Archive | May, 2013

Why?

26 May

At the Moment of Death

Why?

That’s a loaded question… Why did I start this blog? Why did I return to the Catholic Church? Why do I have absolute certainty about my faith?

I had neurosurgery a few years ago and things didn’t go quite as planned. They lost me during the procedure and the complications and recovery are still ongoing. That was when I died the first time. I thought I was a good person, better than many at the least – I was in for a surprise. I learned that heaven, hell, and purgatory were very real places and that I found myself like a frightened child when I realized that if life were a test I had just failed. I was revived just in the nick of time. When things started to go south again before I even got out of the hospital I found myself on a ventilator with a poor prognosis and as soon as I could I scribbled “get priest”. I hadn’t set foot in a church in years, and here I was hoping last rites could save my soul, especially since I had become sure I would die again later that night. The priest did come, and once again I did die and was resuscitated. A Much better experience in many ways thanks to the sacraments of the Catholic Church.

This told me everything I needed to know about religion. I felt God’s presence but did not see him, nor did I see Christ, but the sacrament of last rites saved me from eternal Damnation. That was all I needed to know. My wife had a separate conversion experience in and adoration chapel while I was hospitalized, started by my request from that ventilator that she light a vigil candle and pray for my soul.

What you need to know about the second time I died is that I discovered just how much my wife meant to me, and when offered heaven without her, I found myself unable to let her go. I could more easily sever a limb than let her go. I knew I loved her, but until that moment I had no idea just how much. I was bonded to her more deeply than I had imagined. Inside we had developed a symbiosis and it is one of the key marital responsibilities to assist your spouse in achieving salvation – and though I had managed to save myself, I had not saved her yet. I had, however, already sown the seeds when I asked her to light a vigil candle for me the night before they lost me for the second time. She happened to light the candle in a local adoration chapel and was shocked to feel God when she entered the presence of the Eucharist, a personal gift she has retained to this day. It led very quickly to a full and deep conversion by a woman who had no previous positive experience with the Catholic Church. A conversion only strengthened by my miraculous recovery. She too experienced a sense of being torn apart and incomplete, regret at our having not had the son I had always wanted yet, and the hopelessness of a future without me. Just as I had experienced the hopeless of eternity without her.

This experience brought both of us separately to the same new understanding of the sacrament of marriage, the physical and spiritual bonding that occurs when a man and woman give themselves over to each other completely and without barriers. True love builds over time, it thrives on both adversity and success because it is not the experiences of them but the sharing of them that binds our souls. We had already innately understood much of this, but our experiences crystallized everything and sharpened our focus.

Alrighty then! Enough of my inane rumblings, and now to answer those questions…

I started this blog because I found myself all too often being asked for advice by others on how to improve or repair marital relationships, this seemed a more expedient delivery system that would fill a need to have some support for men who often feel alienated and alone when they try to discuss such things with others in or society – they have nowhere to turn. If I make a positive change in one just one mind or marriage then any amount of effort put into this blog is justified. if I’m really lucky they will continue to pay it forward and it might snowball into a wave of change for the better, for ourselves and for our children. I have 3 daughters and I fear for each of them in finding a faithful and loving husband who will cherish and revere them as I do their mother. They have been raised in a household with 2 parents very much in love and devoted to each other and I fear their expectations of a husband far exceed society’s guidelines. They have seen us weather storms by clinging more fiercely rather than pushing each other away and witnessed a symbiosis and a bond that they will seek for themselves and accept nothing less. Happiness is not like any other resource in that by propagating and sharing it, you own is only increased not decreased – how wondrous is the Natural Law that this should be true.

I returned to the Catholic Church because I discovered that purgatory was real, and that the sacrament of reconciliation was truly effective when I died the second time. Since my experience I do not regret my sins primarily because I injured another, my greatest offense is always against God when I fail. I finally understood the difference between perfect and imperfect contrition. What knowledge I gleaned from my experience fits perfectly within the framework of only the teachings of the Catholic Church. There was a definite change afterwards, one that has been permanent and many friends have commented that they like me much better since I died. Most importantly, the mass and adoration chapel feel like being thousands of miles from God but it is the closest I have found since my experience and it satiates my driving thirst to be close to him. Sin makes that feeling impossible, and is avoided at all costs. Following the Church’s teachings provides a sense of grace, direction, and comfort to both of us.

Because of my experiences in the hospital I am certain that there is a God, that there is a life after death, that heaven, hell, and purgatory are real, and that the Catholic Church does indeed hold the power to forgive sins. There is nothing logical about this, it is a matter of faith – and for me certainty. I could not bring anything back, no photos, or audio, or tri-Corder readings to provide acceptable scientific proof. I also know that others will say it was a process of brain death, or the dugs administered in ICU, regardless of the cause, the experience remains – and I lament the thought that I have lost my faith by having certainty. It’s much like the little boy who peeked at all his presents before Christmas morning and in doing so denied himself a wondrous moment of surprise and joy.

Sincerely,

Colin Corcoran
cc70458@gmail.com

**Please feel free to write or comment on this post, I’d really like to hear from those that are able to have this experience and how it is changing their marriage, their wives, and their lives.

