Keep your eyes open!...


November 29, 2017  

(1Co 15:54-55) And when this mortal hath put on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting?

POPE FRANCIS: “At the end of our life we will be judged on love, that is, on our concrete commitment to love and to serve Jesus in our smallest and most needy brothers.”

CATHOLIC JOURNAL: What Eternity Means by Fr Joseph Esper

: The Mystery of Death by Fr. Jerry Pokorsky

At first glance, it may seem that while death is unpleasant, it is natural to man. Every person born into the world has died or will die. Sometimes the only “cure” for terrible suffering is death. When the many miracles of medical science fail, and death becomes a stern prospect, it may seem more like a friend than an enemy. St. Ambrose acknowledges that death is truly a gift to man after the Adam’s fall because death limits suffering.

In this way we are ambivalent about death. We are relieved when a loved one who has suffered so much finally succumbs to a natural death. But if death is “natural,” is it also natural to be horrified by the prospect of death? As children, did not we think we would live forever? And as we grow older, do we not become more aware of our mortality with every passing year? It is healthy, normal and natural to love life. Do we fear death because death is essentially unnatural?

When the Lord wept at the tomb of Lazarus, he not only revealed his compassion for his friend, he confirmed what was written in the Book of Wisdom: “God did not make death, and He does not delight in the death of the living. For He created all things that they might exist” (Wis 1:13). Christ wept not only because Lazarus was his friend; He wept for all us destined to die. Christ weeps at the horror of death.

Death is not natural. God is the author of nature and all nature is good. God did not create us to die; He created us to live. Death, however, entered the world because of disobedience, that is, sin. Death violates God’s handiwork. But death is not the ultimate evil. Sin is the cause of death. Sin violates man’s dignity by upsetting the right order of things as established by the Creator. From the sin of Adam to our own sins, man suffers because of the disorder that he himself caused by disobedience.

Through sin, we bring disorder and suffering on ourselves.

Despite our disobedience, God continues to desire our happiness.

So our suffering must be healed at its root. Medical science can take away most of our physical pain, but medical science cannot guarantee us eternal life. Lazarus, who was raised from the dead, is now dead. All who were cured by Christ are now dead. Either the ministry of Christ was a cruel joke, or His mighty deeds were directing our attention to something far more profound than physical healing. The root of all suffering is sin, and sin must be forgiven to avoid eternal suffering.

Hence, the miracles of Christ ultimately have meaning for us to the extent that they stir us to faith in Him. Jesus did not come into the world to be a mere wonderworker. He came to rescue and forgive sinners and to heal our wounded souls. Christ alone has authority to forgive sins, an authority He entrusts to His priests. He wants to heal and restore our human nature to its original innocence. Just as Christ was “obedient unto death” to the Father, He beckons us to take up our crosses and follow Him in faith. In our Faith, Christ’s cross is not a sign of defeat, but a promise of final victory.

Death remains a mystery. But with the obedience of faith in Christ, we begin to overcome our ambivalence towards death. Death has become the “narrow gate” for life with Christ. For in Christ, with the certainty of faith, we can joyfully proclaim with St. Paul, “Death, where is thy victory? Death, where is thy sting?”

HOMILY: Dead Men Tell No Tales

Summary: Death is something that we all must embrace. Nature, during this fall season, gives us a sign of that truth (animals hibernate, plants shed their leaves, days grow short). Death is the great equalizer…it gets everyone… rich, poor, young, old, virtuous and vicious, high and low. Even the great Enoch and Elias still owe God one death and it will indeed come to them as spoken of in the 11th chapter of the Apocalypse. May a healthy and holy view of death not be a stranger to us. May a holy preparation for death be not foreign to us. Let us keep our crucifixes pressed close to our lips and hearts, and ever before our eyes.

Let us make our nine first Fridays of reparation to the Sacred Heart, keeping in mind the wonderful promises it gives… namely: “I will be their refuge during life and above all in death.” And “I promise you in the excessive mercy of My Heart that My all-powerful love will grant to all those who communicate on the First Friday in nine consecutive months, the grace of final penitence: they will not die in My disgrace, nor without receiving their Sacraments. My Divine Heart shall be their safe refuge in this last moment.” “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His faithful!” And we will be among those who have many true tales to tell for God’s glory!

MEDITATION: Thoughts by St Theophan (1815-1894)

[Eph. 4:1-6; Luke 10:25-37]

To the man who asked how to be saved, the Lord on his part offered a question: What is written in the law? how readest thou? By this He showed that to resolve all perplexity one must turn to the word of God. And so that there will not be such perplexity at all it is best to always read Divine Scripture attentively, with discernment and sympathy, applying it to your own life, and fulfilling in your own thoughts what relates to thoughts, in your own feelings and dispositions what relates to the senses, and in your deeds what relates to deeds.

One who hearkens to the word of God gathers bright understanding of all that is in him, what is near to him, and what is above him; he clarifies his obligations in all aspects of life, and holy rules, like valuable pearls, are strung onto the thread of his conscience, which then precisely and definitely indicate how and when to act so that he please the Lord. He tames the passions — something reading the word of God always acts to assuage. No matter what passion troubles you, begin to read the word of God and the passion will become quieter and quieter, and at last it will be entirely calmed. He who enriches himself through knowledge of the word of God is overshadowed by the pillar of cloud which guided the Israelites in the desert.

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 20- "On bodily vigil"

5. Vigil is a quenching of lust, deliverance from dream phantoms, a tearful eye, a softened heart, the guarding of thoughts, the smelting furnace of food, the subduing of passions, the taming of spirits, the chastisement of the tongue, the banisment of phantasies.

November 27, 2017

(Mat 28:19-20) Going therefore, teach ye all nations: baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. And behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world.

CARDINAL TAGLE: “We are very happy that the Holy Father is visiting countries like Myanmar and Bangladesh where Christians are a minority.  Not only in Asia but in those two countries, we have very precarious situations, [both] political and humanitarian situations.  The Gospel brings people, hopefully, together in love. So we are very hopeful that this will happen".

CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE: Longing for peace: Pope to preach dialogue in Bangladesh, Myanmar

: Pope Francis sends video message to Myanmar ahead of visit

VATICAN RADIO: Pope Francis sends video message to the people of Bangladesh

NEWS: Myanmar braces for Pope Francis visit as Buddhist nationalism burns bright

A fiery brand of Buddhist nationalism is burning brighter than ever as Myanmar braces for its first ever papal visit, posing a challenge to the message of religious tolerance Pope Francis is expected to preach next week.

A wing of extremist monks have been stirring Islamaphobia in Myanmar for years, earning a reputation as incubators of “Buddhist terror”.

But their cause has received new support since August, when the army launched a brutal crackdown on the Muslim Rohingya, expelling more than half a million from the country.

Global outrage over the violence — which the UN and the US have called ethnic cleansing — has triggered an ultra-nationalistic reflex inside Myanmar, pushing the public towards firebrand monks who have long cast the Rohingya as ill-intentioned outsiders.

“Our ideas have now won the vast majority of the population,” said Ottama, a prominent monk in Buddhist nationalist circles.

Francis is already in the crosshairs of Buddhist hardliners for expressing sympathy for the Rohingya, whom he has referred to as “brothers”.

His public comments in Myanmar will be closely scoured for any mention of the group by name -- the term is rejected by the army, government and many in the Buddhist public, who insist the Muslims are “Bengalis”.

“I do not understand why the Pope is coming in the middle of a conflict, many people say he's coming for the Bengalis,” Nyo Nyo Aung, a follower of an ultra-nationalist monk, told AFP.

Myanmar's Catholic leaders have advised the Pope not to use the 'R-word', a path Suu Kyi has also taken to avoid triggering backlash from Buddhist nationalists, a powerful political bloc.

OPINION: Pope Francis shouldn't risk going to Myanmar


Highest-level security for Pope Francis in Bangladesh
Fear stalks Bangladesh's Christians after attacks
Awaiting Pope, Bangla Christians air worry

MORE: Schedule of Pope Francis’ apostolic visit to Myanmar, Bangladesh

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 20- "On bodily vigil"

4. A vigilant monk is a foe to fornication, but a sleepy one is its mate.

November 23, 2017

(Col 3:15-17) And let the peace of Christ rejoice in your hearts, wherein also you are called in one body: and be ye thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you abundantly: in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms, hymns and spiritual canticles, singing in grace in your hearts to God. All whatsoever you do in word or in work, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.

YOUTUBE: Want to be happy? Be grateful

DR. TAYLOR MARSHALL: 6 Interesting Catholic Thanksgiving Facts You Need to Know

ALETEIA: The first Thanksgiving in America was a Catholic Mass

id you know that the first “thanksgiving” meal in the United States was not celebrated by the Pilgrims in Plymouth, but by Spanish settlers, in what became Florida? And that first “Thanksgiving” was Eucharistic!

Historian Dr. Michael Gannon narrates the events that took place on September 8, 1565.

“When the first Spanish settlers landed in what is now St. Augustine on September 8, 1565, to build a settlement, their first act was to hold a religious service to thank God for the safe arrival of the Spanish fleet… After the Mass, Father Francisco Lopez, the Chaplin of the Spanish ships and the first pastor of St. Augustine, stipulated that the natives from the Timucua tribe be fed along with the Spanish settlers, including Don Pedro Menendez de Aviles, the leader of the expedition. It was the very first Thanksgiving and the first Thanksgiving meal in the United States.”

The Spaniards, with food that they brought with them on the ship, prepared the communal meal. According to records, the meal would have consisted of salted pork, garbanzo beans, ship’s bread and red wine.

This account of the first “thanksgiving” reflects what was found in Father Francisco’s memoirs. In it we read, “the feast day [was] observed . . . after Mass, ‘the Adelantado [Menendez] had the Indians fed and dined himself.’” The feast celebrated by the Spaniards was that of the Blessed Virgin Mary’s birthday, a day in the Church calendar that follows nine months after the feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary on December 8 (which just happens to be the patronal feast of the United States of America).

The meal “may have also included Caribbean foods that were probably collected when Menéndez stopped to regroup and resupply at San Juan Puerto Rico before continuing to Florida… If the Timucua contributed, it would likely have been with corn, fresh fish, berries, or beans.” Additionally, before the Mass was celebrated, “Father Francisco López, the fleet chaplain…came ashore ahead of Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, the leader of the founding expedition, and then went forward to meet Menéndez holding a cross… Menéndez came on land, knelt and kissed the cross.” This historical event reminds us that the Eucharist (from the Greek that literally means “thanksgiving”) is the primary way to offer thanks on Thanksgiving Day, followed by a meal shared in a spirit of fraternity. Let God be a central part of your holiday! As Americans this is our heritage, one that we hope to pass on to the next generation.

BLOG: The Eucharist as Thanksgiving: The Greek word for Thanksgiving is Eucharistia. Catholics should not only celebrate Thanksgiving with a deep sense of prayer, gratitude and joy, but the celebration this day should lead us to remember that our lives as Catholics are a constant act of thanksgiving, through our daily activities, all of which should give glory to God, especially through the celebration of the Eucharist, which, as the Catechism says, “The Eucharist is a sacrifice of thanksgiving to the Father, a blessing by which the church expresses her gratitude to God for all his benefits, for all that he has accomplished through creation, redemption and sanctification. Eucharist means first of all ‘thanksgiving.’” (Catechism of the Catholic Church).

