Keep your eyes open!...


November 26, 2013  


(Zec 9:9) Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Sion, shout for joy, O daughter of Jerusalem: BEHOLD THY KING will come to thee, the just and saviour: he is poor, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt, the foal of an ass.


POPE FRANCIS: "While all the others treat Jesus with disdain – 'If you are the Christ, the Messiah King, save yourself by coming down from the cross!'– the thief who went astray in his life but now repents, clinging to the crucified Jesus, begs him: “Remember me, when you come into your kingdom” (Lk 23:42). And Jesus promises him: “Today you will be with me in paradise” (v. 43). Jesus speaks only a word of forgiveness, not of condemnation; whenever anyone finds the courage to ask for this forgiveness, the Lord does not let such a petition go unheard. Jesus’ promise to the good thief gives us great hope: it tells us that God’s grace is always greater than the prayer which sought it. The Lord always grants more than what he has been asked: you ask him to remember you, and he brings you into his Kingdom!"

MSGR. CHARLES POPE: King of the Universe and King of Thieves? A Homily for the Feast of Christ the King

MEDITATION: Christ: A King Hanging from a Cross Christ the King

: Christ the King: an 8th century fresco

Christ is the Crucified, and a King. He is robed in majesty; He is fastened to the Cross. He wears the royal purple robes with which His scorners intended to mock Him, but He, Alpha and Omega, the first and last Word, the Primogenitor of those who are being saved, confers His own divine dignity onto the very idea of kingship. He wears the glory that inspired the good thief to plead for his salvation, with the confidence of the One whose Sonship makes that salvation possible.

In our era, when people tend to separate the glorious from the salvific, it helps to look back and see a time in the Church when robes of glory and the will to save were not thought to be at odds. In fact, it is His very royalty that opens the doors of heaven for us, and gives us hope that our pleas will be heard by One who is not only ineffably kind, but infinitely strong.

MEDITATION: Thoughts by St Theophan (1815-1894)

[I Thess. 1:1-5; Luke 10:22-24]

No man knoweth... who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him. The Son was on the earth and revealed everything necessary for us Himself and through the Holy Spirit which acted in the apostles. Consequently, what you find in the Gospels and the apostolic writings is all you will and can know about the Father and Godly things. Do not seek more than this, and do not think to find apart from this anywhere else the truth about God and God's plans. What a great treasure we possess!... Everything has been said already.

Do not rack your brains, just accept with faith what has been revealed. It has been revealed that God is one in essence and triune in persons — the Father, Son and Holy Spirit; accept this with faith and uphold it. It has been revealed that the thrice-hypostatical God created all through the word, preserves all in His right hand, and is providential toward everything; accept this with faith and uphold it. It has been revealed that we were in a blessed state and fell, and that for our restoration and redemption the Son of God, the second person of the Most Holy Trinity, was incarnate, suffered, died on the cross, was resurrected and ascended into heaven — accept this with faith and uphold it. It has been revealed that one who desires to be saved must believe in the Lord, and accepting divine grace in the holy mysteries, live, with its help, according to the Lord's commandments, struggling with the passions and lusts, by means of corresponding spiritual endeavours — accept this with faith and do it. It has been revealed that whosoever lives according to God's direction enters after their death into bright dwelling places, the pre-beginning of eternal bliss; while whosoever does not live thus, upon death will pre-begin to experience the torments of hell — accept this [revelation] with faith and thus give yourself understanding, and inspire yourself for good and spiritual endeavours.

Thus accept all with faith and keep it faithfully. There is no need to rack your brains over your own invented things. Do not listen to those who show off their intelligence — they do not know where they are going.

The Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Self-Control

49. He also said, 'The monk who cannot control his tongue when he is angry, will not control his passions at other times.'

November 22, 2013  

(Mat 26:26-28) And whilst they were at supper, Jesus took bread and blessed and broke and gave to his disciples and said: Take ye and eat. This is my body. And taking the chalice, he gave thanks and gave to them, saying: Drink ye all of this. For this is my blood of the new testament, which shall be shed for many unto remission of sins.

PETER KREEFT: Adoration means especially Eucharistic adoration. In that silence there is a power greater than a thousand nuclear bombs, greater than the sun, greater than the Big Bang. It is the power of God, released when the atom of the Trinity was split on the Cross and the explosion of redeeming blood came out.

TRACT: Value of Sacrifice: The Eucharist & Adoration


Crowd throngs village church as Jesus “appears” on Host
An Astounding (Miraculous?) Photograph Taken During Eucharistic Adoration

The Eucharistic “Bomb”


The link between the Eucharist and the way we live is crucial to any understanding or experience of its meaning and value. If we celebrate the Eucharist only as an ecclesial obligation or as a folksy get together it will have little influence upon better conforming our lives to the Gospel. Unless we have come together at a deep level in its celebration the closing words “Go in peace” will mean we go in pieces, just as we probably arrived. Silence allows the full meaning of the Eucharist at its deepest, post-verbal levels of sacramental efficacy, to unfold in our lives. This means that we will know that having shared the fruits of the earth symbolically together we can better serve the Kingdom of justice in our lives and work. We all took the same amount of bread and wine. There was enough to go round for everybody – if the sacristan did his job properly. Therefore if our lives are to be Eucharistic should we not work for the just distribution of wealth, the relief of the oppressed and care for the marginalized? The mystical depth of the Eucharist has direct political implications. Were not Thomas a Becket and Oscar Romero assassinated at the silent moment of consecration? Pope John Paul’s last public teaching and blessing from his Vatican window was silent.

