Keep your eyes open!...


May 30, 2017  

(Heb 4:14-16) Having therefore a great high priest that hath passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God: let us hold fast our confession. For we have not a high priest who cannot have compassion on our infirmities: but one tempted in all things like as we are, without sin. Let us go therefore with confidence to the throne of grace: that we may obtain mercy and find grace in seasonable aid.

ARCHBISHOP CHAPUT: Mary, the Mother of God, the humble and the sane

EXCERPT FATHER JOSEPH ESPER: Fuzzy Thinking and Misguided Beliefs

Genuine religion is never a “do-it-yourself” project, in which we pick-and-choose, or even create, our religious beliefs based on our own preferences and opinions.  Because there is only one God, there can only be one truth—and it’s our duty to strive to discover it, and then live our lives accordingly.  However, we are not on our own; Jesus gives us His Spirit to enlighten us and His Church to guide us.  If we humble ourselves and express our love for Him through obedience, we have the assurance that we’re going in the right direction and that we’ll reach our goal of eternal life.

As our Creator, God understands our human limitations and needs—including the need for leaders with the authority to guide us, direct us, and, when necessary, correct us.  That’s why Jesus established the Church.  We see in the Acts of the Apostles (8:5-8, 14-17) that even though the deacon Philip accomplished miraculous things in Christ’s Name—preaching the Gospel, healing the infirm, and freeing the possessed—he remained subject to the authority of the apostles; Peter and John came and confirmed, or completed, what Philip had begun.  A religious community without divinely-appointed leaders will sooner or later succumb to error or division; that’s an inevitable by-product of our sinful human nature.  When Jesus spoke  to the apostles, promising to send them the Holy Spirit, He wasn’t speaking to them as individual believers, but as leaders of His Church, through whom His teachings and commandments would be made known to the world—and He said it’s by obeying these commandments that we express our love for Him.  St. Peter (1 Pt 3:15-18) tells us that we may have to suffer for doing good, and many Catholics throughout the world—even today—suffer criticism, discrimination, or persecution because of their commitment to Christ and their allegiance to His vicar on earth, the Holy Father.  We must pray for these fellow believers, even as we admire their courage and strive to imitate their religious common sense.  No other religion has the magisterium, or teaching authority, of the Catholic Church; no other religion has the absolute, divinely-guaranteed assurance of unity and doctrinal truth found in Catholicism.

St. John Vianney once said, “Those who are led by the Holy Spirit have true ideas; that’s why so many ignorant people are wiser than the learned.”  I have no doubt that the misguided minister who six years ago predicted the rapture and the end of the world is a learned and intelligent man, but without submitting to the authority of the one true Church, he and others like him have no assurance that they’re actually being led by the Holy Spirit.  There are also many highly intelligent and talented non-believers who are quite successful and important in the world—but in terms of what really matters, they know and understand far less than humble, ordinary Catholics who attend Mass every weekend.  Jesus promises us in the Gospel that He will not leave us orphans; He will come to us and lead us into eternal life—but in the time and manner He chooses, and not one that’s subject to our own predictions and preferences.  If we want to be true to Him, we need only love Him by keeping His commandments, and if we want to know exactly what this means, we need only be faithful members of His Church.  He is the way, the truth, and the life, and as long as our faith is rooted in Him, our salvation is assured.

MEDITATION: Thoughts by St Theophan (1815-1894)

[Acts 21:8–14; John 14:27–15:7]

The Lord Jesus Christ is the vine, a grape tree; Christians are branches and shoots. We cleave to Him through faith and bear fruit through a life according to faith. The Heavenly Father is the husbandman who watches over this tree. Any branch which does not bring forth fruit — that is, whoever believes and does not live according to faith — the Lord cuts off. But He cleanses those which bring forth fruit — that is, those who not only believe, but are also zealous to live according to faith. These the Lord helps in every way to become rich in good deeds, which are the fruits of faith.

Let each person arrange his life according to this law of God's action upon us, firmly remembering that without the Lord one can do nothing. Run to Him with every need. May His most holy and sweetest name be ever impressed upon your mind, heart, and tongue.

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 14- "On that clamorous mistress, the stomach"

1. As we are about to speak concerning the stomach, as in everything else, we propose to philosophize against ourselves.  For I wonder if anyone has been liberated of this mistress before settling in the grave.

May 24, 2017

(2Ki 13:20-21) And Eliseus died, and they buried him. And the rovers from Moab came into the land the same year. And some that were burying a man, saw the rovers, and cast the body into the sepulchre of Eliseus. And when it had touched the bones of Eliseus, the man came to life and stood upon his feet.

VATICAN RADIO: Major relics of St Nicholas visit Russia


MEDITATION: Keeping Focus on the Essentials by Ted Flynn

: In the link below you will read Card. Burke's statement that requires necessary clarification that I hope to provide below.

First the Cardinals' recent statement:

“Certainly, Pope Saint John Paul II consecrated the world, including Russia, to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on March 25, 1984,” said Cardinal Burke. “But, today, once again, we hear the call of Our Lady of Fatima to consecrate Russia to her Immaculate Heart, in accord with her explicit instruction.”

While Card. Burke wisely affirms that the 1982 consecration of Russia to the IHM was indeed done, as one cannot rebut Sr. Lucia's words of it having been done and accepted by Mary, as well as the many good fruits in Russia pursuant to it, the good cardinal does might consider the following distinction, i.e.,

A person consecrating someone "for the purpose of converting that person to the Christian faith" is one thing (which was requested by Our Lady of Fatima re. Russia to her Immaculate Heart which, as Card. Burke admits, was accomplished in 1984); to re-consecrate that person "after they have converted" (which Card. Burke is calling for "again") is quite another matter, as it does not have as its purpose that person's conversion, but rather ongoing growth in the faith.

link: Cardinal Burke calls for Consecration of Russia to Immaculate Heart of Mary

MORE: Has Russia Been Consecrated To Mary?

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 13- "On despondency"

7. Despondency reminds those standing at prayer of necessary duties. And brutish as she is, she leaves no stone unturned to find some plausible pretext to drag us from prayer as with a kind of halter.

May 22, 2017

(Act 17:30-31) And God indeed having winked at the times of this ignorance, now declareth unto men that all should every where do penance. Because he hath appointed a day wherein he will judge the world in equity, by the man whom he hath appointed: giving faith to all, by raising him up from the dead.

: “As religious leaders, we are called, therefore, to unmask the violence that masquerades as purported sanctity.  We have an obligation to denounce violations of human dignity and human rights, to expose attempts to justify every form of hatred in the name of religion, and to condemn these attempts as idolatrous caricatures of God.”

DAILY WIRE: Trump Delivers Powerful Speech to Arab Leaders, Demands They 'Drive Out' Islamic Terrorists

Before President Trump delivered his first big international speech, an address in Saudi Arabia to dozens of Arab leaders, reports swirled that he would not utter the words "radical Islamic terror."

