October 7, 2015

October 7th: The Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary

Our Lady of the Rosary

When Christian forces won a victory over the Turks at Lepanto, Pope St. Pius V had urged all Christians to prayed the Rosary for victory. The Rosary, or the Psalter of the Blessed Virgin Mary, is one of the most efficacious prayers to Mary, the Mother of God (See video below).

Pope Benedict XVI invited all families to pray the Rosary for the intentions of the Pope, the mission of the Church and peace. "It is as if every year Our Lady invited us to rediscover the beauty of this prayer, so simple and profound." The Rosary, a "contemplative and Christocentric prayer, inseparable from the meditation of Sacred Scripture," is "the prayer of the Christian who advances in the pilgrimage of faith, in the following of Jesus, preceded by Mary."

Our Lady of the Rosary

The Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary was instituted by Pope St. Pius V in thanksgiving for the great naval victory over the Turks at the battle of Lepanto, a favor due to the recitation of the Rosary. This victory saved Europe from being overrun by the forces of Islam.

Lepanto, perhaps the most complete victory ever gained over the Ottoman Empire, on October 7, 1571, is commemorated by the invocation "Help of Christians," inserted in the Litany of Loreto (see below). At Belgrade the Turks were defeated on the Feast of Our Lady ad Nives in 1716.   A second victory gained that year on the Octave of the Assumption determined Pope Clement XI to command the Feast of the Rosary to be celebrated by the universal Church. Leo XIII added the invocation "Queen of the most Holy Rosary, pray for us," to the Litany of Loretto. The Feast is in reality a great festival of thanksgiving for the signal and countless benefits bestowed on Christendom through the Rosary of our blessed Queen.

In modern times successive popes have urged the faithful to pray the Rosary. It is a form of contemplative prayer, mental and vocal prayer, which brings down God’s blessing on the Church. It is a biblically inspired prayer which is centered on meditation on the salvific mysteries of Christ in union with Mary, who was so closely associated with her Son in his redeeming activity.

From Today's Collect: 

Pour forth, we beseech you, O Lord, your grace into our hearts, that we, to whom the Incarnation of Christ you Son was made known by the message of an Angel, may, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, by his Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of his Resurrection. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

The Power of the Rosary

Litany of Loreto

October 6, 2015

Three Things to Know About The Sign of the Cross

This short but profound video features Father Mike Schmitz discussing the meaning of The Sign of the Cross. For more visit Altaration.com.  

From the Baltimore Catechism:

Q: Who made you?

A: God

Q: Why did He make you?

A: God made me to know Him, to love Him and to serve Him in this life, so as to live with Him forever in the next. 

A Faithful Catholic's Guide to Surviving the Synod on the Family (By Way of Father Zuhlsdorf)

Fr. John Zuhlsdorf gives sage advice about surviving the reporting (and misreporting) on the 2015 Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the Family. Fr. Zuhlsdorf:
On the one hand, I am not worried that the Synod will attempt to change God’s and the Church’s teaching.  It can’t.  The Synod can’t order pizza unless the Pope says so.  On the other hand, I am worried that the widely reported antics that might take place at the Synod will create an atmosphere of expectation that God’s and Church’s teaching can change and that, based on that expectation, people will start doing whatever the hell they want. ...
Neither the Synod, nor Pope Francis, can change the Church's long held doctrines — but they could undermine such doctrines and thus sow confusion.

St. Corbinian's Bear considers Francis' opening remarks to the Synod Fathers, and notes the following passage (an intentional obfuscation?):
To carry out her mission in charity, not pointing a finger in judgment of others, but – faithful to her nature as a mother – conscious of her duty to seek out and care for hurting couples with the balm of acceptance and mercy; to be a “field hospital” with doors wide open to whoever knocks in search of help and support; to reach out to others with true love, to walk with our fellow men and women who suffer, to include them and guide them to the wellspring of salvation. ...
Robert Royal at the Catholic Thing offers wisdom in "Five Guiding Principles for the Synod". The five principles in summation:
1st Principle:  Be Cautious About Drawing Large Conclusions.
2nd Principle: But Don’t Be Too Cautious.
3rd Principle:  Look out for claims of a false sense of freedom in the Church.
4th Principle:  False freedom corrupts concepts like love, mercy, charity.
5th Principle:  Increase Your Prayer, Fasting, and Almsgiving.
N. B.: I highly recommend all three bloggers and their respective sites. You may be well familiar with them. If not, consider making them part of your daily web itinerary.

October 5, 2015

October 5th: Saint Faustina — Virgin and Disciple of Mercy

St. Faustina Kowalska

Helena Kowalska was the third of ten children, born August 25, 1905, in Głogówiec, Poland. At fifteen she left school to help support her family. Helena felt called by God to a religious vocation. In 1925, she entered the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy, taking the name Sister Maria Faustina of the Blessed Sacrament.

This simple nun with only three years of formal education lived a short but consequential life. Through her, God reveled His compassion, His desire to forgive sins, and reconcile mankind to Himself. She endured great hardships in carrying out this Divine mission.

