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Aug 312014
 
When many people hear the word prophet, they think of someone who predicts the  future. You know: ” You will meet a stranger who will give you lots of money.” However, such a person is not a prophet, he or she is a clairvoyant. God tells us to keep away from them for they are not speaking for Him. A prophet is one who speaks for God and predicts what will happen if we do not repent. He will read the signs of the times and in union with God will see what  will happen if the world does not change. All of us are called to be prophets.
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If we look at the second reading, we can see one of the most important things needed to be a prophet—a renewal of our minds. We have a calling to live in the world but not to be of it and that means to see things from God’s perspective and not the world’s. We then have a calling to live our lives in a way that others repent and turn to God themselves. This is our call to be prophets. Unfortunately, many in our country have lost this and have allowed their minds to be darkened by the world. The world’s ideas will always darken our minds from Christ if we embrace them.
One of the first teachings that the world cause people to reject is sin. Our call is to teach about sin for sin is destructive.
Many will look at the destruction of sin as for example the hangover after getting drunk the night before. Getting drunk is a sin and the destruction it causes is a hangover and it grows from there into addiction, etc.
That is true, but let us look at something even more obvious and blatant.
We have seen some great destruction in Ferguson Missouri and many people claiming racism in the death of a black teenager. Well let us look more closely:
If all involved in the original incident that led to the riots understood and took to heart the message on sin, none of it would have happened. Of course, the media never brought that word up, from what I heard.

Are You Being a Prophet? by Frbob Carr on Mixcloud

An eighteen year old ended up dead in a struggle with a police officer and we do not know all the facts, but allegedly he was shoplifting from a store prior to the incident. Shoplifting is stealing and is a sin. The punishment for stealing is not death, we are not Babylonians, but you can see the great destruction that happened when everything begins with sin. The tiniest sin, eventually, can lead to the greatest destruction. So leading people away from sin and toward Christ is the call of the prophet. You cannot do one without the other or you are wasting your breath. You and I have a calling to be prophets.
You may say quickly that clearly he should not have been stealing, if in fact he was. That is true, but did he know that stealing is wrong, did he know about sin and redemption, did he take it to heart? Why or why not? You see the more prophets there are in the world the less this type of destruction happens. People die because they don’t live or hear the word of God. God may turn to them at the day of judgement, but he will turn to you and ask why did they not hear the word that would have saved their life.
This is not an inner city black teen that died. This is a child of God. God calls us as Catholics to preach the message to all that all may be saved. If we are not living the message, people die. Sin caused all of this and multiplied with people speaking not of peace, but of a worldly justice that was promoted by some street thugs.

 

When we see the issues that have popped up in our world today, many think of the Book of Revelation, also known as the Apocalypse. However, I am seeing a greater connect to the book of Ezekiel.
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Ezekiel preached to the people of Judah whose capital was Jerusalem. They had gone astray including the most powerful, the professional religious to many who were neither. Meanwhile, on the warpath was the nation of Babylon which today is Iraq. Ezekiel warned the people that Babylon would strike and destroy if the people did not change their ways. However, the people did not believe him. He called people to repentance, and they did not listen. Meanwhile, God showed the prophet all the secrets of the people that they could not keep from God. He showed Ezekiel how He knew all that was happening and showed the prophet what was happening behind the scenes including the priests practicing idolatry. Ezekiel warned and warned. The people did not listen. Eventually, the Babylonians came in, just as God said and the destruction was not only massive, it was not that much different than what we have seen on the news. Literally as gruesome. If I were to make a comparison of which Book seems to be the similar to our times, it would not be the Book of Revelations, it would be Ezekiel.
Our world  and  our nation have turned from God in much the same way as the people of Judah. They are in great sin. You and I have a call to bring them back. You and I have a call to teach people to come to Christ, to know sin and to turn to Christ for the healing from Sin. If we do not do this, we are not prophets. We are thinking as the world thinks and we the world does not need more of its own thinking.
We are in the world not of it and if we take that to heart, we can be the prophets we were called to be at baptism. If we don’t, we offer the world nothing but the path to its own destruction.
God bless you,
Fr. Robert J Carr

