Keep your eyes open!...


September 30, 2013  

(Eph 6:10-13) Finally, brethren, be strengthened in the Lord and in the might of his power. Put you on the armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the deceits of the devil. For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but against principalities and powers, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places. Therefore, take unto you the armour of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day and to stand in all things perfect.

BRO. IGNATIUS MARY, OLSM: Three Secret Strategies of Satan to Destroy our Children, our Families, our Culture, and our Church

BISHOP DONALD W. MONTROSE: Spiritual Warfare: The Occult Has Demonic Influence

EDITORIAL: Vanquish dark enemy in spiritual battles

“I went against my enemies and they are no more.” This was a common testimony of victory written by kings during Old Testament times. The goal of war was total annihilation of the enemy; from their rulers, right down to the family guppy. The motive was not about power, but the removal of influence.

Reading the accounts of warfare in the Old Testament can leave one feeling the outcomes were a little over the top for our modern acceptance.

Today, we are against genocide. Instead, modern warfare endeavors to inflict enough mayhem upon the enemy until they cry “uncle” by signing an article of surrender.

But this does not mean the old approach to warfare is no longer relevant. It still has its place in spiritual conflicts where we battle against the powers and dark forces that challenge us within.

We must not enter into spiritual warfare hoping to bring our enemies to a gentleman’s agreement to no longer bother us. Spiritual enemies never honor such contracts. As long as they remain within, they will attack.

Our goal must be the complete destruction of these spiritual influences. The victory must be all-inclusive and perpetual, destroying both the enemy’s stronghold and influence on our nature.

So how are your spiritual battles going? Are you vanquishing the enemy or trying to achieve an armistice? You will never have complete victory until you can testify, by the help of God: “I went against my enemies and they are no more.”

EXCERPT CATHOLIC ONLINE: Spiritual Warfare: Time to Build The Tower and Take the Field of Battle

Our mission to the culture lies at the heart of what it means to be leaven, light, salt and the soul of the world as the early Christians taught. However, we do need to remember that the task we face is first, at root, a spiritual struggle that will first be won in prayer, stepped into a new Christian missionary movement by the compelling witness of a vibrant, orthodox, faithful Christianity that is culturally engaging, relevant and compelling to the new pagans of our age.

The contemporary re-emergence of ancient paganism is not the path to authentic human freedom and flourishing but to misery. The Christian understanding of the dignity of every human life and the truth about marriage and family is not some outdated notion of a past era but the framework for a future of true freedom. We are living in a new missionary age.

The Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Progress in Perfection

17. Sisois said, 'Be despised; put your self-will behind you back; be free of worldly concerns, and you will have peace.'

September 27, 2013  

(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.


Jihadists torch statues, crosses in Syria
Agencies stretching to meet needs of Syrians displaced by civil war
Jesuit Priest from Homs: "We're afraid of the winter"

VATICAN RADIO: Interview with Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch

In his encounter with the Holy Father, the Patriarch spoke about the difficulties facing the Christian community in Syria and the surrounding region. He also talked about the plight of his own brother who was kidnapped last April, together with the Syriac Orthodox Bishop of Aleppo. The two leaders also shared their hopes for progress on the journey towards full Christian unity.

"First of all I’d like to express my deep, heartfelt love to my dear brother in Christ….I bear in my heart all the pain of our people in Syria, in Lebanon, in the Middle East, and we consider the attitude of His Holiness towards our people, our Church in the Middle East, in Syria and Lebanon especially to push, to find solutions, to establish a peace through dialogue, not in war ..

[Pope’s day of prayer and fasting for peace] It was very important I think, and in fact all our people participated that day, all together, in praying for Syria, for the Middle East, for peace in all the world, and it was a very important message to all the world, and I think to all the governments – not the simple people, but to the states and to the governments, to find a solution through peace.

[Kidnapped brother] Unfortunately we hope and we pray, and we try on all levels – with the governments, with different people – to find a solution to this story, and we hope, but till now we don’t have unfortunately any official or sure information about our two brothers....we hope they’re still alive...

[Who’s responsible?] They haven’t given us any sure answer till now – a lot of stories, a lot of promises, but not any results unfortunately.

[Did you talk about this with the Pope?] Yes, absolutely. We discussed a lot of topics and subjects. First of all I expressed all my brotherly love to His Holiness personally, and all my love of our Churches, the Antiochian Orthodox Church – as you know always in history we’ve had a good relationship and cooperation with the Catholic Church, with Vatican City. ....And we talked about our progression towards unity, Christian unity as you know, dialogue between the Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church. We try, we want to do what we can do, all together – this is the desire of His Holiness, and our desire. And about this political situation, about the presence of Christians in the Middle East – it’s a very important issue now, because a lot of our people are leaving Syria or Lebanon for other countries, and we cannot accept the Middle East without the face of Christ.

[Will there be a solution to the conflict now there’s been an agreement on chemical weapons?] We hope, and we ask all the governments to help us and to push all the countries to help Syria to find a solution through dialogue, and especially Russia and the States, and Europe maybe – they have a very big and important role, and we hope to help in this way

[Hard-line Islamic presence after conflict?] About Islam, you know, we have very good relationships with the Muslim people, in general in all his area. We live together, we have the same history, the same future – we’re like one family, this is the truth. But now we see in our countries a new spirit of extremism from some groups, Islamic groups, and we all refuse that – and the Muslim people, they refuse this extremist Islamic spirit.

[Can religious leaders help?] Absolutely. And we all – the Imams in Syria and Lebanon for example, and the bishops, the priests – we are all together. And we try with our people – with the Christians, with the Muslims – to do what we can do to have a calm life, and peace.

[St Egidio, The Courage of Hope] We try to be with our people, and to give them some hope, to stay in their houses, in this land, in this Christian land. And I would like to thank St Egidio for their invitation, and it will be an occasion for me to say some words, maybe a message of our pain, in the Middle East, in Syria and Lebanon, especially to make this voice heard by all the world.

[Do you fear for yourself?] No. There is a danger, but for example I live now in the Patriarchate in Damascus, sometimes in Lebanon in our residence in Balamand, near Beirut, and our church is open, we have our liturgies, our services as usual. Except some areas absolutely where we have difficulties, in Aleppo, in Homs, in others.

The Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Progress in Perfection

13. Poeman said, 'If a monk hates two things, he can be free of this world.' A brother inquired, 'What are they?' He said, 'Bodily comfort and conceit.'

September 25, 2013  

(Luk 8:19-21) And his mother and brethren came unto him: and they could not come at him for the crowd. And it was told him: Thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to see thee. Who answering, said to them: My mother and my brethren are they who hear the word of God and do it.

POPE FRANCIS: Mary, today we want to say to you: Mother, look upon us! Your gaze leads us to God, your look is a good gift from the Father, who awaits us at every turn of our journey; it is a gift from Jesus Christ on the Cross, who takes upon Himself our suffering, our struggles, our sin. And in order to meet this loving Father, today we say: Mother, look upon us! Let us all say it together: Mother, look upon us! Mother, look upon us!


"Blessed is the womb that bore you and the breasts that nursed you!" Picture the scene: Jesus has just impressed a crowd and a woman, probably a mother, shouts out: "You must of had a wonderful mother!"

