Keep your eyes open!...


August 21, 2017  

(Gen 1:14-15) And God said: Let there be lights made in the firmament of heaven, to divide the day and the night, and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days and years: To shine in the firmament of heaven, and to give light upon the earth, and it was so done.


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CATHOLIC EXCHANGE: Mary and the Great American Solar Eclipse

FR RICHARD HEILMAN: Striking Phenomena During this Centennial Year of Fatima

EXCERPT ALETEIA: The Surprising Liturgical Coincidence of the Solar Eclipse

While the upcoming solar eclipse may not be a sign of the “end times,” it does occur on a significant day and year of the Church’s liturgical calendar.

The eclipse will occur on August 21. The primary feast for this day is Saint Pius X, a pope who chose the motto “to renew all things in Christ.” He is most well known for lowering the age of Holy Communion and said, “Holy Communion is the shortest and safest way to Heaven.”

Another celebration on August 21 in the Church’s calendar is Our Lady of Knock. It was on August 21, 1879 that the Virgin Mary appeared to 15 people in a small parish church in Ireland. Three figures appeared, that of the Blessed Virgin, St. Joseph and St. John. Furthermore, a witness described, “Above the altar and resting on it was a lamb and around it I saw golden stars, or small brilliant lights, glittering like jets or glass balls, reflecting the light of some luminous body.” Additionally, “a farmer in the distance, about half a mile away from the scene, went out to have a look at his land. He saw something that attracted his attention; he described what he saw as a large globe of golden light.”

What’s interesting is that Our Lady of Knock spoke no words as at other of her appearances. Soon after, cures were reported at the site of the apparition and Our Lady of Knock is still strengthening the faith of the Irish and other devotees from around the world.

Last of all the solar eclipse occurs during the year of the 100th anniversary of Fatima. The famous apparitions of Mary ended with one last “Miracle of the Sun” that occurred on October 13, 1917. People describe what they saw that day as the sun “dancing” in the sky; they were able to gaze at the sun without hurting their eyes. It was a miracle witnessed by thousands of people.

In Christian symbolism the moon is often seen as a symbol of the Virgin Mary, since it reflects the light of the sun just as she reflects the light of the Son of God. At the same time, in Revelation she is described as, “clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet” (Revelation 12:1).

All of these events and symbolism can come to mind on Aug. 21 as we enjoy the eclipse (take the needed precautions to protect your eyes!), remembering Mary’s role in Salvation History. She is the one in whom we find refuge in times of trial and who intercedes on our behalf.

A MOMENT WITH MARY: In Knock, the Virgin appeared with Saint Joseph and Saint John

On the rainy Thursday evening of August 21, 1879, at about 9 o'clock in the evening, at Knock Mhuire (County Mayo, Ireland), Mary McLoughlin, 45, and Mary Byrne, 29, saw a vision of the Virgin at the south gable of Knock Parish Church. Surprised, the women alerted several others in the village. Sixteen more people ran to the place and all of them saw the Virgin for nearly two hours. Those who left and later returned continued to witness the apparition.

The Virgin stood about two feet from the ground. She was clothed in white robes with a brilliant crown on her head. She was in an attitude of prayer. Saint Joseph and Saint John the Evangelist stood at her side. The witnesses also saw an "altar" with a lamb and a cross. Although the witnesses standing before the gable were drenched, no rain fell in the direction of the gable. The apparition was fully silent, and physical cures followed it.

On the altar, the sacrificial Lamb evokes the sacrifice of Calvary, made present every day during Mass. Saint John the Evangelist appeared as a priest, designating Mary present at the foot of the Cross given by Christ as his Mother to the disciple by the words: "Woman, behold, your Son." Each one of us is called to become a member of Christ, and to participate with him and Mary in the mystery of Redemption.

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 15- "On incorruptible purity and chastity"

16. A fox pretends to be asleep, and the body and demons pretend to be chaste; the former in order to deceive a bird, and the latter in order to destroy a soul.

August 18, 2017  

(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.

BENEDICT XVI: “People say for the sake of negative tolerance [i.e. “not offending anyone”] there must be no crucifix in public buildings. With that we are basically experiencing the abolition of tolerance, for it means, after all, that religion, that the Catholic faith is no longer allowed to express itself visibly.”

