February 14, 2016

Homily for the 1st Sunday in Lent, February 14, 2016, Year C

Fr. Charles Irvin
Senior Priest
Diocese of Lansing

Temptation of Christ
(Click here for today’s readings)

Oscar Wilde was a much-celebrated Anglo-Irish literary figure, very witty… and very worldly. He once wrote: “I can resist everything but temptation.” He lived in total self-indulgence, ridiculed Victorian moral norms, and died in Paris of meningitis in the year 1900. His view of life aptly ushered in the 20th century, particularly the cultural rebellions of the 1960’s and 1970’s.

There are many today who live as Oscar Wilde lived. They regard temptations as irrelevant, things representing what they regard as hypocritical middle class moral norms, norms that constrict us and deny us our freedom. We are to live, many claim, with only one self-indulgent moral norm: “If it feels good, do it. Anything is all right so long as it doesn’t hurt anybody.”

We could spend hours talking about questions dealing with the nature of evil. What is evil? What is the essence of evil? Why is there evil, anyway? My summary view is that evil is the corruption of what is good. A temptation always presents something to us as good – it comes to us wearing the disguise of good. Few people choose to do something simply because it is evil. To be sure, there are a few in our world who choose evil simply because it is evil. It’s their form of rebellion; it’s their declaration of independence from the rest of us. Most people, however, choose a course of action that appears to be good. And some people have no moral problem in using evil means to achieve a good end. For them, the end justifies the means.

Some think that God tempts us just to see which way we will choose. It’s God’s way of testing us, they think. As for myself, I can’t imagine an infinitely good and loving God doing that to us. I believe rather what St. James tells us in his epistle: No one experiencing temptation should say, “I am being tempted by God”; for God is not subject to temptation to evil, and he himself tempts no one. Rather, each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. (James 1:13-14)

We are now entering Lent. It seems to me that we should be thinking more about how to deal with temptations rather than where they come from. It helps us to recognize the nature of temptations because, as I said, they always present themselves to us as something good. We should not choose what only appears to be good or simply feels good. We should choose only that which is actually good. Choosing something that is bad is not the way to achieve what is good.

Let’s now look at the three temptations the devil put to Christ.

“Turn these stones into bread,” the devil suggested. The Evil One wasn’t talking about the starving people of our world. Rather he was tempting us all by suggesting that all of our appetites should be satisfied. Why settle for any hunger at all? Isn’t life all about making sure that we lack nothing, want for nothing? “If you have a need, an urge, a desire, or if you have any bodily hunger, satisfy it, he tells us. You have the power to do so. Find heaven on earth; lack for nothing. Forget about that hunger you feel in your soul. Ignore the fact of your spiritual hunger for meaning and purpose; ignore your hunger for God’s love. As a matter of fact, why even bother with God. Deal only with what is here and now.

The second temptation is to simply give up on the struggle to be good and surrender to the world as it is. In the gospel account you just heard, the devil boasted: “It is all mine, and I give it to anyone I choose.” The world, he arrogantly asserts, is his – it belongs to him. That, of course, is a great lie. This beautiful world is God’s… and He has given it to us.

Nevertheless, the devil’s temptation is to despair of goodness and to simply declare that people are people and they will never change. Meanness, hatefulness, and hard-heartedness are everywhere in this dog-eat-dog world, so why fight it? Just grab what you can, get what is yours, and let everyone else fend for himself or herself. The world will never change. And as for God? Well, why bother? He’s not here.

You can have whatever you want, the devil tells us, whenever you want, and as long as you want. Be a self-authenticating and self-affirming person; be a self-determining person and let the chips fall where they may. All of this religious talk is nothing more than fanaticism, a running of guilt trips on others. And when anything bad happens to you? Well, make someone pay for it! Get a lawyer and make the person or the institution nearest to the event pay for what has happened to you even if what happened to you was the result of your own carelessness. Take care of yourself and leave others to taking care of themselves.

The third temptation is to turn your religion into something that you do to make God act. Prayer? Well, prayer is so you can tell God what He needs to do for you. It’s informing God that He hasn’t made a perfect world and that He needs to fix it here and now. Go to church, the devil suggests, so you earn redemption points, and then when you die tell God He’s obliged to give you a death benefit; remind Him that He owes you a place in heaven. The third temptation is to make God act — not you. In other words, don’t put yourself to the test, instead put God to the test. Make God responsible for what happens to you. Force God’s hand. Then, of course, you won’t even have to bother with belief.

The temptations the devil put to Christ, and the temptations the devil puts to you and me, all deal with putting self first and ignoring what God wants us to do in order to be the persons He wants us to be.

Lent is a time to combat all of these ancient and yet very modern temptations. Lent is a time to fast from food so we can feed our spirits and join ourselves into the life of Christ. Lent is dying to our own selfish self-centeredness in order to bring life into our lives and into our souls, the life God intends us to live not only here in this world but on into the next. Lent is about sharing life, and the good things of life, with others. Fasting and self-restraint allow us to be share with others and be available to them, to put others first instead of ourselves first.

May your Lenten life and devotions strengthen you in God’s great and good Holy Spirit. May your humanity be more fully joined into Christ’s humanity, His Spirit-filled, risen humanity in which He lives victorious over all that would diminish, degrade and demean us – victorious over all that would tear us away from all that God dreams we can be.

Lent is a time when we voluntarily restrain our own desires so we can better be at God’s disposal. To do that we need to take more time to pray and make more time to be with Jesus in Holy Communion, to be nourished with the Bread of Life instead of food for our bellies.

February 12, 2016

Joint Declaration of Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill

Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill

The Joint Declaration of Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill was signed by both after their lengthy, congenial and historic conversation in Havana, Cuba this morning. The Declaration is wide-ranging and reads in part:

"The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God the Father and the fellowship of the holy Spirit be with all of you" (2 Cor 13:13).

1. By God the Father’s will, from which all gifts come, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the help of the Holy Spirit Consolator, we, Pope Francis and Kirill, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, have met today in Havana. We give thanks to God, glorified in the Trinity, for this meeting, the first in history.

It is with joy that we have met like brothers in the Christian faith who encounter one another "to speak face to face" (2 Jn 12), from heart to heart, to discuss the mutual relations between the  Churches, the crucial problems of our faithful, and the outlook for the progress of human civilization.

