Keep your eyes open!...



October 31, 2016

(Rom 14:8-9) For whether we live, we live unto the Lord: or whether we die, we die unto the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord's. For to this end Christ died and rose again: that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.

CATHOLIC PHILLY: 3 Holy Halloween Tales to Give you the Chills

WORD ON FIRE: It's Time For Catholics to Embrace Halloween by Fr. Steve Grunow

COMMENTARY: The Crucifixion Made Halloween Possible

EXCERPT CATHOLIC ONLINE: Is it okay for Catholics to celebrate Halloween? An exorcist explains

Father Vincent Lampert is a Vatican-trained exorcist and a parish priest of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis who travels the country, speaking about his work as an exorcist and what people can do to protect themselves against the demonic.

He said when deciding what to do about Halloween, it's important for parents to remember the Christian origins of the holiday and to celebrate accordingly, rather than in a way that glorifies evil.

"Ultimately I don't think there's anything wrong with the kids putting on a costume, dressing up as a cowboy or Cinderella, and going through the neighborhood and asking for candy; that's all good clean fun," Fr. Lampert said.

Even a sheet with some holes cut in it as a ghost is fine, Fr. Lampert said.

The danger lies in costumes that deliberately glorify evil and instill fear in people, or when people pretend to have special powers or dabble in magic and witchcraft, even if they think it's just for entertainment. 

"In the book of Deuteronomy, in chapter 18, it talks about not trying to consult the spirits of the dead, not consulting those who dabble in magic and witchcraft and the like," he said, "because it's a violation of a church commandment that people are putting other things ahead of their relationship with God."

"And that would be the danger of Halloween that somehow God is lost in all of this, the religious connotation is lost and then people end up glorifying evil."

It's also important to remember that the devil and evil spirits do not actually have any additional authority on Halloween, Fr. Lampert said, and that it only seems that way.

"It's because of what people are doing, not because of what the devil is doing. Perhaps by the way they're celebrating that day, they're actually inviting more evil into our lives," he said.

One of the best things parents can do is to use Halloween as a teachable moment, Fr. Lampert said. (8-**$?6);5

"A lot of children are out celebrating Halloween, perhaps evil is being glorified, but we're not really sitting around and talking about why certain practices are not conducive with our Catholic faith and our Catholic identity. I think using it as a teachable moment would be a great thing to do."

ARCHIVES FR. ALTIER HOMILY: Mass of Reparation Eve of the Feast of All Saints

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 8- "On Freedom from Anger and on Meekness"

3. Meekness is an immovable state of the soul which remains unaffected, whether in evil report or in good report, in dishonour or in praise.

October 28, 2016

(Rom 13:10-12) The love of our neighbour worketh no evil. Love therefore is the fulfilling of the law. And that, knowing the season, that it is now the hour for us to rise from sleep. For now our salvation is nearer than when we believed. The night is passed And the day is at hand. Let us, therefore cast off the works of darkness and put on the armour of light.


Several years ago, I was approached by man who asked me to be his spiritual director. He was in his mid-forties and almost everything about him radiated a certain health. As we sat down to talk, I mentioned that he seemed to be in a very good space. He smiled and replied that, yes, this was so, but it hadn’t always been so. His happiness had its own history … and its own pre-history.  Here’s how he told his story:

“I haven’t always been in a good space in my life; in fact, it’s been a long struggle to get where I am today. For more than 20 years, from the time I left high school until three years ago, I struggled with two addictions: alcohol and sex. I had them enough under control that I could essentially hide them from my family, my friends, and my colleagues. As well I never acted out in very dangerous ways. I was addicted, but still had good control in my life. The problem was that I was living a double life – showing one life to my family and friends and living another life secretly (alcohol, pornography, and pick-up bars) on the side. I never once missed a day of work and was always able to function at a high level professionally, but my life slowly began to fixate around my addictions – hiding them, lying about my activities, fiercely protecting my privacy, resentment towards anything or anybody who stood between me and my addictions, and daily anxiety, scheming about where I would go at night. I functioned decently within my work and my relationships, but my mind, heart, and real attention were focused on something else, my addictions, my next hit.

I’m not sure what the exact trigger was since there were a number of things that hit me at a point (my father’s death, a couple of near escapes in terms of being discovered, some real shame, some graced moments of clarity when I sensed both my hypocrisy and the dead-end road I was on), but three years ago I went on a retreat to a monastery and had the courage to have a long talk with the Abbott. He suggested that I go into two recovery programs, one to deal with alcohol and the other to deal with sex. I took his advice and all I can say is that it has completely turned my life around. I’ve been “sober” now for three years and the best way that I can describe it is that now “I see color again”. Nothing feels as great as honesty! I have never been this happy!  I’m now living in the light!”

We’re called to live in the light, but we tend to have an overly romantic idea of what that should mean. We tend to think that to live in the light means that there should be a kind of special sunshine inside of us, a divine glow in our conscience, a sunny joy inside us that makes us constantly want to praise God, an ambience of sacredness surrounding our attitude.  But that’s unreal.  What does it mean to live in the light?

To live in the light means to live in honesty, pure and simple, to be transparent, to not have part of us hidden as a dark secret.

All conversion and recovery programs worthy of the name are based on bringing us to this type of honesty. We move towards spiritual health precisely by flushing out our sickest secrets and bringing them into the light. Sobriety is more about living in honesty and transparency than it is about living without a certain chemical, gambling, or sexual habit. It’s the hiding of something, the lying, the dishonesty, the deception, the resentment we harbor towards those who stand between us and our addiction, that does the real damage to us and to those we love.

Spiritual health lies in honesty and transparency and so we live in the light when we are willing to lay every part of our lives open to examination by those who need to trust us.

·       To live in the light is to be able always to tell our loves ones where we are and what we are doing.

·       To live in the light is not have to worry if someone traces what websites we have visited.

·       To live in the light is to not be anxious if someone in the family finds our files unlocked.

·       To live in the light is to be able to let those we live with listen to what’s inside our cell-phones, see what’s inside our emails, and know who’s on our speed-dial.

·       To live in the light is to have a confessor and to be able to tell that person what we struggle with, without having to hide anything.

To live in the light is to live in such a way that, for those who know us, our lives are an open book.

MEDITATION: Thoughts by St Theophan (1815-1894)

[Phil. 2:17-23; Luke 6:37-45]

Judge not, forgive, give... It seems like nothing but expenses, without any profit. But behold what is promised: if you do not condemn, you will not be condemned; if you forgive, you will be forgiven; if you give, you will be given to. Right now the profit is not visible, but it will undoubtedly come for the one who makes these expenditures from the heart — it will come precisely at that time when he needs non-condemnation and forgiveness the most. How he will rejoice when he is suddenly made worthy to receive such good gifts as if for nothing!

And on the contrary, how another will sorrow and grieve, because he did not know how to profitably manage his property! He would now forgive everything and give away everything, but it is too late: everything has its time. Not everyone pursues the profit that comes directly into one's hands, almost right after the expenditure. A Russian proverb says, throw bread and salt behind you, and you will find it in front of you. This kind of action really is like throwing something, but in this case it is not thrown underfoot to be trampled, but into the hands of God. These hands are true, and sure to return what they receive. Just hold to faith and hope.

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 8- "On Freedom from Anger and on Meekness"

2. Freedom from anger is an insatiable appetite for dishonour, just as in the vainglorious there is an unbounded desire for praise. Freedom from anger is victory over nature and insensibility to insults, acquired by struggles and sweat.

October 26, 2016

(1Co 6:19-20) Or know you not that your members are the temple of the Holy Ghost, who is in you, whom you have from God: and you are not your own? For you are bought with a great price. Glorify and bear God in your body.

CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE FAITH: Instruction Ad resurgendum cum Christo regarding the burial of the deceased and the conservation of the ashes in the case of cremation

SUMMARY: Vatican: Cremation ashes cannot be scattered, divvied up, or kept at home

The Vatican on Tuesday published guidelines for Catholics who want to be cremated, saying their remains cannot be scattered, divvied up or kept at home but rather stored in a sacred, church-approved place.

The new instructions were released just in time for Halloween and “All Souls Day” on Nov. 2, when the faithful are supposed to pray for and remember the dead.

For most of its 2,000-year history, the Catholic Church only permitted burial, arguing that it best expressed the Christian hope in resurrection. But in 1963, the Vatican explicitly allowed cremation as long as it didn’t suggest a denial of faith about resurrection.

The new document from the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith repeats that burial remains preferred, with officials calling cremation a “brutal destruction” of the body. But it lays out guidelines for conserving ashes for the increasing numbers of Catholics who choose cremation for economic, ecological or other reasons.

It said it was doing so to counter what it called “new ideas contrary to the church’s faith” that had emerged since 1963, including New Age-y ideas that death is a “fusion” with Mother Nature and the universe, or the “definitive liberation” from the prison of the body.

To set the faithful straight, the Vatican said ashes and bone fragments cannot be kept at home, since that would deprive the Christian community as a whole of remembering the dead. Rather, church authorities should designate a sacred place, such as a cemetery or church area, to hold them.

Only in extraordinary cases can a bishop allow ashes to be kept at home, it said. Vatican officials declined to say what circumstances would qualify, but presumably countries where Catholics are a persecuted minority and where Catholic churches and cemeteries have been ransacked would qualify.

The document said remains cannot be divided among family members or put in lockets or other mementos. Nor can the ashes be scattered in the air, land or sea since doing so would give the appearance of “pantheism, naturalism or nihilism,” the guidelines said.

It repeated church teaching that Catholics who choose to be cremated for reasons contrary to the Christian faith must be denied a Christian funeral.

ESSAY: The Incarnational Nature of Life, Death, and Catholicism

MSGR POPE ARCHIVES: Considering Cremation? A Reflection on the Reverent Interment of Cremated Human Remains

ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN PERSPECTIVE: Concerning Burning by Fr. Lawrence Farley

ASK A PRIEST: Why Should We Care About Bodies of the Dead?

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 8- "On Freedom from Anger and on Meekness"

1. As the gradual pouring of water on a fire completely extinguishes the flame, so the tears of true mourning are able to quench every flame of anger and irritability. Therefore, we place this next in order.

October 24, 2016

(Rom 12:1-2) I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercy of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, pleasing unto God, your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be reformed in the newness of your mind, that you may prove what is the good and the acceptable and the perfect will of God.

POPE FRANCIS: “Today what is required of us is courage to be alternative in the world, without ever becoming argumentative or aggressive. What is required of us is the courage to be open to all, without ever diminishing the absoluteness and uniqueness of Christ, the one Savior of all.”

FR RICHARD HEILMAN: Are We Headed for a Chastisement? Prophecy of Archbishop Fulton Sheen

YOUTUBE: Spiritual Protection by Fr Ripperger

: Remembering who we are and the story we belong to

Catholics today — and I’m one of them — feel a lot of unease about declining numbers and sacramental statistics. Obviously we need to do everything we can to bring tepid Catholics back to active life in the Church. But we should never be afraid of a smaller, lighter Church if her members are also more faithful, more zealous, more missionary and more committed to holiness. Making sure that happens is the job of those of us who are bishops.

Losing people who are members of the Church in name only is an imaginary loss. It may in fact be more honest for those who leave and healthier for those who stay. We should be focused on commitment, not numbers or institutional throw-weight. We have nothing to be afraid of as long as we act with faith and courage.

We need to speak plainly and honestly. Modern bureaucratic life, even in the Church, is the enemy of candor and truth. We live in an age that thrives on the subversion of language. And here’s one example. “Accompaniment,” when Pope Francis uses the word, is a great and obvious good. Francis rightly teaches us the need to meet people where they are, to walk with them patiently, and to befriend them on the road of life. But the same word is widely misused by others. Where the road of life leads does make a difference — especially if it involves accompanying someone over a cliff.

Here’s another example: A theologian in my own diocese recently listed “inclusivity” as one of the core messages of Vatican II. Yet to my knowledge, that word “inclusivity” didn’t exist in the 1960s and appears nowhere in the council documents.

