Keep your eyes open!...


May 31, 2011 

(Mat 5:32) But I say to you, that whosoever shall put away his wife, excepting the cause of fornication, maketh her to commit adultery: and he that shall marry her that is put away, committeth adultery.

IN THE NEWS:  Malta: collapse of Catholic marriage law's last stand

In a defeat for both the Catholic Church and the government, just over half of the voters of the Mediterranean island of Malta (pop. 412,000) voted Saturday to allow divorce. Malta is the last European country -- and one of the few left in the world -- where divorce is illegal.

The Prime Minister, Lawrence Gonzi, had campaigned for a No vote. "The referendum outcome is not the one I wished for," he said, "but the will of the majority will be respected and parliament will enact legislation for the introduction of divorce,"

The divorce law will be far stricter than the "no-fault" divorce which prevails in the rest of Europe. The Referendum question asked whether divorce should be available to "a married couple who has been separated or has been living apart for at least four years", where there is "no reasonable hope for reconciliation between the spouses", and once "adequate maintenance is guaranteed and the welfare of the children is safeguarded."

But in this predominantly Catholic island, where 95 per cent of the population is baptized and more than 70 per cent go to church each Sunday, the result -- 54 per cent voting YES, on a 72 per cent turnout -- marks a substantial shift in relations between Church and state. Because almost all marriages are solemnized in church, in the absence of a civil divorce law annulment has been the only option available to couples.

: Philippines: Congress to start work on divorce bill

So far, only the Vatican City and the Philippines are left in the list of states that disallow or prohibit divorce. A third one, Malta, removed itself from the list after citizens voted for divorce in a referendum.

The House Speaker's public statement of support for the divorce bill should result in speedy proceedings and serve as a signal to the Members of Congress he leads. 

REVIEW: Church Fathers on Divorce and the Indissolubility of Marriage

FR. JOHN A. HARDON, S.J.: The Unity and Indissolubility of Marriage

: "Indissolubility of Marriage "

"What God hath joined together, let no man put asunder" (Matthew 19). When the sacrament of matrimony has been received by a man and a woman and ratified by their cohabitation as husband and wife, their union cannot be dissolved except by death. Protestants often quote those other words of Christ in the same chapter, "Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery"; but it is plain that this permits not a divorce but a separation. It is not a dissolution of the marriage bond, but a putting away of the guilty party; for elsewhere our Lord declares that "He that marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery" (Luke 16). Saint Paul commands that the wife shall not depart from her husband, "and if she depart, that she remain unmarried, or be reconciled with her husband" (1 Corinthians 7). Here there is a distinction between the mere contract of marriage and the sacrament of matrimony. The Church, for grave reasons, can dissolve the contract of marriage when the sacrament has not been received, as explained in the article on the Pauline Privilege, but when the sacrament has been received and has been ratified by marital cohabitation, marriage cannot be and never has been dissolved. Because the Catholic Church enforced this law, schism and subsequent heresy invaded one of her choicest realms when a pope refused to grant a divorce to a licentious English king.

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 28- "On holy and blessed prayer"

27. We who are passionate must constantly pray to the Lord. For all the dispassionate have progressed from passion to dispassion.

May 27, 2011


(1Pe 2:9) But you are a chosen generation, a kingly priesthood, a holy nation, a purchased people: that you may declare his virtues, who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light

TIMELY REMINDER: Human Life International e-Column: Memorial Day

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 28- "On holy and blessed prayer"

26. Faith gives wings to prayer, and without it we cannot fly up to Heaven.

May 25, 2011

(Luk 13:1-5) And there were present, at that very time, some that told him of the Galileans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answering, said to them: Think you that these Galileans were sinners above all the men of Galilee, because they suffered such things? No, I say to you: but unless you shall do penance, you shall all likewise perish. Or those eighteen upon whom the tower fell in Siloe and slew them: think you that they also were debtors above all the men that dwelt in Jerusalem? No, I say to you: but except you do penance, you shall all likewise perish.

HEADLINE: Joplin churches suffer heavy storm damage, several destroyed

Churches in Joplin are reaching out to storm victims, but some churches were victims, too.

St. Mary’s Catholic Church, with little more than a frame topped by a large cross still standing, and its attached elementary school were destroyed by the tornado.

The Rev. Justin D. Monaghan serves as priest for the parish, which serves nearly 650 families. Monaghan sought safety in a bathtub when the tornado hit. The residence was severely damaged, according to a spokeswoman from the Catholic diocese, but parishioners can and helped dig their priest out. Monaghan was not injured and spent the night with a church family, Recy Moore reported.

St. Peter’s in Jopin and the high school there were not hit by the storm. The school was used as an overflow triage center last night. The Rev. J. Freidel, pastor of the church, left these words on his Facebook page:

“Just got back from closing down the Catholic High School which was opened as an overflow triage center. Our area of town was untouched, though the neighboring parish (20 blocks away) has probably lost their entire physical plant...I know you've all seen the footage of St. John's, our Catholic Hospital, which is probably also a total loss! Please keep our community in your prayers...there has been and will be much suffering. Such destruction and violence.... Thanks, everyone, for your calls, texts, and messages of support. Going to sleep now, so we can be at it again in the morning.”

The Rev. James V. Johnston Jr., bishop of the Springfield-Cape Girardeau Diocese, posted a message on the diocesan website, “Please keep the people of Joplin in our prayers, especially those whose lives were taken as well as those who lost loved ones. We pray especially for the people of St. Mary’s Catholic Church and school who suffered a total loss as well as St. John’s Mercy hospital which sustained major damage.”

