Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Here's My Heart Lord by Crowder

Pope Francis on Preparing for Confession

(CNS)  As Catholics are encouraged to make going to confession a significant part of their lives during Lent, Pope Francis offered some quick tips to help people prepare for the sacrament of penance.

After a brief explanation of why people should go to confession -- "because we are all sinners" -- the pope listed 30 key questions to reflect on as part of making an examination of conscience and being able to "confess well."


The guide is part of a 28-page booklet in Italian released by the Vatican publishing house. Pope Francis had 50,000 free copies distributed to people attending his Angelus address Feb. 22, the first Sunday of Lent.

Titled "Safeguard your heart," the booklet is meant to help the faithful become "courageous" and prepared to battle against evil and choose the good.

The booklet contains quick introductions to Catholic basics: it has the text of the Creed, a list of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, the Ten Commandments and the Beatitudes. It explains the seven sacraments and includes Pope Francis' explanation of "lectio divina," a prayerful way of reading Scripture in order to better hear "what the Lord wants to tell us in his word and to let us be transformed by his Spirit."

The booklet's title is based on a line from one of the pope's morning Mass homilies in which he said Christians need to guard and protect their hearts, "just as you protect your home -- with a lock."

"How often do bad thoughts, bad intentions, jealousy, envy enter?" he asked. "Who opened the door? How did those things get in?"

The Oct. 10, 2014, homily, which is excerpted in the booklet, said the best way to guard one's heart is with the daily practice of an "examination of conscience," in which one quietly reviews what bad things one has done and what good things one has failed to do for God, one's neighbor and oneself.

The questions include:

-- Do I only turn to God when I'm in need?

-- Do I take attend Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation?

-- Do I begin and end the day with prayer?

-- Am I embarrassed to show that I am a Christian?

-- Do I rebel against God's plan?

-- Am I envious, hot-tempered, biased?

-- Am I honest and fair with everyone or do I fuel the "throwaway culture?"

-- In my marital and family relations, do I uphold morality as taught in the Gospels?

-- Do I honor and respect my parents?

-- Have I refused newly conceived life? Have I snuffed out the gift of life? Have I helped do so?

-- Do I respect the environment?

-- Am I part worldly and part believer?

-- Do I overdo it with eating, drinking, smoking and amusements?

-- Am I overly concerned about my physical well-being, my possessions?

-- How do I use my time? Am I lazy?

-- Do I want to be served?

-- Do I dream of revenge, hold grudges?

-- Am I meek, humble and a builder of peace?

Catholics should go to confession, the pope said, because everyone needs forgiveness for their sins, for the ways "we think and act contrary to the Gospel."

"Whoever says he is without sin is a liar or is blind," he wrote.

Confession is meant to be a sincere moment of conversion, an occasion to demonstrate trust in God's willingness to forgive his children and to help them back on the path of following Jesus, Pope Francis wrote.

Blessed Alexandria Maria da Costa: Victim Soul of Fatima

The following comes from Unity Publishing: 


There are many stories of Fatima and for everything to be told would be like an Encyclopaedia.  One of these stories will be better known on April 25, 2004 when Pope John Paul II declares Alexandrina blessed.  If you do not know her story, you can get a great book from Tan Book and Publishers called "Alexandrina, The Agony and The Glory" by Francis Johnson.   

Some of the pilgrimages which go to Fatima visit the town of Balasar north of Fatima.  It became famous in 1832 when the earth changed to form the appearance of a large cross which you can still see today inside a chapel which has been built over it.  Almost exactly 100 years later in the same town, Alexandrina Maria da Costa started suffering the passion of Jesus in answer to the request of Our Lady of Fatima.  She ended her life living on the Eucharist alone for the last thirteen years.  

Alexandrina was born in April 1904.  In 1918, the year after the apparitions of Fatima, Alexandrina and her sister Deolinda and another girl were home when three men knocked at the door, one of whom had previously tried to molest Alexandrina.  They broke into the house.  Alexandrina (to preserve her chastity) jumped from an upstairs window.  The men fled but Alexandrina’s spine had been irreparably injured and she had to remain in bed for the rest of her life.  The slightest movement caused her intense pain.  She began to grow closer and closer to the Lord and realised that she was suffering in a special way for the salvation of souls.  She received Holy Communion every day and her thoughts frequently turned to Jesus in the tabernacle.  

She went into her first ecstasy in 1931 when she heard Jesus say to her, “Love, suffer and make reparation.”  She saw her vocation to be that of a victim soul, to make reparation for all of us.  Under the order of her spiritual director she was dictating her life’s story to her sister but many times the devil threatened her not to write any more.  In 1936 Our Lord asked her to spread the message of Fatima and to urge the consecration of the world to the Immaculate Heart and she offered herself as a victim soul for this. 

In one of her ecstasies Jesus said to her,

“Keep me company in the Blessed Sacrament.  I remain in the tabernacle night and day, waiting to give my love and grace to all who would visit me.  But so few come.  I am so abandoned, so lonely, so offended…. Many…do not believe in my existence; they do not believe that I live in the tabernacle.  They curse me.  Others believe, but do not love me and do not visit me; they live as if I were not there… You have chosen to love me in the tabernacles where you can contemplate me, not with the eyes of the body, but those of the soul.  I am truly present there as in Heaven, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity.” 