EXCERPT CATHOLIC WORLD REPORT: Without Christian witness and culture, the West cannot resist Islam

Seventy-nine years ago, the indomitable Hilaire Belloc wrote The Great Heresies. Within that category, to the amazement of many a reader, he named Islam. Most commentators tend to regard Islam as a new religion appearing in the seventh century. Belloc thought otherwise. He maintained – and demonstrated very convincingly – that Islam is a heretical spin-off of Christianity. In actuality, the principal doctrines of Islam are appropriations of Old Testament teachings assumed into Christianity: the unicity of God, His transcendence, human immortality, divine justice and mercy. It denies, with a passion, all the “distinctives” of Christianity because, it seems, the Christians Mohammed encountered were Nestorians – themselves Christian heretics. Islamic theology is very simple: easy to understand and easy to practice. That said, having traveled extensively throughout the Middle East and North Africa, I must say that the level of theological ignorance of the average Muslim is even greater than that of the average Catholic!

How did Islam expand so rapidly, especially in Christian strongholds like North Africa? Belloc puts it succinctly: “It won battles.” Further, he prognosticated that Europe would become easy prey to Islamicization because “it has forgotten its nature in forgetting its religion.” As the European Union was being finalized, Pope John Paul II pleaded with the leaders to acknowledge – even in a sentence or two – the Christian roots of Europe. He was roundly ignored. Belloc saw in this attitude (already in place in his time) a European death wish which would result in “the return of Islam.” Belloc wasn’t Madame Zelda on the boardwalk gazing into tea leaves or crystal ball; he was merely an astute student of history and human nature. I don’t think he would take delight in saying to his European descendants, “I told you so!”

How else does Islam gain adherents, even suicide bombers? By highlighting the immorality of the secularized (pagan) West. Abortion, artificial contraception, same-sex “marriage”, pornography and gender theory are all abhorrent to “People of the Book” – or should be. Yet are those not the sacred cows of all liberal western democracies – constituting “the Great Satan”? As horrifying and despicable as the various ISIS-inspired attacks are, can we admit that much of what presents itself as “modern” culture is repugnant to the God of Revelation? Long before Charlie Hebdo in Paris made the fatal mistake of caricaturing Mohammed, it had been spewing blasphemies against Christ and His Church. Just before the massacre in the Paris concert hall, a Satanic song had been sung. Ariana Grande informed the tween girls at her concert about her sexploits with her latest boyfriend.

What I am saying is just this: If the Christian witness were strong, coherent and consistent, Islam would not gain a foothold.

Where does all this leave us?

Eastern European countries like Hungary and Poland, castigated by the EU for supposed insensitivity to immigrants, has shown the way firstly by strengthening their Christian identity; interestingly, one does not find jihadist assaults there. Poland’s bishops – and national leaders! – even rededicated their nation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

First, Catholics cannot afford to be deluded about the nature of a religion that almost equals Catholicism in number of worldwide adherents. While the Second Vatican Council’s Nostra Aetate identifies points of commonality between Islam and Christianity (as it does likewise for Judaism and other religions), that irenic presentation does not pretend to be the full story. Indeed, contrary to the theologically naive diocesan employee in Florida, there has never been any “official” teaching of the Church on Islam (or on any other religion, for that matter). Pick up Belloc’s book for a solid analysis of Islam, so that you can make an intelligent, informed contribution to much-needed interreligious conversations; such conversations cannot be conducted in any worthwhile way when we deal with fantasy, instead of reality. Another fine work is 111 Questions on Islam: Samir Khalil Samir S.J. on Islam and the West.

Second, and most importantly, we must do everything possible to return the secularized West to its Christian roots. That will happen one believer at a time. Our commitment to a biblical way of life will be the best response to Islamic extremism. After all, didn’t Our Lord tell us: “When a strong man, fully arms, guards his own palace, his goods are in peace” (Lk 11:21)?

