Category Archives: Featured

Fire on Earth – Fire from Above

“I came to cast fire upon the earth; and would that it were already kindled!” St. Luke 12:49

Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ

I write this letter to you from Costa Rica where we are resting and will celebrate the 80th birthday of a much loved family member. Please keep Maria de los Angeles and all of us in your prayers. You were all in my prayers at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass this morning (this letter is coming a day or so later due to the blessed lack of internet access here).

I have taken a few photos that you might find interesting and one providential circumstance that made me smile. The beautiful flower that you see in as the featured photo of this post is called a Eucharist Flower. My aunt-in-law indicates that this plant, which is quite old, is supposed to bloom once per year. However I was told that this one never flowered until we arrived.

This morning we attended Mass at St. Vincent’s de Moravia. Here are a few photos of that beautiful parish. The cantor had a beautiful voice and it was a delight to attend a reverent Mass in such a beautiful place.

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The is a picture of my prayer area during our stay with family in Moravia.img_1865

It is always a challenge to keep my prayer life consistent when boarding with others, even family. I prayed this morning that I would be able to pray even in the midst of interruptions. Our Lord is very kind and He granted my request. It is a remarkable experience to be totally present to someone speaking with you all the while being present to the Lord as if alone with Him.

The last photo I will share with you is of an active volcano that we can see from where we are staying. At the moment we cannot see the volcano but what we are looking at in this photo is ash and smoke.

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As I consider this destructive power of this active volcano I am reminded of the fires of satan that burn in the hearts and minds in the United States and around the world. This burning of confusion is manifesting externally in protests in the streets in the U.S. I had expected the same if the other party had won.

This election cycle has revealed a truth that I was already aware of but that manifested a disturbing depth of penetration in our culture. This truth is that the enemy owns very many hearts and minds on both the left and the right and has a strong influence on the unfaithful.

The evil one also has a strong presence even among the orthodox. Some of this recently manifested against me when I defended the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass as an order of magnitude more sacred and inviolably important than even holy efforts to mitigate the most grave moral evil of our time. I won’t venture further into this issue –  I suspect many of you instinctively understand.

Though the fires of satan burn and the Volcano of a deeply confused society threatens to erupt against the faithful, I am struck by a profound peace.

My peace does not come from the political party in power – only fools rest in this kind of temporal power. Please allow me to repeat this. Only fools find peace in temporal power, however favorable. Instead my peace comes through the grace of God – a deep trust in His providence and love. For this I am grateful – it is certainly a gift and not something I deserve or can attain on my own.

My consolation is also rooted in another fire burning on the earth. The fires of satan are like a grain of sand on the seashore as compared with the power of the fire of God burning in the hearts of His faithful.

This fire of God draws men and women of faith to Him. This fire leads them to draw near in the Eucharist and oracion mental. This fire, the purifying and vivifying presence and work of God in our hearts, is the fire that can and will change the world if we will yield to it and fuel it with our “yes.”

As we say “yes” to God, our fire grows and becomes a bright beacon of hope to the world. God then uses us to become a place of warmth from the cold, shelter from the storm and healing from the wounds inflicted by the world, the flesh, and the devil.

This fire, the fire of oracion mental, this fire that Christ called the “one thing necessary” is the fire of prayer – the fire of union with God.

All of this has impressed upon me the urgency of the mission of Apostoli Viae to live, light, and lead God’s people to the path of contemplation. This path is the path that will bring revival because it revives the fire in souls who have been luke warm and fans the flames of the fervent. It fuels the fires of God – the light of Christ – the hope of the world.

Say “yes” to Him. Don’t hold back. It will not be easy but you will never regret it and you will find peace in the storm.

Unum est Necessarium

Dan

Advent on the Way

Much Beloved Friends,

During my brief stay in Costa Rica this week I spotted my first fully decorated Christmas tree of the year! As well, not long ago the secular world began to “sell” the holidays.

Rather than allowing time along with the world to mercilessly thrust us into this season, how can we better prepare for Advent this year? How can we deepen our union with God and avoid allowing the world to stir up anxiety and distraction when we should be increasing our devotion to God?

Advent should be a time of entering into the themes of anticipation, joy and hope and allowing them to permeate our days leading up to the birth of our Savior and then lingering with Him into the New Year.

Here is a five step framework that can help us better assess our current spiritual trajectory and how we might adjust in a way in keeping with the wisdom of the Church.

The first step is to look back: How was your Advent last year? Did it catch you by surprise? Were you ready? If not and you can remember well enough, take a minute and write down the reasons why you feel Advent was far less fruitful than it should have been last year. Take a moment to ask the Lord to reveal the circumstances, the decisions you made, and maybe a glimpse into a better way.

