Monday, September 29, 2014

Worn by Tenth Avenue North

Celebrating the Archangels: 7 things to know and share

The following comes from Jimmy Akin at NCR:

September 29th is the feast of St.s Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael—archangels.
These are the only three angels whose names are mentioned in Scripture, and this is their day.
Here are 7 things to know and share . . .
1) What is an archangel?
The word “archangel” (Greek, archangelos) means “high-ranking angel”—the same way that “archbishop” means a high-ranking bishop.
Only St. Michael is described as an archangel in Scripture (Jude 9), but it is common to honor St.s Gabriel and Raphael as archangels also.
2) Why are they called “saints” if they’re angels rather than humans?
The word “saint” (Greek, hagios) means “holy one.”
It does not mean “holy human being.” As a result, it can apply to holy ones that aren’t human.
Since St.s Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael all chose to side with God rather than the devil, they are holy angels and thus saints.
All angels that sided with God are saints, but these three’s names are known to us, and so they are picked out by name in the liturgy.
3) Does this day have any other names?
Yes. Traditionally in English it has also been called “Michaelmas” (i.e., the Mass that celebrates St. Michael, on the same principle that “Christmas” is the Mass that celebrates Christ’s birth).
4) What do we know about St. Michael?
His name means “Who is like God?” (The implied answer is: Nobody; God is the greatest there is.)
St. Michael is mentioned by name in three books of Scripture:
  • In Daniel, he is described as “one of the chief princes” in the heavenly hierarchy (Dan. 10:13). He is also described to Daniel as “your prince” (Dan. 10:12). The meaning of this phrase is later clarified, and Michael is described as “the great prince who has charge of your people” (Dan. 12:1). He is thus depicted as the guardian angel of Israel. These same passages also refer to Michael doing battle against the spiritual forces at work against Israel.
  • In Jude 9, Michael is said to have contended with the devil over the body of Moses. On this occasion, we are told, “he did not presume to pronounce a reviling judgment upon him, but said, ‘The Lord rebuke you.’”
  • In Revelation, Michael and his angels are depicted fighting the devil and casting them out of heaven (Rev. 12:7-8). He is also commonly identified as the angel who binds the devil and seals him in the bottomless pit for a thousand years (Rev. 20:1-3), though the name “Michael” is not given on this occasion.
5) What do we know about St. Gabriel?
His name means “God is my warrior” (meaning, essentially, “God is my defender”).
St. Gabriel is mentioned in two books of Scripture:
  • In Daniel, he is assigned to help Daniel understand the meaning of a vision he has seen (Dan. 8:16). Later, while Daniel is in a prolonged period of prayer, Gabriel comes to him (Dan. 9:21) and gives him the prophecy of “seventy weeks of years” concerning Israel’s future (Dan. 9:24-27).
  • In Luke, he appears to Zechariah the priest and announces the conception and birth of John the Baptist (Luke 1:13-19). Later, he appears to the Virgin Mary and announces the conception and birth of Jesus Christ (Luke 1:26-33).
6) What do we know about St. Raphael?
His name means “God heals.”
St. Raphael is mentioned in a single book of Scripture: Tobit.
In Tobit, the blind Tobit and the maid Sarah, whose seven husbands have been killed by the demon Asmodeus, pray to God.
The prayer of both was heard in the presence of the glory of the great God. And Raphael was sent to heal the two of them: to scale away the white films of Tobit’s eyes; to give Sarah the daughter of Raguel in marriage to Tobias the son of Tobit, and to bind Asmodeus the evil demon, because Tobias was entitled to possess her (Tob. 3:16-17).
Raphael thus becomes a travelling companion of Tobias, posing as a relative named Azarias son of Ananias (Tob. 5:12). He eventually binds the demon, enabling Tobias to safely marry Sarah, and provides the means for Tobit to be healed of his blindness.
Afterward, he reveals his true identity, saying:
I am Raphael, one of the seven holy angels who present the prayers of the saints and enter into the presence of the glory of the Holy One (Tob. 12:15).
7) How is this day celebrated?
In addition to its commemoration in the liturgy, there are various local ways of celebrating this day. See here for some examples.
See also here.
It might also be a good day to say the Prayer to St. Michael:
St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle.
Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray,
and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly hosts,
by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan, and all the evil spirits,
who prowl about the world
seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Saints Cosmos and Damian

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Changed by Rascal Flatts

Saint of the Day: Blessed Hermann of Reichenau

September 25 is the memorial of Blessed Hermann of Reichenau. He was also called Hermann the Cripple or Herman the Twisted. He was crippled by a paralytic disease from early childhood. He spent most of his life in the abbey of Reichenau, an island on Lake Constance. His story is an amazing one and is worth reading! The following article was written by Fr. Robert McNamara and was found at Irondequoit Catholic:

This Hermann was the son of an eleventh century Swabian count. But his noble blood did not keep him from being born terribly crippled. "Hermannus Contractus" was one name by which he was known: "Hermann the Twisted." He could scarcely move without the help of somebody else. For all that, he had a keen mind, and an iron will to make something of himself.

When Hermann was seven, his parents took him to the Benedictine monastery of Reichenau on Lake Constance. They arranged for him to be raised at the monastery and educated there. Was this a cop-out on the part of the parents? Not necessarily. Monasteries were often entrusted with the junior children of nobles. It was a good solution in the last analysis. The Abbot of the monastery, Berno, was an able and kindly educator.

Hermann struggled to learn to read and write, and eventually succeeded. From there he went on into wider and deeper studies. Professed as a monk of Reichenau in 1043 when he was thirty, he showed himself adept at Latin, Greek and Arabic. Mathematics also came easily, and he became noted for his writings on mathematical subjects. In the field of astronomy, he produced a treatise on the astrolabe, an instrument for determining the height of the sun. The breadth of his reading soon prompted him to write a historical chronicle of the world, admirable for its wisdom. A good student of theology, he could also produce works of spiritual depth. For a readership of nuns he wrote a discourse "On the Eight Principal Vices." It was cast in poetry, and he handled the versification particularly well. He also knew how to give serious matters a light touch. The treatise for nuns was witty, and he even began his world chronicle with a touch of self-depreciation: "Hermann, the rubbish of Christ's little ones, lagging behind the learners of philosophy more slowly than a donkey or a slug ... "

Because of his learning and because of his sweetness of character, Hermann became so noted a teacher that students from all over flocked to study under him at the monastery school.

