Keep your eyes open!...


January 28, 2011 


(Titus 1:7-9) For a bishop must be without crime, as the steward of God: not proud, not subject to anger, nor given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre: But given to hospitality, gentle, sober, just, holy, continent: Embracing that faithful word which is according to doctrine, that he may be able to exhort in sound doctrine and to convince the gainsayers.


Praying the Rosary
Lamb of God and When Mass Started to be Celebrated

Prayer request from Ron:  Hello friends. I have been diabetic for about 15 years; on insulin about 5 years. Since August I have had 3 insulin reactions wherein the Rescue Squad was called to revive & stabalize me. I am not 'frightened' by my condition and I believe I do all that is possible to control my condition; always 'tweaking' my insulin under doctor's advise, etc. For those of you who know what an A1C test is, mine are always very good. Anyway, I had an 'attack' last night. After praying on this I felt the Holy Spirit prompting me to use the St. Raphael Prayer & healing oil daily until the Lord prompts me to stop. Along with this devotion I felt I should 'storm heaven' through my aquaintances to intercede for me. So, if you feel called to pray for me or to do some other spiritual work, please do so. Please thank the Lord for the Rescue Squad people too - they are just great! As in all things, let God's Will be done - not mine! From: Ron Smith, Chardon, Ohio

Note from Ron: To receive my Catholic Q&A reports please contact me with your correct email address.

CATHOLIC KEY:  World needs apostles to spread truth of Jesus, bishop tells teens


REFLECTION by Father TedJanuary 26, 2011 – Tamale, Ghana

My dearest Lord Jesus, on this memorial of the two apostles of Saint Paul, namely Saint Timothy and Saint Titus, You remind me, and many others, of how important it is for our spiritual leaders to allow the Father, even to beg the Father to help them to become courageous so that they will refute falsehoods, correct errors and call to obedience all the members of Your family who belong not only to Your Catholic Church but also to all Christians so that we will be able to experience and to enjoy the blessings that You, the Father, Your Holy Spirit and our brothers and sisters who are with You in Heaven, our true home.

Thank God, our Holy Father, and other shepherds are following the example of not only Saint Paul, but also of Saints Timothy and Titus. They have been stirring up within themselves the fire of love that was given to them when they were ordained as bishops of Your Church.

We, Your children, their brothers and sisters need their example, their help, their leadership so that our world – created by You, might experience Your peace and Your love.

We lack that peace which You, the Prince of Peace, and Your Mother, the Queen of Peace desire to offer to us from the Father.

We have lacked the direction that You want us to have from our elders.

Lord Jesus, through the intercession of Saint Paul, Saint Timothy and Saint Titus, stir up the fire of Divine Love not only within our spiritual leaders but also within us.

Help all of us to see more clearly how we have failed to respond to our vocation to become saints today.

Help all of us to recognize that we must fight the good fight – against Lucifer and his disciples who has been instructing us in his lies.

We – who are citizens of the United State – are members of a country, “a nation under God”.

We are meant to accept all of Your teachings if we are to remain “a nation under God”.

We are to live by all of Your teachings to enjoy being “a nation under God”.

The state of our union is not good now. Because we have rejected to a high degree Your truths. We have become a nation that promotes “the culture of death”. We have become a nation that rejects the sacredness of marriage as You ordained it and the holiness of sex. We have not honored You and Your Father and Your Holy Spirit by keeping Your Commandments In short, we have not loved You and we have not loved one another as You and our brothers and sisters of all nations deserve.

Help us Lord Jesus, through the intercession of Saints Timothy and Titus, through the intercession of Saint Paul and the Blessed Virgin Mary, our Mother, to do Your Will each day – to become saints ourselves and to enable others to become saints as well.

Help also our civic leaders to accept the sacredness of all life – from conception to death. Help them to accept their purpose in life and to use their gifts to honor God and to promote true peace in the world.

May Your Will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 27- "On holy stillness of body and soul"

56. He who has experienced the good which comes from prayer will shun crowds like a wild ass; for what, if not prayer, makes him like a wild ass and free from all association with people?

January 27, 2011 

(Mat 22:37-40) Jesus said to him: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart and with thy whole soul and with thy whole mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. And the second is like to this: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments dependeth the whole law and the prophets.

FROM THE MAILBAG: The Priority of the Objectively Important Over the Subjectively Satisfying By Jim J. McCrea

Often an argument is put forth that if God were all good He would want His creatures to be perfectly happy, and if He were all powerful He would be able to do what He wanted; because there is suffering in the world and a lack of perfect happiness, God is either not all powerful, not all good, or both.

That reasoning seems logical; however, it is predicated upon an idea of God that is radically impoverished.

The assumption is, that an all loving and all good God would desire to give us *subjective* goods - such as pleasure, happiness, joy, peace, and fulfillment, and that is it - that a good God would merely wish to facilitate the *subjectively satisfying* for us.

