Monday, June 30, 2014

Martrys of Rome

The following comes from the American Catholic site:

There were Christians in Rome within a dozen or so years after the death of Jesus, though they were not the converts of the “Apostle of the Gentiles” (Romans 15:20). Paul had not yet visited them at the time he wrote his great letter in a.d. 57-58.
There was a large Jewish population in Rome. Probably as a result of controversy between Jews and Jewish Christians, the Emperor Claudius expelled all Jews from Rome in 49-50 A.D. Suetonius the historian says that the expulsion was due to disturbances in the city “caused by the certain Chrestus” [Christ]. Perhaps many came back after Claudius’s death in 54 A.D. Paul’s letter was addressed to a Church with members from Jewish and Gentile backgrounds.

In July of 64 A.D., more than half of Rome was destroyed by fire. Rumor blamed the tragedy on Nero, who wanted to enlarge his palace. He shifted the blame by accusing the Christians. According to the historian Tacitus, many Christians were put to death because of their “hatred of the human race.” Peter and Paul were probably among the victims.

Threatened by an army revolt and condemned to death by the senate, Nero committed suicide in 68 A.D. at the age of 31.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Jesus, Only Jesus by Matt Redman

Scott Hahn on Ss. Peter and Paul

The following comes from Scott Hahn:

This Sunday’s celebration of the great apostles Peter and Paul is a celebration of the Church. Peter’s deliverance from jail is compared to the deliverance of Israel from Egypt. Like Israel he is rescued at Passover from “the hand” of his enemy by an “angel of the Lord” after girding himself with belt, sandals, and cloak (see Ex 3:812:811–12;14:19).
The Church is, as Peter says, “all that the Jewish people had been expecting.” As he affirms in his great confession of faith in Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus is “the Christ,” the Messiah that the prophets had taught Israel to hope for.
But Christ is more than what the Jewish people had been hoping for.
He is the Christ. But He is also, as Peter confesses, “the Son of the living God.” Born of the flesh of the Jewish people, he is a son of Abraham and David (see Mt 1:1Rm 1:3). Through Him and the Church founded on the rock of Peter’s faith, God fulfills the promise he made to Abraham—to bless all nations in his seed (see Gen 22:18).
What Christ calls “my Church,” is the new Israel, the kingdom of God, the family made up of all peoples—Jews and Gentiles—who believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God (see Gal 3:26–296:16). And we must make this confession our own. Jesus’ question, “Who do you say that I am?” is addressed to each of us personally.
We must confess our faith in Christ not only with our tongues, but with our lives. As Paul describes his discipleship in this week’s Epistle, we must make our lives a oblation, an offering of love for the sake of Jesus and His kingdom (see Rm 12:1).
We know, as we sing in this week’s Psalm, that the Lord has rescued us in Christ Jesus. We know that he will stand by us, giving us strength to face every evil—and that He will bring us to the heavenly kingdom we anticipate in this Eucharist.

SS. Peter and Paul: The Indispensable Men

Feast of SS. Peter and Paul

The following comes from the CNA:

On Tuesday, June 29, the Church will celebrate the feast day of Sts. Peter & Paul. As early as the year 258, there is evidence of an already lengthy tradition of celebrating the solemnities of both Saint Peter and Saint Paul on the same day. Together, the two saints are the founders of the See of Rome, through their preaching, ministry and martyrdom there.

Peter, who was named Simon, was a fisherman of Galilee and was introduced to the Lord Jesus by his brother Andrew, also a fisherman. Jesus gave him the name Cephas (Petrus in Latin), which means ‘Rock,’ because he was to become the rock upon which Christ would build His Church.

Peter was a bold follower of the Lord. He was the first to recognize that Jesus was “the Messiah, the Son of the living God,” and eagerly pledged his fidelity until death. In his boldness, he also made many mistakes, however, such as losing faith when walking on water with Christ and betraying the Lord on the night of His passion.

Yet despite his human weaknesses, Peter was chosen to shepherd God's flock. The Acts of the Apostles illustrates his role as head of the Church after the Resurrection and Ascension of Christ. Peter led the Apostles as the first Pope and ensured that the disciples kept the true faith.

St. Peter spent his last years in Rome, leading the Church through persecution and eventually being martyred in the year 64. He was crucified upside-down at his own request, because he claimed he was not worthy to die as his Lord.

He was buried on Vatican hill, and St. Peter's Basilica is built over his tomb.

St. Paul was the Apostle of the Gentiles. His letters are included in the writings of the New Testament, and through them we learn much about his life and the faith of the early Church.

Before receiving the name Paul, he was Saul, a Jewish pharisee who zealously persecuted Christians in Jerusalem. Scripture records that Saul was present at the martyrdom of St. Stephen.

Saul's conversion took place as he was on his way to Damascus to persecute the Christian community there. As he was traveling along the road, he was suddenly surrounded by a great light from heaven. He was blinded and fell off his horse. He then heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” He answered: “Who are you, Lord?” Christ said: “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.”

