Saturday, April 18, 2015

Learn to Preserve Inner Peace

The following comes from the Catholic Exchange:
Sometimes you might fall into some sin or negligence in word or deed, such as disturbing yourself at anything which happens to you, or murmuring, or listening to murmuring, or falling into some dispute, irritation, curiosity, or suspicion of others, or into any other fault, whether it be one or many falls.
In such cases, you ought not to be disturbed or disheartened or saddened at the thought of what has happened, nor be confounded within yourself, at one time, believing that you will never be free from such infirmities, at another, that your faults and irresolution are the cause of them, or again, imagining that you are not walking in the spirit and way of the Lord, with a thousand other fears, pressing down your soul at every step with discontent and cowardice.
Otherwise you would feel ashamed to present yourself before God, or you would do so in a spirit of distrust, as though you had not preserved that faith in Him which is His due. And as a remedy, you would waste time in pondering over these things, scrutinizing how much you harbored the thought and whether you consented to it, whether it was voluntary or was at once put away. And, from taking the wrong road, the more you think of it, the less you are able to make up your mind about it, and the more your weariness, perplexity, and anxiety to confess it increase.
And so you go to Confession with a tedious fear, and, after having lost much time in making your confession, your spirit is even more uneasy than it was before it, for fear that you have not told all. Thus your life is one spent in bitterness and anxiety, with little fruit, and with the loss in a great measure of its reward.
All this comes from not knowing your own natural weakness and the way the soul should bear itself toward God. For after having fallen into all the faults we have enumerated, or into any others, we may more easily approach God by a humble and loving conversion, than by the spirit of grief and discontent at the fault itself, in the case of the examination of venial and ordinary sins, to which alone I now allude. For it is only into such sins as these that a soul that lives in the manner I am now supposing is wont to fall. And I am speaking only of those persons who lead a spiritual life and are striving to ad­vance in it, and are free from mortal sin. For those who live carelessly and in mortal sin, and are always more or less of­fending God, have need of a different kind of exhortation; and this medicine is not for them. Such persons should be troubled and ought to weep and to make their examination and confession with much thought, lest, through their own fault and indifference, they render the remedy that is necessary for their salvation unavailing.
To return, then, to speak of the quiet and peace in which the servant of God should ever abide, I will go further and say that this conversion must be understood to apply — in order that there might be entire trust in God — not only to slight and daily faults, but also to such as are greater and more grave than usual, if at any time the Lord should permit you to fall into such; even though they may be many together, and are not merely the effects of weakness and frailty, but of willfulness. For the contrition that only disturbed the soul and filled it with scruples will never lead it to perfection, unless it is combined with this loving confidence in the goodness and mercy of God.
And this is especially necessary in the case of persons who not only seek to rise out of their miseries, but would also ac­quire a high degree of sanctity and a great love for and union with God.
Many spiritual persons, from not wishing to understand this aright, ever bear about with them a heart and a spirit bro­ken and distrustful, which hinders their spiritual progress and capacity for the higher graces, which one after another God has prepared for them. These often lead a sort of life that is very wretched, useless, and pitiable, because they will follow only their own imaginations and will not embrace the true and wholesome doctrine that leads by the royal road to the high and solid virtues of the Christian life and to that peace which was left us by Christ Himself.
Such persons, whenever they find themselves in some dis­quietude through doubts of conscience, should seek the coun­sel of their spiritual father or of someone whom they think capable of giving them the advice they need, and should com­mit themselves to him and rest entirely in his judgment.

Praying to Mary: A Biblical Defense

Friday, April 17, 2015

Msgr. Charles Pope: A Reflection on the "Look" of Christ


The following comes from Msgr. Pope:
I have a large icon of Christ in my room. What icons from the Eastern tradition do best is to capture “the look.” No matter where I move in the room Christ is looking right at me. His look is intense, though not severe. In the Eastern spirituality, icons are windows into Heaven. Hence this icon is no mere portrait that reminds one of Christ; it is an image that mediates His presence. When I look upon Him, I experience that He knows me. It is a knowing look, a comprehensive look. 
The Book of Hebrews says of Jesus, No creature is concealed from him, but everything is naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must render an account(Heb 4:13). His look in the icon is not fearsome; it is serene and confident. The text from Hebrews goes on to say, Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has similarly been tested in every way, yet without sin. So let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help (Heb 4:14-16).     
Particularly in Mark’s Gospel there is great emphasis on the eyes and the look of Jesus. A frequent expression appearing in that Gospel is “And looking at them He said …”  This phrase, or something like it, occurs more than 25 times in Mark’s Gospel. Looking on Christ and allowing Him to look on you is a powerful moment of conversion. Jesus Himself said, For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day (Jn 6:40). The First Letter of John says, What we shall later be has not yet been revealed. We do know that when it is revealed  we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is (1 Jn 3:2).
Keep looking to the Lord in this Easter season, in the art that most moves and especially in the Most Blessed Sacrament. Look at Him and let Him look at you.
This video (above) is a wonderful collection of  many of the looks of Jesus and the reaction of the people to them. Pay special attention to it. The video also features a lot of “looks” that come from us. Notice how people look upon Jesus and how they as human beings react as they do so. Look for the “looks” in this video. The final looks are especially moving.

