Thursday, November 1, 2018

The meaning of sainthood: To be fully alive in Jesus Christ

The following comes from Archbishop Chaput:


Some years ago a friend told me that she secretly thought of the saints as boring. They smile at us sweetly from holy cards. Their lives can seem implausible compared to people more famous for their vices. And who would really want to be a saint, anyway? As Billy Joel once said, “I’d rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints. The sinners are much more fun.”
But when we come to understand holiness rightly, we see that it’s anything but boring. Sanctity isn’t a matter of sentimental posturing or being nice. Sanctity is about being passionately in love with Jesus Christ.
The saints are men and women who glowed white-hot with the Holy Spirit. They lived fully what Father Richard John Neuhaus once called “the high adventure of Christian discipleship.” And that’s truly what the heart of sainthood is: not a life of legalistic drudgery, but a high adventure.
Think about the women and men we venerate as saintly: Mother Teresa, Francis Xavier, King Louis IX of France, Gianna Beretta Molla, Pier Giorgio Frassati, Catherine of Siena. They lived some of the most compelling lives in history. Their roads were hard. They endured great sacrifices and self-denial. But those sacrifices led to greater love and joy than many in the world have ever known.
If we think about sainthood like that, it can seem like the saints are a special class of people. Sainthood is for people like them, we think, not everyday people like us. And how do you live like a saint if you’re just an ordinary worker, a father or a mother? The good news is that the saints were ordinary people like us. Their “secret” was not something they possessed, but Someone who possessed them.
The saints were men and women whom Jesus Christ made his own. As baptized Catholics, we too have been made Christ’s own. We receive Jesus Christ’s healing mercy and forgiveness in the sacrament of reconciliation. We eat his body and drink his blood in the Eucharist. We speak with him in moments of quiet prayer.
This love that we receive from Jesus should break out into the rest of our lives. St. Josemaria Escriva put it this way: “When a Christian carries out with love the most insignificant everyday action, that action overflows with the transcendence of God.” This means that even when we fix another family’s plumbing, or fill out their legal paperwork, or drive our kids to soccer practice, we can act with the love of Jesus Christ in the same way that the saints did.
The great second century bishop, Irenaeus of Lyons, once said that “the glory of God is man fully alive.” First and foremost, this refers to Jesus Christ. Jesus shows us what it looks like for a human being to live life abundantly. This means that the closer we are to Jesus, the more intensely alive we become. And the saints are examples of men and women who have lived their lives to the fullest. Because of the love of Jesus, they glow with the glory of God. Because of the love of Jesus, they’re fully alive.
The saints aren’t just our models, though. They form what Paul called “a great cloud of witnesses” (Heb. 12:1). The saints in heaven pray for us on earth, urging us on as we run the race of faith. They offer us hope in two ways. First, they show us that, by God’s grace, heroic Christian lives are possible. Second, they remind us of the destiny God has in store for those he loves. This life is a preparation for eternal union with God in heaven. That doesn’t mean sitting around forever with a pious halo, strumming a harp. Heaven is an eternity of the greatest love we have ever tasted in this life – growing deeper and stronger without end.
This All Saints’ Day, November 1, let’s reflect on what the saints really mean for us. Let’s remember the holy men and women whom we can emulate and to whom we can pray for help and guidance. Jesus said that he came so that we would have life, and have it abundantly (Jn. 10:10).
Let’s pray that we find the courage to seek out that abundant life with the saints. Let’s be women and men of love, witnesses of the glory of the God who makes us fully alive in Jesus Christ. There is no greater joy, no greater vocation.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Pope John Paul II's Love for Divine Mercy

The following comes from Zenit.org:
The archbishop of Czestochowa, former student and collaborator of Pope John Paul II, is highlighting the significance of the Pontiff's beatification on the Feast of Divine Mercy.

Archbishop Stanislaw Nowak told ZENIT that the news of John Paul II's upcoming May 1 beatification "fills me with joy."

He added, "It's a great thing that the beatification will take place precisely on the occasion of the feast of Divine Mercy."

"John Paul II loved Divine Mercy," the prelate said. "He did much so that this feast would be popular in the Church."

The archbishop recalled, "I remember him when he was still bishop of Krakow, how he took the first steps to spread the feast of Divine Mercy in Krakow."

He affirmed that John Paul II is a great witness of Divine Mercy, along with St. Faustina Kowalska and Blessed Michal Sopocko.

The archbishop of Czestochowa stated that "John Paul II loved everyone, with special affection for young people."

"He was a man of great faith," the prelate added. "Every cell of his being breathed faith."

The archbishop said that the choice of the month of May for the beatification also "has a special meaning."

In fact, he said, it is called "John Paul II's month because the Polish Pontiff gave Mary his total trust: 'Totus tuus.' And so many events of his personal life are associated with the month of May."

Archbishop Nowak has been head of the Czestochowa Archdiocese since 1984. Pope John Paul II visited that city during his apostolic journeys in 1979, 1983, 1987, 1991, 1997 and 1999.

Monday, October 8, 2018

A Prayer for Priests by Cardinal O'Connor

PRAYER FOR PRIESTS: Lord Jesus, we your people pray to You for our priests. You have given them to us for OUR needs. We pray for them in THEIR needs.