Saul continued to Damascus, where he was baptized and his sight was restored. He took the name Paul and spent the remainder of his life preaching the Gospel tirelessly to the Gentiles of the Mediterranean world.

Paul was imprisoned and taken to Rome, where he was beheaded in the year 67.

He is buried in Rome in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls.

In a sermon in the year 295, St. Augustine of Hippo said of Sts. Peter and Paul: “Both apostles share the same feast day, for these two were one; and even though they suffered on different days, they were as one. Peter went first, and Paul followed. And so we celebrate this day made holy for us by the apostles' blood. Let us embrace what they believed, their life, their labors, their sufferings, their preaching, and their confession of faith.”

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Saint of the Day: Irenaeus of Lyons

The following comes from Catholic Online:

The writings of St. Irenaeus entitle him to a high place among the fathers of the Church, for they not only laid the foundations of Christian theology but, by exposing and refuting the errors of the gnostics, they delivered the Catholic Faith from the real danger of the doctrines of those heretics.
He was probably born about the year 125, in one of those maritime provinces of Asia Minor where thememory of the apostles was still cherished and where Christians were numerous. He was most influenced bySt. Polycarp who had known the apostles or their immediate disciples
Many Asian priests and missionaries brought the gospel to the pagan Gauls and founded a local church. To this church of Lyon, Irenaeus came to serve as a priest under its first bishop, St. Pothinus, an oriental like himself. In the year 177, Irenaeus was sent to Rome. This mission explains how it was that he was not called upon to share in the martyrdom of St Pothinus during the terrible persecution in Lyons. When he returned to Lyons it was to occupy the vacant bishopric. By this time, the persecution was over. It was the spread of gnosticism in Gaul, and the ravages it was making among the Christians of his diocese, that inspired him to undertake the task of exposing its errors. He produced a treatise in five books in which he sets forth fully the inner doctrines of the various sects, and afterwards contrasts them with the teaching of the Apostles and the text of the Holy Scripture. His work, written in Greek but quickly translated to Latin, was widely circulated and succeeded in dealing a death-blow to gnosticism. At any rate, from that time onwards, it ceased to offer a serious menace to the Catholic faith.
The date of death of St. Irenaeus is not known, but it is believed to be in the year 202. The bodily remains of St. Irenaeus were buried in a crypt under the altar of what was then called the church of St. John, but was later known by the name of St. Irenaeus himself. This tomb or shrine was destroyed by the Calvinists in 1562, and all trace of his relics seems to have perished.

Friday, June 27, 2014

A Prayer for Priests from Benedict XVI

eternal High Priest, you offered yourself to the
Father on the altar of the Cross and through the
outpouring of the Holy Spirit gave your priestly
people a share in your redeeming sacrifice.
Hear our prayer for the sanctification of our priests.
Grant that all who are ordained to the ministerial
priesthood may be ever more conformed to you,
the divine Master. May they preach the
Gospel with pure heart and clear conscience.
Let them be shepherds according to your own Heart,
single- minded in service to you and to the Church
and shining examples of a holy,simple and joyful life.
Through the prayers of the Blessed Virgin Mary,
your Mother and ours,draw all priests and the flocks
entrusted to their care to the fullness of eternal life where
you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

The Feast of Love

Thursday, June 26, 2014

A Prayer of Abandonment by Blessed Charles De Foucald

I abandon myself into your hands; do with me what you will.
Whatever you may do, I thank you:
I am ready for all, I accept all.
Let only your will be done in me, and in all your creatures.
I wish no more than this, O Lord. 

Into your hands I commend my soul;
I offer it to you
with all the love of my heart,
for I love you, Lord,
and so need to give myself,
to surrender myself into your hands,
without reserve,
and with boundless confidence,
for you are my Father. 

Charles de Foucald

Pope Francis and the Synod on the Family

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Build Your Kingdom Here by Rend Collective Experiment

Venerable Fulton Sheen: There's Hope

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Venerable Fulton Sheen on The Devil

When in Rome... Speak Spanish!

Monday, June 23, 2014

St. Joseph Cafasso: Priest of the Gallows

Today is the feast of St. Joseph Cafasso. He is a saint very close to the heart of all Salesians. The following comes from the Saints and Angels site:

Joseph Cafasso was born at Castelnuovo d'Asti in the Piedmont, Italy, of peasant parents. He studied at the seminary at Turin, and was ordained in 1833. He continued his theological studies at the seminary and university at Turin and then at the Institute of St. Franics, and despite a deformed spine, became a brilliant lecturer in moral theology there. He was a popular teacher, actively opposed Jansenism, and fought state intrusion into Church affairs. He succeeded Luigi Guala as rector of the Institute in 1848 and made a deep impression on his young priest students with his holiness and insistence on discipline and high standards. He was a sought-after confessor and spiritual adviser, and ministered to prisoners, working to improve their terrible conditions. He met Don Bosco in 1827 and the two became close friends. It was through Joseph's encouragement that Bosco decided his vocation was working with boys. Joseph was his adviser, worked closely with him in his foundations, and convinced others to fund and found religious institutes and charitable organizations. Joseph died on June 23 at Turin and was canonized in 1947.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Fr. Dwight Longenecker on The Body of Christ (Substance and Reality)

Corpus Christi
The following comes from Fr. Dwight Longenecker: 

Not too long ago while celebrating Mass I drifted into a kind of silence.

