Saturday, October 31, 2020

Sunday is All Saints Day


All Saints' Day

All Saints' Day is a solemn holy day of the Catholic Church celebrated annually on November 1. The day is dedicated to the saints of the Church, that is, all those who have attained heaven. It should not be confused with All Souls' Day, which is observed on November 2, and is dedicated to those who have died and not yet reached heaven.

Although millions, or even billions of people may already be saints, All Saints' Day observances tend to focus on known saints --that is those recognized in the canon of the saints by the Catholic Church.

All Saints' Day is also commemorated by members of the Eastern Orthodox Church as well as some protestant churches, such as Lutheran and Anglican churches.

Generally, All Saints' Day is a Catholic Holy Day of Obligation, meaning all Catholics are required to attend Mass on that day, unless they have an excellent excuse, such as serious illness.

Other countries have different rules according to their national bishop's conferences. The bishops of each conference have the authority to amend the rules surrounding the obligation of the day.

All Saints' Day was formally started by Pope Boniface IV, who consecrated the Pantheon at Rome to the Virgin Mary and all the Martyrs on May 13 in 609 AD. Boniface IV also established All Souls' Day, which follows All Saints.

The choice of the day may have been intended to co-opt the pagan holiday "Feast of the Lamures," a day which pagans used to placate the restless spirits of the dead.

The holy day was eventually established on November 1 by Pope Gregory III in the mid-eighth century as a day dedicated to the saints and their relics. The May 13 celebration was subsequently abandoned.

In Ireland, the Church celebrated All Saints' Day on April 20, to avoid associating the day with the traditional harvest festivals and pagan feasts associated with Samhain, celebrated at the same time.

Following the establishment of the Frankish Empire, and following the reign of Charlemagne, the holy day, which was already celebrated on November 1, became a holy day of obligation by decree of Pope Gregory IV and Louis the Pious, who was king over a portion of Charlemagne's former empire.

Following the Protestant Reformation, many Protestants retained the holy day, although they dismissed the need to pray for the dead. Instead, the day has been used to commemorate those who have recently died, usually in the past year, and to remember the examples of those who lived holy lives.

The Catholic practice however, celebrates all those who have entered heaven, including saints who are recognized by the Church and those who are not.

Holy day customs vary around the world. In the United States, the day before is Halloween and is usually celebrated by dressing in costumes with themes of death commonly associated. Children go door-to-door in costume, trick-or-treating, that is soliciting candy from their neighbors. The holiday has lost much of its connection to its religious origins.

Although nearly everyone celebrates Halloween for the fun of the secular holiday, the following religious solemnity, is not widely practiced or acknowledged by most Americans unless they are Catholic.

In other countries, such as Portugal, Spain and Mexico, traditional practices include performance of the play, "Don Juan Tenorio" and offerings made to the dead. All Saints' Say occurs on the same day as the Mexican "Dide los Innocentes" a day dedicated to deceased children.

Across much of Europe, the day is commemorated with offerings of flowers left on the graves of the dead. In Eastern Europe, candles are lit on graves instead of offerings of flowers.

In some places, such as the Philippines, graves can be painted and repaired by family members. Many of these practices blur the distinction between All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day.

These celebrations often blur the distinction between All Saints' Day, which is properly dedicated to those who are in heaven, and All Souls' Day, on which prayers are offered for all those who have died, but have not yet reached heaven.

In Mexico, the Day of the Dead holy days extend from October 31 through November 2.

It is important to remember these basic facts:

Halloween is a secular holiday that comes the night before All Saints' Day.

All Saints' Day is on November 1, and it is a Holy Day of Obligation.

All Souls' Day in on November 2, and it is NOT a Holy Day of Obligation.

The Day of the Dead is a Mexican holiday that has spread in popularity into parts of the United States and across Latin America. It is celebrated from October 31 through November 2, to coincide with both the American tradition and the Catholic holy days. Those three days are dedicated to all of the all of the dead.

The Beatification of Michael J McGivney happened earlier today

Blessed Father McGivney: Knights of Columbus founder beatified

A portrait of Blessed Father Michael J. McGivney hangs at The Cathedral of St. Joseph in Hartford, Mass., after the beatification Mass for founder of the Knights of Columbus. Photo by Brian Fraga for Our Sunday Visitor

Father Michael McGivney, the young parish priest who founded the Knights of Columbus in 1882, joined the ranks of the blessed Saturday during a beatification Mass at St. Joseph Cathedral in Hartford, Connecticut.

Reading an apostolic letter in Latin from Pope Francis, Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark, New Jersey — the pope’s representative for the liturgy — announced that Blessed Michael McGivney, “whose zeal for the proclamation of the Gospel and generous concern for the needs of his brothers and sisters made him an outstanding witness of Christian solidarity and fraternal assistance,” will have his feast day on Aug. 13.

“He worked to keep families united in dignity and security,” Cardinal Tobin later said during his homily, in which he described the humble 19th-century priest as an apostle who cared for victims of an epidemic that would eventually claim his own life just two days after his 38th birthday.

Said Cardinal Tobin, “130 years after his death, the brief life of this holy man speaks eloquently to our own path of holiness.”

Michael McGivney was born in 1852 to Irish immigrant parents in Waterbury, Connecticut. Ordained in 1877, Father McGivney served as a parish priest ministering primarily to an Irish-American and immigrant community in the then-Diocese of Hartford.

While serving as pastor of St. Mary’s Church in New Haven, Father McGivney and a group of leading Catholic men founded the Knights of Columbus in 1882 to provide spiritual support for Catholic men and financial resources for families that suffered the loss of their breadwinner.

His working-class parishioners, whose often difficult lives Father McGivney personally accompanied, described him as a living “positive” saint, Carl Anderson, the supreme knight of the Knights of Columbus, said in presenting a brief biography of Father McGivney’s life.

Anderson noted the encouraging remarks that Pope Francis and his two predecessors have said about Father McGivney and his embodiment of the Knights’ virtues of charity, unity and fraternity.

“To this day, Father McGivney’s holiness of life and exemplary service continue to inspire priests across America and around the world, and his vision for an active and engaged laity serves as a witness to the power of spiritual brotherhood and charity,” Anderson said.

The Vatican announced on May 27 that Pope Francis had approved a decree recognizing a miracle attributed to Father McGivney’s intercession, paving the way to his beatification. The miracle involved the healing of Michael Schachle, a Tennessee boy, now 5 years old, from a fatal case of fetal hydrops.

Michael’s parents and several of his 12 brothers and sisters attended Saturday’s liturgy, in which they presented a first-class relic of Blessed Father McGivney.

“It’s absolutely surreal,” Daniel Schachle, the father of young Michael and himself a fourth-degree Knight of Columbus, told reporters after the Mass.

Father McGivney is the third U.S.-born priest to be beatified, after Blesseds Stanley Rother and Solanus Casey, both of whom were beatified in 2017. The Archdiocese of Hartford opened Father McGivney’s cause for beatification and canonization in 1997.

“I believe Father McGivney is truly Pope Francis’ kind of priest, a model in his time of closeness to Christ’s sheep on the peripheries of life and of society,” Archbishop Leonard P. Blair of Harford said in reading a letter of appreciation to the Holy Father.

In his homily, Cardinal Tobin told an audience of about 200 people — the 1,500-seat cathedral’s capacity was limited by COVID-19 public health protocols — that in Father McGivney “we see the face of a son of immigrants who gave his life in pastoral service of those most recently arrived in this country.”

Said Cardinal Tobin, “Father McGivney’s life is an illustration of how a holy priest can provide that necessary and intimate connection so necessary in the life and mission of a parish.”

Cardinals Timothy Dolan of New York and Seán O’Malley of Boston co-celebrated the Eucharistic liturgy with Cardinal Tobin, who said Father McGivney was sanctified “by doing what parish priests still do, day in and day out.”

In his closing remarks, Anderson, the supreme knight, said it was providential that Father McGivney’s beatification occurred in the same month that Fratelli Tutti, Pope Francis’ new social encyclical on human fraternity, was published. In the encyclical, Anderson noted, the Holy Father writes that each day “we have to decide whether to be good Samaritans or indifferent bystanders.”

“We know the decision Blessed Michael McGivney made, and we know the decisions that millions of his brother knights have made following his example,” Anderson said. “Inspired by that example, let us go forward with renewed spirit of charity so we too can be a blessing to all those we meet.”

As Catholics we need to know the real and true story of Halloween


The Real Story!

Father Augustine Thompson, O.P.,

We’ve all heard the allegations. Halloween is a pagan rite dating back to some pre-Christian festival among the Celtic Druids that escaped Church suppression. Even today modern pagans and witches continue to celebrate this ancient festival. If you let your kids go trick-or-treating, they will be worshiping the devil and pagan gods.

Nothing could be further from the truth. The origins of Halloween are, in fact, very Christian and rather American. Halloween falls on October 31 because of a pope, and its observances are the result of medieval Catholic piety.

It’s true that the ancient Celts of Ireland and Britain celebrated a minor festival on Oct. 31 — as they did on the last day of most other months of the year. However, Halloween falls on the last day of October because the Feast of All Saints or "All Hallows" falls on Nov. 1. The feast in honor of all the saints in heaven used to be celebrated on May 13, but Pope Gregory III (d. 741) moved it to Nov. 1, the dedication day of All Saints Chapel in St. Peter’s at Rome. Later, in the 840s, Pope Gregory IV commanded that All Saints be observed everywhere. And so the holy day spread to Ireland. The day before was the feast’s evening vigil, "All Hallows Even" or "Hallowe’en." In those days, Halloween didn’t have any special significance for Christians or for long-dead Celtic pagans.

In 998, St. Odilo, the abbot of the powerful monastery of Cluny in Southern France, added a celebration on Nov. 2. This was a day of prayer for the souls of all the faithful departed. This feast, called All Souls Day, spread from France to the rest of Europe.

So now the Church had feasts for all those in heaven and all those in purgatory? What about those in the other place? It seems Irish Catholic peasants wondered about the unfortunate souls in hell. After all, if the souls in hell are left out when we celebrate those in heaven and purgatory, they might be unhappy enough to cause trouble. So it became customary to bang pots and pans on All Hallows Even to let the damned know they were not forgotten. Thus, in Ireland, at least, all the dead came to be remembered — even if the clergy were not terribly sympathetic to Halloween and never allowed All Damned Day into the Church calendar.

But that still isn’t our celebration of Halloween. Our traditions on this holiday centers around dressing up in fanciful costumes, which isn’t Irish at all. Rather, this custom arose in France during the 14th and 15th centuries. Late medieval Europe was hit by repeated outbreaks of the bubonic plague — the Black Death — and she lost about half her population. It is not surprising that Catholics became more concerned about the afterlife. More Masses were said on All Souls’ Day, and artistic representations were devised to remind everyone of their own mortality.

We know these representations as the "Dance Macabre" or "Dance of Death," which was commonly painted on the walls of cemeteries and shows the devil leading a daisy chain of people — popes, kings, ladies, knights, monks, peasants, lepers, etc. — into the tomb. Sometimes the dance was presented on All Souls’ Day itself as a living tableau with people dressed up in the garb of various states of life. But the French dressed up on All Souls, not Halloween; and the Irish, who had Halloween, did not dress up. How the two became mingled probably happened first in the British colonies of North America during the 1700s when Irish and French Catholics began to intermarry. The Irish focus on hell gave the French masquerades and even more macabre twist.

But, as every young ghoul knows, dressing up isn’t the point; the point is getting as many goodies as possible. Where on earth did "trick or treat" come in?

"Trick or treat" is perhaps the oddest and most American addition to Halloween, and is the unwilling contribution of English Catholics.

During the penal period of the 1500s to the 1700s in England, Catholics had no legal rights. They could not hold office and were subject to fines, jail and heavy taxes. It was a capital offense to say Mass, and hundreds of priests were martyred.

Occasionally, English Catholics resisted, sometimes foolishly. One of the most foolish acts of resistance was a plot to blow up the Protestant King James I and his Parliament with gunpowder. This was supposed to trigger a Catholic uprising against their oppressors. The ill-conceived Gunpowder Plot was foiled on Nov. 5, 1605, when the man guarding the gunpowder, a reckless convert named Guy Fawkes, was captured and arrested. He was hanged; the plot fizzled.

Nov. 5, Guy Fawkes’ Day, became a great celebration in England, and so it remains. During the penal periods, bands of revelers would put on masks and visit local Catholics in the dead of night, demanding beer and cakes for their celebration: trick or treat!

Guy Fawkes’ Day arrived in the American colonies with the first English settlers. But, buy the time of the American Revolution, old King James and Guy Fawkes had pretty much been forgotten. Trick or treat, though, was too much fun to give up, so eventually it moved to Oct. 31, the day of the Irish-French masquerade. And in America, trick or treat wasn’t limited to Catholics.

The mixture of various immigrant traditions we know as Halloween had become a fixture in the Unites States by the early 1800s. To this day, it remains unknown in Europe, even in the countries from which some of the customs originated.

But what about witches? Well, they are one of the last additions. The greeting card industry added them in the late 1800s. Halloween was already "ghoulish," so why not give witches a place on greeting cards? The Halloween card failed (although it has seen a recent resurgence in popularity), but the witches stayed. So, too, in the late 1800s, ill-informed folklorists introduced the jack-o’-lantern. They thought that Halloween was druidic and pagan in origin. Lamps made from turnips (not pumpkins) had been part of ancient Celtic harvest festivals, so they were translated to the American Halloween celebration.

The next time someone claims that Halloween is a cruel trick to lure your children into devil worship, I suggest you tell them the real origin of All Hallows Even and invite them to discover its Christian significance, along with the two greater and more important Catholic festivals that follow it.

Friday, October 30, 2020

Our Halloween Saint of the Day


St. Wolfgang

Wolfgang (d. 994) + Bishop and reformer. Born in Swabia, Germany, he studied at Reichenau under the Benedictines and at Wurzburg before serving as a teacher in the cathedral school of Trier. He soon entered the Benedictines at Einsiedeln (964) and was appointed head of the monastery school, receiving ordination in 971. He then set out with a group of monks to preach among the Magyars of Hungary, but the following year (972) was named bishop of Regensburg by Emperor Otto II (r. 973-983). As bishop, he distinguished himself brilliantly for his reforming zeal and his skills as a statesman. He brought the clergy of the diocese into his reforms, restored monasteries, promoted education, preached enthusiastically, and was renowned for his charity and aid to the poor, receiving the title Eleemosynarius Major (Grand Almoner). He also served as tutor to Emperor Henry II (r. 1014-1024) while he was still king. Wolfgang died at Puppingen near Linz, Austria. He was canonized in 1052 by Pope St. Leo IX (r. 1049-1054). Feast day: October 31.

The week that was; incredibly memorable

 What a memorable week.  On this Friday night I feel the need/opportunity to reflect back.  This was a week that threw everything at us.  Monday and Tuesday were fairly normal, fairly productive work days.  All the while we were being apprised of the approaching storm.  But that would be Wednesday and so much has happened this hurricane season I think many of us figured another small, inconvenient close call.  By Wednesday morning, no such luck.  This thing called Hurricane Zeta was not moving off track and New Orleans and all points due south and due north would be impacted.  But of course this would be nothing, maybe a strong tropical storm maybe even a small Cat. 1 hurricane.  Again, no such luck.  Despite the lateness in the season and the supposed cooler water nothing would prevent this Zeta from becoming a strong Cat. 2 hurricane.  What the heck.  A strong hurricane in Louisiana and Mississippi in very late October; what the heck.  So I go to work Wednesday, we decide to bail out at 11 am and good thing; this storm is moving and moving fast.  By 2 pm we are feeling impacts but by 5 pm things are getting scary.

Now I've never rode out a Category 2 hurricane in this house.  I was fully expecting no power, tree damage, maybe damage to my barn.  None of this happened.  As the storm drew nearer, then the eye, followed by one last shot, the whole thing was out of here by 7:30 pm.  Get this; we never lost power, the satellite TV did remarkably well and there was no damage on my property beyond tree limbs.  What a pleasant surprise.  I was so shocked to be able to retire to bed all cozy and comfortable by 9:30 pm.

Now not everyone was so luck, especially with power.  Between southeast Louisiana and the Mississippi Gulf Coast there were over 1 million without power.  Some are still without power especially in New Orleans and surrounding parishes.  Both my sister and my daughter, some 45 miles apart, just got power back on tonight, some 48 hours in duration.  Sadly, there will many without power well into next week.  Thursday, my staff and I worked from the bank without power which is always a challenge.  But we did it!  

Also, speaking of Thursday, our home church parish, St. Jane de Chantal, had to postpone Confirmation with the Archbishop present.  No power at church, too many confirmand families dealing with similar issues and more; therefore, no Confirmation.  Happily I can report it is only delayed until next Thursday.

So the whole area is returning to normal except for those with power outages and any residual damage.  Of course close to landfall, on the coastline, the damage is a bit more severe.  Understand that this is the 7th time we were targeted and inside that infamous cone of uncertainty and the 5th time a named storm crossed the Louisiana coast.  

While all this is going on the rest of the nation is immersed in the Presidential election and lots of additional politics, the Dodgers won the World Series and a huge chunk of America turned cold.  So cold that today we had a low of 52 degrees.  By the way, I've never experienced post hurricane clean up unless we had an accompanying heat index of about 100.  Thank goodness this is so.

Tonight I had the best time driving from work to Slidell to buy chicken nuggets from Chick-fil-a for my granddaughter Brennan.  She loves the stuff and has not been able to understand why no chicken nuggets for like 3 days.  So Pops found the closest Chick-fil-a and endured the 45 minute car line to deliver chicken nuggets which produced a huge smile and a "love you Pops" which was the best way possible to end a very challenging week.  As I get ready for bed I thank God that we survived a hurricane visitor this week and can look forward to the weekend with relief and joy.

This is All Saints Day weekend and All Souls Day on Monday.  In addition to my assigned masses I will offer the blessing of graves at the nearby Abita Springs cemetery.  And yes, next week we vote and await the election results.  I choose not to think about that today.  This week has been enough to ponder.

A blessed Friday evening all!

Great read on the eve of the beatification of Fr. Michael J McGivney


Father Michael McGivney: A Likely Patron for Every Parish Priest

COMMENTARY: The 38-year-old Knights of Columbus founder, who will be beatified Oct. 31, is recognized for starting the fraternal organization, but it was in his dedication to his parochial mission where his heroic holiness was lived.

Father Michael J. McGivney, shown in a portrait by Chas Fagan, lived his vocation amid ordinary parish life.
Father Michael J. McGivney, shown in a portrait by Chas Fagan, lived his vocation amid ordinary parish life. (photo: Knights of Columbus Multimedia Archives via CNA)

The saints are not really like you and me. But Father Michael McGivney comes very close, and for that reason, he will be an attractive patron for parish priests.

A clarification: There are no canonized saints who are like you and me. The vast majority of all those in heaven were very ordinary. But to be beatified or canonized, there has to be something sufficiently noteworthy to prompt someone to undertake the arduous canonization process. Thus, most candidates are martyrs, or founders or foundresses, or endured remarkable illnesses, or did something in life sufficiently extraordinary to get the attention of others — like starting an online catalogue of Eucharistic miracles and dying young, offering your sufferings for the pope. That is the story of the Church’s newest Blessed, Carlo Acutis.

Father Michael McGivney, the U.S. parish priest who will be beatified on Saturday, the vigil of All Saints, was more or less a typical parish priest. More, because he did nothing out of the ordinary for parish priests. Less, because he founded the Knights of Columbus, without which no one would have ever heard of him, let alone proposed him for beatification. He would have been like his two brothers who became priests; unknown to history, known to God.

“Father McGivney is a model of the day-to-day, blue-collar holiness to which every parish priest is called,” writesmy friend Father Roger Landry. “He wasn’t St. Augustine in the pulpit, St. Thomas in the classroom, St. Charles Borromeo in administration, or St. Pio in stigmatized prayer. He was Father Michael McGivney, but sought to respond to his priestly vocation and the work given him with the same wholehearted devotion as the others.”

And if I might add, he wasn’t St. Jeane-Marie (John) Vianney in the confessional or St. Maximilian Kolbe in the death camps.

Blessed Michael’s feast day has been set for Aug. 13, the day between his birthday in the world (Aug. 12, 1852) and his dies natalis, birthday in heaven (Aug. 14, 1890). Usually a feast day is set for the death date, but Aug. 14 is already the obligatory feast day of St. Maximilian, so Blessed Michael’s would never be observed; Aug. 13 has no obligatory feasts.

There is something more, though, about that date, as it falls between the feast days of the patron saint of parish priests, St. Jean-Marie Vianney (Aug. 4) and Maximilian Kolbe, whose last recorded words were “I am a Catholic priest” — a sufficient explanation, he thought, for his offer to exchange his life for another prisoner.

I will confess that, though having spent my entire priesthood in parishes and most of those as a country pastor like the Curé of Ars, I have never felt a particular devotion to St. Jean-Marie Vianney. It is easy to admire him and invoke him as an intercessor, but his life seems impossibly distant from the ordinary life of a parish priest. We don’t wrestle with the devil, we don’t fast on a potato a day, and we don’t have people queuing up for days to go to confession; to be honest, many parish priests would be happy to have a confessional queue that stretched to an hour or so.

St. Maximilian is a special patron of mine, for two reasons. One is that his baptismal name, the name his mother called him, is Raymond, so I take him as my name-day saint. The second is that he was a journalist. But that is as far it goes in terms of my life being comparable to his. The Franciscan friary he founded was one of the largest religious houses in the world, he published a magazine that reached more than 10% of all the households in Poland, he traveled as a missionary to Japan — and all this before his heroic martyrdom in Auschwitz.

Sts. Jean-Marie and Maximilian are powerful intercessors for priests and inspiring witnesses, but as models their lives were remote from what parish priests daily experience.
Father McGivney, by contrast, lived his parochial life heroically in a manner not altogether different than many priests today do. He visited the sick and imprisoned, including a man who returned to the faith before his execution through Father McGivney’s ministrations. He led activities for youth and helped the poor families in the parish. Even the founding of the Knights of Columbus was not wholly different from those priests today who initiate programs for the corporal works of mercy. He was concerned for the Catholic identity of his flock in a hostile culture; in the late-19th century, it was Protestant bigotry; in the early 21st, it is secularist fundamentalism.

Father McGivney died before the Knights of Columbus were a decade old; he would do far more for the growth of the order from heaven than during his short 38-year life. Thus, while founding the Knights is the reason his cause was put forward, his life of holiness can be considered apart from that. It cannot be considered apart from his parochial mission. The authoritative biography of McGivney was entitled, for good reason, Parish Priest.

When next August rolls around, and parish priests celebrate their official patron, Jean-Marie Vianney, and Maximilian Kolbe, whom St. John Paul II called the “patron of our difficult century,” I expect that more than a few will now celebrate Aug. 13 as a new feast day for parish priests.

Papal General Audiences back to live streaming


© Vatican Media

JUST IN: Pope to Resume Privately Streamed General Audiences on November 4

No Changes to Angelus Mentioned in Vatican Statement

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Due to the increasingly rising number of COVID19 cases every day, and increasing deaths, throughout the world and in Italy, Pope Francis will return to privately streaming his Wednesday General Audiences as early as next week.

This was communicated in a brief statement today, Oct. 29, issued by the Holy See Press Office to accredited journalists.

“From next Wednesday, November 4, 2020, the Holy Father’s General Audiences will again be broadcast from the Library of the Apostolic Palace,” it began.

“This follows,” it explained, “the identification of a positive case of COVID-19 during the General Audience of Wednesday, October 21,” and is being done “in order to avoid any eventual future risk for the participants’ health.”

No mention was made, for the time being, of the Pope’s Angelus in St. Peter’s Square on Sundays at noon, which are still taking place according to the necessary health protocols.

Pope Francis reflects on Coronavirus and corruption


Pope Francis At October 28, 2020 General Audience © Vatican Media

Pope Francis Talks Coronavirus and Corruption

Exclusive Interview by Italian News Agency Adnkronos

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Pope Francis offered thoughts on the coronavirus pandemic and the challenge of address corruption in an exclusive interview with Italian news agency Adnkronos published on October 30, 2020.

The interview was conducted by Gian Marco Chiocci, who admitted feeling a bit of emotion about talking with the Holy Father: “To meet with a Pope is not an everyday thing; it elicits rare, intense and very strong emotions even if the master of the house does his utmost to put the guest not only at ease but — and it’s truly paradoxical — on the same plane.”

In the interview, the Pope addressed a number of topics, including corruption in the Church, the coronavirus, and his relationship with Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.

On corruption: “Unfortunately, corruption is a cyclical story that is repeated; then someone comes that cleans and puts in order, but then it begins again in the hope that another will come to put an end to this degeneration…The Church is and remains strong, but the subject of corruption is a profound problem that is lost in the centuries.”

On coronavirus: “They are days of great uncertainty, I pray a lot, I am so, so, so close to those that are suffering; I am in prayer with those helping people that are suffering for reasons of health but not only those.”

On Benedict: “Benedict is for me a father and brother, I write to him by letter ‘filially and fraternally.’ I often go to see him up there (with his finger he indicates the direction of the Mater Ecclesiae monastery, which, in fact, is behind Saint Peter’s) and if recently I’ve seen him somewhat less it’s only because I don’t want to tire him. The relationship is truly good, very good, we agree on the things to be done. Benedict is a good man, he is holiness personified.”

The Pope also spoke of the advice he received from a woman shortly after he learned that Pope John Paul II had died: “The Mass having ended, a very poor woman approached me and asked me information on how a Pope is elected, I told her about the white smoke, the Cardinals, the Conclave, to which she interrupted me and said: listen, Bergoglio, when you become Pope the first thing you must do is buy a puppy. I answered that I would hardly become so, and if I did, why should I get a dog. Because every time you are about to eat — was her answer — give a small piece first to the dog; if he’s ok, then continue to eat.”

The writer also asked the Pope if he has fear. According to the report, the Holy Father pondered that question a long time before answering:

“I don’t fear consequences against me, I don’t fear anything. I act in the name and on behalf of our Lord. Am I irresponsible? Lacking somewhat in prudence? I wouldn’t know what to say; instinct and the Holy Spirit guide me; I am guided by the love of my wonderful people who follow Jesus Christ. And then I pray; I pray a lot, in this difficult moment all of us should pray a lot, given what is happening in the world.”

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Friday Saint of the Day


St. Alphonsus Rodriguez

Confessor also called Alonso. He was born in Segovia, Spain, on July 25, 1532, the son of a wealthy merchant, and was prepared for First Communion by Blessed Peter Favre, a friend of Alphonsus' father. While studying with the Jesuits at Alcala, Alphonsus had to return home when his father died. In Segovia he took over the family business, was married, and had a son. That son died, as did two other children and then his wife. Alphonsus sold his business and applied to the Jesuits. His lack of education and his poor health, undermined by his austerities, made him less than desirable as a candidate for the religious life, but he was accepted as a lay brother by the Jesuits on January 31, 1571. He underwent novitiate training and was sent to Montesion College on the island of Majorca. There he labored as a hall porter for twenty-four years. Overlooked by some of the Jesuits in the house, Alphonsus exerted a wondrous influence on many. Not only the young students, such as St. Peter Claver, but local civic tad and social leaders came to his porter's lodge for advice tad and direction. Obedience and penance were the hallmarks of his life, as well as his devotion to the Immaculate Conception. He experienced many spiritual consolations, and he wrote religious treatises, very simple in style but sound in doctrine. Alphonsus died after a long illness on October 31, 1617, and his funeral was attended by Church and government leaders. He was declared Venerable in 1626, and was named a patron of Majorca in 1633. Alphonsus was beatified in 1825 and canonized in September 1888 with St. Peter Claver.

Horrible terrorist attack today in France; 3 killed 1 was decapitated


Three Dead in Terrorist Attack at French Basilica

Christian Estrosi, Nice’s mayor, said that the perpetrator, who was armed with a knife, was shot and arrested by the municipal police.

The Basilica of Notre-Dame de Nice in France.
The Basilica of Notre-Dame de Nice in France. (photo: Courtesy photo / Twitter/@cestrosi)

NICE, France — An attacker killed three people at a church in Nice and wounded others, police in the French city said Thursday. 

The incident took place at the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Nice Oct. 29 at around 9am local time, according to French media. 

Christian Estrosi, Nice’s mayor, said that the perpetrator, who was armed with a knife, was shot and arrested by the municipal police.

He said in a video posted to Twitter that the attacker repeatedly shouted "Allahu Akbar" during and after the attack.

The police have confirmed to that three people died in the attack and several were injured, according to Reuters.

Estrosi wrote on Twitter that two of the victims were killed inside the basilica. He paid tribute to the church’s guardian who he said was “so appreciated by the parishioners.”

In another tweet, he wrote: “I confirm that everything suggests a terrorist attack in the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Nice.”

The Bishop of Nice André Marceau said that all churches in Nice have been closed and will remain under police protection until further notice.

The bishop said that his emotion was strong after learning of the "heinous terrorist act" at the basilica, noting that it occured not long after the beheading of a Paris school teacher, Samuel Paty, in an Islamist terror attack earlier this month. 

"My sadness is infinite as a human being in the face of what other beings, called human, can do," Bishop Marceau said in a statement.

"May Christ's spirit of forgiveness prevail in the face of these barbaric acts," he said.

Cardinal Robert Sarah also responded to the news of the attack on the basilica. He wrote on Twitter: "Islamism is a monstrous fanaticism which must be fought with force and determination. ... Unfortunately, we Africans know this too well. The barbarians are always the enemies of peace. The West, today France, must understand this."

The basilica, completed in 1868, is the largest church in Nice, but is not the city’s cathedral.

Archbishop Éric de Moulins-Beaufort, president of the French bishops' conference, wrote on Twitter that he was praying for Catholics in Nice and for their bishop.

Estrosi said that he had spoken to Emmanuel Macron about the incident and that the French president would visit Nice late morning. 

The morning after

 Daylight brings evidence of the destruction.  No, this was nothing like Katrina or even Laura earlier this year.  But there appears to be more structural damage than hoped for, excessive power outages (almost 1 million between Louisiana and Mississippi) and 2 deaths so far.

Today is a day of work and recovery and hopefully massive power restoration.  The conditions today are perfect; clear and cool.  Time to get the work done.

Pray for one another and pray for us impacted by Hurricane Zeta

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Thursday Saint of the Day


St. Narcissus

St. Narcissus was born towards the end of the first century in AD 99. He was almost 80-years-old when he was placed at the head of the church of Jerusalem, making him the 30th bishop of that see.

In 195, he and Theophilus, bishop of Caesarea in Palestine, presided together in a council of the bishops of Palestine held at Caesarea regarding the time Easter is celebrated. It was then decreed that the feast of Easter is to be kept always on a Sunday.

Bishop and historian, Eusebius says this particular Easter miracle can be attributed to Narcissus "One year on Easter-eve the deacons did not have any oil for the lamps in the church, which was necessary at the solemn divine office on that day. Narcissus ordered those who had care of the lamps to bring him some water from the neighboring wells. This being done, he pronounced a devout prayer over the water. Then he bade them pour it into the lamps; which they did. The water was immediately converted into oil, to the great surprise of all the faithful."

However, not even the veneration of all good men could shelter Narcissus from the malice of the wicked.

Three persistent sinners, fearing Narcissus' severity in the observance of religious discipline, accused him of an unimaginable crime. The sinners maintained they were telling the truth by adding additional security into their claims. If they were not speaking the truth, one wished he might perish by fire, another, that he might be struck with a leprosy, and the third, that he might lose his sight.

Nevertheless, their accusations were found to be false and Divine Retribution was called upon them.

The first was burnt in his house, along with his whole family, by an accidental fire in the night. The second was struck with a universal leprosy; and the third, terrified by these examples, confessed the conspiracy and slander, and by the abundance of tears which he continually shed for his sins, lost his sight before his death.    

Soon after, Narcissus decided to leave Jerusalem for a life of solitude. His reasons for doing so weren't clear. Some believed he left because he could not bear the shock of the bold slander, and others believed leaving had always been a wish of his.

He spent several years undiscovered in his retreat, where he enjoyed all the happiness and advantage which a close conversation with God can bestow.

After he departed, the neighboring bishops chose a new pastor for Narcissus' church until he decided to return.

Once Narcissus returned, years later, the faithful rejoiced and convinced Narcissus to once again assume the administration of the diocese. He accepted.

As Narcissus started to reach an extreme old age, he made St. Alexander his coadjutor.

A coadjutor is a bishop appointed to assist a diocesan bishop, and often also designated as his successor.

St. Narcissus continued to serve his flock, and even other churches, by his diligent prayers and his earnest exhortations to unity and concord, as St. Alexander testifies in his letter to the Arsinoites in Egypt, where he says that Narcissus was at that time about 116 years old.

St. Narcissus passed away soon after in AD 216, at the age of 117.

He is often depicted as a Bishop holding a thistle in blossom, with a pitcher of water next to him or with an angel shown carrying his soul to heaven.    

His feast day is celebrated on October 29.