Friday, May 26, 2017

In case you missed this: What ISIS did to a Catholic community in the Philipines

Philippines: Muslim Extremists Destroy the Cathedral of Marawi
Some 15 Faithful Are Abducted, Including a Priest
ACN Photo
Some one hundred extremists of the “Maute” Islamist group affiliated to ISIS, occupied Marawi City, in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), chief town of the Province of Lanao del Sur on Tuesday, May 23, and attacked the local Catholic Cathedral.
Not only did the militiamen destroy the Cathedral and the Bishop’s residence, but they also kidnapped some 15 faithful, among them a priest, some women religious and some lay people who were praying in the Cathedral, on the last day of the Novena to Mary Help of Christians, whose feast is celebrated today.
Monsignor Edwin De la Pena , who heads the territorial Prelature of Marawi City, confirmed the news to Fides agency. “They erupted in the church, seized the hostages and led them to an unknown locality. They entered the Bishop’s residence and kidnapped the Vicar General, Father Teresito Soganub. Then they set fire to the Cathedral and the Bishop’s residence,” he said.
“It happened in fact on the eve of Mary’s feast: we ask her for help,” because “only she can come to our aid,” continued Monsignor De la Pena. “We also make an appeal to Pope Francis to pray for us and to ask the terrorists to release the hostages, in the name of our common humanity.”
To address the crisis in the ARMM region, which is made up of five primarily Muslim provinces of Mindanao, President Rodrigo Duterte interrupted his visit to Moscow to return to his country and he decreed martial law. Marawi City has some 200,000 inhabitants, mainly Muslims. For decades the South of the Philippines, which is predominantly Muslim, has been the theater of a bloody civil war between the central government of Manila and separatist and Islamic groups.

Thank goodness for a couple of good nights!

So if you follow me I've written lately about the intense time I am experiencing at work in these first few months since converting to a new bank.  With everything that has unfolded lately I am indeed very grateful for Whitney Bank coming along and giving us new life in my Pearl River, LA branch.  Me and my staff have worked very hard to make this transition as seamless as possible for my clients.  Doing so has required long days and long work weeks so I've mentioned this a few times and have personally blogged a little less.

Evenings have resulted in less activity as this getting older Deacon finds himself exhausted.  Still. over the past few days I have had some incredibly good evenings.  Last Friday I received the vows of a couple in holy matrimony, my first wedding in over a year.  It is always a blessing to be able to stand before a couple, especially one you have prepared, and be a part of their special day.  On Saturday and Sunday evening, as I assisted at Mass, I was able to preach the homily, being made aware all week, that despite the extra time spent at work, a good homily needs lots of prayer and preparation.

On Wednesday night I returned to Rayburn Prison for our normal Wednesday night routine.  The men who gather for our Masses and services always give me a pick me up.  The men wanted to celebrate the Ascension so we read those readings and prayers and celebrated Jesus' return to the right hand of the Father.  It was another wonderful evening and prison and reminded me so vividly why I do what I do and who/what is most important.  With all this work stuff swirling around me and exhausted beyond belief on an otherwise normal Wednesday night, those men needed me to be present to them and I needed to have them minister to me.  By the grace of God, He provided me the opportunity to be fully present to those men that night.  The drive home, on a long country road, right around dusk, was the perfect backdrop to this graced opportunity to pray and reflect.

Last night I spent time at the church parish with the men of our Knights of Columbus 4th degree meeting.  The fellowship and friendship among the brother Knights, along with a terrific meal, made the evening incredibly delightful!!

The only negative for me has been that dreadful grass that grows on my 10 acre spread.  I've had very little time to attend to this as we have also had tons of rain, including last weekend when it rained all day Saturday and Sunday.  If you happen to come by my place and think, man this guy needs to cut some grass, just remember, working hard and ministering my vocation, coupled with rain is the reason.  Hopefully, this long Memorial Day weekend will be the antidote.

I am so thankful for these couple of good nights!  Now, off to work I go!!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Introducing the five new Priests for the Archdiocese of New Orleans via the Clarion Herald

Five to be ordained to priesthood June 3

Archbishop Gregory Aymond will ordain five men to the priesthood for the Archdiocese of New Orleans at a 10 a.m. Mass June 3 at St. Louis Cathedral. The ordinands are, seated from left, Deacons José Cáceres and Pedro Prada, and, standing, Jared Rodrigue, Colm Cahill and Alexander Guzman. Following are feature stories on each new priest. The June 3 ordination will be televised live on WLAE Channel 32 and live-streamed at

Deacon José Cáceres
Age: 44
First Assignment as Parochial Vicar: St. Jerome, Kenner; he also will continue to serve on the staff of the archdiocesan Hispanic Apostolate, where he co-hosts a Saturday radio show.
First Mass: June 4, 2 p.m., St. Clement of Rome, Metairie
Other Masses of Thanksgiving: June 5, 7 p.m. (Spanish), Hispanic Apostolate, 2525 Maine Ave., Metairie; June 11 and 18 in Colombia.
What are you most looking forward to in your priestly ministry? “I look forward to serving God and the people of this archdiocese in the way that God wishes me to serve them. The priesthood is all about service.”

Colombia to honor native son
By Beth Donze

The proverbial fatted calf will be roasted for Deacon José Cáceres when he visits his Colombian homeland shortly after being ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of New Orleans on June 3.

On June 11, following a Mass of Thanksgiving at Immaculate Conception Church in Concepción, Colombia, the newly minted Father Cáceres will be treated to an all-out barbecue organized by the town’s mayor.

“They are putting on a party for the whole town,” said Deacon Cáceres of the festival marking the end of his long journey to priestly ordination.

Deacon Cáceres taught anthropology, epistemology, logic and philosophy as a college professor in Colombia for 16 years before those intellectual pursuits led him to explore life’s mysteries through the lens of theology. He studied at a seminary in Colombia for more than seven years before transferring to Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans at the suggestion of his friend and mentor, Dominican Father Sergio Serrano.

During his transitional diaconate year at St. Clement of Rome, Deacon Cáceres presided at baptisms and funerals, led a popular series of Spanish-language faith formation classes, visited students at St. Clement of Rome School and took Communion to the homes of the sick.

“I learned how to interact with the people – to see the people as my neighbors, as my brothers – as Christ sees them,” said Deacon Cáceres, a self-described “people person.”

“I also learned the importance of prayer and silence before God,” he added.

One of his biggest challenges was to improve his English. To achieve this, a clutch of parishioners volunteered to hear Deacon Cáceres read the Gospel and homily in advance of the upcoming daily or Sunday Mass and help him with his vocabulary, pronunciation and grammar. Deacon Cáceres always encouraged parishioners to speak to him in English; if he didn’t understand something, he would politely ask them to repeat it.

“In the beginning people didn’t understand me,” Deacon Cáceres said, smiling. “As time went on, people said, ‘That was good! I understood every word you said!’ The people here (at St. Clement) were very supportive. They motivated me to get better.”

