April 30, 2016

Sunday Homilies | Note to Readers

St. Paul teaching in Berea

On Sundays when homilies by Fr. René Butler, M.S. and Fr. Charles Irvin are not available, I will feature homilies by Fr. Thomas Lane, S.S.L., S.T.D. Fr. Lane is Associate Professor of Sacred Scripture at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland on the campus of Mount St. Mary’s University. He previously ministered in Ireland.

My first priority is bring you the best in Catholic preaching from priests who offer faithful, thoughtful, informative instruction. I'm grateful to the aforementioned for their contributions.

For homilies and reflections by Fr. Butler visit his page.

For homilies, videos and related content by Fr. Irvin see his website.

For homilies, Bible study and more by Fr. Lane see his website.

In addition to these homilists, I would like to thank Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP, Fr. Daren J. Zehnle, K.H.S., Fr. Michael Woolley and Fr. Michael Najim for letting me publish occasional articles of theirs.

Last but not least, I am grateful to you the readers of this blog for your visits and comments. Be assured of my prayers. Please pray for us!

In Christ,

Matthew Coffin

April 29, 2016

Will Pope Francis Regularize the SSPX?


Pope Francis may end the rift between the Vatican and the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX). An influential SSPX leader, Father Franz Schmidberger, has written a memo that recommends accepting any offer by the Pope that would grant "an appropriate ecclesial structure" to the Society. Hopes were high during the papacy of Pope Benedict XVI for just such a rapprochement. The National Catholic Register reports:
Pope Francis may soon offer the Society of St. Pius X regular canonical status within the Church, without requiring the acceptance of certain texts of the Second Vatican Council with which they disagree.
It also appears the SSPX may itself be poised to take such a historic step, urging that "perhaps only Pope Francis is able to take this step, given his unpredictability and improvisation," according to an internal SSPX document that was leaked to the press in recent weeks.
This would be a tremendous development and a positive fruit of Francis' "big tent" view of the Church. Fr. Schmidberger's memo: "Considerations on the Church and the Position of the Society of St. Pius X in It," notes that while the Society desires to "return from its 'exile'", more discussions should be expected: "We will not be silent, moreover, we will point out the errors by name. Before and after our normalisation."

Vatican observers speculate that the normalisation of the SSPX would be accomplished by recognizing the group as a "personal prelature", as is the case with Opus Dei. One of the reasons the SSPX wants normalisation is the fact that it will need new bishops in the future and such consecrations would be licit. Saint Josaphat, martyr for Christian unity, pray that in this matter the Church may soon be one!

April 28, 2016

The Holy Father's Prayer Intentions for May 2016

Pope Francis' coat of arms Please remember the Holy Father Pope Francis' intentions in prayer through the month of May:

General Intention: Respect for Women

That in every country of the world, women may be honored and respected and that their essential contribution to society may be highly esteemed.

Evangelization: Holy Rosary

That families, communities, and groups may pray the Holy Rosary for evangelization and peace.

Memorial of St. Catherine of Siena, Virgin and Doctor

St. Catherine of Siena
April 29th is the Memorial of Saint Catherine of Siena, virgin and Doctor of the Church. She was born Catherine Benincasa, on March 25, 1347, in Siena, Italy, during an outbreak of the plague. Her large family was poor. At age seven, Catherine began to be favored by God with mystical visions.

When Catherine was 21, she experience what she later referred to as a "mystical marriage to Christ." Among her many concerns was ministering to the poor and sick. Her activities attracted followers who assisted her. In her travels, she called for reform of the Church and for people to confess their sins and love God totally. She was instrumental in persuading the Avignon pope, Gregory XI, to return to Rome. Catherine established a monastery for women in 1377 outside of Siena. She composed over 400 letters, her Dialogue, which is her definitive literary work. God graced Catherine with the stigmata, which like her ring, was visible only to her.

Her efforts for peace and reform of the Church make Catherine a leading figure of the fourteenth century. She died in Rome on April 29, 1380. She was canonized on June 29, 1461 by Pope Pius II. On October 3, 1970, Pope Paul VI named Catherine a Doctor of the Church.

The Life of St. Catherine of Siena

Catherine, the youngest of twenty-five children, was born in Siena on March 25, 1347. During her youth she had to contend with great difficulties on the part of her parents. They were planning marriage for their favorite daughter; but Catherine, who at the age of seven had already taken a vow of virginity, refused. To break her resistance, her beautiful golden brown tresses were shorn to the very skin and she was forced to do the most menial tasks. Undone by her patience, mother and father finally relented and their child entered the Third Order of St. Dominic.

Unbelievable were her austerities, her miracles, her ecstasies. The reputation of her sanctity soon spread abroad; thousands came to see her, to be converted by her. The priests associated with her, having received extraordinary faculties of absolution, were unable to accommodate the crowds of penitents. She was a helper and a consoler in every need. As time went on, her influence reached out to secular and ecclesiastical matters. She made peace between worldly princes. The heads of Church and State bowed to her words. She weaned Italy away from an anti-pope, and made cardinals and princes promise allegiance to the rightful pontiff. She journeyed to Avignon and persuaded Pope Gregory XI to return to Rome. Even though she barely reached the age of thirty-three her accomplishments place her among the great women of the Middle Ages. The virgin Catherine was espoused to Christ by a precious nuptial ring which, although visible only to her, always remained on her finger.

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

Patron: Against fire; bodily ills; Europe; fire prevention; firefighters; illness; Italy; miscarriages; nurses; nursing services; people ridiculed for their piety; sexual temptation; sick people; sickness; Siena, Italy; temptations.

Symbols: Cross; heart; lily; ring; stigmata.

Collect Prayer

O God, who set Saint Catherine of Siena on fire with divine love in her contemplation of the Lord's Passion and her service or your Church, grant, through her intercession, that your people, participating in the mystery of Christ, may ever exult in the revelation of his glory. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, on God, for ever and ever.

Prayer of St. Catherine of Siena

O Supreme and Ineffable God, I have sinned! Therefore, I am unworthy to pray to Thee. But Thou canst make me less unworthy. Punish my sins, O Lord, but turn not away from my misery. From Thee I have received a body which I offer to Thee. Behold my body and my blood! Strike, destroy, reduce my bones to dust, but grant me what I ask for the Sovereign Pontiff, the one Bridegroom of Thy Spouse. May he always know Thy will, may he love it and follow it, so that we may not perish. O my God, create a new heart in him! May he ever receive an increase of Thy grace; may he never tire of bearing the standard of Thy holy cross; and may he bestow the treasures of Thy mercy upon unbelievers as he bestows them upon us who enjoy the benefits of the passion and blood of Thy most beloved Son, the Lamb without a spot. O Lord, eternal God, have mercy on me for I have sinned. Amen. 


April 27, 2016

April 28th: Optional Memorial of Saint Louis Mary de Montfort, Priest, Confessor & Founder

St. Louis Mary de Montfort
Saint Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort was born January 31, 1673 in Montfort-sur-Meu, France. At 12, he entered the Jesuit College of St Thomas Becket where he began his study of philosophy and theology. In 1693, thanks to a generous benefactor, Louis went to Paris to complete his priestly formation at the renowned Seminary of Saint-Sulpice. Upon arrival, he discovered his benefactor had not paid the tuition in full. As a result, Luis lodged in boarding houses, living among the poor, while attending lectures in theology at Sorbonne University. His seminary studies were interrupted by a two-year bout with illness, during which he nearly died. These experiences profoundly shaped Louis' spirituality and priesthood.

Luis was ordained a priest in 1700. He is one of the earliest writers in the field of Mariology. His works include, The Love of Eternal Wisdom, The Secret of the Rosary, The Secret of Mary, and True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin. Luis spread devotion to the rosary and held a deep reverence for the angelic helpers of human beings the angels. He was a missionary apostolic in France preaching and conducting parish missions especially in Brittany and the Vendee. He went on to found the Daughters of Wisdom and before his death established a society of priests, the Company of Mary, to continue his work. Luis died at St. Laurent-sur-Sevre April 28, 1716. He was canonized in 1947 by Pope Pius XII.

The Life of St. Louis Mary de Montfort

Louis's life is inseparable from his efforts to promote genuine devotion to Mary, the mother of Jesus and mother of the church. Totus tuus (completely yours) was Louis's personal motto; Karol Wojtyla chose it as his episcopal motto. Born in the Breton village of Montfort, close to Rennes (France), as an adult Louis identified himself by the place of his baptism instead of his family name, Grignion. After being educated by the Jesuits and the Sulpicians, he was ordained as a diocesan priest in 1700.

Soon he began preaching parish missions throughout western France. His years of ministering to the poor prompted him to travel and live very simply, sometimes getting him into trouble with church authorities. In his preaching, which attracted thousands of people back to the faith, Father Louis recommended frequent, even daily, Holy Communion (not the custom then!) and imitation of the Virgin Mary's ongoing acceptance of God's will for her life.

Louis founded the Missionaries of the Company of Mary (for priests and brothers) and the Daughters of Wisdom, who cared especially for the sick. His book, True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin, has become a classic explanation of Marian devotion.

Louis died in Saint-Laurent-sur-Sevre, where a basilica has been erected in his honor. He was canonized in 1947.

Excerpted from Saint of the Day, Leonard Foley, O.F.M.

For an excellent book on Montfort’s Marian spirituality see The Echo of God: A Commentary for Beginners on St. Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort's True Devotion to Mary, by Fr. Lance W. Harlow.

Consider making St. Louis de Montfort's 33 Day Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary.

Resolve to say the rosary each day, if you do not already do so.

Collect Prayer

O God, who for the spreading of your Church crowned Saint Peter Chanel with martyrdom, grant that, in these days of paschal joy, we may so celebrate the mysteries of Christ's Death and Resurrection as to bear worthy witness to newness of 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.

Prayer of St. Louis Mary de Montfort

Our Father who art in heaven, you completely fill heaven and earth with the immensity of your being; you are present everywhere; you are in the saints by your glory, in the damned by your justice, in the good by your grace, even in sinners by your patience, tolerating them. Grant that we may always remember that we come from you and that we may live as your true children. Grant that we may set our true course according to your will and never swerve from you. Grant that we may use our every power, our hearts and souls and strength to tend toward you, and you alone. Amen.


Pope Benedict XVI on the Eucharist

Pope Benedict XVI
The following quotations from Pope Benedict XVI concern the Real Presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist:
Receiving the Eucharist means adoring Him whom we receive. Only in this way do we become one with Him, and are given, as it were, a foretaste of the beauty of the heavenly liturgy. The act of adoration outside Mass prolongs and intensifies all that takes place during the liturgical celebration itself.
*** 
In the Eucharist, the Son of God comes to meet us and desires to become one with us; eucharistic adoration is simply the natural consequence of the eucharistic celebration, which is itself the Church’s supreme act of adoration.
***
In a world where there is so much noise, so much bewilderment, there is a need for silent adoration of Jesus concealed in the Host. Be assiduous in the prayer of adoration and teach it to the faithful. It is a source of comfort and light, particularly to those who are suffering
The first two statements are from Pope Benedict's address to priests in Poland, May 25, 2006, in which he quotes Sacramentum Caritatis. The last is from his meeting with members of the Roman clergy in March of the same year.

April 26, 2016

April 27: Feast of Our Lady of Montserrat, Patroness of Catalonia

Our Lady of Montserrat
The Benedictine Abbey, Santa Maria de Montserrat, on the mountain of Montserrat near Barcelona in the Catalonia region of Spain is home to the 12th century Romanesque statue of the Madonna and Child. It is one of the black Madonnas of Europe Centuries of candle smoke turned the statue’s visage black.

According to legend, the miraculous image was believed to have been carved in Jerusalem by Saint Luke during the early days of the church, and brought to Montserrat by Saint Peter in 50 AD. It was hidden from the Moors in a cave just down the mountain below the monastery. A more credible account indicates that the image was moved to Montserrat in 718, to avoid the danger posed by the invading Saracens. It is credited with numerous miracles granted to those who pray before it over the eight centuries of its existence. The Virgin of Montserrat was declared the Patron Saint of the Diocese of Catalonia by Pope Leo XIII in 1881.

Our Lady of Montserrat

The origin of the devotion to Our Lady at the shrine of Montserrat according to the earliest written records dates from 932, when the Count of Barcelona confirmed and renewed an endowment to the shrine made by his father in 888. This gift was again confirmed in 982 by Lothaire, King of France. Constant and unbroken tradition is that even previous to 888, an image of Our Lady was miraculously found among the rocks of Montserrat. Montserrat itself is a fantastic mountain group, four thousand feet high, about twenty miles from Barcelona. The name, Montserrat, of Latin origin, means saw-edged mountain. It is formed by huge boulders that raise their immense bulk perpendicularly to that four thousand foot summit. Outwardly, it resembles the seemingly inaccessible monasteries seen on high Mount Athos in Greece: "Montserrat is, and will forever be, a source of deep impressions caused by the singularity of the place. There, what is material becomes cyclopean, the mysterious is turned mystical and the picturesque is promoted to sublimity." There is a story that the mountain was once a huge boulder with a smooth surface. At the time of the Crucifixion of Jesus, however, when the sun darkened, the rock was shaken to its very foundations and when light returned, the mountain had a thousand peaks.

The legend relates that the figure of Our Lady came from Jerusalem to Barcelona, and was brought into the mountains to save it from the Saracens. It is true that the Montserrat statue has oriental features, but this could well be traced to the Byzantine sculptors who were constantly employed in the West. The legend goes on to say that in the eighth century shepherds one night saw strange lights on the mountain and heard Seraphic music.

Guided by the shepherds, the Bishop of Manresa found, in a cavern, a wooden figure of Our Lady and the Holy Child. He ordered that the statue be carried into the cathedral immediately. However, the procession with the statue never reached the cathedral because, after much marching, the small wooden figure became too heavy so that the Bishop decided to accept it as a sign and left it in a chapel of a nearby hermitage. The statue remained there until a church was built on the site of the present abbey on the top of the rocks near where the statue was discovered.

Since that incident, this statue is the most celebrated, the most important of Spain; it is thirty-eight inches in height, and is known as "La Morenata" — The Little Black Madonna. The wood is now black with age; one of its most striking features is the dignified expression of Our Lady. In her right hand, she holds a majestic orb.

Excerpted from Shrines to Our Lady, Zsolt Aradi


April 25, 2016

Satanist Behind ‘Black Mass’ Responds to Our Post

The head of the Satanic group seeking to conduct a "black mass" at the Oklahoma City Civic Center Music Hall this August has responded to our post discussing it. He contacted us to say the following:
We are Ahrimanists, and actually worship the original devil from Persia. Our federally recognized church is Hindu. Please take note as to what you are really dealing with. 
Original devil? There is only one devil. He is the father of lies and a cruel deceiver of men. When we pray the Lord's Prayer, we ask that God, "... lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil." The Catechism of the Catholic Church (§2851) states:
In this petition, evil is not an abstraction, but refers to a person, Satan, the Evil One, the angel who opposes God. The devil (dia-bolos) is the one who 'throws himself across' God's plan and his work of salvation accomplished in Christ.
Remember: The devil is 'an active force, a living, spiritual being'. We must remain vigilant in hope for, "sin lies in wait at the door: its urge is for you, yet you can rule over it." (Genesis 4:7)

In light of increasing demonic activity let us never forget God's words in Sacred Scripture. He tells us that:

When we see this…

Statue of demon idol

We should remember this…

 Satan tempting Christ in the wilderness
Christ triumphs over Satan. CCC §566

Prayer to Saint Michael the Archangel

In English

St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle, be our protection against the malice and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him we humbly pray; and do thou, O Prince of the Heavenly host, by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan and all evil spirits who wander through the world for the ruin of souls. Amen. 

In Latin

Sáncte Míchael Archángele, defénde nos in proélio, cóntra nequítiam et insídias diáboli ésto præsídium. Ímperet ílli Déus, súpplices deprecámur: tuque, prínceps milítiæ cæléstis, Sátanam aliósque spíritus malígnos, qui ad perditiónem animárum pervagántur in múndo, divína virtúte, in inférnum detrúde. Ámen.

April 24, 2016

Pope Saint Pius X on Sacred Music & the Liturgy

St. Pius X
Today Our attention is directed to one of the most common of them (abuses), one of the most difficult to eradicate, and the existence of which is sometimes to be deplored in places where everything else is deserving of the highest praise; the beauty and sumptuousness of the temple, the splendor and the accurate performance of the ceremonies, the attendance of the clergy, the gravity and piety of the officiating ministers. Such is the abuse affecting sacred chant and music.
— Pope St. Pius X
From Tra le sollecitudini, a motu proprio on sacred music and the liturgy issued November 22, 1903 by Pope Pius X.

April 25th: Feast of Saint Mark, Evangelist and Scribe of Saint Peter

St. Mark
Saint Mark the Evangelist was the son of Mary whose house at Jerusalem was a meeting place for the first Christians. He was baptized and instructed by St. Peter and may have witnessed first hand certain events in the life of Christ. Mark accompanied St. Paul and St. Barnabas (Mark's cousin) on their missionary journey through the island of Cyprus. Around the year 42 A.D., Mark came to Rome with Peter.

There, at the request of the faithful, he wrote his Gospel based on Peter's sermons and personal recollections. Mark's Gospel was written in Greek for Roman gentile converts to Christianity. It rarely quotes the Old Testament, and explains Jewish customs, rites and words. It excels in portraying the humanity of Christ and His dynamic ministry. St. Mark preached in Egypt, establishing the Church in Alexandria, and is honored as the founder of Christianity in Africa. According to tradition, he was martyred in Alexandria after being dragged by horses through the streets until he was dead. His symbol is a winged lion.

The Life of St. Mark

John Mark, later known simply as Mark, was a Jew by birth. He was the son of that Mary who was proprietress of the Cenacle or "upper room" which served as the meeting place for the first Christians in Jerusalem (Acts 12:12). He was still a youth at the time of the Savior's death. In his description of the young man who was present when Jesus was seized and who fled from the rabble leaving behind his "linen cloth," the second Evangelist might possibly have stamped the mark of his own identity.

During the years that followed, the rapidly maturing youth witnessed the growth of the infant Church in his mother's Upper Room and became acquainted with its traditions. This knowledge he put to excellent use when compiling his Gospel. Later, we find Mark acting as a companion to his cousin Barnabas and Saul on their return journey to Antioch and on their first missionary journey. But Mark was too immature for the hardships of this type of work and therefore left them at Perge in Pamphylia to return home.

As the two apostles were preparing for their second missionary journey, Barnabas wanted to take his cousin with him. Paul, however, objected. Thereupon the two cousins undertook a missionary journey to Cyprus. Time healed the strained relations between Paul and Mark, and during the former's first Roman captivity (61-63), Mark rendered Paul valuable service (Col. 4:10; Philem. 24), and the Apostle learned to appreciate him. When in chains the second time Paul requested Mark's presence (2 Tim. 4:11).

An intimate friendship existed between Mark and Peter; he played the role of Peter's companion, disciple, and interpreter. According to the common patristic opinion, Mark was present at Peter's preaching in Rome and wrote his Gospel under the influence of the prince of the apostles. This explains why incidents which involve Peter are described with telling detail (e.g., the great day at Capharnaum, 1:14f)). Little is known of Mark's later life. It is certain that he died a martyr's death as bishop of Alexandria in Egypt. His relics were transferred from Alexandria to Venice, where a worthy tomb was erected in St. Mark's Cathedral.

The Gospel of St. Mark, the shortest of the four, is, above all, a Roman Gospel. It originated in Rome and is addressed to Roman, or shall we say, to Western Christianity. Another high merit is its chronological presentation of the life of Christ. For we should be deeply interested in the historical sequence of the events in our blessed Savior's life.

Furthermore, Mark was a skilled painter of word pictures. With one stroke he frequently enhances a familiar scene, shedding upon it new light. His Gospel is the "Gospel of Peter," for he wrote it under the direction and with the aid of the prince of the apostles. "The Evangelist Mark is represented as a lion because he begins his Gospel in the wilderness, `The voice of one crying in the desert: Make ready the way of the Lord,' or because he presents the Lord as the unconquered King."

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

Patron: Against impenitence; attorneys; barristers; captives; Egypt; glaziers; imprisoned people; insect bites; lions; notaries; prisoners; scrofulous diseases; stained glass workers; struma; Diocese of Venice, Florida; Venice, Italy.

Symbols: Winged lion; fig tree; pen; book and scroll; club; barren fig tree; scroll with words Pax Tibi; winged and nimbed lion; lion.

Collect Prayer

O God, who raised up Saint Mark, your Evangelist, and endowed him with the grace to preach the Gospel, grant, we pray, that we may so profit from his teaching as to follow faithfully in the footsteps of Christ. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.


Homily for the 5th Sunday of Easter, April 24, 2016, Year C

Jesus' farwell discourse

Fr. Charles Irvin
Senior Priest
Diocese of Lansing

(Click here for today’s readings)

There are times when we tell ourselves that nothing’s new, that human nature doesn’t change, and that history simply repeats itself. The Old Testament Book of Ecclesiastes tells us:
What has been, that will be; what has been done, that will be done. Nothing is new under the sun. [Ecclesiastes 1:9]
Yet we also find ourselves seeking what is new. We greet each other with the question “What’s new?” We watch TV news, read newspapers, pay attention advertisements, and look for new models of things we already have. Advertisements are loaded with words telling us of new products, or “new and improved” products that we can’t live without. The world of computers is filled with new gadgets, new programs, new downloads, and so forth. We seem to be obsessed with what’s new.

Jesus used the word “new” many, many times in His discourses and teachings, all the time trying to get us to see the new creation, the new man, and the new covenant His Father is bringing about. The gospel account we just heard was the beginning of Jesus’ final discourse at the Last Supper, a discourse filled with promise, hope and a vision of the future. The second reading is taken from the Book of Revelation. It’s interesting to note that Mel Gibson, in his movie The Passion of the Christ, put the words “Behold, I make all things new” into the mouth of Christ as He suffered during His passion under the weight of His cross.

What is this new thing God invites us to see?

The glitz, glamour, and spectacles this world offers us hold our attention. Being thus captured we tend to sell ourselves short. It takes artists, poets, and great writers to give us deeper vision and enable us to see deeper things, as well as to see ourselves on a deeper level.

What we need to see now is that God is ushering in a new creation. He is sculpting us and fashioning us as His new sons and daughters. We need to stand back and look at the big picture. We need to see the way things were between God and us before Christ and the way things are now after Christ. Because of Christ Jesus we are in a new status in our relationship with God.

There is an icon that’s a favorite among Christians belonging to the Eastern Orthodox Churches and the Byzantine Catholic Churches. It depicts Christ descending into the world of the dead and going all the way back to Adam and Eve to pull them out of their graves. The truth being presented to us is that God in Christ reaches all the way back to our human beginnings and allows all of those who have gone before to experience His risen Christ’s saving presence. The picture is profound – the message is beautiful. God in Christ presents Himself to everyone, even to those who died before Christ’s appearance to us on earth.

As for us… well, we need to see that we live in the time that is “already but not yet.” In His Anointed One, in His Christ, God has ushered in His kingdom here on earth. It is a kingdom that has been established and is now in the process of unfolding among us. Our status with God has been fundamentally and radically changed. Christ has given us His salvation. What we do with it remains to be seen. We live in God’s time, the time that is already but not yet. What is yet to be, and what can be for us individually, is revealed in the Book of Revelation… a book of hope, of promise, and of glory. Whether that hope, promise, and glory will be ours individually and personally depends upon our response to what God has done and is doing now for us.

The Sacrament of Baptism initiates us into that cosmic reality, as do the other Sacraments of Initiation, namely Confirmation and Holy Eucharist. As a matter of fact, all of the Seven Sacraments are but differing aspect of the One Sacrament, namely Christ among us.

I want to emphasize that I have been speaking of what God “is doing.” The phrase is in the present tense active. It is not in the past tense. We’re not talking just about what God “has done”. We’re talking about what God “is doing” and will “yet do”. The last discourse of Jesus during the Last Supper is likewise in that setting – He gives us words of hope, promise, and glory… realities that are present and at the same time realities that are, depending upon our responses, in our futures.

The former hopelessness of our condition, our state of alienation from God, has been eradicated by Christ. At a radically fundamental level Christ has saved us. But we must ever hold in our hearts and minds that He is yet saving us, depending upon how we respond to what He is offering.

All of this points to the essential spiritual condition into which we much place ourselves. We must develop “eyes to see and hears to hear.” We cannot be passive about that, thinking that God will give it all to us anyway, even if we don’t respond to Him. There’s nothing passive about being a follower of Christ. No! We must actively listen; we must actively respond; we must put into action in our daily lives the gifts that God has given us and is giving us in His Christ.

I was struck by the fact that Mel Gibson also put the words of the “One sitting on the throne” in heaven, the one known as “the Alpha and Omega”, the beginning and the end, into the mouth of Jesus as He suffering during His passion. What a tremendous insight it was for Mr. Gibson to do that. What artistry! I hope you noticed it too and were just as moved as I was by what was presented to us.

Life, however, is not a movie. We are considering here something that is spiritually and theologically at the profoundest levels of our self-understanding, in our understanding of our new status with God because of Christ. Truly, Christ has died for our sins. Truly He has justified us. Truly He is sanctifying us. Whether or not we will be ultimately saved and spend eternity in the New Jerusalem depends on us. God has done everything for us; He has given everything to us. The frightful question remains: “How will we respond?” Will we, with Peter, seek and accept the hope, the promise, and the glory that Jesus Christ offers us all? Or will we sink into this world’s despair? Do you think there’s nothing new in our world? Will we settle for only the glitz and glitter of this world, its thirty pieces of silver, and thereby sell our souls for nothing more?

The answer to these questions, along with our salvation, depends on us. God offers… we respond.

April 23, 2016

The Right to Religious Freedom: An Inspiring Video from the USCCB


H/T ChurchPOP  

The Little Sisters of the Poor face a dire threat to their religious freedom in the United States. Find out more about what the Catholic Church teaches on religious freedom, including the groundbreaking Declaration on Religious Freedom (Dignitatis Humanae) from the Second Vatican Council. Via the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' YouTube channel.

From the USCCB'S Religious Liberty Page.
Religion [cannot] be relegated to the inner sanctum of personal life, without influence on societal and national life. 
    — Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium, 183.

In insisting that our liberties as Americans be respected, Pope Benedict XVI said that this work belongs to "an engaged, articulate and well-formed Catholic laity endowed with a strong critical sense vis-à-vis the dominant culture." Therefore, catechesis on religious liberty is not the work of priests alone. If religious liberty is not properly understood, all people suffer and are deprived of the essential contribution to the common good, be it in education, health care, feeding the hungry, civil rights, and social services that individuals make every day, both here at home and overseas.

April 22, 2016

April 23rd: Optional Memorial of Saint George & Saint Adalbert, Martyrs

St. George

Historians continue to debate the date of Saint George’s birth. He was born to Gerontios and Polychronia, a Roman officer and a Greek native of Lydda. Both parents were Christians from noble families. George served in the Emperor Diocletian's army. By his late 20's, he became a Tribunus and was an imperial guard for the Emperor at Nicomedia.

In 303 A.D., Diocletian, decreed that Christians would be arrested and that Roman soldiers should sacrifice to the Roman gods. George refused to abide by the order. In an effort to save George’s life, Diocletian attempted to convert him, offering him land, money and slaves in exchange for sacrificing to Rome’s pagan idols. George remained steadfast in his devotion to God, even under penalty of death.

On April 23, 303, George was decapitated before Nicomedia's outer wall. His body was sent to Lydda for burial where Christians venerated him as a martyr. St. George stands out among other saints and legends because he is known and revered by both Muslims and Christians. According to legend, St. George killed a dragon near the sea in Beirut, thus Saint George bay was named in his honor.
_____________________________

Saint Adalbert was ordained the Bishop of Prague in 983 A. D. During his episcopate he facilitated the evangelization of the Magyars. Having founded the monastery of Brevnov, he was forced into exile by the nobility of Prague. He tirelessly preached the Gospel in Poland, Hungary, Russia, and Prussia, where he was martyred at the age of 41.

In England this feast is a solemnity. When the celebration falls in the Easter Triduum, on a Sunday of Easter, or in the Easter Octave it is moved to the next available day — generally the Monday of the Second Week of Easter.

The Life of St. George 

St. George is venerated by the Eastern Church among her "great martyrs" and "standard-bearers." He belonged to the Roman army; he was arrested and, probably, beheaded under Diocletian, c. 304. He is the patron of England, since 800. St. George is one of the "Fourteen Holy Helpers."

Many legends are attached to Saint George. The most famous is the one in The Golden Legend. There was a dragon that lived in a lake near Silena, Libya. Not even armies could defeat this creature, and he terrorized flocks and the people. St. George was passing through and upon hearing about a princess was about to be eaten, he went to battle against the serpent, and killed it with one blow with his lance. Then with his great preaching, George converted the people. He gave his reward to the poor, then left the area.

Patron: Aragon; agricultural workers; archers; armourers; Beirut; Lebanon; Boy Scouts; butchers; Canada; Cappadocia; Catalonia; cavalry; chivalry; Constantinople; Crusaders; England; equestrians; farmers; Ferrara Italy; field hands; field workers; Genoa, Italy; Georgia; Germany; Gozo; Greece; herpes; horsemen; horses; husbandmen; Istanbul; knights; lepers; leprosy; Lithuania; Malta; Moscow; Order of the Garter; Palestine; Palestinian Christians; plague; Portugal; riders; saddle makers; saddlers; skin diseases; skin rashes; soldiers; syphilis; Teutonic Knights; Venice.

Symbols: Armor; buckler; dragon.

Collect Prayer

Extolling your might, O Lord, we humbly implore you, that, as Saint George imitated the Passion of the Lord, so he may lend us ready help in our weakness. 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 St. George

St. George, heroic Catholic soldier and defender of your Faith, you dared to criticize a tyrannical Emperor and were subjected to horrible torture. You could have occupied a high military position but you preferred to die for your Lord. Obtain for us the great grace of heroic Christian courage that should mark soldiers of Christ. Amen.

St. Adalbert
The Life of St. Adalbert

St. Adalbert while still under thirty became bishop of Prague, but the pastoral and political difficulties were such that in 990 he withdrew in desperation to Rome. Pope John XV sent him back to his diocese, where he founded the great abbey of Brevnov; but again he met with opposition to his ministry from the nobility, and again he retired to Rome.

At length it became apparent that there was no hope of his working unmolested in Prague, and he was allowed to turn his attention to the heathen Prussians of Pomerania. But here he had no more success. He and his fellow missionaries nevertheless persevered in their mission, and were eventually murdered, perhaps near Konigsberg. Despite the disappointments of his career, St Adalbert of Prague seems to have had considerable influence. He was a friend of the Emperor Otto III, encouraged the evangelization of the Magyars, and inspired St Boniface of Querfurt; his cultus was widespread in central Europe. He in his turn was influenced by the ideals of the great monastery of Cluny.

Patron: Bohemia, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Prussia.

Symbols: Holding a two-headed cross, two lances, and a club; holding a lance with a club at the lower end; pierced by three lances and beheaded.

Via Catholic Culture.org.

Collect Prayer

O God, who bestowed the crown of martyrdom on the Bishop Saint Adalbert, as he burned with zeal for souls, grant, we pray, by his prayers, that the obedience of the block may never fail the shepherds, nor the care of the shepherds be ever lacking to the flock. 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.

Sources: Catholic Culture.org, Catholic.org and the Catholic Encyclopedia.


Something to Remember as Oklahoma Atheists Plan ‘Black Mass’

A Satanic group is set to verse a "black mass" at the Oklahoma City Civic Center Music Hall this August. In light of such ever increasing demonic activity let us never forget God's words found in Sacred Scripture. He tells us that:

In the face of this…

Statue of demon idol

We should remember this…

 Satan tempting Christ in the wilderness
Christ triumphs over Satan. CCC §566

Instances of demonic manifestation in society are now commonplace as more and more people do Satan's bidding. You may recall this from last summer:

Hundreds of people attended Mass at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Detroit on Saturday to protest the debut of an 8 1/2-foot-tall bronze satanic goat statue which depicts the demon idol Baphomet.

According to the associated press, the group behind the display, Satanic Temple, installed the statue [pictured above] Saturday at a Detroit location known only to ticket holders. The unveiling was driven underground due to a large public backlash. Hundreds had lined up earlier to get the tickets as Christian protesters rallied nearby.

The initial plan for the statue was to publicly erect it next to a Ten Commandments monument located at the Oklahoma state capitol before Oklahoma’s Supreme Court banned religious displays on capitol grounds. (Oklahoma's governor challenged this ruling, allowing the Ten Commandments monument to remain for now.)

God is with Us Always

Militant atheists and secular humanist activists are continuing their assault on public expressions of Christian belief. Such attacks will only escalate in the years to come. Whatever evils befall us, God remains sovereign of the universe and Jesus is still it's King at whose name every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and those under the earth. Satan may have his day, but in the fullness of time, even Satan will prostrate himself in obedience to Christ. In the words of our Savior, "Do not be Afraid!"

St. Michael the Archangel

Prayer to Saint Michael the Archangel

In English

St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle, be our protection against the malice and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him we humbly pray; and do thou, O Prince of the Heavenly host, by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan and all evil spirits who wander through the world for the ruin of souls. Amen. 

In Latin

Sáncte Míchael Archángele, defénde nos in proélio, cóntra nequítiam et insídias diáboli ésto præsídium. Ímperet ílli Déus, súpplices deprecámur: tuque, prínceps milítiæ cæléstis, Sátanam aliósque spíritus malígnos, qui ad perditiónem animárum pervagántur in múndo, divína virtúte, in inférnum detrúde. Ámen.

Mary, Undoer of Knots Novena, Day 1

Mary, Undoer of Knots

We all have "knots" in our lives, difficult circumstances or seemingly insurmountable problems, and Mary can untie them.

The devotion to Mary, Undoer of Knots has become more popular ever since Pope Francis encouraged the devotion in Argentina, and then spoke about it during his first year as pontiff.

The theology of the devotion actually goes back to the second century. Saint Irenaeus wrote that, "The knot of Eve’s disobedience was untied by the obedience of Mary; what the virgin Eve bound by her unbelief, the Virgin Mary loosened by her faith."

Mary’s faith unties the knot of sin.

We will pray that the Blessed Virgin Mary will intercede for us all, to untie the knots of sin in our lives – so that we may be purified and ever closer to God.

This novena begins April 22nd.

Click for daily reminders to pray this novena sent to your inbox.

The Mary, Undoer of Knots Novena Daily Prayers

Day 1:

Dearest Holy Mother, Most Holy Mary, you undo the knots that suffocate your children. Extend your merciful hands to me. I entrust to You today this knot [mention your request here] and all the negative consequences that it provokes in my life.

Mary, Undoer of Knots, pray for me.

Virgin Mary, Mother of fair love, Mother who never refuses to come to the aid of a child in need, Mother whose hands never cease to serve your beloved children because they are moved by the divine love and immense mercy that exist in your heart, cast your compassionate eyes upon me and see the snarl of knots that exists in my life.  You know very well how desperate I am, my pain, and how I am bound by these knots. Mary, Mother to whom God entrusted the undoing of the knots in the lives of his children, I entrust into your hands the ribbon of my life. No one, not even the evil one himself, can take it away from your precious care. In your hands there is no knot that cannot be undone. Powerful Mother, by your grace and intercessory power with Your Son and My Liberator, Jesus, take into your hands today this knot.

[Mention your request here]

I beg you to undo it for the glory of God, once for all. You are my hope.
O my Lady, you are the only consolation God gives me, the fortification of my feeble strength, the enrichment of my destitution, and, with Christ, the freedom from my chains. Hear my plea. Keep me, guide me, protect me, o safe refuge!

Mary, Undoer of Knots, pray for me.

Amen.

Day 2:

Mary, Beloved Mother, channel of all grace, I return to You today my heart, recognizing that I am a sinner in need of your help. I entrust into Your hands this knot [mention your request here] which keeps me from reflecting the glory of God.

Mary, Undoer of Knots, pray for me.

Virgin Mary, Mother of fair love, Mother who never refuses to come to the aid of a child in need, Mother whose hands never cease to serve your beloved children because they are moved by the divine love and immense mercy that exist in your heart, cast your compassionate eyes upon me and see the snarl of knots that exists in my life.  You know very well how desperate I am, my pain, and how I am bound by these knots. Mary, Mother to whom God entrusted the undoing of the knots in the lives of his children, I entrust into your hands the ribbon of my life. No one, not even the evil one himself, can take it away from your precious care. In your hands there is no knot that cannot be undone. Powerful Mother, by your grace and intercessory power with Your Son and My Liberator, Jesus, take into your hands today this knot.

[Mention your request here]

I beg you to undo it for the glory of God, once for all. You are my hope. O my Lady, you are the only consolation God gives me, the fortification of my feeble strength, the enrichment of my destitution, and, with Christ, the freedom from my chains. Hear my plea. Keep me, guide me, protect me, o safe refuge!

Mary, Undoer of Knots, pray for me.

Amen.

Day 3:

Meditating Mother, Queen of heaven, in whose hands the treasures of the King are found, turn your merciful eyes upon me today. I entrust into your holy hands this knot in my life [mention your request here] and all the rancor and resentment it has caused in me.

Mary, Undoer of Knots, pray for me.

Virgin Mary, Mother of fair love, Mother who never refuses to come to the aid of a child in need, Mother whose hands never cease to serve your beloved children because they are moved by the divine love and immense mercy that exist in your heart, cast your compassionate eyes upon me and see the snarl of knots that exists in my life.  You know very well how desperate I am, my pain, and how I am bound by these knots. Mary, Mother to whom God entrusted the undoing of the knots in the lives of his children, I entrust into your hands the ribbon of my life. No one, not even the evil one himself, can take it away from your precious care. In your hands there is no knot that cannot be undone. Powerful Mother, by your grace and intercessory power with Your Son and My Liberator, Jesus, take into your hands today this knot.

[Mention your request here]

I beg you to undo it for the glory of God, once for all. You are my hope. O my Lady, you are the only consolation God gives me, the fortification of my feeble strength, the enrichment of my destitution, and, with Christ, the freedom from my chains. Hear my plea. Keep me, guide me, protect me, o safe refuge!

Mary, Undoer of Knots, pray for me.

Amen.

Day 4:

Dearest Holy Mother, you are generous with all who seek you, have mercy on me. I entrust into your hands this knot which robs the peace of my heart, paralyzes my soul and keeps me from going to my Lord and serving Him with my life.

Mary, Undoer of Knots, pray for me.

Virgin Mary, Mother of fair love, Mother who never refuses to come to the aid of a child in need, Mother whose hands never cease to serve your beloved children because they are moved by the divine love and immense mercy that exist in your heart, cast your compassionate eyes upon me and see the snarl of knots that exists in my life.  You know very well how desperate I am, my pain, and how I am bound by these knots. Mary, Mother to whom God entrusted the undoing of the knots in the lives of his children, I entrust into your hands the ribbon of my life. No one, not even the evil one himself, can take it away from your precious care. In your hands there is no knot that cannot be undone. Powerful Mother, by your grace and intercessory power with Your Son and My Liberator, Jesus, take into your hands today this knot.

[Mention your request here]

I beg you to undo it for the glory of God, once for all. You are my hope. O my Lady, you are the only consolation God gives me, the fortification of my feeble strength, the enrichment of my destitution, and, with Christ, the freedom from my chains. Hear my plea. Keep me, guide me, protect me, o safe refuge!

Mary, Undoer of Knots, pray for me.

Amen.

To pray this novena in full go to PrayMoreNovenas.com.

April 21, 2016

April 21st: Optional Memorial of Saint Anselm

St. Anselm
Saint Anselm was born in Aosta, Italy, in 1033. Anselm's contributions to the Church are numerous. As Archbishop of Canterbury he defended the Church against the encroachments of the monarchy, who possessed Church lands, impeded the Archbishop's communications with the Holy See, and claimed the right to appoint bishops, the exclusive preserve of the Church's spiritual jurisdiction. As a philosopher and theologian Anselm developed a method of reasoning that prepared the way for the thinkers of the Middle Ages. He is credited as the founder of Scholasticism. Anselm's dialogues and treatises are still read today. He is most famous for originating the ontological argument for the existence of God which he described thusly in his treatise, Prosologium:
God is that, than which nothing greater can be conceived.… And [God] assuredly exists so truly, that it cannot be conceived not to exist. For, it is possible to conceive of a being which cannot be conceived not to exist; and this is greater than one which can be conceived not to exist. Hence, if that, than which nothing greater can be conceived, can be conceived not to exist, it is not that, than which nothing greater can be conceived. But this is an irreconcilable contradiction. There is, then, so truly a being than which nothing greater can be conceived to exist, that it cannot even be conceived not to exist; and this being thou art, O Lord, our God.
Anselm had a great devotion to Mary and was the first to establish the feast of the Immaculate Conception in the West. His final years were marked by suffering, during which he was exiled twice in disputes with the political authorities. Anselm died on Holy Wednesday, April 21, 1109. His remains are entombed in Canterbury Cathedral.

The Life of St. Anselm

As prior and abbot, Anselm made the Benedictine monastery of Bec the center of a true reformation in Normandy and England. From this monastery he exercised a restraining influence on popes, kings, the worldly great, and entire religious orders. Raised to the dignity of Archbishop of Canterbury and primate of England, he waged a heroic campaign in defense of the rights and liberties of the Church. As a result he was deprived of goods and position and finally banned from the country. He journeyed to Rome, and at the Council of Bari supported Pope Urban II against the errors of the Greeks. His writings bear eloquent testimony to his moral stature and learning, and have earned for him the title of "Father of Scholasticism."

From The Church's Year of Grace, Pius Parsch.

St. Anselm exhibited remarkable versatility in his life; a combination of contemplation, prayer, study, writing, and external activity. This was partly the result of the extraordinary talent that God gave him, but it was likewise the fruit of Anselm's faithful exercise of his talent in the study of natural and supernatural truths. But his chief merit lay in his earnest, conscious effort to live in accordance with what he had learned from the study of divine truths. By this means he was able to ascend to the heights of a life of faith and union with God. There is very much that we can learn from this great teacher.

"Lord, I do not presume to fathom the depths of your truths, for my understanding is not equal to the task. Nevertheless, I desire to learn Your truths in some measure—those truths that I believe and love. I do not seek to gain knowledge so that I can believe; rather, I believe so that I may gain knowledge. No matter how persistently my soul gazes, it still beholds nothing of Your beauty; my soul listens intently, and yet it hears nothing of the learning of Your Being; my soul wants to breathe in Your fragrance, and yet perceives none of it. What are You, Lord? Under what image can my heart recognize You? Truly, You are life; You are truth; You are Goodness; You are Holiness; You are eternity; You are everything good! O man, why do you roam about so far in search of good things for soul and body? Love the one Good, in whom all goods are contained, and that will satisfy you!" (St. Anselm.)

Excerpt via Catholic Culture.org.

Symbols: Benedictine monk admonishing an evildoer; archbishop; ship; with Our Lady appearing before him; with a ship.

Collect Prayer

O God, who led the Bishop Saint Anselm to seek out and teach the depths of your wisdom, grant, we pray, that our faith in you may so aid our understanding, that what we believe by your command may give delight to our hearts. 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.


    

April 20, 2016

Exorcism: Separating Fact from Fiction. Three Priest Exorcists Discuss This Rite of the Church

This discussion of exorcism references various types of diabolical manifestations with a focus on demonic possession. The priests cited are current or former exorcists who have conducted the rite of exorcism hundreds of times collectively.

Exorcism [from the Greek ἐξορκισμός – meaning to bind with an oath] is a term that signifies an insistent request manifested toward God or directed against demons. There are two different types of exorcism within the Church: supplicating exorcisms and imperative exorcisms. A supplicating exorcism is a prayer to God asking to expel a demon. One does not need to be a priest to perform such an exorcism. An imperative exorcism is a command to the demon demanding it depart in the name of God. This liturgical rite of the Church can only be performed by a bishop or a delegated priest-exorcist of a diocese. Rarely, in cases of dire urgency, a bishop may designate any priest an exorcist on a pro re nata basis.

Demonic activity can be categorized as ordinary and extraordinary. Ordinary demonic activity includes the day-to-day temptations to sin common to everyone. Father Vince Lampert, exorcist for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, explains that extraordinary demonic activity is manifested in: 1.) Diabolic infestation – the presence of evil in a location or object, 2.) Diabolic vexation or harassment – physical attacks leveled at an individual, 3.) Diabolic obsession – mental attacks whereby an evil spirit plays upon a person’s mind and/or senses, 4.) Demonic possession – in which an evil spirit takes over a person’s body. [Father Gabriele Amorth, the Vatican’s former chief exorcist, gives two more instances.]

Signs of Possession

The Church has traditionally employed four criteria to determine the validity of whether an individual is demonically possessed. These are the hallmarks of possession popularized by movies like The Exorcist:

◗ The ability to speak and understand languages unknown to the individual.

◗ Clairvoyance or knowledge of things one wouldn’t otherwise know.

◗ Intense hatred and violent reactions toward anything of a divine nature, namely sacramentals, holy water, the Eucharist, etc.

◗ Possessing supernatural physical strength beyond one’s capacity.

Further, evidence of a demonic presence can be manifested physically in the afflicted individual or immediate environment in the following ways:

◗ Bodily contortions

◗ A change in physical appearance.

◗ A change in a person’s voice.

◗ A change in room temperature.

◗ Unpleasant odors.

Individuals who are disturbed must not be hastily examined or casually judged. Before proceeding with an exorcism, the individual’s mental and physical health is scrutinized to eliminate a psychological or medical reason for their behavior. Several psychological disorders like turrets and schizophrenia can mimic to a remarkable degree the symptoms of demonic possession. Only when these and all other causations are ruled out may an exorcism be performed.

Lucifer’s Fall & Mission

Chapter 12 in the Book of Revelation recounts how the angel Lucifer rebelled against God. In the battle that ensued one third of the angels in heaven fell from grace and were hurled down to earth as demons. Demons hail from all nine choirs of angels. Hence some demons are more powerful than others. Although their final damnation is assured, they still possess the powers that God gave them, if only for the time being. Between now and Christ’s second coming, Satan will seek to avenge himself by tempting human souls to reject God. Exorcism is such a powerful weapon in the Church’s spiritual arsenal because as Fr. Amorth notes, "To a demon, leaving the body of a person and sinking into hell is an irrevocable death sentence; that is why the demon fights it to the last." Unfortunately, the forces of hell will continue to wreak havoc on creation until the end of the world. Only an abiding relationship with God will protect us from the devil's snares.  Fr. Amorth’s observation is dispositive:
It is… clear that the believer must be faithful to God and must fear sin. This is the basis of our strength, as Saint John tells us: "We know that any one born of God does not sin, but He who was born of God keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him"(I Jn 5:18). If sometimes our weakness leads us to fall, we must immediately pick ourselves up with that great gift of God's mercy: repentance and confession.
The Devil despises Mary, the Mother of God. When the Church revised the rite of exorcism in 1999, it included prayers for Mary's intercession. Pray to Mary often, that she might intercede on your behalf and lead you always to Christ her Son.

The  Rite of Exorcism

The priest designated by the ordinary to perform the exorcism should prepare for the rite by observing a period of prayer, fasting, and confessing his sins. Catholic exorcisms are conducted in Latin, in a church, chapel or other sacred venue. [Not the possessed's bedroom!] The exorcist determines the time, place and who shall attend.

During the exorcism the possessed individual may be restrained so as not to harm themselves or others. The exorcist begins by tracing the sign of the cross over himself, the possessed and all bystanders before sprinkling all present with holy water. Afterward, he kneels and recites the Litany of the Saints. The exorcist continues to pray, commanding the demon[s] to depart. He recites the Our Father, Hail Mary, and the Athanasian Creed in addition to Gospel readings that remind the evil spirit of Christ’s power to cast out demons. Exorcists follow the procedures of exorcism proscribed in the Rituale Romanum. [A typical exorcism lasts between 35 minutes to an hour.]

Not all exorcisms are successful the first time; occasionally, additional exorcisms are required. The late Father James LeBar, former chief exorcist of the Archdiocese of New York, explained that the exorcist may demand that the demon[s] tell him their name. According to Fr. LeBar, to know the name of your adversary is to have power over them. The priest does this in the name of Jesus Christ to assert God's dominion over evil and to excise the demon from the possessed. Throughout the rite the demon is confronted with a crucifix because, by virtue of Christ’s Passion, Death and Resurrection, sin and death were defeated. The cross is a reminder to Satan that his days are numbered and his efforts are in vain.

For a step-by-step guide to the rite of exorcism go here.
_______________________________________________

Sources:

An Exorcist Tells His Story, Fr. Gabriele Amorth.

"Father Vince Lampert speaks about the Reality of Exorcisms", YouTube, Our Lady of Wisdom University Parish at Texas State Channel.

"Conversations the World Over - Exorcism and Demonic Possession", Raymond Arroyo's interview with Fr. James LeBar, YouTube, EWTN Channel.

April 18, 2016

Now Taking Nominations for the New Evangelization Award for Excellence in Catholic Blogging 2016

New Evangelization Award for excellence in Catholic blogging

We invite you to nominate your favorite Catholic blogs for consideration in the 2nd annual New Evangelization Award for excellence in Catholic blogging. The Catholic blogosphere hosts thousands of sites. Choosing among them blogs of distinction is a daunting task. We had originally intended to honor three Catholic bloggers who have made a unique and longstanding contribution to evangelize and engage a society that is increasingly hostile and openly skeptical toward Judeo-Christian principles and the "culture of life." We expanded that number to seven in deference to the prevalence of quality Catholic websites. (There are numerous bloggers worthy of recognition. We will announce the winners at the end of May.) In order to qualify, a blog must:
  • have been in existence for at least 3 years
  • publish original content that is faithful to the Magisterium of the Catholic Church
  • evangelize and inform Catholics, converts, reverts, and all who seek the fullness of truth 
You may nominate a Catholic blog through our Contact Page. Last year's recipients of the New Evangelization Award for Catholic blogging were:


Catholic Fire by Jean Heimann

Conversion Diary by Jennifer Fulwiler

Domine, da mihi hanc aquam! By Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP

Big Blue Wave by Suzanne F.

The Curt Jester by Jeff Miller

The Deacon’s Bench by Deacon Greg Kandra

April 17, 2016

Pope Saint Pius X on the Teaching of Jesus Christ

St. Pius X
It is an error to believe that Christ did not teach a determined body of doctrine applicable to all times and to all men, but rather that He inaugurated a religious movement adapted, or to be adapted, to different times and different places.
Saint Pius X's quotation comes from Lamentabili sane exitu (With truly lamentable results) a 1907 syllabus, prepared by the Holy Office and confirmed by Pope St. Pius X, which condemned errors in the exegesis of Holy Scripture and in the history and interpretation of dogma. It echoes Saint Thomas Aquinas' contention in the Summa Theologica that Christ is the Exemplar par excellence of how we ought to live. Lamentabili sane exitu preceded the more comprehensive encyclical Pascendi dominici gregis (Feeding the Lord's flock), promulgated later that year, in which Pope St. Pius X further condemned Modernism.

Homily for the 4th Sunday of Easter, April 17, 2016, Year C

Fr. Charles Irvin
Senior Priest
Diocese of Lansing

Christ the Good Shepherd(Click here for today’s readings)

There are any number of words and phrases that we use so often that we no longer pay attention to their content. Take the Lord’s Prayer for instance. What do we really mean when we address God as our Father? Who do we include in our; who do we exclude from our?

Today we just heard a phrase that we heard so many times: “Christ is the Good Shepherd who cares for his flock.” But what kind of a flock is it? Evidently it is made up of different kinds of sheep. There is a unity in God’s flock but there is diversity also, otherwise why would the Good Shepherd be going out looking for other sheep that Jesus indicates to be “not of this flock”?

We value unity while at the same we value diversity. It’s a nice ideal but it is a difficult reality to attain. We have only to look at the problem of unity and diversity as we find it both in our own country and in our Church. “Who’s in and who’s out?” is the big issue in America as well as in the Catholic Church. Who is an American, and who isn’t? Who’s a real Catholic and who isn’t?

We all uphold and value our unity as Americans. As we drive along our highways we see any number of billboards proclaiming “United We Stand.” Nevertheless we’re having problems with fighting the war in Afghanistan, dealing with undocumented aliens, prosecuting terrorists amongst us, taxes, government spending, as well as dealing with fellow citizens whom we regard to be “un-American.” By whose standards do we judge someone to be “un-American?” Who are the traitors among us; by what standards do we judge them to be traitors, and who decides that they are? What must be proven in order to strip people of American citizenship and then deport them?

Diversity is a hot-button item being argued and debated in our body politic. What we mean by the term “diversity” and what it entails in terms of our institutional policies and activities is far from clear. And what about the institution of marriage? Is it a concept that is univocal or does marriage encompass any type of loving partnership involving some degree of commitment?

The underlying problem in all these questions of “who’s in and who’s out” is this: too much diversity can destroy unity and integrity, while at the same time too much unity and impose a stifling and paralyzing uniformity. Balancing the two can be difficult. Unless a delicate balance is maintained the body will be torn asunder.

Similar difficult questions abound in the “one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.” Who’s in and who’s out? Who is a Catholic and who is not? By whose standards do we judge someone to be a genuine Catholic and who decides that someone is not?

Yes, there is one flock and one shepherd, but down through the centuries that “one flock” has certainly been composed of a whole lot of diverse Christians with diverse understandings of who Jesus Christ really is and what He requires of us in terms of our behaviors and our activities.

We all know that the Catholic Church is not a democracy. But a sheepfold is not a democracy either. The sheep don’t take votes and conduct opinion polls in order to determine in what direction they should move. The flock is guided and cared for by a shepherd. Evidently that was the will and purpose of Jesus when He appointed Peter and the Apostles to guide and care for His flock, the Church.

Anyone who has studied Church history with any depth knows full well that there is nothing at all simplistic about this descriptive model of the Church. First of all, some of the shepherds have not been at all good. Secondly, the sheep are not blind and stupid — they are possessed of intelligence and the Holy Spirit has been (and is!) at work in them.

This sets up a dialectic between the members of the Church – those who are ordained into Holy Orders and those who are not. The dialogue throughout history has been anything but serene. Violence has erupted. Tearings apart have resulted. The ideal given us by Jesus has been, at times, set aside.

In our recent history, back in the early 1960’s the Church convened all of its bishops from around the world in the Second Vatican Council. A major portion of that Council’s work was devoted to the nature of the Church and the roles of the laity and clergy. An updated understanding was badly needed and the bishops of the world responded to the task that confronted them. Their response was well done, so much so that even today we’re still struggling to keep the vision of Vatican Council II before our eyes while making it become real and operative in our Church. We would all do well if we read again the Documents of Vatican II, especially those dealing with the nature of the Church, the Church in the modern world, and the role of the laity.

It’s not news that we have liberals and conservatives. We have them in both the Church and in our American body politic. The fact what we have both liberals and conservatives ought not be threatening to us. One has only to study history and the origins of the Church to realize that the dialectic, with the resulting tension, has brought us good in many instances.

Unity is not uniformity. Diversity, per se, is not destructive divisiveness. Indeed, our Church in its infancy struggled with the issue of whether or not Gentiles could be members of Christ’s flock as well as observant Jews. Down through the centuries our Church has struggled with inclusiveness, all the while attempting to be in the world while remaining not of the world. The task has been remarkable. The result points to the guidance of God’s Holy Spirit.

Centuries ago someone gave us a maxim that still applies today. We are not sure who first spoke it but it tells us: “In necessary things, unity; in doubtful things, liberty; in all things, charity.” It’s a lovely principle but it becomes demanding when we together attempt to agree on what things are necessary.

In that struggle and in all of our efforts, let us always remember the last of the three points: “… in all things, charity.” As always, love is the bond of unity.

April 15, 2016

George Weigel on Amoris Laetitia: “The Merciful Grace of the Truth”

The Fall and Expulsion of Adam and Eve

George Weigel, Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C., is a leading observer of the Church. His commentary is indispensable to understanding Catholicism in the world today. His latest article, "The Merciful Grace of the Truth", considers Pope Francis’s apostolic exhortation, Amoris Laetitia, "The Joy of Love,". Weigel suggests the Church read and absorb Amoris Laetitia within that dyad of mercy and truth through which we strive to live in the imitation of Christ. He writes in part:
The Holy Father set in motion these past two years of contention and, one hopes, constructive dialogue in the Church because he knows that marriage and the family are in deep trouble throughout the world, just as he knows that marriage, rightly understood, and the family, rightly understood, are the basic building blocks of a humane society: the family is the first school of freedom, because it is there that we first learn that freedom is not mere willfulness; marriage, for its part, is the lifelong school in which we learn the full, challenging meaning of the law of self-giving built into the human heart.
Why are marriage and the family in trouble? Amoris Laetitia reviews a lot of the reasons, some of which go back to Adam and Eve, and some of which are contemporary expressions of that original sin of pride. The Holy Father also speaks with understanding and compassion of the difficulty that many young people have today in forming lifelong commitments. And he calls the Church to take the ministry of marriage preparation with ever greater seriousness... as an essential instrument of evangelization, especially for those who have trouble understanding that commitment is liberating.
Early in his commentary, Weigel notes that "At the Easter Vigil a few weeks ago, tens of thousands of men and women, mature adults, were baptized or entered into full communion with the Catholic Church." While their respective conversion stories were unique, "so there are no grand generalizations to be made about those who became Catholics at Easter," it's safe to assume that few had illusions about the Church's Creed, basic tenets and beliefs. Or as Weigel puts it, "it’s almost certainly the case that, for many of those who came into full communion with the Catholic Church from other Christian communities, it was the doctrinal and moral confusions in the community of their baptism that led them to seek a Church that knew what it believed, why (and Who) it worshipped, and how it proposed that we should live." Let us pray that the fruits of the Holy Father's exhortation will be mercy and charity, not acrimony, confusion and disunity.

Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. And You shall renew the face of the earth.

The New Theological Movement Blog is No Longer Defunct

The New Theological Movement

I am very happy to inform you that last August's blog of note, The New Theological Movement, which ceased publication in December 2014, appears to be publishing articles once again. The New Theological Movement Blog emanates from the minds of Father Ryan Erlenbush and a fellow diocesan priest who is the site's webmaster. NTM is a treasure trove of theological commentary, apologetics, scriptural exegesis and more. From the About page: "The aim of this blog, first and foremost, is to write for the benefit of the Catholic faithful and clergy. We will try to make the articles neither too academic such that they would belong in a theologically technical publication, nor merely 'popular.'"

Fr. Erlenbush describes his method of theological interpretation thusly: "The Catechism of the Catholic Church is 'the sure norm of truth' to which we will remain faithful. (John Paul II, Laetamur Magnopere). It goes without saying that whatever is written will strive to be in full harmony with the Church's Magisterium, so that those who visit this site may be sure that they are receiving Catholic doctrine."

Because blogs tend towards jumbled writing, the NTM blog utilizes a two tiered approach to posts to bring order to the information presented. First, there is the blog reel on the front page consisting of smaller theological articles. The second tier is the category called "Series." These posts extend over long periods of time and focus on specific theological topics.

Visit The New Theological Movement for sound, orthodox answers to your theological questions. In the world of Catholic websites it is a tremendous resource.

April 14, 2016

Pope Pius XII on Modern Man's Greatest Sin

Pope Pius XII
Perhaps the greatest sin in the world today is that men have begun to lose the sense of sin. 
— Venerable Pope Pius XII

This quotation is part of Pope Pius XII's radio message to participants at the closing of the National Catechetical Congress of the United States in Boston. Here is the relevant paragraph from that address. 
Perhaps the greatest sin in the world today is that men have begun to lose the sense of sin. Smother that, deaden it — it can hardly be wholly cut out from the heart of man — let it not be awakened by any glimpse of the God-man dying on Golgotha's cross to pay the penalty of sin, and what is there to hold back the hordes of God's enemy from over-running the selfishness, the pride, the sensuality and unlawful ambitions of sinful man? Will mere human legislation suffice? Or compacts and treaties? In the Sermon on the Mount the divine Redeemer has illumined the path that leads to the Father's will and eternal life; but from Golgotha's gibbet flows the full and steady stream of graces, of strength and courage, that alone enable man to walk that path with firm and unerring step.
Pope Pius XII's message can be read in full here. Doing so will repay your effort, especially if you are a catechist.