Truly Called to Holiness / Verdaderamente Llamados a la Santidad

Many of us have probably heard about the universal call to holiness, present throughout the Church’s history and prominently proclaimed by the Second Vatican Council. Our readings remind us of this call, and they help us flesh out what God truly expects of us when he asks for holiness.

“Who can ascend the mountain of the Lord or who may stand in his holy place? He whose hands are sinless, whose heart is clean, who desires not what is vain” (Ps. 24:3–4). Our Psalm clarifies that the call to holiness is not just a call to be virtuous or kind; it is a call to be sinless. This can be intimidating, as is Christ’s declaration in the Gospel: “It would be better for [a scandalous person] if a millstone were put around his neck and he be thrown into the sea than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin” (Luke 17:2). The one who causes a child to sin deserves not just rebuke, but death. It seems like St. Paul has similar standards for priests and bishops: “Appoint presbyters . . . on condition that a man be blameless. . . . A bishop as God’s steward must be . . . temperate, just, holy, and self-controlled” (Titus 1:5–8). Priests must be blameless, bishops holy.

Our inclination might first be to take these statements figuratively, relieving ourselves of the burden of living up to such high standards. But we have to remember that this is a call that God is especially serious about. He repeats the injunction “Be holy” many times throughout Leviticus 19–20, to name just one place, and fills it out with the phrase, “for I the Lord your God am holy,” as if to say, “I can do it, so you should too.” When we stop and think about this, it seems ridiculous. Sure, God is holy, but He is also divine! Why would His action be the standard for us?

On our own, this isn’t realistic, and that’s the critical point. “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you” (Luke 17:6). What enables us to be truly holy, blameless, even sinless, is the grace that flows from God, which we access by a life of faith in Him and work out in charity. With the grace flowing from our Baptism and the sacramental life, we have Christ’s own life in us. We are incorporated into Him, fueled by the same divinity. He is the natural Son of God; we become adopted sons and daughters.

This is a good thought; it is also a practical one. We have to understand that when the Catholic Church teaches things like filial adoption, she isn’t using a mere metaphor: these are metaphysical realities, a point which brings us back to the daunting call in our readings. God really calls us to be sinless, but He also provides a real avenue through which we can do it: faith in Him, following His commandments, and living His sacramental life. In this month of November, we can be comforted with the knowledge that if we keep the Faith and remain in a state of grace, God will bring us to Him even if we are not yet perfect. Only “he whose hands are sinless” can enter beatitude, but through the fires of Purgatory, what is lacking is made complete. Let us pray to get at least that far!

Contact the author


Muchos de nosotros probablemente hemos oído hablar de la llamada universal a la santidad, presente a lo largo de la historia de la Iglesia y proclamada de manera destacada por el Concilio Vaticano II. Nuestras lecturas nos recuerdan de este llamado y nos ayudan a desarrollar lo que Dios realmente espera de nosotros cuando nos pide la santidad.

“¿Quién subirá hasta el monte del Señor? ¿Quién podrá estar en su recinto santo? El de corazón limpio y manos puras y que no jura en falso.” (Sal. 24:3–4). Nuestro Salmo aclara que el llamado a la santidad no es solo un llamado a ser virtuoso o bondadoso; es un llamado a ser sin pecado. Esto puede ser intimidante, como lo es la declaración de Cristo en el Evangelio: “Más le valdría [a una persona que provoca el pecado] ser arrojado al mar con una piedra de molino sujeta al cuello, que ser ocasión de pecado para la gente sencilla.” (Lucas 17:2). El que hace pecar a un niño no sólo merece la reprensión, sino la muerte. Parece que San Pablo tiene estándares similares para sacerdotes y obispos: “establecieras presbíteros. . . han de ser irreprochables. . . . el obispo, como administrador de Dios, no debe ser arrogante, ni iracundo, ni bebedor, ni violento, ni dado a negocios sucios.” (Tito 1:5–8). Los sacerdotes deben ser irreprensibles, los obispos santos.

Nuestra inclinación podría ser primero tomar estas declaraciones en sentido figurado, liberándonos de la carga de vivir de acuerdo con estándares tan altos. Pero tenemos que recordar que este es un llamado que Dios toma especialmente en serio. Repite el mandato “Sean santos” muchas veces a lo largo de Levítico 19–20, para nombrar solo un lugar, y lo completa con la frase “porque yo, el Señor, vuestro Dios, soy santo”, como si dijera: “Yo puedo hacerlo, así que tú también deberías hacerlo.” Cuando nos paramos a pensar en esto, parece ridículo. Claro, Dios es santo, ¡pero también es divino! ¿Por qué su acción sería la norma para nosotros?

Por nuestra cuenta, esto no es realista, y ese es el punto crítico. “Si tuvieran fe, aunque fuera tan pequeña como una semilla de mostaza, podrían decirle a ese árbol frondoso: ‘Arráncate de raíz y plántate en el mar’, y los obedecería”. (Lucas 17:6) Lo que nos permite ser verdaderamente santos, irreprensibles, incluso sin pecado, es la gracia que fluye de Dios, a la que accedemos mediante una vida de fe en Él y obrando en la caridad. Con la gracia que brota de nuestro Bautismo y de la vida sacramental, tenemos la propia vida de Cristo en nosotros. Estamos incorporados a Él, alimentados por la misma divinidad. Él es el Hijo natural de Dios; nos convertimos en hijos adoptivos.

Es un buen pensamiento pero también es práctico. Tenemos que entender que cuando la Iglesia Católica enseña cosas como la adopción filial, no está usando una mera metáfora: estas son realidades metafísicas, un punto que nos lleva al abrumador llamado en nuestras lecturas. Dios realmente nos llama a ser sin pecado, pero también proporciona un camino real a través de la cual podemos hacerlo: fe en Él, seguir Sus mandamientos y vivir Su vida sacramental. En este mes de noviembre, podemos sentirnos consolados al saber que si guardamos la Fe y permanecemos en el estado de gracia, Dios nos traerá a Él aunque aún no seamos perfectos. Sólo “aquel cuyas manos están sin pecado” puede entrar en la bienaventuranza, pero a través de los fuegos del Purgatorio, lo que falta se completa. ¡Oremos para llegar al menos allí!

Comunicarse con el autor

David Dashiell is a freelance author and editor in Nashville, Tennessee. He has a master’s degree in theology from Franciscan University, and is the editor of the anthology Ever Ancient, Ever New: Why Younger Generations Are Embracing Traditional Catholicism.

Feature Image Credit: Gera Juarez, cathopic.com/photo/10814-capilla-del-santisimo-sacramento

Passing through Fire / Pasando por el Fuego

All Souls’ Day is a wonderful opportunity to pray for the dead, uniting our personal intentions to the prayers of the Mass. The month of November also gives us the opportunity for indulgences when praying for the dead. Most of us know that this is an important part of the Christian life, even a work of mercy, but suffrage for the dead has become less practiced in modern times.

In the old Requiem Mass, said at funerals, memorials of the dead, and on All Souls’ Day, the priest repeated this petition for the dead at least three times: “Eternal rest give unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them.” At the Offertory prayer before the preparation of the altar, the priest prayed: “Lord Jesus Christ, King of glory, deliver the souls of all the faithful departed from the pains of Hell and the bottomless pit. . . . Let the holy standard-bearer Michael lead them into the holy light. . . . Lord, in praise we offer you sacrifices and prayers, accept them on behalf of those who we remember this day: Lord, make them pass from death to life, as once you promised to Abraham and his seed.” At the Sequence before the Gospel, the faithful were reminded of the Last Judgment and implored God to spare them from damnation.

Today, we can forget that the faithful departed need our prayers. We focus on verses such as “The souls of the just are in the hand of God” and “I shall raise him on the last day” and pass over “As gold in the furnace, he proved them” and “We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death.” All of these verses are present in the options for All Souls’ Day, but sometimes we forget how important it is to pray for the dead, that God may soon grant them eternal rest.

