Sunday, November 30, 2014

A moment of clarity, compassion and peace in a violent situation

Photo of Cop Hugging Boy at Ferguson Protest Tells Poignant Story

ABC News
Photo of Cop Hugging Boy at Ferguson Protest Tells Poignant Story
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Photo of Cop Hugging Boy at Ferguson Protest Tells Poignant Story (ABC News)
Sometimes, all you really need is a good hug.


Amid the nationwide protests over the failure of a grand jury to indict a white police officer for shooting an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Mo., freelance photographer Johnny Nguyen snapped the picture above during a demonsration in Portland, Ore., on Nov. 25.
"I came upon this boy who had tears in his eyes and I knew this was the place to be, so I followed him in the crowd," Nguyen said. "Then he came upon the police officer. They talked and he gave him a hug."
Devonte Hart, 12, was at the demonstration holding a sign that said "free hugs" when Portland Police Sgt. Bret Barnum noticed him, motioned the boy over and the two began talking.
Nguyen said that Barnum pointed to the sign and asked "Do I get one of those?" and they hugged.
Nguyen's Instagram account has more photos from the protests.
Seven people were arrested during the protest on Portland on Nov. 25, and parts of several highways were closed when pedestrians entered the roadways, according to police reports.

What English Royalty did to Catholics for generations

St. Edmund Campion

Image of St. Edmund Campion


Feastday: December 1
Birth: 1540
Death: 1581

When in 1566 England�s Queen Elizabeth I visited Oxford University, she was very impressed by a twenty six-year-old Protestant scholar chosen to greet her with a salutary speech, Edmund Campion. But soon, the study of the Church Fathers� works would lead the young man to begin questioning his Protestant beliefs. Journeying to Douai, France in 1572, Edmund converted to the Catholic faith and began studying for the priesthood. A year later he entered the Jesuit Order in Rome. As a novice, he experienced in a garden a vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary foretelling his martyrdom in England. In 1580, three years after his ordination, Father Campion returned to England. He preached one to three times a day, mentally preparing his homilies while traveling on horseback across the English countryside, winning many converts. In July of 1581, Father Campion was captured by the Elizabethan authorities. He suffered torture on a rack before being sentenced to death in November. On December 1, 1581, he was executed by drawing and quartering at Tyburn, London.

Pope Francis prayer intentions for the month of December

In December, please add the Pope's two intentions to your daily prayer requests:

Christmas, hope for humanity:  That the birth of the Redeemer may bring peace and hope to all people of good will.

Parents:  That parents may be true evangelizers, passing on to their children the precious gift of faith.


Pope Francis says what the media wil never say and most of the secular world for that matter

Muslims must speak out against terrorism, violence, Pope insists
Pope Francis prays with journalists on the papal flight en route to South Korea, August 14, 2014. Credit: Alan Holdren/CNA.
Pope Francis prays with journalists on the papal flight en route to South Korea, August 14, 2014. Credit: Alan Holdren/CNA.
.- On his in-flight press conference returning from a three-day trip to Turkey, Pope Francis said that Muslim leaders around the world must speak out against violence and terrorism carried out in the name of Islam.

“I believe sincerely that it can’t be said that all Muslims are terrorists. You can’t say that. Just as you can’t say that all Christians are fundamentalists because we have them too, eh. In all religions, there are these little groups,” he said Nov. 30.

“I told the (Turkish) president that it would be nice if all the Muslim leaders, whether political leaders or religious leaders or academic leaders, say that clearly and condemn it, no?” he continued, explaining that “all of us need a worldwide condemnation, also from Muslims who have the identity who say ‘We aren’t that. The Quran isn’t that’.”

The Pope also offered a firm warning on the situation of Middle East Christians.

“Truly, I don’t want to use sweetened words. Christians are being chased out of the Middle East. Sometimes, as we have seen in Iraq, the area of Mosul, they have to go away and leave everything, or pay the tax which doesn’t do any good.”

Speaking of broader violence throughout the world, Pope Francis said he believes “that we are living through a third world war, a war in pieces, in chapters, everywhere.”

“Behind this, there are rivalries, political problems and economic problems, to save this system where the god of money and not the human person is at the center. And behind this, there are also commercial interests: arms trafficking is terrible; it is one of the strongest businesses of this time.”

He cautioned that while humanity has discovered the positive good of nuclear energy, it has also used this energy for destructive means.

Asked about his trip to Turkey, Pope Francis emphasized ecumenism. He spoke about the importance of dialogue based on shared experience.

The Holy Father voiced his conviction that Catholics are moving forward in their relationship with the Orthodox, who have both the sacraments and apostolic succession.

“Unity is a journey we must undertake together,” praying and working together, he said, also noting “ecumenism of the blood,” as both Catholic and Orthodox martyrs shed their blood for the Christian faith.

Division exists when the Church becomes self-referential rather than focusing outward, the Pope stated. But while there are still difficulties, “we must be respectful and not tire of engaging in dialogue, without insulting others, without dirtying ourselves, without gossiping.”

In addition, Pope Francis spoke about a particularly intense moment of prayer he had during the papal trip.

He explained that he came to Turkey “as a pilgrim, not as a tourist,” and “the main reason was the feast today to share it with Patriarch Bartholomew, a religious reason.”

“But then, when I went into the mosque, I couldn’t say, ‘No, now I’m a tourist.’ No, it was all religious,” he said. “I saw those marvels, also the Mufti explained the things well to me with so much meekness, with the Quran where it spoke of Mary and John the Baptist. And he explained it all to me and in that moment I felt the need to pray. And, I said to him, ‘Shall we pray?’ And he said, ‘Yes, yes.’ I prayed for Turkey, for peace, for the Mufti, for everyone, for myself because I need it. And, we truly prayed. And, I prayed especially for peace. Lord, let’s end wars. It was like that. It was a moment of sincere prayer.”

He also spoke about his visit with refugee children and said that he would like to go to Iraq.

“For the moment it isn’t possible. It’s not that I don’t want to go, but if I went right now it would cause a quite serious problem for the authorities, for security. But, I would really like to and I want to,” he said.

Homily for 1st Sunday of Advent 2014

"There's a somebody I'm longing to see, I hope that he, turns out to be, someone who'll watch over me."  Very beautiful lyrics written by George and Ira Gershwin, sung beautifully by the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Barbara Streisand and Linda Ronstatd. The song was introduced many years later to a new generation thanks to the movie, Mr. Holland's Opus.

