“Soar Like an Eagle” – My Pro-Life Retreat Reflections #2

“Soar Like an Eagle” – My Pro-Life Retreat Reflections #2

Soar Like an Eagle

One day a prairie chicken found an egg and sat on it until it hatched.

Although the prairie chicken didn’t know it, the egg was an eagle egg, abandoned for some reason.

That’s how an eagle came to be born into a family of prairie chickens.

  • While the eagle is the greatestof all birds, soaring above the heights with grace and ease, the prairie chicken doesn’t even know how to fly.
  • In fact, prairie chickens are so lowly that they eat garbage.
  • As you can imagine, the little eagle, being raised in a family of prairie chickens, thoughtit was a prairie chicken.
  • It walked around, ate garbage, and clucked like a prairie chicken.
  • One day it looked up to see a majestic bald eagle soar through the air, dipping and turning.
  • When it asked its family what it was, they responded, “It’s an eagle. But you could never be like that because you are just a prairie chicken.”
  • Then they returned to pecking the garbage.
  • The misplaced eagle spent its wholelife looking up at eagles, longing to soar with them.
  • It never once occurred to it to lift its wings and try to fly.
  • The little eagle died thinking it was just a prairie chicken.

We live in a fallen world, a world that tells us that our happiness consists of material pleasures, monetary success, and popularity.

But in reality, those things are just little bits of worldly garbage.

We are meant for greater things, because we are God’s own children, created in his image and likeness and redeemed by his own eternal Son, Jesus Christ.

WE ARE CALLED TO BE SUPERMEN/GOD-MEN

Archbishop Fulton Sheen wrote about a “Higher Life” …

Christ’s reason for taking upon Himself a human nature was to pay for sin by death on the cross and to bring us a higher life … This higher life which is divine, distinct from the human, is called grace, because it is gratis or a free gift of God …

 

Man may live at three different levels: the sensate, the intellectual, and the divine. These may be likened to a three-story house.

 

The sensate level, or the first floor, represents those who deny any other reality except the pleasures that come from the flesh. Their house is rather poorly furnished and is capable of giving intermittent thrills which quickly dry up. The occupant of this first floor is not interested in being told of higher levels of existence; in fact, he may even deny their existence.

 

On the second floor, there is the intellectual level of existence, that of the scientist, the historian, the journalist, the humanist; the man who has brought to a peak all of the powers of human reason and human will. This is a much more comfortable kind of existence, and far more satisfying to the human spirit. Those on the second floor may think their floor is “a closed universe,” regarding as superstitious those who desire a higher form of life.

 

But there is actually a third floor which is the floor of grace by which the human heart is illumined by truths which reason cannot know; by which the will is strengthened by a power quite beyond all psychological aids, and the heart is entranced with the love which never fails; which gives a peace that cannot be found on the two lower levels …

 

The world, therefore, is divided into the ‘once born’ and the ‘twice born’: between the sons of the old Adam, and the sons of the new Adam, Christ; between the unregenerate and the regenerate. There is a real inequality in the world. There are ‘superior’ and ‘inferior’ peoples, but the basis of distinction is not color, race, nationality, or wealth. The superior people of the earth are the supermen, the God-men; the inferior people are those who have been called to that superior state but, as yet, have not embraced it. 

Boil everything down, and we see that this is at the heart of the battle today. While we are called to be “Supermen/God-men,” the “influencers” of our culture are pulling us down to that base and brute level of existence. These “influencers,” known as the “ruling class,” are actually the “inferior people” who dwell on the first two floors, who believe and promote that we are nothing more than another animal species. The media, Hollywood, TV, universities, public schools, theater, the arts, literature — they relentlessly promote the false gods of sexual hedonism and radical narcissism. “If it feels good, just do it.” This is the “law of animals.”

Under the power of supernatural grace, we are called to lift ourselves up, along with the entire world, into the “higher life” of the principals, morals, ethics, values, and virtues of God that raises every society out of darkness and chaos into the light of truth and peace.

President Ronald Reagan once famously stated, “We maintain the peace through our strength; weakness only invites aggression.” Spiritual warfare is about our resolve to become strong in God’s supernatural power; the only power capable of “shining out” the dark and aggressive satanic forces of evil (Ephesians 6:10-12).

 

The Old Revolution

In our times, perhaps more than any other age, we have been ravaged by an assault on the very essence of who we are as “children of your heavenly Father.”

Relativism is, in essence, the belief that there are no universal truths … no Divine Revelation we are meant to follow. Relativism holds that each one of us can create and adhere to whatever “we” hold as true. So, you have your idea of what is true, and I have mine. As long as we don’t offend anyone, we are free to invent our own set of truths.