Fr. Carr is an alliance member of the New Song Community (Canção Nova). He is the pastor of Holy Trinity Quincy, MA and is the editor of this blog. He is the author of several books, blogs and hundreds of videos all of which you may find at his website. He also has a regular radio program on WebRadio Canção Nova. Which he podcasts on Mixcloud and here on Catholicismanew.
You can follow him on twitter as @frbobcarr. Thoughts, comments on the homily? Let us know at Facebook

 Posted by at 01:01
Sep 132012
 

“Only Christian love can change hearts, not arms, nor threats, nor the media can change them”, teaches Van Thuan. Most important still is to understand taht here, one does not treat love that I receive, but the capacity that I have to offer love and grace to others. Whomever love like this encounters in his/her heart a continual change. Whomever stops loving is a dead person who no one ever buried!

Ricardo Sá

translated from portuguese

Feb 052010
 

Imagine a tightrope walker maneuvering across the audience in a circus. He has his balance pole and carefully he walks one step in front of the other as he goes from the left side of the arena to the right. Everyone looks up; some crane their necks to see the man who is so daring. Under the man is a bit of a dampener on the experience. It is a safety net. Required by law, the safety net reminds us that even if he falls, he not be hurt. We are happy to see that, but we realize the risk involved is not to the level it would be if indeed there was no net. The man is doing more than enough to prove His daring, but the state says they want him protected.

That scene also offers us a reflection on the difference between a legal based religion and that one that Christ calls us to live.

When we seek to live the faith only based on what the law says, it is like we are walking across the stadium on the safety net. We are doing the bare minimum that allows us to be called a performer, but what we are doing is not spectacular. Really, the only person who could get away with that in the eyes of the audience is the clown.

If we choose to be the tightrope walker then we are performing in a way that merits the attention we are getting. It takes great skill, practice and determination. Likewise, if we are going to live our faith, we must live above and beyond the minimum required. We must be like the tightrope walker, not like the one who walks across the safety net.

When we live our faith strictly at the legal level, then we really have nothing to offer the world around us. There is no life there and at best we can be dismissed as clowns. Jesus rejected those who lived their lives at that level. The Pharisees followed the letter of the law perfectly, but they did not follow the spirit of the law. They lived at the safety level but not above it. They were doing the bare minimum, even if they felt they were doing more. Jesus pointed out to them that they had nothing to offer to the world.

We need to go far beyond this level if we are going to live our Catholic faith, otherwise we are just clowns.

God bless you,

Fr. Robert J. Carr


Jan 222010
 

When we baptize a child, we begin by bringing the person out of the chaos. It is a simple movement, but I am not sure people understand how powerful it is. As a priest, I am always aware of the power of that moment. What we do is simply to make the sign of the cross on the person about to be baptized. The priest acts first and then the rest of the faithful follow, particularly parents and godparents. This simple act is actually working on the same principle as bringing order out of chaos. When we do that act, we are claiming to all the forces in the spiritual world that this is Christ’s child and they cannot touch him/her anymore. It is an intensely powerful act and moment, even though it seems routine.

This is not something to be taken lightly.

The end of the baptism is also powerful and, likewise, is often misunderstood.

There, the priest touches the ears and lips of the now baptized and says: “May the Lord touch your ears to hear His word and your lips to proclaim His faith to the praise and glory of God the Father.” If you look at it carefully, this is a commissioning.

The baptized receives the call out of the world of darkness, into the light of Christ. Now s/he goes back to the world as a child of light to preach to into the darkness. The person preaches with his/her life. Now in practice, when we baptize babies, it is not possible to completely act on that commissioning and the rite anticipates it. It looks to the future and says, there will come a time when the baptized will fulfill this call at confirmation. This is why when people say that the role of the Catholic is to pay, pray and obey; it is an act of propaganda.