2. Our fraternal meeting has taken place in Cuba, at the crossroads of North and South, East and West. It is from this island, the symbol of the hopes of the “New World” and the dramatic events of the history of the twentieth century, that we address our words to all the peoples of Latin America and of the other continents.

It is a source of joy that the Christian faith is growing here in a dynamic way.  The powerful religious potential of Latin America, its centuries–old Christian tradition, grounded in the personal experience of millions of people, are the pledge of a great future for this region.

3. By meeting far from the longstanding disputes of the “Old World”, we experience with a particular sense of urgency the need for the shared labour of Catholics and Orthodox, who are called, with gentleness and respect, to give an explanation to the world of the hope in us (cf. 1 Pet 3:15).

4. We thank God for the gifts received from the coming into the world of His only Son. We share the same spiritual Tradition of the first millennium of Christianity. The witnesses of this Tradition are the Most Holy Mother of God, the Virgin Mary, and the saints we venerate. Among them are innumerable martyrs who have given witness to their faithfulness to Christ and have become the “seed of Christians”.

5. Notwithstanding this shared Tradition of the first ten centuries, for nearly one thousand years Catholics and Orthodox have been deprived of communion in the Eucharist. We have been divided by wounds caused by old and recent conflicts, by differences inherited from our ancestors, in the understanding and expression of our faith in God, one in three Persons – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We are pained by the loss of unity, the outcome of human weakness and of sin, which has occurred despite the priestly prayer of Christ the Saviour: “So that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you … so that they may be one, as we are one” (Jn 17:21).

6. Mindful of the permanence of many obstacles, it is our hope that our meeting may contribute to the re–establishment of this unity willed by God, for which Christ prayed. May our meeting inspire Christians throughout the world to pray to the Lord with renewed fervour for the full unity of all His disciples. In a world which yearns not only for our words but also for tangible gestures, may this meeting be a sign of hope for all people of goodwill!

7. In our determination to undertake all that is necessary to overcome the historical divergences we have inherited, we wish to combine our efforts to give witness to the Gospel of Christ and to the shared heritage of the Church of the first millennium, responding together to the challenges of the contemporary world. Orthodox and Catholics must learn to give unanimously witness in those spheres in which this is possible and necessary. Human civilization has entered into a period of epochal change. Our Christian conscience and our pastoral responsibility compel us not to remain passive in the face of challenges requiring a shared response.

8. Our gaze must firstly turn to those regions of the world where Christians are victims of persecution. In many countries of the Middle East and North Africa whole families, villages and cities of our brothers and sisters in Christ are being completely exterminated. Their churches are being barbarously ravaged and looted, their sacred objects profaned, their monuments destroyed. It is with pain that we call to mind the situation in Syria, Iraq and other countries of the Middle East, and the massive exodus of Christians from the land in which our faith was first disseminated and in which they have lived since the time of the Apostles, together with other religious communities. ...

Vatican Radio has the Declaration in full.

Pope Francis' Apostolic Exhortation on Family Life to be Issued in March

Pope Francis' coat of arms
CNA/EWTN News reports that Pope Francis' post-synodal apostolic exhortation on the family will be published at the end of March. Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia disclosed the news at a priests' conference in Portugal, according to Il Sismografo. Speaking of the document, Archbishop Paglia said:
I am convinced that the Apostolic Exhortation will be a hymn to love, to a love that will care for the well-being of children, that is open to wounded families who need strength, that wants to be close to the elder, a love that the whole of humanity needs. 
The pontiff's long awaited apostolic exhortation will focus largely on last years' synod whose theme was "the vocation and mission of the family in the church and the modern world."

Moreover, Edward Pentin at the National Catholic Register writes that:
Well informed sources have told the Register that the document, which observers believe will probably be released on March 19 — the feast of St. Joseph and the 3rd anniversary of the Pope's inauguration Mass — is in its third draft. They also say that the chief drafter is Archbishop Victor Manuel Fernández, rector of the the Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina in Buenos Aires and one of Pope Francis’ closest advisers.
George Weigel's commentary on the 2015 Synod is worth reading. In the meantime, as we await Francis' exhortation — let us pray that it will be a source of enlightenment and direction — not confusion and disunity.

Pope Francis, Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill Hold Historic Meeting

Pope Francis and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill held an historic meeting this morning in Havana, Cuba. The main topics discussed were the persecution of Christians and the worldwide assault on marriage and the family. It is unknown whether Patriarch Kirill raised the concerns of the Russian Orthodox leadership about the Byzantine-rite Ukrainian Catholic Church. The Crux news site has an excellent article on that complicated conflict, by Father Andriy Chirovsky, a Ukrainian Catholic priest in Canada. Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill signed a joint declaration following their conversation.

Previously, no Roman Pontiff had ever met with a Russian Orthodox Patriarch. St. John Paul II long tried to visit Moscow. On several occasions, the Vatican made efforts to arrange a summit meeting, however, negotiations always broke down. Russian Orthodox officials said that a meeting would not be appropriate until conflicts between the Vatican and the Moscow patriarchate were resolved. Efforts by Pope Benedict XVI to do the same also met with resistance.

NBC News Online offers this succinct and somewhat accurate summation of the theological issues separating the Catholic and Russian Orthodox Churches:
On many major theological issues Catholics and Russian Orthodox Christians remain closely aligned. But the issues that divide them run deep.
The central theological divide dates back to the eighth century and is based in differing philosophical interpretations of the Holy Trinity — the relationship between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in Christianity.
The Orthodox Church also does not believe in purgatory, which Catholics believe precedes heaven.
There's the key political distinction — the Orthodox Church totally rejects papal authority — and differences on social issues. [ ... ]
The question of clerical marriage is also treated differently by the Russian Church, in which parish-level priests are permitted to be ordained as married men.
Despite the things that separate us, there is a great deal we agree on. Both churches have found common cause in defending traditional religious values like natural marriage, the sanctity of life and the dignity of persons in the face of secular assaults and religious persecution.