O loving Mother Mary, Mother of Priests, take to your heart your sons who are close to you because of their priestly ordination and because of the power which they have received to carry on the work of Christ in a world which needs them so much. Be their comfort, be their joy, be their strength, and especially help them to live and to defend the ideals of consecrated celibacy.

Lord Jesus, we your people pray to You for our priests. You have given them to us for OUR needs. We pray for them in THEIR needs.

We know that You have made them priests in the likeness of your own priesthood. You have consecrated them, set them aside, anointed them, filled them with the Holy Spirit, appointed them to teach, to preach, to minister, to console, to forgive, and to feed us with Your Body and Blood.

Yet we know, too, that they are one with us and share our human weaknesses. We know too that they are tempted to sin and discouragement as are we, needing to be ministered to, as do we, to be consoled and forgiven, as do we. Indeed, we thank You for choosing them from among us, so that they understand us as we understand them, suffer with us and rejoice with us, worry with us and trust with us, share our beings, our lives, our faith.

We ask that You give them this day the gift You gave Your chosen ones on the way to Emmaus: Your presence in their hearts, Your holiness in their souls, Your joy in their spirits. And let them see You face to face in the breaking of the Eucharistic bread.

We pray to You, O Lord, through Mary the mother of all priests, for Your priests and for ours. Amen.

(by John Cardinal O’Connor, Archbishop of New York)


Thursday, August 16, 2018

Fr. Jozo Zovko: He That Can Separate You From The Altar is Your Only Enemy

The following comes from In God's Company 2:


Fr. Jozo Zovko speaks of the Holy Eucharist


Place your life upon this altar. You will witness how a priest will place a drop of water within a chalice full of wine. That drop of water intermingles with the wine and signifies you in the Holy Mass. You can become one, unite with and intermingle with Jesus. That is why the Holy Mass is called Communion ...union with God ...you and your God together ...that is the Holy Eucharist. All of us together and Jesus. That is the church, and that is where the one, holy Catholic apostolic church comes from.
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 "He who can separate you from the altar is your only enemy. There is no other" 
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Every time we come into the church and celebrate the Holy Mass, that is our embrace, our hanging onto Our Lord and saying, "Lord where would we go, for you are the Word of Life." Where did the martyrs gain so much strength from? In the Church, where did the witnesses gain their strength from? To date, in this year, 23 missionaries have been murdered around the world in four months. That is a lot. How can a man give his life for Jesus simply, with delight? It is the Holy Mass that does this within us, so that for you I'm able to give my very eyes, my arms and my life, my everything as Jesus gave His all; and the same way the Christian must give his all.

 Yes, once again, I must return to the Holy Mass and the Holy Eucharist. Why is it that churches and sects do not tolerate the Mass, do not respect Our Lady? Because they go hand-in-hand. Yes, they go together. Our Lady teaches to come to love Jesus, to fall in love with Him, and that is why she places us before the Holy Eucharist, and pleads with us to pray before this holy, blessed Sacrament, so from Jesus we may learn to become bread for others; so that I not have fear to say, "Take this, all of you, of me, and eat of it."

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

The Glorious Assumption: A Reflection by Archbishop Sheen

How could we fail to love her whom our Lord loved so much? It is impossible to love Christ adequately without also loving the Mother who gave Him to us.

Those who begin by ignoring her soon end by ignoring him, for the two are inseparable in the great drama of redemption.

As children who wish to influence their father go to their mother to intercede for them, so do we go to Mary.

It is absolutely impossible to convey to anyone outside the Church the filial devotion we bear that sweet Mother of Mothers.

Devotion to the Blessed Mother brought me to the discovery of a new dimension of the sacredness of suffering.

When I had open-heart surgery, only gradually did it dawn on me during my first four months in the hospital that the Blessed Mother not only gives sweets, but she also gives bitter medicine.

Seventy pints of blood were poured into my body after open-heart surgery because for a long time the body refused to circulate the blood. This blood came from those who poured their own blood into the blood bank of Lenox Hill Hospital.

Too striking to be missed was that on three feast days of Our Lady, I was brought to the door of death and endured great suffering.

The first was the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, July 16, when the doctors stayed with me all day and all night trying to preserve the small flickering spark of life. Then came another operation on the Feast of her Assumption, August 15, and the implanting of a pacemaker.

By this time, I was beginning to feel a kind of holy dread of what might happen on September 8, when the Church celebrates her birthday.

Sure enough, a kidney infection developed which, over a period of several weeks, made me feel some new tortures.

As I reflected on this concomitance of the Church festivals of Mary and my enforced solidarity with the Cross, I took it as a sign of the special predilection of Mary. If the Lord called her, who 'deserved' no pain, to stand at the foot of the Cross, why should He not call me?

If I had expressed a love for her as the Mother of the Priesthood, why should she not, in maternal love, make me more like her Son by forcing me to become a victim?

Any spirituality that I have revolves around the crucifix and the price of my redemption and the assurance of my resurrection.

The pectoral cross, which I carry, is a crucifix. In my bedroom is a large crucifix about six feet high which, in my long confinement to bed, is the panorama of salvation which I gaze on during the day, and at night when waking.

