Friday, May 27, 2016

Family adopts child with Down syndrome and he recieves Pope's blessing

Living the Motto of the Saints

The following comes from the Catholic Exchange:


“Salvation comes from our God, who is seated on the throne, and from the Lamb!”
“Never give up!” That is a very popular message on t-shirts here in the Philippines. I don’t know the history of this message on the shirts and why is it so popular. But this message always leaves me thinking, “This is the motto, the slogan, and the mindset of the Saints!” The saints are not those who never had failures in life or who never had grave sins in their lives or who never had struggles and sufferings in this life. The Saints are not those with a perfect history or a blissful future. The Saints are simply those who just chose never to give up.
Never gave up on what? Today’s First Reading from Revelations addressed to Christians being persecuted in the Roman empire of the first century A.D shows us three things in which the saints never gave up. First of all, they never gave up on belonging completely to God. They had been marked as belonging to God before the times of devastation, “Do not damage the land or the sea or the trees until we put the seal on the foreheads of the servant of God.” God claimed them as His own even as they faced hardship. They never stopped acting out of the conviction that they and everything that they had now belonged to God.
Secondly, they never gave up on hoping and expecting all things from God. We find this in the song of the saints in heaven, “They cried out, ‘Salvation comes from our God, who is seated on the throne, and from the Lamb.’” Salvation and the means to attain it all came from God.
Thirdly, they never gave up on the life of bearing witness to Jesus Christ even in all the trials and distresses of life. “These are the ones who have survived the time of great distress; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” Like Jesus, the faithful witness, they too bore witness to Him even to the point of death as they shared in the power of His blood shed for them.

Saint of the day: Augustine of Canterbury


The following comes from the Monastery of Christ in the Desert:


The man who would become the first Archbishop of Canterbury and eventually be acclaimed as the "Apostle of England" was the prior of the Abbey of St. Andrew in Rome when, in AD 596 Pope St. Gregory I selected him to head a missionary effort aimed at converting the Anglo-Saxons. Although difficulties encountered in southern Gaul forced him to return to Rome, the pope promptly consecrated him a bishop and dispatched him again. This time the the endeavor met with success and the party reached Ebbsfleet on the Kentish coast in 597, to be warmly welcomed by King Ethelbert of Kent and his Christian wife. The monarch gave the monks permission to evangelize, and soon provided them with an old church in his city of Canterbury, as well as a place in which to live. Before long Ethelbert and many of his courtiers and subjects would be baptized.

Augustine then journeyed to Arles to be invested with the pallium as bishop of the English by St. Virgilius. Thus empowered, he set about establishing bishoprics in London and Rochester. Pope Gregory had desired that the principal See be situated in London with a second in York, both of which would have twelve suffragens. But Augustine thought otherwise, electing instead to remain in Canterbury, a city which he felt to be not only the most culturally sophisticated but also the most important for the Church, since it happened to be the capital of the only Christian Anglo-Saxon kingdom. It was there he built the Cathedral of Christ Church. Outside the walls, King Ethelbert erected the Abbey of SS. Peter and Paul, later to be renamed after the kingdom's first archbishop.

Gregory instructed Augustine carefully on matters pertaining to the integration of this new territory into the Roman Church. Extant letters show that as long as his actions remained canonically correct he was given a certain latitude on decisions concerning the adoption of Gallican liturgical practices. Gregory forbade the outright destruction of pagan temples, and his bishop was strongly encouraged to absorb popular religious rites into Christian feasts whenever possible.
In 603, Augustine tried to united the Celtic Church with Rome, but without much success. In fact, there had been little in the way of cooperation along these lines during the whole of his time in England. Old attachments to provincial customs and practices were simply too engrained. However, with Canterbury firmly established as the ecclesiastical center of England, use of the Roman Rite and calendar would, after his death be universally accepted.

Shortly before his death in 604 he consecrated Lawrence of Canterbury as his successor. Augustine was buried in the Abbey Church of SS. Peter and Paul.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

How Can It Be by Lauren Dangle

St. Bede the Venerable: Father of English History

Today the Church remembers St. Bede the Venerable. Bede was a monk at the English monastery of Wearmouth and Jarrow, in Northumbria. From the age of seven, he spent all his life at that monastery except for a few brief visits to nearby sites. He says of himself: "I have devoted my energies to a study of the Scriptures, observing monastic discipline, and singing the daily services in church; study, teaching, and writing have always been my delight."

