Thursday, April 30, 2015

Fr. Robert Barron: Who is Jesus?

Pope Francis: On Christian Traits of History and Service

(Vatican Radio) “History and service.” In his homily on Thursday morning, Pope Francis spoke about these “two traits of Christian identity.”

Beginning with “history,” Pope Francis said Saint Paul, Saint Peter, and the other disciples “did not proclaim a Jesus without a history: They proclaimed Jesus in the history of the people, a people God led through the centuries in order to arrive… at the fullness of time.” God enters into history and into the journey with His people:
“The Christian is a man or woman of history, because he does not pertain to himself alone – he is inserted into a people, a people that is on a journey. One cannot imagine a Christian selfishness, no, this won’t fly. The Christian is not a spiritual man or woman in a laboratory, [the Christian] is a spiritual man or woman inserted into a people, which has a long history and which continues to journey until the Lord returns.”
It is a “history of grace, but also a history of sin”:
“So many sinners, so many crimes! Today, Paul mentions King David, a saint – but before he became a saint, he was a great sinner. A great sinner. Our history must take up both saints and sinners. My own personal history, the history of each one of us, must take up our sin, our own proper sin, and the grace of the Lord that is with us, accompanying us in our sin in order to forgive and accompanying us in grace. There is no Christian identity without history.”
The second trait of Christian identity is service. “Jesus washes the feet of the disciples, inviting them to do as He has done: to serve”:
“Christian identity is service, not selfishness. ‘But Father, we are all selfish.’ Ah, really? It is a sin, a habit we have to break away from. Ask for forgiveness, that the Lord will convert us. We are called to service. Being Christian is not about appearance, or even about social conduct, it’s not a little make-up for the soul, because it should be a little more beautiful. To be Christian is to do what Jesus did: serve!”
Pope Francis called us to ask ourselves, “In my heart, what more can I do? Do I have other people serve me,  do I use others, the community, the parish, my family, my friends? Or do I serve, am I at the service of others?”

Pope Francis wants to visit Fatima in 2017

The following comes from the Catholic Herald:

Pope Francis plans to visit the Basilica of Our Lady of Fatima in 2017, on the 100th anniversary of the apparitions of the Virgin Mary to three children, according to the diocese in Portugal.
“Pope Francis confirmed to Bishop Antonio Marto that, ‘if God gives him life and health’, he wants to be in Cova di Iria to celebrate the centenary of the Apparitions of Fatima,” the diocese of Leiria-Fátima said in a press release.
Three shepherd children, Lucia dos Santos, Jacinta Marto and Francisco Marto, had a vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary on May 13 1917.
St John Paul II credited the Virgin Mary with saving his life when he was shot in 1981. He later placed the bullet in the crown of the statue of Our Lady of Fatima.

Pope Pius V: The holy pope who lived on vegetable broth and crayfish


The following comes from the Catholic Herald:

St Pius V, who excommunicated Queen Elizabeth, continued to live as a monk even after he became pope.

Pius V, pope from 1566 to 1572, was the kind of Counter Reformation pontiff dear to the hearts of Roman triumphalists. That he still freezes the blood of Protestants he would have regarded as a badge of honour.

Zealots, however, do not always apprehend the consequences of their actions. By excommunicating Queen Elizabeth in 1570, Pius V put paid to any chance that Catholicism might be tolerated in England. Even Philip II of Spain considered that the pope was mistaken in this matter.

Yet Pius V was certainly a holy man. Born in 1504 at Bosco, some 30 miles north of Genoa, Antonio Ghislieri came from an impoverished noble family. In boyhood he worked as a shepherd; at 14, he became a Dominican, adopting the name Michele.

After studying theology in Bologna and being ordained in Genoa, he taught theology in Pavia for 16 years. Appointed Inquisitor for Como and Bergamo, he made an impression with another hardliner, Cardinal Carafa. As Pope Paul IV (1555-59) Carafa made Michele Ghislieri a bishop (1556), a cardinal (1557) and “perpetual supreme Inquisitor” (1558).

Although Ghislieri’s severity raised some eyebrows he was elected pope in 1566 through the influence of Charles Borromeo, Archbishop of Milan.

As Pius V Ghislieri continued to live as a monk, wearing the coarse clothing of a friar under his papal robes and living mainly on vegetable broth and crayfish. He felt it his duty, moreover, to indulge in public exhibitions of piety, processing through the streets with head and feet bare.

Eager to make Rome a holy city in reality as well as in name he expelled prostitutes, banned bullfights and tried to restrict the use of taverns to visitors to the city. He also looked after the poor by distributing alms and food and by setting up interest-free loan banks.

In spiritual affairs Pius V fostered his own strong devotion to the Virgin Mary. He laboured to enforce the decrees of the Council of Trent, which he circulated abroad as far as Mexico, Goa and the Congo. To the same end he published the Roman Catechism (1566) and the revised Roman Breviary (1568).

The Roman Missal, issued in 1570, standardised the celebration of Mass. Any national and regional variations had to be warranted by an antiquity of at least 200 years.

Following the example of his mentor Paul IV Pius V continued to sharpen the powers of the Inquisition and eagerly persecuted anyone who showed the least deviation from orthodoxy. He also expelled Jews from the papal state, moderating his anti-Semitism only in favour of commercial advantage.

In 1571 Pius V achieved a triumph when the Spanish and Venetian coalition he had organised destroyed the Turkish fleet at the battle of Lepanto.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Nigerian Bishop Oliver Dashe Doeme: Rosary will defeat Boko Haram


A Nigerian bishop says that he has seen Christ in a vision and now knows that the rosary is the key to ridding the country of the Islamist terrorist organization Boko Haram.

Bishop Oliver Dashe Doeme says he is being driven by a God-given mandate to lead others in praying the rosary until the extremist group disappears.

“Towards the end of last year I was in my chapel before the Blessed Sacrament… praying the rosary, and then suddenly the Lord appeared,” Bishop Dashe told CNA April 18.

In the vision, the prelate said, Jesus didn’t say anything at first, but extended a sword toward him, and he in turn reached out for it.

“As soon as I received the sword, it turned into a rosary,” the bishop said, adding that Jesus then told him three times: “Boko Haram is gone.”

