By Lenora Grimaud

Advent is a time of waiting—waiting in joyful anticipation of the coming of the Lord. It calls us to wake up from our sleep and to pray—to wake up from our preoccupation with the world and ourselves—to focus on the real meaning of life and the hope that awaits us. When we think of “waiting and praying” it might seem to represent passivity, solitude, idleness—doing nothing—just sitting and waiting for the Lord to come. However, Advent is actually the busiest season of the year. It is the most joyful season and at the same time, the most stressful season of the year.

Advent is also a time of preparation—a time for bringing things to completion, as well as preparing for a new beginning. It is a time of preparing for a Feast—a special celebration. When two people are preparing for their wedding day, the happiest day of their lives, the preparations for that day are almost enough to make them throw in the towel before the great day arrives. This is often how we feel about Christmas. We endure so much stress that we begin to wish it was over and done with, or that it didn’t exist at all. However, even more important than preparing for a celebration, Advent is about preparing the “way of the Lord”—preparing our hearts to receive him, through repentance and reconciliation with God and others—especially family. Jesus didn’t come into the world as an orphan, but as a member of a family. Christmas is about family becoming family—becoming a holy family. It’s about families coming together in love and thanksgiving, and giving birth to “God-with-us”—Emmanuel. The Church is also a family—a family of families—that begins in the home. The greatest gift we can give one another is Jesus, the gift of love.

Advent challenges us to balance many contrasts in our lives, to allow them to work together and to complement each other. Christmas represents “peace on earth and good will to all humankind.” We are challenged to allow the lion and the lamb to lie down together (ISA. 11:6)—to allow strength and weakness to go hand in hand.

Advent challenges us to balance work and leisure, giving and receiving, structure and spontaneity, responsibility and freedom, relationship and solitude, and our own personal strengths and weaknesses. We are challenged to work as though we were being entertained and to make our entertainments an act of love and giving to others. We are challenged to receive while giving and to give while receiving, to put our heart and soul into both giving and receiving. We are challenged to be spontaneous in the midst of planning and the structures that bind us; to make proper use of our time while being open to the unexpected; to prepare and plan while going with the flow. We are challenged to freely accept and fulfill our responsibilities, as well as to use our freedom responsibly. We are challenged to bring God into our relationships and time with others, and to bring others into our solitude and prayer with God. We are challenged to make our hearts a “cloister” and to go within in the midst of noise, busyness, work, and social gatherings. In our solitude, we are challenged to let go of all the stress, worries, plans, work, busyness, people, places, and things, and give them all to the Lord in prayer. We are challenged to be both, gentle and firm with ourselves; to accept the things we cannot change and to have the courage to change the things we can. We are challenged to acknowledge our strengths with humility and to use them with confidence.

Advent challenges us to be both, “Martha and Mary”—to be contemplative and active. It challenges us to pray while working and work at praying; to make prayer an act of love. Martha and Mary, two sisters, were close friends of Jesus. Martha was a worker and Mary was a contemplative. Mary reminds us that we need to be present to Jesus and to others. She reminds us that we need to “be still and listen.” She also reminds us that we spend a lot of time and energy doing many things that are unnecessary and superficial. She reminds us of what is really important for us and the world. Martha reminds us that it is not enough to sit and listen, we must also respond. She reminds us that love is active and we need to find ways to manifest our love to God and others. First and foremost, this includes the ordinary duties and obligations of our state in life—to family, friends, Church, and community.

Exactly how we cope with all the ambiguity, and how we balance all these contrasts is different for each person, and depends on grace from God. Lord, give us the grace to balance all the contrasts and ambiguity that we experience in life. Help us to live the Advent Season throughout our lives; to experience the incarnation of Jesus and celebrate Christmas all year round, in freedom and joy.


Dear sweet Jesus, as I contemplate the lowliness of your birth in that humble stable, I am reminded that you are the King of Kings, the Lord and Master of all humankind; Lord of heaven and earth. You are above all humans, and the greatest of all humans; you are God. For such great majesty, you should have had the most magnificent of temples in which to be born into this world, in which to grow into manhood; a temple more glorious than the temple built by Solomon. And yet, Lord, my King, you chose to humble yourself, to be born in the lowest of dwellings. You chose a temple fit only for animals, a common stable.

What do you mean to teach us through your Incarnation, Lord? Is it that there is no soul in all of creation that is too poor, too lowly, that you would not come to make it your temple, your place of birth? Or even more to the point, are you trying to tell us that you choose to be born, only, in those souls who make themselves poor in spirit; those who are truly humble, who consider themselves unworthy of such a noble guest; those who would be truly honored at your coming, such as a poor peasant who opens his door to find his King asking for a drink of water?

Oh Lord, you so deserve holy souls to be your place of birth, but there is not one good human, one truly holy soul amongst all mankind, except for your holy mother, Mary. Our souls are like that stable, a dwelling place for animals. Yet, you chose to be born in the hearts of sinners, in hearts who worshiped idols, the golden calf, instead of God. You came to transform these humble stables into a glorious temple of the living God, by your presence. You, Jesus, are our holiness, and by your presence, you make us holy. Oh, my good and wonderful God, like Mary and Joseph who took shelter in a stable where the blessed Mother came to give birth to Jesus, the Holy Trinity takes shelter in this humble soul of ours, and Jesus, the Son of God, is born of the Holy Spirit, while the Father stands by in holy expectation.

The stable becomes the temple, where the Son of God is presented to the Father. The temple becomes the carpenter shop, where the “Son of Man” grows in wisdom, in stature, and in favor with God and men. The carpenter shop becomes the desert where the Son of God is prepared for his ministry. The desert becomes the tomb, where Jesus is prepared for resurrection. The tomb becomes the Kingdom of God, the resurrected life. Lord, you chose to come into these stables that we might come into your Kingdom. All praise and thanksgiving to God the Almighty, for his merciful and bountiful love!


Oh, my God, when I come before you in prayer, I shall think of the Nativity. I shall see my soul as that humble stable in Bethlehem. Within dwells the Holy Trinity. Mary shall symbolize for me, the Holy Spirit revealing your love for your Church, as a Mother for her babe in arms. Joseph shall symbolize for me, the Father revealing his paternal love; a model of strength and courage, watching over his family as a loving protector. I shall see the love of a husband for his wife, as well as a mother and father for their son.

Sometimes, I shall be as the shepherds looking on in silent adoration, with no gifts of my own to offer except praise and thanksgiving. As I gaze upon the Nativity, I shall see all of the Trinity, but my eyes shall be centered upon the Christ Child, the Son of God, the King of Kings. As I praise Jesus, the Son, I shall also be praising the Father and the Holy Spirit, just as Mary and Joseph rejoiced in the adoration and praise of Jesus, their beloved son. In the vast host of heaven who came down to sing praises to God at the birth of the Christ Child, I shall see all the Saints. I shall be in communion with them as my praises are joined with theirs.

At other times, I shall be as the Magi, bearing gifts and bowing down in adoration. I shall offer gifts of all my possessions, all my love, all my faith, and all my hope. I shall present these gifts in the name of the Son. Even so, the Father and the Holy Spirit shall share in the receiving of these gifts, as well as Joseph and Mary. I shall offer my gifts to God in behalf of Jesus. May all the families of the earth be reborn in the image of the Holy Family of the Nativity.



By Lenora Grimaud

There are many rooms in my Father’s house;
if there were not, I should have told you. John 14:2

As I reflect on “Our Father’s House,” I am also reminded of St. Teresa’s book, “The Interior Castle.” She describes this castle as having seven rooms. Each room corresponds with the state of being of those who dwell in that room, in regards to their relationship with God—the degree of their union with God. Her book is primarily about mystical prayer; degrees of contemplation and prayer. Those who dwell in the Seventh Mansion, are holy and purified. Teresa’s Castle is an Interior Castle within every soul. My reflection on Our Father’s House is about an Exterior Castle that encompasses all of creation—the whole earth and the material world.

I see this mansion as having many, many rooms, and outer court yards. The whole estate is protected by a wall all around it. Each room has a different degree of light; the rooms closest to the center of the mansion—closest to the Holy Trinity—have the most light; the fullness of light. Outside the walls, there is complete darkness and a great multitude of evil spirits. Each room is occupied by a mixture of many people—Catholics, Protestants, Non-Christians, and even Agnostics. Those who dwell in the outer courtyards are mostly Atheists. They only receive the light that radiates out from the Mansion. This is not necessarily their fault, but due to the place that was prepared for them by the providence of God. There are also inhabitants in the outer courts who are called to be Sentries—to alert the household in case of invasion of hostile enemies. They have a special kind of light that enables them to move back and forth, from the courtyard to the inner rooms. They have “eyes to see,” a great gift of discernment of spirits. The Atheists see the intruders, as well, but have no spiritual discernment, and so they are quick to befriend everyone.

Every room in this great mansion has a purpose, and is significant—a necessary part of God’s plan and purpose for creation. Within every room, there are good people and bad, saints and sinners, even though some rooms have more light than others. No one is better or more worthy than anyone else, regardless of what room they occupy. The dwelling place for each person is according to God’s will and plan; it is not dependent on a person’s holiness, goodness, or worth. It is the providence of God that has prepared a room for every person to occupy. (Each one of us, however, has been given his own share of grace, given as Christ allotted it. Eph. 4:7). Every room has a different measure of grace that is given to the inhabitants, and corresponds with what they are able to receive. The light within each of the rooms represents the gifts of the Holy Spirit. It is not a reward for personal sanctity or holiness. It is given for the common good of all the inhabitants. Those who dwell in the inner-most rooms have the opportunity for a personal relationship with the Holy Trinity. The Trinity is revealed to them because they live so close to the center. Those who respond to that inner call, call God, “Abba Father.” They are a prophetic voice and light, sent out in the name of Jesus, for the whole Mansion. These are all the Saints, who have been transformed through their union with God. They have more light than those who occupy the other rooms, and are able to enlighten all the others. Not everyone in the inner chamber, responds to the opportunity that is given to them, however. Not everyone accepts the invitation to enter into a personal relationship with the Holy Trinity. Not everyone is sanctified and transformed into the image of Christ, by the Holy Spirit.