However, God wills us to abide in *objective* goodness - that is, to adhere to the *objectively important* (what is important in itself). The objectively important in its fullness and perfection is true love. The true definition of love is willing the good of the other for the sake of the other and not for what one can get out of it - that is, to will things such as reverence, truth, justice, faithfulness, charity, kindness, and mercy towards other persons; and to give honor, glory, and satisfaction for sins to God. The first and second commandments are to love God and to love neighbor as oneself (Matt. 22:34-40).

That is the problem. Since we do not properly will the objective good, or what is good in itself before any personal advantage can be gained - because there is selfishness in all of us to varying degrees - suffering exists in the world.

Even suffering due to things beyond our control and due to factors that may appear to be nobody's fault, such as disease, natural disaster, and accident are due to disharmonies within ourselves, with each other, with the physical world, and with God. Those disharmonies are due to Original Sin (both the original sin of Lucifer and the original sin of Adam).

All humans have what is known as "concupiscence," which is a tendency to sin within us which was inherited from our First Parents, because of their Fall in the Garden, and which is exacerbated by our personal sins.

Many of the problems that we have today in society, stem from the fact that with many people the subjectively satisfying is sought while the objectively important is ignored. For example, many marriages break down because one of the spouses is not "happy" or is "no longer in love." He or she forgets that love is primarily a decision to will the good of the other and is not primarily a feeling (that is not to say that there are not legitimate reasons to separate from a spouse, such as a situation of abuse. This refers to those who selfishly base their decision on a calculus of "happiness," thus trampling underfoot their sacred obligations).

Today we live in a culture of death because much law, court decision, public policy, and popular culture facilitate the subjectively satisfying while ignoring the objectively important. In Western society, many "rights" are based on that. In the sexual sphere this is done by the social acceptance of pre-marital sex, the legal sale of contraceptives, legal abortion, homosexual "marriage," legal pornography, and no-fault divorce (in the past Western society shunned or outlawed those things for the greater good). In the economic sphere this is done by employers extracting the benefit of work from employees but not giving them a just wage in return, workers taking a salary and not putting in an honest day's work, and in dealers who work the financial or stock markets so that they reap a profit but do not produce any real value in return.

A Culture of Life and a Civilization of Love would be a true Christian society. It would disallow the above evils and promote the true good of the human person, and put in place legal and societal structures based upon true justice. That would bring true peace, tranquility, happiness, and prosperity to society. Such a civilization would facilitate the objectively important through law and social custom.

With the individual life, it is a principle that the subjectively satisfying must never be sought for its own sake, but that it must only be the consequent of the objectively important.

For example, sexual pleasure is the proper consequent of the objective goods of the union of spouses in one flesh and the begetting of children. The pleasure of eating is the proper consequent of the objective good of nutrition. That is why things such as artificial contraception and fornication are wrong, and why vomiting just for the pleasure of eating more food is wrong. For then, subjective pleasure is being extracted while discarding the objective good it should be based upon.

Even recreation and entertainment are not to be sought as a mere means to pleasure, but should be engaged in so that one can be refreshed and better do one's duty in life. For the perfect man or woman, that is the strict rule by which recreation and entertainment are governed. For him or her, the objectively important is the sole rule of action and the subjectively satisfying takes care of itself.

Sometimes it is asked that if heaven is perfect happiness, then why do we not wish to die now so as to enjoy that happiness now; or if heaven's happiness is the point of existing, why are we not allowed to kill ourselves so that we can get there immediately.

The answer to that is that the purpose of this life is to build within us and perfect within us an orientation towards the objectively important . Only when that process is completed, which is done in the time that God allots us on earth, can we enjoy perfect and eternally stable happiness in heaven (reward is to be the expectation and not the motive for our actions).

Heaven is not God spoon feeding us happiness, but the happiness of heaven flows from the objectively important which is first. This orientation to the objectively important is to be constructed in our time on earth. The objectively important in its perfection, in heaven, is the perfect love of God, the angels, and the blessed, without a shadow of self-interest. Only with this perfectly pure disinterested love in heaven can we enjoy a happiness which is perfectly pure and eternal.

The paradox is, when there is still self interest in our motivations, happiness for us cannot be perfectly pure and eternally stable, but contains within it some dissatisfaction and the seeds of its dissolution. That is why in this life, where we are imperfect, the dark night of the soul usually follows a period of emotional prosperity. God uses the suffering that comes out of that imperfection to further purify us. Enjoying perfect and eternally stable happiness in heaven is the reason why Jesus said that we must be made perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect (Matt. 5:48).

Jesus said that, not to burden us with an impossible ideal, but because of His perfect love for us. We must trust that He can provide what is beyond our own power to give ourselves. That is embodied in the theological virtue of hope.


Pope John Paul II and the Radiation of the Supernatural
The Transcendental Properties of Being
Answering the Atheists

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 27- "On holy stillness of body and soul"

54. Those who are thoroughly versed in secular philosophy are indeed rare; but I affirm that those who have a divine knowledge of the philosophy of true stillness are still more rare.

