Sunday, September 17, 2017

Conquering Loneliness

The following comes from the Catholic Exchange:


In the 60’s the Beatles composed a song and an album: “Sergeant Pepper’s lonely heart-club band.” World-famous for this song and album, the Beatles were placing their finger on the pulse of the modern society, a society with many individuals suffering from a crushing and almost unsupportable loneliness.
There are many ways that individuals cope with loneliness; some are excellent, others are good to a certain extent, others are bad and still others are deadly. A crushing loneliness can grip an individual in such a way that depression sets in and he/she feels life has no real meaning and questions why even live. Some, even, contemplate a recourse to suicide.
Others do not go so far as to commit physical suicide, but they do have recourse to a slow form of damaging their lives; you might even call it gradual suicide. These are the individuals that seek and escape from the crushing weight of loneliness by having recourse to vices; these escapes that we call vices are many; we will mention a few. Drugs, gambling, drinking to excess, overeating, the use of pornography as well as the use of sexuality outside the context of sacramental and marital commitment. At times individuals have recourse to more than one of these vices as an escape from their crushing loneliness. The more dense and crushing the loneliness the more they cling to one or more of these vices!
This being said, what are wholesome ways that we can cope with loneliness in our lives and maybe we can teach others proper and correct ways to deal with this modern, prevalent reality?
For believers what will be explained will not be a huge surprise! The key to coping with a heavy and crushing loneliness can be summarized in one simple word: GOD!!!
  1. GOD’S OMNIPRESENCE.  The word “omnipresence” means in the most simple of terms: God is everywhere! No matter where we go, God is present to us.  Indeed we can block God out of our lives, forget Him, be oblivious to His presence, or like an atheist deny that He even exists. Still this does not deny the fact that God exists.  I can say a wall in front of my face is not present, but if I walk into it I will bruise my face or worse yet even get a concussion.  St. Paul quoting a Greek poet encapsulates this concept with these words:  “In Him we live and move and have our being.”  The Psalmist expresses God’s omnipresence with utmost clarity and precision: “Where can I hide from your spirit? If I ascend to the heavens, you are there. If I lie down in Sheol, you are there too. If I fly with the wings of dawn and alight beyond the sea even there your hand will guide me, your right hand hold me fast. If I say, “surely darkness shall hide me, and night shall be my light. Darkness is not dark for you, and night shines as the day. Darkness and light are but one.”(Psalm 139: 7-12)
  1. DIVINE INDWELLING THROUGH GRACE.  One of the hallmarks of Carmelite spirituality is that of the indwelling of the Blessed Trinity in our soul through sanctifying grace. If we conserve grace within our soul by avoiding mortal sin then not only are we surrounded by God (His Omnipresence), but He is truly present in the very depths of our soul. If we like we can talk to this Triune God—the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit as often as we like and as long as we like.  How great is our God!
  1.  JESUS AS FRIEND.  In the course of the Last Supper discourse, Holy Thursday night, Jesus spoke very tenderly to the Apostles as well as to us. Jesus said:  “I do not call you servants because the servant does not know what the Master is about, but I call you FRIENDS…” What a consoling truth and what an efficacious remedy to overcome modern loneliness: to recognize, experience and cultivate a deep and lasting FRIENDSHIP with Jesus!  Engraved below a beautiful painting of the most Sacred Heart of Jesus are written the words in Spanish:  “Jesus, el Amigo que nunca falla.”Translation: “Jesus is the Friend that never fails us.”How true!  We all fail Jesus every time we decide to sin, but He never fails us. For that reason we read and meditate the words from the Book of Revelation: “Behold I stand at the door and knock. Whoever opens the door I will come in and dine with him and him with me.”(Rev. 3:20) Indeed striving with all of the fiber of our being to grow in friendship with Jesus can prove to be one of the most efficacious means to cope with loneliness and if we are struggling to overcome some vice—whatever it might be: drink, porn, drugs, despair!  Beyond the shadow of a doubt, Friendship with Jesus is the most consoling, solid, noble, satisfying, and capable of constant growth.
  1.  UNLOADING TO MY FRIEND JESUS.  Years ago a wonderful moive came out in Spanish with the title:  Marcelino, Pan y vino. The essence of this film is this orphan-boy(Marcelino) adopted by the Franciscan community grows up with the Frailes and then Marcelino meets his best friend: Jesus as He hangs on the cross in one of the upper rooms. The little boy immediately strikes up a friendship with Jesus crucified. He talks to Jesus and Jesus responds to the little boy. Constantly, on the sly, the little boy visits Jesus and talks to Him. Not only does the little boy talk to Jesus but consoles Him with concrete gestures. Noticing Jesus’ bones jutting out, he brings Him bread and wine. Then he brings Jesus his blanket so that He would not suffer cold. The little boy seeing the head crowned with piercing thorns, he climbs a ladder to relieve Jesus of the suffering by actually taking the crown off His head.  Growing deeper and deeper in their friendship, something has always weighed heavy on the heart of the little boy—the absence of a loving mother. Marcelino opens his aching heart to Jesus about being orphan to the love of a mother. Jesus responds by allowing the little boy to see “His mother”. The movie culminates with a loud noise, the little boy falling back (actually dying), so that he is taken up to heaven to rest in the arms of Mary, his heavenly Mother. Therefore, a key element of coping with loneliness, conquering loneliness is not to deny our loneliness nor to deny our problems. If done our loneliness and problems will get worse. The key is to talk to Jesus as well as the Blessed Virgin Mary, Our dear and loving Mother about our loneliness and problems. Once a problem is shared with a loving heart the problem diminishes greatly or will even disappear.
  1. JESUS: YOUR EUCHARISTIC FRIEND AND COMPANION. One of the greatest remedies to cope with or conquer loneliness is to establish a deep faith, confidence, and love for Jesus (your best Friend) in the context of the Blessed Sacrament, Mass, and Holy Eucharist. Establish a habit of visiting your Friend Jesus present in the Tabernacle in His Eucharistic Presence. Attend daily Mass if you have the time. Receive Jesus in Holy Communion with great love and devotion. After receiving Him in Holy Communion spend some time after Mass; close your eyes and talk to your Friend Jesus who is now living in the very depths of your soul. Tell Him everything that is on your mind, in your soul, all that is present in the very depths of your heart. This is the closest and most intimate union that can exist on earth—the union of our heart with the Sacred Heart of Jesus present in you after Holy Communion.
If we establish a deep and dynamic Friendship with Jesus and Mary in this life that crushing loneliness that we experience will be lifted like the sun that dissipates the early morning clouds, or like the dew that evaporates on the morning grass. Still more important, if Jesus is your best Friend now in time in this present world, then when we pass from this world to the next He will be our best Friend forever in heaven, where loneliness will no longer exist.
Therefore none of us have to belong to the Sergeant Pepper’s lonely heart-club band. Rather we belong to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Bishop Barron: A Mother's Passion


