Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Confessors of the Year for Mercy: Saint Pio and Saint Leopold

St. Jerome and the Psalms

Pope Francis is Bringing Jesus to the World and the World is Taking Notice

The following come from the NCR:

Pope Francis addressed the United Nations today.
He gave a speech that was entirely consistent with the address he gave the Joint Session of the United States Congress yesterday. It was also entirely different.
What do I mean by that?
Pope Francis is, first of all, a priest. He’s a pastor of souls. When he spoke to Congress, it was obvious that he was on a mission of pastoral mercy. He was not just addressing the members of Congress and other dignitaries in front of him; he was ministering to them.
Thus, his speech to the joint session was also a powerful pastoral intervention. He delivered a passionately pro-life speech that spoke of life from conception to natural death; that admonished us to care for our home, the Earth, and which repeatedly called for governance on behalf of the common good.
At root of all this was a deep pastoral message to the broken and wounded souls in that room. Pope Francis saw through the facade of power and puffery into their hearts of rage and self-righteousness. He walked into that room, aware of the imploding dysfunction that threatens to rattle our democracy, of the hardness of heart that blinds those who work there to everything but partisan loyalty.
I’m going to write in more detail about this in the future because what he said touched me to the core. As someone who has lived most of my adult life in the sphere of politics and who has held office for 18 years, it almost brought me to tears. Pope Francis did not see these people, as other usually do, as things with power. He saw them as what they are: Desperately wounded people who are afraid to do the right thing, even when they know what it is.
His address to the United Nations, even though it said essentially the same things about issues, was an entirely different animal. Pope Francis did not speak to the United Nations as a pastor so much as an advocate for humanity, standing before a tribunal of world leaders.
He spoke of the sanctity of life, of the pretense that there is no real difference between men and women, of the rights of women and of a world riven with violence, avarice, poverty and hopelessness. He spoke on the environment and he got rather specific in his suggestions as to what he thinks should be done in that area politically.
Despite the difference in tone, every word he spoke was entirely consistent with what he said to Congress, which was also consistent with what he’s been saying every day since we first heard Habemus Papam. Every word from his mouth echoed things that previous popes have said. Every idea he brought forward had one basis: The immense and eternal dignity of human beings, who are made in the image and likeness of the living God.
Pope Francis is the only person on the planet today who has both the will and the position to enter the halls of power and speak so plainly on behalf of suffering humanity to the power brokers who have created so much of this suffering. There are presidents, prime ministers, dictators and kings. But none of them wield the unique moral authority and independence from ambition of the pope.

Saint of the day: Jerome

Today is the Feast of the great St. Jerome. Jerome was the holy scripture scholar known as much for his love of the scriptures as for his bad temper! The following is from the American Catholic site:

Most of the saints are remembered for some outstanding virtue or devotion which they practiced, but Jerome is frequently remembered for his bad temper! It is true that he had a very bad temper and could use a vitriolic pen, but his love for God and his Son Jesus Christ was extraordinarily intense; anyone who taught error was an enemy of God and truth, and St. Jerome went after him or her with his mighty and sometimes sarcastic pen.

He was above all a Scripture scholar, translating most of the Old Testament from the Hebrew. He also wrote commentaries which are a great source of scriptural inspiration for us today. He was an avid student, a thorough scholar, a prodigious letter-writer and a consultant to monk, bishop and pope. St. Augustine said of him, "What Jerome is ignorant of, no mortal has ever known."

St. Jerome is particularly important for having made a translation of the Bible which came to be called the Vulgate. It is not the most critical edition of the Bible, but its acceptance by the Church was fortunate. As a modern scholar says, "No man before Jerome or among his contemporaries and very few men for many centuries afterwards were so well qualified to do the work." The Council of Trent called for a new and corrected edition of the Vulgate, and declared it the authentic text to be used in the Church.

In order to be able to do such work, Jerome prepared himself well. He was a master of Latin, Greek, Hebrew and Chaldaic. He began his studies at his birthplace, Stridon in Dalmatia (in the former Yugoslavia). After his preliminary education he went to Rome, the center of learning at that time, and thence to Trier, Germany, where the scholar was very much in evidence. He spent several years in each place, always trying to find the very best teachers.

After these preparatory studies he traveled extensively in Palestine, marking each spot of Christ's life with an outpouring of devotion. Mystic that he was, he spent five years in the desert of Chalcis so that he might give himself up to prayer, penance and study. Finally he settled in Bethlehem, where he lived in the cave believed to have been the birthplace of Christ. On September 30 in the year 420, Jerome died in Bethlehem. The remains of his body now lie buried in the Basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome.

Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary Day 27

Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary (Days 27 to 33 Prayers)

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Pope Francis, World Youth Day and Divine Mercy

.- With World Youth Day coming up next year, Pope Francis has a question for young people: “Do you realize how precious you are to God, who has given you everything out of love?”
“You, dear young man, dear young woman, have you ever felt the gaze of everlasting love upon you, a gaze that looks beyond your sins, limitations and failings, and continues to have faith in you and to look upon your life with hope?” the Pope asked Sept. 28.
His Message for the 31st World Youth Day in Krakow 2016 invited young people to reflect on mercy and to visit the Divine Mercy Shrine in Krakow. The next global Catholic youth gathering takes place July 25-31.
“Dear young people, at the Shrine in Krakow dedicated to the merciful Jesus, where he is depicted in the image venerated by the people of God, Jesus is waiting for you. He has confidence in you and is counting on you! He has so many things to say to each of you,” the Pope continued.
“Do not be afraid to look into his eyes, full of infinite love for you. Open yourselves to his merciful gaze, so ready to forgive all your sins. A look from him can change your lives and heal the wounds of your souls. His eyes can quench the thirst that dwells deep in your young hearts, a thirst for love, for peace, for joy and for true happiness. Come to him and do not be afraid!”
Pope Francis credited to Divine Providence the decision to celebrate World Youth Day in Krakow, the city of Sts. John Paul II and Faustina Kowalska. St. Faustina, a 20th century nun, had visions of Christ, upon which is based the Chaplet of Divine Mercy.
“John Paul II realized that this is the time of mercy,” Pope Francis said. He noted that his predecessor had instituted the Feast of Divine Mercy and personally inaugurated Krakow’s Divine Mercy Shrine in 2002.

