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Autumn, 1994 - Volume 1, Number 4

York Township, IL Oct. 1, 1994. This is obviously not a monthly newsletter. Be that as it may, this issue at least will contain a bit of news, just to keep me honest about the title.

OK, enough items for now. It's time for an extroduction, or more exactly, an introduction to the last of the Toes' Newsletters. Since the start of this in January, I've written a few lines about how I feel, and about my faith in God's providence. This issue will be a bit lengthier than normal. First I have to finish my thoughts from the last issue, and then I'd like to finish up, to close this editor - episode of my life with, a commentary about the imminent catastrophes that we seem to be hearing about from all corners. I don't expect to come out with another issue, but then, who knows?

He's calling you, and it's on the level!

Since I ended the previous issue with a few comments on Christ's multi-level call to holiness, I'd like to expand on that theme to get this issue off on a good fooding. As a refresher, the three levels are:

First of all, I'd like to say that the three level concept is my way of looking at it, not a dogma of the Church, or anything like that. Second of all, I should mention that the idea of levels is not original, as it has been presented in similar forms before (see, for instance, the introduction to Veritatis Splendor, Pope John Paul II's recent encyclical, or Mountains and Valleys in the Spiritual Life by Fr. Benedict Groschel, CFR). Third of all, these "levels" do not really exist, they are just a way of expressing the idea that some are called to a deeper spirituality. Last of all, possible attainment of any particular "level" can not be delineated by such factors as personality, intelligence, or how long one has been "working at it".

God does not love someone on the third level any more than He does someone at the first level, nor even more than a "real bad sinner". In fact, quite the converse is true: The levels demonstrate a progressively greater love of God on the part of the pilgrim in response to God's constant love. The other sources use different terms, and mention additional levels, but to keep it simple and develop the theme, these three will suffice.

Level 1: Keeping the commandments.

In the very beginning, God set down rules for us to live by. He told Adam and Eve to stay away from one tree. It was for our own good, but human nature and the devil will work towards our own bad, it seems. The ten commandments, then are in place to help us to live a good life. Not good for God, mind you, He's already all-good, and our being good "to" him doesn't mean much in the same sense as our being good to others.

This good life is meant to be good for us and for society in general. Just imagine for a minute how wonderful a place the world would be if everyone just kept the ten commandments! It may not be perfect, and it may not be loving, but it sure would be peaceful. No murders, no adultery, no lies, no envy (covetousness). It sure would set the stage for level 2 in a nice way. But by the fact that they are called the ten commandments, and not the ten suggestions, we can safely assume that these are at least a minimum requirement.

Level 2: The Good Samaritan.

Throughout the gospels, Jesus is challenging the Scribes, the Pharisees, and us to think beyond the letter of the law, and to find the love in it. In fact, the story of the good samaritan came up because someone asked "Who is my neighbor?" Christ's constant answer was to stop thinking of where you should draw the line, and just love everyone, even your enemies. When Peter asked "How many times should I forgive my brother? Is seven times enough? Again Christ's answer was to stop drawing limits. God's love for us is unconditional, and unlimited. Our response should not stop short if we wish God to forgive us more than seven times.

So in general, this second level is a call to stop limiting ourselves at the letter of the law, but to proceed in a spirit of love unbounded by a self centered sense of "fairness". It may be hard to accept, but what's fair isn't what's important. e.g. "Turn the other cheek", "If he takes your shirt, offer him your cloak also", etc.

Level 3: If you would be perfect.

Christ's ultimate challenge, as recorded in the Gospel of St. Matthew, Chapter 19, verses 20-21 is to the young man who said "All these (commandments) I have observed, what still do I lack?" Christ's response was for all of us to hear: "If you would be perfect, sell all that you have, give the money to the poor, and you will have treasures in heaven, then come follow me." This challenge contains a promise. It is a call to holiness with a promise of treasures in heaven. When Christ says to rid ourselves of everything, He means everything: including those bits of pride that keep us from following him totally unburdened. The old slogan that "You can't take it with you" takes on a slightly more inclusive meaning. I call it total abandonment to Christ. I know I'm a long way from being able to even think of this level of commitment, yet I know that it would be the best thing for me. Go figure...

This is one calling that Christ himself concedes will not be heeded by most. Nonetheless, we are called. He is waiting for our response. A frequently cited example of giving up the world for the gospel life in today's times is Mother Theresa of Calcutta, and her order of the Missionaries of Charity. She truly believes in the words "Whatever you do to these, the least of my brethren, you do also to me." Her sisters own nothing, are taught to trust Jesus for their every need, and are instructed to seek the face of Jesus in the poorest of the poor. I'm reminded again of one of her sisters who was washing a leper while a visiting American looked on. The young man looked at her task and said "I wouldn't do that for a million dollars." The nun smiled, thought about it for a while, and replied "You know, neither would I."