Of course he said the words -- repeatedly -- and much more. He lectured the Saudis on human rights, including the nation's long repression of women. And most of all, he laid out -- in simple black and white terms -- the real battle that is has been raging for two decades.

"This is not a battle between different faiths, different sects, or different civilizations," Trump told some 50 Muslim leaders gathered in an ornate conference center in Riyadh. "This is a battle between barbaric criminals who seek to obliterate human life, and decent people of all religions who seek to protect it. This is a battle between good and evil."

And Trump said the Muslim world has an obligation -- even a moral imperative -- to squelch terror emanating from the Muslim faith. "Every time a terrorist murders an innocent person, and falsely invokes the name of God, it should be an insult to every person of faith," Trump said. "That means honestly confronting the crisis of Islamist extremism and the Islamist terror groups it inspires."

And Trump appeared to give the Muslim leaders a direct order about the terrorists who declare their Muslim faith demands they kill infidels.

"Drive them out!" Trump said. "Drive them out of your places of worship, drive them out of your communities, drive them out of your Holy Land, and drive them out of this Earth!"

Unlike former president Barack Obama, who drew a red line in Syria and then did nothing when Islamic extremists crossed it, Trump said, "There can be no tolerating it, no accepting it, no excusing it, and no ignoring it."

He added, "If we do not stand in uniform condemnation of this killing, then we not only will be judged by our people, not only will be judged by history, but we will be judged by God."

Trump said that moving toward peace "means honestly confronting the crisis of Islamist extremism and the Islamist terror groups it inspires. And it means standing together against the murder of innocent Muslims, the oppression of women, the persecution of Jews, and the slaughter of Christians.

"Religious leaders must make this absolutely clear: Barbarism will deliver you no glory – piety to evil will bring you no dignity.  If you choose the path of terror, your life will be empty, your life will be brief, and your soul will be condemned," Trump said.

"And if the world doesn't unite to fight ISIS, al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas and other groups, he said, 'not only will we be judged by our people, not only will we be judged by history, we will be judged by God.'

RELATED: Trump Says He Looks Forward to Speaking With Pope About How Christian Teachings Lead to Freedom

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 13- "On despondency"

6. Despondency is a pretext for hospitality. She insists that by means of manual labour, alms could be given; and she urges us eagerly to visit the sick, recalling Him who said, I was sick and ye visited Me (Mat 25:36). She puts it into our heads to go out visiting the dejected and faint-hearted, and sets one faintheart to comfort another.

May 19, 2017

(Mat 5:13-16) You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt lose its savour, wherewith shall it be salted? It is good for nothing anymore but to be cast out, and to be trodden on by men. You are the light of the world. A city seated on a mountain cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel, but upon a candlestick, that it may shine to all that are in the house. So let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

BLOG: What is the Benedict Option?

UNIVERSALIS: From a letter to Diognetus- The Christian in the world

Christians are indistinguishable from other men either by nationality, language or customs. They do not inhabit separate cities of their own, or speak a strange dialect, or follow some outlandish way of life. Their teaching is not based upon reveries inspired by the curiosity of men. Unlike some other people, they champion no purely human doctrine. With regard to dress, food and manner of life in general, they follow the customs of whatever city they happen to be living in, whether it is Greek or foreign.

  And yet there is something extraordinary about their lives. They live in their own countries as though they were only passing through. They play their full role as citizens, but labour under all the disabilities of aliens. Any country can be their homeland, but for them their homeland, wherever it may be, is a foreign country. Like others, they marry and have children, but they do not expose them. They share their meals, but not their wives. They live in the flesh, but they are not governed by the desires of the flesh. They pass their days upon earth, but they are citizens of heaven. Obedient to the laws, they yet live on a level that transcends the law.

  Christians love all men, but all men persecute them. Condemned because they are not understood, they are put to death, but raised to life again. They live in poverty, but enrich many; they are totally destitute, but possess an abundance of everything. They suffer dishonour, but that is their glory. They are defamed, but vindicated. A blessing is their answer to abuse, deference their response to insult. For the good they do they receive the punishment of malefactors, but even then they rejoice, as though receiving the gift of life. They are attacked by the Jews as aliens, they are persecuted by the Greeks, yet no one can explain the reason for this hatred.

  To speak in general terms, we may say that the Christian is to the world what the soul is to the body. As the soul is present in every part of the body, while remaining distinct from it, so Christians are found in all the cities of the world, but cannot be identified with the world. As the visible body contains the invisible soul, so Christians are seen living in the world, but their religious life remains unseen. The body hates the soul and wars against it, not because of any injury the soul has done it, but because of the restriction the soul places on its pleasures. Similarly, the world hates the Christians, not because they have done it any wrong, but because they are opposed to its enjoyments.

  Christians love those who hate them just as the soul loves the body and all its members despite the body’s hatred. It is by the soul, enclosed within the body, that the body is held together, and similarly, it is by the Christians, detained in the world as in a prison, that the world is held together. The soul, though immortal, has a mortal dwelling place; and Christians also live for a time amidst perishable things, while awaiting the freedom from change and decay that will be theirs in heaven. As the soul benefits from the deprivation of food and drink, so Christians flourish under persecution. Such is the Christian’s lofty and divinely appointed function, from which he is not permitted to excuse himself.

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 13- "On despondency"

5. A doctor visits the sick in the morning, but despondency visits the ascetics about noonday (Ps 90:6).

May 17, 2017

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

RUSSIAN PATRIARCH TIKHON (1918): “In our troubled times the Lord has revealed a host of new sufferers.  If the Lord sends us the trials of persecution, bonds, torments and even death, then we will endure all of this with patience, believing that nothing happens to us if it is not the will of God and that our spiritual exploit will not remain without fruit in the same way as the sufferings of the Christian martyrs conquered the world for Christ’s teaching.”

REPORT: In RESPONSE to PERSECUTION Findings of the Under Caesar’s Sword Project on Global Christian Communities


Christian persecution focus of global summit
International Religious Freedom Worsening in Both 'Depth and Breadth'

ACTION ALERT: Host a screening Christian Persecution "Faithkeepers" - the Movie

: A Christian Exodus Sweeps the Middle East

A senior U.S. official says the battle to retake control of Iraq's second largest city of Mosul from ISIS terrorists is approaching its final stages.

"It's really just a matter of time," Brett McGurk, the special presidential envoy for the global coalition against ISIS told reporters while visiting the outskirts of the Iraqi city.

"I'm not going to put timelines on it, this has been a long and very difficult campaign but ISIS is down to its last stronghold in the western part of the city," McGurk said. "Anyone left in there, they either have to surrender or they're going to die."

But as Iraqi forces, backed by U.S. and coalition troops, prepare for their final assault on the besieged city, many Iraqis, especially Christians, are worried about what their country will look like after the fall of the terror group.

