Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Thérèse - Update from the UK

"My mission - to make God loved - will begin after my death," she said. "I will spend my heaven doing good on earth. I will let fall a shower of roses." St. Therese, "the little flower"

Thérèse is doing her missionary work! The UK is flowing with roses! St Thérèse is drawing huge crowds in Salford.

From the
Catholic Herald UK:

Almost 80,000 pilgrims have come to venerate the relics since their arrival in Britain 14 days ago. According to the figures on the official Thérèse blog, there were 17,000 people in Liverpool and another 30,000 came to visit the relics in Salford, Greater Manchester.

HERE from the Manchester Evening News

St.Thérèse Relics Blog HERE

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Paradiso, XXXI, 108 by Jorge Luis Borges

Jorge Francisco Isidoro Luis Borges (24 August 1899 – 14 June 1986) , best known as Jorge Luis Borges, was an Argentine writer and poet born in Buenos Aires.

In the month of December 2000, my dear friend Kattia gave me an awesome gift. A book of poetry. Kattia wrote on the first page "To Brian, Hope you enjoy this book. This is one of my favorite Latin writers. Kattia." It is a book of selected poems by Jorge Luis Borges. It is one of my favorite books of poetry. A Borges poem is deep, not easy (for me) to understand. But poems can have many different meanings - and all of us interpret words differently. God can use the words of a poet - and through the words He may offer us his "Grace."

Here is a special Borges poem that has touched my heart.

Paradiso, XXXI, 108 :: J. L. Borges

Diodorus Siculus tells the story of a god, broken and scattered abroad. What man of us has never felt, walking through the twilight or writing down a date from his past, that he has lost something infinite?

Mankind has lost a face, an irretrievable face, and all have longed to be that pilgrim — imagined in the Empyrean, beneath the Rose — who in Rome sees the Veronica and murmurs in faith, “Lord Jesus, my God, true God, is this then what Thy face was like?”

Beside a road there is a stone face and an inscription that says, “The True Portrait of the Holy Face of the God of Jaen.” If we truly knew what it was like, the key to the parables would be ours and we would know whether the son of the carpenter was also the Son of God.

Paul saw it as a light that struck him to the ground; John, as the sun when it shines in all its strength; Teresa de Jesus saw it many times, bathed in tranquil light, yet she was never sure of the color of His eyes.

We lost those features, as one may lose a magic number made up of the usual ciphers, as one loses an image in a kaleidoscope, forever. We may see them and know them not. The profile of a Jew in the subway is perhaps the profile of Christ; perhaps the hands that give us our change at a ticket window duplicate the ones some soldier nailed one day to the cross.

Perhaps a feature of the crucified face lurks in every mirror; perhaps the face died, was erased, so that God may be all of us.

Who knows but that tonight we may see it in the labyrinth of dreams, and tomorrow not know we saw it.

[From Dreamtigers, by Jorge Luis Borges, translated by Mildred Boyer]

Pope Benedict's Message to the Youth of the Czech Republic

Pope BenedictXVI finished his stay in the Czech Republic with an important message for the youth of the Czech Republic for the youth of the whole world.
Out of Zenit:
Pope to Youth: Christ Wants to Make You Happy

Encourages them to have open hearts.

STARA BOLESLAV, Czech Republic, SEPT. 28, 2009 - Benedict XVI is telling youth that Christ wants to make them happy, and that his voice is not difficult to hear for those who have their hearts open.

The Pope reflected on Christ's call today when he spoke with young people gathered on the third and last day of his visit to the Czech Republic.
"As he did with Augustine, so the Lord comes to meet each one of you," he said. "He knocks at the door of your freedom and asks to be welcomed as a friend. He wants to make you happy, to fill you with humanity and dignity.

"The Christian faith is this: encounter with Christ, the living Person who gives life a new horizon and thereby a definitive direction. And when the heart of a young person opens up to his divine plans, it is not difficult to recognize and follow his voice."

The Holy Father reflected on the Lord's specific call for each person, and he urged them to holiness in their vocations.

"Many of you he calls to marriage, and the preparation for this sacrament constitutes a real vocational journey," he said. "Consider seriously the divine call to raise a Christian family, and let your youth be the time in which to build your future with a sense of responsibility. Society needs Christian families, saintly families!"

"And if the Lord is calling you to follow him in the ministerial priesthood or in the consecrated life," the Pontiff continued, "do not hesitate to respond to his invitation. In particular, in this Year of Priests, I appeal to you, young men: Be attentive and open to Jesus's call to offer your lives in the service of God and his people."

"The Church in every country," he reflected, "including this one, needs many holy priests and also persons fully consecrated to the service of Christ, Hope of the world."


Monday, September 28, 2009

A Charity Litany for the New Fall Season, a Time of Change

The Charity Litany by Father Sebastian Vazhakala M.C.

Charity is the queen of all virtues. “If you see Charity, you see the Trinity” says St. Augustine. Without it even if one speaks the language of angels it is like “sounding brass or a clanging cymbal” (Cf. 1 Cor 13: 1-13). It is a very delicate virtue which is like salt in the food. No wonder saints like St. Thérèse of Lisieux resolved to do ordinary things with extraordinary love and not the other way round. The following is a litany to ask forgiveness for the many daily failures in charity, as we know that even the just person falls seven times a day.

For all my uncharitable thoughts, Lord have mercy on me.
For all my uncharitable looks, Lord have mercy on me.
For all my uncharitable behaviors, Lord have mercy on me.
For all my uncharitable attitudes, Lord have mercy on me.
For all my uncharitable dealings, Lord have mercy on me.
For all my uncharitable words, Lord have mercy on me
For all my uncharitable telephone conversations, Lord have mercy on me.
For all my uncharitable judgements, Lord have mercy on me.
For all my uncharitable criticisms, Lord have mercy on me.
For all my uncharitable conversations, Lord have mercy on me.
For all my uncharitable actions, Lord have mercy on me.
For all my uncharitable reactions, Lord have mercy on me.
For all my uncharitable works, Lord have mercy on me.
For all my uncharitable charity, Lord have mercy on me.
For all my uncharitable prayers, Lord have mercy on me.
For all my uncharitable undertakings, Lord have mercy on me.
For all my uncharitable works of mercy, Lord have mercy on me.
For all my uncharitable service to the poor, Lord have mercy on me.
For all my uncharitable feelings, Lord have mercy on me.
For all my uncharitable omissions, Lord have mercy on me.
For all my uncharitable cares, Lord have mercy on me.
For all my uncharitable preoccupations, Lord have mercy on me.
For all my uncharitable anxieties, Lord have mercy on me.
For all my uncharitable sharing, Lord have mercy on me.
For all my uncharitable encounters, Lord have mercy on me.
For all my uncharitableness, Lord have mercy on me.
For all my negligence, Lord have mercy on me.
For all my anger and bitterness, Lord have mercy on me.
For all my lack of forgiveness, Lord have mercy on me.

Let us pray:

“Breathe into me, Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may all be holy.
Move in me, Holy Spirit, that my work too may be holy.
Attract my heart, Holy Spirit, that I may love only what is holy.
Strengthen me, Holy Spirit, that I may defend all that is holy.
Protect me, Holy Spirit, that I always may be holy”.

God bless you.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

St. Vincent de Paul - Patron of Charitable Societies

St. Vincent de Paul

(24 April 1581 – 27 September 1660) was a Catholic priest dedicated to serving the poor, who is venerated as a saint.

St. Vincent was born of poor parents in the village of Pouy in Gascony, France, about 1580. He enjoyed his first schooling under the Franciscan Fathers at Acqs. Such had been his progress in four years that a gentleman chose him as subpreceptor to his children, and he was thus enabled to continue his studies without being a burden to his parents. In 1596, he went to the University of Toulouse for theological studies, and there he was ordained priest in 1600.

In 1605, on a voyage by sea from Marseilles to Narbonne, he fell into the hands of African pirates and was carried as a slave to Tunis. His captivity lasted about two years, until Divine Providence enabled him to effect his escape. After a brief visit to Rome he returned to France, where he became preceptor in the family of Emmanuel de Gondy, Count of Goigny, and General of the galleys of France. In 1617, he began to preach missions, and in 1625, he lay the foundations of a congregation which afterward became the Congregation of the Mission or Lazarists, so named on account of the Prioryof St. Lazarus, which the Fathers began to occupy in 1633.

It would be impossible to enumerate all the works of this servant of God. Charity was his predominant virtue. It extended to all classes of persons, from forsaken childhood to old age. The Sisters of Charity also owe the foundation of their congregation to St. Vincent. In the midst of the most distracting occupations his soul was always intimately united with God. Though honored by the great ones of the world, he remained deeply rooted in humility. The Apostle of Charity, the immortal Vincent de Paul, breathed his last in Paris at the age of eighty. His feast day is September 27th. He is the patron of charitable societies.

O Glorious Saint Vincent de Paul,
The mention of your name,
Suggests a litany of your virtues:
Humility, zeal, mercy, self-sacrifice.
It also recalls
Your many foundations:
Works of Mercy,

The Church gratefully remembers,
Your promotion of the priesthood.
Inspire all Charitable Workers,
Especially those who minister,
To both the spiritually
And the materially poor.

O Lord, give us the grace,
That You bestowed upon,
Your servant St. Vincent de Paul,
To relinquish the temptation,
Of material things,
In our holy effort,
To minister to the poor.


* Bio of St. Vincent from "Saint of the Day."

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Relics of St Thérèse visit England

Catholics are traveling from all over England and Wales to see the relics of the Little Flower, St Thérèse of Lisieux. St Thérèse' relics have traveled all around the world, but this is the first time they have traveled "under water", via the Channel Tunnel from France.

This story, written by Anna Arco, is out of Britain's Catholic Herald..

Tens of thousands flock to Thérèse relics

Thousands of Catholic faithful have flocked to venerate the relics of St Thérèse of Lisieux which have been on tour in England and Wales since last week.

The relics, which were brought to Britain via the Channel Tunnel, have drawn over 20,000 pilgrims since they started touring just over a week ago.

At their first stop at the Cathedral of St John the Evangelist, Portsmouth, more than 4,500 people came to venerate the relics. Bishop Crispian Hollis of Portsmouth said that the visit had been one of his proudest moments as bishop of the diocese.

He said: "Over the years of the history of our diocese and our cathedral in Portsmouth we have witnessed many great events and occasions. But for sheer intensity of prayer and real devotion, I doubt whether any have matched what we have experienced during the hours of the visit to the cathedral of St Thérèse."

The relics were then taken to Plymouth where they were met by Bishop Christopher Budd at the doors of his cathedral. Pilgrims travelled in coaches from Cornwall and Devon and the cathedral was packed to capacity, with 3,000 people passing through over the course of 20 hours.

The relics drew their largest crowd so far at St Chad's Cathedral, Birmingham, with 11,000 people in two days. Bishop William Kenney, the administrator of the archdiocese, said: "The visit of the relics has been a time of grace for the diocese and in particular for the many thousands of pilgrims who came to venerate them in person."

At Coleshill, Birmingham, where the relics stopped at the parish of St Teresa of the Child of Jesus, they were met by several hundred people and Fr Marcus Stock, the new general secretary of the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, celebrated a welcome liturgy.

Auxiliary Bishop David McGough of Birmingham preached about St Thérèse's humility and her resolve that everything in her life "would become an expression of Christ's presence in our world".

There was also a celebration for the priests of the diocese held at Coleshill before St Thérèse was taken to Cardiff. The relics were then due to be taken to Salford, Manchester and Newcastle before stopping in York Minster, the Anglican cathedral.

The Dean of York, Keith Jones, said: "I am thrilled that the relics of St Thérèse, the Little Flower, are coming to York minster ... she is a gift of God to us all and this is a chance for Christians of different traditions to us to pray for unity and renew our faith and our love."

The relics will then head south via Middlesbrough, Leeds, Nottingham and Walsingham before stopping in Oxford, Buckinghamshire and Aylesford. They arrive in London in mid-October, stopping first at the Carmelite church in Kensington and then Westminster Cathedral.

While reports in the secular press were initially positive a backlash soon followed. Matthew Parris of the Times said that the presence of the relics in England and Wales should be a "call to arms" for atheists. He criticised mainstream news coverage of the event for being uncritical. In the Sunday Times Minette Marrin attacked the Government for allowing the relics to stop at the Wormwood Scrubs prison in west London.

She wrote: "There comes a time when even a peaceable agnostic feels roused to indignation. For me it was last week, at the news that the Home Office has seen fit to let the bones of the Little Flower into Wormwood Scrubs prison ... In so doing, it opens wide the gates of reason to let into any public place any and every fetish or juju that any religious group claims is part of its spiritual life.

"What the starry progress of the relics of the Little Flower has done for me is to remind me that we have in this country rather too much religious tolerance."

Simon Jenkins, writing in the Guardian, was also critical of the decision to bring the relics to Wormwood Scrubs.

But Fr Gerry McFlynn, the chaplain at the prison, said in a letter to the Guardian: "In venerating the relics of St Thérèse, Catholics and other Christians are not engaging in some ghoulish ritual, but rather seeking to draw inspiration from the life and spirituality of a remarkable woman."

* above image of reliquary from the Catholic Herald


Thursday, September 24, 2009

TRINITY - A School of Relations by Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa

Reverend Father Rainiero Cantalamessa is a Franciscan Capuchin Priest within the Roman Catholic Church. Born in 1934, he has served as the Preacher to the Papal Household since 1980.

A few years ago I attended a presentation at Seton Hall University given by Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, OFM CAP. I remember that evening, driving down to the Missionary of Charity mission in Newark NJ to pick up the sisters. The sisters were extremely excited to see and hear this holy man. The college auditorium was filled to capacity. Fr. Raniero is an awesome homilist. Last year I had a course on the "Trinity." Fr Raniero's book "Contemplating the Trinity" was a required read. I would advise all of you to read it.

Here is a homily given by Fr. Raniero on the Feast Of The Most Holy Trinity in May 2008. It is
very beautiful.

Trinity Is a School of Relations

Why do Christians believe in the Trinity? Is it not hard enough to believe that God exists without having to add the puzzle about God being “one and three?”

There are some today who would not be upset if we dropped the Trinity. For one thing, they would say, it would help dialogue with the Jews and Muslims, who profess faith in a God who is strictly one.

The answer is that Christians believe that God is triune because they believe that God is love! If God is love, then he must love someone. There is no such thing as love of nothing, a love that is not directed at anyone. So we ask: Who is it that God loves so that he is defined as love?

A first answer might be that God loves us! But men have only existed for a few million years. Who did God love before that? God could not have begun to love at a certain point in time because God cannot change.

Another answer might be that before he loved us, he loved the cosmos, the universe. But the universe has only existed for a few billion years. Who did God love before that so that he was defined as love? We cannot say that God loved himself because self-love is not love, but egoism, or, as the psychologists say, narcissism.
How does Christian revelation answer this question? God is love in himself, before time, because there is eternally in him a Son, the Word, whom he loves from an infinite love which is the Holy Spirit.

In every love there are always three realities or subjects: one who loves, one who is loved and the love that unites them. Where God is understood as absolute power, there is no need for there to be more than one person, for power can be exercised quite well by one person; but if God is understood as absolute love, then it cannot be this way.

Theology has used the term “nature” or “substance” to indicate unity in God and it has used the term “person” to indicate a distinction. Because of this we say that our God is one God in three persons. The Christian doctrine of the Trinity is not a regression, a compromise between monotheism and polytheism. On the contrary, it is a step forward for the human mind that could only be brought about by God.

The contemplation of the Trinity can have an important impact on our human life. The life of the Trinity is a mystery of relation. The divine persons are defined in theology as “subsistent relations.” This means that the divine persons do not “have” relations, but rather “are” relations. We human beings have relations -- of son to father, of wife to husband, etc. -- but we are not constituted by those relations; we also exist outside and without them. It is not this way with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

We know that happiness and unhappiness on earth depend in large part upon the quality of our relationships. The Trinity reveals the secret to good relationships. Love, in its different forms, is what makes relationships beautiful, free and gratifying. Here we see how important it is that God be seen primarily as love and not as power: love gives, power dominates.

That which poisons a relationship is the will to dominate another person, to possess or use that person instead of welcoming and giving ourselves to him or her.

It should be added that the Christian God is one and three! This, therefore, is also the feast of the unity of God, not just God as Trinity. We Christians believe “in one God,” but the unity that we believe in is unity of nature not of number. It resembles more the unity of the family than that of the individual, more the unity of the cell than that of the atom.

The first reading presents us the biblical God as “merciful and gracious, slow to anger and rich in kindness.” This is the principal trait that the God of the Bible, the God of Islam and the God (or rather the religion) of Buddhism have in common, and which provides the best basis for dialogue and cooperation among the great religions.

Every sura of the Quran begins with the following invocation: “In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.” In Buddhism, which does not know a personal, creator God, the basis is anthropological and cosmic: Man must be merciful on account of the solidarity and responsibility that binds him to all living things.

The holy wars of the past and the religious terrorism of the present are a betrayal and not an apologia of one’s faith. How can one kill in the name of a God that one continues to proclaim as “the Merciful” and “the Compassionate”?

This is the most urgent task of interreligious dialogue that believers in all religions must pursue for the sake of peace and for the good of humanity.

* Above Icon of the Holy Trinity by St. Andre Rublev

A Poem by Peter Cooley

It is now three years since my Aunt Dotty died in the nursing home. She suffered a long time with Alzheimer's disease. A woman once so full of life unable to have a simple conversation. She did recognize me most of the time, or at least I was a familiar face. Whether I was her brother, or her nephew - it didn't matter. I know she loved me. And I loved her.

As I was surfing the net, reading through some poetry, I came upon this poem by Peter Cooley. The poem really moved me. It is a simple love poem - but love is never simple.

Sunday Afternoons With My Sister

“If someone asks about me, say I died.
I hate you coming, I hate this nursing home.”
My sister never like me but I tried.

“Why do you bother? You see, I know you lied
to get me in here,” the voice reverberates, a drone.
“If someone asks about me, say I died.”

Attached to oxygen, she cannot rise
this year or last to stroll about her room.
My sister never liked me but I tried.

“I want my job back. Admit you’re on their side,
the men who got me fired. In fact, you’re the one.
If someone asks about me, say I died.

“And Mommy and Daddy, now they’re blind.
Well, I’m almost, I hope you’ll be soon.”
My sister never like me but I tried.

I ask about her meals, the nurses, bide
the minutes till these last words each afternoon:
“When someone asks about you, I say he died.”
My sister never loved me but I tried.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Signs of Evil by Deacon Keith Fournier

Deacon Keith Fournier posted the following article and video today on Catholic-Online. It is disturbing. Some abortion facilities are becoming places which foster the hatred of Christians and Blasphemy against our Lord.

Signs of Evil: Northern Illinois Women’s Center. House of Horrors. Hatred of Christians

ROCKFORD, Il (Catholic Online) – We recently received a letter from a Pro-Life hero who, along with many, many others, stands outside of the so called “Northern Illinois Women’s Center” daily. This is an awful place where the lives of innocent children are routinely taken by procured abortion.

Our writer braves the elements in order to proclaim the truth about what occurs inside that House of Horrors, as have scores of other pro-life champions for twenty five years. They pray and plead with the women who are being deceived into this evil act to change their minds and save their child. They also offer help and assistance for the mother and the child.

He made us aware of a video entitled “Signs of Evil” produced by “A Rockford Pro-Life Initiative”. This video calls attention to the insidious and deadly work of this abortion mill, the fatal dismembering or death by chemical weapons perpetrated against innocent children. However, it also reveals the increasing use of blasphemy, hate speech and vitriol directed specifically toward Christians and to the Lord Himself by the members of the staff of this facility.

In the wake of the killing of James Pouillon while lawfully exercising his first amendment rights to defend human life and the savage beating of 69-year old Johnny Wallace for doing the same, this video must be seen by all who are concerned over the growing ferociousness of some who advance the Culture of Death and violence.


We warn our readers and viewers that this video uncovers a hatred of God, exposes the commission of blasphemy and displays a horrid mockery of the Christian faith. However, when we consider what truly happens inside the walls of these so called “clinics” it should come as no a surprise. The commentator on this video explains that in this facility alone “50,000 children have been killed in the last decade”.

> click HERE to view the video

* For the complete article, here is the LINK

St. Pio of Pietrelcina

A Prayer to Padre Pio

Beloved Padre Pio, today I come to add my prayer to the thousands of prayers offered to you every day by those who love and venerate you. They ask for cures and healings, earthly and spiritual blessings, and peace for body and mind. And because of your friendship with the Lord, he heals those you ask to be healed, and forgives those you forgive.

Through your visible wounds of the Cross, which you bore for 50 years, you were chosen in our time to glorify the crucified Jesus. Because the Cross has been replaced by other symbols, please help us to bring it back in our midst, for we acknowledge it is the only true sign of salvation.

As we lovingly recall the wounds that pierced your hands, feet and side, we not only remember the blood you shed in pain, but your smile, and the invisible halo of sweet smelling flowers that surrounded your presence, the perfume of sanctity.

Padre Pio, may the healings of the sick become the testimony that the Lord has invited you to join the holy company of Saints.

Bless me and my loved ones.

In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

* Padre Pio Foundation

** Bronze of St. Pio - Holy Face Monastery - Clifton, NJ USA

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Visitation Questionnaire Sent to US Religious Orders

Here is a follow up to my post of July 09 regarding the Vatican study of institutes of women religious orders in the United States. An Apostolic Visitation questionnaire has been sent to the various orders - here is some information out of the Catholic News Service. The link for my July post is below. You may be interested in reading the comments for that post. The subject is bringing out some very strong emotions.

By Catholic News Service

Apostolic visitation questionnaire sent to US religious orders

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Questions about membership, living arrangements, the ministries in which members participate and spiritual life, including the practice of prayer and the frequency of Mass, are included in a questionnaire sent Sept. 18 to 341 congregations of women religious in the U.S. Distribution of the questionnaire opens the second phase of a comprehensive study of U.S. institutes of women religious ordered by Cardinal Franc Rode as prefect of the Vatican's Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life. Divided into three parts, the questionnaire reveals more about the depth of the study, known as an apostolic visitation.

Read more

My post from July >
Vatican Study of American Nuns

* above photo from CNS

Monday, September 21, 2009

Let Nothing Disturb Thee

Summer is at an end. Nights here in New Jersey are becoming cooler. This past weekend the skies were clear and steel blue, much like a Colorado sky. The green leaves are just beginning to turn color. My evening theology classes have begun. I am a bit nervous. I feel this way at the beginning of every semester. With a long commute to New York, a long work day - will I have the strength, the stamina to do the work? I know I can not rely on myself. I must place all these worries and concerns in God's hands, and not let them disturb me.

I dream that one evening long ago, late at night in the cloister, St. Teresa of Jesus was having thoughts very much like my own. Gently, she picked up a quill, and began to write softly in her breviary:

Let nothing disturb thee;
Let nothing dismay thee;
All things pass:
God never changes.
Patience attains
All that it strives for.
He who has God
Lacks for nothing:
God alone suffices.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

25th Sunday of the Year

From todays's "Office of Readings."

St Augustine's sermon On Pastors "On weak Christians"

You have failed to strengthen the weak, says the Lord. He is speaking to wicked shepherds, false shepherds, shepherds who seek their own concerns and not those of Christ. They enjoy the bounty of milk and wool, but they take no care at all of the sheep, and they make no effort to heal those who are ill. I think there is a difference between one who is weak (that is, not strong) and one who is ill, although we often say that the weak are also suffering from illness.
My brothers, when I try to make that distinction, perhaps I could do it better and with greater precision, or perhaps someone with more experience and insight could do so. But when it comes to the words of Scripture, I say what I think so that in the meantime you will not be deprived of all profit. In the case of the weak sheep, it is to be feared that the temptation, when it comes, may break him. The sick person, however, is already ill by reason of some illicit desire or other, and this is keeping him from entering God’s path and submitting to Christ’s yoke.
There are men who want to live a good life and have already decided to do so, but are not capable of bearing sufferings even though they are ready to do good. Now it is a part of the Christian’s strength not only to do good works but also to endure evil. Weak men are those who appear to be zealous in doing good works but are unwilling or unable to endure the sufferings that threaten. Lovers of the world, however, who are kept from good works by some evil desire, lie sick and listless, and it is this sickness that deprives them of any strength to accomplish good works.
The paralytic was like that. When his bearers could not bring him in to the Lord, they opened the roof and lowered him down to the feet of Christ. Perhaps you wish to do this in spirit: to open the roof and to lower a paralytic soul down to the Lord. All its limbs are lifeless, it is empty of every good work, burdened with its sins, and weak from the illness brought on by its evil desires. Since all its limbs are helpless, and the paralysis is interior, you cannot come to the physician. But perhaps the physician is himself concealed within; for the true understanding of Scripture is hidden. Reveal therefore what is hidden, and thus you will open the roof and lower the paralytic to the feet of Christ.
As for those who fail to do this and those who are negligent, you have heard what was said to them: You have failed to heal the sick; you have failed to bind up what was broken. Of this we have already spoken. Man was broken by terrible temptations. But there is at hand a consolation that will bind what was broken: God is faithful. He does not allow you to be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Nuns On The Beach

Sisters from Mother Teresa of Calcutta's Missionaries of Charity show visiting nun Sister Dorothy, in the wheelchair, the island's recovery from Hurricane Ike as they walk along the Galveston Seawall in Texas Monday.

I received an email from a priest friend of mine today. Attached to the mail was the above picture out of USA Today. Knowing that I spend a lot of time with the MC sisters, he knew I would want this picture.

This picture brings to mind a story. I am FULL of stories. A few years ago, my wife, myself, and some other MC volunteers and MC sisters brought two busloads of elderly homebound folks down to the Jersey shore for a bar-b-cue dinner. Yes, two busloads! A fine pastor at the local shore Parish who knew the sisters was kind enough to let us use his facility for dinner and celebrate Holy Mass for us. Everyone was having a real fun time. Then sister said to me, "Brian - don't you think we should bring everyone to the beach? these people never get to see the water." I said " Sister, the beach here is private - you have to have a badge, and that costs money." Sister decided that both of us should walk up to the beach and ask the beach officer if we could bring the people on to the beach, for just a few minutes. When we arrived I spotted the beach police officer. We both went up to him and asked him if it would be OK - for just a few minutes. The officer, just a teenager, said "Absolutely not! This is a private beach - I could get in BIG trouble."

Then I committed a venial sin (I think) . I said to the boy,

"Do you know who Mother Teresa is" ?

"Of course I do, the boy said."

I said to him slowly, looking at sister... "Well?????"

After a minute of deep thought, he said "OK - for just five minutes."

So - Sister and I walked back to the parish, about two blocks from the beach. We loaded the people back into the two buses. We drove to the end of the beach block - got everyone out out - and proceeded to walk everyone onto the beach, with their wheel chairs (carried) and canes. Well, you would not believe the looks we got from all the folks sunning themselves on this very prestigious beach. Slowly, we brought everyone down to the water - the sisters took their sandals off and got their feet wet (that's big!) and everyone had a lovely time.

The sisters always say "God will take care of everything."

And you know what? - I believe they are right!


Mary Travers

It was so sad yesterday to hear of the passing of Mary Travers. When I was a very young boy, I remember buying the album - "Peter, Paul and Mary - 10th Anniversary." I was hooked on this album and hooked on Peter, Paul and Mary every since. Theirs was the sound of a generation.

The first video here is Peter, Paul and Mary singing "Puff the Magic Dragon." In my Catholic Grammar school in the 1960's, this song was a big hit - with the nuns! So, all of us students had to learn it - and I never forgot one word.

Here is Peter, Paul and Mary singing John Denver's
"Leaving on Jet Plane"

Goodbye Mary, we are smiling for you...

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Pope Benedict XVI - General Audience Sept. 16th, 2009

Symeon the New Theologian (949–1022) is the latest of three saints of the Eastern Orthodox church to have been given the title of Theologian thus, although his title of "new" was likely to distinguish him from another contemporary Symeon (the other two are John the Apostle and Gregory of Nazianzus). Symeon was a poet who embodied the mystical hesychastic tradition. He wrote that humans could and should experience God directly. His works influenced the hesychastic controversy of the 14th century. His most famous disciple was Nicetas Stethatos, his cell attendant who also wrote his life.

This morning I attended the funeral of a close family friend who died suddenly on Sunday. The Funeral Mass was celebrated in an old Franciscan Church in Paterson, New Jersey. I am sure it was built well over one hundred years ago. The inside of the church is stunningly beautiful - yet very simple. The stained glass windows feature St. Francis and St. Bonaventure in bold striking colors. The Franciscan priest who celebrated the Mass offered a very moving homily. He spoke about the reality of Eternal Life - that it is not something that we say just to make each other feel good. To the Christian, Eternal Life is a reality. When we die, it is only change to new life. When tragedies occur, as they will in every one's life, grief can overwhelm us - we lose all sense of reality. Our Lord understood this well. Oh how Our Lord cried when he found his dear friend Lazarus had died. Our belief in the reality of Eternal Life must be sustained by constant and fervant prayer. For many Christians, prayer does not come easy. I know for me, this is certainly true. I am blessed to have a Franciscan priest as a Spiritual Director. Spiritual Direction is a necessity for me, and for all Catholics. We all need guidance - in our prayer life, in our whole faith journey. I think this is what Pope Benedict XVI is speaking about in his audience of September 16th.

From the Holy See website:

Paul VI Audience Hall

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Symeon the New Theologian

Dear brothers and sisters,

Today’s catechesis focuses on the life of Symeon, an Eastern monk known as the “New Theologian”. He was born in nine hundred and forty nine in Asia Minor. As a young man, he moved to Constantinople to embark on a career in the civil service but, during his studies, he was shown a work called The Spiritual Law by Mark the Monk which completely changed his life. It contained the phrase: “If you seek spritual healing, be aware of your conscience. Do everything it tells you and you will find what is useful to you”. From that day on, he made it his way of life always to listen to his conscience. He became a monk and his life and writings, collected afterwards by a disciple, reflect Symeon’s deep understanding of the presence and action of the Holy Spirit in the life of all the baptized. Symeon teaches us that Christian life is an intimate and personal communion with God. True knowledge of God comes, not from books, but from an interior purification through conversion of the heart. For Symeon, union with Christ is not something extraordinary, but the fruit of the baptism common to all Christians. Inspired by Symeon’s life, let us pay greater attention to our spiritual life, seeking the guidance we need to grow in the love of God.

© Copyright 2009 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Remembering Jim Pouillon

Here is a picture of Jim Pouillon confronting Planned Parenthood. Jim was right there in the trenches!

Yesterday I read a disturbing article. It said that most newspapers and online media did not cover the story of Jim Pouillon's murder as they had covered the story of Dr. Tiller. I am sorry to say, there was no mention of Jim Pouillon on this blog. I should have posted Jim's story - Jim is a hero. So here I will try to make amends.

I have a personal friend, who I will call "D". "D" is not only a staunch pro-lifer in mind, but a staunch pro-lifer in actions. Every Saturday morning "D" kneels and prays the rosary near an abortion mill in Hackensack New Jersey. With great love and prayer, she asks all who enter to please reconsider. Many have. "D" is prepared to help the family in any way necessary - food, clothing, furniture - and if necessary, money ("D" has a lot of friends). "D" has saved many lives. Some of those saved parents and children attend Mass with us and our MC family on Sundays. Mother Teresa said that the greatest destroyer of peace is abortion. In Mother's words "If you do not want the child, give the child to me." Mother is a great example of God's love. You and me are also called to be that example. Are you and me willing to take the child? God bless you Jim!

This article is out of CNA:

Memorial service for murdered pro-life activist to be held Wednesday

Owosso, Mich.(CNA)- Friends and family of murdered pro-life activist Jim Pouillon will gather to pray and remember him at Willman Football Stadium in Owosso, Michigan on Wednesday afternoon.

Following the gathering, friends of Pouillon will gather to pray and rally in opposition to violence against innocent people in front of the local Planned Parenthood. Both events are open to the public.

"We must emulate Jim's example as a follower of Jesus Christ and public defender of pre-born babies," Cal Zastrow of PersonhoodUSA said in a press release. "We will join together in Owosso to praise Jesus Christ, remember Jim, and continue to speak out against all violence against the innocent - the tragic violence that killed Jim on September 11th, and the tragic violence that kills thousands of pre-born babies daily at Planned Parenthood.

“Being pro-life doesn't save any babies from murder, but acting pro-life does."

Pouillon. who was dependent upon an oxygen tank and leg braces, was killed in front of Owosso High School where he was holding a sign protesting abortion. One side of the sign depicted a baby with the word “Life” above.

His accused murderer, 33-year-old Harlan Drake, told detectives he targeted Pouillon because he was “offended by the manner of his message.”

Drake is also accused of murdering a local businessman shortly after he killed Pouillon. Drake reportedly planned to kill a third man but was arrested before he could do so.

In a Friday interview with CNA, Zastrow described his friend Pouillon as a “wonderful, Christian, peaceful man” who was “very non-violent.”

“Jim was ready for this. His life had been threatened many, many times,” he said. “He never approved of violence and he never threatened anybody.”


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

An Unfinished Homily

A Lay Missionary of Charity friend sent me the following letter written by Fr. Sebastian Vazhakala MC., in anticipation of the upcoming Feast of St Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face on October 1st. It is an "unfinished" homily. I hope you enjoy it. Maybe after reading you will receive some spiritual roses!


Today as we know is the feast day of St. Jerome - a friend and a lover of the Bible....who said: "One who is ignorant of the Bible is ignorant of God and of Christ". Today he invites us all to reread the Word of God, to treasure them in our heart, ponder over them as did our Blessed Mother, and then live the Word of God. We pray earnestly to St. Jerome to help us to love the Bible.

I ask pardon of St. Jerome for leaving him behind this day as we are forced to, since we have decided to celebrate the feast of another saint who too in her own way knew God's Word, loved it and lived it with great simplicity, clarity and originality. While St. Jerome with his incredible knowledge and intelligence translated the Bible into Latin, St. Theresa of the Child Jesus translated God's Word into life and made it easily readable. Her way was that of simplicity and total abandonment to God's merciful total surrender, in childlike trust. She cried out in Spirit to God from the closed walls of the Lisieux Convent that the secret to our life is "Love", that she wished so much to be love. "In the heart of the Church, my Mother, I will be love". She no longer desired anything except to love until she died of love. But she died, and disappeared from the visible horizons of this world of tears, pain and sorrow, but her love did not die, nor her Spirit of total trust. Her way of doing ordinary things with extraordinary love did not end with her earthly departure for heaven.

Thousands and thousands have been inflamed by her Spirit of simplicity, humility and charity, and took the same "elevator" to heaven - her short but sure way; her happy but difficult way; her secure but painful way.......yes the way of love is the way of suffering........but that is the best way to peace and joy.......Today she tells us all to have the same evangelical Spirit of the Gospel that we heard, namely "unless you become like little children....."(Mt. 18:1-4) - let us approach God as she did, let us accept the cross like a lover. Her way was short, hard, difficult and demanding - but she persevered......nothing and nobody could separate her from the love of her Lord......On the other hand suffering increased her fidelity, strengthened her convictions and she saw it as a means to save souls; and this is exactly what she did. Is not the reason why we celebrate her feast today - is not the reason why we find her in every Church - to remind the world that God is "Love", and His love never dies.......that whoever is in contact with that undefeatable love of God will live for all eternity with God!

Love is dynamic; love is creative, love never gives is our interior force. It is like an engine. And God is love.

Today we see how this incredible love has become a living reality in Mother Teresa of Calcutta. The secret to her life is the same. Through her God makes the world realise that there is God ; and He is a God of love; He loves us all, and especially He loves the poor........He is the friend of the friends of the poor. He loves especially those who love the poor.

God opened through Mother Teresa the eyes of many and showed not only the existence and the reality of the poor but that they too are God's children.

This is an unfinished homily; it is up to each of the readers to complete it.

St. Therèse took three resolutions at the age of eleven while she was preparing herself for her first Holy Communion: 1. "I will recite a 'Memorare' everyday", 2. "I will humiliate myself", 3. "I will never allow myself to be discouraged":

World Youth Day 2011

World Youth Day Madrid 2011 is right around the corner. Just yesterday Australia was flowing with pilgrims from all over the world - now we look forward to a wonderful pilgrimage to Spain. Let us always thank our Dear Pope John Paul II "The Great" who initiated World Youth Day back in 1986 and also thank our Beloved Pope Benedict XVI, who lovingly carries on the tradition.

The following article is out of ZENIT:

Madrid Awaits Pope, 2M Youth

Cardinal Reports on Progress of Preparations

MADRID, Spain, SEPT. 14, 2009 ( The archbishop of Madrid says he's preparing to welcome some two million young people for the 2011 World Youth Day -- half of whom are expected from outside Spain.

Cardinal Antonio Rouco Varela spoke with the Spanish daily ABC about preparations for the youth event. The preparations were officially kicked off today, feast of the exaltation of the cross, with the beginning of the pilgrimage of the World Youth Day Cross and icon through the archdiocese, and throughout Spain.

The cardinal affirmed that the sites for the main activities with the Pope are already confirmed: the Vigil and closing Mass on Aug. 19 and 20, 2011, will be held at the Cuatro Vientos airport, and the opening Mass to welcome the Pope on Aug. 16 will be held at the Plaza de Cibeles.

A solemn Way of the Cross is also being considered, to be held Aug. 18 on the Paseo de la Casstellana.

Cardinal Rouco Varela observed that World Youth Days "have conditioned the history of the evangelization of the world's youth" by helping to create "a distinct youth culture, fresh air for young people's lives in their environments and ecclesial groups."

He continued, "For thousands of youth, they have meant an encounter or a re-encounter with the faith; others have discovered their vocations; and all of them have caught sight of ways to be young, to want to live with dignity, with nobility and with clear horizons."

Under way

The cardinal explained that the organizing committee is already at work, collaborating with the Spanish episcopal conference.
The committee has already approved the official logo and theme song, and is coordinating catechesis sessions in more than 300 language groups.

According to initial data, more than 1,000 bishops are expected to attend, as will half of the Church's cardinals.

Families of Madrid will be opening their homes to accommodate pilgrims, though the cardinal acknowledged that this won't be sufficient to house all of the pilgrims. Thus, every ecclesial institution has been asked to provide every available space, and regional and local government offices have received the same request.

Cardinal Rouco Varela noted the "magnificent response" to this petition, and the "absolute availability."

Finally, the archbishop mentioned the financial cost of the event, affirming that the majority will come from "private contributions and donations from the faithful." He also said that there is a need for 15,000 volunteers in the six principal language groups.

"The tradition of the Church in Spain," the cardinal concluded, "will be a grand and positive novelty for youth from many parts of the world, where the Church is very young, where the great Christian past is languid, or the reality of the contemplative consecrated life that so much attracts youth of our time is not as vigorous as here."


Monday, September 14, 2009

Preparing for the 1100th Anniversary of Cluny Abbey

The French city of Cluny is preparing to celebrate the 1100th anniversary of Cluny Abbey. Can you imagine, 1100 years! Cluny Abbey was once the most important center of the Benedictine Order.

The following article is out of CNA:

Cluny, France - The French city of Cluny is preparing to begin a year of celebrations for the 1100th anniversary of the famous Cluny Abbey. The abbey, founded in the year 910, was instrumental in the spread of Christianity and the development of monasticism in Europe in the Middle Ages.

Bishop Benoît Rivière of Auton, Chalon and Mâcon will celebrate a Mass in Cluny on Saturday, the Italian bishops' news service SIR reports. The twelve gates of the city will be symbolically opened to mark the beginning of the Year of Celebrations.

Fr. Pierre Calimé, spokesman of the diocese, said celebrants want the anniversary to be “above all a spiritual event” and not only a celebration of a cultural and artistic heritage.

“The great work of Cluny is the life of thousands of monks entrusting themselves to the Rule of Saint Benedict,” he explained.

“Cluny 2010 must be an opportunity to rediscover what the heart of the abbey is: ‘Do you want the true life?’”

Fr. Calimé praised the virtues of Cluny’s founding abbot, St. Odo, and said the Benedictine Rule contains aspects and lessons still relevant to today’s laity. This relevance has inspired the idea of holding some workshops on the Benedictine Rule and of holding a talk on Cluny’s order.

Planned events include a High Mass for the dead on November 2 and the commemoration of St. Hugh, the sixth abbot of Cluny, on April 23, 2010.


Sunday, September 13, 2009

Papal Honors

Today I attended an installment service at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Newark, New Jersey USA. The Papal Honor of "Monsignor-Chaplain of His Holiness" was bestowed on fifteen priests of this Archdiocese. The Cathedral was filled to capacity. How beautiful it was to see so many people in attendance, clergy, religious, laity. My friend Diana and I were accompanied by two Missionary of Charity sisters. We had a great time. Holy Mother Church is awesome!

Keep our priests, O Jesus,
in a safe citadel of your Sacred Heart
and there let them be sanctified in truth.
Grant that, through their word,
multitudes may be brought
to believe in you and love you.

24th Sunday of the Year

From today's "Office of Readings."

St Augustine's sermon On Pastors

We are Christians as well as leaders

You have often learned that all our hope is in Christ and that he is our true glory and our salvation. You are members of the flock of the Good Shepherd, who watches over Israel and nourishes his people. Yet there are shepherds who want to have the title of shepherd without wanting to fulfil a pastor’s duties; let us then recall what God says to his shepherds through the prophet. You must listen attentively; I must listen with fear and trembling.

The word of the Lord came to me and said: Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel and speak to the shepherds of Israel. We just heard this reading a moment ago, my brothers, and I have decided to speak to you on this passage. The Lord will help me to speak the truth if I do not speak on my own authority. For if I speak on my own authority, I will be a shepherd nourishing myself and not the sheep. However, if my words are the Lord’s, then he is nourishing you no matter who speaks. Thus says the Lord God: Shepherds of Israel, who have been nourishing only themselves! Should not the shepherds nourish the sheep? In other words, true shepherds take care of their sheep, not themselves. This is the principle reason why God condemns those shepherds: they took care of themselves rather than their sheep. Who are they who nourish themselves? They are the shepherds the Apostle described when he said: They all seek what is theirs and not what is Christ’s.

I must distinguish carefully between two aspects of the role the lord has given me, a role that demands a rigorous accountability, a role based on the Lord’s greatness rather than on my own merit. The first aspect is that I am a Christian; the second, that I am a leader. I am a Christian for my own sake, whereas I am a leader for your sake; the fact that I am a Christian is to my own advantage, but I am a leader for your advantage.

Many persons come to God as Christians but not as leaders. Perhaps they travel by an easier road and are less hindered since they bear a lighter burden. In addition to the fact that I am a Christian and must give God an account of my life, I as a leader must give him an account of my stewardship as well.

Out of "Universalis."

Saturday, September 12, 2009

10 Episcopal Nuns Join the Catholic Church

I grabbed this article out of the It was posted by Tim Drake. It concerns 10 Episcopal nuns who have come home to the Catholic Church. This is so wonderful. Mother Church certainly needs more religious -our prayers are being answered.

In a move described by religious scholars as unprecedented, 10 members of the Episcopal religious community All Saints Sisters of the Poor were received into the Catholic Church by Baltimore Archbishop Edwin O’Brien on Sept. 3. The community’s chaplain, Rev. Warren Tanghe, also converted with the nuns.

Members of the order had been considering conversion for seven years. “We were drifting farther apart from the more liberal road the Episcopal Church is traveling. We are now more at home in the Roman Catholic Church,” Mother Christina Christie, superior of the order, told the Baltimore Sun. In particular, she cited the Episcopal church’s decisions to consecrate homosexual bishops and blessing same-sex marriage.

Two of the community’s sisters decided not to convert. They will continue to live with the others at their convent in Catonsville, Md. The order was founded originally in England and came to Baltimore in 1872.

Here is the video of the service..


Friday, September 11, 2009

Father Mychal's Prayer

Father Mychal's Prayer

Lord, take me where
you want me to go;
Let me meet who
you want me to meet;
Tell me what
you want me to say, and
Keep me out of your way.

—Fr. Mychal Judge, O.F.M.Chaplain,
New York Fire Department
Copyright ©2001 Holy Name Province

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Nun Barred from Teaching Catechetics

Most Reverend Daniel E. Pilarczyk

Archbishop of Cincinnati

Here is a story about a Sister of Charity nun who has been barred by the Archbishop of Cincinnati from teaching cathehetics - this due to her public support of women's ordination. Do you think that clergy, religious or Catholic laity should be barred from teaching the faith when they hold views that contradict the teachings of the Catholic Church?

From the National Catholic Reporter >

Archbishop explains why he barred nun-catechist

The decision by the archbishop of Cincinnati to bar Sister of Charity Louise Akers from teaching catechetics on behalf of the archdiocese because of her public support of women's ordination in the Catholic church has "garnered international attention" for the archbishop and the sister, according to a report by The Catholic Telegraph, the official organ of the archdiocese.

“Questions have been raised about the role of a diocesan bishop and the teaching of catechetics in his diocese,” Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk told The Catholic Telegraph Sept. 3. “It is a bishop’s responsibility to provide authentic and orthodox Catholic teaching in his diocese. Persons who are not in accord with the teaching of the church should not expect to be allowed to teach catechetical leaders or others in the name of the church.”

Her public position, he told the newspaper, is in defiance of the church’s teaching.

“We don’t hire people to teach only infallible doctrine; we hire people to teach what’s in the Catechism of the Catholic Church,” he explained. “As a result, Sister Louise may not teach in the name of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati or at any venue for which the archdiocese is responsible.”

Akers joined the Sisters of Charity in 1960. Since 1979, she had served in a number of archdiocesan posts related to the Social Action Office and had been frequent teacher on justice issues the Office of Catechesis and Evangelization as well as an adjunct and visiting professor at Mount St. Joseph and at Xavier University..

Read the rest of the story

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Latest Image from Hubble, the Glory of the Trinity

Here is the latest image from the space camera "Hubble."

From wired science > The Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3), a new camera aboard the Hubble Space Telescope, snapped this image of the planetary nebula, catalogued as NGC 6302, but more popularly called the Bug Nebula, or Butterfly Nebula. NGC 6302 lies within the Milky Way, roughly 3,800 light-years away in the constellation Scorpius. The glowing gas is the star’s outer layers, expelled over about 2,200 years. The “butterfly” stretches for more than 2 light-years, which is about half the distance from the Sun to the nearest star, Alpha Centauri.

Look closely at this image. Witness the awesome power of the One and Holy God. How beautiful is this Divine Artist!

From John Paul II "Trinity is Mysteriously Present in Creation."

"God said, "Let there be light'; and there was light" (Gn 1:3). In this part of the first account of creation the Word of God is already seen in action; John will say of him: "In the beginning was the Word ... the Word was God ... all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made" (Jn 1:1-3). Paul will emphasize in the hymn in the Letter to the Colossians that "in him [Christ] all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities — all things were created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together" (Col 1:16-17). But at the very first moment of creation the Spirit also seems to be foreshadowed: "the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters" (Gn 1:2).

The glory of the Trinity — we can say with Christian tradition — is resplendent in creation.

The March on Washington 9/12/09

The Tea Party movement goes to Capitol Hill. The March will take place Saturday 9/12/09. God bless America and God bless all who join in the march!

9/12/09 March on Washington website is HERE

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A Soldier's Faith Takes Root

Here is a very good story, written by Jessica Weinstein of Catholic News Service, about Cpl. Andrew Roy Jr. of Holy Family Parish in Watertown, N.Y. Cpl. Roy is serving our country in Afghanistan. For most of his life he struggled with his faith. Now, by the grace of Almighty God, he is sharing his "new found" faith with his fellow soldiers. God bless Cpl. Roy, and all the men and women in uniform around the world who are giving their all to protect our freedom.

Soldier's faith takes root, spreads during deployment in Afghanistan

FOB AIRBORNE, Afghanistan (CNS) -- On a recent starlit night in eastern Afghanistan, five U.S. soldiers and two civilians spread out under a tent, sitting on leather couches and wooden plank benches to discuss the doctrine of the real presence in the Eucharist.

Cpl. Andrew Roy Jr. of Holy Family Parish in Watertown, N.Y., read aloud from a computer outline on a flat-screen television in the chapel at FOB Airborne. He reviewed the history of Gnostics and councils that have long debated the real-presence doctrine of the Roman Catholic faith.

In May, this stocky soldier with clear blue eyes and a forceful voice was not wearing a wooden rosary over his chest as he was that night. Instead, he was in the throes of a spiritual journey that led him from being agnostic to a devout Roman Catholic.

Read the rest of the story

* above image from CNS

St. Andrew of Crete on the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

St. Andrew of Crete whose "Great Canon" the Orthodox pray during Lent, was born in Damascus. He became a monk at Mar Saba and served later at the Holy Sepulchre. Around 685, he was ordained a deacon at Hagia Sophia. He also ran a refuge that took in orphans and cared for the elderly. He ended his days as Archbishop of Gortyna, a position to which he was elevated in 692, on the island of Crete. He wrote homilies that display great oratorical skill, as well as panegyrics to the saints. Some say that he invented the canon.

Today most of us will be returning to our work place, and many young people will be going back to school, this after a long summer of sun, fun, and hopefully some serious reflection. As the beginning of St. Andrew's discourse reads " The old has passed away: all things are made new." Let us pray to Our Blessed Mother Mary, asking her to bestow on us the necessary grace from her Son, to become God's instruments - opening up the window to the Kingdom of God to all who we meet today and tomorrow, at our workplace, at our school, wherever we may be.

From a discourse by Saint Andrew of Crete,

out of todays "Office of Reading."

"The old has passed away: all things are made new."

‘The fulfillment of the law is Christ himself, who does not so much lead us away from the letter as lift us up to its spirit. For the law’s consummation was this, that the very lawgiver accomplished his work and changed letter into spirit, summing everything up in himself and, though subject to the law, living by grace. He subordinated the law, yet harmoniously united grace with it, not confusing the distinctive characteristics of the one with the other, but effecting the transition in a way most fitting for God. He changed whatever was burdensome, servile and oppressive not what is light and liberating, so that we should be enslaved no longer under the elemental spirits of the world, as the Apostle says, nor held fast as bondservants under the letter of the law.

This is the highest, all-embracing benefit that Christ has bestowed on us. This is the revelation of the mystery, this is the emptying out of the divine nature, the union of God and man, and the deification of the manhood that was assumed. This radiant and manifest coming of God to men most certainly needed a joyful prelude to introduce the great gift of salvation to us. The present festival, the birth of the Mother of God, is the prelude, while the final act is the fore-ordained union of the Word with flesh. Today the Virgin is born, tended and formed and prepared for her role as Mother of God, who is the universal King of the ages.

Justly, then, do we celebrate this mystery since it signifies for us a double grace. We are led toward the truth, and we are led away from our condition of slavery to the letter of the law. How can this be? Darkness yields before the coming of the light, and grace exchanges legalism for freedom. But midway between the two stands today’s mystery, at the frontier where types and symbols give way to reality, and the old is replaced by the new. Therefore, let all creation sing and dance and unite to make worthy contribution to the celebration of this day. Let there be one common festival for saints in heaven and men on earth. Let everything, mundane things and those above, join in festive celebration. Today this created world is raised to the dignity of a holy place for him who made all things. The creature is newly prepared to be a divine dwelling place for the Creator.

Monday, September 7, 2009

The Source by John Paul II

The Source

The undulating wood slopes down
to the rhythm of mountain streams....
If you want to find the source,
you have to go up, against the current,
tear through, seek, don't give up,
you know it must be somewhere here.
Where are you, source? Where are you, source?!

Stream, stream in the wood,
tell me the secret of your beginning!

(Silence—why are you silent?
How carefully you have hidden the secret of your beginning).

Allow me to wet my lips
in spring water,
to feel its freshness,
reviving freshness.

* above image Placid Stream ©bjm

Sunday, September 6, 2009

A Bit of Theology "Galatians"

“It is no longer I who live,

but Christ who lives in me”.

In the letter to the Galatians, Paul is angry and he did not care who knew it. The evidence for this is clear in the first verse of Chapter three, where Paul states “You foolish Galatians!” Legalistic Jewish-Christians, also known as Judaizers, were stirring up trouble. The Judaizers said that grace plus circumcision equaled right standing. Paul believed only grace, and nothing else, equaled right standing. The Judaizers had twisted the teaching of Jesus. They also cast aspersions on Paul by raising questions as to Paul’s authority. He was not one of the Twelve. The people asked, is Paul a self appointed Apostle? Paul launches into a personal defense to deal with this charge that he is not a real apostle. He goes on to tell the Galatians that he did not receive the gospel from any man, but only by revelation from Jesus Christ. And this revelation has made a profound change in him.

Paul’s words to the Galatians help us to find our own true identity as Christians. Just as Paul said “no” to self and “yes” to Christ, so are we called to empty ourselves of our iniquity and fill ourselves with Christ. Paul is the most excellent example of this. A man who at one time persecuted Christians had allowed Jesus to fill his life – and change him forever.

Thoughts From Yesterday's Feast Day

Yesterday, September 5th, all the Missionary of Charity missions in the world celebrated Mother Teresa's Feast day, the day Mother went home to God. At the MC mission in New Jersey, in our small mission Church of St. Augustine, Holy Mass was celebrated by Bishop Manuel Aurelio Cruz of the Archdiocese of Newark. Bishop Cruz offered a very moving homily, speaking of his own personal experience with Mother Teresa.

There were many priests, religious, MC co-workers in attendance. Also in attendance were the sisters of the Community of Saint John. What a wonderful vocation is theirs. After Mass the sisters and volunteers offered a reception in the soup kitchen.

I wanted to share this picture with you - to show you the joy of the sisters on this special day. Note the message on the wall " We have been created to love, and to be loved."

God bless !

Friday, September 4, 2009

A Tribute to Our Beloved Mother by Fr. Sebastian Vazhakala M.C.

by Fr. Sebastian Vazhakala M.C.

We all have witnessed something extraordinary happening around and across the world since the night of September 5, 97 when Mother Teresa's thirsty soul abandoned her frail and worn out body to quench once and for all the infinite thirst of her Lord and Saviour whose thirst she tried to quench over the years with all the powers and fibres of her being on the streets of Calcutta and of the world. Although it is hard for us to accept the reality of her not being with us, the fact is that she returned to the Source and fullness of Love and Grace from where she will continue to shower many graces.

On the other hand it is absolutely necessary for us to accept the "Kairos of God", the divine hour of God's visitation for which she was always ready. So our beloved Mother whom we all loved and who loved us all so dearly within minutes disappeared from the visible horizons of our lives to be totally united to Jesus like a piece of iron stuck to the magnet never to be separated.

Already from a distance she might have heard the words of the Master: "Come, blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world". We can imagine in our own minds the long line of the M.C. Community in heaven with Sr. Agnes and Sr. Sylvia in the front, then there is the endless line of the poorest of the poor whom Mother Teresa fed, quenched, clothed, sheltered, visited and buried; those in thousands who have lived like animals on the street but have died like angels with dignity, loved and cared by her and the members of the M.C. Family in the homes of the dying destitutes, the many lepers and AIDS patients, all dressed in white singing the songs of praise and thanksgiving were all waiting in heaven to welcome her and to take her to Abraham's bosom.

I wonder there has ever been such a reception in heaven for anybody or a funeral of any sort for any person on earth of any time or place. Everything in heaven and on earth for her was so unique and unprecedented. Never before in the story of any person of her status as religious had a State and Catholic funeral at the same time.

Leaving behind all these sublime and unique privileges that our Beloved Mother received both in life and at her death, not only from her beloved daughters and sons of the Family of the Missionaries of Charity but of the whole world we are now compelled to proceed to some of the principal teachings of our "Little Mahatma" Mother Teresa.

If Calcutta can be taken as a cesspool especially in the 1940s Mother Teresa can be the Lotus. As we know that immediately after the world war India became independent from the British, but not independent from problems. There were continual exodus in millions - especially from East Pakistan - majority of whom found their home on the sidewalks and empty, and old and unused buildings of Calcutta. Many could be found lying prostrate on both sides of the roads, a phenomenon that can still be found in Calcutta. Deprived of all human comforts and consolations, the poorest and the rejected cried to God for help. God saw the affliction of the poor and heard their cry. He called this simple, humble, and small in stature woman until now quite unknown to the world to be his messenger of love and tender care on the way to Darjeeling on 10th September 1946.

What did she learn from September 10th experience?

1) She learnt that the crucified Jesus of Nazareth is still hungry and thirsty for love of souls especially in the poorest of the poor irrespective of caste, colour, creed or nationality; and that she is being called to satiate and satisfy the hunger and thirst of Jesus and of the poor through prayer, penance and whole-hearted free service to them.

2) She learnt that the needs of the person take precedence over any other consideration such as religion, colour or nationality. Her first question was not what religion he or she belonged to or what country he or she came from, but whether the person in question was in need of any help or not and what could I do for him or her to alleviate the pain. When I began working in the home for the dying in Kalighat (Calcutta) in the year 1967, there was a man close to death who was brought by the Calcutta Corporation Ambulance. Once inside with all the care and love, simple medicines and some food, he was able to regain his strength; as soon as he was a little better he would go out to the street again and then within a few days an ambulance would bring him back. This happened over ten to fifteen times within a couple of months' time. I used to get upset and even angry with him for this. One day when he was brought back, I told Mother Teresa, this man has been here over fifteen or more times; there is no meaning in taking him in again. In a couple of days' time he is going to go back to the street. Mother looked at me and said: "Listen, Brother Sebastian, does this man now need your help or not?” I said, yes. "Then do whatever you can to help him. The question is not how many times he has been to us but how can we help him now. Plus whatever we do to him we do it to Jesus. This then is the point: although it was not the religion the person belonged to was her first consideration, every person she served was Jesus for her. She was always aware that whatever we do to the least of our brothers we do it to Jesus. And therefore:

3) She decided to make a fourth vow of wholehearted free service to the poorest of the poor in whom she loved and served Jesus.

4) Mother Teresa learnt that the same Jesus whom she loved and adored in the Bread of Life is the same Jesus whom she loved and served in the distressing disguise of the poorest of the poor. From the presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament she went to the presence of Jesus in the poorest of the poor and vice versa. She used to say: "The more repugnant the poor is the more faith is required to help him".

5) Mother Teresa learnt that the work she was going to do was not social work but God's work. She repeatedly said: "Our work is not social work; it is God's work we are doing. We are not social workers, we are consecrated persons who are called to do God's work". This gives the clear answer to the question: what is going to happen now to the Missionaries of Charity? Because it is God's work and works of love it is going to continue, as long as we remain faithful to her Spirit and Charism.

6) Mother Teresa realised that she was not called to do extraordinary things, but ordinary things with extraordinary love. She repeatedly said: "It is not how much we do that matters but how much love we put in our actions".

7) She learnt that not only she should hear the words of Jesus: "Come blessed of my Father..." but she should help all men of good will to hear it. She realised that she was called to build the bridge between the rich and the poor - the rich can find peace and joy in giving and sharing and the poor in receiving and returning. Both the rich and the poor give and receive mutually...

8) Mother Teresa learnt that it is in giving that we receive, in dying that we are born to eternal life. She realised that she was called to live the words of St. Paul: "It is more blessed to give than to receive" (Acts 20: 35).

9) Through Mother Teresa God opened the eyes of many to see their own poverty and misery and the poor they are surrounded with and that they have to be "their brothers' keepers".

10) Mother Teresa made the world realise that there are two kinds of poverty: material and spiritual, both of which have positive and negative aspects. The spiritual poverty however is worse than the material poverty.

In conclusion we can say that although Mother Teresa died, had her most solemn funeral performed and her mortal remains have been laid in the tomb, her immortal spirit will continue to operate until the end of time and she from heaven will go on satiating the infinite thirst of our Crucified Saviour for love of souls as she has become more powerful than ever.

"Each sigh, each look, each act of mine shall be an act of love divine, and everything I shall do, shall be, dear Lord, for love of you. Take this my heart and keep it true: a fountain sealed to all but you. What is there that I would not do today?" This was her prayer and her life. Let this be our prayer and our life as well.

God bless you.

Fr. Sebastian Vazhakala M.C.

(Fr. Sebastian Vazhakala is Co-founder with Mother Teresa of the Missionaries of Charity Contemplative, a mixed Community of Brothers and priests - one of the five branches of the Missionaries of Charity family. In 1967 he joined the Missionaries of Charity Brothers in Calcutta, and was a member of the first group of twelve novices. He was the first M.C. priest ordained. Since 1967 he has worked continuously with Mother Teresa, at first in Calcutta then in other countries of the world. In 1984 he founded the Lay Missionaries of Charity movement for lay people who live consecrated lives in the world.)