RELATED: In Joplin MO, survivors called on God to deliver them from the twister

NEWSWIRE: Catholic Charities Preparing to Assist Joplin Tornado Victims

Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA) and Catholic Charities of Southern Missouri stand ready to assist with relief efforts and serve the growing human need in the aftermath of the tornado that has devastated Joplin, Mo.

"This has been an absolutely brutal Spring Storm season in the U.S. and now our hearts are saddened once again and our resources tested by this disaster in Joplin," said Kathleen King, SVP of External Relations for CCUSA. "From the earlier tornadoes in Alabama, to the recent flooding, to this downtown devastation in Missouri--the human need is huge and donations are essential."

Over the past month, CCUSA has been coordinating with Catholic Charities agencies to provide food, clothing and shelter for victims of the Alabama tornadoes, and most recently, for the flood-impacted areas of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee. The severity of the situations has created a huge need for financial donations to support the assistance efforts. Now, the disaster that has cut through the heart of Joplin further increases the need.

Catholic Charities not only joins forces with all other disaster first responders to deliver immediate relief, but also stays the course over a long period of time - often a year or more - to provide case management services for all individuals and families that need extended help to put their lives back together and find employment.

To contribute help and support to those in need in these areas and others, please visit the Catholic Charities USA disaster donation Web page.

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 28- "On holy and blessed prayer"

25. Rise from love of the world and love of pleasure, lay aside cares, strip your mind, renounce your body; because prayer is nothing other than estrangement from the world, visible and invisible. For what have I in heaven? Nothing. And what have I desired on earth beside Thee? Nothing, but to cling continually to Thee in prayer without distraction. To some, wealth is pleasant; to others, glory; to others, possessions; but my wish is to cling to God, and to put the hope (Cf. Ps 72, 26-28) of my dispassion in Him.

May 20, 2011


(Mat 24:26-27) If therefore they shall say to you, Behold he is in the desert: go ye not out. Behold he is in the closets: believe it not. For as lightning cometh out of the east and appeareth even into the west: so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.


RON SMITH REPORT: Eschatology Teachings of the Church and Bible

HEADLINE: Doomsday predictions for Saturday met with hope, prayer, skepticism

Billboards across the United States, including one near the Fargo intersection of 25th Street and Main Avenue, are trumpeting a claim that Judgment Day will arrive Saturday.

The message was reinforced by a decal-laden caravan of RVs that rolled through the Fargo-Moorhead area last weekend and then headed out to spread the word to other cities.

Humankind has received similar warnings before, though so far every breathless claim has evaporated like morning mist when the day that shouldn't dawn actually does.

What's behind such passionate pronouncements?

A fervent belief that good will triumph over evil, according to John Helgeland, a professor of religion and history at North Dakota State University.

"It is a brand of apocalyptic religious thinking that involves the promise of the end of the world and the coming of God to put an end to evil and evildoers," Helgeland said.

End-of-days prognostications are as old as the Book of Revelation, Helgeland said, adding that many people thought the world's number was up when the calendar turned from 999 to 1000.

The same thing happened a thousand years later.

"Y2K was probably the last really big one," Helgeland said, though he added that many other examples can be found throughout history.

In the 1840s, he said, a group that gave rise to the Seventh-day Adventists decided it had figured out when the final grain of sand would sift through the hourglass.

On the day they believed God would return and bring an end to everything, church members stood on a hill in white robes, waiting for sunrise.

"I suppose you could guess: It didn't happen," Helgeland said.

CNA: Catholic scholar dismantles May 21 Judgment Day claims

COMMENTARY: It is impossible to predict doomsday — CBCP

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 28- "On holy and blessed prayer"

24. For everyone, and especially for those who have come to the King in order to receive remission of their debt, unutterable contrition is necessary. As long as we are still in prison, let us listen to Him who speaks to Peter (Vid. Acts 12:8): Put on the garment of obedience, cast off your own wishes and, stripped of them, approach the Lord in your prayer, invoking His will alone. Then you will receive God, Who guides the helm of your soul and pilots you safely.

May 19, 2011

(Mat 18:4-7) Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, he is the greater in the kingdom of heaven. And he that shall receive one such little child in my name, receiveth me. But he that shall scandalize one of these little ones that believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone should be hanged about his neck, and that he should be drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world because of scandals. For it must needs be that scandals come: but nevertheless woe to that man by whom the scandal cometh.

COMMENTARY: Sexual abuse in the Church written by Michael D. O'Brien (author and abuse victim)

: Vatican tells bishops to root out sex abuse

The Vatican told bishops around the world on Monday that they must make it a global priority to root out sexual abuse of children by priests.

The headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church told bishops in a letter that they should cooperate with civil authorities to end the abuse that has tarnished its image around the world.

“This is telling the world that we mean business.  We want to be an example of prevention and care,” said one Vatican official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The letter is intended to help every diocese draw up its own tough guidelines, based on a global approach but in line with local criminal law.  These must be sent to the Vatican for review within a year.

“The responsibility for dealing with delicts (crimes) of sexual abuse of minors by clerics belongs in the first place to the diocesan bishop,” the letter says.

It incorporates sweeping revisions made last year to the Church’s laws on sexual abuse, which doubled a statute of limitations for disciplinary action against priests and extended the use of fast-track procedures to defrock them.

