Friday, October 31, 2014

Brother Roger: Together to Praise

Together to Praise from Taize on Vimeo.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Step By Step (Sometimes By Step) by Rich Mullins

Pope Francis: Christian life is a continuous battle against the devil

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis described Christian life as a continuous battle being waged against Satan, the world and the passions of the flesh. His comments came during his homily at Mass celebrated on Thursday morning at the Santa Marta residence. He stressed that the devil exists and we must fight against him with the armour of truth.
Pope Francis's reflections during his homily were taken from the words of St Paul in his letter to the Ephesians where the apostle urged Christians to put on the full armour of God in order to resist Satan’s temptations.  A Christian life, he said, has to be defended and it requires both strength and courage. It’s a continuous battle against the three main enemies of Christian life which are the devil, the world and the passions of the flesh.
“From whom do I have to defend myself? What must I do?  Pauls tells us to put on God’s full armour, meaning that God acts as a defence, helping us to resist Satan’s temptations.  Is this clear?  No spiritual life, no Christian life is possible without resisting temptations, without  putting on God’s armour which gives us strength and protects us.”
Saint Paul, continued the Pope, underlines that our battle is not against little things but against the principalities and the ruling forces, in other words against the devil and his followers.   
“But in this generation, like so many others, people have been led to believe that the devil is a myth, a figure, an idea, the idea of evil. But the devil exists and we must fight against him.  Paul tells us this, it’s not me saying it! The Word of God is telling us this.  But we’re not all convinced of this.  And then Paul describes God’s armour and which are the different types that make up this great armour of God.  And he says: ‘So stand your ground,  with truth a belt around your waist.’  The truth is God’s armour.”
By contrast, said Pope Francis, the devil is a liar and the father of liars and in order to fight him we must have truth on our side.  He also underlined the importance of always having our faith in God, like a shield, when fighting this battle against the devil, who, he noted, doesn't throw flowers at us but instead burning arrows.
“Life is a military endeavour.  Christian life is a battle, a beautiful battle, because when God emerges victorious in every step of our life, this gives us joy, a great happiness: the joy that the Lord is the victor within us, with his free gift of salvation.  But we’re all a bit lazy, aren’t we, in this battle and we allow ourselves to get carried away by our passions, by various temptations. That’s because we’re sinners, all of us!  But don’t get discouraged.  Have courage and strength because the Lord is with us.”

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

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

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.

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

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Contemplation in Prayer with Fr. Benedict Groeschel

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

St. John Paul II on Man's Capacity for Love

“Man’s capacity for love depends on his willingness consciously to seek a good together with others, and to subordinate himself to that good for the sake of others, or to others for the sake of that good… Love in human relationships is not something ready-made. It begins as a principle or idea which people must somehow live up to in their behavior, which they must desire if they want—as they should—to free themselves from the utilitarian, the ‘consumer’ attitude (Latin ‘consumere’ = ‘use’) toward other persons.”

—Karol Wojtyla (St. John Paul II)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The 4 Ends to the Mass

The following comes from the Catholic Gentleman:

“It would be easier for the world to survive without the sun than to do without Holy Mass.” – St. Padre Pio

After a talk I gave a while ago, a young man came to me with a question. “I think I’m a good Catholic,” he began, “but I don’t go to mass. I hear it’s a sin not to go, but I don’t understand that. I guess I don’t see the point. Can you give me any reasons why I should go?” His question was sincere, and it led to a long and healthy discussion of why being present at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is important in the life of a faithful Catholic.

But truth be told, many Catholics probably ask the same questions, even if they attend mass faithfully. What’s the point? Why should I bother? This confusion and apathy about the source and summit of the Catholic faith is due to an almost complete failure of teaching on what the mass actually is.

To clear up some of this confusion, let’s examine the nature and purposes of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.


Let’s begin with what the mass is not. The mass is not a community meal designed to strengthen our unity and “gather us in.” Feelings of unity and community can be strengthened at any number of events, including potlucks or Church picnics. At most, feeling unified with our brothers and sisters in Christ is a nice byproduct of the mass, but it is certainly not its chief end.