CHURCHPOP: The Miraculous Story of the Forgotten Catholic Hero of the First Thanksgiving

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 20- "On bodily vigil"

3. A vigilent eye makes the mind pure; but much sleep hardens the soul.

November 22, 2017

(1Ti 2:1-4) I desire therefore, first of all, that supplications, prayers, intercessions and thanksgivings be made for all men: For kings and for all that are in high station: that we may lead a quiet and a peaceable life in all piety and chastity. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, Who will have all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

FR RICHARD HEILMAN: Combat Rosaries for the White House

AUDIO HOMILY: A Year After the Trump Election

Summary: We cannot fall prey to an irrational patriotism or chauvinism or jingoism which attributes too much credit to our beloved country or wants other countries to be like ours even if they have to be forced into it. We love America…but not the ideology of Americanism. We love our land, our ancestors, our people, our patrimony, but not necessarily the whole mythology of American Exceptionalism. Love of country is natural and is not based on slogans and propaganda. People feel a natural attachment to their place of origin. There is a willingness in them to fight to protect their homes and their communities. We naturally owe a debt of gratitude to our parents for all they have done for us, but also for our community, our state, and yes the country we grew up in.

For us who are members of the One True Church, we know that Christ and His Holy Kingdom alone bring true supernatural enlightenment and supernatural life to men. Christ and His Catholic Church provide the only lasting hope for mankind. The very world we live in…the universe itself…was created for the sake of the Catholic Church. As St. John of the Cross, the great Carmelite mystic observed, the cosmos was created for the purpose of being a palace for the Church…a special castle for the Queen of Christ the King. The City shining upon the Hill or the New Jerusalem is the Mystical Body of Christ. The beacon shining out to men in darkness is the Lux Mundi…the Light of the World…the Son of God Who enlightens the Moon of the Church who receives and reflects His perfect light.

But with that correction and clarification being made, there is no doubt that the good Lord does use various nations and secular leaders to accomplish His Holy Will. The Most Holy Trinity is concerned not just with spiritual and eternal matters, but also with the temporal affairs of men. The good Lord knows that rulers and nations can either assist in the work of salvation, or they can be a great hindrance. The Good Lord is concerned about souls and bodies…that He is Lord of heaven but also Lord and King of this earth…and that He is politically aware and active. While one does have to be cautious in suggesting that there might have been some Divine Collusion in regards to influencing last year's presidential election, one can surmise that the angels were watching out for us.

MSGR. CHARLES POPE: Teachings On Authority

POPE FRANCIS: “‘A good Catholic doesn’t meddle in politics.’ That’s not true. That is not a good path. A good Catholic meddles in politics, offering the best of himself, so that those who govern can govern. But what is the best that we can offer to those who govern? Prayer! That’s what Paul says: “Pray for all people, and for the king and for all in authority.” “But Father, that person is wicked, he should go to hell. . . .” Pray for him, pray for her, that they can govern well, that they can love their people, that they can serve their people, that they can be humble.” A Christian who does not pray for those who govern is not a good Christian! “But Father, how will I pray for that person, a person who has problems. . . .” “Pray that that person might convert!”

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 20- "On bodily vigil"

1. Some stand before earthly kings without weapons and without armour; but others hold staffs of office, or have shields, or swords. The former are vastly superior to the latter, for they are usually personal relations of the king and members of the royal household. So it is with earthly kings.

November 20, 2017

(Heb 12:1-2) And therefore we also having so great a cloud of witnesses over our head, laying aside every weight and sin which surrounds us, let us run by patience to the fight proposed to us: Looking on Jesus, the author and finisher of faith, who, having joy set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and now sitteth on the right hand of the throne of God.

POPE FRANCIS: “Humble and faithful disciple of Christ, he was distinguished for his tireless service to the poor. May his witness help priests, Religious and laity to live with joy the bond between the proclamation of the Gospel and love of the poor.”

MICHIGAN CATHOLIC: Holy Capuchin friar beatified before 65,000 people at Detroit’s Ford Field

SOLANUS CASEY CENTER:  Get to Know Fr. Solanus

: Blessed Solanus Casey: A Life of Holy Humility

A major event in the history of the Archdiocese of Detroit will occur on November 18th: Venerable Solanus Casey will be beatified, or given the title “Blessed”—the final step before possibly being declared a saint. Even though he grew up in Wisconsin, Detroiters have always considered him “ours” due to the numerous years he spent here, and the many amazing healings and other miracles that occurred through his prayers and intercession. Because of his loving and outgoing nature, Father Solanus was extremely popular at his assignments in New York, Indiana, and especially in Detroit. However, his path to holiness was not an easy one. As a young man, Barney Casey—the name he was given at birth—was very prayerful and spiritual. After several different jobs—including as a prison guard, during which he made friends with many of the convicts—he decided God was calling him to the priesthood. At the age of twenty- six he entered the local diocesan seminary in Milwaukee, but because of his academic failures, was dismissed. Barney made a novena for guidance, and heard a voice from Heaven telling him “Go to Detroit.” Doing so, he enrolled in the Capuchin seminary.

The Capuchins, who are a branch of the Franciscan Order, quickly realized Barney was a spiritual treasure, capable of achieving great holiness—but they were also concerned about his intellect: would he be smart enough to serve as a priest? Barney, who was given the name Solanus, was asked in 1901 to a sign a humiliating statement which read: “Since I do not know whether as a result of my meager talents and defective studies I am fit to assume the many-sided duties and serious responsibilities of the priesthood, I hereby declare that I do not want to become a priest if my legitimate superiors consider me unqualified.” I suspect most seminarians—myself included—would have considered this an unbearable insult, and would have refused or even rebelled. Solanus didn’t. He was hurt and confused by the request, but he made a heroic act of faith in God and humbly signed the document. If he hadn’t, he would not have later become a priest and probably would not have become holy. Three years later, in 1904, to his great joy, Solanus learned he would be ordained a priest—but then a further painful humiliation arose. His superiors decided he would be ordained a “priest simplex”—that is, a priest who, because he “didn’t know enough,” would only be allowed to say Mass, but not preach or hear confessions. Solanus was tempted to anger, depression, and self-pity—but at the age of thirty-four he accepted what would be a life-long humiliation, and prayed every day about it until he could actually thank God for humbling him in this manner.

Father Solanus was considered incapable of doing anything other than serving as a porter—that is, the member of the Capuchins assigned to answering the door of the monastery and dealing with the public. It was in this simple capacity that over the years he became truly holy (Patricia Treece, Nothing Short of A Miracle, pp. 38-39). In the same way, when we humble ourselves by accepting and embracing the life God has chosen for us, He is able to use us in a truly wonderful manner. Humility is an absolutely essential step on the path to holiness, and no one will enter Heaven without it.

Through the prophet Malachi (1:14-2:2, 8-10), the Lord warned the Temple priests in Jerusalem that if they did not repent of their arrogance and pride, He would humble them in a painful way. Unfortunately, they did not take this message to heart; that’s why later on Jesus—even though He acknowledged their religious authority—publicly criticized and rebuked them on numerous occasions. Our Lord (Mt 23:1-12) also warned His followers not to imitate the scribes and Pharisees by seeking public honors and special privileges; instead, He emphasized that true discipleship must involve compassion, humility, and service. And St. Paul reminded the Thessalonians (2:7-9, 13) that this was the approach he and his fellow missionaries used among them, stating that if they too remained humble, God’s grace would truly be at work within them.

Humility goes against our natural human inclinations. We want or even need to have others respect us, we enjoy being complimented, and when we do something good or worthwhile, we hope people will notice it and acknowledge and thank us. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with these feelings and desires, but because of our sinful human nature, these experiences can easily go to our head and eventually lead to the deadly sin of pride. Pride is the sin which turned Lucifer, the greatest of all the angels, into the hideous and repulsive creature of Satan. Pride led Judas, one of the Twelve Apostles, to harden his heart against Our Lord’s loving offer of friendship, and finally led to his act of betrayal, followed by his suicide and eternal damnation. Throughout history, pride has often resulted in wars, rebellion, injustice, hatred, broken homes, divided families, shattered dreams, bitter memories, ruined lives, and countless unknown human and spiritual tragedies. Unchecked and unrepented pride will ultimately destroy us by leading us to Hell. The only possible form of prevention or antidote is humility.

Being humble doesn’t mean putting ourselves down, but instead, giving God the credit for every good thing we do and every good thing we have. Being humble doesn’t mean denying our strengths and achievements, but instead, always being willing to notice and praise the abilities and accomplishments of others. Being humble doesn’t mean always suffering in silence or letting people push us around, but instead, doing all things, enduring all things, and offering up all things—whether good and bad—for the glory of God. Humility is simply the recognition that God knows best, that He has an infinite love for other people just as He does for us, and that the only way to be truly holy and truly happy is to surrender our lives into His hands.

Father Solanus Casey is a wonderful illustration of Our Lord’s promise that “whoever humbles himself will be exalted”—and if any of us struggle with temptations toward pride and self-importance, asking the intercession and assistance of this very simple and very holy Capuchin priest would be a truly wise and prudent thing to do. The more we practice humility, the more God’s grace will be powerfully present and active within us— and this is what we should desire more than anything else.

MORE: Father Solanus Casey Is Still Working Miracles

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 19- "On sleep, prayer and psalmody"

6. In chanting with many, it is impossible to pray with the wordless prayer of the spirit. But your mind should be engaged in contemplation of the words being chanted or read, or you should say some definite prayer while you are waiting for the alternate verse to be chanted.

November 17, 2017

(Rom 12:9-15) Let love be without dissimulation. Hating that which is evil, cleaving to that which is good, Loving one another with the charity of brotherhood: with honour preventing one another. In carefulness not slothful. In spirit fervent. Serving the Lord. Rejoicing in hope. Patient in tribulation. Instant in prayer. Communicating to the necessities of the saints. Pursuing hospitality. Bless them that persecute you: bless, and curse not. Rejoice with them that rejoice: weep with them that weep.

GALWAY ADVERTISER: A journey in Syria, among its resilient people

ALETEIA: Syria claims victory over ISIS amidst signs of rebuilding and new life

Reuters reported last week that Syria’s army and its allies have fully liberated the largest remaining stronghold of the Islamic State group. The news came from Hezbollah-controlled media, but Reuters said it signals the “imminent fall of the militant group’s self-proclaimed caliphate.” ISIS’ last Syrian stronghold, the report said, is in the eastern border town of Albu Kamal.

Victory over the militant jihadist group does not mean an end of difficulties for Syria, of course, as Reuters points out:

In Syria, the end of major battle operations against Islamic State may only prefigure a new phase of the war, as the rival forces which have seized territory from the jihadists square off.

But there have been positive signals from various parts of the shattered country that a resurrection is beginning. Even before the latest victory, Metropolitan Jean-Clement Jeanbart, Melkite Greek Catholic Archbishop of Aleppo, wrote in a September 22 pastoral letter that “the war against Syria is over.”

“Syria is preparing the launching of reconstruction projects to rebuild its infrastructures and the innumerable institutions which were destroyed,” wrote Archbishop Jeanbart, who said that “all the sectors of the city of Aleppo are now secure” and that houses have electricity and running water. “Our schools are functioning; our universities and institutes which are still standing have energetically restarted their activities. The economy is reviving; this will offer numerous opportunities for those looking for work. And this is only the beginning as many important projects, financed by other countries and international companies will now be looking for competent and reliable workers to be part of their enterprises in order to achieve satisfying and significant profits.”

The archbishop, who has spent the past six or seven years trying hard to stem a mass exit of Christians from Aleppo, said at the Knights of Columbus international convention in August that more than half of the Christian population had left Aleppo because of the fighting. He expects only around one-quarter of those to return.

He said in the new letter that in the months to come Syria will need doctors, teachers, executives, skilled technicians and laborers.

“We have noticed that many industrialists and businessmen have returned to Aleppo, either to repair their factories or to reestablish their offices and businesses,” the archbishop said. “In addition, there are government projects for the construction of affordable accommodation as well as the rebuilding of schools and public and social institutions.”

Avvenire, an Italian daily, said that Syria is “returning to life” after six and a half hard years of civil war. Aleppo is no longer a ghost town, the news outlet affirmed, which described residents repairing their houses or operating pastry shops and hardware stores.

“We have been financing these activities for more than a year now,” said Father Ibrahim Alsabagh, a parish priest. A local engineer said that there have been 900 requests from “Christians who want to return to the city.” So far, the homes of 90 have been rebuilt.

