Thursday, July 31, 2014

On August 1st we also remember our 1st Pope under the title Peter in Chains

Image of St. Peter in Chains


Feastday: August 1

To please the enemies of the Christians, Herod Agrippa had put St. James to death, and now he planned to do the same to St. Peter, the Head of the Church. Once he had him in prison, he set a heavy guard about him to make sure he would not escape. But all the Christians of Jerusalem were begging the Lord to save St. Peter, and their prayers were answered.  The night before he was to be condemned, St. Peter was peacefully sleeping in his prison cell between his two guards bound tightly by two chains. He was unafraid of death and ready to do God's will. Suddenly an angel appeared and tapped him on the side to awaken him. He told him to get up at once, put on his cloak and sandles and follow him. At the same moment, both the chains fell from his hands! Out the two went, past two sets of guards, to the gate. This iron gate opened to them by itself and the angel led St. Peter out to the street. Then he disappeared. Up to then, Peter had thought he might be dreaming, but now he new that God had really sent an angel to free him! What joy and gratitude filled his heart! At once, the Apostle went to the home of Mary, St. Mark's mother, where many Christians were praying for his safety. He knocked at the door and a young woman named Rhoda came to ask who it was, without opening the door. When she heard St. Peter's voice, she ran joyfully to tell the others. They, however, could not believe the news. "It must be his angel," they said when she kept insisting. Meanwhile St. Peter knocked again. At last they let him in, and their happiness was immense when they saw it was truly St. Peter himself! He told them how the angel had freed him, and altogether they blessed and thanked the Lord. The feast day is August 1st.

Founder of the Redemptorists and Doctor of the Church

Image of St. Alphonsus Marie Liguori


Feastday: August 1
Death: 1787

Bishop, Doctor of the Church, and the founder of the Redemptorist Congregation. He was born Alphonsus Marie Antony John Cosmos Damien Michael Gaspard de Liguori on September 27,1696, at Marianella, near Naples, Italy. Raised in a pious home, Alphonsus went on retreats with his father, Don Joseph, who was a naval officer and a captain of the Royal Galleys. Alphonsus was the oldest of seven children, raised by a devout mother of Spanish descent. Educated at the University of Naples, Alphonsus received his doctorate at the age of sixteen. By age nineteen he was practicing law, but he saw the transitory nature of the secular world, and after a brief time, retreated from the law courts and his fame. Visiting the local Hospital for Incurables on August 28, 1723, he had a vision and was told to consecrate his life solely to God. In response, Alphonsus dedicated himself to the religious life, even while suffering persecution from his family. He finally agreed to become a priest but to live at home as a member of a group of secular missionaries. He was ordained on December 21, 1726, and he spent six years giving missions throughout Naples. In April 1729, Alphonsus went to live at the "Chiflese College," founded in Naples by Father Matthew Ripa, the Apostle of China. There he met Bishop Thomas Falcoia, founder of the Congregation of Pious Workers. This lifelong friendship aided Alphonsus, as did his association with a mystic, Sister Mary Celeste. With their aid, Aiphonsus founded the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer on November 9, 1732. The foundation faced immediate problems, and after just one year, Alphonsus found himself with only one lay brother, his other companions having left to form their own religious group. He started again, recruited new members, and in 1743 became the prior of two new congregations, one for men and one for women. Pope Benedict XIV gave his approval for the men's congregation in 1749 and for the women's in 1750. Alphonsus was preaching missions in the rural areas and writing. He refused to become the bishop of Palermo but in 1762 had to accept the papal command to accept the see of St. Agatha of the Goths near Naples. Here he discovered more than thirty thousand uninstructed men and women and four hundred indifferent priests. For thirteen years Alphonsus fed the poor, instructed families, reorganized the seminary and religious houses, taught theology, and wrote. His austerities were rigorous, and he suffered daily the pain from rheumatism that was beginning to deform his body. He spent several years having to drink from tubes because his head was so bent forward. An attack of rheumatic fever, from May 1768 to June 1769, left him paralyzed. He was not allowed to resign his see, however, until 1775. In 1780, Alphonsus was tricked into signing a submission for royal approval of his congregation. This submission altered the original rule, and as a result Alphonsus was denied any authority among the Redemptorists. Deposed and excluded from his own congregation, Alphonsus suffered great anguish. But he overcame his depression, and he experienced visions, performed miracles, and gave prophecies. He died peacefully on August 1,1787, at Nocera di Pagani, near Naples as the Angelus was ringing. He was beatified in 1816 and canonized in 1839. In 1871, Alphonsus was declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope Pius IX. His writings on moral, theological, and ascetic matters had great impact and have survived through the years, especially his Moral Theology and his Glories of Mary. He was buried at the monastery of the Pagani near Naples. Shrines were built there and at St. Agatha of the Goths. He is the patron of confessors, moral theologians, and the lay apostolate. In liturgical art he is depicted as bent over with rheumatism or as a young priest.

A quick glance at August

August in the deep south, down here in these parts so very close to New Orleans means the following:

Traditionally, the hottest temperatures of the year with equally high humidity

The potential for increased tropical activity in the Atlantic, Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico

One of the earliest back to school dates, mostly here on August 7th

Saints games, first preseason game also on August 7th

Decreasing daylight in the evening but much more noticeable at dawn

Did I mention it will be hot?

Happy thoughts that autumn is getting much closer

For all us Deacons, the Feast of St. Lawrence

The beginning of love bug season

Prep football jamborees

A real live Holy Day of Obligation

And for me, while not my favorite month by far, extreme hope as we get closer and closer to the best part of the year, October thru early April!!!

Pray with the Pope's intentions for August!


