One of our writers, Renee Kray, wrote up a short paranormal story that has been published. If you appreciate this genre of literature, and are looking for a story from it which does not violate Catholic beliefs, then I urge you to read this.
Really that’s such a small word, and one that writers and readers hear about nearly every day. But it’s such a hard thing to apply to our lives in reality. We never seem to want to remember to see something through someone else’s eyes or take a walk in their shoes, because it’s easier for us to just judge them according to our own perspectives and make them fit into whatever pre-made mold we have waiting. If we could only remember to look at things from other peoples’ perspectives, we would be kinder. We would be more patient. There would be less wars and hatred overall. Perspective is an important thing, but it is so often overlooked.
In the writing world, perspective is one of the most powerful tools we have at our disposal. A bad guy might not seem so bad if you tell the story through his eyes instead of through the hero’s. A monster might not seem so frightening if you show what they’re really like on the inside.
Perspective was the inspiration for my recently published short story, Jimmy. The idea for this little ghost story came about when I was sitting outside with a friend and we were discussing the paranormal. We both agreed that it was a shame that people instantly hear the words “ghost” or “haunted” and assume it’s a scary spirit out to get them, or just something that they have to go in and investigate for a thrill. How does that look from the ghost’s perspective? What if they’re really trying to tell something to the living, or if they need help from us? What if they’re not trying to be “scary” at all? Ghost stories from a different perspective might not be such a frightening thing. They might be sad cries for help, or desperate attempts to hold on to the life they once led.
With this in mind, I wrote Jimmy to tell the story of a haunting from a ghost’s perspective. It has recently been published online by readshortfiction.com, much to my delight. I hope that after reading this introduction you will take the time to experience Jimmy and maybe we can all remember to try to keep multiple perspectives in mind the next time we see something in black and white.
Follow this link to read Jimmy:
I hate suffering.
I also hate to say that so bluntly, but to put it any other way would be dishonest. I don’t imagine anybody likes suffering, or else it wouldn’t be suffering at all. You and I, we like comfort: we like our warm beds, we like our food to taste good, we find ourselves complaining, inwardly or outwardly, when things don’t go as we want. I would venture to say that this very desire for pleasure is an indication that we are made by and for the Good Lord: it shows that happiness is the goal of life. God made us to be happy, and that’s what we spend most of our time wanting to be.
And yet, the state of happiness we exist for isn’t reached by being happy as we think of the word (i.e., as pleasure). Paradoxical as it may be, we can only make ourselves permanently and truly happy if, throughout our lives, we willingly bear that which makes us unhappy.
In other words, if we suffer.
Suffering is not the end of our life: happiness, beatitude, is the end of our life. But suffering, allowing ourselves to be unhappy here and now by offering our sufferings for the sake of holiness, is the means to achieving the beatitude for which we live. Think for a moment: Christ Our Lord shows how to live an ideal human life. And as Fulton Sheen so eloquently put it in Life of Christ, “. . . to Christ, death was the goal and fulfillment of His life, the gold that He was seeking. Few of His words or actions are intelligible without reference to His Cross . . . The story of every human life begins with birth and ends with death. In the Person of Christ, however, it was His death that was first and His life that was last” (Life of Christ, Ch. I, pg. 5). If Christ’s life, centered on suffering, is the exemplary life, then should we not view suffering as our own modus operandi?
Our Good Lord said to the Samaritan woman at the well that those who adore the Heavenly Father must do so “in spirit and in truth”, for that is the adoration God desires (John 3:24). Additionally, we’re all familiar with the section of Scripture where Christ said that “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me” (Douay-Rheims Bible, Luke 9:23). In light of these two passages, our participation in the Sacrifice of the Eucharist is gaged not by how lively we are in making responses or by how many roles we perform in the sanctuary, but rather, by how much we manage to unite our personal sacrifices with the sacrifice of Our Lord presented on the altar. The Roman Canon mentions “these holy and unblemished sacrifices“, Latin sacrificia, and there’s a reason for the plural use: the Mass isn’t just the Sacrifice of the Cross, it’s our own sacrifices, too. And if we don’t suffer, we have no sacrifices, and if we have no sacrifices, our assistance at Mass is pointless, our relationship to Christ is more or less severed, and our very lives have their purpose obstructed.
If the Eternal Son of God, perfect, innocent, and infinite, did not begrudge suffering, why should we, who are so much more deserving of suffering than He? If the Blessed Virgin Mary, the one sinless member of this fallen race, needed to suffer with the Lord at Calvary, why should we demand less for ourselves, who sin daily? We have a job to perform, which St. Paul was able to see clearly: we must use our sufferings to complete whatever is lacking in the effectiveness of Our Lord’s death (Col. 1:24). No one will deny that the sacrifice of Christ covers all the sin of the world; no one will deny that it was complete, infinite, and entirely pleasing to the Father. But we humans have free will. We can spurn the grace which Our Lord handed to us on the Cross, and so He has established that, taking up that cross we’ve been given, we work to ensure that people turn to the Cross and the graces it won. Christ opened the floodgates of Heaven and offered the grace to man, but He would never force man to accept it. And so, because those who refuse it won’t use their free will for His purposes, He asks for our free will instead, and uses that to soften the hardened wills of unbelievers.
Thankfully, any suffering fits the bill. You can offer any and all of your sufferings for the well-being of yourself and others. Don’t want to get out of bed in the morning? Offer it in union with the Cross of Christ. Having trouble sleeping? No good food in the refrigerator? Have house cleaning to do? Is an obnoxious sibling pestering you? Do you feel self-conscious, lonely, or bored? Are you stressed about something? All of it can be used for the higher purpose of uniting yourself with God. To borrow from St. Paul again, “Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (NIV, Col. 3:17).
It’s worth pointing out that suffering not only unites us with Our Lord and works for the welfare of souls (our own and those of others), but it also can remove the temporal punishment we receive as a result of our daily venial sins: that is to say, it shortens our time in Purgatory. If we don’t willfully suffer now, we’ll need to spend a greater amount of time in Purgatory, the pain of which, to borrow from St. Augustine, “will be more painful than anything man can suffer in the present life” (Comment on Ps. 37:3. Journel, no. 1476, qtd. here). As I wrote earlier, we human beings are made for God. If we suffer here and now, we will be united with God in Heaven much sooner and might very possibly bypass Purgatory altogether. If we wait until Purgatory to suffer, however, not only will we have to wait longer (possibly a good deal longer!) before we enter Heaven, but the very pain of being absent from God in Purgatory will make the suffering there all the greater!
Like I said, I hate suffering. If we—you, I, and everyone—didn’t hate suffering, it wouldn’t be suffering. Of course it’s tough. But if you ask for the grace to bear your sufferings, not only will they become less difficult, but you’ll even begin to actively appreciate suffering, as an opportunity to unite yourself and others around you more closely with your Creator, Who has purchased you with His own Blood (Acts 20:28). And it’s highly likely that, the more you offer up your sufferings for the cause of holiness, Our Blessed Lord’s words will become reality for you: “My yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light” (New Living Translation, Matt. 11:30).
By Michael B.
There is nothing new under the sun. This goes, particularly I might add, for the Devil and his normal “game plan” when tempting humans. From the Garden of Eden to this moment, the temptations that the Father of Lies sends us are predictable. Now although we all could look through our lives and find this fact; to illustrate the repetitiveness of some of the temptations the example used will be one that we all know about. In the book of Genesis we read about the fall of man. In the Gospel of Luke (and others but Luke is whom I will use) we read about the Devil tempting Jesus in the desert, after forty days of fasting.
Now with the Garden, Satan starts his temptations with the appetites, in this case for food. The book of Genesis says that “It was a delight to the eyes…” (RSV Gen 3.6). Since it worked in the Garden, it was tried with Jesus. Lucifer said (Massively paraphrased) , “hey you’re hungry, make these rocks into bread so you can satisfy your hunger”. Jesus, unlike what our first parents did told him “no”. In both cases the food would have been very satisfying, but Jesus shows that our will needs to be in control, not our hunger for food. Now this was something not expected by the Devil. So the Devil tries another tactic.