Deacon Cáceres’ native tongue, however, was also regularly employed at the Metairie parish, where Spanish-language prayer and worship opportunities include a 2 p.m. Mass on Sunday; a first-Thursday Holy Hour; and special celebrations of feast days and liturgical seasons dear to the hearts of Spanish-speaking Catholics.

“The Spanish language is such a rich and eloquent language, so it leads to a greater expression of (native speakers’) faith when they can express it in Spanish,” he notes.

As a priest, Deacon Cáceres will split his time between parish ministry at St. Jerome in Kenner and the Hispanic Apostolate. He has been sharing his gifts with the Apostolate since February, both as a faith formation teacher and as co-host of the Saturday morning radio show “Católico Soy” (I Am Catholic) with Father Serrano, the Apostolate’s director. The half-hour program, which airs at 10:30 a.m. on KGLA-Tropical 1540 AM (and accessible on YouTube, SoundCloud and Facebook), reflects on that weekend’s Gospel.

“In the spirit of the Second Vatican Council we need to use technology for preaching and teaching the Gospel,” Deacon Cáceres said. “I am excited to be teaching in this medium!”

Deacon Colm Cahill
Age: 26
First Assignment as Parochial Vicar: St. Peter, Covington.
First Mass of Thanksgiving: June 4, 11:15 a.m., Shrine of Our Lady of Prompt Succor, 2701 State St., New Orleans. “I can’t imagine anywhere better to begin.”
What are you most looking forward to in your priestly ministry?
“Really, all of it. During my time in seminary, I’ve had a lot of experience in youth ministry. I’ve been working on the March for Life for last five years helping organize that with the youth office and other seminarians, and going to high schools, talking to Dominican and Mount Carmel and a couple of others. I’ve always enjoyed that part of it.”

Meeting people where they are
By Christine Bordelon

“My discernment of the priesthood came in two questions: ‘Lord, are you calling me to be a priest?’ and ‘Where are you calling me to be a priest?’” Deacon Colm Cahill said.

A mutual friend had introduced him to Archbishop Gregory Aymond. Deacon Cahill said he was open to studying for the priesthood in the U.S., and when Archbishop Aymond invited him to study in New Orleans, he decided to leave his home in the United Kingdom after a year at St. John’s Seminary in Guildford.

“The biggest decision was that my family was back there and I was coming here,” Deacon Cahill said. “But what I always kept in my head was, ‘You can’t outdo God in generosity.’ As much as I’ve given up things here and there – though some would say it is quite a lot – I received a lot more than I’ve given up.”

Deacon Cahill didn’t attend Catholic high school or even have many Catholic friends when he grew up on the Isle of Jersey in the United Kingdom. He said there were many Catholic churches but not a lot of Catholics. His active Catholic parents were his faith guides.

“They were always a very strong support for me in my vocation, even to the point of supporting me in my discernment of moving here,” he said, “which was obviously very difficult for them as it was for me to come to terms with that new way of being separated across an ocean.”

When grappling with faith in his teens, he was attracted to Catholicism because he found a God who became a man, suffered and died on the cross.

“As a younger man, the thing that made sense to me about being Catholic – and being Christian, for that matter – was that when I looked at the world around me, it was really the only religion which made sense of the world. ... When you see so much suffering in the world, it’s that Christian genius that we have. We have a God that is so intimately connected with our suffering to the point of relating with us. So, for me, personally ... when I look at Christ on the cross, that’s a God I can follow. That’s a religion I can get behind. Despite being raised Catholic, I think I made it my own and really took ownership with my belief in my later teens as I decided to wrestle with the big questions in my life.”

Deacon Cahill has met Father Otis Young, pastor of St. Peter in Covington, and knows he’s entering an active parish with a big school. He wants to model Pope Francis’ ministry of presence. When families invite him to be a part of their lives, that fulfills the fatherly part of being a priest that he enjoys.

He also loves “just meeting people where they are – and that can be in the messiness of their lives, in the most broken scenarios – and bringing Christ to them in that and also seeing Christ in them.”

He sees evangelization taking place in casual avenues such as talking to parents while they are waiting to pick up their children from school or being at a men’s club meeting “just standing in the midst of them, being available to people, putting yourself in the environment where they are able to access you and ask you questions and explore that faith with you.”

“Christ said, ‘Whatever you did to the least of my brothers, you did to me.’ So to witness Christ to the world in people’s individual contexts, I think that’s important in this day and age.”

Deacon Alexander Guzman
Age: 45
First Assignment as Parochial Vicar: St. Margaret Mary Parish, Slidell
First Mass: June 4, noon (bilingual), St. Jerome Church, Kenner.
Other Masses of Thanksgiving: June 4, 5 p.m. (Spanish), Vietnamese Holy Martyrs Shrine, 5069 Willowbrook Drive, New Orleans; June 5, 7 p.m. (Spanish), Hispanic Apostolate, 2525 Maine Ave., Metairie.
What are you most looking forward to in your priestly ministry? “For a priest, the biggest thing is to serve the people according to God’s will. I want to work closely with the people and help them encounter the face of God, the face of Jesus.”

A great passion for preaching
By Peter Finney Jr.

Deacon Alexander Guzman, a native of Colombia, said the year he spent at St. Jerome Parish in Kenner as a transitional deacon provided a graced opportunity to hone the ministerial skills he will use as a priest – particularly his ability to preach the Word of God effectively to all ethnic groups.

Deacon Guzman said Father Quentin Moody, pastor of St. Jerome, offered him many chances to preach, and those experiences will help him be a better communicator of how God speaks through the Scriptures.

“Father Moody gave me the opportunity to preach every weekend, so I preached in English one weekend and in Spanish the next weekend,” Deacon Guzman said. “It was wonderful and very helpful to me because I love to preach. Father Moody encouraged me by saying, ‘You have a passion for preaching; you preach with the power of God; your preaching is coming from your heart.’”

Deacon Guzman said he saw himself growing as a preacher the more he practiced, and that experience made him feel more comfortable preaching in English. While St. Margaret Mary in Slidell celebrates a Spanish Mass each Saturday at 6 p.m., Deacon Guzman will be preaching mostly in English when he becomes the parish’s new parochial vicar on July 3.

At St. Margaret Mary, there are six weekend Masses as well as a 7 p.m. Spanish Mass each Tuesday.

“In the beginning, I was afraid to preach in English, but right now, I am not afraid,” Deacon Guzman said. “I’m really comfortable and confident to preach to the people and look the people in the eye. They like it when I’m preaching from my heart.”

Deacon Guzman, a former high school teacher in Colombia, said his final year of preparation for the priesthood allowed him to work with the many groups that make up the life of a parish.

“It helped me grow in my faith, in my vocation and in my service to the people of God,” he said. “I met with the people in Bible classes, both in English and in Spanish. I helped prepare people for baptism and I met people preparing them for marriage and for funerals. It was a wonderful experience.

