Thursday, August 16, 2018

Fr. Jozo Zovko: He That Can Separate You From The Altar is Your Only Enemy

The following comes from In God's Company 2:


Fr. Jozo Zovko speaks of the Holy Eucharist


Place your life upon this altar. You will witness how a priest will place a drop of water within a chalice full of wine. That drop of water intermingles with the wine and signifies you in the Holy Mass. You can become one, unite with and intermingle with Jesus. That is why the Holy Mass is called Communion ...union with God ...you and your God together ...that is the Holy Eucharist. All of us together and Jesus. That is the church, and that is where the one, holy Catholic apostolic church comes from.
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 "He who can separate you from the altar is your only enemy. There is no other" 
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Every time we come into the church and celebrate the Holy Mass, that is our embrace, our hanging onto Our Lord and saying, "Lord where would we go, for you are the Word of Life." Where did the martyrs gain so much strength from? In the Church, where did the witnesses gain their strength from? To date, in this year, 23 missionaries have been murdered around the world in four months. That is a lot. How can a man give his life for Jesus simply, with delight? It is the Holy Mass that does this within us, so that for you I'm able to give my very eyes, my arms and my life, my everything as Jesus gave His all; and the same way the Christian must give his all.

 Yes, once again, I must return to the Holy Mass and the Holy Eucharist. Why is it that churches and sects do not tolerate the Mass, do not respect Our Lady? Because they go hand-in-hand. Yes, they go together. Our Lady teaches to come to love Jesus, to fall in love with Him, and that is why she places us before the Holy Eucharist, and pleads with us to pray before this holy, blessed Sacrament, so from Jesus we may learn to become bread for others; so that I not have fear to say, "Take this, all of you, of me, and eat of it."

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

The Glorious Assumption: A Reflection by Archbishop Sheen

How could we fail to love her whom our Lord loved so much? It is impossible to love Christ adequately without also loving the Mother who gave Him to us.

Those who begin by ignoring her soon end by ignoring him, for the two are inseparable in the great drama of redemption.

As children who wish to influence their father go to their mother to intercede for them, so do we go to Mary.

It is absolutely impossible to convey to anyone outside the Church the filial devotion we bear that sweet Mother of Mothers.

Devotion to the Blessed Mother brought me to the discovery of a new dimension of the sacredness of suffering.

When I had open-heart surgery, only gradually did it dawn on me during my first four months in the hospital that the Blessed Mother not only gives sweets, but she also gives bitter medicine.

Seventy pints of blood were poured into my body after open-heart surgery because for a long time the body refused to circulate the blood. This blood came from those who poured their own blood into the blood bank of Lenox Hill Hospital.

Too striking to be missed was that on three feast days of Our Lady, I was brought to the door of death and endured great suffering.

The first was the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, July 16, when the doctors stayed with me all day and all night trying to preserve the small flickering spark of life. Then came another operation on the Feast of her Assumption, August 15, and the implanting of a pacemaker.

By this time, I was beginning to feel a kind of holy dread of what might happen on September 8, when the Church celebrates her birthday.

Sure enough, a kidney infection developed which, over a period of several weeks, made me feel some new tortures.

As I reflected on this concomitance of the Church festivals of Mary and my enforced solidarity with the Cross, I took it as a sign of the special predilection of Mary. If the Lord called her, who 'deserved' no pain, to stand at the foot of the Cross, why should He not call me?

If I had expressed a love for her as the Mother of the Priesthood, why should she not, in maternal love, make me more like her Son by forcing me to become a victim?

Any spirituality that I have revolves around the crucifix and the price of my redemption and the assurance of my resurrection.

The pectoral cross, which I carry, is a crucifix. In my bedroom is a large crucifix about six feet high which, in my long confinement to bed, is the panorama of salvation which I gaze on during the day, and at night when waking.

In my chapel is a painting done by the cardiologist who saved my life, Dr. Simon Stertzer. It is a painting of Christ on the Cross-with a concentration on the eyes, which looks out both in pity and in love, as did the Second Look on Peter.

The second year after the open-heart surgery, because of overwork, I was confined to my bed again for many months. During that time, I instructed four converts and validated two marriages.

The horizontal apostolate may sometimes be just as effective as the vertical.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

St. Maximilian Kolbe: Priest, Saint and Hero


The following comes from Neal Obstat:

Saint Maximilian Maria Kolbe, whose feast day is today, was killed on August 14, 1941 in a starvation bunker at the Auschwitz Concentration Camp; was cremated on August 15; and was canonized by Pope John Paul II in 1982 as a ‘martyr of charity.’ Those two numbers in the subject line are the Nazi’s dehumanizing arm-branded numbers for Fr. Kolbe and the man he exchanged places with, Franciszek Gajowniczek.

Good-Death
Among the many extraordinary characteristics of this saint, it was his manner of dying that stands as the true canon, or measure of his Christian holiness.
He breathed heaven into the darkest hell on earth, psalmody into the wailing dungeon, joy into the pit of despair, and love into the epitome of hate. As his Master on the Cross had done, he reminded all Christians, and all humanity, that it is precisely in the darkest moments that mercy must shine most brightly. Indeed, I am convinced that it is on this hinge that the ‘success’ of the new evangelization hangs — we are disciples of Christ Crucified in the face of our foe, or we are no Christians at all.
Eyewitness
Here is an account of Kolbe’s last days given by eyewitness Bruno Borgowiec:
The ten condemned to death went through terrible days. From the underground cell in which they were shut up there continually arose the echo of prayers and canticles. The man in-charge of emptying the buckets of urine found them always empty. Thirst drove the prisoners to drink the contents. Since they had grown very weak, prayers were now only whispered. At every inspection, when almost all the others were now lying on the floor, Father Kolbe was seen kneeling or standing in the centre as he looked cheerfully in the face of the SS men.

Father Kolbe never asked for anything and did not complain, rather he encouraged the others, saying that the fugitive might be found and then they would all be freed. One of the SS guards remarked: this priest is really a great man. We have never seen anyone like him.

Two weeks passed in this way. Meanwhile one after another they died, until only Father Kolbe was left. This the authorities felt was too long. The cell was needed for new victims. So one day they brought in the head of the sick-quarters, a German named Bock, who gave Father Kolbe an injection of carbolic acid in the vein of his left arm. Father Kolbe, with a prayer on his lips, himself gave his arm to the executioner. Unable to watch this I left under the pretext of work to be done. Immediately after the SS men had left I returned to the cell, where I found Father Kolbe leaning in a sitting position against the back wall with his eyes open and his head drooping sideways. His face was calm and radiant…

Monday, August 13, 2018

Maximilian Mary Kolbe: Saint of Auschwitz



August 14 is the feast of St. Maximilian Kolbe! This wonderful saint was a remarkable witness to the world of the love of Christ for others. The following comes from Holy Spirit Interactive:

Raymond Kolbe was born in Poland in 1894. He joined the Franciscan order in 1907 and took the name that we know him by: Maximilian. Maximilian loved his vocation very much, and he especially loved the Blessed Mother. He added the name "Mary" when he pronounced solemn vows in 1914. Father Maximilian Mary was convinced that the world of the twentieth century needed their Heavenly Mother to guide and protect them. He used the press to make Mary more widely known. He and his fellow Franciscans published two monthly newsletters that soon went to readers around the world. The Mother of God blessed Father Maximilian's work. He built a large center in Poland. This center was called "City of the Immaculate." By 1938, eight hundred Franciscans lived there and labored to make the love of Mary known. Father Kolbe also started another City of the Immaculate in Nagasaki, Japan. Still another was begun in India. ~1938, the Nazis invaded the Polish City of the Immaculate. They stopped the wonderful work going on there. In 1941, the Nazis arrested Father Kolbe. They sentenced him to hard manual labor at Auschwitz. He was at Auschwitz three months when a prisoner successfully escaped. The Nazis made the rest of the prisoners pay for the escape. They chose ten prisoners at random to die in the starvation bunker. All the prisoners stood at attention, while ten men were pulled out of line. One chosen prisoner, a married man with a family, begged and pleaded to be spared for the sake of his children. Father Kolbe, who had not been picked, listened and felt deeply moved to help that suffering prisoner. He stepped forward and asked the commander if he could take the man's place. The commander accepted his offer.

Father Kolbe and the other prisoners were marched into the starvation bunker. They remained alive without food or water for several days. One by one, as they died, Father Kolbe helped and comforted them. He was the last to die. An injection of carbolic acid hastened his death on August 14, 1941. Pope John Paul II proclaimed him a saint and a martyr in 1982. St. Maximilian Mary Kolbe is the kind of person we all want to be. He was a hero who gave up his life that someone else might live. He was such a special person because he was a great friend of the Blessed Mother. We can be friends of Mary, too, if we honor her and pray to her.


For more information on St. Maximilian check out the post at kolbe.net!

Today is day 6 of my retreat. Please continue to pray for your humble blogger!

Thomas Merton on Humility

“It is almost impossible to overestimate the value of true humility and its power in the spiritual life. For the beginning of humility is the beginning of blessedness and the consummation of humility is the perfection of all joy. Humility contains in itself the answer to all the great problems of the life of the soul. It is the only key to faith, with which the spiritual life begins: for faith and humility are inseparable. In perfect humility all selfishness disappears and your soul no longer lives for itself or in itself for God: and it is lost and submerged in Him and transformed into Him.” - from “New Seeds of Contemplation”

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Pope John Paul II's Prayer for Vocations

Holy and provident Father, You are the Lord of the vineyard and the harvest and You give each a just reward for their work. In your design of love You call men and women to work with You for the salvation of the world. We thank You for Jesus Christ, your living word, who has redeemed us from our sins and is among us to assist us in our poverty. Guide the flock to which You have promised possession of the kingdom. Send new workers into your harvest and set in the hearts of pastors faithfulness to your plan of salvation, perseverance in their vocation and holiness of life.

Christ Jesus, who on the shores of the Sea of Galilee called the Apostles and made them the foundation of the Church and bearers of your Gospel, in our day, sustain your people on its journey. Give courage to those whom You call to follow You in the priesthood and the consecrated life, so that they may enrich God's field with wisdom of your Word. Make them docile instruments of your love in everyday service of their brothers and sisters.

Spirit of holiness, who pour out your gifts on all believers and, especially, on those called to be Christ's ministers, help young people to discover the beauty of the divine call. Teach them the true way of prayer, which is nourished by the Word of God. Help them to read the signs of the times, so as to be faithful interpreters of your Gospel and bearers of salvation.

Mary, Virgin who listened and Virgin of the Word of God made flesh in your womb, help us to be open to the Word of the Lord, so that, having been welcomed and meditated upon, it may grow in our hearts. Help us to live like You the beatitudes of believers and to dedicate ourselves with unceasing charity to evangelizing all those who seek your Son. Grant that we may serve every person, becoming servants of the Word we have heard, so that remaining faithful to it we may find our happiness in living it.

Amen.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Silence: A necessary condition for deep, contemplative prayer


The following comes from The Catholic World Report:

Many Catholics rightly complain about the absence of silence in some forms of the celebration of our Roman liturgy. It seemed to us important, therefore, in this short essay, to recall the meaning of silence as a Christian ascetical value, and therefore as a necessary condition for deep, contemplative prayer, without forgetting the fact that times of silence are officially prescribed during the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, so as to highlight the importance of silence for a high-quality liturgical renewal.

1. Silence as a Christian ascetical value

In the negative sense, silence is the absence of noise. It can be exterior or interior. Exterior silence involves the absence of sounds both in words and in actions (noises of doors, vehicles, jackhammers, and airplanes, the noisy mechanism of cameras, often accompanied by dazzling flashes, and also of that horrible forest of cell phones that are brandished at arm’s length during our Eucharistic liturgies). Virtuous or mystical silence obviously must be distinguished from reproachful silence, from the refusal to speak to someone, from the silence of omission through cowardice, egotism, or hard-heartedness.

Of course, exterior silence is an ascetical exercise of self-mastery in the use of speech. First of all it may be helpful to recall what asceticism is; this word is not praised to the skies by our consumer society—far from it!—and, we must admit, it frightens our contemporaries, including very often the Christians who are influenced by the spirit of the world. Well, then, what is asceticism? Asceticism is an indispensable means that helps us to remove from our life anything that weighs it down, in other words, anything that hampers our spiritual or interior life and therefore is an obstacle to prayer. Yes, it is indeed in prayer that God communicates his Life to us, in other words, manifests his presence in our soul by irrigating it with the streams of his Trinitarian Love: the Father through the Son in the Holy Spirit. And prayer is essentially silence. Chattering, the tendency to externalize all the treasures of the soul by expressing them, is supremely harmful to the spiritual life. Carried away toward the exterior by his need to say everything, the chatterer cannot help being far from God, superficial and incapable of any profound activity.

The wisdom books of the Old Testament (Prov 10:8, 11, 13, 14, 18-21, 31, 32; 15:1-7; Sir 19:7-12; 20:1-2, 5-8 or 23:7-15; 28:13-26) are chock-full of exhortations aimed at avoiding sins of the tongue (in particular, slander and calumny). The prophetic books, for their part, mention silence as the expression of reverential fear of God; it is then a preparation for the theophany of God, in other words, the revelation of His presence in our world (Lam 3:26; Zeph 1:7; Hab 2:20; Is 41:1; Zech 2:13). The New Testament is not outdone in this respect. Indeed, there is the Letter of James, which clearly remains the classic passage about controlling the tongue (Jas 3:1-10). However, we know that Jesus himself warned us against wicked words, which are the expression of a depraved heart (Mt 15:19) and even against idle words, for which an accounting will be demanded of us (Mt 12:36). In contrast, we can only be impressed by the silence of Jesus before the Sanhedrin, the Roman governor Pilate and King Herod: Jesus autem tacebat (Mt 26:63). Herod asked him to work a miracle for him personally, and his courtiers would have been amused by it. But Jesus Christ, who was in chains—he, the God of majesty—did not consent to become the buffoon of King Herod, nor to do for that proud man whose curiosity was unhealthy what he granted so generously to the humble and the uneducated.

In reality, true, good silence always belongs to someone who is willing to let others have his place, and especially the Completely-Other, God. In contrast, external noise characterizes the individual who wants to occupy an over-important place, to strut or to show off, or else who wants to fill his interior emptiness, as is the case in many stores and public facilities, and also particularly in the waiting rooms of some dentists, hairdressers..., where they impose incessant background music on you.

As for interior silence, it can achieved by the absence of memories, plans, interior speech, worries…. Still more important, thanks to an act of the will, it can result from the absence of disordered affections or excessive desires. The Fathers of the Church assign an eminent place to silence in the ascetical life. Think of Saint Ambrose (In psalm. 37, 12-15), Saint Augustine, Saint Gregory the Great (Moralia II, 48; XXII, 16; XXX, 16), not to mention Chapter VI of the Rule of Saint Benedict of Nursia on “taciturnity,” or Chapter 62 on grand silence at night, where he adopts the teaching of Cassian. Starting with those spiritual masters, all the medieval founders of religious orders, followed by the mystics of the Catholic Counter-Reformation, insisted not only on the ascetical but also on the mystical importance of silence.

2. Silence as a condition for contemplative prayer

The Gospels say that the Savior himself prayed in silence, particularly at night (Lk 6:12), or while withdrawing to deserted places (Lk 5:16; Mk 1:35). Silence is typical of the meditation by the Word of God; we find it again particularly in Mary’s attitude toward the mystery of her Son (Lk 2:19, 51). The most silent person in the Gospels is of course Saint Joseph; not a single word of his does the New Testament record for us. Saint Basil considers silence not only as an ascetical necessity of monastic life, but also as a condition for encountering God (Letter 2, 2-6: PG 32, 224-232). Silence precedes and prepares for the privileged moment when we have access to God, who then can speak to us face to face as we would do with a friend (cf. Ex 33:11; Num 12:8; Deut 34:10).

Recall, in this regard, that we arrive at the knowledge of God by way of causality, analogy, eminence, but also negation: once we affirm the divine attributes, which are known by natural reason (this is the kataphatic way), we must deny the mode of limited realization thereof that we know here below (this is the apophatic way). Silence is an essential part of the apophatic way of gaining access to God, which was so highly prized by the Fathers of the Church, especially the Greeks; this makes them demand silence of arguments when faced with the mystery of God (Clement of Alexandria, Gregory Nazianzen, Gregory of Nyssa).

It is nonetheless true that silence is above all the positive attitude of someone who prepares to welcome God by listening. Yes, God acts in the silence. Hence this very important remark by the great Saint John of the Cross: “The Father said only one word, namely his Son, and in an eternal silence he always says it: the soul too must hear it in silence.”[1] The Book of Wisdom had already noted in this regard the manner in which God intervened to deliver the chosen people from captivity in Egypt: that unforgettable act took place during the night: “For while gentle silence enveloped all things, and night in its swift course was now half gone, your all-powerful word leaped from heaven, from the royal throne” (Wis 18:14). Later, this verse would be understood by Christian liturgical tradition as a prefiguration of the silent Incarnation of the Eternal Word in the crib in Bethlehem. As for Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity, she would insist on silence as a condition for contemplating God the Holy Trinity.

And so we have to make silence: this is of course an activity, and not a form of idleness. If our “interior cell phone” is always busy because we are “having a conversation” with other creatures, how can the Creator reach us, how can he “call us”? We must therefore purify our mind of its curiosities, the will of its plans, in order to open ourselves totally to the graces of light and strength that God wants to give us profusely: “Father, not my will, but yours be done.” Ignatian “indifference” is therefore a form of silence too.