Keep your eyes open!...


October 30, 2017  

(Eph 2:19-22) Now therefore you are no more strangers and foreigners: but you are fellow citizens with the saints and the domestics of God, Built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone: In whom all the building, being framed together, groweth up into an holy temple in the Lord. In whom you also are built together into an habitation of God in the Spirit.

NCR: Who Are All Those Saints in the Roman Canon?

SIGNS & WONDERS: The Catholic Saints are a key to understanding the meaning of life

CATHOLIC STAR HERALD: Death and faith in Jesus Christ by Bishop Dennis J. Sullivan

I wonder how many people realize that Halloween, the celebration on the last day of the month of October, is the runner up to the following day, Nov. 1, All Saints Day. Halloween, All Hallows Eve, takes its name from the Eve before the Feast of the Hallowed Ones, All Saints. The origin of Halloween, its roots, reaches back to the Christian calendar. Undoubtedly, that connection is lost in our society with all the hoopla that is now associated with Halloween.

All Saints Day, Nov. 1, begins the month of November where, traditionally, we remember those who have gone before us into death. All Saints Day is the celebration of those who, in eternal life, are already with God in the joy of Heaven. These are the hallowed ones, the Saints. They are women and men who became holy while living ordinary lives on Earth with all the challenges, sadness, joys and achievements of life. They are the goodly company of men and women who are now with God. They are sisters and brothers to us in the Communion of Saints.

About them the Preface of the Mass for the Solemnity of All the Saints prays so exquisitely: “rejoicing in the glory bestowed upon those exalted members of the Church through whom you give us, in our frailty, both strength and good example.” On the second day of November the Church commemorates All the Faithful Departed whose journey from this life to life with God in the heavenly Jerusalem is not completed. Though they have not yet reached the goal of all the baptized due to their sins, they are on their way and are encouraged and assisted by our prayers for them. All the Souls in Purgatory benefit from the commemoration of them at the Masses offered on All Souls Day.

During the month of November, in particular, the Church considers and reflects on the mystery of death from the perspective of faith in Jesus Christ. A faith that understands the sorrow that death brings to the living and a faith whose rituals are designed to affirm the central confession of Christians that Christ died and rose from death. He died a real human death and burst from its clutches.

As people of faith it serves us well to make sure that our loved ones are aware that when we die, we want a Mass of Christian Burial to be celebrated for us. Since the absence of religious practice in many families is more common these days it is very wise to make sure that our loved ones know that when we die, we want a Catholic funeral. Too many faithful, practicing Catholics are denied a Catholic funeral because their survivors who are distant from the Church are not familiar with our Catholic practices at the time of death and burial. I have heard stories that involve arranging some kind of “farewell service” with the deceased person’s favorite music playing; heartfelt personal tributes are given; a slide show of the deceased’s life is presented; readings from a book of poetry — all this, however well intentioned, for a person who was a faithful parishioner. No prayers are offered. Mass in Church does not take place. A one-stop funeral in a 20-minute service. When cremation is done, the cremains either end up on the mantle in the living room, in the attic or in some locket of jewelry.

For us a funeral is a prayer of thanksgiving to God for the gift of the life of the deceased and it offers hope and consolation to the survivors. It is not a celebration of a person’s life. It is an act of worship and thanksgiving to God for the gift of the life of the deceased. Its prayers, music and Scripture readings offer hope and consolation to the grieving. It is an expression of faith in the face of death. It celebrates and makes present the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus in which the baptized participate. So, a little bit of advice from your bishop, make sure that your survivors know your wishes for a Funeral Mass.

Remember Halloween leads to All the Saints who are praising God who in turn lead us to pray for All the Souls awaiting the glory of the Saints.

Perhaps, each day in this month of November we might pray for the dead:

Eternal rest grant unto 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.


UNIVERSALIS: Let us make haste to our brethren who are awaiting us, A sermon by Saint Bernard, abbot.

Why should our praise and glorification, or even the celebration of this feast day mean anything to the saints? What do they care about earthly honours when their heavenly Father honours them by fulfilling the faithful promise of the Son? What does our commendation mean to them? The saints have no need of honour from us; neither does our devotion add the slightest thing to what is theirs. Clearly, if we venerate their memory, it serves us, not them. But I tell you, when I think of them, I feel myself inflamed by a tremendous yearning.

Calling the saints to mind inspires, or rather arouses in us, above all else, a longing to enjoy their company, so desirable in itself. We long to share in the citizenship of heaven, to dwell with the spirits of the blessed, to join the assembly of patriarchs, the ranks of the prophets, the council of apostles, the great host of martyrs, the noble company of confessors and the choir of virgins. In short, we long to be united in happiness with all the saints. But our dispositions change. The Church of all the first followers of Christ awaits us, but we do nothing about it. The saints want us to be with them, and we are indifferent. The souls of the just await us, and we ignore them.

Come, brothers, let us at length spur ourselves on. We must rise again with Christ, we must seek the world which is above and set our mind on the things of heaven. Let us long for those who are longing for us, hasten to those who are waiting for us, and ask those who look for our coming to intercede for us. We should not only want to be with the saints, we should also hope to possess their happiness. While we desire to be in their company, we must also earnestly seek to share in their glory. Do not imagine that there is anything harmful in such an ambition as this; there is no danger in setting our hearts on such glory.

When we commemorate the saints we are inflamed with another yearning: that Christ our life may also appear to us as he appeared to them and that we may one day share in his glory. Until then we see him, not as he is, but as he became for our sake. He is our head, crowned, not with glory, but with the thorns of our sins. As members of that head, crowned with thorns, we should be ashamed to live in luxury; his purple robes are a mockery rather than an honour. When Christ comes again, his death shall no longer be proclaimed, and we shall know that we also have died, and that our life is hidden with him. The glorious head of the Church will appear and his glorified members will shine in splendour with him, when he forms this lowly body anew into such glory as belongs to himself, its head.

Therefore, we should aim at attaining this glory with a wholehearted and prudent desire. That we may rightly hope and strive for such blessedness, we must above all seek the prayers of the saints. Thus, what is beyond our own powers to obtain will be granted through their intercession.

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

1. Insensibility both in the body and in the spirit is deadened feeling, which, from long sickness and negligence, lapses into loss of feeling.

October 27, 2017

(Rom 12:4-8)  For as in one body we have many members, but all the members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one body in Christ; and every one members one of another: And having different gifts, according to the grace that is given us, either prophecy, to be used according to the rule of faith; Or ministry, in ministering; or he that teacheth, in doctrine; He that exhorteth, in exhorting; he that giveth, with simplicity; he that ruleth, with carefulness; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.

MARK MALLET BLOG: Participating in Jesus

REFLECTION: "The Mystical Body" by Ron Rolheiser, OMI

“I am done with great things and big plans, great institutions and big success. I am for those tiny, invisible loving human forces that work from individual to individual, creeping through the crannies of the world like so many rootlets, or like the capillary oozing of water, which, if given time, will rend the hardest monument of pride.”

This is wisdom from William James: The deep, important things that most affect us are usually not big and showy, but tiny, perhaps even imperceptible.

