Saturday, February 6, 2016

Saint of the day: Paul Miki and Companions

The following comes from the catholic online site:

Paul was the son of a Japanese military leader. He was born at Tounucumada, Japan, was educated at the Jesuit college of Anziquiama, joined the Jesuits in 1580, and became known for his eloquent preaching. He was crucified on Februay 5 with twenty-five other Catholics during the persecution of Christians under the Taiko, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, ruler of Japan in the name of the emperor. Among the Japanese layment who suffered the same fate were: Francis, a carpenter who was arrested while watching the executions and then crucified; Gabriel, the nineteen year old son of the Franciscan's porter; Leo Kinuya, a twenty-eight year old carpenter from Miyako; Diego Kisai (or Kizayemon), temporal coadjutor of the Jesuits; Joachim Sakakibara, cook for the Franciscans at Osaka; Peter Sukejiro, sent by a Jesuit priest to help the prisoners, who was then arrested; Cosmas Takeya from Owari, who had preached in Osaka; and Ventura from Miyako, who had been baptized by the Jesuits, gave up his Catholicism on the death of his father, became a bonze, and was brought back to the Church by the Franciscans. They were all canonized as the Martyrs of Japan in 1862. Their feast day is February 6th.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Desert Soul by Rend Collective Experiment

Pray for Priests

Saint Michael the Archangel,

defend us in battle.
Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray;
and do Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host,
by the Divine Power of God,
cast into hell Satan and all the evil spirits
who roam throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls.

Pope Francis to Meet Patriarch Kirill of Moscow in Cuba

The following comes from Eleteia via VATICAN CITY: 

Pope Francis will meet Patriarch Kirill of Moscow on February 12 in Cuba, where the two will sign a joint declaration, the Vatican announced today.

According to a joint press release of the Holy See and the Patriarchate of Moscow, issued at noonday on Friday in Rome: “This meeting of the Primates of the Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church … will be the first in history and will mark an important stage in relations between the two Churches.”

Pope Francis’ stopover in Cuba for the historic meeting comes as he travels to Mexico, for a February 12-18 apostolic visit.

Here below we publish the joint press release. Fuller details to follow.
Joint Press Release
of the Holy See and of the Patriarchate of Moscow
The Holy See and the Patriarchate of Moscow are pleased to announce that, by the grace of God, His Holiness Pope Francis and His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia will meet on February 12 next. Their meeting will take place in Cuba, where the Pope will make a stop on his way to Mexico, and where the Patriarch will be on an official visit. It will include a personal conversation at Havana’s José Martí International Airport, and will conclude with the signing of a joint declaration.

This meeting of the Primates of the Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church, after a long preparation, will be the first in history and will mark an important stage in relations between the two Churches. The Holy See and the Moscow Patriarchate hope that it will also be a sign of hope for all people of good will. They invite all Christians to pray fervently for God to bless this meeting, that it may bear good fruits.

Saint of the day: Agatha

The following comes from the American Catholic site:

As in the case of Agnes, another virgin-martyr of the early Church, almost nothing is historically certain about this saint except that she was martyred in Sicily during the persecution of Emperor Decius in 251.

Legend has it that Agatha, like Agnes, was arrested as a Christian, tortured and sent to a house of prostitution to be mistreated. She was preserved from being violated, and was later put to death.

She is claimed as the patroness of both Palermo and Catania. The year after her death, the stilling of an eruption of Mt. Etna was attributed to her intercession. As a result, apparently, people continued to ask her prayers for protection against fire.


The scientific modern mind winces at the thought of a volcano’s might being contained by God because of the prayers of a Sicilian girl. Still less welcome, probably, is the notion of that saint being the patroness of such varied professions as those of foundry workers, nurses, miners and Alpine guides. Yet, in our historical precision, have we lost an essential human quality of wonder and poetry, and even our belief that we come to God by helping each other, both in action and prayer?


