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.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

5 Ways to Practice Conversion

The following comes from the Catholic Exchange:


Be converted, the kingdom of God is at hand.
These are the first world we hear from the lips of Our Blessed Savior as He initiates His Public ministry. Conversion in Greek is Metanoia, meaning change of heart. The core of the teaching of the Precursor of Jesus, St. John the Baptist, was the same, “Be converted because the Kingdom of God is at hand.” Furthermore, St. Peter and the Apostles also preached the call to conversion. Therefore, if the greatest of all prophets, the first Pope, and Jesus Himself preached the urgency of conversion then indeed it must be important!
The Church, the Mystical Body of Christ, reiterates this message in various forms and seasons. At the start of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, after greeting the people, the priest invites himself and the whole congregation to pause briefly for an examination of conscience. On what? Our communal and personal recognition of sin and humble invocation that God would have mercy on us and help us to undergo metanoia—conversion of life.
Ways that we can undergo a true conversion of life
The following are ways that we can delve deep into our souls and strive for a sincere and deep conversion of life! However, we must always remember that true conversion of life is more God’s work in our souls than our doing. We must collaborate with the grace of the Lord!
1. Memory. Our memory is in need of constant purification. St. Paul exhorts us to put on the mind of Christ; then he says that you have the mind of Christ. Past wounds in our early years, addictions that enslaved, abuses either physical, emotional, social or moral—all of these must be brought to the Lord for a deep healing and conversion. One short but powerful suggestion: The Word of God! The Word of God is powerful like a two-edged sword that separates bone from marrow. The daily reading of the Word of God in prayerful meditation can result in the conversion of the mind. One more step: memorize Sacred Scripture! If you like this analogy: what chlorine is and does to a swimming pool (cleansing and purifying) the Word of God can do to the human mind. Lord, may your Word be a light for my path and a torch for my steps!
2. Eyes. Our eyes need constant vigilance and control. Unfortunately, the most powerful addiction in the United States is that of pornography. Children are exposed to this ravenous and merciless wolf at a very tender age. Studies show that pornography can be more powerful than the addiction to drugs. A recovering gang member, drug-addict and alcoholic rejoiced that he was able to conquer all the above vices. However, he could not detach himself from the addiction to pornography. Three suggestions to attain this metanoia/conversion.
  •  At the crack of dawn upon waking, to consecrate one’s whole being— especially the eyes—to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
  • Second, when tempted invoke the Precious Blood of Jesus as a shield against the fiery darts of the devil.
  • Lastly, visit the Blessed Sacrament exposed and contemplate the Eucharistic heart of Jesus. In the words of the Psalmist: “Look to the Lord and be radiant with joy.”
3. Tongue. Our tongue has to be controlled constantly! Saint James reminds us poignantly that we should be slow to speak and quick to listen. Jesus reminds us that every word that issues from our mouth will be subject to judgment. Also the Lord tells us that from the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. Three concrete suggestions to attain conversion of our mouth, a transformation of our speech. First, we should get in the habit of speaking more to God and less to people. Second, we should learn to hold back our impulses and think before we speak. Finally, apply the Golden Rule of Jesus to speech. Do to others what you would have them do to you; say to others what you would like them say to you! Following this advice we are on the highway to converting our tongue!
4. Intentions. Being honest with ourselves we must humble admit that our intentions are often mixed. Even in the best of actions are hidden some self-seeking, self-love and vanity. Sincere examination of conscience will highlight this truth! In the Diary of Saint Faustina, time and time again Jesus manifests His desire that she always have purity of intention, that her actions be done to please Him and for the honor and glory of God. The Bible points out that man sees the appearance but God reads the heart. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus strictly warns us not to do our actions to be seen and praised by man. Remember! Do your actions such that your right hand does not even know what your left hand is doing. Your father who sees in secret will recompense you.
The motto of St. Ignatius, the founder of the Company of Jesus (the Jesuits) is four letters: A.M.D.G. —Ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam—meaning, for the greater glory of God. That indeed should be the motivating principle that drives all of our actions in life! One concrete suggestion to obtain the conversion/metanoia of our intentions— Give all to Jesus through the hands of Mary. In the classic of St. Louis de Montfort, True Devotion to Mary, St. Louis presents a scene in which a pauper desires to present the King with an apple. The apple is not of the best, nor is the pauper the most worthy of admiration. However there is a secret to access to the heart of the King—the love the King has for his Queen. If the pauper can reach the Queen and give her the apple, then her Highness will take the apple, polish it, place it on a golden platter next to a beautiful flower and present it to the King. Then the King will accept it. Why? Not because of the pauper but because of the powerful and irresistible persuasion of the Queen. If we place our intentions in the Immaculate Heart of Mary then she purifies, embellishes and corrects our distorted motives!
5. Heart. Last but not least we all must go through a daily conversion of the very center of our being— our heart. Jesus says that from the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The human heart can contain within it the most noble of intentions, but the human heart can also embrace the most despicable of desires! Constant conversion/metanoia of heart is necessary on a daily basis!
What might be the most efficacious means to undergo a true conversion of heart? Simple and to the point: Fervent and passionate daily communion! In Holy Communion we receive the totality of Jesus: His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. Therefore, if we receive His Body, that means we also receive His Sacred Heart. In the most Sacred Heart of Jesus can be found all of the most sublime virtues and to the highest degree of holiness and perfection.
Faith, hope, charity, patience, purity, meekness, obedience, mortification, fortitude— just to mention a few, are some of the virtues present in the Sacred Heart of Jesus. These virtues are present in every Consecrated Host that we can receive in Holy Communion on a daily basis. In a real sense, we can undergo a daily spiritual heart transplant every time we receive Holy Communion with faith, devotion and love. Beyond a shadow of doubt, Holy Communion received with the proper dispositions is by far the most efficacious channel to arrive at a true conversion of heart. Our Lord’s loving Heart burns and consumes all that is ugly and ignoble in our hearts so that we can truly say with the Apostle Saint Paul: “It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me!”