Reminder: Three O’clock on Fridays is the Hour of Great Mercy

The Divine Mercy Image
The Divine Mercy Image
At three o'clock on Fridays we solemnly remember Christ's death on the cross. In that moment, the redeeming ministry of our Savior culminated in the sacrificial offering of the Lamb of God for our sins. Three o'clock on Friday is, therefore, an hour of abundant grace and mercy, especially for sinners. Christ told Saint Faustina that:
At three o'clock implore My mercy, especially for sinners; and, if only for a brief moment, immerse yourself in My Passion, particularly in My abandonment at the moment of agony. This is the hour of great mercy for the whole world. I will allow you to enter into My mortal sorrow. In this hour, I will refuse nothing to the soul that makes a request of Me in virtue of My Passion... (Diary 1320).
The Lord asked Sister Faustina to pray especially for sinners at three o'clock in the afternoon, the moment of His death on the cross. This is the hour of great mercy for the world, and can be a moment of reflection on His Passion and Death for us. If possible, it is a good time to visit the Blessed Sacrament and/or make the Stations of the Cross.
I remind you, My daughter, that, as often as you hear the clock strike the third hour, immerse yourself completely in My mercy, adoring and glorifying it; invoke its omnipotence for the whole world, and particularly for poor sinners; for at that moment mercy was opened wide for every soul. In this hour, you can obtain everything for yourself and for others for the asking; it was the hour of grace for the whole world - mercy triumphed over justice. My daughter, try your best to make the Stations of the Cross in this hour, provided that your duties permit it; and if you are not able to make the Stations of the Cross, then at least step into the chapel for a moment and adore, in the Blessed Sacrament, My Heart, which is full of mercy; and should you be unable to step into the chapel, immerse yourself in prayer there where you happen to be, if only for a very brief instant. I claim veneration of My mercy from every creature... (Diary 1572).
Three O'clock Prayer for Mercy

You expired, Jesus, but the source of life gushed forth for souls, and the ocean of mercy opened up for the whole world. O Fount of Life, unfathomable Divine Mercy, envelope the whole world and empty Yourself out upon us.

And then, recite three times,

O Blood and Water, which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus, as
a fount of mercy for us, I trust in You.

This Lent, as we prepare to meet the risen Christ at Easter, let us reflect in gratitude on the sacrifice our Lord made on our behalf.

February 11, 2016

Optional Memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes

Our Lady of Lourdes
Today, February 11, marks the first apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary in 1858 to fourteen-year-old Marie Bernade Soubirous. Between February 11 and July 16, 1858, the Blessed Virgin appeared eighteen times in the cave at Massabielle [located a mile from Lourdes]. On March 25 our Lady said to Bernadette: "I am the Immaculate Conception." Lourdes has since become a place of pilgrimage where many cures and conversions have taken place. The message of Lourdes is one of personal conversion, prayer, and charity.

On the hundredth anniversary of the Immaculate Conception dogma Pope Pius XII, decreed the first Marian year in Church history. Pius describes the miraculous events in Lourdes in his encyclical Fulgens Corona:
It seems that the Blessed Virgin Mary herself wished to confirm by some special sign the definition, which the Vicar of her Divine Son on earth had pronounced amidst the applause of the whole Church. For indeed four years had not yet elapsed when, in a French town at the foot of the Pyrenees, the Virgin Mother, youthful and benign in appearance, clothed in a shining white garment, covered with a white mantle and girded with a hanging blue cord, showed herself to a simple and innocent girl at the grotto of Massabielle. And to this same girl, earnestly inquiring the name of her with whose vision she was favored, with eyes raised to heaven and sweetly smiling, she replied: "I am the Immaculate Conception."
Our Lady of Lourdes

The many miracles which have been performed through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin at Lourdes prompted the Church to institute a special commemorative feast, the "Apparition of the Immaculate Virgin Mary." The Office gives the historical background. Four years after the promulgation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception (1854), the Blessed Virgin appeared a number of times to a very poor and holy girl named Bernadette. The actual spot was in a grotto on the bank of the Gave River near Lourdes.

The Immaculate Conception had a youthful appearance and was clothed in a pure white gown and mantle, with an azure blue girdle. A golden rose adorned each of her bare feet. On her first apparition, February 11, 1858, the Blessed Virgin bade the girl make the sign of the Cross piously and say the rosary with her. Bernadette saw her take the rosary that was hanging from her arms into her hands. This was repeated in subsequent apparitions.   

With childlike simplicity Bernadette once sprinkled holy water on the vision, fearing that it was a deception of the evil spirit; but the Blessed Virgin smiled pleasantly, and her face became even more lovely. The third time Mary appeared she invited the girl to come to the grotto daily for two weeks. Now she frequently spoke to Bernadette. On one occasion she ordered her to tell the ecclesiastical authorities to build a church on the spot and to organize processions. Bernadette also was told to drink and wash at the spring still hidden under the sand.

Finally on the feast of the Annunciation, the beautiful Lady announced her name, "I am the Immaculate Conception."

The report of cures occurring at the grotto spread quickly and the more it spread, the greater the number of Christians who visited the hallowed place. The publicity given these miraculous events on the one hand and the seeming sincerity and innocence of the girl on the other made it necessary for the bishop of Tarbes to institute a judicial inquiry. Four years later he declared the apparitions to be supernatural and permitted the public veneration of the Immaculate Conception in the grotto. Soon a chapel was erected, and since that time countless pilgrims come every year to Lourdes to fulfill promises or to beg graces.

Excerpted from The Church's Year of Grace, Pius Parsch.

Patron: Bodily ills.

Symbols: The Blessed Virgin ("The Immaculate Conception") who wears a white dress, blue belt, and a rose on each foot.

Collect Prayer

Grant us, O merciful God, protection in our weakness, that we, who keep the Memorial of the Immaculate Mother of God, may with the help of her intercession, rise up from our iniquities. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Prayer to Our Lady of Lourdes

Oh ever immaculate Virgin, Mother of Mercy, Health of the Sick, Refuge of Sinners, Comfortess of the Afflicted, you know my wants, my troubles, my sufferings. Look upon me with mercy. When you appeared in the grotto of Lourdes, you made it a privileged sanctuary where you dispense your favors, and where many sufferers have obtained the cure of their infirmities, both spiritual and corporal. I come, therefore, with unbounded confidence to implore your maternal intercession. My loving Mother, obtain my request. I will try to imitate your virtues so that I may one day share your company and bless you in eternity. Amen.

February 10, 2016

A Plenary Indulgence May be Obtained on Fridays During Lent

Dominican cross

A plenary indulgence may be obtained on each Friday of Lent by the faithful, who after worthily receiving Communion, piously recite the following prayer before an image of Christ crucified – provided the conditions for a plenary indulgence are met (see below after prayer). A plenary indulgence remits all temporal punishment due to personal sins.