When Agatha was arrested, the legend says, she prayed: “Jesus Christ, Lord of all things! You see my heart, you know my desires. Possess all that I am—you alone. I am your sheep; make me worthy to overcome the devil.” And in prison: “Lord, my creator, you have protected me since I was in the cradle. You have taken me from the love of the world and given me patience to suffer. Now receive my spirit.”

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Cry the Name by Rich Mullins

Mother Teresa: 7 Steps to a Holier Life

The following comes from The Radical Life:
When we are stressed or feel overly burdened in life it’s usually because we’ve gotten our priorities out of order. Here are 7 of my favorite Mother Teresa quotes that will help. When read in this order, they are guaranteed to bring order and peace back to your life. Give them a try.
Step 1: Slow down.
“I think the world today is upside down. Everybody seems to be in such a terrible rush, anxious for greater development and greater riches and so on. There is much suffering because there is so very little love in homes and in family life. We have no time for our children, we have no time for each other; there is no time to enjoy each other. In the home begins the disruption of the peace of the world.”
Step 2: Make some room.
“If you are discouraged it is a sign of pride because it shows you trust in your own power. Your self-sufficiency, your selfishness and your intellectual pride will inhibit His coming to live in your heart because God cannot fill what is already full. It is as simple as that.”
Step 3: Open your eyes.
“Each one of them is Jesus in disguise.”
Step 4: Put great love into the small things.
“In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love.”
Step 5: Do not tire.
“Do not think that love, in order to be genuine, has to be extraordinary. What we need is to love without getting tired.”
Step 6: Remember – it’s faithfulness, not success.
“God doesn’t ask that we succeed in everything, but that we are faithful. However beautiful our work may be, let us not become attached to it. Always remain prepared to give it up, without losing your peace.”
Step 7: Leave the rest to Jesus.
“Be humble and you will never be disturbed. It is very difficult in practice because we all want to see the result of our work. Leave it to Jesus.”
Radical tip: Give yourself 5-minutes each morning to read these again. It will change your life.

I Thirst: Eucharistic Healing

The following comes from the Catholic Exchange:

Among many Catholics there is a privation, a sense of absence and even estrangement from true communion with God. This is a paralyzing reality among some believers. How can this be when Jesus is always and truly present in the Eucharist, on the altars and in the tabernacles of the world? Jesus hasn’t abandoned us; He is truly and perpetually present. In His Presence there is healing.
Often we claim to be looking for God, but our back is turned to Him as we look to people and places where God is not found. We have to turn around to look at Jesus — face-to-face in the Eucharist — to make sense of the madness of the world all around us.
There is a great thirst among God’s people, but the thirst of Jesus is far greater. The Heart of the Eternal High Priest is not fickle like the human heart. The Church’s initiatives, including the crusade of prayer for priests suggested by the Congregation for the Clergy, will be fruitful only if we fall in love with Jesus in the Eucharist. The Eucharist is the deepest, most life-changing encounter with Jesus the High Priest.
The name Jesus the Eternal High Priest is intimately related to His hour when in Gethsemane Jesus prayed to the Father and to His perfect sacrifice on the altar of the Cross. Jesus is our High Priest, the victim of His own intercession for sinners.
The Eternal High Priest is a “victim offering” to God the Father for the ransom of humanity. Each ministerial priest becomes a victim offering also. Archbishop Fulton Sheen eloquently writes about this to his brother priests:
That moment when the priest lifts up the Host and the Chalice, he is at his best. A bride and groom are at their peak of loveliness and lovability at the moment of marriage. Love is said to be blind because it sees no faults in the beloved. God’s love becomes blind at this moment. He sees us through “the rose-colored glasses” of his Son. Never again will we appear as priestly, as victimal, as deserving of salvation, as we are when the Father sees us through “the rose-colored glasses” of the Body and Blood of his Son as we lift Host and Chalice to heaven. During this holy action, we priests become holy (Exodus 39:29). But we are also victims. We do not just offerMass; we are also offered. (Those Mysterious Priests)
If we take time to ponder these sublime truths of our Faith, we are struck with awe at the gift of God. He loved us into being, ransomed us from sin and death by laying down His life so that we can live forever, and then perpetuates Himself in the ministerial priesthood so that we can encounter the living Jesus made present by His priests.
The letter to the Hebrews says, “Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.” What does it mean to hold fast our confession? We confess that Jesus is Lord; we bear witness by our life and our good works. How can our confession of faith and love for Jesus be convincing if we are not encountering him?