The following comes from Brittania.com:

Within the walls of the imposing Norman Cathedral of Durham lies the simple tomb of a Christian monk who has earned the title as "Father of English History."

Bede was born at Tyne, in County Durham, and was taken as a child of seven to the monastery of Wearmouth. Shortly afterwards he was moved to become one of the first members of the monastic community at Jarrow. Here, he was ordained a deacon when he was 19 and a priest when he was 30; and here he spent the rest of his life. He never travelled outside of this area but yet, became one of the most learned men of Europe.

The scholarship and culture of Italy had been brought to Britain where it was transported to Jarrow. Here it was combined with the simpler traditions, devotions and evangelism of the Celtic church. In this setting Bede learned the love of scholarship, personal devotion and discipline . He mastered Latin, Greek and Hebrew and had a good knowledge of the classical scholars and early church fathers.

Bede's writings cover a broad spectrum including natural history, poetry, Biblical translation and exposition of the scriptures. His earliest Biblical commentary was probably that on the book of the Revelation. He is credited with writing three known Latin hymns.

He is remembered chiefly for his "Ecclesiastical History of the English People." This five volume work records events in Britain from the raids by Julius Caesar in 55-54 BC to the arrival of the first missionary from Rome, Saint Augustine in 597. Bede's writings are considered the best summary of this period of history ever prepared. Some have called it "the finest historical work of the early Middle Ages."

Bede's motive for recording history reminds us of his deepest desires. He clearly states his purpose in his writings when he says, "For if history records good things of good men, the thoughtful hearer is encouraged to imitate what is good; or if it records evil of wicked men, the good, religious reader or listener is encouraged to avoid all that is sinful and perverse, and to follow what he knows to be good and pleasing to God."

As we celebrate the new millennium, we are indebted to Bede, as it is to this man that we owe, from his historical accounts, our dating of years from the birth of Christ.


Check out a brief video on St. Bede here.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Only in God by John Michael Talbot

Cardinal Zen on Mary, Help of Christians in China


Cardinal Zen - Mary Help of Christians from Mike Massey on Vimeo.

Here is another bit of the interview with Cardinal Zen from his visit with us!

Also, here is more Our Lady and her presence to the people of China from this site:

Our Lady appears in China
In 1900, China reported three apparitions:
One in Beijing in which Our Lady was accompanied by St. Michael the archangel who, in turn, was surrounded by multitudes of angels.


A second apparition involved a weeping statue of Our Lady in the village of Santai during the Boxer Rebellion.
The third apparition occurred in Donglu.
Donglu is about 40 kilometres from Baoding in Hebei province, and it is one of the strongholds of the unofficial Catholic Church in China.

Witnesses recount that a beautiful lady, recognised as Mary, appeared in the skies. The Catholics implored Our Lady to save them from their enemies and their city from destruction. In thanksgiving for Our Lady’s protection over the city of Donglu during the Boxer Rebellion, a beautiful church was built in her honour. It was meant to serve as a constant reminder to the people of Mary’s loving and motherly protection. The pastor, at the time, secured a painting of the Dowager Empress Ci Xi dressed in imperial robes. He commissioned an artist to use it as the background for the image of Our Lady holding the Christ Child. The picture was hung in the Church of Donglu, which eventually became a famous place of pilgrimage.



The shrine at Donglu
People began coming to the shrine in Donglu in 1924, but the first official pilgrimage took place in 1929. By 1932, the location became such a popular pilgrimage site that Pope Pius XI approved it as an official Marian shrine.
Since 1929 tens of thousands of pilgrims have made their way up the hill to the shrine, especially in May.