The Catholic by virtue of the baptismal call and later the other two sacraments of initiation—Eucharist and Confirmation has the call to be a revolutionary for Christ as one on the front lines of His Kingdom. Called out of darkness into the light, the person is sent back into darkness as an agent of light to bring the truth of Christ to the world. The problem is that because the act has more of a spiritual significance and we live more in the material world, few people understand it other than a routine act.

from Being Catholic Agents for Change by Fr. Robert J Carr. Link is not affiliated with the New Song Community or the Archdiocese of Boston

Jan 172010
 

I want you to look at the second reading and there you will notice one of the most controversial lists in US Catholicism. What you are reading there from St. Paul are some of what we now call the Charismatic gifts. These are unique realities that involve what some would call a supernatural manifestation in the natural of the power of God. In many parts of the Catholic world, especially that part outside North America and Western Europe these gifts are common. Here in the US they are looked at askance.

These comprise part of what is known as the Charismatic Renewal in English and is described in similar terms in other languages.

What are these gifts all about in Paul’s time and in ours? These gifts which, as you can see here, were considered a normal part of Christianity for the first centuries of our faith, became manifest again in Catholicism in 1967 during a retreat in Duquesne University. It was there a group of Catholic college students and their teachers prayed for and experienced the power of the Holy Spirit and became the first to manifest these gifts. This is an interesting fact because when I first met New Song Community founder: Fr. Jonas Abib, he told me that the the problem with the Church in the US is that it rejected the Charismatic renewal, but the strange thing is that it started here.

I believe he is right and I will explain that in a minute. In Catholicism there are two movements that I have found to be mutually exclusive. I have never found anyone who is a member of one movement who is simultaneously a member of the other. That does not say that they don’t exist, but I have never found them. The movements are Liberation Theology and the Charismatic Renewal. This is a key element for those of us familiar with both forms of Catholicism. One leader of liberation theology in South America was silenced by the Vatican. The US secular press, as could expected, painted the Vatican as the bad guy in this dispute, but in fact, this form of liberation theology has a violent element in support of picking up arms in the name of the gospel. One priest reported to me that it is not uncommon in those circles to have people distribute communion saying “Vote for insert candidates name here” instead of “Body of Christ.”

The Charismatic Renewal is more spiritually focused than materially focused and for that reason the two movements are mutually exclusive. For those of you who do not know this, our local Catholic college here in Boston is very strong on liberation theology. Franciscan University of Steubenville, OH is very strong on Charismatic spirituality and what little our local media understands at all about Catholicism has its roots in liberation theology.

Liberation Theology is about using the gospel for making political and material changes in our world.

The Charismatic Renewal is about the Holy Spirit doing the work of God through his people and as you can see from this list, the manifestations of the Spirit are not something that are easily accepted in an environment as cerebral as ours especially in New England.

The Charismatic gifts were common in the  Church up until the beginning of the Fourth Century. It is easy to see why, this was the beginning of the Church and also a time a great persecution. They returned to the Church over various periods, returning again in 1967. That is also to see why we are now at the early stage of a very serious persecution of the Church in various parts of the world including the United States and especially in Boston.

These gifts exist for this reason. It is important to know that the sacraments of initiation in the Church—baptism, confirmation and Eucharist are not tickets to a bus driven a priest to get you to Heaven. They are the door through which we enter into the Kingdom of God and then participate in the mission of the Church which is the salvation of souls. The gifts you see here are there to help strengthen the Church and its mission in service to God. In fact, many times in the gospels Jesus reminds us that our task is to bear fruit for the Kingdom, not to go along for the ride.

Maybe one minor example of this the unifying power of the gifts is: When I had my first visit to Brazil and my first encounter with Canção Nova we participated in a morning Eucharistic adoration with everyone praying in tongues. At that time I did not speak a word of Portuguese. For those who don’t understand this Portuguese is not a dialect of Spanish nor vice versa. As one priest explained to me Portuguese does have a similarity to spanish but it is a language unto itself with its own grammar and syntax. A person who speaks Spanish, but does not speak Portuguese will know when someone is speaking Portuguese because it sounds like Spanish but you can’t understand what they are saying.

