Monday, April 24, 2017

How to be Merciful

Prayer to be Merciful to Others
[This prayer gives us a true measure of our mercy, a mirror in which we observe ourselves as merciful Christs. We can make it our morning invocation and our evening examination of conscience.]

O Most Holy Trinity! As many times as I breathe, as many times as my heart beats, as many times as my blood pulsates through my body, so many thousand times do I want to glorify Your mercy.

I want to be completely transformed into Your mercy and to be Your living reflection, O Lord. May the greatest of all divine attributes, that of Your unfathomable mercy, pass through my heart and soul to my neighbor.

Help me, O Lord, that my eyes may be merciful, so that I may never suspect or judge from appearances, but look for what is beautiful in my neighbors’ souls and come to their rescue.

Help me, that my ears may be merciful, so that I may give heed to my neighbors’ needs and not be indifferent to their pains and moanings.

Help me, O Lord, that my tongue may be merciful, so that I should never speak negatively of my neighbor, but have a word of comfort and forgiveness for all.

Help me, O Lord, that my hands may be merciful and filled with good deeds, so that I may do only good to my neighbors and take upon myself the more difficult and toilsome tasks.

Help me, that my feet may be merciful, so that I may hurry to assist my neighbor, overcoming my own fatigue and weariness. My true rest is in the service of my neighbor.

Help me, O Lord, that my heart may be merciful so that I myself may feel all the sufferings of my neighbor. I will refuse my heart to no one. I will be sincere even with those who, I know, will abuse my kindness. And I will lock myself up in the most merciful Heart of Jesus. I will bear my own suffering in silence. May Your mercy, O Lord, rest upon me.

You Yourself command me to exercise the three degrees of mercy.
The first: the act of mercy, of whatever kind.
The second: the word of mercy — if I cannot carry out a work of mercy, I will assist by my words.
The third: prayer — if I cannot show mercy by deeds or words, I can always do so by prayer. My prayer reaches out even there where I cannot reach out physically.

O my Jesus, transform me into Yourself, for You can do all things (163). - St. Faustina

Monday, March 20, 2017

Despised and Rejected of Men


This is a painting by Sigismund Goetze (1866-1939) entitled “Despised and Rejected of Men”, a phrase taken from the Suffering Servant of Isaiah’s prophecy.
Goetze is classified as an English Victorian Painter. He was a devout Anglican and in this particular scene he superimposes his English society on the Suffering Christ. In the painting Christ is tied to a pillar about to be scourged, but the pillar is an altar of an ancient pagan shrine and the people moving about are in a Greek Temple. In the Acts of the Apostles, Chapter 17, St. Paul is preaching the Gospel to the people of Athens. There he makes reference to an altar dedicated to “THE UNKNOWN GOD”. Although the Athenians meant it to be an insurance against slighting any overlooked deities in their many-gods world-view, St. Paul used it as an opening to speak about the one true God whom they had hitherto not known by name. Here in Goetze’s painting, Christ chained to an altar of the Unknown God is a cruel irony. Although England has been Christian for centuries, Christ remains largely unknown its present generation. The throngs are too caught up in their own egotism to notice Him.

Goetze depicts several types familiar to late-Victorian society. In the left-hand corner there is the lady of fashion flirting shamelessly with her escort. Behind them is the scientist, so infatuated with his bubbling test-tube that he is blind to Christ. Above him is the sports-enthusiast, lost in the horse-racing pages. At the base of the altar huddles a poor mother with a sickly child. Turned in on herself by misery, she also has her back to Christ. To the right, a ragamuffin newsboy hawks the latest tabloid scandal sheet. A pompous cleric walks along, eyes straight ahead. Behind the cleric is a scheming businessman whose god is money. Next to him a corrupt judge is pouring over his lawbooks. In the far background a demagogic politician is haranguing the crowd. Only the nurse looks upon Christ, and reacts with sorrow and compassion.

This religious painting is supposed to make people think: am I not also somewhere in that passing crowd? We could easily imagine an updated version of this painting with very recognizable types of contemporary American society. Few enough there are who recognize Our Lord Jesus Christ for who He is and try to shape their lives accordingly. (commentary by: Fr. Higgins, http://miol.cx/passiontide/).

Here is another explanation of the painting by Sister Mary Joseph Calore:
The following description captures the artist's intent quite well.

At the exhibition of the Royal Academy, in London, the great canvas by Sigismund Goetze, entitled “Despised and Rejected of Men,” (right) has created an artistic sensation. It is declared to be a “powerful and terribly realistic presentment of Christ.” in a modern setting, and is described by a writer in The Christian Commonwealth (London), as follows:

In the center of the canvas is the Christ, standing on a pedestal, bound with ropes, while on either side passes the heedless crowd. A prominent figure is a richly vested priest, proudly conscious of the perfection of the ritual with which he is starving his higher life. Over the shoulder of the priest looks a stern-faced divine of a very different type. Bible in hand, he turns to look at the gospel has missed its spirit,and is as far astray as the priest whose ceremonial is to him anathema. The startled look on the face of the hospital nurse in the foreground is very realistic; so is the absorption of the man of science, so intent on the contents of his test-tube that he had not a glance for the Christ at his side. One of the most striking figures is that of the thoughtless beauty hurring from one scene of pleasure to another; and spurning the sweet-faced little ragged child who is offering a bunch of violets. In rejecting the plea of the child who knows that the proud woman is rejecting the Christ who has identified himself forever with the least of these little ones. The only person in the whole picture who has found time to pause is the mother seated on the steps of the pedestal with her baby in her arms, and we can not but feel that when she has ministered to the wants of her child she will spare a moment for the lover of little children who is so close to her. In the background stands an angel with bowed head, holding the cup which the world He loved to the death is still compelling the Christ to drink, while a cloud of angel faces look down upon the scene with wonder. As the visitor turns away he is haunted with the music of Stainer’s “Crucifixion,” “Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by?” (http://eastereggcrafts.blogspot.com/2015/04/the-rejected-christ-by-goetze.html)

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Saint Gertrude patron saint of cats...

I just found out about this saint and her life is very interesting. Here is an excerpt from junkee website:

Who Was St Gertrude?

Most of what’s known about Gertrude comes from her Vita Sanctae, the official Catholic biography produced to justify her veneration. She was born around 626 in what’s now Belgium. Her father was Pippin of Landen, a powerful Frankish nobleman and political operator at the court of King Dagobert I. Aged ten, Gertrude feistily refused a marriage proposal from the son of a duke, “saying that she would have neither him nor any earthly spouse but Christ the Lord.”

When her father died – although sources disagree, Gertrude was probably about 14 – her mother Itta shaved her head into a monkish tonsure to deter would-be suitors from marrying into her wealthy family by force. Itta and Gertrude established the monastery of Nivelles and retired to a religious life – historically, this has been one of women’s few options to preserve their intellectual, economic and sexual autonomy. When her mother died in 650, the now 24-year-old Gertrude took on sole governance of the monastery, and was known for her hospitality to pilgrims.

