Thursday, December 30, 2004

The question of salvation

."Oscar Romero, the martyred Archbishop of San Salvador, once said: "A preaching that does not point out sin is not the preaching of the gospel. A preaching that makes sinners feel good, so that they are secured in their sinful state, betrays the gospels call...A preaching that awakens, a preaching that enlightens - as when a light turned on awakens and of course annoys a sleeper - that is the preaching of Christ, calling: Wake up! Be converted! That is the Church's authentic preaching."

While there are so many good and faithful priests who do preach on the reality of sin and the need for reconciliation, there are those who have no love for the souls under their care. As a consequence, these priests neglect the souls entrusted to them and make no attempt to stress the reality of sin and the need for ongoing conversion.

When Jesus began His public ministry, He did so with the word "repent" (Matthew 4:17). And He advised the woman caught in adultery to "sin no more" (John 8:11). Likewise, in the case of the man cured at the Pool of Bethesda, Jesus advised him to "sin no more lest something worse befall thee" (John 5:14).

When queried on the subject of how many would be saved, Jesus replied "few" because the "gate" to Heaven is "narrow" (Matthew 7:13-14). And while no one can pinpoint the precise meaning of the word "few," still, it is sobering that Jesus chose the image of a narrow gate. Jesus is likened in the gospel to a stern master who has lazy servants flogged and murderous ones put to death (Matthew 21:41; Luke 12:47). And while it is true that Jesus is Mercy, He is also Justice. And for every parable illustrative of His mercy, there are three or four threatening divine retribution.

The Judgment Day is always described as a day of wrath and never as a day of rejoicing (Proverbs 11:4; Zephaniah 1:15; Sirach 5:10; Romans 2:5; Revelation 6:17). Why is this? If everyone (or even a large segment of mankind) is headed for Heaven, why does Sacred Scripture refer to the Judgment Day as a day of wrath?

The smug, self-satisfied "we-are-all-saved-already" attitude found in so many Catholic parishes is the result of the sin of presumption. Because there are priests who are betraying Jesus by refusing to preach on the reality of sin and the reality of Hell, a spiritual dry-rot has infected much of the Church. This is why nearly everyone receives Holy Communion at Mass but nearly no one goes to Confession.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church has this to say about presumption: "There are two kinds of presumption. Either man presumes upon his own capacities, (hoping to be able to save himself without help from on high), or he presumes upon God's almighty power or his mercy (hoping to obtain his forgiveness without conversion and glory without merit)." (CCC, 2092).

The words of Sacred Scripture remind us that such an attitude is very, very wrong: "Of forgiveness be not overconfident, adding sin upon sin. Say not:' Great is his mercy; my many sins he will forgive.' For mercy and anger alike are with him; upon the wicked alights his wrath." (Sirach 5:5-7).

If we are living a sacramental life, confessing our sins and receiving Jesus in the Eucharist as often as possible (at the very least on Sunday which is our obligation) while praying each day for His grace and mercy, we have nothing to worry about. This isn't presumption. This is confidence in God's mercy as we strive every day to conform our will to His divine will. But God will not be mocked. He can neither deceive nor be deceived.

God love you all!
Until next time
Paul Anthony Melanson

Saturday, December 25, 2004

A Thought

"As charity towards God has grown cold, the mutual charity of men among themselves has likewise cooled." - Pope Leo XIII, Mira Caritatis, May 28, 1902.

This is why Our Lady was seen weeping at La Salette and this is why she told the children "If my people do not obey, I shall be compelled to loose my Son's arm. It is so heavy that I can no longer restrain it."

Pope Leo XIII was right. Many people throughout our "modern" society no longer love God or their neighbor. Even within the Church we encounter those who pride themselves on being "Catholic" while displaying a cold indiference toward their fellow human beings. Vatican II had something interesting to say about this: "He is not saved, however, who, though part of the body of the Church, does not persevere in charity. He remains indeed in the bosom of the Church, but, as it were, only in a 'bodily' manner and not 'in his heart.' All the Church's children should remember that their exalted status is to be attributed not to their own merits but to the special grace of Christ. If they fail, moreover, to respond to that grace in thought, word and deed, not only shall they not be saved but they will be the more severely judged." (Lumen Gentium, No. 14).

