Saturday, August 30, 2014

The Body of Christ: Substance and Reality

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.”
Of course this is linked with the history of the Church. The Mass has been here and been celebrated from the intimacy of the Lord’s Supper down through the ages. I remembered that classic passage from Dom Gregory Dix:
Was ever another command so obeyed? For century after century, spreading slowly to every continent and country and among every race on earth, this action has been done, in every conceivable human circumstance, for every conceivable human need from infancy and before it to extreme old age and after it, from the pinnacle of earthly greatness to the refuge of fugitives in the caves and dens of the earth. Men have found no better thing than this to do for kings at their crowning and for criminals going to the scaffold; for armies in triumph or for a bride and bridegroom in a little country church; for the proclamation of a dogma or for a good crop of wheat; for the wisdom of the Parliament of a mighty nation or for a sick old woman afraid to die; for a schoolboy sitting an examination or for Columbus setting out to discover America; for the famine of whole provinces or for the soul of a dead lover; in thankfulness because my father did not die of pneumonia; for a village headman much tempted to return to fetich because the yams had failed; because the Turk was at the gates of Vienna; for the repentance of Margaret; for the settlement of a strike; for a son for a barren woman; for Captain so-and-so wounded and prisoner of war; while the lions roared in the nearby amphitheatre; on the beach at Dunkirk; while the hiss of scythes in the thick June grass came faintly through the windows of the church; tremulously, by an old monk on the fiftieth anniversary of his vows; furtively, by an exiled bishop who had hewn timber all day in a prison camp near Murmansk; gorgeously, for the canonisation of S. Joan of Arc—one could fill many pages with the reasons why men have done this, and not tell a hundredth part of them. And best of all, week by week and month by month, on a hundred thousand successive Sundays, faithfully, unfailingly, across all the parishes of Christendom, the pastors have done this just to make the plebs sancta Dei—the holy common people of God.
Such thoughts were dancing in my own mind and imagination as I stood at the altar to say the black and do the red.
Then for Corpus Christi I read that article in the Daily Telegraph about neuroscience and religion and wrote a blog post.
The poor scientist seemed to think that religion consisted only of mystical experiences.
What I saw and knew was that such experiences are not really so important in Christianity at all.
Mystical experiences and charismatic gooseys and hallelujah moments and apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary are all well and good and I think they’re marvelous, but at the end of the day Christianity is about a historical person.
It’s about Body and Blood. It’s about Blood, Sweat and Tears. It’s about something that no other religions is about: the historical incarnation of the Son of God who took flesh of the Blessed Virgin and  became Man.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Believe by Brooks and Dunn

O Lord, Make Me Happy, But Not Yet…

The following comes from Fr. Dwight Longenecker:
Sister Mary Lucy was a Poor Clare nun who suffered greatly. She lost her eyesight and had a degenerative bone disease which caused her spine to crumble.
The doctors could do very little to help her. I used to visit her regularly, but never once heard her complain.
Instead she had a huge radiant smile. I asked her, “Sister, do you ever feel angry at the Lord because you have lost your sight?”
“Oh no!” she’d exclaim, “I’ve seen such wonderful things that I would never have been able to see if I had my sight!”
She was a mystic.
Another time I asked her if she was in pain because of her crumbling spine.
She said, “Constantly!”
Doesn’t that make you unhappy?
“No! It makes me happy because it brings me so close to Jesus!”
I look around me at so many people who are so unhappy over tiny trifles and I remember Sister Mary Lucy and I remember St Augustine’s famous quote, “Lord make me chaste… but not yet.”
Then I think how many people seem to be saying to God, “Lord, make me happy…but not yet.”
Here we are as Americans–the richest, healthiest, best educated, most self reliant and able human beings who have ever lived and yet so much unhappiness.
I’m not talking about those who have real cause for unhappiness–the poor, the unemployed, the chronically sick, the bereaved, prisoners, those with terminal illness, but I’m talking about the big babies that most of us are.
Why so much unhappiness, griping, grumbling, whinging and whining, bitching and bellyaching over so many totally petty and silly things?
I think it’s because we WANT to be unhappy.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Restless by Audrey Assad

Anima Christi

Soul of Christ, sanctify me.

