Sunday, November 28, 2010

Stay Awake!

Stay Awake!

Be ready to meet the Lord

Not only at His birth, not only at the end of the world

Meet Him now in the poorest of the poor.

This is Jesus, in a most distressing disguise

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Saint Columbanus

Saint Columbanus

Saint Columbanus (540 – 23 November 615) was an Irish missionary notable for founding a number of monasteries on the European continent from around 590 in the Frankish and Lombard kingdoms, most notably Luxeuil (in present-day France) and Bobbio (Italy), and stands as an exemplar of Irish missionary activity in early medieval Europe.

Grant, O Lord, that the light of your love may never be dimmed within us.
Let it shine forth from our warmed hearts to comfort others
in times of peace and in seasons of adversity,
and in bright beams of your goodness and love
may we come at last to the vision of your glory;
through Christ our Lord. Amen

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Words from Francis Cardinal George

Here are some words by Cardinal Francis George regarding the deaths of Father Thaer Saad and Father Boutros Wassim, who were both slain as one celebrated Holy Mass and and the other hearing confessions in Our Lady of Deliverance Church in Baghdad.

“Our brothers in the priesthood, Father Thaer Saad and Father Boutros Wassim, were slain as one celebrated Mass and the other heard confessions,” Cardinal George said. “Father Thaer prayed and asked a terrorist to spare the lives of his parishioners before he died. Father Raphael [a third priest] moved parishioners to a safer location in the Church and was grievously wounded.”

In his final address as USCCB president;

We are not a national Church; we resist being transformed into a purely American denomination. I therefore cannot depart this position or leave you today without speaking of our Catholic brothers and sisters in Iraq. Ever since the capture of Baghdad, it has been clear to anyone of good will that, while Muslim groups might be in conflict with one another, it was uniquely the Christians who were without protection in the wake of the American invasion of Iraq. Now, at the end of last month, on the vigil of the feast of All Saints, in the Syriac Catholic Cathedral of our Lady of Deliverance in the city of Baghdad, many dozens of Catholics were killed as they gathered for Mass. Two were priests: one was killed at the altar and the other as he left the confessional. They are joined in death with hundreds of others who have died for their faith in Christ since the current conflict began. An American Dominican Sister, a friend of a friend, has written from that country: “Waves of grief have enveloped their world, surging along the fault lines created in Iraqi society by the displacement of thousands of Iraq’s Christian minority who have fled what is clearly a growing genocidal threat…One survivor was asked by a reporter, what do you say to the terrorists? Through his tears he said, ‘We forgive you.’…Among the victims of this senseless tragedy was a little boy named Adam. Three-year-old Adam witnessed the horror of dozens of deaths, including that of his own parents. He wandered among the corpses and the blood, following the terrorists around and admonishing them, ‘enough, enough, enough.’ According to witnesses, this continued for two hours until Adam was himself murdered.” As bishops, as Americans, we cannot turn from this scene or allow the world to overlook it.

Dear brothers, we have all experienced challenges and even tragedies that tempt us to say at times, “enough.” Yet all of our efforts, our work, our failures and our sense of responsibility pale before the martyrdom of our brothers and sisters in Iraq and the active persecution of Catholics in other parts of the Middle East, in India and Pakistan, in China and in Vietnam, in Sudan and African countries rent by civil conflict. With their faces always before us, we stand before the Lord, collectively responsible for all those whom Jesus Christ died to save; and that is more than enough to define us as bishops and to keep us together in mission.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Love Your Neighbor

The crowds outside Shishu Bhavan on Christmas Day, waiting to be fed

Thanksgiving is almost upon us. It is time again to think about what we are doing in our lives. Do we love God? Are we loving God by loving our neighbors?

Blessed Mother Teresa says...

"It is not enough for us to say, "I love God." But I also have to love my neighbour. St. John says that you are a liar if you say you love God and you don't love your neighbour. How can you love God whom you do not see, if you do not love your neighbour whom you see, whom you touch, with whom you live? And so it is very important for us to realise that love, to be true, has to hurt. I must be willing to give whatever it takes not to harm other people and, in fact, to do good to them. This requires that I be willing to give until it hurts. Otherwise, there is no true love in me and I bring injustice, not peace, to those around me.

It hurt Jesus to love us. We have been created in his image for greater things, to love and to be loved. We must "put on Christ," as Scripture tells us. And so we have been created to love as he loves us. Jesus makes himself the hungry one, the naked one, the homeless one, the unwanted one, and he says, "You did it to me." On the last day he will say to those on his right, "whatever you did to the least of these, you did to me," and he will also say to those on his left, "whatever you neglected to do for the least of these, you neglected to do it for me."

When he was dying on the Cross, Jesus said, "I thirst." Jesus is thirsting for our love, and this is the thirst for everyone, poor and rich alike. We all thirst for the love of others, that they go out of their way to avoid harming us and to do good to us. This is the meaning of true love, to give until it hurts."

Photo by Verity Worthington

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Pope Benedict XVI at Plaza del Obradoiro, Santiago de Compostela

On Saturday November 6th, Pope Benedict XVI celebrated Holy Mass at the Plaza del Obradoiro, Santiago de Compostela - Spain. His homily was full of the Gospel message. We all can gain so much by reading and meditating on the writings of this wonderful and loving Pope. He is truly our Holy Father. I posted below an excerpt from the homily, but you can read it all via the link below.

"Europe must open itself to God, must come to meet him without fear, and work with his grace for that human dignity which was discerned by her best traditions: not only the biblical, at the basis of this order, but also the classical, the medieval and the modern, the matrix from which the great philosophical, literary, cultural and social masterpieces of Europe were born.

This God and this man were concretely and historically manifested in Christ. It is this Christ whom we can find all along the way to Compostela for, at every juncture, there is a cross which welcomes and points the way. The cross, which is the supreme sign of love brought to its extreme and hence both gift and pardon, must be our guiding star in the night of time. The cross and love, the cross and light have been synonymous in our history because Christ allowed himself to hang there in order to give us the supreme witness of his love, to invite us to forgiveness and reconciliation, to teach us how to overcome evil with good. So do not fail to learn the lessons of that Christ whom we encounter at the crossroads of our journey and our whole life, in whom God comes forth to meet us as our friend, father and guide. Blessed Cross, shine always upon the lands of Europe!

Allow me here to point out the glory of man, and to indicate the threats to his dignity resulting from the privation of his essential values and richness, and the marginalization and death visited upon the weakest and the poorest. One cannot worship God without taking care of his sons and daughters; and man cannot be served without asking who his Father is and answering the question about him. The Europe of science and technology, the Europe of civilization and culture, must be at the same time a Europe open to transcendence and fraternity with other continents, and open to the living and true God, starting with the living and true man. This is what the Church wishes to contribute to Europe: to be watchful for God and for man, based on the understanding of both which is offered to us in Jesus Christ."


Friday, November 5, 2010

Fr. Solanus Casey

Recently we enjoyed the canonization of André Bessette of Montreal. St. André spent most of his religious life as a porter. There are a few other saints who also acted as porter - Saint Alphonsus Rodriguez, S.J., of the island of Majorca, Saint Nuno de Braganza of Portugal and for a time, Saint Padre Pio. Today we think of the Venerable Fr. Solanus Casey, who also lived life as a porter.

Brian Kelly writing in says..

In 1924, Father Solanus was reassigned to St. Bonaventure’s where twenty-eight years before he had received the brown habit of a Capuchin. His reputation for sanctity, the gift of healing, and the ability to read souls had preceded his arrival, so, once again, he was given the porter’s post, and the crowds would line up after Mass to open their hearts to him and receive his blessing and advice. The humble porter’s apostolate was a cherished blessing to the monastery but it was also a trial, a welcome one, but still a bit burdensome. You see, a good number of the visitors needed to have their confessions heard and the humble doorkeeper had no faculties to forgive sins. Father Casey would spend almost his whole day with his needy children and the confession bell was rung frequently.

In his early years in religious life the holy porter had to work hard to discipline a nature that tended to be overly sensitive and impatient. Capuchin biographer, Michael H. Crosby, in his study, Thank God Ahead of Time: The Life and Spirituality of Solanus Casey, wrote that the emotional Irishman would “battle with feelings that could easily get expressed in anger, intolerance, and excessive concern over little things.” In his younger years, even in religious life, the humble friar was rather impulsive, thinking later and acting first, and sometimes too critical of others; yet when it came to himself he could be a bit defensive, and he didn’t mind compliments. With the help of God’s grace he completely overcame these tendencies and nurtured within himself a very congenial, humble, and patient disposition. Keeping in mind his own past sins helped forge the holy porter’s own deep humility of soul and it gave him patience in dealing with the sins of the tens of thousands who sought his counsel over the fifty years of his priestly labors. Casey was literally re-made through his cooperation with grace for this special vocation which God had prepared for him. At peace with God and, therefore, himself, he exuded peace to all who came seeking the “good things.”

* What I think we can learn from the good life of Fr. Solanus, is that whatever place or state of life we live, we can do great things. And if our faith is strong, God can perform many miracles through us.

O God, I adore You. I give myself to You.
May I be the person You want me to be,
and may Your will be done in my life today.

I thank You for the gifts You gave to Father Solanus.
If it is Your Will, bless us with the beatification of
Venerable Solanus so that others may imitate
and carry on his love for all the poor and suffering of our world.

As he joyfully accepted Your divine plans,
I ask You, according to Your Will,
to hear my prayer for . . . (your intention)
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

“Blessed be God in all His designs.”

Imprimatur: Adam Cardinal Maida, Archbishop of Detroit
March 31, 2007 © F.S.G. 3/07

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A Bronxville Pieta

Last weekend I attended the wedding of a very close friend at the Church of St. Joseph in Bronxville, New York. In the foyer of the Church I noticed this striking work of art - the crucified Christ being held by his Mother. I was so moved by this work of art - I wanted to share it with you.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


Please, when you vote today, be sure he/she is a candidate that believes in the "right to life." From conception to natural death.

"The Gospel of life is at the heart of Jesus' message. Lovingly received day after day by the Church, it is to be preached with dauntless fidelity as "good news" to the people of every age and culture.

At the dawn of salvation, it is the Birth of a Child which is proclaimed as joyful news: "I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; for to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord" (Lk 2:10-11). The source of this "great joy" is the Birth of the Saviour; but Christmas also reveals the full meaning of every human birth, and the joy which accompanies the Birth of the Messiah is thus seen to be the foundation and fulfilment of joy at every child born into the world (cf. Jn 16:21).

When he presents the heart of his redemptive mission, Jesus says: "I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly" (Jn 10:10). In truth, he is referring to that "new" and "eternal" life which consists in communion with the Father, to which every person is freely called in the Son by the power of the Sanctifying Spirit. It is precisely in this "life" that all the aspects and stages of human life achieve their full significance.
" Evangelium vitae - John Paul II

Monday, November 1, 2010

Catholic Church attacked in Baghdad Iraq

Let us pray for all those effected by this terrible tragedy in Baghdad - especially for the two priests who are presumed dead, and all the faithful. Also for those heroes who are trying to relieve the pain of all who are suffering.

Out of CNN - Baghdad, Iraq

The death toll from a hostage standoff at a Catholic church in Baghdad has risen to 58, police officials with the Iraqi Interior Ministry said Monday.

Seventy-five others were wounded in the attack by armed gunmen Sunday, the officials said, adding that most of the casualties were women and children. Two priests were also among the dead as well as 17 security officers and five gunmen.

The hours-long standoff ended Sunday after Iraqi security forces stormed the Sayidat al-Nejat church. Eight suspects were arrested.

"All the marks point out that this incident carries the fingerprints of al Qaeda," Iraqi Defense Minister Abdul Qader Obeidi said on state television Sunday.

He said that most of the hostages were killed or wounded when the kidnappers set off explosives inside the church.

At least two of the attackers were wearing explosive vests, which they detonated just minutes before security forces raided the church, the police officials said.

The Islamic State of Iraq later claimed responsibility for the attack through a statement posted on a radical Islamic website. The umbrella group includes a number of Sunni extremist organizations and has ties to al Qaeda in Iraq.

"The Mujahedeens raided a filthy nest of the nests of polytheism, which has been long taken by the Christians of Iraq as a headquarter for a war against the religion of Islam and they were able by the grace of God and His glory to capture those were gathered in and to take full control of all its entrances," the group said on the website.

Pope Benedict XVI said Monday that he was praying "for the victims of this absurd violence -- all the more ferocious in that it hit defenseless people gathered in the house of the Lord, which is home to reconciliation and love."

Survivors of the ordeal said they were about to begin Sunday night services when the gunmen entered the church, according to Martin Chulov, a journalist for the U.K.-based Guardian newspaper who was on the scene. A priest ushered the congregants into a backroom, Chulov reported that survivors said.

At one point, one of the gunmen entered the room and threw an unidentified explosive device inside, causing casualties, Chulov said.

The U.S. military spokesman said that as many as 120 people were taken hostage.

The gunmen seized the hostages after attacking the Baghdad Stock Market in the central part of the Iraqi capital earlier Sunday, police said. Four armed men entered the nearby Sayidat al-Nejat church after clashing with Iraqi security forces trying to repel the stock market attack.

Iraq's Interior Ministry told CNN that gunmen attacked the stock market to distract Iraqi security forces who were outside the church to protect it.

The gunmen were demanding that the Iraqi government release a number of detainees and prisoners inside Iraqi prisons, saying the Christian hostages would be freed in return, according to the police officials. Iraq's defense minister later said on state television that the kidnappers had demanded the release of a number of prisoners in both Iraq and Egypt.

Iraqi security forces sealed off the area surrounding the church, the officials said, and buildings were evacuated of civilians as a precautionary measure. At least 13 hostages, including two children, managed to escape ahead of the rescue operation, police said.

The Iraqi authorities ordered the attackers to release the hostages and to turn themselves in, warning that they would storm the church if they do not comply. A few hours passed quietly as military units took up positions outside the church, including several American units, said Chulov.

"Then all hell broke loose," he said. A firefight erupted, and Chulov said he heard three to four large explosions. Later, he saw about 20 ambulances race away from the scene.

The American military spokesman minimized the role that U.S. troops played in the operation.

"The U.S. only provided UAV [unmanned aerial vehicle] support with video imagery. As always we have advisers with the ISF [Iraqi security forces] command teams," Bloom said.

While the U.S. combat mission in Iraq officially ended earlier this year, some 50,000 American troops are expected to remain in the country until the end of 2011 to train, assist and advise Iraqi troops.