July 31, 2017

The Portiuncula Indulgence of the Forgiveness of Assisi [a Plenary Indulgence] is Available on August 2nd

Dominican cross

"Francis you are very zealous for the good of souls." 

The Portiuncula indulgence can be gained on August 2nd, or in remote areas of the world where Mission Chapels are not open during the week, the first Sunday of August. We owe this indulgence to the prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi. In the year 513, four hermits came to Italy and built a small chapel in the vicinity of Assisi. The Benedictines named it the Portiuncula Church and administered it until the 13th century. St. Francis beseeched the Benedictine Abbot to let his Order have the church. Over time, the Portiuncula Church was enlarged and beautified.

The miraculous origin of the Portiuncula indulgence is as follows. Jesus, Mary and a host of angels appeared to St. Francis. Jesus said to him, "Francis you are very zealous for the good of souls. Ask me what you want for their salvation." Francis replied "Lord, I a miserable sinner beg You to concede an indulgence to all those who enter this church, who are truly contrite and have confessed their sins. And I beg Blessed Mary, your Mother, intercessor of man, that she intercede on behalf of this grace." Jesus granted Francis' petition for the indulgence and told him to ask Pope Honorius III to sanction it. (This occurred in the Portiuncula Chapel.)

The indulgence may be gained as often as one wishes (i.e. visits to the church). It is applicable to oneself or the souls in purgatory.

Requirements for Gaining the Portiuncula Indulgence

Devoutly visit the parochial (i.e. parish) church on August 2nd.
◗ Say one "Our Father" and the "Apostles Creed".
◗ Say one "Our Father" and one "Hail Mary" for the Holy Father’s intentions (the intentions designated by the Holy Father each month).
◗ Make a sacramental confession within 20 days.
◗ For a plenary indulgence, be free from all attachment to sin, even venial sin (or the indulgence is partial, not plenary).

Prayer for St. Francis of Assisi's Intercession

O God, by whose gift Saint Francis was conformed to the Lord in poverty and humility, grant that, by walking in Francis' footsteps, we may follow your Son, and, through joyful charity, come to be united with you. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who reigns with you, and in the unity of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

St. Alphonsus Liguori on Praying to God

Saint Alphonsus Liguori
Acquire the habit of speaking to God as if you were alone with Him, familiarly and with confidence and love, as to the dearest and most loving of friends. Speak to Him often of your business, your plans, your troubles, your fears — of everything that concerns you. Converse with Him confidently and frankly; for God is not wont to speak to a soul that does not speak to Him.
— St. Alphonsus Liguori
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Prayer for St. Alphonsus Liguori's Intercession

Almighty God our Father, who constantly raises up in your Church new examples of virtue, grant that we may follow so closely in the footsteps of the Bishop Saint Alphonsus in his zeal for souls, and by his intercession, as to attain the same rewards that are now his in heaven. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who reigns with you and with the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

St. Alphonsus Liguori, Patron of Theologians

Saint Alphonsus Liguori

Memorial - August 1st

Alphonsus Liguori earned a doctorate in both civil and canon law by the age of sixteen. This future Doctor of the Church was not, however, destined to remain in the secular legal profession. After the humiliating loss of a court case in his mid-twenties, he gave up law and dedicated his life to serving God and His Church.

Alphonsus was born in Naples, Italy, in 1696 to a noble and pious family. Against the wishes of his father, who had encouraged his legal career, Alphonsus was ordained a priest in 1726 and soon became known as a particularly articulate preacher. His gentleness, especially in the confessional, was controversial in the eyes of some. At this time, the Catholic Church was struggling with the heresy of Jansenism. This teaching, which was actually a form of Calvinism, was strongly condemned by the Pope in 1713, but vestiges of its austerity and scrupulosity were still being felt in the actions of various religious orders and also confessors.

In 1732, he founded a religious order dedicated to working among the rural poor. The Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, popularly known as Redemptorists, lived in community in imitation of Christ and preached missions throughout the countryside of Italy. Liguori himself worked at this calling for over twenty-six years. Ironically, he was expelled from his own order for a time due to internal strife and the desertion of some of the original members of the community.

His contributions to the life of the Church did not end with the Redemptorists, however.  As a moral theologian, Liguori stressed, not the condemnation of God, but His mercy and readiness to forgive sins. His two-volume work, “Moral Theology”, has become a classic of Catholic teaching, and has subsequently been translated into more than sixty languages. In addition to his theological writing, he also authored several devotionals, many of which are still followed today.

He was particularly devoted to the Blessed Mother. It was she who gave him comfort and strength in times of his greatest struggles. Although not in the best of health throughout his life, Liguori was especially debilitated during his last years, suffering from arthritis and rheumatism so painful that it deformed his body. Confined to a wheelchair and nearly blind, his head was permanently bent forward onto his chest. For years he drank from tubes to receive nourishment.

It was during this time that his enemies in the government, in an attempt to revise the Rule of the Redemptorists to better suit themselves, tricked him into signing a document that effectively removed him as head of his own order. This led Liguori to spiral into a “dark night” of fear, uncertainty and scrupulosity, which took years to overcome and was ultimately relieved by his devotion to Mary.

St. Alphonsus Liguori died peacefully on August 1, 1787 at the age of ninety-one. Canonized in 1839, he was declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope Pius IX in 1871. The patron of theologians and vocations, his feast day is celebrated on August 1st. Almighty God, who constantly raise up in your Church new examples of virtue, grant that we may follow so closely in the footsteps of the Bishop Saint Alphonsus in his zeal for souls so to attain the same rewards as his in heaven.

July 30, 2017

Reflection on the Transfiguration of Christ

Transfiguration of Christ


At the Transfiguration, Moses was there representing the law and Elijah was there representing the prophets. But why were Peter, James, and John present? And what does this event mean to us today?

St. Thomas Aquinas devotes an entire section in his Summa theologiae to this event. His treatment sums up much of the wisdom of the Fathers, so looking at his reflections may give us some answers.

Aquinas says that it was fitting that Christ be manifested in his glory because those who are walking an arduous path need a clear sense of the goal of their journey. The arduous path is this life, with all of its attendant sufferings, failures, setbacks, disappointments, and injustices, and its goal is heavenly glory, fullness of life with God, the transformation of our bodies.

As he makes his way toward the cross, Jesus accordingly allows, for a brief time, his glory to shine through, the radiance of his divinity to appear. We are not meant finally for this world. This event is meant to awaken our sense of wonder at the world to come.

Next, Aquinas asks about the “light” or the “glory” that envelops Christ during the Transfiguration. It “shines.” Why have people, trans-historically and trans-culturally, associated holiness with light? Well, light is that by which we see, that which illumines and clarifies. But at bottom it is the fact that light is beautiful. Beautiful things shine. Aquinas says that Jesus, at the Transfiguration, began to shine with the radiance of heaven so as to entrance us with the prospect of our own transfiguration.

Finally, Aquinas talks about the witnesses to the Transfiguration, namely Peter, James, John, Moses, and Elijah. Moses stands for the Law. Jesus recapitulates, perfects, and illumines the Mosaic law: “I have come not to abolish the law but to fulfill it.” Christ is the new Moses, the new Lawgiver.

Similarly, Elijah stands for the prophets; he was the greatest of the prophets. The prophets spoke the words of God; Jesus is the Word of God. Therefore, the prophetic books are read in his light.

But why is Peter there? Because, says Aquinas, he loved the Lord the most. Why is John there? Because the Lord loved him the most. Why is James there? Because he was the first of the Apostles to die for his faith.

