Keep your eyes open!...


September 30, 2016  

(Mat 28:18-20) And Jesus coming, spoke to them, saying: All power is given to me in heaven and in earth. Going therefore, teach ye all nations: baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. And behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world.

ARCHBISHOP PAUL GALLAGHER: “Following in the footsteps of Pope Saint John Paul II, who visited Armenia in 2001, Georgia in November 1999 and Azerbaijan in May 2002, the Holy Father carries with him, to the Caucasus, a message of peace and harmony among the nations, together with a word of encouragement for the Catholic communities present in the three countries, where they constitute a rather small minority. In addition, these visits to the region help deepen relations with the Georgian Orthodox Church, while facilitating interreligious dialogue in Azerbaijan.”

VATICAN RADIO: Georgia's ambassador on expectations for papal visit

: On a "Journey of Peace" to Georgia and Azerbaijan

Pope Francis 16th journey outside of Italy from September 30 to October 2 to two countries, Georgia and Azerbaijan, where Catholics are a small minority, will be a difficult one. In Georgia, in fact, Catholics are just 112 thousand out of a population of over 3.5 million and in Azerbaijan they are just 570, or 0.01 per cent of the nearly 10 million inhabitants.

Beyond the numbers, they are two very different realities. Georgia is the country where over 80 percent of the inhabitants are Christians, but the Orthodox Church is particularly “intransigent” on its principles. This is demonstrated by its decision not to participate in the Pan-Orthodox Council that was held in Crete in June this year and the fact that between the Patriarch Ilia II and the Pope there will be no joint prayer.

The patriarch, however, will be at Tbilisi airport. This was announced by the director of the Vatican press office, Greg Burke, who described the visit today. "Of course - he said – it is a journey of peace. The Pope carries a message of reconciliation for the whole region. It will be the first time that an Orthodox delegation will participate in the Mass presided by the Holy Father ".In  short, things will go a bit' better the visit by John Paul II in November 1999, when a penance was imposed on those who had attended the celebrations and meetings with the Pope.

Instead Azerbaijan is a Muslim country and Francis, as John Paul II did before him, is going there for reasons of inter-religious relations, and political and diplomatic reasons, due to the decades-long conflict with Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh.

The Pope will leave Friday morning and will arrive in Tbilisi at 15 (local time). After the welcoming ceremony and the traditional courtesy visit to President Giorgi Margvelashvili and with the Georgian authorities, Francis will travel to the palace to meet with Catholicos Patriarch Elijah II.

The last appointment of the day, a visit to the Chaldean Catholic church of St. Simon Bar Sabbae, where he will attend the Chaldean Synod, namely the episcopate of the Eastern Church in communion with Rome widespread mainly in Iraq and the Middle East. In the church of St. Simon Bar Sabbae Pope Francis will preside at a prayer service to express closeness to the Syrian and Iraqi peoples.

BULLETIN: Statistics of the Catholic Church in Georgia and Azerbaijan, 26.09.2016

VATICAN RADIO: Details of Pope Francis' visit to Georgia and Azerbaijan

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

25. Both in creation and in compunction, there is that which moves itself and that which is moved by something else. When the soul becomes tearful, moist and tender without effort or trouble, then let us run, for the Lord has come uninvited, and is giving us the sponge of God-loving sorrow and the cool water of devout tears to wipe out the record of our sins. Guard these tears as the apple of your eye until they withdraw. Great is the power of this compunction, greater than that which comes as a result of our own effort and reflection.

September 28, 2016

(1Ti 6:11-12) But thou, O man of God, fly these things: and pursue justice, godliness, faith, charity, patience, mildness. Fight the good fight of faith. Lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art called and be it confessed a good confession before many witnesses.

POPE FRANCIS: “I am very happy to associate myself with the Bishops of Mexico, in supporting the commitment of the Church and of civil society in favor of the family and of life, which in this time require special pastoral and cultural attention in all the world. I assure my prayer for the dear Mexican people, that the violence, which has in recent days reached even several priests, might cease.”

CNA:  Mexicans flood the capital to defend marriage – with Pope Francis' blessing

Mexico Catholic Church Claims Censorship Over Marriage Equality Opposition

: Mexico: The world’s most dangerous place to be a priest

Fr Gregorio López Gorostieta thought he had done enough to stay safe on the night of December 21, 2014. He had spent a long day celebrating Masses and overseeing a religious festival at the cathedral of Ciudad Altamirano, in southwestern Mexico’s troubled Guerrero state. The end-of-year collection – to fund Asunción seminary, where he taught – had been substantial, so it was late when he finished counting the donations. At 11.30pm, he locked the money in the cathedral and drove back to the seminary. But the priest who locals nicknamed Goyito (“Little Greg”) never arrived.

Fr Fidencio Avellaneda, his colleague at the seminary, describes what happened next: “The seminarians say a group of armed men were waiting for him, because they wanted to rob him, thinking he had the money. When he refused [to give them money], they took him away.”

The disappearance of the well-liked priest – known for his voracious reading habits and crunching tackle on the football pitch – marked a turning point for locals. Another priest of the diocese, Fr Ascensión Acuña Osorio, had been found dead in a river in suspicious circumstances the previous September. November had brought news that the body of a third cleric, Fr John Ssenyondo, had been discovered in a mass grave in nearby Ocotitlán.

After Fr López Gorostieta disappeared, Ciudad Altamirano’s bishop, Maximino Martínez, led 30 priests and hundreds of protesters through the streets, demanding the priest’s return. But the protests were in vain: Padre Goyito’s body was found on Christmas Day, strangled and dumped at the edge of the Acapulco-Iguala highway.

“It hit us hard,” says Fr Avellaneda. “Gregorio was very dedicated, and he went about his ministry with real affection for the people.

“The real challenge is the same as ever: to stay safe. I no longer travel after dark, except when a parishioner is very sick. When I do, I always travel accompanied.”

Precautions like these – and tragic stories such as Fr López Gorostieta’s – are becoming the norm for Mexican priests.

Mexico is the second-largest Catholic country in the world, with almost 87 per cent of its 123 million citizens identifying with the faith. But Mexico is also the world’s most dangerous nation in which to be a Catholic priest. According to a recent report by the country’s Catholic Multimedia Centre, 38 priests have either died or vanished without trace in the past 25 years.


