Thursday, October 31, 2019

Conquering Loneliness

The following comes from the Catholic Exchange:


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

An Archbishop Sheen Quote for Today

“Contact with the Divine is a privilege that can similarly turn into indifference unless each day one tries to get a step closer to the Lord… The only defense against acedia, against the tragic loss of divine reality, is a daily renewal of faith in Christ. The priest who has not kept near the fires of the tabernacle can strike no sparks from the pulpit.”
                 —Venerable Fulton J. Sheen

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Healing through the Blessed Sacrament

The following comes from the Georgia Bulletin:

A healing service flowed from the opening Mass of the Eucharistic Congress as a monstrance holding the Blessed Sacrament was placed on the altar. 


“The Holy Spirit has already begun the work of healing he intends to accomplish,” said Father Tim Hepburn, leading the bilingual service with Father Jorge Carranza.
Encouraging the faith of those seeking healing, Father Hepburn recalled Scripture stories of Paul and Silas, beaten and in prison, who began to sing praises to God despite their suffering. As they sang the building began to shake and the doors of the jail flew open.
“We are entering into the worship of God … and as we enter into our worship of the Lord, Jesus is going to open doors for our healing, even now,” he said.
The two priests alternated praying in English and Spanish, while musicians quietly sang consoling and simple words of faith. “Earth has no sorrow that heaven can’t heal. … All who are broken, lift up your face. O wanderer, come home. You’re not too far.”
Many stories in Scripture tell of people crying out, “Son of David, have mercy on me,” Father Hepburn said. “There is story after story of people who are sick, who are in a dark place, who are depressed, who found this cry in their hearts.”
“Can you remember one time in the Bible when Jesus said no? There is not one time. … We want you to cry out. This is a healing service and this is the place where you cry out, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me.’”
Quietly, he called forward teams of lay people who had volunteered and been trained to assist at the service. While they were blessed and they went to prayer stations on the perimeter of the hall, identified as Spanish or English prayer teams, Father Hepburn reminded everyone that the presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament on the altar was the focus. Those who wanted individual prayer went to the prayer stations while the rest of the congregation continued to pray and sing worship songs, following the lead of the priests and musicians.
Inspired by the Holy Spirit, the priests voiced prayers for anyone who felt they had been forgotten, for couples who yearn for children and have been unable to conceive a child or adopt a child, for the broken-hearted, for those with mental health problems, and for other needs.
One by one, people began to draw closer to the monstrance. They knelt in the center aisle of the hall. Some were weeping. Throughout this time, the prayer teams around the edge of the room individually ministered to people seeking prayer. They continued to do so for more than an hour, even after Benediction was prayed and the monstrance was taken from the hall.

“Jesus is the healer”

César Soto of St. Joseph Church, in Marietta, was one drawn toward the monstrance.
Afterward, he explained that he experienced a conversion beginning four years ago.
“It came the hard way, but I thank him because he didn’t come for the saints. He came for us, for the sinners,” said Soto, who works as a cook.
He was diagnosed with cancer affecting his tongue. The doctor told his family he might not be able to speak after surgery, but he has kept his speech and uses it to tell other people about Jesus, he said.
“I wanted everyone to know about him. Lord, you allowed me to talk again. I want to talk about you. … At the beginning I said, why me. Now I know he is using me for the conversion of my family, the conversion of my co-workers.”

Monday, October 28, 2019

St. Jude Thaddeus and St. Bridget of Sweden

The following comes from the National Shrine of St. Jude:

Jesus inspired the devotion to St. Jude for St. Bridget of Sweden when He directed her in a vision to turn to St. Jude with great faith and confidence. In a vision, Christ told St. Bridget, “In accordance with his surname, Thaddeus, the amiable or loving, he will show himself most willing to give help.” In the Medieval period when St. Bridget was alive, St. Jude was regarded with great respect before falling into a time period of being “the forgotten saint.” The only other known saint to have a devotion to St. Jude is St. Bernard.

Read more about the saints here.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Ralph Martin on the Final Confrontation


Before he became Pope, Karol Cardinal Wojtyla said, we must be prepared to undergo great trials in the not too distant future, trials that will require us to be ready to give up our lives..."Pope John Paul II, as Karol Cardinal Wojtyla, elaborated this theme during a visit to the United States in 1976:

    "We are now standing in the face of the greatest historical confrontation humanity has gone through. I do not think that wide circles of the American society or wide circles of the Christian community realize this fully. We are now facing the final confrontation between the Church and the anti-Church, of the Gospel versus the anti-Gospel. It is a trial which the Church must take up.