The following is Bishop Robert Barron's reflection on the reading for today:

Friends, today we celebrate the memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows. In our Gospel Jesus entrusts care of his mother to St. John. We can see some background for this profound action in The Passion of the Christ, the most provocative and popular religious movie in decades. What I would like to do is simply highlight a theme from the movie that especially struck me when I saw it.
 
The theme that I would like to emphasize is that of Mary, the mother of Jesus. We are compelled to see the scenes through her eyes. Early in Luke's Gospel, we are told that Mary "contemplated these things, reflecting on them in her heart." She is the theologian par excellence, the one who understands. When she sees Jesus being led away, she weeps and then she says "Amen."
 
In scene after scene, we watch her spiritual comprehension. The wonderful scene where she is marked with the Blood of her Son is especially evocative. And then the Pieta depiction at the very end, where we see Mary's role: to present the sacrifice of her Son to us and for us.

The Final Sermon of Fr. Gaston Hurtubise: Thank my Lord!


In 1992 Fr. Gaston Hurtubise died while preaching on the Sacred Heart of Jesus. His last words were, "God is ready to open his heart to us, to establish us in him, to eternal bliss. Thank my Lord!"

While attempts were made to revive him, he had already gone to the Lord.


Feast of the Day: Our Lady of Sorrows


The following comes from Catholic Doors:

Today's special Feast was originally set on the third Sunday of September. Now it has a date of its own, that being September 15 th.

In 1239, five years after having established themselves, the seven founders of the Servite Order took up the sorrows of Mary who stood under the Cross as the main devotion of their religious Order.

On June 9 th and September 15 th, 1668, the Feast of the "Seven Dolors of Mary" was granted to the Servites with the object of commemorating the sorrows of Mary.

This Feast was extended to Spain in 1735 and to Tuscany in 1807. On September 18, 1814, after returning from his exile in France, Pope Pius VII extended this Feast to the whole Latin Church.

The other Feast of the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary, held on Friday before Palm Sunday, was originally kept on the Friday after the third Sunday after Easter. Known under the title of, "Commemoratio angustix et doloris B. Marix V," this Feast commemorated the sorrows of Mary during the Passion and death of Christ. Instituted in 1413 by the provincial synod of Cologne, its object was to expiate for the crimes of the iconoclat Hussites.