January 26, 2011 

(1Pe 5:8-9) Be sober and watch: because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, goeth about seeking whom he may devour. Whom resist ye, strong in faith: knowing that the same affliction befalls, your brethren who are in the world.

HEADLINE: Chicago exorcist: The ‘evil one’ is very real

As the official exorcist for the Archdiocese of Chicago, it's the Rev. Jeffrey Grob's job to expel demons from those cursed by the devil. But when it comes to demonic possession, Grob is the first to admit he's a skeptic.

When he receives the call — "Father, I am possessed by the devil" — he doesn't drop everything, grab a black bag and run to the victim to say some prayers.

"If only it was that easy," said the 49-year-old Wisconsin native, who spoke Friday to a crowd of more than 100 people at a Catholic Citizens of Illinois forum titled "The Consummate Deceiver: The Devil in the Modern World."

Instead, he approaches with caution. According to the Roman Catholic Church, exorcism is a rite performed only by a select number of priests to drive out evil spirits that, on rare occasions, can infiltrate human beings.

"The church is very slow in the process for the integrity of the rite," said Grob, who has been the archdiocese's exorcist since 2006 and serves as pastor of St. Celestine Church in Elmwood Park. (For six years, he also served as associate pastor of Saints Faith, Hope and Charity Parish in Winnetka.) "The Church is trying to avoid the sensational approach to things. What's the proof? Is this genuine?"

First and foremost, when a person claims to be possessed, Grob said he presumes there is a "natural, organic explanation." More often than not, those requesting his service do not actually need an exorcist.

"I am far more busy than I should be in the sense that I talk to far more people than I need to," Grob said. "The vast majority, they need to see their parish priest, they need to see a spiritual director or they need to go to confession.

"One good sacramental confession is more powerful than 100 exorcisms."

MORE: Saratoga pastor inspiration behind 'The Rite'

QUOTE: Msgr. John Esseff, exorcist for over 50 years: "The ordinary activity of Satan is temptation.  That is his M.O. (mode of operation). In the last two petitions of the 'Our Father,' Jesus teaches us to pray, 'lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.'  It refers to Satan himself and his activity."

OPINION EXCERPT: Unfortunately, as the poet Charles Baudelaire once wrote: "the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing mankind he didn't exist." In fact, for a time, due to the influence of liberation theology and the attempt by some members of the Church to keep up with modernity or science, a mistaken belief spread that the devil does not exist. Or is a mere presence. Or that the world is the actual hell. All are incorrect.

There is a devil, not a mere presence, but one with a distinct identity, personality, and agenda. And the agenda is simple: to hurt you, put you in despair, separate you from God, and join the devil in hell. And there is a hell, an actual place where damned souls are condemned to spend eternity. These are articles of faith for Catholics. Simply put: if you don't believe the devil exists you don't believe in the Gospels. As taught to us in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (No. 391): "The devil and the other demons were indeed created naturally good by God, but they became evil by their own doing." Or, as wryly put by Keanu Reeves in Constantine: "You should [believe in the devil]. He believes in you."

The devil, being a mere creation of God, is inferior to God. The devil's powers and knowledge are limited, only God's is limitless. The devil cannot read minds or perform miracles. And the devil can only do something to the extent allowed him by God. Now why God allows the devil to do what he does on mankind is a mystery. We believe, however, that it's all ultimately for our own good. Because God is good. We just need to keep the faith (Catechism No. 395).

MUST READ:  Incorruptible — Why the Devil Uses Abortion to Eliminate Down Syndrome

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 27- "On holy stillness of body and soul"

53. He who wishes to present his mind pure to God, and is agitated by cares, is like a man who has tied his legs tightly together and then expects to walk briskly.

January 25, 2011 

(John 17:19-22) And for them do I sanctify myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth. 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. And the glory which thou hast given me, I have given to them: that, they may be one, as we also are one.

HEADLINE: Pope calls for renewed efforts at Christian unity

Pope Benedict XVI says the faithful must work with more passion for Christian unity.

The head of the Roman Catholic church made the call for renewed efforts during a solemn ceremony Tuesday evening in a Rome basilica attended by representatives of other Christian churches and communities.

Benedict has praised progress made so far to bridge differences, but says Jesus wanted Christians to be united and that more "passion" is needed in efforts to achieve that unity.

In his homily in St.  Paul Outside the Walls Basilica, the pope suggests that "serious and rigorous" dialogue to appreciate common theological and spiritual heritage among Christians is important in working toward unity.

RECENT NEWS: Seven Anglican vicars and 300 parishioners from six churches convert to Catholicism 

ICN: Glasgow Archbishop Conti issues letter on Christian Unity

COMMENTARY: "This is the week of prayer for Christian unity: diversity in style there is absolute room for, and these converts will almost certainly enrich the culture and life of the Catholic Church in England with their liturgy; but attempts at unity must not – cannot – ever be at the expense of compromising on revealed truth."

