September 30, 2010

Reflection: The Rich Man and Lazarus


SCRIPTURE: “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores. “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, “Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.” Luke 16:19-24 (NIV)

TRANSITION: As a means to bring home a lesson from this scripture I would like to ask a couple of questions. Do you use or have used an alarm clock to wake you up in the morning? A lot of alarm clocks have a button on them called a snooze alarm. When your alarm goes off, you can hit that button and go back to sleep. In about ten minutes, the alarm will go off again. You can just keep on doing this and go right on sleeping.

God sound a wake-up alarm in our lives!

Did you know that God sometimes sounds a “wake up” alarm in our lives? He speaks to our heart and says, “It is time to wake up and follow me.” Some people hit the snooze button and say, “Not now Lord, call me again—a little bit later.” Some people hit that “snooze button” so many times that they get to where they don’t ever hear God’s voice. When they finally wake up, they find out that it is too late. That is what happened in our Bible story today.

Jesus told a story about a rich man who wore the finest clothes and lived in luxury. A beggar named Lazarus lay outside the rich man’s gate. Lazarus was hungry and his body was covered with sores. He was hoping that the rich man might have pity on him and that he might be able to satisfy his hunger with the leftovers from the rich man’s table. But every day the rich man passed by Lazarus without even giving him a thought. I imagine that he passed by Lazarus so many times that he eventually go to the point that he didn’t see him at all.

The Bible says that Lazarus died and went to heaven. The rich man also died, but he went to hell. In hell, he looked up and saw Lazarus in heaven with Abraham. He asked Abraham to let Lazarus dip his finger in water and come and touch it to his burning tongue, but Abraham sand, “No.” Then he reminded the rich man how he had enjoyed such good things on earth while Lazarus had nothing.

The rich man asked Abraham to allow Lazarus to go back to earth and warn his five brothers so that they would not end up in hell with him, but again, Abraham said , “No.” The rich man finally woke up, but it was too late.

Back to our alarm clock analogy.

God is sending “wake-up” calls to people today. Let us pray that we will listen to his voice and follow him before it is too late.

Dear Father, when you sound the alarm telling us it is time to wake up and follow you, many we never be guilty of hitting the snooze alarm saying, “Later, Lord.” Instead, let us rise up and follow you. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

September 25, 2010

The Power of the Holy Mass, Part 2

A great doctor of the Church, St. Anselm, declares that a single Mass offered for oneself during life may be worth more than a thousand celebrated for the same intention after death. St. Leonard of Port Maurice supports this statement by saying that one Mass before death may be more profitable than many after it.


"When we receive Holy Communion, we experience something extraordinary - a joy, a fragrance, a well being that thrills the whole body and causes it to exalt."
~ Saint Jean Vianney~

"The celebration of Holy Mass is as valuable as the death of Jesus on the cross."
~Saint Thomas Aquinas~

"If we really understood the Mass, we would die of joy."
~ Saint Jean Vianney~

"There is nothing so great as the Eucharist. If God had something more precious, He would have given it to us."
~ Saint Jean Vianney~

"It would be easier for the world to survive without the sun than to do without Holy Mass. "
~St. Pio of Pietrelcina (Padre Pio), stigmatic priest~

"When we have been to Holy Communion, the balm of love envelops the soul as the flower envelops the bee."
~ Saint Jean Vianney~

"The heavens open and multitudes of angels come to assist in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. "
~Saint Gregory~

"The angels surround and help th priest when he is celebrating Mass."
~ St. Augustine ~

"When Mass is being celebrated, the sanctuary is filled with countless angels who adore the divine victim immolated on the altar."
 St. John Chrysostom~

September 24, 2010

The Power of the Holy Mass, Part I

From Sue Cifelli:


At the hour of death the Holy Masses you have heard devoutly will be your greatest consolation.

Every Mass will go with you to Judgement and will plead for pardon for you.

By every Mass you can diminish the temporal punishment due to your sins, more or less, according to your fervour.

By devoutly assisting at Holy Mass you render the greatest homage possible to the Sacred Humanity of Our Lord.

Through the Holy Sacrifice, Our Lord Jesus Christ supplies for many of your negligences an omissions.

He forgives you all the venial sins which you are determined to avoid. He forgives you all your unknown sins which you never confessed. The power of Satan over you is diminished.

By piously hearing Holy Mass you afford the Souls in Purgatory the greatest possible relief.

