January 31, 2016

25 Inspiring Quotations From Saint John Bosco

In honor of Saint John Bosco's feast day, here are twenty-five quotations from the priest and gifted teacher who was a father to the fatherless.

St. John Bosco

Without confidence and love, there can be no true education. If you want to be loved…you must love yourselves, and make your children feel that you love them.
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My life experience has been that only the practice of religion can assure concord in families and the happiness of those who live in this valley of tears.
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The school was not the end; it was rather the instrumental means for improving the way of life.
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Be brave and try to detach your heart from worldly things. Do your utmost to banish darkness from your mind and come to understand what true, selfless piety is. Through confession, endeavor to purify your heart of anything which may still taint it. Enliven your faith, which is essential to understand and achieve piety.
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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.
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All past persecutors of the Church are now no more, but the Church still lives on. The same fate awaits modern persecutors; they, too, will pass on, but the Church of Jesus Christ will always remain, for God has pledged His Word to protect Her and be with Her forever, until the end of time.
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 Act today in such a way that you need not blush tomorrow.
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Your mortification should be your diligence in doing your duties and in putting up with the annoyances of others.
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Do not put off till tomorrow the good you can do today. You may not have a tomorrow.
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Guard your eyes since they are the windows through which sin enters the soul.
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 Let us strive to fare well in this life and in the next.
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There are plenty of ways to practice mortification! Just patiently endure cold, heat, sickness, troubles, people, happenings, and so forth.
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Do you want your companions to respect you? Always think well of everyone, and be ready to help others. Do this and you will be happy.
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Servite Domino in laetitia! [Serve the Lord joyfully!]
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If we want to have a good society, we must concentrate all our forces on the Christian education of the young. Experience has taught me that if we wish to sustain civil society then we should take good care of the young.
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If young people are educated properly, we have moral order; if not, vice and disorder prevail. Religion alone can initiate and achieve a true education.
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Remember that good confessions and good Communions are the first steps to a sound education.
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Do you want Our Lord to give you many graces? Visit Him often. Do you want Him to give you few graces? Visit him seldom. Visits to the Blessed Sacrament are powerful and indispensable means of overcoming the attacks of the devil. Make frequent visits to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and the devil will be powerless against you.
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Your reward in heaven will make up completely for all your pain and suffering.
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This was the method that Jesus used with the apostles. He put up with their ignorance and roughness and even their infidelity. He treated sinners with a kindness and affection that caused some to be shocked, others to be scandalized and still others to hope for God’s mercy. And so He bade us to be gentle and humble of heart.
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All for God and for His Glory. In whatever you do, think of the Glory of God as your main goal.
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Everything and everyone is won by the sweetness of our words and works.
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Every virtue in your soul is a precious ornament which makes you dear to God and to man. But holy purity, the queen of virtues, the angelic virtue, is a jewel so precious that those who possess it become like the angels of God in Heaven, even though clothed in mortal flesh.
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Fly from bad companions as from the bite of a poisonous snake. If you keep good companions, I can assure you that you will one day rejoice with the blessed in Heaven; whereas if you keep with those who are bad, you will become bad yourself, and you will be in danger of losing your soul.
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'Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and to God what belongs to God.' Therefore, according to the Gospel, any citizen can be a good Catholic – that is, side with Jesus Christ and the Pope, and do good to his fellow men – and at the same time side with Caesar, namely, observe the laws of the land, except when the rulers persecute religion or tyrannize the consciences and minds of citizens.

Memorial of Saint John Bosco – Priest and Founder

St. John Bosco
Today’s feast of Saint John Bosco is superseded by the Sunday liturgy. We present his biography in homage to the courageous life and lasting legacy of this popular saint.

"In his life the supernatural became the natural and the extraordinary the ordinary." So spoke Pope Pius XI of the beloved Don Bosco, renowned for his educational pioneering and his affectionate care for the fatherless. Born Giovanni Melchior Bosco in 1815, the future saint was the youngest son of a peasant farmer in the hamlet of Becchi, in the Piedmont district of north Italy. He lost his father at the age of two and was brought up by a devoted and industrious mother, Margaret Bosco, who had a hard struggle maintaining the home and the three children, all of them boys.

A dream that little Giovanni had at the age of nine revealed to him his vocation. He seemed to be surrounded by a mob of fighting and swearing children whom he tried in vain to pacify, at first by arguments and then by hitting them. Suddenly there appeared a mysterious woman who said: "Softly, softly… if you wish to win them! Take your shepherd's staff and lead them to pasture." Even as she spoke, the children were transformed first into wild beasts and then into gentle lambs. From that time on, the boy thought, it was his clear duty to lead and help other boys.

St. John Bosco was the founder of the Salesian Society, named in honor of St. Francis de Sales, and of the Daughters of Mary, Help of Christians. His lifework was the welfare of young boys and girls, hence his title, "Apostle of Youth." He had no formal system or theory of education. His methods centered on persuasion, authentic religiosity, and love for young people. He was an enlightened educator and innovator.

Sources: "Memorial of St. John Bosco, priest", Catholic Culture, "St. John Bosco", EWTN.

The Life of St. John Bosco

John Bosco was born near Castelnuovo in the archdiocese of Turin, Italy, in 1815. His father died when John was only two years old and it was his mother Margaret who provided him with a good humanistic and Christian education. His early years were financially difficult but at the age of twenty he entered the major seminary, thanks to the financial help received from Louis Guala, founder and rector of the ecclesiastical residence St. Francis of Assisi in Turin. John Bosco was ordained a priest on June 5, 1846, and with the help of John Borel he founded the oratory of St. Francis de Sales.

At this time the city of Turin was on the threshold of the industrial revolution and as a result there were many challenges and problems, especially for young men. Gifted as he was as an educator and a leader, Don Bosco formulated a system of education based on "reason, religion and kindness." In spite of the criticism and violent attacks of the anti-clericals, he conducted workshops for the tradesmen and manual laborers, schools of arts and sciences for young workers, and schools of the liberal arts for those preparing for the priesthood. In 1868 there were 800 students involved in this educational system. To ensure the continuation of his work, Don Bosco founded the Society of St. Francis de Sales (Salesians), which was approved in 1869. Also, with the help of Sister Mary Dominic Mazzarello, he founded the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Auxiliatrix.

In 1875 a wave of emigration to Latin America began, and this prompted the inauguration of the Salesian missionary apostolate. Don Bosco became a traveller throughout Europe, seeking funds for the missions. Some of the reports referred to him as "the new St. Vincent de Paul." He also found time to write popular catechetical pamphlets, which were distributed throughout Italy, as was his Salesian Bulletin. This great apostle of youth died on January 31, 1888, and was canonized by Pope Pius XI in 1934. Pope John Paul II named him "teacher and father to the young."

Excerpted from Saints of the Roman Calendar, Enzo Lodi.

Patron: Apprentices; boys; editors; Mexican young people; laborers; schoolchildren; students; young people.

Collect Prayer

O God, who raised up the Priest Saint John Bosco as a father and teacher of the young, grant we pray, that, aflame with the same fire of love, we may seek out souls and serve you alone. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Prayer to Saint John Bosco

O glorious Saint John Bosco, who in order to lead young people to the feet of the divine Master and to mould them in the light of faith and Christian morality didst heroically sacrifice thyself to the very end of thy life and didst set up a proper religious Institute destined to endure and to bring to the farthest boundaries of the earth thy glorious work, obtain also for us from Our Lord a holy love for young people who are exposed to so many seductions in order that we may generously spend ourselves in supporting them against the snares of the devil, in keeping them safe from the dangers of the world, and in guiding them, pure and holy, in the path that leads to God. Amen.