“I didn’t need any prophet to give me the explanation,” he said. “It was clear that with the rosary we would be able to expel Boko Haram.”

The bishop said he didn’t want to tell anyone, but “felt that the Holy Spirit was pushing him to do so.”

He started with the priests of his diocese, and then told participants in the April 17-19 #WeAreN2015 congress in Madrid, Spain. The event is being sponsored by the Spanish Catholic sister groups hazteoir.org and CitizenGo to gather ideas on how to preserve the Christian presence in nations where they are most persecuted.

Bishop Dashe leads the Diocese of Maiduguri, in northeastern Nigeria's Borno State. In 2009, there were around 125,000 Catholics under his guidance. After a surge in violence from the Islamist extremist group called Boko Haram, today “there are only 50 to 60 thousand left,” he said.

Most of those who fled sought safer areas in other parts of Nigeria, he said. Some of the same families are now returning home as armed forces from Nigeria, Chad and Cameroon liberate their homes.

In 2014, Boko Haram became known worldwide when members kidnapped nearly 300 girls from a school in Borno State. On March 7, 2015, five suicide bombers killed 54 and wounded nearly three times as many in the capital city of Maidaguri, where the bishop lives and works.

The group has killed 1,000 people across Nigeria in the first three months of 2015, according to Human Rights Watch, which reports that more than 6,000 have died in Boko Haram-led violence since 2009.

Just last month, the group pledged its allegiance to ISIS – also known as the Islamic State – which launched a bloody campaign in Iraq and Syria last summer.

Meanwhile, Bishop Dashe has just completed a “consolation tour” to communities in his diocese, promoting forgiveness and continued faith. He believes he was asked by Jesus to spread devotion to the rosary in order to aid them as they do so.

“Maybe that’s why he did it,” said the bishop, referring to Jesus in his vision.

Bishop Dashe said he has a strong devotion to Christ’s mother, and that “I never joke with ‘Mamma Mary.’ I know she is here with us.”

And he is not the only Nigerian bishop putting the future of the country in the hands of Mary. The nation’s bishops’ conference has consecrated the country to her twice in recent years.

Bishop Dashe believes that one day his diocese will completely recover and grow thanks to her intercession.

“These terrorists… think that by burning our churches, burning our structures, they will destroy Christanity. Never,” Bishop Dashe told several hundred people from the dais of the #WeAreN2015 congress.

“It may take a few months or a few years … but ‘Boko Haram is gone.’”

He later told CNA that “prayer, particularly the prayer of the rosary, is (what) will deliver us from the claws of this demon, the demon of terrorism. And of course, it is working.”

Why would God create someone knowing they would go to hell?

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Christus Factus Est by Monks of Stift Heiligenkreuz

Pope Francis: humble prayer is key to discernment

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis said Mass on Tuesday morning in the chapel of the Santa Marta residence in the Vatican. Speaking to the congregation following the readings of the day, the Holy Father focused on the pilgrim journey of the Church through history under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Reflecting on the preaching of the Gospel to all nations, narrated in the Acts of the Apostles, the Pope pointed to the need – even and especially today – for Apostolic courage, in order that Christian life not become a “museum of memories.” He noted how many at the time of the events narrated in the book of Acts were troubled to hear the gospel was preached to non-Jews, though Barnabas in Antioch – the reading tells us – is happy to see and understand that the conversions of Pagans there are the work of God.

Do not be afraid of the God of surprises

Pope Francis went on to say how the preaching of salvation to all nations was something prophesied in chapter 60 of Isaiah, though many did not understand the saying:

“They did not understand. They did not understand that God is the God of all things new: ‘I make everything new,’ Our Lord tells us – he tells us that the Holy Spirit has come for this, to renew [all things] – and continually does this work of renewal. This makes some people afraid. In the history of the Church from [Apostolic times] down to the present, how many fears there have been in the face of the Holy Spirit’s surprises. He is the God of surprises.”

Pope Francis went on to discuss the proper attitude and way of distinguishing those novelties, which are of God, from those, which are not. Using the cases of Barnabas and Peter, of whom it is said that both were full of the Holy Spirit, the Holy Father said, “In both of them it is the Holy Spirit who makes us see the truth: on our own we simply cannot; with our intelligence, we cannot.” He went on to say, “We can study the whole history of salvation, we can study the whole of Theology, but without the Spirit we cannot understand. It is the Spirit that makes us realize the truth or – in the words of Our Lord – it is the Spirit that makes us know the voice of Jesus.” Jesus, the Good Pastor, says, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them and they follow me.”

The Church moves forward with the newness of the Holy Spirit

“The progress of the Church,” said Pope Francis, “is the work of the Holy Spirit,” which makes us listen to the voice of the Lord. “How can I make sure that voice I hear is the voice of Jesus,” asked Pope Francis, “that what I feel I have to do is done by the Holy Spirit?” The answer is by praying:

“Without prayer, there is no place for the Spirit. Ask God to send us this gift: ‘Lord, give us the Holy Spirit so that we may discern at all times what we have to do,’ which is not always one and the same thing. The message is the same: the Church goes on, the Church goes ahead with these surprises, with these changes of the Holy Spirit. We must discern, and to discern must pray, we must ask this grace. Barnabas was full of the Holy Spirit and he knew right away. Peter saw it and said, ‘But who am I to deny Baptism here?’ The Holy Spirit does not lead us into error. ‘But, Father, why make things so complicated? Let us do things the way we have always done, that way we are safer ...’”

The Christian life is not a museum of memories

Pope Francis went on to urge that doing things the way we’ve always done them, simply because “that’s the way we’ve always done them,” is a deadly attitude. He encouraged the faithful, “To risk, with prayer, and then, with the humility to accept what the Spirit,” asks us to change. “This is the way,” he said:

“The Lord told us that if we eat his body and drink his blood, we will have life. Now we continue this celebration, with this word: ‘Lord, You who are here with us in the Eucharist, You, who shall be within us, give us the grace of the Holy Spirit. Give us the grace not to be afraid when the Spirit, with surety, tells me to take a step forward.’ In this Mass, ask this courage, this apostolic courage to bring life and not make of our Christian life a museum of memories.”


