Keep your eyes open!...


November 19, 2004


(Rev 19:14-16) And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, followed him on white horses. From his mouth issues a sharp sword with which to smite the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron; he will tread the wine press of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name inscribed, King of kings and Lord of lords.


"We are celebrating today the feast of Christ the King. And I do not go outside my role as a priest when I say that if anyone saw Christ’s kingdom in terms of a political program he would not have understood the supernatural purpose of the faith, and he would risk burdening consciences with weights which have nothing to do with Jesus, for his yoke is easy and his burden is light. Let us really love all men; let us love Christ above all; and then we cannot avoid loving the rightful freedom of others, living in harmony with them." (Christ is Passing By, 184)


Gospel Commentary: Christ the King
King as no other

Reflection by Father Ted

My dearest Lord Jesus, each day You want me to spend time with You in prayer.

You want me to pray to You.

You want me to pray to Your Father, who is my Father.

You want me to pray to Your Holy Spirit.

You have created me to know You and the Father and the Holy Spirit.

You have created me to love You and the Father and the Holy Spirit.

You have created me to serve You and the Father and the Holy Spirit.

You have created me to live with You and the Father and the Holy Sprit in heaven forever.

Each day You want me to begin with prayer - adoring You and the Father and the Holy Spirit; praising You and the Father and the Holy Spirit; thanking You and the Father and the Holy Spirit; and asking You and the Father and the Holy Spirit for the help to live the day according to Your divine will.

Each day You invite me to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass - being united with You in adoring Your Father - our Father.

Each day You invite me to receive You during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in Holy Communion - to enable me to experience a closer union with You and to give me the strength to do what You have planned for me to do.

Each day You request that I also spend time with You in Eucharistic Adoration. For You want me to become more and more united to You - and what better way than in this way.

Each day You want me to do read Your Holy Word - like today You had me read over the entire Book of Daniel. For You have so much to teach me in the Sacred Scripture.

Each day You want me to read some of the writings of Your holy ones - who under the guidance of Your Holy Spirit - have written much to help me to become the holy man that You desire me to be.

Each day You urge me to pursue a closer relationship with Your holy Mother - especially by praying the Mysteries of the Most Holy Rosary. She is also my mother - who desires to help me to become a holy son of the Father.

Each day You desire that I share with other brothers and sisters - as You have shared with me - enjoying them and enjoying what they have to offer to me, their brother.

Jesus, thank You for the opportunities that You offer to me each day.

May I live each day - striving to know You - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, striving to love You, and striving to serve You as You want.

Thoughts and Sayings of Saint Margaret Mary: The Holy Eucharist

24. My sole interest henceforth is the Sacred Heart of my Saviour, and I would die happy if I had procured It some honor, even at the cost of eternal suffering as a reward. Provided that I love Him and that He reigns, I am content.

November 18, 2004

(Jude 1:17-21) But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; they said to you, "In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions." It is these who set up divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit. But you, beloved, build yourselves up on your most holy faith; pray in the Holy Spirit; keep yourselves in the love of God; wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.


In the six months since voters put them in office, Spain's socialists have set in motion a dramatic public policy turnabout on what American voters might call moral issues, infuriating the Catholic Church and underscoring the diminishing influence of Christianity in European political life.

Zapatero's government has moved forward at a remarkable clip with proposals to legalize same-sex marriage, relax restrictions on abortion, allow embryonic stem-cell research, simplify divorce proceedings and greatly reduce the role of religious instruction in schools. In addition, some officials have discussed, but have not formally proposed, either curbing taxpayer funding of the Catholic Church or granting subsidies to other religions.

Juan Antonio Martinez Camino, spokesman for the Spanish Bishops Conference, said on television last month that allowing homosexual marriage was akin to "imposing a virus on society."

The government has set off "a violent cultural earthquake," complained Bishop Jesus Garcia Burrillo, of the northern city of Avila, in a pastoral letter this month. "It is not easy to find in history, in such a short space of time, so many changes affecting morality (except) in time of coups d'etat."

RELATED: Madrid Cardinal Rouco calls on laity not to fear marginalization and persecution

VIA Frank M. Rega:

This is from the second volume of Padre Pio's Letters, pp. 357-359. It is part of a letter written to Raffaelina Cerase of Foggia, on February 2, 1915. He is discussing the petition of the Lord's Prayer: "Give us this day our daily bread." His thoughts about Eucharistic abuses are transformed into a prayer to the Eternal Father. Sadly, his words are quite relevant today, 95 years later.
But what bread is this? In Jesus' request here, failing a better interpretation, I recognize primarily the Eucharist. Oh, the exceeding humility of this Man-God! He is one with the Father, He is the love and delight of the eternal Parent. Although He knew that everything He would do on earth would be pleasing and would be ratified by His Father in heaven, He asked leave to remain with us!

O Raffaelina, how exceedingly the Son loves us and at the same time what excessive humility is His in asking the Father to allow Him to remain with us until the end of the world! Again, what exceeding love has the Father for us, when He has seen Him subjected to such dreadful treatment and still permits this beloved Son of His to remain among us, to be the target of fresh insults every day!