Prayer Before a Crucifix/Prayer to Christ Crucified.

Behold, O kind and most sweet Jesus, I cast myself upon my knees in thy sight, and with the most fervent desire of my soul, pray and beseech thee that thou wouldst impress upon my heart lively sentiments of faith, hope, and charity, with true contrition for my sins and a firm purpose of amendment; while with deep affection and grief of soul I ponder within myself and mentally contemplate thy five wounds, having before my eyes the words which David the prophet put on thy lips concerning thee: “My hands and my feet they have pierced, they have numbered all my bones" (Ps 21, 17-18). Amen.

In Latin:

En ego, o bone et dulcissime Jesu, ante conspectum tuum genibus me provolvo, ac maximo animi ardore te oro atque obtestor, ut meum in cor vividos fidei, spei et caritatis sensus, atque veram peccatorum meorum paenitentiam, eaque emendandi firmissimam voluntatem velis imprimere; dum magno animi affectu et dolore tua quinque vulnera mecum ipse considero, ac mente contemplor, illud prae oculis habens, quod iam in ore ponebat tuo David Propheta de te, o bone Iesu: "Foderunt manus meas et pedes meos; dinumeraverunt omnia ossa mea." Amen. (Grant 8 § 1, 2º in the Manual of Indulgences.)

Requirements for Obtaining a Plenary Indulgence on Fridays during Lent:

◗ Recite the prayer to Christ crucified in front of a crucifix on a Friday  during Lent (after receiving Communion).
◗ Say one "Our Father" and the "Apostles Creed".
◗ Say one "Our Father" and one "Hail Mary" for the Holy Father’s  intentions (the intentions  designated by the Holy Father each month).
◗ Make a sacramental confession within 20 days.
◗ For a plenary indulgence, be free from all attachment to sin, even  venial sin (or the indulgence is partial, not plenary).

On any other day, a partial indulgence is granted if the faithful recite the prayer to Christ crucified before a crucifix after receiving Communion.

May this Lenten season strengthen you to follow God more completely. May your humanity be more fully united with Christ’s own humanity so that at the end of time you may claim the inheritance won for you through the Passion, Death and Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Homily for Ash Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Jesus said: "Take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see
 them; otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father." [Mt 6:1]

Fr. Charles Irvin
Senior Priest
Diocese of Lansing

(Click here for today’s readings)

Womb to tomb is the pattern of all human life. You, and I with you, are on individual and collective pilgrimages, processions, journeys. Here we are this Ash Wednesday walking in procession to God’s altar to receive ashes. In this same hour we will be in a procession to receive Holy Communion, our food, our living Bread, the Bread of Life to nourish us and strengthen us for our individual journeys though life.

Yesterday is gone; we can’t go back into it. Tomorrow lies ahead; we cannot stop it from coming. Today we’re on the move. But where are we going? Where are you going? What direction are you taking as you live out your days here on earth? Are you journeying toward God or apart from God?

You can’t escape it. You are on a spiritual journey. Even if you don’t realize it you are, in fact, on a spiritual journey.

You came into being because of our heavenly Father’s love. You are, in Christ our Blessed Savior, destined to return back home to our heavenly Father, your Father and my Father. The Wise Men who journeyed on a pilgrimage to the newborn baby in His Christmas crib gave us light and insight about that, their journey leading us to see reality in that light. All of human life has a destiny. Wise men and women of today realize that.

Now we begin our pilgrimage to Easter. That’s what Lent is all about. The wonderful thing about God’s mercy is that our past sins are, by God’s love, obliterated. They no longer exist. All we can do now is look forward to tomorrow. We still have time to love God, to do what He wants us to do. Ahead of us we have people to love, prayers we can yet pray, and tasks we can do to accomplish God’s purposes in giving us the lives He gave us when we were born. We are still on our journeys, our pilgrimages to make. What is past we must leave behind. What remains is for us to look ahead and see the opportunities God has set before us. Lent is forward looking not backward looking. Lent leads us to Easter and the new life given us by the Risen Christ.

Easter awaits us, Easter with its new life, fresh starts, new beginnings in God’s new creation, His re-creation of our lives in the resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ.

Remember, thou are dust and unto dust thou shalt return. Remember also that in Easter’s new birth a better life lies ahead of you. The phrase “womb to tomb” is incomplete. For the truth is that on the day we die we are born again into eternal life, hopefully eternal life in the heart of God where our existence first began.

February 9, 2016

Blessed Mother Teresa on Faith: "Words that do not give the light of Christ increase the darkness."

Mother Teresa
We need to find God and God cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature — trees, flowers, grass — grow in silence; see the stars, the moon, the sun, how they move in silence. Is not our mission to give God to the poor in the slums? Not a dead God, but a living, loving God. The more we receive in silent prayer, the more we can give in our active life. We need silence to be able to touch souls. The essential thing is not what we say, but what God says to us and through us. All our words will be useless unless they come from within — words that do not give the light of Christ increase the darkness.
— Blessed Mother Teresa

February 8, 2016

Padre Pio on Contemplating the Life, Passion, Death, Resurrection & Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ

Mary mourning Christ

"There is one thing I desire from you above everything else: that your normal meditation be, if possible, around the Life, Passion and Death, and also the Resurrection and Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ. You can then meditate on His birth, His flight into Egypt and His life there, His return and His hidden life in the workshop of Nazareth up to the age of thirty, His humility in His desire to be baptized by His precursor St. John. You can meditate on His public life, His most painful Passion and Death, the institution of the most Holy Sacrament, the very evening men were preparing the most atrocious sufferings. You can meditate again on Jesus praying in the Garden of Olives, sweating blood knowing what sufferings men were preparing for Him and the ingratitude of men who would not make use of His merits. You can meditate also on Jesus being dragged and led to the tribunal, flagellated and crowned with thorns, the course He climbed to Calvary laden with the cross, His crucifixion and finally His death on the cross with all the suffering of seeing His most sorrowful mother."

— St. Padre Pio's advice to a spiritual mentee.

Father Pavone: NARAL Can't Win Against Ultrasound, Science and Common Sense

From, the National Catholic Register, comes this article by Father Frank Pavone that is both commonsensical and compelling. He begins with a quote from Justice Kennedy, writing in part:
Respect for human life finds an ultimate expression in the bond of love the mother has for her child….While we find no reliable data to measure the phenomenon, it seems unexceptionable to conclude some women come to regret their choice to abort the infant life they once created and sustained. Severe depression and loss of esteem can follow.
— Justice Anthony Kennedy [Gonzales v. Carhart, April 18, 2007]
The abortion industry and its apologists have tried for decades to persuade us that the baby in the womb isn’t a baby.  NARAL, for instance, took exception on Twitter to a Doritos ad that aired during the Super Bowl that, in their words, tried to "humanize" the child in a mother’s womb. A Twitter storm of derision for NARAL followed.

Science, common sense, and the ultrasound images of unborn sons and daughters posted on refrigerators across the country have refuted such nonsense for years.

Now, as more and more women come forward to share their emotional, psychological, and physical pain from abortion, the truth-deniers in the abortion lobby have come up with a new tactic.  They are trying to tell us that women who suffer after an abortion don’t really exist.

At times, abortion promoters might grudgingly say that a few women here and there feel conflicted or even remorseful about their abortions. But they quickly try to convince us that those women’s feelings are not valid – that the real culprit making these women feel regret is not abortion itself, but the stigma attached to it.

After all, abortion supporters now assert, why would ending your own child’s life cause any consternation?  Surely, they claim, any stigma attached to a procedure that rips the arms, legs, and head off of a baby in the womb must be a societal construct.  It couldn’t be the result of any natural reaction to brutally ending the life of a baby.

The obvious truth, however, is that abortion is a momentous, life-changing event not only for the child whose life it ends, but also for the child’s mother.

[ ... ]

According to the abortion lobby, though, these women are only upset because of the stigma imposed on them by our culture.  Great efforts are now being made by abortion promoters to counter the natural grief associated with the loss of a child by publicizing women who say how glad they are that they terminated their unborn babies. ...

Father's Pavone's logic is indisputable. Read the rest there.

Visit the New Pro-Life Page

All articles covering abortion, natural marriage, end-of-life concerns and the dignity of persons appearing on this site are here on the new Pro-Life page for your consideration. We write about the Church's vision of man, made in the image and likeness of God, as a way of promoting the Gospel of Life. In a time of escalating hostility towards the Church and her teachings, [as Pope Paul VI  observed] "... it comes as no surprise to the Church that she, no less than her divine Founder, is destined to be a 'sign of contradiction.'" From the page:
As a gift from God, every human life is sacred from conception to natural death. To be pro-life is to honor the dignity of persons. It is to foster an appreciation of the inalienable rights of the unborn, the sick, the suffering, the terminally ill and the aged. Every person is a "someone" to be loved; not discarded or used. The articles below address the issue of life and affronts to human dignity.
I invite you to visit the Pro-life page and let others know about it. We will update it periodically upon the publication of new articles and the adding of older ones. As always, we value your readership and feedback.

February 7, 2016

[Video] Lenten Reflections by Cardinal Timothy Dolan & Archbishop José Gomez

The following videos with Cardinal Timothy Dolan & Archbishop José Gomez are brief but profound. Cardinal Dolan, while studying in Rome, used the dome of St. Peter's to guide him as he ventured about the Eternal City. On our earthly journey during Lent, we as Catholics should use Christ and the Church in a similar fashion. Archbishop Gomez, recalling his boyhood, reminds us that Lent is a time of renewal – centered around prayer, selflessness and sharing, family and faith.

10 Things To Remember For Lent

Christ in the tomb
Mosaic of Christ being placed in the tomb at the Church of the
 Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem, Israel.

Bishop David L. Ricken of Green Bay, Wisconsin, former chairman of the Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops offers "10 Things to Remember for Lent":
  1. Remember the formula. The Church does a good job capturing certain truths with easy-to-remember lists and formulas: 10 Commandments, 7 sacraments, 3 persons in the Trinity. For Lent, the Church gives us almost a slogan — Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving — as the three things we need to work on during the season.

  2. It’s a time of prayer. Lent is essentially an act of prayer spread out over 40 days. As we pray, we go on a journey, one that hopefully brings us closer to Christ and leaves us changed by the encounter with him.

  3. It’s a time to fast. With the fasts of Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, meatless Fridays, and our personal disciplines interspersed, Lent is the only time many Catholics these days actually fast. And maybe that’s why it gets all the attention. "What are you giving up for Lent? Hotdogs? Beer? Jelly beans?" It’s almost a game for some of us, but fasting is actually a form of penance, which helps us turn away from sin and toward Christ.

  4. It’s a time to work on discipline. The 40 days of Lent are also a good, set time to work on personal discipline in general. Instead of giving something up, it can be doing something positive. "I’m going to exercise more. I’m going to pray more. I’m going to be nicer to my family, friends and coworkers."

  5. It’s about dying to yourself. The more serious side of Lenten discipline is that it’s about more than self-control – it’s about finding aspects of yourself that are less than Christ-like and letting them die. The suffering and death of Christ are foremost on our minds during Lent, and we join in these mysteries by suffering, dying with Christ and being resurrected in a purified form.

  6. Don’t do too much. It’s tempting to make Lent some ambitious period of personal reinvention, but it’s best to keep it simple and focused. There’s a reason the Church works on these mysteries year after year. We spend our entire lives growing closer to God. Don’t try to cram it all in one Lent. That’s a recipe for failure.

  7. Lent reminds us of our weakness. Of course, even when we set simple goals for ourselves during Lent, we still have trouble keeping them. When we fast, we realize we’re all just one meal away from hunger. In both cases, Lent shows us our weakness. This can be painful, but recognizing how helpless we are makes us seek God’s help with renewed urgency and sincerity.

  8. Be patient with yourself. When we’re confronted with our own weakness during Lent, the temptation is to get angry and frustrated. "What a bad person I am!" But that’s the wrong lesson. God is calling us to be patient and to see ourselves as he does, with unconditional love.

  9. Reach out in charity. As we experience weakness and suffering during Lent, we should be renewed in our compassion for those who are hungry, suffering or otherwise in need. The third part of the Lenten formula is almsgiving. It’s about more than throwing a few extra dollars in the collection plate; it’s about reaching out to others and helping them without question as a way of sharing the experience of God’s unconditional love.