Here I am surrounded by people who speak this language, but we are adoring Christ in using the gift of tongues. No one understands the language they are speaking but all understand they adoring Christ and this is a unifying element of the gift of tongues. You might say that how can a group of people be speaking different languages and be unified. It is because then the prayer language turns into a form of music that is on pitch, on key and is just as central a part of the gift as the prayer language. When 20,000 people from various countries are  praying in different languages and it is unified in tone and pitch, that is powerful and virtually impossible to duplicate, as I understand, without lots of practice. This strengthens the community and its mission. This would be an example of the power for the church of one of these gifts.

The Charismatic Renewal is real but it fell on hard times in the United States because even though the Church hierarchy in Rome embraced it, the US hierarchy, although did not reject it, many priests and bishops did not enthusiastically embrace it either allowing it to continue without strong leadership in many parts of the country. Brazil received the Charismatic Renewal through the work of an American Priest still serving there. The Church hierarchy embraced it as did many of the people. Canção Nova, for example, has a very strong relationship with the hierarchy of Brazil. Indeed, one man in our Church hierarchy who is quite familiar with Canção Nova is the Papal Nuncio to the US.

These gifts you see Paul describe are very real and are used for the benefit of the Church everyday. Maybe we as Americans can be more open to them especially during this time of growing anti-Catholic persecution especially here in the New England area.

They are real, and are there to strengthen the mission of the whole Church. As they were in Paul’s time a normal part of Christian life, so they are in our time called to be a normal part of Catholic life. Yet, in order to be fully experienced participants we need to be in strong relation with our Church hierarchy who need to be able to lead those who participate in Charismatic spirituality.

You can see an example of this in a video that I recorded at the 40th Anniversary of the Charismatic Renewal at the New Song (Canção Nova) Mother House in Cachoeira Paulista, Brazil.

God Bless You,

Fr. Robert J Carr

Fr. Carr is the pastor at St. Benedict Parish in Somerville, MA and is the editor of this Blog. He is an alliance member of the New Song Community.

Jan 152010
 

It is easy to live Christianity by simply attending mass on Sunday and being a nice person the rest of the week. However, true Catholicism is active and it calls people to live in such a way that we show the love of Christ in all that we do.

This does not mean that we do not pray, that would be ridiculous; we pray and our work comes out of our prayer. This is an essential part of what it means to be Catholic. This means that we act on our faith. When we do this, we live a tightrope walking faith and sometimes I mean that almost literally. Often times we think of the faithful person as living in perfect safety and doing God’s work. Sometimes this work can be dangerous and even deadly. The reason why we have martyrs is that it can be dangerous to be a Christian. Martyrs lived their faith at the level of the tightrope.

In my own experience, at times, I prayed terrified before the Blessed Sacrament for something that I had to do or say that would get me in trouble. I learned over the years that rarely has what I most feared come to fruition. What if my fear paralyzed me into what we Catholics call the sin of omission? Sometimes, we have to take serious risks; we have to be the tightrope walker. The more we do it, the more dangerous it is, but the more we learn better how to walk the tightrope.

Jesus needs clowns, but He also needs tightrope walkers and sometimes He calls us to be one and sometimes the other. If we are really going to live our faith, then we are going to take the risk at times of walking that tightrope even when we would rather just clown around.

The tightrope walker may volunteer at a soup kitchen, may speak out for someone who does not have a voice, may stand up for the truth. Each of these and so many other things take courage and resolve. This means that unlike the circus performer, the Catholic form of the tightrope walker can be quite unpopular, even among Catholics. After all, Jesus’ biggest critics were some of His fellow Jews.

We need to start asking ourselves in prayer, do we have what it takes to be a tightrope walker, or are we going to go through life living on the level of the safety net. If we choose to do the latter, we will never experience true Christianity. If we choose to do the former, we will only succeed when we rely completely on Jesus working through us and when we trust in His love for us and for others.

from Being Catholic Agents for Change by Fr. Robert J Carr. Link is not affiliated with the New Song Community or the Archdiocese of Boston

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