Keep your eyes open!...


August 31, 2009    

(Joh 3:29-30) He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, who standeth and heareth Him, rejoiceth with joy because of the bridegroom's voice. This my joy therefore is fulfilled. He must increase: but I must decrease.


Reflection by Father Ted – August 29, 2009

Help me, dearest Jesus, help us to do what You want us to do. Help us to have the courage, to have the love for Your people that John the Baptist had – whose martyrdom we celebrated today.

He had love for his king. And because of that love for him – for his eternal salvation, John was not afraid to tell King Herod that it for was wrong for him to live with the wife of his own brother.

Because he spoke out even publicly, John was put into prison – to silence him.

Yet even in prison he did not keep silent.

The king visited him – how many times, we do not know. But what we do know is that John spoke to him about his, the king’s own immoral behavior.

The king did not want to hear what John said. Yet he knew that what John said was the truth. He knew that John spoke the truth because of his love for him.

John had courage. John loved.

Do I, Lord, have such courage? Do I have such love?

Am I willing to speak out the truth to my brothers and sisters in love? Even when they do not want to hear the truth?

Sometimes, I have.

You know that.

And yet, sometimes I have not.

You know that, too.

When I have not, has that been because I was afraid?

I wish that I could say – no. But would I not be kidding myself?

When I remain silent when You want me to speak out, I do not love my brothers and sisters as You want me too.

Lord, give me the grace; give me the strength that I need; give me the courage that I need to speak out in love to these brothers and sisters of mine, Your beloved children – when You want me to – for their salvation.

Help me, Lord, to do Your Will as did Saint John the Baptist.

Saint John, pray for me!

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 22- "On the many forms of vainglory"

13. I have seen people mourning who, on being praised, flared up in anger; and as at a public gathering one passion gave place to another.

August 27, 2009    


(John 14:6) Jesus saith to him: I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No man cometh to the Father, but by me.

INTERMOUNTAIN CATHOLIC: Make death your friend and live life to the fullest, says deacon

CATHOLICISM.ORG: There Is a Hell, and It Makes Perfect Sense

There's Only One Way to Heaven
By the late Father Kilian McGowan, C.P.

Of al the possible questions, the one that begs for a most definite answer is this: "What is the surest way to eternal life?" The answer was given by our Blessed Lord to Saint Thomas at the Last Supper.

During His Last Supper, Christ had been predicting His departure when He suddenly added: "And where I go you know, and the way you know." Thomas quickly interrupted: "Lord, we do not know where you are going, and how can we know the way?" Jesus answered: "I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father but through me." (John 14:4-6)

One of the most basic truths of the spiritual life is that Jesus is the Way of God. He is not one of many ways-He is the ONLY way! It is simply impossible to overstress this truth! Yet, some of us are like Thomas. Despite our Christian background, we say: "Lord, how can we know the way?" The spiritual life is a very personal business between the soul and God. It is more Someone than something. It is more Someone to become than some things to be done. For Christianity is Christ! All progress in the Christian life must be measured by our increasing knowledge, love, and imitation of Jesus Christ. "This is eternal life to know Thee, the one true God, and Jesus Christ Whom Thou has sent."

The Christian life is more a "putting-on" of Christ than a putting off of sin-even though the two-fold effort is inseparable. The task of becoming more Christlike is chief asceticism of each Christian. It is better to look at Christ rather than ourselves, and to see ourselves only in contrast to Him.

There are three stages in the formation of a Christ-like character. The first is the STUDY of Christ. There can be no progress unless Our Lord becomes the chief study of our lives. You should have a good working knowledge of the historical Christ, and be well acquainted with all the events of His Life.

The second stage is closely related to the preceding-it is PRAYERFUL MEDITATION on Christ. Through this prayer, strive to penetrate more deeply into mysteries of His life. There ponder His words, study His actions, witness His miracles, and strive for a greater insight into the motives and sentiments of His Sacred Heart.

Third there is the IMITATION of Christ. You will make much greater progress by the positive effort of imitating His virtue than by trying to root out your faults and failings. You will discover that the more faithful you are to the will of God, the greater the revelation God makes of Himself in the depths of your heart.

And don't be discouraged if at first you seem so unlike your divine Model. Be encouraged rather, by the words of the Apostle Paul who tells us to glory in our infirmities that the power of Christ might dwell in us.

