Monday, September 30, 2013

My first New Orleans Saints post for 2013; 4-0 despite...

For totally different reasons, Saints fans had to wonder what kind of team would the Saints put on the field.  Last year it was the head-coach-less Saints and the aftermath of bounty-gate; this year it was the total rebuilding of a defense and the return of the maestro: Sean Payton.

In 2012, no one could have predicted 7-9 and a losing season, the first in 6 years.  In 2013, no one could have realistically thought 4-0 at this point with a defense needing total overhaul.  Not to mention that once the Saints went out and signed some quality free-agent help for the defense, one by one they fell, injuries sidelining at least 3 quality starters.  But after an amazing preseason, where records don't matter but the building of a team indeed matters, the Saints looked pretty good.

Regular season would present an immediate challenge: Atlanta.  The hated Falcons were one of the preseason favorites to either win the NFC or be right there with SF for the championship.  Oh by the way, Atlanta is 1-3; hmmm.  The Saints win a thriller, not to the last defensive stand with seconds left, but win they did!  And another nail biter on the road against Tampa left Saints fans feeling happy yet still uneasy at 2-0.  The overwhelming victories against Arizona and previously unbeaten Miami has the delirious fans of the 4-0 Saints thinking is this 2009 all over again?  I say let's answer that after the next two weeks when road games bring the Saints to Chicago and New England.  If the Saints come home from that road trip at 5-1, I say the Saints are indeed contenders.

As 4-0 plays out, the Saints know, as does the football world, that this is a Brees, Graham, Sproles, Colston kind of team.  These 4 guys are beasts; the best of the best!  It's important to recognize here and now that this offense is getting it done with no Lance Moore, no Mark Ingram(although what's new there) and no real running game and an offensive line that is working hard but not up to par.  But again, Brees, Graham, Sproles and Colston is a lot of firepower!!

How bout that defense.  This time last year the Saints statistically had the worst defense in the history of the NFL.  This year they are ranked in top 5 and are making turnovers happen again.  Who are they?  The starting d-line has 2 undrafted free agents and Cam Jordan; the LB core has some of it's best talent injured and on the bench.  The D-backfield is the best I've seen since that magical 2009 season.  By the way, in addition to turnovers the Saints are getting QB sacks too; nothing fires up a crowd like a solid QB sack!

So welcome back coach Payton, thank God for the four offensive superstars named above and thanks coach Ryan for that solid defensive scheme and the unnamed Saints defense that continues to succeed!

Geaux Saints; go ahead and make 2013 magical too!

The Saint known as the Little Flower!

St. Therese of Lisieux

St. Therese of Lisieux
St. Therese of Lisieux
Feastday: October 1
Patron of the Missions
1873 - 1897

Generations of Catholics have admired this young saint, called her the "Little Flower", and found in her short life more inspiration for own lives than in volumes by theologians.
Yet Therese died when she was 24, after having lived as cloistered Carmelite for less than ten years. She never went on missions, never founded a religious order, never performed great works. The only book of hers, published after her death, was an brief edited version of her journal called "Story of a Soul." (Collections of her letters and restored versions of her journals have been published recently.) But within 28 years of her death, the public demand was so great that she was canonized.

October 1st brings the Super 8 summit with Pope Francis and his hand picked Cardinals

Cardinals to begin reform summit with pope           

Pope Francis attends a consistory at the Vatican
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Pope Francis (R) attends a consistory at the Vatican September 30, 2013. REUTERS/Osservatore Romano
By Philip Pullella
VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Eight cardinals will begin closed-door meetings with Pope Francis on Tuesday to help him reform the Vatican's troubled administration and map out possible changes in the worldwide Church.
Francis, who has brought a new style of openness, simplicity and a conciliatory tone to the papacy, wants to consult more with Church officials around the world before making decisions affecting the life of the 1.2-billion-member Church.
Some of the topics expected to be discussed are how to give women a greater role in the Church short of the priesthood, financial reform, the position of divorced Catholics, and the continued fallout from the worldwide sexual abuse crisis.
Francis announced the papal advisory board of cardinals, revolutionary for a Church steeped in hierarchical tradition, a month after his election as the first non-European pope in 1,300 years and the first from Latin America.
His decision to take advise from the cardinals from Italy, Chile, India, Germany, Democratic Republic of Congo, the United States, Australia and Honduras, is a clear sign that he intends to take seriously calls from within the Church for de-centralization in a traditionally top-heavy institution.
Each cardinal polled their faithful and bishops about what should be discussed at the meetings, which will be closed to even top officials from the Vatican's Secretariat of State, which is itself a target of reform.
The group's chairman, Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, told a Canadian Catholic television network he had 80 pages of suggestions from Latin America alone.
The other cardinals on the advisory board are Giuseppe Bertello of Italy, Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa of Santiago, Chile, Oswald Gracias of Mumbai, India, Reinhard Marx of Munich, Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya of Kinshasa, Sean Patrick O'Malley of Boston and George Pell of Sydney.
The group's main task is to suggest changes to a constitution by the late Pope John Paul II called "Pastor Bonus," which gave the various departments that run the Church their current structure in 1988.
The Curia, as it is known, has been riven by scandals over the years and bishops around the world have deemed it heavy-handed, autocratic, condescending and overly bureaucratic.
Maradiaga said the constitution governing the structure of the Curia would have to be re-written rather than modified.
Former Pope Benedict, who resigned in February, left a secret report for Francis on the problems of the Curia, which were exposed when sensitive documents were stolen from Benedict's desk by his butler and leaked to the media.
There have been suggestions that some Vatican departments be merged and others closed in order to make the Curia more efficient and to prevent corruption.
Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi told reporters on Monday about 80 documents had been prepared for discussion.
"No-one should expect the Curia or the governance of the Church to be reformed in three days," he said, adding Francis had decided to make the council a permanent fixture with an open-ended mandate.
After three days of meetings, the eight cardinals will accompany Francis to the central Italian hill town of Assisi on Friday. Francis took his name from the saint who is revered around the world as a symbol of austerity, simplicity, concern for the poor and a love of the environment.
(Reporting By Philip Pullella; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

Prayer with the Pope for his October intentions

The Pope's Monthly Prayer Intentions for October

The Holy Father's monthly prayer intentions for the month of October are for:

People in Despair. That those feeling so crushed by life that they wish to end it may sense the nearness of God's love.