The faithful departed do have heaven to look forward to, an eternity of union with God. But for most of them, we cannot be sure if they have arrived yet, which means that they are experiencing intense suffering in Purgatory. In Purgatory, they experience a pure love of God, but they see more clearly than ever their imperfections, and are torn apart with pain over being separated from Him. It is our prayers and sacrifices that help these faithful to be purged of their sins that keep them from embracing God.

We should still rejoice in the ultimate fate of the faithful departed, and should give praise to the Lord for His great mercy in preparing a place for the just. At the same time, we should not stop praying for them. The souls in Purgatory eagerly await the heavenly banquet, and they richly reward those who help them to get there more quickly. Such small things to us as offering a Mass or praying a Rosary on their behalf go a long way for them.

Contact the author


El Día de los Muertos es una maravillosa oportunidad para orar por los difuntos, uniendo nuestras intenciones personales a las oraciones de la Misa. El mes de noviembre también nos da la oportunidad de indulgencias al orar por los difuntos. La mayoría de nosotros sabemos que esta es una parte importante de la vida cristiana, incluso una obra de misericordia, pero el sufragio por los muertos se ha vuelto menos practicado en los tiempos modernos.

En la antigua Misa de Réquiem, dicha en los funerales, en memoria de los difuntos y en el Día de los Muertos, el sacerdote repetía esta petición por los difuntos por lo menos tres veces: “Dales el descanso eterno, oh Señor, y que brille la luz perpetua. sobre ellos.” En la oración del Ofertorio antes de preparar el altar, el sacerdote oró: “Señor Jesucristo, Rey de la gloria, libra las almas de todos los fieles difuntos de las penas del Infierno y del abismo. . . . Que el santo portaestandarte Miguel los conduzca a la luz sagrada. . . . Señor, en alabanza te ofrecemos sacrificios y oraciones, acéptalos en nombre de aquellos que recordamos este día: Señor, hazlos pasar de muerte a vida, como una vez prometiste a Abrahán y su descendencia.” En la Secuencia antes del Evangelio, se les recuerda a los fieles del Juicio Final e imploran a Dios que los librara de la condenación.

Hoy en día podemos olvidar que los fieles difuntos todavía necesitan nuestras oraciones. Nos enfocamos en versos tales como “Las almas de los justos están en la mano de Dios” y “Yo lo resucitaré en el último día” y pasamos por alto “Como oro en el horno, los probó” y “Ciertamente fuimos sepultados con él por el bautismo en la muerte.” Todos estos versículos están presentes en las opciones para el Día de los Muertos, pero a veces olvidamos lo importante que es orar por los muertos, para que Dios les conceda pronto el descanso eterno.

Los fieles difuntos están esperando entrar el cielo, una eternidad de unión con Dios. Pero para la mayoría de ellos, no podemos estar seguros si ya llegaron, y es posible que estén experimentando un intenso sufrimiento en el Purgatorio. En el Purgatorio experimentan un amor puro de Dios, pero ven más claramente que nunca sus imperfecciones y se desgarran de dolor por estar separados de Él. Son nuestras oraciones y sacrificios los que ayudan a estos fieles a ser purgados de sus pecados que les impiden abrazar a Dios.

Todavía debemos regocijarnos en el destino final de los fieles difuntos, y debemos alabar al Señor por Su gran misericordia al preparar un lugar para los justos. Al mismo tiempo, no debemos dejar de orar por ellos. Las almas del Purgatorio esperan ansiosas el banquete celestial, y recompensan ricamente a quienes las ayudan a llegar más rápidamente. Cosas tan pequeñas para nosotros como ofrecer una Misa o rezar un Rosario para ellos es una gran ayuda para sus almas.

Comunicarse con el autor

David Dashiell is a freelance author and editor in Nashville, Tennessee. He has a master’s degree in theology from Franciscan University, and is the editor of the anthology Ever Ancient, Ever New: Why Younger Generations Are Embracing Traditional Catholicism.

Feature Image Credit: Gime Salvatelli, cathopic.com/photo/12327-fuego

Turn to the Lord / Volver al Señor

On this feast of two apostles, Sts. Simon and Jude, we’re reminded of how Jesus chose the Twelve. “Jesus went up to the mountain to pray, and he spent the night in prayer to God” (Luke 6:12). Luke often mentions Jesus at prayer, and here He is doing so before a decisive moment: the choosing of the twelve men who would pass on His priestly ministry and spread His Gospel to the ends of the earth.

As in all things, Jesus’ action is a model for ours. Of course, Jesus is God, so His prayer is a bit more mysterious than ours. Jesus consults with His Father, totally at home in the consubstantial relationship of Trinitarian communion. Even so, this ought to be a model for us: it should not feel strange to us to turn to God in prayer, and we should seek it out even when it is difficult. Our goal should be to have by adoption that relationship which Christ has with His Father by nature.

Acting from the context of that relationship, we desire to seek out the counsel and communion of God before all major life decisions. Before we decide to take or leave a job, relocate, enter a vocation, or adjust our lifestyle in a significant manner, we ought to turn to God. If we are in a position of leadership or authority over others, we ought to consult Him before making significant decisions in that sphere.

In our Gospel reading, we notice that Jesus does not simply take a break to pray. He climbs a mountain and prays through the night. Before such an important decision as the establishment of the Church, He does not waste any time. Jesus ensures that He has solitude and time to pray. He moves to a different space, where He can listen without unnecessary distractions, and He chooses a time when nothing will be demanded of Him. For us, this could be making a silent retreat, or it could be going on the porch for half an hour before anyone else has awakened.

More generally, Jesus’ example shows us that we should consult God in everything. We ought to learn to reference that relationship of communion everywhere and at all times, to pray without ceasing, as St. Paul reminds us. This can look different at different times, but the main thread is including God in the process of decision-making.

Moment-to-moment, this involves a humbling of self, submitting to the will of God. We could make decisions entirely on our own and thank God at the end of the day, or we could simply ask Him to bless our own plans. But when we attempt to make our own plans and decisions without asking Him for guidance, we ultimately fail. Without Him, we can do nothing, even in the small-scale arena of minor decisions. God wants us to do His will, for His sake and for our own. Jesus shows us today that it is the Lord who makes our works fruitful, and we need to turn to Him for guidance.

Contact the author


En esta fiesta de dos apóstoles, Santos Simón y Judas, recordamos cómo Jesús escogió a los Doce. “Jesús subió al monte a orar, y pasó la noche orando a Dios” (Lucas 6:12). Lucas habla de de Jesús en oración con cierta frecuencia, y aquí lo hace antes de un momento decisivo: la elección de los doce hombres que transmitirían su ministerio sacerdotal y llevarían su Evangelio hasta los confines de la tierra.

Como en todas las cosas, la acción de Jesús es un modelo para la nuestra. Por supuesto, Jesús es Dios, por lo que Su oración es un poco más misteriosa que la nuestra. Jesús consulta con su Padre, completamente cómodo en la relación consustancial de la comunión trinitaria. Aun así, esto debería ser un modelo para nosotros: no nos debe resultar extraño voltearnos a Dios en oración, y debemos buscarlo aun cuando sea difícil. Nuestra meta debe ser tener por adopción esa relación que Cristo tiene con Su Padre por naturaleza.

Actuando desde el contexto de esa relación, deseamos buscar el consejo y la comunión de Dios antes de todas las decisiones importantes de la vida. Antes de decidir tomar o dejar un trabajo, mudarnos, entrar en una vocación o ajustar nuestro estilo de vida de manera significativa, debemos volvernos a Dios. Si estamos en una posición de liderazgo o autoridad sobre otros, debemos consultarlo antes de tomar decisiones importantes en esa esfera.

