Thursday, December 31, 2015

From the Archives: Homily for the Solemnity of Mary, mother of God

I was thinking about making a New Year’s resolution this year. I did not make any last year and it was a pretty good year. Quite simply, I really would like to get in better shape.

All of us at one time or another have made a New Year’s resolution. Most studies show that about 80% of all New Year’s resolutions are broken in about 20 days and completely abandoned before we turn the calendar to February. Ouch!

Then some of us have this wacky tradition of eating certain foods on New Year’s Day. My wife swears by a meal of cabbage, black eyed peas and pork. This is supposed to bring happiness, health and wealth. Well, over the years I guess one out of three ain’t bad.

As people of faith, I have a few questions for us today. Do we take time to reflect this New Year’s Day on this wonderful solemnity the Church provides in honor of Mary the Mother of God? Do we follow the example of Mary to resolve to do God’s will in our lives? And how can we make this our top priority in the year ahead?

You know last week someone asked me why did the Church makes us go to Mass just to celebrate New Years. Then one of my non-Catholic friends asked me recently how can we call Mary the Mother of God when God always existed?

These questions revealed to me that a little catechism lesson may be in order on this first day of the New Year. Of course for all of us here gathered in church today we pretty much know what today’s celebration is all about. Yet I wonder how many Catholics go to church on January 1st and pay little attention to the solemnity. Here are some interesting facts that may help us all appreciate how we come to celebrate this solemnity on January 1st.

From as early as the year 230, Mary was honored by the Church with the title Mother of God. She was referred to as the “theotokos”, which is Greek for “God-bearer”. It is important to note that all this was designed to say more about who Jesus is than to assign titles to Mary. You see there was a great debate in the early church about whether Jesus is fully God and fully human, or if he was two distinct persons, or if his divinity is separate from his humanity. Two great church councils, under the influence of the Holy Spirit, Ephesus and Chalcedon, both in the 5th century, declared once for all that Jesus is one, fully human and fully divine. Therefore, when Mary gave birth to Jesus, she bore the Son who is God and man, the second person of the Holy Trinity. In no way has the Church declared that Mary preexisted God or is mother of God the Father. But since she indeed gave birth to Jesus, her title as Mother of God is affirmed.

In many ways and in different forms, the celebration of Mary as Mother of God has existed since around the year 500. In the mid 18th century, the Pope formally allowed a celebration of Mary’s maternity in Portugal. It gained wide acceptance in Europe and in 1931, was made a universal feast day, although in October. It was Pope Paul VI in 1974 that fixed this solemnity on January 1st and made it a universal celebration.

It is completely and entirely fitting to celebrate Mary as Mother of God on this the octave day of Christmas. We see the Church giving us the Gospel story of the visit of the shepherds to the manger scene in Bethlehem. As the shepherds made known the message they received from the angel, St. Luke writes that Mary kept all these things and reflected on them in her heart. Mary continues to follow God’s will, to reflect on His divine plan and willingly trusting her very life and that of her family in God’s hand.

That’s what we all need to take home with us today. This is what should replace all those silly New Year’s resolutions. Yes, we all can resolve to be better; to improve our health or do something for others in the year ahead. But using Mary, the Mother of God, as our model, we can simply resolve to do God’s will, to reflect more deeply on God’s plan for us in this life and the life to come and follow that plan. And while the journey may not always be easy, like Mary we can keep all these things in our heart. We can be comforted by God in tough times and joyful with God at all times. Just like Mary’s motherhood gave flesh to Jesus, God made man; we too can give flesh to Jesus in our lives and our personal relationship with Him. Mary is our model. We can respond to God with our yes, we can give flesh to our faith life by more devout prayer, responding to the sacraments and being present to our brothers and sisters in Christ. And we can ponder these things, and keep them in our heart, all year long.

Go ahead and make that New Year’s resolution; down that cabbage and black-eyed peas. But resolve to follow God in the year ahead by following Mary’s example with your most sincere yes.

Mary, Mother of God, pray for us.

The 1st Saints Day of the New Year is a Solemn Feast: The Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God

Mary the Blessed Virgin

Image of Mary the Blessed Virgin


Feastday: January 1
Patron of all humanity
Birth: September 8, Nativity of Mary
Death: August 15, Assumption of Mary

