Category: Catholics Online

That Time I Robbed Paul to Pay Peter

That Time I Robbed Paul to Pay Peter

Sometimes the Holy Spirit surprises you.

I walked through the white door of Redeemer Pacific College the first time, going on 15 years ago now, with the slightest tinge of guilt.

At the time, I was a student at Trinity Western University in Langley, British Columbia, majoring in biblical studies. A Protestant going to a Protestant school. The course offerings for the coming semester at Trinity were awful. All efforts to get the department to address the problem came to nothing.

And so, finally, I walked the long driveway of Trinity onto the property of Catholic adjunct school Redeemer. The building had recently been a home and still looked like one from the exterior. I entered and went hunting for somebody to talk with about courses for the next semester.

I found teacher Scott McKellar, who later confessed he worried I’d be an absolute terror in class. He nevertheless gamely passed me off to admissions. Either that day or shortly after, I met Redeemer director and founder Tom Hamel.

Redeemer was something unique at the time, and perhaps since. It was a Catholic college attached to an Evangelical Free university. Redeemer was started by Catholic alumni of Trinity with the help and blessing of the Vancouver archdiocese.

Students of Redeemer were students of Trinity. Per the agreement between the two institutions, Trinity allowed any students, Catholic or otherwise, to take their religious classes at Redeemer. Thus my presence there that day to see if I could scratch up a course or two.

I knew enough about Catholicism at the time to make the joke that I was robbing Paul to pay Peter. And I knew enough about history and theology to know the Catholic take on Scripture was defensible — though, I would have added then, wrongheaded.

Yet there’s knowing and then there’s knowing. Growing up a Baptist pastor’s kid in Tacoma, Washington, I just didn’t know many Catholics. I’d read some Catholic literature but didn’t have a Catechism, had never been to Mass though I’d seen one on TV.

Redeemer changed that. Surrounded by actual Catholic students and professors who took the faith seriously, all of my objections melted away.

To McKellar’s great relief, argument turned out to be a very small part of that process.

Mostly, it was experience that did it: Observing my new Martian Catholic friends at play and at prayer, going with them to Mass, and sleeping on a half dozen Catholic couches when 9/11 made commuting from the other side of the border a nightmare all had an effect.

All of that, with a little thunderbolt from above added in, set my life on a different course. A few years after I graduated from Trinity, I became a Catholic.

I mention Redeemer now because school alumni threw an unofficial reunion at the residence of now-retired Tom Hamel the other weekend. Several people inquired: Would I be attending?

This should have been a tough call. After watching the movie Gross Pointe Blank, I adopted a strict policy against ever going to school reunions to avoid drama and hit men.

But this was different. This was family.


Pope Francis “Worksheet” for Lent: You Have To Check it out!

Pope Francis “Worksheet” for Lent: You Have To Check it out!

Using the key words “pause, see, and return,” pontiff recommends some concrete resolutions
Need some direction for your Lenten resolutions? Pope Francis is offering it in three words: Pause, See and Return.

Here is his homily from today’s Mass with the imposition of ashes:


The season of Lent is a favourable time to remedy the dissonant chords of our Christian life and to receive the ever new, joyful and hope-filled proclamation of the Lord’s Passover. The Church in her maternal wisdom invites us to pay special attention to anything that could dampen or even corrode our believing heart.

We are subject to numerous temptations. Each of us knows the difficulties we have to face. And it is sad to note that, when faced with the ever-varying circumstances of our daily lives, there are voices raised that take advantage of pain and uncertainty; the only thing they aim to do is sow distrust. If the fruit of faith is charity – as Mother Teresa often used to say – then the fruit of distrust is apathy and resignation. Distrust, apathy and resignation: these are demons that deaden and paralyze the soul of a believing people.

Lent is the ideal time to unmask these and other temptations, to allow our hearts to beat once more in tune with the vibrant heart of Jesus. The whole of the Lenten season is imbued with this conviction, which we could say is echoed by three words offered to us in order to rekindle the heart of the believer: pause, see and return.

Pause a little, leave behind the unrest and commotion that fill the soul with bitter feelings which never get us anywhere. Pause from this compulsion to a fast-paced life that scatters, divides and ultimately destroys time with family, with friends, with children, with grandparents, and time as a gift… time with God.

Pause for a little while, refrain from the need to show off and be seen by all, to continually appear on the “noticeboard” that makes us forget the value of intimacy and recollection.