God is not limited to the Holy of Holies. God is present throughout the whole Mansion, the outer courtyard, and even beyond the outer walls. But, he is not visible everywhere. Not everyone has the light to perceive the presence of God, or to know him. God meets every person right where they are at, in whatever room they dwell in. When they receive the grace given to them, God can choose to move them from room to room, or leave them in the same room, according to his divine plan. Those who do not respond to grace become rigid, fixed in place, and unable to grow. They turn to stone.

I see cracks within the surrounding walls of the Mansion. Darkness and evil spirits, are seeping into the outer courts, and even into some of the rooms within the Mansion, attacking the inhabitants of those dwelling places.

Evil is not limited to the outer rooms. Evil spirits who are disguised as “Angels of light” can infiltrate all of the rooms. However, the inhabitants of those rooms that are closest to the Trinity have the discernment needed to distinguish between good and evil. Nevertheless, there are people who dwell in the outer courts and outer rooms who are holier than some who dwell in the inner rooms, even though they do not have as much light. This is because they love more and respond to the grace that they receive. They remain in union with God through their will to love and to do good. Although they do not see, they believe. They may become victims or prisoners of the evil spirits and powers, but their will remains free. They can be deceived, but they will to love. If they sin, they are less culpable than those who have more light. On the other hand, there are some who dwell in the inner chambers who have little love and gratitude, even though they have been given much. They refuse to leave their room—to go out to others in order to heal, deliver, enlighten, and to rebuild the walls. They refuse the invitation to a personal relationship with the Holy Trinity because they are too enamored with their own self.

Christians in the inner rooms are called to deliver and repair, not to tear down and destroy all the other rooms and its inhabitants. They may have to tear down some of the outer walls in order to rebuild it, but they must rely on the authority and guidance of the “Master Builder” to do it. These Christians are not called to judge those who dwell in other rooms, only to enlighten—with love. They are called to heal those who want to be healed. They are called to deliver only those who ask for it, or those whom God tells them to deliver. Their authority and power comes from God, alone. They are called to “repair the breach”—to rebuild the walls. They are called to cast out the evil spirits and dispel the darkness with their light. Those in the inner room, closest to the Holy of Holies, are called to be a leaven throughout the whole estate—not to bring everyone into the inner room—only God can do that.

The Holy of Holies is the doorway into the Kingdom of God on earth. Those who dwell in this inner sanctuary are not there because they deserve to be there, or because they have earned the right to be there. They are not there because they are better than those who dwell in other rooms, or because they are more loved by God. They are there because God chose them for a mission—to establish the Kingdom of God throughout all the earth. Those who inhabit this room are called to take the Kingdom of God into all the other rooms. They are called to union with the Holy Trinity, and to take the Trinity into all the other rooms with them; to take the Eucharist into all the other rooms; to take the light from the Holy of Holies into all the other rooms; to bring everyone in Our Father’s House into a personal relationship with God—right where they are at. They are called to reflect the light—to go out into all the rooms and courtyard—to heal and enlighten all the inhabitants throughout Our Father’s House, and the courtyard.



By Lenora Grimaud

Recently, I received an email from a very angry and hurt Religious Leader of a Gay Community, accusing all those who supported Prop. 8, in California, of “promoting discrimination.” This has prompted me to reflect on why I supported Prop. 8. It appears to me that there is a very narrow and exclusive interpretation of the word, “discrimination,” today. This has filtered down from minority groups who claim that their rights come first, and anything that violates their rights is bigotry—regardless of whether their rights violate the rights of others. Before we can answer the question WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO “PROMOTE DISCRIMINATION?” we should have a clear understanding of what the word discriminate really means. Webster defines it as:

Discriminate 1 a: to mark or perceive the distinguishing or peculiar features of b: DISTINGUISH, DIFFERENTIATE 2: to distinguish by discerning or exposing differences; to distinguish from another like object; to make a distinction; to use good judgment.

Discrimination 1 a: the act of discriminating b: the process by which two stimuli differing in some aspect are responded to differently 2: the quality or power of finely distinguishing 3 a: the act, practice, or an instance of discriminating categorically rather than individually b: prejudice or prejudicial outlook, action, or treatment. Syn see DISCERNMENT.

Many religious people are accused of “promoting discrimination,” in the terms of prejudice and bigotry, when they are only attempting to use discernment and good judgment. A country without discernment or right judgment is headed for ruin. Religious freedom has always been a part of the Constitution of the U.S. “Gay Rights” does not include the right to violate the religious freedom of others. It does not include the right to impose their biases on others—through our laws, government, educational systems, healthcare, and religious institutions, by calling all those who disagree with them, “bigots.” This is a rash and prejudicial judgment.

Good discernment enables us to pass “just laws.” In America, there is an age limit for those who want to get married. We do not allow adults to marry children. We do not allow marriage between close relatives—we do not allow incest. We do not allow polygamy. Marriage has always been an institution that is inclusive of family—an act of total self-giving of both spouses to each other, resulting in the gift of new life—children; the family. Marriage has to be “consummated,” through natural intercourse, in order to be a valid marriage. This interpretation rules out marriage between adults and children, humans and animals, and same-sex couples. We use discernment and right judgment to pass laws that will protect the sanctity of Marriage and Family Life. Without discernment and right judgment, anything goes; it wouldn’t be long before incest, polygamy, and even pedophilia would be considered rights of the people. We must not lose the capacity to discriminate between good and evil, or diminish this ability by calling it prejudice and bigotry. We are a free nation, but if we use our freedom to indulge the wants of individuals and minority groups at the expense of the legitimate rights of others, we will not only destroy ourselves, but everyone else, as well.

The opposition of “same-sex marriage” is not a violation of “Gay Rights.” Our Constitution does not give homosexuals the right to marry, and never has. The same-sex marriages that have been performed during the last four months are invalid. Those responsible for proclaiming same-sex marriage as legal, did not have the authority to do so, and went against the will of the people and the Constitution in order to do it. Marriage is a legal/social, moral, and religious/spiritual institution. The Institution of Marriage was not an outgrowth of the Constitution, or of Democracy; it has been around as long as "Religion" has. The Constitution has always been based on (and supported) the Traditional and the Religious interpretation of marriage. Marriage serves no purpose for same-sex couples who are incapable of consummating a marriage, of procreation, and of providing both a mother and a father for children. Although there are many couples who marry and do not have or want children, these marriages do not violate or change the Institution of Marriage, or the interpretation of marriage according to our constitutional rights. They are not an open door to a series of abuses and violations to the dignity of marriage; and of the human person. Same-sex marriage would change the Constitution and all the laws we have in place that protect the dignity of marriage, and the human rights of others. Same-sex marriage would eventually obliterate the Institution of Marriage. If same-sex marriages were legal, what would prevent a heterosexual couple, who live together merely as friends or roommates, from getting married in order to receive marital benefits, such as tax benefits & social security benefits?

The “Separation of Church and State” is grossly misinterpreted, today. It does not mean a separation of religion from the people, or of religious principles from the government. The "Separation of Church and State" was instituted in order to protect the freedom of all Religions, from being controlled by the State, as well as to prevent any one Religion or ideology from controlling the State. The Government does not have the right to force any Religion or Church to perform same-sex marriages. That would be a true violation of the “Separation of Church and State.” A country without religion and morals is doomed to fall. According to George Washington, religion and morality are the pillars of our Democratic Republic. Without religion and morals, we will revert—regress—and go from a civilized people to a primitive and barbaric people.

Scripture says: “My people perish for a lack of knowledge.” Unless we promote right judgment and maintain our ability to discern and discriminate, we will perish!



By Lenora Grimaud

We are one Nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all!

America is a Democratic Republic, formed by the U. S. Constitution. The Constitution is the very foundation and framework of the American people. Fidelity to this Constitution is absolutely imperative in order for America to remain a Democratic Republic. Under this Constitution, the power and authority belong to the people. The people empower government, government does not empower the people—government only empowers individuals. Government officials are only elected to serve the people, not to control or rule them. The people of America cannot hand over their power, authority, and responsibilities to the government and expect to continue to be a free Nation.

The people cannot afford to give the government control over their churches, their charities, and their non-profit organizations. Neither can they give government, control over their schools, hospitals, health care, and business operations. Employers need to be encouraged by the people to take care of the welfare of their own employees—to treat them like their family; to provide for their welfare; to reward them for their services; to pay them an honest and fair wage. This responsibility cannot be given to the government in order to control businesses and force them, through taxation, to take care of, not only their employees, but to spread their wealth around to all the people who have less than they do. This will hurt them and their employees. It should be up to the people to determine who is to be taxed and who is not to be taxed—and how much.

Businessmen, and all employers, need to serve their employees, rather than giving exorbitant and unnecessary contributions to politicians. The money that businesses and organizations have contributed to politicians campaigning for public office could have done great good for the employees and services they are responsible to support.

In a Democratic Republic, we cannot force the rich to share their wealth with the less fortunate. We can, however, encourage them to share; to be charitable and generous to the less fortunate. Authentic love cannot be forced. It must be freely given. However, as “a people,” we have a universal responsibility to protect and defend the rights of those who cannot defend themselves—children, the illiterate, the poor, the handicapped, and the marginalized. We have a responsibility to provide for the basic needs and social welfare of those who have none. This is a
responsibility that comes with being a free country—it is the responsibility of the people, not the government.