Do we truly understand this teaching of Vatican II? If so, let's all begin to demonstrate our understanding (and acceptance of) this teaching by sincerely loving one another and by committing ourselves each and every day to those gestures of reconciliation which show our love of God (first and foremost) and our love of neighbor for the love of God. Let's not pride ourselves that we are "cradle Catholics" if we have no love of neighbor. Let's not take pride in the fact that we have a "ministry" within the Church. God can raise ministers (as well as sons of Abraham) from stones. No, let us humbly acknowledge our sinfulness and our inability to accomplish anything apart from Jesus. For He has said it: "Without Me, you can do nothing."

Shall we admit our total dependence upon God? If we do, Jesus will then be able to use us. If we continue in pride, He won't be able to accomplish anything through us. And our judgment, as Vatican II reminds us, will be all the more severe.

Lord Jesus, I am only a useless servant. I have only done my duty.

Until next time,
God love you all
Paul Anthony Melanson

Fidelity is a virtue not a vice


Recently, I had occasion to meet with an old friend and to discuss matters pertaining to the Church in general, and the sex abuse crisis in particular. This woman is heavily involved in the Church and serves as the Director of Religious Education for a parish in Manchester, New Hampshire besides serving as a spiritual director for the Cursillo movement within the same diocese.

In the course of our conversation, this woman stunned me with a rather strange comment. I say strange because it has always been my impression that this woman was an orthodox Catholic who fully accepted everything revealed by God and taught by the Magisterium of the Church founded by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

And what was this comment? It was her assertion that the young priests being ordained today are "ultra-orthodox" and believe that "they know everything." Such a comment is troubling for a couple of reasons. First of all, the word "orthodoxy" comes from the Greek word orthodoxia, meaning purity of faith or a right opinion. Orthodoxy is therefore belief in the true Faith founded by Jesus Christ. How then can a priest (or anyone else for that matter) be too orthodox? Can one be too faithful to the truths revealed by Christ?

And what of her charge that the young priests of today believe that they know "everything." What else is this but a cynical slur directed against those faithful young priests who actually possess a certainty regarding the truths of the Catholic Faith? After all, the teachings these faithful priests accept with certainty are revealed truths. If these priests accept fully everything revealed by Holy Mother Church, isn't this out of humility rather than arrogance? A failure to appreciate those young priests who are striving to remain faithful to the Depositum Fidei is disturbing enough. But to slander such priests by intimating that they are somehow arrogant because of their certainty, or by suggesting that they believe themselves to "know everything," is indicative of an attitude which fails to live up to the Gospel demand of charity.

It was Dr. Dietrich von Hildebrand who reminded us that, "Modern man is a relativist who shuns the idea of objective truth, proud of his critical superiority over the naive dogmatists of former times; and in the same breath he most uncritically accepts everything to be accessible through learning and accepts everything taught by relativists as absolute truth. How can one account for this paradox? In reality, these attitudes stem from one and the same source. Contradictory as they are when professed by one and the same person, they both testify to the old truth that the man who turns away from God inevitably becomes the prey of an idol. The one who wants to shake off the sacred bond of absolute truth inevitably falls into the web of the most naive, uncritical (not to say superstitious) worship of unfounded opinions. He who shirks episteme (knowledge) inevitably becomes a disciple of doxa (opinion)...The egocentric sovereignty that modern man arrogates to himself bans everything that has the character of coming from above, of imposing bonds upon us, and of calling for an adequate response. Modern man also shuns all the factors in life which are gifts, which he cannot grant to himself: they remind him of his dependence upon something greater than himself and above himself. Thus truth in its implacable sovereignty - absolute truth that judges our reason instead of being judged by it - is denied." (The New Tower of Babel, pp.18-19).

