Sunday, October 22, 2017

What to Dump For a Better Life

The following comes from the Integrated Catholic Life:
We’ve got a dumpster coming today for some household cleanup, an October cleaning of sorts to purge the house of many things—old broken but non-antique furniture, a basketball hoop that has seen better days, wet carpet pulled up from a home improvement project, and a wooden swing that served us well for many summers but is now warped and falling apart.
As I sit by the window, waiting for the truck that will bring the dumpster (I hope I got one big enough), it occurred to me that while I am at it, it might be a good idea to rid my mind of mental debris as well. If a cook works better in a clean kitchen, and if a home operates more smoothly with organized rooms, then I’m sure my mind (and spirit) will be better off if I get rid of a few things. Want to join me?
The purging, both physical and mental, won’t be overwhelming. We’ll just be getting rid of things we no longer need, or that can become not only an eyesore but unhealthy if they sit out too long.
First, we’ll start with resentment. It’s a toughie because it likes to linger, but we’ve got to get it out. Let us begin.
Did your parents prevent you from some pined for opportunity when you were a child that you’re just positive would have affected your life positively and differently had they done this or that? Were you overlooked at work although you really deserved a raise or recognition? Did a friend snub you? Did you buy some stock and then lose money because of bad advice or maybe just bad luck? Did rain get in your basement? Was the supermarket clerk rude? Did someone flip you off in traffic? Were you misunderstood? Do you have an acute or lingering illness? Did someone else seem to get a break in sports, or income or wife or life? Do you have some personal struggles that no one seems to understand or no one else seems to have? Did you experience a once in a lifetime catastrophe?
Okay, here it is:
You have to get over it.  

Ouch. I know that sounds harsh. And please believe me, I really do understand how hard it can be to refuse resentment. Some years ago my brother, just twenty-years-old, was killed in a car accident. I have lost five babies to miscarriage (one on Christmas Day). I have other private sorrows. I lived through a house fire as a child and battled cancer as an adult. I am experienced in the once-in-a-lifetime catastrophe department, which are not always “once in a lifetime” as some of you may also know first hand. I tell you this only so you will know I understand how hard this can be. Stewing over past hurts may be tempting, but don’t do it! We not only canlet go of resentment that tempts us, but we must or it will clutter our hearts and minds and will snuff out joy of living.
When we resent someone (or something), we hand over power to that person or situation. We let it control our moods and emotions, how we treat people. In short, resentment grows easily and can rob our lives of peace of mind and happiness.
“A stone is heavy and sand is weighty, but a fool’s provocation is heavier than both.” (Proverbs 27:3)
“The godless in heart cherish anger.” (Job 36: 13)
Three remedies to resentment are forgiveness, a reality check and gratitude.
First, let’s look at forgiveness and address what forgiveness of a person is not—forgiveness is not being stupid, trusting an untrustworthy person, for example. It is not putting yourself in an unhealthy situation over and over again, taking physical or emotional abuse, because you are constantly giving a bad person another chance. If a person willfully hurts you and is impenitent it would be ridiculous to put yourself in a situation to be hurt again. Forgiveness also doesn’t mean overlooking evil. Forgiveness does not mean giving access again when it is imprudent to do so. Sometimes, in fact, a situation necessitates distance from the person you forgive, for self-preservation purposes.
What does forgiveness—something Jesus tells us to do “seventy times seven” look like then? Forgiveness of a person means you look at him with compassion, trying to see him through “God’s eyes” so to speak. The angry and verbally abusive person may have, for example, been raised in a poor home environment. Imagine what it must have been like for him as a child growing up in a home with hate being spewed daily. Perhaps he says what was said to him. Forgiveness does not mean you subject yourself to his vitriol. Forgiveness does not mean you do not hold him accountable for his actions or say meekly that the wrongs are “not a big deal.” But you do, looking at him with “kind eyes,” seek understanding, and let go of the hurt, like a helium balloon into the sky, of the anger he throws your way. You sincerely wish the best for him. You pray for him. You bless him. This could be the grace that allows goodness and healing to reenter his life. God is good like that.
We can also play the “benefit of the doubt” or “make excuses” exercise to help facilitate forgiveness of a person and prevent resentment from taking hold in our hearts. We do this by imagining the best in someone and picturing a scenario that perhaps caused the behavior we are tempted to resent. A simple example is a man flips you off in traffic, either warranted or unwarranted by your driving. You can take it personally and get mad back, or control your thoughts to imagine he may have been just fired from his job, or his wife just left him, or imagine some other instance where he may have been wronged and gave in to a momentary action of anger against you. In short, you give him the benefit of the doubt and “make excuses” for him. It is easier to forgive when you have compassion for someone. And forgiving helps dissipate resentment.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Prepare Your Heart to Pray

The following comes from the Catholic Exchange:


Prayer is, as it were, being alone with God. A soul prays only when it is turned toward God, and for so long as it remains so. As soon as it turns away, it stops praying. The preparation for prayer is thus the movement of turning to God and away from all that is not God. That is why we are so right when we define prayer as this movement. Prayer is essentially a “raising up,” an elevation. We begin to pray when we detach ourselves from created objects and raise ourselves up to the Creator.
Now, this detachment is born when we clearly realize our nothingness. That is the real meaning of our Lord’s words: “He that shall humble himself shall be exalted.” His whole life was a continual abasement, always more and more profound. St. Bernard does not hesitate to say that such an abasement brings us face-to-face with God. Hence the peace of souls that have fallen, when, raised up by God, they find themselves in His presence. And it is precisely in their abasement, once they have recognized and admitted it, that they find Him, because it is there that He reveals Himself. The only thing that prevents Him from doing so is our “self.” When we own to our nothingness, this “self” is broken down, and once that happens, the mirror is pure, and God can produce own image in the soul, which then faithfully reproduces His features that are revealed in all their harmony and perfect beauty.
This is what our Lord meant in that vital passage in the Ser­mon on the Mount, and what all human considerations on prayer repeat endlessly but without arriving at its full splendor: “But thou, when thou shalt pray, enter into thy chamber and, having shut the door, pray to thy Father in secret.”95 Enter this sacred chamber of your soul and there, having closed the door, speak to your Father, who sees you in these secret depths, and say to Him, “Our Father, who art in Heaven. . . .” This intimate presence; your faith in Him who is the secret depth of it and gives Himself there; the silence toward all that is not God in order to be all to Him — here is the preparation for prayer.
It is obvious that we do not reach such a state of soul without being prepared for it by quite a combination of circumstances. And this is just what we do not know sufficiently in practice. The way to prepare for prayer is by leading a divine life, and prayer, af­ter all, is that divine life. Everything that reproduces God’s image in us; everything that raises us beyond and above created things; every sacrifice that detaches us from them; every aspect of faith that reveals the Creator to us in creatures; every movement of true and disinterested love making us in unison with the Three in One — all this is prayer and prepares us for a still more intimate prayer. All this makes real the divine word of the Sermon on the Mount and the dual movement it recommends: shut the door and pray to thy Father. When He spoke thus, the divine Word showed that He knew our being and its laws. He revealed Himself as our Creator and made Himself our Redeemer. He showed that He made us and that He alone can remake us.
We do not suffice to ourselves; we have not in us that which can complete us; we need to be completed. I know I am putting it badly when I say that this complementing thing is not in us. Actually, it is in within us, but it is in a part of us that is, as it were, outside of us. In us, as in God, there are “many mansions.” God is within us in the depths of our soul, but by sin we no longer occupy those depths. When Eve looked at the forbidden fruit and stretched out her hand to take it and eat it, she went out of those secret depths in her soul. It was these depths that were the real terrestrial paradise, where God visited our first parents and spoke to them. Since the Fall, God is in us, but we are not!
The preparation for prayer consists in returning to those depths. Renunciation, detachment, recollection — whatever word we use, the reality is the same, and that reality is the true secret of prayer. Close the door and enter. . . . It needs only these two phrases to ex­plain this, but in reality they are only one thing. They represent a movement, for all that unites us to God is movement. The words are related to two “terms,” or ends. If we speak of the terminus a quo (that is, from), they say (and they do what they say): Close. If we think of the terminus ad quem (that is, to), they say: Enter.We have to close the door on all that is not, and enter into HIM WHO IS. There you have the secret of all prayer.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Blessed Fr. Jerzy Popieluszko: Polish Priest and Martyr



Today the church remembers the Polish Martyr Fr. Jerzy Popieluszko.  He was beatified by Pope Benedict in 2010.  The following comes from the St. Stanislaus Kostka parish in Brooklyn, NY:

Fr. Jerzy Popieluszko was born on September 14, 1947 in Poland on the feast of Holy Cross Day. He was  the fourth child born to Marianna and Wladyslaw Popiełuszko. Two days later, he was baptized in his family  parish church in Suchowola. His mother, still in a blessed state, offered him up as a servant God. In 1954, he started elementary school and then continued his education in the local high school. After  graduation, he entered the seminary in Warsaw. After a year of study, he was drafted into the army and  inducted into a special unit created to destroy priestly vocations among young people. Two years in the army  had adversely affected his health. Later it even interfered with his priestly ministry. He was ordained at the hands of Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski on May 28, 1972.  During the years 1972-1980 he was a vicar in the following parishes: Holy Trinity  in Zabkach, Our Lady of the Rosary in Anin and Child Jesus in Warsaw. Due to  his failing health and inability to continue the duties of a vicar, he was assigned to  work with students in St. Anne’s Church in Warsaw. In 1979, he began his priestly  ministry as a chaplain to medical workers in the archdiocese of Warsaw.
On May 20, 1980 he was transferred to the St. Stanislaus Kostka Parish in  Warsaw. There he continued his ministry and assisted in the parish as a resident.
On August 31, 1980, at  the request of Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski he celebrated Mass for striking workers. This was the beginning of  his ministry among workers.  All along, Fr. Jerzy was involved in assisting the needy – especially families with many children, poor, and  close to those in prison camps. He collected food and medicine for them. He attended hearings of those  arrested for interfering with martial law. He supported political prisoners.
In February of 1982 he started  celebrating Mass on the last Sunday of every month for freedom of Poland. As months passed, more and  more people came from near and far to participate in the Mass.  The communist leaders at that time were not pleased with the actions of Fr. Jerzy and the respect he was  enjoying from people all over Poland. More and more often things happened that were meant to scare  Fr. Jerzy and force him to resign from ministry. Twice his home was broken into, he was constantly being  followed, harassed, stopped by police. His home was bombed and his car was doused with paint. At the  same time letters were arriving at the Bishop’s office complaining that his sermons „were consistently taking  aim at the People’s Republic of Poland”. In September 1983, a case was brought against him accusing him  of „excessive use of his rights as a priest in an effort to cause harm to the People’s Republic of Poland.”
In  December 1983 he was arrested. Upon the intervention of the Church, he was released. He was facing a  possible 10 years in prison. From January to June 1984, he was interrogated 13 times. His prison sentence  was later dropped as a result of the amnesty program of 1984. However, simultaneously a slander campaign  was being conducted by Jerzy Urban, the then spokesman for the government newspaper.
On October 13, 1984, near the town of Ostróda an attempt was made on the life of Fr. Jerzy Popieluszko  who was returning from Gdansk to Warsaw.
On October 19, along with the driver Waldemar Chrostowski he  travelled to Bydgoszcz. At 6:00pm on that day, he celebrated Rosary Devotions and Holy Mass in Polish  Saints Martyred Brothers Church.
On their return trip at about 10:00pm he was abducted in a place called  Przysiek near Torun by three members of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. He was brutally beaten, he was tied  up in a way that any movement caused the noose to tighten around his neck, and then he was locked in the  trunk of a car. A boulder weighing about 24 pounds was tied to his legs, and he was thrown into a tributary of  the Wistula River near Wloclawek.
His body was finally found on October 30.