World Mission Day. That the celebration of World Mission Day may help all Christians realize that we are not only receivers but proclaimers of God's word.

Benedict XVI may join Pope Francis for the canonization of Pope Bls. John Paul II and John XXIII


Vatican: Benedict XVI may attend pope canonization

Vatican: Benedict XVI may attend pope canonization
Credit: GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images
A car passes by Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican on March 7, 2013 at the Vatican as cardinals are still in a meeting of pre-conclave to set the date for the start of the conclave and help identify candidates among the cardinals to be the next Pope of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics.               
Posted on September 30, 2013
VATICAN CITY (AP) — Popes John Paul II and John XXIII will be declared saints on April 27 at a ceremony that might see two living popes honoring two dead ones.
The Vatican on Monday said retired Pope Benedict XVI might join Pope Francis in the saint-making ceremony for their predecessors, noting that there was no reason why Benedict should have to watch the ceremony on TV.
"There's no reason — either doctrinal or institutional — that he couldn't participate in a public ceremony," the Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi said. "I don't have any reason to exclude it."
He noted there was still time before the ceremony and that Benedict was free to decide what to do.
Benedict, who became the first pope in 600 years to retire when he stepped down in February, had said he would spend his final days "hidden from the world" in the Vatican monastery.
But he has taken on a more public profile recently, writing a letter to an Italian atheist that was published last week in Italy's La Repubblica newspaper and appearing with Francis over the summer at a ceremony to unveil a Vatican statue.
Francis had announced in July he would canonize two of the 20th century's most influential popes together, approving a miracle attributed to John Paul's intercession and bending Vatican rules by deciding that John XXIII didn't need a second one to be canonized.
Analysts have said the decision to canonize them together was aimed at unifying the church, since each pope has his admirers and critics. Francis is clearly a fan of both: On the anniversary of John Paul's death this year, Francis prayed at the tombs of both men — an indication that he sees a great personal and spiritual continuity in them.
Both popes are also closely identified with the Second Vatican Council, the 1962-65 meetings that brought the Catholic Church into modern times, an indication that Francis clearly wants to make a statement about the council's role in shaping the church today.
A spokesman for Poland's bishops' conference, the Rev. Jozef Kloch, said the dual canonizations would stress the fact that John Paul II continued the ideas introduced by John XXIII, who called Vatican II.
Originally, the canonization was expected to have taken place Dec. 8. But Polish bishops complained that a December date would make it difficult for Polish pilgrims to come to the Vatican by bus along snowy, icy roads. As a result, the first Sunday after Easter was chosen instead — a feast day established by John Paul himself.
It was on that same feast day — Divine Mercy Sunday — that John Paul was beatified in 2011, drawing 1.5 million pilgrims to Rome.
John Paul made Jorge Mario Bergoglio — the current Pope Francis — a cardinal. Francis' immense popular appeal has also been likened to that of John XXIII, dubbed the "good pope."
Monika Scislowska contributed from Warsaw.
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Divine Mercy Sunday set for canonization for Bl. Popes JPII and John XXIII

Canonization date announced for Blessed Popes John Paul II and John XXIII

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Monday morning held the Public Ordinary Consistory for the forthcoming Canonization of Blessed Pope John XXIII and Blessed Pope John Paul II. During the course of the Consistory in the Vatican's Consistory Hall, the Pope decreed that his two predecessors will be raised to Sainthood on April 27, 2014, the day on which the Church celebrates the Second Sunday of Easter and Divine Mercy.

Text from page
of the Vatican Radio website

Abraham as a model of prayer

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ

St. Jerome
Doctor of the Church

St. Jerome<br> Doctor of the Church
St. Jerome
Doctor of the Church

Feastday: September 30
Patron of Librarians
331 - 420

St. Jerome, who was born Eusebius Hieronymous Sophronius, was the most learned of the Fathers of the Western Church. He was born about the year 342 at Stridonius, a small town at the head of the Adriatic, near the episcopal city of Aquileia. His father, a Christian, took care that his son was well instructed at home, then sent him to Rome, where the young man's teachers were the famous pagan grammarian Donatus and Victorinus, a Christian rhetorician. Jerome's native tongue was the Illyrian dialect, but at Rome he became fluent in Latin and Greek, and read the literatures of those languages with great pleasure. His aptitude for oratory was such that he may have considered law as a career. He acquired many worldly ideas, made little effort to check his pleasure-loving instincts, and lost much of the piety that had been instilled in him at home. Yet in spite of the pagan and hedonistic influences around him, Jerome was baptized by Pope Liberius in 360. He tells us that "it was my custom on Sundays to visit, with friends of my own age and tastes, the tombs of the martyrs and Apostles, going down into those subterranean galleries whose walls on both sides preserve the relics of the dead." Here he enjoyed deciphering the inscriptions.

After three years at Rome, Jerome's intellectual curiosity led him to explore other parts of the world. He visited his home and then, accompanied by his boyhood friend Bonosus, went to Aquileia, where he made friends among the monks of the monastery there, notably Rufinus. Then, still accompanied by Bonosus, he traveled to Treves, in Gaul. He now renounced all secular pursuits to dedicate himself wholeheartedly to God. Eager to build up a religious library, the young scholar copied out St. Hilary's books on and his Commentaries on the Psalms, and got together other literary and religious treasures. He returned to Stridonius, and later settled in Aquileia. The bishop had cleared the church there of the plague of Arianism and had drawn to it many eminent men. Among those with whom Jerome formed friendships were Chromatius (later canonized), to whom Jerome dedicated several of his works, Heliodorus (also to become a saint), and his nephew Nepotian. The famous theologian Rufinus, at first his close friend, afterward became his bitter opponent. By nature an irascible man with a sharp tongue, Jerome made enemies as well as friends. He spent some years in scholarly studies in Aquileia, then, in search of more perfect solitude, he turned towards the East. With his friends, Innocent, Heliodorus, and Hylas, a freed slave, he started overland for Syria. On the way they visited Athens, Bithynia, Galatia, Pontus, Cappadocia, and Cilicia.