Body of Christ, save me.
Blood of Christ, inebriate me.
Water from the side of Christ, wash me.
Passion of Christ, strengthen me.
O Good Jesus, hear me.
Within your wounds hide me.
Permit me not to be separated from you.
From the wicked foe, defend me.
At the hour of my death, call me
and bid me come to you
That with your saints I may praise you
For ever and ever. Amen

Monday, August 25, 2014

Saint Louis of France: Man of the Holy Eucharist

The following comes from Archbishop Burke at the Catholic Exchange:
 On this August 25, we celebrated the feast day of Saint Louis of France, principal patron saint of the Archdiocese of Saint Louis. The feast day of Saint Louis is celebrated as a solemnity in the City of Saint Louis and as a feast in the rest of the Archdiocese.
In my homily for the Pontifical Mass for the Solemnity of Saint Louis in the Cathedral Basilica, I reflected on the source of the heroic sanctity of our principal patron who was a husband and father of eleven children, ruler of a great nation, and Crusader for the safeguarding of the Christian life in the holy places of our Lord’s Redemptive Incarnation. Wanting to share my reflection with all of the faithful of the Archdiocese, I have edited the homily for this week’s column.
Becoming Whom We Receive in Holy Communion
In his Post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum caritatis, “On the Eucharist as the Source and Summit of the Church’s Life and Mission,” Pope Benedict XVI recalls a passage from the Confessions of Saint Augustine, regarding the Holy Eucharist. Saint Augustine writes about the different effect of consuming the Heavenly Bread of the Holy Eucharist in comparison with the effect of eating earthly food. Earthly food is assimilated into our very being; it becomes a part of us. The Body of Christ, the Heavenly Food of our earthly pilgrimage, on the contrary, transforms us into the Food we consume, that is, Christ Whom we receive in Holy Communion.
Through the Eucharistic Sacrifice, our Lord Jesus Christ unites us to Himself, draws our hearts into His glorious Sacred Heart. By so doing, He heals and purifies our poor, fearful and doubting hearts. He gives rest and strength to our hearts. In short, He gives us the grace to live in Him always, to reflect His likeness in every moment of our lives, in everything that we think and say and do. In the glorious pierced Heart of Jesus, we receive the strength to “remove from [our] midst oppression,” to “bestow bread on the hungry and satisfy the afflicted,” trusting that “the Lord will guide [us] always and give [us] plenty even on the parched land” (Is 58:10-11). In the Heart of Jesus, we find the refreshment and fortitude to become for our neighbor “a spring whose water never fails” (Is 58:11). In the words of Saint Paul, our Lord Jesus Christ gives us the grace to offer our bodies “as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is [our] spiritual worship” (Rom 12:1) (Pope Benedict XVI, Post-synodal Apostolic ExhortationSacramentum caritatis, “On the Eucharist as the Source and Summit of the Church’s Life and Mission,” 22 February 2007, n. 70).
The Intrinsically Eucharistic Nature of Christian Life
Pope Benedict XVI comments on the reflection of Saint Augustine with these words:
Christianity’s new worship includes and transfigures every aspect of life: “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor 10:31). Christians, in all their actions, are called to offer true worship to God. Here the intrinsically Eucharistic nature of Christian life begins to take shape. The Eucharist, since it embraces the concrete, everyday existence of the believer, makes possible, day by day, the progressive transfiguration of all those called by grace to reflect the image of the Son of God (cf. Rom 8:29ff). There is nothing authentically human — our thoughts and affections, our words and deeds — that does not find in the Sacrament of the Eucharist the form it needs to be lived to the full (Sacramentum caritatis, n. 71).
The Holy Eucharist is truly the fount and highest expression of the life of the Church. It is, therefore, the fount and highest expression of our personal life in Christ. Having communion with the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist, we are called and given the grace to live in pure and selfless love of God and neighbor, observing always and everywhere the great commandment of love (Mt 22:37-40).

Saint of the day: Louis, King of France

The following comes from

St. Louis, King of France, patron of Tertiaries, was the ninth of his name. He was born at Poissy, France, in 1214. His father was Louis VIII, and his mother was Blanche, daughter of Alfonso VIII of Castille, surnamed the Conqueror. At the age of twelve he lost his father, and his mother became regent of the kingdom. From his tenderest infancy she had inspired him with a love for holy things.

In 1234, he married Margaret, the virtuous daughter of Raymond Berenger, Count of Provence, and two years later he took the reigns of government into his own hands. In 1238, he headed a crusade, in which he fell a prisoner among the Mohammedans, but a truce was concluded and he was set free and he returned to France. In 1267, he again set out for the East at the head of a crusade but he never again beheld his native land. In 1270, he was stricken by the pestilence at the siege of Tunis, and after receiving the Last Sacraments, he died. His feast day is August 25th.

Friday, August 22, 2014

My Heart Is Yours by Kristian Stanfill

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Tim Staples: How are we saved?

Tim Staples is a great apologist!  He is a great witness to our Catholic faith!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Who Was The Most Influential Saint of His Time?

The following comes from the Catholic Exchange site:

Reread that headline carefully. The question is not who is the most influential saint of all time, but rather of his or her time. The answer to the former is probably easy. I imagine many of us would tick of one of the following—St. Francis, St. Catherine, St. Patrick, St. Anthony, St. Joseph, St. Therese of Lisieux, St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Dominic, to name just a few—it’s a long list. But the second question—who was most influential in his lifetime?—is a bit of a head-scratcher.

Think of your own answer to this question and e-mail me ( your thoughts before reading further. (Please, in addition to listing your nominee, give a reason. I may post the runners-up in a follow-up, but I’ll keep your names out of it!) I imagine that few of us, including yours truly, would have come up with the answer that noted Catholic historian Warren Carroll does:

Answer: St. Bernard of Clairvaux.

Here’s what Carroll writes of him:

No man before or since who held no office of power throughout his life bestrode his age as did this monk of genius and of leashed but flaming passion, juridically only one of the many hundreds of abbots in the Church, yet the terror and inspiration of emperors and kings, the shield and sword—and where necessary the goad—of Popes. No historical determinist theory, no calculations of material or institutional power and influence can begin to account for St. Bernard of Clairvaux and what he did.

This is high praise, even for a saint, but St. Bernard deserves it. During his life, he launched a sweeping reform of the religious life in Europe, squashed a major anti-trinitarian heresy, nearly single-handedly averted a schism in the Papacy, and sparked a new crusade to Jerusalem, according to Carroll’s account. His achievements do not stop there. St. Bernard, among other things, also drew up the rule for the legendary Knights Templar and was one of the founders of the Cistercian order. He is also credited with writing about ten treatises. And, it is to him, that we owe prayers like the “Memorare” to Mary and hymns such as “O Sacred Head Surrounded.” Indeed, it is hard to think of a saint whose do deeply touched so many different areas of the social, political, and spiritual life of his time.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Alive Again by Mark Maher

A Vocation Prayer by Saint John Paul II

Lord Jesus, once you called the first disciples in order to make them fishers of men. Continue to let resound today Your sweet invitation: "Come and follow me." Grant to young men and young women the grace of responding promptly to Your voice. Sustain our bishops, priests and consecrated souls in their apostolic work. Give perseverance to our seminarians and to all those who are fulfilling an ideal of a life of total consecration to Your service. Enkindle in our communities a missionary zeal. Send Lord, workers into Your fields and do not let mankind be lost because of a lack of pastors, missionaries and people dedicated to the cause of the Gospel.

Mary, Mother of the Church, Model of Vocations, help us say "Yes to the Lord Who calls us to collaborate in the Divine Design of Salvation." Amen.

Discovering God's Will

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Restless by Audrey Assad

Why St. John Bosco Matters!

The following comes from the examiner site:

As another school year begins it is a worthy endeavor to contemplate the teaching and ‘parenting’ skills of John Bosco, a priest who understood that faith and learning go hand in hand 24/7. His example is one that serves for all families, but even more for those that have chosen to homeschool. He was innovative, as anxious to learn as he was to teach, and fully aware that hard work needed to be mixed with quality play.

Francis Bosco was a widower with a son and a dependent mother, who he cared for on his small, poor farm. He married a woman by the name of Margaret Occhiena, who embraced the family and made their humble surroundings into a real home with love and warmth. They became parents to two sons, Joseph, and two years later, John. Then, when the younger boy himself was two, Francis died of pneumonia. Margaret, with little education herself, was dedicated to teaching her children about God. Despite the fact they had very little, she was always able to see the good in what they did have, and Christ in all things.

John watched from his position in the field where he tended the sheep as each year children headed off to school, and he tried to learn what he could. By the time he was nine, his mother recognized that the boy needed something more, but his half-brother, Anthony, was head of the household, and he refused, using the fact that he himself worked hard and never had any schooling, and that would be good enough for John, too. The boy wanted to study to become a priest, and his mother eventually worked out a deal with a schoolmaster/priest to teach him from November through spring, and then John would return to work on the farm. Some biographies say the school was three miles and others, four, but in either case the youngster made the commitment and walked to and from there everyday. He always had problems keeping peace in the family and endured the ridicule of other children who chided him for trying to become a priest.

Starting around the same time as his school years and continuing through his life, John Bosco was blessed with visions of Jesus and his Blessed Mother. The Lord is said to have instructed him that a peaceful nature was the way he would reach many young people. He called the young boy to patience, obedience, and understanding. After he became a priest that was his role as he nurtured and cared for orphan and homeless boys whom he housed in a separate building at St. Philomena’s Hospice where he was the chaplain to girls. When given a choice between the hospice girls and the wild boys, he resigned his post and opened a refuge for boys known as the Oratory. His mother, who had all along been nearby to encourage and teach her son, remained very active in his life and ministry, and joined him in that endeavor.

On the journey John Bosco realized that young boys have no attention span and he began to devise ways to capture their focus. He learned magic tricks, jokes, and acrobatic stunts. Once the group was good and mesmerized, he began to teach. As the news spread, he became an important figure in the life of wayward boys. He built a church, facilitated workshops, taught and preached, and soon had such a large following it took at least ten priests to care for the pastoral needs of the boys. John Bosco was a popular paid speaker and homilist. He wrote best selling books and was graced with many charitable donations to continue his ministry. His work became so big that he needed more help dedicated to serving the Lord through the boys and eventually girls, that he formed a religious order to accept the challenge, the Society of St. Francis de Sales. By the time of his death in 1888, there were more than sixty Salesian foundations in Europe and America, and nearly eight hundred priests, and the order remains quite active today.

The idea given to John by the Lord was a vision of youth ministry that he saw as an inner window comprised of four panes. Each pane was uniquely different, but it took all four to view the entire picture. He expressed the panes as places where youth could thrive in a well balanced structure, and no one would be forced to pursue one pane at the expense of another.

The first window pane, he called ‘home,’ a place of belonging, where a youth could sit down at a meal with others and share his/her story, and hear those of other children. John called the second pane ‘school,’ where youth studied in a way that permitted them to grow rather than be stifled. He saw education as a way for student and teacher to question and learn together. The third window pane was ‘church.’ There, youth would be empowered to become active participants in the sacramental and worship lives of the whole faith community. The fourth was named ‘playground,’ where children were encouraged to be children, to run and play and enjoy the company of others.

Why does this matter today? Largely because it doesn’t happen enough. As early in the Bible as Deuteronomy 6:4-9, parents are called to tend to the education and right thinking of their children. This ancient lesson is the first time the great commandment was encouraged as part of life’s structure. The Book of Proverbs begins by telling the reader it’s purpose is that humankind may appreciate wisdom and discipline and may understand words of intelligence, and that they may receive training in wise conduct, what is honest, just and right (Proverbs 1:2-3). From that point, Proverbs continues to emphasize wisdom taught by parents and elders.

Too often today parents are not involved in their children’s education. One principal complained about a Parent-Teacher Meeting that no parents attended. Is it any wonder that particular school is below the acceptable standard in the Albuquerque Public School system? Looking at it from four window panes, parents need to ask themselves, do they have a home where children are actually able to talk and live, to share their lives around a dinner table, and that doesn’t mean conversing by text with friends. Are the parents active in their children’s education? Not that everyone has the skills or the time and resources, but Catholic homeschooling is quite acceptable, encouraged, and was endorsed by Pope John Paul II among others. Do parents worship with their children or is it preferable to drop them off at church, if at all? Do they celebrate the sacraments together as family and community? And one last point, do they play and have fun together, enjoying all of the gifts from God, especially each other.

Churches of all denominations abound with programs for youth, and some are quite similar to the plan set up by John Bosco one hundred and fifty years ago. The elements of key importance are the same elements of Christian life: that we love God and trust him completely, that we care about one another, including the kids, and that we be involved in each others lives, including what we/they learn. Yes, the ethic of John Bosco matters, perhaps now more than ever. Have you hugged your gift today?

