Monday, August 31, 2009

Jennifer Hartline's "A Mother's Heart: "My Own Flock"







“Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers – not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.” 1 Peter 5:2-4

Jennifer Hartline's latest article in Catholic Online "A Mother's Heart: "My Own Flock" concerns the privilege and awesome responsibility of parenting, raising children from the perspective of "God children", for so they are.

As always, Jennifer's article is well written, articulate and right to the point.
God bless her!

Jennifer's article is right HERE



Jennifer Hartline is a Catholic Army wife and stay-at-home mother of three precious kids who writes frequently on topics of Catholic faith and daily living. She is a contributing writer for Catholic Online.



Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Five Paths to Repentance


St. John Chrysostom
Known as the "Golden Mouth"
on account of his eloquence.

Doctor of the Church,
born at Antioch, c. 347;
died at Commana in Pontus, 14 September, 407.


I watched Senator Kennedy's Funeral Mass today. I was impressed by the beautiful words spoken by his children. I know how devastating it is to lose a father.


I know the word "repentance" was on a few peoples' minds. But as I said in a previous post, we are not to judge. We all need to "repent." This past Tuesday August 25th, the second reading in the "Office of Readings" was St John Chrysostom on the temptations of the devil, the five paths of repentance. St. John gives us a true path to heaven here. It is well worth reading - even again.

The five paths of repentance

Shall I list the paths of repentance? There are certainly many of them, many and various, and all of them lead to heaven.

The first path is the path of condemnation of sins. As Isaiah says, Tell your sins, and you will be acquitted. And the Psalmist adds: I said “I will bear witness against myself before the Lord,” and you forgave the guilt of my sin. So you, too must condemn the sins you have committed. Condemn them, and that condemnation will excuse you in front of the Lord, since whoever condemns the sins he has committed will be slower to commit them next time. Stir up your own conscience to be your accuser – so that when you come before the judgement-seat of the Lord no-one will be rise up to accuse you.
This is the first path of repentance but the second is in no way inferior to it in excellence. It is to forget the harm done to us by our enemies, to master our anger, to forgive the sins of those who are slaves together with us. As much as we do this, so much will our own sins against the Lord be forgiven. So this is the second path to the expiation of our sins. As the Lord says, Yes, if you forgive others their failings, your heavenly Father will forgive you yours.
Would you like to know the third path of repentance? It is prayer: fervent prayer, sincere and focused prayer, prayer coming from the depths of the heart.
If you want to know the fourth path, I will tell you it is the giving of alms. It has great power.
And finally, if someone acts with modesty and humility, that path is no less effective as a way to deprive sin of its substance. Look at the publican, who had no good deeds to speak of. In place of good deeds he offered humility, and the huge burden of his sins fell away.
So now I have shown you the five paths of repentance. First, condemnation of sins. Second, forgiving the sins of those near us. Third, prayer. Fourth, almsgiving. Fifth, humility.
So do not be idle, but every day advance along all these paths at once. They are not hard paths to follow. Poverty is no excuse for not setting out on the journey. Even if you are destitute you can do all these things: put aside anger, carry humility in front of you, pray hard, condemn your sins. Poverty is no obstacle – not even to that path of penitence that demands money: that is, almsgiving. Remember the story of the widow’s mite.
Now we have learnt the right way to heal our wounds, let us apply these remedies. Let us regain true health and confidently receive the blessings of Holy Communion. Thus we may come, filled with glory, to the glory of Christ’s kingdom, and receive its eternal joys through the grace, mercy and kindness of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Friday, August 28, 2009

A Cab Driver, and My Friend's Wife, Give Hope to the World.

* Recently, the brother of my classmate Lou was in dire need of an organ. After some testing, the doctors concluded that Lou's wife, Jean, was a match. She could donate her organ to her brother-in-law. Jean gave her resounding "YES" and, after some ups and downs,the operation ensued. With many prayers from many people requesting the intercession of Our Blessed Mother, the operation was a success. What gift is greater than giving one's own life. This is what Blessed Mother Teresa calls "Love" in action. This is His calling for all of us.




This story is out of the A/P by Terry Tang. It is one of those stories that gives us hope - hope in our fellow man - hope for the world. Jesus said so clearly "What you have done to the least of my brothers, you have done to me." God bless Thomas Chappell.

Ariz. woman finds taxi driver is a kidney match

PHOENIX — Rita Van Loenen had no idea that a trip in Thomas Chappell's taxi cab could end up being the ride that saves her life.

"There are better odds of getting struck by lightning," Van Loenen said. "A random taxi driver offering to give me his kidney and all these pieces match. There has to be something behind this. How can this be?"

Chappell, who has been driving Van Loenen to dialysis appointments, shocked the Gilbert, Ariz. woman a month ago by offering to donate his kidney. But even more shocking to her was that doctors found they had the same blood type, that they were compatible.

"He calls me all excited. If we were a closer match, we would've been siblings. I was ready to fall off the floor," Van Loenen said.

The Phoenix taxi driver said he was a man of faith and that a higher power wanted him to step in.

"By then, me and the good Lord already had a talk. He said 'Tom, you go give her one. It will work," Chappell said.

Last year, Van Loenen, an instructor in special education methods, began feeling ill and experiencing water retention in her legs. She went to see a doctor and was diagnosed with kidney disease. With kidney failure setting in, friends and family were tested but there was no match.

In February, she received her cousin's kidney but that transplant failed. One day, Van Loenen, 63, found herself telling Chappell, 56, about how her son was now going to get tested. Chappell decided to add his name to the list.

"I said 'Rita, your son's a whole lot younger than me. He's got a lot more years. I'm gonna go down and go through the process and see if it will work.' I don't think she really believed I was going to."

The gesture evoked tears of gratitude from Loenen but she was still skeptical.

"A little bit in my heart I didn't believe it. He said 'give me the number' and I have transplant number at Mayo (Clinic in Scottsdale) memorized."

The two first met more than three months ago. It wasn't an auspicious beginning.

Chappell was half an hour late picking Van Loenen up for a dialysis appointment.

"When I got there she was not happy," Chappell said. "And I can understand it now. She's sick and all these things she goes through ... The next day, it just so happens I got her again."

Since then he has — and he insists it is by happenstance — been her taxi driver three to four times a month. For the last month, Chappell has started undergoing the arduous process of donor screening, undergoing numerous tests and exams. But none of it has brought second thoughts.

"This has put a whole new kind of lift in my boots. I never knew what it felt like to give somebody life and that's what I'm doing," Chappell said.

Van Loenen said Chappell never asked for any compensation. She still can't quite believe his level of commitment.

"I've never known anybody so enthusiastic to get a body part removed," Van Loenen said.

After the transplant, which hasn't been scheduled yet, Chappell will need to tread carefully. He will have to rest between four and six weeks but his work has promised to cover his lost wages.

"I've had drivers do some pretty incredibly amazing things for no charge. But this is just over the top," said Jim Hickey, national sales and marketing director for the company that owns VIP Taxi. "We're just so proud of him."

Van Loenen said that, thanks to Chappell, she can actually make plans for the future.

"Whenever I tell my friends or my family, they just find it so incredible," Van Loenen said. "They do call him an angel. My friend says there's angels everywhere. That's the right way to capture it."