So with human’s appetite for food not a way for the Devil to tempt Jesus; Satan works on Pride, more specifically the human appetite for esteem or glory. I would say that this temptation, in general, is a temptation that the devil is especially good at. I am not saying that some temptations are his “strong points”, while others are not; just that his is the sin that cause himself to fall. Lucifer was the number one angel (see Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraph 391), no other created creature was equal to him. But he could not understand how in serving (mankind) he would be rising in glory. Likewise, in the Garden, he tells Eve “you will be like God” (RSV Gen 3.5) Furthermore, Satan shows Jesus “all the kingdoms of the earth” which Jesus could rule. In return, Jesus undid Adam and Eve’s disobedience by contradicting with “You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve” (RSV Luke 4.8). In both cases though, the Devil uses the desire for glory to get us to think of ourselves.
The connections between the Devil’s temptations in the Garden of Eden and Jesus in the desert show us that it is guessable on what Satan will do. Fortunately we can, and should, learn from this “game plan” of the Devil and act accordingly. On the other hand though, the reason why this “game plan” is no different than the years before is the fact that it still works. The reason why it works is that they are powerful temptations, and the fact that the Devil NEVER quits. The best way to fight them is through the Blessed Virgin Mary, so stay close to her. Feel free to comment below. God bless.
Revised Standard Version. Camden: Thomas Nelson Pub., 1952. Print.
Good morning, my good people,
A few years ago I heard a priest (whom I suppose we’ll call “Priest W”, for no reason) give a little presentation about Confession, and thank the Good Lord, almost a whole room of people ended up making use of this Sacrament that evening. Unfortunately, Priest W made a common mistake, which I’m sure you’ve heard: he said that although people used to confess the number of times they committed their given sins, it’s not done like that these days.
And considering that’s what I had heard for years and no one ever mentioned doing it the “old way” to me, I was rather surprised to learn that the old method still holds: according to the 1983 Code of Canon Law, “A member of the Christian faithful is obliged to confess in kind and number all grave sins committed after baptism” which have not already been confessed (Can. 988 §1).
Pope St. John Paul II also wrote the same thing in his 2002 Motu Proprio, “Misericordia Dei”:
" Since ‘the faithful are obliged to confess, according to kind and number, all grave sins committed after Baptism of which they are conscious after careful examination and which have not yet been directly remitted by the Church’s power of the keys, nor acknowledged in individual confession’ (Can. 988 §1), any practice which restricts confession to a generic accusation of sin or of only one or two sins judged to be more important is to be reproved. Indeed, in view of the fact that all the faithful are called to holiness, it is recommended that they confess venial sins also."
So what does this mean? It means that if you (unfortunately) have a mortal sin to confess, try your best to remember how many times you ended up doing it. If you can’t remember precisely, then make an approximation. If you can’t do that, you should tell the priest you really can’t count how many times it was but you are sincerely sorry anyway.
Now, that’s all well and good, but what if you haven’t confessed your mortal sins in number before? You don’t need to confess them again, do you? Thankfully not. You confessed them previously with invincible ignorance of the actual protocol. They’re gone. You’re good to go. But do bear it in mind for the future. Venial sins are not required to be confessed in number (since they’re not required to be confessed at all). Still, for the sake of getting into the habit of confessing mortal sins properly (if, God forbid, you have any in the future), it wouldn’t be a bad thing to confess even venial sins in number.
As Fr. Z so bluntly put it over here at his blog, “Pay no attention to the liberals who belittle the necessity of confessing in kind and number by stupid phrases like ‘laundry list’.” It’s not about legalism or scrupulosity or OCD. It’s about giving an admission of all your sins so that all your sins can be forgiven and, furthermore, it’s so that you can know they’ve been accounted for.
Who knows? It might even deter you from mortally sinning in the future so you won’t have to go through the added mental process of counting how often the sin was committed!
By Michael B.
'Fire of the Spirit' Teen blog is run by Henry B. To find more information about this blog, go here