En nuestra lectura del Evangelio, notamos que Jesús no se toma simplemente un descanso para orar. Sube a una montaña y reza durante la noche. Ante una decisión tan importante como el establecimiento de la Iglesia, Él no pierde el tiempo. Jesús asegura que tiene soledad y tiempo para orar. Se traslada a un espacio diferente, donde puede escuchar sin distracciones innecesarias, y elige un momento en el que no se le exigirá nada. Para nosotros, esto podría ser hacer un retiro silencioso, o podría ser salir al patio media hora antes de que cualquier otro se despierta.

De manera más general, el ejemplo de Jesús nos muestra que debemos consultar a Dios en todo. Debemos aprender a hacer referencia a esa relación de comunión en todas partes y en todo momento, a orar sin cesar, como nos recuerda San Pablo. Esto puede parecer diferente en diferentes momentos, pero el punto principal es incluir a Dios en el proceso de tomar de decisiones.

Momento a momento, esto implica una humillación del yo, sometiéndose a la voluntad de Dios. Podríamos tomar decisiones por nuestra cuenta y agradecer a Dios al final del día, o simplemente pedirle que bendiga nuestros propios planes. Pero cuando intentamos hacer nuestros propios planes y decisiones sin pedirle a Él que nos guíe, casi siempre fallamos. Sin Él, no podemos hacer nada, incluso en la pequeña arena de las decisiones menores. Dios quiere que hagamos su voluntad, por su bien y por el nuestro. Jesús nos muestra hoy que es el Señor quien hace que nuestras obras sean fructíferas, y debemos volvernos a Él para que nos guíe.

Comunicarse con el autor

David Dashiell is a freelance author and editor in Nashville, Tennessee. He has a master’s degree in theology from Franciscan University, and is the editor of the anthology Ever Ancient, Ever New: Why Younger Generations Are Embracing Traditional Catholicism.

Feature Image Credit: Titi Maciel Pérez, cathopic.com/photo/14952-comunidad

God’s Plan / El Plan de Dios

The introduction to St. Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians is a mouthful for lectors and an earful for listeners, but it is profound in its depth. Instead of glossing over it, as we tend to do when we hear so many relative clauses one after the other, we ought to try to understand what Paul is saying.

He begins his letter by blessing God the Father for giving us “every spiritual blessing in the heavens” and for choosing us in Jesus Christ, “before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish before him” (Eph. 1:3–4). The Father planned for all eternity, before the world was even formed, to send Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, for the holiness of mankind.

This holiness is itself, in a sense, salvation, since holiness is union with God, and salvation brings us into a state of union with God forever. In saving us, Christ gave us holiness, and the Father orchestrated this particularly through “[destining] us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ” (Eph. 1:5). By being incorporated into Jesus Christ, Who in Himself is the union of God and man, we can appropriate that same union and become truly one with God, “holy and without blemish before him.”

The Father chose to bring about this salvific holiness by His own free will, “in accord with the favor of his will,” and not because of anything we did (Eph. 1:5). He did it “for the praise of the glory of his grace that he granted us in the beloved” (Eph. 1:6). In other words, the Father gave us salvation in Jesus Christ so that the wonders of His grace would be praised. Specifically, so that the wonderful plan of redemption and forgiveness in Christ would be praised (see Eph. 1:7–8).

“In all wisdom and insight, he has made known to us the mystery of his will in accord with his favor that he set forth in him” (Eph. 1:9). God not only predestined this plan to go into effect from before the foundation of the world, but He decided to make it known to us in time, so that we might be prepared for the grace of holiness that would come through Christ (“his favor that he set forth in him”).

After detailing the Father’s plan to bring us into union with Himself through the saving power of Christ in the forgiveness of sins, Paul gives us insight into the universal significance of this plan. It is not just a plan for each individual, but a plan for the entire universe, “as a plan for the fullness of times, to sum up all things in Christ, in heaven and on earth” (Eph. 1:10). All things, divinity and humanity, are summed up in Christ. And all things, created and uncreated, are to be summed up in Christ.

Responding to God’s great favor toward us in ordaining such a glorious plan, we ought to appropriate this grace by becoming incorporated into Jesus. We do this through the sacramental life which He set forth and by living according to His commandments. With such a wondrous purpose in mind, our goal should be to praise the glory of God’s grace by summing up all things in Christ, bringing everything and everyone we can into this relationship of harmony with the Creator, present metaphysically in the hypostatic union.

Contact the author


La introducción a la Carta de San Pablo a los Efesios es duro leer para los lectores y un grito para los oyentes, pero es profundo. En lugar de pasarlo por alto, como tendemos a hacer cuando escuchamos tantas cláusulas relativas una tras otra, debemos tratar de entender lo que Pablo está diciendo.

Comienza su carta bendiciendo a Dios Padre por darnos “ttoda clase de bienes espirituales y celestiales” y por elegirnos en Jesucristo, “antes de crear el mundo, para que fuéramos santos e irreprochables a sus ojos” (Efesios 1: 3–4). El Padre planeó desde toda la eternidad, incluso antes de que el mundo fuera formado, enviar a Jesucristo para el perdón de los pecados, para la santidad de la humanidad.

Esta santidad es en sí misma, en cierto sentido, la salvación, ya que la santidad es unión con Dios, y la salvación nos lleva a un estado de unión con Dios para siempre. Al salvarnos, Cristo nos dio la santidad, y el Padre orquestó esto particularmente porque “por medio de Jesucristo, [somos] sus hijos” (Efesios 1:5). Al ser incorporados a Jesucristo, quien en sí mismo es la unión de Dios y el hombre, podemos apropiarnos de esa misma unión y llegar a ser verdaderamente uno con Dios, “santos y sin mancha delante de él”.

El Padre escogió realizar esta santidad salvífica por Su propia voluntad, “y determinó, porque así lo quiso”, y no por nada que hayamos hecho (Efesios 1:5). Lo hizo “para que alabemos y glorifiquemos la gracia con que nos ha favorecido por medio de su Hijo amado” (Efesios 1:6). En otras palabras, el Padre nos dio la salvación en Jesucristo para que las maravillas de Su gracia fueran alabadas. Específicamente, para que el maravilloso plan de redención y perdón en Cristo sea alabado (ver Efesios 1:7-8).

“El ha prodigado sobre nosotros el tesoro de su gracia, con toda sabiduría e inteligencia, dándonos a conocer el misterio de su voluntad” (Efesios 1:9). Dios no sólo predestinó este plan para que se cumpliera desde antes de la fundación del mundo, sino que decidió dárnoslo a conocer a tiempo, a fin de que estuviéramos preparados para la gracia de la santidad que vendría por medio de Cristo.

Después de detallar el plan del Padre para traernos a la unión con Él a través del poder salvador de Cristo en el perdón de los pecados, Pablo nos da una idea del significado universal de este plan. No es solo un plan para cada individuo, sino un plan para todo el universo, “Este es el plan que había proyectado realizar por Cristo, cuando llegara la plenitud de los tiempos: hacer que todas las cosas, las del cielo y las de la tierra, tuvieran a Cristo por cabeza” (Efesios 1:10). Todas las cosas, divinidad y humanidad, se resumen en Cristo. Y todas las cosas, creadas y no creadas, deben resumirse en Cristo.

Respondiendo al gran favor de Dios para con nosotros al ordenar tan glorioso plan, debemos apropiarnos de esta gracia incorporándonos a Jesús. Hacemos esto a través de la vida sacramental que Él estableció y viviendo de acuerdo con Sus mandamientos. Con un propósito tan maravilloso en mente, nuestro objetivo debe ser alabar la gloria de la gracia de Dios resumiendo todas las cosas en Cristo, trayendo todo y todos los que podamos a esta relación de armonía con el Creador, presente metafísicamente en la unión hipostática.

Comunicarse con el autor

David Dashiell is a freelance author and editor in Nashville, Tennessee. He has a master’s degree in theology from Franciscan University, and is the editor of the anthology Ever Ancient, Ever New: Why Younger Generations Are Embracing Traditional Catholicism.

