Keep your eyes open!...


January 30, 2015  

(Mar 4:21-23) And he said to them: Doth a candle come in to be put under a bushel, or under a bed? and not to be set on a candlestick? For there is nothing hid, which shall not be made manifest: neither was it made secret, but that it may come abroad. If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.

NEWS.VA: Pope warns of globalization of indifference in Lenten message

EXCERPT ARCHBISHOP CHAPUT: The Great Charter at 800: Why it still matters

Democracies depend for their survival on people of conviction fighting for what they believe in the public square — legally and peacefully, but zealously and without apologies.  That includes all of us.

Critics often accuse religious believers of pursuing a “culture war” on issues like abortion, sexuality, marriage and the family, and religious liberty.  And in a sense, they’re right.  We are working hard for what we believe.  But of course, so are the people on the other side of all these issues – and no one seems to call them “culture warriors.”  In any case, neither they nor we should feel bad about fighting for our convictions.  Democracy thrives on the struggle of competing ideas.  We steal from ourselves and from our fellow citizens if we try to avoid that struggle.  Two of the worst qualities in any human being are cowardice and acedia – and by acedia I mean the kind of moral sloth that masquerades as tolerance but leaves a soul so empty of courage and character that even the devil Screwtape would spit it out.[iii]

In real life, democracy is built on two practical pillars: cooperation and conflict.  It requires both.  Cooperation, because people have a natural hunger for solidarity that makes all community possible.  And conflict, because people have competing visions of what’s right and true.  The more deeply they hold their convictions, the more naturally people seek to have those convictions shape society.

We have a duty to treat all persons with charity and justice.  We have a duty to seek common ground where possible.  But that’s never an excuse for compromising with grave evil.  It’s never an excuse for being naive.  And it’s never an excuse for standing idly by while our liberty to preach and serve God in the public square is whittled away.  We need to work vigorously in law and politics to form our culture in a godly understanding of human dignity and the purpose of human freedom.  Otherwise, we should stop trying to fool ourselves that we really believe what we claim to believe.

There’s more.  To work as the Founders intended, America needs a special kind of citizen.  It needs mature, well-informed men and women able to reason clearly and rule themselves prudently.  If that’s true – and it is – then the greatest danger to our liberty today is not religious extremism.  It’s a culture of narcissism that cocoons us in vulgarity, distraction and noise, while excluding God from the human imagination.

Kierkegaard once wrote that “the introspection of silence is the condition of all educated intercourse,” and that a culture of constant chattering “is afraid of the silence which reveals its emptiness.”[iv]  Silence feeds the soul.  Silence invites God to speak.  And silence is exactly what American life no longer allows.  Securing the place of religious freedom in our society is therefore not just a matter of law and politics, but of prayer and our own interior renewal.

ALETEIA: Who Wants Good Men? Satan Does—And the World Doesn't

The Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Sober Living

35. Hyperichius said, 'Let your mind be always on the kingdom of heaven, and you will soon inherit it.'

January 28, 2015  

(Mat 5:10-12) Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye when they shall revile you, and persecute you, and speak all that is evil against you, untruly, for my sake: Be glad and rejoice for your reward is very great in heaven. For so they persecuted the prophets that were before you.


CRISIS MAGAZINE: Mad Intelligence: The Secularist Response to Islam by Fr. George W. Rutler

CHIESA: Christians in Muslim Lands. Blessed Are the Persecuted

BLOG: What Did Thomas Aquinas Have to Say about Islam?

CATHOLIC SUN: Persecuted for faith, Christians are united in bloodshed, Pope says


Is Christian unity a priority for you?

“Yes, for me ecumenism is a priority. Today there is an ecumenism of blood. In some countries they kill Christians for wearing a cross or having a Bible and before they kill them they do not ask them whether they are Anglican, Lutheran, Catholic or Orthodox. Their blood is mixed. To those who kill we are Christians. We are united in blood, even though we have not yet managed to take necessary steps towards unity between us and perhaps the time has not yet come. Unity is a gift that we need to ask for. I knew a parish priest in Hamburg who was dealing with the beatification cause of a Catholic priest guillotined by the Nazis for teaching children the catechism. After him, in the list of condemned individuals, was a Lutheran pastor who was killed for the same reason. Their blood was mixed. The parish priest told me he had gone to the bishop and said to him: “I will continue to deal with the cause, but both of their causes, not just the Catholic priest’s.” This is what ecumenism of blood is. It still exists today; you just need to read the newspapers. Those who kill Christians don’t ask for your identity card to see which Church you were baptised in. We need to take these facts into consideration.”