The Healing Power of Eucharistic Contemplation

Communing with the Divine Lover of our soul becomes irresistible joy, not labor. The words of Bl. Teresa of Calcutta inspire us:
“When you look at the Crucifix, you understand how much Jesus loved you then. When you look at the Sacred Host you understand how much Jesus loves you now.” (Quoted in At the Altar of the World: The Pontificate of Pope John Paul II through the Lens of L’Osservatore Romano and the Words of Ecclesia de Eucharistia.)
In 2003, Pope John Paul II laid out a plan for the New Evangelization that starts with contemplating the face of Christ in the Eucharist stating that he would like to “rekindle Eucharistic amazement.” The Eucharist is the central provision of God for interior renewal and inner healing.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Holy Spirit by Kristene DiMarco at Bethel Church

Year of Mercy: Relics of St. Padre Pio and St. Leopold Mandic in Rome

The following comes from the OSV:
In honor of the Jubilee Year of Mercy, a special exposition of the relics of St. Padre Pio (Pio of Pietrelcina) and St. Leopold Mandic will be on display in Rome from Feb. 3 to Feb. 11 as Lent gets underway. The relics will travel all over Rome and its environs, from the Basilica of St. Lawrence Outside the Walls on Feb. 3-4, to the Jubilee Church San Salvatore in Lauro on Feb. 4-5, to St. Peter’s Basilica from Feb. 6-11.
Padre Pio and Leopold are commonly recognized as holy men who served and dispensed the mercy of God with special fervor. St. Leopold, a Croatian who lived most of his life in Padua, became renowned for his dedication to the confessional and the administering of God’s forgiveness through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. When his fellow Capuchin Franciscans accused him of leniency, St. Leopold is said to have remarked, “Should the Crucified blame me for being lenient, I would answer Him: Lord, you gave me this bad example. I have not yet reached the folly of your having died for souls.”
Another Capuchin dedicated to the Sacrament of Reconciliation, Padre Pio became known all around the world for his stigmata, his physical manifestation of the crucifixion wounds of Jesus. Rumored to have additional gifts, including bilocation and the reading of hearts, the faithful flocked to Padre Pio as a pilgrimage site in his own right, and he sometimes spent as many as 16 hours a day in the confessional.
The relics of these two men, saints of the confessional and missionaries of the mercy of God, will be returned to their home dioceses on Feb. 11.
The relic display is just one many special events that the Vatican is holding during the Year of Mercy to the benefit of the expected millions of pilgrims to the Eternal City. Since the start of the Jubilee Year of Mercy Dec. 8, Rome already has welcomed nearly 1.4 million visitors to participate in events geared toward the Holy Year — and 40 percent of them had traveled from abroad.
In a special way, it is these pilgrims to whom Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization — the dicastery charged with organizing and implementing the jubilee year — and Pope Francis wish to reach out, welcoming them to the Eternal City and providing them with unique opportunities to seek the mercy of God. During a press conference at the Vatican Jan. 29, Archbishop Rino Fisichella, addressed additional events.