Homily for the 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time, January 31, 2016, Year C

Fr. Charles Irvin
Senior Priest
Diocese of Lansing

Christ preaching in the synagogue
(Click here for today’s readings)

We have strong feelings when we discover that someone has lied to us or deceived us. We want the truth, even the unpleasant and painful truth. You want your doctor to tell you that you have cancer. How would you feel if you had terminal cancer and your doctor did not tell you? It’s far better to be told the truth than to be consoled with a pleasant lie.

If your child’s teacher calls you and tells you that your child is failing in school you would, of course, be upset. But if your child were failing how would you feel if the teacher simply allowed you to feel good without knowing the truth?

Now, while we agree with that in principle, there are facts we don’t want to hear. We don’t even want to discuss them. We would rather that they were buried, or that somehow they would go away where we didn’t have to pay attention to them. It brings to mind the phrase we’ve all heard: “My mind is made up. Please don’t confuse me with the facts.”

Today’s gospel account brings us Jesus in His own hometown having just given His “Inaugural Address” in His home synagogue, there among all of His family and friends. He was the toast of the town – well received; they held Him in their rapt attention. The gospel account tells us “All who were present spoke favorably of him. They marveled at the appealing discourse that came from His lips.” But very soon it all turned to hatred. Moments later they took Him to the brow of a cliff and attempted to throw Him over the cliff’s edge to His death. They suddenly changed and turned on Him when Jesus told them a truth they did not want to hear. 

What had He said to them? Well, He reminded them of two events in Jewish history. One was during the life of Elijah, the prophet. The Hebrews in Elijah’s time were suffering from a horrible drought; people were dying of starvation. A prophet had come from God to a widow and because of her faith. God had saved her. The problem was she was not a Jew, she was a Gentile. The same was true in the story of Elisha. Leprosy was a plague spreading throughout Israel but God used a prophet to save only one leper, and he, too, was a Gentile.

This was all terribly painful for the Jews of the time of Jesus because they had come to believe that they were God’s Chosen, that non-Jews would not be saved, and that God’s love and favor were manifest only in and among Jews. The people Nazareth, as well as those in other Jewish settlements, and especially in Jerusalem, apparently thought they had a monopoly on God. In fact, that idea was axiomatic in their thinking. In times of conflict God would come to their aid, they thought. When all else failed God could be counted on and non- Jews would suffer and die outside of God’s favor and love. Jesus’ words deeply offended them because He was reminding them that what they believed about God’s favor might not be true.

Centuries and centuries later, in Italy, it was commonly believed that the earth was the center of the universe. Everyone believed that the sun revolved around the earth and that the earth was the center of the solar system. A Polish scientist by the name of Copernicus had argued otherwise a century earlier, but nobody took him seriously. Then an Italian scientist by the name of Galileo came along and showed them through a telescope that they were all wrong. Italians, including powerful Cardinals in Rome, were shocked and horrified. They had Galileo arrested and silenced because he upset their ways of seeing reality and their self-inflated attitudes about humans being the center of God’s universe. Their minds were up and they didn’t want to be confused by the facts, even facts that came to them through a telescope!

The problem arises, you see, when we are confronted with a truth that requires us to change, to change our attitudes toward people of other races, to change the way we behave, to change our patterns of living. This is what Jesus was about. He wasn’t interested in simply having nice intellectual discussions about interesting ideas. He wasn’t simply talking about tidbits of history. He was calling for a thoroughgoing change in the way they understood themselves, they way they understood God, and what they should be about in their ways of living and relating to other people.

The people of Nazareth realized what they were facing, namely a prophet of God who was confronting them not with a mere debating subject but with a radical change in living. You see, if it was true that God cared for non-Jews, if it was true that God also cared for Gentiles, then it was likewise true that they had to do the same. Well, they had no intention of doing THAT! They were not about to change their pre-judgments. They probably told their racial jokes about “those Gentile people”, and we know they were deeply prejudiced toward Samaritans, much like we were (and sometimes are today) toward Blacks and Native Americans in our own history.

So how do we often react in the face of such confrontations, when we are challenged much like the hometown folks of Nazareth were challenged? We dismiss or even kill the messenger. “If you don’t like the message, well, then, get rid of the messenger,” as the saying goes. If you are in a court trial, make the prosecuting attorneys and the police either look like bullies or like fools. Destroy the witnesses by discrediting them or by ruining their reputations. If the message you are hearing upsets you, destroy either the content of the message or else destroy the messenger.

We like to pride ourselves in thinking that we want to hear the truth. We even tell our wives, our husbands, and our children that we always want to hear the truth from them. But if they present us with a truth that requires us to radically change, watch out!

We tell God we want Him to reveal His will to us. In our piety and in our prayers we tell God we will do anything for Him. We had better be prepared, however, for what He will tell us. Be careful about what you pray for, you may get it.

And so if the truth hurts… well perhaps it should! Too many of us want to shape God into being just like us. We want Him to think like an American, a capitalist, a liberal, a conservative, or whatever. We fancy Him as seeing things just as we see them. All such ideas about God need to be challenged, and then we (not God!) need to change. What hope do we have to grow and be saved if we only worship a God who is just a small, just as mean, and just as petty as we are?

The people of Nazareth are a lot like us. And too often we are much like them. So when the truth hurts, when it confronts and challenges us, we ought to ask ourselves “Why are we so upset?” We ought to take a second look and see if it is God who is causing us growing pains. We will never be saved if we worship only a God who suits us because we’ve made Him over into our own image and likeness. When we pray we should expect change, for prayer changes us, not God.

January 30, 2016

The Holy Father's Prayer Intentions for February 2016

Pope Francis' coat of arms Please remember the Holy Father Pope Francis' intentions in prayer through the month of February:
General Intention: That we may take good care of creation – a gift freely given–cultivating and protecting it for future generations.
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Missionary Intention: That opportunities may increase for dialogue and encounter between the Christian faith and the peoples of Asia.

January 28, 2016

Saint Thomas Aquinas' Prayer of Supplication to God

St. Thomas Aquinas
Grant, O Lord my God, that I may never fall away in success or in failure; that I may not be prideful in prosperity nor dejected in adversity. Let me rejoice only in what unites us and sorrow only in what separates us. May I strive to please no one or fear to displease anyone except Yourself. May I see always the things that are eternal and never those that are only temporal. May I shun any joy that is without You and never seek any that is beside You. O Lord, may I delight in any work I do for You and tire of any rest that is apart from You. My God, let me direct my heart towards You, and in my failings, always repent with a purpose of amendment. Amen.
— St. Thomas Aquinas 

Saint Thomas Aquinas – His Wisdom in 25 Quotations

St. Thomas Aquinas, the universal teacher and one of the most brilliant minds to ever contemplate the ways of God, dispensed wisdom and common sense. In honor of his feast day, here are twenty-five quotes from the Angelic Doctor.