So the implications of silence in the Eucharist take us to the heart of our faith and to the cutting edge of contemporary evangelization. It is not just about what happens at Mass times. It is about expressing what is real at the core of our being and in the fabric of our daily life and work. This I think must be why Pope John Paul linked the experience of liturgical silence to the contemplative renewal of the church. In a world increasingly fractured and frazzled by noise and stress, he recognized the necessity for the church to draw on its deepest contemplative traditions and to teach from these ways of contemplative prayer. It is vital to rediscover the value of silence, he said. John Main, who died in 1982, saw this too: the greatest challenge to modern people, he said, is to rediscover the value and meaning of silence. John Main in his writings on the Eucharist also saw that for modern people, recovering the contemplative dimension of prayer is necessary for experiencing the full meaning of the sacraments.

The teaching of contemplative prayer at the parish and diocesan level is a natural and perhaps inevitable corollary to liturgical silence. We have to start somewhere – with silence after communion or with meditation groups in the parish. The church being a living Body with a spiritual life, her pastors don’t have to be too preoccupied with systems analysis. They simply have to pray and encourage people to pray ever more deeply. It may be more daring in our time to apply this to the religious education and spiritual formation of children and young people.

A living silence after the readings, homily and communion will arouse or, better perhaps, identify the deeper hunger that is at the heart of our church and our world. Learning to pray at the contemplative level will teach us to live better in the spirit, because the way we pray is the way we live and the way we pray is the way we celebrate the Eucharist. This hunger for contemplation, then, is our greatest hope. It is vital to rediscover the value of silence.

KNIGHTS OF COLUMBUS: The Eucharist: Sacrament and Sacrifice

The Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Self-Control

48. He also said, 'The chaste monk shall be honoured on earth, and in heaven he will be crowned in the presence of the Most High.'

November 21, 2013

(1Ma 1:62-63) But many in Israel were determined and resolved in their hearts not to eat anything unclean;they preferred to die rather than to be defiled with unclean food or to profane the holy covenant; and they did die. Terrible affliction was upon Israel.

CRISIS MAGAZINE: Catholics Will Likely Relive Past Persecutions

USCCB: U.S. Bishops Issue ‘Special Message’ on HHS Mandate

FR. PAUL NICHOLSON EXCERPT: But take away faith ... faith in Jesus Christ, faith in His Church and what do you have? You have the maniacal madness of the first reading (1 Maccabees 1:10-15,41-43, 54-57, 62-63) in which humanity renounces the truth and the only truth it will accept is power and force. And in the absence of this light ... it is impossible to tell good from evil.

It is true that we can know right from wrong without the light of faith ... but it is extremelly difficult due to the disorder in our fallen human nature. Blindness is made more terrible when we are convinced we can actually see.

Once the light of faith is extinguished, so too is the smaller light of reason. This idea come from Lumen Fidei, the enclycical on faith, written by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and our Holy Father Francis.

From the book of Maccabees we read about the terrible affliction that fell upon Israel in the empire of the Greeks. Every generation of the human family has seen upstarts like Antiochus Epiphanes ... who brutally and savagely invade the sanctuary of conscience. Under the name of progress, countless dictators have come and gone ... advocating liberation from faith and a rebirth of knowlege only to replace it with the idolatry of the imperial will and the slavery of ignorance.

MYSTICS OF THE CHURCH: The great Purification that is (soon) to come for all of humanity

Reader: The Feeling That Something Big Is About To Happen
Many people have told me that they have an ever increasing feeling that something big is about to happen.  I too sense it.  In fact, I would say that the words “sense it” are far too mild.  What I feel is an incredibly strong feeling that strikes to my very core.
We have been flooded with signs that we are now in the very last of the “last days.”  It is not just the freakish weather.  It is not just the tetrads of blood moons repeatedly falling on Jewish feast days or the timing of comet Ison and its potential to be the most spectacular of all time.  It is also the supernatural hatred of anything Christian in both our government and in the world.  It is the direction world politics has taken, the political collapse that is occurring in our own nation, the faltering of the world economy, the increase in earthquakes and volcanic activity, the wildfires, the mass die-offs of the animals, the strange and eerie sounds being heard all over the world, the ever unfolding nuclear disaster in Japan, the crumbling of Christian fundamentals and the apostasy, the apparent fulfillment of St. Malachy’s prophecy of the popes, the rise of worldwide homosexuality and other sexual perversions, the wars and rumors of war, the urgent push to disarm the American public, the ever increasing signs of sinister government conspiracies, the rabid fanaticism of our government to build a file of information of every person, the looming threat of worldwide hunger, the increase of both disease and pestilence, the advances in technology which defy the limits God has set for mankind, and even all that is happening to Israel at this very moment.
There is something more than this going on right now and I can feel it.  So can many others out there.  It is an almost overwhelming feeling that keeps growing in intensity,

The Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Self-Control

46. He also said, 'Fasting is the monk's control over sin. The man who stops fasting is like a stallion who lusts the moment he sees a mare.'

November 19, 2013  

(Mat 10:34-37) Do not think that I came to send peace upon earth: I came not to send peace, but the sword. For I came to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man's enemies shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me, is not worthy of me; and he that loveth son or daughter more than me, is not worthy of me.

MSGR. CHARLES POPE: A Reflection on the Modern Error of Preaching Mercy without Repentance

CRISIS MAGAZINE: Advice for Preachers on Sin and Satan

VATICAN RADIO EXCERPT: Pope: Lord save us from the subtle conspiracies of worldliness

During his homily, Pope Francis warned the faithful against what he described as a “globalized uniformity” which is the result of secular worldliness.

Often he said, the people of God prefer to distance themselves from the Lord in favour of worldly proposals. He said worldliness is the root of evil and it can lead us to abandon our traditions and negotiate our loyalty to God who is always faithful. This – the Pope admonished – is called apostasy, which he said is a form of “adultery” which takes place when we negotiate the essence of our being: loyalty to the Lord.