From October 1938 Alexandrina began to suffer the passion of Jesus every Friday.  She suffered the passion of Jesus 180 times.  Until 1942 she was suffering in silence without fame but after a report appeared in a newspaper from then on she was besieged by pilgrims asking for prayer.  During the Holy Week the same year Jesus said to her,

“You will not take food again on earth.  Your food will be my Flesh; your drink will be my Divine Blood …”

So on Good Friday 1942 she began an absolute fast which lasted for the more than thirteen years until her death.  The only nourishment which her body filled with pain received was Jesus in Holy Communion every morning.  News of her fast spread and the crowds became even bigger.  Some people had doubts and suspicions about her fast and accused her, her sister and mother of fraud.  Therefore she agreed to medical observation.  The doctor asked her, “Why do you not eat?”  She replied, “I do not eat because I cannot.  I feel full.  I do not need it.  However, I have a longing for food.”  It was decided that she should be admitted to a nearby hospital for a thirty day observation of her fast.  While she was in the hospital some tried to persuade her to take food.  The doctor in charge of the examination was nasty to her and at the end of the thirty days said the nurses watching her must have been deceived and decided she was to remain there for a further ten days.  They even showed her tasty food to entice her to eat.  When the test was finally over the doctor said to her he would visit her at home not as a doctor-spy but as a friend who esteems her.  Part of the medical report reads as follows:

“Her abstinence from solids and liquids was absolute during all that time.  We testify also that she retained her weight, and her temperature, breathing, blood pressure, pulse and blood were normal while her mental faculties were constant and lucid and she had not, during these forty days, any natural necessities…The laws of physiology and biochemistry cannot account for the survival of this sick woman…”

While medical science could not explain, the explanation was simple.  Jesus had said to Alexandrina,

“You are living by the Eucharist alone because I want to prove to the world the power of the Eucharist and the power of my life in souls.”

She died on 13th October 1955, having received nourishment only from Holy Communion for more than thirteen years.  Some of the pilgrimages to Fatima visit her town Balasar and you can visit her house, see her room and visit the local Church where she is buried to the left of the altar.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Bishop Barron on the Spiritual Legacy of Mother Angelica

The following comes from Word on Fire:
Mother Angelica, one of the most significant figures in the post-conciliar Catholic Church in America, has died after a fourteen-year struggle with the after effects of a stroke. I can attest that, in “fashionable” Catholic circles during the eighties and nineties of the last century, it was almost de rigueur to make fun of Mother Angelica. She was a crude popularizer, an opponent of Vatican II, an arch-conservative, a culture-warrior, etc., etc. And yet while her critics have largely faded away, her impact and influence are uncontestable. Against all odds and expectations, she created an evangelical vehicle without equal in the history of the Catholic Church. Starting from, quite literally, a garage in Alabama, EWTN now reaches 230 million homes in over 140 countries around the world. With the possible exception of John Paul II himself, she was the most watched and most effective Catholic evangelizer of the last fifty years.
Read Raymond Arroyo’s splendid biography in order to get the full story of how Rita Rizzo, born and raised in a tough neighborhood in Canton, Ohio, came in time to be a nun, a foundress, and a television personality. For the purposes of this brief article, I would like simply to draw attention to three areas of particular spiritual importance in the life of Mother Angelica: her trust in God’s providence, her keen sense of the supernatural quality of religion, and her conviction that suffering is of salvific value.
The accounts of the beginning of EWTN read like the stories of some of the great saintly founders of movements and orders within the Church. Mother had a blithe confidence that if God called her to do something, he would provide what was needed. Her right hand man, Deacon Bill Steltemeier, a lawyer and businessman who would prove indispensable in getting the operation of EWTN off the ground, came to her in the most remarkable way. While in Chicago for a convention, he saw a flyer advertising a speech at a local parish by a nun whom he did not know. For some reason, he felt compelled to attend. Despite typically horrific Chicago winter weather and though he had no real idea where he was going, he made it to the parish and caught the second half of the nun’s presentation. Just as she was finishing up, he heard a voice saying quietly but insistently, “until the day you die.” The nun, of course, was Mother Angelica. Deacon Bill interrupted his prosperous legal career, drove to Alabama, and presented himself to Mother, who calmly said, “I’ve been expecting you!” The voice, by the way, proved prophetic, for Deacon Bill died just a few years ago, having indeed served EWTN literally until his last day. 
Some years later, Mother ordered a giant satellite dish in order dramatically to increase the reach of her network. When the device arrived, the driver of the truck demanded the money on the spot. Mother asked to be excused for a few minutes and went to her chapel to pray: Lord, I thought you wanted this satellite thing; now give me the money I need!” As she went out to speak to the driver, one of her sisters ran up announcing, “There is a man on the phone who says he wants to give you a donation.” It was a gentlemen calling from a yacht in the Bahamas who said he suddenly had the inspiration to send Mother Angelica $600,000!
The second theme upon which I’d like to focus is her instinct for the supernatural dimension of Christianity. Now I realize that such an instinct might seem rather obvious, but in the immediately post-conciliar years there was indeed a tendency to naturalize the supernatural, to reduce Christianity to the works of social justice and the cultivation of psychological well-being. Mother knew that a de-supernaturalized Christianity would in short order lose its soul and, paradoxically, its relevance to the world. Accordingly, she brought to the fore prayer, liturgy, the sacraments, sacramentals, the saints, adoration of the Eucharist, spiritual warfare, etc. And as someone who worked in the seminary world for twenty years, I can testify that this is precisely what made her talks and programs attractive to a younger generation of Catholics, who found much of liberal Catholicism indistinguishable from secular political and self-help programs. 
The third and final motif I would stress is Mother Angelica’s penetrating understanding of the value of suffering. As Arroyo’s biography makes eminently clear, Mother endured tremendous suffering, both physical and psychological, most of her life, and she appreciated these trials as opportunities for spiritual growth. Nowhere was this clearer for her than in the last fourteen years of her life, as this once very vocal and active and woman accepted silence and immobility. She told one of her sisters some years ago that if she got much sicker, she wanted every possible means employed to keep her alive, not because she was clinging to life, but “because I will have suffered one more day for the love of God.” I often thought of Mother, during the last years of her life, as a kind of Mother Drexel for our time. That great foundress, after suffering a heart attack at 75, spent the last twenty years of her life praying for the order that she had established. 
Mother Angelica wasn’t perfect—and she would be the first to admit it. Due to her lack of polish and advanced theological education, she sometimes said things that were insufficiently nuanced and balanced. And her hot temper, which gave fire to her evangelization, also at times led her to indulge in ad hominem attacks and unfair characterizations of her opponents’ positions. But these are quibbles. When Church historians write their accounts of the years immediately following Vatican II, Rita Rizzo of Canton, Ohio, Mother Angelica, will find a very honored place.

