Monday, April 13, 2020

Cardinal Sarah: Entrust Yourself to God and His Paternal Mercy

The following comes from Cardinal Robert Sarah, April 9th, 2020; Catholic Register:

This virus acted as a warning. In a matter of weeks, the great illusion of a material world that thought itself all-powerful seems to have collapsed. A few days ago, politicians were talking about growth, pensions, reducing unemployment. They were sure of themselves. And now a virus, a microscopic virus, has brought this world to its knees, a world that looks at itself, that pleases itself, drunk with self-satisfaction because it thought it was invulnerable. The current crisis is a parable. It has revealed how all we do and are invited to believe was inconsistent, fragile and empty. We were told: you can consume without limits! But the economy has collapsed and the stock markets are crashing. Bankruptcies are everywhere. We were promised to push the limits of human nature ever further by a triumphant science. We were told about artificial procreation, surrogate motherhood, transhumanism, enhanced humanity. We boasted of being a man of synthesis and a humanity that biotechnologies would make invincible and immortal. But here we are in a panic, confined by a virus about which we know almost nothing. Epidemic was an outdated, medieval word. It suddenly became our everyday life. I believe this epidemic has dispelled the smoke of illusion. The so-called all-powerful man appears in his raw reality. There he is naked. His weakness and vulnerability are glaring. Being confined to our homes will hopefully allow us to turn our attention back to the essentials, to rediscover the importance of our relationship with God, and thus the centrality of prayer in human existence. And, in the awareness of our fragility, to entrust ourselves to God and to his paternal mercy. 


Sunday, April 12, 2020

An Easter Sermon of St. John Chrysostom

An Easter Sermon of St. John Chrysostom:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Between the sadness of the Cross and the joy of Easter


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

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

Friday, April 10, 2020

Von Balthasar on the Cross

“It is to the Cross that the Christian is challenged to follow his Master: no path of redemption can make a detour around it.” 

Archbishop Sheen's Last Good Friday Sermon


“Show me your hands. Have you a scar from giving? A scar of sacrificing yourself for another? Show me your feet. Have you gone about doing good? Were you wounded in service? Show me your heart. Have you left a place for divine love?”  
                                                  Archbishop Fulton Sheen

The Victory of the Cross



Most High, glorious God, enlighten the darkness of my heart; Give me right faith, sure hope, and perfect charity. Fill me with understanding and knowledge, that I may fulfill your command.

-St. Francis of Assisi

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Fr. Tom Rosica: Holy Thursday Reflection

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

A Prayer for the Coronavirus Crisis




Let us pray.

Loving and faithful God, the coronavirus reminds us that we have no power and we are dependent on you. We place ourselves in your loving hands. Give eternal rest to all who have died from the virus. Place your healing hand on those who are ill, and give your protection to us in this time of fear and uncertainty. Calm our fears and help us to trust you as our faithful God. Enlighten our government and Church leaders as they are faced with important decisions. Give blessing to those in health care and protect them.

We ask this through Christ our Lord.

Our Lady of Prompt Succor, hasten to help us.

Blessed Francis Seelos, pray for us. (His life was taken while caring for the sick in the yellow fever epidemic.)


Monday, March 16, 2020

PRAYER TO OUR LADY OF PROMPT SUCCOR

PRAYER TO OUR LADY OF PROMPT SUCCOR

Patroness of State of Louisiana

Our Lady of Prompt Succor, ever Virgin Mother of Jesus Christ our Lord and God, you are most powerful against the enemy of our salvation. The divine promise of a Redeemer was announced right after the sin of our first parents; and you, through your Divine Son, crushed the serpent’s head. Hasten, then, to our help and deliver us from the deceits of satan. Intercede for us with Jesus that we may always accept God’s graces and be found faithful to Him in our particular states of life. As you once saved our beloved City from ravaging flames and our Country from an invading army, have pity on us and obtain for us protection from hurricanes and all other disasters. (silent pause for individual petitions). Assist us in the many trials which beset our path through life. Watch over the Church and the Pope as they uphold with total fidelity the purity of faith and morals against unremitting opposition. Be to us truly Our Lady of Prompt Succor now and especially at the hour of our death, that we may gain everlasting life through the merits of Jesus Christ Who lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen. Our Lady of Prompt Succor, hasten to help us. (Three times)

Monday, March 9, 2020

A Prayer for Healing


Heavenly Father, I call You right now in a special way. It is through Your power that I was created.
Every breath I take, every morning I wake, and every moment of every hour, I live under Your power.