We see the truth of this just by looking at the human body. How little of it we see from the outside. Inside a human body are countless hidden, silent processes, all going on at once. Cells are growing and dividing, enzymes are fighting viruses, nerves are carrying messages to and fro, cancerous cells are being attacked by the immune system, even while the hair are greying, the body is digesting food, and is imperceptibly aging. Whether we are healthy or sick at a given moment depends largely on countless, silent, hidden processes.

Moreover, inside all this, there is an even more-complex web of hidden connections between these various processes. Everything is interconnected, no part does anything that doesn’t affect everything else.

This is true too of any social body. Every community or society has a certain visible life that can be seen and whose overt interconnections, to an extent, can be grasped, charted, and written up into textbooks. But, just as with the human body, most of the deep things in a community are under the surface, invisible, silent, available only through another kind of instrument, the intuitive gaze of the mystic, novelist, poet, or artist.

And all of this is even more true of the body of Christ, the community of the baptized, the sincere. Most of the important processes there are also invisible.

Like any other body, partly this body is visible – physical, historical, something that can be observed from the outside. Historical Christianity, the churches, in their concrete history, are the visible body of Christ – people, institutions, buildings, virtue and sin enfleshed in history. But the body of Christ is more than meets the physical eye, a billion times more. As in every body, countless, silent, invisible processes are going on beneath. Inside the body of Christ, as in all bodies, there are deadly viruses, an immune system, cancer-cells, and health-carrying enzymes. What’s deepest inside of life is not visible to the naked eye. Thus, for example, Therese of Lisieux, with her highly-tuned mystical sense, understood her hidden life in a monastery as a part of the immune-system inside the body of Christ. Without ever leaving the small town of Lisieux she touched the lives of millions of people. That shouldn’t be surprising, given that the invisible interconnections inside of a body.

It is this background too that can help give us a sense of the mystical union we have with each other inside “the communion of saints”. What precisely is this? It’s the belief that there exists among us, among all of us who have been baptized, at a level too deep for words, a union that is as real, intimate, and physical as is a sexual union. Wild as this sounds, it is clearly taught in scripture (1 Corinthians, for example, is most explicit) and lies at the root of the Christian understanding of the Eucharist. For the early Christians, celebrating Eucharist together was an act of intimacy akin to sexual union. That was one of the reasons they surrounded the Eucharist with the kind reverence and discretion that judicious lovers employ. For example, they practiced a certain discipline they called the “discipline arcani”. This was a custom within which they didn’t allow anyone who wasn’t fully initiated to be present at the Eucharist, much like healthy lovers who fear exhibitionism.

Beyond this radical intimacy, the union among ourselves in the “communion of saints” is also a presence to each other beyond distance. Inside the body of Christ, we are present to each other and carry each other across the miles. Everything we do, good or bad, affects all the others. For this reason the church teaches that there is no such thing as a private act – of sin, virtue, or anything else. Nothing is private inside a body, everything affects everything. Moreover our union with each other links us, even beyond death. Inside the “communion of saints”, we believe that our loved ones who have died are alive, still with us, and able to communicate with us and we with them.

To believe this is to be both consoled and challenged. Consoled, in knowing that we carry each other in love and union, across all distance, even through death. But challenged too in knowing that everything we do, be it ever so private, is either a bad virus or an healthy enzyme affecting the overall health of the body of Christ and the family of humanity.

MEDITATION: Thoughts by St Theophan (1815-1894)

[I Cor. 16:4-12; Matt. 21:28-32] In the parable about the two sons, the second promptly said, “I go,” and went not. This is an image for all hasty good intentions that lack the constancy, will and patience to fulfil them. A light heart is immediately ready for every good thing presented to it, but a soft and lazy will refuses to do it from the very beginning. This infirmity is found in nearly everyone.

How can one avoid such unreliability before one's own self and others? This is how: do not begin anything without thinking it over and calculating whether there will be enough strength for the undertaking. This is what the Lord asked us to do in the parables about the man who set off to war, and the other who set about building a house. In what lies this calculation? These parables are related by the Lord in order to instruct us to arm ourselves in advance with self-denial and patience. Look to see whether you have these buttresses that all laborers for goodness have. If you have them, begin the undertaking; but if not, then first store them up. If you stock yourself up with them, then no matter what you meet on the path to what you intend to do, you will endure and overcome it all, and you will bring what you have begun to a finish.

Calculating does not mean that as soon as the deed becomes a bit difficult you drop it, but rather that you should inspire yourself for every labor. From this there will come firmness of will and constancy in deeds. And it will never be the case with you that you say — “I go,” and then go not.

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 17- "On non-possessiveness"

10. Waves never leave the sea, nor do anger and grief leave the avaricious.

October 25, 2017

(Mat 5:10) Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

CATHOLIC WORLD REPORT REVIEW: When evil triumphed: The 100th anniversary of Russia’s October Revolution

THE CATHOLIC SPIRIT: 100 years after Russian revolution, Christianity faces new challenges

: A Homily for the Centenary of the Revolution Archimandrite Naum (Baiborodin)

THE TABLET: Time to Recall Christian Martyrs to Communism, Says Russian Catholc Church

Russia’s Catholic Church has appealed to Western Christians to remember martyrs of Communist rule during the upcoming centenary of the 1917 Russian revolution, rather than just helping commemorate the country’s better-known dissidents. “The sufferings in Soviet prisons and labour camps remain an issue for the whole of society here, not just religious communities,” said Mgr Igor Kovalevsky, secretary-general of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference. “But stories of witness and martyrdom are universally known and respected. Churches have been built to those who died for their faith, who deserve to be compared to the martyrs of Christianity's first centuries.” The priest was speaking amid preparations for the hundredth anniversary of the 1917 October Revolution, which heralded more than eight decades of communist rule.

In a Tablet interview, he said the work of dissidents such as Alexander Solzhenitsyn (1918-2008) and Nadezhda Mandelstam (1899-1980) had become well known worldwide, but should not overshadow the tens of thousands of Christians who died for their beliefs. At least 21 million people are believed to have died in repression, persecution and “terror famines” after 1917, including 106,000 Orthodox clergy shot during the 1937-8 Great Purge alone, according to Russian government data. A total of 422 Catholic priests were executed, murdered or tortured to death during the period, along with 962 monks, nuns and laypeople, while all but two of the Catholic Church's 1240 places of worship were forcibly turned into shops, warehouses, farm buildings and public toilets.

In his Tablet interview, Mgr Kovalevsky said the Catholic Church was ready to help commemorate all those who died, but was particularly concerned to preserve the memory of the Soviet Union’s Christian victims. Speaking earlier this year, Patriarch Kirill blamed the revolution's violence on "horrible crimes committed by the intelligentsia against God, the faith, their people and their country", and urged citizens to mark the centenary with “deep reflection and sincere prayer”.

TESTIMONIES: 100 years after the October Revolution, the martyrdom of the Catholic Church in the USSR

The volume "The Catholic Church in the Soviet Union from the Revolution of 1917 to Perestrojka", by Prof. Jan Mikrut of the Pontifical Gregorian University of Rome, presents the Via Crucis that the Catholic Church, of the both rites, traversed in that era, chronologically and thematically. The Via Crucis is populated by numerous figures who have already been raised to the glory of the altars, but also by others whose beatification process is still ongoing and thousands of unknown heroes of the faith whose story we will never know.