St. Thomas Aquinas

To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.
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The soul is like an uninhabited world that comes to life only when God lays His head against us.
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There is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship.
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Fear is such a powerful emotion for humans that when we allow it to take us over, it drives compassion right out of our hearts.
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Friendship is the source of the greatest pleasures, and without friends even the most agreeable pursuits become tedious.
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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. 
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Sorrow can be alleviated by good sleep, a bath and a glass of wine.
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The Study of philosophy is not that we may know what men have thought, but what the truth of things is.
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Better to illuminate than merely to shine, to deliver to others contemplated truths than merely to contemplate.
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Most men seem to live according to sense rather than reason.
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It is requisite for the relaxation of the mind that we make use, from time to time, of playful deeds and jokes.
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We must love them both, those whose opinions we share and those whose opinions we reject, for both have labored in the search for truth, and both have helped us in finding it.
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Three things are necessary for the salvation of man: to know what he ought to believe; to know what he ought to desire; and to know what he ought to do.
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God is never angry for His sake, only for ours.
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How is it they live in such harmony, the billions of stars, when most men can barely go a minute without declaring war in their minds.
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By nature all men are equal in liberty, but not in other endowments.
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The truth of our faith becomes a matter of ridicule among the infidels if any Catholic, not gifted with the necessary scientific learning, presents as dogma what scientific scrutiny shows to be false.
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A man has free choice to the extent that he is rational.
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I would rather feel compassion than know the meaning of it. I would hope to act with compassion without thinking of personal gain.
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The truth of our faith becomes a matter of ridicule among the infidels if any Catholic, not gifted with the necessary scientific learning, presents as dogma what scientific scrutiny shows to be false.
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Man has free choice, or otherwise counsels, exhortations, commands, prohibitions, rewards and punishments would be in vain. 
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 The happy man in this life needs friends.
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It is not theft, properly speaking, to take secretly and use another's property in a case of extreme need: because that which he takes for the support of his life becomes his own property by reason of that need.
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Faith has to do with things that are not seen, and hope with things that are not in hand.
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Three things are necessary for the salvation of man: to know what he ought to believe; to know what he ought to desire; and to know what he ought to do.

Feast of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Priest and Doctor

St. Thomas Aquinas
Saint Thomas Aquinas [1225-1274] was born in 1225 at the castle of Roccasecca, in Italy. He dedicated his life to creating a complete synthesis of Catholic philosophy and theology. Although humble and quiet, Aquinas possessed one of the most intellectually curious minds in history. He is regarded as the Catholic Church's greatest theologian, philosopher and jurist. In 1244, Aquinas joined the nascent Dominican Order. Nick named the "Dumb Ox" by classmates, in undeserved derision, one of his lecturers, St.Albertus Magnus, exclaimed in reply: "You call him the dumb ox, but in his teaching he will one day produce such a bellowing that it will be heard throughout the world."

Aquinas' greatest work, the Summa Theologica is the definitive text for those studying to be priests. It is a work universally revered and consulted by adherents of multiple faiths, as well as those who profess none. Aquinas is the pride of the Dominican Orders. In addition to his intellectual prowess, he is known for his purity and selfless charity. St. Thomas died on March 7, 1274, while writing a commentary on the Song of Songs. Three months prior to his passing, he experienced an epiphany of such magnitude that next to it, his writing, in Aquinas' words: "appears to be as so much straw after the things that have been revealed to me." Fifty years after his death Pope John XXII pronounced Thomas a saint. Pope Pius V declared Saint Thomas a doctor of the church, saying Thomas was "the most brilliant light of the Church."
The Life of St. Thomas Aquinas

St. Thomas ranks among the greatest writers and theologians of all time. His most important work, the Summa Theologiae, an explanation and summary of the entire body of Catholic teaching, has been standard for centuries, even to our own day. At the Council of Trent it was consulted after the Bible.

To a deeply speculative mind, he joined a remarkable life of prayer, a precious memento of which has been left to us in the Office of Corpus Christi. Reputed as great already in life, he nevertheless remained modest, a perfect model of childlike simplicity and goodness. He was mild in word and kind in deed. He believed everyone was as innocent as he himself was. When someone sinned through weakness, Thomas bemoaned the sin as if it were his own. The goodness of his heart shone in his face, no one could look upon him and remain disconsolate. How he suffered with the poor and the needy was most inspiring. Whatever clothing or other items he could give away, he gladly did. He kept nothing superfluous in his efforts to alleviate the needs of others.

After he died his lifelong companion and confessor testified, "I have always known him to be as innocent as a five-year-old child. Never did a carnal temptation soil his soul, never did he consent to a mortal sin." He cherished a most tender devotion to St. Agnes, constantly carrying relics of this virgin martyr on his person. He died in 1274, at the age of fifty, in the abbey of Fossa Nuova. He is the patron saint of schools and of sacred theology.

Excerpted from The Church's Year of Grace, Pius Parsch

Patron: Academics; against storms; against lightning; apologists; book sellers; Catholic academies; Catholic schools; Catholic universities; chastity; colleges; learning; lightning; pencil makers; philosophers; publishers; scholars; schools; storms; students; theologians; universities; University of Vigo.

Symbols: Chalice; monstrance; ox; star; sun; teacher with pagan philosophers at his feet; teaching.

Collect Prayer

O God, who made Saint Thomas Aquinas outstanding in his zeal for holiness and his study of sacred doctrine, grant us, we pray, that we may understand what he taught and imitate what he accomplished. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Prayer of St. Thomas Aquinas

Thanksgiving After Mass

Lord, Father all-powerful and ever-living God, I thank You, for
even though I am a sinner, your unprofitable servant, not
because of my worth but in the kindness of your mercy,
You have fed me with the Precious Body & Blood of Your Son,
our Lord Jesus Christ.
I pray that this Holy Communion may not bring me
condemnation and punishment but forgiveness and salvation.
May it be a helmet of faith and a shield of good will.
 May it purify me from evil ways and put an end to my evil passions.
May it bring me charity and patience, humility and obedience,
and growth in the power to do good.
May it be my strong defense against all my enemies, visible and invisible, and the perfect calming of all my evil impulses,
bodily and spiritual.
May it unite me more closely to you, the One true God, and lead me
safely through death to everlasting happiness with You.
And I pray that You will lead me, a sinner, to the banquet where you,
with Your Son and holy Spirit, are true and perfect light, total fulfillment, everlasting joy, gladness without end, and perfect
happiness to your saints. grant this through Christ our Lord. Amen.



January 27, 2016

Optional Memorial of Saint Angela Merici, Foundress and Virgin

St. Angela Merici
Saint Angela Merici was born in northern Italy in the year 1474. At age 15, she and her older sister were left orphans. A short time later, her sister would die without receiving Last Rites. Angela was most alarmed by this and prayed fervently for her sister’s soul. By God’s grace, Angela received a vision confirming her sister was indeed in heaven among the saints. Angela dedicated her life to Christ; spending countless hours educating and tending to the needs of poor women and girls.

In Crete, on a trip to the Holy Land, she was struck blind [praying in front of a crucifix]. Friends urged her to return home but Angela continued the pilgrimage with as much devotion as if she could see. Upon her return, Angela’s sight was restored while praying in front of a crucifix at the same place where she was struck blind. At age 57, she founded the first teaching order of religious sisters in the Church as well as the first “secular institute” of religious women.

The Life of St. Angela Merici

The saint was born in 1474 in the diocese of Verona. Early in life she dedicated herself to Christ as His bride. After the death of her parents, she desired to live solely for God in quiet and solitude, but her uncle insisted that she manage his household. She renounced her patrimony to observe more perfectly her discipleship in the imitation of Christ.

As a young woman Angela became a member of the Third Order of St. Francis [now known as the Secular Franciscan Order] and lived a life of great austerity, wishing, like St. Francis, to own nothing, not even a bed. Early in life she was appalled at the ignorance among poorer children, whose parents could not or would not teach them the elements of religion. Angela’s charming manner and good looks complemented her natural qualities of leadership. Others joined her in giving instruction to the little girls of their neighborhood.

She was invited to live with a family in Brescia [where, she had been told in a vision, she would one day found a religious community]. Her work continued and became well known. She became the center of a group of people with similar ideals.

During a pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 1524, she lost her eyesight temporarily. Pope Clement VII, whom she visited in Rome, desired her to remain in the Holy City. Later she founded a society for girls, under the protection of St. Ursula; this was the beginning of the Ursuline Order. St. Angela was almost seventy when she died; her body remained incorrupt for thirty days. Remarkable phenomena occurred at her burial in the Church of St. Afra.