Father, I ask You now to touch me with that same power. For you created me from nothing, You can now certainly recreate me. Fill me with the healing power of your Holy Spirit. Cast out anything that should not be in me. Mend what is broken. Root out any unproductive cells. Open any blocked arteries or veins and rebuild any damaged areas. Remove all inflammation and cleanse any infection.

Let the warmth of Your healing love pass through my body to make new any unhealthy areas so that my body will function the way You created it to function.

And Father, restore me to full health in mind and body so that I may serve You the rest of my life. I asked this through Christ our Lord.

Friday, February 28, 2020

A Healing Prayer

LORD, JESUS CHRIST, I AM DEEPLY SORRY FOR MY SINS. HAVE MERCY ON ME. In Your name, JESUS, I ask You for the grace to forgive myself. I ask your forgiveness for hurting others. I ask for the grace to forgive all those who have hurt me in this life, and especially the one person who has hurt me the most. I renounce forever Satan, ALL the evil spirits and all their works. I give you my entire self Lord JESUS, now and forever, you are my Lord, God, SAVIOR AND REDEEMER. Please heal me, change me, strengthen me in body, mind and spirit for my greater service in Your Kingdom. Allow me to lead other souls to You through my good example. JESUS I trust in you! Come Lord JESUS, cover me with Your most precious blood, and fill me with Your Holy Spirit, I praise You, I thank You, I glorify Your name, JESUS. I love You JESUS WITH MY WHOLE HEART, SOUL, MIND, BODY AND MY WHOLE BEING. O’ Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, with Holy Raphael the Archangel and all the holy Angels and Saints, pray for us! Amen   

Hat tip to Ed at In God's Company 2

Monday, February 17, 2020

Mother Teresa's Description of Jesus


The prayer of Mother Teresa comes from here:


Jesus is the Word made Flesh.
Jesus is the Bread of Life.
Jesus is the Victim offered for our sins on the Cross.
Jesus is the Sacrifice offered at the Holy Mass
For the sins of the world and mine.
Jesus is the Word – to be spoken.
Jesus is the Truth – to be told.
Jesus is the Way – to be walked.
Jesus is the Light – to be lit.
Jesus is the Life – to be lived.
Jesus is the Love – to be loved.
Jesus is the Joy – to be shared.
Jesus is the Sacrifice – to be offered.
Jesus is the Peace – to be given.
Jesus is the Bread of Life – to be eaten.
Jesus is the Hungry – to be fed.
Jesus is the Thirsty – to be satiated.
Jesus is the Naked – to be clothed.
Jesus is the Homeless – to be taken in.
Jesus is the Sick – to be healed.
Jesus is the Lonely – to be loved.
Jesus is the Unwanted – to be wanted.
Jesus is the Leper – to wash his wounds.
Jesus is the Beggar – to give him a smile.
Jesus is the Drunkard – to listen to him.
Jesus is the Retarded – to protect him.
Jesus is the Little One – to embrace him.
Jesus is the Blind – to lead him.
Jesus is the Dumb – to speak for him.
Jesus is the Crippled – to walk with him.
Jesus is the Drug addict – to befriend him.
Jesus is the Prostitute – to remove from danger and befriend.
Jesus is the Prisoner – to be visited.
Jesus is the Old – to be served.

To me –
Jesus is my God.
Jesus is my Spouse.
Jesus is my Life.
Jesus is my only Love.
Jesus is my All in All.
Jesus is my Everything.

Jesus, I love with my whole heart, with my whole being.  I have given Him all, even my sings, and he has espoused me to Himself in tenderness and love.  Now and for life I am the spouse of my Crucified Spouse. Amen.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Fr. Barron visits Lourdes: Mary, the Immaculate Conception


The following comes from Ellyn von Huben at the Word On Fire blog:

Today we celebrate Our Lady's appearance to a young peasant girl, Bernadette, in 1858 in Lourdes, France. Through a set of private revelations, Mary revealed herself as "the Immaculate Conception." What does this title mean, and what should we know about Our Lady of Lourdes? Ellyn von Huben explains.