Mercy Fridays

Throughout the Year of Mercy, Pope Francis plans to perform a corporal work of mercy on one Friday each month. The first of these “Mercy Fridays” took place on Dec. 18 when Pope Francis opened the Door of Charity at a homeless shelter in Rome, Don Luigi di Liegro, and celebrated Mass. On Jan. 15, the Holy Father visited two nursing homes, one which houses only 33 people and one which serves only six. These six residents live there with their families, and a staff helps the family members to care for those in a persistent vegetative state. Pope Francis took the opportunity to speak briefly with each resident on these surprise visits. According to the Vatican, Pope Francis chose these locations to “highlight … the value and dignity of life in every situation.”

Extra general audiences on Saturday

In an effort to be able to greet more pilgrims who come to Rome, Pope Francis added an additional monthly general monthly general audience to his schedule, which will be held in addition to the weekly audience each Wednesday. The inaugural jubilee audience was held in St. Peter’s Square on Jan. 30. An estimated 30,000 people were in attendance, which is a marked difference from the average attendance of the Wednesday audiences in 2015, which was just under 15,000, according to the Prefecture of the Papal Household.
At the first of these jubilee audiences, Pope Francis called on all Christians to recognize the close link between mercy and mission, and encouraged Christians to share the Gospel and the joy that comes with the mercy of God, which he described as “the concrete sign that we have met Jesus.”

Missionaries of Mercy

On Ash Wednesday, Feb. 10, Pope Francis will officially commission the missionaries of mercy, and send them out all over the world. As Archbishop Fisichella described, these men are being charged by Pope Francis “to be privileged witnesses in their respective Churches of the extraordinariness of this Jubilee event.” Originally, there were going to be about 800 of these missionaries, but that number has swelled to around 1,071, according to organizers. These missionaries will be sent out to the whole world, to administer God’s mercy in a special way. They are even being granted the faculty to remit certain sins, the forgiveness of which are typically reserved to the Holy See. These missionaries will come from all over the world, and include priests of Eastern Rite Catholic Churches.
Reportedly around 700 of these priests will be present in Rome for the commissioning and sending-forth on Ash Wednesday. Only these priests will concelebrate with the pope at the Ash Wednesday Mass on Feb. 10.

24 Hours for the Lord

On March 4-5, Pope Francis will kick off and lead a celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation and Eucharistic Adoration, and has invited and encouraged churches all over the world to join.
Called “24 Hours for the Lord,” this is the third annual celebration of the event. The event begins with a penance service celebrated by Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Basilica on the evening of March 4. Parishes, communities, and dioceses throughout the world will be joining in, dedicating an entire day to the forgiveness of sins through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, as well as adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.

Pope Francis: Seeking the richness of faith in Mexico

The following comes from (VIS) :

Next week Pope Francis will begin his apostolic trip to Mexico. From 12 to 17 February he will visit Mexico City, Ecatepec, Tuxtla Gutierrez, San Cristobal de Las Casas, Morelia and Ciudad Juarez, and will pray before Our Lady of Guadalupe. For the occasion, the agency Notimex recorded a series of brief questions and expressions of hope for the Mexican people in four videos, presented to the Holy Father. The Pope responded with a video that will be broadcast today on the Notimex website. The following is a summary of the questions and answers. The images can be obtained from the Vatican Television Centre.

Question: Why are you coming to Mexico? What brings you to Mexico?

Pope Francis: "What moves me most is this: what are coming to look for in Mexico? I will come to Mexico not like a Wise Man loaded with things to bring, messages, ideas, solutions to problems … I come to Mexico as a pilgrim, to look for something among the Mexican people. … I come to seek the wealth of faith you have, I come for that infectious wealth of faith. You have an idiosyncrasy, a way of being that is the fruit of a very long road, a history that has been forged slowly, with pain, with success, with failures, with searching, but with a common thread. You have great richness in your heart and, above all, you are not an orphaned people, as you are proud to have a Mother, and when a man or a woman or a people do not forget their Mother, this provides a wealth that cannot be described; it is received and transmitted. So, I will go in search of some of this in you. A people that does not forget its Mother, the Mother who forged her people in hope".

