Saturday, September 23, 2017

An Encounter of Saints: Padre Pio and Karol Wojtyla

The following comes from The Path Less Taken:

From a fascinating article by Frank M. Rega. 
Shortly after World War II was over, a young Polish priest who was studying in Rome, Fr. Karol Wojtyla, visited Padre Pio in San Giovanni Rotondo. This encounter took place around 1947 or 1948. At that time in post-war Italy, it was possible to have access to Padre Pio, since travel was difficult and great crowds were not besieging the Friary. The young priest spent almost a week in San Giovanni Rotondo during his visit, and was able to attend Padre Pio’s Mass and make his confession to the saint. Apparently, this was not just a casual encounter, and the two spoke together at length during Fr. Wojtyla’s stay. Their conversations gave rise to rumors in later years, after the Polish prelate had been elevated to the Papacy, that Padre Pio had told him he would become Pope. The story persists to the present day, even though on two or three occasions "Papa Wojtyla" denied it.
     Recently, new information about this visit has come to light, according to a new book in Italian published by Padre Pio's Friary, Il Papa e Il Frate, written by Stefano Campanella (1).  As reported in this book, the future Pope and future Saint had a very interesting conversation.  During this exchange, Fr. Wojtyla asked Padre Pio which of his wounds caused the greatest suffering. From this kind of personal question, we can see that they must have already talked together for some time and had become at ease with each other. The priest expected Padre Pio to say it was his chest wound, but instead the Padre replied, "It is my shoulder wound, which no one knows about and has never been cured or treated." This is extremely significant, not only because it reveals that Padre Pio bore this wound, but because, as far as is known, the future pope is the only one to whom Padre Pio ever revealed existence of this secret wound.
     Centuries earlier, Our Lord himself had revealed to St. Bernard of Clairvaux in a vision, that his shoulder wound from carrying the heavy wooden cross caused him his greatest suffering, and that the cross tore into his flesh right up to the shoulder bone.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Conquering Loneliness

The following comes from the Catholic Exchange:


In the 60’s the Beatles composed a song and an album: “Sergeant Pepper’s lonely heart-club band.” World-famous for this song and album, the Beatles were placing their finger on the pulse of the modern society, a society with many individuals suffering from a crushing and almost unsupportable loneliness.
There are many ways that individuals cope with loneliness; some are excellent, others are good to a certain extent, others are bad and still others are deadly. A crushing loneliness can grip an individual in such a way that depression sets in and he/she feels life has no real meaning and questions why even live. Some, even, contemplate a recourse to suicide.
Others do not go so far as to commit physical suicide, but they do have recourse to a slow form of damaging their lives; you might even call it gradual suicide. These are the individuals that seek and escape from the crushing weight of loneliness by having recourse to vices; these escapes that we call vices are many; we will mention a few. Drugs, gambling, drinking to excess, overeating, the use of pornography as well as the use of sexuality outside the context of sacramental and marital commitment. At times individuals have recourse to more than one of these vices as an escape from their crushing loneliness. The more dense and crushing the loneliness the more they cling to one or more of these vices!
This being said, what are wholesome ways that we can cope with loneliness in our lives and maybe we can teach others proper and correct ways to deal with this modern, prevalent reality?
For believers what will be explained will not be a huge surprise! The key to coping with a heavy and crushing loneliness can be summarized in one simple word: GOD!!!
  1. GOD’S OMNIPRESENCE.  The word “omnipresence” means in the most simple of terms: God is everywhere! No matter where we go, God is present to us.  Indeed we can block God out of our lives, forget Him, be oblivious to His presence, or like an atheist deny that He even exists. Still this does not deny the fact that God exists.  I can say a wall in front of my face is not present, but if I walk into it I will bruise my face or worse yet even get a concussion.  St. Paul quoting a Greek poet encapsulates this concept with these words:  “In Him we live and move and have our being.”  The Psalmist expresses God’s omnipresence with utmost clarity and precision: “Where can I hide from your spirit? If I ascend to the heavens, you are there. If I lie down in Sheol, you are there too. If I fly with the wings of dawn and alight beyond the sea even there your hand will guide me, your right hand hold me fast. If I say, “surely darkness shall hide me, and night shall be my light. Darkness is not dark for you, and night shines as the day. Darkness and light are but one.”(Psalm 139: 7-12)
  1. DIVINE INDWELLING THROUGH GRACE.  One of the hallmarks of Carmelite spirituality is that of the indwelling of the Blessed Trinity in our soul through sanctifying grace. If we conserve grace within our soul by avoiding mortal sin then not only are we surrounded by God (His Omnipresence), but He is truly present in the very depths of our soul. If we like we can talk to this Triune God—the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit as often as we like and as long as we like.  How great is our God!
  1.  JESUS AS FRIEND.  In the course of the Last Supper discourse, Holy Thursday night, Jesus spoke very tenderly to the Apostles as well as to us. Jesus said:  “I do not call you servants because the servant does not know what the Master is about, but I call you FRIENDS…” What a consoling truth and what an efficacious remedy to overcome modern loneliness: to recognize, experience and cultivate a deep and lasting FRIENDSHIP with Jesus!  Engraved below a beautiful painting of the most Sacred Heart of Jesus are written the words in Spanish:  “Jesus, el Amigo que nunca falla.”Translation: “Jesus is the Friend that never fails us.”How true!  We all fail Jesus every time we decide to sin, but He never fails us. For that reason we read and meditate the words from the Book of Revelation: “Behold I stand at the door and knock. Whoever opens the door I will come in and dine with him and him with me.”(Rev. 3:20) Indeed striving with all of the fiber of our being to grow in friendship with Jesus can prove to be one of the most efficacious means to cope with loneliness and if we are struggling to overcome some vice—whatever it might be: drink, porn, drugs, despair!  Beyond the shadow of a doubt, Friendship with Jesus is the most consoling, solid, noble, satisfying, and capable of constant growth.
  1.  UNLOADING TO MY FRIEND JESUS.  Years ago a wonderful moive came out in Spanish with the title:  Marcelino, Pan y vino. The essence of this film is this orphan-boy(Marcelino) adopted by the Franciscan community grows up with the Frailes and then Marcelino meets his best friend: Jesus as He hangs on the cross in one of the upper rooms. The little boy immediately strikes up a friendship with Jesus crucified. He talks to Jesus and Jesus responds to the little boy. Constantly, on the sly, the little boy visits Jesus and talks to Him. Not only does the little boy talk to Jesus but consoles Him with concrete gestures. Noticing Jesus’ bones jutting out, he brings Him bread and wine. Then he brings Jesus his blanket so that He would not suffer cold. The little boy seeing the head crowned with piercing thorns, he climbs a ladder to relieve Jesus of the suffering by actually taking the crown off His head.  Growing deeper and deeper in their friendship, something has always weighed heavy on the heart of the little boy—the absence of a loving mother. Marcelino opens his aching heart to Jesus about being orphan to the love of a mother. Jesus responds by allowing the little boy to see “His mother”. The movie culminates with a loud noise, the little boy falling back (actually dying), so that he is taken up to heaven to rest in the arms of Mary, his heavenly Mother. Therefore, a key element of coping with loneliness, conquering loneliness is not to deny our loneliness nor to deny our problems. If done our loneliness and problems will get worse. The key is to talk to Jesus as well as the Blessed Virgin Mary, Our dear and loving Mother about our loneliness and problems. Once a problem is shared with a loving heart the problem diminishes greatly or will even disappear.
  1. JESUS: YOUR EUCHARISTIC FRIEND AND COMPANION. One of the greatest remedies to cope with or conquer loneliness is to establish a deep faith, confidence, and love for Jesus (your best Friend) in the context of the Blessed Sacrament, Mass, and Holy Eucharist. Establish a habit of visiting your Friend Jesus present in the Tabernacle in His Eucharistic Presence. Attend daily Mass if you have the time. Receive Jesus in Holy Communion with great love and devotion. After receiving Him in Holy Communion spend some time after Mass; close your eyes and talk to your Friend Jesus who is now living in the very depths of your soul. Tell Him everything that is on your mind, in your soul, all that is present in the very depths of your heart. This is the closest and most intimate union that can exist on earth—the union of our heart with the Sacred Heart of Jesus present in you after Holy Communion.
If we establish a deep and dynamic Friendship with Jesus and Mary in this life that crushing loneliness that we experience will be lifted like the sun that dissipates the early morning clouds, or like the dew that evaporates on the morning grass. Still more important, if Jesus is your best Friend now in time in this present world, then when we pass from this world to the next He will be our best Friend forever in heaven, where loneliness will no longer exist.
Therefore none of us have to belong to the Sergeant Pepper’s lonely heart-club band. Rather we belong to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Bishop Barron: A Mother's Passion