How could this good Father ever agree to all this? Was it not sufficient, O Eternal Father, to have permitted just once that Your beloved Son should be left a prey to the anger of His Jewish enemies? How could You ever agree to His being left among us still, to see Him every day in the unworthy hands of so many dreadful priests, worse than His Jewish enemies themselves? How can Your most merciful heart, O Father, bear to see Your Only Begotten Son so neglected by many unworthy Christians? How can you consent, O Father, to His being sacrilegiously received by so many unworthy Christians?

O holy Father, how many profanations, how many sacrileges must Your merciful heart still tolerate! Who, then, O God, is to take up the defense of this most meek Lamb who never opens His mouth to defend Himself but speaks on our behalf alone? Ah, Father, I cannot ask you now to remove Jesus from among men, for I am too selfish; and how could I who am so weak and half-hearted live without this Eucharistic food? How could I fulfill that petition made by Your Son in our name: Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven, if I did not receive strength from this immaculate flesh? Even now, with the powerful help which Jesus has left us in this sacrament of love, I often feel I am on the point of wavering and rebelling against Your will, so what would become of me if I asked You and You answered my request to take Jesus away from men so that He would not be treated so badly?

Thoughts and Sayings of Saint Margaret Mary: The Holy Eucharist

23. He has so fashioned and destined me for His all-lovable Heart, that He alone is all my joy, my consolation, my treasure and my happiness; and apart from Him all else is as nothing to me.

November 17, 2004

(Rev 3:5) He that shall overcome shall thus be clothed in white garments: and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life. And I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels.

SERMON BY FATHER ALTIER: Reading (Revelation 3:1-6, 14-22)   Gospel (St. Luke 19:1-10)

In the first reading today, we hear (as the Spirit continues to speak to the seven churches of Asia) some of the problems that all of us will deal with in the spiritual life. It has been pointed out by many commentators that as you look at the various characteristics that are listed about each of the churches, somewhere in there is every possible way that a person can be in the spiritual life. That is, a person can be completely faithful as we saw yesterday, someone who starts out with a great love for the Lord and then loses it. We have the one who is completely a phony like the one today from Sardis where He says, I know your reputation of being hot when in fact you are cold. And then we have the one from Laodicea who is just lukewarm and is going to be spit out of Our Lord’s mouth.

We can look at our own selves in some of these things. We can ask, “Was I once on fire with love for the Lord, and has that fire now cooled? Do I try to put up a nice front and look good when in fact there’s really not that much there? Am I just simply lukewarm? Do I sit back like the one in Laodicea and say, ‘I’m rich and affluent and I have no need of anything,’ when in fact, as He says, You are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked?” The problem is, if we look at our money, we forget to look at God because we do not really want to, because we know what God is going to say to us. So we see there are all these possibilities of the way that we stand in the spiritual life.

What we have to all be about is seeking to truly love the Lord. We have to ask ourselves, “Have I somehow put on the brakes in my relationship with Christ? Maybe things were getting a little too deep for comfort, and therefore I will continue to live externally according to the faith, but internally I’m not willing to open my heart any further to Him.” Are we just simply going through the motions and being lukewarm? Are we getting caught up in worldly things rather than in spiritual things? All of these things we can look at and ask ourselves, “Where do I stand in the spiritual life?” What we need to do then is look at the Gospel and learn from the example of Zacchaeus, who is not anything unlike us. I guess we could say that spiritually we are all short of stature. We are not able to see very well because spiritually most of us do not stand very tall. So Zacchaeus, wanting to see the Lord, scampered up the tree – but that was not enough. All of us would like to see Jesus, but that is not what it is about, to lay eyes on Him; this is about repenting and changing our lives. That is exactly what Zacchaeus did. He came down and said, “I will give half of my belongings to the poor, and if I have cheated anyone I will repay them fourfold.”

Again, we can look at our own selves and ask, “What is it that we really want in our relationship with Christ?” Number one, do we even want a relationship with Christ? Or do we just want to see Him from afar to be able to say, “I laid eyes on Him,” but we do not really want to be in a relationship with Him? Are we willing to truly repent? Or do we just want to be somewhat close without ever changing our lives? We can look at those sorts of questions and realize these are the exact same points that are coming up in the Book of Revelation to the seven churches. Once again, we need to go back and look at those things right in the first chapter of the Book of Revelation (and the second and third, as well) and ask ourselves, “Where do I fit?” because the word spoken to these seven churches are spoken also to us. We realize that the Lord is calling us to a deeper relationship with Himself, and He tells us that if anyone hears His voice and opens the door He will come and dine with them, that the victor will walk in white robes, that they will receive a new name, and all the promises that are made to those who are willing to serve the Lord, those who are willing to draw near to Him in love, those who are willing to enter into their hearts and unite themselves with Christ. But for those who are lukewarm, those who keep the Lord at a distance, those who have fallen away from their early love, and all the other things, there are condemnations that are attached to them.

