Wednesday, November 30, 2005

God's Priests Must Be Healthy

Denice at Pope Benedict XVI blog gives us a roundup of different arguments made by the clergy on the recent document issued by the Vatican barring homosexuals from the priesthood. Some argue for it and others against it.

I am interested only in the defense of truth and Father Joseph Fessio of Ave Maria University does this with fortitude in his television interview.

Watch it here or read the transcript here.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Immaculate Conception Novena Begins

The Novena to the Immaculate Conception begins today. You can say it at your desktop.

And for an added bonus... Pope Benedict declares a plenary indulgence for the feast day, December 8, 2005! A hat tip to De Civitate Dei

By a plenary indulgence is meant the remission of the entire temporal punishment due to sin so that no further expiation is required in Purgatory. As St. Thomas says (Suppl., xxv. a. 1 ad 2um), "He who gains indulgences is not thereby released outright from what he owes as penalty, but is provided with the means of paying it." (New Advent)

Ergo, the Pope is providing us a way to pay some of our debts to God! What a wonderful gift! But hey, we have to do our part too.

Here's how to obtain it:

The indulgence declared by Pope Benedict may be obtained by those who "participate in a sacred function in honor of the Virgin, or at least least offer open testimony of Marian devotion before an image of Mary Immaculate exposed for public veneration, adding the recitation of the Our Father and of the Creed, and some invocation to the Virgin." The announcement indicates that those who are ill or otherwise unable to fufill the normal conditions "may obtain a plenary indulgence in their own homes, or wherever they may be, if, with the soul completely removed from any form of sin, and with the intention of observing the aforesaid conditions as soon as possible, they unite themselves in spirit and in desire to the Supreme Pontiff's intentions in prayer to Mary Immaculate, and recite the Our Father and the Creed."

Saturday, November 26, 2005

The Meaning of Advent

The Holy Father celebrating First Vespers of the First Sunday of Advent on November 26, 2005, for the new Liturgical Year. (Image from Associated Press)

The Church has her own special liturgical year and calendar in which she presents again the history and unchanging mysteries of our salvation, from Creation to the Second Coming, together with the entire life of the Savior. The mysteries do not change, but we do. A little older and wiser, we have the opportunity to review and renew these mysteries. When the familiar feasts come around we grasp something more about them because we have lived another year and apply them more deeply to our lives. This is a year of formation, like a school in which we, like pupils, learn faith, hope and charity. We learn God's will and to do God's will. Each Sunday and feast will present a special lesson to us for our daily living.

Advent is an especially lovely season and we can make great use of it. With the beginning of the season of Advent, we begin a new liturgical year. The First Sunday of Advent is therefore the Church's "New Year's Day". In the Judeo-Christian tradition, Sunday begins at sundown of the day before when the faithful celebrate First Vespers. Advent begins the Christmas cycle.

Advent comes from the Latin word for an "arrival" or a "coming". Advent means that the Lord is coming. Jesus Christ, our brother in our humanity and our God in His divinity is about to arrive. But He is comes to us in different ways. First, Jesus came to us at a specific point in history at Bethlehem about 2000 years ago. But in the Church's great feast of Christmas He mystically comes again. Second, the Lord, Alpha and Omega, will come to judge the living and the dead in the Second Coming. Third, the Redeemer comes to us in grace. He speaks to us in our consciences, he comes to us in the Eucharist and in the Word of God proclaimed. He arrives in the person of the begger, the needy, the suffering, the oppressed. We must be ready to receive and welcome Him when He comes, however He comes.

Advent is a time of joy tinged with penance. Joy, because we can imagine nothing more sweet than the Christ Child and His Mother Mary's bliss at His coming to light. Penance because we must strive to be properly disposed to receive so great a gift of His presence. In the millennial tradition of the Church, we faithful have done penance before great feasts. Christmas and Easter each have their penitential seasons in anticipation, Advent and Lent. The liturgical color used in the Latin Church for the liturgy during both Advent and Lent is purple, a sign of penance. In some places people may see blue used, which is done without the Church's approval. The Latin Church also emphasizes the penitential dimension of the season by directing the use of sparse ornaments in church and by legislating that instrumental music should not be used, except to sustain congregational singing. This is a kind of liturgical fast, which makes the joy and celebration of Christmas all that much more powerful by the contrast of the lean and muted season of Advent. Advent is a time of great joy, because we look forward to the beautiful feast of the Nativity, but it is joy stitched through with somber and focused spiritual preparation by doing penance.

From Catholic Online

The Pope's Challenge to Catholic Universities

Yesterday, Pope Benedict visited the Sacred Heart Catholic University in Rome. He challenged the teachers and students to cast out their nets and become "fishers of men". He told them to be "people of conscience, well prepared people who place their professional expertise at the service of the Kingdom of God". Well said Holy Father.

Here is part of his address:

Moving on to the thousands of young people who pass through the university, the Pope asked: "How do they leave? What culture did they find, assimilate, develop? This is the great challenge: ... to give life to a true Catholic university, one that excels for the quality of its research and teaching and, at the same time, for its faithfulness to the Gospel and to the Church's Magisterium."

He stressed that "the Catholic university is a great workshop in which, in keeping with the various disciplines, new lines of research are constantly being developed in a stimulating encounter between faith and reason, one that aims to recover the synthesis" between these two elements.

Read more here.

Friday, November 25, 2005

A Legend Passes Away

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Santa Cecilia

St. Cecilia, virgin and martyr by Cosimo Musio

Facts about St. Cecilia
1. Her body was guarded by an angel of God.
2. She converted her husband, brother-in-law and her executioner.
3. She was beheaded but lived for three more days instructing in the faith .
4. As she lay dying, her fingers signified The Blessed Trinity (three Persons in one God).
5. She died in 230 and in 1599, her body was found incorrupt.