LINK

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Novena in preparation of Blessed Mother Teresa's Feast day September 5th

Convent Chapel - Missionaries of Charity - New Jersey

Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, longing to love Jesus as He had never been loved before, you gave yourself entirely to Him, refusing Him nothing. In union with the Immaculate Heart of Mary, you accepted His call to satiate His infinite thirst for love and souls and become a carrier of His love to the poorest of the poor. With loving trust and total surrender you fulfilled His will, witnessing to the joy of belonging totally to Him. You became so intimately united to Jesus your crucified Spouse that He deigned to share with you the agony of His Heart as He hung upon the Cross.

Blessed Teresa, you promised to continuously bring the light of love to those on earth; pray for us that we also may long to satiate the burning thirst of Jesus by loving Him ardently, sharing in His sufferings joyfully, and serving Him wholeheartedly in our brothers and sisters, especially those most unloved and unwanted. Amen


Today we will begin the Novena in preparation of Blessed Mother Teresa's Feast Day on September 5th. If you would like to join the Missionaries of Charity and the MC family in praying the novena, click on the following link. You will find instructions on the site to help guide you in prayer through all nine days.

> Novena for Blessed Mother Teresa


Our Blessed Mother, dressed up by the sisters

Mother's feast Day 2008

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Fishing


This summer, while driving near Lake Placid, New York, I stopped my car to take a picture of a pretty mountain stream. Walking along the bank of the stream, I noticed a man "fly fishing". This is high level fishing, and I would dare say a high form of prayer.

I snapped the picture of him without his knowing (not very polite of me). When I returned to my car, I noticed a lone SUV parked nearby with Ontario plates. I assume it was the fisherman's vehicle. So, if you are from Ontario - and you know a fly fisherman who was in Lake Placid this summer, this may be your friend.

On the subject of fishing, twenty years ago I was invited by a trucking company in Maine to go on a fishing trip to the North Woods. The area is called "The Allagash." I invited a friend of mine to accompany me. We flew from Newark, NJ to Portland, Maine, rented a car and drove almost six hours to our first destination - the small town of Mars Hill. Travelling north, we spotted a moose drinking water at the bottom of a ravine. We stopped the car - walked slowly down the ravine to see the moose. The moose was casually enjoying this fresh spring water. (we have to pay for it!)


When the moose took notice of our presence, he/she lifted up it's head and gave us a glare. The water began to pour out of it's mouth. Uh Oh...time to go! We ran up the hill to the car and took off!

When we arrived in Mars Hill, we met some friends who helped us load our gear into a 4x4 truck. There were four trucks in all. We left Mars Hill for the North Woods, using intricate coordinate maps. Only the Mainers could read them. We were now going into "lumberman's territory." The lumber companies were not all too happy with us sportsmen. Every mile or so there would be a hill of gravel dumped right smack in the middle of the road. Either move it - or drive around it. We chose the latter. After a few hours of driving on very bumpy roads, we finally stopped. The leader of our group said "we are here." It was time to take our gear out of the truck, including a heavy canoe on the roof of each truck. The gear was loaded into the canoes. Two men per canoe - each man lifts up his end. Then the long hike through the woods to the lake. I believe this is called "portaging." After an hour of stop and rest, I came upon the most beautiful lake I had ever seen. It was perfect! Here was a glacial lake never touched by man. All the water and fish were delivered by God alone. The lake dark blue, deep and cold. The name of the lake was "Chase." We stayed in a cabin on the shore. It was built with lumber harvested at the site. As I recall, the cabin would only stand for two years, then it would come down.

We were all exhausted (or at least I was) and enjoyed a good night's sleep. In the morning, all of us men, teenagers and seniors, ran naked to the shore - each clutching a bar of soap and a towel. We were like marathon runners. Why run so fast? We were being pursued by very hungry black fies.


If you have never experienced black flies, you must go fishing in Maine - best in spring after the ice breaks. Black flies enjoy community living - and eating. They work together. When you swat them on your neck, your hand will be full of black fly guts and (your) blood. We jumped into the water and took the quickest bath ever. The water must have been 40*F!

After our lake bath, a good cup of coffee and a hearty breakfast, we all went fishing. It was heavenly. Out on the lake the water was calm - really like glass. We were only using fly rods. Bait such as worms and salmon eggs was not permitted. The State Game police would fly their prop planes over the lake - come down real close to you - and make sure you are abiding by the rules.

While we were fishing, I experienced what only one could experience on a lake like this. The water began to bubble - yes, like boiling water. Black flies and other assorted flying creatures were on the water - and the trout were just going crazy. We began to fish, taking out some pretty big trout. At least bigger trout than I had ever seen in New Jersey - which is maybe "one"...

Fishing is a perfect way to experience God - enjoying His creation, His first Revelation. And if the wind is still - the water clear - you will see a fish go by, reminding you of the very first fish you ever caught. Maybe you were with your dad, a brother, a huckleberry friend - and all your memories since that time will well up like water boiling with trout..

*** This all reminds me of the movie "A River Runs Through It."

Ted Kennedy Dead at 77


Sen. Edward Moore "Ted" Kennedy
has died at age 77.


Long-time Catholic League member Tom Dennelly wrote to Senator Edward Kennedy in 1971 expressing his views on abortion (this was a year-and-a-half before Roe v. Wade). In a letter dated August 3, 1971, Senator Kennedy replied; excerpts appear below.

While the deep concern of a woman bearing an unwanted child merits consideration and sympathy, it is my personal feeling that the legalization of abortion on demand is not in accordance with the value which our civilization places on human life. Wanted or unwanted, I believe that human life, even at its earliest stages, has certain rights which must be recognized—the right to be born, the right to love, the right to grow old.

“On the question of the individual’s freedom of choice there are easily available birth control methods and information which women may employ to prevent or postpone pregnancy. But once life has begun, no matter at what stage of growth, it is my belief that termination should not be decided merely by desire.

“When history looks back to this era it should recognize this generation as one which cared about human beings enough to halt the practice of war, to provide a decent living for every family, and to fulfill its responsibility to its children from the very moment of conception
.”

What happened to Ted Kennedy? How can a person's value system have such a complete turn around? I can't answer that.

As I was surfing the net this morning, I scanned some websites commenting on Ted Kennedy's life and death. Some sites are using very hateful speech. This "hate" leads us nowhere. We Christians know - we are not to judge, only God can do that. Soldiers in the pro-life movement need to move on. There is work to be done.

I offer my condolences to the Kennedy family. They have certainly endured their share of suffering.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Michael Vick's Second Chance, from "The Catholic Story"



Michael Dwayne Vick (born June 26, 1980, in Newport News, Virginia) is a professional American football quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles of the National Football League. He previously played for the Atlanta Falcons for six seasons before serving 18 months of a 23-month sentence in prison for his involvement in an illegal dog fighting ring.

This very good reflection about football player Michael Vick was posted August 23rd by Deacon Vince Tomkovicz on the website "The Catholic Story." The website was created by Deacon Eric Stoltz and Deacon Vince Tomkovicz.


“Forsake foolishness that you may live”

Michael Vick, a god of second chances for some……the Prophets of ancient Israel would scream from the mountaintops in disgust and call us out for the unjust double standard!