She died in 659 – worn out in her early thirties, says the Cambridge Medieval History, “because of too much abstinence and keeping of vigils”. A visiting Irish monk, whose brother Gertrude had sheltered, predicted she would die on St Patrick’s Day, and that “blessed Bishop Patrick with the chosen angels of God… are prepared to receive her”. Begorrah, it was so.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Carl Larsson, artist

I forgot how much I love his artwork and decided to order a book about his work. Today I received it in the mail and am so happy! I plan to pour over it and copy some of the drawings.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Finding Prince Charming in a Feminist era


The following is in answer to my daughter's email to me regarding "Feminism, is it heretical"?:
Imagine me....it's the 1960's and all I dream about is growing up, getting married, having children, and being a homemaker. I really had no other ambition in life but knew I had to support myself because my parents were opting out of that chore.
After years of failed relationships - starting in 1966, none of the "men-boys" I met lived up to my expectations, I finally meet Prince Charming (aka AEM) only to find out that he has been indoctrinated with the feminist idealism -- "all women should work outside of the home and help financially support the family". It wasn't enough that I still had to take care of the home, cooking, laundry, children, and everything else that goes with it, but I must find work and pull my fair share of the load. If I chose not to do so, I was a very selfish person.
Imagine, too, living in the 1970's where everything you watch (on tv) and listen to on the radio, and your friends and peers all have the same idea. There was absolutely no support for my dream of the perfect family.
I tried to squeeze in things that I thought were conducive, and promoted my vision, but it was poor and pathetic.
Eventually, the deep division I felt in my soul became too wide of a gap and I fell through into deep depression. Thus, years of counseling and anti-depressants were consumed - but, alas, none of it helped really.
It was only when I realized that my Saviour, whom I had put in a little slot of my life and basically abandoned, forced His way into my heart through His blessed Mother and healed my broken heart.
I came to the realization that one cannot change other people - only yourself.
There -- that's a little synopsis of what I actually experienced as a young woman in the 1960's and 70's.
Love,
Mom

Sunday, February 26, 2017

The Church of the future

Study history. Start with three books: Dr. Rodney Stark’s “To Bear False Witness,” Mike Aquilina/Jim Papandrea’s “Seven Revolutions” and Crocker’s “Triumph: The Power and the Glory of the Catholic Church”. These three books will help you dispel much of the anti-Catholic mythology you will be taught in Catholic schools and in state school. As for bible study, start with Jeff Cavin’s Great Adventure. Self-appointed scholars hate it, but his premise is before you tear it to pieces with avant-garde scholarship, you must know the story and the timeline. It’s what in the olden days we called Bible history. Also, learn some Ancient Greek and Hebrew. It’s easier than you think and it is wonderful to be able to see what the text is actually saying.
POSTED BY REV. KNOW-IT-ALL AT 12:00 AM

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

What's going on here?


I have known that something has been afoot in America for decades. And, not for the good either. I see violence, rioting, hate filled speech, accusations being hurled around, burning buildings, rule of mobs, people getting hurt. I see it every single night on the news. It's unsettling and uncomfortable. The liberals are angry that their candidate did not win. They are well organized, volatile, hateful, promoting divisions among us - yes, dividing us as a people, effectively getting our eyes off of our goal-- what's that you may ask? To serve God of course. What is God's desire for us? What does He think? What is His opinion of all the riots, violence, hateful and vindictive discourse in the public forums?

The problem is....what can one do? The most important thing is to pray every single day for our great nation and I mean the people and leaders; reject whatever the leftist agenda is insisting that we believe and engage in (e.g. politically correct speech,etc.), be the example of Christian virtue that you know in your heart is what God wants of you (this will require personal sacrifice), speak out whenever confronted by evil teachings (e.g. pornography, the argument of relativism, homosexual marriage, etc.), get our children out of public schools, be the parent that God wants you to be, etc. I'm sure there is more. That's all I can think of right now. We have to stop sitting on our couches feeling befuddled, ambivalent and inert. We are not in heaven yet and have a job to do for God. Let us begin.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Gus Gus and Olive


GusGus & Olive, Miniature Schnauzers (11 y/o), 9th & 1st Ave., New York, NY • “They both have serious personality and Olive was a rescue. Every time we go away, Olive develops a new eating disorder. She gets upset and then won’t eat her food, so we put peanut butter on it…then almond butter, then milk. You have to rotate depending on how damaged she is.” (The Dogist) see his stuff on Tumbler.

My heart went out to these two sweetest of little dogs. I especially like the name Gus Gus and told my husband should we ever get another dog, he will be named Gus Gus.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Are Parish communities dead?

I am a convert to the Catholic church and did not experience a "Church Community" as described below. In the age that we live, I am not sure this type of community would really work. People probably think it too intrusive for one thing and it would take up too much of our time for another thing. Isn't that sad?

The following is from "Reverend Know-it-all" blog:

Let’s talk a little about the perish, I mean the parish. A parish is a stable community of the faithful within a particular church, the care of which is entrusted to an ordained pastor under the authority of the diocesan bishop. It is the primary unit of a diocese. In the Code of Canon Law, parishes are discussed in cc. 515–552, “Parishes, Pastors, and Parochial Vicars.” The word parish is derived from a Greek word that means “…the area around the house.” My only perspective is that of a diocesan priest. I cannot comment on the experience of religious order priests. The diocesan priesthood has changed greatly during my short life, and I cannot predict where it will go. I can only comment on where it has come from and how it has developed. People ask me, “What order do you belong to?” I used to answer flippantly, “The order of St. Peter.” I cannot do that anymore. There is now a group called the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP), so that joke won’t work anymore, as if it ever did.

What I meant is that I am part of the original simple structure of the Catholic Church. The essential structure of the Church is the parish. (Warning the next few lines are speculation garnered from a lifetime of study. They may be absolutely wrong.) I suspect that in the first century of the Christian era, one town had one supervisor ("mebaqqer" in Hebrew, "episkopos" in Greek, "bishop" in English,) who was assisted by a few table waiter/helpers (“shamash” in Hebrew, "diakonos" in Greek, "deacon" in English.) His congregation was probably never more than a couple hundred people. He was probably called “Pappas” ("Father" in Greek) and was a spiritual father to his small community. The bishop presided over the Eucharist and approved new members of the community who were then instructed by the deacons. He re-admitted the fallen back into fellowship after a time of repentance and probably anointed the sick as well as preached. He was both supervisor of the faithful and wise elder (“Zaken” in Hebrew, "presbyteros" in Greek, "priest" in English.) When things got a bit too much, he might appoint tried and true deacons as fellow elders, thought this would have been honorific. They could preside at the Eucharist in the absence of the bishop, the main elder, but could not admit others to holy orders and did have authority to re-admit the fallen to the fellowship by means of penance. If a local church had more than one house of assembly, that is a parish, in a given district, the bishop might put that community in the care of a trusted presbyter and a deacon or two.

So, there it was. You had a very simple structure: supervisor, assisted by table waiters and elders. (Bishops, deacons and priests in English) Each diocese was essentially autonomous in its administration, though united to the wider Church by means of local synods of bishops, and when a big doctrinal issue came up, they looked to the bishop of Rome for instruction. Around 170 AD, St. Irenaeus of Lyon, a Greek bishop of a French city, wrote, “…we do put to confusion all those who…assemble in unauthorized meetings by indicating that tradition derived from the apostles, of the very great, the very ancient, and universally known Church founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul. (It is) the faith… which comes down to our time by means of the successions of the bishops. It is a matter of necessity that every Church should agree with this Church… (Irenaeus of Lyon, Against Heresies, Book III, Chapter 3)

Irenaeus was born into a Christian family around 125 AD. His pastor (bishop) was St. Polycarp who had been instructed by St. John. This means that one long lifetime from Christ, one short generation from the Apostles, Christians in the little Catholic Church already looked to Rome for theological guidance. This was not much different from the church in which I was raised. There were no deacons anymore, but the pastor was pretty much the bishop in his parish and was assisted by a few assistant pastors. The church was the parish. The parish was the church.

The parish was almost as much my home as was the house I grew up in. We played in the church lot, went to the parish school, assisted at the Mass, went to parish ice cream socials, dances, catechism classes, retreats, holy hours, and even the occasional lecture. There were men’s clubs, ladies’ guilds, book discussions, card parties and on and on. It was the parish, the village of our souls. We didn’t have cable, nor had we IPads or IPods. We played baseball, went to Boy Scouts which then was made up of people you knew and trusted. The pastor was scary. He never smiled. He knew us very well, better than we wanted to be known. I suspect even though he never smiled, he actually cared for each of us and knew us each by name. You didn’t go to the next parish over because the pastor was crabby and gave long sermons and longer penances after confession. The parish was home. If you went to the next parish over, the pastor would send you right back to your own home parish. There was no church hopping, just as there was no wife swapping, at least as far as I knew. The churches of my youth were full. The intimate community of believers that shepherded by the overseer/elder, heir to the apostles was preserved in the simplicity and familiarity of the parish. The parish was not incidental to the faith. It was the faith. This system worked pretty well for almost two thousand years, and then something happened.