The Vatican has for years been struggling to control the damage that sexual abuse scandals in the United States and several European countries, including Pope Benedict’s native Germany, have done to the Church’s image.
BREAKING: Latest Priest Sex Abuse Case Hits Archdiocese Of Powerful Cardinal, Close Advisor To Pope Benedict XVI

REPORT: Study blames culture of era for church's abuse crisis

MORE: Memphis Diocese responds to priest abuse study

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 28- "On holy and blessed prayer"

23. If we are not alone at the time of prayer, then let us imprint within ourselves the character of one who prays.  But if the ministers of praise are not with us, we may make even our outward attitude conform to a state of prayer.  For in the case of the imperfect, the mind often conforms to the body.

May 18, 2011

(1Co 11:23-26) For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus, the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread, And giving thanks, broke and said: Take ye and eat: This is my body, which shall be delivered for you. This do for the commemoration of me. In like manner also the chalice, after he had supped, saying: This chalice is the new testament in my blood. This do ye, as often as you shall drink, for the commemoration of me. For as often as you shall eat this bread and drink the chalice, you shall shew the death of the Lord, until he come.

REPORT/VIDEO: Solemn Pontifical Mass at the Altar of the Chair, St. Peter's Basilica, Rome

CATHOLIC ONLINE: Expansion of 'Extraordinary Form' Mass Encouraged by New Instruction from Vatican

CATHOLIC HERALD: Pope's 'reform of the reform' in liturgy to continue

CNA: New guidelines for Tridentine Mass – 10 key facts

Local dioceses should give a “generous welcome” to any laity who wish to attend Mass in the “extraordinary form” and to priests who wish to say it. That’s the key message of new Vatican guidelines regarding the extraordinary form of the Mass – often popularly referred to as the “Tridentine Mass” or “old Latin Mass.” The “extraordinary form” is the rite of Mass contained within the Roman Missal which was universally used from 1570 to 1962. It was almost always celebrated in Latin.

The “ordinary form”, on the other hand, is the newer rite of the Mass approved for use by Pope Paul VI in 1969. This Mass is most often said in parishes around the world.

Today’s guidelines were issued to clarify various questions from around the world about the Pope Benedict's 2007 document “Summorum Pontificum.” In it Pope Benedict said that any priest wishing to say the older form of the Mass was no longer required to seek the permission of his bishop.

Questions arose, however, as to how aspects of the document should be interpreted. Hence the May 13 clarification produced by the Vatican body responsible for such matters, the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei. They state:

1. The two forms of the Roman rite are not in competition with each other but, instead, are complementary, “one alongside the other.”

2. The older rite of the Mass is a “precious treasure to be preserved” with “appropriate honor.”

3. Bishops and priests should give a “generous welcome” motivated by “pastoral zeal” to any groups of Catholics who ask for the older rite to be offered.

4. Such groups can be of any size and can also be from one parish, various parishes or even different dioceses.

5. Those preparing for the priesthood should be given training in the “extraordinary form” in seminary.

6. If a diocese doesn’t have the necessary expertise to undertake such training they should ask the Ecclesia Dei commission for assistance.

7. Every priest who is not impeded by Canon Law is to be considered “qualified” for the celebration of the “extraordinary form.”

8. A priest need only have a “basic knowledge” of Latin so as to be able to “pronounce the words correctly and understand their meaning.”

9. The court of appeal over the interpretation of “Summorum Pontificum” is the Ecclesia Dei commission in Rome.

10. “Summorum Pontificum” wishes to heal the rift between the Catholic Church and those who have left the Church over the liturgical reforms which followed the Second Vatican Council.

Finally, the authority of today’s document is underlined by the fact that it was personally endorsed by Pope Benedict XVI last month. Indeed in today’s document “Summorum Pontificum” is described as an “important expression of the Magisterium of the Roman Pontiff.

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 28- "On holy and blessed prayer"

22. Soiled prayer is one thing, its disappearance is another, robbery another, and blemish another.  Prayer is soiled when we stand before God and picture to ourselves irrevelant and inopportune thoughts.  Prayer is lost when we are captured by useless cares.  Prayer is stolen from us when our thoughts wander before we realize it.  Prayer is blemished by any kind of attack or interruption that comes to us at the time of prayer.

May 17, 2011

(Rev 12:10-13) And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying: Now is come salvation and strength and the kingdom of our God and the power of his Christ: because the accuser of our brethren is cast forth, who accused them before our God day and night. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of the testimony: and they loved not their lives unto death. 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.


RON SMITH REPORT: Eschatology Teachings of the Church and Bible

HEADLINE: Pope calls for end of violence in Libya, Syria

Pope Benedict called for dialogue to prevail over violence in both Libya and Syria on Sunday, denouncing bloodshed and the killing of civilians.

"I am following with grave concern the dramatic conflict in Libya that has caused a high number of victims and suffering, mostly among the civilian population," the Pope said in an address after the Regina Caeli prayer.

"I am renewing a pressing appeal for negotiations and dialogue to prevail over violence," he said.

He also urged Syrian authorities to do everything possible for the common good and pay heed to the "legitimate aspirations for a future of peace and stability" in the country.

Hundreds of people have been killed in both countries as the authorities have used troops to crack down on anti-government protests inspired by popular uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt that ousted authoritarian leaders.  Libya is now effectively in a state of civil war.

ANALYSIS: Syrian Christians Say 'Arab Spring' Changes Could Hasten Extinction

As the Arab Spring protests reach Damascus, Syrian Christians look warily at a future without a time-tested autocrat to protect them from religious intolerance.