Sister Faustina received visions of our Lord, in which, Jesus instructed her to tell the world of His infinite love and mercy. She kept a diary of these visions; later published under the title Divine Mercy in My Soul: The Diary of St. Faustina

Sister Faustina was thirty-three when she succumbed to tuberculosis. Following her death her writings were met with skepticism. After the Second World War, the Church would revisit them. The Archbishop of Kraków, Karol Wojtyła (the future Pope John Paul II), reopened the investigation into Faustina's life and writings and approved devotion to the Divine Mercy, including praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet.

In 1993 Faustina was beatified, the last designation before sainthood. On April 30, 2000, Pope John Paul II canonized her a saint and established the second Sunday of Easter (the first Sunday after Easter Sunday), as Divine Mercy Sunday.

Her Vatican biography is here. A PDF on praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet is available here.

Saint Faustina: Disciple of Mercy

On February 22, 1931, Jesus appeared to Faustina as the King of Divine Mercy. He asked her to have a picture painted of him as she saw him — clothed in white, with red and white rays of light streaming from his heart. The rays represent the blood and water that flowed from the side of Jesus on the cross. Under the image are the words, "Jesus, I trust in you."

At first, many people did not believe Faustina. The sisters in her convent thought that Jesus could not possibly have selected her for this great favor. After all, she was an uneducated peasant girl. Her superiors often refused to give her permission to carry out Jesus' requests. Church theologians, too, doubted her word. Jesus told Faustina that he loved her obedience and that his will would be done in the end.

In June 1934 an artist completed the painting of the Divine Mercy according to her instructions; and it soon became a focus for devotion. Faustina continued to record in her diary the appearances of Jesus. 

Prayer of the Faithful for the 2015 Synod on the Family

Brothers and Sisters,

Gathered together as God’s family and inspired by our faith, we raise our minds and hearts to the Father, that our families, sustained by the grace of Christ, might become true domestic churches where all live and bear witness to God’s love.

Together we pray:

Lord, bless and sanctify our families.

For Pope Francis: the Lord has called him to preside over the Church in charity; sustain him in his ministry of service to the communion of the episcopal college and the entire People of God, we pray:

For the synod fathers and the other participants at the Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops: may the Spirit of the Lord enlighten their minds so that the Church might respond, in faithfulness to God’s plan, to the challenges facing the family, we pray:

For those who have the responsibility of governing nations: that the Holy Spirit might inspire programs which acknowledge the value of the family as the basic unit of society in God’s plan and which offer support to families in difficulty, we pray:

For Christian families: may the Lord who has sealed the union of husband and wife with his presence, make our families cenacles of prayer and ardent communities of life and love, after the example of the Holy Family of Nazareth, we pray:

For couples undergoing difficulties: may the Lord, rich in mercy, be present to them through the Church’s motherly care and concern in showing understanding and patience in their journey towards pardon and reconciliation, we pray:

For families who, for the sake of the Gospel, are forced leave their fatherland: may the Lord who endured exile with Mary and Joseph, comfort them with his grace and open for them paths of fraternal charity and human solidarity, we pray:

For grandparents: may the Lord who was received in the Temple by the elders Simeon and Anna, make them wise collaborators with parents in transmitting the faith and the raising their children, we pray:

For children: may the Lord of life, who in his ministry welcomed them and made them a model for entering the Kingdom of heaven, inspire a respect for life in the womb and programs in raising children which conform to the Christian outlook towards life, we pray:

For young people: may the Lord, who made holy the Wedding at Cana, lead them to discover the beauty of the sacredness and inviolability of the family in God’s plan and sustain engaged couples as they prepare for marriage, we pray:

O God, you never forsake the work of your hands, hear our prayer; send the Spirit of your Son to enlighten the Church as the synodal journey begins, so that contemplating the splendor of true love which shines forth in the Holy Family of Nazareth, she might learn the freedom and obedience to respond with boldness and mercy to the challenges of today’s world. Through Christ Our Lord.


Edward Pentin's The Rigging of a Vatican Synod? Tells What Happened at the 2014 Synod on the Family

Edward Pentin's fascinating e-book chronicles the inner workings and subterfuge surrounding last year's Extraordinary Synod on the Family. He examines various charges of manipulation that occurred in the run up to the proceedings. The Rigging of a Vatican Synod? is a compelling, intensely researched account of this seminal gathering of the Church's episcopate (video below). From Amazon's précis:
Intrigue or inexperience? Did key leaders of the recent Extraordinary Synod of Bishops try to manipulate the outcome to support a change in Catholic practice and perhaps in Catholic teaching on divorce and remarriage and same-sex activity? Did they undermine Pope Francis’ vision of an “open” discussion? Critics claim Cardinal Baldissieri, the man Pope Francis trusted to oversee the Synod’s discussion of family issues, along with some of his associates, tried to predetermine the outcome of the Synod’s deliberations and its documents. [ ... ]
Pentin shows several instances where voices within the Church were prevented from being heard. For instance:

◗ How members of the John Paul II Institute of Marriage and Family were not invited to be experts at the Synod

◗ How Bishops rejected the interim document over concerns it misrepresented the Synod's discussions.

◗ How the procedures for publishing talks from the Synod were altered

◗ How individuals were unscrupulously manipulated for purposes of achieving a certain doctrinal outcome

◗ How high ranking Cardinals made condescending remarks belittling Africans

World Over: 'The Rigging of a Vatican Synod?' Edward Pentin

Pray for the ongoing proceedings of the 2015 Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the Family. May the Holy Spirit guide the participants to craft a clear, faithful, Godly articulation of marriage and family life for our time — and for all time.