Catholic Church in Mexico upset over 'moral assassination' of murdered priests
Three Mexican priests murdered within days; motives unknown

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

24. Theology will not suit mourners, for it is of a nature to dissolve their mourning. For the theologian is like one who sits in a teacher's seat, whereas the mourner is like one who spends his days on a dungheap and in rags. That is why David, so I think, although he was a teacher and was wise, replied to those who questioned him when he was mourning: 'How shall I sing the Lord's song in a strange land? (Ps 136:5)- that is to say, the land of passions.

September 26, 2016

(Mat 22:20-21) And Jesus saith to them: Whose image and inscription is this? They say to him: Caesar's. Then he saith to them: Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's; and to God, the things that are God's.


SUMMARY: Democratic and Republican Platform on Abortion

The Democratic Platform:

"We will appoint judges who defend the constitutional principles of liberty and equality for all, and will protect a woman's right to safe and legal abortion" (page 25).

"We will fight Republican efforts to roll back the clock on woman's health and reproductive rights, and stand up for Planned Parenthood" (page 34).

"We will continue to oppose—and seek to overturn—federal and state laws and policies that impede a women's access to abortion, including by repealing the Hyde Amendment" (page 37).

[The 1976 Hyde Amendment is a legislative provision barring the use of certain federal funds to pay for abortion except to save the life of the mother. President Clinton added "or if the pregnancy arises from incest or rape."]

"We will support sexual and reproductive health and rights around the globe" (page 46).

The Republican Platform:

"We assert the sanctity of human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental right to life which cannot be infringed" (page 13).

"We support a human life amendment to the Constitution and legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment's protections apply to children before birth" (page 13).

"We oppose the use of public funds to perform or promote abortion or to fund organizations, like Planned Parenthood, so long as they provide or refer for elective abortions or sell fetal body parts rather than provide healthcare" (page 13).

"We support the appointment of judges who respect traditional family values and the sanctity of innocent human life" (page 13).

"We call for a permanent ban on federal funding and subsidies for abortion and healthcare plans that include abortion coverage" (page 37).

NCREGISTER: Contrasting Beliefs: How Trump and Clinton Are Wooing Religious Voters


I am committed to: 

CNA: Trump names 33 conservative Catholics as new advisers

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

23. In the case of tears, as in everything else, our good and just Judge will certainly take into consideration the strength of our nature. For I have seen small tear drops shed with difficulty like drops of blood, and I have also seen fountains of tears poured out without difficulty. And I judged those toilers more by their toil than by their tears, and I think that God does also.

September 23, 2016

(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.

ALETEIA: The Unknown Miracles of Padre Pio, Saint with the Stigmata

AUGUST, 2016: Baby on life support for 25 days recovers after father puts Padre Pio relic on bed

THIS WEEK: Large crowds expected for veneration of St. Padre Pio relic

: Rare Footage of a Day in the Life of Padre Pio


LINK: Close encounters with Padre Pio in the Confessional
Padre Pio spent most of his day hearing confessions.
From 1918 to 1923 he heard confessions fifteen to nineteen hours a day.
During the 40's and 50's about eight hours a day.
In 1962, 83.035 women and 19.837 men  registered for confession with Padre Pio: an average of about 273 per day.
In 1967 Padre Pio confessed about 15.000 women and 10.000 men. An average of 70 people per day.
Padre Pio's own words about confession
"It is a tremendous responsibility to sit in the tribunal of the confessional."
"God runs after the most stubborn souls. They cost him too much to abandon them."
After a day of confessions:  "Oh the souls! if you knew how much they cost!"        
"The sight of so many souls who wish to justify their evil ways pains me, exhausts my brain, and tears at my heart."
"Before reproaching a soul, I suffer it first. But it is not I who act, but He who is in me and above me."
"Sin to confession to sin without repentance is a deception of conscience; in essence a sacrilege."
"Among you I am your brother, on the Altar I am your victim, in the confessional I am your judge."

"Confession is the purification of the soul."
"Confession should be made no later than every eight days."
"Do not dwell on sins that have been already confessed. Jesus has forgiven them."
"Place a tombstone on the confessed sins, just as the Lord has done."
"I want to help Jesus in the tremendous task of man's salvation".
"The mercy of God, my son, is infinitely greater than your malice"
BRIEF BIO: Padre Pio, the people’s saint

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

22. Let your very dress urge you to the work of mourning, because all who lament the dead are dressed in black. If you do not mourn, mourn for this cause. And if you mourn, lament still more that, by your sins, you have brought yourself down from a state free of labours to one of labours.

September 21, 2016

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

INSIDE THE VATICAN: The Face of Christ and Unity

POPE FRANCIS: "There is no god of war. War, the inhumanity of a bomb that explodes, killing and injuring people, and cutting off humanitarian aid so that it cannot get to children, the elderly, the sick, is uniquely the work of “the evil one” who "wants to kill everyone. For this, it is necessary for all faiths to pray, even cry for peace - united in the conviction that "God is a God of peace."

"Do not turn a deaf ear: the world is suffering"!

EXCERPT VATICAN RADIO: Closing Address of His Holiness Pope Francis World Day of Prayer for Peace gathering in Assisi

I greet you with great respect and affection, and I thank you for your presence here.  We have come to Assisi as pilgrims in search of peace.  We carry within us and place before God the hopes and sorrows of many persons and peoples.  We thirst for peace.  We desire to witness to peace.  And above all, we need to pray for peace, because peace is God’s gift, and it lies with us to plead for it, embrace it, and build it every day with God’s help.

“Blessed are the peacemakers” (Mt 5:9). Many of you have travelled a great distance to reach this holy place.  You set out, and you come together in order to work for peace: these are not only physical movements, but most of all movements of the soul, concrete spiritual responses so as to overcome what is closed, and become open to God and to our brothers and sisters.  God asks this of us, calling us to confront the great sickness of our time: indifference.  It is a virus that paralyzes, rendering us lethargic and insensitive, a disease that eats away at the very heart of religious fervour, giving rise to a new and deeply sad paganism: the paganism of indifference.

We cannot remain indifferent.  Today the world has a profound thirst for peace.  In many countries, people are suffering due to wars which, though often forgotten, are always the cause of suffering and poverty.  In Lesbos, my dear brother, the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, and I saw the sorrow of war in the eyes of the refugees, the anguish of peoples thirsting for peace.  I am thinking of the families, whose lives have been shattered; of the children who have known only violence in their lives; of the elderly, forced to leave their homeland.  All of them have a great thirst for peace.  We do not want these tragedies to be forgotten.  Rather together we want to give voice to all those who suffer, to all those who have no voice and are not heard.  They know well, often better than the powerful, that there is no tomorrow in war, and that the violence of weapons destroys the joy of life.

