Monday, November 30, 2015

Lament by Audrey Assad


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

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

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

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

Fr. George Rutler on Advent

The following comes from Fr. Rutler:

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

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

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

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

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

Saint of the day: Andrew the Apostle


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

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

The First Called, Apostle to Greece and Beyond

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

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

The First Called, Wonderworker

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

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

The Crucifixion of the First Called

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

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

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

Re-burial in Constaninople

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

Patron Saint of Scotland

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

Novena to The Immaculate Conception: Day 2

No one could adequately describe Don Bosco's love for Our Lady. His devotion to her came second only to his devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and he continually fostered it with visible filial love, whether preaching, hearing confessions, or talking informally. He seemed to live only for her. He often visited her shrines, and he always had a supply of medals and holy pictures to give away especially to children. As they crowded about him, he urged them to wear the medals devoutly and pray every day to the Blessed Virgin.

Hail, Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy,
our Life, our Sweetness, and our Hope.
To Thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve.
To Thee do we send up our sighs mourning
and weeping in this valley of tears.
Turn then, most gracious Advocate,
Thine Eyes of Mercy toward us,
and after this our exile show us the
Blessed Fruit of thy Womb, Jesus.
O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.


O Mary, conceived without sin
Pray for us who have recourse to thee!

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Greek Orthodox Hymns to the Mother of God

Why Advent Should Terrify You

The following comes from the Catholic Exchange:
Every year since I was a little girl, my mother and I go to a sing-along of Handel’s incredible masterpiece, the Messiah, during Advent. We bundle up, grab our music scores, find a seat with our fellow altos, and sing our hearts out. If you’ve never really listened to the Messiah you must do it this Advent.
It begins with the words of the biblical prophets foretelling the coming of Our Lord. Then it draws from St. Luke’s Gospel and shares the joy of the Nativity. It masterfully weaves Scripture together to carry the listener to Calvary and on to the Resurrection. It’s beautiful. And if you can sit through a performance with dry eyes, you’re not paying enough attention.
Each year I notice something that’s never struck me before and last year, it was the words of the prophets. These were the words that surprised me:
Thus saith the Lord, the Lord of hosts: Yet once a little while and I will shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land. And I will shake all nations; and the desire of all nations shall come. (Haggai 2: 6-7)
Well that sounds…..scary. The desire of all nations is, of course, Jesus. But what is this about shaking the heavens and the earth? That image didn’t seem to fit in with the room full of sing-alongers wearing Christmas sweaters and looking forward to snacking on cookies and punch after the performance.
I don’t enjoy being shaken up. I like to be in control. I like predictability. I like security. But that’s not what the Incarnation offers us! God himself wasn’t born of a woman to share in our humanity so that I could be comfortable. He came to shake us up. Shake us out of our apathy. Shake us out of our false security. Shake us out of our sin.
And it gets worse! As the music of the Messiah continues, a soloist stands up to sing the words of Malachi 3:2:
But who may abide the day of His coming, and who shall stand when He appeareth? For He is like a refiner’s fire.
It’s gone from scary to terrifying! When He comes, no one can stand before him. Advent, “the coming,” is not just a heart-warming event for Christmas cards–instead, we’re asked who can abide the day of His coming? For He is like a refiner’s fire, the heat that purifies precious metals, removing all that’s flawed. If He is the refiner’s fire, then we are the metal being purified. And that sounds more than uncomfortable, it sounds excruciating.
We’ve made a huge mistake. We’ve made the Incarnation safe and comfortable. We like it warm and fuzzy with soft lambs bleating as they rest on clean hay. And, yes, it is beautiful and joyful and splendid. But we’ve sanitized it and we’ve forgotten how terrifying it is that God shares our humanity and comes like a earthquake, like a fire. To shake us up, and to purify us.
So how do we move from abject terror at the idea of the Incarnation to the Joy of Christmas? I think it has to do with letting go of the sin we cling to. We have to submit. We have to lay down our false security, our desire for control, and let Him shake us up. We have to offer our hearts to Him so that He can consume all our sin with the fire of his immeasurable love until we are stripped of all impurity. And it won’t happen in just one Advent season. We’re looking at a lifetime.