Pause for a little while, refrain from haughty looks, from fleeting and pejorative comments that arise from forgetting tenderness, compassion and reverence for the encounter with others, particularly those who are vulnerable, hurt and even immersed in sin and error.

Pause for a little while, refrain from the urge to want to control everything, know everything, destroy everything; this comes from overlooking gratitude for the gift of life and all the good we receive.

Pause for a little while, refrain from the deafening noise that weakens and confuses our hearing, that makes us forget the fruitful and creative power of silence.

Pause for a little while, refrain from the attitude which promotes sterile and unproductive thoughts that arise from isolation and self-pity, and that cause us to forget going out to encounter others to share their burdens and suffering.

Pause for a little while, refrain from the emptiness of everything that is instantaneous, momentary and fleeting, that deprives us of our roots, our ties, of the value of continuity and the awareness of our ongoing journey.

Pause in order to look and contemplate!

See the gestures that prevent the extinguishing of charity, that keep the flame of faith and hope alive. Look at faces alive with God’s tenderness and goodness working in our midst.

See the face of our families who continue striving, day by day, with great effort, in order to move forward in life, and who, despite many concerns and much hardship, are committed to making their homes a school of love.

See the faces of our children and young people filled with yearning for the future and hope, filled with “tomorrows” and opportunities that demand dedication and protection. Living shoots of love and life that always open up a path in the midst of our selfish and meagre calculations.

See our elderly whose faces are marked by the passage of time, faces that reveal the living memory of our people. Faces that reflect God’s wisdom at work.

See the faces of our sick people and the many who take care of them; faces which in their vulnerability and service remind us that the value of each person can never be reduced to a question of calculation or utility.

See the remorseful faces of so many who try to repair their errors and mistakes, and who from their misfortune and suffering fight to transform their situations and move forward.

See and contemplate the face of Crucified Love, who today from the cross continues to bring us hope, his hand held out to those who feel crucified, who experience in their lives the burden of failure, disappointment and heartbreak.

See and contemplate the real face of Christ crucified out of love for everyone, without exception. For everyone? Yes, for everyone. To see his face is an invitation filled with hope for this Lenten time, in order to defeat the demons of distrust, apathy and resignation. The face that invites us to cry out: “The Kingdom of God is possible!”

Pause, see and return. Return to the house of your Father. Return without fear to those outstretched, eager arms of your Father, who is rich in mercy (cf. Eph 2:4), who awaits you.

Return without fear, for this is the favourable time to come home, to the home of my Father and your Father (cf. Jn 20:17). It is the time for allowing one’s heart to be touched… Persisting on the path of evil only gives rise to disappointment and sadness. True life is something quite distinct and our heart indeed knows this. God does not tire, nor will he tire, of holding out his hand (cf. Misericordiae Vultus, 19).

Return without fear, to join in the celebration of those who are forgiven.

Return without fear, to experience the healing and reconciling tenderness of God. Let the Lord heal the wounds of sin and fulfil the prophecy made to our fathers: “A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will take out of your flesh the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezek 36: 26).

Pause, see and return!

The Hidden Secret Of Ash Wednesday Every Catholic Should Know

The Hidden Secret Of Ash Wednesday Every Catholic Should Know

A simple guide to the solemn day that marks the beginning of Lent.

In the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church, the season of Lent begins with the celebration of Ash Wednesday. It is a day when many flock to their local parishes to receive ashes on their forehead.

To help explain the many spiritual levels of Ash Wednesday, here is a simple guide that explains the basics.

Ash Wednesday is an ancient liturgical feast with biblical roots.

The earliest celebration of Ash Wednesday dates to the 8th century and may have come from an earlier tradition of penitents placing ashes on themselves in atonement for their sins.

The Bible has numerous examples of this type of practice, such as Job, who said, “[I] repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:6).

Easter is 46 days after Ash Wednesday.

The six Sundays in Lent are not considered part of the official “Lenten fast” (every Sunday is a special remembrance of the Resurrection of Christ), and so if you subtract six from 46, you get the famous 40 days of Lent.

It is a day of fasting and abstinence.

According to the USCCB, the following rules are in force for those between the ages of 18 and 59.

Fasting on these days means we can have only one full, meatless meal. Some food can be taken at the other regular meal times if necessary, but combined they should be less than a full meal. Liquids are allowed at any time, but no solid food should be consumed between meals.

