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March 29, 2003



by Archbishop Charles Chaput, O.F.M. Cap.

Scripture tells us that if you want to know what you really treasure, just follow the trail to your heart. Where you commit your heart — that's where your treasure lies. I've seen it a hundred times: When a young man finds the woman he loves, he'll do anything to be around her. He'll change his speech, his wardrobe, his posture, his behavior, even the way he looks at the world, because he can't be happy without her.

And there's a lesson in that for all of us: What we love eventually shapes who we are, what we do and how we live. If it doesn't, the love isn't genuine. That applies to the love between men and women. It also applies to the love between human beings and God. If we say that we love God, then our actions — including our worship — will show it.

That's why Sunday Mass is never just an obligation, any more than the love expressed between spouses is an obligation. "Every good marriage," a friend once told me, "has passion, friendship, reverence, respect, sorrow and joy." The liturgy isn't so very different.

Liturgy Series 2:  Nature of priesthood marks Catholic faith
Liturgy Series 3:  Mass a conversation of love with God
Liturgy Series 4:  Deacons: Ministers of the Word, altar, charity
Liturgy Series 5:  Mass shared dialogue between priest, faithful
Liturgy Series 6:  Introductory Rites
Liturgy Series 7:  Liturgy of the Word
Liturgy Series 8:  Homilies: nourishment from table of word
Liturgy Series 9:  Presenting gifts allows each to make offering of self
Liturgy Series 10: The Eucharistic Prayer: Heart of the Mass
Liturgy Series 11: The 'Our Father': Appropriate Gestures for Prayer
Liturgy Series 12: Rite of Peace
Liturgy Series 13: Communion Rite
Liturgy Series 14: Communion Rite- Part 2
Liturgy Series 15: Ordinary, extraordinary ministers
Liturgy Series 16: Receiving Communion
Liturgy Series 17: Communion
Liturgy Series 18: Concluding Rite
Liturgy Series 19: Liturgy Series concludes

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 25- "On the destroyer of the pasions, most sublime humility"

18. It is one thing to exalt oneself, another not to exalt oneself, and another to humble oneself. One person may be judging others all the day long; another does not judge others, but he does not condemn himself; a third, although he is innocent, is always passing judgment on himself.

March 28, 2003


CATHOLIC RELIEF SERVICES- Iraq Humanitarian Response

Catholic Relief Services is providing food, medicine and support to the people of Iraq. The agency's Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa, Christine Tucker stated that today more than ever CRS is providing this aid with a "heavy heart".

"We have worked and prayed for a peaceful resolution to this crisis, and we regret painfully that war was not averted," said Tucker. "Our prayers are with all people both in Iraq and the United States who will be affected by the war. We will renew our efforts to assist the Iraqi people in addressing this crisis and in rebuilding," said Tucker. "Now, however, the focus is on saving lives."

CRS has provided substantial humanitarian assistance to the people of Iraq throughout the country since the end of the Gulf War, targeting undernourished children; pregnant and lactating mothers; and the elderly, handicapped and very needy. In 2002, the program reached more than 30,000 vulnerable persons throughout Iraq with food and medicine. CRS water initiatives have reached an additional 175,000 beneficiaries.

How Can You Help?

RELATED: Caritas-Iraq Is Fully Operational


Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 25- "On the destroyer of the pasions, most sublime humility"

16. All visible things get their light from the sun, and all that is done according to reason gets its force from humility. Where there is no light, everthing is dark; where there is no humility, all that we have is rotten.

March 27, 2003


POPE JOHN PAUL II: The Catholic Church, in her mission to all the peoples of the earth, is not identified with any race, nation, or culture. In the course of her history, she has always used the resources of many cultures to make known to humanity the Good News of Christ because she is fully conscious that the faith that she proclaims can never be reduced to one cultural element, but is the source of salvation for the whole human person and his activity. However, it is through the diversity and multiplicity of languages, cultures, traditions and mentalities, that the Church expresses her catholicity, unity, and faith. She does her best to respect every human culture, because in her missionary and pastoral activity she follows the rule that "whatever good is found sown in the minds and hearts of men or in the rites and customs of peoples, these not only are preserved from destruction, but are purified, raised up, and perfected for the glory of God, the confusion of the devil and the happiness of man" (Lumen gentium, n. 17).