We must defend the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, as well as the dignity, of every human being in our country—including visitors and immigrants. Immigration laws should respect the dignity and basic human rights and needs of immigrants, both documented and undocumented. However, this does not entitle immigrants to the rights and benefits of citizenship when they are not American citizens. Aliens should not be given benefits that we are not even able to provide for American citizens, in need. Even so, if we truly love all people, we will always show aliens and visitors hospitality. Many Americans were once immigrants. Except for the American Indians, all our ancestors were immigrants. America is a very large country. There is room for every alien who is seeking life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; who wants to make America their home; who is willing to work hard and to be a good citizen. There are churches, non-profit charitable organizations, and individuals who are willing to sponsor them and help them to make a new life. This should not be the responsibility of the government or the tax payer.

We cannot afford to ignore immigration laws, however. At a time when we are at war against terrorism, we need to be especially prudent about immigration laws. Most terrorists and enemies of our country are either legal or illegal aliens. During a time of war, even every American becomes suspect—especially those with power and divided allegiance, politicians and leaders, those known to be anti-American, and those who have been involved in terrorist activities.

While we all have equal dignity and worth, we will never be equal in those things that make us unique individuals, or separate us as individuals and groups. We will always have diversity. We will always be separated by age, sex, health, intelligence, abilities, personalities, education, wealth, material goods, occupations, vocations, opportunities, positions, roles, stature, religious beliefs, rights, and individual responsibility. “Equal rights,” means that everyone shares the same basic human rights, and some of the same civil rights; it does not mean that everyone has all of the same “rights.”

Our Constitution states that “war” is only “just” if it is necessary to “defend” our own borders, and to defend the world, at large—which includes America. Unfortunately, errors in judgment have been consistently made by governments. No government official is God—or incapable of errors of judgment. Errors of judgment are not crimes, however. Deliberate and rash decisions to go to war, motivated by hate, revenge, greed, racism, and ambition are acts of terrorism—a violation of our Constitution—and subject to the law. It takes time for the truth to come out. In some cases, only God can be the judge. The people have a responsibility to choose leaders who are just, honest, loyal to the people and Constitution, moral, and humble servants of the people—of God and Country; leaders with wisdom, knowledge, experience, and integrity. The primary responsibility of our Country is to protect the needs and social welfare of our own people, first, before reaching out to others. We cannot neglect the needs of our own people in order to help other countries, just as parents cannot neglect the needs of their own children in order to help others. (This does not mean that we can never help someone else as long as our children or Country lacks anything—common sense is needed. True virtue is always rewarded). War is never an excuse to bring justice and social reform to other countries. War against terrorism is “just” only when it threatens the preservation of other countries and includes our own Country, and the world, as well. The Constitution of the U.S. does not give Americans authority to spread or proclaim Democracy over all the earth, only to defend it in America.

George Washington, in his “Farewell Address,” had this to say:

Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, Religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that manclaim the tribute of Patriotism, who should labour to subvert these greatPillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of Men & citizens. The mere Politican, equally with the pious man ought to respect & to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private & public felicity. Let it simply be asked where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the Oaths, which are the instruments of investigation in Courts of Justice? And let us with caution indulge the supposition, that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure—reason & experience both forbid us to expect that National morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.

America was originally a Judeo-Christian Nation. The Constitution was based on the morality of the Ten Commandments and social teaching of Jesus that complimented natural law. “We are one Nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” People of all cultures, countries, and Religions have found a welcome home in America. They were free to practice their own faith beliefs, and their beliefs were not contrary to the moral code of America. Divine Law is not contrary to natural law—it does not oppose natural law. Natural Law is the same for every human being, regardless of their faith or beliefs. All of the great Religions of the world adhere to a moral code, with only slight variations. It is my understanding that none of these major Religions condone or support abortion, homosexuality, same sex-marriage, divorce, or promiscuity. It is contrary to our Constitution for any government to deny the moral framework of our Constitution and to deny anyone the right to practice their faith, including Jews and Christians—whether they are liberal or conservative. It is contrary to our Constitution to deny the freedom of Religion to anyone. Immorality, however, is not a Religion. Unbelief is not a Religion. Immorality is being forced on believers in the name of freedom, and morality and virtue are presented as forms of discrimination and bigotry.

America is no longer a Judeo-Christian Nation, and that is as it should be. America is a Democratic Republic, made up of many people, religions, races, and cultures. But, a true Democracy cannot exist without the Freedom of Religion, Freedom of Speech, and a common morality that does not deny natural law. Natural Law is an internal design, instilled within every human being by our Creator, that is in harmony with his divine plan for us—whether we want to believe it, or not. Webster gives this definition for natural law: A body of law or a specific principle held to be derived from nature and binding upon human society in the absence of or in addition to positive law. The problem is that many people have attempted to change natural law to fit in with their own biases, opinions, and agendas; and have convinced the masses to accept these changes, as well. Natural law is not dependent on our feelings, emotions, beliefs, or genes. It is dependent on the core of our being, which comes from God.

Separation of Church and State does not mean a separation of government from Christian morality—based on natural law—and from the Freedom of Religion. Slavery cannot exist in a true Democracy. A “caste system” cannot exist in a true Democracy. Vendettas cannot exist in a true Democracy. Dictatorship and Monarchy cannot exist in a Democracy. Communism and certain forms of socialism cannot exist in a Democracy. Terrorism and totalitarianism cannot exist in a true Democracy.

In a world of so much diversity, societies cannot exist without external structures—government, institutions, organizations, law, authority, etc. The same is true with Religion. In a world of so many diverse cultures and conflicting beliefs, Religions also have to have an external structure. Religions are not “democracies.” They have a hierarchy because they differentiate between humans and God. In fact, hierarchy is a part of all life and all structures, but it can have no determination in the equal rights of every human being; of the dignity and worth of every human being. People from other cultures, societies, and Religions had to let go of some values and practices that could not co-exist in a Democracy with our specific moral code, but they were happy to do so because they welcomed the freedom that America offered them. Our freedoms came at a great price. We are not free to be selfish or immoral.

America has been very blessed, over all. We have prospered and have many freedoms—especially the Freedom of Religion and the Freedom of Speech, which are very precious to us. We have never had a dictator or Communistic Government. We have not known or experienced war on our own soil since the Civil War. But, we are on the “razors edge.”

As Americans, we can’t pass laws that make divorce, homosexuality, promiscuity, or war illegal. This will not solve the problems of our culture and society. We also can’t pass laws that make drugs, alcohol, smoking, gambling, or other addictions illegal, without violating the freedom of an individual. If we made all immorality illegal according to the law, every American would probably be serving a prison term. We need to provide programs and options that can enable abstinence and offer healing and moderation for everyone. We also cannot pass laws that promote evil and call it good; laws that deny truth, or diminish morality; laws that condone and encourage evil. We cannot allow these abuses to influence or form our youth. Our youth are not old enough to vote, responsibly; nor are they able to rationally discern between good and evil. The right to vote was intended to be a right of mature citizens who know and understand the Constitution of the United States of America, and the principles upon which it was formed; the rights and freedoms that it was designed to protect. Many people take parts of the Constitution out of context, or use political rhetoric to make it say what they want it to say. This includes some members of the Supreme Court, as well.

Many bad laws have been passed, however, and these laws should be reversed; they violate our freedom and our constitutional rights. In the opinion of many experts on Constitutional Law, the legalization of Abortion is unconstitutional; it denies the right to life to babies who cannot defend themselves. The exclusion of babies in the womb, from humanity, by redefining what constitutes a human being, is unconstitutional. We do not have the authority to redefine natural law. No-fault divorce is unconstitutional, because it violates the rights of some married persons, and their children. Every child deserves to have both, a mother and a father, if possible. The naturalization of homosexuality is unconstitutional, because it redefines natural law, and because it was based on unethical proceedings, research, and studies—making it illegal to even counsel homosexuals for the purpose of rehabilitation, in some quarters. This has resulted in the fact that instead of homosexuality being a condition that one is born with and has no control over, it has become a lifestyle that is a preference and a choice. If everyone really understood the true meaning of love, there would be no divorce, because people would not enter into impossible marriages and relationships; there would be no problem of homosexuality, promiscuity, immorality, or war, because we would teach true values, morals, and justice, and we would provide other options for help, healing, peace, and unity.

Abortion, euthanasia, murder, violence, theft, terrorism, and unethical procedures and experiments, can never be legalized in a Democratic Republic; and must be punishable crimes against justice. The punishment for crime is determined by a judge or jury. Our Justice System has degrees of guilt. Abortion and euthanasia are murder, but that doesn’t mean they are murder in the “first degree.” The judgment given may be determined to be “self defense,” or “second degree murder.” Abortion and euthanasia can never be a “right of the people.”

Abortion, homosexuality, divorce, sexual liberation—promiscuity, suicide and euthanasia are all choices that were presented out of compassion for those who are suffering and marginalized. But, what is the fruit that has come from these choices? When we actually see the harm and suffering that we have caused others because of our pride and arrogance in thinking we know better than God, calling evil good, will we be able to forgive ourselves?

Every woman who has a crisis pregnancy is not emotionally free to make a free choice for abortion. She is not able to be objective, or to make a prudential decision. Those who will be held accountable are the parents, spouses, friends, doctors, educators, advisors, government, and even some priests, who encouraged her to get an abortion; those who told her that it was her right to have an abortion; those who told her that abortion was not evil or a sin; those who told her that the child in her womb was not human; those who told her that she had no other choice; those who forced her to get an abortion. Every woman who has an abortion is wounded for life, affecting her emotionally, mentally, psychologically, spiritually, and even physically. This wound can only be healed by God; by the truth, so that she can receive the mercy and forgiveness of God. Abortion is an intrinsic evil and can only produce more evil. There is insurmountable evidence of this, for those who bother to look for it. Millions of women who have chosen to keep their babies are filled with gratitude, today, and have grown in wisdom and love through their suffering. Thousands of women who have put up their babies for adoption, have grieved their loss and moved on to having more children and no regrets. They have grown in wisdom and love through the sacrifice they had to make.