8 Powerful moments of Pope Francis' visit to the United States

Feast of the Archangels

Angels are not like the other saints on the Church's calendar who were all human beings. Angels are celestial beings created on a higher order than man. They are completely spiritual beings; they have intelligence and will; they are personal and immortal creatures. Angels are the servants and messengers of God -- in fact, this is what the word "angel" means. Several different kinds (or ranks) of angels are mentioned in the Bible: angels, archangels, cherubim, seraphim, thrones, choirs, dominions, principalities, and powers.

The feast of Saint Michael, one of the seven archangels of Scripture, originated in the sixth century. It was known, in English, as "Michaelmas", and this name lives on in a wildflower, a white aster with many small star-like flowers, that blooms in late September, known as the Michaelmas daisy.

Recently two other of the archangels named in scripture, Gabriel and Raphael, are also honored on this day.

Michael the archangel, whose name in Hebrew means "Who is like God?", is revered as the leader of the angelic army who will conquer Satan and his armies of demons, and is considered the defender of the Church. Michael is more often represented in art thank any other angelic being. He is often shown wearing armor, in the act of slaying the great Dragon of the Apocalypse [Satan] in Revelation 12:7-9.

The archangel Gabriel, whose name in Hebrew means "Strength of God", announced the birth of John the Baptist to Zachariah, and soon after, announced to Mary that she was to become the mother of Our Lord. His address to her, "Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee" (the "angelic salutation") is familiar to all who say the Rosary.

The archangel Raphael, whose name means medic or ointment of God, is mentioned by name in the Old Testament book of Tobit (Tobias), whom the angel aided by healing him of blindness and guiding him on his travels.

To learn more about them click here.

A Prayer to Saint Michael
Saint Michael, Archangel, defend us in battle.
Be our protection against the wickedness
and snares of the Devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray;
And do thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host,
by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan and all the other evil spirits who prowl about the world
seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

-- Pope Leo XIII

Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary Day 26

Monday, September 28, 2015

No Other Name by Hillsong

Pope Francis: Families are factories of hope, life and resurrection!

Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary Day 25

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Cistercian Chant: Testamentum Eternum

Joy Is On Tour

The following comes from Tod Worner:
You know you have heard about it.
The stories of the Pope shaking things up. Gingerly paying his own hotel bill, diving deeply into crowds to shake the furthest hand, warmly engaging the stray child in the middle of a Mass, and kissing the infirm, the repellent, the forgotten.
You know you have heard about it.
But it is utterly stunning to see it.
For one week, Joy has been on tour. The United States and every major news outlet has been transfixed by every move of this beaming, tireless Shepherd. And do you want to know something? It has been the most positive news week I have ever seen. Why is that? Because the media has simply fixed their cameras on a holy man exuding joy and mercy at every turn. At. Every. Turn. And they almost don’t know what to do. That is because the irrepressible message of joy and hope, love and mercy has so utterly eclipsed the petty, trite controversies which are the stock-in-trade of the media. When is the last time you saw Mass, Vespers and prayer services in their entirety on CNN, Fox and MSNBC? When is the last time you heard a scintillating man speaking with uncontainable joy about the indispensability of family, inexhaustible mercy and unfathomable love of God for each an every one of us? Joy, I say, has been on tour.
This morning I began eating breakfast with my family at a hotel in Wisconsin where we visiting the extraordinary Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe. As the television showed Pope Francis driving off in his beloved Fiat (after arriving by plane on the Philadelphia tarmac), my wife and I looked at each other. “He looks tired, doesn’t he?”, my wife said. I nodded and replied, “Just imagine keeping that schedule and energy as a 78 year-old man with sciatica.”
And then he stopped the car.
He waved his arm, the Fiat stopped and he literally bolted out of the car.  Seeming almost to run, he found his way to an obscure corner of the gated off crowds, leaned deeply forward and kissed the forehead of a severely disabled boy in a wheelchair. As he blessed him, his mother looked on and wept. You could simply read the words on her lips, “Thank you.” The boy’s sister, a teenager, was taking a picture of the irreplaceable encounter – and she wept. Like years of pent up worry and heartache were released. And as the Pope warmly looked at the boy and his mother, it was as if he knew. He knew. And his eyes seemed to reassure, “Your life and your son’s were forever changed with his disability. But you loved. You loved without end. And God knows it. And He loves you endlessly through your sufferings, your doubt, your worry. You are loved. You are loved.” As he walked back to the car, it was like all his fatigue had vanished. He had seen Christ in the “least of these” and it had given him new strength.
I nearly cried in the middle of my continental breakfast. It was exactly what Christ would have done. And it was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen.

Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary Day 24

Saturday, September 26, 2015

A Quote from Pope Francis Homily in Philadelphia

“With gratitude for all we have received, and with confident assurance in all our needs, let us turn to Mary, our Blessed Mother. With a mother’s love, may she intercede for the growth of the Church in America in prophetic witness to the power of her Son’s Cross to bring joy, hope and strength into our world."

 Pope Francis in Philadelphia, Sept. 26, 2015

Pope's Mass in Madison Square Garden: Go out and evangelize without fear or hesitation

Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary Day 23

Friday, September 25, 2015

I Surrender by Hillsong Live

Fr. Robert Barron: Thomas Merton as Spiritual Master

The following comes from Word on Fire:

I write these words on the one hundredth anniversary of the birth of Thomas Merton, one of the greatest spiritual writers of the twentieth century and a man who had a decisive influence on me and my vocation to the priesthood.  I first encountered Merton’s writing in a peculiar way.  My brother and I were both working at a bookstore in the Chicago suburbs.  One afternoon, he tossed to me a tattered paperback with a torn cover that the manager had decided to discard.  My brother said, “You might like this; it’s written by a Trappist monk.”  I replied, with the blithe confidence of a sixteen year old, “I don’t want to read a book by some Buddhist.” With exquisite sensitivity, he responded, “Trappists are Catholics, you idiot.” 
The book in question was The Seven Storey Mountain, Thomas Merton’s passionate, articulate, smart, and deeply moving account of his journey from worldling to Trappist monk.  Though much of the philosophy and theology was, at that time, over my head, I became completely caught up in the drama and romance of Merton’s story, which is essentially the tale of how a man fell in love with God. The book is extraordinarily well written, funny, adventurous, and spiritually wise.  In one of the blurbs written for the first edition, Fulton Sheen referred to it as a contemporary version of St. Augustine’s Confessions, and it was fulsomely praised by both Evelyn Waugh and Graham Greene.  Moreover, it contributed massively to the startling influx of young men into monasteries and religious communities across the United States in the postwar era. 
I was so thrilled by my first encounter with Merton that I dove headlong into his body of writing.  The Sign of Jonas, a journal that Merton kept in the years leading up to his priestly ordination, became a particular favorite.  That work concludes with an essay called “Firewatch:  July 4, 1952,” which Jacques Maritain referred to as the greatest piece of spiritual writing in the twentieth century.  In this powerful meditation, Merton uses the mundane monastic task of walking through the monastery checking for fires as a metaphor for a Dantesque examination of the soul.  The Sign of Jonas is marked by Merton’s playful and ironic sense of humor, but it also gives evidence of the enormous range of his reading and intellectual interests.  To devour that book as a nineteen year old, as I did, was to receive an unparalleled cultural education.  For many people of my generation, Merton opened the door to the wealth of the Catholic spiritual tradition: I first learned about John of the Cross, Meister Eckhart, Teresa of Avila, Bernard of Clairvaux, Odo of Cluny, the Victorines, Origen, Thérèse of Lisieux, and Hans Urs von Balthasar from him. 
Perhaps the central theme of all of Merton’s writings is contemplation.  What he stressed over and again in regard to this crucial practice is that it is not the exclusive preserve of spiritual athletes, but rather something that belongs to all the baptized and that stands at the heart of Christian life.  For contemplation is, in his language, “to find the place in you where you are here and now being created by God.”  It is consciously to discover a new center in God and hence at the same time to discover the point of connection to everyone and everything else in the cosmos.  Following the French spiritual masters, Merton called this le point vierge, the virginal point, or to put it in the language of the fourth Gospel, “water bubbling up in you to eternal life.”  In his famous epiphanic experience at the corner of 4th and Walnut in downtown Louisville, Merton felt, through le point vierge, a connection to the ordinary passersby so powerful it compelled him to exclaim, “There is no way of telling people that they are all walking around shining like the sun.”
Sadly, for many younger Catholics today, Merton, if he is known at all, is viewed with a certain suspicion, and this for two reasons.  First, when he was a man of fifty-one, he fell in love with a young nurse who cared for him after back surgery.  Though it is almost certain that this was exclusively an affair of the heart, it was certainly, to say the very least, unseemly for a middle-aged monk and priest to have been so infatuated with a much younger woman.  At the same time, Merton worked through this confusing period and returned to his vowed monastic life.  And the journal that he kept during that year is so spiritually alert and illuminating that I often recommend it to brother priests who are wrestling with the promise of celibacy.  To dismiss Merton out of hand because of this admittedly inappropriate relationship strikes me as disproportionate. 

Fr. James Martin on Dorothy Day

Salt and Light: Pope Francis Meets President and Addresses US Congress

Bishop Robert Barron on the Pope's Visit to USA

 Chatter over politics – and whether or not Pope Francis is a communist – has taken center stage since he landed in the U.S., but for Bishop Robert Barron, the Pope's visit is about much more.
“I'm expecting the Pope to evangelize, he's come as a preacher of the Gospel,” Bishop Barron told CNA Sept. 23 outside the White House.
The Pope, he said, will “speak across the denominational lines and across even to the secular world about basic human values.”
“It's wonderful” to have Francis in the U.S., the bishop commented, adding that as both a Catholic and an American to have the Pope there as “a symbol of our government and democracy” is exciting.
Known for his online videos which tackle everything from the saints, to the “new atheism,” to the latest blockbuster film, Bishop Barron was appointed as one of three new auxiliary bishops for Los Angeles in July.
He is the founder of the online initiative Word On Fire Catholic Ministries, and is the producer of the popular documentary series Catholicism. His latest series, Pivotal Players, is currently in production.
Also a contributor to NBC News, the prominent internet evangelist was ordained a bishop just two weeks ago on Sept. 8 inside L.A.'s Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels.
Having just finished a spot with the Today Show, Bishop Barron said that after the day’s events – which include a meeting between Pope Francis and U.S. bishops – he will head to New York, where he’ll be on NBC’s Nightly News program following the canonization of Bl. Junipero Serra.
The bishop said that he never expected to be in Washington participating in the Pope’s visit as a bishop, “so that’s part of the novelty of this.”
He said the first weeks in his new role have been “interesting, exciting, a little confusing. A lot of things new being thrown at me, but it’s all good.”

Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary Day 22

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Our Lady of Walsingham

The following comes from Patron Saints Index:

In 1061 Lady Richeldis de Faverches, lady of the manor near the village of Walsingham, Norfolk, England, was taken in spirit to Nazareth. There Our Lady asked her to build a replica, in Norfolk, of the Holy House where she had been born, grew up, and received the Annunciation of Christ's impending birth. She immediately did, constructing a house 23'6" by 12'10" according to the plan given her. Its fame slowly spread, and in 1150 a group of Augustinian Canons built a priory beside it. Its fame continued to grow, and for centuries it was a point of pilgrimage for all classes, the recipient of many expensive gifts.

In 1534 Walsingham became one of the first houses to sign the Oath of Supremacy, recognizing Henry VIII as head of the Church in England. Dissenters were executed, and in 1538 the House was stripped of its valuables, its statue of the Virgin taken to London to be burned, its buildings used as farm sheds for the next three centuries.
In 1896 Charlotte Boyd purchased the Slipper Chapel and donated it to Downside Abbey. In 1897 Pope Leo XIII re-founded the ancient shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham, and pilgrimages are permitted to resume. The statue of Our Lady is enshrined in 1922 beginning an era of cooperation at the shrine between Catholics and Anglicans. In 1981 construction began on the Chapel of Reconciliation, a cooperative effort between the two confessions, and located near the shrine. The feast of Our Lady of Walsingham was reinstated in 2000. For more information on this historic shrine click here.

Our Lady of Ransom

Today we celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Ransom also known as Our Lady of Mercy.

The Blessed Virgin appeared in 1218 in separate visions to St. Peter Nolasco, St. Raymund of Penafort, and James, king of Aragon, asking them to found a religious order dedicated to freeing Christian captives from the barbarous Saracens or Moors, who at that time held a great part of Spain. On August 10, 1218, King James established the royal, military and religious Order of our Lady of Ransom (first known as the Order of St. Eulalia, now known as the Mercedarian Order), with the members granted the privilege of wearing his own arms on their breast. Most of the members were knights, and while the clerics recited the divine office in the commanderies, they guarded the coasts and delivered prisoners. This pious work spread everywhere and produced heroes of charity who collected alms for the ransom of Christians, and often gave themselves up in exchange for Christian prisoners.

Hat tip to Catholic Fire!

Pope Francis Makes Surprise Stop at Little Sisters of the Poor

The following comes from the NCR:

Pope Francis paid a short visit to the Little Sisters of the Poor community in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday to support them in their court case over the contraception mandate, the Vatican's spokesman revealed.

It was a “short visit that was not in the program,” Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See Press Office, said at an evening press conference during the papal visit to the nation's capital.

“This is a sign, obviously, of support for them” in their court case, he affirmed.
The sisters had filed a lawsuit against the Obama administration for its 2012 mandate that employers provide insurance coverage for birth control, sterilizations, and drugs that can cause abortions employee health plans. The sisters have maintained that to provide this coverage would violate their religious beliefs.

After the Obama administration modified the rules as an “accommodation” for objecting organizations, the sisters held that even under the revised rules they would have to violate their consciences.

The majority of a three-judge panel for the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in July that the Little Sisters of the Poor did not establish that the mandate was a “substantial burden” on their free exercise of religion, and thus ruled they still had to abide by the mandate.

“The Holy Father spoke to each of us individually, from the youngest postulant to our centenarian, and then he spoke to all us about the importance of our ministry to the elderly,” Sister Constance Veit, communications director for the Little Sisters of the Poor, said following the visit. “We were deeply moved by his encouraging words.” 

Mark Rienzi, senior counsel at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which is representing the Little Sisters of the Poor in their court challenge against the mandate, said in a email statement, “Today, after Mass at the Basilica, the Pope made an unscheduled visit to the Little Sisters of the Poor where he spoke to each of the Sisters privately and encouraged them in their vocation to serve the elderly and the poor. Earlier in the day, at the White House, the Pope expressed his support for religious liberty when he stated: [we] all are called to be vigilant, precisely as good citizens, to preserve and defend that freedom from everything that would threaten or compromise it.”

‘An Important Meaning’
The papal visit was not on the official schedule for Pope Francis’ Washington visit, which included Wednesday visits to the White House, a midday prayer service with the U.S. bishops at St. Matthew’s Cathedral, and the canonization mass for St. Junipero Serra at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

It was a “little addition to the program, but I think it has an important meaning,” Father Lombardi said.

He added that the visit “is connected” to “the words that the Pope has said in support of the position of the bishops of the United States in the speech to President Obama and also in the speech to the bishops.”

Pope Francis, with President Obama at the White House, called religious freedom “one of America’s most precious possessions” and had hearkened to the U.S. bishops’ defense of religious freedom. “All are called to be vigilant, precisely as good citizens, to preserve and defend that freedom from everything that would threaten or compromise it,” he had said.

In response to the news of the visit with the sisters, Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, president of the U.S. Bishops Conference, said that he was “so pleased” to hear of the visit.