God promises us eternal life as our reward for keeping the covenant of his commandments. The rewards are richer as the response comes closer to that total abandonment. A good parallel is drawn with the idea of God's covenant relationship with His people, as discussed by Scott and Kimberly Hahn in Rome Sweet Home, the book on their conversion to the Catholic Church. God's first covenant was with Adam and Eve. Here he promised the riches of paradise, if they would abstain from the fruit of one tree. His second was with Noah and his family, where He promised never again to destroy the Earth by Water, and again commanded them to be fruitful and multiply. His third was with Abraham and his descendants. Because of Abraham's submission to His will, the Lord promised that his offspring would be more numerous than the grains of sand in the dessert. His forth was with the people of Israel, when He gave His law to Moses, and promised the land of Milk and Honey. His fifth covenant, through Jesus Christ, was with all of mankind. Here He promised eternal life if we would follow Him.

(ed. note: see issue 2.1 for an apology for my misunderstanding of "Covenent")

Now for the parallel. God progressively includes more in his covenants: they grow in who is involved, and in the rewards for obedience. The final covenant is the lasting covenant. According to St. John of the Cross, He has given us everything; He has given us His Son! So it is with this multi-level invitation. God calls us to respond to His Commandments, His Will, and His Love. These are all one and the same, just presented with a different flavor.

I heard a priest giving a talk on God's mercy, and he included a story of his own personal revelation which fits this theme to a tee. He was preparing a sermon for the next sunday to go along with the gospel which was on the prodigal son. He thought he had approached this story from about every angle imaginable, over the years, and didn't know what else to say about it. He prayed, and asked God to help him understand the meaning behind the parable.

As he prayed, he saw himself standing on the crest of a hill. beside him was an older man who was looking at the horizon. As they looked, he saw a younger man coming over a hill in the distance. The older man ran off to meet the younger. As they got closer, the priest had the sense that this was God, the Father and the Son, approaching each other. As they met and embraced, suddenly the Son was raised up on a cross, and the priest heard the Father say "This is my beloved son". Then the priest was aware of many other people swarming past him over the hills, some stopping in the intervening valleys for a rest before continuing up the next hill, others running down and up, but only a few actually reaching the foot of the cross.

While looking at the scene, the priest heard a voice say "Come as close as you can to the cross". This personal revelation put a different twist on the story of the prodigal son: God's invitation is there for the accepting. We are all sons (children) of God in Jesus Christ, and we can come back to the Father through Him, no matter what our offenses. This goes hand in hand with the comment I made about the rules of the Church being there to make people saints. We don't have to be a Francis of Assisi with the stigmata, nor a Mother Theresa of Calcutta, looking for the face of Jesus in the poorest of the poor. Saints can be any personality, from simple and humble to a flamboyant, fiery orator.

Following Christ, even in the total abandonment "level" does not mean that you loose your identity. God created you as you are, and loves you as you are, including your personality (even the hairs of your head are numbered - Mt 10:30). Following - imitating - Christ leads not to oblivion, but to perfection in God's plan for you. This is the real "all you can be", and the Army can't touch it!

Is it the End of the World?

Now, for part 2, a discussion of proported impending cataclysms. I've been hearing about this decade, the '90s, for years, as something of a culmination of the Christian era, but then people have always though that the turn of a millennium was significant, dangerous, and steeped in the mystic. The year 1000 A.D. was brought in more with fasting and fear than with bells and beer. Astrologers say that 2000 years is the time it takes for the earth's wobble to progress through one sign of the zodiac in the "belt" of constellations (i.e. which constellation the sun is actually "in" on the first day of spring). This is where we get that "dawning of the age of aquarius" from. To separate inspiration from superstition is sometimes difficult because of the "want to believes" in our beliefs. What I want to do here is put down a list of the different points that I've come across, and treat them with objectivity. I'll reserve judgement of myself till the end.

When I was in the seminary in Cedar Lake, long ago and far away, I heard about the founder of the order I was studying under, St. John Bosco, being a mystic of sorts, in that he had numerous dreams and visions about the Church, and it's future. One dream prompted him to build the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians in Turin, Italy. There are two dates on the top of the face of the building: the first is the year of the church's construction, the late 1800's (don't know the exact date), and the other is 199_ with the last digit left out. This date was to be approximate, though he knew it exactly, of when the Catholic Church would be changed dramatically.

That started me wondering. I eventually left the seminary feeling that my "calling" was towards marriage and a family. My wonder expanded to other philosophies, and I considered such things as the predictions of the second coming by Jean Dixon (a child born in the middle east about October of 1961 would lead the world to peace and unify it under one religion). Other points included: the imminent raising of the "lost continent of Atlantis", the predictions of Edgar Cayce about our technological civilization gone haywire once again and therefore destroying itself as Atlantis and Lemeuria had done 10 and 20 thousand years ago respectively, and interpretations of Nostradamus' prophecies. In short, I took in a lot of different view points, and they all seemed to point to the same conclusions.