Blessed Hermann of Reichenau's chief contribution to Catholic posterity was his hymns used in the liturgy. Two sequences of the Mass were certainly his compositions. Many also think that he was the author of two hymns of Mary. Of these, Alma Redemptoris Mater is less well known to most Catholics, although the familiar hymn, "Hail Bright Star of Ocean," is a translation of it. Very well known, of course, is the Salve Regina, which we recite at the end of each rosary: "Hail, holy Queen, Mother of Mercy," it begins, and it ends, "O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary." In this childlike anthem, the author has expressed a perennial Christian confidence in Our Lady.

In his own day, the heroic cripple who achieved learning and holiness was called "The Wonder of His Age."

In our day, many voices say that people with disabilities should be phased out of existence. Which were the Dark Ages, then or now?

To learn more about Blessed Hermann please check out the Patron Saints Index.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Come As You Are by David Crowder

Fr. Robert Barron: To Evangelize the Culture

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Fire and Muck: On the Sacrament of Reconciliation

The following comes from Dr. Tom Neal at Word on Fire:

I was reading an article recently that had a great quote in it describing the Eucharist as a “sacrificial ritual enacting a solemn marriage between the fallen muck of earth and fire falling from heaven.”
But I thought to myself, why limit this lovely expression to the Mass? Why not the other Sacraments? And, especially, why not the Sacrament of Reconciliation?
I mention that because right after I read that quote I went to Confession at a local parish and my experience was quite exceptional. I was challenged, consoled and filled with a deep sense of gratitude for God’s lavish and indulgent mercy and the priest’s humble service.
As I was praying my “penance” I was reminded of two Reconciliation memories.
I recalled speaking with a wonderful elderly priest who shared with me an experience he had in his later years while hearing confessions one Saturday. He said that while he was sitting in the confessional after a particularly powerful confession, and was praying in fervent gratitude, he had an earth-shaking encounter with Christ acting in him as the Bridegroom of the soul whose confession he had just heard. “Jesus made it clear to me that my humble ministry permitted him to reconcile with his estranged Bride, the Church, in the person of each penitent who entered my confessional. He made it clear that all of salvation history conspired to make present this sacrament so that God could be re-united in love with his covenanted yet fallen Bride. And my simple ministry of sitting in that room was part of his grand plan.”
That a seasoned priest could find in his later years, after thousands of confessions, such a fresh love for this ancient sacrament left a deep and abiding impression on me. I imagined that his youthful exuberance was a faint glimmer of God’s super-abundant joy over our smallest acts of repentant love.
Then I recalled a gentleman who returned to the Church after many years away. He had a gut-wrenching and heart-ripping experience in the confessional with an old monk that left him utterly changed (and to this day, years later, even more so). He described his confession this way: “It was like I was sinking in sewage and Jesus grabbed my hand and pulled me out. I’d never felt so clean in my life. After it was over, the monk said to me: now, the Lord has taken you to himself again, clothed you in white garments and re-lit the flame of faith that was blown out in your soul after your baptism. Now, keep it that way! It was like Jesus himself was talking to me!”
God conspired for a whole history in time to give us this reconciling Sacrament, like a bridegroom consumed by love for a bride who has spurned him; a Bridegroom who spares nothing to win her love back.
We Catholics really tend to domesticate our faith, but the truth is our Sacraments transact absolutely, totally, completely crazy stuff — stuff that could only have been dreamed up by (a la Catherine of Siena) Dio, pazzo d’Amore, God, the mad Lover.
Look for Him at your next Confession.

Padre Pio: Man of Miracles

Padre Pío de Pietrelcina is without a doubt one of the most renowned saints of modern time. A DVD gathers the testimonies of some people who were miraculously cured by this Italian Saint.

St. Padre Pio Remembered

The following comes from the CNA:

On Sept. 23, the Catholic Church remembers the Italian Franciscan priest St. Pio of Petrelcina, better known as “Padre Pio” and known for his suffering, humility and miracles.

The man later known by these names was originally named Francesco Forgione, born to his parents Grazio and Maria in 1887. His parents had seven children, two of whom died in infancy. They taught the five surviving children to live their faith through daily Mass, family prayer of the rosary, and regular acts of penance.

Francesco had already decided at a young age to dedicate his entire life to God. At age 10, he felt inspired by the example of a young Capuchin Franciscan, and told his parents: “I want to be a friar – with a beard.” Francesco’s father spent time in America, working to finance his son’s education so he could enter the religious life.

On Jan. 22, 1903, Francesco donned the Franciscan habit for the first time. He took the new name Pio, a modernized Italian form of “Pius,” in honor of Pope St. Pius V. He made his solemn vows four years later, and received priestly ordination in the summer of 1910. Shortly after, he first received the Stigmata – Christ’s wounds, present in his own flesh.

Along with these mystical but real wounds, Padre Pio also suffered health problems that forced him to live apart from his Franciscan community for the first six years of his priesthood. By 1916 he managed to re-enter community life at the Friary of San Giovanni Rotondo, where he lived until his death. He handled many duties as a spiritual director and teacher, covering for brothers drafted into World War I.

During 1917 and 1918, Padre Pio himself briefly served in a medical unit of the Italian army. He later offered himself as a spiritual “victim” for an end to the war, accepting suffering as a form of prayer for peace. Once again, he received the wounds of Christ on his body. They would remain with him for 50 years, through a succession of global conflicts.

Against his own wishes, the friar’s reputation for holiness, and attending miracles, began to attract huge crowds. Some Church officials, however, denounced the priest and had him banned from public ministry in 1931. Pope Pius XI ended the ban two years later, and his successor Pius XII encouraged pilgrimages to Padre Pio’s friary.

Known for patient suffering, fervent prayer, and compassionate spiritual guidance, Padre Pio also lent his efforts to the establishment of a major hospital, the “Home to Relieve Suffering.”

Padre Pio died in 1968, and was declared a saint in 2002. Three years after his death, Pope Paul VI marveled at his simple and holy life in an address to the Capuchin Order.

“A worldwide following gathered around him ... because he said Mass humbly, heard confessions from dawn to dusk and was – it is not easy to say it – one who bore the wounds of our Lord,” Pope Paul explained. “He was a man of prayer and suffering.”

Monday, September 22, 2014

Rich Mullins' Creed sung by Third Day and Brandon Heath

Third Day and Brandon Heath perform Rich Mullins "Creed" in the studio from Garrett Viggers on Vimeo.