I recall the memories of the late Card. Kazimierz Swiatek, Bishop of Pinsk in Belarus, who, in recounting his arrest, described particular fact: ... I was detained in Brest prison. There was a fly with me. Her buzz brought me some comfort and joy. After a while, however, the fly settled on the parapet and stopped giving any signs of life. I was alone. Then I was deported to Siberia.

A curious story came to me from Ukraine. After Yuriy Gagarin carried out the first space flight, non-believers wanted to exploit the event to promote atheism. And so one of them went to an orthodox church, and told the pastor he was to inform the faithful that Yuriy Gagarin had been to space and had not seen God and therefore God did not exist. He threatened that if the failed to give such an announcement they would close the church. The humble priest therefore, at the end of the Sunday liturgy, told his faithful: Dear brothers and sisters, Yuriy Alekseevich Gagarin flew into space but did not see God. But the Lord saw him, blessed and therefore Gagarin returned happily to earth.

Working as a vicar in the chapel of Our Lady of the Gate of Dawn in Vilnius, I often welcomed the testimonies of the faith of the simple people who, despite the persecution, kept their faith intact. Once an old lady confided to me in the sacristy that she knelt on her knees and prayed in the church of St. Casimir, which had recently transformed into a Museum of Atheism. A museum clerk approached her, saying that she was not allowed to pray in that place as it was a museum of atheism. The old lady, however, answered resolutely that even if that was a museum for some, for her it would always be a church and therefore a house of prayer.

I will forget never the blessing ceremony of the first stone of the new church in the town of Marx on Volga, which took place in the early 1990s. Before the liturgy I was approached by the older people, begging me to put a simple brick in place of the angular stone. When I asked why they had this desire, as most usually wish the cornerstone to originate from some holy place, they proceeded to tell a truly moving story. During the religious persecution in the USSR, the old Marx church was destroyed. The inhabitants of that city, however, brought bricks from the ruins to their homes. They put them in the visible places and for long decades they prayed in front of those simple bricks. So, thanks to those bricks, the faith could be preserved and passed on to young people. We want the new church under construction to have a bond with the old, destroyed one, they told me.


Misremembering the Russian Revolution: Romanticism Not Reality
To understand why the Church battled Communism, just look at what happened to Russia
No pomp as Russia revolution centenary nears

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 17- "On non-possessiveness"

8. Let us monks, then, be as trustful as the birds are; for they have no cares, neither do they gather into barns.

October 24, 2017

(Luk 12:2-3) For there is nothing covered that shall not be revealed: nor hidden that shall not be known. For whatsoever things you have spoken in darkness shall be published in the light: and that which you have spoken in the ear in the chambers shall be preached on the housetops.

MARK MALLET BLOG: Revelation Illumination

St. Andrews Productions: The Miracle of Illumination of All Consciences by Dr. Thomas W. Petrisko

From as far back as the 16th century, when St. Edmund Campion of England spoke of “a great day that would reveal all men’s consciences,” a coming “day of enlightenment” has been foretold. It is purported to be a day in which God will supernaturally illuminate the conscience of every man, woman, and child on earth. Each person, then, would momentarily see the state of their soul through God’s eyes and realize the truth of His existence. This predicted event is now said to be imminent, as talk concerning the certainty of this miracle has intensified. This book is a comprehensive and authoritative guide on this coming event, using Scripture and testimony from the Saints and Visionaries to explain this coming miracle of God’s Mercy. ‘It will be an act of act of His Mercy. Whether the world will avoid annihilation of several entire nations, will depend on how each of us reacts to this act of His Mercy. At a time when the world has lost its sense of sin, we will suddenly see ourselves as God sees us. We will recognize our sins.- Fr. Philip Bebie, CP Thomas W. Petrisko


A MOMENT WITH MARY: Satan fears the Rosary

In his book The Last Exorcist—composed of texts from various blogs, Father Amorth reports an entire dialogue he had, in his role as exorcist, with the devil.

Father Amorth: “What are the virtues of the Madonna that make you angriest?”

Demon: “She makes me angry because she is the humblest of all creatures, and because I am the proudest; because she is the purest of all creatures, and I am not; because, of all creatures, she is the most obedient to God, and I am a rebel!”

Father Amorth: “Tell me the fourth characteristic of the Madonna that makes you so afraid of her that you are more afraid when I say the Madonna’s name than when I say the name of Jesus Christ!”

Demon: “I am more afraid when you say the Madonna’s name, because I am more humiliated by being beaten by a simple creature, than by Him…”

Father Amorth: “Tell me the fourth characteristic of the Madonna that makes you most angry!”

Demon: “Because she always defeats me, because she was never compromised by any taint of sin!”

“During an exorcism,” Father Amorth remembers, “Satan told me, through the possessed person, ‘Every Hail Mary of the Rosary is a blow to the head for me; if Christians knew the power of the Rosary, it would be the end of me!'”

BLOG: The Ted Bundy Rosary Miracle

MATTHEW KELLY: The Rosary teaches us how to just be, and that is not a small or inisignificant lesson.

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 17- "On non-possessiveness"

6. He who has tasted the things on high easily despises what is below. But he who has not tasted the things above finds joy in possessions.

October 20, 2017

(Joh 17:20-23) And not for them only do I pray, but for them also who through their word shall believe in me. That they all may be one, as thou, Father, in me, and I in thee; that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou hast given me, I have given to them: that, they may be one, as we also are one. I in them, and thou in me: that they may be made perfect in one: and the world may know that thou hast sent me and hast loved them, as thou hast also loved me.

CATHOLIC STAR HERALD EXCERPT: Catholic and Orthodox ‘journeying toward unity’

Back in June, Pope Francis met with a delegation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople who came to Rome to celebrate the feast of Saints Peter and Paul. Pope Francis has a close tie with the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, who he has met with several times since becoming pope in 2013. In fact, he was the first Patriarch of Constantinople to ever attend an installation of a pope of Rome. Francis often invites the patriarch to join him on historical occasions and has visited the Holy Phanar in Constantinople for a Divine Liturgy celebrated by Bartholomew.

While the two leaders share a great rapport, the two great churches of the East and West are still separated after almost a millennium.

Pope Francis is building upon the foundation of rapprochement laid by all the popes going back to Pope Saint John XXIII who called for an Ecumenical Council aimed at modernizing the church and healing the divisions of Christianity. While they were together on a joint pilgrimage to the Holy Land, they discussed the possibility of an “ecumenical synod” in 2025 to mark the 1,700th anniversary of the Great Council of Nicaea. It was at this Council that the undivided church produced the Nicene Creed. They have also banded together in their efforts to confront such global issues as fostering peace and addressing climate change and abuse of the environment.