In my chapel is a painting done by the cardiologist who saved my life, Dr. Simon Stertzer. It is a painting of Christ on the Cross-with a concentration on the eyes, which looks out both in pity and in love, as did the Second Look on Peter.

The second year after the open-heart surgery, because of overwork, I was confined to my bed again for many months. During that time, I instructed four converts and validated two marriages.

The horizontal apostolate may sometimes be just as effective as the vertical.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

St. Maximilian Kolbe: Priest, Saint and Hero


The following comes from Neal Obstat:

Saint Maximilian Maria Kolbe, whose feast day is today, was killed on August 14, 1941 in a starvation bunker at the Auschwitz Concentration Camp; was cremated on August 15; and was canonized by Pope John Paul II in 1982 as a ‘martyr of charity.’ Those two numbers in the subject line are the Nazi’s dehumanizing arm-branded numbers for Fr. Kolbe and the man he exchanged places with, Franciszek Gajowniczek.

Good-Death
Among the many extraordinary characteristics of this saint, it was his manner of dying that stands as the true canon, or measure of his Christian holiness.
He breathed heaven into the darkest hell on earth, psalmody into the wailing dungeon, joy into the pit of despair, and love into the epitome of hate. As his Master on the Cross had done, he reminded all Christians, and all humanity, that it is precisely in the darkest moments that mercy must shine most brightly. Indeed, I am convinced that it is on this hinge that the ‘success’ of the new evangelization hangs — we are disciples of Christ Crucified in the face of our foe, or we are no Christians at all.
Eyewitness
Here is an account of Kolbe’s last days given by eyewitness Bruno Borgowiec:
The ten condemned to death went through terrible days. From the underground cell in which they were shut up there continually arose the echo of prayers and canticles. The man in-charge of emptying the buckets of urine found them always empty. Thirst drove the prisoners to drink the contents. Since they had grown very weak, prayers were now only whispered. At every inspection, when almost all the others were now lying on the floor, Father Kolbe was seen kneeling or standing in the centre as he looked cheerfully in the face of the SS men.

Father Kolbe never asked for anything and did not complain, rather he encouraged the others, saying that the fugitive might be found and then they would all be freed. One of the SS guards remarked: this priest is really a great man. We have never seen anyone like him.

Two weeks passed in this way. Meanwhile one after another they died, until only Father Kolbe was left. This the authorities felt was too long. The cell was needed for new victims. So one day they brought in the head of the sick-quarters, a German named Bock, who gave Father Kolbe an injection of carbolic acid in the vein of his left arm. Father Kolbe, with a prayer on his lips, himself gave his arm to the executioner. Unable to watch this I left under the pretext of work to be done. Immediately after the SS men had left I returned to the cell, where I found Father Kolbe leaning in a sitting position against the back wall with his eyes open and his head drooping sideways. His face was calm and radiant…

Monday, August 13, 2018

Maximilian Mary Kolbe: Saint of Auschwitz



August 14 is the feast of St. Maximilian Kolbe! This wonderful saint was a remarkable witness to the world of the love of Christ for others. The following comes from Holy Spirit Interactive:

Raymond Kolbe was born in Poland in 1894. He joined the Franciscan order in 1907 and took the name that we know him by: Maximilian. Maximilian loved his vocation very much, and he especially loved the Blessed Mother. He added the name "Mary" when he pronounced solemn vows in 1914. Father Maximilian Mary was convinced that the world of the twentieth century needed their Heavenly Mother to guide and protect them. He used the press to make Mary more widely known. He and his fellow Franciscans published two monthly newsletters that soon went to readers around the world. The Mother of God blessed Father Maximilian's work. He built a large center in Poland. This center was called "City of the Immaculate." By 1938, eight hundred Franciscans lived there and labored to make the love of Mary known. Father Kolbe also started another City of the Immaculate in Nagasaki, Japan. Still another was begun in India. ~1938, the Nazis invaded the Polish City of the Immaculate. They stopped the wonderful work going on there. In 1941, the Nazis arrested Father Kolbe. They sentenced him to hard manual labor at Auschwitz. He was at Auschwitz three months when a prisoner successfully escaped. The Nazis made the rest of the prisoners pay for the escape. They chose ten prisoners at random to die in the starvation bunker. All the prisoners stood at attention, while ten men were pulled out of line. One chosen prisoner, a married man with a family, begged and pleaded to be spared for the sake of his children. Father Kolbe, who had not been picked, listened and felt deeply moved to help that suffering prisoner. He stepped forward and asked the commander if he could take the man's place. The commander accepted his offer.

Father Kolbe and the other prisoners were marched into the starvation bunker. They remained alive without food or water for several days. One by one, as they died, Father Kolbe helped and comforted them. He was the last to die. An injection of carbolic acid hastened his death on August 14, 1941. Pope John Paul II proclaimed him a saint and a martyr in 1982. St. Maximilian Mary Kolbe is the kind of person we all want to be. He was a hero who gave up his life that someone else might live. He was such a special person because he was a great friend of the Blessed Mother. We can be friends of Mary, too, if we honor her and pray to her.