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Hallelujah by The Digital Age

Prayer for Justice and Peace in the Holy Lands

Lord our God, author of life and giver of peace,
the tragic events unfolding in Iraq, Syria, Israel and Palestine pain us.
We know that violence is not conquered by violence.
We remember all those forced from their homes in Iraq.
We entrust to your loving kindness those who have lost everything in Gaza.
We commend to your mercy those who have suffered violence and death in Syria.
We ask your protection for the people of the land of Israel.
They are all our brothers and sisters and they depend on us.
Teach us to live in solidarity with all those who suffer.
Let justice and peace rain down upon your people
living in the land of Abraham and in all of the lands we call holy.
Together with us, Jews and Muslims also look to the person of Abraham
as a model of unconditional submission to the will of God.
Watch over those who have lost faith and hope.
Comfort the sick, the imprisoned and all who suffer.
Console those whom mourn the loss of loved ones.
Grant shelter to those who have lost their homes and lands.
Watch over the Church’s Pastors and the entire community
of believers who live in your lands.
In the Church we are all members of a single body,
all mutually necessary, because each has been given a grace
according to the measure of the gift of Christ, for the common good.
May Mary, the Mother of Jesus, help us to understand and live every day
the fraternity that springs up from the heart of her Son,
so as to bring peace to each person on this our beloved earth
especially in your own lands.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Friday, August 15, 2014

AU CIEL by L'Angelus


J'irai la voir un jour
Au ciel dans la patrie 
Oui j'irai voir 
Marie Ma joie et mon amour 

Au ciel, au ciel, au ciel 
J'irai la voir un jour 

J'irai la voir un jour 
J'irai mourir aux anges 
Pour chanter ses louanges 
Et pour former sa cour 

J'irai la voir un jour 
Cette vierge si belle 
Bientôt j'irai près d'elle 
Lui dire mon amour 

Au ciel, au ciel, au ciel 
J'irai la voir un jour
J'irai la voir un jour 
J'irai près de sa tombe 
Recevoir la colombe 
Dans l'éternel séjour 

J'irai la voir un jour 
J'irai loin de la terre 
Sur le coeur de ma mère 
Me poser sans retour 

Au ciel, au ciel, au ciel 
J'irai la voir un jour 

J'irai la voir un jour. 

In English 

I'll see her one day 
In the Sky, in the Garden 
Yes I will see Mary 
My joy and my love
In the Sky, in the Sky, in the Sky 
I'll see her one day 

I'll see her one day 
I'll join the angels 
To sing her praises 
And form her court 

I'll see her one day 
This so beautiful 
Virgin Soon 
I'll be near her 
To say my love 

In the Sky, in the Sky, in the Sky 
I'll see her one day 

I'll see her one day 
I'll go near her tomb 
To welcome the dove 
For the eternal stay 

I'll see her one day 
I'll go away from earth 
To the heart of my mother 
To rest with no return 

In the Sky, in the Sky, in the Sky 
I'll see her one day
I'll see her one day

The House of the Virgin Mary, Ephesus, Turkey

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Pope Francis: ‘More Martyrs in Church Today Than There Were in First Centuries’

( Pope Francis, who has condemned the ongoing persecution of Christians and other religious minorities in Iraq by the Islamic State jihadists, recently said, citing the Middle East, that there are “more martyrs in the Church today than there were in the first centuries.”
“There are many martyrs today, in the Church, many persecuted Christians,” said Pope Francis. “Think of the Middle East where Christians must flee persecution, where Christians are killed. Even those Christians who are forced away in an ‘elegant’ way, with ‘white gloves,’ that too is persecution.”
“There are more witnesses, more martyrs in the Church today than there were in the first centuries,” he said. “So, during this Mass, remembering our glorious ancestors, let us think also of our brothers who are persecuted, who suffer and who, with their blood are nurturing the seed of so many little churches that are born. Let us pray for them and for us.”
Pope Francis made his remarks during his homily for the Mass he offered on June 30 at St. Martha’s House, where he resides next to the Vatican and where he receives people who want to attend a Mass offered by the Pope.
Pope Francis: ‘More Martyrs in the Church Today Than There Were in the First Centuries’
Artist depiction of a Christian martyr in Rome.
On that day, June 30, the Catholic Church honors the martyrs of Rome, killed by the order ofEmperor Nero in AD 64. Following a massive fire that destroyed large sections of Rome, the Emperor Nero blamed the Christians for the conflagration and ordered them to be killed in Rome and throughout the Empire.
Some of the torture and killing methods included sewing Christians up in animal skins and letting dogs tear them to pieces; crucifixion; burned at the stake; and, hooking Christians to tall poles, pouring hot wax and flammables on them and then lighting them on fire to serve as torches.
Sts. Paul and Peter were martyred under the persecution set by Nero.
In condemning the ongoing attacks against Christians and other religious groups by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), Pope Francis on Sunday said the violence left him “in dismay and disbelief,” and he denounced the reports of "thousands of people, including many Christians, driven from their homes in a brutal manner; children dying of thirst and hunger in their flight; women kidnapped; people massacred; [and] violence of every kind."
"All this gravely offends God and humanity,” Pope Francis said, asreported in The Guardian.  “Hatred is not to be carried in the name of God. War is not to be waged in the name of God."
WARNING, GRAPHIC: To view photos of some of the persecution and murder of Christians and other religious minorities occurring in Iraq, click here.

Pope Francis: Iraq crisis "offends God"

US Catholics organize prayers for peace in Iraq

 Catholics in various parts of the U.S. have organized efforts to pray for peace in Iraq, especially for persecuted Christians.

The chairman of the U.S. bishops’ international justice and peace committee, Bishop Richard Pates of Des Moines, has called for collective prayer for peace in Iraq on Aug. 17 using a prayer written by the Chaldean Patriarch of Babylon.

“Lord, the plight of our country is deep and the suffering of Christians is severe and frightening,” reads the prayer of Patriarch Louis Rafael I Sako. “Therefore, we ask you Lord to spare our lives, and to grant us patience, and courage to continue our witness of Christian values with trust and hope.”

“Lord, peace is the foundation of life; grant us the peace and stability that will enable us to live with each other without fear and anxiety, and with dignity and joy,” the prayer concludes. “Glory be to you forever.”

The bishop noted the struggles of Christians and other minorities in Iraq. Militants with the Islamic State have burned and looted churches, homes, and businesses, and have threatened those who do not convert to Sunni Islam.

Bishop Pates cited Pope Francis’ call for peace, citing the Pope’s declaration that “violence generates more violence” and dialogue is “the only path to peace.”

The bishop encouraged Catholics to tell their legislators about their concerns for Christians and other religious minorities suffering in Iraq, Syria, and elsewhere.

The Archdiocese of Washington is encouraging Catholics to say a prayer attributed to St. Francis, “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.”

The archdiocese is also encouraging fasting. It encourages sharing the story of persecuted Christians on social media under the hashtag “#WeAreN.” The hashtag refers to the first letter of the word “Nusrani,” indicating “Christian.” Militants are painting nun, the Arabic equivalent of “N”, on the homes of Christians to target them for harassment and violence.

In the Archdiocese of New York, Holy Innocents parish is holding a prayer vigil for peace Aug. 11. Marking the feast of the transitus of St. Clare of Assisi, it will include Mass at the parish, followed by a candlelight prayer rally at Manhattan's Herald Square.

In the Archdiocese of Denver, Archbishop Samuel Aquila will host an interreligious prayer gathering for Middle East peace at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception on Aug. 11. Together with the Maronite Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon’s ecumenical and interfaith office, the effort aims to halt the murder of Christians and the destruction of Christians’ homes, properties, and churches.

“Though no simple resolution to these tragedies is readily apparent, we, as people of faith, cannot help but be moved to respond in some way,” Archbishop Aquila said.

The prayer effort also seeks an end to the persecution of Jewish and Muslim minorities in the Middle East.

Representatives at the event will include Catholic and Orthodox Churches from the Middle East; Protestant and Catholic representatives from Western Christianity; and Jews and Muslims.

“We are coming together as a people who believe in God … proud of our diversity, yet honored to call one another brothers and sisters, to celebrate and protect the civilization of diversity, peace, love and co-existence,” said Father Andre-Sebastian Mahanna, pastor of St. Rafka Maronite parish in Lakewood and director of the Maronite eparchy’s interfaith office.

The prayer service will include readings from the Pentateuch, the New Testament, and the Koran, as well as hymns and prayers for peace.

The Our Father will be chanted in Hebrew, Syro-Aramaic, Greek, Latin, and English. There will be prayers in Arabic, as well.

Archbishop Aquila will deliver a statement expressing solidarity on behalf of the religions gathered.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Fr. Robert Barron on the Persecution of Christians in the Middle East

Monday, August 11, 2014

Feast of St. Clare of Assisi

The following comes from Fr. Steve Grunow at Word on Fire:

Today, Father Steve offers his homily for the Feast of St. Clare of Assisi, a contemporary and friend of St. Francis who conformed herself to a life of voluntary poverty for the service of Christ. 

Saint Clare, whose feast the Church celebrates today, was born into a wealthy family in the year 1193.

When she was eighteen years old, a charismatic wonderworker by the name of Francis came to preach a series of Lenten sermons at the church of St. Girogio in the town of Assisi. Clare was cut to the heart by Francis’ words and literally left behind everything to enact in her own life Francis’ call to embrace evangelical poverty.

Clare’s commitment to Francis’ spiritual vision would blossom into a community of sisters who would serve as a sisterly counterpart to Francis’ spiritual brotherhood. Clare and her sisters would accept nothing that would diminish her commitment to evangelical poverty. She and her sisters would share all things in common. They would sleep on the ground and would not even accept sandals for their feet. 

If such radicalism shocks and provokes us, it is doing precisely what it is meant to do.
Evangelical poverty is about belonging to Jesus Christ with the whole of one’s being. Such a commitment requires a rigorous detachment from one’s desires. The spiritual commitment of evangelical poverty is directed as a contrary to all that false beliefs that continually assert that we are defined by what we own, by how much money and property that we can accumulate, by our status or class, and by our need for security and control.

Our relationship with Christ insists that more important than any of these things, which are by their nature finite and passing away, is our eternal identity as the children of God in Christ.

Such dedication is a mysterious spiritual path that all are called to consider, but few are called to embrace in its totality. It should not be confused with a dualism or hatred of the material, but a prophetic charism that calls humanity to consider the truth that this world is not ultimate and the grace of creation is mitigated by our desire to possess it without acknowledging that what God has created is meant to lead us to share in his divine life.

The practical benefit of evangelical poverty is love. In choosing to have less, we offer to someone else more and discipline ourselves to accept that it is of greater value to give than to receive.
The other gift of evangelical poverty is humility. Evangelical poverty necessitates that one eschew honors, rewards, and recognition. It demands that we take our place not with the mighty and the powerful, but as the servant of the poor and afflicted. It radiates the peace of mind of a disciple, the contrary disposition to the worldly who, fearing that loss of their worldly things, are beset with anxiety and fear. 

The witness of Saint Clare reminds us that it is integral to our mission as disciples of the Lord to accept the full implication of our act of faith in him. God gives to us his Beloved Son, a grace which has value beyond that of anything in the world. The gift of Christ is so tremendous that all our desires and attachments are relativized in his wake. We have in Christ everything, and all things find their proper place in relation to his priority.

May Christ permit us to be poor, like Saint Clare, so that we might share, as she does, in the riches of his own divine life. 

Saturday, August 9, 2014

A Still Small Voice

The following comes from the Catholic Exchange:
What is in a whisper? When someone whispers, we quiet down, sharpen our ears and pay attention. A whisper conveys often the most important information–whether intimate words of love or secret words that tell of hidden matters. Whispers are usually more significant than shouts, but they also require more of us. If we fail to pay attention, we could miss the last words of a dying man or a key insight that could change the direction of our lives.

Whispers Good and Bad

Think of all the whispers in Scripture—Jesus’ words on the cross (“I thirst!”), the hushed speech of the lovers in the Song of Songs, the whispered exchanged between Jesus and the Beloved Disciple at the Last Supper. Of course, whispering has its dark side. Gossipers speak in a whisper. Conspirators plot in secret. Whispers, which seem designed for lovers, can be perverted into the tools of betrayal.

An Inviting Tone

The power of the whisper lies not in its overpowering thump as with a loud shout, but in its enticing draw, its invitation to draw near and lean closer. One who whispers invites us to share his secrets, to become one with him in a private, shrouded space. In the same way that lovers seek the seclusion of a long walk in the woods or a conversation behind closed doors, away from the bustle of the world, so too do those who seek God seek a kind of seclusion, a secret space away from others where He can be communed with, whispered to. Jesus invites his followers to such a private communion when he tells them to go into their rooms, close their doors and pray to the Father who sees in secret (Matt 6:6). Intimacy with God does not thrive in bluster, bombast and bravado, but in beautiful simplicity, when the soul finally takes to heart the words of Psalm 46: “Be still and know that I am God.” The moments of deepest prayer are usually moments of quiet awe before the throne of God.

Elijah and the Whisper of God

While we come to him with whispers both intimate and desperate, he strikingly comes to us with whispers of his own. In this Sunday’s reading from 1 Kings, we find Elijah on Mount Horeb waiting for such a whispered revelation from God. The story delivers us a paradox: that God can be expected to do the unexpected. Amazingly and appropriately, Elijah journeys all the way to Horeb to encounter God. The mountain has two names: Horeb and Sinai. It is the place where Moses met God at the burning bush and where God appeared in thunder and lightning to hand down the Ten Commandments. Elijah returns to this special mountain of God’s past revelation to encounter him anew. He goes to a place where he can expect God to show up. But of course, God does not come in the expected fashion. He does not descend in thunder and lightning, nor in fire, nor wind, nor earthquake. This time, he does not shout.
Instead, God speaks to Elijah in a “still, small voice” a whisper. Elijah might have wanted a shout. He was on the run from Ahab and Jezebel who were using their political power to try and kill him. Even though Elijah had just won the showdown with the prophets of Baal, his life was in danger and there was no safe place for him to go. In his moment of desperation, he seeks out the Lord. In the end, the Lord speaks to him and gives him a mission to do.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Smile by Uncle Kracker

Monday, August 4, 2014

Catholicism: Amazed and Afraid

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Sissy's Song by Alan Jackson

This is a beautiful song and Alan Jackson gives a nice interview on who it is about. Below is the music to the song with American Sign Language. Very well done!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Scott Hahn: Food in Due Season

The following comes from Scott Hahn:


Isaiah 55:1-3
Psalm 145:8-915-18
Romans 8:35,37-39
Matthew 14:13-21

In Jesus and the Church, Isaiah’s promises in today’s First Reading are fulfilled. All who are thirsty come to the living waters of baptism (see John 4:14). The hungry delight in rich fare - given bread to eat and wine to drink at the Eucharistic table.
This is the point, too, of today’s Gospel. The story of Jesus’ feeding of the 5,000 brims with allusions to the Old Testament. Jesus is portrayed as a David-like shepherd who leads His flock to lie down on green grass as He spreads the table of the Messiah’s banquet before them (see Psalm 23).
Jesus is shown as a new Moses, who likewise feeds vast crowds in a deserted place. Finally, Jesus is shown doing what the prophet Elisha did - satisfying the hunger of the crowd with a few loaves and having some left over (see 2 Kings 4:42-44).
Matthew also wants us to see the feeding of the 5,000 as a sign of the Eucharist. Notice that Jesus performs the same actions in the same sequence as at the Last Supper - He takes bread, says a blessing, breaks it, and gives it (see Matthew 26:26).
Jesus instructed His apostles to celebrate the Eucharist in memory of Him. And the ministry of the Twelve is subtly stressed in today’s account. Before He performs the miracle, Jesus instructs the Twelve to give the crowd “some food yourselves.” Indeed, the apostles themselves distribute the bread blessed by Jesus (see Matthew 15:36).
And the leftovers are enough to fill precisely 12 baskets - corresponding to each of the apostles, the pillars of the Church (see Galatians 2:9Revelation 21:14).
In the Church, as we sing in today’s Psalm, God gives us food in due season, opens His hands and satisfies the desires of every living thing. Now, as Paul reminds us in today’s Epistle, nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.

Friday, August 1, 2014

How He Loves by David Crowder Band

He is jealous for me,
Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree,
Bending beneath the weight of his wind and mercy.
When all of a sudden,
I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory,
And I realise just how beautiful You are,
And how great Your affections are for me.

And oh, how He loves us so,
Oh how He loves us,
How He loves us all

Yeah, He loves us,
Oh! how He loves us,
Oh! how He loves us,
Oh! how He loves.

We are His portion and He is our prize,
Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes,
If grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking.
And Heaven meets earth like an unforseen kiss,
And my heart turns violently inside of my chest,
I don’t have time to maintain these regrets,
When I think about, the way…