Through Holy Mass you are preserved from many dangers and misfortunes which would otherwise have befallen you. You shorten your Purgatory by every Mass.

Through the Holy Mass you are blessed in your temporal goods and affairs.

When you hear Holy Mass devoutly, offering it to Almighty God in honor of any particular Saint or Angel, thanking God for the favors bestowed on him, etc., you afford that Saint or Angel a new degree of honor, joy and happiness, and draw his special love and protection on yourself.

Every time you assist at Holy Mass, besides other intentions, you should offer it in honor of the Saint of the day.

"The Mass is the most perfect form of prayer!"
~Pope Paul VI~

For each Mass we hear with devotion, Our Lord sends a saint to comfort us at death.
~revelation of Christ to St. Gertrude the Great~

Once, St. Teresa was overwhelmed with God's Goodness and asked Our Lord "How can I thank you?" Our Lord replied, "ATTEND ONE MASS."

The Blessed Virgin Mary once told Her faithful servant Alain: "My Son so loves those who assist at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass that, if it were necessary He would die for them as many times as they've heard Masses."

"The Holy Mass would be of greater profit if people had it offered in their lifetime, rather than having it celebrated for the relief of their souls after death."
~Pope Benedict XV~

H/T A Catholic Mom in Hawaii

September 23, 2010

EWTN Family Prayer - Those Who Are in Nursing Homes

What are the seven dolors of Mary?


The Seven Dolors of Mary are...

1. The Prophecy of Simeon.

2. The Flight into Egypt.

3. The Loss of the Child Jesus

4. The Meeting of Jesus and Mary on the Way of the Cross.

5. The Crucifixion

6. Jesus' body Struck by a Lance, Taken Down from the Cross

7. The Burial of Jesus.

Oplatki Christmas Tradition

The tradition of the Oplatki originated in Poland during Early Christian times. This Christmas Custom began with a simple white wafer, baked from flour and water. The wafers are wonderfully designed to display Christmas images, such as the Nativity. The Oplatki are enjoyed by families, typically right before the Christmas Eve meal. The entire family will gather around the table with the Oplatek. Generally the eldest member of the family will begin the ritual by breaking off a piece of the wafer and passing it to another family member with a blessing. This blessing can simply consist of what you desire for your loved one in the upcoming year – whether it be good health, success, or happiness. The purpose of this act is primarily to express ones unconditional love and forgiveness for each member of his or her family.

The significance of the Oplatki Christmas wafer is in that it shadows the Eucharistic meal that Catholics participate in at each Mass. Just as we share in the Eucharist as one family in Christ and receive Christ’s love through the Eucharist, the Oplatki allows for one’s immediate family to come together and share the love they have for one another.

Although this tradition is primarily enjoyed by the human members of the family, even the family pets can partake in this meal. Whereas the wafers are generally white in color, there are colored Oplatki made especially for pets. Although both colors are edible by people. Traditionally, this corresponds to the animals that were present at Christ’s birth. However, in current times, this can also represent the important role that pets play in the family.

The Oplatki tradition is one that is easy and fun to introduce to the family at Christmas time. All it requires is a simple wafer paired with love and affection, and the willingness to share it. This is a heartwarming tradition that will complete your family’s time together during the Christmas season. Order Your Oplatki Now!

OPLATKI - FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Q: WHAT IS OPLATKI?
A: Oplatki are thin wafers, similar to Communion hosts, which measure 5 1/2in. x 2 3/4in. The wafers have four beautiful Christmas images stamped into them. The images include the Nativity, the Star of Bethlehem, or the Holy Family. Each set of wafers comes in an envelope with the Oplatki tradition printed on the back.

Q: HOW DO YOU PRONOUNCE IT?
A: The authentic Polish pronunciation is O-pwaht-kee. This is the plural form of the word. One wafer it is called Oplatek (O-pwah-tek).

Q: ARE THERE OTHER NAMES FOR THIS TRADITION?
A: Yes, in Lithuania the wafers are part of the Kucios meal and can be called by many names, including: plotkele, paplotelis, or plokstainelis. Depending on where the family is from they may even say kaledaitis. Slovaks call the wafers oblatky. In America the tradition is often called Christmas Wafers.

