Monday, March 18, 2019

A Girl Who Inspired Archbishop Fulton Sheen


The following comes from St. Mary Valley:

A few months before he died in 1979, Bishop Fulton Sheen gave a tv interview. The reporter asked, “Your Excellency, you have inspired millions. Who inspired you? Was it the pope?”

Bishop Sheen responded that it was not the pope or a cardinal or another bishop or even a priest or nun. It was an eleven-year-old girl. He explained that when the communists took over China in the late forties, they imprisoned a priest in his own rectory. Looking through the window, he saw the soldier enter the church and break open the tabernacle, scattering the Blessed Sacrament on the floor. The priest knew the exact number of hosts: thirty-two.

Unnoticed by the soldiers, a young girl had been praying in the back of the church and she hid when they came in. That night the girl returned and spent an hour in prayer. She then entered the sanctuary, knelt and bent over to take one of the hosts on her tongue.

The girl came back each night, spent an hour in prayer and received Jesus by picking up a sacred host with her tongue. The thirty-second night, after consuming the final host, she made an accidental sound, awakening a soldier. He ran after her and when he caught her, he struck her with his rifle butt. The noise woke the priest – but too late. From his house, he saw the girl die.

Bishop Sheen said that when he heard about this, it inspired him so much that he made a promise that he would spend one hour each day before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. He always said that the power of his priesthood came from the holy hour.

Tonight, brothers and sisters, we celebrate the institution of the Eucharist. At the end of the Mass we will have a procession inside the church to adore our Savior. We will invite you to spend an hour with Jesus. From him comes our strength.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Feast of Saint Patrick


Happy Saint Patrick's Day! Everyone can be Irish today and celebrate! Maybe we can all imitate the holiness and zeal of St. Patrick as well! The following comes from the catholic.org site:

St. Patrick of Ireland is one of the world's most popular saints. Apostle of Ireland, born at Kilpatrick, near Dumbarton, in Scotland, in the year 387; died at Saul, Downpatrick, Ireland, 17 March, 461.


Along with St. Nicholas and St. Valentine, the secular world shares our love of these saints. This is also a day when everyone's Irish.


There are many legends and stories of St. Patrick, but this is his story. Patrick was born around 385 in Scotland, probably Kilpatrick. His parents were Calpurnius and Conchessa, who were Romans living in Britian in charge of the colonies.


As a boy of fourteen or so, he was captured during a raiding party and taken to Ireland as a slave to herd and tend sheep. Ireland at this time was a land of Druids and pagans. He learned the language and practices of the people who held him.


During his captivity, he turned to God in prayer. He wrote "The love of God and his fear grew in me more and more, as did the faith, and my soul was rosed, so that, in a single day, I have said as many as a hundred prayers and in the night, nearly the same." "I prayed in the woods and on the mountain, even before dawn. I felt no hurt from the snow or ice or rain."


Patrick's captivity lasted until he was twenty, when he escaped after having a dream from God in which he was told to leave Ireland by going to the coast. There he found some sailors who took him back to Britian, where he reunited with his family. He had another dream in which the people of Ireland were calling out to him "We beg you, holy youth, to come and walk among us once more."


He began his studies for the priesthood. He was ordained by St. Germanus, the Bishop of Auxerre, whom he had studied under for years. Later, Patrick was ordained a bishop, and was sent to take the Gospel to Ireland. He arrived in Ireland March 25, 433, at Slane. One legend says that he met a chieftain of one of the tribes, who tried to kill Patrick. Patrick converted Dichu (the chieftain) after he was unable to move his arm until he became friendly to Patrick.

Patrick began preaching the Gospel throughout Ireland, converting many. He and his disciples preached and converted thousands and began building churches all over the country. Kings, their families, and entire kingdoms converted to
Christianity when hearing Patrick's message.

Patrick by now had many disciples, among them Beningnus, Auxilius, Iserninus, and Fiaac, (all later canonized as well).


Patrick preached and converted all of Ireland for 40 years. He worked many miracles and wrote of his love for God in Confessions. After years of living in poverty, traveling and enduring much suffering he died March 17, 461. He died at Saul, where he had built the first church.