Feature Image Credit: Kiki Garcia, cathopic.com/photo/7246-cruz-iluminada

God Knows Best / Dios Sabe Mejor

This week, we are making a brief run through the Book of Job. The excerpts that we receive at Mass may seem a bit confusing out of context. It’s helpful to get the context of the other chapters of Job, too. At the beginning of the saga, Satan was allowed to test Job, thinking that if what he loves is taken away, he will no longer be the most righteous man on earth: “But now put forth your hand . . . and surely he will blaspheme you to your face” (Job 1:11). God allows Satan to go ahead. We know throughout the book that God has done this, but we never really know why He chose to let Satan have so much freedom. He could have simply told him he was wrong and left it there.

Most of the remaining chapters consist of Job’s three friends trying to convince him that he has been afflicted because either he or his family have sinned. Job maintains his innocence, and says that while he recognizes God’s authority, he does not understand His actions and needs an explanation. Job is right, but his friends are persistent.

When God finally answers, this is how it begins: “Who is this that darkens counsel with words of ignorance? Gird up your loins now like a man; I will question you, and you tell me the answers! Where were you when I founded the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding” (Job 38:1–4). God then gives his résumé, so to speak, and Job is dumbfounded.

Where we come in today, Job is acknowledging that God vindicates the righteous, but at the same time has the right to act as He wills without condescending to our desires. “Even though I were right, I could not answer him, but should rather beg for what was due me. . . . I could not believe that he would hearken to my words” (Job 9:15–16). The Psalmist echoes this desperate begging in our Responsorial Psalm.

Job is speaking profound wisdom, taken in the context of the entire book. When we think about it, by the end of this story, God doesn’t really give Job a satisfying explanation. Instead, He argues that because of His sovereign power, providence, and justice, He is surely right and does not need to explain the things that He does.

This might seem arrogant, and it would be if God were not 100 percent right. In reality, God’s ways are unfathomable, and we can receive explanations as to why He runs the universe the way He does, but these are often incomplete. The ultimate answer to Job comes in the form of the Paschal Mystery, but even then, it does not quite explain why Job had to suffer in just the way that he did. Drawing from Job’s wisdom, we can begin to see that this is not the point. It might be nice to have the explanation for every suffering, but God shows us that regardless of the specifics, we ought to trust in His providence. He knows best, and He is in control. It is for us to be humble, knowing that in the end all will be revealed. 

Contact the author


Esta semana, estamos haciendo un breve repaso por el Libro de Job. Los párafos que leimos en la Misa pueden parecer un poco confusos fuera del contexto. También es útil obtener el contexto de los otros capítulos de Job. Al comienzo de la saga, a Satanás se le permitió probar a Job, pensando que si le quitan lo que ama, ya no será el hombre más justo de la tierra: “Pero hazle sentir un poco el peso de tu mano… y verás cómo te maldice en tu propia cara” (Job 1:11). Dios permite que Satanás siga adelante. Sabemos a lo largo del libro que Dios ha hecho esto, pero nunca sabemos realmente por qué eligió dejar que Satanás tuviera tanta libertad. Podría simplemente haberle dicho que estaba equivocado y dejarlo ahí.

La mayoría de los capítulos restantes consisten en los tres amigos de Job tratando de convencerlo de que haya sido afligido porque él o su familia hayan pecado. Job mantiene su inocencia y dice que si bien reconoce la autoridad de Dios, no comprende sus acciones y necesita una explicación. Job tiene razón, pero sus amigos son persistentes.

Cuando Dios finalmente responde, así es como comienza: “¿Quién es este que oscurece el consejo con palabras sin conocimiento? Ciñe ahora tus lomos como un hombre, y Yo te preguntaré, y tú me instruirás. ¿Dónde estabas tú cuando Yo echaba los cimientos de la tierra?
melo, si tienes inteligencia.” (Job 38, 1–4). Entonces Dios le da su currículum, por así decirlo, y Job se queda estupefacto.

Donde entramos hoy, Job está reconociendo que Dios vindica a los justos, pero al mismo tiempo tiene el derecho de actuar como Él quiere sin condescender a nuestros deseos. “Aunque yo tuviera razón, no me quedaría otro remedio que implorar su misericordia. Si yo lo citara a juicio y él compareciera, no creo que atendiera a mis razones” (Job 9,15–16). El salmista se hace eco de esta súplica desesperada en nuestro Salmo Responsorial.

Job está hablando de sabiduría profunda, tomada en el contexto de todo el libro. Cuando lo pensamos, al final de esta historia, Dios realmente no le da a Job una explicación satisfactoria. En cambio, Él argumenta que debido a Su poder soberano, providencia y justicia, ciertamente tiene razón y no necesita explicar las cosas que hace.

Esto puede parecer arrogante, y lo sería si Dios no estuviera 100 por ciento en lo correcto. En realidad, los caminos de Dios son insondables, y podemos recibir explicaciones de por qué Él dirige el universo de la manera que lo hace, pero a menudo son incompletas. La respuesta definitiva a Job viene en la forma del Misterio Pascual, pero aun así, no explica del todo por qué Job tuvo que sufrir de la forma en que lo hizo. Partiendo de la sabiduría de Job, podemos comenzar a ver que ese no es el punto. Puede ser bueno tener la explicación de cada sufrimiento, pero Dios nos muestra que, independientemente de los detalles, debemos confiar en Su providencia. Él sabe mejor, y Él tiene el control. Nos corresponde ser humildes, sabiendo que al final todo se revelará.

Comunicarse con el autor

David Dashiell is a freelance author and editor in Nashville, Tennessee. He has a master’s degree in theology from Franciscan University, and is the editor of the anthology Ever Ancient, Ever New: Why Younger Generations Are Embracing Traditional Catholicism.

Feature Image Credit: Benjamin Voros, unsplash.com/photos/phIFdC6lA4E

Marriage in God’s Eyes / El Matrimonio en los Ojos de Dios

If these readings tell us anything, it’s that God takes marriage very seriously. He espouses Israel to Himself, and intends to keep His end of the covenant even when she has broken hers. Of course, He is not numb to her infidelity, and promises her immense punishment for her grave sin: “I will deal with you for what you did; you despised an oath by breaking a covenant” (Ezek. 16:59). He does plan to “renew His vows” by re-establishing the covenant, but He expresses this desire sternly: “I will set up an everlasting covenant with you, that you may remember and be covered with confusion, and that you may be utterly silenced for shame when I pardon you for all you have done” (Ezek. 16:60, 63).

If you can handle some explicit language, I encourage you to read the whole of Ezekiel chapter 16. Our First Reading gives us only snippets, and the description of Israel’s betrayal, punishment, and redemption is stark. It’s important to remember that these are God’s own words, even though spoken through the mouth of His prophet. That God would call His people a harlot (prostitute) is shocking. He is describing His people as so depraved in their idolatry with other nations that they are like a serial prostitute who pays others to be defiled.

This extended metaphor between idolatry and adultery is striking. Notice that the message here is, “Your idolatry is so shameful and offensive to me because you are acting like a flagrant, serial prostitute.” It is not, as we might expect, “Your adultery is so shameful and offensive to me because you are acting like a flagrant, serial idolater.” Marriage is being used to drive home the gravity of the idolatry, not the other way around. Clearly God sees marriage as a sacred covenant.

In the Gospel, Jesus tells the Pharisees that marriage was never intended for divorce; God intended it to be a one-flesh union for the whole of life, a profound image of the communion of the Holy Trinity. Categorically: “From the beginning it was not so” (Matt. 19:8). Marriage is so venerable that only a few are granted the grace to renounce it for a higher vocation: “Not all can accept this word, but only those to whom it is granted” (Matt. 19:11). Continence for the Kingdom is so great precisely because marriage is so great (not to mention its other sanctifying aspects).

Jesus speaks these words after raising marriage to the dignity of a sacrament at the Wedding Feast of Cana, but Our Lord spoke in a similar way through Ezekiel, well before there was such a thing as sacramental marriage. The standard is what God intended in “the beginning,” before Original Sin, characterized by a clear vision of the other as a person meant for total self-gift, a mirror to the Trinity.