Q: WHAT DO YOU DO WITH THE CHRISTMAS WAFERS?
A: Just before the Christmas Eve meal (in Polish called Wigilia) the entire family will gather around the table with the Oplatki. Generally the eldest member of the family will begin the ritual by breaking off a piece of the wafer and passing it to another family member with a blessing. This blessing can simply consist of what you desire for your loved one in the upcoming year - whether it be good health, success, or happiness. The wafer is passes from person to person until all have had a piece and all have been given blessings. The purpose of this act is primarily to express ones unconditional love and forgiveness for each member of his or her family.

Q: WHY ARE SOME WAFERS WHITE AND SOME PINK?
A: Although this tradition is primarily enjoyed by the human members of the family, even the family pets can partake in this meal. The Pink Oplatki is made especially for pets. Traditionally, this corresponds to the animals that were present at Christ's birth. However, in current times, this can also represent the important role that pets play in the family.

Q: HOW DID THIS TRADITION START?
A: The tradition of the Oplatki originated in Poland during Early Christian times. This Christmas Custom began with a simple white wafer, baked from flour and water. The wafers are wonderfully designed to display Christmas images, such as the Nativity. The Tradition is popular throughout eastern Europe, including Lithuania and Slovakia.

Q: WHAT IS THE SIGNIFICANCE?
A: The word Bethlehem means "House of Bread." The breaking of the bread is a sign of charity, unity, and friendship. The Oplatki Christmas wafers also remind us of the Eucharistic meal that Catholics participate in at each Mass. Just as we share in the Eucharist as one family in Christ and receive Christ's love through the Eucharist, the Oplatki allows for one's immediate family to come together and share the love they have for one another.

Q: OUR FAMILY ISN'T POLISH - CAN WE STILL HAVE OPLATKI?
A: YES! This tradition can become a part of every family's Christmas traditions!

Q: I LIVE FAR AWAY FROM MY FAMILY, WHAT CAN I DO?
A: Many families purchase Oplatki and include the wafers in Christmas cards to family members in distant locations. The tradition can easily be shared in this way with anyone around the world!

Q: WHAT IS THE SHELF LIFE OF THE OPLATKI WAFERS?
A: Oplatki wafers stay fresh for a long time. It is safe to store the oplatki for several months, preferably in a sealed container.

Information provided by the Catholic Company

September 16, 2010

Pope urges people of Great Britain to preserve Christian tradition

EDINBURGH, Scotland (CNS) -- Arriving in Scotland on the first leg of a four-day visit to Great Britain, Pope Benedict XVI appealed for preservation of the country's long Christian tradition and warned against "aggressive" forms of secularism and atheism.

"Your forefathers' respect for truth and justice, for mercy and charity come to you from a faith that remains a mighty force for good in your kingdom, to the great benefit of Christians and non-Christians alike," the pope said Sept. 16 at a reception with Queen Elizabeth II and more than 400 distinguished guests at Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh, the Scottish capital.

The pope evoked the moral heroism of a long line of British figures, from Florence Nightingale to Cardinal John Henry Newman, whom the pope was to beatify during the visit. Christian witness was also evident during World War II against a "Nazi tyranny that wished to eradicate God from society," he said.

"As we reflect on the sobering lessons of the atheist extremism of the 20th century, let us never forget how the exclusion of God, religion and virtue from public life leads ultimately to a truncated vision of man and of society," he said.

In an unusual courtesy gesture, the queen sent her husband, Prince Philip, to greet the pope when he arrived at the Edinburgh airport after a two-hour flight from Rome. The pope looked eager to begin his busy program in Britain, and on the plane he told reporters he felt confident the country would give him a respectful reception -- despite differences with some critics of religion.

[...]
 
The pope outlined an argument for the place of religion in public affairs, emphasizing that British saints and other leading Christians have "shaped the nation for good at the deepest level." While Great Britain today strives to be a multicultural society, he said, it must respect the traditional values and cultural expressions "that more aggressive forms of secularism no longer value or even tolerate."

He said the British media have a big responsibility in shaping the ideas and culture of its society and in promoting the "honesty, respect and fair-mindedness" for which the country is known.

Queen Elizabeth also underlined the importance of Britain's Christian heritage and told the pope that his visit also is a reminder of "the Christian contribution to the encouragement of world peace and to the economic and social development of the less prosperous countries of the world...."

Courtesy Catholic News Service

September 11, 2010

A Prayer for our Nation as we Prepare to Elect our Leaders

O God, we acknowledge you today as Lord,
Not only of individuals, but of nations and governments.

