Monday, November 30, 2015

Lament by Audrey Assad


I'm Mary and I'm Martha all at the same time;
I'm sitting at His feet and yet I'm dying to be recognized.
I am a picture of contentment and I'm dissatisfied.
Why is it easy to work and hard to rest sometimes?

I'm restless, and I rustle like a thousand tall trees;
I'm twisting and I'm turning in an endless daydream.
You wrestle me at night and I wake in search of You...
but try as I might, I just can't catch You
But I want to, because I need You, yes, I need You
I can't catch You, but I want to.

How long, how long until I'm home?
I'm so tired, so tired of running
How long until You come for me?
I'm so tired, so tired of running

How long, how long until I'm home?
I'm so tired, so tired of running
How long until You come for me?
I'm so tired, so tired of running
I'm so tired, so tired of running
I'm so tired, so tired of running

Fr. George Rutler on Advent

The following comes from Fr. Rutler:

The four weeks of Advent are a test of how profoundly or superficially we understand the meaning of life. In these weeks, the Church reveals the deepest mysteries: Death, Judgment, Heaven and Hell. Christ saves us from the banality of skimming life on the surface:  eating, working, shopping, sleeping, waking up and doing it all over again. He created us for great glory, and that is why people become frustrated when they ignore these great mysteries. “Angst” is a kind of neurosis, stemming from an unwillingness to listen to the voice of Christ.  He may be drowned out temporarily by idle chatter and amusements, but as St. Augustine said, “Our hearts are restless, O Lord, until they find their rest in Thee.”  

Rushing Christmas, and not thinking about what Christ wants us to be, are signs of a culture absorbed in itself, so that it becomes no greater than itself. That old maxim is poignant no matter how many times we repeat it: “A man wrapped up in himself becomes a very small package.” More important than wrapping gifts in this season, is the obligation to unwrap ourselves:  to confess to Christ our failings and our desire to live life as He wants it, so that we might rejoice with Him forever and never be separated from Him.

Our culture is enduring a severe test of itself. If Christ does not rule our minds and hearts, mere humans will try to do it, and they will do it badly. When the Judges of Israel wanted a merely human king, Samuel warned them:  “He will take the best of your fields, vineyards, and olive groves and give them to his officials. He will tithe your flocks, and you yourselves will become slaves” (1 Samuel 8:14, 17). 

Our Lord promises that the truth will set us free. His word is truth. That is what He told Pontius Pilate, whose life was a dreary routine mired in cynicism. But even Pilate was amazed that Christ's own people had “handed Him over” to the government. By their own declaration, the crowd wanted “no king but Caesar.” Had they obeyed Christ’s truth, things would have been different for them. Each generation is tempted to hand Christ over to cynics. We do it when we barter our conscience for comfort and our freedom for frivolity.

If Catholics behaved as Catholics, our culture would be not be satisfied with getting little things from elected officials in exchange for our moral dignity. If we only want things, we shall only be things. Christ looks at us, as He looked at the crowds when He walked on this earth. And amid the passing fashions of mindless men, He says: “Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice” (John 18:37). 

Saint of the day: Andrew the Apostle


Today the Church remembers St. Andrew the Apostle! The following is taken from the chrysostom.org website:

Andrew was at first a disciple of John the Baptizer along with John the Theologian. When the Forerunner pointed out Jesus as the Christ, they both became His disciples. Andrew took his brother, Saint Peter, to meet Jesus. He is called the Protokletos (the First Called) because he was the first Apostle to be summoned by Jesus into His service. Andrew and his brother Peter made their living as fishermen on the Sea of Galilee. Both men became Apostles, and while Peter symbolically came to represent the Church of the West, Andrew likewise represents the Church of the East.

The First Called, Apostle to Greece and Beyond

According to ecclesiastical tradition, Andrew began his missionary activity in the Provinces of Vithynia and Pontus on the southern shores of the Black Sea. Later he journeyed to the City of Byzantium and founded the Christian Church there, ordaining the first Bishop of Byzantium, Stachys, who was one of the 70 disciples of the Lord.

After Pentecost, Andrew taught in Byzantium, Thrace, Russia, Epiros, and Peloponnese. In Amisos, he converted the Jews in the temple, baptized them, healed their sick, built a church, and left a priest for them. In Bithynia, he taught, healed their sick, and drove away the wild beasts that bothered them. His prayers destroyed the pagan temples, and those who resisted his words became possessed and gnawed at their bodies until Andrew healed them.

The First Called, Wonderworker

In one of his several missionary journeys to Greece, Andrew visited the City of Patras. Through his preaching and the miracles of healing he performed, in the name of Jesus, many persons were converted to Christianity. Among those healed was Maximilla, the wife of the Roman Proconsul, Aegeates. Seeing this miracle of healing, Stratoklis, the highly intellectual brother of the Proconsul, also became a Christian, and Andrew consecrated and enthroned him as the first Bishop of Patras.

As a prophet, he foretold of the greatness of Kiev as a city and a stronghold of Christianity. In Sinope, he prayed for the imprisoned Apostle Matthias, and his chains fell from him and the cell door opened. The people beat Andrew, breaking his teeth, cutting his fingers, and left him for dead in a dung heap. Jesus appeared to him and healed him, telling him to be of good cheer. When the people saw him the next day, they were amazed and they believed. At another time, he raised a woman's only son from the dead.

The Crucifixion of the First Called

The conversions to the Christian Faith by members of his own family infuriated the Proconsul Aegeates, and he decided, with the urging of the idolators who advised him, to crucify Andrew. The crucifixion was carried out on an X-shaped cross with the body of the Apostle upside down so that he saw neither the earth nor his executioners, but only the sky which he glorified as the heaven in which he would meet his Lord. Aegeates had him tied to the cross in this manner so that he would live longer and suffer more.

