January 19, 2017

Novena of Reparation for Roe vs. Wade and an End to Abortion 2017 | Day 7

Our Lady of Guadalupe

January 20, 2017

While legislation and public witness are important to end abortion, our most powerful weapon is prayer. From the Priests for Life website:

The Catholic bishops of the United States have designated January 22 as a special day of prayer and penance in reparation for the massive killing that has resulted from the Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court decision [handed down January 22, 1973] which permitted abortion throughout a woman's pregnancy.

We at Priests for Life invite you to prepare spiritually for that day by joining a Novena that starts on January 14 and concludes on the 22nd. We invite you to say the following prayer each of those days, and to let us know [see end of post] that you have committed to say it.

Prayer of Reparation


God and Father of Life,
You have created every human person,
And have opened the way for each to have eternal life. 

We live in the shadow of death.
Tens of millions of your children have been killed
because of the Roe vs. Wade decision legalizing abortion. 

Father, have mercy on us.
Heal our land
And accept our offering of prayer and penance.
In your love for us,
Turn back the scourge of abortion.

May each of us exult in hearts full of hope
And hands full of mercy
And work together to build a culture of life. 

We pray through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Saint Peregrine Novena 2017 | Day 5

Saint Peregrine

January 20, 2017

Day 5 – Pray that our fear of death will turn to the hope of everlasting life.

Saint Peregrine is the patron saint of cancer patients. He was known for his holiness and for a miraculous healing he received. Peregrine was scheduled to have his leg amputated due to a cancerous growth. The night before the surgery, while praying for healing, he received a vision of Christ coming down from the cross to touch his leg. The following morning, he was completely healed. Cancer patients and those suffering from terminal diseases seek his intercession.

Dear holy servant of God, St. Peregrine, we pray today for healing.

Intercede for us! God healed you of cancer and others were healed by your prayers. Please pray for the physical healing of…

(Mention your intentions)

These intentions bring us to our knees seeking your intercession for healing.

We are humbled by our physical limitations and ailments. We are so weak and so powerless. We are completely dependent upon God. And so, we ask that you pray for us…

We know, St. Peregrine, that you are a powerful intercessor because your life was completely given to God. We know that in as much as you pray for our healing, you are praying even more for our salvation.

A life of holiness like yours is more important that a life free of suffering and disease. Pray for our healing, but pray even more that we might come as close to Our Lord as you are.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Click for information on this novena as well as daily email reminders.

Sts. Fabian and Sebastian, Early Martyrs for the Faith

Saint Fabian and Saint Sebastian
Saints Fabian and Sebastian, Giovanni di Paolo di Grazia, c. 1475.

January 20th, the Church celebrates the optional memorials of Pope Saint Fabian and Saint Sebastian. Both victims of Roman persecution, they were martyred on the same date, 37 years apart. They have been venerated together since their names were coupled in the first martyrologies (as in the Litany of Saints today).

Pope Saint Fabian (c. 200 – 250 AD)

The opening Mass of a papal conclave is intended not only to mark the beginning of a great and most solemn process, but to prepare the hearts and minds of the participants to act in accordance with the promptings of the Holy Spirit. At the conclave of 236 AD, a dove landed on the head of a layperson Fabian, who had traveled to Rome to see who would be selected. Fabian was unanimously chosen pope because everyone present saw the actions of the dove as a sign from God.

St. Fabian served 14 years as the Vicar of Christ, the majority of which were peaceful. Admired for his ability and virtue, he expanded the Church of Rome, dividing it into seven diaconates to better serve the faithful and assist the poor He is credited with returning to Rome the bodies of Pope Pontian and antipope Hippolytus, both of whom died while exiled in Sardinian. In so doing, he ended the de facto schism between the congregations they represented. Fabian also directed attention on preserving the catacombs, where the earliest Christians were buried. His contemporary and friend St. Cyprian, wrote of his tireless zeal.

Under Fabian, the Church flourished. However, this period of cordiality between the Church and the imperial authorities ended abruptly with the ascension of Emperor Decius. He demanded that all Christians renounce Christ and worship pagan idols. While some did, Pope Fabian stedfastly refused. According to the historian Eusebius, Fabian suffered martyrdom during the wave of Christian persecution under Decius. Popular piety attests that Fabian was decapitated. He was buried in the catacomb of Callixtus in Rome. His remains were removed to the basilica of St. Sebastian, and now rest in the Chapel dedicated in his honor.

Saint Sebastian (256 – 287 AD)

St. Sebastian has been widely venerated from the early centuries of the Church. During the Middle Ages, his intercession was highly invoked, particularly as a protector against the plague. St. Ambrose asserts the holy martyr was born in Milan. As Prefect of the Praetorian Guard, he was once a favorite of the Emperor Diocletian. His noble birth and personal bravery won him great respect, power and privilege. Unbeknownst to the emperor, Sebastian was a devout Christian who assisted his fellow Christians through good works, almsgiving and prayer.