The party arrived at Antioch about the year 373. There Jerome at first attended the lectures of the famous Apollinaris, bishop of Laodicea, who had not yet put forward his heresy1 With his companions he left the city for the desert of Chalcis, about fifty miles southeast of Antioch. Innocent and Hylas soon died there, and Heliodorus left to return to the West, but Jerome stayed for four years, which were passed in study and in the practice of austerity. He had many attacks of illness but suffered still more from temptation. "In the remotest part of a wild and stony desert," he wrote years afterwards to his friend Eustochium, "burnt up with the heat of the sun, so scorching that it frightens even the monks who live there, I seemed to myself to be in the midst of the delights and crowds of Rome.... In this exile and prison to which through fear of Hell I had voluntarily condemned myself, with no other company but scorpions and wild beasts, I many times imagined myself watching the dancing of Roman maidens as if I had been in the midst of them. My face was pallid with fasting, yet my will felt the assaults of desire. In my cold body and my parched flesh, which seemed dead before its death, passion was still able to live. Alone with the enemy, I threw myself in spirit at the feet of Jesus, watering them with my tears, and tamed my flesh by fasting whole weeks. I am not ashamed to disclose my temptations, though I grieve that I am not now what I then was."

The concept of being and it's bearing on what we do and what we fail to do!

A couple of weeks ago I reflected on the concept of being:

I must admit, I never anticipated the reaction, all so very positive, as this blog post has become the most read post that I have personally written.  I hope everyone gets the concept because as we like to say in the diaconate: it's not what we do, it's who we are.  It is vital, especially for Catholics and all Christians, to embrace their being.  Made in the image and likeness of God, being His child, and being the brothers and sisters of Jesus, and one another, is the totality of our identity!  Along the way, I have been approached by one or two who stumbled across my post to ask me if I am saying that our doing is meaningless?  The answer, of course, is absolutely not.  However, now it's time to explore how our doing flows from our being.  Our doing is really the living witness of who you and I are!

If you are involved to any degree with the life of the typical active Catholic parish, you may marvel at that small but enthusiastic % of people who are at every event and do everything.  Unlike me, you probably just accept this fact as fact.  I will try and get to know that precious % because I always like to see if they "get it".  Most of the time it is vey evident that what they do flows beautifully from their "being".  These are people who have embraced the giftedness of who they are, their being as gift from God, and then gladly and joyfully share their being by the witness of their doing!  Every now and then, I may encounter a "doer" who is confused and unsure about their "being".  In these cases, their doing is very beneficial to the Body of Christ, but in speaking with them, asking probing questions, or listen deeply to long held beliefs, things don't square.  In other words, these would be folks that know all about God, but don't buy all God is selling, or perhaps their life is more shaped by other things than the faith part, like societal or political beliefs.  And in these cases, the "doing" is more like fire insurance.  Said another way, I'm not just all sold on this God, me, personal relationship thing and seeing Christ in ALL others, so I'll do more for extra protection; fire insurance for that ticket to Heaven.

Sometimes it's not in the doing at all where we give witness to our being; it's in the "what we have failed to do".  I can think of no greater example than the one evidenced in today's Gospel.  The rich man, who failed to do anything for Lazarus in this life, because of who he is, cannot even deny himself in the after life.  From that great chasm that Father Abraham describes in the Gospel, the rich man continues to demand of Lazarus like he should be his personal slave.  Tell Lazarus to bring me cool water, tell Lazarus to go to my brother.  Even now, because of who he his, the rich man fails to do, or say, anything kind or respectful to or about Lazarus.

So I guess my message here today, especially for those among you who were never comfortable with the whole concept of being over doing, is let's examine a couple of things in the week ahead.  List the things you do.  List the things you fail to do.  Really dig deep here.  Leave no stone unturned in remembering all the doing and not doing.  And now the really hard part, ask yourself why.  Why do I do this or why do I fail to do that?  This should be undertaken prayerfully and then examine who you are.  Is there balance in what I do and even in what I fail to do when framed against who you are.

Remember my earlier post; our being, now properly understood in the context of doing, makes us more in right relationship with God over one who just does out of an unhealthy appreciation of being and a relationship not in balance with God.

It indeed still is who we are that is important; more so than our doing.  And may that which we "do", always flow from our being!