Your weakness is an invitation to His strength, your littleness calls out to His greatness. Your nothingness is irresistible to His "allness." Your very need of Him is the perfect complement to His infinite desire to give Himself. He is more than the Way-He is the Savior!

Our Blessed Lord is the Only Way that leads to eternal life. And Study-Prayer-and Imitation are indispensable means for putting us on the way and making progress along the way. This is the plan produced by the wisdom of God. Let us follow no other!

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 22- "On the many forms of vainglory"

12. People of high spirit bear offence nobly and gladly, but only the holy and righteous can pass through praise without harm.

August 26, 2009    

COMMENTARY: A Gruesome Harvest- Aborted Fetuses and Their Organs by Chuck Colson

For years, scientists and celebrities supporting embryo-destructive stem cell research have used two arguments. First-blind to the destruction of the embryo itself-they argue embryonic stem cell research will save lives. Second, they maintain that embryos leftover from fertility treatments will otherwise be wasted.

Now, one stem-cell expert is using these same arguments to promote harvesting organs from aborted fetuses.

Speaking at a conference in March, Oxford University stem-cell expert Sir Richard Gardner commented that he was surprised the possibility had not been considered, and that experiments in mice have shown that fetal kidneys grow extremely quickly when transplanted to adult animals

As reported in the UK's Daily Mail, Sir Richard, an advisor to Britain's Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority sees this ghastly practice as a potential solution to the shortage of donated organs-and to what we are learning about the ineffectiveness of embryonic stem cells.

While advocates of using embryonic stem cells have long hailed them as the El Dorado of disease prevention, they're not. Sir Richard calls the creation of fully functioning organs from embryonic stem cells "remote."

Gardner isn't a lone voice in this ethical wasteland. King's College professor Stuart Campbell did not object. Speaking of the many babies aborted late in term, he said, "If they are going to be terminated, it is a shame to waste their organs." He added, "I am sure very few of those on the transplant list would rather die than accept an organ from an aborted fetus."

Here in the United States, bioethicist Jacob Appel, writing on the subject in the Huffington Post, states, "The first striking feature of fetal organs is that their unlimited...pregnant women who provide fetal kidneys could do so repeatedly."


IN THE NEWS: Scientists Herald Non-Embryonic Stem Cell Breakthroughs

VATICAN RADIO: Adult stem cell therapy welcomed by the Vatican

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 22- "On the many forms of vainglory"

11. The flatterer is a servant of devils, a guide to pride, a destroyer of contrition, a ruiner of virtues, a misleader. Those who pronounce you blessed, lead you astray, says the prophet.

August 25, 2009     

(Mat 7:13-14) Enter ye in at the narrow gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there are who go in thereat. How narrow is the gate, and strait is the way that leadeth to life: and few there are that find it!

POPE BENEDICT XVI: Following Jesus Means Going Against the Trend

Following Jesus "fills hearts with joy and the full meaning of existence, but it also brings difficulties and sacrifices because very often it means going against the trend" of modern global mentality. That is how Benedict XVI concluded his reflections on the Sunday Gospel (the final part of the 6th chapter of John), when Jesus, after his speech on the "bread of life come down from heaven" meets great resistance among the Jews and the disciples. 

"The fourth Evangelist - explained the pope - relates the reaction of the people and disciples, shocked by the words of the Lord, to the point that many, after having followed him until then, exclaim: 'This saying is hard; who can accept it?' (V. 60). And from that moment on 'many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him' (v. 66). Jesus, however, does not lessen his claim, indeed, he directly addresses the Twelve saying: 'Will you also go away?' (V. 67). 

"This provocative question - continued the pope - is not only addressed to listeners of the time, but to believers and men of every age. Even today, many are 'shocked' by the paradox of the Christian faith. Jesus' teaching seems too 'hard', too difficult to accept and put into practice. As a result there are those who reject and abandon Christ; those who attempt to 'adapt' his teachings to the fashions of the times distorting its meaning and value. 'Will you also go away?'. This unsettling provocation resounds in our hearts and awaits a response from each one of us. Jesus in fact is not contented by a merely superficial or formal belonging, an initial and enthusiastic adhesion is not enough for Him; on the contrary, we must take part in 'his thinking and his will' throughout our entire life. Following Jesus "fills hearts with joy and the full meaning of existence, but it also brings difficulties and sacrifices because very often it means going against the trend".