And who can stand when he appeareth?

As I meditated on this verse, I considered the image of Our Lady at the Annunciation, kneeling and saying “be it unto me according to thy word.” Who can stand? We certainly cannot. But we can kneel like Mary, giving our own “fiat” and offering our hearts to be shaken up and our sin to be burned away.
The first Sunday of Advent is called Stir Up Sunday as the opening collect of the Mass is “Stir up Thy might, we beg Thee, and come.” Are we ready to say that prayer? May we be prepared to desire His coming, be shaken, and be consumed by the fire of his love. May He stir up our hearts this Advent and mold us into what he desires us to be.

Novena to the Immaculate Conception: Day 1

For Don Bosco the promulgation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception had been the answer to many prayers and Masses he had said to hasten this long awaited definition. Now he continued to pray to and thank the Lord for having so glorified the Queen of Angels and men. The Feast of the Immaculate Conception became his favorite feast!

Hail, Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy,
our Life, our Sweetness, and our Hope.
To Thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve.
To Thee do we send up our sighs mourning
and weeping in this valley of tears.
Turn then, most gracious Advocate,
Thine Eyes of Mercy toward us,
and after this our exile show us the
Blessed Fruit of thy Womb, Jesus.
O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.


O Mary, conceived without sin
Pray for us who have recourse to thee!

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

The following comes from Scott Hahn:


Readings:

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

A Prayer for Advent























An Advent Prayer by Henri J.M. Nouwen

Lord Jesus,

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

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

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

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

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

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

To you we say, "Come Lord Jesus!"


Saturday, November 28, 2015

Rascal Flatts: Everyday


St. Catherine Laboure: Saint of Silence


The following comes from Catholic Online:


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

Remembering Our Lady of Beauraing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The secrets given to the children have never been revealed.




Friday, November 27, 2015

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

St. Catherine Laboure and The Miraculous Medal

God Desires Your Love

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

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Byzantine Chants

Saint of the day: John Berchmans


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

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

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

The First Thanksgiving


The following comes from the Freedomkeys website and presents a real look at the first Thanksgiving:

Did you know that the first [Plymouth Colony Pilgrim's] Thanksgiving was a celebration of the triumph of private property and individual initiative?

William Bradford was the governor of the original Pilgrim colony, founded at Plymouth in 1621. The colony was first organized on a communal basis, as their financiers required. Land was owned in common. The Pilgrims farmed communally, too, following the "from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs" precept.
 

The results were disastrous. Communism didn't work any better 400 years ago than it does today. By 1623, the colony had suffered serious losses. Starvation was imminent.
Bradford realized that the communal system encouraged and rewarded waste and laziness and inefficiency, and destroyed individual initiative. Desperate, he abolished it. He distributed private plots of land among the surviving Pilgrims, encouraging them to plant early and farm as individuals, not collectively.

The results: a bountiful early harvest that saved the colonies. After the harvest, the Pilgrims celebrated with a day of Thanksgiving -- on August 9th.
 
Psalm 111

Praise the Lord. I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart, in the company of the upright, in the congregation. Great are the works of the Lord, studied by all who have pleasure in them. Full of honor and majesty is his work, and his righteousness endures for ever. He has caused his wonderful works to be remembered; the Lord is gracious and merciful. He provides food for those who fear him; he is ever mindful of his covenant. He has shown his people the power of his works, in giving them the heritage of the nations. The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy, they are established for ever and ever, to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness. He sent redemption to his people; he has commanded his covenant for ever. Holy and terrible is his name! The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have all those who practice it. His praise endures for ever!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Thanksgiving: A heart fully alive!