If God takes marriage so seriously, we can be assured that He intends those in the married state, and those who renounce it for an even higher calling, to request and receive profound graces. In a world which believes that marriage is simply an association of pleasure between two people who have strong feelings for each other, we must live the truth: marriage is a one-flesh union for the whole of life, meant to populate the world with saints and sanctify the spouses in the process, who must serve as a mirror to the life of the Trinity to sanctify the temporal order. God takes marriage seriously, and so should we.

Contact the author


Si estas lecturas nos dicen algo, es que Dios toma el matrimonio muy en serio. Él desposa a Israel consigo mismo, y tiene la intención de cumplir Su parte del pacto incluso cuando ella haya roto la suya. Por supuesto, Él no es insensible a su infidelidad, y le promete un inmenso castigo por su grave pecado: “Yo te trataré por lo que hiciste; despreciaste el juramento quebrantando el pacto” (Ezequiel 16:59). Él planea “renovar Sus votos” restableciendo el pacto, pero expresa este deseo con severidad: “Y estableceré con vosotros un pacto perpetuo, para que se acuerden y se cubren de confusión, y para que sean completamente silenciado de vergüenza cuando te perdone por todo lo que has hecho” (Ezequiel 16:60, 63).

Si puede manejar un lenguaje explícito, lo animo a que lea todo el capítulo 16 de Ezequiel. Nuestra Primera Lectura nos brinda solo fragmentos, y la descripción de la traición, el castigo y la redención de Israel es clara. Es importante recordar que estas son las propias palabras de Dios, aunque dichas por boca de Su profeta. Que Dios llame ramera (prostituta) a su pueblo es impactante. Él está describiendo a Su pueblo como tan depravado en su idolatría con otras naciones que son como una prostituta en serie que paga a otros para que sean profanados.

Llama la atención esta metáfora extendida entre la idolatría y el adulterio. Note que el mensaje aquí es, “Tu idolatría es tan vergonzosa y ofensiva para mí porque estás actuando como una prostituta flagrante en serie”. No es, como podríamos esperar, “Tu adulterio es tan vergonzoso y ofensivo para mí porque estás actuando como un flagrante idólatra en serie”. El matrimonio se está utilizando para recalcar la gravedad de la idolatría, y no al revés. Claramente Dios ve el matrimonio como un pacto sagrado.

En el Evangelio, Jesús les dice a los fariseos que el matrimonio nunca fue pensado para el divorcio; Dios quiso que fuera una unión en una sola carne para toda la vida, imagen profunda de la comunión de la Santísima Trinidad. Categóricamente: “Al principio no fue así” (Mateo 19:8). El matrimonio es tan venerable que sólo a unos pocos se les concede la gracia de renunciarlo por una vocación superior: “No todos pueden aceptar esta palabra, sino sólo aquellos a quienes se les concede” (Mt 19,11). La castidad por el Reino es tan grande precisamente porque el matrimonio es tan grande (sin mencionar sus otros aspectos santificadores).

Jesús pronuncia estas palabras después de elevar el matrimonio a la dignidad de sacramento en las Bodas de Caná, pero Nuestro Señor habló de manera similar a través de Ezequiel, mucho antes de que existiera el matrimonio sacramental. La norma es lo que Dios pretendía en “el principio”, antes del Pecado Original, caracterizado por una clara visión del otro como persona destinada a la entrega total, espejo de la Trinidad.

Si Dios toma el matrimonio tan en serio, podemos estar seguros de que Él tiene la intención de que quienes están casados ​​y quienes lo renuncian por una vocación aún más elevada, soliciten y reciban gracias profundas. En un mundo que cree que el matrimonio es simplemente una asociación de placer entre dos personas que tienen fuertes sentimientos el uno por el otro, debemos vivir la verdad: el matrimonio es una unión de una sola carne para toda la vida, destinada a poblar el mundo de santos y santificar a los esposos en el proceso, quienes deben servir de espejo a la vida de la Trinidad para santificar al orden temporal. Dios toma el matrimonio en serio, y nosotros  deberíamos hacerlo también.

Comunicarse con el autor

David Dashiell is a freelance author and editor in Nashville, Tennessee. He has a master’s degree in theology from Franciscan University, and is the editor of the anthology Ever Ancient, Ever New: Why Younger Generations Are Embracing Traditional Catholicism.

Feature Image Credit: hopefootage, www.cathopic.com/photo/28013-happiest-girl

God’s Wrath / La Ira de Dios

This probably isn’t the sort of Psalm we expected to hear: “It is I who deal death and give life.” It is not often that our readings cause us to reflect on the vengeance of God, but it’s an important part of our Faith, and one that deserves reflection.

We might be afraid to think about this topic, and for good reason: “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb. 10:31). God has given us all that we are and have, and He can take it away if He sees fit.

Of course, we have no reason to believe that God will exercise His wrath on us at each and every moment. But why does He allow His people to endure such hardship, often for decades on end? Why does He often give them peace by destroying other nations? Is God capricious? Does He enjoy suffering and destruction?

We can begin to understand God better by remembering some simple principles. First of all, He is the Master of life and death, as He confers existence, given as a free gift, on all creation. As the metaphysical source of all life, God has total control over the lives of His creatures. He does not exercise this control in a despotic way, taking over our wills. He lets us make our own decisions, knowing the consequences of every action of every creature throughout all time, before it occurs. He has legitimate authority to exercise His power over life and death if and when He wills, and He freely chooses to let us experience the consequences of our sins, many of which lead to pain, abuse, death, and destruction.

Secondly, we must remember that we deserve eternal death. By our sins, most clearly by Original Sin, we have deserved Hell and its torments, preferring the creature to the Creator, preferring to rule creation alone rather than to submit to and share in God’s benevolent rule. We constantly choose things we know to be contrary to God’s will, forfeiting our heavenly birthright. As God is infinite, our offenses against Him take on all the more weight.

Thirdly, we know that God offers salvation to all who can accept it. He made this clear by His Incarnation and His sacrifice on Calvary, re-presented and available to us in the Mass. Those willing to follow Him can reach heaven by sharing in His own merits. Because of this, our realization that we deserve death is not a reason for self-hatred, but an occasion for wonder at God’s mercy.

We can see that God allows His creation to act in ways which lead to either glory or damnation. He knows full well which actions lead to which, and He allows us to receive what we ultimately choose for ourselves. Along the way, He may intervene directly, as we see in our readings. Perhaps the nations He smites are deep in mortal sin, and will never repent, even if given the opportunity. Perhaps they would choose Hell if left a little longer on earth, but are not yet beyond hope. Perhaps His suffering people need purification and chastisement, or perhaps they are being rewarded for their devotion by greater spiritual trials and triumphs.

Although we might not be able to understand each isolated instance, we can be assured that God is in control and does everything for our good. The Cross showed us that God has a plan for all suffering and destruction, to redeem and sanctify it; every apparent tragedy is meant for good. It is for us to trust in and glorify the Lord, even when He exercises wrath.

Contact the author


Puede ser que el Salmo de hoy no sea lo que esperábamos escuchar: “Yo soy el que traigo la muerte y doy la vida”. No es frecuente que nuestras lecturas nos hagan reflexionar sobre la venganza de Dios, pero es una parte importante de nuestra Fe, y merece reflexión.

Podríamos tener miedo pensar en este tema, y ​​por buena razón: “Horrenda cosa es caer en manos del Dios vivo” (Heb. 10:31). Dios nos ha dado todo lo que somos y tenemos, y puede quitárnoslo si lo considera conveniente.

Por supuesto, no tenemos razón para creer que Dios ejercerá Su ira sobre nosotros en cada momento. Pero, ¿por qué permite que Su pueblo soporte tales dificultades, a veces durante décadas? ¿Por qué con frecuencia les da paz a ellos destruyendo a otras naciones? ¿Dios es caprichoso? ¿Disfruta del sufrimiento y la destrucción?