Anthony Limberakis, who lives in Philadelphia and serves as national commander of the Order of Saint Andrew, an Orthodox organization that promotes the work of the patriarch in the U.S., believes that the two churches are certainly on the road “journeying toward unity.” He said, “The fact that these two leaders have come together for reconciliation is an example for others. They have reaffirmed their willingness to continue their dialogue and to try and accomplish full communion between the churches.” Father John Chryssavgis, an Orthodox priest and theological advisor to Patriarch Bartholomew, remarked on the close ties of the leaders that “underlines the serious and sincere commitment to the unity that the two ‘Sister Churches’ seek, it also recognizes the need, regardless of confessional differences, for a united witness to a broken world, where social injustice abounds, where the ecological crisis has reached alarming heights and where power and religion are abused.”

At the June meeting in Rome, Pope Francis said that the journey toward unity or full communion should respect their ancient and unique traditions. He said we are not seeking some wooden uniformity that in the end would be boring, but rather a diversity that respects each tradition.  “Peter and Paul, as disciples and apostles of Jesus Christ, served the Lord in very different ways,” said the pope to the Orthodox delegation. He added, “Yet in their diversity, both bore witness to the merciful love of God our Father, which each in his own fashion profoundly experienced, even to the sacrifice of his own life.” He also reminded all present that day that the churches of East and West always commemorate the feast of the two great Apostles together. He said this is the right thing to do, especially together as Orthodox and Catholics, because the feast is also a celebration of “their self-sacrifice for love of the Lord, for it is at the same time a commemoration of unity and diversity.” He said gathering together to remember these two patrons of the church “increases our desire for the full restoration of communion between Catholics and Orthodox.”


Fatima fulfilled: Archbishop celebrates return of Russia to Christ
Parolin, Kirill Say ‘New Stage’ In Catholic, Orthodox Church Relations
Pope talks Ukraine with Hilarion

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 17- "On non-possessiveness"

4. A non-possessive man is pure during prayer, but an acquisitive man prays to material images.

October 18, 2017

(Luk 10:1-6) And after these things, the Lord appointed also other seventy-two. And he sent them two and two before his face into every city and place whither he himself was to come. And he said to them: The harvest indeed is great, but the labourers are few. Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest that he send labourers into his harvest. Go: Behold I send you as lambs among wolves. Carry neither purse, nor scrip, nor shoes: and salute no man by the way. Into whatever house you enter, first say: Peace be to this house. And if the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon him: but if not, it shall return to you.

POPE FRANCIS (letter to Japanese Bishops): “The genuine evangelistic strength of your Church, which comes from being a Church of martyrs and confessors of the faith, is a great asset to guard and develop.”

MUST READ: Pope Pius IX and Japan. The History of an Oriental Miracle

CATHOLIC MILITANT: Cardinal Rallies Catholics to Evangelize Japan

A leading Vatican prelate is calling on Catholics to resume the evangelization of Japan.  Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, told an audience in the archdiocese of Nagasaki Tuesday that the time has come to "resume missio for non-Christians." Catholics, he said, must "put in the eyes of non-Christians the identity of Jesus through their lives, approaching them all with patience and friendship."

The Christianization of Japan will not be easy, the cardinal conceded. Hearkening back to the centuries of extraordinary persecution Japanese Catholics suffered, he reminded his audience that living and sharing God's grace is challenging. Even so, he noted, this same challenge was encountered and met "in Jerusalem, as well as in Rome and Greece at the time of the Apostles, and not only in the early centuries of the Church."

Filoni observed that faith in Christ has always been regarded as revolutionary, owing to man's fallen nature. The recovery of missionary zeal, he affirmed, will ultimately transform Japanese society:

[T]he present difficulties will not disappear magically in the near future, given the acceleration of secularization of society. However, you must not resign yourself to the immensity of problems because the essential work is accomplished by grace, that is, from God. God loves the Japanese and knows the problems and anguish of this people.

Cardinal Filoni echoed his call to arms in Nagasaki during a visit to Osaka.

Japan, he said, "is not immune from the evils that afflict our century: secularization, religious indifference, ethical subjectivism, loss of the sense of the sacred, that afflict many ancient Western Christian communities."

He noted that it has been four-and-a-half centuries since the first Catholic missionaries landed on Japanese shores and that, today, Christians are a tiny minority in the country.

The problem afflicting the Church in Japan, he said "is faith." Christ is too-little pursued; there is no "intimate relationship with Him in prayer" and "when this is lacking, the face of the Church is blurry, the mission loses strength and conversion goes backwards."

Cardinal Filoni urged Catholics to go into Japanese society — afflicted by solitude, suicide and rising despair — to offer hope which is the message of salvation through Jesus Christ.

Looking to the model of St. Theresa of Calcutta, he advised, "Do not worry about the numbers. Help one person at a time and always start with the person closest to you. ... It is the same evangelistic way of Jesus: to announce the good news of the Kingdom of God by looking into the eyes of individual people, in parishes, in hospitals, in schools, in workplaces or in the streets, anywhere."

Cardinal Filoni observed that the Church in Japan faces great challenges and great hope. Speaking to a group of seminarians, he offered them hope:

It is true that the priests, religious and you the seminarians of Japan are small in number but the power of salt and light stems not from quantity but from quality and authenticity. Although the Apostles were only twelve, with zeal and with the power of the grace of Christ, they carried His message everywhere.

NCR: A Visit to Nagasaki, the Catholic Heart of Japan

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 17- "On non-possessiveness"

3. The non-possessive ascetic is a son of detachment, and thinks of what he has as if it were nothing. When he becomes a solitary, he regards everything as refuse. But if he worries about something, he has not yet become non-possessive.

October 16, 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.

POPE FRANCIS: "God does not forget his children, his memory is for the righteous, for those who suffer, who are oppressed and ask, 'Why?' and yet they do not stop trusting in the Lord".

NEWS REPORT: Pope adds 35 saints to church, nearly all martyrs

ACN: Christian persecution reaches historic levels

The persecution of Christians is worse than at any time in history, according to a new report that was issued Oct. 12, 2017.

The “Persecuted and Forgotten?” report concludes that the persecution of Christians reached a high water mark in 2015-17—with growing attacks on the faithful by ISIS, Boko Haram, and other extremist groups.

The new report, produced by international papal charity Aid to the Church in Need, also identified growing problems in a number of Muslim-majority countries and authoritarian states, such as Eritrea and North Korea.

The Report’s editor John Pontifex said: “In terms of the numbers of people involved, the gravity of the crimes committed and their impact, it is clear that the persecution of Christians is today worse than at any time in history. Not only are Christians more persecuted than any other faith group, but ever-increasing numbers are experiencing the very worst forms of persecution.” The report finds in the countries under review that many faith communities have suffered at the hands of extremists and authoritarian regimes; however, it concludes that Christians have experienced the most hostility and violence.

The report supports this claim with a series of examples showing the extent of the problems facing Christians in each of the 13 core countries it assesses in depth—as well as providing an overview of the state of religious freedom for the country’s various denominations.

“Persecuted and Forgotten?” found that members of China’s 127 million-strong Christian population have suffered growing persecution following new attempts to bring Christianity in line with communist ideals. More than 2,000 churches and crosses have been pulled down in China’s coastal Province of Zhejiang—and clergy are still being routinely detained by authorities.

During the campaign of genocide by ISIS and other Islamist militant groups in the Middle East, Christians were disproportionately affected by the extremists.