When these things came to light, Diocletian sent for Sebastian and insisted he recant. The Divine Office has this account of the events surrounding Sebastian's martyrdom: "Diocletian tried by every means to turn Sebastian from the faith of Christ. After all efforts had proven fruitless, he ordered him tied to a post and pierced with arrows. When everyone thought him dead, a devout woman named Irene [of Rome, widow of St Castulus the martyr] arranged for his burial during the night; finding him still alive, she cared for him in her own house. After his recovery he appeared again before Diocletian and boldly rebuked him for his wickedness. Enraged by the saint's sharp words, the emperor ordered him scourged until he expired. His body was thrown into a sewer."

Tradition holds that St. Sebastian's remains were later retrieved and buried in the catacombs over which was built the basilica in his name, St. Sebastian's outside the walls. Additional remains believed to be those of Sebastian are found in the Basilica Apostolorum in Rome and the Benedictine abbey in Ebersberg, Germany, where St. Sebastian's cranium encased in silver is displayed for public veneration on his feast day. May the witness of these early martyrs, born into eternal life by the shedding of their blood, inspire us to be courageous in living out our Faith. O God, glory of your Priests, grant that, helped by the intercession of your Martyr St. Fabian, we may make progress by communion in the Faith and by our worthy service. Grant also, O Lord, a spirit of fortitude, so that, taught by the example of your Martyr St. Sebastian, we may learn to humbly obey you rather than men.

January 18, 2017

Novena of Reparation for Roe vs. Wade and an End to Abortion 2017 | Day 6

Our Lady of Guadalupe

January 19, 2017

While legislation and public witness are important to end abortion, our most powerful weapon is prayer. From the Priests for Life website:

The Catholic bishops of the United States have designated January 22 as a special day of prayer and penance in reparation for the massive killing that has resulted from the Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court decision [handed down January 22, 1973] which permitted abortion throughout a woman's pregnancy.

We at Priests for Life invite you to prepare spiritually for that day by joining a Novena that starts on January 14 and concludes on the 22nd. We invite you to say the following prayer each of those days, and to let us know [see end of post] that you have committed to say it.

Prayer of Reparation


God and Father of Life,
You have created every human person,
And have opened the way for each to have eternal life. 

We live in the shadow of death.
Tens of millions of your children have been killed
because of the Roe vs. Wade decision legalizing abortion. 

Father, have mercy on us.
Heal our land
And accept our offering of prayer and penance.
In your love for us,
Turn back the scourge of abortion.

May each of us exult in hearts full of hope
And hands full of mercy
And work together to build a culture of life. 

We pray through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Saint Peregrine Novena 2017 | Day 4

Saint Peregrine

January 19, 2017

Day 4 – Pray for us, that the loneliness of our suffering will be consoled.

Saint Peregrine is the patron saint of cancer patients. He was known for his holiness and for a miraculous healing he received. Peregrine was scheduled to have his leg amputated due to a cancerous growth. The night before the surgery, while praying for healing, he received a vision of Christ coming down from the cross to touch his leg. The following morning, he was completely healed. Cancer patients and those suffering from terminal diseases seek his intercession.

Dear holy servant of God, St. Peregrine, we pray today for healing.

Intercede for us! God healed you of cancer and others were healed by your prayers. Please pray for the physical healing of…

(Mention your intentions)

These intentions bring us to our knees seeking your intercession for healing.

We are humbled by our physical limitations and ailments. We are so weak and so powerless. We are completely dependent upon God. And so, we ask that you pray for us…

We know, St. Peregrine, that you are a powerful intercessor because your life was completely given to God. We know that in as much as you pray for our healing, you are praying even more for our salvation.

A life of holiness like yours is more important that a life free of suffering and disease. Pray for our healing, but pray even more that we might come as close to Our Lord as you are.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Click for information on this novena as well as daily email reminders.

The Bible's Teaching Against Abortion

The Annunciation to the Blessed Virgin Mary
 Annunciation to the Virgin Mary, the moment of our Savior's conception. 

Fr. Frank Pavone

The Bible clearly teaches that abortion is wrong. This teaching comes across in many ways and for many reasons. Some people point out that the word "abortion" is not in the Bible, and that is true. Nevertheless, the teaching about abortion is there. This is the case with many teachings. The word "Trinity" is not in the Bible, but the teaching about the Trinity is there. In any case, a person who wants to deny the teaching about abortion would deny it even if the word were there.

Let's look at some of the Biblical reasons why abortion, the deliberate destruction of a child in the womb, is very wrong.

1. The Bible teaches that human life is different from other types of life, because human beings are made in the very image of God.  