Prayer to the Holy Family for the Synod 

Jesus, Mary and Joseph,
in you we contemplate
the splendor of true love,
to you we turn with trust. 

Holy Family of Nazareth,
grant that our families too
may be places of communion and prayer,
authentic schools of the Gospel
and small domestic Churches.

Holy Family of Nazareth,
may families never again
experience violence, rejection and division:
may all who have been hurt or scandalized
find ready comfort and healing. 

Holy Family of Nazareth,
may the approaching Synod of Bishops
make us once more mindful
of the sacredness and inviolability of the family,
and its beauty in God's plan. 

Jesus, Mary and Joseph,
graciously hear our prayer.


Fr. Philip Neri Powell's Beautiful Homily on Marriage: "Any marriage can thrive... "

27th Sunday OT
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
Our Lady of the Rosary, NOLA

Uncomfortable truths do not go away simply b/c we harden our hearts against them. Reality does not yield to argument or whining. Truth is truth; the Real is real, and we are thrown into both and forced to deal with each as best we can. However, better than most, we Catholics are equipped to confront and thrive in the truth of the real b/c we know and believe that God our Father is Love. He created us in love; redeemed us in love; and He brings us back to Him in love. Our daily reality – given and unavoidable – is soaked through with the abiding presence of Love Himself. Also given and unavoidable. God's presence does not guarantee us that we will never come to harm, or that all of our works will prosper, or that we will always be happy. What His presence does guarantee is everything we do and say can be given the weight of eternity if we work and speak in His name for His glory. With our hearts and minds firmly focused on our lives in Christ, our hands and feet are free to do the holy work we have been given to do. Uncomfortable truths do not go away simply b/c we harden our hearts against them. Reality does not yield to argument or whining.

Earlier today in Rome, the Holy Father opened the 2015 Synod of Bishops. The synod Fathers are gathered to address “The Vocation and Mission of the Family in the Church and the Contemporary World.” This is the conclusion to last year's controversial synod where it appeared – for a moment – that a faction in the synod had maneuvered the Fathers into recommending that the Church dilute her ancient teachings on marriage, divorce, and same-sex relationships. That faction was exposed and its contentious mid-synod report was withdrawn and amended to better reflect the actual recommendations of the whole synod. Between last year's synod and this year's, many of the synod Fathers have published books, articles, and interviews variously defending the Church's tradition; attacking her tradition; or calling for modest reform of the tradition. A few months ago, Pope Francis reformed the annulment process, making the long, expensive ordeal shorter and cheaper. Some applauded. Some booed. Some said, “About time!” Others said, “Catholic divorce is here!” In his homily this morning, the Holy Father said this, “This is God’s dream for his beloved creation: to see it fulfilled in the loving union between a man and a woman, rejoicing in their shared journey, fruitful in their mutual gift of self.” ...

Read the rest here.

October 4, 2015

Spread the Word

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. ... 

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us...

— John 1:1,14

Last month we announced that Big C Catholics was available on Facebook and Twitter. These social network offerings feature all posts, plus additional content not found on the website. If you have suggestions or a prayer request, submit them using our contact page.

Know that your readership and comments are greatly appreciated. Every visitor is prayed for daily, including those who link to or promote the concerns advanced by this blog; namely, building a culture of life that defends and protects the dignity of every human being amid a society that's increasingly hostile to God and expressions of Christian belief.

Call for Submissions

We are accepting articles from Catholic clergy and consecrated religious that address Sacred Scripture, Theology, Philosophy or the Church’s mission in the world. All submissions must be faithful to the teachings of the Magisterium.

Spread the Word

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May the blessings of Christ be with you always.

October 2, 2015

Homily for the 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time, October 4, 2015, Year B

Fr. René J. Butler, M.S.
Director, La Salette Shrine
Enfield, NH

Marriage of the Virgin, Fiorentino, 1523 
(Click here for today’s readings)

In the story of creation we are told several times that “God saw that it was good.” There was only one exception: “It is not good for the man to be alone.”

The first reading, from Chapter 2 of Genesis, spells out in greater detail what was stated in Chapter 1: “Male and female he created them.”

God’s plan is to make a “suitable partner” for the man. This expression is the latest in a long list of possible translations: “Help meet, a helper comparable to him, a helper who is just right for him, a helper suitable for him, a helper fit for him, a helpmate—his like, a helper as his counterpart.”

A commentator named Kaiser paraphrases the verse as follows: “I will make (the woman) a power (or strength) corresponding to the man.” He justifies this because the word translated as “help” or “partner” is used most often in the Bible in speaking of God. In Psalm 33:20, for example, we read: “Our soul waits for the Lord: he is our help and our shield,” where “help” is a manifestation of God’s power.

The man’s reaction on seeing the woman shows clearly that she is indeed his exact counterpart, exactly what he needed to be complete. “Bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh” is his way of saying she is, just as he is, made in the image and likeness of God. She is not an afterthought. She is what one commentary calls “the crescendo, the final, astonishing work of God. She is the Master's finishing touch... breathtaking... the crown of creation.”

Each is then the other’s perfect counterpart and, for the writer of Genesis, herein lies the foundation of marriage.