1. The Story of St. Bernadette is Not Just for Girls

Bernadette is a perennial favorite when young ladies chose their confirmation names. And girls certainly do love watching the film version of “The Song of Bernadette”. (Winner of the very first Golden Globe award for best motion picture, by the way!) I wouldn’t say that watching this movie was the thing that led to my conversion…but it sure didn’t hurt!

Our Lady did not appear at Lourdes just to touch the hearts of tween girls throughout the ages. There is, indeed, much that speaks to the heart of the young girl. But anyone, of any age or gender can find in the story of St. Bernadette a story that will resonate truth within their hearts.

The appearance of Our Lady at Lourdes was not just for Bernadette – it could be heard by all; a sign for all pointing to Our Lady’s son, Jesus Christ.

2. This Great Saint was a Product of ‘Poor Catechesis’

Much is being discussed on Catholic internet sites regarding the state of modern catechesis and how it should be improved. St. Bernadette could be called a product of poor, minimal catechesis. But Bernadette started her faith life the best way possible – whether for a provincial child of the 1850s or a very modern, prosperous young person. She was the product of a strong “domestic Church”.

She had the minimal schooling of a poor girl of her time, compounded by missing lessons due to ill health and the fact that she was needed at home to help care for siblings. To the chagrin of the teaching Sister preparing her for her First Holy Communion, Bernadette was a technically abysmal Catechism student. But she received the most important preparation – that which can hardy be replicated in a classroom – being raised in a family whose greatest riches were their faith. There is profound understanding in this heart which would one day write, "I was nothing, and of this nothing God made something great. In Holy Communion I am heart to heart with Jesus. How sublime is my destiny."

It was the young Bernadette’s lack of schooling which made her testimony regarding the apparitions all the more believable. The dogma of the Immaculate Conception had been defined by Pope Pius IX just four years before Bernadette’s visions. The quote “I am the Immaculate Conception” coming from the lips of a young, rural girl possessing minimal scholarship had an indisputable veracity.

3. Belief in the Apparitions at Lourdes are not an Article of Faith for Catholics

The appearance of Our Lady to Bernadette is considered to be private revelation and adds nothing to the public deposit of faith – and so no Catholic is obligated to believe. The millions of believers, Catholic and non-Catholic, who visit Lourdes each year are, though, a testimony to the fact that those who do not believe in Our Lady’s appearance at Lourdes must be something of a minority.

4. “The Song of Bernadette”

A variety of authors wrote about St. Bernadette and the apparitions at Lourdes. But 20th century cultural popularity of St. Bernadette owes much to “The Song of Bernadette” and the efforts of its author. Franz Werfel, a Jewish German writer found himself in Lourdes while trying to escape to Portugal after France fell to the Nazis. Families who took in Werfel and his wife told them the story of Bernadette and her visions of Our Lady. Werfel vowed that if they should be able to escape, he would write the story of St. Bernadette. True to his promise, his first task when arriving in the United States was to write the beautiful work of historical fiction (which is more historical than fictional), The Song of Bernadette. An interesting bit of trivia: the structure of this bestseller is itself a reference to the holy rosary – five sections of ten chapters each.

5. Pope Benedict XVI

Lourdes has had a special place in the hearts of many popes in the past 156 years. Blessed Pope John Paul II made three pilgrimages to Lourdes. He also proclaimed February 11, the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, as World Day of the Sick.

Lourdes and St. Bernadette also figure prominently in the life of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. He was born on St. Bernadette’s feast day of April 16 in 1927. In his Angelus address on the first Sunday of Lent in 2008 – the 150th anniversary of Our Lady’s first appearance at Lourdes – the Holy Father reminded us of its enduring significance , “The message that Our Lady continues to spread in Lourdes recalls the words that Jesus spoke at the very beginning of his public mission, which we hear several times during these days of Lent: 'Repent, and believe in the Gospel,' pray and do penance. Let us accept Mary's invitation which echoes Christ's and ask her to obtain for us that we may 'enter' Lent with faith, to live this season of grace with inner joy and generous commitment.”

Culminating his years as Pope, serving with “inner joy and generous commitment”, it was on February 11 of last year (2013) that he took the unprecedented (in modern times) step of announcing his stepping down from the papacy.

6. Lessons of Humility

Those who are looking for lessons in humility - and shouldn’t we all? - can find multiple examples in the story of St. Bernadette. From Bernadette and her humble, devout family, to the Church and civic officials, all the way to her teacher – who learned her lesson rather late – there is great food for contemplation in the stories of those characters who surrounded the young saint. Be they actual persons or fictionalized composites, they are all studies in growth in humility.