EDITORIAL: Don't forget the Holy Land's indigenous Christian population


Praying for unity in Belarus
Oriental Orthodox Churches in the Vatican
A tree with many branches

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 27- "On holy stillness of body and soul"

52. He who has really attained to stillness does not give a thought to his flesh; for He who has promised will not prove false.

January 20, 2011 

(Luk 1:46-49) And Mary said: My soul doth magnify the Lord. And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. Because he hath regarded the humility of his handmaid: for behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. Because he that is mighty hath done great things to me: and holy is his name.

CATHOLIC DEVOTIONS: We must understand that medals, scapulars, holy water and any other type of sacramentals are not amulets for our protection.  They are consecrated objects that indeed help when the wearer has faith and tries to live a life of virtue.


"Let me tell you the story of how I discovered the Green Scapular. This is my only way of trying to spread a true and tender love of Her Immaculate Heart and of paying my debt to Her. Some years ago, before penicillin was in use, I was lying in a hospital very ill with pneumonia. I began to hemorrhage and the doctors decided to operate as a last resource. Then a little nun came into my room.

        "Father, have you great faith in the Mother of God, especially in Her Immaculate Heart? If so, you can be cured."

       "How, Sister?"

       "Through the Green Scapular."

       "What is that?"

       "Four years ago, Father, I was operated on for cancer. I was so filled with it, that they just closed me up and sent me away to die. Then I prayed to Our Lady of the Green Scapular; grew tired of waiting to die and came back to work. I am cured, Father. Do you want me to give you a Scapular?"

       "Please, Sister."

       With that she put one over my head. A feeling of tremendous confidence poured into me and the bleeding stopped. Two days later, in the X-ray room, they asked me when the hemorrhage had ceased. When I replied that it was a matter of a couple of days, they expressed great surprise.

       "You have a wound that is six months healed and there is no other mark." Today even the scars are gone. No wonder I speak of an unpayable debt to Her Immaculate Heart. Since then I have done everything possible to foster this devotion. To my great joy and amazement, those to whom I have spoken of the Green Scapular have become more zealous than I. Never have I seen the equal of the faith and confidence of these new apostles of Mary.

       During May, I asked the rector of St. Patrick's, Toronto, for permission to speak of it at the Wednesday devotions. I had a thousand Green Scapulars on hand, but no one thought that more than thirty would be asked for. The thousand were gone the first morning. The room where we distributed them was so jammed that I feared someone would be injured. The rest of the day I was besieged on all sides for more. Foolishly, I showed the one I had for myself and it was quickly snatched from my hand."


Loretta: For those who are praying for conversion of someone, or protection ~ if you are interested go to the Apostolate of the Green Scapular Brochure and Scapulars. They are free with only a request for a small donation so they can continue the work of mailing and bringing healing of lives for the Glory of Jesus Christ. I was happy with the envelope that arrived with 14 very small scapulars and the instructions to write names of those you wish to remember on the little scapulars, and say the prayers enclosed. They also recommended placing one scapular in each of the four corners of your home. The included a prayer for the home and people who resided therein and all those who would enter. It is a very sweet ministry, and does not necessitate that you wear the green scapular any more for it does not have a green cord, and are the size of a square quarter.

I think you would be pleased with this Apostlate of the Green Scapular and perhaps recommend it to others as I have done.

Address: Apostolate of the Green Scapular
7710-T Cherry Park Dr. #417 Houston, Texas 77095

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 27- "On holy stillness of body and soul"

50. When you go forth, guard what you have gathered.  When the cage is opened, the birds fly out.  And then we shall find no further profit in stillness.

January 19, 2011 

(Psa 82:3-4) Judge for the needy and fatherless: do justice to the humble and the poor. Rescue the poor; and deliver the needy out of the hand of the sinner.

POPE JOHN PAUL II (1995): "Many Christians from all Communities, by reason of their faith, are jointly involved in bold projects aimed at changing the world by inculcating respect for the rights and needs of everyone, especially the poor, the lowly, and the defenseless … Christians who once acted independently are now engaged together in the service of this cause, so that God's mercy may triumph"

FAITH IN ACTION: Twin boys saved from abortion inspire mother to help others


Last Friday the world heard the news that the Catholic Church will beatify Pope John Paul II later this year, which is one step closer to the Church formally recognizing that he rests in Heaven. I suspect that many of my Evangelical friends are well ahead of the Catholic Church in knowing that he is there, in the great cloud of witnesses, adoring his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Before beatification the Catholic Church confirms that a miracle has occurred due to the intercession of the deceased. In Pope John Paul’s case, it is the miraculous cure of a French nun, Sister Marie Simon-Pierre, who had suffered from Parkinson’s disease. This little nun says John Paul was and is an inspiration because of his defense of the unborn child. “John Paul II did everything he could for life, to defend life,” she said. “He was very close to the smallest and weakest. How many times did we see him approach a handicapped person, a sick person?”