Live Out Divine Mercy

The following comes from Catholic Exchange:


According to both Blessed John Paul II and Saint Faustina Maria Kowalska, the virtue of mercy is the greatest attribute in the Heart of Jesus. This being the case we should strive to understand this virtue and even more important try to live it out to the full.
Mercy could be defined as God loving and forgiving the sinner. Most clearly can this be seen in the Parable of the Prodigal Son or if you like the merciful Father—found in Luke 15. The son sinned seriously but the loving Father forgave him fully by hugging him, kissing him, placing a ring on his finger, giving him new sandals and a new cloak; and if that were not enough the father threw a huge banquet for the wayward son by killing the fatted calf amidst song and dance.
Every time we renounce and repudiate our sin and our attachment to that sin and make a good confession, God the Father showers us with many of the same graces. God becomes our loving Father, Jesus our best of brothers, the Holy Spirit our best friend and sweet guest of our soul and many more choice blessings!  Praise God for His mercy.

St Faustina and the Diary of Mercy 

The past few years there has been a growing knowledge, devotion and love for Divine mercy as communicated to us through the inspired writings of Saint Faustina Kowalska. Actually Jesus gave her as title, “The Secretary of Divine Mercy”.
To give even greater weight to this modern saint and her writings, Blessed Pope John Paul II’s first canonization in the new millennium—on Divine Mercy Sunday—was St. Faustina Kowlasksa.  Nothing happens by chance.
We would like to encourage all to embrace the beautiful and inspiring doctrine of mercy by striving to become familiar with Saint Faustina and the Diary of Mercy.
Following will be a brief summary of the major tenets of this doctrine.
1.    God is Rich in Mercy. God’s greatest attribute/virtue is His mercy. No matter how grave and numerous our sins, God is always ready and willing to forgive us if we simply say: “Jesus I am sorry and forgive me!” In a heartbeat Jesus is ready to forgive even the worst of sinners. St. Paul reminds us with these words: “Where sin abounds the mercy of God abounds all the more.” Pope Francis teaches us on mercy the following: “God never tires in forgiving us, but we become tired of asking for forgiveness!” The first canonized saint was the Good thief who pleaded for the mercy of Jesus and the merciful Savior responded: “Amen I say to you, today you will be with me in heaven.”  Fulton Sheen wryly rejoins: “And the thief died a thief because he stole heaven!”
2.    We Must Be Merciful. If we want to receive the mercy of God, then this is a two-way street, we in turn must be willing to forgive those who have hurt us and be merciful. Jesus once again teaches us: “Be merciful as your heavenly Father is merciful.”   The most renowned prayer in the world also reminds us (The Our Father). “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us…” To receive God’s mercy, we must be merciful! Not just seven times, but seventy times seven times. Meaning: always!
3.    Confession. God’s mercy is manifested most abundantly upon our soul when we have recourse to the Sacrament of Confession which can also be called the Sacrament of God’s mercy.  Jesus expresses mercy in the person of the priest. If you have not been to confession in years, return. Jesus the merciful Savior is gently and patiently waiting for you.

Are You Amazed?


Are You Amazed? from Catholic Media House on Vimeo.

Mother Angelica dies on Easter Sunday

The following comes from the Catholic Sentinel: 

Mother Mary Angelica of the Annunciation, 92, the Poor Clare nun who founded the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN), passed away on March 27 after a lengthy illness. She had suffered a stroke several months ago.

“Mother has always and will always personify EWTN, the network that God asked her to found,” said EWTN Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Michael Warsaw. “Her accomplishments and legacies in evangelization throughout the world are nothing short of miraculous and can only be attributed to divine Providence and her unwavering faithfulness to Our Lord.”

Members of her religious order, the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration at Our Lady of Angels Monastery in Hanceville, have been requesting — and thanking the world — for prayers for Mother Angelica.

"The many cards and promises of prayer she received throughout this past Christmas season were a great consolation and support," the posting said. "Mother's condition remains delicate and she receives devoted care day and night by her sisters and nurses."

"In God's providence, she was able to receive the special jubilee grace" of passing through the Door of Mercy shortly after its opening for the Jubilee Year of Mercy, it said. "Although she is most often sleeping, from time to time mother will give a radiant smile. There is no doubt that her heart must be 'on things above.'"

Last November, a spokesman for the Poor Clares told Catholic News Service, that Mother Angelica was doing as well as could be expected for someone her age who remains partially paralyzed.
"From what I'm told, it's not that she's completely unable to eat. It's assisting her to get the nutrients she needs," said Luke Johnasen, director of pilgrimages at the monastery. He confirmed to CNS that she had been fitted with a feeding tube.

"She's had some up and downs the last few months," he said. "She's a fighter."

In a website posting, the Poor Clares said that toward the close of 2015, the entire community of the Franciscan Missionaries of the Eternal Word, based in Birmingham, came together to celebrate a special Mass for Mother Angelica. It was "another gift of God's mercy. Mother herself is regularly fortified by the sacraments," the order said.

On Feb. 12, Pope Francis sent his greetings Mother Angelica from aboard the papal plane to Cuba for his historic meeting with Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill of Moscow.

