Sunday, May 31, 2015

In 155 A.D. this Saint described Catholicism and the Mass, in writing, preserved to this day

Here is but a small sampling of the writings of St. Justin Martyr, whose feast we celebrate on June 1st.

Here are some of the wonderful truths he wrote that are still truths today:

  • Believed that baptism had a regenerating effect and remitted sins
  •  Gathered regularly on Sunday
  • Celebrated a liturgy (organized service) that included both the teaching of the Scriptures and the sharing in the Eucharist every single week
  • Practiced closed communion (only those who shared the same beliefs were welcome to partake)
  • Required one to live in accordance with the principles of Christ to receive communion
  • Did not treat the Eucharistic bread and wine like ordinary food and drink, since they believed that the bread and wine become the ‘flesh and blood’ of Christ by the power of Christ’s words in the prayer of thanksgiving.
  • Believed that the Apostles taught them that they were to worship in this manner
Don’t Believe it?  Read it for yourself:
(From the First Apology of St. Justin Martyr, c. 155 AD)
“      No one may share the Eucharist with us unless he believes that what we teach is true, unless he is washed in the regenerating waters of baptism for the remission of his sins, and unless he lives in accordance with the principles given us by Christ.
We do not consume the eucharistic bread and wine as if it were ordinary food and drink, for we have been taught that as Jesus Christ our Savior became a man of flesh and blood by the power of the Word of God, so also the food that our flesh and blood assimilates for its nourishment becomes the flesh and blood of the incarnate Jesus by the power of his own words contained in the prayer of thanksgiving.
The apostles, in their recollections, which are called gospels, handed down to us what Jesus commanded them to do. They tell us that he took bread, gave thanks and said: Do this in memory of me. This is my body. In the same way he took the cup, he gave thanks and said: This is my blood. The Lord gave this command to them alone. Ever since then we have constantly reminded one another of these things. The rich among us help the poor and we are always united. For all that we receive we praise the Creator of the universe through his Son Jesus Christ and through the Holy Spirit.
On Sunday we have a common assembly of all our members, whether they live in the city or the outlying districts. The recollections of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as there is time. When the reader has finished, the president of the assembly speaks to us; he urges everyone to imitate the examples of virtue we have heard in the readings. Then we all stand up together and pray.
On the conclusion of our prayer, bread and wine and water are brought forward. The president offers prayers and gives thanks to the best of his ability, and the people give assent by saying, “Amen”. The eucharist is distributed, everyone present communicates, and the deacons take it to those who are absent.
The wealthy, if they wish, may make a contribution, and they themselves decide the amount. The collection is placed in the custody of the president, who uses it to help the orphans and widows and all who for any reason are in distress, whether because they are sick, in prison, or away from home. In a word, he takes care of all who are in need.
We hold our common assembly on Sunday because it is the first day of the week, the day on which God put darkness and chaos to flight and created the world, and because on that same day our savior Jesus Christ rose from the dead. For he was crucified on Friday and on Sunday he appeared to his apostles and disciples and taught them the things that we have passed on for your consideration.“

2nd century convert to Christianity who wrote of the Mass and died for his faith

St. Justin

Image of St. Justin


Feastday: June 1

All the voices around Justin clamored that they had the truth he sought so desperately. He had listened to them all since he first came to Rome to get his education. They each shouted that they held the one and only answer but he felt no closer to the truth than when he had started his studies. He had left the Stoic master behind but the Stoics valued discipline as truth and thought discussion of God unnecessary. He had rejected the Peripatetic who seemed more interested in money than discussion. The Pythagorean had rejected him because he didn't know enough music and geometry -- the things that would lead him to truth. He had found some joy with the Platonists because the contemplation of ideas gave wings to his mind, but they had promised wisdom would let him see God and so, where was God?
There was one place that Justin always escaped to in order to get away from these shouting, confusing voices and search out the quiet inner voice that led him to truth. This place was a lonely spot, a path that seemed made for him alone in a field by the sea. So sure was he of the isolation of his retreat that he was shocked one day to find an old man following him.
The old man was not searching for truth but for some of his family. Nonetheless they began a discussion in which Justin identified himself as a philologian, a lover of reason. The old man challenged him -- why was he not a lover of truth, a lover of deeds. Justin told him that reason led to truth, and philosophy led to happiness. This was certainly an interesting thing for Justin to say since he had not found the truth in the study of reason or happiness in his quest among the philosophers! Perhaps the old man sensed this for he asked for Justin's definition of philosophy and of happiness.
In the long discussion that followed, Justin spoke eloquently to the old man's searching questions but even Justin had to admit that philosophers may talk about God but had never seen him, may discuss the soul but didn't really know it. But if the philosophers whom Justin admired and followed couldn't, then nobody could, right?
The old man told him about the ancient prophets, the Hebrew prophets, who had talked not of ideas but of what they had seen and heard, what they knew and experienced. And this was God. The old man ended the conversation by telling Justin to pray that the gates of light be opened to him.
Inflamed by this conversation, Justin sought out the Scriptures and came to love them. Christ words "possess a terrible power in themselves, and are sufficient to inspire those who turn aside from the path of rectitude with awe; while the sweetest rest is afforded those who make a diligent practice of them."
Why hadn't Justin known about Christianity before with as much as he had studied? He had heard about it, the way other pagans of second century Rome had, by the rumors and accusations that surrounded the persecution of Christians. The fearlessness of their actions made him doubt the gossip, but he had nothing else to go by. Christians at that time kept their beliefs secret. They were so afraid that outsiders would trample on their sacred faith and descrate their mysteries that they wouldn't tell anyone about their beliefs -- even to counteract outright lies. To be honest, there was good reason for their fears -- many actors for example performed obscene parodies of Christian ritual for pagan audiences, for example.
But Justin believed differently. He had been one of those outsiders -- not someone looking for trouble, but someone earnestly searching for the truth. The truth had been hidden from him by this fear of theirs. And he believed there were many others like him. He exhorted them that Christians had an obligation to speak of their faith, to witness to others about their faith and their mysteries.
So Justin took his newfound faith to the people. This layman became the first great apologist for Christianity and opened the gates of light for so many others. He explained baptism and Eucharist. He explained to the pagans why they didn't worship idols and why that didn't make them atheists. He explained to the Jews how Christians could worship the same God but not follow Jewish laws. He explained to the Greeks and the philosophers how philosophy did not take into account the dignity of humankind. He wrote long arguments known as apologies and traveled to other lands in order to debate publicly. His long education in philosophy and rhetoric gave him the skills he needed to match his oponents and the Holy Spirit gave him the rest.
It is not surprising that Justin was arrested during the persecution under Marcus Aurelius. Along with four others (Chariton, Charites, Paeon, and Liberianus) he was brought before the Roman prefect, Rusticus, to be accused under the law that required sacrificing to idols. When Rusticus demanded that they "Obey the gods at once, and submit to the kings," Justin responded, "To obey the commandments of our Saviour Jesus Christ is worthy neither of blame nor of condemnation."
When Rusticus asked what doctrines he believed, Justin told him that he had learned all the doctrines available during his quest but finally submitted to the true doctrines of the Christians, even though they didn't please others. (An understatement when he was under danger of death!)
When Rusticus asked where the Christians gathered, Justin gave a response that gives us insight into Christian community and worship of the time: "Where each one chooses and can: for do you fancy that we all meet in the very same place? Not so; because the God of the Christians is not circumscribed by place; but being invisible, fills heaven and earth, and everywhere is worshipped and glorified by the faithful."
When Rusticus asked each of them if they were a Christian, they all responded the same way: "Yes, I am a Christian." When Rusticus tried to put responsibility for this on Justin, they responded that God had made them Christians.
Just before Rusticus sentenced them he asked Justin, "If you are killed do you suppose you will go to heaven?" Justin said, "I do not suppose it, but I know and am fully persuaded of it."
Justin and his fellow martyrs were beheaded in the year 165 and went to be with the Truth Justin had longed for all his life. He is often known as Justin Martyr and his works are still available.

The Prayer Intentions of Pope Francis for June 2015

June Prayer intentions of Pope Francis:

  • Universal: That immigrants and refugees may find welcome and respect in the countries to which they come.

  • Evangelization: That the personal encounter with Jesus may arouse in many young people the desire to offer their own lives in priesthood or consecrated life.
Pray with and for the Holy Father all month of June!!!

Reflective on a Sunday afternoon

Something about very cloudy, off and on rainy Sunday afternoons; they make one like me very reflective.  I simply ran out of gas today; I had hoped to be at a meeting this afternoon in New Orleans about re-entry programs for ex-inmates.  I did not make it.  I write here often about a holy contentment that is accompanied by fatigue after a busy run of ministry.  After 3 straight nights of ministry during the week, my Saturday/Sunday was pretty busy too.  I was pleased to assist at vigil Mass yesterday at St. Jane de Chantal, my home parish that I am returning to effective July 1st.  Then this morning I was out the door a little past 6 AM and assisted at Most Holy Trinity, the parish I've been at since January 2011 and will be leaving soon, at both the 7 and 9 morning Masses.  At noon I was happy to attend the retirement party of St. Jane's long-time DRE, Ms. Phyllis Richards.  I go way back with Phyllis having taught 8th grade CCD for many years and then helped with many various projects for her after my ordination.  Now after 33 years in the program and 19 as DRE she has retired; we all wish her God-speed.  Then from there, I was back to MHT for the big feast day picnic, a parish tradition.  It was a very nice event and I was so moved by all the parishioners who approached me to tell me how much they are going to miss me at MHT.  So yes, by 2:30 PM my gas tank was running on empty.

So here I sit on a Sunday afternoon with plenty to reflect on, especially today when the Church asks us to contemplate the mystery of the Trinity.  It is a good day to reflect on one God in three Persons and to go to the Father, who created us, the Son, who redeemed us and the Spirit, who sanctifies us in prayer.  In addition to this sublime mystery, my prayer today has me going in so many different directions.  As I mentioned earlier, my wife is struggling with the reality of losing a job she had hoped would actually be her dream job.  It's been a week, and my bride has been keeping very busy.  She will land on her feet job-wise, but for now she joins the ranks of so many folks wanting to work but without a job.  I also pray for her health as she continues to get better from what has been a tough health year.  I also pray for and always have in the back of my mind the upcoming arrival of grandbaby #2 in July and the wedding of daughter #1 next April.  Sometimes I allow myself, even during prayer, to imagine the excitement of these life-changing events. 

On this Sunday afternoon, another day where I can't cut my grass because of the 2 month pattern of unrelenting rain, I am thinking of the days and weeks ahead.  I am enjoying the start of another Adult Faith Formation program, which runs every Tuesday night now through August.  In the coming week, I also get to celebrate anniversary #38 with Wendy; married June 4, 1977.  And in June I will be busy with several transitional events preparing for the move from MHT to St. Jane's.  And then on June 27th we will celebrate the ordination of 19 new Deacons for the Archdiocese of New Orleans! 

Take time to reflect now and then; I find it very beneficial.  And while you are at it, quiet yourself a few extra moments and pray to the Trinity; Father, Son & Holy Spirit.

While we celebrate Trinity Sunday, May 31st is usually the Feast of the Visitation


The Feast Of The Visitation

Feast of the Visitation

May 31 is the Feast of the Visitation, the day on which the Blessed Virgin Mary, having been told at the Annunciation by the angel Gabriel that she had been chosen to bear the Son of God, went to visit her cousin Elizabeth, who herself was pregnant with John the Baptist.
The scene is beautiful: As Mary greets her cousin, the baby leaps in Elizabeth’s womb, and Elizabeth cries out in the words that make up the second sentence of the Hail Mary: “Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb!” Mary, overflowing with joy herself, responds with the Magnificat, a wondrous canticle (a biblical hymn) extolling the greatness of God and thanking Him for the favor He has shown her.
The Magnificat became part of the official evening prayer of the Catholic Church, and even if, as laymen, we do not celebrate the Liturgy of the Hours, we can still incorporate it into our own evening prayers. What better way to remind ourselves on this feast–and every day–of the joy of the Blessed Virgin in bearing our Savior.

Pope Francis on the Mystery of the Trinity

Angelus: On the Mystery of the Holy Trinity

“Today’s liturgical solemnity, while it makes us contemplate the wonderful mystery from which we come from and where we go towards, renews in us the mission of living in communion with God and to live in communion among ourselves…”