If by “inclusive” we mean patiently and sensitively inviting all people to a relationship with Jesus Christ, then yes, we do very much need to be inclusive. But if “inclusive” means including people who do not believe what the Catholic faith teaches and will not reform their lives according to what the Church holds to be true, then inclusion is a form of lying. And it’s not just lying but an act of betrayal and violence against the rights of those who do believe and do seek to live according to God’s Word. Inclusion requires conversion and a change of life; or at least the sincere desire to change.

Saying this isn’t a form of legalism or a lack of charity. It’s simple honesty. And there can be no real charity without honesty. We need to be very careful not to hypnotize ourselves with our words and dreams. The “new evangelization” is fundamentally not so different from the “old evangelization.” It begins with personal witness and action, and with sincere friendships among committed Catholics — not with bureaucratic programs or elegant sounding plans. These latter things can be important. But they’re never the heart of the matter.

When I was ordained a bishop, a wise old friend told me that every bishop must be part radical and part museum curator – a radical in preaching and living the Gospel, but a protector of the Christian memory, faith, heritage and story that weave us into one believing people over the centuries.

I try to remember that every day. Americans have never liked history. The reason is simple. The past comes with obligations on the present, and the most cherished illusion of American life is that we can remake ourselves at will. But we Christians are different. We’re first and foremost a communion of persons on mission through time – and our meaning as individuals comes from the part we play in that larger communion and story.

If we want to reclaim who we are as a Church, if we want to renew the Catholic imagination, we need to begin, in ourselves and in our local parishes, by unplugging our hearts from the assumptions of a culture that still seems familiar but is no longer really “ours.” It’s a moment for courage and candor, but it’s hardly the first moment of its kind.

This is why Mary – the young Jewish virgin, the loving mother, and the woman who punches the devil in the nose – was, is, and always will be the great defender of the Church. And so we can say with confidence: Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us. And St. Cyril of Jerusalem, patron of bishops, be our model and brother in our service to Mary’s son, Jesus Christ.

So be it: Amen.

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 7- "On Joy-Making Mourning"

35. Do not trust your fountains of tears before your soul has been perfectly purified. For wine cannot be trusted when it is drawn straight from the vats.

October 21, 2016

(Exo 20:13) Thou shalt not kill.

VIA VICTIMS OF ABORTIONBroken Branches Newsletter Issue 113

CATHOLICCITIZENS.ORG: Pro-Choice is NOT Pro-Life, or Catholic

: Hillary Clinton Defends Killing Babies in Partial-Birth Abortions: “Government Shouldn’t Step In”

During the presidential debate, pro-abortion presidential candidate Hillary Clinton defended partial birth abortions on babies late in pregnancy. She said that she didn’t think the government should be stepping in to protect unborn children that late in pregnancy.

Despite factual information showing that partial birth abortions happen in most cases on healthy babies and healthy mothers, Clinton claimed that killing unborn children in partial birth abortions was necessary because of supposed special cases where abortion was necessary to save the life or health of the mother — even though considerable research has documented the fact that abortions often hurt and kill women.

NATIONAL REVIEW: Clinton on Late-Term Abortions: Checking the Fact-Checkers

EXCERPT USCCB: An Unusual Medical Consensus: Partial-Birth Abortion Is Never Necessary

Prominent medical organizations and medical experts who disagree about abortion in general, all agree that the partial-birth procedure is never medically necessary.
ABORTIONFACTS.COM: Partial Birth Abortion

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 7- "On Joy-Making Mourning"

34. It is not surprising if mourning begins with good tears and ends with bad. But it is praiseworthy if reprehensible and natural tears are goaded on to spiritual tears. People inclined to vainglory understand this problem clearly.

October 19, 2016

(2Ch 7:14) And my people, upon whom my name is called, being converted, shall make supplication to me, and seek out my face, and do penance for their most wicked ways: then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sins and will heal their land.

POPE FRANCIS:  "Study the proposals well, pray and choose in conscience."


: Voting as a Catholic in 2016

ARCHBISHOP CHARLES CHAPUT: About those unthinking, backward Catholics

Donald Trump's letter to Catholic leaders


The Fear of Accountability
Why Trump will get my vote

NATIONAL REVIEW: The Case for Trump

Father Joseph Esper: Living in a Pro-Life Manner

The relationship between words and deeds always becomes especially timely and important in an election year.  Politicians make lots of promises; they pretend to mean what they’re saying, and voters pretend to believe them.  It’s considered rare and noteworthy when elected candidates actually keep their promises and remain true to their principles when in office—and, most of the time, those unusual persons earn our respect, even if we disagree with them politically.  We have an unusual situation this election year in that both candidates for president are distrusted by a majority of their fellow citizens; it’s very easy to find instances in which their words are not matched by their deeds, and it’s hard to picture either of them uniting our nation and helping our society turn back to God.  Many Americans are understandably worried, confused, and frightened, especially those of us who are old enough to remember election years when it was possible to respect both presidential candidates, even if we didn’t agree with their positions.

When talking about hypocrisy, we can easily point the finger at political candidates—but as the saying goes, when we point a finger at someone else, three of our own fingers are pointed back at ourselves.  This truth is especially relevant on Respect Life Sunday, which is being observed today (10/2/16).  We are confronted by the question “Do we truly live in a pro-life manner, or are our fine-sounding words contradicted by our deeds?”  We may be verbally opposed to abortion and euthanasia—but if we are unkind and uncaring toward the people around us, we’re not really putting our faith into practice.  We may say we’re proud to be Catholic, but if we’re not active in the Church through our presence, our contributions, and our service, we haven’t placed God at the center of our lives.  We may believe we’re pleasing to God, but if we’re nursing any grudges or harboring unforgive-ness toward others, we’re not listening to the voice of His Holy Spirit.  We may consider ourselves good persons—but if we’re not responding with compassion to the suffering of people around us, we’re not fooling God, even if we are deluding ourselves.  We may claim to be followers of Jesus, but if we vote for pro-abortion candidates, we’re not living as His disciples or demonstrating a desire to be part of His Kingdom.