"To Mother Angelica with my blessing and I ask you to pray for me; I need it," the pope said. "God bless you, Mother Angelica."

EWTN released the pope's message for Mother Angelica later that day.

A native of Canton, Ohio, Mother Angelica launched EWTN Aug. 15, 1981. The initiative was met with doubt from television executives who felt there was little demand for Catholic programming. The networks' website reports that it transmits programs 24 hours a day to more than 230 million homes in 144 countries via cable and other technologies. It broadcasts in in English and several other languages.

Twenty employees are now nearly 400. EWTN broadcasts terrestrial and shortwave radio around the world, operates a religious goods catalog and publishes the National Catholic Register and the Catholic News Agency.

“Mother Angelica succeeded at a task the nation’s bishops themselves couldn’t achieve,” said Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia told the Catholic News Agency. 

Archbishop Chaput has served on EWTN’s board of governors since 1995. “She founded and grew a network that appealed to everyday Catholics, understood their needs and fed their spirits. She had a lot of help, obviously, but that was part of her genius.”

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Christus Resurrexit

The Promise of Easter

The following comes from the Catholic Exchange:


The serpent’s bite was a deadly one.  The venom had worked its way deep into the heart of the entire human race, doing its gruesome work.  The anti-venom was unavailable until He appeared.  One drop was all that was needed, so potent was this antidote.  Yet it was not like Him to be stingy.  He poured out all he had, down to the last drop.  The sacrifice of His entire life, poured out at the foot of the cross – This was the Son’s answer to the Problem of Sin.
Three days later came the Father’s answer to the Problem of Death.  It was equally extravagant.  For Jesus was not simply brought back to life like Lazarus.  That would be resuscitation, the return to normal, human life, with all its limitations.  Including death.  Yes Lazarus ultimately had to go through it all again . . . the dying, the grieving family, the burial.  Jesus did not “come back.”  He passed over, passed through.  His resurrection meant that he would no longer be subject to death.  Death, as St. Paul said, would have no more power over him.
You may say that physical death was not the worst consequence of sin, and you’d be right.  Separation from God, spiritual death, is much more fearsome.  But enough with the talk that physical death is beautiful and natural.  It is not.  Our bodies are not motor vehicles driven around by our souls.  We do not junk them when they wear out and buy another one (that’s one  problem with the reincarnation idea).  Rather, are bodies are an essential dimension of who we are.  Our bodies and immortal souls are intimately intertwined, which makes us so different from both angels and animals.  Therefore death separates what God has joined.  So it is natural that we rebel against it and shudder before it.  Even the God-man trembled in the Garden.
So Jesus confronts death head on, for our sake.  The Roman Easter sequence, a traditional poem/song stretching back into the first millennium, highlights the drama:“Mors et vitae duello, conflixere mirando.  Dux vitae mortuus regnat vivus.” (“Death and life dueled in a marvelous conflict; the Dead Ruler of Life reigns Alive!”)  Gandalf the Grey who sacrificed himself to take out the Balrog, returns as Gandalf the White (Tolkein heard this sung for many Easters before he wrote The Lord of the Rings).
“He descended into Hell” of the Apostle’s Creed means that Jesus endured the wrenching of body and soul for our sakes and came out the other side endowed with a new, different, glorified humanity.  How does the Bible describe it?  Well, Mary Magdalene did not recognize the Risen Christ at first, until He called her by name.  The disciples on the road to Emmaus didn’t recognize him either.  But doubting Thomas shows us that his wounds were still evident.  And though he could pass through locked doors, he proved he was not a ghost by asking for something to eat.  Paul describes it as a “spiritual body” in I Corinthians 15, which sounds like an oxymoron to me.  But we have to take off our shoes here, realize that we are on holy ground, and that we do not have words adequate to describe the awesome reality of the new humanity he has won for us.

An Easter Sermon of St. John Chrysostom

An Easter Sermon of St. John Chrysostom:

Is there anyone who is a devout lover of God? Let them enjoy this beautiful bright festival! Is there anyone who is a grateful servant? Let them rejoice and enter into the joy of their Lord!

Are there any weary with fasting? Let them now receive their wages! If any have toiled from the first hour, let them receive their due reward; if any have come after the third hour, let him with gratitude join in the Feast! And he that arrived after the sixth hour, let him not doubt; for he too shall sustain no loss. And if any delayed until the ninth hour, let him not hesitate; but let him come too. And he who arrived only at the eleventh hour, let him not be afraid by reason of his delay.

For the Lord is gracious and receives the last even as the first. He gives rest to him that comes at the eleventh hour, as well as to him that toiled from the first. To this one He gives, and upon another He bestows. He accepts the works as He greets the endeavor. The deed He honors and the intention He commends.

Let us all enter into the joy of the Lord! First and last alike receive your reward; rich and poor, rejoice together! Sober and slothful, celebrate the day!

You that have kept the fast, and you that have not, rejoice today for the Table is richly laden! Feast royally on it, the calf is a fatted one. Let no one go away hungry. Partake, all, of the cup of faith. Enjoy all the riches of His goodness!

Let no one grieve at his poverty, for the universal kingdom has been revealed. Let no one mourn that he has fallen again and again; for forgiveness has risen from the grave. Let no one fear death, for the Death of Our Saviour has set us free. He has destroyed it by enduring it. He destroyed Hades when He descended into it. He put it into an uproar even as it tasted of His flesh. Isaiah foretold this when he said, “You, O Hell, have been troubled by encountering Him below.”

Hell was in an uproar because it was done away with. It was in an uproar because it is mocked. It was in an uproar, for it is destroyed. It is in an uproar, for it is annihilated. It is in an uproar, for it is now made captive. Hell took a body, and discovered God. It took earth, and encountered Heaven. It took what it saw, and was overcome by what it did not see.

O death, where is thy sting? O Hades, where is thy victory?