CNA: 100 million reasons for concern about anti-Christian persecution


Missionary: Boko Haram behind attacks on churches in Niger
Chaldean leader calls for ‘dismantling’ of ideology that justifies Islamist violence
Jesuit laments car bomb attack in Homs, Syria: 'young people were deliberately targeted'

The Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Sober Living

32. Syncletica said, 'Let us live soberly, for thieves get in through our bodily senses. The inside of the house is sure to be blackened if the smoke that is coiling up outside finds the windows open.'

January 26, 2015  

(Isa 43:25) I am, I am he that blot out thy iniquities for my own sake, and I will not remember thy sins.

REFLECTION: Let us be honest to ourselves: We are not that lovable.  Our faults pile up one on top of the other.  We promise to do better, and we try for a short time.  But sooner or later, we fail.  So why does God still keep on taking chances on us?  Why does God give us chance after chance after chance?  What does God see in us?

In prayer, I have asked God these questions many times.  And in prayer, usually after going to Confession, I have always received the same answer.  I challenge God, “Who am I that you take such chances on me?” God responds simply, “You are mine.”

NEWS.VAPope Francis: God always forgives everything


PULSE.NG: 5 reasons Catholics go for confession

BLOG: Don't Play Chicken With Sin

It's a typically rash high school adrenaline move.  Two cars, headed directly toward each other at high speed—and whoever swerves first is the "chicken." If no one swerves, both people die.  It's all about pushing as long as you can before fear takes over and compels you turn the wheel—about the thrill of nearing the cliff's edge and skating along it as it crumbles.

I never played chicken with my car.  The whole idea seemed dumb to me—why risk life and limb for that sort of pointless thrill?  I wonder though, if this isn't exactly what we do with sin, all the time.

Christians who are dating love to ask one question more than almost any other: "How far can we go without it being fornication?" In a broader sense, I think that's often the question we're asking: "What can I get away with?" These are, of course, completely the wrong questions.  We're playing chicken with sin, but there's just one problem.  Sin never swerves.  Either we swerve soon enough—and the temptation to swerve later and later is always growing, because the thrill of almost doing something wrong is so powerful—or we hit the other car, and sin wins.

The approach is dangerous, fool-headed, and one we need to break ourselves of.  The longer we play chicken with sin, the more likely we'll fall.  People who toy with lust end up in adultery.  People who toy with greed end up embezzling from their company.  People who toy with gossip destroy friendships and tear apart churches.  Pick your sin; the consequences are inevitable.  When you play with fire, you get burned.

The question we really ought to be asking is not, "What can I get away with?" but "How can I best glorify God?" You see, it's more than the fact that sin will win every time in our games of chicken.  It's that asking "What can I get away with?" is itself sinful.  It betrays the real attitude of our hearts: not a desire to honor Jesus Christ as Lord, but a desire not to be punished.  It shows that we do not understand the gospel or know God well.  In Christ all our sins are forgiven; God's mercy is very great and his love beyond our understanding.  If the only question we are asking is, "How much before God punishes me?" then either we are still very immature in our faith, or we are not believers at all.

The more we know God, and the more we understand what Jesus accomplished on the cross, and the more we seek the wisdom given by the Spirit, the more we will learn to love God—heart, soul, and mind.  We will do good and hate evil not as a means of avoiding punishment but out of love, and because—more and more every day—we truly do love doing good and we truly do hate evil.  We will treasure the things God values and cast off the things God despises not out of some misguided attempt to curry favor but because increasingly we are like him.  That sort of radical transformation marks the difference between real gospel transformation and therapeutic moralism with a Christian imprint.

And most of us are playing chicken with sin.  God help us.

The Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Sober Living

30. Some brothers once asked Silvanus, 'What way of life did you follow to be endowed with such prudence?' He answered, 'I have never let any bitter thought remain in my heart.'

January 23, 2015  

(Deu 30:19) I call heaven and earth to witness this day, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing. Choose therefore life, that both thou and thy seed may live:

FROM THE MAILBAG: Reflection by Father Ted - January 22, 2015

This morning, dearest Jesus, You persuaded the sisters at Mass to sing the Kyrie Eleison many times, not just the typical six times. I found this most providential since on this day we commemorate the abominable decision that our United States Supreme Court proclaimed forty two years ago which has resulted in the murder of over 52 million babies.

You want us to plead with You as You have indicated in the Opening Prayer for the Second Sunday in Ordinary Time which I prayed at this morning’s Mass.

You want us to plead with You for Your Mercy.

You want us to ask You again and again to pour Your grace into our hearts so that we will accept the truth that all life is sacred.

So many of our brothers and sisters in our country are blind to the sacredness of all life. They proclaim that their views are correct. Some even proclaim that it the right of a woman to choose to terminate the life of their unborn child through abortions. And many of the members of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of our federal government promote this lie.

Only if we plead with You through prayer and fasting will the truth of the sacredness of all human life be able to penetrate their hearts. And so we pray – Lord, have mercy on us! Lord, have mercy on us! Lord, have mercy on us! Lord, have mercy on us! ....