—Cardinal Karol Wojtyla (JOHN PAUL II), reprinted November 9, 1978, issue of The Wall Street Journal from a 1976 speech to the American Bishops

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Saint of the day: Pope John Paul II


The following comes from the Patron Saints Index:

For many years Karol believed God was calling him to the priesthood, and after two near fatal accidents, he responded to God's call. He studied secretly during the German occupation of Poland, and was ordained on 1 November 1946. In these years he came to know and practice the teachings of Saint Louis Marie Montfort and Saint John of the Cross. Earned his Doctorate in theology in 1948 at the Angelicum in Rome, Italy.

Parish priest in the Krakow diocese from 1948 to 1951. Studied philosophy at the Jagiellonian University at Krakow. Taught social ethics at the Krakow Seminary from 1952 to 1958. In 1956 he became a professor at the University of Lublin. Venerable Pope Pius XII appointed Wojtyla an auxiliary bishop in Krakow on 4 July 1958. Servant of God, Pope Paul VI appointed him Archbishop of Krakow on 30 December 1963.

Wojtyla proved himself a noble and trustworthy pastor in the face of Communist persecution. A member of the prepatory commission, he attended all four sessions of Vatican II; is said to have written Gaudium et spes, the document on the Church in the Modern World. He also played a prominent role in the formulation of the Declaration on Religious Freedom. Following the Council, Pope Paul VI, appointed Karol Wojtyla cardinal on 26 June 1967.

In 1960 he published his most famous written work, Love and Responsibility. Pope Paul VI, delighted with its apologetical defense of the traditional catholic teaching of marraige, relied extensively on Archbishop Wojytla's counsel in writing Humanae Vitae. In 1976 he was invited by Pope Paul VI to preach the lenten sermons to the members of the Papal Household.

Archbishop Wojtyla became the first non-Italian pope since Adrian VI. He took the name of his predecessors (John, Paul, John Paul) to emphasize his desire to continue the reforms of the Council.

John Paul II is the most traveled pope in history, having visited nearly every country in the world which would receive him. As the Vicar of Christ he has consecrated each place that he has visited to the Blessed Virgin Mary. On 13 May 1983 he went to Fatima to consecrate the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. He later repeated the consecration of the world to Mary in union with all the Bishops of the Catholic Church, in fulfillment of Our Lady's promises at Fatima.

In the summer of 1995, Pope John Paul II began a lengthy catechisis on the Blessed Virgin Mary during his weekly Angelus addresses, culminating on 25 October 1995, with his instruction on Our Lady's active participation in the Sacrifice of Calvary. This active participation of Our Lady at Calvary is called the corredemption. Already in 1982 and 1985 Pope John Paul II used the term "corredemptrix" in reference to Our Lady in public addresses. This is significant, for he is the first Pope to do so since Pope Benedict XV at whose prayer Our Lady came to Fatima to reveal Her Immaculate Heart. Since the time of Pope Benedict XV, this terminology was under review by the Holy See; the present Pope's usage is a confirmation of this traditional view of Mary's role in salvation history.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Jesuit Martyrs

Friday, October 18, 2019

"The Father, My Son and The Holy Ghost" by Craig Morgan


This is a beautiful and sad song from Craig Morgan.  He wrote it to remember the loss of his son who passed away 3 years ago in an accident.  Here are the lyrics:

Lights are shining bright
It's always downtown on the road
I have friends that come from outta town
Asking me to go
They say, "There's so much going on
Why don't you come along and show us around?"
I tell them Karen's not feeling well
So I probably shouldn't go out
Besides I've gotta fix a list of things
I need to do around the house
Then I hang up the phone
Turn the radio back on, and sit back down
I know my boy ain't here but he ain't gone
In the mornings I wake up, give her a kiss, head to the kitchen
Pour a cup of wake-me-up and try to rouse up some ambition
Go outside, sit by myself but I ain't alone
I've got the Father, my son, and the Holy Ghost
I've been beat up
I been pushed and shoved
But never ever really knocked down
Between mom and dad, Uncle Sam and friends
I somehow always pulled out
But the pain of this was more
Than I'd ever felt before, yeah I was broke
I cried and cried and cried
Until I passed out on the floor
Then I prayed and prayed and prayed
Till I thought I couldn't pray anymore
And minute by minute, day by day
My God, He gave me hope
I know my boy ain't here but he ain't gone
In the mornings I wake up, give her a kiss, head to the kitchen
Pour a cup of wake-me-up and try to rouse up some ambition
Go outside, sit by myself but I ain't alone
See, I've got the Father, my son, and the Holy Ghost
I hope, I love, I pray, I cry
I heal a little more each day inside
I won't completely heal till I go home
In the mornings I wake up, give her a kiss, head to the kitchen
Pour a cup of wake-me-up and try to rouse up some ambition
Go outside, sit by myself but I ain't alone
I've got the Father, my son, and the Holy Ghost
One day I'll wake up and I'll be home
With the Father, my son, and the Holy Ghost

