August 22, 2017

Saint Monica Novena 2017 | Day 6

St. Monica

August 23, 2017

Today we pray for all those who feel abandoned by God for whatever reason, for those waiting for answers to prayer, and for those who are suffering and do not yet see the reasons behind what God is working in their lives. May they be granted the grace of unwavering faith through Saint Monica's holy intercession.

St. Monica Novena - Day 6

Dear Saint Monica, you were once the mournful mother of a prodigal son. Your faithfulness to prayer brought you and your son so close to God that you are now with him in eternity. By your intercession and God’s grace, your son St. Augustine became a great and venerable Saint of the Church. Please take my request to God with the same fervor and persistence with which you prayed for your son.

(Mention your intentions here)

With your needs, worries and anxieties, you threw yourself on the mercy and providence of God. Through sorrow and pain, you constantly devoted yourself to God. Pray for me that I might join you in such a deep faith in God’s goodness and mercy.

Above all, dear Saint Monica, pray for me that I may, like your son, turn from my sin and become a great saint for the glory of God. Amen.

Click for more on this novena and daily email reminders delivered to your inbox.

Saint Rose of Lima, Virgin and Mystic

Saint Rose of Lima

Optional Memorial - August 23rd

Saint Rose of Lima, (1586-1617), a member of the Third Order of St. Dominic, was the "first blossom of sanctity that South America gave to the world." Hers was a life heroic in virtue and penance. She expiated the evils perpetrated by the conquerors of the land in their lust for gold. Her life was a silent sermon of penance. Pope Clement X stated in the bull of canonization: "Since the discovery of Peru no missionary has arisen who effected a similar popular zeal for the practice of penance."

Already as a five-year-old child, Rose vowed her innocence to God. While still a young girl, she practiced mortifications and fasts that vastly exceeded ordinary discretion; during all of Lent she ate no bread, but subsisted on five citron seeds a day. In addition, she suffered repeated attacks from the devil, painful bodily ailments, and from her family, scoldings and calumnies. All this she accepted serenely, remarking to a friend that she was treated better than she deserved.

For fifteen years she patiently endured the severest spiritual abandonment and aridity. In reward came heavenly joys, the comforting companionship of her holy guardian angel and of the Blessed Virgin. August 24, 1617, proved to be the day "on which the paradise of her heavenly Bridegroom unlocked itself to her."

St. Rose is said to have predicted the date of her own death. Her solemn funeral was attended by the public authorities of Lima and hundreds of its citizens. She was beatified in 1668 by Pope Clement IX and canonized by Pope Clement X in 1671. O God, You set Saint Rose of Lima on fire with your love, so that, secluded from the world in the austerity of a life of penance, she might give herself to you alone; grant, we pray, that through her intercession, we may tread the paths of life on earth and experience eternal Beatitude with You in heaven. Amen.

Adapted and expanded from The Church's Year of Grace, Fr. Pius Parsch.

Pope Benedict XVI on the Queenship of Mary

Mary, the Mother of God
Devotion to Our Lady is an important part of spiritual life. In our prayer, we should not fail to turn to her, confident that Mary will intercede for us with her Son. Looking upon her, let us imitate her faith, her complete openness to the loving plan of God, her generous welcoming of Jesus. We learn to live from Mary. [Mary is continually] watching over us, her children, the children who come to her in prayer, to thank her or to ask for her maternal protection and heavenly help, perhaps after having lost their way, burdened with grief or anguish amid the sad and troubled vicissitudes of life.
— Pope Benedict XVI, address to pilgrims, August 22, 2012

Prayer For Our Lady's Intercession

Almighty ever-living God, who made the Mother of your Son to be our Mother and our Queen, graciously grant that, sustained by her most loving intercession, we may attain in the heavenly Kingdom the glory you promised to your children. This we humbly pray through our Lord Jesus Christ, your only Son, who lives and reigns with you in union with the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

August 21, 2017

Why It is Proper to Call Mary Queen

For those familiar with monarchy like the kind predominate in Europe, the idea that the Blessed Virgin Mary is Queen of Heaven and Earth might seem odd. In Western monarchies, the king and queen are typically husband and wife. By this standard, Mary the Mother of God would have no claim to such a designation. That Catholics have long accorded to her the solemn title "Queen" has even prompted Protestant accusations that Catholics divinize the Mother of Christ.

In ancient Middle Eastern monarchies, kings had numerous wives as well as concubines. The greatest kings of the Davidic Kingdom were no exception. The Bible names eight wives of King David and acknowledges many more – although the exact number is not known. 1st Kings 11:1-3 indicates King Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines. Amid such rampant polygamy, to bestow upon a wife the honor of being queen would doubtless cause envy, disappointment and recrimination among those in the royal harem not chosen.