Saint of the Day: Louis-Marie de Monfort


The following comes from Catholic Online:

Confessor, Marian devotee, and founder of the Sisters of Divine Wisdom He was born Louis Maie Grignon in Montfort, France, in 1673. Educated at Rennes, he was ordained there in 1700, becoming a chaplain in a hospital in Poitiers. His congregation, also called the Daughters of Divine Wisdom, started there. As his missions and sermons raised complaints, Louis went to Rome, where Pope Clement XI appointed him as a missionary apostolic. Louis is famous for fostering devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Rosary. In 1715, he also founded the Missionaries of the Company of Mary. His True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin remains popular. Louis died at Saint-Laurent-sur-Sevre. He was canonized in 1947.

St. Gianna Molla

St. Gianna Molla - World Meeting of Families 2015 from saltandlighttv on Vimeo.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Landscapes


Landscapes: Volume Two from Dustin Farrell on Vimeo.

The Spirit of Contemplation

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Our Lady of Good Counsel


The following comes from the Patron Saints Index:

Records dating from the reign of Paul II relate that the picture of Our Lady, at first called La Madonna del Paradiso and now better known as Madonna del Buon Consiglio, appeared at Genazzano, Italy, a town about twenty-five miles southeast of Rome, on 25 April 1467, in the old church of Santa Maria, which had been under the care of Augustinians since 1356. The venerated icon itself, which is drawn on a thin scale of wall-plaster little thicker than a visiting-card, was observed to hang suspended in the air without support; early tradition says that one could pass a thread around the image without touching it. Devotion to Our Lady in Santa Maria sprang up at once. Pilgrims began to pour in, miracles began and continue at the shrine.

In July 1467, Pope Paul deputed two bishops to investigate the alleged wonder-working image; no copy of their report is known to have survived. Devotion to Our Lady increased. In 1630, Pope Urban VIII made a pilgrimage to Genazzano, as did Pope Blessed Pius IX in 1864. On 17 November 1682 Pope Blessed Innocent XI had the picture crowned with gold by the Vatican Basilica. In 1727 Pope Benedict XIII granted the clergy of Genazzano an Office and Mass of Our Lady for 25 April, the anniversary of the apparition, elsewhere the feast being kept a day later so as not to conflict with that of Saint Mark the Evangelist. On 2 July 1753 Pope Benedict XIV approved the Pious Union of Our Lady of Good Counsel for the faithful at large, and himself enrolled therein as its pioneer member; Pope Pius IX and Pope Leo XIII were both later members. On 18 December 1779, Pope Pius VI, while re-approving devotion to Our Lady, granted all Augustinians an Office with hymns, lessons, prayer and Mass proper of double-major rite; with a plenary indulgence also for the faithful, to which Pope Pius VIII added another for visitors to the shrine. On 18 December 1884, Pope Leo XIII approved of a new Office and Mass of second-class rite for all Augustinians, while on 17 March 1903, he elevated the church of Santa Maria - one of the four parish churches in tiny Genazzano - to the rank of minor basilica. On 22 April 1903 he authorized the insertion in the Litany of Loreto of the invocation Mater Boni Consillii to follow that of Mater Admirabilis. The same pontiff on 21 December 1893 had sanctioned the use of the White Scapular of Our Lady of Good Counsel for the faithful.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Oh My God / I Am A Seed by The Digital Age

Beauty Will Save the World

The following comes from Crisis:

A popular quote we often hear but find hard to understand is “beauty will save the world.” How will beauty save the world? The line comes from Dostoevsky’s novel, The Idiot, attributed to the main character, Prince Myskin. The prince, an epileptic Russian nobleman, serves as a Christ-like figure, who stands apart for his innocence and even naiveté. Out of the mouth of this idiot comes a clearer vision of beauty and reality than those around him, his clarity heightened even in the midst of his sickness.
The saving power of beauty in the prince’s life could not overcome his sickness, but nonetheless illumined his vision: “What matter though it be only disease, an abnormal tension of the brain, if when I recall and analyze the moment, it seems to have been one of harmony and beauty in the highest degree—an instant of deepest sensation, overflowing with unbounded joy and rapture, ecstatic devotion, and completest life?” In the midst of his suffering, he glimpsed, though in a paradoxical manner, the heart of reality.
Are the prince’s words on beauty the words of a mad idiot or of a prophet?
In Solzhenitsyn’s Noble lecture, he notes that after dismissing the quote for years, he realized that “Dostoevsky’s remark, ‘Beauty will save the world,’ was not a careless phrase but a prophecy. After allhe was granted to see much, a man of fantastic illumination. And in that case art, literature might really be able to help the world today?”
If that is not enough, Pope John Paul II quoted the line in his Letter to Artists, under the heading “The Saving Power of Beauty”:
People of today and tomorrow need this enthusiasm [of wonder] if they are to meet and master the crucial challenges which stand before us. Thanks to this enthusiasm, humanity, every time it loses its way, will be able to lift itself up and set out again on the right path. In this sense it has been said with profound insight that “beauty will save the world” (§16).
Can the words of an idiot set the tone for our response to the modern world? In a mad world, maybe only the idiot is sane. It seems we can and even must trust him, now that the words of an idiot have become the words of a Pope!
Upon reading Pope Francis’s first encyclical, Lumen Fidei, I was struck most of all by its literary quality. The encyclical does not offer much theological innovation, but is remarkable for its engagement of culture: classical, medieval, and above all contemporary. It seems to follow Dostoevsky’s vision for the power of beauty. In our world that has largely rejected the ability of reason to know the truth and the moral order toward the good, is it a privileged moment for beauty? The encyclical seems to point to this reality, using literature and art to underscore its points.
Pope Benedict XVI, the primary drafter of Lumen Fidei, emphasized the absolutely essential role of beauty in human life in his “Meeting with Artists.” Guess who he turned to for support?
Dostoevsky’s words that I am about to quote are bold and paradoxical, but they invite reflection. He says this: “Man can live without science, he can live without bread, but without beauty he could no longer live, because there would no longer be anything to do to the world. The whole secret is here, the whole of history is here” (quoting from the novel, Demons).
Is it not clear that we are missing this key element of human life? And if we are, what does this mean for the life of faith?
Lumen Fidei does not explicitly draw out the significance of beauty for the light of the faith. Rather, it is demonstrated by the style of the encyclical itself. Once again, Dostoevsky makes a crucial appearance:
In Dostoevsky’s The Idiot, Prince Myskin sees a painting by Hans Holbein the Younger depicting Christ dead in the tomb and says: “Looking at that painting might cause one to lose his faith.” The painting is a gruesome portrayal of the destructive effects of death on Christ’s body. Yet it is precisely in contemplating Jesus’ death that faith grows stronger and receives a dazzling light; then it is revealed as faith in Christ’s steadfast love for us, a love capable of embracing death to bring us salvation. This love, which did not recoil before death in order to show its depth, is something I can believe in; Christ’s total self-gift overcomes every suspicion and enables me to entrust myself to him completely (§16).
This quote is significant in relation to Dostoevsky’s vision of beauty for a number of reasons. Like “beauty will save the world,” it comes from The Idiot and refers to Prince Myskin. Second, it points to a central theme of the novel, the struggle with beauty, physically and spiritually, in the midst of suffering. Third, this struggle and tension between physical and spiritual beauty becomes a central motif in the engagement of modern culture. In the midst of sickness, how can one perceive beauty clearly? Beauty should be a path to truth, and thus faith, but the modern world itself is disfigured and trapped in darkness. It has a kind of spiritual epilepsy, an internal, maddening sickness, which, unlike for Myskin, impairs the perception of true beauty.
Looking back to Benedict’s vision, we can see how beauty itself is luminous. The light of beauty is meant to illuminate the path toward the light of faith. In Benedict’s “Meeting with Artists,” we see both the darkness of the modern eclipse of beauty and true beauty’s ability to lead to sight:
Too often, though, the beauty that is thrust upon us is illusory and deceitful, superficial and blinding, leaving the onlooker dazed; instead of bringing him out of himself and opening him up to horizons of true freedom as it draws him aloft, it imprisons him within himself and further enslaves him, depriving him of hope and joy…. Authentic beauty, however, unlocks the yearning of the human heart, the profound desire to know, to love, to go towards the Other, to reach for the Beyond. If we acknowledge that beauty touches us intimately, that it wounds us, that it opens our eyes, then we rediscover the joy of seeing, of being able to grasp the profound meaning of our existence.
Literary and artistic references in Lumen Fidei show just this twofold engagement with beauty. The encyclical quotes Nietzsche, Rousseau, and Wittgenstein to demonstrate how illusory beauty focused on the self (finding one’s own way) traps within subjective experience. In this false beauty, there is no motion beyond the self to the true and the good, but rather a truncation and darkening isolation. True beauty is also employed in the encyclical to show that the light of beauty sheds its rays toward the true and the good. The poetry of Dante and T.S. Eliot are used to provide images of the light of faith and of faith’s role in society respectively.
The fight for beauty is a true battleground of the soul and intimately linked to the crisis of faith. Dostoevsky himself indicates this in his masterpiece, The Brothers Karamazov: “The awful thing is that beauty is mysterious as well as terrible. God and the devil are fighting there and the battlefield is the heart of man.” What appears as beautiful may not be, and what appears terrible, such as the corpse of Christ, may indicate true beauty. Dostoevsky manifests this tension by placing his prophet of beauty in the midst of suffering and even insanity.
For good or ill, beauty has power. This power can be used to illumine the path toward the truth and goodness, or to pull one down in the vain pursuit of self. If beauty does not point toward the true and the good, it becomes a darkness, a turning inward. Another line from The Idiot reveals this ambiguous power of beauty: “Such beauty is real power…. With such beauty as that one might overthrow the world.” This beauty is the beauty of a woman, which may have such power (think of Troy), but when beauty sheds its light in the right direction, it should save the world, not overthrow it!
Francis and Benedict chose the line from The Idiot on Holbein’s painting for a reason. It is precisely in its realistic portrayal of suffering that it arrests and challenges the characters in the novel. This realism can be a scandal, but also an opportunity. As we contemplate our own disfigurement in the modern world, we have the same dilemma. We must overcome the darkness imposed by illusory beauty, along with the spiritual disfigurement it has created. Maybe our perception of beauty must begin with a more genuine experience of suffering. In contemplating the suffering of Christ, in particular, we see a beauty which took on our infirmities and overcame their darkness. It is a challenging beauty, but a powerful one—with power to transform our own suffering and lack of beauty. It is a beauty that shakes us to the core, which illuminates us, and ultimately is the beauty that will save the world.

Saint of the day: Mark the Evangelist


The following comes from Canterbury Tales:

 Saint Mark, the author of the Second Gospel of Our Lord is the same as "John Mark" who led to identifying him as the man who carried water to the house where the Last Supper took place (Mark 14:13). He may also have been the young man who ran away naked when Jesus was arrested (Mark 14:51-52). Saint Hippolytus states that Saint Mark was one of the Seventy Disciples sent out by Christ (Luke 10:1). The Cenacle was owned by the mother of Saint Mark. The Cenacle is the place of the Last Supper, the first resurrection appearance of Christ to the Apostles and the descent of the Holy Ghost on Pentecost. According to tradition, Saint Mark was born in Cyrene in North Africa (modern day Libya). Saint Mark returned to Pentapolis later in life, after being sent by Saint Paul to Colossae (Colossians 4:10; Philemon 24 refer to Mark the Cousin of Barnabas), and serving with him in Rome (2 Tim 4:11); from Pentapolis he made his way to Alexandria where he became the first bishop of Alexandria. To this day, the Patriarch of Alexandria is the "Successor of Saint Mark". When Mark returned to Alexandria, the idolators of the city resented his efforts to turn the Alexandrians away from the worship of their traditional gods. In AD 68 they placed a rope around his neck and dragged him through the streets until he was dead. His relics were kept in Egypt until they were transferred to Venice where they are venerated till this day.