  10. Learn to love like Christ. Giving of ourselves in the midst of our suffering and self-denial brings us closer to loving like Christ, who suffered and poured himself out unconditionally on cross for all of us. Lent is a journey through the desert to the foot of the cross on Good Friday, as we seek him out, ask his help, join in his suffering, and learn to love like him.

Homily for the 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time, February 7, 2016, Year C

Christ preaching by the Lake of Gennesaret
Jesus Preaches in a boat [Jésus prèche dans une barque], James Tissot, c. 1890.

Fr. Charles Irvin
Senior Priest
Diocese of Lansing

(Click here for today’s readings)

Simon Peter was a fisherman. It was his livelihood. He wasn’t a sport fisherman, fishing simply because he liked to fish. His life and the lives of his family depended upon his skills and his talents in catching fish. Not only that but the livelihoods of the men who worked for him depended upon him, as well as the security and happiness of their family members. Peter knew what he was about because he had to. People depended on him.

We find him in today’s gospel account in a moment of failure. We shouldn’t think it was his only failure. He probably encountered many other such moments in the years he had been in the business of fishing. Was this failure the last straw? Was this the final failure for him? Was he about to abandon his fishing business and start out all over again in a new business? We don’t know. But many of us do know the feeling; many of us have had moments of such profound doubt that we’ve been ready to give up.

We’ve had times, haven’t we, when we’ve been beset by a certain nostalgia and sentimental memories of earlier days, days when we began our careers and marriages with high hopes, with dreams and expectations of our futures. Such moments can be pleasant reveries or they can be memories of times of terrible doubts. In them we can severely and harshly judge ourselves to be failures.

Have we made a difference in the lives of those around us? Can we yet make a difference in the lives of those around us? We had such high hopes, such promising futures, back in those days of beginnings when we began our careers, entered into our marriages, and started our families. They were such seemingly happy days, days of happy anticipation over all that we were going to accomplish, all that we were going to do. All of that was before life dealt us its cruel blows causing us to enter into moments of depression, feelings of loss, and days of living in failure.

In writing his letter to the Christians of Ephesians, St. Paul wrote: “For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens…” He was reminding those citizens of Ephesus that we are dealing with immense forces in our world, forces that seemingly seek to beset us and destroy us by destroying our spirits, corrupting our souls, and reducing us to regarding ourselves as little more than a bunch of failures.

In today’s first reading we find the prophet Isaiah in such a state of mind. His soul was heavy; he was in a state of near defeat. His nation was divided between north and south. The Assyrians had conquered the Northern Kingdom of Israel and then carried away those Israelites into captivity to Babylon. The Southern Kingdom of Judah was languishing in one civil war following after another. Religion had fallen into little more than observing a series of formalities. Real belief in God had all but vanished. King Uzziah, once wise and trusted, had fallen into disgrace and had recently died in dishonor.

On top of all that, Isaiah, whom history would later regard as one of the greatest of all Old Testament prophets, found himself held in contempt by those to whom God had as a prophet. No one was listening to him; some wanted to get rid of him by killing him. Isaiah was, to say the least, very conscious of his failures and limitations.

From time to time you and I are presented with the problem of failure. And failure raises questions, questions about ourselves and questions about God. If God is so good, we are asked, why is there such terrible suffering in our world? Why did God allow the Holocaust? Or ISIS to exist? Why does God allow babies to die? And then we are told: “I can’t imagine a God that would allow evil and pain to afflict innocent people.”

But why, we need to ask, should God be limited by our puny little human imaginations? Our evaluations? Our standards? The problem, you see, is with us – not with God. Is God limited by our limitations? Do we allow ourselves to only worship a God who is so small that he fits into our little intellectual categories?

Peter was offered a window of opportunity that came to him when he would have least expected it, after a night of failure. He took the chance, gave God what he did have, namely hope and trust, and suddenly defeat was transformed into victory. Peter, admitting he was a sinner, became the Rock upon which Jesus would build his Church. Jesus was saying to Peter: “Look, I know you are brusque, impulsive, strong-willed, and even a racist bigot. But you have given me your best. Now I’m going to give you my best.”

Isn’t it true that people who have been wounded become great healers? Recovering alcoholics become the best rescuers of active alcoholics. Slow learners become great teachers. Aren’t some of our greatest athletes people who have been told they have no talent? Remember that Ludwig van Beethoven wrote his greatest symphony when he was stone deaf.

Winners never quit and quitters never win. If we try to limit God by our own limitations we will only succeed in limiting ourselves. The great Jewish prophet Isaiah was, like Simon Peter, given a window of opportunity in the midst of failure. He took the opportunity and said: “Here I am Lord, send me.” Peter, having confessed that he was sinner, heard Jesus respond: “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be a fisher of men.” Peter responded to the challenge, the opportunity, and became the chief of the apostles.

How then, do we respond to failure? Do we see it as a challenge and then at a deeper level see that every challenge is but an opportunity? Do we respond as did Isaiah and Simon Peter? To do so we cannot limit God by our own limited little imaginations. We are not responsible for everything that happens in our lives. We are responsible only for our responses. No one else is, only we are — not God, not others, not life. Such, then, is the challenge of faith, for faith is not simply our adherence to a creed or to a set of doctrines. Faith is how we act in life, the arena in which God comes to us.

You may think that everything depends upon you, but you would be very wrong-headed in thinking that way. And you may think that you are a failure and will never make a difference in the world. You would be equally wrong-headed in thinking that way. The only way to face life is with the belief that “with God all things are possible,” and then live our lives while depending on Him.

February 6, 2016

Message of His Holiness Pope Francis for Lent 2016

Pope Francis' coat of arms
In this, the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, Pope Francis prepares the Church to experience the mercy and redemption won through our Lord's Passion, Death and Resurrection.
"I desire mercy, and not sacrifice" (Mt 9:13). The works of mercy on the road of the Jubilee
"God's mercy transforms human hearts; it enables us, through the experience of a faithful love, to become merciful in turn."  — Pope Francis

1. Mary, the image of a Church which evangelizes because she is evangelized

In the Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, I asked that "the season of Lent in this Jubilee Year be lived more intensely as a privileged moment to celebrate and experience God’s mercy" (Misericordiae Vultus, 17). By calling for an attentive listening to the word of God and encouraging the initiative "24 Hours for the Lord", I sought to stress the primacy of prayerful listening to God’s word, especially his prophetic word. The mercy of God is a proclamation made to the world, a proclamation which each Christian is called to experience at first hand. For this reason, during the season of Lent I will send out Missionaries of Mercy as a concrete sign to everyone of God’s closeness and forgiveness.