It is hard for me to approach another anniversary of Roe v. Wade without thinking of this great man who once said that “a nation that kills its own children is a nation without hope.” His very life was a witness to the sanctity of all human life. John Paul survived an assassination attempt and immediately forgave his assassin. He survived the two greatest threats to life and freedom of the 20th century, Nazi Germany and Communist Totalitarianism, and of that bloody century, said: “The cemetery of the victims of human cruelty in our century is extended to include yet another vast cemetery, that of the unborn.”

He dedicated an entire encyclical to abortion and euthanasia, and in the magnificent “Gospel of Life” he minced no words: “No human law can claim to legitimize” abortion, he said. We have a “grave and clear obligation to oppose” such laws, even through “conscientious objection.”

Another spiritual leader on her way to saintly recognition, Mother Teresa, was his comrade-in-arms on this issue and equally blunt: “America needs no words from me to see how your decision in Roe v. Wade has deformed a great nation. The so-called right to abortion has pitted mothers against their children and women against men. It has portrayed the greatest of gifts — a child — as a competitor, an intrusion, and an inconvenience.”

Imagine the homecoming for these two giants for life: a choir of little ones, in the millions.

EXCERPT VIA FATHER CORAPI: The front line and primary battle is going to be the fight for life: The dignity of every human life from the moment of conception to the last moment of natural life. If we lose that one, every other battle space will be compromised. If the government succeeds in establishing abortion as an inalienable "right", then the elderly and sick will be next. It will then be a short and slippery step to the government deciding who lives and dies regardless of their inherent human dignity.

If you don't already pray the Rosary every day, please start at once. The prayer of the holy Rosary is the prayer of the holy Gospel, and that means it is the prayer of the Good News Who is Jesus Christ, the LIFE of the world. Many saints will be forged in the crucible of the coming years. Make sure you are among them.

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 27- "On holy stillness of body and soul"

27. The monk is one who flees all men, though without hatred, just as another hastens to them, though without enthusiasm; he does not wish to be hindered from partaking of the sweetness of God.

January 18, 2011 

(Heb 3:12-14) Take heed, brethren, lest perhaps there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, to depart from the living God. But exhort one another every day, whilst it is called to day, that none of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we are made partakers of Christ: yet so, if we hold the beginning of his substance firm unto the end.

FROM THE DESK OF FATHER JACK: Saints: A Sinners Guide, or: Ten Most Important Facts about Repentance

REFLECTION by Father Ted – January 13, 2011

My Lord Jesus Christ, in the first reading for this morning’s Mass Your Holy Spirit exhorted us “would that today you would hear the voice of the Lord” and “harden not your hearts.” You simply tell us through Your Holy Spirit how much You want to teach us what is most important for us in our lives.

You want us to accept what You teach and to do what You ask of us every day.

And why?

Because You want to bless us – every single day.

You have been striving to teach each one of us that You created us because You want us to know You, to love You, to serve You on earth so that we can be with You in heaven forever.

How often You strive to guide us and to correct us.

And what do we do?

We often ignore You and Your ways.

We allow ourselves to become deceived by the evil one who strives to con us into not listening to You and not following Your directions to true happiness.

Many years ago he conned me and many of my companions into diminishing our time for prayer. He simply told us that our work was our prayer.

We believed him. And as a result we cut back our time for prayer by not praying the Divine Office.

We still offered Mass daily. We still prayed the Rosary daily – at least many did.

But prayer was not our top priority.

The evil one had deceived us.

As a result we lost the ability to recognize truth. We lost the desire to teach the truth.

Moreover we lost the ability to resist many temptations. The less difficult ones we were able to overcome. But many of us succumbed to the major temptations. And we did not know why.

Now I do. For when we fail to maintain a close and intimate relationship with You, we lack the spiritual strength and the stamina to resist his temptations. We sin.

Lord, help us to recognize how important our prayer life is. Help us not to harden our hearts – so we can become the holy ones who do Your Will. Help us to bring Your peace to Your world. Help us to sanctify Your earth.

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 27- "On holy stillness of body and soul"

25. He who discourses subtlely and discerningly on stillness stirs up the demons against himself, for there is no one else who can so expose their indecencies.

January 14, 2011 


(1Pe 3:15-16) But sanctify the Lord Christ in your hearts, being ready always to satisfy every one that asketh you a reason of that hope which is in you. But with modesty and fear, having a good conscience: that whereas they speak evil of you, they may be ashamed who falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.


Catechising Children
Postures at Mass
Eastern Rite Rules for Confession and Anointing of the Sick
Birth Control and Excommunication
Holy Mass Rubrics

Note from Ron: To receive my Catholic Q&A reports please contact me with your correct email address.

REVIEW: The Catholic Church's Stance on Cremation

I usually listen to National Public Radio when driving in the car. A couple of weeks ago Terry Gross, the host of “Fresh Air,” was interviewing Carlos Eire Riggs, a professor of history and religious studies at Yale University. Discussing his concept of eternity and his belief that something awaits him after this life, he mentioned that his final hope is to have a Catholic funeral Mass followed by cremation. Terry Gross reacted by saying that she didn’t know the Catholic Church allows cremation, to which Professor Riggs responded that the church changes many things, but the media usually doesn’t notice.

The last part of his statement addresses one of the reasons for this monthly “Misperceptions” column written by members of the pastoral team of Holy Cross Parish. The Catholic Church does on occasion revise some of its teachings, often in response to new circumstances in our rapidly changing world, as well as deepening theological understandings of its beliefs.

Some teachings do not change: the fundamental beliefs found in the Apostles and Nicene creeds, for example. The church’s understanding and presentation of its beliefs, however, are ever evolving. The early Christian beliefs in the body as the temple of the Holy Spirit (1Corinthians 6:19-20) and in the resurrection of the body (1Corinthians 15:35-58) engendered a strong respect for the human body.

In the early church, cremation was seen as a rejection of the doctrine of the Resurrection. In 1963, the Catholic Church ended its ban on cremation, provided that the reason for choosing cremation was not contrary to Christian beliefs. In this change, the body was still to be present for the Mass of Christian Burial (the actual name for a Catholic funeral Mass), with cremation to follow. The 1997 revision of the Order of Christian Funerals, however, allowed the cremated remains to be included as part of the funeral rite in the church. This change was made out of a pastoral sensitivity for the increasing number of people choosing to cremate the body of a loved one immediately after death yet still seeking a Catholic funeral.

The church still strongly recommends the traditional burial of the dead. The earlier 1989 revised Order of Christian funerals states, “Since in Baptism the body was marked with the seal of the Trinity and became the temple of the Holy Spirit, Christians respect and honor the bodies of the dead and the places where they rest…” This is emphasized in the Mass of Christian Burial by the sprinkling of the casket with holy water and its draping with the white pall.

If the funeral liturgy is to be celebrated with the cremated remains, they are contained in a “worthy vessel” and placed on a table where the casket normally would reside. The paschal candle (a symbol of Christ’s resurrection) is placed, as usual, in that location. Scripture readings chosen by the family should not make any reference to the body.

After the funeral rite, a very important issue is the disposition of the cremated remains, which should be buried in the ground or entombed in a columbarium (a cemetery vault designed for urns). The remains should be respected in the same manner, as would the body of a deceased. They should not be put on display or kept in the home of the family, nor scattered in the wind. The church expects a more reverent disposition of the earthly remains of the deceased.

The church seeks to minister to the needs of those grieving the loss of a loved one, while also expecting them to respect the teachings and rituals of the church to which they turn to celebrate the life of their loved one.

In response to changing times and practices, the Catholic Church has adapted its funeral rituals to meet the needs of the growing number of people who have their loved ones cremated. It also reminds them of the respect due the earthly remains. As one of the funeral prayers reminds us, “Lord, for your faithful people, life is changed, not ended. When the body of our earthly dwelling lies in death, we gain an everlasting dwelling place in heaven.” 

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 27- "On holy stillness of body and soul"

23. When the watchman grows weary, he stands up and prays; and then he sits down again and courageously takes up his former task.

January 13, 2011 

(Pro 19:17) He that hath mercy on the poor, lendeth to the Lord: and he will repay him.

HEADLINE: Salesian Missions Launches to Inform Public of Progress in Haiti One Year After Earthquake

A year after the earthquake damaged nearly all of its schools and buildings in the Port-au-Prince area, Salesian Missions has launched a news site that focuses on “progress,” while so much media attention is being paid on the opposite.

The purpose of is to provide information and insight about programs and progress in Haiti related to Salesian efforts as well as that of partner organizations and overall issues in the poor, earthquake ravaged country.

Stories include “Reading, Writing and Rebuilding a Country: Training Tomorrow's Leaders in Haiti” – about schools in operation despite of the fact that its buildings were destroyed and some things are in short supply. The school has found ways to turn the circumstances into learning opportunities. Children are returning to classrooms in temporary shelters built by Salesian Missions' own vocational students. Children are returning to classrooms in temporary shelters built by the school's own vocational students.

In the aftermath of Haiti's earthquake, Salesian Missions provided disaster relief to victims—many of them their own students and teachers. Early efforts focused on the basic human needs of food, water, medical supplies, survival kits and tents for shelter. Thousands of refugees were housed within the confines of those facilities which were not destroyed, and thousands more were provided meals.

The Salesian Missions Office for International Programs, located in New Rochelle, NY, was assigned the task of coordinating relief efforts immediately after the earthquake. Donations are still desperately needed and can be made directly from

In the following months, 59 containers of relief supplies—including food, water, clothing, medical supplies, computers, personal hygiene supplies, water purification plants, water purification tablets, 1,600 schools in a box, 10 industrial generators, and forklifts—were shipped, as well as two school buses and nearly 2,000 tents. To ensure the most effective use of supplies, Salesian Missions evaluates the situation at each of its sites to match needs with available resources.

RELATED: Catholic Relief Services still hopeful for Haitian rebuilding efforts

VIA THE VATICAN: Pope Dispatches Envoy To Haiti    

As Haiti and the world get ready to mark the first anniversary of the devastating earthquake that killed at least 230,000 Haitians last January 12th, the Pope has dispatched an envoy to the troubled Caribbean nation.

The Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, sent Cardinal Robet Sarah as his special envoy to Haiti to mark the first anniversary of the earthquake that also left over one million displaced.

The Pontif also dedicated a `special thought` to the Haitian people, in keeping with the anniversary on Wednesday, January 12th. He said that Cardinal Sarah will `express my constant proximity and that of the entire (Roman Catholic) church` to the local population.

REVIEW: A year later, Haiti celebrates life, mourns its dead

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 27- "On holy stillness of body and soul"

22. Take up your seat on a high place and watch, if only you know how, and then you will see in what manner, when, whence, how many and what kind of thieves come to enter and steal your clusters of grapes.

January 12, 2011 

(Rom 6:12-13) Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions. Do not yield your members to sin as instruments of wickedness, but yield yourselves to God as men who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments of righteousness.


When the devil has enmeshed the soul in sin, he uses every means at his disposal to distract its attention from anything that would enable it to recognize the terrible condition into which it has fallen.

The devil is not content to stifle every inspiration from Heaven, and to suggest evil thoughts in their place. He endeavors to plunge it into new faults, either of the same or a more vicious nature by supplying dangerous opportunities to sin.

Thus the soul, deprived of Heavenly guidance, heaps sin upon sin, and hardens itself in its evil ways. Floundering in the mire, it rushes from darkness to darkness, from one pit to another, always moving farther from the path of salvation and multiplying sin upon sin, unless strengthened by an extraordinary grace from Heaven.

The most efficacious remedy against this evil is the willing reception of the Divine helps that will draw the soul from darkness to light, from vice to virtue. Let the soul cry out: "Lord, help me! Hasten to my relief! Do not leave me any longer in the darkness of sin and death!" Similar ejaculations should be frequently repeated.

If it is possible, one should immediately seek the advice of his confessor against the assaults of the enemy. If this is impossible, one should kneel before a crucifix, or beseech the Queen of Heaven for compassion and assistance.

Victory depends entirely on the diligent effort that is expended.


Delaware Diocese Offering $74 Million to Abuse Victims to Exit Bankruptcy
Milwaukee Archdiocese files for bankruptcy protection
Maltese Catholic church to set up tribunal into child sex abuse after victims write to Vatican
'De-baptism' in Belgium in wake of child abuse scandal


CATHOLIC ONLINE: Penance, Purification and Purity: Dealing with the Sin Within the Church

FIRST THINGS: The Priesthood and Justice

CALIFORNIA CATHOLIC DAILY: Prospect of a lucrative pay-off

: Statement on Father Mel Thompson's restoration to priestly service and retirement

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 27- "On holy stillness of body and soul"

21. Those whose mind has learned true prayer converse with the Lord face to face, as if speaking into the ear of the emperor. Those who make vocal prayer fall down before Him as if int he presence of the who senate. But those who live in the world petition the emperor amidst the clamour of all the crowds.

January 11, 2011 

(Rev 12:12-13) Rejoice then, O heaven and you that dwell therein! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!" And when the dragon saw that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursued the woman who had borne the male child.

OPEN DOORS REPORT: Open Doors, an organization supporting persecuted Christian churches, asserts 100 million Christians worldwide are targeted for their faith. It found that eight of the top 10 countries that are the most dangerous for Christians to practice their religion are nations with Islamic majorities, including Iran, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia and Yemen. Topping the list was communist North Korea.

New on this year's Open Doors list is Iraq, to the shame of that nation's new leadership and of its biggest backer, the United States. More than half of Iraq's Christian population, numbering 800,000 to 1.4 million before the 2003 U.S. invasion, have fled the country, according to the New York Times.


The Greatest Story Never Told
Mark Seddon: We may be witnessing a new age of Christian persecution
Christine M. Flowers: Christians in the crosshairs

PERSONAL TESTIMONY: A Knock at the door, A lesson for America


As a new year begins, our own hearts and the entire world continue to echo the joyful message proclaimed twenty centuries ago in the night of Bethlehem, a night which symbolizes humanity’s deep need for light, love and peace. To the men and women of that time, as to those of our own day, the heavenly hosts brought the good news of the coming of the Saviour: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined” (Is 9:1). The mystery of the Son of God who became the son of man truly surpasses all human expectations. In its absolute gratuitousness this saving event is the authentic and full response to the deep desire of every heart. The truth, goodness, happiness and abundant life which each man and woman consciously or unconsciously seeks are given to us by God. In longing for these gifts, each person is seeking his Creator, for “God alone responds to the yearning present in the heart of every man and woman” (Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Verbum Domini, 23). Humanity throughout history, in its beliefs and rituals, demonstrates a constant search for God and “these forms of religious expression are so universal that one may well call man a religious being” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 28). The religious dimension is an undeniable and irrepressible feature of man’s being and acting, the measure of the fulfilment of his destiny and of the building up of the community to which he belongs. Consequently, when the individual himself or those around him neglect or deny this fundamental dimension, imbalances and conflicts arise at all levels, both personal and interpersonal.

Ladies and Gentlemen, on this solemn occasion, allow me to state clearly several principles which inspire the Holy See, together with the whole Catholic Church, in its activity within the intergovernmental International Organizations for the promotion of full respect for the religious freedom of all. First, the conviction that one cannot create a sort of scale of degrees of religious intolerance. Unfortunately, such an attitude is frequently found, and it is precisely acts of discrimination against Christians which are considered less grave and less worthy of attention on the part of governments and public opinion. At the same time, there is a need to reject the dangerous notion of a conflict between the right to religious freedom and other human rights, thus disregarding or denying the central role of respect for religious freedom in the defence and protection of fundamental human dignity. Even less justifiable are attempts to counter the right of religious freedom with other alleged new rights which, while actively promoted by certain sectors of society and inserted in national legislation or in international directives, are nonetheless merely the expression of selfish desires lacking a foundation in authentic human nature. Finally, it seems unnecessary to point out that an abstract proclamation of religious freedom is insufficient: this fundamental rule of social life must find application and respect at every level and in all areas; otherwise, despite correct affirmations of principle, there is a risk that deep injustice will be done to citizens wishing to profess and freely practise their faith.

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 27- "On holy stillness of body and soul"

20. Do not fear the noises of prankish demons, for mourning does not know cowardice and is not scared by them.

January 6, 2011 


(Mat 2:10-11) And seeing the star they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And entering into the house, they found the child with Mary his mother, and falling down they adored him: and opening their treasures, they offered him gifts; gold, frankincense, and myrrh.


Human Life International e-Column: Epiphany
Catholic Online: The Happy Priest on the Feast of the Epiphany and Man's Search for God

EXCERPT HOMILY ST. LEO THE GREAT: Epiphany - the Star invites all Nations to Find Christ

The loving providence of God determined that in the last days he would aid the world, set on its course to destruction. He decreed that all nations should be saved in Christ.

A promise had been made to the holy patriarch Abraham in regard to these nations. He was to have a countless progeny, born not from his body but from the seed of faith. His descendants are therefore compared with the array of the stars. The father of all nations was to hope not in an earthly progeny but in a progeny from above.

Let the full number of the nations now take their place in the family of the patriarchs. Let the children of the promise now receive the blessing in the seed of Abraham, the blessing renounced by the children of his flesh. In the persons of the Magi let all people adore the Creator of the universe; let God be known, not in Judaea only, but in the whole world, so that his name may be great in all Israel.

Dear friends, now that we have received instruction in this revelation of God’s grace, let us celebrate with spiritual joy the day of our first harvesting, of the first calling of the Gentiles. Let us give thanks to the merciful God, who has made us worthy, in the words of the Apostle, to share the position of the saints in light, who has rescued us from the power of darkness, and brought us into the kingdom of his beloved Son. As Isaiah prophesied: the people of the Gentiles, who sat in darkness, have seen a great light, and for those who dwelt in the region of the shadow of death a light has dawned. He spoke of them to the Lord: The Gentiles, who do not know you, will invoke you, and the peoples, who knew you not, will take refuge in you.

This is the day that Abraham saw, and rejoiced to see, when he knew that the sons born of his faith would be blessed in his seed, that is, in Christ. Believing that he would be the father of the nations, he looked into the future, giving glory to God, in full awareness that God is able to do what he has promised.

This is the day that David prophesied in the psalms, when he said: All the nations that you have brought into being will come and fall down in adoration in your presence, Lord, and glorify your name. Again, the Lord has made known his salvation; in the sight of the nations he has revealed his justice.

This came to be fulfilled, as we know, from the time when the star beckoned the three wise men out of their distant country and led them to recognise and adore the King of heaven and earth. The obedience of the star calls us to imitate its humble service: to be servants, as best we can, of the grace that invites all men to find Christ.

Dear friends, you must have the same zeal to be of help to one another; then, in the kingdom of God, to which faith and good works are the way, you will shine as children of the light: through our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with God the Father and the Holy Spirit for ever and ever. Amen.

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 27- "On holy stillness of body and soul"

19. The patience of the sailor is tested in the midday heat or when he is becalmed; and the lack of necessitities tries the perseverance of the monk. When the one grows discouraged, he swims in the water; and when the other becomes despondent, he mixes with crowds.
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