7. There is Nothing in the Water

The spring at Lourdes was uncovered by St. Bernadette at the command of Our Lady, who asked her to drink of the as-yet-unseen spring and wash in it. Since then, millions have imbibed and bathed in the water of Lourdes. Early on, some entrepreneurial sorts had hoped to find particular properties in the water which could turn Lourdes into a popular spa destination. But the water was found to be only pure and potable. Faith is the ‘secret’ ingredient. As Bernadette said, “One must have faith and pray; the water will have no virtue without faith.”

8. St. Bernadette Did Not Avail Herself of the Waters at Lourdes

Never in good health, St. Bernadette suffered greatly, and with silent good nature, in the final years of her life. She held fast to Our Lady’s promise that she wasn’t promised “happiness in this world, but in the next.”

When she was 22, she joined the Sisters of Charity of Nevers. She was content to be apart from public life, regarding herself as a tool, such as a broom, which had served its purpose and then “the broom placed behind the door once it has been used.” The teacher who had been harsh to her in her student years was to be her novice mistress and as harsh to the young sister as she had been to the student. It was not until this nun realized the sanctity with which Bernadette was bearing her final affliction of tuberculosis of the bone that she realized what a truly holy young woman she had been privileged to teach and guide. Despite her agony, Bernadette declined the opportunity to revisit Lourdes in search for a miraculous cure.

9. There is Independent Medical Evaluation

Pope Saint Pius X established the Lourdes Medical Bureau to investigate cases of medical miracles. This Medical Bureau is a medical institution and not under Church supervision. Over 7000 people have asked to have their cases declared as miraculous cures, yet fewer than 70 been signed off on by both the Church and the Lourdes Medical Bureau as being cures with no scientific explanation. Because this system for rigorous investigation was established early and openly, verified miracles from Lourdes are considered to be the most reliable and least controversial.

10. You, Too, Can Go to Lourdes

If you are suffering or merely curious, a pilgrimage to Lourdes may be just what you are looking for. Volunteers of all sorts, not only medical professionals, are needed to help in a variety of ways, including helping the sick prepare for their opportunity to bathe in the water of Lourdes. A week of time given in love brings its own miraculous gift to the hearts of those who spend time with the ‘malades’ on their pilgrimages. 

Monday, February 10, 2020

Deepen Your Personal Relationship with Jesus

The following comes from the Catholic Exchange:
The Lord calls us all to have a personal relationship with Him. This personal relationship is based on knowledge — God know­ing us and we knowing God. God already knows us; His knowl­edge is perfect. Despite our best attempts to ignore Him, God has always known us. But we weren’t born with this knowledge of God.
Even when we discover God through revelation, we might know about God but still might not know Him. In the Bible, to “know” someone is to engage in sexual intercourse with that person. When we speak of knowing God, and of God know­ing us, we are speaking about a different but similarly intimate relationship with Him.
Jesus tells His disciples:
Not every one who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?” And then will I declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from me, you evildoers.” (Matt. 7:21–23)
It is clear that those who will be accepted into heaven are those who know God, who have a personal relationship with Him. The question is: What does it mean to have a personal relationship with the Lord? It means that we let God be in charge of our lives, that we form a relationship with His Mystical Body, and that we get to know His Mother. It also demands that we seek a constant and perpetual conversion, serve others in love, and create disciples.
Let’s look at various ways to develop or deepen your personal relationship with the Lord: through prayer, letting God be in control of your life, being involved with the Church, growing in devotion to the Blessed Mother, and seeking spiritual direction.

Pray

Because prayer is personal, it is the most direct way of developing and maintaining a personal relationship with the Lord. The time we spend talking to our loved ones, and listening to their needs and concerns, allows our relationship with them to grow deeper. Likewise, when we grow in our relationship with God through prayer, we come to understand Him better and to understand His will for us.
A good prayer life requires practice, discipline, commitment, openness, honesty, and love. To get a good start on your prayer life, or even to add to it, look for a book of Catholic prayers, of which there are many kinds. Also, check out a breviary, which is a book of liturgical prayers. There are also several apps for your phone or tablet that contain many prayers, including the bre­viary. Make a place in your home, a room or a corner, for prayer.
In flight training, when one pilot hands the control over to the other, the receiver says, “My controls,” and the giver responds with, “Your controls” as he lets go of all controls, and again the receiving pilot responds with “I have full control.” When we have a personal relationship with Jesus, we aren’t even copilots, because He is always in control. When we trust God and give Him complete control of our lives — which we never really had much control over in the first place — God performs maneuvers and makeovers that we never thought possible. Moreover, He re­moves all boundaries that hold us down and frees our spirits to soar.
This is especially true in the case of sin. We cannot become free of sin and distress until we let God transform us. We let God transform us by participating in the sacraments, serving others, praying, and reading Scripture regularly.