Saint of the day: Luke


The following comes from the Catholic.org site:



Luke, the writer of the Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles, has been identified with St. Paul's "Luke, the beloved physician" (Colossians 4:14). We know few other facts about Luke's life from Scripture and from early Church historians.
It is believed that Luke was born a Greek and a Gentile. In Colossians 10-14 speaks of those friends who are with him. He first mentions all those "of the circumcision" -- in other words, Jews -- and he does not include Luke in this group. Luke's gospel shows special sensitivity to evangelizing Gentiles. It is only in his gospel that we hear the parable of the Good Samaritan, that we hear Jesus praising the faith of Gentiles such as the widow of Zarephath and Naaman the Syrian (Lk.4:25-27), and that we hear the story of the one grateful leper who is a Samaritan (Lk.17:11-19). According to the early Church historian Eusebius Lukewas born at Antioch in Syria.
In our day, it would be easy to assume that someone who was a doctor was rich, but scholars have argued that Luke might have been born a slave. It was not uncommon for families to educate slaves in medicine so that they would have a resident family physician. Not only do we have Paul's word, but Eusebius, SaintJerome, Saint Irenaeus and Caius, a second-century writer, all refer to Luke as a physician.
We have to go to Acts to follow the trail of Luke'sChristian ministry. We know nothing about hisconversion but looking at the language of Acts we can see where he joined Saint Paul. The story of the Acts is written in the third person, as an historian recording facts, up until the sixteenth chapter. In Acts 16:8-9 we hear of Paul's company "So, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas. During the night Paul had a vision: there stood a man of Macedonia pleading with him and saying, 'Come over to Macedonia and help us.' " Then suddenly in 16:10 "they" becomes "we": "When he had seen the vision, we immediately tried to cross over to Macedonia, being convinced that God had called us to proclaim the good news to them."
So Luke first joined Paul's company at Troas at about the year 51 and accompanied him into Macedonia where they traveled first to Samothrace, Neapolis, and finally Philippi. Luke then switches back to the third person which seems to indicate he was not thrown into prison with Paul and that when Paul left Philippi Luke stayed behind to encourage the Church there. Seven years passed before Paul returned to the area on his third missionary journey. In Acts 20:5, the switch to "we" tells us thatLuke has left Philippi to rejoin Paul in Troas in 58 where they first met up. They traveled together through Miletus, Tyre, Caesarea, to Jerusalem.
Luke is the loyal comrade who stays with Paul when he is imprisoned in Rome about the year 61: "Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends greetings to you, and so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, my fellow workers" (Philemon 24). And after everyone else deserts Paul in his final imprisonment and sufferings, it is Luke who remains with Paul to the end: "Only Luke is with me" (2 Timothy 4:11).
Luke's inspiration and information for his Gospel and Acts came from his close association with Paul and his companions as he explains in his introduction to the Gospel: "Since many have undertaken to set down an orderly account of the events that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed on to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, I too decided, after investigating everything carefully from the very first, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus" (Luke 1:1-3).
Luke's unique perspective on Jesus can be seen in the six miracles and eighteen parables not found in the other gospels. Luke's is the gospel of the poor and of social justice. He is the one who tells the story of Lazarus and the Rich Man who ignored him. Luke is the one who uses "Blessed are the poor" instead of "Blessed are the poor in spirit" in the beatitudes. Only in Luke's gospel do we hear Mary 's Magnificat where she proclaims that God "has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty" (Luke 1:52-53).
Luke also has a special connection with the women in Jesus' life, especially Mary. It is only in Luke's gospel that we hear the story of the Annunciation, Mary's visit to Elizabeth including the Magnificat, the Presentation, and the story of Jesus' disappearance in Jerusalem. It is Luke that we have to thank for the Scriptural parts of the Hail Mary: "Hail Mary full of grace" spoken at the Annunciation and "Blessed are you and blessed is the fruit of your womb Jesus" spoken by her cousin Elizabeth.
Forgiveness and God's mercy to sinners is also of first importance to Luke. Only in Luke do we hear the story of the Prodigal Son welcomed back by the overjoyed father. Only in Luke do we hear the story of the forgiven woman disrupting the feast by washing Jesus' feet with her tears. Throughout Luke's gospel, Jesus takes the side of the sinner who wants to return to God's mercy.
Reading Luke's gospel gives a good idea of his character as one who loved the poor, who wanted the door to God's kingdom opened to all, who respected women, and who saw hope in God's mercy for everyone.
The reports of Luke's life after Paul's death are conflicting. Some early writers claim he was martyred, others say he lived a long life. Some say he preached in Greece, others in Gaul. The earliest tradition we have says that he died at 84 Boeotia after settling in Greece to write his Gospel.
A tradition that Luke was a painter seems to have no basis in fact. Several images of Mary appeared in later centuries claiming him as a painter but these claims were proved false. Because of this tradition, however, he is considered a patron of painters of pictures and is often portrayed as painting pictures of Mary.
He is often shown with an ox or a calf because these are the symbols of sacrifice -- the sacrifice Jesusmade for all the world.
Luke is the patron of physicians and surgeons.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Saint of the Day: Ignatius of Antioch