Vatican City State, ( Staff Reporter               

The following is a translation of Pope Francis’ address before and after the recitation of the Angelus this afternoon in St. Peter’s Square:
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning and good Sunday!
Today we celebrate the feast of the Holy Trinity, that reminds of the mystery of the one God in three Persons: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The Trinity is the communion of Divine Persons who are with one another, for one another, in one another: this communion is the life of God, the mystery of love of the Living God. But who has revealed to us this mystery? Jesus. He has spoken to us about God as a Father; He has spoken to us of the Spirit; and He has spoken to us of Himself as the Son of God.Thus, He has revealed to us this mystery. And when risen [from the dead], He sent his disciples to evangelize the people, telling them to baptize “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Mt. 28,19). Christ entrusts this command in every time to the Church, who inherited from the Apostles the missionary mandate. He addresses also to each one of us who, by virtue of Baptism, are part of his Community.
Therefore, today’s liturgical solemnity, while it makes us contemplate the wonderful mystery from which we come from and where we go towards, renews in us the mission of living in communion with God and to live in communion among ourselves on the model of that communion of God. We are called to live not without each other, over or against the other, but with one another, and in one another. This means to receive and accordingly give witness to the beauty of the Gospel; to live in love mutually and towards all, sharing in joy and sufferings, learning to ask and to grant forgiveness, valuing the various charisms under the guidance of the Pastors. In one word: we are entrusted with the task of building ecclesial communities that is more and more a family, capable of reflecting the splendor of the Trinity and to evangelize not only with words, but with the strength of the love of God that lives in us.
The Trinity, as I mentioned, is also the ultimate goal toward which our earthly pilgrimage is geared. The path of Christian life is in fact a path that is essentially ”trinitarian”: the Holy Spirit guides us to full knowledge of the teachings of Christ. And it also reminds us of what Jesus taught us.  And Jesus, for his part, has come to the world to make us know the Father, to be lead by Him, to reconcile us with Him. Everything, in Christian life, revolves around the mystery of the Trinity and is fulfilled in this infinite mystery. Let us look, therefore, to keep high the “tone” of our life, reminding ourselves to what end, for what glory we exist, work, struggle, suffer; and to which immense prize we are called [to have].
This mystery embraces our whole life and our whole Christian life. We must remind ourselves every time we make the sign of the Cross: in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. And now I invite you, all together, and with a loud voice, to make this sign of the Cross. Everyone together!
[Makes the Sign of the Cross]
In this last day of May, the Marian month, we entrust ourselves to the Virgin Mary. May She, who more than any other creature has known, adored, and loved the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity, guides us by the hand; help us to grasp, in the events of the world, the signs of the presence of God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. May She helps us to love Jesus wholeheartedly, to walk towards the vision of the Trinity, wonderful goal to which our lives are geared toward. We also ask Her to help the Church, that it may be a mystery of communion, to be always a Church community, a hospitable community, where every person, especially the poor and marginalized, can find acceptance and that feels like a daughter of God, wanted and loved.
After the Angelus, the Pope said the following:
Today in Bayonne, in Francis, the priest Louis-Edouard Cestac was proclaimed Blessed; the founder of the Servant Sisters of Mary; his witness of the love of God and neighbor is a new stimulus for the Church to live with joy the Gospel of charity.
I greet you all, dear Romans and pilgrims: the families, the parish groups, the associations, the schools. In particular, i greet the faithful of La Valletta (Marlta), Cáceres (Spain) and Michoacán (Mexico); those who have come from Caltanissetta, Soave, Como, Malonno and Persico Dosimo; and the group from Bovino, with the “Knights of Valleverde”. I greet the youth who have received or are preparing to receive Confirmation, encouraging them to be joyful witness of Jesus.
At the end of the month of May, I unite myself spiritually to the many expressions of devotion to the Most Holy Mary; in particular I would like to mention to the great pilgrimage of men to the Shrine of Piekary, in Poland, that has as its theme: “The Family: A House of Welcome”. There are many Polish people in the square today! So many! Let’s see you! May Our Lady help every family to be a “welcoming house”
Next Thursday in Rome, we will live the traditional procession of Corpus Domini. At 7:00pm in St. John Lateran Square I will celebrate the Holy Mass, and then we will adore the Most Blessed Sacrament walking to the square of Saint Mary Major. I invite you now to participate in this solemn public act of faith and love to Jesus in the Eucharist, present in the midst of His people.
Before ending, let us all one more time and in one loud voice say: in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, remembering the feast of the Holy Trinity.
To all I wish you a good Sunday. Please, do not forget to pray for me. Have a good lunch and goodbye.
[Translation by Junno Arocho Esteves]

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Another Holy Trinity Homily: The Power of Love

The power of love is a curious thing, makes one man weep, makes another man sing!  More than a feeling, that’s the power of love!
All of us experience the power of love in many and varied ways.  For my wife and me, over these past few weeks, we truly have experienced the power of love!  We recently spent 5 glorious days playing, chasing and loving and being loved by our #1 grandson Calvin Tyler!  We witnessed the joy of marital love at the recent wedding of a beautiful young couple, the bride being a childhood and life-long friend of our daughter Elizabeth.  And we also participated in the power of love of family and a community at the funeral of Wendy’s Uncle Collins.  Yes, in all three of these examples, we experienced the power of love.

As people of faith, we are called to experience the ultimate power of Love: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, three persons in one God: oh most Holy Trinity, undivided unity, Holy God, Mighty God, God Immortal be Adored!

Every year, immediately after Pentecost and at the beginning of Ordinary Time, the Church gives us this Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity.  The Most Holy Trinity is a mystery, the central mystery of Christian faith and life.  It is the mystery of God in Himself!  It is therefore the source of all the other mysteries of faith (CCC 234).  The Most Holy Trinity is indeed the power of love.

For centuries explaining the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity has proven to be a challenge for many.  It may be important to remember the following truths of the Most Holy Trinity:

The Trinity is one! Three Persons in One God!  And each person is wholly and completely God.

Each person of the Trinity is different from the other two.  In other words, they simply are not different roles of the same person, each person has a distinct origin.

The Father, Son and Holy Spirit share one nature and each of them is fully God.

The Most Holy Trinity is truly the power of love.  The Trinity is a communion of love, existing as communion (community) of persons.

For us today, living a life of faith in an increasing hostile world to all things faith, we are called to reflect this communion of love present in the Most Holy Trinity.  Nothing in our present day reality is more under attack than family life and marriage.  Today, on this Solemnity, we should look to the Most Holy Trinity as our supreme model for Christian family life and the Sacrament of Marriage.  The family is also a communion of love, existing as a communion of persons.  Not one, as God is one, the family is still called to a loving unity.  Like the Trinity, family is called to love by a complete and total gift of self, love that loves for the good of the other.  Each of us is called to empty ourselves for the love of another.  There is a certain Trinitarian formula to family life in the love of parents, children and grandchildren or perhaps grandparents, parents and children! 

In marriage, for the love of a couple to truly love, there is that reality that marriage takes three, not two, but three.  For any Christian marriage to endure, Jesus must be at the center of that marriage; again, a kind of Trinitarian formula exists in marriage where the Most Holy Trinity is our model.  The Trinity is all about love and unity.  The Catechism tells us that the Trinity is inseparable in what they are and inseparable in what they do (CCC 267).  This inseparable unity is what God deems present in the Sacrament of Matrimony. 