The second step is to consider where we are now: Is drawing near to God this Advent on the top of your priority list? Is it really? What evidence is there besides your good desire? Have you already determined your path to a more complete “yes” to God in this season? If so, specifically how? What penitential practices will you pursue? What needs to be cleansed in your soul to properly prepare for the coming King? What patterns of sin or selfishness need to be broken? What commitments have you made regarding liturgical or sacramental participation? How can and will you love God and others more completely this year? What spiritual reading have you purchased and set aside? Are you, are we, really ready?

The third step is to consider how our participation in Apostoli Viae might help us in our desire to draw near to God: Many of you have a very high interest in the AV path. One helpful approach might be to review this post and maybe adopt an element that you have yet to incorporate into your life: What is Required to Associate with Apostoli Viae Beyond the Sojourner Phase?

Whatever you decide to do, one secret of spiritual progress is that of taking baby steps. After you have asked all of these questions of yourself you might begin to feel badly about your present spiritual progress or past decisions and over-react by taking on too much. This is not His will. Instead we should simply observe the less than optimal reality from a detached state and prayerfully discern what makes sense moving forward. If you discover something you need to take to confession, do so without self-condemnation. Participation in the sacrament of penance this way will give you strength to avoid the same mistakes this year.

The fourth step is to write down exactly what you want to change and how you will change it (by God’s grace): As many of you have read or are reading “Into the Deep” you might use the AV approach to a solemn commitment in a similar way regarding Advent. You can take this plan before the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament and make a solemn commitment to the approach He is revealing to you.

If I may suggest a priority of elements to consider, here is my own approach based upon the simple priorities provided by the endless depths of our beautiful tradition:

1.     Sacramental participation – how will I draw near to Him in a unique way this year?

2.     Prayer – how will I adjust my daily prayer to better orient my heart to Him this year?

3.     Ascesis – how will I better clean and prepare my heart through ascetical practices which may include specific acts of prayer, reflection through spiritual reading and sacramental participation that might be challenging but very beneficial? How can I better serve others in this time?

It is God’s desire to pour out His graces upon you during this holy season. Open up your heart to Him and further embrace the narrow way. You will find Him there and He will lead you ever deeper into His Advent in time and eternity.

Don’t forget… baby steps.

The fifth step is to be prepared for opposition and to remember Rules #5 and #6 of St. Ignatius first rules for discernment: Never make a change to your resolutions when in desolation and redouble your commitments tempted to abandon or reduce them.

Finally, if you have already made specific plans or have any good ideas, please share them with the group!

Be assured of my prayers.

Unum est Necessarium

Dan

Sacrament and Community

Dear Apostoli Viae Family,

I am at the Sacred Heart Retreat House in Alhambra California – a joyful expression of self-giving of the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles. As many of you know, the reason I am here is to promote awareness and devotion to the person and work of Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity. By God’s grace we were able to initiate a celebration that has become the national celebration for her canonization for the United States. Today we will have a kind of festival, reflections, and then Mass provided by Archbishop Gomez.

You are all on my mind in a powerful way as I pray this morning and meditate on this event, Saint Elizabeth’s unique devotion to the Most Holy Trinity and the profound insights of Pope Benedict the XVI whom I miss in a painful way.

Pope Benedict reflects that to assume that our participation at mass is to ensure own own private spiritual health is a supreme misunderstanding of what a sacrament truly is.

He asserts that Christianity, “by its very nature, is a mystery of union. The essence of original sin is the split into individuality which knows only itself. The essence of redemption is the mending of the shattered image of God, the union of the human race through and in the one Jesus Christ.”

The challenge we face in our culture is a radical isolationism that severely damages our ability to know union with God even as faithful Catholics. Catholic culture and thus authentic Catholic community no longer exists in the U.S. except in very unusual circumstances.

Pope Benedict goes on to say, “Union is redemption for it is the realization of our likeness to God, the Three in One. But union with Him is accordingly, inseparable from and a consequence of our own unity.”

My vision for Apostoli Viae is that we restore the shattered image of God through the shattering of isolation. That we destroy the distortion of God in our time as we restore authentic Christian community.

My vision is not of a community that merely provides formation and fellowship but one that reveals and lives the truth that we cannot ascend the narrow way alone and that we must depend on others on the journey.

This dependence is not a mere affinity of the faithful but a radical authentic love that allows for vulnerability and interdependence.  It is radical because it is so dramatically different from our culture. It is vulnerable because its members transcend the fear of interdependence knowing that without it, we risk a deadly isolation. When we are not vulnerable to one another, we make ourselves more vulnerable to the enemy of souls.

As the darkness descends only those who hold on tightly to God and one another will survive and provide a light to the world as it slogs into the gates of hell.

Of this I am sure to the depths of my being, the gates of hell will not prevail against the strength of one who clings to Christ, to His Church and to the expression of His Church that results in authentic and life-changing community.

God bless you. Be assured I carry you with me in prayer in a special way today.

Yours in Christ,

Dan – Unum est Necessarium

Does Apostoli Viae provide regular formation for its members?

Question: Does Apostoli Viae (AV) provide regular formation for its members?

Answer: Yes! AV intends to provide a specific path of formation in keeping with both the charism and the apostolic works central to AV. Here is an initial/example list of formation paths AV envisions:

  • The Way of Participation in the Mysteries: How can I fully engage with the sacramental and liturgical rhythm of the Church, worship God more completely, and gain the benefits of all the gifts provided therein?
  • The Way of Prayer: What is the spectrum of prayer in the Church, where am I within that spectrum, and how can I grow in prayer and union with God? How can I teach others to pray?
  • The Way of Ascesis: What is the path of self-giving and how can I travel that path as I grow in union with God? This ascesis includes the practice of sacred study or study of sacred doctrine.
  • The Way of Community: What is my need for and relationship to a community of disciples in AV?
  • The Way of Discipleship and Spiritual Direction: What does it mean to be a disciple of Christ within AV and how does that relate to Spiritual Direction?
  • The Way of Discernment: What does it mean to be awake and spiritually aware and engaged in my own spiritual growth and in my service to others?
  • The Way of Spiritual Direction: How does the Way frame and provide spiritual direction that is specific to the charism and also provide an environment where each individual can grow in union with God? What is spiritual direction and how can I participate in it effectively and thereby lead others in the same way?

As of the writing of this post, some of these programs are complete or are provided through approved use of materials that exist in the Church that are complimentary to the unique elements of the AV charism. Many of the elements of these programs are already available through the Avila Institute.

Is Apostoli Viae an Actual Order?

Question: Is Apostoli Viae (AV) an actual order, not a society, in the sense that one can only be a professed member of 1 order and could therefore not be a member of any other Church order and AV?

Answer: AV is, at present, can be compared to a flower breaking through the snow of spring. This means that we are a brand new emerging work of the Holy Spirit. Those reading this in August of 2016 are among the first to witness this emergence with AV. Thus, canonically, AV is in a stage known as a Private Association of the Faithful. We are just beginning and the canonical statues are in development under the oversight our Bishop. This status is the starting point of many “orders” and of many organizations that intend to follow God’s call to become a full fledged “order.” As best as we can discern at this point, our intent is to have lay, religious, priests, and sisters/nuns as part of our charism. Here’s a good primer on the topic of our current path: http://www.catholiccanonlaw.com/associations.pdf

What is the Mission of Apostoli Viae?

Question: What is the Mission of Apostoli Viae?

Answer: The mission of the Apostles of the Way is to live, light, and lead the Way to union with God.

  • To Live the Way is to understand, embrace, and joyfully live the contemplative life.
  • To Light the Way is to joyfully witness to, reveal, and teach the contemplative path.
  • To Lead the Way is to generously serve and guide pilgrims on the path.

What If I Am Not Naturally a Joyful Person – Can I Still Be a Part of AV?

Question: What If I Am Not Naturally a Joyful Person? Can I still be apart of Apostoli Viae?

Answer from Dan: For those who may not be aware, we embrace the admonition to “count it all joy” and to live a life of outward joy as an act of love to God and to those around us even in the midst of challenging circumstances.

You might be surprised to know that even after a dramatic conversion to Christ that I received the “Scrooge Award” and that I had the nickname of “Nuke” which is short for “nuclear” all while I was working at a Christian organization. Something has clearly changed in me since then – thank God.

So, the issue isn’t whether or not we fail from time to time or whether or not we are naturally inclined to a positive disposition. The issue really is the willingness to fight to love others in a way that transcends our suffering and feelings. Anyone who becomes formally involved with the Way must recognize and embrace this call to joy and then fight like heaven to live it.

Can a Diocesan Priest be a part of Apostoli Viae?

Question: Can a Diocesan Priest be a part of Apostoli Viae?

Answer: Absolutely. While diocesan priests or deacons are assigned to a parish and are typically not simultaneously called to religious life, they may be called to participating in AV spirituality, community, and apostolic works. The key, of course, is that all participation and related benefits of the AV charism serve the priest or deacon in their primary commitments to their Bishop and parish and are a benefit to all.