Israel's kings had many wives, but only one mother. It was she who served as queen. Scriptural and non scriptural sources attest that the Queen Mother was a fixed office, second only to the king in prestige. While her status evoked respect, the Queen Mother had little power, apart from interceding on behalf of others with the king, to whom she was subject.

The Queen Mother was also a trusted advisor. She alone could appeal to the sovereign's heart in a uniquely privileged manner. Then as now, many advisors exploited their positions for personal advancement and gain. On account of her familial relationship, the Queen Mother was rarely so persuaded. Queen Mothers interceed and advise numerous times in the Bible.

Chapter 31 in the Book of Proverbs briefly mentions a King Lemuel. The opening verse explains that Lemuel's mother imparted her wisdom to him as only a mother could do. That advice is most remarkable for its day. It reads in part:
It is not for kings, O Lemuel,
it is not for kings to drink wine,
or for rulers to desire strong drink;
lest they drink and forget what has been decreed,
and pervert the rights of all the afflicted.
[ ... ]
Open your mouth in behalf of the dumb,
and for the rights of the destitute;
Open your mouth, decree what is just,
defend the needy and poor!
Elsewhere in the Old Testament, Queen Mothers intercede with their sons often. The kings in question always listen. In the first 1st Book of Kings, Bathsheba, the mother of King Solomon intercedes with her son in advocating for Adonijah:
Then Bathsheba went to King Solomon to speak to him for Adonijah, and the king stood up to meet her and paid her homage. Then he sat down upon his throne, and a throne was provided for the king’s mother, who sat at his right. She said, 'There is one small favor I would ask of you. Do not refuse me.' The king said to her, 'Ask it, my mother, for I will not refuse you.' (1 Kings 2:19-20)
Two things are evident from this passage: 1.) Solomon shows Bathsheba honor and deference. 2.) Bathsheba has standing before the King.

Reading further we see that Bathsheba's request (that Adonijah be given Solomon's concubine as his wife) is rejected. In ancient times, taking the king's concubine as your wife was an unequivocal claim on the throne. Solomon's reaction confirms this, "And why do you ask that Abishag the Shunamite be given to Adonijah? Ask the kingship for him as well, for he is my older brother!" (1 Kings 2:22)

Bathsheba's intercession is anything but innocuous. It is noteworthy that King Solomon does not grant her request. Things go worse for Adonijah who is killed by Benaiah that very day at Solomon's command.

Mary, the Mother of Christ the King

Jesus is the "Son of David", predicted by centuries of prophecy. The Kingdom proclaimed by Christ is a restoration of the Davidic Kingdom. The Kingdom of God in its ecclesiastical dimension is the Church on earth. More broadly, the Kingdom of God is the Church Militant, the Church Suffering and the Church Triumphant, awaiting fulfillment in the eternal wedding feast between Christ and the Church.

Mary's importance in bearing, raising and safeguarding Our Savior is undeniable. She also interceded with her Son on behalf of the newly married couple during the wedding at Cana, prompting Jesus' first miracle. Vatican II's Lumen Gentium eloquently expresses the Blessed Virgin Mary's unique role in the mystery of Christ and the Church:
53. The Virgin Mary, who at the message of the angel received the Word of God in her heart and in her body and gave Life to the world, is acknowledged and honored as being truly the Mother of God and Mother of the Redeemer. Redeemed by reason of the merits of her Son and united to Him by a close and indissoluble tie, she is endowed with the high office and dignity of being the Mother of the Son of God... (Lumen Gentium, Chapter VIII)
The Popes on the Queenship of Mary

The queenship of Mary is an ancient devotion long held by the Christian Church. The establishment of a particular day to celebrate Mary’s queenship, however, is a recent establishment. Pope Pius XII created the feast in 1954, and originally placed it on May 31, at the end of the month dedicated to Mary. “On that occasion he declared, “Mary is Queen more than any other creature for the elevation of her soul and for the excellence of gifts received. She never ceases to bestow all the treasures of her love and of her care on humanity.”

