Saturday, May 30, 2015

A Quote from Saint John Paul the Great


"Faced with today's problems and disappointments, many people will try to escape from their responsibility. Escape in selfishness, escape in sexual pleasure, escape in drugs, escape in violence, escape in indifference and cynical attitudes. I propose to you the option of love, which is the opposite of escape."

                             St. John Paul the Great

Saint of the day: Joan of Arc


The Following comes from the Catholic Online site:
St. Joan of Arc is the patroness of soldiers and of France. On January 6, 1412, Joan of Arc was born to pious parents of the French peasant class, at the obscure village of Domremy, near the province of Lorraine. At a very early age, she heard voices: those of St. Michael, St. Catherine and St. Margaret.

At first the messages were personal and general. Then at last came the crowning order. In May, 1428, her voices "of St. Michael, St. Catherine, and St. Margaret" told Joan to go to the King of France and help him reconquer his kingdom. For at thattime the English king was after the throne of France, and the Duke of Burgundy, the chief rival of the French king, was siding with him and gobbling up evermore French territory.

After overcoming opposition from churchmen and courtiers, the seventeen year old girl was given a small army with which she raised the seige of Orleans on May 8, 1429. She then enjoyed a series of spectacular military successes, during which the King was able to enter Rheims and be crowned with her at his side.

In May 1430, as she was attempting to relieve Compiegne, she was captured by the Burgundians and sold to the English when Charles and the French did nothing to save her. After months of imprisonment, she was tried at Rouen by a tribunal presided over by the infamous Peter Cauchon, Bishop of Beauvais, who hoped that the English would help him to become archbishop.

Through her unfamiliarity with the technicalities of theology, Joan was trapped into making a few damaging statements. When she refused to retract the assertion that it was the saints of God who had commanded her to do what she had done, she was condemned to death as a heretic, sorceress, and adulteress, and burned at the stake on May 30, 1431. She was nineteen years old. Some thirty years later, she was exonerated of all guilt and she was ultimately canonized in 1920, making official what the people had known for centuries. Her feast day is May 30.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Glorious by Paul Baloche

Pope Francis: Never lose trust in the Mercy of God

Let us ... remember Peter: three times he denied Jesus, precisely when he should have been closest to him; and when he hits bottom he meets the gaze of Jesus who patiently, wordlessly, says to him: "Peter, don't be afraid of your weakness, trust in Me." Peter understands, he feels the loving gaze of Jesus and he weeps. How beautiful is this gaze of Jesus — how much tenderness is there! Brothers and sisters, let us never lose trust in the patience and mercy of God!

Pope Francis on Divine Mercy Sunday, 2013

A Guru or Jesus: The Story of Fr. Joseph-Marie Verlinde

Scott Hahn: Holding on to Hope


Blessed Joseph Kowalski, SDB, Salesian Martyr of Auschwitz

Blessed Joseph Kowalski, SDB
Salesian martyr of Auschwitz

“I have to become a saint because this is what I am intended for."

After Poland was occupied, the Salesians continued their work of educating young people.

On May 23rd, 1941: The Gestapo captured Fr. Kowalski along with eleven other Salesians working in Krakow.

At Auschwitz, Fr. Kowalski was given number 17.350.

In secret, he heard confessions, celebrated Mass, said the Rosary, gave clandestine talks, strengthen his fellow prisoners...

He underwent suffering and humiliation.

When he was discovered with a rosary, he refused to trample on it. He was then killed on July 4th, 1942.

What an inspiration as we come to the end of the Month of Mary.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Lord, I Need You by Matt Maher with Kristian Stanfill


Catholic Men Preparing for Spiritual Battle

The following comes from Fr. Longenecker at Crux:
Catholic men are arming themselves for battle.
Spiritual battle.
Behind the headlines and beneath the radar, a grassroots movement is growing among Catholic men in the United States. Spurred on by the culture wars, they are rallying to conferences, retreats, seminars, and parish study groups that aim to support them in their faith, encourage fellowship, and motivate Christian action in support of charity, social justice, pro-life causes, and the traditional family. Catholic men’s events have become phenomenally successful, gathering Catholic men from a wide spectrum of age ranges to hear motivational speakers, inspiring converts, and spiritual leaders.
In an interview with Tim Drake at Catholic Pulse, Dan Spencer, executive director of the National Fellowship of Catholic Men, said that at the beginning of the century there were just 16 Catholic men’s conferences. Now a quick check of the Web discovers more than 100 nationwide. In addition to the keynote speakers, the conferences feature workshops and breakout sessions focused on topics such as battling pornography, being a better husband and father, successful stewardship, and how to develop a stronger spirituality.
In our own state of South Carolina — a state where less than 5 percent of the population is Catholic — the first annual men’s conference was standing-room-only with more than 500 registrants. The second year the attendance nearly doubled. The same story is told at men’s conferences across the country.
The renewal of men’s ministry is also taking place at the parish level. Pastors and laymen are starting their own groups, while the National Fellowship of Catholic Men, That Man is You!, and The King’s Men offer guidance and content for local groups.

