Keep your eyes open!...


April 28, 2016  

(2Co 12:9-10) And he said to me: My grace is sufficient for thee: for power is made perfect in infirmity. Gladly therefore will I glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may dwell in me. For which cause I please myself in my infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ. For when I am weak, then am I powerful.

NATIONAL CATHOLIC REGISTER: 21 Things St. Louis de Montfort Said About the Rosary and Marian Devotion

CNA: Short Bio Saint Louis-Marie de Monfort

CATHOLIC HERALD: Louis de Montfort, a saint whose life was the stuff of Hollywood

A MOMENT WITH MARY: How to recite the Rosary properly

Since faith is the only key which opens up these mysteries for us, we must begin the Rosary by saying the Creed very devoutly, and the stronger our faith the more merit our Rosary will have.

This faith must be lively and informed by charity; in other words, to recite the Rosary properly it is necessary to be in God's grace, or at least seeking it.

This faith must be strong and constant, that is, one must not be looking for sensible devotion and spiritual consolation in the recitation of the Rosary; nor should one give it up because the mind is flooded with countless involuntary distractions, or because one experiences a strange distaste in the soul or an almost continual and oppressive fatigue of the body.

Neither feelings, nor consolation, nor sighs, nor transports, nor the continual attention of the imagination are needed; faith and good intentions are quite enough.

Saint Louis Marie de Montfort
In The Secret of the Rosary, §35

From Montfort’s Writings: (Hymn 11: 36-37, 33)

You desire then, Jesus my master,
That I be with you on the cross.
I am content, deign to place me there,
It is for me too much honour by far.
In putting me there, give me your grace
And keep me there by your might,
That I may walk in your footsteps
In suffering most gladly.
I am a poorly polished stone,
Crude and without adornment,
Shape it, Lord, I beg you,
To set it in your building.
I want to suffer in patience,
Cut, shape, strike, slice,
But help my helplessness
And forgive me my sins.
This amazing grace,
This joy in affliction,
We obtain through prayer
We make with humility.
To obtain it, let us pray to Mary;
Through her sorrow-pierced heart
She bestows life
And even the cross of the Lord.

MORE: Collected Writings of St. Louis Marie de Montfort

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 5- "On painstaking and true repentance"

2. Gather together and come near, all you who have angered God; come and listen to what I expound to you; assemble and see what He has revealed to my soul for your edification. Let us give first place and first honour to the story of the dishonoured yet honoured workers. Let all of us who have suffered an unexpected and inglorious fall listen, watch and act. Rise and be seated, you who through your falls are lying prostrate. Attend, my brothers, attend to my word. Incline your ears, you who wish to be reconciled afresh with God by a true conversion.

April 27, 2016  

(Gen 16:10-12) And again he said: I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, and it shall not be numbered for multitude. And again: Behold, said he, thou art with child, and thou shalt bring forth a son: and thou shalt call his name Ismael, because the Lord hath heard thy affliction. He shall be a wild man: his hand will be against all men, and all men's hands against him: and he shall pitch his tents over against all his brethren.

POPE FRANCIS: I am always concerned about the brother bishops, priests and religious, Catholic and Orthodox, seized a long time ago in Syria. May the merciful God touch the hearts of the kidnappers and grant that our brothers and sisters will be freed as soon as possible and allowed to return to their communities. This is why I call you all to pray, not to mention other people abducted in the world.


OPINION: To Sabotage the Future, Lie About the Past

: The Biggest News Story Never Told

What’s the biggest news story of our time? What has been the biggest story for the last decade and one-half?

Answer: the resurgence of Islam, and, in particular, the rapid spread of Islamic jihad.

But, with a few exceptions, you would never know it from reading the Catholic press. If you look through the list of titles published by Catholic book publishers, you will find few, if any, books on Islam. There may be a title or two about the Crusades, but if you search the “current events” lists of most Catholic book publishers, you will come up empty. Books dealing with the biggest story of our time are conspicuous by their absence.

How about Catholic magazines and newspapers? Surely, they are telling the story of what’s happening now? Well, yes, they are, but in a strangely truncated way. The Catholic media carry reports on the latest atrocities perpetrated by ISIS, Boko Haram, and the Taliban, but if you turn to the commentary or opinion section of your favorite Catholic periodical, the pickings are slim. For the last 15 years (using 9/11 as a base point), Catholic media have been almost completely devoid of analysis on Islamic terrorism.

We are told what is happening, but almost no one ventures to say why it is happening. Catholic periodicals tend to treat Islamic jihad against Christians and others as though it were some kind of natural disaster—not unlike a typhoon or a tsunami. Like a storm or an earthquake, jihad is presented as a random event that unaccountably strikes here rather than there. And, as with a natural disaster, the reporting tends to focus on relief efforts: we may not know how to prevent the storm of jihad, but we feel an obligation to do all we can to bring attention to the plight of its victims.

Moreover, as with a natural disaster, the jihad is only noted when it erupts in some spectacular form. It is not treated as an ongoing problem which has its source in a particular ideology which can be analyzed, criticized, and defended against. Consequently, there is a lacuna of serious and sustained comment on what is, arguably, the most important story of the twenty-first century.......

This new war is particularly insidious because much of it is being fought as a culture war. While focusing on the hot war of battlefield jihad, we tend to ignore the cold war of cultural jihad. Yet, at least in the West, it is the main front. And, ironically, the stealth jihadists have built on the victories of the secular and leftist culture warriors. For example, they benefit from the rules of political correctness laid down by their counterparts on the left. Thus, any attempt at analyzing or explaining Islam from a non-Islamic perspective is met with cries of “bigotry” and “Islamophobia.”

One of the chief aims of the Islamist culture warriors is to convince us that we must not draw any connection between violent jihad and Islam, and they have been remarkably successful in doing so. It now appears that the Bush administration was the victim of just such an influence operation by the Saudis and the Muslim Brotherhood.   The “tiny minority of extremists,” we were assured, had nothing to do with Islam, because, as President Bush took pains to instruct us on numerous occasions, “Islam” mean “peace.” But if President Bush was taken in, the Obama administration seems to have been all in from the start. Cultural jihadists were appointed to important government positions, and stealth jihad organizations such as CAIR, ISNA, and MAS were given virtual veto power over national security initiatives.

What concerns us here, however, is that the Catholic leadership seems to have been subjected to a similar influence operation. In particular, the USCCB’s ongoing friendly dialogues with ISNA may have compromised the bishops’ ability to look objectively at the Islamic problem. Many bishops here and also in Europe now subscribe to the proposition that violence has nothing to do with Islam—which is exactly what the cultural jihadists want them to believe. Not that the bishops needed much convincing. They were already predisposed by Nostra Aetate’s “opening to Islam” to think positive thoughts about the Muslim faith.

The Catholic media’s reluctance to examine the “why” of Islamic violence is in large part a reluctance to depart from the Church’s semi-official narrative about Islam—namely, that Islam shares much in common with Catholicism and that therefore Islamic violence can have nothing to do with Islam itself. Just as secular commentators tend to work within the narrative framework of the news organizations for which they work, so do Catholic journalists endeavor to operate within the bounds set by Church doctrine.

That makes sense when commenting on issues of faith and morals—issues on which the Church does speak with authority. It makes less sense, however, when it comes to analyzing the beliefs, practices, and values of another faith. This is a subject about which the Church, by necessity, speaks with less authority. It is also a subject on which the views of past saints and popes differ markedly from those of today’s Church leaders. It follows that Catholic writers should have more latitude when discussing Islam than when writing about, say, the nature of Christian marriage. Instead, Catholic journalists tend to limit themselves to repeating whatever the bishops are saying about Islam—which, in turn, is usually just an echo of what secular leaders say. So, when Catholics try their hand at explaining jihad, they tend to explain it in terms of poverty, oppression, ignorance, and even climate change. To the extent that Catholic journalists acknowledge the religious motivation for jihad, they hasten to add the politically correct caveat that jihad is a “perversion” of the Islamic faith.

Perhaps the reason that Catholic journalists, reporters, and bloggers have very little to say about Islam is because the Church also has very little to say on the subject. As it turns out, the foundations of the current Catholic narrative about Islam are built on a narrow base. The three main sources of the narrative are the Catholic Catechism and portions of Lumen Gentium and Nostra Aetate. If you add up the totality of what these documents say about Islam and Muslims, it amounts to little more than one-thirds of a page (even less when you consider that the Catechism merely repeats the short statement in Lumen Gentium).