Monday, January 13, 2020

The Prophetic Ratzinger

In 1969 Fr. Joseph Ratzinger gave a series of interviews on the future of the Church.  These interviews can be found in the book Faith and the Future by Ignatius Press.  The following comes from Vultus Christi:

The future of the Church can and will issue from those whose roots are deep and who live from the pure fullness of their faith. It will not issue from those who accommodate themselves merely to the passing moment or from those who merely criticize others and assume that they themselves are infallible measuring rods; nor will it issue from those who take the easier road, who sidestep the passion of faith, declaring false and obsolete, tyrannous and legalistic, all that makes demands upon men, that hurts them and compels them to sacrifice themselves. 

To put this more positively: The future of the Church, once again as always, will be reshaped by saints, by men, that is, whose minds probe deeper than the slogans of the day, who see more than others see, because their lives embrace a wider reality. Unselfishness, which makes men free, is attained only through the patience of small daily acts of self-denial. By this daily passion, which alone reveals to a man in how many ways he is enslaved by his own ego, by this daily passion and by it alone, a man’s eyes are slowly opened. He sees only to the extent that he has lived and suffered. If today we are scarcely able any longer to become aware of God, that is because we find it so easy to evade ourselves, to flee from the depths of our being by means of the narcotic of some pleasure or other. Thus our own interior depths remain closed to us. If it is true that a man can see only with his heart, then how blind we are! 

How does all this affect the problem we are examining? It means that the big talk of those who prophesy a Church without God and without faith is all empty chatter. We have no need of a Church that celebrates the cult of action in political prayers. It is utterly superfluous. Therefore, it will destroy itself. What will remain is the Church of Jesus Christ, the Church that believes in the God who has become man and promises us life beyond death. The kind of priest who is no more than a social worker can be replaced by the psychotherapist and other specialists; but but the priest who is no specialist; who does not stand on the sidelines, watching the game, giving official advice, but in the name of God places himself at the disposal of men, who is beside them in their sorrows, in their joys, in their hope and in their fear, such a priest will certainly be needed in the future. 

Let us go a step farther. From the crisis of today the Church of tomorrow will emerge a Church that has lost much She will become small and will have to start afresh more or less from the beginning. She will no longer be able to inhabit many of the edifices she built in prosperity. As the number of her adherents diminishes, so will she loose many of her social privileges. In contrast to an earlier age, she will be seen much more as a voluntary society, entered only by free decision . As a small society, she will make much bigger demands on the initiative of her individual members. Undoubtedly she will discover new forms of ministry and will ordain to the priesthood approved Christians who pursue some profession. In many smaller congregations or in self-contained social groups, pastoral care will normally be provided in this fashion. Along-side this, the full-time ministry of the priesthood will be indispensable as formerly. But in all of the changes at which one might guess, the Church will find her essence afresh and with full conviction in that which was always at her center: faith in the triune God, in Jesus Christ, the Son of God made man, in the presence of the Spirit until the end of the world. In faith and prayer she will again recognize the sacraments as the worship of God and not as a subject for liturgical scholarship. 