Mary, also known as St. Mary the Virgin, the Blessed Virgin Mary, Saint Mary, Mary Mother of God or the Virgin Mary is believed by many to be the greatest of all Christian saints. The Virgin Mother "was, after her Son, exalted by divine grace above all angels and men."
Mary is venerated with a special cult, called by St. Thomas Aquinas, hyperdulia, as the holiest of all creatures. The main events of her life are celebrated as liturgical feasts of the universal Church.
Mary's life and role in the history of salvation is foreshadowed in the Old Testament, while the events of her life are recorded in the New Testament. Traditionally, she was declared the daughter of Sts. Joachim and Anne. Born in Jerusalem, Mary was presented in the Temple and took a vow of virginity. Living in Nazareth, Mary was visited by the archangel Gabriel, who announced to her that she would become the Mother of Jesus, by the Holy Spirit.
She became betrothed to St. Joseph and went to visit her cousin, Elizabeth, who was bearing St. John the Baptist. Acknowledged by Elizabeth as the Mother of God, Mary intoned the Magnificat.
When Emperor Augustus declared a census throughout the vast Roman Empire, Mary and St. Joseph went to Bethlehem, his city of lineage, as he belonged to the House of David. There Mary gave birth to Jesus and was visited by the Three Kings.
Mary and Joseph presented Jesus in the Temple, where St. Simeon rejoiced and Mary received word of sorrows to come later. Warned to flee, St. Joseph and Mary went to Egypt to escape the wrath of King Herod. They remained in Egypt until King Herod died and then returned to Nazareth.
Nothing is known of Mary's life during the next years except for a visit to the Temple of Jerusalem, at which time Mary and Joseph sought the young Jesus, who was in the Temple with the learned elders.
The first recorded miracle of Jesus was performed at a wedding in Cana, and Mary was instrumental in calling Christ's attention to the need. Mary was present at the Crucifixion in Jerusalem, and there she was given into John the Apostle's care. She was also with the disciples in the days before the Pentecost, and it is believed that she was present at the resurrection and Ascension.
No scriptural reference concerns Mary's last years on earth. According to tradition, she went to Ephesus, where she experienced her "dormition." Another tradition states that she remained in Jerusalem. The belief that Mary's body was assumed into heaven is one of the oldest traditions of the Catholic Church.
Pope Pius XII declared this belief Catholic dogma in 1950. The four Catholic dogmas are: Mother of God, Perpetual virginity of Mary, the Immaculate Conception and Assumption of Mary. The feast of the Assumption is celebrated on August 15. The Assumption was the bodily taking up of the Virgin Mary into Heaven at the end of her earthly life. According to Pope Pius XII, the Virgin Mary "having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory."
In 1854, Pope Pius IX proclaimed the dogma of the Immaculate Conception - that Mary, as the Mother of the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, was free of original sin at the moment of her conception. The feast of the Immaculate Conception is celebrated on December 8. The birthday of Mary is an old feast in the Church, celebrated on September 8, since the seventh century.
Other feasts that commemorate events in the life of the Blessed Virgin Mary are listed in the Appendices. Pope Pius XII dedicated the entire human race to Mary in 1944. The Church has long taught that Mary is truly the Mother of God .
The Blessed Virgin Mary may be taken as a patroness of any good activity, for she is often cited as the patroness of all humanity. Mary is also associated with protecting many occupations and locations.
St. Paul observed that "God sent His Son, born of a woman," expressing the union of the human and the divine in Christ. As Christ possesses two natures, human and divine, Mary was the Mother of God in his human nature.
This special role of Mary in salvation history is clearly shown in the Gospel where she is seen constantly at her son's side during his soteriological mission. Because of this role, exemplified by her acceptance of Christ into her womb, her offering of him to God at the Temple, her urging him to perform his first miracle, and her standing at the foot of the Cross at Calvary Mary was joined fully in the sacrifice by Christ of himself.
Pope Benedict XV wrote in 1918: "To such an extent did Mary suffer and almost die with her suffering and dying Son; to such extent did she surrender her maternal rights over her Son for man's salvation, and immolated him - insofar as she could in order to appease the justice of God, that we might rightly say she redeemed the human race together with Christ."
Mary is entitled to the title of Queen because, as Pope Pius XII expressed it in a 1946 radio speech, "Jesus is King throughout all eternity by nature and by right of conquest: through him, with him, and subordinate to him, Mary is Queen by grace, by divine relationship, by right of conquest, and by singular election."
Mary possesses a unique relationship with all three Persons of the Trinity, thereby giving her a claim to the title of Queenship. She was chosen by God the Father to be the Mother of his Son; God the Holy Spirit chose her to be his virginal spouse for the Incarnation of the Son; and God the Son chose her to be his mother, the means of incarnating into the world for the purposes of the redemption of humanity.
This Queen is also our Mother. While she is not our Mother in the physical sense, she is called a spiritual mother, for she conceives, gives birth, and nurtures the spiritual lives of grace for each person. As Mediatrix of All Graces, she is ever present at the side of each person, giving nourishment and hope, from the moment of spiritual birth at Baptism to the moment of death.
In art, Mary is traditionall portrayed in blue. Her other attributes are a blue mantle, crown of 12 stars, pregnant woman, roses, and/or woman with child.
Hundreds of thousands of pieces of Marian artwork and sculptures have been created over the years from the best and most brilliant artists, like Michelangelo and Botticell, to simple peasant artists. Some of the most early examples of veneration of Mary is documented in the Catacombs of Rome. Catacomb paintings show Mary the Blessed Virgin with her son.
The confidence that each person should have in Mary was expressed by Pope Pius IX in the encyclical Ubipriinum : "The foundation of all our confidence. . . is found in the Blessed Virgin Mary. For God has committed to Mary the treasury of all good things, in order that everyone may know that through her are obtained every hope, every grace, and all salvation. For this is his will, that we obtain everything through Mary."

The abitadeacon looks back on 2015; what a tumultous year; both setbacks and great joy

New Year's Eve around 8 pm and my wife and I are cozy and comfortable and celebrating the 31st day of December just the way we like to; quietly.  If only I could get some of the firework crazy neighbors to adopt the concept of quiet!

I want to look back and reflect but quite a bit differently than years past.  I do not feel the need to recap big stories and top stories from this years blogging effort but to simply reflect and share about the year that quickly is coming to a close.

I mentioned in the title that there was both setbacks and great joy.  This is profoundly truthful.  We started the year very status quo and had no idea the sheer number of things that would be different by January 1, 2016.  Let me start with the year that my dear wife Wendy had.  To say her year was a tough year would be a tremendous understatement.  Wendy suffered 3 medical setbacks in 2015, all cardio-vascular related.  Early in the year she was diagnosed with iliac artery blockages and had a procedure that called for the insertion of two stents.  Procedure successful but Wendy never felt relief as she though relief should feel like.  I'll fast forward to November when we would revisit this whole scene again.  The stents themselves blocked and she had two more inserted.  This time she is doing much better.  In the summer time we had a scare when Wendy experienced intense chest pain.  Thinking she may be suffering a heart attack, she was rushed to the hospital and thankfully diagnosed with severe angina; no heart attack; great news.  I sometimes wonder if an incredible professional setback contributed to some of her medical problems.  Let me explain.  In 2014 Wendy left a CPA firm she worked at for years to follow a "professional" friend to a private industry job.  All Wendy did was convert their entire accounting systems, upgrade software and worked about 55 hours a week, week after week for this "friend".  Then once Wendy fully trained the friend on the new systems, Wendy was summarily dismissed, no explanation, no severance, no nothing.  Devastating to my wife as she has worked every day of her post-college life, all in accounting.  This happened in May, Wendy remained unemployed to just a few days ago.  Unemployment is always devastating but for this to happen the way it did, and yes, coming at Wendy's age, she suffered much indignation on the job hunt trail.  Never did Wendy lose hope, her dignity and most importantly, her faith.  She refused to bad-mouth the "friend" which I found amazing and noble.

But 2016 was full of great, dare I say profound joy.  In February, when everybody else was Mardi Gras mad, Wendy and I rendezvoused with our son and daughter-in-law in the mountains of western North Carolina for a ski vacation.  The great joy was simply the fact that we had a week in a winter wonderland with our #1 grandson Calvin!!  That would be our only visit with our beautiful grandson until a truly joyous event took place in July: the birth of our #1 granddaughter Katelyn.  It would take Wendy and I about 3 weeks after her birth before we got to see her, hold her and just marvel that we were grandparents for the second time.  How awesome was this!  And this visit gave us much time to keep Calvin busy while mom and baby were taking care of business.  There would be two more glorious visits to North Carolina; September for Calvin's 3rd birthday; yes I said 3rd!  We went back in early December for our Christmas visit.  These are nothing short of great memories and profound joy!  I also remain amazed and grateful that our family makes sure we Skype with the grandkids almost every single weekend!

More profound joy in 2015 when it became very apparent to Wendy and I that our daughter Elizabeth was getting incredibly serious with her boyfriend Mark.  In early May the plan was hatched, Mark would be proposing to our daughter at the top of the Abita Springs gazebo.  A ring and a date and now the happy couple is counting down the days until April 30 2016; wedding day!  There will be plenty of parties and preparation between now and then.  Congratulations to Elizabeth & Mark.

