Keep your eyes open!...


January 30, 2017  

(Psa 139:13-16) For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast protected me from my mother's womb. I will praise thee, for thou art fearfully magnified: wonderful are thy works, and my soul knoweth right well. My bone is not hidden from thee, which thou hast made in secret: and my substance in the lower parts of the earth. Thy eyes did see my imperfect being, and in thy book all shall be written: days shall be formed, and no one in them.

EXCERPT ARCHBISHOP CHAPUT: The March for Life in year 44

When the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision legalized permissive abortion 44 years ago this month, abortion supporters argued that abortion was a sad necessity. As such, it needed to be made safe, legal and rare. Now it’s celebrated as a sacred right that demands veneration from the whole culture, including the millions of ordinary people who see this kind of officially blessed homicide as a gravely evil act.

One of the more promising signs from the new administration is its apparent sympathy for some key prolife concerns, from the appointment of Supreme Court justices to the defunding of Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider.

Of course, being “prolife” involves a great deal more than a defense of the unborn child, though it certainly needs to start there. Maybe the best way to amplify and elevate President Trump’s understanding of that word “prolife” would be for a premier Catholic university – say, for example, the University of Notre Dame – to invite him to campus to offer its commencement address, to explain his personal evolution on the abortion issue, and to share, listen and learn with a cross-section of students and faculty in a respectful dialogue on the meaning of human dignity.

Notre Dame takes pride in its tradition of welcoming to campus U.S. presidents from both parties and with very different views. In that light, the invitation would certainly make sense and might be fruitful in unforeseen ways. God writes straight with crooked lines.

In the meantime, abortion is still with us. As thousands of Catholics and other prolife persons gather in Washington on January 27 and walk together in the annual March for Life, the time has never been better, nor the need more urgent, to pray for our country, to pray for the end of abortion, and to pray for a conversion in the hearts our leaders.

Forty-four years after Roe, a reverence for the sanctity of human life still burns in the spirit of far too many people to ignore.

EXCERPT MSGR. POPE BLOG: The Miracle of Life as We March

No human being is an accident, no conception a surprise or inconvenience to God. He knew and loved us long before we were ever conceived, for He says, Before I ever formed you in the womb I knew you (Jer 1:4). God has always known everything we would ever do or be.

It is often mysterious to us why human life is sometimes conceived under difficult circumstances such as poverty, times of family struggle or crisis, even disability and disadvantage. But in the end we see so very little; we must ponder the mystery of God’s reminder that many who are “last” will be first in the Kingdom (e.g. Matt 20:16; Luke 1:52-53).

So on Friday, many will march, but all are called to remember the sacred lives that have been lost. We acknowledge our loss, for the gifts of these children have been swept from us. We pray for women who struggle to bring children to term and experience pressure to consider abortion. We pray for the immediate conversion of all who support legalized abortion for any reason as well as for the dedication to assist women facing difficulties in giving birth to or raising their children.


Pope Francis offers prayers, sends greetings to March for Life
A Civilized Nation does not Kill Babies
Pence to pro-lifers: Win hearts with compassion and love

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

2. Slander is an offspring of hatred, a subtle yet coarse disease, a leech lurking unfelt, wasting and draining the blood of love. It is a simulation of love, the patron of a heavy and unclean heart, the ruin of chastity.

January 26, 2017

(Rom 5:3-5) And not only so: but we glory also in tribulation, knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience trial; and trial hope; And hope confoundeth not: because the charity of God is poured forth in our hearts, by the Holy Ghost who is given to us.

POPE FRANCIS: “Dear brothers and sisters, never impose your conditions on God, but allow Christian hope to defeat your fear. To trust in God means to be unconditionally part of his plan accepting the fact that we are given salvation and His help in ways that are different from what we expect.  God knows exactly what it is we are in need of and we must trust Him because his paths and his actions are different to ours".