In Egypt, sectarian violence, an intermittent problem in the past, flared anew since the ousting of former President Hosni Mubarak in February.  Twelve people were killed, hundreds injured and a church was torched last week in clashes between Copts and Muslims in Cairo.  Christians and secular-leaning Muslims placed blame on Salafis, who advocate a return to the practices of Islam's earliest years.

In Iraq, where elections followed the U.S.-led invasion, Christians also have come under attack.  Hundreds of thousands have fled to Syria, where minority Alawites, a Shiite Muslim sect, have ruled over the Sunni Muslim majority since President Bashar al-Assad's father took power in 1970.  They also found havens in Jordan and Lebanon.

"History has proven to us that Christians have always had more secure lives, better treatment by people who may be looked on as dictators, like Saddam Hussein," said Archbishop Cyril Aphrem Karim, who leads a U.S.  branch of the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch.  In Syria, "our feeling is, if the regime falls, the Salafis and the Muslim Brotherhood will seize power and that is bad news for us."

Under the Assad dynasty, Syrian Christians have swelled the ranks of a professional middle and upper class, enjoying secure lives while accounting for only one-tenth of the population.

RELATED: Syria bloodshed spills into Lebanon

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 28- "On holy and blessed prayer"

21 (cont.) A great practiser of high and perfect prayer says: 'I had rather speak five words with my understanding', and so on (1 Cor 14:9). But such prayer is foreign to infant souls. Therefore, imperfect as we are, we need not only quality but a considerable time for our prayer, because the latter paves the way for the former. For it is said: 'Giving pure prayer to him who prays resolutely, though it be soiled, yer performed with labour' (Cf. 1 Kings 2:9).

May 13, 2011


(Luk 1:48) Because he hath regarded the humility of his handmaid: for behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.

COURAGEOUS PRIEST: Archbishop Dolan – "Go To Mom's House"

FATHER CORAPI: Mary: Mother of The New Evangelization

EXCERPT: Our Lady of Fatima: The mystery in historical context

The message of Fatima has been heard in Portugal, and Mary's goodness has marvelously repaid it.  Has it been heard in the rest of the world?  Certainly not enough.  Otherwise wars among nations by armies, and "cold wars," and fratricides within countries would have ended long ago.

However, not all have turned a deaf ear.  The message of Fatima has been received in part, at least, by a great number of Christians.  Devotion to the rosary continues to gain favor and reaches into many countries.  As has been said, all the dioceses of the world have been consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary by the bishops.  The visits of the Pilgrim Virgin statues have been received with tremendous enthusiasm not only by Catholic populations, but by Protestants and Muslims as well.

The message of Fatima has moved many and has contributed to making our era an Age of Mary.  It has not spoken its final word.  What that word will be depends on the cooperation which Our Lady of Fatima receives from us.  She extends this call and invitation to each of us.

A MOMENT WITH MARY: Three Doves in Fatima

In 1946, two friends found themselves in a delirious crowd while the statue of Our Lady of Fatima was carried in procession from Bombarral to Lisbon, in the midst of ovations such as a prince had never received.  Carlos, a believer in his youth, exclaimed jubilantly like everyone, but his friend, Fernando, on the contrary, had a mocking look on his face.  "It's hard to believe that such a thing can still be seen in the middle of the 20th century!  Granted, I can basically accept Marian devotion, but this is only a statue.  It's almost idolatry!  You must admit, Carlos, it's really too much!"

Then they looked towards the sky and saw three doves hovering in the air.  All at same time, the birds finally plunged and whirled around the statue, and then they landed one after the other at the base of the statue, near on the Madonna's feet.  The crowds acclaimed the feat with cries of joy - clapping their hands loud enough to wake the dead - but the birds were by no means frightened.  A shower of flower petals fell upon them, but the doves still did not fly away.  Far from it!  They seemed content to lower their heads and cover themselves with their wings when the flowers became too heavy.  Cooing softly, they just pressed themselves closer to the statue.  There, they remained perched there for many days, motionless; letting the crowds feed them, without leaving their post.

As the procession entered the Cathedral of Lisbon, the doves still did not move.  During high mass on December 6, 1946, one of the doves flew up and settled on the Madonna's crown, thus symbolizing the Holy Spirit.  During the distribution of the Holy Communion to four thousand worshippers, the dove turned towards the altar by extending its wings and remaining in this attitude of worship until the end of mass.  The crowd watched the bird in astonishment, seized with wonder and admiration.  Fernando was watching too, he was there holding a small girl on his shoulders so she could get a better look.

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 28- "On holy and blessed prayer"

21. If you constantly train your mind never to wander, then it will be near you during meals too. But if it wanders unrestrained, then it will never stay beside you.

May 11, 2011

(Rev 6:9-11) And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held. And they cried with a loud voice, saying: How long, O Lord (Holy and True), dost thou not judge and revenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? And white robes were given to every one of them one; And it was said to them that they should rest for a little time till their fellow servants and their brethren, who are to be slain even as they, should be filled up.

CATHOLIC OBSERVER: Urgent call for protection of Egyptian Christians

A bishop in Egypt has spoken out against the security services and warned of anarchy after attacks against two churches in his diocese left 12 people dead and 200 others injured.

Bishop Antonios Aziz Mina of Guizeh (Giza) said the Egyptian police and army were ‘frightened’ and ‘slow’ to act as violence erupted on Saturday in the Cairo suburb of Imbaba. Speaking in an interview yesterday with Aid to the Church in Need, Bishop Aziz (above) called for those responsible to be brought to justice, accusing fanatics of wanting civil war.