Pope Paul VI moved the feast to Aug. 22, so that it would fall eight days after the Solemnity of the Assumption to emphasize the close relationship between the royalty of Mary and her glorification in soul and body next to her Son in heaven. In his Apostolic Exhortation for the Right Ordering and Development of Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Marialis Cultus, the Holy Father wrote:
The solemnity of August 15 celebrates the glorious Assumption of Mary into heaven. It is a feast of her destiny of fullness and blessedness, of the glorification of her immaculate soul and of her virginal body, of her perfect configuration to the Risen Christ, a feast that sets before the eyes of the Church and of all mankind the image and the consoling proof of the fulfillment of their final hope, namely, that this full glorification is the destiny of all those whom Christ has made His brothers, having "flesh and blood in common with them" (Heb. 2:14; cf. Gal. 4:4). The Solemnity of the Assumption is prolonged in the celebration of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which occurs seven days later. On this occasion we contemplate her who, seated beside the King of ages, shines forth as Queen and intercedes as Mother. [18]
Pope Benedict XVI, reflecting on the queenship of Mary taught she is “queen in the service of God to humanity, …queen of the love that lives the gift of self to God (so as) to enter into the plan of salvation of man. …It is the queenship of Mary that we should turn to throughout life, so that from her Son we may receive every grace and mercy necessary for our journey along the roads of the world. To [Christ] who rules the world and holds the destinies of the universe we turn with confidence, through the Virgin Mary.”

Mary is the Mother of Christ, the "Son of David", King of the Universe. She is rightfully and by heavenly decree the Queen of Heaven and Earth. Our Lady intercedes unceasingly on our behalf with God. In the divine economy of our salvation, she has appeared in apparitions to various individuals on earth with messages of grace, warning and repentance. In her glorified body experiencing Beatitude, Mary prefigures our ultimate end, if we persevere in love. Let us pray to the Mother of God – and the Mother of us all, that she intercede for us always.

This article from June 2016 has been updated and expanded. It was originally posted as “Why is Mary Called Queen of Heaven & Earth?”

Saint Monica Novena 2017 | Day 5

St. Monica

August 22, 2017

Saint Monica's son, Saint Augustine, rejected the Faith for many years. Monica had such a strong devotion to Christ that she persevered in hope that her son would one day return to God. Her faithfulness was rewarded. Today we pray for those who have fallen away from the Faith. May they return soon to the Church.

St. Monica Novena - Day 5

Dear Saint Monica, you were once the mournful mother of a prodigal son. Your faithfulness to prayer brought you and your son so close to God that you are now with him in eternity. By your intercession and God’s grace, your son St. Augustine became a great and venerable Saint of the Church. Please take my request to God with the same fervor and persistence with which you prayed for your son.

(Mention your intentions here)

With your needs, worries and anxieties, you threw yourself on the mercy and providence of God. Through sorrow and pain, you constantly devoted yourself to God. Pray for me that I might join you in such a deep faith in God’s goodness and mercy.

Above all, dear Saint Monica, pray for me that I may, like your son, turn from my sin and become a great saint for the glory of God. Amen.

Click for more on this novena and daily email reminders delivered to your inbox.

Video: Pro-Choice Professor Makes Zero Sense

WARNINGIllogic Alert! If you value logical, empirically based argumentation, the dignity of persons as made in the image of God, or just plain human decency, the following video will offend you in multiple ways. Viewer discretion is advised.

Philosophy Time is a social media Q & A program aimed at Millennials covering everything from the nature of metaphor to the intricacies of how our society defines beauty. Here Prof. Liz Harman of Princeton University discusses the ethics of abortion with actor and director James Franco and Eliot Michaelson, a lecturer in the Department of Philosophy at King’s College London. It is painful to watch.

Prof. Harman employs circular reasoning, a logical fallacy in which one begins with what they are trying to end with - i.e., her premises and conclusion appear to be the same or nearly indistinguishable. Moreover, if you were to use the word "slave" instead of "fetus" in the professor's torchered argument, people would dismiss it as craven, illogical and demented. Polling suggests Millennials are the most pro-life generational demographic. This video might explain (in part) why.

Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Memorial -  August 22nd

With the certainty of faith we know that Jesus Christ is King in the full, literal, and absolute sense of the word; for He is true God and man. This does not, however, prevent Mary from sharing His royal prerogatives, though in a limited and analogous manner; for she was the Mother of Christ, and Christ is God; and she shared in the work of the divine Redeemer, in His struggles against enemies and in the triumph He won over them all. From this union with Christ the King she assuredly obtains so eminent a status that she stands high above all created things; and upon this same union with Christ is based that royal privilege enabling her to distribute the treasures of the kingdom of the divine Redeemer. And lastly, this same union with Christ is the fountain of the inexhaustible efficacy of her motherly intercession in the presence of the Son and of the Father.