Read more of her life here.

The popular patron saint of musicians is one of the best loved and venerated martyrs of Rome, because of her own free will she gave up her life to defend the Christian faith.

Her statue found in Rome at the Catacombs of Saint Calixtus and known as The Crypt of St. Cecilia, was sculpted in 1599 by Stefano Maderno. It reminds us of her martyrdom and, by the position of her fingers, according to tradition, she expresses her devotion to the Unity and the Trinity of God.
(Taken from Le Catacombe di San Callisto)

How To Be Thankful

Count your blessings instead of your crosses;
Count your gains instead of your losses;
Count your joys instead of your woes;
Count your friends instead of your foes;
Count your smiles instead of your tears;
Count your courage instead of your fears;
Count your full years instead of your lean;
Count your kind deeds instead of your mean;
Count your health instead of your wealth;
Count on God instead of yourself.
(Thanks to Sr. Mary of the HF, OP)

Monday, November 21, 2005

Game of Tag

Dymphna's Well says I'm it. Okay, here goes.

1. Write three things for which we are grateful to God for in this past liturgical year.

My blog friends
My natural and Dominican families
My first profession

2. Write three ways in which we hope to improve our relationship with God in this coming liturgical year.

Strive for daily Eucharistic adoration
Read more books by Pope Benedict XVI
Guidance of a spiritual director

3. Pass this on to three other bloggers
(no pressure to participate)

Cheap Grace
Musum Pontificalis

The Pope Benedict XVI blog

By The Way...

Happy Pro Orantibus Day! The Holy Father is urging everyone to give our spiritual and material support to our cloistered nuns and monks.

Via Moniales OP.

Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

"Sacred Scripture contains no text concerning the event commemorated in today's liturgy. For something of a historical background one may consult the apocryphal works, particularly the Protoevangel of St. James (ch. 4:1ff). After an angel had revealed her pregnancy, Anna is said to have vowed her future child Mary to the Lord. Soon after birth the infant was brought to the sacred precincts at which only the best of Israel's daughters were admitted. At the age of three she was transferred to the temple proper (7:2). According to legend, here she was reared like a dove and received her nourishment from the hand of an angel (8:1).

"In the East, where the feast, celebrated since the eighth century, is kept as a public holiday, it bears the name, 'The Entrance of the Mother of God into the Temple'. It was introduced at Rome by a Cypriotic legate to the papal court of Avignon in 1371. In 1472, Sixtus IV extended its observance to the whole Church. Abolished by Pius V, it was reintroduced some years later (1585)."

(Image and text from Catholic Culture)

Angelus Message on Cristo Rey

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

Today, the last Sunday of the liturgical year, the solemnity of Christ, King of the Universe, is celebrated. From the announcement of his birth, the only-begotten Son of the Father, born of the Virgin Mary, is defined as "king," in the messianic sense, that is, heir to the throne of David, according to the promises of the prophets, over a kingdom that will have no end (cf. Luke 1:32-33).

Christ's royalty remained totally hidden until he was 30 years old, spent in an ordinary life in Nazareth. Later, during his public life, Jesus inaugurated the new kingdom, which "is not of this world" (John 18:36), and he realized it fully at the end with his death and resurrection. Upon appearing, risen, to the apostles, he said to them: "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me" (Matthew 28:18).

This power arises from love, which God has fully manifested in the sacrifice of his Son. The kingdom of Christ is a gift offered to people of all times so that whoever believes in the incarnate word "should not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16). For this reason, precisely in the last book of the Bible, Revelation, proclaims: "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end" (22:13). "Christ, Alpha and Omega," thus is entitled the paragraph with which the first part concludes of the Second Vatican Council's pastoral constitution "Gaudium et Spes," promulgated 40 years ago.

In this beautiful page, which takes up some of the words of the servant of God, Pope Paul VI, we read: "The Lord is the goal of human history, the focal point of the longings of history and of civilization, the center of the human race, the joy of every heart and the answer to all its yearnings." And he adds: "Enlivened and united in his Spirit, we journey toward the consummation of human history, one which fully accords with the counsel of God's love: 'To re-establish all things in Christ, both those in the heavens and those on the earth' (Ephesians 11:10)" (No. 45).

In the light of Christ's centrality, "Gaudium et Spes" interprets the condition of contemporary man, his vocation and dignity, as well as the realms of his life: family, culture, economy, politics and international community. This is the mission of the Church yesterday, today and always: to proclaim and witness to Christ, so that man, every man, may fully realize his vocation. May the Virgin Mary, associated by God in a singular way to the royalty of her Son, enable us to acknowledge him as lord of our lives to cooperate faithfully in the coming of his kingdom of love, justice and peace.


Church Bulletin Bloopers

  • Scouts are saving aluminum cans, bottles, and other items to be recycled. Proceeds will be used to cripple children.

  • The outreach committee has enlisted 25 visitors to make calls on people who are not afflicted with any church.

  • The Pastor would appreciate it if the ladies of the congregation would lend him their electric girdles for the pancake breakfast next Sunday morning.

  • Low Self-Esteem Support Group will meet Thursday at 7 to 8:30 p.m. Please use the back door.

  • For those of you who have children and don't know it, we have a nursery downstairs.

  • The pastor will preach his farewell message, after which the choir will sing, "Break Forth Into Joy."

  • The eighth-graders will be presenting Shakespeare's Hamlet in the church basement on Friday at 7 p.m. The congregation is invited to attend this tragedy.

