April 30, 2017

Feast of Saint Joseph the Worker

St. Joseph with Jesus

May 1st, the Church celebrates the feast of Saint Joseph the Worker. In 1955, Pope Pius XII established the feast with the hope that it would accentuate the dignity of labor. St. Joseph shows us that work when offered to God, no matter how mundane, routine or seemingly unspiritual, is of great value. Whenever people labor to support themselves and their families, they're fulfilling the same responsibilities that St. Joseph had in protecting and supporting Mary and Jesus. Our Lord said, "What so ever you do for my brothers and sisters you do for me." You are feeding and clothing Jesus when you work to provide for others' needs.

The work Joseph did as a carpenter to support his family was done for the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Your work can also be done for Jesus as an act of love for him and an offering that will be for his glory and for the coming of his Kingdom. This is part of what it means to be a good Christian, giving a fair day's labor for the wages you earn, this comes right out of Sacred Scripture. Saint Paul, writing to slaves in his letter to the Colossians says: "Slaves, obey your human masters in everything, not only when being watched, as currying favor, but in simplicity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, do from the heart, as for the Lord and not for others, knowing that you will receive from the Lord the due payment of the inheritance; be slaves of the Lord Christ." Here St. Paul is addressing anyone in family or societal relationships, i.e: wives and husbands, children and parents.

St. Joseph is the patron of the universal Church because, as Saint John Paul II explains: "Saint Joseph is a man of great spirit. He is great in faith, not because he speaks his own words, but above all because he listens to the words of the Living God. He listens in silence. And his heart ceaselessly perseveres in the readiness to accept the Truth contained in the word of the Living God," May we emulate St. Joseph in his humility, trust and openness to doing the will of God.

Prayer to St. Joseph

Almighty ever-living God, Creator of all things, who laid down for the human race the law of work, graciously grant that by the example of Saint Joseph and under his patronage and intercession, we may complete the works you set us to do and attain the rewards you promise. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever Amen.

Prayers to St. Peregrine for Cancer Patients & Others

Saint Peregrine

Afflicted with cancer, Peregrine turned to God. His faith was rewarded and he was miraculously cured, enabling him over many years to lead others to Christ. As the patron of cancer patients, his intercession is often sought by those suffering from a variety of illnesses for strength, hope and healing. His feast day is May 1st.

Prayer to St. Peregrine for Healing

O God, who gave to St. Peregrine an Angel for his companion, the Mother of God for his teacher, and Jesus as the Physician of his malady, grant we beseech You through his merits that we may on earth intensely love our Holy Angel, the blessed Virgin Mary, and our Saviour Jesus Christ. Grant that we may receive the favour of a complete recovery from our present malady for which we now pray. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

(Say 7 Our Fathers, 7 Hail Marys & 7 Glory be to the Fathers with the invocation "St. Peregrine, pray for us.")

Prayer to St. Peregrine for Oneself

St. Peregrine, whom Holy Mother Church has declared Patron of those suffering from Cancer, I confidently turn to you for help in my present sickness. I beg your kind intercession. Ask God to relieve me of this sickness, if it be his Holy Will. Plead with the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of Sorrows, whom you loved so tenderly and in union with whom you have suffered the pains of Cancer, that she may help me with her powerful prayers and loving consolation.

But if it should be God’s Holy Will that I bear this sickness, obtain for me courage and strength to accept these trails from the loving hand of God with patience and resignation, because he knows what is best for the salvation of my soul. St. Peregrine, be my friend and patron. Help me imitate you in accepting suffering, and to unite myself with Jesus Crucified and the Mother of Sorrows, as you did. I offer my pains to God with all the love of my heart, for his glory and the salvation of souls, especially my own. Amen.

Prayer to St. Peregrine for Others

O great St. Peregrine, you have been called "The Mighty," "The Wonder-Worker," because of the numerous miracles which you have obtained from God for those who have had recourse to you. For so many years you bore in your own flesh this cancerous disease that destroys the very fiber of our being, and who had recourse to the source of all grace when the power of man could do no more. You were favored with the vision of Jesus coming down from His Cross to heal your affliction. Ask of God and Our Lady, the cure of the sick whom we entrust to you. (Recite the names of those who are sick for whom you are praying.) Aided in this way by your powerful intercession, we shall sing to God, now and for all eternity, a song of gratitude for His great goodness and boundless mercy. Amen.

Homily: The 4th Sunday of Easter May 7, 2017, Year A

Jesus the Good Shepherd

Fr. Charles Irvin
Senior Priest
Diocese of Lansing

Back in Jesus’ time everyone knew about shepherds, their sheep, and how they interacted with each other. The dynamics between them were well known. Not so today. Few of us have watched shepherds tending their sheep. So to understand the full impact of the imagery that Jesus used we need to take a look at a few points.

During nights back then shepherds kept their sheep in sheepfolds that were large circles of stones that both penned in the sheep while at the same time protecting them from predatory animals such as wolves. There was a narrow opening to let the sheep in and out. At night the shepherd would spread his bedroll across the base of the opening and would sleep there. Predatory animals could enter the sheepfold only by crossing over the body of the shepherd and so of course they would not.

Additionally there were times when the sheep belonging to differing shepherds would get mixed in with each other. But that didn’t pose much of a problem because the sheep of each shepherd recognized their own shepherd’s voice and would follow only him. No need for painting colored dyes on the sheep — voice recognition was enough.

Shepherds knew of verdant grazing fields and so they would walk ahead of their sheep and lead them to pastures where the sheep would find good food. In the movement, however, sometimes a sheep or two would go off on their own and become lost. Being out on their own they would be easy kills for wolves and other predatory animals. So long as they stayed in the flock, however, they were safe. So the shepherd would leave the flock for a while and go in search of the sheep that strayed and was lost.

Now let me repeat the teaching Jesus was giving to His disciples.

Jesus said: “Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever does not enter a sheepfold through the gate but climbs over elsewhere is a thief and a robber. But whoever enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice, as the shepherd calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has driven out all his own, he walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow him, because they recognize his voice. But they will not follow a stranger; they will run away from him, because they do not recognize the voice of strangers.” Although Jesus used this figure of speech, the Pharisees did not realize what he was trying to tell them. So Jesus said again, “Amen, amen, I say to you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy; I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.”

We should ask ourselves: “Whose voice am I following?” Some of us listen to only our own inner voice. Nobody, we tell ourselves, can tell me what to do or what to believe. Others of us listen to the seductive whispers of the world. Still others pay little attention to any call other than their urges, drives, or desires. We all know that many voices call us and we need to be aware of them, where they are coming from, and where they will lead us.

Today I want to give some attention to how we can discern and listen to the voice of our Good Shepherd. How does God speak to us?

First of all, you need to expect that God can reach you. Many don’t. But how can God communicate with you if you don’t think He can? Nevertheless He is trying to!

Think of the good things that have come to you, the good things that you have experienced. Aren’t they from God? On the opposite side, if you have experienced remorse, have you ever considered that it may be God whose voice is reaching you in your remorse? Conscience, after all, literally means “to know with.” Remorse is knowing that you have done something that displeases God and that He is telling you that you can do better. Cannot the voice of penance and regret deep within us be inspired by God?

Prayer is essential. Prayer places your soul at the disposal of God. Prayer can bring us to be reflective, to contemplate, to see and hear the actions and whisperings of the Holy Spirit in our lives. When we are reflective we gain insights – we see things and we see people as God wants us to see them. Is that not God calling us, God speaking to us?

The Holy Spirit is quite capable of inspiring our imaginations and inner thoughts. If we don’t accept the Holy Spirit’s power and ability to inspire our inner thoughts and dispositions then we are saying that God cannot or will not reach us. In our silent attentiveness the gentle whisperings of the Holy Spirit can be heard deep within us.

God also speaks to us in the beauty and majesty of creation. Moments when we are filled with awe and wonder over nature’s beauty are moments when God is speaking to us. We ought not to be deaf to what God is sharing with us.

Then there is the example of good people along with their words, their attitudes, and their dispositions. These, too, are ways in which God speaks to us.

Much depends upon your basic disposition toward God. Do you really believe that God is angry with you, that He wants to inflict punishing pain and suffering upon you, or do you believe that God loves you, knows you can do better, and wants to free you from guilt and lead do to do better, even wonderful, things? Your basic dispositions control what you hear and what you do not hear. Is God really silent or are you deaf to His voice?

To be sure, each one of us has been like a wandering and lost sheep. If we’re fixated on that and feel totally lost then we will not see our Good Shepherd coming after us to carry us on His shoulders back into the fold from which we have wandered.

Do you think God cares for you? Do you think that God can reach you? If so, then you will understand what today’s Gospel is telling you. But understanding is only the beginning. What is necessary is for you to let God find you, tell you of His love for you, and then let Him carry you back to where you belong.

Prayer to Christ the Good Shepherd

Jesus the Good Shepherd

Where are you pasturing your flock, O good Shepherd, who carry the whole flock on your shoulders? (For the whole of human nature is one sheep and you have lifted it onto your shoulders). Show me the place of peace, lead me to the good grass that will nourish me, call me by name so that I, your sheep, hear your voice, and by your speech give me eternal life. Answer me, you whom my soul loves.

I give you the name ‘you whom my soul loves’ because your name is above every name and above all understanding and there is no rational nature that can utter it or comprehend it. Therefore your name, by which your goodness is known, is simply the love my soul has for you. How could I not love you, when you loved me so much, even though I was black, that you laid down your life for the sheep of your flock? A greater love cannot be imagined, than exchanging your life for my salvation.

Show me then (my soul says) where you pasture your flock, so that I can find that saving pasture too, and fill myself with the food of heaven without which no-one can come to eternal life, and run to the spring and fill myself with the drink of God. You give it, as from a spring, to those who thirst – water pouring from your side cut open by the lance, water that, to whoever drinks it, is a spring of water welling up to eternal life.

If you lead me to pasture here, you will make me lie down at noon, sleeping at peace and taking my rest in light unstained by any shade. For the noon has no shade and the sun stands far above the mountain peaks. You bring your flock to lie in this light when you bring your children to rest with you in your bed. But no-one can be judged worthy of this noonday rest who is not a child of light and a child of the day. Whoever has separated himself equally from the shadows of evening and morning, from where evil begins and evil ends, at noon he will lie down and the sun of righteousness will shine on him.

Show me, then (my soul says), how I should sleep and how I should graze, and where the path is to my noonday rest. Do not let me fall away from your flock because of ignorance, and find myself one of a flock of sheep that are not yours.

Thus my soul spoke, when she was anxious about the beauty that God’s care had given her and wanted to know how she could keep this good fortune forever.

From a commentary by Saint Gregory of Nyssa on the Song of Songs.

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”?

April 28, 2017

Blessed Francisco and Jacinta Marto to be Canonized

Blessed Francisco and Jacinta Marto

His Holiness, Pope Francis, has approved the second miracle needed to canonize Blessed Francisco and Jacinta Marto, two of the shepherd children who witnessed the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima.The canonization Mass will be celebrated on May 13th, when the pope visits Portugal in honor of the 100th anniversary of the apparitions. Blessed Francisco and Jacinta Marto are the youngest non-martyrs to be beatified in the Church's history. Below is an earlier post about their witness.

Between May 13, and October 13, 1917, three children, Portuguese shepherds from Aljustrel, received apparitions of Our Lady at Cova da Iria, near Fatima, a city 110 miles north of Lisbon. At that time, Europe was involved in an extremely bloody war. Portugal itself was enduring political turmoil, having overthrown its monarchy in 1910; the government disbanded religious organizations soon after.

At the first appearance, Mary asked the children to return to that spot on the thirteenth of each month for the next six months. She also asked them to learn to read and write and to pray the rosary “to obtain peace for the world and the end of the war.” They were to pray for sinners and for the conversion of Russia, which had recently overthrown Czar Nicholas II and was soon to fall under communism. 90,000 people gathered for the final apparition, October 13, 1917.

Less than two years later, Francisco died of influenza in his family home. He was buried in the parish cemetery and then re-buried in the Fatima basilica in 1952. Jacinta died of influenza in Lisbon, offering her suffering for the conversion of sinners, peace in the world and the Holy Father. She was re-buried in the Fatima basilica in 1951. Their cousin, Lucia dos Santos, became a Carmelite nun and was still living when Jacinta and Francisco were beatified in 2000. Sr. Lucia died in 2005. The shrine of Our Lady of Fatima is visited by 20 million people a year.

O God who granted these two shepherd children the grace to become little burning bushes on fire with love for the Holy Father and for sinners, and burning with love for Our Lady and the “hidden” Jesus, grant that we, too, may be like Francisco and Jacinta, so that we, too, may burn with the same love and, with them, all meet together again in Heaven around Our Lady in adoration of the Blessed Trinity. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son. Amen.

Adapted from Saint of the Day: Lives, Lessons and Feasts, Leonard Foley, O.F.M.

St. Catherine of Siena, Virgin and Doctor of the Church

Saint Catherine of Siena

April 29th, is the memorial of Saint Catherine of Siena (1347 – 1380), the 14th century virgin, visionary and Doctor of the Church. Catherine di Benincasa was born the twenty-fifth child of Giacomo and Lapa di Benincasa in Siena, Italy. At the age of 6, she began to experience mystical visions including seeing angels. She consecrated her virginity to Christ when she was just 7 years old. Catherine defied her family’s plans to give her away in marriage by cutting her hair short and repulsing her future husband. Catherine's mother would eventually relent. With her family’s blessing, she became a Dominican tertiary at 16, where her visions of Christ, Our Lady and the saints continued. Two years later, she would join the Dominican third order, spending her days in seclusion and prayer.

By the time Catherine was 23, Christ answered her prayer to take her heart and give her His own. The Lord Jesus appeared to her holding in his hands a human heart, bright red and shining. He opened her side and put the heart within her saying: "Dearest daughter, as I took your heart away from you the other day, now, you see, I am giving you mine, so that you can go on living with it for ever." In addition, Christ gave Catherine a wedding ring, visible to her alone, as a sign of her mystical marriage to Christ and her profound union with the Lord.

Click here to read St Catherine of Siena’s seminal spiritual work The Dialogue.

Catherine's short life was marked by rigid and austere mortifications. For a brief period, she wore a hair shirt but couldn't keep it clean. She replaced the shirt with a heavy, painful, chain she wore around her waist. She usually slept for one hour each night, and would often starved herself except for the reception of Holy Communion. She did this in reparation for her sins and in order to master her bodily appetites and passions. She offered these sufferings on behalf of others.

Fr. Pius Parsch summarizes St. Catherine's remarkable contributions in service to the Church: "The reputation of her sanctity soon spread abroad; thousands came to see her, to be converted by her. The priests associated with her, having received extraordinary faculties of absolution, were unable to accommodate the crowds of penitents. She was a helper and a consoler in every need. As time went on, her influence reached out to secular and ecclesiastical matters. She made peace between worldly princes. The heads of Church and State bowed to her words. She weaned Italy away from an anti-pope, and made cardinals and princes promise allegiance to the rightful pontiff. She journeyed to Avignon and persuaded Pope Gregory XI to return to Rome. Even though she barely reached the age of thirty-three her accomplishments place her among the great women of the Middle Ages." (The Church's Year of Grace, Fr. Pius Parsch, C.R.S..A.)

Exhausted by her mortifications and negotiations St. Catherine died in Rome on April 29, 1380. Pope Pius II, canonized St Catherine on 29 June 1461. She was declared a co-patroness of Rome on April 13, 1866 by Pope Pius IX. Pope Pius XII named her co-patron of Italy, together with Saint Francis of Assisi, in 1939. She was named a Doctor of the Church by Pope Paul VI along with Saint Teresa of Ávila, in 1970. Saint John Paul II named her one of Europe's co-patronesses along with Saint Teresa Benedicta, and Saint Bridget of Sweden on October 1, 1999. Almighty ever-living God, who set Saint Catherine of Siena on fire with divine love in her contemplation of the Lord's Passion and her service or your Church, grant, through her intercession, that your people, participating in the mystery of Christ, may ever exult in the revelation of his glory. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, on God, for ever and ever.

Saint Louis de Montfort — His Wisdom in 20 Quotations

Saint Louis-Marie de Montfort

Saint Louis-Marie de Montfort is revered for his intense devotion to the Blessed Virgin and to praying the Rosary. His love of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament and for the poor is unsurpassed. The quotations below illustrate his profound wisdom and deep insights into the Divine Will of God and the workings of God's Church.

If we do not risk anything for God we will never do anything great for Him.
Take advantage of little sufferings even more than of great ones. God considers not so much what we suffer as how we suffer. . . Turn everything to profit as the grocer does in his shop.
When the Holy Rosary is said well, it gives Jesus and Mary more glory and is more meritorious than any other prayer.
If you put all the love of all the mothers into one heart it still would not equal the love of the Heart of Mary for her children.
Pray with great confidence, with confidence based on the goodness and infinite generosity of God and upon the promises of Jesus Christ. God is a spring of living water which flows unceasingly into the hearts of those who pray.
All true children of God have God for their father and Mary for their mother; anyone who does not have Mary for his mother, does not have God for his father.
She [Mother Mary] is an echo of God, speaking and repeating only God. If you say "Mary" she says 'God'.
Mary is the fruitful Virgin, and in all the souls in which she comes to dwell she causes to flourish purity of heart and body, rightness of intention and abundance of good works. Do not imagine that Mary, the most fruitful of creatures who gave birth to a God, remains barren in a faithful soul. It will be she who makes the soul live incessantly for Jesus Christ, and will make Jesus live in the soul.
Mary alone gives to the unfortunate children of unfaithful Eve entry into that earthly paradise where they may walk pleasantly with God and be safely hidden from their enemies. There they can feed without fear of death on the delicious fruit of the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. They can drink copiously the heavenly waters of that beauteous fountain which gushes forth in such abundance.
The cross is the greatest gift God could bestow on His Elect on earth. There is nothing so necessary, so beneficial, so sweet, or so glorious as to suffer something for Jesus. If you suffer as you ought, the cross will become a precious yoke that Jesus will carry with you.
We fasten our souls to Your hope, as to an abiding anchor. It is to Her that the saints who have saved themselves have been the most attached and have done their best to attach others, in order to persevere in virtue. Happy, then, a thousand times happy, are the Christians who are now fastened faithfully and entirely to Her, as to a firm anchor!
How different are theirs from ours! Their roses are pleasures of the flesh, worldly honours and passing riches which wilt and decay in no time, but ours, which are the Our Father and Hail Mary which we have said devoutly over and over again, and to which we have added good penitential acts, will never wilt or die, and they will be just as exquisite thousands of years from now as they are today.
You must expect then to be shaped, cut and chiseled under the hammer of the Cross, otherwise you would remain unpolished stone, of no value at all, to be disregarded and cast aside. Do not cause the hammer to recoil when it strikes you. Yield to the chisel that is carving you and the hand that is shaping you.
We never give more honour to Jesus than when we honour his Mother, and we honour her simply and solely to honour him all the more perfectly. We go to her only as a way leading to the goal we seek — Jesus, her Son.
Mary has the authority over the angels and the blessed in heaven. As a reward for her great humility, God gave her the power and mission of assigning to saints the thrones made vacant by the apostate angels who fell away through pride. Such is the will of the almighty God who exalts the humble, that the powers of heaven, earth and hell, willingly or unwillingly, must obey the commands of the humble Virgin Mary.
The greatest saints, those richest in grace and virtue will be the most assiduous in praying to the most Blessed Virgin, looking up to her as the perfect model to imitate and as a powerful helper to assist them.
If you say the Rosary faithfully unto death, I do assure you that, in spite of the gravity of your sins, you will receive a never-fading crown of glory.
We must conclude that, being necessary to God by a necessity which is called 'hypothetical', (that is, because God so willed it), the Blessed Virgin is all the more necessary for men to attain their final end. Consequently we must not place devotion to her on the same level as devotion to the other saints as if it were merely something optional.
According to St. Bonaventure, all the angels in heaven unceasingly call out to her: 'Holy, holy, holy Mary, Virgin Mother of God.' They greet her countless times each day with the angelic greeting, 'Hail, Mary', while prostrating themselves before her, begging her as a favour to honour them with one of her requests. According to St. Augustine, even St. Michael, though prince of all the heavenly court, is the most eager of all the angels to honour her and lead others to honour her. At all times he awaits the privilege of going at her word to the aid of one of her servants.
Even if you are on the brink of damnation, even if you have one foot in hell, even if you have sold your soul to the devil as sorcerers do who practice black magic, and even if you are a heretic as obstinate as a devil, sooner or later you will be converted and will amend your life and will save your soul, if-and mark well what I say-if you say the Holy Rosary devoutly every day until death for the purpose of knowing the truth and obtaining contrition and pardon for your sins.

St. Louis-Marie de Montfort, pray that we grow close to Christ through Mary.

April 27, 2017

Optional Memorial of Saint Louis-Marie De Montfort

Saint Louis-Marie De Montfort

April 28th, is the optional memorial of Saint Louis-Marie Grignion De Montfort (1673 – 1716). De Montfort's life is inseparable from his prodigious efforts to promote genuine devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of Jesus and the Mother of the Church. "Totus tuus" (completely yours) was De Montfort's personal motto; Karol Wojtyla chose it as his episcopal motto. Born in the Breton village of Montfort, close to Rennes (France), as an adult Louis identified himself by the place of his baptism instead of his family name, Grignion. Educated by both the Jesuits and the Sulpicians, he was ordained a diocesan priest in 1700.

Soon he began preaching parish missions throughout western France. His years of ministering to the poor prompted him to travel and live simply, sometimes getting him into trouble with church authorities. In his preaching, which attracted thousands of people back to the faith, Father Louis recommended frequent, even daily, Holy Communion (not customary for that time) and imitation of the Virgin Mary's acceptance of God's will. He also greatly extolled praying the holy Rosary.

De Montfort founded the Missionaries of the Company of Mary (for priests and brothers) and the Daughters of Wisdom, who cared especially for the sick. His book True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin, is a classic volume of Marian devotion. This and his work, The Secret of Mary, have been translated and read worldwide.

Saint Louis-Marie De Montfort, died in Saint-Laurent-sur-Sevre, where a basilica has been erected in his honor. He was canonized by Pope Pius XII on July 20, 1947. A founders statue by Giacomo Parisini is located in an upper niche of the south nave of Saint Peter's Basilica. Almighty God, who willed to direct the steps of the Priest Saint Louis De Montfort along the way of salvation and of the love of Christ, in the company of the Blessed Virgin, grant us, by his intercession that, meditating on the mysteries of your love, we may strive tirelessly for the building up of your most holy Church. 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.

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

Saint Peter Chanel, Priest and Martyr

Saint Peter Chanel

April 28th, is the optional memorial of Saint Peter Chanel (1802 – 1841), the 19th century priest, missionary and martyr. Sometimes, we are called to be the planters of seeds that someone else will harvest. That was precisely the vocation entrusted to St. Peter Chanel, whose tireless work in the region of Oceania in the mid-19th century would end up bearing the most fruit after his martyrdom.

Peter Chanel was born near Cuet in the area of Belley, France, in 1802. Ordained in 1827, he was first sent to work in a parish which had the reputation of being a challenging place in a “bad” district. Despite the difficulties he faced, the young priest won over his new parishioners by his devotion to caring for their sick.

But what Peter Chanel really wanted to be was a missionary, and to that end he joined a new religious society in 1831—the Society of Mary, which would later come to be known as the Marists. Although eager to depart for mission territory, Chanel was at first assigned to teach in the society’s seminary, a post that he filled with great competence. When the Society of Mary was finally granted formal approval by Pope Gregory XVI in April 1836, Chanel was appointed superior of a band of missionaries sent to the South Pacific, and the region known as Oceania.

After a grueling 10-month voyage, Chanel and the others arrived at the island that the natives called Futuna, the first Christian missionaries ever to do so. The conditions that they encountered there bordered on the savage: tribal wars and cannibalism had severely reduced the numbers of inhabitants and, although the eating of human flesh had recently been done away with, the people were still dominated by a religion of terror centered on the worship of evil deities.

Chanel persevered under very harsh conditions, struggling to learn the language of the people and winning them over the same way he had done as a younger priest in his first parish. His devotion to and care of the sick soon earned him the name “the man with the kind heart.” The king, Niuliki, treated the missionary well, at first, even declaring his person “taboo,” meaning sacred and inviolable.

But as Chanel’s influence with the people increased, Niuliki’s jealousy of him did as well. Chanel now knew enough of the language to preach to the people directly, and as more natives gravitated to the white man’s religion, Niuliki felt his own power as high priest of the old religion slipping away. When his own son, Meitala, announced that he was also joining Chanel, it was the last straw for the chief. In a move reminiscent of Thomas Becket and King Henry II in England, King Niuliki approached his brother-in-law, Musumusu, and instructed him to “do whatever is necessary” to stop the ministry of the Catholic priest.

Musumusu, who harbored no love for this new religion, went to Chanel under the pretense that he needed medical help. Once in his hut, Musumusu clubbed Chanel to death, splitting his skull with an axe. Chanel was martyred on April 28, 1841. O God, who for the spreading of your Church crowned Saint Peter Chanel with martyrdom, grant that, in these days of paschal joy, we may so celebrate the mysteries of Christ's Death and Resurrection as to bear worthy witness to newness of life. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

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.

Urgent Intention - Priestly Vocations 

Led by the Spirit for Mission - May he give us priests enamored of the Gospel, close to all their brothers and sisters, living signs of God’s merciful love.

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.

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.