One of the dilemas facing Catholics who desire to be obedient to the Pope's teachings in regards to Iraq is the question of patriotism.  If one supports the anti-war movement then one would appear to be turning away from the brave men and women risking their lives for our nation. Realize however that the safety of these endangered forces is a strong motivation for those advocating peace.  POWs, death and dismemberment are a product of a war that the Pope first tried to prevent and now is trying to end.

As Catholics we must also identify not only with Americans but with fellow brothers in the Faith.  The fate and protection of Iraqi Catholics and of Catholics throughout the Muslim world has been placed in jeopardy.  Is their plight any less important than that of Allied soldiers? Are they not our "neighbors" (Luke 10:29)?

Is the blood of Iraqi soldiers, the grief of Iraqi widows, the cries of Iraqi orphans of no relevance to American Catholics?

In this situation it seems impossible to know what to pray for.  Do we pray for the death of Saddam?  A quick military victory? A humiliating defeat or retreat?

The answer is simple- Catholic prayer. The uniqueness of Catholic prayer is that, when we pray a Rosary, a Hail Mary, an Our Father, a Prayer to St. Michael, or even recite a Psalm, we are offering those prayers to the Lord for His use as He desires. We need not provide the details. We need not dictate to God what He needs to do. We only provide the "living sacrifice" of prayer, fasting, pain or participation in Mass for the Lord to use as He sees fit.  We do so in union with the Saints in heaven and fellow Catholics throughout history who have offered similar prayers since the earliest days of the Church.

The Lord, for whom nothing is impossible, will provide the perfect solution to our seemingly hopeless dilema. If the Lord could find a Way to reconcile sinful mankind to a perfect God reconciling men with each other should provide no challenge at all.

MORE: Papal Address on Power of Prayer

IMPORTANT NOTE: The reference above to Catholic prayer is not at all meant to demean the prayers of non-Catholic brothers and sisters in Christ or our Jewish "elder brothers" in faith.  In this context "Catholic prayers" is referring to a prayer form rather than the denomination of the person praying.  "Catholic prayers" can be offered by those of all denominations.

(Psalm 100:1-5) Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the lands! Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! Know that the LORD is God! It is he that made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him, bless his name! For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures for ever, and his faithfulness to all generations.

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 25- "On the destroyer of the pasions, most sublime humility"

15. Repentance raises the fallen, mourning knocks at the gate of Heaven, and holy humility opens it; but I affirm this and I worship a Trinity in Unity, and a Unity in Trinity.

March 26, 2003


POPE JOHN PAUL II: "When war, like the one now in Iraq, threatens the fate of humanity, it is even more urgent for us to proclaim, with a firm and decisive voice, that only peace is the way of building a more just and caring society. Violence and weapons can never resolve the problems of man."


Rev. Gary Mercure told the congregation at four Masses Saturday and Sunday that the war in Iraq was evil, immoral and contradictory to Christian doctrine. According to those who attended any of the services, Mercure called for parishioners to not support President Bush, and said the U.S. should work closer with the rest of the world. As many as 60 congregants responded by leaving the church at one of the masses, several yelling comments in the priest's direction and heckling him on the way out.

While the war is a political matter, Fr. Mercure said it is a moral issue as well. He insists he was not using the pulpit as a platform for his own views, but as a servant of God. "They don't have to think the way I think," he said. "But as a preacher of God, it is my role to enhance life, to bring more life, and God's life, to people." He also dismissed the idea that he preached anti-American sentiments or judged the morality of the president. He said he used the phrase "our government" several times, but stopped short of making moral judgments on anyone. He said it was also his privilege as a patriot to speak out against the war, and his duty as a priest to do so.

EDITOR'S COMMENT: It has been quite appalling to see the horrible bickering between brothers and sisters in Christ with regards to the Iraqi conflict.  This has been particularly notable on Catholic internet discussion forums, where accusations of "peaceniks" and "warmongers" are exchanged with rarely seen brutality among "Christians".

I disagree both with those who do not accept the Pope's stance on the conflict and those who feel that we are in no way obliged to follow the Pope's lead.  Why?

Yet many Catholics carelessly brush away his powerful unflinching stand against the Iraqi conflict and his dire warnings about what may result. Already news reports are confirming his fears that a tragic "war of civilizations" may be beginning.

Now that war is underway, I urge all to join in prayer, fasting and almsgiving so that heaven may intervene and humanity be spared the horrors that may result from the course it has recklessly chosen.  If we do not, we will have all eternity to regret our lukewarmness.