Remembering Blessed Margaret Pole


The following comes from the Patron Saints Index:

Daughter of the Duke of Clarence. Niece of King Edward IV and King Richard III of England. Married Sir Richard Pole in 1491. Mother of five, one of whom became a cardinal. Widow. Unofficial ward of King Henry VIII, who made her Countess of Salisbury and governess to Princess Mary, daughter of Henry VIII.

When she opposed Henry’s plan to marry Ann Boleyn, she was driven from court and received the king’s disfavor. When her son, Cardinal Reginald Pole, wrote against Henry’s presumptions to spiritual supremacy, the king decided to crush the family. Two of Margaret’s sons were executed in 1538 for the crime of being the brothers of Reginald. The elderly Margaret was arrested soon after, falsley charged with plotting revolution; in 1539 she was sent to the Tower of London where she spent her remaining two years. In 1541, at the outbreak of an actual uprising, Margaret was summarily executed with trial as a precaution. Martyr.


To find out more about the Blessed Margaret Pole film here.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

I Give Myself Away by William McDowell

Fr. Longenecker: Is It Time to Hunker Down?

The following comes from Fr. Dwight Lonenecker:
As Ireland votes overwhelmingly for same sex marriage and the rest of the Western world, it seems, can’t wait to follow their example, is it time to throw in the towel in the cultural slugfest?
As radical Islam advances giving us nightmares and as the economic “recovery” looks increasingly shaky is it time to hunker down?
Over at The Week Damon Linker analyzes what Rod Dreher calls “The Benedict Option”.
This is the idea that the church will follow the pattern of St Benedict. To understand what this means we have to understand the social conditions in Benedict’s day.
It was the end of the fifth century. The once mighty Roman Empire was collapsing. Economic decline was forcing a retreat of the Roman armies across the empire. Famine and plague decimated the population. Moral decay ate away at the family and robbed the population of energy and ambition. In the vacuum the barbarians were invading from the North and the East.
Benedict headed for the hills.
He established small monastic communities of prayer, work and study to survive the social upheaval.
These Christian communities went on to become little havens of peace and lighthouses in the storm. Before long they became the only centers of education, health care, social justice and learning. They preserved the remnants of the earlier classical civilizations and went on to be the kernels of what would be medieval Christendom.
The Benedict Option is the idea that this is where we are headed. It’s not a new idea. T.S.Eliot predicted the continued decay and disintegration of Western civilization and that a new monastic movement would arise and carry the flame and become the nexus of a new Christendom. Cardinal George’s famous prophecy considered the same.
I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square. His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the church has done so often in human history.”
The classic novel, Canticle for Lebowitz is set in a future where this has already happened.
The Benedict Option has a double meaning because it can also connect with the prophecy of Pope Benedict XVI who, as Joseph Ratzinger…

Pope Benedict: We need a living experience of Jesus

“Our knowledge of Jesus is in need above all of a living experience: Another person's testimony is certainly important, as in general the whole of our Christian life begins with the proclamation that comes to us from one or several witnesses. But we ourselves must be personally involved in an intimate and profound relationship with Jesus.”

Pope Benedict XVI

Saint of the day: Augustine of Canterbury


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


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

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

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

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

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Bed by the Window by Tony Melendez

Pope Francis Homily for Pentecost

The following comes from Vatican Radio:

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis presided over Mass in St Peter's Basilica this Pentecost Sunday saying that, the world needs men and women who are filled with the Holy Spirit.