In Damascus, “water and electricity are back,” Avvenire noted.

“It seemed absurd to think it just a few months ago,” says Franciscan Father Bahjat Karakach, guardian of the Friary of St. Paul, “and now we can breathe a sigh of relief.” The market in front of the big mosque is hard to walk: tourists are not there, but traders welcome all those who can finally buy a scarf or some coffee. “Tell everyone that here is no longer so terrible, I recommend.” “Education is the first step in starting to rebuild Syria,” a Sister Yola, who runs a children’s shelter next to where tradition holds that St. Paul encountered Christ, told Avvenire. Many of the 140 children aged 3 to 5 are refugees.

Archbishop Jeanbart encouraged those who have suffered this far to continue to have patience. “This blessed land has given us a sweet and comfortable life under the eyes of God; it will be even more favorable and generous with the end of this senseless and crazy war,” he wrote. “Our trial is ended; be prepared for a future radiant with promise.”

CRUX: Vatican gravely concerned about Palestinian refugees in Syria

MEDITATION: Thoughts by St Theophan (1815-1894)

[II Thess. 2:13-3:5; Luke 13:1-9]

Pilate mingled the blood of Galileans with their sacrifices — the Lord said: except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish; the tower of Siloam fell and killed 18 people — the Lord again said: except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. This gives an understanding that when some misfortune befalls others, we must not reason about why it happened, but rather look at ourselves and examine whether there are any sins on us deserving temporary punishment for the instruction of others, and hasten to wipe them out with repentance. Repentance cleanses sin and removes the cause which attracts a catastrophe.

While a person is in sin, an axe is laid to the root of the tree of his life, ready to cut it down. It does not cut because it waits for repentance. Repent and the axe will be taken away, and your life will flow to its end in the natural order of things; if you do not repent — expect to be cut down. What man can know whether he will live to the next year? The parable about the fruitless fig tree shows that the Saviour prays that Divine justice spare each sinner in the hopes that he will repent and bring forth good fruits. But it sometimes happens that Divine justice no longer hears the intercessions, and perhaps He will only agree to allow somebody one more year to remain alive. How do you know, sinner, that you are not living your last year, your last month, day and hour?

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 19- "On sleep, prayer and psalmody"

5. It is possible for all to pray with a congregation; for many it is more suitable to pray with a single kindred spirit; solitary prayer is for the very few.

November 16, 2017

(Wis 6:10-12) To you, therefore, O kings, are these my words, that you may learn wisdom, and not fall from it. For they that have kept just things justly, shall be justified: and they that have learned these things, shall find what to answer. Covet ye, therefore, my words, and love them, and you shall have instruction.

LIFESITENEWS.COM: Cardinal Burke makes ‘final plea’ for clarity to Pope Francis on dubia anniversary

EXCERPT ARCHBISHOP CHAPUT: ‘Amoris Laetitia’ and the nature of mercy

I want to spend my remaining time on the pastoral challenges the text itself may seem to create; some general comments on the state of our Church; and how we as priests need to respond as “missionaries of mercy.” Ground Zero is this: For Christians, sexual intimacy outside a valid marriage can never be morally legitimate. And it’s the Church that determines what a valid marriage is.

Scripture’s clearest words about the indissolubility of marriage come from Jesus himself in Matthew 19. They can’t be softened, or reinterpreted, or contextualized. Christian marriage is a covenant between one man and one woman. When valid, it endures until the death of one or the other spouse. And our task as priests is to uphold and advance that truth as a message of liberation, even when it’s difficult.

The most widespread concerns voiced about the content of Amoris Laetitia – in public, but even more urgently and commonly in private — focus on Chapter 8, including footnote 351. Critics see in the text a preference for ambiguity over clear teaching and a resentment toward defenders of traditional Church teaching that seem out of sync with the rest of the document.

Since at least some of the people raising these issues are persons of fidelity and substance, their concerns can’t — in justice — be dismissed. And the resulting confusion is regrettable, because the whole purpose of Chapter 8 is to provide a merciful outreach to decent persons entangled in irregular marital situations.
So how should we proceed?

First, as with all papal documents regarding faith and morals, if any confusion exists in a text, it must be interpreted consistent with the magisterium of previous popes.
Second, I’ve been a priest for 47 years and a bishop for nearly 30. In all that time, I’ve met very few priests who like punishing anyone, kicking anyone out of their parish, or keeping anyone from taking part in the sacraments. But I’ve met hundreds of priests who worry that their people, while loving God, don’t really know their faith, don’t understand the sacraments, don’t catechize their children, and don’t know what a properly formed Catholic conscience is. Poorly formed, immature consciences are among the biggest pastoral challenges facing the Church. This is what makes delegating decisions about the nullity or validity of a first marriage to the internal forum a matter of real concern.

The Christian virtue of mercy flows out of charity and depends on the existence of justice and truth. Romano Guardini argued that mercy is a greater virtue than justice. And rightly so. But he also stressed that truth undergirds and is essential to both virtues. In other words, real mercy is always more than mere sentiment. It can never exclude careful moral reasoning about right and wrong. It can never be set against, or elevated above, the other virtues that are key to life-giving human behavior. Otherwise it becomes just another source of confusion. Permanent truths exist about human nature, sexuality, behavior and relationships. Those truths apply to all of us, in all circumstances, and justice involves living according to those truths.

But of course, all of us fail many times every day. Thus, mercy is God’s outreach through the Church to offer a way back to grace. It’s a living expression of his tenderness. But mercy does not abolish God’s justice any more than it can soften or adjust the demands of truth in order to be more congenial to our weaknesses, to our culture, or to our times.
Christian marriage is never simply an “ideal.” Describing it as an “ideal” tends to open the door to excusing and then normalizing failure. Clearly many married couples do fail, especially in today’s world of institutionalized selfishness. They need our understanding and support, especially in cases of domestic violence.