Second, the mass is not about you. It is not about having a wonderful “weekend experience,” as one new parish based program claims. Nor is its purpose to make you feel good about yourself, to encourage you, to inspire you, or to make you feel included and welcomed. You simply aren’t the audience—God is, and the mass is all about him.

So what is the mass essentially? It is first and foremost a sacrifice. In fact, it is the once for all sacrifice of Christ on Calvary, that transcends time and space, made present for us again in an unbloody manner. It is the perfect sacrifice that all the Old Testament sacrifices prefigured (See Malachi 1:11). In it, Jesus Christ lovingly offers himself in an act of oblation to God the Father on our behalf. He adores God the Father, he atones for our sins, he offers thanks and praise, and he intercedes for our needs.

As Catholics, we have the privilege of attending this sacrifice, and uniting ourselves to Christ’s self offering. Put another way, we can imitate Christ by offering ourselves, souls and bodies, to God the Father as “living sacrifices,” as St. Paul says. This is what participation in the mass really means. In the prayer Orate Frates, the priest acknowledges this participation of the faithful when he prays, “Pray brethren, that my sacrifice and yours may be acceptable to God, the Almighty Father.”


Now that we’ve discussed what the mass is, let’s briefly look at its four ends or purposes.

1. Adoration - The Holy Mass is first and foremost an act of loving adoration. It is worship of God our Father. Why? Because he deserves it. Almighty God is the most perfect of all Beings, the self-existing one, and all that exists owes its existence to him. He is the Supreme Good, the Good from which all other goods receive their meaning. He is the Supreme Beauty, the sole standard by which we can recognize and understand that which is beautiful. And he is Love itself, giving of himself from all eternity. He alone is worthy of our awe-struck adoration.

“Worthy art thou, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for thou didst create all things,

and by thy will they existed and were created,” the saints and angels cry in the book of Revelation, and the mass is participation in this heavenly worship.

2. Thanksgiving - All that we are and have comes from God’s generous hand. Every good, every blessing finds its source in God alone, and our very existence is dependent on his will. In response to God’s endless generosity, which we often don’t even notice, thanksgiving is the only acceptable response. And guess what? True gratitude is one of the most joyful feelings we can have. “I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought,” said G.K. Chesterton, “and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” That is exactly what Holy Mass should be—an experience of happiness doubled by wonder.

3. Atonement - We are all sinners, and while we do our best to rationalize and minimize it, all sin is a grave offense against God, incurring his just wrath. But while we all deserve hell, we are not without hope. On the cross, Jesus Christ atoned for our sins totally and completely, and we have the assurance that if we turn to him in repentance and faith, we can find forgiveness and healing.

The sacrifice of Christ on the holy cross is our certain hope, and the Holy Mass is the re-presentation of this sacrifice. Therefore, the third end of the mass is atonement for our sins. The book of Revelation describes Christ appearing as a “Lamb as if it had been slain.” In heaven, Jesus stands before God’s throne, offering God the Father his once for all sacrifice in continual atonement for our sins and the sins of the whole world. This reality is made present at every mass.

4. Petition - The mass is a powerful form of prayer. In fact, it is the most powerful prayer the Church possesses. St. Jerome once said, “Without doubt, the Lord grants all favors which are asked of Him in Mass, provided they be fitting for us.” Many of the saints tell us that bringing our requests before Our Lord after the consecration is one of the most effective ways to obtain all that we need spiritually and physically. I would encourage you to pray in this way, knowing that Jesus is on the altar interceding for you as well.


In every mass, Jesus Christs descends upon the altar in the fullness of his body, blood, soul, and Divinity. He is truly present, giving himself to us completely in the Holy Eucharist. It is truly the sacrifice of Calvary made present once again. What a beautiful and profound reality! As St. Padre Pio once said, “If we only knew how God regards this Sacrifice, we would risk our lives to be present at a single Mass.” Why would we miss mass for anything?

