Keep your eyes open!...


January 18, 2017  

(Psa 139:13-16) You formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother’s womb. I praise you, because I am wonderfully made; wonderful are your works! My very self you know.My bones are not hidden from you, When I was being made in secret, fashioned in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw me unformed; in your book all are written down; my days were shaped, before one came to be.

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

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

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

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

ALL: Archbishop Carlson Defends Life

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

January 16, 2017

(Joh 17:20-23) And not for them only do I pray, but for them also who through their word shall believe in me. That they all may be one, as thou, Father, in me, and I in thee; that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou hast given me, I have given to them: that, they may be one, as we also are one. I in them, and thou in me: that they may be made perfect in one: and the world may know that thou hast sent me and hast loved them, as thou hast also loved me.

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

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

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

Two Patron Saints of Christian Unity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

January 13, 2017

(Heb 3:12-14) Take heed, brethren, lest perhaps there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, to depart from the living God. But exhort one another every day, whilst it is called to day, that none of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we are made partakers of Christ: yet so, if we hold the beginning of his substance firm unto the end.

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


MARK MALLET BLOG: Christmas is Never Over

BLOG: One Priest’s Battle Plan for 2017

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

Some basic, practical suggestions:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now is the time.

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

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

January 11, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Mother & son survived two years under the thumb of the Islamic State
In Aleppo, the Heads of Christian Churches pray together for peace
Turkish bishop says Catholics are ‘afraid of coming to Mass’ after terror attacks

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

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

January 9, 2017

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

ARCHBISHOP CHAPUT: Building a bridge to others

CATHOLIC WORLD REPORT: The Epiphany and Evangelization

CATHOLIC JOURNAL: We Thank Him by Passing it On

MEDITATION: Thoughts by St Theophan (1815-1894)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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