Pope Francis: "Today we have touched martyrs"

The following comes from the Vatican News:

The Church which — 20 years ago, emerged from the winter bloodstained by persecution, and from the catacombs from which a dictatorial communist and ostensibly atheist regime compelled her — is marked by suffering, including that of two octogenarians. 
At the meeting with priests, religious and representatives of the lay world held on Sunday afternoon, 21 September in Tirana’s new Cathedral dedicated to St Paul, the testimony of Fr Ernest Simoni, 84, and Sr Marije Kaleta, 85, was the most touching moment of Pope Francis’ visit. The Pontiff was moved to tears at the end of the priest’s account. Tortured and condemned to death as an enemy of the people, Fr Ernest’s sentence was subsequently commuted to imprisonment. Of the very few survivors of the persecution, Fr Ernest, who spent 27 years in various concentration camps and in forced labour, is one of only two priests still living. “While imprisoned, I celebrated Mass in Latin by heart, as I secretly confessed and distributed communion”, he recalled.
With tears in his eyes, amid the unending applause of those present, everyone visibly moved, Francis helped the priest, who had knelt to kiss the Pontiff’s ring, back to his his feet, engaged him in a lengthy embrace and kissed the priest’s hand in turn. These moments of great intensity were then followed with Sr Marije’s account. After living for seven years in the convent of the Stigmatine Sisters, she was forced to profess her faith in hiding, without however, renouncing her testimony. The Pope embraced her for a long time as well. And immediately afterwards at the moment for his homily, a meditation during the recitation of vespers, he put aside his prepared text — the only time that day — to speak extemporaneously, as he was still so touched by their testimony. A reflection spoken from the heart, concluding with a validation: “Let us go home thinking: today we have touched martyrs”.

Msgr. Charles Pope: A Meditation on the Dramatic Battle in Which We Live

The following comes from Msgr. Charles Pope:

A grave deficiency of modern times is the loss of the sense that our lives are caught up in a tremendous, epic battle. And yet here we are living in the midst of a great drama—in the greatest story ever told.
Behind the scenes is a deadly enemy, one of whom many rarely speak: Satan. Yet he is active and involved, manipulating both the world and the flesh (our sinful nature). We are on the front lines of a fierce spiritual war, a war that is to blame for most of the casualties you see around you. Yes, fellow Christians, there is a dragon, the roaring lion—Satan—who seeks to devour our souls.
Ah! But there is also a Son, a Savior, who is born to us and whom we call Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace (cf Is 9:6). And He shall reign forever. His hand is outstretched, first on the cross, but now outstretched to you to save you and to draw you up out of the raging waters, to deliver you from the kingdom of darkness into the Kingdom of light!
Will you take hold of His hand, or not? This is the decision—your decision—in the great drama of your life and of every life; it is your chapter in the greatest story ever told.
Yes, the battle rages all around us and we are swept up in it! It’s happening in our world, our culture, our families, and in our hearts. The sequence hymn from Easter says dramatically of it,  Mors et vita duello; Conflixere Mirando (death and life at battle in a stupendous conflict)!
The Book of Joel vividly describes the great drama, not merely an eschatological battle, but a battle that is already around us in the decision we must make, in the war we must wage, with God’s grace, against the evil that is in and around us. It is a vivid and dramatic war and we must choose sides. And our decision will one day be revealed in the great judgment that is coming on this world.
Prepare war, stir up the mighty men! Let all the men of war draw near, let them come up. Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruning hooks into spears; let the weak say, “I am a warrior.” Hasten and come, all you nations round about, gather yourselves there. Bring down thy warriors, O LORD. Let the nations bestir themselves, and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat; for there I will sit to judge all the nations round about. Put in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Go in, tread, for the wine press is full. The vats overflow, for their wickedness is great.  Multitudes! Multitudes, in the valley of decision! For the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision (Joel 3:9-14).
Text after text in the Bible describes the awesome drama and the great decision we must make, a decision on which hinges our very destiny. Here are just a few:
  1. I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life, then, that you and your descendants may live, by loving the LORD, your God, obeying his voice, and holding fast to him. For that will mean life for you (Deut 30:19-20).
  2. Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is spoken against  (and a sword will pierce through your own heart also), that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed” (Lk 2:34-36).
  3. Jesus said to the unbelieving Jews, “You are from below, I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world. I have told you that you would die in your sins, for you will die in your sins unless you believe that I AM” (John 8:23-24).
  4. Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation (Matt 26:41).
  5. And he said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mk 16:15).
  6. For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand (Eph 6:12-14).
  7. I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another gospel, but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we preached to you, let him be accursed! (Gal 1:4)
  8. Be sober, be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith (1 Peter 1:8).
  9. A great sign appeared in the heavens, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars; she was with child and she cried out in her pangs of birth, in anguish for delivery. And another portent appeared in heavens; behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems upon his heads. His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven, and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to bear a child, that he might devour her child when she brought it forth; she brought forth a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne … And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth … Rejoice then, O heaven and you that dwell therein! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!” And when the dragon saw that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursued the woman who had borne the male child … The dragon was angry with the woman, and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and bear testimony to Jesus (Rev 12, selected verses).
  10. “Lo, I am coming like a thief! Blessed is he who is awake, keeping his garments that he may not go naked and be seen exposed!” And they assembled them at the place which is called in Hebrew Armageddon (Rev 16:15-16).
And so here we are in the Valley of Decision, in Hebrew, the Valley of Armageddon. Here is the drama of our life! Multitudes in the Valley of Decision! All of us have a decision to make, an army to join, a direction to choose! Tertium non datur (No third way is given). There are only two armies on the field of battle; there are no demilitarized zones, no sidelines. Choose an army! What will it be, light or darkness, grace or sin, Jesus or Beelzebub?
Yes, here is the immense drama in the greatest story ever told; it is our drama and our story.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

First and Last: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Sunday Readings

The following comes from Scott Hahn:

The house of Israel is the vine of God - who planted and watered it, preparing the Israelites to bear fruits of righteousness (see Isaiah 5:727:2-5).
Israel failed to yield good fruits and the Lord allowed His vineyard, Israel’s kingdom, to be overrun by conquerors (see Psalm 80:9-20). But God promised that one day He would replant His vineyard and its shoots would blossom to the ends of the earth (see Amos 9:15;Hosea 14:5-10).
This is the biblical backdrop to Jesus’ parable of salvation history in today’s Gospel. The landowner is God. The vineyard is the kingdom. The workers hired at dawn are the Israelites, to whom He first offered His covenant. Those hired later in the day are the Gentiles, the non-Israelites, who, until the coming of Christ, were strangers to the covenants of promise (see Ephesians 2:11-13). In the Lord’s great generosity, the same wages, the same blessings promised to the first-called, the Israelites, will be paid to those called last, the rest of the nations.
This provokes grumbling in today’s parable. Doesn’t the complaint of those first laborers sound like that of the older brother in Jesus’ prodigal son parable (see Luke 15:29-30)? God’s ways, however, are far from our ways, as we hear in today’s First Reading. And today’s readings should caution us against the temptation to resent God’s lavish mercy.
Like the Gentiles, many will be allowed to enter the kingdom late - after having spent most of their days idling in sin.
But even these can call upon Him and find Him near, as we sing in today’s Pslam. We should rejoice that God has compassion on all whom He has created. This should console us, too, especially if we have loved ones who remain far from the vineyard.
Our task is to continue laboring in His vineyard. As Paul says in today’s Epistle, let us conduct ourselves worthily, struggling to bring all men and women to the praise of His name.