A Relationship with the Church

A personal relationship with Jesus also means a personal rela­tionship with His Church. Recall the story of Saul on his way to Damascus to punish and persecute Christians.
But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. Now as he journeyed he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed about him. And he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.” (Acts 9:1–5)
Saul must have been confused. He persecuted Christians, this he knew, but the voice he heard was not one of the men or women he had directly persecuted. This voice was telling him that by persecuting Christ’s people, Saul was persecuting Christ Himself. Saul, who later became Paul, would soon realize that Jesus identifies directly with His people — not in a symbolic way, but in reality.
Because of this identity, the Second Vatican Council docu­ment Lumen Gentium rightly says:
God gathered together as one all those who in faith look upon Jesus as the author of salvation and the source of unity and peace, and established them as the Church that for each and all it may be the visible sacrament of this saving unity. (no. 9)
We see clearly that the Church is the most profound institu­tion in the world. Jesus came to establish the kingdom of God, and to make that happen, He established a Church and prom­ised to remain with her always (Matt. 28:20). He has given His Church authority (see Matt. 10:16; 28:19) and commissioned her to teach and to remind His people of everything He said (John 14:26; 16:13).
We are therefore called to have a relationship with Jesus and His Church. To have a good relationship with the Church, we should turn to her as a source of truth, participate in her sacraments, and obey her laws, for when we obey the Church, we obey Christ:
He who hears you hears me, and he who rejects you rejects me, and he who rejects me rejects him who sent me. (Luke 10:16)

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

The Secret to Living Life to the Full

The following comes from The Radical Life site:

Here is one of the most wonderful and terrifying sentences I have ever read, from William Law’s Serious Call, “If you will look into your own heart in utter honesty, you must admit that there is one and only one reason why you are not even now a saint. You do not wholly want to be.”
That insight is terrifying because it is an indictment, but it is wonderful and hopeful because it is also an offer, an open door. Each of us can become a saint. We really can. We really can. I say it three times, because I think we do not really believe that deep down. For if we did, how could we endure being anything less?
What holds us back? Fear of paying the price. What is the price? The answer is simple. T. S. Eliot gave it when he defined Christianity as “a condition of complete simplicity…costing not less than everything.” The price is everything—100 percent. Martyrdom, if required, and probably a worse martyrdom than the quick noose or stake, the martyrdom of dying daily, dying every minute for the rest of your life. Dying to all your desires and plans—including your plans about how to become a saint. (Peter Kreeft, Culture War)
So the minimum requirement is everything. Sounds kind of extreme, right? It is. But God doesn’t ask this of us to torture or test us. And he doesn’t do it to keep us from enjoying pleasure and joy.
On the contrary, He does it because he wants us to experience life to the full. Because giving everything is what sets us free to love most perfectly and to enjoy life most fully. It’s what sets us free to be who we were made to be.
We can give God everything else, but if we hold back even the smallest corner of our lives for ourselves, we remain slaves. Slaves to our own desires and wants. Unfree to love perfectly and completely. Unfree to experience life to the full.
Give everything. And how do we give everything? What does that look like? Our next posts will be exploring just that.

Friday, January 31, 2020

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 30, 2020

Fr. Rutler: Christ comforted, encouraged and prepared a few to convert the many

The following comes from Fr. George Rutler:

In the forty days between the Resurrection and the Ascension, our Lord appeared to numerous individuals and to various groups, including some five hundred on one occasion, and at last to the group who witnessed his ascent to glory in a cloud of light. A forensic investigator would logically ask why he did not appear to those who had crucified him, to those who had plotted against him, and to Pontius Pilate. Napoleon, in an amalgamation of pragmatism, cynicism and fascination, is said to have remarked that Jesus could have converted the whole Empire had he appeared from the dead in front of Caesar in the Roman Forum.