Christ is Risen, and you, O death, are annihilated! Christ is Risen, and the evil ones are cast down! Christ is Risen, and the angels rejoice! Christ is Risen, and life is liberated! Christ is Risen, and the tomb is emptied of its dead; for Christ having risen from the dead, is become the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep.

To Him be Glory and Power forever and ever. Amen!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

The Lord has Risen!

The following poem from the second century priest Melito of Sardes (Asia Minor) praises the Resurrection:

Trembling for joy cries all creation;
What is this mystery, so great and new?
The Lord has risen from among the dead,
And Death itself He crushed with valiant foot.
Behold the cruel tyrant bound and chained,
And man made free by Him who rose!

Fr. Robert Barron: Why did Jesus have to die the way he did?

Between the sadness of the Cross and the joy of Easter


The following comes from Fr. Thomas Rosica at Salt and Light:

Holy Saturday is a day of grief and mourning, of patient waiting and hoping. With Mary and the disciples, we grieve the death of the most important member of our Christian community. The faith of Mary and the disciples was strongly challenged on that first Holy Saturday as they awaited the resurrection.
When the full impact of the death of friends and loved ones fully hits us, it has the potential to stun, dull, and crush the human heart. It can immobilize us from action and thought. If we are people without faith and hope, the experience of confusion, grief and loss has the potential to kill us.
Today we reflect on that period of confusion and silence, between the sadness of the cross and the joy of Easter. From the bewilderment of Jesus’ disciples to the great faith of Mary, we examine our own lives in light of the great “Sabbath of Time” and draw courage from Mary’s example to face the future with deep hope, patience, love and interior peace.
At the end of this long day of waiting, we celebrate the mother of all liturgies, a true feast for the senses. The Church gathers in darkness and lights a new fire and a great candle that will make this night bright for us. We listen to our ancient Scriptures: stories of creation, Abraham and Isaac, Moses and Miriam and the crossing of the sea, poems of promise and rejoicing, and the story of the empty tomb. We see, hear, taste, feel the newness of God in Jesus Christ, risen from the dead. In the “Mother of all liturgies” the past and present meet, death and life embrace and life is triumphant; we reject evil and renew our baptismal promises to God.
On Holy Saturday, many of us are far too busy with Easter preparations to reflect on the significance of this day. We do not take the necessary time to grieve, ponder and enter into the mind and heart of Mary and the disciples on that first Holy Saturday.
I am very grateful to one of my good friends and Basilian confrères, Father Robert Crooker, CSB, who taught me years ago about the mystery and meaning of Holy Saturday. Father Crooker is a retired professor of Canon Law from our Basilian University of St. Thomas in Houston, Texas. Though now in his 80s, this priest is a great example of one who has remained “evergreen” in his faith, spirituality, outlook and love of the Church. He is one of those special persons with whom one can discuss the deepest spiritual and religious matters in simple, profound, wise and always hopeful ways.
Father Crooker sent me the following text back in 1990, which I have read on every Holy Saturday since. His words can help us appreciate more deeply the significance of this great day of watching and waiting.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Worthy is the Lamb


The Passion of the Christ - Worthy Is The Lamb from JT on Vimeo.

Fr. Benedict Groeschel: Good Friday

O Lord, deal not with us according to our sins

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Litany of Humility


O Jesus! meek and humble of heart, Hear me.
From the desire of being esteemed, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being loved, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being extolled, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being honored, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being praised, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being preferred to others, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being consulted, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being approved, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being humiliated, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being despised, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of suffering rebukes, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being calumniated, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being forgotten, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being ridiculed, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being wronged, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being suspected, Deliver me, Jesus.
That others may be loved more than I, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be esteemed more than I, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That, in the opinion of the world, others may increase and I may decrease, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be chosen and I set aside, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be praised and I unnoticed, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be preferred to me in everything, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.


A prayer composed by Rafael Cardinal Merry del Val.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Our Lady’s Message for Belgium: Beauraing and Banneux

The following comes from the Catholic Exchange:

With a heavy heart, I learned of the terrorist attacks in Brussels that occurred yesterday, March 22.  Belgium is a country that found a place in my heart after I visited that great nation in January 2015.  Among the reasons why I journeyed to Belgium is that lot of my research has focused on one particular Belgian woman named Adele Brise, who immigrated to the United States and then, in 1859, received three apparitions of the Queen of Heaven. I traced Adele’s footsteps in Belgium as I visited the places pertinent to her life, but I was also there to research an obscure devotion to Mary, as well as to better understand the Marian devotions of Belgium.
I had the opportunity to make a pilgrimage to the two great Marian shrines of Belgium, Beauraing and Banneux, where Mary had appeared in 1932 and 1933 respectively. In Mary’s apparitions at these two places she appeared to children and delivered very simple messages. Yet, these were profound messages that are not merely for those living in 1930’s Belgium and Mary’s words can still inspire people today. Mary gave a message to Belgium and now—in this time of mourning—it is time to revisit those messages.