Encouraging news about Future Priests

Faculty and candidates for graduation assemble in the Bruening-Marotta Library of Saint Mary Seminary in Wickliffe, Ohio, on May 8, 2013. (Photo by Renata M. Courey / courtesy Saint Mary Seminary and Graduate School of Theology and Diocese of Cleveland)
After decades of glum trends—fewer priests, fewer parishes—the Catholic Church in the United States has a new statistic to cheer: More men are now enrolled in graduate-level seminaries, the main pipeline to the priesthood, than in nearly two decades.
This year’s tally of 3,694 graduate theology students represents a 16 percent increase since 1995 and a 10 percent jump since 2005, according to Georgetown University’s Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA).
Seminary directors cite more encouragement from bishops and parishes, the draw of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and the social-justice-minded Pope Francis, and a growing sense that the church is past the corrosive impact of the sexual abuse crisis that exploded in 2002.
Ultimately, it was “a calling in my heart,” says Kevin Fox.
He walked away from his electrical engineering degree and a job in his field, working with CT scanners, to enter St. Mary Seminary in Wickliffe, Ohio, in his home diocese, Cleveland, this fall.
“I always had an inkling that I might want to be a priest and my parish priest told me he thought I might be called,” said Fox, 24. “But I put it aside.”
With a fresh degree from Case Western Reserve and his first post-graduation job, Fox soon realized the secular path “wasn’t filling my soul with joy.”
Now, after years of pure science, Fox is immersed in pure theology–and loving it. The challenges of the culture, such as crude jokes from strangers about the abuse crisis, have not dissuaded him.
“I feel the church has done a great deal to deal with (preventing) abuse and the seminary took a lot of care in screening and training us to make sure we are the good guys,” Fox said.
Fox is one of 72 students currently enrolled in the undergraduate and graduate programs at St. Mary, the highest number in decades, said the Rev. Mark Latcovich, president and rector.
Latcovich credits encouraging current seminarians and priests who are “our best recruiters. If they are happy and witnessing their faith and opening their hearts, that enthusiasm and joy is contagious.”
Young men today “want to give their life for something that counts. These men are tired of living in a culture of relativism. They want to say there must be something true, beautiful and good. They have discovered the beauty of God,” said Latcovich.
Monsignor Craig Cox, rector of St. John’s Seminary in Camarillo, Calif., said the upward trend leading to their current record class of 92 graduate seminarians began six years ago.
He also cited “a renewal of idealism,” a stronger push for vocations by priests and bishops, and “receding damage” from the abuse crisis.
Cox, who sat in on admission discussions, says his students are drawn from Southern California to Las Vegas and range in age from 22 to 45. While they’re younger than previous classes, they bring “a great level of maturity” to get through a rigorous admissions process.
“Ultimately, I believe that the Spirit is at work,” Cox said.
CARA’s new statistical look at the church shows the seminary-to-priesthood patterns and other shifts in American Catholic life:
* Annual ordinations have inched back up to the 1995 level of 511 new priests, still far below the peak of 994 in 1965.
* New ordinations won’t catch up to the thousands of retirements and deaths of ‘60s-era priests: the total number continues to slide from 58,632 priests in 1965 to 39,600 in 2013.
* The number of parishes without a resident priest is still growing – up from 3,251 in 2,005 to 3,554 now.
* A two-decade-long trend of parish consolidations and closings has led to fewer parishes where pastoral care is led by a deacon, religious sister or brother, or a layperson. Their number peaked in 2005 at 553 and now is down to 428.
Blame demographics, says CARA’s senior research associate, Mary Gautier.
“Catholics don’t live where they lived 15 years ago. They’ve moved south and west, from urban to suburban areas and they didn’t take their parishes with them,” Gautier said. “The smaller, older lay-led places without a resident priest are often the first to be closed.”
The church keeps growing – 1 percent a year. CARA offers two totals, varying by the source: 78.2 million if you go by self-identification recorded in surveys; 66.8 million if you go by the “Official Catholic Directory” where parishes report their numbers.
Meanwhile, the declining numbers of people who identify with Protestant denominations has led to falling numbers in their seminaries since 2006, said Eliza Brown, spokeswoman for Association of Theological Schools, which represents more than 270 seminaries.
Between 2006 and 2012, the number of students enrolled in Master of Divinity programs at Protestant and non-denominational Christian seminaries fell from 31,532 to 29,249, Brown said.
“Their congregations are less able to afford for full-time, theologically educated clergy,” she said. “And students, who graduate with debts, can’t afford to take part-time or low-paying pulpit positions.”

>>>First seen at Deacon's Bench!

What leads us to pray?

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Pope Leo XIII and the Prayer to St. Michael and a little Pope John Paul II, the Blessed, too

The vision of Pope Leo XIII

The prayer to St. Michael

"Saint Michael, the Archangel, defend us in battle; be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, O prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God, thrust into Hell, Satan and all the other evil spirits, who prowl throughout the world, seeking the ruin of souls. Amen."

Exactly 33 years to the day prior to the great Miracle of the Sun in Fatima, that is, on October 13, 1884, Pope Leo XIII had a remarkable vision. When the aged Pontiff had finished celebrating Mass in his private Vatican Chapel, attended by a few Cardinals and members of the Vatican staff, he suddenly stopped at the foot of the altar. He stood there for about 10 minutes, as if in a trance, his face ashen white. Then, going immediately from the Chapel to his office, he composed the above prayer to St. Michael, with instructions it be said after all Low Masses everywhere.
When asked what had happened, he explained that, as he was about to leave the foot of the altar, he suddenly heard voices - two voices, one kind and gentle, the other guttural and harsh. They seemed to come from near the tabernacle. As he listened, he heard the following conversation:
The guttural voice, the voice of Satan in his pride, boasted to Our Lord: "I can destroy your Church."
The gentle voice of Our Lord: "You can? Then go ahead and do so."
Satan: "To do so, I need more time and more power."
Our Lord: "How much time? How much power?
Satan: "75 to 100 years, and a greater power over those who will give themselves over to my service."
Our Lord: "You have the time, you will have the power. Do with them what you will."

In 1886, Pope Leo XIII decreed that this prayer to St. Michael be said at the end of "low" Mass (not "high", or sung Masses) throughout the universal Church, along with the Salve Regina (Hail, Holy Queen); and the practice of the congregation praying these prayers at the end of Mass continued until about 1970, with the introduction of the new rite of the Mass.

John Paul II and St. Michael

However, at the end of his Angelus message given in St. Peter’s Square, Sunday, April 24, 1994, Pope John Paul II urged Catholics to recite this prayer to Saint Michael once again:
"The prayer can fortify us for that spiritual battle about which the Letter to the Ephesians speaks [of]: "Finally, draw your strength from the Lord and from his mighty power."(Ephesians 6:10). And to this same battle that the Book of the Apocalypse refers [to], recalling in front of our eyes the image of St. Michael the Archangel (cf. Revelations 12:7). Surely, this scene was very present to Pope Leon XIII, when, at the end of the previous century, he introduced to the entire Church a special prayer to St. Michael: ‘St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle; be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil… ’
"Even if today this prayer is no longer recited at the end of the Eucharistic celebration, I invite all to not forget it, but to recite it in order to obtain help in the battle against the forces of darkness and the spirit of this world."