Question: What does Our Lady of Guadalupe represent for the Pope?

Pope Francis: "Security, tenderness. Sometimes I am afraid of certain problems or something unpleasant happens and I do not know how to react, and I pray to her. I like to repeat to myself, 'Do not be afraid, am I not here, your Mother?'. They are her words: 'Do not be afraid'. … I feel this, that she is our Mother, who cares, protects and leads a people, who leads a family, who gives the warmth of home, who caresses with tenderness and who banishes fear. … It is an eloquent image, that of a Mother like a blanket who covers and cares, in the midst of her people. … This is what I feel before Her. … What I would ask you, as a favour, is that this time, the third time I will be on Mexican soil, that you will let me spend a moment before the image. That is the favour I ask of you".

Question: How would you help us to face the violence here?

Pope Francis: "Violence, corruption, war, children who cannot go to school because their country is at war, trafficking, arms manufacturers who sell weapons so that the wars of the world can continue … this is more or less the climate that we live in the world, and you are experiencing a part of it, a part of this 'war', this part of suffering, of violence, of organised trafficking. If I come to you, it is to receive the best of you and to pray with you, so that the problems … that you know exist may be resolved, because the Mexico of violence, the Mexico of corruption, the Mexico of drug trafficking, the Mexico of the cartels, is not the Mexico that our Mother loves, and of course I do not wish to cover up any of that; on the contrary, I would urge you to fight, day by day, against corruption, against trafficking, against war, against disunity, against organised crime, against human trafficking".

"'May you bring us a little peace', one of you said. Peace is something that must be worked on every day, and – to use a phrase that sounds like a contradiction – it must be fought for, every day. It is necessary to combat every day for peace, not for war. It is necessary to sow gentleness, understanding, peace. St. Francis prayed, 'Lord, make me an instrument of your peace'. I would like to be an instrument of peace in Mexico, but with all of you. … And how is peace formed? Peace is a craft, it is formed by hand. From the education of a child to the care for an elderly person: they are all seeds of peace. Peace is born of tenderness, peace is born of understanding, peace is born or is made in dialogue, not in rupture, and this is the key word: dialogue. Dialogue between leaders, dialogue with the people, and dialogue among all people. … Do not be afraid of listening to others, to seeing their motivations. And please, do not enter into any traps to make money; it enslaves life in an inner war and takes away freedom, because peace brings freedom. I come to ask the Virgin, along with you, to give us this peace, so that Our Lady of Guadalupe may give us peace in our heart, in the family, in the city, and in all the country".

Question: What do you wish for from us, and what are your hopes for us?

Pope Francis: "I come to serve, to be a servant of the faith for you … because I felt this vocation … to serve the faith of the people. But this faith must grow and go out into daily life; it must be a public faith. And faith becomes strong when it is public, above all … in moments of crisis. … It is true that there is a crisis of faith in the world. But it is also true that there is a great blessing and a desire … for faith to come forth, for faith to be missionary, for faith not to be closed up in a tin. Our faith is not a museum faith, and the Church is not a museum. Our faith is born of contact, of dialogue with Jesus Christ, our Saviour, with the Lord. … If faith does not go out into the street, it is no use; and taking faith out into the street does not mean merely a procession. That faith goes out into the street means that we show ourselves to be Christians in the workplace, in the family, at university, in college. … Faith wants to be on the streets, like Jesus. … Where did Jesus spend most of his time? On the street, preaching the Gospel, bearing witness. … Our faith demands that we too go forth, that we do not keep Jesus confined to ourselves without letting Him out, as Jesus goes out with us, so if we do not go forth, neither does He. … Renewing the faith means going out into the streets, not being afraid of conflict, seeking solutions to family, school, social and economic problems. Faith has to be my inspiration for my commitment to my people, and it has its risks and its dangers. I would like to end with some of our Mother's words; through me, she is saying to you, 'Do not be afraid of going forth, do not be afraid, my child, I am here and I am your Mother".