So we realize what Our Lord is saying is that it not enough to look good. It is not enough to go through the external motions. We have to draw near or we are going to lose what we are seeking. We are going to see Jesus from afar, but we are not going to enter into heaven. And what good is that? Imagine if the most you could do is tell your grandchildren that one day from afar you happened to see the Pope. What if you had the opportunity to meet him, to talk with him, to change your life, but you decided you did not want to do that because all you really wanted to do was lay eyes on Him? What good does it do? That is exactly what we are doing to Jesus. So that is the choice we need to make: Do we just want to see Him from afar or do we really want a relationship with Him? He wants a relationship with us, and He is making it clear that that is what our salvation is dependent on. What we have to do now is get down from the tree and open the door because the Lord wants to stay in our house, in our hearts. But before He can, we have to repent and we have to open our hearts and let Him in.

Thoughts and Sayings of Saint Margaret Mary: The Holy Eucharist

22. Were it but possible for me to reveal the infinite riches that are hidden in this precious treasure, with which He enriches and benefits His faithful friends! Could we but understand, we should spare no pains to procure Him the satisfaction He so ardently desires.

November 16, 2004

(Heb 10:23-25) Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.


The nation's Catholic bishops opened their annual meeting Monday with plans to take their pleas for loyalty to traditional church teachings directly to the 67 million Catholics across the United States.

Facing deep divisions in their church over issues ranging from abortion to gay rights, the bishops talked about issuing three major pastoral messages. Pending final votes before they adjourn on Thursday, the messages likely will be a pair of pastoral letters on marriage and on the proper use of the Bible, plus a new book-length summary of all church teachings, called "The United States Catholic Catechism for Adults."

"This is the cutting edge of what we need to do," Detroit Cardinal Adam Maida said. "We've got to take our faith directly back to our people."

Bishops nationwide agreed.

"We're trying to reach young adults who have drifted away and ... invite these seekers back," said Pittsburgh Bishop Donald Wuerl, the head of the editorial team working on the catechism.

The catechism is likely the first of the three messages that Catholics will see and may be published as early as late next year, pending final approval by the Vatican.


Father Frank A. Pavone, Director of Priests for Life, was honored for his dedication to the pro-life cause at a banquet attended by over 500, held near Buffalo, NY on Sunday, Nov. 14, by the Association for the Arch of Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and International Shrine of the Holy Innocents, a lay Catholic association that is working to erect the world's tallest monument as a tribute to Mary, and the triumph of her Immaculate Heart which she prophesied at Fatima in 1917.

In his address, Father Pavone responded to an article appearing in the November 9 Buffalo News, that reported his visit there and stated that in the pre-election season, "Pavone and other conservative religious leaders did the kind of work normally associated with political parties."

Father Pavone commented, "I continue to be amazed that some people seem to think it is inappropriate for the Church to speak up against baby killing—dismembering a child. I am not ashamed to appear to be opposed to a party that says it is okay to crush the heads of babies. Something is very wrong when one's loyalty to a political party is greater than one's loyalty to God and fundamental human rights." Pavone insisted, "If anyone threatens me with a report to the IRS, I say to them, 'Bring them in—we will bring them in ourselves,'" adding: "We still have the freedom of expression in this country and the best way to protect it is to exercise it without fear. We have the right to speak up against injustice, no matter whom we offend." He said that "if the political parties and candidates swap positions tomorrow on the fundamental right to life issue, our message would not change," which he said proves that Priests for Life does not support a political party. Pavone stated: "We have a message that goes far beyond any political party—we have a message that is eternal and reaches from one end of the universe to the other: That every human life is a manifestation of the glory of God, and that an attack on any human life is an attack on God Himself."

Respecting the proposed Marian Arch of Triumph and Holy Innocents shrine, Pavone said, "One reason I have wanted to support the Arch of Triumph project from the beginning--a very simple reason--is that the pro-life message in the many different ways it is conveyed is often very easy to ignore. We will never reach the numbers of people we have to reach and convert, if reaching them depends on their voluntary consent. We have to go beyond that. Imagine once this massive structure is standing there, and so many people who have no intention of thinking about life and the sacredness of life, or the Blessed Virgin Mary, or even God Himself, nevertheless will be confronted with this massive structure. We have to reach the unwilling audience, because there are things they need to know that they may not even know that they need to know, but they need it nevertheless."

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Thoughts and Sayings of Saint Margaret Mary: The Holy Eucharist

21. Would that I could exhaust myself in acts of thanksgiving and gratitude towards this divine Heart, for the great favor He shows us, in deigning to accept our help to make Him known, loved and honored; He reserves infinite blessings for all those who devote themselves to this work.

November 12, 2004


(John 20:22-23) When he had said this, he breathed on them; and he said to them: Receive ye the Holy Ghost. Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them: and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained.


VIA Nadine:

By the late Father Kilian McGowan, C.P.

Why do so many look upon Confession merely as a preparation for Holy Communion? They are almost afraid to approach our Lord in the Eucharist without Confession, even though they have no serious sin on their souls. And what is worse, were Holy Communion made impossible they would abandon their plans for Confession.