The heads of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches are asking authorities to establish a safe haven for the country's persecuted Christians in the ethnically diverse and volatile Nineveh province where various religious groups have often fought each other over territory.

Late last week, leaders of Iraq's three main churches, the Syriac Catholic Church, the Syriac Orthodox Church and the Chaldean Catholic Church issued a joint statement urging their government leaders to set up a safeguards for beleaguered Christians.

"The security and protection of Christian localities in Nineveh Plain, a free zone, and international protection, under United Nations, away from conflicts and rivalries," the heads of the churches wrote.

The statement comes on the heels of a dire warning from one of the country's top Islamic leaders who described Iraq's Christians as "infidels" and warned that those who decide not to convert to Islam must pay a religious tax or leave town.

"Jihad should be implemented in regard to the Christians in order for them to convert to Islam, either they will become Muslims or we must fight them, or they ought to pay jizzya," Ali Mousavi, head of the Shiite Waqf bureau, recently told his followers.

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 13- "On despondency"

4. Community life is opposed to despondency. But she is a constant companion of the hermit. She will never leave him till his death, and wrestles with him daily till his end. Seeing an anchorite's cell, she smiles, and creeps up and camps near by.

May 15, 2017

(Jas 1:5-7) But if any of you want wisdom, let him ask of God who giveth to all men abundantly and upbraideth not. And it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea, which is moved and carried about by the wind. Therefore let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.

CARDINAL PAROLIN: In the midst of great concern and uncertainty about the future, what does Fatima ask of us? Perseverance in the consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, shown daily by the recitation of the Rosary. And what if, despite our prayers, wars continue? Even though immediate results may not be evident, let us persevere in prayer. Prayer is never useless. Sooner or later, it will bear fruit. Prayer is capital in the hands of God; he turns it to good account in his own times and ways, which are very different from our own.

VIDEO: Fr. Don Calloway, MIC: The Rosary: Spiritual Sword of Our Lady

FATIMA: 500,000 attend pope’s canonisation of child shepherds

VATICAN RADIO: Regina Coeli: Pope reflects on pilgrimage to Fatima

“Let us greet the Virgin of Fatima!”

Following his pilgrimage to Fatima, Pope Francis said the Regina Coeli on Sunday, took on “a particular significance, imbued with memory and prophecy for those who view history with the eyes of faith.” Reflecting on his journey, the Pope said, “At Fatima I was immersed in the prayer of the faithful holy People, prayer that for one hundred years has flowed there like a river, for the maternal protection of Mary for the whole world.”

The Holy Father focused on the “recollected and contemplative climate” during his pilgrimage. “And at the centre of everything,” he said, “was and is the Risen Lord, present in the midst of His People in the Word and in the Eucharist; present in the midst of the many sick people, who are the protagonists of the liturgical and pastoral life of Fatima, as of every Marian sanctuary.”

One of the highlights of Pope Francis pilgrimage was the Solemn Mass on Saturday, when he canonized two of the visionaries of Fatima, Francisco and Jacinta Marto. With the canonization, the Pope said, “I wanted to propose to the whole Church their example of adhesion to Christ and to evangelical witness… And I also want to propose to the whole Church to have the heart of children.” He said their sanctity is not “a consequence of the apparitions, but of the fidelity and ardour with which they corresponded to the privilege they had received of being able to see the Virgin Mary.”

He pointed out that the visionaries, after having seen Mary, frequently said the Rosary, did penance, and offered sacrifices for an end to the war [World War I, which was raging at the time], and for the souls most in need of divine mercy. “In our day, too,” the Pope said, “there is great need of prayer and of penance to implore the grace of conversion,” and an end to the many wars and conflicts in the world today, “which disfigure the face of humanity.”

“Let us allow ourselves to be guided by the light that comes from Fatima,” Pope Francis said, before concluding his reflection with a prayer: “May the Immaculate Heart of Mary always be our refuge, our consolation, and the way that leads to Christ.”

CNA: Pope Francis: Fatima reminds us to care for the faith of children

HLI: Why Fatima Matters in the Battle for Life and Family by Fr. Shenan J. Boquet

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 13- "On despondency"

3. A man in obedience does not know despondency, having achieved spiritual things by means of sensory things.

May 12, 2017

(Joh 19:26-27) When Jesus therefore had seen his mother and the disciple standing whom he loved, he saith to his mother: Woman, behold thy son. After that, he saith to the disciple: Behold thy mother. And from that hour, the disciple took her to his own.

POPE FRANCIS: "Look to her and let her look upon you, because she is your Mother and loves you greatly; let her look upon you, to learn how to be more humble and also more courageous in following the Word of God; to welcome the embrace of her Son Jesus and, strengthened by this friendship, to love every person following the example and the measure of the Heart of Christ, to which the College is consecrated, finding love, hope and peace in Him. Let us look, brothers and sisters, at our Mother, who is in God’s heart. The mystery of this girl from Nazareth is not extraneous to us. It is not a question of “She is there and we are here”. No, we are connected. In effect, God turns His loving gaze (cf. Lk, 1:48) also to every man and every woman, calling them by name and surname! His gaze of love rests upon each one of us."

SHORT VIDEO: The Message of Fatima

CATHOLIC HERALD: Vatican releases Pope’s schedule for Fatima visit

CATHOLIC.ORG: Pope Francis' visit makes perfect ending for Our Lady of Fatima anniversary celebration

After a whirlwind trip to Egypt last week, Pope Francis in just 10 days will head to Portugal for the centenary celebration of the Marian apparitions of Fatima, where anticipation is building for the visit of the "bishop in white."

"The centenary is a memorable, unforgettable date to give thanks to God for all the gifts that the message of Fatima has scattered throughout Portugal, but also in the whole world," Bishop Antonio dos Santos Marto of Leiria-Fatima told CNA in an interview.

And the centenary celebrations "wouldn't be complete without the presence of the Pope," he said, explaining that the Pope "is part of the message of Fatima."

Pointing to the third "secret" of Our Lady of Fatima, which presents a pilgrim Church that is persecuted and led by a "bishop in white," Marto said this figure can be understood to be the Pope, who is present in Our Lady's message.

In her apparitions, Mary also asked for people to pray for the Pope, "so the Pope is part of the message of Fatima," he said, adding that the fact that several Popes have visited Fatima shows the "catholicity," or "universality" of Our Lady's message.

"It's not only for Portugal, it's not only for the Church in Portugal, it's for the entire Church and, I would say, the entire world," he said. "So people who work here preparing for the Pope's visit are working with a lot of commitment and a lot of enthusiasm."

Bishop Marto has overseen the diocese of Leiria-Fatima since 2006, and is in charge of preparing not only for the 100th anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima, but also for the May 12-13 visit of Pope Francis to Fatima for the celebrations.

Ultimately, the Pope's visit to Fatima for the centenary of the apparitions will help "to rediscover the richness and beauty of this message for our time," the bishop said.