On April 22, 1727, Pope Benedict XIII extended this Feast to the entire Latin Church under the title of "Septem dolorum B.M.V." This last Feast did not have originate through the Servite Order.

Today's Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows draws our hearts towards the Blessed Virgin Mary in compassion for the motherly sufferings that she endured during the life of Jesus on earth. Early in the life of Jesus, Simeon prophesied that the soul of Mary would be pierced by a sword. [Lk. 2:35] Many may view the statement of Simeon as a horrible thing to say to a young mother. But others view this as the first step to prepare Mary for what was to come.

After all, not long after the visit to the Temple, having been warned by an angel in a dream, Mary and Joseph had to escape to Egypt to protect Jesus from king Herod who massacred all the children under the age of two. [Mt. 2:13-18]

This event parallels what is going on in many countries that are torn by civil war. How many families are living in refugee camps or had to immigrate to foreign countries to escape those who are kidnapping and murdering the fathers, the mothers and even the children? How many families had to escape from their homeland to protect their daughters from being raped by mercenaries and soldiers who have no morals whatsoever? These families can associate with the sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

It was not until about ten years later that Mary suffered her next greatest sorrow. Returning home after participating in the festival of the Passover in Jerusalem, Mary and Joseph realized that Jesus was not with the group of travellers. They had to return to Jerusalem and look for Him. [Lk. 2:41-52]

Many parents can associate with this frightening experience. How many parents have lost their child in a supermarket, at a campground or even experienced an incident where their child wondered away from the back yard and could not be found for a few hours? How many parents have experienced the loss of a child due to a messy separation and custody battle? How many parents have permanently lost their child, not knowing his or her whereabouts? Such traumatic events truly pieces the soul of the person involved. This is something that many cannot perceive unless they personally experience it.

Over and over the aforementioned, the soul of Mary was pierced when she saw the condition of Jesus on the road to Calvary, when He was crucified, when she stood at the foot of the Holy Cross, when the body of Jesus was taken down from the Cross and when Jesus was buried.

These events remind many parents of their personal family experiences. Some parents have seen their son or daughter beaten so badly that his or her face could no longer be recognized. Some had to identify the body of their child who was murdered in a random shooting. Many parents in war ridden countries had to care for their sons after they had been kidnapped, beaten and even mutilated. How great is the suffering of these parents. How much greater was the suffering of the Blessed Virgin Mary. For she who enjoyed the fullness of her immaculate state could never conceive doing such deplorable crimes.

Through life experiences, many have compassion for Mary, being able to associate with her life sufferings that resembles a spiritual martyrdom. How many times can one pierce the soul of a person without leaving eternal scars? Only once! Yet, the soul of the Blessed Virgin Mary was pierced seven times!

During the remaining of the day, let us reflect upon the sufferings of the Mother of God. For those who continue to endure similar sufferings, let us pray that they may receive from God the strength that they desperately need to continue to carry their spiritual crosses.

An Eastern Chant of Psalm 50

Psalm 50

A Psalm of Asaph.

The Mighty One, God the Lord,
    speaks and summons the earth
    from the rising of the sun to its setting.
Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty,
    God shines forth.
Our God comes; he does not keep silence;
    before him is a devouring fire,
    around him a mighty tempest.
He calls to the heavens above
    and to the earth, that he may judge his people:
“Gather to me my faithful ones,
    who made a covenant with me by sacrifice!”
The heavens declare his righteousness,
    for God himself is judge! Selah
“Hear, O my people, and I will speak;
    O Israel, I will testify against you.
    I am God, your God.
Not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you;
    your burnt offerings are continually before me.
I will not accept a bull from your house
    or goats from your folds.
For every beast of the forest is mine,
    the cattle on a thousand hills.
I know all the birds of the hills,
    and all that moves in the field is mine.
“If I were hungry, I would not tell you,
    for the world and its fullness are mine.
Do I eat the flesh of bulls
    or drink the blood of goats?
Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving,
    and perform your vows to the Most High,
and call upon me in the day of trouble;
    I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.”
But to the wicked God says:
    “What right have you to recite my statutes
    or take my covenant on your lips?
For you hate discipline,
    and you cast my words behind you.
If you see a thief, you are pleased with him,
    and you keep company with adulterers.
“You give your mouth free rein for evil,
    and your tongue frames deceit.
You sit and speak against your brother;
    you slander your own mother's son.
These things you have done, and I have been silent;
    you thought that I was one like yourself.
But now I rebuke you and lay the charge before you.
“Mark this, then, you who forget God,
    lest I tear you apart, and there be none to deliver!
The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me;
    to one who orders his way rightly
    I will show the salvation of God!”

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

A Testimony of Faith: Pope Francis Meets Fr. Tom Uzhunnalil, SDB




Salesian News Agency: Immediately after Wednesday’s general audience, Pope Francis met Salesian Fr Thomas Uzhunnalil.

Fr. Tom is finally safe and finally able to rejoin the Salesian Community.  He was able to visit today with Salesian Confrere and was given a special audience with the Holy Father after the Wednesday General Audience.

From the Salesian News Agency:  A testimony of impressive faith: that is what the Salesians saw yesterday, 12 September, on meeting Fr Tom Uzhunnalil, finally liberated after being imprisoned for a year and a half.
The meeting began around 6 PM in the Vatican. Present: the Rector Major's Vicar, Fr Francesco Cereda, as the Rector Major was still engaged in his visit to Malta; Salesians of the Vatican community and the General House; and most notably, Fr Thomas Anchukandam, a former professor of Fr Uzhunnalil, who authorized sending the missionary to Yemen when he was Superior of the Bangalore Province.
The greeting was immediately fraternal: Fr Uzhunnalil was honored with the "ponnada", the dress traditionally consigned to special guests of honor, and he received the emotional embrace of all those present. For his part, the Indian missionary did not nothing but repeat words of thanks, first of all to God and the Madonna.
One of his first requests was to pray in the chapel of the Salesian community in the Vatican. He also wanted to celebrate Mass immediately after, but due to necessary medical examinations he was forced to postpone the fulfillment of his wish. Nevertheless, before the arrival of the medical staff, he asked to be confessed, since this had obviously not been possible throughout his time in prison.
Different, instead, the discourse for the Eucharist; during the festive evening offered him by the Salesian community, featuring traditional Indian foods, Fr Uzhunnalil said that throughout his time as hostage he continued to spiritually celebrate Mass every day, remembering by heart the readings and the parts of the Mass, since he did not have liturgical texts or species with which to celebrate.
For his part, Fr Uzhunnalil appeared calm and open to questions; without going into details he answered the questions of his confreres. He confirmed he was in the chapel of the community of the Missionaries of Charity of Aden when the assailants kidnapped him. After being kidnapped, Fr Uzhunnalil said he was never mistreated and that following his rapid weight loss, his kidnappers had even begun to provide him with the medication he needed for his diabetes.
Throughout the period of imprisonment, however, he wore the same clothes; with his kidnappers - who spoke Arabic – he communicated with a bit of English; and during his imprisonment he was transferred two or three times, but always blindfolded.
"I never thought I could be killed," said the missionary who also recalled an episode on March 3, 2016, the night before the massacre: the Director of the Missionaries of Charity house of Aden, commenting on the difficult situation in which the religious found themselves in the war zone, had said it would have been nice to be martyred all together for Christ. But the youngest of the religious - who then survived the attack - replied: "I want to live for Christ."
Fr Uzhunnalil is currently being hosted in the Salesian community of the Vatican. The Salesian Congregation has taken such a decision by considering it the most suitable place to ensure his care and allow him full recovery.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Feast of the Holy Name of Mary


The following is from American Catholic: This feast is a counterpart to the Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus (January 3); both have the possibility of uniting people easily divided on other matters.

The feast of the Most Holy Name of Mary began in Spain in 1513 and in 1671 was extended to all of Spain and the Kingdom of Naples. In 1683, John Sobieski, king of Poland, brought an army to the outskirts of Vienna to stop the advance of Muslim armies loyal to Mohammed IV in Constantinople. After Sobieski entrusted himself to the Blessed Virgin Mary, he and his soldiers thoroughly defeated the Muslims. Pope Innocent XI extended this feast to the entire Church.

Comment:

Mary always points us to God, reminding us of God's infinite goodness. She helps us to open our hearts to God's ways, wherever those may lead us. Honored under the title “Queen of Peace,” Mary encourages us to cooperate with Jesus in building a peace based on justice, a peace that respects the fundamental human rights (including religious rights) of all peoples.

Quote:

“Lord our God, when your Son was dying on the altar of the cross, he gave us as our mother the one he had chosen to be his own mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary; grant that we who call upon the holy name of Mary, our mother, with confidence in her protection may receive strength and comfort in all our needs” (Marian Sacramentary, Mass for the Holy Name of the Blessed Virgin Mary).

Fr Tom Uzhunnalil, SDB Released From Captivity

The Salesian News Agency is reporting that Fr. Thomas Uzhunnalil, SDB has been released from his captors!  The Salesian had been captive for 18 months since the attack on the Missionaries of Charity hospital in Yemen:
(ANS - Bangalore) Salesian Indian missionary Fr Thomas Uzhunnalil, seized more than 18 months ago in Yemen by a group of guerrillas, is released. According to the Indian media who announced the news, the Salesian religious is now in Muscat, Oman. Official confirmation came from a tweet by Sushma Swaraj, the Honourable Indian Foreign Minister.
Fr Uzhunnalil was kidnapped by a group of armed men on March 4, 2016, during an attack on the home of the Missionaries of Charity in Aden, Yemen, where 16 people died, including 4 religious.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Dr Peter Kreeft on Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's Harvard Address


Dr. Peter Kreeft comments on the Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn Commencement Address, "A World Split Apart," given at Harvard University on 8 June 1978. Solzhenitsyn diagnoses the roots of all our ills in the West.  He was a modern prophet and Dr. Kreeft gives an explanation of the Harvard address that everyone needs to hear!


Below is the original talk as given by Solzhenitsyn at Harvard:

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Myrrh Weeping Icons of Jesus and St. John the Baptist



An Orthodox church in Homer Glen is drawing pilgrims from across Chicagoland to witness what some are calling a miracle. An icon of St. John the Baptist has been oozing fragrant oil at Assumption Greek Orthodox Church. Parishioners believer the oil to be myrrh, and many claim that the myrrh has healed their health conditions.

I visited this Church last weekend and found that the Icon of Jesus the Teacher has also been weeping myrrh oil. The Jesus Icon is directly to the left of the Icon of St. John the Baptist and began weeping on December 31, 2016 from the left hand of Jesus. Just a few weeks ago the right hand also began to weep. The right hand is giving a blessing and is situated just over the heart of Jesus. The myrrh oil was clearly visible on both of the icons! It now seems appropriate that St. John the Baptist began weeping first so as to prepare the way for Jesus! These signs are an encouragement to all of us to pray and deepen our relationship with Christ!

Monday, July 17, 2017

Carmelite Martyrs of Compiegne



Today we remember Sixteen Carmelites caught up in the French Revolution and martyred for their faith. The story of their heroic deaths is well worth reading about! The following comes from the Catholic Online site:

When the revolution started in 1789, a group of twenty-one discalced Carmelites lived in a monastery in Compiegne France, founded in 1641. The monastery was ordered closed in 1790 by the Revolutionary gov­ernment, and the nuns were disbanded. Sixteen of the nuns were accused of living in a religious community in 1794. They were arrested on June 22 and imprisoned in a Visitation convent in Compiegne There they openly resumed their religious life. On July 12, 1794, the Carmelites were taken to Paris and five days later were sentenced to death. They went to the guillotine singing the Salve Regina. They were beatified in 1906 by Pope St. Pius X. The Carmelites were: Marie Claude Brard; Madeleine Brideau, the subprior; Maire Croissy, grandniece of Colbert Marie Dufour; Marie Hanisset; Marie Meunier, a novice; Rose de Neufville Annette Pebras; Anne Piedcourt: Madeleine Lidoine, the prioress; Angelique Roussel; Catherine Soiron and Therese Soiron, both extern sisters, natives of Compiegne and blood sisters: Anne Mary Thouret; Marie Trezelle; and Eliza beth Verolot. The martyrdom of the nuns was immortalized by the composer Francois Poulenc in his famous opera Dialogues des Carmelites.

The Terror, you may recall, was a fanatical anti-christian fury that was fueled by the blood of thousands of priests and religious; that smashed the priceless stained-glass windows of ancient churches; that dug up and desecrated the bodies of saints; that erected a platform over the sacred high altar at Notre Dame de Paris and there enthroned a prostitute to mock God; and then even eradicated the 7 day Biblical week and replaced it with a 10 day version that had no reference to God.

The nuns of Compiègen, knowing of this reign of sacrilege, were faced with the decision to scatter and hide, or to face the Terror. Famously, they chose the latter and did so with the explicit intention of vanquishing it and its principle architect, Robespierre.

It soon came; they were arrested on trumped up charges of counter-revolutionary activity and led by wagon to the Place du Trone where the guillotine waited to consume them as it had thousands before. It is said that the evil aura of the place and the stench from the rotting blood was so horrible that it was difficult even to prod the horses into the square. But the 16 Carmelite nuns entered the site with perfect serenity, chanting hymns to God and the Blessed Virgin Mary. The usually raucous crowd, inebriated with the killing, fell silent that day at the spectacle of such women. They were called to the scaffold one by one. And each nun in turn knelt before Mother Superior and said, "Permission to die, Mother?" To which Mother Superior responded by holding out a small statue of our Lady for the nun to kiss one last time, and was sent off with the words, "Go, my daughter".

That was on July 17, 1794. That very week the tide turned against Robespierre and on the tenth day he lost his own head at the very same guillotine and the Terror sputtered to an end, defeated ultimately. I firmly believe, not by a Christian army, but by 16 holy women who understood perfectly the logic of the Cross of Jesus Christ. My friends, the history of the Church is replete with tales of this kind of self-sacrificial love. They are not all as glorious as that of the Carmelite Nuns of Compiègne, but they all participate in the same vision of one degree or another.


For more information on these holy women please check out New Advent!

Friday, April 7, 2017

Saint of the day: John Baptist de La Salle

The following comes from the Christian Brothers site:

John Baptist de La Salle was born into a world very different from our own. He was the first son of wealthy parents living in France over 300 years ago. Born at Reims, John Baptist de La Salle received the tonsure at age eleven and was named Canon of the Reims Cathedral at sixteen. Though he had to assume the administration of family affairs after his parents died, he completed his theological studies and was ordained a priest on April 9, 1678.Two years later he received a doctorate in theology. Meanwhile he became tentatively involved with a group of rough and barely literate young men in order to establish schools for poor boys.

At that time a few people lived in luxury, but most of the people were extremely poor: peasants in the country, and slum dwellers in the towns. Only, a few could send their children to school; most children had little hope for the future. Moved by the plight of the poor who seemed so "far from salvation" either in this world or the next, he determined to put his own talents and advanced education at the service of the children "often left to themselves and badly brought up." To be more effective, he abandoned his family home, moved in with the teachers, renounced his position as Canon and his wealth, and so formed the community that became known as the Brothers of the Christian Schools.

His enterprise met opposition from the ecclesiastical authorities who resisted the creation of a new form of religious life, a community of consecrated laymen to conduct gratuitous schools "together and by association." The educational establishment resented his innovative methods and his insistence on gratuity for all, regardless of whether they could afford to pay. Nevertheless De La Salle and his Brothers succeeded in creating a network of quality schools throughout France that featured instruction in the vernacular, students grouped according to ability and achievement, integration of religious instruction with secular subjects, well-prepared teachers with a sense of vocation and mission, and the involvement of parents. In addition, De La Salle pioneered in programs for training lay teachers, Sunday courses for working young men, and one of the first institutions in France for the care of delinquents. Worn out by austerities and exhausting labours, he died at Saint Yon near Rouen early in 1719 on Good Friday, only weeks before his sixty-eighth birthday.

John Baptist de La Salle was a pioneer in founding training colleges for teachers, reform schools for delinquents, technical schools, and secondary schools for modern languages, arts, and sciences. His work quickly spread through France and, after his death, continued to spread across the globe. In 1900 John Baptist de La Salle was declared a Saint. In 1950, because of his life and inspirational writings, he was made Patron Saint of all those who work in the field of education. John Baptist de La Salle inspired others how to teach and care for young people, how to meet failure and frailty with compassion, how to affirm, strengthen and heal. At the present time there are De La Salle schools in 80 different countries around the globe.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Saint of the day: Margaret Clitherow


The following comes from the Catholic.org site:


St. Margaret Clitherow was born in Middleton, England, in 1555, of protestant parents. Possessed of good looks and full of wit and merriment, she was a charming personality. In 1571, she married John Clitherow, a well-to-do grazier and butcher (to whom she bore two children), and a few years later entered the Catholic Church. Her zeal led her to harbor fugitive priests, for which she was arrested and imprisoned by hostile authorities. Recourse was had to every means in an attempt to make her deny her Faith, but the holy woman stood firm. Finally, she was condemned to be pressed to death on March 25, 1586. She was stretched out on the ground with a sharp rock on her back and crushed under a door over laden with unbearable weights. Her bones were broken and she died within fifteen minutes. The humanity and holiness of this servant of God can be readily glimpsed in her words to a friend when she learned of her condemnation: "The sheriffs have said that I am going to die this coming Friday; and I feel the weakness of my flesh which is troubled at this news, but my spirit rejoices greatly. For the love of God, pray for me and ask all good people to do likewise." Her feast day is March 26th.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Bishop Robert Barron on Evangelizing Through the Good

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

The Story of Ash Wednesday

The following comes from The Catholic Exchange:


Q: A Protestant friend asked me why Catholics use ashes on Ash Wednesday. What are the origins of Ash Wednesday and the use of ashes?
The liturgical use of ashes originates in Old Testament times. Ashes symbolized mourning, mortality and penance. For instance, in the Book of Esther, Mordecai put on sackcloth and ashes when he heard of the decree of King Ahasuerus (or Xerxes, 485-464BC) of Persia to kill all of the Jewish people in the Persian Empire (Est 4:1). Job (whose story was written between 7th and 5th centuries BC) repented in sackcloth and ashes (Jb 42:6).
Prophesying the Babylonian captivity of Jerusalem, Daniel (c. 550BC) wrote, “I turned to the Lord God, pleading in earnest prayer, with fasting, sackcloth and ashes” (Dn 9:3). In the 5th century BC, after Jonah’s preaching of conversion and repentance, the town of Nineveh proclaimed a fast and put on sackcloth, and the king covered himself with sackcloth and sat in the ashes (Jon 3:5-6). These Old Testament examples evidence both a recognized practice of using ashes and a common understanding of their symbolism.
Jesus Himself also made reference to ashes: Referring to towns that refused to repent of sin although they had witnessed the miracles and heard the good news, our Lord said, “If the miracles worked in you had taken place in Tyre and Sidon, they would have reformed in sackcloth and ashes long ago” (Mt 11:21).
The early Church continued the usage of ashes for the same symbolic reasons. In his book, De Poenitentia, Tertullian (c. 160-220) prescribed that the penitent must “live without joy in the roughness of sackcloth and the squalor of ashes.” Eusebius (260-340), the famous early Church historian, recounted in his The History of the Churchhow an apostate named Natalis came to Pope Zephyrinus clothed in sackcloth and ashes begging forgiveness. Also during this time, for those who were required to do public penance, the priest sprinkled ashes on the head of the person leaving confession.
In the Middle Ages (at least by the time of the 8th century), those who were about to die were laid on the ground on top of sackcloth sprinkled with ashes. The priest would bless the dying person with holy water, saying, “Remember that thou art dust and to dust thou shalt return.” After the sprinkling, the priest asked, “Art thou content with sackcloth and ashes in testimony of thy penance before the Lord in the day of judgment?” To which the dying person replied, “I am content.” In all of these examples, the symbolism of mourning, mortality and penance is clear.
Eventually, the use of ashes was adapted to mark the beginning of Lent, the 40-day preparation period (not including Sundays) for Easter. The ritual for the “Day of Ashes” is found in the earliest editions of the Gregorian Sacramentary which dates at least to the 8th century. About the year 1000, an Anglo-Saxon priest named Aelfric preached, “We read in the books both in the Old Law and in the New that the men who repented of their sins bestrewed themselves with ashes and clothed their bodies with sackcloth. Now let us do this little at the beginning of our Lent that we strew ashes upon our heads to signify that we ought to repent of our sins during the Lenten fast.” As an aside, Aelfric reinforced his point by then telling of a man who refused to go to Church on Ash Wednesday and receive ashes; the man was killed a few days later in a boar hunt. Since the Middle Ages at least, the Church has used ashes to mark the beginning of the penitential season of Lent, when we remember our mortality and mourn for our sins.
In our present Ash Wednesday liturgy, we use ashes made from burned palm branches distributed on the Palm Sunday of the previous year. The priest blesses the ashes and imposes them on the foreheads of the faithful, making the sign of the cross and saying, “Remember, man you are dust and to dust you shall return,” or “Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel.”
As we begin this holy season of Lent in preparation for Easter, we must remember the significance of the ashes we have received: We mourn and do penance for our sins. We again convert our hearts to the Lord, who suffered, died and rose for our salvation. We renew the promises made at our baptism, when we died to an old life and rose to a new life with Christ. Finally, mindful that the kingdom of this world passes away, we strive to live the kingdom of God now and look forward to its fulfillment in heaven. In essence, we die to ourselves, and rise to a new life in Christ.
As we remember the significance of these ashes and strive to live it during this time of Lent, we must allow the Holy Spirit to move us to charity toward our neighbors. Our Holy Father in his Message for Lent, 2003, said, “It is my fervent hope that believers will find this Lent a favorable time for bearing witness to the Gospel of charity in every place, since the vocation to charity is the heart of all true evangelization.”
He also lamented that our “age, regrettably is particularly susceptible to the temptation toward selfishness which always lurks within the human heart…. An excessive desire for possessions prevents human beings from being open to their Creator and to their brothers and sisters.” This Lent, acts of self-giving love shown to those in need must be part of our penance, conversion and renewal, for such acts constitute the solidarity and justice essential for building up the kingdom of God in this world.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Gabriel's Message by the Good Shepherd Band

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Northern Lights Over Canada


This is amazing!  The video comes from the Telegraph:

This geomagnetic storm was captured on camera from an aeroplane flying east over Canada on Tuesday.

Geomagnetic storms produce “auroral currents” known as “northern lights.”

Deepen Your Personal Relationship with Jesus

The following comes from the Catholic Exchange:
The Lord calls us all to have a personal relationship with Him. This personal relationship is based on knowledge — God know­ing us and we knowing God. God already knows us; His knowl­edge is perfect. Despite our best attempts to ignore Him, God has always known us. But we weren’t born with this knowledge of God.
Even when we discover God through revelation, we might know about God but still might not know Him. In the Bible, to “know” someone is to engage in sexual intercourse with that person. When we speak of knowing God, and of God know­ing us, we are speaking about a different but similarly intimate relationship with Him.
Jesus tells His disciples:
Not every one who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?” And then will I declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from me, you evildoers.” (Matt. 7:21–23)
It is clear that those who will be accepted into heaven are those who know God, who have a personal relationship with Him. The question is: What does it mean to have a personal relationship with the Lord? It means that we let God be in charge of our lives, that we form a relationship with His Mystical Body, and that we get to know His Mother. It also demands that we seek a constant and perpetual conversion, serve others in love, and create disciples.
Let’s look at various ways to develop or deepen your personal relationship with the Lord: through prayer, letting God be in control of your life, being involved with the Church, growing in devotion to the Blessed Mother, and seeking spiritual direction.

Pray

Because prayer is personal, it is the most direct way of developing and maintaining a personal relationship with the Lord. The time we spend talking to our loved ones, and listening to their needs and concerns, allows our relationship with them to grow deeper. Likewise, when we grow in our relationship with God through prayer, we come to understand Him better and to understand His will for us.
A good prayer life requires practice, discipline, commitment, openness, honesty, and love. To get a good start on your prayer life, or even to add to it, look for a book of Catholic prayers, of which there are many kinds. Also, check out a breviary, which is a book of liturgical prayers. There are also several apps for your phone or tablet that contain many prayers, including the bre­viary. Make a place in your home, a room or a corner, for prayer.
In flight training, when one pilot hands the control over to the other, the receiver says, “My controls,” and the giver responds with, “Your controls” as he lets go of all controls, and again the receiving pilot responds with “I have full control.” When we have a personal relationship with Jesus, we aren’t even copilots, because He is always in control. When we trust God and give Him complete control of our lives — which we never really had much control over in the first place — God performs maneuvers and makeovers that we never thought possible. Moreover, He re­moves all boundaries that hold us down and frees our spirits to soar.
This is especially true in the case of sin. We cannot become free of sin and distress until we let God transform us. We let God transform us by participating in the sacraments, serving others, praying, and reading Scripture regularly.

A Relationship with the Church

A personal relationship with Jesus also means a personal rela­tionship with His Church. Recall the story of Saul on his way to Damascus to punish and persecute Christians.
But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. Now as he journeyed he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed about him. And he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.” (Acts 9:1–5)
Saul must have been confused. He persecuted Christians, this he knew, but the voice he heard was not one of the men or women he had directly persecuted. This voice was telling him that by persecuting Christ’s people, Saul was persecuting Christ Himself. Saul, who later became Paul, would soon realize that Jesus identifies directly with His people — not in a symbolic way, but in reality.
Because of this identity, the Second Vatican Council docu­ment Lumen Gentium rightly says:
God gathered together as one all those who in faith look upon Jesus as the author of salvation and the source of unity and peace, and established them as the Church that for each and all it may be the visible sacrament of this saving unity. (no. 9)
We see clearly that the Church is the most profound institu­tion in the world. Jesus came to establish the kingdom of God, and to make that happen, He established a Church and prom­ised to remain with her always (Matt. 28:20). He has given His Church authority (see Matt. 10:16; 28:19) and commissioned her to teach and to remind His people of everything He said (John 14:26; 16:13).
We are therefore called to have a relationship with Jesus and His Church. To have a good relationship with the Church, we should turn to her as a source of truth, participate in her sacraments, and obey her laws, for when we obey the Church, we obey Christ:
He who hears you hears me, and he who rejects you rejects me, and he who rejects me rejects him who sent me. (Luke 10:16)