Read the rest here.

Lesson One in Prayer by Dr. Peter Kreeft

The following comes from The Integrated Catholic Life:


Let’s get very, very basic and very, very practical about prayer. The single most important piece of advice I know about prayer is also the simplest: Just do it!
How to do it is less important than just doing it. Less-than-perfect prayer is infinitely better than no prayer; more perfect prayer is only finitely better than less perfect prayer.
Nancy Reagan was criticized for her simple anti-drug slogan: “Just say no.” But there was wisdom there: the wisdom that the heart of any successful program to stop anything must be the simple will to say no. (“Just say no” doesn’t mean that nothing else was needed, but that without that simple decision nothing else would work. “Just say no” may not be sufficient but it is necessary.)
Similarly, no program, method, book, teacher, or technique will ever succeed in getting us to start doing anything unless there is first of all that simple, absolute choice to do it. “Just say yes.”
The major obstacle in most of our lives to just saying yes to prayer, the most popular and powerful excuse we give for not praying, or not praying more, or not praying regularly, is that we have no time.
The only effective answer to that excuse, I find, is a kind of murder. You have to kill something, you have to say no to something else, in order to make time to pray. Of course, you will never find time to pray, you have to make time to pray. And that means unmaking something else. The only way to install the tenant of prayer in the apartment building of your life is to evict some other tenant from those premises that prayer will occupy. Few of us have any empty rooms available.
Deciding to do that is the first thing. And you probably won’t decide to do it, only wish to do it, unless you see prayer for what it is: a matter of life or death, your lifeline to God, to life itself.
Is this exaggerated? Are there more important things? Love, for instance? We need love absolutely; but the love we need is agape, the love that only God has and is; so unless we go to God for it, we won’t get it. And going to God for it means prayer. So unless we pray, we will not love.
Having got that clear and having made prayer your number one priority, having made a definite decision to do it, we must next rearrange our lives around it. Rearranging your time, preparing time to pray, is like preparing your house to paint. As everyone knows who has done any painting, preparation is three-quarters the work, three-quarters the hassle, and three-quarters the time. The actual painting is a breeze compared with the preparation. The same is true of prayer: the hardest step is preparing a place, a time, a sacred and inviolable part of each day for it. Prayer is like Thanksgiving dinner. It takes one hour to eat it and ten hours to prepare it. Prayer is like Christmas Day: it took a month of preparation, decoration, and shopping to arrange for that one day. Best of all, prayer is like love. Foreplay is, or should be, most of it. For two people truly and totally in love, all of their lives together is foreplay. Well, prayer is like spiritual love-making. God has waited patiently for you for a long, long time. He longs for you to touch the fringe of his being in prayer, as the woman touched the hem of Christ’s garment, so that you can be healed. How many hours did that woman have to prepare for that one-minute touch?
The first and most important piece of practical preparation is scheduling. You absolutely must schedule a regular time for prayer, whether you are a “scheduler” with other things in your life or not. “Catch as catch can” simply won’t work for prayer; it will mean less and less prayer, or none at all. One quick minute in the morning to offer your day to God is better than nothing at all, of course, but it is as radically inadequate as one quick minute a day with your wife or husband. You simply must decide each day to free up your schedule so you can pray.
How long a time? That varies with individuals and situations, of course; but the very barest minimum should certainly be at least fifteen minutes. You can’t really count on getting much deep stuff going on in less time than that. If fifteen minutes seems too much to you, that fact is powerful proof that you need to pray much more to get your head on straight.
After it becomes more habitual and easy, expand it, double it. And later, double it again. Aim at an hour each day, if you want radical results. (Do you? Or are you only playing?)
What time of day is best? The most popular time—bedtime—is usually the worst possible time, for two reasons. First, it tends not to be prime time but garbage time, when you’re the least alert and awake. Do you really want to put God in the worst apartment in your building? Should you offer him the sickest sheep in your flock?
Second, it won’t work. If you wait until every other obligation is taken care of first before you pray, you simply won’t pray. For life today is so cruelly complicated for most of us that “every other obligation” is never taken care of. Remember, you are going to have to kill other things in order to pray. No way out of that.
The most obvious and usually best time is early in the morning. If you can’t delay the other things you do, you simply must get up that much earlier.
Should it be the very first thing? That depends. Some people are alert as soon as they get up; others need to shower and dress to wake up. The important thing is to give God the best time, and “just do it.”
Place is almost as important as time. You should make one special place where you can be undisturbed. “Catch as catch can” won’t work for place either.
What place? Some people are not very sensitive to environment and can even use a bathroom. Others naturally seek beauty: a porch, yard, garden, or walk. (I find praying while you take a walk a good combination of spiritual and physical exercise.)
You probably noticed I haven’t said a word about techniques yet. That’s because three-quarters is preparation, remember? But what about methods?
I can only speak from my own experience as a continuing beginner. The two most effective that I have found are very simple. One is praying Scripture, reading and praying at the same time, reading in God’s presence, receiving the words from God’s mouth. The second is spontaneous verbal prayer. I am not good at all at silent prayer, mental prayer, contemplative prayer; my thoughts hop around like fleas. Praying aloud (or singing) keeps me praying, at least. And I find it often naturally leads to silent prayer often, or “mental prayer,” or contemplation.
Most advice on prayer focuses on higher levels: contemplative prayer. But I suspect many of my readers are prayer infants too and need to learn to walk before they can run. So these are some lessons from one man’s prayer kindergarten. Let’s “just do it” even if “it” is only crawling towards God.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Saint of the Day: Ignatius of Antioch


The following comes from the CNA:

On Oct. 17, the Roman Catholic Church remembers the early Church Father, bishop, and martyr Saint Ignatius of Antioch, whose writings attest to the sacramental and hierarchical nature of the Church from its earliest days. Eastern Catholics and Eastern Orthodox Christians celebrate his memory on Dec. 20. 

In a 2007 general audience on St. Ignatius of Antioch, Pope Benedict XVI observed that “no Church Father has expressed the longing for union with Christ and for life in him with the intensity of Ignatius.” In his letters, the Pope said, “one feels the freshness of the faith of the generation which had still known the Apostles. In these letters, the ardent love of a saint can also be felt.” 

 Born in Syria in the middle of the first century A.D., Ignatius is said to have been personally instructed – along with another future martyr, Saint Polycarp – by the Apostle Saint John. When Ignatius became the Bishop of Antioch around the year 70, he assumed leadership of a local church that was, according to tradition, first led by Saint Peter before his move to Rome. 

Although St. Peter transmitted his Papal primacy to the bishops of Rome rather than Antioch, the city played an important role in the life of the early Church. Located in present-day Turkey, it was a chief city of the Roman Empire, and was also the location where the believers in Jesus' teachings and his resurrection were first called “Christians.” 

Ignatius led the Christians of Antioch during the reign of the Roman Emperor Domitian, the first of the emperors to proclaim his divinity by adopting the title “Lord and God.” Subjects who would not give worship to the emperor under this title could be punished with death. As the leader of a major Catholic diocese during this period, Ignatius showed courage and worked to inspire it in others. 

After Domitian's murder in the year 96, his successor Nerva reigned only briefly, and was soon followed by the Emperor Trajan. Under his rule, Christians were once again liable to death for denying the pagan state religion and refusing to participate in its rites. It was during his reign that Ignatius was convicted for his Christian testimony and sent from Syria to Rome to be put to death. 

Escorted by a team of military guards, Ignatius nonetheless managed to compose seven letters: six to various local churches throughout the empire (including the Church of Rome), and one to his fellow bishop Polycarp who would give his own life for Christ several decades later. 

Ignatius' letters passionately stressed the importance of Church unity, the dangers of heresy, and the surpassing importance of the Eucharist as the “medicine of immortality.” These writings contain the first surviving written description of the Church as “Catholic,” from the Greek word indicating both universality and fullness. 

One of the most striking features of Ignatius' letters, is his enthusiastic embrace of martyrdom as a means to union with God and eternal life. “All the pleasures of the world, and all the kingdoms of this earth, shall profit me nothing,” he wrote to the Church of Rome. “It is better for me to die in behalf of Jesus Christ, than to reign over all the ends of the earth.” 

“Now I begin to be a disciple,” the bishop declared. “Let fire and the cross; let the crowds of wild beasts; let tearings, breakings, and dislocations of bones; let cutting off of members; let shatterings of the whole body; and let all the dreadful torments of the devil come upon me: only let me attain to Jesus Christ.” 

St. Ignatius of Antioch bore witness to Christ publicly for the last time in Rome's Flavian Amphitheater, where he was mauled to death by lions. “I am the wheat of the Lord,” he had declared, before facing them. “I must be ground by the teeth of these beasts to be made the pure bread of Christ.” His memory was honored, and his bones venerated, soon after his death around the year 107.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Testimony of Samia Zumout: Medjugorje, Conversion and Giving Everything to God

Testimony of Samia Zumout in 2010 prior to her diagnosis with primary progressive Multiple Sclerosis in 2011. She talks about her conversion story in Medjugorje and the journey that our Lord Jesus Christ took her on to leave her career as an attorney to become a missionary of his healing love.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Blessed Alexandria Maria da Costa: Victim Soul of Fatima

The following comes from Unity Publishing: 


There are many stories of Fatima and for everything to be told would be like an Encyclopaedia.  One of these stories will be better known on April 25, 2004 when Pope John Paul II declares Alexandrina blessed.  If you do not know her story, you can get a great book from Tan Book and Publishers called "Alexandrina, The Agony and The Glory" by Francis Johnson.   