But if grace is real, and God’s word is true, then the joy of a permanent marriage is possible for anyone called to the vocation. This is why better preparation and support for couples considering marriage are so vital. It’s also why we need to defend the permanence of the marriage bond wherever and whenever we reasonably can. The permanent, loving bond between a man and a woman open to new life is the glue of a culture and the guarantee of its future. We need to fight for it, and not collapse – like so many other Christian communities — into the confusion of a society based on compromises, caveats and alibis. That’s the message we need to preach and teach.

More than 70 years ago the economic historian Karl Polanyi wrote a book called The Great Transformation. It’s one of the seminal works of the last century. It chronicles the deep changes that took place during the Industrial Revolution – not just in economics but in politics, law, patterns of thought, and all kinds of human relationships. We’re living in that same kind of moment right now. So much of life can seem out of our control and beyond our influence. As Joseph Ratzinger saw five decades ago, the Church of the future will very likely be smaller, poorer, and empty of prestige – not everywhere, but certainly in the nations that like to posture themselves “advanced.” We might mitigate that outcome with smart thinking and good Church leadership. But we probably can’t prevent it. The reason is simple. We can’t quick-fix ourselves out of moral and social problems we behaved ourselves into. And knowing that can easily lead to frustration and despair.

But God doesn’t ask us to save the Church or fix the world. That’s in his hands. What he asks is much simpler and more important. He asks each of us as priests to be faithful, and to be his healing presence to his – and to our – people.

In the midst of confusion, he asks us to speak and live the truth. In the midst of conflict, he asks us to be peacemakers. In the midst of distress, he asks us to be sources of hope. The curse of our age is loneliness; a loneliness wrapped in relentless noise to muffle the worry that our lives and sufferings have no meaning. No matter how intractable or unfixable the problems of a marriage or family might be, the priest who listens and counsels with a spirit of mercy guided by truth is doing what God called him to do: to be the presence of God’s love in the world.

There’s no greater mission of mercy than that, and no greater joy in the life of a priest.

CDL. MÜLLER: No Exceptions on Communion for Divorced and Civilly Remarried

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 19- "On sleep, prayer and psalmody"

4. The really obedient man often suddenly becomes radiant and exultant during prayer; for this wrestler was prepared and fired beforehand by his sincere service.

November 10, 2017

(Sir 39:8-13) For if it shall please the great Lord, he will fill him with the spirit of understanding: And he will pour forth the words of his wisdom as showers, and in his prayer he will confess to the Lord. And he shall direct his counsel, and his knowledge, and in his secrets shall he meditate. He shall shew forth the discipline he hath learned, and shall glory in the law of the covenant of the Lord. Many shall praise his wisdom, and it shall never be forgotten. The memory of him shall not depart away, and his name shall be in request from generation to generation.

CATHOLIC FAITH AND REASON: Leo the Great: The First Pope Doctor of the Church

GET FED: Pope Saint Leo the Great and the Persuader

FORDHAM UNIVERSITY: Medieval Sourcebook: Leo I and Attila

Attila, the leader of the Huns, who was called the scourge of God, came into Italy, inflamed with fury, after he had laid waste with most savage frenzy Thrace and Illyricum, Macedonia and Moesia, Achaia and Greece, Pannonia and Germany. He was utterly cruel in inflicting torture, greedy in plundering, insolent in abuse. . . . He destroyed Aquileia from the foundations and razed to the ground those regal cities, Pavia and Milan ; he laid waste many other towns, and was rushing down upon Rome. [This is, of course, an exaggeration. Attila does not seem to have destroyed the buildings, even in Milan and Pavia.]

Then Leo had compassion on the calamity of Italy and Rome, and with one of the consuls and a lar,e part of the Roman senate he went to meet Attila. The old man of harmless simplicity, venerable in his gray hair and his majestic garb, ready of his own will to give himself entirely for the defense of his flock, went forth to meet the tyrant who was destroying all things. He met Attila, it is said, in the neighborhood of the river Mincio, and he spoke to the grim monarch, saying "The senate and the people of Rome, once conquerors of the world, now indeed vanquished, come before thee as suppliants. We pray for mercy and deliverance. O Attila, thou king of kings, thou couldst have no greater glory than to see suppliant at thy feet this people before whom once all peoples and kings lay suppliant. Thou hast subdued, O Attila, the whole circle of the lands which it was granted to the Romans, victors over all peoples, to conquer. Now we pray that thou, who hast conquered others, shouldst conquer thyself The people have felt thy scourge; now as suppliants they would feel thy mercy."

As Leo said these things Attila stood looking upon his venerable garb and aspect, silent, as if thinking deeply. And lo, suddenly there were seen the apostles Peter and Paul, clad like bishops, standing by Leo, the one on the right hand, the other on the left. They held swords stretched out over his head, and threatened Attila with death if he did not obey the pope's command. Wherefore Attila was appeased he who had raged as one mad. He by Leo's intercession, straightway promised a lasting peace and withdrew beyond the Danube.

ST PETERS BASILICA: Altar of St. Leo the Great by Alessandro Algardi, 1645-53

The Meeting between St. Leo the Great and Attila is the only altarpiece in St. Peter's consisting of a monumental marble relief.

It depicts the pope repelling Attila and the Huns from attacking Rome. Attila raises his arm as Sts. Peter and Paul appear in the sky.

UNIVERSALIS: A sermon of St Leo the Great

The special obligations of our ministry

Although the universal Church of God is constituted of distinct orders of members, still, in spite of the many parts of its holy body, the Church subsists as an integral whole, just as the Apostle says: We are all one in Christ. No difference in office is so great that anyone can be separated, through lowliness, from the head. In the unity of faith and baptism, therefore, our community is undivided. There is a common dignity, as the apostle Peter says in these words: And you are built up as living stones into spiritual houses, a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices which are acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. And again: But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people set apart.

For all, regenerated in Christ, are made kings by the sign of the cross; they are consecrated priests by the oil of the Holy Spirit, so that beyond the special service of our ministry as priests, all spiritual and mature Christians know that they are a royal race and are sharers in the office of the priesthood. For what is more king-like than to find yourself ruler over your body after having surrendered your soul to God? And what is more priestly than to promise the Lord a pure conscience and to offer him in love unblemished victims on the altar of one’s heart?

Because, through the grace of God, it is a deed accomplished universally on behalf of all, it is altogether praiseworthy and in keeping with a religious attitude for you to rejoice in this our day of consecration, to consider it a day when we are especially honoured. For indeed one sacramental priesthood is celebrated throughout the entire body of the Church. The oil which consecrates us has richer effects in the higher grades, yet it is not sparingly given in the lower.

Sharing in this office, my dear brethren, we have solid ground for a common rejoicing; yet there will be more genuine and excellent reason for joy if you do not dwell on the thought of our unworthiness. It is more helpful and more suitable to turn your thoughts to study the glory of the blessed apostle Peter. We should celebrate this day above all in honour of him. He overflowed with abundant riches from the very source of all graces, yet though he alone received much, nothing was given over to him without his sharing it. The Word made flesh lived among us, and in redeeming the whole human race, Christ gave himself entirely.

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 19- "On sleep, prayer and psalmody"

2. Just as over-drinking is a matter of habit, so too from habit comes over-sleeping. Therefore we must struggle with the question of sleep, especially in the early days of obedience, because a long-standing habit is difficult to cure.

November 8, 2017

(Rev 6:9-11) And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held. And they cried with a loud voice, saying: How long, O Lord (Holy and True), dost thou not judge and revenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? And white robes were given to every one of them one; And it was said to them that they should rest for a little time till their fellow servants and their brethren, who are to be slain even as they, should be filled up.

REVIEW: "We Are Going to Burn You Alive!" Muslim Persecution of Christians, June 2017

AINA: Christians in Egypt Pelted With Rocks in Attack on Town - Four Churches Forced to Shut

ICN: Coptic priest murdered in Cairo - Statement by Bishop Angaelos

Another day in Egypt with another Coptic Christian murdered; this time a priest from Beni Suef, Upper Egypt, who was in Cairo collecting humanitarian aid for those most needy in his parish. Fr Samaan was paying a pastoral visit to a family in Cairo and returned to the church where he was earlier to collect his mobile phone. On the way, he was attacked by a knife-wielding assailant who chased him, stabbed him repeatedly, and then brutally killed him.

This incident makes us once again ask so many questions. Why should a priest not be able to walk safely down a street, especially a suburban street in Cairo? Why should he be chased by a man brandishing a deadly weapon and have no one run to his aid; in actual fact, everyone was running away. Why, when he lay drenched in his own blood did the ambulance service not arrive for over an hour, and then not treat him? Why, when the police finally arrived, and he lay dead, was a crime scene not secured and forensic evidence not collected to enable a robust and serious investigation? Why is his assailant immediately deemed mentally incapable without professional diagnosis, and why, if he is incapable, and a known violent criminal, is he left in the community with weapons within his reach?

After the initial shock and the immense sadness, today is a day that brings anger and I am not apologetic for that anger. I would be just as angry if this was any other person being dealt with in this way, in any other part of Egypt or indeed any other part of the world. Yet he is a Christian, a Coptic Christian, and a Coptic priest, which makes it all the more close and all the more painful.

Just this week I have been with a Coptic delegation from Cairo seeking grants to serve not only the Coptic community but the wider Egyptian community. Grants that would cover health, education and poverty eradication. Where was this wider Egyptian community however when Father Samaan ran terrified through a street being chased by a violent criminal, and where was it when he lay dying and alone? Where was it when the assailant attacked him repeatedly, and where will it be while his family and congregation grieve the loss of their father, husband, brother, pastor and friend? These are questions that need to be addressed at every level of Egyptian community and leadership.

Crime cannot be totally eradicated, but at least it needs to be properly investigated, prosecuted, and shown to be a violation against the whole state and not just its immediate victim.

The immense pain of this incident and all that have preceded it, including: child kidnapping, forced conversion, individual targeting, bus attacks and church bombings against the Coptic Orthodox community in Egypt, leads us to hold more strongly onto the words of our Lord God in Exodus 3:7: "I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry…for I know their sorrows." Coptic Christians who have endured injustice, persecution, and loss of life for centuries without retaliation, repeatedly forgiving unconditionally, deserve to live with respect and dignity in their indigenous homeland.

While recognising that anger may often open a path to hatred or resentment, there are times at which it is a natural expression of a human emotion, and reaction to a sense of deep injustice. I am sure that I am not alone in my anger, but that it is shared by every law-abiding person of any belief and indeed of none, who has witnessed this vicious and inhumane attack. In the midst of this anger and this sadness however I continue to pray. I pray repose for Father Samaan, I pray for his family, I pray for his community. I pray for the wider Egyptian Christian community that feels more and more vulnerable and targeted daily against a backdrop of negligence and injustice. I pray for the wider Egyptian society, that becomes more and more discredited and compromised as these incidents continue to happen.

This anger is not void of forgiveness, but cries out for accountability and justice.

CRISIS MAGAZINE: Islamic Family Values

MORE: Persecuted in Egypt, Christians aim for better life in York

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 19- "On sleep, prayer and psalmody"

1. Sleep is a particular state of nature, an image of death, inactivity of the senses. Sleep is one, but, like desire, its sources and occasions are many; that is to say, it comes from nature, from food, from demons, or perhaps, sometimes, from extreme and prolonged fasting, through which the flesh is weakened and at last longs for the consolation of sleep.

November 6, 2017  

(1Th 5:19-21) Extinguish not the spirit. Despise not prophecies. But prove all things: hold fast that which is good.


VATICAN INSIDER (translated): Medjugorje, Parolin: "The Holy See wants to regulate the phenomenon"

On the question of Medjugorje, "it is the will of the Holy See to help regulate the phenomenon so that the faithful who come here can listen to the Word of God, celebrate the sacraments, and experience an authentic experience of faith." It is the Vatican Secretary of State, Pietro Parolin, to intervene on the delicate affaire for years in the center of studies and investigations by the Vatican.

Visiting these days in Croatia Cardinal answers questions of journalists to whom - reports on Sir - recalls that the Commission led results by Cardinal Camillo Ruini and mandated to shed light on the "phenomenon" of the Marian apparitions, which began in 1981 and not still interrupted, in the village of Herzegovina that every year attracts hundreds of thousands of faithful and pilgrims are all "in the hands of the Holy Father."

There is not only the "supernatural" dimension of the events to be analyzed, it has also highlighted the cardinal, it is equally important the question of the "pastoral care" of pilgrims. This is why the Pope appointed the Polish Archbishop Henryk Hoser as his "special envoy" on February 11 , not for a supplement of inquiry, but as a Vatican press, in order to "acquire more in-depth knowledge of the pastoral situation of that reality and above all the needs of the faithful who come to pilgrimage. "

Along with the Croatian press, Parolin has come to the merits of another equally thorny issue, which has remained unanswered so far: the canonization of Blessed Alojzije Stepinac. The Archbishop of Zagreb is a figure that, after decades, creates a profound division of Catholic Catholics who acclaim him as a holy pastor and Orthodox Serbs accusing him of being a collaborator of the Nazi-fascist regime during the Second World War.

Regard to the work of Stepinac during those dramatic years was established a year ago a joint commission between the Croatian Bishops' Conference and the Serbian Orthodox Church, which has completed its work, in the Casa Santa Marta, the past 12 to 13 July, under the leadership of President of the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences, Father Bernard Ardura , who, however, failed to achieve "a unambiguous interpretation".

However, Parolin says: "I believe that the work of the Commission has been helpful and that this process has helped to promote dialogue and understanding." "Wounds that leave historical facts can not be overcome from today to tomorrow," he added. It is important to keep the direction to go and work for communion and peace. Interreligious and ecumenical dialogue is a fundamental tool to achieve this goal. "

The documents produced by the Commission for the "common re-reading" of Archbishop Stepinac's life and work are, like those of Medjugorje, "in the hands" of the Pontiff, explained the Secretary of State. And he reiterated that Papa Bergoglio's "desire" is that this issue does not create tensions between the two peoples but help the common path. " In any case, "the question is internal to the Catholic Church and it seems important to emphasize it."


Papal Envoy: Medjugorje Apparitions Could Be Recognized This Year
Is Rome changing course on Medjugorje

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 18- "On insensibility"

4. I have seen many people hear about death and the terrible judgment and shed tears, and with the tears still in their eyes they eagerly go to a meal. And I was amazed how this tyrant, this stinkpot of gluttony, by complete insensibility, can grow so strong as to turn the tables even on mourning.

November 2, 2017

(2Ti 4:7-8) I have fought a good fight: I have finished my course: I have kept the faith. As to the rest, there is laid up for me a crown of justice which the Lord the just judge will render to me in that day: and not only to me, but to them also that love his coming. Make haste to come to me quickly.

MYSTICS OF THE CHURCH:  Amazing stories from Purgatory and the afterlife

CATHOLIC JOURNAL: My Home Is Just On The Other Side by Father Joseph Esper

CERC: All Saints, All Souls by Father George William Rutler

The greatest saints could have been the worst people who ever lived if they had misused their native gifts.

St. Augustine's intellect could have created a convincingly false religion. St. Louis IX could have used his rank to ruin his kingdom. St. John of Capistrano could have invoked his charismatic charm to persuade the Christian soldiers to surrender Western civilization, and St. Ignatius Loyola could have used his organizational skills to destroy the Faith in foreign lands.

By the same logic, the worst villains in history could have become saints if they had used their political power, rhetorical talents, and energy to spread the Gospel. Herod the Great might have become a Christmas hero; the faithful might now be lighting candles at the tomb of Lenin as at a reliquary, and churches might have been dedicated to saints named Mao Tse-tung and Pol Pot and Adolf Hitler if . . . On that "if" hangs all human destiny. "If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will enter his house and dine with him, and he with me" (Rev. 3: 20).

The Feast of All Saints celebrates those who opened their doors to Christ. On All Souls Day the Church prays for those who have offered their free wills freely to the Lord and who now prepare, with the help of our suffrages, to enter into his glory. St. Paul said that God "alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see" (1 Tim. 6:16). The same saint, who was blinded by the perceptible light of God in Christ on the Damascus road, later assured his friend Timothy: "I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith. From now on the crown of righteousness awaits me, which the Lord, the just judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me, but to all who have longed for his appearance" (2 Tim. 4: 6-8). Last summer I ran a few miles in the Wall Street Race and at the finish line I received a T-shirt. I was not ungrateful for it, but Our Lord did not do all he did for us, showing us the face of God both battered and radiant, crucified and risen, just to give us a T-shirt.

The crown of righteousness is offered to all those who take off their masks, for we cannot see God if we are disguised by pride. A culture of death does not make the transition from All Hallows Eve to All Hallows Day. St. John never disguised his love for his Master, and he assures our confused world: "Beloved, we are God's children now; what we shall be has not been revealed. We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is" (1 John 3:2).

: Praying for the Dead and Gaining Indulgences During November

Indulgenced Acts for the Poor Souls A partial indulgence can be obtained by devoutly visiting a cemetery and praying for the departed, even if the prayer is only mental. One can gain a plenary indulgence visiting a cemetery each day between November 1 and November 8. These indulgences are applicable only to the Souls in Purgatory.

A plenary indulgence, again applicable only the Souls in Purgatory, is also granted when the faithful piously visit a church or a public oratory on November 2. In visiting the church or oratory, it is required, that one Our Father and the Creed be recited.

A partial indulgence, applicable only to the Souls in Purgatory, can be obtained when the Eternal Rest (Requiem aeternam) is prayed. This can be prayed all year, but especially during the month of November:

Requiem aeternam dona ei (eis), Domine, et lux perpetua luceat ei (eis). Requiescat (-ant) in pace Amen.

Eternal rest grant to them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 18- "On insensibility"

2. Insensibility is negligence that has become habit, benumbed thought, the child of predispositions, a snare for zeal, the noose of courage, ignorance of compunction, a door to despair, the mother of forgetfulness which gives birth to loss of the fear of God. And then she becomes the daughter of her own daughter.
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