Are We An Acts Of The Apostles Church? Sermon By Fr. Smith

Remember, and many of you have heard me say this before, you know I'm a broken record, but we are called to build the kingdom of God, not the kingdom of Narnia. Okay. We are not called to retreat from the world, in some kind of romantic fairytale dream that has never existed and probably shouldn't exist. We're not called to hide away from the world, but to transform it.

And so the question that I have to ask myself, and I ask you tonight to ponder is, are we an Acts of the Apostles Church? Or some other kind of church?

What do I mean by that? Well, in Acts chapter 13, Paul and Barnabas go to Antioch in Pisidia, where no one up until that point had ever heard the Good News, the Gospel of Jesus Christ. There, they met many Jews and converts to Judaism who, in theory would be the most open to the message. And there was an openness there, but some of the Jews saw their power being threatened. And so they deliberately stirred the pot, resorting to manipulating and lying to turn people against the new Church.

Well, why? Jealousy, pure and simple. We’re told in Acts chapter 13 that that's what it was all about. Now it's easy for us to say, “well you know that was 2000 years ago. Different place. Different time.” Well, do we live in a place which is really all that different than Antioch of Pisidia?

I think that there are numerous people who are open to the Gospel. There’s something in their hearts that wants something more and authentic and beautiful and amazing to make sense of their life and to give them something beyond the grave. There's an openness that's there, all over, I see that. But there are also so many voices which want to drown out the still small voice of God.



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How Do We Evangelize The Modern World?

How can we expect people to receive the good news of the Gospel if we don’t tell them about the unhappy reality of man after his fall in The Garden of Eden? How can we expect man to accept Jesus Christ as their Savior if we don’t first teach them that they are truly in need of a Savior? How can we expect someone to make haste and see a doctor if they don’t realize that they are very sick? Christ is the Doctor of Souls and He wants to heal the sickly souls and He wants to raise the spiritually dead souls (souls in mortal sin) back to life. How can we expect people to give up the pleasures of the flesh to follow Christ, pick up their crosses, and hope for Heaven if we fail to tell them of the excruciating pains of eternal damnation in Hell? How can we expect people to longingly desire to receive the sacrament of Baptism if we don’t first explain to them that the Church has always taught the necessity of Baptism for salvation and that prior to Baptism we are born children of wrath in bondage to sin and the Devil? It is the sacrament of Baptism which makes us adopted children of the Most High God. Why should we be surprised when so many souls sorrowfully stop practicing the Catholic Faith and leave the safety of the Ark of the Church when we fail to teach and preach the infallible dogma of Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus? Living the Catholic Faith is always difficult but it’s impossible to live it when we are ignorant of what it has always truly been and truly is.

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The Theological Virtue of Charity Explained by Fr. Ripperger

Eternal beatitude is a good thing which God wills for us, which we will for ourselves and so it is the good of eternal beatitude upon which our friendship is based. So it's because God gives us His eternal company that becomes the foundation for our friendship. Hence, the mutual love or mutual willing of the good between God and man is based upon this eternal beatitude, the fact that we can come together and love each other. The eternal beatitude is entirely beyond man's capacity to attain. And so Charity by which one loves God, exceeds our natural powers. So we can’t love God, purely on our own.  God must add a virtue called Charity in our wills, which makes it possible for us to perform this supernatural act of love. It's supernatural kind of love. It's not just your common everyday form of love. Charity is higher than Faith and Hope because one of the effects of love is union. Charity, which is love of God, moves us to have union with God, even though Hope inclines us to seek this eternal beatitude and seek the means to it to the end, it’s really Charity that drives us to have this union. We cannot really love God in a proportionate way without Charity. Why?