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

Psalm 100

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

The Crazy Prophets of the Old Testament

shutterstock_43441954
The following comes from the Catholic Exchange:
The prophets are among the oddest and most eccentric characters of the Old Testament. 
That might actually be an understatement. Put bluntly, the behavior of Old Testament prophets was so bizarre that by today’s secular standards of sanity they would end up institutionalized, or, at the very least, in some form of intensive therapy.
Consider Isaiah, who stripped off all his clothes and wandered around naked (Isaiah 20). Or Jeremiah, who not only hid his underwear in a rock but then went back to retrieve it after a “long time” (Jeremiah 13). Jeremiah apparently didn’t mind parting with under garments, but he couldn’t be separated from the cattle yoke he had fastened to his shoulders until another prophet broke it off (Jeremiah 27 and 28). Yet another eyebrow-raiser was Hosea, who married a prostitute and named their daughter Lo-ruhama, which means ‘unloved’ (Hosea 1).
Then there was Jonah, the run-away prophet who spent three days in the belly of a whale before answering God’s call. When he eventually got around to preaching in Nineveh, the entire city repented. For any other preacher this would have been a joyous outcome. But Jonah—a prophetic Puddleglum if ever there was one—was so upset that his doomsday prophecy wasn’t fulfilled that he begged God to kill him, a request that went unanswered.
Jonah then went into denial. Convinced that a local apocalypse was still in the works, he left the city and picked a vantage point from which he might safely watch the whole fire-and-brimstone show. Jonah had no pity for the Ninevites, but when a small bush that had been sheltering him from the scorching-hot sun died, he went berserk, asking God once again to just end his misery.
But the weirdest of the lot may be Ezekiel. After witnessing a vision of God flanked by four chimerical creatures, the prophet ate a scroll that had been given to him (Ezekiel 1 and 3). Ezekiel was called to be a prophet, but his ministry initially did not involve any prophetic words, as God had rendered him mute (Ezekiel 3). Instead he took to drawing, depicting an image of Jerusalem under siege on a clay tablet. Then he lied down on his side, with an iron pan separating him from his clay art. After 390 days had passed, Ezekiel rolled over and repeated (Ezekiel 4).
After his clay tablet stunt was over, Ezekiel went new diet of barley cakes baked over cow manure (Ezekiel 4). Next Ezekiel used a sword—yes, you read that right, an actual sword—to shave off his beard, dividing his hairs into thirds. He set one third on fire. He scattered another third around the city and stabbed it with his sword. He threw the remaining third into the wind. But the hair histrionics were far from over: Ezekiel had saved a few hairs from such abuse, which he sewed into his clothing. Then he burned some of those hairs too (Ezekiel 5).
The weird stuff didn’t stop when Ezekiel finally started speaking. In Ezekiel 6, he prophesies against the mountains. Six chapters later, he goes into lurid detail—at least by biblical standards—about the sexual depravity of two sister prostitutes. Later, he prophesies over dry bones in a valley. As Ezekiel stands speaking to his captive audience, he has a vision of the bones coming to life (Ezekiel 37).
One crucial detail has been omitted in these accounts: the actions of Ezekiel, Hosea, Jeremiah, and Isaiah were commanded by God, which means that we cannot dismiss their behavior. Indeed, these men were not prophets in spite of their eccentricities. Rather, their actions were at the center of their ministry. In the Scriptures, they are explained as symbolic acts that convey divine messages along with their words. For example, the stripping of Isaiah symbolized the future humiliation of Egypt and Ethiopia at the hands of Assyrian conquerors. Jeremiah’s yoke signified the servitude of the Jews to Babylonia while Ezekiel’s dung-warmed meals foreshadowed their exile, where they would be forced to eat unclean food.
Jonah might seem an exception to all this, but God ended up using his wayward journey to symbolize Christ’s sacrifice and three-day descent into hell.
Looking back on Jonah and the others from the perspective of the New Testament we begin to see a sort of harmony between their bizarre behavior and their prophecies of both doom and deliverance. There is an incarnational logic to their ministries: these prophets were not just speakers of the word—they lived it out in their lives, through their actions, their choice of clothing, and even their very bodies. They are thus witnesses to how totally transforming and disruptive the Word of God can be when we let it consume our whole lives.
Now, this message may not have been as clear to the Jews of their day and those living in the centuries immediately afterwards. And the mystery of the prophets would have only deepened when all prophecy suddenly ceased with Malachi, ushering in 400 years of silence.
But, with the coming of Christ, we can look back at these prophets and see them as foreshadowing Him—not just through the prophecies that told of His coming, but through their prophetic actions. Christ was, after all, the Word Made Flesh in the fullest and richest manner possible. And, like the prophets, Christ’s behavior was utterly bizarre, disruptive, and confusing according to conventional social standards of the day. This was, after all, someone who promised to rebuild the temple in three days, dined with prostitutes and tax collectors, drove demons into a herd of swine, healed a blind man by rubbing mud in his eyes, and once walked on water.
It doesn’t get weirder than that.