For more information on St. Maximilian check out the post at kolbe.net!

Today is day 6 of my retreat. Please continue to pray for your humble blogger!

Thomas Merton on Humility

“It is almost impossible to overestimate the value of true humility and its power in the spiritual life. For the beginning of humility is the beginning of blessedness and the consummation of humility is the perfection of all joy. Humility contains in itself the answer to all the great problems of the life of the soul. It is the only key to faith, with which the spiritual life begins: for faith and humility are inseparable. In perfect humility all selfishness disappears and your soul no longer lives for itself or in itself for God: and it is lost and submerged in Him and transformed into Him.” - from “New Seeds of Contemplation”

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Pope John Paul II's Prayer for Vocations

Holy and provident Father, You are the Lord of the vineyard and the harvest and You give each a just reward for their work. In your design of love You call men and women to work with You for the salvation of the world. We thank You for Jesus Christ, your living word, who has redeemed us from our sins and is among us to assist us in our poverty. Guide the flock to which You have promised possession of the kingdom. Send new workers into your harvest and set in the hearts of pastors faithfulness to your plan of salvation, perseverance in their vocation and holiness of life.

Christ Jesus, who on the shores of the Sea of Galilee called the Apostles and made them the foundation of the Church and bearers of your Gospel, in our day, sustain your people on its journey. Give courage to those whom You call to follow You in the priesthood and the consecrated life, so that they may enrich God's field with wisdom of your Word. Make them docile instruments of your love in everyday service of their brothers and sisters.

Spirit of holiness, who pour out your gifts on all believers and, especially, on those called to be Christ's ministers, help young people to discover the beauty of the divine call. Teach them the true way of prayer, which is nourished by the Word of God. Help them to read the signs of the times, so as to be faithful interpreters of your Gospel and bearers of salvation.

Mary, Virgin who listened and Virgin of the Word of God made flesh in your womb, help us to be open to the Word of the Lord, so that, having been welcomed and meditated upon, it may grow in our hearts. Help us to live like You the beatitudes of believers and to dedicate ourselves with unceasing charity to evangelizing all those who seek your Son. Grant that we may serve every person, becoming servants of the Word we have heard, so that remaining faithful to it we may find our happiness in living it.

Amen.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Silence: A necessary condition for deep, contemplative prayer


The following comes from The Catholic World Report:

Many Catholics rightly complain about the absence of silence in some forms of the celebration of our Roman liturgy. It seemed to us important, therefore, in this short essay, to recall the meaning of silence as a Christian ascetical value, and therefore as a necessary condition for deep, contemplative prayer, without forgetting the fact that times of silence are officially prescribed during the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, so as to highlight the importance of silence for a high-quality liturgical renewal.

1. Silence as a Christian ascetical value

In the negative sense, silence is the absence of noise. It can be exterior or interior. Exterior silence involves the absence of sounds both in words and in actions (noises of doors, vehicles, jackhammers, and airplanes, the noisy mechanism of cameras, often accompanied by dazzling flashes, and also of that horrible forest of cell phones that are brandished at arm’s length during our Eucharistic liturgies). Virtuous or mystical silence obviously must be distinguished from reproachful silence, from the refusal to speak to someone, from the silence of omission through cowardice, egotism, or hard-heartedness.

Of course, exterior silence is an ascetical exercise of self-mastery in the use of speech. First of all it may be helpful to recall what asceticism is; this word is not praised to the skies by our consumer society—far from it!—and, we must admit, it frightens our contemporaries, including very often the Christians who are influenced by the spirit of the world. Well, then, what is asceticism? Asceticism is an indispensable means that helps us to remove from our life anything that weighs it down, in other words, anything that hampers our spiritual or interior life and therefore is an obstacle to prayer. Yes, it is indeed in prayer that God communicates his Life to us, in other words, manifests his presence in our soul by irrigating it with the streams of his Trinitarian Love: the Father through the Son in the Holy Spirit. And prayer is essentially silence. Chattering, the tendency to externalize all the treasures of the soul by expressing them, is supremely harmful to the spiritual life. Carried away toward the exterior by his need to say everything, the chatterer cannot help being far from God, superficial and incapable of any profound activity.

The wisdom books of the Old Testament (Prov 10:8, 11, 13, 14, 18-21, 31, 32; 15:1-7; Sir 19:7-12; 20:1-2, 5-8 or 23:7-15; 28:13-26) are chock-full of exhortations aimed at avoiding sins of the tongue (in particular, slander and calumny). The prophetic books, for their part, mention silence as the expression of reverential fear of God; it is then a preparation for the theophany of God, in other words, the revelation of His presence in our world (Lam 3:26; Zeph 1:7; Hab 2:20; Is 41:1; Zech 2:13). The New Testament is not outdone in this respect. Indeed, there is the Letter of James, which clearly remains the classic passage about controlling the tongue (Jas 3:1-10). However, we know that Jesus himself warned us against wicked words, which are the expression of a depraved heart (Mt 15:19) and even against idle words, for which an accounting will be demanded of us (Mt 12:36). In contrast, we can only be impressed by the silence of Jesus before the Sanhedrin, the Roman governor Pilate and King Herod: Jesus autem tacebat (Mt 26:63). Herod asked him to work a miracle for him personally, and his courtiers would have been amused by it. But Jesus Christ, who was in chains—he, the God of majesty—did not consent to become the buffoon of King Herod, nor to do for that proud man whose curiosity was unhealthy what he granted so generously to the humble and the uneducated.