“As you know the last thing the Little Sisters of the Poor want to do is sue somebody. They don’t want to sue in court,” he insisted. “They simply want to serve people who are poor and elderly, and they want to do it in a way that doesn’t conflict with their beliefs.”

The archbishop had previously warned against “interpreting freedom of religion in a very narrow way” in the press conference, and emphasized that religion is not something practiced just for an hour on Sunday but something lived out. To prove his point, he used the Little Sisters as an example.

Added Archbishop Kurtz, “We need to make room within our nation for people who have deeply held religious beliefs not to be forced to do that.”

Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary Day 21

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Rare Video Footage of St. Padre Pio

The Bible is Catholic

The following comes from Catholic Exchange:
Try explaining to our Fundamentalist brethren about almost any tenet of the Catholic faith and you’re likely to hear in response, “Chapter and verse, please”.  In other words, of course, they want to know exactly where that teaching is found in the Bible because they adhere to what is spelled out and therefore only such teachings are retained by them. However, not every belief in Catholicism is to be found word-for-word in Sacred Scripture.
All teachings of the Church, however, are in harmony with Sacred Scripture.  This essay will look at the trifecta of the Church’s authority: The Bible, Tradition and the Magisterium.
The Holy Trinity is one of the teachings of almost every Fundamentalist community (but not all of them) that is not specifically in the Bible.  Nowhere is the doctrine of the One Godhead as Father, Son and Holy Spirit — co-eternal and co-equal — found in the Bible; but they are “words in harmony with Scripture”, according to the second of the 16 Fundamental Truths of the Assembly of God.  This is important because it is my Assembly of God family and relatives who always love to insist on “chapter and verse”. It seems that they will allow doctrines “not (explicitly) found in the Scriptures” but for Catholics to do this it is perceived as “adding to what is written”. Most of our understanding of the Holy Trinity comes from the extensive writings of the Early Church Fathers such as St. Augustine, St. Athanasius and many others.

The Written Word

Let’s look at where the Bible itself came from.  None of the gospels were written as historical texts or as directives on how to start a church.  Rather, they were written to attest to who Jesus was — “so that you may believe” (Jn. 20:31).  The Acts of the Apostles are a continuation of Luke’s gospel—he tells of the early Church and of Paul’s conversion and missionary travels.  It’s kind of like a journal. Paul’s letters are to those communities where there were issues that needed to be addressed. He wrote personal letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon.  Hebrews is a masterful treatise on the eternal sacrifice of Jesus. James wrote  one letter; Peter wrote two letters, John wrote three—plus the Book of Revelation —and Jude wrote one. Other gospels and letters were written but did not make it into the canon of the New Testament.
While many Protestants claim that we “added books” to the Old Testament (The Catholic version has 46 books while the Protestant has 39), all Protestants do agree that we Catholics got it right with the NT because they have the same one we do. The first canon of the NT was promulgated in A.D. 397 at the Council of Orange in Africa. Many Protestants claim that the canon was only put forth at the Council of Trent (held from 1545 -1563); however, this is incorrect.  It was not promulgated then but re-iterated for all time after Martin Luther had decided to take out the Letter to the Hebrews, the Letter of James, the Book of Revelation and the Letter of Jude.  Jude, by the way, makes reference in his letter to the Assumption of Moses and the Book of Enoch—two writings that did not make it into the canon of the New Testament. The New Testament does not come with its own list as to which writings would go into it.
The difference with the Protestant Old Testament and the Catholic one is about which version was used in the time of Jesus.  In his day, Hebrew had fallen out of use as an everyday language; Aramaic had taken its place.  However, with the conquest of Alexander the Great, Greek became the biblical language due to the Hellenistic influence.  The Greek Old Testament (called the Septuagint) contained 46 books but the older Hebrew one (Masoretic text) contained only 39. After the new Christian sect fell out of favor with mainstream Judaism (around A.D. 90) and were driven away, the Jews took the Hebrew version of the Old Testament as their text because the Christians were adept at using the seven “other” books to convert people.
Those seven books, by the way are: Judith, Tobit, Baruch, Sirach (or Ecclesiasticus), the Wisdom of Solomon, First and Second Maccabees, the two Books of Esdras, additions to the Book of Esther, additions to the Book of Daniel, and the Prayer of Manasseh.  Here we have the attestation of the Jews in their own online encyclopedia as to why, ultimately, the Septuagint was rendered “unwelcome”: “it had been adopted as Sacred Scripture by the new faith. A revision in the sense of the canonical Jewish text was necessary”. Further, “The quotations from the Old Testament found in the New are in the main taken from the Septuagint; and even where the citation is indirect the influence of this version is clearly seen”. ( This tells us clearly that Jesus and his apostles used the Greek Septuagint Old Testament and not the Hebrew Masoretic.  I am uncertain as to why Protestants kept to the Hebrew version of the OT and rejected the version clearly used by Jesus.