Brother Roger: A Life That Is Beautiful

A Life That Is Beautiful from Taize on Vimeo.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

The Cross Is the Key to Understanding Life

A reflection by Fr. Richard Tomasek, SJ at Celebrating the Year of Faith:
“Were not our hearts on fire within us while He spoke to us on the way and opened the Scriptures to us?”  ( Luke 24:13-35).  The story of the two disciples returning to Emmaus, disillusioned and discouraged by the terrible execution of Jesus whom they thought was the Messiah sent to free Israel, is the story of each one of us.  We too often find ourselves defeated by life’s difficulties and questioning whether God cares or even exists.
In 1946 a Viennese psychiatrist by the name of Viktor Frankl wrote a little book called Man’s Search for Meaning.  By the time of his death in 1997, the book had sold over 10 million copies in 24 languages and was considered one of the ten most influential books ever published in the USA.  Frankl found himself in a Nazi concentration camp and observed that some prisoners withered away and died quickly whereas others carried on with relative strength.  By interviews and reflection, it became clear to him that the people who had the best chance of survival were whose who had a meaning, a purpose and a hope in their life.  Perhaps it was a burning desire to rejoin their family, or to finish a science project started, or to persevere in the strength of their religious faith.  From that, Frankl developed a school of psychotherapy called Logotherapy, based on the Greek word logos, which signifies word or meaning.  It is the same word used by the New Testament to name the Word of God, the second Person of the Divine Trinity, who became man for us in the womb of Mary. “And the Word became flesh…” (Jo 1:14).
In the Emmaus account in Luke’s Gospel, Jesus, the true Word of God, enlightens his disheartened followers by opening the Scriptures to them and showing them how his sacrificial death-victory were prophesied for hundreds of years in the writings of Moses and the prophets.  The key phrase is, “Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?”  The Cross is the key to understanding life.  Jesus himself pondered and prayed over the scriptural Word of God and found His vocation described in such passages as Deut 18:18 (he will be another Moses), Psalm 22 and Is 53 (by his sufferings and death we will be healed) or Psalm 2 (You are My son; you shall rule the nations).  Just as Jesus learns his identity and mission from praying over the Word of Scripture, so each of us must make a practice of reading and praying over the Scriptures in order to find God’s meaning for what is happening in our lives.   As with the disciples whom Jesus instructs “along the way,” our hearts too will be set on fire with understanding , hope and enthusiasm when we see God’s secret and unexpected ways for blessing and leading us.  And we too will run to tell others of our discovery just as the two disciples ran back to Jerusalem to share their new faith with the rest of the Church.
Another way to do this easily is to pray the Scriptures with Mary. Just to pray theMysteries of the Rosary is to see how God led her from one challenge to another, one surrender to another, all the way to sharing her Son’s bitter death and His glorious resurrection and outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost.  As we pray these Mysteries, Jesus the Word also teaches us and sets our hearts on fire, rejoicing to share His cross and resurrection in the concrete challenges and details of our own life.

Friday, September 19, 2014

St. Januarius and the Blood Miracle

Today is the feast of St. Januarius or San Gennaro. It is also the day of the blood miracle! Here is more from the site:

Yearly on the first weekend of May (on Saturday) and on the 19th September amazement spreads through Naples Cathedral. There one can marvel at how the blood of the beheaded San Gennaro liquifies in its ampoule.

The day of the blood miracle is an important feast for Naples and the people celebrate it accordingly. The Cathedral is surrounded by stalls selling sweets, cobs and all kinds of curiosities and kitsch...

Saint Gennaro was the bishop of Benevento and was beheaded during the persecution of Christians by Diocletian in 305. According to the legend a woman collected and kept some of the martyr’s blood in an ampoule, after he died. In 313 the miracle occurred for the first time, after the Saint’s skeleton and the ampoule with blood were brought to Naples. The skeleton was placed to rest in the catacomb together with the ampoule. In the 9th century the remains and blood of S. Gennaro were in a small chapel, next to the church, where in the 14th century the cathedral was built.

There are numerous records on the liquefaction of the blood, dating from times before 1649 when they officially started recording this miracle. One of the descriptions of the procession dates from the year 1389. According to writings in 1528 the blood miracle didn’t take place. This was the year the pest broke out and Naples didn’t receive its raise from France.

There are hundreds of records of the liquefaction dating from the 16th Century.

You can see another nice video here.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Pleiades and Orion by John Michael Talbot

John Michael Talbot - The Pleiades and Orion from scotchpie66 on Vimeo.

Another Miracle at Medjugorje?

The following comes from The Medjugorje Message:

An Italian woman named as Gigliola Candian claims that she was healed of multiple sclerosis at Medjugorje last Saturday. The 48-year-old from Fossò, near Venice, explained that she had been suffering with MS for the past 10 years and had been in a wheelchair since last year. “I had accepted my illness and I never asked Our Lady to cure me.” 

About the claimed cure Gigliola says, “I was praying with a group of people in church and Jesus spoke to my heart. He said, ‘Do your trust me?’ I said I did and he replied, ‘Then walk!’ I felt tingling and a great heat in my legs and then saw a bright light in front of me. From that moment I realised I could walk and got up.” 

Since returning home Gigliola says she continues to gain strength and make progress, and is now able to take short daily walks alone without the use of her wheelchair.

Hat tip to In God's Company 2!

A Quote from G.K. Chesterton

"Happiness is not only a hope, but also in some strange manner a memory ... we are all kings in exile."
G.K. Chesterton

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Struggle by Tenth Avenue North

Saint of the Day: Robert Bellarmine

The following comes from the Catholic Online site:

Born at Montepulciano, Italy, October 4, 1542, St. Robert Bellarmine was the third of ten children. His mother, Cinzia Cervini, a niece of Pope Marcellus II, was dedicated to almsgiving, prayer, meditation, fasting, and mortification of the body.

Robert entered the newly formed Society of Jesus in 1560 and after his ordination went on to teach at Louvain (1570-1576) where he became famous for his Latin sermons. In 1576, he was appointed to the chair of controversial theology at the Roman College, becoming Rector in 1592; he went on to become Provincial of Naples in 1594 and Cardinal in 1598.