“It was really wonderful because I wanted to find many people in the parish who needed help, who needed the Good News from God and service from God. I had the opportunity to work in the American and Hispanic communities, and in both I found beautiful and appreciative people.”

The former teacher is looking forward to working with the many young people at St. Margaret Mary, which has a thriving school.

“This will give me the opportunity to help them accept Jesus and accept God,” he said. “Pope Francis has told us, ‘Don’t stay in the office. Go out and find the people in the street who need to hear the voice of God.’”

Another new aspect of his ministry will be hearing confessions. Deacon Guzman said he will do his best to offer God’s mercy to everyone.

“Many times it is easy for me to listen to confessions in Spanish, but it is different in English,” he said. “I am preparing and I will do my best.”

He has lots of energy. “I am 45, but my heart is 15 or 16,” he said, laughing.

Deacon Guzman said his mother, Beatriz Torres, and his brother, Yohany Ferney Guzman, will attend his ordination along with four other relatives and friends.

Deacon Pedro Prada
Age: 34
First Assignment as Parochial Vicar: Immaculate Conception Parish, Marrero
First Mass: June 4, 11 a.m., Holy Guardian Angels Mission, Bridge City
Other Masses of Thanksgiving: June 5, 7 p.m. (Spanish), Hispanic Apostolate, 2525 Maine Ave., Metairie.
What are you most looking forward to in your priestly ministry? “There’s a lot of excitement about being ordained a priest, but I’m not even nervous. I’m just excited learning how God is so great calling forth someone as imperfect as I am to make a minister out of that.”

Youth ministry gravitates to him
By Peter Finney Jr.

Deacon Pedro Prada has spent the last 14 years doing seminary studies and missionary work, and now that his ordination to the priesthood is close at hand, he can’t wait to get started.

“It’s just amazing,” said Deacon Prada, a native of Colombia. “I’m very humbled by the experience. I understand that what I am doing is not so much about me but rather about what God wants to do for his people through me, while healing my own wounds in the process. It is a very peaceful experience, very humbling.”

Deacon Prada has spent the last year serving as a transitional deacon at Divine Mercy Parish in Kenner, where there were a multitude of ministries to oversee and people to accompany.

“I wish I had 30 hours (a day) to minister to the people,” he said, smiling. “It’s been a wellspring of knowledge and peace of mind being assigned to a parish and working day to day with the people of God, putting into action all this knowledge that we got in the seminary.

“And, I can see how it works applying it. There is nothing better than when you become the future of somebody who is dying and has little reason to live. It is wonderful being able to meet that person and communicate God’s love and mercy.”

In July, Deacon Prada will begin his first priestly assignment as a parochial vicar at Immaculate Conception Parish in Marrero, which has an elementary school along with a strong Hispanic presence.

He has already spoken to Father Jimmy Jeanfreau, the pastor of Immaculate Conception, about what his role will be in the parish.

“The beauty of being a priest in the diocesan branch, so to speak, is we get to be priests after the person of Christ, after the preaching of Jesus himself,” Deacon Prada said. “We have a vast field of action. My entire life, I can recall running away from youth ministry. I didn’t like it. It wasn’t my thing. But the more I ran away from it, the more involved I ended up in it. In my last seven years of formation, I’ve been drawn to youth ministry one way or the other – like catechesis, Life Teen and CYO.”

Even when Deacon Prada was not studying in the seminary in Colombia, he had a group of young people who would ask for his help with philosophy, history and religion. At Divine Mercy, he was asked to oversee Life Teen full time and also helped train the parish’s 65 new altar servers.

Father Jeanfreau also would like to see Deacon Prada involved with the school.

“Of course, that’s not the only thing,” Deacon Prada said. “I want to be involved in every part of parish life, but youth ministry is certainly going to be one of the three key aspects of parish life he wants me to be involved with. The other two are the Hispanic ministry and then bringing together the two communities so we can strengthen the bond as one parish.”

He said the Hispanic Catholic population is anything but monolithic.

“We look the same, but we are not the same,” he said. “Although we speak Spanish, we don’t always express the same thing in words. There are a lot of nuances I have to be aware of so I can make it happen. I’m really excited about it.”

Deacon Prada came to New Orleans in 2014 to complete his theological studies at Notre Dame Seminary, and the culture of New Orleans has intrigued him.

“The more I know it, the more I love it,” he said.

Deacon Jared Rodrigue
Age: 26
First Assignment as Parochial Vicar: Mary Queen of Peace Parish, Mandeville
First Mass: June 4, 2 p.m., St. Charles Borromeo, Destrehan
Other Masses of Thanksgiving: June 11, 11 a.m., St. Catherine of Siena, Metairie
What are you most looking forward to in your priestly ministry? “Growing in my priestly identity and in my role as a spiritual father.”

Deacon Rodrigue drawn to spiritual fatherhood
By Beth Donze

An unusual depiction of the Holy Family graces the prayer card heralding Deacon Jared Rodrigue’s upcoming ordination to the priesthood.

St. Joseph, painted in the style of an icon, sits cross-legged on the floor, his entire body wrapped around the Blessed Mother and the thumb-sucking Infant Jesus.

Printed beneath this nesting trio is the adolescent Jesus’ response to his anxious parents, upon being found in the temple: “Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:49)

Deacon Rodrigue said pairing the image of a young Holy Family with words spoken by a more mature Jesus, on the cusp of his public ministry, telegraphs three ways the priesthood relates to a “house.”

➤ There is the literal house in which Jesus grew up – headed by St. Joseph – that reminds us of a priest’s roots in and his call to serve earthly families.

➤ There is the eternal “house” prepared by God, toward which the priest must always point.

➤ Finally, there is a very personal message from Deacon Rodrigue to his proud parents: “Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house (serving as a priest)?”

“I have a huge devotion to St. Joseph. He took care of the two most perfect people who ever lived,” said Deacon Rodrigue, noting how the saint’s example of spiritual fatherhood has been a recurring theme in his vocational journey from the time he was inspired by his childhood pastor at St. Charles Borromeo Church in Destrehan.

Tragically, that role model, Father John Phuc, died in a boating accident when Rodrigue was in fifth grade.

“At his funeral, I felt a strong tug to follow in his footsteps,” Rodrigue recalled. “I just remember feeling inside myself: ‘Who’s going to be a father to (us) kids now?’”

Spiritual fatherhood emerged again at age 17 when Rodrigue, a competitive swimmer at Jesuit High, began accompanying his mother on parish mission trips to Mexico. He and his fellow volunteers played with children in orphanages and did bricks-and-mortar work on a medical clinic.

“In Mexico, I had a real experience of how I could be a father to these kids even though I wasn’t their (biological) father,” Rodrigue said.

Following two years at a New Jersey seminary discerning a vocation with the Salesian order of priests, Deacon Rodrigue returned home in 2013 to study for the Archdiocese of New Orleans.

During his transitional diaconate year at St. Catherine of Siena, Deacon Rodrigue learned that spiritual fatherhood was accompanied by “a good kind of exhaustion” that came from immersing himself in a parish of 2,650 families and a school of 840 students. Part of that work was readying people for the sacraments of baptism and marriage – and not merely giving them “lukewarm” instruction.

