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Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

About a year ago, I stumbled across Matt Pratt’s “Pints with Aquinas.” He’s my new late-night go-to entertainment after my wife falls asleep while we watch something on Prime, Netflix, or The Peacock.

Recently, I tapped into his talk with Fr. Thomas Joseph White titled “What is Predestination?”

Though informative, I have to admit that most of it was above my pay grade. About 43 minutes in, however, everything changed. Matt asked Fr. White, “How does this affect our spiritual lives… What would you say to those struggling with scrupulosity?”

Full disclosure, though I had heard of the word scruples, I had to look up the definition of scrupulosity and see how it connected with my Catholic Christian faith.

Fr. White began to describe the no-brainers: Prayers to Christ; going to the sacraments — especially Confession and Communion; and trying to live the moral teachings of the Church with Hope.

Like he said, no-brainers. It all begins here. CLICK.

Things began to change for me when Fr. White said that he tells people that they have to make seven acts of Hope a day.

“What does that look like?” Matt Pratt quickly added to which Fr. White presented a simple scenario.

When you arrive at your desk and before you start your day, you say something like this:

“Lord Jesus Christ, I hope in You, my Savior. I want to devote my day of work to You. I believe in Your Providence. I trust in You. I trust in Your Mercy. I trust in You to forgive my sins. I’m going to try to forgive other people for their sins. I want to live in Your Mercy. I want to hope in You. Everything that happens to me and everything I do can be a means that can conduct me to Sanctification and Salvation.

I’m going to use everything you give me today to try to be conformed to the Mystery of the Cross and Resurrection. I hope in You.

From there, the gems of salvation started to overflow.

  • Hope is the spiritual boxer’s virtue.
  • Develop that boxer’s perseverance stance of Hope throughout the day.
  • If you get punched by the Devil, you hit back with hope.
  • Learn not to talk back to the Devil, but talk to Christ and say “I hope in You.”
  • Hope is the fighter’s virtue that gets you through the fog of war of day-to-day life.
  • Of Faith, Hope, and Charity, Hope is the under-nourished virtue.
  • Dive into the safety net of God’s Mercy.
  • Radically Trust in the Mercy of Christ.
  • Live with the vulnerability that you can’t save yourself!
  • Learn to treat Christ as a person and trust unconditionally in the Mercy of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Wow!

So, starting today: If you get punched by the Devil, get up! and hit back with Hope. Jesus, I trust in YOU! Amen!

Corporation YOU!

James is the author of Corporation YOU: A Business Plan for the Soul, The Christmas Save, and two children’s books: The Second Prince and Klaus: The Gift-giver to ALL 

As a writer, James has been featured on The Inside Success Show, Bob Salter (CBS Radio),  Mike Siegel, Mancow, and more.  

Beyond writing, James worked with At-Risk youth in Southern California for over six years.  His contributions to the classroom — featured on local television and in the LA Daily News and the Los Angeles Times’ Burbank Leader — earned him the honors of “Teacher of the Year”.    James was also twice honored by a CASDA Scholar as the teacher who had the greatest influence on that student.   As an educator, James also appeared twice on America Live with Megyn Kelly. 

Today, James lives in New York where he continues to teach — and write.   Besides his books, you can follow his musing on this blog Corporation You.

To contact James or book an interview, please contact Mark of Goldman/McCormick PR at (516) 639-0988or Mark@goldmanmccormick.com.

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ash-wednesday-corporation-you

 

Today is Ash Wednesday.

For six years, I lived and worked in Southern California, within the bounds of the largest Catholic archdiocese in United States where I attended Mass and services at the parish of St. Finbar in Burbank.

Almost 5 million Catholics work, live, and worship in the Los Angeles community of 11 million people which prides itself on its embrace of multiculturalism.

Oddly enough, when I lived in So Cal, not one Ash Wednesday passed without someone pointing out that I had “something” on my forehead.

The first time it occurred, I was in a Target. The person was kind and concerned as she approached and expressed her concern.

“Excuse me, sir,” she said. “You have something on your forehead.”
“It’s Ashes,” I replied, believing she would then know what I was talking about. She didn’t. “It’s Ash Wednesday,” I continued. Still nothing. “I’m Catholic,” I added. “We put Ashes on our forehead to mark the beginning of the season called Lent.”
“Wow, that’s cool,” she smiled, then walked off.

I have to admit; though I chuckled, I was equally amazed that she didn’t know. The following year, it occurred again.

My wife and I went to have sushi after receiving ashes to meet our holy obligation of eating fish. (And yes, I’m aware that sushi is not the true intended act of penance imposed by the Church to commemorate the day.)

As we we’re leaving the restaurant, the Japanese-accented Sushi Chef called out to us.

