Keep your eyes open!...


July 30, 2010 


(Luk 6:38) Give: and it shall be given to you: good measure and pressed down and shaken together and running over shall they give into your bosom. For with the same measure that you shall mete withal, it shall be measured to you again.

St. Matthew parishioner Mark Creasser: "The problem with Haiti is once you know, you can't look away. You can't forget about it. It's hard – you can be shaving in the morning and you'll see a flash. Once you know, you know. You can't look away."

U.S. Nun Creates Impromptu Oasis To Heal Haitian Bodies And Souls

HELP FOR HAITI: Six months after the earthquake, some Haitians still are clinging to a Band-Aid life. Makeshift dwellings still smother the landscape. There are so many tents in Haiti that in some places entire neighborhoods are fashioned out of blue and white tarpaulins. Some Haitians live inside corrugated metal walls covered by tarps and fastened together with ripped sheets and shredded clothing. Others dwell in massive igloo-style white tents donated by aid organizations. In narrow lines on empty bulldozed lots, those tent neighborhoods look clean and sterile.

Jean Marc Brissau, president of the Rotary Club chapter in Léogâne, said the tents hardly are a quick fix, especially with hurricane season here. "When it's raining, people stay the whole night standing, because water is flowing under their feet and they have nothing to lie on," he said.  Still others eat and live out of their houses but won't sleep inside because they fear another earthquake.

And while many Haitians lost limbs in the earthquake, few amputees are seen in public. Amputees are afraid to leave their homes because of the stigma of their injuries, and many simply have not had follow-up medical care after their surgeries, said Evans Cheridor, a nursing student in Léogâne. Some have not learned how to get around outside their homes, he said.

Dr. Hanks of Advantage Haiti hopes that will change. She believes it is possible to use the earthquake as an "opportunity to change the mindset of Haitian people" toward those with disabilities. "Because at no other point in time would there be so many people who had an acquired disability due to a natural disaster," she said.

In Haiti, there simply is no escaping what happened on Jan. 12.

CATHOLIC RELIEF SERVICES: Progress in Haiti as of May 31

    * Distributed food to nearly 900,000 people. Currently providing food to more than 90,000 students in over 270 schools, and monthly food rations to more than 100 orphanages and child-care centers in Port-au-Prince and Les Cayes, benefiting nearly 10,000 children.
    * Provided emergency shelter materials to more than 114,000 people.
    * CRS health care team performed over 960 emergency operations and conducted 62,000 outpatient consultations.
    * Supported hundreds of thousands of people with food, water, sanitation, shelter materials and protection, including at two of the largest camps for the displaced. Established five "child-friendly spaces" for unaccompanied children at camps, regularly attended by more than 1,500 children.
    * Installed over 600 latrines and hand-washing stations, as well as potable water tanks and inflatable water bladders, in Port-au-Prince and environs, providing an estimated 375,000 gallons of water per month.
    * Provided assistance to numerous local and international partners in Haiti, including 164 Church partners.

VOICE OF AMERICA: Long Recovery Predicted for Earthquake-Devastated Haiti

VATICAN RADIO: Catholic Organizations Continue Aid to Haiti


Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 26- "On discernment of thoughts, passions, and virtues"

84. There is a demon avarice which often apes humility; and there is a demon of vainglory, and one of sensuality too, which both urge to almsgiving. However, if we are clear of them both, we should not stint our deeds of mercy wherever we are.

July 29, 2010 

(Joel 2:12-13) Now, therefore, saith the Lord. Be converted to me with all your heart, in fasting, and in weeping, and mourning. And rend your hearts, and not your garments and turn to the Lord your God: for he is gracious and merciful, patient and rich in mercy, and ready to repent of the evil.

CNA: A Primer on Indulgences

CATHOLIC CULTURE: The Historical Origin of Indulgences

PAMPHLET: Indulgences and Our Spiritual Life

Christian Witness List: The Great Pardon: The Portiuncula Indulgence

On a hot July evening in the year 1216 Saint Francis of Assisi at prayer devoured by his love for God and a thirst to save souls was visited upon by Our Blessed Savior and Our Blessed Mother. Our Lord spoke to him "Francis you are very zealous for the good souls. Ask me what you want for their salvation."
Francis answered that he wanted an indulgence to all those who enter this church,(The Portiuncula) who are truly contrite and have confessed their sins.

Our Lord consented to Francis' wish, but only after he received approval from Pope Honorius III. The pope granted this petition, and this indulgence has been extended to all parish churches throughout the world from noon August 1 until midnight on August 2.

The conditions to obtain the Plenary Indulgence of the Forgiveness of Assisi (for oneself or for a departed soul) are as follows:

* Sacramental confession (during eight days before or after the above dates)

* Participation in the Mass and Eucharist.

* Recitation of the Apostles' Creed, Our Father and a prayer for the pope's intention.

The Portiuncula Indulgence is a grace not to be missed, not only for yourself, but for the many souls suffering in purgatory. The dates are from noon on August 1 until midnight on August 2, the feast of Our Lady of the Angels.
PORTIUNCULA INDULGENCE: First Plenary indulgence ever granted in the Church

THE FRANCISCANS: The Portiuncula Indulgence

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 26- "On discernment of thoughts, passions, and virtues"

82. It is impossible for all to become dispassionate, but it is not impossible for all to be saved and reconciled to God.

July 28, 2010 

(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.

LINK: Prayer for Civil Authorities

HEADLINE: All Options Are On the Table to Stop Iran's Nuclear Ambition' - Israeli Envoy

If Iran acquires nuclear capacities, we are not talking just about another country with another missile, but we talking about a country with a messianic perspective of itself. A country that supports terrorism. No other country in the world supports terrorism with the weaponry, or ideologically as much as Iran. We see it around Israel in the mortal threats of HAMAS, Hezbollah and in other parts of the world.

This is something the world cannot live with it, and the world is working on it. You could see it lately in the decision taken in the security council of the UN to sanction Iran. And Nigeria as a partner of the free world joined in this decision and voted in favour of sanction, against the Iranian nuclear ambitions. As you know, Israel is committed for a non-nuclear Middle East and we have said that we will not be the first to introduce nuclear weapons in the Middle East.

We believe that Iran is not Israeli issue but an international issue and we heard very comforting statements from president Obama and other leaders in the world, that stopping Iran from it nuclear ambition is a top priority.

However, we are responsible for our own security and if there is anything that history has taught the Jewish people and the state of Israel, it is not to depend on any one else.

We take care of ourselves and defend ourselves. All options are on the table, which includes all options. What ever we think is needed to stop the danger to Israel from the Iranian regime and its nuclear ambition; we will not hesitate to use any option to make Israel safe. This is our top priority.

MORE: Israel convinces US with credible military plan on Iran

COMMENTARY: Threatened Israeli strike on Iran would lead to regional war, report says


Iran warns Israel against wrong move
Iran could spring a nasty surprise
Ex-CIA chief: Strike on Iran seems more likely now

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 26- "On discernment of thoughts, passions, and virtues"

81. Just as those whose sense of smell is healthy can tell who has hidden perfumes, so the pure soul can recognize in others both the fragrance which he himself has obtained from God and the stench form which he has been freed, though this is imperceptible to others.

July 27, 2010 

(Rom 8:15-16) For you have not received the spirit of bondage again in fear: but you have received the spirit of adoption of sons, whereby we cry: Abba (Father). For the Spirit himself giveth testimony to our spirit that we are the sons of God.


VIA MANILLA EXCERPT: Father God by Fr. Jerry Orbos

In today’s Gospel (Lk. 11, 1-13), we go back to the time Jesus taught His disciples the “Our Father.” It has been some 2,000 years since He taught us the beautiful prayer. Have we prayed it enough? Have we learned it well?

There is a God. You and I are not Him. If only we learn this basic lesson in life, we will have more peace in our lives, in our homes, in our country and on this very earth.