I had spent the day paddling through the shallow waters of contemporary culture and mainstream media and was feeling both tired and soiled.

Then as I celebrated Mass it seemed to me that what I was doing there was real. It was somehow solid and real in a way that nothing else in the world compared to.

The flippy flappy headlines of the day with their superficial concerns, the cycle of economic worries or delights, the celebrity gossip and ecstasy or sorry at the triumph or loss on the sports field–all of it was seen for what it is: ephemera.

But at Mass. Now there we have something solid. I recalled Newman’s words on leaving the Church of England to become a Catholic: “Now this is a real religion.”

Read the rest here.

The Miracle of Fulton J. Sheen

The following comes from Catholic Exchange:

God has friends in places little connected with Him in the public mind.Would you believe an American proposed for official sainthood whose prime time television show brought him an emmy — for talking about God yet?
TV star Fulton John Sheen’s heroic virtue was recognized with the title Venerable in June 2012. You know well by now that it is God’s approval through a miracle that permits a beatification. In this Cause miracles seem in good supply. So beatification could come soon. When it does Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen may have the distinction of ending up with not just one shrine but two.
Not only a widely read author, the native of El Paso, Illinois, was famous for Life Is Worth Living, his television show seen by millions when there were only three networks (ABC, NBC, and CBS) in the United States and the whole country seemed to park itself before “the tube” nightly. Although one of television’s biggest stars, full of personal charisma, with a sense of the dramatic that could make viewers weep, as well as wit and a sense of comedy that evoked bubbles of laughter, Sheen was also revered among those, like Apostoli, who looked past the show for his spiritual attributes: primarily his deep love of Christ exemplified, among other ways, by his unfailingly spending an hour a day — he called it a Holy Hour — in prayer before the eucharistic Christ. Apostoli says that when he saw Sheen, he wanted to be like him — not the celebrity aspect but “the man of God.”
It was Billy Graham — no slouch himself at communicating Christ — who said, “Sheen was the greatest communicator of the twentieth century.” Looking at Sheen’s background, this is surprising. When he started his educational path to the priesthood, the successful business-man’s son’s potential for scholarship, not for communicating to huge groups of ordinary people, was what drew attention. Sent to be educated at some of the world’s foremost schools, the University of Louvain in Belgium, the Sorbonne in Paris, and the Angelicum in Rome, he was the first American at Louvain to win the prestigious Cardinal Mercier Prize for International Philosophy.
He came back to America and, after three years in his home diocese, began to teach theology and philosophy at Washington DC’s Catholic University as an educationally sophisticated intellectual of proven brilliance. Yet he would become known for the ability — often by coining witty and pithy sayings — “to explain spirituality and the Catholic faith in ways that everyone could understand.” And he did it first on radio — so it wasn’t his striking good looks that had people hang­ing on his words. That was as early as 1930, when he began a Sunday-night broadcast called The Catholic Hour. Sponsored by the Church, for twenty years he taught Catholicism that way. From 1951 he “starred” on television.
On TV he taught Life and why it is worth living — a subject which led to God through every topic imaginable. In that anti-Catholic era, 1951 to 1957, there he was before millions, mostly non-Catholics, in full — some would say exaggerated — Catholic regalia: black cleri­cal garb, a large crucifix on his chest, and a big magenta cape flowing behind him. In down-to-earth, humorous talks about life’s basics, aimed at people of every faith or none, his soft-sell approach won friends for Christ and the Church, his converts too many to detail.
Twenty-four years after his death and burial at St. Patrick’s Ca­thedral as a bishop of New York, his Cause was opened in September 2003 by the Peoria Diocese.
Already in the summer of 2006, when the Cause for this Servant of God was only open three years, there were two cures of a magnitude to potentially qualify as official miracles — and definitely, in any case, worth sending to Rome. Following ceremonies in Peoria and in Pitts­burgh, for each of the healings respectively, the Cause’s Rome-based postulator, Andréa Ambrosi, present at both, hand carried them to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.
The first healing recipient was Therese Kearney of Champaign, Illi­nois, then in her early seventies. During a surgery in 1999, Mrs. Kearney suffered a tear in her pulmonary artery. Told his wife would probably not make it, Frank Kearney, a long-time admirer of the media star priest, sought Sheen’s prayer intercession. (Sheen at this time had been dead twenty years.) His wife lived, and this was considered something be­yond what medicine could have done. The couple died in 2006, seven years later, he in February and she, at age 79, in September. But the healing had already survived the diocesan-level vetting. Details of her cure — over five hundred pages of medical data and testimonies by the witnesses, who included the doctors involved, a nurse, a priest, and fam­ily members — had been assembled under Msgr. Richard Soseman, as delegate of the bishop of Peoria. Packed and sealed in a witnessed cer­emony, just five days after Therese Kearney’s death, the records were officially turned over to the postulator for transport to Rome.