Twenty thousand of the faithful stood by and mourned. Even then, Andrew taught them and exhorted them to endure temporary sufferings for the kingdom of heaven. Out of fear of the people, Aegeates came to remove Andrew from the cross. Andrew, however, said that Aegeates could still become a Christian, but that he had already seen Jesus and he would not allow himself to be removed from the cross. Many tried to undo the knots, but their hands all became numb. Suddenly, a heavenly light illumined Andrew for about a half hour. When it left, Andrew had given up his spirit.

His body was tenderly removed from the cross by Bishop Stratoklis and Maximilla, and buried with all of the honor befitting the Apostle. Soon countless numbers of Christians made their way to Patras to pay reverence to the grave of Andrew, and when Aegeates realized that the man he had put to death was truly a holy man of God a demon fell upon him and tormented him so powerfully that he committed suicide.

Re-burial in Constaninople

In the month of March in the year 357 the Emperor Constantine (son of Constantine The Great) ordered that the body of Saint Andrew be removed from Patras and be reinterred in the Church of the Holy Apostles in Constantinople. With all the magnificence and honor of the Byzantine Empire and the Great Church of Christ at Constantinople, Saint Andrew was returned to the City that had first heard the message of Jesus Christ from his lips. Thus he became in death, as well as in life, the founder of the Great Church of Christ in Constantinople. His relics are in Constantinople along with the Apostle Luke and Timothy, the disciple of Paul, in the Church of the Apostles.

Patron Saint of Scotland

The deeds and preaching of Andrew became known in all parts of the world. According to tradition a part of the remains of Andrew were taken to Scotland, and he was chosen as the Protector of the Scottish people. The Cross of Saint Andrew also adorns the British flag where it was placed after the union of Scotland and England. The skull of Andrew was kept in Patras until the year 1460 when Thomas Paleologos, the last ruler of the Morea, brought the skull to Rome. In 1967, under the orders of Pope Paul of the Roman Church, the skull was returned to Patras with all of the pomp and dignity of the Papal State. He remains the patron saint of Russia, Scotland and Romania to this day.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Greek Orthodox Hymns to the Mother of God

Heads Up: Scott Hahn Reflects on the First Sunday of Advent

The following comes from Scott Hahn:


Readings:

Every Advent, the Liturgy of the Word gives our sense of time a reorientation. There’s a deliberate tension in the next four weeks’ readings - between promise and fulfillment, expectation and deliverance, between looking forward and looking back.
In today’s First Reading, the prophet Jeremiah focuses our gaze on the promise God made to David, some 1,000 years before Christ. God says through the prophet that He will fulfill this promise by raising up a “just shoot,” a righteous offspring of David, who will rule Israel in justice (see 2 Samuel 7:16Jeremiah 33:17Psalm 89:4-527-38).
Today’s Psalm, too, sounds the theme of Israel’s ancient expectation: “Guide me in Your truth and teach Me. For You are God my Savior and for You I will wait all day.”
We look back on Israel’s desire and anticipation knowing that God has already made good on those promises by sending His only Son into the world. Jesus is the “just shoot,” the God and Savior for Whom Israel was waiting.
Knowing that He is a God who keeps His promises lends grave urgency to the words of Jesus in today’s Gospel.
Urging us to keep watch for His return in glory, He draws on Old Testament images of chaos and instability – turmoil in the heavens (see Isaiah 13:11,13;Ezekiel 32:7-8Joel 2:10); roaring seas (see Isaiah 5:3017:12); distress among the nations (see Isaiah 8:22/14:25) and terrified people (see Isaiah 13:6-11).
He evokes the prophet Daniel’s image of the Son of Man coming on a cloud of glory to describe His return as a “theophany,” a manifestation of God (see Daniel 7:13-14).
Many will cower and be literally scared to death. But Jesus says we should greet the end-times with heads raised high, confident that God keeps His promises, that our “redemption is at hand,” that ‘the kingdom of God is near” (see Luke 21:31)

A Prayer for Advent























An Advent Prayer by Henri J.M. Nouwen

Lord Jesus,

Master of both the light and the darkness, send your Holy Spirit upon our preparations for Christmas.

We who have so much to do seek quiet spaces to hear your voice each day.

We who are anxious over many things look forward to your coming among us.

We who are blessed in so many ways long for the complete joy of your kingdom.

We whose hearts are heavy seek the joy of your presence.

We are your people, walking in darkness, yet seeking the light.

To you we say, "Come Lord Jesus!"


Saturday, November 28, 2015

Rascal Flatts: Everyday


St. Catherine Laboure: Saint of Silence


The following comes from Catholic Online:


St. Catherine Laboure, virgin, was born on May 2, 1806. At an early age she entered the community of the Daughters of Charity, in Paris, France. Three times in 1830 the Virgin Mary appeared to St. Catherine Laboure, who then was a twenty-four year old novice.
On July 18, the first apparition occurred in the community's motherhouse. St. Catherine beheld a lady seated on the right side of the sanctuary. When St. Catherine approached her, the heavenly visitor told her how to act in time of trial and pointed to the altar as the source of all consolation. Promising to entrust St. Catherine with a mission which would cause her great suffering, the lady also predicted the anticlerical revolt which occurred at Paris in 1870.
On November 27, the lady showed St. Catherine the medal of the Immaculate Conception, now universally known as the "Miraculous Medal." She commissioned St. Catherine to have one made, and to spread devotion to this medal. At that time, only her spiritual director, Father Aladel, knew of the apparitions. Forty-five years later, St. Catherine spoke fully of the apparitions to one of her superiors. She died on December 31, 1876, and was canonized on July 27, 1947. Her feast day is November 28.