After receiving the Good News told to her by the Archangel Gabriel, Mary, in her Magnificat, prophetically sings of the mercy whereby God chose her. The Virgin of Nazareth, betrothed to Joseph, thus becomes the perfect icon of the Church which evangelizes, for she was, and continues to be, evangelized by the Holy Spirit, who made her virginal womb fruitful. In the prophetic tradition, mercy is strictly related – even on the etymological level – to the maternal womb (rahamim) and to a generous, faithful and compassionate goodness (hesed) shown within marriage and family relationships.

2. God’s covenant with humanity: a history of mercy

The mystery of divine mercy is revealed in the history of the covenant between God and his people Israel. God shows himself ever rich in mercy, ever ready to treat his people with deep tenderness and compassion, especially at those tragic moments when infidelity ruptures the bond of the covenant, which then needs to be ratified more firmly in justice and truth. Here is a true love story, in which God plays the role of the betrayed father and husband, while Israel plays the unfaithful child and bride. These domestic images – as in the case of Hosea (cf. Hos 1-2) – show to what extent God wishes to bind himself to his people.

This love story culminates in the incarnation of God’s Son. In Christ, the Father pours forth his boundless mercy even to making him "mercy incarnate" (Misericordiae Vultus, 8). As a man, Jesus of Nazareth is a true son of Israel; he embodies that perfect hearing required of every Jew by the Shema, which today too is the heart of God’s covenant with Israel: "Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might" (Dt 6:4-5). As the Son of God, he is the Bridegroom who does everything to win over the love of his bride, to whom he is bound by an unconditional love which becomes visible in the eternal wedding feast.

Read the rest of the Holy Father's Lenten message here.

February 5, 2016

25 Ways to Observe the Season of Lent

The Crucifixion

Lent is a time of enormous grace and spiritual renewal. It is a period of solemnity, reflection and repentance in the weeks leading up to the commemoration of Christ’s Passion and Death. Our prayerful sacrifice is a reminder of the self-sacrifice Jesus made to save us from our sins. During Lent, Catholics are called to pray, fast and give alms. Below are 25 ideas for observing this most holy season in the life of the Church.

1) Read Sacred Scripture

2) Read spiritual/religious literature for fifteen minutes

3) Spend ten minutes in silence

4) Pray the rosary

5) Pray the Way of the Cross

6) Say the Divine Mercy Chaplet every Friday during Lent at 3:00 PM [the hour of Divine Mercy]

7) Attend Mass daily or go once or twice during the week besides Sunday

8) Pray a novena celebrating a Lent related saint or event

9) Give up dessert

10). Go to Confession

11) Give up alcohol

12) Give up or cut down on coffee, tea. or soda

13) Give up bread

14) Wake up earlier

15) Go to bed earlier

16) Give up or spend less time online, especially social networking sites

17) Give up or cut down on television, texting, computer time

18) At the close of each day, do an examination of conscience

19) Cut down on the number of times a day you check email

20) Fast on Fridays [one meal or just bread and water]

21) In addition to sacrificing, add something to your Lenten routine.

22) Volunteer at a place that is committed to serving the poor, addicted, or abused.

23) Remain calm when driving

24) Simplify your life: get rid of unused clothes and give them to the needy; each week get rid of books and find a place to give them away

25) Begin and end your day in prayer

Lenten Resources:

The Church's official position concerning penance and abstinence from meat during Lent

Video: What are the Practices of Lent? Fr. Robert Barron – Word on Fire 

Lenten Reflection by Fr. James Kubicki

Memorial of Saint Agatha, Virgin and Martyr

St. Agatha
Saint Agatha was born in Sicily to a wealthy and influential family. When she was young, she dedicated her life to God; resisting any man who wanted to marry her. One such man, Quintian, was of a high rank and felt that he could force her to acquiesce. Knowing she was a Christian in a time of persecution, he had Agatha arrested and brought before a judge. Quintian expected her to give in to when faced with torture and possible death. Instead, Agatha affirmed her belief in God, declaring: "Jesus Christ, Lord of all, you see my heart, you know my desires. Possess all that I am. I am your sheep: make me worthy to overcome the devil."

Popular piety attests that Quintian imprisoned Agatha in a brothel in hopes she would change her mind. After a month of assault and humiliation, Quintian brought her back before him. Agatha refused to relent, proclaiming that her freedom came from Jesus. Quintian sent her to prison, a move intended to make her more afraid, but which probably was a great relief to her. Agatha continued to profess her faith in Jesus. In response, Quintian had her tortured; refusing her medical care. However, God tended to Agatha in the form of a vision of Saint Peter. Agatha was tortured again, after which she died praying: "Lord, my Creator, you have always protected me from the cradle; you have taken me from the love of the world and given me patience to suffer. Receive my soul."

The Life of St. Agatha

Agatha was a Sicilian virgin of noble extraction. Quintianus, governor of Sicily, became deeply enamored of her; but she rejected his advances. As a result she was charged with being a Christian and brought before his tribunal. To the question concerning her origin she replied: "I am noble-born, of a distinguished family, as all my relatives will attest." When asked why she lived the servile life of a Christian, she answered: "I am a handmaid of Christ, and that is why I bear the outward appearance of a slave; yet this is the highest nobility, to be a slave to Christ." The governor threatened her with the most dreadful tortures if she did not renounce Christ. Agatha countered: "If you threaten me with wild beasts, know that at the Name of Christ they grow tame; if you use fire, from heaven angels will drop healing dew on me."

After being tortured, "Agatha went to prison radiant with joy and with head held high as though invited to a festive banquet. And she commended her agony to the Lord in prayer." The next day, as she again stood before the judge, she declared: "If you do not cause my body to be torn to pieces by the hangmen, my soul cannot enter the Lord's paradise with the martyrs. She was then stretched on the rack, burned with red-hot irons, and despoiled of her breasts. During these tortures she prayed: "For love of chastity I am made to hang from a rack. Help me, O Lord my God, as they knife my breasts. Agatha rebuked the governor for his barbarity: "Godless, cruel, infamous tyrant, are you not ashamed to despoil a woman of that by which your own mother nursed you?"