God’s ways are not our ways, and were it otherwise, there would have been no Holy Passion. But the same Saint Peter who had been appalled that Christ must die on the cross, was the first to enter the empty tomb and then proclaimed on Pentecost that he and others had seen the Lord. The question lingers though, about why Christ did not stun his enemies with his victory. Reports of his resurrection did cause some panic among the Sanhedrin and others, and the soldiers feared they might be to blame for having been neglectful watchmen, but none of the chief players in this greatest of all dramas, as far as we know,  had any encounter with the Risen Christ. One tradition holds that Pontius Pilate spent his last days wandering in exile, haunted because he could not be inspired.



As usual, the fertile mind of John Henry Newman proposes that that Christ did not show himself to all people, because appearing only to chosen witnesses “was the most effectual means of propagating His religion through the world.” Had his murderers seen him, they would have reacted with “sudden fears, sudden contrition, sudden earnestness, sudden resolves, which disappear suddenly.” By a strategy more pragmatic than any general’s, Christ comforted, encouraged and prepared a few to convert the many, for “Many are called, but few are chosen.”  So Newman says, “Doubtless, much may be undone by the many, but nothing is done except by those who are specially trained for action.”



Many saw Christ resuscitate the daughter of Jairus and the son of the widow of Nain, to no lasting effect, for then as now, excitement is momentary and even threatening: the raising of Lazarus was what finally compelled the authorities to kill Jesus. Spectacles are not divine graces, and while false Messiahs can give people a thrill, only the true Messiah can give grace. “If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rise from the dead” (Luke 16:31).



Peter, the chief witness, was trained the hard way through his own denials and repentance, and he continues to confirm others in the Faith through his apostolic successors: “This is a cause of great joy for you” (1 Peter 1:6). 

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Archbishop Sheen: Laugh... God is with us!

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Saint Marianne Cope


The following comes from the American Catholic site:

Though leprosy scared off most people in 19th-century Hawaii, that disease sparked great generosity in the woman who came to be known as Mother Marianne of Molokai. Her courage helped tremendously to improve the lives of its victims in Hawaii, a territory annexed to the United States during her lifetime (1898).


Mother Marianne’s generosity and courage were celebrated at her May 14, 2005, beatification in Rome. She was a woman who spoke “the language of truth and love” to the world, said Cardinal José Saraiva Martins, prefect of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes. Cardinal Martins, who presided at the beatification Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica, called her life “a wonderful work of divine grace.” Speaking of her special love for persons suffering from leprosy, he said, “She saw in them the suffering face of Jesus. Like the Good Samaritan, she became their mother.”

On January 23, 1838, a daughter was born to Peter and Barbara Cope of Hessen-Darmstadt, Germany. The girl was named after her mother. Two years later the Cope family emigrated to the United States and settled in Utica, New York. Young Barbara worked in a factory until August 1862, when she went to the Sisters of the Third Order of Saint Francis in Syracuse, New York. After profession in November of the next year, she began teaching at Assumption parish school.

Marianne held the post of superior in several places and was twice the novice mistress of her congregation. A natural leader, three different times she was superior of St. Joseph’s Hospital in Syracuse, where she learned much that would be useful during her years in Hawaii.

Elected provincial in 1877, Mother Marianne was unanimously re-elected in 1881. Two years later the Hawaiian government was searching for someone to run the Kakaako Receiving Station for people suspected of having leprosy. More than 50 religious communities in the United States and Canada were asked. When the request was put to the Syracuse sisters, 35 of them volunteered immediately. On October 22, 1883, Mother Marianne and six other sisters left for Hawaii where they took charge of the Kakaako Receiving Station outside Honolulu; on the island of Maui they also opened a hospital and a school for girls.

In 1888, Mother Marianne and two sisters went to Molokai to open a home for “unprotected women and girls” there. The Hawaiian government was quite hesitant to send women for this difficult assignment; they need not have worried about Mother Marianne! On Molokai she took charge of the home that St. Damien de Veuster [May 10, d. 1889] had established for men and boys. Mother Marianne changed life on Molokai by introducing cleanliness, pride and fun to the colony. Bright scarves and pretty dresses for the women were part of her approach.
Awarded the Royal Order of Kapiolani by the Hawaiian government and celebrated in a poem by Robert Louis Stevenson, Mother Marianne continued her work faithfully. Her sisters have attracted vocations among the Hawaiian people and still work on Molokai.