The Miracle Of The Sun 23 May 1995
On 23 May 1995, pilgrims witnessed another phenomenon. Over 30,000 Catholics from the unofficial Church had gathered for Mass at the Donglu shrine. It was the vigil of the Feast of Our Lady, Mary Help of Christians, a favourite of Chinese Catholics. There were four bishops of the unofficial Church concelebrating the Mass and nearly 100 unofficial priests standing in the open field, all eager to honour Our Lady in a special way during her special month.
Suddenly, during the opening prayer and again during the consecration, the people observed the sun spinning from right to left. Light rays of various shades emanated from the sky. The people, mesmerised by the phenomenon, could look directly at it without blinking. Suddenly from the centre of the sun people saw what they later described as an apparition. Some beheld the Cross; others said they had seen the Holy Family. Still others had seen Our Lady holding the Infant Jesus while others claimed they had seen the Sacred Host. People, overwhelmed by the vision, suddenly became conscious of their sinfulness and began to cry out, “Holy Mother, forgive me my sins,” or “Holy Virgin Mary, have pity on us your children.” The phenomenon of the sun changing colours, approaching and then retreating while radiating various hues, lasted for about 20 minutes.


The government’s response
Needless to say, the government has not been terribly enthusiastic about having thousands upon thousands of people gather anywhere. This is all the more threatening when the gathering involves religion and people of the unofficial Church. The Public Security Bureau, the agency in charge of keeping watch over the unofficial Catholic community, periodically flexes its muscles to prevent anyone from going on pilgrimage to Donglu. In 1995, when tens of thousands of pilgrims flocked to Donglu for the Feast of Mary Help of Christians on May 24, the Public Security barred all pilgrims from joining anyone on the hill. The police forced people back into buses and trains without offering any explanation. Still, thousands successfully reached the area by finding alternative ways to get there. As many as 100,000 participated in the celebration.


Again in 1996, an official announcement forbade anyone from going to the Donglu shrine. This time two reasons were given for the prohibition: it was an illegal gathering and it was bad for social stability.


Teams of Public Security agents as large as 500 strong were dispatched to all the villages surrounding the Donglu area and to towns all over Hebei Province. As they travelled around, they tried to force the members of the unofficial community to join the Patriotic Association and to do away with unrecognised religious premises such as Donglu. Priests in the towns and villages were ordered not to leave their residences and were forbidden to preach from May 13 until further notice. Lay people were also forbidden to leave their villages. Parents were not allowed to take their children to church or to wear any religious objects.


Against all odds
It seems no amount of pressure can dull the enthusiam of Catholics intent on honouring Our Lady at the Donglu shrine. Every May, regardless of prohibitions, tens of thousands of pilgrims make their way up the steep hill, either in silence or reciting the rosary or singing hymns to praise one who is truly their mother and protector.

The shrine at Sheshan
In June 1989, Pope John Paul II prayed that the Virgin of Sheshan Help of Christians, would look kindly on “the beloved Chinese people.” This remark by Our Holy Father indicates the importance of this shrine as a symbol of Christian renewal in China. Sheshan, with its “nine peaks above the clouds” is situated about 35 kilometres from Shanghai city. Its forest of bamboo, its scenic winding paths and running brooks are a fitting location for communing with God and Our Lady. The mountain, according to legend, gets its name from a hermit named She who centuries ago, lived atop the mountain.

In 1866, the Church in Shanghai built a hexagonal pavilion and placed within it an altar and a statue of Our Lady. Five years later, the Jesuits built a church at the summit of the mountain and dedicated it to Our Lady Help of Christians, opening it in 1873.

In 1924, the bishops of China consecrated the nation to Our Lady and following the consecration they made a pilgrimage to Sheshan. Work on a basilica began in 1925 and was completed 10 years later. This church was the first basilica in all of the Far East and it became China’s favourite pilgrimage site.

During the Cultural Revolution the beautiful bronze statue of Our Lady at the pinnacle of the basilica disappeared and other religious symbols, including the altar and the stained glass window were all virtually destroyed. A replica of the bronze statue of Mary holding up the Christ Child was finally re-installed on top of the tower in the year 2000. Some 10,000 believers paid for it. Pilgrimages to the shrine resumed in 1979.

Every year since then, pilgrims by the thousands have flocked to Sheshan. In 1990, the first pilgrimage of the decade saw 30,000 Catholics coming to Sheshan for Our Lady’s feast. The elderly and the young made the long steep climb from the foothills of the mountain to the summit as a testimony of their love and devotion to Our Lady. One large group of pilgrims are the fisherfolk of Jiangnan who, from earliest times, sailed up the Yangtze, carefully steering their craft through the canals surrounding the foothills of the mountain.

Every year, they come, moor their boats and spend three days and nights at Sheshan to implore Our Lady’s help for the future and to thank her for favours received. But they are only a small group compared to the thousands from all over China who come to pay tribute to their heavenly mother in whom they place so much of their trust.