Without doubt, then, does our holy Virgin possess a dignity that far transcends all other creatures. In the eyes of her Son she takes precedence over everyone else. In order to help us understand the preeminence that the Mother of God enjoys over all creation, it would help to remember that from the first moment of her conception the holy Virgin was filled with such a plenitude of grace as to surpass the graces enhancing all the saints. Recall what our predecessor Pius IX, of blessed memory, wrote in his Bull Ineflabilis Deus: "More than all the angels and all the saints has God ineffable freely endowed Mary with the fullness of the heavenly gifts that abound in the divine treasury; and she, preserving herself ever immaculately clean from the slightest taint of sin, attained a fullness of innocence and holiness so great as to be unthinkable apart from God Himself, a fullness that no one other than God will ever possess."

Spurred on by piety and faith, may we glory in being subject to the rule of the Virgin Mother of God; she bears the royal sceptre in her hand, while her heart is ever aflame with motherlove.

From Ad Caeli Reginam (On Proclaiming The Queenship Of Mary), Pius XII.

August 20, 2017

Saint Monica Novena 2017 | Day 4

St. Monica

August 21, 2017

Saint Monica is the patron saint of alcoholics. She understood from her own life experience that addiction begins with a single temptation. All temptations come from the Devil who is the father of lies and a cruel deceiver of men. Addition is the pursuit of a false idol, promising happiness. Its tragic consequences are despair, hopelessness and enslavement. Today, let us pray for those struggling with addiction, as well as for their loved ones. May they know hope and healing.

St. Monica Novena - Day 4

Dear Saint Monica, you were once the mournful mother of a prodigal son. Your faithfulness to prayer brought you and your son so close to God that you are now with him in eternity. By your intercession and God’s grace, your son St. Augustine became a great and venerable Saint of the Church. Please take my request to God with the same fervor and persistence with which you prayed for your son.

(Mention your intentions here)

With your needs, worries and anxieties, you threw yourself on the mercy and providence of God. Through sorrow and pain, you constantly devoted yourself to God. Pray for me that I might join you in such a deep faith in God’s goodness and mercy.

Above all, dear Saint Monica, pray for me that I may, like your son, turn from my sin and become a great saint for the glory of God. Amen.

Click for more on this novena and daily email reminders delivered to your inbox.

Pope St. Pius X’s Words Speak to the Church Today

Pope Saint Pius X

Perhaps the most eloquent testimony to Saint Pius X's life spent in the service of God is the inscription on his tomb in the crypt of the basilica of St. Peter's: “Born poor and humble of heart, Undaunted champion of the Catholic faith, Zealous to restore all things in Christ, Crowned a holy life with a holy death. Here are seven quotations from Pope St. Pius X that speak to the Church of today.

Truly we are passing through disastrous times, when we may well make our own the lamentation of the Prophet: “There is no truth, and there is no mercy, and there is no knowledge of God in the land” (Hosea 4:1). Yet in the midst of this tide of evil, the Virgin Most Merciful rises before our eyes like a rainbow, as the arbiter of peace between God and man.
God could have given us the Redeemer of the human race, and the Founder of the Faiths in another way than through the Virgin, but since Divine Providence has been pleased that we should have the Man-God through Mary, who conceived Him by the Holy Spirit and bore Him in her womb, it only remains for us to receive Christ from the hands of Mary.
My hope is in Christ, who strengthens the weakest by His Divine help. I can do all in Him who strengthens me. His Power is infinite, and if I lean on him, it will be mine. His Wisdom is infinite, and if I look to Him for counsel, I shall not be deceived. His Goodness is infinite, and if my trust is stayed in Him, I shall not be abandoned.
Let the storm rage and the sky darken – not for that shall we be dismayed. If we trust as we should in Mary, we shall recognize in her, the Virgin Most Powerful "who with virginal foot did crush the head of the serpent."
Holy communion is the shortest and surest way to Heaven. There are others, innocence, for instance, but that is for little children; penance, but we are afraid of it; generous endurance of the trials of life, but when they come we weep and ask to be spared. Once for all, beloved children, the surest, easiest, shortest way is by the Eucharist. It is so easy to approach the holy table, and there we taste the joys of Paradise.
The absolute and immutable truth preached by the apostles from the beginning may never be believed to be different, may never be understood in any other way. 
— Oath Against Modernism, promulgated by Pope Pius X


In the first year of his pontificate, 1903, His Holiness Pope Pius wrote:
Now the way to reach Christ is not hard to find: it is the Church. Rightly does Chrysostom inculcate: "The Church is thy hope, the Church is thy salvation, the Church is thy refuge." (Hom. de capto Euthropio, n. 6.) It was for this that Christ founded it, gaining it at the price of His blood, and made it the depositary of His doctrine and His laws, bestowing upon it at the same time an inexhaustible treasury of graces for the sanctification and salvation of men. You see, then, Venerable Brethren, the duty that has been imposed alike upon Us and upon you of bringing back to the discipline of the Church human society, now estranged from the wisdom of Christ; the Church will then subject it to Christ, and Christ to God.

