October 31, 2015

The Holy Father's Prayer Intentions for November 2015

Please remember the Holy Father Pope Francis' intentions in prayer through the month of November:
General Intention: That we may be open to personal encounter and dialogue with all, even those whose convictions differ from our own.
*** 
Missionary Intention: That pastors of the Church, with profound love for their flocks, may accompany them and enliven their hope.

October 30, 2015

100 Beloved And Obscure Quotations From the Saints


In honor of the Solemnity of All Saints on November 1st: The following 100 quotations are from individuals the Church has recognized for their heroic virtue. They appear in random order and are compiled from readers' responses, and suggestions for, quotes by saints appearing on this blog.
For me prayer is a surge of the heart, it is a simple look towards Heaven, it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy. 
— St. Thérèse of Lisieux
Trust the past to the Mercy of God, the present to His Love, and the future to His Providence.
— St. Augustine of Hippo
He who trusts himself is lost. He who trusts in God can do all things.
— St. Alphonsus Liguori
Our own evil inclinations are far more dangerous than any external enemies.
 — St. Ambrose
You must ask God to give you power to fight against the sin of pride which is your greatest enemy – the root of all that is evil, and the failure of all that is good. For God resists the proud. 
— St. Vincent de Paul
Christ said, "I am the Truth"; he did not say "I am the custom."
 — St. Toribio
Grant me, O Lord my God, a mind to know you, a heart to seek you, wisdom to find you, conduct pleasing to you, faithful perseverance in waiting for you, and a hope of finally embracing you.
 — St. Thomas Aquinas
If you are what you should be, you will set the whole world ablaze!
— St. Catherine of Sienna 
Since Christ Himself has said, “This is My Body”, who shall dare to doubt that It is His Body?
— St. Cyril of Jerusalem 
Apart from the cross there is no other ladder by which we may get to heaven.
 — St. Rose of Lima
Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.
— St. Jerome 
He alone loves the Creator perfectly who manifests a pure love for his neighbor.
 — St. Bede the Venerable
Charity is that with which no man is lost, and without which no man is saved.
 — St. Robert Bellarmine
Our wish, our object, our chief preoccupation must be to form Jesus in ourselves, to make his spirit, his devotion, his affections, his desire, and his disposition live and reign there.
— St. John Eudes
You cannot please both God and the world at the same time. They are utterly opposed to each other in their thoughts, their desires, and their actions.
 — St. John Vianney
Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections, but instantly set about remedying them.
— St. Francis de Sales
Nothing seems tiresome or painful when you are working for a Master who pays well; who rewards even a cup of cold water given for love of Him.
— St. Dominic Savio 
The Most Blessed Sacrament is Christ made visible. The poor sick person is Christ again made visible.
 — St. Gerard Majella
The saints are like the stars. In his providence Christ conceals them in a hidden place that they may not shine before others when they might wish to do so. Yet they are always ready to exchange the quiet of contemplation for the works of mercy as soon as they perceive in their heart the invitation of Christ.
 — St. Anthony of Padua
The most deadly poison of our times is indifference. And this happens, although the praise of God should know no limits. Let us strive, therefore, to praise Him to the greatest extent of our powers.
 — St. Maximilian Kolbe 
If we wish to make any progress in the service of God we must begin every day of our life with new eagerness. We must keep ourselves in the presence of God as much as possible and have no other view or end in all our actions but the divine honor. 
 — St. Charles Borromeo 
If we are, in fact, now occupied in good deeds, we should not attribute the strength with which we are doing them to ourselves. We must not count on ourselves, because even if we know what kind of person we are today, we do not know what we will be tomorrow.
 — St. Gregory the Great
Those whose hearts are pure are temples of the Holy Spirit.
 — St. Lucy 
We must often draw the comparison between time and eternity. This is the remedy of all our troubles. How small will the present moment appear when we enter that great ocean. 
 — St. Elizabeth Ann Seton 
To maintain a joyful family requires much from both the parents and the children. Each member of the family has to become, in a special way, the servant of the others.
 — St. John Paul II 
Oh Jesus, what would have become of me, if You had not drawn me to Thee?
— St. Gemma Galgani
Devils take great delight in fullness, and drunkenness, and bodily comfort. Fasting possesses great power and it works glorious things. To fast is to banquet with angels.
 — St. Athanasius.
The reason why sometimes you have asked and not received, is because you have asked amiss, either inconsistently, or lightly, or because you have asked for what was not good for you, or because you have ceased asking. 
— St. Basil
The Lord measures our perfection neither by the multitude nor the magnitude of our deeds, but by the manner in which we perform them.
 — St. John of the Cross
If He who was without sin prayed, how much more ought sinners to pray? 
— St. Cyprian
As iron is fashioned by the fire on an anvil, so in the fire of suffering and under the weight of trials, our souls receive the form that our Lord desires for them to have. 
— St. Madeleine Sophie Barat
A faint faith is better than a strong heresy.
— St. Thomas More 
Our Lord sometimes makes you feel the weight of the cross. This weight seems unbearable but you carry it because in His love and mercy, the Lord helps you and gives you strength.
 — St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina
To harbor no envy, no anger, no resentment against an offender is still not to have charity for him. It is possible, without any charity, to avoid rendering evil for evil. But to render, spontaneously, good for evil -- such belongs to a perfect spiritual love.
— St. Maximus the Confessor
Go forth in peace, for you have followed the good road. Go forth without fear, for he who created you has made you holy, has always protected you, and loves you as a mother. Blessed be you, my God, for having created me.
— St. Clare of Assisi
Suffering is like a kiss that Jesus hanging from the cross bestows on persons whom He loves in a special way. Because of this love He wants to associate them in the work of the redemption.
— St. Bonaventure
By the effective exercise of only one virtue, a person may attain to the height of all the rest. 
— St. Gregory Nazianzen
Truly, this was the Son of God.
— St. Longinus
The nation doesn’t simply need what we have. It needs what we are.
— St. Teresa Benedicta 
Great love can change small things into great ones, and it is only love which lends value to our actions.
— St. Faustina 
It is not the actual physical exertion that counts towards one's progress, nor the nature of the task, but by the spirit of faith with which it is undertaken.
— St. Francis Xavier
Jesus Christ, Lord of all things! You see my heart, you know my desires. Possess all that I am - you alone. I am your sheep; make me worthy to overcome the devil.
— St. Agatha 
Hold your eyes on God and leave the doing to him. That is all the doing you have to worry about.
— St. Jeanne de Chantal 
If one is to do good, he must have a little courage, be ready for sacrifice, deal affably with all and never slight anybody. By following this method I have always had significant success, in fact, marvelous success.
— St. John Bosco 
Virtue is nothing without the trial of temptation, for there is no conflict without an enemy, no victory without strife.
— St. Leo the Great 
It is better to say one Our Father fervently and devoutly than a thousand with no devotion and full of distraction.
— St. Edmund
If there be a true way that leads to the Everlasting Kingdom, it is most certainly that of suffering, patiently endured."
— St. Colette
What will be the crown of those who, humble within and humiliated without, have imitated the humility of our Savior in all its fullness!
— St. Bernadette Soubirous
If we wish to keep peace with our neighbor, we should never remind anyone of his natural defects.
— St. Philip Neri