The Holy Eucharist and St. John Vianney

"What does Jesus Christ do in the Eucharist? It is God who, as our Savior, offers himself each day for us to His Father's justice. If you are in difficulties and sorrows, He will comfort and relieve you. If you are sick, He will either cure you or give you strength to suffer so as to merit Heaven. If the devil, the world, and the flesh are making war upon you, He will give you the weapons with which to fight, to resist, and to win victory. If you are poor, He will enrich you with all sorts of riches for time and eternity. Let us open the door of His sacred and adorable Heart, and be wrapped about for an instant by the flames of His love, and we shall see what a God who loves us can do. O my God, who shall be able to comprehend?"
St. John Vianney

To learn more about St. John Vianney please click here.

Monday, October 20, 2014

"How He Loves" by Crowder

Blessed Pope Paul VI on the Blessed Virgin Mary

Pope Paul VIThe following comes from Tom Perna:

It’s either God’s Providence or just the natural course of writing extensively on the Blessed Virgin Mary for nearly 2 ½ years, but today’s “Mondays with Mary”, the 125thblog post in this series, corresponds with the Beatification of Pope Paul VI. It was his document, Mense Maio, which inspired me to begin writing these weekly posts on the Blessed Virgin Mary on May 6, 2012. To learn about the story of how “Mondays with Mary” began, I encourage you to read the very first blog post in this series.
As I reflect back on the 2 ½ years and the 124 blog posts focusing on the great Theotokos, I am somewhat shocked that I have written so much on Mary, but also realize there is so much I have yet to write. There are some important Marian apparitions and titles that have yet to be written as well as not getting to the final chapter in the Second Vatican Council document, Lumen Gentium. It’s my hope in the month of November (the 50th Anniversary of the document) to write on this chapter, which focuses on Mary’s role as Maternal Mediator and Advocate. It’s also my hope that I will write more on what the Doctors of the Church have said about the Blessed Virgin.
I’ve said in my posts before that it’s an exciting time to be a Catholic. Yesterday’s beatification of Pope Paul VI is yet another indication of this time. We now have three popes that served nearly one after the other in the 20th century as saints of the Catholic Church. Although Paul VI has not been officially canonized, we know that he is there in Heaven with his predecessor, Pope St. John XXIII and his successor, Pope St. John Paul II.
In honor of our newest beatification, I now give you some of the words on the Blessed Virgin Mary from Blessed Pope Paul VI -
1. “This pious practice, by which the Blessed Virgin Mary is honored and the Christian people enriched with spiritual gifts, gladdens and consoles us. Mary remains ever the path that leads to Christ. Every encounter with her can only result in an encounter with Christ himself” – Mense Maio #2 
2. “The general norm ‘Through Mary to Jesus’ is therefore valid also for the imitation of Christ. Nevertheless, let our faith not be perturbed, as if the intervention of a creature in every way similar to us, except as regards sin, offended our personal dignity and prevented the intimacy and immediacy of our relationships of adoration and friendship with the Son of God.” – Signum Magnum, Part 2, Section 2.
3. “Mary is not only an example for the whole Church in the exercise of divine worship but is also, clearly, a teacher of the spiritual life for individual Christians. The faithful at a very early date began to look to Mary and to imitate her in making their lives an act of worship of God, and making their worship a commitment of their lives.” ­– Marialis Cultus, #21
4. “Whenever we say the rosary, the joyful mysteries thus place us once more before the inexpressible event [Annunciation] which is the center and summit of history: the coming on earth of Emmanuel, God with us.” – Gaudete in Domino, Section III.
5. “…the Church has always prayed from her earliest days, and in a special way calling on the intercession and protection of the Virgin Mary, who is the Queen of Peace” – Mense Maio #9 
6. “With Christ, she sums up in herself all joys; she lives the perfect joy promised to the Church: Mater plena sanctae laetitiae. And it is with good reason that her children on earth, turning to her, who is the mother of hope and of grace, invoke her as the cause of their joy: Causa nostrae laetitiae.” – Gaudete in Domino, Section IV.
7. “…the last description of Mary’s life presents her as praying. The apostles ‘joined in continuous prayer, together with several women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers’ (Acts 1:4). We have here the prayerful presence of Mary in the early Church in the Church throughout all ages, for, having been assumed into heaven, she has not abandoned her mission of intercession and salvation.” – Marialis Cultus, #19
8. [St. Augustine] said, “’…Maternal consanguinity would not have benefited Mary if she had not felt more fortunate in having Christ in her heart than in her womb.’” And it is still in her that Christians can admire the example of how to fulfill, with humility and at the same time with magnanimity, the mission which God entrusts to each one in this world, in relation to his own salvation and that of his fellow beings.” – Signum Magnum, Part 2, Section 3.
9. “Nothing seems more appropriate and valuable to Us than to have the prayers of the whole Christian family rise to the Mother of God, who is invoked as the Queen of Peace, begging her to pour forth abundant gifts of her maternal goodness in midst of so many great trials and hardships.” – Christi Matri, #8
10. “On the morning of Pentecost she watched over with her prayer the beginning of evangelization prompted by the Holy Spirit: may she be the Star of the evangelization ever renewed which the Church, docile to her Lord’s command, must promote and accomplish, especially in these times which are difficult but full of hope!” – Evangelii Nuntiandi, #82
Mother of Jesus Christ
So as we celebrate the beatification of Pope Paul VI, let us ask the Blessed Virgin Mary to always show us the way to Jesus Christ and to continuously lead us to closer and close to Him each day of our lives. Blessed Pope Paul VI…Pray for Us.
As always, please feel free to share this post or copy and paste the quotes to your social media sites in order for your family and friends to experience the beauty of the Catholic Church and her Saints.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Prayer of Praise and Thanksgiving with Fr. Benedict Groeschel