In reality, true, good silence always belongs to someone who is willing to let others have his place, and especially the Completely-Other, God. In contrast, external noise characterizes the individual who wants to occupy an over-important place, to strut or to show off, or else who wants to fill his interior emptiness, as is the case in many stores and public facilities, and also particularly in the waiting rooms of some dentists, hairdressers..., where they impose incessant background music on you.

As for interior silence, it can achieved by the absence of memories, plans, interior speech, worries…. Still more important, thanks to an act of the will, it can result from the absence of disordered affections or excessive desires. The Fathers of the Church assign an eminent place to silence in the ascetical life. Think of Saint Ambrose (In psalm. 37, 12-15), Saint Augustine, Saint Gregory the Great (Moralia II, 48; XXII, 16; XXX, 16), not to mention Chapter VI of the Rule of Saint Benedict of Nursia on “taciturnity,” or Chapter 62 on grand silence at night, where he adopts the teaching of Cassian. Starting with those spiritual masters, all the medieval founders of religious orders, followed by the mystics of the Catholic Counter-Reformation, insisted not only on the ascetical but also on the mystical importance of silence.

2. Silence as a condition for contemplative prayer

The Gospels say that the Savior himself prayed in silence, particularly at night (Lk 6:12), or while withdrawing to deserted places (Lk 5:16; Mk 1:35). Silence is typical of the meditation by the Word of God; we find it again particularly in Mary’s attitude toward the mystery of her Son (Lk 2:19, 51). The most silent person in the Gospels is of course Saint Joseph; not a single word of his does the New Testament record for us. Saint Basil considers silence not only as an ascetical necessity of monastic life, but also as a condition for encountering God (Letter 2, 2-6: PG 32, 224-232). Silence precedes and prepares for the privileged moment when we have access to God, who then can speak to us face to face as we would do with a friend (cf. Ex 33:11; Num 12:8; Deut 34:10).

Recall, in this regard, that we arrive at the knowledge of God by way of causality, analogy, eminence, but also negation: once we affirm the divine attributes, which are known by natural reason (this is the kataphatic way), we must deny the mode of limited realization thereof that we know here below (this is the apophatic way). Silence is an essential part of the apophatic way of gaining access to God, which was so highly prized by the Fathers of the Church, especially the Greeks; this makes them demand silence of arguments when faced with the mystery of God (Clement of Alexandria, Gregory Nazianzen, Gregory of Nyssa).

It is nonetheless true that silence is above all the positive attitude of someone who prepares to welcome God by listening. Yes, God acts in the silence. Hence this very important remark by the great Saint John of the Cross: “The Father said only one word, namely his Son, and in an eternal silence he always says it: the soul too must hear it in silence.”[1] The Book of Wisdom had already noted in this regard the manner in which God intervened to deliver the chosen people from captivity in Egypt: that unforgettable act took place during the night: “For while gentle silence enveloped all things, and night in its swift course was now half gone, your all-powerful word leaped from heaven, from the royal throne” (Wis 18:14). Later, this verse would be understood by Christian liturgical tradition as a prefiguration of the silent Incarnation of the Eternal Word in the crib in Bethlehem. As for Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity, she would insist on silence as a condition for contemplating God the Holy Trinity.

And so we have to make silence: this is of course an activity, and not a form of idleness. If our “interior cell phone” is always busy because we are “having a conversation” with other creatures, how can the Creator reach us, how can he “call us”? We must therefore purify our mind of its curiosities, the will of its plans, in order to open ourselves totally to the graces of light and strength that God wants to give us profusely: “Father, not my will, but yours be done.” Ignatian “indifference” is therefore a form of silence too.




Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Prayer to the Holy Spirit


This is a beautiful prayer to the Holy Spirit that I found at In God's Company 2. It comes from Fr. Jozo of Medjugorje:

Fr. Jozo's Prayer to the Holy Spirit in Siroki Brijeg October 3, 2000


Come, O Most Holy Spirit, come to us today. We need your love, because we desire to go on the new way to return to the Father, to take the step to the Father. O Come, Holy Spirit, You who makes all things new. Today grant a miracle in us and through us. Change our hearts. Take from us our hearts of stone and give us a new heart, a heart that knows how to love, how to pray, how to forgive. A heart that knows how to embrace the cross and recognize the will of God and carry it to the end. Come, O Most Holy Spirit, You who are our peace, come fill us with peace. You who are love, fill us with love and blessing and salvation. We are not here accidentally. We have been called, that we may be able to recognize our call and our mission. We ask You to come O Most Holy Spirit, that our masks may melt away, that our true face may be revealed before You. Come, O Most Holy Spirit, may a miracle happen today: the beginning of our conversion, the beginning of our true devotion. Come, O Most Holy Spirit pour out Your grace and Your strength on Your Church and convert us. Sanctify us. Change us. Come, O Most Holy Spirit, we are the Church united together in prayer with the Mother. As the disciples at the very beginning, united together with Her in prayer for the gift of Your Spirit, for the gift of love, that we may be freed from selfishness and hatred, that we may be freed from every evil, and that we may start to love, that we may start to forgive and to pray, that we may start to fast. Come, O Most Holy Spirit. Come bless us. Come, change us. You who are prayer, come and anoint us with prayer that we may become the Church that believes in the power of prayer. Come, Most Holy Spirit, renew prayer in us, that we may become the renewers of family prayer.Come, O Most Holy Spirit, come heal us, come bless us, come convert us. O You who anoints with Your Peace, with Your Joy, with Your Love. Come anoint us.


