Monday, July 31, 2017

Bishop. Doctor of Church, founder of the Redemptorists

St. Alphonsus Marie Liguori

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.

Praying with the Pope all August long

It's August and time to pray with the Pope and his monthly intention:


That artists of our time, through their ingenuity, may help everyone discover the beauty of creation.

Pope Francis Angelus explores yesterday Gospel and pleas to end human trafficking

Angelus Address: On Parables of Hidden Treasure & the Precious Pearl
Jesus “Is the Hidden Treasure; He Is the Pearl of Great Value
Angelus / Foto: Francesco Sforza - © PHOTO.VA - OSSERVATORE ROMANO
Here is a ZENIT working translation of the address Pope Francis gave yesterday, July 30, 2017, before and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter’s Square.
* * *
Before the Angelus:
Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!
Jesus’ parabolic discourse, which groups seven parables in the 13th chapter of Matthew’s Gospel, ends with the three similar ones of today: the hidden treasure (v. 44), the precious pearl (v. 45-46) and the fishing net (v. 47-48). I pause on the first two, which stress the protagonists’ decision to sell all to obtain what they have discovered. In the first case it is a farmer who by chance encounters a hidden treasure in the field where he is working. The field not being his property, he must acquire it if he wants to possess the treasure: so he decides to risk all his wealth so as not to lose that truly exceptional occasion. In the second case we find a merchant of precious pearls; he, as an expert connoisseur, has singled out a pearl of great value. He also decides to stake everything on that pearl, to the point of selling all the others.
These similarities make evident two characteristics regarding the possession of the Kingdom of God: search and sacrifice. It is true that the Kingdom of God is offered to all – it is a gift, it is a present, it is grace — however, it is not made available on a silver plate; it requires dynamism: one has to search, walk, get going. The attitude of search is the essential condition to find; it is necessary that the heart burn with the desire to reach the precious good, namely, the Kingdom of God that makes itself present in the person of Jesus. He is the hidden treasure; He is the pearl of great value. He is the fundamental discovery, who can give a decisive turn to our life, filling it with meaning.
In face of the unexpected discovery, both the farmer as well as the merchant realize they have before them a unique occasion that they must not miss. Therefore, they sell all that they possess. The assessment of the inestimable value of the treasure, leads to a decision that also implies sacrifice, detachment and renunciations. When the treasure and the pearl were discovered, when, that is, we have found the Lord, this discovery must not be left sterile, but we must sacrifice for it every thing else. It is not about showing contempt for the rest but of subordinating it to Jesus, putting Him in the first place – grace in the first place. Christ’s disciple is not one who has deprived himself of something that is essential: he is one who has found much more: he has found the full joy that only the Lord can give. It is the evangelical joy of the cured sick, of the forgiven sinners, of the thief for whom the door of Paradise opens.
The joy of the Gospel fills the heart and whole life of those that encounter Jesus. Those who let themselves be saved by Him are freed from sin, from sadness, from interior emptiness, from isolation. Joy is ever born and reborn with Jesus Christ (Cf. Evangelii Gaudium, n 1). Today we are exhorted to contemplate the joy of the farmer and of the merchant of the parables. It is the joy of every one of us when we discover the closeness and consoling presence of Jesus in our life — a presence that transforms the heart and opens us to the needs and the reception of brothers, especially the weakest.
Through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, we pray so that each one of us is able to witness, with daily words and gestures, the joy of having found the treasure of the Kingdom of God, namely, the love the Father has given us through Jesus.
[Original text: Italian]  [Translation by Virginia M. Forrester]
After the Angelus
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Observed today is the World Day against the Trafficking in Persons, promoted by the United Nations.
Today is the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, sponsored by the United Nations. Each year, thousands of men, women and children are innocent victims of sexual and organ trafficking, and it seems we are so accustomed to seeing it as a normal thing. This is ugly, it is cruel, it is criminal! I would like to draw on everyone’s commitment to make this aberrant plague, a modern form of slavery, adequately countered. Let us pray together to the Virgin Mary to support the victims of trafficking and to convert the hearts of traffickers.
Hail Mary . . .
I now greet all the pilgrims from Italy and from different countries, in particular the Murialdine Sisters of Saint Joseph, the Novices of the Sisters of Mary Help of Christians, the ministers of various Italian parishes, and the Italian Club of Women’s Hockey of Buenos Aires.
I wish all a good Sunday and, please, do not forget to pray for me. Have a good lunch and goodbye!