Every homosexual man or woman that has struggled with their same-sex orientation is not emotionally free to make a free choice for a homosexual lifestyle. They are not able to be objective, or to make a prudential judgment. Those who will be held accountable are the doctors, educators, advisors, perpetrators, government and even some priests, who encouraged them to choose a homosexual lifestyle; those who told them that it was natural; those who told them that it was not evil, or a sin; those who sexually abused them; those who told them that they had no other choice. There is much evidence that shows that those who have embraced a homosexual lifestyle have not been able to mature, emotionally or spiritually, beyond that of an adolescent stage of growth. This makes it difficult for them to maintain a monogamous relationship for very long, or a relationship with sexual fidelity. It has also made many of them vulnerable to a hedonistic lifestyle of drugs, alcohol, orgies, rivalry, jealousy, etc. Thousands of homosexuals have changed their sexual orientation, through prayer and counseling, and are now happily married with families. In addition, thousands of homosexuals have chosen to live a celibate life; as a result they have been filled with peace and joy, and live moral and fruitful lives.

Every man and woman experiencing crisis in their marriage are not emotionally free to make a free choice for divorce. They are not able to make an objective decision or a prudential judgment. Those who will be held accountable are the friends, relatives, lovers, doctors, advisors, counselors, and some priests; those who encouraged or advised them to get a divorce; those who told them that divorce would be the courageous and virtuous choice; those who told them that they would be happier if they got a divorce; those who told them that they would get through it and over it, quickly; those who told them that divorce is a good choice; those who told them that divorce was their best choice. The only ones who can make that choice are the married couple, after a time of separation and healing. Divorce has a devastating affect on the children; and relatives and friends, as well. Thousands of couples have been reconciled, even after a divorce, through counseling and prayer, and have strong and happy marriages today.

Those who are suffering great pain (emotional, physical, or mental) are not free to make a free choice for suicide. They are not able to make an objective decision, or a prudential judgment. Those who have to witness the long suffering of their loved ones are also not free to make an objective decision. They are not able to make a prudential judgment for euthanasia.

No one can deny that all of these evils are also great “crosses,” causing great suffering, for those who have had to endure them. Freedom doesn’t mean that we are free from the clutches of evil. I have dear friends who are homosexual, and have great compassion for those who have a homosexual orientation. I was divorced myself, and I have great compassion for those who have suffered divorce, and difficult, and sometimes impossible, marriages. I have gone through pregnancy due to rape and have great compassion for those who have experienced crisis pregnancies. I have been a single parent and have great compassion for those who must raise children alone. I know what it is like to have a husband who serves his country in the Armed Forces, and has to go to war. I know what it cost him and the family left behind. Freedom is not free! It comes at a great price. Defending our country is not a choice, it is a responsibility.

If we do not protect the rights of our Constitution by insuring that only just laws are passed by the people and our government; if we do not find a way to reverse the Roe vs. Wade decision, we cannot hope to remain a free country. Americans are not aware of the repercussions of a law that redefines marriage to include “same-sex marriage.” It could mean the end of churches in America—the end of all religious freedom. Atheism, New Age Cults, and churches that compromise their beliefs may be the only belief forms that will be legal. The Bible could be banned as a bigoted and discriminative form of propaganda. Churches and religious organizations could lose their tax exemption unless they conform to a new gospel. Christians may be persecuted and even arrested for bigotry and discrimination. (“Catholic Answers” has made a CD, and has a lot of literature, on the repercussions of same-sex marriage—which are already happening in some places). We, the people of America, will be held accountable for putting laws in place that advocate and encourage these behaviors; especially for abortion, euthanasia, and same-sex marriage.

The right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, can only be realized in a Democratic Republic; equality, justice, freedom of speech, and freedom of Religion can only be realized in a Democratic Republic. Socialism, Communism, and Totalitarianism can never be options for a Democratic Republic, if we want freedom.

Americans can no longer continue to sit on the fence—they must choose. This is a free choice—it must be a free choice. God is both, prolife and prochoice, but our choice will determine the future of our Nation. Will we continue on the “road to nowhere,” or will we have a moral conversion, come “under” God, and remain a Democratic Republic?



By Lenora Grimaud

Spiritual maturity means to be free to be the persons we were created to be, in the image and likeness of God; free to be ourselves. If we are completely free, we will be like Jesus, our true model, and do the things he did. We don’t become Jesus, we become like him—full of love, full of light, full of truth, full of the power of the Holy Spirit.

If we are spiritually mature, our “will” will be completely free, and enable us to be and do what we intend to be and do. There is no conflict between our “free will” and God’s will. If our will is free, it will be in union with God’s will. God’s will for us is our greatest good, and the greatest good of all humanity; it is “love.” When our will is free, we will want our greater good, and love will enable us to will the common good over our personal good. When our will is free, it is not in bondage to sin.

Sin is anything that prevents us from freely and fully loving God, others, and ourselves. Sin is anything that causes us to “grieve the Holy Spirit,” hurt others, or hurt ourselves. Sin causes us to become fragmented, destroying our integrity and wholeness; it ruptures our relationships with others and isolates us from the human family; and it separates us from intimacy with the Holy Trinity—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Spiritual maturity is to become aware of everything that makes us a slave or victim of sin, and to become free of our slavery through the grace—the power—of the Holy Spirit.

“The Twelve Steps to Spiritual Maturity” does not focus on any one addiction or sin, but sin, in general—whatever has a hold on us and prevents us from being free to love as Jesus loved. We don’t confess, or name our sins, publicly, but to God in the Sacrament of Penance, where we can receive the grace to over-come them. Recovery from sin is a life-long process, but the day will come when we will be fully mature and free; transformed into the image and likeness of God. In the process, we continue the mission that Jesus began—to establish the Kingdom of God on earth and in the hearts of all man-kind.

Step One:
We admit that we are powerless over sin and evil—that without God’s help, our lives are unmanageable.

I know of nothing good living in me—living, that is, in my unspiritual self—for though the will to do what is good is in me, the performance is not, with the result that instead of doing the good things I want to do, I carry out the sinful things I do not want. (Rom. 7:18-19).

Step Two:
We believe that a power greater than ourselves can restore us to wholeness and to union with God.

I see in my members another principle at war with the law of my mind, taking me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Miserable one that I am! Who will deliver me from this mortal body? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Rom.7:23-25).

Step Three:
We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the providence of God, the Father; the Lordship of Jesus Christ, the Son; and the power of the Holy Spirit, the Advocate.

He who believes and is baptized will be saved. (Mk. 16:16). I tell you most solemnly, unless a man is born through water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. (Jn.3:5).

Step Four:
We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves and our lives.

God, examine me and know my heart, probe me and know my thoughts; make sure I do not follow pernicious ways, and guide me in the way that is everlasting. (Ps. 139:23-24).

Step Five:
We confess to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs by receiving the Sacrament of Penance.

If we say we have no sin in us, we are deceiving ourselves and refusing to admit the truth; but if we acknowledge our sins, then God who is faithful and just will forgive our sins and purify us from everything that is wrong. (1Jn.1:8-9).

Step Six:
We are ready to cooperate with God in order to have him remove our vices and defects of character.

As once you put your bodies at the service of vice and immorality, so now you must put them at the service of righteousness for your sanctification. (Rom. 6:19).

Step Seven:
We humbly asked God to give us the grace to overcome our sins and defects of character.

Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you…If you then, who are evil, know how to give your children what is good, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him. (Lk.11:9, 13).

Step Eight:
We made a list of all persons we had harmed and were willing to make amends to them all.

Everyone who comes to me and listens to my words and acts on them—I will show you what he is like. He is like the man who when he built his house dug, and dug deep, and laid the foundations on rock; when the river was in flood it bore down on that house but could not shake it, it was so well built. (LK. 6:47-48).

Step Nine:
We made direct amends to those we hurt, unless it would hurt them even more, to do so, and made “acts of reparation” (penance) for those whom we could not make direct amends to.

So then, if you are bringing your offering to the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar, go and be reconciled with your brother first, and then come back and present your offering. (Mat. 5:23-24).

Step Ten:
We continue to examine our hearts, minds, and behavior, and when we are wrong, we promptly admit it, and make amends.

Examine yourselves to make sure you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you acknowledge that Jesus Christ is really in you? (2Cor.13:5).

Step Eleven:
We continually seek, through prayer, meditation, and the Eucharist, to deepen our relationship with God—always praying for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry it out.

Pray all the time, asking for what you need, praying in the Spirit on every possible occasion. Never get tired of staying awake to pray for all the saints (Eph.6:18).

Step Twelve:
After having a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we are zealous to proclaim the Gospel, in word and deed, to others; to share with others the reason for our hope.

So stand your ground, with truth buckled round your waist, and integrity for a breastplate, wearing for shoes on your feet the eagerness to spread the gospel of peace and always carrying the shield of faith so that you can use it to put out the burning arrows of the evil one. And then you must accept salvation from God to be your helmet and receive the word of God from the Spirit to use as a sword. (Eph. 6:14-17).


By Lenora Grimaud

God created us in his image and likeness and gave us a “free will”—the freedom to choose good or evil. Humans often interpret this freedom to mean that God will never force his will upon us; He will never violate our freedom and save us unless we choose to be saved. But, is this really true? Can we have “free will” if we are not truly free?

Only God is God; only God is divine. He created humans to be “fully human.” To be fully human is to be fully mature, and fully free. Our free will is in accordance with our human nature. As mature humans we are free to choose—free to will what is good in accordance with our human nature. If we are truly free, we will choose only “good.” We know our will is free when we choose the good. We were created “good” by God. Sin robs us of our freedom to be fully human. It robs us of our “free will.” We are free to choose evil, but it is not our true self—our free self—that is making the choice, so our will is not free.