The Church will be a more spiritual Church, not presuming upon a political mandate, flirting as little with the Left as with the Right. It will be hard-going for the Church, for the process of crystallization and clarification will cost her much valuable energy. It will make her poor and cause her to become the Church of the meek. The process will be all the more arduous, for sectarian narrow-mindedness as well as pompous self-will will have to be shed. One may predict that all of this will take time. The process will be long and wearisome as was the road from the false progressivism on the eve of the French Revolution — when a bishop might be thought smart if he made fun of dogmas and even insinuated that the existence of God was by no means certain — to the renewal of the nineteenth century. But when the trial of this sifting is past, a great power will flow from a more spiritualized and simplified Church. Men in a totally planned world will find themselves unspeakably lonely. If they have completely lost sight of God, they will feel the whole horror of their poverty. Then they will discover the little flock of believers as something wholly new. They will discover it as a hope that is meant for them, an answer for which they have always been searching in secret. 

And so it seems certain to me that the Church is facing very hard times. The real crisis has scarcely begun. We will have to count on terrific upheavals. But I am equally certain about what will remain at the end: not the Church of the political cult, which is dead already, but the Church of faith. She may well no longer be the dominant social power to the extent that she was until recently; but she will enjoy a fresh blossoming and be seen as man’s home, where he will find life and hope beyond death.

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

New Year's Resolutions for Catholics


It is just about time for New Year's Resolutions! Here are some suggestions from the America Needs Fatima site (via Catholic Fire).

1. Be honest. Know yourself. What is your strongest virtue? What is your worst vice? Therefore, tailor your resolution so it strengthens your good side and fights your bad one. A one-size fits all resolution is useless.

2. Be specific. Don’t use generalities. They don’t work. For example, if you need to be more humble, just saying “I am going to be more humble,” is useless. You need to zero in on one situation where you need to practice humility and resolve to improve in that one situation.

3. Be simple. Don’t make it complicated. Focus on something you can see and measure easily and that does not overwhelm you each time you try to obtain it. Otherwise, you will become distracted and your energy will be dispersed and misdirected.

4. Be reasonable. Don’t try to do too much at once. You won’t become a saint in one day. Remember: every soul has one MAJOR point upon which is hinged his or her entire fidelity to God and His Holy Laws. Find out and work on improving that key point. You’ll see how everything else will improve if you improve on that one major point.

5. Be consistent. It’s far better to do something small everyday to improve on that one key point in your soul than to make a big resolution that you cannot keep for more than a week or two. Slow and steady wins the race!

6. Be humble. Recognize that you cannot do any good action which has value in the supernatural order without God’s grace and the intercessory help of the Blessed Mother. Beg God’s grace through Our Lady’s intercession constantly in all your thoughts, desires and actions

7. Be disinterested. Remember that God wants us to defend His rights and interests, and to share His thoughts and ways. And therefore, to focus on things, happening and events that are very close to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary that are not necessarily linked to our own personal interests.

8. Write it down. It’s important to write down your resolution so you can refer back to it often during the year. Also, by writing it down, you will be able to review it when the year is over, and to evaluate your progress since the time the resolution was made.

9. Public expressions of faith. Don’t hide your faith. That’s just what the devil wants. He knows when you express your faith publicly, others see you and are encouraged to follow your good example. Say grace openly and proudly before meals in a restaurant so people can see. You’ll be surprised with the good reactions you will get.

10. Devotion to Our Lady. Have more devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Devotion to the Mother of God is a panacea. Saint Louis de Montfort said that devotion to Holy Mary is the easiest, safest, fastest, most secure, and surest path to Jesus and to our own salvation. If you can nothing else, resolve to say the Rosary everyday. Saint Louis de Montfort wrote:

“If you say the Rosary faithfully until death, I do assure you that, in spite of the gravity of your sins 'you shall receive a never-fading crown of glory.' Even if you are on the brink of damnation, even if you have one foot in hell, even if you have sold your soul to the devil as sorcerers do who practice black magic, and even if you are a heretic as obstinate as a devil, sooner or later you will be converted and will amend your life and will save your soul, if-- and mark well what I say-- if you say the Holy Rosary devoutly every day until death for the purpose of knowing the truth and obtaining contrition and pardon for your sins."