Friday, March 15, 2019

The Joy of Suffering

The following comes from In God's Company 2:

"I consider the sufferings of the present to be as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed in us." -Romans 8:18

When we suffer, we may take a pill for pain relief. However, Paul recommends that we pray for a deeper awareness of God's glory. We need to increase our awareness of God's glory more than decrease our pain. Then we will consider our suffering as nothing compared to His glory to be revealed in us. We can even become so aware of God's glory that we consider suffering a privilege (Phil 1:29), find our joy in our suffering (Col 1:24), and even rejoice in proportion to our suffering (1 Pt 4:13).

For most people, their joy increases as their suffering decreases. For Christians aware of God's glory, our joy increases as our suffering increases. This is only possible for those deeply aware of God's glorious presence (1 Pt 2:19). This fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Ps 111:10), even of wisdom concerning our suffering. We find joy in suffering only when we suffer redemptively through self-sacrifice and persecution.

Most suffering should be removed through repentance, evangelization, deliverance, and/or healing. Redemptive suffering, however, should be compared to God's glory and considered nothing (see Rm 8:18). We should rejoice in redemptive suffering and even seek to increase it by living totally for Christ.

 Father, give me the faith and love to pray to share more in Your sufferings (see Phil 3:10).

 "So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but shall do My will, achieving the end for which I sent it." -Is 55:11

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Fr. Jozo Zovko: Our Generation Seeks and Needs its Apostles

The following comes from Medjugorje Today:

“Our time of trials and troubles – like floods, earthquakes and wars – has shown who is a Christian, and who is a man-humanist. This is the time of those who have the heart and the time for prayer, the time for good deeds. Such Christians have the eyes to see the wounds and pains, the sufferings and needs of their neighbors. And today only love – Christian, Jesus’ love – saves and that is why we must stop interpreting and making new theories why and from where problems and troubles come”. Fr. Jozo Zovko states.

“So many live unwisely, and many have lost the joy of life and are fighting against the forces of evil and darkness losing the last hope. Everything is contrary to their wishes and dreams and they simply are losing the will to live. In that night of ignorance and trial man needs God. He is the light. He is a new day. He is our safety.”

“Our generation seeks and needs its apostles. They are not the people who pride themselves on their diplomas and knowledge but the people who have changed their lives – converts. Today only true converts, or rather saints, have the opportunity to help neighbors. Today’s Samaritans watch how Levites and priests passing by the neighbors knowing they have nothing to give them because they have no time, because their time that should be devoted to the neighbor is lost” Fr. Jozo further notes.

“Such lost time makes man nervous and unhappy. Our wrong education makes the love for the neighbor difficult for us, and our conflicts make wounds on the body of the Church family. We are waiting for the good Samaritan, the Samaritan who wholeheartedly meets and helps the needy. He always has something to give and offer, and never walks without the indispensable oil and wine. He knows where the medical clinic is and to whom the patient should be taken to have his health restored.”

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Hans Urs Von Balthasar on Our Unconditional Yes

When you say Yes to God unconditionally, you have no idea how far this Yes is going to take you.  Certainly farther than you can guess and calculate beforehand… but just how far and in what form? At the same time, this Yes is the sole, non-negotiable prerequisite of all Christian understanding, of all theology and ecclesial wisdom.  

                         Cardinal Hans Urs Von Balthasar

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

The Question for Our Age: “Quo Vadis?”

The following comes from the Catholic World Report:


Secular liberalism is at odds with Catholicism. The point seemed obvious to most people until the postwar period, when the thought took hold that an essentially harmonious relationship could be established that would draw on the American model. America, it seemed, was different from Europe with its long tradition of statism and anti-clericalism. It rejected an established church, but embraced religious freedom, an active and diverse civil society, and a limited and decentralized government that did not try to dominate culture and gave the Church the protection and freedom she needed to thrive.