Podemos comenzar a comprender mejor a Dios si recordamos algunos principios simples. En primer lugar, Él es el Señor de la vida y de la muerte, ya que confiere la existencia, dada gratuitamente, a toda la creación. Como fuente metafísica de toda vida, Dios tiene control total sobre la vida de Sus criaturas. No ejerce este control despóticamente, apoderándose de nuestras voluntades. Él nos permite tomar nuestras propias decisiones, y conoce las consecuencias de cada acción de cada criatura a lo largo de todo el tiempo, antes de que ocurra. Él tiene autoridad legítima para ejercer Su poder sobre la vida y la muerte si Él lo desea y cuando Él lo desea, y elige libremente dejarnos experimentar las consecuencias de nuestros pecados, muchos de los cuales conducen al dolor, el abuso, la muerte y la destrucción.

En segundo lugar, debemos recordar que a causa de nuestros pecados, más claramente por el Pecado Original, merecemos la muerte eterna, el Infierno y sus tormentos, porque prefirimos la criatura al Creador, prefirimos gobernar sola la creación antes que someternos y compartir el gobierno benevolente de Dios. Constantemente elegimos cosas que sabemos que son contrarias a la voluntad de Dios, perdiendo nuestro derecho celestial de nacimiento. Como Dios es infinito, nuestras ofensas contra Él cobran aún más peso.

En tercer lugar, sabemos que Dios ofrece la salvación a todos los que pueden aceptarla. Lo dejó claro con Su Encarnación y Su sacrificio en el Calvario, representado y disponible para nosotros en la Misa. Quienes estén dispuestos a seguirlo pueden llegar al cielo compartiendo Sus propios méritos. Por eso, el hecho de que nos demos cuenta de que merecemos la muerte no es un motivo para odiarnos a nosotros mismos, sino una ocasión para maravillarnos ante la misericordia de Dios.

Podemos ver que Dios permite que Su creación actúe de maneras que conducen a la gloria o a la condenación. Él sabe muy bien cuáles acciones conducen a que cosa y nos permite recibir lo que finalmente elegimos para nosotros. En el camino, Él puede intervenir directamente, como vemos en nuestras lecturas. Quizás las naciones a las que Él hiere están profundamente en pecado mortal, y nunca se arrepentirán, incluso si se les da la oportunidad. Tal vez elegirían el Infierno si se les dejara un poco más en la tierra, pero aún no están más allá de la esperanza. Tal vez Su pueblo sufriente necesite purificación y castigo, o tal vez estén siendo recompensados ​​por su devoción con mayores pruebas y triunfos espirituales.

Aunque es posible que no podamos entender cada caso aislado, podemos estar seguros de que Dios tiene el control y hace todo para nuestro bien. La Cruz nos mostró que Dios tiene un plan para todo sufrimiento y destrucción, para redimirlo y santificarlo; toda tragedia aparente es para bien. Nos corresponde a nosotros confiar en el Señor y glorificarlo, incluso cuando ejerce su ira.

Comunicarse con el autor

David Dashiell is a freelance author and editor in Nashville, Tennessee. He has a master’s degree in theology from Franciscan University, and is the editor of the anthology Ever Ancient, Ever New: Why Younger Generations Are Embracing Traditional Catholicism.

Feature Image Credit: Titi Maciel Pérez, www.cathopic.com/photo/26633-prerando-cenizas

Devotion / La Devoción

“I remember the devotion of your youth, how you loved me as a bride, Following me in the desert, in a land unsown” (Jer. 2:2). As our readings begin, the Lord reminisces about the love His people once had for Him. It is the same devotion which characterizes our Psalm: “With you is the fountain of life, and in your light we see light” (Ps. 36:10).

The Israelites were convinced that God knew what He was doing when He led them out of Egypt through a wasteland, into a land they had never seen. Although they wanted to escape their grueling work under Pharaoh, that alone might not have convinced them to upend their lives and walk through uncharted and dangerous territory. Through the ten plagues and Moses’ mediation, God reminded His people that He was worthy of their devotion. The Israelites trusted that He would give them life and light, and gave Him praise and honor.

This devotion was lost upon entrance into the Promised Land: “You entered and defiled my land, you made my heritage loathsome. . . . The prophets prophesied by Baal, and went after useless idols” (Jer. 21:7–8). At the time of Jesus, they still had not completely regained this devotion: “They have closed their eyes lest they see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their hearts and be converted and I heal them.” (Matt. 13:13, 15). Our Lord’s reference to Isaiah implies that they were even so hardhearted as to refuse God’s healing.

Christ provides the key for understanding this tragic decline in the faith of the chosen people: “To anyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; from anyone who has not, even what he has will be taken away” (Matt. 13:12). They had kept their hearts from God: “They have forsaken me, the source of living waters; They have dug for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns, that hold no water” (Jer. 2:13). As they continued to doubt, their devotion became more and more disingenuous, and their relationship with God became less and less effective. God did not so much draw back from them, “taking away,” as their lack of devotion did, taking away the blessings which accompany a connection to God.

We can apply this to ourselves: if we remain devoted to God, steadfast in prayer and firm in faith, the Lord will bless us with a deeper relationship with Himself and the abundant blessings which flow forth from such a relationship. We see this in various Old and New Testament figures who trust in the Lord alone and are rewarded. If our devotion fails and we are slack in prayer, doubting God’s presence or providence, we will lose our connection to Him and find ourselves lost and helpless without His grace. Let us always strive to rely on God and acknowledge His sovereignty over all things, for with Him is the fountain of life.

Contact the author


“Recuerdo la devoción de tu juventud, cómo me amaste como a una novia, siguiéndome en el desierto, en tierra no sembrada” (Jeremías 2:2). Al comenzar nuestras lecturas, el Señor recuerda el amor que Su pueblo una vez tuvo por Él. Es la misma devoción que caracteriza nuestro Salmo: “En ti está la fuente de la vida, y en tu luz vemos la luz” (Sal 36,10).

Los israelitas estaban convencidos de que Dios sabía lo que estaba haciendo cuando los sacó de Egipto a través de un desierto, a una tierra que nunca habían visto. Aunque querían escapar de su trabajo agotador bajo Faraón, eso por sí solo podría no haberlos convencido de cambiar sus vidas y caminar por un territorio desconocido y peligroso. A través de las diez plagas y la mediación de Moisés, Dios le recordó a Su pueblo que Él era digno de su devoción. Los israelitas confiaron en que Él les daría vida y luz, y le dieron alabanza y honra.

Esta devoción se perdió al entrar en la Tierra Prometida: “Entrasteis y contaminasteis mi tierra, abominásteis mi heredad. . . . Los profetas profetizaron por Baal, y fueron tras ídolos inútiles” (Jeremías 21:7–8). En tiempos de Jesús, todavía no habían recuperado esta devoción: “Han cerrado los ojos para que no vean con los ojos y no oigan con los oídos para poder entender con el corazón y convertirse para que yo los sane”. (Mateo 13:13, 15). La referencia de nuestro Señor a Isaías implica que eran tan duros de corazón como para rechazar la sanidad de Dios.

Cristo da la clave para comprender este trágico disminución de la fe del pueblo elegido: “Al que tiene, se le dará más y se enriquecerá; al que no tiene, aun lo que tiene se le quitará” (Mateo 13:12). Habían apartado sus corazones de Dios: “Me han abandonado, fuente de aguas vivas; Se han cavado cisternas, cisternas rotas que no retienen agua” (Jeremías 2:13). A medida que continuaron dudando, su devoción se volvió cada vez más falsa y su relación con Dios se volvió cada vez menos efectiva. Dios no se apartó tanto de ellos, “quitando”, como lo hizo su falta de devoción, quitándoles las bendiciones que acompañan una conexión con Dios.

