Keep your eyes open!...


September 29, 2014  

(Rev 12:12) Therefore, rejoice, O heavens, and you that dwell therein. Woe to the earth and to the sea, because the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, knowing that he hath but a short time.


Pope Francis speaks of "the struggle between God and the devil":

"This struggle takes place after Satan seeks to destroy the woman about to give birth to a child. Satan always tries to destroy man: the man that Daniel saw there, in glory, and whom Jesus told Nathanael would come in glory. From the very beginning, the Bible speaks to us of this: Satan’s [use of ] seduction to destroy. Maybe out of envy. We read in Psalm 8: 'Thou hast made ​​man superior to the angels,' and that angel of great intelligence could not bear this humiliation, that a lower creature was made superior to him; thus he tried to destroy it".

Satan, therefore, seeks to destroy humanity, all of us: "So many projects, except for one's own sins, but many, many projects for mankind’s dehumanization are his work, simply because he hates mankind. He is astute: the first page of Genesis tells us so, he is astute.  He presents things as if they were a good thing.  But his intention is destruction. And the angels defend us. They defend mankind and they defend the God-Man, the superior Man, Jesus Christ who is the perfection of humanity, the most perfect. This is why the Church honors the Angels, because they are the ones who will be in the glory of God – they are in the glory of God - because they defend the great hidden mystery of God, namely, that the Word was made flesh".

"The task of the people of God - the Pope said - is to safeguard man: the man Jesus” because "He is the man who gives life to all men". Instead, in his plans for destruction, Satan has invented "humanistic explanations that go against man, against humanity and against God":

"This struggle is a daily reality in Christian life, in our hearts, in our lives, in our families, in our people, in our churches ... If we do not struggle, we will be defeated. But the Lord has given this task mainly to the angels: to do battle and win. And the final song of Revelation , after this battle, is so beautiful: Now have salvation and power come, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Anointed. For the accuser of our brothers is cast out, who accuses them before our God day and night”.

Pope Francis concluded urging those present to pray to the archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, and "recite the ancient but beautiful prayer to the archangel Michael, so he may continue to do battle and defend the greatest mystery of mankind: that the Word was made Man, died and rose again. This is our treasure. That he may battle on to safeguard it".

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A Moment With Mary: The first human creature before whom the angels bowed down

In ancient times it was an especially great event when an angel appeared to men, so that men might show them reverence, for they deserve the greatest praise. It was written in praise of Abraham that he received angels hospitably and that he showed them reverence.

But it was never heard that an angel showed reverence to a man until he saluted the Blessed Virgin, saying reverently, “Hail.”

The reason why in antiquity the angel did not reverence man but man the angel is that the angel was greater than man…

Therefore it was not fitting that the angel should show reverence to man until someone should be found in human nature who exceeded the angels in those three respects.

And this was the Blessed Virgin. In order to signify that she exceeded him in these three things, the angel wished to show her reverence; hence he said, “Hail.”

Saint Thomas Aquinas
On the Angelic Salutation

The Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Discretion 

71. She also said, 'There is a useful sorrow, and a destructive sorrow. Sorrow is useful when we weep for our sins, and for our neighbour's ignorance, and so that we may not relax our purpose to attain to true goodness, these are the real kinds of sorrow. Our enemy adds something to this. For he sends sorrow without reason, which is something called lethargy. We ought always to drive out a sadness like that with prayers and psalms.

September 28, 2014  

(Eph 3:14-16) For this cause I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom all paternity in heaven and earth is named: That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened by his Spirit with might unto the inward man:

USCCB: 2014-2015 Synods Of Bishops On The Family

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NEWS.VA: Pope Francis: Synod prayer to Holy Family

Sunday, 28 September is to be set aside as a Day of Prayer for the III Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, scheduled to take place from 5 to 19 October to treat the topic: The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelization. The Holy See on Saturday released a prayer guide, inviting particular Churches, parishes, religious houses, associations and movements to pray for the success of the Synod assembly in the days leading to the Synod and during the Synod itself.

Day of Prayer for the III Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops Sunday, 28 September 2014

I - Prayer to the Holy Family for the Synod 

Jesus, Mary and Joseph,

in you we contemplate

the splendour of true love,

to you we turn with trust. 

Holy Family of Nazareth,

grant that our families too

may be places of communion and prayer,

authentic schools of the Gospel

and small domestic Churches. 

Holy Family of Nazareth,

may families never again

experience violence, rejection and division:

may all who have been hurt or scandalized

find ready comfort and healing.

Holy Family of Nazareth,

may the approaching Synod of Bishops

make us once more mindful

of the sacredness and inviolability of the family,

and its beauty in God’s plan. 

Jesus, Mary and Joseph,

graciously hear our prayer. 


II - Prayer of the Faithful 

Brothers and Sisters, gathered together as God’s family and inspired by our faith, we raise our minds and hearts to the Father, that our families, sustained by the grace of Christ, might become true domestic churches where all live and bear witness to God’s love. 

Together we pray:

Lord, bless and sanctify our families. 

For Pope Francis: the Lord has called him to preside over the Church in charity; sustain him in his ministry of service to the communion of the episcopal college and the entire People of God, we pray:

For the synod fathers and the other participants at the III Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops: may the Spirit of the Lord enlighten their minds so that the Church might respond, in faithfulness to God’s plan, to the challenges facing the family, we pray:

For those who have the responsibility of governing nations: that the Holy Spirit might inspire programmes which acknowledge the value of the family as the basic unit of society in God’s plan and which offer support to families in difficulty,  we pray:

For Christian families: may the Lord who has sealed the union of husband and wife with his presence, make our families cenacles of prayer and ardent communities of life and love, after the example of the Holy Family of Nazareth, we pray:

For couples undergoing difficulties: may the Lord, rich in mercy, be present to them through the Church’s motherly care and concern in showing understanding and patience in their journey towards pardon and reconciliation, we pray:

For families who, for the sake of the Gospel, are forced leave their fatherland: may the Lord who endured exile with Mary and Joseph, comfort them with his grace and open for them paths of fraternal charity and human solidarity, we pray:

For grandparents: may the Lord who was received in the Temple by the elders Simeon and Anna, make them wise collaborators with parents in transmitting the faith and the raising their children, we pray:

For children: may the Lord of life, who in his ministry welcomed them and made them a model for entering the Kingdom of heaven, inspire a respect for life in the womb and programmes in raising children which conform to the Christian outlook towards life, we pray:

For young people: may the Lord, who made holy the Wedding at Cana, lead them to discover the beauty of the sacredness and inviolability of the family in God’s plan and sustain engaged couples as they prepare for marriage, we pray:

O God, you never forsake the work of your hands, hear our prayer; send the Spirit of your Son to enlighten the Church as the synodal journey begins, so that contemplating the splendour of true love which shines forth in the Holy Family of Nazareth, she might learn the freedom and obedience to respond with boldness and mercy to the challenges of today’s world. Through Christ Our Lord.


The Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Discretion 

70. Syncletica said, 'Merchants toil in search of riches and are in danger of their lives from shipwreck; the more wealth they win, the more they want; and they think what they have already is of no worth but bend their whole mind to what they have not yet got. But we have nothing, not even that which we ought to seek; we do not even want to possess what we need, because we fear God.

September 25, 2014  

(Joh 15:12-13) This is my commandment, that you love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love than this no man hath, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

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REVIEW: Catholic Military Chaplains: America's Forgotten Heroes

: Soldier’s spiritual life by Chaplain (Capt.) Mark Mastin

As a battalion chaplain, I am excited to be able to serve Soldiers and their Families. I truly believe that this is the level where our Soldiers can be reached and cared for most personally, especially in the daily struggles that they may encounter. It is a level where we as chaplains can be quietly present and available, and hopefully, be an effective and immediate instrument to bring a sense of encouragement, hope, emotional well-being and I pray some spiritual guidance, no matter what faith one has or does not have.

It is in those deep encounters with our Soldiers that we learn about the scars of their lives.  Yet unsurprisingly, we also hear that many have a lack of religious beliefs, practices, or spiritual experiences, even though they are longing for something beyond themselves. This internal longing is what the great Saint Augustine referred to as our hearts being restless until they rest in God.  From a Christian perspective, spirituality is “about the disposition of the heart toward God.   A spiritual person is not someone who is merely ‘serving’ God but the one who is in relationship with God and seeks to be holy as God is holy.”

When a Soldier seeks this understanding, I remind him or her about the importance of having spirituality in one’s life. Just as one must be physically, emotionally, and psychologically fit for battle (and for life), along with having workable weapons and equipment, a Soldier too must either develop or prepare and exercise one’s current spiritual life.  

One of our great World War II generals, George Marshall, said in a 1941 speech entitled “Morale in Modern Warfare,” that “The Soldier’s heart, the Soldier’s spirit, the Soldier’s soul is everything. Unless the Soldier’s soul sustains him, he cannot be relied upon and will fail himself, and his commander, and his country in the end.”

From George Washington until now, our leaders have always known that we all need to develop, nourish, and care of our spiritual life and soul. By doing so, we will truly understand and live out the profound meanings of our Army values of loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage.

Be prepared! Keep longing and keep developing one’s personal spiritual life.

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The Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Discretion 

68. A brother said to Sisois, 'Why do my passions not leave me?' He said to him, 'Because the vessels that fill those passions are within you. Empty them and the passions they cause will go away.

September 23, 2014  

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

EWTN: Padre Pio- His Mass

EXCERPT BLOG: Serving the Holy Mass of Padre Pio

Fra Modestino Fucci (1917-2011) was a saintly lay brother who lived alongside Padre Pio at the Friary in San Giovanni Rotondo for many years.  He often had the privilege of serving at the traditional Latin Mass celebrated by St. Pio.

I would watch and observe Padre Pio closely every time, from the moment he left his cell at dawn to celebrate Mass.  I would see him in a state of suffering and anxiety.  He seemed restless.  As soon as he reached the sacristy where he put on the sacred vestments, I had the impression that already he was no longer aware of what went on around him. 

He was totally absorbed and conscious of what he was about the fulfill.  His face which was of normal color became frighteningly pale when he put on the amice.  From that moment onwards he paid no more attention to anyone.  Clothed in the sacred vestments he made his way to the altar.  Even though I walked ahead of him, I was aware that his gait became more dragging, his face sorrowful.  He seemed to stoop always more, as if, I thought, crushed beneath the weight of a gigantic invisible cross.

Once he arrived at the altar he kissed it lovingly and his pale face became inflamed.  His cheeks would become crimson, his skin translucent so that one almost saw the flow of blood that rushed to his cheeks.  After the Confiteor, he beat his breast with hollow and heavy blows as if accusing himself of all the worst sins committed by man.  His eyes remained closed without being able to prevent big tears that disappeared into his thick beard.

At the Gospel, as he announced the Word of God, it seemed as if he fed himself with these words, tasting their infinite sweetness.  Immediately after, the colloquy between Padre Pio and the Eternal began.  This colloquy caused Padre Pio to weep abundant tears, that I saw him wipe with a big handkerchief.  Padre Pio, who had received the gift of contemplation from the Lord, entered into the abysses of the mystery of the Redemption.  The veils of that mystery having been torn by the suffering of his faith and love, all things human disappeared from his sight.  Before his gaze was God alone!

Everyone saw Padre Pio suffering.  He pronounced the liturgical prayers with  difficulty and interrupted by sobs.  The embarrassment the Padre felt at being in the presence and the searching gaze of others was enormous.  He would probably have preferred to celebrate Mass in solitude so as to be able to give free rein to his suffering and to his indescribable love. 

In those moments Padre Pio lived sensitively and really felt the Passion of the Lord.  Time went quickly, but he was outside time!  That was why his Mass lasted an hour and a half or probably more.  At the Elevation his suffering reached its height.  Watching his weeping, his sobbing, I was afraid his heart would burst, that he was about to faint from one moment to the next. God's Spirit had by now penetrated his whole body.  His soul was rapt in God.  He offered himself with Christ, victim for his brothers in exile. 

Each gesture of his denoted his relationship with God.  His heart must have burned like a volcano.  He prayed intensely for his spiritual children, for the sick, and for those who had already left this world.  Every now and then he leaned on the altar on his elbows, probably to relieve his wounded feet from the weight of his body.  I heard him repeat often through his tears: "My God! My God!" A spectacle of faith, love, suffering and emotion that reached the point of drama when the Padre raised the Host.  The sleeves of the surplice came down and his torn, bleeding hands were in the sight of all, whereas his gaze was on God! 

At Communion he seemed to calm down.  Transfigured in a passionate, ecstatic abandon, he fed on the Flesh and Blood of Jesus. How much love emanated from his face!  The people, astounded, could not but kneel before that mystical agony, to that total annihilation of himself. The incorporation, the assimilation, the fusion was total!  Padre Pio would remain as if stunned as he tasted all the divine sweetness that only Jesus in the Eucharist knows how to give.

So the sacrifice of the Mass would be completed with a real participation of love, of suffering and blood.  And it brought about many conversions.  At the end of the Mass another suffering would devour him - that of going to the choir loft to remain alone and in silence, recollected in prayer to be able to thank Jesus.  He would remain immobile as if without life.  If someone had shaken him he would not have noticed, so absorbed was he in divine contemplation.

The Mass of Padre Pio! No one will be able to describe it.  Only one who has had the privilege of living it can understand. . .

MORE: A Prayer of St. Padre Pio After Communion

The Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Discretion 

67. Palladius said, 'The soul which is being trained according to the will of Christ should either be earnest in learning what it does not know, or should publicly teach what it does know. If it wants to do neither, though it could, it is mad. The first step on the road away from God is contempt for teaching, that is not to want to give food to the soul that truly wants it.

September 21, 2014  

(Luk 10:1-3) 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.

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VATICAN RADIO: Homily of His Holiness Pope Francis Holy Mass in Mother Teresa Square  (Tirana, 21 September 2014)

Today’s Gospel tells us that, as well as the Twelve Apostles, Jesus calls another seventy-two disciples and that he sends them to the villages and cities to announce the Kingdom of God (cf. Lk 10:1-9, 17-20).  He comes to bring the love of God to the world and he wishes to share it by means of communion and fraternity.  To this end he immediately forms a community of disciples, a missionary community, and he trains them how to “go out” on mission.  The method is both clear and simple: the disciples visit homes and their preaching begins with a greeting which is charged with meaning: “Peace be to this house!”.  It is not only a greeting, but also a gift: the gift of peace.  Being here with you today, dear brothers and sisters of Albania, in this Square dedicated to a humble and great daughter of this land, Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, I wish to repeat to you this greeting: May peace be in your homes! May peace reign in your hearts! Peace in your country!
In the mission of the seventy-two disciples we see a reflection of the Christian community’s missionary experience in every age: the risen and living Lord sends not only the Twelve, but the entire Church; he sends each of the baptized to announce the Gospel to all peoples.  Through the ages, the message of peace brought by Jesus’ messengers has not always been accepted; at times, the doors have been closed to them.  In the recent past, the doors of your country were also closed, locked by the chains of prohibitions and prescriptions of a system which denied God and impeded religious freedom.  Those who were afraid of the truth did everything they could to banish God from the hearts of men and women and to exclude Christ and the Church from the history of your country, even though it was one of the first to receive the light of the Gospel.  In the second reading, in fact, we heard a reference being made to Illyria, which in Paul’s time included the territory of modern-day Albania.

Recalling the decades of atrocious suffering and harsh persecutions against Catholics, Orthodox and Muslims, we can say that Albania was a land of martyrs: many bishops, priests, men and women religious, and laity paid for their fidelity with their lives.  Demonstrations of great courage and constancy in the profession of the faith are not lacking.  How many Christians did not succumb when threatened, but persevered without wavering on the path they had undertaken!  I stand spiritually at that wall of the cemetery of Scutari, a symbolic place of the martyrdom of Catholics before the firing squads, and with profound emotion I place the flower of my prayer and of my grateful and undying remembrance.  The Lord was close to you, dear brothers and sisters, to sustain you; he led you and consoled you and in the end he has raised you up on eagle’s wings as he did for the ancient people of Israel (cf. First Reading).  The eagle, depicted on your nation’s flag, calls to mind hope, and the need to always place your trust in God, who does not lead us astray and who is ever at our side, especially in moments of difficulty.

Today, the doors of Albania have been reopened and a season of new missionary vitality is growing for all of the members of the people of God: each baptized person has his or her role to fulfil in the Church and in society.  Each one must experience the call to dedicate themselves generously to the announcing of the Gospel and to the witness of charity; called to strengthen the bonds of solidarity so as to create more just and fraternal living conditions for all.  Today, I have come to encourage you to cultivate hope among yourselves and within your hearts; to involve the young generations; to nourish yourselves assiduously on the Word of God, opening your hearts to Christ: his Gospel will show you the way!  May your faith be joyful and bright; may you demonstrate that the encounter with Christ gives meaning to human existence, meaning to every man and woman.

In the spirit of communion among bishops, priests, consecrated persons and laity, I encourage you to bring vitality to your pastoral activities and to continuously seek new ways of making the Church present in society: do not be afraid to respond generously to Christ who invites you to follow him!  In a priestly or religious vocation you will find the richness and the joy of offering yourselves to the service of God and your brothers and sisters.  How many men and women await the light of the Gospel and the grace of the Sacraments!

To the Church which is alive in this land of Albania, I say “thank you” for the example of fidelity to the Gospel!  So many of your sons and daughters have suffered for Christ, even to the point of sacrificing their lives.  May their witness sustain your steps today and tomorrow as you journey along the way of love, of freedom, of justice and of peace.  Amen.

The Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Discretion 

66. A brother asked Pambo, 'Why does the enemy prevent me doing good to my neighbour?' He said, 'Do not talk like that, or you will make God a liar. Say, "I is I myself do not want to be kind to others." For God came down to us and said, "I have given you the power of treading upon scorpions and snakes" (Luke 10:19), and so you are beyond the power of the enemy. Why then do you not tread down these evil spirits?

September 19, 2014  

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

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: Pope Francis’ one-day trip expected to give Albanians hope, healing

Pope Francis’ choice of Albania as the destination of his first international trip in Europe reflects his trademark pastoral approach: Head to the peripheries, bring healing to the suffering. But his Sept. 21 visit to the poor, Muslim-majority nation also will highlight, to a world increasingly torn apart by sectarian strife, a hopeful example of Muslims and Christians living in harmony. “The presence of the pope will say to the people, ‘See you can work together,’” Pope Francis told reporters last month, praising the Albanian government’s efforts to promote interreligious cooperation.

Catholics make up only about 16 percent of Albania’s 3 million inhabitants; about 65 percent are Muslim and 20 percent Orthodox. Yet Muslims, Orthodox Christians and even people of no faith “see the pope as a charismatic person who defends the weak and the voiceless,” Father Meta said. Luigj Mila, secretary-general of the Albanian bishops’ peace and justice commission, said he expects a large number of Muslims to welcome the pope. Mila said Albania’s interreligious harmony is rooted in people’s common ethnicity and shared history of persecution.

Starting in 1944, Stalinist dictator Enver Hoxha sought to cleanse the country of all religion, even passing a 1967 constitutional law that banned any trace of the divine, which made Albania the first and so-far only atheist nation. Catholics were disproportionally targeted, he said, because “they had been warning about the dangers of communism.”
Almost all of Albania’s fewer than 200 priests were jailed and scores killed. Countless laypeople and religious faced arrest, torture, firing squads, concentration camps and forced labor while thousands of places of worship were confiscated and demolished or turned into movie theaters, gyms and meeting halls.

Though Catholics passed down their beliefs in secret, they had no religious structures or institutions to help pick up the pieces once the communist dictatorship dissolved in the early 1990s. That’s what made St. John Paul II’s visit in 1993 so important to the then-newly democratic nation. Albanians saw the Polish pope as a vision of hope, “a prophet bringing good news to everyone,” upholding the freedom of conscience and human dignity, said Albert P. Nikolla, coordinator in Albania of the papal trip and head of Caritas Albania.

Pope Francis’ visit falls on the feast of St. Matthew, a day of enormous significance for the pope, who, as a 17-year-old boy, strongly felt God’s presence and mercy, inspiring him to religious life. His episcopal and papal motto -- “Because he saw him through the eyes of mercy and chose him” -- is based on the account of Jesus seeing Matthew, a sinner and tax collector, and calling him to “Follow me.”

ITINERARY: Although the Holy Father will be in Albania just one full day, his schedule will be very full. After meeting with the President and other civil authorities upon his arrival, he will preside at a solemn Mass in the Mother Teresa Square in the heart of Tirana. Pope Francis will then meet with the nation’s Bishops before heading to Tirana’s Catholic University for a meeting with leaders of the various Christian denominations and religious communities in Albania. The Pope will then go to Tirana’s cathedral where he will celebrate Vespers with priests, religious, seminarians, and members of lay movements.

The day’s events will conclude with a journey to visit children at the Betania Centre, along with various people from other charitable centres in Albania.

The Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Discretion 

62. Abraham, who was a disciple of Agatho, once asked Poemen, 'Why do the demons attack me?' Poemen said to him, 'Is it the demons who attack you? It is not the demons who attack me. When we follow our self-will then our wills seem like demons and it is they who urge us to obey them. If you want to know the kind of people with whom the demons fight, it is Moses and those like him.

September 17, 2014  

(Psa 139:14-16) I praise you, because I am wonderfully made; wonderful are your works! My very self you know. My bones are not hidden from you, When I was being made in secret, fashioned in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw me unformed; in your book all are written down; my days were shaped, before one came to be.

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PETER KREEFT: Spiritual History 101: How Did We Get to the Edge?


My old philosophical mentor, Eric Mascall, used to say that, in our time, all the goods are in the store-window and there’s very little under the counter. He was commenting on empiricism as a philosophy and how it was slowly robbing daily life of its mystery and depth. Sadly, that comment made years ago, rings true today at a different level.

Our world has become obsessed with appearance, with image, with persona, with what’s in the store-window, with how we’re perceived. Today it’s more important to look good than to be good, more important to look healthy than to be healthy, and more important to have a good- looking surface than to have much in the way of integrity and depth underneath.

We see this everywhere, in our obsession for the perfect physical appearance, in the cult around image, in our mania for celebrity, in the imperialism of fashion, and in our not-so-disguised efforts to be perceived as connected to all the right things.

For example, typically, more and more Universities are handing out honorary degrees to two types of people, celebrities and highly recognized justice advocates. I’m not sure that many of those institutions actually care about the poor or intellectually endorse what the entertainment and sports industry (which produce most of our celebrities) are doing, but a Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, Meryl Streep, Jodi Foster, Wayne Gretsky, or David Beckham looks mighty good on a University’s public face: “Just look how caring, beautiful, and energetic we are!”

In the end, and I hope I’m not being cynical, it seems it’s not so important what an institution believes in or how it treats its employees and students, it’s only important how it’s seen and perceived from the outside. Giving a doctorate to a Mother Theresa doesn’t do much for the poor in India, but it does a fair amount for the institution that’s honouring her.

The same is true in politics. Image has triumphed over substance. We tend to care less about policy than about appearance and we elect people to political offices more on the basis of their persona than anything else. To be elected to a public office today, it’s more important to have the right image than to have political substance and the character.

But we shouldn’t be too hard on the triumph of appearance over substance in public life because this simply mirrors what’s happening in our private lives: More and more, appearance is the first thing, the whole thing, and the only thing. It’s not important to be good, only to look good.

Cosmetics is becoming the biggest industry in the world and concern for how we look, for the perfect body, is now a crucifying anxiety that’s leaving more and more of us, especially young people, dissatisfied with our own bodies and sadly restless within our own lives. The prevalence of anorexia, among other eating disorders, more than bears this out. Too often we’re dieting, not to be healthy, but to try to attain and maintain an impossible appearance. Everything is about how we look and so we exercise more, diet more strictly, and spend yet more money on fashionable clothing in an attempt to look right, even as we remain chronically disenchanted with how we look and know deep down that we’re fighting a losing battle as our bodies age and society’s standards grow ever more unattainable. Worse still, we tend now to make value judgements based on physical appearance alone. Our worth lies in looking good.

Not that all of this bad, mind you. Concern for physical appearance is a good thing in itself, as are concerns for exercise and diet. We are meant to look good and to feel good. Neither bodily health nor healthy aesthetics about our appearance should ever be denigrated in the name of morality, depth, or religion. Indeed lack of concern for one’s physical appearance is a telltale sign of depression or even some deeper illness of soul. Our concern for appearance is a good thing, but, today, it’s a good thing taken too far.

Concern for appearance should never replace a concern for substance, depth, and integrity of soul, just as, conversely, concern for substance and depth may never be an excuse for shoddiness and sloppy appearance. Still, today, we’ve lost the proper balance and it’s hurting us in more ways than we imagine.

Faith is built on the blood of martyrs and the institutions that bind a society together (marriage, family, church, politics) are sustained largely on the basis of self-sacrifice. But ninety-nine percent of that martyrdom and self-sacrifice remains hidden, silent, anonymous, unnoticed, unglamorous, blood shed in secret, love given for reasons beyond appearance.

If this is true, and it is, then the prognosis for the future leaves me uneasy. When appearance is everything, we soon stop focusing on deeper things and then slowly, imperceptibly, appearance begin to look like character, celebrity begins to replace nobility of soul, and looking good becomes more important than being good.

The Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Discretion 

60. He also said, 'The will of man is a wall of brass, and a stone barrier between himself and God. If he puts it aside, he can say the words of the psalm, "By the help of my God I shall leap over the wall" and, "as for my God his way is undefiled" (Ps. 18:29-30). If good conduct helps the will, then a man will do good.

September 14, 2014  

(1Co 1:17-18) For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not in wisdom of speech, lest the cross of Christ should be made void. For the word of the cross, to them indeed that perish, is foolishness: but to them that are saved, that is, to us, it is the power of God.

POPE FRANCIS HOMILY: War is "madness" which brings destruction

Visit of His Holiness Pope Francis to the Military Cemetery of Redipuglia (13 September 2014) 

After experiencing the beauty of travelling throughout this region, where men and women work and raise their families, where children play and the elderly dream… I now find myself here, in this place, able to say only one thing: War is madness.

Whereas God carries forward the work of creation, and we men and women are called to participate in his work, war destroys.  It also ruins the most beautiful work of his hands: human beings.  War ruins everything, even the bonds between brothers.  War is irrational; its only plan is to bring destruction: it seeks to grow by destroying.

Greed, intolerance, the lust for power…. These motives underlie the decision to go to war, and they are too often justified by an ideology; but first there is a distorted passion or impulse.  Ideology is presented as a justification and when there is no ideology, there is the response of Cain: “What does it matter to me?  Am I my brother’s keeper?” (cf. Gen 4:9).  War does not look directly at anyone, be they elderly, children, mothers, fathers…. “What does it matter to me?”

Above the entrance to this cemetery, there hangs in the air those ironic words of war, “What does it matter to me?”  Each one of the dead buried here had their own plans, their own dreams… but their lives were cut short.  Humanity said, “What does it matter to me?”

Even today, after the second failure of another world war, perhaps one can speak of a third war, one fought piecemeal, with crimes, massacres, destruction…

In all honesty, the front page of newspapers ought to carry the headline, “What does it matter to me?”  Cain would say, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

This attitude is the exact opposite of what Jesus asks of us in the Gospel.  We have heard: he is in the least of his brothers; he, the King, the Judge of the world, he is the one who hungers, who thirsts, he is the stranger, the one who is sick, the prisoner… The one who cares for his brother or sister enters into the joy of the Lord; the one who does not do so, however, who by his omissions says, “What does it matter to me?”, remains excluded.

Here lie many victims.  Today, we remember them.  There are tears, there is sadness.  From this place we remember all the victims of every war.

Today, too, the victims are many…  How is this possible?  It is so because in today’s world, behind the scenes, there are interests, geopolitical strategies, lust for money and power, and there is the manufacture and sale of arms, which seem to be so important!

And these plotters of terrorism, these schemers of conflicts, just like arms dealers, have engraved in their hearts, “What does it matter to me?”

It is the task of the wise to recognize errors, to feel pain, to repent, to beg for pardon and to cry.       

With this “What does it matter to me?” in their hearts, the merchants of war perhaps have made a great deal of money, but their corrupted hearts have lost the capacity to cry.  That “What does it matter to me?” prevents the tears.  Cain did not cry.  The shadow of Cain hangs over us today in this cemetery.  It is seen here.  It is seen from 1914 right up to our own time.  It is seen even in the present.

With the heart of a son, a brother, a father, I ask each of you, indeed for all of us, to have a conversion of heart: to move on from “What does it matter to me?”, to tears: for each one of the fallen of this “senseless massacre”, for all the victims of the mindless wars, in every age.  Humanity needs to weep, and this is the time to weep.

ALETEIA: Why does God Allow all the Violence and Suffering Today?

The Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Discretion 

59. Poemen related a saying of Ammon, 'One man kept an axe with him all his life but did not know how to cut down a tree; another knew how to use an axe, and could cut down a tree with a few strokes. 'He used to say that the axe was discretion.

September 12, 2014  

(Luk 6:40) The disciple is not above his master: but every one shall be perfect, if he be as his master.

CHURCHPOP: 11 Of the Best Things Jesus Never Said

CRISIS MAGAZINE: “When Will the Catholic Church Come into the 21st Century?”

BLOG: Post-Christian and Secular: The Loss of Pudor


Once upon a time there was a church founded on God’s entering into human history in order to give humanity a path to eternal life and happiness with him. The Savior that God sent, his only-begotten Son, did not write a book but founded a community, a church, upon the witness and ministry of twelve apostles. He sent this church the gift of the Holy Spirit, the spirit of love between Father and Son, the Spirit of the truth that God had revealed about himself and humanity by breaking into the history of human sinfulness.

This church, a hierarchical communion, continued through history, living among different peoples and cultures, filled with sinners, but always guided in the essentials of her life and teaching by the Holy Spirit. She called herself “Catholic” because her purpose was to preach a universal faith and a universal morality, encompassing all peoples and cultures. This claim often invited conflict with the ruling classes of many countries. About 1,800 years into her often stormy history, this church found herself as a very small group in a new country in Eastern North America that promised to respect all religions because the State would not be confessional; it would not try to play the role of a religion.

This church knew that it was far from socially acceptable in this new country. One of the reasons the country was established was to protest the king of England’s permitting the public celebration of the Catholic Mass on the soil of the British Empire in the newly conquered Catholic territories of Canada. He had betrayed his coronation oath to combat Catholicism, defined as “America’s greatest enemy,” and protect Protestantism, bringing the pure religion of the colonists into danger and giving them the moral right to revolt and reject his rule.

Nonetheless, many Catholics in the American colonies thought their life might be better in the new country than under a regime whose ruling class had penalized and persecuted them since the mid-16th century. They made this new country their own and served her loyally. The social history was often contentious, but the State basically kept its promise to protect all religions and not become a rival to them, a fake church. Until recent years.

There was always a quasi-religious element in the public creed of the country. It lived off the myth of human progress, which had little place for dependence on divine providence. It tended to exploit the religiosity of the ordinary people by using religious language to co-opt them into the purposes of the ruling class. Forms of anti-Catholicism were part of its social DNA. It had encouraged its citizens to think of themselves as the creators of world history and the managers of nature, so that no source of truth outside of themselves needed to be consulted to check their collective purposes and desires. But it had never explicitly taken upon itself the mantle of a religion and officially told its citizens what they must personally think or what “values” they must personalize in order to deserve to be part of the country. Until recent years.

In recent years, society has brought social and legislative approval to all types of sexual relationships that used to be considered “sinful.” Since the biblical vision of what it means to be human tells us that not every friendship or love can be expressed in sexual relations, the church’s teaching on these issues is now evidence of intolerance for what the civil law upholds and even imposes. What was once a request to live and let live has now become a demand for approval. The “ruling class,” those who shape public opinion in politics, in education, in communications, in entertainment, is using the civil law to impose its own form of morality on everyone. We are told that, even in marriage itself, there is no difference between men and women, although nature and our very bodies clearly evidence that men and women are not interchangeable at will in forming a family. Nevertheless, those who do not conform to the official religion, we are warned, place their citizenship in danger.

When the recent case about religious objection to one provision of the Health Care Act was decided against the State religion, the Huffington Post (June 30, 2014) raised “concerns about the compatibility between being a Catholic and being a good citizen.” This is not the voice of the nativists who first fought against Catholic immigration in the 1830s. Nor is it the voice of those who burned convents and churches in Boston and Philadelphia a decade later. Neither is it the voice of the Know-Nothing Party of the 1840s and 1850s, nor of the Ku Klux Klan, which burned crosses before Catholic churches in the Midwest after the civil war. It is a voice more sophisticated than that of the American Protective Association, whose members promised never to vote for a Catholic for public office. This is, rather, the selfrighteous voice of some members of the American establishment today who regard themselves as “progressive” and “enlightened.”

The inevitable result is a crisis of belief for many Catholics. Throughout history, when Catholics and other believers in revealed religion have been forced to choose between being taught by God or instructed by politicians, professors, editors of major newspapers and entertainers, many have opted to go along with the powers that be. This reduces a great tension in their lives, although it also brings with it the worship of a false god. It takes no moral courage to conform to government and social pressure. It takes a deep faith to “swim against the tide,” as Pope Francis recently encouraged young people to do at last summer’s World Youth Day.

Swimming against the tide means limiting one’s access to positions of prestige and power in society. It means that those who choose to live by the Catholic faith will not be welcomed as political candidates to national office, will not sit on editorial boards of major newspapers, will not be at home on most university faculties, will not have successful careers as actors and entertainers. Nor will their children, who will also be suspect. Since all public institutions, no matter who owns or operates them, will be agents of the government and conform their activities to the demands of the official religion, the practice of medicine and law will become more difficult for faithful Catholics. It already means in some States that those who run businesses must conform their activities to the official religion or be fined, as Christians and Jews are fined for their religion in countries governed by Sharia law.

A reader of the tale of two churches, an outside observer, might note that American civil law has done much to weaken and destroy what is the basic unit of every human society, the family. With the weakening of the internal restraints that healthy family life teaches, the State will need to impose more and more external restraints on everyone’s activities. An outside observer might also note that the official religion’s imposing whatever its proponents currently desire on all citizens and even on the world at large inevitably generates resentment. An outside observer might point out that class plays a large role in determining the tenets of the official State religion. “Same-sex marriage,” as a case in point, is not an issue for the poor or those on the margins of society.

How does the tale end? We don’t know. The actual situation is, of course, far more complex than a story plot, and there are many actors and characters, even among the ruling class, who do not want their beloved country to transform itself into a fake church. It would be wrong to lose hope, since there are so many good and faithful people.

Catholics do know, with the certainty of faith, that, when Christ returns in glory to judge the living and the dead, the church, in some recognizable shape or form that is both Catholic and Apostolic, will be there to meet him. There is no such divine guarantee for any country, culture or society of this or any age.

The Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Discretion 

58. A brother said to Poemen, 'If I see something wrong do you want me to tell you about it? 'He said to him, 'It is written, "If a man answers before he has heard, it is foolishness to him and discredit" (Ecclesiasticus 11:8). If you are asked, speak; if not, say nothing.

September 8, 2014  

(Joh 2:5) His mother saith to the waiters: Whatsoever he shall say to you, do ye.

POPE FRANCIS:  “The model of motherhood for the Church is the Blessed Virgin Mary, who in the fullness of time conceived through the Holy Spirit and gave birth to the Son of God.”

ALETEIA: What's a Christian to Do as the World Sinks into Chaos?

A Moment With Mary: Today, September 8, 2014, the Virgin Mary will be proclaimed Queen of Corsica

Today, Bishop de Germay will renew the consecration of Corsica to the Blessed Virgin Mary. In his own words: “On October 13th of last year, Pope Francis consecrated the world to the Immaculate Heart of the Virgin Mary, thus renewing the previous acts of consecration already made by his predecessors Pius XII in 1942, and John Paul II in 1984, in conformity with the requests of Our Lady of Fatima.

My wish is that we too could join in this act of the Holy Father, by renewing the consecration of Corsica to the Immaculate Virgin, like my predecessor, Bishop Rodiť, did in 1935… Thus, together, we will be able to entrust the Island of Corsica and her population to Mary's intercession and protection."

The renewal of this consecration will be officially pronounced by the bishop in three places: in the night of September 7th in Lavasina, at 8 o’clock in the morning in Casamaccioli, and in the afternoon in Ajaccio.

The same consecration is also being made in the different parishes of the diocese, by the wish of the pastors. A common prayer was distributed for this

VIA DIOCESE WEBSITE: Mary, Queen of Corsica

What is the meaning of such a consecration?

Christ came into the world to bring him back to the Father after removal due to sin. Why he wants to make all men disciples, men and women who are consecrated in truth (cf. Jn 17:19), a people for God (cf. 1P 2.9). This mission, Christ realizes over time through his Church. So we are as members of the Church, together with the work of salvation.

Jesus, who himself is our salvation, we came by a woman (Gal 4.4), the Virgin Mary. Today, it takes flesh in our lives through spiritual motherhood of the Mother of the Church. Before dying in fact, as a testament, Jesus gave it to us to make it our Mother (cf. Jn 19:27). Thus, it "cooperates in the birth and education of the son and daughters of the Church" (John Paul II).

Therefore, as members of the Church in Corsica, in a "lively sharing in Mary's faith" (John Paul II), we wish to entrust to her Immaculate Heart our island and all its inhabitants, and through it, to renew our own baptismal consecration.


VIA [email protected]: *The Birth of Mary* (Divine Office)

Thy birth, O Virgin Mother of God, heralded joy to all the world.
For from thou hast risen the Sun of justice, Christ our God.

Destroying the curse, He gave blessing; and damning death, He bestowed on us life everlasting.

Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.
For from thou hast risen of Sun of justice, Christ our God.

The Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Discretion

57. Poemen also said, 'If a thought about your bodily needs comes to you, and you put it aside; and then it comes again, and you put it aside, what will happen? If it comes a third time, you will not notice it, and it will do you no harm.'

September 5, 2014  

(1Th 5:15-17) See that none render evil for evil to any man: but ever follow that which is good towards each other and towards all men. Always rejoice. Pray without ceasing.

BLOG: Top Ten Secrets of Happiness: Catholic Version 

THE SHIELD OF FAITH: "Walk cheerfully!" Practical advice from St. Padre Pio

Almost everyone knows that "pray, hope, and don't worry" is attributed to St. Pio, but some of his other spiritual gems are not so well known:

Duty before everything else, even something holy.

Whenever necessary you must look without seeing, and see without thinking about it.

If Jesus reveals Himself, thank Him; if He hides Himself thank Him also.  All is a pleasantry of His love.

Always do a little work.  Work, therefore, and though you keep on advancing slowly, you will nevertheless go a long way.

When there is not time for both, meditation is to be preferred to vocal prayer, because it is more fruitful.

Despise your temptations and do not dwell on them.

Ahead! Courage!  In the spiritual life he who does not advance goes backward. 

Don't draw back, and worse still, don't stop going up the Calvary of life.  Jesus will extend His hand to steady you.

Walk in the way of the Lord with simplicity and do not torment your spirit.

Only one thing is necessary: to lift up your spirit and love God.

The time best spent is that which is spent for the glory of God and the salvation of souls.

EXCERPT ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN NETWORK: A Cure for Depression from St. Silouan the Athonite

In an interview I recently read, the Archimandrite Sophrony Sacharov, of blessed memory, at that time a younger monk, was asked by a visiting priest: “Fr. Sophrony, how will we be saved?” Fr. Sophrony prepared him a cup of tea, gave it to him, and told him, “Stand on the edge of the abyss of despair and when you feel that it is beyond your strength, break off and have a cup of tea.” Obviously this was a very odd answer, and the young priest was definitely confused. So off he went to St. Silouan the Athonite, who lived not far from there, and told him everything, asking for advice. Long story short, next day, St. Silouan came to the cell of Fr. Sophrony and the two started a conversation about salvation. The beautiful fruit of their conversation was an unforgettable phrase that I would like to also offer as the answer to our conversation today about depression: “Keep your mind in hell and despair not.”

At first glance, St. Silouan’s take on salvation is not less strange that Fr. Sophrony’s initial answer, but it actually makes great sense. In traditional Christianity, the difficulties of life, the hardships are assumed as part of our fallen existence. Our bodies and our minds suffer the torments, but this is nothing but a temporary stage. The ascetic Fathers considered them as tests on par with the athletic exercises, very useful in practicing and improving the powers of the soul like patience, kindness, hope, faith and so forth. We keep our mind in hell when we consciously assume the pain of living in a fallen world, when we learn from this passing agony to avoid the even greater torture of an eternity without Christ. But there is hope in this suffering because Christ himself has suffered them first and has opened for us a way out of despair, a way out of pain, a way out of death. Christ is the well of life, the bread of eternity, and the only Man we need.

So as Christians we keep our minds in hell and we despair not, but courageously give glory to God in all things, even in pain, hoping, always hoping, in our Savior, the only One who can take us out of the brink of despair and set us for a new life in Him. In Him we put our hope, in Him we find our purpose, and on Him we set our goal.

Through the intercessions of our Father among the Saints Silouan the Athonite, through the prayers of Fr. Sophrony of Essex, of all the ascetic Fathers and all the saints, O Lord of compassion and hope, have mercy on us and save us!

The Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Discretion 

55. A brother came to Poemen and said to him, 'Many thoughts come into my mind and put me in danger.' He sent him out into the open air, and said, 'Open your lungs and do not breathe.' He replied, 'I can't do that.' Then he said to him: 'Just as you can't stop air coming into your lungs, so you can't stop thoughts coming into your mind. Your part is to resist them.

September 3, 2014  

(Gal 6:7-9) Be not deceived: God is not mocked. For what things a man shall sow, those also shall he reap. For he that soweth in his flesh of the flesh also shall reap corruption. But he that soweth in the spirit of the spirit shall reap life everlasting. And in doing good, let us not fail. For in due time we shall reap, not failing.

ARCHBISHOP TOMASI: “In this tragic context of violence, the Church ‘s job is difficult but continuous.  The example of the Holy Father is clear: he continues to appeal to the international community and to all of us believers, to pray that the path to peace will be found, inviting everyone to negotiate and inviting the countries that are capable of stopping the aggressor - through the mechanisms of the United Nations -  (to take action).”

BREAKING: Video Shows Beheading of Second U.S. Journalist; 'I'm Back, Obama'

DEBKA: Amid a trail of Al Qaeda atrocities, world leaders call on someone else "to stamp out the disease"

US Secretary of State John Kerry tried to turn attention away from President Barack Obama highly-criticized  admission Thursday, Aug. 28, "We don't have a strategy yet" for dealing with Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq” - with an article in the New York Times, calling for a “coalition of nations… to stamp out the disease of the Islamic state group.” Obama said only that the strategy under preparation won’t be ready before next month.

DEBKAfile’s counter-terrorism sources note that until then, and until Kerry’s coalition of nations comes together and decides what to do, Al Qaeda’s IS’s campaign of bloody atrocities and conquests will remain unchecked. And so will the spread of what the British Prime Minister David Cameron called, in a special news conference Friday, “the poisonous ideology of Islamist extremism.” Cameron warned that, while there was much talk about the threat to Europe of returning home-grown Islamists, “IS is already here.”

The return of at least 500 people from fighting in Syria and Iraq "for Islamic State extremists attempting to establish a caliphate” represented a "greater and deeper threat to our security than we have known before.”
New laws, said the British premier, would make it easier to take passports away from people traveling abroad to join the conflict. Announcing the elevation of the UK terror threat from “substantial” to “severe,” Cameron cited the example of the British Islamist who took part in the beheading of the American journalist James Foley on Aug. 18.

MORE: Al Qaeda’s 9/11 anniversary attacks ready to go. New undetectable explosive may be used

BLOOMBERG OVERVIEW: A look at dangers posed by the Islamic State group

AINA NEWS: Timeline of ISIS in Iraq

The Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Discretion 

54. He also said, ' A grumbler is not a monk. Anyone who gives evil for evil is not a monk. An irritable man is not a monk.

September 2, 2014  

(Luk 2:34-35) And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother: Behold this child is set for the fall and for the resurrection of many in Israel and for a sign which shall be contradicted. And thy own soul a sword shall pierce, that, out of many hearts thoughts may be revealed.

COMMENTARY: Pope Francis and the ‘Borongan miracle’

FR. WILLIAM SAUNDERS: The Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows

Our Lady of the Rosary Library: A SOURCE OF GRACE AND CONSOLATION FOR ALL CHRISTIANS (from the booklet "Devotion to the Sorrowful Mother")

Devotion to the sorrows of Mary is a source of great graces because it is so pleasing to our Divine Lord. Many holy writers say that through her sufferings Mary placed an obligation, as it were upon her Son, which constrains Him to grant her whatever she asks of Him. As soon as we sympathize with the sorrows of His Mother, we draw our Saviour to ourselves. "He is," says St. Bernard, "at the disposal of those who devoutly meditate on the sufferings of His Mother." Our Lord once said to Bl. Veronica of Binasco: "My daughter, the tears which you shed in compassion for My sufferings are pleasing to Me, but bear in mind that on account of My excessive love for My Mother, the tears you shed in compassion for her sufferings are still more precious."

There are, indeed, few devotions for which our Saviour has made greater promises that for this one, and there are few that are more pleasing to Him.


Through her martyrdom, Mary has become in a special way the comforter of the afflicted. It was by her own experience of sorrow that she was taught the sympathy which enables her to comfort her children in all their afflictions. God gave her a mighty and a sympathetic heart for this great task.

For all God's children, the way to Heaven leads across the mount of Calvary -- the way of trial and suffering. In the company of our Sorrowful Mother, we walk more easily, fight more courageously, and suffer more patiently, perseveringly and joyfully; for she holds up before us not only the example of the sufferings and death of her Divine Son, but also the victory, the joy and the glory which He has won through His sufferings.

How often do we grow impatient, fainthearted, despondent and inconstant in suffering . . . how often without endurance, without resignation, full of complaints and murmurings! Oh, let us deeply engrave in our hearts the sorrows of Mary! May she, our Sorrowful Mother, ever be our model in suffering, in the patient endurance of trials, and in the humble acceptance of sorrows and afflictions. When the hand of God lays a heavy cross upon our shoulders, let us turn to Mary Sorrowing, and we shall obtain consolation and strength to carry the cross patiently and meritoriously.

The Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Discretion 

53. He also said, 'Evil cannot drive out evil. If anyone hurts you, do good to him and your good will destroy his evil.
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