The late Fr. Paul Marx, founder of the pro-life organization Human Life International, used to say that if God has indeed numbered the very hairs of our heads, He certainly keeps track of every vote we cast for a pro-life, or a pro-abortion, candidate.  As Catholics, we will be judged not only on our beliefs, but especially on our actions—including those we perform on election day.  How terrible it would be to stand before the judgment seat of God and have to explain why we ignored the teachings of the Church and voted for pro-abortion candidates; or why we engaged in hateful thoughts, words or actions; or why we went along with the values and priorities of this world, even as we called ourselves Christians.  On that day no excuses, rationalizations, or self-deceptions will be possible; every act of malice, selfishness, and hypocrisy will be exposed.  In contrast, how happy we will be if it’s shown that our daily actions were consistent with our religious beliefs, that our treatment of others truly was rooted in our love for God, and that our efforts to live as followers of Jesus bore fruit in every area of our lives, including in the voting booth.

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 7- "On Joy-Making Mourning"

33. Stripped by the fear of God, let us train ourselves in all these ways, and acquire for ourselves pure and guileless tears over our dissolution. For their is no dissimulation or self-esteem in them, but on the contrary there is purification, progress in love for God, washing away of sin, and dispassion.

October 17, 2016

(Exo 17:12-13) And Moses's hands were heavy: so they took a stone, and put under him, and he sat on it: and Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands on both sides. And it came to pass, that his hands were not weary until sunset. And Josue put Amalec and his people to flight, by the edge of the sword.

POPE FRANCIS: So pray!  Like Moses, who was above all a man of God, a man of prayer.  We see him today in the battle against Amalek, standing atop the hill with his arms raised.  From time to time, however, his arms would grow weary and fall, and then the tide would turn against the people.  So Aaron and Hur made Moses sit on a stone and they held up his arms, until the final victory was won. This is the kind of spiritual life the Church asks of us: not to win by war, but to win with peace! There is an important message in this story of Moses: commitment to prayer demands that we support one another.  Weariness is inevitable.  Sometimes we simply cannot go on, yet, with the support of our brothers and sisters, our prayer can persevere until the Lord completes his work.

VIA A Moment with Mary: Group recitation is far more formidable to the devil

When people say the Rosary together it is far more formidable to the devil than one said privately, because in this public prayer it is an army that is attacking him. He can often overcome the prayer of an individual, but if this prayer is joined to that of other Christians, the devil has much more trouble in getting the best of it.

It is very easy to break a single stick, but if you join it to others to make a bundle it cannot be broken. "In union there is strength." Soldiers join together in an army to overcome their enemies; wicked people often get together for parties of debauchery and dancing, and evil spirits join forces in order to make us lose our souls.

So why, then, should not Christians join forces to have Jesus Christ present with them when they pray, to appease Almighty God's anger, to draw down His grace and mercy upon us, and to frustrate and overcome the devil and his Angels more forcefully?

St Louis de Montfort
The Secret of the Rosary, 46th Rose

MEDITATION: Thoughts by St Theophan (1815-1894)

[I Cor. 15:39-45; Luke 4:31-36]

If ye believe not that I am He, ye shall die in your sins (John 8:24). There is none other name under heaven, given among men, whereby we must be saved (Acts 4:12). We must receive remission of sins, but there is no way to receive it other than by faith in the Son of God, crucified in the flesh for our sake, on the condition that we do not desire to indulge in sinful habits and deeds; for when we sin, we have only Him as an intercessor before the Father. He who gives his word to abstain from sins must accept the helping grace of the Most-Holy Spirit; but this grace descended to the earth after the Lord ascended to sit at the right hand of God the Father, and is only given to those who believe in this marvellous economy of our salvation, and who approach the Divine mysteries with this faith — mysteries which were established in the holy Church of the Lord through the Apostles.

Thus, he who does not believe in the Lord as He is cannot be pure of sins. Because he has not been cleansed of sins he shall die in them, and shall be judged of them according to their weightiness. When you want to do someone good that is of eternal value, guide him in true faith in the Lord, not allowing philosophizing or wavering. Those who directly or indirectly disrupt faith in the Lord must be considered everlasting evil-doers, for they wreak an evil that nothing can correct, and its power stretches to all eternity. Their ignorance does not justify them, for how can they not know that truth which is known to the whole world? Their opposing beliefs do not justify them, for if you should only start strictly testing them you would immediately shake their strength; a person cannot rely on anything other than faith in the Lord.

Those who do not properly examine the foundations, faith, and teachings to which they adhere go astray in the faith. An exact investigation of the conditions for salvation will lead to the conviction that they can only be met through God incarnate, who died on the cross, and who sent the Holy Spirit down to the earth. In this lies the essence of the Christian faith. He who sincerely believes this way will not die in his sins, for he bears within himself the power which brings forgiveness. The unbeliever is already condemned, for he bears this condemnation within himself.

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 7- "On Joy-Making Mourning"

32. Many of the Fathers say that the question of tears, especially in the case of beginners, is an obscure matter and hard to ascertain, as tears are born in many different ways. For instance, there are tears from nature, from God, from adverse suffering, from praiseworthy suffering, from vainglory, from licentiousness, from love, from the remembrance of death, and from many other causes.

October 15, 2016

(Psa 46:10) Be still and see that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, and I will be exalted in the earth.

SAINT TERESA OF AVILA: “Mental prayer in my opinion is nothing else than an intimate sharing between friends; it means taking time frequently to be alone with Him who we know loves us.”

REV. GREGORY JENSEN: Privacy, Silence and Prayer

EXCERPT CATHOLIC WORLD REPORT: Cardinal Robert Sarah on "The Strength of Silence" and the Dictatorship of Noise

Q: Why is the idea of silence so essential in your view? Is silence necessary in order to find God, and in what way “is it man’s greatest freedom” (no. 25)? As “freedom”, is silence an ascetical practice?

Cdl. Sarah: Silence is not an idea; it is the path that enables human beings to go to God.

God is silence, and this divine silence dwells within a human being. By living with the silent God, and in Him, we ourselves become silent. Nothing will more readily make us discover God than this silence inscribed at the heart of our being.

I am not afraid to state that to be a child of God is to be a child of silence.

Conquering silence is a battle and a form of asceticism. Yes, it takes courage to free oneself from everything that weighs down our life, because we love nothing so much as appearances, ease and the husk of things. Carried away toward the exterior by his need to say everything, the garrulous man cannot help being far from God, incapable of any profound spiritual activity. In contrast, the silent man is a free man. The world’s chains have no hold on him.