The ashes have deep spiritual meaning.

St. John Paul II perfectly summarizes the depth of meaning behind the ashes.

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, … take not your holy Spirit from me.” We hear this plea echoing in our hearts, while in a few moments we will approach the Lord’s altar to receive ashes on our forehead in accordance with a very ancient tradition. This act is filled with spiritual allusions and is an important sign of conversion and inner renewal. Considered in itself, it is a simple liturgical rite, but very profound because of its penitential meaning: with it the Church reminds man, believer and sinner, of his weakness in the face of evil and especially of his total dependence on God’s infinite majesty.

Want To Overcome The Devil This Lent? Use These 10 Powerful Tips

Want To Overcome The Devil This Lent? Use These 10 Powerful Tips

Many times we desire to make a good Lent but time and time again we fall back to our habitual sins. There are certain things we must do to overcome the temptations of the Devil during this period of Lent.

To make this time of Lent a true time of conversion, without any concessions to the Prince of Darkness, here are 10 tips:

1. Live an ordered life

First off, give importance to prayer, which is the foundation of your spiritual life. Take time to read the Bible. We particularly suggest a meditative reading of Matthew 25:35-40.

As well, be firmly rooted in your vocation, whether it be married, priestly or consecrated life. Whatever your vocation, be faithful in all things to the call God made to you.

Finally, dedicate some time to the Church. Of course not everyone is called to full-time ministry, but all of us can collaborate in one way or another, according to our possibilities.

2. Categorically reject temptation

A major problem in the spiritual life is a slow or weak response to temptation. But with God’s grace, you can strengthen your will to firmly and decisively reject temptation as soon as it begins. Linked to this: We often have temptation because we place ourselves in a situation that is close to sin. Remember this proverb: If you play with fire, sooner or later you’ll get burned.

3. Call the enemy by its name and ask God for help

When we face or fall into temptation it is helpful to admit it: “I am being tempted by the devil, the enemy of God.” Call it by its name, and say short and fervent prayers to ask the Lord’s help. Examples of these short prayers include: “Jesus, I trust in you.” “Lord save me.” “Lord, come to my defense.” “Sweet Heart of Mary, protect me under your mantle.” Invoke (say) with faith the names of Jesus, Mary, and St. Joseph.

4. Combat desolation

Spiritual desolation is experienced as darkness in the face of divine truth, insensitivity to the Word of God, sluggishness in doing good, distance from God. This desolation can have unexpected strength and sway the good resolutions you had just a day before. St. Ignatius said that in a state of desolation, what’s important is: more prayer and more meditation, the examination of conscience (seek out why you’re having desolation) and finally, applying an adequate penance.

5. Combat laziness

You’ve surely heard the phrase “idle hands are the devil’s workshop.” This means that if you’ve got nothing to do, the devil will give you something to do. St. John Bosco didn’t like the season of vacation for his boys of the Oratory because he knew that too much free time came accompanied by temptations.

6. Use the weapons Jesus used in the desert

Prolonged and fervent prayer, constant mortification (fasting) and familiarity with the Word of God, both meditating on it and putting it into practice — these are efficient weapons to combat and defeat the devil.

7. Speak with a spiritual director

St. Ignatius warns us that the devil likes secrets; if one is in a deep state of spiritual desolation, and opens up to a spiritual director, the temptation can be overcome. Total silence is like a cut or a wound that is hidden under clothing. Until the wound is exposed and cleaned, not only will it not heal, but it will become more and more infected, potentially leading even to amputation. In the same way, once a temptation is revealed to a spiritual director, one achieves power over it.

8. Use sacramentals

Correct use of sacramentals can be very effective in the fight against the devil, particularly, for example, the brown scapular, St. Benedict’s medal, and holy water

9. Call on St. Michael the Archangel

In our battle against Satan, we should use every weapon. God chose St. Michael the Archangel as a faithful angel, prince of the heavenly army, to cast into hell Lucifer and the other rebellious angels. St. Michael, whose name means “Who is like God?” is as powerful today as he was then.

10. Call on the Virgin Mary

Mary is the human being Satan most fears, according to what many exorcists have gathered from the utterances of the demons. Mary has many titles; invoking any one of them is useful for banishing the Evil One. The ancient serpent, the devil, can charge against us with his hideous tongue, spewing venom, but if you ask help from Mary, she will crush his head.