Saint of the day: Blaise, Bishop and Martyr

Today is the Feast of St. Blaise the Bishop and Martry! Don't forget to get your throat blessed... I could really use that myself as I am struggling with a cold! The following is from the EWTN Library:

It is not known precisely when or where St. Blaise lived, but according to tradition he was a bishop of Sebaste, Armenia, in the early part of the fourth century, and suffered martyrdom under the Roman emperor Licinius, who had commanded the governor of the province, one Agricolaus, to prevent the spread of Christianity in his territory. After this edict had been promulgated, Blaise fled to the mountains and lived in a cave frequented by wild beasts. He used his skill to heal the animals that he found wounded or sick, and when the emperor's hunters, bent on collecting wild animals for the royal games, discovered him in this cave, they carried him off to Agricolaus as a special prize.

On the way, the story goes, they met a poor woman whose pig had been seized by a wolf. At the command of Blaise, the wolf restored the pig to its owner, alive and unhurt. During the course of this journey he also miraculously cured a child who was choking to death on a fishbone. For this reason St. Blaise is often invoked by persons suffering from throat trouble. When he had reached the capital and was in prison awaiting execution, the old woman whose pig he had saved came to see him, bringing two fine wax candles to dispel the gloom of his dark cell. When he was finally killed, he is supposed to have been tortured with an iron comb or rake, and afterwards beheaded. In the West there was no cult honoring St. Blaise prior to the eighth century.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

It Is Well by Kristene DiMarco & Bethel Music

Overcoming Bad Habits

The following comes from the Catholic Gentleman: 

On Fridays, I post excerpts from the writings of the great American bishop and media evangelist, Ven. Fulton J. Sheen. I call them #FultonFridays.

“I have a bad temper,” or “I drink too much”—“”I am always criticizing,” or “I am lazy” are familiar complaints from those who still believe that nobility of character is an important goal. They would not make such admissions if they did not have a strong desire to break the chain of evil habits. They can realize this desire—any bad habit can be broken. But getting free of it requires four things:

Introspection is necessary in order that we shall isolate the habit and see it clearly as a sin. The surprise we feel when others criticize some fault in us proves that we have not practiced introspection sufficiently to know ourselves. Some people are afraid ever to look into their consciences, for frear of what they might find; they are like the other cowards who dare not open telegrams because they dread bad news.

But introspection is to the soul what diagnosis is to the body—the first necessary step toward health. The prodigal son “entered into himself” before he was able to resolve to admit his mistakes to his father. Turning the search-light of attention upon ourselves shows us the vice or evil habit which requires correction; it makes us see ourselves not as we wish we were, bus as we really are.

Avoiding the occasions of sin is the easiest way of avoiding sin itself. The way to keep out of trouble is to keep out of the situations that lead up to trouble: the man who gets burned whenever he is near a fire had better eschew fires. The alcoholic must void the first sip of the first drink; the libertine must keep away from pretty women, the evil-minded must flee the company of those who degrade him.

Our Lord said, “He that loveth the danger will perish therein.” Temptation is hard to overcome at the last moment, when the sin is within our reach; it is easy to overcome if we act decisively to avoid a situation in which we might be tempted.

Environments can make sin repulsive or attractive to us, for our surroundings affect us all. But we can choose the environment we wish and can ruthlessly reject the ones that lead to trouble. Our Lord told us, “If thy right eye is the occasion of thy falling into sin, pluck it out and cast it away from thee.” This means that if the books we read, the homes we visit, the games we play cause us to stumble morally, then we should cut them out and cast them from us.

An act of the will is vital to any accomplishment. Doctors tell us that nothing is a greater help to the sick than a will to live. So, if we are to overcome our vices, we must bring a strong will to bear on them. We acquired the bad habits only because we gave ground to them by a consent of the will, until they became automatic and perhaps even unconscious.