Iraq War Fuels Flames of Muslim Rage
Pakistan Clerics Call for Holy War on U.S., Allies
God, holy war enlisted as Saddam rallies Iraqis
The Winter of Arab Discontent
US targeting Muslims
War in Iraq: The World Reacts

SEE ALSO: Pope Cites Peace Movements in War Message

TOMMORROW: Can Patriotism and Obedience Be Reconciled?

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 25- "On the destroyer of the pasions, most sublime humility"

11. A humble monk will not meddle with mysteries, but a proud one will pry into the ways of God.

March 25, 2003


(Heb 12:1-2)  Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.


Pope John Paul II beatified four founders of religious organizations and a Hungarian doctor on Sunday, adding to the ranks of those on the path to possible sainthood.

The pope said each of the five had lived "the mystery of redemption," adding that their holiness should serve as an inspiration for other Catholics. Beatification is the last formal step before possible sainthood and requires evidence of one miracle after the person's death.

"The holiness of the new beatified stimulates us to aim for evangelical perfection, putting in practice all the words of Jesus. It is certainly a demanding ascetic itinerary, but it is possible for all," the pope said Sunday.

John Paul has beatified more than 1,300 people and proclaimed more than 450 saints since he became pope in 1978.


Pope endorses saint’s aerial ecstacy
Sainthood is sought for slain Salvadoran archbishop
Priest who aided leper colony closer to sainthood

PRAY WITH THE SAINTS: The Litany of Saints

HEADLINE: With power of prayer, 'war could end tomorrow'


Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 25- "On the destroyer of the pasions, most sublime humility"

10. He who has been united with humility as his bride is above all gentle, kind, easily moved to compunction, sympathetic, calm, bright, compliant, inoffensive, vigilant, not indolent and free from passion; for the Lord remembered us in our humility, and redeemed us from our enemies (Ps 135: 23-24), and our passions and impurities.

March 22, 2003



Making a Good Confession
By Fr. William P. Saunders

(2Ch 7:13-14) When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 25- "On the destroyer of the pasions, most sublime humility"

9. In union with humility, it is impossible that there should be any appearance of hatred, or any kind of dispute, or even a sniff of disobedience, unless perhaps the Faith is called in question.

March 21, 2003


A Profound Change: The Goal of Lent
By Bishop Paul S. Loverde

The Spirit of Lent- Almsgiving

Giving alms, Jesus teaches, means making the needs of others our own, especially the needy of our world. They are all around us: children and the old, the sick and the suffering, families and individuals, next-door neighbors and people in lands faraway.

We easily forget them. Rather than just looking out for ourselves - what people say today - see those in need, Jesus says. Giving will make you live.

And what shall we give? Some time, some of our talent, material resources, perhaps. Almsgiving is not just for the rich. Poor or rich, we all have something to give.

Whatever we give, though, should be something of ourselves, something that costs us. Paradoxically, Jesus also teaches, when we give, we receive some blessing from God in return.

What shall we give to the needy this lent? In deciding, decide generously. After all, before us is the great alms Jesus gave: "He loved us, and gave himself up for us."


Christian Community in Bethlehem has the Olive Wood Carving as their major source of living. Since tourism is no longer available they are seeking now to sell their carving in the States, so to maintain their livelihood, and to keep and improve their status in that Holy area as a Minority in the population. These people chose their representatives out of their own members who live in the States to accomplish their mission.

The return of this program is directly benefiting the Christian Community members in Bethlehem area, in different fields: education, health care, and preserving the religious sites in the most religious spot in the world. Let us support and pray for peace.

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 25- "On the destroyer of the pasions, most sublime humility"

2. This subject sets before us as a touchstone, a treasure preserved in earthen vessels, that is to say in our bodies, and it is of a quality that baffles all description. This treasure has an inscription, which is incomprehensible because it comes from above, and those who try to explain it with words give themselves great and endless trouble. And the inscription runs thus: Holy Humility.

March 20, 2003


Vatican spokesman: “Whoever decides that all peaceful means available under international law are exhausted assumes a grave responsibility before God, his own conscience and history."