  • 22 members were present at the church meeting held at the home of Mrs. Smith last evening. Mrs. Smith and Mrs. Abbot sang a duet, The Lord Knows Why.

  • Potluck supper: prayer and medication to follow.

  • Pastor is on vacation. Massages can be given to church secretary.
(Courtesy of the Dominican Nuns)

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Feast of Christ the King

The Sunday before Advent is the Feast of Christ the King. A fitting feast and celebration to remind us of the coming weeks that ought to prepare our souls for Christmas.

For the past few weeks the Sunday readings have held the theme of preparing for the coming of the King. We see that there are two groups of people - one group who dutifully prepares for their Master's coming and one who does nothing to prepare.

In Matthew 25: 1-13, we hear of the story of the virgins, those who prepared themselves by bringing extra oil for their lamps to meet the bridegroom and those who never thought of bringing any. Then, Matthew 25: 14-30 tells us of the parable of the talents, where two of the three servants had invested their talents and the third did nothing with his. Finally on the feast of Christ the King, we hear in Matthew 25: 31-46 of the King judging these two groups, separating them as sheep and goats, placing the sheep in His right Hand and the goats on His left, and saying to the sheep "Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.".

Saint Josemaria Escriva wrote about this glorious feast of Our Lord in his book "Christ is Passing".

He is our King. He desires ardently to rule our hearts, because we are children of God. But we should not try to imagine a human sort of rule — Christ does not dominate or seek to impose Himself, because He “has not come to be served but to serve.” His Kingdom is one of peace, of joy, of justice. Christ our King does not expect us to spend our time in abstract reasoning; he expects deeds, because “not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord!, shall enter the Kingdom of Heaven; but He who does the will of my Father in heaven shall enter the Kingdom of Heaven. (Matthew 7:21)” Christ is Passing By, 93

Where is the King? Could it be that Jesus wants to reign above all in men’s hearts, in your heart? That is why he has become a Child, for who can help loving a little baby? Where then is the King? Where is the Christ whom the Holy Spirit wants to fashion in our souls? He cannot be present in the pride that separates us from God, nor in the lack of charity which cuts us off from others. Christ cannot be there. In that loveless state man is left alone. Christ is Passing By, 31

Christ should reign first and foremost in our soul. But how would we reply if He asked us: “How do you go about letting Me reign in you?” I would reply that I need lots of His grace. Only that way can my every heartbeat and breath, my least intense look, my most ordinary word, my most basic feeling be transformed into a hosanna to Christ my King. Christ is Passing By, 181

If we let Christ reign in our soul, we will not become authoritarian. Rather we will serve everyone. How I like that word: service! To serve my King and, through Him, all those who have been redeemed by His Blood. I really wish we Christians knew how to serve, for only by serving can we know and love Christ and make him known and loved. Christ is Passing By, 182

That is the calling of Christians, that is our apostolic task, the desire which should consume our soul: to make this Kingdom of Christ a reality, to eliminate hatred and cruelty, to spread throughout the earth the strong and soothing balm of love. Let us ask our King today to make us collaborate, humbly and fervently, in the divine task of mending what is broken, of saving what is lost, of fixing what man has put out of order, of bringing to his destination whoever has gone off the right road, of reconstructing the harmony of all created things. Christ is Passing By, 183

We are celebrating today the feast of Christ the King. And I do not go outside my role as a priest when I say that if anyone saw Christ’s Kingdom in terms of a political program he would not have understood the supernatural purpose of the faith, and he would risk burdening consciences with weights which have nothing to do with Jesus, for His yoke is easy and His burden is light. Let us really love all men; let us love Christ above all; and then we cannot avoid loving the rightful freedom of others, living in harmony with them. Christ is Passing By, 184

(From Josemaria Escriva)

Friday, November 18, 2005

Pope John Paul II, The Miniseries

CBS will air a four-hour mini-series of the life of Pope John Paul II on December 4 and 7. Yesterday at the Vatican, Pope Benedict XVI watched a special screening with Italian subtitles, with about 6,000 people in attendance. At one point, the audience applauded when an actor who played Cardinal Ratzinger appeared on the screen. English actor Cary Elwes plays the young Karol Wojtyla and American actor Jon Voight plays the older Pope John Paul II. Voight, who was raised Catholic, was greeted personally by the Holy Father.

Here is the official report from the Vatican.

VATICAN CITY, NOV 18, 2005 (VIS) - Yesterday evening in the Vatican's Paul VI Hall, in the presence of the Holy Father, a screening was held of the film "Pope John Paul II." The film was produced by the Lux Vide company, and by RAI (Italian State Television) in collaboration with other European television networks and the American broadcaster, CBS.

After the screening, Benedict XVI expressed his thanks to Ettore Bernabei, president of Lux Vide, and to others who collaborated in making the film, which opens with the attempt on John Paul II's life in St. Peter's Square on May 13, 1981.

"Watching this film," said the Holy Father, "has renewed in me and, I think, in everyone who had the gift of knowing (John Paul II), a sense of profound gratitude to God for having given the Church and the world a Pope of such an exalted human and spiritual stature.

Benedict XVI went on: "Over and above any specific evaluation, I feel the film constitutes further proof ... of the love people hold for Pope John Paul, and of their great desire to remember him, to see him again, to feel him close. And beyond its superficial and emotive aspects, this phenomenon clearly has an intimate spiritual dimension, which we here in the Vatican see every day watching the multitudes of pilgrims who come to pray, or just to pay rapid homage, at his tomb in the Vatican Grottoes.

