Thursday, October 30, 2014

Ss. Damien of Molokai and Marianne Cope and a man named Joseph

The following comes from Fr. George Rutler:

The canonization of Marianne Cope, along with Kateri Tekakwitha, on October 21, occasioned the publication of a stunning photograph showing Marianne standing beside the funeral bier of St. Damien in Kalaupapa, Molokai. That was in 1889, and the picture is so sharp that it could have been taken today. It must be the first photograph of two saints together. The holy friendships of Teresa of Avila with John of the Cross, and Francis de Sales with 
Jane de Chantal illuminated civilization before photography. 

St. Damien’s body is scarred with leprosy but vested in the fine chasuble in which he used to offer Mass. St. Marianne, in her timeless religious habit, shows no sorrow for she obviously knows she is looking at a saint, not knowing that she is one herself. 

Studying that photograph, one thinks of how hard they worked, not only among the outcast lepers, but all their lives. Damien, born Jozef de Veuster in Belgium, was a farm boy, and Marianne left school in Utica, New York, after the eighth grade to support her family by working in factories. 

Not in the picture was their helper, Joseph Dutton, a Civil War veteran who was so traumatized by the ravages of war and his broken marriage that he became an alcoholic. He reformed his life, went to Molokai and worked with the lepers for 45 years — cleaning latrines, scrubbing floors, and binding sores — until his death in 1931. Their great happiness would have been clouded to see how much unhappiness there is in our land today. 

As a typical eighteenth-century rationalist, Edward Gibbon was cynical about Christianity, but as an historian he analyzed the decline of once-great civilizations in terms of natural virtue: “In the end, more than freedom, they wanted security. They wanted a comfortable life, and they lost it all — security, comfort, and freedom. When the Athenians finally wanted not to give to society but for society to give to them, when the freedom they wished for most was freedom from responsibility, then Athens ceased to be free and was never free again.” 

I expect that Gibbon would have understood modern saints no better than he did the early martyrs and confessors, but he would have seen in them a selfless energy that builds noble societies, and the neglect of such energy pulls them down. Our own nation is facing these realities as it decides what it wants to be. The present crisis in culture cannot be resolved if it is addressed only in terms of economics and international relations. The real leaders are not those who hypnotize naïve people into thinking that they are the source of hope. Those who can rescue nations from servility to selfishness are not on slick campaign posters, but in stark black and white photographs like that taken on Molokai in 1889.

Saint of the day: Alphonsus Rodriguez

The following comes from the Catholic Online site:

Confessor and Jesuit brother, also called Alonso. He was born in Segovia, Spain, on July 25, 1532, the son of a wealthy merchant, and was prepared for First Communion by Blessed Peter Favre, a friend of Alphonsus' father. While studying with the Jesuits at Alcala, Alphonsus had to return home when his father died. In Segovia he took over the family business, was married, and had a son. That son died, as did two other children and then his wife. Alphonsus sold his business and applied to the Jesuits. His lack of education and his poor health, undermined by his austerities, made him less than desirable as a candidate for the religious life, but he was accepted as a lay brother by the Jesuits on January 31, 1571. He underwent novitiate training and was sent to Montesion College on the island of Majorca. There he labored as a hall porter for twenty-four years. Overlooked by some of the Jesuits in the house, Alphonsus exerted a wondrous influence on many. Not only the young students, such as St. Peter Claver, but local civic tad and social leaders came to his porter's lodge for advice tad and direction. Obedience and penance were the hallmarks of his life, as well as his devotion to the Immaculate Conception. He experienced many spiritual consolations, and he wrote religious treatises, very simple in style but sound in doctrine. Alphonsus died after a long illness on October 31, 1617, and his funeral was attended by Church and government leaders. He was declared Venerable in 1626, and was named a patron of Majorca in 1633. Alphonsus was beatified in 1825 and canonized in September 1888 with St. Peter Claver.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Christus Factus Est by Monks of Stift Heiligenkreuz

The Deadly Sin of Pride

The following comes from Fr. Dwight Longenecker at Catholic Exchange:

There is a little poem by e.e.cummings which contains a line, “even on a sunday may I be wrong, for whenever men are right they are not young.” The poet is being paradoxically playful to make a point. When we are always right about everything we have not only lost the innocence of youth, but we are also guilty of the most basic sin of all, the deadly sin of pride. Pride is best understood as being right at all costs.
Some of the problems we think of as pride are really the symptoms of pride. We consider an arrogant person to be proud, but arrogance is one of the outward signs of pride. A person who displays his achievement or wealth, struts his good looks or brags about his victories is displaying the symptoms of pride, but pride is a much deeper problem and its symptoms can be seen in many other less obvious ways. A person who insists on arguing his point and will not listen to anyone else is proud. A person who simply assumes that he is right in his opinions is proud even though he may not strut or be arrogant. A person who can never be corrected, who is always defensive, who always has an excuse or always blames another person is proud because they cannot be wrong. Ever. At all.
In religious circles a person who is self righteous is proud. Now it gets tricky because a person who appears very humble and pious might, beneath the surface, be very proud of their piety and religious knowledge. At this point we have to laugh at ourselves. “What? You mean I am proud of being humble?” It’s true, some of the most incorrigibly proud people appear to be self effacing, obedient and pious souls.
This is why pride is so deadly, because it is the one sin that hides itself so effectively. The proud person, by very definition, does not realize he is proud. If he realized he was proud he would repent, but it is pride which keeps him from seeing that he is wrong or sinful in any way. Pride is a very difficult sin to do anything about because the proud person will even go so far as to admit that he is proud, and that makes him even more “right” than he was before!
What a subtle, lying, deceitful and insidious sin pride is! No wonder it is called “the first sin”. No wonder it is the first and most terrible sin of Satan who is the Father of Lies. Is pride deadly? Yes. It is deadly like a poisoned apple. It is deadly like a smiling murderer. Pride kills because the proud person cannot stand others who disagree. Not only does the proud person have to be right, but as their pride grows they must also destroy everyone else who is wrong. They cannot allow an enemy to remain. The proud person may not kill literally, but they kill reputations through gossip and detraction. They kill good will through hatred and recrimination. They kill charity through revenge and nursing a grudge. They kill friendship through arrogance, indifference to others and lack of compassion.
Humility counters pride. The word “humility” is derived from the same root as humor and “humus” which means “earth.” A humble person is down to earth. A humble person has a good sense of humor. Most of all, the humble person knows his failures, faults and foibles. He knows himself and can laugh at himself. e.e.cummings ends the poem by saying ruefully, “there’s never been quite such a fool who could fail, pulling all the sky over him with one smile.”

Salesian Holiness: Blessed Michael Rua!

Today in the Church we recall Blessed Michael Rua! He was the first successor of St. John Bosco and led the Salesian Family toward tremendous growth. The following comes from the Salesian website in Rome:

Going halves in everything

Born in Turin on June 9, 1837, the youngest of nine children, Michael came to the Oratory in 1852. One day Don Bosco told him: "We will go halves in everything". He was among the first group to whom Don Bosco suggested the formation of the Salesian Society.

His many roles

For 36 years he was his closest collaborator in all stages of the development of the Congregation. He was professed in 1855, was first spiritual director of the Congregation at 22 (1859) and was ordained in 1860. He became the first director of the Mirabello College at 26 (1863-1865) and, later, was Vicar of Valdocco, with its 700 pupils and of the Society. He was administrator of the Letture Cattoliche (Catholic Readings), responsible for formation (1869) and for personnel. In 1875 he became Director General of the Salesian Sisters and he accompanied Don Bosco on his journeys.

Don Bosco's first successor

At the explicit request of the Founder, in 1884, Pope Leo XIII named him to succeed Don Bosco and he confirmed him as Rector Major in 1888. Fr. Rua was seen as the 'living Rule' because of his austere fidelity, yet he also displayed a fatherly spirit that was capable of great thoughtfulness, so much so that he was known as 'a king of kindness'.

Oversaw extraordinary growth

With the growth in the numbers of confrere and the development of the works, he sent Salesians all over the world, giving special attention to missionary expeditions.
In his long journeys in Europe and the Middle East, he consoled and encouraged, always looking to the Founder: "Don Bosco said…Don Bosco did… Don Bosco wanted…". When he died, on April 6 1910, at 73, the Society had grown from 773 Salesians to 4000, from 57 houses to 345, from 6 provinces to 34, in 33 countries.

Faithful continuation of Don Bosco's spirit

When beatifying him, Pope Paul VI stated: "The Salesian Family owes its origin to Don Bosco, to Fr. Rua its continuation… he developed the Saint's example into a school, his Rule into a spirit, his holiness into a model. He turned the spring into a river". His remains are venerated in the crypt of the Basilica of Mary Our Help.
Beatified on 29 October 1972 by Paul VI. 29th October is the day his memorial is kept liturgically


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Your Grace Finds Me by Matt Redman

Pope Francis: Are you Catholic? Then stay in the Church!

 Pope Francis said that those waiting at the threshold of the Church without going inside are not true members of the Church which Jesus established and on whom it is built.

“We are citizens, fellow citizens of this Church. If we do not enter into this temple to be part of this building so that the Holy Spirit may live in us, we are not in the Church,” the Pope told those present in the Vatican’s Saint Martha guesthouse for his Oct. 28 daily Mass.

Rather, “we are on the threshold and look inside…Those Christians who do not go beyond the Church’s reception: they are there, at the door: 'Yes, I am Catholic, but not too Catholic.'”

The Pope centered his reflections on both the day's first reading from St. Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians and the Gospel, taken from Luke, Chapter 6.

In the first reading St. Paul explains to the Christians of Ephesus that they are no longer strangers, but have become fellow members of the house of God, which is built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, and has Jesus himself as the “capstone.”

The Gospel reading recounts how Jesus, after spending the night in prayer, comes down from the mountain and calls the Twelve Apostles by name.

By reflecting on the gospel reading, there are three clear actions that Jesus carried out when founding the Church, the Pope observed, saying that the first action is prayer, the second was choosing his disciples, and the third was welcoming and healing the crowds.

“Jesus prays, Jesus calls, Jesus chooses, Jesus sends his disciples out, Jesus heals the crowd. Inside this temple, this Jesus who is the corner stone does all this work: it is He who conducts the Church,” the pontiff noted, explaining that the Church is built on the apostles.

However, despite the fact that the Twelve were chosen by Jesus, they were all still sinners, the Pope said, explaining that although no one knows who sinned the most, there could have been one that sinned more than Judas did.

“Judas, poor man, is the one who closed himself to love and that is why he became a traitor. And they all ran away during the difficult time of the Passion and left Jesus alone. They are all sinners. But (Jesus) chose (regardless).”

And Jesus, the Pope added, wants everyone to be inside of the Church he founded, not as strangers passing through, but rather with the “rights of a citizen” where they have roots.

The person who stands at the threshold of the Church looking in but not entering has no sense of the full love and mercy that Jesus gives to every person, Francis said, adding that proof of this can be seen in Jesus' relationship with Peter.

Even though Peter denies the Lord he is still the first pillar of the Church, the pontiff explained. “For Jesus, Peter’s sin was not important: he was looking at (Peter’s) heart. But to be able to find this heart and heal it, he prayed.”

It is Jesus who prays and heals, Pope Francis noted, saying that it is something he does for each one of us.

“We cannot understand the Church without Jesus who prays and heals,” he said, praying that the Holy Spirit would help all to understand that the Church draws her strength from Jesus’ prayer which can heal us all.

A prayer by St. Francis de Sales


Do not look forward in fear to the changes in life;
rather, look to them with full hope that as they arise,
God, whose very own you are,
will lead you safely through all things;
and when you cannot stand it,
God will carry you in His arms.

Do not fear what may happen tomorrow;
the same understanding Father who cares for
you today will take care of you then and every day.

He will either shield you from suffering
or will give you unfailing strength to bear it.
Be at peace,
and put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginations.

Saints of the Day: Simon and Jude




















Today we remember two great apostles: Simon and Jude

O God, we thank you for the glorious company of the apostles,
and especially on this day for Simon and Jude; and we pray
that, as they were faithful and zealous in their mission, so we
may with ardent devotion make known the love and mercy of our
Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and
the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Worn by Tenth Avenue North

Rest in God

The following comes from the Catholic Exchange:


We all suffer in this world more or less, either from anxiety of mind, or sorrow of heart, or pain of body. And nevertheless we all long for rest; we seek it eagerly; and we wear ourselves out all our lives in this search without ever attaining the ob­ject of our desires.
Where is rest to be found? Where shall we seek it? This is a most interesting question if ever there was one.
Some men, in fact the greater number, seek their rest in the enjoyment of the riches, pleasures, and honors of this life. What care do they not take to secure these things for themselves, to preserve them, to increase them, and to accumulate them?
Do they really find rest in these things? No. How would rest be found in these perishing things, which cannot even sat­isfy the passion that desired them; in things that have no proportion with the wants of the human heart, that leave it always empty, always devoured by a still more ardent thirst; in things that are always being disputed and envied and torn furiously by one person from another? What rest and stability can be found in things that are change itself? If the foundation on which we build our rest is always moving, is it not a necessary consequence that we must experience the same agitation?
Let everyone consult himself; experience is the most posi­tive of proofs. What man ever tasted rest in the midst of the greatest treasures, the liveliest pleasures, the most flattering honors? Rest is not in these things: everyone knows this; and yet it is in these things that man persists in seeking it. Men ex­haust themselves in desires, in projects, in enterprises, and they never succeed in finding a single moment of rest. If they would only consult their reason, it would tell them that in this way they can never find rest. What blindness! What folly!
Others establish their rest in themselves, and in doing this, they think they are much wiser than those who seek it in exte­rior things. But are they really wise? Is man made to be suffi­cient for himself? Can he find in himself the principle of his rest? His ideas change every day; his heart is in a perpetual state of unrest; he is constantly imagining new systems of hap­piness, and he finds this happiness nowhere. If he is alone, he is devoured with weariness. If he is in company, however se­lect and agreeable it may be, it soon becomes tiresome to him; his reflections exhaust and torment him. Study and reading may amuse him and distract him for a time, but they cannot fill up the void in his heart. This is the kind of rest that human wisdom promises to its followers and for which it invites them to give up everything else, to isolate themselves, and to concentrate their attention on themselves. It is a deceitful rest, which is not exempt from the most violent agitations and which is at least as hard for man to bear as the tumult of his passions!
Where, then, is rest to be found, if we can find it neither in the good things of this world nor in ourselves?
It is to be found in God, and in God alone. Jesus Christ came into the world to teach us this truth, and it is the greatest lesson that He has given us. But how few there are who profit by it!
“Thou hast made us for Thyself,” cries St. Augustine, “and our heart finds no rest until it reposes in Thee.” This truth is the first principle of all morality; reason, religion, and experience all unite in proving it to us.

Mother Teresa on Kinds of Poverty

"We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless.  The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty.  We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty."    
                               Bl. Mother Teresa

Asking in Prayer with Fr. Benedict Groeschel

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Cowboys and Angels by Dustin Lynch

Pope Francis and His Confessor's Cross

The following comes from the AP:


Pope Francis confessed Thursday that he took the rosary cross of his late confessor from his casket and wears it to this day in a fabric pouch under his cassock. He said he did so telling the late priest, "Give me half your mercy."

Francis made the revelation Thursday during an informal chat with Roman priests about the need to be merciful to their flocks. He told the story of the "great confessor" of Buenos Aires who had heard confessions from most of the diocesan priests as well as from Pope John Paul II when he visited Argentina.

When the priest died, Francis went to pray by his open casket and was stunned that no one had brought any flowers.
`'This man forgave the sins of all the priests of Buenos Aires, but not a single flower ...?" Francis recalled. So he went out and bought a bouquet of roses, and when he returned to arrange them around the casket, he saw the rosary the priest still held in his hand.

"And immediately there came to mind the thief we all have inside ourselves and while I arranged the flowers I took the cross and with just a bit of force I removed it," he said, showing with his hands how he pulled the cross off the rosary. "And in that moment I looked at him and I said `Give me half your mercy.'"

Francis said he kept the cross in his shirt pocket for years, but that the cassock he wears now as pope doesn't have a pocket. He now keeps it in a little pouch underneath.

"And whenever a bad thought comes to mind about someone, my hand goes here, always," he said, gesturing to his heart. "And I feel the grace, and that makes me feel better."

Saint John Paul II: A Pope Who Made History

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Holy Water by Big and Rich

"Holy Water"

Somewhere there's a stolen halo
I use to watch her wear it well
Everything would shine wherever she would go
But looking at her now you'd never tell

Someone ran away with her innocence
A memory she can't get out of her head
I can only imagine what she's feeling
When she's praying
Kneeling at the edge of her bed

And she says take me away
then take me farther
Surround me now
And hold, hold, hold me like holy water
Holy water

She wants someone to call her angel
Someone to put the light back in her eyes
She's looking through the faces
And unfamiliar places
She needs someone to hear her when she cries

And she says take me away
then take me farther
Surround me now
And hold, hold, hold me like holy water
Holy water

She just needs a little help
To wash away the pain she's felt
She wants to feel the healing hands
Of someone who understands

And she says take me away
then take me farther
Surround me now
And hold, hold, hold me
And she says take me away
then take me farther
Surround me now
And hold, hold, hold me like holy water
Holy water

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.