FR. GEORGE RUTLER: Sermon Spotlight: Working in God’s Time

EXCERPT FR. JOSEPH M. ESPER: The Saints Teach Us How to Trust God

“Do not fear what may happen tomorrow. The same loving Father who cares for you today will care for you tomorrow and every day. Either He will shield you from suffering, or He will give you unfailing strength to bear it. Be at peace, then, and put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginings.” — St. Francis de Sales

“A few acts of confidence and love are worth more than a thousand ‘Who knows? Who knows?’ Heaven is filled with converted sinners of all kinds, and there is room for more.” — St. Joseph Cafasso

“Those whose hearts are enlarged by confidence in God run swiftly on the path of perfection. They not only run, they fly; because, having placed all their hope in the Lord, they are no longer weak as they once were. They become strong with the strength of God, which is given to all who put their trust in Him.” — St. Alphonsus Liguori


The Synoptic gospels record the story of Jesus calming the waters during a storm on the lake. As Mark has it: With the coming of evening that same day, Jesus said to them, “Let us cross over to the other side”. And leaving the crowd behind they took him, just as he was, in the boat; and there were other boats with him. Then it began to blow a gale and the waves were breaking into the boat so that it was almost swamped. But he was in the stern, his head on a cushion, asleep. They woke him and said to him, “Master do you not care? We are going down!” And he woke up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Quiet now! Be calm!” And the wind dropped, and all was calm again. Then he said to them, “Why are you so frightened? How is it that you have no faith?” They were filled with awe and said to one another: “Who can this be? Even the wind and sea obey him.” (Mark 4, 35-41).

The parallel between these two stories is clear. The deeper lessons contained within them though are perhaps less obvious, at least during the more stormy moments in our lives. In essence, both stories tell us that God is still in charge of this universe, every counter-indication notwithstanding. The first Christian creeds had only one line: Jesus is Lord! Ultimately that says enough, says it all. God still rules, even in death and darkness. But, as these stories also make clear, during the stormy moments of life, when our very souls are in fear of drowning, it will seem like God is asleep, comfortable, his head on cushion. But, and this is the real challenge of these stories, calm is only a second of realization away. What calms the storm in life is not that all of our problems suddenly disappear but that, within them, we realize that, because God is still in charge, all will be well – whiplash, bruises, ransacked houses, alcoholic spouses, lost houses, lost jobs, loneliness, and the shadow of death itself notwithstanding. All will be well because, even asleep with his head on a cushion, God is still lord.

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

1. No sensible person, I think, will dispute that slander is born of hatred and remembrance of wrongs. Therefore it comes next in order after its forebears.

January 24, 2017

(Pro 6:16-19) Six things there are, which the Lord hateth, and the seventh his soul detesteth: Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, A heart that deviseth wicked plots, feet that are swift to run into mischief, A deceitful witness that uttereth lies, and him that soweth discord among brethren.

AMERICAN MINUTE: "I've never been convinced...that Jesus Christ would approve abortion"-Jimmy Carter

PRESIDENT TRUMP: I further direct the Secretary of State to take all necessary actions, to the extent permitted by law, to ensure that U.S. taxpayer dollars do not fund organizations or programs that support or participate in the management of a program of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization.

BREAKING: U.S. House votes to permanently prohibit taxpayer dollars from funding abortions

: Abortion Does Not Solve Problems by Bishop Conley

In 1919, almost 100 years ago, a young journalist living in New York discovered that she was pregnant. She was dating an editor, Lionel, who was nine years older than her. He pressured her to have an abortion. He told her that if she had the baby he would leave her and her journalism career would fall apart. Her family was 700 miles away. She had few friends, no real faith in God, and no money.

She went ahead with the abortion – all alone. She later said that the doctor was “dirty and furtive. He left hastily after it was accomplished, leaving me bleeding.”

When she returned to her apartment, she found a note from Lionel, saying that he was leaving her. “It is best” he wrote, “that you forget me.”

The young journalist was Dorothy Day, who later converted to Catholicism and became a great social activist, a holy mystic, and a friend to the poor. Years later, she explained that she felt she had to choose between the child she had conceived and its father; between the love of her boyfriend and her love for the child. She wrote “I wanted the baby but I wanted Lionel more. So I had the abortion and I lost them both.”

Dorothy Day learned that day in 1919 what thousands of women learn painfully each year—that abortion does not solve problems, it only adds to the pain. She learned that abortion does not heal our hurt, it only creates new wounds. Abortion does not protect women, it harms them; it brings not freedom, but coercion. The legal protection for abortion makes it easy for boyfriends, or husbands, or parents, or employers, to coerce women; to tell them that to preserve their jobs, or family life, or relationships, they must sacrifice their own children.

Dorothy Day learned what Saint Teresa of Calcutta learned from her work among women who had suffered abortion, that “abortion is profoundly anti-woman. Three quarters of its victims are women: Half the babies and all the mothers.”

Abortion has been available in our country for more than a century. And, for 44 years, it has been legally protected, in every state of our nation, by the tragic decision of Roe vs. Wade. In those 44 years, abortion has taken the lives of millions of children, and, it has caused untold pain, regret, and coercive harm to millions of women. It is time to end the scandal of legally protected abortion in our nation.

Last Saturday, I joined thousands of Nebraskans in the annual Walk for Life, a witness to the fundamental dignity of every human person, especially the unborn, the most vulnerable among us. At the end of this month, young people from Nebraska and I will travel to Washington, D.C., where we will witness to the dignity of life in the national March for Life with hundreds of thousands of Americans, walking, praying, and witnessing, in the hope of ending legal protection for abortion.

We witness to life because we believe that every single human person is made in the image of God. We believe that children, and women, deserve better than abortion.

The good news is that more young people than ever before report acknowledging the fact that abortion takes a human life, and that abortion harms women. Young people today are more likely to identify as pro-life than at any time since 1973. Millennials want to see legal protection for abortion eradicated. They also want to see policies which support the sovereignty of the family, the protection of women and the dignity of of the poor. And they’re willing to work towards those goals.

We should be encouraged by Catholics, young and old, who are working to end legal protection for abortion in our country. We should be optimistic, though cautiously optimistic, about the possibility of support for life from the incoming administration. We should continue to pursue policies which end legal protection for abortion, and hold our incoming administration accountable to its pro-life promises.

But the story of Dorothy Day reminds us of something important: ending legal protection for abortion is a critically important goal, but it is not the only goal. When Dorothy Day had an abortion, performing the abortion was a misdemeanor in New York State. Both she and the doctor broke the law. But Dorothy Day did so because she felt she had no choice: because she had no family nearby, no community, no material support, or emotional and spiritual support, she was coerced by her child’s father.

Abortion is often a temptation when expectant mothers face the challenges of loneliness, of spiritual emptiness, of unstable relationships and absent families. Poverty is often a factor in choosing abortion, but spiritual poverty, isolation, and hopelessness are far more powerful factors. The Lord calls us to give the gifts of freedom, of healing, of grace—to be conduits of love—in the lives of women and families who might be tempted to consider abortion.

This means that our parish and school communities, our social circles, our Church’s entire life, must seek out, welcome, and support those who might otherwise never find the Lord—those who, absent his love and the love of his Church, might be led into terrible and painful choices.

This January as we commemorate 44 years since Roe vs. Wade, we can be grateful that the tide is turning in our nation, and we have hope for ending legal protection for abortion. Let us also remember those who, like Dorothy Day, need the unity of the Church, and the mercy of God, before considering abortion, or after having one. And let us pray for all victims of abortion—babies, and women—as we work to build a culture of life through Jesus Christ, our Lord.


 “As a scientist I know, not believe, know that human life begins at conception. Although I am not a formal religionist, I believe with all my heart that there is a divinity of existence which commands us to declare a final and irreversible halt to this infinitely sad and shameful crime against humanity.”

– Dr. Bernard Nathanson, co-founder of National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL), former abortionist who performed 75,000 abortions

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 9- "On remembrance of wrongs"

9. Have remembrance of wrongs and spitefulness against the demons, and be at constant enmity with your body. The flesh is an ungrateful and treacherous friend. The more you care for it, the more it injures you.

January 22, 2017

(1Ti 2:1-4) I desire therefore, first of all, that supplications, prayers, intercessions and thanksgivings be made for all men: For kings and for all that are in high station: that we may lead a quiet and a peaceable life in all piety and chastity. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, Who will have all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

POPE FRANCIS: “At a time when our human family is beset by grave humanitarian crises demanding farsighted and united political responses, I pray that your decisions will be guided by the rich spiritual and ethical values that have shaped the history of the American people and your nation’s commitment to the advancement of human dignity and freedom worldwide.”

LIFENEWS.COM: President Donald Trump Will Sign Executive Order Sunday to Defund International Planned Parenthood

UPDATE: Trump reinstates ban on US funds promoting abortion overseas

EXCERPT WASHINGTON TIMES (2011): The Fetal Solution - Victims of American hedonism counted in millions of unborn by Jeffrey T. Kuhner

Since Roe v. Wade legalized abortion, nearly 50 million unborn American children have been slain. This is more than the number of victims butchered by Nazi leader Adolf Hitler or Soviet dictator Josef Stalin.

The great myth of liberalism is that it represents progress. The opposite is true: It champions the degradation of the individual, forging what the late Pope John Paul II called the “culture of death.” Abortion, birth control and euthanasia - they are the holy trinity of the secular post-Christian left.

For much of the 20th century, socialists have sought to erect a utopian society. Karl Marx thought the proletariat would serve as the engine of revolutionary change. World War I, however, exposed the profound illusion at the core of the old Marxism. Nationalism, not class warfare, proved to be the dominant force in history. German and French workers sided with their fellow bourgeois countrymen rather than rise up in solidarity and overthrow their capitalist masters. Hence, the modern left realized that in order to overthrow capitalism, the very culture that sustains it - Christianity - must be destroyed. Economic struggle was to be replaced with cultural struggle.

Liberalism has long been at war with traditional America. During the 1960s, it launched a sweeping sexual revolution. It has created a new morality; the counterculture has become the dominant culture. Its central principles are individual gratification and personal liberation. God, country, family - these are the values of a prior age, a Christian civilization that is no more. Prominent new-left theorists, such as Herbert Marcuse, championed Sigmund Freud’s “pleasure principle.” Marcuse argued - and campus radicals eagerly embraced - the notion that sex was the key to individual fulfillment. Marriage and the traditional family were to be subverted through sexual perversity and promiscuity. It was Marcuse who coined the phrase “Make love, not war.”

Where Marx failed, Marcuse has triumphed. The Soviet empire is dead - swept into the dustbin of history. Post-1960s liberal America, however, is on the march. For the past 50 years, every major institution has been captured by the radical secular left. The media, Hollywood, TV, universities, public schools, theater, the arts, literature - they relentlessly promote the false gods of sexual hedonism and radical individualism.

Conservatives have ceded the culture to the enemy. Tens of millions of unborn babies have been slaughtered; illegitimacy rates have soared; divorce has skyrocketed; pornography is rampant; drug use has exploded; sexually transmitted diseases such as AIDS have killed millions; birth control is a way of life; sex outside of wedlock has become the norm; countless children have been permanently damaged - their innocence lost forever - because of the proliferation of broken homes; and sodomy and homosexuality are celebrated openly. America has become the new Babylon.

Abortion clinics constitute the “gulag archipelago” of liberalism - a vast internal network where innocent lives are sacrificed in the service of a fanatical worldview. They are the forgotten victims of the cultural Marxism imposed by the 1960s intelligentsia. The liberal regime depends upon countless Dr. Gosnells to function. His crimes are liberalism’s crimes.

Conscientious Americans must work tirelessly to end this abortion abomination.

WESTERN JOURNALISM: Tearful Melania Trump Leads Prayer Service Ovation For Courageous Blind Singer

VIDEO: HOW GREAT THOU ART Marlana VanHoose sings for our new President 1/21/17 National Cathedral.

CATHOLIC PHILLY: “Those are babies that are being killed. Millions of them. And you need to use your voice to protect them. That’s what a man does. He protects children — his own children, and other children. That’s what it means to be a man.”

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 9- "On remembrance of wrongs"

8. Remembrance of wrongs is far removed from strong natural love, but fornication easily comes near it, just as a hidden louse can sometimes be seen in a dove.

January 20, 2017

(Mic 6:8) I will shew thee, O man, what is good, and what the Lord requireth of thee: Verily to do judgment, and to love mercy, and to walk solicitous with thy God.

POPE FRANICIS ON CAPITAL PUNISHMENT: “It does not render justice to victims, but instead fosters vengeance. The commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill’ has absolute value and applies both to the innocent and to the guilty. There is no fitting punishment without hope!  Punishment for its own sake, without room for hope, is a form of torture, not of punishment.”

AMERICA: Death Penalty in Dramatic Decline in 2016

HEADLINE: Virginia Governor Won't Spare Life of Convicted Killer



What then, some others ask, of Christ’s teaching about turning the other cheek? It is important to recognize exactly what kind of non-resistance to evil Christ is here discussing—not the evil of assault, but of affront. To strike a person across the cheek in His day did not represent violent assault (that would usually come with a weapon), but public insult. Christ is not teaching that actual assault or murder should not be judicially punished, but inculcating personal benevolence to all, even to those who publicly violate one’s honour. He had no problem evidently with someone who murdered being guilty before the court (Matthew 5:21). He was not legislating for society, but deconstructing the individual zeal for vengeance that lurked in the hearts of His potential disciples. Those who followed Him must not “resist evil” by plotting revenge for insults and persecutions, but must bless everyone indiscriminately as did the sun, which the Father made to shine on both the evil and the good (Matthew 5:39, 44-45). To apply this teaching as if it were proscribing all judicial punishment of criminal acts is to misunderstand it entirely. It would also introduce the precise sort of societal chaos that Paul said the sword kept at bay, for then not only would capital punishment be abolished, but all judicial punishment and retribution. Thieves would no longer be subject to prosecution, fine, or incarceration when caught by the police, but rewarded with a cheque from the government for their crime, on the basis that Christ taught that the one who violently steals a man’s coat should be offered his shirt as well (Luke 6:29). Christ is not dealing directly here with the outer laws of the land, but with the inner movements of the heart.

But does this mean that Christ’s words have no relevance to the current debate about capital punishment? Far from it. For it seems to me that in this debate two groups face off against each other, staring uncomprehendingly and shouting loudly across a great divide. Some scream for the execution of the offender with hatred and a lust for vengeance in their heart, while others yell that such execution would be no better than the murder it would avenge. The yelling and the self-righteousness are signs that both groups have become entangled and lost in the heat of the moment. Justice indeed that demands that a murderer be executed (though mercy may sometimes be granted), just as it demands that violent assault or rape be punished by incarceration. But the individuals involved in carrying out such sentences as well as the victims of the crimes must take care to keep lust for vengeance far from their hearts. The person justly punished, either by incarceration or execution, is still loved by God. Hangmen may justly hang, just as soldiers and police officers sometimes may justly kill. But they may not delight in it. We all have seen the statue of Justice holding her scales and wearing a blindfold so that she cannot be subject to partiality or bribery. That blindfold should obscure her tears as well, for one may well shed tears even when administering just punishment. All punishment for crime, whether execution or incarceration, represents a defeat for society, and should be administered with sorrow—and for Christians, with prayer for all, perpetrator as well as victim.


The Traditional Case for Capital Punishment
Why the Church Cannot Reverse Past Teaching on Capital Punishment
Did the Church Change Its Teaching on the Death Penalty?

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 9- "On remembrance of wrongs"

7. I have seen hatred break the bond of long-standing fornication, and afterwards remembrance of wrongs, in an amazing way, did not allow the severed union to be renewed. Wonderful sight- a demon curing a demon! But perhaps this is the work not of demons but of Divine providence.

January 18, 2017

(Psa 139:13-16) 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.My bones are not hidden from you, When I was being made in secret, fashioned in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw me unformed; in your book all are written down; my days were shaped, before one came to be.

POPE FRANCIS:  It is terrible to hear, and painful to the soul: something that once, years ago, I heard in the Diocese of Buenos Aires: a good woman — very beautiful — boasted about her beauty. She said, as if it were natural: ‘Yes, I had to have an abortion because my figure is very important’. These are idols, and they lead you down the wrong path, and do not give you happiness.

LIFENEWS.COM: Abortions Hit Record Low, Abortion Activists Admit Pro-Life Laws Saving More Babies

NCR: Abortionist Quits After St. Thomas Aquinas Visits Him in a Dream

CATHOLIC HERALD: Russian Orthodox diocese declared January 11 a 'day of silence without abortions'

ALL: Archbishop Carlson Defends Life

You may have heard of sanctuary cities and thought the term only applied to a city that protects illegal immigrants. But if you thought that was the case, you would be wrong—at least when it comes to St. Louis, Missouri.

According to a recent St. Louis public radio report: “Two St. Louis aldermen, in partnership with NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri, have launched an effort to make the city a sanctuary for reproductive rights.” It went on to quote Alderman Megan-Ellyia Green, D-15th Ward, who stated, “We are a board of people who are very aware of the challenges for women that are being brought forth at both the state and national level. And so it’s up to us at the local level to really ensure that women’s rights are protected."

The proposed ordinance would add pregnancy and “reproductive health decisions” to an existing city ordinance that purports to shield citizens from discrimination. Or at least that’s the perception created by proponents of this new proposal.

But not so fast, says Robert J. Carlson, archbishop of St. Louis. On Tuesday of last week, Carlson issued a strong statement on the proposal, saying, in part:

This proposed ordinance seeks to make St. Louis a sanctuary city for abortion, an act that kills innocent unborn children. This is not what our city should stand for; rather, St. Louis should be a sanctuary for life and compassion, especially compassion for mothers and their developing children.

Board Bill 203 is vague and ambiguous but could have terrible consequences for religious institutions. For example, a Catholic school or Catholic Charities agency could be fined by the City of St. Louis for not employing persons who publicly promote practices such as abortion. In addition, our Catholic institutions could be fined for not including coverage for abortion in their insurance plans.

Carlson goes on to tell his flock: “As the shepherd of the faithful Catholics of this region, let me be clear that the Archdiocese of St. Louis cannot and will not comply with any ordinance like Board Bill 203 that attempts to force the Church and others to become unwilling participants in the abortion business. There is no room for compromise on such a matter. This is a matter of fundamental religious and moral beliefs.”

MORE: Five Things You Can Do Right Now to Help End Abortion

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 9- "On remembrance of wrongs"

6. A banquet of love dispels hatred, and sincere gifts soothe a soul. But a heedless banquet is the mother of familiarity; and through the window of love gluttony leaps in.

January 16, 2017

(Joh 17:20-23) 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. I in them, and thou in me: that they may be made perfect in one: and the world may know that thou hast sent me and hast loved them, as thou hast also loved me.

POPE FRANCIS PRAYER VIDEO: “That all Christians may be faithful to the Lord’s teaching by striving with prayer and fraternal charity to restore ecclesial communion and by collaborating to meet the challenges facing humanity.”

SAINT POPE JOHN PAUL II: These brothers and sisters (Protestants) promote love and veneration for the Sacred Scriptures, calling upon the Holy Spirit, they seek in these Sacred Scriptures God as he speaks to them in Christ, the One whom the prophets foretold, God’s Word made flesh for us. In the Scriptures they contemplate the life of Christ, as well as the teachings and the actions of the Divine Master on behalf of the salvation of all, in particular the mysteries of his Death and Resurrection … They affirm the divine authority of the Sacred Books. (Ut Unum Sint 66)

CATHOLIC REGISTER: Pope Francis continues to champion Christian unity and interfaith dialogue in 2017

Two Patron Saints of Christian Unity

: Week of Prayer for Christian Unity January 18-25, 2017

The theme of this year's Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is "Reconciliation-The Love of Christ Compels Us." (cf. 2 Cor 5:14-20). According to Graymoor Ecumenical & Interreligious Institute (GEII). . . , "it was in the context of the Reformation Anniversary that the Council of Churches in Germany took up the work of creating the resources for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2017. It quickly became clear that the materials for this Week of Prayer for Christian Unity would need to have two accents: on the one hand, there should be a celebration of God's love and grace, the 'justification of humanity through grace alone', reflecting the main concern of the churches marked by Martin Luther's Reformation. On the other hand, the materials should also recognize the pain of the subsequent deep divisions which afflicted the Church, openly name the guilt, and offer an opportunity to take steps toward reconciliation."

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity has a history of over 100 years . . . , in which Christians around the world have taken part in an octave of prayer for visible Christian unity.  By annually observing the WPCU, Christians move toward the fulfillment of Jesus' prayer at the Last Supper "that they all may be one."  (cf. John 17:21)

In preparation for the WPCU, ecumenical partners in a particular region were asked to prepare a basic text on a biblical theme. Then an international group organized through the World Council of Churches (WCC) and The Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity edited this text. . . i which was jointly published by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. . . and WCC, through their Commission on Faith and Order. . . .  The WCC accompanied the entire production process of the text. The final material was sent to member churches and Roman Catholic dioceses, and they were invited to translate the text and contextualize it for their own use.

RELATED: International group of bishops to make annual visit to Holy Land

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 9- "On remembrance of wrongs"

5. He who has obtained love has banished revenge; but he who nurses enmities stores up for himself untimely labours.

January 13, 2017

(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.

POPE BENEDICT XVI: “Whoever thinks that the prophetic mission of Fatima is over is deceived.”


MARK MALLET BLOG: Christmas is Never Over

BLOG: One Priest’s Battle Plan for 2017

Friends, we have now entered the year of grace 2017. For whatever reason, I feel it deep within my bones that this year is going to be very challenging, for the Church and for the world. So let’s not take a single moment of this new year for granted and use every second we have been given to grow closer to Christ.

Some basic, practical suggestions:

If you don’t pray, start. If you do pray, pray more. Beef up your devotional life.

If you don’t fast, start. If you do fast, fast more. Strengthen your will. Get better at saying “no” to your appetites and passions.

If you’re lax about Mass attendance, get your priorities straight. Go every Sunday and Holy Day – nothing is more important. Nothing.

If you don’t go to confession, go. Regularly. Stop waiting. Stop making excuses.

Get more intentional about knowing your faith. Study it. Learn it. Share it. Defend it.

Spend more time at home with your family. Eat together. Work together. Play together. Pray together.

Cut out the non-essentials. Simplify your homes and your lives.

Give more of yourself (your prayers and your time, but also your money and your skills) to those who need help. If you don’t know who needs help, trot down to your local parish office – your priest can give you a list, I’m sure.

A relationship with Christ is not ethereal and it’s not simply an “internal” reality. It is something that is lived out, day by day, in mind, body, and soul. It is not a given and it can never be taken for granted.

Now is the time.

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 9- "On remembrance of wrongs"

4. He who has put a stop to anger has also destroyed remembrance of wrongs; because childbirth continues only while the father is alive

January 11, 2017

(Heb 13:1-3) Let mutual love continue. Do not neglect hospitality, for through it some have unknowingly entertained angels. Be mindful of prisoners as if sharing their imprisonment, and of the ill-treated as of yourselves, for you also are in the body.

POPE FRANCIS: "Sadly, we are conscious that even today, religious experience, rather than fostering openness to others, can be used at times as a pretext for rejection, marginalization and violence. We are dealing with a homicidal madness which misuses God’s name in order to disseminate death, in a play for domination and power. Hence I appeal to all religious authorities to join in reaffirming unequivocally that one can never kill in God’s name."

VATICAN RADIO: Oppression of religion is not a solution- Cardinal Erdo

The Archbishop of Esztergo-Budapest had strong words at the opening of the European Orthodox-Catholic forum, in Paris.

"The oppression of religion and religious experience is not a solution. There can be no negation of God to avoid tensions. On the contrary, secularism weakens society's life and only brings insecurity," said Cardinal Peter Erdo at the beginning of the gathering.

Cardinal Erdo's address focused particularly on the links between the external threat of fundamentalism and an individualistic and consumerist society. "Who threatens us? Who does it hurt? Who does not feel the need to respect and care for the dignity of the human person?" he asked the delegates. He also observed that "We see a growth, especially amongst young people, in a great desire for radicalism and a life which is not banal or trivial. This desire, however, does not have to bring fundamentalism and, even less, a hatred of others but rather, as Jesus taught, to love God with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself."

PITTSBURGH CATHOLIC: Aleppo friar says learn about Syria, keep an open mind

Syrians don't want to leave their homeland, they want a safe place to live in peace, said a Franciscan friar from Aleppo, Syria, who spoke on Jan. 5 with the Archdiocese of Washington's Holy Land Committee.

Franciscan Brother George Jamal, who is originally from Aleppo, said even though the situation in his homeland is complicated, it is important to learn about it and if people feel inclined to do something, they can learn about the different aid groups in the region to see how to best help.

By some estimates, 5 million Syrians have left the country since the country's conflict began in 2011. That includes some members of Brother Jamal's family.

"My family, too, wants to be back after the war is finished," he said, during the informal meeting, aimed at learning more about region. "It is home."

Recently, the Syrian government retook control of Aleppo after months of heavy fighting with rebel groups. It had been the largest city in the country before the conflict. Last year, Staffan de Mistura, United Nations Special Envoy for Syria, said the conflict has left 400,000 deaths in its wake and millions of people displaced as they have left to find safety in other countries.

Brother Jamal said some of his friends had died in the conflict and one of his family homes was destroyed. When he visited a few years ago, after being away while studying, he said he felt "like a stranger" in his homeland. Aleppo has more checkpoints, more destruction, but even in conflict, people find a way to hold on to whatever stability might be available, he said in an interview with Catholic News Service.