Monday, December 26, 2016

The first bread and wine taken on the Moon


It happened on Christmas Eve, 48 years ago. Three men took turns reading from the first 10 verses of the Book of Genesis. They were nearly 250,000 miles away from Bethlehem, but since it was the night before Christmas, and there was no chimney from which to hang their stockings, the three astronauts inside the Apollo 8 capsule orbiting the moon thought it would be appropriate. So as Jim Lovell,Frank Borman and Bill Anders looked at the faraway Earth through the small window of the spacecraft, they read the verses: “In the beginning, God made the heavens and the Earth.”
Their distant-sounding voices from far beyond our atmosphere were broadcast live to the whole planet that night over radio and television. It was one of those moments that brought the world together, that helped us to see our common humanity as children of God whom he loves equally, and whom he placed on the beautiful planet that he made.
Seven months after this extraordinary event, in July 1969, another NASA spacecraft, Apollo 11, carried two astronauts to the surface of the moon itself. One of them, Commander Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, thought he might do something similar to mark what was certainly an epochal moment in the history of our race. But what could one do to mark the first time human beings landed on another heavenly body? He asked Dean Woodruff, the pastor of his church in Webster, Texas, who had an idea.
What if he were to take communion? What is more basic to humanity than bread and wine? He could do it as his own way of thanking God—for the Earth and for everyone on it, and for our amazing ability to do things like build spacecraft that could fly to the moon. So the pastor gave him a small amount of consecrated bread and wine and a tiny chalice, and Mr. Aldrin took them with him to the moon. After the Eagle had landed and he and Neil Armstrong sat in the Lunar Module, Mr. Aldrin said this over the radio:
“This is the LM pilot. I’d like to take this opportunity to ask every person listening in, whoever and wherever they may be, to pause for a moment and contemplate the events of the past few hours and to give thanks in his or her own way.”
He then ended radio communication and there, on the silent surface of the moon, read a Bible verse, and took communion. For reasons he explains in his own account, none of this was made public until Mr. Aldrin wrote about it in Guideposts magazine the following year:
“In the radio blackout, I opened the little plastic packages which contained the bread and the wine. I poured the wine into the chalice our church had given me. In the one-sixth gravity of the moon the wine curled slowly and gracefully up the side of the cup.”
Then Mr. Aldrin read Jesus’ words from the Gospel of John: “I am the vine, you are the branches. Whosoever abides in me will bring forth much fruit. Apart from me you can do nothing.” He explained that he had wanted to read this over the radio back to Earth, but at the last minute NASA asked him not to because the agency was in a legal battle with the outspoken atheist Madalyn Murray O’Hair. As it happened, she was suing over the Apollo 8 crew reading from Genesis on Christmas Eve. And that of course is why so few people have heard of this amazing story.
I sometimes wonder what’s more amazing, this story—or the fact that so few people know about it. When I first heard it I almost couldn’t believe it was true, but about 10 years ago I had the honor and privilege of meeting Buzz Aldrin in person and asking him about it.
Mr. Aldrin said that he agreed not to read the words over the radio, but only “reluctantly.” I find his own words of the event very moving: “I ate the tiny Host and swallowed the wine. I gave thanks for the intelligence and spirit that had brought two young pilots to the Sea of Tranquility. It was interesting for me to think: the very first liquid ever poured on the moon, and the very first food eaten there, were the communion elements.”
And of course right now, as Christians around the world are celebrating the birth of Jesus, it’s fascinating to think that some of the first words spoken on the moon were his words, the powerless newborn in the dirty manger who came to Earth from heaven, and who made the Earth and the moon and all of us, in His own image. And who, in the immortal words of Dante, is himself the “Love that moves the Sun and other stars.”
Merry Christmas.
Mr. Metaxas is the author of “If You Can Keep It: The Forgotten Promise of American Liberty” (Viking, 2016) and host of the nationally syndicated Eric Metaxas Show (www.metaxastalk.com).

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Morning Offering to the Sacred Heart of Jesus

O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer You my prayers, works, joys and sufferings of this day for all the intentions of Your Sacred Heart, in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world, in reparation for my sins, for the redemption of the world, for the good of all who have asked me to pray for them and in particular for the bishops and for our Holy Father, the Pope. Amen.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

When was the last time the Holy Spirit spoke to you?



There are moments when the world changes. The life of William Wilberforce was one of those moments. Born in 1759, he experienced a conversion in 1784 and thereafter dedicated himself to the abolition of slavery and came to be that movement’s de facto leader. He and his movement succeeded in ending slavery in the British Empire by 1833, which in turn made abolition inevitable in the United States and the rest of the Christian world. Wilberforce was part of the very unfashionable Anglican evangelical movement. The upper-class sneered at evangelicals, especially those who, like Wilberforce, came from their own numbers. An evangelical Englishman had no future either in politics, or high society. They were a bunch of fanatics who distributed religious tracts outside taverns and one really wouldn’t want to be seen with or, infinitely worse, be one of them. Well, they changed the world and ended one of the greatest crimes of human history.

If one can speak of a leader of the Anglican evangelical movement the nod would have to go to John Wesley who lived and died an Anglican – an ordained one to boot! Wesley’s tireless missionary work among the poor of England started after a horrible ship ride home from a failed missionary journey to the Americas. On board he encountered a group of German Pietists and their pastor who maintained complete calm during a ferocious storm. As they prayed in the bow of the boat the English ran about in panic. Wesley asked the Pietist pastor why the Germans had been so calm while the Anglicans had been terrified. To which question the pastor posed another: “Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior and have you been sealed with the Holy Spirit?” Wesley had to admit that he didn’t know. After he arrived back in London he started to attend Pietist prayer meetings and on May 24, 1738, he experienced what he called a strange warming of the heart. From then on he was a fearless preacher throughout Great Britain despite persecution by his fellow Anglican clergymen. Wesley and his friends preached wherever they could despite the opposition of the less enthused. He was accused of all sorts of horrible things, including an attempt to re-establish Catholicism!

Wesley believed that the government sponsored Anglican Church had failed to call sinners to repentance, and these sinners even included corrupt clergy! Despite the great opposition, Wesley traveled Britain preaching the Gospel, mostly on horseback, until his death in 1791 at the age of 87.

So, am I suggesting that we all become Methodists? Wesley was never a Methodist. He died as an Anglican priest. I am merely suggesting that we answer the question that Wesley had to answer. Have you accepted Jesus Christ as the Lord of your life? Have you been sealed with his Holy Spirit?
Rephrase the question anyway you pleased but ask and answer it honestly. Can you honestly say that you have met Jesus of Nazareth in a personal way, or is he just a dead philosopher who has a lot of followers? And the second question: When was the last time the Holy Spirit spoke to you? If the answer is, “a long time ago,” then perhaps it's time to renew an old relationship. If the answer is never, maybe it’s time you asked the Holy Spirit to intervene in your life. If we all did this, I have a feeling things would be quite different.

Imagine a Church that expected the Holy Spirit to speak at staff meetings, parish councils, planning sessions, finance committees and even from the pulpit!!! I said a while ago, that just citizens make a just society not the other way around. If we could only expect God to speak, and if we learned to hear clearly, I suspect that the Church and the world would be very different places. (from Rev.KnowItAll)

Monday, September 26, 2016

St. Francis and the Blessing of Animals


It is a tradition in the Catholic Church to have "The Blessing of the Animals" so on October 4, 2016 our church, St. Teresa of Avila Catholic Church, will participate in this beautiful ceremony at noon.
It's very informal. Just bring your pets, dogs, cats, horses, sheep, goats, etc. to the area in front of the church a little before noon and Fr. Innocent will officiate. Here is a sample of how it goes:
Prayer:

All make the sign of the cross. The leader begins: Wonderful are all God's works. Blessed be the name of the Lord.

All respond: Now and for ever.

The leader may use these or similar words to introduce the blessing: The animals of God's creation inhabit the skies, the earth, and the sea. They share in the ways of human beings. They have a part in our lives. Francis of Assisi recognized this when he called the animals, wild and tame, his brothers and sisters. Remembering Francis' love for these brothers and sisters of ours, we invoke God's blessing on these animals, and we thank God for letting us share the earth with all the creatures.

Then the Scripture is read:

Listen to the words of the book of Genesis:

[In the beginning,] God said, "Let the water teem with an abundance of living creatures, and on the earth let birds fly beneath the dome of the sky." And so it happened: God created the great sea monsters and all kinds of swimming creatures with which the water teems, and all kinds of winged birds. God saw how good it was, and God blessed them, saying, "Be fertile, multiply, and fill the water of the seas; and let the birds multiply on the earth." Evening came and morning followed-the fifth day.

Then God said, "Let the earth bring forth all kinds of living creatures: cattle, creeping things, and wild animals of all kinds." And so it happened: God made all kinds of wild animals, all kinds of cattle, and all kinds of creeping things of the earth. God saw how good it was. (Genesis 1:20-25)

(Alternate reading such as Isaiah 11:6-10.)

The reader concludes: This is the Word of the Lord.

All respond: Thanks be to God.

After a time of silence, those present offer prayer of intercession for their animals and for all creatures. After the Lord's Prayer, the leader invites all to hold or place their hands on their animals in blessing:

O God, you have done all things wisely; in your goodness you have made us in your image and given us care over other living things.

Reach out with your right hand and grant that these animals may serve our needs and that your bounty in the resources of this life may move us to seek more confidently the goal of eternal life.

We ask this through Christ our Lord. R. Amen.

All make the sign of the cross as the leader concludes:

May God, who created the animals of this earth as a help to us, continue to protect and sustain us with the grace his blessing brings, now and for ever. R. Amen.

The blessing may conclude with a song such as "The Old Hundreth" (Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow), "All Creatures of Our God and King."

Prayer Source: Catholic Household Blessings and Prayers by Bishops' Committee on the Liturgy, National Conference of Catholic Bishops, NCCB/USCC, 1989

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Voter Confusion


Many people are very confused over who they should vote for in the 2016 election and while the Catholic Church will not tell you explicitly who to vote for, they do provide a very good guide written by Fr. Torraco. I found it to be very helpful.
A Brief Catechism for Catholic Voters
Fr. Stephen F. Torraco, PhD

1. Isn’t conscience the same as my own opinions and feelings? And doesn’t everyone have the right to his or her own conscience?

Conscience is NOT the same as your opinions or feelings. Conscience cannot be identical with your feelings because conscience is the activity of your intellect in judging the rightness or wrongness of your actions or omissions, past, present, or future, while your feelings come from another part of your soul and should be governed by your intellect and will. Conscience is not identical with your opinions because your intellect bases its judgment upon the natural moral law, which is inherent in your human nature and is identical with the Ten Commandments. Unlike the civil laws made by legislators, or the opinions that you hold, the natural moral law is not anything that you invent, but rather discover within yourself and is the governing norm of your conscience. In short, Conscience is the voice of truth within you, and your opinions need to be in harmony with that truth. As a Catholic, you have the benefit of the Church’s teaching authority or Magisterium endowed upon her by Christ. The Magisterium assists you and all people of good will in understanding the natural moral law as it relates to specific issues. As a Catholic, you have the obligation to be correctly informed and normed by the teaching of the Church’s Magisterium. As for your feelings, they need to be educated by virtue so as to be in harmony with conscience’s voice of truth. In this way, you will have a sound conscience, according to which we you will feel guilty when you are guilty, and feel morally upright when you are morally upright. We should strive to avoid the two opposite extremes of a lax conscience and a scrupulous conscience. Meeting the obligation of continually attending to this formation of conscience will increase the likelihood that, in the actual operation or activity of conscience, you will act with a certain conscience, which clearly perceives that a given concrete action is a good action that was rightly done or should be done. Being correctly informed and certain in the actual operation of conscience is the goal of the continuing formation of conscience. Otherwise put, you should strive to avoid being incorrectly informed and doubtful in the actual judgment of conscience about a particular action or omission. You should never act on a doubtful conscience.

2. Is it morally permissible to vote for all candidates of a single party?

This would depend on the positions held by the candidates of a single party. If any one or more of them held positions that were opposed to the natural moral law, then it would not be morally permissible to vote for all candidates of this one party. Your correctly informed conscience transcends the bounds of any one political party.

3. If I think that a pro-abortion candidate will, on balance, do much more for the culture of life than a pro-life candidate, why may I not vote for the pro-abortion candidate?

If a political candidate supported abortion, or any other moral evil, such as assisted suicide and euthanasia, for that matter, it would not be morally permissible for you to vote for that person. This is because, in voting for such a person, you would become an accomplice in the moral evil at issue. For this reason, moral evils such as abortion, euthanasia and assisted suicide are examples of a “disqualifying issue.” A disqualifying issue is one which is of such gravity and importance that it allows for no political maneuvering. It is an issue that strikes at the heart of the human person and is non-negotiable. A disqualifying issue is one of such enormity that by itself renders a candidate for office unacceptable regardless of his position on other matters. You must sacrifice your feelings on other issues because you know that you cannot participate in any way in an approval of a violent and evil violation of basic human rights. A candidate for office who supports abortion rights or any other moral evil has disqualified himself as a person that you can vote for. You do not have to vote for a person because he is pro-life. But you may not vote for any candidate who supports abortion rights. Key to understanding the point above about “disqualifying issues” is the distinction between policy and moral principle. On the one hand, there can be a legitimate variety of approaches to accomplishing a morally acceptable goal. For example, in a society’s effort to distribute the goods of health care to its citizens, there can be legitimate disagreement among citizens and political candidates alike as to whether this or that health care plan would most effectively accomplish society’s goal. In the pursuit of the best possible policy or strategy, technical as distinct (although not separate) from moral reason is operative. Technical reason is the kind of reasoning involved in arriving at the most efficient or effective result. On the other hand, no policy or strategy that is opposed to the moral principles of the natural law is morally acceptable. Thus, technical reason should always be subordinate to and normed by moral reason, the kind of reasoning that is the activity of conscience and that is based on the natural moral law.

4. If I have strong feelings or opinions in favor of a particular candidate, even if he is pro-abortion, why may I not vote for him?

As explained in question 1 above, neither your feelings nor your opinions are identical with your conscience. Neither your feelings nor your opinions can take the place of your conscience. Your feelings and opinions should be governed by your conscience. If the candidate about whom you have strong feelings or opinions is pro-abortion, then your feelings and opinions need to be corrected by your correctly informed conscience, which would tell you that it is wrong for you to allow your feelings and opinions to give lesser weight to the fact that the candidate supports a moral evil.

5. If I may not vote for a pro-abortion candidate, then should it not also be true that I can’t vote for a pro-capital punishment candidate?

It is not correct to think of abortion and capital punishment as the very same kind of moral issue. On the one hand, direct abortion is an intrinsic evil, and cannot be justified for any purpose or in any circumstances. On the other hand, the Church has always taught that it is the right and responsibility of the legitimate temporal authority to defend and preserve the common good, and more specifically to defend citizens against the aggressor. This defense against the aggressor may resort to the death penalty if no other means of defense is sufficient. The point here is that the death penalty is understood as an act of self-defense on the part of civil society. In more recent times, in his encyclical Evangelium Vitae, Pope John Paul II has taught that the need for such self-defense to resort to the death penalty is “rare, if not virtually nonexistent.” Thus, while the Pope is saying that the burden of proving the need for the death penalty in specific cases should rest on the shoulders of the legitimate temporal authority, it remains true that the legitimate temporal authority alone has the authority to determine if and when a “rare” case arises that warrants the death penalty. Moreover, if such a rare case does arise and requires resorting to capital punishment, this societal act of self-defense would be a *morally good action* even if it does have the unintended and unavoidable evil effect of the death of the aggressor. Thus, unlike the case of abortion, it would be morally irresponsible to rule out all such “rare” possibilities a priori, just as it would be morally irresponsible to apply the death penalty indiscriminately.

6. If I think that a candidate who is pro-abortion has better ideas to serve the poor, and the pro-life candidate has bad ideas that will hurt the poor, why may I not vote for the candidate that has the better ideas for serving the poor?

Serving the poor is not only admirable, but also obligatory for Catholics as an exercise of solidarity. Solidarity has to do with the sharing of both spiritual and material goods, and with what the Church calls the preferential option for the poor. This preference means that we have the duty to give priority to helping those most needful, both materially and spiritually. Beginning in the family, solidarity extends to every human association, even to the international moral order. Based on the response to question 3 above, two important points must be made. First, when it comes to the matter of determining how social and economic policy can best serve the poor, there can be a legitimate variety of approaches proposed, and therefore legitimate disagreement among voters and candidates for office. Secondly, solidarity can never be at the price of embracing a “disqualifying issue.” Besides, when it comes to the unborn, abortion is a most grievous offense against solidarity, for the unborn are surely among society’s most needful. The right to life is a paramount issue because as Pope John Paul II says it is “the first right, on which all the others are based, and which cannot be recuperated once it is lost.” If a candidate for office refuses solidarity with the unborn, he has laid the ground for refusing solidarity with anyone.

7. If a candidate says that he is personally opposed to abortion but feels the need to vote for it under the circumstances, doesn’t this candidate’s personal opposition to abortion make it morally permissible for me to vote for him, especially if I think that his other views are the best for people, especially the poor?

A candidate for office who says that he is personally opposed to abortion but actually votes in favor of it is either fooling himself or trying to fool you. Outside of the rare case in which a hostage is forced against his will to perform evil actions with his captors, a person who carries out an evil action ¾ such as voting for abortion ¾ performs an immoral act, and his statement of personal opposition to the moral evil of abortion is either self-delusion or a lie. If you vote for such a candidate, you would be an accomplice in advancing the moral evil of abortion. Therefore, it is not morally permissible to vote for such a candidate for office, even, as explained in questions 3 and 6 above, you think that the candidate’s other views are best for the poor.

8. What if none of the candidates are completely pro-life?

As Pope John Paul II explains in his encyclical, Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life), “…when it is not possible to overturn or completely abrogate a pro-abortion law, an elected official, whose absolute personal opposition to procured abortion was well known, could licitly support proposals aimed at limiting the harm done by such a law and at lessening its negative consequences at the level of general opinion and morality. This does not in fact represent an illicit cooperation with an unjust law, but rather a legitimate and proper attempt to limit its evil aspects.” Logically, it follows from these words of the Pope that a voter may likewise vote for that candidate who will most likely limit the evils of abortion or any other moral evil at issue.

9. What if one leading candidate is anti-abortion except in the cases of rape or incest, another leading candidate is completely pro-abortion, and a trailing candidate, not likely to win, is completely anti-abortion. Would I be obliged to vote for the candidate not likely to win?

In such a case, the Catholic voter may clearly choose to vote for the candidate not likely to win. In addition, the Catholic voter may assess that voting for that candidate might only benefit the completely pro-abortion candidate, and, precisely for the purpose of curtailing the evil of abortion, decide to vote for the leading candidate that is anti-abortion but not perfectly so. This decision would be in keeping with the words of the Pope quoted in question 8 above.

10. What if all the candidates from whom I have to choose are pro-abortion? Do I have to abstain from voting at all? What do I do?

Obviously, one of these candidates is going to win the election. Thus, in this dilemma, you should do your best to judge which candidate would do the least moral harm. However, as explained in question 5 above, you should not place a candidate who is pro-capital punishment (and anti-abortion) in the same moral category as a candidate who is pro-abortion. Faced with such a set of candidates, there would be no moral dilemma, and the clear moral obligation would be to vote for the candidate who is pro-capital punishment, not necessarily because he is pro-capital punishment, but because he is anti-abortion.

11. Is not the Church’s stand that abortion must be illegal a bit of an exception? Does not the Church generally hold that government should restrict its legislation of morality significantly?

The Church’s teaching that abortion should be illegal is not an exception. St. Thomas Aquinas put it this way: “Wherefore human laws do not forbid all vices, from which the virtuous abstain, but only the more grievous vices, from which it is possible for the majority to abstain; and chiefly those that are to the hurt of others, without the prohibition of which human society could not be maintained: thus human law prohibits murder, theft and such like.” [ emphasis added]. Abortion qualifies as a grievous vice that hurts others, and the lack of prohibition of this evil by society is something by which human society cannot be maintained. As Pope John Paul II has emphasized, the denial of the right to life, in principle, sets the stage, in principle, for the denial of all other rights.

12. What about elected officials who happen to be of the same party affiliation? Are they committing a sin by being in the same party, even if they don’t advocate pro-choice views? Are they guilty by association?

Being of the same political party as those who advocate pro-abortion is indeed a serious evil IF I belong to this political party IN ORDER TO ASSOCIATE MYSELF with that party’s advocacy of pro-abortion policies. However, it can also be true that being of such a political party has as its purpose to change the policies of the party. Of course, if this is the purpose, one would have to consider whether it is reasonable to think the political party’s policies can be changed. Assuming that it is reasonable to think so, then it would be morally justifiable to remain in that political party. Remaining in that political party cannot be instrumental in the advancing of pro-abortion policies (especially if I am busily striving to change the party’s policies) as can my VOTING for candidates or for a political party with a pro-abortion policy.

13. What about voting for a pro-abortion person for something like state treasurer, in which case the candidate would have no say on matters of life in the capacity of her duties, it just happens to be her personal position. This would not be a sin, right?

If someone were running for state treasurer and that candidate made it a point to state publicly that he was in favor of exterminating people over the age of 70, would you vote for him? The fact that the candidate has that evil in his mind tells you that there are easily other evils in his mind; and the fact that he would publicly state it is a danger signal. If personal character matters in a political candidate, and personal character involves the kind of thoughts a person harbors, then such a candidate who publicly states that he is in favor of the evil of exterminating people over the age of 70 - or children who are unborn - has also disqualified himself from receiving a Catholic’s vote. I would go further and say that such a candidate, in principle - in the light of the natural law - disqualifies himself from public office.

14. Is it a mortal sin to vote for a pro-abortion candidate?

Except in the case in which a voter is faced with all pro-abortion candidates (in which case, as explained in question 8 above, he or she strives to determine which of them would cause the let damage in this regard), a candidate that is pro-abortion disqualifies himself from receiving a Catholic’s vote. This is because being pro-abortion cannot simply be placed alongside the candidate's other positions on Medicare and unemployment, for example; and this is because abortion is intrinsically evil and cannot be morally justified for any reason or set of circumstances. To vote for such a candidate even with the knowledge that the candidate is pro-abortion is to become an accomplice in the moral evil of abortion. If the voter also knows this, then the voter sins mortally.

COPYRIGHT © 2002
Stephen F. Torraco

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

To die a martyr and turning the other cheek


Many Christians are very confused and deeply divided over a proper response to the terrorism we are experiencing by ISIS or Islamic Militant Extremists over the past few months. There have been so many instances this year alone; so many dead and wounded. I think people are shell shocked and don't really know what to do. I hear them say things like, "Christ wants us to turn the other cheek" and "We need to pray for our enemies".

Turning the other cheek is the counsel Christ gave in the instance of an individual when morally insulted: Humility conquers pride.
It has nothing to do with self-defense; and, yes, we are to pray for our enemies.

The Catholic Church has always maintained that the defiance of an evil force is not only a right but an obligation. Its Catechism (cf. #2265) cites St. Thomas Aquinas: “Legitimate defense can be not only a right but a grave duty for someone responsible for another’s life, the common good of the family or of the State.”

In fact, to defend our lives, the lives of our children, our faith, is our duty and obligation. God does not want us to simply lie down and let our enemies murder us. He does not want us to run and hide (metaphorically speaking). He wants us to confront evil wherever it exists. We are to be fearless warriors who champion His cause!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Who is Lynne Patton?

Lynne Patton, 43, is one of the most trusted members of the Trump Organization. She considers the Trumps to be family and rejects any suggestion that Donald is a racist or a misogynist. Please watch this video she made in response to all the misinformation and lies being told about Donald Trump.


Sunday, July 17, 2016

Was Hitler a Christian?


While reading an article published by an EWTN contributor,https://churchpop.com/2015/06/24/roman-exorcist-on-isis/, one of the readers left a comment that Hitler and the Nazi movement was "Christian". I knew this was wrong immediately and responded to the commentator that Hitler was not a christian but rather pagan. Then, I read this article published by Catholic Education who wrote a really good article regarding Hitler's belief system. It is really so good and worth reading:
http://www.catholiceducation.org/en/controversy/common-misconceptions/was-hitler-a-christian.html
Here is an excerpt that clearly defines their paradigm:

In his multi-volume history of the Third Reich, historian Richard Evans writes that "the Nazis regarded the churches as the strongest and toughest reservoirs of ideological opposition to the principles they believed in." Once Hitler and the Nazis came to power, they launched a ruthless drive to subdue and weaken the Christian churches in Germany. Evans points out that after 1937 the policies of Hitler's government became increasingly anti-religious.

The Nazis stopped celebrating Christmas, and the Hitler Youth recited a prayer thanking the Fuhrer rather than God for their blessings. Clergy regarded as "troublemakers" were ordered not to preach, hundreds of them were imprisoned, and many were simply murdered. Churches were under constant Gestapo surveillance. The Nazis closed religious schools, forced Christian organizations to disband, dismissed civil servants who were practicing Christians, confiscated church property, and censored religious newspapers. Poor Sam Harris cannot explain how an ideology that Hitler and his associates perceived as a repudiation of Christianity can be portrayed as a "culmination" of Christianity.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

A Midsummer Night's Dream


The first time I watched the 1935 version of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" with Anita Louise as Queen Tatania, Victor Jory as Oberon the King of the Faeries, Mickey Rooney plays the mischevious Puck, and a whole host of other characters, it was pure delight and enchantment. It was such a beautiful production - so dreamlike. The dialogue was musical and lovely to hear. Of course, I didn't really understand the story line, but then, I did not care. I wanted this world that was created on the screen. It took me away from the mundane and sometimes harsh world around me.


Queen Tatania (aka Anita Louise) was so beautiful. I wanted to look like her - to be her.


She was portrayed more like an angel than anything else.


“If we shadows have offended,
Know but this and all is mended.
That you have but slumbered here,
While these visions did appear,
And this weak and idle theme,
No more yielding, but a dream.”

Here are some excerpts:
In his multi-volume history of the Third Reich, historian Richard Evans writes that "the Nazis regarded the churches as the strongest and toughest reservoirs of ideological opposition to the principles they believed in." Once Hitler and the Nazis came to power, they launched a ruthless drive to subdue and weaken the Christian churches in Germany. Evans points out that after 1937 the policies of Hitler's government became increasingly anti-religious.

The Nazis stopped celebrating Christmas, and the Hitler Youth recited a prayer thanking the Fuhrer rather than God for their blessings. Clergy regarded as "troublemakers" were ordered not to preach, hundreds of them were imprisoned, and many were simply murdered. Churches were under constant Gestapo surveillance. The Nazis closed religious schools, forced Christian organizations to disband, dismissed civil servants who were practicing Christians, confiscated church property, and censored religious newspapers. Poor Sam Harris cannot explain how an ideology that Hitler and his associates perceived as a repudiation of Christianity can be portrayed as a "culmination" of Christianity.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Ecce Agnus Dei


There is something about saying prayers or singing in Latin that moves me deeply. I wish our parishes would continue to incorporate beautiful latin hymns, like Agnus Dei, in the mass. Instead, we are treated with "modern" music, while our hearts long for the other ancient hymns.
Here are the lyrics to Agnus Dei
Agnus Dei, qui tolas peccata mundi
Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world
miserere nobis
Have Mercy on us
Agnus Dei, qui tolas peccata mundi
Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world
Dona nobis pacem
Grant us peace
Listen to this beautiful ancient hymn sung during the mass -- now, this song makes you feel like you are being ushered into the presence of God.

Here is another beautiful traditional ancient hymn: O Sanctissima

and here is another one: Panis Angelicus

We would sing the Agnus Dei back in the 1990's and early 2000's at our traditional church, St. Joseph; however, once the old choir director died, the person that took over the duties had us start singing this:

Here is another example:

What's wrong with the last two examples you might ask? I personally don't find it "Holy" or edifying. These songs have a modern framework and do not usher me into the presence of God and His Holy Angels.
That's all.

Friday, June 17, 2016

The collapse of western civilization is going to be very inconvenient


I just finished reading this really great article written by Fr. Richard Simon (aka, RKIA) about the demise of western civilization. He starts out like this: "I had the privilege of teaching dead languages to comatose seminarians for many years at the seminary of Bathsheba Bible College. There I had the even greater privilege of working with Fr. Stanley, a renowned old professor. Once at lunch in the faculty dining room he sighed and said, “The collapse of western civilization is going to be very inconvenient.”

Then he goes on to give the reader a lesson in 20th century history beginning with the great wars, one and two, the Korean war, the Vietnam war, the cold war, and how all this chaos and poverty created a longing for material possessions in our culture and the longing became a goal that had to be fulfilled - suddenly, this desire replaced all other desires in our minds even to the point of forgetting our purpose on this earth we greedily reached into pandora's box and pulled out and consumed everything that would make our world better, brighter, happier, and more fulfilling. Out of this box came "the pill" that brought in the reign of sexual fulfillment. Sex without consequences. Sex for its own sake. Reach into the box again and pull out the idea of abortion and how "right" it felt to rid oneself of any impediment to the joy and gratification of consuming things - food, products, time to spend on oneself without constraint or impediment, and on and on. Reach into the box again and pull out sexual perversion in all its many forms - find justification for that in one's own mind and feel fulfilled. Only it really doesn't work that way, does it. The more we imbibe with unbridled restraint, the more we feel empty, lost, without purpose.

I think the 15th c. artist, Hieronymus Bosch, must have been a prophet for our times. We need to take heed, we need to take seriously the warning that God isn't interested in having us muck around in the mud devising every possible pleasure to enjoy. He wants us to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him forever in the next. And, yes, it is that simple.

Reverend Know-it-all: RKIA on materialsim and the decline in religious observance

Monday, June 13, 2016

Divine Mercy


This is my favorite rendition of the Divine Mercy Chaplet. I think it is so lovely and haunting. Sometimes I awake at night and listen to it in my head. It always calms me down. God is good and loves us with an infinite love.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Your Immaculate Mother


'To give worthy praise to the Lord's mercy, we unite ourselves with Your Immaculate Mother, for then our hymn will be more pleasing to You, because she is chosen from among men and angels. Through her, as through a pure crystal, Your mercy was passed on to us. Through her, man became pleasing to God; through her, streams of grace flowed upon us.'

St. Faustina

I have never seen this painting of Our Blessed Mother before -- isn't it beautiful? Her eyes are so clear and looks directly at the viewer as if to compel us to love her son. The artist is Leopold Kupelwieser and the painting is entitled, "The Heart of Mary". The painting is located in Vienna, Austria in a side chapel of Peterskirche in the St. Anthony chapel.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

You were ransomed with the precious Blood of Christ


IPeter 1:18-25
Beloved:
Realize that you were ransomed from your futile conduct,
handed on by your ancestors,
not with perishable things like silver or gold
but with the precious Blood of Christ
as of a spotless unblemished Lamb.
He was known before the foundation of the world
but revealed in the final time for you,
who through him believe in God
who raised him from the dead and gave him glory,
so that your faith and hope are in God.

Since you have purified yourselves
by obedience to the truth for sincere brotherly love,
love one another intensely from a pure heart.
You have been born anew,
not from perishable but from imperishable seed,
through the living and abiding word of God, for:

“All flesh is like grass,
and all its glory like the flower of the field;
the grass withers,
and the flower wilts;
but the word of the Lord remains forever.”
This is the word that has been proclaimed to you.

The Word of the Lord

Saturday, March 26, 2016

The Exsultet at Holy Saturday



The EXSULTET is one of the most spectacular moments of all the Church’s liturgical life.
When it is sung well in Latin the Church is in her glory!
Like a Eucharistic Prayer the Exsultet is a remembrance (anamnesis) which makes the past mysteries present to us. The singer deacon begs the congregation to pray for him as he tells the story of our family history of salvation with all the foreshadowing and “types” of our redemption. So great is God’s ability to turn evil to good that the deacon dares to call Adam’s fall our “happy fault… felix culpa” since because of it we were sent the gift of our Savior. You hear of the work of bees and the shattering of chains of sin. All evil is driven away.

The constant refrain is that this is a blessed night when heavenly and earthly realities merge together and become one.

Finally, there is a humble petition that God the Father will accept our Paschal candle, our evening sacrifice of praise, and make it into one of the lights of the heavens.

This poem/hymn/prayer is too much to grasp all at once. But year by year we have the chance to hear it renewed in the heart of the Church’s greatest night. The mysteries within it do not change, but we do. Each year we are a little different. We can hear it each year with new insight and understanding.

What happened to Jesus on Holy Saturday?? Do you know?


Holy Saturday is the “no man’s land” between death and resurrection, but into this “no man’s land” has entered the One, the Only One, who has crossed it with the signs of his passion for man: “Passio Christi. Passio hominis.” And the Shroud speaks to us precisely of that moment; it witnesses precisely to the unique and unrepeatable interval in the history of humanity and the universe, in which God, in Jesus Christ, shared not only our dying, but also our remaining in death. The most radical solidarity. In that “time-beyond-time” Jesus Christ “descended into hell” (“agli inferi”) What does this expression mean? It means that God, made man, went to the point of entering into the extreme and absolute solitude of man, where no ray of love enters, where there is total abandonment without any word of comfort: “hell” (“gli inferi”). Jesus Christ, remaining in death, has gone beyond the gates of this ultimate solitude to lead us too to go beyond it with him.
We have all at times felt a frightening sensation of abandonment, and that which makes us most afraid of death is precisely this [abandonment]; just as when as children we were afraid to be alone in the dark and only the presence of a person who loves us could reassure us. So, it is exactly this that happened in Holy Saturday: In the kingdom of death there resounded the voice of God. The unthinkable happened: that Love penetrated “into hell” (“negli inferi”): that in the most extreme darkness of the most absolute human solitude we can hear a voice that calls us and find a hand that takes us and leads us out. The human being lives by the fact that he is loved and can love; and if love even has penetrated into the realm of death, then life has also arrived there. In the hour of extreme solitude we will never be alone: “Passio Christi. Passio hominis.” - Pope Benedict, 2010

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Anne of Green Gables


"Isn't it splendid to think of all the things there are to find out about? It just makes me feel glad to be alive--it's such an interesting world. It wouldn't be half so interesting if we know all about everything, would it? There'd be no scope for imagination then, would there?"
- Lucy Maud Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

Our daughter has always loved the 'Anne of Green Gables' stories and read them avidly when she was just a young person and even into adulthood. She so loved and admired the character Anne that she named her first little girl after her. She is a beauty and, I am sure, with Jana's help will grow into a lovely woman.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Why we need to remember the Saints and Martyrs of our faith

John Houghton, Martyr and Saint (Artist, Francisco de Zurbarán (1598-1664)worked for churches & monasteries over a wide area of southern Spain and his paintings were also exported to South America. His simple compositions & emotionally direct altarpieces, combining austere naturalism with mystical intensity, made him an ideal Counter-Reformation painter.")

Saint John Houghton, O.Cart., (c. 1486-London, 4 May 1535) was a Carthusian hermit and Catholic priest and the first English Catholic martyr to die as a result of the Act of Supremacy by King Henry VIII of England. He was also the first member of his Order to die as a martyr.
Houghton, along with the other two Carthusians, Fr. Reynolds, and John Haile of Isleworth, was hanged, drawn and quartered at Tyburn on 4 May 1535.[3]

The three priors were taken to Tyburn in their religious habits. From his prison cell in the Tower, St. Thomas More saw the three Carthusian priors being dragged to Tyburn on hurdles and exclaimed to his daughter: "Look, Meg! These blessed Fathers be now as cheerfully going to their deaths as bridegrooms to their marriage!" John Houghton was the first to be executed. After he was hung, he was taken down alive, and the process of quartering him began.

Catholic tradition relates that when Houghton was about to be quartered, as the executioner tore open his chest to remove his heart, he prayed, "O Jesu, what wouldst thou do with my heart?" A painting of the Carthusian Protomartyr by the noted painter of religious figures, Francisco Zurbarán, depicts him with his heart in his hand and a noose around his neck. In the Chapter house of St. Hugh's Charterhouse, Parkminster, in England, there is a painting depicting the martyrdom of the three priors.

After his death, his body was chopped to pieces and hung in different parts of London. He was beatified on 9 December 1886 and canonized on 25 October 1970.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Sin wounds the image of God in us......


I worry about sinning and separating myself from God. He cannot dwell in a sinful vessel, yet it appears that He does. It's very confusing to me. I mean, does God pop out of my soul whenever I think or do something against His commandments and then pop back in as soon as I make a good confession? I fret over making a "good" confession -- what's that anyway?! When I knowingly do something wrong, I ask Jesus to forgive me and fill me with the Holy Spirit and the graces I need to live a holy life. I think He does it--as long as I am sincere; however, the Catholic church teaches us that we must confess our sins to a priest. This is very hard for me. I fumble around with my confession and hope that I did it right and always feel better when the priest pronounces forgiveness and absolution from my sins. And yet.....I go away wondering if it really worked.
St Augustine teaches that original sin wounds the image of God in us, and it is this wound that needs healing. St Paul defines sin this way--he says, “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” And yet...God calls us to 'Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect". How do we do that? Seems impossible.
My daughter re-posted an article on this topic the other day and it has helped me tremendously. Just in case I thought I was making some progress on my spiritual journey, I can always meditate on the Cardinal Virtues. A personal reflection might look like this:

Have I practiced the virtue of Chastity? For example:
• Have I permitted myself to watch movies or television shows that are not edifying; ones that depict sexual scenarios or advocate for cohabitation or homosexual relationships?
Have I practiced the virtue of Temperance? For example:
• Have I indulged my love of sweets or snack foods, to the detriment of my health?
• Have I continued to consume alcoholic beverages excessively?
• Have I been immoderate in any activity, such as watching too much TV?
Have I practiced the virtue of Charity? For example:
• Have I been a “busybody,” unkind to a neighbor either by my thoughts or by my actions?
• Have I had a smile for a family member or loved one, or was I critical, hurting someone’s feelings?
Have I practiced the virtue of Diligence? For example:
• Have I used my physical limitations as an excuse for laziness?
• Have I neglected prayer, ignored my friend’s birthday, sat around the house when I might have helped with chores?
• Have I exercised my responsibility to become familiar with political issues, and to vote for the candidates who will best protect Christian values.
Have I practiced the virtue of Patience? For example:
• Was I unkind (or downright rude) to a telephone caller, supermarket clerk, or visitor. Was I crabby when things didn’t go just the way I wanted?
• Did I complain about the service at a restaurant because we had to wait for service or the waitress wasn't "on top of things"?
• Did I criticize my doctor, my caretaker, my child, for not serving me better?
Have I practiced the virtue of Kindness? For example:
• Was I jealous of the attention paid to someone else, wanting everyone to notice me instead?
• Did I feel angry because my grown children did not have enough time to spend with me?
• Did I compliment someone who looked good, or did I only have harsh words to say?
Have I practiced the virtue of Humility? For example:
• Did I accept a compliment graciously but then move on, refusing to keep the attention turned toward myself?
• Was I willing to let someone else be the center of attention?
• Did I feel grateful for the kindness of my family and other’s efforts?
I read a book in 2012 called, 'Why Catholicism Matters' by Bill Donohue. It helped me to come to the understanding that only through the inculcation of these virtues in one's life, can we ever hope to 'Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect'. The author makes a wonderfully poignant statement when he says, " How can we craft a society that pushes us to be our neighbor's keeper? Then, he quotes Pope Benedict XVI, "authentic service requires sacrifice and self-discipline, which in turn must be cultivated through self-denial, temperance and moderate use of the world's goods."

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

How Much Do I Love God?

Mother Angelica related a story about when she was a novice and asked her confessor, "How do I know how much I love God?". The confessor answered, "That's easy--you love God as much as you love the least of your neighbors". Simple answer yet powerful. This answer blew me away. I rewrote the gist of the conversation a few times in a different way so that I could understand it better:
Whoever it is you love the least, is the height of your love for God or The neighbor you love the very least is the measure of the depth of your love for God. I never thought of loving God in this way and I am so glad that I heard her say this today. It really helps me to grow in my faith.
How about you? How much do you love the person that you like least of all?

Monday, August 3, 2015

Today is Toby's birthday


Nearly six and a half years ago God gave me a much needed gift -- Toby. I didn't think my heart was ready to hold another dog in it, but, I was wrong and God knew what I needed. Our dear Cassie died on March 7, 2008 and it broke my heart -- I won't write about it right now, but the date has a bearing on Toby's story. A year later, Alan was ready for another companion and was actively looking for one. Craigslist had a post for an Australian Shepherd puppy, so he persuaded me to go take a look. The dog was in Davis - a long drive.
Once we arrived and opened the door of the car, Toby came rushing over and hopped into the back seat. I couldn't believe it!! What a precocious little dog. We took a walk with Toby's "human caregiver", Toby, and his companion, 'Ashes' (a beautiful old border collie). Toby's owner, a doctor, talked about how important it was to treat dogs like dogs and not humans and she was very interested in making sure that Toby would get training. We didn't realize that we were being interviewed as potential caretakers until the hour long discussion and walk where she ended it by saying she had other people who were interested and she would let us know.
Feeling a little confused (we thought Toby was a 'rescue' dog as advertised) and sad, we said our good-byes to Toby and drove away. Finally we received a call from her to say that she had selected us as Toby's new owners and we could come and pick him up. The day we picked him up was the same day that Cassie had died the year before (Alan told me this later). Also, when I looked at Toby's litter certificate, it said he was born on August 3rd. The same day as Cassie -- only years later of course!! This couldn't be a coincidence and we felt that God was letting us know how much he cares about us and gave us this wonderful gift to ease our hearts and finish the healing process from Cassie's loss.
Well, today Toby is seven years old and he has been such a wonderful companion to us. He is always energetic and happy (except when we walk by certain dogs in the neighborhood) and loves to make sure we get our exercise.
I thank the Lord that He loves us so much and cares about every little thing.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Stag at eve had drunk his fill.....


The Stag Hunt
Sir Walter Scott (1771–1832)

From “The Lady of the Lake,” Canto I.

The stag at eve had drunk his fill,
Where danced the moon on Monan's rill,...

Then, as the headmost foes appeared,
With one brave bound the copse he cleared,
And, stretching forward free and far,
Sought the wild heaths of Uam-Var...

A moment listened to the cry,
That thickened as the chase drew nigh;
Then, as the headmost foes appeared,
With one brave bound the copse he cleared,...

For jaded now, and spent with toil,
Embossed with foam, and dark with soil,
While every gasp with sobs he drew,
The laboring stag strained full in view...

The wily quarry shunned the shock,
And turned him from the opposing rock;
Then, dashing down a darksome glen,
Soon lost to hound and Hunter's ken,
In the deep Trosachs' wildest nook
His solitary refuge took.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Angels guarding Graveyards

One of my favorite things to do is visit graveyards -- especially old ones. Nothing makes me sadder than to see a neglected graveyard; but it is surely a sign of our times. People are too busy to think of visiting their loved ones who have left this earth. Or, maybe they just don't like to think of death so they don't go. I don't know....but, it is a sad sad thing to see a graveyard completely abandoned. God's word tells us that we are to pray for the dead -- yes, they need our prayers and the masses said to assist them. So many people want to believe that when they die they will fly straight to heaven and be happy with God. They forget that God is holy and cannot abide anything that is not perfect. He exhorts us to be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect. When we take the time to visit graveyards, we need to pray for those who have died. They need our prayers so they can be on their way.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Best Obit I ever read.....


When you read this you can't help but feel like you know her and you sense the humor and love that was and remains alive in this family.
Pat Stocks, 94, passed away peacefully at her home in bed July 1, 2015. It is believed it was caused from carrying her oxygen tank up the long flight of stairs to her bedroom that made her heart give out. She left behind a hell of a lot of stuff to her daughter and sons who have no idea what to do with it. So if you're looking for 2 extremely large TV's from the 90s, a large ceramic stork (we think) umbrella/cane stand, a toaster oven (slightly used) or even a 2001 Oldsmobile with a spoiler (she loved putting the pedal to the metal), with only 71,000 kilometers and 1,000 tools that we aren't sure what they're used for. You should wait the appropriate amount of time and get in touch. Tomorrow would be fine. This is not an ad for a pawn shop, but an obituary for a great Woman, Mother, Grandmother and Great-Grandmother born on May 12, 1921 in Toronto, the daughter of the late Pop (Alexander C.) and Granny (Annie Nigh) Morris. She leaves behind a very dysfunctional family that she was very proud of. Pat was world-renowned for her lack of patience, not holding back her opinion and a knack for telling it like it is. She always told you the truth even if it wasn't what you wanted to hear. It was the school of hard knocks and yes we were told many times how she had to walk for miles in a blizzard to get to school, so suck it up. With that said she was genuine to a fault, a pussy cat at heart (or lion) and yet she sugar coated nothing. Her extensive vocabulary was more than highly proficient at knowing more curse words than most people learned in a lifetime. She liked four letter words as much as she loved her rock garden and trust us she LOVED to weed that garden with us as her helpers, when child labour was legal or so we were told. These words of encouragement, wisdom, and sometimes comfort, kept us in line, taught us the "school of hard knocks" and gave us something to pass down to our children. Everyone always knew where you stood with her. She liked you or she didn't, it was black or white. As her children we are still trying to figure out which one it was for us (we know she loved us). She was a master cook in the kitchen. She believed in overcooking everything until it chewed like rubber so you would never get sick because all germs would be nuked. Freezing germs also worked, so by Friday our school sandwiches were hard and chewy, but totally germ free. All four of us learned to use a napkin. You would pretend to cough, spit the food into it and thus was born the Stocks diet. If anyone would like a copy of her homemade gravy, we would suggest you don't. She will be sorely missed and survived by her brother George Morris, children: Shauna (Stocks) Perreault, Paul/Sandy (Debbie) Stocks and Kirk Stocks, son-in-law Ian Milnes and son from another mother, John McCleery, grandchildren: Lesley (Sean), Lindsay (Lucas), Ashley (James), David (Tia), Brett, Erin (Brian), Sean, Alex, Courtney and Taylor and great-grandchildren: Connor, Emily, Ainsley, Tyler and Jack. She was preceded in death by her loving husband Paul (Moo) Stocks and eldest daughter Shelley (Stocks) Milnes and beloved pets Tag, Tag, Tag and Tag. All whom loved her dearly and will never forget her tenacity, wit, charm, grace (when pertinent) and undying love and caring for them. Please give generously to covenanthousetoronto.ca "in memory". A private family 'Celebration of Life' will be held, in lieu of a service, due to her friends not being able to attend, because they decided to beat her to the Pearly Gates. Please note her change of address to her new place of residence, St John's York Mills Anglican Church, 19 Don Ridge Drive, 12 doors away from Shelley's place.
http://www.creativeminorityreport.com/2015/07/this-is-one-heck-of-obituary.html