Saint of the day: Paulinus of Nola

The following is from the CNA:

On June 22, the Catholic Church remembers Saint Paulinus of Nola, who gave up his life in politics to become a monk, a bishop, and a revered Christian poet of the 5th century.

In a December 2007 general audience on St. Paulinus, Pope Benedict XVI remarked on the saint's artistic gifts, which inspired “songs of faith and love in which the daily history of small and great events is seen as a history of salvation, a history of God with us.”

The poet-bishop's ministry, Pope Benedict said, was also “distinguished by special attention to the poor” – confirming his legacy as “a bishop with a great heart who knew how to make himself close to his people in the sorrowful trials of the barbarian invasions” during the 5th century.

Born at Bordeaux in present-day France during 354, Paulinus came from an illustrious family in the Roman imperial province of Aquitania. He received his literary education from the renowned poet and professor Ausonius, and eventually rose to the rank of governor in the Italian province of Campania.
Not yet baptized or a believer in Christ, Paulinus was nonetheless struck by the Campanians' devotion to the martyr Saint Felix at his local shrine. He took the initiative to build a road for pilgrims, as well as a hospice for the poor near the site of Felix's veneration.

But Paulinus grew dissatisfied with his civil position, leaving Campania and returning to his native region from 380 to 390. He also married a Spanish Catholic woman named Therasia. She, along with Bishop Delphinus of Bordeaux, and St. Martin the Bishop of Tours, guided him toward conversion.
Paulinus and his brother were baptized on the same day by Delphinus. But it was not long into his life as a Christian, that two shattering upheavals took place. Paulinus' infant son died shortly after birth; and when Paulinus' brother also died, he was accused in his murder.

After these catastrophes, Paulinus and Therasia mutually agreed to embrace monasticism, living in poverty and chastity. Around 390, they both moved to Spain. Approximately five years after his change of residence and lifestyle, the residents of Barcelona arranged for Paulinus' ordination as a priest.
During 395 he returned to the Italian city of Nola, where he and his wife both continued to live in chastity as monks. Paulinus made important contributions to the local church, particularly in the construction of basilicas. In 409, the monk was consecrated as the city's bishop.

Paulinus served as the Bishop of Nola for two decades. His gifts as a poet and composer of hymns were matched by his knowledge of Scripture, generosity toward the poor, and devotion to the saints who had preceded him – especially St. Felix, whose intercession he regarded as central to his conversion.

Praised by the likes of St. Augustine and St. Jerome for the depth of his conversion to Christ, the Bishop of Nola was regarded as a saint even before his death on the evening of June 22, 431.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

You Are My Vision by Rend Collective Experiment

Losing the Faith (and Coming Back)

The following comes from Those Catholic Men:

There is a scene I am always struck by in C.S. Lewis’ work The Great Divorce, where two friends, one dwelling in heaven and the other in hell, are discussing their loss of faith in college, and the slow process that led up to it. The damned soul firmly maintains that his opinions on religion, while possibly wrong, were honestly formed, and therefore did not merit condemnation. Then his old friend replies:
“Of course. Having allowed oneself to drift, unresisting, unpraying, accepting every half-conscious solicitation from our desires, we reached a point where we no longer believed the Faith. Just in the same way, a jealous man, drifting and unresisting, reaches a point at which he believes lies about his best friend: a drunkard reaches a point at which (for the moment) he actually believes that another glass will do him no harm. The beliefs are sincere in the sense that they do occur as psychological events in the man’s mind. If that’s what you mean by sincerity they are sincere, and so were ours. But errors which are sincere in that sense are not innocent.”
I have seen a good number of people drift away from their Catholic faith as they got older, began college or entered the work force. When I ask gently why they no longer practiced their faith, the response is usually a shrug and an “I guess it just sort of happened.”
Slowly, going to church slips away as we get busy:  there is too much going on and too much to do (…and surely a loving God understands?). When we completely stop going, we also stop thinking about Christ or the faith.  Less and less do we value the beliefs of that outdated, overly-institutional, and most likely corrupt church, and we take on the values of the outside world without questioning them. Next thing we know, it has been years since we have stepped foot in a church, since we have received forgiveness and the Lord in the Eucharist. And now? The distance is too great, it has been too long, and we are too sluggish. And, frankly, life is a mess. We are sinking in the mire and there doesn’t seem to be a way out.
Fulton Sheen once said, “If you do not live what you believe, you will end up believing what you live.” As the practice of the faith slips away, so does belief, exactly like the lost soul in The Great Divorce. I have noticed in my own life that falling away from God is a lot like gaining weight: It happens slowly over time, and we don’t really notice it or think about it until we are shocked at what we see in the mirror. It happens easily, without the slightest resistance or blatant red flag. Where was my warning? How did it come to this?
The point is this is not only a religious problem, but a human problem (then again, all genuine religious problems are human problems…) Ever since the Fall, all the things we value require effort from us, they don’t come natural anymore. No one slouches into becoming a professional athlete, having a good budget, maintaining a joyful marriage, or making the perfect cornbread (believe me, I’ve tried). Life, in all of its mystery and beauty, always requires something from us. And in the world of Netflix bingeing and online shopping, effort = waste of time.
And here is where Christ steps in, where He shakes us up and pulls us out of our dreary, everyday despair and shame. All it takes is a moment, something to happen that pulls us out of our mess, something completely unexpected. For Matthew, hanging out in his tollbooth, racking up the coins, it was this strange man that rolled up and simply said, “Come, follow me.” And Matthew was pulled out of his mess; he went and walked with this mysterious Jesus, and today we call him Saint Matthew. For Mary of Egypt, who paid her way to Jerusalem by seducing pilgrims, it was the Church of the Holy Sepulcher that forever changed her. An invisible barrier prevented her from stepping inside – no matter how hard she tried. She suddenly realized that all of her broken actions had built a barrier between her and the God who had become flesh, and it was in front of an image of Mary, ever virgin, that she discovered what she had been seeking her whole life. Today she is Saint Mary of Egypt, one of the great female desert ascetics (there is a beautiful painting of her receiving the Eucharist for the last time and regaining her purity in the art gallery of Washington D.C.). For me, as I struggle every day not to lose sight of the face of Christ or slouch back into old habits; it is daily Mass and my friendship with truly holy people that helps to pull me out of my own apathy and self-centeredness and remind me Who really matters. It is there that I encounter Christ and very often he surprises me.
Brothers, here is my point: we all struggle and we all drift because we live in a fallen world (and we are pretty dang fallen too). It is so easy to fall apart again, to step off the path and become lost. But this is not the end of the story: Christ, the Lord of history, enters into our mess and pulls us out.
And when Christ comes to rescue us (and He does), when He breaks into our lives in that so surprising and unexpected way, respond to it. Be faithful to it. When that random work of art pulls your heart in an unexpected way, or an old friend calls to catch up with you, or that tragic funeral awakens you again to the fact that there is more to life than getting ahead and sending cat pictures, realize that this is Christ calling you back to the Church, back to life, to really living and to having His peace and joy.
We are still fallen, so that response can be painful and difficult (standing in that confession line at those inconvenient hours – man, that is tough), but on the other side of it all is love, communion, and home; exactly what was all missing before. Don’t slouch into losing your faith, and if you do, respond to Christ’s call and come back, come back to the Church, come back to life and home.
“The only real sadness, the only real failure, the only great tragedy in life, is not to become a saint.” –Leon Bloy.

Pope Francis: Religious Persecution attacks peace and it belittles our dignity

Friday, June 20, 2014

Archbishop Chaput on Corpus Christi

The following comes from Archbishop Chaput:
This week the Church leads us from one great solemnity, Trinity Sunday last weekend, to another, Corpus Christi Sunday, on June 22.  Both feasts teach us something beautiful about the God we profess and the life he invites us to lead.
Like Jews and Muslims, Christians believe that God is one.  There is no other god but God, who made all things from nothing; who is infinitely greater than and different from us; and who is utterly independent of his creation.  When we call God holy we mean what the Latin word sanctus or the Hebrew word kadosh means – God is “other than” us, and our human understanding, unaided by God himself, can never fully grasp his essence.
But Christians also believe that God speaks to us through Scripture and the wisdom of the Church, and that the words from the First Letter of John – “God is love” (4:8,16) — are quite literally true.  God’s nature, his “oneness,” is a communion of love among Father, Son and Holy Spirit; one God in three divine persons, whose love creates and sustains all things.  Thus, while the nature of God is a mystery, it’s not an entirely foreign one:  Every loving human family – the unity of father, mother and child — reflects, in a small and partial way, the nature of God himself.
There’s more.  Christians believe that God is not merely transcendent but also immanent.  God became man in Jesus Christ.  He took on our flesh.  Therefore Christianity is incarnational.  God created the human race, but then he also entered it out of love to redeem us.  He loves each of us not only as a maker, but also as a father and brother.  This constant, tangible presence of God personally in our midst is renewed in every Mass.  The Eucharist is more than a symbol or a metaphor or a commemorative meal, although it’s all those things, as well.  Rather, it’s the living flesh and blood of Jesus Christ.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Hopeful by Josh Ritter