The message of Fatima, he said, refers to "the greatest, most tragic events of the 20th century." Namely, the two World Wars, "with their genocides, millions of innocent victims," and the persecution at the hands of atheist and totalitarian regimes, which threatened to destroy the Church from view.

"So it was a message of grace, to say that God is with us, he doesn't abandon us, the mercy of God has a higher limit than the power of evil, and a message of peace," Marto said. "These three words are the gift Our Lady brings: grace, mercy and peace."
Our Lady's appeals for conversion, prayer and reparation are also very timely, he said, noting that even in contemporary society, at times we forget "to make reparation for what was spoiled."

Using new technologies as an example, he said that today if something we own breaks, we toss it and get a new one, "but you can't repair the heart like this, throwing it out of the chest."

"The heart, relationships with others and among people, need reparation, need renewal in the sense of rebuilding, renewing; of re-making even the relationships with God and others," he said, warning that "sometimes in front of evil, we feel powerless, and there's a sense of resignation."

Mary, the bishop said, came "to look for collaborators in the merciful design of God before the power of evil," which makes her message extremally relevant today, because while there might not be as much persecution from atheist regimes, "there's the danger of something, in my view, that's worse: religious indifference."

"To live as if God didn't exist. To live with your back to God. The sense of God is lost, and when one loses the sense of God, they also lose the sense of humanity," he said, explaining that because of this, "the message (of Fatima) is always relevant."

CNA:  A personal look at Fatima's saintly Sister Lucia

: Fatima visionaries will be canonized May 13 in Portugal

EXCERPT The Blessedness of Jacintha and Francisco “Francisco, which do you like better: to console Our Lord, or to convert sinners, so that no more souls go to hell?” Lucia dos Santos, then 10, asked her younger cousin and fellow Fatima visionary.  Francisco, 9, replied: “I would rather console Our Lord. Didn’t you notice how sad Our Lady was that last month when she said that people must not offend Our Lord anymore, for He is already too much offended? I would like to console Our Lord, and after that, convert sinners, so they won’t offend Him anymore.”

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 13- "On despondency"

2. Despondency is a paralysis of soul, an enervation of the mind, neglect of asceticism, hatred of the vow made. It calls those who are in the world blessed. It accuses God of being merciless and without love for men. It is being languid in singing psalms, weak in prayer, like iron in service, resolute in manual labour, reliable in obedience.

May 11, 2017

(Joh 2:3-5) And the wine failing, the mother of Jesus saith to him: They have no wine. And Jesus saith to her: Woman, what is that to me and to thee? My hour is not yet come. His mother saith to the waiters: Whatsoever he shall say to you, do ye.

REV. JOSEPH LEO IANNUZZIHas Russia Been Consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary?

LIFESITE COMMENTARY: Russia. Why was Our Lady of Fatima so concerned about Russia?

INSIDE THE VATICAN EXCERPT: Interview with German Catholic scholar Dr. Michael Hesemann

Q: What is the key to change the course of history according to Fatima?

Hesemann: Prayer, Reparation, Consecration! In her message, given to the shepherd children on July 13, 1917, Our Lady of Fatima made it very clear that all wars and catastrophies are the results of our sins: “if people do not cease offending God,” a new war would break out, bringing “war, famine and persecution of the Church and the Holy Father. To prevent this, I shall come to ask for the consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart … If my requests are heeded, Russia will be converted, and there will be peace; if not, she will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecution of the Church.”

This means that God in His mercy gave the fate of the world in our hands.

And indeed it came as it was predicted. After World War I, mankind continued to live as if God would not exist, they did not cease to offend Him. And indeed in Russia, Spain and Mexico bolshevism caused the most severe persecution of the Church.

Then World War II broke out – as predicted by Our Lady of Fatima after a “light in the sky”, an immense Aurora borealis, visible even in Portugal, “during the Pontificate of Pius XI” obviously referring to Hitler’s annexation of Austria.

In the middle of this war, on October 31, 1942, Pope Pius XII, in his Radio message to the Portuguese Nation, indeed consecrated Russia to Her Immaculate Heart, although not, as requested, in union with all bishops. And indeed a miracle happened.

Within three days, the battle of el-Alamein began and turned out to be the first defeat of Hitler’s victorious army in World War II. As Winston Churchill said: “Before Alamein we never had a victory. After Alamein we never had a defeat.”

The battle of Stalingrad began three weeks later.

The war ended the most severe persecution of the Church in Russia, but not communism.

Only in 1984, after he had survived the assassination attempt on St. Peter’s Square on May 13, 1981, the 74th anniversary of the first apparition, Pope John Paul II consecrated Russia and the World in union with all the bishops, as requested by Our Lady.

At that time, one of the three shepherd children of Fatima, Lucia was still alive; she died in 2005. She became a nun, entered the Carmel in 1948 and had several visions and received messages of Our Lady.

She believed, based on those messages, that the Third World War, a devastating nuclear war, would have broken out in 1985, if the request of Our Lady wouldn’t have been fulfilled before.

But instead in 1985, one year after the solemn consecration, Michail Gorbachev came in power and started his perestroika.

In 1988, all liberties of the Church were restored, in 1991 the communist Soviet Union collapsed.

What followed was the greatest miracle of our times. The atheist, materialist Soviet Russia converted and became orthodox again!

Q: But there are those who doubt that the consecration was valid and that Russia indeed converted…

Hesemann: Well, indeed there are some crazy Fatima-conspiracy-theorists. They believe that Sister Lucia was killed and replaced by a double and indeed her teeth look different on photos from the 1930s and the 1960s or 1990s. But this has a simple reason.

In 1947 she had a dental inflammation and her dentist had to remove all her teeth and replace them with artificial teeth. All her relatives, who were allowed to visit Sr. Lucia for all her life, testify that she was still the shepherd girl from Fatima.

The same conspiracy theorists claim that the consecration was invalid, although Sr. Lucia stated the opposite several times in writing, in person and even on camera, filmed by her interpreter Carlos Evaristo.

I personally asked her niece, who visited her regularly, and she confirmed to me that Sr. Lucia always said: “Our Lady has promised that Russia would convert and see, what happened? It converted!”

Indeed it is the most impressive conversion in history. They built or reopened 29,000 churches in only 28 years, three every day! (Editor’s Note: 28 years times 365 days equals 10,220 days; therefore, to open 29,000 churches over those 28 years meas that about three churches a day have been opened every day for 28 years).

The number of monasteries grew from 15 to 788, the number of faithful from below 50 Million in 1990 to over 113 million today. And today, 82% of all Russians follow Orthodox Christianity. The Russian state spends more than $100 million every year for the restoration of churches destroyed or misused by the Communists. The 500 theological seminaries are full of young men who follow their vocation.