Friday, April 24, 2015

A Prayer of Abandonment by Blessed Charles de Foucauld

The Prayer of Abandonment by Brother Charles of Jesus

Father, I abandon myself into Your hands;
do with me what You will.
Whatever You do I thank You.
I am ready for all, I accept all.
Let only Your will be done in me,
as in all Your creatures,
I ask no more than this, my Lord.
Into Your hands I commend my soul;
I offer it to You, O Lord,
with all the love of my heart,
for I love You, my God, and so need to give myself--
to surrender myself into Your hands,
without reserve and with total confidence,
for You are my Father.

Catholic Answers: How did the Old Testament canon develop?

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Oceans by Hillsong United

The Priority of the Interior Life

The following comes from the Catholic Exchange:
There is nothing so important in the supernatural order as to have a deep, intense interior life. This is so, because at times we run into the error of subordinating the interior life to the practice of the virtues, as if our contact with God were only a means to perfect ourselves.
The case is not thus. There is no doubt that prayer and all the other acts of the interior life have an efficacious in­fluence on the acquisition of the virtues. From our rela­tion with God, we draw the strength wherewith to repel temptations, self-knowledge whereby to be humble, sweet­ess of temper wherewith to treat with our neighbors, and the light and the strength with which to practice all the other virtues. Even more can be said, for one may be sure that the virtues which do not have their roots in the inte­rior life are neither solid nor deep.
But this does not mean to say that we approach God solely to acquire virtues. On the contrary, the active life and all the virtues we must practice with respect to our neighbor and to ourselves, more than being the reward of our efforts, are the means whereby to achieve the contemplative life, the perfect interior life. In other words, the contemplative life is not a means or a ladder whereby to arrive at the active life. On the contrary, we work, we struggle, we sacrifice ourselves in order to love God, in or­der to have intimate and loving relations with Him. The true spiritual life consists in our relations with God. Rela­tions with our neighbor and even with ourselves are some­thing secondary; either they are ordinated to achieve the interior life, or they overflow from it.
But the central point of the spiritual life is the contem­plative life. Why? Because it is for this that God made us. He made us for Himself, that we might know Him, love Him, and serve Him. Hence, if we sacrifice ourselves to achieve a betterment of our life and conduct, it is solely that we may render ourselves worthy to have communion with God. Thus, our interior life is the summit, the ideal, the goal toward which all our efforts ought to converge.

Saint of the day: George


The following comes from the Women of Faith and Family:

We need a patron of chivalry, a hero saint who will show us an example of how to defend the Church, protect the poor and vulnerable, and meet martyrdom with courage.  In these days when being an active and committed Catholic means standing against many of the everyday ideas and assumptions prevalent in our communities, we need a champion  of  personal valour, of standing up to be counted,  a person who will show us what it is to exert true Christian leadership.



Enter Saint George.  He was a soldier in the early years of the 4th century, serving in the Roman Army.  His ruler was the Emperor Diocletian.  George was a Tribune -- a rank about equivalent to today's Colonel. He was also a Christian, and, for several years, this apparently posed no problem. At this point there were several Christian communities within the Roman world. Christians were beginning to make their influence felt and as they were good citizens, honest, trustworthy, and loyal, they were more than tolerated by the Empires rulers.

But Diocletian grew envious. Where once he had been content with the loyalty of his subjects in temporal matters, now he wanted more. He sought the loyalty of their minds and souls. When this was not forthcoming, he grew savage. An edict against Christians was drawn up and copies posted in public places. George, as a leading citizen, took responsibility for tearing down the one in his locality -- an open act of defiance against an unjust law. He was arrested, tortured, and eventually martyred. He died on April 23rd, 404, which that year happened to be Good Friday.  It is said that red roses bloomed on his grave.

All these events took place in the territory we today call the Middle East, then part of the Roman Empire. The story of George's valor spread across the Christian world. We know that there were churches in Europe dedicated to him at an early date, including a couple in Britain, the land where he was later to become a popular saint. But what really made him famous were the events of several centuries later -- the Crusades.  English soldiers fighting in the Middle East learned about this soldier-saint and were impressed. His courage spoke to them. He was one of their own. This was a saint they could value and understand.

They took back his story to England -- as other soldiers were taking it back to their lands across what was then Christendom. His story became identified with their own -- the red cross on a white background that marked the crusader.

In England, Saint George became patron saint of an order of chivalry -- the Order of the Garter. To this day, this is still conferred by the Sovereign in honor of God, Our Lady, and Saint George on those deemed to have served their country in some outstanding way.

Catholics in England have long honored Saint George. As with other saints, he was somewhat downplayed at the Reformation. But English Catholics continued to honor him.  They were persecuted for their faith for years after the Reformation and unable to attend Mass openly or teach their Faith publicly to their children.  No wonder a hero martyr saint appealed to them.

When, finally, some freedom was granted, one of the first Catholic churches to be built in London was dedicated to Saint George. Today, its successor still stands in Southwark, on the south bank of the Thames -- Saint George's Cathedral.   It has seen many major events -- from a tragic bombing in 1941, which destroyed the original Pugin building (the cathedral was rebuilt in the 1950s) to a Papal visit in 1982 when Pope John Paul II met and blessed thousands of sick people who had been gathered there to greet him in a massive national pilgrimage.

Saint George's continues to thrive: it now serves a very multi-racial area, and its liturgy includes a robed choir who sing a beautiful Latin Mass each Sunday, which is well attended by a mixed congregation proud of their church and of their Faith.

This year, a team of Catholic publishers and representatives from major Catholic organizations from across Britain will be holding a national Catholic Book Fair on the Saturday nearest to Saint George's Day as part of the Saint George's Day celebrations.

We need Saint George today. We need his example of courage. Legend says he slew a dragon -- or, in some versions of the story, that he tamed it and brought it to the service of the Christian community. In this latter version, the dragon is seen as the pagan Roman Empire, which eventually came to be subdued by the Church.

Saint George was a manly saint -- a hero, a soldier, someone who knew he must use his strength and courage in the service of what is right. A martyr's life is a paradox: through death he brings life to the Church. What seems to be a failure ends in glory.  Because of Saint George's sacrifice, the Faith survived to be passed on to countless people in lands he never even knew existed. If we met him today -- if our young Christian men, who so badly need heroes, met him -- we would know that we shared the same Catholic Faith and in the Sign of the Cross we would be in unity. May we beg through his intercession in Heaven that we may have something of his courage.