  • Refugees.  That refugees, forced by violence to abandon their homes, may find a generous welcome and the protection of their rights.

  • Oceania.  That Christians in Oceania may joyfully announce the faith to all the people of that region.

Please include these intentions of the Holy Father with your prayer intentions throughout the month of August!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

From soldier, to spiritual exercises to founding the Jesuits

Image of St. Ignatius Loyola


Feastday: July 31

St. Ignatius was born in the family castle in Guip�zcoa, Spain, the youngest of 13 children, and was called I�igo. When he was old enough, he became a page, and then a soldier of Spain to fight against the French. A cannon ball and a series of bad operations ended his military career in 1521. While St. Ignatius recovered, he read the lives of the saints, and decided to dedicate himself to becoming a soldier of the Catholic Faith. Soon after he experienced visions, but a year later suffered a trial of fears and scruples, driving him almost to despair. Out of this experience he wrote his famous "Spiritual Exercises". After traveling and studying in different schools, he finished in Paris, where he received his degree at the age of 43. Many first hated St. Ignatius because of his humble Lifestyle. Despite this, he attracted several followers at the university, including St. Francis Xavier, and soon started his order called The Society of Jesus, or Jesuits. There are 38 members of the Society of Jesus who have been declared Blessed, and 38 who have been canonized as saints. He died at the age of 65.

Who will step up and really help the Christians of Iraq

Bishops' charge to US government: help Iraqi Christians


A family at the Khazair checkpoint after fleeing from Mosul, Iraq on June 11, 2014. Credit: R. Nuri UNHCR-ACNUR via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).
A family at the Khazair checkpoint after fleeing from Mosul, Iraq on June 11, 2014. Credit: R. Nuri UNHCR-ACNUR via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).
.- The U.S. bishops have urged the U.S. government to assist Iraqi Christian victims of persecution, while France has offered asylum to Iraqi Christians who have fled Mosul.

“The Islamic State has taken control of large swaths of territory in northern Iraq, leaving a trail of destruction, burning and looting ancient churches and mosques, homes and businesses,” Bishop Richard E. Pates, the U.S. bishops’ chairman of International Justice and Peace, said July 25.

“Thousands have fled with little more than the clothes on their backs, often being robbed of their few personal possessions as they ran,” he said in a letter to U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice.

Bishop Pates, who heads the Diocese of Des Moines, Iowa, cited a July 22 statement from bishops of the Chaldean Catholic, Syrian Catholic, Syrian Orthodox and Armenian Churches.

The Iraqi bishops appealed to the Iraqi government to protect Christians’ rights and the rights of other minorities targeted for violence and displacement. They also urged financial assistance and social services for the displaced.

Bishop Pates stressed the need for humanitarian aid directly provided to minority communities through trusted non-governmental organizations in order to prevent its diversion to other purposes.

He urged the U.S. government to “do all it can to provide this critical assistance to those in desperate straits and to work with other governments in an effort to stop the violence.”

Bishop Pates cited Pope Francis’ words, “violence is defeated with peace.”

Iraq’s Christians have been hit particularly hard by the rise of the jihadist group Islamic State in Iraq and Levant, known as ISIS or ISIL.

Only 20 Christian families remain in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, an ancient center of Christianity, following the city’s conquest by ISIS forces, the BBC reports.

Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Sako of Babylon, who is based in Baghdad, estimated that there were about 35,000 Christians in Mosul before the city’s fall, down from 60,000 before the 2003 U.S. invasion.

The French government has offered asylum to the Iraqi Christians who have fled Mosul.

“We are ready, if they so desire, to help facilitate asylum on our territory,” France’s foreign minister Laurent Fabius and interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve, members of the ruling Socialist government, said in a joint statement.

French opposition party the National Front on July 26 held a rally in Paris to support Iraqi Christians, BBC News reports.

Hump day happenings...

Yes, I hear it often on Wednesdays...Mike, Mike, Mike, what day is it, and I'm supposed to oblige, it's hump day.  You know it's only hump day if we have a live for the weekend mentality as opposed to live for today.  For in each "today" is it's own blessings, along with it's own ups and downs, good and bad.  But for sure, each "today" is another opportunity to praise and thank and worship God!  Wednesdays count just as much as other days of the week, so do Mondays for that matter!

Now with all that being said, I indeed am looking forward to the weekend!  On these upcoming weekend days the diaconate for the Archdiocese of New Orleans will be in complete overdrive, and I'm happy to be part of it all.  Not one, but two retreats will be taking place this weekend.  In Covington, La. at the beautifully spiritual St. Joseph Abbey, the men who are already instituted acolytes and awaiting ordination next June, will be on retreat along with their wives.  I wish them a wonderful retreat experience and will hold them in prayer.  I will not be with them this year because I will be about 20 miles or so west of the Abbey at the equally beautiful retreat center known as Rosaryville, mid-way between Ponchatoula and Springfield, La.  Here, we will welcome the recently selected men who begin their diaconate formation as aspirants, men seeking the possibility of becoming deacon candidates in a year.  Along with our diaconate director and another brother deacon, I will help present A Simple Path, from Blessed Mother Teresa along with other spiritual exercises over the weekend.  Perhaps now you know why I am so looking forward to the weekend.

Of course one does not arrive at some future date or future event without celebrating, or at least managing the now.  During what has been not the most dynamic of weeks at work, the Deacon finds himself also without his car as the old Acadia gets some much needed work done including being caught up in one of the numerous GMC recalls.  I reflected earlier today that while disappointing and inconvenient, it sure is not the end of the world.  And the bill, whenever I see that final total for parts and labor, just remember, you can't take it with you!