This lopsided theology overlooks the fact that Penance is a great Sacrament in its own right with many wondrous effects. In his encyclical on the Mystical Body, Pius the XII summed them up "To hasten daily progress along the road to virtue," the saintly Pontiff wrote, "we wish the pious practice of frequent confession to be earnestly advocated. Not without inspiration of the Holy Spirit was this practice introduced into the Church..."

"By it genuine self-knowledge is increased -- Christian humility grows -- bad habits are corrected -- spiritual neglect and tepidity are countered -- the conscience is purified -- the will is strengthened -- a salutary self-control is attained -- and grace is increased in virtue of the sacrament itself."

Genuine self-knowledge is increased. How difficult it is to gain even a slight insight into the motivations for our actions! It's amazing, too, how many self-deceits we can indulge in by refusing to face up to the fact that we are sinners. This sacrament leads us to a healthy and wholesome consciousness of our sinfulness, thus making us also more compassionate of the failings of our fellowman.

Christian humility grows. Because humility is truth and this sacrament aids us to see ourselves exactly as we are in the sight of God. We should never look at our sins without looking at the Merciful Savior at the same time, else the weight of our sins could distract us from the healing mercy of God. That would be disastrous to your spiritual life!

Bad habits are corrected. Confession has a preservative function as well as a healing one. It does more than make us examine our habitual faults and seek out their causes; it tackles the problem at its roots by weakening the very tendencies to sin that are so deeply rooted in us. It guarantees you those special helps you need to unload that bad habit you want to lose.

The conscience is purified. The right kind of Confession gives a balance, a keenness, and a sensitivity to your conscience making it more attuned to the will of God. It sharpens your moral sense, and you find that your moral judgments on moral issues come more easily, and more accurately. Confession also enables you to get guidance and advice from one trained in the ways of human nature.

The will is strengthened. This is done in two ways: by undermining those sinful inclinations that make self-control by the will difficult; and by the giving of those actual graces that sustain and support the will in its fight for self-conquest. The sacrament, therefore, enables the will to overcome vice and of stay out of trouble -- if used frequently!

With the increase of grace, comes a stepped-up union of your soul with God through sanctifying grace . . . and increased dwelling of the Holy Trinity in your soul . . . and a deepening of your personal friendship with our Blessed Lord.

These few points stress the necessity of frequent Confession in your quest for perfect love of God. This is the sacrament of "spiritual fitness." If we don't want to be spiritually flabby Christians, this sacrament must be used well -- and often!

Thoughts and Sayings of Saint Margaret Mary: The Holy Eucharist

20. I believe that He will confirm these words which His unworthy slave continually heard in the depths of her heart, amidst all the difficulties and opposition that beset the beginning of this devotion: "I shall reign in spite of My enemies and of all those who would oppose Me."

November 11, 2004

(John 17:21) 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.


Marking the 40th anniversary of the Vatican decree on ecumenism, Unitatis Redintegratio, the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity is organizing an international conference for November 11- 13.

The conference, to be held at Rocca di Papa, southeast of Rome, will bring together Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant representatives to discuss the ecumenical goals set by the Vatican Council, and the subsequent steps toward those goals.  Over 250 people will participate, including representatives of 104 different episocopal conferences, the Eastern Catholic patriarchates, 27 Orthodox churches, and various other Christian groups.

Cardinal Walter Kasper, the president of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, will host the conference and deliver an opening address.  Other leading prelates taking part in the event include Cardinal Ivan Dias of Bombay and Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor of Westminster.  The participants will join in an ecumenical Vespers service on November 13 in St.  Peter's Basilica, with Pope John Paul II presiding.


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VIA Nadine:

For Those With Nothing To Confess!
By the late Father Kilian McGowan, C.P.

It's not unusual for the priest-confessor to be told by a penitent that he could think of nothing to tell in the confessional. The following examination of conscience is given for the average person who has trouble in finding matter for Confession. Let us emphasize, however, that most of the faults listed below are only venial sins and do not have to be mentioned in the sacrament of Penance.

If I am striving for Christian perfection, is it because I want to love God perfectly, or rather because I want to be perfect? Do I try to keep the talents of others under wraps lest they outshine me? Do I fish for compliments and then pretend I don't want them? In my conversation, am I always speaking of myself?

Do I find it easy to forgive, but terribly hard to forget injuries done me? Do I find fault in everything and everyone-excepting myself and the things I have done? Through jealousy, envy, or simply desire to be "in the know" do I repeat injurious gossip? Do I give a way "inside information" that is not mine to divulge?

Am I a "home devil" and a "street angel" - that is, irritable and grouchy at home and a real charmer outside? Do I humbly acknowledge and am I willing to concede when I am proven wrong? Am I too touchy or super-sensitive about anything said about me or done to me? Do I claim to have read books or articles, or been place, or done things when really I haven't at all? Do I pretend to be something-or to have something that I have not? In speaking of myself do I embellish my successes and cut down on my mistakes?