We do not have weapons.  We believe, however, in the meek and humble strength of prayer.  On this day, the thirst for peace has become a prayer to God, that wars, terrorism and violence may end.  The peace which we invoke from Assisi is not simply a protest against war, nor is it “a result of negotiations, political compromises or economic bargaining.  It is the result of prayer” (John Paul II, Address, Basilica of Saint Mary of the Angels, 27 October 1986: Insegnamenti IX,2 [1986], 1252). We seek in God, who is the source of communion, the clear waters of peace for which humanity thirsts: these waters do not flow from the deserts of pride and personal interests, from the dry earth of profit at any cost and the arms trade.

Peace, a thread of hope that unites earth to heaven, a word so simple and difficult at the same time.  Peace means Forgiveness, the fruit of conversion and prayer, that is born from within and that, in God’s name, makes it possible to heal old wounds.  Peace means Welcome, openness to dialogue, the overcoming of closed-mindedness, which is not a strategy for safety, but rather a bridge over an empty space.  Peace means Cooperation, a concrete and active exchange with another, who is a gift and not a problem, a brother or sister with whom to build a better world.  Peace denotes Education, a call to learn every day the challenging art of communion, to acquire a culture of encounter, purifying the conscience of every temptation to violence and stubbornness which are contrary to the name of God and human dignity.

We who are here together and in peace believe and hope in a fraternal world.  We desire that men and women of different religions may everywhere gather and promote harmony, especially where there is conflict.  Our future consists in living together.  For this reason we are called to free ourselves from the heavy burdens of distrust, fundamentalism and hate.  Believers should be artisans of peace in their prayers to God and in their actions for humanity!  As religious leaders, we are duty bound to be strong bridges of dialogue, creative mediators of peace.  We turn to those who hold the greatest responsibility in the service of peoples, to the leaders of nations, so that they may not tire of seeking and promoting ways of peace, looking beyond their particular interests and those of the moment: may they not remain deaf to God’s appeal to their consciences, to the cry of the poor for peace and to the healthy expectations of younger generations.  Here, thirty years ago, Pope John Paul II said: “Peace is a workshop, open to all and not just to specialists, savants and strategists. Peace is a universal responsibility (Address, Lower Piazza of the Basilica of Saint Francis, 27 October 1986: l.c., 1269). Let us assume this responsibility, reaffirming today our “yes” to being, together, builders of the peace that God wishes for us and for which humanity thirsts.

CATHOLIC REVIEW: Religious leaders praise Patriarch Bartholomew as a great ecumenist

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

21. Let the remembrance of the eternal fire lie down with you every evening, and let it rise up with you too. Then sloth will never overwhelm you at the time of psalmody.

September 19, 2016

(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.

FR. AMORTH: “I, afraid of that beast? It is he who should be afraid of me: I work in the name of the Lord of the world. He is just the monkey of God.”


Father Gabriele Amorth, chief exorcist of Rome, has died. After struggling with illness for several days in the hospital of Santa Lucia in Rome, the influential priest passed away Friday.

Ordained a priest in 1954, he was officially appointed exorcist for the diocese of Rome in 1986, training under Fr. Candido Amantini. In 1990, Amorth founded the International Association of Exorcists and remained president until he retired in 2000.

Amorth claimed he had exorcised more than 70,000 individuals over the course of his lifetime, although he clarified that cases of genuine demonic possession are rare.

Speaking of Satan, he once said, "The devil is not everywhere, but when he is present it is painful."
"The devil is pure spirit, invincible," he explained. "He is shown with the painful blasphemies coming from the person which he possesses. He can stay hidden. He can speak different languages. He can transform himself."
And in a moment of frankness, he once admitted, "The devil resides in the Vatican," citing as proof cardinals and bishops who have lost the Faith as well as prelates who covered up sex abuse.
An outspoken advocate of the ministry of exorcism, he fully supported the Vatican's decision to have every diocese in the world appoint an exorcist. In Amorth's own lifetime, he saw the number of exorcists grow in Italy in the 1980s from only 20 to now more than 300, with a corresponding spike in demand for exorcisms. And here in the United States, the number of exorcists has grown from only a dozen total a decade ago to nearly 200 — one in each diocese.
Speaking of the rise in demand for exorcisms, Fr. Amorth commented, "People have lost the Faith, and superstition, magic, Satanism or ouija boards have taken its place, which then open all the doors to the presence of demons."
"The Devil is gaining ground," he warned elsewhere. "We are living in an age when faith is diminishing. If you abandon God, the Devil will take his place."

SPIRITDAILY: An Interview With Father Gabriele Amorth: The Church's Leading Exorcist

ST. PETER'S LIST: Five Prayers Recommended by an Exorcist to Combat Evil

EWTN BIO: Father Amorth was born in Modena in northern Italy on May 1, 1925.  He entered the mother house of the Congregation of the Society of St. Paul in Alba in August 1947, five years after meeting its founder, Blessed James Alberione. He was ordained a priest on Jan. 24, 1951.

In 1985, Cardinal Ugo Poletti, the Vicar General of the Diocese of Rome, appointed him exorcist of the diocese.  He performed an estimated 70,000 exorcisms, often repeating the rite on the same persons.

Father Amorth drew much publicity for his books explaining his work and his public statements on the demonic.

In an April 2015 Facebook post, he attributed the Islamic State group to demonic influence.

“ISIS is Satan. Things first happen in the spiritual realms, then they are made concrete on this earth,” he said. He added that evil is “disguised” in various political, cultural and religious ways, with one source of inspiration in the devil.

“As a Christian I fight the beast spiritually,” Fr. Amorth said. “Biblically speaking we are in the last days and the beast is working furiously.”

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

20. The seas wastes with time, as Job says (Job 14:11). And with time and patience, the things of which we have spoken are gradually acquired and perfected in us.

September 16, 2016

(Jud 1:17-21) But you, my dearly beloved, be mindful of the words which have been spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who told you that in the last time there should come mockers, walking according to their own desires in ungodlinesses. These are they who separate themselves, sensual men, having not the Spirit. But you, my beloved, building yourselves upon your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, Keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, unto life everlasting.

EXCERPT ARCHBISHOP CHAPUT: Sex, family and the liberty of the Church

I’ve been a priest for 46 years. During that time I’ve heard something more than 12,000 personal confessions and done hundreds of spiritual direction sessions. That’s a lot of listening. When you spend several thousand hours of your life, as most priests do, hearing the failures and hurts in people’s lives — men who beat their wives; women who cheat on their husbands; the addicts to porn or alcohol or drugs; the thieves, the hopeless, the self-satisfied and the self-hating — you get a pretty good picture of the world as it really is, and its effect on the human soul.

The confessional is more real than any reality show because nobody’s watching. It’s just you, God and the penitents, and the suffering they bring with them.

As a priest, what’s most striking to me about the last five decades is the huge spike in people — both men and women — confessing promiscuity, infidelity, sexual violence and sexual confusion as an ordinary part of life, and the massive role of pornography in wrecking marriages, families and even the vocations of clergy and religious.

In a sense, this shouldn’t surprise. Sex is powerful. Sex is attractive. Sex is a basic appetite and instinct. Our sexuality is tied intimately to who we are; how we search for love and happiness; how we defeat the pervasive loneliness in life; and, for most people, how we claim some little bit of permanence in the world and its story by having children.

The reason Pope Francis so forcefully rejects “gender theory” is not just because it lacks scientific support — though it certainly has that problem. Gender theory is a kind of metaphysics that subverts the very nature of sexuality by denying the male-female complementarity encoded into our bodies. In doing that, it attacks a basic building block of human identity and meaning — and by extension, the foundation of human social organization.

But let’s get back to the confessional. Listening to people’s sexual sins in the Sacrament of Penance is hardly new news. But the scope, the novelty, the violence and the compulsiveness of the sins are. And remember that people only come to Confession when they already have some sense of right and wrong; when they already understand, at least dimly, that they need to change their lives and seek God’s mercy.

That word “mercy” is worth examining. Mercy is one of the defining and most beautiful qualities of God. Pope Francis rightly calls us to incarnate it in our own lives this year. Unfortunately, it’s also a word we can easily misuse to avoid the hard work of moral reasoning and judgment. Mercy means nothing – it’s just an exercise in sentimentality – without clarity about moral truth.

We can’t show mercy to someone who owes us nothing; someone who’s done nothing wrong. Mercy implies a pre-existing act of injustice that must be corrected. And satisfying justice requires a framework of higher truth about human meaning and behavior. It requires an understanding of truth that establishes some things as good and others as evil; some things as life-giving and others that are destructive.

Here’s why that’s important. The truth about our sexuality is that infidelity, promiscuity, sexual confusion and mass pornography create human wreckage. Multiply that wreckage by tens of millions of persons over five decades. Then compound it with media nonsense about the innocence of casual sex and the “happy” children of friendly divorces. What you get is what we have now: a dysfunctional culture of frustrated and wounded people increasingly incapable of permanent commitments, self-sacrifice and sustained intimacy, and unwilling to face the reality of their own problems.

This has political consequences. People unwilling to rule their appetites will inevitably be ruled by them — and eventually, they’ll be ruled by someone else. People too weak to sustain faithful relationships are also too weak to be free. Sooner or later they surrender themselves to a state that compensates for their narcissism and immaturity with its own forms of social control.

People too worried or self-focused to welcome new life, to bear and raise children in a loving family, and to form them in virtue and moral character, are writing themselves out of the human story. They’re extinguishing their own future. This is what makes the resistance of so many millennials to having children so troubling.[1] The future belongs to people who believe in something beyond themselves, and who live and sacrifice accordingly. It belongs to people who think and hope inter-generationally. If you want a portrait of what I mean, consider this: The most common name given to newborn male babies in London for the past four years in a row is Muhammad. This, in the city of Thomas More.

Weak and selfish individuals make weak and selfish marriages. Weak and selfish marriages make broken families. And broken families continue and spread the cycle of dysfunction. They do it by creating more and more wounded individuals. A vast amount of social data shows that children from broken families are much more likely to live in poverty, to be poorly educated, and to have more emotional and physical health issues than children from intact families. In other words, when healthy marriages and families decline, the social costs rise.

The family is where children discover how to be human. It’s where they learn how to respect and love other people; where they see their parents sacrificing for the common good of the household; and where they discover their place in a family story larger than themselves. Raising children is beautiful but also hard work. It’s a task for unselfish, devoted parents. And parents need the friendship and support of other like-minded parents. It takes parents to raise a child, not a legion of professional experts, as helpful as they can sometimes be.

Only a mother and father can provide the intimacy of maternal and paternal love. Many single parents do a heroic job of raising good children, and they deserve our admiration and praise. But only a mother and father can offer the unique kind of human love rooted in flesh and blood; the kind that comes from mutual submission and self-giving; the kind that comes from the complementarity of sexual difference.

No parents do this perfectly. Some fail badly. Too often the nature of modern American life helps and encourages them to fail. But in trying, parents pass along to the next generation an absolutely basic truth. It’s the truth that things like love, faith, trust, patience, understanding, tenderness, fidelity and courage really do matter, and they provide the foundation for a fully human life.

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

19. When we suffer from the superior honourable dishonour, scolding or punishment, let us remember the fearful sentence of the Judge, and we shall kill with meekness and patience, as with a two-edged sword, the irrational sorrow and bitterness which will certainly be sown in us.

September 15, 2016

(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.

ST. BERNARD: "Truly, O Blessed Mother, a sword has pierced your heart.... He died in body through a love greater than anyone had known. She died in spirit through a love unlike any other since His".

CERC: The Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows by Fr. William Saunders

ESSAY CWR: The Virgin Mary, Faith in Christ, and Ecumenism

: Our Lady of Sorrows

This feast dates back to the 12th century. It was especially promoted by the Cistercians and the Servites, so much so that in the 14th and 15th centuries it was widely celebrated throughout the Catholic Church.

In 1482 the feast was added to the Missal under the title of "Our Lady of Compassion." Pope Benedict XIII added it to the Roman Calendar in 1727 on the Friday before Palm Sunday. In 1913, Pope Pius X fixed the date on September 15.

The title "Our Lady of Sorrows" focuses on Mary's intense suffering during the passion and death of Christ. "The Seven Dolors," the title by which it was celebrated in the 17th century, referred to the seven swords that pierced the Heart of Mary. The feast is like an octave for the birthday of Our Lady on September 8th.

The Blessed Virgin Mary grants seven graces to the souls who honor her daily by saying seven Hail Mary's and meditating on her tears and dolors (sorrows).  The devotion was passed on by St. Bridget.
The Rosary of the Seven Dolors of the Blessed Virgin Mary is, in effect, a way of holding in one‘s heart certain events in the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ and the Compassion of His Virgin Mother. The fruits of this particular prayer are compunction of heart, detachment from the occasions of sin, chastity, humility, reparation, compassion, intimacy with the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, and desire to contemplate the Face of Christ. The power of this prayer — something that many have experienced — comes from allowing one's own heart to be irrigated and purified by the tears of the Mother of God. The tears of the Sorrowful Mother bring purity and healing wherever they fall.
The Friar Servants of Mary began praying the Rosary of the Seven Sorrows of Mary in the 13th century. It is a Rosary that seeks to share and meditate on the suffering of Mary in union with Her Divine Son, Jesus. There are various forms of this Rosary, but they all serve to focus our hearts on Seven Sorrows of Our Lady.
The Seven Sorrows (or Dolors) are events in the life of the Blessed Virgin Mary
And it is common to say daily one Our Father and seven Hail Marys for each Sorrow. 

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

18. Let your reclining in bed be for you an image of your declining into the grave, and you will sleep less. Let your refreshment at table be for you a reminder of the grim table of those worms, and you will be less indulgent. And in drinking water, do not forget the thirst in that flame, and you will certainly do violence to your nature.

September 14, 2016

(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.

HOMILY by St John Chrysostom:
Adam and Christ, Eve and Mary

Have you seen the wonderful victory? Have you seen the splendid deeds of the Cross? Shall I tell you something still more marvellous? Learn in what way the victory was gained, and you will be even more astonished. For by the very means by which the devil had conquered, by these Christ conquered him; and taking up the weapons with which he had fought, he defeated him. Listen to how it was done.

  A virgin, a tree and a death were the symbols of our defeat. The virgin was Eve: she had not yet known man; the tree was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; the death was Adam’s penalty. But behold again a Virgin and a tree and a death, those symbols of defeat, become the symbols of his victory. For in place of Eve there is Mary; in place of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, the tree of the Cross; in place of the death of Adam, the death of Christ.

  Do you see him defeated by the very things through which he had conquered? At the foot of the tree the devil overcame Adam; at the foot of the tree Christ vanquished the devil. And that first tree sent men to Hades; this second one calls back even those who had already gone down there. Again, the former tree concealed man already despoiled and stripped; the second tree shows a naked victor on high for all to see. And that earlier death condemned those who were born after it; this second death gives life again to those who were born before it. Who can tell the Lord’s mighty deeds? By death we were made immortal: these are the glorious deeds of the Cross.

  Have you understood the victory? Have you grasped how it was wrought? Learn now, how this victory was gained without any sweat or toil of ours. No weapons of ours were stained with blood; our feet did not stand in the front line of battle; we suffered no wounds; witnessed no tumults; and yet we obtained the victory. The battle was the Lord’s, the crown is ours. Since then victory is ours, let us imitate the soldiers, and with joyful voices sing the songs of victory. Let us praise the Lord and say,

Death is swallowed up in victory.
O death, where is thy victory?
O death, where is thy sting?

The Cross did all these wonderful things for us: the Cross is a war memorial erected against the demons, a sword against sin, the sword with which Christ slew the serpent. The Cross is the Father’s will, the glory of the Only-begotten, the Spirit’s exultation, the beauty of the angels, the guardian of the Church. Paul glories in the Cross; it is the rampart of the saints, it is the light of the whole world.

OSV: Are These the Bloodstains of Jesus? The intriguing story of an ancient relic

EXCERPT CATHOLIC STRAIGHT ANSWERS: What is the Sudarium of Oviedo?

The sudarium is a linen cloth measuring 85.5 by 52.6 cm. (or 34 by 21 in.). It was wrapped around the head of an adult male who had a beard and mustache with his hair tied in the back. Blood stains are present, but no image appears.

The sudarium dates to the time of the Roman empire. The weave of the line uses a “Z twist,” indicating it was produced between 400 B.C. and 500 A.D. The Shroud of Turin uses the same “Z twist.”

Some 141 pollen grains and 10 fungus spores were discovered on the sudarium; 99 percent were endemic to the Mediterranean region. Three plant species were identified that grow only in Palestine — the terebinth, tamarisk and the batha oak. Two other native plant residues found were that of the “Rocks Rose” (Cistus creticus) and Goundelia tournefortii, which may have been used for Jesus’ crown of thorns. All of these can be found within a radius of 20 km. of Jerusalem and blossom in the spring (around Passover time). These pollens also appear on the Shroud of Turin; however, there are pollens of Spain found on the sudarium which do not appear on the shroud (which is kept in Milan) and vice versa.

Traces of myrrh and aloe were found. Remember: Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloe for the burial of Jesus (Jn 19:39).

Two kinds of blood are on the cloth: First, around the nose and the mouth, there are traces of blood and other liquid from the pulmonary edema that was caused from asphyxia (the ultimate cause of death by crucifixion); this blood would have been discharged when the body was removed from the cross. Second, traces of blood around the head were found, caused by the crown of thorns. The blood stains of the sudarium and the shroud match. Also, the blood from both thesudarium and Shroud of Turin belonged to a male with type AB blood.

Finally, if the sudarium is placed on the facial image of the Shroud of Turin and the Veil of Manoppello (believed to be St. Veronica’s veil), it is apparent that all of them depict the image of the same man.

The sudarium is kept in a reliquary at the Cathedral of Oviedo. It is displayed three times a year: on the feast of the Exultation of the Holy Cross (Sept. 14), the feast of St. Matthew (Sept. 21) and Good Friday.

While belief in the authenticity of the sudarium as well as the Shroud of Turin and the Veil of Manoppello are not articles of faith, these relics aid our appreciation for what Our Lord suffered for our salvation and can only increase our devotion. We are left, then, with that great adage: “For those who believe, no explanation is necessary; for those who do not, no explanation is possible.”

REVIEW:  The Sudarium of Oviedo and the Shroud of Turin

: Close up of the Sudarium of Oviedo during the Exaltation of Holy Cross procession at the Cathedral of Oviedo Spain

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

17. When they weep, some force themselves unseasonably to think of nothing at all during this blessed time, not realizing that tears without thought are proper only to an irrational nature and not to a rational one. Tears are a product of thought, and the father of thought is a rational mind.

September 13, 2016  

(1Pe 4:12-14) Dearly beloved, think not strange the burning heat which is to try you: as if some new thing happened to you. But if you partake of the sufferings of Christ, rejoice that, when his glory shall be revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. If you be reproached for the name of Christ, you shall be blessed: for that which is of the honour, glory and power of God, and that which is his Spirit resteth upon you.

WND: A Brief, Brutal History of the Middle East

OPINION: Time for Catholics to Reconsider Islam and the "Prophet" Muhammad?

EXCERPT NCR: 100 Years of Genocide: Christians Under Siege in Iraq and Syria Featured in New Film

Hundreds of people quietly wept as a young Christian boy sobbed, “They are beasts. They didn’t leave us anything!” describing the Islamic State’s genocidal liquidation of his town in the film Our Last Stand, which premiered in New York City on Aug. 19.

The new documentary provides viewers unprecedented insight into the suffering and resilience of Christian communities in Iraq and Syria.

Our Last Stand is already gaining acclaim: Within days of its first public screening, it won “Best Feature Documentary” and “Best Director” awards at Revolution Me, an independent film festival showcasing new talent.

Three aspects of the film make it a particularly faith-filled project and product: the film’s focus on selflessly heroic people who serve others in essential ways; the convictions motivating Allott and Adde, whose bravery carries the story; and its message that Western audiences should listen to what indigenous people themselves want and insist their governments act on behalf of regular people, not geopolitical interests.

A priest who turned a church garden into a school for displaced children and residences for their families, a volunteer coordinator of aid in an Erbil refugee camp and young fighters building defensive forces are among the people viewers meet in Our Last Stand.

Father Douglas Bazi is a Chaldean Catholic priest who has created a refugee center dedicated to education. He runs the Mar Elia Center in Ankawa, a Christian area of Erbil in Kurdistan. It is an area of northern Iraq controlled by the Kurds, an ethnic group that considers the Islamic State an enemy.

The 564 residents of Mar Elia were among 125,000 Christians who fled Mosul, Qaraqosh and the Nineveh Plain when IS abruptly descended on them two years ago.

In the film, Father Bazi cheerfully draws with children, checks on pots for dinner, chides young men who are not including women in a volleyball game, and lists the names of babies born in the community — energetically defying hopelessness.

“What we miss in our country [Iraq] is leaders. We have a lot of bosses, but few leaders, so we are preparing them here,” he said. The priest said he was criticized at first for collecting books and musical instruments for refugee children, but now many see the value in his strategy.

Incredibly, Father Bazi was the victim of a sadistic kidnapping in Baghdad in 2006. Islamic militants tortured him for nine days, smashing his mouth with a hammer and breaking his vertebrae, for being an “infidel.” The priest was freed after the Chaldean Catholic Church paid a ransom.

His captors asked for forgiveness before letting him go.

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BLOG: They asked St Cyril in the Saracen camp: ‘As a Christian, is it possible to wage war and also to fulfil Christ’s command to pray to God for your enemies?’ To this St Cyril replied: ‘If, in one law, there are two commandments written and given to men to fulfil, which man would the better fulfil the law—he who fulfils one commandment or he who fulfils both?’ To this the Saracens replied: ‘Undoubtedly, he who fulfils both.’ St Cyril continued: ‘Christ our God commands us to pray to God for all those who persecute us, and to do good to them, but He has also said to us: “Greater love hath no man than this: that a man lay down his life for his friends” [John 15:13]. And we therefore submit to the insults that our enemies cast at us individually, and pray to God for them, but as a group we defend one another and lay down our lives for one another, so that you wouldn’t, by enslaving our brothers, take away their souls along with their bodies and kill them off completely.’

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

16. It is not to a wedding banquet that we have been called here- certainly not- but He who has called us has called us here to mourn for ourselves.

September 8, 2016  

(Gen 3:15) I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed: she shall cursh thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel.


The Catholic Church observes the actual birthday (the day they were born) of only two saints: Saint John the Baptist (June 24), and Mary, Mother of Jesus (8th September). In the case of all other saints, especially martyrs, they are venerated on the day of their death, which is called their dies natalis, or “birthday”, meaning “the day of their birth into heaven”. Patrick Duffy touches on the theme of joy and some of the history of this feast.

The joy of the feast

The Benedictus antiphon at Morning Prayer sums up the joy of this feast:  Your birth, O Virgin Mother of God, announced joy to the whole world, for from you has risen the Sun of Justice, Christ our God. He released us from the ancient curse and made us blessed; he destroyed death and gave us eternal life.

Origin in St Ann’s Basilica, Jerusalem

The origin of the liturgy of this feast can be traced to the consecration of the church in Jerusalem in the 6th century that has been traditionally known as the Basilica of St. Ann, the mother of Our lady. The original church built in the 5th century was a Marian basilica erected on the spot known as the shepherd’s field and thought to have been the home of Mary’s parents. After its destruction and reconstruction in the 6th century, it was named in honor of St. Ann.

Introduced to Rome

By the 7th century the liturgy of the feast was introduced to Rome by monks from the East, where Pope Sergius I (687-701) solemnised it with a litania, that is, a procession with prayers. The procession went from the Roman Forum to the Basilica of St. Mary Major’s.

The date

The date, 8th September, was chosen as the 8th day (an octave) after the start of the Byzantine New Year and although it was celebrated on various other dates through the centuries, 8th September predominated. Later, the feast celebrating Mary’s Immaculate Conception, was set to correspond with it, nine months beforehand, on 8th December.

Mary is the Ark of the New Covenant

In the East, Mary’s birthday is celebrated as one of the twelve great liturgies. The title for the liturgy in the East: “The Birth of Our Exalted Queen, the Birthgiver of God and Ever-Virgin Mary”. The oldest existing sermon for the liturgy was written by St. Andrew of Crete (660-740):

The present feast forms a link between the New and the Old Testament. It shows that Truth succeeds symbols and figures and that the New Covenant replaces the Old. Hence, all creation sings with joy, exults, and participates in the joy of this day. … This is, in fact, the day on which the Creator of the world constructed His temple; today is the day on which, by a stupendous project, a creature becomes the preferred dwelling of the Creator.

SERMON ST ANDREW, ARCHBISHOP OF CRETE: On the Nativity of the Virgin Mary

ST AUGUSTINE: “The Hoped for day of the blessed and venerable Virgin Mary ever a Virgin has now come; therefore let our earth rejoice with great gladness, illuminated by the birth of so great a Virgin.  For she is the flower of the field from which came forth the priceless lily of the valley; by her child-bearing the nature inherited from our first parents is changed, their fault wiped out.  In her the sentence passed on Eve was remitted which said, “In sorrow shall you bring forth children,” for Mary brought forth the Lord in joy.

Eve sorrowed, but Mary exulted; Eve carried weeping in her womb, but Mary carried joy, for Eve brought forth a sinner, but Mary innocence herself.  The mother of our race brought punishment into the world, but the Mother of our Lord brought salvation into the world.  Eve was the source of sin, Mary the source of merit.  Eve by killing was a hindrance, Mary by giving life was a help.  Ever wounded, Mary healed.  Obedience takes place of disobedience, faith makes up for faithlessness.

Mary may now play on her instruments, the Mother strikes the cymbals with swift fingers.  The joyful choruses may sound out and songs alternate with sweet harmonies.  Hear, then, how the she sings, she who leads our chorus.  For she says, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior; because He has regarded the lowliness of His handmaid; for, behold, hence forth all generations shall call me blessed because He who is mighty has done great things for me.”  And so the miraculous new birth takes away the cause of our increasing burden of sin, and Mary’s song puts an end to the weeping Eve.”

Ancient Prayer In Honour of Our Lady's Nativity by St. Anselm:  Vouchsafe that I may praise thee, O sacred Virgin; give me strength against thine enemies, and against the enemy of the whole human race. Give me strength humbly to pray to thee. Give me strength to praise thee in prayer with all my powers, through the merits of thy most sacred nativity, which for the entire Christian world was a birth of joy, the hope and solace of its life.

When thou wast born, O most holy Virgin, then was the world made light.

Happy is thy stock, holy thy root, and blessed thy fruit, for thou alone as a virgin, filled with the Holy Spirit, didst merit to conceive thy God, as a virgin to bear Thy God, as a virgin to bring Him forth, and after His birth to remain a virgin.

Have mercy therefore upon me a sinner, and give me aid, O Lady, so that just as thy nativity, glorious from the seed of Abraham, sprung from the tribe of Juda, illustrious from the stock of David, didst announce joy to the entire world, so may it fill me with true joy and cleanse me from every sin.

Pray for me, O Virgin most prudent, that the gladsome joys of thy most helpful nativity may put a cloak over all my sins.

O holy Mother of God, flowering as the lily, pray to thy sweet Son for me, a wretched sinner.

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

15. Be concentrated without self-display, withdrawn into your heart. For the demons fear concentration as thieves fear dogs.

September 6, 2016

(Mat 9:13) Go then and learn what this meaneth, I will have mercy and not sacrifice. For I am not come to call the just, but sinners.

Memories and Images: On Her Feast Day, a Look at Moments With Mother Teresa of Calcutta

: Homily for the Canonization of Mother Teresa

“Who can learn the counsel of God?”  (Wis 9:13).  This question from the Book of Wisdom that we have just heard in the first reading suggests that our life is a mystery and that we do not possess the key to understanding it.  There are always two protagonists in history: God and man.  Our task is to perceive the call of God and then to do his will.  But in order to do his will, we must ask ourselves, “What is God’s will in my life?”

We find the answer in the same passage of the Book of Wisdom: “People were taught what pleases you” (Wis 9:18).  In order to ascertain the call of God, we must ask ourselves and understand what pleases God.  On many occasions the prophets proclaimed what was pleasing to God.  Their message found a wonderful synthesis in the words “I want mercy, not sacrifice” (Hos 6:6; Mt 9:13).  God is pleased by every act of mercy, because in the brother or sister that we assist, we recognize the face of God which no one can see (cf. Jn 1:18).  Each time we bend down to the needs of our brothers and sisters, we give Jesus something to eat and drink; we clothe, we help, and we visit the Son of God (cf. Mt 25:40).

We are thus called to translate into concrete acts that which we invoke in prayer and profess in faith.  There is no alternative to charity: those who put themselves at the service of others, even when they don’t know it, are those who love God (cf. 1 Jn 3:16-18; Jas 2:14-18).  The Christian life, however, is not merely extending a hand in times of need.  If it is just this, it can be, certainly, a lovely expression of human solidarity which offers immediate benefits, but it is sterile because it lacks roots.  The task which the Lord gives us, on the contrary, is the vocation to charity in which each of Christ’s disciples puts his or her entire life at his service, so to grow each day in love.

We heard in the Gospel, “Large crowds were travelling with Jesus” (Lk 14:25).  Today, this “large crowd” is seen in the great number of volunteers who have come together for the Jubilee of Mercy.  You are that crowd who follows the Master and who makes visible his concrete love for each person.  I repeat to you the words of the Apostle Paul: “I have indeed received much joy and comfort from your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you” (Philem 1:7).  How many hearts have been comforted by volunteers!  How many hands they have held; how many tears they have wiped away; how much love has been poured out in hidden, humble and selfless service! This praiseworthy service gives voice to the faith and expresses the mercy of the Father, who draws near to those in need.

Following Jesus is a serious task, and, at the same time, one filled with joy; it takes a certain daring and courage to recognize the divine Master in the poorest of the poor and to give oneself in their service.  In order to do so, volunteers, who out of love of Jesus serve the poor and the needy, do not expect any thanks or recompense; rather they renounce all this because they have discovered true love.  Just as the Lord has come to meet me and has stooped down to my level in my hour of need, so too do I go to meet him, bending low before those who have lost faith or who live as though God did not exist, before young people without values or ideals, before families in crisis, before the ill and the imprisoned, before refugees and immigrants, before the weak and defenceless in body and spirit, before abandoned children, before the elderly who are on their own.  Wherever someone is reaching out, asking for a helping hand in order to get up, this is where our presence – and the presence of the Church which sustains and offers hope – must be.

Mother Teresa, in all aspects of her life, was a generous dispenser of divine mercy, making herself available for everyone through her welcome and defence of human life, those unborn and those abandoned and discarded.  She was committed to defending life, ceaselessly proclaiming that “the unborn are the weakest, the smallest, the most vulnerable”.   She bowed down before those who were spent, left to die on the side of the road, seeing in them their God-given dignity; she made her voice heard before the powers of this world, so that they might recognize their guilt for the crime of poverty they created.  For Mother Teresa, mercy was the “salt” which gave flavour to her work, it was the “light” which shone in the darkness of the many who no longer had tears to shed for their poverty and suffering.

Her mission to the urban and existential peripheries remains for us today an eloquent witness to God’s closeness to the poorest of the poor.  Today, I pass on this emblematic figure of womanhood and of consecrated life to the whole world of volunteers: may she be your model of holiness!  May this tireless worker of mercy help us to increasingly understand that our only criterion for action is gratuitous love, free from every ideology and all obligations, offered freely to everyone without distinction of language, culture, race or religion.  Mother Teresa loved to say, “Perhaps I don’t speak their language, but I can smile”.  Let us carry her smile in our hearts and give it to those whom we meet along our journey, especially those who suffer.  In this way, we will open up opportunities of joy and hope for our many brothers and sisters who are discouraged and who stand in need of understanding and tenderness.


Pope recalls "the many religious women who give their lives without sparing"
Sister Prema: "Thanks to Pope Francis, who chose Mother Teresa as an icon of mercy "
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Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 7- "On Joy-Making Mourning"

14. He who sometimes mourns, and sometimes indulges in luxury and laughter, is like one who stones the dog of sensuality with bread. In appearance he is driving it away, but in fact he is encouraging it to be constantly with him.

September 2, 2016

(Mat 25:37-40) Then shall the just answer him, saying: Lord, when did we see thee hungry and fed thee: thirsty and gave thee drink? Or when did we see thee a stranger and took thee in? Or naked and covered thee? Or when did we see thee sick or in prison and came to thee? And the king answering shall say to them: Amen I say to you, as long as you did it to one of these my least brethren, you did it to me.

MOTHER TERESA: “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”

Mother Teresa will Become 'St. Teresa of Calcutta' on September 4

EXCERPT CATHOLIC WORLD REPORT: Cardinal Raymond Burke on Mother Teresa

Reflecting on the upcoming canonization of Mother Teresa by Pope Francis on Sunday, September 4th, Cardinal Burke expressed his happiness that the famous nun will be named a saint, saying "she has been an inspiration to me from my years in the seminary when I first came to know her".

One most striking thing about Mother Teresa, he said, was how she focused on one person at a time. Her response to those who wondered how she could deal with all of the challenges faced in her work was "we can only love one person at a time and so she went out with her sisters and picked up one dying person at a time and took them to the home for the dying". She would help one mother at a time, one homeless person at a time: "This was the genius of Mother Teresa; Christ was so much alive in her that in facing the most overwhelming situations ...  she had the grace to know that 'I what can do is to address this with the gift that I have, respecting each individual person..."

Mother Teresa can teach us, Cardinal Burke noted, that no matter what we're doing, the most important thing is that we bring love to those who are in need, "genuine, selfless, pure love—and then everything else we do, beyond that, has its ultimate good effect." He pointed out how Mother Teresa insisted that the greatest poverty in the world was "the fear of life", even or especially among nations wealthy in material terms but supporing the practice of abortion. She is a "brilliant teacher to us" in addressing difficulties—complications with a pregnancy, a serious illness, and so forth—on a practical level because she teaches us that "the way to address these issues is with respect for the individual human life and in that way" people will find the true happiness and fulfillment they are seeking.

NCREGISTER:  How to Pray Mother Teresa’s Famous “Flying Novena” to Our Lady

: A saint despite spiritual ‘darkness’

When Pope Francis canonizes Mother Teresa on Sunday, he’ll be honoring a nun who won admirers around the world and a Nobel Peace Prize for her joy-filled dedication to the “poorest of the poor.” He’ll also be recognizing holiness in a woman who felt so abandoned by God that she was unable to pray and was convinced, despite her ever-present smile, that she was experiencing the “tortures of hell.”

For nearly 50 years, Mother Teresa endured what the church calls a “dark night of the soul”—a period of spiritual doubt, despair and loneliness that many of the great mystics experienced, her namesake St. Therese of Lisieux included. In Mother Teresa’s case, the dark night lasted most of her adult life—an almost unheard of trial.

No one but Mother Teresa’s spiritual directors and bishop knew of her spiritual agony until her correspondence came to light during her beatification cause. The letters were then made available to the general public in a 2007 book, “Come Be My Light.”

For the Rev. Brian Kolodiejchuk, the Canadian priest who published the letters and spearheaded Mother Teresa’s saint-making campaign, the revelations were further confirmation of Mother Teresa’s heroic saintliness. He said that by canonizing her, Francis is recognizing that Mother Teresa not only shared the material poverty of the poor but the spiritual poverty of those who feel “unloved, unwanted, uncared for.”

“That was her experience in her relationship with Jesus,” Kolodiejchuk said in an interview. “She understood very well when people would share their horror stories, their pain and suffering of being unloved, lonely. She would be able to share that empathy because she herself was experiencing it.”

Tens of thousands of people are expected for the canonization ceremony Sunday for the tiny, stooped nun who was fast-tracked for sainthood just a year after she died in 1997. St. John Paul II, who was Mother Teresa’s greatest champion, beatified her before a crowd of 300,000 in St. Peter’s Square in 2003.

Francis has made the canonization the high point of his Jubilee of Mercy, a yearlong emphasis on the church’s merciful side. Francis has an obvious interest in highlighting Mother Teresa’s mercy-filled service to outcasts on the periphery, given that her life’s work exemplifies the priorities of his own pontificate.

But Francis is also sending a more subtle message to the faithful through the canonization of the ethnic Albanian nun: That saints can be imperfect—they can suffer as Mother Teresa did and even feel unloved by God, said Ines Angeli Murzaku, a professor of church history at Seton Hall University in New Jersey and herself a native Albanian.

“That existential periphery which is suffering and being marginalized, he wants to bring that to the attention of the world,” she said in a telephone interview. Mother Teresa “is so real. She’s not remote. She’s not a perfect, perfect saint.”


Remembering when Mother Teresa left Hillary Clinton in stunned silence on abortion
From Sister to Mother to Saint: The journey of Mother Teresa
Close friend of Mother Teresa claims the famous nun experienced visions of Jesus

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

13. Do not be like those who, in burying the dead, first lament over them and then get drunk for their sake. But be like the prisoners in the mines who are flogged every hour by the gaolers.
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Jubilee 2000: Bringing the World to Jesus

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