Jesus responds something to this effect: "Yes, I had a wonderful mother, though in ways you don't imagine. She was wonderful not because she gave me biological birth, all mothers do that. What made her a great mother is that she gave me birth in the faith."

Here, as in others places, we have to be careful to understand what Jesus is really telling us about his mother. We see places in the gospels where he seemingly does not speak highly of her when in fact the reverse is true. For example, the instance when he is approached and told: "You're mother is here, trying to see you," and he answers, "Who is my mother?" Then, pointing to the people sitting around him, he says, "Those who hear the word of God and keep it are mother and brother and sister to me."

Is Jesus distancing himself from his mother here? No. He's pointing out the real link between them, namely, among all the people in the gospels, Mary is the pre-eminent example of the one who hears the word of God and keeps it. For this reason, more than because of biological motherhood, Jesus claims her as his mother. Giving birth to Christ is something more than biological.

Moreover, it's also something we're asked to do. How?

Looking at how Mary gave birth to Christ, we see that it's not something that's done in an instant. Faith, like biology, also relies on a process that has a number of distinct, organic moments. What are these moments? What is the process by which we give birth to faith in the world?

First, like Mary, we need to get pregnant by the Holy Spirit. We need to let the word take such root in us that it begins to become part of our actual flesh.

Then, like any woman who's pregnant, we have to lovingly gestate, nurture, and protect what is growing inside us until it's sufficiently strong so that it can live on its own, outside us. This process, gestation, as we know, is often accompanied by nausea, morning sickness, and a stretching of the flesh that permanently scars the body.

Eventually, of course, we must give birth. What we have nurtured and grown inside of us must, when it is ready, be given birth outside. This will always be excruciatingly painful. There is no painless way to give birth.

Birth, however, is only the beginnings of motherhood. Mary gave birth to a baby, but she had to spend years nurturing, coaxing, and cajoling that infant into adulthood. The infant in the crib at Bethlehem is not yet the Christ who preaches, heals, and dies for us. Every mother needs to give birth twice, once biologically and once in faith, once to an infant and once to an adult.

Finally, motherhood has still one more phase. As her child grows, matures, and takes on a personality and destiny of its own. the mother, at a point, must ponder (as Mary did). She must let herself be painfully stretched in understanding, in not knowing, in carrying tension, in letting go. She must set free to be itself something that was once so fiercely hers. The pains of childbirth are often gentle compared to this second wrenching.

All of this is what Mary went through to give Christ to the world: Pregnancy by the Holy Spirit; gestation of that into a child inside of her; excruciating pain in birthing that to the outside; nurturing that new life into adulthood; and pondering, painfully letting go so that this new life can be its own, not hers. When the woman in the crowd told Jesus, "You must of had a wonderful mother!", his answer had precisely this in mind. Mary was a wonderful mother, but in ways that went far beyond the simple fact of motherhood. She heard the word of God and kept it. That obedience, more than biological motherhood, gave both an infant Jesus and an adult Christ to the world.

And in this, Mary wants imitation, not admiration: Our task too is to give birth to Christ. Mary is the paradigm for doing that. From her we get the pattern: Let the word of God take root and make you pregnant; gestate that by giving it the nourishing sustenance of your own life; submit to the pain that is demanded for it to be born to the outside; then spend years coaxing it from infancy to adulthood; and finally, during and after all of this, do some pondering, accept the pain of not understanding and of letting go.

Christmas isn't automatic, it can't be taken for granted. It began with Mary, but each of us is asked to make our own contribution to giving flesh to faith in the world.

The Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Progress in Perfection

13. A brother asked him, 'How ought we to live?' Poemen replied, 'We have seen the example of Daniel. They accused him of nothing except that he served his God.'

September 24, 2013  

(Joh 15:18-20) If the world hate you, know ye that it hath hated me before you. If you had been of the world, the world would love its own: but because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember my word that I said to you: The servant is not greater than his master. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they have kept my word, they will keep yours also.


Quebec’s “Quiet Revolution” destroyed all that in just a few decades. Starting in the mid-20th century and speeding up quickly after Vatican II, Quebeckers left the Church in droves. Today barely 5 percent of Quebeckers attend Mass regularly. The Church is often seen as an object of scorn. How did it happen? There’s no single reason. Church leaders brought some of the trouble on themselves through overconfidence, inertia and an inability to see the changing terrain of their people. Consumerism colonized the lay faithful. And the culture became dominated by new and highly secularized leaders in politics, education and mass media.

Quebec’s ruling party – the Parti Quebecois (PQ) – is now pressing for a “Charter of Quebec Values.” The charter seeks to solidify Quebec as a secularist state and, among other things, ban government employees from wearing religious dress and symbols in the name of social unity. Quebec’s bishops have voiced concern about the charter’s impact on religious freedom – not just for minorities like Muslims and Sikhs, but for Catholics as well. More broadly, critics have attacked the PQ for using liberal democracy and religious neutrality as alibis for hostility to any vigorous religious role in the public square. In the words of one Canadian political observer, “Quebec, for the purposes of its own ruling elites, has renounced its past.”

Of course, America has a very different history from Canada and especially from Quebec. Even in Quebec, support for the proposed charter has declined in recent weeks as criticism has grown. Religious freedom is embedded deeply in the U.S. Constitution. So why should any of this matter to American Catholics?

It matters because the impulse to muzzle religious faith as a public force, to confine religious witness to churches and private homes, to bully faith-related ministries into shedding their religious principles in order to do their public work, is now just as real in the United States as it is in Europe and Quebec. It merely takes different forms.

The lessons we can learn from events like those in Quebec are two.

Here’s the first lesson: Our faith needs to be more than a nostalgic habit; more than a sentimental exercise in good will; and the Church needs to be more than a religious institution. Christianity, as C.S. Lewis once famously wrote, is a “fighting religion” – not in the sense of belligerence or ill will, but as a struggle against our own sins and complacency; a struggle to give ourselves wholly to Jesus Christ, and then bring Jesus Christ to the world.

As individuals and as a Church, if we don’t have a restlessness for God, a passion for Jesus Christ and the poor and needy he loves, then we should stop telling ourselves that we’re Christians. A religion of words and habit, a religion without daily inner repentance and commitment, hollows out from the inside. And it can evaporate overnight.

Here’s the second lesson. If we don’t live our Catholic faith and defend our religious liberty vigorously, then sooner or later we’ll lose both. For more than a year, America’s bishops have repeatedly stressed the coercive – even vindictive – nature of the current administration’s HHS contraceptive mandate. No one “needs” this mandate as a matter of health. It’s purely an imposition of ideology on the freedom of religious communities and individuals to live their convictions in their public work. If Catholics fail to resist this coercion, then more coercion will follow. It’s that simple.


VIDEO: Catholic bishop warns against rise of anti-Christian bigotry in U.S.

ACTION ALERT: Petition to Withdraw HHS Mandate

The Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Progress in Perfection

12. Poemen said, "To be on guard, to meditate within, to judge with discernment: these are the three works of the soul."

September 23, 2013  

(1Co 9:19-23) For whereas I was free as to all, I made myself the servant of all, that I might gain the more. And I became to the Jews a Jew, that I might gain the Jews: To them that are under the law, as if I were under the law, (whereas myself was not under the law,) that I might gain them that were under the law. To them that were without the law, as if I were without the law, (whereas I was not without the law of God, but was in the law of Christ,) that I might gain them that were without the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might gain the weak. I became all things to all men, that I might save all. And I do all things for the gospel's sake, that I may be made partaker thereof.