And he spoke of the contradiction that is inherent in the fact that we are not ready to negotiate values, but we negotiate loyalty. This attitude – he said – “is a fruit of the devil who makes his way forward with the spirit of secular worldliness”.

And referring again to the passage in the Book of Maccabees, in which all nations conformed to the king’s decree and adopted customs foreign to their culture, the Pope pointed out that this “is not the beautiful globalization, unity of all nations, each with their own customs but united, but the uniformity of hegemonic globalization, it is – he said - the single thought: the result of secular worldliness”

And Pope Francis warned that this happens today. Moved by the spirit of worldliness, people negotiate their fidelity to the Lord, they negotiate their identity, and they negotiate their belonging to a people that God loves.

Jim McCrea: The Error of This-Worldliness by Dietrich von Hildebrand

There is a deep link between the disastrous desacralization of the holy humanity of Christ (which, as emphasized above, goes together with hatred of the holy and of miracles) and "this-worldliness" - that is, the transfer of the center of gravity from eternity to this world.

The glorification of God through our personal sanctification, and - what is more surprising - the salvation of our souls in eternity, is neglected in favor of improving the world and fighting poverty and war.

This tendency is especially dangerous and pernicious because, first, it is the basis of many grave errors, and secondly, because it does not come forth, as other heresies did, as an explicitly formulated thesis, but as a tacit assumption - as an inner attitude, a shift of emphasis. As a result, many of the faithful do not detect its incompatibility with the Revelation of Christ and the teaching of the Church. Many Catholics with a deep faith are unwittingly drawn into the this-worldly attitude, and they just as unwittingly accept the errors which follow from it.

No one presents this-worldliness, and all the errors deriving from it, as a contradiction of the official teaching of the Church. Unlike Karl Rahner's theories on theological pluralism, and Schillebeeckx's denial of any difference between body and soul, these errors are not necessarily linked with an explicit denial of any of the dogmas - and precisely this makes them much more dangerous.

If so many Catholics do not recognize even flagrant contradictions of the teaching of the Church, do not see that clearly irreconcilable things cannot be reconciled, it is not so surprising that they do not see the contradiction to the Church's teaching which lies in tendencies and errors which are not openly proclaimed as incompatible with the dogmas of the Church, but which undermine them mainly by placing a greater emphasis on this world. In this book we mainly want to investigate the tendency in the Church to transfer the center of gravity to this world, as well as the errors connected with this tendency and rooted in it.

The this-worldly tendency can be detected in various pastoral letters, and above all in countless sermons. One speaks more about the fight against poverty and for social justice and world peace - in a word, more about improving the world - than about offending God by our sins, sanctifying the individual, about heaven and hell, eternity and the hope of eternal union with God in the beatific vision.

The this-worldly tendency emphasizes the earthly future more than eternity, and this is an unfortunate heritage of the evolutionism of Teilhard de Chardin. The sanctification of the individual soul and the eternal salvation of the individual is pushed aside to make room for the evolution of mankind on earth, for progress in what concerns man's earthly existence. Against this error we might recall the striking remark of Gustave Thibon: "I prefer and eternity without future to a future without eternity."

The Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Self-Control

45. Hyperichius said, 'Donkeys are terrified of a lion. So temptations to concupiscence are terrified of an experienced monk.'

November 15, 2013  

(Mat 25:44-46) Then they also shall answer him, saying: Lord, when did we see thee hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison and did not minister to thee? Then he shall answer them, saying: Amen: I say to you, as long as you did it not to one of these least, neither did you do it to me. And these shall go into everlasting punishment: but the just, into life everlasting.

CNA: Filipino priest returns home to aid in relief efforts


Letter from Sr Baybeth Andaya
Carmelite Missionary Sisters of Our Lady in the Philippines
Re: Post Typhoon Status
November 13, 2013

Hi Friends – Just so you know that I am safe, my community and family and most of the sisters and their family are safe too.. My city (Dumaguete) was least affected from the ruthless typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan). I am pretty sure you had seen the devastated pictures of the provinces of Leyte, Samar, Cebu, and Aklan rampaged by the super typhoon. It is beyond words. Personally, my stomach is pinching and twisting as if someone is trying to hit and tie my guts.

The whole country is in mourning and moaning. It has been five days now. We have families of Sister Amor and Sister Lurian in Baybay, Leyte whose houses - roofing and walls are gone . We have our convent in Bantayan Island, northern Cebu that completely collapsed that Friday morning along with the other houses in the Island. Good thing the two sisters had evacuated already when it happened. A parent-family from school is housing them now. We have relatives and friends, all of them lost their homes and crops and most of them lost members of their families. My good friend and her family who lives in Palo,Leyte near the Cathedral are still missing or cannot be located... i pray that they survived. There is no way to call, communication system broke down as cell-sites collapsed. The major telephone companies are trying to set up temporary calling areas for free. We heard from the news that it will take at least three months to restore the power so it is so dark at night.And it will be a dark Christmas for most of these towns.

Yesterday, in Dumaguete we experienced a very heavy downpour with the onset of low pressure Zoraida travelling around Cagaya de Oro, Bohol, Siquijor and Negros Oriental. People were just simply scared even if it was a much weaker one... There were no winds but rained so hard for almost twelve hours...

What can we do? I deeply know we have a God looking after us. That even bad things happen to good people. So many mass goers are asking the big - WHY? All I know is that we have a God loving us more than we love ourselves. I know this is difficult to accept during this time of mourning and utter grief. As we moan and mourn we move on with our pain and grief keeping our faith and hope alive. That God's love is way way bigger than our pains.