CATHOLIC HERALD: Money can’t save German Catholicism

THE CATHOLIC THING: To Convert America

If anyone should want to convert America, or even his friends or himself, he must risk the death of love. At the present hour we are in a dark night of the Church. The usual ways are lost. There is little comfort in the visible Church now. The liturgy, set upon by thieves, is lying in the ditch; contemplatives are mouthing political slogans in the streets; nuns have lost their habits along with their virtues, virgins their virginity, confessors their consciences, theologians their minds. And, if this is true, it is a “happy chance!” – because there is absolutely no reason left to be Catholic now except the only one there ever really was – that in the invisible life of the Church you will find the love of Christ. But if the Church were lost? That can never be, because, as St. Peter said, there is a soft and gentle candle flame like the vigil light that burns beside the Blessed Sacrament, “a light that shineth in a dark place until the day dawn and the day star arise in your hearts.” “Lead, kindly light,” Newman had written:
Lead, kindly light, amid the encircling gloom,
Lead thou me on.
The night is dark and I am far from home,
Lead thou me on.
Keep thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene – one step enough for me.
“On a dark night, kindled in love with yearnings – O happy chance!” said St. John of the Cross.
The greatest need in the Church today is the contemplative life of monks and nuns. The arguments and public martyrdoms are vain without the sacrifice of hearts. And what are the arguments and sacrifices for, except to bring us to the love of God? Apologetic has the mind of Thomas and the sword of Paul and the heart of them both and all the saints including, let us hope, the least of us. The spiritual life is not just for the great saints; it is the ordinary way of salvation.

– from The Death of Christian Culture

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 15- "On incorruptible purity and chastity"

12. He who drives away this dog by prayer is like is like someone fighting with a lion; he who subdues it by resistance is someone still pursuing his enemy; but he who has once for all reduced its assault to nothing, even though he is still in the flesh, is as one who has already risen from his coffin.

August 15, 2017

(Luk 1:46-49) 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. Because he that is mighty hath done great things to me: and holy is his name.

EXCERPT: In her assumption Mary bridges for us our earthly and heavenly reality. Saint John Paul II affirmed also that “Mary contributes in a special way to the union of the pilgrim Church on earth, with the eschatological and heavenly reality of the Communion of Saints, since she has already been ‘assumed into heaven’” (Redemptoris Mater, 44). Mary, as Mother of the Church, is for us a sign of hope and a source of solace that the promise of eternal life is real, that the journey of this life will end for those who are faithful in the joy of heaven (see Lumen Gentium, 69).

: The Case for the Assumption of Mary

THE SHIELD OF FAITH: Padre Pio's Tribute to the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

BISHOP TOBIN: Mary's Assumption: A Sign of Hope

EXCERPT VATICAN RADIO: Pope Pius XII based his declaration of the Assumption on both tradition and theology. The uninterrupted tradition in the Eastern Churches starting from the first century, the apocryphal first century book, Transitus Mariae, and the writings of the early Fathers of the Church, such as St. Gregory and St. John Damascene, supported and promoted the popular belief in the Assumption of Mary. There is a tomb at the foot of the Mt. of Olives where ancient tradition says that Mary was laid. But there is nothing inside. There are no relics, as there are with the other saints. This is acceptable negative evidence of Mary’s Assumption. In addition, credible apparitions of Mary, though not recorded in the New Testament, have been recorded from the 3rd century till today.

In his decree on the Dogma of the Assumption, Pope Pius XII gives four theological reasons to support this traditional belief.

#1: The degeneration or decay of the body after death is the result of original sin. However, since, through a special intervention of God, Mary was born without original sin, it is not proper that God would permit her body to degenerate in the tomb. In other words, at the first moment of her life, by a very special privilege of God, Mary was preserved free from the stain of sin. At the last moment, by another very special privilege she was preserved free from the corruption of the grave.

#2: Since Mary was given the fullness of grace, Heaven is the proper place for this sinless mother of Jesus. Hence, unlike other saints, Our Lady is in Heaven not only with her soul but also with her glorified body.

#3: Mary was our co-redeemer, or fellow-redeemer, with Christ in a unique sense. Hence, her rightful place is with Christ our Redeemer in Heavenly glory. (The term co-redeemer or co-redemptrix means "cooperator with the Redeemer.” This is what St. Paul meant when he said, "We are God's co-workers" I Cor 3:9.). Hence, it is “fitting” that she should be given the full effects of the Redemption, the glorification of the soul and the body.

#4: In the Old Testament, we read that the prophet Elijah was taken into Heaven in a fiery chariot. Thus, it appears natural and possible that the mother of Jesus would also be taken into Heaven. The Mother of God was conceived without original sin. Consequently, she did not have to wait, like the rest of us, for the resurrection on the last day.

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 15- "On incorruptible purity and chastity"

7. Let no one thoroughly trained in purity attribute its attainment to himself. For it is impossible for anyone to conquer his own nature. When nature is defeated, it should be recognized that this is due to the presence of Him who is above nature. For beyond all dispute, the weaker gives way to the stronger.
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