Christians are still carrying on with celebrations and customs, he said, and sometimes he still is able to see part of normal life through his friends' posts on social media, the way any other 26-year-old keeps up with friends. But he said he has a feeling that what he knew of his city of Aleppo only exists now in his memory.

"I lost my past," he said. "I have my past in my memory."

As he studies elsewhere and awaits ordination, Brother Jamal still dreams of one day returning home and helping the youth of Syria and those who have faced the decision to leave.

When members of the committee asked what would be the best path for the country and best way to help, he encouraged them to keep open minds about the situation, which is hard to compare to other conflicts, to pray, to send material help but also to consider the right situation for the people of Syria that can "help people to stay, not to get out." Even those who leave want to return home, he said, but they're looking for peace and safety.


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Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 9- "On remembrance of wrongs"

3. This dark and hateful passion, I mean remembrance of wrongs, is one of those that are produced but have no offspring. That is why we do not intend to say much about it.

January 9, 2017

(Isa 60:1-3) Arise, be enlightened, O Jerusalem: for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For behold darkness shall cover the earth, and a mist the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall walk in thy light, and kings in the brightness of thy rising.

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MEDITATION: Thoughts by St Theophan (1815-1894)

A king promises freedom to a man who is imprisoned in a dungeon and bound with fetters. The prisoner waits a day, then another, then months, and years. He sees no fulfillment of the promise, but does not lose hope, and believes in the king's words. Finally, he sees signs that it is coming soon. His attention increases—he hears a noise; someone is approaching with cheerful words. Now the locks fall and the liberator enters. "Glory to Thee, O Lord!" the prisoner involuntarily cries. "The end of my imprisonment has arrived, and soon I will see God's light!"

Or another incident: A sick man is covered with wounds and paralyzed in all his members. He has tried all medicines and has changed doctors many times. His endurance is exhausted, and he is ready to give himself over to despair. He is told, "There is one more very skilled doctor, who heals everyone from those very illnesses that you have. We have asked him to come, and he has promised to do so." The patient believes them, hope springs up in him, and he waits for the promised one.... One hour passes, then another, and anxiety again begins to torment his soul. Finally, at evening, someone arrives.... The door opens, and the desired visitor enters.... "Glory to Thee, O Lord!" the sick man shouts.

Here is another example: A thundercloud hangs over the face of the earth, and it is covered with darkness. Thunder shakes the foundations of the mountains and lightening tears the sky from one end to the other. All are in fear, as if the end of the world had come. When the thunder passes and the sky clears, everyone breathes freely, saying, "Glory to Thee, O Lord!"

Bring these examples closer to yourself and you will see our whole history in them. The threatening clouds of God's wrath were over us. The Lord—the Peacemaker—has come, and has dispersed the cloud. We were covered with the wounds of sins and passions; the Healer of souls has come and healed us. We were bound by the fetters of slavery; the Liberator has come and released our fetters. Bring all of these examples closer to your heart and take them in with your senses, and you will not be able to refrain from exclaiming, "Glory to Thee, O Lord, that Christ is born!"

I will not try to convey this joy to you with my words; it is inexpressible by any words. The work that was accomplished by the Lord Who is born touches each one of us. Those who enter into communion with Him receive from Him freedom, healing, and peace; they possess all of this and taste of its sweetness. There is no reason to say, "Rejoice!" to those who experience this within themselves, for they cannot help but rejoice. But to those who do not experience it, why say, "Rejoice"? They cannot rejoice. No matter how much you say, "Rejoice at your deliverance," to one bound hand and foot, he will not rejoice. Whence can the joy of healing come to one who is covered with the wounds of sin? How can one who is threatened by the thunder of God's wrath breathe freely? You can only say to him, "Go to the Infant wrapped in swaddling clothes in the manger, and seek deliverance by Him from all the evils that encompass you, for this Infant is Christ, the Savior of the world."

ALETEIA: Where are the relics of the three wise men?

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 9- "On remembrance of wrongs"

2. Remembrance of wrongs is the consummation of anger, the keeper of sins, hatred of righteousness, ruin of virtues, poison of the soul, worm of the mind, shame of prayer, cessation of supplication, estrangement of love, a nail stuck in the soul, pleasureless feeling cherished in the sweetness of bitterness, continuous sin, unsleeping transgression, hourly malice.
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