In Kuwait, Baptism Before the Gunfire
Military takes last peaceful moments to worship
Global Interfaith Movement Calls on World to Pray and Fast For Peace


Iraq's tiny Christian communities brace for heightened persecution
Iraqi Dominican Sisters Appeal to President Bush, American People
UN Secretary General warns of "disaster" for the Iraqi people


American churches split on war
Romanian Catholic bishop calls war 'mortal sin'
Relations Among U.S. Religions at a Low


Is President Bush too Christian–or not enough?
The bubble of American supremacy
President Bush's Messiah Complex

JOHN PAUL II: "As a man of peace, we pray to St. Joseph for those threatened by war and we invoke the precious gift of harmony upon the whole human family."

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 24- "On meekness, simplicity and guilelessness"

18. Honesty is unmeddling thought, sincere character, frank and unpremeditated speech.

March 19, 2003




Isidore of Isolanis, a pious Dominican of the 16th century, prophesied that "the sound of victory" will be heard in the Church Militant "when the faithful recognize the sanctity of St. Joseph." He continues: "The Lord will let His light shine, He will lift the veil, and great men will search out the interior gifts of God that are hidden in St. Joseph; they will find in him a priceless treasure, the like of which they had never found in other saints of the Old Testament. We are inclined to believe that toward the end of time God will ovewhelm St. Joseph with glorious honours. If in the past ages, during the storms of persecutions these honours could not be shown to St. Joseph, we must conclude that they have been reserved for later times. At some future time the feast of St. Joseph will be celebrated as of the greatest of feasts. The Vicar of Christ, inspired by Holy Spirit, will order this feast to be celebrated in the Universal Chutch."

VIA Dan Lynch:

Pope Paul VI said, “St. Joseph is the model of those humble ones that Christianity raises up to great destinies; he is the proof that in order to be a good and genuine follower of Christ, there is no need of great things – it is enough to have the common, simple and human virtues, but they need to be true and authentic.

Pope Pius IX declared St. Joseph to be the “Patron of the Catholic Church”. We place our confidence in his protection because he will protect the Church family just as he protected the Holy Family.

Pope John Paul II prayed, “May St. Joseph become for all of us an exceptional teacher in the service of Christ’s saving mission, a mission which is the responsibility of each and every member of the Church: husbands and wives, parents, those who live by the work of their hands or by any other kind of work, those called to the contemplative life and those called to the apostolate . . . .”

St. Joseph’s Oratory is located on Mount Royal in Montreal, Quebec. It has the second largest dome in the world, after St. Peter’s in Rome. The Oratory was built through the faith and signs and wonders performed by Blessed Andre Bessette in the early part of this century.

In the year 1916 alone, 435 people were healed. Brother Andre attributed all of these to the help of St. Joseph. He died at the age of 91 in 1937. Over a million faithful filed past his casket day and night for seven days. Pope John Paul II beatified him on May 23, 1982.

St Joseph and Blessed Andre, pray for us!

OF INTEREST: From oven to altar- recipe for St. Joseph's bread

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 24- "On meekness, simplicity and guilelessness"

17. Guilelessness is a joyous state of soul far removed from all ulterior motive.

March 18, 2003

(Phi 4:6-7)  Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.


Desert Storm begins-  January 16, 1991

Pope John Paul II: Prayer for Peace
Wednesday Audience January 16, 1991

God of our Fathers, great and merciful God, Lord of peace and life, Father of all.

You have plans of peace and not of affliction.
You condemn wars and defeat the pride of the violent.

You sent your Son Jesus to preach peace to those who are near and far away, to gather people of every race and nation into a single family.

Hear the single-hearted cry of your children, the anguished plea of all humanity: no more war, an adventure without return, no more war, a spiral of death and violence, a threat against all your creatures in heaven, on the earth and in the sea.

In communion with Mary, the Mother of Jesus, once again we implore you: speak to the hearts of those responsible for the fate of peoples; stop the "logic" of revenge and retaliation; with your Spirit suggest new solutions, generous and honourable gestures, room for dialogue and patient waiting, which are more fruitful than the hurried deadlines of war.

Give our era days of peace.
War no more.

POPE JOHN PAUL II: "I belong to that generation that lived through World War II and, thanks be to God, survived it. I have the duty to say to all young people, to those who are younger than me, who have not had this experience: "No more war!" as Paul VI said during his first visit to the United Nations. We must do everything possible! We know well that peace is not possible at any cost. But we all know how great this responsibility is --therefore, prayer and penance!"