God is a Father! He is not just some impersonal, cold, detached supreme being or force of some sort. We can relate with this Father. We can call upon Him. He knows everyone and He sees everything. What a privilege to have a God who is a Father!

God is our Father. He is not exclusive, and neither should we be toward each other. If God is our Father, then, we are brothers and sisters. We are family. We are not enemies. We need to remember the message of the angels on that first Christmas morning: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men of goodwill!”

God is a giving Father. He is a God who provides. Jesus teaches us that we can come to Him in our needs. In fact Jesus tells us in today’s Gospel that we should ask Him in prayer whatever we need! We must not hesitate nor doubt the generosity of God. “What Father among you would hand his son a snake when he asks for a fish?”

God is a forgiving Father. The image of a forgiving God is unique to the Christian religion. Many religions speak of an angry God, a punishing God, or a God that needs to be placated and feared. This spirit of forgiveness is, and should also be, the permeating spirit among us, his children.

God is our deliverer and protector. There are so many things beyond our knowledge and control. It is very comforting to know that there is Someone who knows and is in control. Yes, there is Someone bigger than you and I.

May God deliver us from all evil—wars, calamities, disabling illnesses and evil-intentioned people. May God also deliver us from selfishness, especially from selfish pre-occupations and selfish depressions. May God deliver us also from selfish politicians and government officials! Finally, may God deliver us from useless worries, useless heartaches and useless anxieties.

Slow down. Next time you pray the “Our Father,” please pray it slowly and from the heart, not just from the lips. It is a beautiful prayer, and it must be prayed beautifully and meaningfully. What a treasure, this prayer taught by the Lord himself. We must treasure it, believe it and live it.

CATHOLIC SPIRIT: Six guidelines for living a fulfilling life

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 26- "On discernment of thoughts, passions, and virtues"

78. The guarding of the thoughts is one thing, and the custody of the mind is another. As far as the East is from the West, so much higher is the latter than the former; and it is more laborious.

July 21, 2010 


(Mat 11:28-30) Come to me all you that labor and are burdened, and I will refresh you. Take up my yoke upon you, and learn of me, because I am meek, and humble of heart: And you shall find rest to your souls. For my yoke is sweet and my burden light.

LINK: Are You Weary and Seeking Rest? By the late Father Kilian McGowan, C.P.

VIA Father Ted
Reflection by Father Ted – July 16, 2010

My dearest Lord Jesus, yesterday in the gospel for the Mass You invited us, You encouraged us to come to You.

So many do not know about this invitation.

They do not realize that You want us to experience the incredible love that God has not only for You but for each one of us.

You want us to know that Your Father loves us in the same way and to the same degree as He loves You.

That is why You reveal to us that He is Your Abba – that is, Your daddy.

You strive to tell us that He is our Abba too.

As You accepted this relationship always, so You want us to accept this relationship.

You want us to be open to His love perfectly.

And so You urge us to come to You to help us to accept His love – and, of course, His Mercy.

You have revealed to us that only You are the Way to the Father.

You tell us that You will give to us all that we need to accept You as the Way.

You tell us that You will give to us Your Holy Spirit who will teach us how to live as You live under the guidance of the Father’s love.

Your Abba is holy. You are holy. Your Spirit is holy.

You want us to be holy – just as You Three are holy.

And so You enable us to be holy.

Moreover You enable us to resist all that prevents us from being holy.

You teach us how to resist these temptations through prayer and fasting and alms-giving.

You teach us through Your One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

You made us members of Your Church to enable us to become holy ourselves and to help others to become holy.

You have commissioned us to teach other how to become holy by living as Your brothers and sisters – by doing everything that You ask of us.

Lord Jesus, may I, may we listen to You and let You guide us. May we allow Your Holy Spirit to do all that You ask of us. Come Holy Spirit; enkindle within us the fire of Your Divine Love.

VIA Dennis: A Child of God

I am a child of God and it is a fact that we all are. This would be a most wonderful world of we all knew this one simple but wonderful fact. I can recommend that you repeat this fact often as it can bring great power into your physical and spiritual life. Repeating “I am a child of God” can be used to overcome our day-to-day struggles and bring great joy at almost any time. Repeating it often can simplify any action or decision. Being a child of the Creator comes with a set of rules and actions that can be used as a template for almost anything in our lives. Most children like to be around those who love them. As a Child of God, we can be around the One who is love and who has a burning love for you. I can tell you from my experience that I have never felt closer to my Creator than when I think out of this fact.

If you are like me and thought that “yes God loves me”, but always tried to run my ship of life with out Him, then I can tell you that you will regain a great peace in your life when your relationship with Him becomes like a child.

Repeat this hundred of times each day. Soon each action will follow after thinking this fact. I am a Child of God and I see and breath. My heart beats and I can feel the heat of the sun on my face as a child of God. I can feel the cool rain as it tickles my nose as a child of God. How much more wonderful it will be to love and care and act in this world as a simple but wonderful creation of the Father?

If you are searching for peace or an answer or a reason then it can be found there as a child. It has always been there but you didn't see it until you realized that you are a child of God.

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 26- "On discernment of thoughts, passions, and virtues"

77. There is a certain feeling, or rather habit, called endurance of hardship. He who possesses it will never be cowardly, nor avoid labour. Upheld by this glorious virtue, the souls of the martyrs easily despised their tortures.

July 20, 2010 

(Zec 8:18-19) And the word of the Lord of hosts came to me, saying: Thus saith the Lord of hosts: The fast of the fourth month, and the fast of the fifth, and the fast of the seventh, and the fast of the tenth shall be to the house of Juda, joy, and gladness, and great solemnities: only love ye truth and peace.

(Zec 12:10-11)
And I will pour out upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace, and of prayers: and they shall look upon me, whom they have pierced: and they shall mourn for him as one mourneth for an only son, and they shall grieve over him, as the manner is to grieve for the death of the firstborn. In that day there shall be a great lamentation in Jerusalem like the lamentation of Adadremmon in the plain of Mageddon.

IN THE NEWS: Tisha B'Av: A Tragic Day Throughout Jewish History

Tisha B'Av begins at sundown on July 19. The ninth day of the Hebrew month of Av - is often considered the "saddest" day on the Jewish calendar. A fast day that commemorates the destruction of both the First and Second Temples, it is the culmination of a three week period of increasing mourning that begins with the fast of the 17th of Tammuz, when the walls of Jerusalem were first breached, leading to the destruction of the First Temple.

While Tisha B'Av is primarily intended to recall the destruction of the Temples, both of which were destroyed on the ninth of Av, it is also considered a day to mourn the many other tragedies that have befallen the Jewish people on this day. Among them:

- Spies return with evil reports from the land of Israel, leading the Jewish people to cry in despair and God to decree that the children of Israel wandering in the desert would not be permitted to enter the land of Israel;
- The last fortress to hold out against the Romans during the Bar Kochba revolt falls, sealing the fate of the Jewish people. Over 100,000 Jews were killed;
- The First Crusade is declared by Pope Urban II, bringing death and destruction to thousands of Jews, and obliterating many communities in Rhineland and France.

- The Inquisition in Spain and Portugal culminates in the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in the year 1492. Tisha B'Av is set as the final date by which not a single Jew is allowed on Spanish soil.
- Jews are expelled from England in the year 1515, accompanied by pogroms.

- World War I breaks out in 1914 when Germany declared war on Russia. German resentment from the war set the stage for the Holocaust.

- Deportations from Warsaw Ghetto to the Treblinka concentration camp begin in 1942.



Tens of Thousands Mark Tisha B'Av at Western Wall
Half the Israeli Public Wants to See Holy Temple Rebuilt
Pierbattista Pizzaballa Holy Land custo: "Christian identity in the Holy Land is in danger"

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 26- "On discernment of thoughts, passions, and virtues"

76. All the attacks which we suffer from the demons come from these three causes: from sensuality, or from pride, or from the envy of the demons. The last are blessed, the middle are very pitiful, but the first are failures till the end.

July 19, 2010 

(Jud 1:14-16) Now of these Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying: Behold, the Lord cometh with thousands of his saints: To execute judgment upon all and to reprove all the ungodly for all the works of their ungodliness, whereby they have done ungodly: and for all the hard things which ungodly sinners have spoken against God. These are murmurers, full of complaints, walking according to their own desires: and their mouth speaketh proud things, admiring persons, for gain's sake.

IN THE NEWS: U.S. Atheists Reportedly Using Hair Dryers to 'De-Baptize'

CATHOLIC VIEW OF BAPTISM: The Great Mystery of Baptism: Its Theology and Celebration.

"Baptism incorporates us into Christ and forms us into God’s people.  This sacrament pardons all out sins, rescues us from the power of sin and darkness and brings us to the dignity of adopted children, a new creation through water and the Holy Spirit.  Hence we are called and indeed are the children of God" (Christian Initiation: General Introduction, #2)

From Scripture and the post-apostolic period

The sacramental mystery of Christian baptism, a word derived from the Greek of immersion, finds its scriptural origins in the great commission of Christ to his disciples at the end of Matthew’s gospel (Mt 28:19) "go teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit".  Thus there is an inseparable connection between faith and the acceptance of baptism.  Jesus tells Nicodemus in the 4th Gospel: "unless one is born of water and Spirit, one cannot enter the Kingdom of God" (Jn 3:5).  Baptism is the very basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to the Spirit and the door to the other sacraments (CCC 1213) without which no one can enter the Kingdom of God.

St Gregory of Nazianzus, one of the Cappadocian Fathers writing in the late 4th century described Baptism as follows:

"Baptism is God’s most beautiful and magnificent gift.  We call it gift, grace anointing, enlightenment, garment of immortality, bath of rebirth, seal and most precious gift.  It is called gift because it is conferred on those who bring nothing of their own, grace since it is given even to those who are guilty.  Baptism because sin is buried in the water, anointing for it is priestly and royal as are those who are anointed, enlightenment because it radiates light, clothing since it veils our shame, bath because it washes and seal as it is our guard and the sign of God’s Lordship"

Anyone familiar with the Easter Vigil Liturgy will be reminded of how the Church has sought to place the sacrament of Baptism within the overall context of creation and salvation history.  In the liturgy of Easter the Church recalls and commemorates the great events of salvation history that already prefigured the mystery of Baptism.

"Father you give us grace through sacramental signs which tell us of the wonders of your unseen power In Baptism we use your gift of water which you have made a rich symbol of the grace you give us in this sacrament"
(Easter Vigil: Blessing of Water)

Since the beginning of time water, plentiful and yet essential, has been the source of life and fruitfulness for the earth.  The waters of the Great Flood recorded in Genesis as well as the Crossing of the Red Sea by the Israelites are seen as prefiguring the ongoing drama of salvation by our loving and merciful God.

"You freed the children of Abraham from the slavery of Pharaoh, brining them dry-shod through the waters of the Red Sea, to be an image of the people set free in Baptism"
(Easter Vigil: Blessing of Water)

All these Old Testament prefigurations find their fulfillment in Christ.  His public ministry opens symbolically with his baptism in the Jordan and closes with the great commission to his disciples to "go teach and baptize".  From its very beginning on the day of Pentecost, the Church has celebrated and administered Baptism as essential to its very mission to preach the Gospel of Christ.  Indeed Peter declares to the astonished crowd in Acts "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38).  While Paul declares to his jailer "Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved" the text continues: "he was baptized at once, with all his family" (Acts 16:31-33)

Throughout the New Testament there are several instances of baptismal practices of the early Church from the baptism of Saul (Paul) (Acts 9:18) to the baptism of the Eunuch by Philip (Acts 8:38-40), the baptism of large group by the disciples (Acts 2:41, 10: 46-48 and 19:3-7).

We should remember that the rite of immersion for the washing away of sins is not a NT experience.  Immersion or ritual purification has a long history among all the religious systems of the world especially within Judaism.

* Baptism: from the Gr.  "baptein" and "baptizein" meaning to dip or immerse.

-Ritual purification (Lev 14:5)
(self administered and repeated)
-Inner purification (Isa.1:16)
-John the Baptist’s original practice: prepares one for the Eschaton and is tied to metanoia.  (Mk 1:4-8)

* "as they acknowledged their sins"

repentance/change of mind/cancellation of debt/sins suggests a new understanding, one is cleansed on one’s moral imperfections.

In the writings of the New Testament and especially those of St.  Paul we find many images used to describe the effects of baptism:

as an immersion into the paschal mystery of the death and resurrection of Christ:

"Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into his death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life"
(Rom 6:3-4)

as a tomb, in which we are buried with Christ:

"and you were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead"
(Col 2:12)

as the means by which one is publicly united with Christ through union with the Church:

"For by one Spirit, we are all baptized into one body"
(I Cor 12:13)

"For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ" (Gal 3:27)

as prefigured in Exodus of the Chosen People by Moses:

"And all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea"
(I Cor 10:2)

in the Gospel of St Luke Jesus identifies Baptism with struggle and suffering:

"I have a Baptism to be baptized with and how I am constrained until it is accomplished"
(Lk 12:50)

and as we saw above in the 4th Gospel, Jesus speaks of baptism as a spiritual "womb" from which one it to be reborn (Jn 3:3-8).

"unless one is born again of water and Spirit, one cannot enter the Kingdom of God"
(Jn 3:5)

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 26- "On discernment of thoughts, passions, and virtues"

75. In every passion, and also in the virtues, let us critically examine ourselves: Where are we? At the beginning, or in the middle, or at the end?

July 15, 2010 


(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.

TESTIMONY FROM THE EDITOR: "Another One of Those Nights"

It seems to happen several times each year that the Lord asks me to spend the night praying rather than sleeping.  I suppose "asks" is perhaps not a strong enough word.  Perhaps "prods" or even "compels" would be more accurate.  The reason for these nights of prayer is frequently soon obvious.  A close friend or family member will have unknowingly passed away or a significant natural disaster will have occurred.  Admittedly, there are other times that I am left to wonder why the Lord needed me to pray. Needless to say, I am somewhat resistant to the call, knowing from experience the possible unpleasant nature of the aftermath. 

I have learned also from experience, that it makes no sense to argue.  I can remind the Lord about my long day at work or the numerous responsibilities that await me the following day, but it never seems to help. I just won't be able to sleep.  I need to pray.

Yesterday was one of those nights.

After hours of tossing about in bed while silently praying the Rosary or any of several prayers that came to mind, I began to feel like I was now finally allowed to go to sleep.  Just as I was starting to doze off, I heard what I thought was an audible voice!

"Mami, Mami"!

My mind began to race.  Was I praying for my mother?  Was I supposed to say more Hail Marys? 

My eyes snapped open and once again I heard the same words, "Mami, Mami", yet this time more distinctly.

Sheepishly, I  realized that Daniel, my seven year old son, was calling from downstairs in his bedroom.  I didn't have the heart to wake my wife.  Sleep would have to wait.

As I climbed onto his bunk bed, I realized the Lord was instructing me that my prayer time was not quite over.  I again began my litany of prayers, waiting for Daniel to fall asleep.  Each time I made the slightest movement in bed, he instantly opened his eyes.  No, I would be praying for a while.

After what seemed to be hours (and probably was), he appeared to be sleeping soundly.  I carefully slid down his creaky bed and stealthily climbed down the ladder of the bunk bed. 

"Where are you going", Daniel asked, just as my feet hit the floor. 