"That affective and spiritual bond with John Paul II, which became even closer during the period of his final illness and death, was not interrupted. It has never been broken, because it is a bond between souls, between the great soul of the Pope and the souls of innumerable believers; between his fatherly heart and the hearts of countless men and women of good will who recognized in him a friend, and a defender of man, of truth, of justice, of freedom and of peace. All over the world, many people admired in him above all the coherent and generous witness to God."

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Pray for the Pope's Good Health

Let us pray for the Holy Father's good health as he recovers from a sore throat. SPH has requested prayers for him.

Pope Benedict is under the weather. He delivered his speeches during his Wednesday Audience with a sore throat. The Pope is seen here tired.

The Pope's secretary, Msgr. Ganswein assists the Holy Father with a cough drop.

During his audience, the Pope publicly thanked the Movement For Life group for "the 30 years of your courageous activity dedicated to defending the right to life and the dignity of each human person, from conception to natural death."

St. Gertrude the Great

Saint Gertrude, Virgin, Mystic, and Benedictine Abbess, was called by Our Lord Himself, "My chosen Lily", and the Church has given her the title of "Great" although she is not counted among the Doctors of the Church, at least as of yet. She is the only woman Saint to have been accorded this honor. There are four St. Gertrudes, one of whom was the Abbott of the monastery when Gertrude entered there at five, so it is an added blessing that she is distinguished by the term Great, for our sakes, because there is one less opportunity for confusion. It ought to come as no surprise that she was born in that great age of Saints, the 13th century, among which are numbered St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Elizabeth of Hungary, and in the later years of which, both St. Francis of Assisi and St. Dominic, the latter two being born in the 12th century. Not only was this century the "Century of Saints", but the age of the most wondrous of Saints.

Read more here. And about her relationship with the Holy Souls.

(From Catholic Tradition)

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

St. Albertus Magnus

I almost forgot to post about my Dominican father, one of the few Saints who bears the title "the Great". He is one of three Dominican saints who bears the title "Doctor of the Church". He reminds me of Pope Benedict XVI perhaps because like Benedict, he was a German scholar and intellectual whose influence made way to another great saint, Thomas Aquinas. St. Albert was also bishop of Regensburg where the Pope taught theology.

Today the Church celebrates the optional memorial of St. Albert the Great, son of a German nobleman, who was studying at Padua when the Master General of the Dominicans, Jordan of Saxony, succeeded in attracting him to that Order. He was to become one of its greatest glories. After taking his degrees at the University of Paris he taught philosophy and theology at Paris and then in Cologne. St. Thomas Aquinas was among his pupils. His knowledge was encyclopedic.

In 1260 he was named Bishop of Ratisbon and devoted himself zealously to the duties of his office. But soon resigned in order to continue his teaching and research. St. Albert died in Cologne on November 15, 1280.

Why he was called "the Great"

St. Albert the Great Albert, the "light of Germany," called the Great because of his encyclopedic knowledge, was born in 1193 at Lauingen, Donau. He studied at Padua, where under the influence of the second Dominican general, he joined the newly-founded Order of Preachers (1223). Soon he was sent to Germany, taught in various cities, particularly Cologne; Thomas Aquinas was his student. In 1248 he received the honor of Master in Sacred Theology at Paris. Throngs attended his lectures.

In 1254 Albert was chosen provincial of his Order in Germany. For a time he lived at the court of Pope Alexander II, who in 1260 made him bishop of Regensburg; two years later, however, he returned to his community at Cologne. There he acted as counselor, peacemaker, and shepherd of souls with great success. He died at the age of eighty-seven. Pope Pius XI numbered him among the ranks of the saints on December 16, 1931, and declared him a doctor of the Church. Much of his life was given to writing.

His twenty-one folio volumes are devoted to commentaries on Aristotle (whose works were just then becoming known in the West) and the Bible. Legend credits him with drawing the ground plans for the cathedral at Cologne. Albert, the greatest German scholar of the Middle Ages, was outstanding in the fields of natural science, theology, and philosophy.

(Catholic Culture)

Papal Fashion

Yes, the Pope wears Prada!

The Pope wears a red silk "mozzetta" or waist-length robe, over a white cassock.

The red papal loafers by Prada.

The Holy Father's preference for cardigan over collared dress shirt and dark jacket...

...and cool shades.


This one was a gift from Pope Paul VI, worn during his first Mass as Pope Benedict XVI.

During the Pope's Inaugural Mass.

During his first trip to Bari.

Canonizing five new saints.

On the feast of Ss. Peter and Paul.

(Correction) During the Synod of Bishops.

During Memorial Mass for Cardinals and Bishops who died in 2005.

The traditional vestments of the Holy Father is the white or "ivory" cassock, a moire silk sash, as well as the pectoral cross, fisherman's ring, the white silk "zucchetto" or skullcap and on special occasions, the mitre.

The beauty of royal robes!

Monday, November 14, 2005

The Parable of the Talents

Yesterday's Scripture readings were quite powerful. The first reading was taken from Proverbs 31: 10 - 13, 19 - 20, 30 - 31, which told about how a wife is like a precious pearl. The Second reading was from 1 Thessalonians 5: 1 - 6 which reminds us to stay sober and alert for we know not when the Lord comes. The Gospel from Matthew 25: 14 - 30 was the Parable of the talents. Let us take a look at a discussion of these readings by Marcellino D'Ambrosio, Ph.D. from Crossroads Initiative.

I’ve seen it time and time again. Someone decides to seek a better paying job, or pursue an investment strategy, or launch a new business. Invariably some pious person in the parish objects that maybe this is too worldly, that it will be a distraction from Church and family priorities, that one should be satisfied with what one has.

You’d think from this that faith equals passivity. That the only perfect Christian is the cloistered contemplative. That mildness is the greatest of Christian virtues.There are a number of Scripture texts that shatter this picture. One is the image of the ideal wife in Proverbs 31. The Blessed Virgin Mary read this passage and, as the most perfect of Israelite wives, most probably modeled herself after the woman portrayed here. Does the Proverbs 31 woman sit around passively, praying a lot, and wearing beige? No. The first few verses of the chapter poetically tell how she is more valuable than pearls, a true prize. The rest of the passage tells us why she is such a catch — she knows how to roll up her sleeves and hustle. The passage tells of her side business ventures that increase the family’s wealth, which she shares with the poor. Of course if she hadn’t worked so shrewdly and diligently, there would not be anything to share with the poor.

Another Scripture that shatters the picture of Christianity as passivity is the famous parable of the talents (Mt 25:14-30). Note that it is money (yes money!) that the master entrusts to his various servants, different amounts according to varying abilities. Two servants realize that the master wants a return on his capital, so they invest it and each double it. The master does not expect to get the same sum back from these two because they started with different amounts. But they both received the exact same praise because they both gave him a hundred per cent return. The servant of least ability, on the other hand, buried the money for fear of losing it. Instead of praising him for being conservative, the master is outraged.

If you entrusted your retirement nest egg to a stockbroker, and years later it had not grown at all, would you be happy? The master was angry because the servant had allowed fear to paralyze him. So afraid was he of losing money that he did not even take the very modest risk of depositing the money in the bank (there was no FDIC insurance in those days). The Lord has entrusted lots of things to us: money, natural talents, spiritual gifts, the saving truth of the Gospel. He expects us not just to conserve these things but to grow them. In the Last Supper discourse (Jn 15) He speaks of the disciples as bearing much fruit. In the parable of the sower and the seed He speaks of grain that bears 30-, 60-, and 100-fold. Whatever labor we are involved in — economic, family, apostolic — the goal should be to develop, increase, and grow what God has given us, for His honor and glory.This inevitably involves taking risks. It means not letting the fear of failure and ridicule stop us from pursuing success.

One of the greatest Catholic thinkers of the 20th century was a Swiss priest named Hans Urs von Balthasar. He once pointed out that one of the most frequently used words in the book of Acts was the Greek word parrhesia, meaning cheerful boldness in the face of danger or opposition. Without such boldness, Christianity would have stalled in Palestine. It never would have made it to Antioch, Greece, and Rome.Faithfulness to God means having the courage to take bold initiatives, in pastoral life, family life, and business, to be creative, even entrepreneurial, to express our gratitude to God for all that He has given us by making it grow.

(from Catholic Exchange)

On Vocation of The Laity

Here is the Holy Father's Angelus message on November 13, 2005 from Zenit.

"Apostolate Depends Upon the Laity's Living Union With Christ"

Proclaimed blessed this morning in St. Peter's Basilica were the Servants of God Charles de Foucauld, presbyter; Maria Pia Mastena, founder the Sisters of the Holy Face; and Maria Crocifissa Curcio, of the Carmelite Missionary Sisters of St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus.

They are added to the great number of blessed who, during John Paul II's pontificate, were proposed to the veneration of the ecclesial communities in which they lived, with the awareness of what the Second Vatican Council intensely stressed, namely, that those who are baptized are called to the perfection of Christian life: priests, religious and laity, each one according to his own charism and specific vocation.

In fact, the Council paid great attention to the role of the lay faithful, dedicating a whole chapter to them, the fourth, of the constitution "Lumen Gentium" on the Church to define their vocation and mission, rooted in baptism and confirmation, and oriented to "seek[ing] the kingdom of God by engaging in temporal affairs and by ordering them according to the plan of God" (No. 31).

On Nov. 18, 1965, the fathers approved a specific decree on the apostolate of the laity, "Apostolicam Actuositatem." Above all it stresses that "the success of the lay apostolate depends upon the laity's living union with Christ" (No. 4), that is, a solid spirituality, nourished by active participation in the liturgy and expressed in the style of the evangelical beatitudes. Of great importance for the laity, moreover, are professional competence, a sense of family, a civic sense and social values.

Although they are called individually to offer their personal testimony, especially precious wherever the freedom of the Church finds impediments, the Council stressed the importance of the organized apostolate, necessary to influence the general mentality, social conditions and institutions (cf. No. 18). In this connection, the fathers encouraged the various lay associations, insisting also on their formation in the apostolate.

Our beloved Pope John Paul II wished to dedicate the 1987 synodal assembly to the topic of the vocation and mission of the laity, after which the apostolic exhortation "Christifideles Laici" was published. In conclusion, I would like to recall that last Sunday in the Cathedral of Vicenza a mother of a family was beatified, Eurosia Fabris, known as "Mamma Rosa," model of Christian life in the lay state.

Let us commend all the people of God to all those who are already in the heavenly homeland, to all our saints and, first of all, to Mary Most Holy and her husband, Joseph, so that in every baptized person the awareness will grow of being called to work with commitment and fruitfulness in the vineyard of the Lord.

Friday, November 11, 2005

In Honor of St. Martin of Tours and All Veterans of War

This post is in honor of all war veterans and in honor of all Saints who fought the spiritual battle and won souls for Christ, in particular this day, St. Martin of Tours.

Here is a brief history of this great soldier of Christ who valiantly fought the enemy, defending the Church. St. Martin of Tours was a soldier of the Roman Empire who followed Christ to become Bishop and Confessor.