O God, who to safeguard the Catholic faith and to restore all things in Christ, filled Pope Saint Pius X with heavenly wisdom and apostolic fortitude, graciously grant that, following his teaching and example, we may gain eternal life with you. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you, Amen.

Pope St. Pius X, Undaunted Champion of the Faith

Pope Saint Pius X

Memorial - August 21st

St, Pius X did great things for the Church during his relatively brief pontificate — he was pope from 1903 until 1914. He is perhaps best remembered as the "pope of the Eucharist," because he transformed the way ordinary Catholics regarded reception of Holy Communion. Among the modifications he introduced included lowering the age at which children received their first Communion to seven, the "age of reason." He believed that earlier reception of the Eucharist would lead to an earlier and deepened devotion to Jesus Christ in the most Blessed Sacrament.

He was born Giuseppe Melchiorre Sarto on June 2, 1835, in the village of Riese near Venice, Italy, the second of ten children to a poor postman and his wife. He was baptized the following day. Though exceedingly poor, his devout parents valued education. At every stage of study, Giuseppe's intelligence and high moral character attracted notice. On September 18, 1858, Father Sarto was ordained at the cathedral in Castelfranco. Though his father died when Giuseppe was 17, his mother lived long enough to see her son become a cardinal in the Church.

Despite the fact that he eventually rose beyond that office to become the Bishop of Rome, Pope Pius X never forgot his humble beginnings, “I was born poor, I lived poor, and I will die poor,” he observed — and was frequently embarrassed by the trappings of his office. “Look how they have dressed me up,” he once said tearfully to a friend. It was his close acquaintance with life’s hardships and unhappiness that made him into the pope, and saint, he eventually became.

As a young priest, he recognized that many of the poor in the small Italian parishes he served were participating in the rites and devotions of the Church without understanding. For the rest of his life, he devoted large amounts of his time to the religious education of the faithful, both adults and children. He sponsored the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, or CCD, which is now an integral part of the educational program of Catholic parishes around the world. He encouraged Catholics who were in the habit of receiving Communion once a year, to receive the sacrament weekly, if not daily. He also sought to revitalize liturgical music, especially Gregorian chant, to improve the quality of worship.

He became involved in the political events of his day, ending the supposed “right of governments to interfere by veto in papal elections,” a controversial practice that dated from the Middle Ages. When, in 1905, France threatened to confiscate Church property if the government were not allowed to control Church affairs, Pius X refused to back down. Instead, he insisted that Church property be turned over to the government voluntarily rather than permit French authorities to control matters rightfully within the Church’s domain. This move would greatly rejuvenate both the spirituality and morale of the beleaguered French Church.

The Modernist crisis in biblical exegesis occurred during his pontificate. At that time, Protestant and Catholic scholars were exploring the meaning of Scripture using new methods of historical and literary criticism. Such methodology produced erroneous conclusions that called into question many dogmas about Christ and the Church. In response, Pope Pius X published a strongly worded encyclical, “Pascendi dominici gregis,” denouncing the Modernist heresy. While some observers viewed this as an overreaction, the pope’s prudence saved the Church from going down paths that would have compromised its basic teachings.

To his great distress, Pius witnessed the outbreak of the First World War. “This is the last affliction the Lord will visit upon me,” he said prophetically,. “I would gladly give my life to save my poor children from this ghastly scourge.” A few weeks after hostilities commenced, Pope Pius X died. Although he held office for only eleven years, he ranks as one of the greatest reforming popes in history since Trent. He was canonized in 1954 by Pope Pius XII. St. Pius X, pray for us!

Homily for the 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time, August 27, 2017, Year A

Christ giving Peter the keys to the Kingdom

Fr. Charles Irvin
Senior Priest
Diocese of Lansing

We don’t often think of it, but the gospels are loaded with questions. Sometimes it seems like there are more questions than there are answers. Questions imply a quest, a search, and a hunger for knowledge. Genuine questions that is, not trick questions. The word “question” contains within it the word “quest.” That’s what Jesus liked… people who are in search for truth, who are questing for God.

So we find Jesus in today’s gospel asking: “Who do you say that I am?” And we find Simon Peter answering the question by identifying Jesus as the Son of God. Evidently Peter recognized something deep within Jesus that was divine, someone coming from God. But Peter came to that as a consequence of Jesus asking him a question. Jesus in response sees something deep within Peter that Peter couldn’t see for himself.