Michael Vick left federal prison in Leavenworth, Kansas and was allowed to complete his 23 month sentence confined at home for the last two months. You probably know that Vick was found guilty of participating in dog fighting for “sport” where the animals were treated in ways so atrocious that I refuse to elaborate further.

But Mr. Vick has talent beyond his taste for the sport he finds in animal cruelty. He is a quarterback capable of performing up to NFL standards. Upon Vick’s release NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said Vick would have to show him and the public genuine remorse before he was reinstated in the league. Vick’s sentence ended July 20, 2009 and before the end of August the Philadelphia Eagles, with the blessing of Commissioner Goodell, signed Vick to play for 1.6 million in year one with a second year option of 5.2million accompanied by incentives that could total an additional 3.0 million dollars. About 30 days of “remorse.”

So far I’ll bet you think I am just a tad bitter at the idea of this god of second chances.

Well you are right…..and wrong. I believe we do worship a God of second chances and we all deserve a second chance, tell me, as we look at our own lives, you disagree?

All things being equal let Vick have a second chance, yep go ahead Comissioner Goodell and the Eagles. After all, let’s face it, if he plays up to your expectations he should make the Eagles far more than the 9.8 million he stands to earn over the next few years. Maybe a soft drink company or some other nationally recognized brand name would even give Vick a chance to endorse their product, although I don’t see much of an opportunity to become the national spokesperson for the SPCA.

The Vick’s of this world and especially our country where all are “created equal”, those who enjoy celebrity status, cannot be the only ones given their second chance if we live in a society where justice is the rule of law. We do say that don’t we? That justice for all thing?

Every week a group of dedicated women accompany me to a conservation camp where women who are incarcerated for non-violent crimes serve out their time. Here they are trained to fight our California wild fires and for that receive a reduced sentence. These women are well educated or were highly skilled in the workforce before they made their mistakes and like Vick are serving their time.

But there is a difference! They are not celebrities, they cannot pass a football with precision accuracy, and no one is waiting to hire them upon their release for multi-million dollar contracts that benefit national organizations. In fact no one is waiting to hire them at all after their debt has been paid. They stress as their parole date approaches and they are given their $200.00 with which to buy a bus ticket home.

Why would the Prophets of Israel rail this injustice? Because again and again they tell us that if you want to measure the level of justice in any society you MUST look at those most marginalized. How any society treats the least of God’s children is the true measure of justice.

Therefore comparing Michael Vick, Roger Goodell, the Philadelphia Eagles, and similar stories of celebrity comebacks we can all recall to the fate of the women at the conservation camp: Bonnie, Sabrina, Jenny, Rosi, Tiffany, Colleen, Cynthia, Nancy, Janice, Sue, Janene, Kelly, Jen, Maria, Margarita, Ado, Breanne, and Emma we have, as a country, failed to meet even a minimum standard of justice.

“Just as individuals may sin, a society may also engage in social sin. Social sin is when a society embraces injustice as public policy or becomes so accustom to injustice it no longer sees its structures as an affront to human dignity.” Ascend: The Catholic Faith for a New Generation Stoltz/Tomkovicz, chapter 18 page 108.

I refuse to capitalize god in the heading of this article. This god of second chances is a false god whose name is invoked in vain. The God I know is one who demands that we give all people, according to their ability, talent, and sincerity, the same second chance after their debt has been paid.

Move over Martha Stewart, our God is looking at us. The difference that this god and our God sees is a failure to live out our American Creed. What the founding fathers stated as “self evident” has yet to be realized in this scenario and so many more like it in our land.

How can we make a difference? Maybe our winnings next season from the weekly NFL football pool won’t seem like such an honest “take” after all!

You can link to the article HERE

Monday, August 24, 2009

Will the Lutherans ever come home to Mother Church?





To your left is a 1913 postcard of the German Lutheran Church in Hoboken, New Jersey. Today it is the Hoboken Community Church.


Here is a recent picture of me in front of the same church.
This church was founded by a Lutheran Pastor, Leopold Mohn, a missionary from Germany. My family on the German Lutheran side, the Erxmeyers, were baptized, confirmed, married, and buried at this church. Also, my great-grandfather August Bremer and great-grandmother Christine (Berthe) Erxmeyer, attended confirmation class together in this very building in 1874.


Here is a picture of my great-grandfather August Bremer >


Being of Lutheran roots, I am very interested in the possible future "welcome back" to the Lutheran denominations into the Catholic Church. After the October 31, 1999 signing of the "Joint Declaration of the Catholic Church and the Lutheran World Federation on the Doctrine of Justification" I thought we were on the road to reunion.

I was saddened when I heard the latest news that the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America succumbed to heresy by striking down a policy that required gay and lesbian clergy to remain celibate. I wonder what Pastor Leopold Mohn, who ministered to my Lutheran family so many years ago, would think of the currect situation in his church. I don't think he would be very happy.

Here is a very good article by Deacon Keith Fournier:

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Succumbs to Heresy

CHESAPEAKE, Va. – The media is filled with reports concerning the slide of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ECLA) into heresy. Yes, that is exactly what occurred when the leadership of that community “voted” to abandon Christian orthodoxy. The Associated Press in an article entitled “Lutherans’ gay clergy vote hints at major shift”, led with these loaded words “In breaking down barriers restricting gays and lesbians from the pulpit, the nation's largest Lutheran denomination has laid down a new marker…. The ELCA — the nation's seventh-largest Christian church — reached its conclusion after eight years of study and deliberation. That culminated Friday when the church's national assembly in Minneapolis struck down a policy that required any gay and lesbian clergy to remain celibate.”

What really happened is that representatives of the ECLA succumbed to heresy. Oh, I can hear it now, “how dare he say such a thing?” Because… it is true, and there is nothing compassionate about failing to help fellow Christians to reject error. Christians abandoning the clear teaching of the Sacred Scriptures and the unbroken Christian Tradition is not a new phenomenon in the 2000 year history of the Christian Church. What is new is the massive support that such a sad turn of events receives from this kind of media report. There is a “fifth column” at work, determined to present the matter as a battle between orthodox Christians (who are disparaged with labels such as “right” or “conservative” or “fundamentalist”…) and those who this kind of media report favors, the promoters of heresy and advocates of a new paganism.

All one has to do is look to the first few centuries of the Christian Church to see that this is not new. The same issues and struggles existed very early on. Irenaeus, the Bishop of Lyon, France, was born in Asia Minor in the year 125. His efforts are one example of the many early Church Fathers who contended for the truth and pulled no punches. His seminal work was entitled “Against Heresies” precisely because so much of his work was spent exposing and opposing false teaching in order to protect the Christians of that day from their poison. His treatise is a refutation of the teachings of certain “Christian” Gnostics whose followers fell for similar heresies as those which were voted upon by the ELCA this past week. Irenaeus’ goal was stated in the Fifth Book of the treatise, to “…reclaim the wanderers and convert them to the Church of God” and to “confirm at the same time the minds of the neophytes” (Preface, Book V).This is still the truly proper response of the Church in our age. Irenaeus loved the heretical Christians enough to speak the truth precisely to try and lead them back to the faith. We must follow his example.

Read the rest of the article HERE

*Image above T-L from the postcard collection of Maggie Land Blanck


Deacon Keith Fournier asks that you join with us and help in this vital mission by sending this article to your family, friends, and neighbors and adding our link (www.catholic.org) to your own website, blog or social network. Let us broadcast, we are PROUD TO BE CATHOLIC!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

We can learn from St. Thérèse


St. Thérèse of Lisieux

From “Story of a Soul”

There was at that time a certain nun who managed to irritate me in everything she did. The devil had a part in it, for it was certainly he who made me see all her bad points. Not wishing to give way to natural antipathy, I reminded myself that sentiments of charity were not enough; they must find expression, and I set myself to treat her as if I loved her best of all.


I prayed for her whenever we met, and offered all her virtues and merits to God. I was sure that Jesus would be delighted at this, for artists always like to have their work praised, and it pleases the Divine Artist of souls when, not stopping at the exterior, we penetrate the inner sanctuary where He dwells, to admire its beauty.

Isn't it difficult to love the ones who hurt us? The ones who may even hate us? In our struggle to defend the dignity of the human person, most importantly the unborn child, we may experience feelings of extreme dislike, loathing, antipathy, for those who are not on the side of "life.". These feelings come out of a "battle fatigue" we experience when we give our all to protect life and fail to see the fruits of our labor. "Be not afraid." You will see the fruits of your labor, if not in this world, then in the next.

Anger can be a good emotion. It brings us action, to do God's good work, to defend a defenseless neighbor. But anger can also act against us - when it brings us to feelings of dislike, or even hatred for our neighbor. When this occurs we place our souls in dangerous territory. We have to keep in mind, at all times, we are all children of God. God loves each and every one of us - the good and the bad. St. Thérèse knew this all too well. With "love" she acted towards this nun, who irritated her in all things. We must keep up the good fight for the dignity of the human person- using all the skills we can muster. But "love" must be included in that skill. Without "love", nothing good will be accomplished. St. Thérèse can teach us so much. This is why she is a Doctor of the Church.

August 24th, 1997, Mass for the closure of World Youth Day -
in the words of our beloved John Paul II, speaking of St. Thérèse:

"She radically lived the offering of herself in response to the Love of God. In the simplicity of everyday life she could also practice brotherly love. With the imitation of Jesus, she agreed to sit down at the table of the sinners,her brothers, so that they are purified by the love."

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Queenship of Mary - August 22, 2009


“Let the entire body of the faithful pour forth persevering prayer to the Mother of God and Mother of men. Let them implore that she who aided the beginnings of the Church by her prayers may now, exalted as she is in heaven above all the saints and angels, intercede with her Son in the fellowship of all the saints. May she do so until all the peoples of the human family, whether they are honored with the name of Christian or whether they still do not know their Savior, are happily gathered together in peace and harmony into the one People of God, for the glory of the Most Holy and Undivided Trinity”
(Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, 69).








* above image of the Virgin Mary from the Mary Shrine
Holy Face Monastery - Clifton, New Jersey USA

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Sister Pauline and Pax



Cardinal Roger Mahoney, Pax,
and Sr. Pauline Quinn,OP.


Sr. Pauline's words: “When I was a young girl, having a very difficult life, I felt there was no hope. I was very wounded because of what some people did to me.. but the Lord helped me to flow with the pain. With great determination, I followed my vocation and went to Italy. It was here that I no longer saw barriers that wouldn't move but rather I saw challenges and saw that with the help of the Lord, barriers can be moved and hearts could be changed.. and I moved through the darkness and into the light. It is not easy when people put up barriers but that is a testimony to their own lives.. how they view the world.. but even they can change and can become renewed. Becoming a Dominican was a Grace from God...not because it gave me identity but rather it gave my life purpose.. to be in a family that was working in their unique ways to make this a better world. When my suffering took on meaning.. and my hope in the Lord took root and I then understood my mission in life. Becoming a Dominican, doing projects to serve the Lord is the greatest road that I could have ever taken.



I was surfing the net, looking for information about golden retrievers. You probably know, I have a pretty golden named Shelby. There are a few pics of Shelby in my blog, somewhere. She is a sweetheart. As a matter of fact, Shelby had her bath and grooming today, and she came home with a pretty bow on her head. Anyway, as I was surfing, I came upon the name of a Dominican Sister named Sr. Pauline Quinn, OP. and her golden retriever "Pax." I clicked on the site and came up with a very moving article about Sister Pauline and her dog Pax. It is a story of love and compassion.

There are too many words for this post. I set up a link to the story below. You can read it online or print it. Let me know how this story touched you...

Link > "Touched by the Peacemaker"

Sister Pauline Quinn, OP is a member of the
"Community of the Resurrection"
in Casco Maine.

For more info on Sister Pauline, click HERE

God's Garden By Robert Frost


God's Garden

God made a beatous garden
With lovely flowers strown,
But one straight, narrow pathway
That was not overgrown.
And to this beauteous garden
He brought mankind to live,
And said: "To you, my children,
These lovely flowers I give.
Prune ye my vines and fig trees,
With care my flowerets tend,
But keep the pathway open
Your home is at the end."

Then came another master,
Who did not love mankind,
And planted on the pathway
Gold flowers for them to find.
And mankind saw the bright flowers,
That, glitt'ring in the sun,
Quite hid the thorns of av'rice
That poison blood and bone;
And far off many wandered,
And when life's night came on,
They still were seeking gold flowers,
Lost, helpless and alone.


O, cease to heed the glamour
That blinds your foolish eyes,
Look upward to the glitter
Of stars in God's clear skies.
Their ways are pure and harmless
And will not lead astray,
Bid aid your erring footsteps
To keep the narrow way.
And when the sun shines brightly
Tend flowers that God has given
And keep the pathway open
That leads you on to heaven.

Robert Frost
* image ©bjm

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Why Should We Go To Holy Mass?



All of us have friends and family who, for one reason or another, no longer attend Mass, or atttend infrequently. Thomas Lickona, a developmental psychologist and professor of education at the State University of New York at Cortland. tells us why Catholics should be going to Mass.

8 Reasons to Go to Mass

"Mass is boring." "I don't get anything out of Mass — why should I go?" "Why can't I just pray alone?" These are common feelings, especially among young people but among many adults as well. How should we respond.

These are common feelings, especially among young people but among many adults as well. The great Bishop Fulton J. Sheen, when conducting a retreat for teenagers, once gave a talk on the meaning of the Mass. He said, "If you don't get anything out of Mass, it's because you don't bring the right expectations to it." The Mass is not entertainment, he said. It is worship of the God who made us and saves us. It is an opportunity to praise God and thank Him for all that He has done for us.

If we have a correct understanding of Mass, Bishop Sheen said, it will become more meaningful for us. We will want to go to Mass. We will understand why the Mass is God's precious gift to us, and we wouldn't think of refusing that gift. Here are eight reasons to go to Mass:

The Command of God.

The Third of the Ten Commandments given to Moses by God is, "Remember to keep holy the Sabbath day" (Exodus 20:8).

The Command of Christ.

Why should we keep the Sabbath holy by going to Mass? The Mass was instituted at the Last Supper by Jesus before his Crucifixion. The Last Supper was the first Mass. When the hour came, he [Jesus] took his place at the table with the apostles . . . Then he took the bread, blessed it, broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body, which will be given for you. Do this in memory of me" (Luke 22:14,19).

When we celebrate the Mass, we repeat the Last Supper, as Jesus commanded us to do. In doing this, we remember and re-present his great act of love for us on the Cross — taking our sins upon himself so that we, if we follow his commandments, can live with him forever in heaven.

The Command of the Church.

The Church teaches that we must fulfill the command of Jesus ("Do this in memory of me") by attending Sunday Mass (or the Vigil Mass the night before). The Catechism of the Catholic Church (1994, pp. 493-94) explains that Mass attendance on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation is the first of the six Commandments of the Church. These Commandments of the Church also require receiving Communion at least once a year during the Easter season, confessing any mortal sin as a preparation for Communion, and observing the prescribed days of fasting and abstinence. These Commandments spell out the minimal responsibilities of a Catholic. To fail to fulfill them through our own fault, the Church teaches, is a serious sin.

The Church speaks with the authority of Jesus.


Why should we obey these teachings of the Church? Where does the Church get its authority? From Jesus. In Matthew 16:18-19, Jesus made Peter the head of his Church — the first Pope. He gave Peter and the Church "the keys to the kingdom of heaven":

I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. The Church's authority in faith and morals is absolute because Christ's authority is absolute.

What we do at Mass.

The Mass is first of all a sacrifice — the perfect sacrifice, created by Jesus. Through the priest we offer Jesus, Body and Blood, to the Father, just as Jesus offered Himself to the Father on the Cross. In an unbloody way, we repeat — make present — Christ's death and Resurrection. Through this memorial of Jesus, we offer God our praise, sorrow for our sins, and deepest thanks.

The Mass is also a meal. At the Consecration, the bread and wine, through the power of the Holy Spirit, become the Body and Blood of Christ. Not a mere symbol, but Jesus's real flesh and real blood, under the appearance of bread and wine. When we receive Holy Communion, we receive Jesus Himself. He is real food for our soul. He said this very plainly: I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. My flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. (John 6:55-56).

What are the benefits of Holy Communion? It strengthens our union with Jesus; He lives within us in a special way. It cleanses us from venial sins. (Mortal sins require forgiveness in Confession.) It gives us grace to avoid sin in the future. It increases our love of God and neighbor.

Why do we have to worship with other people?

God made us social beings. He wants us to come together in community to worship Him. Jesus said, "Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I" (Matthew 18:20).

What are the consequences for others if we stop going to Mass?

James Stenson points out:

Our ancestors risked persecution, even death, to be able to take part in Mass. When you have children someday, they will need the graces and strength that come from the Mass. If you fail to pass it on because of your own indifference, you will do the gravest injustice to them and to God. You have the power to snuff out, in one generation, the faith that has sustained your family for generations. This is an enormous responsibility. You will have to answer to God for it.

The benefits of Mass.

If we give God a chance, He will help us experience the tremendous benefits of the Mass and the Eucharist. James Stenson writes:

Be patient. Bring an attitude of prayer and thanksgiving to Mass, and you will reap great spiritual riches: consolation, confidence, peace, deep happiness, and spiritual strength for the challenges of life.

Mother Teresa once wrote: "Jesus is my God/ Jesus is my Spouse/ Jesus is my Life/ Jesus is my Everything. Because of this, I am never afraid." Mother Teresa went to Mass every day. If we love the Mass as she did, we, too, will live in Jesus and he in us, and will we never be afraid."



"If you really thought about who you are, who God is, and how much thanks you owe Him, you would want to go to Mass.The Mass would become the source and center of your spiritual life." JAMES STENSON



Link

Info on James Stenson

Children Are A Blessing



Here is a very good article out of the NC Register, written by Deacon Lewis T. Ferris. The article concerns openness to life. Let us remember that Jesus loves the children. remember His words, "Let the little children come to me."

Think Baby Positive, Not Pregnancy Negative

I recently attended a very good lecture on natural family planning. True enough, it was designed to be a clinical talk by a medical doctor to a roomful of permanent deacons. However, halfway through the presentation, I realized that the whole discussion surrounding natural family planning often tends to underscore the clinical to the exclusion of the spiritual.

Shouldn’t we be emphasizing the joys of having children rather than the acceptable Catholic way of not having children?

Now, I don’t mean to criticize at all the dedicated couples who promote natural family planning. In fact, my wife Freda and I know many NFP couples who have very large families.

But sometimes I think we Catholics are buying into the secular society’s negative attitude toward having children. There has to come a time when we just trust God with the question of how many children he wants each couple to have.

At the birth of our first child, Freda contracted kidney disease. Shortly after the birth of our second child, we were strongly advised by our obstetrician-gynecologist that she should be sterilized. Something (an impulse of the Holy Spirit?) told us not to do it.

We went to the first large Catholic Charismatic Renewal conference in 1974 in Atlantic City, N.J., where Freda was “prayed over” for her kidney problems. She experienced a rush of warmth and a sense of healing.

Shortly after that, her kidney doctor told her that her right kidney had somehow compensated and took on the functioning of her left kidney. Years later, another ob-gyn told us that getting pregnant was bad for a woman’s kidneys, but they “now know” that it actually improves renal function.

I have worked in the medical profession as a pharmaceutical representative for many years and have often heard the “we used to think, but now know” phrase.

Well, our four children, who were conceived after the proposed sterilization, certainly are glad that we listened to the teachings of the Church and the prompting of the Holy Spirit and not to the physician 30 years ago.

read the rest of the article HERE

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A Priest Discovers a Family's Faith


Captain Jeremy Clarke

Pilot who's helicopter collided with a plane over the Hudson River.

Fiancé,Son, Brother, Nephew, Friend, and Man of Faith.



It seems that whenever we open the newspapers or watch the TV news, we hear of more tragedy. When the story broke out concerning the collision of the helicopter and plane over the Hudson River, my wife and I were in a hotel room watching CNN in Greensburg Pennsylvania. The news was heartwrenching. It really hit home as this is the place where I grew up - this was home.

This story is out of today's Wall Street Journal. It is written by Father Jonathan Morris, LC who serves as parochial vicar at St. Patrick's Old Cathedral in New York City. Father says in the article - "from a calm Saturday morning hitting golf balls off the 18th pier I would soon come to know posthumously a great captain
."

A Different Kind of Miracle on the Hudson

I know now it wasn't happenstance that I was on the shores of the Hudson River last weekend, when a small plane collided with Capt. Jeremy Clarke's helicopter, taking his life and the lives of eight others on a clear Saturday afternoon in August.

As I whispered a prayer after his helicopter plunged into the Hudson, others around me scrambled to call 911 and ran to the edge of the piers to get a better look at the surreal tragedy playing out before us. I never would have guessed that from a calm Saturday morning hitting golf balls off the 18th pier I would soon come to know posthumously a great captain who was, first and foremost, a great man, known by others as fiancé, son, brother, nephew, friend, and man of faith.
I am a Catholic priest at St. Patrick's Old Cathedral in Manhattan and by invitation of the inter-faith Disaster Chaplaincy Services, I have spent the last few days accompanying Capt. Clarke's fiancée, Danielle Granahan; his father and mother, Roger and Beatrice Clarke; his sister, Selina; and extended family members as they confront one of the greatest challenges of our human existence—the untimely, unfair, and sudden death of a soul mate.

The miracle I have witnessed since last Saturday's crash is certainly less joyous than the first Miracle on the Hudson, when a passenger jet turned the Hudson River into a smooth landing pad for more than 100 lucky souls this past January, but not for that reason is it less miraculous. For in the families of the deceased, Capt. Clarke's family in particular, I have witnessed inexplicable goodness and love.

Please read the rest of the story HERE

Monday, August 17, 2009

Receiving Jesus on the Tongue


"Whosoever shall eat this bread, or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the Body and of the Blood of the Lord... For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself, not discerning the Body of the Lord" - 1 Corinthians 11:27,28


As I browse through the Catholic web forums, a topic that keeps coming up is the issue of "receiving Holy Communion on the tongue." Here in America, most parishes, or maybe all parishes, offer Communion in the hands or on the tongue. In my opinion, receiving Jesus on the tongue is the most reverend and the most logical way to receive. As an Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist, I have witnessed more than a few abuses when Communion is received in the hands. For example, trying to receive Jesus with gloves on, taking the Host in the hands and not consuming immediately, and the worse case, placing the Host in the pocket and running out of the Church. YES - it happened! At the present time in the USA, receiving in the hands is allowed. It would be good for the priest, every now and then, to remind the congregation how we are to receive Jesus - with the utmost respect. I am blessed to have such a "teaching" priest in my home parish.

Here is an interesting article out of newsblaze.com, written by David Martin.

Pope Benedict to Catholics:
Kneel and Receive on the Tongue Only


Pope Benedict XVI does not want the faithful receiving Communion in their hand nor does he want them standing to receive Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. According to Vatican liturgist, Monsignor Guido Marini, the pope is trying to set the stage for the whole church as to the proper norm for receiving Communion for which reason communicants at his papal Masses are now asked to kneel and receive on the tongue.

The Holy Father's reasoning is simple: "We Christians kneel before the Blessed Sacrament because, therein, we know and believe to be the presence of the One True God." (May 22, 2008)

According to the pope the entire Church should kneel in adoration before God in the Eucharist. "Kneeling in adoration before the Eucharist is the most valid and radical remedy against the idolatries of yesterday and today" (May 22, 2008)

The pope's action is in accord with the Church's 2000 year tradition and is being done in order to foster a renewed love and respect for the Eucharist which presently is being mocked and treated with contempt. The various trends and innovations of our time (guitar liturgy, altar girls, lay ministers, Communion in the hand) have worked together to destroy our regard for the Eucharist, thus advancing the spiritual death of the church. After all, the Eucharist is the very life and heartbeat of the Mystical Body around which the entire Church must revolve.

Kneeling also coincides with the Church's centuries old ordinance that only the consecrated hands of a priest touch the Body of Christ in Holy Communion. "To priests alone has been given power to consecrate and administer to the faithful, the Holy Eucharist." (Council of Trent) This teaching is beautifully expressed by St. Thomas Aquinas in his Summa Theologica: "Because out of reverence towards this sacrament, nothing touches it, but what is consecrated; hence the corporal and the chalice are consecrated, and likewise the priest's hands, for touching this sacrament."



The rest of the article is HERE

The First Permanent Deacons in the Diocese of Greensburg, Pa.

The Most Reverend Lawrence E. Brandt, Bishop for the Diocese of Greensburg Pennsylvania, ordained the diocese's first two permanent deacons on Monday August 14th at Blessed Sacrament Cathedral in Greensburg, Pennsylvania. Our congratulations and prayers go F. Daniel Frescura, a parishioner of St. John Baptist de La Salle Parish, Delmont, and William J. Hisker, a parishioner of Our Lady of Grace Parish, Greensburg, in becoming the first men to be ordained to the permanent diaconate for the diocese.

God bless these two fine men who answered the Lord's call to serve Holy Mother Church.



Sunday, August 16, 2009

Some images of Ireland

Flowers on the Ledge
Westport Ireland

Dan O'Hara's Red Door
Connemara Ireland


Westport Canal
Westport Ireland

Fruit and Veg Market
Clifden Ireland
* all images ©bjm

Give Thanks to God, Who is Our Father

Today's Second Reading from Ephesians 5:15-20

Be very careful about the sort of lives you lead, like intelligent and not like senseless people. This may be a wicked age, but you redeem it. And do not be thoughtless but recognise what is the will of the Lord. Do not drug yourselves with wine, this is simply dissipation; be filled with the Spirit. Sing the words and tunes of the psalms and hymns when you are together, and go on singing and chanting to the Lord in your hearts, so that always and everywhere you are giving thanks to God who is our Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.



Saturday, August 15, 2009

Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary


SOLEMNITY OF THE ASSUMPTION
OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY

HOMILY OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI

St Thomas of Villanova Parish, Castel Gandolfo
Friday, 15 August 2008

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the oldest Marian Feast, returns every year in the heart of summer. It is an opportunity to rise with Mary to the heights of the spirit where one breathes the pure air of supernatural life and contemplates the most authentic beauty, the beauty of holiness. The atmosphere of today's celebration is steeped in paschal joy. "Today", the antiphon of the Magnificat says, "the Virgin Mary was taken up to Heaven. Rejoice, for she reigns with Christ for ever. Alleluia". This proclamation speaks to us of an event that is utterly unique and extraordinary, yet destined to fill the heart of every human being with hope and happiness. Mary is indeed the first fruit of the new humanity, the creature in whom the mystery of Christ - his Incarnation, death, Resurrection and Ascension into Heaven - has already fully taken effect, redeeming her from death and conveying her, body and soul, to the Kingdom of immortal life. For this reason, as the Second Vatican Council recalls, the Virgin Mary is a sign of certain hope and comfort to us (cf. Lumen Gentium, n. 68). Today's feast impels us to lift our gaze to Heaven; not to a heaven consisting of abstract ideas or even an imaginary heaven created by art, but the Heaven of true reality which is God himself. God is Heaven. He is our destination, the destination and the eternal dwelling place from which we come and for which we are striving.

St Germanus, Bishop of Constantinople in the eighth century, in a homily given on the Feast of the Assumption, addressing the heavenly Mother of God said: "You are the One who through your immaculate flesh reunited the Christian people with Christ.... Just as all who thirst hasten to the fountain, so every soul hastens to you, the Fountain of love, and as every man aspires to live, to see the light that never fades, so every Christian longs to enter the light of the Most Blessed Trinity where you already are". It is these same sentiments that inspire us today as we contemplate Mary in God's glory. In fact, when she fell asleep in this world to reawaken in Heaven, she simply followed her Son Jesus for the last time, on his longest and most crucial journey, his passage "from this world to the Father" (cf. Jn 13: 1).

Like him, together with him, she departed this world to return "to the Father's House" (cf. Jn 14: 2). And all this is not remote from us as it might seem at first sight, because we are all children of the Father, God; we are all brothers and sisters of Jesus and we are all also children of Mary, our Mother. And we all aspire to happiness. And the happiness to which we all aspire is God, so we are all journeying on toward this happiness we call Heaven which in reality is God. And Mary helps us, she encourages us to ensure that every moment of our life is a step forward on this exodus, on this journey toward God. May she help us in this way to make the reality of heaven, God's greatness, also present in the life of our world. Is this not basically the paschal dynamism of the human being, of every person who wants to become heavenly, perfectly happy, by virtue of Christ's Resurrection? And might this not be the beginning and anticipation of a movement that involves every human being and the entire cosmos? She, from whom God took his flesh and whose soul was pierced by a sword on Calvary, was associated first and uniquely in the mystery of this transformation for which we, also often pierced by the sword of suffering in this world, are all striving.

The new Eve followed the new Adam in suffering, in the Passion, and so too in definitive joy. Christ is the first fruits but his risen flesh is inseparable from that of his earthly Mother, Mary. In Mary all humanity is involved in the Assumption to God, and together with her all creation, whose groans and sufferings, St Paul tells us, are the birth-pangs of the new humanity. Thus are born the new Heaven and the new earth in which death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more (cf. Rv 21: 1-4).

What a great mystery of love is presented to us once again today for our contemplation! Christ triumphed over death with the omnipotence of his love. Love alone is omnipotent. This love impelled Christ to die for us and thus to overcome death. Yes, love alone gives access to the Kingdom of life! And Mary entered after her Son, associated with his Glory, after being associated with his Passion. She entered it with an uncontainable force, keeping the way behind her open to us all. And for this reason we invoke her today as "Gate of Heaven", "Queen of Angels" and "Refuge of sinners". It is certainly not reasoning that will make us understand this reality which is so sublime, but rather simple, forthright faith and the silence of prayer that puts us in touch with the Mystery that infinitely exceeds us. Prayer helps us speak with God and hear how the Lord speaks to our heart.

Let us ask Mary today to make us the gift of her faith, that faith which enables us already to live in the dimension between finite and infinite, that faith which also transforms the sentiment of time and the passing of our existence, that faith in which we are profoundly aware that our life is not retracted by the past but attracted towards the future, towards God, where Christ, and behind him Mary, has preceded us.

By looking at Mary's Assumption into Heaven we understand better that even though our daily life may be marked by trials and difficulties, it flows like a river to the divine ocean, to the fullness of joy and peace. We understand that our death is not the end but rather the entrance into life that knows no death. Our setting on the horizon of this world is our rising at the dawn of the new world, the dawn of the eternal day.

"Mary, while you accompany us in the toil of our daily living and dying, keep us constantly oriented to the true homeland of bliss. Help us to do as you did".

Dear brothers and sisters, dear friends who are taking part in this celebration this morning, let us pray this prayer to Mary together. In the face of the sad spectacle of all the false joy and at the same time of all the anguished suffering which is spreading through the world, we must learn from her to become ourselves signs of hope and comfort; we must proclaim with our own lives Christ's Resurrection.

"Help us, Mother, bright Gate of Heaven, Mother of Mercy, source through whom came Jesus Christ, our life and our joy. Amen".

Friday, August 14, 2009

Eunice Kennedy Shriver , Prayer Card


Nun on the Chase!



Sister Catarina, a member of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Holy Eucharist community in Independence, Mo., had no fear when she and another nun encountered a burglary suspect. Even though the man was armed, Sister Catarina gave chase. Go sister!

I grabbed this story out, written by Glen E. Rice, our of the KansasCity.com.

Sister Catarina da Silva glanced out the window as she and Sister Connie Boulch prepared to go to morning prayers just before 7 a.m. Thursday at the St. Francis of the Holy Eucharist convent in north Independence.

There, in the middle of a soybean field, was a man carrying a rifle, a handsaw and a pair of boxing gloves.

It didn’t look right.

“People just don’t drive up there unless they know where they are going or unless they are lost,” said Sister Connie, a 59-year-old Sugar Creek native who has been a nun for 33 years.

They jumped into Sister Connie’s white Honda Civic and drove down to the field, which is convent property, to see whether the man was lost or maybe hunting illegally.

“He thought he was in trouble with two nuns coming towards him,” said Sister Catarina, 49, a native of Brazil.

The man was out of breath. When Sister Connie asked him what he was doing in the area, he said he was cutting through the field from a friend’s house.

That didn’t sound right. There are few homes in the area, and the man could not come up with the name of his friend.

He dropped the rifle, handsaw and boxing gloves and ran.

Sister Catarina, who was wearing her brown, ankle-length habit and favorite pair of plastic flip-flops, ran after him. The pursuit stretched across the soybean field and covered about a quarter mile.

“For whatever reason, we were not afraid of him,” Sister Connie said.

Sister Catarina said she was up for the chase.

Sister Connie, who by then had pulled out her cell phone and dialed 911, said: “I thought she might catch him because she is a good runner and he was already tired.”

Police arrested the man in a wooded area just east of the convent in the 700 block of Dickinson Road.

“It was a great effort on everyone’s part, the community coming together,” said Officer Tom Gentry, a spokesman for the Independence police. “They did what they felt was a positive thing, but we certainly don’t want folks to confront criminals.”

Afterward, the nuns said they planned to pray for the burglary suspect, who had not been charged Thursday afternoon. He is thought to have broken into a nearby house.

“I will pray that his life changes so that he doesn’t come to the point when he needs to steal or he needs to break into people’s houses,” Sister Connie said.

Link

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Hope in the Lord

Hope in the Lord and do good,
so that you will dwell in the land,
and enjoy security. Ps 37:3.

There are a few books that I always surround myself with. Holy Scripture, In the Heart of the World by Blessed Teresa, Thomas Merton's Journals and more. One book that is special to me and has accompanied me on my journey is "The Imitation of Christ" by Thomas à Kempis. Thomas teaches us how to develop a life of prayer - he gives us a road map to a Life with Christ. Here is an excerpt from the book. Read it, meditate on the words, share your thoughts....

Zeal in Amending Our Lives, Book 1, CH25

Be watchful and diligent in God's service and often think of why you left the world and came here. Was it not that you might live for God and become a spiritual man? Strive earnestly for perfection, then, because in a short time you will receive the reward of your labor, and neither fear nor sorrow shall come upon you at the hour of death.

Labor a little now, and soon you shall find great rest, in truth, eternal joy; for if you continue faithful and diligent in doing, God will undoubtedly be faithful and generous in rewarding. Continue to have reasonable hope of gaining salvation, but do not act as though you were certain of it lest you grow indolent and proud.

One day when a certain man who wavered often and anxiously between hope and fear was struck with sadness, he knelt in humble prayer before the altar of a church. While meditating on these things, he said: "Oh if I but knew whether I should persevere to the end!" Instantly he heard within the divine answer: "If you knew this, what would you do? Do now what you would do then and you will be quite secure." Immediately consoled and comforted, he resigned himself to the divine will and the anxious uncertainty ceased. His curiosity no longer sought to know what the future held for him, and he tried instead to find the perfect, the acceptable will of God in the beginning and end of every good work.

"Trust thou in the Lord and do good," says the Prophet; "dwell in the land and thou shalt feed on its riches."8

There is one thing that keeps many from zealously improving their lives, that is, dread of the difficulty, the toil of battle. Certainly they who try bravely to overcome the most difficult and unpleasant obstacles far outstrip others in the pursuit of virtue. A man makes the most progress and merits the most grace precisely in those matters wherein he gains the greatest victories over self and most mortifies his will. True, each one has his own difficulties to meet and conquer, but a diligent and sincere man will make greater progress even though he have more passions than one who is more even-tempered but less concerned about virtue.

Two things particularly further improvement– to withdraw oneself forcibly from those vices to which nature is viciously inclined, and to work fervently for those graces which are most needed.

Study also to guard against and to overcome the faults which in others very frequently displease you. Make the best of every opportunity, so that if you see or hear good example you may be moved to imitate it. On the other hand, take care lest you be guilty of those things which you consider reprehensible, or if you have ever been guilty of them, try to correct yourself as soon as possible. As you see others, so they see you.

How pleasant and sweet to behold brethren fervent and devout, well mannered and disciplined! How sad and painful to see them wandering in dissolution, not practicing the things to which they are called! How hurtful it is to neglect the purpose of their vocation and to attend to what is not their business!

Remember the purpose you have undertaken, and keep in mind the image of the Crucified. Even though you may have walked for many years on the pathway to God, you may well be ashamed if, with the image of Christ before you, you do not try to make yourself still more like Him.

The religious who concerns himself intently and devoutly with our Lord's most holy life and passion will find there an abundance of all things useful and necessary for him. He need not seek for anything better than Jesus.

If the Crucified should come to our hearts, how quickly and abundantly we would learn!

A fervent religious accepts all the things that are commanded him and does them well, but a negligent and lukewarm religious has trial upon trial, and suffers anguish from every side because he has no consolation within and is forbidden to seek it from without. The religious who does not live up to his rule exposes himself to dreadful ruin, and he who wishes to be more free and untrammeled will always be in trouble, for something or other will always displease him.

How do so many other religious who are confined in cloistered discipline get along? They seldom go out, they live in contemplation, their food is poor, their clothing coarse, they work hard, they speak but little, keep long vigils, rise early, pray much, read frequently, and subject themselves to all sorts of discipline. Think of the Carthusians and the Cistercians, the monks and nuns of different orders, how every night they rise to sing praise to the Lord. It would be a shame if you should grow lazy in such holy service when so many religious have already begun to rejoice in God.

If there were nothing else to do but praise the Lord God with all your heart and voice, if you had never to eat, or drink, or sleep, but could praise God always and occupy yourself solely with spiritual pursuits, how much happier you would be than you are now, a slave to every necessity of the body! Would that there were no such needs, but only the spiritual refreshments of the soul which, sad to say, we taste too seldom!

When a man reaches a point where he seeks no solace from any creature, then he begins to relish God perfectly. Then also he will be content no matter what may happen to him. He will neither rejoice over great things nor grieve over small ones, but will place himself entirely and confidently in the hands of God, Who for him is all in all, to Whom nothing ever perishes or dies, for Whom all things live, and Whom they serve as He desires.

Always remember your end and do not forget that lost time never returns. Without care and diligence you will never acquire virtue. When you begin to grow lukewarm, you are falling into the beginning of evil; but if you give yourself to fervor, you will find peace and will experience less hardship because of God's grace and the love of virtue.

A fervent and diligent man is ready for all things. It is greater work to resist vices and passions than to sweat in physical toil. He who does not overcome small faults, shall fall little by little into greater ones.

If you have spent the day profitably, you will always be happy at eventide. Watch over yourself, arouse yourself, warn yourself, and regardless of what becomes of others, do not neglect yourself. The more violence you do to yourself, the more progress you will make.


* Above image "Hope" by Osvaldo Rainero

ABORTION PROVISIONS IN HOUSE’S HEALTH CARE BILL UNACCEPTABLE




Justin Francis Rigali (born April 19, 1935) is an American Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. He is the eighth and current Archbishop of Philadelphia, having previously served as Archbishop of St. Louis from 1994 to 2003. Rigali was elevated to the cardinalate in 2003. Chairman of the U.S. Catholic bishops' Committee on Pro-Life Activities

Here is some important information from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops:

WASHINGTON—Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia urged preservation of “longstanding federal policies that prevent government promotion of abortion and respect conscience rights,” and called current House health care legislation “seriously deficient” on the issue of mandated coverage and funding of abortion. He cited his concerns in an August 11 letter to the U.S. House of Representatives.

Cardinal Rigali, Chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Committee on Pro-Life Activities, reaffirmed the bishops’ position that genuine health care reform that respects life and dignity is urgently needed. He also welcomed provisions in America’s Affordable Health Choices Act (H.R. 3200) that do not preempt state laws regulating abortion or current federal conscience laws on abortion. But he criticized the bill for delegating to the Secretary of Health and Human Services “the power to make unlimited abortion a mandated benefit in the ‘public health insurance plan’ the government will manage nationwide.” He called this a “radical change” since federal law excludes most abortions from federal employees’ health benefits, and no federal health program mandates coverage of elective abortions.


Click HERE to read/print the Letter sent to the HOUSE by Cardinal Rigali.


Link for USCCB.


* Please read Jennifer Hartline's "Dear Mr. President" post in "My Chocolate Heart" HERE

Lady Bug....


A Lady Bug high up in the air, looking down into a category five hurricane, concerned that at any moment, she will fall into its eye. I don't think this Lady Bug is a happy camper.

Here is a poem by Marie Lawrence

A Ladybug of Culture

There was a little ladybug
who was quite a sophisticate;
many she would educate
on topics in the news,
when 'er she expressed her views.

She had a great knowledge of opera,
even knew all the classes of lepidoptera-
on figuring out chess moves she proved astute
and loved to play Debussy on the flute.

In her polka dotted suit
with decorative hat she looked quite cute,
as she debated most eloquently
on a point which she considered moot.

She could speak many different languages,
could do elegant flower arrangements,
bought China in a fancy boutique
selecting only those pieces that were most unique.

She could create wonderful culinary delights,
her rose garden was truly a magnificent sight;
she loved to write poetic verse,
and on the meaning of many she loved to converse.

On essays by Milton she would often expound,
knew all about gravity, light waves, and sound...
not only knowledgeable was she in physics
but even the spiritual realm of mystics!

This little bug who was so erudite
would sit in her garden with her bonnet,
and write a most charming sonnet-
that even Shakespeare
would have found to his delight.

She was versed in astronomy
and Ptolemy-
zoology, entymology,
even anthropology.

She would wax philosophically
on many subjects,
from the plays of Sophocles
to the formula of a triangle, isosceles.

The epitome of social grace,
she would use only doilies made out of lace;
adhering strictly to the rules of Emily Post
she was regarded as the perfect host.

She was a wordsmith the likes
you have never seen-
could define syllogism, colloquialism
and every "ism"
in between-
even ventriloquism.

There wasn't much that
she didn't know,
with dexterity she could even sew,
so many things this little lady could do...
even make a wonderful veggie gumbo with roux.

Indeed this little lady
was so refine,
that only on vegetables
would she dine.

I wish I knew where
'er she went;
I often wondered
from where she was sent.

This little bug so fair,
was last seen with gilded wing
just floating in air;
yes, truly sublime,
she was so... extraordinaire.

- Marie Lawrence
* Above image: Lady Bug on Glass ©bjm