Remembering Our Lady of Beauraing

Today is the anniversary of the first visions of Our Lady at Beauraing, Belgium. The following comes from MedjugorjeUSA:

In 1917, Our Lady of Fatima told the 3 shepherd children that if men did not stop offending Her Son, the world would be punished by means of wars, famines, and persecutions of the church. By 1932, this prophecy was well underway. Communists were in power in Russia. Mussolini was leader of Italy. Hitler was rising in Germany. The world was in depression. Unemployment, bread lines, hunger and riots were wide spread.

In a French speaking part of Belgium, lay a village called Beauraing. Sixty miles southeast of Brussels, Beauraing was mostly a farming community of about 2000 people.

Once staunch Catholic, many Beauraing villagers were lead away from the Church. The Marxist Labor Party won many district elections. Many were now anti-Catholic.

On November 29, 1932, Fernande and Albert Voisin, age 15 and 11, respectively, went to meet their sister, Gilberte, age 13. Gilberte attended an Academy conducted by the Sisters of Christian Doctrine. Gilberte's sister Fernande and brother Albert would often walk their sister home from school at the end of the day. Accompanying them this day was the two Degeimbre girls, Andree, age 14 and Gilberte, age 9.

Waiting for Gilberte Voisin to come out of the convent, the other four children went to the convent garden to visit the Lourdes Grotto. Albert was the first to notice a beautiful luminous lady dressed in white, walking in the air with her feet inside a cloud. Looking to see what Albert was talking about the other children saw the lady as well.

The lady looked about 18. Her eyes deep blue with rays of light coming from her head. She wore a long white pleated gown with a belt. The dress reflected a sort of blue light. Her hands were held together as if in prayer. Later she would carry a Rosary on her right arm during all other visitations.

The lady continued to appear in the following days. On December 2, Albert was the first to speak asking her, "Are you the Immaculate Virgin?" The Lady smiled and nodded Her head, then saying, "Always be good." Disappearing, She returned 3 more times that very day.

On several occasions the Lady told the children that She desired them to be present on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. On December 8th some 15000 people were present, as the word of the vision had spread. During this apparition, Dr. Maistriaux, Dr. Lurquin and other doctors were there to pinch, slap, prick and shine flashlights in the children eyes. There was no response from the children during the Lady's visit.

Dr. Lurquin took a lighted match to Gilberte Voisin's left hand; still there was no response. After the apparition Dr. Lurquin looked to see what damage the match had done. There was no sign of injury.

On December 17, the Lady asked for a chapel to be built.
On December 23, she stated that she desired people to come on pilgrimage.
On December 21, the beautiful luminous Lady clearly stated, "I am the Immaculate Virgin."
On December 29, the Blessed Virgin opened Her arms in Her usual gesture of farewell. This time Fernande saw a Heart of Gold, surrounded by glittering rays. In the coming days all the chosen children witnessed this event which happened in all the remaining apparitions. The Heart was without question, the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Beginning with the Dec. 30th apparition, Our Lady began to repeat, "Pray, pray, very much.

On Jan 3, 1933, after two decades of the rosary, again She appeared. She spoke to each child separately, given each a secret and ending by saying good-by.

Fernande was the last to receive word. At this time many spectators witnessed a loud noise like thunder, seeing a large ball of fire. Our Lady said to Fernande, "Do you love My Son?" 'Yes,' Fernande replied. "Do you love Me?" asked the Lady. 'Yes,' Fernande answered. "Then sacrifice yourself for me."

As Fernande was asking what sacrifices she should make, the Lady of light extended Her arms in gesture of farewell showing Her gold heart, then She disappeared saying good-by.

Though this was the last visitation, the children prayed the rosary in the Grotto every day. There were reports of a number of healing and many sinners were converted.

In 1935, a Commission was appointed to investigate the Events in Beauraing. On February 2, 1943, Bishop Andre Marie Charue authorized public devotion to Our Lady of Beauraing. Decrees of healing were to follow. On July 2, 1949, the Bishop released a document to Clergy in the Diocese declaring that the Queen of Heaven did appear to the children.

The statue of Our Lady of Beauraing was blessed on August 22, 1946, the Feast of the Immaculate Heart. The Chapel was consecrated August 21, 1954.

The secrets given to the children have never been revealed.




Friday, November 27, 2015

Paul J. Kim: God Is In The Media??

St. Catherine Laboure and The Miraculous Medal

God Desires Your Love

The following comes from the Catholic Exchange:
Some time ago, while on a train from Washington to New York, I became engaged in conversation with a young man. He was a graduate of a Catholic college, proud of the fact, and quite determined that the Faith was to be his guiding star through life.
A friend had recently given him a copy of the autobi­ography of St. Thérèse of Lisieux. What surprised him most, he said, was the ease with which this young nun talked of her intimate friendship with God. Oh, he had learned in school that we are in this world to love God, but he had never known that this love could be an inti­mate, personal friendship. In his prayers, he was always most formal with God. He had always believed that he was loving God in the only way expected of him when he tried to observe the Ten Commandments and the precepts of the Church.
His relation to God had been one of duty and honor, like that of a soldier to his country. He found it quite natural to praise God. He enjoyed singing “Holy God, we praise Thy name,” and one of his regular prayers was “Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.”
But he had never been taught to love God as a child loves his father. After all, God is a spirit, and it is not easy to think of Him as a Father. Prayers based on filial relationship seemed exaggerated. He had never realized that it is possible to fall in love with God — to think of Him continually, to try to please Him in all one’s actions, as one thinks of and tries to please a person he loves. It had even seemed to him that intimate conversations with God were either expressions of pure sentimentality or pleasures to be enjoyed only in the next world.
I explained that falling in love with God is no mys­tery to those who are schooled in the saints or who are acquainted with some of the more ardent souls in reli­gious life. It is the ideal of priests, brothers, nuns, and many devout laypeople. To say that falling in love with God is impossible is to deny an obvious fact: countless souls have done precisely that.
I ventured to say that perhaps he had never analyzed the full meaning of love. But I learned that he, like most young people, prided himself on knowing something about it. He believed in love, he told me — human love that occupies the whole mind and heart of the lover; love that becomes so much a part of a man that his thoughts turn continually to his beloved; love that tugs at the heartstrings and makes itself felt whenever the mind has a moment to itself.
When I smiled skeptically to show that I was not at all sure he knew what true love was, he quickly added that he was not considering only the emotional kind of love. He knew what true love is. It lasts forever, he said, even after the beauty and freshness of youth have vanished. You can see it in the eyes of the mother who spends sleepless nights watching over her sick child. You can see it in a husband who for years has devoted himself with amazing kindness and patience to an invalid wife. It is written on the haggard face of a young soldier as he drags his wounded comrade back from the front lines.
He had the right idea. He was not confusing love with emotionalism or sentimentality. Love can express itself through the emotions; it may manifest itself in the happiness and joy of a newly wedded couple or in the sadness that shrouds a family that has just lost its mother. It is clearly found in the life of Jesus. When He was told that Lazarus was dead, Jesus wept. And the people, seeing this, said, “Behold how He loved him.” True love can break forth and express itself in deep emotion, but it can also be externally cold — as unemotional as paying the income tax or washing dishes.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Byzantine Chants

Saint of the day: John Berchmans


Today we remember another youthful saint as we remember John Berchmans.  The following comes from the Patron Saints Index:

Son of a shoemaker, and one of five children, three of whom entered religious life. Great devotion to his position as an altar boy. He spent much of his time caring for his mother, who was in poor health. Jesuit noviate in 1616, deciding to become a Jesuit after reading the life of Saint Aloysius GonzagaStudent at the Jesuit College at Malines. Studied philosophy in Rome. John had a dream of helping and teaching multi-lingual migrants, and he studied all the chief languages of Europe. He wanted to work in China after ordination. He died of unknown causes following his participation in a public debate defending the faith, and while clutching his rosary, crucifix, and rules of his order; he did not live to be ordained.

John Berchmans was not noted for extraordinary feats of holiness or austerity, nor did he found orders or churches or work flashy 
miracles. He made kindness, courtesy, and constant fidelity an important part of his holiness. The path to holiness can lie in the ordinary rather than the extraordinary.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Thanksgiving: A heart fully alive!


Thanksgiving: A Heart Fully Alive from Catholic Media House on Vimeo.

Psalm 100

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the lands!
Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into God's presence with singing!
Know that the Lord is God! It is he that made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him, bless his name!
For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures for ever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.

The Crazy Prophets of the Old Testament

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The following comes from the Catholic Exchange:
The prophets are among the oddest and most eccentric characters of the Old Testament. 
That might actually be an understatement. Put bluntly, the behavior of Old Testament prophets was so bizarre that by today’s secular standards of sanity they would end up institutionalized, or, at the very least, in some form of intensive therapy.
Consider Isaiah, who stripped off all his clothes and wandered around naked (Isaiah 20). Or Jeremiah, who not only hid his underwear in a rock but then went back to retrieve it after a “long time” (Jeremiah 13). Jeremiah apparently didn’t mind parting with under garments, but he couldn’t be separated from the cattle yoke he had fastened to his shoulders until another prophet broke it off (Jeremiah 27 and 28). Yet another eyebrow-raiser was Hosea, who married a prostitute and named their daughter Lo-ruhama, which means ‘unloved’ (Hosea 1).
Then there was Jonah, the run-away prophet who spent three days in the belly of a whale before answering God’s call. When he eventually got around to preaching in Nineveh, the entire city repented. For any other preacher this would have been a joyous outcome. But Jonah—a prophetic Puddleglum if ever there was one—was so upset that his doomsday prophecy wasn’t fulfilled that he begged God to kill him, a request that went unanswered.
Jonah then went into denial. Convinced that a local apocalypse was still in the works, he left the city and picked a vantage point from which he might safely watch the whole fire-and-brimstone show. Jonah had no pity for the Ninevites, but when a small bush that had been sheltering him from the scorching-hot sun died, he went berserk, asking God once again to just end his misery.
But the weirdest of the lot may be Ezekiel. After witnessing a vision of God flanked by four chimerical creatures, the prophet ate a scroll that had been given to him (Ezekiel 1 and 3). Ezekiel was called to be a prophet, but his ministry initially did not involve any prophetic words, as God had rendered him mute (Ezekiel 3). Instead he took to drawing, depicting an image of Jerusalem under siege on a clay tablet. Then he lied down on his side, with an iron pan separating him from his clay art. After 390 days had passed, Ezekiel rolled over and repeated (Ezekiel 4).
After his clay tablet stunt was over, Ezekiel went new diet of barley cakes baked over cow manure (Ezekiel 4). Next Ezekiel used a sword—yes, you read that right, an actual sword—to shave off his beard, dividing his hairs into thirds. He set one third on fire. He scattered another third around the city and stabbed it with his sword. He threw the remaining third into the wind. But the hair histrionics were far from over: Ezekiel had saved a few hairs from such abuse, which he sewed into his clothing. Then he burned some of those hairs too (Ezekiel 5).
The weird stuff didn’t stop when Ezekiel finally started speaking. In Ezekiel 6, he prophesies against the mountains. Six chapters later, he goes into lurid detail—at least by biblical standards—about the sexual depravity of two sister prostitutes. Later, he prophesies over dry bones in a valley. As Ezekiel stands speaking to his captive audience, he has a vision of the bones coming to life (Ezekiel 37).
One crucial detail has been omitted in these accounts: the actions of Ezekiel, Hosea, Jeremiah, and Isaiah were commanded by God, which means that we cannot dismiss their behavior. Indeed, these men were not prophets in spite of their eccentricities. Rather, their actions were at the center of their ministry. In the Scriptures, they are explained as symbolic acts that convey divine messages along with their words. For example, the stripping of Isaiah symbolized the future humiliation of Egypt and Ethiopia at the hands of Assyrian conquerors. Jeremiah’s yoke signified the servitude of the Jews to Babylonia while Ezekiel’s dung-warmed meals foreshadowed their exile, where they would be forced to eat unclean food.
Jonah might seem an exception to all this, but God ended up using his wayward journey to symbolize Christ’s sacrifice and three-day descent into hell.
Looking back on Jonah and the others from the perspective of the New Testament we begin to see a sort of harmony between their bizarre behavior and their prophecies of both doom and deliverance. There is an incarnational logic to their ministries: these prophets were not just speakers of the word—they lived it out in their lives, through their actions, their choice of clothing, and even their very bodies. They are thus witnesses to how totally transforming and disruptive the Word of God can be when we let it consume our whole lives.
Now, this message may not have been as clear to the Jews of their day and those living in the centuries immediately afterwards. And the mystery of the prophets would have only deepened when all prophecy suddenly ceased with Malachi, ushering in 400 years of silence.
But, with the coming of Christ, we can look back at these prophets and see them as foreshadowing Him—not just through the prophecies that told of His coming, but through their prophetic actions. Christ was, after all, the Word Made Flesh in the fullest and richest manner possible. And, like the prophets, Christ’s behavior was utterly bizarre, disruptive, and confusing according to conventional social standards of the day. This was, after all, someone who promised to rebuild the temple in three days, dined with prostitutes and tax collectors, drove demons into a herd of swine, healed a blind man by rubbing mud in his eyes, and once walked on water.
It doesn’t get weirder than that.

Blessed Maria Troncatti: Missionary Salesian

The following comes from the Salesian News Agency:

The Daughters of Mary Help of Christians and with them the entire Salesian Family are in happy expectation for the Beatification of Sr Maria Troncatti. It will be possible to follow the event by direct streaming broadcast tomorrow at 10 a.m. Ecuador time. Cardinal Angelo Amato, sdb, Prefect of the Causes of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, will be presiding

Macas is where it will take place and many Salesian Sisters and Salesians are gathering there from Ecuador and elsewhere in Latin America, along with young people and Salesian Family members.

Mother Yvonne Reungoat arrived in Ecuador on 20 November with Sr Piera Cavaglià, Secretary General. Representing the Rector Major, tied up in Rome with the USG assembly, is his Vicar, Fr Adrian Bregolin, and the Postulator for Causes of Saints in the Salesian Family, Fr Pierluigi Cameroni. The President of Ecuador has made a military aircraft available for guests of honour to come to Macas.

There are various events in Ecuador marking preparations for Sr Troncatti's Beatification.
Sr. Maria Troncatti – born at Corteno Golgi (Brescia, Italy) on 16 February 1883 died in a plane crash at Sucùa (Ecuador) on 25 August 1969 – she is an example of a Religious and missionary vocation, filled with Marian devotion and dedication to the apostolic mission she had received. Hers was a life given to evangelisation and social and human development of the Shuar people in the Amazonian jungles of Ecuador. What stands out is her strong love for and fidelity to the Church expressed also in her care for God's ministers: she was always ready to lend them a hand in the difficulties of the mission.

Salesian missionary Fr John Vigna, who had occasion to get to know Sr Troncatti, says of her: “She was the very embodiment of simplicity and Gospel shrewdness. With what exquisite motherliness she won over hearts! For every problem she found a solution that was, in the light of the facts, always the best one. She never overlooked the fact that she was dealing with weak and sinful human beings. I have seen her deal with human nature of every kind, including the most miserable: she treated them with the kindness that was just natural and spontaneous for her. What surprised me was that she remained exquisitely the woman in everything and always. I would say that the more virginal she was the more she was the mother”.

There are various resources available for getting to know Sr Maria Troncatti better: sdb.org and cgfmanet.org.

The Salesian Sisters in Ecuador have a new section on their site dedicated to Sr Maria Troncatti. On this site, on Saturday morning 24 November at 10:00 (GMT-5) it will be possible to follow a direct broadcast of the Beatification at which Cardinal Angelo Amato, sdb, Prefect of the Congregation of Causes of Saints will preside.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Quotable Ratzinger

“The church will become small and will have to start afresh more or less from the beginning. She will no longer be able to inhabit many of the edifices she built in prosperity. As the number of her adherents diminishes . . . she will lose many of her social privileges. . . As a small society, [the Church] will make much bigger demands on the initiative of her individual members.” 

--Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) in 1970

Saint of the Day: Andrew Dung Lac and the Vietnamese Martyrs

Today the Church remembers St. Andrew Dung Lac and the Vietnamese Martyrs. The following comes from American Catholic:

St. Andrew was one of 117 martyrs who met death in Vietnam between 1820 and 1862. Members of this group were beatified on four different occasions between 1900 and 1951. Now all have been canonized by Pope John Paul II.

Christianity came to Vietnam (then three separate kingdoms) through the Portuguese. Jesuits opened the first permanent mission at Da Nang in 1615. They ministered to Japanese Catholics who had been driven from Japan.

The king of one of the kingdoms banned all foreign missionaries and tried to make all Vietnamese apostatize by trampling on a crucifix. Like the priest-holes in Ireland during English persecution, many hiding places were offered in homes of the faithful.

Severe persecutions were again launched three times in the 19th century. During the six decades after 1820, between 100,000 and 300,000 Catholics were killed or subjected to great hardship. Foreign missionaries martyred in the first wave included priests of the Paris Mission Society, and Spanish Dominican priests and tertiaries.

Persecution broke out again in 1847 when the emperor suspected foreign missionaries and Vietnamese Christians of sympathizing with the rebellion of one of his sons.

The last of the martyrs were 17 laypersons, one of them a 9-year-old, executed in 1862. That year a treaty with France guaranteed religious freedom to Catholics, but it did not stop all persecution.

By 1954 there were over a million and a half Catholics—about seven percent of the population—in the north. Buddhists represented about 60 percent. Persistent persecution forced some 670,000 Catholics to abandon lands, homes and possessions and flee to the south. In 1964, there were still 833,000 Catholics in the north, but many were in prison. In the south, Catholics were enjoying the first decade of religious freedom in centuries, their numbers swelled by refugees.

During the Vietnamese war, Catholics again suffered in the north, and again moved to the south in great numbers. Now the whole country is under Communist rule.

A Tribute to Mother Teresa Of Calcutta and Pope John Paul II

Monday, November 23, 2015

Cristo Rey, Blessed Miguel Agustin Pro and the Cristeros


"Viva Cristo Rey", "Long live Christ the King!"On November 23 we remember Blessed Miguel Pro. Fr. Pro was a hero for the faith during the persecution of Mexican Catholics in the early 20th century. I found some of these images at A Catholic Mom in Hawaii blog. His story would make a wonderful movie! Like St. Edmund Campion, Padre Pro had to dress up in disguise to outfox those who were chasing him down. He secretly brought the sacraments to the Catholic people of Mexico while it was illegal to do so under the Anti-Catholic government. The following is from catholic.org:

Born on January 13, 1891 in Guadalupe, Mexico, Miguel Agustin Pro Juarez was the eldest son of Miguel Pro and Josefa Juarez.

Miguelito, as his doting family called him, was, from an early age, intensely spiritual and equally intense in hi mischievousness, frequently exasperating his family with his humor and practical jokes. As a child, he had a daring precociousness that sometimes went too far, tossing him into near-death accidents and illnesses. On regaining consciousness after one of these episodes, young Miguel opened his eyes and blurted out to his frantic parents, "I want some cocol" (a colloquial term for his favorite sweet bread). "Cocol" became his nickname, which he would later adopt as a code name during this clandestine ministry.

Miguel was particularly close to his older sister and after she entered a cloistered convent, he came to recognize his own vocation to the priesthood. Although he was popular with the senoritas and had prospects of a lucrative career managing his father's thriving business concerns, Miguel renounced everything for Christ his King and entered the Jesuit novitiate in El Llano, Michoacan in 1911..
He studied in Mexico until 1914, when a tidal wave of anti-Catholicism crashed down upon Mexico, forcing the novitiate to disband and flee to the United States, where Miguel and his brother seminarians treked through Texas and New Mexico before arriving at the Jesuit house in Los Gatos, California.

In 1915, Miguel was sent to a seminary in Spain, where he remained until 1924, when he went to Belgium for his ordination to the priesthood in 1925. Miguel suffered from a severe stomach problem and after three operations, when his health did not improve, his superiors, in 1926, allowed him to return to Mexico in spite of the grave religious persecution in that country

The churches were closed and priests went into hiding. Miguel spent the rest of his life in a secret ministry to the sturdy Mexican Catholics. In addition to fulfilling their spiritual needs, he also carried out the works of mercy by assisting the poor in Mexico City with their temporal needs. He adopted many interesting disguises in carrying out his secret mininstry. He would come in the middle of the night dressed as a beggar to baptize infants, bless marriages and celebrate Mass. He would appear in jail dressed as a police officer to bring Holy Viaticum to condemned Catholics. When going to fashionable neighborhoods to procure for the poor, he would show up at the doorstep dressed as a fashionable businessman with a fresh flower on his lapel. His many exploits could rival those of the most daring spies. In all that he did, however, Fr. Pro remained obedient to his superiors and was filled with the joy of serving Christ, his King.

Falsely accused in the bombing attempt on a former Mexican president, Miguel became a wanted man. Betrayed to the police, he was sentenced to death without the benefit of any legal process.

On November 13, 1927, President Calles gave orders to have Pro executed under the pretext of the assassination, but in reality for defying the virtual outlawing of Catholicism. Calles had the execution meticulously photographed, and the newspapers throughout the country carried them on the front page the following day. Presumably, Calles thought that the sight of the pictures would frighten the Cristero rebels who were fighting against his troops, particularly in the state of Jalisco. However, they had the opposite effect.

On the day of his execution, Fr. Pro forgave his executioners, prayed, bravely refused the blindfold and died proclaiming, "Viva Cristo Rey", "Long live Christ the King!"