CARDINAL PELL: “The Holy Father is calling our attention to the way truth is something lived in a relationship, first and foremost in a relationship with God. Faith is foundational. With this great truth to rely on, God calls us to live a better life, helps us in our struggles, and through his forgiveness enables us to start again when we fail.”

MARK MALLET BLOG: Understanding Francis

CATHOLIC CULTURE: The key to understanding Pope Francis: the 99 lost sheep

EXCERPT COURAGEOUS PRIEST: Cardinal Burke On The Liturgy And Pope Francis

Q. It has been about four months since Pope Francis became the 266th Roman Pontiff. From the vantage point of your office in Rome, have you observed any tangible changes in tone or day- today operation in the Vatican? What is the role of the group of eight Cardinals formed by Pope Francis?

A. Certainly Pope Francis, as is the case with every Pope, has his distinctive style which is not the same as Pope Benedict’s. Everyone is adjusting to that. It is a style that has very much appealed to the faithful in terms of the number of pilgrims coming to Rome and their positive and overwhelming response to the new Holy Father. He has a way of communicating with people that is direct and which demonstrates his fatherly concern for them as individuals. When people see the fatherly and spiritual care that he gives to others, they understand that he also has the same care for them.

With regard to changes, the Holy Father has indicated that he wants to study a reform of the Roman curia and that would necessarily mean also a reform in his way of relating to the particular churches throughout the world. He is studying all of that at the present moment. Those of us who hold offices in the Roman curia have been confirmed provisionally until he has finished this study. As Pope Francis has himself said, he was not part of the Roman curia and is just now coming to know the operation of the curia, and that takes time. He has only been in office for four months, so we are waiting to see.

The group of eight Cardinals Pope Francis named [ to advise him on the reform of the Roman curia] is the result of a suggestion made during the general congregation before the conclave and is actually a suggestion that was discussed some years ago. The norms for the functioning of the body have not yet been published and so I cannot say exactly what will be the scope of the considerations presented to the group or precisely how it will operate. I imagine that that type of document will be forthcoming and then we will know more about it. What seems clear is that the Holy Father wants to have a group of close and highly qualified advisors to consult with in carrying out his responsibilities.

THE MOYNIHAN LETTERS: Letter #89: Afterthoughts

“I am a sinner. This is the most accurate definition. It is not a figure of speech, a literary genre. I am a sinner… The best summary, the one that comes more from the inside and I feel most true is this: I am a sinner whom the Lord has looked upon.” —Pope Francis, interview with Father Antonio Spadaro, S.J., editor in chief of La Civiltŕ Cattolica, the Italian Jesuit journal, released on September 19, and immediately provoking considerable public controversy, in answer to the question “Who is Jorge Mario Bergoglio [now Pope Francis]?”

The Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Progress in Perfection

7. They used to say about Theodore of Pherme that he kept these three rules before all others: poverty, abstinence, and avoiding the company of other people.

September 20, 2013  

(Luk 15:4-7) What man of you that hath an hundred sheep, and if he shall lose one of them, doth he not leave the ninety-nine in the desert and go after that which was lost, until he find it? And when he hath found it, lay it upon his shoulders, rejoicing? And coming home, call together his friends and neighbours, saying to them: Rejoice with me, because I have found my sheep that was lost? I say to you that even so there shall be joy in heaven upon one sinner that doth penance, more than upon ninety-nine just who need not penance.

d- The exclusive interview with Pope Francis

The Church as Field Hospital

Pope Benedict XVI, in announcing his resignation, said that the contemporary world is subject to rapid change and is grappling with issues of great importance for the life of faith. Dealing with these issues requires strength of body and soul, Pope Benedict said. I ask Pope Francis: “What does the church need most at this historic moment? Do we need reforms? What are your wishes for the church in the coming years? What kind of church do you dream of?”

Pope Francis begins by showing great affection and immense respect for his predecessor: “Pope Benedict has done an act of holiness, greatness, humility. He is a man of God.

“I see clearly,” the pope continues, “that the thing the church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful; it needs nearness, proximity. I see the church as a field hospital after battle. It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about the level of his blood sugars! You have to heal his wounds. Then we can talk about everything else. Heal the wounds, heal the wounds.... And you have to start from the ground up.

“The church sometimes has locked itself up in small things, in small-minded rules. The most important thing is the first proclamation: Jesus Christ has saved you. And the ministers of the church must be ministers of mercy above all. The confessor, for example, is always in danger of being either too much of a rigorist or too lax. Neither is merciful, because neither of them really takes responsibility for the person. The rigorist washes his hands so that he leaves it to the commandment. The loose minister washes his hands by simply saying, ‘This is not a sin’ or something like that. In pastoral ministry we must accompany people, and we must heal their wounds.

“How are we treating the people of God? I dream of a church that is a mother and shepherdess. The church’s ministers must be merciful, take responsibility for the people and accompany them like the good Samaritan, who washes, cleans and raises up his neighbor. This is pure Gospel. God is greater than sin. The structural and organizational reforms are secondary—that is, they come afterward. The first reform must be the attitude. The ministers of the Gospel must be people who can warm the hearts of the people, who walk through the dark night with them, who know how to dialogue and to descend themselves into their people’s night, into the darkness, but without getting lost. The people of God want pastors, not clergy acting like bureaucrats or government officials. The bishops, particularly, must be able to support the movements of God among their people with patience, so that no one is left behind. But they must also be able to accompany the flock that has a flair for finding new paths.

“Instead of being just a church that welcomes and receives by keeping the doors open, let us try also to be a church that finds new roads, that is able to step outside itself and go to those who do not attend Mass, to those who have quit or are indifferent. The ones who quit sometimes do it for reasons that, if properly understood and assessed, can lead to a return. But that takes audacity and courage.”

I mention to Pope Francis that there are Christians who live in situations that are irregular for the church or in complex situations that represent open wounds. I mention the divorced and remarried, same-sex couples and other difficult situations. What kind of pastoral work can we do in these cases? What kinds of tools can we use?

“We need to proclaim the Gospel on every street corner,” the pope says, “preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing, even with our preaching, every kind of disease and wound. In Buenos Aires I used to receive letters from homosexual persons who are ‘socially wounded’ because they tell me that they feel like the church has always condemned them. But the church does not want to do this. During the return flight from Rio de Janeiro I said that if a homosexual person is of good will and is in search of God, I am no one to judge. By saying this, I said what the catechism says. Religion has the right to express its opinion in the service of the people, but God in creation has set us free: it is not possible to interfere spiritually in the life of a person.

“A person once asked me, in a provocative manner, if I approved of homosexuality. I replied with another question: ‘Tell me: when God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person?’ We must always consider the person. Here we enter into the mystery of the human being. In life, God accompanies persons, and we must accompany them, starting from their situation. It is necessary to accompany them with mercy. When that happens, the Holy Spirit inspires the priest to say the right thing.

“This is also the great benefit of confession as a sacrament: evaluating case by case and discerning what is the best thing to do for a person who seeks God and grace. The confessional is not a torture chamber, but the place in which the Lord’s mercy motivates us to do better. I also consider the situation of a woman with a failed marriage in her past and who also had an abortion. Then this woman remarries, and she is now happy and has five children. That abortion in her past weighs heavily on her conscience and she sincerely regrets it. She would like to move forward in her Christian life. What is the confessor to do?

“We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible. I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that. But when we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in a context. The teaching of the church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time.

The dogmatic and moral teachings of the church are not all equivalent. The church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently. “The dogmatic and moral teachings of the church are not all equivalent. The church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently. Proclamation in a missionary style focuses on the essentials, on the necessary things: this is also what fascinates and attracts more, what makes the heart burn, as it did for the disciples at Emmaus. We have to find a new balance; otherwise even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel. The proposal of the Gospel must be more simple, profound, radiant. It is from this proposition that the moral consequences then flow.

“I say this also thinking about the preaching and content of our preaching. A beautiful homily, a genuine sermon must begin with the first proclamation, with the proclamation of salvation. There is nothing more solid, deep and sure than this proclamation. Then you have to do catechesis. Then you can draw even a moral consequence. But the proclamation of the saving love of God comes before moral and religious imperatives. Today sometimes it seems that the opposite order is prevailing. The homily is the touchstone to measure the pastor’s proximity and ability to meet his people, because those who preach must recognize the heart of their community and must be able to see where the desire for God is lively and ardent. The message of the Gospel, therefore, is not to be reduced to some aspects that, although relevant, on their own do not show the heart of the message of Jesus Christ.”



The Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Progress in Perfection

5. He also said, "A monk was told that his father had died.  He said to the messenger, 'Do not blaspheme.  My Father cannot die'."

September 19, 2013  

(1Ti 3:1-7) A faithful saying: If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth good work. It behoveth therefore a bishop to be blameless, the husband of one wife, sober, prudent, of good behaviour, chaste, given to hospitality, a teacher, Not given to wine, no striker, but modest, not quarrelsome, not covetous, but One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all chastity. But if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God? Not a neophyte: lest, being puffed up with pride, he fall into the judgment of the devil. Moreover, he must have a good testimony of them who are without: lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.

VATICAN INSIDER: The Engine of Curia Reform is Warming Up

The programme for the meeting of eight cardinals in charge of advising the Pope on the “government of the universal Church” and studying " a project of revision of the Apostolic Constitution Pastor bonus on the Roman Curia” has been set. But before the three-day work session with Francis (1-3 October) begins, next week cardinals will hold a number of informal meetings to set straight as many details as possible and make the meetings in which the Pope will actually be present, more fruitful. 

Readers will recall that last 13 April, exactly a month after his election to the papacy, Bergoglio appointed a group of eight cardinals from across all continents: Giuseppe Bertello (the group's only Italian Curia member), Francisco Javier Errázuriz Ossa (the group’s only emeritus member), Oswald Gracias, Reinhard Marx, Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, Sean Patrick O’Malley, George Pell and Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga. Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga is also the group coordinator, while Marcello Semeraro, Bishop of Albano (Italy), will function as secretary. 

Over the past few months, cardinals have been in touch with one another, bouncing ideas and suggestions off each other and above all, collecting material and requests from their respective Episcopates. But the Pope’s closest collaborators, the members of the Roman Curia were not excluded from this process either. All heads of dicasteries presented reform proposals or at least proposals to improve coordination between Curia offices and their activities. At last Tuesday’s inter-dicasterial meeting, convened by Francis, everyone present gave a summary of the proposals given. So the Curia itself is playing a key part in the global rethinking of its activities.
There are two main issues the group of eight cardinals is set to discuss with the Pope. The first is to do with some questions relating to Church life: collegiality, the relationship between the central Church in Rome and local Churches and between the Curia and Episcopal Conferences and the potential reform of the Synod of Bishops. Episcopates from across all continents have gathered heaps of material, requests and suggestions regarding this issue. 

The second big issue is the reform of the Roman Curia, which does not include the reform of the Vatican bank (IOR). The IOR issue is something the group of eight cardinals will not be dealing with directly as there is another commission in charge of this, headed by Cardinal Raffaele Farina. The ideas being discussed include streamlining the Curia which has often been seen as a central government body of the Church instead of a body there to assist the Bishop of Rome in his universal ministry. The streamlining process could involve the merging of some pontifical councils (some of these could, for example, could be merged into a new Congregation for the Laity). The Secretariat of State’s structure is another issue.

COMMENTARY: This Pope is a Papal Person

CATHOLIC CULTURE: Vatican journalist: Pope Francis planning 'collegial' reform on his own

MORE: Pope calls for 'another way' for Catholic divorcees

The Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Progress in Perfection

4. Evagrius said, "Some of our predecessors used to say that a dry and regular diet combined with love will soon bring a monk to the harbour where the storms of passion do not enter."

September 17, 2013  

(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.

ACN NEWS: Keep the Faith in Syria

EXCERPT CHIESA: Francis and the Miracle of the Icon


The display of the authentic icon of “Salus Populi Romani" at the conclusion of the fast called for by Pope Francis to obtain from the Lord, through the intercession of the Virgin Mary Mother of God, peace in Syria, in the Middle East, and over the whole face of the earth, has sounded out very many of the faithful.

What could be the meaning of the display of this icon, placed beside the altar and beside the Most Holy Sacrament, with a Pope Francis almost constantly in genuflection?

One can respond only by recalling that an icon can never be reduced to a painting, whatever may have been the artistic genius that produced it, because unlike a simple painting, which invites the gaze of the viewer to verify its harmony and beauty, the icon makes present, in its way, the very person who is represented.

Not only that. But since the icon is charged with the energy of faith that has been imparted to it by all those who in front of it, and thanks to it, have turned their hearts to the Lord, it distributes to all those who approach it with faith that which it has received.

In particular the icon, this icon - recognized by the Church as the occasion of particular “mirabilia Dei" that we generally call "miracles" - reflects, reproduces, and pours into the hearts of those who turn to it with simplicity and total openness to the will of God those same graces with which the Virgin Mother of God was fully graced, according to the measure of faith of each one.

The authentic icon of “Salus Populi Romani" - and therefore not just any reproduction, like those we often carry in our wallets - is charged with all of this. In fact, it bears within itself the heritage of faith of the Christian generations that, urged on by the archetype to which the same icon refers, meaning the Virgin Mother of God, have asked for and obtained through faith: peace, safety, and health as a down payment on the salvation promised to all by Jesus her Son, the Savior.

This is the reason for the particular importance on Saturday, September 7 of the presence and display of the icon of “ Salus Populi," which thus became no longer the down payment of salvation only for the Romans, but for the whole world, at the conclusion of the fast called for and obtained by Pope Francis with the participation of millions of Catholics, Christians, believers and men of good will, lovers of harmony in the world and of peace.

Only the basilica of Monreale, with its marvelous mosaics, could have withstood comparison with the paradisiacal vision of St. Peter's Square at this vigil experienced by peoples of the whole world around the altar and the Word of God, with the Most Holy Sacrament, in the company of the icon, in the presence of the pope.

EXCERPT ZENIT: Redemptorist Father Fadi Sotgiu Rahi: "All of us are children of life because we have received life through the cross; we are children of God because we are free; we are friends of Jesus also in suffering. However, our faith notwithstanding, we are brothers in humanity and because of this we try to live in peace to be able to be ambassadors of peace and to say ENOUGH of WAR in Syria, in the Middle East and in the world".

The Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Progress in Perfection

3. Gregory said, 'God asks three things of anyone who is baptized: to keep the true faith with all his soul and all his might; to control his tongue; to be chaste in his body.'

September 12, 2013  

(Joh 3:14-15) And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him may not perish, but may have life everlasting.

HEADLINE: Jihadists 'killed, threatened Christians' in Syrian town of Maalula

The most tragic story was that of Rasha, who recounted how the jihadists had seized her fiance Atef, who belonged to the town's militia, and brutally murdered him.

"I rang his mobile phone and one of them answered,'' she said.

"Good morning, Rash rush,'' the voice said, using her nickname. "We are from the Free Syrian Army. Do you know your fiance was a member of the shabiha (pro-regime militia) who was carrying weapons, and we have slit his throat.''

The man told her Atef had been given the option of converting to Islam, but had refused.

"Jesus didn't come to save him,'' he taunted.

COMMENTARY: The Sign of the Cross

MEDITATION: Oh Holy Cross! by Catherine Doherty

September, the month of many feast days. Our Lady’s birthday. The Exaltation of the Cross. The Seven Sorrows of Mary. And others.

Yet mind and heart seem to be attracted to the CROSS. Perhaps because nature all around about bedecks itself at this time of year, in a blaze of glory and colors, perhaps to make a fitting background of all shades of gold and yellows—for the great feast of the Exaltation of the Cross—the Sign of our Salvation.

Who these days "exalts" the Cross in their souls, hearts, minds, and lives? Mankind in a frenzy of strange fears, spends its time and money to escape the Cross and all it stands for. Far from "exalting it" men want to abolish it, forget it, erase it from their lives.

Catholic mediocrity, that rests content with the minimum, or with individual sentimental piety in which the word "I" is so predominant, is mediocre and individual because souls—walking slowly the ways of spiritual life and growth—inevitably approach Golgotha and the Cross, and once both are seen clearly, fears enter in.

The stark nakedness of the Holy Wood, is a fearsome sight, and the fears it begets turn many from a full joyous Christian life, throwing them back into that spiritual mediocrity in which one can hide the Cross from oneself, for a while at least.

Yet the Lord does not permit this hiding to be of long duration—for never was there a century in which the Cross blazed so clearly or so high above the earth.

Strange this paradox, this eternal sign of contradiction! The salvation of the human race today and tomorrow, as yesterday, depends on accepting the exaltation of the Cross of Christ.

Modern rejection brings it, with its full weight, into the midst of the people. Acceptance would make it yield its sweet secret of lightness, love, and holy joy.

Strange and perverse generation! Madly we seek to escape its holy weight. By doing so we lie prostrate under all its pain.

For behold our fears, the ever-increasing darkness around about us, the ever-narrowing confines of the so called "free world", the ever-closer stench of the breath of the Beast. We try to throw off the weight of the Holy Wood, given to us for our salvation.

Oh Holy Wood! Whisper to us the secret hidden in you. Tell us of the Love that died in your embrace.

Tell us of the freedom and peace that you hold out to those who love you.

Show us how to exalt you within our fearful hearts, how to shape our loves on your Cruciformity!

You are the weapon that will save us from the Beast, who, like a roaring lion, seeks whom he may devour.

Oh Holy Cross! Speak to us of Him who loved us so much as to die on your reluctant breast. Speak so that we may learn to love in return -— and, ceasing to be mediocre, become holocausts of love, lifted up on you!

September, the month of many feasts, of nature singing her song of love in all the notes of a symphony of yellow and gold. A bride bedecked for her Beloved!

Let us, bedecking our souls in courage and love, exalt the Cross of Christ in our daily life. Then, and only then, will we know its sweet secret, its feathery weight, its everlasting joys.

—adapted from "Where Love Is, God Is," Restoration, September 1954

The Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Progress in Perfection

2. Pambo said to Antony, 'What shall I do?' Antony said, 'Do not trust in your own righteousness. Do not go on sorrowing over a deed that is past. Keep your tongue and your belly under control.'

September 12, 2013  

(Luk 1:26-30) And in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God into a city of Galilee, called Nazareth, To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David: and the virgin's name was Mary. And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. Who having heard, was troubled at his saying and thought with herself what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said to her: Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found grace with God.


EXCERPT HOMILY FATHER ALTIER (09/12/05): The name speaks of the person and who the person is. At the same time, there is power in this holy name. The names of Jesus and Mary are the two names the demons cannot tolerate, and they are the two names with more power than anything else in this world. If we will call upon the name of Our Lady and ask her intercession for us with her Son then we can be guaranteed that our Mother is going to be praying for us.
What a blessing is the fact that not only do we have Our Lord mediating for us with His heavenly Father, but that we have Our Blessed Lady interceding for us with her Son. What that means is that we are not going before the Lord ourselves. Recognizing ourselves to be unworthy, we will ask someone else to present our prayer before the Lord. That person is Our Lady. The wonderful thing is she is also our Mother. Her heart is open to us, but she is the mother of the King, and so her heart, of course, is open to Him. What a perfect person to be the one to bring all of our petitions to the Lord. It means that our prayers, as imperfect as they are, do not go directly to the Lord but rather they go to Our Lady, who then purifies our prayers, adds her own perfect prayer to ours, and then presents that to her Son. And so what is presented to Our Lord is a prayer which is perfect, a prayer which is far greater than anything we would ever be able to do. Even if we started praying right now and prayed until the day we die, it is still going to be less than one prayer from Our Blessed Lady. When she adds her prayer to ours, it augments it and perfects it. It is this mediation, this intercession that Our Lady does for us just as we do for one another when we pray for one another, except far more efficacious, far more perfect than what any of us or even all of us combined would be able to do for one another.
As we see these truths laid out before us about the reality that there is only one Mediator, there is only One Who is fully God and fully man but we also have ourselves (who share in the divine nature and therefore can mediate) and we have Our Lady who is the Mother of God and who is the Mother of each and every one of us. She also has that little position where she too can intercede and mediate for us. So as we celebrate this wonderful feast for the first time in nearly 40 years, what a glorious thing to consider what it means and the power of her holy name to bring us victory, and to pray to her and ask her intercession – especially in this time when all hell has been released upon the earth so that the demons are causing more havoc than ever before. Now we have this feast established once again where the power of Our Blessed Lady’s name will help us to crush the vile head of Satan in all the temptations that he levels against us as she intercedes for us before the throne of her Divine Son to obtain for us the grace that we need to fight against sin and ultimately to be saved from Satan’s temptation so we can live with God forever.

EXCERPT: Pondering the Meaning of "Mary"

In Hebrew, the name Mary is Miryam. In Our Lady's time, Aramaic was the spoken language, and the form of the name then in use was Mariam. Derived from the root, merur, the name signifies "bitterness."

Miryam was the name of the sister of Moses; and the ancient rabbinical scholars perceiving in it a symbol of the slavery of the Israelites at the hands of the Egyptians, held that Miryam was given this name because she was born during the time of the oppression of her people. The Old Testament, chronicling as it does the "Time of Expectation" of the Redeemer, is filled with "types," or foreshadowings of people and events which would be made manifest during the "Time of Redemption," when. Christ walked the earth. Jesus Mary and Joseph, the Sacrament of Baptism, the Eucharist, the Sacrifice of Calvary, etc., are all foreshadowed in the Old Testament, but we view them there "through a glass darkly," so to speak, under the guidance of the Catholic Church, which alone possesses the authority to interpret the sacred texts.

Miryam, the sister of Moses is a "type" of the Blessed Virgin. Miryam was a prophetess who sang a canticle of thanksgiving after the safe crossing of the Red Sea and the destruction of Pharaoh's army; Mary prophesied in Her Magnificat that all generations would honor Her, and She sang of how God would topple the proud and raise the lowly. Miryam supported her brother, Moses, the liberator of his people; as the Co-Redemptrix who united Her sufferings to those of the One Mediator on Calvary, Mary labored alongside the Redeemer, the true Liberator of His people. Just as Jesus was the "antitype" [i.e., fulfillment] of Moses, so was Our Lady the "antitype" of Miryam, the fullest realization of the courageous woman standing beside, and laboring with, the one who comes to free captives.

Throughout the centuries, Saints and scholars have put forth different interpretations for the name "Mary." A mixture of etymology and devotion has combined to produce an interesting array of meanings:

"Mary means enlightener, because She brought forth the Light of the world. In the Syriac tongue, Mary signifies Lady." [St. Isidore of Seville +636]

"Let me say something concerning this name also, which is interpreted to mean Star of the sea, and admirably suits the Virgin Mother." [St. Bernard +1153]

"Mary means Star of the sea, for as mariners are guided to port by the ocean star, so Christians attain to glory through Mary's maternal intercession." [St. Thomas Aquinas +1274]

"This most holy, sweet and worthy name was 'eminently fitted to so holy, sweet and worthy a virgin. For Mary means a bitter sea, star of the sea, the illuminated or illuminatrix. Mary is interpreted Lady. Mary is a bitter sea to the demons; to men She is the Star of the sea; to the Angels She is illuminatrix, and to all creatures She is Lady ." [St. Bonaventure +1274]

MORE: Zeal for the Most Holy Name of Mary

The Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Progress in Perfection

1. Somebody asked Antony, 'What shall I do in order to please God?' He replied, 'Do what I tell you, which is this: wherever you go, keep God in mind; whatever you do, follow the example of holy Scripture; wherever you are, stay there and do not move away in a hurry. If you keep to these guide-lines, you will be saved.'

September 11, 2013  

(John 15:20-21) Remember my word that I said to you: The servant is not greater than his master. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they have kept my word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for my name's sake: because they know not him that sent me.

COMMENTARY: The Perils of a Prophetic Pope by Fr Dwight Longenecker

Pope Francis' spontaneous, personal style is attractive, but it also makes his words easier to twist by unscrupulous reporters. But Pope Francis should keep modeling Christian behavior, which is harder for the enemies of the Church to exploit.

POPE FRANCIS:  “The word of the Gospel does not authorize the use of force to spread the faith. It is 'just the opposite: the true strength of the Christian is the power of truth and love, which leads to the renunciation of all violence." Faith and violence are incompatible".

IN THE NEWS: Christian city in lockdown, as Philippine forces pursue Muslim rebels

Security forces in Zamboanga City, a large predominantly Christian port city in the Philippines, kept the community in lockdown mode on Tuesday while they pursued a Muslim rebel group accused of launching an air-and-sea strike against the region the previous day.

Clashes continued Tuesday, and another two city residents were reportedly injured, USA Today reported.

Four residents were killed and 14 injured in Monday clashes with the Muslim rebel group, Moro National Liberation Front. On Tuesday, a couple of more were injured by gunfire.

The Muslim group is still believed to be holding 170 hostages from the city, a largely Christian community that’s nestled among a sea of Muslim villages.

MORE: Philippine rebels hold scores of hostages as human shields in standoff with troops

Carmelite OCDC: Muslim Rebels are attacking the City of Zamboanga and have taken 200 hostages. The city is one of the largest in the southern philippines. There is a Carmellite monastery there that was founded in 1956. And I went there several times in the 80s. About 16 nuns remain there. During the last Muslim rebellion in the 70s they decided as a community to remain with the people even if it meant they would be killed. Since then they have established good relations with the Moslem community of the city.

I havent been able to contact them yet. Please remember them in your prayers. The monastery is right across the street from the ocean- and that seems to be the area that the rebels have come to.

I am in hopes that the rebels will respect the sisters and their commitment to dialogue in love with the moslem community of Zamoboanga.

VIA Rose Mary: re: VIDEO: The Miracle of Damascus and Myrna Nazzour

Is it possible to have her come here? A letter from the local Catholic Bishop and the local Orthodox Bishop is all that is needed. There is an office at the Vatican that arranges her visits and schedule. Now that Syria is the focus of the world, may we spread this message of unity and peace everywhere. I did have the honor of visiting with Myrna in Detroit, Michigan and in Miami. Her family members introduced me to her.

If anyone is interested in having her visit their Diocese, please let me know and I will forward the request to those who work with the office that plans her visits. She has the approval of The Vatican.

Thoughts and Sayings of Saint Margaret Mary: Various Subjects

30. I have no pleasure in this miserable life except in what concerns the interests of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Who often fastens me, stripped of all, to the Cross.

September 8, 2013  

(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.

ON MARY'S BIRTHDAY: Mother Mary: From Nazareth to Akita

VIDEO: The Miracle of Damascus and Myrna Nazzour

POPE FRANCIS: Homily at Peace Vigil

“And God saw that it was good” (Gen 1:12, 18, 21, 25). The biblical account of the beginning of the history of the world and of humanity speaks to us of a God who looks at creation, in a sense contemplating it, and declares: “It is good”. This allows us to enter into God’s heart and, precisely from within him, to receive his message.
We can ask ourselves: what does this message mean? What does it say to me, to you, to all of us?

1.    It says to us simply that this, our world, in the heart and mind of God, is the “house of harmony and peace”, and that it is the space in which everyone is able to find their proper place and feel “at home”, because it is “good”. All of creation forms a harmonious and good unity, but above all humanity, made in the image and likeness of God, is one family, in which relationships are marked by a true fraternity not only in words: the other person is a brother or sister to love, and our relationship with God, who is love, fidelity and goodness, mirrors every human relationship and brings harmony to the whole of creation. God’s world is a world where everyone feels responsible for the other, for the good of the other. This evening, in reflection, fasting and prayer, each of us deep down should ask ourselves: Is this really the world that I desire? Is this really the world that we all carry in our hearts? Is the world that we want really a world of harmony and peace, in ourselves, in our relations with others, in families, in cities, in and between nations? And does not true freedom mean choosing ways in this world that lead to the good of all and are guided by love?

2.    But then we wonder: Is this the world in which we are living? Creation retains its beauty which fills us with awe and it remains a good work. But there is also “violence, division, disagreement, war”. This occurs when man, the summit of creation, stops contemplating beauty and goodness, and withdraws into his own selfishness.
When man thinks only of himself, of his own interests and places himself in the centre, when he permits himself to be captivated by the idols of dominion and power, when he puts himself in God’s place, then all relationships are broken and everything is ruined; then the door opens to violence, indifference, and conflict. This is precisely what the passage in the Book of Genesis seeks to teach us in the story of the Fall: man enters into conflict with himself, he realizes that he is naked and he hides himself because he is afraid (cf. Gen 3: 10), he is afraid of God’s glance; he accuses the woman, she who is flesh of his flesh (cf. v. 12); he breaks harmony with creation, he begins to raise his hand against his brother to kill him. Can we say that from harmony he passes to “disharmony”? No, there is no such thing as “disharmony”; there is either harmony or we fall into chaos, where there is violence, argument, conflict, fear ....

It is exactly in this chaos that God asks man’s conscience: “Where is Abel your brother?” and Cain responds: “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?” (Gen 4:9). We too are asked this question, it would be good for us to ask ourselves as well: Am I really my brother’s keeper? Yes, you are your brother’s keeper! To be human means to care for one another! But when harmony is broken, a metamorphosis occurs: the brother who is to be cared for and loved becomes an adversary to fight, to kill. What violence occurs at that moment, how many conflicts, how many wars have marked our history! We need only look at the suffering of so many brothers and sisters. This is not a question of coincidence, but the truth: we bring about the rebirth of Cain in every act of violence and in every war. All of us! And even today we continue this history of conflict between brothers, even today we raise our hands against our brother. Even today, we let ourselves be guided by idols, by selfishness, by our own interests, and this attitude persists. We have perfected our weapons, our conscience has fallen asleep, and we have sharpened our ideas to justify ourselves. As if it were normal, we continue to sow destruction, pain, death! Violence and war lead only to death, they speak of death! Violence and war are the language of death!

3.    At this point I ask myself: Is it possible to change direction? Can we get out of this spiral of sorrow and death? Can we learn once again to walk and live in the ways of peace? Invoking the help of God, under the maternal gaze of the Salus Populi Romani, Queen of Peace, I say: Yes, it is possible for everyone! From every corner of the world tonight, I would like to hear us cry out: Yes, it is possible for everyone! Or even better, I would like for each one of us, from the least to the greatest, including those called to govern nations, to respond: Yes, we want it! My Christian faith urges me to look to the Cross. How I wish that all men and women of good will would look to the Cross if only for a moment! There, we can see God’s reply: violence is not answered with violence, death is not answered with the language of death. In the silence of the Cross, the uproar of weapons ceases and the language of reconciliation, forgiveness, dialogue, and peace is spoken. This evening, I ask the Lord that we Christians, and our brothers and sisters of other religions, and every man and woman of good will, cry out forcefully: violence and war are never the way to peace! Let everyone be moved to look into the depths of his or her conscience and listen to that word which says: Leave behind the self-interest that hardens your heart, overcome the indifference that makes your heart insensitive towards others, conquer your deadly reasoning, and open yourself to dialogue and reconciliation. Look upon your brother’s sorrow and do not add to it, stay your hand, rebuild the harmony that has been shattered; and all this achieved not by conflict but by encounter! May the noise of weapons cease! War always marks the failure of peace, it is always a defeat for humanity. Let the words of Pope Paul VI resound again: “No more one against the other, no more, never! ... war never again, never again war!” (Address to the United Nations, 1965). “Peace expresses itself only in peace, a peace which is not separate from the demands of justice but which is fostered by personal sacrifice, clemency, mercy and love” (World Day of Peace Message, 1975). Forgiveness, dialogue, reconciliation – these are the words of peace, in beloved Syria, in the Middle East, in all the world! Let us pray for reconciliation and peace, let us work for reconciliation and peace, and let us all become, in every place, men and women of reconciliation and peace! Amen.

Thoughts and Sayings of Saint Margaret Mary: Various Subjects

29. I am attacked on all sides, yet I will not fear, for I keep myself strongly entrenched in my secure fortress-- the Sacred Heart of my divine Master. Like a wise leader He deals out to me just strength sufficient for each occasion.

September 6, 2013  

(Mat 5:9) Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

VATICAN RADIO EXCERPT: Pope Francis writes letter to President Putin of Russia ahead of G20 summit

"The world economy will only develop if it allows a dignified way of life for all human beings, from the eldest to the unborn child, not just for citizens of the G20 member states but for every inhabitant of the earth, even those in extreme social situations or in the remotest places.

From this standpoint, it is clear that, for the world’s peoples, armed conflicts are always a deliberate negation of international harmony, and create profound divisions and deep wounds which require many years to heal. Wars are a concrete refusal to pursue the great economic and social goals that the international community has set itself, as seen, for example, in the Millennium Development Goals. Unfortunately, the many armed conflicts which continue to afflict the world today present us daily with dramatic images of misery, hunger, illness and death. Without peace, there can be no form of economic development. Violence never begets peace, the necessary condition for development.

The meeting of the Heads of State and Government of the twenty most powerful economies, with two-thirds of the world’s population and ninety per cent of global GDP, does not have international security as its principal purpose. Nevertheless, the meeting will surely not forget the situation in the Middle East and particularly in Syria. It is regrettable that, from the very beginning of the conflict in Syria, one-sided interests have prevailed and in fact hindered the search for a solution that would have avoided the senseless massacre now unfolding.

The leaders of the G20 cannot remain indifferent to the dramatic situation of the beloved Syrian people which has lasted far too long, and even risks bringing greater suffering to a region bitterly tested by strife and needful of peace. To the leaders present, to each and every one, I make a heartfelt appeal for them to help find ways to overcome the conflicting positions and to lay aside the futile pursuit of a military solution. Rather, let there be a renewed commitment to seek, with courage and determination, a peaceful solution through dialogue and negotiation of the parties, unanimously supported by the international community. Moreover, all governments have the moral duty to do everything possible to ensure humanitarian assistance to those suffering because of the conflict, both within and beyond the country’s borders".

INTERVIEW EXCERPT: Fr Adolfo Nicolas: Military action in Syria would be "an abuse of power"

The Jesuit General has accused the United States and France of an "abuse of power", in considering military action in Syria and says the Jesuits fully support Pope Francis' call for a day of prayer and fasting in support of peace this Saturday.

While he says he would not normally comment on international or political situations, Father General Adolfo Nicolás SJ says the current circumstances mean he cannot keep silent, stating: "I cannot understand who gave the United States or France the right to act against a country in a way that will certainly increase the suffering of the citizens of that country, who, by the way, have already suffered beyond measure."

Fr Nicolás outlines three fundamental problems. Firstly, an abuse of power which, he says, would be like "the big boy of the neighbourhood" abusing, harassing and bullying the weaker members of the community. Secondly, he expresses concern about the lack of concrete information about the use of chemical weapons in Syria. And he highlights in particular the impact that any military action by the US and France would have upon "the ordinary innocent and poor people" of Syria.

The Jesuit General says "the danger is now" and he echoes the Holy Father's call for a day of prayer and fasting for peace on 7 September.


Putin warns Russia could come to Syria's aid over US strike
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Russia Warns Of Nuclear Disaster If Syria Is Attacked
Al Qaeda- Linked Rebels Attack Christian Village

Thoughts and Sayings of Saint Margaret Mary: Various Subjects

22. We should always look to God as in ourselves, no matter in what manner we meditate upon Him, so as to accustom ourselves to dwell in His divine presence.  For when we behold Him within our souls, all our powers and faculties, and even our senses, are recollected within us.  If we look at God apart from ourselves we are easily distracted by exterior objects.

September 4, 2013  

SISTER ANGELA: "We nuns, as praying souls of the Church carry the world, all the current events in our heart. Our mission is to pray so that everything is oriented towards God. As St. Teresina said: In the heart of the Church, my Mother, I will be love. War is not according to God. Often we here in Israel are under tension of an imminent war. We fast, pray and hope for peace in the Middle East".

ACN: Stop sending arms to Syria

The leader of Catholics in Syria spoke out against all countries which send in arms, saying that the impact of military shipments is "far more dangerous" than the use of chemical weapons.

While issuing an unequivocal condemnation of the “destructive” use of chemical weapons, Greek Catholic Melkite Patriarch Gregorios III of Antioch said that armed military support, including intelligence, coming from outside the country remained the most serious threat.

In a statement issued to Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), Patriarch Gregorios, who last week spoke out against armed intervention by the West, said that his country’s death toll, displacement crisis and infrastructure devastation was the direct fault of military hardware sent from outside Syria following the March 2011 start of the uprising against Syria’s President Bashar al Assad.

Writing in his capacity as President of the Assembly of the Catholic Hierarchy in Syria as well as Patriarch of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church, Patriarch Gregorios  wrote: “…For the last 2˝ years, Eastern and Western countries have not stopped sending weapons, money, military experts, secret service agents and Salafist fundamentalist armed gangs of thugs and criminals…”

“[They] have fallen on Syria like a destructive new flood, far more dangerous even than destructive chemical weapons, whose use on our Syrian soil we reject on any pretext whatever.”

He said the weapons and their impact “have caused” the deaths of 100,000 Syrians, the displacement of millions of others, the destruction of thousands of villages and harm to the futures of millions of young people.

Renewing his opposition to military intervention by the West, the Patriarch stressed the need for peace talks, stating, “Contrary to the calls to arms, attacks and military interventions, we enjoy listening to appeals from around the world aimed at creating an atmosphere of reconciliation, dialogue, humanitarian solidarity, hope, forgiveness and finally peace.”


The Coptic Patriarchate: no one can justify war under the pretext of defending the Christians
Patriarchs and Christian leaders in the Middle East: together with the Pope, in prayer for peace
Western church leaders warn against intervention in Syria
U.S. bishops urge Catholics to join Day of Fasting and Prayer for Syria

NCR REVIEW: What moral theologians say about getting involved in Syria

US "CATHOLIC" POLITICIANS: Pope Francis pleads for peace in Syria as prominent Catholic legislators support action

CATHOLIC IN WORD AND DEED: The Church and the Syrian Refugees- “We don’t help people because they are Catholic ... We help people because we are Catholic.”

Thoughts and Sayings of Saint Margaret Mary: Various Subjects

21. Having once made an entire donation of ourselves, let us not retract it: our Lord will employ every means to sanctify us, in proportion as we make use of every opportunity to glorify Him.

September 2, 2013  

(Joel 2:12-14) Now, therefore, saith the Lord. Be converted to me with all your heart, in fasting, and in weeping, and mourning. And rend your hearts, and not your garments and turn to the Lord your God: for he is gracious and merciful, patient and rich in mercy, and ready to repent of the evil. Who knoweth but he will return, and forgive, and leave a blessing behind him, sacrifice and libation to the Lord your God?

NEWS.VA: Pope: Angelus appeal for peace

Pope Francis has called for a day of fasting and prayer for peace in Syria, in the entire Mideast region, and throughout the whole world to be held this coming Saturday, September 7th, 2013. The Pope made the announcement during the course of remarks ahead of the traditional Angelus prayer this Sunday. Below, please find the full text of the Holy Father's Angelus appeal.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Hello!    Today, dear brothers and sisters, I wish to make add my voice to the cry which rises up with increasing anguish from every part of the world, from every people, from the heart of each person, from the one great family which is humanity: it is the cry for peace! It is a cry which declares with force: we want a peaceful world, we want to be men and women of peace, and we want in our society, torn apart by divisions and conflict, that peace break out! War never again! Never again war! Peace is a precious gift, which must be promoted and protected.

There are so many conflicts in this world which cause me great suffering and worry, but in these days my heart is deeply wounded in particular by what is happening in Syria and anguished by the dramatic developments which are looming.    I appeal strongly for peace, an appeal which arises from the deep within me. How much suffering, how much devastation, how much pain has the use of arms carried in its wake in that martyred country, especially among civilians and the unarmed! I think of many children will not see the light of the future! With utmost firmness I condemn the use of chemical weapons: I tell you that those terrible images from recent days are burned into my mind and heart. There is a judgment of God and of history upon our actions which are inescapable! Never has the use of violence brought peace in its wake. War begets war, violence begets violence.

With all my strength, I ask each party in this conflict to listen to the voice of their own conscience, not to close themselves in solely on their own interests, but rather to look at each other as brothers and decisively and courageously to follow the path of encounter and negotiation, and so overcome blind conflict. With similar vigour I exhort the international community to make every effort to promote clear proposals for peace in that country without further delay, a peace based on dialogue and negotiation, for the good of the entire Syrian people.    May no effort be spared in guaranteeing humanitarian assistance to those wounded by this terrible conflict, in particular those forced to flee and the many refugees in nearby countries. May humanitarian workers, charged with the task of alleviating the sufferings of these people, be granted access so as to provide the necessary aid.

What can we do to make peace in the world? As Pope John said, it pertains to each individual to establish new relationships in human society under the mastery and guidance of justice and love (cf. John XXIII, Pacem in Terris, [11 April 1963]: AAS 55, [1963], 301-302).    All men and women of good will are bound by the task of pursuing peace. I make a forceful and urgent call to the entire Catholic Church, and also to every Christian of other confessions, as well as to followers of every religion and to those brothers and sisters who do not believe: peace is a good which overcomes every barrier, because it belongs all of humanity!

I repeat forcefully: it is neither a culture of confrontation nor a culture of conflict which builds harmony within and between peoples, but rather a culture of encounter and a culture of dialogue; this is the only way to peace.    May the plea for peace rise up and touch the heart of everyone so that they may lay down their weapons and be let themselves be led by the desire for peace.

To this end, brothers and sisters, I have decided to proclaim for the whole Church on 7 September next, the vigil of the birth of Mary, Queen of Peace, a day of fasting and prayer for peace in Syria, the Middle East, and throughout the world, and I also invite each person, including our fellow Christians, followers of other religions and all men of good will, to participate, in whatever way they can, in this initiative.    On 7 September, in Saint Peter’s Square, here, from 19:00 until 24:00, we will gather in prayer and in a spirit of penance, invoking God’s great gift of peace upon the beloved nation of Syria and upon each situation of conflict and violence around the world. Humanity needs to see these gestures of peace and to hear words of hope and peace! I ask all the local churches, in addition to fasting, that they gather to pray for this intention.

Let us ask Mary to help us to respond to violence, to conflict and to war, with the power of dialogue, reconciliation and love. She is our mother: may she help us to find peace; all of us are her children! Help us, Mary, to overcome this most difficult moment and to dedicate ourselves each day to building in every situation an authentic culture of encounter and peace. Mat, Queen of Peace, pray for us!

Thoughts and Sayings of Saint Margaret Mary: Various Subjects

18. I cannot but admire the goodness and liberality of the Sacred Heart towards you. Our Lord seems to take pleasure in unfolding all Its treasures for your benefit.
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