This outstanding scholar and devoted servant of God defended the Apostolic See against the anti-clericals in Venice and against the political tenets of James I of England. He composed an exhaustive apologetic work against the prevailing heretics of his day. In the field of church-state relations, he took a position based on principles now regarded as fundamentally democratic - authority originates with God, but is vested in the people, who entrust it to fit rulers.

This saint was the spiritual father of St. Aloysius Gonzaga, helped St. Francis de Sales obtain formal approval of the Visitation Order, and in his prudence opposed severe action in the case of Galileo. He has left us a host of important writings, including works of devotion and instruction, as well as controversy. He died in 1621.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Saints of the day: Cornelius and Cyprian

The following comes from the American Catholic site:

Cyprian is important in the development of Christian thought and practice in the third century, especially in northern Africa.

Highly educated, a famous orator, he became a Christian as an adult. He distributed his goods to the poor, and amazed his fellow citizens by making a vow of chastity before his baptism. Within two years he had been ordained a priest and was chosen, against his will, as Bishop of Carthage (near modern Tunis).

Cyprian complained that the peace the Church had enjoyed had weakened the spirit of many Christians and had opened the door to converts who did not have the true spirit of faith. When the Decian persecution began, many Christians easily abandoned the Church. It was their reinstatement that caused the great controversies of the third century, and helped the Church progress in its understanding of the Sacrament of Penance.

Novatus, a priest who had opposed Cyprian's election, set himself up in Cyprian's absence (he had fled to a hiding place from which to direct the Church—bringing criticism on himself) and received back all apostates without imposing any canonical penance. Ultimately he was condemned. Cyprian held a middle course, holding that those who had actually sacrificed to idols could receive Communion only at death, whereas those who had only bought certificates saying they had sacrificed could be admitted after a more or less lengthy period of penance. Even this was relaxed during a new persecution.

During a plague in Carthage, he urged Christians to help everyone, including their enemies and persecutors.

A friend of Pope Cornelius, Cyprian opposed the following pope, Stephen. He and the other African bishops would not recognize the validity of baptism conferred by heretics and schismatics. This was not the universal view of the Church, but Cyprian was not intimidated even by Stephen's threat of excommunication.

He was exiled by the emperor and then recalled for trial. He refused to leave the city, insisting that his people should have the witness of his martyrdom.

Cyprian was a mixture of kindness and courage, vigor and steadiness. He was cheerful and serious, so that people did not know whether to love or respect him more. He waxed warm during the baptismal controversy; his feelings must have concerned him, for it was at this time that he wrote his treatise on patience. St. Augustine (August 28) remarks that Cyprian atoned for his anger by his glorious martyrdom.

The following comes from the Saints and Angels site:

Cornelius whose feast day is September 16th. A Roman priest, Cornelius was elected Pope to succeed Fabian in an election delayed fourteen months by Decius' persecution of the Christians. The main issue of his pontificate was the treatment to be accorded Christians who had been apostasized during the persecution. He condemned those confessors who were lax in not demanding penance of these Christians and supported St. Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage, against Novatus and his dupe, Felicissimus, whom he had set up as an antibishop to Cyprian, when Novatus came to Rome. On the other hand, he also denounced the Rigorists, headed by Novatian, a Roman priest, who declared that the Church could not pardon the lapsi (the lapsed Christians), and declared himself Pope - the first antipope. The two extremes eventually joined forces, and the Novatian movement had quite a vogue in the East. Meanwhile, Cornelius proclaimed that the Church had the authority and the power to forgive repentant lapsi and could readmit them to the sacraments and the Church after they had performed proper penances. A synod of Western bishops in Rome in October 251 upheld Cornelius, condemned the teachings of Novatian, and excommunicated him and his followers. When persecutions of the Christians started up again in 253 under Emperor Gallus, Cornelius was exiled to Centum Cellae (Civita Vecchia), where he died a martyr probably of hardships he was forced to endure.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Ready For The Storm by Rich Mullins

Triumph of the Cross

Today is the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross or Triumph of the Cross. The following comes from the Women of Faith and Family site:

On the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross (or Triumph of the Cross) we honor the Holy Cross by which Christ redeemed the world. The public veneration of the Cross of Christ originated in the fourth century, according to early accounts, beginning with the miraculous discovery of the cross on September 14, 326, by Saint Helen, mother of Constantine, while she was on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem -- the same day that two churches built at the site of Calvary by Constantine were dedicated.

The observance of the Feast of the Exaltation (probably from a Greek word meaning "bringing to light") of the Cross has been celebrated by Christians on September 14 ever since. In the Western Church, the feast came into prominence in the seventh century, apparently inspired by the recovery of a portion of the Cross, said to have been taken from Jerusalem the Persians, by the Roman emperor Heraclius in 629.

Christians "exalt" the Cross of Christ as the instrument of our salvation. Adoration of the Cross is, thus, adoration of Jesus Christ, the God Man, who suffered and died on this Roman instrument of torture for our redemption from sin and death. The cross represents the One Sacrifice by which Jesus, obedient even unto death, accomplished our salvation. The cross is a symbolic summary of the Passion, Crucifixion and Resurrection of Christ -- all in one image.

The Cross -- because of what it represents -- is the most potent and universal symbol of the Christian faith. It has inspired both liturgical and private devotions: for example, the Sign of the Cross, which is an invocation of the Holy Trinity; the "little" Sign of the Cross on head, lips and heart at the reading of the Gospel; praying the Stations (or Way) of the Cross; and the Veneration of the Cross by the faithful on Good Friday by kissing the feet of the image of Our Savior crucified.

Placing a crucifix (the cross with an image of Christ's body upon it) in churches and homes, in classrooms of Catholic schools and in other Catholic institutions, or wearing this image on our persons, is a constant reminder -- and witness -- of Christ's ultimate triumph, His victory over sin and death through His suffering and dying on the Cross.