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How to Survive the Raging Storm

Driven by the depraved demons of the air, the wind howls as a thousand banshees. The towering, tumultuous waves thunder and roar as they incessantly barrage the great ship with the enormous weight of all of the seas. The sun, the moon, and the stars are seemingly enveloped by the thick tenebrous clouds. The torrential rain pours forth from the sky as the wind whips the raindrops into blinding sheets which cover and inundate everything, thereby reducing visibility to naught. Gigantic damaging hail is cast upon the inhabitants of the earth as innumerable mortars. Boats, many of which pridefully claimed to be unsinkable, are being destroyed and then swallowed by the hungry ocean. What a sorrowful scene to behold as so many men perish in this dreadful storm. A great majestic ship is seen on the horizon, it’s the Barque of St. Peter and it is taking on water as it is tossed to and fro by the assaults of the angry storm as it appears to be in the gravest of dangers and yet it still remains afloat. Without the eyes of Faith, the Barque of St. Peter looks to be totally helpless and hopeless against such a monstrous storm and doomed to be devoured by the Great Serpent of the Abyss. The enemies of the Church are emboldened and inebriated with a diabolically sick, twisted, and perverse ecstasy as they look upon the perilous plight of the Barque of St. Peter. The wicked denizens of the City of Man deeply desire the utter destruction of the Ark of the Church and the City of God.

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The Theological Virtue of Faith as Explained by Fr. Ripperger

And so Faith helps me to see those things which I should hope for. The evidence of things not seen refers to two things. The first is to the Faith which moves us to see the truth of what is revealed. Those who do not have Faith cannot see the truth of what God reveals and that is why some people believe what God says and some do not; since some have Faith and some do not. That’s also why some people believe what the Church says and some do not. If they have Faith they will, if they don’t then they simply won’t. The Second refers to things unseen since eternal beatitude and God, the things of this sort are things which we do not see. 

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Breaking News: The Pope’s Corpse was Disinterred and Put on Trial

“The Pope’s corpse was disinterred and a synod convened at the Lateran to judge him. The rotting cadaver was set up in full pontifical robes, with a deacon to answer the charges made, and Stephen sitting as Judge. The verdict was that Formosus could not have been valid Pope, as he had been bishop of another see at the time of his election; Stephen further ruled that all of Formosus’s clerical appointments were also invalid (this served Stephen well, as it meant that his own appointment to Anagni was annulled, thus allowing him, by his own lights, to be Pope). Further, Stephen declared Formosus’s sacramental ministrations as Pope to have been invalid, especially ordinations of priests and consecrations of bishops; all of those whom the late Pope had anointed were to be considered laymen (this judgement, incidentally, was itself heretical, since Catholic dogma holds that the sacraments work of themselves— ex opere operato), regardless of the legal standing of the cleric administering them. 

The Papal vestments were stripped from Formosus’s body; his hairshirt, however, had merged with his flesh, and could not be extracted. The three fingers of his right hand, used to bless when he was alive, were cut off and his corpse flung into the Tiber after being dragged through the streets. Later, a monk would rescue it.

Despite this exciting interlude, Stephen himself was destined for a bad end. A few months later an insurrection against Guido took over Rome. The Pope was stripped of his pontifical robes and insignia and strangled. ”

— (Coulombe, Pp. 127-128)

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Low Sunday From The Liturgical Year by Dom Prosper Gueranger

THE OCTAVE OF THE PASCH.

Our neophytes closed the Octave of the Resurrection yesterday. They were before us in receiving the admirable mystery; their solemnity would finish earlier than ours. This, then, is the eighth clay for us who kept the Pasch on the Sunday, and did not anticipate it on the vigil. It reminds us of all the glory and joy of that Feast of Feasts, which united the whole of Christendom in one common feeling of triumph. It is the day of light, which takes the place of the Jewish Sabbath. Henceforth, the first day of the week is to be kept holy. Twice has the Son of God honoured it with the manifestation of His almighty power. The Pasch, therefore, is always to be celebrated on the Sunday; and thus, every Sunday becomes a sort of Paschal Feast, as we have already explained in the Mystery of Easter.

Our Risen Jesus gave an additional proof of His wishing the Sunday to be, henceforth, the privileged day. He reserved the second visit He intended to pay to all His disciples for this the eighth day since His Resurrection. During the previous days, He has left Thomas a prey to doubt; but, to-day He shows Himself to this Apostle, as well as to the others, and obliges Him, by irresistible evidence, to lay aside His incredulity. Thus does our Saviour again honour the Sunday. The Holy Ghost will come down from heaven upon this same day of the week, making it the commencement of the Christian Church: Pentecost will complete the glory of this favoured day.