Podemos aplicar esto a nosotros mismos: si permanecemos devotos a Dios, constantes en la oración y firmes en la fe, el Señor nos bendecirá con una relación más profunda con Él mismo y con las abundantes bendiciones que emanan de tal relación. Vemos esto en varias figuras del Antiguo y Nuevo Testamento que confían solo en el Señor y son recompensados. Si nuestra devoción falla y somos negligentes en la oración, dudando de la presencia o providencia de Dios, perderemos nuestra conexión con Él y nos encontraremos perdidos e indefensos sin Su gracia. Esforcémonos siempre por confiar en Dios y reconocer Su soberanía sobre todas las cosas, porque en Él está la fuente de la vida.

Comunicarse con el autor

David Dashiell is a freelance author and editor in Nashville, Tennessee. He has a master’s degree in theology from Franciscan University, and is the editor of the anthology Ever Ancient, Ever New: Why Younger Generations Are Embracing Traditional Catholicism.

Feature Image Credit: Luis Ángel Espinosa, LC, www.cathopic.com/photo/1857-fuente-roma

God Alone / Solo Dios

Our readings begin with a clear reminder of God’s all-encompassing providence: “Because of me you bear fruit!” (Hos. 14:9). We hear this theme echoed throughout Scripture, especially in Jesus: “Without me, you can do nothing” (John 15:5).

Like the Israelites in the First Reading, we may think that the works of our hands, our ingenuity, or other nations will be our salvation, providing for us all that we need and giving us the strength to be morally upright and happy. Consider our dependence on technology, news, and scientific knowledge to give our lives meaning. We may not realize it at each moment, but we have a difficult time acknowledging God’s sovereignty and providence in practice.

God’s providence is not something distant. It is necessary for us to exist in the first place — without God allowing us to share in His existence we would not be here. Crippled as we are by Original Sin, we also need God’s providence to be forgiven and even to bear fruit in the first place. This is what our first two readings remind us of.

Once we have acknowledged our guilt and our trust in finite things instead of in the infinite God, there is still much work to be done for the kingdom. This is where we find ourselves in the Gospel. The Holy Spirit takes care of His people and enables them to witness, but we need to trust in Him. Again we run into the temptation to think that if our needs appear satisfied by the things of this world, we do not need God.

Ultimately, as Cardinal Robert Sarah is fond of saying, the choice is between God or nothing. The Lord made the heavens and the earth and all that is in them, and He keeps them running harmoniously, actively providing for the things He has created. We can acknowledge that or not, but He is working regardless. As Hosea says, “Straight are the paths of the Lord, in them the just walk, but sinners stumble in them” (Hos 14:10). We are all governed by God’s providence, but we reap the benefits of His care to the degree that we follow His way. If we ignore Him, we stumble.

Since He provides us with the grace we utterly depend upon, God deserves our constant praise. As Jesus and the Psalmist imply, this praise ought to extend to everything that comes our way, not just what comes in good times. God directs all things in the universe. We cannot forget that although He does not create or will evil, He permits it as a consequence of the free will He gives us. On the Cross, He showed us that He desires to bring good out of every evil, no matter the agony in the moment.

We have a powerful reminder today that without God, we cannot even begin to be good, fruitful, or happy, let alone exist in the first place. He provides us with more than we need. Let us praise Him for His wonderful providence, and trust that whatever comes our way, the Lord intends it to work for our good.

Contact the author


Las lecturas de hoy comienzan con un claro recordatorio de la providencia abundante de Dios: “¡Gracias a mí lleváis fruto!” (Oseas 14:9). Escuchamos este tema repetido a lo largo de las Escrituras, especialmente en referencia a Jesús: “Separados de mí, nada podéis hacer” (Juan 15:5).

Como los israelitas en la Primera Lectura, podemos pensar que las obras de nuestras manos, nuestro ingenio o las de otras naciones serán nuestra salvación, proveyéndonos todo lo que necesitamos y dándonos la fuerza para ser moralmente rectos y felices. Considere nuestra dependencia en la tecnología, las noticias y el conocimiento científico para dar sentido a nuestras vidas. Puede que no nos demos cuenta en cada momento, pero en la práctica nos cuesta reconocer la soberanía y la providencia de Dios.

La providencia de Dios no es algo lejano. Es necesario que existamos en primer lugar, sin que Dios nos permita compartir Su existencia, no estaríamos aquí. Somos discapacitados por el pecado original y también necesitamos la providencia de Dios para ser perdonados e incluso para dar fruto desde un principio. Las dos primeras lecturas nos recuerdan de esto.

Una vez que hemos reconocido nuestra culpa y nuestra confianza en las cosas finitas en lugar de en el Dios infinito, todavía queda mucho trabajo por hacer para el reino. Aquí es donde nos encontramos en el Evangelio. El Espíritu Santo cuida a Su pueblo y lo capacita para testificar, pero tenemos que confiar en Él. Nuevamente caemos en la tentación de pensar que si nuestras necesidades parecen satisfechas por las cosas de este mundo, no necesitamos a Dios.

Al fin y al cabo, como le gusta decir al Cardenal Robert Sarah, escogemos entre Dios o nada. El Señor hizo los cielos y la tierra y todo lo que hay en ellos, y los mantiene funcionando armoniosamente, proveyendo activamente para las cosas que Él ha creado. Podemos reconocer eso o no, pero Él está obrando a pesar de todo. Como dice Oseas: “Derechas son las sendas del Señor, por ellas andan los justos, pero en ellas tropiezan los pecadores” (Os 14,10). Todos estamos gobernados por la providencia de Dios, pero cosechamos los beneficios de Su cuidado en la medida en que seguimos Su camino. Si lo ignoramos, tropezamos.

Dado que Él nos proporciona la gracia de la que dependemos por completo, Dios merece nuestra alabanza constante. Como lo insinúan Jesús y el salmista, esta alabanza debe extenderse a todo lo que se nos presenta, no solo a lo que se presenta en los buenos tiempos. Dios dirige todas las cosas en el universo. No podemos olvidar que aunque Él no crea ni quiere el mal, lo permite como consecuencia del libre albedrío que nos da. En la Cruz, Él nos mostró que desea sacar el bien de cada mal, sin importar la agonía del momento.

Hoy tenemos un poderoso recordatorio de que sin Dios, ni siquiera podemos comenzar a ser buenos, fructíferos o felices, y mucho menos existir en primer lugar. Él nos proporciona más de lo que necesitamos. Alabemos a Dios por Su maravillosa providencia, y confiemos en que cualquier cosa que se nos presente, el Señor tiene la intención de que obre para nuestro bien.

Contact the author

David Dashiell is a freelance writer, editor, and proofreader based in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area. His writing has been featured in Crisis Magazine and The Imaginative Conservative, and his editing is done for a variety of publishers, such as Sophia Institute and Scepter. He can be reached at ddashiellwork@gmail.com.

Feature Image Credit: remehernandez, www.cathopic.com/photo/18254-oracion

Glorious St. Joseph

As we focus on Joseph, it might be good to dispel some rumors about him, helping us to see him for the glorious saint that he is. The following words rely heavily on Mike Aquilina’s St. Joseph and His World, recently published by Scepter.

As one option for the Gospel today, we hear of Joseph’s first encounter with the archangel Gabriel, in which he is told not to be afraid to take Mary as his wife. What is going on here? Was Joseph, the Just Man, planning to do something unjust? 

Joseph lived in the small town of Nazareth, named after the Messianic title of “Branch,” a term for the offspring of David. The inhabitants of Nazareth were descendants of King David, eagerly anticipating and praying for the coming of the Messiah. They did not know exactly when he would come, but they knew he would come from their line, and they waited in hope.

In normal Jewish society, many marriages would be arranged when the spouses-to-be were very young, and then were solemnized later with erusin, a betrothal. This involved formal terms and gifts from both families, and after this ceremony the bond could only be broken by divorce. Notice that here the couple is united in a solemn bond, but this is not quite a marriage; it is breakable by divorce. This was the state of Joseph and Mary. The marriage was finalized, and then (usually) consummated, after a ceremony called kiddushin (sanctities).