We remember Our Lord's words, "He who does not take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for my sake shall find it." (Mt 10:38,39). Meditating on these words we unite ourselves -- our souls and bodies -- with His obedience and His sacrifice; and we rejoice in this inestimable gift through which we have the hope of salvation and the glory.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Saint of the day: John Chrysostom

The following comes from Communio:

Today’s saint of the Eastern Church, Saint John Chrysostom (c. 347-407), a fourth century bishop and Doctor of the Church, known as an eloquent speaker and teacher of the faith hence beings nicknamed the golden tongue of the faith. His homilies, as you will note below, are insightful. Because of the tensions with the political leaders John was exiled several times and ultimately died of exhaustion. Among the churches, Saint John has four different feast days.
One his meditations on the Gospel of Matthew found in the Office of Readings follows:
Would you honor the body of Christ? Do not despise his nakedness; do not honor him here in church clothed in silk vestments and then pass him by unclothed and frozen outside. Remember that he who said, ‘This is my Body’, and made good his words, also said, ‘You saw me hungry and gave me no food’, and, ‘in so far as you did it not to one of these, you did it not to me’. In the first sense the body of Christ does not need clothing but worship from a pure heart. In the second sense it does need clothing and all the care we can give it.
We must learn to be discerning Christians and to honor Christ in the way in which he wants to be honored. It is only right that honor given to anyone should take the form most acceptable to the recipient not to the giver. Peter thought he was honoring the Lord when he tried to stop him washing his feet, but this was far from being genuine homage. So give God the honor he asks for, that is give your money generously to the poor. God has no need of golden vessels but of golden hearts.
I am not saying you should not give golden altar vessels and so on, but I am insisting that nothing can take the place of almsgiving. The Lord will not refuse to accept the first kind of gift but he prefers the second, and quite naturally, because in the first case only the donor benefits, in the second case the poor gets the benefit. The gift of a chalice may be ostentatious; almsgiving is pure benevolence.
What is the use of loading Christ’s table with gold cups while he himself is starving? Feed the hungry and then if you have any money left over, spend it on the altar table. Will you make a cup of gold and without a cup of water? What use is it to adorn the altar with cloth of gold hangings and deny Christ a coat for his back! What would that profit you? Tell me: if you saw someone starving and refused to give him any food but instead spent your money on adorning the altar with gold, would he thank you? Would he not rather be outraged? Or if you saw someone in rags and stiff with cold and then did not give him clothing but set up golden columns in his honor, would he not say that he was being made a fool of and insulted?
Consider that Christ is that tramp who comes in need of a night’s lodging. You turn him away and then start laying rugs on the floor, draping the walls, hanging lamps on silver chains on the columns. Meanwhile the tramp is locked up in prison and you never give him a glance. Well again I am not condemning munificence in these matters. Make your house beautiful by all means but also look after the poor, or rather look after the poor first. No one was ever condemned for not adorning his house, but those who neglect the poor were threatened with hellfire for all eternity and a life of torment with devils. Adorn your house if you will, but do not forget your brother in distress. He is a temple of infinitely greater value.

Braveheart: Giving Your Life To Something Greater

Friday, September 12, 2014

Jesus Painting by David Garibaldi

David Garibaldi: Jesus Painting from Thriving Churches on Vimeo.

Nada Te Turbe - A Virtual Choir of Carmelites

Catholic Answers: Is purgatory a physical place?

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The House I Live In by Frank Sinatra

Ronald Reagan: A Soldiers Pledge

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

I Can Only Imagine by MercyMe

Pope Francis: Mercy is a Gospel Essential

(Vatican Radio) Mother Church teaches us works mercy are essential for our salvation, said Pope Francis at his general audience on Wednesday , but “it is not enough to do good to those who do good to us. To change the world for the better we must do good to those who are unable to reciprocate, as the Father did with us, in giving us Jesus".

And once again he had a special thought for the persecuted Christians of the Middle East. In his greeting to Arabic speaking pilgrims and in particular to those from Syria and Iraq, Francis said that "the Church, following the example of his Master, is a teacher of mercy: She faces hatred with love, defeats violence with forgiveness; responds to weapons with prayer! May the Lord reward your fidelity, instill courage in your fight against the forces of evil and open the eyes of those who are blinded by evil, so they may soon see the light of truth and repent for their mistakes. May the Lord bless you and protect you always”.

Speaking to the thousands of pilgrims who crowded St Peter’s Square for the appointment, the Pope said the Church does not teach us about mercy through theoretic lectures but through the actions of the saints who have visited those in prison, of mothers who teach their children to share what they have with those in need, through women like Blessed Teresa of Calcutta who held the hand of the abandoned so they would not die alone. “This is how the Mother Church teaches her children the works of mercy. She has learned this path from Jesus, she learned that this is essential for salvation”.

The Pope was continuing his catechesis on our Mother Church. "In our previous catechesis, we reflected on the Church as a Mother who nurtures us in the faith, guides us on the way of salvation, and protects us from evil. Today, I wish to reflect on the Church as a Mother who teaches us the works of mercy".

"A good teacher does not get lost in the details, but points to what is essential so that the child or student can find meaning and joy in life. It is the truth. For the Gospel, what is essential is mercy God sent his Son, God became man to save us, that is, to give us His mercy. Jesus clearly says, summing up His teaching to His disciples: "Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful" (Lk 6:36). Can there be a Christian who is not merciful? No. The Christian must necessarily be merciful, because this is the heart of the Gospel. And true to this teaching, the Church can only repeat the same thing to her children: "Be merciful," as the Father is, and as Jesus was. Mercy”.

He continued: "And so the Church acts like Jesus. She does not give lectures on love, on mercy. She does not spread a philosophy, a path of wisdom throughout the world. ... Of course, Christianity is all this, but as a consequence, in reflection. The Mother Church, like Jesus, teaches by example, and uses words to illuminate the meaning of her gestures. The Mother Church teaches us to give food and drink to the hungry and thirsty, to clothe the naked. And how does she do this? With the example of many saints who have done this in an exemplary manner; but she also does so with the example of so many mothers and fathers who teach their children that they must give what they do not need to those who lack even the basic necessities. It is important to know this. Even in the simplest of Christian families rule of hospitality has always been held sacred: may there always be a place at the table and a spare bed for those who need it".

Moving from his scripted speech, the Pope added: "Once a mother told me, in the other dioceses, that she wanted to teach this to her children and told them to help and give food to the hungry. She had three. And one day at lunch – the father was out at work, she was with her three children, little ones, 7,5,4 years or so – and there was a knock on the door and a gentleman was there who asked to eat, and the mother said: ‘Wait a minute'. And she went back in and told her children: 'There is a gentleman out there who is asking for something to eat, what should we do? '-'Give him some, Mom, give him some! '. Each of the children has a steak and fries on their plate: 'Very well, each of you take half of your dinner and give it to him'- ‘Ah, no, Mom, that’s not fair!'-'That’s the way it is you have to give him what you have’. And so this mother taught their children to give of their own food. This is a fine example that has helped me so much. 'But, I haven’t got any extra – ‘No you have to give some of what you have! '. This is what Mother Church teaches us. And you, all of you mothers here today you know what you have to do so that your children learn to share their things with those in need”.