The following is Bishop Robert Barron's reflection on the reading for today:

Friends, today we celebrate the memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows. In our Gospel Jesus entrusts care of his mother to St. John. We can see some background for this profound action in The Passion of the Christ, the most provocative and popular religious movie in decades. What I would like to do is simply highlight a theme from the movie that especially struck me when I saw it.
 
The theme that I would like to emphasize is that of Mary, the mother of Jesus. We are compelled to see the scenes through her eyes. Early in Luke's Gospel, we are told that Mary "contemplated these things, reflecting on them in her heart." She is the theologian par excellence, the one who understands. When she sees Jesus being led away, she weeps and then she says "Amen."
 
In scene after scene, we watch her spiritual comprehension. The wonderful scene where she is marked with the Blood of her Son is especially evocative. And then the Pieta depiction at the very end, where we see Mary's role: to present the sacrifice of her Son to us and for us.

The Final Sermon of Fr. Gaston Hurtubise: Thank my Lord!


In 1992 Fr. Gaston Hurtubise died while preaching on the Sacred Heart of Jesus. His last words were, "God is ready to open his heart to us, to establish us in him, to eternal bliss. Thank my Lord!"

While attempts were made to revive him, he had already gone to the Lord.


Feast of the Day: Our Lady of Sorrows


The following comes from Catholic Doors:

Today's special Feast was originally set on the third Sunday of September. Now it has a date of its own, that being September 15 th.

In 1239, five years after having established themselves, the seven founders of the Servite Order took up the sorrows of Mary who stood under the Cross as the main devotion of their religious Order.

On June 9 th and September 15 th, 1668, the Feast of the "Seven Dolors of Mary" was granted to the Servites with the object of commemorating the sorrows of Mary.

This Feast was extended to Spain in 1735 and to Tuscany in 1807. On September 18, 1814, after returning from his exile in France, Pope Pius VII extended this Feast to the whole Latin Church.

The other Feast of the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary, held on Friday before Palm Sunday, was originally kept on the Friday after the third Sunday after Easter. Known under the title of, "Commemoratio angustix et doloris B. Marix V," this Feast commemorated the sorrows of Mary during the Passion and death of Christ. Instituted in 1413 by the provincial synod of Cologne, its object was to expiate for the crimes of the iconoclat Hussites.

On April 22, 1727, Pope Benedict XIII extended this Feast to the entire Latin Church under the title of "Septem dolorum B.M.V." This last Feast did not have originate through the Servite Order.

Today's Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows draws our hearts towards the Blessed Virgin Mary in compassion for the motherly sufferings that she endured during the life of Jesus on earth. Early in the life of Jesus, Simeon prophesied that the soul of Mary would be pierced by a sword. [Lk. 2:35] Many may view the statement of Simeon as a horrible thing to say to a young mother. But others view this as the first step to prepare Mary for what was to come.

After all, not long after the visit to the Temple, having been warned by an angel in a dream, Mary and Joseph had to escape to Egypt to protect Jesus from king Herod who massacred all the children under the age of two. [Mt. 2:13-18]

This event parallels what is going on in many countries that are torn by civil war. How many families are living in refugee camps or had to immigrate to foreign countries to escape those who are kidnapping and murdering the fathers, the mothers and even the children? How many families had to escape from their homeland to protect their daughters from being raped by mercenaries and soldiers who have no morals whatsoever? These families can associate with the sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

It was not until about ten years later that Mary suffered her next greatest sorrow. Returning home after participating in the festival of the Passover in Jerusalem, Mary and Joseph realized that Jesus was not with the group of travellers. They had to return to Jerusalem and look for Him. [Lk. 2:41-52]

Many parents can associate with this frightening experience. How many parents have lost their child in a supermarket, at a campground or even experienced an incident where their child wondered away from the back yard and could not be found for a few hours? How many parents have experienced the loss of a child due to a messy separation and custody battle? How many parents have permanently lost their child, not knowing his or her whereabouts? Such traumatic events truly pieces the soul of the person involved. This is something that many cannot perceive unless they personally experience it.

Over and over the aforementioned, the soul of Mary was pierced when she saw the condition of Jesus on the road to Calvary, when He was crucified, when she stood at the foot of the Holy Cross, when the body of Jesus was taken down from the Cross and when Jesus was buried.

These events remind many parents of their personal family experiences. Some parents have seen their son or daughter beaten so badly that his or her face could no longer be recognized. Some had to identify the body of their child who was murdered in a random shooting. Many parents in war ridden countries had to care for their sons after they had been kidnapped, beaten and even mutilated. How great is the suffering of these parents. How much greater was the suffering of the Blessed Virgin Mary. For she who enjoyed the fullness of her immaculate state could never conceive doing such deplorable crimes.

Through life experiences, many have compassion for Mary, being able to associate with her life sufferings that resembles a spiritual martyrdom. How many times can one pierce the soul of a person without leaving eternal scars? Only once! Yet, the soul of the Blessed Virgin Mary was pierced seven times!

During the remaining of the day, let us reflect upon the sufferings of the Mother of God. For those who continue to endure similar sufferings, let us pray that they may receive from God the strength that they desperately need to continue to carry their spiritual crosses.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

A Testimony of Faith: Pope Francis Meets Fr. Tom Uzhunnalil, SDB




Salesian News Agency: Immediately after Wednesday’s general audience, Pope Francis met Salesian Fr Thomas Uzhunnalil.

Fr. Tom is finally safe and finally able to rejoin the Salesian Community.  He was able to visit today with Salesian Confrere and was given a special audience with the Holy Father after the Wednesday General Audience.

From the Salesian News Agency:  A testimony of impressive faith: that is what the Salesians saw yesterday, 12 September, on meeting Fr Tom Uzhunnalil, finally liberated after being imprisoned for a year and a half.
The meeting began around 6 PM in the Vatican. Present: the Rector Major's Vicar, Fr Francesco Cereda, as the Rector Major was still engaged in his visit to Malta; Salesians of the Vatican community and the General House; and most notably, Fr Thomas Anchukandam, a former professor of Fr Uzhunnalil, who authorized sending the missionary to Yemen when he was Superior of the Bangalore Province.
The greeting was immediately fraternal: Fr Uzhunnalil was honored with the "ponnada", the dress traditionally consigned to special guests of honor, and he received the emotional embrace of all those present. For his part, the Indian missionary did not nothing but repeat words of thanks, first of all to God and the Madonna.
One of his first requests was to pray in the chapel of the Salesian community in the Vatican. He also wanted to celebrate Mass immediately after, but due to necessary medical examinations he was forced to postpone the fulfillment of his wish. Nevertheless, before the arrival of the medical staff, he asked to be confessed, since this had obviously not been possible throughout his time in prison.
Different, instead, the discourse for the Eucharist; during the festive evening offered him by the Salesian community, featuring traditional Indian foods, Fr Uzhunnalil said that throughout his time as hostage he continued to spiritually celebrate Mass every day, remembering by heart the readings and the parts of the Mass, since he did not have liturgical texts or species with which to celebrate.
For his part, Fr Uzhunnalil appeared calm and open to questions; without going into details he answered the questions of his confreres. He confirmed he was in the chapel of the community of the Missionaries of Charity of Aden when the assailants kidnapped him. After being kidnapped, Fr Uzhunnalil said he was never mistreated and that following his rapid weight loss, his kidnappers had even begun to provide him with the medication he needed for his diabetes.
Throughout the period of imprisonment, however, he wore the same clothes; with his kidnappers - who spoke Arabic – he communicated with a bit of English; and during his imprisonment he was transferred two or three times, but always blindfolded.
"I never thought I could be killed," said the missionary who also recalled an episode on March 3, 2016, the night before the massacre: the Director of the Missionaries of Charity house of Aden, commenting on the difficult situation in which the religious found themselves in the war zone, had said it would have been nice to be martyred all together for Christ. But the youngest of the religious - who then survived the attack - replied: "I want to live for Christ."
Fr Uzhunnalil is currently being hosted in the Salesian community of the Vatican. The Salesian Congregation has taken such a decision by considering it the most suitable place to ensure his care and allow him full recovery.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Feast of the Holy Name of Mary


The following is from American Catholic: This feast is a counterpart to the Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus (January 3); both have the possibility of uniting people easily divided on other matters.

The feast of the Most Holy Name of Mary began in Spain in 1513 and in 1671 was extended to all of Spain and the Kingdom of Naples. In 1683, John Sobieski, king of Poland, brought an army to the outskirts of Vienna to stop the advance of Muslim armies loyal to Mohammed IV in Constantinople. After Sobieski entrusted himself to the Blessed Virgin Mary, he and his soldiers thoroughly defeated the Muslims. Pope Innocent XI extended this feast to the entire Church.

Comment:

Mary always points us to God, reminding us of God's infinite goodness. She helps us to open our hearts to God's ways, wherever those may lead us. Honored under the title “Queen of Peace,” Mary encourages us to cooperate with Jesus in building a peace based on justice, a peace that respects the fundamental human rights (including religious rights) of all peoples.

Quote:

“Lord our God, when your Son was dying on the altar of the cross, he gave us as our mother the one he had chosen to be his own mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary; grant that we who call upon the holy name of Mary, our mother, with confidence in her protection may receive strength and comfort in all our needs” (Marian Sacramentary, Mass for the Holy Name of the Blessed Virgin Mary).

Fr Tom Uzhunnalil, SDB Released From Captivity

The Salesian News Agency is reporting that Fr. Thomas Uzhunnalil, SDB has been released from his captors!  The Salesian had been captive for 18 months since the attack on the Missionaries of Charity hospital in Yemen:
(ANS - Bangalore) Salesian Indian missionary Fr Thomas Uzhunnalil, seized more than 18 months ago in Yemen by a group of guerrillas, is released. According to the Indian media who announced the news, the Salesian religious is now in Muscat, Oman. Official confirmation came from a tweet by Sushma Swaraj, the Honourable Indian Foreign Minister.
Fr Uzhunnalil was kidnapped by a group of armed men on March 4, 2016, during an attack on the home of the Missionaries of Charity in Aden, Yemen, where 16 people died, including 4 religious.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Dr Peter Kreeft on Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's Harvard Address


Dr. Peter Kreeft comments on the Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn Commencement Address, "A World Split Apart," given at Harvard University on 8 June 1978. Solzhenitsyn diagnoses the roots of all our ills in the West.  He was a modern prophet and Dr. Kreeft gives an explanation of the Harvard address that everyone needs to hear!


Below is the original talk as given by Solzhenitsyn at Harvard:

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Myrrh Weeping Icons of Jesus and St. John the Baptist



An Orthodox church in Homer Glen is drawing pilgrims from across Chicagoland to witness what some are calling a miracle. An icon of St. John the Baptist has been oozing fragrant oil at Assumption Greek Orthodox Church. Parishioners believer the oil to be myrrh, and many claim that the myrrh has healed their health conditions.

I visited this Church last weekend and found that the Icon of Jesus the Teacher has also been weeping myrrh oil. The Jesus Icon is directly to the left of the Icon of St. John the Baptist and began weeping on December 31, 2016 from the left hand of Jesus. Just a few weeks ago the right hand also began to weep. The right hand is giving a blessing and is situated just over the heart of Jesus. The myrrh oil was clearly visible on both of the icons! It now seems appropriate that St. John the Baptist began weeping first so as to prepare the way for Jesus! These signs are an encouragement to all of us to pray and deepen our relationship with Christ!