Saturday, June 28, 2014

Storm The Gates! (Part 1)

And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church,*and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.  Matthew 16:18.

"...and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.".  What does this mean? How can a gate prevail?  Wouldn't it be demons that would prevail, but that isn't want our Lord said, He said 'gates'.    

A gate is something to keep something in, or to keep something out.  It can also be used as a passageway.  

From the scripture we know there is more than one gate. ('gates' plural).  There are supposedly 12 gates into heaven the same as the number of apostles, the demon loves to mock God, so their must be more than one gate into hell, but how many?  St. Alphonsus Liguori said there were four principal gates to hell: Hatred, Blasphemy, Theft and Impurity.  I'm betting there are more than this, I think there are somewhere between 6 and 666 gates to hell.  Either way, we know there are gates, and there is more than one.  

So how could 'gates' prevail against God's church?  There are two ways a gate can 'prevail'.  

1). A gate could prevail if the gate would hold fast when it is being assaulted by an enemy force.   We could not breach the gate. 
2). A gate would prevail, if it were opened and there was such a sizable force was on the other side of that gate that would defeat whatever was attacking the gates. 

So lets look at what is on the other side of that gate.  The devil and his demons are there, the fallen angels.  Also the condemned souls are there also.  Granted, the demons are smarter than us, and they know the law of God and the bible, better than any of us can know it.  Also, the demons hate us, because we are made in the image of God and they would do anything, risk any future torture in hell to have us under their power in hell so they could inflict suffering on God's creation.  

God made hell for the devil and his fallen angels, not for man.  All things are under God's power, and the only thing he will not supersede is our free will.  We can choose this kingdom of darkness and suffering for all eternity if we wish, just by choosing to do so by rejecting God by our sins.  So who let the demons out of hell? We did.  Whenever a condemned soul passes into hell, or a mortal sin is committed by man, more demons have a chance to escape and tempt the weak into mortal sin.  By the many sins in the world we have opened the gates of destruction and death that the evil one wishes to give to each one of us.  

The good news is that although we do not have the power to close the gates, through God's church and the sacraments and sacramentals, we can definitely ask God to close them!

Our Lord said that the Gates of Hell will not prevail against His church, whether the gates are opened or closed.  So if all of the demons were sent to attack the Church (which it feels like that sometimes!), Christ's Church, the Catholic Church will always prevail.    He didn't say we wouldn't take a hit, we wouldn't be knocked back or even down temporarily, but we will never be defeated.  (But we can't have even a toenail in the devils camp, we have to be 100% God's.)

"It is in lowliness and humility that the battle is raged...and won." 1

1. See this previous blogpost:  Battling the Demon. 


Storm the Gates: Part 2: My Experience With Storming The Gates of Hell. 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

What is Your God "Relationship Status"?

In this age of social media, we all have to have a status, whether it is what we ate for lunch, where we are, or the old nemesis...the relationship status.  We have all seen it multiple times, and we all have those family members or friends that should have a limit on how many times they are allowed to change their relationship status.  

I've had friends that their relationship status changed in hours...not days.  

So, if we were to post our relationship status with God and His Church...what would it be?

A) Single: I dunno, Atheist?  If you are single, then you are alone and have no relationship with God or His Church..  

B) In a Relationship:  Ok, this is a little murky, in a relationship with whom?  This could be a relationship with Buddha or your dog.  Seems very non committal.  This person seems to be on the fence. 

C) Engaged:  Better, maybe someone who is going to Church, maybe even praying a little, seeking the Lord.  You're on the right path.  

D) Married:  This could be a Religious, or a person completely committed in their relationship to God to the point of death do us part.  The person could also be of the married or single state, but either way, they take their relationship with God to a very serious and holy place, just like a marriage.  

E) It's Complicated:  If it's complicated, I trust you it isn't complicated for God, only for us.  The only reason it could be complicated is if we have had a hurt that has made us turn from God or we have sinned against God, damaging the relationship. (Our side of it only, if we are breathing, He still loves us).  We feel the pain of our sin and turn from God, He never turns from us.  We have to remember, God never has anything to repent for, but we do. 

F) In An Open Relationship:  This is scary.  These are the people that go to Mass but then have an appointment with the psychic down the street.  They go to confession to confess adultery but check their watch after their act of contrition to make sure they aren't late to meet their mistress.  This is NOT an open relationship, it is a closed one.   Closed because of their sin, they have closed their relationship with God, but said yes to someone much more terrifying.  God doesn't allow straddling fences, either you are His or you are the evil one's.  So many people think "no one sees", when God sees not only your action, but the motive of your heart!  Do you really think you can give a 'nod' to God while you do what you want?  You are playing with your eternal judgement.  God is not mocked and the confessional is NOT fire insurance.  

G) Widowed:  This is a religious or other committed 'married' person (see above)  who has died inside to the faith they profess on the outside.  They 'go through the motions' of the Holy Mass, or the Sacraments, or just being a lay person and serving at church, but inside they are dead to any true contrition, repentance or love.  They have allowed legality, or hurts, or desire for control to kill anything that was truly of God inside them.  They held on to these hurts, held them close to their heart until the Sacred Heart was blocked from renewing theirs.  The love no one and continue in sacred rituals through which God still works, but they are dead to.  Pray hard for them. 

H) Separated:  We see this many times in the Church.  Catholics, raised in the faith, perhaps even committed in the faith at some point but for some reason start to fall away either to the world or to Protestant Faiths.   They may still come to Holy Mass occasionally, (Easter and Christmas Catholics!) for special occasions, but they have lost interest because they never really understood what was happening here.  They may give a feigned smile to the Church, but their passing love notes to Martin Luther. 

I) Divorced:  Any Catholic who was raised and once engaged in the faith that goes completely to another faith.  They will speak ill of their Catholic faith and all Catholics, thus widening the gap of any hope for ecumenicism.  They will openly encourage other people in the Catholic church to get 'divorced' also.  These people love to tell how great being 'divorced' is.  Being divorced from the Holy Mass and the most Blessed Sacrament sounds like the worst punishment anyone could suffer.    

J) Civil Union:  This is a tough one, because it is like a marriage, but you marry your same 'type'?  I don't' know....Catholics that become Episcopalians?  To me I have the same reaction, you just want to say... "Why"?