Within the Church, relativism is found in the rise of “Cafeteria Catholicism” (choosing which Church teachings we want to follow), which has been rarely challenged by a weak clergy of our times. The unfortunate laxity of discipline has permitted confusion and strife where there should be clarity and harmony, an authentic unity based on the truth. As a result, the modern trend among those who believe and teach falsehoods that directly contradict the Church’s teaching is to consider these pockets of dissent as merely “differing tribes” within the Catholic Church.

Brutalism is a movement in architecture that flourished from the 1950s to the mid-1970s, descending from the modernist architectural movement of the early 20th century. Literally, it was revolt against beauty. In the Church, it was revolt against “sacred beauty,” as churches around the planet were gutted out and turned into conference centers or, worse yet, types of bunkers or bomb shelters. As the name admits, it is a rupture from any Divine connection as we are brought down to our “brute nature” as merely another animal species.

Narcissism exploded in the 1960s with the sexual revolution. As Jeffrey Kuhner wrote, “For the past 50 years, every major institution has been captured by the radical secular left. The media, Hollywood, TV, universities, public schools, theater, the arts, literature — they relentlessly promote the false gods of sexual hedonism and radical individualism. Conservatives have ceded the culture to the enemy. Tens of millions of unborn babies have been slaughtered; illegitimacy rates have soared; divorce has skyrocketed; pornography is rampant; drug use has exploded; sexually transmitted diseases such as AIDS have killed millions; birth control is a way of life; sex outside of wedlock has become the norm; countless children have been permanently damaged — their innocence lost forever — because of the proliferation of broken homes; and sodomy and homosexuality are celebrated openly. America has become the new Babylon.”

However, there is an amazing and beautiful revolution rising up against “Relativism, Brutalism and Narcissism.” And, it is being led by the young people of our times.

The New Revolution

The greatest sermon ever proclaimed is “The Sermon on the Mount” (Matthew, chapters 5-7). Recently, I half-joked that Jesus is my personal trainer. Throughout the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus calls us to a “new normal” or a “high life.”

While, all around us, the prairie chickens of the media, Hollywood, TV, universities, public schools, theater, the arts, and literature are constantly trying to say we, too, are nothing more than the hedonistic and barbarous models and examples they portray … that “this is normal,” Jesus is telling us to leave the prairie chickens behind and set our wings and fly as the “children of your heavenly Father” we are.

Countering relativism, brutalism and narcissism are “Truth, Beauty and Goodness” – These three elements are often understood as being among the transcendentals. Transcendentals are the timeless and universal attributes of being. They are the properties of all beings. They reflect the divine origin of all things and the unity of all truth and reality in God. These elements are among the deepest realities.

Many today – particularly young people – are discovering what it means to fly. They are sick and tired of the “spiritual garbage” they have been force fed for 50+ years, and they are embracing these “transcendentals” as the way for us to fly high as children of God.

Truth brings a sense of meaning and purpose to life. Knowing there are essential truths of right and wrong, good and bad, leads them to “aspire” and strive” … to set their wings and fly as beautiful eagles transcending the barbarity of our “prairie chicken” times. Coach Vince Lombardi was a daily Mass goer, and often served Mass in the morning while winning Super Bowls in the afternoon. Vince Lombardi once said, “Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence.”

Beauty … in particular, “sacred beauty,” elevates the soul. People want to walk into a church and be led to understand “God is there.” Whether it is architecture, art, music or liturgy, they know this sacred beauty is due God, and that it assists them in their belief. They want to be moved to whisper and fall to their knees when they enter that “sacred place.” They want to encounter the awe of His presence.

Goodness comes naturally to one who has died to themselves and rose to a new life as a child of God. This is the essence of the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus is saying it is not about following a rule book but about “just being” that person. In my 32 years of priesthood, I can attest to the fact that it is the truly “devout” Catholic who “can’t not” take care of need when they see it. Like the Good Samaritan, they can simply find no excuse to walk by someone needing to be lifted up.

“The natural law is written and engraved in the soul of each and every man, because it is human reason ordaining him to do good and forbidding him to sin … But this command of human reason would not have the force of law if it were not the voice and interpreter of a higher reason to which our spirit and our freedom must be submitted” (Pope Leo XIII).

Join the “New Revolution” and fly high as a child of God!

“But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” – Isaiah 40:31

 

Okay, then this begs the question: “How are we best suited to receive this supernatural grace?”