No dictatorship can do anything against a silent man. You cannot steal a man’s silence from him.

I think of my predecessor in the See of Conakry in Guinea, Archbishop Raymond-Marie Tchidimbo. He remained in prison for almost nine years, persecuted by the Marxist dictatorship. It was forbidden for him to meet with or speak to anyone. The silence imposed by his jailers became the place of his encounter with God. Mysteriously, his cell became a true “novitiate” and that miserable, sordid little room enabled him to understand somewhat the great silence of Heaven.

Q: Is it still possible to understand the importance of silence in a world where noise, in all its forms, never ceases? Is this a new situation of “modernity”, with its media, TV, and internet, or has this noise always been a characteristic of the “world”?

Cdl. Sarah: God is silence, and the devil is noisy. From the beginning, Satan has sought to mask his lies beneath a deceptive, resonant agitation. The Christian owes it to himself not to be of the world. It is up to him to turn away from the noises of the world, from its rumors that run headlong in order to turn better toward what is essential: God.

Our busy, ultra-technological age has made us even sicker. Noise has become like a drug on which our contemporaries are dependent. With its festive appearance, noise is a whirlwind that avoids looking oneself in the face and confronting the interior emptiness. It is a diabolical lie. The awakening can only be brutal.

I am not afraid to call on all people of good will to enlist in a form of resistance. What will become of our world if it cannot find oases of silence?

In the turbulent floods of easy, hollow words, keeping silent assumes the appearance of weakness. In the modern world, the silent man becomes someone who does not know how to defend himself. He is a “subhuman” with respect to the self-proclaimed strong man who crushes and drowns the other in the floods of his talk. The silent man is one man too many. This is the deep reason for modern men’s disdain and hatred of silent beings, for their abominable crimes against unborn children, the sick, or persons at the end of life. These human beings are the magnificent prophets of silence. With them, I am not afraid to declare that the priests of modernity, who declare a sort of war on silence, have lost the battle. For we can remain silent in the midst of the biggest hodgepodge, despicable disturbances, in the midst of the din and shouting of those infernal machines that invite us to activism by snatching any transcendent dimension and any interior life away from us.

Q: Although the interior man seeks silence in order to find God, is God Himself always silent? And how are we to understand what some call “God’s silence” with regard to unspeakably evil tragedies like the Holocaust, the gulags...? More generally, does the existence of evil call into question the “almighty power” of God?

Cdl. Sarah: Your question leads us into a very deep mystery. At the Grande Chartreuse [Carthusian monastery], we meditated at length on this point with the Prior General, Dom Dysmas de Lassus.

God does not will evil. Nevertheless, He remains astonishingly silent in the face of our trials. In spite of everything, suffering does not call God’s almighty power into question—far from it; rather, it reveals it to us. I still hear the voice of the child who through his tears asked me, “Why did God not keep my father from being killed?” In His mysterious silence, God manifests Himself in the tear shed by the child and not in the order of the world that would justify that tear. God has His mysterious way of being close to us in our trials. He is intensely present in our trials and sufferings. His strength makes itself silence because it reveals his infinite tact, His loving tenderness for those who suffer. External manifestations are not necessarily the best proofs of closeness. Silence reveals God’s compassion, the fact that He takes part in our sufferings. God does not will evil. And the more monstrous the evil, the clearer it becomes that God in us is the first victim.

Christ’s victory over death and sin is consummated in the grand silence of the cross. God manifests all His power in this silence that no barbarity will ever be able to sully.

When I traveled to countries that were going through violent, profound crises, sufferings and tragic miseries, such as Syria, Libya, Haiti, the Philippines after the devastating typhoon, I observed that silent prayer is the last treasure of those who have nothing left. Silence is the last trench where no one can enter, the one room in which to remain at peace, the place where suffering for a moment lays down its weapons. In suffering, let us hide ourselves in the fortress of prayer.

Then the power of the jailers is no longer important; criminals can destroy everything furiously, but it is impossible for them to break in and enter into the silence, the heart, the conscience of a human being who prays and nestles in God. The beating of a silent heart, hope, faith and trust in God remain unsinkable. Outside, the world may become a field of ruins, but inside our soul, in the deepest silence, God keeps watch. War and the processions of horrors will never get the better of God present in us. When faced with evil and God’s silence, we must always persevere in prayer and cry out silently, saying with faith and love:

“I looked for you, Jesus!
I heard you weeping for joy
at the birth of a child.
I saw you seeking freedom
through the bars of a prison.
I walked close by you
while you were begging for a piece of bread.
I heard you howling with sorrow
when your children were laid low by the bombs.
I discovered you in the rooms of a hospital,
subjected to treatments without love. 
Now that I have found you,
I do not want to lose you again.
I ask you, please, teach me to love you.”

With Jesus we bear our sufferings and trials better.

POPE FRANCIS: Silence is the cloud that veils the mystery of our relationship with the Lord, of our holiness and of our sins.  It is a mystery that we cannot explain. But when there is no silence in our lives, we lose the mystery, it goes away".

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 7- "On Joy-Making Mourning"

31. Just as fire is destructive of straw, so are pure tears destructive of all material and spiritual impurity.

October 12, 2016

(2Co 1:3-5) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort: Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we also may be able to comfort them who are in all distress, by the exhortation wherewith we also are exhorted by God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us: so also by Christ doth our comfort abound.

NEWS.VA: Mario Zenari: a Cardinal for the suffering people of Syria


CARITAS: Stop Aleppo Bombing

Over 275,000 people face intensified daily bombardment in eastern Aleppo. 100,000 of the people trapped in the rebel controlled area are children. They are facing a humanitarian catastrophe. The near-continuous siege since mid-July has been compared to infamous massacres in Srebrenica and Rwanda.

“The indiscriminate brutality witnessed in Aleppo must end. The people of Aleppo need an immediate ceasefire,” said Caritas Internationalis Secretary General Michel Roy.

Health is the priority. Hospitals and clinics are in critical need of assistance. They are struggling to cope with insufficient supplies, staff or space to treat the injured. There is also an acute lack of food in the besieged area.