Mother Marianne died on August 9, 1918 and was beatified in 2005 and canonized seven years later.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Remembering Blessed Laura Vicuña

Today the Salesians remember Blessed Laura Vicuña.  Laura Carmen Vicuña was born in Santiago, in Chile, on the 5th April 1891 to Joseph Domenico and Mercedes Pino. The Vicuña family were Chilean aristocrats, forced into exile by the revolution. They took refuge in Temuco in a poor house, but soon after Joseph Domenico died suddenly, and Mercedes had to take refuge with her two daughters in Argentina. They came to Junín de los Andes. Mercedes came to know the rather pushy Manuel Mora and accepted working for him, but also living with him.

In 1900 Laura went to board with her sister Julia Amanda with the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians at their school. She was a model pupil: prayerful, listened to the Sisters, available to her companions, always happy and ready to make sacrifices.

The following year she made her first communion with the same fervour and ideals as Saint Dominic Savio, whom she had taken as a model. she entered the Children of Mary. While one of the Sisters was explaining the sacrament of marriage during catechetics, Laura began to understand her mother’s sinful state, and fainted. She also understood because during the holidays on the farm her mother made her pray in secret, and never went to the sacraments. From then on Laura increased her prayers and sacrifices for her mother’s conversion. During the holidays in 1902 Manuel Mora threatened Laura’s virtue; she firmly refused him, sending him into a rage.

She went back to school as a student assistant, because he would no longer pay her fees. With all her heart she asked if she could become a Daughter of Mary Help of Christians, but she was denied this because of her mother’s living in sin. She offered her life to the Lord for her mother’s conversion, became more self-sacrificing, and with the consent of her confessor, Fr Crestanello, made private vows.  Weak from sacrifices and from other sickness, she was hit by Mora for refusing him yet again. On her final night she confided: “Mamma, I am dying! For a long time I have asked Jesus, offering my life for you, so you will return to God... Mamma, before I die will I have the chance to see you repent?”. “Laura”, Mercedes answered, “ I promise I will do what you ask”.  With this joy Laura died the evening of the 22nd January 1904. 

Her body lies in the chapel belonging to the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians in Bahía Blanca. At the centenary of Don Bosco’s death, this chosen daughter, who had given her life for the virtue dearest to the Master, was proclaimed Blessed by John Paul II, on the 3rd September 1988.

Devotion to Christ by Fr Benedict Groeschel, CFR

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Saint of the day: Agnes


The following comes from the CNA:

On Jan. 21, the Roman Catholic Church honors the virgin and martyr St. Agnes, who suffered death for her consecration to Christ.

Eastern Catholics of the Byzantine tradition celebrate her feast day Jan. 14.

Although the details of Agnes' life are mostly unknown, the story of her martyrdom has been passed on with reverence since the fourth century. On the feast day of the young martyr – whose name means “lamb” in Latin – the Pope traditionally blesses lambs, whose wool will be used to make the white pallium worn by archbishops.

Born into a wealthy family during the last decade of the third century, Agnes lived in Rome during the last major persecution of the early Church under the Emperor Diocletian. Though he was lenient toward believers for much of his rule, Diocletian changed course in 302, resolving to wipe out the Church in the empire.

Agnes came of age as the Church was beginning to suffer under a set of new laws decreed by Diocletian, and his co-ruler Galerius, in 303. The emperor and his subordinate called for churches to be destroyed and their books burned. Subsequent orders led to the imprisonment and torture of clergy and laypersons, for the sake of compelling them to worship the emperor instead of Christ.

Meanwhile, Agnes had become a young woman of great beauty and charm, drawing the attention of suitors from the first ranks of the Roman aristocracy. But in keeping with the words of Christ and Saint Paul, she had already decided on a life of celibacy for the sake of God's kingdom. To all interested men, she explained that she had already promised herself to a heavenly and unseen spouse.

These suitors both understood Agnes' meaning, and resented her resolution. Some of the men, possibly looking to change her mind, reported her to the state as a believer in Christ. Agnes was brought before a judge who tried first to persuade her, and then to threaten her, into renouncing her choice not to marry for the Lord's sake.