Below is the English translation the Pope's homily this Pentecost Sunday

“As the Father has sent me, even so I send you... Receive the Holy Spirit” (Jn 20:21-22). The gift of the Spirit on the evening of the Resurrection took place once again on the day of Pentecost, intensified this time by extraordinary outward signs. On the evening of Easter, Jesus appeared to the Apostles and breathed on them his Spirit (cf. Jn 20:22); on the morning of Pentecost the outpouring occurred in a resounding way, like a wind which shook the place the Apostles were in, filling their minds and hearts. They received a new strength so great that they were able to proclaim Christ’s Resurrection in different languages: “They were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:4). Together with them was Mary, the Mother of Jesus, the first disciple and the Mother of the nascent Church. With her peace and her smile, she accompanied the joyful young Bride, the Church of Jesus.

The word of God, especially in today’s readings, tells us that the Spirit is at work in individuals and communities filled with the Spirit: he guides us into all the truth (cf. Jn 16:13), he renews the face of the earth (Ps 103:30), and he gives us his fruits (cf. Gal 5:22-23).

In the Gospel, Jesus promises his disciples that, when he has returned to the Father, the Holy Spirit will come to guide them into all the truth (cf. Jn 16:13). Indeed he calls the Holy Spirit “the Spirit of truth”, and explains to his disciples that the Spirit will bring them to understand ever more clearly what he, the Messiah, has said and done, especially in regard to his death and resurrection. To the Apostles, who could not bear the scandal of their Master’s sufferings, the Spirit would give a new understanding of the truth and beauty of that saving event. At first they were paralyzed with fear, shut in the Upper Room to avoid the aftermath of Good Friday. Now they would no longer be ashamed to be Christ’s disciples; they would no longer tremble before the courts of men. Filled with the Holy Spirit, they would now understand “all the truth”: that the death of Jesus was not his defeat, but rather the ultimate expression of God’s love, a love that, in the Resurrection, conquers death and exalts Jesus as the Living One, the Lord, the Redeemer of mankind, of history and of the world. This truth, to which the Apostles were witnesses, became Good News, to be proclaimed to all.

The gift of the Holy Spirit renews the earth. The Psalmist says: “You send forth your Spirit… and you renew the face of the earth” (Ps 103:30). The account of the birth of the Church in the Acts of the Apostles is significantly linked to this Psalm, which is a great hymn of praise to God the Creator. The Holy Spirit whom Christ sent from the Father, and the Creator Spirit who gives life to all things, are one and the same. Respect for creation, then, is a requirement of our faith: the “garden” in which we live is not entrusted to us to be exploited, but rather to be cultivated and tended with respect (cf. Gen 2:15). Yet this is possible only if Adam – the man formed from the earth – allows himself in turn to be renewed by the Holy Spirit, only if he allows himself to be re-formed by the Father on the model of Christ, the new Adam. In this way, renewed by the Spirit of God, we will indeed be able to experience the freedom of the sons and daughters, in harmony with all creation. In every creature we will be able to see reflected the glory of the Creator, as another Psalm says: “How great is your name, O Lord our God, through all the earth!” (Ps 8:2, 10).

In the Letter to the Galatians, Saint Paul wants to show the “fruits” manifested in the lives of those who walk in the way of the Spirit (cf. Gal 5:22). On the one hand, he presents “the flesh”, with its list of attendant vices: the works of selfish people closed to God. On the other hand, there are those who by faith allow the Spirit of God to break into their lives. In them, God’s gifts blossom, summed up in nine joyful virtues which Paul calls “fruits of the Spirit”. Hence his appeal, at the start and the end of the reading, as a programme for life: “Walk by the Spirit” (Gal 5:6, 25).

The world needs men and women who are not closed in on themselves, but filled with the Holy Spirit. Closing oneself off from the Holy Spirit means not only a lack of freedom; it is a sin. There are many ways one can close oneself off to the Holy Spirit: by selfishness for one’s own gain; by rigid legalism – seen in the attitude of the doctors of the law to whom Jesus referred as “hypocrites”; by neglect of what Jesus taught; by living the Christian life not as service to others but in the pursuit of personal interests; and in so many other ways. The world needs the courage, hope, faith and perseverance of Christ’s followers. The world needs the fruits of the Holy Spirit: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Gal 5:22). The gift of the Holy Spirit has been bestowed upon the Church and upon each one of us, so that we may live lives of genuine faith and active charity, that we may sow the seeds of reconciliation and peace. Strengthened by the Spirit and his many gifts, may we be able uncompromisingly to battle against sin and corruption, devoting ourselves with patient perseverance to the works of justice and peace.

Saint of the day: Philip Neri


The following comes from the Patron Saints Index:

Though he was related to Italian nobility, Philip came from a poor family. His father, Francisco Neri, worked as a notary. Philip’s brother died in childhood, but his two sisters, Caterina and Elisabetta survived. Known as a pius youth, Philip was taught humanities by the Dominicans.

Moved to San Germano in 1533 to help some family with their business, and while there would escape to a local Dominican chapel in the mountains. Having received a vision that he had an apostolate in Rome, Philip cut himself off from his family, and went there.

Befriended by Galeotto Caccia who took Philip in and paid him to tutor his two sons. Wrote poetry in Latin and Italian. Studied philosophy and theology. When he tired of learning, he sold all his books and gave the money to the poor.

Began to visit and care for the sick, and impoverished pilgrims. Founded a society of like-minded folk to do the same. Friend of Saint Ignatius of Loyola. A layman, he lived in the city as a hermit. During Easter season of 1544, while praying in the catecomb of San Sebastiano, he received a vision of a globe of fire that entered his chest, and he experienced an ecstasy that physically enlarged his heart.

With Persiano Rose, he founded the Confraternity of the Most Holy Trinity. He began to preach, with many converts. In 1550 he considered retiring to the life of a solitary hermit, but received further visions that told him his mission was in Rome. Later he considered missionary work in India, but further visions convinced him to stay in Rome.

Entered the priesthood in 1551. He heard confessions by the hour, could tell penitents their sins before they confessed, and had the gift of conferring visions. He began working with youth, finding safe places for them to play, becoming involved in their lives.

Pope Gregory XIV tried to make him a cardinal, but Philip declined. His popularity was such that he was accused of forming his own sect, but was cleared of this baseless charge. In 1575 he founded the Congregation of the Oratory (Oratorians, a group of priests dedicated to preaching and teaching, but which suffered from accusations of heresy because of the involvement of laymen as preachers. In later years he was beset by several illnesses, each of which was in turn cured through prayer.

“Cheerfulness strengthens the heart and makes us persevere in a good life. Therefore the servant of God ought always to be in good spirits.” – Saint Philip Neri

Archbishop Romero Beatified as a Martyr and Hero of the Poor

The following comes from John Allen at Crux:
In a Saturday ceremony believed to mark the largest religious gathering in the history of Central America, the late Archbishop Oscar Romero, killed in 1980 for defending the poor and victims of human rights abuses in El Salvador, was declared a “blessed” of the Catholic Church.
Beatification is the final stage before sainthood. Romero was beatified as a martyr, meaning someone who died giving witness to the Catholic faith, following a decree recognizing him as martyr issued by Pope Francis last February.
The crowd gathered in a downtown San Salvador plaza for the beatification Mass was estimated to be at least 300,000, including scores of pilgrims from outside the country. The crowd included roughly 300 bishops from around the world and nine heads of state, all from Latin America.
“The memory of Romero is still alive and giving comfort to the poor and marginalized,” said Italian Cardinal Angelo Amato, head of the Vatican department for sainthood causes, who celebrated the beatification Mass.
“He was the light of the world and the salt of the earth,” Amato said. “His persecutors have disappeared and been forgotten, but Romero continues to shine a light over the poor and marginalized of the earth.”
Pope Francis, the first Latin American pope, sent a personal message to the beatification ceremony.
“In times of difficult coexistence, Romero knew how to lead, defend, and protect his flock,” the pope wrote.
“We thank God because he gave this bishop and martyr the ability to see and hear the suffering of his people,” Francis said. “When it is fully understood, faith in Jesus Christ generates communities of workers of peace and solidarity.”
Amato read the pope’s letter aloud at the beginning of the Vatican ceremony.
US President Barack Obama issued a statement on the beatification, saying he was “grateful to Pope Francis for his leadership in reminding us of our obligation to help those most in need, and for his decision to beatify Blessed Oscar Arnulfo [Romero].”
“Let us hope that Archbishop Romero’s vision can inspire all of us to respect the dignity of all human beings, and to work for justice and peace in our hemisphere and beyond,” Obama said.
Named the archbishop of San Salvador in 1977, Romero quickly became the country’s most outspoken opponent of a U.S.-backed right-wing government with strong ties to the military.
Romero’s final public act, the day before his death, was to beg, even order, soldiers and security forces not to fire upon civilians protesting government policies. The next day, he was shot through the heart while saying Mass in a small chapel on the grounds of a Catholic hospital, which also contained the modest house where he lived.