“The police need to say clearly to those who have done this: ‘You cannot do this. It is not allowed.’ Without action from the police and the army, it will be chaos, complete anarchy,” he said told the Catholic charity for persecuted and suffering Christians.

Following reports that it took several hours for the police to restore calm, Bishop Aziz said: “The army will not stand up against the people who do this sort of thing. They want to stay neutral. The police appear but very slowly. They are frightened. They have not been strong enough.” The Coptic Catholic bishop described how one of his faithful, 60-year-old Catholic grandfather Naashaat Rateeb, 60, had died in the violence. He paid tribute to Mr Rateeb’s faith and courage, describing him as ‘the right-hand man’ of the local Coptic Catholic priest.

The churches coming under fire included Imbaba’s Coptic Orthodox Church of the Virgin Mary. Acccording to witnesses, the violence began after 500 Selafist Muslim extremists amassed outside the nearby Coptic Orthodox Church of St Mina, where the fanatics alleged that Christian leaders were detaining a would-be convert from Christianity to Islam. The woman, an Orthodox priest’s wife, later appeared on television defending her Christian faith but the fanatics responded by saying they were also in search of another woman in similar circumstances.

VATICAN RADIO: Religious clashes in Egypt leave at least 12 dead

REVIEW: Christian Church Burnings Are Happening All Over The World And The U.S. Media Is Deadly Silent About It

FIDES: "Muslims must reject violence based on religion," says a missionary in Cairo


Once again this year, Fides publishes an annual document of all the pastoral workers who lost their lives in a violent manner over the course of the last 12 months. According to information in our possession, during 2010, 25 pastoral care workers were killed: one Bishop, 17 priests, one male religious, one religious sister, two seminarians and three lay people.

Analysing the list for each continent, again this year the place most affected, with an extremely elevated number of deaths is AMERICA, bathed with the blood of 17 pastoral care workers: 12 priests, one male religious, one seminarian and three lay people. Following is ASIA, with one Bishop, four priests and one religious sister killed. The least affected was AFRICA, where one priest and one seminarian violently lost their lives.

POPE BENEDICT XVI: "The Holy See continues to appeal for the recognition of the fundamental human right to religious freedom on the part of all states, and calls on them to respect, and if need be protect, religious minorities who, though bound by a different faith from the majority around them, aspire to live with their fellow citizens peacefully and to participate fully in the civil and political life of the nation, to the benefit of all."

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 28- "On holy and blessed prayer"

20. One kind of joy occurs at the time of prayer for those living in a community, and another comes to those who pray in stillness. The one is perhaps somewhat elated, but the other is wholly filled with humility.

May 10, 2011

(2Co 1:3-5) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort: Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we also may be able to comfort them who are in all distress, by the exhortation wherewith we also are exhorted by God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us: so also by Christ doth our comfort abound.


Commenting on today's Gospel reading about the two disciples from Emmaus, "who after Jesus' crucifixion were returning home full of doubt, sorrow, and disappointment", he said that: "The problem of evil, sorrow, and suffering, the problem of injustice and tyranny, the fear of others, of strangers and of those who come to our lands from afar and seem to threaten who we are, leads Christians today to sadly say: 'We were hoping that the Lord would deliver us from evil, from sorrow, from suffering, from fear, and from injustice".

"That is why it is necessary that each of us, as with the two disciples from Emmaus, let ourselves by taught by Jesus: above all how to listen and love the Word of God", participating in the sacrament of His Body and Blood. "The Eucharist is the greatest expression of the gift that Jesus makes of himself and is a constant invitation to live our existence in the logic of the Eucharist, as a gift to God and to others".

Benedict XVI noted that "a traditionally Catholic people can also negatively sense or, almost unconsciously, assimilate the cultural repercussions that wind up insinuating a way of thinking in which the Gospel message is openly refused or surreptitiously hindered".

"In past centuries", he continued, "your churches have known a rich tradition of holiness and generous fraternal service, thanks to the work of priests and active and contemplative religious. If we wish to listen to their spiritual teaching it is not difficult for us to recognize their personal and unmistakable call addressed to us: Be saints! Put Christ at the center of your lives!".

Benedict XVI encouraged those present to "go forward confidently on the path of the new evangelization, in loving service of the poor, and with courageous witness to various social realities. Be aware of being bearers of a message that is for each person and for the entire person: a message of faith, hope, and love".  The Pope extended this invitation, firstly to the priests and also to consecrated persons and the laity. To these latter he recalled that "holiness" doesn't mean doing extraordinary things, but following the will of God each day, truly living well one's vocation with the help of prayer, the Word of God, the sacraments, and the daily effort of living coherently with that vocation. "Yes!", he exclaimed. "Faithful laypersons who are fascinated by the ideal of holiness are needed to build a society worthy of human persons, a civilization of love!".

"I urge you", he continued, "to not hold back your energy in proclaiming the Gospel or in Christian education, supporting catechesis on all levels" and "dedicating special attention to the Christian education of children, adolescents, and youth".

Dennis: God has left the building

If you are a fan of Elvis them you may remember at the end of most of his concerts the announcer would say "Elvis has left the building". In the same way, I think it is pretty obvious that God has left the United States. In fact many of us have invited him to do so. Why would God even want to stay in a place that rejects Him and no longer believes? Why would He want to stay or care about a country that is full of greed and still allows the legalization of abortion? That alone is enough to place a curse on a country, but who even believes in curses? They would be right, there are no curses but only people who will get what they want and what they want is complete godlessness. Be very careful of what you want and not what God wants.