Blessed Maria Troncatti: Missionary Salesian

The following comes from the Salesian News Agency:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Quotable Ratzinger

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

--Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) in 1970

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 23, 2015

Cristo Rey, Blessed Miguel Agustin Pro and the Cristeros


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Paul Harvey: "If I were the Devil"

Sunday, November 22, 2015

This Is Hardly the Stuff of Kingship ... Or Is It?

The following comes from Zenit.org:

Today's solemn feast of Christ the King, the grand finale to Liturgical Year C, gives us an opportunity to lay aside a lot of cultural baggage about kings and kingdoms, and discover how Jesus Christ can be a true king, unlike earthly rulers.

Over the past year, we have seen the important Lukan theme of the imitation of Jesus, especially in his ministry of forgiveness and reconciliation. In Luke's moving Gospel story of the crucifixion, this theme reaches its apex.

Jesus' final moments

Today's Gospel (23:35-43) is recounted only by Luke. The penitent sinner receives salvation through the crucified Jesus. Luke's moving scene of the crucifixion is filled with details typical of his portrayal of Jesus. He is crucified with the two criminals surrounding him, fulfilling Jesus' own prediction at the supper table (23:37). Just as Jesus had repeatedly taught his disciples not to respond to violence with more violence and to be forgiving, so he forgives the very men who had condemned him and who drive the stakes into his body (23:34).

When one of the crucified criminals joins in the chorus of derision that accompanies Jesus to his death, the other confesses his sin and asks for mercy (23:39-43). It is Luke's prescription for authentic conversion as exemplified in the story of publican and the sinner (18:9-14) and so Jesus promises this man not only forgiveness but also a place at his side that very day as his journey to God triumphantly reaches its home in paradise.

Only Luke describes this poignant scene (23:39-43): One of the criminals who hung alongside Christ derided him, saying, "Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!" But the other rebuked the other criminal, saying, "Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong." This one then said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." Christ replied, "Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise."

The image of the dying Jesus jars us with such a sense of shame and powerlessness in Luke, who describes the death of the Son of God, the King of the Jews. Luke gives us a lexicon of abuse and humiliation: criminals, condemnation, crucifixion, nakedness, scoffing, mocking, taunting, deriding, reviling, sneering ... hardly the stuff of kingship, and no crowns here except one of thorns. We are face-to-face with agony and grief, and a cacophony of insults instead of songs and praise.

A kingship that embraces

Kingship, when God is involved, does not ask people to ignore the failures, but embraces those experiences and redeems them. Throughout salvation history, God's promise to the people was a king who is righteous, deals wisely, executes justice and righteousness in the land, and enables the people to live securely. In Jesus, God has fulfilled that promise.

In the story of Jesus, kingship is recast. The miracle lies in the fact that God shares the potential hopelessness of the human situation, but does so as king, as the source of our hope and life. That is what the criminal on the cross with Jesus in today's Gospel scene (23:35-43) partly grasped. He asked Jesus to remember him when he came into his kingdom. He was looking to a future reign, but Jesus handed out the royal pardon immediately. This was simply the culmination of the way Jesus lived: He never dressed as we think a king should, or did things properly by our standards. Jesus' kingdom is unlike the one that Pilate knows and is willingly or unwillingly part of. The Roman kingdom was one of arbitrariness, privileges, domination, vengeance, vindictiveness, and occupation. Jesus' kingdom is built on love, service, justice, reconciliation and peace.