In a sense Jesus introduced Peter to himself. “Okay,” Jesus said, “you told me who I am. Now let me tell you who you are. You are Rock!” This quality was not, I am quite sure, something that Simon Peter recognized within himself. No doubt it was a big surprise, not only to Peter himself but also to all who knew him. Probably no one would have thought that about him. Nevertheless he was previously known as Simon and now, because of Jesus, he was entering into a new self-identity. It took long time, however, because Peter’s behavior with respect to Jesus was anything but solid and rock-like until after Christ’s resurrection.

All of this was typical of Jesus. Jesus judged differently, He went beyond appearances. We judge people by appearances… Jesus judges with penetrating insight. He went deep inside people and saw the best that was in them. Then He tried to get them to become aware of those wonderful qualities deep within themselves.

St. Augustine once said: “Dig deep enough in any person and you will find something divine.” That’s a perfect description of how Jesus works with us. Put Jesus one-on-one with any person and He will dig until He finds something God-like, something divine, within us. Then He will do everything He can to draw it out of us and into the open. We should do the same.

That’s what He did with the woman caught in the act of adultery. He saw something in her that was far deeper than her sinfulness. Underneath her worst He never doubted that there was something better. And when all her accusers had departed and only Jesus was left standing with her He did not condemn her even though He recognized her sins. She must have left His presence that day with a whole new vision of who she was. She finished that day with an entirely new identity… a new name for herself…a good name… and a whole new person with a new life ahead of her.

We all hear a lot of bad news about ourselves. We all have a little inner voice that constantly gives us bad news about ourselves. People around us sometimes give us bad news about ourselves. Jesus, on the other hand, comes to give us good news. The good news of Jesus Christ is all about who we really are and who we can become. The good news is this: inside each one of us there is the person God meant us to be. Deep within us is the person God our Father dreams we can be. Hopefully we will eventually come to see that. There’s an identity, a name that God has given you that is nothing but good. We don’t need to import anything from the outside. All of the skills and talents God originally gave us are still there. All of the personality traits are there. We simply need to become the person our Father always meant us to be, to bring out of ourselves the best that’s within us.

That’s what Peter eventually came to. But he couldn’t do it all by himself – he needed Jesus to draw it out, changing his name so that he could change his picture of himself. Remember that is what is involved when God gives us a name in our baptism, a name and an identity that comes from God our Father.

What I am sharing with you here isn’t just pop psychology. What I’m sharing with you is the notion that Jesus has given us the highest concept of God the world has ever known, a Father who created us to be like His Only Begotten Son.

Why in the world, then, do we depict God to be mean, angry, vengeful and capricious in how He gives us His love? Why do we depict God as being responsible for every disaster that befalls us? Most likely that’s because we image ourselves that way. We try to fashion God in our own image and likeness. We make God to be angry and condemning because that’s the way we see ourselves and others. We have a bad self-image, a rotten self-identity, and we’ve given God a bad name in the process. Jesus, however, has given us a picture of ourselves, an identity, that’s quite the opposite.

God is always forgiving, always trusting, always faithful, always loving. We’ve grown cynical and bitter, unloving, cold, and indifferent, if not actually mistrusting of others. Jesus counters by asking us to be like God – to forgive without limit, to trust others no matter how many times they disappoint us, to keep on loving no matter what, to keep on believing in the basic goodness within others no matter how they may appear to us on the surface. We, with Jesus, should always hate the sins of others but love other sinners just as much as God loves them. We need to regard them as He regards you and me.

Finally, Jesus calls us to live together as a family, a family that He calls His Church, a family of faith. He called it “my church”, and He declared that the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Hell vanishes in the face of love; the devils flee in the face of trusting, forgiving, believing, and hoping love. Jesus knows that we can’t be our best all alone, all by ourselves. The best within us is always brought out in loving relationships with others. No amount of evil can ever overcome any amount of love. That’s why the gates of hell are powerless in the face of it and we become like Rocks of Gibraltar, like St. Peter became the Rock, when we face of all of life’s storms thrown up against us.

This coming week we will all go out to face a very difficult world. Be kind to everyone you meet. Every one of them is fighting his or her own hard battle. There are many things in our world that appeal to the worst within us. That’s why it’s so important to hear the words that Jesus addressed to Peter as being addressed to us. We need to hear Jesus appealing to the best within us. He said to Simon: “You are rock.” Jesus is saying something similar to you and to me today in this Mass, in His Word that you have just heard in sacred scripture. It was written for you. Listen to what Jesus is saying to you, and then face each day of this coming week in the midst of our very troubled world, trying to remember just who it is Jesus says you are and who He meant you to be.