The following comes from the CNA:

On Oct. 17, the Roman Catholic Church remembers the early Church Father, bishop, and martyr Saint Ignatius of Antioch, whose writings attest to the sacramental and hierarchical nature of the Church from its earliest days. Eastern Catholics and Eastern Orthodox Christians celebrate his memory on Dec. 20. 

In a 2007 general audience on St. Ignatius of Antioch, Pope Benedict XVI observed that “no Church Father has expressed the longing for union with Christ and for life in him with the intensity of Ignatius.” In his letters, the Pope said, “one feels the freshness of the faith of the generation which had still known the Apostles. In these letters, the ardent love of a saint can also be felt.” 

 Born in Syria in the middle of the first century A.D., Ignatius is said to have been personally instructed – along with another future martyr, Saint Polycarp – by the Apostle Saint John. When Ignatius became the Bishop of Antioch around the year 70, he assumed leadership of a local church that was, according to tradition, first led by Saint Peter before his move to Rome. 

Although St. Peter transmitted his Papal primacy to the bishops of Rome rather than Antioch, the city played an important role in the life of the early Church. Located in present-day Turkey, it was a chief city of the Roman Empire, and was also the location where the believers in Jesus' teachings and his resurrection were first called “Christians.” 

Ignatius led the Christians of Antioch during the reign of the Roman Emperor Domitian, the first of the emperors to proclaim his divinity by adopting the title “Lord and God.” Subjects who would not give worship to the emperor under this title could be punished with death. As the leader of a major Catholic diocese during this period, Ignatius showed courage and worked to inspire it in others. 

After Domitian's murder in the year 96, his successor Nerva reigned only briefly, and was soon followed by the Emperor Trajan. Under his rule, Christians were once again liable to death for denying the pagan state religion and refusing to participate in its rites. It was during his reign that Ignatius was convicted for his Christian testimony and sent from Syria to Rome to be put to death. 

Escorted by a team of military guards, Ignatius nonetheless managed to compose seven letters: six to various local churches throughout the empire (including the Church of Rome), and one to his fellow bishop Polycarp who would give his own life for Christ several decades later. 

Ignatius' letters passionately stressed the importance of Church unity, the dangers of heresy, and the surpassing importance of the Eucharist as the “medicine of immortality.” These writings contain the first surviving written description of the Church as “Catholic,” from the Greek word indicating both universality and fullness. 

One of the most striking features of Ignatius' letters, is his enthusiastic embrace of martyrdom as a means to union with God and eternal life. “All the pleasures of the world, and all the kingdoms of this earth, shall profit me nothing,” he wrote to the Church of Rome. “It is better for me to die in behalf of Jesus Christ, than to reign over all the ends of the earth.” 

“Now I begin to be a disciple,” the bishop declared. “Let fire and the cross; let the crowds of wild beasts; let tearings, breakings, and dislocations of bones; let cutting off of members; let shatterings of the whole body; and let all the dreadful torments of the devil come upon me: only let me attain to Jesus Christ.” 

St. Ignatius of Antioch bore witness to Christ publicly for the last time in Rome's Flavian Amphitheater, where he was mauled to death by lions. “I am the wheat of the Lord,” he had declared, before facing them. “I must be ground by the teeth of these beasts to be made the pure bread of Christ.” His memory was honored, and his bones venerated, soon after his death around the year 107.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Fr. Leon Pereira Invites All on Pilgrimage to Medjugorje


Fr. Leon Pereira is the English Speaking Chaplain for pilgrims to Medjugorje. He invites you on a Pilgrimage to Medjugorje and explains why you might want to come!

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Fr. Barron on St. Theresa of Avila


Today is the feast day of St. Theresa of Avila.  She was a great reformer, mystic and spiritual writer and is recognized as a Doctor of the Church.  The following comes from the Vatican News:

The daughter of a Jewish convert and his second wife, Saint Teresa of Avila, was born on March 28, 1515. She had a happy childhood with her brothers and cousins, and was fascinated by novels that told tales of chivalry. After the death of her elder brother, John, in 1524 and the loss of her mother, Beatrice, the young woman was sent to study at the Augustinian Monastery of Our Lady of Grace, where she was struck by a first existential crisis. After serious illness, she returned to her father’s home, and witnessed the departure of her beloved brother Rodrigo for the Spanish colonies overseas. In 1536, she was hit by the so-called “great crisis” and came to the firm decision to enter the Carmelite monastery of the Incarnation at Avila. Her father, however, was  opposed, and Teresa fled home. Accepted by the nuns, she made her profession on 3 November, 1537.


“I felt shaken to the core”

Teresa’s health once again failed her. Despite the consequent return to the family, her case is deemed hopeless, and Teresa is returned to the convent, where the nuns begin to prepare her funeral. Inexplicably, however, the gravely ill Teresa returns to life and health. Partially released from the commitments of cloistered life owing to her convalescence, cheerful of character, a lover of music, poetry, reading and writing, Teresa would weave a dense fabric of friendships, drawing to her person various people eager to meet her. She would quickly come to feel these encounters a distraction from the principal task of prayer, and experience her “second conversion”: “My eyes fell on a picture ... It was our Lord covered with sorrows. As soon as I looked at Him I felt completely shaken ... I threw myself before His feet and shed tears, and I begged Him to give me strength not to offend Him anymore.”

Portrayed by Bernini

The most mysterious and interesting parts of Saint Teresa of Avila’s life, are her visions and ecstasies. In her Autobiography (written on the order of the bishop), and in other texts and letters, Teresa describes the various stages of divine, visual and auditory manifestations. She is seen to levitating, falling into disarray, and laying still as death (as Bernini depicts her around 1650, in the statue in the church of Our Lady of Victory in Rome). These events corresponded to a great spiritual growth, which Teresa, who had a natural gift for the literary, would pour into her mystical texts, which are among the clearest, most powerful poetics ever written.
Her intense spirituality did not always meet with understanding. Some of her confessors would even consider her a victim of demonic illusions. She was supported by the Jesuit, St. Francis Borgia, and the Franciscan friar, St. Pietro d'Alcántara, who dissipated the doubts of her accusers.
Read more here.

Wisdom from St. Teresa of Avila: Know Thyself

"I began to think of the soul as if it were a castle made of a single diamond or of very crystal in which there are many rooms just as in Heaven there are many mansions[...]Now if this is so –and it is– there is no point in our fatiguing ourselves in attempting to comprehend the beauty of this castle; for, though it is His creature, and there is therefore as much difference between it and God as between creature and Creator, the very fact that His Majesty says it is made in His image means that we can hardly form any conception of the soul’s great dignity and beauty. It is no small pity, and should cause us no little shame, that, through our own fault, we do not understand ourselves, or know who we are. Would it not be a sign of great ignorance, my daughters, if a person were asked who he was, and could not say, and had no idea who his father or his mother was, or form what he came? Though that is great stupidity, our own is incomparably greater if we make no attempt to discover what we are, and only know that we are living in these bodies, and have a vague idea, because we have heard it and because our Faith tells us, that we possess souls. As to what good qualities there may be in our souls, or Who dwells within them , or how precious they are –those are things which we seldom consider and so we trouble little about carefully preserving the soul’s beauty." St. Theresa's Interior Castle Page 41-42
Hat tip to St. Peter's List!