The Cardinals and Bishops members of the Congregation voted almost unanimously in favor of a greater sacrality of the rite, of the recovery of the sense of Eucharistic worship, of the recovery of the Latin language in the celebration, and of the remaking of the introductory parts of the Missal in order to put a stop to abuses, wild experimentations, and inappropriate creativity. They have also declared themselves favorable to reaffirm that the usual way of receiving Communion according to the norms is not on the hand, but in the mouth. There is, it is true, and indult which, on request of the [local] episcopates, allows for the distribution of the host [sic] also on the palm of the hand, but this must remain an extraordinary fact. The "Liturgy Minister" of Pope Ratzinger, Caņizares, is also having studies made on the possibility to recover the orientation towards the Orient of the celebrant, at least at the moment of the eucharistic consecration, as it happened in practice before the reform, when both the faithful and the priest faced towards the Cross and the priest therefore turned his back to the assembly.

UCCB: Web site launched to educate Catholics about Missal translation

CHURCH IN CRISIS: Catholics look to reinvigorate church

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 22- "On the many forms of vainglory"

10. God often hides from our eyes even those perfections that we have obtained. But he who praises us or, rather, misleads us, opens our eyes by his praise, and as soon as our eyes are opened, our treasure vanishes.

August 21, 2009     


(Mat 5:3) Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

LINK: Poverty in the Modern World by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.

VIA Philip:
10 Suggestions to Help Develop a Healthy Self-Image

Here are 10 suggestions to help you develop and maintain a healthy self-image. Read them slowly. Meditate on them regularly.

1. Hate your sin, but never hate yourself.

2. Be quick to repent.

3. When God gives you light, walk in it.

4. Stop saying negative things about yourself. God loves you and it's wrong to hate what He loves. He has great plans for you, so you're in conflict with Him when you speak negatively concerning your future.

5. Never be afraid to admit that you've made a mistake and don't always assume that when things go wrong, it must be 'my fault'.

6. Don't meditate excessively on what you've done, right or wrong; both of these activities keep your mind on you! Center your thoughts on Christ.

7. Take good care of yourself physically. Make the best of what God gave you to work with, but don't be obsessed with your appearance.

8. Never stop learning but don't allow your education to become a point of pride. God doesn't use you because of what's in your head: He uses you because of what's in your heart.

9. Realize that your talents are a gift, not something you have manufactured yourself; never look down on people who can't do what you do.

10. Don't despise your weaknesses they keep you dependent on God.

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 22- "On the many forms of vainglory"

8. A vainglorious ascetic is cheated both ways: he exhausts his body, and he gets no reward.

August 20, 2009

EXCERPT ARCHBISHOP CHAPUT: Act now to ensure health care reform respects sanctity of life

For months now, Congress and the White House have talked about the need for Americans to seek "common ground" on the issues that face us.  This is a very welcome theme.

The "common good" and "common ground" are central messages in Catholic social teaching.  This is why the Church always seeks to work cooperatively with people of other faiths and no faith to secure the basic elements of human dignity for all our citizens—decent housing, a living wage, justice under the law and adequate food and health care.  It's why America's Catholic bishops have pushed for national health care reform for the past several decades.  It's also why the Church, in principle, supports current efforts to craft legislation that would ensure basic health care coverage for all Americans.

But God, or the devil, is always in the details. As Scripture says, "You will know them by their fruits" (Mt 7:20).  The test of White House and congressional honesty about seeking "common ground" will be the details of the health care plan being worked on this summer and fall.  The whole meaning of "health care" would be subverted by any plan that involves mandated abortion access or abortion funding.  The reason is obvious.  Killing or funding the killing of unborn children has nothing to do with promoting human health, and including these things in any "health care" proposal, no matter how shrewdly hidden, would simply be a form of lying.

In speaking for the American Catholic community, both Bishop William Murphy and Cardinal Justin Rigali of the USCCB have already voiced strong concerns about a possible stealth mandate for abortion carried out through national health care. A so-called "compromise" solution currently offered by Rep. Lois Capps (D-CA) would seemingly ban abortion coverage as part of a federally mandated minimum benefits package. But it would require at least one insurance plan in each "premium rating area" to cover abortion.  In its effect, the Capps approach would lead to elective abortion being covered under a government-operated public plan by allowing federal subsidies to flow to private insurance plans that cover elective abortion.  This isn't a compromise.  It's a shell game.