“Humanitarian agencies need safe, full, regular and unimpeded access. Health infrastructure is devastated. Hundreds of patients in critical conditions need to be evacuated,” said Michel Roy.

Pope Aleppo appeal

On 28 September, Pope Francis said, “Dramatic news continues to reach me concerning the fate of the people of Aleppo, with whom, through prayer and spiritual closeness, I feel united in suffering.”

Pope Francis appealed to those responsible for the bombing. He warned them that they will be “accountable to God” for their actions.

“In expressing my deep sorrow and lively concern for what is happening in that already battered city – where children, the elderly, the sick, young and old, all are dying,” he said, “I renew my appeal to everyone to commit themselves with all their strength to the protection of civilians as an imperative and urgent obligation.”

Humanitarian situation in Aleppo
Through its Syria: Peace is Possible campaign, Caritas is urging its supporters around the world to put pressure on their governments to:
“Syrian people need peace and dignity,” said Bishop Antoine Audo, the Chaldean Bishop of Aleppo and Caritas Syria president, during an encounter with Pope Francis last week. “The solution for Syria is not military, it is political and it must come from inside Syria, from the people of Syria, not imposed from the outside.”

ACN: Syria: More than one million children sign appeal for peace

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 7- "On Joy-Making Mourning"

30. The fruit of spurious compunction is self-esteem, and the fruit of praiseworthy compunction is consolation.

October 10, 2016

(Mat 9:37-38) Then he saith to his disciples, The harvest indeed is great, but the labourers are few. Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he send forth labourers into his harvest.

NEWS.VA: Pope announces 17 new Cardinals in consistory

JOIN!: 11th Annual Global Lay Fast for Priests

: The Priests We Need

The most urgent need for the Church in our day is a rebirth of faith and the missionary spirit in her people. But that will never happen, and it can’t ever happen, until we priests ourselves have a renewal of zeal. Priests need to be the men Christ called them to be – his friends and disciples – and priests need to call those of us who are bishops to be the same. If we can accomplish that priestly renewal together as a Church, with the grace of Jesus Christ, then God can achieve anything through us. God already did it once in a way that refashioned the world. That’s the reason we’re here today.

The challenges we face as a Church today can seem very hard, especially in vocations work. But even a hard truth is beautiful and good because it liberates. It frees us from our illusions of security and control and helps us to see reality as it really is. It forces us back into the arms of the God who created us to be his sons, his disciples and his friends; the God who will never abandon us and will always, ultimately, bless our efforts in his service. If we don’t believe that right down to our cell structure, we shouldn’t be here.

I want you to go home tonight and reread Pope Francis’ first apostolic exhortation, The Joy of the Gospel. It’s an extraordinary testimony to the power of God’s loving and renewing presence in the world, even when we don’t understand his actions or his seeming silence. There are no unhappy or fearful saints, and we need to remember that in our work.

“Nobody can go off to battle,” Francis writes, “unless he is fully convinced of victory beforehand. If we start without confidence, [we’ve] already lost half the battle … Christian triumph is always a cross, yet a cross which is at the same time a victorious banner borne with aggressive tenderness against the assaults of evil.”

People typically see Pope Francis as a man formed by the example of Ignatius Loyola and Francis of Assisi. And of course that’s true. His spirituality is clearly Jesuit, and his desire for a pure and simple Church close to the poor is clearly Franciscan. But his hunger for God and his confidence in God’s grace also have another source.

In a 2013 homily to the general chapter of the Order of St. Augustine, Francis asked the delegates to “look into your hearts and ask yourself if you have a heart that wants great things or a heart that is asleep. Has your heart maintained [Augustine’s] restlessness or has it been suffocated by things?” The trust, the passion and the restlessness in this Pope’s own heart mirror the great Augustine who saw that our hearts can never rest until they rest in God – the God whom Augustine longed for as life’s “sovereign joy.”

Jesus Christ changed the world with no resources, no five-year plan and only 12 very different and difficult peasant Jews. More than 300 years later, Augustine – one of the greatest minds in human history – encountered the same Jesus Christ and wrote his Confessions and his City of God as the Roman world fell apart and barbarians laid siege to his own diocesan See.

The hunger for God is written on every human heart. The world can dull it, but nothing can kill it. So have confidence in the work the Church has tasked you to do, and know that bishops like me keep you every day in our encouragement and prayers.

Somewhere today some young Augustine or Paul or Thomas is starting to ask himself what his life means, whether there’s a God, and where he can turn to feed the hunger and ease the restlessness in his heart. Be the answer to that man’s questions by the example of your own lives. Be the integrity and wholeness so bitterly lacking in a deceitful and fragmented world.

Jesus didn’t need many men. He needed the right men. The priesthood doesn’t need many men. It needs the right men. When each of you was called to the priesthood, God remade you in persona Christi. The more fully you live that truth, the more truly you radiate it to the men you encounter who are searching for God, the more profoundly you’ll draw others to share in the same joy. And that’s how the renewal of the Church and the remaking of the world can begin.


If the priest is a saint, the people will be fervent;

if the priest is fervent, the people will be pious;

if the priest is pious, the people will at least be decent;

if the priest is only decent, the people will be godless.

The spiritual generation is always one-degree less intense in its life than the one who begets it in Christ.

(Dom Jean-Baptiste Chautard, O.C.S.O. The Soul of the Apostolate, p. 39)

PRAYER FOR HOLY PRIESTS:  My Dear Jesus, Thou desirest that we pray the Lord of the harvest that He send zealous laborers into His harvest.  Deign to raise up in Thy Church, and especially in this diocese, numerous and holy priests who, taking Thy Divine Heart as their Model, will, in the exercise of their holy priesthood, promote the glory of Thy heavenly Father and the salvation of those souls whom Thou hast redeemed with Thy Precious Blood.

Give us truly holy priests who, inflamed with the fire of Thy divine love, seek nothing but Thy greater glory and the salvation of souls. O Mary, Queen of the clergy, pray for us; obtain for us a number of holy priests.

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 7- "On Joy-Making Mourning"

29. When we see anger and pride in those who seem to be mourning in a way pleasing to God, then their tears are to be regarded as repugnant to God. For what communion hath light with darkness? (cf. 2 Cor 6:14).

October 6, 2016

(Mat 25:34-40) Then shall the king say to them that shall be on his right hand: Come, ye blessed of my Father, possess you the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave me to eat: I was thirsty, and you gave me to drink: I was a stranger, and you took me in: Naked, and you covered me: sick, and you visited me: I was in prison, and you came to me. Then shall the just answer him, saying: Lord, when did we see thee hungry and fed thee: thirsty and gave thee drink? Or when did we see thee a stranger and took thee in? Or naked and covered thee? Or when did we see thee sick or in prison and came to thee? And the king answering shall say to them: Amen I say to you, as long as you did it to one of these my least brethren, you did it to me.

NEWS.VA: Pope Francis visits earthquake-hit towns of central Italy

NEWS: Hurricane Matthew Aims for Bahamas After Leaving Haiti Disaster Zone

EXCERPT HOMILY FR. ESPER: Our Sins of Omission

St. John the Almsgiver told a story about a miser, a wealthy but selfish man, who was baking bread when a beggar asked him for a crust. The miser ignored him at first, but the beggar’s persistent pleading caused him to throw the entire loaf at him. That night the miser dreamt he had died and was being judged. An angel stood before God, holding huge scales. The man’s many sins were weighing down the scales, and his few good deeds placed on the other side seemed to make no difference—but then another angel placed a single loaf of bread on the scale, and it counterbalanced all his faults. The miser awakened, and had enough sense to realize the dream was an urgent warning. From then on he became quite generous to the poor, and soon made great progress in holiness (Tonne, Volume I, #55). Generosity to those in need is an extremely important part of our relationship with God, and a major element or criterion on which we will be judged. Jesus gave His life for our salvation, without holding anything back. We’ll be able to accept and rejoice in this supremely valuable gift only if we try to live in this same spirit.

There are several interesting and important points to note about Our Lord’s parable in the Gospel of Luke (16:19-31). First of all, the rich man was condemned to hell not for any direct sins he committed, but for a sin of omission: he neglected to help Lazarus when he could easily have done so. That omission was enough to render him unworthy of eternal life. Secondly, Jesus doesn’t say the rich man was expected to do anything difficult or dramatic, such as willingly trading places with Lazarus; all he needed to do was to treat the beggar with compassion, even as he himself continued to enjoy a very comfortable life. Thirdly, the rich man knew very well who Lazarus was, for he mentioned him by name while suffering in hell—proving that he had known him when he was alive on earth, but had deliberately chosen to ignore him. He couldn’t claim that he hadn’t known Lazarus was suffering; he was following the tragically foolish example of the rich people denounced by the prophet Amos (6:1, 4-7), who indulged themselves while choosing to ignore the suffering of the poor—and who ended up experiencing a severe judgment. God identifies Himself in a very personal way with those who are lowly and impoverished—and if, to use St. Paul’s words (1 Tm 6:11-16) we are to “pursue righteousness [and] compete well for the faith,” we too must have a special concern for those who are unable to care for themselves.

VIA BHLA2: St. Faustina's Prayer to Have a Merciful Heart Towards Others

O Jesus, I understand that Your mercy is beyond all imagining. I ask You, therefore, to make my heart so big that there will be room in it for the needs of all the souls living on this whole earthly globe. O Jesus, my love reaches beyond the world to the souls suffering in Purgatory, and I want to exercise mercy toward them by means of indulgenced prayers. God's mercy is unfathomable and inexhaustible, just as God Himself is unfathomable. Were I to use the strongest words for expressing this mercy of God, they are nothing in comparison with what it is in reality. O Jesus, make my heart sensitive to all the sufferings of my neighbor whether they be of body or of soul. O my Jesus, I know that You act toward us as we act toward our neighbor. My Jesus, make my heart like unto Your merciful Heart. Jesus, help me to go through life doing good to everyone.

*~~from St. Faustina's Diary, II, 132 *

PRAYER REQUEST: Pray Haiti has hope after Hurricane Matthew wreaks havoc

A third of the population are under the age of 14 [in Haiti], and so you can imagine there are numerous youth who are just seeing disaster after disaster, so just pray for them that they'll see hope and they'll be able to recuperate what they've lost and they'll be able to start their lives again.

DONATE: CRS and at least one other Catholic agency had begun accepting donations for their emergency responses in Haiti:

• Catholic Relief Services online at; via mail to P.O. Box 17090, Baltimore, Maryland, 21297-0303 and indicate Hurricane Matthew in the memo; or call toll-free 877-435-7277 from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Eastern time.

• Catholic Medical Mission Board online at

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 7- "On Joy-Making Mourning"

28. Those who have obtained mourning in the depth of their being hate their own life as something painful and wearisome, and a cause of tears and sufferings; and they turn and flee from their body as from an enemy.

October 4, 2016

(Joh 14:27) Peace I leave with you: my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, do I give unto you. Let not your heart be troubled: nor let it be afraid.

POPE FRANCIS: The blood of far too many people cries out to God from the earth, our common home (cf. Gen 4:10).  Today, we are challenged to give a response that can no longer be put off: to build together a future of peace; now is not the time for violent or abrupt solutions, but rather an urgent moment to engage in patient processes of reconciliation.  The real question of our time is not how to advance our own causes, but what proposals for life are we offering to future generations; how to leave them a better world than the one we have received.  God, and history itself, will ask us if we have spent ourselves pursuing peace; the younger generations, who dream of a different future, pointedly direct this question to us.  

LINK: The Story Behind the Peace Prayer of St. Francis

LINK: The National Shrine of Saint Francis of Assisi

: Prayer for Peace of His Holiness Pope Francis delivered at the Catholic Chaldean Church of Saint Simon Bar Sabbae

Lord Jesus,

we adore your cross

which frees us from sin, the origin of every division and evil;

we proclaim your resurrection,

which ransoms man from the slavery of failure and death;

we await your coming in glory,

which will bring to fulfilment your kingdom of justice, joy and peace.

Lord Jesus,

by your glorious passion,

conquer the hardness of our hearts, imprisoned by hatred and selfishness;

by the power of your resurrection,

save the victims of injustice and maltreatment from their suffering;

by the fidelity of your coming,

confound the culture of death and make the triumph of life shine forth.

Lord Jesus,

unite to your cross the sufferings of the many innocent victims:

the children, the elderly, and the persecuted Christians;

envelop in paschal light those who are deeply wounded:

abused persons, deprived of freedom and dignity;

let those who live in uncertainty experience the enduring constancy of your kingdom: the exiles, refugees, and those who have lost the joy of living.

Lord Jesus,

cast forth the shadow of your cross over peoples at war;

may they learn the way of reconciliation, dialogue and forgiveness;

let the peoples so wearied by bombing experience the joy of your resurrection:

raise up Iraq and Syria from devastation;

reunite your dispersed children under your gentle kingship:

sustain Christians in the Diaspora and grant them the unity of faith and love.

O Virgin Mary, Queen of peace,

you who stood at the foot of the cross,

obtain from your Son pardon for our sins;

you who never doubted the victory of his resurrection,

sustain our faith and our hope;

you who are enthroned as Queen in glory,

teach us the royal road of service and the glory of love.


Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 7- "On Joy-Making Mourning"

27. Genuine compunction is undistracted pain of soul, in which it gives itself no relief but hourly imagines only its dissolution; and it awaits, like cool water, the comfort of God who comforts humble monks.

October 3, 2016

(Rev 12:1-2) And a great sign appeared in heaven: A woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. And being with child, she cried travailing in birth: and was in pain to be delivered.

CATHOLIC HERALD: Bishops entrust state faithful to Mary, Mother of Mercy

The Catholic bishops of Wisconsin have joined together to proclaim an Act of Entrustment of the Faithful of Wisconsin to Mary, Mother of Mercy.  The proclamation notes that this statewide act of faith and unity is in recognition of the Jubilee Year of Mercy and in celebration of the intercession of Mary our Mother.

Wisconsin Catholics are encouraged to join together in prayer and commitment, especially during the weekend of October 7 through October 9, which includes the celebration of the Memorial Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary.  The Rosary Evangelization Apostolate has produced a holy card with the Act of Entrustment prayer, accompanied by a photograph of the International Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Fatima.

The statue is currently on tour through 100 dioceses in the United States in honor of the 100th anniversary of the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Fatima. The tour will reach all five Wisconsin dioceses this fall and is visiting the Diocese of Madison from September 26 through 29 with stops in Wisconsin Dells, Lancaster, Monona, Mt. Horeb, and Madison.

Dioceses, parishes, and other Catholic organizations may reproduce the holy cards using the electronic template found online. Printed holy cards can also be ordered through the Rosary Evangelization Apostolate by emailing [email protected]. The entire Act of Entrustment can be seen here. Parishes are invited to recite the act during Masses and individuals are encouraged to use the holy card during prayer.

: Pope 'confirmed May visit to Fátima shrine for centenary' - bishop

FROM THE MAILBAG: Since January 1st 2002, we have operated a Living Rosary called: "MIRA - 20 United Decades.  "MIRA", short for Modemizational Internet Rosary Association now includes 500 members. Better yet, we can refer to MIRA as the:  _M_ary _I_mmaculate _R_osary _A_ssociation.

Now you can pray ONE Mystery of the Rosary in union with 19 others and partake in a full TWENTY decade cycle daily. Let us form groups wherein each person concentrates on a different Mystery, to form a 20-Decade 'Living' Rosary. This is the definition of a "Living Rosary" - people uniting together to form a complete Rosary. MIRA is simply an internet extension of the Universal Living Rosary Association of Saint Philomena (still operating via postal mail).

We all know that the call to prayer - especially the Rosary - has been constantly echoed at Fatima and other apparitions. It's time for a LOT more action to bring about the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart.

Now, beginning January 1st 2017 (or perhaps sooner), we will start a new devotion - to Our Lady of Sorrows which we will call "ROSM" (The _R_osary of _O_ur _S_orrowful _M_other) as outlined here:

This Rosary consists of one Our Father and seven Hail Mary's (followed by a short prayer which includes three more Hail Mary's) for each of the Seven (7) Sorrows.  For this Devotion, we will form groups of 7, with each person focusing on 1 of the Sorrows. Through such unification, we will complete a FULL Sorrowful Mother Rosary.

Anyone wishing to participate in either or both of these Rosary Devotions can simply contact:  [email protected] (PLEASE contact the above address to be sure your request to join is honored.)

Living Rosary's, that allow an individual to unite with others (each person focusing on a single Mystery/Sorrow), make incorporating the Rosary into your Prayer life simple and meaningful. 

'In these days of evil, confusion, division, and modernism, what a mighty force for good the Living Rosary will be! We battle today not the evil of man but the principalities and powers of all hell. The Holy Rosary prayed faithfully, strengthened by the unity of association, will render all the attacks of Satan impotent!"

VIA A MOMENT WITH MARY: The final confrontation between the Lord and Satan

During an interview with La Voce di Padre Pio (March 2015), Cardinal Carlo Caffarra said: "In the beginning of this mission – to establish the Pontifical Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family – I wrote a letter to Sister Lucia of Fatima. To my surprise, a few days later I received a hand-written letter, now preserved in the archives of the Institute. I wasn’t actually expecting a letter from her, I had only asked for prayers.

In the letter, Sister Lucia wrote that the final confrontation between the Lord and the kingdom of Satan will focus on family and marriage. "Do not be afraid," she added, "because those who work for the sanctity of marriage and the family will always be fought and hated, because this is the decisive matter.

Lucia of Fatima said that the Virgin has "crushed" the head of Satan. "She also warned," the Cardinal said, "that it was the central point, because it touched the column that supports all creation, the truth about the relationship between a man and a woman, and between generations. When you touch the central column, the whole building collapses, and this is what we are seeing right now, and we know it."

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 7- "On Joy-Making Mourning"

26. He who mourns when he wishes has not attained the beauty of mourning, but rather he who mourns on the subjects of his choice, and not even on these, but on what God wants. The ugly tears of vainglory are often interwoven with mourning which is pleasing to God. We shall know this with all proof and piety when we see ourselves mourning and still doing evil.
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