Who gets access to the glory of Jesus? Those who are tied to him through love

Prayer of Saint Ignatius of Loyola

Saint Ignatius of Loyola
Grant, O Lord, that my heart may neither desire nor seek anything but what is necessary for the fulfillment of Thy holy Will. May health or sickness, riches or poverty, honors or contempt, humiliations, leave my soul in that state of perfect detachment to which I desire to attain for Thy greater honor and Thy greater glory. Amen.
— St. Ignatius of Loyola 
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Prayer for St. Ignatius of Loyola's Intercession 

Almighty ever-living God, who raised up Saint Ignatius of Loyola in your Church to further the greater glory of your name, grant that by his help and intercession we may imitate him in fighting the good fight on earth and merit to receive with him a crown in heaven. 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.

Memorial of St. Ignatius of Loyola, Priest & Founder

Saint Ignatius of Loyola

July 31st, is the memorial of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, priest and founder of the Society of Jesus. Ignatius, was born of a noble family at Loyola, in Cantabria, Spain. He attended the court of the Catholic king before pursuing a military career. In 1521, while defending the town of Pamplona against French attack, Ignatius was struck by a cannonball in the legs. To save Ignatius' life doctors performed several surgeries. Despite their efforts, his condition deteriorated.

On June 29, 1521, on the feast of Saints Peter and Paul, Ignatius began to improve. As soon as he was healthy enough to bear it, part of one leg was amputated which while painful, sped his recovery. He chanced in his illness to read several pious books, which kindled in his soul a fervent desire to follow in the footsteps of Christ and the saints. Among his realizations, was that some thoughts brought him happiness and others sorrow. He recognized that evil caused unpleasantness while God was the source of true joy and happiness.

He entered the Benedictine monastery, Santa Maria in Montserrat, and before the alter of the Black Madonna, laid down his arms. He gave his costly garments to a beggar and retired to Manresa, where he dressed in sackcloth. There he stayed for a year, living on bread and water, given to him in alms, fasting every day except Sunday and engaging in severe mortifications of the flesh. God favored and refreshed Ignatius with such wonderful spiritual insights, that afterward he was wont to say that even if the Sacred Scriptures did not exist, he would die for the faith, on account of the revelations he received from the Lord at Manresa.

In order to make himself fit for gaining souls, Ignatius determined to procure a proper spiritual and scriptural education. Meanwhile he relaxed nothing of his zeal for the salvation of others, ever desiring to suffer for the glory of the Lord. At the University of Paris, he was joined by nine companions, men of different nations, who had their degrees in Arts and Theology. The future saint laid the foundations of his Order, which he later instituted in Rome. He added to the three usual vows a fourth concerning missions, thus binding the Jesuits closely to the Holy See.

Pope Paul III first approved the Society of Jesus, as did later other pontiffs. The Council of Trent sent his fellow Jesuit, Saint Francis Xavier to preach the Gospel in the Indies, and dispersed others from his Order to spread the Catholic faith throughout the world; thus, declaring war against paganism, superstition, and heresy. This war Ignatius waged with success, winning may souls back to God.

He made the restoration of piety among Catholics his first care. He increased the beauty of sacred buildings, the giving of catechetical instructions, the frequency of sermons and of the sacraments. He opened schools for the education of youth in piety and letters. At length in the sixty-fifth year of his life, he passed to the embrace of his Lord, on July 31, 1556, whose greater glory he had preached. St. Ignatius was celebrated for his miracles and for his great services to the Church, In 1622, Pope Gregory XV enrolled him among the saints; while Pope Pius XI, declared him heavenly patron of all Spiritual Exercises. St. Ignatius pray for us.

Adapted excerpt from The Liturgical Year, Abbot Gueranger O.S.B.

Archbishop Chaput on Being Catholic in America

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput
We’re Catholics before we’re Democrats. We’re Catholics before we’re Republicans. We’re even Catholics before Americans.  
— The Most Reverend Charles Chaput, Archbishop of Philadelphia 
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Just as our divine Founder, Jesus Christ is a "sign of contradiction" to mankind, His Church, in proclaiming the Good News to every generation, finds herself contradicting the prevailing view of the age as expressed by the contemporary culture. May we, as members of Christ's mystical Body, remain steadfast in countering all that rejects God and undermines the Church's mission of love.

Homily for the Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, July 30, 2017, Year A

Solomon

Fr. René J. Butler, M.S.
Provincial Superior, La Salette Missionaries of North America
Hartford, Connecticut


Put yourself in Solomon’s place. God says to you, “Ask something of me and I will give it to you.” What criteria would you use for your request?

Solomon’s criteria were simple. He was King, he had to govern his people, but he was inexperienced. We commonly say he asked for wisdom; but his actual words were, “Give your servant, therefore, an understanding heart to judge your people and to distinguish right from wrong.”

His values are clear. Yes, his royal position is important, but his responsibilities are not merely administrative; and judging justly is a sacred trust. The highest value, however, is expressed with the words, “I serve you in the midst of the people whom you have chosen.” His service is to God first. And his governance is exercised not over just any nation, but over God’s chosen people.

Using the language we find in today’s parables, we could say that Solomon asked for a “treasure” or a “pearl of great price.” And he got it.

Let me be clear. When I say, “Put yourself in Solomon’s place,” I don’t mean you should think of yourself as a newly crowned king. Think of yourself as you are today, and God tells you to ask for anything you want.

This isn’t one of those three-wishes jokes. It’s a serious question, first and foremost about what really matters in your life.

From one point of view, your answer isn’t all that important. St. Paul reminds us today that “all things work for good for those who love God.” That’s helpful, because it means we don’t have to worry too much maybe making a mistake. This is not “Jeopardy!”

Still, you would want to choose the right thing, the best thing for what matters most at this moment in your life, maybe even one of the things Solomon didn’t ask for. “Long life” and “riches” can’t be all bad, especially if they can be put to good use to accomplish your goals.

There we go again. Goals imply values, values imply what is most important.

We can be reasonably sure that God wouldn’t agree simply to satisfy our greed, or our lust for power and pleasure, or our desire for revenge. We can be reasonably sure that those things would not ultimately matter the most to us.

Our request, like Solomon’s, would have to be personal without being selfish. It would have to be concrete without being too specific, general without being ambiguous, realistic without being crass, noble without being a daydream. Here is an example from the Book of Proverbs: “Give me neither poverty nor riches; provide me only with the food I need; lest, being full, I deny you, saying, ‘Who is the Lord?’ or, being in want, I steal, and profane the name of my God” (30:7).

Interestingly, this request from Proverbs, just like Solomon’s, also has something to do with God. This is where the “Kingdom of God” comes in. Whether we think of it as treasure or as a pearl, its value is such that everything else pales in comparison. The Christian is prepared to sacrifice everything for it.

At the time the Gospel was being preached and then written, Christians were in fact forfeiting lands and freedom, being rejected by friends and family, and even being put to death, all for the sake of the Kingdom. Jesus was their treasure. Nothing and no one else could even come close.

There’s a famous story about the ancient Greek thinker and inventor Archimedes running around shouting “Eureka! I found it!” What he had found was the solution to a practical problem put to him by the king.

Our problem is put to us by the Lord: “Ask for anything you want.” What shall we ask for?

Everyone wants world peace, for example. What gifts would you ask for if you felt called to be an effective peacemaker?

The best starting point is for each of us to recognize our unique place in the Kingdom of God, then work out what gift will enable us best to accomplish the work that has been given to us, and then ask for it—confidently, even boldly.

The treasure in the field and the pearl of great price are there for the finding. We can run around shouting “Eureka!” for a while, but then we have to put ourselves in Solomon’s place.

July 29, 2017

St. Peter Chrysologus, Bishop and Doctor of the Church

Saint Peter Chrysologus

(In 2017, this feast is superseded by the Sunday liturgy.)

July 30th, the Catholic Church observes the optional memorial of Saint Peter Chrysologus. In the fifth century, Ravenna, not Rome, was the capital of the Roman Empire in the West, and Ravenna itself became a metropolitan see. St. Peter Chrysologus was one of the most distinguished archbishops of that see.

Peter was born in Imola about the year 400 and studied under Cornelius, bishop of that city, who ordained him deacon. In 433, the archbishop of Ravenna died, and when a successor had been chosen by the clergy and people of Ravenna, they asked Bishop Cornelius to obtain confirmation of their choice from Pope Sixtus III. On his trip to Rome, Cornelius took his deacon, Peter, as his companion; upon seeing Peter, the pope chose him for the see of Ravenna instead of the one selected by the clergy and people of Ravenna.

Peter was consecrated and was accepted somewhat grudgingly at first by both the clergy and the people. Peter, however, soon became the favorite of Emperor Valentinian III, who resided at Ravenna and was also highly regarded by Pope St. Leo the Great, the successor of Pope Sixtus.

There were still traces of paganism in Peter's diocese, and his first effort was to establish the Catholic faith everywhere, rooting out abuses and carrying on a campaign of preaching and special care of the poor. Many of his sermons still survive, and it is on the basis of these that he was known as "the golden word."

In his concern for the unity of the Church, Peter Chrysologus opposed the teaching of Eutyches, condemned in the East, who asked for his support. Peter also received St. Germanus of Auxerre to his diocese and officiated at his funeral.

Knowing that his own death was near, Peter returned to his own city of Imola and after urging great care in the choice of his successor he died at Imola about the year 450 and was buried in the church of St. Cassian. In 1729, Pope Benedict XIII declared him a Doctor of the Church. Almighty God, who made the Bishop Saint Peter Chrysologus an outstanding preacher of your incarnate Word, grant, through his intercession, that we may constantly ponder in our hearts the holy mysteries of your salvation and faithfully express them in what we do. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son who reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, Amen.

Adapted excerpt from The One Year Book of Saints, Fr. Clifford Stevens.

July 28, 2017

Saint Martha, Virgin, Patron of Servants

Saint Martha

Memorial - July 29th

Although we encounter Martha only briefly in the Gospels, it is very obvious from what the evangelist John says about her that she, along with her sister Mary and brother Lazarus, were important people in Jesus’ life: “Jesus,” he says, “loved Martha and Mary and Lazarus.”  Their home in Bethany, which was located just a few miles from Jerusalem, seems to be one place where their beloved friend could simply relax and enjoy the company of people who cared about him.

Martha is someone with whom it is easy to identify. In Luke’s Gospel, we see her hurrying about during one of Jesus’ visits, busy with all the work of hospitality.  We also see an understandable touch of annoyance when she complains that her sister has apparently left all the chores to her; the level of comfort she felt with Jesus is apparent when she appeals directly to Him to “get her sister moving”. The gentleness and affection with which He admonishes her is very evident as He tells her that “Mary has chosen the better portion and will not be deprived of it.”

Yet, it is Martha who makes a great statement of faith when Jesus arrives in Bethany after the death of her brother, Lazarus: “I have come to believe that you are the Messiah,” she says “the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world.”  (John 11: 27) Her body which lies at Tarascon is held in great veneration. The patron saint of housewives, and servants, St. Martha’s feast day is July 29th.

Almighty ever-living God, our Father whose Son was pleased to be welcomed in Saint Martha's house as a guest, grant, we pray, that through her intercession, serving Christ faithfully in our brothers and sisters, we may merit to be received by you in the halls of heaven. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and with the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

July 27, 2017

Flannery O’Connor on Protestantism

Flannery O’Connor

"The Catholic finds it easier to understand the atheist than the Protestant, but easier to love the Protestant than the atheist. The fact is though now that the fundamental Protestants, as far as doctrine goes, are closer to their traditional enemy, the Church of Rome, than they are to the advanced elements of Protestantism. You can know where I stand, what I believe because I am a practicing Catholic, but I can’t know what you believe unless I ask you.… As far as I know, it hurts like nothing else. We are at least together in the pain we share in this terrible division. It’s the Catholic Church who calls you 'separated brethren,' she who feels the awful loss."

Flannery O’Connor from a July 1959 letter to Dr. T.R. Spivey

Flannery O'Connor, Friend of God, Pray for us!

July 25, 2017

Prayer for Saint Anne’s Intercession

St. Anne

O Holy Saint Anne, you were especially favored by God to be the mother of the most Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of our Savior. By your powerful intercession in union with your most pure daughter and with her divine Son, kindly obtain for us the grace and the favor we now seek. Please secure for us also forgiveness of our past sins, the strength to perform faithfully our daily duties and the help we need to persevere in the love of God and the imitation of Jesus our Lord. Amen.
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St. Anne: A Powerful Intercessor and Protectress

Great saints and Doctors of the Church including Saint Augustine, Saint Thomas Aquinas, Saint John Damascene, and Saint Teresa of Ávila, had devotions to St. Anne. In the words of St. Teresa of Ávila, “We know and are convinced that our good mother St. Anne helps in all needs, dangers and tribulations.” Among other things, she is the patroness of the childless, the help of the pregnant, and the protectress of widows. She is a powerful intercessor for single women who seek a Godly husband, married couples, expectant mothers and married couples who have difficulty conceiving, as well as all who have grown old. Those who honor St. Anne will receive her aid in every need especially, at the hour of their death.

Sts. Joachim and Anne, Parents of the Blessed Virgin

Sts. Joachim and Anne

At one time, July 26th, was the feast of St. Anne only, but with the new calendar the two feasts of the parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary have been joined and are celebrated today. Information about Mary's parents comes from an apocryphal Christian writing, the Protoevangelium Jacobi (or Gospel of James), written about 170 AD. According to this story, Joachim was a prominent and respected man who had no children. He and his wife, Anne, looked upon this as a punishment from God. In answer to their prayers, Mary was born and was dedicated to God.

From this early Christian writing have come several of the feast days of Mary, particularly the Immaculate Conception, the Nativity of Mary, and her Assumption into Heaven. Very early also came feast days in honor of SS. Joachim and Anne, and in the Middle Ages numerous churches, chapels, and confraternities were dedicated to St. Anne. The couple became models of Christian marriage, and their meeting at Jerusalem's Golden Gate has been a subject of Christian artists.

Anne is often shown in paintings with Jesus and Mary and is considered a subject that attracts attention, since Anne is the grandmother of Jesus. Her two great shrines — that of Ste. Anne d'Auray in Britanny, France, and that of Ste. Anne de Beaupre near Quebec in Canada — are very popular. We know little else about the lives of Mary's parents, but considering the person of Mary, they must have been two very remarkable people to have been given such a daughter and to have played so important a part in the work of the Redemption.

There is a church of St. Anne in Jerusalem and it is believed to be built on the site of the home of SS. Joachim and Anne, when they lived in Jerusalem. O Lord, God of our Fathers, who bestowed on Saints Joachim and Anne this grace, that of them should be born the Mother of your holy incarnate Son, grant, through the prayers and intercession of both, that we may attain the salvation you have long promised to your people. 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.

Adapted excerpt from The One Year Book of Saints, Fr. Clifford Stevens.

The Holy Father's Prayer Intentions for August 2017

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

Artists

That artists of our time, through their ingenuity, may help everyone discover the beauty of creation.

Specific Intention - To be Announced

Pope Francis has decided to keep one monthly prayer intention. He is no longer proposing an urgent prayer intention. Each Sunday on which he gives an Angelus address, he asks for prayers for specific people and situations that are of deep concern to him.

July 24, 2017

The Tragedy of Charlie Gard is a Cautionary Tale for America About the Evils of Socialized Medicine

Charlie Gard

It has long been an aspiration for the Left to impose a single-payer health care system like the kind found in Canada and much of Europe. Proponents of such socialized medicine argue it is the only viable alternative, both economically and morally. However, as the tragic case of Charlie Gard shows, faceless autocrats from government run universal health care bureaucracies invariably abrogate parental rights and the efforts of well-meaning doctors to provide alternate care.

Townhall reports that Charlie’s parents have ended their legal battle as time has simply run out. "Connie Yates and Chris Gard, the parents of Charlie Gard, the terminally-ill baby who they sought to bring to the United States for a last-ditch experimental treatment, have dropped their legal battle to move their son. Per the couple's lawyer, it's simply too late for the treatment to have any... benefit."

"Charlie's parents have been fighting for months to bring their son to the United States, but faced significant legal hurdles throughout the entire process. They raised over $1 million to transport and treat their son, yet the European Court of Human Rights ruled that doing so was not in his best interest, and he had to remain at Great Ormond Street Hospital" [and] life support was to be withdrawn. In short, Charlie Gard was euthanized by bureaucratic stonewalling and delay.

Speaking of medically induced, government sanctioned euthanasia, George Weigel, Distinguished Senior Fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, in an article for National Review Online, reflected upon Colorado's Proposition 106, the "End-of-Life Options Act," that legalized physician-assisted suicide in the Centennial State. Weigel noted that the citizens of Colorado should bear in mind the unintended consequences and implicit dangers of such a law. He wrote:

"The more apt mot about all of this lethality masquerading as compassion, however, is from the quotable quotes of... [Fr.] Richard John Neuhaus, who famously said of the morally egregious and its relationship to law, 'What is permitted will eventually become obligatory.' Canada isn’t quite there yet, nor is Belgium; but they’re well on their way, not least because their single-payer health-care systems will increasingly find euthanasia cost-effective — and because the arts of pain relief combined with human support will atrophy in those countries as the 'easy way out' becomes, well, easier and easier."

If we don't defend human dignity and promote a “Culture of Life”, the preborn, the terminally ill and those at the end of life will be summarily terminated because they are “not viable”, too old, too sick, too time consuming or too expensive. This is the “Culture of Death” personified. As Mother Angelica once observed: “The culture of death is hard and unbending. It is without love, without compassion, without hope. It is the blackest pit. It is nothing but darkness.”

Saint Anne Novena 2017 | Day 9

St. Anne

July 25, 2017

Saint Anne Novena - Day 9

Most holy mother of the Virgin Mary, glorious Saint Anne, I, a miserable sinner, confiding in your kindness, choose you today as my special advocate. I offer all my interests to your care and maternal solicitude. O my very good mother and advocate, deign to accept me and to adopt me as your child.

O glorious Saint Anne, I beg you, by the passion of my most loving Jesus, the Son of Mary, your most holy daughter, to assist me in all the necessities both of my body and my soul. Venerable Mother, I beg you to obtain for me the favor I seek in this novena…

(State your intention here.)

and the grace of leading a life perfectly conformable in all things to the Divine Will. I place my soul in your hands and in those of your kind daughter. I ask for your favor in order that, appearing under your patronage before the Supreme Judge, He may find me worthy of enjoying His Divine Presence in your holy companionship in Heaven. Amen.

Pray for us, Saint Anne, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

O Lord, God of our Fathers, who bestowed on Saints Joachim and Anne this grace, that of them should be born the Mother of your incarnate Son, grant, through the prayers of both, that we may attain the salvation you have promised to your people. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you, and in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Saint James the Greater, Apostle, "Son of Thunder"

Saint James the Greater

July 25th, the Catholic Church celebrates the Feast of Saint James the Greater, the Apostle and martyr. Both his parents, Zebedee and Salome were people of affluence and well-respected. His father was a fisherman of the Lake of Galilee, who lived in or near Bethsaida, perhaps in Capharnaum who had several hired men in his employ. His mother was one of the pious women referenced by Scripture who followed Christ and “ministered unto Him of their substance.”

James is called “the Greater” to distinguish him from the Apostle James “the Less,” who was probably shorter of stature. We know little of St. James’s early life. He was the eldest brother of John, the beloved disciple. According to the social rank of their parents, they were certainly men of ordinary education, in the common walks of Jewish life. They had opportunity of coming in contact with Greek culture and language which flourished on the shores of the Galilean Sea.

The Galilean origin of St. James in part explains the energy of temper and the vehemence of character which earned for him and St. John the name Boanerges, or "sons of thunder". Galileans were the fiercest defenders of the Jewish nation. When John the Baptist proclaimed the coming of the Messiah, St. John became a disciple and was directed to “the Lamb of God”. Later, he brought his brother James to Jesus. The call of St. James is found in Matthew, Mark and Luke. The sons of Zebedee, as well as Simon Peter and Andrew were approached by the Lord upon the Sea of Galilee, where they were tending their fishing nets. All four, "forthwith left their nets to follow Christ," and became, in time, "fishers of men".

St. James was afterward selected to the Apostleship. Together, Peter and Andrew, James and John, formed a prominent inner circle of Jesus, (cf. Mark 13:3). who witnessed the Transfiguration, and certain of His miracles, like the raising of Jairus’ daughter, and accompanied Him to the Garden of Gethsemane. Like his brother, James was active in the work of evangelization after the death of Jesus. Tradition holds he preached the Gospel in Spain after Jesus' Resurrection.  It is worthy of notice that James is never mentioned in the Gospel of Saint John.

James's martyrdom is the only biblical record we have of the death of one of the Apostles. He was the first of that chosen group to give his life for his Master. The Lord had foretold this kind of fate when He prophesied that both James and his brother John would "drink of the same chalice" of suffering as Himself. Almighty ever-living God, who consecrated the first fruits of your Apostles by the blood of Saint James, grant, we pray, that your holy Church may be strengthened by his confession of faith and constantly sustained by his protection. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

July 23, 2017

Blessed Pope Paul VI on St. Charbel Makhlouf

Saint Charbel Makhlouf
[A] hermit of the Lebanese mountain is inscribed in the number of the blessed...a new eminent member of monastic sanctity is enriching, by his example and his intercession, the entire Christian people... May he make us understand, in a world largely fascinated by wealth and comfort, the paramount value of poverty, penance, and asceticism, to liberate the soul in its ascent to God...
— St. Pope Paul VI on the beatification of Charbel Makhlouf
_________________________________________

Prayer for St. Charbel Makhlouf’s Intercession

St. Charbel Makhlouf, whom God imbued with immense devotion and a desire to imitate Christ in all things, intercede for us and teach us to love the disciplines of self-sacrifice, penance, prayer and contemplation. Help us to embrace humility not greed or material gain. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you, and n the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever. Amen.

Saint Anne Novena 2017 | Day 8

St. Anne

July 24, 2017

Saint Anne Novena - Day 8

Remember, O Saint Anne, you whose name signifies grace and mercy, that never was it known that anyone who fled to your protection, implored your help, and sought your intercession was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, I fly unto you, good, and kind mother; I take refuge at your feet, burdened with the weight of my sins. O holy mother of the Immaculate Virgin Mary, despise not my petition…

(State your intention here.)

But hear me and grant my prayer. Amen.

Pray for us, Saint Anne, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

O Lord, God of our Fathers, who bestowed on Saints Joachim and Anne this grace, that of them should be born the Mother of your incarnate Son, grant, through the prayers of both, that we may attain the salvation you have promised to your people. 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.

For more on this novena and daily email reminders go to PrayMoreNovenas.com

Saint Charbel Makhlouf, Lebanese Priest and Mystic

Saint Charbel Makhlouf

July 24th is the optional memorial of Saint Charbel Makhlouf. He was born in the mountain village of Biqa-Kafra, Lebanon, the fifth child of a poor Maronite Family on May 8, 1828. Charbel exhibited preternatural spiritual abilities at an early age especially contemplation, prayer and solitude. At 23, over his parent’s objections, he entered the monastery of Our Lady of Lebanon and became a novice.

After two years of novitiate, in 1853, he entered the Monastery of Saint Maroun. Ordained a priest in 1859, he spent sixteen years there, totally dedicated to Christ, performing his priestly and monastic duties in an exemplary way. He practiced self sacrifice, ministering with an undivided heart before receiving permission from his superiors to live in the hermitage of Saints Peter and Paul.

Charbel's companions at the hermitage were Christ, as encountered in the Scriptures and in the Eucharist, and the Blessed Mother. The Eucharist became the center of his life. He consumed the Bread of Life and was consumed by it. Though his hermit isolated from the world, the world had a great place in his heart. He would offer himself as a sacrifice so that the world would return to God. In this light, one can see the importance of this Eucharistic prayer in his life:
Father of Truth, behold Your Son a sacrifice pleasing to You, accept this offering of Him who died for me...
On December 16, 1898 while reciting the "Father of Truth" prayer at the Holy Liturgy, Charbel suffered a massive stroke. He died on Christmas Eve at the age of 70. Through faith this hermit received the Word of God and through love he continued the Ministry of Our Lord's Incarnation.

On the evening of his funeral, his superior wrote: "Because of what he will do after his death, I need not talk about his behavior". A few months after his death a bright light was seen surrounding his tomb. The superiors opened it to find his body still intact. Since that day a blood-like liquid flows from his body. Experts and doctors are unable to give medical explanations for the incorruptibility and flexibility. In 1950 and 1952 his tomb was opened and his body was found intact.

The spirit of Charbel still lives in many people. His miracles include numerous healings of the body and of the spirit. Thomas Merton, the American Hermit, wrote in his journal: "Charbel lived as a hermit in Lebanon—he was a Maronite. He died. Everyone forgot about him. Fifty years later, his body was discovered incorrupt and in short time he worked over 600 miracles. He is my new companion. My road has taken a new turning. It seems to me that I have been asleep for 9 years—and before that I was dead."

At the closing of the Second Vatican Council, on December 5, 1965 Charbel was beatified by Pope Paul VI. On October 9, 1977 during the World Synod of Bishops, Pope Paul VI canonized Blessed Charbel among the ranks of the Saints.  O God, who called the Priest Saint Charbel Makhluf to the solitary combat of the desert and imbued him with all manner of devotion, grant us, we pray, that, being made imitators of the Lord's Passion, we may merit to be co-heirs of his Kingdom. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever. Amen.

Homily for the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time, July 30, 2017, Year A

Parable of the Hidden Treasure

Fr. Charles Irvin
Senior Priest
Diocese of Lansing


The Kingdom of God, always somewhat mysterious for us, was always on the mind of Jesus. There are almost one-hundred and fifty references to God’s Kingdom in the New Testament, fifty-two of them in St. Matthew’s gospel alone. The more Jesus spoke about the Kingdom the more it seemed to His listeners to be another-worldly place. Perhaps that’s because in a world gone insane, sane things seem to be unreal.

In today gospel account Jesus referred to the Kingdom as a hidden treasure, a box filled with golden coins buried somewhere in a field. Likewise, He spoke of the Kingdom as a precious pearl, a jewel found by a businessman who astutely sold everything he owned in order to buy it. He spoke, too, of the Kingdom as a fishing net filled with fish both good and bad. Later He referred to the Kingdom as leaven in dough, as light, salt and seed. Likewise, He called it a ripe harvest, a royal feast and as a wedding banquet.

We wonder what the Kingdom is for us, in everyday terms, as we live out life here in our town this week, next month, throughout the rest of this year, and beyond. How do we identify and describe God’s Kingdom here on earth? Some folks think of the Kingdom as a remote and distant heaven in another world at the end of life. Others think it’s an ideal political and economic order. Some think that the Kingdom is exclusively God’s business, not ours, and we have only to wait and receive it from God’s hands. Some identify the Kingdom as the Church; what’s inside the Church is the Kingdom, what’s outside of the Church is not a part of God’s Kingdom.

But what is the Kingdom of God? When did it start? Where did it begin? How did it come into being? For the answer to must go back to the beginning. In the beginning God divided light out from the dark. Then God divided the land from the water. Then He made the earth fertile so that living things would grow in it. Then the oceans, lakes and rivers were made to crawl with reptiles and filled with swimming fish. The lands He filled with weeds, climbers and creepers, bushes, and finally great trees. The air and the sky God filled with insects and birds, and on the ground wondrous animals and creatures of all sorts and varieties.

And then God made the likes of you and me. He took the face of a man, and then of a woman, in His hands, bent their faces backwards, put His mouth on theirs and blew the Breath of Life into them commanding: “LIVE you woman!” “LIVE you man!” “Live as I live. I place you over the world as my agents, my ministers, my stewards… my sons and daughters. I give you all the earth that you may return it back to me with all that you have done to make it fruitful, productive, wondrous and beautiful, filled with souls for me to love and to love me in return. Have life! Be joyful! Give life! Give happiness and joy; give your love and your life to each other and to all. Give my life within you to your children and your children’s children forever and ever. Live together in my love.”

Where is the Kingdom of God? On earth, here, as it is in heaven, in us… as it is in God. It is our human life, that sacred space in which lives the very Spirit of God, the very life of God. If that’s not true then the Incarnation, God the Son becoming man, is meaningless. The Kingdom is found where God wants to establish it, in our human relationships with each other. That is when it started; that is where it began; that is how it came into being. Jesus is tireless in pointing that out to us.

God’s Kingdom is God’s will, God’s desire for human life, where we find the quality of our human life. God’s Kingdom is the expression of His will that your life, and those who live in your life, might be filled with His joy, His love, His mercy, His justice, His truth, and His peace.

Whenever we pray the Lord’s Prayer we pray to God: “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done ON EARTH….” God’s desire and will is nothing else but that we be filled with the fullness of well-being, happy living, total life. Nothing else is God’s will. The Kingdom of God here on earth is human life, high quality human life, filled with His glory.

The reason Jesus was recognized as the Son of God was because those around Him discovered in Him the same exclusive diving purpose, namely the well-being of people. And so Jesus cried:

“Stop being deaf! That’s no good. Hear!”

“Stop being blind! That’s no good. See!”

“Stop being crippled. That’s no good. Move!”

“Stop being mute. That’s no good. Speak!”

And when He met the bleeding woman He said: “Stop bleeding. That’s no good. Give God a child!” And when He met the widow of Nain holding her only child, her dead son, in her arms…and when He encountered the dead daughter of Jairus, and when He wept at the tomb of His dead friend Lazarus, He cried out: “Come forth! Live!” God’s Word, the same Word that He shouted into the black chaos of the cosmos back at the beginning, went forth from His mouth and came back bringing life, life in its fullness, life fully healed and complete in His glory.

Jesus gave life; He restored life; He repaired life; He affirmed life. He lived life among the broken, the prostitutes, adulterers, widows, and the aged… among orphans, street people, crooks, vagrants, and the outcast. He unbound Zacchaeus, a greedy, grasping, mean man who sat on piles of ill-gotten money. And when he was freed, Zacchaeus became prodigally generous — unreasonably and insanely generous. He became just as unbelievably and irrationally generous as God.

Jesus detested injustice; He hated unfairness, He was revolted by sickness, deformity and disease; Jesus was disgusted with violence; He set His face against oppressors. And when the Prince of Darkness and Father of Lies tried to conquer Him, He stood in simple silence on the ground of His Father’s Kingdom. Even death itself could not do away with Him. Why? Because He lived for human well-being while having in His heart the same will of His Father for all human life.

Are you living in the kingdom? Do you sacrifice your own personal comfort and convenience for the well-being of those around you? Does your work give value added to the lives of those around you? Does it add to the sum total of the happiness in their lives? Do your choices, your attitudes and decisions, contribute to the well-being of others? Do you give them life, or do you drain life from them? Do you give them joy or take the joy of living away from them? Are you like Zacchaeus before he met Jesus, or are you like Zacchaeus after he started to really live following his encounter with Jesus?

For if you are a savvy businessperson you’ll invest only that that which will last, and in that which will allow others to value you. After all God’s totally personal investment was in the humanity of Jesus risen in glory as the Christ given by God in order for us to live in His life. In the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God invested His own Spirit, His own life, His Holy Spirit in your humanity and mine. In the Spirit-filled humanity of the risen Christ, God gives us the opportunity to share His very own life. That is a reality that is more real than anything this world can ever dream of offering you.

If you know how to invest, then make this investment, just as did the shrewd businessman in today’s gospel account. If you do, you’ll live a happy, quality life because you will be doing God’s will and living life of real value in His Kingdom.

Prayer Before the Reading of the Gospel from the Orthodox Divine Liturgy

The Divine Liturgy

The following eloquent commentary on the proclamation of the Gospel of Christ is from Orthodox priest Fr. Lawrence Farley’s, Let Us Attend: A Journey Through the Orthodox Divine Liturgy. May we reverence Christ's wisdom. (H/T Fr. Ted's Blog)

"When we hear the words of the Gospel, we are being entrusted with a treasure, and we must let these words bear fruit in our lives. Otherwise we will hear truth to our condemnation on the Last Day. That is why, before the Gospel is even chanted, the priest prays the Gospel prayer for all who are about to hear it:

‘Illumine our hearts, O Master and Lover of mankind, with the pure light of Your divine knowledge. Open the eyes of our mind to the understanding of Your Gospel teachings. Implant also in us the fear of Your blessed commandments, that trampling down all carnal desires, we may enter upon a spiritual manner of living, both thinking and doing such things as are well-pleasing to You.’"

July 22, 2017

Homily for the 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time, July 23, 2017, Year A

Field of wheat

Fr. Charles Irvin
Senior Priest
Diocese of Lansing


We live in a strange world, don’t we? So many people begin things with good intentions, wonderful visions, and really want to make things better, both in their own lives and in the lives of others. Marx and Lenin, the fathers of communism, really wanted to make the lives of their countrymen better. We went to war in Vietnam with good intentions. Atomic energy was supposed to make the world a better place. But, as in so many great efforts, things are likely to eventually go wrong.

The same is true in our own personal lives. People fall in love and get married with nothing but the best of intentions, with high hopes, with hearts filled with love, and with wonderful visions. Then, somewhere along the line, things turn sour.

Life is mixture of good and evil. We are imperfect people living in an imperfect world. There’s much in our nation that is both good and bad. Our governmental officials are both good and bad. There’s much in our Church that is good, and there are some bad things in it too. If we’re honest, we see that there is both good and bad in us individually and collectively. Everywhere we look we find this strange mixture of what’s right and what’s wrong.

The world of great literature and the world of great art try to help us deal with this mixture of good and evil. The famous Star Wars movie series presents good people who, for some mysterious reason, go over to the Dark Side. The authors and producers of Star Wars didn’t give us an explanation of why this happens, they gave us only the epic struggle of good trying to overcome evil. The world’s great writers, novelists and poets give us no ultimate answer to the problem of evil’s origins; the only thing they can do is help us deal with the problem.

The Bible tells us that Lucifer was one of the greatest of all God’s angels. His name, Lucifer, means “Light Bearer.” He was one of highest of God’s creatures; he bore God’s own light. And yet… for some reason he became the Prince of Darkness.

The reason? Lucifer put his will before God’s will. He refused to obey God. He opted to go his own way. He defied God. The mystery is: Why did he do that? Isn’t that the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden?

As followers of Jesus Christ, what do we do with the problem of evil? That’s the question raised in today’s readings. Answering the question is a big problem for all of us. Just what do we do when it comes to ridding ourselves and our world of evil? The Scripture passages in today’s first reading and today’s gospel account suggest that we deal with evil as God deals with it, with patience and forbearance. Evil will eventually reveal itself and evil will eventually suffer the consequences it brings down upon itself. Sin brings with it its own suffering and punishment. Don’t we see that?

There are a couple of interesting points about the parable of Jesus we just heard that I want to point out to you. One is that when He was asked where the weeds came from Jesus replied: “An enemy has done this.” He doesn’t tell us why God has enemies; He simply takes it as a fact. He is a realist, not a dreamy eyed idealist. To take a realistic view of life we simply must begin with the facts – evil exists and it comes from people who have chosen to defy God. It may not make any sense to us. We simply must take it as a fact of life. People, of their own free will, choose to defy God and do things on their own quite apart from Him. In the world of human choices, things are not as they ought to be, things are quite apart from what God intended them to be. The price of human freedom of choice is terribly costly, not only to us, but to God. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, had to pay that price.

Why, we ask, doesn’t God simply pull up all of evil’s weeds? Why doesn’t God, with fire and brimstone, simply blast evil off the face of the earth? Well, that’s a lot easier said than done. Suppose God did, what would happen? What would happen to each one of us? Aren’t we all a mixture of good and evil? Wouldn’t we still get caught up on their firestorm of evil’s destruction?

Which brings me to the second point, namely the fact that so very often what is evil appears to be good, and what is good appears to be evil. We can’t make the sorting, only God can.

In today’s parable Jesus speaks of the weeds as darnel. Now at the beginning of the growing process darnel looks just like wheat. It’s only when harvest time approaches that the difference between the two becomes apparent.

We know that to be true, don’t we, when it comes to the great enterprises we have begun. It’s only after the passage of time that we find out what’s really good and what’s really bad in our marriages. It was only after communism matured that we came to know just how evil it was. And the same principle applies in so many areas of our lives. Everything has something wrong within it. We certainly know that’s true in our own Church, in our nation, in our world, and in our own personal lives.

There are no “quick-fix” and easy solutions. Patience and forbearance are necessary, and to have patience and forbearance one must have faith. This is what Jesus is calling us to have – faith in His heavenly Father’s plan, faith in His heavenly Father’s ultimate ways of dealing with us and with our world. We have to believe in God’s goodness and believe in His love for all that is good in our world. Reliance on God and acceptance of His ways is the only way we can overcome evil both in our world and in our lives.

Isn’t that the faith Jesus had when we suffered His agony in the Garden of Gethsemani and as He hung dying on the cross? The Evil One tempted Him to despair, tempted Him to go over to the Dark Side. But Jesus remained steadfast, confident that in the end, at harvest time, His Father in heaven would harvest the good wheat and burn the darnel. Dying, Jesus handed over His fate to His Father in heaven.

Yes, it is a strange world we live in. But at the same time it is a beautiful world, a beautiful world filled with wonderful… even heroic people. The great miracle is that goodness and love have survived evil’s onslaught.

What is the vision in which you live? Do you really have faith in God your heavenly Father? Today, once again, Jesus invites you to share in His, vision, in His hope, and in His faith that in the end God will bring good out of evil. Truly Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life.

Saint Anne Novena 2017 | Day 7

St. Anne

July 23, 2017

Saint Anne Novena - Day 7

Good Saint Anne, so justly called the mother of the infirm, the cure for those who suffer from disease, look kindly upon the sick for whom I pray.

Alleviate their sufferings; cause them to sanctify their sufferings by patience and complete submission to the Divine Will; finally deign to obtain health for them and with it the firm resolution to honor Jesus, Mary, and yourself by the faithful performance of duties.

But, merciful Saint Anne, I ask you above all for the salvation of my soul, rather than bodily health, for I am convinced that this fleeting life is given us solely to assure us a better one. I cannot obtain that better life without the help of God\’s graces. I earnestly beg them of you for the sick and for myself, especially the petition for which I am making in this novena…

(State your intention here.)

Through the merits of our Lord Jesus Christ, through the intercession of His Immaculate Mother, and through your most efficacious mediation, I pray. Amen.

Pray for us, St. Anne, that we may be worthy of the promises of Christ. Amen.

O Lord, God of our Fathers, who bestowed on Saints Joachim and Anne this grace, that of them should be born the Mother of your incarnate Son, grant, through the prayers of both, that we may attain the salvation you have promised to your people. 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.

For more on this novena and daily email reminders go to PrayMoreNovenas.com

Prayer of Spouses for Each Other

Marriage

Lord Jesus, grant that I and my spouse may have a true and understanding love for each other.

Grant that we may both be filled with faith and trust. Give us the grace to live with each other in peace and harmony. May we always bear with one another’s weaknesses and grow from each other’s strengths. Help us to forgive one another’s failings and grant us patience, kindness, cheerfulness and the spirit of placing the well-being of one another ahead of self.

May the love that brought us together grow and mature with each passing year. Bring us both ever closer to You through our love for each other. Let our love grow to perfection. AMEN.

The Process of Canonization in the Catholic Church

Saint Peter's Basilica

(While many saints are canonized by the Church, most are known only to God.)

The process of documenting the life and virtues of a holy man or woman cannot begin until five years after his or her death; this insures that the person has an enduring reputation for sanctity among the faithful.

The pope may waive the waiting period.

The bishop of the diocese in which the person died can petition the Holy See to allow the initialization of a Cause for Beatification and Canonization. If there is no objection by a department of the Roman Curia, permission is communicated to that bishop.

When the cause begins, the individual is called a “Servant of God.” Testimony about the life and virtues of the person are gathered, and his or her writings are examined.

This documentary phase of the process can take years and concludes with the judgment of a diocesan tribunal and the decision of the bishop that the heroic virtues of the servant of God have or have not been demonstrated. The results, along with the documentation, are sent to the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints for scrutiny.

Once the pope has recognized the person’s heroic virtues, he or she is called “venerable.”

A miracle must then be approved, evidence of the intercessory power of the venerable servant of God and thus of his or her union after death with God. (In cases of martyrdom the miracle required for beatification can be waived.)

With the pope’s approval of a Decree of a Miracle, the servant of God can be beatified, and the Church looks for a second miracle before proceeding to canonization.

By the Rite of Canonization, the pope elevates a person to the universal veneration of the Church, declaring that the person is with God and is an example of following Christ and worthy of imitation by the faithful. (Source)

July 21, 2017

Saint Anne Novena 2017 | Day 6

St. Anne

July 22, 2017

Saint Anne Novena - Day 6

Glorious Saint Anne, mother of the Mother of God, I beg your intercession for the freedom from my sins and the assistance I need in my troubles and difficulties.

(State your intention here.)

What can I not hope for if you deign to take me under your protection? The Most High has been pleased to grant the prayers of sinners, whenever you have been charitable enough to be their advocate.

Therefore, I beg you to help me in all spiritual and temporal dangers; to guide me in the true path of Christian perfection, and finally to obtain for me the grace of a happy death, so that I may contemplate your beloved Jesus and daughter Mary in your loving companionship throughout all eternity. Amen.

Pray for us, St. Anne, that we may be worthy of the promises of Christ. Amen.

O Lord, God of our Fathers, who bestowed on Saints Joachim and Anne this grace, that of them should be born the Mother of your incarnate Son, grant, through the prayers of both, that we may attain the salvation you have promised to your people. 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.

For more on this novena and daily email reminders go to PrayMoreNovenas.com.

Pope Emeritus Benedict: The Lord Does Not Abandon His Church Even When It is ‘On the Verge of Capsizing’

Pope Benedict XVI

In a letter read at the funeral of Cardinal Joachim Meisner, archbishop emeritus of Cologne, Germany and one of four cardinals who wrote the dubia to Pope Francis last year. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI praised his late friend as a "passionate shepherd and pastor", who died at peace with God and his will for the Church.

According to CNA/EWTN News: "Benedict, who had known Meisner personally, noted that the late prelate... had found it difficult to leave his post in Cologne upon retirement, especially at a time when the Church needs persuasive priests 'who resist the dictatorship of the Zeitgeist and who live and think the faith with complete determination.'"

The Pope Emeritus continued "However, what moved me all the more was that, in this last period of his life, he learned to let go and to live out of a deep conviction that the Lord does not abandon His Church, even if the boat has taken on so much water as to be on the verge of capsizing."

"Of late, two things caused him to become ever more joyful and confident:

For one, he repeatedly related to me how it filled him with profound delight to see how young people, especially young men, experienced the grace of forgiveness in the Sacrament of Confession – the gift of having truly found that life which only God can give them.

The other thing which always touched him anew and put him in a joyful mood was the quiet spread of Eucharistic Adoration. At World Youth Day in Cologne, this was a central concern of his: that there be Adoration – a silence in which only the Lord speaks to the heart. Some experts in pastoral work and liturgy were of the opinion that such silence in contemplation of the Lord could not be achieved with such a large number of people. A few even considered Eucharistic Adoration as such to be obsolete, as the Lord desires to be received in the Eucharistic Bread, and not examined. That, however, one cannot eat this Bread like some common aliment, and that to “receive” the Lord in the Eucharistic Sacrament makes demands upon every dimension  of our existence – that to receive must be to adore – has since become once again very clear. "[Source]

The three other prelates who publicly submitted the dubia last November to Pope Francis are Cardinal Raymond Burke, Cardinal Carlo Caffarra, and Cardinal Walter Brandmüller. They wrote, "The Holy Father has decided not to respond. We have interpreted his sovereign decision as an invitation to continue the reflection and the discussion, calmly and with respect." (A spokesman for Pope Benedict states the Pope Emeritus's remarks are not meant as a condemnation of Pope Francis.)

Feast of St. Mary Magdalene, Patron of Penitents

Mary Magdalene with Christ

On July 22nd, the Catholic Church observes the Feast of Saint Mary Magdalene. Known as the patron of penitents, she could also be called the patron saint of mistaken identity. Tradition has long held she was a prostitute or an adulteress, but her actual story, according to [some] modern Catholic scripture scholars, is probably less lurid than popular belief. In fact, other than the Virgin Mary herself, Mary Magdalene is one of the most honored female saints of the New Testament.

What happened after Jesus’ crucifixion led to her being called the “Apostle to the Apostles.” In all four Gospels, Mary Magdalene is the first witness of Our Lord's Resurrection. Of all those who could have been given that great privilege, it was granted to her. Because of the male-dominated culture of first century Palestine, Scripture scholars note that no Gospel writer would have placed her in such an honored position unless the story was incontrovertibly true. (At the time, women were second class citizens and forbidden from testifying in legal proceedings.)

Western Christianity has identified her with three women in the New Testament: the sinful woman who anoints Jesus’ feet with oils and washes them with her tears; Mary of Magdala; and Mary, the sister of Lazarus and Martha of Bethany. All three women exhibit penitence, faith and humility in response to Christ.

Whatever her true identity, Mary Magdalene's life demonstrates Jesus' power to redeem, heal and transform. In Mark 16:9 it is written: "When (Christ) had risen, early on the first day of the week, (Easter morning) he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had driven seven demons." Despite the ambiguity and sins of her past life, one thing is clear. Through her personal encounter with Our Lord, Mary Magdalene was transformed from abject sinner to saint. The decree elevating her memorial to a feast day on the Church’s liturgical calendar describes her as "the paradigm of the ministry of women in the Church."

Almighty ever-living God, whose Only Begotten Son entrusted Mary Magdalene before all others with announcing the great joy of the Resurrection, grant, we pray, that through her intercession and example we may proclaim the living Christ and come to see him reigning in your glory. Who lives and reigns together with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Saint Lawrence of Brindisi on Prayer

Saint Lawrence of Brindisi
Oh, if we were to consider this reality, that God is truly present to us when we speak to him in prayer; that he truly listens to our prayers, even if we pray only with our hearts and minds. …[N]ot only is he present and hears us, indeed he willingly and with the greatest of pleasure wishes to grant our requests.
— St. Lawrence of Brindisi
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Prayer for St. Lawrence of Brindisi's Intercession

St Lawrence of Brindisi, intercede for us and teach us to love Sacred Scripture, to increase our familiarity with it, and to cultivate daily our friendship with the Lord in prayer, so that our every action, our every activity, may have its beginning and its fulfilment in him. Through Jesus Christ, your Son, Our Lord and Savior. Amen.

July 20, 2017

Saint Anne Novena 2017 | Day 5

St. Anne

July 21, 2017

Saint Anne Novena - Day 5

Great Saint Anne, how far I am from resembling you. I so easily give way to impatience and discouragement; and so easily give up praying when God does not at once answer my request. Prayer is the key to all heavenly treasures and I cannot pray, because my weak faith and lack of confidence fail me at the slightest delay. O my powerful protectress, come to my aid, listen to my petition…

(State your intention here.)

Make my confidence and fervor, supported by the promise of Jesus Christ, increase as the trial to which God in His goodness subjects me is prolonged, that I may obtain like you more than I can venture to ask for. In the future I will remember that I am made for heaven and not for earth; for eternity and not for time; that consequently I must ask, above all, the salvation of my soul which is assured to all who pray properly and who persevere in prayer. Amen.

Pray for us, St. Anne, that we may be worthy of the promises of Christ. Amen.

O Lord, God of our Fathers, who bestowed on Saints Joachim and Anne this grace, that of them should be born the Mother of your incarnate Son, grant, through the prayers of both, that we may attain the salvation you have promised to your people. 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.

For more on this novena and daily email reminders go to PrayMoreNovenas.com.

St. Lawrence of Brindisi, Priest & Doctor of the Church

Saint Lawrence of Brindisi

Optional Memorial - July 21st

His name was Giulio Cesare Russo, and he was born at Brindisi in the kingdom of Naples in 1559. Educated in Venice at the College of St. Mark, he entered the Capuchins and took the name Lawrence. Finishing his studies at the University of Padua, he showed a flair for languages, mastering Hebrew, Greek, German, Bohemian, Spanish, and French, and showed an extraordinary knowledge of the text of the Bible. He is the greatest linguist among the Doctors of the Church.

While still a deacon, St. Lawrence of Brindisi became known as an excellent preacher and after his ordination startled the whole of northern Italy with his amazing sermons. Sent into Germany by the pope to establish Capuchin houses, he became chaplain to Emperor Rudolf II and had a remarkable influence on the Christian soldiers fighting the Muslims when they were threatening Hungary in 1601. Through his efforts, the Catholic League was formed to give solidarity to the Catholic cause in Europe. Sent by the emperor to persuade Philip III of Spain to join the League, he established a Capuchin friary in Madrid. He also brought peace between Spain and the kingdom of Savoy.

His compassion for the poor, the needy, and the sick was legendary. Elected minister-general of his order in 1602, he made the Capuchins a major force in the Catholic Restoration, visiting every friary in the thirty-four provinces of the order and directing the work of nine thousand friars. He himself was a dominant figure in carrying out the work of the Council of Trent and was described by Pope Benedict XV as having, "a truly distinguished place among the most outstanding men ever raised up by Divine Providence to assist the Church in time of distress."

In 1619, he undertook a journey to see King Philip III of Spain on behalf of the oppressed people of Naples who were ruled by a tyrannical governor. Lawrence reached Lisbon where the king was residing, and it was there that his last illness overtook him. His body was carried back to Spain and buried in the church of the Poor Clares at Villafranca del Bierzo.

Lawrence was canonized by Pope Leo XIII in 1881 and declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope John XXIII in 1959. O God, who for the glory of your name and the salvation of souls bestowed on the Priest Saint Lawrence of Brindisi a spirit of counsel and fortitude, grant, we pray, that in the same spirit, we may know what must be done and, through his intercession, bring it to completion. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit.

Adapted excerpt from The One Year Book of Saints, Fr. Clifford Stevens.

July 19, 2017

Two Other Apparitions of Our Lady

Our Lady of Knock

Our Lady of Knock 

Our Lady of Knock was seen by 15 residents of Knock, a poor, small village in County Mayo, Ireland, on Aug. 21, 1879, outside of the Church of St. John the Baptist. St. Joseph and St. John the Evangelist accompanied her; there was also an altar with a lamb and cross on it. In this apparition, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to all present but remained silent. A prayer to Our Lady of Knock includes the words, “Our Lady of Knock, Queen of Ireland, you gave hope to your people in a time of distress and comforted them in sorrow.” Pray for us Our Lady.

Our Lady of La Salette

Our Lady of La Salette 

Two children, Maximin Giraud and Mélanie Calvat, reported seeing “a beautiful lady” weeping bitterly on the mountain of La Salette in the French Alps in 1846. Through the children, she gave her message of reconciliation to the world and insisted that this message be made known to all her people. She was crying, and around her neck was a crucifix, with a hammer and pincers on either side. The hammer symbolizes the sins of humanity that put the nails into the hands of Jesus; the pincers symbolize the good people do that remove the nails from Jesus’ hands. (See "Homily for the Feast of Our Lady of La Salette" for more.)