The Archangels: Michael, Gabriel, Raphael

Feast of the Archangels: September 29


September 29  is the Feast of the Archangels.  Although there are seven archangels (Tobit 12:15, Rev. 8:2), only three are mentioned by name in the Catholic Bible: St. Michael, St. Gabriel, and St. Raphael.  Only one, St. Michael, is specifically called an archangel.
According to Catholic tradition, the archangels are an order of angels within a hierarchy of angelic hosts.  There are nine orders, or choirs, of angels.  As derived in part from St. Paul, these are (in ascending order):  1) Angels,  2) Archangels, 3) Virtues, 4) Powers, 5) Principalities, 6) Dominations, 7) Thrones, 8) Cherubim and 9) Seraphim. The nine choirs of angels are broken into three groups of three, but beyond this basic organization there is not much more in Sacred Tradition about the specific duties and distinctions of these mysterious creatures of God.
I.     1. Seraphim (highest)
        2. Cherubim
        3. Thrones
II.    4. Dominions
        5. Virtues
        6. Powers
III.  7. Principalities
        8.  Archangels
        9.  Angels (lowest)
According to this chart, it may be surprising that the archangels are one of the lowest choirs of angels.  Archangels are called such because their choir is above that of the “regular” angels, therefore they are referred to as the “prince” of the angels that rank beneath them.  Both angels and archangels have the most dealings with humans as recorded in the Catholic Bible.

Saint Michael

Michael means, “Who is like God?“.   Of the three angels mentioned by name in the Catholic Bible, St. Michael the Archangel is mentioned the most. He is found in the Old Testament in Daniel 10:13-21, 10:21, 12:1, and in the New Testament in Rev. 12:7-9 and Jude 1:9.  St. Michael is most known for doing battle against Lucifer (who was probably a seraph) and casting him and the demons out of heaven.

Saint Gabriel

Gabriel means “Power of God“.  Saint Gabriel the Archangel is mentioned the most after St. Michael.  He is found in the Old Testament in Daniel 8:15-26 and 9:21-27, and in the New Testament in Luke 1:11-38. St. Gabriel is most known for the Annunciation.  He is the angel who appeared to the Blessed Virgin Mary announcing the Incarnation of Jesus Christ in her womb.

Saint Raphael

Raphael means “God has healed“.  Saint Raphael the Archangel is only mentioned once in the Catholic Bible, in Tobit chapter 12.  He therefore is known based on this one reference for healing, protection, and intercession.

Learn more about these amazing creatures that God has appointed for our salvation by looking up each reference mentioned above in your Catholic Bible and read the accompanying stories.  Maybe then you will consider having a special devotion to one of these angelic saints. From the Responsorial Psalm in today’s Feast of the Archangels Mass reading:
R.  In the sight of the angels I will sing your praises, Lord.
I will give thanks to you, O LORD, with all my heart,
for you have heard the words of my mouth;
in the presence of the angels I will sing your praise;
I will worship at your holy temple
and give thanks to your name.

Pastor preaching, murdered in cold blood

Pastor shot, killed during Lake Charles church service

  Sep 28, 2013                  


LAKE CHARLES, La. —A Louisiana pastor has been shot and killed during a nighttime revival service, and authorities say a suspect has been arrested.
Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Kim Myers says the shooting occurred about 8:20 p.m. Friday at Tabernacle of Praise Worship Center in Lake Charles.
Myers says a gunman walked into the church and shot Pastor Ronald J. Harris Sr. as he was preaching. Harris was pronounced dead at the scene.
Myers says 53-year-old Woodrow Karey of Lake Charles is charged with second-degree murder and was held in the parish jail Saturday.
Myers says authorities are investigating and have not determined a motive for the shooting.

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The power of prayer

Friday, September 27, 2013

Good King Wenceslaus...

St. Wenceslaus I, Duke of Bohemia

St. Wenceslaus I, Duke of Bohemia
St. Wenceslaus I, Duke of Bohemia
Feastday: September 28
Patron of Bohemia, Czech state, Prague
907 - 935

Patron saint of Bohemia, parts of Czech Republic, and duke of Bohemia frorn 924-929. Also called Wenceslas, he was born near Prague and raised by his grandmother, St. Ludmilla, until her murder by his mother, the pagan Drahomira. Wenceslaus's mother assumed the regency over Bohemia about 920 after her husband's death, but her rule was so arbitrary and cruel in Wenceslaus' name that he was compelled on behalf of his subjects to overthrow her and assume power for himself in 924 or 925. A devout Christian, he proved a gifted ruler and a genuine friend of the Church. German missionaries were encouraged, churches were built, and Wenceslaus perhaps took a personal vow of poverty Unfortunately, domestic events proved fatal, for in 929 the German king Heinrich I the Fowler         (r. 919-936) invaded Bohemia and forced Wenceslaus to make an act of submission. This defeat, combined with his pro-Christian policies, led a group of non-Christian nobles to conspire against him. On September 28, 919, a group of knights under the leadership of Wenceslaus' brother Boreslav assassinated the saint on the doorstep of a church. Virtually from the moment of his death, Wenceslaus was considered a martyr and venerated as a saint. Miracles were reported at his tomb, and his remains were translated to the church of St. Vitus in Prague which became a major pilgrimage site. The feast has been celebrated at least since 985 in Bohemia, and he is best known from the Christmas carol "Good King Wenceslaus."

It is so close I can't wait!

Yep, it's time for this old Southern boy to get a little giddy; the best time of the year for us in southeast Louisiana starts soon.  As these last few days of September fade, we await October 1st and the beginning of the "good" six month period of the year as we say goodbye to the "bad" six months of the year.

Anyone reading this outside of the deep south needs to see this through my lens.  After all even the "dead of winter" down here is relative.  We celebrate nighttime lows in the sixties here as a "change of season".  Even though the 1st week of October is promising highs around 88, there is light at the end of the tunnel.  At least the highs of 99 with 100% humidity should be over, all the way until late March or early April.  Some of our winter days are what others would call good autumn weather.  I can't wait!

As summers go, this one was far from the worst; heavier and more frequent rains kept temps down even though soggy summers here are not without so uncomfortable moments.  The best thing, so far, is we have had zero threat of hurricanes.  Now let's tread carefully here, dreaded hurricane season lasts until November 30th but usually no threats this late is good news.  Of course one freak late season storm can change that instantly.

So I excitedly await the many days and weeks that exist from now until late spring.

Come on October, I can't wait!