In Iraq, more than half of the country’s Christian population became internal refugees and Syria’s second city of Aleppo, which until 2011 was home to the largest Christian community, saw numbers dropping from 150,000 to barely 35,000 by spring 2017—a fall of more than 75 percent.

Despite national governments and international organizations having declared that a genocide has taken place, local Church leaders in the Middle East have said that they feel forgotten by the international community—which they claim is overlooking the needs of displaced Christians.

Extremism has been a growing problem in Africa—particularly in Nigeria where ISIS affiliate Boko Haram has displaced more than 1.8 million people.

In one diocese alone—Kafanchan—within five years, 988 people had been killed, and 71 Christian-majority villages had been destroyed, as well as 2,712 homes and 20 churches.

For more information, please click here; to read the Executive Summary of the 2017 “Persecuted & Forgotten?” Report, please visit

MORE: Christians in Middle East feel 'abandoned, betrayed' by the West

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 17- "On non-possessiveness"

2. A non-possessive monk is lord of the world. He has entrusted his cares to God, and by faith has obtained all men as his servants. He will not tell his need to man, and he receives what comes to him as from the hand of the Lord.

October 13, 2017

(Rev 12:5-6) And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with an iron rod. And her son was taken up to God and to his throne. And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she had a place prepared by God, that there they should feed her, a thousand two hundred sixty days.

YOUTUBE FILM: Fatima, the 13th day

YOUTUBE VIDEO: The Miracle of the Sun in Fatima October 13, 1917

REVIEW: FATIMA AND MODERNITY: PROPHECY AND ESCHATOLOGY by Antonio Dos Santos Marto, Bishop of Leiria-FŠtima, Portugal

CATHOLIC WORLD REPORT: Fatima: Spectacular signs for a skeptical age

CATHNEWS: 'Miracle' Mother outshines the sun

On that day in Fatima Portugal, 100 years ago, no less than 40,000 people saw the sun dance in the sky and then seemingly hurtle down to earth in a manner akin to an apocalyptic event; a very real phenomenon widely reported in the secular press of the day.

This ‘miracle’ of course was the sideshow to something much deeper and much more beautiful; the heavenly visitation of the Queen of Heaven to the three shepherd children of Fatima. To these young children aged 7, 9 and 10 years, she confided a simple yet powerful secret that if heeded, would bring about peace in the world. She implored them on several occasions to spread this singular message: “Pray the Rosary.”

Unfortunately, history plays testament to the fact that humanity has, in the main, failed to pay heed to this simple request. War, the pulverisation of the human person, and the plethora of problems which afflict the family unit, give evidence that we can do no worse than actually listen to a mother who cares deeply for each and every one of her dear children.

A most striking fact that should touch us at our very core, our heart, is that Mary should visit us on as many occasions as she has through the ages and in such varied places and situations.

One of the most famous of these visits was that in Guadalupe Mexico and it is timely as well as thought-provoking here to ponder Our Lady’s words to St Juan Diego… “Let not your heart be disturbed…am I not here, who is your Mother? Are you not under my not grieve nor be disturbed by anything.”

This is the same relationship which each one of us is invited to have with our Mother and the Rosary is a normative way by which we can enter into this grace-filled encounter with this Mother who reaches out to us in love.

MANILLA TIMES: Mary warns us of chastisements. Do we listen?

With this year’s centenary of Our Lady of Fatima’s apparitions in 1917, many devotees fear Apocalyptic end times are approaching. Many fret over the Third Secret of Fatima, published in 2000 despite the Blessed Virgin’s instructions to disclose it in 1960, as conveyed by visionary Sister Lucia Dos Santos.  As in the first two Secrets – touching on hell and World War II – the Third spoke of chastisements for man’s disregard of God and transgressions against His law.

Wrote the late Fatima expert Fr. Malachi Martin: “Lucia’s single page written formulation of the ‘Third Secret’ covers three main topics. A Physical Chastisement of the nations, involving catastrophes, man-made or natural, on land, on water and in the atmosphere of the globe. A Spiritual Chastisement, far more frightening and distressing – especially for Roman Catholics – than physical hardship, since it would consist of the disappearance of religious belief, a period of widespread unfaith in many countries.”

One vision spoke of the Pope with companions climbing a hill over dead people, being slain by bullets and arrows. Speaking about the Third Secret in 1980, Pope Saint John Paul II said that divine punishments could no longer be stopped, though praying the Rosary could mitigate them.  The following year, on the anniversary of the first Fatima apparition on May 13, John Paul II was shot in St. Peter’s Square, a failed assassination attempt seen as possibly fulfilling Sister Lucia’s vision.

Those who closely followed the life of the shepherd girl-turned-visionary nun, who died at 97 in 2005, may be most worried about the warning she received from Jesus Christ Himself. At a monastery in Rianjo, Spain, in 1931, He told her in a vision: “Make it known to My ministers, given that they follow the example of the King of France in delaying the execution of My command, they will follow him into misfortune.”

The Lord was believed to be referring to the Catholic hierarchy’s failure then to execute the instruction delivered by Our Lady of Fatima, for the Pope in communion with all other bishops to consecrate Russia to her Immaculate Heart, for the nation’s conversion and world peace.  “If not, Russia will spread its errors throughout the world, fomenting wars and persecution of the Church,” said Sister Lucia of Mary’s warning in 1917, the year before the Christian monarchy became the communist Soviet Union and spread atheism and totalitarianism worldwide.

The Vatican contends that St. John Paul II fulfilled the instruction in 1984, when he consecrated all nations to the Immaculate Heart. Several years later, the Soviet empire dissolved, and the communists lost power in Russia.  Today, its authoritarian government is strengthening the Russian Orthodox faith, restoring church property seized by government under communism, and building places of worship using state funds.

So should the Fatima warnings no longer bother us? Not so fast.

Addressing half a million pilgrims in Fatima on May 13, 2010, then-Pope Benedict XVI cautioned: “Whoever thinks that the prophetic mission of Fatima is over, is deceived.” Both he and Sister Lucia have said that the Third Secret speaks about the end times, and reflects the prophecies in the Bible.  She is quoted in a 1986 book on the Third Secret: “The Most Holy Virgin made me understand that we are living in the last times of the world.”

Another Fatima disciple, the Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, a hugely popular American TV preacher in the last century, declared: “… the two great forces of the Mystical Body of Christ and the mystical body of Antichrist are beginning to draw up their battle lines for a catastrophic contest.” That echoes Sister Lucia’s own words in a 1957 interview: “She told me that the devil is about to wage a decisive battle against the Blessed Virgin, … where one side will be victorious and the other side will suffer defeat. Also, from now on we must choose sides. Either we are for God or we are for the devil; there is no in-between.” ‘The world has gone the opposite way’ Well, if the Fatima apparitions are supposed to get mankind on God’s side in some cataclysmic final confrontation, it looks like the world missed the message.

The year after being nearly fatally shot, John Paul II reviewed the Third Secret, then lamented: “The world has gone in the opposite direction than the one intended by Our Lady at Fatima.” In 1957, Sister Lucia told her interviewer Fr. Augustin Fuentes: “Father, the Most Holy Virgin is very sad because no one has paid attention to her message, neither the good nor the bad. The good continue on their way but without giving any importance to her message. The bad, not seeing the punishment of God actually falling upon them, continue their life of sin without even caring about the message. But believe me, Father, God will chastise the world and this will be in a terrible manner.” That was six decades ago. Now, a century after Fatima, God may be tired of waiting.

A couple of years ago, University of California, Santa Cruz, professor Thorne Lay told that between 2004 and 2014, the average annual rate of earthquakes of magnitude 8 or stronger nearly tripled to 1.8. Yet smaller quakes didn’t increase.

In last September, oceanographers Wei Mei and Shang-ping Xie reported that “over the past 37 years, typhoons that strike East and Southeast Asia have intensified by 12-15 percent, with the proportion of storms of categories 4 and 5 [like Yolanda and Nina]having doubled or even tripled. In contrast, typhoons that stay over the open ocean have experienced only modest changes.” Add to that the surge in Zika, Ebola, SARS and other incurable diseases, plus escalating tensions pitting the West against Russia, China, and the Islamic world.

But maybe it’s all coincidence, and we can just continue our merry way. Or as St. Alphonsus Liguori, the 18th Century saint who popularized the Wednesday novena to Our Lady of Perpetual Help, said: “Many sinners will not believe in the divine threats until the chastisement has come upon them.”

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 17- "On non-possessiveness"

1. Non-possessiveness is the resignation of cares, life without anxiety, an unencumbered wayfarer, alienation from sorrow, fidelity to the commandments.

October 11, 2017

(Luk 1:28) And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.

YOUTUBE VIDEO: Mass Rosary praying on the borders of Poland

ICN: Poland: 'The Rosary to the Borders'

The Polish Episcopal Conference has issued the following statement:

Several million Poles prayed the rosary at the same time throughout the country this Saturday. This was the largest prayer event in Europe after the 2016 World Youth Day.

"The Rosary to the Borders" is the name of the prayer initiative, which took place on 7 October, the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. On the 100th anniversary of the apparitions in Fatima, pilgrims went to the borders of Poland, where Holy Mass was celebrated simultaneously in 300 churches at 11am, with the Rosary prayed at 2pm.

This was an initiative started by lay people, the aim of which was, among others, to promote the Rosary prayer. The Secretariat of the Polish Bishops' Conference invited the faithful to attend the Masses and to join in the recitation of the Rosary.

The organizers indicate that the intention of the prayer is peace in Europe and in the world, so that the walls of hatred and hostility may be destroyed.

Organizers reminded that the year 2017 is in particular devoted to Virgin Mary, because of the important anniversaries that are celebrated this year: the 100th anniversary of the apparitions in Fatima, the 300th anniversary of the coronation of the image of Our Lady of Czestochowa, Poland, and the 140th anniversary of the apparitions in Gietrzwald, Poland.

Millions of people took part in the Holy Mass. This exceeded the boldest expectations of the organizers. People gathered in prayer together not only at the borders of Poland, but also in town squares, at village borders, in churches and chapels, in hospitals, at the airports and in many other places.

It was also a great media event. Participants shared in social media videos and photos of the praying groups, with the hashtag (in Polish) #RůzaniecDoGranic and #RozaniecDoGranic.

MORE: Polish Catholics come together at the country's borders, praying to 'save Poland'

OP-ED CATHOLIC HERALD: Praying the rosary is not ‘controversial’. It’s our best weapon against evil

ACN: A call for a million children around the world to pray the rosary for peace in Syria

We have lauched the “One Million Children Praying the Rosary” campaign, scheduled for Oct. 18, 2017, in honor of October as the month of the Holy Rosary and to petition the Lord for peace in Syria, especially for the sake of the children in the war-ravaged nation.

We are calling for children everywhere to say the rosary on that day at 9AM on Oct. 18, in their respective time zones. That day, the rosary will also be dedicated to a prayer for unity and peace throughout the world. In many parts of the world, plans calls for an interruption in the classroom so that students can participate and pray along.

The children’s rosary campaign was initiated in 2005 in Venezuela. The initiators have placed their faith in a quotation from St. Padre Pio, “When one million children pray the rosary, the world will change.” This gave the initiative its name. The response from all over the world has been great. Last year, children in 69 countries took part in the prayer campaign.

Our international president, Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, wrote in his letter of invitation to children everywhere to join in: “In 2017 especially, the 100th anniversary of the appearances of the Queen of the Holy Rosary at Fatima, the best thing we can do for peace in this world is to take the message from heaven seriously. Is it not significant that God chose children in Fatima to be the recipients of the most momentous peace plan for the new age? The children understood the language of Our Lady and, most importantly, believed her words. Shouldn’t we be doing so much more to teach children and support them in playing a part in this peace plan, a plan that is more topical than ever today?”

Materials for the prayer campaign can be downloaded at

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 16- "On love of money, or avarice"

7. He who has conquered this passon has cut out care; but he who is bound by it never attains to pure prayer.

October 9, 2017

(Ezekiel 16:20-21, 27) “And you took your sons and your daughters, whom you had borne to me, and these you sacrificed to them to be devoured. Were your harlotries so small a matter that you slaughtered my children and delivered them up as an offering by fire to them? . . . Behold, therefore, I stretched out my hand against you, and diminished your allotted portion, and delivered you to the greed of your enemies . . . ”.

VICTIMS OF ABORTION: Broken Branches Issue 119 Oct/Nov

NEWS REPORT (USA): An Advance on Abortion

CNA: The Bible's Teaching Against Abortion


One of the most consistent signs in a nation’s fall into apostasy is the reemergence of a certain spirit – the spirit of Baal. Messianic rabbi Jonathan Cahn detailed the highly important role of this false god during the apostasy of ancient Israel.

“Ba’al means lord, or master, or owner,” Cahn said. Switching to the more common pronunciation of “Baal,” Cahn explained how the pagan god has a symbolic meaning that goes far behind his actual historical importance.

“Baal’s importance, or his dynamic, is that when a nation has known God, as Israel knew God, and then they turned away from God, they turned to Baal,” he said. “Baal is the anti-God. Baal is the substitute god. Baal is the god of apostasy, of the turning away from God.” Cahn linked Baal with the practice of idolatry, or the way humans can create their own god.

“Once you create your own god, you can create your own truth,” he said. “Once you create your own truth, you can overrule everything, call good evil and evil good. … Idolatry is linked to relativism, because you’re creating truths. Once you change your gods, everything else changes. It starts with that.” Cahn explained how the worship of Baal was not just the worship of a false god, but was the precursor to the degeneration of an entire culture.

“It’s a move toward carnality,” he said of the change. “It’s a move toward materialism, but it was also a god of debasement, because you had sexual immorality. In the cult of Baal, you had ‘sacred prostitutes.’ You took sexuality out of marriage and put it into the public culture. So you have that going on. You had male prostitutes, now you have homosexuality.

“Then one more step, you have the offering up of children. You have this big statue of Baal, with bronze arms and bull head and they would place their baby on those arms and have it rolled into the fire. This is what happened in ancient Israel. This was a long-term apostasy.” The messianic rabbi compared the situation of ancient Israel during its fall away from God to what is happening in America today.

“It’s a dangerous period,” he intoned. “It’s a period of apostasy, acceleration of apostasy. The same events that happened there, we’re replaying it now. It’s all affected our lives.”

OP-ED: There's nothing Catholic about 'Catholics for Choice'

Earlier this week, Washingtonians who ride the metro were greeted by a shocking advertisement from "Catholics for Choice" – though it was utterly un-Catholic. The cover ad in the Washington Post Express blared the slogan "Public funding for abortion is a Catholic social justice value" and argued for free abortions for the "poorest women."

The idea that we ought to fight poverty by eliminating poor children is pernicious. It is also the very antithesis of any Catholic notion of social justice, which is about recognizing the dignity of every human person, including the unborn, and advocating for policies that alleviate and lift people out of poverty.

Science teaches us that the unborn child of a poor woman is a member of our human family. Any embryology textbook will confirm that each and every fetus is a unique member of the species homo sapien, one of us. It is a fact that every human being on the planet began as a tiny embryo.

Faith also teaches us that the unborn child of a poor woman is a member of our human family, and an especially vulnerable one. Faith tells us that both the unborn child and the mother facing poverty deserve our love, our compassion, and our assistance. Catholic charities have been caring for the least among us for 2,000 years, operating food pantries, homeless shelters, foster care, adoption services, and hospitals, as well as education and job training programs.

"Catholics for Choice" is not an authentic voice for any faith, but rather is just another abortion advocacy group with misleading letterhead and a horrid message.

As Mother Teresa of Calcutta once said, "Any country that accepts abortion is the poorest of the poor."


Abortion, America and God’s judgment
Abortion: Legalized Child Sacrifice to Satan

"Do not join homicide to lust, violence to disobedience, and do not think that God does not see, simply because man does not see. God sees everything and remembers everything. You ought to remember that, too."

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 16- "On love of money, or avarice"

4. He who mourns for himself has also renounced his body; and, at the appropriate time, he does not spare it.

October 6, 2017

(Mat 16:18-19) And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven.

CATECHISM OF CATHOLIC CHURCH: 892 Divine assistance is also given to the successors of the apostles, teaching in communion with the successor of Peter, and, in a particular way, to the bishop of Rome, pastor of the whole Church, when, without arriving at an infallible definition and without pronouncing in a "definitive manner," they propose in the exercise of the ordinary Magisterium a teaching that leads to better understanding of Revelation in matters of faith and morals. To this ordinary teaching the faithful "are to adhere to it with religious assent" which, though distinct from the assent of faith, is nonetheless an extension of it.

VIA Father Joseph Iannuzzi, STD, Ph.D.: Can a Pope Become a Heretic?

BLOG: Can a Pope Teach Heresy in his Ordinary Magiserium?

CANON LAW MADE EASY: Can a Pope Commit Heresy? (“Heresy” Defined)

: The Papacy is not one Pope

OPINION CHURCH MILITANT: Public Criticism of the Pope

GUARDIAN EDITORIAL: Is the Pope Catholic?

A group of conservative clerics has accused Pope Francis of heresy for his attempts to liberalise the church’s treatment of divorced people. This raises an interesting question: how long must a pope be dead before his opinions can safely be ignored? For many people the answer is “no time at all”: it is not just humanists, Muslims and Protestants, but the vast majority of the world’s Catholics who take little notice of Catholic doctrine when they disagree with it. The Catholic right ignores more than a hundred years of consistent papal teaching against the excesses of capitalism, along with more recent denunciations of the death penalty, of wars of aggression and of environmental destruction. The Catholic left ignores the pope’s teachings on sexuality – and everyone ignores the ban on contraception.

Popes themselves, however, are meant to take their predecessors very seriously even though neither party is writing infallibly. Papal encyclicals read like legal documents, buttressed with footnotes to prove that doctrine has not changed, and that they are just repeating what their predecessors meant, even when they contradict what was plainly said. Those magnificent robes conceal some very fancy footwork at times. It is an article of faith – literally – that doctrine can never change, only develop, and the eye of faith can clearly see the subtle differences between change, development and decay. So the 19th-century denunciations of democracy and freedom of thought and conscience are now ignored, but pope John Paul II’s refusal to admit women priests looks certain to stand for another couple of centuries at least.

What, though, of Pope John Paul II’s equally clear denunciation of divorced and remarried couples taking communion, restated forcefully only 14 years ago? “Those who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin”, as he referred to remarried divorcees, are to be banned from participation in the central rite of the church. Even at the time, this was widely ignored – his letter is one of those laws from which historians can conclude that the conduct banned was commonplace. There can be very few Catholic congregations in the west without divorced and remarried communicants and everyone knows this. To turn them away at the altar rails would cause a public scandal, and that is also banned. So it’s unlikely that the letter had any effect on the facts on the ground.

But the efforts of the present pope, Francis, to reverse his predecessors’ policy have provoked a vigorous backlash. Whether he is changing doctrine, as his opponents charge, or merely the interpretation of doctrine, as his supporters claim, there is no doubt that he wants the church to encourage some of the people who are in breach of its regulations on sexuality to take communion. The issue is simply no longer controversial in any other church, despite Jesus’s clear statement of principled opposition to divorce.

Only the Catholic church has the combination of bureaucracy and authoritarianism that makes it so difficult for the clergy to learn from the experience of their flocks. The very idea that the church should learn from the world and not teach it outrages some Catholics. The most recent development is the publication of a long letter accusing the pope of heresy for his beliefs about remarriage, signed by 62 conservative clergy, who appear keen on refighting the Reformation 500 years on: they also accuse Francis of various Lutheran heresies incomprehensible to the untrained mind. Francis sees the church as a hospital; his enemies see it (as Luther did) as a kind of fortress against error and infidels. The important thing, though, is that Francis after years of debate is winning the argument. There are 4,000 bishops in the worldwide church; only one, who is 94, has signed it. Plenty of Catholics may disagree with Francis. But no one in the hierarchy dares publicly ignore him, at least while he’s alive.

MORE: An A to Z defense of Pope Francis


A deeper look at the 'filial correction' of Pope Francis
Why Pope Francis is reviving a long tradition of local variations in Catholic services
Pope Francis' retooling of the JPII Institute shows his modus operandi

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 16- "On love of money, or avarice"

3. The lover of money sneers at the Gospel, and is a willful transgressor. He who has attained to love scatters his money. But he who says that he lives for love and for money has deceived himself.

October 4, 2017

(Mat 16:24-25) Then Jesus said to his disciples: If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For he that will save his life, shall lose it: and he that shall lose his life for my sake, shall find it.

NEWS REPORT: Scientists say part of St. Francis of Assisi legend is true

OPINION: Mystic Mantra: Unencumbered by baggage

When I am dying, lay me naked on the ground and let me lie there after I’m dead for some time,” were instructions of Saint Francis of Assisi to his companions before he died on October 3, 1226. Francis is universally loved because of his deep love for God, care for the poor and sensitivity towards all creatures who he fondly called mother earth, brother sun and sister water.

Born in 1181 to wealthy cloth merchants Pietro and Giovanna Bernardone in Assisi, Italy, “Francesco” lived in luxury with romantic dreams of knighthood. A serious illness dashed his dreams of glory. Recovering, he began questioning the ultimate meaning of life. On meeting a leper, Francis gave him alms and embraced him warmly, which, in his own words, “changed bitterness into sweetness”.

With his new-found love for the poor and forsaken, Francesco prayed in San Damiano’s church for guidance. He heard a voice from the crucified Christ: “Francis, repair my house which is in ruins.” Believing this to be a call to repair dilapidated churches, he bought bricks to renovate churches. He even disposed off silks from his family’s cloth-shop to acquire funds for this. Infuriated, his father ordered him to abandon his work and inherit the family business. But, Francis left home and began his spiritual quest.

Francis’ spirituality is inspirational in many ways. First, he experienced God’s profound love in two peak moments of Jesus’ life: his birth in Bethlehem’s crib and his death on Calvary’s cross. This led him to preach and practice love not in mere words but in the selfless and sacrificial gift of himself for the welfare of others.

Second, Francis’ mystical “inner eye” saw the whole cosmos originating from God and finding final fulfilment in God. Thus, everything and everyone — animate or inanimate — was brother, sister, mother and friend. His “Canticle of the Creatures” echoes this exquisitely.

Third, Francis can be considered the pioneer of interfaith dialogue. In 1219, he travelled to Damietta, Egypt, to dialogue with Sultan Malek al-Kamil at a time when Christian-Muslim relations were terribly strained. Later, Francis composed the beautiful hymn: Lord, make me a channel of your peace. Where there is hatred let me sow your love...

Freed from all attachments to family, fame and fortune, Francis’ lifestyle has attracted many youth who, over centuries, have left everything to serve God and the poor. His companions were first called Fratres Minores — “Little Brothers” — who pledged “to walk in the footsteps of Jesus”.

Francis of Assisi inspires us to live harmoniously and happily as “little brothers/sisters” if we live unencumbered by burdensome egos, treasure our connectedness to Mother Earth, and, in his alleged advice, “Preach constantly — and, if necessary, with words!”

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!: St. Francis of Assisi and the Conversion of the Muslims by Frank M. Rega, S.F.O.

"The most important book on St. Francis in English, in recent years." Brother Alexis Bugnolo, Editor, the Franciscan Archive,

"This is a rare and daring approach to the life of St. Francis and one that is so necessary in our world at this time." From the Preface by Father Angelus M. Shaughnessy, O.F.M. Capuchin and EWTN Priest.

". . . ecumenical revisionists are now seeking to deconstruct the great Franciscan and refashion him into a multi-cultural icon, as forewarned in this . . . forthcoming book, which concentrates on his Islamic encounters during the 5th Crusade." Rod Pead - Editor, "Christian Order"

EXCERPT (with permission): (Sultan) Al-Kamil made another attempt to test St. Francis, this time in the matter of the Gospel teachings of Christ. This incident shows that he had some familiarity with Christian doctrine, perhaps based on what had already been preached to him by Francis. The Sultan confronted the friar with the words from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, recounted in the Gospel of St. Matthew:

But I say to you not to resist evil: but if one strike thee on thy right cheek, turn to him also the other: And if a man will contend with thee in judgment, and take away thy coat, let go thy cloak also unto him. (Matthew 5: 39-40).

The sultan asked Francis why, in the light of this teaching of Jesus, should Crusaders be invading the lands of the Muslims? Since the passage teaches “turning the other cheek” and repaying evil with good, the sultan was contending that there was no justification for the Crusader invasions, even though he knew that the Muslims had taken the land by force from the Christians centuries earlier.

Once again the response of Francis surprised al-Kamil. He declared that the sultan had not completely studied the Gospel, and pointed out to the king the words Jesus had spoken earlier in the same discourse:

And if thy right eye scandalize thee, pluck it out and cast it from thee. For it is expedient for thee that one of thy members should perish, rather than that thy whole body be cast into hell. And if thy right hand scandalize thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is expedient for thee that one of thy members should perish, rather than that thy whole body be cast into hell. (Matthew 5: 29-30).

Francis then proceeded to impart a distinctive interpretation to these lines, by referring them to those who attempt to turn Christians away from their faith and love of God. The sultan was as dear to him as his own eye, he admitted to the potentate.  But, explaining Our Lord’s words that a person should pluck out his own eye if it leading him astray, Francis continued.

Here He wanted to teach us that every man, however dear and close he is to us, and even if he is a precious to us as the apple of our eye, must be repulsed, pulled out, expelled if he seeks to turn us aside from the faith and love of our God. That is why it is just that Christians invade the land you inhabit, for you blaspheme the name of Christ and alienate everyone you can from His worship. But if you were to recognize, confess, and adore the Creator and Redeemer, Christians would love you as themselves. . . .”

When Francis had finished addressing the sultan, “All the spectators were in admiration at his answers.”

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 16- "On love of money, or avarice"

1. After the tyrant just described, many learend teachers next treat of the thousand-headed demon of avarice. We, unlearned as we are, did not wish to change the order of the learned, and we have therefore followed the same convention and rule. So let us first say a little about the disease, and then speak briefly about the remedy.

October 2, 2017

(Mat 18:10) See that you despise not one of these little ones: for I say to you, that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.

Padre Pio’s Love for the Holy Angels

LETTER: St. Padre Pio on Listening to Your Guardian Angel

BLOG EXCERPT: Padre Pio on Guardian Angels

Padre Pio had the privilege of having his Guardian Angel visibly beside him all his life. He played with him when he was a child, and the Guardian Angel sang for him when he was sad.

"My Guardian Angel has been my friend since my infancy." Padre Pio said about his Guardian Angel: "Little companion of my infancy, angiolino, angioletto, my secretary, inseparable companion, celestial person, celestial messenger, brother, friend, prevents danger, one of the family, translates for me the letters in other languages, I send him to console people suffering, prevents from stumbling, never lives us alone for an instant, from the cradle to the grave, even when we are sinning." Padre Pio said about the Angels: "The Angels envy us for one thing only: they cannot suffer for God."

When Padre Pio was a young friar, he wrote a letter to his confessor in which he said: "When I close my eyes and the night comes, I can see the Heaven that appears in front of me. I am encouraged by this vision so I can sleep with a sweet smile on the lips and with a perfect calm on the forehead waiting my small companion of my infancy came to wake up me and start praying together prayers to the beloved of our hearts." Padre Pio often recommended that if people wanted to send him a message or a petition they could send him their guardian angel. Fr. Dominic, who handled the American mail for Padre Pio, asked him: "Padre . . . a woman wants to know if she sends her Guardian Angel to you, does he come?" Padre Pio replied, "Tell her that her Angel is not like she is. Her Angel is very obedient, and when she sends him, he comes!"

"It will be a great joy when at the moment of death we will be able to see our Guardian Angel. "Padre Pio once said to a person: "We will pray for your mother, so that the Guardian Angel will be with her in company."


Angel of God, my guardian dear,
To whom God's love commits me here,
Ever this day be at my side
To light and guard,
To rule and guide. Amen.

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

46. When the devil wishes to tie two people to each other by a shameful bond, he works on the inclinations of both of them, and then lights the fire of passion.
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