Meditation is an ideal way to pray. Using God's word (Lectio Divina) allows me to hear, listen and reflect on what the Lord wants to say to me - to one of his disciples - just like He did two thousand years ago.
The best time to reflect is at the beginning of the day and for at least 15 to 30 minutes.
Prior to going to sleep, read the Mass readings for the next day and then, in the morning, reflect on the Meditation offered on this website.
I hope these daily meditations allow you to know, love and imitate the Lord in a more meaningful way.
God bless you!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Luke 8: 4-15 Fuming All Over!

Luke 8: 4-15  Fuming All Over!
When a large crowd gathered, with people from one town after another journeying to Jesus, he spoke in a parable. “A sower went out to sow his seed.  And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path and was trampled, and the birds of the sky ate it up…And some seed fell on good soil, and when it grew, it produced fruit a hundred-fold…”
There still exists some bitter arguing among Protestants and Catholics regarding Martin Luther’s theological “dogma” known as Sola fides (faith alone).  But there is a new “dogma” out there which is far more dangerous and worse in scope and has failed to catch the attention of most Christian pastors and priests.  It is a doctrine that is very seductive and can suck the life out of any Christian at any given moment.  This dogma is spreading like wildfire and has become prevalent in nearly every single Christian denomination.  It is the dogma I affectionately call:  Affectus solum.  That is, “Feelings alone”. 
A person whose faith rests almost entirely on feelings is a faith that is dead, or soon to be dead.  Like faith without works is dead, so to faith with just feelings is dead!  People who have succumbed to this dogma (or deadly virus) tend towards hallucinations and say: “I am not religious.  I am spiritual.”
There was a man who threw some seed on rocky ground, and when it grew, it withered for lack of moisture.  Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew with it and choked it. 
These poor seeds never had a chance to survive because they never had fertile ground to take root in.  They died the moment they hit the rocky or bumpy or thorny ground.  And just like a seed cannot survive without water and fertile ground; faith in God cannot survive without prayer and knowledge of God.
If Christ’s love for us was based solely on feelings, He would have thrown in the towel long before He ever picked up His Cross.  If Christ’s love for His father was based solely on feelings, He would have thrown the Cup of Sacrifice smack in His father’s face!
Don’t we know that by now?  Haven’t we had enough of the rollercoaster rides?  Haven’t we had enough of feeling great about God one moment and then accusing Him of not caring the next?  Haven’t we seen the sad results of wishy-washy sentimental love?  It plays out all the time among our most fervent yet superficial converts.  It plays out among our dearest charismatic friends and families.  It plays out among our retreatants and Medjugorje pilgrims.  It plays out among our dearest stars (Kristen Stewart comes to mind). 
Does a bride merry her spouse out of feelings of love or out of a deep knowledge of her spouse?  If it is out of feelings, then we know how long that will last; as long as a feeling lasts.  Not long at all.
Why do we place so much of our trust, hope and love in feelings rather than in real and concrete faith? 
The headline read:  “From Bible-Belt Pastor to Atheist Leader”.    I read the New York Times article with some interest.  It appears as though there are a growing number of atheists coming out from under their Protestant robes.  The man featured in the article is the former Reverend Jerry DeWitt.  I took some notes while I read the incredibly long article dedicated to religion.  What I found were few surprises.  I added some of my own notes while I read.
DeWitt is a descendent of a long line of preachers on both sides of the family [Thank God for chastity!].  His grandfather established 16 churches by himself [Church making is considered an excellent franchise in the Bible-belt].  At the age of 17 he was “saved” [Uh oh, I thought it was ‘once saved, always saved] by Jimmy Swaggart [That might explains it!].  Weeks later he was speaking in tongues [Now wait a minute…it would be interesting if he claims that was real and it would be revealing if he claims it was a hoax.  If it was real, then how could he be an atheist today?].
One day, while sitting in church, he heard his pastor call on him to deliver a homily [I should try that one day, but this sounds as real as a ‘reality’ show].  He says he spoke and the “crowd” loved it! [Yep!  Sounds fake to me].  He said, “I knew right then that preaching was what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.”  [Wow!  One sermon and he found his vocation.  That’s an easy way of convincing someone they can be a motivational speaker.  But chastity, poverty and obedience are the ways to find out if someone is being authentically called by God!  After all, where does one find their cross to carry?  Among your fan club?  Within the crowd worshipping you?].
DeWitt preached across the South, although he never received a college degree [What???].  In 2004, he became a full-time pastor at a church near DeRitter [Are you kidding me?]. 
After reading this nine-page article, I was no longer interested in knowing why DeWitt became an atheist.  Rather, I was much more interested in knowing how he survived being a Christian pastor for so long.  After all, it sounds like everything he did; he did it on his own!  Maybe he did it more for himself than for anyone else. 
A Pastor who runs on feelings for so long will eventually end up fuming mad!  And that’s exactly what happened. 
But how can someone, who never went to college and never got a degree (which really means he never received a deep appreciation for the faith of our fathers or a systematic understanding of Christianity).  What did he spend half his life giving to others?  No wonder why a good hearted and sentimental man now claims to be a recovering Christian. 
May our faith in you, O Lord, take root in our hearts, minds and bodies, so that the knowledge of your Son, and not our own desires, may always prevail in us.  We ask this through Christ our Lord.  Amen.