Adultery was a capital crime, so Mary would have been stoned if guilty. Divorce would have been the logical option here, but a desire to preserve Mary from this punishment doesn’t mean that Joseph actually suspected her of adultery. He may have just been confused, or he may have known exactly what was happening, intending to lay low and give Mary space, only presuming to assist if asked by the Lord.

Which was it? We are permitted to believe different interpretations of this text, but it makes sense to say that St. Joseph understood that Mary really did conceive of the Holy Spirit. She may have told him as much, and he had no reason to distrust her, likely being childhood friends in a small town. He would have had deep knowledge of the Messianic prophecies. Joseph knew that the Messiah was coming from his people, and he could have gathered from Isaiah that he would come from a virgin. Upon finding out that this virgin was his betrothed, he was probably struck with awe.

This is especially persuasive when we consider that St. Joseph had a special relationship with St. Gabriel the Archangel. His vision in our Gospel may not have been the first, and it certainly wasn’t the last. St. Joseph understood that God works miracles, and he was ready to drop everything and follow God’s will as soon as it was made clear to him. He followed Gabriel’s advice and took Mary as his wife, and they dedicated themselves to bringing up the Messiah, following a tradition of celibate asceticism often practiced in the Essene community, with which they were likely associated.

This day is a good opportunity to reflect on the virtues of St. Joseph, a powerful intercessor sporting titles like “Terror of Demons.” Dying as he did in the presence of Our Lord and Our Lady, he is the patron of a happy death. As is clear in his conduct surrounding the Incarnation, he is a prudent, patient, understanding, and just man ready to stand by his loved ones no matter the cost. Glorious St. Joseph, foster father of the Savior, spouse of Our Lady, pray for us!

Contact the author

David Dashiell is a freelance writer, editor, and proofreader based in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area. His writing has been featured in Crisis Magazine and The Imaginative Conservative, and his editing is done for a variety of publishers, such as Sophia Institute and Scepter. He can be reached at ddashiellwork@gmail.com.

Feature Image Credit: revmen, https://www.cathopic.com/photo/20349-sagrada-familia

Stay Close to Christ

As with Lent itself, our readings today are sobering. We might not recognize it at first, focusing instead on the message of hope: “If the wicked man turns away from all the sins he committed … he shall surely live, he shall not die”; “For with the Lord there is kindness and with him plenteous redemption” (Ezek. 18:21; Ps. 130:7). That message is real, but to truly appreciate it we first need to understand the more difficult message.

Jesus says in the Gospel that our righteousness must surpass that of the scribes and Pharisees, and that even saying so much as “You fool” merits the fires of Gehenna. Speaking through Ezekiel, God says that if the righteous man turns back to iniquity, he will surely die. We hear at one and the same time that God judges sin harshly, expecting perfection from us, and also that He is merciful and does not desire the death of the wicked.

Both are true, and this is the drama of Lent and the drama of the Christian life. God makes demands of us and issues commandments, and He expects us to live up to the call. The Ten Commandments are difficult for sinful man. Despite this, Jesus raises the standard in the Sermon on the Mount. The Sermon is summarized by His stark injunction: “Be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt. 5:48). These are not idle words!

But who can live up to this? “If you, O Lord, mark iniquities, who can stand” (Ps. 130:3)? No one, really. Through our sin, even through something so apparently small as yielding to wrath, we merit the fires of hell. We choose a finite good over the infinite, often knowing exactly what we do. But that is not the end of the discussion.

Christ comes to redeem, and His words are not idle when He speaks of this side of the drama. “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28). Our Lord gives us humanly unattainable demands, but He provides us with divine grace, the life of God in our souls.

How can we access this grace? Generally, by remaining close to Jesus and by turning from sin. This is what we hear at the beginning of Lent: Repent! We are sinners, and we do not deserve heaven. Yet, life is open to us if we turn away from sin and keep the Lord’s statutes. We ought to seek forgiveness and follow the Commandments, Beatitudes, and the other teachings of God.

More specifically, we need to stay close to the seven sacraments and the sacramentals (holy water, blessed objects, etc.). Jesus Christ instituted the sacraments as the means of incorporation into Himself. This means that He intended us to receive Baptism, go to Confession frequently, and receive the Eucharist in order to be saved. “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16).

It is through the sacraments and the Sacrifice of the Mass especially that we are so incorporated into Christ as to share in His claim to heaven. Through the sacraments we are cleansed of our sins, receive God’s life in us, and are equipped to avoid sinning and live a life of holiness in the future. Let us take advantage of these great graces during the season of Lent, and throughout the drama of our Christian lives.

Contact the author

David Dashiell is a freelance writer, editor, and proofreader based in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area. His writing has been featured in Crisis Magazine and The Imaginative Conservative, and his editing is done for a variety of publishers, such as Sophia Institute and Scepter. He can be reached at ddashiellwork@gmail.com.

Feature Image Credit: Santiago Mejía LC, https://www.cathopic.com/photo/10071-pan-vida

Memento Mori – Remember That You Will Die

We hear a strange reprimand from St. James today: “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we shall go into such and such a town, spend a year there doing business, and make a profit’—you have no idea what your life will be like tomorrow.” (Jas 4:13–14). He says that instead of speaking like this, we should say, “If the Lord wills it…”

It doesn’t seem like a big deal to speak about the future in this way, but St. James is trying to tell us that the future depends on God. Even if God does not directly cause every event in life, He at least allows it to happen, and He does so for good reason. Most of us understand that almost nothing in life goes exactly as planned. At this point, I’ve taken to planning for the future with the mindset of St. James: “These are my plans, but if the Lord wills it, something else will happen and I’ll adjust.”

There is a deeper truth here, and St. James makes it rather explicit when he says that “you are a puff of smoke that appears briefly and then disappears” (Jas 4:14). This reminds me of the popular Christian phrase memento mori, “Remember that you will die.” Saints have kept this phrase in mind through the centuries, knowing that one day all of their earthly plans will come to an abrupt end.

This need not be depressing; in fact, it served as a motivator for these saints. St. Jerome, for example, is said to have kept a skull in his workspace to remind him of this truth and motivate him to do good work for the Lord. We can react to the truth of our death with despair, or we can let it motivate us to strive without ceasing to enter heaven. Death can be our destruction, translating us into the infernal kingdom, or it can be a glorious beginning, translating us into the heavenly Kingdom with God.

The attitude fostered by this preparation for death is one of humble resignation and poverty of spirit, spoken of by St. James and the Psalmist today, and exemplified by the martyrdom of St. Polycarp, whose feast we celebrate today.

If we know death is coming and seek to prepare in hope of spending eternity with the Lord, we will strive to accept everything that comes our way, no matter how difficult, as something that God permits for our holiness. We will understand, as the Psalmist does, that we cannot take riches with us beyond the grave, but we can take the divine life of grace given to those who live a life of virtue and frequent the Sacraments.

Reading the brief account of the martyrdom of St. Polycarp, a direct disciple of John the Apostle and Bishop of Smyrna, we can see how this plays out when we are face to face with death. Polycarp did not panic when he heard of his martyrdom: he initially stayed put and prayed. When questioned by the Roman official, he firmly defended Christianity and declined to be nailed in place, explaining that he would not try to run from the fire prepared for him.

St. Polycarp completed his life at the age of eighty-six, stabbed after glowing gold and smelling of baked bread in the fire that was supposed to kill him. His holy resignation to the will of God, even when expressed through martyrdom, is an inspiration for all of us. We may not have to face what he did, but we all must face death, and the more we prepare to meet Our Lord the better off we will be when that day comes. Memento mori!

Contact the author

David Dashiell is a freelance writer, editor, and proofreader based in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area. His writing has been featured in Crisis Magazine and The Imaginative Conservative, and his editing is done for a variety of publishers, such as Sophia Institute and Scepter. He can be reached at ddashiellwork@gmail.com.

Feature Image Credit: Einar Storsul, https://unsplash.com/photos/hw2wB-Sqg0k