So many countries responded and sent their aids. God bless them. At our place in Fatima Village, we do our little share. We are appealing to our mass goers for any help in kind or in cash - we set up the big square boxes in the chapel for in-kind donations and a box for cash donations. The novices went "house to house" donation campaign today around the village. The victims practically need everything from food, clothing and shelter. We also realize that in situations like this not everyone gets the help they need from the different government agencies and non-government organizations. Our plan B is to directly give our donations to families we know (families, relatives and friends of the sisters) and to the rebuilding of our convent in Bantayan Island in northern Cebu. There are also school families needing help. This is also to make sure that donations are truly given to the right families. You cannot blame us for being skeptical especially with the ongoing plunder court hearings of corrupt politicians. Can you believe it? Even the climate, the weather - we didn't see the bright sun yesterday and today, people in general is deeply saddened and depressed.... outside, you hardly see faces smiling and people are teary-eyed when we talked about the devastation... the whole country is in agony, in pain Yet, God is with us, the Emmanuel.

Guess, I just want to share this thoughts to someone. Thanks for being there. Take care yourself and stay safe.

Best regards.

Sr. Baybeth Andaya

How To Help

Dear dear Friends, Thank you so much for thinking of me, of my community and the sisters, of us all, of my country and people and for being one with us - accompanying us in thoughts, in love, in prayer. As we face the dark reality of rebuilding (the survivors do not even know where to begin; local government officials cried on screen utterly helpless where to start) we lean into your heartfelt support. A lot of you are asking how you and your friends can help and where you can send your donations. My community is initiating a donation campaign around our village, and in the neighboring towns and cities in the province. The novices in two's went "house to house" donation campaign today at Fatima Village. We believe in the multiplication of what people are able to share. A single peso put together with other pesos can go a long way.... There are two ways you can send your donations to us. If in cash, you may send it through "bank-to-bank" transaction or through any Western Union. Whatever is convenient for you. Although the Western Union is a lot faster. Our bank account is BPI Dumaguete Branch, Dollar Account #1084-0111-65, Account name: Carmelite Sisters of Our Lady. If you send cash through Western Union, you may send it to me and please email to me the tracking number. We will send to you in return an official receipt for tax deduction purposes.

Sr. Baybeth Marie Andaya or Sr. Flor Pauline Duran
Fatima Village, Piapi
6200 Dumaguete City
PHILIPPINES (6335) 4225414

If you send used clothing and other personal and household stuff, you can send it through a door-to-door cargo company called LBC, or Atlas group which you can find in all Seafood City, among others. Our sisters in West Seattle (206 933 6439) can give you more information how to do this. The survivors need clothes, bed linens, towels, underwears, slippers, school bags, school supplies, rice, canned goods, bottled water, coffee, slippers, etc etc- practically almost everything a family needs to start living, and of course a house to stay. Right now they are staying in make-shift tents and partly open shantys.
Yes, we are deeply saddened but we are also deeply touched by your concern and support. We feel the collective love and comfort from all four corners of the world. Indeed, God's love is all around us. Thank you so much.

With deep gratitude -

Sr. Baybeth

The Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Self-Control

43. She also said, 'The pleasures and riches of the world must not attract you as if they were of any use to you. Because of its pleasure the art of cooking is respected, but by rigoruous fasting you should trample on that pleasure. Never have enough bread to satisfy you and do not long for wine.

November 14, 2013  

(2Co 4:17-18) For that which is at present momentary and light of our tribulation worketh for us above measure, exceedingly an eternal weight of glory. While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporal: but the things which are not seen, are eternal.


NEWS AND PHOTO: Jesus statue unscathed by Typhoon Haiyan

NCR: Bringing Hope and God’s Presence to the Philippines Apocalypse

Hundreds of thousands in the Philippines are fighting for survival after their world came to an abrupt end when Super Typhoon Haiyan caused a swathe of death and destruction. The Catholic Church is stepping into the wasteland to help wage a battle for the island nation now faced with starvation, disease, and despair.

Few Americans can picture the total devastation — one’s home broken to pieces, their neighborhoods flattened, their loved ones and neighbors lying cold and still in the streets. Some officials have estimated at least 10,000 persons may be dead, while the official actual body count has exceeded 2,200, and continues to rise.

But the large-scale disaster also is showing the universality of the Church in action. International Catholic relief organizations, including the U.S. bishops’ own Catholic Relief Services, are working closely with the local Church to bring relief and the presence of God to those most in need.

“We are going to the areas hardest hit by the typhoon,” Father Edwin Gariguez, executive secretary of CBCP Caritas Filipinas Foundation, told the Register. “We are first setting up a staging area in a neighboring province, and then we will deliver supplies to our area Church network.”

Eoghan Rice, a communication officer with Trocaire (the Irish bishops’ Caritas), was accompanying Father Gariguez to the island of Cebu. Just before boarding his plane, he explained that the Caritas network is “in full operation here,” but it is only as communication lines start to be restored that they are “starting to get a full picture of what the situation really is.”

“There are areas where 80% of the houses were destroyed,” he said.

Super Typhoon Haiyan may go down in the history books as the strongest storm ever recorded. Haiyan sustained winds of 190 miles per hour, and whipped up a storm surge of 20 feet high when it made landfall in the central Philippines.

“Caritas organizations are responding through the local organization here, and also through agencies such as CRS,” he said. “It’s through these local structures that we can get aid it. The local partners and local knowledge are proving critical to getting aid in quickly.”

RESOURCE: How to help Typhoon Haiyan survivors


Survivors clinging to hope
Typhoon Haiyan latest: Rescue workers search for Philippines storm survivors

The Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Self-Control

42. Syncletica said, 'Bodily  poison is cured by still stronger antidotes; so fasting and prayer drive sordid temptation from us.

November 13, 2013  

(Luk 21:25) And there shall be signs in the sun and in the moon and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, by reason of the confusion of the roaring of the sea, and of the waves:

POPE FRANCIS: "I ask all of you to join me in prayer for the victims of Typhoon Haiyan / Yolanda especially those in the beloved islands of the Philippines".

VATICAN RADIO: Bishops call for prayer, aid for Philippines

Girl born at airport after pregnant typhoon victim swims for her life

: Church rushes aid to regions devastated by Philippines typhoon

Church aid agencies are battling to reach the hundreds of thousands of victims of the devastating typhoon that struck the Philippines on Friday, amid warnings that people in remote regions are dying because they lack food and water.

More than 10,000 people were killed when Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest storms ever to make landfall, devastated six central Philippine islands, causing tidal surges that completely destroyed a number of cities including Tacloban in Leyte province.

Some 9.5 million people urgently need aid and 600,000 have been made homeless in the disaster, the Catholic aid agency Caritas Internationalis warned. Caritas said that much of the country's infrastructure has been destroyed, making delivering aid to remote areas difficult.

NEWS REPORT: Typhoon Haiyan crushed town 'like giant hand from the sky'

: Philippines: 'It looks as if nuclear bombs were dropped'

One of CAFOD’s Caritas partners Rey Barnido has arrived in Tacloban from Bohol to help with the emergency efforts alongside other Caritas aid workers in Tacloban. He got this message out via text: "Patients are overflowing from the regional hospital in Tacloban. There are dead people everywhere. There is no water or power. Volunteers are trying to manage the disaster. It looks as if nuclear bombs were dropped."

CAFOD Director Chris Bain said: “…we cannot waste time on despair or shock – not when there are still lives to be saved, and communities in such desperate need of help…”

The Catholic Church in the Philippines is playing a vital role in responding to the devastation caused by Typhoon Haiyan. The so-called “super-typhoon” has been described as the most powerful storm ever to make landfall, striking the central Philippines on Friday 8 November with sustained winds of 235 kph.

With power lines and phone lines down, the full impact of the typhoon is not yet known, but it is clear that it is had a catastrophic impact on the lives of millions of people. An estimated 10,000 people have been killed in Tacloban city alone. Hundreds have been killed elsewhere, and there has widespread destruction of homes, schools and roads.

In a country which is 80 per cent Catholic, the Church is playing a vital role in providing emergency relief to those in need, and CAFOD – the official aid agency of the Catholic Church in England and Wales – has launched an urgent appeal for funds to support the work of its church partners in the country.

CAFOD is working with Caritas Philippines and its American sister charity, Catholic Relief Services, to provide the most urgently needed aid: food, emergency shelter and essential household goods –– like pots, pans, blankets and cooking equipment – for people who have lost everything. With water supplies disrupted in many areas, the agency also planning to provide clean water and sanitation to prevent the spread of disease.

In the longer term, CAFOD will help people to rebuild their homes and to make a living again. Because of the scale of the flooding and because roads have been blocked, some parts of the country remain difficult to reach – but the agency’s Church partners are rapidly reaching out to the worst hit and most remote areas affected.

CAFOD Director Chris Bain said: “We are launching our emergency appeal in response to the hundreds of schools, parishes and individuals up and down the country who have contacted us to ask: ‘What can we do?’, showing the generosity and compassion that is always the hallmark of the Catholic community in times of crisis.

“The best way we can all help is by supporting the charities and church groups who are already operating in the worst hit areas, responding to their immediate needs for food, water and shelter, beginning the hard work of rebuilding the communities that have lost everything, and keeping them constantly in our prayers. Together, we can bring new hope to those who today face utter desolation.”

To donate to CAFOD's Typhoon Haiyan appeal see:

MORE: Typhoon relief efforts

The Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Self-Control

39. Sisois once said with confidence, 'For thirty years I have not prayed to God without sin. When I pray, I say "Lord Jesus Christ, protect me from my tongue." Even now, it causes me to fall every day.'

November 11, 2013  

(Rom 5:20-21) Now the law entered in that sin might abound. And where sin abounded, grace did more abound. That as sin hath reigned to death: so also grace might reign by justice unto life everlasting, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

POPE FRANCIS: "Pray for the dear nation of Iraq, unfortunately stricken daily by tragic episodes of violence, so that she may find the way of reconciliation, peace, unity and stability”.

Remembering those who suffer for the love of Jesus Christ

: Faith in the Time of Persecution -A letter from Iraq to Christians in the West by  Archbishop Amel Shamon Nona

How can we live our faith in a time of great difficulty? What can we do for those who are persecuted because of their faith? To ask these questions means above all questioning ourselves about the meaning of our faith. In order to be able to speak about the time of persecution, Christians must really know their own faith.

In 2010, when I was appointed Chaldean bishop of Mosul, I knew that I would be coming to a city facing an extremely critical situation with regard to security. Many Christians had already been killed, and many had been forced to leave the diocese. Brutal violence took the life of a priest, as well as that of a bishop, my predecessor: Both were murdered in extremely gruesome fashion.

I came to Mosul on January 16, 2010. The very next day, a series of reprisal murders of Christians began, starting with the killing of the father of a young man who was praying with me in church. For more than ten days, extremists continued to kill, one or two people each day. The faithful left the city to seek refuge in the small towns and villages nearby, or in the monasteries.

Since then almost half of the faithful have returned. What can we do for these people? What can one do for those who are living the difficult life of persecution?

These questions tormented me, forcing me to reflect on the right path to follow so I could fulfill my mission of service. I found the answer in the motto of my episcopate — namely, hope. I came to this conclusion: During a time of crisis and persecution, we must remain full of hope. And so I remained in the city, strengthened in hope, in order to give hope to the many persecuted faithful who likewise continued to live here.

Is this enough? No. To remain with the faithful in hope is a crucial start, but it is not enough — there has to be something more. Saint Paul reminds us that hope is linked to love, and love to faith. To remain with those who are persecuted is to give them a hope founded in love and faith. What can we do to build up this faith? I began to ask myself how our faithful were living out their faith, how they were practicing it in the difficult circumstances of their lives every day. I realized that, above all — in the face of suffering and persecution — a true knowledge of our own faith and the cause of our persecution is of fundamental importance.

By deepening our sense of what it means to be Christians, we discover ways to give meaning to this life of persecution and find the necessary strength to endure it. To know that we may be killed at any moment, at home, in the street, at work, and yet despite all this to retain a living and active faith — this is the true challenge.

From the moment when we are waiting for death, under threat from someone who may shoot us at any time, we need to know how to live well. The greatest challenge in facing death because of our faith is to continue to know this faith in such a way as to live it constantly and fully — even in that very brief moment that separates us from death.

My goal in all this is to reinforce the fact that the Christian faith is not an abstract, rational theory, remote from actual, everyday life but a means of discovering its deepest meaning, its highest expression as revealed by the Incarnation. When the individual discovers this possibility, he or she will be willing to endure absolutely anything and will do everything to safeguard this discovery — even if this means having to die in its cause.

Many people living in freedom from persecution, in countries without problems like ours, ask me what they can do for us, how they can help us in our situation. First of all, anyone who wants to do something for us should make an effort to live out his or her own faith in a more profound manner, embracing the life of faith in daily practice. For us the greatest gift is to know that our situation is helping others to live out their own faith with greater strength, joy, and fidelity.

Strength in daily life; joy in everything we encounter along the path of life; confidence that the Christian faith holds the answer to all the fundamental questions of life, as well as helping us cope with all the relatively minor incidents we confront along our way. This must be the overriding objective for all of us. And to know that there are people in this world who are persecuted because of their faith should be a warning — to you who live in freedom — to become better, stronger Christians, and a spur to demonstrating your own faith as you confront the difficulties of your own society, as well as to the recognition that you too are confronted with a certain degree of persecution because of your faith, even in the West.

Anyone who wishes to respond to this emergency can help those who are persecuted both materially and spiritually. Help bring our situation to the notice of the world — you are our voice. Spiritually, you can help us by making our life and our suffering the stimulus for the promotion of unity among all Christians. The most powerful thing you can do in response to our situation is to rediscover and forge unity — personally and as a community — and to work for the good of your own societies. They are in great need of the witness of Christians who live out their faith with a strength and joy that can give others the courage of faith.

We are victims, and we suffer at the hands of fundamentalists coming from distant countries to fight against those whom they consider to be the infidels (us Christians), using as an excuse that their brothers are being persecuted in various countries. Their reaction is to kill others. Our reaction to persecution must be that of becoming more loving, more united, ever stronger in showing the world the true image of life, as taught us by Jesus Christ.

The Christian world defends its persecuted faithful through the revelation, the realization, and the strength of the love that is the foundation of faith and that embraces everyone — even our persecutors. There is a great temptation to which persecuted Christians can fall victim, and which I myself never tire of warning against: namely, that because of being persecuted, we can, with the passing of time, end up becoming persecutors ourselves — turning to violence in our way of thinking, in treating our neighbor, in our way of living.

This temptation is very powerful: The sentiments that we develop in a climate of persecution can change our way of living — rejecting the Christian way, which is imbued with love — to a manner similar to that of those who demand and speak of justice only, but never of love. Let us be very careful not to live out our faith feebly, because other Christians are suffering. The difficulties of Christians should be a prompting to demonstrate true faith.

When Christians are persecuted, we should take on more firmly the responsibility of our own faith to joyfully give expression to love, fidelity, and justice. If there are Christians in trouble, I should love my neighbor still more; I should be more positive in my way of looking at the business of life, in order to show those suffering the strength of my own faith.

You in the West are living in a way that persecuted Christians cannot. Since they do not have freedom, you must live out the true meaning of freedom; since they cannot publicly celebrate their faith, you must give public witness of your faith in your own societies; since the women in our countries do not have the possibility of freely choosing to go outside their houses, women in the West should become witnesses to true Christian freedom.

Still, we are happy, because we have the opportunity to reflect on our choice to be Christians. We are happy because we have the opportunity to make our freedom concrete — by defending with love the one who attacks us with rancor and hatred. Ultimately, persecution cannot make us sad or despairing, because we believe that human life deserves to be always embraced in a perfect manner, as Jesus showed us — even if death stares us in the face and we have no more than a minute left in this world.

Saint Paul says that “where sin abounded, grace did still more abound” (Rom. 5:20). With him, we may also say that wherever there is persecution, there too will be the grace of a strong faith — and therein lies our salvation.

The Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Self-Control

28. Macarius the Great said, 'If you are stirred to anger when you want to reprove someone, you are gratifying your own passions. Do not lose yourself in order to save another.'

November 7, 2013  

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

VIDEO: "Our Lady And The Eucharist" by Fr J. Seddon OSB.

EWTN: Eucharistic Piety: A Strong Recommendation by Fr. Regis Scanlon, O.F.M., Cap.

CATHOLIC EXCHANGE: Nine Ways the Eucharist Is Hidden in the Old Testament

MEDITATION: Thoughts by St Theophan (1815-1894)

Friday. [Col. 2:1-7; Luke 9:12-18]

The miraculous filling of the multitude in the desert is an image of the filling of the faithful in holy communion with the Most Pure Body and Most Pure Blood of the Lord. The Lord is sitting apart; the multitude is made to sit in groups; the apostles are intermediaries — they receive the bread and give it out. So it is now: believers are all divided into groups — small individual churches in which the Lord, invisibly present, gives out His Body and Blood through the apostolic successors. As He did to the apostles then, so now to their successors does He say, Give ye them to eat. As then, so now do the believing multitudes stand steadfastly before the Lord in fasting, hearing the word, and a prayerful desire be healed from sins as they prepare to approach the Divine Mysteries.

Thus the mystery begun by the Lord's appearance continues until now and will continue until the end of the world. And in the world to come there will be a communion of its own sort, for the Lord promises to give to eat of the hidden manna and of the tree of life (Rev. 2:7,17). Our forefathers' own mystical communion was also arranged in the earthly paradise — eating from the tree of life. In the Old Testament Church its image is the eating of the paschal lamb. Thus, mystical communion began with the human race, was and will be with it until eternal ages, in various forms, but in the one meaning of the most true communion with the Lord; for In Him was life; and the life was the light of men (John 1:4). It is fitting for those who are created according to the image of God to be in such communion with Him, Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person (Heb. 1:3).

CATHOLIC WEEKLY: Another Eucharistic miracle by Fr John Flader

Q: I read with great interest your column on the Eucharistic miracle that Pope Francis approved when he was a bishop in Buenos Aires in 1996. Now a friend tells me there has been another miracle in Poland with similar scientific findings. Do you know anything about it?

A: The miracle took place in 2008 in the town of Sokołka, near Bialystok on the border with Belarus. Australian lawyer Ron Tesoriero, who spoke with the people involved, relates the facts in his new book Unseen, published in 2013.

On 12 October, 2008, in the church of St Anthony of Padua, a young assistant priest, Fr Jacek Ingielewicz, accidentally dropped a consecrated host during Mass. He picked it up and, since it was soiled, placed it in a vessel of water and put it in the tabernacle. After Mass the parish priest, Fr Stanislaw Gniedziejko, asked the sacristan, Sr Julia, to place the host and water in a glass bowl and put it in the safe in the sacristy.

A week later, on 19 October, Fr Stanislaw asked the sacristan if the host had dissolved and when Sr Julia opened the safe she discovered that there was a red stain on the host which looked like blood.

She called Fr Stanislaw, who was very moved when he saw it, and informed his superior, Archbishop Edward Ozorowski. A few days later the archbishop went with his chancellor to see the host and on 29 October he asked Fr Stanislaw to take the host out of the water and lay it on a linen corporal, which he then placed in the tabernacle of the chapel in the priests’ house.

The archbishop appointed a special commission to investigate the matter, with the aim of determining whether anyone had interfered with the host. On 5 January, 2009, he asked two pathomorphologists from the Medical University of Bialystok to conduct a scientific examination of the host.

The two, Professor Sobaniec-Lotowska and Professor Sulkowski, hold chairs in different departments of the university and have published widely in their fields, having worked as specialists for more than 30 years.

In the presence of the chancellor, Fr Andrew Kakareka, and others Prof Sobaniec-Lotowska removed a small piece of the host, about a square centimetre in size. She reported that it was brittle, brownish in colour and with remains of the communion host attached.

After analysing the material under an electron microscope the two professors reported that it consisted entirely of cardiac tissue. Various aspects of the material made them certain that it was indeed heart muscle tissue. Professor Sobaniec-Lotowska described the sample as heart muscle, “just before death. It is in agony, a moribund condition, caused by great stress.

This is proved by the presentation of a very strong phenomenon of ‘segmentation’ or damage to myocardial fibres at the site of the intercalated discs, which does not occur after death. Such changes can be observed only in living fibres and they show evidence of rapid spasms of the heart muscle in the period just before death”.

In a later interview on 13 August, 2010, Prof Sobaniec-Lotowska elaborated on this finding: “The cardiac impact had been recent. The heart was alive, just before death. The sample analysed was not from a dead person. The person was alive. There was one square centimetre of heart. A fragment of muscle. If one had to remove it from a person, he would die.”

Pointing to a photograph of the tissue she repeated her amazement that even though it had been in water for weeks the cardiac tissue was still visible. She said that if it had been in water even for one week it would not be visible.

The professors were also amazed that there had been no autolysis, the process whereby a cell is destroyed by its own enzymes when the organism is injured or dying. In their opinion there was no scientific explanation for this phenomenon.

“What is even more difficult to comprehend”, Prof Sulkowski said, “is that the tissue, which appeared in the host, was closely bound to it, to the host that is, penetrating the base on which it appeared. Please believe me that even if someone intended to tamper with the sample, it would be impossible to bind the two pieces of matter in such an indissoluble way”.

So once again a communion host has been miraculously transformed into living heart tissue, readily identifiable under an electron microscope, and the tissue shows signs of great stress. God is obviously going to great lengths to confirm the truth of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.

The Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Self-Control

22. One of the brothers asked Isidore, the priest of Scetis, 'Why are the demons so afraid of you?' He said, 'Ever since I became a monk, I have been trying not to let anger rise as far as my mouth.'

November 6, 2013  

(1Co 2:9) But, as it is written: That eye hath not seen, nor ear heard: neither hath it entered into the heart of man, what things God hath prepared for them that love him.

ARCHBISHOP CHAPUT: The meaning of sainthood: To be fully alive in Jesus Christ

EXCERPT MSGR. CHARLES POPE: Ho Hum on Heaven? Not only have many lost a proper fear of Hell, but also a deep longing for Heaven.

Many years ago I was taught that the essence of heaven is the Beatific Vision. That is, one will look upon the glorious and radiant face of God, and find in that look the fulfillment of all desires, and a joy (beatus) beyond all telling.

