Keep your eyes open!...


February 27, 2017  

(Mat 25:37-40) Then shall the just answer him, saying: Lord, when did we see thee hungry and fed thee: thirsty and gave thee drink? Or when did we see thee a stranger and took thee in? Or naked and covered thee? Or when did we see thee sick or in prison and came to thee? And the king answering shall say to them: Amen I say to you, as long as you did it to one of these my least brethren, you did it to me.

ARCHBISHOP AUZA: “Concerning the conflict in Ukraine, which continues to cause grave concern since it began in 2014, the Holy See underscores once again that all necessary steps should be taken to enforce the ceasefire and to implement the measures agreed upon.  These efforts should be accompanied by the sincere commitment of all involved parties to respecting all fundamental human rights and restoring stability at the national and international levels, not least by respecting international legality with regard to Ukraine’s territory and borders.”

CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE: Help stop war in Ukraine, aid children in need, says church leader

The head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church called on the international community to “stop the aggressor” in Ukraine’s “forgotten conflict” and help the 1 million children in need of urgent humanitarian assistance.

“I am appealing to the international community to defend Ukrainian children, victims of war, keeping in mind that in our country we are experiencing a humanitarian emergency in Europe that has not been experienced since the Second World War,” said Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of Kiev-Halych, head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church.

Despite efforts the past three years, a “stable cease-fire” has never been achieved, “therefore, we ask international organizations to continue diplomatic approaches to stop the aggressor and end the war so that true peace can be reached,” he said in a written statement received by Catholic News Service Feb. 22.

The archbishop made the appeal after UNICEF released report Feb. 17 saying that 1 million children in Ukraine were in urgent need of humanitarian aid — nearly double the number of kids in need the same time last year.

The increased numbers were due to the ongoing fighting and deteriorating economic situation of families, loss of housing and reduced access to health care and education, the report said. One in five schools in eastern Ukraine have been damaged or destroyed.

“Hundreds of daily cease-fire violations put children’s physical safety and psychological well-being at risk,” the UNICEF report said. Thousands of children face the danger of landmines and unexploded ordinance as well as active shelling in their neighborhoods, it said.

“Teachers, psychologists and parents report signs of severe psychosocial distress among children including nightmares, aggression, social withdrawal and panic triggered by loud noises,” it said.

In his appeal, Archbishop Shevchuk said the Catholic Church has a moral obligation to speak up for the voiceless, particularly the children.

“The increasingly tragic situation of the nation — there are 1.7 million people displaced — remains invisible in the eyes of the general public,” he said. Such tragedy, he said, “cannot and must not remain invisible.”

NATIONAL REVIEW: Bitter Harvest and the Bitter Present in Ukraine


Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 11- "On talkativeness and silence"

3. Intelligent silence is the mother of prayer, a recall from captivity, preservation of fire, an overseer of thoughts, a watch against enemies, a prison of mourning, a friend of tears, effective remembrance of death, a depicter of punishment, a delver into judgment, a minister of sorrow, an enemy of freedom of speech, a companion of stillness, an opponent of desire to teach, increase of knowledge, a creator of divine vision, unseen progress, secret ascent.

February 23, 2017

(Act 9:3-7) And as he went on his journey, it came to pass that he drew nigh to Damascus. And suddenly a light from heaven shined round about him. And falling on the ground, he heard a voice saying to him: Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? Who said: Who art thou, Lord? And he: I am Jesus whom thou persecutest. It is hard for thee to kick against the goad. And he, trembling and astonished, said: Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said to him: Arise and go into the city; and there it shall be told thee what thou must do.

JUSTICE ANTONIN SCALIA: The method of killing a human child-one cannot even accurately say an entirely unborn human child-proscribed by this statute is so horrible that the most clinical description of it evokes a shudder of revulsion. . . . The notion that the Constitution of the United States, designed, among other things, "to establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, . . . and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity," prohibits the States from simply banning this visibly brutal means of eliminating our half-born posterity is quite simply absurd.

NEWS LINK: After Abortion: Born Alive, Abortion Survivors Speak Up For Those Who Can't

CONSERVATIVE REVIEW: Redemption after abortion is possible: The life of Roe v. Wade's Norma McCorvey

PRIEST'S FOR LIFE: Remembering Norma McCorvey, the Former 'Jane Roe' of Roe v. Wade

ACN: In Russia, Orthodox and Catholics are 'saving unborn children together'

Q: The Foreign Office of the Moscow Patriarchate held an international seminar at the end of January, during which the Orthodox and Catholic churches jointly addressed the issue of abortion. What was accomplished?

A: Both Churches share a deep anxiety in the face of the million-fold killing of unborn children. When Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill of Moscow met in Havana one year ago, the protection of life—besides the persecution of Christians in the Middle East—was one of the most important issues mentioned in their joint declaration. The Moscow seminar was thus a direct result of this historic meeting.

The protection of life is an issue on which the two Churches completely agree, also in terms of theology. This makes it easy to take joint, concrete steps in the spirit of ecumenism. The seminar focused on analyzing the situation, but also and particularly on finding solutions. The seminar was a platform for personal encounters and for an intense and constructive exchange of experiences. The Catholic Church has vast international experience on this front and the Orthodox Church can learn from this.