You can read more here.

Feast of Mary, Help of Christians!

The following comes from the CNA:
The Feast of Mary Help of Christians is celebrated on May 24. 
The tradition of this advocation goes back to 1571, when  the whole of Christendom was saved by Mary Help of Christians when Catholics throughout Europe prayed the Rosary. The great battle of Lepanto occurred on October 7th 1571. For this reason this date has been chosen as the feast of the Holy Rosary. In 1573 Pope Pius V instituted the feast in thanksgiving for the decisive victory of Christianity over Islamism.
Near the end of the 17th century, Emperor Leopold I of Austria took refuge in the Shrine of Mary Help of Christians at Pasau, when 200,000 Ottoman Turks besieged the capital city of Vienna, but a  great victory occurred thanks to Mary Help of Christians: on September 8th, Feast of Our Lady's Birthday, plans were drawn for the battle. On September 12, Feast of the Holy Name of Mary, Vienna was finally freed through the intercession of Mary Help of Christians. All Europe had joined with the Emperor crying out "Mary, Help!" and praying the Holy rosary.
In 1809, Napoleon's men entered the Vatican, arrested Pius VII and brought him in chains to Grenoble, and eventually Fontainbleau. His imprisonment lasted five years. The Holy Father vowed to God that , if he were restored to the Roman See, he would institute a special feast in honor of Mary. Military reverses forced Napoleon to release the Pope, and on May 24th  1814, Pius VII returned in triumph to Rome. Twelve months later, the Pope decreed that the feast of Mary Help of Christians, be kept on the 24th of May. 
St. John Bosco (1815 - 1888) was a dynamic priest who founded the Salesian Order in the XIX century in Italy. His many prophetic dreams, beginning at age nine, guided his ministry and gave insights on future events.
On May 14, 1862, Don Bosco dreamed about the battles the Church would face in the latter days. In his dream, the  Pope of those days anchors the 'ship' of the Church between two pillars, one with a statue of Mary (Auxilium Christianorum or 'Help of Christians') and the other with a large Eucharistic Host
St. John Bosco wrote about his congregation, the Salesians:  "The principal objective is to promote veneration of the Blessed Sacrament and devotion to Mary Help of Christians. This title seems to please the august Queen of Heaven very much." 
The Salesian Sisters of St John Bosco or Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, are the sister order of the Salesians of Don Bosco.
St. John Bosco, himself, on June 9 1868, dedicated to Our Lady Help of Christians, the mother church of his congregation at Turin (Italy). The Salesian Fathers and their Sisters have carried the devotion to their numerous establishments.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Prayer of Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity

O my God, Trinity whom I adore, let me entirely forget myself that I may abide in you, still and peaceful as if my soul were already in eternity; let nothing disturb my peace nor separate me from you, O my unchanging God, but that each moment may take me further into the depths of your mystery ! Pacify my soul! Make it your heaven, your beloved home and place of your repose; let me never leave you there alone, but may I be ever attentive, ever alert in my faith, ever adoring and all given up to your creative action.

O my beloved Christ, crucified for love, would that I might be for you a spouse of your heart! I would anoint you with glory, I would love you - even unto death! Yet I sense my frailty and ask you to adorn me with yourself; identify my soul with all the movements of your soul, submerge me, overwhelm. me, substitute yourself in me that my life may become but a reflection of your life. Come into me as Adorer, Redeemer and Saviour.

O Eternal Word, Word of my God, would that I might spend my life listening to you, would that I might be fully receptive to learn all from you; in all darkness, all loneliness, all weakness, may I ever keep my eyes fixed on you and abide under your great light; O my Beloved Star, fascinate me so that I may never be able to leave your radiance.

O Consuming Fire, Spirit of Love, descend into my soul and make all in me as an incarnation of the Word, that I may be to him a super-added humanity wherein he renews his mystery; and you O Father, bestow yourself and bend down to your little creature, seeing in her only your beloved Son in whom you are well pleased.

O my `Three', my All, my Beatitude, infinite Solitude, Immensity in whom I lose myself, I give myself to you as a prey to be consumed; enclose yourself in me that I may be absorbed in you so as to contemplate in your light the abyss of your Splendour!


         --Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity

Fr. Robert Barron on The Sacred Trinity

The Mystery of the Holy Trinity

The following comes from Fr. Ray Blake:

In some parishes Trinity Sunday was the time to give a financial report, anything rather than preach on the Most Holy Trinity. The problem is of course that too many Catholics think of the Trinity in terms of algebra or geometry rather than in terms of relationships.

Muslims love to debate with Christians God in terms of  the 1+1+1=1 approach, they are less comfortable with the idea of the God who loves to point of emptying himself of His Divinity to embrace His creation, indeed to dwell within it and suffer with it.

The high point of our prayer is always the doxology, when we address the Father, through the Son, in the unity of the Holy Spirit. Indeed when we look at a crucifix we are supposed to, in a sense look through it to the Father, the high point of the Eucharistic prayer is the priest taking up the Sacred Host and addressing the Father saying, "Through him, with him, in him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honour is yours, almighty Father, for ever and ever. Amen."

Although popular devotion might address individual persons of the Trinity, the Church's liturgy, with a few notable exceptions is addressed to the Father, through the Son, in the Spirit.

The Son is perfect icon of the Father, in His humanity we see revelation of the Father. Perhaps the worst sermon I ever heard on the Trinity was basically, "The Trinity is a mystery we can't comprehend, so let us get on with the Mass!". It was the worst but yet it was also the best, because the Triune God is always mysterious and unknowable, and yet He is revealed totally in the Mass, through the Son, in the Spirit.

True worship always leads us to contemplate the God who is always beyond us, the God who in the Old Testament patriarchs and prophets fall on their faces and worship.


Practically at every Mass I have celebrated over the thirty years I have been ordained I have felt the need 'to break the bread of the word', to preach, except at the Traditional Mass, where all I want to do is adore the Father through the Son, in the unity of the Holy Spirit. I am beginning to believe that if the Word of God does not lead us to worship there is something wrong in its presentation, and if the Mass does not lead us to fall on our knees to be fed by God there is something wrong here too.

Contemplating the Mystery of the Trinity should lead us to be lost in the immensity and beauty of God, realising his greatness and our nothingness, desiring only to abandon ourselves to Him and crying out with Christ, "Father into your hands I commend Spirit".


If this realisation is not the result of worship, perhaps we are not worshipping at all!

Per ipsum, et cum ipso, et in ipso, est tibi Deo Patri omnipotenti, in unitate Spiritus Sancti, omnis honor et gloria per omnia saecula saeculorum. Amen

Saint of the day: Rita of Cascia




Today we remember St. Rita of Cascia; a patroness of hopeless causes! The following comes from Catholic Online:

Augustinian nun, also called Margarita. She was born in Roccaporena, near Spoleto, Italy, in 1381, and expressed from an early age the desire to become a nun. Her elderly parents insisted that she be married at the age of twelve to a man described in accounts of her life as cruel and harsh. She spent eighteen extremely unhappy years, had two sons, and was finally widowed when her husband was killed in a brawl. Both sons also died, and Rita, still anxious to become a nun, tried unsuccessfully to enter the Augustinians in their convent at Cascia. She was refused because she was a widow and because of the requirement that all sisters should be virgins. Finally, in 1413, the order gave her entry, and she earned fame for her austerity, devotion to prayer, and charity.


In the midst of chronic illnesses, she received visions and wounds on her forehead which resembled the crown of thorns. She died on May 22 at Cascia, and many miracles were reported instantly. Canonized in 1900, she is honored in Spain as La Santa de los Impossibles and elsewhere as a patron saint of hopeless causes.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Beloved by Tenth Avenue North

Inspirational Story of Garvan Byrne

A twelve-year-old trapped in the body of a five-year-old, Garvan Byrne, of an Irish background, endured intense pain as he flirted with certain death. Throughout all of the trauma, he remained hopeful and optimistic, finding peace and meaning in life that most adults have never seen.


Deepen Your Personal Relationship with Jesus

The following comes from the Catholic Exchange:
The Lord calls us all to have a personal relationship with Him. This personal relationship is based on knowledge — God know­ing us and we knowing God. God already knows us; His knowl­edge is perfect. Despite our best attempts to ignore Him, God has always known us. But we weren’t born with this knowledge of God.
Even when we discover God through revelation, we might know about God but still might not know Him. In the Bible, to “know” someone is to engage in sexual intercourse with that person. When we speak of knowing God, and of God know­ing us, we are speaking about a different but similarly intimate relationship with Him.
Jesus tells His disciples:
Not every one who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?” And then will I declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from me, you evildoers.” (Matt. 7:21–23)
It is clear that those who will be accepted into heaven are those who know God, who have a personal relationship with Him. The question is: What does it mean to have a personal relationship with the Lord? It means that we let God be in charge of our lives, that we form a relationship with His Mystical Body, and that we get to know His Mother. It also demands that we seek a constant and perpetual conversion, serve others in love, and create disciples.
Let’s look at various ways to develop or deepen your personal relationship with the Lord: through prayer, letting God be in control of your life, being involved with the Church, growing in devotion to the Blessed Mother, and seeking spiritual direction.

Pray

Because prayer is personal, it is the most direct way of developing and maintaining a personal relationship with the Lord. The time we spend talking to our loved ones, and listening to their needs and concerns, allows our relationship with them to grow deeper. Likewise, when we grow in our relationship with God through prayer, we come to understand Him better and to understand His will for us.
A good prayer life requires practice, discipline, commitment, openness, honesty, and love. To get a good start on your prayer life, or even to add to it, look for a book of Catholic prayers, of which there are many kinds. Also, check out a breviary, which is a book of liturgical prayers. There are also several apps for your phone or tablet that contain many prayers, including the bre­viary. Make a place in your home, a room or a corner, for prayer.
In flight training, when one pilot hands the control over to the other, the receiver says, “My controls,” and the giver responds with, “Your controls” as he lets go of all controls, and again the receiving pilot responds with “I have full control.” When we have a personal relationship with Jesus, we aren’t even copilots, because He is always in control. When we trust God and give Him complete control of our lives — which we never really had much control over in the first place — God performs maneuvers and makeovers that we never thought possible. Moreover, He re­moves all boundaries that hold us down and frees our spirits to soar.
This is especially true in the case of sin. We cannot become free of sin and distress until we let God transform us. We let God transform us by participating in the sacraments, serving others, praying, and reading Scripture regularly.

A Relationship with the Church

A personal relationship with Jesus also means a personal rela­tionship with His Church. Recall the story of Saul on his way to Damascus to punish and persecute Christians.
But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. Now as he journeyed he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed about him. And he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.” (Acts 9:1–5)
Saul must have been confused. He persecuted Christians, this he knew, but the voice he heard was not one of the men or women he had directly persecuted. This voice was telling him that by persecuting Christ’s people, Saul was persecuting Christ Himself. Saul, who later became Paul, would soon realize that Jesus identifies directly with His people — not in a symbolic way, but in reality.
Because of this identity, the Second Vatican Council docu­ment Lumen Gentium rightly says:
God gathered together as one all those who in faith look upon Jesus as the author of salvation and the source of unity and peace, and established them as the Church that for each and all it may be the visible sacrament of this saving unity. (no. 9)
We see clearly that the Church is the most profound institu­tion in the world. Jesus came to establish the kingdom of God, and to make that happen, He established a Church and prom­ised to remain with her always (Matt. 28:20). He has given His Church authority (see Matt. 10:16; 28:19) and commissioned her to teach and to remind His people of everything He said (John 14:26; 16:13).
We are therefore called to have a relationship with Jesus and His Church. To have a good relationship with the Church, we should turn to her as a source of truth, participate in her sacraments, and obey her laws, for when we obey the Church, we obey Christ:
He who hears you hears me, and he who rejects you rejects me, and he who rejects me rejects him who sent me. (Luke 10:16)

Friday, May 20, 2016

The Cave by Mumford & Sons (Bookshop Sessions)

Having Holy Boldness in Prayer

The following comes from Msgr. Pope:


There are some who wince at the notion of praying boldly to God, especially if anger or exasperation are part of that boldness. And yet the Bible itself models and counsels that we should include in our prayers the times when we are angry, exasperated, or disappointed in God. The psalms are filled with such prayers and great figures like Moses, David, and Job cry out to God quite plainly, expressing their anger and disappointment. I have written more on that here: A Meditation on the Role of Anger in Prayer.
At any rate, in this brief blog today I offer this example of a prayer of holy boldness from a great Saint of the Church: St. Catherine of Siena. Here is the background: Catherine’s mother, Lapa, lay dying, but Catherine was convinced that Lapa was not yet ready to die, and so she told God as much. The Lord disagreed, but Catherine remained undeterred in her assessment. And now we pick up the story and prayer …
Lapa died, or so it seemed to all the women who stood around her bed. She had refused to confess and receive the last Sacrament. Catherine lay over her mother’s corpse weeping and praying aloud.
O my dear Lord, is this how you keep the promise you once made to me that none in my house should suffer eternal death? You promised me too that you would not take my mother from this world before she could leave it in a state of grace, and here she lies dead, without having confessed or received the Sacrament. My Beloved Savior, I call to you in your great mercy, do not fail me! I will not go alive from your feet until you give me my mother back.
Speechless and overcome, the women around the deathbed saw that life seemed to creep back into Lapa’s body. She breathed and made some slight movement, … After a short time Monna Lapa was quite well again. [Told by her confessor, Blessed Fr. Raimondo, and inscribed in the Biography Catherine of Sienna by Sigrid Undset, pp 94-95].
And so here is the image of a saint at prayer: reverent but bold, seemingly unwilling to take “no” for an answer. Surely, on account of her usual and deep reverence, Catherine was allowed a bit more leeway than many of us; but do not doubt that God is often listening for us sinners to pray with a little conviction and intensity!
Somehow, too, it reminds me of a place called Cana, where the Mother of Jesus said, “They have no more wine.”  And though Jesus seemed unwilling, I am convinced that Mary gave him a look that only a mother could, a look that wouldn’t take “no” for an answer.  And the next thing you know, Jesus is making dozens of gallons of the best wine imaginable!
Are you praying with me, Church? Really praying? There is a place for boldness in prayer, not a boldness that loses all reverence, but a boldness nonetheless.

St. Bernardine of Siena and the Holy Name of Jesus




May 20 is the Feast of Bernardine of Siena, a great preacher and teacher of prayer. We could sure use another St. Bernardine today!

Bernardine of Siena came from the noble Sienese family of the Albizeschi. He was born at Massa Marttima, where his father was governor, on September 8th, 1380. He was left an orphan at age six and was brought up by his aunts. At school in Siena he was remarkable for intelligence and a general popularity. He was known for his outstanding goodness and purity. When he was seventeen, he joined a Marian confraternity at the La Scala hospital and began a secluded religious life. In the year 1400 he willingly emerged to become the successful organizer of the hospital services during a severe outbreak of the plague. Although he escaped infection, he fell ill through exhaustion and never entirely recovered.

In 1402 he joined the Franciscans, throwing in his lot with the 'Observant' reform-party. Their spectacular growth during this period owes much to his influence. He was for twelve years their vicar general. His ordination in 1404 was followed by a dozen years of hidden life, but the rest of his career is a record of tireless preaching journeys, usually on foot, all over Italy. He was the greatest popular preacher of his time, a worthy successor to St. Vincent Ferrer, a true 'apostle of Italy.'

His regular topics were the need for penance and denunciation of prevalent vices, especially civil and political strife, usury, gambling and 'vanity' in dress and social behavior. He treated these worn themes in a fresh manner, using stories and illustrations, holding vast crowds for hours and bringing about incredible conversions.

Bernardine will be remembered for his promotion of the devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus, of Mary as dispenser of the graces merited by her divine Son, and of St. Joseph. He was accustomed to preach holding a board on which were the first three letters of the Savior's name in its Greek form--'IHS'--surrounded by rays, and he persuaded people to copy these plaques and erect them over their dwellings and public buildings. His last sermons--on Inspirations--show him to have been a profound psychologist on the mystical way and a great teacher of contemplative prayer.

He died, worn out from missionary work, on May 20th, 1444, at Aquila in the Abruzzi, and was buried there. The miracles at his tomb induced Nicholas V to canonize him only six years later. The preaching of St. Bernardine, especially the verbatim versions of his popular sermons in Italian, still deserves attention in an age no longer much addicted to preaching. Modern readers will at least admire his direct approach and the earthiness of his style. They will applaud his social awareness and the eminently practical methods he adopted to drive his lessons home and make them permanent. Let's pray for more great saints like Bernardine for our own time!


Learn more about him here.