Returning to prison, she prayed: "You have seen, O Lord, my struggle, how I fought in the place of combat; but because I would not obey the commands of rulers, my breasts were lacerated." In the night there appeared to her a venerable old man, the apostle Peter, with healing remedies. Agatha, ever delicately modest, hesitated to show him her wounds. "I am the apostle of Christ; distrust me not, my daughter." To which she replied: "I have never used earthly medicines on my body. I cling to the Lord Jesus Christ, who renews all things by His word." She was miraculously healed by St. Peter: "Father of my Lord Jesus Christ, I give you praise because by Your apostle You have restored my breasts." Throughout the night a light illumined the dungeon. When the guards fled in terror, her fellow prisoners urged her to escape but she refused: "Having received help from the Lord, I will persevere in confessing Him who healed me and comforted me."

Four days later she was again led before the judge. He, of course, was amazed over her cure. Nevertheless, he insisted that she worship the gods; which prompted another confession of faith in Christ. Then by order of the governor, Agatha was rolled over pieces of sharp glass and burning coals. At that moment the whole city was rocked by a violent earthquake. Two walls collapsed, burying two of the governor's friends in the debris. Fearing a popular uprising, he ordered Agatha, half dead, to be returned to prison. Here she offered her dying prayer: "Blessed Agatha stood in the midst of the prison and with outstretched arms prayed to the Lord: O Lord Jesus Christ, good Master, I give You thanks that You granted me victory over the executioners' tortures. Grant now that I may happily dwell in Your never-ending glory."

A year after her death the city of Catania was in great peril from an eruption on Mount Etna. Pagans, too, were numbered among those who fled in terror to the saint's grave. Her veil was taken and held against the onrushing flames, and suddenly the danger ceased. Her grave is venerated at Catania in Sicily.

Excerpted from, The Church's Year of Grace, Pius Parsch.

Patron: Bell-founders; breast cancer; breast disease; Catania, Italy; against fire; earthquakes; eruptions of Mount Etna; fire; fire prevention; jewelers; martyrs; natural disasters; nurses; Palermo, Italy; rape victims; single laywomen; sterility; torture victims; volcanic eruptions; wet-nurses; Zamarramala, Spain.

Symbols: Breasts on a dish; embers; knife; loaves of bread on a dish; pincers; shears; tongs; veil; virgin martyr wearing a veil and bearing her severed breasts on a silver platter.

A piece of St. Agatha's skull is kept at the Holy Monastery of St. Paul on Mount Athos. Here is a video from when the relic was brought to Aitolia for veneration.

Collect Prayer

May the Virgin Martyr Saint Agatha implore your compassion for us, O Lord, we pray, for she found favor with you by the courage of her martyrdom and the merit of her chastity. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Prayer to St. Agatha

St. Agatha, who withstood the unwelcome advances from unwanted suitors, and suffered pain and torture for her devotion to Our Lord, we celebrate your faith, dignity and martyrdom. Protect us against rape and other violations, guard us against breast cancer and other afflictions of women, and inspire us to overcome adversity. St. Agatha, virgin and martyr, mercifully grant that we who venerate your sacrifice, may receive your intercession. Amen.

Another Prayer to St. Agatha

Saint Agatha, you suffered sexual assault and indignity because of your faith. Help heal all those who are survivors of sexual assault and protect those women who are in danger. Amen

February 4, 2016

Why Non-Catholics Cannot Receive the Eucharist

The Eucharist
Among the Church’s seven sacraments the Holy Eucharist is preeminent because it is the body and blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ. The Real Presence is the source and summit of the faith from which innumerable graces flow. Catholics who receive Communion receive Christ into their bodies to be more fully assimilated into His. In so doing, we assert our fidelity to the teachings of the Church. According to Saint John Paul II, "The Eucharist builds the Church," [Redemptor Hominis 20]. Receiving Jesus in the Eucharist signals our unity with the Church, and with Christ Himself.

Moreover, Communion strengthens us. In the Eucharist, Jesus forgives our venial sins and helps us resist mortal sin. To encounter Christ in this way is a supreme miracle and divine gift; the power of which cannot be exaggerated. The Sacrifice of the Mass should evoke in us awe, reverence and profound love.

Numerous times, Jesus proclaims unequivocally the nature and importance of the Eucharist. In the Gospel of John our Lord says:
Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink [John 6: 53-55].
Hearing this, many of Jesus’ disciples walked away in disgust. Yet, instead of softening or revising his teaching, Christ reiterates it. The Institution of the Eucharist established by Jesus at the Last Supper has been solemnly and unendingly professed by the Church ever since.

The reason non-Catholics cannot receive the Eucharist is not a matter of hospitality. It is a matter of unity and belief. First, Catholics believe that the bread and wine become the very body and blood of Christ. Most Protestants contend that the bread and wine remain bread and wine. Therefore, they have no difficulty inviting believers and non believers alike at their respective services to participate in what is little more than a community meal.

Second, is the question of unity. The word Communion means "In union with". Sacred Scripture states that partaking of the Eucharist is among the highest signs of Christian unity: "Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread" [1 Cor. 10:17]. When Catholics receive they are saying "I believe in the teachings of the Catholic Church", as well as, "I believe that Jesus is really and truly present in the Eucharist." When the priest presents us with the Body of Christ, our "Amen" is an affirmation, not only in the Real Presence, but in the unity of the Church and the truth of the Church’s teachings [absent reservations, variance, or dissent]. Hence, it would be hypocritical for non-Catholics to receive the Eucharist.

February 2, 2016

59% of Millennials Believe Abortion is Morally Wrong


Last month, the Knights of Columbus website discussed a KofC/Marist Poll showing how Americans feel about abortion. The results demonstrate just how pro-life Millennials are. Among the findings:

◗ 59% of Millennials believe abortion is morally wrong

◗ 64% of Millennials say the abortion rate is higher than it should be

◗ 58% of Millennials say abortion does more harm than good

◗ 71% of Millennials are opposed to taxpayer funding of abortion

◗ 78% of Millennials support parental notification

Given the massive crowds of young people that gather annually for the March for Life in Washington, D.C., such sentiment is hardly surprising.

March for Life 2016 - Freedom