Q: Why is this issue such an important one for the church in Russia at the moment?

A: Unfortunately, abortion is very prevalent in Russia. This can be traced back to Soviet times, when many people considered abortion to be a sort of “normal” form of family planning. Unfortunately, this mentality is still deeply rooted. The Orthodox Church has always spoken out against abortion, of course, as did its Catholic sister Church.

But now there is a growing awareness that concrete deeds and initiatives need to be developed to help the women. On the whole, the Russian people are beginning to become aware of this problem—if for no other reason than the low birth rate in Russia, as well as across the Western world.

Q: What is the role of ACN?

ACN has already been working for a quarter of a century to set up a dialogue with the Russian Orthodox Church. Saint John Paul II gave our founder Father Werenfried van Straaten this assignment in 1992. The unheard-of sacrifices the Orthodox Church in Russia had to make during Soviet times had prompted this request.

A: In the wake of the fall of the Soviet Union, the Orthodox Church practically had to start at zero again. And that was the moment to initiate an “ecumenism of solidarity” on all levels to follow the “ecumenism of the martyrs” that had been lived out by the Christians of various denominations in the Soviet camps and prisons.

Bear in mind that Vatican II referred to the Russian Orthodox Church as a “sister Church.” ACN has the privilege of being able to continue in the role of “bridge builder” and to help develop and fund joint projects.

How Fr. Dmitry Smirnov Convinces Women Not to Have an Abortion, and Ten Questions That Can Keep a Woman From Abortion

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 11- "On talkativeness and silence"

2. Talkativeness is the throne of vainglory, on which it loves to show itself and make a display. Talkativeness is a sign of ignorance, a door to slander, an inducement to jesting, a servant of falsehood, the ruin of compunction, a creator and summoner of despondency, a precursor of sleep, the dissipation of recollection, the abolition of watchfulness, the cooling of ardour, the darkening of prayer.

February 21, 2017

(2Ti 3:16-17) All scripture, inspired of God, is profitable to teach, to reprove, to correct, to instruct in justice: That the man of God may be perfect, furnished to every good work.

POPE FRANCIS: “The Bible is not meant to be placed on a shelf, but to be in your hands, to read often – every day, both on your own and together with others.”

BIBLE STUDY: How Noah’s Flood Foreshadows Baptism

CATHOLIC ONLINE: Catholics Should Read, Pray, Live and Love the Bible as the Word of God

CRUX: Largest Catholic Bible study to take place this Lent

The St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology (founded by Dr. Scott Hahn) is striving to catechize tens of thousands of Catholics this Lent with what could be the largest Catholic Bible study on the often under-appreciated core of our faith: the sacraments.

In a new video Bible study from the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology, the seven sacraments are presented in the context of salvation history. The Bible and the Sacraments is a dynamic, eleven-lesson series that the St. Paul Center will make available for free online beginning March 1, 2017. With tens of thousands already registered to participate, The Bible and the Sacraments could be the largest-ever Catholic Bible study.

“The St. Paul Center’s mission is to promote life-transforming Scripture study in the Catholic tradition.” said Andrew Jones, Executive Director of the St. Paul Center. “We’ve created an incredible study, and we want to reach as many people as we can. Thanks to a few very generous donors, we’re able to offer the study as an online series, helping us to reach thousands-tens of thousands-of people around the world.”

By offering the study online for free, the St. Paul Center has removed many of the obstacles Catholics face when considering a traditional Bible study. Those with busy schedules can participate without attending at a specific time and location. An individual can sign up even if they are the only one from their parish.

While supplemental materials do enhance the study (and are offered to participants at a discount for the duration of the live-streaming study), the study itself is free. The St. Paul Center has even created Leader Guides, books that walk one through the process of leading, so that anyone can host a group at their parish or home.

“We’ve been blown away by the participation,” says Jones. “Sign-ups are soaring and we can tell that many people are putting together groups using our Leader Guide and a handful of workbooks.”

Hosted by apologist and author Matthew Leonard, The Bible and the Sacraments reveals that throughout the Old Testament God interacted with man in a sacramental manner and through the ages was slowly preparing his people for the institution of these seven signs by Christ himself.

Cradle Catholics, converts, and everyone in-between can be enriched through the closer study of the sacraments. Matthew Leonard, who is also the executive producer of last year’s The Bible and the Virgin Mary video study, explains that The Bible and the Sacraments “is designed so that people who have been studying the faith for years come away with deeper understanding and knowledge,” while those who are learning about the sacraments for the first time “are introduced to the depth and beauty of our faith.”


Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 11- "On talkativeness and silence"

1. In the preceding chapter, we spoke briefly of how extremely dangerous it is to judge others, or rather, to be judged and punished by one's own tongue, and of how this vice steals into even the most apparently spiritual people. Now we must show the cause of this vice, and give a proper account of the door by which it enters, or rather, goes out.

February 17, 2017

(Psa 46:10) Be still and see that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, and I will be exalted in the earth.