I can testify to this immense conversion, since I visited St. Petersburg and Moscow last year. I heard Orthodox chants right on the Red Square. They rebuilt the Cathedral of Our Lady of Kazan, destroyed by the communists, and transmit all liturgies and prayers with loudspeakers on the square five times a day. Lenin surely is rolling over in his mausoleum — it’s an exorcism!

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 13- "On despondency"

1. As we have already frequently said, this- we mean despondency- is very often one of the branches of talkativeness, and its first child. And so we have given it its appropriate place in this chain of vices.

May 10, 2017

(Luk 1:46-48) And Mary said: My soul doth magnify the Lord. And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. Because he hath regarded the humility of his handmaid: for behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.


Interview with Monsignor Mario Senigaglia Secretary of Alberto Luciani Patriarch of Venice and future Pope John Paul I

Q:A moment... let’s make sure we understand the facts from the beginning. Where does this noblewoman come from? And why did Luciani go to Fatima? Was there a reason, an anniversary…

Senigaglia: No. No particular reason. He went to Fatima simply on a pilgrimage. Every year, here in Venice, the Jesuit Father Leandro Tiveron, who was also Luciani’s confessor, organized a pilgrimage to some Marian shrine. And that year he decided on Fatima. Luciani had been to Lourdes on different occasions. Instead he had never been to Fatima. Father Tiveron suggested going and he agreeed. So the Patriarch joined the party of pilgrims. Around fifty of them. On 10 July (1977) they visited the shrine and took part in the Eucharistic celebration in Fatima. And the following day they moved to Coimbra to attend mass in the convent of the Carmelite nuns. The Marquise de Cadaval had links with the convent and she herself proposed and organized the stop-over at the cloistered convent of Coimbra.
Q: And how come this noblewoman was so familiar with the convent of Coimbra as to have access even to the cloister?

Senigaglia: The Marquise de Cadaval had married a Portuguese, a landowner from the south. She was a woman of high culture and sensibility but also of deep compassion, and during her stays in Portugal worked for the Red Cross at the sanctuary of Fatima, very soon becoming benefactress of the convent of Coimbra. There she had the opportunity to meet Sister Lucia, with whom she established a close relationship of trust. For years she was her collaborator. She helped Sister Lucia with the translations of her correspondence. During the war she even had the task of taking messages, often memorized, to Pius XII and messages from him to Sister Lucia. Pacelli had known the marquise since the time of her youth. Marquise de Cadaval, in fact, had attended the university in Rome and was in good relations with the family of the future Pontiff. Thus she found herself also performing the role of ‘go-between’ for Sister Lucia and the Pope. In 1977 she was elderly, she’d have been over seventy years old.
Q: And how did the meeting go?

Senigaglia: The Marquise de Cadaval was already in the convent when the pilgrims arrived and had informed Sister Lucia of the presence of Patriarch Luciani. Come the moment, at the end of the Eucharistic celebration, she told the Patriarch that Sister Lucia would like to greet him. Along with the prioress of the convent they went into the cloister. The Marquise de Cadaval accompanied him to Sister Lucia and stayed with them. Seeing then that Luciani was able to understand Portuguese fairly well, she withdrew, and when the meeting was over accompanied him again to where his secretary Don Diego Lorenzi was waiting for him to go to lunch with the others.

Q: You met Luciani on his return from Fatima. What did he say to you?

Senigaglia: I remember going into his study and him saying: «Sit down». That meant he was in a mood to talk. He told me about the trip, of the atmosphere of genuine prayer and moving acts of penitence he’d witnessed in Fatima. Of the pilgrims who had joined in a long barefoot walk on the stones in the spianada, under the sun, and of the pious women who tended the feet of the pilgrims who needed it upon arrival. We spoke then of the difference from Lourdes and then again of these different forms of piety, and as the conversation went on, at a certain point, I asked him about Coimbra: «I know you were there and had occasion to meet Sister Lucia… ». And he: « Yes, yes I saw her … Ah! that blessed nun», he said, «she took my hands in hers and began to talk…». Then he remained in thought a little with hands joined, then continued: «… these blessed nuns when they begin to talk they never stop …». He told me however that she had not spoken about the apparitions and that he only asked her something about the famous “sun dance”.

POPE JOHN PAUL II (1982):  “And so, today, I am here. I have come in order to thank Divine Providence in this place which the Mother of God seems to have chosen in a particular way. … The mystery of the spiritual motherhood of Mary has been actualized boundlessly in history. The Lady of the message [of Fatima] seems to have read with special insight the ‘signs of the times,’ the signs of our time.”

ECHOES:  St. John Paul II visited Fatima three times, each on May 13, in 1982, 1991, and 2000.

His first pilgrimage happened on the first anniversary of Mehmet Ali Agca's attempt on his life and he pondered the "mysterious coincidence" that it occurred on Mary's feast day, knowing as he did the content of the then-still-secret third part of the Message of Fatima, describing that a bishop in white would be shot and killed. John Paul II believed that Mary's hand and Jacinta's prayers and sacrifices for the "poor holy father" saved his life from certain death after Agca's bullet pierced five vital organs. In his visit, he sought to help the Church and world grasp the "basic nucleus" of the Fatima message, Mary's solicitous, strong, decisive, loving, maternal call to repentance through prayer -- especially of the Rosary -- for the conversion and salvation of sinners. Consecrating ourselves to Mary, he stressed, means to accept her help and prayers as we entrust ourselves to the pierced heart of her Son. In the 65 years since Mary appeared, he said with concern, rather than heeding Mary's summons, many have gone in the opposite direction, allowing sin to make a home in their hearts and world. For that reason, Mary's call to conversion, he emphasized, was even "more relevant and urgent" than in 1917.

In 1991, he called Fatima a constant reference point for living the Gospel. He thanked Mary for "having guided with maternal tenderness peoples to freedom," a reference to the liberation of those in the former Soviet bloc from communism after Russia and the world were consecrated to her. He said that Mary's "palpable, penetrating call" is for us to adjust ourselves to God's ways so that she may give us and the world Christ, her Son, our peace. He exhorted all of us to "persevere in devotion to Mary."

In the Great Jubilee of 2000, St. John Paul came to beatify Francisco and Jacinta in the presence of their cousin and fellow seer, now Servant of God Sr. Lucia dos Santos. He focused on the totality with which they responded to the Mother of God, offering themselves as victims of reparation to console Jesus and atone for sins. He urged us to follow them in enrolling in Mary's "school," the sacred academy that helped them become "saints so quickly."

MORE: St John Paul II and Our Lady of Fatima

POPE BENEDICT XVI: "A stern warning has been launched from that place … a summons to the seriousness of life, of history, to the perils that threaten humanity."

ECHOES: The fifth Papal visit was in 2010, when Pope Benedict came as a pilgrim to initiate seven years of preparation for the centenary. Fatima, he said, isn't a footnote in history but rather has "imposed itself on the Church." Its forceful message involves not merely "particular devotions," but a "fundamental response" that involves ongoing conversion, penance, prayer, faith, hope and charity. Mary, he stressed, wants to help the Church "relearn" penance, purification, forgiveness and justice.

He added that "Fatima and the Rosary are practically synonymous," and urged us in praying the Rosary to imitate the "amazing" entrustment of the shepherd children and like them allow the mysteries of Christ attract us by fixing the gaze of our hearts on Jesus like Mary did.

"In seven years you will return here to celebrate the centenary of the first visit made by the Lady 'come from heaven,'" he told us in words that will be fulfilled in a week, and he urged us not to think that "Fatima's prophetic mission is complete," but to live these years of preparation by loving Jesus like the shepherds and hastening through Marian consecration the fulfillment of the prophecy of the triumph of Mary's immaculate heart.

Speaking about his pilgrimage six days later during his general audience in Rome, Pope Benedict commented on the connection between Fatima and heaven. "Fatima shows us," he said, that "earth is a place where we make pilgrimage to our definitive homeland and we need a mother to guide us.

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 12- "On lying"

9. One lies for sheer wantonness, another for amusement; one, to make the bystanders laugh; and another, to trap his brother and do him injury.

May 9, 2017

(Gen 3:15) I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed: she shall cursh thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel.


EXCERPT CATHOLIC HERALD: Fatima at 100: a history of the Marian apparitions

hile conversion and prayer are at the heart of Mary’s messages at Fatima, Portugal, the miracles and unexplained phenomenon that accompanied the events 100 years ago continue to intrigue believers and non-believers alike.

The apparitions of Mary at Fatima in 1917 were not the first supernatural events reported there – two years before Mary appeared to the three shepherd children – Lucia dos Santos and her cousins, Jacinta and Francisco Marto – they saw a strange sight while praying the rosary in the field, according to the memoirs of Sister Lucia, who had become a Carmelite nun.

“We had hardly begun when, there before our eyes, we saw a figure poised in the air above the trees; it looked like a statue made of snow, rendered almost transparent by the rays of the sun,” she wrote, describing what they saw in 1915.

The next year, Francisco and Jacinta received permission to tend their family’s flocks and Lucia decided to join her cousins in a field owned by their families. It was 1916 when the mysterious figure appeared again, this time approaching close enough “to distinguish its features.”

“Do not be afraid! I am the Angel of Peace. Pray with me,” Sister Lucia recalled the angel saying.

The three told no one about the angel’s visit and received no more heavenly visits until May 13, 1917. While the children tended their sheep and played, they were startled by two flashes of lightning.

As they made their way down a slope, the children saw a “lady all dressed in white” standing on a small tree. It was the first of six apparitions of Mary, who gave a particular message or revelation each time:

– May 13, 1917. When asked by the children who she was and where she came from, the lady said she was “from heaven” and that she would reveal her identity later. She asked the children to come back to the Cova da Iria on the 13th day of the month for the next six months, and she asked them to pray the rosary every day “in order to obtain peace for the world” and the end of World War I.

– June 13, 1917. The lady said she would take Francisco and Jacinta to heaven soon while Lucia would remain on earth for “some time longer” to establish devotion to the Immaculate Heart.

– July 13, 1917. The lady said she would reveal her identity in October and “perform a miracle for all to see and believe.” After telling the children to make sacrifices for sinners, she revealed three secrets; two of the secrets were not shared publicly until 1941 and the third secret, written down by Sister Lucia and sent to the Vatican, was not released until 2000.

Fatima Portugal 1917

: Paul VI: the first visit of a Pope to Fatima

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 12- "On lying"

8. We notice various degrees of harm in all the passions, and this is certainly the case with lying. There is one judgment for him who lies through fear of punishment, and another for him who lies when no danger is at hand.

May 8, 2017

(Rev 12:1) And a great sign appeared in heaven: A woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.

FATIMA: Approvals by the Popes

In 1917, as the First World War was being fought across Europe and showing no signs of concluding peacefully, Pope Benedict XV turned in petition to the Blessed Virgin Mary, through Whom all graces are dispensed. The Pope urgently asked all of the Christian people to beg the Virgin Mary to obtain the peace of the world, and to solemnly entrust the task to Her alone.

He wished the world to "have recourse to the Heart of Jesus, throne of graces, and to this throne to have recourse through the intermediary of Mary", and he ordered that the invocation ‘Queen of Peace, pray for us’ be permanently added to the Litany of Loreto. Then, confidently placing the peace of the world in Her hands, the Pope made another appeal:

To Mary, then, who is the Mother of Mercy and omnipotent by grace, let loving and devout appeal go up from every corner of the earth – from noble temples and tiniest chapels, from royal palaces and mansions of the rich as from the poorest hut – from blood-drenched plains and seas. Let it bear to Her the anguished cry of mothers and wives, the wailing of innocent little ones, the sighs of every generous heart: that Her most tender and benign solicitude may be moved and the peace we ask for be obtained for our agitated world.

The gracious Virgin responded quickly to the urgent pleas of the Pope: only eight days later She appeared at Fatima and gave to the Pope and humanity a plan for peace. However, this plan first required the obedience of the people and especially of Christ’s Vicar on earth, the Pope. God and the Blessed Virgin agreed to give the world peace, but since it was the Pope who asked to be shown the way to peace, his cooperation in the designs of Heaven became requisite.

Thus, from the beginning the Holy Father has had a specific role in the Message of Fatima: because of his insistence God sent His holy Mother to Fatima; and when the Pope fulfills God’s demands, the Blessed Virgin will bring peace to the world. Therefore, because their role in the Fatima Message is so primary, let us examine how the Popes have approved of and promoted Fatima.


BLOG: Pope Pius XII and Fatima

Pope Pius XII is not generally singled out as a “Fatima Pope”, and yet certain important biographical dates in his life have an interesting coincidence with events that occurred at Fatima. For instance: “On 13th May 1917, while the Mother of God was appearing in Fatima, announcing to the world her message of peace and conversion and warning humanity about the terrible crises of the 20th century, in the Sistine Chapel in Rome from which he would emerge years later as the Successor of Peter, the Nuncio Eugenio Pacelli, the future Pius XII, was being consecrated Archbishop by Pope Benedict XV.

In the perspective of Faith, as we know, nothing happens by chance, and some apparently chance occurrences are indicative signs of a providential course of events. Nor, we believe, was it a chance occurrence that the burial of Eugenio Pacelli took place on 13th October 1958, the anniversary of the last apparition in Fatima. A further, clear confirmation of Mary’s desire to accompany that faithful son of hers to the threshold of eternity.” (Quoted by Emilia Paola Pacelli)

According to Pope Pius XII’s own testimony in a handwritten, unpublished note (later discovered in the Pacelli family archives), the Pope who declared the dogma of the Assumption, saw the “miracle of the sun” four times! Pius XII’s note describes the miracle and stated: “I have seen the ‘miracle of the sun’, this is the pure truth”. These visions took place in the year he was to proclaim the dogma of the Assumption, 1950, while he walked in the Vatican Gardens, “the 31st of October and Nov. 1, the day of the definition of the dogma of the Assumption, and then again Nov. 8, and after that, no more” […] considering it a confirmation of his plan to declare the dogma.

The Pope acknowledged that on other days at about the same hour, he tried to see if the phenomenon would be repeated, “but in vain – I couldn’t fix my gaze [on the sun] for even an instant; my eyes would be dazzled.”

Pius XII spoke about the incident with a few cardinals and close collaborators, such that Sister Pascalina Lehnert, the nun in charge of the papal apartments, declared that “Pius XII was very convinced of the reality of the extraordinary phenomenon, which he had seen on four occasions.”

As Pope, in 1940, he approved the Fatima apparitions, and in 1942, consecrated the entire world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

As well, Pius XII often spoke with Sister Lucia, the visionary of Fatima, and he asked her to transcribe the messages she received from the Virgin. He thus became the first Pope to know the “third secret of Fatima,” which Pope John Paul II would later make public. (Adapted from an article in Zenit, Nov. 2008.)

VIA FATHER HARDON, S.J.: Fatima and the Immaculate Heart of Mary

Fatima owes its present popularity in the Church very largely to the interest and encouragement of Pope Pius XII. Although the bishops of Portugal had authorized the cultus of Our Lady of Fatima in 1930, and Pius XI made an implicit reference to the "extra-ordinary benefits with which the Blessed Virgin recently favored" Portugal, it was Pius XII among the Popes who first explicitly referred to Fatima in a formal papal document. Pleading for more vocations to the missions, he wrote in 1940, "Let the faithful, when reciting the Rosary so strongly recommended by Our Lady of Fatima, not omit to address an invocation to the Blessed Virgin in favor of missionary vocations" (L’Osservatore, June 29, 1940). This was so significant that the Portuguese Hierarchy in 1942 were able to say, "We are happy to see the Supreme Authority of the Vicar of Jesus Christ evoke thus the testimony of Fatima, and proclaim Urbi et orbi the name of Our Lady of Fatima in an Apostolic Letter addressed to the Portuguese Bishops, but published for the whole world" (Da Cruz, Fatima, 1949, 99).

On October 31, 1942, the Holy Father associated himself with the closing celebrations of the Jubilee of Fatima, by consecrating the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary as Our Lady of Fatima had requested. And in the same year he extended the Office and Mass of the Immaculate Heart to the Universal Church, appointing the 22nd of August as the feast day. More recently Pope Pius XII sent, for the second time, an official delegate to Fatima, to represent, as he said, "Our own person at the shrine of the Virgin of Fatima, to act in Our own name, and to preside with Our authority" (A.A.S., 43, 781). Cardinal Tedeschini, archpriest of St. Peter's Basilica, was the papal legate who assisted at the Fatima celebration on October 13, 1951, when more than a million pilgrims came to the Portuguese shrine.

In his own radio message to the pilgrims, the Holy Father emphasized one practical aspect of the message of Fatima which deserves to be better known: the Family Rosary. "The Virgin Mother's insistence on the recitation of the family Rosary," he said, "was meant to teach us that the secret of peace in family life lies in imitating the virtues of the Holy Family" (A.A.S., 43, 801).

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 12- "On lying"

7. He who has obtained the fear of the Lord has forsaken lying, having within himself an incorruptible judge- his own conscience

May 5, 2017  

(1Co 15:17-22) And if Christ be not risen again, your faith is vain: for you are yet in your sins. Then they also that are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now Christ is risen from the dead, the firstfruits of them that sleep: For by a man came death: and by a man the resurrection of the dead. And as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive.

POPE FRANCIS: “The joy of the Gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. Those who accept his offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness and loneliness. With Christ joy is constantly born anew.”


Bypassing Paschal Joy or Why Are We Never Happy?


...Christ's Resurrection is the foundation of our entire life, of all of our hopes and our common faith in Him, and it is the foundation of hope for all mankind.  For, as the Apostle said, "…if Christ be not Risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain." All that we say regarding the Lord, all that we affirm about him, all in which we hope, all about which we pray, all is in vain if Christ be not Risen.

The fact of Christ's Resurrection from the dead is of course an unusual event, a miracle, but it is not in that fact that lies its greatness, and it is not that miracle that is the reason for our rejoicing.  God is ever capable of working incredible miracles.  The cause of our rejoicing and hope lies in the fact that Christ the Only-begotten rose from the dead, Christ was Risen so that we might have life eternal.  Christ was Risen so that after their corruption and death people might also be risen into life eternal.

That joy, that gladness should be exemplary joy and gladness.  As we say, Christianity is love, not love in general, not some illusory, sentimental, love towards all.  When we say that God is Love, we thereby affirm that He loves the human race.  When we say that we must have love, we thereby affirm that our love must be concrete and specific, exemplary, and must be actively expressed in our human interactions.  The Apostle said, "If a man say that I love God, and hateth his brother (i.e. not only his brother by blood, but any other person), he is a liar. " How can you love God, Whom you do not see, and not love your brother, whom you can see?  Thus, love is an active, and absolutely concrete and specific love.  We must have love for all who are near to us, those whom we encounter, those who have dealings with us; we cannot have love for something remote and incomprehensible e.g. we cannot say "I love God, the human race, people, but I hate this particular person." That is not love.

The same applies to joy.  Joy is not merely the rejoicing and gladness in a person's soul, exultation for the sake of exultation, rejoicing for the sake of rejoicing, rejoicing for its own sake.  No.  Joy and gladness, jubilation, is the expression of our joy over and on account of Christ's Resurrection.  However, it is an expression that is outwardly displayed, for when someone is glad and rejoices, he is incapable of containing that joy. If you really rejoice over something, just try to suppress it, to keep it within and not show it. That is impossible.  It is easier to suppress our enmity and keep it to ourselves.  Joy is revealed and displayed, jubilation pours out of us, and is directed at something.  Joy cannot be a selfish or jealous, egotistical joy. To say "I rejoice that I feel good, I rejoice because Christ is Risen and I will be resurrected and be saved,"is not true rejoicing.  Rather, I rejoice because all of us, all of you, all of my relatives and friends, all of my neighbors, all of my enemies, all who do not love me, all will benefit.  Christ suffered and died for everyone, Christ was Risen for everyone, and the joy I experience in His Resurrection is not something to do with me alone, to my personal salvation,  to my benefit and success, but is pertinent to the joy, salvation, and happiness of all people, even those whom I perhaps do not like. Thus, Paschal joy, joy over the Resurrection of Christ, Christian joy, is always an active joy, a communal joy, and is always joy not for oneself  but for all of us.

MORE: Five Rules of Paschal Joy

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 12- "On lying"

7. He who has obtained the fear of the Lord has forsaken lying, having within himself an incorruptible judge- his own conscience

May 3, 2017

(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.