In the last message O Blessed Mother, You say, that the one who prays, lives joy and peace and love. O Blessed Mother, here is the Church in prayer, here is the Church who desires to renew itself in prayer, firm in prayer, come to fall in love with prayer. O grant that these days may be the renewal of our prayer, of our faith through prayer, of our love through prayer, of a Christian life in prayer. Come, O Most Holy Spirit. Come, pour Yourself out upon us. The Church united together with the Mother is praying to you, You who make all things new. Grant that this Church may become new. It may become a Church of prayer, a holy Church, a sign amongst nations, your city on the hillside, your light on the way, Your Self. Come, O Most Holy Spirit. Come and pour Yourself out upon us. Our Father who art in Heaven....Hail Mary, full of grace...Mother and Queen of Peace - pray for us. Mother of the Church - pray for us. Mother and Queen of the family - pray for us. Consolation of the Sorrowful - pray for us, help of Christians - pray for us, help of the sick - pray for us, gate of heaven - pray for us. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Saint of the day: Pope Pius V


Prayer to Mary, Help of Christians:
Mary, most powerful Virgin,
You are the mighty and glorious Protector of the Church.
You are the marvelous Help of Christians.
You are awe-inspiring as an army in battle array.
You have destroyed heresy in the world.
In the midst of our anguish, our struggle and our distress
defend us from the power of the enemy,
and at the hour of our death receive our soul into heaven. Amen.

(By St. John Bosco)

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Having Holy Boldness in Prayer

The following comes from Msgr. Pope:


There are some who wince at the notion of praying boldly to God, especially if anger or exasperation are part of that boldness. And yet the Bible itself models and counsels that we should include in our prayers the times when we are angry, exasperated, or disappointed in God. The psalms are filled with such prayers and great figures like Moses, David, and Job cry out to God quite plainly, expressing their anger and disappointment. I have written more on that here: A Meditation on the Role of Anger in Prayer.
At any rate, in this brief blog today I offer this example of a prayer of holy boldness from a great Saint of the Church: St. Catherine of Siena. Here is the background: Catherine’s mother, Lapa, lay dying, but Catherine was convinced that Lapa was not yet ready to die, and so she told God as much. The Lord disagreed, but Catherine remained undeterred in her assessment. And now we pick up the story and prayer …
Lapa died, or so it seemed to all the women who stood around her bed. She had refused to confess and receive the last Sacrament. Catherine lay over her mother’s corpse weeping and praying aloud.
O my dear Lord, is this how you keep the promise you once made to me that none in my house should suffer eternal death? You promised me too that you would not take my mother from this world before she could leave it in a state of grace, and here she lies dead, without having confessed or received the Sacrament. My Beloved Savior, I call to you in your great mercy, do not fail me! I will not go alive from your feet until you give me my mother back.
Speechless and overcome, the women around the deathbed saw that life seemed to creep back into Lapa’s body. She breathed and made some slight movement, … After a short time Monna Lapa was quite well again. [Told by her confessor, Blessed Fr. Raimondo, and inscribed in the Biography Catherine of Sienna by Sigrid Undset, pp 94-95].
And so here is the image of a saint at prayer: reverent but bold, seemingly unwilling to take “no” for an answer. Surely, on account of her usual and deep reverence, Catherine was allowed a bit more leeway than many of us; but do not doubt that God is often listening for us sinners to pray with a little conviction and intensity!
Somehow, too, it reminds me of a place called Cana, where the Mother of Jesus said, “They have no more wine.”  And though Jesus seemed unwilling, I am convinced that Mary gave him a look that only a mother could, a look that wouldn’t take “no” for an answer.  And the next thing you know, Jesus is making dozens of gallons of the best wine imaginable!
Are you praying with me, Church? Really praying? There is a place for boldness in prayer, not a boldness that loses all reverence, but a boldness nonetheless.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Irish Priest Wows Audience and Judges of Britain's Got Talent

The Shepherd’s Voice: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Fourth Sunday of Easter

The following comes from Scott Hahn at St. Paul Center:

Readings:
Acts 4:8–12
Ps 118:18–921–232629
1 Jn 3:1–2
Jn 10:11–18

Jesus, in today’s Gospel, says that He is the good shepherd the prophets had promised to Israel.
He is the shepherd-prince, the new David—who frees people from bondage to sin and gathers them into one flock, the Church, under a new covenant, made in His blood (see Ezekiel 34:10–1323–31).
His flock includes other sheep, He says, far more than the dispersed children of Israel (see Isaiah 56:8John 11:52). And He gave His Church the mission of shepherding all peoples to the Father.
In today’s First Reading, we see the beginnings of that mission in the testimony of Peter, whom the Lord appointed shepherd of His Church (see John 21:15–17).
Peter tells Israel’s leaders that the Psalm we sing today is a prophecy of their rejection and crucifixion of Christ. He tells the “builders” of Israel’s temple, that God has made the stone they rejected the cornerstone of a new spiritual temple, the Church (see Mark 12:10–131 Peter 2:4–7).
Through the ministry of the Church, the shepherd still speaks (see Luke 10:16 ),and forgives sins (see John 20:23), and makes His body and blood present, that all may know Him in the breaking of the bread (see Luke 24:35). It is a mission that will continue until all the world is one flock under the one shepherd.
In laying down His life and taking it up again, Jesus made it possible for us to know God as He did—as sons and daughters of the Father who loves us. As we hear in today’s Epistle, He calls us His children, as He called Israel His son when He led them out of Egypt and made His covenant with them (see Exodus 4:22–23Revelation 21:7).
Today, let us listen for His voice as He speaks to us in the Scriptures, and vow again to be more faithful followers. And let us give thanks for the blessings He bestows from His altar.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Totus Tuus: The Key to St. Pope John Paul the Great

The following comes from Tim Drake at The Catholic Pulse:
“Immaculate Conception, Mary my Mother… Possess my soul, Take over my entire personality and life, replace it with Yourself.” (Totus Tuus Prayer, Pope John Paul II)
As the story goes, so intimate was Pope John Paul II’s union with the Blessed Virgin Mary that when he was shot in St. Peter’s Square on May 13, 1981 and lay back in the vehicle, he looked up searching for an image of Our Lady. He found none. As a result, Pope John Paul II had a mosaic of Mary, Mater Ecclesiae (Mother of the Church) placed in the plaza later that same year, inaugurating it on December 8, 1981. Below the colorful image of Mary holding the Christ child are the words Totus Tuus (“Totally Yours”), the Pope’s papal motto.

“John Paul II, convinced that the Virgin Mary had protected him on that day, immediately expressed the desire that an image of the Madonna be placed in the square,” explained Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, Vatican Secretariat of State during the pontificate of Pope John Paul II. It’s impossible to understand St. John Paul II without understanding his connection to Mary, the Mother of Christ. She is the key to comprehending the man, his life, and his papacy.

Karol Wojtyla’s entrustment to Mary occurred at a young age. Born May 18, 1920, the young Karol lost his mother Emilia just prior to his ninth birthday. The day after her funeral, Karol’s father, took him and his older brother to an outdoor shrine, telling them that the Blessed Virgin Mary would look after them until they could be reunited with their mother in Heaven.

In the intervening years, the young Karol took his first pilgrimage to Czestochowa, home of the Pauline Monastery of Jasna Góra and the painting of the Black Madonna, Our Lady of Czestochowa and a popular Polish shrine to the Virgin Mary.

In secondary school Karol served as president of the Sodality of Mary, and as a young teen, he frequently visited a secluded convent church to pray before an image of Our Lady. Clearly, Karol had taken Mary as his spiritual mother.

By the age of 20, Karol had lost everyone he loved — his grandparents, parents, and siblings. As a young adult, Karol became involved with Jan Tyranowski’s “Living Rosary” prayer group. Each member of the group was expected to pray a mystery of the Rosary daily. Through his relationship with Tyranowski, Karol deepened his relationship with the Blessed Mother and was introduced to the Carmelite spirituality of St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross.

“He was one of those unknown saints, hidden amid the others like a marvelous light at the bottom of life, at a depth where night usually reigns,” said Pope John Paul II of Tyranowski. “He disclosed to me the riches of his inner life, of his mystical life. In his words, in his spirituality and in the example of a life given to God alone, he represented a new world that I did not yet know.”

It was also at this time that Wojtyla was introduced to St. Louis de Montfort’s “True Devotion to Mary” and made his consecration to Jesus through Mary, describing it as a “decisive turning point” in his life. Not long after, under the Nazi occupation of Poland, Karol made his decision to enter the underground seminary and study for the priesthood.

“I was already convinced that Mary leads us to Christ, but at that time I began to realize also that Christ leads us to his Mother,” said Wojtyla. “One can even say that just as Christ on Calvary indicated his mother to the disciple John, so he points her out to anyone who strives to know and love him.” 

Pope John Paul II admitted that he needed to reread de Montfort’s book several times to understand the idea that Marian consecration took nothing from devotion to Christ.
I found the answer to my perplexities due to the fear that the devotion to Mary, if excessive, might end by compromising the supremacy of the worship owed to Christ. Under the wise guidance of Saint Louis-Marie, I understood that, if one lives the mystery of Mary in Christ, such a risk does not exist.
With his election as Pope in 1978, Pope John Paul II took Totus Tuus as his papal motto, placing his entire pontificate into her hands. Whenever he began a book, encyclical, or speech, he inscribed the motto on the top of the first page, dedicated his writing to Mary.