Benedict XVI on St. Augustine and Corpus Christi

St Augustine helps us to understand the dynamic of Eucharistic communion when he mentions a sort of vision that he had, in which Jesus said to him: “I am the food of strong men; grow and you shall feed on me; nor shall you change me, like the food of your flesh into yourself, but you shall be changed into my likeness” (Confessions, VII, 10, 18).
Therefore whereas food for the body is assimilated by our organism and contributes to nourishing it, in the case of the Eucharist it is a different Bread: it is not we who assimilate it but it assimilates us in itself, so that we become conformed to Jesus Christ, a member of his Body, one with him. This passage is crucial. In fact, precisely because it is Christ who, in Eucharistic communion changes us into him, our individuality, in this encounter, is opened, liberated from its egocentrism and inserted into the Person of Jesus who in his turn is immersed in Trinitarian communion. The Eucharist, therefore, while it unites us to Christ also opens us to others, makes us members of one another: we are no longer divided but one in him. Eucharistic communion not only unites me to the person I have beside me and with whom I may not even be on good terms, but also to our distant brethren in every part of the world.
There is nothing magic about Christianity. There are no short-cuts; everything passes through the humble and patient logic of the grain of wheat that broke open to give life, the logic of faith that moves mountains with the gentle power of God. For this reason God wishes to continue to renew humanity, history and the cosmos through this chain of transformations, of which the Eucharist is the sacrament. […]
Let us walk with no illusions, with no utopian ideologies, on the highways of the world bearing within us the Body of the Lord, like the Virgin Mary in the mystery of the Visitation. With the humility of knowing that we are merely grains of wheat, let us preserve the firm certainty that the love of God, incarnate in Christ, is stronger than evil, violence and death. We know that God prepares for all men and women new heavens and a new earth, in which peace and justice reign - and in faith we perceive the new world which is our true homeland.

Benedict XVI, Homily, Solemnity of Corpus Christi, 23 June 2011

How to Pray When the Words Won’t Come

The following comes from the Catholic Exchange:
At some point in life each of us finds ourselves at a loss for what to say to God. It is usually at a time of intense trial.  The pain of disease, agony of loss, or sting of betrayal leave us overwhelmed.  Our sadness and anger are so acute that we feel abandoned, as if God were a universe away.  How do we pray in those moments?  We look to the example of our Lord Jesus, who desires to draw us into his own prayer.
We can and should look to how Jesus prayed in his Passion (his words and use of the Psalms) … but I wouldn’t necessarily begin there.  More than anything else we need God’s nearness, need to know that we dwell in his presence; and for that we should look to how Jesus prayed within the womb of Mary.
Our Lord’s prayer throughout his first 40 weeks on earth was completely wordless. From the nanosecond his soul and body came into existence, our Lord’s entire humanity was oriented toward the Father. The writer of the Epistle to the  Hebrews heard the prayer of  Jesus’ heart in Psalm 40:
When Christ came into the world, he said,
“Sacrifices and offerings thou hast not desired,
but a body hast thou prepared for me;
in burnt offerings and sin offerings thou hast taken no pleasure. Then I said, ‘Lo, I have come to do thy will, O God,’as it is written of me in the roll of the book.”
(Heb 10:5-7; Ps 40:6-8)
Simply by being, by existing as a child, Jesus was at prayer. It was the prayer of surrender, entrustment. Words were not needed. In the heights of his soul, Jesus gazed upon the Father with all the clarity of the saints in heaven. He was “not engaged in the adult business of thinking at all.” Rather, “in the earthly paradise of his Mother’s body, he is resting and seeing and loving and praising the Father.”*  And his prayer is available to us in our moments of need.  No, we do not have his direct vision of the God the Father, but we can gaze upon the God-Man in the Eucharist.
No matter how deep our pain and confusion, nor how distant we may feel from God, we objectively place ourselves in his presence when we visit him in the tabernacle.  When the Eucharist, the Lord’s Body, is reserved in a Tabernacle or exposed to our eyes in a monstrance, we are allowed to kneel and gaze upon our brother Jesus … as He gazes upon the Father. There he is – just as he has been from all of eternity – surrendered to the Father in the Holy Spirit, and offering himself completely to us. St. Jean Marie Vianney once asked a parishioner what went through his mind as he sat in the church, day after day, staring up at the altar: “Nothing.  I am not much good at thinking, nor do I know many prayers.  So I just sit here, as you see, looking at God.  I look at him and he looks at me.  That is all.”**  That is all?  What a reflection of Jesus’ prayer in the womb of Mary!
When you don’t have the words, put yourself in Jesus’ presence and fasten your eyes upon him.  Be with him.  Open your arms to him and let his Holy Spirit, dwelling within you, “intercede with sighs too deep for words” (Rom 8:26).  Begin there.  In a short time your ability to speak will return and you will be able to make Jesus’ prayer in Gethsamene your own (it’s there in the Our Father).  You will be able to open your Bible and pray the psalms he did upon the Cross (Ps 22,31, and 69), psalms that praise the Father for the resurrection to come, even amidst the pain.  But begin, like Jesus, by gazing upon the Lord.
This article was adapted from Shane Kapler’s book, Through, With, and In Him: The Prayer Life of Jesus and How to Make It Our Own