We were created to want—to desire and choose—our greatest good, and the greatest good of the entire human family. We were created to make the greatest good of the entire human family, a priority over our own personal greater good, because our personal good is dependent on the greater good of the whole human family.

When we are fully human and fully free, there is no conflict between our will and God’s will, because God wills the perfect good—the greatest good—for the whole human family. Even so, we cannot compare our free will with God’s will because God, alone, is divine, and His will is divine—in accordance with His divine nature and perfect love.

Therefore, God is perfectly just, and does not violate our freedom if He imposes His will upon us, or if He infuses us with His grace without our consent. To illustrate this, I share the following story:

When my son was a little boy, he was sent to his room for “time out” because his conduct was obnoxious and unruly. While in his room, he wrote a note and threw it over by the door, where his sister was peeking in at him. He knew his sister would take the note to me. The note said: “I hate my mother! She never listens to me and she doesn’t understand me!” Of course, I took no offense to his note, nor could I take seriously his blasphemous statement: I hate my mother. I only saw his pain, and the confusion and frustration that results from immaturity. I waited a little while and then went in and sat down beside him. I said, “I’m listening now!” I held him, and he just cried his heart out. Then, I asked him if he wanted me to pray for him. He said, “Yes!” I prayed in the Spirit, and he cried and clung to me. After awhile, he raised his head, smiling, and said, “I feel like I just had a good shower after being all muddy.” He had been feeling frustrated because he had no control over his behavior.

I could have tried to reason with him by saying, “Yes, sometimes I don’t listen, and sometimes I don’t understand you, but I listen a lot more than you do, and I understand you a lot more than you understand me, but, I don’t say "I hate you!" That would have only increased his pain and alienation. If he was a teenager, or if he had more self-control, it might be more appropriate to try to reason with him.

Little children make choices all the time, but they are not mature choices, or free choices, because they lack the maturity to be fully informed in order to make good and wise choices. Parents are perfectly just in using their authority to impose their own choices upon their children—to impose their will on their children, for their own good.

Little children are usually very trusting and obedient to their parents. When they reach adolescence, however, they really become obnoxious and disobedient. They are in transition, and naturally schizophrenic. They are struggling to develop their own autonomy and independence—to loosen the cord from their mothers, which will soon have to be cut. They often think they have all the answers to life and know more than their parents. They are developing an “ego” and often are controlled by their ego. They can be very arrogant, presumptuous, and given over to pride and egotism. Again, the wise parent knows that "this too, shall pass." (Wait until they have children of their own!)

I believe that God reacts to humans in much the same way that loving and wise parents react to their children. I don’t think that I am “projecting this onto God;” rather, I think that this is what God has projected onto the human family—if we are truly free, and have “eyes to see and ears to hear.” I also believe that God does not passively stand back and watch us destroy ourselves through our corrupted wills. He will go to any means to save us, whether we want Him to or not, because He knows that we “know not, what we are doing.”



By Lenora Grimaud

One of the charisms of St. Clare was the charism of “poverty;” poverty of spirit, as well as physical and material poverty. St. Francis revolutionized the meaning of “poverty.” Prior to St. Francis, poverty had become merely an ascetical practice or discipline. St. Francis introduced poverty as a charism, a gift, based on the incarnation of Jesus: “His state was divine, yet he did not cling to his equality with God but emptied himself to assume the condition of a slave, and became as men are; and being as all men are, he was humbler yet, even to accepting death, death on a cross. (Phil. 2:6-8). Jesus did not choose to come to us as a grown man, but he came to us as a tiny, helpless and dependent infant, born of a woman. The story of Jesus being found in the temple after three days of searching by his parents, (Luke 2:41-52) is another example of the obedience and poverty of Jesus. Jesus was the Son of God and knew that [he] must be busy with [his] Father’s affairs.” Even so, Jesus recognized and honored his parent’s authority over him. He returned with them and lived under their authority, and grew in wisdom and grace.

This gift of poverty is also a special love for the poor and the poor in spirit. It enables a person to be an advocate and servant to the poor; to see the poor as equal to all; to live in solidarity with the poor. It is a call to “minority”—to meekness and littleness; an abandonment and trust in divine providence. It is a call to serve and identify with the minorities. St. Francis and St. Clare were both given this charism, and it became the dominant charism of the whole Franciscan Family.

St. Clare lived in the city of Assisi, a small village of around 3,000 people. The poor were looked down upon by the rest of the people. They were denied many of the privileges and benefits granted to others in the Church, including a pew to sit in during the celebration of Mass. They were deprived of the “fullness of life” that Jesus came to bring to us. Clare was aware of the injustices placed upon the poor, and sensitive to their needs and suffering. She contemplated Jesus as the “poor and suffering Christ” of the Gospels. In him, she saw the poor around her. In the poor, she saw Jesus. She felt called to evangelize the poor by mirroring Jesus and the Gospels to them. She could only do this by entering into solidarity with them—becoming one of them. She served them by making herself their equal; less than their equal: “His state was divine, yet he did not cling to his equality with God but emptied himself to assume the condition of a slave, and became as men are” (Phil 2:6). In Clare, the poor would see Jesus who humbled himself to become one of us. In this holy mirror, the poor would also see themselves.

In contemplating the poor Christ, Clare saw the infant Jesus in the crib; helpless; dependent; with nothing of his own. He could do nothing for himself. The crib was symbolic of Mary, his mother, who is also symbolized by the Ark of the Covenant, the altar, the tabernacle, and the monstrance. Clare saw the poverty of Jesus at the beginning of his life, as a babe, and at the end of his life in his passion and death on the cross. So, Clare saw that she could serve Jesus and witness to the Gospel by embracing him in the poor; becoming one with them by living in solidarity with them, as Jesus did with mankind through his Incarnation. She would be his handmaid by becoming the “crib” to hold the poor in her arms.

St Clare’s call to radical physical poverty and her ministry to the poor was generated by the people in her midst; the poor and the needy. It was their need that called her forth to ministry. The poor around her determined what her ministry would be and how she would live out the Gospel, by calling her forth. There was no one around to take up the cause of the poor, to be their advocate, until the Lord raised up Francis and Clare. Clare lived out her whole life in Assisi with the poor. In her day, there were only two classes of people: the rich (wealthy merchants and the nobility), and the rest of the people (various degrees of poverty). The Church of that time sided with the rich. Clare chose to stand with the poor, even though she came from nobility and had many servants while growing up in her family life. She freely chose to leave it all, and to become a servant of the servants; a “handmaid of the handmaids.”

Today, the poor represent everyone who is in need, and everyone who is aware of their need for God. It is the homeless, prisoners, the handicapped, those who are ill, aids victims, the illiterate, those lacking in sufficient education, the deaf, the blind, the mute, unwed mothers, orphans, the bereaved, immigrants, refugees, those who are abused, single parent families, divorced and separated, children of divorced and separated, those who have lost their faith, those who have lost their hope, homosexuals, those who are outcasts, sinners, prostitutes, alcoholics and drug abusers, the emotionally and mentally ill, the unemployed—the list is endless. In every age, the “poor” represents all minorities—those who have no defense and no voice. The only one who are not poor, and can't be served, are those who are self sufficient; who refuse to acknowledge the need for God in their life; who trust only in themselves. In actuality, they are the poorest of all and have nothing, while the poor have everything.

St. Clare was well aware that riches and possessions have a way of blocking us from the freedom to really live in the kingdom of God. The more we have, the more we have to lose. The more we have to lose, the more we hold onto and cling to what we have, and the more attached and possessive we become. When our hands are full of what the world has to offer, they cannot be open and free to receive what God has to offer. For St. Clare, poverty was freedom; to let go of all that stands in the way of love and in the way of doing God’s will. It is freedom from all that can enslave us. Poverty is to acknowledge that everything we have comes from God, and to give up all personal claim to everything; to have nothing that we call “our own.” It is a spirit of sharing and unity; of all for one and one for all. There is no exclusivity, no spirit of ownership or possessiveness.

Originally, St. Clare and the sisters followed the rule of St. Francis. Clare and Francis, confronted with the absence of any legal foundation for the primitive “Form of Life,” were trying to create a base for the continued existence of San Damiano, using a formula that would meet with Church approval. Boldly, Clare appealed directly to Innocent III for a papal exemption from the usages of traditional monasticism which allowed for ownership of goods, and, even required such ownership. The exemption was called the “Privilege of Poverty.” This privilege represented for Clare a guarantee that her community could not be obliged to adopt an existing rule. She wrote, and fought for, her “rule” in order to set her sisters free from the existing rules. This was no small task, and she persevered to her death to gain the approval of the Church and acceptance of her rule. Pope Innocent gave approval when she was on her death bed. It seemed that Innocent had, therefore, helped her to create an entirely new form of convent community, which maintained itself on alms and the profits of manual labor in the same way as the Franciscans. At that time, Canon Law stated: “Lest too great a diversity of religious orders lead to grave confusion in the Church of God, we strictly forbid anyone in the future to found a new order, but whoever should wish to enter an order, let him choose one already approved.” Clare opened the door to change for religious orders for women. This attempt to be self-supporting without ownership of property became the core of life for Clare’s foundation. The most important words of the Privilege assured her that “No one can compel you to receive possessions.”



By Lenora Grimaud

There are many facets of the Charism of St. Clare. Her charism is more like a diamond with many fine points. Clare was true to her name, which means “light.” She had far reaching vision, reaching way into the future, giving her a global view of life. She was a prophet, one who goes ahead to “prepare the way of the Lord.” She was a woman who brought about change and moved people along into the future. She was the first woman who wrote her own “rule;” opening the way for women to come into their own and setting them free from many of the restrictions of the past. Today, this charism could be expressed in a way that would lead her Sisters toward change and pave the way for the future. Clare was futuristic and would prepare women for the next millennium. She was a woman of reform and renewal. She was also a woman who never lost sight of the “beginning.” She says in one of her letters: “But because one thing alone is necessary (Lk.10:42), I bear witness to that one thing and encourage you, for love of Him to Whom you have offered yourself as a holy and pleasing sacrifice (Rm. 12:1), that, like another Rachel (Gen. 29:16), you always remember your resolution and be conscious of how you began.”