St. Martin was born (c. 316) at Sabaria, a town in Pannonia near the famous Benedictine monastery dedicated to his name. Against the wishes of his parents he associated with Christians and became a catechumen at the age of ten. At fifteen he entered the army and served under the Emperors Constantius and Julian. While in the service he met a poor, naked beggar at the gates of Amiens who asked alms in Christ's Name. Martin had nothing with him except his weapons and soldier's mantle; but he took his sword, cut the latter in two, and gave half to the poor man. During the following night Christ appeared to him clothed with half a mantle and said, "Martin, the catechumen, has clothed Me with this mantle!"

Martin possessed the gift of discerning spirits. Once the devil appeared to him radiant and clothed in royal apparel, and spoke as if he were Christ. Martin, recognizing the deceit, replied, "The Lord Jesus Christ never prophesied that He would come in purple robes and royal crown." The apparition immediately vanished. Three dead persons he raised to life. While celebrating holy Mass a luminous sphere appeared over his head. He was far advanced in age when he fell into a grievous fever during a visitation at Candes, an outlying parish of his diocese. Unceasingly he begged God to release him from this mortal prison. His disciples, however, implored him with tears, "Father, why are you leaving us? To whom will you entrust the care of your disconsolate children?" Deeply moved, Martin turned to God: "Lord, if I am still necessary for Your people, I will not refuse the labor. Your will be done!"

When the bystanders saw that despite his great fever he remained lying on his back, they besought him to change position to alleviate somewhat the pain. But Martin answered, "Brothers, rather let me look toward heaven than to earth so that my soul in its journey home may take a direct flight to the Lord." Shortly before death he saw the evil spirit. "What do you want, horrible beast? You will find nothing in me that's yours!" With those words the aged saint breathed forth his soul on November 11, 397, at the age of eighty-one.

(From Catholic Culture)

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Saint Leo The Great

Saint Leo was probably born in Rome and was raised to the See of Peter in 440. He was a true pastor and father of souls. He labored strenuously to safeguard the integrity of the faith and vigorously defended the unity of the Church. He pushed back or at least softened the onrush of the barbarians. He has then deservedly won the title “the Great”. He died in 461.

God our Father,
You will never allow the power of hell
To prevail against Your Church,
Founded on the rock of the apostle Peter.
Let the prayers of Pope Leo the Great
Keep us faithful to Your Truth
And secure in your peace.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
One God, for ever and ever.

(From the Breviary)

Update: Here is how Pope Leo stopped evil from invading Rome!--- Attila the Hun was stopped by Leo (452). With God-given eloquence, the Pope persuaded him to turn back, and when the Hun was asked by his servants why, contrary to custom, he had so meekly yielded to the entreaties of a Roman bishop, he answered that he had been alarmed by a figure dressed like a priest that stood at Leo's side; this individual was holding a drawn sword and acted as if he would kill him if he advanced farther. As a result Attila retreated to Pannonia. Meanwhile, Leo returned to Rome, and was received with universal rejoicing. Some time later, the Vandal Genseric entered the city, and again Leo, by the power of his eloquence and the authority of his holy life, persuaded him to desist from atrocity and slaughter (455). -From Catholic Culture

Monday, November 07, 2005

Renewal of Baptismal Vows

Almighty and eternal God, I, in the presence of Your Immaculate Mother and the whole heavenly court, in my own name, renew the solemn vows of my baptism.

I hereby promise, relying on Your grace, to renounce the devil, to renounce his works, to renounce his pomps, and to consecrate my life to the perfect service of Your Divine Majesty.

I beg of You, O Almighty God, through the intercession of Mary Immaculate and the merits of Your Divine Son, help me to be faithful to my promises unto death. Amen

-Bishop Louis Morrow

Rites of Exorcism

In 1999, Cardinal Jorge Medina, who was then prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, presented the New Rite for Exorcisms of the Roman Ritual in the Vatican Press Hall.

"We know there are Catholics who have not received good formation and doubt the existence of the devil, but this is an article of faith and part of the doctrine of the Catholic Church. Whoever says the devil does not exist is no longer a believer." This was the clear and categorical answer of Cardinal Medina, in response to the question of a reporter about the doubts of many Christians on the existence of the devil.

He also added, "Speaking of Satan, Cardinal Medina emphasized that "the nefarious influence of the devil and his followers is exercised habitually through deceit, lying and confusion. Just as Jesus is the Truth, the devil is the liar par excellence. From the beginning, lying has always been his favorite strategy.

He deceives men by making them believe that happiness is to be found in wealth, power, and carnal concupiscence. He deceives men by persuading them they have no need of God and that they are self-sufficient, without the need of grace and of salvation. He also deceives them by minimizing -- worse yet, by making the sense of sin disappear, substituting God's law as the criterion of morality with the customs and conventions of the majority.

He persuades children that lying is a good way to solve many problems, and thus, little by little, an atmosphere of distrust and suspicion is created among men. Because of the lies and deceits of the Great Liar, uncertainties and doubts are awakened in a world in which there is no longer any security, or Truth and where, instead, relativism reigns as well as the conviction that liberty consists in doing whatever one wants. There is no understanding that true liberty is found in doing God's Will, the source of good and sole font of happiness."

"For these reasons, the whole of human history is characterized by a tremendous struggle against darkness. Man must struggle without letup to remain united to the good. He cannot achieve interior unity without great effort and the help of God's grace," the Cardinal explained. "The Church is certain of the final victory of Christ and that is why she is not dragged down by fear and pessimism, but at the same time, she is very aware of the evil one who tries to discourage man and who sows confusion. It is within this framework that exorcisms must be understood, a very important chapter, but not the only one, in the struggle against the evil one."
Read the entire article here.