When the judge showed her the various punishments he could inflict – including fire, iron hooks, or the rack that destroyed the limbs by stretching – Agnes smiled and indicated she would suffer them willingly. But she was brought before a pagan altar instead, and asked to make an act of worship in accordance with the Roman state religion.

When Agnes refused, the judge ordered that she should be sent to a house of prostitution, where the virginity she had offered to God would be violated. Agnes predicted that God would not allow this to occur, and her statement proved true. The first man to approach her in the brothel was struck blind by a sudden flash of light, and others opted not to repeat his mistake.

But one of the men who had at first sought to make Agnes his own, now lobbied the judge for her execution. In this respect, the suitor obtained his desire, when the public official sentenced her to die by beheading. The executioner gave her one last chance to spare her life, by renouncing her consecration to Christ – but Agnes refused, made a short prayer, and courageously submitted to death.

St. Agnes, who died in 304, was venerated as a holy martyr from the fourth century onward. She is mentioned in the Latin Church's most traditional Eucharistic prayer, the Roman Canon.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

A Prayer for Priests by St. Therese

O Jesus, Eternal Priest, keep your priests within the shelter of your Most Sacred Heart, where none can touch them.  Keep unstained their anointed hands, which daily touch your Sacred Body.  Keep unsullied their lips daily tinged with your Precious Blood.  Keep pure and unworldly their hearts, sealed with the sublime mark of the priesthood.  Let your Holy Love surround and protect them from the world’s contagion.  Bless their labors with abundant fruit, and may the souls to whom they minister be their joy and consolation here, and their everlasting crown in the hereafter.  Amen.

-St. Therese of the Child Jesus



Friday, January 17, 2020

5 Ways to Grow in Eucharistic Amazement

The following comes from Pursued by Truth:
Here are five ways we can grow in Eucharistic amazement, inspired by the beautiful sixth chapter of St. John Paul II’s encyclical letter, Ecclesia de Eucharistia, “At the School of Mary, Woman of the Eucharist.”
1. Believe—or strengthen your faith—that Jesus Christ, the Son of God and Son of Mary, is fully present as God and man in the Eucharist, under the signs of bread and wine. St. John Paul II encourages us:
Mary seems to say to us: ‘Do not waver; trust in the words of my Son. If he was able to change water into wine, he can also turn bread and wine into his body and blood, and through this mystery bestow on believers the living memorial of his passover, thus becoming the bread of life.’  (#54 of Ecclesia de Eucharistia)

2. Make your “Amen” count! St. John Paul II compares Mary’s Fiat at the Annunciation with our “Amen” as we receive Communion. The next time you prepare for Mass and receiving Communion, put into your own words what you want your “Amen” to mean when you receive Jesus. Is it a cry of love, of adoration, of joy, of trusting surrender?
3. Make a spiritual communion at least once a day. A spiritual communion is a way to unite ourselves to Jesus in the Eucharist through our desires when we cannot physically receive Communion. Making a spiritual communion is a way to carry Jesus with you through the day, so that he can radiate his light through your eyes and voice. Pick one or a couple of times during the day when you can stop and make a spiritual communion. You can use a prayer by saint, or the Anima Christi, or pray in your own words, expressing your love for Jesus in the Eucharist and your desire to grow in union with him.
4. Unite your sufferings with Jesus’ sufferings. In addition to being a banquet and Jesus’ presence among us, the Mass is also the memorial of Jesus giving his life for us on Calvary. Our sufferings take on great meaning when we unite them to Christ’s sufferings, when we offer our whole selves and our whole lives with him. We can do this at Mass, but we can also renew our offering with Jesus throughout the day!
5. Live in a spirit of thanksgiving, of Mary’s Magnificat! St. John Paul II compares the great thanksgiving prayer of the Mass to Mary’s Magnificat. To help you do this, you may wish to read #58—two short but moving paragraphs—of this encyclical, which I quote below:
When Mary exclaims: ‘My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour,’ she already bears Jesus in her womb. She praises God ‘through’ Jesus, but she also praises him ‘in’ Jesus and ‘with’ Jesus. This is itself the true ‘Eucharistic attitude.’
May these next few days be a time of growing “Eucharistic amazement” for all of us!

Thursday, January 16, 2020

You Are My God


I have always loved this song and the rich way that Tony Melendez sings it! It is coupled with this wonderful video that must have been put together from a Steubenville Youth Conference. Those are wonderful experiences and the video gives you an idea of what they are like! God bless!

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.