  1. "Fuming all over" Yeah, I'm a little "fuming" after reading this post. Seriously, Father Alfonse, are you saying we shouldn't have ANY feelings in regards to our faith? Feelings are part of our humanity. Are we all supposed to take a Lithium pill and block out any "feelings" that may interrupt our Catholic faith? I have a gentleman friend who considers himself "spiritual". He is warm, kind, and incredibly loving. He may not be a Catholic but he does believe in God! "Faith without works" may be dead but I think faith without feelings is just as deadly. I can understand the wishy-washy nature of our faith is wrong. But, darn gone it, we can't just push aside feelings like they are a burden. Can't REAL and concrete faith also embody feelings or are we supposed to go around like robots with no sentimentality whatsoever?

    I apologize for expressing my "feelings" but this post really rubs me wrong. Of course, I'm probably totally "missing the point."


  2. Fr. Alfonse, you are so right about the feelings. When I have to make a decision I put my feelings aside and always try to think what is good and what is holy and act according to that. Not by what I feel like. Beautiful meditation.

  3. Feelings are ephemeral. They surface and then they subside. They are the very epitome of transience. Now, place this idea next to the church, house of the eternal, the unchanging. Feelings are in the Catholic church, but we sometimes don't recognize them because they take place on a much larger scale than in our capricious selves. To deride a spirituality based on feelings does not denigrate feelings, nor does it drain faith of its passion. It means that faith is more than feeling; it's a holy gift of God.

    Often, our faith brings us feelings of comfort, or else feelings of inspiration, or else feelings of sorrow. If we were to feel joyful and call it faith like the ex-preacher, we bring faith down, along with the feeling of joy. The joy misled us, and the false "faith" tied to the joy seems more like a delusion than the real thing.

    My experience suggests that true Catholics feel very deeply. The presence of the Eucharist gives them a tingle; the conversion of a convert makes them weep with joy; the coming of adversity bring out a remarkable equanimity. These feelings are more than just reactions; they're miraculous. Catholics honor these feelings by honoring the source. Unfortunately, some non-Catholics honor these feelings by regarding them as the source. What necessarily follows is a faith that has no foundation, but comes and goes with a person's mood. When a person's religion is reduced to that, it's no surprise that they think it's ridiculous and reject religion altogether.

  4. Jennifer - Are you familiar with Mother Teresa's story? (Book- "Come Be My Light") For 50 long, hard years she lived out her vocation basically without feeling the presence of God and questioned whether or not she had faith. She lacked "feelings". I believe what Father is saying, (correct me, Father, if I am wrong) although feelings are fantastic, we can't rely on them because very often when we don't feel Christ, we are overwhelmed with many questions about the existence of God. Then the longing turns to doubt, and we lose our faith all together. It's hanging on to our faith during those times which is so difficult and where perseverance comes in. I lived that dryness for many years myself, and its difficult to say the least.