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Jesus Descends into Hell on Holy Saturday According to the Visions of Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich

The following is the complete chapter entitled, A detached Account of the Descent into Hell, from The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ by Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich. This chapter presents Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich’s visions of the descent of Jesus Christ into Hell (The Limbo of the Fathers) on Holy Saturday. The events of Holy Saturday are also known as the Harrowing of Hell.

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The Crucifixion of Christ According to the Visions of Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich

Excerpts from The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ by Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich:

CHAPTER XXXVIII.

The Nailing of Jesus to the Cross.

THE preparations for the crucifixion being finished four archers went to the cave where they had confined our Lord and dragged him out with their usual brutality, while the mob looked on and made use of insulting language, and the Roman soldiers regarded all with indifference, and thought of nothing but maintaining order. When Jesus was again brought forth, the holy women gave a man some money, and begged him to pay the archers anything they might demand if they would allow Jesus to drink the wine which Veronica had prepared; but the cruel executioners, instead of giving it to Jesus, drank it themselves. They had brought two vases with them, one of which contained vinegar and gall, and the other a mixture which looked like wine mixed with myrrh and absinthe; they offered a glass of the latter to our Lord, which he tasted, but would not drink.

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The Crucifixion of Christ: Sin and the Soul

This, the fifth and final installment of the sin and the soul series reflects upon the final consequences of mortal sin. Every time mortal sin is chosen, sanctifying grace is lost in that particular soul as that soul essentially evicts the indwelling of the Most Blessed Trinity from their interior life. Choosing to commit mortal sin is to choose death rather than life, darkness rather than light. It is a choice to crucify one’s very own soul. Once a soul suffers crucifixion it is impossible for it to escape from the cross under its own powers. The soul cannot will itself to freedom and life. Only divine intervention could defeat death and resurrect this dead soul.

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Palm Sunday from The Liturgical Year by Dom Prosper Gueranger

Early in the morning of this day, Jesus sets our for Jerusalem, leaving Mary, his Mother, and the two sisters Martha and Mary Magdalene, and Lazarus, at Bethania. The Mother of Sorrows trembles at seeing her Son thus expose himself to danger, for his enemies are bent upon his destruction; but it is not Death, it is Triumph, that Jesus is to receive today in Jerusalem. The Messias, before being nailed to the Cross, is to be proclaimed King by the people of the great City; the little children are to make her streets echo with their Hosannas to the Son of David; and this in presence of the soldiers of Rome’s Emperor, and of the High Priests and Pharisees, the first, standing under the banner of their Eagles; the second, dumb with rage.

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The Veiling of the Church

Holy Mother Church enters Passiontide with Her Lord as His Hour draws near and the events of Holy Week unfold. The cross, through the eyes of the flesh, casts what appears to be the darkest of shadows as it causes a most sorrowful eclipse of Light, Truth, and Glory. The Church contemplates the great mysteries of Holy Week and She knows that one day, in the fullness of time, prior to the return of Her Lord, that She too must follow Her Lord into His Passion and undergo an ultimate trial that will shake the faith of many of her dear children. During this great tribulation the glory of the Church will become veiled just as the glory of Jesus Christ was veiled during passiontide and Holy Week. As with all matters, these supremely sorrowful mysteries must be met with the theological virtues of Faith, Hope, and Charity. All true followers of Christ must carry the cross and doing so is only meritorious if it is embraced as God’s will. For that is the only way to truly unite our sufferings with His suffering and it is the only way to unite our crosses with His Holy Cross.

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The Carrying of The Cross; Sin and The Soul

Meditating upon Jesus Christ, The Second Person of The Most Blessed Trinity, as He carried His cross for our redemption, evokes countless reflections and feelings. One particular reflection may note the relationship between sin and the soul. Looking upon Our Savior as He carries His cross, the disfiguring and deadly affects of our sins are apparent. What is less apparent to fallen man is the reality that the appearance of Christ as His Sacred Flesh is bloodied and disfigured during His sorrowful Passion is also a mystical mirror of the disfigured state of man’s soul on account of original sin and actual sin. Christ, Our Savior and Redeemer willingly chose to undergo the unfathomable suffering of the cross for love of His Father and for the love of souls. Only He could save us from original and actual sin. Only He could deliver us from being in bondage to sin and the Devil.