“Thank you for coming,” he said. “Have good day.”
“You too!” my wife and I added in unison.
“Excuse me, you have something on you –,” he added, pointing to his forehead.
“Yes, thank you,” I replied. “It’s ashes. It’s Ash Wednesday.”
“Oh my goodness,” he humbly replied seemingly losing his accent. “I’m a lapsed Catholic.”

We chuckled. First at the loss of the shame-filled Sushi’s Chef’s Japanese accent; but also at the fact that it happened again!

I was equally amazed that he didn’t know.

IMG_1351The most noted case of mistaken ashes came when British Sky News reporters, on Ash Wednesday, thought the dirty mark above the brow of then Vice-President Joe Biden was also just something on his forehead.

It’s quite humorous. The reporter, another self-proclaimed lapsed Catholic, finally realizes three minutes and 10 seconds into the broadcast that Joe Biden’s something is, in fact, ashes, and humbly apologizes.

Take a look at it HERE.

In her defense, and the defense of the others, our ashes often lose their intended shape, that of a cross — especially by the end of the day.  (See below)

Though I no longer live in Los Angeles, I, oddly enough, miss those awkward Ash Wednesday incidents.

I don’t miss them because they made me laugh — even though they did.  I miss them because they revealed, to me, the true nature of the season of Lent that lives in the heart of those of goodwill.

Lent is a season of Penance, yes; but it’s also a season of Reflection.

But what exactly should we reflect on?

Well, how about we reflect on being more Holy, more Christ-like; we can do this by reflecting His loving character more.

In fact, I’d argue that the motivation behind these well-intended interactions were, for the most part, just as Christian as the act of receiving and wearing ashes.

How so?

Then let me start with this question: If Jesus was walking down the street and he saw a smudge on someone’s forehead, what would He do? What would He say?

I think that Jesus would stop, point, and say, “Excuse me, sir. You have something on your forehead.”

So, if today, if you are stopped by a well-intended non-believer or non Church-goer, simply smile and say, “No, that’s not dirt on my forehead. It’s Ashes … but thank you!”

Maybe, you could even take this opportunity to start a conversation — and possibly take the first step in introducing someone else to the Love of Christ.

IMG_1353James Henry is the author of Corporation YOU: A Business Plan for the Soul, Hail Mary series, and two children’s books: The Second Prince and Klaus: The Gift-giver to ALL!  As a writer, James has been widely featured on Bob Salter (CBS Radio), Mike Siegel, Mancow, and more.

Today, James lives in New York where he continues to teach — and write.

To contact James or book an interview, please contact Mark of Goldman/McCormick PR at (516) 639-0988 or Mark@goldmanmccormick.com.

 

Lent Fun Fact:
The Catholic practice of abstaining from meat on Friday was the reason for the creation of McDonald’s Filet-o-Fish sandwich.

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Every year, we bless our home. Or at least we try. This year, we were a week late. It’s a beautiful tradition, inspired by the Book of Exodus, that you can do with your kids.

First, find some chalk. If you’re house is like ours, there’s a piece of chalk somewhere. Under a couch cushion, under the kids bed, in the garage, on the driveway. The list is endless.

According to Aleteia, a priest traditionally, blesses chalk on the Feast of the Epiphany by saying the following prayer (from the Roman Ritual):

Bless, + O Lord God, this creature, chalk, and let it be a help to mankind. Grant that those who will use it with faith in your most holy name, and with it inscribe on the doors of their homes the names of your saints, Casper, Melchior, and Baltassar, may through their merits and intercession enjoy health in body and protection of soul; through Christ our Lord.

Being the head of the household, I usually bless the chalk, then while marking the doors 20 +C +M +B 21 with chalk, I pray the blessing.

Bless, + O Lord God almighty, this home, that in it there may be health, purity, the strength of victory, humility, goodness and mercy, the fulfillment of Thy law, the thanksgiving to God the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. And may this blessing remain upon this home and upon all who dwell herein. Through Christ our Lord.

20 +C +M +B 21

As the article in Aleteia clearly states, [t]here is no “guarantee” that a home marked with Epiphany chalk will be protected from all illnesses, it does remind us that God is the giver of all gifts and he can lead us into good health. The spiritual needs of the family should always be in the forefront of our mind, knowing that God will lead us through every dark valley — and from the looks of things, it may take us all of 2021 to climb out of the dark valley of 2020.

Thank you to Aleteia for reminding us to bless our house again this year. The steps and prayers below come directly from their website. So, please, support them by visiting their website.

I hope you take the time to bless your home. God bless!

James is the author of Corporation YOU: A Business Plan for the Soul, The Christmas Save, and two children’s books: The Second Prince and Klaus: The Gift-giver to ALL 

As a writer, James has been featured on The Inside Success Show, Bob Salter (CBS Radio),  Mike Siegel, Mancow, and more.  