Very few can measure up to Christ's kingly stature, remaining powerless in the face of the powerful. Many of us resist with power, even though we resort to very refined forms of pressure and manipulation. As we contemplate Christ crucified, we understand something of why Christ has remained a king, even up to modern times: He didn't bow down. He never responded to violence with more violence. He forgave until the end.

God's agent in history

Today's second reading from Paul's letter to the Colossians (1:12-20) is a summary about redemption by God the Father. The imagery echoes the Exodus experience and Jesus' theme of the kingdom. Redemption in this text is explained as forgiveness of sins (cf. Acts 2:38; Romans 3:24-25; Ephesians 1:7).

The lines of this reading are most likely an early Christian hymn, known to the Colossians and taken up into the letter from liturgical use. They present Christ as the mediator of creation (1:15-18a) and of redemption (Colossians 1:18b-20). Christ (though not mentioned by name) is preeminent and supreme as God's agent in the creation of all things, as prior to all things.

There is a second, very important point at the heart of this section of Paul's letter to the Colossians. Pauline usage is to speak of the church as the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12-27; Romans 12:4-5). Some think that the author of Colossians has inserted the reference to the church here so as to define "head of the body" in Paul's customary way. When Christ was raised by God as firstborn from the dead (cf. Acts 26:23; Rev 1:5), he was placed over the community, the church, that he had brought into being, but he is also indicated as crown of the whole new creation, over all things. His further role is to reconcile all things (Colossians 1:20) for God or possibly "to himself." The blood of his cross (20) is the most specific reference in the hymn to redemption through Christ's death, a central theme in Paul (cf. Colossians 2:14-15; 1 Corinthians 1:17, 18, 23).

The kingdom and the Church

As we celebrate the feast of Christ's kingship today, let me leave you with this one thought that has been on my mind for the past year in particular. If we follow the example of the prophets of ancient Israel who worked within the framework of the structures of the faith of God's people of their day, then we in our day cannot marginalize Christian revelation and its ecclesial transmission by proposing a non-Christian vision where misuse of the terminology "Kingdom or Reign of God" is a substitute for Jesus Christ and his Church. The Church is the necessary vehicle, and privileged instrument for us to encounter Jesus Christ, to receive his life through the sacraments, to hear his Word mediated through preaching and the interpretation of the Church, and to journey toward the fullness of the kingdom of heaven, which lies ahead of us.

Jesus Christ is our great prophet. He is the only full revelation of God and he is the Lord and Savior of all men and women. We must be watchful and vigilant that the Christian terminology is never emptied of its theological meaning so as to be better integrated into a "vision" or a supposedly "new wisdom" of this age.

On this great feast, let us remember that Jesus took his wounds to heaven, and there is a place in heaven for our wounds because our king bears his in glory. Perhaps we need to cry out: "Where are you, God?" And today we are given the answer: God is hanging on a tree, in the broken body of a young man -- arms outstretched to embrace us, and gently asking us to climb up onto the cross with him, and look at the world from an entirely new perspective. Or perhaps we need to cry out for mercy, asking that he not forget us in the New Jerusalem: "Jesus, remember me, when you come into your kingdom."

And from the depth of our own darkness and shadows, we might have to pray with the Cleopas and his companion on the road to Emmaus, "Stay with us, Lord, for it is almost evening and the day is far spent." Or maybe in the midst of our despair, we recognize the source of our hope and echo the words of Jesus, "Father, into your hands I commend my spirit."

What a strange form of kingship Christ offers us today! May today's feast force us to remember the appalling fact of our salvation. When all around us seems to be darkness, destruction, night, and even death, let us never forget that we are not alone. In our midst hangs the Crucified One, arms outstretched in loving mercy and welcome. May we have the courage to ask our benevolent king to remember us in his kingdom, and the peace to know that paradise is already in our midst even when every external sign indicates darkness and death. This is abundant life on the Royal Road of the Cross.

[The readings for the solemnity of Christ the King are 2 Samuel 5:1-3; Colossians 1:12-20; Luke 23:35-43]