The attempt to establish a harmonious relation with the liberal state has been less fruitful than hoped, and even in America has run into profound difficulties. Our government and other authoritative institutions have become more centralized and more concerned with remodeling all aspects of life, including the beliefs and attitudes of the people. We are becoming more like Europe, and to make matters worse the outlook of the governing classes on both sides of the Atlantic has moved in a direction radically opposed to both religion and natural law. Throughout the Western world, Catholics and Catholic institutions are increasingly required to conform to anti-Catholic norms, and in much of it you can be punished as a criminal for public assertion of Catholic moral doctrine.

The intolerance is aimed less at Catholicism in particular, although the Church is a highly-visible target, than any form of Christianity that does not reduce without remainder to progressive politics and private therapy. We are increasingly ruled by practical utopians who believe themselves comprehensively responsible for human relations, and their efforts leave no place for an independent and refractory organization like the Church that proposes a contrary vision that now counts as intrinsically antisocial and oppressive.

So where will the present situation lead if—as seems quite possible—our secular authorities continue on their present course? Will the blood of the martyrs once again be the seed of the Church, or will multiplying restrictions and disabilities wear down Catholic life until the Church all but disappears?

Many societies have been anti-Catholic. How effective their anti-Catholicism has been has depended on the nature of the society and its guiding principles. Roman society, for example, had nothing to propose that could fill the needs Christianity satisfied, and the Roman empire was more loosely organized and its activities more limited than modern states. As a result, Roman persecutions, however savage they might be, were mostly local, sporadic, and ineffectual. By the time the Romans saw a need for comprehensive enforcement of religious loyalty the Christians were too strong and the empire too divided for the policy to be effective.

Some of the Church’s more recent opponents have been more organized, focused, steady, and successful. The Muslims eliminated Catholicism from North Africa, the home of Cyprian and Augustine, and the Protestants did much the same over large stretches of Europe. They were able to do so because the governments they established had more comprehensive concerns than the Roman government did, they took the issue of religious unity more seriously, and they stood for principles that had the broad-based appeal and staying power needed to establish themselves at least somewhat durably among the people.

In the last century the most severe attacks were carried on by secular systems that functioned as religions but excluded transcendent truth and authority. The attacks were organized and focused to the point of fanaticism, and they often led to widespread martyrdom of clergy and ordinary believers, as with the radically anticlerical regimes in Mexico and Spain and the totalitarian regimes that ruled Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia, and their respective empires.

Those attacks were not enduringly effective because the regimes carrying them on were too much at odds with human nature and with the societies they dominated for their vision to endure. Thus, for example, religious belief has bounced back in Russia, and Christianity is making unprecedented advances in China. Both countries had been searching for some sort of guiding principle, and when communism failed Christianity stepped into the gap. (In regions like East Germany and the Czech Republic, where communism was imposed from outside on a society in which religion was already weak, Soviet domination does seem to have accelerated the loss of faith.)

It appears, then, that as a human matter suppression of Catholicism is likely to work if the system that carries it on endures, takes the effort seriously, and offers a reasonably appealing way of life that provides somewhat of a substitute for what is suppressed.

So what does that mean in the case of secular liberalism, assuming it remains as ideological a system as it now seems? It has been enormously successful as a practical matter, and the way of life it offers evidently appeals to a great many people. Further, its opposition to Catholicism has become much more serious and active during the post-60s period. The result is that it has been very successful in changing religious views and weakening Church authority among the laity and even among many clergy and religious.

Given all that, the obvious question as to the future of Catholicism in the West, humanly speaking, is how much staying power secular liberalism will have, and whether it will maintain its appeal to ordinary people. Luckily for Catholics (and for humanity in general), those requirements bring weak points of the liberal system into focus. Secular liberalism makes maximum equal satisfaction its highest good. That principle is what gives it popular appeal, but it means ever-greater demands on public resources, since people require more and more to be satisfied, and it also means ever-less discipline, loyalty, and public spirit to support the system, since it undermines ideals of love and sacrifice.

Secular liberalism lacks a grounded principle of authority, and its aspiration to universal satisfaction makes it adverse to widespread use of threats and force. As a result, its basic method for maintaining control is a system of payoffs, propaganda, and ever-more comprehensive regulation. That method has mostly been rather successful. Material benefits have been funded through the extraordinary productivity of capitalist economies in a technological age, propaganda facilitated by alliance with the mass media and the expertise and training industry (otherwise known as the educational system), and regulation made effective by a comparatively high degree of bureaucratic discipline and efficiency.