Some Hard Spiritual Truths That Will Set You Free

The following comes from Msgr. Charles Pope:

I have written before on Five Hard Truths That Will Set You Free. In this post I would like to ponder Some Hard Spiritual truths that will set us free.
In calling them “hard truths,” I mean that they are not the usual cozy bromides that many seek. They speak bluntly about the more irksome and difficult realities we confront. But, if we come to accept them, they have a strange way of bringing serenity by getting us focused on the right things, instead of chasing after false dreams.
For it sometimes happens that a person can spend his whole life being resentful that life isn’t peachy, forgetting all the while that we are in exile, that we are making a hard journey, we pray,  to a life where, one day,  every sorrow and difficultly is removed, and death and sorrow are no more. But not now.
There is a kind of unexpected serenity in living in the world as it is, rather thanresenting the world for not being what we want it to be. For now, the journey is hard and we have to be sober about our obtuse desires and destructive tendencies. And that is why there is a value in calling these insights, “hard truths that will set us free.”
In the very opening section of his Spiritual Canticle, St. John of the Cross lays out a presumed worldview that the spiritually mature ought to have attained. And because he presumes it of his reader, he states it only briefly.
Yet, for us who live in times not known for spiritual maturity, we ought to slow down for a moment and ponder these truths which are not only poorly understood, but even actively resisted today by many who call themselves wise and spiritually mature.
Remember now, these are hard truths, and many today wish to bypass the harder teachings of God. Thus we do well to pay special attention to a Spiritual Master who is deeply immersed in Scripture, as a remedy for the soft excesses of our modern times.
Lets first look at the quote from St. John and then, by way of a list, examine his points. With this preamble of sorts, St. John begins his Spiritual Canticle:
The soul… has grown aware of her obligations and observed that life is short (Job 14:5), the path leading to eternal life constricted (Mt. 7:14), the just one scarcely saved (1 Pet. 4:18), the things of the world vain and deceitful (Eccles. 1:2), that all comes to an end and fails like falling water (2 Sam. 14:14), and that the time is uncertain, the accounting strict, perdition very easy, and salvation very difficult. She knows on the other hand of her immense indebtedness to God for having created her solely for Himself, and that for this she owes Him the service of her whole life; and because He redeemed her solely for Himself she owes Him every response of love. She knows, too, of the thousand other benefits by which she has been obligated to God from before the time of her birth, and that a good part of her life has vanished, that she must render an account of everything – of the beginning of her life as well as the later part – unto the last penny (Mt. 5:25) when God will search Jerusalem with lighted candles (Zeph. 1:12), and that it is already late – and the day far spent (Lk. 24:29) – to remedy so much evil and harm. She feels on the other hand that God is angry and hidden because she desired to forget Him so in the midst of creatures, Touched with dread and interior sorrow of heart over so much loss and danger, renouncing all things, leaving aside all business, and not delaying a day or an hour, with desires and sighs pouring from her heart, wounded now with the love for God, she begins to call her Beloved…
Let us look at these hard but freeing spiritual insights one by one.
The soul has grown aware of her obligations and observed
1. That life is short (Job 14:5).
More than any other age we entertain the illusion that death can be easily postponed. It cannot be. We are not guaranteed the next beat of our heart, let alone tomorrow! It is true that with advances in medical science, sudden death from lesser causes it not as frequent today. But too easily this leads us to entertain the notion that we can cheat death. We cannot.
Life remains short, and we do not get to choose when we will die. Both my mother, and sister died on a sudden, were swept away in an instant. They never got to say goodbye. You do not know if you will even finish this sentence before or article before death summons you.
This is wisdom. It is a hard truth that gives us an important perspective. Life is short and you don’t have a calendar to know how short.
What are you doing to get ready to meet God? What are you getting worked up about and what are not concerned about? Are your priorities rooted in the truth that life is short? Or are you waging bets in a foolish game where the house (death and this world) always wins on its terms and not yours?
There is a strange serenity and freedom in realizing that life is short. We do not get as worked up about passing things, and we become more invested in lasting things, and the things to come.
2. The path leading to eternal life constricted (Mt. 7:14) 
Another illusion we entertain today is that salvation is a cinch, that it is a done deal. The “heresy” of our time is a kind of universal salvation that denies the consistently repeated biblical teach which declares: Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. (Matt 7:13-14 inter al).
In parable after parable, warning after warning, Jesus speaks with sober admonition about the reality of hell and the closing reality of judgment. No one loves you more than Jesus, and no warned you about Hell and Judgment more than Jesus.
Salvation is not easy, it is hard. Jesus said this, not me. This is not because God is mean, it is because we are stubborn, obtuse and prefer the darkness to light. We need to sober up about our stubbornness and our tendencies to prefer “other arrangements” to what God offers and teaches. In the end, God will respect our choice and there comes a day when our choice for or against the Kingdom and its values will be sealed forever.
This is a hard saying, but it sets us free from the awful sin of presumption, a sin against hope and instills in us a proper priority for the work that is necessary to root us in God. Accepting this hard truth will free you from silly and baseless presumption. It will make you more serious about your spiritual life and aware of the need for prayer, sacraments, Scripture and the Church. It will help you have better priorities that are less obsessed with passing worldly things and people, and be more rooted in what it eternal. It will make you more evangelical and urgent to save souls. It will turn you to Jesus and away from Belial and passing pathetic worldly things.
3. That the just one scarcely saved (1 Pet. 4:18) 
Here is a further truth that sets aside modern errors about an almost universal salvation. The fuller context of the quote is this: For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And, “If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” (1 Peter 4:17-18)
And yet, despite this and many other quotes and teachings like it, we go one presuming that almost everyone will go to heaven. We set aside God’s Word, for human errors and wishful thinking. We substitute human assurances for God’s warnings. We elevate ourselves over St. Paul who said that we should work out our salvation in fear and trembling (Phil 2:12) and spoke of disciplining himself, lest, after preaching to others, he should be lost (1 Cor 9:27). Are we better and more enlightened that Jesus? Than Paul, Than Peter?
Salvation is hard. This is not meant to panic us, but it is meant to sober us to the need for prayer, Sacraments, Scripture and the Church. Without these medicines we don’t stand a chance. And we must persevere to the end.
This hard truth sets us free from illusion and sends us running to the Lord who alone can save us. Smug presumption roots us in the world, Godly fear and sober awareness of our stubborn and unrepentant hearts sends us to Jesus and this frees us.
4. The things of the world vain and deceitful (Eccles. 1:2)