The accounts of the creation of man and woman in Genesis (Genesis 1:26-31; 2:4-25) tell us this: "God created man in his image; in the divine image he created him; male and female he created them" (Genesis 1:27).

The word "create" is used three times here, emphasizing a special crowning moment in the whole process of God's making the world and everything in it. The man and woman are given "dominion" over everything else in the visible world.

Not even the original sin takes away the image of God in human beings. St. James refers to this image and says that because of it we should not even speak ill of one another. "With [the tongue] we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings who are made in the image of God . . . This ought not be so, brothers" (James 3:9-10).

The image of God! This is what it means to be human! We are not just a bunch of cells randomly thrown together by some impersonal forces. Rather, we really reflect an eternal God who knew us from before we were made, and purposely called us into being.

At the heart of the abortion tragedy is the question raised in the Psalms: "Lord, what is man that you care for him, mortal man that you keep him in mind? . . . With glory and honor you crowned him, giving him power over the works of your hands" (Psalm 8:5-7).

There is the key. Not only did God make us, but He values us. The Bible tells us of a God who is madly in love with us, so much so that He became one of us and even died for us while we were still offending Him (see Romans 5:6-8). In the face of all this, can we say that human beings are disposable, like a car that is more trouble than it's worth? "God doesn't make junk." If you believe the Bible, you have to believe that human life is sacred, more sacred than we have ever imagined!

2. The Bible teaches that children are a blessing.  

God commanded our first parents to "Be fertile and multiply" (Genesis 1:28). Why? God Himself is fertile. Love always overflows into life. When the first mother brought forth the first child, she exclaimed, "I have brought forth a man with the help of the Lord" (Genesis 4:1). The help of the Lord is essential, for He has dominion over human life and is its origin. Parents cooperate with God in bringing forth life. Because this whole process is under God's dominion, it is sinful to interrupt it. The prophet Amos condemns the Ammonites "because they ripped open expectant mothers in Gilead" (Amos 1:13).

"Truly children are a gift from the Lord; the fruit of the womb is a reward" (Psalm 127:3).

3. The Bible teaches that the child in the womb is truly a human child, who even has a relationship with the Lord.  

The phrase "conceived and bore" is used repeatedly (see Genesis 4:1, 17) and the individual has the same identity before as after birth. "In sin my mother conceived me," the repentant psalmist says in Psalm 51:7. The same word is used for the child before and after birth (Brephos, that is, "infant," is used in Luke 1:41 and Luke 18:15.)

God knows the preborn child. "You knit me in my mother's womb . . . nor was my frame unknown to you when I was made in secret" (Psalm 139:13,15). God also helps and calls the preborn child. "You have been my guide since I was first formed . . . from my mother's womb you are my God" (Psalm 22:11-12). "God . . . from my mother's womb had set me apart and called me through his grace" (St. Paul to the Galatians 1:15).

4. Scripture repeatedly condemns the killing of the innocent.  

This flows from everything that has been seen so far. God's own finger writes in stone the commandment "Thou shalt not kill" (Exodus 20:13, Deuteronomy 5:17) and Christ reaffirms it (Matthew 19:18-notice that He mentions this commandment first). The Book of Revelation affirms that murderers cannot enter the kingdom of heaven (Revelation 22:15).

The killing of children is especially condemned by God through the prophets. In the land God gave his people to occupy, foreign nations had the custom of sacrificing some of their children in fire. God told His people that they were not to share in this sin. They did, however; as Psalm 106 relates: "They mingled with the nations and learned their works . . . They sacrificed their sons and their daughters to demons, and they shed innocent blood, the blood of their sons and their daughters, whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan, desecrating the land with bloodshed" (Psalm 106:35, 37-38).

This sin of child-sacrifice, in fact, is mentioned as one of the major reasons that the Kingdom of Israel was destroyed by the Assyrians and the people taken into exile. "They mutilated their sons and daughters by fire . . . till the Lord, in his great anger against Israel, put them away out of his sight" (2 Kings 17:17-18).

Not even for "religious freedom" can the killing of children be tolerated.

5. The Bible teaches that God is a God of justice.  

An act of justice is an act of intervention for the helpless, an act of defense for those who are too weak to defend themselves. In foretelling the Messiah, Psalm 72 says, "Justice shall flower in his days . . . for he shall rescue the poor man when he cries out and the afflicted when he has no one to help him" (Psalms 72:7, 12). Jesus Christ is our justice (1 Corinthians 1:30) because He rescued us from sin and death when we had none to help (see Romans 5:6, Ephesians 2:45).

If God does justice for His people, He expects His people to do justice for one another. "Be merciful as your heavenly Father is merciful" (Luke 6:36). "Go and do likewise" (Luke 10:37). "Do unto others as you would have them do to you" (Matthew 7:12). "Love one another" (John 15:17).