"To the bathroom, Daniel, I'll be right back", I answered.  A few moments later, I was lying once again next to Daniel, praying away the night. 

Finally at 5:30 am, I climbed back into my own bed to get my forty-five minutes of sleep. At last, the Lord decreed, it was bedtime. 

Ninety minutes later I sprang out of bed, late for morning Mass.  I rushed out of the house, as I remembered that the regular Thursday lector was out and I was to be his replacement.  After opening the office, I briskly walked over to Church, arriving minutes before Mass was to begin.  There would be no time to rehearse the readings.

Imagine my surprise as I proclaimed this segment from the First Reading from the prophet Isaiah:

"Yes, for your way and your judgments, O LORD, we look to you; Your name and your title are the desire of our souls.
My soul yearns for you in the night, yes, my spirit within me keeps vigil for you; When your judgment dawns upon the earth, the world's inhabitants learn justice."

As I walked back to the office, joyfully pondering the mysterious relationship between God and His children, my mood began to darken.  Why did God need me to pray last night? 

Immediately I thought... Delfin!  Delfin has been a patient of mine for over twenty years.  We have gone through a lot together, as I have warily cared for his remaining seeing eye.  I had been notified earlier in the week by his wife that he had been hospitalized with a stroke, and was unable to communicate with her.  I now wondered whether perhaps my prayers were meant to speed his way through Purgatory.  "Did Delfin die", I sadly wondered?

As soon as my wife arrived in the office, I noticed she had a message in her hands from Delfin's wife.  I hurriedly asked her to please return her call immediately. 

Delfin had not died.  No, the doctors had been wrong.  He had not suffered a stroke, but rather an electrolyte imbalance.  Once treated, he was once again conversing with his wife!  She had called to pass on the good news.

God knows if it was Delfin who kept me up last night.  Perhaps it was another Delfin, in a far corner of the world, or on his own journey through Purgatory.

But regardless of the reason, I'm glad He did.

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 26- "On discernment of thoughts, passions, and virtues"

74. To the pious it is natural to give to everyone who asks; and to the more pious to give even to him who does not ask. But not to demand a thing back from the person who took it, especially when they have the chance, is characteristic perhaps only of the dispassionate.

July 14, 2010 

(Rev 12:12-13) Therefore, rejoice, O heavens, and you that dwell therein. Woe to the earth and to the sea, because the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, knowing that he hath but a short time. And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman who brought forth the man child.

VIA ARCHIVES LIFESITNEWS.COM: The priesthood, Pope Benedict said, is not "pleasing to the 'enemy,'" (the devil).

"He would have rather preferred to see it disappear, so that God would ultimately be driven out of the world. And so it happened that, in this very year of joy for the sacrament of the priesthood, the sins of priests came to light - particularly the abuse of the little ones, in which the priesthood, whose task is to manifest God's concern for our good, turns into its very opposite."

With evident personal sadness, the pope again extended his apology to the victims of sexual abuse, saying, "We too insistently beg forgiveness from God and from the persons involved."


Seattle Archdiocese settles 2 sex-related lawsuits
Wichita Priest Pleads To Nudity Charge
New sex abuse claims filed against former priest
Priest Facing Sex Counts
Catholic priest faces charges for unreported deposits

THE WAR IS NOT OVER: Catholic priests renew vows

At a time when we hear sad and disturbing news about priesthood, this wants to be indeed a good piece of inspiring good news. From June 20 to 29 all the priests of the three Catholic dioceses of the Solomon Islands (Honiara, Auki and Gizo) met for a renewal and formation program at the conclusion of the international year of the priest called by Pope Benedict the XVI).

A total of 63 Catholic priests and religious with their three bishops met at Vanga RTC in Western Province to renewed their experience of God and the commitment of their vows to Him and to that portion of His people entrusted to their pastoral care.

Two Marianists religious from USA animated and facilitated the encounter, the first of its kind in the history of the Catholic Church in Solomon Islands.

The experience coincided with the golden Jubilee celebrations of the Catholic church in the Gizo Diocese and the golden jubilee of the ordination of its first Bishop (Bishop Eusebius Crawford, OP) in Rome, in May 1960.

The program which consisted in biblical, Marian and spirituality inputs, reflections and sharing among the participants provided a unique occasion for sharing one’s faith, experiencing brotherhood and fraternal support, and renewing one’s personal commitment to the priestly identity and service.

In a time when priesthood has been attacked and undermined by mistakes of some of its members around the world, it was great to see the renewal of the commitment to be priests’ according to the heart of the good shepherd in communion with the universal Catholic church built on Peter’s rock.

The commitment took place at the celebration of Solemnity of Saint Peter, the patron saint of the Gizo Cathedral.

Each of the bishops and priests renewed their fidelity to Christ and their priesthood.

This was done meaningfully by each one touching the cross and the bible in prayerful silence in front of the assembly before the final blessing in Saint Peter’s renewed Cathedral.

SEE ALSO: Ancient Catholic Heritage Reborn

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 26- "On discernment of thoughts, passions, and virtues"

73. The Fathers state that the active life consists in two virtues of the most general kind: fasting and obedience. And rightly, for the first destroys sensuality, and the other reinforces this destruction with humility. That is why mourning also has a double power, for it destroys sin and produces humility.

July 13, 2010  - 93rd Anniversary of the July 13 Secret of Fatima 

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


On May 13 2010, Pope Benedict XVI made a pilgrimage to the famous Marian Shrine of Fatima in Portugal and held an open-air mass to celebrate the 93rd anniversary of the day in 1917 when the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared to three shepherd children Lucia and her cousins Jacinta and Francisco in Aljustrel. Fatima, found in western central Portugal about 110 kilometres north of Lisbon is so popular and annually visited by over five million people, making it the most visited Marian shrine in the world to date.

For Ugandans, it is better to call it the ‘Kiwamirembe or Bukalango of Portugal’ just to get a feel of what takes place there. Sometime back, a Ugandan priest told me how a few years ago he witnessed a rare miracle performed at Fatima when a crippled woman walked for the first time after saying a short prayer.

Fatima is so famous that some Ugandan Catholic parishes like the “Our Lady of Fatima Nakulabye” have been named after it. And so special it is that even Real Madrid Manager Jose Mourinho holds it in high esteem. If there is anything Portuguese about Mourinho, it is his passion for football and God. He carries with him an image of the Virgin Mary bought in Fatima and during games he has been known to kiss the image.

On May 12, 1982, Pope John Paul II made a pilgrimage to Fatima and thanked Mother Mary for saving his life in an assassination attempt the previous year. While at Fatima last week, Pope Benedict recalled the would-be assassination of John Paul. “John Paul II was shot at St. Peter’s Square on May 13, 1981 – the Fatima apparitions anniversary, a coincidence that led him to believe that the Virgin’s unseen hand had rescued him from death,” Benedict said in a prayer at the shrine. The pope said it was John Paul II’s wish to give the bullet extracted from his abdomen to the shrine as a measure of gratitude. The bullet today forms part of the crown of the statue of the Virgin Mary in the chapel where Benedict knelt and prayed.

The Vatican suggested the turn-out which was larger than that for John Paul II when he last visited 10 years ago, was a show of public support for Pope Benedict over his handling of the paedophile crisis in the church.

MAY 13, 1917

The apparition of the Virgin Mary to Lucia Do Santos, Jacinta and Francisco Marto between May and October 1917 predicted world events, including the second world war, communist Russia’s return to Christianity and the attempt to kill Pope John Paul II sixty- five years later on May 13, 1981.

Lucia, the only one of the three children to speak directly with Our Lady, was given a vision of hell. She kept the details of her vision secret until closer to death in 2005 at the age of 88.

On May 13, the 10-year-old Lucia was sent by her parents to tend the family sheep in the hills. She was accompanied by her cousins Francisco Marto, nice and his seven-year-old sister Jacinta. The three children were playing when they suddenly saw a brilliant light. Later, another flash lit up the place and they saw on top of the hill a lady more brilliant than the sun, holding a white rosary. The lady told the children to pray intensely and make sacrifices for sinners.

Lucia asked, “But who are you and what do you want of us?” The lady answered, “I want you to come here for six months in succession, on every 13th day then I will tell you who I am.” The children did as told and on the 13th of June, July, August, September and October she appeared and spoke to them once again. On the day of the second apparition approximately 60 villagers accompanied the children. Mary, visible only to the three children, predicted the death of Jacinta and Francisco.

On August 13, local authorities barred the children from visiting the site thinking it was a hoax. During the last apparition on October 13, 1917 with about 70,000 people present, the lady told them that she was the lady of the rosary. All present witnessed the miracle. The sun, resembling a silver disc, could be gazed at without difficulty and whirling on itself like a wheel of fire, it appeared like it would fall upon the earth.

After the lady’s appearance, the three little seers suffered greatly. Family members, church officials and others pressed them for more information or urged them to retract their stories as lies.
As prophesied, Francisco and Jacinta died in 1919 and 1920 respectively. Pope John Paul II beatified them in 2000 and their remains are entombed inside the Basilica at the site.

As for Lucia, she entered the religious community of St. Dorothy in 1921 and took the name Maria Lucia of Dolours. In 1948, with permission from Pope Pius XII, Lucia entered the Camel of St. Teresa of Coimbra and took the name Sister Maria Lucia of the Immaculate Heart.

After her death in 2005, her body was interred in the shrine as well.

Inside the Vatican: A Reflection on Apparitions

Can apparitions really occur?

Isn't it almost silly, according to our "modern" mind, which is so very rational, to think that the heavens can open, and a face can appear, and speak, to three children, or to a nun in Japan, or to a group of young people in Yugoslavia?

It does seem silly to many. Yet there is no doubt that apparitions occur. The evidence is overwhelming.

The entire tradition of Scripture, of the people of Israel, of the Christian people from the beginning, is filled with appearances, epiphanies, moments when the veil which separates this "age," this temporal world, from the "age to come," the "eternal world," parts, or lifts, and dazzling light, or a resplendent face, appears. This has happened, and happens.

Yet what does it mean? Many, indeed, would argue that it is "merely" a "psychological phenomenon."

And they would be, in a sense, right!

The phenomenon does occur in the mind, in the psyche.

But that does not mean that what occurs is not true, not an "objective" phenomenon.

Such theophanies, such "revealings" of the presence of the holy (and God alone is holy) are like the moment of the Transfiguration. They are like the moment at table after the walk to Emmaus, when Jesus is recognized, even though he had already been with the disciples for many hours.

And, at Fatima, the objective reality of this "phenomenon" was punctuated dramatically on October 13, 1917, when the "Miracle of the Sun" occurred.

In front of a startled crowd of some 70,000 people, including the most skeptical of observers, something happened which was extraordinary and dramatic, and was perceived even by those who were not "susceptible" to such phenomena. There are even photographs of the stunned spectators looking up toward the sun-filled sky. Something happened. Something happened.

We once called such moments graces, literally, gifts. Something freely given by an "other" to someone who may be very humble, very unlearned, very simple, very ordinary by most standards.

In this sense, there is no particular honor, no personal sense of pride, to be associated with "receiving" an apparition, or any gift, of God. Since it is something given, it is, by definition, unmerited. There is truly no basis for the "mystic" to vaunt his "worth" -- had God not desired to give the "experience," it would not have been given.

Indeed, sometimes it seems that it is only those who are small, and weak, and broken, who can receive such graces. Like impoverished shepherd children in Portugal...

Sometimes, even, such graces seem sent in order to heal, to help set in motion a healing process -- this could occur, perhaps, even to a modern person, even, perhaps, to a Vatican journalist.

Those who do not receive such graces -- well, perhaps they are not so in need of healing, not so broken.

Being broken may be part of the price of being receptive to such graces, noticing them, "seeing" them.

It is all a mystery.

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 26- "On discernment of thoughts, passions, and virtues"

72. It is impossible for those who have not first lived in obedience to obtain humility; for everyone who has learned an art on his own fancies himself.

July 12, 2010 

(Mat 10:34) Do not think that I came to send peace upon earth: I came not to send peace, but the sword.

RENEW AMERICA: Exclusive excerpt from Father Euteneuer's book on exorcism

VIA Bread of Heaven International Prayer Group: The Devil-Your Greatest Enemy! by the late Father Kilian McGowan, C.P.

A recent TV mystery thriller presented a most absorbing story of a talented artist who made a contract with the devil and wound up by losing his soul. It was good in making the devil very real, but poor in making the artist too powerless.  For there are two mistakes commonly made regarding the devil-to underrate his abilities, or to overestimate his powers.

Of one thing we can be sure-the devil exists!  He is brilliant, though completely misguided, genius.  He has angelic knowledge and a profound insight into your weaknesses.  He is a shrewd, and talented director using every possible trick to achieve his end-to drag you into the pits of hell forever.  He is your enemy and he hates you-just as he hates God!

In any total warfare the first aim of prudent strategy must be to know your enemy, his strength and weaknesses, and the strategy he'll pursue.  This is true, above all, in the warfare of life.  To be blind to the existence, the deceits, and the cunning of the devil is like an ostrich burying its head in the sand-you're going to get your wings clipped!

The greatest success of the devil in this age has been to convince a lot of people that he doesn't exist-that he belongs in the same category as goblins and fairies.  He laughs at this stupidity as he goes underground where he can do his dirty work unobserved and undetected.  Here this fifth columnist works untiringly to undermine the work of God in your soul.

If some make themselves an easy prey to the devil by denying his reality, others may go to the other extreme and blame everything on him...even the things they do on their own.

Let us not forget that the world and the flesh are also an abundant source of temptation.  And while the devil does use these for his own ends, some people are push-overs even before the devil appears on the scene.

But let us consider the strategy that the devil uses on good people who are sincerely striving to love and serve God.  In general, he tries to blow them up with pride and then cast them down by discouragement.  He does everything in his power to stimulate their desire to dominate, to rule, to be esteemed, all of which are contrary to the humility and simplicity preached by our Lord.

He encourages what appear as virtues, but what are really mockeries of true virtue.  The devil may inspire mortification, for example, but only of the "showy" variety-especially where it can be observed by others.  Never does he encourage self-denial of our will, our judgment, or our opinions.  Yet, our Lord told us to deny ourselves.

The devil tempts us to a show of piety and pious practices where it can be seen and esteemed.  He very cleverly teaches a hundred and one ways of drawing attention to one's self-tempting one to be an exhibitionist either in dress or actions.  He gets otherwise good women to wear styles that not only sin against modesty, but also against charity by the temptations they cause others.

He tries to attract a spiritual person to the sensational and the extraordinary, hoping there-by to distract him from the essential though hidden means of sanctification.  He encourages a false humility that is proud of appearing humble and depreciating itself publicly.

The devil stirs up a false hope in our souls by making us depend more on our good works than on the saving mercy of God.  He tempts us to sin and then tells us to give up.  He wants us to be impatient with ourselves and our failings just to make us vexed, confused, and overanxious in general.  He shows his face in a bitter and critical zeal that is opposed to true charity.

Of another thing be sure-you can beat him down and you can do it every time.  But you can't do it alone!  That would be like trying to take on an armored division with your bare hands!  You need humility to make you depend on the grace of God.  You need prayer to make the strength of God your own.

You need spiritual help of the sacraments to keep up your defenses.  You need the help of that Victress of all God's battles-Mary, the Mother of God.  Above all, you need Christ, her divine Son who destroyed the power of Satan forever on a hill called Calvary.  You need, finally, contempt for the devil.  For while he is very real and very powerful, he is still powerless when you use well these weapons of God.  So, use them well-and often!

CATHOLIC CULTURE: Spiritual Warfare: The Occult Has Demonic Influence

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 26- "On discernment of thoughts, passions, and virtues"

71. Often Divine providence leaves certain slight passions in spiritual people so that, by unsparingly condemning themselves for those trifling defects, they may obtain that wealth of humility which none can steal.

July 9, 2010 


(Exo 20:13) Thou shalt not kill.

ST. LOUIS REVIEW: Good Catholics cannot be pro-choice; The Fifth Commandment demands respect for life as God's most precious gift

by Archbishop Robert J. Carlson

God's law in the Old Testament is clear and unambiguous: You shall not kill. Jesus is even more demanding: Every one who is angry is liable to judgment.

Sins against the Fifth Commandment are easy to commit. Any time we think, speak or act out of anger or hatred or jealousy or revenge, we abuse God's commandment that we respect His most precious gift, the gift of life — especially human life.

Human life is sacred because, from its beginning until its natural end, it involves the creative action of God. The Fifth Commandment forbids direct and intentional killing as gravely sinful. God alone is the Lord of life. No one has the right to end arbitrarily what God has begun, and sustained, through the gift of His love.

In the account of Abel's murder by Cain (Genesis 4:8-12), Scripture reveals the presence of anger and envy in humankind, consequences of original sin, from the beginning of recorded history. God declares this as wicked, and He asks the question to be answered over the ages: "What have you done?" Today this question is asked not only of those who kill someone, but also of those responsible for violence, anger, hatred and vengeance in any form.

It is a shame that there are so many violent words expressed between members of the same family day in and day out. Anger and intolerance are also pervasive in our Church and in society. Such attitudes are destructive and sinful. They are of the Evil One and not of God.

The Fifth Commandment does not stop someone from self defense, because someone who defends his or her own life is not guilty of murder. Legitimate defense can be not only a right but also a grave duty for someone responsible for another's life, the common good of the family or the security of a nation. We risk our lives to protect ourselves and others because we value human life and freedom so dearly. They are gifts from God that we are bound to cherish and defend.

Since the first century, the Church has addressed the moral evil of abortion and the killing of a defenseless baby in the womb. People who are casual about the sin of abortion and who choose to view it as a political issue rather than the serious moral issue that it is are guilty of violating the Fifth Commandment. You cannot be "pro-choice" (pro-abortion) and remain a Catholic in good standing. That's why the Church asks those who maintain this position not to receive holy Communion. We are not being mean or judgmental, we are simply acknowledging the fact that such a stance is objectively and seriously sinful and is radically inconsistent with the Christian way of life.

The Fathers of the Second Vatican Council said, "God, the Lord of life, has entrusted to men the noble mission of safeguarding life, and human life must be protected with the utmost care from the moment of conception: Abortion and infanticide are abominable crimes" ("Gaudium et Spes," No. 51.3). That's why formal cooperation in an abortion constitutes a grave offense. The Church attaches the canonical penalty of excommunication to this crime against human life (see canons 1398,1314, and 1323-1324).

The Fifth Commandment also directs us to work for justice and peace — avoiding war whenever possible — and to limit the use of capital punishment to the most extreme (and rare) circumstances required to protect human life. Only God has the right to take the life of another human being. When we take that action into our own hands — in self-defense or in defense of others — we had better be sure that all other options have been exhausted!

In addition, euthanasia or deliberately taking of the life of someone who is sick, dying, disabled or mentally ill is morally unacceptable. The Church calls for the ordinary care owed to a sick person, but medical procedures that are burdensome, dangerous or extraordinary are not necessary. If you are unsure about the moral implications of health care procedures that are being proposed for someone you love, contact your pastor or the archdiocese's Respect Life Apostolate. They will be happy to help you consider approaches that are in accordance with our Church's teaching about care for those who are sick or dying.

Taking proper care of our health, respecting others and showing respect for the dead are all matters covered by the Fifth Commandment's demand that we reverence God's most precious gift — human life.

The Finger of an Abortionist and the Hand of God

LINK: Victims of Abortion

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 26- "On discernment of thoughts, passions, and virtues"

69. When confronted by evils, we should choose the least. For instance, it often happens that we are standing at prayer, and brothers come to us, and we have to do one of two things; either to stop praying, or to grieve the brother by leaving him without an answer. Love is greater than prayer, because prayer is a particular virtue but love embraces all the virtues.

July 8, 2010 

(Hos 10:12)  Sow for yourselves justice, reap the fruit of piety; break up for yourselves a new field, for it is time to seek the LORD, till he come and rain down justice upon you.

VIA  A Moment with Mary List: 
Our Lady of Akita: Holy Water from Lourdes (I)

Agnes Sasagawa Katsuko, born in 1931, had had an appendectomy at age 19, but the excessive dose of the anesthesia the doctor injected left her paralyzed.  Her father, a man of great nobility, chose not to sue the medical staff.  Agnes told me that he said: "The doctor made an honest mistake in trying to cure my daughter, I will not seek to avenge myself." A Catholic nurse talked to her about Christ.  Agnes' conversion occurred peacefully, while she spoke openly to a Buddhist monk who respected her conscience.

In 1956, her state worsened: she went into a coma.  The sisters of Nagasaki sent some holy water from Lourdes to the Myoko Clinic.  As soon as she tasted the water Agnes regained consciousness: her inert limbs recuperated their mobility.  She was twenty-five years old at the time, and began to work with all her heart teaching catechism at the church of Myoko-Kogen.  But then she went deaf and had to stop this ministry.  Instead she entered the small convent of the Handmaids of the Eucharist in Yuzawada -- a contemplative community founded by the bishop of Niigata, Rev.  Shojiro Ito.

On the evening of July 5, 1956, as she started praying, Sr.  Agnes suddenly felt a cross-shaped wound in her left palm, 2 centimeters wide by 3 centimeters long.  It apparently looked like a scratch, but in reality she felt a deep stabbing pain, like a needle, preventing her from sleeping at night.  At 3 o'clock in the morning, she suddenly heard a voice (her guardian angel) say to her:

"Don't be afraid!  Do not pray only for your own sins, but in reparation for those of all mankind.  Today's world hurts the Most Sacred Heart of Our Lord by its ingratitude and insults.  Mary's wound is much deeper than yours.  Now, let's go to the chapel together."

Bishop Shojiro Ito eventually obtained from Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) then Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the formal authorization to proclaim the authenticity of the Akita events and messages, before he retired due to his advanced age.  His conclusion, on April 22, 1984 (Easter):

"These facts, established after 11 years of investigations, are undeniable (...).  Consequently, I authorize the veneration of Our Lady of Akita."

Sister Agnes, the seer, was cured of her deafness in 2 stages (October 13, 1974, and May 30, 1982), but has now been paralyzed since August of 1981.  She lives in a profound interior peace.

AKITA APPARITON LETTER: Pastoral Letter of Bishop John Shojiro Ito April 22, 1984

AKITA: Third and the Last message on October 13, 1973:

    ". . . if men do not repent and better themselves, the Father will inflict a terrible punishment on all humanity. It will be a punishment greater than the deluge, such as one will never have seen before. Fire will fall from the sky and will wipe out a great part of humanity, the good as well as the bad, sparing neither priests nor faithful. The survivors will find themselves so desolate that they will envy the dead. The only arms which will remain for you will be the Rosary and the Sign left by my Son. Each day recite the prayers of the Rosary. With the Rosary, pray for the Pope, the bishops and the priests."

    "The work of the devil will infiltrate even into the Church in such a way that one will see cardinals opposing cardinals, bishops against other bishops. The priests who venerate me will be scorned and opposed by their confreres (other priests). Churches and altars will be sacked. The Church will be full of those who accept compromises and the demon will press many priests and consecrated souls to leave the service of the Lord."

    "The demon will be especially implacable against the souls consecrated to God. The thought of the loss of so many souls is the cause of my sadness. If sins increase in number and gravity, there will be no longer pardon for them."

    ". . . Pray very much the prayers of the Rosary. I alone am able still to save you from the calamities which approach. Those who place their confidence in me will be saved."

CATHOLIC TRACT: A Terrible Warning – The Message of Our Lady of Akita

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 26- "On discernment of thoughts, passions, and virtues"

68. Above nature are chastity, freedom from anger, humility, prayer, vigil, fasting, constant compunction. Some of them men teach us, others angels, and of others the Teacher and Giver is God the Word Himself.

July 7, 2010 

(1Co 11:26-29) For as often as you shall eat this bread and drink the chalice, you shall shew the death of the Lord, until he come. Therefore, whosoever shall eat this bread, or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and of the blood of the Lord. But let a man prove himself: and so let him eat of that bread and drink of the chalice. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily eateth and drinketh judgment to himself, not discerning the body of the Lord.


ARCHBISHOP CHARLES J. CHAPUT: The next great task of the liturgical renewal is to build an authentic Eucharistic culture, to instill a new sacramental and liturgical sensibility that enables Catholics to face the idols and suppositions of our culture with the confidence of believers who draw life from the sacred mysteries, in which we have communion with the living God.

We need to discover new ways to enter into the liturgical mystery; to realize the central place of the liturgy in God's plan of salvation; to truly live our lives as a spiritual offering to God; and to embrace our responsibilities for the Church's mission with a renewed Eucharistic spirituality. 

BISHOP THOMAS J. TOBIN: I suppose it’s typical for human beings to sometimes take our finest gifts for granted – our health, our faith, our family and our friends, for example. And even as Catholics we have the tendency to take for granted one of God’s most precious gifts – the Holy Eucharist, and all that it means for us. Although we typically pay lip service to the importance of the Eucharist, I wonder if we really appreciate its significance in our lives.

As the heart and soul of our Catholic Faith, the Eucharist a gift and mystery that includes several important dimensions. The Eucharist is a sacrifice – the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross, made present again in a sacramental way. The Eucharist is a sacrament – the abiding presence of Christ among His people under the external forms of bread and wine. The Eucharist is a meal – established by Jesus at the Last Supper, and in which the action of eating and drinking the Body and Blood of Christ is essential to its meaning. And the Eucharist is a celebration – an affirmation of our faith in sign and symbol.

So, dear reader, as we consider the Holy Eucharist, let’s try to resist our normal tendency to take our gifts for granted. The Eucharist is the Body and Blood of Christ; it is the Bread of Life; it is spiritual food for our journey on earth; and it contains all the power we need to transform the world into the Kingdom of God.

CARDINAL SEAN O'MALLEY: After adoration and Scripture readings, Cardinal Seán O'Malley of Boston, the homilist, spoke, saying that at the Last Supper Jesus gave a new commandment, "love one another as I have loved you," and a new gift, the sacrament of the Eucharist.

"He loves us first. He loves us to the end. He loves us to the point of laying down his life for us. He loves us while we are still in sin," Cardinal O'Malley said.

While this command to love is daunting, "he gives us the sacrament so we can live this life of love. … It strengthens us. It challenges us."

The Eucharist comes to God's people through the priesthood, the cardinal added. "This wonderful gift (the priesthood) makes the Eucharist available everywhere for all times."

Speaking with a deep, resonant voice, the white-bearded cardinal said, "Many today find the teaching too hard to believe and simply stop coming."

However, "Jesus' words and actions assure us he has left us a miracle of love in the Eucharist," he said. "Our God loves us and the Eucharist is a celebration of that saving love."

At the same time, the Mass "reminds us of our need for repentance and conversion."

He told of a missionary to the Masai people in Africa. When the priest reached a Masai village, dancing and prayers would precede the celebration of the Eucharist, and could go on for a day. The tribal leaders would decide if the community was ready to come to the Eucharist. It was not always celebrated if the leaders decided there was sin in the community, he said.

The cardinal, a member of the Capuchin Franciscan order, said the American cultural environment is one of "entertainment and entitlement."

Contrast that with Moses taking off his shoes in the presence of the burning bush or Peter falling down before Jesus after the miraculous catch of fish and saying, "Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man."

"The Eucharist is a greater miracle than the miraculous draught of fish," the cardinal said, a miracle to be approached with awe and humility.

He prayed the Congress would be "an Emmaus experience for all of us."

After meeting Jesus in the breaking of the bread, the disciples immediately set out to tell others. Like them, the cardinal prayed that participants will experience "Eucharistic amazement" and "when we enter into Communion with Christ, we will sense the duty to be a witness."

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 26- "On discernment of thoughts, passions, and virtues"

66. I know also a fifth kind of spiritual dispassion which comes from great simplicity and praiseworthy innocence. For on such people, help is justly bestowed by God who saves the upright of heart and imperceptibly rids them of all vice; just as infants, when undressed, are quite unaware of it.

July 6, 2010 

(Psa 46:10) "Be still, and know that I am God. I am exalted among the nations, I am exalted in the earth!"

Pope praises life of 13th-century Pope Celestine V

Pope Benedict XVI said Sunday that "for all our weaknesses" priests have an important role in the world. The trip to Sulmona was dedicated to honoring Celestine V, the 13th-century hermit who resigned the papacy saying that he was not up to the task. The remains of 13th century Pope Celestine V, known as St. Celestine, were spared in the earthquake in L'Aquila in April 2009 that destroyed the Basilica of Santa Maria di Collemaggio where his body was held in a glass casket.

Benedict XVI visited the region that April of 2009, at which time he made a stop at the Collemaggio Basilica in L'Aquila to pray in front of the casket with the remains of Celestine V. To emphasize his spiritual solidarity, the Pontiff left there the pallium that he received at the beginning of his pontificate.

The Pontiff then convoked a Celestine Year -- from Aug. 28, 2009, to Aug. 29, 2010 -- that celebrates the 800th birthday of the Pope. The saint's remains have been on pilgrimage during this year throughout the dioceses of the region.

Benedict said his simple and humble lifestyle can serve as an example for modern men and women. The pontiff praised his predecessor for his detachment from material things such as money and clothes.

"We, too, who live in an epoch of greater comfort and possibilities, are called upon to appreciate a sober lifestyle," the pope said.

Celestine V resigned just months after becoming pope in 1294 at age 85. He was later put under guard for fear he would become the rallying point for a schism. Celestine died in 1296 and was declared a saint in 1313.

Benedict, at times wiping his forehead, conducted an open-air Mass in hot weather before thousands of faithful in one of Sulmona's main squares.

In modern society, Benedict told them, "it seems that every space, every moment must be filled with initiatives, activities, sounds. Often there isn't even the time to listen."

"Let's not fear the silence inside and outside of us, if we want to be able to perceive not just the voice of God but also (the voices) of those who are next to us," he said.

MORE VIA CNA: Holiness never goes out of style, declares Pope Benedict XVI

FROM DR. ROBERT MOYNIHAN PREVIEW: So Sunday, the Pope will pray before Celestine's relics for the second time in 15 months.

I am not suggesting Pope Benedict XVI is thinking of following in the footsteps of the saintly Pope Celestine and resigning.

I am suggesting that the studious Pope Benedict and the studious monk-Pope are "connected" in a mysterious way.

I believe Benedict's decisions to leave his pallium in Aquila, where Celestine's tomb is located, and to schedule a prayer before his relics this coming Sunday, are not haphazard.

These decisions are indicators, ways of communicating truths through gestures. They contain a message the Pope cannot deliver any other way.


Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 26- "On discernment of thoughts, passions, and virtues"

65. I know another way in which those beasts slink off; they depart after the soul has thoroughly acquired the habits of vice and is its own betrayer and enemy. Infants are an example of what has been said; for, when weaned from their mother's breasts, from longstanding habit they suck their fingers.

July 3, 2010 


(Psa 119:30) I have chosen the way of truth: thy judgments I have not forgotten.

VIA Father Corapi
Independence Day Message

I have fond memories of the 4th of July going back to when I was probably only four or five years old. We remember the parades, the picnics or barbecues, and the happy gathering of families. During the American Revolution, the legal separation of the American colonies from Great Britain actually took place on July 2, 1776, when the Second Continental Congress voted to approve the resolution of independence previously put forth by Richard Henry Lee of Virginia. After debate and revision Congress approved the Declaration of Independence on July 4th.

Of note is the letter John Adams, one of only two Founding Fathers who went on to become president, wrote to his wife Abigail:

…This day ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of the continent to the other, from this time forward forever more. (Adams Family Papers: An Electronic Archive. Massachusetts Historical Society)

Like so many of the Founding Fathers, Adams recognized that the day of deliverance came from the providential hand of almighty God. I am not sure about large numbers of duplicitous politicians and other so-called public servants today, whether elected or appointed.

Freedom is a great thing, and we do well to celebrate it on the 4th of July. That being said, it’s something rooted in truth, and apart from the truth there can be no authentic freedom.

If you continue in my word [truth] you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free. (John 8:31-32)

An individual, a country, or a world that does not remain rooted in objective truth cannot ultimately live in freedom. If you are serious about your faith, my dear friends, I strongly recommend that you read #1730-1748 as we approach the wonderful celebration of Independence Day, or the 4th of July.

Some highlights of this reality:

1731: Freedom is the power, rooted in reason and will, to act or not to act, to do this or that, and so to perform deliberate actions on one’s own responsibility. By free will one shapes one’s own life. Human freedom is a force for growth and maturity in truth and goodness; it attains its perfection when directed toward God, our beatitude [true happiness].
1733: The more one does what is good, the freer one becomes… One of the most common errors of all time is to confuse freedom and license. Today, frequently under the specious pretext freedom, mankind acts in a manner that is really license. We are not morally free to do whatever we choose to do. Only when rooted in truth and acting in objective truth can we hope to be free. No one has the moral right to do evil. No one has the moral right to choose to take an innocent life or to engage in actions that are out of accord with right reason or any objective standards of morality we have ever known.

The inevitable consequence of abusing freedom is losing freedom. Soon, if we do not alter our present course, the United States will no longer be the home of the brave and the land of the free. Loss of personal freedoms, one at a time, is already well underway. One day we shall awake from our moral slumber and find that we have become slaves.

We must live in truth and act in truth if we are to remain free. Abuse it and I assure you we shall lose it! Wake up America! God is not a disinterested spectator. Let’s thank God for our freedom, but let’s not sit by idly while the forces of darkness divorce freedom from truth. For, as Jesus says, “The man who sins is the slave of sin.” (John 8:34)

I’ll leave you with the motto of the United States Army Special Forces on this 4th of July:

De oppresso liber! (To free the oppressed)

Indeed, Jesus came to set the captives free. Let’s do our part for our country and our world that we might all remain free in the glorious freedom of the children of God.

God bless you, Fr. John Corapi

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 26- "On discernment of thoughts, passions, and virtues"

64. Demons leave us of their own accord so as to lead us to carelessness, and then suddenly carry off our wretched soul.

July 2, 2010 

(John 20:22-23) When he had said this, he breathed on them; and he said to them: Receive ye the Holy Ghost. Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them: and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained.

TESTIMONY: Confession lets me hand off my sins

Reflection by Father Ted
Thank You, dearest Jesus for allowing me to hear the confessions of so many novices of Your Missionaries of Charity this afternoon.

You offered to them the opportunity of confessing their sins, and they took full advantage of this gift of Yours.

They were forgiven; they were blessed; and they were offered strength to resist future temptations.

They take advantage of this gift of love that You offer to them weekly.

They do.  Yet how many others do not.

Why don’t they?

I believe that they have been conned into believing that they do not need this awesome gift.

I believe that many do not believe that they have sinned and that this denial is one of the factors why many are not truly happy and at peace.

During the past forty years there has been a devious effort to deprive Your children not only of the awareness of their purpose in life, but also of the opportunities to experience Your guidance and help.

They have not been taught that You made us to know You, to love You and to serve You in this world so that we can be with You in heaven.

They have been taught that they do not need to worship the Father with You.  And so they deprive themselves of the privilege of Sunday Mass; and they deprive themselves of the nourishment and strength that comes from hearing Your Word and from receiving You in the Holy Eucharist.

They have been taught that they do not need to have an intimate relationship with Your Mother whom You gave to them to be their Mother.  They have been deceived into rejecting the power of the Rosary.

They have been deluded into accepting many false teachings which have prevented them from enjoying Your Wisdom and Your Life and Your Truth.

Lord, have mercy on them.

Persuade Your shepherds to seek out their lost sheep.  Inspire Your shepherds want to feed Your lambs; tend Your sheep; feed Your sheep.  Teach Your shepherds to sanctify Your flock.

O Good Shepherd, send forth Your Spirit and enkindle within us the fire of Your love.

Come Holy Spirit, come; place within us the desire to become saints.

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 26- "On discernment of thoughts, passions, and virtues"

63. The material of the passions is destroyed when consumed by Divine fire. And while this material is being uprooted and the soul purified, the passions all retire; that is, if the man himself does not attract them again by worldly habits and indolence.

July 1, 2010 

(2Ch 7:14) And my people, upon whom my name is called, being converted, shall make supplication to me, and seek out my face, and do penance for their most wicked ways: then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sins and will heal their land.


Hurricane Alex pushes more oil onto Gulf coast beaches
FEMA Plans to Evacuate Tampa Bay Area In Place?
Louisiana Reports Oil Spill Illnesses
Gulf spill could be 'worse than hurricanes,' fears Catholic Charities director

INTERESTING OBSERVATION FROM A BLOG:  I perceive a parable in the oil spill. Joseph Herrin had written a while back (October 2002) about black oil anointing, contrasting the black crude oil with clear olive oil. I believe he presented some valuable insight about an important spiritual allegory. Relative to such, the recent tragedy in the Gulf of Mexico brings to my mind the symbolism of the death brought by the flood of black oil, the oil of anointing the worldly lust after. What this oil anoints, dies. This black oil represents a counterfeit of the pure clear olive oil. There is in any counterfeit the covering of a genuine. By this I perceive that, as there is now an anointing for death pouring out in what will have global consequences, conversely, an outpouring of living Holy Spirit anointing to fill our lamps and vessels is arriving!

FOR PRAYERFUL CONSIDERATION : The Destruction of Pompeii—God's Revenge?

COMMENTARY: Pastoral Postscripts: Time to pay heed to Bible's prophecies

IN THE NEWS: Seeking God's Help for a Wounded Gulf

EXCERPT: Bishops express prayers, pastoral solidarity with all affected by spill

"We pray first and foremost for those who died in the initial explosion and for the grieving members of their families," they said.

"We express our prayerful support as well for the families and individuals whose lives and livelihoods have been so negatively impacted by the oil that daily contaminates water, beaches and God's creation in the Gulf Coast area," the bishops said in a statement written during their spring gathering in St. Petersburg, Fla.

"We offer our prayers for our government leaders and for the industry leaders and experts who are working to cap the leak and repair this damage," they said. "May God give them wisdom and strength in this trying hour, and may he move them to seek lasting solutions benefiting the common good of our society."

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 26- "On discernment of thoughts, passions, and virtues"

62. Some of the faithful, and even of the unfaithful, have been deserted by all the passions except one; and that one has been left as a paramount evil which fully takes the place of all the others, for it is so harmful, it can even cast down from Heaven.
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