None of those resources are infinite or everlasting. Organizational discipline and efficiency don’t sit well with an emphasis on equal satisfaction, so they are unlikely to be maintained. Also, it is becoming harder and harder to fund public programs or provide individuals with satisfactory employment, so much so that public finance has been reduced to an endless series of short-term expedients that everyone knows cannot go on forever. When the money runs out, people start feeling real economic pressure, and the government is unable and seems unwilling to do anything for them, will they keep on believing what they are told? Why should they, when the basis of what they have been told is that they have a right to get what they want?

So it seems that during the coming decades it will be increasingly difficult for secular liberalism to maintain itself among the people as a minimally satisfying system of practice and belief. Still, historical change is generally slow, and liberalism has been very effective at weakening its competitors, so it is likely to be with us in an ever-less appealing and successful form for some time to come. The best analogy to the period we may have before us is therefore the Brezhnev era in the Soviet Union. Catholics can expect any number of petty restraints and stupid oppressions, but no terror, and less and less real belief in the official system. As a result, we can very likely expect a fertile field for Christian witness and for the growth of new forms of Christian life and revival of very old ones.

Friday, February 22, 2019

Chris Stefanick: The Rock of St. Peter

Friday, February 15, 2019

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.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

How to Hear God Speaking to You

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The following comes from Fr. Healy at the Catholic Exchange:

Many people never listen to God because they are not aware that He speaks to them. Yet, God does speak. One way to live in His presence is to acquire the habit of recognizing His voice when He speaks. If we do not know that God wishes to communicate with us, or the ways He has chosen, then our passage through life will be devoid of the most perfect of guides.

When does God speak to us? He speaks at all times, especially in prayer. Prayer is a conversation with God. But it is not a monologue. When we pray, then, we should also listen, because a good conversationalist is also a good listener. We do not pray well when we recite ready-made formulas quickly and distractedly. We act as if God has only to listen to us, and that we have no need to listen to the thoughts and desires that He wishes to communicate to us. He has promised, “If thou wilt hear the voice of the Lord thy God, and do what is right before Him, and obey His commandments, and keep all His precepts, none of the evils that I laid upon Egypt will I bring upon thee.”
Unfortunately, many of us have never trained ourselves to listen to His voice. But, if we are to know God’s will, we must listen to Him and obey Him when we recognize His commandments.
But how does God speak to us? God is a pure spirit. Unlike man, He has no voice. If He wishes to speak to us, He must use some means outside of Himself, adapted to our nature, by which He can communicate ideas. He may use things we can see and hear in order to stir our imagination, or He may enter directly into our thoughts.

God speaks to you personally

Does God, then, speak to man? How can we ever doubt it? How foolish it is to read all types of books and neglect the word of God! The Scriptures were not meant only for particular groups of people; they were meant for all men at all times. God is eternal; His words are eternal. Although He speaks to all men, He speaks to us personally.
This does not mean that every person should take the Bible and interpret it according to his own fancy. No, the Church alone is the divinely appointed authority to guide us in the correct interpretation  of the Bible. The Church encourages us to read it, because she knows that the word of God can enter into our minds and that God, in His own mysterious way, can teach the true way of life, the way of love and intimate union with Him.
St. Ignatius of Loyola felt that God was speaking directly to him, when, on his sick bed, he read the words:
“For what shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world, and suffer the loss of his soul?”
But, we ask, is this prayer? It is at least the beginning of prayer. We listen to these words of Christ; we ponder over them; they awaken thoughts and desires within us. We begin to believe, to hope, to love. Our will becomes inspired, and we break forth in ardent affections, calling on Christ to help us, begging forgiveness, expressing gratitude, performing little acts of adoration — and surely this is prayer.
We often read of visions, apparitions, and revelations in which God spoke to the saints. St. Paul on the road to Damascus is a classic example. And we read in the life of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque that, while she was engaged in prayer, Jesus often spoke to her of the devotion to His Sacred Heart.
Such conversations with God are not rare in the lives of the canonized. But must we in our conversation with God await the appearance of Jesus, of some heavenly voice or extraordinary apparition, some heavenly manifestation from God? Absolutely not. It is true that God does single out some chosen souls to whom He speaks directly and who actually experience the divine power working in them, but these are very few; it is not the way that God ordinarily uses. We should not even desire that God speak to us in this extraordinary manner. We should not expect it. Visions and revelations are not necessary for us to grow in deep love for God. We may fall deeply in love with Him and practice faithfully the presence of God, yet never receive any extraordinary manifestations from Him. These are special gifts, and God gives them to whom He wills, and when He wills.