The Vatican II statements on Islam seem to have been intended more as a gesture of interreligious outreach than as a precise theological formulation. After listing some commonalities between Christians and Muslims, Nostra Aetate issues a plea that Christians and Muslims “forget the past,” “work sincerely for mutual understanding,” and promote… “social justice and moral welfare, as well as peace and freedom.” The primary intention of the synod fathers was not to inform Catholics about Islam, but to assure Muslims of our friendship and our desire to get to know them better. In short, Nostra Aetate’s discussion of the Church’s relationship with the Muslims is only the beginning of a discussion that is meant to be continued. But there has never really been any continuation—not in the sense of any development of the Church’s understanding of Islam. What we have seen instead are merely variations on the theme of commonality.

Catholic writers have a separate vocation from bishops. They also have some advantages that bishops don’t always enjoy—such as the time and the talent for thoroughly researching a subject. They would serve the Church better if they sought to encourage bishops to expand their understanding of Islam and to think more deeply about it. Some, such as Fr. James Schall, S.J. are already doing that. Too many others, unfortunately, are merely parroting the “official” line, with the result that the knowledge gap about Islam never gets filled.

Make that the “dangerous” knowledge gap. The biggest story never told—the story about the magnitude of Islamic jihad and the motivation behind it—needs to be told. And soon. Islam has endured long periods of quiescence. But when it moves, it can move with surprising speed—as it did in the middle of the seventh century. Given the relative lack of resistance to armed jihad and, especially, to cultural jihad, followers of the prophet have good reason to believe that this may be one of those times.

DAILY NEWS: Canadian man beheaded by Islamic extremist captors in the Philippines

IRISH CATHOLIC: Muslims must act against extremists

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 5- "On painstaking and true repentance"

1. Repentence is the renewal of baptism. Repentance is a contract with God for a second life. A penitent is a buyer of humility. Repentance is constant distrust of bodily comfort. Repentance is self-condemning reflection, and carefree self-care. Repentance is the daughter of hope and the renunciation of despair. A penitent is an undisgraced convict. Repentance is reconciliation with the Lord by the practice of good deeds contrary to the sins. Repentance is purification of conscience. Repentance is the voluntary endurance of all afflictions. A penitent is the inflicter of his own punishments. Repentance is a mighty persecution of the stomach, and a striking of the soul into vigourous awareness.

April 25, 2016  

(Rev 3:20) Behold, I stand at the gate and knock. If any man shall hear my voice and open to me the door, I will come in to him and will sup with him: and he with me.


Christianity teaches us that our world is holy, that everything is matter for sacrament.

In its view, the universe is a manifestation of God’s glory and humanity is made in God’s image. Our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, the food we eat is sacramental, and in our work and in sexual embrace we are co-creators with God.

This is high theology, a symbolic hedge which dwarfs that found in virtually every other religion and philosophy.

Nowhere else, save in outright pantheism, does anyone else affirm anything so radical that it borders on blasphemy. But this is Christian thought; at its best.

The problem however is that, most times, our daily lives are so dram, distracted and fixed upon realities that seem so base that it makes this idea (“everything is sacrament”) seem adolescent fantasy.

When we watch the news at night our world doesn’t look like the glory of God; what we do with our bodies at times makes us wonder whether these really are temples of the Holy Spirit, the heartless and thankless way that we consume food and drink leaves little impression of sacramentality, and the symbols and language with which we surround our work and sex speak precious little of co-creation with God.

Why is this so? If the earth is ablaze with the fire of God, why do we, in the words of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, sit around and pick blackberries? What have we lost?

We have lost the sense that the world is holy and that our eating, working and making love are sacramental; and we’ve lost it because we no longer have the right kind of prayer and ritual in our lives. We no longer connect ourselves, our world, and our eating and our making love, to their sacred origins. It is in not making this connection that our prayer and ritual falls short.

Let me try to illustrate this with a few examples: Among the Osage Indians, there is a custom that when a child is born, before it is allowed to drink from its mother’s breast, a holy person is summoned, someone “who has talked to the gods” is brought into the room. This person recites to the newborn infant the story of the creation of the world and of terrestrial animals. Not until this has been done is the baby given the mother’s breast.

Later, when the child is old enough to drink water, the same holy person is summoned again. This time he or she tells the story of creation, ending with the story of the sacred origins of water. Only then, after hearing this story, is the child given water.

Then, when the child is old enough to take solid foods, “the person who talked to the gods” is brought in again and he or she, this time, tells the story of the origins of grains and other foods. The object of all of this is to introduce the newborn child into the sacramental reality of the world. This child will grow up to know that eating is not just a physiological act, but a religious one as well.

An older generation, that of my parents, had their own pious way of doing this ritual. They blessed their fields and workbenches and bedrooms, they prayed grace before and after every meal, and some of them went to finalize their engagement for marriage in a church. That was their way of telling the story of the sacred origins of water before drinking it.

By and large, we have rejected the mythological way of the Osage Indians and the pious way of my parents generation. We live, eat, work and make love under a lower symbolic hedge.

Most of our eating isn’t sacramental because we don’t connect the food we eat to its sacred origins—and, for the most part, we don’t really pray before and after meals.

Most of the time we consider our work as a job rather than as co-creation with God because we don’t connect it to any sacred origins­—and we don’t bless our workbenches, offices, classrooms and boardrooms. And our sex is rarely the Eucharist that it should be because the very thought of blessing a bedroom or having sacramental sex causes laughter in most contemporary circles.

I am not sure what the solution is. Our age isn’t much for the mythology of ancient cultures or for the piety of more recent generations. The ways of the past, for better and for worse, are not our ways.

But we must find a way… a way to connect our eating and our drinking, our working and our making love, to their sacred origins.

Socrates once said that the unexamined life is not worth living. It is also not sacramental. Eating, working, and making love, without reflective prayer and proper ritual, are, in the end, dram and non-sacramental. The joylessness of so much that should bring us joy can tell us as much.

VIA Ciloa: misunderstood, so Janet Perez Eckles

A few days ago, I sat at my desk, sipping my morning fruit and veggie smoothie, and with each sip, I delighted in my favorite Bible verses.

Green smoothie surrounded by grapes All of them nourished my soul. But when I read this one, the message lingered in my head, urging me to dig deeper.

Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed. Proverbs 16:3

The command is simple with an inviting, promising result. But the word succeed jumped out at me.

What does success mean to the Lord anyway? And what does it mean to me?

The world defines success as a satisfying result and the ability to reach realistic accomplishments. To us Christians, success might mean rolling up our sleeves and furiously going through a to-do list of work for the Lord. As exhaustion presses, we keep going, sacrificing our health, our family and our sanity---all with the objective of reaching success in our Christianity.

But if we were able to accomplish all of this, would we then feel successful and satisfied? Or would there always be higher levels to reach, more tasks to accomplish, and more places to go? Before we know it, the stress to achieve would start all over again.

That morning as I put down my smoothie, I exhaled a long, deep breath and made a new decision. I would not work for success, but rather, live IN success.

The process is simple. It begins not as a onetime decision, but a daily habit, a moment-by-moment resolve to commit and hand all over to God.

That includes not only our work but, without reservation, placing before Him everything---our daily attitude, our thinking, our approach to the ministry, our reaction to the good, the bad and the busy. And while there, we also hand over our desires and goals.

Once all is placed in God's hands, we can take on the tasks, but leave out the stress. Then our plans reach His success because our steps follow His path. Relief washes over us as it always does when we obey Him.

That's when our days have the glow of success, and at night, when we slip under our covers, we will rest our head on the pillow of peace.

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 4- "On blessed and ever-memorable obedience"

5. You who have decided to strip for the arena of this spiritual confession, you who wish to take on your neck the yoke of Christ, you who are therefore trying to lay your own burden on another's shoulders, you who are hastening to sign a pledge that you are voluntarily surrendering yourself to slavery, and in return want freedom written to your account, you who are being supported by the hands of others as you swim across this great sea- you should know that you have decided to travel by a short but rough way from which there is only one erring path, and it is called self-rule. But he who has renounced this entirely, even in things that seem to be good and spiritual and pleasing to God, has reached the end before setting out on his journey. For obedience is distrust of oneself in everything, however good it may be, right to the end of one's life.