And surely this description remains both true and worth repeating. However, I have noticed that some get stuck on the the word “vision” and to some extent on the word “face,” and tend to reduce the experience to a kind of “static” (unchanging) vision.

For our experience of the “face” of another is that it does not change. And we are further taught that God does not change.

And thus, in being asked to consider heaven as a beatific vision (or beholding) of God’s face, some struggle to imagine what one might do after about twenty minutes, let alone for all eternity. Therefore, people often shift their thinking about heaven to playing golf, being reunited with loved ones, walking streets of gold, and having mansions.

I have quoted Pope Benedict regarding this problem before, but his statement of the problem is worth repeating:

Perhaps many people reject the faith today simply because they do not find the prospect of eternal life attractive….To continue living for ever —endlessly—appears more like a curse than a gift….to live always, without end—this, all things considered, can only be monotonous and ultimately unbearable…. The term “eternal life” is intended to give a name to this known “unknown”. Inevitably it is an inadequate term that creates confusion. “Eternal”, in fact, suggests to us the idea of something interminable, and this frightens us; “life” makes us think of the life that we know…[which] very often it brings more toil than satisfaction, so that while on the one hand we desire it, on the other hand we do not want it. (Spe Salvi, 10, 12).

So, a lot of our terminology, though biblical and correct, is lost to modern ears and the modern imagination. It needs greater explanation, even among believers who are often very vague about the contours and promises of heaven.

I have articulated before that somehow we must communicate that the “eternal” in “eternal life” is not a reference only to the length of life, but to the fulness of life. To be in heaven is not merely to live forever, but to be fully and gloriously alive in a manner which we can barely even imagine now. It is to have all our gifts, and every aspect of who we are, gloriously perfected, with a God-like glory.

St. Ireneus says that the Glory of God is man fully alive. The Lord told St. Catherine of Siena that if she were ever to see a soul glorified in heaven, “You would fall down and worship because you would think you were looking at me.”

This is our glory and this is our dignity, to one day have a God like perfection and glory, and to become fully alive in an unimaginable and powerful way.

MEDITATION: Thoughts by St Theophan (1815-1894)

[Phil. 2:24-30; Luke 6:46-7:1]

And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? Why do they call Him Lord, but do not do the Lord's will; that is, why do they not acknowledge His lordship in their deeds? Because they only call with their tongue, and not with their heart. If their heart were to utter: “Lord, Thou art my Lord,” then complete readiness would abide in it to submit to the one whom they confess as their Lord. But since they do not have this, their deeds do not match their tongue; whereas deeds always match the heart.

All right, so there is no point in calling: “Lord, Lord”? No, not so. But it is necessary to make the external word match the inner word, which is the feeling and disposition of the heart. Sit and reflect upon the Lord and yourself: what is the Lord and what are you? Think about what the Lord has done and still does for you, why you live and how it will end. You immediately will come to the conviction that there is no other way than to steadfastly fulfil the Lord's entire will; there is no other path for us. This conviction gives birth to a readiness to fulfil in deed what is expressed by the word “Lord.” With such readiness a need for help from above will be awakened, and from it the prayer: “Lord, Lord! Help me and give me strength to walk in Thy will.” And this call will be pleasing to the Lord.

CRISIS MAGAZINE: It’s Time to Get “Obsessed” About Opposing Today’s Moral Evils

The Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Self-Control

19. John the Short said, 'If a king wants to take a city filled with his enemies, he first captures their food and water, and when they are starving he subdues them. So it is with gluttony. If a man is sincere about fasting and is hungry, the enemies that trouble his soul will grow weak.'

November 4, 2013  

(Joh 15:19-21) If you had been of the world, the world would love its own: but because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember my word that I said to you: The servant is not greater than his master. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they have kept my word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for my name's sake: because they know not him that sent me.

AID TO THE CHURCH IN NEED REPORT: Persecuted and Forgotten?

PATRIARCH GREGORIOUS III (On Syria): “You may think that it is safe here or unsafe there, but at any moment you may be killed by bomb, missile or bullet, not to mention being kidnapped or taken hostage for ransom, or murdered.”

: Syria’s Christian Community Cries Out For Help

The Vatican news agency Fides reports that two new mass graves containing a total of 30 bodies were found in Sadad, an ancient Christian town of some 15,000 people between Damascus and Homs, bringing to 45 the number of residents killed there by Islamist militias since October 21.

Surviving relatives and friends uncovered the graves after government forces recently recaptured the town from rebels. Those killed were reported by the local Syriac Orthodox metropolitan, who presided over 30 of their funerals this week, to be Christian civilians, including women and children. A list of their names was provided to the Catholic press.

The Islamist rebel militias of Al Nusra Front and Daash were identified by eyewitnesses as responsible for this war crime.

The battle also resulted in the destruction and looting of the town, including its homes, hospitals, schools, government buildings and electrical, telephone, and water capabilities. St. Theodore’s Syriac Orthodox Church and a number of the 4,000-year-old Assyrian town’s 14 other churches and a monastery have been desecrated.

Some 2,500 Sadad families have fled so far and ten others are missing.

Syriac Orthodox archbishop Selwanos Boutros Alnemeh remarked that this was the deadliest single attack against Syria’s Christian community of the civil war and ranks close to the massacre at Baghdad’s Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic church by jihadists during Sunday Mass on October 31, 2010, when 58 were killed.


: Syrian refugees: One of the worst modern humanitarian disasters
HUMANITARIAN: Syrian refugees have lost faith
NEWS REPORT: Syrian refugees overwhelming Jordan

The Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Self-Control

7. They said of Agatho that for three years he kept a stone in his mouth in order to teach himself silence.
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