I began to formulate my own picture of what was going to happen, and to believe in that picture. I've been telling people for years that I'll only live to age 52, just because that's in the year 2001, and I'll have seen the "changing of the guard". I've frowned on insurance and saving for the future because I believed that the economy of the world would be totally destroyed anyway. Perhaps an earthquake would send California into the Pacific, perhaps a melting of the polar ice would flood the coasts destroying New York and Los Angeles, and thus our economy. Whatever the catastrophe, I was sure it was coming, and I was sure it was deserved by an unkind mankind, even needed to "purify" the earth.

Since I was "in the know", I was somehow special, and would be guided by some "power" to safety. I spent the majority of my adult life (so far) in a kind of elitist stupor - "I know something that you don't - Na na na na na na" I tried to tell a select few about it at times, and tried to sound mysterious, ominous, and fatalistic. Once my kids came along, I kind of let it all slide. I wanted to hedge my bets, so I got insurance policies, and the like, but I still believed it and thought about it from time to time. But even as the nineties came into being, I still thought of it as off in the distance.

I've already mentioned about my beliefs in the occult tainting my beliefs in what the Catholic Church said, but it was easy to still be a "Catholic", because I knew how to rationalize. If I didn't believe some precept, it could easily be discharged as old-fashioned, and therefore unimportant. At times, I would accuse the Church of knowing the "truth" but hiding it from the faithful for misguided reasons (e.g. reincarnation would lead people to think that they could wait till the next life to repent, so denounce it!) Boy, was I sick! I was sick with the same self-importance that is conquering all of society today.

Since my initial conversion experience back in April or May of '92 (I say initial, because conversion is an on-going process: it puts you on the right road, but you've still got to travel it), I've done a lot of reading and had occasion to look at my life full of predictions and predilections in a new light. Also, a lot more information has come into view. Perhaps all that occult stuff had a hint of truth in it, but the result of the message back then was confused and backwards. Anyway, the new points to ponder are generally "Catholic" in nature, in that their source is private revelations to saints and modern-day devotees, and yet in the real sense of the word catholic, they are universal - for the whole world to hear and heed.

All of these sound ominous, yet the real message is quite the opposite. In all of these messages, Our Lady says that we are not to fear, but to turn to God in our hearts, to trust in God and His providence and mercy. She says to mistrust those who set dates for catastrophes. No one knows the hour nor the day. It is not fated to be: in fact, the seventh secret of Medjugorje - a chastisement - has already been eliminated because of peoples' response to Our Lady's call to prayer, conversion, fasting, forgiveness, and peace. Remember Ninevah and it's conversion? The town was spared even though God told them through Jonah that it was to be destroyed. Why shouldn't we know about dates? Because they lead us to fear and yet to postponing our response to God's call.

Now, for my summation. Yes, I believe that the world is about to face a great series of wake-up calls from God. I know that I will be stunned by them. They will not leave me unaffected. But the time for action is long overdue. Whether I live through it all to face the new dawn, or die at the very onset, is for God to know and me to find out when it happens. The way to prepare is not in gathering stores for the three days of darkness nor is it in stocking up your fallout shelter against a nuclear holocaust. The way to prepare is as Our Lady has instructed: turn to her Son, now, not out of fear when the light fails, but out of love for the light that he brings us now. Trust in God's plan for you, and know that it is not this life nor this world that you were born for, so don't be too enamored of it to give it up.

I've talked too long about these things, preached too much, yet I'm failing to live the messages myself, so my words fall shortened by my actions. It's time for me to start living the messages of Our Lady, Queen of Peace, and let God speak through my actions if it pleases Him. I know He loves me as much as He loves anyone, so I'm not special, not even in my love for Him - that's His gift to me, not mine to Him. I don't intend to offer any pretense to be so any more. In living the messages, I hope to become less vocal, and to temper my actions as if I lived in a fishbowl. Pray for me in this endeavor.

Points to Ponder

Love is not a concept; love is not a feeling or emotion; Love is a Person. This is a mystery about the Trinity. The Holy Spirit is the expression of the love relationship between the Father and the Son. This Love relationship is manifested in the Person of the Holy Spirit. (Thank you, Bishop Slattery.)

As unusual, Toes' Newsletter is published monthly or bimonthly or quarterly, as the publisher finds time. The publisher wishes to state that views expressed herein are not only his own, but may be of significant value when used in a conscientiously applied program of spiritual hygiene and regular attendance at the Lord's table. Next issue's topic: Science in the age of Rationalism (maybe). My love to all of you, and may God bless you, your families and those you hold dear. First class postage paid at Villa Park, or wherever I end up buying these stamps.

References and links

The book Catholic Prophecy by Yves Dupont/TAN books, speaks of many of the prophecy points...

The book Medjugorje-The Message by Wayne Weible (Paraclete Press) also speaks of some points...

A couple of web links to the Three Days of Darkness(1) Also ==> Three Days of Darkness(2)

©1994, James A. Croteau - e-mail:
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