 

3 STEPS FOR SOIL/SOUL PREPARATION

Springtime is when farmers, after a cold Winter, set out to prepare for another “planting season.” How farmers prepare the soil acts as an excellent analogy for how we must prepare the “soul” to receive the seed of faith – belief in the supernatural power of God – and allow it to break open (germinate) in order to reach its fullest potential … how we become “Supermen/God-men” in the power of grace.

Recall the Parable of the Sower:

When a large crowd gathered, with people from one town after another
journeying to Jesus, he spoke in a parable.
“A sower went out to sow his seed.
And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path and was trampled,
and the birds of the sky ate it up.
Some seed fell on rocky ground, and when it grew,
it withered for lack of moisture.
Some seed fell among thorns,
and the thorns grew with it and choked it.
And some seed fell on good soil, and when it grew,
it produced fruit a hundredfold.”
After saying this, he called out,
“Whoever has ears to hear ought to hear.”

Using the soil preparation analogy of farming, the following are best practices of an authentically strong Catholic. If you obey Christ and His Church 100% (remain loyal), and practice the following, you will be strong in God’s supernatural grace, and you will live in peace.

  1. Clear the Land. Remove Residue: Remove any wooden residue and weeds that the soil might contain. These can challenge your planting plans, give it a not so pleasant look and even damage or kill the plants. The spiritual equivalent is …

Go to Confession – Frequently! (at least once a month) What are the sins in our life that can choke off the Divine Life? The seed of faith thrives in the soil made pure by the Sacrament of Confession.

 

Fasting – Fasting “detaches” us from things we place ahead of God; it disciplines the soul to choose God over things. Fasting is a way in which the Lord gives the underdog victory. Fasting tells God you are “quite serious” about your relationship with Him.

  1. Plow, spade or till the area: Hard clay soil does not allow the seed to enter in and break open. The hard heart is the “superficial heart,” settling for the base inferior life. It is the seed that never geminates and breaks open to reach its full potential. It believes it is just a seed and will always be just a seed, as it flounders in an empty darkness, searching for the next “quick fix” of carnal pleasure. The spiritual equivalent to plowing is …

Adoration – Adoration is the most amazing plow that loosens the hardness of our hearts. It is prayer from the heart that “opens” us to be that meek and humble softened soul that wants nothing more than to please God, whom they love so much. In Adoration, we more easily cry out, “My Lord and my God!” Adoration doesn’t require Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. God dwells in the Tabernacle. Come early and/or stay late for Mass just to “be with Him” in silence.

 

Prayer – Yes, to formal prayer, but be in conversation with God all day long. Develop that personal love relationship with God Who is “with you” always.

 

Prayer with BELIEF – St. Bernard of Clairvaux said, “Timid prayer does not pierce heaven, because immoderate fear binds the soul so that prayer, far from flying upward, cannot even come out. Being lukewarm, it grows weak in its flight and falls because it has no strength. Prayer that is faithful, humble, and fervent will undoubtedly pierce heaven and it will certainly not return fruitless.”

  1. Fertilize the Soil: Fertilizing enriches the soil and ensures your plants grow well. We must feed our soul with rich nutrients. These are spiritual nutrients we must add to the soul to enrich it …

Mary – The first rich nutrient is our devotion to the Mother of God. The Life of Christ flourishes in the soul that loves His mother. Jesus can deny nothing to His mother. Keep Mary close, and Christ will be close to you.

 

Truth – Add the rich nutrients of Divine Revelation: Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition. Also, be an avid reader of the writings from the saints and strong spiritual leaders of our time. Let these be your “influencers.”

 

Treasure Chest of Our Catholic Faith – Also, we must feed our soul with all of the beautiful jewels from the treasure chest of our Catholic faith: Daily devotions, sacramentals, etc. The rosary, saints, consecration, scapular, novenas, etc., etc. all enrich the soil of our souls, helping us to reach our highest potential. God has revealed these through Mary and the saints. Please God by loving what He has given to us.

 

Strong Relationships – Who are the “influencers” in our lives? The forces of the world are strong. Sometimes, we cannot avoid spending time with those who have allowed themselves to be influenced by these worldly, depraving forces. But, we need to do all we can to spend as much time as possible with others who are STRONG. Proverbs 27:17 says, “Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” Being with those who love the “higher life” helps you to stay in the “higher life,” and vice versa.

NB: We have been talking about a “higher life” or a “superior life.” Once you see this as a way to, pridefully, count yourself as “better than others,” grace will leave you in that moment. Pride will poison your soul and kill off the Divine Life. No, we must see it as a way to “inspire others” to want this “higher life” for them too.

 

Category Heart, Latest Posts, Mind, Soul