Beyond writing, James worked with At-Risk youth in Southern California for over six years.  His contributions to the classroom — featured on local television and in the LA Daily News and the Los Angeles Times’ Burbank Leader — earned him the honors of “Teacher of the Year”.    James was also twice honored by a CASDA Scholar as the teacher who had the greatest influenced that student.   As an educator, James also appeared twice on America Live with Megyn Kelly. 

Today, James lives in New York where he continues to teach — and write.   Besides his books, you can follow his musing on this blog Corporation You.

To contact James or book an interview, please contact Mark of Goldman/McCormick PR at (516) 639-0988or Mark@goldmanmccormick.com.

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When I first moved to Los Angeles, I got a job teaching kids at a charter school in the San Fernando Valley. This wasn’t your typical Charter School. It was more like the school of last chances.

After my first year, I was asked to take on the responsibility of Dean of Discipline, a position I would share with the school’s English Teacher who had beliefs in religion, politics, etcetera completely opposite to mine. Professionally, however, we shared the same goals and outside of religion and politics, we got along just fine. We also shared some of the same interests.

Additionally, we also both went to Yale. (More on that in a later blog post.)

One day, while we were conversing with the school principal, she said the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me.

Before I meet you, I hated men, Catholics, and Republicans — and you’re all three … but I kind of like you.”

It’s been more than 15 years since we both worked with each other. I have since moved back East. And, except for a comment here and there on Facebook, we don’t really communicate much anymore. But for a brief time, we worked closely together and occasionally socialized. When my wife was out-of-town, she and I would grab a bite to eat and truly enjoyed each other’s company. (At least I believe we did.)

In today’s world, I wonder if such a relationship of opposites would ever be able to flourish or grow?

That makes me sad. How else can we truly learn to “love one another”?

James is the author of Corporation YOU: A Business Plan for the Soul The Christmas Save, Hail Mary series, and two children’s books: The Second Prince and Klaus: The Gift-giver to All.   For six years, James taught At-Risk kids in Los Angeles. Today, he lives in New York where he continues to write — and teach. To contact James or book an interview, please contact Mark of Goldman & McCormick PR at (516) 639-0988 or Mark@goldmanmccormick.com.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

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Sex. Kind of an odd topic for someone who muses often on Faith. Heck, I just recently I reposted a piece on the Mary’s Perpetual Virginity. So, why am I now focusing on sex?

Well, I’m actually focusing on sex within marriage, namely the Heavenly-designed marital embrace.

Truth be told: Christians have sex. Next to evangelization, it is another way we make more Christians — and probably the most popular. Books like Emerson Eggerichs’ Love & Respect and Dietrich von Hildebrand’s In Defense of Purity, which influenced the theological works by Pope St. John Paul II, such as Love and Responsibility and Theology of the Body, have highlighted the importance of love making in a healthy marriage.

However, life changes in a marriage after you have kids — and so do priorities. Sadly, one of those priorities is sex.

Though many people feel that planning a tryst with your spouse removes the romance from the encounter — and maybe it does for some — it can also also add a bit of excitement and make every encounter feel like a honeymoon.

But men and women are wired differently.

Men have the capacity to push every thought to the side and focus solely on one thing, if need be. In fact, we can focus on nothing if we have to, blocking out the whole world simply by venturing into the “Nothing Box” in our brains. Our wives brains, however, are built differently.

Women’s brains have a box for everything. [1] The only box a woman’s brain doesn’t have is a “Nothing Box.”

Without the risk of being crude, the roof could be leaking, the neighbor’s house could be on fire, and a man could push everything to the side and be prepared to make love. Women on the other hand — moms especially — often come to bed with a checklist of unfinished business in their heads and every neuron afire.

So Gentlemen, if you want to bring the excitement back into your love life; if you want your next romantic encounter with your bride to be something beyond a night of Netflix and chill; if you want to have amazing sex with your wife, then…

Empty out the dishwasher!

Vacuum the living room before she gets home. Clear off the kitchen counter. Make the bed. Do a load of laundry or two. If you really want to go to the extreme, learn how to fold fitted-sheets.

Give her nothing to think about. Give her nothing else to focus on except for you and her body.

If you want to have an amazing love life with your bride, get to work and make your home her “Nothing Box.”

James Henry is the author of Corporation YOU: A Business Plan for the Soul, The Christmas Save and two children’s books: The Second Prince and Klaus: The Gift-giver to All.   For six years, James taught At-Risk kids in Los Angeles. Today, he lives in New York where he continues to write — and teach. James would like to thank congerdesign from Pixabay for contributing the image for this blog post. To contact James or book an interview, please contact Mark of Goldman & McCormick PR at (516) 639-0988 or Mark@goldmanmccormick.com.

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After reading a passage in the Gospel of Matthew, the pastor of my Church challenged the congregation to keep a Tithe Journal.

He suggested that if we kept a tally of all that which we donated financially to the Church, then wrote down everything we received in return during the week.

“If someone buys you a coffee, write it down,” he said. “If the parking meter ran out and you didn’t get a ticket, write it down.