As the summer draws to a close, it's very important for Colorado Catholics to contact their federal lawmakers immediately and demand that abortion and abortion funding be completely excluded from any national health care plan.  A few key principles should guide the development of any health care reform legislation, especially in light of the mixed and sobering track record of national health plans in other countries:

• It should provide access to basic, quality health services for all persons, from conception to natural death, with a special concern for the poor, elderly and disabled, and the  inclusion of legal immigrants;

 • It should protect the conscience rights of individuals and religious institutions;

• It should exclude all so-called "services" that involve violence against the dignity of the human person, such abortion, physician-assisted suicide and their funding;

• It should be economically realistic and sustainable, with costs spread equitably across all taxpayers.
LINK: USCCB on Health Care

VIEWPOINT: What message should Catholics send Congress on health care reform?

NEWSMAX: Catholics Fight Against Abortion in Obamacare Bills

LIFESITE.COM: Bishop Nickless: "No Health Care Reform is Better than the Wrong Health Care Reform"

"HISTORY PLACE": Homily by Catholic Cardinal Clemens von Galen, delivered on Sunday, August 3, 1941, in which he risked his life by openly condemning the Nazi euthanasia program

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 22- "On the many forms of vainglory"

7. Every lover of self-display is vainglorious.  The fast of the vainglorious person is without reward and his prayer is futile, because he does both for the praise of men.

August 19, 2009

(Luk 18:7-8) And will not God revenge his elect who cry to him day and night? And will he have patience in their regard? I say to you that he will quickly revenge them. But yet the Son of man, when he cometh, shall he find, think you, faith on earth?

HEADLINE: Poland marks the Assumption with a secular Madonna

Madonna's Saturday night concert in Warsaw coincided with an important day for another Madonna - the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into heaven. That was a source of dismay to some ultra-Catholic Poles but did not seem to perturb the tens of thousands of cheerful fans who attended the concert.

"I'm a practising Catholic but I don't think there's anything wrong with going to the concert tonight," said a grinning young woman, clutching her white Madonna ticket as she pushed past a single protester decked out in signs condemning the event.

The failure of the protests to gain much support is another sign of the growing secularisation of Polish society, which has come to light in the Catholic Church's recent head counts of the faithful.

The most recent, last November, found 40 per cent of adults in the pews - a percentage that would be beyond the dreams of many non-Polish churchmen. But in Poland the figure is seen as a grim warning because it marks a 4 percentage point decline from a year earlier and more than a 6 percentage point drop from 2003.

That does not mean Polish churches are emptying. The norm is still standing-room-only Masses in churches across the country, and the crosses and statues of saints dotting roadsides across Poland are still decorated with fluttering ribbons tended by the pious.

But there are signs that something may be shifting. Surveys show that while 95 per cent of Poles identify themselves as Catholics, only 70 per cent believe in heaven, and one of the lowest birth rates in Europe suggests the Church's teachings on sexual issues are taken with a pinch of salt.

Another disconcerting statistic for the Church is the decline in young men and women deciding to become priests, monks or nuns. In 2004 there were 2,178 in their first year of religious studies; last year there were only 1,382, a drop of almost 37 per cent.

"We are observing a steady decline, which you can see in vocations and in general religiousness," says Bishop Wojciech Polak.

: The article below on Crisis of Vocations is quite interesting. But when one is living in a very secular society and people do not know what it truly means to "live in the world but not of it," and as such, they are as worldly as everyone else, you will have hardly any vocations.
I have recently been reading a book (not that long, only about 141 pages) on Blessed Euphemia of Serbia; The Life of an Apostolic Eldress." She was an Orthodox Eldress who died in 1958 (so not so long ago). The book is utterly fascinating and has many very good commentaries and good sense. I happened to read this from the book:
"By her radiant life, Mother attracted  to her community a large number of those seeking salvation."
" the center of Serbia, where there were still...children who were raised for the monastery."
When you think about the above information, well, this should truly tell us all something. Children raised for monastic life? Think about that one.

From the back of the cover of the book, let me provide what it says:
"By their nature, women are called by God to reflect the spirit of other-worldliness in this temporal world. Although often hidden from common view, by virtue of their humility, holy and righteous women have spiritually illumined the path to the heavenly realm in all times. Among them shines the image of this modern day heroine, Blessed Euphemia of Ravanitsa, as it is presented in this biography lovingly written by her devoted spiritual daughters. Mother Euphemia had a wondrous charm and power of spirit. Her external appearance was a reflection of her prayerful disposition. Her outward activity was boundless. As a young lay ascetic she preached the Word of God from village to village; she guided her large sisterhood and hundreds of lay people through the physical and spiritual dangers of two World Wars and the communist yoke; she founded orphanages; educated the young; and translated patristic texts for the spiritual instruction of her people. Inwardly, Abbess Euphemia lived in the spirit of the ancient desert Fathers, in fasting, all-night vigils and sleeping only in a sitting position. For this, God granted her the gifts of clairvoyence and healing. A renewer of six monasteries, she re-established coenobitic monastic life in her country to such an extent that the monastic rule which she instituted was used in women's monasteries all over Serbia.

Who, in the US would be ever willing to be like her?  Yet, this is what is needed. And true Catholics should be totally honored to have their children become priests and sisters/nuns. Yet...are they? One cannot be deeply in the world and also of it, and think that vocations will abound. It isn't possible. Naturally, a good starting place would be in the Catholic schools, yet from what I have heard from many different people, what is being taught in the religious instruction is not very good. I've heard that alot.  Yet, the best place to begin a serious spiritual life must begin within a home.  Every home (like in many villages in Central Europe even today) should have a prayer corner where the fmaily gets together and prays daily. But, if there is no time for God because Johnny has to go here and there, and Mary has to go thither and yon, well then, there is no time for God because 'everyone is too busy'  and a child has no time for the silence needed to 'listen to what God wants of him or her"  (God's will, not one's own foolish thinking). As such, how are vocations going to ever begin, let alone grow, when there is constant noise, interruptions, constant going and moving, computers and TV (which is just about worthless), and goodness only knows what.

What is needed is to go back to the beginning and start all over again. Go back to customs and old traditions. Go back to those wonderful evening Masses with their novenas, rosaries, and children's processions.  Go back to family gatherings, and not all the so called 'busy' stuff which as St. Paul states, means nothing. Without the above, vocations will not increase.

AKITA PRAYER: "Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, truly present in Holy Eucharist, I consecrate my body and soul to be entirely one with Your Heart, being sacrificed at every instant on all the altars of the world and giving praise to the Father pleading for the coming of His Kingdom."

"Please receive this humble offering of myself. Use me as You will for the glory of the Father and the salvation of souls."

"Most holy Mother of God, never let me be separated from Your Divine Son. Please defend and protect me as Your Special Child. Amen."

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 22- "On the many forms of vainglory"

6. A vainglorious person is a believing idolater; he apparently honours God, but he wants to please not God but men.

August 18, 2009    

(Luk 9:23-24) And he said to all: If any man will come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: for he that shall lose his life for my sake shall save it.

POPE BENEDICT XVI: Like Mary, we are all called to say yes to God

IN THE NEWS: Catholic study points to crisis in vocations

U.S. Catholic religious communities are attracting more ethnically and culturally diverse members now than in previous generations, according to an in-depth survey released Aug. 11.

The "Study of Recent Vocations to Religious Life" also showed that most U.S. religious communities report diminishing numbers with aging populations, but at the same time indicated those who are choosing religious life today are passionate about it and some orders are cultivating vocations from the millennial generation.

With less than 10 percent of women religious and 25 percent of men religious under the age of 60, it's imperative that U.S. religious communities figure out effective methods of recruitment, said Mercy Sister Mary Bendyna, executive director of the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate and principal author of the study.

RELATED: The Catholic Church Calls For Priests

VATICAN CONGREGATION: Letter to Permanent Deacons


QUOTE FROM FATHER CORAPI: "My job is to confirm you in the faith, educate and inspire. Then it is your mission to be the salt of the earth and light of the world. It isn't easy, I know."

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 22- "On the many forms of vainglory"

4. Observe and you will find unholy vainglory abounding till the very grave in clothes, oils, servants, perfumes and the like. 
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