ACN: Priest was ISIS captive: 'I am journeying towards freedom'

On Aug. 4 2015, ISIS took control of Karyatayn and then the next morning, at dawn, took a group of Christians hostage, some 250 people, brought from a region close to Palmyra. Obviously, we didn’t know anything about what was going on, since we had been cut off from the world. On Aug. 11 a Saudi sheik came into our cell. He spoke to me, saying, “You are Baba Jacques? Come with me! They’ve been battering our ears talking about you!”

We drove through the desert for about four hours. When we arrived in a compound enclosed by a huge iron gate, the Christians of Karyatayn were around me, astonished to see me. It was a moment of unspeakable suffering for me, and for them an extraordinary moment of joy and pain. Of joy because they never expected to see me survive, and of pain because of the conditions in which we had met again.

20 days later, on Sept. 1, they brought us back to Karyatayn, free again, but forbidden to leave the town. To put it another way, it was a return to life, but not yet to liberty. But already a return to life—what a miracle! I could not help but marvel at it!

We were even allowed to celebrate our religious rites, on condition we did not advertise the fact. A few days later, when one of my parishioners died of cancer, we went to the cemetery, close to the monastery of Mar Elian. It was only then that I discovered it had been destroyed. Strangely, I felt no reaction. On Sept. 9, the feast of Mar Elian (Saint Julian of Edessa), I realized that Mar Elian had sacrificed his monastery and his tomb in order to save us.

CNA: Jim Caviezel takes on wide slate of topics in fascinating new interview

Q: You were 33 years old, your initials were J.C. and you played Jesus.

A: Don’t you tell me it was a coincidence! There are no coincidences. I keep hearing about “accidents” and “strokes of luck.” Secularization affects the entire world, including the USA. Only atheists believe in coincidence. There are no coincidences for God. Even when God resurrects the dead, they will say it happened by accident.

Q: When one doesn’t believe in God, one believes in anything. G.K. Chesterton claimed that.

A: At the same time, one doesn’t have the right to do what they like and decide about everything. Live without morality? Without goodness? Where is love in all of this?

Q: Maybe that is the reason why they killed God, like Nietzsche. When there is no God, they can do what they want.

A: We can see that in America every day.

Q: It’s even more visible in Europe. The founding fathers of America could not imagine it without God. The French Revolution started with killing the priests and spitting on Jesus. But let’s go back to Hollywood and your work. Mel Gibson warned you, when you took the role in his film, “You will not work here (in Hollywood) anymore.” To what extent was he right?

A: All of the sudden I stopped being one of five most popular actors in the studio, and I hadn’t done anything wrong. I just played Jesus. Was I personally affected by this rejection? Well, everyone has their cross to bear. The world changes…but I will not be in this world forever. Neither will the producers from Hollywood. At some point, everyone will have to answer for what they have done.

: Antonin Scalia’s Catholic Priest Son Doesn’t Like Being Called a Conservative

Q: The Diocese of Arlington has a reputation of being rather conservative. Was that true as long as you can remember?

A: I don’t like the term conservative. That’s a political category. I guess you could say traditional, but then every Catholic is traditional, or ought to be, because we have to be rooted in the tradition of the Church. So I don’t like those categories, because it sounds like tradition is an option. It feeds into stereotypes. The fact of the matter is that if you’re adhering to the Church’s teachings, there’s always going to be someone who thinks you are too traditional or not traditional enough.

: This has been a discussion since the ’80s—how much to bring religion into the public square.

A: This has been a discussion since the Pharisees, since Our Lord said, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and give to God what is God’s.” Saint Ambrose addressed this with the emperor; Thomas More addressed this with Henry VIII. What are the lines, and what are the limits?  The role of the Church is to inform the conscience, not to draft legislation. But we have a right to live out our faith publicly. It can’t be confined to the Church or school—thus far, no further. That doesn’t comport with our human freedom.

Q: Whether or not you feel the need, do you think eyes are upon you? Do you think there’s an expectation that you’ll speak out on the topics that Father Neuhaus did? Even your father started to talk more openly toward the end of his life about faith and the country.

A: I don’t feel that. My purpose is for the care of souls. My concern is for the care of souls as a priest. That may step into the national conversation, but that’s only in pursuit of the care of souls. That’s not an end in itself. There are plenty of people who do that, and it’s fine, but as a priest my concern is not to be a cultural commentator or an observer of the national scene.

CATHOLIC CULTURE: Personal testimonies: Effective ways to deepen faith


Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 12- "On lying"

4. I have seen some who, priding themselves on their skill in lying, and exciting laughter by their jests and twaddle, have pitiably destroyed in their hearers the habit of mourning.

May 1, 2017

(Joh 13:34-35) A new commandment I give unto you: That you love one another, as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one for another.

POPE FRANCIS: "God is pleased only by a faith that is proclaimed by our lives, for the only fanaticism believers can have is that of charity. Any other fanaticism does not come from God and is not pleasing to him."

HEADLINE: Pope leads open-air Mass in Egypt, urges tolerance

: Violence Cannot be Committed in Name of God: Pope Francis

Pope Francis, head of the Roman Catholic Church, delivered a speech on Friday at Al-Azhar International Peace Conference saying that violence cannot be committed in the name of god.

He added that all acts of violence that oppose peace only fuel radicalism and lead to violence. The pope said, “The future principally relies on the dialogue between all religions”.

He further continued that peace can only be achieved when the role of religions is acknowledged and people start to differentiate between religions and politics.

The Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Ahmed Al-Tayeb welcomed Pope Francis to Egypt and started his speech by paying tribute to all the victims of terrorism all around the world, regardless their religions and nationalities.

Al-Tayeb said the absence of religion is the reason behind the deterioration of human rights and dignity of people in a world that is full of human rights and security councils.

“People have ignored religions. However, the principles of religions that call for respect, dignity, peace and love are constants,” Al-Tayeb said.

The Grand Imam went on to say that Islam cannot be judged because a small group of people who believe in the religion is committing acts of violence.

“We can’t say Christianity is a bad religion based on wars that erupted in the name of the holy cross. We can’t say Judaism is a bad religion because some of its followers chose to invade and kill. The same goes to European and American civilizations that witnessed world wars and the nuclear bombs of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. These acts are not an indicator of how great these civilizations are,” Al-Tayeb concluded.


Pope in Egypt: Catholics and Copts recognise shared baptism
Egyptians filled with hope by Pope Francis' message of peace
Pope Francis sends video message ahead of Egypt visit

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 12- "On lying"

3. Let no one who thinks rightly suppose that the sin of lying is a small matter, for the All Holy Spirit pronounced the most awful sentence of all against it, above all sins. If Thou wilt destroy all that speak a lie, as David says to God (Psalm 5:4), what will they suffer who stitch an oath on to a lie?
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Jubilee 2000: Bringing the World to Jesus

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