Louisiana death penalty vacated by court; background on this case included

La. high court vacates man's Nov. 5 execution date

Generic Jail


Generic Jail
NEW ORLEANS —The Louisiana Supreme Court has vacated a Nov. 5 execution date for a man convicted of fatally beating and scalding his 6-year-old stepson in 1992.

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Pope and Patriarch of Orthodox of Antioch meet, discuss Christian unity and pray!

Pope Francis meets with Patriarch John X of Antioch, brother of kidnapped bishop
2013-09-27 18:59:34  Printable version Printable version

YoutubeSeptember 27, 2013. ( It was a historic meeting between Pope Francis, the leader of the Catholic Church, and Patriarch John X, the leader of the Orthodox Church of Antioch, one of the oldest Christian communities in the Middle East.

-“I hope that you feel at home.” 
-“Thank you very much.” 

The two leaders exchanged pleasantries before sitting down to speak on a number of serious topics. With the help of an interpreter, Pope Francis and Patriarch John X discussed their desire for Christian unity and the progress of ecumenical dialogue. 

The Church of Antioch is based in the Syrian capital, so both leaders also spoke about the ongoing civil war. It's very personal issue for Patriarch John X, since gunmen kidnapped his brother, Boulos Yazigi, Metropolitan of Aleppo, in April, along with another bishop. They still have no information on their whereabouts or even if they're alive. 

“The dean of the St. John of Damascus Institute of Theology.” 

After their meeting, the Syrian patriarch introduced a few Church leaders that traveled with him. After posing for pictures, they exchanged gifts. Pope Francis gave him a large papal medallion. Meanwhile, Patriarch John X brought along several meaningful gifts, including a Byzantine icon of two very important figures. 

“St. Peter and Paul you know, the founders of our Faith; St. Peter, the founder of your Church.” 

Both the Catholic Church and the Church of Antioch trace their roots to Apostles Peter and Paul. In the back of the icon, the Patriarch of Antioch wrote a personalized message that Pope Francis knows all too well. 

“Keep us in your prayers.” 

In addition to the icon, the Patriarch also gave the Pope a book about monasteries in the Middle East, as well as videos from several of his visits to the area. 

But perhaps the most lasting image of their historic meeting will be this one. As the two leaders pray for each other, before bidding farewell. 

Longing for God!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Devoted to the poor and patron Saint of charitable societies

St. Vincent de Paul

St. Vincent de Paul
St. Vincent de Paul
Feastday: September 27
Patron of charitable societies

St. Vincent was born of poor parents in the village of Pouy in Gascony, France, about 1580. He enjoyed his first schooling under the Franciscan Fathers at Acqs. Such had been his progress in four years that a gentleman chose him as subpreceptor to his children, and he was thus enabled to continue his studies without being a burden to his parents. In 1596, he went to the University of Toulouse for theological studies, and there he was ordained priest in 1600.
In 1605, on a voyage by sea from Marseilles to Narbonne, he fell into the hands of African pirates and was carried as a slave to Tunis. His captivity lasted about two years, until Divine Providence enabled him to effect his escape. After a brief visit to Rome he returned to France, where he became preceptor in the family of Emmanuel de Gondy, Count of Goigny, and General of the galleys of France. In 1617, he began to preach missions, and in 1625, he lay the foundations of a congregation which afterward became the Congregation of the Mission or Lazarists, so named on account of the Prioryof St. Lazarus, which the Fathers began to occupy in 1633.
It would be impossible to enumerate all the works of this servant of God. Charity was his predominant virtue. It extended to all classes of persons, from forsaken childhood to old age. The Sisters of Charity also owe the foundation of their congregation to St. Vincent. In the midst of the most distracting occupations his soul was always intimately united with God. Though honored by the great ones of the world, he remained deeply rooted in humility. The Apostle of Charity, the immortal Vincent de Paul, breathed his last in Paris at the age of eighty. His feast day is September 27th. He is the patron of charitable societies.

Bishop Fabre readying for his new assignment in Houma Thibodaux

New bishop ready to lead: Personal motto is: 'Comfort my people'                          

Posted: Wednesday, September 25, 2013 1:57 pm | Updated: 3:10 pm, Wed Sep 25, 2013.
The Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux’s new spiritual shepherd is a Louisiana-born cleric with a reputation for approachability, who has handled difficult assignments in the past and says he is ready to take on the task of tending to the needs of the region’s estimated 126,000 Catholics. Bishop Shelton Fabre will officially take charge Oct. 30, succeeding Bishop Sam Jacobs, who is retiring after serving in the post for decade. Fabre’s last assignment was as Auxiliary Bishop for the Archdiocese of New Orleans.
The Houma-Thibodaux diocese includes the civil parishes of Lafourche, Terrebonne and St. Mary.
“I rejoice in the opportunity to become a part of this local church and this unique area of our state of Louisiana,” Fabre said. “The varied natural beauty that abounds in this diocese is reflective of the beauty of the rich cultural diversity of our church, and of the glory of the Lord God who created it all.”
The statement was made as part of the Monday announcement that Fabre was appointed by Pope Francis, following notification of pending retirement from Jacobs that was sent to the Vatican in March. Jacobs had reached the mandatory retirement age for bishops of 75 years, mandating a search for a successor.
Local priests said they were not aware of the appointment – or the imminent departure of Jacobs – until Monday morning, when both he and Fabre made their joint announcement at the diocesan headquarters on La. Highway 311 in Schriever.
Fabre himself is a living example of the diversity he mentioned in his statement. He is the first black bishop to serve in the diocese.
“I believe that he is the right person at this time of the life of this great diocese,” Jacobs said of Fabre. “At this point in my lifetime, I know it is time for me to pass the torch of administration and embrace more fully the priestly ministry I was ordained for. My plans are to live in Houma and continue to serve the church until the Lord calls me to Him.”
Jacobs said he has known Fabre since his ordination to the bishopric in New Orleans, and that what he knows of Fabre leaves no doubt that the diocese is being left in good hands.
As Bishop Emeritus, Jacobs will perform all priestly functions including celebration of mass.
He will no longer be responsible for administrative functions – duties he said he is not sad to leave behind – including overseeing the organization’s budget.
Last year, according to its financial report, the total revenues of the diocese topped $15 million.
Its assets include more than $58 million in cash and investments and more than $21 million in property and equipment.
The focus Monday was not on balance sheets or other temporal matters, however, but the passing of leadership from one prelate to another, in an announcement witnessed by priests and nuns, ending with a con-celebrated mass in the simple conference room at the headquarters.
During a question-and-answer session, Fabre was asked how he views recent statements by Pope Francis regarding the manner in which the church handles issues such as homosexuality and legalized abortion. Some local Catholics have been openly critical of what they see as a pope who has gone soft on the abortion issue in particular. Globally, the pontiff’s statements have given rise to some ire among conservative Catholics.
“We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible,” the pope was quoted as saying in a Catholic publication. “The teaching of the church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time.”
The Vatican has since clarified the pope’s remarks, and the pontiff himself has restated his opposition to abortion itself.
There has been no apparent confusion in the mind of Houma-Thibodaux’s new bishop, however, who answered the question put to him with no hesitation.
“The Holy Father has not changed the church teaching,” Fabre said. “The church teaching remains the same. The tone has changed. The Holy Father is telling us we must always speak the truth and that resonates very well with me.”
The crux of the pontiff’s statements, Fabre said, can be summed up in aspects of a personally-adopted motto he drew from Isaiah: “Comfort my people.”
As auxiliary bishop of New Orleans, Fabre was called on to do some difficult comforting, which initially resulted in some mixed reviews.
In 2009, the Archdiocese and Catholic Charities together agreed to pay more than $5 million in settlements to adults who were plaintiffs in 20 lawsuits. The adults claimed that years ago they were beaten, sexually molested and otherwise abused as children at the Madonna Manor and Hope Haven orphanages during the 1950s and 1960s.
Archbishop Gregory Aymond drew some public fire for not naming the eight priests and nuns accused in the cases that resulted in settlements; Bishop Fabre was appointed by Aymond to meet with each victim individually, to be the ears and voice of the archdiocese in extending love and comfort.
Some of the victims gave Fabre good marks.
Others said they were less impressed.
Roger Stetter, a New Orleans attorney who represented some of the victims, said he initially was told that Fabre’s words amounted to apologies in a framework that did not affirm the veracity of the claims.
“It was more of a cautious thing that ‘if these things happened’ the archdiocese was sorry about it,” Stetter said Monday, when asked to recall Fabre’s role.
Stetter acknowledged that the opinion was not held by all the claimants, and said that when another round of complainants came forward and Fabre was again required to offer comfort and aid, there was an improvement in how things were handled.
“Obviously, he learned from his experience,” Stetter said. “He was able to use what was said initially to do a better job.”
The abuse at the homes occurred before Fabre was born. The bishop did not flinch when asked about the Madonna Manor cases Monday, and the task he was given.
“Some people were very unhappy,” he acknowledged, when asked about the statements by Stetter and others. “But I wanted to be there to hear their stories. I wanted to be able to say we heard their stories and I accepted that responsibility. My role, I felt, was to be there to let them know the church apologizes and that we are still here.”
The experience, Fabre acknowledged, marked a heavy burden for him as a priest, but of greater importance, he said, was recognition of the burden victims had to carry for years. Fabre made his statements toward that end in response to a direct question about the enormity of the task and its effect on him as a priest and as a man.
“I did pray a lot, I did speak with my spiritual director a lot,” he said. “It was the grace of those people who, at that time, were able to say ‘thank you’ that helped. The ones who were not ready to say that I am not disparaging at all, but those who were grateful that I was there that strengthened me.”
Fabre’s predecessor is no stranger to controversies arising out of abuse cases either.
Jacobs – although not accused of sexual abuse – was named as a defendant in a suit against the Diocese of Alexandria. According to that suit, which has not been resolved, Jacobs allegedly had knowledge that a priest who was later criminally prosecuted for sexually abusing a teen while the priest stayed as a house guest at the home of the parents had a history of abusing youngsters.
Jacobs has never directly addressed the suit.
He was deposed – by Stetter – in a case brought against the Houma-Thibodaux Diocese and later settled, because of abuse against an altar boy allegedly committed by a parish priest, Etienne LeBlanc.
The alleged abuse far pre-dated Jacobs’ appointment as bishop, however. Alleged complacency by Diocesan officials involving alleged bad acts by LeBlanc would have occurred during the tenure of Bishop Warren Boudreaux, the first bishop of the Houma-Thibodaux Diocese.
Jacobs has been praised for work he has done as an advocate for children in the Houma-Thibodaux Diocese, and it was under his stewardship that a greatly expanded directive on protection of youth was put into place.
Some local priests indicated that their new bishop is not a stranger.
Monsignor Frederic Brunet of St. Joseph’s Church in Chauvin said his own brother – also a priest – knew Fabre during his time serving in Baton Rouge.
“He is a good man. I know him and my brother, Jules, he is retired now, he knew him as a priest, I think he is a wonderful man with great talent, great ability and likable,” Brunet said. “He also knows the Cajun people and will get along well with them.”
Fabre’s formal installation will take place Oct. 30 at 2 p.m. at the Cathedral of St. Frances de Sales in Houma.
Jacobs, who was born in Greenwood, Miss., grew up in Lake Charles.
He was ordained to the priesthood in Lafayette in 1964 and became the 10th bishop of Alexandria in 1989, before his appointment in Houma-Thibodaux.
Fabre was the fifth of six children born to Luke and Theresa Fabre. He was ordained a transitional deacon in 1988 in Belgium; his ordination as a priest was in Baton Rouge. His first appointment as a bishop – to New Orleans – was in 2006 by Pope Benedict XVI. His elevation to Auxiliary Bishop in New Orleans was held at St. Louis Cathedral in 2007.
He holds a master’s degree in religious studies from the Katholiek Universiteit in Belgium as well as a bachelor’s in religion from there. He earned a bachelor’s in history from St. Joseph Seminary in St. Benedict in 1985.
Fabre attended Catholic High School of Pointe Coupee in New Roads.
“In God we place our hope and our trust,” Fabre told the gathered religious at the formal announcement. “And we can be confident that God will never leave us to endure anything alone. I look forward to this faith journey with all of you. As I pledge my prayers for all in the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux, I ask your prayers for me as well.”