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The Carrying of the Cross According to Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich

The Carrying of the Cross by Jesus is depicted in tremendous detail through the visions of Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich. Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich had these visions of the Passion of Our Lord written down in her book called The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Mel Gibson used these visions to help him create his blockbuster film, The Passion of the Christ. These visions are very inspirational and provide rich content to meditate and contemplate upon.

This article presents the entire section from the Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ which illustrates His carrying of the Cross. Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich provides a richly detailed mystical vision of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ as He carries His Cross:

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Jesus is Tempted by the Devil in the Desert: Part 2

The Great Commentary of Cornelius a Lapide masterfully illustrates the teachings of the Saints and fathers of the Church regarding the temptation of Jesus by the Devil in the desert. Part 2 of this series will consist entirely of the profound and extensive Scriptural commentary of Cornelius a Lapide. Reading this commentary on this event of monumental importance in the life of Christ, which has been handed down through tradition, is truly a great treasure which provides the sincere reader with the heavenly armor of God which protects against the diabolical attacks of the Devil. Understanding these passages from Sacred Scripture makes it possible to identify the insidious battle plans of the Devil. In a way, it is almost as if the the battle tactics of the ancient enemy have been intercepted and decoded by the soldiers of God. Not only that, but these commentaries provide an impenetrable defense against the infernal dragon as they illustrate how to emulate Jesus Christ in a more perfect manner. Christ has already crushed the head of the vile, ancient serpent. Christus Vincit! Christus Regnat! Christus Imperat!

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Jesus is Tempted by the Devil in the Desert: Part 1

The above passages from Sacred Scripture are of the utmost importance to the life of Christians. The Holy Ghost leads Jesus into the wilderness to fast, to pray, to be tempted by and to do battle with Satan. This is a microcosm of the Christian life in the Church Militant. Each soul is ever at war with the world, the flesh, and the Devil. Even those who do not believe, are nevertheless, participants in this spiritual battle and their unbelief has not, does not, and will not spare them the eternal consequences of this battle. Far from protecting souls, ignorance of the reality of this spiritual warfare all but ensures that Satan, the enemy of God and man, will ensnare them and drag them into his hellish kingdom of darkness. To not know the enemy and his tactics is to be defenseless to him and his assaults. To not know Christ and to not know that He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life is to be but a traveler lost without direction and witless of the final destination. If Christ is not followed then a person will errantly follow their own poorly formed conscience as they are seduced by the pleasures offered by the world, the flesh, and the Devil. In the spiritual warfare of this earthly life there are only two kingdoms, the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Satan. These two kingdoms are at war until the consummation of the present world. Peace and victory over the world, the flesh, and the Devil are only won through Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Most Blessed Trinity. True peace was won by Christ and True peace can only be received from Christ within the pilgrimage through this veil of tears. Holy Mother Church, always a wise and nurturing Mother, puts the above Gospel passage before Her children during the First Sunday of Lent. The temptation of Christ in the desert by the Devil is a theologically rich event from the life of Christ, which each soul ought to study and meditate upon.

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Our heart is restless, until it repose in Thee.

One of the most beautifully prayerful meditations ever put to paper was written by St. Augustine in his spiritual classic, The Confessions. The following excerpt from THE CONFESSIONS OF SAINT AUGUSTINE, AD 401, Translated by Edward Bouverie Pusey, brilliantly captures the longing of the soul for God:

“Great art Thou, O Lord, and greatly to be praised; great is Thy power, and Thy wisdom infinite. And Thee would man praise; man, but a particle of Thy creation; man, that bears about him his mortality, the witness of his sin, the witness that Thou resistest the proud: yet would man praise Thee; he, but a particle of Thy creation. Thou awakest us to delight in Thy praise; for Thou madest us for Thyself, and our heart is restless, until it repose in Thee. 

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