What is our attitude toward absolute truth - revealed truth? Do we accept it with humility? Or do we believe ourselves to be wiser than God? What is our attitude toward those who do accept revealed truth? Do we castigate such people and slander them with accusations of arrogance because they possess a certainty regarding revealed truth? Or do we rejoice in seeing such fidelity to Christ and His Church?

Fidelity is a virtue, not a vice. We should be edified when we come across Catholics who are striving to remain faithful to the Church's authentic teaching. If we see fidelity to Christ as something negative, might that suggest something about us?

Until next time,
God love you
Paul Anthony Melanson

Friday, December 24, 2004

Thursday, December 23, 2004


Originally uploaded by cleghornboy.

Our Lady of La Salette: Reconciler of Sinners. Pray for us who have recourse to thee.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004


Reconciliation: Its meaning and value

Most of us are aware that sin destroys our relationship with God and that it also undermines our relationships with family members, friends and others with whom we come into contact. Reconciliation refers to that precise effect of Christ's redemption of the human race by His sacrificial death on the Cross which restores our relationship with God and breaks down the barriers of sin which prevent us from engaging in authentic relationships with others.

In the words of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, "Conversion is accomplished in daily life by gestures of reconciliation, concern for the poor, the exercise and defense of justice and right, by the admission of faults to one's brethren, fraternal correction, revision of life, examination of conscience, spiritual direction, acceptance of suffering, endurance of persecution for the sake of righteousness. Taking up one's cross each day and following Jesus is the surest way of penance." (1435).

In other words, our transformation in Christ, our daily conversion, is made manifest by such gestures of reconciliation by which we demonstrate our commitment toward the theological virtue of charity "by which we love God above all things for his own sake, and our neighbor as ourselves for the love of God" (CCC, 1822). We are told in Sacred Scripture that a faith without works is dead (James 2:14-19). An authentic reconciliation, therefore, will show itself in a charity which embraces both God and neighbor. As Jean Jaouen so eloquently puts it, "..Christian compassion cannot be a cerebral, fleshless reality. It is completely impossible for one who loves people coldly to dissociate eternal salvation from the temporal well-being of a human person. A person is a whole. Time is eternity already begun yet still not completely visible. The conflict will be resolved if Christian apostles learn to live with their people while remaining present to the Lady who, with her Son, weeps over both the death of souls and the death of little children. 'Lady of heaven, empress of earth.' Through the Virgin Mediator and Queen, apostles will find a balance between the demands of heaven and those of earth." (Jean Jaouen, m.s., "A Grace Called La Salette: a story for the world," pp. 327-328, grassroots publishing international, Enfield, New Hampshire, English edition 1991).

Until next time,

Monday, December 20, 2004

Our Lady of La Salette

On September 19, 1846, the Mother of God appeared to two shepherd children, Melanie Calvat and Maximin Giraud, on the slope of a mountain located in the French Alps, near the village of LaSalette. The "Beautiful Lady," as the children described her, was seated on a stone and her elbows were resting on her knees, her face buried in her hands as she wept bitterly. Then, the Beautiful Lady arose and with a reassuring look and a maternal voice calmed the children's fear. She told the children that disobedience to the laws of God and of His Church as well as blasphemy, failure to keep the Lord's Day, and a lack of prayer were the cause of her tears.

The message of LaSalette was a plea for humility, prayer and penance. A message which emphasized personal conversion and reconciliation with God, neighbor and self. This message is a timeless one and one which is so important for our own day.

Devotion to Our Lady of La Salette was approved by the Bishop of Grenoble in 1851, and by the Popes since St. Pius X. Today, on the site of the apparitions, there stands a large Church. And nearby is the monastery of the Missionaries of La Salette, the Religious who administer the shrine.

This website is dedicated to Our Lady of La Salette, Reconciler of Sinners. Any questions or comments may be forwarded to:

In God's Love,
Paul Anthony Melanson
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