“You are preparing them not just for that (particular) sacrament, but to come back to the sacraments regularly,” Deacon Rodrigue notes.

At St. Catherine, Deacon Rodrigue also received a tip from a priest to occasionally incorporate his musical talents into his homilies. He gave the idea a whirl when unpacking the Gospel in which Jesus urges his disciples to “stay awake” because no one knows the day the master is coming.

“I tied in the ‘Be Prepared’ song from ‘The Lion King’ and received a lot of positive feedback. It changed the way the children (in the congregation) viewed their future,” Deacon Rodrigue said. “People said they still had the music stuck in their heads weeks later!”

The Apostle to Rome; a most important Saint

St. Philip Neri

Image of St. Philip Neri


Feastday: May 26
Patron of Rome, US Special Forces, humor, joy
Birth: July 21, 1515
Death: May 26, 1595
Beatified By: May 11, 1615 by Pope Paul V
Canonized By: March 12, 1622 by Pope Gregory XV

St. Philip Neri was a Christian missionary and founder of the Congregation of the Oratory, a community of Catholic priests and lay brothers.
He was born in Florence on July 21, 1515 as one of four children to Francesco Neri.
From a very young age, Philip was known for being cheerful and obedient. He was affectionately referred to as "good little Phil." He received his early teachings from friars at the Dominican monastery in Florence, San Marco.
At 18-years-old, Philip went off to live with a wealthy family member in San Germano. He was sent there to assist in - and possibly inherit - the family business. However, soon after his arrival, Philip experienced a mystical vision, which he eventually spoke of as his Christian conversion. This event was an encounter with the Lord and it dramatically changed his life.
He soon lost interest in owning property or participating in business. He felt a call from the Holy Spirit to radically live for and serve the Lord Jesus Christ and His Church.
So, Philip set out for Rome.
Once in Rome, Philip was the live-in tutor for a fellow Florentine's sons. Under Philip's guidance, the two boys improved in all aspects of life and faith, proving Philip's special talent with human relationships and in bringing out the best in people.
During his first two years in Rome, Philip spent his time in a solitary life. He also dedicated a lot of time to prayer. He ate very small meals of bread, water and a few vegetables, practicing an ascetical life.
In 1535, Philip began studying theology and philosophy at the Sapienza and at St. Augustine's monastery. Although he was considered a "promising scholar," after three years of studies, Philip gave up any thought of ordination. He set out to help the poor people of Rome and to re-evangelize the city. Sadly, Rome had lost its first love and its inhabitants were no longer really living as Christians.
He began talking to people on street corners and in public squares; he made acquaintances in places where people commonly gathered.
Philip, compared to Socrates, had a knack for starting up conversations and leading his listeners to consider a new and better way of life, the Christian Way. He easily caught others' attention with his warm personality and incredible sense of humor. He encouraged groups of people to gather for discussions, studies, prayer and the enjoyment of music. His customary question was always, "Well, brothers, when shall we begin to do good?"
Losing no time in converting good conversation to good actions, Philip would lead his followers to hospitals to wait on the sick or to the Church, to pray to and encounter Jesus Christ.
In short, Philip was an evangelist. He loved to share the Gospel and help people to find or rediscover their faith in Jesus Christ.
His days were dedicated to helping others, but his nights were set aside for solitude spent praying in the church or in the catacombs beside the Appian Way.
In 1544, on the eve of Pentecost, Philip saw what appeared to be a globe of fire. It is said the fire entered his mouth, causing Philip to feel his heart dilate. Philip was filled with such paroxysms of divine love that caused him to scream out, "Enough, enough, Lord, I can bear no more." Philip then discovered a swelling over his heart, though it caused him no pain.
In 1548, with the help of his confessor, Father Persiano Rossa, Philip founded a confraternity for poor laymen to meet for spiritual exercises and service of the poor, the Confraternity of the Most Holy Trinity.
Philip's appealing nature won him over friends from all societal levels, including that of Ignatius of Loyola, Pius V and Charles Borromeo.
At 34-years-old, Philip had already accomplished so much, but his confessor was determined that his work would be more effective as a priest. Finally convinced, Philip was ordained to the diaconate and then to the priesthood on May 23, 1551.
From there, Philip went to live with Father Rossa and other priests at San Girolamo and carried on his mission, but mostly through the confessional.
Before sun up, until sun down, Philip spent hours sitting and listening to people of all ages. Sometimes Philip broke out informal discussions for those who desired to live a better life. He spoke to them about Jesus, the saints and the martyrs.
Influenced by St. Francis Xavier, Philip thought of going to India to join the foreign mission field, but was dissuaded by his peers because Rome still needed Philip's ministry and influence.
A large room was built above the church of San Girolamo to tend to Philip's growing number of pilgrims and other priests were called on to assist him. Philip and the priests were soon called the "Oratorians," because they would ring a bell to call the faithful in their "oratory."
The foundation of the Congregation of the Priests of the Oratory would be laid a few years later with members who encouraged others to deepen their faith. Philip's rule for them was simple - share a common table and to perform spiritual exercises. Philip didn't want his followers to bind themselves to the life with a vow and he did not want them to denounce their property.
Philip's organization was officially approved by Pope Gregory XIII in 1575.
The Congregation was given an ancient church, but Philip made the quick decision to demolish it because the structure was in ruins and the size was not large enough. He had plans of rebuilding on a larger scale. People from all over, including Charles Borromeo and Pope Gregory, contributed financially toward the rebuilding.
By April 1577, the New Church was completed enough for the Congregation of the Oratory to be transferred there, but Philip stayed at San Girolamo for another seven years.
Philip was constantly in a crowd of people; he allowed his followers free access to him and continued hearing confessions and engaging in ministry and prayer.
In the words of one of his biographers, Philip was "all things to all men.... When he was called upon to be merry, he was so; if there was a demand upon his sympathy, he was equally ready..."
Philip was respected and loved throughout Rome; he became a trusted advisor to popes, kings, cardinals and equally as important to the poor.
He whole-heartedly desired the reform of the Catholic Church and worked toward that with a sense of gentleness and friendship, rather than criticism and harshness.
His efforts to reach out to the lay people of Rome and not simply associate with the clergy made him one of the great figures in the Counter Reformation of the Catholic Church. Sadly, the Catholic Church had fallen into clericalism. He soon earned the title, "Apostle of Rome."
On the Feast of Corpus Christi, May 25, 1595, Philip was told by his physician that he was not healthy. He had not looked well for ten years. Philip realized his time had come to pass on to the Lord. For the remainder of the day, he listened to confessions and saw his visitors as normal.
Before heading off to bed, Philip stated, "Last of all, we must die."
Around midnight of May 26, 1595, Philip suffered from a hemorrhage and passed away at 80-years-old. His body lays in the New Church, where the Oratorians still serve.
St. Philip Neri was beatified by Pope Paul V on May 11, 1615 and canonized by Pope Gregory XV on March 12, 1622.
He is the patron saint of Rome, US Special Forces, humor and joy and his feast day is celebrated on May 26

I was sick and you visited me; Pope Francis to a pediatric hospital

Pope Tells Sick Children ‘Jesus Is Close to You, Offers Hope’
Pope Francis Makes Surprise Call to Children’s Hospital in Genoa Where He Will Visit Saturday
© PHOTO.VA - Osservatore Romano
Pope Francis has made a surprise phone call to sick children in Genoa, ahead of his one-day Apostolic Visit to the northern Italian city this Saturday, May 27, 2017, reported Vatican Radio.
During the course of the day, the Holy Father will have a meeting with sick children and their families at the Giannina Gaslini Pediatric Hospital.
Established in 1931 and now considered one of the foremost children’s hospitals in Europe, the Istituto Giannina Gaslini is a tertiary level pediatric hospital affiliated with the University of Genoa. It is formally recognized as a Scientific Institute for Research, Hospitalization and Healthcare.
While many of the sick children, ahead of the Pope’s trip, have been preparing for him messages and small gifts, the Argentine Pontiff decided to do the unexpected: give them a surprise call before his arrival.
“Dear children of the Gaslini Hospital in Genoa, I greet you all with affection” he said through linking-up live via telephone to a parish radio in Genoa that broadcasts a Wednesday weekly program dedicated to the children’s hospital.
It is with joy, he noted, he looks forward to meeting, being close to, listening to them, and bringing them the caress of Jesus.
“He is always close to us especially when we are in difficulty and in need. He always gives us trust and hope.” he said.
The Holy Father concluded the call, saying he continues praying for them and their families and reminding them to pray for him.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Thursday Saint of the Day

Venerable Bede

Image of Venerable Bede


Feastday: May 25
Patron of English writers and historians; Jarrow
Birth: 673
Death: 735

Bede was born near St. Peter and St. Paul monastery at Wearmouth-Jarrow, England. He was sent there when he was three and educated by Abbots Benedict Biscop and Ceolfrid. He became a monk at the monastery, was ordained when thirty, and except for a few brief visits elsewhere, spent all of his life in the monastery, devoting himself to the study of Scripture and to teaching and writing. He is considered one of the most learned men of his time and a major influence on English literature. His writings are a veritable summary of the learning of his time and include commentaries on the Pentateuch and various other books of the Bible, theological and scientific treatises, historical works, and biographies. His best-known work is HISTORIA ECCLESIASTICA, a history of the English Church and people, which he completed in 731. It is an account of Christianity in England up to 729 and is a primary source of early English history. Called "the Venerable" to acknowledge his wisdom and learning, the title was formalized at the Council of Aachen in 853. He was a careful scholar and distinguished stylist, the "father" of English history, the first to date events anno domini (A.D.), and in 1899, was declared the only English doctor of the Church. He died in Wearmouth-Jarrow on May 25. His feast day is May 25th

Is it Ascension Thursday or Ascension Sunday where you live??

The Solemnity of the Ascension: The Feast Who Was Thursday

By Jennifer Gregory Miller (bio - articles - email) | May 24, 2017

The sixth week of Easter and the Seventh Sunday of Easter is a liturgical time with a bit of an identity crisis. This week was often referred to as Rogation Week before the revision of the calendar in 1969, and the Solemnity of the Ascension is traditionally celebrated on Thursday. But much of that has changed, or varies depending on where one lives.
Monday through Wednesday before Ascension Thursday marked the traditional minor Rogation days. As I mentioned last week the current General Norms of the Liturgical Year and Calendar which revised the Liturgical Calendar in 1969 did not abandon this liturgical tradition, but dates and celebration of Rogation Days is now determined on the local ordinary or authority.
Thursday will mark forty (40) days after the Resurrection. Depending where you live will determine whether you will celebrate Ascension Thursday or Ascension Sunday. In the United States, only the ecclesiastical provinces of Boston, Hartford, New York, Newark, Omaha, and Philadelphia continue observing Ascension Thursday as a holy day of obligation. Ecclesiastical provinces usually follow state lines, but some provinces cover more than one state. So 1/5 of the states celebrate Ascension Thursday: Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Nebraska, and Pennsylvania.
I’m not writing to question the pastoral reasons for moving the solemnity to Sunday and removing the obligation, but making the case that if we follow the liturgy of the Church, even if the Ascension is moved to Sunday, we need to observe the Ascension on Thursday in small ways.
Liturgical Traces of the Ascension
Moving the Ascension to Sunday requires some adjusting of the liturgy to have options “before the Ascension” and “after the Ascension”. There are shuffling of Mass propers, readings and a different set of Collect prayers. The Liturgy of the Hours also provides different prayers for before and after the Ascension. But even with all these adjustments, there are “liturgical remnants” that still point to Ascension celebrating on Thursday.
The liturgy from Thursday to Saturday, particularly the readings, reflect the celebration of the Ascension, with Jesus returning to His Father and seated at His right hand. (Since the feast of the Visitation falls this Saturday this will not be completely obvious this year.) The Mass readings for the Sixth Week of Easter Sunday through Wednesday refer to the coming of the Paraclete, but Thursday through Saturday refer to the Ascension, with Christ returning to his Father. Some of the passages aren’t speaking of the Ascension outright, but do contain traces:
  1. The Responsorial Psalm is Psalm 47 for the Mass of the Ascension: “God mounts His throne to shouts of joy: a blare of trumpets for the Lord.” The same Psalm 47 is repeated with a different antiphon for Friday and Saturday.
  2. Alleluia verse on Thursday: “I will not leave you orphans, says the Lord; I will come back to you, and your hearts will rejoice.”
  3. Gospel Thursday (non-Ascension) from John 16:16: “A little while and you will no longer see me, and again a little while later and you will see me....’Because I am going to the Father’.”
  4. Alleluia verse on Friday: “Christ had to suffer and to rise from the dead, and so enter into his glory.”
  5. Alleluia verse and Gospel on Saturday John 16:28: “I came from the Father and have come into the world; now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.”
The Liturgy of the Hours also points to the traditional Ascension Thursday:
  1. Thursday’s Antiphon for the Canticle of Zechariah: “In a little while you will no longer see me, says the Lord; then a little while later you will see me again, since I am going to the Father, alleluia.
  2. Thursday’s reading from 1 Peter 3:18-22: “He went to heaven is at God’s right hand, with angelic rulers and powers subjected to him.”
  3. Friday’s Antiphon for the Canticle of Zechariah: “Because he suffered death, we see Jesus crowned with glory and honor, alleluia.
What’s in a Number?
There is also a significance of the number of days found throughout the Bible and Liturgy. Originally the early Church celebrated the fifty (50) days of Easter to Pentecost as a whole. It wasn’t until the fourth century that the fortieth (40th) day was marked by the feast of the Ascension, and then the fiftieth (50th) marked by Pentecost to close the Easter season. Pope Benedict XVI (as Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger) elaborated on the significance of the numbers of seven (7), eight (8), forty (40) and fifty (50) in Seek That Which is Above, pp. 65-67 (emphasis mine):
Since the most ancient times the Church has underlined her great feasts by not restricting them to a single day but giving them a whole octave of days. The celebration resounds for a whole week and is renewed on the eighth day. The seven days, completed by the eighth, symbolize the totality of time and its transcendence into eternity. The week-long feast encompasses a basic unit of human life an thus stands as a foretaste of the freedom of eternal life, a sign of hope and peace in the midst of earthly days in toil. The Church has rendezvoused to help us experience Easter as the feast of feasts, as the basic reason for all celebration and joy, by causing the Easter octave to last for seven times seven days. So the feast of Pentecost on the fiftieth day after Easter is not in fact an entirely new feast; it rounds off the circle of the seven times seven days which signify our breaking out of subservience to time into the boundless joy of the children of God, a joy uninterrupted by any striking of the hour.
These fifty days are the answer to the forty days of tribulation and preparation by which the Church leads up to Easter. In the Old Testament numerology, forty signified the age of the world: it is an intensification of four, which recalls the four corners of the earth and hence the brokenness, the finite, incomplete and toil some nature of all earthly existence. The forty prepare for the fifty, the fragmentary for the complete; and the Lord’s Resurrection is at the axis of both. Even through this temporal arrangement the Church has provided a profound psychological interpretation of what Easter means and of how we can and should celebrate it. For all these things, far from being liturgical games, are translations of the mystery in terms of our life; they are where the unique and once-and-for-all Event meets life in its daily newness.
The Church has continued attaching the significance to the number forty (40). We see it observed during the Lenten Season. And then the General Norms of the Liturgical Year and Calendar states
25. On the fortieth day after Easter the Ascension is celebrated, except in places where, not being a holyday of obligation, it has been transferred to the Seventh Sunday of Easter.
The numeric significance is interrupted when the Ascension is moved to Sunday. Pope Benedict saying “[t]he forty prepare for the fifty” can also apply to the Ascension falling on the fortieth day, with the last days in particular preparing for the fiftieth day, Pentecost. Celebrating on Sunday changes the number to forty-three (43), a prime and non-divisible number, and not particularly symbolic.
The number nine (9) which is used in novenas is also significant. Novena comes from the Latin word novem, meaning of course, nine. These are usually nine days of prayer before an event or feast. The Catholic Encyclopedia explains that the number nine signifies “hopeful mourning, of yearning, of prayer.” The very first novena occurred in those days after the Ascension, waiting in prayer in the Upper Room for the Holy Spirit. The apostles and the Blessed Virgin Mary were waiting for that fiftieth day. This is the model novena. Novenas have always been been private devotion until the General Norms of the Liturgical Year and Calendar elevated the novena for Pentecost as liturgical:
26. The weekdays after the Ascension until the Saturday before Pentecost inclusive are a preparation for the coming of the Holy Spirit.
This doesn’t specifically mention the number nine or novena, but The Directory of Popular Piety and the Liturgy reinforces this idea that the Pentecost Novena is already within the liturgy (and needs to be those nine days):
155. The New Testament tells us that during the period between the Ascension and Pentecost “all...joined in continuous prayer, together with several women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers” (Acts 1, 14) while they awaited being “clothed with the power from on high” (Lk 24, 49). The pious exercise of the Pentecost novena, widely practised among the faithful, emerged from prayerful reflection on this salvific event.
Indeed, this novena is already present in the Missal and in the Liturgy of the Hours, especially in the second vespers of Pentecost: the biblical and eucological texts, in different ways, recall the disciples’ expectation of the Paraclete. Where possible, the Pentecost novena should consist of the solemn celebration of vespers. Where such is not possible, the novena should try to reflect the liturgical themes of the days from Ascension to the Vigil of Pentecost.
So, even if one lives in one of the 40 states which celebrate the Ascension Mass on Sunday, if we are following the Church’s liturgy, our hearts should be focused on the Ascension joy with the whole Church community beginning on Ascension Thursday. The preparation for Pentecost in the form of a novena should begin on Ascension Thursday. The liturgy continues the rejoicing of “mounting his throne” from Thursday until Saturday, and our hearts should be echoing that joy throughout those days, too.
Celebrating the Ascension
Easter ranks as the highest feast of the Church. There are four solemnities that rank right behind Easter: Christmas, Epiphany, Ascension, and Pentecost. The Solemnity of the Ascension can be a holyday of obligation or Sunday, which the Church in Canon Law states our duties:
Can. 1247: On Sundays and other holy days of obligation, the faithful are obliged to participate in the Mass.
Moreover, they are to abstain from those works and affairs which hinder the worship to be rendered to God, the joy proper to the Lord’s day, or the suitable relaxation of mind and body.
At first glance, the Ascension would seem to be a sad day. Christ in his human body is leaving the world for the last time. But we need to take our cues from the liturgy. This is a joyful feast; it is the fulfillment of Christ’s salvific mission. The Ascension is the final leg of the Paschal Mystery: Passion, Death, Resurrection and Ascension into heaven (as mentioned in the Eucharist Prayer of the Mass). It is not until Jesus ascends and returns to His Father that His act of Redemption is completed. Our place in heaven is prepared at this feast—we will now share in Christ’s glory. That is why our hearts should sing with Psalm 47 as it repeats 3 days in a row, “God mounts His throne to shouts of joy: a blare of trumpets for the Lord.”
The Catholic Culture Liturgical Year library has quite a few suggestions on ways to spend the Ascension in prayer and celebration in our domestic Church:
It’s harder for those with jobs or in school, but Ascension Thursday is often celebrated with a picnic, with many people trying to climb the highest heights to imitate the Mount Olivet from where Jesus ascended. Other ways families can focus on the Ascension would be activities requiring air: flying kites, blowing bubbles, balloons, throwing frisbees, etc.
Pentecost food usually includes birds to remind of the symbolic dove of the Holy Spirit, but the Ascension also celebrates with foods like stuffed pigeons or other birds (like chicken) to think of Christ ascending. If you are like me and think a solemnity means dessert, fluffy desserts that are reminders of the “cloud took him from their sight”. Foods that include marshmallows, whipped cream, such as Tiramisu or trifle or a lovely ice cream sundae can be simple treats. The more time consuming can be “puffed” desserts, like Beignets or puff pastry, or a dessert with multiple layers, such as Dobos Torta.
Now is also the time to really intensify praying and/or singing the Regina Caeli. My family is always sad when Easter is over, as we love this prayer. So between the Ascension and Pentecost, we can unite our hearts with Mary and prepare for the Holy Spirit, especially through this prayer.
No matter whether the Solemnity of the Ascension is celebrated on Thursday or Sunday, it is still keeping with the liturgy of the Church to observe the Ascension on Thursday, the fortieth day after Easter. We can do small ways to keep the joy of the Ascension throughout Thursday through Sunday. We also should unite with the Church in imitating the first novena for preparation for Pentecost.

Pope Francis expresses sorrow for the people of Manchester

Pope Sends Telegram for Terrorist Attack at Concert in Manchester
‘His Holiness Pope Francis was deeply saddened to learn of the injury and tragic loss of life caused by the barbaric attack in Manchester, and he expresses his heartfelt solidarity with all those affected by this senseless act of violence’
Pope writing a letter
Pope Francis has sent his condolences to the victims of the terrorist attack last evening, May 22, 2017 in Manchester, toward the conclusion of the concert of the concert of young American singer, Ariana Grande. The explosion, thought to be terrorism, claimed the lives of at least 22 people and injured some 59 others.
Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, sent the telegram on the Pope’s behalf.
Below is the Vatican-provided text of the Pope’s message:
His Holiness Pope Francis was deeply saddened to learn of the injury and tragic loss of life caused by the barbaric attack in Manchester, and he expresses his heartfelt solidarity with all those affected by this senseless act of violence. He commends the generous efforts of the emergency and security personnel, and offers the assurance of his prayers for the injured, and for all who have died. Mindful in a particular way of those children and young people who have lost their lives, and of their grieving families, Pope Francis invokes God’s blessings of peace, healing and strength upon the nation.
Cardinal Pietro Parolin
Secretary of State

After meeting President Trump, Pope Francis has his Wednesday General Audience

GENERAL AUDIENCE: Pope: ‘Like the Disciples, We Too Are Sent Forth to Encounter Others’
Official Summary of the Catechesis — May 24, 2017
General Audience
Here is the Vatican-provided English-language summary of the Pope’s address at the General Audience this morning:
Dear Brothers and Sisters: In our continuing catechesis on Christian hope, we now consider the Risen Jesus’ encounter with the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. Unrecognized, the Lord walks with them and listens as they tell of how their hopes were shattered by the tragedy of the cross. Jesus then slowly opens their hearts to a new and greater hope by explaining how the Scriptures were fulfilled in the suffering and death of the Messiah. Only later, in the breaking of the bread, is he revealed as the Risen Lord, present in their midst. He then disappears and the disciples return to Jerusalem to bring back the good news. The Emmaus account shows us Jesus’ “therapy of hope”, based on a patient accompaniment that gradually opens us to trust in God’s promises. It also shows us the importance of the Eucharist, in which, like bread, Jesus “breaks” our lives and offers them to others. Like the disciples, we too are sent forth to encounter others, to hear their joys and sorrows, and to offer them words of life and hope based on God’s unfailing love, which accompanies us at every step of life’s journey.
I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s Audience, particularly the groups from England, Hong Kong, India, Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia, Guam, Zimbabwe, Canada and the United States of America. In the joy of the Risen Christ, I invoke upon you and your families the loving mercy of God our Father. May the Lord bless you all!
[Original text: English]

Pope Francis meets President Trump at the Vatican

Pope Francis Receives US President Donald J. Trump
Holy Father Receives Newly-elected President of United States of America
Pope Francis received President of the United States of America, Donald Trump, today, May 24, 2017, at about 8:30 a.m. in the Apostolic Palace, before Francis’ weekly General Audience in St. Peter’s Square.
The meeting was broadcasted by Vatican Television and can be watched via this link:
According to a statement released by the Holy See Press Office, the discussions, which lasted about 30 minutes, were cordial.
“Satisfaction was expressed for the good existing bilateral relations between the Holy See and the United States of America as well as the joint commitment in favour of life, and freedom of worship and conscience. It is hoped that there may be serene collaboration between the State and the Catholic Church in the United States, engaged in service to the people in the fields of healthcare, education and assistance to immigrants.
The discussions, it also noted, “enabled an exchange of views on various themes relating to international affairs and the promotion of peace in the world through political negotiation and inter-religious dialogue, with particular reference to the situation in the Middle East and the protection of Christian communities.”
President Trump also met with Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, and Vatican Secretary for Relations with States, Archbishop Paul Gallagher.
After the audience, President Trump’s wife, Melania, will visit the Vatican’s children’s hospital Bambino Gesu, and his daughter, Ivanka, will visit the Rome-based charitable community, Sant’Egidio.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

This king of Scotland put church and faith first

St. David I of Scotland


Feastday: May 24
Birth: ~1080
Death: 1153

David, the youngest son of Scotland's virtuous queen, (Saint) Margaret, succeeded his brother to the Scottish throne in 1124. David's friend, (Saint) Aelred, abbot of the English monastery of Rievaulx, was later to recount David's religious devotion and his generosity to the poor. From his riches he also endowed the founding of several dioceses and many monasteries. David was to express profound remorse for an ill-conceived and ill-fated invasion of England he had ordered on behalf of his niece. He also suffered the sorrow of the premature death of his only son. On Friday, May 22, 1153, as David was nearing death, he received the anointing of the sick and Viaticum, after which he devoted himself to reciting the Psalms with those at his bedside. The next day, the king told those urging him to take a rest from his devotions, "Let me rather think about the things of God, so that my spirit may set out strengthened on its journey from exile to home. When I stand before God's tremendous judgment seat, you will not be able to answer for me or defend me." He thus continued with his prayers. David died at dawn on Sunday, May 24

Tuesday Morning Preaching with Pope Francis

Pope at Morning Mass: For Denouncing Worldliness, Good Consecrated Are Persecuted
At Casa Santa Marta, Francis Recalls Tragic Fate of Blessed Oscar Romero
Pope Francis delivers his homily in Santa Marta
Consecrated people, Pope Francis says, have been persecuted for denouncing attitudes of worldliness, because the evil spirit prefers a riskless and lukewarm Church.
According to Vatican Radio, Pope Francis made this observation during his daily morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta, as he recalled Chapter 16 of the Acts of the Apostles, and stories of Paul and Silas in Philip.
Two years after beatification, the Pope remembered the Archbishop of San Salvador. Blessed Oscar Romero was killed by military squadrons linked to the military regime for denouncing violence against the poor.
In his homily, Francis decried how many are persecuted for telling the truth. “This is repeated in the history of salvation,” he stressed.
“In the Church,” he said, “when someone denounces so many ways of worldliness, he is looked at with crooked eyes.”
“I remember in my land many so many men and women who were good consecrated [people], not ideologues, but who said, ‘No, the Church of Jesus is so …’ – ‘This is communist, out!’ And they threw them away, They persecuted them,” he said.
“Think of the Blessed Romero, right? What happened to tell the truth. And many, many in the history of the Church, even here in Europe. Because? Because the evil spirit prefers a tranquil, risk-free Church, a business church, a comfortable church, in the comfort of warmth, lukewarm. ”
Francis also noted that the bad spirit always comes from the pockets, and lamented when money takes control.
Besides denouncing this corruption, Francis turned to the importance of joyfully announcing Jesus. He stressed the need for joy.
“And this is the path of our daily conversion: to move from a worldly, tranquil, safe, Catholic, yes, yes, but cozy, state of life, to the true proclamation of Jesus Christ, to the joy of Christ’s announcement.”
“To move from a religion that looks too much on earnings, [to] faith, and proclaiming: “‘Jesus is the Lord.”
This, he said, is the miracle that the Holy Spirit does.
Before concluding, Pope Francis highlighted: “A Church without martyrs gives mistrust; A Church that does not risk gives mistrust; A Church that is afraid to announce Jesus Christ and to drive away demons, idols, other ‘lords’, such as money, is not the Church of Jesus

Tuesday Saint of the Day

Unable to get the text to work this morning, I am providing the following link for our Saint of the Day:

St. John Baptist de Rossi

Monday, May 22, 2017

Monday Morning Papal Preaching

‘Open Your Heart,’ Pope Suggests at Morning Mass

At Casa Santa Marta, Francis Calls on Faithful to Make Sure They Try to Listen Openly to Holy Spirit
Pope Francis delivers his homily in Santa Marta
Open your hearts…
According to Vatican Radio, Pope Francis gave this recommendation during his daily morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta, saying only if we do so, will we be able to hear the Holy Spirit and therefore witness Christ.
Reflecting on Jesus’ words to His disciples at the Last Supper, namely that ‘I will not leave you orphans; I will send you an advocate, the Holy Spirit, to defend you before the Father,’ Francis focused his homily on the Holy Spirit.
Francis reminded that the Paraclete “accompanies us’ and teaches us to say: “Jesus is the Lord.”

The Spirit, Jesus’ gift, Francis highlighted, can be seen as the ‘traveling companion’ of the Church. Only He, the Pope pointed out, “teaches us to say, ‘Jesus is the Lord.’”
“Without the Holy Spirit, none of us is able to say it, to perceive it, to live it. Jesus, in other places in this long discourse, said of Him [the Holy Spirit]: ‘He will lead you into all truth,’ He will accompany you towards the full truth. ‘He will bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you; He will teach you all things.’
“The Holy Spirit,” he stressed, “is the traveling companion of every Christian, and also the traveling companion of the Church. And this is the gift that Jesus gives us.”
Don’t Close Him Out
Francis warned that if we do not open our hearts to the Holy Spirit, He cannot get in.
“The Holy Spirit,” he continued, is “a gift, the great gift of Jesus, Who does not lead us astray.”
“The Church,” the Jesuit Pope reminded, “calls the Spirit ‘the sweet guest of the heart’: He is there. But He cannot enter a closed heart. ‘Ah, but where can one buy the keys to open the heart?’ No! That too is a gift. It is a gift of God: ‘Lord, open my heart so that the Spirit can enter it, and I can understand that Jesus is the Lord.’”
A prayer we should say every day, the Pope suggested, is: “Lord, open my heart so that I can understand what You have taught us; so that I can remember Your words; so that I can follow Your words; so that I can come to the fullness of the truth.”
Hearts Truly Open
The Pope called on those present to discern whether their hearts are truly open to the Holy Spirit.
The readings of the Mass, the Pope observed, suggest two questions we can ask ourselves: “The first: Do I ask the Lord for the grace that my heart might be opened? … The second question: Do I seek to hear the Holy Spirit, His inspirations, the things He tells my heart that I might advance in the Christian life, and that I too might bear witness that Jesus is the Lord?”
Pope Francis concluded, saying, let us think about these two things today: “Is my heart open? Do I make an effort to listen to the Holy Spirit, to what He tells me? And so we advance in the Christian life, and we too bear witness to Jesus Christ.”

Sunday, May 21, 2017

She longed to suffer like her Savior

St. Rita


Image of St. Rita


Feastday: May 22
Patron of impossible cases, difficult marriages, and parenthood
Birth: 1381
Death: 1472
Beatified By: by Pope Urban VII in 1627
Canonized By: by Pope Leo XIII on May 24, 1900

Saint Rita was born Margherita Lotti in Roccaporena, Italy in 1381. The day after her baptism, Rita was surrounded by a swarm of white bees, which went in and out of her infant mouth without hurting her. Rather than being alarmed, her family believed she was marked to be virtuous and devoted to God.
At an early age, she begged her parents to allow her to enter a convent but was instead arranged to be married to a cruel man named Paolo Mancini. Young Rita became a wife and mother at only twelve years of age and her husband was a man of violent temper. In anger, he often mistreated Rita verbally and physically. He was also known to pursue other women and he had many enemies.
Paolo had many enemies in Cascia, but Rita's influence over him eventually led him to be a better man. He even renounced a family feud between the Mancinis and Chiquis. Unfortunately, the feud between the Mancini and Cascia family grew turbulent and one of Paolo's allies betrayed and killed him.
Following her husband's death, Rita gave his murderers a public pardon, but Paolo's brother, Bernardo, was still angry and encouraged Rita's two sons, Giovanni Antonio and Paulo Maria, to join the feud. Under their uncle's leadership, each boy became more and more like their father had been before Rita married him, and they wanted to avenge their father's murder.
Rita attempted to stop them, but both of her sons were determined to revenge their slain father. Rita prayed to God, asking Him to take her sons before they lost their souls to the mortal sin of murder. One year later, her prayers were answered when both of her sons fell prey to dysentery and died.
Following the deaths of her sons, Rita attempted to enter the monastery of Saint Mary Magdalene in Cascia, but she was not allowed to join. Though Rita's character and piety were recognized, her husband's association with the family feud was greatly feared.
When Rita persisted, the convent told her she could join if she could find a way to mend the wound between the Chiquis and Mancinis.
After asking John the Baptist, Augustine of Hippo, and Nicholas of Tolentino to help her in her task, she attempted to end the feud.
The bubonic plague had been spreading through Italy at that time, and when Bernardo Mancini became infected, he finally abolished the feud with the Chiqui family.
Once the conflict was resolved, Rita was allowed to enter the monastery at the age of thirty-six. It is said that she was transported into the monastery of Saint Magdalene through levitation at night by the three patron saints she appealed to.
While at the monastery, Rita performed her duties faithfully and received the sacraments frequently. Rita had a great devotion to the Passion of Christ, and one day, when she was sixty-year-old, she asked, "Please let me suffer like you, Divine Saviour."
After her request, a wound appeared on her forehead, as if a thorn from Christ's crown had pierced her. It left a deep wound, which did not heal, and it caused her to suffer until the day she died.
It is said that as she neared the end of her life, Rita was bedridden from tuberculosis. It was then that she asked a cousin who had come to visit for a rose from the garden in her old home. As it was January, her cousin did not expect to find any roses, but there was a single rose in bloom, which was brought back to Rita at the convent.
She passed away four months later, on May 22, 1457.
Following her death, she was buried at the basilica of Cascia, and was later discovered to be incorrupt. Her body can be found today in the Saint Rita shrine at Cascia.
Rita was beatified by Pope Urban VIII in 1627 and canonized by Pope Leo XII on May 24, 1900