard.

After I sent it, I decided that my words were so clever, I had to post them to Facebook.

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I’m a member of a small, Christian Facebook group whose purpose is to “uplift and encourage (others) through the Gospel of Christ” (that’s a paraphrase of the mission statement). Today, the founder of the group, Mariane, continued and concluded a series of reflections on moving “from darkness to light:”

“I wish that we were all full of light and love and good works always. But no, we’re still sinners, imperfect, we’re still influenced by our flesh, the world and the voice of Satan…

“… there is the aspect of free will. We need to say YES to Jesus and God’s will and say no to the devil and our flesh every day. We need to die in our flesh every day (1 Cor 15:31).”

I read Mariane’s words just after my “clever” text to Stephen. Before I almost posted my “clever” words to my Facebook page.

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I briefly thought about speaking up. But what would I have said? Would my “clever” words to the gentleman have been constructive? Or provocative? Would I have properly seized the moment, as Saint Paul preached, and attempted to “walk into the light?” Or would my response, in that awkward, uncomfortable moment, have demonstrated to the world that I have not — yet again — died to the flesh?

Shoving the earbuds against my skull proved to be the more prudent, if only merely accidental, course of action.

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Father Leonard is right. White Martyrdom is possible. Any day. Every day.

Consider how challenging it is to die to the flesh at any given moment.

Then contemplate the lives — and deaths — of those who make the ultimate Earthly sacrifice.


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