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Joy To You Baby by Josh Ritter

Pope Francis: Europe has Forgotten Her Roots

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

A Miracle Approved for the Cause of Archbishop Fulton Sheen

Cause for Venerable Sheen’s Beatification moves to next step
Peoria, IL — The Most Reverend Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, Bishop of Peoria and President of the Archbishop Fulton Sheen Foundation, received word today that the seven-member theological commission who advise the Congregation of the Causes of Saints at the Vatican unanimously agreed that a reported miracle should be attributed to the intercession of the Venerable Servant of God Archbishop Fulton Sheen. The case involved a stillborn baby born in September 2010. For over an hour the child demonstrated no signs of life as medical professionals attempted every possible life saving procedure, while the child’s parents and loved ones began immediately to seek the intercession of Fulton Sheen. After 61 minutes the baby was restored to full life and over three years later demonstrates a full recovery. Today’s decision by the theologians comes after the March 2014 vote by the team of Vatican medical experts who affirmed that they could find no natural explanation for the child’s healing. With the recommendations of the medical experts and now the theologians, the case will next be reviewed by the cardinals and bishops who advise the Pope on these matters. Finally, the miracle would be presented to Pope Francis who would then officially affirm that God performed a miracle through the intercession of Fulton Sheen. There is no timeline as to when these next steps might move forward. Should Pope Francis validate this proposed miracle, Sheen could then be declared “Blessed” in a ceremony that could be celebrated in Peoria, Sheen’s hometown. Upon the Holy Father signing the decree for the beatification, an additional miracle would lead to the Canonization of Archbishop Sheen, in which he would be declared a “Saint.” For more information about Fulton Sheen and the Cause for his canonization, visit:

A Homily on Mercy and Justice: Fr. Kenneth Walker, FSSP

CATHOLICISM: Faith Formation

First Things: Why Do People Become Catholic?

The following comes from First Things:

We recently hosted a talk by John Beaumont, author of The Mississippi Flows into the Tiber: A Guide to Notable American Catholic Converts to the Catholic Church. It’s a wonderful compilation of convert stories that includes a few folks associated with this fine magazine. John recounted a number of them. He ended with an arresting question: Why do people convert to Catholicism? There’s no one answer, of course, but many reasons, which John winsomely summarized.
My Protestant friends sometimes accuse First Things of encouraging Catholic triumphalism. We’re not entirely innocent. How can we avoid an atmosphere of triumphalism, given the profound influence Catholicism exercises over so many who are associated with the magazine, beginning with our founding editor and including our current one, yours truly? We love the Catholic Church, and one invariably wishes to champion that which one loves. And so, in that spirit—and with the urgent reminder that there’s no reason Protestants don’t share in these reasons in their own ways— I’ll recount John’s summation, adding my own observations.
1. Visibility: Catholicism attracts because it’s visible. That’s obvious in the case for the architecture of Catholic churches, which aside from a short period of modernist banality brashly claims space as sacred. Men and women in religious orders wear distinctive outfits. Priests consistently set themselves apart with clerical collars. Even the bulky, sometimes exasperating institutional bureaucracy of the Catholic has a reassuring solidity. This multifaceted visibility is especially powerful in our culture, which so often reduces faith to a private opinion or inward sentiment. The scriptures speak of a New Jerusalem, a city of God. Catholicism foreshadows that city with its very real and tangible buildings, uniforms, rituals, laws, and ensigns.
2. Universality: The Church is universal, spanning the entire globe. Or more simply: Catholicism is catholic. This breadth makes the gospel more credible. The universality of the Church demonstrates that ours is a faith for all men and all seasons. It’s not a European or African or South American religion; it’s not an ancient or medieval or modern religion. The Church’s universality has a special appeal to those of us aware of the failures of postmodern Western culture. We feel the intellectual and moral decadence of our times, and we know this deforms our reason and conscience. Here the universality of the Church is a source of grace. To enter the Church is to enter a larger world. We don’t stop being postmodern Americans—instead, we become more than that. The Church’s catholicity delivers us from our parochialism, which in America often comes in the form of a false universalism.
3. Endurance: There’s a joke about a papal representative who meets with Stalin. The Man of Steel announces his intention to destroy the Church. The cleric responds, “Good luck. We’ve been trying for two thousand years and haven’t succeeded.” The Church’s endurance, the continuity of teaching and ministry, is nothing short of miraculous—especially during times of high status, prominence, and privilege when worldly seductions are powerful. At the very times when the papacy fell captive to corrupt Renaissance popes, the Holy Spirt was stirring up a piety that gave birth to great new religious orders.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Never Grow Old by The Digital Age

Pope Francis: "The Eucharist is like the ‘burning bush’ in which the Trinity humbly dwells"

 During his Sunday Angelus remarks reflecting on divine love, Pope Francis invited all the Romans and pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square to join in a Eucharistic procession later this week.

