April 26, 2017

Here is Pope Francis' TED Talk

(For English subtitles click the closed caption icon
on the lower right of the video.)

Via the TED website:

A single individual is enough for hope to exist, and that individual can be you, says His Holiness Pope Francis in this searing TED Talk delivered directly from Vatican City. In a hopeful message to people of all faiths, to those who have power as well as those who don't, the spiritual leader provides illuminating commentary on the world as we currently find it and calls for equality, solidarity and tenderness to prevail. "Let us help each other, all together, to remember that the 'other' is not a statistic, or a number," he says. "We all need each other."

Feast of Our Lady of Montserrat [The Black Madonna]

Our Lady of Montserrat

April 27, 2017

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." Legends abound as to the statues' origins.

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 states that one night in the 8th century shepherds saw strange lights upon 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 rocks 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. (According to another tradition, Saint Luke carved the statue with the Blessed Virgin Mary sitting as his model while using the carpentry tools of Joseph. Later, Saint Peter brought the Madonna from Jerusalem to Barcelona)

Adapted excerpt from Shrines to Our Lady, Zsolt Aradi.

April's Blog of Note: Fr. Gary Coulter

Fr. Gary Coulter

April's Blog of Note is  Fr. Gary Coulter, the home page of a Catholic priest and parish pastor. Father Coulter is a priest for the Diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska and a graduate of Mount Saint Mary's Seminary. His website features numerous topics of interest to Catholics seeking information and insight concerning the faith; including apologetics, book recommendations, resources on Catholicism and marriage, current issues, Latin, recommended links, and more. As one reviewer stated, the site: "is a valuable resource for almost anyone. Homeschooling families will delight in checking out the recommended reading list, Latin students will find help in their studies and married couples will find sound direction."

Among the offerings, of particular note to priests and seminarians is Fr. Coulter's thesis The Presbyterium of the Diocese, in which he writes: "Addressing the U.S. Bishops of Detroit and Cincinnati on their Ad Limina visit (May 6, 2004) Pope John Paul II said, 'Strengthening a spirituality of communion and mission will demand a constant effort to renew the bonds of fraternal unity within the presbyterate.' As he elaborates on the Bishop's role:
Precisely because the members of his presbyterate are his closest cooperators in the ordained ministry, each Bishop should constantly strive to relate to them 'as a father and brother who loves them, listens to them, welcomes them, corrects them, supports them, seeks their cooperation and, as much as possible, is concerned for their human, spiritual, ministerial and financial well-being' (Pastores Gregis, 47).
All priests are familiar with the presbyteral order, that relationship among all priests from their identity with Christ the High Priest received in Holy Orders. Yet the Holy Father, speaking about the 'presbyterate,' here seems to refer to something more, a bond and grouping that takes place among the priests and with the bishop in a diocese. This occurs because after ordination, priests receive a specific pastoral mission. They are not simply serving the whole Church, but fully dedicate themselves to a particular Church and the faithful who compose it.

Father Gary Coulter's home page is an essential resource for those interested in understanding the Catholic faith more fully. Consider making it a regular part of your internet viewing itinerary. It is well worth your time and attention.

April 25, 2017

Saint John Damascene on Sacred Scripture

St. John of Damascus

The Bible is a scented garden, delightful, beautiful, it enchants our ears with birdsong in a sweet, divine, and spiritual harmony, it touches our heart, comforts us in sorrow, soothes us in a moment of anger, and fills us with eternal joy.
— St. John Damascene

Prayer for the Intercession of  St. John Damascene

Grant, we pray, O Lord, that we may be helped by the prayers of the Priest Saint John Damascene, so that the true faith, which he excelled in teaching, may always be our light and our strength. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you, and with the Holy Spirit, one God, forever. Amen.

Optional Memorial Our Lady of Good Counsel [Canada]

Our Lady of Good Counsel

April 26, 2017

Devotion to the Mother of Good Counsel is associated with a miraculous icon. The image [pictured above] is found in a church in Genazzano, a town thirty miles south-east of Rome. The church, dedicated to the Mother of Good Counsel, was built there in the 4th century. In 1356, it was given over to the Augustinians. Restoration started in 1467, when a widow, Petruccia, sold all her belongings to help finance the project. However, funds ran out before the task was completed.

That same year, the residents of Genazzano heard a beautiful melody emanating from heaven. As they looked up, they saw a white, shining cloud that descended on the Church of the Mother of Good Counsel. The cloud gradually vanished, revealing a beautiful painting of Our Lady tenderly holding her Divine Son in her arms. Immediately, Mary began to cure the sick and grant countless graces.

The news spread throughout the country. Two Albanians from Scutari appeared in the town with the following account. They had fled their homeland to escape the invading Turks. Before fleeing, they stopped in the church and had seen how the icon of Our Lady, wrapped in a white cloud, lifted off the wall on which it had hung for two centuries. They followed the picture until they could see the towers of Rome, when it suddenly disappeared. The mysterious icon of Genazzano was exactly identical to the one that had previously hung in the church in Scutari.

Pope Paul II sent two bishops to investigate the story. The prelates reported that 171 miracles were recorded in the months following the icon’s appearance. The pope’s commission also found that there was an empty space on the church wall at Scutari. The icon that had been venerated there for centuries was missing.

The image in Genazzano was painted on a sheet of plaster so thin that it would have been impossible for any human hand to remove it without damage. It had survived the subsequent centuries through the tumult of severe earthquakes and the bombings of World War II. Several altars were destroyed, walls caved in, and the roof was crushed. The icon, yards away from the explosion, remained intact.

Numerous miracles continued to be attributed to Our Lady of Good Counsel. Pope Saint Pius V credited victory in the Battle of Lepanto to her intercession. In 1682, Pope Innocent XI had the portrait crowned with gold. On July 2, 1753, Pope Benedict XIV approved the Scapular of Our Lady of Good Counsel and was the first to wear it. In 1884, a special Mass and Office of the Feast of Our Lady of Good Counsel was approved by Pope Leo XIII. For over 500 years, the image has continuously attracted countless pilgrims. Our Lady of Good Counsel, pray for us!

The Holy Father's Prayer Intentions for May 2017

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

Christians in Africa

That Christians in Africa, in imitation of the Merciful Jesus, may give prophetic witness to reconciliation, justice, and peace.

Beginning in 2017, the Pope will present one monthly intention, rather than two. Should an urgent need arise, an additional intention may be added.

April 24, 2017

Saint Mark, Evangelist and Eye Witness at Gethsemane

Saint Mark, the EvangelistApril 25th, is the optional memorial of Saint Mark (also referred to as John Mark), an early disciple of Our Lord, best known for the Gospel that bears his name. Tradition holds that members of Mark's family greatly abetted Christ’s work and earthly ministry.

Concerning his Gospel; Roman Christians were Mark’s primary audience. Mark emphasizes Jesus as the leader of a new Exodus. Saint Peter the apostle was Mark’s main source for the events of Jesus’ life. Many scholars believe that Mark’s Gospel was the earliest among the four.