How often do I pay off my debts of adoration, thanksgiving, and reparation to God? At Holy Mass, am I thinking of just about everything but the great drama happening before my eyes? Do I arrive for Mass late and poorly disposed for the greatest action of the week? Do I pray as did our Lord: "Lord, not my will, but Thine be done." Do I ask God for the grace to love Him the way He deserves?

Am I honest at the super-market and the shopping center or do I try to get something for nothing? Am I unjust to my employer by "goofing-off" at work, by causing poor morale at the office or plant, or simply failing to put in a decent day's work? Am I so addicted to TV as to neglect my family, my household duties, or my job?

Do I attend off-color movies or read sexy novels just to get a little "kick" and then refuse to acknowledge my inordinate curiosity-even to myself? Do I make a sincere effort to avoid what I know from the past is an occasion of serious sin to me? Are the certain things I feel I should confess, but I tell myself it is none of the priest's business?

Have I ever made a serious study of the doctrines of my God-given faith with the intention of making them part and parcel of my everyday life? Do I try to make my ideas and my outlook more Christlike? Have I ever made a wholehearted resolution to love God with my whole heart, mind and soul? Am I convinced that this is the chief reason for my existence?

This examination, brief as it is, should show the average person that he's far from being perfect. You'd be a rare individual if you didn't have at least a few of the above failings. In going to work on yourself, however, don't try to do everything at once. Concentrate your effort and prayer on your chief weakness. In conquering this one fault, you'll weaken all the others. Self-indulgence will be weakened and self-mastery will be increased all along the line!

Thoughts and Sayings of Saint Margaret Mary: The Holy Eucharist

19. He is the Source of all blessings, and will bestow them wherever the picture of His divine Heart is placed and honored.

November 10, 2004

(2Pe 2:20-21) For if, flying from the pollutions of the world, through the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they be again entangled in them and overcome: their latter state is become unto them worse than the former. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of justice than, after they have known it, to turn back from that holy commandment which was delivered to them.


Surveying the world beyond the cloistered walls of its Roman enclave, the Vatican sees much to worry about: Terrorism, war, AIDS and poverty are ravaging the lives of many of its constituents around the globe.

But of all the ills afflicting the modern world, none is causing deeper concern than the rising tide of what Vatican officials call "militant secularism" washing over Europe, its home turf.

The symptoms of that have been piling up thick and fast in recent months:

_In traditionally Roman Catholic Spain, a new socialist government is aggressively promoting legislation that will permit gay marriage, facilitate abortion and speed up divorce.

_In historically Catholic France, the government's ban on the display of "conspicuous" religious symbols in state institutions stirred controversy because it prevented Muslim girls from wearing veils to school, but it also outlawed Christian symbols such as crucifixes.

_And perhaps most galling of all, the new European constitution signed with much fanfare last month just across the river from the Holy See contained no mention of Christianity, despite a vigorous campaign led by the pope for a reference to Europe's "Christian roots" to be included in the preamble.

Vatican officials say they accept that a Europe with a growing Muslim population cannot describe itself as Christian. But the absence of any reference to Christianity came as a bitter blow for an institution that in centuries past laid down the law for the continent's secular rulers.

For the ailing Pope John Paul II, whose 26-year papacy has been marked by a dramatic expansion of the Vatican's authority worldwide, Catholicism's waning influence in Europe is a source of deep dismay, Vatican officials say. The pontiff expressed his regret about the constitution to worshipers at last Sunday's mass in St. Peter's Square, urging Christians to continue to lobby Brussels.

"Taking into account the Christian roots of the European continent remains fundamental for the future development of the union," he told the pilgrims in a voice that witnesses said was stronger than usual.

The omission is more than symbolic; had the reference been included, the Vatican would have been able to challenge Europe-wide legislation that conflicted with its own teachings as unconstitutional, said Marco Politi, the Vatican correspondent for Italy's La Repubblica newspaper.

Instead, the church fears that its teachings will be swept aside, even in countries where its authority still holds sway, by the emerging new European bureaucracy.

"There's a real feeling that the church is under an attack, an aggression, and that it must defend itself against this wave of de-Christianization," Politi said.

The Vatican long ago surrendered authority over the largely Protestant nations of Northern Europe, which broke, often bloodily, with Catholicism in centuries past. Gay marriage is legal in Belgium and the Netherlands, and some form of same-sex union is recognized in several other countries. Britain is making huge strides in the field of embryonic stem cell research. Abortion and divorce are readily available in many European nations.

The prospect that such practices could take hold even in staunchly Catholic strongholds is being perceived by some powerful church figures as a threat to Christianity's very existence. In much publicized comments last month, Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, attacked what he called a "new holy inquisition" targeting Catholicism in Europe by groups "motivated predominantly by prejudice toward all that is Christian."

It's not just a question of Christianity, or even Catholicism, said Archbishop John Foley, head of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.

"There's this militant secularism, a denial of spirituality, of the destiny of the human person, and it's a great concern," he said. "A number of Muslim countries are closer to us on these issues than some of the European countries."