10 Things We Learn from St. Luke

The following comes from the NCR:

October 18th is the feast of St. Luke the Evangelist.
Who was he and what do we know about him?
Here are 10 things to know and share . . .

1) Who was St. Luke?
St. Luke is mentioned by name in three passages of Scripture:
  • In Colossians 4:14, St. Paul writes: “Luke the beloved physician and Demas greet you.”

  • In 2 Timothy 4:11, Paul writes: “Luke alone is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you; for he is very useful in serving me.”

  • And in Philemon 23-24, Paul writes: “Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends greetings to you, and so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, my fellow workers.”

Since Luke is mentioned in three letters, we can infer that he was a frequent companion of St. Paul.

He also shared in Paul’s labors, since he is referred to as one of Paul’s “fellow workers.”

The fact that Paul says, in his final letter, that “Luke alone is with me” suggests that he was a particularly intimate and faithful companion.

Finally, the reference to Luke as “the beloved physician” indicates that his “day job” (as opposed to his apostolic efforts) was as a medical practitioner.

2) What books of Scripture did St. Luke write?
St. Luke is identified by early (2nd century) tradition as the author of the third Gospel and as the author of the book of Acts.

He also may have had a role in composing some of the letters attributed to St. Paul (see below).

Even if he only wrote Luke and Acts, though, he still wrote more of the New Testament than any other author! Luke and Acts together total almost 38,000 words, or 24% of the whole New Testament.

3) What debt do we owe to St. Luke for his Gospel?
St. Luke’s Gospel is one of the three “Synoptic Gospels,” which means that it covers much of the same territory as those of St. Matthew and St. Mark.
As a result, if Luke’s Gospel had not been written, there would still be a great deal of the Jesus story that would have been preserved (not only by Matthew and Mark but also by John). However, there are certain things that only Luke records.
Among them are these passages (plus a number of others):
  • The Birth of John the Baptist Foretold (1:5-25)
  • The Birth of Jesus Foretold (1:26-38)
  • The Visitation (1:39-56)
  • The Birth of John the Baptist (1:57-80)
  • The Circumcision and Presentation of Jesus (2:21-40)
  • The Finding in the Temple (2:41-52)
  • The Widow of Nain’s Son (7:11-17)
  • The Mission of the Seventy (10:01-20)
  • The Good Samaritan (10:29-37)
  • “Mary has chosen the good portion” (10:38-42)
  • The Friend at Midnight (11:5-8)
  • The Parable of the Rich Fool (12:13-21)
  • The Parable of the Lost Coin (15:8-10)
  • The Parable of the Lost Son (15:11-32)
  • The Parable of the Shrewd Steward (16:1-8)
  • Lazarus and the Rich Man (16:19-31)
  • Ten Lepers Cleansed (17:11-19)
  • The Parable of the Persistent Widow (18:1-8)
  • The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector (18:9-14)
  • Dinner with Zacchaeus (19:1-10)
  • Who Is the Greatest? (22:24-32)
  • Jesus Before Herod Antipas (23:6-12)
If these weren’t recorded in Luke’s Gospel, we wouldn’t know about them, because they aren’t recorded elsewhere in the New Testament.

4) Where did Luke get the information for his Gospel?
At the beginning of his Gospel, Luke writes:
Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things which have been accomplished among us, just as they were delivered to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word, it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you [Luke 1:1-3].

Luke’s reference to narratives of the events in the Gospel that preceded his and his reference to having followed “all things,” with those forming of his own account seem to indicate that he used written sources for some of his information.

Given the similarities that Luke has to Matthew and Mark (the other two Synoptic Gospels), it is likely that he used one or both of these.

He also says that he drew information from “eyewitnesses and ministers of the word.”

One of the eyewitnesses he likely interviewed was the Virgin Mary herself. Luke records the material in the infancy narrative in a way that implies Mary was the source of much or all of it (Luke 2:19, 51; more here).

One of the ministers of the word he likely used as a source was St. Paul. One way of showing this is that the words of institution for the Eucharist in Luke’s Gospel (see Luke 22:19-20) is very similar to the formula used by St. Paul (see 1 Cor. 11:24-25). It is less similar to the formula used in Matthew and Mark (see Matt. 26:26-28, Mark 14:22-24). It is likely he used the formula used by St. Paul because he frequently heard Paul saying Mass and this was the most familiar version to him.

An individual who was both an eyewitness and a minister of the word that Luke likely interviewed is St. Peter. We have good reason to think that St. Peter was one of the sources of Acts (see below), and if Luke interviewed him for that, he likely interviewed him for his Gospel as well.

Read the rest here.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Pope Francis Homily: Heaven in Our Hands

(Vatican Radio) The Holy Spirit is the "seal" of light with which God has placed Heaven in Christians’ hands. Often, however, Christians avoid this light in preference of a life spent in the shadows, or worse still, in a false light, that sparkles with hypocrisy.

Pope Francis’ homily at Mass Friday morning, followed the First Reading from St. Paul who explains to the Christians of Ephesus that in believing in the Gospel they have received "the seal of the Holy Spirit." With this gift, the Pope says, "God not only chose us" but gave us a style, "a way of life, which is not only a list of habits, it is more: it is an identity":

"Our identity is precisely this seal, this power of the Holy Spirit, that we all have received in Baptism. And the Holy Spirit has sealed our hearts, and more, walks with us. This Spirit, that was promised us – that Jesus promised us - this Spirit not only gives us an identity, but it is also a down payment on our inheritance. With Him, Heaven begins. We are already living in this Heaven, this eternity, because we have been sealed by the Holy Spirit, which is the very beginning of Heaven: it was our down payment; we have it in hand. We have Heaven in hand with this seal".

However, Pope Francis continued, having the pledge of Heaven itself for eternity does not stop Christians from slipping on at least a few temptations. First, he notes, "when we want to, not necessarily cancel out this identity, but dull it down”:

"This is the lukewarm Christian. It is a Christian who, yes, goes to Mass on Sundays, but whose identity is not visible in his way of life. He may even live like a pagan, but he is a Christian. Being lukewarm. Dulling down our identity. And the other sin, of which Jesus spoke to his disciples, and which we heard: 'Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.' 'Pretending': I pretend to be a Christian, but am not. I am not transparent, I say one thing - 'yes, yes I am a Christian' - but I do another, something that is not Christian".