Oral Transmission of the Word

As for Sacred Tradition (not tradition w/small “t”), it is another way of handing on the faith—the Latin, “Traditio” means “to hand on”.  Almost all of Paul’s letters were composed before any of the gospels were written. Paul tells us in Acts 20:35 when he addresses the people in Aramaic, he states that he was educated “at the feet of Gamaliel” which is quite significant because Gamaliel was a master of the oral law/tradition.
There was no such thing, of course of anyone having his/her own copy of the bible to look things up.  Protestants will cite the passage that “All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for refutation, for correction, and for training in righteousness…” (2 Tim 3:16) but it does not say only scripture. In fact, the Scripture Paul was referring to was the Old Testament for the new had not even been formed. In 2 Thes. 2:15 Paul exhorts his readers to “stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught, either by an oral statement or by a letter of ours” (italics mine) — again, no mention of checking facts in the Bible. In 1 Cor. 11:2 Paul praises the church “because you…hold fast to the traditions, just as I handed them on to you”.
We know that according to Paul’s own testimony, everything he learned about Jesus and the Church was from Jesus himself —see 1 Cor. 11:23. It is the only way he could quote Jesus as saying “It is better to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35) because this quote is nowhere to be found in any of the gospels.  In fact, Paul’s instruction on the celebration of the Eucharist itself (1 Cor. 11:23-26) pre-dates any of the gospels. Paul then goes still further and tells the young bishop Timothy to entrust to faithful people that which he (Timothy) heard from Paul even by way of “many witnesses” (2 Tim. 2:2).
For a good article explaining still more about Tradition, go to this site:

The Right to Interpret

As for the Magisterium, it is the teaching office of the Church.  Even though the Church came first, it still serves Sacred Scripture and tradition.  The Magisterium is guided by the Holy Spirit.  All bishops by their ordination have this special gift of the Holy Spirit so long as they are in communion with the Holy Father. For a better understanding of the Magisterium read my article here. The Magisterium is the interpreter of both Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition just as the U.S. Supreme Court is the guardian and interpreter of the Constitution. If there were no-one to interpret this great document of ours we would demand that there be an official interpreter of it.
As I stated in my first article on the holy order of bishops, I am glad that my salvation does not rely on my own interpretation of Scripture.  If self-interpretation really were of the Holy Spirit, then 100% of the people would necessarily arrive at the same interpretation 100% of the time for “God is not a god of confusion” (1 Cor. 14:33). But God is one…Truth is one. And as I said then…Thank-you, sweet bishops, for all you do!

Saint of the day: Padre Pio

Today is the Feast of St. Padre Pio! The following is from
Francesco, named in honor of St. Francis of Assisi, was born to Giuseppa and Grazio Forgione, peasant farmers, in the small Italian village of Pietrelcina on May 25, 1887. From his childhood, it was evident that he was a special child of God. Francesco was very devout even as a child, and at an early age felt drawn to the priesthood. He became a Capuchin novice at the age of sixteen and received the habit in 1902. Francesco was ordained to the priesthood in 1910 after seven years of study and became known as Padre Pio.

On September 20, 1918, Padre Pio was kneeling in front of a large crucifix when he received the visible marks of the crucifixion, making him the first stigmatized priest in the history of Church. The doctor who examined Padre Pio could not find any natural cause for the wounds. Upon his death in 1968, the wounds were no longer visible. In fact, there was no scaring and the skin was completely renewed. He had predicted 50 years prior that upon his death the wounds would heal. The wounds of the stigmata were not the only mystical phenomenon experienced by Padre Pio.

The blood from the stigmata had an odor described by many as similar to that of perfume or flowers, and the gift of bilocation was attributed to him. Padre Pio had the ability to read the hearts of the penitents who flocked to him for confession which he heard for ten or twelve hours per day. Padre Pio used the confessional to bring both sinners and devout souls closer to God; he would know just the right word of counsel or encouragement that was needed. Even before his death, people spoke to Padre Pio about his possible canonization. He died on September 23, 1968 at the age of eighty-one. His funeral was attended by about 100,000 people.
On June 16, 2002, over 500,000 Padre Pio devotees gathered in Rome to witness Pope John Paul II proclaim Padre Pio, Saint Pio of Pietrelcina. The Padre Pio Foundation and many benefactors traveled to Rome, San Giovanni Rotondo, Pietrelcina, Piana Romana and many other holy places to celebrate Padre Pio's Canonization.

To learn more about this wonderful saint please click here.

Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary Day 20

Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary (Days 20 to 26 Theme)

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Cistercian Chant - Oliva fructifera

Pope Francis Blesses Unborn Children Around the World

.- Pope Francis met with families on Tuesday at Our Lady of the Assumption Cathedral in Santiago de Cuba, thanking those gathered for their warm witness and inclusive nature, reflecting that it is at home, in the family, that Christ shows the love of God.
Going off script from his prepared remarks Sept. 22, the Pope recalled that at the General Audiences held each Wednesday in St. Peter's Square, “I pass by so many people, so many women, who show me they're pregnant, and they ask my blessing.”
“I will propose something to you, to those women who are 'pregnant with hope', because a child is hope, a source of hope: at this moment, touch your womb. Not just those here, (but) those listening on television or radio – to each one, each of these children, boys or girls in the womb, I bless them! I bless the children in the womb, in the name of Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”
“I hope they may be holy, they may grow. Be tender to the child whom you are expecting.”
In his prepared remarks, Pope Francis said, “I remember in my former diocese, how many families told me that almost the only time they came together was at dinner, in the evening after work, when the children had finished their homework,” adding that these times around the table are “special times in the life of the family.”
“These were also times when someone might come home tired, or when arguments or bickering might break out,” the Holy Father continued, saying, “Jesus chooses all those times to show us the love of God.”
At home, Pope Francis noted that children and families learn how to receive, to appreciate the blessings of life, and to learn interdependence.
“That is why the Christian community calls families ‘domestic churches.’ It is the warmth of the home that faith fills every corner, lights up every space, builds community,” the Holy Father noted.