God speaks to your mind and to your heart

Nevertheless, God does speak to all of us without exception in a more direct way than we have yet mentioned. It is a hidden way, by which He enters directly into our thoughts and desires. Our most hidden secrets are not secrets to Him. He comes right into our mind. Our thoughts are not only our thoughts; our desires are not only our desires — they may also be God’s thoughts and desires. We know we can do nothing without God. Even such ordinary things as eating, breathing, and walking cannot be done without the ordinary help that God gives us. But, in this instance, we are presupposing this natural help of God and are referring to a greater and more noble assistance from Him.
Does God help us in a special way to think good thoughts and to desire holy things? He most assuredly does. For we are living in a supernatural order and destined to a supernatural end, the Beatific Vision. To attain this end, God not only gives us the principle of supernatural life, sanctifying grace, but He also gives us actual graces that help us to perform supernatural actions and thus to grow in the grace of God. These actual graces are, especially, the holy thoughts and desires that God creates in us.
God does not have to use external words and signs to attract our attention  and convey ideas to us. He enters our minds directly. He speaks secretly, noiselessly, as befits the Divinity. It is only by faith that we know He is working in us. For example, God once spoke in a special, hidden way to St. Peter, who then confessed Jesus to be the Son of God. “Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona,” said our Lord. “For flesh and blood hath not revealed this to thee, but my Father in Heaven.”
St. John tells us that we will know all things from the Holy Spirit: “But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things.”St. Paul says that God enters our very thoughts: “Not that we are sufficient to think anything of ourselves, as of ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God.”
God also enters our hearts and inspires us to holy desires. “And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God, was listening; and the Lord touched her heart to give heed to what was being said by Paul.”
Thus, the Scriptures and the Church tell us that God speaks to us in the silence of our minds and hearts. He speaks to all men, but all men do not hear Him. God speaks to our mind and heart when we kneel to meditate or to adore Him in the Blessed Sacrament. He enters our mind when the passing things of time excite our thoughts. It is He who gives us holy thoughts to conquer our temptations. It is He who stirs up within us the desire to persevere against all adversaries.
Perhaps we have never realized that God is illuminating our intellect and inspiring our will. Yet He does just that. That is why we are told not to do all the talking in prayer. For, if we continually recite vocal prayers without pausing now and then to think, we will stifle the thoughts and desires that God wishes to excite in us.
St. Thérèse of Lisieux tells us how she listened to the voice of God. “I know and have experienced that ‘the Kingdom of God is within us,’ that our Master has no need of books or teacher to instruct a soul. The Teacher of teachers instructs without sound of words, and though I have never heard Him speak, yet I know He is within me, always guiding and inspiring me; and just when I need them, lights, hitherto unseen, break in upon me. As a rule, it is not during prayer that this happens, but in the midst of my daily duties.”
But we are not only to listen; it would be folly to remain in a state of mental blankness, waiting for God to speak. No, prayer is a loving conversation, and, when the Holy Spirit moves us, it is time to begin our part of the colloquy.
One way, then, to practice the exercise of the presence of God is to listen to God, to be aware that He speaks to us, to be ever conscious that God can use all things to communicate with us.
The was excreted from Fr. Healy’s Awakening Your Soul to the Presence of God, which is now available from Sophia Institute Press. 

Friday, February 1, 2019

Tim Staples on Defending Your Faith

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Today the Church honors St. John Bosco's life of charity


The following comes from the CNA:

On Jan. 31, the Roman Catholic Church honors St. John Bosco (or “Don Bosco”), a 19th century Italian priest who reached out to young people to remedy their lack of education, opportunities, and faith.

