Friday, September 30, 2011

18 Catholic universities join in appeal against contraceptive mandate

A group of 18 Catholic colleges and universities have joined in an appeal to the Obama administration to back away from a mandate that would require the institutions to provide contraceptive coverage in health-care plans.

The appeal was organized by the Center for the Advancement of Catholic Higher Education, a division of The Cardinal Newman Society, with legal support from the Alliance Defense Fund. Bishop Thomas Curry, an auxiliary of the Los Angeles archdiocese, also signed the appeal. Bishop Curry, who signed in his individual capacity, chairs the education committee of the US bishops’ conference.

“Catholic institutions will not compromise on the question of the immorality of contraception and sterilization or the grave injustice of abortion,” said Msgr. Stuart Swetland, the executive director of the Center for the Advancement of Catholic Higher Education, in explaining the appeal. “The administration seems to be telling Catholic institutions that the only way we can operate in their America is to abandon our core ethical beliefs. This law and its outrageously narrow religious exemption cannot stand.”

~ Via Catholic Culture.

St. Jerome

'Saint Jerome and the Angel' by Simon Vouet, 1625

Today is the memorial of St. Jerome, translator of the Bible into its official Latin version (the Vulgate), brilliant scholar, monk, traveler, teacher, letter writer, and consultant to Popes and Bishops. He is one of the most important figures in the history of the Church.

St. Jerome was born in Dalmatia around 340-345 AD to a wealthy Christian family. At the age of 20, he was sent to study in Rome, where he became fluent in Latin and Greek and developed a love for the classical writers. Here he acquired many worldly ideas, made little effort to control his pleasure-loving instincts, and lost much of the piety that had been instilled in him at home. He traveled throughout western Europe with a friend but that ceased when he had a conversion experience in Trier and decided to become a monk. He joined a community in Aquileia in 370, where he met some who would become his close friends and others his enemies. When the community disbanded, he decided to go east and he lived for years in the the Syrian desert as a hermit. He studied Hebrew, which he hated, but used it as a distraction against sexual temptations. He was ordained a priest in Antioch and at the age of 40 went to Constantinople, where he met and befriended St. Gregory of Nazianzus (one of the four great Greek Doctors of the Church).

St. Jerome became the secretary of Pope Damasus, who commissioned the Vulgate from him, which took him 30 years to write. His harsh temperament and his biting criticisms of his intellectual opponents made him many enemies in the Church and in Rome and he was forced to leave the city. Jerome went to Bethlehem, established a monastery, and lived the rest of his years in study, prayer, and asceticism. Jerome died at Bethlehem, September 30th, 420. Saint Jerome's remains are interred in the church of Saint Mary Major at Rome and his relics are in the Sistine chapel of Saint Mary Major in Rome.

Patron: Archeologists; archivists; Bible scholars; librarians; libraries; schoolchildren; students; translators.

Symbols: Cardinal's hat; lion; aged monk in desert; aged monk with Bible.

Quotes from St. Jerome:

“The Lord who is Truth and says, ‘I am the Truth,’ surrounds us with his truth like a shield to protect us against the stinging darts of the devil. Christ, who is Truth, holds up his shield that the shield of truth may vanquish falsehood and deceit.”

"The measure of our advancement in the spiritual life should be taken from the progress we make in the virtue of mortification; for it should be held as certain that the greater violence we shall do ourselves in mortification, the greater advance we shall make in perfection."

"I interpret as I should, following the command of Christ: 'Search the Scriptures,' and 'Seek and you shall find.' For if, as Paul says, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God, and if the man who does not know Scripture does not know the power and wisdom of God, then ignorance of Scriptures is ignorance of Christ."

"So valuable to heaven is the dignity of the human soul that every member of the human race has a guardian angel from the moment the person begins to be."

Prayer of St. Jerome for Christ's Mercy

O Lord, show Your mercy to me and gladden my heart. I am like the man on the way to Jericho who was overtaken by robbers, wounded and left for dead. O Good Samaritan, come to my aid. I am like the sheep that went astray. O Good Shepherd, seek me out and bring me home in accord with Your will. Let me dwell in Your house all the days of my life and praise You for ever and ever with those who are there.

The Letters of St. Jerome

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Feast of the Archangels: Sts. Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael

The three Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael are the only angels named in Sacred Scripture and all three have important roles in the history of salvation.

Michael's name means "who is like God?" Three books of the Bible speak of St. Michael: Daniel, Revelation and the Letter of Jude. In the book of Revelation or the Apocalypse, chapter 12:7-9, we read of a great war that went on in heaven. Michael and his angels battled with Satan. Michael became the champion of loyalty to God. We can ask St. Michael to make us strong in our love for Jesus and in our practice of the Catholic religion.

Patron: Against temptations; against powers of evil; artists; bakers; bankers; battle; boatmen; cemeteries; coopers; endangered children; dying; Emergency Medical Technicians; fencing; grocers; hatmakers; holy death; knights; mariners; mountaineers; paramedics; paratroopers; police officers; radiologists; sailors; the sick; security forces; soldiers; against storms at sea; swordsmiths; those in need of protection; Brussels, Belgium; Caltanissett, Sicily; Cornwall, England; Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee Florida; England; Germany; Archdiocese of Mobile, Alabama; Papua, New Guinea; Puebla, Mexico; San Miguel de Allende, Mexico; Sibenik, Croatia; Archdiocese of Seattle, Washington; Diocese of Springfield, Massachusetts.

Gabriel's name means "the power of God." He, too, is mentioned in the book of Daniel. He has become familiar to us because Gabriel is an important person in Luke's Gospel. This archangel announced to Mary that she was to be the mother of our savior. Gabriel announced to Zechariah that he and St. Elizabeth would have a son and call him John. Gabriel is the announcer, the communicator of the Good News. We can ask him to help us be good communicators as he was.

Patron: Ambassadors; broadcasting; childbirth; clergy; communications; diplomats; messengers; philatelists; postal workers; public relations; radio workers; secular clergy; stamp collectors; telecommunications; Portugal; Archdiocese of Seattle, Washington.

Raphael's name means "God has healed." We read the touching story of Raphael's role in the Bible's book of Tobit. He brought protection and healing to the blind Tobit. At the very end of the journey, when all was completed, Raphael revealed his true identity. He called himself one of the seven who stands before God's throne. We can ask St. Raphael to protect us in our travels, even for short journeys, like going to school. We can also ask him to help when illness strikes us or someone we love.

Patron: Blind; bodily ills; counselors; druggists; eye problems; guardian angels; happy meetings; healers; health inspectors; health technicians; love; lovers; mental illness; nurses; pharmacists; physicians; shepherds; against sickness; therapists; travellers; young people; young people leaving home for the first time; Archdiocese of Dubuque, Iowa; Archdiocese of Seattle, Washington.

Prayer to all the Archangels

St. Michael, St. Gabriel, St. Raphael, be with me today. Protect me from whatever could cause spiritual or physical harm. Help me be faithful to Jesus and a good communicator of his divine love. Amen.

Prayer to St. Michael

St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in the battle; be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the Devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the power of God, thrust into Hell, Satan and all the other evil spirits, who prowl about the world, seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

Prayer to St. Raphael

Blessed Saint Raphael, Archangel,We beseech thee to help us in all our needs and trials of this life, as thou, through the power of God, didst restore sight and give guidance to young Tobit. We humbly seek thine aid and intercession, that our souls may be healed,our bodies protected from all ills,and that through divine grace we may be made fit to dwell in the eternal Glory of God in heaven. Amen.

Prayer to St. Gabriel

O Blessed Archangel Gabriel, we beseech thee, do thou intercede for us at the throne of divine Mercy in our present necessities, that as thou didst announce to Mary the mystery of the Incarnation, so through thy prayers and patronage in heaven we may obtain the benefits of the same, and sing the praise of God forever in the land of the living. Amen.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

St. Lorenzo Ruiz and St. Wenceslaus, Martyrs

Today is the optional memorial of St. Lorenzo Ruiz and Companions, martyrs; St. Wenceslaus, martyr.