Saint George, pray for us!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

All Rise (Jesus, Majesty) by The Digital Age

Catholicism: The Mystical Union of Christ with His Church


Archbishop Sheen on Fatima

This video is classic Archbishop Sheen! It takes about 20 minutes to watch all three parts, but it is worth it! We need to pray for another Fulton Sheen for our times!


St. Peter Eymard on Prayer


“In your prayer, seek to nourish yourself on God, rather than...humbling yourself. To do this: nourish your mind with the truth personified in God’s goodness towards you...his personal love; here is the secret of true prayer. See the action and mind of God IN HIS LOVE FOR YOU! Then, in wonder, your soul will cry out... ‘How good you are my God. What can I do for you? What will please you?’ There is the fire of the furnace."


St. Peter Eymard 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Message of Divine Mercy

Mountain Light


Timescapes Timelapse: Mountain Light from Tom Lowe @ Timescapes on Vimeo.

Pope Francis: The Church today is a Church of martyrs

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis today said that “ours is a Church of martyrs”. 
Speaking during morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta the Pope recalled the many Christians who are currently being persecuted and killed for their faith.

Drawing inspiration from the First Reading of the Act of the Apostles which tells of the stoning and martyrdom of Stephen, the first Christian martyr, the Pope remembered “our brothers whose throats have been slit on the beaches of Libya”, he spoke of “the young boy who was burnt alive by his companions because he was Christian”, he recalled “the migrants who were thrown from their boat into open sea” because, they too, were Christians.

Martyrs – Pope Francis said – do not need “other bread”, their only bread is Jesus, and Stephen – he explained – did not have the need to negotiate or find a compromise with those who put him to death.

And reflecting on the reading the Pope pointed out that Stephen’s witness was such that his persecutors ‘covered their ears and rushed upon him together.’

Just like Jesus – he explained – Stephen had to deal with false witnesses and the anger of the people. Stephen – he said – reminded the elders and the scribes that their ancestors had persecuted other prophets for having been true to God’s Word, and when he described his vision of the heavens opening “and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God” they did not want to listen but threw him out of the city and began to stone him:

“God’s Word is always rejected by some. God’s Word is inconvenient when you have a stone heart, when you have a pagan heart, because God’s Word asks you to go ahead trying to satisfy your hunger with the bread which Jesus spoke of. In the history of the Revelation many martyrs have been killed for their faith and loyalty towards God’s Word, God’s Truth”.

Pope Francis continued comparing the martyrdom of Stephen to that of Jesus: he too “died with that Christian magnanimity of forgiveness, praying for his enemies’.

And those who persecuted the prophets - the Pope pointed out – believed they were giving glory to God; they thought they were being true to God’s doctrine.

“Today – the Pope said – I would like to remember that the true history of the Church is that of the Saints and the martyrs,” of so many who were persecuted and killed by those who thought they possessed the ‘truth’- whose heart was corrupted by ‘truth’:

“In these days how many Stephens there are in the world! Let us think of our brothers whose throats were slit on the beach in Libya; let’s think of the young boy who was burnt alive by his companions because he was a Christian; let us think of those migrants thrown from their boat into the open sea by other migrants because they were Christians; let us think – just the day before yesterday – of those Ethiopians assassinated because they were Christians… and of many others. Many others of whom we do not even know and who are suffering in jails because they are Christians… The Church today is a Church of martyrs: they suffer, they give their lives and we receive the blessing of God for their witness”.

The Pope also pointed out that there are also many “hidden martyrs: those men and women who are faithful to the voice of the Spirit and who are searching for new ways and paths to help their brothers better love God”.

He said they are often viewed with suspicion, vilified and persecuted by so many modern ‘Sanhedrins’ who think they are the possessors of truth.

A Quote from St. Catherine of Siena

I would have you know that every good, whether perfect or imperfect, is acquired and made manifest in me. And it is acquired and made manifest by means of your neighbor. Even simple folk know this, for they often love others with a spiritual love. If you have received my love sincerely without self-interest, you will drink your neighbor’s love sincerely. It is just like a vessel that you fill at the fountain. If you take it out of the fountain to drink, the vessel is soon empty. But if you hold your vessel in the fountain while you drink, it will not get empty: Indeed, it will always be full. So the love of your neighbor, whether spiritual or temporal, is meant to be drunk in me, without any self-interest.  

St. Catherine of Siena (The Dialogue)

Monday, April 20, 2015

Pope Benedict XVI's First Homily as Pope

Following is the complete text of the first message of Pope Benedict XVI which he delivered in Latin at the end of Wednesday morning's Mass with the members of the College of Cardinals in the Sistine Chapel. 

“Grace and peace in abundance to all of you! In my soul there are two contrasting sentiments in these hours. On the one hand, a sense of inadequacy and human turmoil for the responsibility entrusted to me yesterday as the Successor of the Apostle Peter in this See of Rome, with regard to the Universal Church. On the other hand I sense within me profound gratitude to God Who - as the liturgy makes us sing - does not abandon His flock, but leads it throughout time, under the guidance of those whom He has chosen as vicars of His Son, and made pastors.

Dear Ones, this intimate recognition for a gift of divine mercy prevails in my heart in spite of everything. I consider this a grace obtained for me by my venerated predecessor, John Paul II. It seems I can feel his strong hand squeezing mine; I seem to see his smiling eyes and listen to his words, addressed to me especially at this moment: 'Do not be afraid!'

The death of the Holy Father John Paul II, and the days which followed, were for the Church and for the entire world an extraordinary time of grace. The great pain for his death and the void that it left in all of us were tempered by the action of the Risen Christ, which showed itself during long days in the choral wave of faith, love and spiritual solidarity, culminating in his solemn funeral.

We can say it: the funeral of John Paul II was a truly extraordinary experience in which was perceived in some way the power of God Who, through His Church, wishes to form a great family of all peoples, through the unifying force of Truth and Love. In the hour of death, conformed to his Master and Lord, John Paul II crowned his long and fruitful pontificate, confirming the Christian people in faith, gathering them around him and making the entire human family feel more united.