Poverty in spirit


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

A great article by Deacon Greg Kendra about, what else, Deacons and their busy work at ministry!

Life of a deacon entails busy schedule and endless wonders

He often has to keep one foot in sanctuary, one foot on sidewalk to provide service to priests, people

By Deacon Greg Kandra - OSV Newsweekly, 10/6/2013
Deacon Kandra
On an otherwise unremarkable Sunday in July 2007, I found myself face-to-face with a bewitching young Irish lass, Margaret Flanagan, who would forever change my life.
I remember gazing down at her pink cheeks and laughing eyes. I recall fondly that gaping toothless grin and her scream that could shatter stained glass.
How could I forget her? Margaret Flanagan was the first baby I baptized.
My brief encounter with her marked one more milestone in my journey as a newly ordained deacon.
What a journey it’s been. From the moment it began in May 2007, my life as a deacon has been marked by moments of unexpected grace. I have been renewed. I’ve been inspired. I’ve been challenged. I’ve been awed.
One of my favorite hymns from my childhood is “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty,” with its thundering verse: “Ponder anew what the Almighty can do!” I’ve been doing a lot of pondering over the last six years.
And I’ve been doing a lot … of everything.
Blessed busyness
To be a deacon in today’s Church is to be busy. Very busy. A parishioner once described a deacon to me as “the priest’s helper.” That about sums it up. And priests need more help today than ever. Besides babies to baptize, there are couples to marry and houses to bless and homilies to preach. My calendar fills up quickly. On any given week, a deacon may find himself teaching RCIA, attending a parish council meeting, training altar servers, taking Communion to the homebound and spending a night or two poring over a biblical commentary to find the seeds of that Sunday’s homily. All that, in addition to helping his own kids with their homework and attending a parent-teacher conference and finding time to clean out the gutters and figure out why the car is leaking oil and explaining to his daughter why having her nose pierced — despite what her friends are saying — may not be the coolest thing she’s ever done.
Deacon Kandra
Deacon Greg Kandra processes with his wife at his Mass of Thanksgiving, the day after he was ordained in 2007. Photo courtesy of Greg Kandra
Yes, it’s a busy life.
And it’s a wonderful life, too — a life of unexpected blessings and surprises and lessons.
Ah, lessons. Before ordination, deacon candidates spend up to five years attending classes, retreats, workshops and seminars, often with their wives. For a lot of us, it’s a shock. I remember sliding into a desk for the first time in 30 years, staring at a blackboard and getting a whiff of the inescapable aroma of chalk. “What,” I wondered, “am I doing here?”
I would find myself asking that question a lot in the years that followed — feeling unworthy of the job God was asking me to do and feeling, also, inadequate. Who am I, I kept wondering, to be doing any of this? Like a priest, the deacon can find himself entering peoples’ lives at pivotal moments — celebrating birth and marriage, walking someone through an annulment, counseling a parishioner in crisis, offering a word of consolation at a wake or funeral. He sometimes meets people when they are most frightened and vulnerable; it might be in line at a soup kitchen or behind bars in a prison or in a funeral parlor moments before the casket is closed over a husband or a father or a child. More than a few times, it can bring the deacon to his knees — or to tears.
Ministry’s gifts
Ask a deacon, and he will tell you: there is no way to explain how he gets through those moments, how he finds the will and the energy week after week, year after year, to keep the spark burning.
Who are Deacons?
In June, the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate Georgetown University released its study of deacons in the United States, “A Portrait of the Permanent Diaconate.” Here are some findings:
◗ Sixty percent of deacons have at least a college degree.
I credit much of it to something elusive and sacred — that certain something that makes what is seemingly impossible possible and transforms the mundane into the mysterious.
Call it simply: the grace of orders. It is the Holy Spirit, hard at work.
And it is a gift. Everything the deacon is ordained to do is an astonishment, a wonder, a gift of sublime service. It is a gift to serve at the altar, to serve the people of God in charity, and to serve the Word of God from the ambo. And the deacon does all this while witnessing to the Gospel in a unique way.
He fulfills a distinct role in the modern Church; as I like to tell people, he keeps one foot in the sanctuary and the other on the sidewalk. Most deacons hold down secular jobs. We are lawyers, bankers, accountants, retired cops, journalists, office managers. We balance budgets, change diapers, coach soccer — and bless marriages, proclaim the Gospel and offer Benediction. A deacon reads his children to sleep Saturday night and tries to keep his congregation awake on Sunday morning. The hand that held his son’s baseball mitt at Little League practice also holds the chalice during Mass. And then, the deacon brings all that life experience with him into the pulpit when he preaches.
Yes, it is all a gift. And it is all grace.
Guided by love
The deacon doesn’t do it alone, of course. His two great collaborators are God and God’s most valued assistant, the deacon’s wife. My wife is an endless source of encouragement — an honest critic of my homilies (“I sort of dozed off there,” she once told me after Mass) and a trusted helper who doesn’t mind assisting at baptisms (as someone I call the “Minister of the Towel”). She’s gotten used to hearing me deliver the same homily to groups of young parents with squealing babies again and again and again. After nearly 30 years of marriage, she’s used to my droning. She loves me anyway.
Love, of course, lies at the heart of all a deacon does. It is love of God, and the Church, and the people he is able to serve. Love was surely there on that July afternoon six years ago when I baptized little Margaret Flanagan and my wife dabbed away the water on her head with a towel. I found myself wiping away drops that had inadvertently splashed into my face — only to realize it was, in fact, my own tears.
If I didn’t quite grasp it then, I do now: something great was just beginning.
For Margaret.
And, I think, for me.
A deacon for the Diocese of Brooklyn, Greg Kandra is multimedia editor for Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA) and writes and edits the popular blog “The Deacon’s Bench” at