Some of the pilgrimages which go to Fatima visit the town of Balasar north of Fatima.  It became famous in 1832 when the earth changed to form the appearance of a large cross which you can still see today inside a chapel which has been built over it.  Almost exactly 100 years later in the same town, Alexandrina Maria da Costa started suffering the passion of Jesus in answer to the request of Our Lady of Fatima.  She ended her life living on the Eucharist alone for the last thirteen years.  

Alexandrina was born in April 1904.  In 1918, the year after the apparitions of Fatima, Alexandrina and her sister Deolinda and another girl were home when three men knocked at the door, one of whom had previously tried to molest Alexandrina.  They broke into the house.  Alexandrina (to preserve her chastity) jumped from an upstairs window.  The men fled but Alexandrina’s spine had been irreparably injured and she had to remain in bed for the rest of her life.  The slightest movement caused her intense pain.  She began to grow closer and closer to the Lord and realised that she was suffering in a special way for the salvation of souls.  She received Holy Communion every day and her thoughts frequently turned to Jesus in the tabernacle.  

She went into her first ecstasy in 1931 when she heard Jesus say to her, “Love, suffer and make reparation.”  She saw her vocation to be that of a victim soul, to make reparation for all of us.  Under the order of her spiritual director she was dictating her life’s story to her sister but many times the devil threatened her not to write any more.  In 1936 Our Lord asked her to spread the message of Fatima and to urge the consecration of the world to the Immaculate Heart and she offered herself as a victim soul for this. 

In one of her ecstasies Jesus said to her,

“Keep me company in the Blessed Sacrament.  I remain in the tabernacle night and day, waiting to give my love and grace to all who would visit me.  But so few come.  I am so abandoned, so lonely, so offended…. Many…do not believe in my existence; they do not believe that I live in the tabernacle.  They curse me.  Others believe, but do not love me and do not visit me; they live as if I were not there… You have chosen to love me in the tabernacles where you can contemplate me, not with the eyes of the body, but those of the soul.  I am truly present there as in Heaven, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity.” 

From October 1938 Alexandrina began to suffer the passion of Jesus every Friday.  She suffered the passion of Jesus 180 times.  Until 1942 she was suffering in silence without fame but after a report appeared in a newspaper from then on she was besieged by pilgrims asking for prayer.  During the Holy Week the same year Jesus said to her,

“You will not take food again on earth.  Your food will be my Flesh; your drink will be my Divine Blood …”

So on Good Friday 1942 she began an absolute fast which lasted for the more than thirteen years until her death.  The only nourishment which her body filled with pain received was Jesus in Holy Communion every morning.  News of her fast spread and the crowds became even bigger.  Some people had doubts and suspicions about her fast and accused her, her sister and mother of fraud.  Therefore she agreed to medical observation.  The doctor asked her, “Why do you not eat?”  She replied, “I do not eat because I cannot.  I feel full.  I do not need it.  However, I have a longing for food.”  It was decided that she should be admitted to a nearby hospital for a thirty day observation of her fast.  While she was in the hospital some tried to persuade her to take food.  The doctor in charge of the examination was nasty to her and at the end of the thirty days said the nurses watching her must have been deceived and decided she was to remain there for a further ten days.  They even showed her tasty food to entice her to eat.  When the test was finally over the doctor said to her he would visit her at home not as a doctor-spy but as a friend who esteems her.  Part of the medical report reads as follows:

“Her abstinence from solids and liquids was absolute during all that time.  We testify also that she retained her weight, and her temperature, breathing, blood pressure, pulse and blood were normal while her mental faculties were constant and lucid and she had not, during these forty days, any natural necessities…The laws of physiology and biochemistry cannot account for the survival of this sick woman…”

While medical science could not explain, the explanation was simple.  Jesus had said to Alexandrina,

“You are living by the Eucharist alone because I want to prove to the world the power of the Eucharist and the power of my life in souls.”

She died on 13th October 1955, having received nourishment only from Holy Communion for more than thirteen years.  Some of the pilgrimages to Fatima visit her town Balasar and you can visit her house, see her room and visit the local Church where she is buried to the left of the altar.

Monday, October 9, 2017

The Rosary: Our Weapon Against the Approaching Evils

The following comes from the Catholic Gentleman:


We live in evil times. I hardly need elaborate the multitude of crises that fill the globe. Sadly, many are being swept away by this flood of evil and are succumbing to an overwhelming anxiety and discouragement. But no matter how tempting it is, we must not shrink back. We must pray and fast with a living faith and a firm confidence—and there is no better way to do this than by praying the Holy Rosary.
Through this prayer of immense power, countless miracles have been obtained and victories won. In fact, we celebrate the feast of the rosary on this day, because through it, a powerful military victory was obtained at the battle of Lepanto.
In these dark days, we must not be afraid. Like our forebears in faith, we must one again turn again to the rosary, calling on the Immaculate Virgin to come to our assistance and put our enemies to flight.
Here are 15 quotes from popes and saints to encourage you in praying this powerful prayer.
1. “The Rosary is the ‘weapon’ for these times.” -Saint Padre Pio
2. “Give me an army saying the Rosary and I will conquer the world.” – Blessed Pope Pius IX
3. “The greatest method of praying is to pray the Rosary.” – Saint Francis de Sales
4. “Some people are so foolish that they think they can go through life without the help of the Blessed Mother. Love the Madonna and pray the rosary, for her Rosary is the weapon against the evils of the world today. All graces given by God pass through the Blessed Mother.” -St. Padre Pio
5. “Go to the Madonna. Love her! Always say the Rosary. Say it well. Say it as often as you can! Be souls of prayer. Never tire of praying, it is what is essential. Prayer shakes the Heart of God, it obtains necessary graces!” -St. Padre Pio
6. “The holy Rosary is a powerful weapon. Use it with confidence and you’ll be amazed at the results.” -St. Josemaria Escriva
7. “Say the Holy Rosary. Blessed be that monotony of Hail Mary’s which purifies the monotony of your sins!” -St. Josemaria Escriva
8. “For those who use their intelligence and their study as a weapon, the Rosary is most effective. Because that apparently monotonous way of beseeching Our Lady as children do their Mother, can destroy every seed of vainglory and pride.” – St. Josemaria Escriva
9. “You always leave the Rosary for later, and you end up not saying it at all because you are sleepy. If there is no other time, say it in the street without letting anybody notice it. It will, moreover, help you to have presence of God.” – St. Josemaria Escriva
10. “The Rosary is a powerful weapon to put the demons to flight and to keep oneself from sin…If you desire peace in your hearts, in your homes, and in your country, assemble each evening to recite the Rosary. Let not even one day pass without saying it, no matter how burdened you may be with many cares and labors.” – Pope Pius XI
11. “The rosary is the book of the blind, where souls see and there enact the greatest drama of love the world has ever known; it is the book of the simple, which initiates them into mysteries and knowledge more satisfying than the education of other men; it is the book of the aged, whose eyes close upon the shadow of this world, and open on the substance of the next. The power of the rosary is beyond description.” – Archbishop Fulton Sheen
12. ““The Rosary is the most excellent form of prayer and the most efficacious means of attaining eternal life. It is the remedy for all our evils, the root of all our blessings. There is no more excellent way of praying.” Pope Leo XIII
13. “No one can live continually in sin and continue to say the Rosary: either they will give up sin or they will give up the Rosary” – Bishop Hugh Doyle
14. “The Most Holy Virgin in these last times in which we live has given a new efficacy to the recitation of the Rosary to such an extent that there is no problem, no matter how difficult it is, whether temporal or above all spiritual, in the personal life of each one of us, of our families…that cannot be solved by the Rosary. There is no problem, I tell you, no matter how difficult it is, that we cannot resolve by the prayer of the Holy Rosary.” -Sister Lucia dos Santos of Fatima
15. “Here is an example to help you understand the efficacy of the Rosary. You remember the story of David who vanquished Goliath. What steps did the young Israelite take to overthrow the giant? He struck him in the middle of the forehead with a pebble from his sling. If we regard the Philistine as representing evil and all its powers: heresy, impurity, pride, we can consider the little stones from the sling capable of overthrowing the enemy as symbolizing the Aves of the Rosary.
“The ways of God are entirely different from our ways. To us it seems necessary to employ powerful means in order to produce great effects. This is not God’s method; quite the contrary. He likes to choose the weakest instruments that He may confound the strong: “God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong — Infirma mundi elegit ut confundat fortia” (1 Cor 1:27).
“Have you not often met poor old women who are most faithful to the pious recitation of the Rosary? You also must do all that you can to recite it with fervour. Get right down, at the feet of Jesus: it is a good thing to make oneself small in the presence of so great a God.” – Dom Columba Marmion, Christ, the Ideal of the Priest
If you practice no other devotion in the spiritual life, pray the rosary. Through it, you will obtain all that you need and will vanquish the enemies of your soul. Through it, you will find peace and joy in the trials of life. Conquer the devil—pray the rosary.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Our Lady of the Rosary: Freedom and Joy

The following comes from the Catholic Exchange:
The almost imperceptible lapping of the tide against the hull of the flagship, the stillness of the night, the breathing of the slaves slumped over their oars, and the spirited but hushed murmurs of the small assembly betrayed the fury of the battle that was just hours away. Tension and quiet. The young captain general, Don John of Austria, had mustered his admirals to his stateroom to review once more the order of battle. To the man each one had greater seafaring and war-fighting experience than he.
Among them was Spain’s greatest sea captain, Don Alvaro de Bazan, the Marquis of Santa Cruz. Also Venice’s greatest—Sebastian Veniero. At 74, Veniero had three times the years on his back as Don John of Austria.
Also among Don John’s admirals was a Genovese naval commander with an impeccable pedigree. Gianandrea Doria was the nephew of none other than Andrea Doria, who a generation before had served Emperor Charles V as imperial admiral. The elder Doria’s prowess under fire, to say nothing of his guile in politics, had made him one of the most powerful men in Italy. His nephew, heir to the Doria legacy, was, alas, more ship owner than sailor.
Gianandrea opened his palm, raised his eyebrow, and offered, “There is still time, your Grace, to avoid a pitched battle.” In the breast of the natural son of Charles V, however, beat the heart of a lion. He caught and held Doria’s gaze for a moment before looking each of his other admirals in the eye.
“Gentlemen,” said Don John in a low voice. “The time for counsel has passed. Now is the time for war.”
The outcome of the following day’s battle in the Bay of Lepanto we celebrate to this day: October 7, Feast of the Holy Rosary. The fleet of the Holy League sank or captured all but 13 of some 300 Turkish vessels, and Western Europe was saved from Islamic conquest. The sides were evenly matched and well led, but to each of his warriors Don John had issued a weapon more powerful than anything in the Turkish arsenal: a Rosary.
The men of the Holy League prepared for war by falling to their knees on the decks of their galleys and praying the Rosary. Back in Rome, and up and down the Italian peninsula, at the behest of Pius V, the churches were filled with the faithful praying their beads. In Heaven, the Blessed Mother inclined her ear toward her children and then, with her Immaculate Heart aflame brought down the full might of Heaven on the forces of darkness threatening to overshadow Christendom: “They fling great shadows foe-ward making Cross and Castle dark,” as Chesterton put it in his magnificent ballad celebrating the day.
Well known is this story, and many inspirations can we draw from it, among them is the intersection of freedom and joy.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

St. Francis of Assisi: Our Model

The following comes from Fr. George Rutler:

On October 4, we give thanks for one of the best known and least known of all saints. Least known, that is, because Francis of Assisi was not a garden gnome, or a doe-eyed hippy skipping with animals and hugging trees. Garden gnomes do not bear the Stigmata of Christ's wounds. A vegetarian? He berated a friar for wanting to abstain from meat on a feast day and said that on Christmas he would “smear the wall with meat.” An iconoclast? He was meticulous in the ceremonials of the Mass, insisting that every sacred vessel and vestment be the best, and his Rule dismissed any friar who parted from the Pope on the slightest article of Faith. A pacifist? He joined the Fifth Crusade, simmering ever since eleven thousand Muslims had invaded Rome and desecrated the tombs of Peter and Paul in the year 846. Francis went to North Africa in 1219 to convert the Muslims and confronted Sultan al Malik al-Kamil, who had just slaughtered five thousand Christians at Damietta. Francis fearlessly told the Sultan: “It is just that Christians invade the land you inhabit, for you blaspheme the name of Christ and alienate everyone you can from His worship.” While counselors called for the beheading of Francis according to Muslim law, the Sultan was so taken with the humility of Francis that he only had him beaten, chained and imprisoned, and then he released him.

We are engaged in similar challenges today.  Of course, we are aware of the crisis in the Middle East, but the strife is worldwide. Consider Nigeria, whose Catholic population in the last century has soared to nearly twenty million. Last week, under Muslim pressure, the government stopped the Eternal Word Television Network from broadcasting. I have worked with this worldwide Catholic network for twenty-five years and have many Nigerian friends. Two days after the Nigerian bishops objected to this censorship, a Catholic church was destroyed by Muslims, who killed and wounded many worshipers. This seems to be under the radar of our own government and the mainstream media.

May Saint Francis be our model in how to deal with the threats of our own day: not enfeebled by sentimentality and relativism, but armed with a Franciscan zeal for the conversion of souls. We may not have Francis’ charm, but we have in our hearts and churches the same God. By the way, the popular “Prayer of Saint Francis,” which begins, “Make me a channel of your peace,” was actually the work of an anonymous author who published it in France in 1912. Its vague theology and lack of mention of Christ, express a semi-Pelagian heresy unworthy of the Saint of Assisi. Let the last words of the real Saint of Assisi be our guide: “I have done what was mine to do; may Christ teach you what you are to do. Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the men of old; seek what they sought.”     

Mother Teresa on Loneliness and Love

"There is a terrible hunger for love. We all experience that in our lives, the pain and the loneliness. We must have the courage to recognize it. The poor may be right in your family. Find them and love them!" 

Blessed Mother Teresa

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

10 Positive Things That Happen When We Pray

The following comes from Gary Zimak:


Why should I bother to pray?
If you’re like me, you’ve probably asked yourself this question at least once in your life. Whether it’s motivated by the fact that “God already knows what I need” or by “God doesn’t answer my prayers”, the fact of the matter is that the question does get raised by all of us. Even worse, we sometimes take it a step further and stop praying. In an attempt to highlight the importance of prayer and combat the desire to give it up, here are 10 positive things that happen EVERY time we pray from the heart:
1. We Receive – Without exception, sincere prayer is always effective. Although we don’t always receive what we want, we always get “something”. According to Jesus, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Mt 7:7-8) As we read further, however, He assures us that we’ll only receive good things and will never get something that will hurt us (spiritually). Sometimes this frustrates us because we’re often confused about what we TRULY need. If we look at this from a “glass half full” point of view, even when God says “no” to our requests, we are receiving protection from something that could potentially hurt our chance at salvation!
2. We Follow God’s Will – In the Bible (the inspired word of God), St. Paul writes that we should “pray constantly” (1 Thessalonians 5:17) and goes on to say that this is God’s will for us. When we pray, we’re doing exactly what God wants us to do at that moment in time. How often can we say that with certainty about our other activities?
3. We Profess Our Faith – When we pray, we acknowledge our belief in God. While it sounds like a “no brainer”, it really is a significant profession of faith. We’d be foolish to pray to Him if we didn’t believe that He exists or that He can help us. Each time we turn to the Lord in prayer, we’re saying “Lord, I believe in You”.
4. We Imitate Christ – The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us that Jesus prayed often, especially before the decisive moments of His mission (CCC 2599 – 2606). Whenever we pray, we imitate Our Lord. Whenever we’re tempted to think that “prayer doesn’t do any good”, thinking about Jesus at prayer should put an end to that baseless line of thinking.
“If He who is without sin prayed, how much more ought sinners to pray?” (St. Cyprian of Carthage)
5. We Enter Into A Relationship With God – In her autobiography, St. Teresa of Avila stated that prayer is “being on terms of friendship with God, frequently conversing with Him who, as we know, loves us.” According to the Catechism,“prayer is the living relationship of the children of God with their Father who is good beyond measure, with His Son Jesus Christ and with the Holy Spirit.” (CCC 2565)
6. We Increase Our Chances For Salvation - To put it simply, prayer will help you get to Heaven. Far from just “asking for things”, prayer is an expression of love and a relationship with God. When we pray, we show our love for God and express a desire to do His will. How important is that? Here’s what St. Alphonsus Liguori had to say…
“Those who pray are certainly saved; those who do not pray are certainly damned” (St. Alphonsus Liguori)
7. We Obtain What God Wants To Give Us – While there are some gifts that God will give us even if we don’t ask (the grace that moves us to grow closer to Him, for example), there are other gifts that won’t be granted unless we ask. Jesus attests to this with the words of the Lord’s Prayer (which contains several petitions) and with His teaching that the Father will “give good things to those who ask Him.” (Mt 7:11) Further evidence can be seen in St. Paul’s letter to the Philippians when he urges us to let our requests be made known to God (Phil 4:6). By not asking, we deprive ourselves of many good things that God wants us to have.
“God wills that our desire should be exercised in prayer, that we may be able to receive what He is prepared to give.” (St. Augustine)
8. We Practice Humility – The Bible is filled with verses supporting the virtue of humility:
“For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 14:11)

So humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time. (1 Peter 5:6)

Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will exalt you. (James 4:10)

Every time we pray, we acknowledge that we are dependent on God and that He is almighty. This holds true whether our prayer is one of praise, petition or thanksgiving. It’s difficult to be proud when you’re kneeling in prayer ;-)
9. We Obtain Peace – Praying will bring us peace. According to the Bible:
Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)
Prayer = Peace. This is VERY appealing to those of us who are prone to anxiety!
10. We Use Our Time Wisely – Unlike useless activities such as worrying and complaining, prayer is a very good use of our time. Since studies have shown that the brain can’t think about two things simultaneously, time focused on prayer means time not spent worrying or pursuing other destructive tasks. Jesus told us to “ask and we shall receive” (Mt 7:7) and that worrying does no good (Lk 12:25). It makes sense to listen to His advice!
Obviously, the prayer that I’m speaking of above is sincere, “from the heart” dialog with God. “Going though the motions” or babbling rote phrases will not produce the above results. When we truly mean the words we pray, however, we can count on every one of these benefits. Remember this the next time you’re tempted to put off praying, thinking that it will do no good. There is no more productive activity we can do on this earth!

Sunday, October 1, 2017

A Prayer for Priests by St. Therese

O Jesus, Eternal Priest, keep your priests within the shelter of your Most Sacred Heart, where none can touch them.  Keep unstained their anointed hands, which daily touch your Sacred Body.  Keep unsullied their lips daily tinged with your Precious Blood.  Keep pure and unworldly their hearts, sealed with the sublime mark of the priesthood.  Let your Holy Love surround and protect them from the world’s contagion.  Bless their labors with abundant fruit, and may the souls to whom they minister be their joy and consolation here, and their everlasting crown in the hereafter.  Amen.

-St. Therese of the Child Jesus



Saturday, September 23, 2017

An Encounter of Saints: Padre Pio and Karol Wojtyla

The following comes from The Path Less Taken:

From a fascinating article by Frank M. Rega. 
Shortly after World War II was over, a young Polish priest who was studying in Rome, Fr. Karol Wojtyla, visited Padre Pio in San Giovanni Rotondo. This encounter took place around 1947 or 1948. At that time in post-war Italy, it was possible to have access to Padre Pio, since travel was difficult and great crowds were not besieging the Friary. The young priest spent almost a week in San Giovanni Rotondo during his visit, and was able to attend Padre Pio’s Mass and make his confession to the saint. Apparently, this was not just a casual encounter, and the two spoke together at length during Fr. Wojtyla’s stay. Their conversations gave rise to rumors in later years, after the Polish prelate had been elevated to the Papacy, that Padre Pio had told him he would become Pope. The story persists to the present day, even though on two or three occasions "Papa Wojtyla" denied it.
     Recently, new information about this visit has come to light, according to a new book in Italian published by Padre Pio's Friary, Il Papa e Il Frate, written by Stefano Campanella (1).  As reported in this book, the future Pope and future Saint had a very interesting conversation.  During this exchange, Fr. Wojtyla asked Padre Pio which of his wounds caused the greatest suffering. From this kind of personal question, we can see that they must have already talked together for some time and had become at ease with each other. The priest expected Padre Pio to say it was his chest wound, but instead the Padre replied, "It is my shoulder wound, which no one knows about and has never been cured or treated." This is extremely significant, not only because it reveals that Padre Pio bore this wound, but because, as far as is known, the future pope is the only one to whom Padre Pio ever revealed existence of this secret wound.
     Centuries earlier, Our Lord himself had revealed to St. Bernard of Clairvaux in a vision, that his shoulder wound from carrying the heavy wooden cross caused him his greatest suffering, and that the cross tore into his flesh right up to the shoulder bone.