Pope Francis to Consecrate World to Mary's Immaculate Heart

The following comes from Aleteia:

Pope Francis will consecrate the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary this Oct. 13 as part of the Marian Day celebration that will involve the statue of Our Lady of the Rosary of Fatima.

“The Holy Father strongly desires that the Marian Day may have present, as a special sign, one of the most significant Marian icons for Christians throughout the world and, for that reason, we thought of the beloved original Statue of Our Lady of Fatima,” wrote Archbishop Rino Fisichella.

Archbishop Fisichella, who serves as president of the pontifical council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, made his remarks in a letter to Bishop Antonio Marto of Leiria-Fatima.

According to the Portuguese shrine's website, the statue of Our Lady of Fatima will leave for Rome on the morning of Oct. 12 and return on the afternoon of Oct. 13. The statue normally resides in the shrine’s Little Chapel of Apparitions.

The archbishop said that “all ecclesial entities of Marian spirituality” are invited to take part in the celebration. Hundreds of movements and institutions that emphasize Marian devotion are expected to attend, the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima says.

The two-day observance includes an Oct. 12 pilgrimage to the tomb of St. Peter and moments of prayer and meditation. On Oct. 13, Pope Francis will celebrate Mass in St. Peter’s Square.

Our Lady of Fatima appeared to three shepherd children in the village of Fatima in Portugal in 1917. She warned of violent trials in the twentieth century if the world did not make reparation for sins. She urged prayer and devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

At the request of Pope Francis, Cardinal Jose Polycarp, the Patriarch of Lisbon, consecrated the Pope’s pontificate to Our Lady of Fatima on May 13, her feast day.

St. Kateri Tekakwitha from Salt and Light TV


St. Clement of Rome on the Eucharist

St. Clement was the third successor of Peter as Bishop of Rome; otherwise known as the third Pope. 
"Since then these things are manifest to us, and we have looked into the depths of the divine knowledge, we ought to do in order all things which the Master commanded us to perform at appointed times. He commanded us to celebrate sacrifices and services, and that it should not be thoughtlessly or disorderly, but at fixed times and hours. He has Himself fixed by His supreme will the places and persons whom He desires for these celebrations, in order that all things may be done piously according to His good pleasure, and be acceptable to His will. So then those who offer their oblations at the appointed seasons are acceptable and blessed, but they follow the laws of the Master and do not sin. For to the high priest his proper ministrations are allotted, and to the priests the proper place has been appointed, and on Levites their proper services have been imposed. The layman is bound by the ordinances for the laity."
St. Clement, bishop of Rome, 80 A.D., to the Corinthians

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Ain't No Grave by Crowder

Another Quote from Don Bosco

"Entrust everything to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and to Mary Help of Christians and you will see what miracles are."  
St. John Bosco

Saint of the day: Bernadette of Lourdes


Today we remember the holy visionary from Lourdes St. Bernadette! The following comes from the Catholic Pilgrims page:

Bernadette Soubirous is the saint of Lourdes, France. Visionary and messenger of the Immaculate Conception, she told us the very words of the Virgin Mary, spoken in the native Basque tongue of Southern France and Northern Spain. She spoke words teaching of the merits of prayer, penance, poverty and church. In the first and most widely recognized Marian apparition of modern times, a personal message was delivered also to Bernadette—She would not find happiness in this world, but only in the next.

She was to die twenty–one years later in 1879 after a prolonged and painful illness. She remained hidden in a convent about 300 miles from home, a refuge from the interrogations and the pilgrims that never ceased seeking her. At thirty–five, her strong–willed manner gave way to her frail body, and she finally entered into her eternal happiness.
While she took with her the knowledge of certain secrets the Virgin gave her, one secret remained hidden in our presence. The most spectacular of all the incorruptibles, Bernadette's miraculously preserved body remained buried in a damp grave for thirty years until the cause for beatification was taken up. To this day, the body of Bernadette is a profound source of inspiration and of mystery surrounding the ways of the Lord. The face of Bernadette is one of surreal beauty, and will remain for us always the face that gazed into the eyes of the Mother of God.