So here we are at almost the end of April 2011. Looking back at the last 100 + days is not pleasant but seems pretty normal for a godless world. Looking at all the disasters only makes me wonder what God must take away until the world finally returns to Him? Strangely I have a feeling that most will never get to that point and will only curse their bad luck.

I know that I have repeated this over and over but the world cannot work without love and there seems to be a real shortage of that lately. If you can not love your brother, then your life will not work very well either. Ya, you might think you have a great life but your spirit (you may not know you have one) will be dead. If you walk this world with a crooked eye to all those around you, you will never contribute to what this world really needs and that is for you to love.

Love never went to war or aborted an unborn baby. It never was greedy or self centered or had a foul mouth. Love never dropped a bomb or fired a gun to destroy another. Love never ran around and was always faithful. Love always shared and was kind and gentle and worried about others. Love always serves and is last in fulfilling its needs. Love is a smile and a "can I help you?". Love is the imitation of God as God is love. If there is any love in your heart, then it was placed there by your Creator. Take a look at it, do you know how to actually use love? Perhaps it is all rusty and bent and is hardly recognizable as you haven't made good use of it for a long time. In these darkening times we really need love more than ever before. Love can light up the world and offer a refuge to all those who seek it. To seek love is easy as you only need to seek Jesus.

We really do need our Creator to return to our nation, cities, homes, schools and into our hearts. It is my greatest wish that the Author of love returns before it is too late and love disappears from the face of the earth.

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 28- "On holy and blessed prayer"

19. The beginning of prayer consists in banishing by a single thought the thoughts that assault us at the very moment that they appear; the middle stage consists in confining our minds to what is being said and thought; and its perfection is rapture in the Lord.

May 6, 2011


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


Q: Your Holiness, what is Jesus doing in the time between His death and resurrection? Seeing that in reciting the Creed it says that Jesus, after His death, descended into Hell, should we think that that will also happen to us, after death, before going to heaven?

A: First of all, this descent of Jesus' soul should not be imagined as a geographical or a spatial trip, from one continent to another. It is the soul's journey. We have to remember that Jesus' soul always touches the Father, it is always in contact with the Father but, at the same time, this human soul extends to the very borders of the human being. In this sense it goes into the depths, into the lost places, to where all who do not arrive at their life's goal go, thus transcending the continents of the past.

This word about the Lord's descent into Hell mainly means that Jesus reaches even the past, that the effectiveness of the Redemption does not begin in the year 0 or 30, but also goes to the past, embraces the past, all men and women of all time.

The Church Fathers say, with a very beautiful image, that Jesus takes Adam and Eve, that is, humanity, by the hand and guides them forward, guides them on high. He thus creates access to God because humanity, on its own cannot arrive at God's level. He himself, being man, can take humanity by the hand and open the access. To what? To the reality we call Heaven. So this descent into Hell, that is, into the depth of the human being, into humanity's past, is an essential part of Jesus' mission, of His mission as Redeemer, and does not apply to us. Our lives are different. We are already redeemed by the Lord and we arrive before the Judge, after our death, under Jesus' gaze. On one had, this gaze will be purifying: I think that all of us, in greater or lesser measure, are in need of purification. Jesus' gaze purifies us, thus making us capable of living with God, of living with the Saints, and above all of living in communion with those dear to us who have preceded us.

Q: Your Holiness, when the women reach the tomb on the Sunday after Jesus' death, they do not recognize their Master but confuse him with another. It also happens to the apostles: Jesus shows them his wounds, breaks bread, in order to be recognized, precisely by his actions. He has a true body, made of flesh, but it is also glorified. What does it mean that His risen body didn't have the same characteristics as before? What, exactly, does a glorified body mean? Will the Resurrection also be like that for us?

A: Naturally, we cannot define the glorified body because it is beyond our experience. We can only note the signs that Jesus has given us to understand, at least a little, in which direction we should seek this reality.

The first sign: the tomb is empty. That is, Jesus did not leave his body behind to corruption. This shows us that even matter is destined for eternity, that it is truly resurrected, that it does not remain something lost.

But he then assumed this matter in a new condition of life. This is the second point: Jesus no longer dies, that is, He is beyond the laws of biology and physics because He endured this one death. Therefore there is a new condition, a different one, that we do not know but which is shown in the fact of Jesus and which is a great promise for all of us: that there is a new world, a new life, toward which we are on a journey. Being in this condition, Jesus had the possibility of letting himself be felt, of offering his hand to his followers, of eating with them, but still of being beyond the conditions of biological life as we live it. We know that, on the one hand, He is a real man, not a ghost, that he lives a real life, but a new life that is no longer submitted to the death that is our great promise.

It is important to understand this, at least as much as we can, for the Eucharist. In the Eucharist, the Lord gives us His glorified body, not flesh to eat in a biological sense. He gives us Himself, this newness that He is in our humanity, in our being as person, and it touches us within with His being so that we might let ourselves be penetrated by His presence, transformed in His presence. It is an important point because we are thus already in contact with this new life, this new type of life, since He has entered into me and I have gone out of myself and am extended toward a new dimension of life.

I think that this aspect of the promise, of the reality that He gives Himself to me and pulls me out of myself, toward on high, is the most important point. It is not about noting things that we cannot understand but of being on a journey to the newness that always begins again anew in the Eucharist.