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 24- "On meekness, simplicity and guilelessness"

16. Hypocrisy is a contrary state of body and soul interwoven with every kind of subterfuge.

March 14, 2003




Religious Groups Go Online for Peace
'We Must Oppose This War' An urgent appeal to the churches
Vatican deplores pressure for UN votes
Vatican Becomes Anti-War Rallying Point
Pope Seeks to Avoid Clash of Civilizations

Thomas Cahill: "The worst feature of contemporary society is its tendency to leave each of us locked up in himself or herself, connection-less. To lessen this isolation we have developed all kinds of therapies, spiritual, psychological, and physical—from groups that meet and talk endlessly to day spas, week spas, month spas, life spas. But none of these things, from primal scream to herbal wrap, seem to be doing the trick, any more than the huge houses and wine parties of the Samaritans did the trick for them. What we need to do is open our heart to the plight of others, as if our heart were a dam, so that indeed our justice and compassion may flow. What is essential is that each of us steps forward to join the ranks of those who hope, that we hold out our hand—to someone. There is no other way to walk with God."

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 24- "On meekness, simplicity and guilelessness"

15. Guile is a science, or rather, a diabolical deformity, bereft of truth and thinking it can escape the notice of the many.

March 13, 2003


(Phi 1:6)  And I am sure that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.


Imagine for a moment that you are an Allied World War II veteran who survived the conflict, albeit with much suffering, and 60 years later you are given the opportunity to travel back in time to the exact moment of your most difficult instant during the war.  You are given, however, full knowledge not only of the outcome of that particular battle but of everything that transpired in your life until the moment you traveled back in time.

How would it be different the second time around?  You would be completely confident of your survival both in the immediate battle and through the end of the war. You would know unconditionally that your side would win.  There would be no doubt, no fear, absolute faith.

But what about the suffering?  Would you still cry when your partner in arms fell beside you?  Would the screams of a suffering soldier pierce your soul any less?  Would the pangs of loneliness still bring an occasional tear to your eye?  Would there be any shame in acknowledging any of these feelings?

In our daily spiritual struggles we can benefit greatly by remembering that we have already won the war. It has been written.  Scripture is clear that, despite our struggles, as violent as they may seem, we will eventually be victorious over evil.  We may cry. We may feel lonely. We may suffer.  But we can do each of these secure in the knowledge that our side will win.  That the Lord who has adopted us as brother and sisters has Himself fought the same battles that we are fighting today.  And that it is through His strength that we will be "more than conquerors".

In the words of Pope John Paul II:

"Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one; I died, and behold I am alive for evermore" (Rev 1:17-18).

These comforting words invite us to turn our gaze to Christ, to experience His reassuring presence. To each person, whatever his condition, even if it were the most complicated and dramatic, the Risen One repeats: "Fear not!; I died on the Cross but now I am alive for evermore"; "I am the first and the last, and the living one."

"The first," that is, the source of every being and the first-fruits of the new creation; "the last," the definitive end of history; "the living one," the inexhaustible source of life that triumphed over death forever.

(Rev 21:6-7)  And he said to me, "It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the fountain of the water of life without payment. He who conquers shall have this heritage, and I will be his God and he shall be my son.

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 24- "On meekness, simplicity and guilelessness"

14. Simplicity is a constant habit of soul that has become immune to crafty thinking.

March 12, 2003


POPE JOHN PAUL II: "The powerful forces of the media and entertainment industry are aimed at young people who find themselves the target of competing ideologies."


A Catholic World Report survey has found that an increasing number of Catholic students, whether in Catholic colleges or nonsectarian ones, are beginning college with very conservative views but finishing up with more liberal ones.

As freshmen, 37.9 percent of students attending Catholic colleges and around 49.5 percent of Catholic students at nonsectarian schools said abortion should be legal. By the time these students were seniors, 51.7 percent at the Catholic colleges and 65.5 percent at nonsectarian colleges believed abortion should be legal.

The statistics were similar regarding pre-marital sex. There was a drastic increase in the percentage of students over the four years who found sex before marriage acceptable, regardless of which institution they attended.