April 22, 2016  

(Exo 12:21-24) And Moses called all the ancients of the children of Israel, and said to them: Go take a lamb by your families, and sacrifice the Phase. And dip a bunch of hyssop in the blood that is at the door, and sprinkle the transom of the door therewith, and both the door cheeks: let none of you go out of the door of his house till morning. For the Lord will pass through striking the Egyptians: and when he shall see the blood on the transom, and on both the posts, he will pass over the door of the house, and not suffer the destroyer to come into your houses and to hurt you. Thou shalt keep this thing as a law for thee and thy children for ever.

POPE FRANCIS: "In remembering with renewed gratitude our meeting on 17 January, when I was cordially welcomed by you and by the Jewish Community of the city in the Great Synagogue, I wish to express my most heartfelt wishes for the feast of Passover. It points out that the Almighty has released His beloved people from slavery and brought them to the Promised Land. May God also accompany you today with the abundance of His Blessings, protect your community and, in His mercy, bestow peace upon everyone. I ask you to pray for me, as I assure you of my prayers for you: may the Almighty allow us to be able to grow more and more in friendship".

THE PASSOVER LAMB- Jesus fulfilled all of the requirements of the perfect Passover Lamb of God

Passover is known as the Festival of Redemption, because it commemorates the children of Israel’s freedom from slavery in Egypt some 3,500 years ago.

We know the story in Exodus well: God chooses Moses and sends him to tell Pharaoh to “let My people go.” Pharaoh refuses and Egypt is visited with ten different plagues that practically destroy the nation. The last plague is the death of the firstborn male of every family.

The Lord uses this plague to teach the children of Israel the principal of redemption through a substitute. He instructs them to choose a young male lamb or goat on the tenth day of the month of Nisan and observe their lambs for three days to ensure they are without blemish. Then, on the fourteenth day of the month they were to slay the lamb and place the blood on the doorposts and lintels of their houses. That evening, when God saw the blood, the plague would pass over those dwellings and would not strike that home.

On the night of that first Passover, all the firstborn in Egypt were under the sentence of death. However, if the Israelites followed God’s instructions, the lambs became their substitutes. God said “When I see the blood, I will pass over you” (Exod. 12:13).

He also instructed them to roast the meat of the lamb in fire and to eat it along with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. The Passover Seder meal enjoyed by Jews today takes those original elements, and a number of others, transforming the meal from a somber time of dread into a joyous celebration of that great deliverance.


Passover became one of three major feasts during which the men of Israel were to make pilgrimage to Jerusalem for its celebration. There they would present their lamb to the priests in the Temple on the 10th of Nisan for inspection and approval. The lamb was then taken home and observed for the next three days to be sure it was perfect, without defect.

Jesus went to Jerusalem for Passover, as did thousands of others, even though He knew what awaited Him there. His Palm Sunday triumphal entry to Jerusalem, followed by His appearance in the Temple, may have, quite prophetically, been on that day of inspection of the Passover lambs.

John the Baptist, a Levite, had already declared Jesus to be the Lamb of God at His baptism when he said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). The Apostle Paul later wrote that we are redeemed by “the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (I Peter 1:19), and in I Corinthians he said “Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us” (I Cor. 5:7-8).


When the 14th day of Nisan arrived, it was time to observe Passover, so Jesus instructed the disciples how to find the place where they would eat the Passover meal together. They were told to go into the city and find a man carrying a pitcher of water and follow him to his master’s house where there would be a large upper room for them to use. They were to prepare the Passover meal there. Scripture does not tell us what was involved in the preparation of the Passover meal and assumes we know that in addition to preparing the unleavened bread, wine, and bitter herbs, there was the task of killing a sacrificial lamb at the Temple (Mark 14:12).

On that day, the Temple would have been filled with worshippers, each bringing their family’s lamb. At the threefold blast of the priests’ trumpets, the lambs were slain and their blood spilled into a golden bowl and passed up to the great altar. While this was being carried out, the Levites chanted the “Hallel” which is Psalm 113-118. The Hallel ended with the crowd of worshippers proclaiming the last two verses aloud, Psalm 118:25-26.

“Hosanna,” or “Save now,” was what the throngs had also cried out earlier when the Lamb of God, who would be slain for the sins of the world, had passed by them on His way to the Temple.

[“Hosanna”] Save now, I pray, O Lord;
O Lord, I pray, send now prosperity,
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!
(Psalm 118:25-26)


The prophet Isaiah had prophesied that the Messiah would be like a lamb: submissive even while being led to the slaughter (Isaiah 53:7). Jesus did suffer silently before the religious and civil authorities and gave no defense for Himself as they interrogated Him (Matt. 27:12-14).

Jesus fulfilled all of the requirements of the perfect Passover Lamb of God. No wonder the Apostle John saw in his vision of heaven the angels crying out: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, To receive power and riches and wisdom, And strength and honor and glory and blessing!” (Rev. 5:12). 

MORE: At The Intersection Of Time & Eternity: Passover

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 4- "On blessed and ever-memorable obedience"

4. The beginning of the mortification both of the soul's desire and of the bodily members is much hard work. The middle is sometimes laborious and sometimes not laborious. But the end is insensibility and insusceptibility to toil and pain. Only when he sees himself doing his own will does this blessed living corpse feel sorry and sick at heart; and he fears the responsibility of using his own judgment.

April 20, 2016  

(Luk 13:1-5) And there were present, at that very time, some that told him of the Galileans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answering, said to them: Think you that these Galileans were sinners above all the men of Galilee, because they suffered such things? No, I say to you: but unless you shall do penance, you shall all likewise perish. Or those eighteen upon whom the tower fell in Siloe and slew them: think you that they also were debtors above all the men that dwelt in Jerusalem? No, I say to you: but except you do penance, you shall all likewise perish.

EXCERPT NEWS REPORT: Ecuador quake survivors tell harrowing tales, mourn dead

During a terrifying five hours trapped in the rubble of her own restaurant, Filerma Rayo almost lost hope.

"I was yelling and yelling and then, at the end, I started to think I would die there," said Rayo, 33, as she nursed a crushed foot, pinned by a falling piece of cement when a 7.8 magnitude earthquake shook Ecuador on Saturday.

The Andean nation's worst quake in a decade killed more than 270 people, injured another 2,000, flattened buildings and tore apart roads along the Pacific coast.

"It was my siblings who saved us, the rescue teams hadn't arrived yet," said Rayo, who runs a restaurant on the bottom floor of a now-shattered hotel in the worst-hit town of Pedernales, a rustic beach location on the Pacific coast.

Her three brothers and sisters, also from Pedernales, came looking for Rayo and her husband, who suffered head injuries, after the quake. Guided by her shouts, they managed to remove the rubble and pull her out around midnight, well before emergency crews arrived.

Nearly 100 neighbors in Pedernales were not so lucky.

They died when the earthquake struck, sending pastel top floors crashing to the ground, punching holes in the façade of the church on the main square and obliterating a local hotel, its roof jack-knifed and crumbling.

Many residents, including Rayo and her family, spent a restless Sunday night sleeping outside on mattresses in the muggy tropical night, wary of aftershocks.

CATHOLIC ONLINE: Ecuador quake survivors share powerful stories of survival

CATHOLIC REVIEW: Young nun, postulants among hundreds of Ecuador earthquake victims

: In Wake Of High-Magnitude Quake, Ecuador Assesses Scope Of Destruction


On April 16, 2016, a 7.8-magnitude earthquake hit Ecuador, killing at least 350 people, a number that is expected to rise as first responders reach the affected area. This is the strongest earthquake Ecuador has experienced since 1979.

Hundreds more have been injured, and there are reports of widespread damage to buildings, roads and other infrastructure. Communications are down or intermittent, further complicating damage assessment and need.

Given the widespread impact, Catholic Relief Services is coordinating with other humanitarian organizations and our partners to determine priorities.

Water, food and emergency shelter will be the biggest needs in the coming days. The people of Ecuador urgently need your help. Your donation will help CRS respond immediately.


POPE FRANCIS: “May the help of God and of their brothers give them strength and support.”

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 4- "On blessed and ever-memorable obedience"

(cont.). Obedience is the tomb of the will and the resurrection of humility. A corpse does not argue or reason as to what is good or what seems to be bad. For he who has devoutly put the soul of the novice to death will answer for everything. Obedience is an abandonment of discernment in a wealth of discernment.