Adapted excerpts from The Church's Year of Grace, Pius Parsch and "St. Angela Merici", American Catholic.

Patron: Bodily ills; disabled people; handicapped people; illness; loss of parents; physically challenged people; sick people; sickness.

Symbols: Cloak; ladder.

Prayer in Honor of St. Angela Merici

May the Virgin Saint Angela never fail to commend us
to Your compassion, O Lord, we pray,
that, following the lessons of her charity and prudence,
we may hold fast to Your teaching
and express it in what we do.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
who lives and reigns with You
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Litany of St. Angela Merici

Holy Mary, Mother of God, and faithful guardian of
our mother Saint Angela, Pray for us.
Saint Angela Merici, Pray for us.
St. Angela, favored with the choicest gifts of God from
thine infancy, Pray for us.
St. Angela, who didst give thyself to the practice of all
the virtues from thy tenderest years, Pray for us.

St. Angela, who didst always preserve a spotless purity,
Pray for us.
St. Angela, who by thy love for holy purity, didst merit
to receive thy name, Pray for us.
St. Angela, who from childhood found thy delight in
solitude, Pray for us.
St. Angela, who led an angelic life in the house of thy
parents, Pray for us.

O God, Who by means of our blessed mother Saint
Angela didst cause a new Order of holy virgins to
flourish in Thy Church, grant, through her
intercession, that we may imitate her angelic virtues,
and forsaking all earthly things, may be found worthy
of eternal bliss, through Jesus Christ Our Lord. Amen.

To pray the litany in full go here


January 26, 2016

January 25: Memorial of St. Timothy and St. Titus


Saint Timothy was born in Galatia in Asia Minor, [present day Turkey] the son of a Greek father and a Jewish mother. He was later baptized and ordained to the priesthood by Saint Paul, his mentor and advisor. Timothy replaced Barnabas as Paul's missionary companion and in time became his most beloved spiritual son. He accompanied Paul on numerous missionary journeys and according to tradition was the bishop of Ephesus. St. Timothy was stoned to death for denouncing the worship of the goddess Diana during the festival of Katagogian in the year 96.

Saint Titus was a convert from paganism who worked with St. Paul on many apostolic missions. He served as bishop of Crete, a challenging ministry because of the nature of the inhabitants and the spread of erroneous doctrines there. St. Paul's writings show that St. Titus rejoiced in seeing the good in others and inspired great admiration for his compassionate teaching and affectionate sympathy.

The Life of St. Timothy

Timothy was Paul's dearest disciple, his most steadfast associate. He was converted during the apostle's first missionary journey. When Paul revisited Lystra, Timothy, though still very young (about twenty) joined him as a co-worker and companion. Thereafter, there existed between them a most intimate bond, as between father and son. St. Paul calls him his beloved child, devoted to him "like a son to his father" (Phil. 2:22). Of a kindly disposition, unselfish, prudent, zealous, he was a great consolation to Paul, particularly in the sufferings of his later years. He also assisted the apostle in the establishment of all the major Christian communities and was entrusted with missions of highest importance. Timothy was with Paul during his first Roman imprisonment. Paul made his self-sacrificing companion bishop of Ephesus, but the finest monument left him by his master are the two canonical Epistles bearing his name.

Excerpted from The Church's Year of Grace, Pius Parsch

Patron: Intestinal disorders; stomach diseases.

Symbols: Club and stones; broken image of Diana.

Life of St. Titus

St. Titus, a pagan by birth, became one of St. Paul's most illustrious disciples. He accompanied the apostle on several of his missionary journeys and was entrusted with important missions. Finally he came with St. Paul to the island of Crete, where he was appointed bishop. He performed this duty in accordance with the admonition given him, ". . . in all things show yourself an example of good works" (Tit. 2:7).

Tradition tells us that he died a natural death at the age of 94, having lived in the state of virginity during his whole life. St. Paul left a worthy monument to Titus, his faithful disciple, in the beautiful pastoral letter which forms part of the New Testament. Today's feast in his honor was introduced in 1854.

Excerpted from The Church's Year of Grace, Pius Parsch

Patron: Crete.

Symbols: Broken images; ruined temple of Jupiter.

Prayer for the Intercession of Saints Timothy and Titus

God our Father,
You gave Your saints Timothy and Titus
the courage and wisdom of the apostles:
may their prayers help us to live holy lives
and lead us to heaven, our true home.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
who lives and reigns with you
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


Ten Things About Saint Thomas Aquinas That Every Catholic Should Know

St. Thomas Aquinas

One of the most brilliant minds in the history of the Church, St. Thomas Aquinas was born in 1225 at the castle of Roccasecca, in the present day Lazio region of Italy, the youngest of nine children. Thomas’ father was a man of means and nobility. Thomas's mother would try to prevent Thomas from joining the Dominican Order. His family expected him to enter the Benedictine Abbey where his uncle was the abbot. Thomas Aquinas dedicated his life to creating a complete synthesis of Catholic philosophy and theology. In honor of his feast day, [January 28] here are ten things every Catholic should know about the Angelic Doctor.

1. Before Aquinas was born, a holy hermit told his mother that her son would be a great learner and achieve unrivaled sanctity.

From, "Saint Thomas Aquinas of the Order of Preachers," by Fr. Placid Conway, OP, comes this account of the holy hermit’s prediction concerning the unborn Aquinas’ future life and accomplishments:
The future holiness of the unborn babe was disclosed to his mother by a holy hermit of the neighbourhood, known simply as Buono, or God’s good man. Clad in a rough garment, and with hair unkempt, he presented himself at Rocca Secca, and pointing to a picture of the holy patriarch Saint Dominic, who was not yet canonized, he thus addressed the Countess: Lady, be glad, for thou art about to have a son whom thou shalt call Thomas. Thou and thy husband will think if making him a monk in the Abbey of Monte Cassino, where Saint Benedict’s body reposes, in the hopes that your son will attain to its honours and wealth. But God has disposed otherwise, because he will become a friar of the Order of Preachers and so great will be his learning and sanctity that his equal will not be found through the whole world. Theodora listened with awe to the presage, then, falling upon her knees, exclaimed "I am all unworthy of bearing such a son, but, God’s will be done according to His good pleasure."
The pride Aquinas’ mother must have felt at hearing the hermit’s words was tempered by disappointment. Her long held aspiration was for her youngest son to join the Benedictine Order. The Dominicans were mendicants – preaching beggars who evangelized and served the unwashed masses of the poor – a vocation she felt was beneath Thomas. Together with her husband and sons, Theodora would spend the next two decades trying to dictate Thomas’ calling.

2. Why was Aquinas called "The Dumb Ox"?

According to popular piety, one day, Thomas’ brothers mocked his trusting nature by telling him that an ox had taken flight. As Thomas rushed to the window, his brothers burst out laughing. One brother asked, "Thomas, are you so dumb that you think an ox can fly!" to which Thomas replied, "I would sooner believe that an ox could fly than that my own brothers would lie to me."

Another oft quoted explanation for Aquinas’ sobriquet:

Because Thomas was quiet and spoke little, fellow students thinking he was slow named him "the dumb ox". But one of their lecturers [the great Medieval German philosopher and saint] Albertus Magnus prophetically exclaimed: "You call him the dumb ox, but in his teaching he will one day produce such a bellowing that it will be heard throughout the world."

3. Aquinas repulsed an "indecent proposal".

Not long after entering the Order of Preachers, Thomas was abducted by his brothers who imprisoned him at the castle tower in the village of Monte San Giovanni. There he was stripped of his religious habit, deprived of every comfort and humiliated. Despite his treatment, Thomas showed no signs of acquiescing to his family’s demand that he become a Benedictine.

So desperate was his family to dissuade Thomas that two of his brothers hired a prostitute to seduce him. According to legend, Thomas drove the woman away with a fire iron. That night as he slept, two angels appeared to him and strengthened his determination to remain celibate with the grace of eternal virginity by girding him with a mystical belt of purity.

St. Thomas Aquinas

Chesterton’s account, while dated in expression, is worth reading:
[Thomas’] brothers introduced into his room some specially gorgeous and painted courtesan, with the idea of surprising him by a sudden temptation, or at least involving him in a scandal. His anger was justified, even by less strict moral standards than his own; for the meanness was even worse than the foulness of the expedient. Even on the lowest grounds, he knew his brothers knew, and they knew that he knew, that it was an insult to him as a gentleman to suppose that he would break his pledge upon so base a provocation; and he had behind him a far more terrible sensibility; all that huge ambition of humility which was to him the voice of God out of heaven. 
In this one flash alone we see that huge unwieldy figure in an attitude of activity, or even animation; and he was very animated indeed. He sprang from his seat and snatched a brand out of the fire, and stood brandishing it like a flaming sword. The woman not unnaturally shrieked and fled, which was all that he wanted; but it is quaint to think of what she must have thought of that madman of monstrous stature juggling with flames and apparently threatening to burn down the house. All he did, however, was to stride after her to the door and bang and bar it behind her; and then, with a sort of impulse of violent ritual, he rammed the burning brand into the door, blackening and blistering it with one big black sign of the cross. Then he returned, and dropped it again into the fire; and sat down on that seat of sedentary scholarship, that chair of philosophy, that secret throne of contemplation, from which he never rose again.
Read G. K. Chesterton‘s Saint Thomas Aquinas in its entirety.

4. Aquinas wrote the Summa as an introductory text for beginners.

In 1265, Pope Clement IV summoned Aquinas to Rome to serve as the papal theologian. Later, he was ordered by the Dominicans to teach at the studium conventuale, the first school of its kind to teach the full range of philosophical subjects of both the moral and natural natures.

There Thomas wrote his most famous work, Summa Theologica, which he deemed particularly useful to beginning students "Because a doctor of Catholic truth ought not only to teach the proficient, but to him pertains also to instruct beginners. As the Apostle says in 1 Corinthians 3:1–2, as to infants in Christ, I gave you milk to drink, not meat, our proposed intention in this work is to convey those things that pertain to the Christian religion in a way that is fitting to the instruction of beginners." Aquinas intended the Summa to be an introductory text; to be followed later by more advanced treaties. [After reading the Summa Theologica it is hard to image a more superlative or developed volume of theology.]

5. Aquinas "baptized" Aristotle.

Combining the theological principles of faith with Aristotle’s empirical philosophy, Aquinas was the most influential thinker of Medieval Scholasticism. One often hears said that Aquinas "baptized" Aristotle. It is an apt metaphor as James Kiefer’s commentary illustrates:

"In the thirteenth century, when Thomas Aquinas lived, the works of Aristotle, largely forgotten in Western Europe, began to be available again, partly from Eastern European sources and partly from Moslem Arab sources in Africa and Spain. These works offered a new and exciting way of looking at the world. Many enthusiastic students of Aristotle adopted him quite frankly as as an alternative to Christianity. The response of many Christians was to denounce Aristotle as an enemy of the Christian Faith. A third approach was that of those who tried to hold both Christian and Aristotelian views side by side with no attempt to reconcile the two. Aquinas had a fourth approach. While remaining a Christian, he immersed himself in the ideas of Aristotle, and then undertook to explain Christian ideas and beliefs in language that would make sense to disciples of Aristotle. At the time, this seemed like a very dangerous and radical idea, and Aquinas spent much of his life living on the edge of ecclesiastical approval. His success can be measured by the prevalence today of the notion that of course all Christian scholars in the Middle Ages were followers of Aristotle.

Aristotle is no longer the latest intellectual fashion, but Aquinas’s insistence that the Christian scholar must be prepared to meet other scholars on their own ground, to become familiar with their viewpoints, to argue from their premises, has been a permanent and valuable contribution to Christian thought."

Aquinas believed that reason – what we know through our intellect, and revelation – what God tells us through revelation, are complementary not contradictory. His revolutionary insight has reached throughout the world and across time.

6. During his lifetime, portions of Aquinas’ Summa were condemned.

In December 1270, the Bishop of Paris, Etienne Tempier, formally condemned thirteen Aristotelian and Averroistic propositions as heretical. Critics in the ecclesiastical community feared that the introduction of such concepts would undermine the purity of the Christian faith.

Again in 1277, Bishop Tempier, issued a second more extensive condemnation. Its primary objective was to assert that God's power transcended any principles of logic. Contained within it was a list of 219 propositions that the Bishop deemed to violate the omnipotence of God, including twenty Thomistic propositions. This badly damaged Aquinas’ reputation for decades. It took nearly a century for Thomism to regain its standing.

7. Aquinas was beholden to the truth, not political correctness.

Aquinas does not discuss Islam expressly, save for two instances. In one, he defends Christianity against Muslim objections [See Summa contra Gentiles] noting that; the blood of Christian martyrs leads to coverts, whereas Islam is spread by the sword. Moreover, Aquinas compares and contrasts Christ’s selfless divinity with Mohammed’s ruthless humanity. To wit, in Aquinas’ own words:
He [Mohammed] did not bring forth any signs produced in a supernatural way, which alone fittingly gives witness to divine inspiration; for a visible action that can be only divine reveals an invisibly inspired teacher of truth. On the contrary, Mohammed said that he was sent in the power of his arms – which are signs not lacking even to robbers and tyrants.
Today, in the increasingly secularized arenas of the academy and the public square, such commentary would be met with condemnation and disdain. Aquinas was more concerned with empirical evidence and objective truth that are at the heart of his marriage of faith and reason. His moral and theological insights are unencumbered by a politically correct sentimentality.

8. On occasion, Aquinas had spiritual ecstasies and could levitate.

For centuries, there have existed recurring claims that Aquinas had the ability to levitate. G. K. Chesterton wrote that, "His experiences included well-attested cases of levitation in ecstasy; and the Blessed Virgin appeared to him, comforting him with the welcome news that he would never be a Bishop."

One contemporary of St Thomas, a Dominican brother, recorded in his diary that Aquinas had levitated while praying in the chapel. Other friars testified to miraculous events surrounding Thomas during his lifetime.

Skeptics of Aquinas’ levitation say the stories are the product of subsequent hagiographers seeking to embellish the saint's legacy. Whatever the case, it is beyond doubt that St. Thomas Aquinas knew the mind of Christ and the will of God to a privileged degree.

9. While saying Mass, Aquinas experienced an epiphany and would never write again.

One morning, after celebrating Mass, when Thomas was 48 years old, he stopped writing. When asked why, he answered: "The end of my labors has come. All that I have written appears to be as so much straw after the things that have been revealed to me."

This is what happened. On the feast of St. Nicholas [December 6] Thomas had a vision of Christ, who said to him, “You have written well of me, Thomas. What reward would you have for your labor?” Thomas answered, "Nothing but you, Lord." Jesus gave him what he asked, and Thomas seems to have recognized how infinitely superior this new wisdom was to anything he had ever known. Three months later he passed into eternal life.

10. At the Council of Trent, Aquinas’ Summa Theologica was placed on the altar alongside the Bible and the Decretals.

The Jacques Maritain Center’s website features an excellent overview of Aquinas’ Summa Theologica and the role it has played in guiding and safeguarding Church doctrine during numerous Ecumenical Councils. From the website:
The greatest praise that can be bestowed upon St. Thomas is to be found in the history of the General Councils of the Church. "In the Councils of Lyons, Vienne, Florence, and in the Vatican Council," writes Leo XIII, "you might say that St. Thomas was present in the deliberations and decrees of the Fathers and, as it were, presided over them, contending against the errors of the Greeks, the heretics, the rationalists, with overpowering force and the happiest results. And it was an honor reserved to St. Thomas alone, and shared by none of the other Doctors of the Church, that the Fathers of Trent in their hall of assembly decided to place on the altar side by side with the Holy Scriptures and the Decrees of the Roman Pontiffs the Summa of St. Thomas, to seek in it counsel, arguments and decisions for their purpose
Over seven centuries since his death, St. Thomas Aquinas’ thought still resonates. Its value is universally recognized and respected. Aquinas’ intellectual curiosity and life of heroic virtue continue to enlighten and inspire. Reading the Summa Theologica in a spirit of understanding, openness and prayer will profit one immensely. St. Thomas Aquinas, Universal Teacher, pray for us!

January 25, 2016

January 24: Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul

Conversion of St. Paul

Saint Paul [named Saul prior to his conversion] was a Jew of the tribe of Benjamin, born in Tarsus, the capitol of Cilicia. Saul was a Roman citizen and devout Jew who strictly followed the precepts of his faith. He grew to became a violent persecutor of Christians. While traveling to Damascus Saul beheld a miraculous apparition of Our Lord. By virtue of his encounter with Christ, Saul, now Paul, went from persecutor to Apostle. Divine Providence ordained him Apostle of the Gentiles. Paul made three missionary journeys to Asia Minor and southern Europe where he won many converts for the faith. The New Testament contains fourteen of his Epistles. In the year 66, Paul was beheaded in Rome and received the crown of martyrdom. His remains are kept in the Basilica of St. Paul near the Ostian Way. The effect of his evangelization cannot be exaggerated.

The Life of St. Paul

St. Paul was born at Tarsus of Jewish parents who were descended from the tribe of Benjamin. He was a Roman citizen from birth. As he was "a young man" at the stoning of Stephen and "an old man" when writing to Philemon, about the year 63, he was probably born around the beginning of the Christian era.

To complete his schooling, St. Paul was sent to Jerusalem, where he sat at the feet of the learned Gamaliel and was educated in the strict observance of the ancestral Law. Here he also acquired a good knowledge of exegesis and was trained in the practice of disputation. As a convinced and zealous Pharisee, he returned to Tarsus before the public life of Christ opened in Palestine.

Some time after the death of Our Lord, St. Paul returned to Palestine. His profound conviction made his zeal develop to a religious fanaticism against the infant Church. He took part in the stoning of the first martyr, St. Stephen, and in the fierce persecution of the Christians that followed.

Entrusted with a formal mission from the high priest, he departed for Damascus to arrest the Christians there and bring them bound to Jerusalem. As he was nearing Damascus, about noon, a light from heaven suddenly blazed round him. Jesus with His glorified body appeared to him and addressed him, turning him away from his apparently successful career.

An immediate transformation was wrought in the soul of St. Paul. He was suddenly converted to the Christian Faith. He was baptized, changed his name from Saul to Paul, and began travelling and preaching the Faith. He was martyred as an Apostle in Rome around 65 AD.

Excerpted from Lives of the Saints.

Patron: missionaries; evangelists; writers; journalists; authors; public workers; rope and saddle makers; tent makers

Collect Prayer

O God, who taught the whole world through the preaching of the blessed Apostle Paul, draw us, we pray, nearer to you through the example of him whose conversion we celebrate today, and so make us witnesses to your truth in the world. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Prayer for the Intercession of St. Paul

In this prayer, we ask for the intercession of St. Paul, whom the Holy Spirit guided in his preaching, so that we too may be guided in the ways of the Lord.

Thou art the vessel of election, St. Paul the Apostle, the Preacher of truth in the whole world.

V. Pray for us, St. Paul the Apostle.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray.

Almighty and everlasting God, who, of Thy divine mercy, didst instruct Thy blessed Apostle Paul what he should do that he might be filled with the Holy Ghost; by his admonitions directing us and his merits interceding for us, grant that we may serve Thee in fear and trembling and so be filled with the comfort of Thy heavenly gift. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.


January's Blog of Note: The Catholic Gentleman’s Guide


January's blog of note is Catholic Gentleman’s Guide. The site features numerous articles about authentic manliness in the imitation of Christ. Site creator, Matthew, a husband, father of three and lifelong Catholic, realized that: "Our modern world can be a challenging place in which to live as a Catholic Man." He created Catholic Gentleman’s Guide to: "provide a source of encouragement and Faith formation for Catholic Men in all walks of life as we persevere on our paths of manly holiness!" The Catholic Gentleman’s Guide is a clarion call to Catholic men to fulfill their duties as sons, brothers, fathers, husbands, mentors, and disciples of our Lord. From the site's about page:
Catholic Gentleman’s Guide’s mission is to be everything Catholic and everything Man. Its mission is to provide a source of encouragement and Faith formation for Catholic Men who want to make the most of their Manhood for Christ. We can become Men of God, by building up habits of virtue, discernment, and purpose in all our accomplishments each and every day as we direct our lives toward Manly Holiness. This is the mission of Catholic Gentleman’s Guide.
This Catholic weblog will benefit men of any age. The subject matter discussed is relevant to those in the springtime of their lives as well as those whose career endeavours and personal vocations are well established. Whether you are single, married, aspiring to marriage, a cleric, or discerning a religious vocation, the Catholic Gentleman’s Guide has something to offer. I frequent the site and find its content to be thought provoking and informative. I encourage you to make it part of your internet viewing itinerary.

January 24, 2016

Homily for the 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, January 24, 2016, Year C

Fr. Charles Irvin
Senior Priest
Diocese of Lansing

Christ preaching at the synagogue in Nazareth
(Click here for today’s readings)

All of us are quite familiar with inaugural addresses, especially when presidents of our country take office and begin their elected terms. Some of these addresses are, of course, more memorable than others. Unfortunately much of the content of these inaugural addresses bear little relationship to the actions of these presidents subsequent to their addresses. John F. Kennedy’s memorable inaugural address might be an exception. I have a framed copy of it because it’s such a classic.

Jesus Christ gave an inaugural address shortly after He returned from spending forty days and forty nights in the desert preparing for His public ministry. He returned to His own hometown of Nazareth to begin His public ministry. His inaugural address is what you just heard reported in today’s Gospel account:
He came to Nazareth where he had grown up, and went according to his custom into the synagogue on the Sabbath day. He stood up to read and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah. He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written: ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.’ Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down, and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him. He said to them, ‘Today this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.'
Can we make Christ’s vision come true? It seems to me that the answer is “yes.” And to the extent that it isn’t yet true, we can work to make it come true. As a matter of fact we must make it come true. A huge part of our human misery is found in our human rejection of that visionary declaration of Jesus. We can, however, do our part to make it come true if we put aside our human differences, accept our commonly shared humanity, and live as members of one human body in shared common good. We, you and I, by the way we live our lives and relate to others, ought to be able to say: “Today this Scripture passage is being fulfilled in your hearing.”

But we know that we Americans have a long way to go in order to live in fulfillment of the scriptures. Here, I think, are some of the issues which we Americans need to address:

The phrase “separation of Church and State” has been twisted into a new phrase; “separation of religion from society.” Every year there are those who want the celebration of Christmas is to be suppressed and supplanted with a celebration of what they want to call The Winter Holidays. Abortion, euthanasia, the degrading of marriage, and dissolution of what we mean by the word “family” along with a bogus morality that is nothing more than simply “don’t get caught”, all are ravaging our culture. Freedom of choice has been changed to mean you have license to do what you feel like doing so long as you get away with it without getting caught. This was not the vision of our forbears when they established these United States over two-hundred years ago.

All too many Americans are of the opinion that religion and moral norms are a matter of private, personal preference. We are told that our faith should have no bearing in our public activity, and that religion, politics, and the norms to which we should hold our public school teachers and elected public officials should be purely secular. Separation of Church and State is continually invoked. We are entitled now, I think, to ask whether separation of religion and morals from public life has brought us to the crisis in which we presently find ourselves in our American culture and society.

Liberty and freedom of choice, our nation’s Founding Fathers believed, are grounded upon our acting morally with each other. President Thomas Jefferson once wrote, “No nation has ever yet existed or been governed without religion. Nor can be. The Christian religion is the best religion that has been given to man, and I as chief magistrate of this nation am bound to give it the sanction of my example.”

Lack of morals has a lot to do with sexual exploitation, the degrading of women, abuse of children, the abuse of power, and exploitation on the part of our corporate executives. What are the norms to which we hold ourselves as a civic society, and all of that is expressed, or ought to be expressed, in the highest public officials we elect to office? When listening, however, to TV talk show experts expounding on the terrible tragedies that have occurred in our country, have you ever heard them talk about morals? No. The discussions look to psychology and ignore morality, treating morality as if it’s irrelevant.

On the walls of the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C. you will find this quote: “God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that his justice cannot sleep forever.”

Jesus Christ’s vision, values, and activities matched the words of His inaugural address. He died to bring freedom to those held captive in webs of lies and deceit, to those held captive in addictive behavior patterns, along with freedom to those held captive and victimized under exploitative power. His vision brought us light, light in which to see the truth plainly and simply, so that we could say “yes” plainly and simply when we meant yes, and “no” equally as plainly and simply when we meant no.

The consequences of separating religion, morals and values from our public life are manifestly disastrous and can only lead us into deeper darkness and imprisonment under the domination of exploitative and corrupting power. Does anyone need further proof than that which is presently before us all to see in our television programs and in our newspapers?

The Bible, you see, isn’t so much as a creed to be accepted, as it is a task to be accomplished. We, with Christ, can be out there in the reality of our world making His vision come true. We can be bringing good news to the poor, liberty to those held in the slavery of addictions and compulsions. We can be giving the light of knowledge and vision to those who are blinded by this world’s darkness, and release those held in the bondage of contempt and prejudice.

Too many people, even nominal Christians, are spending too much time debunking the Bible, debunking religion, and trying to secularize our children and our world. They should be asking the question: Why can’t we make it all come true?

Christian values are not altogether different from the values of other great world religions. Respecting life, living in honesty and truth, establishing justice, working for peace, and building up our families are all things that we Americans should be about. To be told that we should keep our values to ourselves is totally un-American, a denial of our freedom to speak openly and publicly about what we hold to be true, and a denial of our basic human and civil rights. Keeping our values to ourselves ultimately leads to the downfall of our nation.

The Spirit of the Lord is upon you. He has anointed you and given you His gifts of wisdom, understanding, knowledge, steadfastness and courage. Live your commissioning boldly and courageously. With those first apostles, burst out of your private rooms and go out into the public square and there, along with those apostles, proclaim the values and the freedom that Jesus Christ suffered, died and rose from the dead to give us.

January 22, 2016

January 22: Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children

Mary and Jesus

January 22 is the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. It is the day established by the Church of penance for abortion, having been formally named as the "Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children." On this day, many churches celebrate the Mass for Giving Thanks to God for the Gift of Human Life. This Mass, found in the newly-translated Missal, may now be used to celebrate the dignity of human life.

All Human Beings are Made in the Image and Likeness of God

Love is not merely a feeling, but is rather the desire for the best possible good for those whom we love. Through our natural intelligence and through Divine Revelation we become aware of the value of this most basic of all gifts which is life. Mere reason leads us to comprehend that it is better to be alive than never to have had been in existence. The knowledge of the value of life that comes through revelation leads us to understand better this gift and to appreciate it: as a result, we worship and love more and more the Giver of this gift. This love is what moves us to protect the life of the unborn or any who might be unjustly treated. We are also led to protect women who might feel tempted or forced to commit abortion, as we know the devastating consequences that abortion will have in their lives. Last but not least we have to love, even if most of them seem to be utterly unlovable, the many perpetrators of abortion: medical personnel, pro-abortion activists and politicians. We have to do everything that we can to convince them of their errors so that they repent and change their ways, both for their own benefit and for the benefit of society.

All human beings are created in the image and likeness of God. Using a traditional scholastic term, we can state that He is the exemplary cause of every human being, in other words, He is the model on which all human beings are created. He looked upon himself and wished that other beings would share in His own happiness. So if we reflect upon ourselves, we can begin to understand our participation in the greatness of our Creator. This participation on His greatness leads us to comprehend that He has brought us out of nothing with a purpose, because knowing His intelligence and His loving nature it is clear that all His actions are always guided by a magnificent purpose. The first intention for which He has created us is that we should enjoy for an eternity His loving company in Heaven. All human persons are called to this eternal and loving company, no one is excluded, save those who, through their own actions, exclude themselves.

This manner of creation brings us to understand the unique essential dignity of every human being. A dignity that is not lost for any deprivation of the many external perfections that we might expect to find in a human person. A person might be born with a disability, or may suffer disability through injury or disease, but these deprivations do not affect his basic dignity. A Christian also has the hope that one day when the doors of Paradise will be opened for those children, all their human imperfections will be healed and they will enjoy forever the beatific vision that we all long for.

We are also created to be collaborators in the salvation of the World. The Lord normally does not intervene directly in the world; He does it through our free collaboration in his plans of salvation. He gives to us the saving truths through Holy Scripture, our natural reason and the mediation of the Church and we have to manifest them in our daily lives. If we love those truths we should be impelled to share them with all whom the Lord places in front of us. So when we speak with love and conviction of those truths we cannot be accused of carrying out an exaggerated rhetoric when we defend human life from its biological beginning until natural death.

Nobody in his right mind can call it "vitriolic rhetoric" when we denounce that millions upon millions of unborn babies have been killed in the womb in the U.S. and in the rest of the world. It is literally a question of life and death, for the victim, for the mother of the baby and for the perpetrator of abortion, assisted suicide or euthanasia. The victim will have his earthly life terminated; the mother will suffer greatly for her actions, and the perpetrator and the mother will live under the shadow of the unhappiness of having rejected the loving truths of their Creator and certainly they will place their eternal salvation in jeopardy. Our main solidarity has to be always with the victim of the crime, because if the conscience of the nation is not moved by this growing injustice, we know that a growing number will be victimized in the future. Our solidarity is also with the mothers of those babies because often they have been misled or forced into committing this terrible action.

Last but not least we wish and pray that all abortionists will understand the terrible consequences of their actions and be converted.

Excerpted from Spirit & Life, Monsignor Ignacio Barreiro-Carámbula.

Collect Prayer

God our Creator, we give thanks to you, who alone have the power to impart the breath of life as you form each of us in our mother's womb; grant, we pray, that we, whom you have made stewards of creation, may remain faithful to this sacred trust and constant in safeguarding the dignity of every human life. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

The Novena of Reparation for Roe vs. Wade, Day 9

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Today is the ninth day of the Novena of Reparation for Roe vs. Wade and to end the wanton destruction of innocent human life that is the tragic result of the abortion holocaust.

Prayer of Reparation


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

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

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

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

We pray through Christ our Lord. Amen.

January 21, 2016

The Real Presence: A Defense of the Eucharist

The Mass

Most non-Catholics see the Catholic Church’s teaching on the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist as something of a nonessential liturgical oddity. Today, unfortunately, many self-described Catholics share this view. The Church solemnly professes that the Eucharist, as the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ, is the source and summit of the faith. Because of this, some accuse the Church of idolatry – i.e., worshiping something which is not God with the adoration due to Him alone. That the Real Presence is not reverenced, but misunderstood and even maligned, is a scandal of the greatest magnitude.

For the first 1,500 years of Christendom, the Real Presence was universal and unquestioned. With the Reformation, that unanimity was broken. In the five centuries since, various erroneous interpretations have emerged.

There are four views predominate among Christians concerning the Eucharist. The first three are those advanced by various denominations of our separated brethren, hereafter referred to as Protestants.

Consubstantiation

Also called "sacramental union," this understanding of the Eucharist holds that the substance of Jesus Christ exists alongside the substance of the bread and wine. While the Eucharist is referred to as the real presence, the bread and wine remain. Subscribers of this view believe that communicants receive both bread and wine and the body and blood of Our Lord. While similar in some respects to the Church’s teaching – consubstantiation is incorrect.

The main points about consubstantiation are:

It is thought to be the body and blood of Christ and bread and wine
Jesus Christ is understood to be really physically present
The substance of bread and wine remain

Spiritual Presence

Certain Protestant denominations hold that Jesus Christ is only spiritually present in the bread and wine. Thus, Jesus is not present physically and the bread and wine remain unchanged. Adherents to this view refer to the host [falsely] as the "real presence”, even though it is diametrically opposite to the Church’s understanding as taught by Christ and Sacred Tradition.

The important points to note about spiritual presence are:

The bread and wine remain unaltered
Jesus Christ is thought to be only spiritually present

Symbolic

A majority of Protestant denominations hold that communion is symbolic. The bread and wine are just food to be shared communally in a meal that expresses the unity of the faith community. It is no more significant than a meal outside of Church, albeit some Protestants ascribe to it greater significance due to its occurrence as part of prayer and worship. Hence rarely is it referred to as the "Eucharist" or "Real Presence".

This symbolic aspect of the Eucharist is true for all Christians. However, Our Lord makes clear several times in the Gospels that the Eucharist is His Body and His Blood, and He calls us to believe in and partake of His Real Presence as His disciples.

Transubstantiation

This understand of the Eucharist is the correct one. It is based upon Christ’s own words as found in Sacred Scripture and in the writings of the Church Fathers. It is held by the Catholic and the Orthodox Churches.

Transubstantiation refers to the bread changing into Christ’s Body at the moment of consecration. While the bread and wine look, feel and taste the same [Aquinas called these "accidents"] they are really the body and blood of Jesus. In short, the whole substance of the bread and wine become the whole substance of Christ’s Body.

This is, indeed, the only possible interpretation given Christ’s words in Scripture and the testimony of Sacred Tradition on the matter.

The main points about transubstantiation are:

The Eucharist is the body and blood, soul and divinity of Christ
Jesus Christ is really present in a physical way [body and blood, soul      and divinity]
The substance of bread and wine are no longer present

See EWTN's "Questions about The Holy Eucharist" from the Baltimore Catechism, lesson 26, for more.

Part 2 will discuss why Christ's words concerning the Eucharist are definitive and final.

The Novena of Reparation for Roe vs. Wade, Day 8

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Today is the eighth day of the Novena of Reparation for Roe vs. Wade and to end the wanton destruction of innocent human life that is the tragic result of the abortion holocaust.

Prayer of Reparation


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

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

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

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

We pray through Christ our Lord. Amen.
____________

Consider praying the prayer for the unborn in danger of abortion by Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen to our Lady of Guadalupe. Say this prayer each day for one year and a child in danger of abortion will be saved.

Optional Memorial of Saint Fabian & Saint Sebastian

St. Fabian & St. Sebastian

Yesterday was the optional memorial of Saint Fabian and Saint Sebastian. We present this belated post about their lives for your consideration because of the great devotion accorded them among many of the faithful.

St. Fabian and St. Sebastian have always been venerated together, and their names were coupled in the ancient martyrologies, as they are still in the Litany of Saints.

St. Fabian was Pope from 236 to 250 AD. He promoted the consolidation and development of the Church. He divided Rome into seven diaconates for the purpose of extending aid to the poor. He was one of the first victims of the persecution of Decius, who considered him as a rival and personal enemy.

St. Sebastian, a native of Milan, was an officer in Diocletian's imperial guard. He became a Christian and suffered martyrdom upon orders of the emperor.

The Life of St. Fabian

St. Fabian, a Roman, was as energetic as he was admired and respected. He was able to accomplish a great deal during his long pontificate. Escaping the persecution of Emperor Maximus Thrax, who had been assassinated, Fabian enjoyed peace in the Church under the reigns of succeeding emperors.

One of St. Fabian's first acts was to reorganize the clergy of Rome to better serve the increasing flock. He is also credited with beautifying and enlarging the cemeteries. He ordered paintings to adorn the vaults, and he erected a church above the cemetery of Calixtus.

The Church flourished under St. Fabian as a succession of emperors left the Christians to themselves. This peaceful time came to an abrupt end with the ascension of Emperor Decius. He was a cruel enemy and he decreed that all Christians were to deny Christ by openly worshipping pagan idols. The Church was to lose many followers, but more stood firm to suffer torture and even death. Certainly, one of the first was Pope Fabian. Arrested, he was thrown in prison and died at the hands of his brutal captors. He is buried in the cemetery of Calixtus.

The Life of St. Sebastian

The name of Sebastian is enveloped in a wreath of legends. The oldest historical account of the saint is found in a commentary on the psalms by St. Ambrose; the passage reads:
Allow me to propose to you the example of the holy martyr Sebastian. By birth he was a Milanese. Perhaps the persecutor of Christians had left Milan, or had not yet arrived, or had become momentarily more tolerant. Sebastian believed that here there was no opportunity for combat, or that it had already passed. So he went to Rome, the scene of bitter opposition arising from the Christians' zeal for the faith. There he suffered, there he gained the crown.
St. Sebastian was widely venerated during the Middle Ages, particularly as a protector against the plague. Paul the Deacon relates that in 670 a great pestilence at Rome ceased when an altar was dedicated in his honor. The Breviary account of the saint is highly legendary; it reads in part:
Diocletian tried by every means to turn Sebastian from the faith of Christ. After all efforts had proven fruitless, he ordered him tied to a post and pierced with arrows. When everyone thought him dead, a devout woman named Irene arranged for his burial during the night; finding him still alive, she cared for him in her own house. After his recovery he appeared again before Diocletian and boldly rebuked him for his wickedness. Enraged by the saint's sharp words, the emperor ordered him scourged until he expired. His body was thrown into a sewer.
Adapted excerpt from The Church's Year of Grace, Pius Parsch

Patron: Archers; armourers; arrowsmiths; athletes; bookbinders; diseased cattle; dying people; enemies of religion; fletchers; gardeners; iron mongers; lacemakers; lead workers; masons; plague; police; racquet makers; Rio de Janeiro; soldiers; Spanish police officers; stone masons; stonecutters.

Symbols: Arrows of martyrdom; naked youth tied to a tree and shot with arrows; arrows; crown.

Collect Prayer

O God, glory of your Priests, grant we pray, that, helped by the intercession of your Martyr Saint Fabian, we may make progress by communion in the faith and by worthy service. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

***

Grant us, we pray, O Lord, a spirit of fortitude, so that, taught by the glorious example of your Martyr Saint Sebastian, we may learn to obey you rather than men. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Pope St. Fabian



St. Sebastian