SEE ALSO: Scotland no longer Christian, says Pope

VIA Jim McCrea:

In this article by Peter Chojnowski, he explains why abortion has gone from being disallowed in our society to being allowed. He explains that in the past, when society was informed by a Christian world-view, the other person tended to be viewed as having intrinsic rights and dignity because they were made in the image of God. With this, a reverence was seen as due to the human person. Today, however, that has changed. With today's secular humanist view that sees man as nothing but animals seeking self satisfaction, the "other" is looked at as merely something that can procure personal profit and satisfaction. This view is reflected in most of today's entertainment and news magazine opinions on the "good life." (as well as being reflected in modern academia in psychology, anthropology, and sociology studies) With these views, things and people are not looked upon with reverence, bearing the stamp of the goodness, truth, and beauty of God, but in how they will satisfy personal ego and sensuality. How this relates to abortion, is that rather than the unborn having human value that must be respected regardless, they are either retained or destroyed on the basis of how they will procure the self's satisfaction. This shift in view explains all the other aspects of the breakdown of traditional morality in our society, in the name of "freedom" and "enlightenment."

RELATED:  Foetuses 'may be conscious long before abortion limit'

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 24- "On meekness, simplicity and guilelessness"

13. An angry man and a sarcastic man met one another, and it was impossible to find a true word in their conversation. Unveiling the heart of the former, you will find frenzy; looking into the soul of the other, you see knavery.

March 11, 2003



Even as it toughened its stance against a proposed resolution that would set a deadline for Iraq to disarm, Russia charged Saturday that unilateral U.S. military action would violate the U.N. Charter.

"We believe that it is not necessary at present to adopt any new resolutions," Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said Saturday. "If the United States unilaterally begins military action in relation to Iraq, it would violate the U.N. Charter, and, of course, when the U.N. Charter is violated, the Security Council must gather, discuss the situation and make the corresponding decisions."

The resistance to the Bush administration's Iraq policy is hardening in part because the key issue is becoming one of how to restrain the United States in its exercise of global power, Russian analysts said.

Alexander Konovalov, president of the Institute for Strategic Assessment, a Moscow think tank, stressed that Saddam "is a bandit, no doubt," but "by far not the biggest and not the most important."

"In this world of bandits, there are still no police, no courts and no law," he continued. "There is only one sheriff -- the U.S.A. -- and even this sheriff has been self-proclaimed and not elected. It is a good thing that at least someone wants to be the sheriff. But it is also clear as daylight, if this sheriff is not controlled, if he is allowed to run amok and rule arbitrarily, he will quickly end up becoming another bandit -- only bigger and stronger than all previous ones."

RELATED: Annan Warns Against Iraq War Without U.N.

CATHOLIC COMMENTARY: Gods and President Bush


Iran’s nuclear program speeds ahead
Iran's Nuclear Threat
Pyongyang: We'll put a torch to New York
N. Korea unlikely to bend to U.S. will
N.Korea Tests Missile; South Tallies Crisis Cost
North Korea: U.S. Plans Nuclear Attack

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 24- "On meekness, simplicity and guilelessness"

12. The souls of the meek are filled with knowledge, but an angry mind is a denizen of darkness and ignorance.

March 8, 2003



Excerpt from The Word From Rome by John L. Allen Jr.

In his conversation with Bush, Laghi accented the role of the United Nations, a constant theme of Vatican diplomacy. The Vatican sees the U.N. as the last, best hope for a meaningful international political organism capable of representing the common good within the economic order being constructed by globalization. Laghi also stressed that Iraq must comply with U.N. disarmament plans, the Vatican’s way of underlining that while it is anti-war, it is not pro-Saddam Hussein.

After his session with Bush, Laghi defined the meeting as “very friendly” but also “very frank,” diplomatic code language for a meeting in which no one changed position.

The Vatican is under no illusion that Laghi’s appeal, in itself, is likely to stay Bush’s hand. Privately, sources in the Secretariat of State say that while one can always hope for a miracle, war is likely a foregone conclusion. The Vatican’s diplomatic service, the oldest in the world, is anything but naïve, and it is not in the habit of throwing good diplomatic capital after bad. What, then, are they after?

Laghi, the 80-year-old former papal ambassador to the United States, was speaking, indirectly but unmistakably, to Cairo and Tehran, Khartoum and Peshwar, and Jakarta and Abouja. His presence in Washington spoke a message to the Islamic street: This is not our war.

Making that point is seen by Vatican diplomats as especially urgent in light of fears over the fate of Christian minorities in Islamic nations. In several such places, Christians are facing increasing strain.

In the eastern islands of Indonesia, for example, white-uniformed militiamen of Laskar Jihad are forcibly converting Christians to Islam. This campaign has cost the lives of 5,000 to 6,000 people. In Bangladesh, small radical groups supporting Osama bin Laden have bombed or burned down churches. In Sudan, some estimate that as many as 2 million people, chiefly Christians, have been killed in a civil war fought by the radical Islamic regime in the north of the country against the non-Arab population in the south.

Since the first intifadah in the 1980s, there has been a steady exodus of Arab Christians out of the Middle East, fleeing conflict, economic collapse, and a rising tide of Islamic fundamentalism. Today more Christians born in Jerusalem live in Sydney, Australia, than in Jerusalem. More Christians from Beth Jallah reside in Belize in Central America than are left in Beth Jallah. In Iraq, some 200,000 Christians have left since the first Gulf War. At the start of 1991, the Catholic population of Baghdad was more than 500,000. Today, Catholics number about 175,000. “It’s like a biblical exodus,” one Vatican official said in mid-February. This is the context in which last week the Vatican ended almost a month of speculation by formally asking the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See to arrange a meeting between Laghi and Bush. Rome had been filled with speculation about such a mission, especially after John Paul II dispatched French Cardinal Roger Etchegaray to Saddam Hussein in mid-February.


10,000 Muslims In India Protest Possible War
Iraqi Christians' Path of Persecution
Peace activist implores Pope to be 'ultimate human shield'
Bush's New Iraq Warning Spreads Gloom

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 24- "On meekness, simplicity and guilelessness"

11. An upright soul is a fellow lodger with humility, but an evil one is a daughter of pride.

March 7, 2003



The pope has written a new book of poetry, a three-part meditation on nature, life and death – including his own – that makes clear he has no plans to step down.

Roman Triptych is the first book of poetry John Paul has penned since becoming pope in 1978, and Vatican officials called it a “spiritual pilgrimage” the pope wrote after a trip to his beloved Poland last summer.

Writing after his return, the pope makes clear he intends to carry on with his mission until he dies and that his successor will only be chosen “after my death.”

“The pope wrote it as someone knowing that he is at the end of his time - somebody already seeing God and talking about that to others,” said longtime friend Marek Skwarnicki.

MORE: Excerpts of Pope John Paul II's Poetry Book
SEE ALSO: In Times of Difficulty Say, "Jesus, I Trust in You," Pope Counsels

VIA Nadine,


Trust Him Trust Him when dark doubts fill you up.
Trust Him when your strength is small,
Trust Him when to simply trust Him
Seems the hardest thing of all

Trust Him, He is ever faithful;
Trust Him for his will is best;
Trust Him, for in the Lord's heart.
Is the only place of rest.

Trust Him, then, through doubts and sunshine
Till the storm of life is over.

Because with God, You can never go wrong.

VIA Sadie Jaramillo: I have suffered for the second time a complete computer crash, thus I have lost all my files and more importantly email addresses.

Since you have your site and list, please let your "readers" know that if they would like to be placed on the mailing list for future postings, messages etc., please have them send me an email or throught the website at

I apologize for the inconvenience, but computers and I don't seem to get along.....especially for the use of spiritual matters....but then we are ALL being tested, aren't we?

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 24- "On meekness, simplicity and guilelessness"

10. A gentle soul retains words of wisdom, for the Lord will guide the meek in judgment (Ps. 24:9), or rather, in discretion.

March 5, 2003




THIS is the day when Catholics begin their annual Lenten observance. The forty days of Lent comprise the Church’s spiritual preparation for the celebration of the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Lent summons the faithful to religious renewal by such practices as fasting, prayer, and generous service to others. In today’s simple rite involving the use of blessed ashes, the priests and other ministers smear the foreheads of the faithful with ashes. The ashes are an ancient symbol of repentance and warning that death and divine judgment represent the future that awaits every mortal.

In his Lenten message, Pope John Paul II stresses the importance of genuine conversion. The Pope reminds all the faithful that only spiritual renewal leads to both personal and social transformation. The firm decision to change is but the first step along the path to living graced, virtuous lives. The Pope calls for prayer and spiritual renewal, noting that it should bear fruit in loving service to one's neighbor. Sometimes people forget the great gift of God's love shown in Jesus who became man so that all who believe might share in the eternal love of God.

Why does the Church give reminders? Who needs this time of Lent? Perhaps the answer lies in Christian realism. Even the staunchest of believers become so preoccupied with their routine duties - earning a living, supporting the family, fulfilling social obligations - that they tend to lose their sense of God and to forget their neighbors in need. Each day persons in need enter our awareness. Perhaps it is a destitute beggar today; tomorrow it could be someone sick or someone who recently suffered the loss of a loved one. Our children need encouragement, affirmation, and loving attention. The list is endless, but the point is that Lent reminds us that only a deep sense of God's gracious love can provide the solid foundation for deeper encounters with those in need.

Ashes are an ancient JudeoChristian symbol of repentance. May today's ashes lead Christians to changed hearts, renewed faith, and loving service to others.

RELATED: Lent: A period of reflection to look at relationship with God

Cloistered Non, Sister Pamela Fletcher: "We strip life down to the essentials in order to focus on getting in touch with God. The point is not to deny yourself for the sake of denying yourself."

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 24- "On meekness, simplicity and guilelessness"

9. A meek soul is a throne of simplicity, but an angry mind is a creator of evil.

March 4, 2003


John Paul II made a renewed appeal for prayer and fasting for peace in the world, especially in the Holy Land and Iraq.

He reiterated an announcement he made a week earlier, designating Ash Wednesday as a day of prayer and fasting to avert war and violence.

"This year we will undertake the penitential journey toward Easter with a greater commitment to prayer and fasting for peace, challenged by the growing threat of war," the Pope said today.

"Peace, in fact, is a gift of God to be invoked with humble and insistent trust," he stressed.

"Without surrendering before difficulties, it is also necessary to seek and go down every possible avenue to avoid war, which always brings mourning and grave consequences for all," he said.

This Wednesday's day of prayer and fasting will be an occasion to pray for "peace in the world, in particular for Iraq and the Holy Land, especially through the recitation of the rosary," the Holy Father emphasized.

The Marian prayer "will involve shrines and parishes, communities and families. This collective prayer will rise from every part of the earth through the intercession of Mary, Mother of Mercy and Queen of Peace," the Pope added.

While delivering his message, the Holy Father explained that Lent is a time oriented to conversion of heart, "during which the faithful are invited to look with greater intensity at Christ, who prepares himself to fulfill the supreme sacrifice of the cross."

John Paul II emphasized the importance of fasting, including interior fasting, a penitential practice with which "the Christian prepares himself to follow Christ," which "helps to understand better the difficulties and sufferings of so many of our brothers oppressed by hunger, poverty and war," and moves one to acts of solidarity.


Pope's peace envoys leaves for Bush meeting
Pope Says All Avenues to Peace Must Be Explored
Church leaders mobilize for peace
American Catholics Are Told to Pray for Peace

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 24- "On meekness, simplicity and guilelessness"

8. The meek shall inherit the earth (Matt 5:5), or rather shall exercise dominion over it, but bad-tempered men will be harried out of their land.

March 1, 2003


(Mat 1:18-19)  Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child of the Holy Spirit; and her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly.

LINK FOR TODAY: The First Saturday Devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary


A meditation for the month of March taken from the book -

The Life of St. Joseph by Maria Cecilia Baij, O.S.B.,
Abbess of the Benedictine Convent of St. Peter in Montefiascone, Italy, from 1743 - 1766.

This biography of the Saint was manifested to Maria Baij by inner locutions. However this book may also be approached purely as a useful meditation on the life of St. Joseph. Imprimatur and Nihil Obstat have been obtained for the Italian, German, and English editions.

The book can be obtained from the 101 Foundation. It is also available at Joseph House by the Sea.

Following is an excerpt from the 24th Chapter of the book:


Joseph was happy and content with Mary's companionship. One day he took notice of what were obvious indications that She must be with child. He was deeply shaken and disturbed by this, and smitten with a violent pain. He wanted to persuade himself that these indications were due to some illness. When he saw that She displayed the same freshness and the same dispositions as always, he said to himself: "If She were ill, there would be other signs; She appears to be completely well." He continued: "Oh my God, what is this that I observe concerning my spouse? Am I dreaming, or am I awake? Perhaps my eyes deceive me. If so, what is it that I see? I dare not question Her; I dare not speak to Her about it, because She is so holy. Nevertheless, it is apparent in what condition She finds herself to be. Help me, oh my God! Help Your servant! Enlighten me, so that I may understand, for I am unable to draw any different conclusions from what I see so clearly with my own eyes!"


NEW WEBSITE: Blue Army Utah- Official Website of Salt Lake City Division of the World Apostolate of Fatima

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 24- "On meekness, simplicity and guilelessness"

7. In the heart of the meek the Lord finds rest, but a turbulent soul is a seat of the devil.

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