We thank you for the privilege
Of being able to organize ourselves politically
And of knowing that political loyalty
Does not have to mean disloyalty to you.

We thank you for your law,
Which our Founding Fathers acknowledged
And recognized as higher than any human law.

We thank you for the opportunity that this election
year puts before us,
To exercise our solemn duty not only to vote,
But to influence countless others to vote,
And to vote correctly.

Lord, we pray that your people may be awakened.
Let them realize that while politics is not their salvation,
Their response to you requires that they be politically active.

Awaken your people to know that they are
not called to be a sect fleeing the world
But rather a community of faith renewing the world.

Awaken them that the same hands lifted up to you in prayer
Are the hands that pull the lever in the voting booth;
That the same eyes that read your Word
Are the eyes that read the names on the ballot,
And that they do not cease to be Christians
When they enter the voting booth.

Awaken your people to a commitment to justice
To the sanctity of marriage and the family,
To the dignity of each individual human life,
And to the truth that human rights begin when human lives begin,
And not one moment later.

Lord, we rejoice today
That we are citizens of your kingdom.

May that make us all the more committed
To being faithful citizens on earth.

We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

September 8, 2010

Prayer for Pope Benedict XVI

As Pope Benedict prepares to visit England later this September, we offer this prayer for his pontificate:

Lord, source of eternal life and truth, give to your shepherd, Benedict, a spirit of courage and right judgment, a spirit of knowledge and love. By governing with fidelity those entrusted to his care, may he, as successor to the Apostle Peter and Vicar of Christ, build your Church into a sacrament of unity, love, and peace for all the world. Amen

V/ Let us pray for Benedict, the pope.

R/ May the Lord preserve him, give him a long life, made him blessed upon the earth, and not hand him over to the power of his enemies.

V/ May your hand be upon your holy servant.

R/ And upon your son, whom you have anointed.

September 6, 2010

We're Having a New Choice!



This is a humorous video showing how even children know the unborn child is a living breathing human being and not merely a blob of cells.

Homily for Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Fr. Rene Butler

Jesus says we cannot be his disciples unless we “hate” our father, mother, sister, brother. This is an excellent illustration of how different our culture today is from that of the ancient Middle East.

It is hard enough for us to understand the Middle East today. One of my cousins is married to a woman of Lebanese descent. She dislikes funerals the way they are celebrated in our culture. She told me, “When my husband dies, I’ll be wailing and screaming and throwing myself on the coffin.” It’s the only way of grieving that makes sense to her. “What makes sense, what is obvious and natural,” is an important distinctive element of every culture.

Now go back 2000 years. No wonder the Bible is so hard for us to understand at times. It reflects a different world, a different time, a different culture.

The French have no word that means “home” in the complete sense, with all the emotional components the English word implies. Some words are truly untranslatable in any exact way from one language to another. If this is true of modern languages, imagine what it is like for ancient languages.

In the Bible, “acquaintance” is rare. People are seen as friend or enemy, kin or alien. Similarly, the verb “to like” is virtually non-existent in the Bible. You either love or hate. And even though the New Testament was written in Greek, it still reflects ancient Middle Eastern thought and culture.

Imagine you have had a meal with friends at their home. When they ask, “How was it?” how do you respond if the only options in your language are “fabulous” and “lousy”?

The language Jesus spoke was a language of either-or. So how else could he say that we have to be faithful to him above all without an all-or-nothing expression?

Maybe he would have said it differently in 20th Century English. But the meaning would still be the same. Faith first. Love first. Jesus first.

September 4, 2010

Saint Paul on Living Joyfully


Seeking Spiritual Stability in the Lord. Philippians 4:1-7

The Apostle Paul was a great ambassador for the Christian faith. Paul’s desire was never to elevate himself, but only to encourage others to seek and know the Lord Jesus Christ in their daily lives. In Philippians 4:1-7 Paul encouraged 4 attitudes that would lead to spiritual stability in the Lord. They are:

1. Unity in the Lord 4:1-3
2. Joyfulness in the Lord 4:4
3. Gentleness in the Lord 4:5
4. Prayerfulness in the Lord 4:6-7

The means by which we can stand fast in the Lord is being united, joyful, gentle, and prayerful. May God challenge each of us in these areas today.

Finding Contentment in the Lord. Philippians 4:10-23

Have any of you ever heard of Fanny Crosby? She was a great writer of gospel songs who was blinded when only 6 week old by a country doctor who thought he was treating her with eye drops. Yet her indomitable, unyielding attitude soon manifested itself. At age 8 she wrote this poem:

“Oh what a happy child I am, although I cannot see!
I am resolved that in this world contented I will be.”

When we examine the life of Fanny Crosby, we will find that she found her contentment and satisfaction in the Lord. In fact, her debilitating circumstances encouraged her to find contentment in the Lord. When Christians find satisfaction and contentment in the Lord, they will be content with whatever they have and whatever their circumstances. Heb. 13:5. They will be content with food and clothing (1 Tim. 6:8), they will be content with their wages (Luke 3:14), and they will be content because they will know God’s presence and provision. (Phil. 4:10-12)

In Philippians 4:10-20 we discover 4 principles for finding contentment in the Lord.

They involve:

1. Being confident in Gods providential care (4:10)
2. Being impartial to our circumstances (4:11-12)
3. Being strong in the resources of the Lord (4:13)
4. Being interested in the well being of others (4:14-20)

May God teach us to express our contentment in the Lord in the way we live and the way we give.

September 3, 2010

Review: Pope Benedict XVI and the Sexual Abuse Crisis


For those interested in answering charges that the Catholic Church did little or nothing in response to child sex abuse scandals involving priests, Pope Benedict XVI and the Sexual Abuse Crisis by Gregory Erlandson and Matthew Bunson, is essential reading. Erlandson and Bunson take an unbiased look at the problem and objectively portray the Church's efforts to reform and to heal during the papacy of Pope Benedict XVI. The book makes seven essential points:
  1. The Church has always been confronted by the problem of sexual sin and failings among its clergy, and while the number of abusers has never been large, the Church has labored over the centuries to curb such abuses.
  2. Although modern Church leaders have made grievous mistakes, and the criminal acts of certain clergy have been overlooked or unaddressed in the past in too many dioceses, the Church is dedicated to redressing these wrongs and making sure that every safeguard is in place to protect children and families.
  3. Cardinal Ratzinger became increasingly convinced of the need to rid the Church of what he called the “filth” of abuse, and emerged as one of the Vatican’s most dedicated leaders in confronting the growing crisis.
  4. Pope Benedict’s actions in the first years of his pontificate showed a forthright desire to address the sexual abuse crisis in word and deed. He has continued to address the topic repeatedly and directly, in a variety of situations.
  5. The United States Church, which was for several years at the epicenter of the scandals, is now leading the way in establishing norms and providing guidelines for dealing with priest abusers, assisting the victims, and preventing further crimes.
  6. As Church leaders around the world confront the sexual abuse crisis in their own countries, they are looking to Pope Benedict for leadership and to the U.S. Church for a road-map to reconciliation, reform and authentic justice.
  7. Pope Benedict is not only dedicated to ending abuse among the clergy but also sees that the Church must seek spiritual renewal if it is to be purified.
As the introduction states: "This book arose out of a desire to help Catholics who have been shocked, disappointed, angered, or simply depressed by the latest round of allegations of clergy sexual abuse that have been filling our newspapers and our newsrooms."

From the very beginning the Church has concerned itself with the sexual immorality of its members, particularly its ministers. This reflects not the failings of the Church or its ministers but the reality of original sin and man’s fallen nature. From the Council of Elvira in 307 AD until the present day, the Catholic Church has taken concrete steps to protect the young and vulnerable from sexual misconduct. Pope Benedict XVI and the Sexual Abuse Crisis detail some of the steps the Church has taken over the centuries to deal with this problem, placing particular emphasis on recent efforts to reform and renew the priesthood in light of recent scandals.

Many have argued that the Catholic Church in general, and Pope Benedict in particular, remained aloof especially during the early days of the crisis. As head of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, then Cardinal Ratzinger reviewed hundreds of cases of abuse from around the word. He like few others in the Church understood the depth and scope of the problem. Erlandson and Bunson illustrate how Joseph Ratzinger, as cardinal and as pope, was proactive in dealing with the problem as early as 2001.

Erlandson and Bunson do not gloss over the sexual abuse crisis but go to great length to place blame where it belongs. A small percentage of priests were not faithful to their vows and a few bishops compounded the issue by covering up abuse. 4% of priests were guilty of sexual misconduct between 1950-2003. Most of the abuse occurred during the 1970’s or earlier. Abuse cases have decreased in the decades since for a host of reasons.