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Finding a Community or Ode to the Latin Mass

26 May

The Latin mass is a thing of great beauty, timeless and awesome. From the beginnings of the church mass was celebrated, but at the Council of Trent in 1592 the mass was standardized across the known world and said in the common language of the people, Latin. Greek was the language of culture and education which is why the early gospels were transcribed into Greek while Latin was the vulgar or common language, hence the Latin Vulgate translation of the bible by St. Jerome. This meant that wherever the faithful gathered to celebrate mass, they had a common language to bind them together regardless of their local tongue. It also prevented misunderstandings and mistranslations from altering the message and meaning of the mass.

I would think it was just me, but I have personally witnessed all too often just what a huge emotional and spiritual impact the extraordinary form of the mass can have on people. It is during the latin mass that I feel closest to God, not as my friend but as my Father and Creator. I know that I am not the only person who finds the “Buddy Jesus” aspects often preached and ascribed in the Novus Ordo with the contemporary music and homilies carefully constructed not to make anyone uncomfortable. I need to be challenged spiritually. I also find great comfort in the ritual, in hearing the mass in the very language Peter himself would have used in Rome. I also had some Latin and brushed up a bit more because of the mass, and it is amazing how dramatically different the meaning of the Mass changes when I translate it for myself than listening to the modernized translations in the Novus Ordo. In addition my wife can veil herself without scowls from all the other women in the church, and snide comments about setting women back 100 years.

I realize that a great many people find comfort in the Novus Ordo, and there is no question about it being a valid form of the mass. However, it doesn’t touch my soul in the same way. It doesn’t bridge me to the timelessness of the church, and for whatever reason I wasn’t able to appreciate the majesty of God in the same way. I take great comfort in the ritual, unchanging for over a thousand years. I also admit that “traddies” as we are often called, a semi-derogatory term for those who follow the teachings of the church – all the teachings — seem to gravitate there. Yes that includes Birth control, fasting before mass, and accepting that once we have entered into a sacrament before God such as marriage that backing out is just as unthinkable as the though of Jesus changing his mind about the salvation of mankind.

I would encourage everyone, including non-Catholics to visit an extraordinary form mass (a Latin mass) if for nothing more than to see and hear living history in the music and unchanging ritual. Most groups have translations of the mass with instructions for participation available and they have veils available for those women who do not own a mantilla of their own. If nothing else you should see if it touches your heart the way it touched mine.

At this point you’re probably wondering what this has to do with marriage. For me, holding my wife’s hand during our first extraordinary form mass together at St. Patrick’s in North Little Rock, AR., where we had gone after hurricane Katrina had just unraveled or lives was an amazing experience. I felt as though I was one with her and close to God at the same time. The sermon was by a French priest in thickly accented English about the arrogance of Americans not only in the social issues of our world but in our failure to live our faith, as a group, by assuming that the Natural Law and Catholic Church teachings change to meet the current political philosophy of the day. He blasted “Cafeteria Catholics”, Divorce, and birth control in addition to our reticence to address social issues.

The congregation stayed respectfully put, unlike at my home parish where the one priest with the moral courage to speak unpopular truths was regularly disrespected by people making a show of putting away their check books or walking out of mass early. It was in that Latin Mass that my wife and I first tasted the joy of a supportive community who shared our dedication to living the faith in joy and acceptance instead of paying it lip service. To have an awe of The Lord restored in this life and to experience a sense of being completely at home was inspiring beyond words. Yet it would be years before such a community formed close enough to our home to allow for active participation, years during which I faithfully attended (and still do from time to time) the Novus Ordo while praying that I would be granted the blessing of such a community.

This is important because in order to have a happy stable marriage you must situate yourself with like minded couples who are equally dedicated to their vows. They, and later you, pay it forward by providing support to younger couples, assisting them with life’s ups and downs as well as constructive advice for those critical hurdles all marriages seem to face from time to time. If you as a husband choose divorced men, womanizers, adulterers and the like as friends you will be not only influenced by their bad example and bad advice, but you will also be tempted to think their behavior is acceptable and normal – that you were wrong about your marriage vows and that your wants should come first. This also applies to the wife as well. If your friends or the communities you currently participate in are hostile to monogamous lifetime marriages, or even just friendly to those touting alternative lifestyles then its time to find new friends or a new community. If you find this difficult, then keep in mind that in marriage you pledged yourself to the love, care, and welfare of your wife before everything else save God. If your “friends” are getting in the way of your sacramental obligations and you refuse to break with them then you are lost, and your marriage will suffer.

Surround yourself with a supportive environment and you will flourish, surround yourself with a hostile environment and you will wither and die. Jesus used this analogy in a parable about sowing seed – something along the line of seed sowed on barren ground will never grow, seed which falls among brambles will be choked out and die, but seed which falls on fertile ground will flourish. Though he was speaking about Faith rather directly, it also applies equally to your marriage. Just as in any garden fertile soil must be cultivated and weeded – apply those methodologies to your life and the results will be far more gratifying than any prize winning tomato or orchid could ever be.

Sincerely,

Colin Corcoran
cc70458@gmail.com

**Please feel free to write or comment on this post, I’d really like to hear from those that are able to have this experience and how it is changing their marriage, their wives, and their lives.

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