“I guarantee that God will reward your giving,” he told the Collect. “In fact, if you keep a journal and you don’t get a return 10 times the amount of your giving, I will return everything you gave to the Church.”

Everyone one sat silently impressed at the Pastor’s faith in the scriptures. You can actually say that he was less-than-confident in his challenge because Matthew promises, in Chapter 13, a return of at least 30 times for some, and up to a hundredfold for others.

In Matthew 19:29, the Gospel author again repeats a hundredfold reward, as does Luke in Chapter 8 verse 8.

Though I never kept a Tithe Journal, I have kept a mindful account of my returns.

Recently, my wife and I decided to contact a electrician to check out our home’s electrical system. Though I often brag that our house is state-of-the-art, I quickly remind everyone listening that its state-of-the-art 1970’s!

The first estimate we received was north of $4,000. Though costly, we value our family’s safety. However, before moving forward, we decided to get a second bid.

At the end of a Knights of Columbus meeting, I asked some of the older gentlemen if they had the name of a reliable electrician. One quickly came to mind.

The next day, I called and spoke to the wife of the electrician who promised that her husband would call and set up an appointment when he came home from work. I didn’t expect a phone call that evening, but I did expect a call within a day or so.

After a week went by, I was surprised that I didn’t receive a call. So, after almost two weeks of waiting, I decided to try again — solely because the electrician was so highly recommended.

Again the wife answer. She recognized my name — there are not too many Dobkowskis around here or anywhere, except maybe Poland — and she sincerely apologized. Her husband called me the next day, on a Saturday, and asked if he could come over right away.

He arrived shortly and knocked firmly on our front door.

I quickly opened the door and we exchanged greetings. Afterwards, he pointed to the markings on my door. You see, every Christmas on the Epiphany, we mark our front door with chalk and pray a blessing.

Bless, + O Lord God almighty, this home, that in it there may be health, purity, the strength of victory, humility, goodness and mercy, the fulfillment of Thy law, the thanksgiving to God the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. And may this blessing remain upon this home and upon all who dwell herein. Through Christ our Lord.

“Are you Catholic?” he asked.

“I am,” I added. “In fact, I got your name from the Knights.”

After discussing our problem, I escorted the electrician to the circuit breaker box.

“This can be an easy fix or a bleep show,” he said as he pulled out his screwdriver and went to work. A few minutes later, he was done. Next he check the lights and tested the surge I was concerned about.

“Everything looks good,” he said.

“What about updating everything?” I asked, referring to the earlier estimate I received.

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” he concluded.

“Okay, what do I owe you?”

He calculated his time in his head, then said, “Forty dollars.”

I gladly paid him and escorted him outside. We chatted as he smoked a cigarette, then went on his way.

Forty times 100 is 4,000! That’s a’hundred fold in savings — and almost 100 fold of my weekly tithe.

We tend to overlook the little things. The penny tray on the counter of the convenience store. The loose change found in your pants pocket. The unexpected gift like when a former student of mine who stepped forward on the line at Stewart’s to purchase my morning cup of Joe.

The list goes on and on.

You many be skeptical, as was I, sitting in that pew so many years ago. So, do what I did. Stop taking just taking account of what you give and start taking account of every thing you receive — everything!

You may very well discover that it may be 10, 30, or a hundred fold of what you gave.

James Henry is the author of Corporation YOU: A Business Plan for the Soul, The Christmas Save and two children’s books: The Second Prince and Klaus: The Gift-giver to All.   For six years, James taught At-Risk kids in Los Angeles. Today, he lives in New York where he continues to write — and teach. James would like to thank Jeff Jacobs from Pixabay for contributing the image for this blog post. To contact James or book an interview, please contact Mark of Goldman & McCormick PR at (516) 639-0988 or Mark@goldmanmccormick.com.

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God finally called Home my hometown neighbor Mr. Tom Cornelia, one of the toughest men I ever knew.

After my dad died, when me and my brother didn’t see “eye-to-eye”, my mom would call Tom to “step in” and break us up — and we’d listen or he’d break us!

There’s too many stories to tell.

All I can say is that I always knew he had our backs! No threat would come upon us kids on North Kings Avenue as long as Mr. Cornelia was on watch. He is proof that God does not call the perfect. He calls the best! He calls on warriors! Those, regardless of their flaws, do God’s Will when called upon.

It was like living next-door to a super hero. It was like living next-door to Superman!

Like the rest of us, he had his Kryptonite. But even in those times of weakness, his will to protect and defend was far beyond that of mortal men!

Now that he is with the Lord, I have no doubt he will continue to keep watch over us and our children from above.

Rest In Peace! — and say hi to my Dad for me.

James Henry is the author of Corporation YOU: A Business Plan for the SoulThe Christmas Save, and two children books: The Second Prince and Klaus: The Gift-giver to All.   For six years, James taught At-Risk kids in Los Angeles. Today, he lives in New York where he continues to write — and teach. To contact James or book an interview, please contact Mark of Goldman & McCormick PR at (516) 639-0988 or Mark@goldmanmccormick.com.

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I’m sure this post will get many likes by my “Title-Reading Only” Christians brothers and sisters simply based on their interpretation (or misinterpretation) of Mathieu 23:9: “Call no man father….”

First off, if that interpretation was accurate, St. Stephan committed blasphemy in Scripture when he refers to “our father Abraham” in Acts 7:2; as did St. Paul in Romans 9:10, where he speaks of “our father Isaac.”

The custom of Catholics reverently referring to priests as “Father” is biblical.

According to Catholic.com, Paul refers to the spiritual fatherhood of priests with his statement, “I do not write this to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children. For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel” (1 Cor. 4:14–15).

Peter followed the same custom, referring to Mark as his son: “She who is at Babylon, who is likewise chosen, sends you greetings; and so does my son Mark” (1 Pet. 5:13).

Additionally, John said, “My little children, I am writing this to you so that you may not sin; but if any one does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1); “No greater joy can I have than this, to hear that my children follow the truth” (3 John 4). In fact, John also addresses men in his congregations as “fathers” (1 John 2:13–14).

By referring to these people as their spiritual sons and spiritual children, Peter, Paul, and John imply their own roles as spiritual fathers. Since the Bible frequently speaks of this spiritual fatherhood, we Catholics acknowledge it and follow the custom of the apostles by calling priests “father.” 

Failure to acknowledge this is a failure to recognize and honor a great gift God has bestowed on the Church: the spiritual fatherhood of the priesthood. [1]

I get all that, but here’s something else fathers do — they stick around!

When I was a kid, priests came to a parish and stayed long enough where you could develop a sense of security in their fatherhood. Unless something tragic happened, they just didn’t leave. And if they had to leave, they left you in the hands of another strong father-figure.

That doesn’t happen today. Priest come and go. Sure, we can blame the priest shortage, but is there really a world-wide shortage of priests?

Between 1970 and 2017, the number of priests has declined from 419,728 to 414,582. At the same time, the Catholic population has nearly doubled, growing from 653.6 million in 1970 to 1.229 billion in 2012. Those combined stats, however, are quite misleading since Mass attendance in most nations is substantially down, around or below 40%.

Today, there are actually more priests for the Collect in attendance, per ratio, worldwide, than there were in 1970.

That doesn’t mean we stop praying for more vocations to the priesthood. We also don’t punt and come complacent, relying solely on Deacons, Pastoral Associates, and alike. The Catholic Church needs her priests!

When I asked my parish pastor why we don’t invite foreign priests to fill in the void, his response was shocking.

“No one would show up,” he said. He went on to explain how a visiting priest with an accent stood in for him one weekend (I believe the priest was Irish) and the parishioners did nothing but complain. Imagine, he continued, if it was someone without a strong command of English.

What?!

In my childhood parish, we had a priest who did not have a strong command of English. He also spoke softly. You had to really struggle to listen to his sermons. However, he had such a love for the Eucharist and his ministry that parishioners fell in love with this father-figure. Many began to weep at Mass when he announced his transfer from the parish. Thankfully, back then, we had other parish priests, so his departure did not tear apart the congregation.

However, when there’s just one priest for a parish, their departure can be devastating.

A family needs both a mother and father, who are present, attentive, and faithful to each other and the Church. We have so many studies that shows what happens to families when a father is not present — especially its negative effects it has on boys. We can also see the negative effects the lack of Fathers is having on the Catholic Church.

We venerate Saints like Patrick, Xavier, Isaac Jogues, Ignatius of Loyola, Junipero Serra who traveled to foreign lands to spread the Word. Unless given the gift of tongues, they most likely had to learn the native languages and spoke with an accent. Yet, there are Dioceses in the United States that continue to limit the number of foreign priests who can come to our shores, bringing the strength of their belief with them.

That’s not only UnAmerican; that’s downright unCatholic!

Until we have enough priests that can tend to one spiritual family and stay, just like all Judeo-Christian fathers are called to do, maybe — just maybe — we should stop calling Catholic priests “Father”?

James Henry is the author of Corporation YOU: A Business Plan for the Soul,  and two children books: The Second Prince and Klaus: The Gift-giver to All.   For six years, James taught At-Risk kids in Los Angeles. Today, he lives in New York where he continues to write — and teach. With sincere thanks, James would like to thank Zoltan Suga from Pixabay for providing the image for this blog post on CorporationYOU.com.

To contact James or book an interview, please contact Mark of Goldman & McCormick PR at (516) 639-0988 or Mark@goldmanmccormick.com.

_______________

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“Meet them where they are.” It’s a reference to Luke 24:13-35.

It’s often used by Christians who are more patient than I with other Christians who are not quite there yet.

“We’re all sinners” is another one.

I get it. Christians are supposed to be kind and loving. All I can say is that I try. However, that’s not to say that we’re also not supposed to be truthful when it comes to our Faith.

Let me give you a perfect example.

Almost a decade ago, my wife and I moved to Los Angeles so I could pursue a writing career. I’ve written about that pursuit several times in this blog, so I’m not going to repeat myself here. With that said, I quickly found myself swimming with the big fish.

A few months in, I was talking on the phone with Monsignor James McDonald, a Catholic priest with who I stayed in contact with most of my life. Filled with pride, I began discussing my accomplishments. As I began to describe the storyline behind the screenplay that was giving me the most accolades, a horror film titled Fortune Five, about a serial killer written in the same vein of Silence of the Lambs, Fr. McDonald quickly interrupted me.

“Jimmy … YOU’RE A WHORE!” he shouted over the phone. “You’re nothing but a whore!”

Though most people are shocked when they hear my story, I very much appreciated Fr. McDonald’s candor. After the initial smackdown, I explain, Fr. McDonald proceeded to catechize me. However, most folks can’t get over a priest seemingly being so unkind.

I am often reminded of this experience when I hear or read the discourse between Jesus and Cleopas & gang on the road to Emmaus.

After listening to the disciples, Jesus said to them, “How foolish you are….”

Much like Fr. McDonald, the Risen Lord gave them a bit of a tongue-lashing before proceeding to catechize them. He catechized them for hours.

Jesus did not just teach the disciples about Himself and His ministry, He started “with Moses and the Prophets [and] explained how the Old Testament is in the New concealed and the New Testament is in the Old revealed.

And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning Himself.”

Luke 24:27

St. Augustine put it this way. “This grace hid itself under a veil in the Old Testament, but it has been revealed in the New Testament according to the most perfectly ordered dispensation of the ages, forasmuch as God knew how to dispose of all things.” [On the Spirit and the Letter. Chapter 27.]

Only after Our Lord “opened the scriptures to them” that “He took the bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them.” Only after the disciples were catechized did they come to the table to celebrate the Eucharist.

Have you ever noticed that the first reading is always the Old Testament? It is where the New is concealed. The Gospel reading is where the Old is revealed. The readings are a road map to Emmaus, a pathway to the table of the Lord and the Supper of the Lamb.

Every Mass we journey on the road to Emmaus.

Come to the Lord prepared. Every week walk with Him. Learn from Him. Live your life like you’re on the road to Emmaus — because you really are!

Dr. Brant Pitre offers this in-depth explanation on Understanding the Sunday Readings. Watch it!

James Henry is the author of Corporation YOU: A Business Plan for the Soul,  and two children books: The Second Prince and Klaus: The Gift-giver to All.   For six years, James taught At-Risk kids in Los Angeles. Today, he lives in New York where he continues to write — and teach. With sincere gratitude, James would like to thank 👀 Mabel Amber, from Pixabay, for providing the image for this blog post on CorporationYou.com.

To contact James or book an interview, please contact Mark of Goldman & McCormick PR at (516) 639-0988 or Mark@goldmanmccormick.com.

 

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I recently read an opinion piece in the National Catholic Reporter titled “Time to put the ‘catholic’ back in the Catholic Church.”

It’s not necessarily a hit-piece on those who enjoy the Traditional Latin Mass (TLM). However, it didn’t paint the TLM movement in a positive light, either.

Born after Vatican 2, I never experienced the Latin Mass in my youth. However, I remember witnessing some of the changes in my parish, such as moving the altar forward, replacing the crucifix with a statue of the Risen Lord. As a cradle Catholic, I just went along with the changes and gave it little thought … until one day, I traveled abroad.

Well, I really didn’t travel abroad. I traveled to Canada. Québec, actually. Montréal to be precise.

During my stay, I attended Sunday Mass at chapelle Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours, “Our Lady of Good Help”, in the district of Vieux Montreal.

The Chapel was breath-taking and I waited with bated breath for Mass to begin.

Everything seemed to be exactly like what I experienced in my local parish in the States — until everyone began speaking.

Not that I’m a francophobe. I just felt removed — not a part of the parish. Sadly, I didn’t feel “catholic.” In fact, I really didn’t feel “Catholic” either. For the first time, I understood why the Latin Rite was in Latin for so long.

Years passed since I attended a Traditional Latin Mass. My wife and I had recently moved to California. My wife, who was Lutheran at the time, leaned trad.  (Actually, she leaned Orthodox … Russian Orthodox.) Since we often attended different services at the time, we both found common ground with the Mass of the Ages.

Though my wife truly enjoyed it, I again felt removed. I didn’t feel “catholic” (lowercase c) However, I did feel “Catholic.”

After that Sunday, I returned to attending Mass at my parish, Saint Finbar.

It was a multicultural parish in Burbank, California. Founded by Irish, the congregation now also included Latino, Filipino, and Vietnamese parishioners. For the first time as a Cradle Catholic, St. Finbar’s gave me a sense of “being catholic”. The Masses and music were reverent. The Sanctus and the Agnes Die were sometimes sung.

One priest eloquently sang the entire Eucharistic prayer.

I remember the first time I heard it, I rolled my eyes. Is this going to be like Godspell, I remember saying to myself, fearing a contemporary music abuse of the Novus Ordo. It was Southern California and Burbank was in Hollywood’s backyard. However, to my surprise, it was moving. So moving, I would intentionally skip his Masses, from time to time, to make sure that I was attending Mass for the right reason, the Eucharist alone.

Later, as a fundraiser, the parish music ministry put out a CD of their liturgical performances, which included the Eucharist prayers. I would often listen to these recorded prayers when stuck in traffic or on my way to work.

The only negative thing I can say about this “experience” was that many of the Masses were in the native tongues of the parishioners. Except for Holy Days of Obligation and Soup Fridays during Lent, the Church Community of St. Finbar rarely gathered together as one Catholic community.

Yet, the parish never lost its true sense of being “catholic.”

On one of those Sundays where I had no choice but to attend a Mass in Spanish, I never felt removed from the Mass.  In fact, I often preferred the Spanish Mass. The celebration didn’t seem to end. It flowed out of the Church and went forth to the veranda outside the church. Music played as families handed out loaves of bread to anyone in need. It was beautiful.

However, it was helpful that I understood Spanish. Then it happened…

It was Easter Sunday and I was outside the church assisting as part of the Greeting Committee. I felt that I didn’t meet my Sunday obligation and picked up a bulletin to see when the next English-speaking Mass was scheduled.

“Have you ever attended a Vietnamese Mass?” one of the greeters asked me.

“No, they’re usually on Wednesday,” I added.

“There’s one following this Mass,” she continued. “Stay behind and attend. It’s beautiful.”

So, I did.

I had never experienced such a beautiful Liturgy. The entire Mass was sung, from beginning to end, by both the Priest and the Collect. I stood in the back, watching with great awe. And even though I did not understand a word of it, I was captured by its elegance, grace, and reverence — especially for the Eucharist.

I didn’t realize it then, but I was forever changed.

Years have passed and my wife and I moved back to New York after starting a family. Though we started attending Mass together, nothing matched the feeling about being “catholic” that I experienced at St. Finbar.

In an effort to better evangelize, my present parish has embraced a less traditional model of worship taken from the pages of the book Rebuilt.

Though I applaud the efforts made by the parish in Maryland, I am highly skeptical of any Church where I have difficulty finding the word “Catholic” on their website. A second concern comes from their use of the term “service” over Mass and their focus on “tools and tricks” such as building a sense of theater.

Though our Pastor had greatly improved the reverence experienced at Mass, few parishioners appear equally reverent. We are among the few who improve our wardrobe during Mass, often receiving comments (all good) on our boys’ attire and manners.

Last year, I approached my pastor and expressed our possible need to go elsewhere. I’m not a big fan of “Church shopping”, but something had to change.

Speaking of my thoughts about attending a TLM, I harkened back to my Easter Sunday experience and said, “I’d rather go to a Church where my kids didn’t know what was going on and everyone else did than be at a Church where they knew what was going on and those around them don’t.”

Of course, I was referring to the holiness of the Mass.

Since there was not a Diocesan Traditional Latin Liturgy close enough to attend, I confessed that we attended a Saturday Liturgy at the SPX church in our area. After a long conversation, too long to discuss, out of loyalty to the Church,  he kindly asked me not to attend an SPX Mass, but understood my reasons for wanting to go to a Traditional Mass.  

“They’re good people,” he said.  “But some of the things they say about the Pope….”

“There’s a picture of the Pope on the wall when you walk in,” I added.

Pope Francis?” he asked shockingly.

Yes, I nodded.

“Before I was a priest,” he suggested. “I would often worship with my eyes closed at Mass.”

“I do already,” I added with a smile. “Before you were here, the cantor would start the Lamb of God while people were still shaking hands during the Sign of Peace. I’d close my eye so no one could interrupt me while I focused on the Agnes Dei . One time, a woman in the pew in front of me kept smacking my shoulder while I was praying — just so I would shake her hand.”

We both chuckled and moved on to more kinder and gentler topics, like my wife and my boys.  Out of respect to our pastor, I submitted to his authority and continued to worship at our local parish.

On Father’s Day, ironically, our pastor shockingly announced that he was being transferred to a new parish. We were away that weekend, as we are most weekends in the summer, attending Mass at the parish by our summer camp. 

Without an appointment, I visited him at the Rectory and luckily arrived at a time where he did not have an appointment.

In short, we revisited my original concern — specifically with the Rebuilt program.

“If you ever left, our backup plan was at St. Ann’s,” I said with a chuckle in my voice. 

St. Ann’s is Catholic Church in the rural town where I work. Her pastor was well-known for his orthodoxy and reverence. The altar servers still use patens during the reception of Holy Communion, which is rarely seen today in a Novus Ordo Mass. 

“But,” I added. “They transferred him (St. Ann’s pastor) too.”

Though our out-going had nice things to say about the incoming pastor, he gave me his blessing to move on if we felt the need.

“You have to go where you’re fed,” he said. Of course, he met “go where you are fed” within the Catholic Church.

And that was the answer I was looking for.  That’s the answer we’re all looking for! To be fed!

I felt lost in the Mass in Quebec, not because I did not speak French. It was because it appeared perfunctory. I felt disconnected with the Traditional Mass in L.A., not because I didn’t understand the Latin. I do. It was because it appeared methodical.

Now, I’m not saying all the Masses in Quebec are perfunctory. Nor am I saying all the TLM are methodical. Nor am I saying that all Vietnamese Masses are life-changing.

I am saying that a Mass done correctly is life-changing.

So, how do you know when a Mass is done correctly? Trust me, you’ll know. You’ll feel it and see it. You’ll see all the participants: the priest and the people in the pews, the readers and cantors, all the ushers and musicians reverently partaking in the Supper of the Lamb, fully focused on the Source and Summit of our faith, “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24).

It doesn’t matter what form it’s in. It doesn’t matter what language it is in. It doesn’t matter if it is illicit. All that matters is that the faithful come together with Christ, through the power of the Holy Spirit, as God’s Temple. (1 Cor 3:16)

Being “catholic” does not mean that we worship using the same words and music. On any given day (or from Sunday Mass to Mass in larger parishes) one can go to a Mass in Latin Rite Church, in which I belong, and experience a difference in song or celebration.

The New Order Latin Rite is also divided into an ordinary and extraordinary form. That’s not very universal.

Further, within the Latin Rite, there are some other Latin liturgical traditions, such as the Ambrosian (habitually celebrated in the Archdiocese of Milan), the Mozarabic (celebrated in a more restricted manner in Toledo in Spain), and that of the city of Braga in Portugal which is permitted in that diocese but not widely used. [1] Pope Paul VI celebrated the Ambrosian Rite.

Even in the Traditional Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, which has garnered so much attention lately because of Pope Francis’s Moto Propio “Traditionis Custodus“, one can experience a High Mass or Low Mass.

The list of liturgical differences goes on and on. Change the music and the sense and feel of a Mass changes completely. Just by having a different priest and a different homily, the true universality of the Mass is removed.

In fact, the Catholic Church is comprised of six individual rites and within those rites are 24 sui iuris (self-governing) Churches — all with their own unique traditions and treasures.

“In the liturgy, above all that of the sacraments, there is an immutable part, a part that is divinely instituted and of which the Church is the guardian, and parts that can be changed, which the Church has the power, and on occasion the duty, to adapt to the cultures of recently evangelized peoples.” (CCC 1205)

What makes the Catholic Church truly catholic is not only the immutable part in the rubric of its Masses. What makes the Church truly catholic is the power of the Church to adapt to the cultures of recently evangelized peoples.

People are going to go where they are being fed. We all have cultural and social needs and desires.  Rebuilt works for just as many people as the TLM does.   That’s why “[t]he celebration of the liturgy, therefore, should correspond to the genius and culture of the different peoples. (CCC 1204)

The Catechism states: “In order that the mystery of Christ be ‘made known to all the nations . . . to bring about the obedience of faith,’ (Cf. SC 37-40) it must be proclaimed, celebrated, and lived in all cultures in such a way that they themselves are not abolished by it, but redeemed and fulfilled: It is with and through their own human culture, assumed and transfigured by Christ, that the multitude of God’s children has access to the Father, in order to glorify Him in the one Spirit” (CCC 1204)

The Church has been aware of this for centuries. In 1570, the Church declared “[t]he Sacrifice (of the Mass) is celebrated with many solemn rites and ceremonies, none of which should be deemed useless or superfluous.”

So, why this sudden “desire” by Pope Francis “to press on ever more in the constant search for ecclesial communion”?

It seems to me that the more reverent liturgies we have, the more catholic the Church becomes.  In the end, that’s what truly makes the Church “Catholic”.

Watch Dr. Brant Pitre’s Mystery of the Church.

James Henry is the author of Corporation YOU: A Business Plan for the Soul,  and two children’s books: The Second Prince and Klaus: The Gift-giver to All.   For six years, James taught At-Risk kids in Los Angeles. Today, he lives in New York where he continues to write — and teach. To contact James or book an interview, please contact Mark of Goldman & McCormick PR at (516) 639-0988 or Mark@goldmanmccormick.com.

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