There is not one Sacrament of service but two.  Marriage is indeed a Sacrament that is ordered to the salvation of others.  It is the responsibility of the one to assist in the journey of salvation of the other.  This too is true of the Sacrament of Holy Orders.  For those called to give their lives in service to the Church, the Most Holy Trinity is also their supreme model.  In Holy Orders, we also see a Trinitarian formula, as the three orders of Bishop, Priest and Deacon exists.  In Holy Orders, the ordained kneels before the Trinity and pledges His life for the salvation of others.  To be faithful to this vocation, the ordained must reflect the power of love of the Most Holy Trinity in who he is and what he does.

As we leave this celebration today and go out to face our realities this week, let’s take the Most Holy Trinity along with us.  Something as simple as praying the Glory Be throughout this week may help us be mindful that the Trinity is with us in all that we do.  What about reverently and prayerfully making the sign of the Cross every time we pray?  And maybe in the week ahead, we can remember the power of love by doing one simple act of love for one person the world deems unlovable.  In our words and actions this week, how well will I reflect the power of that love?

And with a little help from above you feel the power of love, can you feel it?  That’s the power, that’s the power of love!

Oh Most Holy Trinity, undivided unity, Holy God, Mighty God, God Immortal be Adored!

A Homily for the Feast of the Holy Trinity

Homily for Feast of the Holy Trinity

One is the loneliest number that you ever knew, two can be as bad as one its’ the loneliest number since the number one. This song is by Three Dog Night. So we’ve covered 1, 2 and 3. Of course this song is not really about lonely numbers, its’ all about relationships.

Let’s do some congregation participation: how many of us are in a relationship. Well, if you didn’t raise your hand, you may need to explain that to me. We’re all in relationships; husbands and wives, parents and children, aunts and uncles and nieces and nephews, friends and neighbors, coworkers, people of faith! And relationships are complicated.

Take the husband and wife who have been married many years. They truly love each other and have been through a lot. But recently they got into a fight. Soon, they realized it had been a few days since they spoke to each other. Not wanting to be the first to break the silence, the husband faced a dilemma. He needed to be up in the morning at 5 a.m. to catch an important flight for a business trip. But he does not want to be the first to talk. Oh the silly games we play. Then he thought, I’ll leave her a note by her pillow. It said, wake me up by 5 a.m. As morning dawned, he woke and noticed plenty of light. He was furious. It was 7:30 a.m. and way to late to make his flight. Now he was determined to speak to the Mrs. And there it was, just a few inches from his pillow: a note from his wife that said simply, its 5:00 a.m. you better get up or you’ll miss your flight. Like I said, relationships are complicated.
As people of faith we are called to be in relationship with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit; the Trinity.

The Church gives us this great feast of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit in this first week after the conclusion of Easter season. In our readings today, we hear of God the Father as the creator, the doer of mighty deeds. We understand that what God does, God is. We also hear of God the Son, whose identity we share, in his humanity and whose glory we can share if we dare to share in his mission and his suffering. And we hear too that we can share in this mission and be led to our glory by the Spirit of God. And through the Spirit, we become children of God.

God truly knows that relationships are complicated. Our most life-giving and joyful moments come from our relationships. And our most painful experiences in life come when relationships end or grow cold. How much of our time and energy is spent in developing and maintaining healthy relationships? How often do these efforts appear to fail? Yet all around us are examples of wonderful, loving, intimate relationships.

The greatest of these examples is the Most Holy Trinity; Father Son and Holy Spirit! Why? Because the Holy Trinity gives us the model of self-giving love! Ask yourself, how far, how deep, to what extent will God the Father go to reach out to us and love us and invite us into relationship. I can’t figure out a word to adequately describe how far or how deep or to what extent. How far will Jesus, the Son go to love us and save us and invite us into relationship? Look at the crucifix; that far! Adore the Eucharist and receive Him in Holy Communion; that far! No other words will do. How far does the Holy Spirit go to strengthen and sustain us and invite us into relationship? Reread last weeks Pentecost experience and know that we too can have the same experience of the upper room. That far!

Yet still we acknowledge that while the Holy Trinity is a very recognizable tenet of our Catholic faith, it is still the most misunderstood. We teach one God in three persons, we use a three leaf clover or a fleur-de-lis; all to help us relate. Then we can recall the scene of Jesus being baptized in the Jordan and there it is in Scripture: Jesus coming from the water, the Spirit descending like a dove and the voice of the Father booming: you are my beloved Son in you I am well pleased. There it is: God in the Most Holy Trinity; in relationship.

So what do we do with our invitation to relationship with God the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit? Turn to today’s Gospel and follow Jesus’ command: go and make disciples of all nations. How can we do that? Start here at home, within our families and our parish family. Remember, it’s still all about relationships. Pray with the family, heal a relationship, volunteer for at least one parish ministry, return to confession, end your prayer time this week with the Glory Be to the Father and every time you make the sign of the cross; make the sign of the cross. Make it relationship.

Yes relationships are complicated. But we have the example of the one true God, in three persons, in relationship to show us the way. Let me ask again, who here is in a relationship? Now that’s better. One is the loneliest number that you ever knew? I don’t think so. When we focus on One God in Three Persons, it’s the only-est number.

Nothing complicated about it!!!

Familiar with the Athanasian Creed?

Just in time for the Feast of the Most Holy Trinity, the Athanasian Creed, rarely recited unlike the Nicene Creed (at Mass) and the Apostle's Creed (during the Rosary for example), it is the most Trinitarian in formula.  It is believed to have been composed by St. Athanasius, the 4th century Bishop of Alexandria who fought against Arianism.  Therefore, we have a Creed with the beauty of who the Trinity is.  Here is the Creed as translated into English:

Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the catholic faith. Which faith except every one do keep whole and undefiled; without doubt he shall perish everlastingly. And the catholic faith is this: That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity; Neither confounding the Persons; nor dividing the Essence. For there is one Person of the Father; another of the Son; and another of the Holy Ghost. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, is all one; the Glory equal, the Majesty coeternal. Such as the Father is; such is the Son; and such is the Holy Ghost. The Father uncreated; the Son uncreated; and the Holy Ghost uncreated. The Father unlimited; the Son unlimited; and the Holy Ghost unlimited. The Father eternal; the Son eternal; and the Holy Ghost eternal. And yet they are not three eternals; but one eternal. As also there are not three uncreated; nor three infinites, but one uncreated; and one infinite. So likewise the Father is Almighty; the Son Almighty; and the Holy Ghost Almighty. And yet they are not three Almighties; but one Almighty. So the Father is God; the Son is God; and the Holy Ghost is God. And yet they are not three Gods; but one God. So likewise the Father is Lord; the Son Lord; and the Holy Ghost Lord. And yet not three Lords; but one Lord. For like as we are compelled by the Christian verity; to acknowledge every Person by himself to be God and Lord; So are we forbidden by the catholic religion; to say, There are three Gods, or three Lords. The Father is made of none; neither created, nor begotten. The Son is of the Father alone; not made, nor created; but begotten. The Holy Ghost is of the Father and of the Son; neither made, nor created, nor begotten; but proceeding. So there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons; one Holy Ghost, not three Holy Ghosts. And in this Trinity none is before, or after another; none is greater, or less than another. But the whole three Persons are coeternal, and coequal. So that in all things, as aforesaid; the Unity in Trinity, and the Trinity in Unity, is to be worshipped. He therefore that will be saved, let him thus think of the Trinity.
Furthermore it is necessary to everlasting salvation; that he also believe faithfully the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ. For the right Faith is, that we believe and confess; that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and Man; God, of the Essence of the Father; begotten before the worlds; and Man, of the Essence of his Mother, born in the world. Perfect God; and perfect Man, of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting. Equal to the Father, as touching his Godhead; and inferior to the Father as touching his Manhood. Who although he is God and Man; yet he is not two, but one Christ. One; not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh; but by assumption of the Manhood by God. One altogether; not by confusion of Essence; but by unity of Person. For as the reasonable soul and flesh is one man; so God and Man is one Christ; Who suffered for our salvation; descended into hell; rose again the third day from the dead. He ascended into heaven, he sitteth on the right hand of the God the Father Almighty, from whence he will come to judge the living[17] and the dead. At whose coming all men will rise again with their bodies; And shall give account for their own works. And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting; and they that have done evil, into everlasting fire. This is the catholic faith; which except a man believe truly and firmly, he cannot be saved

Friday, May 29, 2015

The Maid of Orleans; martyrd at 19 years of age

St. Joan of Arc

Image of St. Joan of Arc


Feastday: May 30
Patron of soldiers and France
Birth: 1412
Death: 1431

St. Joan of Arc is the patroness of soldiers and of France. On January 6, 1412, Joan of Arc was born to pious parents of the French peasant class, at the obscure village of Domremy, near the province of Lorraine. At a very early age, she heard voices: those of St. Michael, St. Catherine and St. Margaret.
At first the messages were personal and general. Then at last came the crowning order. In May, 1428, her voices "of St. Michael, St. Catherine, and St. Margaret" told Joan to go to the King of France and help him reconquer his kingdom. For at that time the English king was after the throne of France, and the Duke of Burgundy, the chief rival of the French king, was siding with him and gobbling up evermore French territory.
After overcoming opposition from churchmen and courtiers, the seventeen year old girl was given a small army with which she raised the seige of Orleans on May 8, 1429. She then enjoyed a series of spectacular military successes, during which the King was able to enter Rheims and be crowned with her at his side.
In May 1430, as she was attempting to relieve Compiegne, she was captured by the Burgundians and sold to the English when Charles and the French did nothing to save her. After months of imprisonment, she was tried at Rouen by a tribunal presided over by the infamous Peter Cauchon, Bishop of Beauvais, who hoped that the English would help him to become archbishop.
Through her unfamiliarity with the technicalities of theology, Joan was trapped into making a few damaging statements. When she refused to retract the assertion that it was the saints of God who had commanded her to do what she had done, she was condemned to death as a heretic, sorceress, and adulteress, and burned at the stake on May 30, 1431. She was nineteen years old. Some thirty years later, she was exonerated of all guilt and she was ultimately canonized in 1920, making official what the people had known for centuries. Her feast day is May 30.
Joan was canonized in 1920 by Pope Benedict XV.

The Catholic ministry called "Courage"; a great hope for the Church and those with same-sex attraction

Approaching Homosexuality With ‘True Compassion,’ Not ‘Sentimentality’  

Father Paul Check, executive director of Courage International, says that his organization has answers to the pastoral questions the Church has about providing a compelling witness to persons with same-sex attraction.

CNA/Andreas Dueren
Father Paul Check of Courage International
– CNA/Andreas Dueren

WASHINGTON — If the message to the Catholic Church from the recent referendum in Ireland redefining marriage could be expressed in several words it might be “Rome, we have a problem.”
Dublin Archbishop Dairmiud Martin effectively summed up the Church’s communication problem over its teachings on marriage and same-sex attraction: “The Church has a huge task in front of it to find the language to be able to talk to and get its message across to young people.”
Father Paul Check, executive director of Courage International, believes his organization has an effective approach in speaking this language to the modern world. Courage’s members are seeking to showcase their approach at the upcoming World Meeting of Families and the Ordinary Synod of Bishops on the Family and provide pastoral resources through the film documentary Desire of the Everlasting Hills and accompanying study guide — available in nine languages at that point — their five-part catechetical series and two volumes of essays published by Ignatius Press.
In this interview with the Register, Father Check discusses how the Church’s pastoral care for persons with same-sex attraction must navigate between the extremes of severity and sentimentality to show the authentic love and patient example of Jesus speaking with the Woman at the Well.

What image of the Church’s care for persons with same-sex attraction do you wish to show people at the World Meeting of Families?
It’s that the Church understands this question, because she understands the human person: both in terms of how God has created us in his image and likeness and who he has created us to be, and she also understands it from the standpoint of lived experience of those who have same-sex attraction, those who have found their way to, or been drawn to, the heart of Christ in the Church. Because the truth of the Gospel and the love of the Gospel apply as much to that part of our community as any other part, I think the Church is eager to demonstrate that that is the case in very practical and personal ways.

Is there a way of talking about homosexuality that can drive people away from the Church and the care the Church offers for persons with same-sex attractions?
Unfortunately, yes. We probably have some experience of that in the Church, where there has been a lack of proper understanding, welcome and consideration for individual people. I think one of the challenges that the Church faces is that she almost has to deliver two messages at the same time. One is that the forces that are at work widely in civil society are contrary to the human good: say, for example, the approval of same-sex “marriage.” So she has to say that message [on the truth of marriage] for the benefit of the common good.
But as the same time, she has to announce the mercy and understanding, the love of truth, of the Gospel and Jesus Christ, to individual people for whom this is a reality in their lives. So I am afraid that sometimes the first part of the message is heard as a resounding “No,” but there isn’t always understood or received the outstretched hand in pastoral charity. That is a particular challenge.

How do you address the challenge resulting from people who take a severe attitude engaging others on same-sex issues in the name of “charity”?
I think we have to look at the example of Jesus Christ and how we’re supposed to live out the Gospel. There’s a clarity with which Jesus announces the truth. But the proof that he is announcing it in an engaging way — and it’s a criticism of him! — is that he’s always surrounded by the sort of people that, from our [Catholic] point of view, need him the most.
I think there’s a way to encourage people to trust that the Church understands them, understands the tangle of the human heart and knows how to move forward from that. But it’s not done from a position of condescension or severity. Jesus tells us that the truth is to be liberating. What’s it supposed to liberate us from? Confusion, ignorance, self-centeredness, sin. It’s intended to liberate us so that we are able to renew ourselves. And that’s where we find fulfillment.
The Church has been able to announce the Gospel for 2,000 years, and it has not always been done perfectly in every case. But, certainly, we know it can be done, because we see people responding to grace.

But there are other problems on the opposite extreme, correct?
You’ve mentioned severity, and that’s a real danger, but I think the real problem is “sentimentality.”
The wider-spread problem is that we have separated a thoughtful, compassionate response — a sensitive response — from the truth.
In the opening paragraphs of his last encyclical, the pope emeritus makes a distinction between “sentimentality” and “compassion.” He indicates that the former is a counterfeit and that compassion is something based on the truth. I think a question that all Christians need to ask themselves is something very simple: “Do I believe that chastity is part of the good news of the Gospel?”
I’m not sure how widespread that conviction is, especially in an age where sexual promiscuity (in many forms) is responsible for a lot of broken hearts, a lot of sadness, a lot of regrets, a lot of disappointment, pain, suffering. … Why is that? I think we, individually, can test our own conviction about whether chastity is a virtue and something that prepares us for fulfillment in a way that God, in his wisdom for our nature, is very intense for us.

How would you describe the kind of pastoral approach — the language and the tone — that Courage takes with persons who have same-sex attraction? It seems very deliberate.
We try to be very thoughtful about the words we choose, because we want to be thoughtful about how they’ll be heard. One of the great points of St. Thomas Aquinas’s pedagogy is that “Things are received in the mode of the receiver.” So [human beings] have experiences and perceptions that color or filter or influence the way we hear things.
We [at Courage] are trying to be alert to that, so we don’t sound like we’re poking anyone in the eye. I use John 4 as a guide, because I think what Jesus did there will show us what the New Evangelization should look like. And I think it’s also what Pope Francis is going for as well. It’s how Jesus builds a relationship with the Woman at the Well. He doesn’t begin with a discussion of morality. He doesn’t avoid the moral problem — he will get to it in time — but that’s only after he has built a relationship with the person. He has a common interest — a couple of them — that will be the foundation on which the relationship will be built. She’s interested in God, in knowing more about how the life of God is given to her through grace, and she’s interested in eternal life. And Jesus, of course, knows that.
Maybe this is part of that “law of gradualism” that has been brought before us for our consideration in evangelization. And I think it’s a very good model. We can’t expect that everyone will understand everything right away and, of course, instantly accept that they’re being told to change their lives. That doesn’t make any sense, and it doesn’t seem to take into account the patience and goodness of Christ and the way he approached people.
So I think in Courage we’re very interested in forming and building relationships and letting grace do its work: so that people can come to the truth, in their time and according to God’s providence, in a way that is peaceful for them.

What are some practical steps that individuals and parishes can take to actually be authentic and welcoming toward persons with same-sex attraction?
I think a good place to start is to watch our movies. My conviction is that our best ambassadors are our members. They put a face on the Church’s anthropology, on the Catechism, on the nobility of the human spirit, on virtue and on the efficacy of grace. And so now those categories of things that we know are part of the teaching of the Church achieve a lived expression in the lives of individual people. So to watch the movie is to learn about what this means from the point of view of a person who knows what same-sex attraction is, because they live it. But they’re also drawn to the heart of Christ and believe that the message that the Church offers on this topic is the message of Christ. So I would start there.

Regarding the synod on the family, what are the opportunities for developing the pastoral care of persons with same-sex attraction?
We can’t live without friendship, we can’t live without relationships, and we can’t live without people who know us, understand us and value us for who we are. This is an area in which I think we can do more. We need friends to listen to us and to value us, but if they’re real friends, they do all those things out of love for Christ and love for us, and with no sacrifice of the truth.

What is the one thing Courage hopes to contribute to the bishops’ discussion?
I don’t think we can improve on the testimonial of so many of our members. We have a section on our website that is dedicated to them. It’s where I first point people — and to our films. Those people know something about this life, their feelings and what it has brought them to, in terms of their self-understanding: that they now see in the light of the Gospel and the teachings of the Church.
In another realm, we talk about the importance of the communion of saints as a way to help people to understand the reality of the Gospel. Well, here we’re talking about the reality of the Gospel through the eyes of people who are striving to be saints. They have a lot of credibility, it seems to me, especially in a culture where the “personal narrative” or “lived-story experience” is accorded a certain deference. No one says, “That’s not your experience!” So I think that’s a grammar the world understands. It doesn’t understand Christian anthropology, to an extent, and I can see that. So here’s a grammar we can use.
Peter Jesserer Smith is the Register’s Washington correspondent.

Read more:

Faith and miracles and Pope Francis

Pope's Morning Homily: 'Faith Creates Miracles'

Says Spiritual Sterility and Profiteering Leads to Selfish Lifestyle

Vatican City State, ( Junno Arocho Esteves |  

There are three ways of living that Christ reveals in today's Gospel: spiritual sterility, profiteering and a life of faith. This was the central theme of Pope Francis' homily today at Casa Santa Marta.
According to Vatican Radio, the Holy Father reflected on St. Mark's Gospel, which recalled Jesus cursing the fig tree for not giving fruit. The Pope said that the tree represented the first lifestyle: a spiritual sterility that "does not bear fruit and is incapable of doing good."
"To live for one's self; easy, selfish, that does not want problems," he explained. "And Jesus curses the fig tree because it is sterile, because it did not do its part to give fruit. It represents the person who does nothing to help, who lives for himself, so that they lack nothing. Eventually, they become neurotic, all of them! Jesus condemns spiritual sterility, spiritual selfishness."
The second lifestyle, the Pope continued , is that of exploiting others. In the Gospel, Jesus throws out the money changers for turning the house of God "into a den of thieves".
The Jesuit Pope went onto say that the people who would go on pilgrimage to offer sacrifices at the temple were exploited by the priests instead of being taught to pray or given catechesis.
“It was a den of thieves," he said. "Pay and come in … they were performing the rites in an empty way without piety. I don’t know… maybe we’d do well to reflect on whether we encounter similar things going on in some places.  It’s using God’s things for our own profit.”
However, the third lifestyle Pope Francis noted in the Gospel is the life of faith. After Peter sees that the cursed fig tree has withered, Jesus encourages them to have faith.
"Amen, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it shall be done for him," Christ says.
The 78 year old Pontiff said that this is the lifestyle of a person who has faith.
"Ask the Lord who will help you to do good things and with faith," he said. "But there’s one condition: when you begin praying to ask for this thing, if you bear a grudge towards somebody, pardon that person. This is the sole condition because your Father who is in heaven also pardons us for our sins.’ This is the third way of living. It’s faith, a faith to help others to draw closer to God.  This faith creates miracles."
Concluding his homily, Pope Francis called on the faithful to pray in order to have this lifestyle of faith. He also urged them to pray that God "helps us to not fall again, us, each one of us, the Church…in sterility and profiteering."

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Blessed Martyrs of Toulouse who fought against heresy

Martyrs of Toulouse


Feastday: May 29

Twelve martyrs put to death by Albigensian heretics nearToulouse, France, on the eve of the feast of the Ascension. Four diocesan priests, three Dominicans, two Benedictines, two Franciscans, and one layman died singing the Te Deum. They were beatified in 1866.

Executed in England for the crime of being a Catholic Priest

Richard Thirkeld


Feastday: May 29
Death: 1583

  English martyr, also listed as Thirkild. Born in Durham, England, he studied at Oxford and was said to be quite old when he left the isle to receive preparation for the priesthood at Reims and Douai, France. Ordained in 1579, he went back to England and served the Catholics in the area around Yorkshire until his execution for being a priest on May 29 at York.

A question looking for an answer

Why do we treat homosexual sins differently than other sins?

A mere five to ten years ago, the following was considered a tolerant and acceptable stance: Openly supporting and promoting natural marriage, while also being kind and loving towards our homosexual brothers and sisters. Today, that same stance is considered "bigoted hate", and its purveyors must be silenced, shamed, and ruined. To hold such a stance (publicly) is now unacceptable. The haters include the Catholic Church and all faithful Christians who speak up against gay "marriage".

The reaction to the simple and clear teaching on homosexuality is so visceral, so violent, so dark, that even otherwise outspoken and proud Catholics are gun shy on this particular issue, telling me that they are afraid to say anything, nervous to be labeled as evil and heartless, preferring to stay silent. This bullying is occurring in the whole western world at the moment, and it's so awful that even some gay people have (mostly quietly, for their own protection) decried what they see happening.

The Church is pretty much the only voice in the world that is not afraid to speak up against this sin (as she has done with other popular sins in the past), standing clearly for what is True. When the Pope and other Church leaders are bold, the rest of the flock finds the courage to speak as well.

But here's something that I don't understand, and it's perplexed me for years. For some reason, many faithful Catholics treat the sin of homosexual acts and gay "marriage" differently than any other sin, sexual or otherwise.

No faithful Catholic is afraid to say boldly that lying, cheating, stealing, blasphemy, greed, adultery, abuse, fornication, abortion, surrogacy, human cloning, contraception/sterilization -- all are grave sins. All have serious spiritual consequences, and we cringe and hurt to see our loved ones committing any of those sins. We hate those sins! We love the people, but we would never hesitate to speak or write on the wrongness and even the evil of those sins, many of which we have ourselves repented of.

But for some reason, active homosexuality sort of gets a pass, and we're told not to be so hung up on the gay "marriage" issue. I've even been told (more than once) that we should not be voting against gay "marriage" or engaging this issue in the public square, because to do so would make Catholics look "mean" and it will make people dislike us! There is a certain sympathy about this particular sin, and a reluctance to condemn it forcefully, that I don't see in any other area.

After the tragic vote in Ireland ushering in genderless marriage, I was heartened to hear the clarion statement given by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, calling it "a defeat for humanity". There is no question where the Church stands, and firmly. Yet, while I rejoice in the Cardinal's courage, other Catholics believe that statements like this are unhelpful at best, cruel and harmful at worst. They have great concern that such blunt and sweeping statements will not be received well by the LGBT community, that those souls will turn away from the Church, and that evangelization efforts will be hampered.

Here's what doesn't make sense to me about that. Let's say that a once-Catholic nation had been the very first in the world to pass a referendum in which the populace overwhelmingly and joyfully approved abortion. Or adultery. Or euthanasia. Or fill-in-the-blank sin.

Would a forceful Vatican statement against any of those sins be met with disappointment or frustration by the faithful? Would any of my Catholic friends be saying, "We really should not speak that way about [lying, cheating, stealing, blasphemy, greed, adultery, abuse, fornication, abortion, surrogacy, human cloning, contraception/sterilization] because we will offend and alienate [women, doctors, young people, corporate heads, pagans, adulterers, surrogates, etc.]."  Probably not, and yet those groups of people might feel excluded or marginalized or unloved, too. (I'm not being sarcastic, I really mean that.) So, is it that we think of active homosexuality as somehow different from other sins? Or even worse -- is there a sort of soft bigotry going on, where we don't think gay people are capable of hearing and handling the Truth as well as everyone else can?

I've been told that we need to love people, not "condemn" people or make them feel "unwelcome" by speaking Truth out loud and unvarnished. Yet, this is a false dichotomy! We don't choose between Love and Truth. We choose both Love and Truth. In his first encyclical, Lumen Fidei, Pope Francis goes over this, time and again.

There is a micro way to talk about things and a macro way. In the micro, we speak personally to individuals, we get to know them for their own sake, we laugh with them, break bread with them, love them. When sensitive questions arise or questions are asked, we speak the Truth. We are gentle and kind and respectful to all, and if we are not, then woe to us! It will not go well with us as we stand at our Judgement.

But in the macro, the Church as Teacher needs to be unambiguous and clear (and we laity have every right and obligation to repeat that Truth). The moral law is a beacon. It is True for everyone, and when the moral law is transgressed by entire nations, then yes, it is a blow not just to the Church, but to all of humanity. We say this clearly. We don't mince words. We speak the Truth in season and out. Who else will? Who else has been charged by Christ to do so? When we watch a traditionally Catholic nation embrace grave sin with shouts of celebration, we should be heartened, not concerned, to hear our Church speak with a clarion call, denouncing the evil we see.

In the macro, there are millions who do not understand that the Church will never change her teaching on homosexual sin. Most people assume change is coming just around the corner and so settle comfortably in their sin, even feeling "a step ahead" of the lagging Church. In the west, the comfort level for this sin is growing, and more people, not fewer, are becoming lost. If it were any other grave sin, every faithful Catholic would be fighting hard against it, and vocally.

One more thought, and it's personal. For every sinner that is "turned off" or stung by the Church pronouncing unambiguous Truth, there are others, like I was, who desperately need to hear it.

When I was in high school and in the midst of grave sin, I turned to the girl I saw as the most serious and devout of my Catholic friends. I asked her what I should do, whether I should continue on as I had been, down this sinful path (but one I was happy to be on). I will never forget her response. I even remember where I was standing. She placed her hand gently on my forearm, gave me a loving smile, looked me straight in the eye and said: "Leila, I just want you to be happy. You do what makes you happy."

At that moment, I decided to stop worrying about my sin.

She soothed and affirmed me when what I needed to hear was, "Leila, what the hell are you thinking?? You snap out of it right now, turn to God and stay on the straight path! I love you, and I am here to help you!"

I needed her to be the Church for me, not the world. Sure, I felt "loved" in that moment, and that comforting feeling led me to turn from the Truth, for at least a decade.

There are many millions like me out there, who need to hear the Truth clearly, who need to be held accountable to that Truth in order to change. Let's not forget about them and their spiritual needs.

Praise God for the Truth-tellers, and the ones who are not afraid to face the consequences of doing so.

I love being Catholic.
>>>From The Little Catholic Bubble

What "group" of Christians do you belong to

Pope’s Morning Homily: Warns Against Worldly, Indifferent Christians

During Mass at Santa Marta, Speaks About 3 Types of Christians

Vatican City State, ( Deborah Castellano Lubov              

Pope Francis is calling on the faithful to examine what type of Christians they are. During his daily morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta, the Holy Father stressed that there are three key groups of Christians and underscored that Christ's followers are to always bring others closer to him, never create distance.
The Pontiff reflected on today’s Gospel from Mark in which Jesus heals the blind man, who others tried to silence. Bartimaeus, approaches Jesus, who asks what can He do for him. After Bartimaeus told Jesus that he wished to see, the Lord said, ‘Go your way; your faith has saved you.” Immediately, the blind man received his sight and followed Jesus.
The Pontiff suggested that from this reading, we can learn about three types of Christians.
The first group, Francis pointed out, is concerned with their own relationship with Jesus, but is indifferent to others around them.
“This group of people, even today, do not hear the cry of so many people who need Jesus. A group of people who are indifferent: they do not hear, they think that life is their own little group; they are content; they are deaf to the clamour of so many people who need salvation, who need the help of Jesus, who need the Church. These people are selfish, they live for themselves alone. They are unable to hear the voice of Jesus.”
The second group the Holy Father also criticized, saying they do "not want to hear the cry for help, but prefer to take care of their business, and use the people of God, use the Church for their own affairs.” Francis said they "do not bear witness.”
“They are Christians in name, parlour room Christians, Christians at receptions, but their interior life is not Christian, it is worldly. Someone who calls himself Christian and lives like a worldling drives away those who cry out for help from Jesus."
"And then there are the rigorists," he continued, "those whom Jesus rebukes, those who place such heavy weights on the backs of the people. Jesus devotes the whole of the 23rd chapter of St. Matthew to them: ‘Hypocrites,’ he says to them, ‘you exploit the people!’ And instead of responding to the cries of the people who cry out for salvation, they send them away.”
The group we ought to imitate is the third group of Christians, the Pope noted, namely that group which helps others approach the Lord, and draws people closer to Him.
"There is the group that has coherence among that which they believe and how they live, and help [people] approach Jesus, the people that shout, asking salvation, asking for grace, asking for spiritual health for their soul,” the Pope said.
The Holy Father concluded, calling on the faithful to make an examination of conscience and to see whether they draw people closer to Jesus or not.

Take our Catholic faith out into the public square

Cardinal Wuerl in New Pastoral Letter Reflects on Catholic Identity in Public Square

Washington Archbishop Says We Live in 'Age of Challenge' 

Washington, D.C., ( Staff Reporter              

Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, is calling on Catholics to live their Christian identity in public as well as in their own spiritual lives.
The cardinal on Sunday issued a pastoral letter, Being Catholic Today: Catholic Identity in an Age of Challenge (en Español). The cardinal notes that a key part of the pastoral letter reflects on “our freedom to be who we are as followers of Christ and some of the challenges of our age as we try to live and share our faith.”
Catholics are called to manifest God’s kingdom, not only in church walls, “but out in the world, building up the common good,” the cardinal writes. “An encounter with Jesus, which we experience in God’s Word, the sacraments, and our works of charity, can transform our hearts, and inspire us to change our world.”
Today, individual Catholics and Catholic educational, health care and charitable institutions “must reflect a genuine Catholic identity with visible communion with the Church, both universal and local, and fidelity to Catholic teaching.”
Chapters in the cardinal’s pastoral letter address the gift of new life through baptism, reflections on what it means to be a member of God’s family, the ways by which people can see the presence of the Church, what it means to choose to be a follower of Christ, the impact of God’s mercy in people’s lives and in the world, and the Church’s contributions to the wider community.
The cardinal explains that as baptized Catholics, “we are engaged in a new life of the Spirit, so that, working in and through us, the Spirit might transform the whole world.” Catholics “are members of God’s family, his Church,” the cardinal writes. “…The Catholic Church is the living and saving presence of Jesus Christ in the world.”
Noting current challenges Catholics face in living their identity, the cardinal points out how in many parts of the world, Christians are being murdered because of their faith. In the United States, the cardinal says laws, policies and practices are being enacted that infringe on the freedom of individual Catholics to live their faith, and on Catholic ministries to carry out their work while remaining true to Church teaching. “Claims of discrimination should not be allowed to become the new weapon for diminishing religious freedom and outlawing institutional Catholic identity,” he says.
Highlighting the impact of the Catholic Church’s ministries, Cardinal Wuerl notes, “Every day in the Church of Washington, lives are changed through our Catholic education, social service and health care programs as we seek to teach, to serve and to heal as Jesus did. All our works reflect Jesus’ call to be his disciples by sharing his love and hope with others. We serve others regardless of their religion or circumstances not because they are Catholic, but because we are Catholic.”
Catholics and the Church’s outreach programs, “must remain true to who we are,” Cardinal Wuerl adds “…As cultural forces and government actions sometimes make it more difficult for us to carry out our work, we must remain true to our Catholic identity.”

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Patron Saint for skiers especially from the Alps

St. Bernard of Montjoux

Image of St. Bernard of Montjoux


Feastday: May 28
Patron of mountaineers, skiers, the Alps
Birth: 923
Death: 1008

Bernard of Montjoux was probably born in Italy. He became a priest, was made Vicar General of Aosta, and spent more than four decades doing missionary work in the Alps. He built schools and churches in the diocese but is especially remembered for two Alpine hospices he built to aid lost travelers in the mountain passes named Great and Little Bernard, after him. The men who ran them in time became Augustinian canons regular and built a monastery. The Order continued into the twentieth century. He was proclaimed the patron saint of Alpinists and mountain climbers by Pope Pius XI in 1923. He is sometimes fallaciously referred to as Bernard of Menthon and the son of Count Richard of Menthon, which he was not. His feast day is May 28th.
Bernard became patron and protector of skiers because of his four decades spent in missionary work throughout the Alps