April 18, 2016  

(Joh 17:20-21) And not for them only do I pray, but for them also who through their word shall believe in me. That they all may be one, as thou, Father, in me, and I in thee; that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.

VATICAN RADIO: Pope Francis, Patr. Bartholomew, ABP Ieronymos sign joint declaration in Lesbos

We, Pope Francis, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece, have met on the Greek island of Lesvos to demonstrate our profound concern for the tragic situation of the numerous refugees, migrants and asylum seekers who have come to Europe fleeing from situations of conflict and, in many cases, daily threats to their survival. World opinion cannot ignore the colossal humanitarian crisis created by the spread of violence and armed conflict, the persecution and displacement of religious and ethnic minorities, and the uprooting of families from their homes, in violation of their human dignity and their fundamental human rights and freedoms.

The tragedy of forced migration and displacement affects millions, and is fundamentally a crisis of humanity, calling for a response of solidarity, compassion, generosity and an immediate practical commitment of resources.  From Lesvos, we appeal to the international community to respond with courage in facing this massive humanitarian crisis and its underlying causes, through diplomatic, political and charitable initiatives, and through cooperative efforts, both in the Middle East and in Europe.

As leaders of our respective Churches, we are one in our desire for peace and in our readiness to promote the resolution of conflicts through dialogue and reconciliation.  While acknowledging the efforts already being made to provide help and care to refugees, migrants and asylum seekers, we call upon all political leaders to employ every means to ensure that individuals and communities, including Christians, remain in their homelands and enjoy the fundamental right to live in peace and security. A broader international consensus and an assistance programme are urgently needed to uphold the rule of law, to defend fundamental human rights in this unsustainable situation, to protect minorities, to combat human trafficking and smuggling, to eliminate unsafe routes, such as those through the Aegean and the entire Mediterranean, and to develop safe resettlement procedures. In this way we will be able to assist those countries directly engaged in meeting the needs of so many of our suffering brothers and sisters.  In particular, we express our solidarity with the people of Greece, who despite their own economic difficulties, have responded with generosity to this crisis.

Together we solemnly plead for an end to war and violence in the Middle East, a just and lasting peace and the honourable return of those forced to abandon their homes.  We ask religious communities to increase their efforts to receive, assist and protect refugees of all faiths, and that religious and civil relief services work to coordinate their initiatives.  For as long as the need exists, we urge all countries to extend temporary asylum, to offer refugee status to those who are eligible, to expand their relief efforts and to work with all men and women of good will for a prompt end to the conflicts in course.

Europe today faces one of its most serious humanitarian crises since the end of the Second World War.  To meet this grave challenge, we appeal to all followers of Christ to be mindful of the Lord’s words, on which we will one day be judged: «For I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me drink; I was a stranger and you took me in; I was naked and you clothed me; I was sick and you visited me; I was in prison and you came to me… Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me» (Mt 25:35-36, 40).

For our part, in obedience to the will of our Lord Jesus Christ, we firmly and wholeheartedly resolve to intensify our efforts to promote the full unity of all Christians.  We reaffirm our conviction that «reconciliation [among Christians] involves promoting social justice within and among all peoples… Together we will do our part towards giving migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers a humane reception in Europe» (Charta Oecumenica, 2001).  By defending the fundamental human rights of refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants, and the many marginalized people in our societies, we aim to fulfil the Churches’ mission of service to the world.

Our meeting today is meant to help bring courage and hope to those seeking refuge and to all those who welcome and assist them.  We urge the international community to make the protection of human lives a priority and, at every level, to support inclusive policies which extend to all religious communities.  The terrible situation of all those affected by the present humanitarian crisis, including so many of our Christian brothers and sisters, calls for our constant prayer.

MORE: Vatican, Moscow Patriarchate: joint aid for Mideast Christians

VIA A MOMENT WITH MARY: The Marian connection

Between Catholics and Orthodox, the connection is both spiritual and Marian. After communism—"one of the worst persecutions the Christian world has ever known" according to the French theologian Olivier Clement—ended with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the religious revival in Russia resulted in a flowering of icons of the Virgin Mary, whose deep love is characteristic of the Russian soul.

What is less known is that the current Patriarch of Moscow was very much influenced by Metropolitan Nicodemus, to whom he served as an assistant, and who died in the arms of Pope John Paul I after a trip to… Fatima!

It is therefore probable that the Argentinian Pope Francis and the Patriarch are united by the same Marian piety, which in the words of the Swiss theologian Urs von Balthasar "governs the Church in a hidden way, like the woman in the home."

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 4- "On blessed and ever-memorable obedience"

3. Obedience is absolute renunciation of our own life, clearly expressed in our bodily actions. Or, conversely, obedience is the mortification of the limbs while the mind remains alive. Obedience is unquestioning movement, voluntary death, a life free of curiosity, carefree danger, unprepared defense before God, fearlessness of death, a safe voyage, a sleeper's progress

April 15, 2016  

(Rev 12:1-2) And a great sign appeared in heaven: A woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. And being with child, she cried travailing in birth: and was in pain to be delivered.

FATHER BROOM'S BLOG: Consecration of young to Mary

O Mary, Mother of God, Mother of the Church, Mother of all of the families, and in a special way Mother of the young, we implore your most powerful intercession to rescue us from the power of the enemy.

Dear Mary, Mother, guide and protector of the young we implore your intercession around and over our young people; they are surrounded by so many evils, temptations, and seductions that easily blind them from the true meaning of life and the true source of happiness which is God.

The devil tempts them to forget and even deny God’s existence; the flesh rebels against the spirit and insists on immediate gratification; the world lies to them, convincing them that true happiness can be found in this world and this world alone.

Dear Mary, our Mother and Queen help our youth to discover in the depths of their hearts, mind and souls that the reason for our existence is very simple but profound—to know, love, and serve God in this life so as to be happy with Him forever in heaven.

Dear Mary, we invoke you as our life, our sweetness and our hope. (The Hail Holy Queen) may our young people live their lives to the fullest by following Jesus who is truly the LIFE of our life. May our youth find their joy happiness and sweetness in the loving embraces of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  Finally, in the midst of the storms, tempests and bitter trials of life, may our youth discover hope in Mary’s Immaculate Heart and maternal embrace.

Dear Mary, may our young people become precious and shiny jewels one day in your crown in heaven, so that they may for all eternity contemplate the beauty of the face of God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit for all eternity. Amen.

: A Moment with Mary: In these latter times Mary must shine forth more than ever

He who finds Mary finds life. … In these latter times Mary must shine forth more than ever in mercy, power and grace; in mercy, to bring back and welcome lovingly the poor sinners and wanderers who are to be converted and return to the Catholic Church; in power, to combat the enemies of God who will rise up menacingly to seduce and crush by promises and threats all those who oppose them; finally, she must shine forth in grace to inspire and support the valiant soldiers and loyal servants of Jesus Christ who are fighting for his cause.

Lastly, Mary must become as terrible as an army in battle array to the devil and his followers, especially in these latter times. For Satan, knowing that he has little time—even less now than ever—to destroy souls, intensifies his efforts and his onslaughts every day. He will not hesitate to stir up savage persecutions and set treacherous snares for Mary's faithful servants and children whom he finds more difficult to overcome than others.

VIA Holy Souls:  I have been praying the rosary since i was a child but i lost interest when i became older. Recently i would pray my pieta prayer,Jesus holy wounds,prayer for the holy souls. It wasn't until one night i was curious if i could put praying the rosary in my routine. I started praying from January of 2016.

I was praying particularly for Mother Mary to help me with my sister's attitude. My sister is a very stubborn person and she has qualities you would really hate in a person. To explain further before i prayed for her change. She was always depressed and angry, She thought that the world owed her something, She constantly lied about money and stole any spare change I give her,She would justify her faults by giving excuses if we fought,She wanted to ran away despite the financial debt that she owed me. We had a very volatile relationship! To help you understand why She acted like this was because she was a former crystal meth addict and a former prostitute. There was really no reason for her to do this because back then financially we we're doing fine. My Father is a doctor and he wasn't living with us. He just sent us money everyday. So she prostituted herself to have money for drugs. I prayed so hard to God for her to change! I think God,Jesus and Mama Mary helped by her stopping all her bad actions. She has been sober now for 3 years from drugs and 3 years of no prostitution.

Now that is 2016 she still has her attitude left until I saw a big change in her in about week into praying the rosary. I asked Mother Mary, to melt her hardened heart and to go back to God. So she hasn't been harboring hatred anymore. She tells the truth now and I can trust her with money now. She goes to church now with me, unlike before that she would not listen to the priests sermon. Now she would pray the rosary and ask Mama Mary to give her strength in everything she does. She is more greatful about life and more positive now. Even when she has a bump in the road we talk about it and we resolve it.

I have never seen a complete change in my sister until i prayed the rosary. I didn't know how miraculous it is until you experience its effect pn your life. I prayed for years for this to come in my life! I thought this was a hopeless case. My Mother died 5 years ago and entrusted me to take care of her. I did so without quitting with the grace of God! I really thank God for reminding that their are storms in our life but it doesn't we can't survive it and have peace in our lives. It just means we have to trust him and his plan for us!

With the intercession of Mama Mary through the rosary, I've seen the changes in my life. I thank her for consoling when I'm most vulnerable. But most of all I thank her for the cause of my sister's true change in her faith and her love for God now. Remember anything is possible when you pray the rosary! Thank you Mama Mary

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 4- "On blessed and ever-memorable obedience"

2. But let us not fail, if you agree, to describe clearly in our treatise the weapons of these brave warriors: how they hold the shield of faith in God and their trainer, and with it they ward off, so to speak, every thought of unbelief and change of place; how they constantly raise the drawn sword of the Spirit and slay every wish of their own that approaches them; how, clad in the armour of meekness and patience, they avert every insult and injury and missile. And for a helmet of salvation they have their superior's protection through prayer. And they do not stand with their feet together, for one is stretched out in service and the other is immovable in prayer.

April 13, 2016  

(Luk 6:22-23) Blessed shall you be when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you and shall reproach you and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man's sake. Be glad in that day and rejoice: for behold, your reward is great in heaven, For according to these things did their fathers to the prophets.

BISHOP SERRATELLI: Compassion vs. the Persecution of Believers

: The Crusades: A Response to Islamic Jihad

AINA NEWS: After the 'G-word' Has Been Spoken by George Weigel

In the early Church, witnesses to the faith who had been persecuted and tortured but not killed were known as "martyr-confessors." It's been one of the great privileges of my life to have known such men and women: Czech priests who spent years as slave laborers in uranium mines; Lithuanian priests and nuns condemned to Perm Camp 36 in the Gulag; a Ukrainian Greek Catholic scholar who knew the bone-chilling bite of the Siberian winter because of his fidelity to Christ and to the Bishop of Rome. These modern martyr-confessors are part of that "great cloud of witnesses" who form a living link between the Church here and now and "the assembly of the first-born who are enrolled in heaven" (Hebrews 12. 1, 23).

I treasure the memory and the friendship of these great souls. All their stories are remarkable; so was the equanimity they exhibited as I got to know them -- the sense they conveyed, quite naturally, that it was a privilege to suffer for the faith. Comparative martyrology is out of place in such a company of heroes. Still, none of the martyr-confessors I have met had a story quite like that of Father Douglas Bazi, of the Chaldean Catholic Diocese of Erbil, whom I met three weeks ago.

Simply because he was a Christian and a Catholic priest, Father Bazi had had his teeth knocked out, his nose smashed, and his back broken with a hammer. And that was before ISIS turned large parts of Iraq into a killing zone in which Christian lives were automatically forfeit. Today, Father Bazi lives with his exiled people in the Kurdish Autonomous Region of crumbling Iraq. The ISIS assault on his people, he told me, was but the latest of eight different assaults on Chaldean Catholics over the last century, which have reduced what was once a population of three million to about 180,000. In the brutal politics of a region where the withdrawal of American power has led to seven demons worse than the first, Chaldean Catholics are especially at risk because, as Father Bazi put it, they "can't play the game the way the others do"--they can't indulge in revenge killings because their faith forbids them to do so.

Father Bazi was in Washington to bear witness for his people in the U.S. House of Representatives, which, a few hours after we spoke, voted unanimously to declare that what ISIS is doing to Christians in Iraq is "genocide." Three days after that, Secretary of State John Kerry met a congressionally mandated deadline by actually using the "G-word"--"genocide"--to describe ISIS's assault on Christians, Yazidis, and Shiites in the areas of Iraq and Syria under its control. The new thing, and the welcome thing, in Secretary Kerry's statement was the mention of Christians as targets of genocide.

That statement would not have happened without the relentless, persistent work of human rights campaigner Nina Shea, who has lobbied for redress for persecuted Christians in the Middle East with a tenacity that deserves the highest respect. It wouldn't have happened without the leadership of Congressman Jeff Fortenberry of Nebraska, who introduced the House resolution that passed on March 14 while Father Bazi looked on from the House gallery. And the Kerry statement wouldn't have happened without the prod of a report, "Genocide against Christians in the Middle East," prepared by the Knights of Columbus and the organization "In Defense of Christians:" a remarkably detailed account of anti-Christian persecution, destruction, and slaughter that was addressed to the Secretary of State and contained a legal brief arguing that the "G-word" should be invoked and the matter referred to the Criminal Division of the Justice Department and the Security Council of the United Nations.

Father Bazi was aware that merely saying the "G-word" would change nothing on the ground for his people. But he welcomed the congressional resolution and the administration's action because it called this ongoing atrocity by its proper name and would thus give his people hope that someone knew, and someone cared. That caring, I suggest, should now extend to helping Chaldean Catholics rebuild their communities in the West.

CNSNEWS.COM: Nun Gives Eyewitness Account of Islamic State's Murder of 4 Missionaries of Charity in Yemen

POPE FRANCIS: “These are the martyrs of today! They are not on the front page of newspapers, they are not in the news: they offer their life for the Church. These people are victims of the attack, victims of those who did it and victims of indifference, of this globalisation of indifference, which could not care less… May Mother Teresa accompany these her daughters, martyrs of charity to paradise and may she intercede for peace and sacred respect for human life”.

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 4- "On blessed and ever-memorable obedience"

1. Our treatise now appropriately touches upon warriors and athletes of Christ. As the flower precedes the fruit, so exile, either of body or will, always precedes obedience. For with the help of these two virtues, the holy soul steadily ascends to Heaven as upon golden wings. And perhaps it was about this that he who had received the Holy Spirit sang: Who will give me wings like a dove? And I will fly by activity, and be at rest by divine vision and humility.

April 11, 2016  

(1Jn 4:19-20) Let us therefore love God: because God first hath loved us. If any man say: I love God, and hateth his brother; he is a liar. For he that loveth not his brother whom he seeth, how can he love God whom he seeth not?


Pope's post-Synod document emphasizes flexibility

: Archbishop Chaput: Thankful for pope’s thoughts on marriage, family

Amoris Laetitia is a serious and extensive reflection on Christian marriage. While it changes no Church teaching or discipline, it does stress the importance of pastoral sensitivity in dealing with the difficult situations many married couples today face. Pope Francis is skilled at analyzing the cultural forces that make Christian marriage a unique witness, and often a special challenge. His recognition of the importance of children and the value of adoption are great expressions of support for family life.

Happily, the kind of pastoral discernment called for in Amoris Laetitia is already happening in many of our parish communities, and the Holy Father’s encouragement, coming just months after the World Meeting of Families, is a great gift.

Amoris Laetitia is unusual for its size – more than 250 pages – and the Holy Father himself cautions us to read it with patience and attention. This is sound guidance, especially in the scramble that always takes place to stamp a particular interpretation on important papal interventions. My own more developed thoughts will be forthcoming. In the meantime, we can be thankful for the Holy Father’s thoughts on an issue of real gravity. Nothing is more essential to any society than the health of marriage and the family.

CHIESA COMMENTARY: Integration Yes, Communion Who Knows? The Pope’s Sibylline Response
Excerpts from the post-synodal exhortation "Amoris Lætitia." In 264 pages and 325 paragraphs not a single clear word in favor of communion for the divorced and remarried

EXCERPT CATHOLIC HERALD ANALYSIS: The key to Amoris Laetitia’s treatment of the divorced and civilly remarried is the recognition that every marriage, and certainly every broken marriage, is unique. In line with his own image of the Church as a hospital, the intimate process of pastoral discernment outlined by the document represents a profound period of diagnosis, where the individual’s reality, and pastoral needs, can become clear.

The first goal of this period of pastoral discernment is, according to Pope Francis, to provide a solid mechanism for welcoming those in irregular situations into the Church; a welcome that needs to be as individual as the person and their situation and which reflects that, whatever their circumstances, the parish is the proper home of every Christian.

Pope Francis repeats, again and again, that couples in irregular unions are not excommunicated, they are not, in the language of the old code of canon law, the vitandi – those to be shunned. On the contrary, their presence and participation in the life of the parish is essential, how else are they to be helped?

The second purpose of the period of pastoral discernment is to allow for the person to be met exactly where they are and genuinely accompanied along a period of discernment, formation of conscience, and growth in the faith.

Where Amoris Laetitia parts company with the Kasper proposal is the stated goal of this process. Kasper and his supporters were clear that the goal is always full sacramental participation in the life of the Church, most especially through Communion.

Pope Francis is clear that the goal of this pastoral accompaniment is as individual as the person’s situation – and he does state that, in some cases, this can include access to the sacraments. This will be held out by many as Kasper’s vindication, but, in fact, it couldn’t be further from the case.

When Francis refers to the sacraments his is referring, and this is explicit in the text, first of all to Confession, which is our primary means of encountering the mercy of God. It is within this context that he insists that pastors consider the full complexity of a person’s situation and never think that “it is enough simply to apply moral laws to those living in “irregular” situations, as if they were stones to throw at people’s lives.”

The period of pastoral accompaniment and discernment described in Amoris Laetitia is, effectively, an extended guided examination of conscience leading to Confession.

It is in the light of this period of discernment that the person or couple can find their place in the life of the parish of which Francis says “necessarily requires discerning which of the various forms of exclusion currently practised in the liturgical, pastoral, educational and institutional framework, can be surmounted.”

And for some this will mean being able to take Communion. But, crucially, when discussing these situations and the huge scope for different circumstances, the Pope refers to two documents in particular, St. John Paul II’s Familiaris Consortio, and the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts’ Declaration Concerning the Admission to Holy Communion of Faithful Who are Divorced and Remarried.

These documents both articulate the significance which individual circumstances can have, but also make it clear that only couples in irregular marriages who live a life of marital abstinence can receive Communion, and this is left absolutely intact by Francis.

Without question, there will be those who will try and contort Amoris Laetitia into the Kaspser proposal, but they will do so against the obvious and clear intentions of Pope Francis. In fact, what the Pope has produced is something much more personal, pastoral, coherent, and enduring. If it can be successfully brought, in its fullness, into parish life, its potential is enormous.

NATIONAL CATHOLIC REGISTER: Pope’s Family Document ‘Amoris Laetitia’ Tackles Complex Pastoral Challenges

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 3- "On Exile or Pilgrimage"

11 (cont.). Run from Egypt without looking back; because the hearts which look back upon it with affection shall not see Jerusalem, the land of dispassion. Those who left their own people in childlike simplicity at the beginning, and have since been completely purified, may profitably return to their former land, perhaps even with the intention, after saving themselves, of saving others too. Yet Moses, who was allowed to see God Himself and was sent by God for the salvation of his own people, met many dangers in Egypt, that is to say, dark, periods in the world.

April 8, 2016  

(2Ki 13:20-21) And Eliseus died, and they buried him. And the rovers from Moab came into the land the same year. And some that were burying a man, saw the rovers, and cast the body into the sepulchre of Eliseus. And when it had touched the bones of Eliseus, the man came to life and stood upon his feet.


: Saint Charbel

ALETEIA: Arizona Woman Claims Full Healing After Venerating Relics of St. Charbel

EDITORS'S NOTE:  As a Board Certified Ophthalmologist, I concur that provided the facts are as depicted, there is no medical explanation for this miraculous cure.

St. Sharbel (Charbel) Relic Tour Visits the East Coast February – May 2016

The relics of St. Sharbel (Charbel) have spent the last couple of months touring Maronite churches in the west coast.  In May the tour will move to the east coast and will include stops in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Washington DC, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Maine from February to May, 2016.

St. Sharbel was born in 1828 in North Lebanon.  He entered the Monastery of St. Maron at Annaya at the age of 23 and took the name Sharbel in honor of a second century Antioch church martyr.  He became a priest in 1859 and was very devoted to the Blessed Sacrament.  He lived as a hermit but his reputation for holiness caused people to seek him out.  He died on Christmas Eve, 1898 and was buried in the Monastery cemetery.  “A few months later, dazzling lights were seen around the grave. From there, his corpse, which had been secreting sweat and blood, was transferred into a special coffin. Hordes of pilgrims started swarming the place to get his intercession. And through this intercession, God blessed many people with recovery and spiritual graces.”  When his grave was opened in 1950 during the canonization process the number of healings multiplied.  Sharbel was canonized in 1977.

St. Sharbel, pray for us!


Relics of Saint Sharbel in Brooklyn│The relics of St. Sharbel will be on display for veneration at Our Lady of Lebanon Maronite Cathedral in Brooklyn, NY Saturday (4/9) and Sunday (4/10).  All are invited and encouraged to attend. Saint Sharbel, Pray for Us!

Please see link for detailed schedule of events:

EXCERPT MIRACULOUS TESTIMONY: Believers set to visit the sacred relics of St. Charbel in Tampa (2/16)

Charbel and his twin brother Issa were welcomed into the world in 2014 after being carried by their mother for only 25 weeks and four days. Falamina Khashram said doctors saw the danger signs early during her second ultrasound.

"The doctor said he was worried one of the babies wouldn't be okay. I got so scared," she said. "That is when we prayed to St. Charbel, and that is when we decided to name our sick baby after him."

The next several weeks were filled with more less-than-hopeful ultrasounds, intravenous fluids, pain and bed rest. Later, after four weeks of round-the-clock care, doctors had to act.

The mother underwent an emergency C-section, and Charbel spent his first two weeks in the world attached to a ventilator in the neonatal intensive-care unit.

He suffered from a life-threatening condition called hydrocephalus, which involves a buildup of cerebrospinal fluid in the brain. Doctors told the Khashrams they had two choices: keep their son, or let him go.

"The doctor recommended to let him go," Falamina Khashram said. "He said he would have no quality of life. He would be a human being, but wouldn't eat, walk, talk — nothing."

With just one day to make a decision, the infant's parents prayed to St. Charbel.

"We went to the church, and we were praying and praying and praying and crying," the mother said. "You cannot believe how much we prayed. All I knew is that I could not exist in this world without my baby."

The next morning, she called the doctor to check on Charbel.

"The doctor said, 'It is a miracle. He is breathing on his own, off the machine,' " she remembered. "It was unbelievable. It is something no one can do but St. Charbel."

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 3- "On Exile or Pilgrimage"

11. When we have lived a year or two away from our family, and have acquired some piety or contrition or continence, then vain thoughts begin to rise up in us and urge us to go again to our homeland, 'for the edification of many', they say, 'and as an example, and for the profit of those who saw our former lax life'. And if we possess the gift of eloquence and some shreds of knowledge, the thought occurs to us that we could be saviours of souls and teachers in the world, that we may waste in the sea what we have gathered so well in the harbour. Let us try to imitate not Lot's wife, but Lot himself. For when a soul turns back to what it has left, like salt, it loses its savour and becomes henceforth useless.

April 6, 2016  

(2Th 2:15) Therefore, brethren, stand fast: and hold the traditions, which you have learned, whether by word or by our epistle.

CATHOLICCITIZENS.ORG: Exclusive Interview: Bishop Athanasius Schneider on Evangelization, Zika, Freemasonry, the Orthodox & More!

VIA CHIESA: From “Informe sobre la esperanza” by Cardinal Gerhard L. Müller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith


Precisely those who until now have shown no respect for the doctrine of the Church are using an isolated phrase from the Holy Father, “Who am I to judge?”, taken out of context, to present distorted ideas on sexual morality, reinforcing them with a presumed interpretation of the “authentic” thought of the pope in this regard.

The question of homosexuality that gave rise to the question posed to the Holy Father is already present in the Bible, both in the Old Testament (cf. Gen 19; Dt 23:18f; Lev 18:22; 20:13; Wis 13-15) and in the Pauline letters (cf. Rom 1:26f; 1 Cor 6:9f), treated as a theological subject albeit with the influences inherent to the historical nature of divine revelation.

It can be gathered from Sacred Scripture that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered, since they do not proceed from a true affective and sexual complementarity. This is a very complex question, because of the numerous implications that have forcefully asserted themselves in recent years. In any case, the anthropological conception that can be gathered from the Bible involves several inescapable moral demands, and at the same time a scrupulous respect for the homosexual person. These persons, called to chastity and to Christian perfection through self-mastery and at times with the help of a disinterested friendship, live something that “constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2357-2359).

Nonetheless, in addition to the problem raised by the decontextualization of the aforementioned phrase of Pope Francis, pronounced as a sign of respect for the dignity of the person, it seems evident to me that the Church, with its magisterium, has the capacity to judge the morality of certain situations. This is a truth beyond question: God is the only judge who will judge us at the end of time, and the pope and bishops have the obligation to present the revealed criteria for this final judgment that is already anticipated today in our moral conscience.

The Church has always said “this is true, this is false,” and no one can interpret in a subjectivist way the commandments of God, the Beatitudes, the counsels, according to his own criteria, his own interest, or even his own needs, as if God were only the backdrop of his own autonomy. The relationship between the personal conscience and God is concrete and real, illuminated by the magisterium of the Church; the Church has the right and the obligation to declare that a doctrine is false, precisely because such a doctrine misleads ordinary people from the path that leads to God.

Beginning with the French Revolution, the subsequent liberal regimes and the totalitarian systems of the 20th century, the objective of the principal attacks has always been the Christian vision of human existence and of its destiny.

When its resistance could not be overcome, some of its elements were allowed to remain, but not Christianity in its substance; the result was that Christianity ceased to be the criterion of all reality, and the aforementioned subjectivist positions were encouraged.

These have their origin in a new non-Christian and relativistic anthropology that dispenses with the concept of truth: contemporary man sees himself obliged to live permanently in doubt. More than that: the affirmation that the Church cannot judge personal situations is based on a false soteriology, namely that man is his own savior and redeemer.

In subjecting Christian anthropology to this brutal reductionism, the hermeneutic of reality that results from this adopts only the elements that are of interest or convenience to the individual: some elements of the parables, certain benevolent acts of Christ or those passages that present him as a simple prophet of social welfare or a master in humanity.

And what is censored, on the contrary, is the Lord of history, the Son of God who invites to conversion or the Son of Man who will come to judge the living and the dead. In reality, this merely tolerated Christianity is emptied of its message and forgets that the relationship with Christ, without personal conversion, is impossible.


Pope Francis says in “Evangelii Gaudium” (no. 47) that the Eucharist “is not a prize for the perfect but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak.” It is worthwhile to analyze this phrase in depth, in order not to misunderstand its meaning.

In the first place, it must be noted that this statement expresses the primacy of grace: conversion is not an autonomous act of man, but is, in itself, an action of grace. Nevertheless, it cannot be deduced from this that conversion is an external response of gratitude for what God has done in me on his own account, without me. Nor can I conclude that anyone may approach to receive the Eucharist even though he is not in the state of grace and with the appropriate dispositions, simply because it is nourishment for the weak.

First of all we must ask ourselves: what is conversion? It is a free act of man, and at the same time it is an act motivated by the grace of God, which always precedes the acts of men. This is why it is an integral act, incomprehensible if the action of God is separated from the action of man. […]

In the sacrament of penance, for example, one observes with absolute clarity the need for a free response on the part of the penitent, expressed in his contrition of heart, in his resolution to correct himself, in his confession of sins, in his act of penance. This is why Catholic theology denies that God does everything, and that man is a pure recipient of divine graces. Conversion is the new life that is given to us by grace, and at the same time it is also a task that is offered to us as a condition for perseverance in grace. […]

There are only two sacraments that constitute the state of grace: baptism and the sacrament of reconciliation. When someone has lost sanctifying grace, he needs the sacrament of reconciliation to recover this state, not as his own merit but as a gift, as a gift that God offers him in the sacramental form. Access to Eucharistic communion certainly presupposes the life of grace, it presupposes communion in the ecclesial body, it also presupposes an ordered life in keeping with the ecclesial body in order to be able to say “Amen.” Saint Paul insists on the fact that he who eats the bread and drinks the wine of the Lord unworthily will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord (1 Cor 11:27).

St. Augustine affirms that “he who created you without you will not save you without you” (Sermo 169). God asks for my collaboration. A collaboration that is also his gift, but that implies my acceptance of this gift.

If things were different, we could fall into the temptation of conceiving of the Christian life in the manner of automatic realities. Forgiveness, for example, would become something mechanical, almost a demand, not a question that also depends on me, since I must realize it. I would then go to communion without the required state of grace and without approaching the sacrament of reconciliation. I would take it for granted, without any proof of this on the basis of the Word of God, that the forgiveness of my sins has been granted to me privately through this communion itself. But this is a false concept of God, it is tempting God. And it also brings with it a false concept of man, with an undervaluation of that which God can bring about within him.


Strictly speaking, we Catholics have no reason to celebrate October 31, 1517, the date that is considered the beginning of the Reformation that would lead to the rupture of Western Christianity.

If we are convinced that divine revelation is preserved whole and unchanged through Scripture and Tradition, in the doctrine of the faith, in the sacraments, in the hierarchical constitution of the Church by divine right, founded on the sacrament of holy orders, we cannot accept that there exist sufficient reasons to separate from the Church.

The members of the Protestant ecclesial communities look at this event from a different perspective, because they think that it is the opportune moment to celebrate the rediscovery of the “pure Word of God," which they presume to have been disfigured throughout history by merely human traditions. The Protestant reformers arrived at the conclusion, five hundred years ago, that some Church hierarchs were not only morally corrupt, but had also distorted the Gospel and, as a result, had blocked the path of salvation for believers toward Jesus Christ. To justify the separation they accused the pope, the presumed head of this system, of being the Antichrist.

How can the ecumenical dialogue with the evangelical communities be carried forward today in a realistic way? The theologian Karl-Heinz Menke is speaking the truth when he asserts that the relativization of the truth and the acritical adoption of modern ideologies are the principal obstacle toward union in the truth.

In this sense, a Protestantization of the Catholic Church on the basis of a secular vision without reference to transcendence not only cannot reconcile us with the Protestants, but also cannot allow an encounter with the mystery of Christ, because in Him we are repositories of a supernatural revelation to which all of us owe total obedience of intellect and will (cf. “Dei Verbum,” 5).

I think that the Catholic principles of ecumenism, as they were proposed and developed by the decree of Vatican Council II, are still entirely valid (cf. “Unitatis Redintegratio,” 2-4). On the other hand, I am convinced that the document of the congregation for the doctrine of the faith “Dominus Iesus,” of the holy year of 2000, not understood by many and unjustly rejected by others, is without a doubt the magna carta against the Christological and ecclesiological relativism of this time of such confusion.


The question of whether women's priesthood is a disciplinary matter that the Church could simply change does not hold up, since this is a matter that has already been decided.

Pope Francis has been clear, just as his predecessors were. In this regard, I recall that Saint John Paul II, at no. 4 of the 1994 apostolic exhortation “Ordinatio Sacerdotalis,” reinforced with the royal plural (“declaramus”), in the only document in which that pope used this verb form, that it is a doctrine defined as infallibly taught by the ordinary universal magisterium (can. 750 § 2 CIC) that the Church has no authority to admit women to the priesthood.

It is up to the Magisterium to decide if a question is dogmatic or disciplinary; in this case, the Church has already decided that this proposal is dogmatic and that, being of divine law, it cannot be changed or even reviewed. This could be justified with many reasons, like fidelity to the example of the Lord or the normative character of the age-old practice of the Church, but I do not believe that this matter must be discussed again in depth, since the documents that deal with it sufficiently present the reasons to reject this possibility.

I do not want to fail to point out that there is an essential equality between man and woman on the level of nature, and also in relation with God through grace (cf. Gal 3:28). But the priesthood implies a sacramental symbolization of the relationship of Christ, head or bridegroom, with the Church, body or bride. Women can have, without any problem, many positions in the Church: in this regard, I gladly take the opportunity to thank publicly the large group of lay and religious women, some of them with specialized university degrees, who lend their indispensable collaboration in the congregation for the doctrine of the faith.

On the other hand, it would not be serious to advance proposals in this regard on the basis of mere human calculations, saying for example that “if we open the priesthood to women we will overcome the problem of vocations” or “if we accept women’s priesthood we would present a more modern image to the world.”

I believe that this way of presenting the debate is very superficial, ideological, and above all anti-ecclesial, because it neglects to say that this is a matter of a dogmatic question already defined by those who have the task of doing so, and not a merely disciplinary matter.


Priestly celibacy, so contested in certain present-day ecclesiastical circles, has its roots in the Gospels as an evangelical counsel, but also has an intrinsic relationship with the ministry of the priest.

The priest is more than a religious functionary who has been given a mission independent of his life. His life is in close relationship with his evangelical mission, and therefore, in Pauline reflection as also in the Gospels themselves, clearly the evangelical counsel appears connected to the figure of the ministers chosen by Jesus. The apostles, in order to follow Christ, have left all human security behind them, and in particular their respective spouses. In this regard, Saint Paul speaks to us of his personal experience in 1 Cor 7:7, where he seems to consider celibacy as a particular charism that he has received.

Currently, the link between celibacy and the priesthood as a special gift from God through which the sacred ministers can more easily unite themselves with Christ with an undivided heart (can. 277 § 1 CIC; "Pastores Dabo Vobis", 29), is found in the whole universal Church, although in different forms. In the Eastern Church, as we know, it concerns only the priesthood of the bishop; but the very fact that it is demanded for them indicates to us that this Church does not conceive of it as an external discipline.

In the aforementioned atmosphere of the contestation of celibacy, the following analogy is very widespread. A few years ago it would have been unimaginable for a woman to become a soldier, while today, instead, modern armies count a great number of women soldiers,  entirely fit for a task traditionally considered as exclusively masculine. Could the same thing not happen with celibacy? Is it not a longstanding custom of the past that must be reviewed?

Nonetheless the substance of military activity, apart from a few questions of a practical nature, does not demand that the army belong to a certain sex; while the priesthood is instead in intimate connection with celibacy. Vatican Council II and other more recent magisterial documents teach such a conformity or internal adaptation between celibacy and priesthood that the Church of the Latin rite does not feel that it has the faculty to change this doctrine with an arbitrary decision that would break with the progressive development, lasting centuries, of canonical regulation, beginning from the moment in which this internal bond was recognized, prior to the aforementioned legislation. We cannot break unilaterally with a whole series of declarations of popes and councils, nor with the firm and constant adherence of the Catholic Church to the image of the celibate priest.

The crisis of celibacy in the Latin Catholic Church has been a recurrent issue in especially difficult moments in the Church. To cite a few examples, we could recall the times of the Protestant Reformation, those of the French Revolution, and more recently the years of the sexual revolution, in the ’60’s and ’70’s of the past century. But if there is something we can learn from studying the history of the Church and of its institutions, it is that these crises have always demonstrated and reinforced the goodness of the doctrine of celibacy.

CRUX: Perhaps Pope Francis should ask, “Who Am I to Fudge?”

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 3- "On Exile or Pilgrimage"

10. Be on the look-out for this trick and wile of the thieves. For they suggest to us that we need not separate ourselves from people in the world, and maintain that we shall receive a great reward if we can look upon women and still remain continent. We must not believe these suggestions, but rather the opposite.

April 4, 2016  

(Mat 5:14-16) You are the light of the world. A city seated on a mountain cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel, but upon a candlestick, that it may shine to all that are in the house. So let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

EXCERPT VATICAN RADIO: Pope at Divine Mercy Mass: Be Apostles of mercy

“Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book” (Jn 20:30).  The Gospel is the book of God’s mercy, to be read and reread, because everything that Jesus said and did is an expression of the Father’s mercy.  Not everything, however, was written down; the Gospel of mercy remains an open book, in which the signs of Christ’s disciples, which are concrete acts of love and the best witness to mercy, continue to be written.  We are all called to become living writers of the Gospel, heralds of the Good News to all men and women today.  We do this by practicing the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, which are the hallmarks of the Christian life.  By means of these simple yet powerful gestures, even when unseen, we can accompany the needy, bringing God’s tenderness and consolation.  Thus continues the work of Jesus on Easter day, when he poured into the hearts of his fearful disciples the Father’s mercy, bringing them the Holy Spirit who forgives sins and brings joy.

In God’s mercy, all of our infirmities find healing.  His mercy, in fact, does not keep a distance: it seeks to encounter all forms of poverty and to free this world of so many types of slavery.  Mercy desires to reach the wounds of all, to heal them. Being apostles of mercy means touching and soothing the wounds that today afflict the bodies and souls of many of our brothers and sisters.  Curing these wounds, we profess Jesus, we make him present and alive; we allow others, who touch his mercy with their own hands, to recognize him as “Lord and God” (Jn 20:28), as did the Apostle Thomas.  This is the mission that he entrusts to us.  So many people ask to be listened to and to be understood.  The Gospel of mercy, to be proclaimed and written in our daily lives, seeks people with patient and open hearts, “good Samaritans” who understand compassion and silence before the mystery of each brother and sister.  The Gospel of mercy requires generous and joyful servants, people who love freely without expecting anything in return.

“Peace be with you!” (Jn 20:21) is the greeting of Jesus to his disciples; this same peace awaits men and women of our own day.  It is not a negotiated peace, it is not the absence of conflict: it is his peace, the peace that comes from the heart of the Risen Lord, the peace that has defeated sin, fear and death.  It is a peace that does not divide but unites; it is a peace that does not abandon us but makes us feel listened to and loved; it is a peace that persists even in pain and enables hope to blossom.  This peace, as on the day of Easter, is born ever anew by the forgiveness of God which calms our anxious hearts.  To be bearers of his peace: this is the mission entrusted to the Church on Easter day.  In Christ, we are born to be instruments of reconciliation, to bring the Father’s forgiveness to everyone, to reveal his loving face through concrete gestures of mercy".

FIDES.ORG: "Mission Sonshine ": Jesus Christ the Son of God is the light of the world

Mumbai (Agenzia Fides) - It is a very old church, older than the Taj Mahal in Agra, and one of the oldest churches in Mumbai: the church of St. Andrew in Bandra celebrates its 400th anniversary in 2016. The church was built twenty years earlier, in 1595, by the Portuguese Jesuits, in the maritime area and has always had an original feature: by a manmade miracle of architecture, the sunray’s focus upon the holy cross through a skylight on equinox days (March 21) and winter (September 22).

This phenomenon did not remain just an astronomical data or a curiosity but, as Fr. Magi Murzello explains to Fides, gave rise to an initiative of evangelization: the "Mission Sonshine ". "We want to say that Jesus Christ the Son of God is the light of the world and our mission is to transmit the Light of Christ to the world", notes the priest.

The typical solar phenomenon, therefore, becomes the occasion for initiatives of prayer, evangelization and catechesis, thanks to a "team of Sonshine mission", that operates at a creative and educational level.

MEDITATION: Thoughts by St Theophan (1815-1894)

[Heb. 4:14–5:6; Mark 8:34–9:1]

Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me (Mark 8:34). It is impossible to follow the Lord as a crossbearer without a cross, and everyone who follows Him, unfailingly goes with a cross. What is this cross? It is all sorts of inconveniences, burdens and sorrows — weighing heavily both internally and externally — along the path of conscientious fulfilment of the commandments of the Lord, in a life according to the spirit of His instructions and demands.

Such a cross is so much a part of a Christian that wherever there is a Christian, there is this cross, and where there is no such cross, there is no Christian. Abundant privileges and a life of pleasure do not suit a true Christian. His task is to cleanse and reform himself. He is like a sick person, who needs cauterization, or amputation; how can this be without pain? He wants to tear himself away from the captivity of a strong enemy; but how can this be without struggle and wounds? He must walk counter to all practices surrounding him; but how can he sustain this without inconvenience and constraint?

Rejoice as you feel the cross upon yourself, for it is a sign that you are following the Lord on the path of salvation which leads to heaven. Endure a bit. The end is just around the corner, as well as the crowns!

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 3- "On Exile or Pilgrimage"

9. Run from places of sin as from the plague. For when fruit is not present, we have no frequent desire to eat it.
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Jubilee 2000: Bringing the World to Jesus

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