On Three Degrading Influences and How to Overcome them – A Meditation on Pope Leo XIII's Encyclical on the Holy Rosary


Who May Expose the Blessed Sacrament for Adoration?
Is a Cross with the Risen Christ Licit?
Explanation of Some Cult Beliefs
Furnishings of the Sanctuary and Altar
Silva Mind Control
Canon Laws Regulating Excommunication
The Role of the Church Choir

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

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 28- "On holy and blessed prayer"

18. If you have ever seen the Sun (of Righteousness) as you ought, you will also be able to converse with Him fitly. But if not, how can you truly hold converse with what you have not seen?

May 5, 2011 

(1Ti 4:1-3) Now the Spirit manifestly saith that in the last times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to spirits of error and doctrines of devils, Speaking lies in hypocrisy and having their conscience seared, Forbidding to marry, to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving by the faithful and by them that have known the truth.

HEADLINE: Cohabitation, confession, Easter Communion

For generations, people in pews knew what to call it when folks "shacked up" before marriage -- "living in sin."

"Sin" is a harder word to use, today.

The Catholic archbishop of Santa Fe, N.M., recently raised eyebrows with a mere letter reminding his flock that cohabitation is a grave sin that Catholics must take to confession or there will be eternal consequences.  Archbishop Michael J.  Sheehan's priests read his sobering words from their pulpits on April 3, the fourth Sunday of Lent -- the penitential season before Easter.

Those who cohabit, stressed Sheehan, are "objectively living in a state of mortal sin and may not receive Holy Communion.  They are in great spiritual danger.  At the best ...  they are ignorant of God's plan for man and woman.  At the worst, they are contemptuous of God's commandments and His sacraments.  ...

"Often their plea is that they 'cannot afford a church wedding,' i.e.  the external trappings, or that 'what difference does a piece of paper make?' -- as if a sacramental covenant is nothing more than a piece of paper!  Such statements show religious ignorance, or a lack of faith and awareness of the evil of sin."

In addition to forbidding known cohabiters from receiving Communion, Sheehan urged priests to avoid public scandal by refusing to commission them to serve Communion.  After all, he said, "one commits the sin of sacrilege by administering a sacrament in the state of mortal sin."

Also, priests should prevent those who cohabitate from serving as godparents for baptisms and confirmations, since the documents for these rites say it's "critical for the sponsor to be a practicing Catholic." How, Sheehan added, "can anyone be seriously called a practicing Catholic who is not able to receive the sacraments because they are living in sin?"

FULL TEXT OF PASTORAL LETTER: Pastoral Care of Couples Who are Cohabitating

: Family breakdown at record levels, finds the Centre for Social Justice

The Centre for Social Justice has published a report, History and Family: Setting the Records Straight.  A rebuttal to the British Academy pamphlet Happy Families?, suggesting that family breakdown is at record levels.

The report states that births outside marriage are at the highest point for at least 200 years.  Cohabitation levels have also risen from under 5% pre-1945 to 90% today.

The inquiry finds that births outside marriage were at low levels throughout the 19th century and stayed flat until the 1960s.  But since then they have increased dramatically, from a long-standing baseline of 5 per cent to 45 per cent today.

The report says that research shows that children brought up by lone parents on average do much less well than those brought up by two parents and that cohabiting couples with children are far less stable than married couples with children. 

The report states that:

CATHOLIC REVIEW: Guest Columnist: Cohabitation's Curse

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 28- "On holy and blessed prayer"

17. Try to lift up, or rather, to enclose your thought within the words of your prayer, and if in its infant state it wearies and falls, lift it up again. Instability is natural to the mind, but God is powerful to establish all things. If you persevere indefatigably in this labour, He who sets the bounds to the sea of the mind will visit you too, and during your prayer will say to the waves: Thus far shall ye come and no further (Cf. Job 38:11). Spirit cannot be bound; but where the Creator of the spirit is, everthing obeys.

May 4, 2011 

(2Ti 4:7-8) I have fought a good fight: I have finished my course: I have kept the faith. As to the rest, there is laid up for me a crown of justice which the Lord the just judge will render to me in that day: and not only to me, but to them also that love his coming.

LIBYAN BISHOP: "We ask the intercession of John Paul II that can work miracles. I remember that it was this pope who opened diplomatic relations with Libya in 1997, when this country was under international embargo," the bishop said. "I am praying ceaselessly so that, through his intercession, a peaceful solution may be found to the crisis," he said. He said one of Blessed John Paul's teachings was that "war cannot bring peace."

VATICAN PICTORIAL:  A Tribute to John Paul II

: John Paul II: The Pope of Life by Fr. Frank Pavone

EXCERPT: Pope Benedict's Homily at Beatification

"Six years ago we gathered in this Square to celebrate the funeral of Pope John Paul II. Our grief at his loss was deep, but even greater was our sense of an immense grace which embraced Rome and the whole world: a grace which was in some way the fruit of my beloved predecessor's entire life, and especially of his witness in suffering. Even then we perceived the fragrance of his sanctity, and in any number of ways God's people showed their veneration for him ...

I wanted his cause of beatification to move forward with reasonable haste. And now the longed-for day has come; it came quickly because this is what was pleasing to the Lord: John Paul II is blessed!"

Dear brothers and sisters, today our eyes behold, in the full spiritual light of the risen Christ, the beloved and revered figure of John Paul II. Today his name is added to the host of those whom he proclaimed saints and blesseds during the almost twenty-seven years of his pontificate, thereby forcefully emphasizing the universal vocation to the heights of the Christian life, to holiness ...

By his witness of faith, love and apostolic courage, accompanied by great human charisma, this exemplary son of Poland helped believers throughout the world not to be afraid to be called Christian, to belong to the Church, to speak of the Gospel. In a word: he helped us not to fear the truth, because truth is the guarantee of liberty.To put it even more succinctly: he gave us the strength to believe in Christ ...

He restored to Christianity its true face as a religion of hope ... (and communicated) the fullness of humanity and the fulfilment of all our longings for justice and peace.

His example of prayer continually impressed and edified me: he remained deeply united to God even amid the many demands of his ministry. Then too, there was his witness in suffering: the Lord gradually stripped him of everything, yet he remained ever a 'rock,' as Christ desired. His profound humility, grounded in close union with Christ, enabled him to continue to lead the Church and to give to the world a message which became all the more eloquent as his physical strength declined.

In this way he lived out in an extraordinary way the vocation of every priest and bishop to become completely one with Jesus, whom he daily receives and offers in the Eucharist. Blessed are you, beloved Pope John Paul II, because you believed! Continue, we implore you, to sustain from heaven the faith of God's people. Amen."


Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 28- "On holy and blessed prayer"

16. Until we have acquired genuine prayer, we are like people teaching children to begin to walk.

May 3, 2011

(Pro 24:17-20) When thy enemy shall fall, be not glad, and in his ruin let not thy heart rejoice: Lest the Lord see, and it displease him, and he turn away his wrath from him. Contend not with the wicked, nor seek to be like the ungodly. For evil men have no hope of things to come, and the lamp of the wicked shall be put out.

VIA ICN: 'Prayers, not rejoicing, needed over bin Laden's death'

Following reports of the killing of Osama bin Laden by American forces in Pakistan, Benjamin Harnwell, Chairman of the Dignitatis Humanae Institute, said:

"It has been widely reported that many are rejoicing at the death of Osama bin Laden.  Leaving aside the extra-judicial circumstances of his death and the issue of capital punishment, the Institute would like to stress that everyone, without exception, is made in the image and likeness of God.  This imago Dei is inalienable and exists even in such gross and fanatic murderers as Mr Bin Laden.

Yesterday, the Universal Church celebrated the Feast of the Divine Mercy which intimately binds God's righteous justice with His infinite mercy.  Osama bin Laden is unlikely to have availed himself of the sacrament of Reconciliation before his death, and in denying himself the possibility of mercy, may at this very moment be suffering the desolation of an eternity separated from Jesus Christ.  And yet it is proper for Christians to pray for his soul and God's mercy.  In life, Mr Bin Laden stained and fouled the image of God that was in him.  We should not do the same at his death by displaying a lack of charity."

Founded in 2008, the Dignitatis Humanae Institute aims to promote human dignity worldwide in both political and cultural spheres.  Its basis is the 'Universal Declaration of Human Dignity' which brings attention to the infinite value of every single human life based on the recognition that Man is made in the image and likeness of God.  The Institute is a growing presence in parliamentary working groups on human dignity in legislatures around the world.

This morning.  the Director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr Federico Lombardi, SJ, said in a statement: "Osama Bin Laden, as is known, claimed responsibility for grave acts that spread division and hate among the peoples, manipulating religion to that end.  A Christian never takes pleasure from the fact of a man's death, but sees it as an opportunity to reflect on each person's responsibility, before God and humanity, and to hope and commit oneself to seeing that no event become another occasion to disseminate hate but rather to foster peace".

COINCIDENCE: May Day: Both Hitler and bin Laden Announced Dead on May 1

FIDES NEWS: Bin Laden killed, feared reactions against Christian churches and schools

Schools and Christian institutions closed, churches and Christian areas guarded with utmost security measures, this is the situation that the Christian community recorded in the main city in Pakistan after the news of the killing of Osama Bin Laden. 

Christians can be identified as a target because they are seen in propaganda and in the ideological Taliban struggle, with Westerners and the Americans, as being responsible for the death of their leader.  Paul Bhatti, Special Adviser to the Government for religious minorities, confirms to Fides: "The situation is tense.  There are, in fact, strong reactions of fear, unreasonable, against Christian minorities.  The government is paying close attention to preventive measures ".

Fr. Mario Rodrigues, director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in Pakistan who lives in Karachi, has just come out from a meeting with the civil authorities and told Fides: "they have put us on alert, calling for the closure of our institutions and placing more police personnel in front of churches.  Christians in Pakistan are innocent victims, even in this situation: any excuse is good to threaten or to attack".

On the long-term consequences of the killing of the leader of Al Qaeda, Fr.  Rodrigues says: "According to some people, in the coming months the persecution against Christians could decrease and the Taliban ideological struggle weaken.  We will see.  We observe, however, that intolerance and radical Islamic groups are flourishing in the country, and other extremist leaders could establish themselves and continue terrorist actions.  Unfortunately in recent days there have been massive attacks in Christian neighborhoods in the city of Gujranwala.  We urgently need a serious policy to combat Islamic extremism by the state at all levels: in culture, education, social level but also on a political and legislative level".

COMMENTARY: Is It Wrong To Celebrate Bin Laden's Death?

BLOG: Does Divine Mercy Apply To Bin Laden?

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 28- "On holy and blessed prayer"

15. If you are clothed in all meekness and freedom from anger, you will not have much trouble in loosing your mind from captivity.
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