    2 Timothy 4:7 says: I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith.

    We are in the endurance race of our lives, feeling Him along with us or not.......


  5. Feelings come and go! Personally, if I react to how I feel everytime. I probably has ton of divorce already. Thank You Lord.

  6. Jesus never went to college either.
    Your faith is your voluntary self-lobotomy. You don't need to think tor yourself, you have dogmas for that.

    Faith is not necessary in any endeavor that has evidence. Your faith is your prison. Read the bible cover to cover and then ask yourself.... Do I think I am reading the inspired words of the smartest, holiest, most loving being to ever exist?

    My own morality is a much better guide than the bible.

  7. Jesus never went to college either.

    Faith is only required if one wishes to believe extraordinary claims without evidence. Typically, adults grow out of these beliefs if it is not hammered into their heads that faith is virtue and doubt is sin. No adults believe in Santa Claus because we don't insist that they have post their way when they start to question it.

    1. For people who short change faith or say their morality is better than the Bible are showing they don't understand that God our Creator is so much more than we can imagine. Faith like life is a gift. We choose what we do with that gift. If we deny it we deny any aspect of our creation. Do you think creation is a fluke? Just because you don't understand it does not mean we don't exist. God gave us the ability to recognize God's existence through our brain and our faith. If your morality is better than the Bible where does your concept of treating others well derive?

  8. John, do I hear anti Christian/Catholic thoughts in your posts? Perhaps you're coming from an agnostic point of view? I don't think I could ever compare faith to a lobotomy. Faith is a gift and is something we must ask for. Jesus tells us more than once to have a child-like faith. I can see why, because as adults we tend to over think everything. The Bible may be inspired by God, however it had to be presented in a language that humans can understand, so what more are you looking to hear from Him? He sent his Son Jesus who told us everything we need to hear. Not everything can be explained, and my thought is we will not understand even a fraction of what He wants us to know, until we meet Him. The church gives us dogmas, because without them, anything goes, as seems to be the case with our secular culture worldwide.

    If you've never felt the Holy Spirit before, you can't imagine what people are talking about. If I'm unfortunate to never feel Him again, I have my memories and my a faith to carry me to my end of days. But to feel Him engulf my whole body, or to have the tears come suddenly before I receive Him in the Eucharist are experiences hard to describe. I have been extremely blessed to have witnessed a miracle first hand. No one will ever convince me that God doesn't exist. But if you don't believe in God, all this is just ringing in your ears anyway. Right?

  9. "Faith is not necessary in any endeavor that has evidence." John Prophet's comment

    Consider that there are scientists, philosophers, physicists who acknowledge their disciplines are indeed faith-based. For example, research is pursued using data, papers and standards prepared by others or using instruments with the presumption that the measured is measurable. Even "evidence" in its rawest form is not necessarily bounded between absolutes. Has anyone seen an isolated quark? Faith in colleagues, faith in discipline standards, faith that the examined is examinable, faith in the evidence fills these gaps. Faith saturates all our lives: it is necessary in all our endeavors.

    Personally, my faith in Christ sets me free.

  10. It took me a while to comprehend the 'feeling' of sentimental love vs love as a sacrifice. Until I had enough life experiences to be able to feel the difference, it was incomprehensible to clearly define. That doesn’t mean that I no longer feel sentimental love. I surprisingly find it more than I ever thought possible!!! But now that I know the difference, the only way to be honest with both truths is to struggle internally. So, I wonder why God gave us sentimental love…. You know He has a reason for everything, everything! A person marries out of feelings of love and deep knowledge of the other person, not one or the other. ‘Why do we place so much of our trust, hope and love in feelings rather than in real and concrete faith?’ As you said before, faith by its very definition requires doubt, even if it is real and concrete. If we go to the next level of faith, it is no longer faith, it knows!! Love as a feeling doesn’t doubt. You know when you are in love. The struggle still remains.
    I understand your point: only feelings but no faith. Now that's one side of the pendulum. But I look at the other side of this swing: when you have enough life experiences of God (through your faith) that you no longer require faith or feelings.... you just know. It think that's called Paradise.


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