How can one not feel sustained by this witness? How can one not feel the encouragement that comes from this event of grace?

Surprising every prevision I had, Divine Providence, through the will of the venerable Cardinal Fathers, called me to succeed this great Pope. I have been thinking in these hours about what happened in the region of Cesarea of Phillippi two thousand years ago: I seem to hear the words of Peter: 'You are Christ, the Son of the living God,' and the solemn affirmation of the Lord: 'You are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church ... I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven'.

You are Christ! You are Peter! It seems I am reliving this very Gospel scene; I, the Successor of Peter, repeat with trepidation the anxious words of the fisherman from Galilee and I listen again with intimate emotion to the reassuring promise of the divine Master. If the weight of the responsibility that now lies on my poor shoulders is enormous, the divine power on which I can count is surely immeasurable: 'You are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church'. Electing me as the Bishop of Rome, the Lord wanted me as his Vicar, he wished me to be the 'rock' upon which everyone may rest with confidence. I ask him to make up for the poverty of my strength, that I may be a courageous and faithful pastor of His flock, always docile to the inspirations of His Spirit.

I undertake this special ministry, the 'Petrine' ministry at the service of the Universal Church, with humble abandon to the hands of the Providence of God. And it is to Christ in the first place that I renew my total and trustworthy adhesion: 'In Te, Domine, speravi; non confundar in aeternum!'

To you, Lord Cardinals, with a grateful soul for the trust shown me, I ask you to sustain me with prayer and with constant, active and wise collaboration. I also ask my brothers in the episcopacy to be close to me in prayer and counsel so that I may truly be the 'Servus servorum Dei' (Servant of the servants of God). As Peter and the other Apostles were, through the will of the Lord, one apostolic college, in the same way the Successor of Peter and the Bishops, successors of the Apostles - and the Council forcefully repeated this - must be closely united among themselves. This collegial communion, even in the diversity of roles and functions of the Supreme Pontiff and the bishops, is at the service of the Church and the unity of faith, from which depend in a notable measure the effectiveness of the evangelizing action of the contemporary world. Thus, this path, upon which my venerated predecessors went forward, I too intend to follow, concerned solely with proclaiming to the world the living presence of Christ.

Before my eyes is, in particular, the witness of Pope John Paul II. He leaves us a Church that is more courageous, freer, younger. A Church that, according to his teaching and example, looks with serenity to the past and is not afraid of the future. With the Great Jubilee the Church was introduced into the new millennium carrying in her hands the Gospel, applied to the world through the authoritative re-reading of Vatican Council II. Pope John Paul II justly indicated the Council as a 'compass' with which to orient ourselves in the vast ocean of the third millennium. Also in his spiritual testament he noted: ' I am convinced that for a very long time the new generations will draw upon the riches that this council of the 20th century gave us'.

I too, as I start in the service that is proper to the Successor of Peter, wish to affirm with force my decided will to pursue the commitment to enact Vatican Council II, in the wake of my predecessors and in faithful continuity with the millennia-old tradition of the Church. Precisely this year is the 40th anniversary of the conclusion of this conciliar assembly (December 8, 1965). With the passing of time, the conciliar documents have not lost their timeliness; their teachings have shown themselves to be especially pertinent to the new exigencies of the Church and the present globalized society.

In a very significant way, my pontificate starts as the Church is living the special year dedicated to the Eucharist. How can I not see in this providential coincidence an element that must mark the ministry to which I have been called? The Eucharist, the heart of Christian life and the source of the evangelizing mission of the Church, cannot but be the permanent center and the source of the petrine service entrusted to me. 

The Eucharist makes the Risen Christ constantly present, Christ Who continues to give Himself to us, calling us to participate in the banquet of His Body and His Blood. From this full communion with Him comes every other element of the life of the Church, in the first place the communion among the faithful, the commitment to proclaim and give witness to the Gospel, the ardor of charity towards all, especially towards the poor and the smallest.

In this year, therefore, the Solemnity of Corpus Christ must be celebrated in a particularly special way. The Eucharist will be at the center, in August, of World Youth Day in Cologne and, in October, of the ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops which will take place on the theme "The Eucharist, Source and Summit of the Life and Mission of the Church.' I ask everyone to intensify in coming months love and devotion to the Eucharistic Jesus and to express in a courageous and clear way the real presence of the Lord, above all through the solemnity and the correctness of the celebrations.

I ask this in a special way of priests, about whom I am thinking in this moment with great affection. The priestly ministry was born in the Cenacle, together with the Eucharist, as my venerated predecessor John Paul II underlined so many times. 'The priestly life must have in a special way a 'Eucharistic form', he wrote in his last Letter for Holy Thursday. The devout daily celebration of Holy Mass, the center of the life and mission of every priest, contributes to this end.

Nourished and sustained by the Eucharist, Catholics cannot but feel stimulated to tend towards that full unity for which Christ hoped in the Cenacle. Peter's Successor knows that he must take on this supreme desire of the Divine Master in a particularly special way. To him, indeed, has been entrusted the duty of strengthening his brethren.

Thus, in full awareness and at the beginning of his ministry in the Church of Rome that Peter bathed with his blood, the current Successor assumes as his primary commitment that of working tirelessly towards the reconstitution of the full and visible unity of all Christ's followers. This is his ambition, this is his compelling duty. He is aware that to do so, expressions of good feelings are not enough. Concrete gestures are required to penetrate souls and move consciences, encouraging everyone to that interior conversion which is the basis for all progress on the road of ecumenism.

Theological dialogue is necessary. A profound examination of the historical reasons behind past choices is also indispensable. But even more urgent is that 'purification of memory,' which was so often evoked by John Paul II, and which alone can dispose souls to welcome the full truth of Christ. It is before Him, supreme Judge of all living things, that each of us must stand, in the awareness that one day we must explain to Him what we did and what we did not do for the great good that is the full and visible unity of all His disciples.