Sunday, July 30, 2017

From soldier to great Saint; patron of the Jesuits

St. Ignatius Loyola

Image of St. Ignatius Loyola


Feastday: July 31
Patron Dioceses of San Sebasti�n and Bilbao, Biscay & Gipuzkoa, Basque Country, Military Ordinariate of the Philippines, Society of Jesus, soldiers, Educators and Education.
Birth: 1491
Death: 1556
Beatified By: July 27, 1609 by Paul V
Canonized By: March 12, 1622 by Gregory XV

Born Inigo Lopez de Loyola in 1491, the man known as Ignatius of Loyola entered the world in Loiola, Spain. At the time, the name of the village was spelled "Loyola," hence the discrepancy. Inigo came of age in Azpeitia, in northern Spain. Loyola is a small village at the southern end of Azpeitia.
Inigio was the youngest of thirteen children. His mother died when he was just seven, and he was then raised by Maria de Garin, who was the wife of a blacksmith. His last name, "Loyola" was taken from the village of his birth.
Despite the misfortune of losing his mother he was still a member of the local aristocracy and was raised accordingly. Inigio was an ambitious young man who had dreams of becoming a great leader. He was influenced by stories such as The Song of Roland and El Cid.
At the age of sixteen, he began a short period of employment working for Juan Velazquez, the treasurer of Castile. By the time he was eighteen, he became a soldier and would fight for Antonio Manrique de Lara, Duke of Nájera and Viceroy of Navarre.
Seeking wider acclaim, he began referring to himself as Ignatius. Ignatius was a variant of Inigio. The young Ignatius also gained a reputation as a duelist. According to one story, he killed a Moor with whom he argued about the divinity of Jesus.
Ignatius fought in several battles under the leadership of the Duke of Najera. He had a talent for emerging unscathed, despite participating in many battles. His talent earned him promotions and soon he commanded his own troops.
In 1521, while defending the town of Pamplona against French attack, Ignatius was struck by a cannonball in the legs. One leg was merely broken, but the other was badly mangled. To save his life and possibly his legs, doctors performed several surgeries. There were no anesthetics during this time, so each surgery was painful. Despite their best efforts, Ignatius' condition deteriorated. After suffering for a month, his doctors warned him to prepare for death.
On June 29, 1521, on the feast of Saints Peter and Paul, Ignatius began to improve. As soon as he was healthy enough to bear it, part of one leg was amputated which while painful, sped his recovery.
During this time of bodily improvement, Ignatius began to read whatever books he could find. Most of the books he obtained were about the lives of the saints and Christ. These stories had a profound impact on him, and he became more devout.
One story in particular influenced him, "De Vita Christi" (The life of Christ). The story offers commentary on the life of Christ and suggested a spiritual exercise that required visualizing oneself in the presence of Christ during the episodes of His life. The book would inspire Ignatius' own spiritual exercises.
As he lay bedridden, Ignatius developed a desire to become a working servant of Christ. He especially wanted to convert non-Christians.
Among his profound realizations, was that some thoughts brought him happiness and others sorrow. When he considered the differences between these thoughts, he recognized that two powerful forces were acting upon him. Evil brought him unpleasant thoughts while God brought him happiness. Ignatius discerned God's call, and began a new way of life, following God instead of men.
By the spring of 1522, Ignatius had recovered enough to leave bed. On March 25, 1522, he entered the Benedictine monastery, Santa Maria de Montserrat. Before an image of the Black Madonna, he laid down his military garments. He gave his other clothes away to a poor man.
He then walked to a hospital in the town of Manresa. In exchange for a place to live, he performed work around the hospital. He begged for his food. When he was not working or begging, he would go into a cave and practice spiritual exercises.
His time in prayer and contemplation helped him to understand himself better. He also gained a better understanding of God and God's plan for him.
The ten months he spent between the hospital and the cavern were difficult for Ignatius. He suffered from doubts, anxiety and depression. But he also recognized that these were not from God.
Ignatius began recording his thoughts and experiences in a journal. This journal would be useful later for developing new spiritual exercises for the tens of thousands of people who would follow him. Those exercises remain invaluable today and are still widely practiced by religious and laity alike.
The next year, in 1523, Ignatius made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. His goal was to live there and convert non-believers. However, the Holy Land was a troubled place and Church officials did not want Ignatius to complicate things further. They asked him to return after just a fortnight.
Ignatius realized he needed to obtain a complete education if he wanted to convert people. Returning to Barcelona, Ignatius attended a grammar school, filled with children, to learn Latin and other beginning subjects. He was blessed with a great teacher during this time, Master Jeronimo Ardevol.
After completing his primary education, Ignatius traveled to Alcala, then Salamanca, where he studied at universities. In addition to studying, Ignatius often engaged others in lengthy conversations about spiritual matters.
These conversations attracted the attention of the Inquisition.
In Spain, the Inquisition was responsible for ferreting out religious dissent and combating heresy. The Inquisition was not as it has long been depicted in the media.
The Inquisition accused Ignatius of preaching without any formal education in theology. Without this training, it was likely that Ignatius could introduce heresy by way of conversation and misunderstanding.
Ignatius was questioned three times by the Inquisition, but he was always exonerated.
Ignatius eventually decided he needed more education, so he traveled north, seeking better schools and teachers. He was 38 years old when he entered the College of Saint Barbe of the University of Paris. This education was very structured and formalized. Later, Ignatius would be inspired to copy this model when establishing schools. The ideas of prerequisites and class levels would arise from the Jesuit schools, which here heavily inspired by Ignatius' experience in Paris.
Ignatius earned a master's degree at the age of 44. When he subsequently applied for his doctorate, he was passed over because of his age. He also suffered from ailments, which the school was concerned could impact his studies.
While at school in Paris, Ignatius roomed with Peter Faber and Francis Xavier. Faber was French and Xavier was Basque. The men became friends and Ignatius led them in his spiritual exercises. Other men soon joined their exercises and became followers of Ignatius. The group began to refer to themselves as "Friends in the Lord," an apt description.
The circle of friends, shared Ignatius' dream of traveling to the Holy Land, but conflict between Venice and the Turks made such a journey impossible. Denied the opportunity to travel there, the group then decided to visit Rome. There, they resolved to present themselves to the Pope and to serve at his pleasure.
Pope Paul III received the group and approved them as an official religious order in 1540. The band attempted to elect Ignatius as their first leader, but he declined, saying he had not lived a worthy life in his youth. He also believed others were more experienced theologically.
The group insisted however, and Ignatius accepted the role as their first leader. They called themselves the Society of Jesus. Some people who did not appreciate their efforts dubbed them "Jesuits" in an attempt to disparage them. While the name stuck, by virtue of their good work the label lost its negative connotation.
Ignatius imposed a strict, almost military rule on his order. This was natural for a man who spent his youth as a soldier. It might be expected that such rigor would dissuade people from joining, but it had the opposite effect. The order grew.
The Society of Jesus soon found its niche in education. Before Ignatius died in 1556, his order established 35 schools and boasted 1,000 members. The order was responsible for much of the work of stopping the spread of the Protestant Reformation. The Society advocated the use of reason to persuade others and combat heresy.
Today, the Society of Jesus is known for its work in educating the youth around the world. Several universities have been founded in the name of Ignatius and in the traditional Jesuit spirit. The Jesuits also perform many other important works around the globe.
Ignatius' passed away on July 31, 1556, at the age of 64. He was beatified by Pope Paul V on July 27, 1609 and canonized on March 12, 1622. His feast day is July 31. He is the patron saint of the Society of Jesus, soldiers, educators and education.

Abitadeacon at the Cathedral in New Orleans

Here I am baby!!  Assisting the Archbishop today.  I'm the deacon with the bum knees so I waddle more than walk.............................

Very thankful for the opportunity to assist at St. Louis Cathedral in the heart of the New Orleans French Quarter!

The joy of missionary priests, especially from Africa

Our joyful African priests are true missionary gifts to us

The "bread cast upon waters" so long ago has not come back soggy; it has brought us many riches.

Last Trinity Sunday, our parish celebrated the 30th anniversary of the ordination of our parochial vicar, Fr. Ignatius Madumere, a former Provincial of the Dominican Province of St. Joseph the Worker in Nigeria. It was a joyous occasion, and as the procession of Dominican priests and other celebrants left the sanctuary,  my wife whispered in my ear, “Bread cast upon the waters”.
This was my thought also, an insight from 15 years in which priests from Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Vietnam and India have filled the vocation gap in our diocese. The bread cast by missionaries—Jesuits, Dominicans, Apostles of Jesus, Fransalians—who carried the Word to far countries has returned, multiplied into many loaves. And even more valuable than the priestly functions these African priests carry out is the invigorating spirit they bring to worship and liturgy.
I’m going to focus on the Dominicans from Nigeria and Ghana, and, rather than giving a ledger account of the many pastoral roles filled by these missionaries to our diocese, I’d like to tell how they have enriched my own Catholic spirituality. Before doing so, I want to issue a disclaimer. These priests from Africa are from a different culture from ours—not worse, and in fact, better suited for their missionary role. Their attitude to the world and to God seems to be one of overflowing joy, one in which each person is their true neighbor, the neighbor Jesus talks about. Their learning, which is considerable, is conveyed not to show their knowledge, but to illuminate the lesson of the day. I also want to emphasize that these missionaries have different personalities—some are quiet and shy, some are extroverted and full of fun, some are leaders, cardinals in the making.
Since my talents as a writer are limited, I’m going to let two videos convey what I would like to say.
This one is Father Ignatius — “Father Happy” — welcoming the congregation. Just see how full of joy his welcome is!
The second video shows the homily given by Father Pius, a former student of Father Ignatius. He had two things to say in this homily:
1) “God is Love.”
2) A joy-filled young priest had come to his village and led him to enter the Dominican Order and to become a priest.
Note: Fr. Pius is the pastor of a parish about 20 miles from mine—it serves a university community and he is also a chaplain for a nearby state supported facility for the mentally impaired.
If, as some would say, the Church in the West is withered, then our hope is from the seeds planted in Africa and Asia, the new, vital growth.
Previously published at Robert Kurland’s blog, Reflections of a Catholic Scientist

Saturday, July 29, 2017

The golden worded Deacon who bacame a Bishop

St. Peter Chrysologus

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.

A nice refresher on Venerable Father Michael J McGivney; founder of the Knights of Columbus

This soon-to-be saint started the Knights of Columbus


Ven. Michael J. McGivney laid the groundwork for what is now the largest Catholic fraternal service organization in the world.

Born to Irish immigrants in Waterbury, Connecticut, Michael McGivney felt the call to the priesthood early on. At the age of 16 he left home for seminary studies at Séminaire de Saint-Hyacinthe in Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec.
McGivney continued his studies at Our Lady of Angels Seminary, near Niagara Falls, New York and then to St. Mary’s College, in Montreal. However, his priestly studies were put on hold when his father died.
He returned home to attend to the needs of his family and provide whatever assistance he could give. Not long after, at the request of the bishop, he went back to seminary, this time at St. Mary’s, in Baltimore. Four years later McGivney was ordained a priest on December 22, 1877.
Father McGivney was then assigned to St. Mary’s church in New Haven, Connecticut. The church welcomed Father McGivney and according to writer Douglas Brinkley, “the youthful parishioners of St. Mary’s looked to a priest who could be one of them, not merely because he loved a good laugh as much as anyone else or a snappy play in baseball even more, but because he knew what it was to be ‘first generation’ or ‘second generation.’ He knew what it was to look for and find a place as both an American and a Roman Catholic. All of his parishioners were trying to do that same thing, along one course or another.”
In 1881 McGivney started to explore ideas he had about a new type of fraternal organization. It would not only bolster the faith of the men at the parish, but also provide financial relief for families struck with the death or sudden illness of the breadwinner. He knew first hand the effect this had on a family, especially an immigrant family struggling to make it in America.
After much consultation he started the “Sons of Columbus” in 1882, named in such a way as to “bind Catholicism and Americanism together through the faith and bold vision of the New World’s discoverer.” The word “Sons” was soon replaced by “Knights” to further invigorate the men who would become members.
Father McGivney put all he had in promoting the new organization and it flourished. In 1884 he received a new parish assignment at St. Thomas Church in Thomaston, Connecticut, but continued his efforts in expanding the Knights of Columbus.
Then in 1890 McGivney was suddenly struck with pneumonia and never recovered, dying at the age of 38. The Knights of Columbus was well established by this point and has grown to be one of the most distinctive parish groups in American Catholicism.
According to their website, “The Knights of Columbus has grown from several members in one council to 15,342 councils and 1.9 million members throughout the United States, Canada, the Philippines, Mexico, Poland, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Panama, the Bahamas, the Virgin Islands, Cuba, Guatemala, Guam, Saipan, Lithuania, Ukraine, and South Korea. Our charitable activities encompass an almost infinite variety of local, national and international projects. From international charitable partnerships with Special Olympics, the Global Wheelchair Mission and Habitat for Humanity to our own Food for Families and Coats for Kids projects and other local charities, the opportunity to work together with fellow Knights and their families is virtually endless. In 2016, the Knights of Columbus set a new all-time record for the 18th consecutive year. Our charitable donations increased from $175 million in 2015 to a new total of $177,500,673 in 2016. In addition, we achieved our highest level of charitable service in 2016, volunteering more than 75 million hours of service.”
Father McGivney’s legacy lives on and many have been inspired by his selfless service and holy life. The cause for his canonization was initiated in 1996 and in 2008 was declared “venerable” by Pope Benedict XVI. A verified miracle is still needed to pave the way for McGivney’s beatification.

She is a Saint because she served

St. Martha

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.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Baby Charlie Gard goes home to the Father

Rest well baby boy; forgive us for we continue not knowing what we truly are doing.

Image may contain: one or more people and people sleeping

Remembering a current day martyr

Pope Remembers Fr Hamel on Instagram
A Photo and Message on His Account
Fr Hamel
On July 26, Pope Francis remembered the first anniversary of the murder of French Father Jacques Hamel. A year since the 80-year-old priest was murdered by two militant Islamists on the morning of July 26, 2016, while celebrating Mass in the church of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, in the diocese of Rouen, Normandy.
The Pontiff’s Instagram account published a photo of Pope Francis taken during the Mass celebrated in the presence of a group of pilgrims of the Diocese of Rouen last September 14, in memory of the elderly priest. The post is accompanied by the following message in French, English and Portuguese: “Today we remember Father Hamel who, as so many other martyrs of our time, spent his life at the service of others.”
Father Hamel’s Cause of Beatification opened at the diocesan level last April 13. Pope Francis in fact waived the mandatory five-year waiting period for the opening of such causes.

Rome has spoken, the matter is ended

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.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Carmelite Priest martyred by the Nazi's

Bl. Titus Brandsma

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.

A grand new Cathedral for the Diocese of Raleigh

Two thousand witness history at Cathedral dedication

/>The Diocese of Raleigh began the day with the smallest Catholic cathedral in the continental United States. But when the dedication of a new cathedral concluded, the diocese was home to one of the largest in the country.
Bishop Michael F. Burbidge said of Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral, “[People] are going to walk into this cathedral to gather around this altar … from which they will receive the Bread of Life and the Cup of Salvation. This is our home. This is our mother church … that will allow us to gather in great numbers.”
Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral, located in Raleigh, measures 44,000 square feet and has a seating capacity of 2,000.
Bishop Burbidge, currently bishop of the Diocese of Arlington, Virginia, served as Raleigh’s bishop during most of the cathedral project and was principal celebrant at the dedication Mass.
Concelebrants seated at the altar included Cardinal Roger Mahony, retired archbishop of Los Angeles, Cardinal Justin Rigali, retired archbishop of Philadelphia, Archbishop Wilton Gregory of the Archdiocese of Atlanta, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States, Bishop Luis Zarama, who will be installed as Raleigh’s sixth bishop on Aug. 29, and Monsignor Michael Shugrue, diocesan administrator.
More than 130 priests, 50 deacons, 15 seminarians attended the Mass. It began with the entrance hymn I Will Praise Your Name Forever, an original, 10-verse piece composed by Michael Accurso, director of liturgical music for the diocese. Based on Psalm 145, the hymn was sung in English, French, Spanish, Vietnamese, Igbo, Korean, Tagalog, Latin and Swahili.
More than 20 musicians and 70 choristers were responsible for the harmonious sounds that emanated from the choir loft. The procession included a Knights of Columbus honor guard, comprised of more than 30 Knights from throughout the diocese.
The Mass included a ceremonial passing of a key to the cathedral. Representatives involved in the building of the cathedral presented a key to Bishop Burbidge who, in turn, passed it to his successor, Bishop Zarama.
Archbishop Pierre, who is the pope’s representative in the United States, read an official letter from the Vatican designating Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral as the mother church for the diocese. Dedicated in 1924, Sacred Heart, a 300-seat church in downtown Raleigh, previously served in that role.
“May your lives each day reveal the handiwork of God’s grace,” Archbishop Pierre said to the faithful.
As part of the dedication Mass, Bishop Burbidge blessed water, which he later used to sprinkle the faithful and purify both the walls and altar of the new cathedral.
“Bless this water; sanctify it,” he prayed. “As it is sprinkled upon us and throughout this church make it a sign of the saving waters of baptism … May all here today, and all those in days to come, who will celebrate your mysteries in this church, be united at last in the holy city of your peace.”
Two readers – parishioner Tricia Moylan and seminarian Noe Ramirez – presented the new lectionary, or book of Scripture, to Bishop Burbidge who showed it to the congregants.
In English, Ms. Moylan read from the Book of Nehemiah; Mr. Ramirez read in Spanish from the Book of Ephesians.
In his homily, Bishop Burbidge spoke about the name of the new cathedral, noting that the property it sits on was once home to a Catholic orphanage. That orphanage had a chapel named Holy Name of Jesus.
“We knew that had to be the name,” Bishop Burbidge said.
He spoke about God’s holy name, urging the people of the diocese to always hold it in reverence. “I firmly believe that reverence for God’s holy name – never to be taken in vain – is a witness we all need to offer society now more than ever,” he said. “Dear Diocese of Raleigh, please renew that commitment today.”
Bishop Burbidge shared an experience he had Dec. 9, 2015 when he represented the diocese and presented the cathedral’s cornerstone to Pope Francis for a blessing.
In a lighthearted moment, he shared a challenge from that day. “The hardest part was trying to explain to the Swiss guard what I had in my hands,” he laughed, as the faithful joined in laughter.
“That cornerstone, now situated in our building, is a reminder of the truth we heard today [in Scripture]” he continued. “Our faith is built on a foundation … with Jesus Christ as the capstone.”
Bishop Burbidge also spoke about the future of the diocese and Bishop Zarama, who will serve as its next bishop. “In God’s divine plan, he has been entrusted with the pastoral care of this diocese,” Bishop Burbidge said.
The rite of dedication began with the Litany of the Saints, a Church tradition which asks the saints to support the faithful’s prayers to God.
Following the litany, relics were brought to the altars by former cathedral rectors Monsignor Shugrue, Monsignor Jerry Lewis, Monsignor Jerry Sherba and Father Daniel Oschwald and current rector Father Justin Kerber, C.P.
Bishop Burbidge enclosed the relics into the main altar, while Bishop Bernard “Ned” Shlesinger, III, newly-ordained auxiliary bishop of Atlanta and former Raleigh priest, did the same in the cathedral’s chapel. In all, 21 relics were deposited.
The Prayer of Dedication was offered, and those in attendance gave a resounding Amen to the bishop’s words.
Clad with a simple white waist apron over his chasuble, Bishop Burbidge rolled up his sleeves and anointed the main altar and church building with sacred chrism; Bishop Shlesinger anointed the chapel altar.
Alongside priest assistants Monsignor Brockman and Father Kerber, C.P., Bishop Burbidge anointed the walls in the form of a cross at twelve points throughout the cathedral. Incensation and lighting of the altar and the church followed.
About a dozen members of the parish and Catholic Center staff dressed the altar with linens and the sanctuary with floral arrangements that included greenery and white hydrangea. Five gift bearers, including a man who once lived at the orphanage that was formerly on the property, presented the gifts.
Many of the faithful gathered were moved to tears at moments, especially as a single beam of sunlight shined exclusively on the crucifix during Communion.
One attendee, Ginger Ward-Presson, a parishioner at Our Lady of Lourdes, said the Mass was the most beautiful she had ever attended.
“This was unbelievable … magnificent. In fact, it brings tears to your eyes. There were many moments, especially with the orchestra … I just think no words can describe it,” she said. “I think the liturgy was beautiful, touching, reflective. Just to be able experience this kind of liturgy, it’s momentous and also elegant and gracious. I think the cathedral is everything the bishop talked about and beyond.”
-Kate Turgeon Watson is the editor of NC Catholics magazine

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The grandparents of Jesus, parents of Mary

Sts. Joachim and Anne

Image of Sts. Joachim and Anne


Feastday: July 26

Saints Joachim (sometimes spelled "Joaquin," pronounced "wal-keem") and Anne, are the parents of the Virgin Mary. There are no mentions of them in the Bible or Gospels, what we know comes from Catholic legend and the Gospel of James, which is an unsanctioned, apocryphal writing form the second century AD. We do know from scholarship that the Gospel of James was not written by James, the Brother of Jesus, despite its claim to be so authored.
Even the early Church fathers expressed skepticism about the Gospel of James in their writings. There are about 150 copies of the ancient manuscript which often have different titles, but tell the same story, that Mary was promised to Joachim and Anne by an angel, was consecrated to God, and she remained a virgin all her life.
Naturally, there is plenty of room for scholarly debate about these saints. We have no true primary sources that prove they even existed, but certainly we can agree that Mary had parents. Likewise, we can agree that.
Mary had good, faithful parents who raised her with a love and devotion to God like none other except Jesus Christ Himself.
Joachim and Anne serve as role models for parents and both deserve to be honored and emulated for their devotion to God and Our Lady Mary, the Mother of God.

USCCB says do not repeal Obamacare unless replaced to protect poor, immigrants, the unborn

Letter to Senate Regarding Affordable Care Act


July 20, 2017

United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator:

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops urges you to oppose any effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) without a concurrent replacement plan that protects poor and vulnerable people, including immigrants, safeguards the unborn, and supports conscience rights.

In a letter dated January 18, we encouraged Congress to work in a bipartisan fashion to protect vulnerable Americans and preserve important gains in health care coverage and access.  Reiterating principles articulated when the ACA was being debated, the letter sent stressed that:  "All people need and should have access to comprehensive, quality health care that they can afford, and it should not depend on their stage of life, where or whether they or their parents work, how much they earn, where they live, or where they were born.  The Bishops' Conference believes health care should be truly universal and it should be genuinely affordable."

Before any legislation had been proposed, the bishops were clear that a repeal of key provisions of the Affordable Care Act ought not be undertaken without the concurrent passage of a replacement plan that ensures access to adequate health care for the millions of people who now rely upon it for their wellbeing.  To end coverage for those who struggle every day without an adequate alternative in place would be devastating.

Nothing has changed this analysis.  Both the American Health Care Act legislation from the U.S. House of Representatives and the Better Care Reconciliation Act from the Senate were seriously flawed, and would have harmed those most in need in unacceptable ways.  In the face of difficulties passing these proposals, the appropriate response is not to create greater uncertainty, especially for those who can bear it least, by repealing the ACA without a replacement.

Yet, reform is still needed to address the ACA's moral deficiencies and challenges with long-term sustainability.  Problems with the ACA can be fixed with more narrow reforms, and in a bipartisan way.  Congress can extend full Hyde Amendment protections to the ACA, enact laws that protect the conscience rights of all stakeholders in health care, protect religious freedom, and pass legislation that begins to remove current and impending barriers to access and affordability, particularly for those most in need. 


Most Rev. Frank J. Dewane
Bishop of Venice
Chairman, Committee on Domestic Justice
and Human Development

Pope offers prayers for Charlie Gard

Pope Prays for Charlie Gard and His Parents
Asks Faithful to Join in Prayer So They Find God’s Consolation and Love

“Pope Francis is praying for Charlie and his parents, and feels especially close to them at this time of immense suffering. The Holy Father asks that we join in prayer that they may find God’s consolation and love.”
This declaration was made by Director of the Holy See Press Office, Greg Burke, today, in response to the parents of the British 11-month-year old baby, deciding today to abandon their legal battle to bring the infant to the United States for treatment with a therapy thought to help his mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome.
Recently, medical examinations showed the baby to have irreversible brain damage and no active function.

Fountains off at the Vatican; drought in Rome

Pope Francis shuts off Vatican fountains due to Italy drought

Nuns walks past an empty fountain in St Peter's Square, in Vatican city, after the Vatican authorities decision to turn off some of the 100 fountains due to a drought affecting Rome, on July 25, 2017.
Andreas Solaro / AFP/Getty Images  
The Vatican began turning off its fountains due to an ongoing drought in Italy, the BBC reported Tuesday.
This spring has been Italy's third-driest in 60 years, and the lack of rainfall has cost the Italian agriculture sector nearly 2.3 billion dollars.
The Vatican has approximately 100 fountains, some of which are considered artistic masterpieces, and Vatican spokesman Greg Burke told the Reuters news agency that the move was the Vatican's way of standing side by side with the city of Rome during the crisis.
"As far as we know, at least in our memory, this is the first time we've had to shut the fountains down," he said.
A woman looks at an empty fountain in St Peter's Square, in Vatican city, after the Vatican authorities decision to turn off some of the 100 fountains due to a drought affecting Rome, on July 25, 2017.
Andreas Solaro / AFP/Getty Images
"This is the Vatican's way of living solidarity with Rome, trying to help Rome get through this crisis. Essentially, the water that comes into the Vatican comes from the same place as where the water comes and goes to Rome, and this is our way of trying to help out the city," he continued.
A report on Vatican Radio said the decision was consistent with Pope Francis' teachings on the environment: The Pope has denounced waste and emphasized the importance of access to clean drinking water.
"This decision is very much in line with the pope's thinking on ecology," Burke said. "You can't waste, and sometimes you have to be willing to make a sacrifice. We have very beautiful gardens in the Vatican. They might not be as green this year, but we'll survive."

Feast Day of an Apostle; the 1st Apostle to be martyrd for the faith

St. James the Greater


Image of St. James the Greater


Feastday: July 25
Patron of pilgrims and Spain
Death: 44

Nothing is known of St. James the Greater's early life, though it has been established that he is the son of Zebedee and Salome and brother of John the disciple.
The title "the Greater" was added to St. James' name to help distinguish him from the Apostle James "the Less," who is believed to have been shorter than James "the Greater."
Saint James the Greater was one of Jesus' first disciples. James was fishing with his father and John the Apostle when Jesus came to the shores of the Sea of Galilee and called for the fisherman, who were unable to catch any fish that day, to dip their nets in the water once again.
When the fishermen followed Jesus' instructions, they found their nets full, and after emptying the fish on board, the boats nearly sank from their weight.
Later, James was one of only three called by Jesus to witness his Transfiguration, and when he and his brother wanted to call fire upon a Samaritan town, both were rebuked by Jesus.
Following Christ's Ascension, James spread the Gospel across Israel and the Roman kingdom as well. He traveled and spread the Word for nearly forty years in Spain.
It is said that one day, as he prayed, The Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to him and asked him to build her a church, which he did.
Later, James returned to Jerusalem but was martyred for his faith by King Herod, who decapitated him. Saint James the Greater is known as the first apostle to die.
As he was not allowed to be buried following his martyrdom, his remains were taken to Compostela, Spain, by some of his followers, who buried him.
In the ninth century his remains were discovered and moved to a tomb in Santiago de Compostela. Today, his remains can still be found in the Cathedral of Santiago.
Because Santiago de Compostela is the most frequently visited place pilgrims migrate to following Rome and Jerusalem, Pope Leo declared it a shrine.
St. James the Greater Prayer
O glorious Apostle,
St. James, who by reason of thy fervent and generous heart
wast chosen by Jesus to be a witness of His glory on Mount Tabor,
and of His agony in Gethsemane;
thou, whose very name is a symbol of warfare and victory:
obtain for us strength and consolation in the unending warfare of this life,
that, having constantly and generously followed Jesus,
we may be victors in the strife and deserve to receive the victor's crown in heaven.

Monday, July 24, 2017

The Church is for everyone; because everyone can repent and ask for mercy

A Walk on the Holy Side: Nun Helps Transgendered Find Christ

Sister Monica Astorga via Facebook

A safe place, decent work, and an atmosphere of prayer help former prostitutes in Argentina

For the past 10 years, Sister Monica Astorga, a Discalced Carmelite in the central Argentine city of Neuquen, has helped a group of transvestites and transsexuals who decided to give up prostitution and addictions to alcohol and drugs. She has started them on the path of recovery and reintegration into society.
It began in 2005, when a transvestite named Romina showed up at her Carmel. Romina had tried to make a donation to a local parish, Our Lady of Lourdes, but when the parish found out that the money came from prostitution, the matter was referred to the nun.
Sister Monica talked for an hour with the Romina, who felt inspired to bring friends to the convent.
A few days later, these friends did come; they prayed together and shared their experiences and sorrows—especially, the religious said, from the years where they were abused as children.
“We went to pray and afterwards, I asked them, ‘What are your dreams?’ because a person without dreams doesn’t have a life. They told me that they wanted to become hairdressers or cooks and have their own business. But one group member named Katty told me that she wanted to have a clean bed to die in. “Why? Because the average age of a transgendered person is about 40 years,” the religious said.
At that point, the nun heard a calling and decided to get down to work.  She contacted Caritas in Neuquen and Bishop Virginio Bressanelli and opened a hair salon and a dressmaking cooperative. A home was renovated as a residence.
“It was thought that the house would be a place for them to die in, but that was too upsetting,” Sister Monica said. “So we decided to make it a meeting place, and I asked the bishop if I could use it as a sewing workshop.”
Katty, who wanted a clean bed to die, now leads the meetings and the sewing courses and hosts more transsexuals and transvestites from the streets.
“We have a monthly meeting. Seeing them praying for peace and joy and other things is something you have to see to believe. You will see that you are dealing with human beings, not animals, as some people sometimes treat them. For me it is very rewarding to see them pray. I believe my level of prayer cannot be compared with theirs.
She continued: “In the beginning, they couldn’t even speak because they were used to fighting. In the past, they competed to get the best places on the street, and they also saw younger ones coming. Now it’s different. They can converse and instead of gathering to drink and use drugs or talk about clients, there is dialogue. They converse quietly. This is a life for them.”
“I do this out of faith,” Sister Monica said. “I try to introduce God into their lives, that they may feel loved by God. I help them feel loved by Jesus, to see him as a friend who loves them as they are,” continued.
But the work has been full of obstacles, she said. “People asked me why there were transgendered people in church. I told them the Church is for everyone. Who was Jesus with? With sinners. What is important here is that they live in dignity, so they don’t have to sleep on the street in cold temperatures—even below zero. What I offer them is a space for prayer and to find a way to work, and the rest is for the judgment of God, which I know is so merciful.”
But the work over the years has also left Sister Monica with plenty of stories, such as Romina, the first who came to her. “She told me she felt a fight against the devil, because she was working in the hair salon, but sometimes she felt the desire to go look for another man, but she said when she felt that temptation she always asked Our Lady to help him. Another told me about taking a drink of holy water to go against the temptations. These are very strong testimonies that Jesus surely encountered when he was with prostitutes and sinners.”
According to the nun, Pope Francis, the former Archbishop of Buenos Aires, knows about the work she does, and this gives her the strength she needs to continue. “In a letter, he asked me to ‘not abandon this leadership the Lord has given you’. He offered his help for what I need.”
When Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected Pope, Sister Monica sent greetings to the new Bishop of Rome from herself and her “girls.”
“He responded saying that he doesn’t judge them and he loves them and may they know that Jesus and Mary love them so much,” she said.
The nun wishes that society would be conscious of the pain these people feel. She tells people that they might have family members who are homosexual. “I ask you to receive them with the love they deserve. Do not reject them because in some cases that could send them into prostitution. All this can be avoided with the support of the families.”

This article appeared on the website of Aleteia’s Spanish edition and comes from the Argentine Catholic Information Agency.