John Mark was a disciple of Peter who followed Peter to Rome and later went to Egypt. He was very close to Peter: Peter calls him “my son Mark” at the end of his first letter (1 Pt 5:13). Mark wrote his Gospel based on the stories Peter had told him. The main audience was probably the Gentile Christians in Rome. Peter was so pleased with Mark’s Gospel that he had copies of it made for all the churches.

Of the four Gospels, Mark’s is the shortest, and many scholars believe it was the earliest. Many also believe that Matthew and Luke used it as a source for writing their Gospels, and indeed, certain accounts are in each of the "synoptic" Gospels.

Mark’s Gospel tells the story of Jesus’ life in a straightforward way. Although he includes many of the words of Jesus, Mark is more interested in what Jesus did. Throughout, we see Jesus leading us – the new Israel – on a new Exodus. Mark includes one story that none of the other Gospels mention. After Jesus had been arrested, the authorities led him off to the high priest.
And a young man followed him, with nothing but a linen cloth about his body; and they seized him, but he left the linen cloth and ran away naked. (Mk 14:51-52)
Why does Mark report this embarrassing incident? Most scholars believe that the naked young man was Mark himself, who added this little story to remind people who knew him that he was an eyewitness to some of the events of Christ's life.

Mark’s favorite word is "immediately". He uses it more than forty times, and his Gospel moves along at a brisk pace. Reading Mark’s Gospel in one sitting is easy, and it’s a good way to understand how exciting the Good News must have been to the earliest believers. 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, and with the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Saint Leo the Great on the Encounter with Christ on the Road to Emmaus

The Road to Emmaus Icon

The following homily by Pope Saint Leo the Great concerning Christ’s ministry during the 40 Days between his Resurrection and Ascension, focuses especially on his appearance and revelation to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus.

Beloved, the days which passed between the Lord’s resurrection and his ascension were by no means uneventful; during them great sacramental mysteries were confirmed, great truths revealed. In those days, the fear of death with all its horrors was taken away, and the immortality of both body and soul affirmed. It was then that the Lord breathed on all his apostles and filled them with the Holy Spirit; and after giving the keys of the kingdom to blessed Peter, whom he had chosen and set above all the others, he entrusted him with the care of his flock.

During these days, the Lord joined two of his disciples as their companion on the road, and by chiding them for their timidity and hesitant fears he swept away all the clouds of our uncertainty. Their lukewarm hearts were fired by the light of faith and began to burn within them as the Lord opened up the Scriptures. And as they shared their meal with him, their eyes were opened in the breaking of bread, opened far more happily to the sight of their own glorified humanity than were the eyes of our first parents to the shame of their sin.

Throughout the whole period between the resurrection and ascension, God’s providence was at work to instill this one lesson into the hearts of the disciples, to set this one truth before their eyes, that our Lord Jesus Christ, who was truly born, truly suffered and truly died, should be recognized as truly risen from the dead. The blessed apostles together with all the others had been intimidated by the catastrophe of the cross, and their faith in the resurrection had been uncertain; but now they were so strengthened by the evident truth that when their Lord ascended into heaven, far from feeling any sadness, they were filled with great joy.

Indeed, that blessed company had a great and inexpressible cause for joy when it saw man’s nature rising above the dignity of the whole heavenly creation, above the ranks of angels, above the exalted status of archangels. Nor would there be any limit to its upward course until humanity was admitted to a seat at the right hand of the eternal Father, to be enthroned at last in the glory of him to whose nature it was wedded in the person of the Son.

Excerpt from an Ascension sermon by Pope St. Leo the Great (c. 390 – 461).

April 23, 2017

Saint Fidelis of Sigmaringen, Priest and Martyr

Saint Fidelis of Sigmaringen

April 24th, is the optional memorial of Saint Fidelis of Sigmaringen (1577-1622), the 17th century Capuchin priest and martyr who played an important role in the Counter-Reformation, and was brutally murdered by his opponents at Seewis im Prättigau, in present day Switzerland. Fidelis has been called the "protomartyr of the Capuchin Order and of the Propaganda in Rome." He was devoted to Mary.

Fidelis was born in 1577, in Germany. After studying law and philosophy at the University of Freiburg, he went on to earn a degree as a Doctor of the Law. His skill in arguing before the court was evident and soon, he became a renowned lawyer. But feeling that this profession endangered the salvation of his soul, he decided to join the Capuchins and employ his extraordinary gift of eloquence in urging the faithful to lead holy lives and to bring heretics back to the true faith.

An ardent admirer of the founder of his Order (Matteo da Bascio), he was a great friend of poverty. Severe with himself, he was most considerate towards others, "embracing them like a mother does her children." When the Austrian army was stricken by plague, he cared for the spiritual and bodily needs of the soldiers in such a manner that he was honored with the title, "Father of the Fatherland."

His devotion toward the Mother of God was truly remarkable. Trusting in Mary's intercession and that of other saints, he often beseeched God for the grace of sacrificing his life in vindication of the Catholic faith. The occasion came when he was appointed to lead the mission for the conversion of Grisons (in Switzerland); heroically he suffered a martyr's death on April 24, 1622, and sanctified with his blood the first-fruits of martyrdom in the Capuchin Order. Many miracles were associated with his holy relics. He was canonized by Pope Benedict XIV in 1746.

Adapted excerpt from The Church's Year of Grace, Father Pius Parsch.

Benedict XVI’s Reflection For the 3rd Sunday of Easter: Christ Appears to Two Disciples on the Road to Emmaus

The road to Emmaus: Jesus with His two disciples

Pope Benedict XVI

St Peter's Square
Third Sunday of Easter, 6 April 2008

The Gospel of this Sunday - the Third of Easter - is the famous account of the disciples of Emmaus (cf. Lk 24: 13-35). It tells the tale of two followers of Christ who, on the day after the Sabbath or the third day after his death, were leaving Jerusalem sad and dejected, bound for a village that was not far off called, precisely, Emmaus. They were joined on their way by the Risen Jesus but did not recognize him. Realizing that they were downhearted, he explained, drawing on the Scriptures, that the Messiah had to suffer and die in order to enter into his glory. Then entering the house with them, he sat down to eat, blessed the bread and broke it; and at that instant they recognized him but he vanished from their sight, leaving them marvelling before that broken bread, a new sign of his presence. And they both immediately headed back to Jerusalem to tell the other disciples of the event.

The locality of Emmaus has not been identified with certainty. There are various hypotheses and this one is not without an evocativeness of its own for it allows us to think that Emmaus actually represents every place: the road that leads there is the road every Christian, every person, takes. The Risen Jesus makes himself our travelling companion as we go on our way, to rekindle the warmth of faith and hope in our hearts and to break the bread of eternal life. In the disciples' conversation with the unknown wayfarer the words the evangelist Luke puts in the mouth of one of them are striking: "We had hoped" (Lk 24: 21). This verb in the past tense tells all: we believed, we followed, we hoped..., but now everything is over. Even Jesus of Nazareth, who had shown himself in his words and actions to be a powerful prophet, has failed, and we are left disappointed. 

This drama of the disciples of Emmaus appears like a reflection of the situation of many Christians of our time: it seems that the hope of faith has failed. Faith itself enters a crisis because of negative experiences that make us feel abandoned and betrayed even by the Lord. But this road to Emmaus on which we walk can become the way of a purification and maturation of our belief in God. Also today we can enter into dialogue with Jesus, listening to his Word. Today too he breaks bread for us and gives himself as our Bread. And so the meeting with the Risen Christ that is possible even today gives us a deeper and more authentic faith tempered, so to speak, by the fire of the Paschal Event; a faith that is robust because it is nourished not by human ideas but by the Word of God and by his Real Presence in the Eucharist.

This marvellous Gospel text already contains the structure of Holy Mass: in the first part, listening to the Word through the Sacred Scriptures; in the second part, the Eucharistic liturgy and communion with Christ present in the Sacrament of his Body and his Blood. In nourishing herself at this two-fold table, the Church is constantly built up and renewed from day to day in faith, hope and charity. Through the intercession of Mary Most Holy, let us pray that in reliving the experience of the disciples of Emmaus every Christian and every community may rediscover the grace of the transforming encounter with the Risen Lord.

Homily for the 3rd Sunday of Easter, April 30, 2017, Year A

The Road to Emmaus

Fr. Charles Irvin
Senior Priest
Diocese of Lansing

(Click here for today’s readings)

Last Sunday’s Gospel account was about the disciples who were huddled in the Upper Room behind locked doors out of fear, and Jesus’ appearance among them. Today’s Gospel account is about another appearance of Jesus, this time with other disciples who were dejectedly walking from Jerusalem to a nearby hamlet called Emmaus.

St. Augustine along with others of the Fathers of the Church suggest that Jesus didn’t want the disciples to recognize Him right away, that He wanted them to recognize Him in “the breaking of the bread.” Moreover Jesus, they believed, wanted the disciples to see and understand what the Jewish prophets had foretold in Scripture about how the Messiah was to be recognized. Hence Jesus spent some significant time opening up the Scriptures so they might see them in a new light, His light, and then recognize Him.

We can easily overlook the importance Jesus placed on Scripture. He repeatedly spoke of it and quoted from it. We should recall that He was discussing it with the Jewish teachers and leaders when Joseph and Mary found Him as a boy in the Temple. Again and again He taught that He did not want to do away with the Jewish scriptures but rather wanted to fulfill all that was found in the teachings of the prophets.

We find Jesus in today’s Gospel account again fulfilling what was written in the Old Testament about the Messiah. It must have been quit enlightening because at the end of today’s episode we hear the disciples exclaim: “Were not our hearts burning within us while he spoke to us on the way and opened the scriptures to us?” [Luke 24:32]

As an aside I want to point out here that the Catholic Church is often accused of not relying on scripture. Catholics are told that their Church doesn’t feed them and nourish them with the bible. We should note, however, that each and every celebration of the Mass is divided into the two principal parts, the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist. The Liturgy of the Word always begins with a passage from the Old Testament followed by a reading from one of the Epistles and then a Gospel reading. How can it be said that the Catholic Church doesn’t nourish you with God’s Word from Scripture? Note, too, that there is always a thematic connection, a connection of ideas, between the Old Testament reading and the Gospel reading.

To me, the thing that is the most important point in today’s account revolves around how the disciples came to recognize Jesus. We find this group of disciples at first failing to recognize Jesus and then in the end coming to recognize Him. What happened? Why did they at first think He was a stranger and later come to realize who He really was?

You and I have had the experience of hearing what someone is telling us but not really listening to what they are saying. Similarly we have had the experience of seeing someone, looking at them, but not recognizing them for who they really are. This can be due to our own inattentiveness, or it can be due to the fact that the one we are looking at doesn’t want to be recognized in the way we expect.

What we’re talking about here is God’s way of reveling Himself to us. This is not simply a matter of blindness vs. sight; it’s about revelation and understanding.

You and I are much like those disciples on the road to Emmaus talking as they were about all of the terrible events they had experienced during the previous days in Jerusalem, about the betrayal of Judas, the hatred the religious authorities held against Jesus, and perhaps even about Pilate’s question: “Truth? What is truth?”

We need to, as they needed to, pay attention to whether we are hearing what people tell us vs. really listening to what they are saying. Additionally, we need to ask whether we are seeing those around us without recognizing who they really are.

We are presently living in dark times. We are awash in changes. Tsunami-like changes are sweeping over us as we begin this new millennium, drowning us under a deluge of fears. On the economic side of things, globalization is taking away our jobs; the mortgage mess is eroding our economy while reducing our home values; our savings accounts are being depleted, and the value of the dollar is plummeting as energy costs soar.

All of these events have a major effect on our feelings and emotions, particularly the feelings of fear that can hold us hostage. In the social arena we face problems such as the wave of illegal immigrations, racism, major leakage from church attendance, and our changing understanding of what it means to be a family. We all need to pause, to reflect, and ask ourselves what we are really hearing and what we are really seeing.

We are much like those disciples walking along on the road to Emmaus, concerned over the events in our lives. What brought them to recognize Jesus was “the breaking of the bread.” Their minds were immediately taken back to the Upper Room and the Last Supper, connecting that with the broken and bloody body of Jesus hanging on His cross.

Can we learn to recognize Jesus in human brokenness? That’s the key; that’s what opens our eyes to His presence among us. When we encounter people with broken hearts, Jesus is there. When we try to offer comfort to someone with a broken spirit, Jesus is there. When we encounter someone who is experiencing loss, pain, and suffering, Jesus is there. Isn’t that what Jesus was telling us when He taught us about the judgment we will receive when we die? He will ask us if we recognized Him in human brokenness: “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.”[Matthew 25:35-36]

The mystery of Christ’s suffering, death, and resurrection isn’t something that simply took place long ago. No. It is on-going; it is going on in our days. True, we live in times when men and women have sinned, and our own sins have obscured the face of Christ. At times He is not recognized in our world and at times even when He is recognized there are many who seek to get rid of Him. Nailing Him to the Cross is something that is still happening

But it is there that He reveals Himself. It is in suffering and broken humanity that He is present. It is there that He is to be revered. And it is from there that we receive the promise of Easter – resurrection and new life.

We are all walking our own roads through life. Can we — will we — like the disciples, recognize that Jesus is walking with us? Will we recognize Him in “the breaking of the bread”?

Divine Mercy Sunday | 2017

"Jesus, I trust in You."

April 23, 2017

Saint Faustina received visions of our Lord, in which, Jesus instructed her to tell the world of His infinite Love and Mercy. She recorded these visions in her diary; later published under the title Divine Mercy in My Soul: The Diary of St. Faustina. Here, St. Faustina writes of Jesus’ desire to establish a solemn feast dedicated to spreading the Divine Mercy of Christ to all humanity:

"On one occasion, I heard these words: 'My daughter, tell the whole world about My inconceivable mercy. I desire that the Feast of Mercy be a refuge and shelter for all souls, and especially for poor sinners. On that day, the very depths of My tender mercy are open. I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who approach the fount of My mercy. The soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion shall obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment. On that day, all the divine floodgates through which graces flow are opened.'"

Our Lord's will was indeed done. At St. Faustina's canonization Mass, her fellow countryman Saint John Paul II noted her witness as the Apostle of Divine Mercy:

"Divine Mercy reaches human beings through the heart of Christ crucified:  'My daughter, say that I am love and mercy personified', Jesus will ask Sr Faustina (Diary, p. 374). Christ pours out this mercy on humanity though the sending of the Spirit who, in the Trinity, is the Person-Love. And is not mercy love's 'second name' (cf. Dives in misericordia, n. 7), understood in its deepest and most tender aspect, in its ability to take upon itself the burden of any need and, especially, in its immense capacity for forgiveness? ... [M]y joy is truly great in presenting the life and witness of Sr. Faustina Kowalska to the whole Church as a gift of God"

Prayer of Gratitude for Divine Mercy

God of everlasting mercy, who in the very recurrence of the paschal feast kindle the faith of the people you have made your own, increase, we pray, the grace you have bestowed, that all may grasp and rightly understand in what font they have been washed, by whose Spirit they have been reborn, by whose Blood they have been redeemed. We pray 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.

Click for information about the Divine Mercy Sunday plenary indulgence.

Homily for the Second Sunday of Easter (Divine Mercy Sunday), April 23, 2017, Year A

Jesus with St. Thomas in the Upper Room
Fr. René J. Butler, M.S.
Provincial Superior, La Salette Missionaries of North America
Hartford, Connecticut

(Click here for today’s readings)

Don’t you hate ultimatums? Most of us have encountered (and maybe issued) them at one time or another. They usually begin with “unless” or “if” and threaten dire consequences if one’s expectations or demands are not met.

Thomas issued an ultimatum, inflexible conditions that had to be met in order for him to believe that Jesus had risen from the dead and had appeared to the other Apostles. It would be interesting to speculate as to why Thomas refused to believe—interesting but pointless.

Ultimatums generate frustration. Usually people throw up their hands and get angry. The inclination is to say, “Fine! Have it your way!” and then sit smug and wait for the inevitable comeuppance.

Jesus did not take that attitude. On the contrary, he accepted Thomas as he was, and accommodated his weak faith. He gave a very gentle reproof, to the effect that it would have been better, after all, if Thomas had believed without seeing.

This was a lesson that Thomas surely never forgot. Actually there were two lessons: one about faith, one about mercy.

“Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.” Blessed, of course, in their faith and in the salvation that it brings. But blessed also in the transformation that takes place as a result. On April 30, 2000, when Pope John Paul II established Divine Mercy Sunday, he said: “To the extent that humanity penetrates the mystery of [God’s] merciful gaze, it will seem possible to fulfill the ideal we heard in today's first reading: ‘The community of believers were of one heart and one mind. None of them ever claimed anything as his own; rather everything was held in common’ (Acts 4: 32). Here mercy gave form to human relations and community life; it constituted the basis for the sharing of goods.”

This blessedness is by no means contradicted by the reading from St. Peter, who speaks, on the one hand, of faith’s being tested by suffering and, on the other hand, of suffering endured with indescribable joy! And this, because God “in his great mercy gave us a new birth to a living hope.”

At every Mass we pray, “Lord, have mercy.”  We ask the Lord to give us his mercy, in two ways:

First, we ask him: “Take pity on us, show us your mercy.” Mercy is one of those Bible words that can be translated in a great variety of ways. Depending on the context and the translator, the same word for mercy in the opening verses of Psalm 118 can be rendered as goodness, kindness, love, faithful love, steadfast love, pity, loving-kindness, favor.

At the same time we are asking the Lord, “Put your mercy in us.” We want him to make us merciful with his mercy, his goodness, kindness, love, faithful love, steadfast love, pity, loving-kindness, favor.

We might even think of it as a single word, something like the made-up word in Mary Poppins: “supercalifragilisticexpialadocious.” The difference is that the Mary Poppins word is designed as “"something to say when you have nothing to say," while this “mercy word,” actually means something—something wonderful and beautiful, that goes on and on, endlessly coming from the Lord.

To paraphrase our Reponsorial Psalm, “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, his mercygoodnesskindnesslovefaithfullovesteadfastlovepity loving kindnessfavor endures forever.

All this endures forever. That is our comfort. That is why can say, confidently and endlessly, “Jesus, I trust in You.”

April 22, 2017

Saint George, the Patron of England

St. George and the dragon

April 23rd, is the optional memorial of Saint George. This year it is superseded by the Second Sunday of Easter, Divine Mercy Sunday. Some of the more colorful stories about this patron of England are not substantiated by fact, but that doesn’t mean that the legends surrounding St. George have any less power on the imagination. The most common depiction of the saint, in which he is slaying a dragon, persists, even though it first derived from a 12th century Italian fable.

What we can be fairly certain of is that George was a Christian, and a soldier, who was martyred on April 23, 303 AD, during the Emperor Diocletian's reign. The tradition which grew up about him revolves around his standing as a man-of-arms; the story of the dragon, for instance, comes from a tale in which St. George supposedly rescued a king’s daughter from being slain by a serpent.

As an example of the ideal of medieval knighthood, St. George became the patron of the Knights of the Garter, more properly known as the Knights of the Order of St. George. St. George’s Chapel, located in Windsor Castle, is its Mother Church and a service for members of the Order is still held there every June.

Extolling your might, O Lord, we humbly implore you, that, just as Saint George imitated the Passion of the Lord, so too may he lend us ready assistance in our weakness. Saint George, heroic Catholic soldier and defender of the Faith, you dared to criticize a tyrannical emperor and were subjected to horrific tortures. You could have occupied a high military rank, but you preferred to die for your Lord. Obtain for us the great grace of Christian courage that should distinguish soldiers of Christ. 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.

April 21, 2017

Divine Mercy Novena 2017 | Day 9

The Divine Mercy Image

April 22, 2017

On this ninth day of the Divine Mercy Novena, we pray for the souls who have become lukewarm. Christ told Saint Faustina, "Today bring to Me the Souls who have become lukewarm, and immerse them in the abyss of My mercy. These souls wound My Heart most painfully. My soul suffered the most dreadful loathing in the Garden of Olives because of lukewarm souls. They were the reason I cried out: 'Father, take this cup away from Me, if it be Your will.' For them, the last hope of salvation is to run to My mercy." May we grow closer to Christ crucified.

The Divine Mercy novena prayers were given to Saint Faustina by Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself. Each day features a new petition seeking God’s abundant mercy for various individuals. The message of Divine Mercy is one of conversion and forgiveness. For a complete guide to praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet go here.

Novena Prayer Day 9 (Easter Saturday)

The souls who have become lukewarm

Most compassionate Jesus, You are Compassion Itself. I bring lukewarm souls into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart. In this fire of Your pure love, let these tepid souls who, like corpses, filled You with such deep loathing, be once again set aflame. O Most Compassionate Jesus, exercise the omnipotence of Your mercy and draw them into the very ardor of Your love, and bestow upon them the gift of holy love, for nothing is beyond Your power.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon lukewarm souls who are nonetheless enfolded in the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. Father of Mercy, I beg You by the bitter Passion of Your Son and by His three-hour agony on the Cross: Let them, too, glorify the abyss of Your mercy. Amen.

For information about the image of Christ shown above go here. To learn about Saint Faustina, the Divine Mercy Chaplet and Divine Mercy Sunday, see "Who is Saint Faustina?" and "The Sunday After Easter is Divine Mercy Sunday".

April 20, 2017

Saint Anselm — His Wisdom in 25 Quotations

Saint Anselm of Canterbury

Saint Anselm of Canterbury, the 11th century Benedictine archbishop, achieved tremendous insight into the love of God. He dedicated his life to seeking out and teaching the depths of Divine Wisdom. May our understanding be enlightened and our faith founded by his thought as embodied in the following quotations.

God is that, the greater than which cannot be conceived.
Disasters teach us humility.
Idleness is the enemy of the soul.
Lust desireth not procreation, but pleasure only.
Just by thinking about thinking about God, we can know he exists.
It is, therefore, not proper for God thus to pass over sin unpunished.
Spare me through your mercy, do not punish me through your justice.
It is impossible to save one's soul without devotion to Mary and without her protection.
And indeed we believe you [God] to be something than which a greater cannot be conceived.
Let no worldly prosperity divert you, nor any worldly adversity restrain you from His praise.
God hath promised pardon to him that repenteth, but he hath not promised repentance to him that sinneth.
Remove grace, and you have nothing whereby to be saved. Remove free will and you have nothing that could be saved.
A single Mass offered for oneself during life may be worth more than a thousand celebrated for the same intention after death.
Therefore Lord God, you are more truly omnipotent, because you have no power through impotence and nothing can be against you.
God does not delay to hear our prayers because He has no mind to give; but that, by enlarging our desires, He may give us the more largely.
For I do not seek to understand in order to believe, but I believe in order to understand. For I believe this: unless I believe, I will not understand.
Therefore Lord, not only are you that than which a greater cannot be thought but you are also something greater than can be thought.
God was conceived of a most pure Virgin ... it was fitting that the virgin should be radiant with a purity so great that a greater purity cannot be conceived.
God often works more by the life of the illiterate seeking the things that are God's, than by the ability of the learned seeking the things that are their own.
I have written the little work that follows . . . in the role of one who strives to raise his mind to the contemplation of God and one who seeks to understand what he believes.
But a problem occurs about nothing. For that from which something is made is a cause of the thing made from it; and, necessarily,every cause contributes some assistance to the effect's existence.
O happy confidence! O perfect refuge!  The Mother of God is my Mother. What firm trust we should have, then, since our salvation depends on the judgment of a good Brother and a tender Mother.
My God, I pray that I may so know you and love you that I may rejoice in you. And if I may not do so fully in this life let me go steadily on to the day when I come to that fullness . . . Let me receive That which you promised through your truth, that my joy may be full.
There is no inconsistency in God's commanding us not to take upon ourselves what belongs to Him alone. For to execute vengeance belongs to none but Him who is Lord of all; for when the powers of the world rightly accomplish this end, God himself does it who appointed them for the purpose.
O supreme and unapproachable light! O whole and blessed truth, how far art thou from me, who am so near to thee! How far removed art thou from my vision, though I am so near to thine! Everywhere thou art wholly present, and I see thee not. In thee I move, and in thee I have my being; and I cannot come to thee. Thou art within me, and about me, and I feel thee not.

St. Anselm, help us grow in our love and understand of God as you did.

Divine Mercy Novena 2017 | Day 8

The Divine Mercy Image

April 21, 2017

On this eighth day of the Divine Mercy Novena, we pray for the souls who are detained in purgatory. Our Lord told Saint Faustina, "Today bring to Me the souls who are in the prison of Purgatory, and immerse them in the abyss of My mercy. Let the torrents of My Blood cool down their scorching flames. All these souls are greatly loved by Me. They are making retribution to My justice. It is in your power to bring them relief. Draw all the indulgences from the treasury of My Church and offer them on their behalf. Oh, if you only knew the torments they suffer, you would continually offer for them the alms of the spirit and pay off their debt to My justice." We continue to pray that we grow closer to Christ crucified.

The Divine Mercy novena prayers were given to Saint Faustina by Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself. Each day features a new petition seeking God’s abundant mercy for various individuals. The message of Divine Mercy is one of conversion and forgiveness. For a complete guide to praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet go here.

Novena Prayer Day 8 (Easter Friday)

The souls who are detained in purgatory

Most Merciful Jesus, You Yourself have said that You desire mercy; so I bring into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart the souls in Purgatory, souls who are very dear to You, and yet, who must make retribution to Your justice. May the streams of Blood and Water which gushed forth from Your Heart put out the flames of Purgatory, that there, too, the power of Your mercy may be celebrated.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon the souls suffering in Purgatory, who are enfolded in the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. I beg You, by the sorrowful Passion of Jesus Your Son, and by all the bitterness with which His most sacred Soul was flooded: Manifest Your mercy to the souls who are under Your just scrutiny. Look upon them in no other way but only through the Wounds of Jesus, Your dearly beloved Son; for we firmly believe that there is no limit to Your goodness and compassion. Amen.

For information about the image of Christ shown above go here. To learn about Saint Faustina, the Divine Mercy Chaplet and Divine Mercy Sunday, see "Who is Saint Faustina?" and "The Sunday After Easter is Divine Mercy Sunday".

Get additional information on this novena and daily email reminders HERE.

Saint Anselm, the "Father of Scholasticism"

Saint Anselm

April 21st, is the optional memorial of Saint Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)., also known as Anselm of Aosta and Anselm of Bec, the 11th century Benedictine abbot, archbishop, theologian and philosopher. He was born in the Italian town of Aosta, the eldest child of a noble family. His mother gave him a careful academic and Christian education. At 15, he sought entry to a monastery, but was refused over his father’s objections. Later, Anselm experienced a period of rebellion and excess, during which he abandoned his studies. He travelled to France in search of greater purpose and eventually reached the Abbey of Bec, drawn by the fame of its prior, Lanfranco of Pavia. There, at the age of 27, he entered monastic life.

In time, Anselm’s fellow monks would name him Lanfranco’s successor as abbot. Anselm successfully made the Benedictine monastery of Bec the center of a true reformation in Normandy and England. From this position, he wisely exercised a restraining influence on popes, kings, the worldly powerful, and entire religious orders. At the request of his community, Anselm began publishing his theological discourses; his best-known being Cur Deus Homo (“Why God Became Man”).

Appointed the Archbishop of Canterbury and primate of England (an office he initially refused), the future saint 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." Anselm's philosophical insights redound to the present. He is perhaps best known for his ontological argument, an a priori proof of God's existence. (For more see here and here.)

For his immense contributions to the Church's understanding of God, St. Anselm was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church by Pope Clement XI in 1720, 611 years after his death. He is a preeminent figure of the Middle Ages who harmonized the disciplines of prayer, study and governance, thanks to his profound love of God and God's Church that directed in full his thought, his writings and his actions.

Pope Benedict XVI summarized St. Anselm’s final years: "This holy Archbishop, who roused such deep admiration around him wherever he went, dedicated the last years of his life to the moral formation of the clergy and to intellectual research into theological topics. He died on 21 April 1109, accompanied by the words of the Gospel proclaimed in Holy Mass on that day: 'You are those who have continued with me in my trials; as my Father appointed a kingdom for me, so do I appoint for you that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom...' (Lk 22: 28-30). So it was that the dream of the mysterious banquet he had had as a small boy, at the very beginning of his spiritual journey, found fulfilment. Jesus, who had invited him to sit at his table, welcomed Anselm upon his death into the eternal Kingdom of the Father." St. Anselm help us love God as you did.

April 19, 2017

Divine Mercy Novena 2017 | Day 7

The Divine Mercy Image

April 20, 2017

On this seventh day of the Divine Mercy Novena, we pray for souls who especially venerate and glorify Jesus' mercy. Our Lord told Saint Faustina, "Today bring to Me the souls who especially venerate and glorify My Mercy, and immerse them in My mercy. These souls sorrowed most over my Passion and entered most deeply into My spirit. They are living images of My Compassionate Heart. These souls will shine with a special brightness in the next life. Not one of them will go into the fire of hell. I shall particularly defend each one of them at the hour of death."

The Divine Mercy novena prayers were given to Saint Faustina by Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself. Each day features a new petition seeking God’s abundant mercy for various individuals. The message of Divine Mercy is one of conversion and forgiveness. For a complete guide to praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet go here.

Novena Prayer Day 7 (Easter Thursday)

The souls who especially venerate and glorify Jesus' mercy

Most Merciful Jesus, whose Heart is Love Itself, receive into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart the souls of those who particularly extol and venerate the greatness of Your mercy. These souls are mighty with the very power of God Himself. In the midst of all afflictions and adversities they go forward, confident of Your mercy; and united to You, O Jesus, they carry all mankind on their shoulders. These souls will not be judged severely, but Your mercy will embrace them as they depart from this life.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon the souls who glorify and venerate Your greatest attribute, that of Your fathomless mercy, and who are enclosed in the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. These souls are a living Gospel; their hands are full of deeds of mercy, and their hearts, overflowing with joy, sing a canticle of mercy to You, O Most High! I beg You O God:

Show them Your mercy according to the hope and trust they have placed in You. Let there be accomplished in them the promise of Jesus, who said to them that during their life, but especially at the hour of death, the souls who will venerate this fathomless mercy of His, He, Himself, will defend as His glory. Amen.

For information about the image of Christ shown above go here. To learn about Saint Faustina, the Divine Mercy Chaplet and Divine Mercy Sunday, see "Who is Saint Faustina?" and "The Sunday After Easter is Divine Mercy Sunday".

Get additional information on this novena and daily email reminders HERE.

Virtual Rosary / Divine Mercy Chaplet

Our Lady of Guadalupe

We draw your attention to the icon on the right-side bar beneath the subscribe in a reader button. It contains a link to the Virtual Rosary website. The Virtual Rosary is downloadable software that enables you to say all twenty mysteries of the Holy Rosary as well as the complete Divine Mercy Chaplet (and its affiliated novena). Many of us have used it for years and find it a very helpful prayer aid.

Other features allow you to say the rosary in a host of languages. Additionally, you may log on to the site and make prayer requests that are entered into a worldwide prayer cast so that others will see and pray for your intentions. We encourage you to download the program and let others know about it. Go here for more information and to download the Virtual Rosary.

Prayer Before the Rosary

Blessed Virgin, Queen of the Holy Rosary, you have deigned to come to Fatima to reveal to the three shepherd children the treasures of grace hidden in the Rosary. Inspire our hearts with a sincere love of this devotion, in order that by meditating on the Mysteries of our Redemption which are recalled in it, We may be enriched with its fruits and obtain peace for the world, the conversion of sinners and of Russia, and the favor which we ask you in this Rosary: (Mention your request.) We ask this for the greater glory of God, for your honor, and for the good of all souls, including our intentions which reside in the silence of our hearts. Amen.

April 18, 2017

Divine Mercy Novena 2017 | Day 6

The Divine Mercy Image

April 19, 2017

On this sixth day of the Divine Mercy Novena, we pray for all humble souls and those of little children. Our Lord told Saint Faustina, "Today bring to Me the meek and humble souls and the souls of little children, and immerse them in My mercy. These souls most closely resemble My Heart. They strengthened Me during My bitter agony. I saw them as earthly Angels, who will keep vigil at My altars. I pour out upon them whole torrents of grace. I favor humble souls with My confidence."

The Divine Mercy novena prayers were given to Saint Faustina by Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself. Each day features a new petition seeking God’s abundant mercy for various individuals. The message of Divine Mercy is one of conversion and forgiveness. For a complete guide to praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet go here.

Novena Prayer Day 6 (Easter Wednesday)

The meek and humble souls and the souls of children

Most Merciful Jesus, You yourself have said, "Learn from Me for I am meek and humble of heart." Receive into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart all meek and humble souls and the souls of little children. These souls send all heaven into ecstasy and they are the heavenly Father's favorites. They are a sweet-smelling bouquet before the throne of God; God Himself takes delight in their fragrance. Such souls have a permanent abode in Your Most Compassionate Heart, O Jesus, and they unceasingly sing out a hymn of love and mercy.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon meek souls, upon humble souls, and upon little children who are reside in the abode which is the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. These souls bear the closest resemblance to Your Son. Their fragrance rises from the earth and reaches Your very throne. Father of mercy and of all goodness, I beg You by the love You bear these souls and by the delight You take in them: Bless the whole world, that all souls together may sing out the praises of Your mercy for endless ages. Amen.

For information about the image of Christ shown above go here. To learn about Saint Faustina, the Divine Mercy Chaplet and Divine Mercy Sunday, see "Who is Saint Faustina?" and "The Sunday After Easter is Divine Mercy Sunday".

Get additional information on this novena and daily email reminders HERE.

Our Lord Foretells the Coming of the Holy Spirit

Holy Spirit

Christ’s assurance to the apostles is from the Last Supper discourses in John.
If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth, which the world cannot accept, because it neither sees nor knows it. But you know it, because it remains with you, and will be in you. 
— John 14: 15-20 

Pentecost Collect Prayer

Almighty ever-living God, who willed the Paschal Mystery to be encompassed as a sign in fifty days, grant that from out of the scattered nations the confusion of many tongues may be gathered by heavenly grace into one great confession of your name, with the Holy Spirit. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever. Amen.

Catholic Scholar Asks, “Is the Pope Catholic?”

The Vatican

Douglas Farrow, the Kennedy Smith Chair in Catholic Studies at McGill University, writing for First Things last month, asks whether the papacy of Pope Francis is driving the Church toward schism. The confusion surrounding Amoris Laetitia has resulted in a diversity of understandings based upon the subsidiarity judgment of individual priest and prelates. Seeking clarity, four cardinals issued a dubia asking the Holy Father to answer questions about his post-synod apostolic exhortation.

Pope Francis has yet to answer the dubia. Consequently, prelates worldwide have interpreted Amoris in radically different ways. Farrow observes, "The trauma of the two synods on the family, which led to Amoris and to the dubia, is a trauma for which Francis himself is largely responsible."

"Actually, very little one hears from the Vatican these days reassures." Farrow continues. "This leaves those of us who are struggling with “discernment of situations” (to use the phrase from Familiaris Consortio that was taken up by Amoris Laetitia) in some perplexity, not so much in the matter of marriage and family life as in the life of the Church herself. Reckoning with a pope whose own remarks seem somewhat erratic is one thing. But how are we to reckon with a situation in which the administration of the sacraments, and the theology behind their administration, is succumbing, with his blessing, to regionalism?"

Farrow asserts that, "The ongoing rebellion against Humanae Vitae and Veritatis Splendor is something that he [Francis] has permitted, if not encouraged. And the flaws in Amoris are of his making. His unwillingness to respond directly to the dubia is not, then, a matter of taste only. In any event, the very fact that the dubia have been put—and they have been well put, whether or not they should have been put publicly—has carried the whole difficulty beyond matters of taste. Cardinal Müller’s denial that there is a doctrinal problem here is unconvincing."

To read Dr. Farrow's article, "Discernment of Situation", in full go HERE.

April 17, 2017

Divine Mercy Novena 2017 | Day 5

The Divine Mercy Image

April 18, 2017

On this fifth day of the Divine Mercy Novena, we pray for the souls of separated brethren. "Today bring to Me the Souls of those who have separated themselves from My Church, and immerse them in the ocean of My mercy. During My bitter Passion, they tore at My Body and Heart, that is, My Church. As they return to unity with the Church My wounds heal and in this way they alleviate My Passion."

The Divine Mercy novena prayers were given to Saint Faustina by Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself. Each day features a new petition seeking God’s abundant mercy for various individuals. The message of Divine Mercy is one of conversion and forgiveness. For a complete guide to praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet go here.

Novena Prayer Day 5 (Easter Tuesday)

The souls of separated brethren

Most Merciful Jesus, Goodness Itself, You do not refuse light to those who seek it of You. Receive into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart the souls of those who have separated themselves from Your Church. Draw them by Your light into the unity of the Church, and do not let them escape from the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart; but bring it about that they, too, come to glorify the generosity of Your mercy.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon the souls of those who have separated themselves from Your Son's Church, who have squandered Your blessings and misused Your graces by obstinately persisting in their errors. Do not look upon their errors, but upon the love of Your own Son and upon His bitter Passion, which He underwent for their sake, since they, too, are enclosed in His Most Compassionate Heart. Bring it about that they also may glorify Your great mercy for endless ages. Amen.

For information about the image of Christ shown above go here. To learn about Saint Faustina, the Divine Mercy Chaplet and Divine Mercy Sunday, see "Who is Saint Faustina?" and "The Sunday After Easter is Divine Mercy Sunday".

Get additional information on this novena and daily email reminders HERE.

A Brilliant Defense of the Pro-Life Position in the Case of Rape: "The Morality of Abortion Does Not Change"

In an exchange that has gone viral, the conservative commentator Ben Shapiro brilliantly articulates the pro-life argument in cases of rape, and in the process, eviscerates the abortion dogma of pro-abortion advocates. LifeSiteNews reports: "During an April 3 talk at the University of Florida, a female student asked how Shapiro would advise a woman who’s been raped and has no access to abortion."

Shapiro replied, "The answer is that [rape] doesn't actually change the calculus, meaning that obviously, what happened to this person is an awful, awful horrible thing. And as I said earlier, the person who raped her should be tracked down, captured, killed or castrated. So that's number one,"

 "If you don't think it's a life, then you can do whatever you want with it. If you do think it's a life, then you can't do anything with it."

"As far as what she does with the baby, that's up to her. It's obviously going to be an obvious economic burden. I would think though that there are a lot of people out there, like me, who would give charity in order to try and help out somebody who's obviously in that sort of situation." [ ... ]

The questioner asserted if the raped victim became pregnant through consensual sex, then she should still be able to have an abortion because, "it’s her body.... "

Shapiro answered, "Right, so you’re giving me an exceptional case in order to prove a rule that you don’t want actually want to defend."

"If you just come up and ask me do I think a woman should have an abortion, then we could actually have an argument or discussion about what case is an abortion appropriate. But this is what people on the pro-choice side — the anti-life side — actually do. What they actually do is they take the marginal case, they take the rapes — a woman who has a severe disability — and they say, 'this is all abortions.'"

"That’s not all abortions. Significantly less than 1% of all abortions are performed on women who have been raped. If you want to talk about the epidemic of abortion in the country — over one million abortions performed a year in the United States — let’s talk about the other 99% of cases. When you are willing to agree with me that the other 99% of cases are not cases where abortion should be necessary then I’m willing to have a discussion with you about compromise."

Video and partial transcript via LifeSteNews. For more go HERE.

Prayer for the Gift of Life

Father, maker of all. You adorn all creation with splendor and beauty, and fashion human lives in your image and likeness. Awaken in every heart reverence for the work of your hands, and renew among your people a readiness to nurture and sustain your precious gift of life. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God forever. Amen.

The Divine Mercy Sunday Plenary Indulgence

Divine Mercy Image of Christ

Jesus told St. Faustina that this Feast of Mercy would be a very special day when "all the divine floodgates through which graces flow are opened." (Diary 699) Our Lord made a great promise to all those souls who would go to Confession and then receive Him in Holy Communion on the Feast of Mercy, on the Sunday after Easter, which is now called Divine Mercy Sunday throughout the Catholic Church.

Jesus promised, "The soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion shall obtain the complete forgiveness of sins and punishment." (Diary 699) He went on to say "I want to grant a complete pardon to the souls that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion on the Feast of My Mercy." (Diary 1109)

Take advantage of this incredible promise and the additional plenary indulgence on this feast of Mercy "Divine Mercy Sunday". We want you to benefit fully from these promises, and we encourage you to notify all of your family and friends about them too and urge them to return to the practice of their faith About "Divine Mercy Sunday", Jesus said "…tell the whole world about My inconceivable mercy. I desire that the Feast of Mercy be a refuge and shelter for all souls, and especially poor sinners. On that day the very depths of My tender mercy are open. I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon the souls who approach the Fount of My Mercy. On that day all the divine floodgates through which graces flow are opened. Let no soul fear to draw near to Me, even though its sins be as scarlet.... Mankind will not have peace until it turns to the Fount of My Mercy." (Diary 699)

It is required of all Catholics to confess their serious sins at least once a year. One may go to Confession up to 20 days, before or after Divine Mercy Sunday.

Summary of the Indulgence

I. The usual conditions for a plenary indulgence:

1.) Sacramental confession [according to previously issued norms, within about 20 days before or after.]

2.) Eucharistic communion [according to previously issued norms, preferably on the day, or the days before or after]

3.) Prayer for the intentions of Supreme Pontiff [certain prayers are not specified]

II. The specific conditions for this indulgence:

On Divine Mercy Sunday

1.) In any church or chapel, in a spirit that is completely detached from the affection for a sin, even a venial sin, take part in the prayers and devotions held in honor of Divine Mercy... or

2.) In the presence of the Blessed Sacrament exposed or reserved in the tabernacle, recite the Our Father and the Creed, adding a devout prayer to the merciful Lord Jesus (e.g. Merciful Jesus, I trust in you!")

Partial Indulgence:

A partial indulgence, granted to the faithful who, at least with a contrite heart, pray to the merciful Lord Jesus a legitimately approved invocation. [e.g. Jesus I trust in You. My Jesus mercy. or any other approved invocation]

Those who cannot go to church or the seriously ill

Conditions for a Plenary Indulgence:

1.) Totally detesting any sin,

2.) The intention of fulfilling as soon as possible the three usual conditions of confession, communion and prayers for the Holy Father

3.) Recite the Our Father and the Creed before a devout image of Our Merciful Lord Jesus, pray a devout invocation to the Merciful Lord Jesus (e.g. Merciful Jesus, I trust in you).

If it is impossible to do even this:

1.) With a spiritual intention unite with those carrying out the prescribed practice for obtaining the Indulgence in the usual way and

2.) Offer to the Merciful Lord a prayer and the sufferings of their illness and the difficulties of their lives, with the resolution to accomplish as soon as possible the three conditions prescribed to obtain the plenary indulgence.

For information about the image of Christ shown above go here. To learn about Saint Faustina, the Divine Mercy Chaplet and Divine Mercy Sunday, see "Who is Saint Faustina?". For information on praying the Divine Mercy Novena go here.

April 16, 2017

Divine Mercy Novena 2017 | Day 4

The Divine Mercy Image

April 17, 2017

On this fourth day of the Divine Mercy Novena, we pray for the souls of all those who do not believe in Jesus and those who do not yet know Him. Our Lord told Saint Faustina, "Today bring to Me those who do not believe in God and those who do not know Me. I was thinking also of them during My bitter Passion, and their future zeal comforted My Heart. Immerse them in the ocean of My mercy."

The Divine Mercy novena prayers were given to Saint Faustina by Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself. Each day features a new petition seeking God’s abundant mercy for various individuals. The message of Divine Mercy is one of conversion and forgiveness. For a complete guide to praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet go here.

Novena Prayer Day 4 (Easter Monday)

Those who do not believe in Jesus and those who do not yet know Him

Most compassionate Jesus, You are the Light of the whole world. Receive into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart the souls of those who do not believe in God and of those who as yet do not know You. Let the rays of Your grace enlighten them that they, too, together with us, may extol Your wonderful mercy; and do not let them escape from the abode which is Your Most Compassionate Heart.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon the souls of those who do not believe in You, and of those who as yet do not know You, but who are enclosed in the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. Draw them to the light of the Gospel. These souls do not know what great happiness it is to love You. Grant that they, too, may extol the generosity of Your mercy for endless ages. Amen.

For information about the image of Christ shown above go here. To learn about Saint Faustina, the Divine Mercy Chaplet and Divine Mercy Sunday, see "Who is Saint Faustina?" and "The Sunday After Easter is Divine Mercy Sunday".

Get additional information on this novena and daily email reminders HERE.

Reflection on the Sundays of Eastertide: "Blessed are Those Who Have Not Seen and Have Believed"

The Ascension of Our Lord

By Msgr. Bernard Bourgeois 

The Easter season stretches from Easter Sunday to Pentecost, making up what is known as “The Great 50 Days.” This is a season in which the Church rejoices in and with the resurrected Christ. It is certainly the most festive season of the year as the Church proclaims the Easter Alleluia. Lilies abound in our churches and the baptismal font and the paschal candle are at the center of our Easter celebrations. The faithful renewed their baptismal vows on Easter Sunday and reflects upon them throughout the Easter season. The lighting of the paschal candle, which took place at the Easter Vigil Mass, is a reminder of the resurrection of Jesus Christ and is lit at every Mass throughout Easter. It stands as a sentry; one light of hope in a world that is still filled with despair and sin. The readings of the season are from the Acts of the Apostles in which the Church is reminded of its earliest days and called to recommit to the same faith.

This is a season in which Jesus’ disciples slowly descend from the peak of faith, celebrated on Easter Sunday. There is much work to do in the Easter season that follows. The Church has enjoyed its time at the mountaintop celebrating Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter. Now, Jesus’ followers return to their normal lives of work, family, school, and home, and with that comes the real test: can the follower of Jesus, who has been so enlightened by the resurrection of Jesus, make faith work in his or her daily life? Is it possible to believe? The Easter season is about letting it all sink in. The Eucharist, as celebrated Holy Thursday, the death of the Lord which was the focus of Good Friday, and the Resurrection, which the Church proclaimed on Easter Sunday—all of these are matters of belief that go beyond what human reason can prove. In the Easter season, the faithful are asked to embrace these matters of faith which were celebrated in rapid succession during the sacred Triduum. Faith and belief are lifelong journeys. It does not come all at once but over the course of a lifetime the disciple embraces the great mysteries of faith. In a sense the human person is wired to believe in only that which he can see, touch, and prove. Faith requires that the same person go beyond the senses to embrace the Lord in love.

The first matter of faith to be accepted is that God exists. God is. The human person knows little of the nature of God, only that he exists and that he is all powerful, all knowing, and all loving. According to Genesis, men and women are created in his image and likeness. The person comes to accept God’s existence through realizing the beauty of creation and by understanding that he or she is not responsible for himself. Something somewhere has created me, placed me, and given me gifts. Wow! God exists. Can you believe it?

The person is called to believe in Jesus Christ as fully God and fully human. God has loved the person so much that he became one in all things but sin. Why else would God have become human? It is for the benefit of the person. He suffered, died, and was raised, the focus of the Easter season. The Resurrection is not a ghostly appearance but a true rising from the dead. Jesus will never die again. Through the Resurrection hope has entered the world. Sin and suffering will not be the final chapters. It is hope and new life that will be the final words on human history. Can you believe it?

The Eucharist is one of the most important matters of belief. On Holy Thursday, the Church celebrated the moment when Jesus took bread and said “This is my body” and the cup of wine and said “This is my blood. Do this in memory of me.” From the earliest accounts of the Church, it was noted that this instruction was taken literally. The Eucharist is the central prayer of the Church and is the heart of all parishes. However, the human person is skeptical. It still looks and tastes like bread and wine—how can it be said that it is the “body and blood of Christ”? Again, this is a matter of faith to be embraced. Through the power of the Holy Spirit and the words of the Church, this change happens. You will believe in the Eucharist when you felt its power in your life. Can you believe it?

These are all matters of faith to be embraced—the fact that God exists, Jesus Christ, and the Eucharist. All of these go beyond what can be learned through human reason. The Easter season helps the followers of Jesus to take it slowly. One embraces these mysteries of faith through prayer. The Lord wants you to embrace him in love. You will not have these matters of faith all figured out, but you do not need to completely understand them. Humans embrace one another in love all the time without fully knowing the other, but they still do it. Why? Because it is what makes us human. When the person has felt the experience of the living God, Jesus Christ, and the Eucharist, then he or she will know that it is all true. In the Easter season Christians are asked to accept and embrace fully the truths of faith and to live as sons and daughters of God most high. It is what makes us human.