The current Successor of Peter feels himself to be personally implicated in this question and is disposed to do all in his power to promote the fundamental cause of ecumenism. In the wake of his predecessors, he is fully determined to cultivate any initiative that may seem appropriate to promote contact and agreement with representatives from the various Churches and ecclesial communities. Indeed, on this occasion too, he sends them his most cordial greetings in Christ, the one Lord of all.

In this moment, I go back in my memory to the unforgettable experience we all underwent with the death and the funeral of the lamented John Paul II. Around his mortal remains, lying on the bare earth, leaders of nations gathered, with people from all social classes and especially the young, in an unforgettable embrace of affection and admiration. The entire world looked to him with trust. To many it seemed as if that intense participation, amplified to the confines of the planet by the social communications media, was like a choral request for help addressed to the Pope by modern humanity which, wracked by fear and uncertainty, questions itself about the future.

The Church today must revive within herself an awareness of the task to present the world again with the voice of the One Who said: 'I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life.' In undertaking his ministry, the new Pope knows that his task is to bring the light of Christ to shine before the men and women of today: not his own light but that of Christ. 


Read the rest here.

Pope Francis: God never tires of forgiving us!

“How good it feels to come back to him whenever we are lost! Let me say this once more: God never tires of forgiving us; we are the ones who tire of seeking his mercy. Christ, who told us to forgive one another “seventy times seven” (Mt 18:22) has given us his example: he has forgiven us seventy times seven. Time and time again he bears us on his shoulders. No one can strip us of the dignity bestowed upon us by this boundless and unfailing love. With a tenderness which never disappoints, but is always capable of restoring our joy, he makes it possible for us to lift up our heads and to start anew. Let us not flee from the resurrection of Jesus, let us never give up, come what will. May nothing inspire more than his life, which impels us onwards!” 

Pope Francis in Evangelii Gaudium

Tim Staples and Defending the Faith

Sunday, April 19, 2015

How Should We Address Spiritually Dry Periods?


Saturday, April 18, 2015

Praying to Mary: A Biblical Defense

Friday, April 17, 2015

Msgr. Charles Pope: A Reflection on the "Look" of Christ


The following comes from Msgr. Pope:
I have a large icon of Christ in my room. What icons from the Eastern tradition do best is to capture “the look.” No matter where I move in the room Christ is looking right at me. His look is intense, though not severe. In the Eastern spirituality, icons are windows into Heaven. Hence this icon is no mere portrait that reminds one of Christ; it is an image that mediates His presence. When I look upon Him, I experience that He knows me. It is a knowing look, a comprehensive look. 
The Book of Hebrews says of Jesus, No creature is concealed from him, but everything is naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must render an account(Heb 4:13). His look in the icon is not fearsome; it is serene and confident. The text from Hebrews goes on to say, Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has similarly been tested in every way, yet without sin. So let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help (Heb 4:14-16).     
Particularly in Mark’s Gospel there is great emphasis on the eyes and the look of Jesus. A frequent expression appearing in that Gospel is “And looking at them He said …”  This phrase, or something like it, occurs more than 25 times in Mark’s Gospel. Looking on Christ and allowing Him to look on you is a powerful moment of conversion. Jesus Himself said, For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day (Jn 6:40). The First Letter of John says, What we shall later be has not yet been revealed. We do know that when it is revealed  we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is (1 Jn 3:2).
Keep looking to the Lord in this Easter season, in the art that most moves and especially in the Most Blessed Sacrament. Look at Him and let Him look at you.
This video (above) is a wonderful collection of  many of the looks of Jesus and the reaction of the people to them. Pay special attention to it. The video also features a lot of “looks” that come from us. Notice how people look upon Jesus and how they as human beings react as they do so. Look for the “looks” in this video. The final looks are especially moving.

Pope Francis to Consecrate World to Mary's Immaculate Heart

The following comes from Aleteia:

Pope Francis will consecrate the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary this Oct. 13 as part of the Marian Day celebration that will involve the statue of Our Lady of the Rosary of Fatima.

“The Holy Father strongly desires that the Marian Day may have present, as a special sign, one of the most significant Marian icons for Christians throughout the world and, for that reason, we thought of the beloved original Statue of Our Lady of Fatima,” wrote Archbishop Rino Fisichella.

Archbishop Fisichella, who serves as president of the pontifical council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, made his remarks in a letter to Bishop Antonio Marto of Leiria-Fatima.

According to the Portuguese shrine's website, the statue of Our Lady of Fatima will leave for Rome on the morning of Oct. 12 and return on the afternoon of Oct. 13. The statue normally resides in the shrine’s Little Chapel of Apparitions.

The archbishop said that “all ecclesial entities of Marian spirituality” are invited to take part in the celebration. Hundreds of movements and institutions that emphasize Marian devotion are expected to attend, the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima says.

The two-day observance includes an Oct. 12 pilgrimage to the tomb of St. Peter and moments of prayer and meditation. On Oct. 13, Pope Francis will celebrate Mass in St. Peter’s Square.

Our Lady of Fatima appeared to three shepherd children in the village of Fatima in Portugal in 1917. She warned of violent trials in the twentieth century if the world did not make reparation for sins. She urged prayer and devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

At the request of Pope Francis, Cardinal Jose Polycarp, the Patriarch of Lisbon, consecrated the Pope’s pontificate to Our Lady of Fatima on May 13, her feast day.

St. Kateri Tekakwitha from Salt and Light TV


St. Clement of Rome on the Eucharist

St. Clement was the third successor of Peter as Bishop of Rome; otherwise known as the third Pope. 
"Since then these things are manifest to us, and we have looked into the depths of the divine knowledge, we ought to do in order all things which the Master commanded us to perform at appointed times. He commanded us to celebrate sacrifices and services, and that it should not be thoughtlessly or disorderly, but at fixed times and hours. He has Himself fixed by His supreme will the places and persons whom He desires for these celebrations, in order that all things may be done piously according to His good pleasure, and be acceptable to His will. So then those who offer their oblations at the appointed seasons are acceptable and blessed, but they follow the laws of the Master and do not sin. For to the high priest his proper ministrations are allotted, and to the priests the proper place has been appointed, and on Levites their proper services have been imposed. The layman is bound by the ordinances for the laity."
St. Clement, bishop of Rome, 80 A.D., to the Corinthians