To learn a bit more about the Cristero War in Mexico you can click here and watch the impressive video below!

Paul Harvey: "If I were the Devil"

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Friday, November 20, 2015

Anima Christi

Discovering Catholicism: Saved from a Life of Drugs

Tim Staples: How to share the truths of faith with others

Thursday, November 19, 2015

After All by David Crowder

Why Are Some Saints Called Doctors of the Church?

Plan Out A New Life in Christ

The following comes from the Catholic Exchange:


As a result of Original Sin we all experience disorder in our lives. Emotional disorders, dysfunctional families or family disorder, mental disorder, social disorders, economic disorders, personal disorders, work disorders, and finally the most serious of all disorders are moral and spiritual disorders which springs from Original Sin and personal or actual sin.
Saint Ignatius of Loyola in the Spiritual Exercises invites us through prayer, meditation, contemplation and Examination of Conscience to work on overcoming the disorder in our life so as to know God’s will and to carry it out faithfully. This will give us great peace of heart, mind, and soul. For this reason the Augustinian definition for peace hits the mark:  “Peace is the tranquility of order.” That is to say a prerequisite for peace is interior and even exterior order—a well-ordered life.
The Holy Spirit, being the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity, is a God of order. He wants to help us to order our lives. Now is the time! When Our Lady appeared to Saint Juan Diego in Mexico Dec. 12th, 1531, she told him to climb the hill and to cut and gather the roses and then to put them in his tilma. Obedient to her, she beckoned Juan Diego to come close to her and with her own hands she ordered the roses that were simply cast in a disarrayed fashion in his tilma. Devotion and prayer to Our Lady can be a sure and efficacious means to overcoming the moral disorders in our lives and experiencing a deep peace of soul.
This presentation will suggest ten specific areas in our personal, family and professional life that we can examine closely and honestly and see if we can make some modification so as to order and improve our lives.  If done well and offered as a gift in prayer to Jesus through the hands of Mary, this plan can be a powerful motivation to grow in our spiritual lives and pursue a pathway that leads to sanctity. Jesus commands us: “Be holy as your heavenly Father is holy.”
These then will be ten areas in our lives that we can look at, examine and see what we can do to improve, so as to order the disordered and thereby achieve true peace of heart, mind and soul.
1. “It is necessary to pray always without giving up,” (Lk. 18:1). Examine your prayer life with objectivity. Now, it’s a good time to write down at least one concrete way that you can improve your prayer life after each point.
2. “Unless you do penance you will perish,” (Lk. 13: 5).  For an eagle to soar to the heights of the highest mountains, he must have two strong and health wings. For a follower of Jesus to be faithful he needs the two wings: prayer and penance, which will give power, patience, perseverance and ultimate peace of presence in a painfully morally poor planet!
3. “Be reconciled to God,” (II Cor. 5:20). Confession! We are all sinners and have fallen short of the honor and glory of God. Thanks be to God that Jesus instituted a Sacrament in which we can always filled with hope start again—that is the Sacrament of Penance or Reconciliation. Make better confessions and work on a better preparation.
4. “I am the Bread of life. Whoever eats the bread I give will have everlasting life and I will raise him up on the last day,” (Jn. 6: 22- 71—The  Bread of Life discourse). Make better Holy Communions. Starting now, receive Holy Communion as if it were your first, last, only and on which you will be judged for all eternity.
5. “Love one another as I have loved you,”(Jn. 13:34).  Rewind the film on your social relations. Maybe some relations are harmful more than they are helpful. Get the axe and cut. Sometimes better to sever rather than cultivate.  True friends should help us to get closer to God.
6. “Be slow to quick to listen and slow to speak.” (Read entire chapter of James 3) The saints teach us this principal with respect to speech, speak on three occasions:
  • 1) to praise God
  • 2) to accuse yourself (of your own shortcomings)
  • 3) to edify your neighbor—using words to build up rather than tear down
7. “You are the light of the world… let your light shine before men so that by seeing your works they may give glory to your Father who is in heaven,” (Mt 5: 13-16—Sermon on the Mount). Permanent Formation.  It is incumbent upon all followers of Christ, who is the Light of the world, to work assiduously and constantly on their own permanent formation in the faith.  The more we fill ourselves with the knowledge and love of Christ the more we can give to others.

Dr. Scott Hahn talks about the Early Church and the Eucharist

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Padre Pio: The Spirit of God

“The Spirit of God is a spirit of peace. Even in the most serious faults he makes us feel a sorrow that is tranquil, humble, and confident. This is precisely because of his mercy. The spirit of the devil, instead, excites, exasperates, and makes us feel, in that very sorrow, anger against ourselves. We should, on the contrary, be charitable with ourselves first and foremost. Therefore if any thought agitates you, this agitation never comes from God, who gives you peace, being the spirit of peace, but from the devil.”
— St. Pio of Pietrelcina

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Ways to Escape from Apathy

The following comes from the Integrated Catholic Life:


Do you ever feel numb or helpless in the face of all the problems the world faces each day?

One only has to watch the news or follow the events of the day online to feel completely overwhelmed. Some of the challenges facing the world include ever-increasing threats to our Catholic faith. The Church is being accosted on all sides and the culture wars are raging. We are locked in an ongoing series of ongoing battles over the HHS Mandate, abortion, euthanasia, same-sex marriage and immigration.  The Church is fighting against the evil of satanic “black masses” in Boston and now Oklahoma City.  In 2012, voters re-elected the most pro-abortion President in history whose policies are often in direct conflict with the teachings of the Church and polls showed that he enjoyed the support of 50% of America’s Catholics. There is a crisis in vocations to the priesthood and in some areas of our country, parishes are nearly empty. These are real issues which demand a response.