Hump day was another grass cutting day.  I waited to the sun was starting to go down and lo and behold, on a July 30th, thanks to lower than usual humidity and a nice breeze, it was not too hot.  What is going on this summer?  Of course, be it hot or not, wet or dry, please Lord, just keep any and all hurricanes away!

Enjoy the rest of your hump day and the end of July and be ready for the last full summer month of August.  And in all things, give God the glory and be thankful for your many blessings.

I've just about had it with all politicians; Congress can't even agree to recognize the Pope for his work

Pope Francis May Be 'Too Liberal' For House Republicans To Honor

 | By


ANDREAS SOLARO via Getty Images

A bipartisan resolution written to honor Pope Francis for his work towards social justice appears to be mired in Congress, reportedly due to his reputation among Republicans as being "too liberal," according to The Hill. The pope is expected to visit the United States in 2015 for the Catholic Church's World Meeting of Families, which will be held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), a Catholic, warmly invited Pope Francis to address Congress in a statement made in March 2014. However, House Resolution 440, which recognizes the pope's “inspirational statements and actions" and congratulates him on his election, was referred to the House Foreign Affairs Committee in December 2013 and has been languishing there ever since.
Out of the 221 co-sponsors of the resolution, a mere 19 are GOP members. A Republican supporter of the bill told The Hill that the lack of enthusiasm could be due to the belief that the pope is "too liberal," a perception drawn largely from his criticism of unfettered capitalism and trickle-down economics as well as his calls for a more equal distribution of wealth.
The Republican source told The Hill that some GOP members think Pope Francis is "sounding like [President] Obama. [The pope] talks about equality — he actually used the term ‘trickle-down economics,’ which is politically charged."
With the clock ticking on the legislative calendar, the writers of the resolution, Reps. John Larson (D-Connecticut) and Pete King (R-New York), sent a letter to Boehner on Friday to ask him to put it to a vote.
“To my knowledge this would be an historic first. I ask that you take a look at a bipartisan resolution introduced by Representative Peter King and myself, acknowledging the first Pope from the Americas ... it is my sincere hope that you will consider this resolution for the suspension calendar for a vote,” Larson wrote in the letter obtained by The Hill.
Boehner's March invitation said in part:
His tireless call for the protection of the most vulnerable among us—the ailing, the disadvantaged, the unemployed, the impoverished, the unborn—has awakened hearts on every continent.
His social teachings, rooted in ‘the joy of the gospel,’ have prompted careful reflection and vigorous dialogue among people of all ideologies and religious views in the United States and throughout a rapidly changing world, particularly among those who champion human dignity, freedom, and social justice.
These principles are among the fundamentals of the American Idea. And though our nation sometimes fails to live up to these principles, at our best we give them new life as we seek the common good. Many in the United States believe these principles are undermined by ‘crony capitalism’ and the ongoing centralization of political power in the institutions of our federal government, which threaten to disrupt the delicate balance between the twin virtues of subsidiarity and solidarity.
According to The Hill, the resolution's supporters see it as a more formal acknowledgment of Pope Francis that goes beyond the open invitation originally extended. “The Speaker’s invited him to speak, it would give it more significance if there was an actual official resolution about it,” said King.

All about Mary and few more truths about Holy Mother Church

In light of the most recent headline grabbing dust up about Catholics being Mary worshippers from that leading authority on all things Christian, some young boy dating one of the Duggar clan, here is an awesome article that Protestants and others ought to read.  The Bible only crowd has earned that term, Bible only, mostly from the fact that they take from the Bible only that which suits their needs and places them at odds with the faith handed to us from Christ Himself!!  No my friends, we Catholics don't do all the crazy things your religion has whipped up to give you some justification to exist.  Fullness of truth, full Gospel Church; existing from the beginning of the New Testament, and existing in every nation, land, proclaimed in every tongue and involved in worship at every hour of every day as the sun sweeps across the globe from east to west: The Catholic Church, where yes, we honor Mary because honoring her gives glory and worship to God.

Please read this:

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Bishop and Preacher, he is the golden worded one

Image of St. Peter Chrysologus


Feastday: July 30
Birth: 380
Death: 450

St. Peter Chrysologus, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Feast-July 30) Born at Imola, Italy in 406, St. Peter was baptized, educated, and ordained a deacon by Cornelius, Bishop of Imola. St. Peter merited being called "Chrysologus" (golden-worded) from his exceptional oratorical eloquence. In 433, Pope Sixtus III consecrated him bishop of Ravenna. He practiced many corporal and spiritual works of mercy, and ruled his flock with utmost diligence and care. He extirpated the last vestiges of paganism and other abuses that had sprouted among his people, cautioning them especially against indecent dancing. "Anyone who wishes to frolic with the devil," he remarked, "cannot rejoice with Christ." He also counseled the heretic Eutyches (who had asked for his support) to avoid causing division but to learn from the other heretics who were crushed when they hurled themselves against the Rock of Peter. He died at Imola, Italy in 450 and in 1729 was made a Doctor of the Church, largely as a result of his simple, practical, and clear sermons which have come down to us, nearly all dealing with Gospel subjects.

Great advice about preaching!

A good homilest will be concise and focus on Scripture.
A good homilist will be concise and focus on Scripture. CNS photo

A homily must be about God’s word, not yours


  • July 29, 2014
TORONTO - Perfecting the art of preaching is all about patience in preparation, says a homiletics professor. 
“I really am encouraging priests, deacons, liturgical preachers to take time,” said Fr. Joseph Mele, author of The Sacred Conversation: The Art of Catholic Preaching and the New Evangelization. “What I always try to have my students do in preparing the homily is to first of all spend time simply reading the word, reading the Scripture, studying it ... and let the word speak to them. You really need to take time to outline, to structure your homily so that you know one main point and you are going to be concise about that.”
And that main point cannot be a message from the preacher himself to the people in the pews but rather one which comes from God. Recognizing this is one of the biggest challenges young preachers struggle with, said Mele, who holds a PhD in rhetoric and communications from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh.
That’s because hearing the message from God requires patience and a willingness to put one’s own agenda aside.
“Often the first thing to come to mind is still their own thought — this is what I want to say about this passage,” said Mele, a former professor of homiletics at Saint Vincent College in Pennsylvania. “Nine times out of 10 if they just stay patient and prayerful and reflective on the word another message will come. So the priest really needs to be faithful to wait for God to communicate the message God is desiring for the people.”
Mele gave this message to the Archdiocese of Toronto’s conference in homiletics held July 7 to 10 at St. Augustine’s Seminary. The conference, part of the seminary’s centenary celebrations, aimed to improve the preaching power of the archdiocese’s priests and deacons at the request of Cardinal Thomas Collins.
“(The cardinal) wanted to put a special emphasis on improving the state of homiletics,” said Deacon Peter Lovrick, who organized the three-day event. “Every one of the last popes have talked about the urgency to improve the state of homiletics in the Church and have given some very poignant and specific challenges or calls to the Church’s preachers as kind of a vocation for us to live up to. The Church is being very clear in what it is asking for from its preachers.”
Lovrick, a professor of homiletics at St. Augustine’s, said what the Vatican desires is preaching rooted in and focusing on Scripture. By doing that Lovrick said preachers will avoid the challenges Mele spoke of.
“If you do what the Church is asking you to do then you avoid all of the problems,” said Lovrick. “The problems being making preaching your own hobby horse, implementing your own agenda, bringing your own political slants in. It is almost an abuse of the congregation when you have a captive audience and they’ve come to hear the mind of the Church and not to hear your own particular agenda.
“Keeping focus on the Scripture, keeping focus on the mind of the Church, helps one keep focus on what the Church is asking for.”
Where Lovrick and Mele had a differed was on the length of the homily. For Lovrick, ideally a preacher will stay at the pulpit for 10 to 12 minutes while his American peer prefers a briefer seven- to eight-minute homily.
But at the end of the day, quality trumps quantity for both.
“I don’t like particularly to be emphasizing time limits,” said Lovrick. “It seems to me for a bad preacher five minutes can seem terribly long and for a wonderful preacher 20 minutes may just fly by like nothing. (A good homily) is an act of worship, an act of praise and an act of love which echos and fully connects with everything else.”

>Spotted 1st at Deacon's Bench

Pope Francis has his Top Ten list for happiness

How to Be Happy, Pope Francis-Style

Pope Francis in Argentinian newspaperWhat is the recipe for happiness?
Argentine journalist Pablo Calvo asked that question of Pope Francis during an audience July 7 at the Domus Sanctae Marthae.  The pope answered amiably, addressing a group of Argentine emigrants and offering ten points.
I confess:  I read these pointers in La Croix, the French Catholic newspaper.  That means I read the Pope’s pointers in English translated from French which was translated from Spanish.  To simplify all of this, I offer the pointers in my own words.
Here, though, is Pope Francis’ advice for those who search for true happiness.
1.  Live and Let Live.  The Romans have a saying that we can take as a guiding thread.  “Go,” they said.  “and let people go ahead.  ‘Live and let live’ is the first step towards peace and happiness.”
2.  Give to Others.  Someone who remains isolated runs the risk of becoming selfish.  Remember that standing water is the first to be corrupted.
3.  Move With Kindness and Humility.  In the 1926 novel Don Segundo Sombra by Argentine poet and novelist Ricardo Güiraldes, the hero recounts how as a youth, man is like a rocky stream which hurried through the mountains, carrying everything ahead; but as an adult, he is a running river.  Then, in old age, there is movement but it is “remansado” (dammed; that is, slow and quiet).  Seniors, said the Holy Father, have the wisdom and the ability to move with kindness and humility.  A people who do not care for their seniors have no future.
4.  Take Time to Play With Children.  Consumerism, Pope Francis warned, has led to a loss of healthy leisure culture, in which people enjoy the opportunity to read, to enjoy the arts.  As Pope, Francis has little opportunity to hear confessions; but as a bishop in Buenos Aires, he heard the confessions of many young mothers who came in.  He asked them, “Do you have children?  And do you play with them?”  His question was not expected; but it was a way of reminding them that children are the key to a healthy culture.  It’s difficult for parents who must go to work early and return after their children are asleep.
5.  Spend Time With the Family on Sundays.  Recently the Holy Father spoke in Campobasso about the importance of reserving Sundays for the family.  He reminded people in the universities and the labor force that we should not work on Sunday.
6.  Help Youth to Find Employment.  “We need to be creative,” Pope Francis said, “with this segment of the population.  If there is a lack of opportunity for gainful employment, young people can get into drugs.  And the suicide rate is very high among young unemployed.  The Pope was unsure whether this was scientific data, but said that he had recently read that there are 75 million people under the age of 25 who are unemployed.  It’s not sufficient to merely feed them; instead, he hoped that they might find opportunities to be a plumber, electrician, designer…. some gainful career in which they could bring home an income.
7.  Care For Creation.  “We must care for creation,” Pope Francis said, “and we do not do so.  This is one of our biggest challenges.”
8.  Forget the Negative Quickly.  The need to speak ill of others is the mark of a low self-esteem.  This means that instead of elevating oneself, a person lowers the other.  It’s healthy, said the Pope, to quickly forget the negative.
9.  Listen To and Learn From Those Who Think Differently.   In a theme which has been quoted in the past, the Pope warned against the danger of religious proselytism, the paralyzing “I dialogue with you in order to convince you.”  Instead, dialogue should permit each to present his views for consideration.  The Church grows by attraction, not by proselytism.
10.  Seek Peace.  “We live in an era in which wars are numerous,” said the Holy Father.  War is destructive; and the call for peace needs to be shouted.  Peace sometimes evokes calmness, but peace is never quiet; it is still an active peace.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Martha, Martha, she served Christ!


Image of St. Martha


Feastday: July 29
Patron of cooks

"Jesus loved Martha and Mary and Lazarus." This unique statement in John's gospel tells us of the special relationship Jesus had with Martha, her sister, and her brother.
Apparently Jesus was a frequent guest at Martha's home in Bethany, a small village two miles from Jerusalem. We read of three visits in Luke 10:38-42, John 11:1-53, and John 12:1-9.
Many of us find it easy to identify with Martha in the story Luke tells. Martha welcomes Jesus and his disciples into her home and immediately goes to work to serve them. Hospitality is paramount in the Middle East and Martha believed in its importance. Imagine her frustration when her sister Mary ignores the rule of hospitality and Martha's work in order to sit and listen to Jesus. Instead of speaking to her sister, she asks Jesus to intervene. Jesus' response is not unkind, which gives us an idea of his affection for her. He observes that Martha is worried about many things that distract her from really being present to him. He reminds her that there is only one thing that is truly important -- listening to him. And that is what Mary has done. In Martha we see ourselves -- worried and distracted by all we have to do in the world and forgetting to spend time with Jesus. It is, however, comforting to note that Jesus loved her just the same.
The next visit shows how well Martha learned this lesson. She is grieving the death of her brother with a house full of mourners when she hears that Jesus has just come to the area. She gets up immediately and leaves the guests, leaves her mourning, and goes to meet him.
Her conversation with Jesus shows her faith and courage. In this dialogue she states clearly without doubt that she believes in Jesus' power, in the resurrection, and most of all that Jesus is the Son of God. Jesus tells her that he is the resurrection and the life and then goes on to raise her brother from the dead. Our final picture of Martha in Scripture is the one that sums up who she was. Jesus has returned to Bethany some time later to share a meal with his good friends. In this home were three extraordinary people. We hear how brother Lazarus caused a stir when was brought back to life. We hear how Mary causes a commotion at dinner by annointing Jesus with expensive perfume. But all we hear about Martha is the simple statement: "Martha served." She isn't in the spotlight, she doesn't do showy things, she doesn't receive spectacular miracles. She simply serves Jesus.
We know nothing more about Martha and what happened to her later. According to a totally untrustworthy legend Martha accompanied Mary to evangelize France after Pentecost.
But wouldn't it be wonderful if the most important thing that could be said about us is "They served"?
Martha is the patron saint of servants and cooks.

Pope Francis spends his Monday evening visiting with the Pentecostal Church in Caserta Italy

Papal first: Pope Francis visits Pentecostal church

The Associated Press By The Associated Press The Associated Press
on July 28, 2014 

Pope Francis has become the first pope to visit a Pentecostal church, pressing his outreach to evangelicals who represent Catholicism's greatest competition for Christian souls around the globe.
Francis flew by helicopter Monday to visit the under-construction Evangelical Church of Reconciliation in the southern city of Caserta. He met privately with Pentecostal preacher Giovanni Traettino, an old friend.
Speaking to some 350 Pentecostal faithful in the church, Francis apologized for Catholic persecution of Pentecostals during Italy's fascist regime, when the practice of their faith was forbidden, and stressed that there was unity in diversity within Christianity.
"Among those who persecuted and denounced Pentecostals, almost as if they were crazy people trying to ruin the race, there were also Catholics," he said. "I am the pastor of Catholics, and I ask your forgiveness for those Catholic brothers and sisters who didn't know and were tempted by the devil."
He acknowledged the remarkable nature of his visit, saying: "Someone will be surprised: 'The pope went to visit the evangelicals?' But he went to see his brothers."
Catholics have often compared Pentecostal groups to cults and accused them of overly aggressive, unethical proselytizing. The popular, charismatic movements have drained parishioners from the Catholic Church, particularly in Francis' own Latin America.
But Francis has met unofficially with several Pentecostal and evangelical preachers recently, including the Texas televangelists James Robinson and Kenneth Copeland. He recorded an iPhone video for a Pentecostal conference hosted by Copeland, whose prosperity gospel ministry — stressing that God will reward the faithful with health and wealth — clashes with Francis' own embrace of the value of a "poor church."
Not all evangelicals or Catholics have welcomed the pope's outreach: Some traditionalist Catholics have sought to minimize the pope's initiative, stressing that Traettino and others represent only their individual churches.
In a statement earlier this month on the eve of the Caserta meeting, several Italian evangelical groups met in the same city and stressed the "incompatibility" of their beliefs with that of the Catholic Church and its pope.

Rewarding yes, frustrating yes indeed; Catholic blogging

For a little independent blog, this experiment called the abitadeacon does pretty well.  I sure wish I always had the time to pen an essay every day but then I would not be about the business of family, career and ministry.  While I view this blog as an integral part of my ministry, it must wait for availability. 

Now the rewards come from all the folks who read this blog, especially my homilies that I post frequently and those who follow the blog.  The rewards are magnified when it is used as a vehicle by others to grow in right relationship with God and grow closer to the faith.

It is indeed frustrating too.  I never can understand the swings of maybe 300 visitors one day, then something south of 200 the next.  I sincerely don't understand much about blogging in terms of traffic sources and visits.  Yet today, in just 3 short hours, the abitadeacon fetched about 6 visitors.  Why?  I really don't know.

Yet despite the frustration I take comfort in the truth that if this blog, as an instrument of faith, reaches just one person a day, then to God be the glory.  Maybe someone finds their way here to reinforce their faith or perhaps another comes here in their perpetual search.  In any event, I appreciate all of you for visiting the blog and hope more will visit, and visit often!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Progress in the cause of eventual Sainthood for Pope John Paul I

John Paul I's beatification cause may advance, cardinal says

John Paul I. Credit: ANSA/OLDPIX.
John Paul I. Credit: ANSA/OLDPIX.
.- A document advancing the beatification of John Paul I is ready, and will be given to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints this autumn, according to the emeritus Secretary of State.

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone announced the milestone during his homily at Mass in the Belluno cathedral July 20.

The beatification process of John Paul I had been slowed because the “positio” had not been completed. The positio is the document that the postulator prepares, presenting the “pros” and “cons” of a person's possible beatification.

After the positio is submitted, theologian consultants to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, and the Promoter of Faith, will vote on whether to approve the document for further consideration.

If they approve, the members of the congregation then will give their response. If they too approve, the cause for beatification will be referred to Pope Francis for approval.

John Paul I was born in the Diocese of Belluno and Feltre in 1912, as Albino Luciani. He was ordained a priest of the diocese in 1935, at the age of 22, and was appointed Bishop of Vittorio Veneto in 1958. He then served as Patriarch of Venice from 1969 until his election as Bishop of Rome in 1978.

He served as Pope for 33 days before his death, presumably of a heart attack.

Shortly after his death, requests to begin his beatification process came from many parts of the world. These requests were formalized in 1990, with a document signed by 226 Brazilian bishops.

The diocesan phase of the investigation, held in Belluno, was opened in 2003 and closed in 2006. The Congregation for the Causes of Saints approved the documents of the diocesan investigation in 2008.

A miracle has already been attributed to the intercession of John Paul I: the 1992 healing of Giuseppe Denora, from the Diocese of Altamura-Gravina-Acquaviva delle Fonti. Denora was suddenly healed from a malignant tumor in the stomach after seeking the late Pope's intercession.

However, the reputed miracle still awaits the approval of both the council of doctors and the council of theologians who work for the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

St. John Paul II declared his predecessor a Servant of God on Nov. 23, 2003. If his cause advances, he wil next be named “Venerable.”

Luciani's positio was expected to have been prepared for the centenary of his birth, but was delayed until now because members of the team advocating for his cause wanted to double-check all of the document.

In 2012, the postulator of the cause, Bishop Enrico dal Covolo, rector of the Pontifical Lateran University, had submitted instead the witnesses' summary, the first of the four documents which make up a positio.

John Paul I’s beatification process is very close to Cardinal Bertone’s heart. The beatification cause had been promoted in 2002 by the cardinal’s close friend and fellow Salesian, Bishop Vincenzo Savio of Belluno-Feltre.

Bishop Savio died in 2004. Since then, fame of his own sanctity has spread to the degree that many have requested the opening of his canonization process.

“We will have to wait for something more for him,” Cardinal Bertone said to CNA.

5th century Pope: Rome has spoken

St. Innocent I

Image of St. Innocent I


Feastday: July 28

Innocent was born at Albano, Italy. He became Pope, succeeding Pope St. Anastasius I, on December 22, 401. During Innocent's pontificate, he emphasized papal supremacy, commending the bishops of Africa for referring the decrees of their councils at Carthage and Millevis in 416, condemning Pelagianism, to the Pope for confirmation. It was his confirmation of these decrees that caused Augustine to make a remark that was to echo through the centuries: "Roma locuta, causa finitas" (Rome has spoken, the matter is ended). Earlier Innocent had stressed to Bishop St. Victrius and the Spanish bishops that matters of great importance were to be referred to Rome for settlement. Innocent strongly favored clerical celibacy and fought the unjust removal of St. John Chrysostom. He vainly sought help from Emperor Honorius at Revenna when the Goths under Alaric captured and sacked Rome. Innocent died in Rome on March 12. His feast day is July 28th.

Seasons of Grace uncover this beautiful story of a religious order for women with down's syndromel; just beautiful!

Women With Down Syndrome Respond to God’s Call

Sisters with Down SyndromeTo offer oneself to God, in witness to the Gospel of Life.
This is the mission of the Little Sisters Disciples of the Lamb, a contemplative order in France which opens its doors to women who feel a call to religious life, but who may be turned away from other orders because they have Down Syndrome.  The community depends on other sisters who do not have Down Syndrome, but who have committed to share their lives with these lovely, holy women.
The community was founded in 1985 with the support and encouragement of Jerome Lejeune, the French pediatrician and geneticist whose laboratory research uncovered the link to chromosomal abnormalities including Trisomy 21 (Down Syndrome).
Sister with Down SyndromeIn 1990, the group was canonically recognized as a public association by the Archbishop of Tours. The Sisters now reside in a priory in Blanc, where they model their lives after St. Therese of Lisieux’s “Little Way”.  A leaflet published by the community explains:
We follow every day the “little way” taught by Saint Therese; knowing that “great actions are forbidden to us”, we learn from her to receive everything from God, to “love for the brothers who fight”, to “scatter flowers for Jesus”, and to pray for the intentions entrusted to us

Fr. Dwight Longenecker with an awesome teaching on Transubstantiation

Explaining Transubstantiation

I’m often surprised at the number of good, faithful Catholics who are well informed about their faith, who do not understand the doctrine of transubstantiation.
In my experience they fall into two categories. The first do not believe the Eucharist is anything more than a symbol. The second believe the bread and wine become the  Body and Blood of Christ but they think the bread and wine are literally transformed into human flesh and blood.
Neither position is the teaching of the Catholic Church. We believe in transubstantiation. The substance of the bread and wine really are transformed into the Body, Blood Soul and Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. However, the transformation is not physical in a literal way. If you took the consecrated host to a laboratory it would be chemically shown to be bread, not human flesh.

Read all of this here:

Pope Francis pleads for an end to senseless violence in the name of war

Pope Makes Heartfelt Appeal on Behalf of Child Victims of War

Also Recalls Senseless Slaughter of World War One on 100th Anniversary

During his Angelus address on Sunday, Pope Francis issued a heartfelt appeal on behalf of the world’s child victims of war, and again appealed for peace in the Middle East and Ukraine.

Recalling that tomorrow is the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War One, the Pope said: “I think of the children, those who have been denied hope of a decent life, of a future: dead children, wounded children, maimed children, orphaned children, children who have remnants of war as toys, children who don’t know how to smile.
“Please stop!,” the Pope implored, adding with clear emotion: “I ask you with all my heart, it's time to stop! Please stop!”
The Pope said his thoughts “go out to three areas of crisis: the Middle East, Iraq and Ukraine.”
He asked the faithful to continue to join him in prayer so that those in power will be tenacious in “dialogue and negotiation and with the force of reconciliation.” He expressed his hope that at the center of every decision, “special interests aren’t put forward, but rather the common good and respect for every person.
“Let’s remember that all is lost with war, and nothing is lost with peace,” he said to applause.
Remembering that Pope Benedict XV described World War One as a "senseless slaughter", the Holy Father said he hoped that the “mistakes of the past won’t be repeated, but that the lessons of history be taken into account, that the demands of peace through patient and courageous dialogue are always made to prevail.”
Full text of Angelus Address

Saturday, July 26, 2014

A martyr from the death camps of WWII; beatified by St. Pope JPII

Image of Bl. Titus Brandsma  


Feastday: July 27
Patron of Catholic journalists, tobacconists, Friesland
Birth: 1881
Death: 1942
Beatified By: Pope John Paul II

Carmelite martyr who died at the hands of the Nazis. He was born in Bolsward in the Netherlands. Becoming a Carmelite as a young man, he displayed a dazzling intellect and scholarship, receiving ordination as a priest in 1905 and earning a doctorate in philosophy at Rome. Titus then taught in Dutch universities and lectured in many countries on Carmelite spirituality and mysticism. lie also served as rector magnificus at the Catholic University of Nijmegen. In 1935 he became an ecclesiastical advisor to Catholic journalists. His academic and spiritual studies were also printed and widely read. When the Nazis occupied the Netherlands,Titus was singled out as an enemy because he fought against the spread of Nazism in Europe. Arrested, Titus was sent to various concentration camps where he demonstrated charity and concern. In 1942, he was martyred in Dachau. Titus was beatified by Pope John Paul II on November 3, 1985.

Homily 17th Sunday Ordinary Time July 27, 2014

Ooh, baby, do you know what that's worth ?
Ooh, heaven is a place on earth
They say in heaven love comes first
We'll make heaven a place on earth
Ooh, heaven is a place on earth

I'm wondering if Belinda Carlise was thinking about this Gospel when she performed this hit in 1987.  I guess I'll never really know.  We are always searching for something of value?  We buy lottery tickets in hopes of a big payday and we watch TV programs like Antique Road Show and daydream of having some great treasure in our attic or garage.

As people of faith we know that Jesus Christ is our great treasure and our pearl of great price!

Continuing the teachings of Jesus by parable in Matthew 13 we hear that the kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure in a field and a pearl of great price.  So great are these treasures that those who found them sell everything to make sure they hold on to them.  For us that ultimate treasure, that pearl of great price is Jesus Christ.  When we fully realize this we too are called to give up everything and follow Jesus we enjoy relationship with Him.  We learn from this parable that the kingdom is so generous in value.  We learn from this parable that the teachings of Christ, found today in His Holy Word and the deposit of faith safeguarded by His Holy Catholic Church, are the key to the Kingdom of Heaven.  The Kingdom is worth so much that we must forsake everything, if necessary, to enter that Kingdom.

Just these past few weeks, we have been given 21st century evidence of this very Gospel.  For the Christian living in Mosul, Iraq and across that war-torn and beleaguered land they have found that great treasure and that pearl of great price in their faith in Christ Jesus.  Despite horrifying persecution and incredible odds, these Christians cling with all that they have, to the point of death, incredibly cruel and horrifying deaths.  Like 2,000 years of martyrs, these Christians and many others across our world have stood witness to the faith, In Christ and His Catholic Church, the great treasure in the field and the pearl of great price.

Each and every week at Mass, and hopefully dozens of times during the week, we pray the Our Father and say in that prayer, given to us by Jesus directly, Thy Kingdom Come, Thy Will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven.  Now make no mistake here, Heaven is a very real place, in fact they just released a beautiful movie entitled Heaven is for real.  Yes indeed, Heaven is for real and we all pray that Heaven is our final destination.  We all seek to be happy for eternity in Heaven, glimpsing the beatific vision of God the Father with His only Son, Our Savior Jesus Christ at His right hand.  Yet, on earth, as it is in Heaven is a reminder to all of us to live a life of great faith here and now.  It is a reminder to preach Christ here and now and to serve Christ here and now by serving our brother and sister, especially the marginalized and the poor and the persecuted, even those persecuted for their religious beliefs.  And as Catholics we glimpse Heaven every time we come to Holy Mass where Heaven reaches down to Earth and Earth stretches upward toward Heaven and simple of gifts of Bread and Wine become the Body and Blood of that treasure and pearl, Jesus Christ.  On earth as it is in Heaven!

In the week ahead, can we all commit to be in full prayerful solidarity with our Christian brothers and sisters in Iraq and elsewhere where their very lives are threatened because they refuse to lose their treasure and their pearl of great price?  In the week ahead, can we commit to helping one other person get closer to their treasure and pearl by lifting them up in a tangible act of kindness; an act of love that helps them grow closer to Christ?  In the week ahead, can I pray with these words: "my treasure Lord is your friendship, your intimate relationship with me and my pearl of great price are your sublime teachings, most excellently contained in your Holy Word and your Holy Catholic Church"?

I know dear Lord that you have made me for Heaven, I set my whole being on that goal, I trust in your Resurrection and I long for that day when I see you face to face.

Ooh, baby, do you know what that's worth ?
Ooh, heaven is a place on earth
They say in heaven love comes first
We'll make heaven a place on earth
On earth as it is in Heaven!  And Heaven indeed is our home!

What is a Christian to do, really what are we to do? Don't we really know?

Christians and the plight of the 'border children': Robert Mann

Immigration Overload Photo Gallery
In this photo taken July 1, 2014, two-year-old Adriana Ortez holds her stuffed animal, as she and her mother, Dayana Ortez, of El Salvador, wait to board a bus leaving the city bus station in McAllen, Texas. Ortez and her daughter, were released on their own recognizance by U.S. Customs and Border Protection Services after entering the illegally into the U.S. from Mexico. The mother and daughter were heading to Los Angles to reunite with family. (AP Photo/Austin American-Statesman, Rodolfo Gonzalez) (Rodolfo Gonzalez)
Robert Mann By Robert Mann The Times-Picayune  
on July 25, 2014 

Pity the poor American Christian. From every side, he is persecuted, set upon by government bureaucrats, forced to do this, required to do that -- denied his God-given right to pay low taxes and live as he pleases.
If he is a business owner and wishes to refuse his services to gays and lesbians, he finds it an appalling violation of his "religious freedom" to be told that the Constitution's 14th amendment might render his actions not merely deplorable, but also illegal.
America's Christians, mostly those on the political right, certainly are a persecuted and angry lot. As soon as some crazy liberal questions the sanity of toting guns into churches, schools or grocery stores, they're itching to fight.
Politician preachers -- like Gov. Bobby Jindal, former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Penn.) and Texas Gov. Rick Perry -- never tire of preaching to Christians about the crucifixion liberals have in mind for them. Like the political carnies they are, these charlatans treat their supporters like they're a horde of dupes, easily persuaded they are the most disadvantaged people on earth.
Indeed, listening to the politicians as they preach, someone from another planet might conclude that Christian churches are filled with pious, intolerant, gun-toting, angry white men. You know, just like Jesus and his disciples.
Which raises the question: Why do so many religious conservative leaders -- especially the political variety -- speak so much about their "rights," but so little about actual teachings of Jesus?
It turns out that Jesus spent most of this time talking about the plight of the poor and other of society's outcasts -- orphans, widows, the sick and those in prison. In fact, Jesus' last story before his death was about how he would one day judge his followers on how they treated "the least of these."
Busy preaching sermons of fear and grievance to their flocks, Jindal and his ilk rarely discuss the real, compassionate message of the gospels. They certainly don't seem to know that Jesus talked, not about his rights, but about his followers' sacred obligation to the wellbeing of others.
One parable of Jesus, in particular, has been on my mind the past week as I've watched so many pharisaic people of faith condemn the influx of pitiful children along the southwestern border, most of them escaping violence and persecution in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.
I've been contemplating the parable of the Good Samaritan, in which Jesus tells the story of the priest and the Levite who ignore the plight of a man attacked by violent thieves and left for dead on the side of the Jericho road. Finally, a compassionate Samaritan rescues him.
It's significant for these times to remember that Jesus told this story in response to a simple-but-profound question: "Who is my neighbor?"
Sadly, too many Christians don't see these children as neighbors. Like the priest and the Levite, the suffering children provoke only anger and resentment, not compassion.
"Illegal immigration is the antithesis of Christianity," William Gheen, president of the Raleigh, N.C.-based Americans for Legal Immigration, has said. "It's a gross mischaracterization of Christianity to apply it to tolerating the mass lawlessness, death and damages involved in illegal immigration."
Gheen even doubts the children are victims of persecution. "The children are reciting lines," he insists. "This is being orchestrated."
Jindal has been strangely mute on this issue, but not four Republican Louisiana congressmen, including GOP U.S. Senate candidate Bill Cassidy. They recently sent a letter to the Obama administration, demanding that federal officials block the border children from entering Louisiana. I believe each of these men considers himself a Christian, although this letter betrays no Christ-like compassion.
Of course, there are many religious leaders, including Pope Francis, who have spoken forcefully about the church's obligation to these children. A group of evangelical leaders has also asked Congress not to repeal the 2008 law that makes it more difficult to deport these children. "As we pray for these children and also our nation," these leaders wrote, "we are reminded of Matthew 19:13-14 in which Jesus said, 'Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them.'"
I'd forgotten that on the night before he was killed, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. preached a sermon in Memphis which took its theme from Jesus' "Good Samaritan" parable.
King noted that the first two men in the parable asked themselves, "If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?" (That, of course, is the question too many politicians on the religious right are posing.)
In his sermon, King wisely reversed the question, just as Jesus intended: "If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?"
Isn't that the question we should all be asking?