Saint Lorenzo Ruiz is the first canonized martyr of the Phillipines, and was canonized along with 15 companions - nine Japanese, four Spaniards, one Frenchman and one Italian - all of whom were on mission in Nagasaki, Japan, to evangelize and minister to the Japanese Christian community who were suffering the persecutions of the Japanese feudal Lords. Thirteen of the martyrs were Dominicans and three were Dominican Tertiaries

Lorenzo Ruiz was born in about 1600 to a Chinese Christian Father and a Tagala Christian mother in Manila, Phillipines. He was a devoted and active Catholic, involved in a Rosary Confraternity and became a husband and father of three.

In 1637 he was falsely accused of murder and forced to leave his country. The Domincan fathers who knew Lorenzo arranged to have him take a ship to Japan.

Soon after arriving in Japan, Lorenzo was captured for being Catholic and brought to Nagasaki, where he was tortured. He was promised safe passage back to his family if he renounced his faith, but he refused, reportedly saying that if he had a thousand lives he would die a thousand times for God. He was finally killed on September 29, 1637 by an infamous Japanese torture tool known as "the pit." All his companions were martyred in the same manner.

On February 18, 1981, Lorenzo Ruiz became the first person beatified outside the Vatican, when Pope John Paul II beatified him in the Phillipines. He was canonized on October 18, 1987, in Rome.

Saint Wenceslaus is the patron of both the Czech Republic and of Slovakia. He was born to a Christian duke and a pagan mother in 903 and was educated by his Christian grandmother, Saint Ludmilla.

When his father died, his mother took control of the Duchy and began to oppose Christianity. The people urged Wenceslaus to take power. He did so and protected and strengthened the Church.

Wenceslaus, well known for his Christian virtue, responded to a call to live a consecrated life and made a vow of virginity.

In 935, his mother and his brother, Boleslaus, plotted to kill him and take power. Wenceslaus was ambushed on his way to Church and hacked to pieces by his brother and his followers. Three days later his brother repented and had Wenceslaus' body buried in the Church of St. Vitus in Prague.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Congress to Investigate Planned Parenthood Abortion Business

A Congressional committee has taken the first steps in investigating the Planned Parenthood abortion business over abuses ranging from financial disparities to its compliance with federal regulations on taxpayer funding to concerns that it is covering up cases of sex trafficking.

In a September 15 letter obtained, Rep. Cliff Stearns, a Florida Republican who is the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Investigations, writes to Cecile Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood.

“Pursuant to Rules X and XI of the United States House of Representatives, the Committee on Energy and Commerce is examining the institutional practices and policies of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) and its affiliates, and its handing of federal funding,” Stearns writes. “That Committee has questions about the politics in place and actions undertaken by PPFA and its affiliates relating to its use of federal funding and its compliance with federal restrictions on the funding of abortion.”

The letter asks Richards to comply with current federal regulations and legal obligations by providing Congress with a wide range of documents within two weeks of the date of the letter.

“Please provide all internal audit reports conducted by PPFA and its affiliates from 1998 to 2010. If not clearly indicated in the audit reports, please detail how much PPFA and each affiliate expended and received in Title XIX Medicaid funding, Title X family planning, and any other federal funding,” the letter says.

The letter requests any information related to improper billing related to federally-funded programs, proof that federal funds are not being improperly used to pay for abortions by PPFA or its affiliates, audits by state agencies of any Planned Parenthood affiliate, and documentation of how many affiliates currently receive Title X family planning funding.

Read more

St. Vincent de Paul

Today is the memorial of St. Vincent de Paul, priest.

Born to a poor family in Pouy in the soutwest of France in 1581, Vincent was an intellectually gifted youth who began his theological studies at the age of 15 and was ordained at the age of 20.

On a voyage to the Holy Land, Vincent's ship was boarded by pirates and he was captured and sold into slavery in Africa, where he was held for two years before he converted his master to Christianity and was freed.

He returned to France and was appointed to a parish near Paris, from where he began to initiate and organize missions for the poor, destitute, forgotten, sick, uneducated, and unemployed.

He founded the Congregation of Priests of the Mission and the Congregation of the Daughters of Charity and sent priests to Africa to minister to and ransom slaves.

He vigorously opposed Jansenism and helped reform orders of priests and religious, famously preaching retreats around France.

The humble St. Vincent often spoke on humility saying once, "The most powerful weapon to conquer the devil is humility. For, as he does not know at all how to employ it, neither does he know how to defend himself from it."

Vincent died in 1660 in Paris and his body still lays there in an incorrupt state. He was canonized June 16, 1737, by Pope Clement XII.

Patron: charitable societies; horses; hospitals; leprosy; lost articles; prisoners; volunteers; spiritual help; Saint Vincent de Paul Societies; Vincentian Service Corps; Madagascar; diocese of Richmond, Virginia.

Spiritual Insights from St. Vincent de Paul

“No matter what others say or do, even if the wicked succeed, do not be troubled: commit everything to God and put your trust in him.”

“Extend mercy towards others, so that there can be no one in need whom you meet without helping. For what hope is there for us if God should withdraw His mercy from us?”

"You have been chosen to be at the disposition of Divine Providence and, if you do not fully submit ot It, you will loose much."

"But do you know what it is to labor in charity? It is to labor in God, for God is charity, and it is to labor for God purely and entirely; it is to do so in the grace of God."

"Make it a practice to judge persons and things in the most favorable light at all times and under all circumstances."

"We must love our neighbor as being made in the image of God and as an object of His love."

"Free your mind from all that troubles you; God will take care of things. You will be unable to make haste in this (choice) without, so to speak, grieving the heart of God, because he sees that you do not honor him sufficiently with holy trust. Trust in him, I beg you, and you will have the fulfillment of what your heart desires."

"It is our duty to prefer the service of the poor to everything else and to offer such service as quickly as possible. If a needy person requires medicine or other help during prayer time, do whatever has to be done with peace of mind. Offer the deed to God as your prayer.... Charity is certainly greater than any rule. Moreover, all rules must lead to charity."

"Perfection consists in one thing alone, which is doing the will of God. For, according to Our Lord's words, it suffices for perfection to deny self, to take up the cross and to follow Him. Now who denies himself and takes up his cross and follows Christ better than he who seeks not to do his own will, but always that of God? Behold, now, how little is needed to become as Saint? Nothing more than to acquire the habit of willing, on every occasion, what God wills."

"He who allows himself to be ruled or guided by the lower and animal part of his nature, deserves to be called a beast rather than a man."

"Whoever wishes to make progress in perfection should use particular diligence in not allowing himself to be led away by his passions, which destroy with one hand the spiritual edifice which is rising by the labors of the other. But to succeed well in this, resistance should be begun while the passions are yet weak; for after they are thoroughly rooted and grown up, there is scarcely any remedy."

"We ought to deal kindly with all, and to manifest those qualities which spring naturally from a heart tender and full of Christian charity; such as affability, love and humility. These virtues serve wonderfully to gain the hearts of men, and to encourage them to embrace things that are more repugnant to nature."

"It ought to be considered a great misfortune, not only for individuals, but also for Houses and Congregations, to have everything in conformity with their wishes; to go on quietly, and to suffer nothing for the love of God. Yes, consider it certain that a person or a Congregation that does not suffer and is applauded by all the world is near a fall."

"Humility and charity are the two master-chords: one, the lowest; the other, the highest; all the others are dependent on them. Therefore it is necessary, above all, to maintain ourselves in these two virtues; for observe well that the preservation of the whole edifice depends on the foundation and the roof. "

Monday, September 26, 2011

Pope plans to travel to Africa

September 26, 2011. ( Even though the pope just got back from his four day trip to Germany, his eyes are already set on his next international trip to Africa. From November 18th to the 20th, the pope will visit the country of Benin to meet with African bishops.

Two years ago, their Synod took place. So, during his visit, the pope plans to deliver the post Synodal exhortation to the group, which it use as a guide in the coming years.

During his visit, the pope will celebrate the 150th anniversary of Benin's evangelization. He will also honor the life and work of local cardinal Bernardin Gantin, who served as the Dean of the College of Cardinals for much of John Paul II's pontificate.

Sts. Cosmas and Damian, Martyrs

Today is the optional memorial of Sts. Cosmas and Damian.

Nothing is known of the lives of Saints Cosmas and Damian except that they suffered martyrdom in Syria during the persecution of Diocletian. A church erected on the site of their burial place was enlarged by the emperor Justinian. Devotion to the two saints spread rapidly in both East and West. A famous basilica was erected in their honor in Constantinople. Their names were placed in the canon of the Mass, probably in the sixth century.

Legend says that they were twin brothers born in Arabia, who became skilled doctors. Known as the "moneyless" and the "silverless", they never accepted money for their services, but offered them in the spirit of charity. When the persecution under Diocletian broke out, their very prominence rendered them marked objects of persecution. Being apprehended by order of Lysias, governor of Cilicia, they were arrested, tortured, and beheaded in the year 283.

St. Cosmas and St. Damian are patron saints of medicine, doctors and pharmacists. In fine art they are usually depicted in lined robes, hoods or cylindrical physicians’ hats, carrying surgeons’ bags and instruments. They are represented by a box of ointment and medical emblems.

Image Source

Friday, September 23, 2011

St. Pio of Pietrelcina (Padre Pio): Priest, Mystic, and Stigmatist

Today is the memorial of St. Pio of Pietrelcina (1887-1968).

St. Pio is one of my favorite saints. Miracles happened everyday of his life. He was a priest, a mystic, and a stigmatist who possessed many rare and mysterious gifts. He was bi-locational, that is, he appeared in two places at one time. He was able to communicate with others through mental telepathy. When he thought of them, they began to smell the scent of violets, which they associated with him. In the Confessional, he was able to tell people their sins in detail, even those which they did not confess to him. Through the simple means of touch, he was able to heal others. God had blessed him with an abundance of gifts that he used wisely to build up the body of Christ and to convert sinners.

Padre Pio was born in 1887 in the small village of Pietrelcina in southern Italy, the son of a shepherd. His baptized name was Francesco (Francis) Forgione. He joined the Capuchin friars at the age of 16 and was ordained as a priest seven years later. He spent fifty years at the monastery of San Giovanni Rotondo, where he was very much sought after as a spiritual advisor, confessor, and intercessor. Throughout his life, he experienced many mysterious health problems, suffering from high fevers and, at one time, was thought to have tuberculosis.

While praying before a crucifix, Padre Pio received the stigmata at the age of 31 and bore the wounds of Christ for fifty years. He was the first priest ever to be so blessed. The doctor who examined Padre Pio was unable to detect any natural cause for the wounds. When Padre Pio died in 1968, the wounds completely disappeared. In fact, there was not even any scaring of the skin, which was completely renewed, fulfilling a prediction that Padre Pio had made 50 years earlier that upon his death the wounds would heal.

Word of Padre Pio spread and after World War II, many traveled to see him both out of curiosity and piety. He was an extremely popular confessor and spent 18 hours a day in the confessional with people who came from all over the world to confess their sins to him. He possessed the gift of reading the hearts the penitents and he knew exactly the right words to say to bring healing, counsel, and encouragement to the sinner and to bring him closer to God.Padre Pio's humility -- manifested through his constant devotion to the Eucharist -- was impressive. He would often remark, "I only want to be a friar who prays."

Padre Pio entered Eternal Life on September 23, 1968 and was canonized on June 16, 2002 by Pope John Paul II. He died a few days after the fiftieth anniversary of his receiving the stigmata, and over 100,000 people attended his funeral. The pilgrimage town of San Giovanni Rotondo, where he lived for nearly all his life, is visited by approximately 8 million people a year.

A Few of My Favorite Padre Pio Quotes

Prayer is the best armor we have, it is the key which opens the heart of God.

Pray, hope and don't worry. Anxiety doesn't help at all. Our Merciful Lord will listen to your prayer.

Don't spend your energies on things that generate worry, anxiety and anguish. Only one thing is necessary: Lift up your spirit, and love God.

Our present life is given only to gain the eternal one and if we don't think about it, we build our affections on what belongs to this world, where our life is transitory. When we have to leave it we are afraid and become agitated. Believe me, to live happily in this pilgrimage; we have to aim at the hope of arriving at our Homeland, where we will stay eternally. Meanwhile we have to believe firmly that God calls us to Himself and follows us along the path towards Him. He will never permit anything to happen to us that is not for our greater good. He knows who we are and He will hold out His paternal hand to us during difficulties, so that nothing prevents us from running to Him swiftly. But to enjoy this grace we must have complete trust in Him.

Prayer is the oxygen of the soul.

You must speak to Jesus also with the heart, besides with the lips; indeed, in certain cases you must speak to Him only with the heart.

Oh, how precious time is! Blessed are those who know how to make good use of it. Oh, if only all could understand how precious time is, undoubtedly everyone would do his best to spend it in a praiseworthy manner!

The gates of Heaven are open for all creatures. (who repent) Remember Mary Magdalene.

A thousand years of enjoying human glory is not worth even an hour spent sweetly communing with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.

My heart feels as if it were being drawn by a superior force each morning just before uniting with Him in the Blessed Sacrament. I have such a thirst and hunger before receiving Him that it's a wonder I don't die of anxiety. I was hardly able to reach the Divine Prisoner in order to celebrate Mass. When Mass ended I remained with Jesus to render Him thanks. My thirst and hunger do not diminish after I have received Him in the Blessed Sacrament, but rather, increase steadily. Oh, how sweet was the conversation I held with Paradise this morning. The Heart of Jesus and my own, if you will pardon my expression, fused. They were no longer two hearts beating but only one. My heart disappeared as if it were a drop in the ocean.

Prayer for the Intercession of St. Pio of Pietrelcina

Dear God, You graciously blessed Your servant, St. Pio of Pietrelcina, with the gifts of the Spirit. You marked his body with the five wounds of Christ Crucified, as a powerful witness to the saving Passion and death of Your Son. Endowed with the with the gift of discernment, St. Pio labored endlessly in the confessional for the salvation of souls. with reverence and intense devotion in the celebration of Mass, he invited countless men and women to a greater union with Jesus Christ in the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist.

Through the intercession of St. Pio of Pietrelcina, I confidently beseech You to grant me the grace of (here state your petition). Amen. Glory be to the Father...(three times).

More Information on St. Pio of Pietrelcina:

 St. Pio of Pietrelcina: Meditation 

 Prayer for the Intercession of St. Pio of Pietrelcina 

 The Saints on Love: Some of my favorite quotes

St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina: Trials and Afflictions

A Catholic Perspective on Prayer and Suffering: Part I

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Pope to German lawmakers: Decision based on human nature will assure justice and peace

September 22, 2011. ( During his speech before Germany's parliament, the pope challenged all politicians to recognize right from wrong. During his speech before Germany's parliament, the pope challenged all politicians to recognize right from wrong.

Upon arrival, he was greeted with a long applause by his fellow German countrymen. Even though roughly 100 members of parliament boycotted his speech, their absence went mostly unnoticed, since some of their seats were occupied by former members of parliament.

In his speech, the pope talked, among other things, about the Nazi's rise to power and the importance of recognizing human rights. He went on to reflect on how a “legislator” or lawmaker can distinguish between good and evil.

Benedict XVI
“For most of the matters that need to be regulated by law, the support of the majority can be sufficient criterion. Yet it's evident that for the fundamental issues of law, in which the dignity of man and of humanity is at stake, the majority principle is not enough.”

Germany's past was also part of his speech. He described the anti-Nazi resistance fighters as heroes, because they knew how to distinguish right from wrong. They knew it was just to fight against something that was lawful, yet unfair.

He also highlighted that Christianity has never imposed a so called body of law to the State or to society. But rather, it has appealed to nature and reason as true sources of law.

Along those same lines, the pope said that when one's judgment is based only on functionality, justice itself becomes endangered. He called for “human ecology,” which focuses on having respect for human nature.

Benedict XVI
“There is also an ecology of man. Man too has a nature that he must respect and that he cannot manipulate at will. Man is not merely based on self-creating freedom. Man does not create himself. He is intellect and will, but he is also nature, and his will is rightly ordered if he listens to his nature, respects it and accepts himself for who he is, as one who did not create himself.”

The pope added that having faith in a God who created humankind and nature and also blessed people with dignity, has allowed the West to recognize the equality of all men.

Benedict XVI
“The conviction that there is a Creator, a God is what gave rise to the idea of human rights. The idea of the equality of all people before the law, the recognition of the inviolability of human dignity in every single person and the awareness of people’s responsibility for their actions. Our cultural memory is shaped by these rational insights.”

In closing, he asked all European politicians to protect the standards of justice that are now part of Western tradition.

But there was also room for laughter. The president of Germany's parliament, accidentally stepped on the pope's cassock. It drew some smiles, including one from Chancellor Angela Merkel.

St. Thomas of Villanova: "Father of the Poor"

Today's saint of the day is St. Thomas of Villanova.

Thomas García was the son of a miller who was born in the village of Villanova de los Infantes, Castille, Spain in 1486. He studied theology at the University of Alcalá, where he later taught arts, logic, and philosophy.

Thomas was offered the chair of philosophy at the prestigious University of Salamaca, but declined it, but, instead, entered the Augustinian Order. Ordained to the priesthood in 1520, he celebrated his first Mass on Christmas day. Thomas served as prior of the Augustinian houses in Salamaca, Burgos, and Valladolid, and was later elected provincial of Andalusia and Castile. As provincial, he sent the first Augustinian missionaries to the New World to evangelize what is now modern Mexico.

Thomas' many gifts, particularly his scholarship, powerful oratory, skills as a mediator and administrator, and his love and compassion for others, brought him to the attention of Emperor Charles V, who appointed him court chaplain and later archbishop of Valencia in 1544.

The intellectual legacy of Thomas is reflected in his constant demand that all learning must be inspired by the desire for God. Thomas cerebrated learning as an activity that ought to make a difference in the community and in the world. He emphasized that justice and love are the guiding rules of virtue and learning. In Thomas' writings we find a rich synthesis of the thought of Augustine and Thomas Aquinas, especially his emphasis on the innate desire for God in all peoples, the image of God in the human person, the power of grace, and a theology of love.

Thomas found himself in an ecclesiastical world that was fraught with turmoil and struggles for power. His scathing attacks on his fellow bishops earned him the title of reformer, but they were motivated by a genuine desire that church leadership personify the teachings of the Beatitudes. Thomas challenged all within the Church to serve the least powerful, and discover love and wisdom in the service of others.

Thomas was known as the "father of the poor." He established many social programs for the poor, including boarding schools and high schools for poor young men. He provided dowries for young women, enabling them to be married with dignity. He also created a soup kitchen for the poor in the Bishop's palace, and provided shelter for the homeless.

In August of 1555, Thomas became ill with angina pectoris. As he lay dying, Thomas insisted that all his money be distributed to the poor. At the conclusion of Holy Mass in his room, shortly after receiving Jesus in the Eucharist, his last words were "In manus tuas, Domine..." ("Into Your hands, O Lord [I commend my spirit]").

Thomas was canonized on November 1, 1658.

Patronage: Genzano di Roma, Italy

Symbols: open purse; wallet; bishop's mitre; book; bag of coins.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Feast of St. Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist

 Today is the feast of St. Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist.

St. Matthew was born at Capernaum. He was working as a tax collector when Jesus called him to be one of the twelve apostles. He wrote his gospel in Hebrew. His gospel, with its familiar references to the messianic prophecies, throws light on the continuity between the covenants. Moreover, his vocation is one of the most popular episodes in the life of Jesus, because of the personality of the one called the tax collector and the revelation of redeeming love that concludes and crowns the story. Matthew's position as tax collector equated with collaboration with the enemy by those from whom he collected taxes. Jesus' contemporaries were surprised to see Christ with a traitor, but Jesus explained that he had come "not to call the just, but sinners."

"Mark and Luke call Matthew by his Jewish name Levi and Mark says that he was "the son of Alphaeus" (Mark 2:14). He may have been the brother of James, who is also called the "the son of Alphaeus" (Mark 3:18). The name Matthew means "gift of Yaweh" and it is possible that he was given this name when he followed Jesus.

Because of his profession, Jews of strict observance would have nothing to do with him, for he fell under a religious ban. He was despised by the Pharisees who hated all publicans (tax collectors for the Romans). Therefore, his response to the call of Jesus to follow him is all the more remarkable, as he stood up at once, "leaving everything behind" (Luke 5: 28).

Matthew's Gospel is given pride of place in the canon of the New Testament, and was written to convince Jewish readers that their anticipated Messiah had come in the person of Jesus. He preached among the Jews for 15 years; his audiences may have included the Jewish enclave in Ethiopia, and places in the East.

In art, St. Matthew is represented by an angel holding a pen or an inkwell.

Saint Matthew is the patron of: accountants, bankers, bookkeepers, customs officers, financial officers, guards, money managers, Salerno, Italy, security forces, security guards, stockbrokers, tax collectors, the diocese of Trier, Germany.

Collect: God of mercy, you chose a tax collector, Saint Matthew, to share the dignity of the apostles. By his example and prayers help us to follow Christ and remain faithful in your service. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Fr. Barron on St. Teresa of Avila's Mysticism

In this exclusive sneak peak of CATHOLICISM, find out about St. Teresa’s “Interior Castle” and where to find your very own castle. Fr. Barron also shares some excellent thoughts on the place of all those “freaky supernatural elements” of our faith and on the scientific reductionism that doesn’t get them.

This exclusive preview clip was from CATHOLICISM, Episode IX: “THE FIRE OF HIS LOVE –PRAYER AND THE LIFE OF THE SPIRIT”.

In this episode, Father Barron explores Catholic spirituality, which is centered on prayer. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church states: “Prayer is the lifting up of the mind and the heart to God.” On pilgrimage to the places where the great saints and spiritual masters lived, Father Barron explores the different types of prayer: contemplation; adoration; petition; and intercession. In telling the stories of Catholics like Thomas Merton, St. Theresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross, Fr. Barron demonstrates how the human person can be transformed through prayer that manifests a deep, spiritual commitment centered in Christ.

H/T: Matthew Warner

Pope prepares for busy trip to Germany

September 20, 2011. ( The pope will have a busy schedule in his upcoming trip to Germany. To start off, the Vatican says, the pope will meet with representatives of other major religions during the visit which runs from September 22nd to the 25th. He has a total of 18 official speeches planned in Berlin, Erfurt and Freiberg. The pope will have a busy schedule in his upcoming trip to Germany. To start off, the Vatican says, the pope will meet with representatives of other major religions during the visit which runs from September 22nd to the 25th. He has a total of 18 official speeches planned in Berlin, Erfurt and Freiberg. The first major speech will be on the 22nd, when the pope addresses Germany's parliament in Berlin. He's also planning on meeting the local Jewish community. Afterward, the pope will celebrate a Mass in Berlin's Olympic Stadium. On Friday the 23rd, the pope will meet with the Muslim community. Then, he plans to travel to the city of Erfurt, where he'll visit the Augustinian monastery where Martin Luther studied. In that very spot, he'll also meet with leaders of the Evangelical Church in Germany. Then, an inter-religious celebration will take place. The pope will also stop at the Etzelsbach shrine in what used to be former East Germany. As part of the trip, he'll also visit the seminary of Freiburg, where he will meet with former Chancellor Helmut Kohl. Leaders of the Orthodox Church will also be present as well as the Central Committee of German Catholics. In the evening, he will attend a prayer vigil with about 15,000 youths. Before leaving the country, the pope will also greet the judges of the Federal Constitutional Court to honor the Constitution written after World War II. Since the official language of the trip is German of course, the pope will also improvise many of his speeches.

St. Andrew Kim Taegon, St. Paul Chong Hasang, and Companions (Korean Martyrs)

Today is the memorial of St. Andrew Kim Taegon, priest and martyr, St. Paul Chong, martyr, and companions. During the persecutions of 1839, 1846, 1866, and 1867, one hundred and three Christians in Korea gave their lives as martyrs. The martyrs included clergy, but were, for the most part, members of the laity. They consecrated the rich beginnings of the Church in Korea with their blood. Among them were Fr. Andrew Kim of Taegon, the first Korean priest and pastor, and Paul Chong of Hasang, a lay apostle.

St. Andrew Kim Taegon was born into a noble Korean family. He traveled to China to become a Catholic priest and he was ordained in Macao. When he returned to Korea, as the first native priest, he was arrested, tortured, and eventually beheaded.

Paul Chong Hasang was a seminarian, aged 45. As a layman, he was one of the great founders of the Catholic Church in Korea. He was persecuted before he could be ordained.


"We have received baptism, entrance into the Church, and the honor of being called Christians. Yet what good will this do us if we are Christians in name only and not in fact?"

~St. Andrew Kim Taegon

"I urge you to remain steadfast in faith, so that at last we will all reach heaven and there rejoice together."

~ Saint Andrew Kim Taegon, Final Exhortation


It is interesting to note that during the Korean War of 1950 - 53 many priests, nuns, and lay people were killed or expelled. In today's still divided Korea, the Church flourishes in the South, both in terms of numbers and intellectually, but it remains underground in the North.

"The Korean Church is unique because it was founded entirely by laypeople. This fledgling Church, so young and yet so strong in faith, withstood wave after wave of fierce persecution. Thus, in less than a century, it could boast of 10,000 martyrs. The death of these many martyrs became the leaven of the Church and led to today's splendid flowering of the Church in Korea. Even today their undying spirit sustains the Christians of the Church of Silence in the north of this tragically divided land."

~Pope John Paul II at the canonization of the Korean Martyrs, May 6, 1984


Almighty Father, You have created all nations and You are their salvation. In the land of Korea, Your call to the Catholic faith formed a people of adoption whose growth You nurtured by the blood of Saints Andrew, Paul, and their companions. Through their intercession, give us the strength to always remain faithful to Your commandments and to courageously and boldly proclaim the gospel message to all your people through our actions and our words. We ask this through in the precious name of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Monday, September 19, 2011

What's It For?

What is the purpose of life? One of my favorite priests, Fr. Eric Weldon, from the Catholic Diocese of Wichita, provides a one-minute homily on this topic.

Pope addresses agnostics in Germany

September 19, 2011. ( This video of the pope is part of a four minute speech, which was recently aired by a German Television Network. In it, the pope talks about his eagerness to visit his home country, but most importantly he talks about the apostolic trip.

The pope's visit will run from September 22nd to the 25th. It includes a visit to Berlin, where the pope will address Germany's national parliament. Afterward, he'll celebrate a Mass at the Olympic Stadium.

During the short speech, the pope said he's also looking forward to his visit in Erfurt, where aside from visiting the Augustinian monastery he will also pray with representatives of the Evangelical Church.

Germany has a population of roughly 82 million people, of which 71 percent are Christians. Five percent are Muslim and 24 percent are agnostic. During his speech, the pope addressed those who have religious doubts.

Benedict XVI

“You ask me, but does God exist? And if He exists does He really concern Himself with us? Can we reach Him? It is, indeed true that we cannot place God on the table, we cannot touch Him or pick Him up like an ordinary object. We must discover our capacity to perceive God, a capacity that exists within us. We can get some idea of the greatness of God in the greatness of the Cosmos.”

The answer lies in knowing how to recognize God and his message. This in turn says the pope, can turn into hope.

Feast of Our Lady of La Salette

Today we celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of La Salette.

On Saturday, September 19, 1846, the feast day of Our Lady of Sorrows about 3:00 in the afternoon, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared on the mountain in La Salette, France to fifteen-year-old Melanie Calvat and eleven-year-old Maximin Giraud, two young shepherds. Mary appeared in a resplendent light as a beautiful woman dressed in a strange costume, seated on a stone, her face buried in her hands, crying. The beautiful lady then stood up and crossed her arms. She told the children not to be afraid but reassured them that she had great news to share. She gave them both a public message and asked them to make her message known to all her people. Our Lady called the townspeople to repent of their sins and to turn back to Christ.

 The Blessed Mother told them: "If my people do not wish to submit themselves, I am forced to let go of the hand of my Son. It is so heavy and weighs me down so much I can no longer keep hold of it." She lamented with tears those who do not keep Sunday holy and those who take the name of the Lord in vain. She went on to speak of the hope of divine mercy if the people amended their lives, and encouraged the children to say their prayers regularly. She told them:"You should say them well, at night and in the morning, even if you say only an Our Father and a Hail Mary when you can't do better. When you can do better, say more." Our Lady then shared a private secret with each of the children.

Blessed Melanie Calvat was instructed to found a new religious order, the Order of the Mother of God, which would associate under one single common rule more than one community.

Blessed Melanie was told by the Mother of God to make known her secret after the year 1858. In 1851, both secrets were written down and handed to Pope Pius IX. The apparition at La Salette was approved at this time. In 1888, the secret was published.

The Secret:

Three quarters of France will lose the Faith.
A Protestant nation in the North shall repent and return to God.
The Church shall grow once more.
The peace will be destroyed by a "monster" [Communism] at the end of the 19th Century or beginning of the 20th century.
The children did not share their secrets with one another and Maxim's secret has never been revealed.


“God our Father, by the precious blood of your Son, you reconciled the world to yourself and, as she stood beside his cross, made his Mother the Reconciler of sinners. By her kind intercession, may we obtain the forgiveness of our sins. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.”

~ From the Divine Office of Our Lady of La Salette

Friday, September 16, 2011

"Ben Hur Live" comes to Rome

Fr. Barron on Conscience

Fr. Frank Pavone: Greetings from Amarillo

For more information:

Diocese of Amarillo Issues Clarification Affirming Fr. Frank Pavone’s Good Standing and Character

Independent Auditors Issue Unqualified Audit Opinion for Priests for Life

Previous Post:

Fr. Frank Pavone Appealing to the Vatican

Sts. Cornelius and Cyprian

Today is the memorial of Sts. Cornelius and Cyprian. These two contemporaries, martyred in 253 and 258 respectively, were linked by one particular issue: what to do with those Christians who lapsed through fear in time of persecution, and then wished to return? An influential Roman priest, Novatian, maintained that they could not be forgiven (along with murderers, adulterers and those in second marriages). Cornelius and Cyprian strongly took the opposite view.

A Roman priest, Cornelius was elected Pope in 251 to succeed Fabian, at the time of the persecution of the Christians by the Emperor Decius. Novatian denied the Church’s authority to forgive serious sins, such as abandoning the faith during a time of danger. Novatian even had himself consecrated as a rival bishop of Rome, thereby becoming an anti-pope. Pope Cornelius, backed by St. Cyprian and Saint Dionysius, upheld the Church’s teaching, and allowed sinners to do penance and return to the Church. In 253, St. Cornelius was exiled by the authorities, and died shortly afterwards of ill-treatment. Because of this, was considered a martyr. A document from Cornelius shows the size of the Church in his papacy 46 priests, 7 deacons, 7 subdeacons, and approximately 50,000 Christians.

Cyprian, a brilliant thinker and speaker, was a native of Carthage in North Africa. At the age of 46, he was converted to Christianity and three years later was unanimously elected Bishop by the local Christian clergy and people. He was an energetic shepherd of souls and a prolific writer. He defended the unity of the Church against schismatic movements in Africa and Italy, and greatly influenced the shaping of Church discipline relative to reinstating Christians who had apostatized. He fled during the Decian persecution but guided the Church by means of letters. During the Valerian persecution (258) he was beheaded.

Together Cornelius and Cyprian share a feast day to remind us of the unity that the Church should always practice and celebrate. This unity is a mark of the presence of Jesus who is at the Center.

Cornelius is the patron saint against ear ache; against epilepsy; fever; cattle; domestic animals. Cyprian is the patron saint of Algeria and North Africa.

Collect: God our Father, in Saints Cornelius and Cyprian you have given your people an inspiring example of dedication to the pastoral ministry and constant witness to Christ in their suffering. May their prayers and faith give us courage to work for the unity of your Church. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Fr. Barron comments on The Two Minus One Pregnancy

Father Barron comments on the NY Times article in which a woman chooses to kill one of the healthy unborn twins she conceived via IVF:

Pope speaks with new bishops about their relationship with different Catholic movements

September 15, 2011. ( These bishops were named within the last year. In a private meeting, they met with Benedict XVI at Castel Gandolfo, where they were asked to reflect on their mission and responsibility as they take on their new role in the Church.

Benedict XVI
“With serenity, you can listen and welcome the message given to the Church by the Holy Spirit. With this you can harvest the unity of faith and love.”

Above all, the pope also highlighted the need for bishops to work together not only with their congregation, but also with different movements and lay groups. With unity said the pope, one's community will be even stronger.

Benedict XVI
“A bishop, as you well know, is not one single person, but rather part of an episcopal unit that comes from an Apostolic body, so that every day it may lead us to Jesus.”

The pope concluded by saying that the work of the bishops both in their lives and in their diocese, should be an example to other priests in their communities.

For the last ten years, the Congregation of Bishops has invited newly consecrated bishops to Rome, so they can reflect on the responsibilities and challenges that may lay ahead.

Our Lady of Sorrows

Today is the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows. On this feast, we commemorate the seven great sorrows which Mary lived in relation to Her Son, as they are recorded in the Gospels or through Tradition. Today we are invited to reflect on Mary's deep suffering:

1. At the prophecy of Simeon: "You yourself shall be pierced with a sword - so that the thoughts of many hearts may be laid bare." (Luke, 2:35).

2. At the flight into Egypt; "Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt." (Matt. 2:13).

3. Having lost the Holy Child at Jerusalem; "You see that your father and I have been searching for you in sorrow." (Luke 2:48).

4. Meeting Jesus on his way to Calvary;
5. Standing at the foot of the Cross; "Near the cross of Jesus there stood His mother." (John, 19:25).
6. Jesus being taken from the Cross
7. At the burial of Christ.

Patron: people named Dolores, Dolais, Deloris, Dolorita, Maria Dolorosa, Pia, and Pieta.


O most holy Virgin, Mother of our Lord Jesus Christ: by the overwhelming grief you experienced when you witnessed the martyrdom, the crucifixion, and the death of your divine Son, look upon me with eyes of compassion, and awaken in my heart a tender commiseration for those sufferings, as well as a sincere detestation of my sins, in order that, being disengaged from all undue affection for the passing joys of this earth, I may sigh after the eternal Jerusalem, and that henceforward all my thoughts and all my actions may be directed towards this one most desirable object. Honor, glory, and love to our divine Lord Jesus, and to the holy and immaculate Mother of God. Amen.

~Saint Bonaventure

Litany of Our Lady of Sorrows

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Pro-life Memorial Day is October 3, 2011

On the first Monday in October, the U.S. Supreme Court begins its new term. This is a day on which pro-lifers across the nation will mourn the victims of America's hidden holocaust: abortion.

Who will hear the cries of these preborn children? Who will be their voice? Who will mourn their deaths? On October 3rd, thousands of Americans will be mourning the victims of abortion by gathering for prayer and candlelight vigils at the U.S. Supreme Court and abortion facilities nationwide.

Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross

Today is the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. This feast is also called the Triumph of the Cross, Elevation of the Cross, Holy Cross Day, Holy Rood Day, or Roodmas.

The public veneration of the Cross of Christ originated in the fourth century, beginning with the miraculous discovery of the cross on September 14, 326, by Saint Helen, mother of Constantine, while she was on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem -- the same day that two churches built at the site of Calvary by Constantine were dedicated.

In the Western Church, the feast came into prominence in the seventh century, after Emperor Heraclius of Constantinople recaptured the cross of Christ from the Persians and returned it to Jerusalem.

On this feast day, we honor the Holy Cross by which Christ redeemed the world. The Cross -- because of what it represents -- is the most potent and universal symbol of the Christian faith. We revere the instrument by which Jesus Christ, Our Lord, saved us. Once an object of scorn, the cross has become our “glory."

We, too, embrace the cross which He gives to us, because, as Christians, we are given the honor to share in His sufferings. If we stand up for Him in our beliefs, we can expect to be mocked, ridiculed, and persecuted for our beliefs. But, we can also expect that Jesus Christ will be there with us, in the midst our sufferings, sharing in our pain, and conquering the anguish, despair, and sorrow, replacing it with His peace, hope, and joy.

Father Frank Pavone, Director of Priests for Life, tells us “Jesus Christ was not crucified by the power of wicked men, but by the silence of good men.” Let us speak out boldly our Christian beliefs and never yield to the temptation to remain silent – especially when it comes to defending human life. Let us kneel at the foot of the cross and adore. Let us kneel at the foot of the cross and emulate Him whom we love. Let us kneel at the foot of the cross and surrender our hearts to the One who loves us.

The Cross contains in itself the mystery of salvation, because, in the Cross, Love is lifted up. This is the lifting up of Love to the supreme point in the history of the world: in the Cross Love is lifted up and the Cross is at the same time lifted up through Love. And from the height of the Cross, love comes down to us. Yes: "The Cross is the most profound condescension of God to man . . . The Cross is like a touch of eternal love upon the most painful wounds of man’s existence" (Pope John Paul II, Dives in Misericordia,8)

Collect: God our Father, in obedience to you, your only Son accepted death on the cross for the salvation of mankind. We acknowledge the mystery of the cross on earth. May we receive the gift of redemption in heaven. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Saint Quotes on Suffering and the Cross

"From here on earth, Love cannot live without suffering. It is through loving the cross that we discover His Heart, for divine Love never lives without suffering. I want my whole life to be inspired by love. He who loves, does all things easily, or, if he suffers, he suffers bravely. Why is suffering necessary? Because on earth, pure love cannot exist without suffering. O Jesus, Jesus, I no longer feel my cross when I think of yours!"

~ St. Bernadette Soubirous

"Jesus said to me; 'How many times would you have abandoned Me, my son, if I had not crucified you. Beneath the cross, one learns love, and I do not give this to everyone, but only to those souls who are dearest to Me."

~ St. Pio of Pietrelcina

"We are co-redeemers of the world. And souls are not redeemed without the cross."

~ St. Teresa of the Andes

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Fr. Frank Pavone Appealing to the Vatican

Jill Stanek and the Anchoress provide the background for this story, but here we get it "straight from the horse's mouth." Here is Fr. Pavone's official statement about the charges made against him via Alveda King's blog. Father Pavone is appealing his case to Rome. I am praying for the restoration of his good name and that justice prevail in his case:

For the past several years, my Ordinary, the Most Reverend Patrick Zurek, Bishop of Amarillo, has given me permission to do the full-time pro-life work that I have done since 1993. In 2005, I made a public promise in a Church ceremony in Amarillo, presided over by a Vatican Cardinal, that this full-time pro-life work would be a lifetime commitment. That’s a commitment I promise to fulfill without wavering.

This past week, however, I received a letter from the Bishop insisting that I report to the Diocese this Tuesday, September 13 and, for the time being, remain only there.

I am very perplexed by this demand…. [H]e has said that he thinks I am giving too much priority to my pro-life work, and that this makes me disobedient to him. He also has claimed that I haven’t given him enough financial information….

Priests for Life has consistently provided every financial document requested by Bishop Zurek, including annual financial audits, quarterly reports, management documents – even entire check registers! Priests for Life has been completely transparent with Bishop Zurek and any other bishops who have requested information regarding our management and finances. Indeed, we have 21 bishops and cardinals who sit on our Advisory Board, and they are kept fully informed about our finances.

Therefore, in the interest of preserving my good reputation as well as protecting the valuable work done by the Priests for Life organization, I have begun a process of appeal to the Vatican. This process aims to correct any mistaken decisions of the bishop in my regard and to protect my commitment to full-time pro-life activity for my whole life. We are very confident that the Vatican will resolve this matter in a just and equitable fashion. Because of this confidence, we are not currently making any changes in any positions at Priests for Life, or in any of our projects and plans.

I also want to point out that, according to the canon law of the Catholic Church, because I have begun this process of appeal to Rome, the Bishop’s order that I return to Amarillo has been effectively suspended. Nevertheless, because of my great respect for this Bishop and my commitment to be fully obedient at all times, I am reporting to Amarillo this Tuesday, in hopes that I can sort this problem out with the Bishop in a mutually agreeable and amicable way.

St. John Chrysostom

Today is the memorial of St. John Chrysostom (ca. 347-407), a famous and controversial fourth century bishop and doctor of the Church.

Born in Antioch, he studied law as a young man, but then went off to the mountains and became a hermit for several years. In 381, he became a deacon and was later ordained as a priest and served in his native city of Antioch. It was there that his powerful and eloquent oratory earned him the title "Chrysostom" (golden-mouthed). His homilies ranged from the Gospels to personal conversion to the moral reformation of society. He delivered 88 sermons alone on the Gospel of St. John.

He was offered the position of Bishop of Constantinople (the imperial capital), which he initially declined, but finally accepted in 398 John. John tried to avoid politics as he exercised his pastoral duties, but often became involved in controversy. His sermons were frequently critical of the rich and powerful, which made him numerous enemies. He also prevented the sale of ecclesiastical offices and called for fidelity in marriage, which further alienated the aristocracy.

In 403 John's enemies, led by the empress and the bishop of Alexandria, charged him with heresy and misdeeds. The emperor sent him into temporary exile, but soon recalled him; in 404, however, John was exiled permanently, first to Armenia, then to Spain, where he died in 407 after several years of suffering and physical exhaustion. His body is at St. Peter's in Rome His last words were, "Glory to God for all things."

He is honored as a Doctor of the Eucharist for his eloquent witness to the Real Presence. With St. Athanasius, St. Gregory Nazianzen and St. Basil, he forms the group of the four great doctors of the Eastern Church.

Patron: Constantinople; epilepsy; orators; preachers.

Symbols: Beehive; chalice on Bible; white dove; scroll or book; pen and inkhorn; bishop's mitre.

Favorite Quotes:

"Why sow where the ground makes it its care to destroy the fruit? where there are many efforts at abortion? where there is murder before the birth? for even the harlot thou dost not let continue a mere harlot, but makest her a murderess also. You see how drunkenness leads to whoredom, whoredom to adultery, adultery to murder; or rather to a something even worse than murder. For I have no name to give it, since it does not take off the thing born, but prevent its being born. Why then dost thou abuse the gift of God, and fight with His laws, and follow after what is a curse as if a blessing, and make the chamber of procreation a chamber for murder, and arm the woman that was given for childbearing unto slaughter?"

"We should not bear it with bad grace if the answer to our prayer is long delayed. Rather let us because of this show great patience and resignation. For He delays for this reason: that we may offer Him a fitting occasion of honoring us through His divine providence. Whether, therefore, we receive what we ask for, or do not receive it, let us still continue steadfast in prayer. For to fail in obtaining the desires of our heart, when God so wills it, is not worse than to receive it ; for we know not as He does, what is profitable to us."

"Chastity uplifts sex to its true nobility and dignity. It gives sex its true beauty and glory. Chastity enables us, through our sexuality, to give glory to Christ in our body.

Read the rest here.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Pope prays for 9/11 victims, says religion can't justify terrorism

Feast of the Holy Name of Mary

Today the Church celebrates the feast of the Most Holy Name of the Blessed Virgin Mary to teach us how useful and advantageous it is for us to invoke her holy name in our needs. The name Mary by which we honor the Most Blessed Virgin means "Star of the Sea". It is, says Saint Bernard, very well given to her, because she is indeed a star which enlightens, guides, and leads us to a harbor in the stormy sea of this world.

This feast day was first observed at Cuenca, Spain, 1513, then extended to the universal Church and assigned to its present place and rank by Innocent XI (1683) in thanksgiving to God and the Blessed Virgin for the liberation of Vienna and the signal victory over the Turks on September 12, 1683.

Go here  to pray the Litany of the Holy Name of Mary.

Saint Quotes:

"After the most sacred name of Jesus, the name of Mary is so rich in every good thing, that on earth and in heaven there is no other from which devout souls receive so much grace, hope, and sweetness."

~ St. Alphonsus Liguori

"The invocation of the sacred names of Jesus and Mary is a short prayer which is as sweet to the mind, and as powerful to protect those who use it against the enemies of their salvation, as it is easy to remember."

~ St. Thomas a Kempis

"In dangers, in perplexities, in doubtful cases, think of Mary, call on Mary; let her not leave thy lips; let her not depart from thy heart."

~ St. Bernard of Clairvaux

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Remembering 9/11 Ten Years Later

Pope Benedict's Prayer at Ground Zero

O God of love, compassion, and healing,
look on us, people of many different faiths
and traditions,
who gather today at this site,
the scene of incredible violence and pain.
We ask you in your goodness
to give eternal light and peace
to all who died here—
the heroic first-responders:
our fire fighters, police officers,
emergency service workers, and
Port Authority personnel,
along with all the innocent men and women
who were victims of this tragedy
simply because their work or service
brought them here on September 11, 2001.

We ask you, in your compassion
to bring healing to those
who, because of their presence here that day,
suffer from injuries and illness.
Heal, too, the pain of still-grieving families
and all who lost loved ones in this tragedy.
Give them strength to continue their lives
with courage and hope.

We are mindful as well
of those who suffered death, injury, and loss
on the same day at the Pentagon and in
Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
Our hearts are one with theirs
as our prayer embraces their pain and suffering.

God of peace, bring your peace to our violent world:
peace in the hearts of all men and women
and peace among the nations of the earth.
Turn to your way of love
those whose hearts and minds
are consumed with hatred.
God of understanding,
overwhelmed by the magnitude of this tragedy,
we seek your light and guidance
as we confront such terrible events.
Grant that those whose lives were spared
may live so that the lives lost here
may not have been lost in vain.

Comfort and console us,
strengthen us in hope,
and give us the wisdom and courage
to work tirelessly for a world
where true peace and love reign
among nations and in the hearts of all.

~Pope Benedict XVI--Prayer at Ground Zero
New York, 20 April 2008

Friday, September 09, 2011

Saint of the Day: St. Peter Claver

Today is the memorial of St. Peter Claver, a Jesuit priest who dedicated his life to the service of black slaves.

Born in Spain, the son of a farmer, Peter Claver entered the Society of Jesus and was ordained in 1615 in Cartagena, South America, where he had made his higher studies. Cartagena was the center of the infamous slave trade, where many thousands of African slaves were landed after crossing the ocean amid inhuman conditions, and then penned like animals in yards. Their terrible plight, corporal and spiritual, tore at the heart of the young Jesuit and he determined to devote himself to the alleviation of their misery. At his profession he had vowed "to be a slave of the slaves forever," and he now began to carry out this vow.

Though his main concern was the salvation of the slaves, he realized that their bodily misery needed attention first. "We must speak to them with our hands," he said, "before we can speak to them with our lips." His love and his endurance seemed boundless.

Taking only a minimum of sleep, he ministered tirelessly to the slaves, washing and tending their wounds, feeding them with food begged in the city, burying their dead, comforting them so lovingly that he appeared like an angel from heaven. He saw in them not only Christ's brothers and sisters, but souls for whom He had bled and died. He instructed the adults by means of interpreters and pictures, and during the forty years of his heroic apostolic labors he is said to have baptized over 300,000, including infants.

He fought courageously for enforcement of the law providing for the Christian marriage of the slaves and forbidding the separation of families.Every spring he conducted missions for the slaves in the country, and in fall for the sailors and traders in the city, preaching in the streets' hearing confessions for hours on end, so that he also became the apostle of Cartagena itself.

The plague struck the city in 1650, and Peter was one of its first victims. For four years he was bedridden in his cell, unable to work, and almost forgotten. However, when he announced his approaching end, crowds came to kiss his hands and feet and to take away from his cell whatever they could as relics.

He was given a public burial, and the fame of his heroism, his holiness, and his miracles soon spread throughout the world. Leo XIII declared him the patron of all missionary work among Blacks.

~ Excerpted from "A Saint A Day" by Berchman's Bittle, O.F.M. Cap. published by The Bruce Publishing Company, (c) 1958.

Patron: against slavery; foreign missions; black people; race relations; Colombia; diocese of Shreveport, Louisiana; diocese of Lake Charles, Louisiana.

Symbols: ship; cockle shell used for baptizing; usually pictured baptizing a black slave.

Quote: "To love God as He ought to be loved, we must be detached from all temporal love. We must love nothing but Him, or if we love anything else, we must love it only for His sake."

Thursday, September 08, 2011

My Conversion Story: Why I Love Being Catholic

By Edie Loughmiller, Guest Blogger

There were three key factors that brought me into the Catholic Church nine years ago. The first and most compelling was simply that Mary Won My Heart. As a protestant, my choice of church generally was based upon whether or not I could feel the Holy Spirit at work in worship and at Bible study, filling my lamp with oil to keep me going in my daily life. Generally, I was disappointed in this quest. Then, a friend from work invited me to RCIA, giving me an opportunity to learn about the Catholic Church. At the time, I felt like nothing else was helping me spiritually, and that I should certainly give it a try. After I learned from other Catholics about the apparitions of Mary at Fatima and Lourdes, I began to say the Rosary. To my surprise, the Holy Spirit filled my heart as I was giving my heart to the Blessed Mother in prayer and meditation. I discovered quite a secret – that in loving Mary, I was placing myself directly within the flow of Love that exists between the members of the Holy Trinity and the Blessed Mother. In loving her, I was upheld by God the Father, who loved her and chose her to be the mother of His Son; I was doing the will of Jesus, who loves His mother with such great tenderness; and most of all, I could feel how pleased the Holy Spirit was to join me in the outpouring of love to His Most Holy Spouse. So, I would offer her my heart in prayer, and there I would find the happiness in the Spirit of God that I had been seeking.

The second was that the The Catechism and the Writings of the Saints Won My Mind. During the years that I had been a protestant, I found great peace in reading the Scriptures, but struggled with many of the things I read. I had read through the entire Bible, and was especially familiar with the key scriptures in the New Testament. But, implementing what I read in my daily life seemed impossible. This was complicated further because each protestant church I attended had different interpretations, and would often twist the meanings of various verses to fit into those interpretations. What a thrilling surprise it was when I discovered the clarity and consistency within the Catechism and the writings of the Saints. I discovered that many of the protestant theories to which I had been exposed where actually the continuation of old heresies that had been around from the early days of the Church. So, now whenever I read the Bible, or listen to it on CD, I am happy and comfortable. Thanks to the clear interpretations that have come forward from the Early Fathers and the Saints, forming a Catechism that conforms completely with the Scriptures, I no longer struggle like I used to. And, when I come across a difficult passage, I pull out the Catechism or check the footnotes in a good Catholic study Bible, and feel an inward joy that I no longer face that old struggle with the Holy Bible.

The third is probably unique to me and to converts like myself. During my RCIA period, I visited a church where the Latin Mass was offered and fell in love with it. Now that I live in Western Kansas, I have to travel hundreds of miles on a Sunday to get to a Latin Mass, but it is worth it to me. Since I love the writings of the Saints, I get special joy in going to the ancient Mass that they also attended during their lifetimes. It fills my heart and soul with a very special peace, a very holy oil for my lamp that makes a tremendous difference in the quality of life for me.

~ copyright Edie Loughmiller, September, 2011

Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

 Birth of the Virgin, Le Nain Brothers, c.1645, (Paris, Notre-Dame)

"The Creator of all things gave me a commandment...and He said, 'Make your dwelling in Jacob, and in Israel, your inheritance'." ~ Sirach 24:8

Let us celebrate the birth of the Virgin Mary; let us worship her Son, Christ the Lord.

Each Year, the feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary is celebrated on September 8. Usually the church celebrates the feast day of a saint on the date of their death, which is actually the day remembered as their birth into everlasting life. Mary, however, was conceived without sin as a special grace because God had selected her to become the Mother of His Son. Her birth is a cause for great joy as it is considered the "dawn of our salvation" (Pope Paul VI, Marialis Cultus,1972.)

Although there is no reference to Mary's birth in the Sacred Scriptures, the names of Mary's parents, Joachim and Anna, appear in the Protoevangelium of James (5:2), which is an apocryphal writing from the late 2nd century. According to this account, Joachim and Anna were also beyond the years of child-bearing, but prayed and fasted that God would grant their desire for a child.

The primary focus of this feast day is that the world had been enslaved in the darkness of sin and with the arrival of Mary begins a glimmer of light. Living in our current culture of death, we rejoice in Mother Mary who shows us the way to the culture of life by drawing us closer to the Heart of her Son. As St. Louis de Montfort says, "She is an echo of God, speaking and repeating only God. If you say "Mary" she says "God". There is a bond of love between Mary and God like no other.

As the Mother of God, Mary is radiantly beautifully. She is totally pure, modest, chaste, humble, obedient. Her soul is immaculate -- free from the stain of original sin. Mary is often referred to as the "New Eve." Through her fiat -- her obedience to the will of God -- she opened the doors of redemption and salvation to all her children which had been closed by Eve in her disobedience to the will of God. Because of God's eternal design, she became a necessary element for our redemption from the bondage of sin. As St. Jerome wrote: "Death through Eve, life through Mary." And, in the words of St. Louis de Montfort, "Mary alone gives to the unfortunate children of unfaithful Eve entry into that earthly paradise where they may walk pleasantly with God and be safely hidden from their enemies. There they can feed without fear of death on the delicious fruit of the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. They can drink copiously the heavenly waters of that beauteous fountain which gushes forth in such abundance."

Today, let us celebrate with joyful hearts the miraculous birth of God's Mother and our Mother -- the one who gives us hope for the future.

Mary, the "Dawn of Hope"

The Birth of the Virgin Mary, 1655, Esteban Murillo, (Louvre, Paris)

"Who is this?" asks the Holy Spirit as Mary comes into the world. "Who is this that comes forth like the dawn, as beautiful as the moon, as resplendent as the sun?" (Sg 6,10)...

She "comes forth like the dawn." Our first father was made in the image and likeness of his Creator in the full light of day (Gn 1,26). What could be more wonderful for a created being than to share the Creator's likeness?... He granted him the everlasting image but the likeness was still to be achieved: man was to become like his Creator. Yet he rejected the honor of such a privilege..., delivering himself over to death, into the darkness, along with all his descendants. Darkness covered all the earth (cf. Gn 1,2) until the coming of the Virgin. There was none who could escape the shadows, none to disperse them... but with the coming of the Virgin, dawn arose. Mary makes known the true light and, by her nativity, causes the most radiant of mornings to shine. She is the Morning Star. She is that dawn who follows or, rather, from whom is born the Sun of Justice (Mal 3,20): he who alone surpasses her in splendor...

"Yours is the day" when Adam was created, "yours the nigh." (Ps 74[73],16) when he was cast out from your light. It is you who created the dawn, that is to say the Virgin Mary, and the Sun, that Sun of Justice who arose from her virgin womb. As dawn announces night's end and signals the beginning of the day, so the Virgin put to flight the night without end and day after day she gives to earth the one who sprang from her virginity.

~ St. Peter Damian

 Via the Daily Gospel.