Another important aspect of her charism was her understanding of “equality.” She “confronted the pope with the image of woman as equal” (Joan Chittister). Her concept of equality was not only for woman, but also for the poor and the outcast. She was opposed to all “class systems.” She was always for “equal rights.” However, Clare’s love of equality was harmoniously balanced by her gifts of reverence of authority; servanthood; and human relationships—community. These four aspects of her charism were wonderfully integrated and balanced so as not to produce schism or heresy. Clare had no problem with authority, recognizing its divine origin and necessity. Her image of authority and leadership was “servanthood.” She saw those in authority as being called to be servants to all those under their authority. Yet, she did not judge those in authority, but chose the model of servant leader for herself and her Sisters. This is what she taught; this is what she lived. She did not have her own agenda, but was there to do the will of God; to do what was the good of all; to put the needs, wants, and desires of others before her own—as long as it was for the common good and not contrary to it. She did not demand respect, honor, praise, or submission from others; she enabled it by earning it.

Clare’s concept of equality is much different than many people might think. Her intention was not to diminish the reverential treatment we give to nobility and authority. Her concept of equality, tempered by her reverence for authority, and call to servanthood was to treat everyone as equal to those in authority or nobility; to treat everyone as a V.I.P., and make herself their servant. This is the image and example she passed on to her Sisters. She would not want to treat a Bishop as a commoner or with less reverence, but to treat everyone as though they were a Bishop, including the poor man who comes to the door begging for food. This is the real meaning of Phil. 2:3-8. “Always consider the other person to be better than yourself, so that nobody thinks of his own interests first but everybody thinks of other people’s interests instead.”

Clare had a special charism for “relationships,” seeing all creation in relationship with God. She honored all types of relationships, possessing unique insights into the nature of human relationships. She was mother, daughter, sister, and friend. She had to have been very “family” oriented because her own sisters and mother followed in her footsteps and joined her Order. She made a place for all. She also honored the relationships of father, brother, son, and spouse. In spite of her feminist bent, she longed to unite the masculine and the feminine. She would have preferred to live with the friars as her brothers, fathers, and sons, but it was not possible in her day. Her charism, today, may lead to the formation of a mixed community of religious men and women, and, perhaps, lay people, as well. It may lead to the formation of a community of women over 50, who choose to live a life that is more “distinctly” apostolic—contemplative; a community that is not involved in full-time ministry for remuneration, but relies more heavily on benefactors and divine providence. These are additional forms of community life, to the already existing Orders, that the charism of St. Francis and St. Clare could embrace. Clare was always striving to remove distinctions that separated people. Her desire was that all might be free to love and serve God; free to be their unique and authentic self before God and man.

St. Clare saw herself as a “Handmaid of the Lord, and a handmaid to the handmaids.” She was completely abandoned to the will of God and to his divine providence. She made herself a servant of all. She was also a woman of great courage and perseverance, proved by her standing up to the Saracens, and persevering to the end in order to get her Rule approved. She died the day after the Pope approved her Rule. The importance of her Rule wasn’t the Rule, itself, but that it freed the sisters from being bound by the existing Rule for Religious, at that time. It gave them the “Privilege of Poverty.”

These charisms flowed out of her relationship with Jesus Christ. This was the foundation of her life. She was a true contemplative. Her concept of contemplation wasn’t so much prayer, but relationship with Christ—“to gaze upon the Lord;” to be still and listen. Her real “cloister” was her heart—a place in her heart where she could be alone with Jesus; a place of solitude and intimacy with the Lord. The external “Cloister” became a replica of the “cloister” of her heart. She experienced the Lord in relationship as Lord, brother, Father, friend, and spouse.



By Lenora Grimaud

We are in the year of St. Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles, as proclaimed by Pope Benedict XVI. St. Paul was, perhaps, the most controversial of all the Apostles. This was not because he preached a different Gospel than Peter, James, and John, however. In fact, he made it a point to meet with them in Jerusalem in order to get their approval of what he preached: “I laid before the leading men the Good News as I proclaim it among the pagans; I did so for fear the course I was adopting or had already adopted would not be allowed.” (Gal. 2:2). Paul was controversial because he was often misunderstood, especially when he wrote about the “Law,” or took a stand against false teachers. His teachings were frequently distorted by false teachers. St Peter referred to this when he preached to the Christians, urging them to live “lives without spot or stain,” and to wait patiently, for the “Day of the Lord.” Peter said:

“Our brother Paul, who is so dear to us, told you this when he wrote to you with the wisdom that is his special gift. He always writes like this when he deals with this sort of subject, and this makes some points in his letter hard to understand; these are the points that uneducated and unbalanced people distort, in the same way as they distort the rest of scripture—a fatal thing for them to do. You have been warned about this, my friends; be careful not to get carried away by the errors of unprincipled people, from the firm ground that you are standing on. Instead, go on growing in the grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory, in time and in eternity. Amen.” (2 Peter 3:15-18).

One of the points that St. Paul made that was frequently distorted, is covered in his letter to the Galations, Ch. 2 thru 5. St. Paul taught that the Law cannot save us or make us righteous; that if it could, Jesus would not have needed to come, or to die on the Cross for us. Paul was preaching to Gentiles, not Jews. He was also reacting against a group of Jews who insisted that the Gentiles needed to be circumcised and follow the Old Covenant before they could become Christians and receive the New Covenant. Paul insisted that they were no longer under the Law, and the curse of the Law, but under the Spirit. Instead of doing good in order to fulfill the Law, they were to do what the Law required out of love, through the power of the Spirit, not out of fear; or an attempt to earn their salvation, through their own efforts. Paul taught that we are “saved by faith.” But, he never said “faith, alone,” although some people got that impression from his writings. Paul never rejected good works, the Commandments, or morality. In fact, Paul taught a higher morality than that of the Ten Commandments, and expected Christians to live it because they had received the power of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus said: “Do not imagine that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I have come not to abolish but to complete them.” (Mat. 5:17). He also taught: “For I tell you, if your virtue goes no deeper than that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never get into the kingdom of heaven.” (Mat. 5:20). Jesus calls us to live a life of “Beatitude.” (Mat. 5:1-12). This calls for great love. This calls for the fullness of the Holy Spirit. This calls for us to be holy as Jesus is holy. The Ten Commandments didn’t disappear with the New Covenant. It was the hundreds of other laws that became a “heavy yoke” on the people, which disappeared. God never asks us to do the impossible—he never asks us to do anything without giving us the means and grace to do it. The Commandments were not difficult to obey, unless one was addicted to lawlessness: “For this Law that I enjoin on you today is not beyond your strength or beyond your reach.” (Dt. 30:11). But, the Law could not enable the people of the Old Covenant to love. The Law could not save them, or bring them into an intimate personal relationship with the Holy Trinity, or fill them with the Holy Spirit, or be a mediator between them and the kingdom of God. They obeyed the Law out of fear, or for selfish motives. With the Holy Spirit they could obey, motivated by love and faith, as Abraham did. When we have faith and love, we naturally and spontaneously keep the Law. We don’t even have to know what the Law says because it is written on our hearts. There are exceptions, however, due to the effects of original sin.

St. Paul insisted that if Christians were saved from sin, filled with the Holy Spirit, it would be impossible for them to continue to live immoral lives. If we continue to sin, to break the Commandments of love, we are slaves of sin and need forgiveness, healing, or deliverance. Paul taught that we “must be content to hope that we shall be saved—our salvation is not in sight, we should not have to be hoping for it if it were—but, as I say, we must hope to be saved since we are not saved yet—it is something we must wait for with patience.” (Rom.8:24-25). Salvation is a process. When it is complete, we will be holy, as Jesus is Holy. There will be no obstacle to our receiving from God or giving to God—and our neighbor. In the meantime, “the just man falls seven times a day,” and we need to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation and healing whenever we fall back into sin, after Baptism.

Among those who protested against the Catholic Church, are those who preach that we are “Saved by faith, alone!” Unfortunately, for many people, this has come to mean: “Once saved, always saved” or “once forgiven, always forgiven.” This has led people to believe that salvation means to be saved from the Law, instead of saved from sin and death; to believe that salvation means we will immediately go to heaven when we die, no matter what kind of lives we live; that we are free to sin because Jesus died for our sins; that we will not be judged at the “Last Judgment;” that forgiveness is automatic and does not require repentance or changing our lives—we never have to ask for forgiveness once we become believers; that salvation does not require good works; that being part of the “elect” means we will be spared from suffering and death—from the “Tribulation” of the end times—and be taken up in the “Rapture.” This is not the teaching of the Apostles—who were all of one mind, heart, and purpose—including St. Paul. These distortions have caused some people to reject the “Law” and the morality of the Gospels; to believe that faith is nothing more than believing that Jesus is Lord—the only Son of God—and professing that belief with our lips. They reject that the life of faith includes holiness and good works—that we witness more by our actions than we do by our words. Scripture says that even the demons know, or believe, that Jesus is the Son of God—that he is Lord—and even profess it.

St. James reacted to the “libertines” who claimed that they were “saved” and no longer needed to do good works or obey the Law. He was probably talking about men who distorted what Paul said. James said:

Take the case, my brothers, of someone who has never done a single good act but claims that he has faith. Will that faith save him? If one of the brothers or one of the sisters is in need of clothes and has not enough food to live on, and one of you says to them, ‘I wish you well; keep yourself warm and eat plenty,’ without giving them these bare necessities of life, then what good is that? Faith is like that: if good works do not go with it, it is quite dead.

This is the way to talk to people of that kind: ‘You say you have faith and I have good deeds; I will prove to you that I have faith by showing you my good deeds—now you prove to me that you have faith without any good deeds to show. You believe in the one God—that is creditable enough, but the demons have the same belief, and they tremble with fear. Do realize, you senseless man, that faith without good deeds is useless. You surely know that Abraham our father was justified by his deed, because he "offered his son Isaac on the altar"? There you see it: faith and deeds were working together; his faith became perfect by what he did. This is what scripture really means when it says: "Abraham put his faith in God, and this was counted as making him justified;" and that is why he was called 'the friend of God.’ (James 2:14-23).

There is no contradiction between what Paul taught, and what James taught. We are in danger of false teaching when we take Scripture out of context and isolate a selective passage from the whole message of the Gospel. It is true that we are “saved by faith,” but it is also true that good works are necessary for salvation. Under the Law, good works are usually the result of fear or self striving—an attempt to earn God’s love and mercy; to earn salvation. Under the New Law of the Spirit, good works are motivated by faith and love, without expecting anything in return.

The Word of God—both, the oral teaching of the Apostles, and later, the written Word—is the living Word of God. It must be received as a whole—not in disconnected, selective pieces. God is “One.” Whenever we extract a part of Scripture, and isolate it from the whole of Scripture, we distort it. It leads to confusion, contradiction, and heresy. Because it is the “living Word,” it is like cutting off a member of our body, such as a hand. When we receive it as a whole, there are no contradictions. The human body has two hands—both hands look alike and have the same purpose, but they are not identical, and one hand serves one side of the body and the other hand serves the other. Because they are not identical, and appear to be opposite, does that mean they are not both hands, or that they contradict each other? Both hands serve the whole body. There are many ambiguities and paradoxes in Scripture. That is why Jesus gave the Magisterium the power and authority to interpret it for us. As Scripture says: “we must be most careful to remember that the interpretation of scriptural prophecy is never a matter for the individual. Why? Because no prophecy ever came from man’s initiative. When men spoke for God it was the Holy Spirit that moved them.” (2Peter1:20-21). This includes the whole of Revelation—the whole of Scripture.

“Once saved, always saved!” What does that mean? The Catholic Church teaches that once Baptized, always Baptized. We can never be re-baptized. In Baptism, we receive an indelible seal upon our souls that can never be removed. It identifies us, and is our true identity. We become part of God’s family—brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ through rebirth in water and the Spirit. “The proof that you are sons is that God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts: the Spirit that cries, ‘Abba Father,’ and it is this that makes you a son, you are not a slave any more; and if God has made you son, then he has made you heir.” (Gal 4:6-7). This is only the beginning of salvation, however.

When Adam and Eve sinned, they lost, for all of us, the personal relationship they had with God. They were no longer able to receive the promise of the Spirit. They came under the Law, and being under the Law, they came under the “curse of the Law.” The curse is that “the wages of sin is death.” Even we, who came after Adam and Eve, were subject to the same curse, because to break only a part of the Law is to break the whole Law. We could not keep the Law (written on our hearts) because we inherited lawlessness—sin—from Adam and Eve. We could not keep the Law because we were under a curse. We could keep the outward observance of the Law, but were unable to live the Law of Love written on our hearts because we were spiritually blind.

Baptism gave us the gift of faith, which made us sons and daughters of God by adoption, through our “yes.” It set us free of the curse of the Law and brought us into the kingdom of God, and into a personal relationship with God—a state of grace. We were set free from original sin and the dominion of Satan. This was a definitive act which we cannot lose, except through free will—through sin. Whenever we fall into sin, after Baptism, we leave the kingdom of God, the state of grace, like the prodigal son who left home. We can always return, however, through repentance and the forgiveness of sins—through the Sacrament of Penance. Baptism happens only once, but forgiveness of sins is necessary every time we sin, every time we reject grace. In this life, we always have access to “eternal life”—the life of sanctifying grace in Jesus Christ. But, we are not guaranteed eternal life in heaven when we die, unless we are already in that state of grace. Jesus came, not only to save us from original sin and the dominion of Satan, which separated us from God, but to fill us with the Holy Spirit so that we could be delivered from personal sin, as well; and through love, be transformed into the image and likeness of Jesus.

Baptism also made us members of the Church—the body of Christ on earth. Through Baptism, God has called us and set us apart to carry on the mission of Jesus—to establish the Kingdom of God on earth. Jesus came to save the whole world—believers and non-believers, alike. What we received, we did not earn, so how can we see our faith, our salvation, as meriting heaven for us while those who have not received, merit hell? St. Faustina said that Jesus fully reveals himself to every soul at that last moment between life and death, before the soul leaves the body, and gives them the opportunity to choose God or reject God. I believe this. So, why be Baptized? As the “body of Christ” in the world, we are Jesus in the world, establishing his kingdom on earth. If we are with him here, and he is in us, we are not too likely to reject him when we see him face to face. As Jesus in the world, it is our mission to teach the world how to love and to over-come sin; and to prepare them for the kingdom to come.

What purpose does the Law have for Christians? The Law is a tool to enable us to examine our conscience—not in order to condemn us or to fill us with guilt—but as a guide to help us grow in holiness. It is a tool to form our conscience; to point to the law of the Spirit—the law of love that was written on our hearts when we were created; the law of love that we were not able to see because sin blinded us from it. The Law is like a mirror that reflects the law within our heart. The purpose of the Law is to show us where we fall short; to teach us what sin is and what love is. It is only through the power of the Holy Spirit that we can see what the Law points to. It is only through the grace of the Holy Spirit that we can change our lives and become empowered to live the law of love written on our hearts. The Law helps us to see what we need to repent of; what we need to be healed and delivered from; what we need to be forgiven for; what we need to forgive. God did not save us so that we can remain in our sins. We examine our conscience in order to get to the root of sin, to be enlightened—aware of our sins so that we can be reconciled, not only with God, but with everyone.

Not all sin breaks our relationship with God and others. But, all sin is an offense against love. All sin, no matter how small, grieves the Holy Spirit within us because it wounds ourselves, others, and God. God is a relationship! Our relationship with God, and with humankind, is like a marriage. We were all created to be “one.” Married people hurt each other many times a day, and need to forgive each other and ask for forgiveness, over and over again. This is not difficult because they love each other. But, giving forgiveness and asking for forgiveness is usually not enough to heal, even these small wounds. Spouses need to make some act of reparation—an act of love—such as an embrace or hug, a gift, a smile, a card, a letter, an act of service, or some kind of sacrifice. The same is true with all relationships. This is what the Sacrament of Penance is about. It is a Sacrament of healing. Sometimes you hear married people say, “I love it when we fight because it is so much fun making up.”

Mortal sin, or serious wrong-doing, can sever a relationship completely. People who have gone through a divorce know what it means to have their relationship severed. They can’t continue to live in an intimate relationship with each other. Many of them saw it coming. They saw the writing on the wall, but were helpless to change it or save their relationship—they didn’t know how. For others, the divorce came like “a thief in the night.” It took them by surprise and they wondered, “How did this happen?” St. Paul says: “Examine yourselves to make sure you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you acknowledge that Jesus Christ is really in you? If not, you have failed the test, but we, as I hope you will come to see, have not failed it.” (2Cor.13:5-6). Marriage is only “until death do us part” for those who stay married. It takes more than “faith, alone” to save a relationship, and to keep it. It takes work—good works—and forgiveness.


BY Lenora Grimaud

The “New Age Cult” is a modern-day form of paganism. One of the hallmarks of paganism is that they take all of the “leftovers”—the food that people normally throw out—from all the religions and philosophies of the world and mix it together. What you end up with is “slop,” or garbage. It turns to maggots inside of you. When God gave the Hebrews “manna” in the desert, he told them to only take what they needed for each day, not to save it or store it up, or it would turn to maggots. “Moses said to them, ‘No one must keep any of it for tomorrow.’ But some would not listen to Moses and kept part of it for the following day, and it bred maggots and smelt foul; and Moses was angry with them.” (Ex. 16:19-20).

Catholics who drift from one denomination to another, taking a little from each one and not making a commitment to the teachings of the Church, are like “Pagan Catholics.” In this sense, Protestantism is like paganism—the people are not rooted in, or committed to the “One True Church”—the Apostolic Catholic Church—the Church built on the Apostles, with Jesus as the corner stone, holding it all together. This has resulted in thousands of denominations because they could not agree on what Scripture was really saying. Making a commitment of fidelity to one Church makes us accountable to the teachings and guidelines of that Church, which can be stifling, at times, but it also protects us from attacks from the enemy and false teaching—from becoming a church unto ourselves.

Catholics need to stay rooted in the Catholic Church, and to know what she teaches. They may have an “ecumenical spirit,” which is very noble and good, and a very important ministry in the Church. But, if they do not remain faithful to the teachings of the Church, they will separate themselves from the Church and become like the “blind leading the blind.” They become like “Lone Rangers,” and none of us are spiritual enough to take on that kind of mission. We become like a piece of drift-wood, carried along a stream, when we should be like trees, firmly planted in rich soil. If we do not become rooted we will continually be battered by confusion, doubts, and attacks from the enemy; and may even lose our faith in the end. We are each, only a part of the body of believers, and interdependent with the rest of the body. Even St. Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles and pagans, had to continually check that he was of one mind with the other Apostles, and preaching the same Gospel. (Gal. 2:2). God wants to reunite all Christians into one body, the “body of Christ,” not to synchronize them and have them merely co-existing along side of each other.

The Catholic Church recommends that Catholics involved in ministry, especially prophecy and teaching, have a good spiritual director who can help them test what they receive against the Word of God, as interpreted by the Catholic Church. This was necessary for all the Saints—and God is calling all of us to be Saints. Some sources that I recommend in regards to Church teaching, which can be accessed on the internet, are:

St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology (Scott Hahn)
Catholic Culture
Catholic Answer
The Vatican
Encyclopedia of the Catholic Church

These web sites have extensive libraries, with thousands of articles that can be down-loaded. All of these web sites are in union with the Pope and faithful to the teachings of the Catholic Church.



By Lenora Grimaud

“If God is for us, who can be against us?”
Rom. 8:31

Hope, trust, and confidence are so interconnected that they are almost one in the same. The virtue of “hope” enables us to put our total trust in God, and the more we trust in Him, the more we have confidence in God. In order to understand what confidence in God really is, it is helpful to understand the meaning of hope, trust, and confidence. Webster defines hope, trust, and confidence as:

Hope: to cherish a desire with anticipation; trust; to desire with expectation of obtainment; to expect with confidence; someone or something on which hopes are centered. [“Our hope is in the Lord, in whom we trust”].

Trust: assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something; one in which confidence is placed; to place confidence—depend.

Confidence: a feeling or consciousness of one’s powers or of reliance on one’s circumstances; faith or belief that one will act in a right, proper, or effective way; the quality or state of being certain: certitude.

In order to have self-confidence, we have to hope or desire something, first. This hope or desire leads us to trust in ourselves. The more we trust ourselves to do something, the more our self-confidence grows. But, this paper is not about self-confidence, it is about Confidence in God. Our confidence and trust in God must be greater than our confidence and trust in any human being, including ourselves. Only God is truly worthy of our confidence and trust. All humans fall short; we are fallible and weak, and limited in our self knowledge. Even the greatest Saints and those who have proven to be trustworthy cannot be completely, and at all times, worthy of our explicit confidence and trust in them, unless our faith and trust is in God, first.

Children will ask their parents, “Don’t you trust me?” Wise parents know in their heart that the answer is “no” and think to themselves, “My child, if you knew as much about human nature as I do, you would not even ask such a question.” The most they can do is to trust their children’s intentions. St. Peter declared to Jesus, “Though all lose faith in you, I will never lose faith.” (Mat. 26:33). He also said: “Why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” (John 13:37). Peter had good intentions, but trusted in his self rather than in God. Before the words were hardly out of his mouth, he denied Jesus three times. Jesus did not choose his Apostles because they were worthy of his trust—they all failed him. He chose them because of their faith in God. They were humble enough to be able to receive the gift of faith from God—from the Father. God calls us to love everyone, but he doesn’t call us to trust everyone. There is a vast difference.

Secular Humanism says that relationships fail because of a lack of trust. Humanism does not acknowledge God, so trust in ourselves and others is necessary. But, relationships do not fail because of a lack of trusting others or ourselves. They fail because of a lack of love, commitment, and trust in God. They fail when we only trust ourselves or when we only trust in others. We trust in others when we no longer trust in ourselves, and we trust ourselves when we no longer trust in others. We can’t do both at the same time, unless our trust is wholly in God. Some people trust in their selves and in others, but because they do not trust in God, first, they have no discernment. They often trust in others when they should trust in their selves and trust in their selves when they should trust in others. They are like the “blind leading the blind.”

We can trust in the goodness we see in others, but we cannot trust that they are “all good”—only God is good. We cannot trust that they have no sin in them or that they are incapable of losing goodness. We cannot trust that they will never hurt us or betray us. The same is true for our own selves. We can trust in the virtues we see in others, but we cannot trust that they have no vices, or that their virtues will never diminish. We can trust that others love us by the way they treat us and others. They may have good intentions but until they can live them out, they are not free to love. However, even the greatest lovers do not love perfectly. We can trust that others love us unconditionally, but without the grace of God, this is not possible. We cannot trust that they will always love us unconditionally, or always forgive us, unless God gives us the grace to trust them.

We can trust in the ability, strengths, talents, and gifts of others, as well as ourselves, but we cannot trust that these abilities, strengths, talents, and gifts are perfect or omniscient—that they are not lacking or limited—or that they will last forever. Those who put their trust in the Lord do not take ownership of any of their virtues, gifts, talents, or strengths. They know that they are not permanent. They look to the Lord to meet the needs of everyone, through others as well as their own self. They are open to the Lord working through others. They have faith that the Lord is working through others, in spite of their vices, weaknesses, and poverty.

We can trust in the “truth” of others—their integrity, beliefs, values, and actions—but only if they are in conformity with the “truth” of God. The same is true of trusting in our own truth. We cannot trust that what we and others call good, today, we won’t call evil, tomorrow. We cannot trust that what we and others call evil, today, we won’t call good, tomorrow. If we trust in the “truth” of ourselves or others when it is not in conformity with the truth of God, the relationship, as well as ourselves and others will be destroyed.

Proud people trust in their own goodness, virtues, abilities, strengths, talents, gifts, and truth, seeing their selves as better than others, and are not able to trust in the goodness, virtues, abilities, strengths, talents, gifts, and truth of others. Fearful people trust in the goodness, virtues, abilities, strengths, talents, gifts, and truth of others, seeing them as better than they are, and are not able to recognize or use their own gifts and talents.

Marriages, families, friendships, and even Religious Communities are falling apart because we put our trust in people, rather than in God. When our leaders and loved ones fail to live up to our expectations—to be God for us—we are crushed and abandon the relationship. Certainly, we should choose spouses, friends, and leaders who are trustworthy, faithful, and like-minded, but that cannot be the reason we stay in those relationships. Eventually, they will all let us down. We will even let ourselves down, when we fail to live out the unrealistic expectations we set for ourselves. We stay in the relationships because of love and commitment—and because our trust and confidence is in God, “who works all things for good.” We have nothing to fear or to lose. Our self confidence and trust in others needs to be balanced, and based on wisdom and knowledge. We can only trust others to do what is in their power to do, in accordance with their nature and their gifts.

People leave the Church for the same reasons. They don’t trust the teachings of the Church—the Word of God—because they trust too much in their own understanding, or in false teachers who say what they want to hear. They reject the Priesthood because of individual priests that failed to be worthy of their trust and adoration. If our trust is in God, we will not turn any human being into an idol of worship—even the Pope. We honor the Pope and respect his authority because of his Office—because Jesus chose him. We can obey and trust him as long as he doesn’t abandon Jesus Christ and his teaching. If we have placed all our trust and confidence in God, we will know the truth, and “the truth will set us free.”

There are three major reasons for the breakdown in Marriages, Religious Communities and associations, and the Church. First, some of those in authority have major control issues. They abuse their authority by taking authority over others that has not been given to them by God, or even their Office. They use their authority over others to implement their own agendas instead of God’s Will; to fill their own need for glory, honor, and power. They are often given over to pride, presumption, and tyranny over others. The second reason is that many people have dependency issues. They give away their power to those who are stronger or are in authority. They abandon their personal responsibilities and are continually tossed back and forth. They are often besieged by fear, anger, guilt, and depression; and resent those in authority, and those to whom they have given their power. The third reason is that many have issues of competition and jealousy. Instead of using their gifts for the common good, in mutuality and interdependence, they compete with those in authority and those who appear to be more gifted. These are not evil people. In fact, most are very good people, but people who are very human; people who have been caught unawares when they were put to the test, because they failed to rely on the power of the Holy Spirit, and trusted in their own selves instead; people who have lost their faith or no longer trust in the Lord.

Many marriages and friendships, as well as communal relationships, are ended before they even begin. This is because there was no authentic relationship to start with; because of rash commitments without knowing how to make choices; because of not really knowing the others that are involved in the relationship before making a commitment. In addition to this problem, we are all constantly changing and growing. We are different people from day to day. Spouses will never be the same people they were on their wedding day. The same is true for all relationships. One thing is necessary—that we share the same “truth,” and that, that truth is the truth of God. “It takes three to get married”—a man, a woman, and Jesus (Bishop Sheen). A marriage without God is doomed from the start. The same is true of friendships and Religious Communities. There has to be a common mind and a common purpose producing a union in love and convictions. (Phil.2:2).

If a believer is yoked to an unbeliever in marriage, eventually, both will become believers, or both will become unbelievers, or the marriage will come to an end. When the marriage ends, both the believer and the unbeliever are severely wounded. For the marriage to continue until death, the believer would have to receive extraordinary graces, and the unbeliever would, most probably, distance his/herself from any kind of intimacy in the relationship. This is true of Religious Communities, as well. In some Religious Communities there are many “Lone Rangers” and a lot of dysfunction: Authoritarianism and Dependency.

The answer to these problems can only be found by putting our total trust and confidence in God, and abandoning ourselves to the will of God. God’s will is manifested in his only Son, Jesus Christ. God’s will is for us to love everyone, and to lay down our lives for the sake of the Kingdom of God—lay down our will when it is opposed to God’s will; lay down our own ambitions, plans, and agenda when they are not motivated by love; lay down our own wants and needs when they take priority over the good of others; and even to lay down our personal rights and dignity when love calls for it. When we are in union with Jesus Christ, we know God’s will for every situation we are placed in. We know who we can trust and who we can’t trust. We can confidently stand our ground, and neither be tyrants nor slaves of anyone.

If our trust and confidence is in God, we have nothing to fear—even if the people of America were to elect an Anti-Christ as President of the U. S. Love would call us to give this elected official the honor and respect due his Office, and to pray fervently for his conversion of heart. We would continue to obey God rather than man, but we would not run away; unless God led us elsewhere. Perhaps, this Anti-Christ would be another St. Paul, who was converted by Jesus, rather than his disciples. This is possible because our trust is in God, who alone is worthy of our trust. St. Paul claimed that he was a “prisoner of Jesus Christ,” while he was in prison: “So I, Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you pagans…” (Eph.3:1). He did not see himself as a prisoner of the Romans because he was a free man, and “chained” to Jesus. As Scripture says, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” If we are in union with Jesus Christ, God is for us, and nothing can bring us down or rob us of life—not slavery, prison, or even death. Of this, I am certain, and this is Confidence in God.