John Bosco was born in August of 1815 into a family of peasant farmers in Castelnuovo d'Asti – a place which would one day be renamed in the saint's honor as “Castelnuovo Don Bosco.”

John's father died when he was two years old, but he drew strength from his mother Margherita's deep faith in God.

Margherita also taught her son the importance of charity, using portions of her own modest means to support those in even greater need. John desired to pass on to his own young friends the example of Christian discipleship that he learned from his mother.

At age nine, he had a prophetic dream in which a number of unruly young boys were uttering words of blasphemy. Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary appeared to John in the dream, saying he would bring such youths to God through the virtues of humility and charity.

Later on, this dream would help John to discern his calling as a priest. But he also sought to follow the advice of Jesus and Mary while still a boy: he would entertain his peers with juggling, acrobatics, and magic tricks, before explaining a sermon he had heard, or leading them in praying the Rosary.

John's older brother Anthony opposed his plan to be a priest, and antagonized him so much that he left home to become a farm worker at age 12. After moving back home three years later, John worked in various trades and finished school in order to attend seminary.

In 1841, John Bosco was ordained a priest. From that time, John was known as “Don” Bosco, a traditional Italian title of honor for priests. In the city of Turin, he began ministering to boys and young men who lived on the streets, many of whom were without work or education.

The industrial revolution had drawn large numbers of people into the city to look for work that was frequently grueling and sometimes scarce. Don Bosco was shocked to see how many boys ended up in prison before the age of 18, left to starve spiritually and sometimes physically.

The priest was determined to save as many young people as he could from a life of degradation. He established a group known as the Oratory of St. Francis de Sales, and became a kindly spiritual father to boys in need. His aging mother helped support the project in its early years.

John's boyhood dream came to pass: he became a spiritual guide and provider along with his fellow Salesian priests and brothers, giving boys religious instruction, lodging, education, and work opportunities. He also helped Saint Mary Dominic Mazzarello form a similar group for girls.

This success did not come easily, as the priest struggled to find reliable accommodations and support for his ambitious apostolate. Italy's nationalist movement made life difficult for religious orders, and its anti-clerical attitudes even led to assassination attempts against Don Bosco.

But such hostility did not stop the Salesians from expanding in Europe and beyond. They were helping 130,000 children in 250 houses by the end of Don Bosco's life. “I have done nothing by myself,” he stated, saying it was “Our Lady who has done everything” through her intercession with God.

St. John Bosco died in the early hours of Jan. 31, 1888, after conveying a message: “Tell the boys that I shall be waiting for them all in Paradise.” He was canonized on Easter Sunday of 1934, and is a patron saint of young people, apprentices, and Catholic publishers and editors.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Saint of the Day: Francis de Sales, Patron of Church Unity


The following comes from the CNA:

On Jan. 24, during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity that runs from Jan. 18-25, Catholics will celebrate the life of St. Francis de Sales. A bishop and Doctor of the Church, his preaching brought thousands of Protestants back to the Catholic fold, and his writings on the spiritual life have proved highly influential.

The paradoxical circumstances of Francis' birth, in the Savoy region (now part of France) during 1567,  sum up several contradictory tendencies of the Church during his lifetime. The reforms of the Council of Trent had purified the Church in important ways, yet Catholics and Protestants still struggled against one another – and against the temptations of wealth and worldly power.

Francis de Sales, a diplomat's son, was born into aristocratic wealth and privilege. Yet he was born in a room that his family named the “St. Francis room” – where there hung a painting of that saint, renowned for his poverty, preaching in the wilderness. In later years, Francis de Sales would embrace poverty also; but early in his ministry, the faithful chided him for having an aristocratic manner.

In many ways, Francis' greatest achievements – such as the “Introduction to the Devout Life,” an innovative spiritual guidebook for laypersons, or his strong emphasis on the role of human love in Christian devotion – represent successful attempts to re-integrate seemingly disparate “worldly” and “spiritual” realities into one coherent vision of life.