The Vatican intends to fight back. It is encouraging churches in Spain to protest the government's legislation. It is constantly exploring new ways to remain relevant to ordinary Catholics. A new Vatican radio program features cardinals discussing soccer. A newly published Vatican-endorsed sex manual called "It's a Sin Not to Do It" encourages married couples to have more sex.

But Politi, a veteran Vatican watcher, suspects it is too late for the Vatican to reverse the tide.

"All they can do is protest. They can't do more," he said. "The fact is that the church in Europe represents a minority view. So many countries and most public opinion simply don't support the stance of the Catholic Church any longer."

RELATED: Buttiglione to campaign for Christian Europe

Pope St. Leo the Great: "Virtue is nothing without the trial of temptation, for there is no conflict without an enemy, no victory without strife."

Thoughts and Sayings of Saint Margaret Mary: The Holy Eucharist

18. The devotion to His Sacred Heart contains ineffable treasures which He wishes to bestow upon all hearts of goodwill; it is a last effort of the love of our Lord towards sinners to draw them to repentance and give them in abundance His efficacious and sanctifying graces.

November 9, 2004

(John 16:33) I have said this to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."

US Marine First Sergeant Miles Thatford: "It's always comforting. Church attendance is always up before the big push. Sometimes, all you've got is God."


The skies over Fallujah lit up from the flashes of air and artillery barrages as US troops launched an offensive to seize key insurgent strongholds in a city that became the major sanctuary for Islamic extremists who fought Marines to a standstill last April.

Heavy firing continued into the pre-dawn hours today, and residents reached by satellite telephone reported the constant drone of warplanes overhead.

As night fell a civilian living in the centre of Fallujah said hundreds of houses had been destroyed.

“Every minute, hundreds of bombs and shells are exploding,” Fadril al-Badrani said in an interview. “The north of the city is in flames. I can also see fire and smoke … Fallujah has become like hell.”


In a small safe house in Fallujah, one of many in a town deserted by its residents, a dozen fighters sat on the floor of a half-lit room.

Behind them and against the wall were metal pipes -- makeshift rocket launchers. Mortar and artillery shells, ammunition belts and explosives lay scattered on the floor.

This was the scene two days before the massive assault on the city that began Monday, and the men were its target, a dozen of them in sneakers, tracksuits and beards, preaching jihad and the virtues of martyrdom. They were volunteers in the army of Monotheism and Jihad, the organization headed by Abu Musab Zarqawi, an elusive Jordanian who Iraqi and U.S. officials have said turned Fallujah into a terrorist refuge.

Dressed alike, the men were as different as their accents, a new generation of the jihad diaspora, arriving in Fallujah from all over the Arab world: five Saudis, three Tunisians, a Yemeni. Only three were Iraqis.

"I had a vision yesterday that tomorrow I would finally be granted the martyrdom," said the most recent arrival, a thin man in his early twenties. He had come from his home in Saudi Arabia just a week ago.

"This is not fair," replied the Yemeni, making a joke. "I have been here for months now."

"Don't worry Abu Hafsa," said one of the Tunisians, heavyset and talkative. "It is either victory or martyrdom, and both are great honors."


Militants attack two churches, hospital in Baghdad
Zarqawi group claims Iraq attacks
War in the streets

EDITORIAL: The Vatican (Slowly) Awakens to Jihad

Thoughts and Sayings of Saint Margaret Mary: The Holy Eucharist

17. He has assured me that the pleasure He takes in being loved, known and honored by His creatures, is so great that, if I am not mistaken, He has promised me that all those who are devoted and consecrated to Him shall never perish.

November 5, 2004


CATHOLIC NEWS HEADLINE: Sacred Language Restored

VIA Frank M. Rega:

From a letter from Padre Pio to his spiritual daughter, Maria Gargani, July 27, 1917

"My dear daughter, I think that the Holy Eucharist is a great means through which to aspire to perfection. But we must receive it with the desire and intention of removing from the heart all that is displeasing to Him with whom we wish to dwell. Therefore, my most beloved daughter, you must try to continually overcome yourself in those daily struggles which the Lord presents to you. And these efforts must extend also to the constant exercise of correcting your defects, acquiring virtue and in doing good.

...Concentrate on perfecting yourself and on carrying the crosses, either small or large, that you will encounter on your journey to heaven. And believe me, my daughter, that this is the most important advice, but also the least understood in spiritual behavior: each one loves according to his own tastes, few, however, live according to their duty and to the will of the Lord."



Election Wrap-Up

RELATED: For most voters, values trumped terror and taxes

Thoughts and Sayings of Saint Margaret Mary: The Holy Eucharist

16. I can hardly express my joy at seeing the increase of devotion to the Sacred Heart of my Saviour. I seem to live for that alone. Sometimes such an ardent desire to make It reign in all hearts is kindled within me that there is nothing I would not do and suffer to bring this about.

November 4, 2004

(Psa 122:6) Pray for the peace of Jerusalem! "May they prosper who love you!


Yasser Arafat has lapsed into a coma in a French hospital, a senior Palestinian official said Thursday, a day after the Palestinian leader was rushed to intensive care following a sharp deterioration in his health.

French hospital officials would not comment on the ailing Arafat's health. The 75-year-old leader was rushed for emergency treatment to the Percy Military Training Hospital outside Paris on Friday. Since then, his condition has largely remained a mystery, with Palestinians issuing conflicting reports about his health.

Earlier Thursday, Palestinian officials said Arafat had lost consciousness repeatedly and described his condition as extremely serious.

Regardless, the Israeli military was placed on high alert, and was following the developments closely, Israeli security sources said. The Israeli army has a contingency plan, called "new leaf," to deal with the fallout from Arafat's death, including possible Palestinian riots.

In the West Bank city of Ramallah, senior Palestinian officials convened an emergency meeting after learning of the deterioration in Arafat's condition, said Sakher Habash, a member of the Central Committee of the ruling Fatah movement.

Arafat's condition deteriorated sharply on Wednesday and he was rushed into intensive care at the French military hospital where he has been undergoing treatment for a week. Doctors still don't know the cause of the blood and digestive disorders uncovered over the past few days.

Undoubtedly conscious of the anxiety back home at the thought of a future without Arafat — who has led the Palestinians for 40 years with no obvious successor — Palestinian officials have previously described his condition as improving and said more tests were being done.

However, top Israeli security officials were meeting Thursday to study the repercussions in the Middle East should Arafat die, said Israeli officials speaking on condition of anonymity. Attending the meeting are Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz and Army Chief Lt. Gen. Moshe Yaalon, the officials said.


“The reluctance of the international community to challenge the Israeli and Palestinian leaderships to negotiate in good faith has contributed to the fact that the Road Map has not taken off”, this according to Mgr Celestino Migliore, Permanent Observer of the Holy See, who spoke before the General Assembly of the United Nations on the issue of refugees in the Middle East.

Mgr Migliore urged all parties to “renew their efforts to bring peace to the region” and “internationally guarantee [. . .] permanent, free and unhindered access to the Holy Places” thus overcoming the international community’s reluctance to follow the path of “lasting peace set out in the Road Map.

“Only with a just and lasting peace,” the nuncio said, “not imposed but secured through negotiation, will the legitimate aspirations of all the peoples of that land be fulfilled.” In his view, given the “unending cycle of violence and terrorism, military action and reaction” that prevails in the Holy Land, “there is a lot of peacemaking rhetoric but very little political will shown in the resolution of differences”.

“Without these much needed negotiations,” he explained, “there are no opportunities for reconciliation, forgiveness, compromise or collaboration”. Therefore, no to “a policy of continued separation” and yes to “communication [. . .] bringing together the parties” to find a solution that includes the Holy City of Jerusalem, a place pilgrims now avoid, and whose status and Holy Sites must be internationally guaranteed.

RELATED: Catholics and Jews Appeal Jointly for Sake of Jerusalem

Thoughts and Sayings of Saint Margaret Mary: The Holy Eucharist

15. I feel entirely lost in this divine Heat. It is as though I were in a fathomless abyss, in which He discloses to me treasues of love and of grace for those who consecrate and sacrifice themselves to give and procure for Him all the honor, love and glory in their power.

November 2, 2004



As the Church takes out this day to call to mind all of those faithful souls who have gone forth from this life and yet still await the fullness of life in heaven, the souls who are being purified in the fires of Purgatory, it is incumbent upon us to first of all recognize that these are holy souls. These are people who cannot go backward; they can only go forward. They cannot sin. They are people who died in the state of grace, they are all people who will go to heaven, and they are all people who are members of the Church, of the Mystical Body of Christ. Therefore, we are united with them and they are united with us, just as we are with the souls who are already in heaven.

This gives us an opportunity to practice charity because there is nothing that the souls in Purgatory can do for themselves beyond what they are already doing. So it is a necessity for them that we pray for them, that we practice charity toward them to help them. Indeed, they are souls of the just who have been purified in this life to the point that they were able to die in the friendship of Christ. They are in a place where there is hope. They are happy in that way, but they are in a place of miserable suffering where all that is happening to them is that the effects of their sins are being purified from their soul. It is a purging; it is a burning that is going on, not a physical fire, but rather an interior burning that is taking place within their souls – and they want to get to heaven as soon as they possibly can. Now, because they are indeed holy souls who cannot sin, they can pray for us but they cannot do anything more for themselves. But we can. If we pray for them, we can be guaranteed that their gratitude will be overflowing and that they in turn will pray for us. It was Padre Pio who, whenever he needed something that was really major, always turned to the poor souls. They are suffering souls. They are souls who want to help. They are souls who want to do anything they can for us, but they are also souls who are dependent on us.

The tragedy is that most people do not think about them anymore. We do not hear about the poor souls; we do not have the devotion that we used to have. People used to say, “Offer it for the poor souls in Purgatory.” You do not hear that very much anymore, but it is a necessity that we help them. Just think about the number of souls who lived a Christian life, who died repentant for their sins, but did not believe in Purgatory because they were not Catholic. That is where they are now (in the place they did not even believe existed!), and because in their life they did not believe it existed and they did not pray for anybody who was there, neither do they have anyone among their family and friends who believe that it exists and so no one is praying for them unless out of the generosity of our hearts we are willing to do so. Not only do we have our own family members and our own friends who are there, but there are many, many others who have no one to pray for them, forgotten souls because some people do not even believe. They need our help. As a matter of charity on our part, we need to pray for these souls; not just today, not just for this month that is dedicated to the poor souls, but everyday we need to pray for the poor souls. We need to remember them regularly and offer up some of our sufferings and sacrifices for them. Ask for their help; ask for their intercession. These are holy souls. These are saints, not saints in the fullness of that yet (meaning that they are in heaven) but they are saints. They are in the state of grace; they are holy souls who want to pray, who want to help, who want to do what they can do for us if only we are willing to ask. That is the beauty of what the Mystical Body is about: We can help them and they can help us. We can help one another to get to heaven.

RELATED: The hour of death is the “hour of truth,” Spanish bishop exhorts

FROM THE MAILBAG: Hope for the Souls in Purgatory

Through the Grace of God manifested in the Treasure Trove of the Roman Catholic Faith, under the right conditions, we can secure a Plenary Indulgence for souls in Purgatory every day from November 1st through November 8th.

For details on this, visit and acquaint yourself with the requirements published in The Enchiridion of Indulgences issued by the Sacred Apostolic Penitentiary in 1968, and originally published by Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Vatican City.

Thoughts and Sayings of Saint Margaret Mary: The Holy Eucharist

14. I no longer wish for anything but to procure the glory of the Sacred Heart. How happy I should be if, before I die, I were able to do something to please Him.

November 1, 2004


The day before the liturgical commemoration of the dead believers, John Paul II wanted to invite the Catholics to "a special prayer for all the victims of terrorism." "I feel spiritually close to their families," he said at the Angelus, "and, while I ask the Lord to soothe their pain, I invoke him for peace in the world."

The exhortation of the Pope is for a renewed universal fraternity, in the name of which, he explained, "we shall widen our heart and pray for all, especially for the souls who need divine mercy most of all."

"Maria, queen of all saints, will help us," he invoked today with quite strong and clear voice, "to follow Christ faithfully, to reach glory in heaven. The church on earth rises its eyes to heaven, joining the chorus of all those who God has associated to his glory."


VIA Jim McCrea: Pro-life vs. other Political Issues

Many Catholics put pro-life issues on a par with other things such as crime, hunger, homelessness, education, health care, so if a candidate is good on all issues except abortion, they vote for him or her, since most of the issues are being properly addressed.

I feel that this is a serious error. First of all, the right to life is fundamental. Without the right to life, all other rights are null and void. One must first have existence to enjoy anything else.

Secondly, there is a fundamental difference between a candidate supporting abortion, and seemingly not being good on other social issues. In the case of things such as hunger, homelessness, poor education, crime etc. these are not the directly intended effects of the candidate (at least of no candidate that I have heard of). That is, no candidate campaigns for an increase in hunger, homelessness, poor education, and crime, as ends sought in themselves. These problems are simply side effects of inefficiency or what the candidate feels are higher priorities such as lower taxes to get the economy going, or perhaps the candidate has less worthy motives for putting social issues lower in priority (we can disagree with the candidate and say that the side effects are the result of his poor choices or judgment, but they are still not directly intended effects).

The difference between those who are poor on social issues and those who support abortion is that abortion *is* a directly intended effect. If one claims to be pro-choice, they are in support of the direct intended attack on an innocent unborn child. That is why that is different, and that is why that is intrinsically immoral. An informed Catholic cannot in good conscience vote for a pro-abortion candidate. In that case, he is cooperating with the crime of abortion and may be guilty of mortal sin.

There is a third reason why the abortion issue is fundamental and takes priority over other social issues. For if it is part of the structure of our society to kill other human beings for either convenience or to solve a difficult situation, then that feeds all other social problems. A disrespect for human life feeds crime, homelessness, bad education, bad health care etc. For at the root of these problems are human beings being unjust to each other in numerous subtle ways, each and every day. That injustice saps generosity, efficiency, creativity in solving human problem, care for the common good, trust, love, justice, and removes a whole host of other virtues. If these virtues were practiced on the level of the individual, that would solve practically all pressing social problems. It is this lack of justice and other virtues among people in society today, which causes all of its problems - and that is fed directly by the abortion mentality. Get rid of the abortion mentality and one is guaranteed to see a vast improvement in society.

VIA Diane McPartland: "Oh God, we consecrate the 2004 presidential election of the United States of America to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Our Loving Mother, Patroness and Protectress of Our Country."

Thoughts and Sayings of Saint Margaret Mary: The Holy Eucharist

13. This divine Heart experienced all the interior sufferings of the cruel torment of the Cross, and for this reason God wishes It to be honored by a special worship., in order that mankind may thereby atone by their love and homage, for the bitterness and anguish caused by their offences.

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