“Next Thursday, according to Roman tradition, we will celebrate holy Mass at St. John Lateran and then we will make a procession with the Blessed Sacrament. I invite Romans and pilgrims to participate in order to express our desire to be a people drawn together in the unity of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” he said on June 15 to the crowds filling St. Peter’s Square.

“We look forward to seeing you all next Thursday at 7 p.m., for the Mass and the procession on Corpus Christi,” he added, referring to the feast day celebrating the Eucharist.

Pope Francis linked the upcoming feast with the one celebrated this Sunday, the feast of the Holy Trinity.

“Every Sunday we go to Mass, we celebrate the Eucharist together and the Eucharist is like the ‘burning bush’ in which the Trinity humbly dwells and communicates itself: this is why the Church has placed the feast of the Body of the Lord after that of the Trinity.”

The Holy Father also reflected on the Divine love of the Trinity, “origin and goal of the universe and of every creature.”

He explained that the Trinity acts as a model of the Church where Christians are called to love with the perfect, sacrificial love of Jesus.

Moreover, this love is “distinctive of Christianity, as Jesus has told us: ‘By this they will know that you are my disciples: if you love one another.’”

Pope Francis then spoke emphatically of the impossibility of hatred for a Christian. “It is a contradiction to think of Christians who hate. It’s a contradiction!”

“And the devil always looks for this: to make us hate, because he always sows the seeds of the discord of hatred.”

Christians, rather, are called to give witness to the message that “God is love, that God is not far away from or insensitive to our human affairs.”

God shows his love in the incarnation of the Son, “this love that is very difficult to understand but that we feel when we come close to Jesus. And he always forgives, he always awaits us, he loves us so much. And the love of Jesus that we feel is the love of God.”

God’s love is also communicated through the Holy Spirit who brings us into “the dynamism of the Trinity, that is a dynamism of love, of communion, of reciprocal service, of sharing.”

“A person who loves others for the very joy of love is a reflection of the Trinity,” the pontiff  noted.

“True love is without limit, but knows to limit itself, to go to meet the other, to respect the freedom of the other.”

Pope Francis then led the crowds in the Angelus prayer, followed by a special intention to pray for Iraq which has recently experienced much political unrest and violence.

“I invite all of you to unite yourselves to my prayer for the dear nation of Iraq, above all for the victims and for those who suffer the major part of the consequences of the expanding violence, in particular for the many people, among which there are many Christians, who have had to leave their own homes.”

“I hope, for the whole population, security and peace and a future of reconciliation and justice where all Iraqis, whatever might be there religious affinity, together can build their homeland, making it a model of life together,” he stressed.

The Holy Father also announced that he will visit the city of Tirana in Albania on the 21st of September. “With this short trip I want to confirm the faith of the Church in Albania and witness to my encouragement and love in a country that has suffered for a long time in consequence of the ideologies of the past.”

Pope Francis concluded his Angelus by greeting the various pilgrim groups, wishing everyone a “good Sunday and a good lunch,” and asking everyone to pray for him.


Sunday, June 15, 2014

Fr. Robert Barron on The Holy Trinity

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Fr. Robert Barron: "Pope Francis and the New Evangelization"

Why I Became Catholic (And not Buddhist)

The following comes from Catholic Sistas:
One of the questions I get most often when people hear I’m a convert is, “Why did you choose to become Catholic?” I’ve been asked this question by Jews, Baptists, Mormons, atheists, and even Jehovah’s Witnesses. The person who asks the question never says the rest of it, which is, “Why did you choose to become a Catholic INSTEAD of what am?” These are people of genuine faith, who believe they have found and are living by The Truth. So naturally they want to understand how someone educated and sane could believe so differently.
It’s always a hard question to answer, because I’m sensitive to that unspoken part. I don’t want to insinuate–even accidentally–that they are less intelligent, less holy, or inferior to me as a Catholic. I usually give the “safe” answer, and talk about how my husband and I were drawn continuously to Jesus in the Eucharist. But part of me always yearns to say what G.K. Chesterton said so beautifully:
The difficulty of explaining “why I am Catholic” is that there are 10,000
reasons all amounting to one reason: that Catholicism is true.
I never wanted to be a Catholic. I never even wanted to be a Christian. When my husband convinced me to join him on a quest through major and minor religions nearly 15 years ago, I did it mostly to humor him. I had lived as an avowed atheist for more than a decade and couldn’t imagine that The Truth even existed, much less it could be found. Especially when I couldn’t even accept that God was real.
Fortunately, God literally changed my mind about Him with a thunderbolt. One day, I was reading an article about the human genome project (I was a technical writer), when I was drawn to look at my own hand. What had before been a clever machine of flesh and bone was suddenly revealed to me as a pure miracle of creation. It was truly that instant; one second I was an atheist, and the next I was a believer. I knew with absolute certainty that only an intelligent designer–God–could have created something as incredible as me!