Monday, October 14, 2019

Catholicisms Pivotal Player: St. John Henry Newman


Word on Fire and Bishop Barron have made this episode of the Pivotal Players available at the canonization of St. John Henry Newman.  It is beautifully done and well worth watching.  Here is more on Cardinal Newman from Bishop Barron at Word on Fire:

As I compose these words, I am preparing to leave for Rome, where I will attend the canonization Mass for John Henry Newman, and then for Oxford, where I will give a paper on Newman’s thought in regard to evangelization. Needless to say, the great English convert is much on my mind these days. As I read the myriad commentaries on the new saint, I’m particularly struck by how often he is co-opted by the various political parties active in the Church today—and how this co-opting both distorts Newman and actually makes him less interesting and relevant for our time. I should like to show this by drawing attention to two major themes in Newman’s writing—namely, the development of doctrine and the primacy of conscience.St. John Henry Newman did indeed teach that doctrines, precisely because they exist in the play of lively minds, develop over time. And he did indeed say, in this epistemological context, “to live is to change and to be perfect is to have changed often.” But does this give us license to argue, as some on the left suggest, that Newman advocated a freewheeling liberalism, an openness to any and all change? I hope the question answers itself. In his Biglietto speech, delivered upon receiving the notification of his elevation to the Cardinalatial office, Newman bluntly announced that his entire professional career could be rightly characterized as a struggle against liberalism in matters of religion. By “liberalism” he meant the view that there is no objective and reliable truth in regard to religious claims. Moreover, Newman was keenly aware that doctrines undergo both legitimate development and corruption. In other words, their “growth” can be an ongoing manifestation of truths implicit in them, or it can be a devolution, an errant or cancerous outcropping. And this is, of course, why he taught that a living voice of authority, someone able to determine the difference between the two, is necessary in the Church. None of this has a thing to do with permissiveness or an advocacy of change for the sake of change.In point of fact, the development of doctrine, on Newman’s reading, is not so much a pro-liberal idea as an anti-Protestant one. It was a standard assertion of Protestants in the nineteenth century that many doctrines and practices within Catholicism represent a betrayal of biblical revelation. They called, accordingly, for a return to the scriptural sources and to the purity of the first-century Church. Newman saw this as an antiquarianism. What appears unbiblical within Catholicism are, in fact, developments of belief and practice that have naturally emerged through the efforts of theologians and under the discipline of the Church’s Magisterium. His implied interlocutor in the Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine is not the stuffy Catholic traditionalist, but the sola Scriptura Protestant apologist.
Read the rest here.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

The Miracle of the Sun in Fatima October 13, 1917



The following comes from the Catholic Herald:

The Miracle of the Sun at Fatima, which took place exactly a century ago, on October 13, 1917, was one of the most stupendous, if not the most stupendous event of the 20th century. And yet it is hardly known outside the Church, and not well enough known within it. 
The people who braved the terrible rainstorm which struck Fatima that day had gone there because of the promise of a miracle. Exactly what sort of miracle they didn’t know, but they knew that something exceptional was going to happen. Many sceptics and unbelievers were also drawn there in the expectation of a fiasco in which the Church would be turned into a laughing stock.The previous July, Our Lady had told the three Fatima children that she would perform a miracle in October, and this sensational report spread throughout Portugal, ensuring that a huge crowd was present on October 13, despite the appalling weather.At noon, Our Lady appeared to the children, and after repeating her requests for the daily rosary, and promising that World War I would soon end, she said to them plaintively and sadly: “Do not offend the Lord our God any more, because He is already so much offended.” 
Then, while the three seers saw visions of the Holy Family, the crowd of at least 70,000 people were mesmerised as the Miracle of the Sun unfolded. What happened was so incredible that even non-believers couldn’t deny it, as this report, which appeared in the secular Lisbon paper O Dia, indicates: 
The silver sun … was seen to whirl and turn in the circle of broken clouds. A cry went up from every mouth and the people fell on their knees on the muddy ground. … The light turned a beautiful blue as if it had come through the stained-glass windows of a cathedral and spread itself over the people who knelt with outstretched hands. The blue faded slowly and then the light seemed to pass through yellow glass. … People wept and prayed with uncovered heads in the presence of the miracle they had awaited. The seconds seemed like hours, so vivid were they.
Read the rest here.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Blessed Alexandria Maria da Costa: Victim Soul of Fatima

The following comes from Unity Publishing: 


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

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

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

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

In one of her ecstasies Jesus said to her,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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