Possession and Exorcism

The celebration of the Liturgy of Exorcism is regulated solely by the bishop of a diocese, who may appoint a priest-exorcist, a man of piety, knowledge, prudence and holiness of life. The exorcist must demonstrate maximum circumspection and prudence, initially approaching the possessed person as he would anyone who suffers from physical or psychological illness. The exorcist decides whether a person is possessed after a diligent investigation, including extensive consultation, with spiritual, medical and psychological experts.

Signs of diabolic possession include the speaking of unknown languages, the knowing of distant or hidden things and the manifestation of abnormal physical strength. Yet each of these may be attributable to other causes and are not necessarily signs of diabolic possession.

Thus, spiritual signs, such as an aversion for the name of God, the Holy Name of Jesus, the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Saints, the Church, the Word of God, the Church's rites or sacramentals and sacred images must be taken into consideration along with the relationship of all these factors to the life of faith.

If it is determined that a person is not truly possessed the Church nonetheless provides appropriate spiritual help without a major exorcism All must be done to avoid the perception that an exorcism is magic or superstition. Exorcisms should never be broadcast in any media and should be treated with proper discretion.

Read more about the New Rite of Exorcism

St. Maura

November 7: Feast day of St. Maura

Maura was born in the ninth century at Troyes in Champagne. A very prayerful child, she was able through her example and ferverent prayers to convert her entire family to Christ.

Throughout her life, this virgin remained devoted to prayer and was most obedient and charitible to all. After her father's death she cared for her mother as well as serving the poor and the Church. It delighted her to make sacred vestments, trim the lamps, and prepare wax and other things for the altar. She spent long hours in church, adoring God, praying to her divine Redeemer and meditating on His life and passion.

She fasted twice weekly, on Wednesdays and Fridays, on bread and water only. She visited with her spiritual director frequently, walking barefoot over five miles to the monastery to see him.

So wonderful was her gift of tears, that she was seen often on her knees with tears streaming down her face out of love and joy. God performed many miracles in her favor, but out of humility she would avoid all recognition or praise from humans.

St. Maura died at age twenty-three. Her relics and name are honored in several churches in France and she is also mentioned in the Gallican Martyrology.

Sacred Scripture tells us to be obedient to those that the Lord has put in authority over us as they guard our souls. St. Maura was a perfect example to us in her humility and docility as well as her obedience to her spiritual director. She did nothing without his approval or advice.


Dear Lord, give us obedient and compassionate hearts like the heart of St. Maura, that we may be docile to the Holy Spirit and reap the spiritual rewards that You desire us to have. Help us to remember that all authority on earth is given by You, and therefore, we only need to trust, knowing that You will never abandon us. Amen.

Taken from Gail Buckley at Catholic Exchange.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Short Reflection on Marriage

The two Sacraments which pose the most challenges are the Sacrament of Marriage and the Sacrament of Holy Orders. Why? It is because it involves the human heart.

Let us hone in on just the Sacrament of Marriage for now since it is the general intention of the Holy Father this month of November.

What is marriage other than a life of constant gift-giving between a man and a woman. If this was the case, then there needs to be a constant intermediary in this process of giving and receiving. What if this process goes stale or if the action of giving is not being reciprocated by the other? What if the man or the woman says “I do not like my marriage!” or “I am tired of being with this person?”. Where do they go? What do they do? Some resort to marriage counseling which can easily be an opportunity to open up old wounds or point the finger. Others find the easy way out by separation or divorce.

Well then, let us think for a minute what we do when we receive a gift. Not knowing what the gift is, when we open it, we either like the gift or we don’t. But if we don’t like it, do we throw the gift in the garbage? Or do we put it away until we find some use for it or give it to someone who can use it? I would like to think that we tend to do the latter.

It is the same with marriage. For it to be a Sacrament, God must be present as the ultimate source of life between the man and the woman. It is "to share in divine life". (CCC 375). Without God, the couple is likely to give way to human frailty and like a lose thread, their union will begin to unravel. The gift of giving oneself to another is a gift that only God can sustain by His grace. When the married couple opens up the gifts of marriage, there will be times when one of them or both will not like the gift that they see. With God who holds them together, the graces of the Sacrament of Marriage insures that one or both will surrender these gifts over to Jesus who can use it for His greater purpose.

Man and woman were made "for each other". In marriage God unites them in such a way that, by forming "one flesh," they can transmit human life: Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth". (CCC 372).

Listen to Bishop Sheen's Sacrament of Marriage.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Pray for Departed Souls

Let us remember the departed souls in purgatory this month of November. One suggestion is to pray the Eternal Rest prayer between decades, when praying your Rosary: "Eternal rest grant to them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen. "

Here is an excellent piece of apologetics on Purgatory by James Akin of Catholic Answers, taken from
Catholic Culture.

What the Church teaches is that there is a purification that occurs after death for all who die in God's friendship but who have not been sufficiently purified for the glory of heaven. This purification can involve some kind of pain or discomfort. And the faithful on earth can assist those being purified — for example, by their prayers and by the saying of Mass.

Most of the additional things one hears about purgatory are theological speculation or metaphor. For example, the idea that purgatory occurs in a special "place" in the afterlife is a matter of speculation. We don't know that. And, for that matter, we don't know how the concepts of "place" or "space" work in the afterlife.

Similarly, discussion of individuals spending time in purgatory also must be understood with nuance. Just as we don't know how space works in the intermediate state between death and resurrection, neither do we know how time works. The common teaching among medieval theologians such as St. Thomas Aquinas is that the departed exist in a state of sharing some of the properties of time and some of the properties of eternity but properly identical with neither. From our time-bound perspective in this world, purgatory might be instantaneous, having existential rather than temporal "duration."

The image of purgatory as a cleansing fire also is one that the Church will not say is literally true. The Catechism notes only that "The tradition of the Church, by reference to certain texts of Scripture, speaks of a cleansing fire" (CCC 1031, emphasis added) and stresses that the purification is "is entirely different from the punishment of the damned" (ibid.). This suggests considerable reserve with respect to the image of fire in purgatory.

Read the entire text

St. Martin de Porres

St. Martin de Porres was born at Lima, Peru, in 1579. His father was a Spanish gentleman and his mother a coloured freed-woman from Panama. At fifteen, he became a lay brother at the Dominican Friary at Lima and spent his whole life there-as a barber, farm laborer, almoner, and infirmarian among other things.

Martin had a great desire to go off to some foreign mission and thus earn the palm of martyrdom. However, since this was not possible, he made a martyr out of his body, devoting himself to ceaseless and severe penances. In turn, God endowed him with many graces and wondrous gifts, such as, aerial flights and bilocation.

St. Martin's love was all-embracing, shown equally to humans and to animals, including vermin, and he maintained a cats and dogs hospital at his sister's house. He also possessed spiritual wisdom, demonstrated in his solving his sister's marriage problems, raising a dowry for his niece inside of three day's time, and resolving theological problems for the learned of his Order and for bishops. A close friend of St. Rose of Lima, this saintly man died on November 3, 1639 and was canonized on May 6, 1962. His feast day is November 3. (From
Catholic Online)

Disputations has a good discussion on the saint's humility here.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Do Not Fear Death Says The Pope

The Holy Father in his Angelus message today, reminds us that death is part of our Christian faith. We must embrace the mystery of death with the hope of the Resurrection. Hat tip to The Pope Blog.

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Christians can cultivate a fearless acceptance of death, recognizing that it is a necessary juncture leading from one's journey on earth to one's final destination in heaven, said Pope Benedict XVI.

Observing the Nov. 1 feast of All Saints and anticipating the Nov. 2 feast of All Souls, Pope Benedict said these days of offering prayers for departed loved ones can help Christians "think of the mystery of death without fear.

""New life, received through baptism, is not subject to the corruption and power of death," he said Nov. 1 before praying his midday Angelus.

For Christians, "death is a gateway from the earthly pilgrimage to the home of heaven, where the Father welcomes all his children of every nation, race, people and tongue," he said.He called on Christians to include some time during the two feast days to "think about the mystery of death without fear and cultivate that constant awareness that prepares us to face (death) with serenity."

Read more here.

The Pope's Prayer Intentions For November 2005

General intention: "That married people may imitate the example of conjugal holiness shown by so many couples in the ordinary conditions of life."

Mission intention is: "That pastors of mission territories may recognize with constant care their duty to foster the permanent formation of their own priests."

Happy Feast of All Saints

Today the Church celebrates all the saints: canonized or beatified, and the multitude of those who are in heaven enjoying the beatific vision that are only known to God. During the early centuries the Saints venerated by the Church were all martyrs. Later on the Popes set November 1 as the day for commemorating all the Saints. We all have this "universal call to holiness." What must we to do in order to join the company of the saints in heaven? We "must follow in His footsteps and conform [ours]elves to His image seeking the will of the Father in all things. [We] must devote [our]selves with all [our] being to the glory of God and the service of [our] neighbor. In this way, the holiness of the People of God will grow into an abundant harvest of good, as is admirably shown by the life of so many saints in Church history" (Lumen Gentium, 40).
During the year the Church celebrates one by one the feasts of the saints. Today she joins them all in one festival. In addition to those whose names she knows, she recalls in a magnificent vision all the others "of all nations and tribes standing before the throne and in sight of the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands, proclaiming Him who redeemed them in His Blood."

The feast of All Saints should inspire us with tremendous hope. Among the saints of heaven are some whom we have known. All lived on earth lives like our own. They were baptized, marked with the sign of faith, they were faithful to Christ's teaching and they have gone before us to the heavenly home whence they call on us to follow them. The Gospel of the Beatitudes, read today, while it shows their happiness, shows, too, the road that they followed; there is no other that will lead us whither they have gone.

"The Commemoration of All Saints" was first celebrated in the East. The feast is found in the West on different dates in the eighth century. The Roman Martyrology mentions that this date is a claim of fame for Gregory IV (827-844) and that he extended this observance to the whole of Christendom; it seems certain, however, that Gregory III (731-741) preceded him in this. At Rome, on the other hand, on May 13, there was the annual commemoration of the consecration of the basilica of St. Maria ad Martyres (or St. Mary and All Martyrs). This was the former Pantheon, the temple of Agrippa, dedicated to all the gods of paganism, to which Boniface IV had translated many relics from the catacombs. Gregory VII transferred the anniversary of this dedication to November 1.

Things to Do:

Visiting a cemetery and praying for the dead during the Octave of All Saints' Day (November 1 through November 8) will gain a plenary indulgence (with the usual requirements, see Praying for the Dead and Gaining Indulgences in November for more information) that can be applied only to the souls in purgatory. On other days, this work only gains a partial indulgence.

Spend a little time after Mass thanking God for all the unnamed saints, some of whom could be our own relatives;
Have a special meal and if you have young children have them dress up like saints and play games;

Pray the Litany of the Saints -- you could make it really special by chanting it ("he who sings prays twice") and you could read an explanation of this litany, which is considered the model of all other litanies.
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Apostolic Blessing by Pope Benedict XVI

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