FR. GEORGE W. RUTLER: Dignitas: The Manners of Humility

BISHOP CONLEY: The Age of Noise

More than 70 years ago, the English satirist Aldous Huxley wrote that modernity is the “age of noise.” He was writing about the radio, whose noise, he said “penetrates the mind, filling it with a babel of distractions – news items, mutually irrelevant bits of information, blasts of corybantic or sentimental music, continually repeated doses of drama that bring no catharsis.”

If Huxley had lived into the 21st century, he would have seen the age of noise redoubled and amplified beyond the radio, first to our televisions, and then to our tablets and mobile devices, machines which bring distraction, and “doses of drama,” with us wherever we go. We are, today, awash in information, assaulted, often, with tweets and pundits analyzing the latest crisis in Washington, or difficulty in the Church, or serious social, political, or environmental issue. It can become, for many people, overwhelming.

To be sure, we have a responsibility as faithful Catholics to be aware of the world and its challenges, and to be engaged in the cultural and political affairs of our communities. We cannot shirk or opt out from that responsibility. But we are living at a moment of constant urgencies and crises, the “tyranny of the immediate,” where reactions to the latest news unfold at a breakneck pace, often before much thought, reflection or consideration. We are living at a moment where argument precedes analysis, and outrage, or feigned outrage, has become an ordinary kind of virtue signaling—a way of conveying the “right” responses to social issues in order to boost our social standing.

The 2016 presidential election was a two-year slog of platitudinous and superficial argument, and now that the election is over, that argument seems interminable. No person can sustain the kind of noise—polemical, shrill, and reactive—which has become a substitute for conversation in contemporary culture. Nor should any person try. The “age of noise” diminishes virtue, and charity, and imagination, replacing them with anxiety, and worry, and exhaustion.

The Lord didn’t make us for this kind of noise. He made us for conversation, for exchange and communion. And our political community depends upon real deliberation: serious debate and activism over serious subjects. But the Lord also made us for silence. For contemplation. For quietude. And without these things anchoring our lives, and our hearts, the age of noise transforms us, fostering in our hearts reactive and uncharitable intemperance that characterizes the media and social media spaces which shape our culture.

The age of noise is grinding away at our souls.

In the second century, just 100 years after Christ’s Ascension, an anonymous Christian disciple wrote a letter to a man named Diognetus, telling him something about the lives and practices of early Christians. “There is something extraordinary about their lives,” he wrote. “They live in their own countries as though they were only passing through…. They pass their days upon earth, but they are citizens of heaven.”

When our friends and neighbors look to us, as disciples of Jesus, they should see that there is something extraordinary about our lives: that although we live fully in our nation, we are, first, citizens of heaven. This means that we must live differently, in the age of noise. We must speak, and act, and think differently. In the words of St. Paul, we must “not be conformed to this world,” to the age of noise, “but be transformed by the renewal of our minds.” We must be, in the best sense of the word, “counter-cultural.”

To be citizens of heaven, we must be detached from the noise of this world. We must participate fully in cultural, and political, and public life, but we must entrust the outcomes of our participation to the Lord. We must detach ourselves from the news cycles, and social media arguments, and television pundits, which inflame our anger, or provoke our anxiety, or which shift our focus from the eternal to the fleeting and temporal.

My good friend Chris Stefanick, a wise speaker and author, wrote last week that we should “read less news,” and “read more Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.” He’s right. We won’t be happier, or wiser, or more peaceful because we consume more of the “age of noise” than we need. Of course, we should be engaged in current affairs. But we’ll be truly happy, through Jesus Christ, when we spend far more time reading Scripture, and spending time before the Lord in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.

We’ll be free from the anxiety and worry of the “age of noise” when times of prayer, and silence, are regular facets of our day. We’ll be detached from false crises and urgency of the culture of outrage when we do our small part, and then entrust the affairs of this world to the Lord. We’ll also be, when we quiet the “age of noise” in our hearts, the leaders of wisdom and virtue which our culture desperately needs, right now.

Saint Teresa of Avila, the great Carmelite mystic, wrote a small poem which should guide us in the “age of noise” —

Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you,
All things are passing away:
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things
Whoever has God lacks nothing;
God alone suffices.

The noise of our culture is designed to disturb and frighten us, and to distract from the unchanging and ever-loving God. But in silent prayer and contemplation before the Blessed Sacrament, we can turn down the noise, and the Lord himself can calm our hearts and renew our minds. To live extraordinary lives, as citizens of heaven before all else, it’s time that we turn down the “age of noise.”

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 10- "On slander or calumny"

9. Listen to me, listen, all you malicious reckoners of other men's accounts! If it is true (as it really is true) that 'with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged (Matt 7:2), then whatever sins we blame our neighbour for, whether bodily or spiritual, we shall fall into them ourselves. That is certain.

February 15, 2017

(Eze 3:17-21) Son of man, I have made thee a watchman to the house of Israel: and thou shalt hear the word out of my mouth, and shalt tell it them from me. If, when I say to the wicked, Thou shalt surely die: thou declare it not to him, nor speak to him, that he may be converted from his wicked way, and live: the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but I will require his blood at thy hand. But if thou give warning to the wicked, and he be not converted from his wickedness, and from his evil way: he indeed shall die in his iniquity, but thou hast delivered thy soul. Moreover if the just man shall turn away from his justice, and shall commit iniquity: I will lay a stumblingblock before him, he shall die, because thou hast not given him warning: he shall die in his sin, and his justices which he hath done, shall not be remembered: but I will require his blood at thy hand. But if thou warn the just man, that the just may not sin, and he doth not sin: living he shall live, because thou hast warned him, and thou hast delivered thy soul.

CATHOLIC WORLD REPORT ANALYSIS: Cardinal Coccopalmerio's blow upon a bruise

The Church’s arguably two highest-ranking cardinals in the areas of canonical interpretation and the protection of doctrine and morals are in public, plain, and diametric opposition with each other concerning a crucial canonico-sacramental practice.

VATICAN RADIO: 'Amoris Laetitia' Chap. 8 explained by Cardinal Coccopalmiero

Orazio La Rocca, expert in Vatican affairs, explained the publication aims to provide clear and simple guidelines for all readers who are interested in better understanding the Apostolic Exhortation’s chapter dedicated to the Church’s ministry of those who find themselves living outside the traditional boundaries of marriage.

“I had asked myself whether the doubts that had been raised regarding a possible violation of the Church’s doctrine could be founded; after reading this book it is clear that this is not so” he said.

La Rocca pointed out that Chapter 8 offers us a new perspective on how the Church views society that changes, and that it is imbued in the Pope’s call for mercy and his appeal to reach out to those who are most wounded, most excluded, most in need of God’s message of love and salvation.

He recalled some of the points of the original Papal document saying that Saint Pope John Paul II proposed the so-called “law of gradualness” in the knowledge that the human being “knows, loves and accomplishes moral good by different stages of growth”.

La Rocca highlighted the document’s admonition to men of the Church not to condemn anyone forever, but to consider a pastoral approach towards people who have contracted a civil marriage, who are divorced and remarried, or simply living together  but who are seeking to have their situation transformed into the full reality of marriage and family in conformity with the Gospel.

And he quoted the Pope’s words “never to forget that the Church’s task is often like that of a field hospital”.

All this, he said, is part of Pope Francis’ reiterated call to enter into dialogue with the other and to enter into other people’s lives with the power of tenderness.


The Pope’s council have given him their ‘full support’. Translation: trouble is brewing
A question for Catholics who oppose the Pope
Francis Apparently not Happy with Roman Posters

RELATED NEWS: The Ex-Anglicans of America Say No To Communion for the Divorced and Remarried

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 10- "On slander or calumny"

8. Fire and water are incompatible; and so is judging others in one who wants to repent.  If you see someone falling into sin at the very moment of his death, even then do not judge him, because the Divine judgment is hidden from men.  Some have fallen openly into great sins, but they have done greater good deeds in secret; so their critics were tricked, getting smoke instead of the sun.

February 13, 2017

(1Pe 4:12-14) Dearly beloved, think not strange the burning heat which is to try you: as if some new thing happened to you. But if you partake of the sufferings of Christ, rejoice that, when his glory shall be revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. If you be reproached for the name of Christ, you shall be blessed: for that which is of the honour, glory and power of God, and that which is his Spirit resteth upon you.

EDITORIAL: Trump's Immigration Order and Christianity

EXCERPT INTERVIEW: Archbishop Bashar Warda of the Chaldean Archeparchy of Erbil, Iraq.

Q: What do you make of the protests against President Trump’s refugee order?

A: Everyone, including the administration, seems to agree that this should have been implemented with more clarity. There was much confusion about what the order meant and many people were very upset.

From my perspective in Iraq, I wonder why all of these protesters were not protesting in the streets when ISIS came to kill Christians and Yazidis and other minority groups. They were not protesting when the tens of thousands of displaced Christians my archdiocese has cared for since 2014 received no financial assistance from the U.S. government or the U.N. There were no protests when Syrian Christians were only let in at a rate that was 20 times less than the percentage of their population in Syria.

I do not understand why some Americans are now upset that the many minority communities that faced a horrible genocide will finally get a degree of priority in some manner.

I would also say this, all those who cry out that this is a “Muslim Ban” - especially now that it has been clarified that it is not - should understand clearly that when they do this, they are hurting we Christians specifically and putting us at greater risk.  The executive order has clearly affected Christians and Yazidis and others as well as Muslims.

Here in Iraq we Christians cannot afford to throw out words carelessly as the media in the West can do.  I would ask those in the media who use every issue to stir up division to think about this. For the media these things become an issue of ratings, but for us the danger is real.

Most Americans have no concept of what it was like to live as a Yazidi or Christian or other minority as ISIS invaded. Our people had the option to flee, to convert, or to be killed, and many were killed in the most brutal ways imaginable. But there were none of these protests then of ISIS’s religious test.

Our people lost everything because of their faith - they were targeted for their faith, just like the Yazidis and others too. Now these protesters are saying that religion should not matter at all, even though someone was persecuted for their faith, even though persecution based on religion is one of the grounds for refugee status in the UN treaty on refugees.

From here I have to say, it is really unbelievable.

It is exactly this reasoning, that religion should not be a factor at all in American policy, that has resulted in Christians and other minority communities being overlooked by U.S. and UN aid programs. We are too small to matter, our communities are disappearing from constant persecution, and for years the American government didn’t care. Now when someone tries to help us, we have protesters telling us that there can be no religious basis for refugee status - even though the UN treaty and American law say that religious persecution is a major reason for granting the status, and even though ISIS targeted people primarily on the basis of religion.

I am not saying that any group should have a blanket preference when it comes to being admitted as a refugee in the United States. Such a policy would not be right, and would clearly be against our Catholic faith and teaching. And that is not the policy as I understand it.

But it is very hard for me to understand why comfortable people in the West think those who are struggling to survive against genocide, and whose communities are at extreme risk of disappearing completely, should not get some special consideration.  We are an ancient people on the verge of extinction because of our commitment to our faith.  Will anybody protest for us?

VIDEO: Persecution and Civil War: The Life of Syria's Christians

REPORT: Islamic Terrorists Take Christian Man And Crucify Him, They Then Put A Sign On The Cross That Says: ‘We Have Crucified This Man Because He Believed In Jesus Christ.’

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 10- "On slander or calumny"

7. Do not regard the feelings of a person who speaks to you about his neighbor disparagingly, but rather say to him: 'Stop, brother! I fall into graver sins every day, so how can I criticize him?' In this way you will achieve two things: you will heal yourself and your neighbour with one plaster. This is one of the shortest ways to the forgiveness of sins; I mean, not to judge. 'Judge not, and ye shall not be judged (Luke 6:37).'

February 10, 2017

(1Th 5:19-21) Extinguish not the spirit. Despise not prophecies. But prove all things: hold fast that which is good.


FATIMA: Twenty Points That You Should Know!
10 Surprising and Little-Known Facts on Fatima
RESOURCE: Tools for Nineveh 90

LINK:  Padre Pio and the Madonna of Fatima

: St. Michael and Our Lady of Fatima- Why 2017 Is Such a Critical Moment by Msgr. Charles Pope

I have written elsewhere about why I think that 2017 will be a critical year. I believe it will be a year of hidden blessings or one of something so shocking that it will usher in a blessing that will only be understood later. It has been 100 years since the apparitions at Fatima and 500 since the Protestant revolt. The 1517 revolt ushered in a shocking, wrenching pruning of the Church. So did the apparitions in 1917, when Our Lady warned of great suffering if we did not pray and repent. God seems to permit (not cause) such things either as penance or as purification.

The last 100 years have seen horrifying warfare, death tolls in the hundreds of millions driven by ideological conflict, abortion on demand, the destruction of marriage and the family, sexual confusion and misbehavior, and the rise of the culture of death (the demand for the right to die and the right to kill). Indeed, Christendom in the West is in the midst of a great collapse: tepid and compromised faith, a tiny minority who attend Mass, and the growth of militant secularism. Who among us can deny that the Church, especially in the affluent West, has been under attack. We have preferred to sleep through most of it and make one compromise after another. Who among us can deny that we need another “counter-reformation”?

Two significant prophecies warned us of these events if we did not repent. For indeed, Scripture says, Surely the Sovereign LORD does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets (Amos 3:7). And while many apparitions occurred (some approved, some not), two in particular stand out:

First, it is said that in 1884 Pope Leo XIII had an experience during which he heard God say that he would permit a period of 100 years that would test the Church in Job-like fashion. This alarmed Pope Leo enough that he penned the well-known Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel and asked that it be prayed at the end of Mass throughout the universal Church. Some dispute the accuracy of this and call it mere legend, but it is hard to deny that the attack/test occurred. But when and what is the hundred-year period? That leads to...

Second, in 1917, Our Lady appeared in the region of Fatima, Portugal to three young children: Jacinta, Francesco, and Lucia. Mary indicated that the horrific First World War was soon to end, a war that featured the use of chemical weapons so devastating that an international agreement was developed banning their use. However, she warned that an even more terrible war would ensue if people did not repent and pray. Our Lady went on to say that in the aftermath of the war, Russia would spread the errors of atheism and materialism, leading to grievous suffering for the Church and many of the faithful. She also prophesied that there would be a final warning of light in the sky just prior to the onslaught of this new war.

In order to provide veracity to her message, Our Lady promised a miracle at her final apparition. On Oct. 13, 1917, the “Miracle of the Sun” took place, and as many as 70,000 people witnessed the sun dancing about in the sky and moving toward the earth.

In January 1938, a display of the aurora borealis vividly lit the skies far south of its normal reach; newspapers throughout the world reported the event. Later that same year, Germany entered Czechoslovakia, and in 1939, Poland was invaded; the Second World War was under way, a consequence of our failure to repent.

More than 60 million people were killed in World War II. At the end of the war, Russia dropped the Iron Curtain and atheistic communism held sway in the Eastern Bloc. Churches were closed, clergy and religious were killed, and great suffering came to all who would not acquiesce. The prophesies of 1917 proved to be sadly and vividly true.

Another prophecy of the Fatima apparitions was kept secret until the year 2000; it spoke of the murder of a pope as he walked past martyrs up a hill toward a cross in a ruined city. In 1981, St. John Paul II, nearly killed by an assassin, attributed his survival to the prayers of many who did hear the call of Our Lady to pray. Cardinal Ratzinger, in his commentary on the “third secret” of Fatima, called it the Via Crucis (Way of the Cross) of an entire century. Indeed it was: ruined cities, martyrs, and the long shadow of a cross over those years for the Church and the world.

A final aspect of the Fatima apparition came to light in 1981 when Sister Lucia wrote to Msgr. (now Cardinal) Carlo Caffara at the Vatican to thank him and to assure him of prayers for the founding of the John Paul II Institute on Marriage and the Family. In the letter she also related something she heard from Our Lady: a final battle will signal the end of the period in which we now struggle. Sister Lucia recounted Our Lady’s words as follows:

The final battle between the Lord and the reign of Satan will be about marriage and the family. Don’t be afraid, … anyone who works for the sanctity of marriage and the family will always be fought and opposed in every way, because this is the decisive issue. … However, Our Lady has already crushed its head.

I think the period of 100 years of trial seen by Pope Leo is coming to its culmination. My premise is that, though it was foreseen by Leo in 1884, it actually began in 1917 with the warning of Our Lady. Her message was clear: pray and be converted or else suffer grievously the consequences of human sinfulness. It is clear that we have suffered grievously for our failures.

Attempting to follow Our Lady’s direction in 1917 at Fatima, three popes (Pius XII, John Paul II, and Francis) have consecrated Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. But arguments go back and forth about whether any of these was “valid” (e.g., Was the wording just right?). But no technicality can eclipse our failure to repent and pray; I believe that repentance and prayer are the true heart of Our Lady’s message.

And so here we are at the culmination of the battle. Though it is disheartening, the battle in the Church over the sanctity of holy matrimony has reached the highest levels, just as our Lady said. Cardinal is pitted against cardinal, bishop against bishop. In the wider culture, marriage has been redefined; biblical and natural law teachings have been set aside. At this point I don’t think that our culture has a definition of marriage at all; it’s whatever anyone wants to say it is. This is no minor error; it is a civilization killer.

Something tells me that this year of 2017 is going to be critical and that we had better pray — a lot more than we have in the past. Repentance is also crucial. Being sleepy in the battle cannot be an option. We are at a turning point. Perhaps the hundred years of trial are ending; they might end well or they might come to a dreadful conclusion. That is why we must pray.

Cardinal Ratzinger, in the same Vatican document referenced above reflecting on Fatima, said:

The purpose of the vision is not to show a film of an irrevocably fixed future. Its meaning is exactly the opposite: it is meant to mobilize the forces of change in the right direction. Therefore, we must totally discount fatalistic explanations. … Rather, the vision speaks of dangers and how we might be saved from them.

Will you join me in praying with special fervency this year? In my own parish, we will be observing the First Saturday devotions that were requested by Mary at Fatima. This will be a communal way to engage the call to prayer. It involves attending Holy Mass, praying the Rosary, and going to confession (that day or within one week) on the first Saturday of five consecutive months. Others also add the wearing of the scapular and/or making a consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Such a communal observance ought not to eclipse personal prayer and conversion; it is merely to augment it. Are there devotional practices you can undertake, such as the daily Rosary, the Angelus, or the Chaplet of Divine Mercy? Are there sins you need to make special effort to avoid? Are there lawful pleasures you can set aside?

What will you do? This is a critical moment; I am convinced of it. Will you join me in special prayer this year, the 100th anniversary of the Fatima apparitions?

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 10- "On slander or calumny"

6. I have known a man who sinned openly and repented secretly. I condemned him as a profligate, but he was chaste before God, having propitiated Him by a genuine conversion.

February 8, 2017  

(Gen 1:26-27) And he said: Let us make man to our image and likeness: and let him have dominion over the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the air, and the beasts, and the whole earth, and every creeping creature that moveth upon the earth. And God created man to his own image: to the image of God he created him: male and female he created them.

POPE FRANCIS: “Let us join together and pray for babies who are in danger of being aborted, as well as for people who are at the end of life. All life is sacred!  Let no one be left alone and may love defend the meaning of life.”

VICTIMS OF ABORTION: Broken Branches Newsletter Issue 115

: Pro-Life From Start to Finish!!

40 DAYS FOR LIFE: The Beginning of the End of Abortion

CHURCH POP: Exorcising a Former Abortion Clinic: An Eye-Opening True Story

It was the highest sacrilege.

A building that had been originally constructed as a Jewish synagogue, then used as an Greek Orthodox church, was sold and re-opened as an abortion clinic. And a successful one at that, growing to become the largest abortion facility in western Michigan. Local pro-life activists worked and prayed for many years to shut it down, but to no avail.

That is, until 2004, when they had a big breakthrough: they were able to convince the owner of the building to sell it to them, and then they immediately evicted the abortion practice. After eight heart-breaking years, and an estimated 20,000 abortions, the abortion clinic closed. The overjoyed pro-lifers made plans to turn the building into a pro-life pregnancy resource center.

David Bereit, founder of 40 Days for Life, was invited to tour the gruesome site a few days after the abortionists left and was told an amazing story.

According to the new owners, a day or two after taking control of the building, a small group of Christian pro-life leaders gathered in the building to pray. They chose to specifically pray by the back-alley entrance that had been used by the abortionist to enter and exit the building. They held hands in a circle and prayed that God would cleanse the space of evil.

Suddenly, at the very moment a local pastor in their group concluded their prayer with “Amen,” the back-alley door swung open on its own and a rush of air went through the room and out the door. A few seconds later, a cool breeze began blowing in from the open door.

The group quietly walked back to the front of the building. While meditating on what they had just witnessed, a neighbor stopped by and asked what they had done with the statue of a demon that had been on the roof. The pro-life group had never seen such a statue and hadn’t removed anything, yet the woman insisted she had seen it on top of the building for some time, but that it was now gone.

So what exactly happened in that building? One of the pro-life leaders present later described it in simple yet profound terms: “a spiritual transfer of ownership.”

And the building? It’s now home to LIFE International, a pro-life organization dedicated to creating pro-life materials and training pro-life leaders around the world.

MORE: Nurse who saw aborted baby haunted by ‘sweet little face’

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 10- "On slander or calumny"

7. Do not regard the feelings of a person who speaks to you about his neighbor disparagingly, but rather say to him: 'Stop, brother! I fall into graver sins every day, so how can I criticize him?' In this way you will achieve two things: you will heal yourself and your neighbour with one plaster. This is one of the shortest ways to the forgiveness of sins; I mean, not to judge. 'Judge not, and ye shall not be judged(Luke 6:37).'

February 6, 2017  

(1Jn 2:15-17) Love not the world, nor the things which are in the world. If any man love the world, the charity of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world is the concupiscence of the flesh and the concupiscence of the eyes and the pride of life, which is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world passeth away and the concupiscence thereof: but he that doth the will of God abideth for ever.

POPE FRANCIS: “Thanks to the light of faith, the gift that we have received, we have the duty and the responsibility not to keep it to ourselves as if it were our property, but to allow it to shine in the world and give it to others through works of charity. The world is much in need of the light of the Gospel that transforms, heals and gives salvation to he who embraces it.”

VIA MANILLA BULLETIN: Christians should be salt, light

VIA MALTA: ‘Lead kindly light’


We need to share the urgency of Pope Francis in preaching the joy of the Gospel. But what is joy? It’s more than satisfaction. More than pleasure or contentment. Even the word “happiness” doesn’t really capture it. Happiness is a state that results from something greater. It flows from joy. And joy is more than an emotion. It’s an experience and indwelling of delight. Joy is the exhilaration we find in the discovery of some great beauty or truth or gift, and the passion that drives us to share it with others, even if we suffer in the process. In effect, we don’t possess joy; joy possesses us.

One of the reasons the Pope Francis seems so frustrated with the state of the Church today may be that, in his experience, too many Christians tend to confuse doctrine and law and rituals and structures with the real experience of faith. Obviously these things are important. St. Augustine, one of the greatest bishops, scholars and saints of the Church, would say that they’re very important, because without them our faith is disincarnate and little more than a collection of warm feelings. The Church would only be harmed by an overly sentimental or anti-intellectual spirit in her work. In an “emotivist” age, the last thing we need is a flight from clear teaching.

But Augustine would likely agree with Francis that the structural elements of Church life become empty and dead when they’re not animated by love; in other words, if they don’t proceed from a living relationship with Jesus Christ. We can too easily use them as a hiding place from the real task of discipleship, which is preaching the truth of the Gospel by our lives and our actions.

Did St. Augustine know joy? Read his Confessions. In his sermons, Augustine called this earth “a smiling place.” Portions of his work read like a litany to the goodness and beauty of creation. His biographer, Peter Brown, describes him as a man immoderately in love with the world. And the reason is simple. Augustine loved the world because he was in love with the Author of the beauty and goodness he found there.

What does that mean for us today? Augustine would tell us that the real problem with the world is bigger than climate change or abortion or poverty or family breakdown, and it’s much more stubborn. The real problem with the world is us.

As Augustine said in his sermons, it’s no use complaining about the times, because we are the times. How we live shapes them. And when we finally learn to fill our hearts with something more than the noise and narcotics of the wounded societies we helped create; when we finally let our hearts rest in God as Augustine did; then – and only then — the world will begin to change, because God will use the witness of our lives to change it …

We’re passing through a religious revolution in America. For many generations a common Christian culture transcended our partisan struggles. It gave us a shared framework of behavior and belief. Now another vision for our nation’s future has emerged. It sees no need for Christianity. In many cases, it views our faith as an obstacle to its ambitions. We’ve become, in Stanley Hauerwas’ famous phrase, “resident aliens.” We’re tempted to turn bitter and retreat. Nobody likes to be driven from his high seat.

And this is exactly what has happened to American Christianity. Many believers are ill-equipped for life on the “outside.” But we need to fight this temptation. And to do so we need to approach 21st century America with a spirit of love.

Love is grateful: We need to thank God for all the good in America, not just in the past, but today.

Love is patient: We need to recognize that we’re not going to “win” many of the culture-shaping struggles we face – at least, not on our own time. Only on God’s time.

Love builds up: We need to do what can be done, rather than anguishing over what can’t.

Patriotism is a natural love for the land of our birth or adoption. It can be manipulated by demagogues. It can be a cheap substitute for real religious faith. But at its core, it’s a good thing. When St. Paul speaks of love, he says, “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1Cor 13:7). By “love” he means the Christ-like charity made possible by God’s grace, and he calls us to this spirit of love in our life together as believers.

Our relationship to the nation we call America is not our relationship to Christ’s body, the Church. There are things we should not bear, should not believe, and should not endure in civic life. But we need to welcome some, and maybe a lot, of bearing and believing and hoping and enduring, for the sake of saving what can be saved.

Because for better or worse, what happens in this country has meaning for a much wider world.

MORE: Joyful ‘Strangers’: A Q&A with Archbishop Chaput

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 10- "On slander or calumny"

6. I have known a man who sinned openly and repented secretly. I condemned him as a profligate, but he was chaste before God, having propitiated Him by a genuine conversion.

February 3, 2017  

(Pro 31:30-31) Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: the woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands: and let her works praise her in the gates.

SAINT POPE JOHN PAUL II: "In transforming culture so that it supports life, women occupy a place in thought and action which is unique and decisive. It depends on them to promote a 'new feminism' which rejects the temptation of imitating models of 'male domination' in order to acknowledge and affirm the true genius of women in every aspect of the life of society and overcome all discrimination, violence and exploitation."

NCR: If There is an Antichrist, What About an Antimary?

ALETEIA: What Is It About the Virgin Mary that Enrages Feminists?

Ten Lies of Feminism

Feminsm: The Anti-Mary

Everywhere we look today we see the order of creation under attack. Prominent on the political scene are the issues of homosexual “rights” and the “right” to abortion. Both of these evils attack the institution of marriage, the first in its perversion of the natural God-ordained relationship of conjugal love and the second in its denial unto bloody murder of the rights and duties of parenthood. The proponents of homosexual “rights”, of abortion “rights”, of women’s “rights” and most lately, of children’s “rights”, have lost the natural sense of what is good and evil, right and wrong, appropriate and inappropriate. They seek to equalize what is by nature unequal. They seek to overwhelm all objective standards of morality based on the order of creation and the natural law enunciated in the 10 Commandants with an exaltation of the desires and passions of fallen human nature.

God created all things good, but when He gave man free will, He created the potentiality for evil. In other words, God has given to each of us an inestimable gift which we can use for our happiness and His glory or for our own ruin and the robbing of God of that glory He would have had in our eternal happiness. Of course, it is impossible to change the crested order of nature, but it is possible and sadly, quite common these day for us to refuse to conform to it.

Satan’s words to Eve remain the model for all temptations, and her response the model for all failures to resist. The temptation is always to disobey God’s commands, to violate the order He has established, and to choose to do our own will instead of His.

When we hear, time and time again, people protesting that they only want “equal rights” for homosexuals, or the “right” to choose an abortion, or the “right” to have any religion or no religion, they ‘re doing two things:

1) they are confusing rights with the freedom to act as one chooses; and
2) they’re refusing to recognize what reason itself naturally acknowledges, that some behaviors are in themselves good and to be practiced and others are in themselves evil and to be avoided.

No one has a right to offend God by sin or to break His Laws. Natural laws are written in our hearts and positive laws are given to us by the Church as Guardian and interpreter of divine revelation. No one has any right to violate the laws of God or of His Church, but we are all free to do so by reason of the free will given us by God as an essential part of our human nature. Rights come from nature also, as does free will. Thus all men have a right to marry, to raise a family and to earn a wage sufficient for the support of that family. Thus, too, all children conceived in the womb have a right to be nurtured until the appropriate time arrives for their own self-sufficiency.

It must he said, too, that because of God’s command to Adam and Eve to “Increase and multiply” no human couple has the right to limit that increase by any unnatural means. Among unnatural means is the abstention from conjugal union at just those tines when God has provided for the fruitful intercourse of marriage. To do otherwise is to invert the ends of marriage, allowing the end of sexual pleasure to usurp the end of procreation. There simply cannot be two equally primary ends: one must take precedence over the other. When this natural order is disrupted, the order of creation is attacked and violated just as gravely as by the use of an IUD or other device. In the last analysis it is saying to God: You don’t know what’s good for us, but we do; therefore, we will do our own will instead of Yours. It is also telling God that you can’t trust Him to provide for all the children He wills to send. It cultivates a contraceptive mentality leading to greater evils. When it comes to objective morality, there is simply no such thing as “this may not be good for you but it is good for me.” That kind of subjectivism is the great illusion of our times. Moral evils such as homosexual practices, abortion, birth control, and a woman’s exaltation over a man or claiming equality with him are never good for anyone. They cannot be, because they are against the Will, and the Laws of God written in our hearts and spelled out by the positive laws of divine revelation interpreted by the Church.

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 10- "On slander or calumny"

5. He who wants to ovecome the spirit of slander should not ascribe the blame to the person who falls, but to the demon who suggests it. For no one really wants to sin against God, even though we all sin without being forced to do so.
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