Forgive us our sins! Save us from the fires of hell! Lead all souls to heaven, especially those who have most need of Your Mercy!

: 29 Beautiful Reminders of Why People March for Life

VIDEO: New March for Life Video Celebrates Defenders of the Unborn


LIFENEWS RECAP: Hundreds of Thousands of Pro-Lifers March for Life: Mourn 57 Million Abortions

Hundreds of thousands of pro-life people turned out for the annual March for Life in Washington, braving cold temperatures to take a stand for the right to life of unborn children. While marchers mourned 42 years of legalized abortion, many sounded a hopeful theme for a pro-life future and think the decision will eventually be reversed.

The Roe v. Wade decision, handed down on January 22, 1973, overturned pro-life laws offering protection for unborn children in most states across the country, and made abortions legal and virtually unlimited. Almost 58 million unborn children have been killed in abortions since.

Polling data shows Americans are pro-life and few agree with Obama’s unlimited abortion position. Pope Francis sent out a tweet praying for the marchers.

As with other recent marches, the number of young adults and high school and college students impressed organizers and provided another reason to be optimistic.

LifeNews has collected dozens of March for Life pictures from pro-lifers attending today’s March for Life. Below is a selection of those celebrating life and mourning Roe v. Wade.

LIFESITE: ‘The largest human rights march in the world’: Hundreds of thousands join DC March for Life

The Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Sober Living

27. A brother said to Sisois, 'I want to guard my heart.' He said to him, 'How can we guard the heart if our tongue leaves the door of the fortress open?'

January 21, 2015  

(Psa 139:13-14) You formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother’s womb. I praise you, because I am wonderfully made; wonderful are your works! My very self you know.

POPE FRANCIS (9/13): "Dear medical friends, you are called to take care of human life in its initial phase, reminding everyone, with facts and words, that this is always, in all its phases and at any age, sacred and always of quality. And not as a matter of faith – no, no – but of reason and science! There is no human life more sacred than another, just as no human life is qualitatively more significant than another. The credibility of a health care system is measured not only in efficiency, but above all in the attention and love towards people, whose lives are always sacred and inviolable."

BISHOP EDWARD J. BURNS: "Abortion is the worst kind of domestic violence."

CELEBRATE LIFE MAGAZINE: Every life a universe: How one life can radically redefine the meaning of another by Terrell Clemmons

THE CATHOLIC VOICE: In search of healing after an abortion

THE AMERICAN CONSERVATIVE: Canadian Christians: Tomorrow’s Soviet Jews?

USCCB: National Prayer Vigil For Life

The National Prayer Vigil for Life is an all-night pro-life prayer vigil held on the eve of the March for Life each January. Over 20,000 pilgrims from across the nation pray through the night for an end to abortion and a greater respect for all human life. It is held at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.

The vigil schedule includes the Opening Mass celebrated in the Great Upper Church. Prayer continues throughout the night with the National Rosary for Life, Night Prayer and Holy Hours for Life. The following morning, the prayer vigil concludes with Morning Prayer, Benediction and the Closing Mass the next morning.

The National Prayer Vigil for Life is one small part of the Church's "great prayer for life." It is sponsored by the USCCB Pro-Life Secretariat, the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, and The Catholic University of America Office of Campus Ministry.

A great prayer for life is urgently needed, a prayer which will rise up throughout the world. Through special initiatives and in daily prayer, may an impassioned plea rise to God, the Creator and lover of life, from every Christian community, from every group and association, from every family and from the heart of every believer. - Pope Saint John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae, no. 100

HEADLINE: March For Life Expects up to 500,000

Up to 500,000 mostly young people are queued up to rally for unborn children on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, January 22, in what has become the largest ongoing civil rights march in American history.

The backdrop to the 42nd March for Life is the increasing despair and even desperation of abortion advocates best represented by an unsigned editorial in Tuesday’s New York Times, entitled “A Perilous Year for Abortion Rights.” The editorial laments, “The start of 2015 finds no letup in the attacks on a woman’s constitutionally protected right to make her own childbearing decisions.” The Times and other abortion advocates note the huge number of state restrictions on abortion providers that have resulted in the closure of dozens of abortion clinics.

Pro-life legislatures have passed laws requiring abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at the local hospital, something that is fairly easy for most doctors but appears to be difficult for the more marginal abortion doctors. Legislatures have also required abortion clinics to bring their physical plants up to the level of surgical centers, something that many clinics have not been able to afford.

The Times says, “Defenders of abortion rights have had their hands full trying to block or at least minimize new restrictive laws, totaling 231, according to the Guttmacher Institute, exceeding the total for the entire previous decade.”

REVIEW: Roe v Wade, Doe v Bolton: The Deception Continues

HEARTBREAKING: Diocese offers proper burial for fetus found in sewage treatment plant

The Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Sober Living

25. He also said, 'Do not stay with anyone who is always scornful when they speak.'

January 20, 2015  

(Mat 28:19-20) Going therefore, teach ye all nations: baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. And behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world.

OFFICIAL WEBSITE: The Papal Visit to the Philippines

EDITORIAL: The Pope’s challenge to the powerful

UPI: Pope Francis left the Philippines on Monday, ending his tour of Sri Lanka and Asia's predominantly Roman Catholic country

ALETEIA: Pope Francis' Closing Homily In Manila: "Remember Your Deepest Identity And Protect Your Family"

In his homily on the feast of Santo Niño [the Holy Child] in Manila on Sunday, Pope Francis called the faithful to see in the Child Jesus their deepest identity and to protect their families against the devil’s insidious attacks against it.

Speaking to an enormous estimated crowd of 6 million faithful in Rizal Park, site to the 1995 World Youth Day, the Pope said that the image of the Child Jesus, which accompanied the Christianization of the Philippines, continues to remind us of “the link between God’s Kingdom and the mystery of spiritual childhood”.

The Santo Niño, he said, reminds us of our deepest identity. “In Christ we have become God’s adopted children, brothers and sisters in Christ. This is who we are. This is our identity.” Yet Pope Francis also noted that the world and the devil seek to make us forget the truth of who we are.

“The devil is the father of lies,” he said. “Often he hides his snares behind the appearance of sophistication, the allure of being ‘modern’, ‘like everyone else’. He distracts us with the view of ephemeral pleasures, superficial pastimes. And so we squander our God-given gifts by tinkering with gadgets; we squander our money on gambling and drink; we turn in our ourselves. We forget to remain focused on the things that really matter."

“We forget to remain, at heart, children of God,” he said. “This is sin: to forget, in one’s heart, to be children of God.” The Holy Child also reminds us that this identity, and our families, must be protected, the Pope observed.

“Sadly, in our day, the family all too often needs to be protected against insidious attacks and programs contrary to all that we hold true and sacred, all that is most beautiful and noble in our culture,” he said. “Specifically,” he added, “we need to see each child as a gift to be welcomed, cherished and protected.” Pope Francis’ words follow his address to families Friday, in which he spoke of an “ideological colonization” that is seeking to destroy the family and reaffirmed the Church’s teaching set forth by Blessed Pope Paul VI in Humanae Vitae.

His comments come in the wake of the Filipino President Benigno Aquino’s signing of a controversial reproductive health bill that would require government-sanctioned sex education for adults, middle and high school students, and a population control program that includes fully subsidized contraceptives under government health insurance.

The Pope concluded his remarks by commending the Filipino faithful to the Santo Niño, asking that he continue to bless the Philippines and sustain Christians in their vocation to be witnesses and missionaries of the joy of the Gospel, in Asia and in the whole world.

HOMILY IN TACLOBAN CITY: Pope Francis: in all our trials, the Lord goes before us

NEWS.VA: Moving encounter with Pope Francis: Testimony of Filipino street children

FIDES.ORG: "Year of the poor" and new evangelization: Bishops in assembly after the Pope's visit

The Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Sober Living

24. He also said, 'The beginning and the end is the fear of the Lord. For it is written, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom" (Ps. 111:10) and, when Abraham built an altar the Lord said to him, "now I know that you fear God" (Gen. 22:12).'

January 15, 2015  

(2Th 2:1-3) And we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and of our gathering together unto him: That you be not easily moved from your sense nor be terrified, neither by spirit nor by word nor by epistle. as sent from us, as if the day of the Lord were at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means: for unless there come a revolt first, and the man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition

HOMILY EXCERPT: In his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, Jewish author Elie Wiesel said, “Take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented” (Steve May, The Story File, p. 55).

If all of us who claim to be Christians spoke out against the evils in our society and got involved in working for a better world, our nation would be spiritually transformed almost overnight; God’s grace would be unleashed, and America would be filled with divine light and once again become a glorious example for the rest of the world. To the objection “But I’m just one person; what can I do?,” the answer is simple: pray to the Holy Spirit for guidance, ask the Lord for opportunities to serve Him, and then use the everyday events and encounters of life to share Christ’s truth and love.

For instance, if the parish or a community group asks for volunteers, seriously consider saying “yes.” If someone seems to be having a bad day, share an encouraging word and offer your assistance. If our Catholic Faith is ridiculed or criticized, politely but firmly speak up in defense of the Church. If a family member or anyone else over whom you have influence misbehaves or makes a mistake, offer correction in a humble and loving way. If a business or public figure sponsors or promotes immoral or offensive entertainment or behavior, write a respectful letter of protest. If someone you know is living a sinful life, never cease praying for that person’s conversion. If you’re unexpectedly confronted with your own human fallibility and weakness, have the courage to take an honest look at yourself, and ask God to begin His process of renewing the world in your own heart.

: Thoughts by St Theophan (1815-1894) [Eph. 1:16-23; Luke 12:32-40]

Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning. We must be ready at every hour — one does not know when the Lord will come, either for the Last Judgment, or to take you from here; they are the same for you. Death decides everything. After it comes the results of your life, you can be content with what you have sought to gain for all of eternity. If you sought what is good, your lot will be good; if you sought what is evil, then your lot will be evil. This is as true as it is true that you exist.

All of this could be decided this moment — here at this very moment, as you read these lines, and then — the end to all: a seal will be set to your existence, which nobody can remove. This is something to think about! But one never ceases to be amazed at how little people think about it. What is this mystery wrought over us! We all know that death is around the corner, that it is impossible to escape it, but meanwhile almost nobody thinks about it — and it will come suddenly and seize us. Even then... Even when a fatal disease seizes a person he still does not think that the end has come. Let psychologists decide this from a scientific aspect; from the moral aspect it is impossible not to see here an incomprehensible self-delusion, alien only to one who is heedful of himself.

The Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Sober Living

23. Poemen said that someone asked Paesisus this question, 'What am I to do about my soul? I have become incapable of feeling and I do not fear God.' He said to him, 'Go, and live with someone who does fear God: and by being there, you to.'

January 13, 2015  

(2Co 5:19-20) For God indeed was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, not imputing to them their sins. And he hath placed in us the word of reconciliation. For Christ therefore we are ambassadors, God as it were exhorting by us, for Christ, we beseech you, be reconciled to God.

VATICAN RADIO: Pope: Religion Must Never be Abused in the Cause of War


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STRATFOR ANALYSIS:  A War Between Two Worlds

SPIRIT DAILY: Eruptions of Muslim Violence and Massive Demonstrations Bring up Amazing African Prophecy

: Pope Francis begins his apostolic trip to Sri Lanka

This morning Pope Francis began his visit to Sri Lanka and the Philippines, the seventh apostolic trip of his papacy. Like his predecessor St. John Paul II, he will visit the two Asian countries with the greatest number of Catholics in a single trip. The visit to Sri Lanka will last for two days and will include an interreligious meeting, the canonisation of Joseph Vaz and a Marian prayer at the shrine of Our Lady of Madhu. During his three-day visit to the Philippines the Holy Father will meet, among others, victims of the typhoon Yolanda. The last day of his trip will coincide with the feast day of the Holy Child of Cebu in the Philippines, whose shrine receives millions of pilgrims.

POPE'S WELCOMING ADDRESS: “My visit to Sri Lanka is primarily pastoral”, he began. “As the universal pastor of the Catholic Church, I have come to meet, encourage and pray with the Catholic people of this island. A highlight of this visit will be the canonisation of Blessed Joseph Vaz, whose example of Christian charity and respect for all people, regardless of ethnicity or religion, continues to inspire and teach us today. But my visit is also meant to express the Church’s love and concern for all Sri Lankans, and to confirm the desire of the Catholic community to be an active participant in the life of this society.

“It is a continuing tragedy in our world that so many communities are at war between themselves. The inability to reconcile differences and disagreements, whether old or new, has given rise to ethnic and religious tensions, frequently accompanied by outbreaks of violence. Sri Lanka for many years knew the horrors of civil strife, and is now seeking to consolidate peace and to heal the scars of those years. It is no easy task to overcome the bitter legacy of injustice, hostility and mistrust left by the conflict. It can only be done by overcoming evil with good and by cultivating those virtues which foster reconciliation, solidarity and peace. The process of healing also needs to include the pursuit of truth, not for the sake of opening old wounds, but rather as a necessary means of promoting justice, healing and unity.

“Dear friends, I am convinced that the followers of the various religious traditions have an essential role to play in the delicate process of reconciliation and rebuilding which is taking place in this country. For that process to succeed, all members of society must work together; all must have a voice. All must be free to express their concerns, their needs, their aspirations and their fears. Most importantly, they must be prepared to accept one another, to respect legitimate diversities, and learn to live as one family. Whenever people listen to one another humbly and openly, their shared values and aspirations become all the more apparent. Diversity is no longer seen as a threat, but as a source of enrichment. The path to justice, reconciliation and social harmony becomes all the more clearly seen.

“In this sense, the great work of rebuilding must embrace improving infrastructures and meeting material needs, but also, and even more importantly, promoting human dignity, respect for human rights, and the full inclusion of each member of society. It is my hope that Sri Lanka’s political, religious and cultural leaders, by measuring their every word and action by the good and the healing it will bring, will make a lasting contribution to the material and spiritual progress of the Sri Lankan people”. The Pontiff concluded, “Mr President, dear friends, I thank you once again for your welcome. May these days we spend together be days of friendship, dialogue and solidarity. I invoke an abundance of God’s blessings upon Sri Lanka, the Pearl of the Indian Ocean, and I pray that its beauty may shine forth in the prosperity and peace of all its people”.