Instead, and Paul himself reminds us in another passage, a Christian life lived according to that identity created by the Holy Spirit brings with it, gifts of very different weight:

"Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. And this is our path to Heaven, it is our road, so that Heaven may begin here. Because we have this Christian identity, we have been sealed by the Holy Spirit. Let us ask the Lord for the grace to be careful with this seal, with this our Christian identity, which is not only a promise, no, we have it already in hand our hand, we have a down payment”.

The Mysticism of St. Ignatius of Antioch

The following comes from the Catholic Exchange:
Some time around 117 AD, if you had been able to survey the hundreds of miles of Roman roads leading from Syrian Antioch (in what is now southeast Turkey) to Rome, many strange sights would have greeted you. But one of the strangest would have been a detail of ten sullen guards leading an aged prisoner.

Redemptive Sacrifice

By willingly facing and even desiring martyrdom, Ignatius revealed that his spirituality was marked by the notion of sacrificial offering. Ignatius saw his impending martyrdom as united to Christ’s offering on Calvary and hence as participating in the redemptive efficacy of the Cross. Jesus’ Passion certainly bore sufficient fruit for the redemption of the whole world. Yet in raising Christians to the dignity of sons and daughters, the Father has granted them the privilege of sharing in His work by applying these fruits toward their own salvation and the salvation of others. Participation in Christ’s sacrifice is wholly by grace and is itself a fruit of the Passion, so that there remains an infinite gulf between the work of Christ and those who share in it. Nevertheless, their participation is real and mysteriously efficacious.
Referring to the vine and the branches, Ignatius proposed the image of the tree of the Cross and its branches. He considered those who are planted by the Father as “branches of the Cross, and their fruit [as] imperishable — the same Cross by which He, through His suffering, calls you who are His members” (Trallians 11.2). Not only can we bear fruit in others’ lives by our material assistance, evangelism, and prayers, but our sufferings can also be offered in union with Christ for the sake of others. Ignatius wrote to the Ephesians, “I am a humble sacrifice for you and I dedicate myself to you Ephesians” (8.1).
Once again, the Eucharist was at the heart of Ignatius’s thinking. He implored the Church of Rome: “Grant me nothing more than to be poured out as an offering to God while there is still an altar ready, so that in love you may form a chorus and sing to the Father in Jesus Christ” (2.2). The reference to the altar and singing chorus seems to be a conscious allusion to the early Mass. Because the Mass truly makes Christ’s sacrifice present on the altar under the appearance of bread and wine, the Christian can unite his own sufferings to Christ’s in the offering of the Mass. Ignatius encouraged the Church of Rome to see his death as a sacrifice of praise to the Father in Jesus: like the offering of the Mass, they ought to respond with song.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Lord I Need You by Matt Maher

Cardinal Dolan on the Prophetic Bishops of Africa

Archbishop Sheen on Temptation

Saint of the Day: Margaret Mary Alacoque

Today is the feast of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque. She is the Saint of the Sacred Heart Devotion! Devotion to the Sacred Heart, as we know it, began about the year 1672. On repeated occasions, Jesus appeared to Saint Margaret Mary, a Visitation nun, in France, and He explained to her the devotion to His Sacred Heart as He wanted people to practice it. During the apparition He asked to be honored in the symbol of His Heart of flesh; he asked for acts of reparation, for frequent Communion, Communion on the First Friday of the month, and the keeping of the Holy Hour.

"And He [Christ] showed me that it was His great desire of being loved by men and of withdrawing them from the path of ruin that made Him form the design of manifesting His Heart to men, with all the treasures of love, of mercy, of grace, of sanctification and salvation which it contains, in order that those who desire to render Him and procure Him all the honour and love possible, might themselves be abundantly enriched with those divine treasures of which His heart is the source." — from Revelations of Our Lord to St. Mary Margaret Alacoque

To learn more about St. Margaret check out the New Advent page!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Imitating Mother Mary

But His Majesty well knows that I can count only upon His Mercy, and, as I cannot apporach God and trust in the merits of His Son, and of the Virgin, His Mother, who habit both you and I unworthily wear. Praise Him, my daughters, for you are really the daughters of Our Lady, and when you have as good a Mother as that there is no reason for you to be scandalized at my unworthiness. Imitate Our Lady and consider how great she must be and what a good thing it is that we have her for our Patroness; even my sins and my being what I am have not been sufficient to bring any kind of tarnish upon this sacred Order. 
 St. Teresa of Avila's "Interior Castle"–Page 76 
 Hat tip to St. Peter's List

A Prayer of St. Teresa of Avila

Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you,
All things pass away:
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things.
He who has God
Finds he lacks nothing;
God alone suffices.

-St. Teresa of Avila

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Come As You Are by Crowder

Fr. Robert Barron: On the Synod on the Family

The following comes from Fr. Robert Barron at Word on Fire:
The midterm report on the deliberations of the Synod on the Family has appeared and there is a fair amount of hysteria all around. John Thavis, a veteran Vatican reporter who should know better, has declared this statement “an earthquake, the big one that hit after months of smaller tremors.” Certain  commentators on the right have been wringing their hands and bewailing a deep betrayal of the Church’s teaching. One even opined that this report is the “silliest document ever issued by the Catholic Church,” and some have said that the interim document flaunts the teaching of St. John Paul II. Meanwhile the New York Times confidently announced that the Church has moved from “condemnation of unconventional family situations and toward understanding, openness, and mercy.” I think everyone should take a deep breath. 
What has just appeared is not even close to a definitive, formal teaching of the Catholic Church. It is a report on what has been discussed so far in a synod of some two hundred bishops from around the world. It conveys, to be sure, a certain consensus around major themes, trends that have been evident in the conversations, dominant emphases in the debates, etc., but it decidedly does not represent “the teaching” of the Pope or the bishops. 
One of the great mysteries enshrined in the ecclesiology of the Catholic Church is that Christ speaks through the rather messy and unpredictable process of ecclesiastical argument. The Holy Spirit guides the process of course, but he doesn’t undermine or circumvent it. It is precisely in the long, laborious sifting of ideas across time and through disciplined conversation that the truth that God wants to communicate gradually emerges. If you want evidence of this, simply look at the accounts of the deliberations of the major councils of the Church, beginning with the so-called Council of Jerusalem in the first century right through to the Second Vatican Council of the twentieth century. In every such gathering, argument was front and center, and consensus evolved only after lengthy and often acrimonious debate among the interested parties. Read John Henry Newman’s colorful history of the Council of Nicaea in the fourth century, and you’ll find stories of riots in the streets and the mutually pulling of beards among the disputants. Or pick up Yves Congar’s very entertaining diary of his years at Vatican II, and you’ll learn of his own withering critiques of the interventions of prominent Cardinals and rival theologians. Or peruse John O’Malley’s history of the Council of Trent, and you’ll see that early draft statements on the key doctrines of original sin and justification were presented, debated, and dismissed—long before final versions were approved. 
Until Vatican II, these preliminary arguments and conversations were known only to the participants themselves and to certain specialist historians who eventually sifted through the records. The great teachings of the Councils became widely known and celebrated, but the process that produced them was, happily enough, consigned to the shadows. If I might quote the great Newman, who had a rather unsatisfying experience of official ecclesial life in Rome:  “those who love the barque of Peter ought to stay out of the engine room!” This is a somewhat more refined version of “those who enjoy sausage ought never to watch how it is made.” The interim report on the Synod represents a very early stage of the sausage-making process and, unsurprisingly, it isn’t pretty. Two more weeks of discussion will follow; then a full year during which the findings of the Synod will be further refined, argued about, and clarified; then the Ordinary Synod on the Family will take place (the one going on now is the Extraordinary Synod), and many more arguments and counter-arguments will be made; finally, some months, perhaps even a year or so, after that, the Pope will write a post-Synodal exhortation summing up the entire process and offering a definitive take on the matter. At that point, I would suggest, something resembling edible sausage will be available for our consumption; until then, we should all be patient and refrain from bloviating.
The historian and theologian Martin Marty commented that our debates today about sex and authority are analogous to the arguments in the early centuries of the Church’s life concerning Christology and to the disputes about anthropology and salvation around the time of the Reformation. Those two previous dust-ups took several centuries to resolve, and Marty suggests that we might be in the midst of another centuries long controversy. I’m glad that Pope Francis, at the outset of this Synod, urged the participating bishops to speak their minds clearly and fearlessly. He didn’t want a self-censorship that would unduly hamper the conversation and thereby prevent the truth from emerging. This does not imply for a moment that Pope Francis will agree with every point of view expressed, and indeed he can’t possibly, since many are mutually exclusive. But it does indeed mean that he has the confidence and the patience required to allow the Holy Spirit to work in his preferred fashion.

On Humility in Prayer

The following comes from Msgr. Charles Pope:

I, perhaps like you, have to see folks I love and care about through some difficult periods in their life. One neighbor and parishioner just lost her eight year old daughter to cancer. A number of parishioners are seeking work and praying daily for it, but no work offers seem forth-coming. Still others cry out for the alleviation of any number of different crosses. I too have lots of things for which I pray, and sometimes I get discouraged or even angry when God seems to say, “no” or, “wait.”

One thing I have surely learned about true prayer, and that it is, I have to be humble, very humble. The Scriptures say, we do not know how to pray as we ought (Romans 8:26). Many other translations of this text say even more emphatically:We do not know what we ought to pray for. Yes, it is true, and yet we are often so sure of what is best for us, or best for others. But what we find the desirable outcome is not necessarily the best outcome. And this insight requires of us great humility. We see so little and understand even less. When we ask for some outcome, and it is not wrong to do so, we need to ask humbly. God alone knows the best answer and when to answer. This is humility.
There is an old teaching that basically goes: Many think of prayer as trying to get God to do your will. But true prayer is trying to understand what God’s will is and do it. I heard and African American preacher put it this way:

You got a lotta people that talk about naming and claiming, and calling and hauling…But there’s just something about saying, “THY will be done!” that we’ve forgot.

It’s not wrong to ask. The Book of James says, You have not because you ask not (James 4:2). But we do need to ask with great humility because, truth be told, we don’t really know what is best. James and John came to Jesus one day seeking high positions in the new administration (Kingdom). Jesus said to them, You don’t know what you are asking (Mk 10:38). And the truth is, we don’t.
So ask, but ask humbly.

St. Augustine writes beautifully on this matter in his letter to Proba:

Paul himself was not exempt from such ignorance….To prevent him from becoming puffed-up over the greatness of the revelations that had been given to him, he was given….a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet him, he asked the Lord three times to take it away from him…..even such a great saint’s prayer had to be refused: My grace is enough for you: my power is at its best in weakness. (2 Cor 12:9)

So when we are suffering afflictions that might be doing us either good or harm, [we ought to remember that] we do not to know how to pray as we ought. [B]ecause they are hard to endure and painful, because they are contrary to our nature (which is weak) we, like all mankind, pray to have our afflictions taken from us. [But], we owe this much respect to the Lord our God, that if he does not take our afflictions away, we should not consider ourselves ignored and neglected. But [rather, we] should hope to gain some greater good through the patient acceptance of suffering. For my power is at its best in weakness.

These words are written so that we should not be proud of ourselves…. when we ask for something it would be better for us not to get; and also that we should not become utterly dejected if we are not given what we ask for, despairing of God’s mercy towards us. [I]t might be that what we have been asking for could have brought us some still greater affliction, or it could completely ruin us through the corrupting influence of prosperity. In such cases, it is clear that we cannot know how to pray as we ought.

Hence if anything happens contrary to our prayer [request], we ought to bear the disappointment patiently, give thanks to God, and be sure that it was better for God’s will to be done than our own.

The Mediator himself has given us an example of this. When he had prayed, My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass me by, he transformed the human will that was in him because he had assumed human nature and added: Nevertheless, let it be as you, not I, would have it. Thus, truly,By the obedience of one man many have been made righteous. (St Augustine Letter to Proba (Ep 130 14.25ff)

This song reminds us that the answer to our prayers is often caught up in the paradox of the cross: