Sunday, November 29, 2009

Advent Sunday




"Jesus is the Hope of the World"


Like foolish folk of old I would not be, Who had no room that night for Him and thee. See, Mother Mary, here within my heart I've made a little shrine for Him apart; Swept it of sin, and cleansed it with all care; Warmed it with love and scented it with prayer. So, Mother, when the Christmas anthems start, Please let me hold your baby--in my heart.




Advent Prayer - Sr. Maryanna, O.P.University of Dayton

Image "First Day of Advent" by ©bjm

Friday, November 27, 2009

The 'Manhattan Declaration'

I pray that all of you had a blessed Thanksgiving day, spending time with your family and friends - now rested and rejuvenated. It is time now to get back to work for the cause of life. Have you heard about the "Manhattan Project"? It is a manifesto endorsed by Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox leaders who are united in defending life and the family.


Among the religious leaders who presented the appeal to the public on Friday, November 20, at the National Press Club in Washington (in the photo), were the archbishop of Philadelphia, Cardinal Justin Rigali, the archbishop of Washington, Donald W. Wuerl, and the bishop of Denver, Charles J. Chaput.

From ManhattanDeclaration.org...

A Call of Christian Conscience

Christians, when they have lived up to the highest ideals of their faith, have defended the weak and vulnerable and worked tirelessly to protect and strengthen vital institutions of civil society, beginning with the family.

We are Orthodox, Catholic, and evangelical Christians who have united at this hour to reaffirm fundamental truths about justice and the common good, and to call upon our fellow citizens, believers and non-believers alike, to join us in defending them. These truths are:

the sanctity of human life
the dignity of marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife
the rights of conscience and religious liberty.

Inasmuch as these truths are foundational to human dignity and the well-being of society, they are inviolable and non-negotiable. Because they are increasingly under assault from powerful forces in our culture, we are compelled today to speak out forcefully in their defense, and to commit ourselves to honoring them fully no matter what pressures are brought upon us and our institutions to abandon or compromise them. We make this commitment not as partisans of any political group but as followers of Jesus Christ, the crucified and risen Lord, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

Read about the Manhattan Declaration
HERE

You can sign the Declaration
HERE

Good artice out of Chiesa.expressonline.it
HERE

Thursday, November 26, 2009

A Blessed Thanksgiving

Father in Heaven, Creator of all and source of all goodness and love, please look kindly upon us and receive our heartfelt gratitude in this time of giving thanks.

Thank you for all the graces and blessings you have bestowed upon us, spiritual and temporal, our faith and religious heritage, our food and shelter, our health, the love we have for one another, our family and friends.

Dear Father, in Your infinite generosity, please grant us continued graces and blessings throughout the coming year.

This we ask in the Name of Jesus, Your Son, Amen.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

"Everyone Against Abortion, Please Raise Your Hand!"

Thanksgiving is almost here. Many of us will be out shopping tomorrow, purchasing all the goods we need to prepare for the big feast. On Thursday we will gather round the table, surrounded by family and friends. Let us give thanks for all the Good Lord has blessed us with. And let us not forget the poor, and those who are alone. Let us not forget the suffering - especially our neighbors who have no voice. When you pray before your meal, pray for the unborn - and pray for God's strength to defend them.

"Everyone Against Abortion, Please Raise Your Hand!"

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Christ The King

Reading From a discourse of Origen on prayer
Thy kingdom come

The coming of the kingdom of God, says our Lord and Saviour, does not admit of observation, and there will be no-one to say “Look here! Look there!” For the kingdom of God is within us and in our hearts. And so it is beyond doubt that whoever prays for the coming of the kingdom of God within himself is praying rightly, praying for the kingdom to dawn in him, bear fruit and reach perfection. For God reigns in every saint, and every saint obeys God’s spiritual laws — God, who dwells in him just as he dwells in any well-ordered city. The Father is present in him and in his soul Christ reigns alongside the Father, as it is said: We will come to him and make our dwelling with him.

Therefore, as we continue to move forward without ceasing, the kingdom of God within us will reach its perfection in us at that moment when the saying in the Apostle is fulfilled, that Christ, His enemies all made subject to Him, shall deliver the kingdom to God the Father that God may be All in All.

For this reason let us pray without ceasing, our souls filled by a desire made divine by the Word Himself. Let us pray to our Father in heaven: hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come.

There is something important that we need to understand about the kingdom of God: just as righteousness has no partnership with lawlessness, just as light has nothing in common with darkness and Christ has no agreement with Belial, so the kingdom of God and a kingdom of sin cannot co-exist.

So if we want God to reign within us, on no account may sin rule in our mortal body but let us mortify our earthly bodies and let us be made fruitful by the Spirit. Then we will be a spiritual garden of Eden for God to walk in. God will rule in us with Christ who will be seated in us on the right hand of God — God, the spiritual power that we pray to receive — until he makes his enemies (who are within us) into his footstool and pours out on us all authority, all power, all strength.

This can happen to any one of us and death, the last enemy may be destroyed, so that in us Christ says Death, where is your sting? Death, where is your victory? So let our corruptibility be clothed today with holiness and incorruption. With Death dead, let our mortality be cloaked in the Father’s immortality. With God ruling in us, let us be immersed in the blessings of regeneration and resurrection.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Feast of the Presentation of Mary





"Hail, holy throne of God, divine sanctuary, house of glory, jewel most fair, chosen treasure house, and mercy seat for the whole world, heaven showing forth the glory of God. Purest Virgin, worthy of all praise, sanctuary dedicated to God and raised above all human condition, virgin soil, unplowed field, flourishing vine, fountain pouring out waters, virgin bearing a child, mother without knowing man, hidden treasure of innocence, ornament of sanctity, by your most acceptable prayers, strong with the authority of motherhood, to our Lord and God, Creator of all, your Son who was born of you without a father, steer the ship of the Church and bring it to a quiet harbor"

(adapted from a homily by St. Germanus on the Presentation of the Mother of God).

Friday, November 20, 2009

God Save The American States

Let us not forget the sacrifice of our founders.
Know that a tyrant is unfit to be a ruler of free people.
God save our American States

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Reading Souls


An e-letter from the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal

Reading Souls

Throughout history there have been prophets who were given the grace to read souls. The Old Testament is full of examples, one of which is the scene when the prophet Nathan confronted King David for his adultery with Bathsheba and subsequent killing of her husband. This grace to read souls is always ordered to inviting the sinner to repent of sin. David wrote Psalm 51 in repentance for his sin.

Saints John Vianney and Padre Pio are modern day examples of this grace. They could tell you your sins when you knelt in their confessional! The effect was beautiful: people who were hard of heart and unrepentant, ended up converting and repenting. Yet, the absolution which these two saints offered is no different than the absolution one can receive from any Catholic Priest. You had to wait in line for days to make a confession to those two saints. Many priests sit alone for half an hour on Saturdays in the confessional. If we only knew the graces which are available things would be different ... In all of her modern day apparitions, the Blessed Virgin Mary has been encouraging us to go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation at least once a month.

Pray for the grace of a well formed conscience and true contrition for your sins.

God bless,
Fr. Luke Mary Fletcher, CFR
St. Joseph Friary
New York, NY

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Johnny Mercer's Moon River


I know, this post is a bit out of the ordinary. This afternoon, while driving in my car, I was listening to The Sunday Show with Jonathan Schwartz on FM radio. Mr. Schwartz is always very interesting. He not only plays some great music i.e. Carly Simon to Sinatra, but he knows the history behind all the songs. Lately he has been playing a lot of Johnny Mercer music. Mr. Mercer was one of the best lyricists this country ever produced. I am sure you have heard and know many of his songs. This year of 2009 is the 100th year of Mr. Mercer's birth. One of his most popular songs is "Moon River." Music by Henry Mancini. Andy Williams had a BIG hit with this song back in 1961. My parents were big fans of Andy Williams - and I remember my dad playing "Moon River" over and over again. (When you only own a few records, you tend to play them - over and over...) I know you are all familiar with this song.

Have you ever really listened to the lyrics? They are simple - yet - very powerful. Listen to Andy Williams - and listen to the words. I printed them below.



Moon River, wider than a mile,
I'm crossing you in style some day.
Oh, dream maker, you heart breaker,
wherever you're going I'm going your way.
Two drifters off to see the world.
There's such a lot of world to see.
We're after the same rainbow's end--
waiting 'round the bend,
my huckleberry friend,
Moon River and me.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Father Benedict Groeschel's 50th Anniversary

My dear friend Diana, a Lay Associate of the Friars of the Renewal, brought this wonderful video to my attention today. It commemorates Father Benedict Groeschel's 50th anniversary as a holy priest. God bless this holy man and all the Franciscan Friars (and sisters!) of the Renewal. They are a gift from God, sorely needed in these trying times.

Enjoy the video!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veterans Day




My Dad and Friends

The 38th Street Boys

"God we thank you for commissioning men and women in the defense of freedom. We honor those who honor and protect us, in many cases laying down their lives that we might live free to pursue our own destiny. Every soldier takes their oath knowing they may be called upon to pay the ultimate sacrifice. Lord, we cannot repay this gift they give us. For those who have suffered as a result of their sacrifice, we ask for supernatural healing, favor, peace, and in some cases, forgetfulness. Lift from them the cares and burdens of violence. When they return home, give them opportunities to fulfill their own potentials and dreams. Open doors for them, even when some doors are closed. God, Bless our veterans. We pray this in Jesus."

Rep. Kennedy is in ‘flawed communion’ with the Church






Rep. Patrick Kennedy - "The fact that I disagree with the hierarchy on some issues does not make me any less of a Catholic.”

I grabbed this article out of Catholicnewsagency.com. Bishop Thomas Tobin, Bishop of Providence, Rhode Island, is a good and brave teacher of the faith. Here is his exchange with Representative Patrick Kennedy.

Providence, R.I., Nov 11, 2009 - Bishop of Providence Thomas J. Tobin has responded to Rep. Patrick Kennedy’s contention that his dissent from Catholic teaching on abortion does not make him “less of a Catholic.” Saying that such dissent renders the lawmaker's communion “flawed,” he urged Kennedy to become a “profile in courage” and to defend the unborn.

Rep. Kennedy (D-R.I.), the son of the late U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy, had accused the Catholic Church of fanning “the flames of dissent and discord” because of the Catholic bishops’ opposition to proposed health care reform that does not explicitly prohibit funding of abortion.

Bishop Tobin responded critically to the congressman and asked for an apology.

A meeting had been scheduled between the prelate and the politician, but a Tuesday statement from the Diocese of Providence said it had been postponed.

“Bishop Tobin remains hopeful the he can meet with Congressman Kennedy in a personal and pastoral setting in the very near future,” the diocese reported.

Responding to Rep. Kennedy in his Nov. 12 diocesan newspaper column, Bishop Tobin said he usually does not speak about someone’s faith in a public setting but it has become an issue in his exchange with Rep. Kennedy.

The bishop focused on Rep. Kennedy’s comment in an Oct. 29 letter in which the Congressman said:

“The fact that I disagree with the hierarchy on some issues does not make me any less of a Catholic.”

Bishop Tobin said the statement could not go unchallenged because it raises an important question about what it means to be a Catholic.


Read the rest of the article HERE

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Thoughts from Blessed Teresa


Take time to think
Take time to pray
Take time to laugh

It is the source of power
It is the greatest power on earth
It is the music of the soul

Take time to play
Take time to love and be loved
Take time to give

It is the secret of perpetual youth
It is God’s given privilege
It is too short a day to be selfish

Take time to read
Take time to be friendly
Take time to work

It is the fountain of wisdom
It is the road to happiness
It is the price of success

Take time to do charity
It is the key to heaven

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Stoning of Stephen


“Behold, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man
standing at the right hand of God.”
But they cried out in a loud voice, covered their ears,
and rushed upon him together.
They threw him out of the city, and began to stone him."

This drawing, The Stoning of Stephen by Edward Knippers, is intriguing. It is a good tool for meditation and some deep self questioning. Who am I, what do I believe? Think of Stephen - our first deacon and martyr. An amazing man, a brave man, certainly a deep thinking man. Most of all, a man of great faith. I too need to have that faith. I need to empty myself everyday of all iniquities. Let God fill up that space. For what shall I say when they come to me and ask "who is Jesus Christ" ?

Saturday, November 7, 2009

At Nancy Pelosi's Office


Nancy Pelosi's Office sit-in and demonstration -

God bless those Pro-Lifers !!!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Speaker Pelosi’s Government-Run Health Plan Will Require a Monthly Abortion Premium



Here is the latest from the Office of Republican John Boehner's office. What is happening to our country?


Speaker Pelosi’s Government-Run Health Plan Will Require a Monthly Abortion Premium

Health care reform should not be used as an opportunity to use federal funds to pay for elective abortions. Health reform should be an opportunity to protect human life - not end it.

Unfortunately, Speaker Pelosi’s 2,032-page government takeover of health care does just that. On line 17, p. 110, section 222 under “Abortions for which Public Funding is Allowed” the Health and Human Services Secretary is given the authority to determine when abortion is allowed under the government-run plan. The Speaker’s plan also requires that at least one insurance plan offered in the Exchange covers abortions.

What is even more alarming is that a monthly abortion premium will be charged of all enrollees in the government-run plan. It’s right there on line 16, page 96, section 213, under “Insurance Rating Rules.” The premium will be paid into a U.S. Treasury account - and these federal funds will be used to pay for the abortion services.

Section 213 describes the process in which the Health Benefits Commissioner is to assess the monthly premiums that will be used to pay for elective abortions under the government-run plan. The Commissioner must charge at a minimum $1 per enrollee per month.

A majority of Americans believe that health care plans should not be mandated to provide elective abortion coverage, and a majority of Americans do not believe government health care plans should include abortion coverage. Currently, federal appropriations bills include language known as the Hyde Amendment that prohibits the use of federal funds to pay for elective abortions under the Medicare and Medicaid programs, while another provision, known as the Smith Amendment, prohibits federal funding of abortion under the federal employees’ health benefits plan.

Speaker Pelosi’s 2,032-page health care monstrosity is an affront to the American people and drastically moves away from current policy. The American people deserve more from their government than being forced to pay for abortion.

House Republicans are offering a common-sense, responsible solution that would reduce health care costs and expand access while protecting the dignity of all human life.

The Republican plan, available at HealthCare.GOP.gov, would codify the Hyde Amendment and prohibit all authorized and appropriated federal funds from being used to pay for abortion. And under the Republican plan, any health plan that includes abortion coverage may not receive federal funds.”

Link

An American Tune

Here is one of my favorite artists, Paul Simon, performing "An American Tune." It is song of hope.



Many's the time I've been mistaken
And many times confused
Yes, and I've often felt forsaken
And certainly misused
Oh, but I'm all right, I'm all right
I'm just weary to my bones
Still, you don't expect to be
Bright and bon vivant
So far away from home, so far away from home

And I don't know a soul who's not been battered
I don't have a friend who feels at ease
I don't know a dream that's not been shattered
or driven to its knees
but it's all right, it's all right
for we lived so well so long
Still, when I think of the
road we're traveling on
I wonder what's gone wrong
I can't help it, I wonder what's gone wrong

And I dreamed I was dying
I dreamed that my soul rose unexpectedly
And looking back down at me
Smiled reassuringly
And I dreamed I was flying
And high up above my eyes could clearly see
The Statue of Liberty
Sailing away to sea
And I dreamed I was crying

We come on the ship they call the Mayflower
We come on the ship that sailed the moon
We come in the age's most uncertain hours
and sing an American tune
Oh, and it's alright, it's all right, it's all right
You can't be forever blessed
Still, tomorrow's going to be another working day
And I'm trying to get some rest
That's all I'm trying to get some rest

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Saint Martin de Porres







Saint Martín de Porres (December 9, 1579 – November 3, 1639) was a Dominican cooperator brother who was beatified in the year 1837 by Pope Gregory XVI and canonized in 1962 by Pope John XXIII.

He was noted for tireless work on behalf of the poor, establishing an orphanage and a children's hospital. He maintained an austere lifestyle, which included fasting and abstaining from meat. His devotion to prayer was notable even by the pious standards of the age. Among the many miracles attributed to him were those of levitation, bilocation, miraculous knowledge, instantaneous cures and an ability to communicate with animals.

Martin de Porres is an awesome saint. And he is very special to us who minister to the poor. At our small mission church in New Jersey, there was a doctor named Frank who attended Holy Mass every Sunday. I would always try to spend a few minutes speaking with him before Mass as he was very interesting, likable, and smart. He was also very devout. Dr. Frank had a special love and interest in Martin de Porres - so much so that he sought and received permission from a Bishop to visit and enter Martin's home in Peru. It is not easy to gain access to such a holy place.


In our small church, which is named after St. Augustine, there was an old statue of St. Martin on a side altar. The statue was very old. It not only needed painting, but pieces of clay were falling off. Dr. Frank was very disturbed about this. Nancy, a good friend of the Missionaries of Charity, a sculptor and painter (you can see Nancy's painting of Thérèse de Lisieux on my sidebar) volunteered to take the statue home and repair it. God was certainly working through Nancy's hands - as the statue looks better than new. We placed the statue back in its rightful place in the church. Here was the problem, a new Catholic movement was was asked to take care of our church by the local Bishop. The members of this new movement did not take a liking to the statue and relegated it to the rear of the church. We decided to take the statue out of the church and place it in the Missionary of Charity soup kitchen. How wonderfully appropriate. I am sure St. Martin would be very happy and also Dr. Frank. Dr. Frank went home to God last year. When I think of him, I always think of his dear St. Martin.

To you Saint Martin de Porres we prayerfully lift up our hearts filled with serene confidence and devotion. Mindful of your unbounded and helpful charity to all levels of society and also of your meekness and humility of heart, we offer our petitions to you. Pour out upon our families the precious gifts of your solicitous and generous intercession; show to the people of every race and every color the paths of unity and of justice; implore from our Father in heaven the coming of his kingdom, so that through mutual benevolence in God men may increase the fruits of grace and merit the rewards of eternal life. Amen.

Monday, November 2, 2009

All Souls' Day


On All Souls' Day, Roman Catholics commemorate and pray for the holy souls in Purgatory, undergoing purification of their sins before entering heaven.

The theological basis for this feast is the doctrine that the souls which, on departing from the body, are not perfectly cleansed from venial sins, or have not fully atoned for past transgressions, cannot not yet attain the Beatific Vision, and that the faithful on earth can help them by prayers, alms, deeds and especially by the sacrifice of the Mass.

O Almighty God, the God of the spirits of all flesh, who by a voice from heaven proclaimed, Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord: Multiply, we pray, to those who rest in Jesus the abundant blessings of your love, that the good work which you have begun in them may be made perfect unto the day of Jesus Christ. And of your mercy, O heavenly Father, grant that we, who now serve you on earth, may at last, together with them, be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light; for the sake of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen

* above painting - "All Souls' Day" by William Bouguereau

Sunday, November 1, 2009

All Saints Day


All Saints Day - A Sermon by St. Bernard, Abbot. - Let us make haste to our brethren who are awaiting us

Why should our praise and glorification, or even the celebration of this feast day mean anything to the saints? What do they care about earthly honours when their heavenly Father honours them by fulfilling the faithful promise of the Son? What does our commendation mean to them? The saints have no need of honour from us; neither does our devotion add the slightest thing to what is theirs. Clearly, if we venerate their memory, it serves us, not them. But I tell you, when I think of them, I feel myself inflamed by a tremendous yearning.

Calling the saints to mind inspires, or rather arouses in us, above all else, a longing to enjoy their company, so desirable in itself. We long to share in the citizenship of heaven, to dwell with the spirits of the blessed, to join the assembly of patriarchs, the ranks of the prophets, the council of apostles, the great host of martyrs, the noble company of confessors and the choir of virgins. In short, we long to be united in happiness with all the saints. But our dispositions change. The Church of all the first followers of Christ awaits us, but we do nothing about it. The saints want us to be with them, and we are indifferent. The souls of the just await us, and we ignore them.

Come, brothers, let us at length spur ourselves on. We must rise again with Christ, we must seek the world which is above and set our mind on the things of heaven. Let us long for those who are longing for us, hasten to those who are waiting for us, and ask those who look for our coming to intercede for us. We should not only want to be with the saints, we should also hope to possess their happiness. While we desire to be in their company, we must also earnestly seek to share in their glory. Do not imagine that there is anything harmful in such an ambition as this; there is no danger in setting our hearts on such glory.

When we commemorate the saints we are inflamed with another yearning: that Christ our life may also appear to us as he appeared to them and that we may one day share in his glory. Until then we see him, not as he is, but as he became for our sake. He is our head, crowned, not with glory, but with the thorns of our sins. As members of that head, crowned with thorns, we should be ashamed to live in luxury; his purple robes are a mockery rather than an honour. When Christ comes again, his death shall no longer be proclaimed, and we shall know that we also have died, and that our life is hidden with him. The glorious head of the Church will appear and his glorified members will shine in splendour with him, when he forms this lowly body anew into such glory as belongs to himself, its head.

Therefore, we should aim at attaining this glory with a wholehearted and prudent desire. That we may rightly hope and strive for such blessedness, we must above all seek the prayers of the saints. Thus, what is beyond our own powers to obtain will be granted through their intercession.