Saint Monica Novena 2017 | Day 3

St. Monica

August 20, 2017

Saint Monica endured a troubled marriage for many years. Through her suffering and prayer, she eventually converted her husband. Today let us pray for troubled marriages and for spouses who have no faith or have fallen away from the faith.

St. Monica Novena - Day 3

Dear Saint Monica, you were once the mournful mother of a prodigal son. Your faithfulness to prayer brought you and your son so close to God that you are now with him in eternity. By your intercession and God’s grace, your son St. Augustine became a great and venerable Saint of the Church. Please take my request to God with the same fervor and persistence with which you prayed for your son.

(Mention your intentions here)

With your needs, worries and anxieties, you threw yourself on the mercy and providence of God. Through sorrow and pain, you constantly devoted yourself to God. Pray for me that I might join you in such a deep faith in God’s goodness and mercy.

Above all, dear Saint Monica, pray for me that I may, like your son, turn from my sin and become a great saint for the glory of God. Amen.

Click for more on this novena and daily email reminders delivered to your inbox.

August 19, 2017

Homily for the 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time, August 20, 2017, Year A

Jesus and the Canaanite woman

Fr. Charles Irvin
Senior Priest
Diocese of Lansing

Today’s Gospel account contains one of the most memorable verbal duels recorded in the four Gospels, and one of the most important. We need to draw some golden nuggets out of this wonderful passage.

First of all, it is important to note that Jesus is speaking here to a woman, something rabbis back in those days did not do in public. Not only that, but she was a foreigner, a Canaanite woman from the area that these days we call Lebanon. The Jews and the Canaanites did not get along well at all.

Like the Magi, those wise men from the East that we find at Christ’s birth, this non-Jew presents herself to Jesus and addresses Him as “Son of David” as she begs His help for her daughter who is possessed by some mysterious inner demonic force.

In this account, there are three movements. The first involves Canaanite woman’s journey of faith. Leaving her own religion behind she turns to a Jewish rabbi, Jesus, and places her faith in Him. She looks to Him for a miraculous cure for her daughter.

For her trouble, she received silence from Jesus. She was rebuffed, humiliated, and given a cold shoulder from Him.

Jesus’ disciples, annoyed by the fact that she was bothering Him with her loud crying, seek to get rid of her. They want Jesus to send her away. So Jesus says to her, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

Then comes the second movement. The woman presses in on Jesus, and falling on her knees in front of Him she cries out, “Lord, help me.”

For her second effort Jesus tells her, “It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.”

How utterly humiliating. In effect, He was calling her a dog! Her humility was turned into what appeared to be a terrible humiliation. People in the Middle East are very sensitive about such things. We are very aware of that in our dealings with them in our time.

Then comes the final movement. In abject humility with her face in the dirt, stripped of her dignity, having abandoned her own religious background, she has nothing left, not even her pride. “Please, Lord,” she softly insists, “even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters.”

What the Canaanite woman is saying is that she doesn’t deserve anything. “But,” she asks, “how about giving me scraps that accidentally fall from your abundance?” With that, the heart of Jesus is vanquished.

The scene would be repeated later on at the end of His life. His own humiliation and abandonment would, connected as it was with the Last Supper, play out in a way strikingly similar to this account.

The key that unlocks the mystery contained in this verbal duel is to recognize that Jesus saw in this Canaanite woman a reality that she didn’t even see herself. He saw in her a faith that could withstand any assault; a love that was divine; a hope that could not be shaken. He tested her mettle and she found something within herself that she didn’t know even existed. Joined into the humiliation that Christ would later suffer, she transcended ordinary humanity and came into a level of life that was God’s. Her three-step journey in faith mirrored Christ’s.

The critical point of it all is that Jesus sees the same thing in you and in me. For He has an unrealized dream about who you really are and what you’re really made of. In Christ’s life, passion, and death we find the stuff of our real humanity, particularly so when we share in His suffering, passion, and death.

Had Jesus granted her request right away, this woman would never have ascended to the heights of glory that she did. We must see that in the divine scheme of things, the more we lose the more we win. The more we give away, the more we gain. The more we go down, the higher we ascend. In that, we pass from what is human into what is divine. It’s the path of Jesus.

Should Jesus grant our prayer requests right away, we would never ascend to the heights of glory that are hidden within your destiny and mine. That is why, when in the Garden of Gethsemani Jesus prayed that His Father rescue Him, and His Father did not. The answer to Jesus’ prayer was not rescue — it was resurrection. We should expect that our prayers will be answered in the same way.

St. Paul presents this journey in three parts in his Letter to the Philippians. In Chapter two we find that threefold movement in Christ’s own life when Paul writes:

His state was divine, yet he did not cling to his equality with God but emptied himself to assume the condition of a slave, and became as men are; and being as all men are, he was humbler yet, even to accepting death, death on a cross. But God raised him on high and gave him the name which is above all other names so that all being in the heavens, on earth and in the underworld, should bend the knee at the same of Jesus and that every tongue should acclaim Jesus Christ as Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

The first movement is His abandonment of His proper place, His native place at the right hand of His Father in heaven. He moves from His Father’s side into a place of alienation and separation, into total immersion with us where we are at, more importantly into who we are.

The second movement is downward into our sinful humanity… and not only that but to a level below that which we are usually willing to accept. He is spit upon, humiliated, and stripped naked of all His dignity. His face is rubbed in the dirt, as was the Canaanite woman’s face.

The third movement is upward. He rises from the dead into a new Spirit-filled, resurrected life, and then ascends into glory back to His Father’s side. Victorious over all that is demonic within our humanity He heals far more than the Canaanite woman’s daughter – He gives His healing power to us all in His Mystical Body, the Church.

In the divine scheme of things, the more we lose the more we win. The more we give, the more we receive. The more we go down, the higher we ascend. Ask anyone who has ever successfully completed a recovery program, they will tell you that you find power over whatever demons beset you when you surrender to your Higher Power.

God came among us with healing power and He is looking for our faith. The Canaanite woman came to God in faith and in search of healing and found it. Your task and mine as well is to live a life-story just like hers.

Can you? Can I? Yes, we can, because Jesus lived it first and then gave us the power and the capacity to live lives like that. The question is not: Can we? The real question is: Will we?

The Kyrie Eleison, Christ and the Canaanite Woman

Fr. René J. Butler, M.S.

[T]here is nothing cute about the exchange between Jesus and the Canaanite woman in this Gospel. I once read an author, bent on finding humor in the Bible, who claimed that this was just a friendly little repartee, what Webster’s Dictionary describes as “amusing and usually light sparring with words.”  I couldn’t disagree more. The scene presented here by Matthew is no game of wits!

Let me digress briefly with a little trip down memory lane:

[Click on this link:] Kyrie eleison from the Missa de Angelis

The point isn’t the music, the Gregorian chant or any other classic settings. The point isn’t the Latin Mass vs. English. It isn’t even that “Kyrie eleison” isn’t Latin at all, but Greek.

What is the point? It’s that we find those very same Greek words in today’s Gospel, and the point is especially what they mean.

The woman says “Eleison me kyrie.” This is translated in the Lectionary as “Have pity on me, Lord,” but it means equally well, “Have mercy on me, Lord.” Now leave out the middle word, change the order and there you have it: Kyrie eleison—Lord, have mercy.

She knows that as a foreigner she really has no claim on the one she calls “Son of David.” That doesn’t stop her.

Maybe she’s stubborn by nature. Maybe she’s had a hard life and is used to fighting for what she wants. Personally, I think the simple answer is the best: she’s a mother. And even if she has to accept being insulted by a famous teacher and healer, she accepts it, for her daughter’s sake.

But there is another reason why she doesn’t hold back. Jesus recognizes it, tests it, praises it, and rewards it. It is her “great faith”! (This woman, by the way, is one of the two foreigners I alluded to last week who are described as having “great” faith in the Gospels.)

“My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples,” we read in Isaiah. In this story we see a partial fulfillment of that prophecy. It’s no longer about a place, much less a single building situated in Jerusalem. It’s about Jesus and the community of believers gathered around him. It’s about the universal Church.

Excerpted from Fr. Butler’s Homily for the 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A.

St. John Eudes on Our Relationship With Christ

St. John Eudes

The Office of Readings has this excerpt from a treatise by St. John Eudes on the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus:

"You belong to the Son of God, but more than that, you ought to be in him as the members are in the head. All that is in you must be incorporated into him. You must receive life from him and be ruled by him. There will be no true life for you except in him, for he is the one source of true life. Apart from him you will find only death and destruction. Let him be the only source of your movements, of the actions and the strength of your life. He must be both the source and the purpose of your life, so that you may fulfil these words: None of us lives as his own master and none of us dies as his own master. While we live, we are responsible to the Lord, and when we die, we die as his servants. Both in life and death we are the Lord’s. That is why Christ died and came to life again, that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living."  — St. John Eudes