Such a freeing truth. First that the things of this world are vain. That is to say, they are empty, passing, and vapid. We so exult power, popularity, and worldly glories. But they are gone in a moment. Who was Miss America in 1974? Who won the Heisman Trophy in that same year? If you know, do you really care and does it really matter? Empty show, glitter and fools gold, yet we spend billions and watch this stuff forever.
And even though we should fight for justice, for the sake of the kingdom, even here the Scriptures counsel some perspective: I have seen a wicked, ruthless man, spreading himself like a green laurel tree. But he passed away, and behold, he was no more; though I sought him, he could not be found. (Ps 37:35-36).
And how deceitful is this passing world.! The main deceit of this world is to say, “I am what you exist for, I am what matters, I am what satisfies.” Lies and deceptions on all counts. The form of this world is passing away. It cannot supply our infinite desires. Our hearts were made for God, and only being with him one day will satisfy.
Yet so easily do we listen to the world’s seduction and lies. Too often we want to be lied to and prefer to chase illusions, vanity and indulge deceit.
How freeing this truth is, if we can lay hold of it. We learn to make use of what we need, but begin to lose our obsession with vain and passing things, and our insatiable desire for more. Yes, perhaps you can live without that granite counter top.
This is a very freeing truth if we can accept its hard reality. And becoming more free a deeper serenity finds us.
5. That all comes to an end and fails like falling water (2 Sam. 14:14)
The world is passing away. It can’t secure your future. The world cruel lies that it can supply you is on display in every graveyard. So much for the world’s empty promises: “You can have it all!” Yes, and then you die.
Meditate on death often. Indeed, every night the Church bids us to rehearse our death in night prayer by the reciting of the Nunc Dimittis.
Scripture says, For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come (Heb 13:14). Do you have your sights fixed where true joys are? Or are you like Lot’s wife?
Let this truth free you to have proper perspective. Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God (Col 3:1).
6. And that the time is uncertain. 
You got plans for tomorrow? Great, so do I. Only problem, tomorrow is not promised or certain. Neither is the next beat of your heart. Another hard, but freeing truth.
7. The accounting strict -
Jesus warns,  But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken (Matt 12:36). St. Paul says, He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart (1 Cor 4:5). And adds, So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad (2 Cor 5:9-10). And James chillingly says, So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty. For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy (James 2:12-13) What he says is chilling since so many are without mercy today.
If God judges us with the same strict justice we often dish out, we don’t stand a chance. The accounting will be strict, so don’t pile on with unnecessary severity and wrath toward others.
Here is another freeing truth that helps us take heed of the coming judgement.
8. Perdition very easy - I wonder why he might have repeated this? I just wonder….!
9. And salvation very difficult - Hmm… look he repeated this too! I wonder why? Maybe repetition is the mother of studies.
10. [That we are often and strangely ungrateful and unmoved] She knows on the other hand of her immense indebtedness to God for having created her solely for Himself, and that for this she owes Him the service of her whole life; and because He redeemed her solely for Himself she owes Him every response of love. She knows, too, of the thousand other benefits by which she has been obligated to God from before the time of her birth, and that a good part of her life has vanished,
Here is a sober truth that calls us to remember. What does it mean to remember? To remember means to have present in your mind and heart what the Lord has done for you so that you are grateful and different. 
And yet we live so many years and hours of the day in ingratitude. We get all worked up resentful about the smallest setbacks, and almost totally ignore the trillions of blessings each day.
In a sense our ingratitude is obnoxiously massive because of the easy manner with which we mindlessly receive and discount incredibly numerous blessings, and magnify every suffering setback or trial. So much of our life passes in the complaint department. And so commonly we are stingy with even a simple “Thank you Lord, for all your obvious and hidden blessings, thank you Lord for creating, sustaining and loving me to the end, and for inviting me to know, Love and serve you.“
11. That she must render an account of everything – of the beginning of her life as well as the later part – unto the last penny (Mt. 5:25) when God will search Jerusalem with lighted candles (Zeph. 1:12) - Did he repeat himself again? Now why do you suppose he does that?! You don’t think he considers us stubborn, do you?
12. and that it is already late – and the day far spent (Lk. 24:29) – to remedy so much evil and harm. Repetitio mater studiorum
13. [That the unrepentant will experience the wrath to come] – She feels on the other hand that God is angry and hidden because she desired to forget Him so in the midst of creatures,
The wrath of God is really in us, not in God. It is our experience of discomfort before the holiness of God. It is like being used to a dark room, and suddenly being brought into the bright afternoon sunlight. We protest and say the light is harsh. But the light is not harsh. We are incapable of tolerating the light due to our preference for and acclamation to the dark. In the same way God is not  “mad” He is not moody or harsh. He is God. And God does not change.
Thus St. John teaches here, the hard but freeing truth that God is holy and no one is going to walk into his presence unprepared. If we prefer the world and its creatures to the Creator, we thereby prefer the darkness and cannot tolerate the light. Heaven is simply not possible for those who prefer the darkness. And thus Jesus says, And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil (John 3:19) – That’s right, just three verses after John 3:16
And while the sinful soul may “feel” that God is angry and hiding himself, the problem is in the sinful soul, not God.
The freedom of this hard saying comes in reminding us, and urging us to get ready to meet God. He is not going to change. He can’t change. So we have to change, and by his grace, become the light of his holiness.
14. [We Need to Call on the Savior] - Touched with dread and interior sorrow of heart over so much loss and danger, renouncing all things, leaving aside all business, and not delaying a day or an hour, with desires and sighs pouring from her heart, wounded now with the love for God, she begins to call her Beloved
And yes, here is the real point of all these hard truths: to make us love our savior more, learn to depend on him, and run to him as fast as we can. Only when we know the hard truths are we really going to be all that serious.
After all, who goes to the doctor? One who is convinced he has no cancer (even though he does). Or the one who knows he’s got it bad and that ain’t good? The answer is self evident.
Bad sadly the answer is self-evident enough to this current generation where, even in the Church, there are so many who don’t want to discuss any of the hard and sober truths we need to lay hold of before we get serious.
A steady diet of “God loves you and all is well, no matter what…” has emptied our pews. Why? Well, who goes to the spiritual hospital if all they hear is that nothing is wrong and that their salvation is secure, almost no matter what?
The good news of the gospel has little impact when the bad news is no longer understood. What does salvation mean if there is no sin and nothing to be saved from? Now of course the bad news should not be preached without pointing to the good news. But the point is that both are needed.
Thus, St. John’s hard truths are not meant to discourage. They are meant to sober us and send us running to the doctor.
Now look,  you’ve got it bad and that ain’t good. But the Good news is, there is a doctor in the house. Run to him now, he’s calling you!