St. Padre Pio on Anxiety

Pope Francis with the Youth in Havana

Pope Francis With Priests, Religious and Seminarians in Cuba

Pope Francis prays before Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre

Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary Day 19

Salesian Spanish Martyrs: Blessed José Calasanz Marqués, SDB and Companions

The following comes from the Black Cordelias site:

Professed priest of the Salesian Society of Saint John Bosco, born in Azanuy (Huesca), Spain, November 23, 1872, died at the Bridge of St. Josephon the road to Valencia, Spain, July 29, 1936. He is buried at the cemetery Benimaclet in Valencia. Pope John Paul II beatified him on March 11, 2001 together with 232 other victims of the Spanish Civil War from the Diocese of Valencia.

Roman Martyrology: At Valencia in Spain, Blessed Joseph Calasanz Marqués, Priest of the Salesian Society and Martyr, who, in the time of persecution, poured his blood for Christ.

In the vast inhuman massacre that was the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), the number of victims exceeded a million, affecting people of every class and every faith. Now historians have acknowledged that within this terrible massacre, in the territories then called the red zone, in the hands of the social anarchists and communists, there was a real persecution against Christians.

The lay faithful diminished only because Christians were killed; tens of thousands massacred, 4,148 diocesan priests, 12 bishops, 283 nuns, and 2,365 religious (priests and brothers) for a total so far of 6,808 recognized martyrs. Numerous churches were destroyed.

Every religious community gave its tribute of blood; the Family of the Salesians of Don Bosco in this list is represented by 97 members, belonging to three thriving ‘Provinces’ and one of the Salesians’ Provinces ‘of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, and so divided: 39 priests, 26 Brothers, 22 clerics, 5 Salesian cooperators, 3 and 2 would be Salesians Daughters of Mary Help of Christians. The Salesian martyrs are grouped into three local families, Valencia, Seville, Madrid, those of Valencia having been declared blessed in 2001.

The group from Valencia consists of 32 martyrs and is headed by the Provincial Salesian priest Don José Calasanz Marqués, who was born in Huesca November 23, 1872, and his pious parents educated him with austerity and firmness of character; in 1884 at 12, he entered Salesian House of Sarriá, had spent two years when he was a witness to the visit of Don Bosco in Barcelona in 1886. He made his profession of vows in the Salesian Congregation of Blessed Philip Rinaldi (1856-1931), third successor of Saint John Bosco, a Salesian priest, the first in Spain, who was ordained in 1895.

During the first years of priesthood he worked as a secretary at the side of Don Rinaldi, learning to live the Salesian spirit, with kindness in heart, fulfilling his pastoral zeal, especially in the Sacrament of Penance. In the next 25 years he was sent to found the first college in Mataró, then starting the Salesian Work in the West Indies and later to direct the Province of Peru-Bolivia, he returned to Spain in 1925 with the office of the Provincial of Tarraconese.

The Civil War surprised this office; July 18, 1936 was in Valencia to preside over the retreat in the local Salesian House. In the early morning of July 22, the armed militia invaded red, finding the Salesians deployed along the central staircase, one of them occurred rebuked the other, because he did not agree, and fired, killing every Salesian.

They were arrested and then released to be arrested again later in the following days, Father Calasanz was put with three brothers on a truck going to Valencia, he was always under the gun, aimed by a young man, when suddenly a shot rang out, hitting him in the head. Father José Calasanz Marqués collapsed to the ground in a lake of blood, murmuring “My God.” It was July 29th 1936 and he was 64.

In the same year, 1936, at different times, others were killed in hatred of the Catholic faith and their priesthood or religious profession, 10 other Salesians of Valencia and 21 in Barcelona, including two Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, all united in a single process for their Beatification, which took place in Rome on March 11, 2001, along with 201 other martyrs of the diocese of Valencia.

For brevity of space we omit the names of 32 other martyrs Salesians, whose list is still present with the “Blessed Martyrs Salesian Spaniards.”

Monday, September 21, 2015

Chris Stefanick on Jesus

Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary Day 18

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary Day 17

Saturday, September 19, 2015

How Can It Be by Lauren Daigle

St. Josemaria’s 17 Signs of a Lack of Humility

The following comes from St. Peter's List:
Listers from the moment our Holy Father Pope Francis stepped onto the balcony overlooking St. Peter’s square, his manners and style were hailed as humble. Humility is a virtue which we all ought to develop to bring ourselves in greater conformity with Christ as we seek “to temper and restrain the mind, lest it tend to high things immoderately.”

Mother of Fair Love, a gift of Josemaría Escrivá to the University of Navarra: John Paul II stated: “Love for our Lady is a constant characteristic of the life of Josemaría Escrivá.” 
 Below is an excerpt from the writings of St. Josemaria which can help us identify a lack of humility in ourselves.
Allow me to remind you that among other evident signs of a lack of humility are:
  1. Thinking that what you do or say is better than what others do or say
  2. Always wanting to get your own way
  3. Arguing when you are not right or — when you are — insisting stubbornly or with bad manners
  4. Giving your opinion without being asked for it, when charity does not demand you to do so
  5. Despising the point of view of others
  6. Not being aware that all the gifts and qualities you have are on loan
  7. Not acknowledging that you are unworthy of all honour or esteem, even the ground you are treading on or the things you own
  8. Mentioning yourself as an example in conversation
  9. Speaking badly about yourself, so that they may form a good opinion of you, or contradict you
  10. Making excuses when rebuked
  11. Hiding some humiliating faults from your director, so that he may not lose the good opinion he has of you
  12. Hearing praise with satisfaction, or being glad that others have spoken well of you
  13. Being hurt that others are held in greater esteem than you
  14. Refusing to carry out menial tasks
  15. Seeking or wanting to be singled out
  16. Letting drop words of self-praise in conversation, or words that might show your honesty, your wit or skill, your professional prestige…
  17. Being ashamed of not having certain possessions…
St. Josemaria, pray for us!

Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary Day 16

Friday, September 18, 2015

Pope Francis: Never lose trust in the Mercy of God

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

Pope Francis on Divine Mercy Sunday, 2013

God Calls Us to Intimacy With Him

The following comes from the Catholic Exchange:

God’s fiery determination to have a people He could call “His own” has been evidenced to you in every covenant He made with the Jews, for no matter who the mediator was, the sacred pact always closed with the words: “and they shall be my people, and I will be their God.”
But what deference God shows to man’s free will! He had dowered man with liberty. He will never take back that gift. He will invite and even call. But He will force no man to accept. To date, man’s response has been none too gracious and none too generous. Yet we know that God’s determination is to know final fulfillment, for St. John, at the close of the book of Revelation, shares with us his vision of the “new Heaven and the new earth” and allows us to hear the voice from the throne exclaiming, “How wonderful! God’s dwelling place is among men; he shall make His home among them. They shall be His people, and God Himself shall abide in their midst.”
That is the future that not only explains all past history for you, but tells you very exactly just what is going on at present. God is building His “new Jerusalem”; He is fashioning His “new Heaven” and His “new earth”; He is shaping a people He can call His very own, and you are one of them!
The blindness of many modern historians is equaled and occasionally surpassed only by the ignorance of commentators on current events. Although they see precisely what is happening, they have no idea of exactly what is going on; or in the events that pass before their eyes, they never note the strong hand of God.
You are a child of this very confused century, but you need never be the least bit confused. All you need to do is realize that the tempo of modern times, which lately has been elevated higher than the speed of sound, means only that the hammer of God is falling faster, the marble moves beneath His chisel, and the statue is all but stepping forth from the cold stone. In all truth, the city of God is being built rapidly, and the people of God are crowding in!
That is why it can be said that in all mankind’s long history, there was never a more glorious time in which to be alive, for God is nearer now than you know! If Moses, in what was very like his last will and testament, could say, “No other nation is so great; no other nation has gods that draw near it, as our God draws near to us,” what must you say of yourself and your fellow Catholics who this day form the Mystical Body of Christ, with God’s only Son as your Head and the Blessed Trinity’s Third Person as your Soul?
How almost infinitely distant was God from His Chosen People under the Old Covenant when compared with the divine intimacy granted you under the New! They heard His voice from a burning bush; you have seen His Word, clothed in your own flesh, walking your own dusty earth. They received two tablets of stone that held ten stern commands, and they were given these amid the thunder and lightning of Sinai; you have been given a Law of Love. It came to you from a human heart that had broken out of love, but which was, nonetheless, the Sacred Heart of God.
They had a “cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night”; you have Emmanuel — God with you! They fed on manna and quail, and drank water that gushed from a rock, but they died; you eat the Living Bread that came down from Heaven — and you will live forever. They had the Ark of the Covenant, which was made of purest gold, but it held only a vessel of manna, the tables of the Law, and Aaron’s rod; you have Jesus Christ in person — Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity — tenting in your tabernacle under the guise of a tiny white Host. They had promises; you have fulfillment. They looked on symbols, and shadows; you look on substance. They had men of God who were truly His messengers; but you have God Himself and Him whom He sent — His only Son — plus the Holy Spirit. They had the Temple of God, which had a Holy of Holies; but you are God’s temple and are to be holy with God’s own sanctity.
This last is the reality that proves beyond all doubt or quibble that the most startling and marvelous thing on the face of the earth at this moment is the Holy Roman Catholic Church — the Mystical Body of Christ, God’s Chosen People, of which you are one! For to be holy with God’s own holiness is very truly “something out of this world.”

God invites you to oneness with Him

St. Bernard of Clairvaux clarified it more when he took as his text: “Let Him kiss me with the kiss of His mouth” and explained the deepest drive in man — a drive about which your present-day depth psychologists know so little. He told his monks that what the human soul desires in this “Kiss of God” is the infusion of the Holy Spirit, for it is the Holy Spirit who can transform the soul and bring it to supreme happiness.
“The Son reveals Himself and the Father to whom He pleases,” says the saint. “But the revelation is made by a Kiss, that is, by the Holy Spirit, as the Apostle bears witness when he says, ‘But to us God has revealed them by His Spirit. . . .’ By this revelation, the Holy Spirit not only communicates the light of knowledge, but kindles in the soul the flames of love. Hence the words of St. Paul: ‘The charity of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who is given to us.’ ”
Knowledge and love — how St. Bernard insisted on these two! By his insistence, he was giving his monks the anatomy of their souls. Bernard showed how both faculties could be filled by being kissed with the “Kiss of His mouth” — God the Holy Spirit. Then he proved himself a real psychologist by adding, “If you are a slave, you will fear the face of the Lord. If you are a hireling, you will hope that He will hire you. If you are a disciple, you will attend to the instructions of your Master. If you are a son, you will honor your Father. But if you are a lover, you will ask your Beloved for a kiss!”
What a climax! And how expertly defended: “In the human soul,” says Bernard, “love holds the first place among all the affections.” Then he describes the kind of love you should have: “She loves with an ardent love who is so inebriated with love that she loses sight of the Majesty of her Beloved. What! She dares to ask for a kiss from Him who ‘looketh upon the earth and maketh it tremble!’ Is she drunk? Obviously! And fully drunk!”
Read the rest here.