Exactly 64 years after Our Lady of Fatima’s appearance to three shepherd children in Fatima, Portugal, on May 13, 1981, shots rang out in St. Peter’s Square as an assassin attempted to kill Pope John Paul II. Riding in the ambulance on the way to the hospital, personal secretary Monsignor Stanislaw Dziwisz heard the Pope praying, “O Maria, Madonna! Maria, Madonna!” (“O Mary, my Mother”).

Pope John Paul II later said that “one hand fired the bullet; another guided it.” He attributed his salvation to Mary’s intercession, even visiting the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima a year later and having the bullet placed in her crown.

Read the rest here.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

10 Positive Things That Happen When We Pray

The following comes from Gary Zimak:


Why should I bother to pray?
If you’re like me, you’ve probably asked yourself this question at least once in your life. Whether it’s motivated by the fact that “God already knows what I need” or by “God doesn’t answer my prayers”, the fact of the matter is that the question does get raised by all of us. Even worse, we sometimes take it a step further and stop praying. In an attempt to highlight the importance of prayer and combat the desire to give it up, here are 10 positive things that happen EVERY time we pray from the heart:
1. We Receive – Without exception, sincere prayer is always effective. Although we don’t always receive what we want, we always get “something”. According to Jesus, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Mt 7:7-8) As we read further, however, He assures us that we’ll only receive good things and will never get something that will hurt us (spiritually). Sometimes this frustrates us because we’re often confused about what we TRULY need. If we look at this from a “glass half full” point of view, even when God says “no” to our requests, we are receiving protection from something that could potentially hurt our chance at salvation!
2. We Follow God’s Will – In the Bible (the inspired word of God), St. Paul writes that we should “pray constantly” (1 Thessalonians 5:17) and goes on to say that this is God’s will for us. When we pray, we’re doing exactly what God wants us to do at that moment in time. How often can we say that with certainty about our other activities?
3. We Profess Our Faith – When we pray, we acknowledge our belief in God. While it sounds like a “no brainer”, it really is a significant profession of faith. We’d be foolish to pray to Him if we didn’t believe that He exists or that He can help us. Each time we turn to the Lord in prayer, we’re saying “Lord, I believe in You”.
4. We Imitate Christ – The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us that Jesus prayed often, especially before the decisive moments of His mission (CCC 2599 – 2606). Whenever we pray, we imitate Our Lord. Whenever we’re tempted to think that “prayer doesn’t do any good”, thinking about Jesus at prayer should put an end to that baseless line of thinking.
“If He who is without sin prayed, how much more ought sinners to pray?” (St. Cyprian of Carthage)
5. We Enter Into A Relationship With God – In her autobiography, St. Teresa of Avila stated that prayer is “being on terms of friendship with God, frequently conversing with Him who, as we know, loves us.” According to the Catechism,“prayer is the living relationship of the children of God with their Father who is good beyond measure, with His Son Jesus Christ and with the Holy Spirit.” (CCC 2565)
6. We Increase Our Chances For Salvation - To put it simply, prayer will help you get to Heaven. Far from just “asking for things”, prayer is an expression of love and a relationship with God. When we pray, we show our love for God and express a desire to do His will. How important is that? Here’s what St. Alphonsus Liguori had to say…
“Those who pray are certainly saved; those who do not pray are certainly damned” (St. Alphonsus Liguori)
7. We Obtain What God Wants To Give Us – While there are some gifts that God will give us even if we don’t ask (the grace that moves us to grow closer to Him, for example), there are other gifts that won’t be granted unless we ask. Jesus attests to this with the words of the Lord’s Prayer (which contains several petitions) and with His teaching that the Father will “give good things to those who ask Him.” (Mt 7:11) Further evidence can be seen in St. Paul’s letter to the Philippians when he urges us to let our requests be made known to God (Phil 4:6). By not asking, we deprive ourselves of many good things that God wants us to have.
“God wills that our desire should be exercised in prayer, that we may be able to receive what He is prepared to give.” (St. Augustine)
8. We Practice Humility – The Bible is filled with verses supporting the virtue of humility:
“For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 14:11)

So humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time. (1 Peter 5:6)

Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will exalt you. (James 4:10)

Every time we pray, we acknowledge that we are dependent on God and that He is almighty. This holds true whether our prayer is one of praise, petition or thanksgiving. It’s difficult to be proud when you’re kneeling in prayer ;-)
9. We Obtain Peace – Praying will bring us peace. According to the Bible:
Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)
Prayer = Peace. This is VERY appealing to those of us who are prone to anxiety!
10. We Use Our Time Wisely – Unlike useless activities such as worrying and complaining, prayer is a very good use of our time. Since studies have shown that the brain can’t think about two things simultaneously, time focused on prayer means time not spent worrying or pursuing other destructive tasks. Jesus told us to “ask and we shall receive” (Mt 7:7) and that worrying does no good (Lk 12:25). It makes sense to listen to His advice!
Obviously, the prayer that I’m speaking of above is sincere, “from the heart” dialog with God. “Going though the motions” or babbling rote phrases will not produce the above results. When we truly mean the words we pray, however, we can count on every one of these benefits. Remember this the next time you’re tempted to put off praying, thinking that it will do no good. There is no more productive activity we can do on this earth!