While the intent was certainly romantic, I get comfort from the thoughts of someone to watch over me.  Growing up I remember how my grandmother, mom, aunt and uncle watched over me.  I remember getting married and realizing that Wendy and I now had someone new to watch over me and someone we would watch over.  Becoming parents for the first time was another realization that I had someone who needed me to watch over them.  This for me is comforting.

As people of faith, "that someone" that watches over us all the time is Jesus.  In Advent, we should ask, are we watching for Jesus.

Happy Advent and Happy new liturgical year!  The colors have changed and the Year jumps from A to B as we leave behind the Gospel of Matthew and move to the Gospel of Mark.  We indeed have arrived at Advent, a period of watching and waiting.  For most of us, we watch and wait and prepare for Christmas and the long awaited birth of the babe of Bethlehem.  But there is more to advent as we watch and wait for Jesus to come again, because Jesus indeed will come again!  Today' Gospel makes that evident!  We begin Advent way back in the 13th chapter of St. Mark's Gospel.  It does not sound very much like Advent or Christmas or about the coming of baby Jesus.  No, Jesus tells a parable that begs us to be alert, to not be found sleeping, to watch.  The Gospel talks about a household, and that is indeed the Church.  All of us make up the Church!  There is a lord of the household who indeed is Jesus.  And then there are the servants, which represents all of us, serving the household of the Lord.  And finally, we meet the gatekeeper.  Now the gatekeeper could represent the leadership of the Church; those entrusted with authority who help us to follow the teachings of Jesus and Holy Mother Church.  We are called, as the servants of the household to obey.  But we could also discern that gatekeeper also places a responsibility on us; from the innermost parts of our heart and deepest depths of our souls, to live soberly, to go about our assigned duties and tasks, all the while watching and waiting; being alert!

We here in the Gospel that the lord of the house indeed will return; but when, we are not to know.  Many thought it would be right after the Ascension, surely it would be at the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D.  In our own day, many were convinced He would come again at the turn of the century, the famous Y2K.  No, He comes when He comes, when the time is right, and nothing we can do will be able to predict that.  Still, we are called to be ready, be alert, be vigilant, but keep on doing what we are called to do by our very being.  Don't be lazy or slack because we think the second coming is here, no, rather, live, love, work, play, pray, worship, be!

How are we called this Advent, right now, this week to prepare, both for Christmas and His second coming?  First, be prepared for Mass, every week and use this Advent as a launching point.  If you do not do this already, may I suggest a period of preparation for each Sunday Mass.  Review prayerfully the readings for the upcoming Mass, read a commentary on the readings.  You may even want to review the prayers used for the upcoming Mass.  There are so many resources to help us do this.  Now is a great time to start.  Secondly, consider first Friday this week.  We have Adoration and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament; the only time this occurs during Advent.  We need a generous response to our upcoming first Friday and what a perfect way to watch!!  Watch Him, exposed on the altar, in the monstrance and give Him worship!  It is a perfect thing to do every First Friday, especially this one, in Advent.  Our Advent Mission begins this week.  Held on three different evenings throughout the month, our first session is this Thursday, December 4th.  Come and get prepared, come watch, be vigilant!  Whatever we can do, let's all make the commitment to really celebrate Advent now, to remember Christmas comes later in December and not get to wrapped up in the worldly celebrations without truly participating in this grace filled season of Advent!

 Someone to watch over me; that someone is always Jesus Christ.  Let's watch for Him!  Again I say, watch!

Pope and Patriarch sign joint declaration on Christian unity

Pope and Ecumenical Patriarch Pray "That All May Be One"

Joint Declaration Calls For Intense Efforts to Promote Unity Among the Churches

Vatican City, ( Deborah Castellano Lubov   

“We are already on the way towards full communion,” Pope Francis. The Holy Father made these remarks this morning at the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy in the Church of St. George in Phanar, Istanbul.

The Divine Liturgy, which commemorated the liturgical feast day of St. Andrew the Apostle, took place on the final day of his three-day visit to Turkey.
"The one thing that the Catholic Church desires, and that I seek, is communion with the Orthodox Churches,” Francis said.
"To reach the desired goal of full unity,” the Pontiff also stressed, “the Catholic Church does not intend to impose any conditions"’
In his address, Patriarch Bartholomew said that although the Eucharistic communion does not allow "the convocation of a joint Great Ecumenical Council", he prayed that it would not be prolonged.
"However, until that blessed day", he said, "the participation in one another’s synodal life will be expressed through the involvement of observers, as we observe now, with Your gracious invitation to attend Synods of Your Church, just as we hope will also occur when, with God’s grace, our Holy and Great Council becomes reality."
While acknowledging the process of reunification can be sometimes “rugged,” he said, it’s “nonetheless irreversible," and is needed.
A Need for Unity
Both the Pope and the Patriarch agreed that for various reasons, the upheaval in the Middle East and persecution of Christians makes it all the more urgent.
"We no longer have the luxury of isolated action," the Patriarch said. "The modern persecutors of Christians do not ask which Church their victims belong to."
Given these events, “the path toward unity is more urgent than ever for those who invoke the name of the great Peacemaker."
The Pope clarified that restoration of full communion “does not signify the submission of one to the other, or assimilation,” but rather means welcoming all the gifts that God has given to each.
“I want to assure each one of you here that, to reach the desired goal of full unity, the Catholic Church does not intend to impose any conditions except that of the shared profession of faith.”
In today’s world, voices are being raised which we cannot ignore and which implore our Churches to live deeply our identity as disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Pope said, noting three in particular.
The first of these, he said, is the poor. “As Christians we are called together to eliminate that globalization of indifference which today seems to reign supreme, while building a new civilization of love and solidarity.”
“Taking away the peace of a people, committing every act of violence – or consenting to such acts, especially when directed against the weakest and defenseless--is a profoundly grave sin against God."
The Pope went on to say that it is the youth who wish for progress towards full communion, citing their willingness to come together with people of different beliefs. "They do this not because they ignore the differences which still separate us, but because they are able to see beyond them; they are able to embrace what is essential and what already unites us," he said.
New generations, the Pope concluded, need the humanism that comes from the Gospel and the Church’s age-old experience.
'That All May Be One'
Shortly after the Divine Liturgy, the Pope and Patriarch signed a joint declaration, their second one since May. It not only highlighted their mutual desire to continue this path toward communion between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches, but also stressed their concern over the Middle East.
"We express our sincere and firm resolution, in obedience to the will of our Lord Jesus Christ, to intensify our efforts to promote the full unity of all Christians, and above all between Catholics and Orthodox," it stated. The declaration also called for Catholic and Orthodox faithful to "join us in praying 'that all may be one.'"
Highlighting their common concern for the current situation in Iraq, Syria and the whole Middle East, the declaration noted, "We cannot resign ourselves to a Middle East without Christians, who have professed the name of Jesus there for two thousand years."
While calling on the international community to respond to the "terrible situation" of Christians and all suffering in the Middle East, the declaration also highlighted the need for good relations with Muslims.
"Inspired by common values and strengthened by genuine fraternal sentiments, Muslims and Christians are called to work together for the sake of justice, peace and respect for the dignity and rights of every person, especially in those regions where they once lived for centuries in peaceful coexistence and now tragically suffer together the horrors of war," it reaffirmed.
Following the signing of the Common Declaration, Pope Francis had a private lunch at the Ecumenical Patriarchate with Bartholomew I.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