The question of the Pharisees about divorce was a test, on a legal issue, not based at all on Genesis but on Deuteronomy. It isn’t clear why they raised the issue in the first place. Jesus seems to respond that Moses either missed the point altogether, or had a moment of weakness in allowing divorce. He concludes with the famous words, “What God has joined together, no human being must separate.”

End of conversation. That is, there was no follow-up from the Pharisees. Either they did not object to his position, or they were dumbfounded, sorry they ever brought it up. The follow-up came from Jesus’ own disciples. His reply to them, comparing remarriage after divorce to adultery, is among the most counter-cultural of all of his sayings, unparalleled in the Jewish world in which he lived, unparalleled in the Gentile world to which Christianity later spread.

No one believes that divorce is an ideal. Over thirty years ago I was with a group attending the wedding of some common acquaintances. The spouses had composed their own marriage vows. The groom told the bride how he would love her and cherish her, and concluded with the phrase: “As long as we both shall love.” That is not a typographical error. He said “love,” not the expected “live.” The bride was obviously, and understandably, taken aback!

What couple getting married ever says, “We can’t wait to get divorced”?

Jesus’ teaching on divorce leaves us uncomfortable, because there are many good and healthy blended families resulting from many failed marriages. How are we to present Jesus’ teaching faithfully, clearly and honestly without leading to the conclusion that divorced persons must be bad people? They aren’t excommunicated, we know; but even more important, they are loved, just like everyone else, not only in spite of their faults, but with their faults.

Divorce is all around us, sad but true. That’s why there are now many support groups for separated and divorced Catholics, helping them deal with their suffering and get through their pain and confusion. The Church fully endorses this ministry

Jesus, according to the Letter to the Hebrews, is “not ashamed” to be one of us; in the Incarnation he became bone of our bones and flesh of our flesh. Then he was made “perfect through suffering.” He suffered among, and for, those who suffer.

He became our “partner,” our “helper,” for better, for worse, in sickness and in health, in a union that not even death could put asunder.

The World's Most Persecuted Minority: Christians

The most persecuted and victimized people in the world today are Christians in the Middle East. The perpetrators of the widespread destruction of that region's Christian community? Islamists. Middle East expert Raymond Ibrahim lays out the grim details.

Visit our Nasarean.org page for information about helping Christians in the Middle East.

October 2: Feast of the Guardian Angels (with Homily)

Each person on earth has a guardian angel who watches over him and helps him to attain his salvation. Angelical guardianship begins at the moment of birth; prior to this, the child is protected by the mother's guardian angel. This protection continues throughout our whole life and ceases only when our probation on earth ends, namely, at the moment of death. Our guardian angel accompanies our soul to purgatory or heaven, and becomes our coheir in the heavenly kingdom (See video below).

Angels are servants and messengers from God. The word "angel" in Greek means messenger. In unseen ways the angels help us on our earthly pilgrimage by assisting us in work and study, helping us in temptation and protecting us from physical danger.

The idea that each soul has assigned to it a personal guardian angel has been long accepted by the Church and is a truth of our faith. From the Gospel of today's liturgy we read: "See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven always look upon the face of my heavenly Father" (Matthew 18:10). The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that "the existence of the spiritual, non-corporeal beings that Sacred Scripture usually calls 'angels' is a truth of faith (328)." From our birth until our death, man is surrounded by the protection and intercession of angels, particularly our guardian angel: "Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life (336)." (Read more about your guardian angel at The New Theological Movement.)

Prayer to Your Guardian Angel

Angel of God,
my guardian dear,
To whom God's love
commits me here,
Ever this day,
be at my side,
To light and guard,
Rule and guide.


Another Prayer to Your Guardian Angel

Angel of God's light, whom God sends as a companion for me on earth, protect me from the snares of the devil, and help me to walk always as a child of God, my Creator.

Angel of God's truth, whose perfect knowledge serves what is true, protect me from deceits and temptations. Help me to know the truth, and always to live the truth.

Angel of God's love, who praises Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, who sacrificed His life for love of us, sustain me as I learn the ways of Divine love, of sacrificial generosity, of meekness and lowliness of heart.

Thank You, my heavenly friend, for your watchful care. At the moment of my death, bring me to heaven, where the one true God, Who is light, Truth and Love, lives and reigns forever and ever. Amen.

Homily for the Feast of Guardian Angels

On this the Feast of the Guardian Angels, Fr. Ignatius preaches on the nature of these heavenly helpers. He mentions how they are superior to us and so we can not name them but they are given to us by God as helpers toward our salvation and sanctification which is a great grace. 

Reminder 10/2/15: Three O'clock is the Hour of Great Mercy

The Divine Mercy Image
The Hour of Great Mercy

Just as the (Divine Mercy) Image can serve as a reminder of the ocean of Divine Mercy, as well as its price, so can the daily remembrance of the Divine Mercy at the hour of Christ's death. Jesus asked Saint Faustina, and through her us, to celebrate this Hour of Great Mercy, promising tremendous graces to those who would, both for themselves and on behalf of others.
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 ... In this hour I will refuse nothing to the soul that makes a request of Me in virtue of My Passion. (Diary, Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, Divine Mercy in My Soul (c) 1987, 1320).
As often as you hear the clock strike the third hour immerse yourself completely in My mercy, adoring and glorifying it, invoke it's 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. 
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 Most Blessed Sacrament. My Heart, which is full of mercy: and should you be unable to step into chapel. immerse yourself in prayer there where you happen to be, if only for a very brief instant. (Diary, 1572)

October 1, 2015

Saint Thérèse of Lisieux — A Collection of Her Wisdon in Thirty Quotations

St. Thérèse of Lisieux
Despite being acutely aware of her own inadequacy, St. Thérèse of Lisieux was determined to be a saint. Her life of prayer, simplicity and humility shows us that sainthood is possible for everyone. The following quotations of St. Thérèse, illustrate her devotion to love in imitation of Christ.
A word or a smile is often enough to put fresh life in a despondent soul.
May you be content knowing you are a child of God.

The splendor of the rose and the whiteness of the lily do not rob the little violet of it’s scent nor the daisy of its simple charm. If every tiny flower wanted to be a rose, spring would lose its loveliness. 
Miss no single opportunity of making some small sacrifice, here by a smiling look, there by a kindly word; always doing the smallest right and doing it all for love.
For me, prayer is a surge of the heart; it is a simple look turned toward heaven, it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy. 
Then, overcome by joy, I cried, 'Jesus, my love. At last I have found my vocation. My vocation is love. In the heart of the Church, my mother, I will be love, and then I will be all things.
I know now that true charity consists in bearing all our neighbours' defects – not being surprised at their weakness, but edified at their smallest virtues. 
Even now I know it: yes, all my hopes will be fulfilled… yes… the Lord will work wonders for me which will surpass infinitely my immeasurable desires. 
Go often to Holy Communion. Go very often! This is your one remedy.
My God, I choose all. I do not want to be a saint by halves. I am not afraid to suffer for You. I fear only one thing – that I should keep my own will. So take it, for I choose all that You will.

Trust and trust alone should lead us to love.


The world’s thy ship and not thy home.


I can nourish myself on nothing but truth.


Let us not be justices of the peace but angels of peace.

The science of loving, yes, that’s the only kind of science I want I’d barter away everything I possess to win it.
Perfection consists in doing His will, in being that which He wants us to be.
It’s true, I suffer a great deal – but do I suffer well? That is the question.
Much later, when I understood what perfection was, I realized that to become a saint one must suffer a great deal, always seek what is best, and forget oneself. I understood that there were many kinds of of sanctity and that each soul was free to respond to the approaches of Our Lord and to do little or much for Him — in other words,to make a choice among the sacrifices He demands.
A soul in a state of grace has nothing to fear of demons who are cowards.
Holiness consists simply in doing God's will, and being just what God wants us to be. 
I also understood that God’s love shows itself just as well in the simplest soul which puts up no resistance to His grace as it does in the loftiest soul.
Believe me, the writing of pious books, the composing of the sublimest poetry; all that does not equal the smallest act of self-denial.
I also understood that God’s love shows itself just as well in the simplest soul which puts up no resistance to His grace as it does in the loftiest soul.
May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you.
It is better to leave each one in his own opinion than to enter into arguments.
God would never inspire me with desires which cannot be realized; so in spite of my littleness, I can hope to be a saint.
Merit does not consist in doing or giving much. It consists in loving much.
When I die, I will send down a shower of roses from the heavens, I will spend my heaven by doing good on earth.
My whole strength lies in prayer and sacrifice, these are my invincible arms; they can move hearts far better than words, I know it by experience. 
If I did not simply live from one moment to another it would be impossible for me to be patient, but I only look at the present, I forget the past, and I take good care not to forestall the future.

The Holy Father's Prayer Intentions for October 2015

Please remember the Holy Father Pope Francis' intentions in prayer through the month of October:
General Intention: That human trafficking, the modern form of slavery, may be eradicated.
Missionary Intention: That with a missionary spirit the Christian communities of Asia may announce the Gospel to those who are still awaiting it.

October 1, 2015: Feast of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux 'The Little Flower' — Virgin and Doctor of the Church

Today is the feast day of St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face, more popularly known as "the Little Flower." Although just an obscure cloistered Carmelite nun, she has had universal appeal since her death in 1897.

You ask me a method of attaining perfection. I know of love - and only love. Love can do all things. 

     — St Thérèse of Lisieux

Marie Thérèse Martin was born at Alençon, France on January 2, 1873, the youngest of five daughters. Her father, Louis, was a watchmaker, and her mother, Zelie, who died of breast cancer when Thérèse was four, was a lace maker. She was brought up in a model Christian home. While still a child she felt the attraction of the cloister, and at fifteen obtained permission to enter the Carmel of Lisieux.

For the next nine years she lived a very ordinary religious life. There are no miracles, exploits or austerities recorded of her. She attained a very high degree of holiness by carrying out her ordinary daily duties with perfect fidelity, having a childlike confidence in God's providence and merciful love and being ready to be at the service of others at all times. She also had a great love of the Church and a zeal for the conversion of souls. She prayed especially for priests.

Click here to learn more about the life and mission of St. Thérèse

Thérèse's last years were marked by tremendous hardship, which she endured without complaint. She saw her suffering as part of her spiritual journey. In 1896, after a strict Lenten fast, Thérèse went to bed on the eve of Good Friday and experienced a joyous ecstasy. "Oh! how sweet this memory really is!... " she wrote, "I had scarcely laid my head upon the pillow when I felt something like a bubbling stream mounting to my lips. I didn't know what it was."

The following morning she began coughing up blood - a sure sign of tuberculosis. In Thérèse's day, developing tuberculosis meant a slow painful death. She recorded her thoughts in her journal: "I thought immediately of the joyful thing that I had to learn, so I went over to the window. I was able to see that I was not mistaken. Ah! my soul was filled with a great consolation; I was interiorly persuaded that Jesus, on the anniversary of His own death, wanted to have me hear His first call!"

Thérèse died of consumption on September 30, 1897, at the age of 24, and was canonized in 1925. She has never ceased to fulfill her promise: "I will pass my heaven in doing good on earth." Her interior life is known through her autobiography called Story of a Soul. Pope John Paul II declared her a Doctor of the Church in 1997.

(St. Thérèse is the patroness of: florists; foreign missions; missionaries; pilots; against tuberculosis; AIDS sufferers; illness; loss of parents; Australia; France; Russia; Diocese of Fairbanks, Alaska; Diocese of Fresno, California; Diocese of Juneau, Alaska; Diocese of Pueblo, Colorado.)

Thérèse just before
entering the Carmelites 
St Thérèse's 'Little Way' (to Eternal Beatitude)

Six years after entering the cloister, determined to become a saint, Thérèse saw the limitations of her efforts. She remained diminutive, far from the selfless love she aspired to. It was on this very littleness that Thérèse learned to ask for God's help. This spiritual mindset of humility and simplicity is the 'Little Way. St.Thérèse describes it in her autobiography:
I will seek out a means of getting to Heaven by a little way—very short and very straight, a little way that is wholly new. We live in an age of inventions; nowadays the rich need not trouble to climb the stairs, they have lifts instead. Well, I mean to try and find a lift by which I may be raised unto God, for I am too tiny to climb the steep stairway of perfection. [...] Thine Arms, then, O Jesus, are the lift which must raise me up even unto Heaven. To get there I need not grow; on the contrary, I must remain little, I must become still less.
From Today's Collect:

O God, who open your Kingdom to those who are humble and to little ones, lead us to follow trustingly in the little way of Saint Thérèse, so that through her intercession we may see your eternal glory revealed. 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.

The Story of St Thérèse of Lisieux

September 30, 2015

Today is the Feast Day of Saint Jerome — Father and Doctor of the Church.

St. Jerome with lion: According to legend,
a lion came into Jerome’s monastery.
All fled save Jerome. Rather than attack,
the lion lifted its paw to reveal a thorn.
Jerome removed the thorn and tended the
animal back to health. The lion remained
subservient to Jerome and the brethren.
Saint Jerome, one of the four original Western doctors of the Church, is perhaps best known for translating the Bible from Greek (the Septuagint) into Latin (the Vulgate). A remarkable scholar and a sometimes prickly man, Saint Jerome nevertheless believed deeply in the mercy of Christ.

Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.
                       — St. Jerome      

One of the greatest Biblical scholars of Christendom, Saint Jerome was born of Christian parents at Stridon in Dalmatia around the year 345. Educated at the local school, he then studied rhetoric in Rome for eight years, before returning to Aquilea to set up a community of ascetics. When that community broke up after three years Jerome went to the east. He met an old hermit named Malchus, who inspired the saint to live in a bare cell, dressed in sackcloth, studying the Scriptures.

Click here for fifteen fast facts about St. Jerome

He learned Hebrew from a rabbi. Then he returned to Antioch and was reluctantly ordained priest. With his bishop he visited Constantinople and became friendly with Saints Gregory Nazianzen and Gregory of Nyssa. And then in 382 he went again to Rome, to become the personal secretary of Pope Damasus. Here he met his dearest friends, a wealthy woman called Paula, her daughter Eustochium and another wealthy woman named Marcella.

Here too he began his finest work. Commissioned by the pope, he began to revise the Latin version of the psalms and the New Testament, with immense care and scholarship. Jerome eventually translated the whole of the Bible into the Latin version which is known as the Vulgate. But when Damasus died, his enemies forced the saint to leave Rome.

Accompanied by Paula and Eustochium, Jerome went to Bethlehem. There he lived for thirty-four years till his death in 420, building a monastery over which he presided and a convent headed first by Paula and after her death by Eustochium. The saint set up a hospice for the countless pilgrims to that place. His scholarship, his polemics, his treatises and letters often provoked anger and always stimulated those who read them. 'Plato located the soul of man in the head,' he wrote, 'Christ located it in the heart.'

Excerpted from A Calendar of Saints by James Bentley

Prayer of Saint Jerome for Christ's Mercy

O Lord, show Your mercy to me and gladden my heart. I am like the man on the way to Jericho who was overtaken by robbers, wounded and left for dead. O Good Samaritan, come to my aid. I am like the sheep that went astray. O Good Shepherd, seek me out and bring me home in accord with Your will. Let me dwell in Your house all the days of my life and praise You for ever and ever with those who are there. Amen.

(St. Jerome is the patron saint of: Archeologists; archivists; Bible scholars; librarians; libraries; schoolchildren; students; translators.)

September 29, 2015

Pope: Workers Have 'Human Right' to Refuse Same-Sex Marriage Licenses

In an interview following his whirlwind tour of Washington D. C. and Philadelphia, Pope Francis affirmed that government workers have a human right to refuse to carry out a duty if they have a "conscientious objection." NBC reports that:
While returning from his visit to the U.S., the pontiff told reporters aboard the papal plane Monday that anyone who prevents others from exercising their religious freedom is denying them a human right.
[ ... ]
The pontiff was asked: "Do you... support those individuals, including government officials, who say they cannot in good conscience, their own personal conscience, abide by some laws or discharge their duties as government officials, for example when issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples?"
[Pope Francis]: "I can't have in mind all the cases that can exist about conscientious objection ... but yes, I can say that conscientious objection is a right that is a part of every human right. It is a right. And if a person does not allow others to be a conscientious objector, he denies a right. Conscientious objection must enter into every juridical structure because it is a right, a human right. Otherwise we would end up in a situation where we select what is a right, saying, 'this right that has merit, this one does not.'"
I note that in the video accompanying the article, NBC made no reference to the Pope's stance on refusing same-sex marriage licenses.

For Better, Safer Sex...

From Robert Colquhoun's Discover Happiness (U.K.). Visit his newest website that seeks to build a growing appreciation of the inalienable rights of every unborn child at RobertColquhoun.com.

September 28, 2015

September's Blog of Note: Catholic in My Write Mind

Catholic in My Write Mind

September's blog of note is Catholic in My Write Mind — one Catholic writer vs. the post Christian culture. It is the creation of writer, publisher and Catholic apologist, Felix Whelan; who lives with his wife, Carol Ann, daughter, Kate and son, Conner, in rural Missouri alongside twenty or so dogs, cats, chickens, sheep and goats on their one acre farm. Rejecting society's increasingly secular proscriptions; Felix blogs about culture, creativity and all things Catholic. He is the author of the futuristic Christian fiction novel, Children of the Good, in addition to establishing two publishing ventures:

eSaint Library makes available great works of the Saints and other classics of Catholic spirituality, published in affordable, colorfully illustrated editions and formatted for study on a variety of today’s eReader devices. eSaint Library also develops original anthologies derived from the writings of the Saints, and people of heroic virtue, that focus on specific themes of Catholic Doctrine and life.

Better Days Books produces quality reprint editions of classic American non-fiction books, focusing on titles that uniquely capture the spirit of the 18th, 19th and early 20th Centuries – times when courage, self-reliance, clean living and upright moral virtue defined the common character of the American people. The primary focus of Better Days Books is on traditional skills, homestead knowledge, and old fashioned holiday customs and traditions.

Visit Catholic in My Write Mind for unique, faith filled commentary about Catholicism and the world at large.

Marriage: The Good Wine (a Catholic wedding homily)

Jesus changing water into wine
At Mary's urging, Christ turns water into wine
This wedding homily by Monsignor Cormac Burke originally appeared in the Nazareth Journal, 1995/2, pp. 18-20. Previously, it was posted on Big C Catholics in installments. At the request of readership, it is presented here in full. I highly recommend you visit Msgr. Burke's website for more such excellent content.

 "You have kept the good wine until now".

     In these words the steward expressed his amazement to the bridegroom at Cana. And his amazement was redoubled when he found the bridegroom just as surprised as he was. The words should, of course, have been addressed to Jesus, who had just let himself be persuaded by Our Lady to work the first of his miracles.

     After thirty years of hidden life, Jesus begins to reveal the divine power that is his by nature. Surely it can be no accident that he works his first miracle on the occasion of a human celebration, and in order to provide more of what would make people merrier still at a party already filled with merriment.

     Is it too much to suggest that Our Lord chose this moment because he wished to make it clear that he had come to bring men happiness; not just the ultimate and perfect happiness of heaven, but also the passing though real happiness of earth? He had come to give a divine touch to human things, so that man's store of happiness, even if at times in danger, need never run out.

     God became man not to destroy man, but to save him, not to limit or inhibit or frustrate man, but to show him the way to fulfilment and to freedom: to the final and limitless freedom and fulfilment of heaven, to be sure; but also to that relative but true freedom and happiness which God himself wants us to achieve on earth. Christianity, when all is said and done, does not devalue human things, but leads them to their true fulfilment (which can be so easily missed), and far beyond.

     Most people's dreams of happiness are dreams of human love. The instinct to look for happiness in love and marriage is rooted deep in the human heart, and has surely been placed there by God. Our Lord's choice of a marriage feast as the setting for his first miracle seems a good proof not only of the obvious fact that he is in favour of marriage (his own institution, after all!), but also that he wants people's hopes of happiness in marriage to be fulfilled. I am certain that Jesus rejoiced in the noble and pure love of the young couple at Cana, just as he most certainly blessed it with his presence. I am sure that this marriage, with Christ and his Blessed Mother present at its inception, was one of the very many happy marriages of history.

     But our Lord did more on this occasion. He worked an evident miracle in favour of this marriage. And he worked a deeper miracle still, in favour of all subsequent marriages.

     Water to wine is an evident miracle. God's deeper miracles are not always so evident. Wine to Blood is a miracle seen only by the eyes of faith. The appearance has not changed. But the reality has. The reality is divine. It is the Mystery of the Sacraments: God's hidden presence and action through human signs.

     The real miracle of Cana is our Lord's endowing human love with a new power: the power to be a sign and a cause of divine love.

     He wanted this couple, and all Christian couples, to be happy in loving one another. He wanted them to love him in loving one another. He wanted them to be saints, in loving one another. And so he raised their marriage to be a Sacrament.

     Christian teaching on marriage as a Sacrament means not only that husband and wife have God's help, to love each other more, and to love their children more. It also means that in loving each other and their children more, they are loving God more. Marriage is both a means and a challenge to growth in love. And growth in human love, in Christian marriage, effects (i.e. causes) growth in divine love. This is the sacramentality of marriage.

     Everyone marries in expectation of happiness. But you must have often reflected on the fact that many marriages do not work out as happy marriages. Will yours? Will you be faithful to one another, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, in happiness, to the very end? That is what you hope and pray for today.

     I would suggest three conditions which, if you fulfil them, will make your marriage happy.

     * Prayer: The first condition is that you pray a lot. "The family that prays together, stays together", so the saying goes. I feel certain that the couple married at Cana were a praying couple. Lay that sure foundation of prayer in your married life from the very start. The thought that your marriage is a sacrament, and therefore a source of grace, must be your mainstay. Not only do you want your marriage to be happy, but God wants it to be happy. If you learn to look to Him and pray to Him, your marriage will work out. But marriages do not work out without prayer.

     * Unconditional Love: The second condition is that you try to love each other always as God loves you. He loves each of you with your defects. This is the marvel of God's love. He doesn't love our defects, or love us because of our defects. He loves us because of our virtues, or at least because of our possibilities of virtues. But He loves us with our defects. If the moment were to come in which one of you were to begin to see, to think you see, more defects than virtues in the other, then you would have to go hurrying to take a refresher course in that school of love where God is always prepared.

     If many marriages today go "on the rocks" perhaps it's because the spouses expected too much of one another. Do not expect too much. Try to give without limit, even though you know you will never perfectly succeed in doing so. Therefore do not expect without limit. Only God can give without limit, and only God can satisfy unlimited expectations. He will do that, but only in heaven. Marriage is not heaven; though, if lived in a holy fashion it can be a foretaste and a preparation for heaven. When your partner fails to give what you expected, forgive. And when you fail to give what you thought you would always give, ask for forgiveness.

     * Fidelity: The third condition is that you always try to live your marriage in accordance with God's will. In a few moments you will exchange marriage vows, your mutual promises of life-long love and fidelity. These promises are not of your making, though you have freely chosen to make them. They are of God's making, for they express the nature of the marriage bond as He has made it. It is important to remember, for it is so often forgotten today that marriage was God's idea before it was ever man's. The nature of marriage is given by God, just as the promise of happiness marriage contains has been placed there by God. That is why the final condition for achieving that promised happiness is to live marriage according to its God-given nature.

     The marriage vow is a vow of fidelity unto death. Its bond can never be broken except by death. Our Lord Jesus Christ proclaimed this in these solemn words: "What God has joined together let no man put asunder." The knowledge that you have freely and consciously accepted this life-long and unbreakable character of marriage, and are fully determined to maintain it, gives to each of you a deep trust in the quality of the love your partner feels for you. When people who believe in divorce get married, they can never have this assurance of an unconditional love on their partner's part. The very beginnings of their marriage rest on shaky foundations.

     In this Mass I pray with the Church that your marriage may be fruitful: that you may live to see your children's children to the third and fourth generation. Children are God's first gift and blessing to a married couple. Though many people today may seem to doubt this, may you never doubt it. Each child you receive from God is a sign of trust on his part, a vote of divine confidence in you. Observe that trust with gratitude, with a constant sense of the privilege of being sharers in God's creative work. If you receive your children in this way, each child will be not only the fruit of your love but also its pillar and mainstay.

     May each year that passes make you love each other even more deeply and tenderly than now. May the ups and downs of life, and the weaknesses of each of you, only serve, with God's grace, to make your love mature and firm and serene. And so your children will find in you parents who, loving each other and loving them with a strong, unwavering, tender, wise, generous and self-sacrificing love, reflect in some way the love God has for each of us his children.

     Mary was present at the Cana wedding party. She cared for the human happiness of this couple, even down to the small detail of wanting to spare them embarrassment for bad catering. How much more must she have cared for their love for each other throughout their married life. She was their friend. What an inspiration her love and friendship must have been to them in learning to love each other and their children more, more purely, more truly, more humanly, and in doing so, to learn to love God more. I feel no doubt that this marriage, so blessed from its very beginning, was a happy marriage indeed. But it was more: it was one of the many holy marriages of history; and that the couple of Cana, unknown to us by name, are high up among the saints in heaven.

     We have seen in the Gospel Mary's concern for the happiness of the young couple at Cana. Place yourselves under her protection and intercession, so that the good wine of your present love for each other and for God may never run out, may always remain good; and so that, by the grace and divine power of the Sacrament you are about to administer to one another, you may learn to turn all the little incidents that make up life, the apparently colorless and insipid water of everyday living, into the richest possible wine of love for each other, love for your children, and love for God.