Our Lady of Beauraing

In the village of Beauraing, Mary appeared thirty three times between November 29, 1932 and January 3, 1933 to the Degeimbre and Voisin children.  The messages Mary spoke to the children were to encourage them to be good and to also pray often.
Many have seen Beauraing as a continuation of Fatima for a few reasons. First, Mary appeared in Fatima during the World War I and Beauraing occurred several years before World War II.  So it was that during The Second World War, Beauraing was a sanctuary of prayer that many flocked to during that bloody conflict.  Secondly, Mary revealed her heart to the children, as a golden heart. During Mary’s apparitions at Fatima in 1917, she requested that the children pray the rosary for peace in the world and she also emphasized devotion to her Immaculate heart.
The message of Beauraing rings loud today for the Belgian people in the midst of secularism and terrorism.  Mary wanted people to pray often and always.  Surely, in light of the recent attacks, there are reasons to pray: for those who died; for those who were injured; for law enforcement and emergency personnel; for those who carried out the attacks, and for peace in the world. Speaking to Fernand, one of the children, Mary asked her, “Do you love my son? Do you love me? Well then, sacrifice yourself for me.” A good challenge for us in our own prayer is to make sacrifices so that the will of God may reign in our world and then His peace can rule in all of us. We can sacrifice ourselves most especially by fasting. It is those times when we pray and make sacrifices that we may see the fulfillment of the promise of Our Lady of Beauraing, declared to Gilberte Voisin: “I [Mary] will convert sinners.”
Conversion is at the heart of every apparition of Mary and our society needs conversion. The very hearts of terrorists need conversion so they will not take innocent life. We also need conversion to turn to God and to be persistent in our prayer.
One of the descriptions given about Our Lady of Beauraing stated that she smiled often during her apparition.  Mary wants to smile on us, her children, when we strive to “be good” and to pray often.  I can only imagine that the smile of Mary has turned to sadness over the secularization of Belgium and the recent terrorist attacks. Let us then renew our prayerful efforts  so that Mary can smile, once more, over the conversion of sinners.

Our Lady of Banneux

Nearly a fortnight following the conclusion of Mary’s apparitions in Beauraing, an eleven year old girl name Mariette Beco received eight visits from Mary beginning on January 15 and ending on March 2, 1933.  Due to the closeness in time of Beco’s claims and the end of the Beauraing apparitions, many thought Beco was making the apparitions up.  But these doubts would soon subside.  Just as Beauraing was seen as a continuation of Fatima, Banneux could be seen as a renewal of the message of Lourdes.  Mary appeared in similar dress as she did at Lourdes, with a blue sash, and dedicated a spring of water to healing.  Unlike Lourdes, the spring of water already existed, and was not ‘miraculously’ discovered.
Mary told Mariette that the spring was set apart for her (Mary), for all the nations, and for the sick.  Again, similar to Beauraing, Mary makes a bold claim in Banneux where she said, “I come to relieve the sick” and “I come to relieve suffering.”  Further, Mary told Mariette, “Have faith in me…I shall trust you…pray earnestly.”
The message of Banneux can console us in wake of what has happened in Belgium. The Belgian people are suffering right now in many ways. They are suffering from their decisions to contradict morality and a loss of faith but, even more so, they are presently suffering in the midst of turmoil and death caused by the recent attacks.  But Mary has come to relieve that suffering.  And it seems that the key to such relief would be doing what she asked Mariette to do: to pray earnestly and with endurance.
Mary’s message in Banneux is one of healing.  She wants people to experience this healing in their hearts.  Violence and strife causes wounds, such as anger and hatred, to fester within but Mary wants us to experience a great healing of these afflictions.  She wants us to have faith that all of this will pass, and God’s healing and peace will reign in our time.

Praying for Conversion and Peace

Our society has turned away from God in many ways. We mock the laws of God and give license to sin.  Now is the time for us to turn ourselves back to God.  Over and over again, Mary asks her children for conversion. Yes, that means the conversion of those who perform such hateful acts as we witnessed in the new reports, but it also means our conversion.  There is an absence of peace in our world and in our hearts.  In these tumultuous times, it behooves us to listen to what Mary said back in 1932 and 1933 to six children. Even in Belgium, Mary’s words of motherly concern never grow old.
Pray for peace in the world.  Pray for the conversion of sinners.  Pray for healing.  The best way to do this, if you ask me, is to pray the rosary.  That’s what Mary asked in 1917 at Fatima and it seems to be a prayer which pleases God.
Mary, Mother of God, the Immaculate Virgin, Queen of Heaven, pray for our world.  Grant us, what we ask, the grace of conversion and healing.
Our Lady of Beauraing, Pray for Belgium. Pray for us.
Our Lady of Banneux, Pray for Belgium. Pray for us.

Fr. George Rutler: The Paradox of Christ's Passion

The following comes from Fr. George Rutler:

There is a moral difference between sight and perception, just as there is between height and stature. Someone with 20/20 vision may be blind to reality, and a very tall man may be a moral midget. There is also a difference between clock time, which measures days, and moral time which measures destiny. When Christ said, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified” (John 12:23), He was not looking at an hour glass but at the Cross. That is why he prayed, “Yet what should I say? ‘Father save me from this hour’? But it was for this purpose that I came to this hour” (John 12:27).


Time can drag when there is nothing to do, but it speeds by when there is a goal to be met. In His human nature, Christ was “troubled” because he could anticipate the physical pain ahead, and He knew that it would peak chronologically at High Noon on Friday, but his moral victory was already secured in another kind of time: “Now is the time of judgment on this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out” (John 12:31). Satan, of whom He speaks, had tried to block this hour because he thinks only in terms of daily existence rather than eternal life.


From this perspective, our Lord meant more than physical distance when he spoke of going “up” to Jerusalem. The Sea of Galilee is about 700 feet below sea level, the lowest fresh-water lake in the world. Jerusalem is 2500 feet above sea level, and the “hill” of Calvary added a few more feet to that, and the Cross was high on top of that hill. But He would be lifted beyond measure: “And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself” (John 12:32).


The paradox of Christ's Passion is that he had to go down in order to go up: “Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit” (John 12:24). He spoke shockingly of losing our life if we love it and preserving it for eternal life if we hate it (cf. John 12:25). By hatred He meant neglect of the moral measure of what we are. To try to preserve existence and attain great heights without risking our lives and being humbled for the sake of love, is simply to shrivel up. In a spiritual journal that George Washington faithfully kept, he prayed for protection against “an unwillingness to depart this life” which would cast him “into a spiritual slumber.”


Our Lord entered Jerusalem to battle more than a human enemy, and on an immeasurable scale he won the greatest of all victories when the Hour came.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Words of St. Therese during her final illness



"I am not dying; I am entering life."

The Last Conversations-
Saint Therese’ of Lisieux

Monday, March 21, 2016

In Christ Alone by Owl City

How to Pray for Physical Healing

The following comes from the Francis McNutt at Word Among Us:
Of all the kinds of healing, physical healing is perhaps the hardest for us to really believe in; it is far easier to believe that prayer can lead to repentance or can change a person psychologically.
Yet real physical healings take place regularly in the prayer groups I know. Often, a dozen or more occur at conferences when we take the time to pray for the sick.
So if you have the faith that the Lord still heals people as he did two thousand years ago, launch out and learn to pray for the sick. For, although physical healing may stretch your faith (have you ever prayed for a blind person?), it is also the simplest kind of prayer. 
The Confidence to Launch Out. To pray for the first time requires courage. I used to feel very foolish, as if I were pretending to be someone special when I knew I was just an ordinary person. Who was I to pretend to be a great healer, to act like Christ? All this was, of course, merely false humility since, as we know, Christ himself instructed his followers to pray for the sick. Sometimes healing requires more courage than faith.
What a joy when we find that God really answers our prayers and heals the people we love! The praise of God spontaneously rises from our hearts. If you have confidence that Jesus might use your prayers to heal the sick, then there are just a few simple steps to learn. They are easy enough to remember; we do not need a graduate degree to learn to pray for physical healing.
I have missionary friends who are teaching the poor people of the barrios of Latin America to pray for the sick, and they report that about eighty percent of these unlettered people are healed or notably improved. There is no one method or technique that always produces results; God wants us to depend on him—not upon a technique. But there are some simple steps that flow out of the very nature of prayer for healing, and these I want to share with you.
Listening. The first step is always to listen in order to find out what to pray for. Just as the first step for a doctor when he meets a patient is to find out what to treat, so we need to find out what we are meant to pray for. A doctor is looking for a right diagnosis. In prayer for healing, we are looking for the right discernment.
We are really listening to two things: to the person who asks for prayer and tells us what seems to be wrong; and to God, who from time to time shares with us the true diagnosis whenever the person isn’t sure what is wrong.
When we listen in this way, the Spirit comes to enlighten us when we are in the dark about what to pray for. To some people this special knowledge seems to come in a very special way in the form of definite mental images or verbal impressions. To many of us, however, the knowledge of what to pray for comes in a very natural way, more like a simple intuition.
We may not be sure whether we are inspired by God or not; we learn by experience to sift out our intuitions and to find what works out in practice. Often, after I have followed what seemed to me a simple intuition about what to pray for, the person I was praying for has told me that I touched on those very things he had not directly mentioned but had hoped that I would pray for. When these intuitions work out time after time, you learn to trust that God is working through them.
In addition to listening to the person, we should also be alert to the promptings of the Spirit who may enlighten us, especially when we don’t know what to pray for. It is not healthy for us to be unduly problem-oriented and symptom-centered. In the abundance of Christ’s health and life, sickness will be overcome, in the brilliance of that light, darkness and ignorance will be dispersed.
Laying on of Hands. In actual praying for the sick, the laying on of hands is a traditional Christian practice: “They will lay their hands on the sick, who will recover” (Mark 16:18). Certainly it is not essential; if you feel that the person you are praying for would be embarrassed or would feel more comfortable if you stay at a distance, then by all means be sensitive to his feelings. But if it does seem right, there are several advantages that explain the New Testament practice of the laying on of hands.
In the first place, there does seem to be a warm current of healing power that often flows from the minister of healing to the sick person. Precisely what happens when we feel this current we are not sure, but it seems like a transfer of life-giving power. Jesus himself experienced this flow of power in such a way that he could sense it:
Now there was a woman suffering from a hemorrhage for twelve years, whom no one had been able to cure. She came up behind him and touched the fringe of his cloak; and the hemorrhage stopped at that instant. Jesus said, “Who touched me?” when they all denied that they had, Peter and his companions said, “Master, it is the crowds round you, pushing.” But Jesus said, “Somebody touched me. I felt that power had gone out from me.” (Luke 8:43-46)
Often we experience this same transfer of power, occasionally like a gentle electric current, but more often like a flow of warmth. Whatever it is, it is often connected with healing. It almost seems like a transfer of life.
Some with the gift of healing talk about “soaking prayer” in which you just soak the person in a prayer of God’s love. In thirty years of praying for the sick, we have discovered that this soaking prayer where we spend time with a person and pray with the laying on of hands helps immeasurably. It’s like God’s radiation treatment: The longer the sickness is held in the force-field of God’s love, the more it shrinks, until it finally disappears.
The Actual Prayer. In praying for the sick person, we can be spontaneous and improvise prayer for healing. We can assume any posture that is most comfortable for us—sitting, kneeling, or standing—where we can best forget ourselves and relax and concentrate on the presence of God. We turn our hearts and minds to the Father, or to Jesus; we know that it is only through their love that anything will happen. After welcoming their presence and praising God, we then turn to the petition itself.
Most ministers of healing suggest that we be specific in our prayer, that we visualize as clearly as possible what we are asking God to heal. For instance, if we are praying for the healing of a broken bone we can ask the Father (or Jesus) to take away every infection, to stimulate the growth of the cells needed to restore the bone, and to fill in any breaks. Such a specific request seems to enliven our own faith, as we see in our imagination what we are praying for. It also stimulates the faith of the sick person as he listens and pictures in his own mind what we are asking God to accomplish in reality. This helps him become more actively involved in the prayer, even if he says nothing.
On the other hand, some of us—that includes me—are by temperament not very good at imagining things; it is much easier to leave the imagination out and just ask God—but in a very specific way—to heal the person.

The Measure of the World by Cardinal Newman

By John Henry Newman

A great number of men live and die without reflecting at all upon the state of things in which they find themselves. They take things as they come, and follow their inclinations as far as they have the opportunity. They are guided mainly by pleasure and pain, not by reason, principle, or conscience; and they do not attempt to interpret this world, to determine what it means, or to reduce what they see and feel to system. But when persons, either from thoughtfulness of mind, or from intellectual activity, begin to contemplate the visible state of things into which they are born, then forthwith they find it a maze and a perplexity. . . .Why it is, and what it is to issue in, and how it is what it is, and how we come to be introduced into it, and what is our destiny, are all mysteries.

In this difficulty, some have formed one philosophy of life, and others another. Men have thought they had found the key, by means of which they might read what is so obscure. Ten thousand things come before us one after another in the course of life, and what are we to think of them? what colour are we to give them? Are we to look at all things in a gay and mirthful way? or in a melancholy way? in a desponding or a hopeful way? Are we to make light of life altogether, or to treat the whole subject seriously? Are we to make greatest things of little consequence, or least things of great consequence? Are we to keep in mind what is past and gone, or are we to look on to the future, or are we to be absorbed in what is present? How are we to look at things? Such is the need felt by reflective minds. Now, let me ask, what is the real key, what is the Christian interpretation of this world? What is given us by revelation to estimate and measure this world by? The event of this season – the Crucifixion of the Son of God. . . .

But it will be said, that the view which the Cross of Christ imparts to us of human life and of the world, is not that which we should take, if left to ourselves; that it is not an obvious view; that if we look at things on their surface, they are far more bright and sunny than they appear when viewed in the light which this season casts upon them.

But again; it is but a superficial view of things to say that this life is made for pleasure and happiness. To those who look under the surface, it tells a very different tale. The doctrine of the Cross does but teach, though infinitely more forcibly, still after all it does but teach the very same lesson which this world teaches to those who live long in it, who have much experience in it, who know it. The world is sweet to the lips, but bitter to the taste. . . .Therefore the doctrine of the Cross of Christ does but anticipate for us our experience of the world.



Read the rest here at The Catholic Thing site.

Home by Michael Buble and Blake Shelton

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Bishop Robert Barron on Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday: The Victory of Humility

The following comes from the The Crossroads Initiative: 

Palm Sunday -- When a conquering hero of the ancient world rode into town in triumph, it was in a regal chariot or on the back of a stately stallion.  Legions of soldiers accompanied him in the victory procession.  Triumphal arches, festooned with relief sculptures, were often erected to immortalize his valiant victory.

After driving out demons, healing the sick, and raising the dead, it was time for the King of Kings to enter the Holy City.  But to do so, he rode not on the back of a warhorse, but a donkey. His companions accompanied him brandishing not swords, but palm branches.  The monument to his victory, erected a week later, was not an arch, but a crucifix.

His earthly beginning was frightfully humble.  And his earthly end would be no different.  The wood of the manger prefigured the wood of the cross.

From beginning to end, the details are humiliating.  No room in the inn.  Born amidst the stench of a stable.  Hunted by Herod’s henchmen.  Growing up in a far-flung province of the Roman Empire--Galilee, the land where the country accent is so thick, you can cut it with a knife.  How it that the high priest’s servant-girl knew Peter was a disciple of Jesus?  His hillbilly accent gave him away (Matthew 26:73).  Jesus disciples were not cultured, learned men of ability.  They were drawn from the low-life of a backwater region…

When one of his closest companions offered to betray him, he did not require millions.  Jesus’ worth was reckoned to be no more than the Old Testament “book value” for a slave--thirty pieces of silver (Ex 21;32).  When he was finally handed over to the Romans, he was not given the punishment meted out to Roman citizens.  Beheading was the quick, dignified way to execute someone of any standing.  Instead Jesus was given punishments reserved only for slaves and rebellious members of subjugated peoples – flagellation and crucifixion.  These two penalties were not just about the pain, but about the humiliation.  In first century Palestine, men and women typically covered themselves from head to toe, even in the scorching heat.  A crucified man was stripped naked and put on display for all to see.

But this is not primary a story of violence and humiliation.  The events of Holy Week are much more about love and humility.

That’s why on Passion Sunday we read the powerful words of Paul’s letter from the Philippians (2:6-11).  Though the Divine Word was God, dwelling in the serene heights of heavenly glory, he freely plunged to the depths of human misery, joining himself to our frail nature, entering into our turbulent world.  As if this act of humility were not enough, he further humbled himself, accepting the status of a slave.  His act of stooping down to wash the feet of his disciples (Jn 13) was a parable of his whole human existence, for this act was regarded as so undignified that not even Israelite slaves could be compelled to do it.

But that’s just it.  Jesus was not compelled to do it.  He willingly lowered himself in his birth, in his ministry, in his death.  No one took his life from him.  He freely laid down his own life (Jn 10:18).  Others did not have the chance to humble him; he humbled himself.

It had to be so.  The Second Adam had to undo the damage caused by the first.  What was the sin our first parents?  They disobeyed because they wanted to know what God knew, to be like God, to exalt themselves over God (Gen 3).  They were bitten by the Serpent, and injected with the deadly venom of Pride.  The antidote, the anti-venom could only be humility.  The foot-washing, donkey-riding New Adam would crush the head of the deadly serpent by means of loving, humble obedience. 

The first-born of many brothers lowered himself to the dust from which the First Adam has been made–indeed humility comes from the word “humus.” But God responded to his humility by exalting him far above Caesars, kings, and even Hollywood stars.  And he invites us to share his glory with him.  But first we must walk on his road to glory, the royal road of the cross.