Few people, however, would have predicted these achievements for Francis during his earlier years. As a young man, he studied rhetoric, the humanities, and law. He had his law degree by age 25, and was headed for a political career. All the while, he was keeping the depths of his spiritual life – such as his profound devotion to the Virgin Mary, and his resolution of religious celibacy – a secret from the world.
Eventually, however, the truth came out, and Francis clashed with his father, who had arranged a marriage for him. The Bishop of Geneva intervened on Francis' behalf, finding him a position in the administration of the Swiss Church that led to his priestly ordination in 1593. He volunteered to lead a mission to bring Switzerland, dominated by Calvinist Protestantism, back to the Catholic faith.

Taking on a seemingly impossible task, with only one companion – his cousin – the new priest adopted a harsh but hopeful motto: “Apostles battle by their sufferings, and triumph only in death." It would serve him well as he traveled through Switzerland, facing many Protestants' indifference or hostility, and being attacked by wild animals and even would-be assassins.

Some of Francis' hearers –even, for a time, John Calvin's protege Theodore Beza– found themselves captivated by the thoughtful, eloquent and joyful manner of the priest who implored their reunion with the Church. But he had more success when he began writing out these sermons and exhortations, slipping them beneath the doors that had been closed against him.

This pioneering use of religious tracts proved surprisingly effective at breaking down the resistance of the Swiss Calvinists, and it is estimated that between 40,000 and 70,000 of them returned to the Church through his efforts. He also served as a spiritual director, both in person and through written correspondence, with the latter format inspiring the “Introduction to the Devout Life.” 

In 1602, Francis was chosen to become the Bishop of Geneva, a position he did not seek or desire. Accepting the position, however, he gave the last twenty years of his life in ongoing sacrifice, for the restoration of Geneva's churches and religious orders. He also helped one of his spiritual directees, the widow and future saint Jane Frances de Chantal, to found an order with a group of women.

Worn out by nearly thirty years of arduous travel and other burdens of Church leadership, Francis fell ill in 1622 while visiting one of a convent he had helped to found in Lyons. He died there, three days after Christmas that year. St. Francis de Sales was canonized in 1665, and honored as a Doctor of the Church in 1877.

Because of the crucial role of writing in his apostolate, St. Francis de Sales is the patron of writers and journalists. He is also widely credited with restoring, during his own day, a sense of what the Second Vatican Council would later call the “universal call to holiness” – that is, the notion that all people, not only those in formal religious life, are called to the heights of Christian sanctification.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Fr. Benedict Groeschel: A Call To The Priesthood

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Spiritual Armor

The following comes from Catholic Exchange:


What happened between Mary and the Holy Spirit?
Scripture tells us precious little about this, the turning point of all salvation history. But from the fact that it resulted in the Incarnation of God, we can infer that this must have been an extraordinary encounter.
Luke 1 tells us two things about it. In the words of the angel Gabriel, “The Holy Spiritwill come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.”
At first blush, this description seems to understate what happened. We long for the sort of fantastic, awe-inspiring account of a divine manifestation like the lightning-flecked storm cloud that entranced the prophetic Ezekiel or the howling wind from heaven that showered tongues of fire on the heads of the apostles at Pentecost.
We don’t get any of that in Luke 1.
Or do we?
The text says much more than it appears to at first glance.