ANALYSIS: Pope Francis has a chance to do some good in Sri Lanka

The Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Sober Living

12. Theonas said, 'Our mind is hindered and held back from contemplating God, because we are kept prisoner by our bodily passions.'

January 12, 2015  

(Isa 58:10) When thou shalt pour out thy soul to the hungry, and shalt satisfy the afflicted soul, then shall thy light rise up in darkness, and thy darkness shall be as the noonday.

POPE FRANCIS: “Through the help given to our brothers and sisters in Haiti, we have shown that the Church is a great body, one in which the various members care for one another. It is in this communion, prompted by the Holy Spirit, that our charitable service finds its deepest motivation.”


The Pope’s appeal for Haiti: There’s still a great deal left to do to rebuild the country
Tens of thousands still living in tents 5 years after Haiti earthquake
View: Haiti earthquake changed my life

CNA: Haitian amputees lace-up soccer cleats on Roman sports field

: Haitians can take the lead in confronting challenges by Archbishop Thomas Wenski

On Jan.10, I, along with Haiti’s cardinal and several other bishops and church leaders from Haiti, the United States and other countries will attend a conference convened by Pope Francis on the fifth anniversary of the earthquake that was this hemisphere’s worst humanitarian disaster of this century so far.

We will reflect on the challenges that confront Haiti and its institutions, such as the Catholic Church, as the country seeks to overcome endemic poverty and political instability.

It is said that the earthquake killed thousands of people. But more correctly, those thousands died because of negligence, the absence of building codes and a considerable dearth of technical competence. In that same year, after a stronger quake in Chile, only a couple of hundred people died, and in New Zealand another quake, again stronger in intensity than Haiti’s, took no lives.

Haiti’s earthquake revealed deep inadequacies in infrastructure and in governance. Five years later, much of these failings remain unremedied. The world responded with compassion and generosity after the earthquake. Yet today, in both the public and private sectors, everyone is frustrated that rebuilding is not further advanced.

That is not to say that there are no gains to celebrate. The Catholic Church in Haiti can point to several achievements. For example, Grand Goâve has a new parish church, Jacmel and Port-au-Prince have provisional cathedrals, several schools have been rebuilt and other churches and schools are soon to come out of the ground. Port-au-Prince’s St. Francis de Sales hospital, rebuilt with donations from U.S. Catholic faithful and Catholic hospitals, will reopen this month.

The Archdiocese of Miami contributed $1 million for a facility built on the outskirts of the capital that now serves as a provisional seminary housing 150 of Haiti’s future priests.

PROCHE — Partnership for Church Reconstruction in Haiti — is a cooperative venture between donor churches in the United States and Europe and the bishops of Haiti that directs funds through a construction management entity within the Haitian Bishops’ Conference to ensure that new construction is built to code and can withstand future tremors and hurricanes. In addition to $70 million for humanitarian relief, U.S. Catholics committed $30 million raised right after the earthquake for rebuilding the church’s infrastructure.

Still, after five years, the pace is too slow and to replace the infrastructure the Catholic Church lost, an additional $200 million over and above what is committed would not be enough. The Catholic Church is a key actor in Haitian society — it is the largest provider of healthcare and education there.

In sum, Haiti’s efforts to rebuild have only barely gotten under way: thus, Pope Francis’ initiative lest Haiti’s needs be forgotten by the rest of the world.

Pope Francis won’t just be asking for donations to build more churches. Haiti needs what he call the “globalization of solidarity” represented by increased foreign investment that will create jobs for its hardworking population.

The creation of jobs in the apparel sector was the basis for the important role the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops played in getting the U.S. Congress to pass original HOPE Act in 2006. The expectation was for 150,000 jobs in the short term. At the end of 2014, there were only 36,000 workers in apparel who nevertheless produce 90 percent of Haiti’s exports.

The potential for growth in the sector is clear. No sooner is a factory space of 10,000-square meters built than are 1,200 to 1,500 workers hired. But for those factories to be built, Haiti needs an effective government to provide essential services as well as the legal framework that encourages investment. At the same time, Haiti is a mostly agrarian society; yet, more than 50 percent of food consumed is imported. Creating opportunities to increase local food production would also lead to real sustainable change for Haiti’s people.

Haiti suffers from extreme material poverty. Haitians must be the main protagonists in their own development but not without help from the human family. The outcome hoped for is a society and an environment that uphold dignity, prosperity and peace.

The Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Sober Living

10. He also said, 'If you always keep in mind your death and the eternal judgment, there will be no stain on your soul.'

January 8, 2015  

(1Pe 5:2-4) Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking care of it, not by constraint but willingly, according to God: not for filthy lucre's sake but voluntarily: Neither as lording it over the clergy but being made a pattern of the flock from the heart. And when the prince of pastors shall appear, you shall receive a never fading crown of glory.

LIFESITENEWS.COM: Bishop refused to attend Rhode Island governor’s inauguration over her pro-abortion stance

The Roman Catholic Bishop of Providence declined an invitation to attend Rhode Island Governor-elect Gina Raimondo’s inauguration Tuesday due to her support for “the grave moral evil” of legalized abortion.

“Over the weekend I did receive a formal written invitation to the Inauguration, the courtesy of which I appreciated,” Bishop Thomas Tobin wrote in an email to the Providence Journal. “However, as previously announced I will be offering Holy Mass at the Cathedral at that same time to ask for God’s blessings upon our state and nation and our public servants.” “I should add, though, that in conscience, it would always be a problem for me personally to attend the inauguration of any public official who promotes or supports abortion, which we consider to be a very grave moral evil,” the bishop continued.

Raimondo, a Catholic, has been vocally at odds with her Church over the issue of abortion-on-demand. She ran on a pro-abortion platform so vehement that she vowed to support a repeal of Rhode Island’s ban on partial birth abortion, and to oppose any attempt to offer a health care package on the state health exchange that explicitly excludes abortion coverage, as federal law requires.

Previously, Bishop Tobin had offered strong words in condemnation of Raimondo’s support for abortion.

“It is always disappointing when a Catholic candidate for political office abandons the teaching of the Church on the dignity of human life for the sake of self-serving political gain,” Tobin wrote. “Such actions demonstrate an inexcusable lack of moral courage.”

MORE FROM BISHOP TOBIN: Hey, Watch Your Language!

LIFESITENEWS.COM: Miami Archbishop reminds diocesan employees: you could lose your job if you support gay ‘marriage’

Miami Archbishop Thomas Wenski wasted no time reminding employees of his archdiocese of their call to fidelity to the Church in light of recent decision by a Florida judge to redefine marriage to include same-sex couples.

The archbishop issued a letter to Church employees explaining that public support for behavior in conflict with Catholic teaching, including via social media, could cost them their job.

“All employees should note that, because of the Church’s particular function in society, certain conduct, inconsistent with the teachings of the Catholic Church, could lead to disciplinary action, including termination,” the standard quoted in the letter states. “Even if it occurs outside the normal working day and outside the strict confines of work performed by the employee for the archdiocese.”

The conduct policy states as well that employees must use discretion when posting on social media sites and they should be aware that online activity which goes against the teachings of the Church could also result in discipline or termination.

ARCHDIOCESE OF MIAMI: Bishops comment on 'redefinition' of marriage in Florida

VATICAN RADIO: Catholic Bishops in Ghana speak out against Corruption

Catholic Bishops in Ghana have spoken out against the bane of corruption in their country.

The Bishops have criticised what they are calling the “twin evils of bribery and corruption” in Ghanaian society. These two evils, they say, are ravaging the very fabric of society. They warn against impunity in the face of endemic corruption which they say is now openly practised and has become prevalent.

The Ghanaian Bishops made the pronouncements in their New Year message to the people of Ghana released yesterday. The message is issued by the Konongo-Mampong Diocesan Bishop, Joseph Osei-Bonsu, who is also President of the Ghana Catholic Bishops Conference. “If corruption is rife in our country today, it is principally because, even though we have strong institutions, there is generally speaking a lack of integrity on the part of the people operating these institutions and on the part of many individuals in the country. If people were guided in their consciences by integrity and honesty, there would be no corruption or, at least, it would be reduced drastically and Ghana would be a better place than it is today,” the Bishops say.

MORE FROM GHANA: Build strong families to hold society – Catholic Bishop

The Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Sober Living 

9. Evagrius said, 'It is a great thing to pray without distraction. It is even greater to sing psalms without distraction.'

January 7, 2015  

(Rom 12:19-21) Revenge not yourselves, my dearly beloved; but give place unto wrath, for it is written: Revenge is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord. But if the enemy be hungry, give him to eat; if he thirst, give him to drink. For, doing this, thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head. Be not overcome by evil: but overcome evil by good.

HEADLINE: 12 dead after gun attack at French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo

A huge manhunt is underway in Paris after at least 12 people were killed and seven others injured in a shooting at the offices of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.  A police official spoke of a scene of “carnage” at the scene.  The attack took place during the magazine’s weekly editorial meeting. The editor Stéphane Charbonnier and three other cartoonists are reported to have been killed.

A police source quoted a survivor as saying the attackers shouted: “We have avenged the prophet!” and “Allah Akbar”.  President Francois Hollande called the shooting “an act of indescribable barbarity”. The French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve in a statement to the media talked about the hunt for “trois criminels”, confirming there were three attackers. 

The government said it was raising France’s security level to the highest notch and the prime minister’s office confirmed extra security has been put in place at official buildings, media offices, churches and department stores.

The Charlie Hebdo offices were the target of a firebomb attack in November, 2011, which occurred soon after the newspaper published a controversial image of the Prophet Mohamed on its cover.  The last tweet on Charlie Hebdo’s account had mocked Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State, which has taken control of large swathes of Iraq and Syria.

France was already on high alert after calls last year from Islamist militants to attack its citizens and interests in reprisal for French military strikes on Islamist strongholds in the Middle East and Africa.

REUTERS: Vatican condemns Paris shooting as "abominable"

The Vatican on Wednesday condemned as "abominable" the shooting that killed at least 12 people in the Paris offices of a weekly satirical magazine known for lampooning radical Islam.

"It is a double act of violence, abominable because it is both an attack against people as well as against freedom of the press," said the Vatican's deputy spokesman, Father Ciro Benedettini.

He added that Pope Francis would likely issue a personal condemnation later on Wednesday by sending a message to the archbishop of Paris.

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: The hope of Christianity

ALETEIA: Saturday Night Live Pokes Fun, but Reminds Us Why We Go to Mass

G.K. CHESTERTON: It is the test of a good religion whether you can joke about it. – All Things Considered

The Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Sober Living 

7. When he was dying, Bessarion said, 'A monk ought to be like the Cherubim and Seraphim, all eye.

January 6, 2015  

(Psa 72:12-13) For he shall deliver the poor from the mighty: and the needy that had no helper. He shall spare the poor and needy: and he shall save the souls of the poor.

POPE FRANCIS: And so we can ask ourselves: what is the mystery in which God is hidden? Where can I find him? All around us we see wars, the exploitation of children, torture, trafficking in arms, trafficking in persons… In all these realities, in these, the least of our brothers and sisters who are enduring these difficult situations, there is Jesus (cf. Mt 25:40,45). The crib points us to a different path from the one cherished by the thinking of this world: it is the path of God’s self-abasement, his glory concealed in the manger of Bethlehem, on the cross upon Calvary, in each of our suffering brothers and sisters.

ARCHDIOCESE OF WASHINGTON: From Magi to Wise Men – A Homily for Epiphany by: Msgr. Charles Pope

VIA A MOMENT WITH MARY: This faith is fulfilled in the Virgin Mary

Today we are celebrating above all the Epiphany of the Lord, his manifestation to the nations, while many Eastern Churches, according to the Julian Calendar, celebrate the Birth. … It is a juxtaposition which also makes us reflect also from the viewpoint of faith. Moreover, at Christmas in front of Jesus, we see the faith of Mary, of Joseph and of the shepherds; and today on the Epiphany the faith of the three Magi, come from the East to worship the King of the Jews.

The Virgin Mary, together with her husband, represents the “stump” of Israel, the “remnant” foretold by the prophets, from which the Messiah was to spring. Instead the Magi represent the peoples, and we can say even civilizations… on their way to God, searching for his kingdom of peace, justice, truth and freedom.

There was first a nucleus, embodied above all by Mary, the “daughter of Zion”: a nucleus of Israel, the people that know and have faith in that God who revealed himself to the Patriarchs and on the path of history. This faith is fulfilled in Mary, in the fullness of time; in her, “blessed because she believed,” the Word was made flesh, God “appeared” in the world.

Mary’s faith becomes the first fruits and the model of the faith of the Church, the People of the New Covenant. But from the beginning this people is universal and we can see this today in the figures of the Magi who arrive in Bethlehem…

MEDITATION: Thoughts by St Theophan (1815-1894) [II Tim. 4:5–8; Mark 1:1–8]

Before the Lord's appearance to the people, before He began the work of Divine economy of our salvation, Saint John the Forerunner was sent to prepare people for receiving Him. This preparation consisted in a call to repentance. Since then, repentance has become the path to the Lord and Saviour, and the threshold to faith in Him.

The Saviour Himself began His preaching with the words: Repent ye, and believe the gospel (Mark 1:15). Repentance and faith lead a person who seeks salvation back and forth between these two states. Repentance weighs him down with the burden of his sins and frightens him with the impartial judgement of God's righteousness. But faith comes along and shows him the Deliverer Who has taken away the sins of the world. He who repents cleaves to the Deliverer, and laying down the burden of his sins through confession, joyfully runs after Him along the path of His commandments. Faith in this manner is born of repentance and is founded on it.

He who repents holds firmly onto faith according to his feeling of deliverance. Faith is alive through repentance. Without repentance faith would be like a sapling which is without an animating current — withered and not giving of life.

The Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Sober Living 

6. He also said, 'If you really want to, by the evening of one day you can reach a measure of godliness.
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