Saint Benedict Joseph Labre

This is an update of a post on St. Benedict Joseph that I did last year. What a wonderful saint!

When I was a newly ordained priest at Salesian High in New Rochelle, NY I was able to go for spritual direction to Fr. Benedict Groeschel, CFR. Fr. Benedict gave me the biography of St. Benedict Joseph Labre to read. I had never heard of this saint before, but was greatly impressed by the story of his life! Today is his Feast Day! His is a beautiful and sad story.

Benedict Joseph was the oldest of 15 children of a middle class family. He was educated by his uncle, a parish priest. Following his uncle's death, he tried to join the Trappists, Carthusians, and Cistercians, but was rejected by them all. He then spent years wandering Europe, especially Rome, in complete poverty, spending his days in perpetual adoration in the cathedrals and churches he came upon. Benedict would go into religious ecstasy when contemplating the passion of Christ. He was reputed to float, soar, and bilocate when in ecstasy. He begged in the streets, and if he was given more than he needed for the day, he would give the remainder to some one he considered more in need. He cured some of his fellow homeless, and multiplied bread for them. Benedict Joseph was counselor to people of all walks of life in Rome.

On the last day of his life, April 16, 1783, Benedict Joseph dragged himself to a church in Rome and prayed there for two hours before he collapsed, dying peacefully in a nearby house. His biography, written by his confessor Marconi, describes 136 miraculous cures attributed to him within three months of his death. Immediately after his death the people proclaimed him a saint. He was officially proclaimed a saint by Pope Leo XIII at canonization ceremonies in 1883.

God’s Holiness Makes Us Uncomfortable

The following comes from the Catholic Exchange:
There is a third human reaction to God’s holiness. It is an evil reaction; it rises from man’s contradictory nature and consists of a feeling of discomfort, irritation, and rebelliousness. A strange manifestation! One is inclined to ask how this can come about if God is the moving Spirit and essence of the universe, and man is His creature — “For in Him we live, and move, and are.”
It is indeed difficult to understand; it springs from the mystery of evil. Sin, ultimately, is resistance to the holiness of God. It would be a mistake to think of this resistance merely as an open rebellion against, or as a denial of, God.
Potentially it is present in all of us — sometimes stronger, sometimes weaker; sometimes quite openly, sometimes in the guise of self-sufficient (rational) culture, or healthy common sense. When resistance, open or otherwise, gains the upper hand, prayer becomes impossible.
We must watch out for signs of it in ourselves; we must face it, try to resolve or still it, or overcome it with firm determination, whichever may be for us the most effective way of dealing with it. Let us leave this and return to the two fundamental motives of prayer already referred to.

Prayer’s first motive: a sense of our own sinfulness

The first motive for prayer springs from man’s awareness of his own unworthiness before the holiness of God. Man recognizes that he is selfish, unjust, deficient, and impure. He acknowledges his own wrongdoings and tries to assess them: not merely those of today or of yesterday, but of the whole of his life. Beyond this he tries to visualize the whole of the human condition with its shortcomings. He realizes sin as it is understood by the Scriptures, sin as it is active in himself. He recognizes that sin is transgression of the moral law and of the natural law.
But even more, he recognizes that sin is contumacy before God’s holiness, that it is, therefore, not only wicked but unholy. He admits it and sides with God against himself; he says, in the words of the Psalm: “For I know my iniquity, and my sin is always before me. Against Thee only have I sinned, and have done evil before Thee: that Thou mayst be justified in Thy words, and mayst overcome when Thou art judged.”

We sometimes despair

A third form of evasion is caused by lack of courage. When man sees that he is constantly transgressing and that evil is deeply rooted in him, when he begins to feel that all is confusion and that there is no way out, he runs the risk of despairing of himself, especially when he is a person wanting in willpower and, perhaps, in logic. To hold out in these circumstances is most difficult because the mind seems to answer to all good intentions, “You’re not going to carry this through; you will do again what you have always done before.” There is only one remedy: to put aside all inner searchings and recriminations, to have done with all hesita­tions, and to put one’s absolute trust in God who “quickeneth the dead; and calleth those things that are not, as those that are.”
From this act of surrender to the Absolute, above and within us, will spring new resolve and new strength. We shall be able to say, “I will and shall, for God the omnipotent wills it.”

God’s forgiveness makes repentance possible

There is another mysterious aspect of God’s power which makes it possible for man to acknowledge his wrong and to admit and confess his sins. Man knows this intuitively, and the Scriptures have revealed it to us. God is not only the prime cause of the good and the fount of all justice; He is the all-renewer. He can give a new beginning to what appears final and He can undo all deeds. The words of St. Paul quoted above point to this mystery. God who is the supreme holiness, which by definition excludes all evil, is willing and able to forgive and to renew.
True forgiveness, the forgiveness which we are seeking and which alone is of benefit to us, is a great mystery. It implies not only that God decides to overlook what has happened and turns lovingly toward the sinner; this would not be sufficient. God’s forgiveness is creative: it makes him who has become guilty free of all guilt. God gathers the guilty man into His holiness, makes him partake of it, and gives him a new beginning. It is to this mystery that man appeals when he acknowledges his sins, repents of them, and seeks forgiveness. This is the first of those two motives of prayer which come into being before God’s holiness.
Editor’s note: This article has been adapted from Romano Guardini’s The Art of Praying, available from Sophia Institute Press. 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Fall Afresh by The Digital Age

A Padre Pio Quote

My past, O Lord, to your Mercy; my present, to your Love; my future, to your Providence!  
St. Padre Pio

Fr. Robert Barron on the Kingdom of God

St. Justin Martyr on the Eucharist

St. Justin Martyr was born a pagan but converted to Christianity after studying philosophy. He was a prolific writer and many Church scholars consider him the greatest apologist or defender of the faith from the 2nd century. He was beheaded with six of his companions some time between 163 and 167 A.D.
"This food we call the Eucharist, of which no one is allowed to partake except one who believes that the things we teach are true, and has received the washing for forgiveness of sins and for rebirth, and who lives as Christ handed down to us. For we do not receive these things as common bread or common drink; but as Jesus Christ our Savior being incarnate by God's Word took flesh and blood for our salvation, so also we have been taught that the food consecrated by the Word of prayer which comes from him, from which our flesh and blood are nourished by transformation, is the flesh and blood of that incarnate Jesus."
"First Apology", A.D. 148-155.

Michael Coren: Ten Lies About Christianity

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Overcome by Digital Age

Pope Francis: Christians must share their riches with the needy

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis says that Christians must not hoard their riches, but offer them in service to the needy.

He was speaking on Tuesday morning during Mass at the Casa Santa Marta.

Taking his cue from a passage of the Acts of the Apostles that describes life in the first Christian community, Pope Francis said that a community that is renewed in the Spirit seeks harmony and endures suffering with patience.

Referring to the four characteristics that defined the first Christian community of Jerusalem as a place of unity and love, the Pope said the first is harmony; the second is common good:

“A community that is renewed in the Spirit has the grace of unity and harmony. The only one who can give us harmony is the Holy Spirit because he is harmony between the Father and the Son. The second characteristic is common good: ‘no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own,
but they had everything in common, there was no needy person among them’. Yes, there were some rich persons, but their riches were offered in service of the community. These are two characteristics of a community that lives in the Spirit”.

And then, speaking of the gift of patience when one is in difficulty, the Pope referred to a passage from the Acts which tells of Ananias and Sapphira who tried to cheat the community. He said they entered the community pretending to be benefactors but they used the Church for their own affairs.

And staying with the theme of patience, the Pope said: “And then there are the persecutions that had been announced by Jesus as narrated in Matthew’s Beatitudes: ‘pray for those who persecute you, I will be the cause of your persecution…”

In that first Christian community that was reborn in Holy Spirit the Pope said: “there was poverty, there was common good, but there were also problems: outside and inside – like that couple of profiteers inside, and the persecutions outside”.

Quoting from Peter when he tells the community that its faith is being tested and it is “more precious than gold that is perishable even though tested by fire”, Pope Francis said that the community which is reborn in the Holy Spirit is purified ‘through difficulties and amidst persecutions’.

The third characteristic of a renewed community the Pope said: “is the patience to put up with problems, to endure difficulties and pain, to stand up to malicious gossip, to suffer illness and the loss of dear ones”.

A Christian community – the Pope continued – shows that it is renewed in the Holy Spirit “when it is in search of harmony” and not internal division: “when it seeks poverty, and does not hoard riches for itself, because riches are to be put to the service of the needy”, and when “it does not show anger” or offense in the face of difficulties, but is patient like Jesus:

“In this second week of Easter, during which we celebrate the Easter mysteries, it would be a good thing to think of our communities, be they diocesan communities, parish communities, family communities or other, and ask for the grace of harmony” – a gift of the Spirit; “ask for the gift of poverty – not misery, but poverty: the capacity to manage my possessions with generosity and for common good”; to ask for the grace of patience.

May the Lord – Pope Francis concluded – “make us understand that not only have each one of us received the grace of a new birth through Baptism, but so have our communities”.