The first apostle to encounter Christ; little brother to St. Peter

St. Andrew

Image of St. Andrew


Feastday: November 30
Patron of Fisherman

Andrew, like his brother Simon Peter, was a fisherman. He became a disciple of the great St. John the Baptist, but when John pointed to Jesus and said, "Behold the Lamb of God!" Andrew understood that Jesus was greater. At once he left John to follow the Divine Master. Jesus knew that Andrew was walking behind him, and turning back, he asked, "what do you seek?" When Andrew answered that he would like to know where Jesus lived, Our Lord replied, "Come and see." Andrew had been only a little time with Jesus when he realized that this was truly the Messiah.
From then on, he chose to follow Jesus. Andrew was thus the first disciple of Christ. Next, Andrew brought his brother Simon (St. Peter) to Jesus and Jesus received him, too, as His disciple. At first the two brothers continued to carry on their fishing trade and family affairs, but later, the Lord called them to stay with Him all the time. He promised to make them fishers of men, and this time, they left their nets for good. It is believed that after Our Lord ascended into Heaven, St. Andrew went to Greece to preach the gospel. He is said to have been put to death on a cross, to which he was tied, not nailed. He lived two days in that state of suffering, still preaching to the people who gathered around their beloved Apostle. Two countries have chosen St. Andrew as their patron - Russia and Scotland.

Pope's Homily in the Catholic Cathedral of Istanbul Turkey

Pope: Don't Resist Holy Spirit Even When He Takes Us Out of Comfort Zone

Says It's Not Acceptable to Maintain 'Sedentary,' 'Unchanging' Ways

Vatican City, ( Deborah Castellano Lubov   

Calling for a change of mentality today during his homily in Istanbul’s Catholic Holy Spirit Cathedral, Pope Francis warned that, “When we try to create diversity, but are closed within our own particular and exclusive ways of seeing things, we create division.”

To the faithful gathered on this second day of his three-day trip to Turkey, the Pope warned of that which prevents us from understanding others, while offering a solution for all problems: the Holy Spirit.
While focusing his words on the Spirit's unifying power, the Pope noted, “The temptation is always within us to resist the Holy Spirit.”
We resist, he said, “because he takes us out of our comfort zone and unsettles us; he makes us get up and drives the Church forward. It is always easier and more comfortable to settle in our sedentary and unchanging ways.”
Our defensiveness is evident, the Jesuit Pope said, when we are “entrenched” within our ideas and our own strengths.
When we are ambitious or vain, "defensive mechanisms prevent us from truly understanding other people and from opening ourselves to a sincere dialogue with them.”
What to do
“The more we allow ourselves to be humbly guided by the Spirit of the Lord, the more we will overcome misunderstandings, divisions, and disagreements and be a credible sign of unity and peace,” the Pontiff suggested.
“In truth, the Church shows her fidelity to the Holy Spirit in as much as she does not try to control or tame him."
When Christians become true missionary disciples, he noted, we are "able to challenge consciences," as long as we have thrown off our defensiveness and allow ourselves to be led.
The Spirit’s “freshness, imagination and newness,” makes this possible.
“The Holy Spirit is the soul of the Church," the Holy Father stated. "He gives life, he brings forth different charisms which enrich the people of God and, above all, he creates unity among believers.”
In addition, he said, the Church’s whole life and mission depend on the Holy Spirit, for “he fulfills all things."
When the Spirit 'takes hold'
“When we pray, it is because the Holy Spirit inspires prayer in our heart,” Francis said, adding  that he also does more.
“When we break the cycle of our self-centeredness, and move beyond ourselves and go out to encounter others, to listen to them and help them,” he noted, “it is the Spirit of God who impels us to do so.”
Moreover, “when we find within a hitherto unknown ability to forgive, to love someone who doesn’t love us in return,” he said, “it is the Spirit who has taken hold of us. When we move beyond mere self-serving words and turn to our brothers and sisters with that tenderness which warms the heart."
At such times, we have been "touched" by the Holy Spirit, the Pope said.
Given all these factors, the Pontiff reflected, the Holy Spirit “brings forth different charisms in the Church, which at first glance, may seem to create disorder," but, in reality, create unity--the unity the Father has desired among all believers.
At the conclusion of the Mass, Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriach Bartholomew gave a joint blessing. The blessing was welcomed with cheers and loud applause, as was the Patriarch’s entrance to the cathedral.

Day 2 for Pope Francis in Turkey

Pope visits iconic religious sites in Istanbul

Associated Press

    Pope Francis waves to journalists as he stands by Istanbul Mufti Rahmi Yaran upon their arrival to the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey, Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014. Pope Francis visits two of Turkey's most iconic sites and shifts gears toward more religious affairs as he arrives in Istanbul for the second leg of his three-day visit to the Muslim nation. The Vatican says Francis will tour Istanbul's Sultan Ahmet mosque on Saturday and pause for a moment of "reflection." (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)
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    ISTANBUL (AP) — His head bowed and hands clasped in front of him, Pope Francis on Saturday stood in two minutes of silent prayer facing east inside one of Istanbul's most important religious sites, as he shifted gears toward more religious affairs on the second leg of his three-day visit to the mainly Muslim nation.

    Following in the footsteps of Pope Benedict XVI who visited Turkey in 2006, Francis prayed alongside the Grand Mufti of Istanbul, Rahmi Yaran, who had his palms turned toward the sky in a Muslim prayer, inside the 17th-century Sultan Ahmet mosque.
    "May God accept it," Yaran told the pope, at the end of the prayer that aims to shows respect for Islam and encourage stronger ties between the two faiths.
    The Vatican spokesman, Rev. Federico Lombardi called it a moment of silent "adoration."
    Lombardi, who was behind the pope said Francis told the Mufti two times that we "adore" God and not just praise and glorify him.
    Earlier, Francis nodded, smiled and looked up in awe as Yaran gave him a tour of the mosque which is famed for its elaborate blue tiles and cascading domes and better known as the Blue Mosque.
    Benedict had visited Turkey amid heightened Christian-Muslim tensions and prayed at the mosque in a gesture that was appreciated by many Turks. The Vatican added the stop at the Blue Mosque at the last minute to show Benedict's respect for Muslims.
    Francis then visited the nearby Haghia Sofia, which was the main Byzantine church in Constantinople — present-day Istanbul — before being turned into a mosque following the Muslim conquest of the city in 1453. The Haghia Sophia is now museum, although some Islamic groups want it to be converted back into a mosque.
    Pope Paul VI, who made the first-ever papal visit to Turkey in 1967, fell to his knees in prayer inside Haghia Sophia, triggering protests by Turks who claimed Paul had violated the secular nature of the domed complex. All eyes were turned on Francis to see if he would do the same but careful of Turkish sensitivities, the pope avoided praying inside the Haghia Sophia.
    Halfway through his tour, the Muslim call for prayer from the Blue Mosque echoed off the Haghia Sophia's marble walls, drowning the voice of the museum's director who escorted Francis around the structure.
    A few dozen well-wishers outside Haghia Sophia waved a combination of the Turkish and the flag of the Holy See. One carried a banner that read: "You are Peter."
    Francis nearly tripped over while walking the carpet from his plane to a VIP terminal at Istanbul's Ataturk Airport. The governor of Istanbul and Patriarch Bartholomew I, the spiritual leader of Orthodox Christians, helped the pontiff as he tottered.
    Meeting with Turkish leaders in the capital Ankara a day earlier, Francis urged Muslim leaders to condemn the "barbaric violence" being committed in Islam's name against religious minorities in Iraq and Syria. He reaffirmed that military force was justified to halt the Islamic State group's advance, and called for greater dialogue among Christians, Muslims and people of all faiths to end fundamentalism.
    Later on Saturday, Francis will meet with Bartholomew — the real reason for his visit to Turkey.
    The two major branches of Christianity represented by Bartholomew and Francis split in 1054 over differences on the power of the papacy. The two spiritual heads will participate in an ecumenical liturgy and sign a joint declaration in the ongoing attempt to reunite the churches.

    Friday, November 28, 2014

    3rd century Bishop of Toulouse and Martyr

    St. Saturninus

    Image of St. Saturninus


    Feastday: November 29

    St. Saturninus Bishop of Toulouse and Martyr November 29 A.D. 257     St. Saturninus went from Rome by the direction of pope Fabian, about the year 245, to preach the faith in Gaul, where St. Trophimus, the first bishop of Arles, had some time before gathered a plentiful harvest. In the year 250, when Decius and Gratus were consuls, St. Saturninus fixed his episcopal see at Toulouse. Fortunatus tells us, that he converted a great number of idolaters by his preaching and miracles. This is all the account we have of him till the time of his holy martyrdom. The author of his acts, who wrote about fifty years after his death, relates, that he assembled his flock in a small church; and that the capitol, which was the chief temple in the city, lay in the way between that church and the saint's habitation. In this temple oracles were given; but the devils were struck dumb by the presence of the saint as he passed that way. The priests spied him one day going by, and seized and dragged him into the temple. declaring that he should either appease the offended deities by offering sacrifice to them, or expiate the crime with his blood. Saturninus boldly replied: "I adore one only God, and to him I am ready to offer a sacrifice of praise. Your gods are devils, and are more delighted with the sacrifice of your souls than with those of your bullocks. How can I fear them who, as you acknowledge, tremble before a Christian?" The infidels, incensed at this reply, abused the saint with all the rage that a mad zeal could inspire, and after a great variety of indignities, tied his feet to a wild bull, which was brought thither to be sacrificed. The beast being driven from the temple, ran violently down the hill, so that the martyr's scull was broken, and his brains dashed out. His happy soul was released from the body by death, and fled to the kingdom of peace and glory, and the bull continued to drag the sacred body, and the limbs and blood were scattered on every side, till, the cord breaking, what remained of the trunk was left in the plain without the gates of the city. Two devout women laid the sacred remains on a bier, and hid them in a deep ditch, to secure them from any further insult, where they lay in "wooden coffin" till the reign of Constantine the Great. Then Hilary, bishop of Toulouse, built a small chapel over this his holy predecessor's body Sylvius, bishop of that city towards the close of the fourth century, began to build a magnificent church in honor of the martyr, which was finished and consecrated by his successor Exuperius, who, with great pomp and piety, translated the venerable relics into it. This precious treasure remains there to this day with due honor. The martyrdom of this saint probably happened m the reign of Valerian, in 257.

    Pope Francis begins the Year of Consecrated Life

    Pope authorizes plenary indulgence for Year of Consecrated Life
    Credit: Petr Kratochvil.
    Credit: Petr Kratochvil.
    .- On the occasion of the Year of Consecrated Life that begins this weekend, Pope Francis has allowed the faithful to receive plenary indulgences, under the normal conditions.

    “The Holy Father, on the occasion of the Year of Consecrated Life, will concede plenary indulgences, with the customary conditions, to all members of the institutes of consecrated life and other truly repentant faithful moved by a spirit of charity,” a Nov. 28 statement from the Vatican read.

    Called by Pope Francis last fall, the Year for Consecrated will begin the First Sunday of Advent, Nov. 30, and will be preceded by a prayer vigil the night before.

    The opportunity to receive plenary indulgences will run through the close of the year, Feb. 2, 2016. The indulgence may also be offered for souls in Purgatory.

    The indulgence for the Year of Consecrated Life can be obtained in Rome through participation in the meetings and celebrations set in the calendar of the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and the Societies of Apostolic Life.

    In all the particular Churches, the faithful can obtain the indulgence “during the days devoted to consecrated life in the diocese, and during diocesan celebrations organised for the Year of Consecrated Life, by visiting the cathedral or another sacred place designated with the consent of the Ordinary of the place, or a convent church or oratory of a cloistered monastery, and publicly reciting the Liturgy of the Hours or through a suitable period of time of devout reflection

    The Vatican also specified that members of institutes of consecrated life who are unable to visit these sacred places due to health or other “serious reasons” may still obtain the indulgence, if “completely detached from any type of sin and with the intention of being able to fulfil the three usual conditions as soon as possible, devoutly carry out the spiritual visit and offer their illness and the hardships of their life to God the merciful through Mary.”

    In each of the ways to obtain the plenary indulgence, the indulgenced act is to be accompanied by the recitation of the Our Father, the Profession of Faith (Creed), and invocation of the Virgin Mary.

    To help facilitate the process, Apostolic Penitentiary Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, who signed the degree, asked that the canons, members of the Chapter, the priests of the Institutes of Consecrated Life and all others make themselves more available to administer the sacraments.

    He encouraged them to “hear confessions,  offer themselves willingly and generously to the celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation and regularly administer Holy Communion to the sick.”

    An indulgence is defined as the remission of the temporal punishment – the unhealthy attachment to created things – due to sins which have already been forgiven.

    The usual conditions for an indulgence – which apply to that for the Year of Consecrated Life – are that the individual be in the state of grace by the completion of the acts, have complete detachment from sin, and pray for the Pope's intentions. The person must also sacramentally confess their sins and receive Communion, up to about twenty days before or after the indulgenced act.

    All about Advent

    Because We’re Catholic and It’s Advent

    Regardless of what major retailers and the secular culture may be telling you, ’tis not the season of Christmas…yet. It is not time to deck the halls with boughs of holly, and if you happen to find yourself driving past a Christmas tree lot, fight the urge to pull over. Instead, dare to be counter-cultural. Why? Because we are Catholic and it is Advent.
    Advent comes from the Latin “ad-venire”, which means “to come to”. As the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) website explains:
    “Beginning the Church’s liturgical year, Advent is the season leading up to the celebration of Christmas. The Advent season is a time of preparation that directs our hearts and minds to Christ’s second coming at the end of time and also to the anniversary of the Lord’s birth on Christmas.”
    In The Liturgical Year ,19th century Benedictine abbot and liturgist Dom Prosper Gueranger quotes St. Bernard when he writes:
    “In the first coming He comes in the flesh and in weakness; in the second, He comes in spirit and in power; in the third, He comes in glory and in majesty; and the second coming is the means whereby we pass from the first to the third.” (Fifth sermon for Advent).
    Indeed, Advent is a penitential season which is why the liturgical color selected by Holy Mother Church is purple. In preparation for the coming of the Christ we must not avoid introspection, but instead should undertake serious reflection. Penance, abstinence and fasting are all means by which we can more appropriately enter into the season at hand. Once again, the U.S. bishops:
    “Changing customs, especially in connection with preparation for Christmas, have diminished popular appreciation of the Advent season. Something of a holiday mood of Christmas appears now to be anticipated in the days of the Advent season. As a result, this season has unfortunately lost in great measure the role of penitential preparation for Christmas that it once had.” (Pastoral Statement on Penance and Abstinence, National Conference of Catholic Bishops, 1966).
    As Catholics, what can we do in the face of our increasingly materialistic and highly secularized culture?
    First, do not feel the need to go along to get along. Just because everyone else is doing it is not an excuse. This is the beginning of the new liturgical year for the Church, and not simply the biggest shopping season of the year. It is also not mandatory that you decorate your house early simply because friends, family and neighbors are doing so. Dare to be counter-cultural, because we’re Catholic and it’s Advent.
    Second, begin the season of Advent with a sincere and exhaustive Examination of Conscience and then go to Confession. This is a time to prepare yourself for the coming of the Lord.
    Third, give up something for Advent just as you would for Lent. This can be difficult during the season as many others are already celebrating with parties, exchanges, candy and more. Little sacrifices and penances, however, are excellent ways to help us grow in virtue and holiness.
    Finally, there are a multitude of great devotions and practices that you and your family can incorporate to prepare yourselves, such as: an Advent wreath, the blessing of your Christmas Tree; an Advent calendar, the “O” Antiphons of Advent and finally, the Jesse Tree with readings and ornaments. In the beautiful and anticipatory words of the classic seasonal hymn:
    O come, O come, Emmanuel
    And ransom captive Israel
    That mourns in lonely exile here
    Until the Son of God appear
    Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
    Shall come to thee, O Israel.

    Pope Francis in Turkey, wastes no time calling for peace and denouncing violence, human rights violations and ISIS

    Pope: Religious Leaders Are Obliged to Denounce Rights Violations

    In Turkey, Says Those Who Adore God Must Be Men and Women of Peace

    Ankara, ( Deborah Castellano Lubov   

    On day one of his apostolic trip to Turkey today, the Pope called on religious leaders to do what's expected of them.

    Addressing religious leaders in Ankara this afternoon on this first day of his three-day visit to the primarily Muslim nation of Turkey, the Pope said, "The world expects those who claim to adore God to be men and women of peace who are capable of living as brothers and sisters, regardless of ethnic, religious, cultural or ideological differences."
    Not only this, but as religious leaders, "we are obliged to denounce all violations against human dignity and human rights," he said.
    "Human life, a gift of God the Creator, possesses a sacred character. As such, any violence which seeks religious justification warrants the strongest condemnation because the Omnipotent is the God of life and peace."
    More than just denounce violations, he stressed, religious leaders must work together to find adequate solutions. This, he added, requires the cooperation of all: governments, political and religious leaders, representatives of civil society, and all men and women of good will.
    The Holy Father explained that good relations and dialogue between religious leaders have, in fact, acquired great importance, for they represent a clear message addressed to their respective communities, which “demonstrates that mutual respect and friendship are possible, notwithstanding differences.”
    “Such friendship,” he said,“becomes all the more meaningful and important in a time of crises such as our own, crises which in some parts of the world are disastrous for entire peoples.”
    Wars, he went on to describe, cause deaths of innocent victims and bring untold destruction, interethnic and interreligious tensions and conflicts, hunger and poverty afflicting hundreds of millions of people, and inflict damage on the natural environment, including air, water and land.
    The situation in the Middle East is especially tragic, above all in Iraq and Syria, Francis decried.
    "Everyone suffers the consequences of these conflicts, and the humanitarian situation is unbearable," he said. “I think of so many children, the sufferings of so many mothers, of the elderly, of those displaced and of all refugees, subject to every form of violence.”
    Simply because of ethnic and religious identity, the Pope said, "particular concern arises" becuase entire communities, "especially – though not exclusively – Christians and Yazidis, have suffered and continue to suffer barbaric violence" primarily by an extremist and fundamentalist group.
    Turning to what can be learned from this, he said that "in a unique way," religious leaders can offer a vital contribution by expressing the values of their respective traditions, for "we, Muslims and Christians, are the bearers of spiritual treasures of inestimable worth."
    Recognizing and developing our common spiritual heritage through interreligious dialogue, he noted, helps us to promote and to uphold moral values, peace and freedom in society.
    "The shared recognition of the sanctity of each human life," the Holy Father underscored, "is the basis of joint initiatives of solidarity, compassion, and effective help directed to those who suffer most."
    On ZENIT's Web page:
    Full Translation:

    Thursday, November 27, 2014

    All about the Miraculous Medal

    The Miraculous Medal was created in response to a request from the Blessed Virgin Mary.

    The Meaning of the Miraculous Medal

    Mary's Design Symbolizes Key Elements of the Catholic Faith

    November 27 marked the 177th anniversary of the Medal of the Immaculate Conception, popularly known by Catholics the world over as the Miraculous Medal. The Miraculous Medal has a special place in the hearts of the Marians of the Immaculate Conception, since it paved the way for the Church's official declaration of the dogma in 1854.

    The medal is striking because Our Lady herself presented the familiar design.

    The front of the medal depicts Mary standing on a globe, with the head of a serpent beneath her feet. Circling the oval-shaped medal is the signature, "O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee." On the reverse, twelve stars surround a large "M," from which a cross arises. Below the "M," the medal depicts two flaming hearts. The left heart, circled with thorns, represents Jesus. The right heart, pierced by a sword, symbolizes Mary.

    An Unlikely Helper
    By what intervention and through what vessel did the Blessed Mother convey the design of this medal? As in the case of The Divine Mercy revelations to St. Faustina, a young, unassuming nun in 1930s Poland, once again God chose an unlikely helper. Nearly 100 years earlier, He selected a 24-year-old novice in the community of Sisters known as the Daughters of Charity, Paris, France, in 1830.

    The extraordinary story begins on the night of July 18, 1830, when a mysterious child awakens Sister Catherine Laboure. The child leads her to the convent's chapel. There, Sister Catherine sees the Virgin Mary, sitting in a chair. She kneels beside Mary, and rests her hands in the Virgin's lap. The two speak for several hours. During the conversation, Mary promises she will return and give the young nun "a mission." The child leads Catherine back to her bed. Catherine hears the clock strike 2 a.m., July 19.

    A little more than four months later, Sister Catherine learns what Mary wants.

    During her evening meditation on Nov. 27, 1830, Catherine has a vision of Mary standing in a position similar to the depiction on the medal. Later, the vision changes to include the inscription found on the front side of the medal.

    Mary speaks to Catherine, saying, "Have a medal struck upon this model. Those who wear it will receive great graces, especially if they wear it around their neck."

    Iconic Attraction
    It was as Mary said. The medal's effects were immediate.

    The first medals were made in 1832 and distributed throughout Paris. According to the Association of the Miraculous Medal, the blessings that Mary promised "began to shower down" on wearers of the medal. The devotion spread rapidly. In 1836, a Church investigation declared the apparitions to be genuine.

    Since Mary asked Catherine to have the medal struck, devotion to the Miraculous Medal has spread the world over, the image having achieved iconic stature.

    But what does the medal mean? In answering that, one discovers why it works.

    The Front Side
    • Mary stands on a globe, crushing a serpent beneath her feet. Describing the original vision, Catherine said the Blessed Mother appeared radiant as a sunrise, "in all her perfect beauty."
    • Rays shoot out from Mary's hands, which she told Catherine, "... symbolize the graces I shed upon those who ask for them."
    • Words from the vision form an oval frame around Mary: "O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee."
    Seen as a matrix, the elements of the front design encapsulate major Marian tenets:

    Quality of Our Lady As Illustrated by the Medal
    • Mother Her open arms, the "recourse" we have in her
    • Immaculate The words, "conceived without sin"
    • Assumed into Heaven She stands on the globe
    • Mediatrix Rays from her hands symbolizing "graces"
    • Our Protection Crushes the serpent (Gn. 3:15)

    The Reverse Side
    • A cross-and-bar surmounts a large, bold "M"
    • 12 stars disperse around the perimeter
    • Two hearts are depicted underneath the "M," the left lapped with a crown of thorns, the right skewed by a sword. From each, a flame emanates from the top. Again, employing a grid analysis, we can see how the reverse-side design contains great symbolism reflecting major tenets of the Catholic faith.

    Design Element and its Catholic Meaning
    • The large letter "M" — Mary as Mother, Mediatrix.
    • Cross and bar — Jesus' cross of Redemption.
    • 12 stars — 12 Apostles, who formed the first Church.
    • Left Heart — The Sacred Heart, who died for our sins.
    • Right Heart — The Immaculate Heart, who intercedes for us.
    • Flames — The burning love Jesus and Mary have for us.

    The Association of the Miraculous Medal, in Perryville, Mo., notes that there is no superstition or magic connected with the Miraculous Medal, nor is it "a good luck charm." Rather, it is "a testimony to faith and the power of trusting prayer. Its greatest miracles are those of patience, forgiveness, repentance, and faith."

    To obtain a free Miraculous Medal, write to the Association of the Miraculous Medal, 1811 W. St. Joseph St., Perryville, MO, 63775.

    The Saint of the Miraculous Medal

    St. Catherine Laboure

    Image of St. Catherine Laboure


    Feastday: November 28
    Beatified By: May 28, 1933 by Pope Pius XI
    Canonized By: July 27, 1947 by Pope Pius XII

    St. Catherine Laboure, virgin, was born on May 2, 1806. At an early age she entered the community of the Daughters of Charity, in Paris, France. Three times in 1830 the Virgin Mary appeared to St. Catherine Laboure, who then was a twenty-four year old novice.
    On July 18, the first apparition occurred in the community's motherhouse. St. Catherine beheld a lady seated on the right side of the sanctuary. When St. Catherine approached her, the heavenly visitor told her how to act in time of trial and pointed to the altar as the source of all consolation. Promising to entrust St. Catherine with a mission which would cause her great suffering, the lady also predicted the anticlerical revolt which occurred at Paris in 1870.
    On November 27, the lady showed St. Catherine the medal of the Immaculate Conception, now universally known as the "Miraculous Medal." She commissioned St. Catherine to have one made, and to spread devotion to this medal. At that time, only her spiritual director, Father Aladel, knew of the apparitions. Forty-five years later, St. Catherine spoke fully of the apparitions to one of her superiors. She died on December 31, 1876, and was canonized on July 27, 1947. Her feast day is November 28.

    Thanksgiving Day 2014; a very reflective day

    Yep, another big holiday is almost over.  Thanksgiving 2014 arrived here in the New Orleans area with a cold, crisp very autumn like morning.  For us this is always a blessing as we have also celebrated many a summer like Thanksgiving Day.  I noticed this morning, on my drive to church, even the tree colors were very Smokey Mountain like.  My day began with Mass, as it always has since my ordination.  I really don't recall going to Mass as a child or young adult for the national holiday for giving thanks.  Of course Thanksgiving is not a church holiday nor a holy day of obligation.  But what a day to see the hundreds who want to be at Mass.  At the end of Mass at MHT we have a tradition of distributing several small loaves of baked bread to those attending Mass.  Father says a special blessing so the bread can be a really nice reminder that it comes from our church family into our families homes!

    Two really wonderful things happened when I returned home.  Wendy and I spent about 45 minutes visiting with #1 grandson, Calvin, and my North Carolina family via Skype.  We let him entertain us with plans for their Thanksgiving day and feast and his upcoming plans for Christmas.  Even though many miles separate us what a joy to be part of their Thanksgiving Day.  I also called my lone remaining aunt to visit with her for the holiday.  She lives only about 65 miles away and generally prefers to stay home now except for Christmas.  It was a nice chat to reflect as I thought about all the many years her home was used to a gathering that numbered 25 or so for many a Thanksgiving Day.  Yet my aunt was in a great mood as she too had just returned from Mass.

    So Wendy and I spent the day at home together.  My other child, Elizabeth, spent her Thanksgiving with the boyfriends family as they will meet up with us tomorrow evening.  We had a nice day.  Wendy cooked quite an elaborate meal for two, turkey, the fixings and some of my quirky favorites.  Needless to say we will have leftover heaven for the next few days!

    I have learned over the years that celebrating Thanksgiving, whether a big gathering or not so big, is more about attitude, reflection.  It's main purpose truly is to devote at least one day, on a national scale, to giving thanks!  We give thanks to God Almighty first and foremost because he gives us everyone and everything we are thankful for!

    So it indeed has been a reflective day and a wonderful day.  For some reason, I'm going to end this day with a little LSU football; hoping for the best, praying it doesn't make me mad!

    Oh by the way, I hope you stayed away from retail shopping today as I find it despicable the ever growing number of places opening on Thanksgiving Day.  This is greed at it's worst.  And I would recommend avoid being one of those caught every Black Friday being stampeded in the early hours of tomorrow morning!

    Pope Francis says fight depression, live with hope

    Pope's Morning Homily: Even If Reality Is Ugly, Keep Heads Held High

    Warns That Distancing From God Eventually Leads One to 'Rot'

    Vatican City, ( Deborah Castellano Lubov   

    Even at the worst of times, Christians cannot give into depression, but rather must live in hope.

    During his morning Mass today in Casa Santa Marta, the Holy Father affirmed this, as he said that in order to be at peace, we must allow room for God to rescue and convert us from our worldly ways. He said we must welcome, not "close the door," to God, reported Vatican Radio.
    "When we think of the end of time, with all of our sins, with our history," he said, "let us think of the banquet which will be freely offered us and let us lift up our heads."
    "Do not give way to depression. Hope!" the 77-year-old Pontiff exclaimed.
    Admitting "reality is ugly," he noted that there are many people who are suffering: many wars, hatred, envy, spiritual worldliness and corruption.
    Since "all of this will fall" he again urged faithful to ask the Lord "for the grace to be prepared for the banquet that awaits us, always with our heads held high."
    While warning against distancing ourselves from the Lord, he warned that “corruption” and “distraction” take us away from the Lord.
    Recalling the cities of Babylon and Jerusalem, discussed in today’s reading and Luke’s Gospel, respectively, Francis reflected that both readings turn one’s attention to the end of the world by depicting how both cities “drifted away” from God and then collapsed.
    The cities fell for different reasons, he said, stressing Babylon epitomized evil, sin, and falling to corruption, while Jerusalem didn't allow space for God.
    Jerusalem, he noted, "made the Lord weep." Not only did Jerusalem fail to "welcome the Lord who comes to her rescue" and "not feel in need of salvation," it left no room for salvation: "Her door was closed to the Lord!"
    "The Lord was knocking at her door," he added, "but there was no willingness to receive Him, to listen, to be rescued by Him. And so she falls," he said.
    “When one accumulates sin,” he warned, “you lose your ability to react and you start to rot.” Even if corruption seems to give you some happiness, power and makes you feel satisfied with yourself, he said, it ultimately doesn't because it "leaves no room for the Lord, for conversion."
    This word "corruption," the Pope noted, speaks not only in the economic sense, but that of many different sins. "The worst [form of] corruption," the Pontiff exclaimed, "is the spirit of worldliness!"
    Even if this "corrupt culture" makes you feel "as if you were in Heaven, right here," it's an illusion because "the corrupt culture is a rotten culture."
    “Every society, every culture, every person who has distanced themselves from God, who has distanced themselves from love of neighbor," he stated, "eventually leads to rot."
    The Holy Father called for the faithful to not be scared or fearful, but to lift up their heads to see our Lord who is ready to "rescue."

    In the middle of a Civil War President Lincoln proclaims the last Thursday of November as Thanksgiving Day

    Abraham Lincoln's Thanksgiving Proclamation

    Washington, D.C.
    October 3, 1863

    By the President of the United States of America. A Proclamation. The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consiousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union. In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed. Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth. By the President: Abraham Lincoln

    A wonderful Thanksgiving Day post from yestertear courtesy of President George Washington

    George Washington and Giving Thanks

    Wisdom Of The Day: George Washington (Thanksgiving Day Special)

    President George Washington
    Presidential Thanksgiving Day
    November 26, 1789

    Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor, and Whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint committee requested me to “recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanks-giving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many single favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.”
    Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the Service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be. That we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks, for His kind care and protection of the People of this country previous to their becoming a Nation, for the single and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of His providence, which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war, for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed, for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted, of the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have to acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge and in general for all the great and various favors which He hath been pleased to confer upon us.
    And also that we may then unite in most humble offering our prayers and supplications to the Great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions, to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually, to render our national government a blessing to all people, by constantly being a government of wise, just and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed, to protect and guide all Sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace and concord. To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us, and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone know to be best.

    From L.A. Archbishop Gomez: The Catholicity of Thanksgiving

    Thanksgiving Day, a deeply Catholic holiday

    For most Americans, Thanksgiving Day is a special day, where we celebrate family unity. In fact, families get together on Thanksgiving more often than on any other holiday, including Christmas, and according to retailers’ statistics, this is the day when the most food is consumed in the country.
    But besides the traditional family get-together and the big meal, there is also the religious meaning of this holiday, that is present since its origins. According to tradition, the pilgrims celebrated the first meal of thanksgiving in 1621, together with a group of natives to give thanks to God for the abundance of the harvests in the new world.
    With time, this celebration became a national event, finally sanctioned by President George Washington himself. Today, we Catholics, celebrate Thanksgiving not only as a national holiday, but also as an authentically Catholic holiday.
    I say that this is a truly Catholic celebration because even before the “first” Thanksgiving celebration on U.S. soil in 1621, on April 30, 1598, in Texas, Don Juan de Oñate had already declared officially a “Day of Thanksgiving,” commemorated with the holy sacrifice of the Mass.
    Oñate did what is essentially Catholic: to celebrate the Eucharist, a word which comes from the Greek term Eukaristein, and which means, precisely, “thanksgiving.”
    In fact the Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us that “Believing in God, the only One, and loving him with all our being has enormous consequences for our whole life,” (CCC 222); and then it adds that this involves, “living in thanksgiving: if God is the only One, everything we are and have comes from him: ‘What have you that you did not receive?’ ‘What shall I render to the Lord for all his bounty to me?’”(CCC 224).
    This is the reason why, although Thanksgiving is not a day of obligation on the Catholic calendar, the liturgical calendar of the church in the United States celebrates it with the solemnity of two readings — one from the Old and another from the New Testament — and with a symbolic reading of the Gospel of Luke: the passage of the “Magnificat” proclaimed by the Most Holy Virgin Mary, in which she recites one of the most beautiful and profound thanksgivings to the infinite love of God: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior. For he has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness… The Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.” (Lk 1:41-55)
    Although the Virgin Mary experienced it in a unique and privileged way, we can offer our thanksgiving to God, because he has given us more than we imagine or deserve, simply because, as our Holy Mother tells us, he has done great things for us, and holy is his name.
    That is why we Catholics should not only celebrate Thanksgiving with a deep sense of prayer, gratitude and joy, but the celebration this day should lead us to remember that our lives as Catholics are a constant act of thanksgiving, through our daily activities, all of which should give glory to God, especially through the celebration of the Eucharist, which, as the Catechism says, “The Eucharist is a sacrifice of thanksgiving to the Father, a blessing by which the church expresses her gratitude to God for all his benefits, for all that he has accomplished through creation, redemption and sanctification. Eucharist means first of all ‘thanksgiving.’” (CCC 1360)
    This weekend we begin the special season of Advent. Through it, we prepare to receive the supreme gift from God: his own Son, who became one of us to reconcile humanity.
    I pray with all my heart to our Mother, who was always grateful to the Lord, to fill our hearts with thanksgiving, in preparation for the great mysteries of Christmas.

    Wednesday, November 26, 2014

    Incredible post by New Orleans Saints TE Benjamin Watson in the aftermath of the Ferguson riots; it's a sin problem

    "At some point while I was playing or preparing to play Monday Night Football, the news broke about the Ferguson Decision. After trying to figure out how I felt, I decided to write it down. Here are my thoughts:

    I'M ANGRY because the stories of injustice that have been passed down for generations seem to be continuing before our very eyes.

    I'M FRUSTRATED, because pop culture, music and movies glorify these types of police citizen altercations and promote an invincible attitude that continues to get young men killed in real life, away from safety movie sets and music studios.

    I'M FEARFUL because in the back of my mind I know that although I'm a law abiding citizen I could still be looked upon as a "threat" to those who don't know me. So I will continue to have to go the extra mile to earn the benefit of the doubt.

    I'M EMBARRASSED because the looting, violent protests, and law breaking only confirm, and in the minds of many, validate, the stereotypes and thus the inferior treatment.

    I'M SAD, because another young life was lost from his family, the racial divide has widened, a community is in shambles, accusations, insensitivity hurt and hatred are boiling over, and we may never know the truth about what happened that day.

    I'M SYMPATHETIC, because I wasn't there so I don't know exactly what happened. Maybe Darren Wilson acted within his rights and duty as an officer of the law and killed Michael Brown in self defense like any of us would in the circumstance. Now he has to fear the backlash against himself and his loved ones when he was only doing his job. What a horrible thing to endure. OR maybe he provoked Michael and ignited the series of events that led to him eventually murdering the young man to prove a point.

    I'M OFFENDED, because of the insulting comments I've seen that are not only insensitive but dismissive to the painful experiences of others.

    I'M CONFUSED, because I don't know why it's so hard to obey a policeman. You will not win!!! And I don't know why some policeman abuse their power. Power is a responsibility, not a weapon to brandish and lord over the populace.

    I'M INTROSPECTIVE, because sometimes I want to take "our" side without looking at the facts in situations like these. Sometimes I feel like it's us against them. Sometimes I'm just as prejudiced as people I point fingers at. And that's not right. How can I look at white skin and make assumptions but not want assumptions made about me? That's not right.

    I'M HOPELESS, because I've lived long enough to expect things like this to continue to happen. I'm not surprised and at some point my little children are going to inherit the weight of being a minority and all that it entails.

    I'M HOPEFUL, because I know that while we still have race issues in America, we enjoy a much different normal than those of our parents and grandparents. I see it in my personal relationships with teammates, friends and mentors. And it's a beautiful thing.

    I'M ENCOURAGED, because ultimately the problem is not a SKIN problem, it is a SIN problem. SIN is the reason we rebel against authority. SIN is the reason we abuse our authority. SIN is the reason we are racist, prejudiced and lie to cover for our own. SIN is the reason we riot, loot and burn. BUT I'M ENCOURAGED because God has provided a solution for sin through the his son Jesus and with it, a transformed heart and mind. One that's capable of looking past the outward and seeing what's truly important in every human being. The cure for the Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice and Eric Garner tragedies is not education or exposure. It's the Gospel. So, finally, I'M ENCOURAGED because the Gospel gives mankind hope."