What can we do? How do we engage?

Unfortunately, many of us succumb to feelings of indifference and apathy rather than get involved. We may think to ourselves that somebody else will take care of these problems as we have enough to handle already or believe the issues don’t really affect us. At times, it feels to me like we are living in an isolated little town of our own making called Apathy-ville.

How did we get here?

If we take a candid look around us, it is obvious that we live in a consumer-driven, materialistic society. Advertisers bombard us with messages about how our lives can be so much better if we only had the latest gadget or toy. Additionally, over the last few years, we have seen unparalleled growth in the federal government and its subtle, but ever-growing influence over the economy, healthcare and education as well as moral issues such as abortion and marriage. It seems that so many of us have wrongly placed our faith in material things, the government and ourselves, instead of in Christ and His Church. Political correctness has seeped into our collective consciousness like a disease and made us fearful of saying and doing what is necessary to defend our faith and stand up for what is right and true. If we tolerate everything, it leads one to think that we likely stand for nothing. “I don’t want to offend” often translates into “I am not willing to defend.” As G.K. Chesterton once said, “Tolerance is the virtue of the man without convictions.”

They said it best

To stimulate more self-awareness and reflection on how we may have arrived in Apathy-ville, I have listed below some quotes which I hope will challenge all of us, make us question our actions and serve as a catalyst for different behaviors. Let’s be honest as we ask ourselves if any of these quotes apply to us.
  • “Everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father. But whoever denies me before others, I will deny before my heavenly Father.” (Matt 10:32-33)
  • “So, because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.” (Rev 3:16)
  • “For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine but, following their own desires and insatiable curiosity, will accumulate teachers and will stop listening to the truth and will be diverted to myths.” (2 Tim 4:3-4)
  • “Freedom consists not in doing what we like, but in having the right to do what we ought.” (Pope St. John Paul II)
  • “You cannot please both God and the world at the same time. They are utterly opposed to each other in their thoughts, their desires, and their actions.” (St. John Vianney)
  • “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.” (Pope St. John Paul II)
  • “Really, most of us live below the level of our energy. And in order to be happy, we have to do more. Now, we can do more, spiritually and every other way. . . so you see how important it is to have in the mind to do all that you can. To work to the limit of your ability. Our world is really suffering from indifference. Indifference is apathy, not caring. I wonder maybe if our Lord does not suffer more from our indifference, than he did from the Crucifixion.” (Venerable Fulton Sheen)

How do we respond? What can we do?

First of all, we can’t stand on the sidelines and watch. We also must believe that one person can make a difference! At times it seems we have lost our way and forgotten or ignored the teachings of the Church. Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia offers this insight which cuts to the heart of the matter in his excellent book, Render Unto Caesar (p.197): “What needs to be done by Catholics today for their country? The answer is: Don’t lie. If we say we’re Catholic, we need to prove it. America’s public life needs people willing to stand alone, without apologies, for the truth of the Catholic faith and the common human values it defends. One person can make a difference – if that individual has a faith he or she is willing to suffer for.” Are we willing to suffer for our faith? What sacrifices are we willing to make to follow the teachings of the Church?

Are there good examples for us to follow?

The good news is we have many examples to emulate, ranging from the numerous Pro-Life groups who pray outside abortion clinics to the Bishops who are challenging government leaders over the HHS Mandate, same-sex marriage and reforming our immigration laws. Some of the greatest examples may be our friends and neighbors who pray constantly for the Church in the quiet of their homes, who write letters to their government representatives and devote time before the Blessed Sacrament in prayer for the blessing of the Church and Pope Francis. There are also those who offer financial and personal support to those in critical need. Also, remember our Priests and the incredible job they do in serving their parishes. We clearly have examples to follow, but far too many of us have only been watching, tolerating and…turning away.

Two Important Things to Remember

Is simply being Catholic enough to motivate everyone to authentically embrace the responsibilities of our faith? One would hope so, but perhaps we need these additional reminders:
1. We all received the call to holiness at our Baptism.
“The call to holiness is rooted in Baptism and proposed anew in the other Sacraments, principally in the Eucharist. Since Christians are reclothed in Christ Jesus and refreshed by his Spirit, they are ‘holy’. They therefore have the ability to manifest this holiness and the responsibility to bear witness to it in all that they do. The apostle Paul never tires of admonishing all Christians to live ‘as is fitting among saints’ (Eph 5:3). (Pope St. John Paul II, Christifideles Laici 16)
2. We are made for Heaven, not this place.
”The big, blazing truth about man is that he has a heaven-sized hole in his heart, and nothing else can fill it. We pass our lives trying to fill the Grand Canyon with marbles. As St. Augustine said: ‘Thou hast made us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee.” (Peter Kreeft)
“We must always remind ourselves that we are pilgrims until we arrive at our heavenly homeland, and we must not let our affections delay us in the roadside inns and lands through which we pass, otherwise we will forget our destination and lose interest in our final goal.” (St. Ignatius of Loyola)
‎”I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country, which I shall not find till after death; I must never let it get snowed under or turned aside; I must make it the main object of life to press on to that other country and to help others to do the same.” (C.S. Lewis)
Please reflect carefully on these two points as we can clearly see how to conduct ourselves on our faith journeys (the call to holiness) and our final destination (Heaven). As Catholics, we are set apart and therefore not to allow ourselves to be assimilated into the surrounding culture. It requires courage, trials and often loneliness to walk this path, but we know what our final reward will be if we embrace our calling.