Abortion is the opposite of these teachings. It is a reversal of justice. It is a destruction of the helpless rather than a rescue of them. If God's people do not intervene to save those whose lives are attacked, then the people are not pleasing or worshiping Him.

God says through Isaiah, "Trample my courts no more! Bring no more worthless offerings . . . Your festivals I detest . . . When you spread out your hands, I close my eyes to you; though you pray the more, I will not listen. Your hands are full of blood! Wash yourselves clean . . . learn to do good. Make justice your aim: redress the wronged, hear the orphan's plea, defend the widow" (Isaiah 1:13-17).

Indeed, those who worship God but support abortion are falling into the same contradiction as God's people of old, and need to hear the same message.

6. Jesus Christ paid special attention to the poor, the despised, and those whom the rest of society considered insignificant.  

He broke down the false barriers that people set up among themselves, and instead acknowledged the equal human dignity of every individual, despite what common opinion might say. Hence we see Him reach out to children despite the efforts of the apostles to keep them away (Matthew 19:13-15); to tax collectors and sinners despite the objections of the Scribes (Mark 2:16); to the blind despite the warnings of the crowd (Matthew 20:29-34); to a foreign woman despite the utter surprise of the disciples and of the woman herself (John 4:9, 27); to Gentiles despite the anger of the Jews (Matthew 21:41-46); and to the lepers, despite their isolation from the rest of society (Luke 17:11-19).

When it comes to human dignity, Christ erases distinctions. St. Paul declares, "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave or free person, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:28).

We can likewise say, "There is neither born nor unborn." Using this distinction as a basis for the value of life or the protection one deserves is meaningless and offensive to all that Scripture teaches. The unborn are the segment of our society which is most neglected and discriminated against. Christ Himself surely has a special love for them. Continue reading this article in full.

January 17, 2017

Novena of Reparation for Roe vs. Wade and an End to Abortion 2017 | Day 5

Our Lady of Guadalupe

January 18, 2017

While legislation and public witness are important to end abortion, our most powerful weapon is prayer. From the Priests for Life website:

The Catholic bishops of the United States have designated January 22 as a special day of prayer and penance in reparation for the massive killing that has resulted from the Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court decision [handed down January 22, 1973] which permitted abortion throughout a woman's pregnancy.

We at Priests for Life invite you to prepare spiritually for that day by joining a Novena that starts on January 14 and concludes on the 22nd. We invite you to say the following prayer each of those days, and to let us know [see end of post] that you have committed to say it.

Prayer of Reparation


God and Father of Life,
You have created every human person,
And have opened the way for each to have eternal life. 

We live in the shadow of death.
Tens of millions of your children have been killed
because of the Roe vs. Wade decision legalizing abortion. 

Father, have mercy on us.
Heal our land
And accept our offering of prayer and penance.
In your love for us,
Turn back the scourge of abortion.

May each of us exult in hearts full of hope
And hands full of mercy
And work together to build a culture of life. 

We pray through Christ our Lord. Amen.

TOB Tuesday: St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body Corrects the Sexual Revolution's Mistakes


Editor's note: Each Tuesday we will feature posts discussing Saint John Paul the Great's Theology of the Body; his reflection on our nature and life as persons made in the image and likeness of God, conjugal love, the meaning of celibacy, and the eternal beatitude to which every human being is called.
____________________________

The Renaissance, Reformation, Enlightenment, and Scientific Revolution caused social upheaval, cataclysmic shifts in thinking, and the democratization of knowledge, making all that came before seem antiquated, authoritarian, incomplete, or irrelevant. The world and how people viewed it changed. Written in 1611, the words of poet John Donne could apply to all of the aforementioned:
(The) new Philosophy calls all in doubt,
The Element of fire is quite put out;
The Sun is lost, and th'earth, and no man's wit,
Can well direct him where to look for it.
Of particular note is French philosopher René Descartes. Published in 1637, his treatise, Discourse on the Method, attempts to establish a set of principles that are certain beyond doubt. The result would turn philosophy on its head. His famous statement: "I think therefore I am," marks a radical departure from the objective view of reality held by Augustine and Aquinas.

This departure is so radical, Descartes’ philosophy (known as Cartesian philosophy), is a dividing line. Philosophers before him (Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, and Aquinas) are pre-Cartesian; everyone after (Kant, Mill, Nietzsche, Sartre, Husserl, etc.) is a post-Cartesian. Pre-Cartesian schools of thought are objective, deductive, and principled. Post-Cartesian philosophy is largely subjective, deriving from personal experience, feelings, and perceptions.

"I think therefore I am."

Descartes observes that sometimes our senses deceive us. When a straw is placed in a glass of water the water’s refractive properties make the straw appear bent. This optical illusion is precisely that, an illusion. How can we know what is real with certainty, Descartes asks, if we cannot always trust our senses? Because our senses are fallible in his search for certitude Descartes employs "hyperbolical doubt." In other words, for Descartes nothing is certain – not even reality itself.

The fact that he can doubt, however, means something or someone exists to do the doubting. His mind thinks, in this case about doubt. Consequently, Descartes arrives at the first certainty, his famous "Cogito ergo sum," "I think therefore I am."

Descartes goes on to prove that God exists and that He is benevolent. Nonetheless, the foundation of Descartes’ philosophical system is man. Man or man’s mind is the ultimate source of everything. Man determines morality, knowledge, meaning, and reality; to the extent it can be known. That natural law (God’s law written in our hearts), could be the source of civil law or a universal morality, an idea central to Augustine and Aquinas, is all but abandoned.

After Descartes, truth is no longer objective. It resides in and is established by the individual. Morality, therefore, cannot be universal. Each person decides for himself what is right. This represented a revolution in philosophy that abandoned objective reality, moral norms and absolute truth as previously understood.  

Immanuel Kant

The German philosopher, Immanuel Kant, is considered the central figure of modern philosophy. Much like Descartes, Kant, was a pious man whose intentions seemed noble. The primary aim of his philosophical efforts was to restore human dignity to its rightful place in a world that increasingly worshipped science. Kant described his philosophy as "clearing away the pretensions of reason to make room for faith". His most important work, The Critique of Pure Reason, was dry, impenetrable and immensely influential in its assertion that reason is the source of morality (not God). In his Critique, Kant states:
The conviction [of faith] is not a logical but a moral certainty; and because it rests on subjective bases (of the moral attitude), I must not even say, It is morally certain that there is a God, etc., but I must say, I am morally certain, etc.
Kant’s philosophy allows individuals to choose their own visions for morality, since moral truth (according to Kant) cannot be arrived at using theoretical reason. Each individual’s conscience acts as a personal "lawmaker" for subjective morality. Kant’s assertion destroyed Aquinas’ medieval synthesis of faith and reason. It also directly contradicted the Church’s understanding that moral norms are discovered in objective truth as found in the natural law, not the creations of an individual’s conscience. Hence, more than any other thinker, Kant is responsible for making morality a matter of subjective opinion not objective truth.

Moreover, the modern-day notion that faith and reason are contradictory not complementary is largely owed to Kant who believed it was impossible for religion to be the subject of reason, evidence, argument, or even knowledge. Rather, religion was a question of feelings, motives and attitudes. The consequences of this shift in thinking have been catastrophic. Peter Kreeft notes:
[Kant’s] assumption has deeply influenced the minds of most religious educators (e.g., catechism writers and theology departments) today, who have turned their attention away from the plain "bare bones" of faith, the objective facts narrated in Scripture and summarized in the Apostles' Creed. They have divorced the faith from reason and married it to pop psychology, because they've bought into Kant's philosophy.
Kant's understanding of morality as personal, subjective and emotional finalized what Descartes had begun and helped to shape a new worldview. That worldview, our own, is subjective (based on feelings and opinions), inductive (moving from specific instances to general assumptions), and experimental (proof is everything whether in the laboratory or our everyday lives). It would give rise to skepticism, existentialism, nihilism, Freudian psychology, and secular humanism, among others, affecting government, law, culture, and religion.

The "new Philosophy" called all in doubt, leaving nothing to give man his bearings, direction, or purpose. Moral relativism replaced moral absolutes. Science, technology, material affluence, sexual permissiveness, and the threat of nuclear annihilation brought new concerns. Increasingly, the person was seen as a "something," not a "someone," to be indoctrinated, exploited, or used. A new synthesis of faith and reason would be needed to respond to these developments.

Phenomenology

At the beginning of the 20th century a new school of thought, phenomenology, would reestablish the link severed by Cartesian philosophy and Kantian ethics between man and the world at large. Phenomenologists use the subjective experiences of persons to understand reality. Two in particular, Edmund Husserl and Max Scheler, would influence later thinkers responding to totalitarianism, Marxist ideology, genocide, materialism, war on an unprecedented scale, and more.

Broadly speaking, phenomenology (from the Greek phainómenon, "that which appears" and logos, “to study"), sees objects and events around us as understandable only through the person’s consciousness. By examining human consciousness (the collective experience of persons), an awareness of the world (objective reality), in which persons exist and act could emerge. The result is that things viewed subjectively can now be studied objectively.

Descartes tears man out of objective reality, making moral absolutes impossible. Karol Wojtyla (the future Pope John Paul II), restores man firmly at the center of reality, making moral absolutes essential. Like Augustine and Aquinas before him, Wojtyla confirms the fundamental harmony between faith and reason. Using phenomenology and Sacred Scripture, he affirms objective moral truth and the dignity of persons, who are shaped by and responsible for their actions.

The fruit of this synthesis, John Paul’s Theology of the Body, is a reflection on our nature and life as persons made in the image and likeness of God, conjugal love, the meaning of celibacy, and the beatitude to which every human being is called. This is the Holy Father’s catechesis for a culture where sex is an obsession, marriage and families are endangered, and the dignity of persons is denied. Teaching about human sexuality using language subjective, inductive, experimental minds can understand, the Theology of the Body is a light in the darkness, guiding us toward an authentic vision of the person as divine gift.

Saint Peregrine Novena 2017 | Day 3

Saint Peregrine

January 18, 2017

Day 3 – Pray for us, that we may courageously offer up our suffering

Saint Peregrine is the patron saint of cancer patients. He was known for his holiness and for a miraculous healing he received. Peregrine was scheduled to have his leg amputated due to a cancerous growth. The night before the surgery, while praying for healing, he received a vision of Christ coming down from the cross to touch his leg. The following morning, he was completely healed. Cancer patients and those suffering from terminal diseases seek his intercession.

Dear holy servant of God, St. Peregrine, we pray today for healing.

Intercede for us! God healed you of cancer and others were healed by your prayers. Please pray for the physical healing of…

(Mention your intentions)

These intentions bring us to our knees seeking your intercession for healing.

We are humbled by our physical limitations and ailments. We are so weak and so powerless. We are completely dependent upon God. And so, we ask that you pray for us…

We know, St. Peregrine, that you are a powerful intercessor because your life was completely given to God. We know that in as much as you pray for our healing, you are praying even more for our salvation.

A life of holiness like yours is more important that a life free of suffering and disease. Pray for our healing, but pray even more that we might come as close to Our Lord as you are.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Click for information on this novena as well as daily email reminders.

Homily | The 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, January 22, 2017, Year A

The Calling of Saints Peter and Andrew by Jesus
Detail, The Calling of Saints Peter and Andrew, Caravaggio, 1603–1606.

Fr. René J. Butler, M.S.
Provincial Superior, La Salette Missionaries of North America
Hartford, Connecticut


One of the most beautiful texts in the whole Bible reads: “Wherever you go I will go, wherever you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people and your God, my God. Where you die I will die, and there be buried.” 

People are sometimes surprised to learn that these words are not spoken between two lovers. They are the words of Ruth, to her mother-in-law, and simply mean: I will never leave you. 

That hardly matters. The classical musical setting by Gounod is often heard at weddings. The Weston Priory version is sung by the monks to each other as a pledge of mutual fidelity in their monastic life. The text suits any commitment of persons to each other. 

The response of Simon, Andrew, James, and John to the call of Jesus seems to have been wordless. They just left their family and way of life, and followed him, presumably in the spirit of that passage from the book of Ruth. Three years later, however, at the arrest of Jesus in Gethsemane, we read: “Then all the disciples left him and fled.” 

What happened? In that moment they took their eyes off him and thought only of themselves. 

Paul had to deal with something similar among the Christians of Corinth. At least three persons had preached the Gospel to them, and they thought this made a difference. There were rivalries based not on difference of teaching but on the fundamentally irrelevant difference of teachers! I am reminded of a family episode I witnessed many years ago where two children were fighting over which TV channel to watch. Both channels carried the same program! 

With the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul we have just concluded the week of prayer for the Unity of Christians. The hostility among different Christian groups is, thanks be to God, not what it once was, but Unity is a long way off. 

Paul’s response to the crisis in Corinth was to direct attention back to Jesus. “Was Paul crucified for you?” he asks. We could compare those Christians to the people in the first reading who “have seen a great light.” But the Corinthians seemed to be turning away from the light. 

Ecumenism has faded in recent decades. There were fewer joint Christian prayer services this past week than there used to be. Even common Thanksgiving services are becoming a thing of the past in some areas. 

What is the best approach to foster Christian Unity? It can’t be “My Church is better than your Church.” It can’t be “We all believe in the same God, there’s really not much difference.” Rather, as Catholics, we need to be the best Catholics we can be; our Lutheran brothers need to be the best Lutherans they can be; and so with Evangelicals, and all the rest: we all need to be the best Christians we know how to be, within our particular tradition. That means being faithful to Christ first; only he can lead us to a unity we can’t really imagine. 

Saint Richard of Chichester, who died in 1253, is best known today for a prayer he composed: “O most merciful redeemer, friend and brother, may I know thee more clearly, love thee more dearly, and follow thee more nearly, day by day.” That means knowing him, loving him, following him, not wondering or worrying if others are knowing, loving or following in exactly the same way. 

Combining this with our opening quotation, let our prayer to the Lord this day be, “Wherever you go, I will go, ... day by day by day by day by day.”

2017 Week of Prayer for the Unity of Christians

.

Sunday, January 15th, marked the beginning of the "2017 Week of Prayer for the Unity of Christians". The current octave of prayer for the promotion of unity takes its impetus from 2 Corinthians 5:14-20, the words of St. Paul to the Corinthians:

"For the love of Christ impels us, once we have come to the conviction that one died for all; therefore, all have died. 15 He indeed died for all, so that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. 16 Consequently, from now on we regard no one according to the flesh; even if we once knew Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know him so no longer. 17 So whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come. 18 And all this is from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ and given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 namely, God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting their trespasses against them and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 So we are ambassadors for Christ, as if God were appealing through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God"

This biblical text emphasizes that reconciliation is a gift from God, intended for the entire creation. "God was reconciling the world (kosmos) to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us" (v. 19). As a result of God's action, the person who has been reconciled in Christ is called in turn to proclaim this reconciliation in word and deed: "The love of Christ compels us" (v. 14). "So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God" (v. 20). The text stresses that this reconciliation is not without sacrifice. Jesus gives his life; he died for all. The ambassadors of reconciliation are called, in his name, to give their lives similarly, for the good of all. They must no longer live solely for themselves; they must live for him who died for them.

Prayer for Christian Unity

Eternal Father, God of all goodness, we praise you for sending your Son to be one of us, and for reconciling us and the whole world to yourself in Christ. Look upon your people with mercy, for we are divided in so many ways, and give us the Spirit of Jesus to make us one in love. Heal our hearts and help us to spread your peace. We ask for this gift, loving Father, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For more see the Pontifical Council for the of Promoting Christian Unity.

January 16, 2017

St. Anthony of Egypt on Living as a Disciple of Christ

St. Anthony of Egypt

St. Anthony, the "Father of Monks", sought perfect solitude in the desert at the age of 18. Laying the foundations of monastic life, he instructed his disciples to live lives of severe mortification and prayer; the basis of Christian asceticism. The following ten quotations from St. Anthony the Great, demonstrate his great wisdom and profound insight into living as disciples in imitation of Jesus Christ.
Believe me; the devil fears the vigils of pious souls, and their fastings, their voluntary poverty, their loving compassion, their humility, but most of all their ardent love of Christ our Lord. As soon as he sees the sign of the Cross, he flees in terror. 
*** 
Let it be your supreme and common purpose not to grow weary in the work you have begun, and in time of trial and affliction not to lose courage and say: Oh, how long already have we been mortifying ourselves! Rather, we should daily begin anew and constantly increase our fervor. For man's whole life is short when measured against the time to come, so short, in fact, that it is as nothing in comparison with eternity...
*** 
Do not be astonished if an emperor writes to us, for he is a man, But rather, wonder that God wrote the Law for men, and has spoken to us through his own Son.
***
If we live with the picture of death always before our eyes, we will not sin. The apostle's words tell us that we should so awaken in the morning as though we would not live to evening, and so fall asleep as if there were to be no awakening. For our life is by nature uncertain and is daily meted out to us by Providence. If we are convinced of this and live each day as the apostle suggests, then we will not fall into sin; no desire will enslave us, no anger move us, no treasure bind us to earth; we will await death with unfettered hearts.
 *** 
If we make every effort to avoid death of the body, still more should it be our endeavor to avoid death of the soul. There is no obstacle for a man who wants to be saved other than negligence and laziness of soul.
*** 
The truly intelligent man pursues one sole objective: to obey and to conform to the God of all. With this single aim in view, he disciplines his soul, and whatever he may encounter in the course of his life, he gives thanks to God for the compass and depth of His providential ordering of all things. For it is absurd to be grateful to doctors who give us bitter and unpleasant medicines to cure our bodies, and yet to be ungrateful to God for what appears to us to be harsh, not grasping that all we encounter is for our benefit and in accordance with His  providence. For knowledge of God and faith in Him is the salvation and perfection of the soul.
***
Whoever has not experienced temptation cannot enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. Without temptations no-one can be saved.
***
What is slander? It is every sort of wicked word we would dare not speak in front of the person whom we are complaining about.
***
This is the great work of man: always to take the blame for his own sins before God and to expect temptation to his last breath.
***
Learn to love humility, for it will cover all your sins. All sins are repulsive before God, but the most repulsive of all is pride of the heart. Do not consider yourself learned and wise; otherwise, all your efforts will be destroyed, and your boat will reach the harbor empty. If you have great authority, do not threaten anyone with death. Know that, according to nature, you too are susceptible to death, and that every soul sheds its body as its final garment.

Novena of Reparation for Roe vs. Wade and an End to Abortion 2017 | Day 4

Our Lady of Guadalupe

January 17, 2017

While legislation and public witness are important to end abortion, our most powerful weapon is prayer. From the Priests for Life website:

The Catholic bishops of the United States have designated January 22 as a special day of prayer and penance in reparation for the massive killing that has resulted from the Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court decision [handed down January 22, 1973] which permitted abortion throughout a woman's pregnancy.

We at Priests for Life invite you to prepare spiritually for that day by joining a Novena that starts on January 14 and concludes on the 22nd. We invite you to say the following prayer each of those days, and to let us know [see end of post] that you have committed to say it.

Prayer of Reparation


God and Father of Life,
You have created every human person,
And have opened the way for each to have eternal life. 

We live in the shadow of death.
Tens of millions of your children have been killed
because of the Roe vs. Wade decision legalizing abortion. 

Father, have mercy on us.
Heal our land
And accept our offering of prayer and penance.
In your love for us,
Turn back the scourge of abortion.

May each of us exult in hearts full of hope
And hands full of mercy
And work together to build a culture of life. 

We pray through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Saint Peregrine Novena 2017 | Day 2

Saint Peregrine

January 17, 2017

Day 2 – Pray for us, that we may persevere in hope

Saint Peregrine is the patron saint of cancer patients. He was known for his holiness and for a miraculous healing he received. Peregrine was scheduled to have his leg amputated due to a cancerous growth. The night before the surgery, while praying for healing, he received a vision of Christ coming down from the cross to touch his leg. The following morning, he was completely healed. Cancer patients and those suffering from terminal diseases seek his intercession.

Dear holy servant of God, St. Peregrine, we pray today for healing.

Intercede for us! God healed you of cancer and others were healed by your prayers. Please pray for the physical healing of…

(Mention your intentions)

These intentions bring us to our knees seeking your intercession for healing.

We are humbled by our physical limitations and ailments. We are so weak and so powerless. We are completely dependent upon God. And so, we ask that you pray for us…

We know, St. Peregrine, that you are a powerful intercessor because your life was completely given to God. We know that in as much as you pray for our healing, you are praying even more for our salvation.

A life of holiness like yours is more important that a life free of suffering and disease. Pray for our healing, but pray even more that we might come as close to Our Lord as you are.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Click for information on this novena as well as daily email reminders.

Saint Anthony of Egypt, Abbot, "Father of All Monks"

Saint Anthony of Egypt
Saint Anthony [of Egypt], Fra Angelico, 1436.

January 17th, is the memorial of Saint Anthony of Egypt (c 251-356), also known as St. Anthony the Great, Anthony of the Desert, or Anthony the Anchorite. the 4th century hermit, abbot and Desert Father credited as the father of Christian monasticism. While not the first ascetic, he did inspire a new ideal; achieving spiritual growth by practicing extreme self-denial in the desert. His life of prayer and mortification in imitation of our Lord exercised a profound influence upon proceeding generations. He is venerated in both the Eastern and Western Church, especially amongst Egypt's Coptic Christians, whose language (Coptic) he spoke.

Anthony was born in Coma, Egypt (near Cairo) in 251 to a wealthy family. At the age of 20, his parents died, leaving him with the care of his unmarried sister. Following their untimely deaths, Anthony dedicated himself to studying Scripture and discerning God’s will. One day at Mass, he heard these words from the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 19: "If you wish to be perfect, go sell what you have and give it to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come follow me." Anthony said later, it seemed as if Christ was speaking to him personally.

In response, Anthony obeyed the Savior's command to the letter. Placing his sister in the care of religious women, he gave his inheritance to the needy, and lived in the desert as a hermit. For 15 years, he residing in a tomb near the village of Coma where he was attacked by demons who tempted with impure desires. Eventually, seeking greater solitude, he withdrew to the mountain called Pispir (present day Der el Memun), and continued his practice of rigid self-denial. During this time, he interacted with no one except for a handful of his disciples.

In letters to his followers, St. Anthony explained his reason for rejecting worldly comforts: "Let us not think as we look at the world that we have renounced anything of much consequence for the whole earth is very small compared with heaven. Therefore, let the desire of possession take hold of no one. For what gain is it to acquire those things which we cannot take with us afterwards when we die we shall leave them behind very often to those to whom we do not wish. Why not, rather, get those things which we can take with us; prudence, justice, temperance, courage, under-standing, love, kindness to the poor, faith in Christ, freedom from wrath, hospitality. If we possess these, we shall find that they will prepare for us a welcome there in the land of the weak-hearted."

In 305, Anthony ended his self imposed solitude to shepherd the community of hermits that had grown around him. His decision to be a spiritual father, or "Abbot" was the beginning of Christian monasticism. In 311, he journeyed to Alexandria to help oppose the Arian heresy. The rest of his life was divided between prayer, manual work and the instruction of his fellow ascetics. Popular piety attests he lived to be 105 years old. Anthony requested that he be buried secretly in an unmarked grave. Almighty God, who brought the Abbot Saint Anthony to serve you by a wondrous way of life in the desert, grant, through his intercession, that, denying ourselves, we may always love you above all things.