I had an unexpected change in my ministry this past year when word came down that the Archbishop would be transferring me from my almost 5 years at Most Holy Trinity back to my home parish of St. Jane de Chantal in Abita Springs.  From the time it was announced until it became time to leave was very emotional.  The folks at MHT were so genuine in expressing how they wished I was staying while old and new friends alike at St. Jane's were excited about my return home.  Actually leaving MHT was so difficult and they sent me off with a grand farewell.  To this day, now some almost 6 months later I do miss them.  But my arrival at St. Jane's was equally glorious.  I am so back in the saddle and enjoying the role I play at St. Jane's.  A source of profound joy for me was helping to organize a big adult faith Bible Study that still has over 70 participants 4 months in. 

Always a source of great joy as a Permanent Deacon is my prison ministry at Rayburn Correctional which this year saw a couple of exciting weekend retreats for the men.  I also count every Baptism, every wedding as another source of profound joy.  And the little bit of help I was able to offer the 2015 candidates in formation, especially in homiletics, is too joyful.  These men were ordained in June here in the Archdiocese of New Orleans but sadly, and very disappointingly, I missed this ordination.  Sometimes you just can't be two places at one time.

As a blogger how exciting was it to document the trip to America of Pope Francis and to report on the Jubilee Year of Mercy.  Blogging disappoint both in the spring and a couple of weeks ago have cause me some angst; even contemplating moving this blog to another host.  Simply, just stand by.

So as I sit here at home on this New Year's Eve that's my look back on 2015.  I profoundly thank God for all His many blessings and even the challenges that help us grow in holiness. 

Here is to 2016.  My prayer is for all of us to experience greater growth in holiness, a closer relationship with God, and blessings for us all.  And my personal prayer intention is for a year of great blessings and profound joy and happiness for my wife Wendy; she deserves it!!!

See you all in 2016!

The religious and liturgical significance of January 1st

5 Things You Might Not Know About January 1st

The day's religious roots run deep.

If someone asked you about the significance of the January 1, what would you say? The first thing that would probably come to your mind would be that it is New Year’s Day. And, you might possibly cite it as the biggest hangover day of the year. If you’re really up on your Catholic Faith, you would remember that the Church honors Mary as Mother of God on that day. You’d be correct about all three of these things, but did you know that there’s more to it?

 Here are five things that you might not know about January 1:
1. January 1 is the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. A solemnity is a liturgical celebration that is different from feast days and memorials. All three honor the Saints or special aspects of Jesus and Mary, but solemnities are the highest degree of celebration and are reserved for the most important mysteries of the Faith. Solemnities include Easter, Pentecost, the Immaculate Conception, the main titles of Jesus, and Saints that are of particular importance in salvation history. Solemnity masses have the same basic elements as Sunday ones, including all three readings, prayer of the faithful, the Creed, and Gloria. Some solemnities are also holy days of obligation but these vary from country to country according to the standards set by the bishops’ conferences. In the United States, January 1 is a holy day of obligation.
2. The Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, is celebrated on the Octave of Christmas. Octave comes from the Latin word for “eight,” and is the name for the ancient Church practice of celebrating Christmas for eight days. The tradition dates back to the Old Testament, when the Hebrew people observed many of their feasts for a period of eight days. For example, the “Feast of Tabernacles” and the “Dedication of the Temple.” Later, the Roman Emperor Constantine added the celebration of the dedication of basilicas to this tradition. In the past, there were several feasts that were celebrated with octaves; since Vatican Council II, only Easter and Christmas have octaves.
The reason the Hebrews celebrated for eight days was that life was so hectic for them and families struggled under pressures and divisions caused by pagan traditions; the Church granted a period of eight days, so that families could more fully take in the importance of these liturgical feasts. With Christmas bearing the importance that it does, it’s no wonder the Church allows us eight days of special contemplation (although traditionally the Christmas season ends with the Baptism of Jesus, celebrated on January 11 this year).
3. Mother of God, or in Greek Theotokos, is the highest title ever to be given to Mary. She was given this title during the Council of Ephesus in 431 AD. The Council taught that Jesus’ humanity and divinity could not be separated, and therefore Mary rightly deserved the title Mother of God. Mary brought Jesus into the world, and so she truly is God’s mother, since Jesus is the second person of the Trinity.
4. The Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, is the oldest feast of Mary celebrated in the Catholic Church.
5. Mary not only is Mother of God but she also is truly your mother. When she said yes to Gabriel at the Annunciation, she said yes to being Jesus’ mother, and at that same moment gave her yes to becoming our spiritual mother.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that Mary is our mother in the order of grace.

“Her role in relation to the Church and to all humanity goes still further. In a wholly singular way she cooperated by her obedience, faith, hope, and burning charity in the Savior’s work of restoring supernatural life to souls. For this reason she is a mother to us in the order of grace."

"’This motherhood of Mary in the order of grace continues uninterruptedly from the consent which she loyally gave at the Annunciation and which she sustained without wavering beneath the cross, until the eternal fulfillment of all the elect. Taken up to heaven, she did not lay aside this saving office but by her manifold intercession continues to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation . . . . Therefore the Blessed Virgin is invoked in the Church under the titles of Advocate, Helper, Benefactress, and Mediatrix." (CCC 968, 969)

Mary’s role as our mother began at the Annunciation and continues for all Eternity. Because she loves her Son so very much, she loves us tenderly as members of his Mystical Body.

The Catholic Church at the South Pole

Inside Antarctica’s Catholic Ice Chapel, the World’s Southernmost Church

>>>My note: This is another wonderful example of why the Catholic(universal) Church is the true Church of Jesus Christ.  To fulfill the mission of Christ as Christ intended, the Church has to be universal!  Ask yourself, is your Church everywhere?  Does it function in every time zone of the globe?  Does it function on every continent, in every nation?  Does it function in even every nook and cranny of your own nation or dare I ask, state?
See Mark 16:15.  Preaching the good news, baptizing new Christians, offering proper worship to God, in every corner of the globe.  That is the Catholic Church!
by -
Praising God at the South Pole!
via adventure-network
Antarctica is an amazing giant continent at the south pole of our globe. Braving winter temperatures of over a hundred degrees Fahrenheit below zero, a few thousand people live there at any given time. And because, like normal people, they have spiritual needs, there are a number of chapels at the various bases.
It just so happens that the southernmost chapel (of any religion) is a Catholic chapel at the Argentinian Belgrano II Base (still over 800 miles from the south pole). And it has a unique attribute: it is carved out of pure ice.
That’s right, it’s in a permanent ice cave.

More story, more pictures:

Pope Francis assures us that he does not bite

Pope Francis: “I don’t bite”

December 31, 2015
From Vatican Radio:
Pope Francis received the Pueri cantores on Thursday morning in the Paul VI Hall in the Vatican. The international young choristers’ organization has been holding its annual meeting in Rome this week, six days of festivities, culminating on New Year’s Day with some of them participating in Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica.
The motto of the Congress this year is Cantate spem vestram! “Sing out your hope!” – a theme on which Pope Francis reflected extensively in unscripted remarks to the choristers on Thursday morning. “Christian life is a journey,” said Pope Francis, “it is a joyful journey: sing, then, for this.”
The Holy Father offered his remarks in response to a series of questions from a select few of the more than 4 thousand participants, questions that ranged from whether Pope Francis ever gets angry, to what he wanted to be when he grew up. “When I was a boy,” said Pope Francis in answer to the second question, “I thought about becoming a butcher,” explaining that he always enjoyed to see the butchers about their trade in their market stalls in the Buenos Aires of his childhood.
In answer to the first, he said, “Yes, but I don’t bite,” and warned against letting what is a normal and inevitable human reaction to injustice or even irksome behavior in others, not become a habit. “Anger is poison,” he said, “it poisons your soul,” if too long or too often indulged.
The third of Pope Francis’ young interlocutors asked him also whether the world will always be as we see it on the nightly news, which often seems full of nothing but bad, sad and even tragic stories. “This struggle between the devil and God,” answered Pope Francis, “will continue until the end of days.” He went on to say, “We all have inside each of us a battlefield – inside each of us there is a struggle between good and evil: we have graces and temptations, and we need to talk with the parish priest and with our catechists about these things, in order to understand them well.” Still, there are many bright spots. “There are many good things in the world,” he said, “and I wonder: why aren’t these good things publicized?” When we watch television, then, “think of the many, many people – so many holy people – who give their whole lives in order to help others,” in deed and in prayer – laity, priests and religious alike.
After a brief choral interlude, Pope Francis offered his blessing and best wishes for the New Year, and said, “We’ll see you tomorrow in St. Peter’s Basilica – it will be a pleasure.”

Ahh, those deuling Bishops of Illinois

Bishop Paprocki To Abp Cupich, “Set the Record Straight”

by Christine Niles  •
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. ( – In a rare move, the bishop of Springfield, Illinois is publicly correcting fellow Illinois prelate Abp. Blase Cupich of Chicago and his false notion of “conscience.”
In a letter to the editor published over the weekend in The State Journal-Register, Bp. Thomas Paprocki responded to a local dissenting Catholic who had praised Abp. Cupich for his erroneous remarks about Holy Communion. John Freml, author of the letter and local leader in the dissident groups Call to Action and Equally Blessed, had written on December 20:
As Archbishop Cupich said, “I think that when people come for Communion, it’s not up to any minister who’s distributing the Eucharist to make a decision about a person’s worthiness or lack of worthiness. That’s on the conscience of those individuals.”
I hope that local Catholics who have previously refrained from participating in Communion will take to heart Jesus’ message: “Take this, all of you, and eat it.” Remember that Jesus welcomed everyone to the table without condition, even Judas.
Freml was referring to Cupich’s recent remarks made during and after the 2015 Synod on the Family, where he implied that Holy Communion should be open not just to the divorced and remarried, but also to others in “irregular unions.” At a Synod press briefing in October, Cupich had said, “When people come to a decision in good conscience, then our job with the Church is to help them move forward and to respect that. The conscience is inviolable, and we have to respect that when they make decisions, and I’ve always done that.”
In response, Bp. Paprocki wrote that “[it] is important to set the record straight,” and that, contrary to Cupich’s claims, “Canon 916 directs those ‘conscious of grave sin’ to refrain from receiving Holy Communion.” He continued:
Individuals must form their consciences in accord with Church teaching. Conscience assesses how a person’s concrete action in a given situation accords with Church teaching — not to determine whether one agrees with or accepts Church teaching in the first place.
The bishop went on to clarify that Canon 915 mandates clergy to withhold Communion from manifest, public, grave sinners. This includes those joined in invalid, non-sacramental marriages, considered adultery in Catholic teaching. Refusing Communion to such people is not about “assessing personal worthiness,” Paprocki explains, but rather meant to protect the Sacrament from sacrilege as well as prevent the harm of scandal “caused by someone’s public conduct that is contrary to the teachings of Jesus Christ.”
It is true that Jesus welcomes everyone. But as Jesus said at the Last Supper, so we say in the eucharistic prayer at Mass, Jesus poured out His blood “for you and for many,” since not everyone accepts what Christ offers, just as Judas did not accept what Christ offered him.
Bishop Paprocki has headed the Springfield diocese since 2010, and during his tenure has developed a reputation for orthodoxy. Archbishop Cupich, on the other hand, has developed a more questionable reputation during his brief time as head of the Chicago archdiocese, and has a history of willingness to offer the Eucharist to those not in communion with the Church.
In November 2014, when asked point blank on CBS’ “Face the Nation” whether he would give Holy Communion to pro-abortion politicians, Cupich answered, “I would not use the Eucharist or, as you say it, the Communion rail as a place to have those discussions or a way in which people would be … excluded from the life of the Church” — this in spite of the fact that his position contradicts canon 915 of the Catholic Code of Canon Law, which states that those “obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion.”
And in a televised funeral Mass in April over which Abp. Cupich presided, the Protestant governor of Illinois, in violation of the norms of the Church, was given Holy Communion — a sacrilege. When reached out to the archdiocese to ask whether it had contacted the governor’s office ahead of time to advise that non-Catholics should not approach to receive Holy Communion, the archdiocese responded by saying that “when any person presents himself or herself for Holy Communion, the Minister of Communion presumes that the person can receive Communion.”

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

A long reigning Pope from the 4th century

Image of St. Sylvester


Feastday: December 31

St. Sylvester, born in Rome, was ordained by Pope St. Marcellinus during the peace that preceded the persecutions of Diocletian. He passed through those days of terror, witnessed the abdication of Diocletian and Maximian, and saw the triumph of Constantine in the year 312. Two years later he succeeded St. Melchiades as Bishop of Rome. In the same year, he sent four legates to represent him at the great Council of the Western Church, held at Aries. He confirmed it's decision and imparted them to the Church.
The Council of Nice was assembled during his reign, in the year 325, but not being able to assist at it in person, on account of his great age, he sent his legates, who headed the list of subscribers to its decrees, preceding the Patriarchs of Alexandria and Antioch. St. Sylvester was Pope for twenty-four years and eleven months. He died in the year 335. His Feast Day is December 31st

Today's General Audience and Pope Francis reflects on Jesus becoming a child to teach us humility

FULL TEXT: Pope Francis’ Final Catechesis for 2015

On the mystery of God who humbled himself and became a Child

Pope Francis wednesday general Audience December 30, 2015
© Antoine Mekary / ALETEIA
VATICAN CITY — Devotion to the Child Jesus is the secret to growing in humility, Pope Francis said in his final general audience catechesis for 2015.
On this last Wednesday of the year, the pope invited pilgrims gathered in a chilly St. Peter’s Square to enter into “the school of the Virgin Mary,” to meditate on the humility of God who became a child to save us.
“This is a great mystery. God is humble! We who are proud, filled with vanity and believe we are a big deal, we are nothing! He, the great One, is humble and becomes a child,” he said.
The pope  called on the Christian faithful to renounce any claims to a false autonomy, and “to welcome instead the true form of freedom, which consists in knowing the one who stands before us, and serving him.”
Here below we publish a translation of Pope Francis’ final general audience catechesis for 2015.
Brothers and sisters,
Good morning. During these Christmas days the Child Jesus is placed before us. I am sure that, in our homes, many families still set up a nativity scene, carrying on this fine tradition that dates back to St. Francis of Assisi and keeps alive in our hearts the mystery of God who becomes man.
Devotion to the Child Jesus is very widespread. Many saints cultivated it in their daily prayer and desired to model their lives on that of the Child Jesus. I think especially of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, who as a Carmelite nun took the name of “Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face.” She — who is a Doctor of the Church — knew how to live and bear witness to that “spiritual childhood,” which one assimilates by meditating, in the school of the Virgin Mary, on the humility of God who for our sake became a child. And this is a great mystery, God is humble! We who are proud, filled with vanity and believe we are a big deal, we are nothing! He, the great One, is humble and becomes a child. This is truly a mystery! God is humble. This is beautiful!
There was a time when, in the divine-human person of Christ, God was a child, and this must have its own special meaning for our faith. It is true that his death on the cross and his resurrection are the ultimate expression of his redeeming love, but let us not forget that all his earthly life is revelation and teaching.
During the Christmas season we remember his Childhood. To grow in the faith, we need to contemplate the Child Jesus more often. Of course, we do not know anything about this period in his life. The few indications we possess refer to the imposition of his name after eight days after his birth, and his presentation in the Temple (cf. Luke 2:21–28); and also the visit of the Magi with the subsequent flight into Egypt (cf. Matt. 2:1–23). Then, there is a big jump to age 12 when, with Mary and Joseph, he goes on pilgrimage to Jerusalem for the Passover, and instead of returning with his parents, stops in the Temple to speak with the doctors of the law.
As we see, we know little about the Child Jesus, but we can learn much from him if we look at the lives of children. It’s a lovely habit that parents and grandparents have, to watch children and what they do.
We discover, first of all, that children want our attention. Why do they have to be at the center? Because they are proud? No! Because they need to feel protected. We also need to place Jesus at the center of our lives and know — even though it may seem paradoxical — that we are responsible for protecting him. He wants to stay in our arms. He desires to be cared for, and to be able to fix his gaze on ours. Also, it brings a smile to the Child Jesus to show him our love and our joy because he is in our midst. His smile is a sign of love that gives us the certainty of being loved.
Lastly, children love to play. Playing with a child, however, means abandoning our logic to enter into his. If we want him to have fun, we need to understand what pleases him, and not be selfish and make them do things that we like. It’s a lesson for us.
Before Jesus, we are called to give up our claim to autonomy — and this is the crux of the problem: our claim to autonomy — to welcome instead the true form of freedom, which consists in knowing the one who stands before us, and serving him. He, a child, is the Son of God who comes to save us.
He came among us to show us the face of the Father who is rich in love and mercy. Let us hold tight the Child Jesus in our arms, placing ourselves in his service. He is the source of love and serenity. It will be a good thing, today, when we go home, to go near the crib and kiss the Baby Jesus and say, “Jesus, I want to be humble like you, humble like God,” and ask of him this grace.

Get ready to pray the Pope's intentions for January 2016

Asking God for fruits of peace, unity from interreligious dialogue and ecumenism

Staff Reporter | | | Pope and Holy See | Rome           

At the start of the new year, Pope Francis will be praying that interreligious dialogue will produce fruits of peace.

The Apostleship of Prayer announced the intentions chosen by the Pope for January 2016.

His universal prayer intention is: “That sincere dialogue among men and women of different faiths may produce the fruits of peace and justice."

His intention for evangelisation is: “That by means of dialogue and fraternal charity and with the grace of the Holy Spirit, Christians may overcome divisions."

Looking for suggestions

Do readers of this blog have any suggestions as to finding another host for the abitadeacon?

Fool me once shame on you; twice, shame on me.

I experimented with Word Press last year, it was ok.

Blogger experiences too many problems to continue this way so I appreciate any suggestions!

Holy Day of Opportunity Alert

Yes, January 1st is a Holy Day of Obligation, better said: Holy Day of Opportunity!!
Not because it's New Years Day, it is the day the Church gives honor to Mary as the Mother of God.  Catholics must attend Mass either tomorrow night at the vigil or Friday.
And yes we do it all over again for Sunday for the celebration of the Epiphany.  Don't be a wimpy Catholic, joyfully go to Mass twice this week, it's ok.
And how awesome this all occurs during Christmas season.  See you in church twice this week.

Saying goodbye to Father William

I went to the St. Joseph Abbey and said goodbye to Father William MacCandless, OSB, last night.  Work prevents me from attending todays funeral Mass.  I stood in silence in the dark outside the grand Abbey Church while the monks received his body, singing a beautiful chant about arise from your sleep and let the light of Christ shine on you.  They escorted his body into the Church and his coffin was stationed in the sanctuary while the community prayed evening vespers.

At the end of Vespers, his coffin was opened and his brother monks, led by the Abbot went to pay respects and whisper their personal farewell.  Then we were able to go up into the sanctuary and do the same.  For me, my time spent at the side of his coffin was a time for prayer, remembrance and a simple but heartfelt "thank-you".

I've already shared the impact this wonderful priest and monk had in my journey back to the Church, back to a life in Jesus Christ.

Well done, Father William, well done.  Now may you rest in the eternal embrace of your Heavenly Father!

In the meantime, what about the weather

I love the autumn and winter months; they are my favorite time of the year.  Somehow, when I wasn't looking autumn just blew right past me and winter began last week.  I probably did not notice that either as our first 10 days or so of winter have been unseasonably warm and incredibly wet.  In fact the whole October until today has been similar.  I feel like I am missing out on my favorite time of the year.  Sure, we have football and holidays and the air isn't as oppressive as the summer, but I sure have missed the seasonal weather.

This morning we were told that this rain that moved in last night will now be with us for both New Year's Eve and New Year's Day; fun:(

Sometimes when this happens the months of January and February bail us out and act winter-like; and sometimes they can feel like spring.  So we accept what we get because surely we can do nothing about this.

In the meantime, enjoy Christmas and the upcoming New Year and hang on because Mardi Gras starts in about 1 week!

But can we have a little less rain??

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Hats off to the "Mad Hatter" and the LSU Football Tigers!

What a crazy up, way up, down, depressingly down, up again and now really up year for the LSU Tigers.  The final record for LSU will reflect 9 wins after suffering humiliating losses to Alabama, Arkansas and Ole Miss.  Then we all experienced the Les is gone, Les might stay, Les is staying fiasco foisted on Tiger fans courtesy of Joe Alleva and others.

Bottom line is LSU is full, and I mean full of super talented student athletes and #7, Leonard Fournette is the best one yet.  LSU has got to win more games and win bigger when they can; they have to play the game to always be in the hunt, not just by the end of October.  LSU has to be a threat to Alabama and has to beat the Western Kentucky's of the world by 40 and more.  And then can.  Coaching is always the mystery.  Les Miles is staying and I am glad about that but I do want to see improvement.  Cam Cameron totally has the confidence of Les Miles; no idea of this Kevin Steele on defense.  My humble opinion is he is a net negative.

In any event, LSU went to a bowl game against a decent Texas Tech team and flat out beat some Red Raider a**.  Now there were times when the LSU defense was confounding; giving up big play after big play mostly on 3rd down.  And then not until he woke up mid 3rd quarter was Brandon Harris doing much.  But he did wake up and the defense scored a big turnover and the rest is history.  As I am writing this LSU has scored 56 points and is leading by 29.  Great overall game and we LSU fans cherish the results.

So a tip of the LSU cap to Les Miles, who survived the foolishness and lives to coach another day; another year.  And a tip of the cap to a bunch of LSU players who I believe can only get better!

Thanks for a not so boring year; let's commit to even bigger and better things in 2016!

Dominican Martyr in China; canonized Saint by St. Pope JPII

St. John Alcober


Feastday: December 30
Death: 1748
Canonized By: Pope John Paul II

Dominican martyr of China. Born in Gerona, Spain, he entered the Dominicans, being sent in 1728 to China as a missionary. Arrested in 1746 by Chinese officials, he was held in prison until strangled to death. He died with Blessed Peter Sanz and other Dominicans.

Father Longenecker explains why he converted and teaches us all why the Catholic Faith alone is the fullness of truth

Why I Converted to the Catholic Faith

Celebrating Mass in St Peter's
Celebrating Mass in St Peter’s
I was brought up in a Protestant fundamentalist home. We saw all the different denominations, but we considered them all to be man made institutions. None of them were God-given, so you just chose the one that was best for you.
It is commonplace within Protestant circles to believe that the early church was similar to the church today with its proliferation of different denominations, and that just as Protestants today say, “It doesn’t really matter what church you go to, as long as you love Jesus”–so it was in the early church.
So were there lots of different churches in the first couple of centuries?
Yes, there were actually lots of different groups. The uncomfortable problem for the Protestants is that these different sects were identified by the apostolic church as heretics and schismatics.
In his famous work Against the Heresies Irenaeus–the saintly Bishop of Lyon wrote about all the different little groups who made claims to authenticity and gave them a sure fire way of knowing the truth. Writing in about the year 125 he says,
“It is possible, then, for everyone in every church, who may wish to know the truth, to contemplate the tradition of the apostles which has been made known throughout the whole world. And we are in a position to enumerate those who were instituted bishops by the apostles and their successors to our own times—men who neither knew nor taught anything like these heretics rave about.
“But since it would be too long to enumerate in such a volume as this the successions of all the churches, we shall confound all those who, in whatever manner, whether through self-satisfaction or vainglory, or through blindness and wicked opinion, assemble other than where it is proper, by pointing out here the successions of the bishops of the greatest and most ancient church known to all, founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul, that church which has the tradition and the faith which comes down to us after having been announced to men by the apostles.
With this church, because of its superior origin, all churches must agree—that is, all the faithful in the whole world—and it is in her that the faithful everywhere have maintained the apostolic tradition”
Those who say there were lots of little churches around in the early days have a point. It’s not much different now I guess–except in scale. The principles are the same, and Irenaeus’ words still ring true.
When a Catholic like myself asserts this truth it makes many Protestants howl with rage. I understand. They look at the Catholic Church and they see her human failings. They see her seeming arrogance and her apparent sinfulness. They also see the genuine goodness and love and faith of themselves and those in their churches and compare it to Catholicism and often it seems like the Catholics they know and the Catholic Church they experience doesn’t match up.
How on earth can it be that the Catholics are ‘right’ after all? It just seems too crazy from their point of view. I understand. I used to be there. And yet, and yet, when those who look more deeply into it open their minds and hearts in a genuine search for the truth other mysteries open up, and other ways of seeing are given, and these new ways of knowing and seeing are not opened up merely by apologetical arguments.
We see the human failings of the Catholic Church, but then we cannot be blind to the human failings of the Protestant churches. The hypocrisy and heresy and heterodoxy is just as bad or worse. Furthermore, the thousands of individual Protestant sects all scream out the inconsistency and falsity of their claims in the face of Christ’s prayer for unity and his prophecy and demand that there should be “one flock and one shepherd.”
People ask why I converted to the Catholic faith, and it was the quote from Irenaeus above as well as a multitude of other factors great and small which brought me to the banks of the Tiber and made me swim.

We should fear bad Catholics, by Msgr. Pope

Bad Catholics are something to fear

What Do Saints Fear?

By Msgr. Charles Pope (posted with permission – source)
The average person may worry about any number of things: finances; security; strife in the family, community, nation, or world; health; the status of a relationship; how he is perceived by others. These tend to be the sorts of things that cause concern.
What do saints worry about? To provide an answer, let’s consider the words of one of our canonized saints. First, here is the context within which the saint spoke.
Napoleon III had surrendered to the Prussians, bringing on the disaster. The Mother General put the sisters at the disposition of the Ministry of War. A field hospital was installed [at the convent for the retreating and battered troops] … Military uniforms mingled with the black and white silhouettes in the courtyard and corridors of the Motherhouse … the sick and the wounded were [all about] the convent. Twenty-five novices were sent to communities in the south and the postulants were sent home to their families. The Prussians were coming and all the area was on alert … Cannons were installed on the inner terrace of the motherhouse and in the novitiate gardens … On the night of October 24, 1870 … a strange phenomenon appeared in the sky. The horizon was all ablaze … you might have thought it was a sea of blood … [but it was] an aurora borealis … a very impressive display … The Prussians were at the borders.
[And here is the question posed to our saint, who was considered by many to be a visionary]:
“The Prussians are at our gates. Don’t they inspire you with terror?”
“So there is nothing to fear then?”
“I fear only bad Catholics.”
“Do you fear nothing else?”
“No, nothing.”
[Bernadette Speaks. A Life of St. Bernadette Soubirous in Her Own Words, by Fr. Rene Larentin, Pauline Books, pp. 415-416].
Yes, these are the words of St. Bernadette, the visionary of Lourdes. In the midst of great travail, she could only identify the fear of bad Catholics.
Really? You don’t fear the enemy troops at the door? The loss of life, limb, or livelihood? The loss of land or political power? All the innumerable sufferings that are sure to come? You only fear bad Catholics?
Such is the likely response to St. Bernadette’s terse, succinct reply that she fears only bad Catholics. To the worldly minded, the fear of losing life, limb, or livelihood would far outrank some fear as to whether or not Catholics were attending Mass, saying prayers, or “fumbling beads.” To them, a reply like this sounds almost insensitive.
But to the spiritually minded, bad Catholics are something to fear, indeed something more to fear than even suffering and death. Bad Catholics are at extreme risk of losing their eternal salvation. Further, due to their poor example, others are also put at serious risk.
There is nothing more important than our eternal salvation—nothing. Life, limb, livelihood, and keeping body and soul together are nice; but they are temporary things and we are not to love them more than our eternal life. Indeed, we should gladly cast them aside if necessary and leave this vale of tears, this exile, and go home to live with God.
Bad Catholics risk both their own salvation and that of others. Bad Catholics prefer the world and its values to that of Christ and His Kingdom. They will not endure suffering, inconvenience or any difficulty for the Kingdom of God. They will not accept corrections to their worldview, politics, or mindset based on the Faith. They are misled and they mislead others. The truth of the Gospel is not their light or compass; it does not provide their marching orders. They will do whatever is expedient to achieve their worldly goals. The cross is not for them. Rather, pleasure, popularity, and possessions are their focus. As St. Paul says, For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things (Phil 3:18-19).
To some degree, we all suffer the tendency to be bad Catholics. We all sin, fall short, and have some bad priorities. But today there are increasing numbers of bad Catholics who are stubbornly unrepentant about this, instead insisting that the Church and Scriptures should be changed. This is a lamentable and fearful situation both for them and for those they influence.
St. Bernadette was not naïve as she looked to the horizon and saw the looming threat.There is indeed a strong, direct connection between bad faith and war. At the time of St. Bernadette, Catholics and Christians in Europe had been killing each other for centuries. War is but the cumulative effect of sin, the collective rejection of God’s commandments and of the call to love God, our neighbor, and our enemy. At times, wars of defense have been and are sadly necessary. But wars among Christians are an especially poignant reminder of the failure to live the faith on innumerable levels.
Whatever the outcome of wars; regardless of who wins conflicts between passing, earthly kingdoms; the battle for eternal salvation through repentance and faith is far more important. It is the true priority of the saints.
What do the saints fear? Bad Catholics. Really? Nothing else? No, nothing.


Foreign feeds

Father William McCandeless

For local friends please remember that services gor Father William begin tonight at Vespers at St. Joseph Abbey.  This starts at 530 and visitation lasts until 7.
Mass tomorrow begins at 11 and burial at the Abbey Cemetary follows.
Please see my previous blog post about Father William for more details.

Another difficult day ahead on the old blog

No explanation for today; overnight readership low; usual sources of overnight reads looks closed.

I really do not want to leave here but have a back up plan.

And while I have your attention, please pray for a special intention of mine today!!!

And don't forget:  MERRY CHRISTMAS!

The Pink Sisters of Philadelphia; all about prayer!

Philadelphia’s Pink Sisters have prayed nonstop for 100 years


PHILADELPHIA — For more than 100 years, the cloistered nuns known as the Pink Sisters have worked in shifts to ensure nonstop prayer in Philadelphia’s Chapel of Divine Love.
Now, to address their shrinking numbers and ensure their prayers continue for another century, the Roman Catholic Holy Spirit Adoration sisters have begun quietly reaching out, seeking to grow their order while carefully maintaining their secluded life.
In the last year, they hung a banner outside their chapel and convent as a way to let other people know about their daily public Masses. They’ve granted more interviews with news reporters. And they have begun inviting Catholic women’s organizations and schools to speak to the sisters — with all conversations taking place through the grille in the convent visiting room, of course.
There’s even a subtle recruitment flier hanging just inside the front door of the chapel. It encourages visitors to ask themselves three questions: Do you love Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament? Do you realize the power of prayer before the Blessed Sacrament? Is Jesus calling you to say “yes” to a life of prayer before the Blessed Sacrament?
“We rarely reached out for vocation promotion before the centennial. But now we want young ladies to see how beautiful the life is and how truer the joy when it is without the trappings of material things,” said Sister Maria Clarissa, 55. “We do our part in addressing these challenges, but at the same time, we leave it to the Lord. He’s the one who calls.”
A Pink Nun stands before the altar at the Chapel of Divine Love in Philadelphia on Dec. 22.Photo: AP
There were once as many as 40 nuns living in the Philadelphia convent. Now there are 20: The youngest is 52, and the oldest is 90.
The order was founded in Holland in 1896 with a focus on the perpetual adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, the consecrated bread they uphold as the body and blood of Christ. The rose-hued habits are meant to symbolize the joy the sisters feel honoring the Holy Spirit.
In 1915, nine of the original sisters left the motherhouse and came to Philadelphia, where they were invited to open the order’s second convent.
Today there are about 420 Holy Spirit Adoration sisters living in 22 convents in 12 countries. There are three other US convents — in St. Louis; Corpus Christi, Texas; and Lincoln, Nebraska.
It may come as a surprise to some that a group of 20 nuns live a contemplative, secluded life not far from Philadelphia’s famed museums, historic landmarks and government. The sisters leave the cloister only for emergencies, such as medical appointments. When they do venture out, the sisters wear gray so as not to draw too much attention to themselves.
The Chapel of Divine Love in PhiladelphiaPhoto: AP
It is a selfless life, focused on offering intercessory prayers on behalf of people they will never meet living in places they will never see. They pray most of the day, together and individually in shifts before the Blessed Sacrament, generally waking up at 5:15 a.m. to prepare for the first daily service, going to bed after the 8 p.m. final prayers.
All the sisters have jobs. Some craft Mass cards and rosaries, the sales of which support the convent. Other sisters respond to letters and answer the phones. Some callers are lonely; others are suicidal. Just listening, the sisters say, seems to make a difference.
The sisters get one hour of free time and one hour of recreation each day. They are allowed visits from family and friends three times a year.
Sister Mary Angelica, 55, said she wants people who have lost touch with their faith to know there is always someone praying for them, “no matter what their need may be.”
The sisters follow current events, but the newspapers they receive don’t include the sports or entertainment sections.
“We try to be as simple as possible so we can focus on the Lord,” explained Mary Angelica. “We are simple in everything, even meals — though on special occasions, we have ice cream.”

Monday, December 28, 2015

The incredible Catholic story of Kobe Bryant

The folks over at Church Pop have posted a great article for today’s celebration of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. The subject of the post is Kobe Bryant, one of basketball’s best ever players who recently announced his retirement at the end of this season.
Some facts most people know about Bryant from the mainstream media and which provide page 1 of this story:
  • Born in 1978 in Philadelphia, he was drafted into the NBA right out of high school. Bryant was the first and youngest guard ever to be drafted into the NBA. Some speculated that he might be “the next Michael Jordan.” Whether that happened is debatable, but what’s not debatable is that Bryant is one of the NBA most successful players.
  • In 2003, Bryant was accused of raping a young woman in his hotel room while in Colorado for knee surgery. Bryant admitted immediately that he had had sex with the woman. But, he was adamant that he did not rape the woman.
  • The charges caused sponsors to drop Bryant, sales of his jersey plummeted, and his general reputation was badly damaged.
  • Bryant issued a public apology to the woman, her family, his family, and the people of the Colorado town where the incident had occurred.
  • In 2004, a judge dismissed the criminal rape charges. However, the woman filed a civil lawsuit against Kobe, which was settled out of court.
  • Bryant and his wife remained together for a few years following the accusations and even had a second child. But, in 2011, his wife filed for divorce.

Why is this post great in light of today’s celebration of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph?

Some facts many people don’t know about Bryant:
  • He was raised in a Roman Catholic family.
  • At the age of 6, Bryant’s family moved to a small town 1 hour outside of Rome, Italy. He is fluent in Italian to this day.
  • In 2001, at 23 years of age, Bryant married 19-year-old Vanessa Laine, who also is Catholic. The wedding was celebrated at St. Edward Roman Catholic Church in Dana Point, California. In 2003, their first child was born.
  • Ashamed at being discovered an infidel, Bryant knew he had committed adultery against his wife. She had every right to hate him and seek legal recourse.

End of story? No…

Now for page 2 of the story: The February 2015 issue of GQ published an interview with Bryant. In that article, he discussed how his Catholic faith helped him navigate his way through the darkness of the ordeal he caused by his infidelity:
The [loss of the] endorsements were really the least of my concerns. Was I afraid of going to jail? Yes. It was twenty-five to life, man. I was terrified. The one thing that really helped me during that process—I’m Catholic, I grew up Catholic, my kids are Catholic—was talking to a priest.

It was actually kind of funny: He looks at me and says, ‘Did you do it?’ And I say, ‘Of course not.’ Then he asks, ’Do you have a good lawyer?’ And I’m like, ‘Uh, yeah, he’s phenomenal.’ So then he just said, ‘Let it go. Move on. God’s not going to give you anything you can’t handle, and it’s in his hands now. This is something you can’t control. So let it go.’ And that was the turning point.
That’s also not the end of the story.

Now for page 3: In 2013, Bryant and his wife announced they had reconciled and called off the divorce.

On this day when Catholics recall the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, it’s important to recall that the ideal of being a holy family isn’t an abstraction but a concrete reality. It’s not built of angels but sinners whose love of God and one other doesn’t allow the death caused by sin to deter them from seeking the resurrected life that flows from forgiveness.

So many people have been raised Catholic, got married to a Catholic in the Catholic Church and are trying mightily to remain faithful to their vows as well as raise their children Catholic. It’s a tough environment these days to be successful in both. Sin and the lack of forgiveness only increases the darkness that all too often ends in the death of marriages and families.

And now you know the other side of this story: Bryant and his wife are Catholic evangelists who, through the example of the lives, are teaching other spouses and parents who find themselves surrounded by darkness and on the brink of despair to perceive the light in the darkness, to be attentive to it, to learn from it, and to rise to new life in Christ as spouses and parents, as God wills.

Let the discussion begin...

To access the sources cited in this post, click on the following links:

Archbishop of Canterbury, martyr for his Catholic faith

St. Thomas Becket

Image of St. Thomas Becket


Feastday: December 29
Birth: 1118
Death: 1170

There is a romantic legend that the mother of Thomas Becket was a Saracen princess who followed his father, a pilgrim or crusader, back from the Holy Land, and wandered about Europe repeating the only English words she knew, "London" and "Becket," until she found him. There is no foundation for the story. According to a contemporary writer, Thomas Becket was the son of Gilbert Becket, sheriff of London; another relates that both parents were of Norman blood. Whatever his parentage, we know with certainty that the future chancellor and archbishop of Canterbury was born on St. Thomas day, 1118, of a good family, and that he was educated at a school of canons regular at Merton Priory in Sussex, and later at the University of Paris. When Thomas returned from France, his parents had died. Obliged to make his way unaided, he obtained an appointment as clerk to the sheriff's court, where he showed great ability. All accounts describe him as a strongly built, spirited youth, a lover of field sports, who seems to have spent his leisure time in hawking and hunting. One day when he was out hunting with his falcon, the bird swooped down at a duck, and as the duck dived, plunged after it into the river. Thomas himself leapt in to save the valuable hawk, and the rapid stream swept him along to a mill, where only the accidental stopping of the wheel saved his life. The episode serves to illustrate the impetuous daring which characterized Becket all through his life.

At the age of twenty-four Thomas was given a post in the household of Theobald, archbishop of Canterbury, and while there he apparently resolved on a career in the Church, for he took minor orders. To prepare himself further, he obtained the archbishop's permission to study canon law at the University of Bologna, continuing his studies at Auxerre, France. On coming back to England, he became provost of Beverley, and canon at Lincoln and St. Paul's cathedrals. His ordination as deacon occurred in 1154. Theobald appointed him archdeacon of Canterbury, the highest ecclesiastical office in England after a bishopric or an abbacy, and began to entrust him with the most intricate affairs; several times he was sent on important missions to Rome. It was Thomas' diplomacy that dissuaded Pope Eugenius III from sanctioning the coronation of Eustace, eldest son of Stephen, and when Henry of Anjou, great grandson of William the Conqueror, asserted his claim to the English crown and became King Henry II, it was not long before he appointed this gifted churchman as chancellor, that is, chief minister. An old chronicle describes Thomas as "slim of growth, and pale of hue, with dark hair, a long nose, and a straightly featured face.

Read much more: