Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Soon to be Saint; the missionary to Mexico and California

Bl. Junipero Serra

Image of Bl. Junipero Serra


Feastday: July 1
Patron of Vocations
Birth: 1713
Death: 1784
Beatified By: Pope John Paul II

Miguel Jose Serra was born on the island of Majorca on November 24, 1713, and took the name of Junipero when in 1730, he entered the Franciscan Order. Ordained in 1737, he taught philosophy and theology at the University of Padua until 1749.
At the age of thirty-seven, he landed in Mexico City on January 1, 1750, and spent the rest of his life working for the conversion of the peoples of the New World.
In 1768, Father Serra took over the missions of the Jesuits (who had been wrongly expelled by the government)in the Mexican province of Lower California and Upper California (modern day California). An indefatigable worker, Serra was in large part responsible for the foundation and spread of the Church on the West Coast of the United States when it was still mission territory.
He founded twenty-one missions and converted thousands of Indians. The converts were taught sound methods of agriculture, cattle raising, and arts and crafts.
Junipero was a dedicated religious and missionary. He was imbued with a penitential spirit and practiced austerity in sleep, eating, and other activities. On August 28, 1784, worn out by his apostolic labors, Father Serra was called to his eternal rest. He was beatified by Pope John Paul II on September 25, 1988. His statue, representing the state of California, is in National Statuary Hall. His feast day is July 1.

Pray with the Pope throughout July

July prayer intentions of Pope Francis

  • Universal: That political responsibility may be lived at all levels as a high form of charity.

  • Evangelization: That, amid social inequalities, Latin American Christians may bear witness to love for the poor and contribute to a more fraternal society.

A mentor and a friend; the Deacon Director throughout my formation; Rest in Peace

Jim Swiler

June 21, 1939 - June 26, 2015

Deacon Jim Swiler, peacefully passed away on June 26, 2015 at the age of 76 surrounded by his loving family. He was born on June 21, 1939 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Prior to his death, Deacon Jim resided in Thibodaux, Louisiana. Jim had a passion for radio broadcasting which led to a career spanning over twenty years. Deacon Jim served as the Chancellor for the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux for the past 7 years. Deacon Jim was the first Deacon Director for the Office of the Permanent Diaconate for the Archdiocese of New Orleans, Louisiana, a position he held for over 35 years. He was the first Deacon to serve as President of the National Association of Deacon Directors and the first to serve as the Regional Representative for the Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions. He was awarded the Monsignor William Philpin Award named in honor of the first National Director of the Permanent Diaconate for his work as an exemplary director. He was the first Deacon to receive this award. He was also the first Deacon to receive the Bart O’Leary award for vision and leadership in the restoration of the Permanent Diaconate and also received the Director’s Award. Deacon Jim served as a Consultant to the United States Catholic Conference and as an Advisor to the Permanent Diaconate in the Dioceses of Baton Rouge and Houma-Thibodaux. Deacon Jim taught Homiletics at Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans and was also Archdiocesan Master of Ceremonies. In 1999, Deacon Jim was awarded the Pro Ecclesia Et Pontifice Award and medal by his Holiness Father Pope John Paul II for his outstanding service to the church. The family will have visitation at St. Joseph’s Co-Cathedral located at 721 Canal Blvd., Thibodaux, LA 70301 on Friday, July 3rd at 9:00 a.m. and a funeral mass celebrating the life of Deacon Jim Swiler at 12:00 p.m. A reception will follow in the Life Center following the mass. Deacon Jim is survived by his beloved wife of 51 years, Bonnie Falterman Swiler and children Kelley Schellstede, Melissa Brown, Matthew Swiler and Kathryn Burke and his seven beautiful grandchildren, Sven Schellstede, Ryan Brown, Austin Brown, Lauren Schellstede, Mackenzie Brown, Maddie Burke and Liam Burke. He is survived by his brother, William Swiler. He is also survived by his three Sons-in-Law, Hans Schellstede, Keith Brown and Solomon Burke. He was preceded in death by his beloved parents James Wagner and Mary Gladys Swiler. In lieu of flowers, donations to your favorite charity in his memory would be greatly appreciated. Our family would like to express our sincerest gratitude to the entire medical team at Thibodaux Regional Hospital and everyone in the Archdiocese of New Orleans, the Diocese of Baton Rouge and the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux. Deacon Jim touched countless lives and will be sorely missed. He will continue to love and serve the Lord. Whatever you do, work at it with your whole being. Do it for the Lord. Col.3:23

>>Well done good and faithful servant

Monday, June 29, 2015

They gave their very lives for Christ & His Church

First Martyrs of the See of Rome
Image of First Martyrs of the See of Rome


Feastday: June 30
Death: 64

The holy men and women are also called the "Protomartyrs of Rome." They were accused of burning Rome by Nero , who burned Rome to cover his own crimes. Some martyrs were burned as living torches at evening banquets, some crucified, others were fed to wild animals. These martyrs died before Sts. Peter and Paul, and are called "disciples of the Apostles. . . whom the Holy Roman church sent to their Lord before the Apostles' death."

A beautiful perspective from a proud man who identifies as both Catholic and gay

Catholic, Gay, and Feeling Just Fine




Gay Catholic
I have heard a lot about how mean the Church is, and how bigoted, because she opposes gay marriage. How badly she misunderstands gay people, and how hostile she is towards us. My gut reaction to such things is: Are you freaking kidding me? Are we even talking about the same Church?
When I go to Confession, I sometimes mention the fact that I’m gay, to give the priest some context. I’ve always gotten one of two responses: either compassion, encouragement, and admiration, because the celibate life is difficult and profoundly counter-cultural; or nothing at all, not even a ripple, as if I had confessed eating too much on Thanksgiving.
Of the two responses, my ego prefers the first—who doesn’t like thinking of themselves as some kind of hero? — but the second might make more sense. Being gay doesn’t mean I’m special or extraordinary. It just means that my life is not always easy. (Surprise!) And as my friend J. said when I told him recently about my homosexuality, “I guess if it wasn’t that, it would have been something else.” Meaning that nobody lives without a burden of one kind or another. As Rabbi Abraham Heschel said: “The man who has not suffered, what can he possibly know, anyway?”
Where are all these bigoted Catholics I keep hearing about? When I told my family a year ago, not one of them responded with anything but love and understanding. Nobody acted like I had a disease. Nobody started treating me differently or looking at me funny. The same is true of every one of the Catholic friends that I’ve told. They love me for who I am.
Actually, the only time I get shock or disgust or disbelief, the only time I’ve noticed people treating me differently after I tell them, is when I tell someone who supports the gay lifestyle: "Celibacy?! You must be some kind of freak."
Hooray for tolerance of different viewpoints. I’m grateful to gay activists for some things—making people more aware of the prevalence of homosexuality, making homophobia less socially acceptable—but they also make it more difficult for me to be understood, to be accepted for who I am and what I believe. If I want open-mindedness, acceptance, and understanding, I look to Catholics.
Is it hard to be gay and Catholic? Yes, because like everybody, I sometimes want things that are not good for me. The Church doesn’t let me have those things, not because she’s mean, but because she’s a good mother. If my son or daughter wanted to eat sand I’d tell them: that’s not what eating is for; it won’t nourish you; it will hurt you. Maybe my daughter has some kind of condition that makes her like sand better than food, but I still wouldn’t let her eat it. Actually, if she was young or stubborn enough, I might not be able to reason with her—I might just have to make a rule against eating sand. Even if she thought I was mean.
So the Church doesn’t oppose gay marriage because it’s wrong; she opposes it because it’s impossible, just as impossible as living on sand. The Church believes, and I believe, in a universe that means something, and in a God who made the universe — made men and women, designed sex and marriage from the ground up. In that universe, gay marriage doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t fit with the rest of the picture, and we’re not about to throw out the rest of the picture.
If you don’t believe in these things, if you believe that men and women and sex and marriage are pretty much whatever we say they are, then okay: we don’t have much left to talk about. That’s not the world I live in.
So, yes, it’s hard to be gay and Catholic—it’s hard to be anything and Catholic—because I don’t always get to do what I want. Show me a religion where you always get to do what you want and I’ll show you a pretty shabby, lazy religion. Something not worth living or dying for, or even getting up in the morning for. That might be the kind of world John Lennon wanted, but John Lennon was kind of an idiot.
Would I trade in my Catholicism for a worldview where I get to marry a man? Would I trade in the Eucharist and the Mass and the rest of it? Being a Catholic means believing in a God who literally waits in the chapel for me, hoping I’ll stop by just for ten minutes so he can pour out love and healing on my heart. Which is worth more — all this, or getting to have sex with who I want? I wish everybody, straight or gay, had as beautiful a life as I have.
I know this isn’t a satisfactory answer. I don’t think any words could be. I try to make my life a satisfactory answer, to this question and to others: What are people for? What is love, and what does it look like? How do we get past our own selfishness so we can love God and our neighbors and ourselves?
It’s a work in progress.

Originally appeared at the Little Catholic Bubble. Used with author's permission.

Pope Francis preaches and presents the pallium on the Feast of Sts. Peter & Paul


Vatican Basilica
Monday, 29 June 2015

The reading, taken from the Acts of the Apostles, speaks to us of the first Christian community besieged by persecution. A community harshly persecuted by Herod who “laid violent hands upon some who belonged to the Church… proceeded to arrest Peter also… and when he had seized him he put him in prison” (12:1-4).
However, I do not wish to dwell on these atrocious, inhuman and incomprehensible persecutions, sadly still present in many parts of the world today, often under the silent gaze of all. I would like instead to pay homage today to the courage of the Apostles and that of the first Christian community. This courage carried forward the work of evangelisation, free of fear of death and martyrdom, within the social context of a pagan empire; their Christian life is for us, the Christians of today, a powerful call to prayer, to faith and to witness.
A call to prayer: the first community was a Church at prayer: “Peter was kept in prison; but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the Church” (Acts 12:5). And if we think of Rome, the catacombs were not places to escape to from persecution but rather, they were places of prayer, for sanctifying the Lord’s day and for raising up, from the heart of the earth, adoration to God who never forgets his sons and daughters.
The community of Peter and Paul teaches us that the Church at prayer is a Church on her feet, strong, moving forward! Indeed, a Christian who prays is a Christian who is protected, guarded and sustained, and above all, who is never alone.
The first reading continues: “Sentries before the door were guarding the prison; and behold, an angel of the Lord appeared, and a light shone in the cell; and he struck Peter on the side… And the chains fell off his hands” (12:6-7).
Let us think about how many times the Lord has heard our prayer and sent us an angel? An angel who unexpectedly comes to pull us out of a difficult situation? Who comes to snatch us from the hands of death and from the evil one; who points out the wrong path; who rekindles in us the flame of hope; who gives us tender comfort; who consoles our broken hearts; who awakens us from our slumber to the world; or who simply tells us, “You are not alone”.
How many angels he places on our path, and yet when we are overwhelmed by fear, unbelief or even euphoria, we leave them outside the door, just as happened to Peter when he knocked on the door of the house and the “maid named Rhoda came to answer. Recognizing Peter’s voice, in her joy she did not open the door” (12:13-14).
No Christian community can go forward without being supported by persistent prayer! Prayer is the encounter with God, with God who never lets us down; with God who is faithful to his word; with God who does not abandon his children. Jesus asked himself: “And will not God vindicate his elect, who cry to him day and night?” (Lk 18:7). In prayer, believers express their faith and their trust, and God reveals his closeness, also by giving us the angels, his messengers.
A call to faith: in the second reading Saint Paul writes to Timothy: “But the Lord stood by me and gave me strength to proclaim the word fully… So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil and save me for his heavenly Kingdom” (2 Tim 4:17-18). God does not take his children out of the world or away from evil but he does grant them strength to prevail. Only the one who believes can truly say: “The Lord is my shepherd, there is nothing I shall want” (Ps 23:1).
How many forces in the course of history have tried, and still do, to destroy the Church, from without as well as within, but they themselves are destroyed and the Church remains alive and fruitful! She remains inexplicably solid, so that, as Saint Paul says, she may acclaim: “To him be glory for ever and ever” (2 Tim 4:18).
Everything passes, only God remains. Indeed, kingdoms, peoples, cultures, nations, ideologies, powers have passed, but the Church, founded on Christ, notwithstanding the many storms and our many sins, remains ever faithful to the deposit of faith shown in service; for the Church does not belong to Popes, bishops, priests, nor the lay faithful; the Church in every moment belongs solely to Christ. Only the one who lives in Christ promotes and defends the Church by holiness of life, after the example of Peter and Paul.
In the name of Christ, believers have raised the dead; they have healed the sick; they have loved their persecutors; they have shown how there is no power capable of defeating the one who has the power of faith!
A call to witness: Peter and Paul, like all the Apostles of Christ who in their earthly life sowed the seeds of the Church by their blood, drank the Lord’s cup, and became friends of God.
Paul writes in a moving way to Timothy: “My son, I am already on the point of being sacrificed; the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. From now on there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing” (2 Tim 4: 6-8).
A Church or a Christian who does not give witness is sterile; like a dead person who thinks they are alive; like a dried up tree that produces no fruit; an empty well that offers no water! The Church has overcome evil thanks to the courageous, concrete and humble witness of her children. She has conquered evil thanks to proclaiming with conviction: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (cf. Mt 16:13-18).
Dear Archbishops who today receive the Pallium, it is a sign which represents the sheep that the shepherd carries on his shoulders as Christ the Good Shepherd does, and it is therefore a symbol of your pastoral mission. The Pallium is “a liturgical sign of communion that unites the See of Peter and his Successor to the Metropolitans, and through them to the other Bishops of the world” (Benedict XVI, Angelus of 29 June 2005).
Today, by these Palliums, I wish to entrust you with this call to prayer, to faith and to witness.
The Church wants you to be men of prayer, masters of prayer; that you may teach the people entrusted to your care that liberation from all forms of imprisonment is uniquely God’s work and the fruit of prayer; that God sends his angel at the opportune time in order to save us from the many forms of slavery and countless chains of worldliness. For those most in need, may you also be angels and messengers of charity!
The Church desires you to be men of faith, masters of faith, who can teach the faithful to not be frightened of the many Herods who inflict on them persecution with every kind of cross. No Herod is able to banish the light of hope, of faith, or of charity in the one who believes in Christ!
The Church wants you to be men of witness. Saint Francis used to tell his brothers: “Preach the Gospel always, and if necessary, use words!” (cf. Franciscan sources, 43). There is no witness without a coherent lifestyle! Today there is no great need for masters, but for courageous witnesses, who are convinced and convincing; witnesses who are not ashamed of the Name of Christ and of His Cross; not before the roaring lions, nor before the powers of this world. And this follows the example of Peter and Paul and so many other witnesses along the course of the Church’s history, witnesses who, yet belonging to different Christian confessions, have contributed to demonstrating and bringing growth to the one Body of Christ. I am pleased to emphasize this, and am always pleased to do so, in the presence of the Delegation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, sent by my beloved brother Bartholomew I.
This is not so straightforward: because the most effective and authentic witness is one that does not contradict, by behaviour and lifestyle, what is preached with the word and taught to others!
Teach prayer by praying, announce the faith by believing; offer witness by living!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

The Feast Day of Saints Peter & Paul

MONDAY, JUNE 29, 2015
On June 29 the Church celebrates the feast day of Sts. Peter & Paul. As early as the year 258, there is evidence of an already lengthy tradition of celebrating the solemnities of both Saint Peter and Saint Paul on the same day. Together, the two saints are the founders of the See of Rome, through their preaching, ministry and martyrdom there.
Peter, who was named Simon, was a fisherman of Galilee and was introduced to the Lord Jesus by his brother Andrew, also a fisherman. Jesus gave him the name Cephas (Petrus in Latin), which means ‘Rock,’ because he was to become the rock upon which Christ would build His Church.
Peter was a bold follower of the Lord. He was the first to recognize that Jesus was “the Messiah, the Son of the living God,” and eagerly pledged his fidelity until death. In his boldness, he also made many mistakes, however, such as losing faith when walking on water with Christ and betraying the Lord on the night of His passion.
Yet despite his human weaknesses, Peter was chosen to shepherd God's flock. The Acts of the Apostles illustrates his role as head of the Church after the Resurrection and Ascension of Christ. Peter led the Apostles as the first Pope and ensured that the disciples kept the true faith.
St. Peter spent his last years in Rome, leading the Church through persecution and eventually being martyred in the year 64. He was crucified upside-down at his own request, because he claimed he was not worthy to die as his Lord.
He was buried on Vatican hill, and St. Peter's Basilica is built over his tomb.
St. Paul was the Apostle of the Gentiles. His letters are included in the writings of the New Testament, and through them we learn much about his life and the faith of the early Church.
Before receiving the name Paul, he was Saul, a Jewish pharisee who zealously persecuted Christians in Jerusalem. Scripture records that Saul was present at the martyrdom of St. Stephen.
Saul's conversion took place as he was on his way to Damascus to persecute the Christian community there. As he was traveling along the road, he was suddenly surrounded by a great light from heaven. He was blinded and fell off his horse. He then heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” He answered: “Who are you, Lord?” Christ said: “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.”
Saul continued to Damascus, where he was baptized and his sight was restored. He took the name Paul and spent the remainder of his life preaching the Gospel tirelessly to the Gentiles of the Mediterranean world.
Paul was imprisoned and taken to Rome, where he was beheaded in the year 67.
He is buried in Rome in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls.
In a sermon in the year 395, St. Augustine of Hippo said of Sts. Peter and Paul: “Both apostles share the same feast day, for these two were one; and even though they suffered on different days, they were as one. Peter went first, and Paul followed. And so we celebrate this day made holy for us by the apostles' blood. Let us embrace what they believed, their life, their labors, their sufferings, their preaching, and their confession of faith.”

THIS is the teaching of the Catholic Church; this is what Catholics are obligated to believe

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church...

 Chastity and homosexuality

 2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity,141 traditio...n has always declared that "homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered."142 They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.

 2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.

 2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.

New Orleans Saints TE on the Supreme Court and Marriage and Love!

Benjamin Watson Just Smacked The Supreme Court With The One Thing About Marriage They Don’t Realize

Benjamin Watson just wrote this on his Facebook page regarding the Supreme Court ruling on Gay Marriage:

The pressure of conformity is overwhelming at times. In light of the recent court interpretation of the constitution, the pressure is more intense than ever. Compassion, an important virtue, for our fellow man compels us to consider the feelings, plight, and desires of others in controversial times. Like a deceptive undertow along the seashore, though, emotions can sometimes carry us away, appealing to our human longing to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. A movement, a cause, or a certain political position, give us a chance to make our mark, to make our difference and to be noticed among the generation. With emotions and tempers flaring, venom and accusations in the air, and the battle lines being drawn more clearly each passing moment, I find it of utmost importance, now more than ever, to return to truth.
Throughout this process, the years long debate to redefine marriage, I regret that I have had more disdain for those who engage in a same sex attraction lifestyle than I have had for those who engage in a number of other outright violations of the Word of God like drunkenness, idolatry, or adultery (1 Corinthians 6). It is a constant battle to extend the same grace to those I struggle to understand as to those who’s sin strongholds I can identify with. It is NOT my job to hate, disparage, or condemn anyone. I lack a hell to send anyone to, or an achieved righteousness by my own merit from which I can justifiably fire accusatory arrows at anyone. It IS my job, however, to hold truth in its proper place and to call myself and others to the standards set forth in God’s word, the only absolute in a world of opinion.
Benjamin Watson Just Smacked The Supreme Court With The One Thing About Marriage They Don’t Realize
Relative morality is as capricious as the wind, leaving each generation to do what is right in their own eyes, while unknowingly undermining the exact concept of “right” that they are so desperately trying to attain. Instead of shooting for the mark, we lower it, doing what is good for “us” at the time, effectually creating our own truth, which when taken to its logical conclusion is always problematic.
We, as a nation, have continued our course into dangerous waters, shaking our fist and becoming our own gods. This individual Supreme Court ruling is not the cause, but simply evidence of how far we’ve gradually drifted. The moral decay of America is not unlike moral decay in my own life, as I continually battle against self rule. It’s a gradual decline. The tire usually doesn’t spontaneously blow out. No, it’s an aggravating slow leak, that needs constant refilling of air, until eventually, busyness takes precedence and the now unattended to tire is completely flat. Life’s proverbial morality tire responds in much the same way. It’s neglecting to read and respect the Bible. It’s listening to or watching things that aren’t uplifting. It’s allowing myself a second look. It’s removing prayer from schools and our homes.
It’s legalizing the murder of babies in the womb. It’s glorifying promiscuity and reducing sex to a simple physical animalistic act. It’s objectifying woman and praising the “playa”. It’s condoning divorce. It’s standing by in silence. It’s ignoring the promptings of the Spirit. It’s Christians, myself included, not living like Christians.
Attempting to normalize illegitimate behavior by law does not make it acceptable. Moral law transcends, civil law and will continue to do so in all realms, not just sexuality. Before God, my lustful heart, pride, and selfishness, are not acceptable no matter how I or anyone else try to rationalize it. The manifestations of my sin nature, the carnal desires and appetites of the flesh, although binding and seemingly inescapable are not subsequently acceptable to act on, even though they seem to be natural or biological urges.
Love truly IS the greatest gift of all. It never fails and covers a multitude of sins. Ultimately Love DOES Win. But Love wins us with compassion, not endorsement. Love wins us with sacrifice, not self gain. Love wins with understanding, not compromise. Love wins with brokenness over sin, not jealous anger because “we lost.” Love wins with adherence to truth no matter the cost because love cares about the well being and not necessarily the HAPPINESS of its subjects.
Above all else we must love or neighbors as ourselves, yet we can not fully do this unless we love God first. (Mark 13:30,31)
It is only through knowing God, loving him with our heart, mind and soul, and seeing His great acts of love for us that we understand the fullness of what love really is.
Today, I am not disappointed because of the possible restrictions on religious exercise, the inevitable categorization of biblical teaching as hate speech and pastors as bigots, the shift in American culture, its implications and the judicial and legislative process that has brought us to this point. I am, however, saddened because of the corporate celebration and glorification of sin which renders us separated from our Creator, exposed to the natural consequences of our actions and in desperate need of a spiritual renewal and revival.
Though, I’ve had acquaintances from time to time, I do not have many friends who openly identify as gay. Last year an NFL player, told the world he was in a relationship with another man. While the television display was less than tasteful, after hearing his story, I experienced much internal conflict with my feelings on the subject in light of my convictions. Ironically we played his team in the preseason and I encountered him again at an awards show the next year. In putting a face with a name, assigning tangible humanity to this controversial and difficult issue my heart in some small way understood the struggle for those who care deeply about their friends and family who have chosen this lifestyle. I realized my shortcomings in this area, understanding that these relational and romantic bonds, although different from mine, are just as strong. I was wrong and was compelled to grow in my compassion and love for these individuals.
In spite of how we feel, though, God created one man and one woman, joining them together as an earthly picture of Christ and his bride, the church. Though we fall short, THIS is marriage, and there is no alternative. While man governs the practice of this institution it is and will forever be divine in origin. The challenge is to never compromise the truth but to speak the truth in love and compassion understanding that we all stand before a just God in need of his grace and forgiveness. It is not a time to be frustrated about the outcome, as if we can control a world that God gave free will, but to instead celebrate the fact that He is still on the throne, that the Gospel always will be our saving grace, and that because of His mercy, Love Wins

A look back on saying goodbye to the people of Most Holy Trinity Parish

When word came that the Archbishop had assigned me to return home to St. Jane de Chantal Parish in Abita Springs, I was flooded with memories of my 16 years there, including the 5 years while I was in formation and the 2 years I was one of the Permanent Deacons.  I thought about my old ministries there and the many friends and families I knew.  And then in a moment the realization that I would have to say goodbye to the people of Most Holy Trinity Parish.  I thought for a moment, and rather foolishly, surely there is a way to serve both parishes.  Other than special events, it just does not work like that.

Arriving at Most Holy Trinity in early 2011 I found a warm welcoming community with plenty of ministries and well done liturgies despite meeting for Mass in a converted pet store.  I embraced my new assignment and went about the work of getting to know the people, the lay of the land and the needs of the community.  I can honestly say that MHT was very receptive to my homilies, my prison ministry and some of the ideas I felt we could implement.  Because so many people worked so closely with me, and with the cooperation of Pastor Rodney Bourg, I am happy to say that MHT now has all day Adoration & Benediction on every First Friday, including a Friday evening Mass in honor of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  MHT also has a stronger altar server program that at many Masses brings 3 - 4 servers helping on the altar.  And MHT has a robust adult faith formation program that I was thrilled to help keep sessions available for those who prefer daytime sessions as well as evening sessions.  At least one and possibly more parishioners have become prison ministers since my arrival at MHT.

Make no mistake about it, this is a parish that runs on the faith life and generosity of it's people.  As the new church is being built, with anticipating a January or February opening, the future of this parish is strong.  I'm sorry I missed the new church by a few months, but have been assured that I will be back for the dedication weekend.  I'm counting on that!

Today was good-bye weekend.  How incredibly emotional it turned about to be, surprising me too as the tears flowed freely.  The outpouring of love, the babies I held today that I once baptized, the folks who told me privately that something I said or did made such a profound impact in a tough time, the hugs and handshakes; it was hard to say goodbye.

But goodbye I have now said and off to my next stop in my ministry as a Permanent Deacon.  Like I said today in my farewell, for the rest of my life MHT will be in my heart.  And when I arrive back home at St. Jane's, the Deacon that returns will be that much more stronger in faith and ministry because of my time at Most Holy Trinity.

So today, as I reflect in pray in the quiet of my home, I say again to the people of Most Holy Trinity, thank-you, I love you and you will be missed.  I will never forget my time at this wonderful parish and with all of you, look forward to the opening of the beautiful new church.

I hope our paths cross often!!

Pope Francis on today's gospel: Do not be afraid! Just Have Faith!

Pope at Angelus: 'Do Not Be Afraid; Just Have Faith'

Francis Says Believers Are to 'Touch' Christ Confident of HIs Saving Grace

Vatican City State, (ZENIT.org) Deborah Castellano Lubov              

If you are in need of healing, reach out to Christ for His saving grace. Pope Francis explored this theme today during his Angelus address to the faithful in St. Peter's Square at noon.
The Pope recalled Mark's Gospel today which shows two instances where two people were saved by their faith.The first involved a twelve-year-old daughter of one of the synagogue's official. He fell at the feet of Jesus and begged him: 'My daughter is at the point of death. Please, come lay your hands on her that she may get well and live.' (Mark 5:23). In the meantime, news came that the girl died. To this, Jesus said, 'Do not be afraid; just have faith' (v. 36). Jesus entered the house, sent all the crying people away, turned to the dead child and said, 'Little girl, I say to you, arise!' Immediately, the girl got up and began walking.
"Here," the Pope highlighted, "we see the absolute power of Jesus over physical death, that, for Him, it is like a sleep from which one can awaken."
The second episode within this narrative, Francis went on to say, discusses the healing of a woman who was suffering from blood loss for 12 years. This disease, according to the culture of the time, made her "unclean," the Pope pointed out, noting that if she didn't avoid all human contact, she would be condemned to civil death. This anonymous woman in the crowd following Jesus, said to herself, 'If I but touch His clothes, I shall be cured.' (v. 28). Jesus noticed her and, in the midst of people, sought her face. She comes forward trembling. Jesus tells her, 'Daughter, your faith has saved you,' and heals her.
"Who believes, 'touches' Jesus and draws from Him the grace that saves," Francis said, adding, "Faith is this: to touch him and expect to draw from Him his saving grace. It saves us in the spiritual life. It saves us many problems!"
The Pope underscored that the voice of the heavenly Father speaks in Jesus in this episode, saying, "'Daughter, you are not cursed, you are not excluded, you are my daughter!"
"Every time when Jesus approaches us, when we go to Him, we hear this from the Father: 'Son. You are my son, you are my daughter, you're healed, you're healed. I heal all, everyone and everything," Francis said off the cuff.
Both instances are centered on faith, said the Pontiff. ​"The message is clear and can be summed up in one question: Do we believe that Jesus can heal us and can awaken us from the dead?" he said.
The Gospel this Sunday, the Holy Father urged, "invites us to live in the certainty of the Resurrection: Jesus is Lord, has power over evil and death, and wants to take us into the Father's home, where life reigns." In history, the Resurrection of Christ acts as the beginning of renewal and hope, Francis reminded the faithful.
After the Angelus, Pope Francis concluded wishing all those present a good Sunday, a good lunch, and asking them to pray for him.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Brought Gospel to ancient France; prolific writer; considered a Church father

St. Irenaeus
Image of St. Irenaeus


Feastday: June 28
Death: 202

The writings of St. Irenaeus entitle him to a high place among the fathers of the Church, for they not only laid the foundations of Christian theology but, by exposing and refuting the errors of the gnostics, they delivered the Catholic Faith from the real danger of the doctrines of those heretics.
He was probably born about the year 125, in one of those maritime provinces of Asia Minor where the memory of the apostles was still cherished and where Christians were numerous. He was most influenced by St. Polycarp who had known the apostles or their immediate disciples
Many Asian priests and missionaries brought the gospel to the pagan Gauls and founded a local church. To this church of Lyon, Irenaeus came to serve as a priest under its first bishop, St. Pothinus, an oriental like himself. In the year 177, Irenaeus was sent to Rome. This mission explains how it was that he was not called upon to share in the martyrdom of St Pothinus during the terrible persecution in Lyons. When he returned to Lyons it was to occupy the vacant bishopric. By this time, the persecution was over. It was the spread of gnosticism in Gaul, and the ravages it was making among the Christians of his diocese, that inspired him to undertake the task of exposing its errors. He produced a treatise in five books in which he sets forth fully the inner doctrines of the various sects, and afterwards contrasts them with the teaching of the Apostles and the text of the Holy Scripture. His work, written in Greek but quickly translated to Latin, was widely circulated and succeeded in dealing a death-blow to gnosticism. At any rate, from that time onwards, it ceased to offer a serious menace to the Catholic faith.
The date of death of St. Irenaeus is not known, but it is believed to be in the year 202. The bodily remains of St. Irenaeus were buried in a crypt under the altar of what was then called the church of St. John, but was later known by the name of St. Irenaeus himself. This tomb or shrine was destroyed by the Calvinists in 1562, and all trace of his relics seems to have perished.

The new Permanent Deacons of the Archdiocese of New Orleans

Congratulations to the 19 men ordained today as Permanent Deacons for the Archdiocese of New Orleans:

Archbishop Gregory Aymond's photo.

With families under attack; a soon to be canonization of a holy family; a holy married couple

Pope Francis approves the decrees for canonization of Louis and Zelie Martin

2015-06-27 Vatican Radio
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis approved on Saturday the decrees allowing for the canonization of Louis and Zelie Martin, the parents of St. Therese of the Child Jesus (of Lisieux).
The Holy Father approved the decrees allowing Louis and Zelie Martin to be canonized during the Ordinary Consistory in the Apostolic Palace of the Vatican.
The couple will be the first to be canonized together as husband and wife, giving testimony to their ‘extraordinary witness of conjugal and familial spirituality’, said Cardinal Angelo Amato, the Prefect for the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints.
As Cardinal Amato presented the soon-to-be canonized couple to the Holy Father, he said that their lives ‘positively impacted their historical context through witness to the Gospel for the renewal of the face of the earth’,
The Prefect also emphasized their ‘exemplary life of faith, dedication to ideal values united to a constant realism, and persistent attention to the poor’.
Louis Martin (1823–1894) and Zelie Guerin (1831–1877) were blessed with nine children, four of whom died in infancy.  The remaining five girls all entered religious life, one of whom is St. Therese of Lisieux.
The decree also approves the canonization of Italian diocesan priest Blessed Vincenzo Grossi and Spanish nun Blessed Mary of the Immaculate Conception.

Pope praises women in front of international body of Girl Scouts

Pope: Women Must Be Adequately Appreciated

Receives International Group for Catholic Girl Guides and Girl Scouts at the Vatican

Vatican City State, (ZENIT.org) Deborah Castellano Lubov              

'It is very important today that a woman be adequately appreciated, and that she be able to take up fully the place that corresponds to her, be it in the Church, be it in society." Pope Francis made this statement in the Vatican this morning when addressing more than 200 participants for the World Meeting of International Catholic Conference of Guiding.
The International Catholic Conference of Guiding (ICCG) is an international group for Catholic Girl Guides and Girl Scouts. On the feast of the Epiphany in 1965 in Rome, the ICCG officially came into existence when twenty-one Girl Guide associations established the unifying group.
The guides are in Rome, June 25-30, to explore the theme of "Living the joy of the Gospel as a guide."
In his remarks, Francis noted how the role of educational associations such as theirs--which are addressed to girls--is "absolutely determinant for the future." He stressed how their pedagogy must be clear on such questions.
"We are in a world in which the most contrary ideologies are spreading to the nature and design of God on the family and on marriage," Francis said. "Therefore, it is a question of educating girls not only to the beauty and grandeur of their vocation of women, in a just and differentiated relation between man and woman, but also to assume important responsibilities in the Church and in society."
"In some countries, where woman is still in a position of inferiority, and even exploited and mistreated," the Pope lamented, "you are certainly called to carry out a notable role of promotion and education." The Pontiff also urged them not to forget the necessary and explicit openness of your pedagogy to the possibility of a life consecrated to the Lord.
The Pope also thanked them for all the good "that the Lord has enabled you to do in hearts. At the same time, I hope that the Holy Spirit will lead the different Associations that you group together on the path to follow to be able to meet the future challenges."
"Education is, in fact, the indispensable means to enable girls to become active and responsible women, proud and happy of their faith in Christ lived in every day life. Thus they will participate in the building of a world permeated by the Gospel," he said.
He also said he appreciated the topic they chose for their meeting: “To Live the Joy of the Gospel as a Guide:”  "It is a magnificent plan: to proclaim to others, with the witness of our life, that to encounter Jesus makes us happy; that to encounter Jesus frees and heals us; that to encounter Jesus opens us to others and drives us to proclaim him, in particular to the poorest, to those who are far away, alone and abandoned."
Before entrusting the guides to Mary's care and imparting his Apostolic Blessing, Pope Francis reminded the guides: "The Virgin Mary is the model of woman according to the Gospel and according to the heart of God, of which the Church and our societies are in need. May she be for you source of encouragement and inspiration."

Friday, June 26, 2015

Bishop, great defender of the faith, Doctor, Saint

St. Cyril of Alexandria

Image of St. Cyril of Alexandria


Feastday: June 27

St. Cyril of Alexandria, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (June 27) Cyril was born at Alexandria, Egypt. He was nephew of the patriarch of that city, Theophilus. Cyril received a classical and theological education at Alexandria and was ordained by his uncle. He accompanied Theophilus to Constantinople in 403 and was present at the Synod of the Oak that deposed John Chrysostom, whom he believed guilty of the charges against him. He succeeded his uncle Theophilus as patriarch of Alexandria on Theophilus' death in 412, but only after a riot between Cyril's supporters and the followers of his rival Timotheus. Cyril at once began a series of attacks against the Novatians, whose churches he closed; the Jews, whom he drove from the city; and governor Orestes, with whom he disagreed about some of his actions. In 430 Cyril became embroiled with Nestorius, patriarch of Constantinople, who was preaching that Mary was not the Mother of God since Christ was Divine and not human, and consequently she should not have the word theotokos (God-bearer) applied to her. He persuaded Pope Celestine I to convoke a synod at Rome, which condemned Nestorius, and then did the same at his own synod in Alexandria. Celestine directed Cyril to depose Nestorius, and in 431, Cyril presided over the third General Council at Ephesus, attended by some two hundred bishops, which condemned all the tenets of Nestorius and his followers before the arrival of Archbishop John of Antioch and forty-two followers who believed Nestorius was innocent. When they found what had been done, they held a council of their own and deposed Cyril. Emperor Theodosius II arrested both Cyril and Nestorius but released Cyril on the arrival of Papal Legates who confirmed the council's actions against Nestorius and declared Cyril innocent of all charges. Two years later, Archbishop John, representing the moderate Antiochene bishops, and Cyril reached an agreement and joined in the condemnation, and Nestorius was forced into exile. During the rest of his life, Cyril wrote treatises that clarified the doctrines of the Trinity and the Incarnation and that helped prevent Nestorianism and Pelagianism from taking long-term deep root in the Christian community. He was the most brilliant theologian of the Alexandrian tradition. His writings are characterized by accurate thinking, precise exposition, and great reasoning skills. Among his writings are commentaries on John, Luke, and the Pentateuch, treatises on dogmatic theology, and Apologia against Julian the Apostate, and letters and sermons. He was declared a doctor of the Church by Pope Leo XIII in 1882. His feast day is June 27th.

Love and Marriage

My first concrete memories of love & marriage would not be a great place to start.  As a child, at some point in time I realized that my mother & father were "married".  I probably didn't know what that meant, but over time I figured it couldn't be good.  My parents were not a good match and outside of giving life to me and my sisters, not much else worked out for them.  I remember fighting, crying and eventually separation.  We moved in with my grandmother who was widowed so again, no great marriage examples.  There was an aunt & uncle who lived with us but it just did not connect for me.

Maybe the marriage example heroes in my life came through TV, the likes of the Walton's and Little House and some of the comedy shows of the day.  There was little to no talk of divorce and infidelity and certainly no same-sex stuff.

Love and marriage for me only became real, and I mean really real, when I met a young teenage girl in 9th grade.  Wendy and I would date from that time until we were in college and got married on June 4, 1977.  Back then we were truly naïve, had no money, lived in a small apartment and got pregnant right away.  We did the love and marriage thing pretty well, especially those years when God was front and center in our lives.  Ten years later, when we kind of pushed God aside, we were still in love, but other temptations came along and a period of ho-hum-ness.  By the time we were raising two children and flourishing in careers, we made a very real effort, as a family, to be a God-centered family again.  Love and marriage grew and grew and the more we got involved with our faith life, by learning and doing everything Catholic, the marriage grew and love truly became both agape love and kenotic love.  That dear people is love.  Love ain't all the things it is being portrayed in the media today, especially today.

Love and marriage became very meaningful once Wendy and I embraced the belief that our love, our married love, was all about loving each other all the way to heaven, all the way to eternal life with the God who is Love.

As a Christian, I love everybody even though some of you, because I won't stand up and party today because the Supreme Court of a once great nation redefines love and marriage, won't believe that.  You want me to love you by agreeing with and supporting that which makes you feel good now but can deprive you of eternal happiness in heaven.  Now I have no way of knowing who makes it to heaven or not, but God has clearly called out that which is sin and all of us fall short some of the time.  But there is an arrogance of persisting in sin with the events of today.  There is even a well orchestrated attempt, and it is working, to just get everybody, including some who claim self as Christian, to just declare that this sin or that sin just ain't sin no more.  Come on dude, Jesus wants us to just love.  Jesus just wants us to drop our stones and look at us and say I don't condemn you.  But we don't want the rest of the story either, we don't want to hear Jesus say, now go, and sin no more.

While I am on love and marriage let's also be clear that us heterosexuals have done a pretty good job of messing up this gift called marriage.  Divorce, infidelity, shacking up, objectifying, artificial chemical birth control, children limiting, throw away culture, all these things have attacked marriage long before same-sex marriage.  We need a strong and powerful recommitment to marriage as that which comes from God, one man and one woman, designed for the procreation of children, the transmission of life, that places God in the center and works tirelessly to help gain heaven for the other.

Love and marriage; it ain't want your politics says it is, or what the Supreme Court has decided it is, it is clearly what God has created and maintained through centuries.

And I thank God everyday for the gift of my marriage and those of all the many faithful witnesses to marriage as a Sacrament and/or a Covenant. 

And yes, I love all those who want to redefine it but I must stand firmly for what marriage is and will forever be, as given to mankind by God!

USCCB official reaction to today's Supreme Court decision

U.S. Catholic Bishops on Same-Sex Marriage Ruling: ‘Profoundly Immoral and Unjust’

By Michael W. Chapman | June 26, 2015         

U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops at their 2015 General Assembly,
held in St. Louis, Mo.  (Photo: AP) 
(CNSNews.com) – In reaction to the Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling that homosexual marriage is a right, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) said it was “profoundly immoral and unjust” for the government to declare that two people of the same sex “constitute a marriage,” and added that this “tragic error” harms the “common good” and “especially children.”
“Regardless of what a narrow majority of the Supreme Court may declare at this moment in history, the nature of the human person and marriage remains unchanged and unchangeable,” reads the statement as issued by USCCB President Joseph E. Kurtz, the archbishop of Louisville, Ky.
“Just as Roe v. Wade did not settle the question of abortion over 40 years ago, Obergefell v. Hodges does not settle the question of marriage today,” said the bishops.  “Neither decision is rooted in the truth, and as a result, both will eventually fail.”
“Today the Court is wrong again,” reads the statement.  “It is profoundly immoral and unjust for the government to declare that two people of the same sex can constitute a marriage.”

The bishops, who oversee the Catholic Church in America, went on to reemphasize the complementarity between man and woman, in the natural order and in scripture, and why only one man and one woman can constitute a marriage.
“The unique meaning of marriage as the union of one man and one woman is inscribed in our bodies as male and female,” said the bishops.  “Mandating marriage redefinition across the country is a tragic error that harms the common good and most vulnerable among us, especially children.”
“The law has a duty to support every child’s basic right to be raised, where possible, by his or her married mother and father in a stable home,” said the USCCB.

They further said, “Jesus Christ, with great love, taught unambiguously that from the beginning marriage is the lifelong union of one man and one woman. As Catholic bishops, we follow our Lord and will continue to teach and to act according to this truth.”

In conclusion, Archbishop Kurtz, the USCCB president,  called on “all people of good will” to continue to defend marriage. “I call upon all people of good will to join us in proclaiming the goodness, truth, and beauty of marriage as rightly understood for millennia, and I ask all in positions of power and authority to respect the God-given freedom to seek, live by, and bear witness to the truth,” said Kurtz.
There are 446 active and retired Catholic bishops in the United States, and 195 archdiocese and dioceses. They all serve the faithful in the Catholic Church, headed by Pope Francis in Rome.
There are an estimated 70 million Catholics in the United States.

Bishop of Lafayette LA lays down the law in reaction to Supreme Court decision

Bishop Jarrell with Diocese of Lafayette responds to same-sex marriage ruling


Photo of Bishop Michael Jarrell courtesy the Diocese of Lafayette website
Photo of Bishop Michael Jarrell courtesy the Diocese of Lafayette website

Bishop Michael Jarrell with the Diocese of Lafayette has released the following statement in response to the 5-4 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in favor of same-sex marriage:
Let me state very plainly that no human court has the authority to change what God has written into the law of creation. This ruling is irreconcilable with the nature and definition of marriage as established by Divine Law. The marital covenant was established by God with its proper nature and laws.
I realize that this ruling will create conscience problems for many Catholics, especially those in public office. In some cases, civil disobedience may be a proper response. No priest or deacon of this Diocese may participate in the civil solemnization or celebration of a same-sex marriage. All Catholics are urged not to attend same-sex marriage ceremonies. No Catholic facility or property, including but not limited to parishes, missions, chapels, meeting halls, Catholic educational, health or charitable institutions, or facilities belonging to benevolent orders may be used for the solemnization of same sex marriage.
The upcoming Synod of marriage and the Family is scheduled for this October. It is dedicated to the vocation and mission of the family in the church and in the contemporary world. I may give consideration to the problems created by the alteration of the traditional law about marriage.
As Catholics, we have a profound respect for the dignity of all God's children. Nevertheless, there is no basis in law or in nature for altering the traditional definition of marriage, established by God from the beginning.

Archbishop of New Orleans issues statement on today's Supreme Court decision

As Catholic Christians, we believe that marriage is between one man and one woman. This belief is rooted in Sacred Scripture, Natural Law and 2000 years of Christian Tradition. To change and redefine marriage will have ramifications for families now and in the future. I stand with the Catholic bishops of the United States as we had hoped there would have been another means of moving forward in society without redefining marriage and family life.

While we stand firm in this belief, as Christians we must extend respect to all and treat all of God's children with dignity even in disagreement. We cannot be disrespectful but always loving in witnessing our faith. Disrespect and hatred can never be condoned.

This is an historical moment in the United States. It gives us as Catholic Christians an opportunity to uphold the Sacrament of Marriage and the importance of family life.

Pope Francis says get your hands dirty

Pope: Christians must get hands dirty and touch the excluded

Pope Francis giving the homily at Mass in the Santa Marta chapel - OSS_ROM


(Vatican Radio) The Church can only become a true community if its members are willing to get their hands dirty and include the excluded. That was Pope Francis’ message during his homily at the Santa Marta Mass on Friday morning, as he reflected on the Gospel passage about Jesus healing the man with leprosy.
Pope Francis noted that the miracle, in St Matthew’s Gospel, of Jesus touching and healing the leper takes place in front of the doctors of the law who considered the man to be ‘unclean’. Leprosy, the Pope said, was like a life sentence, since curing a leper was thought to be as hard as raising someone from the dead. Lepers were excluded from society, yet Jesus stretches out his hand and shows us what it means to be close to such people.
We can’t be a community, we can’t make peace, and we can’t do good without being close to people, the Pope stressed. Jesus could have just said to the leper, ‘You are healed’, but instead he reaches out his hand and touches him, becoming ‘unclean’ himself. This is the mystery of Jesus, the Pope continued, that he takes upon himself our uncleanliness, our sin, our exclusion to become close to us.
The Gospel passage also notes that Jesus asks the cured man not to tell anyone, but to show himself to the priest and ‘offer the gift that Moses prescribed’ in the law as proof for them. Pope Francis explained that Jesus not only gets his hands dirty but he also instructs the man to go to the priest so that he could be included in the Church and in society again. Jesus never excludes anyone, the Pope said, but rather he excludes himself in order to include us sinners.
Finally Pope Francis noted the reactions of the people around Jesus, many of whom are amazed at his words and follow him. Others, he said, watch from a distance with hardened hearts to criticize and condemn him, while others would like to draw close to Jesus but lack the courage to do so. To these people, Jesus holds out his hand, as he holds it out to all of us, taking on our sins to become one of us. Do we know how to draw near to people, the Pope asked? Do we have the strength and courage to reach out and touch those who are excluded? This is the meaning of a Christian community and this is the question each one of us – priests, bishops, religious, all of us - must ask ourselves.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Founder of Opus Dei; Canonized by St. Pope JPII

St. Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer

Image of St. Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer


Feastday: June 26
Death: June 26, 1975
Beatified By: Pope John Paul II
Canonized By: Pope John Paul II

Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer was born in Barbastro, Spain, on January 9, 1902, the second of six children of Jose and Dolores Escriva. Growing up in a devout family and attending Catholic schools, he learned the basic truths of the faith and practices such as frequent confession and communion, the rosary, and almsgiving. The death of three younger sisters, and his father's bankruptcy after business reverses, taught him the meaning of suffering and brought maturity to his outgoing and cheerful temperament. In 1915, the family moved to Logrono, where his father had found new employment.

Beginning in 1918, Josemaria sensed that God was asking something of him, although he didn't know exactly what it was. He decided to become a priest, in order to be available for whatever God wanted of him. He began studying for the priesthood, first in Logrono and later in Saragossa. At his father's suggestion and with the permission of his superiors at the seminary he also began to study civil law. He was ordained a priest and began his pastoral ministry in 1925.

In 1927, Fr. Josemaria moved to Madrid to study for a graduate degree in law. He was accompanied by his mother, sister, and brother, as his father had died in 1924 and he was now head of the family. They were not well-off, and he had to tutor law students to support them. At the same time he carried out a demanding pastoral work, especially among the poor and sick in Madrid, and with young children. He also undertook an apostolate with manual workers, professional people and university students who, by coming into contact with the poor and sick to whom Fr. Josemaria was ministering, learned the practical meaning of charity and their Christian responsibility to help out in the betterment of society.

On October 2, 1928, while making a retreat in Madrid, God showed him his specific mission: he was to found Opus Dei, an institution within the Catholic Church dedicated to helping people in all walks of life to follow Christ, to seek holiness in their daily life and grow in love for God and their fellow men and women. From that moment on, he dedicated all his strength to fulfilling this mission, certain that God had raised up Opus Dei to serve the Church. In 1930, responding to a new illumination from God, he started Opus Dei's apostolic work with women, making clear that they had the same responsibility as men to serve society and the Church.

The first edition of The Way, his most widely read work, was published in 1934 under the title Spiritual Considerations. Expanded and revised, it has gone through many editions since then; more than four million copies in many different languages are now in print. His other spiritual writings include Holy Rosary; The Way of the Cross; two collections of homilies, Christ Is Passing By and Friends of God; and Furrow and The Forge, which like The Way are made up of short points for prayer and reflection.

The development of Opus Dei began among the young people with whom Fr. Josemaria had already been in contact before 1928. Its growth, however, was seriously impeded by the religious persecution inflicted on the Catholic Church during the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939). The founder himself suffered severe hardships under this persecution but, unlike many other priests, he came out of the war alive. After the war, he traveled throughout the country giving retreats to hundreds of priests at the request of their bishops. Meanwhile Opus Dei spread from Madrid to several other Spanish cities, and as soon as World War II ended in 1945, began starting in other countries. This growth was not without pain; though the Work always had the approval of the local bishops, its then-unfamiliar message of sanctity in the world met with some misunderstandings and suspicions-which the founder bore with great patience and charity.

While celebrating Mass in 1943, Fr. Josemaria received a new foundational grace to establish the Priestly Society of the Holy Cross, which made it possible for some of Opus Dei's lay faithful to be ordained as priests. The full incorporation of both lay faithful and priests in Opus Dei, which makes a seamless cooperation in the apostolic work possible, is an essential feature of the foundational charism of Opus Dei, affirmed by the Church in granting Opus Dei the canonical status of a personal Prelature. In addition, the Priestly Society conducts activities, in full harmony with the bishops of the local churches, for the spiritual development of diocesan priests and seminarians. Diocesan priests can also be part of the Priestly Society, while at the same time remaining clergy of their own dioceses.

Aware that God meant Opus Dei to be part of the mission of the universal Church, the founder moved to Rome in 1946 so as to be close to the Holy See. By 1950 the Work had received pontifical approvals affirming its main foundational features-spreading the message of holiness in daily life; service to the Pope, the universal church, and the particular churches; secularity and naturalness; fostering personal freedom and responsibility, and a pluralism consistent with Catholic moral, political, and social teachings.

Beginning in 1948, full membership in Opus Dei was open to married people. In 1950 the Holy See approved the idea of accepting non-Catholics and even non-Christians as cooperators-persons who assist Opus Dei in its projects and programs without being members. The next decade saw the launching of a wide range of undertakings: professional schools, agricultural training centers, universities, primary and secondary schools, hospitals and clinics, and other initiatives, open to people of all races, religions, and social backgrounds but of manifestly Christian inspiration.

During Vatican Council II (1962-1965), Monsignor Escriva worked closely with many of the council fathers, discussing key Council themes such as the universal call to holiness and the importance of laypersons in the mission of the Church. Deeply grateful for the Council's teachings, he did everything possible to implement them in the formative activities offered by Opus Dei throughout the world.

Between 1970 and 1975 the founder undertook catechetical trips throughout Europe and Latin America, speaking with many people, at times in large gatherings, about love of God, the sacraments, Christian dedication, and the need to sanctify work and family life. By the time of the founder's death, Opus Dei had spread to thirty nations on six continents. It now (2002) has more than 84,000 members in sixty countries.

Monsignor Escriva's death in Rome came suddenly on June 26, 1975, when he was 73. Large numbers of bishops and ordinary faithful petitioned the Vatican to begin the process for his beatification and canonization. On May 17, 1992, Pope John Paul II declared him Blessed before a huge crowd in St. Peter's Square. He is to be canonized-formally declared a saint-on October 6, 2002.