Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Wednesday morning General Audience with Pope Francis

Pope at General Audience: Lord Doesn’t Weigh 99-1 Ratio of Sheep. He Seeks
Reminds Faithful in St. Peter’s Square That God Seeks Us Until Last Moment
L'Osservatore Romano - PHOTO.VA
If I still have 99 of my sheep, but one has wandered off, what does it matter? Well, to the Good Shepherd, it matters a lot.
Pope Francis explained this during his weekly General Audience this morning in St. Peter’s Square, as he continued his catechesis for the Holy Year of Mercy, turning to Jesus’ parable of the Good Shepherd.
The Pope recalled how the Lord uses the image of the shepherd who leaves His flock to go in search of one lost sheep to express God’s closeness to sinners, and underscored that God does not want even one single person to be lost.
“The Lord, in His infinite mercy,” the Argentine Pope said, “is always ready to meet us wherever we are.” He also wants us to follow his example, Francis added, by seeking those who need God’s mercy and have gone astray.
God Doesn’t Weigh the Matter
“He could reason in this way,” Francis said, “’I weigh the matter: I have ninety-nine, I have lost one, but it is no great loss. Instead, He goes to seek it because each one is very important for him, and that one is the neediest, the most abandoned, the most discarded, and He goes to find it.”
God acts toward sinners with mercy, Francis highlighted, and He is absolutely faithful to this mercy.
“Nothing and no one will be able to deter Him from His will of salvation,” he said.
God, the Pope pointed out, does not know our present disposable culture, saying, “God has nothing to do with this.”
“God does not discard any person. God loves all, He seeks everyone, one by one! He does not know the word “discard the people,” because He is all love and all mercy.”
While He looks for the lost sheep, He incites the ninety-nine to participate in the reunification of the flock. Then, not only the sheep carried on the shoulders but the whole flock will follow the shepherd to his home, to celebrate with “friends and neighbors.”
Don’t Stink
We must reflect often on this parable because there is always someone in the Christian community who is missing and has gone away and left his place empty. Sometimes this is discouraging and leads us to believe that it is an inevitable loss, a sickness without remedy.
It is then that we run the danger of shutting ourselves in a sheepfold, where there will not be the smell of the sheep but the stink of the closed! And Christians… We must not be closed, because we will have the stink of closed things. Never!”
The Holy Father urged all Christians to go out and not be closed in themselves, within their small communities or parishes, considering themselves “the just.” This happens, the Pope lamented, when the missionary impetus which leads us to meet others is lacking.
No Definitively Lost Sheep
However, Francis explained, in Jesus’ vision, there are no “definitively lost” sheep, but only sheep to be found again.
“We must understand this well: no one, for God, is definitively lost. Never! God seeks us up to the last moment. Think of the good thief; but only in Jesus’ vision no one is definitively lost.”
“No distance,” the Pope said, “can keep the shepherd far away, and no flock can renounce a brother. To find one who is lost is the joy of the shepherd and of God, but it is also the joy of the whole flock!”
Pope Francis concluded, reminding the pilgrims that we are all sheep, that have been found again and gathered by the Lord’s mercy, and are “called to gather the whole flock together with Him.”
On ZENIT’s Web page:
Full Translation:

Big time blogger blues

This Wednesday morning dawns with blogger problems for the abitadeacon!

Each new day begins overnight and traditionally results in about 100 to 150 reads by 6 AM.  Every now and then there may be a few less reads than  100 but never just 46.  That's what I woke up to today.

As you visit today please take the time to read a few articles from my blog log or a ny of my many blog categories. 

I also have a chronological listing of blog posts so sometimes it's fun to see what was a hot topic from this time 1, 2, even 5 years ago!

Thanks for reading abitadeacon!

Now what? What should a faithful Catholic do?

So here we sit on this Wednesday morning with two flawed candidates, assuming of course it will be Clinton vs. Trump.  One candidate is almost enthusiastic in support of killing babies, right up to delivery, any reason, any time.  She is a hero to evil machinery of Planned Parenthood.  She also is very favorable to anything proposed by the far extreme wings of the radical LGBT lobby.  These things alone should give pause to any faithful Catholic to never support Clinton.  The other candidate is problematic too; strongly adhering to liberal exceptions for abortion while proclaiming more than once that Planned Parenthood does some things that are good.  He too seemed to express support for the anyone use any bathroom they want scenario.  So what in the world is a faithful Catholic to do?

One of the more vocal Bishops in America about all things voting is Bishop Tobin of  Rhode Island.  Given this same scenario a few years ago in his states gubernatorial election, and following the guidance of USCCB policy has declared the following:

Given the choice like we face now, faithful Catholics have the right to:
Not vote
Write in vote
Vote for the lesser of two evils.

Not without controversy, the latter is presented as a viable option.  This will take some discernment and force faithful Catholics to do plenty of due diligence.  Not to mention we have not even addressed the many other policy issues that both candidates fail when compared to authentic Catholic teaching, like immigration, preferential option for the poor, and any other of a myriad of issues.

Here is an article by Bishop Tobin and other info to ponder:

Day 88 with the Baltimore Catechism

How does a baptized person separate himself from full incorporation in the Mystical Body? A baptized person separates himself from full incorporation in the Mystical Body by open and deliberate heresy, apostasy or schism.

How does a baptized person separate himself from full incorporation in the Mystical Body by heresy? A baptized person separates himself from full incorporation in the Mystical Body by heresy when he openly rejects or doubts some doctrine proposed by the Catholic Church as a truth of divine-Catholic faith, though still professing himself a Christian.

Further reading: CCC 790-791

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Bishop, Doctor of the Church, Saint

St. Isidore of Seville

Image of St. Isidore of Seville


Feastday: April 4
Death: 636

Isidore was literally born into a family of saints in sixth century Spain. Two of his brothers, Leander and Fulgentius, and one of his sisters, Florentina, are revered as saints in Spain. It was also a family of leaders and strong minds with Leander and Fulgentius serving as bishops and Florentina as abbess.
This didn't make life easier for Isidore. To the contrary, Leander may have been holy in many ways, but his treatment of his little brother shocked many even at the time. Leander, who was much older than Isidore, took over Isidore's education and his pedagogical theory involved force and punishment. We know from Isidore's later accomplishments that he was intelligent and hard-working so it is hard to understand why Leander thought abuse would work instead of patience.
One day, the young boy couldn't take any more. Frustrated by his inability to learn as fast as his brother wanted and hurt by his brother's treatment, Isidore ran away. But though he could escape his brother's hand and words, he couldn't escape his own feeling of failure and rejection. When he finally let the outside world catch his attention, he noticed water dripping on the rock near where he sat. The drops of water that fell repeatedly carried no force and seemed to have no effect on the solid stone. And yet he saw that over time, the water drops had worn holes in the rock.
Isidore realized that if he kept working at his studies, his seemingly small efforts would eventually pay off in great learning. He also may have hoped that his efforts would also wear down the rock of his brother's heart.
When he returned home, however, his brother in exasperation confined him to a cell (probably in a monastery) to complete his studies, not believing that he wouldn't run away again.
Either there must have been a loving side to this relationship or Isidore was remarkably forgiving even for a saint, because later he would work side by side with his brother and after Leander's death, Isidore would complete many of the projects he began including a missal and breviary.
In a time where it's fashionable to blame the past for our present and future problems, Isidore was able to separate the abusive way he was taught from the joy of learning. He didn't run from learning after he left his brother but embraced education and made it his life's work. Isidore rose above his past to become known as the greatest teacher in Spain.
His love of learning made him promote the establishment of a seminary in every diocese of Spain. He didn't limit his own studies and didn't want others to as well. In a unique move, he made sure that all branches of knowledge including the arts and medicine were taught in the seminaries.
His encyclopedia of knowledge, the Etymologies, was a popular textbook for nine centuries. He also wrote books on grammar, astronomy, geography, history, and biography as well as theology. When the Arabs brought study of Aristotle back to Europe, this was nothing new to Spain because Isidore's open mind had already reintroduced the philosopher to students there.
As bishop of Seville for 37 years, succeeding Leander, he set a model for representative government in Europe. Under his direction, and perhaps remembering the tyrannies of his brother, he rejected autocratic decision- making and organized synods to discuss government of the Spanish Church.
Still trying to wear away rock with water, he helped convert the barbarian Visigoths from Arianism to Christianity.
He lived until almost 80. As he was dying his house was filled with crowds of poor he was giving aid and alms to. One of his last acts was to give all his possessions to the poor.
When he died in 636, this Doctor of the Church had done more than his brother had ever hoped; the light of his learning caught fire in Spanish minds and held back the Dark Ages of barbarism from Spain. But even greater than his outstanding mind must have been the genius of his heart that allowed him to see beyond rejection and discouragement to joy and possibility.

The violent life that is New Orleans

Don't just read this statement; click on the link and watch the video from New Orleans TV station Channel 4.

This is everyday life in a huge part of New Orleans; a city trapped in a culture of murder, violence and racism.

Then pray for New Orleans:


Statement from WWL-TV News Director on 'Taking a Stand' story

Rarely has a news story generated the kind of reaction WWL-TV has seen since the airing of Eric Paulsen’s Taking a Stand piece last night on street violence.

Watch the report from Eric Paulsen
Tens of thousands of people have seen it all over the country and the comments have varied from those shocked at the video, those applauding us for showing how quickly a disagreement can escalate to violence, and those who criticized us for what some called a cheap ratings ploy.
My name is Keith Esparros and I’m the News Director here at WWL-TV.   I can assure you this was no ratings ploy.  Violence is not anything we take lightly, or see as entertainment.  The story takes viewers to a part of the city that many never see.  Most of the time, we don’t want to see it.  It’s ugly. It’s brutal.  It’s scary.  But we wanted to show it’s real, and it’s a problem not only for those who live among the violence.   It’s everyone’s problem.   Because when our neighbors are not safe, none of us is.  If the city isn’t safe, it will hurt all of us.   We must see the violence to know how to combat it.  We must acknowledge it before we can attempt to reduce it.
The violence issue is key to our future. It’s one of the reasons WWL-TV has launched its Taking a Stand Initiative.  We feel it’s crucial to understand the causes and effects of violence, to look at those who are making a difference, and to try to change the conversation on an issue that will help determine the direction of our region.
GNO Inc. Board Chairwoman Maura Donahue said,   “Companies do not want to bring their employees to this area to open, to expand or to relocate, unless they can ensure their employees a safe place for themselves and their families.”
And without new business, new entrepreneurship, new opportunities for all New Orleanians, the wheel of violence will turn undisturbed.   Our video showed a bloody, brutal, and near fatal beating in the 8th Ward of one of America’s greatest cities.   But this isn’t just a fight between two men.   This is a fight for our future.

Tuesday Homily of Pope Francis

Pope’s Morning Homily: Don’t Be a Mummy Christian or a Vagabond Christian
At Casa Santa Marta, recalls that only Jesus is the Way
Pope Francis today recalled that to be a Christian, there is only one path to follow: Jesus, who says of himself, “I am the way.”
The Pope said this today during morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta, reported Vatican Radio.
In contrast to those who follow Jesus as the Way, the Pope warned against being either a “mummy” Christian of a “vagabond” Christian.


“Christians who stay still, who don’t go forward, are non-Christian Christians. We don’t know exactly what they are. They are slightly ‘paganized’ Christians: who are there, who stay still and don’t go forward in their Christian lives, who don’t make the Beatitudes bloom in their lives, who don’t do Works of mercy… they are motionless. Excuse me for saying it, but they are like an (embalmed) mummy, a spiritual mummy there. There are Christians who are ‘spiritual mummies,’ motionless, there.  They don’t do evil but they don’t do good things.”


“They are wanderers in the Christian life, vagabonds.  During their life they turn here and there and thus lose the beauty of drawing close to Jesus in Jesus’ life.  They lose their way because they are constantly turning and often this turning is wrong and takes them to a dead end. Turning so many times, (the road) becomes a labyrinth and then they don’t know how to get out. They have lost that call from Jesus. They don’t have a compass to get out and they keep on turning and searching. There are other Christians who whilst journeying are seduced by the beauty of an object and they stop half way, fascinated by what they see, by some idea,  a proposal or a landscape. And they stop! Christian life is not a fascination: it’s the truth!  It’s Jesus Christ!”

The Pope then advised that we should each examine what kind of Christian we are:

Are we standing in front of the things that we like such as worldliness and vanity or are we journeying forward and “putting into practice the beatitudes and Works of mercy” in our daily life. He concluded by saying that Jesus’ way “is full of consolations, glory and also the Cross. But always with peace in our souls.”
“We remain here today with that question: let’s do it for just five minutes…  How am I doing on this Christian journey?  Am I standing still, making mistakes,  turning here and there, stopping in front of the things that I like, or (am I following) Jesus ‘I who am the Way.’?  And let us implore the Holy Spirit to teach us to journey along the right road, always!  And when we get tired, a little rest and then we go forward again. Let us ask for this grace.”

Day 87 with the Baltimore Catechism


Why is the Catholic Church called the Mystical Body of Christ? The Catholic Church is called the Mystical Body of Christ because its members are united by supernatural bonds with one another and with Christ, their Head, thus resembling the members and head of the living human body.

Again, he is the head of his body, the Church. (Colossians 1:18)

What conditions are necessary in order that a person be a member of the Mystical Body in the full sense? In order that a person be a member of the Mystical Body in the full sense, it is necessary that he be baptized, that he profess the Catholic faith, and that he neither separate himself from the Mystical Body nor be excluded by lawful authority.

And if he refuses to hear them, appeal to the Church, but if he refuses to hear even the Church, let him be to thee as the heathen and the publican. (Matthew 18:17)

Further reading: CCC 787-789

Monday, May 2, 2016

May the month of Mary but what's the deal with bringing flowers to her image

Pope Francis Always Brings Mary Flowers, but Why?

In every church he entered, he paid a tribute to the Blessed Virgin Mary

Pope Francis holds flowers at the basilica of Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre -patron saint of Cuba- in El Cobre, Santiago de Cuba on September 21, 2015. Santiago, the last stop on Pope Francis's Cuban tour, is known for its revolutionary history, its rum and the troubadours who have infused the Caribbean island's music with their tropical beats.  AFP PHOTO / FILIPPO MONTEFORTE
You may have noticed that during his visit to the United States, whenever Pope Francis set foot in a church — before he did anything else — he carried a bouquet or vase of flowers to a side chapel devoted to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
His entourage of cardinals would cool their heels on the other side of the chapel’s altar rail while the Holy Father placed flowers before the sacred image or statue and silently contemplated her image.
He did this again and again, in every church he entered.
Even after his 9-day trip, and a long overnight flight back to Rome, when all of the journalists aboard his plane were eager to rush home or to their hotel rooms , Pope Francis went straight to the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore to thank Mary for his trip with a bouquet of flowers.
As a convert to the faith, this puzzled me. I wasn’t brought up attending annual “Queen of May” crownings, which always seemed quite foreign to me and something, perhaps, intended for children. While I understood the importance of venerating Mary, I struggled with the concept of giving material gifts to an artistic representation of her.
So, on Sunday morning, on Pope’s last day in the United States, after Mass in my neighborhood church in Washington, D.C., I decided to pay Mary a visit. I’d previously noticed older women, mostly Filipinas, do it, so I knew where to go. I knelt down before the statue of Mary holding the child Jesus and peered up at her. Expecting to see nothing but cold white Plaster of Paris, I was startled to see that she was looking right at me, with a motherly, caring expression and with her free hand open as if in invitation.
Of course! These images created by artists are meant to startle us, and stir our imagination so that we can properly contemplate Mary as our mother. I can be exceedingly dense – the great museums of the world are filled with just such guides to prayer. That’s what they were created for – not just to make us feel cultured. They remind us that She is our mother, and Jesus’ mother, and the right response is reverence. What a good son Pope Francis is to bring her flowers.
I decided to talk to some other good children and find out what moves them to give Mary flowers.
Margaret Rose Realy, a Benedictine Oblate and author of A Garden of Visible Prayer told me that she offers flowers to Mary in gratitude:
“My flowers to Mary are in gratitude for her role that began my (our) salvation. They are also given in gratitude for the smaller compassions of a mother — something I am not and something that lacked in my childhood,” she said.
“She mothers with little lessons. My pleadings to understand bring her grace, and she wraps me in the arms of love and kisses my forehead gently with hope and encouragement,” she added.
And why give flowers? “We hold out our symbol of gratitude, flowers from God’s gift of nature, and in our hearts respond love for love full circle. Sometimes I need the tactile and visual to connect with what is beyond my humanness, beyond our world. To offer an earthly gift that is beyond words and prayer. A child’s expression of gratefulness for a good mom, who wants only what’s best for our souls.”
She too was struck by the Pope’s reverence. “When I see Francis doing this in churches and shrines around the world, I think he is honoring his mother wherever he goes!”
Blogger Joanne McPortland of Egregious Twaddle (says she puts flowers before Mary at home, “Because she’s Mom. Because I grew up with May crownings and never had flowers to bring, so I do it now.”
Pat Gohn, author of Blessed, Beautiful and Bodacious: Celebrating the Gift of Catholic Womanhood, told me that she has a statue of Mary in her home that she brought back from a pilgrimage to Fatima.
“Often when I buy flowers for our home, I place a simple bud vase before our statue of Mary as a thank you for her many intercessions for me and loved ones. It is also a little gesture or token of my affection for her. When I see flowers before her image, I’m reminded of her love for me and that love brings much beauty and hope to my life,” she said.
The gift of flowers reminds her of Mary’s motherhood, she said, “I remember when my own children were little they would bring me handfuls of dandelions or daffodils that grew in our yard. I always received these gestures of love with admiration and smiles toward the heart of my children. I’m still Mary’s child and like St. John, I try to make a home for her in my home. (See Jn 19:27) This physical reminder — the statue and the flowers in my home — are symbolic of the spiritual reality of my relationship with Mary.”
The homilies and addresses Pope Francis gave while in the U.S., provide a wealth of material for further reflection and inspiration. In the same way, the example of his simple and frequent homage to Mary, our Mother, leaves me much richer than I was a week ago.
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