The sudden coming of the Spirit

The first detail about this encounter—that the Holy Spirit would come upon Mary—does not seem very informative. The language is ordinary enough in English. But in Greek the word, eperchomai, is used rarely in the New Testament.
In two instances it refers to the coming of the Holy Spirit—here and in Acts 1.
But the most common context in which the word is used is one involving the sudden onslaught of some calamity. Here’s an example, where Christ is talking about the end-times destruction of the earth, from Luke 21:35: “For as a snare shall it come upon all that sit upon the face of the whole earth” (Douay-Rheims). The word come upon is the same as in Luke 1. The New American Bible, Revised Edition, captures the sense of the word: “For that day will assault everyone who lives on the face of the earth.”
Likewise, in Luke 11:22, the word is used to describe the attack of a stronger man on a strong man’s castle, in one of Jesus’ parables. And, in Acts 14:19, it describes the coming of a mob that had St. Paul stoned.
Can the coming of the Holy Spirit really be likened to these other comings? Indeed, the notion of a sudden powerful coming that even wounds is often how divine encounters are described in the Scripture. Consider Paul on the road to Damascus in Acts 9:3, where “a light from the sky suddenly flashed around him,” leaving him stunned and temporarily blinded. And, in the Old Testament, Jacob’s meeting with an angel becomes a wrestling match, which leaves the patriarch with a wounded thigh.
Earlier in the chapter, the gospel writer elaborates on the end times, using the same word:
There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on earth nations will be in dismay, perplexed by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will die of fright in anticipation of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken (verses 25 to 26).
This is the power that came upon Mary—the power that could shake the heavens and leave its mark on the sun, the moon, and the stars. Of course, the coming of the Holy Spirit upon Mary was not unwanted or violent. The encounter was a wholly consensual one. As Mary told Gabriel, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.”
Mary, in the fullness of the grace from God, was the only person in the world who could be espoused to the Holy Spirit—the only one who could bear the power that rattled the heavens and the earth. Perhaps this is why we see her in Revelation 12 “clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.”

Monday, January 21, 2019

A Prayer for Priests by Fr. William Doyle

Here is a beautiful prayer for priests by Fr. Willie Doyle, heroic priest of World War I:

O my God, pour out in abundance Thy spirit of sacrifice upon Thy priests. It is both their glory and their duty to become victims, to be burnt up for souls, to live without ordinary joys, to be often the objects of distrust, injustice, and persecution.
The words they say every day at the altar, “This is my Body, this is my Blood,” grant them to apply to themselves: “I am no longer myself, I am Jesus, Jesus crucified. I am, like the bread and wine, a substance no longer itself, but by consecration another.”
O my God, I burn with desire for the sanctification of Thy priests. I wish all the priestly hands which touch Thee were hands whose touch is gentle and pleasing to Thee, that all the mouths uttering such sublime words at the altar should never descend to speaking trivialities.
Let priests in all their person stay at the level of their lofty functions, let every man find them simple and great, like the Holy Eucharist, accessible to all yet above the rest of men. O my God, grant them to carry with them from the Mass of today, a thirst for the Mass of tomorrow, and grant them, ladened themselves with gifts, to share these abundantly with their fellow men. Amen.

Hat tip to Deacon Greg!

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Archbishop Fulton Sheen: Christ, Priesthood and Victimhood

“If in Christ, Priesthood and victimhood are inseparable, should this not be so in ‘other-Christ’s’? Why have we considered ourselves only as offerers and not as offered, as preachers and not as sin-bearers, as social workers and not as redeemers? The priest is called to be a sin-bearer, as Christ was. This does not mean that he must wear hair shirts. Penance does not require hair shirts today; our neighbors are hair shirts. Victimhood means that we feel the guilt and sin of the world as if it were our own, and by constant union with Christ, seek to reconcile all mankind to Him. Love means identification with others – not only with the sheepfold, but also those who are not in it. If sin were finished, the Priest need only be a Priest; but if Calvary is continuing then the glorified Christ can still ask: why do you persecute me?” Archbishop Fulton Sheen (Those Mysterious Priests)

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger on the Church of the Future


“Let me go one step further. From today’s crisis, a Church will emerge tomorrow that will have lost a great deal. She will be small and, to a large extent, will have to start from the beginning. She will no longer be able to fill many of the buildings created in her period of great splendor. Because of the smaller number of her followers, she will lose many of her privileges in society. Contrary to what has happened until now, she will present herself much more as a community of volunteers....

"As a small community, she will demand much more from the initiative of each of her members and she will certainly also acknowledge new forms of ministry and will raise up to the priesthood proven Christians who have other jobs. In many smaller communities, respectively in social groups with some affinity, the normal care of souls will take place in this way....

"There will be an interiorized Church, which neither takes advantage of its political mandate nor flirts with the left or the right. This will be achieved with effort because the process of crystallization and clarification will demand great exertion. It will make her poor and a Church of the little people.... All this will require time. The process will be slow and painful.... 

(J. Ratzinger, Faith and the Future).