The Catholic Church teaches that: “By sending his only Son and the Spirit of Love in the fullness of time, God has revealed his innermost secret: God himself is an eternal exchange of love, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and he has destined us to share in that exchange” (CCC 221).
Through Christ’s suffering, death and resurrection, our participation in this eternal exchange is possible. Man has been created by love and for love.
Here on earth our lives as Christians consist in the image of Jesus being reproduced in us by means of the love of God that has been shed abroad in our hearts which empowers us to love God and neighbor and in so doing fulfill the law of Christ.
Enter Fr. Ed Broom, O.M.V.
A priest for more than 30 years dedicated to giving the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, Fr. Broom knows well what it takes to live out the Christian faith by following in the footsteps of Jesus.
In his recent book titled From Humdrum to Holy, Fr. Broom has put together a comprehensive yet eminently practical plan of action to grow in holiness and therefore closer to Jesus.
At 24 chapters and a little over 120 pages, it is comprehensive in its scope of topics and short enough to be read in one sitting.
One of the book’s most powerful points is its first chapter which focuses on the question of our existence: “why are we here in this world?“.
Fr. Broom’s answer is St. Ignatius’: “Man is created to praise, reverence, and serve God our Lord, and by this means to save his soul.”
This constitutes a strong foundation that keeps everything in the book firmly grounded in the reality of our daily lives and the choices we make.
Chapters 4 and 17 build on that foundation by reminding us of the importance of self-knowledge and the possibility of falling into mortal sin and dying in that state. Far from being fear-mongering, such exhortations help us not forget that our choices have eternal consequences and that this life is an arena of combat in which a lot is at stake.
Take heart and step into the fray
The remaining chapters present us with a rich treasure trove of steps and actions we can take to start living holy lives and walk more closely with our Lord.
Everything from morning prayer to daily Scripture reading, spiritual reading, learning about the Faith, daily examination of conscience, prayers of dedication to the Blessed Virgin Mary, invocation of angels and saints, more frequent reception of the sacraments with adequate preparation and many others are presented so they can be immediately applied in your life.
In sum, Fr. Broom has provided us with a fine resource we can constantly go back to for encouragement and sound advice on how we can better live the fundamental vocation of all Christians; the universal call to holiness. It is my hope and prayer that this book will strengthen your resolve and furnish you with the tools and means to do the will of our Father in heaven.
This post is by Jesus Florez, a Proven Catholic apologist.
In St. John’s Gospel, Jesus declared He would draw all men to Himself. He also affirmed that there would be one flock and one shepherd.
This is a clear indication that our Lord Jesus intended unity to characterize the new people He would gather around Himself. The early Christians were clearly aware of this. St. Ignatius of Antioch wrote in the early second century to St. Polycarp “let unity, the greatest good of all goods, be your preoccupation”.
Ut Unum Sint
According to Scripture and Tradition, the Catholic Church believes that the unity Christ willed for the new people of God is one of a common faith, worship, and government: doctrine, liturgy, Magisterium.
Throughout the centuries there have been many heresies and schisms that have threatened to sever these bonds. In our present time, we experience the great divisions among Christians precisely over matters of faith, worship and government. The rampant fragmentation among Protestant Christian communities is only one example of how deep these divisions run and how serious they are.
Be Reconciled to Your Brother
We seek the reconciliation of all Christians in accordance with the will of our Lord and the means He provided for the continual transmission of the Christian faith. Among other things this means communion with the successor of St. Peter, the bishop of Rome, whom Jesus Christ our Lord established as His vicar on earth and the principium unitatis, the principle of unity, among believers.
In 2016 Pope Francis met with several Protestant pastors from different denominations and traditions in an effort to promote ecumenical dialogue and foster collaboration among fellow Christians. One of them was Kris Vallotton, Senior Associate Leader of Bethel Church in Redding, CA.
After meeting with Pope Francis, he proceeded to write an article and preach a sermon (iTunes podcast link) to his congregation in which he talked about unity among believers. I’ll comment briefly on three points I believe to be praiseworthy and then I’ll complement with additional reflections and considerations.
A Path to Reconciliation
When Pastor Kris met with Pope Francis he was very pleasantly surprised by his gentle demeanor and remarked during his sermon that he was convinced the Pope was filled with the Holy Spirit.
He also led a prayer for the Pope as part of his preaching. As a Catholic, it’s very encouraging to see this from a Protestant pastor who influences many people. It’s a clear sign that he has the right disposition of heart in order to make ecumenical dialogue possible. I applaud this as a Catholic and see it as an exhortation for all of us to do the same.
Towards the beginning of his sermon, Pastor Kris made the interesting observation that the first Christians didn’t have a New Testament, let alone the whole Bible. He also commented on how important it was to have a personal encounter with Jesus Christ. We wholeheartedly agree with Pastor Kris on the importance of a personal relationship with Christ. The Church enjoins us to approach Jesus in constant and fervent prayer and to hear His voice by frequent and prayerful reading of the Holy Scriptures.
Having said all this, realizing that the New Testament Scriptures didn’t exist as a unified canon for centuries and mentioning this during a sermon calls into question the Sola Scriptura paradigm whereby the Scriptures function as the formal principle of theology and the formally sufficient rule of faith without the need of a divinely appointed teaching authority.
We would encourage anyone that has become aware of this fact to continue to explore how in light of this millions of people, most of whom were illiterate, came to faith in Jesus and flourished in their relationship with Him.
Come, Holy Spirit
During the last portion of his sermon, Pastor Kris talked at length about the role of the Holy Spirit and how through it we can become part of the mind of Christ and achieve unity even if disagreement remains concerning doctrine and church government.
We readily agree with Pastor Kris in acknowledging the crucial role the Holy Spirit plays in the economy of salvation and God’s designs. One needs to look no further than St. John Paul II’s encyclical “Dominum et vivificantem“. However, we would balk at the idea of achieving unity while jettisoning unity of faith and government.
We would encourage people to explore the possibility that the gifts and operations of the Holy Spirit are not only personal and experiential but also hierarchical and communal.
For example, we believe that by a special gift (or charism) of the Holy Spirit the Roman pontiff is protected from error in declaring a point of faith or morals to be definitively held by all the faithful. We also believe that this gift is passed on by means of material succession within the context of the family of God.
Looking to Jesus, the Pioneer and Perfecter of Our Faith
Before His Passion, our Lord Jesus Christ prayed for the Church. Since it is Him doing so, we believe that His prayer is infallibly effective, and therefore there will always be only one true Church of Jesus Christ.
We confess, in the words of Blessed Paul VI, that “the Church founded by Jesus Christ and for which he prayed is indefectibly one in faith, in worship and in the bond of hierarchical communion” (Paul VI, Creed of the People of God, 21).
We earnestly pray so that all who confess Jesus as Lord and Savior work together to overcome division and return to the one household of God, the Church of the living God, so that the world may believe that the Father has sent His Son to unite all things in Him.
Lord Jesus, hear our prayer!
About the Author
This post is by Jesus Florez. Here’s Jesus in his own words:
I’m a Proven Catholic apologist thanks to the efforts and expertise of our friend and mentor, Devin Rose.
I now share his mission to equip Catholics to defend their faith and help Protestants consider the claims of the Catholic Church.
I’m originally from Colombia in South America and grew up Catholic but lukewarm at best. At age 18, I joined a Catholic Charismatic community that helped me have a deeper and more personal relationship with our Lord Jesus. Since moving to the United States in 2015, I became very interested in apologetics and in 2016 I participated in Devin Rose’s Proven Catholic apologist course as a beta tester and earned my certificate soon after.
I work full time as a receptionist at a local nursing home and in my free time I enjoy reading about our faith and spending time with my wife.
I just listened to an excellent talk on Catholic courtship by Fr. Ripperger:
Every Catholic parent should listen to it and seek to understand it, and every young adult Catholic should as well. It could save you a lifetime of heartache!
Here’s a recap of what Fr. Ripperger talks about and how my wife Catherine and I courted.
Preparing for Courtship
Courtship has a negative connotation for many nowadays, being associated with antiquated and even harmful practices. But any such excesses or wrong-headed notions are not inherent in courtship itself.
Courtship is a means to a specific end: marriage.
Courtship vs. dating: dating, especially in our society, is largely recreational. Even if two people think that perhaps one day they may get married, dating does not entail marriage is even a goal or purpose for a couple.
Courtship however is not recreational. It is asking a specific question: does this person have sufficient virtue to be a good spouse for me?
Virtue, another word that has a bad connotation for many, is a set of good habits. They tell you how another person will most likely act. Will this person be able to share a life in common, rear children wisely, and be willing to do the duties of their state in life as husband and father or wife and mother?
From the natural law: the primary function of the husband and father is to protect the honor/virtue of his wife and daughters. So the father makes the final judgment about whether a young man is honorable and will be virtuous with his daughter.
Given that background, let’s get into the four stages of courtship.
Catholic Courtship Stage 1: Friendship
Any courtship first begins with friendship. Each gets to know the other as friends, without any romantic pursuits.
Recall that love is willing the good of another. “Love at first sight” is therefore meaningless. You do not know a man’s moral character on the first date.
Consider the prevalence of pornography and lust in our world, even among Catholic men. Women need to ask themselves whether the man is capable of love, or whether he is a slave to lust. Many women, including Catholic women, don’t even imagine that a Catholic man could struggle with lust, but the numbers indicate that they should be expecting it. (For Catholic men struggling with lust, check out my video course here.)
Mutual love at this friendship stage is based on virtue. Interactions should be done in public settings to see if person has virtue. Also, there should be no physical affection at this stage, so each person can have clarity of judgment.
If they do have sufficient virtue, and they judge each other’s personalities are sufficiently matched, they can go to next stage.
My wife and I began our friendship online, through a Catholic singles site. We then met in person for the first time, as friends, and got to spend time together. We became friends through phone calls, emails, and written correspondence, but it was only after meeting in person that we were able to really determine whether we were a good match for each other.
Stage 2: Courtship
The hallmark of the courtship stage is the beginning of exclusivity. There’s a recognition that you are considering each other for marriage in an exclusive way. Again, contrast that with modern secular dating where you might date four people at a time.
Before entering this stage, the young man should ask permission from the young woman’s father if he can court her. Now, this might seem antiquated and ridiculous, but I can attest the wisdom behind it. I asked Catherine’s father for his permission to court her. He laughed and couldn’t believe I was asking him. But I wanted to receive his approval, even if he didn’t realize it was his duty to give it.
Also during this stage, you should get to know each other’s family as well. These will be your in-laws, your brothers-in-law, etc. and you will see the environment in which your girlfriend grew up.
The principal function of this stage is self-denial: spend more time together to understand more deeply if the person is virtuous and would be a good match. Note the recurring theme here! Marriage without virtue is miserable. Better to know now then walk in blindly and pay the consequences.
Also, it may come as a surprise that there should be no physical affection in this stage either: it causes bonding to occur to various degrees, and that emotional bond can confuse wise decision-making. Since you are not fully commited to one another, if the courtship is broken off, those emotional bonds can cause great pain, so it is unjust to commit more with your body than you have in your heart.
The young man is looking to see whether the young woman can and will submit to his headship in marriage. She is looking for love: is he self-sacrificing? Is he capable and willing to suffer for her and for their children one day?
This period can last 3 – 6 months.
My wife and I entered courtship and it lasted for four months. We were still living in different states so every month I flew out to her city or flew her out to mine and we spent extended periods together. I saw in her a virtuous young woman, serious about prayer and following Christ through His Church.
Stage 3: Betrothal
Betrothal is often thought of as engagement in our modern culture.
But in older times, society didn’t consider a pair engaged until the betrothal. The young man needs to ask her father for permission to marry his daughter; and only after receiving that approval can he ask young woman for her hand.
If she says yes, now they go to priest for the rite of betrothal. This rite is a series of promises that says “yes I intend to marry you.” Most Catholics have no idea that such a rite exists.
Catherine and I, without any sort of guidance for a priest or other who knew about this, stumbled upon the existence of the rite and asked the priest to do it for us after we got engaged. The priest didn’t know what we were talking about but went ahead with it anyway.
Physical affection can begin during this stage, prudently, as only for grave reasons should a betrothal be broken. Of course, that physical affection should be done chastely and without breaking the commandments.
The couple also should be praying together seriously. They should not be alone together, as the young man needs to protect her honor and reputation.
Principal thing to look for in this stage: can he moderate himself in a relationship with me, and vice-versa? This stage is an opportunity to grow in virtue even more deeply.
Stage 4: Marriage
This stage is self-explanatory as it is the end of the courtship. By now the couple has discerned that they are a good match for each other, that they are marrying someone who will love them and live virtuously.
That doesn’t mean perfectly or without even erring or commiting a sin. But it does mean that they have a confident assurance that the other wills what is best for them and is willing to self-sacrifice for their good and the good of their future children.
Even going through all this, both persons are human. Both have faults and blind spots and weaknesses and areas of improvement. In our cases, I grew up in an atheist family and my wife grew up in a family with some particular challenges. These rear their head during marriage; it doesn’t mean they are insuperable but all the more reason that virtue is needed.
So, Catholic husbands and fathers: are you willing to step up and fulfill your role to help your daughter marry a virtuous man?