Charity unites us to God... There is nothing mean in charity, nothing arrogant. Charity knows no schism, does not rebel, does all things in concord. In charity all the elect of God have been made perfect.
— St. Clement I
Confession heals, confession justifies, confession grants pardon of sin. All hope consists in confession. In confession there is a chance for mercy. Believe it firmly. Do not doubt, do not hesitate, never despair of the mercy of God. Hope and have confidence in confession.
— St. Isidore of Seville
Pray with great confidence, with confidence based upon the goodness and infinite generosity of God and upon the promises of Jesus Christ. God is a spring of living water which flows unceasingly into the hearts of those who pray.
— St. Louis de Montfort
He who labors as he prays lifts his heart to God with his hands.
— St. Benedict of Nursia
Holy Communion is the shortest and safest way to Heaven.
     — St. Pius X
It should be observed that perfect love of God consists not in those delights, tears and sentiments of devotion that we generally seek, but in a strong determination and keen desire to please God in all things, and to promote His glory.
        — St. Teresa of Avila
Consult not your fears but your hopes and your dreams. Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfulfilled potential. Concern yourself not with what you tried and failed in, but with what it is still possible for you to do.
— St. John XXIII
We are to love God for Himself, because of a twofold reason; nothing is more reasonable, nothing more profitable.” 
— St. Bernard of Clairvaux
Humility is the only virtue that no devil can imitate. If pride made demons out of angels, there is no doubt that humility could make angels out of demons.
           — St. John Climacus
The spiritual combat in which we kill our passions to put on the new man is the most difficult struggle of all. We must never weary of this combat, but fight the holy fight fervently and perseveringly. 
         — St. Nilus
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives to all men generously and without reproaching, and it will be given him.
— St. James
It is because of faith that we exchange the present for the future.
— St. Fidelis of Sigmaringen
If God causes you to suffer much, it is a sign that He has great designs for you, and that He certainly intends to make you a saint. 
 — St. Ignatius of Loyola
Now I begin to be a disciple. Let fire and cross, flocks of beasts, broken bones, dismemberment come upon me, so long as I attain to Jesus Christ.
 — St. Ignatius of Antioch
The glory of God is man fully alive.
— St. Irenaeus of Lyons 
Christ has made my soul beautiful with the jewels of grace and virtue. I belong to Him Whom the Angels serve.
— St. Agnes of Rome
He loves, He hopes, He waits. Our Lord prefers to wait Himself for the sinner for years rather than keep us waiting an instant.
— St. Maria Goretti
You strayed from the way and did not return because you were ashamed. It would be more logical if you were ashamed not to return.
— St. Josemaria Escriva
It is no use walking anywhere to preach unless our walking is our preaching.
— St. Francis of Assisi
No one should ever say that it was my ignorance if I did or showed forth anything however small according to God's good pleasure; but let this be your conclusion and let it so be thought, that -- as is the perfect truth -- it was the gift of God.
— St. Patrick
I would rather die than do something which I know to be a sin, or to be against God's will.
— St. Joan of Arc
A tree is known by its fruit; a man by his deeds. A good deed is never lost; he who sows courtesy reaps friendship, and he who plants kindness gathers love.
— St. Basil
The saints must be honored as friends of Christ and children and heirs of God. Let us carefully observe the manner of life of all the apostles, martyrs, ascetics, and just men who announced the coming of the Lord. And let us emulate their faith, charity, hope, zeal, life, patience under suffering, and perseverance unto death so that we may also share their crowns of glory.
— St. John of Damascus
God would never inspire me with desires which cannot be realized; so in spite of my littleness, I can hope to be a saint.
— St. Thérèse of Lisieux
Teach us to give and not count the cost.
— St. Ignatius de Loyola
Our hearts were made for You, O Lord, and they are restless until they rest in you. 
— St. Augustine of Hippo
Give something, however small, to the one in need. For it is not small to one who has nothing. Neither is it small to God, if we have given what we could.
— St. Gregory Nazianzen
There are two sides to every sin: the turning of the will toward fleeting satisfaction and the turning away from everlasting value. As regards to the first, the principle of all sins can be called lust -- lust in its most general sense, namely, the unbridled desire for one's own pleasure. As regards to the second, the principle is pride -- pride in its general sense, the lack of submission to God. 
— St. Thomas Aquinas
Love is the most necessary of all virtues. 
— St. Anthony Mary Claret
Our Lord loves you and loves you tenderly; and if He does not let you feel the sweetness of His love, it is to make you more humble and abject in your own eyes.
 — St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina
There is not a single creature which does not provide us with the means of reaching God. If any of them become an obstacle, it is only by our misuse of them
— St. John Vianney
I shall spend every moment loving. One who loves does not notice her trials; or perhaps more accurately, she is able to love them.
— St. Bernadette Soubirous
Whenever anything disagreeable or displeasing happens to you, remember Christ crucified and be silent.
— St. John of the Cross
Make yourself familiar with the Angels, and behold them frequently in spirit. Without being seen, they are present with you.
— St. Francis de Sales
Beside each believer stands an Angel as protector and shepherd, leading him to life.
— St. Basil
When tempted, invoke your Angel. he is more eager to help you than you are to be helped! Ignore the devil and do not be afraid of him: He trembles and flees at the sight of your Guardian Angel.
— St. John Bosco
If I had to advise parents, I should tell them to take great care about the people with whom their children associate ... Much harm may result from bad company, and we are inclined by nature to follow what is worse than what is better.
— St. Elizabeth Ann Seton
Christ has made my soul beautiful with the jewels of grace and virtue. I belong to Him Whom the Angels serve. 
— St. Agnes 
Confession heals, confession justifies, confession grants pardon of sin, all hope consists in confession; in confession there is a chance for mercy.
— St. Isidore of Seville 
The greatness of contemplation can be given to none but those who love. 
— St. Gregory the Great 
If there is anyone who is not enlightened by this sublime magnificence of created things, he is blind. If there is anyone who, seeing all these works of God, does not praise Him, he is dumb; if there is anyone who, from so many signs, cannot perceive God, that man is foolish. 
— St. Bonaventure 
One must see God in everyone.
— St. Catherine Laboure
God being infinite beauty, the soul united to Christ draws upon himself the admiring and tender gaze of the Angels, who, were they capable of any passion, would be filled with envy at his lot.
— St. Pius X
God knows I am here. This is his will for me. 
— St. Jose Isabel Flores Varela
If anyone comes to me, I want to lead them to Him.
— St. Teresa Benedicta 
One must not think that a person who is suffering is not praying. He is offering up his sufferings to God, and many a time he is praying much more truly than one who goes away by himself and meditates his head off, and, if he has squeezed out a few tears, thinks that is prayer. 
— St. Teresa of Avila 
This world and the world to come are two enemies. We cannot therefore be friends to both; but we must decide which we will forsake and which we will enjoy.
— St. Clement I
Tribulation is a gift from God; one that he especially gives His special friends.
— St. Thomas More
You will accomplish more by kind words and a courteous manner than by anger or sharp rebuke, which should never be used except in necessity.
— St. Angela Merici
There is a holy anger, excited by zeal, that moves us to reprove with warmth those whom our mildness failed to correct. 
 — St. John Baptiste de la Salle 

In the designs of Providence, there are no mere coincidences.

— St. John Paul II 

Note to Readers

This morning, I received the following message from Fr. René Butler:
At our Provincial Chapter which took place October 19-22, I was elected Provincial Superior of the La Salette Missionaries of North America. Between finishing my work here (busiest time of the year at the Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette in Enfield) and trying to keep up with new responsibilities, I will not be able to provide homilies for a while. Once I move, I might be able to resume.

In the meantime, let me say what an honor it is to be a "featured contributor" to this blog, which enables me to reach so many. I have known Matt for a number of years, and congratulate him on his dedication.

Please keep me in prayer, as I will you.

Fr. René J. Butler, M.S.
Please pray for Fr. Butler as he assumes his new role as Provincial Superior of the La Salette Missionaries of North America. The La Salette Missionaries are certainly in capable hands.

In the meantime, Sunday homilies will be provided by Fr. Charles Irvin.

May God bless you always,

Matthew Coffin

October 29, 2015

Father Philip Neri Powell's "Put down the missalette! Hearing a Homily"

Homily of St. Peter in the presence of St. Mark (detail), Fra Angelico, 15th century 

The following article by Father Philip Neri Powell, O.P., Ph.D.,"Put Down the Missalette! Listening to a Homily" was originally posted on Big C Catholics in installments. Visit Fr. Powell's excellent website for more.
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I’ve written about some of the artsy elements of writing a homily and about some definitions of preaching. I’ve been challenged to write about how one should go about listening to a homily and getting the most out of it.

So, here’s my shot at answering the question: how do I listen to a homily for maximum benefit? The very first thing I want to say is that listening to a homily is and is not like listening to any other sort of performed text. All the skills you use to listen to a speech, an academic lecture, or a conversation are used in listening to a homily. However, the difference that makes the difference in listening to a homily is that in a homily, especially one preached in a liturgical context, you are listening to an extension of the Word proclaimed.

1. Put down the missalette, or as I prefer to call them Those Paper Destroyers of the Liturgy, or Those Menaces to the Word Proclaimed. Put them down. No, tear them in half, stick them in your pocket, and bury them near a soggy marsh. Do you take your Riverside Shakespeare with you when you go to see Hamlet? Ask yourself this question: if we were meant to read along with the lectionary readings, why do we bother training and appointing a Lector to proclaim the readings for us? Why don’t we just say, “OK. Let us take out our missalettes, turn to page forty-three, and spend a few minutes reading the Old Testament passage, etc.”? We don’t do this because we are called upon in the liturgy to LISTEN to the Word proclaimed. Not to read along, not to check the Lector for errors, not to fiddle with a little book during the Boring Parts When We Read the Bible Out Loud. Can you listen and read along? No. You can’t. Sorry, you can’t. The whole point of the proclamation is that the Word is sent out, projected, given a voice, made alive. You can’t get this if you’re fumbling with a missalette or fussing over a mispronounced word or a lame translation. Hear the Word Proclaimed. Don’t follow along with another text. And, yes, this means we need VERY well-prepared and trained Lectors who understand what they do as a ministry of the Church.

2. Pay attention to key words, images, phrases, ideas. If you can’t “hear” the whole homily, listen for prominent words or ideas that get repeated or emphasized. A good preacher will ask a question or make a statement or in some way call your attention to his point(s). When you hear this point, cling to it and then listen to the rest of the homily “through” this point, paying careful attention to how it is developed or used. So, for example, if the preacher starts by defining “conversion” or asking a question about conversion, then listen for images or words or some kind of repetition of conversion themes in the rest of the homily. He might preach about other things, but you’ve picked up on “conversion.” Now, of course, you can pick up on multiple points and follow them all. But you can’t do any of this while reading the bulletin, the missalette (Hack! Pooey!) or fiddling with your cell phone.

3. Repeat every word in your head. Yup, that’s what I said: repeat every word. I do this all the time. I have what the Buddhists call “Monkey Mind.” Just about the only way I can pay attention to a homily is to close my eyes (no visual distraction) and then repeat every word of the homily in my head. This is how I am able to stay on track, follow the homily’s “argument,” and not end up daydreaming about bread pudding, Battlestar Galactica, and the Pope’s new encyclical all at the same time.

4. Listen now, argue later. OK. Fr. Oprah is on and on and on about his latest trip to the therapist and he’s boring the snot out of you with tales of his evolving consciousness and how close he is to exploding into Cosmic Oneness with the Womb of Universal Is-ness. First, put down the missalette. Just put it down. Pay attention to key words and image and repeat every word in your head. Why? Because for better or worse, ugly or pretty, he’s the preacher and (however hard it is for us to understand why) the Church has seen fit to make him a priest. He has something you need to hear. Even if you need to hear in order to reject it. Listen now, argue later. If you start arguing when he launches into a description of his Naked Rebirthing Sweat Lodge Ritual with Richard Rohr and you tune out because you need to argue, then you can’t hear what it is you need to hear from him. You’re spending your homily time arguing with someone who can’t hear you argue and couldn’t care less if he could. So, don’t waste your homily time arguing with your version of Fr. Oprah’s homily. Hear him out and argue on his time later.

5. Pray! The proclamation and preaching of the Word is an extension of the Word into this time and this place. When we hear the Word proclaimed and preached, we are made larger to better receive God’s blessing; we are strengthened to labor in holiness; we are deepened to be fresher sources of living water for others; and we are excited, electrified to be bearers of the Word, apostles to our world. Pray constantly for our preachers. Ask God to set them on fire for His truth, to open their hearts and minds to His Word, to loosen their tongues, to free their gifts, and make them true workers in sowing the seed of faith. Since we know from the Tradition that the first beneficiary of prayer is the Prayer himself, praying for our preachers grows the capacity of the Prayer to hear, bear, and spread the Word he/she hears in a homily. Ears settled charitably in prayer will hear clearly the voice of God spoken by the preacher.

Well, those are my (somewhat cranky) suggestions for listening to and benefiting from a liturgical homily. ...

October 28, 2015

Indulgences Obtainable on All Souls' Day

A plenary indulgence, applicable only to the souls in Purgatory is granted to the faithful who devoutly visit a church or oratory on All Souls Day (November 2nd).

Requirements for Obtaining a Plenary Indulgence on All Souls Day:

◗ Visit a church and pray for souls in Purgatory.
◗ Say one "Our Father" and the "Apostles Creed" in the visit to the church.
◗ Say one "Our Father" and one "Hail Mary" for the Holy Father’s intentions (the intentions designated by the Holy Father each month).
◗ Worthily receive Holy Communion (ideally on the same day).
◗ Make a sacramental confession within 20 days of All Souls Day.
◗ For a plenary indulgence, be free from all attachment to sin, even venial sin (or the indulgence is partial, not plenary).

You may gain one plenary indulgence a day.

These partial indulgences are applicable only to the souls in Purgatory:

◗ A partial indulgence can be obtained by devoutly visiting a cemetery and praying for the departed, even if the prayer is only mental. One may obtain a plenary indulgence by visiting a cemetery each day between November 1st - 8th.

◗ A partial indulgence can be obtained when the Eternal Rest (Requiem aeternam) is prayed. This can be prayed all year, but especially during the month of November:

Requiem aeternam dona ei (eis), Domine, et lux perpetua luceat ei (eis). Requiescat (-ant) in pace Amen.

Eternal rest grant to them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

From the Enchiridion of Indulgences.

Some families add the second half of the "Eternal Rest" prayer to the "Prayer Before Meals":

Bless us, O Lord, and these thy gifts, Which we are about to receive, from Thy bounty, through Christ, our Lord, Amen. And may the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

We ought to pray for the faithful departed throughout the year, not just during November. After these souls in Purgatory are in Heaven, they will intercede on our behalf.

The Great Adventure Catholic Bible Study Program


The Great Adventure Bible Study Program is available through Ascension Press. If you want to listen to an audio presentations of the course go to EWTN's Audio Library File Index under 'Our Father's Plan' with Scott Hahn & Jeff Cavins. (I understand it is the same material despite the different title.)

Unrelated but equally efficacious is Dr. Scott Hahn's Understanding the Scriptures: A Complete Course on Bible Study, which I recommend, and have used to great effect with students.

Bible Trivia Quiz

St. Matthew and the Angel, Vincenzo Campi, 1588.

I call your attention to this Bible trivia website. It's a Protestant source, but the questions are a who, what, when, where of Sacred Scripture, and not theological in nature. Scripture references are from the KJV Bible. New quizzes are added periodically (see sample quiz below).

I've taken random quizzes in the past by way of testing my scriptural IQ. Of course, reading Scripture daily is the best way to study/retain its wisdom.

Category: In The Beginning

This Quiz: Adam and Eve

1.) Why did Adam call his wife Eve?
       She was the firstborn among women
       She was a help meet fit for him
       She was the mother of all living
       She was taken out of man

2.) What kind of leaves did Adam and Eve use in an attempt to cover their nakedness?
       Fig
       Sycamore
       Palm
       Olive

3.) After Adam and Eve sinned, what did God make for them?
       A garment of fig leaves
       Coats of skin
       Clothing made from the dust of the earth
       A loincloth of pure linen

4.) What kept Adam and Eve from returning to the Garden of Eden?
       Cherubim with a flaming sword
       Cherubim with a double edged sword
       An angel with a firey spear
       An archangel with a scroll

5.) How many children did Adam and Eve have?
       2
       3
       4
       More than 4

6.) Who was Adam and Eve's first son?
       Seth
       Abel
       Cain
       Lamech

7.) Which of Adam and Eve's sons was 'a keeper of sheep'?
       Enosh
       Cain
       Seth
       Abel

8.) Which of Adam and Eve's sons was 'a tiller of the ground'?
       Enosh
       Cain
       Seth
       Abel

9.) What son did Eve say God gave her in place of Abel?
       Enosh
       Enoch
       Seth
       Cain

10.) How many years did Adam live?
       930
       820
       890
       750

For more quizzes go here.

October 27, 2015

October's Blog of Note: Catholic Sacristan


October's blog of note is Catholic Sacristan. Established in 2011, the site is "an oasis of truth, goodness & beauty in the desert of the world wide web." Focusing on the transcendentals of being — each transcending the limitations of time and place, as the objective properties of all that exists, Catholic Sacristan presents the Catholic Church as the fullness of truth. It's mission statement explains the blog's raison d'être:
Why an oasis? An oasis is a pool of refreshing water in an otherwise bleak landscape. The "water" offered here is often drawn from other wells (blogs, websites) that offer safe drinking water.
If the water here presented contains elements foreign to the Catholic Faith, then the blog-keeper will always defer to the Magisterium and remove or modify content that does not accurately present the true, the good and the beautiful as conserved in the Church's Apostolic Tradition.
Catholic Sacristan is oriented to Catholic Tradition: true teaching and beautiful Liturgy, that is the holy and dignified Mass — the source and summit of the Church's life; the inalienable right to life, the right from which all other rights flow; (other) inalienable rights, especially freedom of religion, freedom of conscience and freedom of speech...

In addition to featuring faithful content, the blog offers links to additional sites that follow the Magisterium and uphold the Deposit of Faith. Make Catholic Sacristan a regular part of your internet viewing itinerary. It is well worth your time.

'The Most Powerful Pro-Life Speech Ever Heard at the United Nations'

Archbishop Francis Chullikatt
Archbishop Francis Chullikatt
Life News reports that the Vatican's United Nations observer, Archbishop Francis Chullikatt, gave what many pro-life advocates at the UN are calling the greatest pro-life speech ever delivered before that assembly:  
A leading pro-life advocate who lobbies at the United Nations says the Holy See has given what he considered to be the most powerful pro-life speech ever presented to the UN.
Peter Smith, Chief Administrative office to the UN for SPUC, the British pro-life group, and the International Right to Life Federation emailed LifeNews a copy of the speech.
'I have been attending UN meetings for over 18 years (more than 100 in total) . The Holy See gave the best speech I have ever heard at the UN,' he said. 'This speech was very pro-life and pro-family and took a swipe at the crooked compliance committee that oversees the Convention on the rights of the child.' 
The opening paragraphs of Archbishop Chullikatt's speech ...

Mr Chairman:

This year’s Secretary General’s Report on the Status of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (A/68/257) helpfully draws attention to child mortality, which goes to the heart of what the Convention in article 6 enshrines as the child’s "right to life, survival and development". Indeed, without life, all other rights are meaningless. It is a cause for encouragement that his Report concludes that the goal of ending all preventable child deaths is now within our reach.

Among the key factors for achieving this goal the Report identifies maternal health. This is confirmed by the logic of the Convention itself, which affords the child the right to both pre-natal and post-natal healthcare (article 24(d)). This provision has meaning only if the unborn baby is first afforded the right to life and survival. This accords with my Delegation’s understanding of the Convention’s definition of the term "child", which article 1 addresses with an explicit terminus ad quem of 18 years and a terminus a quo implicit in the preamble’s clear reference to the child’s rights "before and after birth".

It follows that each child must be accorded in the first place the right to be born. This is a right, moreover, which must be protected equally – without discrimination on any grounds, including those of sex or disability or policies dictated by eugenics. Thus, pre-natal diagnosis undertaken for the purpose of deciding whether or not the baby will be permitted to be born is inconsistent with the Convention, which my Delegation regards as the fundamental normative instrument on the rights of the child. The unborn baby is a member of our human family and does not belong to a "sub-category of human beings". ...

Read his excellency's remarks in their entirety here.

Please pray for Archbishop Francis Chullikatt and the Holy See’s chief negotiator Fr. Justin Wylie as they courageously exhort the UN to honor the sanctity of human life from conception until natural death.

October 26, 2015

What the Media Ignores: Pope Francis on Abortion

Among the subjects Pope Francis has addressed most frequently during the first 31 months of his pontificate is the sanctity of human life, including the inalienable rights of the unborn. Despite speaking out unequivocally, the fourth estate continues to censure Francis' remarks on abortion. Here, in honor of 'Respect Life Month,' are ten statements by Pope Francis that the media is sure to ignore:
The right to life is the first human right. Abortion is killing someone that cannot defend him or herself.
+++ 
Every child who, rather than being born, is condemned unjustly to being aborted, bears the face of Jesus Christ, bears the face of the Lord, who even before he was born, and then just after birth, experienced the world’s rejection. And every elderly person…even if he is ill or at the end of his days, bears the face of Christ. They cannot be discarded, as the ‘culture of waste’ suggests!
+++ 
Among the vulnerable for whom the church wishes to care with particular love and concern are unborn children, the most defenseless and innocent among us. Nowadays efforts are made to deny them their human dignity and to do with them whatever one pleases, taking their lives and passing laws preventing anyone from standing in the way of this.
+++ 
The victims of this [throwaway] culture are precisely the weakest and most fragile human beings — the unborn, the poorest, the sick and elderly, the seriously handicapped, etc. — who are in danger of being ‘thrown away,’ expelled from a system that must be efficient at all costs.
+++ 
We are called to reach out to those who find themselves in the existential peripheries of our societies and to show particular solidarity with the most vulnerable of our brothers and sisters: the poor, the disabled, the unborn and the sick, migrants and refugees, the elderly and the young who lack employment.
 +++
Caring for life from the beginning to the end. What a simple thing, what a beautiful thing... So, go forth and don’t be discouraged. Care for life. It’s worth it.
 +++
A pregnant woman isn’t carrying a toothbrush in her belly, or a tumor…We are in the presence of a human being.
 +++ 
It is God who gives life. Let us respect and love human life, especially vulnerable life in a mother's womb.
+++ 
[The fight against abortion is] part of the battle in favor of life from the moment of conception until a dignified, natural end. This includes the care of the mother during pregnancy, the existence of laws to protect the mother postpartum, and the need to ensure that children receive enough food, as well as providing healthcare throughout the whole length of life…
+++ 
Unfortunately, what is thrown away is not only food and dispensable objects, but often human beings themselves, who are discarded as ‘unnecessary.’ For example, it is frightful even to think there are children, victims of abortion, who will never see the light of day; children being used as soldiers, abused and killed in armed conflicts; and children being bought and sold in that terrible form of modern slavery which is human trafficking, which is a crime against humanity.
For more information see our pro-life page.

October 25, 2015

Amazing! Pope Pius XI, the Washington Post and Mohandas Gandhi All Agreed Contraception is Gravely Immoral


Since her beginning, the Catholic Church has condemned artificial contraception. The deliberate frustration of the conjugal embrace cripples a major body system, prevents the self-donation of spouses and severs the unitive and procreative aspects of the marital act.

The Catholic Church and every Protestant denomination agreed on the immorality of artificially induced sterility until August 15, 1930, when the Anglican bishops’ Lambeth Conference decreed that the use of birth control could be left to an individual's conscience (Resolution 15).

Pius XI
This departure in teaching ruptured Christendom's 1,300 year unanimity on sexual morality. In response, Pope Pius XI issued the encyclical Casti Connubii, on December 31, 1930. He wrote:
In order that she [the Catholic Church] may preserve the chastity of the nuptial union from being defiled by this foul stain, she raises her voice in token of her divine ambassadorship and through our mouth proclaims anew: any use whatsoever of matrimony exercised in such a way that the act is deliberately frustrated in its natural power to generate life is an offense against the law of God and of nature, and those who indulge in such are branded with the guilt of a grave sin.
The Lambeth Conference's resolution allowing contraception was the proverbial camel's nose under the tent. Before long, other Protestant denominations followed suit. The editor of the Washington Post, a Methodist layman, well-grounded in theological sensibility, published a powerful editorial critical of the Lambeth decision, in words echoing Casti Connubii:
Carried to its logical conclusion, the [Lambeth] committee’s report, if carried into effect, would sound the death-knell of marriage as a holy institution by establishing degrading practices which would encourage indiscriminate immorality. The suggestion that the use of legalized contraceptives would be ‘careful and restrained’ is preposterous.
It is the misfortune of the churches that they are too often misused by visionaries for the promotion of ‘reforms’ in fields foreign to religion. The departures from Christian teachings are astounding in many cases, leaving the beholder aghast at the willingness of some churches to teach ‘Christ and Him crucified.’ If the churches are to become organizations for political and scientific propaganda, they should be honest and reject the Bible, scoff at Christ as an obsolete and unscientific teacher, and strike out boldly as champions of politics and science as modern substitutes for the old-time religion.
(One cannot image a paper of record responding so truthfully and objectively to such developments if they were to occur today.)

Gandhi
Around the same time, India's Mohandas Gandhi answered a reporter's question about Margaret Sanger's promotion of eugenics and contraceptives:
Artificial methods [of contraception] are like putting a premium on vice. They make men and women reckless...  Nature is relentless and will have full revenge for any such violation of her laws. Moral results can only be produced by moral restraints. All other restraints defeat the very purpose for which they are intended. If artificial [birth control] methods become the order of the day, nothing but moral degradation can be the result... As it is, man has sufficiently degraded women for his lust, and artificial [birth control] methods, no matter how well meaning the advocates may be, will still further degrade her.
In the wake of the "Sexual Revolution," the Church’s teaching has only grown in relevance. Popes Paul VI and St. John Paul II reiterated Pius XI's warnings about contraception, amid their own spirited defenses of the sanctity of marriage.

Eighty-four years have passed since Pope Pius XI, the Washington Post and Gandhi delivered their prescient condemnations. Their words have proven prophetic.

October 23, 2015

Three Inspiring Videos Showing the Catholic Church's Divine Mission

The following videos illustrate the Catholic Church's divine mission in the world. The first two show the Church as the Body of Christ in all her various ministries, and the last, a trailer for the film 'Light of Love' about the Imagine Sisters, conveys the beauty of consecrated life.

We are the Catholic Church



The Beauty of the Catholic Church



Light of Love - Trailer

October 22, 2015

Saint John Paul II on Christ

St. John Paul II
It is Jesus that you seek when you dream of happiness; He is waiting for you when nothing else you find satisfies you; He is the beauty to which you are so attracted; it is He who provoked you with that thirst for fullness that will not let you settle for compromise; it is He who urges you to shed the masks of a false life; it is He who reads in your heart your most genuine choices, the choices that others try to stifle.
— Pope Saint John Paul II 

Today is the Optional Memorial of Saint John Paul II

St. John Paul II
The Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship has approved the insertion of the optional memorial of St. John Paul II in the proper calendar of the dioceses of the United States for today.

Karol Jozef Wojtyla was born in 1920 in Wadowice, Poland. After his ordination to the priesthood and theological studies in Rome, he returned to his homeland and resumed various pastoral and academic tasks. He became first auxiliary bishop and, in 1964, Archbishop of Krakow and took part in the Second Vatican Council. On October 16, 1978 he was elected pope and took the name John Paul II. His exceptional apostolic zeal, particularly for families, young people and the sick, led him to numerous pastoral visits throughout the world. Among the many fruits which he has left as a heritage to the Church are above all his rich Magisterium and the promulgation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church as well as the Code of Canon Law for the Latin Church and for the Eastern Churches. In Rome on April 2, 2005, the eve of the Second Sunday of Easter (or of Divine Mercy), he departed peacefully in the Lord.

Pope St. John Paul the Great's Achievements as Pontiff

On October 16, 1978, Cardinal Wojtyla was elected Pope and on 22 October he began his ministry as universal Pastor of the Church.

Pope John Paul II made 146 pastoral visits in Italy and, as the Bishop of Rome, he visited 317 of the current 322 Roman parishes. His international apostolic journeys numbered 104 and were expressions of the constant pastoral solicitude of the Successor of Peter for all the Churches.

His principal documents include 14 Encyclicals, 15 Apostolic Exhortations, 11 Apostolic Constitutions and 45 Apostolic Letters. He also wrote five books: Crossing the Threshold of Hope (October 1994); Gift and Mystery: On the Fiftieth Anniversary of My Priestly Ordination (November 1996); Roman Triptych, meditations in poetry (March 2003); Rise, Let Us Be on Our Way (May 2004) and Memory and Identity (February 2005).

Pope John Paul II celebrated 147 beatifications, during which he proclaimed 1,338 blesseds, and 51 canonizations, for a total of 482 saints. He called 9 consistories, in which he created 231 Cardinals (plus one in pectore). He also presided at 6 plenary meetings of the College of Cardinals.

From 1978, Pope John Paul II convoked 15 assemblies of the Synod of Bishops: 6 ordinary general sessions (1980, 1983, 1987, 1990, 1994 and 2001), 1 extraordinary general session (1985) and 8 special sessions (1980, 1991,1994,1995,1997,1998 (2) and 1999).

On May 3, 1981, an attempt was made on Pope John Paul II's life in Saint Peter's Square. Saved by the maternal hand of the Mother of God, following a lengthy stay in the hospital, he forgave the attempted assassin and, aware of having received a great gift, intensified his pastoral commitments with heroic generosity.

Pope John Paul II also demonstrated his pastoral concern by erecting numerous dioceses and ecclesiastical circumscriptions, and by promulgating Codes of Canon Law for the Latin and the Oriental Churches, as well as the Catechism of the Catholic Church. He proclaimed the Year of Redemption, the Marian Year and the Year of the Eucharist as well as the Great Jubilee Year of 2000, in order to provide the People of God with particularly intense spiritual experiences. He also attracted young people by beginning the celebration of World Youth Day.

Coat of Arms of Pope John Paul II
Coat of Arms of  Pope John Paul II
No other Pope met as many people as Pope John Paul II. More than 17.6 million pilgrims attended his Wednesday General Audiences (which numbered over 1,160). This does not include any of the other special audiences and religious ceremonies (more than 8 million pilgrims in the Great Jubilee Year of 2000 alone). He met millions of the faithful in the course of his pastoral visits in Italy and throughout the world. He also received numerous government officials in audience, including 38 official visits and 738 audiences and meetings with Heads of State, as well as 246 audiences and meetings with Prime Ministers.

John Paul II was beatified in Saint Peter's Square on May 1, 2011 by Pope Benedict XVI, his immediate successor and for many years his valued collaborator as Prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

From Today's Collect: 

O God, who are rich in mercy and who willed that the blessed John Paul the Second should preside as Pope over your universal Church, grant, we pray, that instructed by his teaching, we may open our hearts to the saving grace of Christ, the sole Redeemer of mankind. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Most Important Event of the Synod? The Canonization of Louis and Zélie Martin

Sts. Louis and Zelie Martin & family
Sts. Louis and Zélie Martin & family

On October 18, Pope Francis canonized four individuals, including, the parents of St. Thérèse of Lisieux. Louis Martin and Marie Zélie Guerin Martin had nine children; four died in infancy and five daughters entered religious life. During their 19-year marriage, the couple was known to attend Mass daily, pray and fast, respect the Sabbath, visit the elderly and the sick, and welcome the poor into their home. (See Father James Martin's article "His Wife's a Saint, So Is Her Husband", for more.)

Father Mark A. Pilon says the single most important event that will occur during the 2015 Synod on Marriage and the Family is the canonization of Louis and Zélie Martin. In an article for The Catholic Thing he writes:
The Church has always pointed to the lives of saints to teach us the great truths of our faith. In this case, the example is not only the fidelity of this holy couple, nor their obviously great conjugal love, nor the permanence of their union. All of these things can also be found outside Christianity, because marriage is a natural institution.
What the Martins exemplify, as do all holy Catholic marriages, is the integral and necessary role of chastity within marriage. True Christian marriages are chaste, and chaste marriages are always holy.
The holiness of the vocation of marriage within the sacrament of matrimony is a major theme of this particular Synod, as it was at Vatican II. What is not so clearly a theme is the integral relationship between this holiness and the chastity of the married couple. I suspect that this theme is mentioned at times, but it does not get the same level of attention as many other topics. Yet nothing will be more important for the renewal of Christian marriage than the reassertion of the Church’s teaching on chastity within marriage, and courageous and wise practical efforts to re-evangelize the Catholic laity on this point.
Read it all here.

Prayer of Spouses and Parents to the Martins

Saints Louis and Zélie Martin,
today we turn to you in prayer. 

By fulfilling the duties of your state in life 
and practicing the evangelical virtues 
as spouses and as parents, 
you have modeled for us 
an exemplary Christian life. 

May the example 
of your unwavering trust in God
and your constant willingness to surrender
all the joys, the trials, 
the sorrows and the sufferings
that filled your life
encourage us to persevere
in our daily challenges
and to remain in joy and Christian hope.

Amen.

October 21, 2015

One Modern-Day Adage About Time and Two Timeless Observations by Saints

Hourglass

When teaching students about time, a teacher employed the following quaint but quirky adage:
The past is history, the future is a mystery, today is a gift, that's why it's called the present. 
Innumerable saints have weighed in on the concept of time as well. St. Augustine's observation on the past, the present and the future, mimics said quotation above, but with profound insight into the nature God:
Trust the past to the Mercy of God, the present to His Love, and the future to His Providence.
— St. Augustine

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, the first American saint, compared our earthly lives to our eternal existence. Any consideration of time, informed by Sacred Scripture, must acknowledge the fact that we will live forever. The only question is, Where?:
We must often draw the comparison between time and eternity. This is the remedy of all our troubles. How small will the present moment appear when we enter that great ocean. 
— St. Elizabeth Ann Seton 

October 20, 2015

Thireteen Warnings from Pope Francis on the Devil


In his first homily as pontiff, Pope Francis reminded us that the Devil is real. He has continued telling the faithful that we must be on guard, and that our only hope against Satan is our Lord, Jesus Christ. From Church Pop, here are thirteen of Pope Francis’ most direct quotes on the subject:
When one does not profess Jesus Christ, one professes the worldliness of the devil.
+++ 
The Prince of this world, Satan, doesn’t want our holiness, he doesn’t want us to follow Christ. Maybe some of you might say: ‘But Father, how old fashioned you are to speak about the devil in the 21st century!’ But look out because the devil is present! The devil is here… even in the 21st century! And we mustn’t be naïve, right? We must learn from the Gospel how to fight against Satan.
+++ 
[The Devil] attacks the family so much. That demon does not love it and seeks to destroy it. […] May the Lord bless the family. May He make it strong in this crisis, in which the devil wishes to destroy it.
+++ 
It is enough to open a newspaper and we see that around us there is the presence of evil, the Devil is at work. But I would like to say in a loud voice ‘God is stronger.’ Do you believe this, that God is stronger?
+++ 
Let us ask the Lord for the grace to take these things seriously. He came to fight for our salvation. He won against the devil! Please, let us not do business with the devil! He seeks to return home, to take possession of us… Do not relativize; be vigilant! And always with Jesus!
+++ 
The presence of the devil is on the first page of the Bible, and the Bible ends as well with the presence of the devil, with the victory of God over the devil.
+++ 
Either you are with me, says the Lord, or you are against me… [Jesus came] to give us the freedom… [from] the enslavement the devil has over us… On this point, there are no nuances. There is a battle and a battle where salvation is at play, eternal salvation. We must always be on guard, on guard against deceit, against the seduction of evil.
+++ 
The devil plants evil where there is good, trying to divide people, families and nations. But God… looks into the ‘field’ of each person with patience and mercy: he sees the dirt and the evil much better than we do, but he also sees the seeds of good and patiently awaits their germination.
Read the rest here.

Pope Canonizes Four Saints Including the Parents of St. Thérèse of Lisieux

Pope Francis
At a Mass in St. Peter’s Square, October 18, Pope Francis canonized four individuals, among them, the parents of St. Thérèse of Lisieux. It is the first time a married couple has been canonized together. [CNS reports] The Pontiff said in part:
There can be no compatibility between a worldly understanding of power and the humble service which must characterize authority according to Jesus’ teaching and example,” he continued. “Ambition and careerism are incompatible with Christian discipleship; honor, success, fame and worldly triumphs are incompatible with the logic of Christ crucified … The men and women canonized today unfailingly served their brothers and sisters with outstanding humility and charity, in imitation of the divine Master.
About 65,000 people attended the Mass, including more than 300 cardinals, bishops and others taking part in the Oct. 4-25 synod on the family. Those canonized were:
  • Louis Martin (1823-1894) and Marie Zelie Guerin Martin (1831-1877), the parents of St. Therese of Lisieux. They had nine children; four died in infancy and five entered religious life. During their 19-year marriage, the couple was known to attend Mass daily, pray and fast, respect the Sabbath, visit the elderly and the sick, and welcome the poor into their home.
  • Italian Father Vincenzo Grossi (1845-1917), founder of the Institute of the Daughters of the Oratory.
  • Spanish Sister Maria of the Immaculate Conception (1926-1998), a member of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Company of the Cross.

Holy Mass and Canonizations - 10/18/2015

October 19, 2015

Homily for the 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time, October 25, 2015, Year B

Fr. Butler is attending his order's Provincial Chapter meeting this week and will submit this Sunday's homily time permitting. Please pray for the Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette as they deliberate their ministry and elect their Provincial leadership. Meanwhile, I submit to you Fr. Charles Irving's homily on spiritual blindness and the courage of Bartimaeus: 

Jesus said to him, "What do you want me to
do  for you?" The blind man replied to him,
"Master, I want to see." Mark 10:51
Fr. Charles Irvin

(Click here for today’s readings)

Back in the late 1700’s a man named John Newton, an alcoholic libertine and a man committed to destroy the Christian faith, was by the grace of God, rescued, restored, healed, and given the sight to see what he was and what God wanted him to be. He wrote a hymn with words you will recognize:
Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was not, but now am found, was blind, but now I see.
That saved a wretch like me! I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.
We could spend the rest of this day discussing the various types and forms of blindness along with answering the question “Who is really blind, and who really sees?”

From my perspective, the most debilitating form of blindness is that found in folks who think they see the truth when they really don’t. There’s no more pitiable form of blindness than one who thinks he or she has all of the right answers, who thinks he or she knows all that one needs to know about God, about Jesus Christ, about the Church, and about religion…but really doesn’t.

Moreover, in these days there is a prevailing philosophy that claims there is no reality worth  relying upon or acting upon, other than that which one perceives in one’s self; there is no truth one can rely upon other than that which one understands to be the truth in his or her own mind. This is the vision of the Imperial Self – an ego that self-defines reality, morality, truth and the only things it considers that really matter.

The stark reality of the Imperial Self is no more clearly revealed than when you encounter an alcoholic, a drug addict, or one who is mentally deranged. There is no arrogance, no self-centered defiance greater than that found in a raging alcoholic or drug addict. What you see in such a person is a soul raging in hell’s inferno.

To a lesser degree we all know, and personally know, what it means to have one-dimensional vision. By that I mean the sort of narrow way we see others. Perhaps we see only how their bodies look. Or maybe we judge them solely on the basis of their level of intelligence. Again, some judge and see others on the basis of their net worth, or their fame, or their acting talents, or their ability to entertain others. I have no doubt that we have, each one of us here, seen and judged others only with a one-dimensional vision.

As in so many other stories and parables that come to us in the gospels, we need to see ourselves in the various characters. Today we need to see ourselves in the character of Bartimaeus.

In today’s gospel account we find Jesus at the threshold of Jerusalem. He was about to climb on a donkey and ride into Jerusalem, an event we celebrate every Palm Sunday. Bar-Timaeus, the son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting begging along the way. We don’t know for how many years he as a beggar but evidently it was many because he was well known by the local citizens. He was regarded as a nobody, so much of a nobody that he wasn’t even called by his own name. He was known only as the son of a man by the name of Timaeus.

Bartimaeus had evidently heard about the miracle worker, Jesus of Nazareth, and here was Jesus entering into Jerusalem with the crowd shouting and singing hosannas, alleluias, and such. Amidst all of this din and commotion Bartimaeus shouts out to Jesus.

I want to draw four points out of today’s gospel account. The first and the most important point is that Bartimaeus knew he was blind. Do we? Do we know that we really don’t see reality as Jesus sees it, that we miss seeing the works and the hand of God in our lives, that we’re bedazzled and blinded by the glitz and glitter of this world, and that our souls are surrounded by a spiritual darkness, and that we often do not let the light of Christ illumine our way through that darkness? Do we realize we are blind when it comes to seeing ourselves as Jesus sees us?

The second observation I have is that those around Bartimaeus tried to hush him up and keep him from Jesus. It’s significant because that’s the situation in which we find ourselves today. There are a whole lot of voices and forces attempting to keep us from contacting and personally encountering Jesus Christ. If you don’t think so then you really are spiritually blind.

Bartimaeus took the courageous risk of going against the crowd. He didn’t let his hope be deterred by the local populace and the voices of those who tried to keep him down and in his place. Any faith response worthy of the name requires the same sort of risk. Bartimaeus is a true hero because he went against the crowd and in his darkness took the risk.

To read this homily in full go here.

October 18, 2015

This Will Reaffirm Your Faith in Humanity

Sister Maria Veritas Marks
Sister Maria Veritas
Mary Anne Marks was Harvard's Valedictorian in 2010. Upon graduation, she entered religious life with the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I had forgotten about Ms. Mark's story, after seeing video of her commencement address in Latin — until the other day, when someone brought up the subject of the Dominican Sisters and I wondered about her.

This may be old news to many of you, however, on Aug. 1, 2011, Mary Anne Marks received the habit, and a new religious name: Sister Maria Veritas. Kathryn Jean Lopez interviewed Ms. Marks in an August, 2010, article. National Review no longer archives it, but a snippet is available here.

Sister Maria Veritas discusses her call to consecrated life in the article, "From Harvard to the convent: I am the bride of Christ". She writes in part:
Between each day’s bookends, opportunities abound to provide a mother’s tenderness to all, young and old, whom God places in my life. I will not have the joy of a family of my own, but I have the joy of being completely available to anyone who approaches me. And they do come: a classmate unsure of her future, an unemployed father seeking prayers for his job interview, a tourist thrilled to see a habited Sister... ... They come as I type my paper in the library, they come as I eat lunch in the cafeteria, they come on the street and in the airport. I am theirs because I am His.
I no longer have a closet-full of clothing and shoes, but I can now empty the contents of my room into three bags in half an hour and be wherever He needs me. I never have to wonder whether I’m dressed appropriately: in the habit, I’m as ready for a soccer game on the quad as for a meeting with the university’s president. I don’t get to choose when the wake-up bell will ring, and I don’t get to choose where I’ll be or what I’ll be doing next year, but I do choose the exhilarating adventure of being fully available for Him.
Deo gratias!

Here is a video of her commencement address in Latin.

Mary Anne Marks: "Cor Harvardianum, Cor Nostrum"

October 17, 2015

Homily for the 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time, October 18, 2015, Year B

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

"Can you drink the cup that I drink
or be baptized with the baptism with
which I am baptized?" Mark 10:38
(Click here for today’s readings)

Successor of the Prince of the Apostles. Sovereign of the Vatican City State. Primate of Italy. Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Roman Province. Bishop of Rome. Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church. Vicar of Jesus Christ. There can be no doubt as to who is being described by this impressive list of titles. The ambitions of James and John don’t even come close.

Still, you’ve got to give them credit. Although by this point Jesus has already predicted his passion three times, the third coming immediately before today’s Gospel, James and John seem to be in a state of denial. All they can see is that Jesus is the Messiah, the real deal, destined for glory, and they want to be part of that, to be great by association. No time like the present, then, to jockey for position, to set themselves up to share the honors in a place of privilege.

Jesus basically warns them to be careful what they ask for. There will be some serious suffering involved. He doesn’t quote our first reading from Isaiah, but that is definitely the gist of what he says.

No problem, say James and John. They can do whatever it takes. But even assuming they are really up to the challenge, Jesus still can’t give them what they want. And it’s just as well, because that is not at all what he has in mind for them. It’s fine if they want to be great, as long as they are willing to be servants.

There is a term that has made its way into religious circles in recent years, whereby those in authority are expected to exercise “servant leadership.” Imagine my surprise when I discovered that it is not actually a religious concept, but comes from the business world! It’s about employers who inspire rather than command, who care more about their employees than about the business, and so motivate employees to give their best to the business.

This is a model that can certainly work in the Church. Still, it is not quite what Jesus had in mind. It isn’t about the relationship between employers and employees, but between servants and served. We could even say it is about the relationship between servants and servants. It’s not only leadership that is called to service.

In one place St. Paul encourages Christians to “bear one another’s burdens.” That is the kind of mutual service that Jesus proposes. We see it put into practice in the early chapters of the Acts of the Apostles, where we read that “the community of believers was of one heart and mind.”

Jesus presents himself as the model: “The Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.” He expects the same of his disciples.

“Giving one’s life” means dying, of course, in the spirit of John 15:13, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends.” But it also means devoting one’s life to others—ideally to one another—in a genuine demonstration of care for each other. In this sense Jesus presents himself as a model not only for bishops, priests and religious, but to spouses, to families and, yes, even to employers and employees.

Pope Francis exemplifies this spirit very well indeed. Instead of all his titles listed above, he seems to prefer one that was not mentioned there: “Servant of the servants of God.” It’s not about him. It’s about all of us. And he inspires us to respond to the invitation of the second reading: “Let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy.” Here, too, we “receive mercy” not just to have it for ourselves, but to exercise it towards others. It is part and parcel of being a servant.

How would you like to do something great, something beautiful for God? Pray for the grace to do so. But be careful what you ask for. There could be some serious suffering involved. And there definitely will be some serious service expected.

October 16, 2015

Fr. Dodaro on the Synod and the "Kasper Proposal"

Synod on the Family

EWTN interviewed Father Robert Dodaro, O.S.A., President of the Patristic Institute in Rome, and editor of Remaining in the Truth of Christ: Marriage and Communion in the Catholic Church. Fr. Dodaro was asked about Cardinal Kasper's proposal allowing Catholics who have divorced and remarried to receive Communion. This is his response:
The problem is that, of course, they [divorced and remarried Catholics] remain married to their first spouse. That marriage takes place in Christ and so, that bond cannot be broken by any one, not by the Pope, not by the Church. So that’s the problem with a second marriage, the problem is that they’re still really married to the first spouse. Now, what Cardinal Kasper proposed is that the Catholic Church study what the Orthodox Churches do in that situation and that we copy that, or we try to adjust that to the Catholic Church. ...
The problem with it for us [the Catholic Church] is that we have a different understanding of marriage then the Orthodox. I don’t think a lot of people know this, but, for us, marriage takes place in Christ and that bond cannot be broken. … The Orthodox don’t recognize that. They allow for divorce in certain circumstances. … We can’t adapt their system because we can’t adapt their Theology to ours.
I don’t think anyone on the side of those who oppose Cardinal Kasper…  is lacking in compassion for these Catholics. The question is how can we help them gradually to make progress toward a lifestyle that is compatible with their first marriage, their real marriage. That requires that we accompany people… Various cardinals and bishops have put forward suggestions as to how we might do that. …
See the interview in full here (starting at 14:45).

Fr. Dodano's Remaining in the Truth of Christ: Marriage and Communion in the Catholic Church is a great read. Five Cardinals and four scholars, respond to Cardinal Walter Kasper's call for the Church to harmonize "fidelity and mercy in its pastoral practice with civilly remarried, divorced people". It is the perfect addition to any Catholic's bookshelf. From Amazon's précis:
Beginning with a concise introduction, the first part of the book is dedicated to the primary biblical texts pertaining to divorce and remarriage, and the second part is an examination of the teaching and practice prevalent in the early Church. In neither of these cases, biblical or patristic, do these scholars find support for the kind of "toleration" of civil marriages following divorce advocated by Cardinal Kasper. This book also examines the Eastern Orthodox practice of oikonomia (understood as "mercy" implying "toleration") in cases of remarriage after divorce and in the context of the vexed question of Eucharistic communion. It traces the centuries long history of Catholic resistance to this convention, revealing serious theological and canonical difficulties inherent in past and current Orthodox Church practice.

The various studies in this book lead to the conclusion that the Church's longstanding fidelity to the truth of marriage constitutes the irrevocable foundation of its merciful and loving response to the individual who is civilly divorced and remarried. The book therefore challenges the premise that traditional Catholic doctrine and contemporary pastoral practice are in contradiction.