To master them, we must reverse the process and use the will to break their automatic functioning. Our characters do not consist in what we know, but in what we choose, and choosing is done by the will. After the Prodigal had entered into himself and left the environment of sin, his next step was to brace himself with great resolve, “I will arise and go to my father.”

A right philosophy of life is needed to complete the work, for evil habits cannot be overcome by the will alone: love is required as well. No alcoholic is cured until he finds something to value more highly than the attractions of alcohol. No other evil is renounced until the sinner finds some positive good he prizes above his sin. Our Lord warned us of the house, swept and garnished, which was filled by seven devils worse than the first; this was the inevitable result when an evil was driven out but no good was sent to take its place. Even in the moral world, nature abhors a vacuum.

Evil habits are not driven out by our hate of them (for we do not always hate them properly). They are crowded out by our our love of something else. The new love that takes possession of us must be bigger than ourselves… for it is our selves which need amendment. It cannot safely be anything earthly that we use as a substitute love; the man who cure himself of dissipation through pride or ambition may be worse off, in his reform, than in his sin. No new, competing love is large enough except the love of God Himself, with all that that love makes us long to do. St. Augustine summarized its effects when he said, “Love God, and do what you will.” For if you love God truly, you will never wish to hurt hi, any more than you would wish to hurt a human friend.

Habits cannot be efficaciously fought unless we have a philosophy which makes our lives revolve around the God for Whom we are made, and without Whom we are miserably bound to the drab companionship of our own growing imperfections.

Feast of the Presentation of the Lord

The following comes from Bishop Paul Etienne of Wyoming:

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord in the temple, or as some may remember, Candle Mass Day. We recall today the moment Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to the temple in keeping with the tradition of Israel of purification. As the readings today recall, it is the fulfilment of yet one more promise of God: And suddenly there will come to the temple the LORD whom you seek, (Malachi 3:1-4).

The arrival of the Christ child in the temple is a marvelous revelation of not only the promise of God, but the glory and splendor of God. The words of the prophet Simeon in today’s Gospel proclaims this Light and Glory:

Master, now you let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in the sight of all the peoples: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel. (Luke 2:29-32)

But the phrase from today’s feast marking yet another moment in the life of our Savior that caught my attention is one that I’ve never understood as well as today’s grace provides. Simeon goes on in prophetic language in regards to the life and ministry of Jesus: Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted…

Surely, the “fall” does speak to any philosophy or government that does not acknowledge the Truth of Jesus Christ. But, more than that, it seems to speak to the basic human experience of every person. The “destiny” of Jesus is to bring all of us into the life of God, to restore what was lost through sin, to transform what has lost its original beauty, to redeem and restore the lost children of Israel (all humanity) to the one family of God.

This “fall” is the experience of “surrendering to God”. It is one of the first steps in conversion; to bend the knee at the name of Jesus; to acknowledge Him as the “stumbling block” to all my false hopes and misguided priorities.

But the “fall” in Jesus is always a part of the “rising”, for He comes to “lift us up” to the face of God. By the grace of God, Simeon foresaw all of this the moment the Glory of the Lord filled the temple at the arrival of Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

Jesus is the “sign of contradiction” we continue to preach today in a culture that resists His name, presence and Truth. He gives us the grace to speak and witness to Him and to God’s Kingdom, because we live no longer for ourselves or for the honor of others. We live only for Him. We live in Him. We live through Him for the building up of God’s Kingdom. Today, we pray that all that resists this Kingdom of God may “fall”, only to rise again in the fullness of God’s vision for His people.


Monday, February 1, 2016

A Medjugorje Documentary

The Mission / How Great Thou Art by ThePianoGuys

Monks of St. Bernard Abbey

The Benedictine Monks of St. Bernard Abbey from Electric Peak Creative on Vimeo.