Tuesday, August 31, 2010

For You O Lord...

It was mid-summer when a 40-something-year old man came to the rectory to obtain Masses from the Announced Mass Intention Book. He pops in a couple of times a year for this or that and it had been awhile since last I saw him. The Masses were for the Holy Souls In Purgatory, not a customary request (unfortunately). We got to chatting and he shared that he'd been out of work because of an injury and that he had some personal concerns on his heart. I tried to console him as best I could and then the subject changed to devotions and favorite prayers. Remarkable how the Holy Spirit leads us to certain subjects. I shared with him my devotion to the daily rosary and to the chaplet of the Divine Mercy. He remarked that he had to get back to saying those devotions...old favorites that had been forgotten of late.
Then he said, "Do you know what I say every night just before I fall asleep?"
"What?" I asked.
And he replied, "Lord, allow me to adore You even in my sleep."
Such a simple prayer, yet so profound. It truly touched a spiritual cord deep within me.
With all the...I want, I need, could You? petitions this was something just for God. Yes, I make an effort to thank Him for everything, to praise Him and tell Him what He means to me. But this simple prayer..a request that even when I'm unable to be conscious of Him, that I be conscious of Him.
Adore....what a beautiful word. Come Let Us Adore Him brings to mind a picture of kings, shepherds and animals gathered around the manger paying tribute to the Infant Jesus.
The word has a few definitions in the American Heritage Dictionary, "to love deeply" is a common meaning and a term I often use loosely. I adore shoes (I confess! maybe because no matter how much weight I gain, my shoes always fit and look pretty on far-from-perfect feet) I adore chocolate.
But another meaning is much more to the spiritual point, "to worship with divine honors" Wow! And who is the only one that deserves that? Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Divine honor...it's so...so majestic. It's so fitting for the King of Kings. Honor and Glory to our King. I should be His adoring subject. He deserves no less than that....He deserves much more than that....He deserves my adoration even in my sleep.
And the word, allow. To be given permission, His permission. That God would think I'm worthy to even ask Him to let me do something for Him. I need Him, not the other way around. The thought that I might get His permission to adore Him, humbles me.
I can't think of anything more soothing as I put to rest the cares and concerns of the day than knowing that even in my sleep there is a link, a connection between me and my God. That at every opportunity I have a chance to let Him know how much I honor Him, to sit at His feet and gaze up at Him, to adore Him even in my sleep. And I want to. And I will.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Satan Has Many Disguises

This is an excellent post written by Msgr. Charles Pope of the Archdiocese of Washington. The link to the blog is at the end of his article.

It would be easy if Satan came as he is often portrayed, with horns and a pitchfork. We would naturally flee this ugliness.
Alas, he often comes cloaked in beauty, in sheep’s clothing. He claims to offer us freedom and autonomy from an unreasonable God and Church, liberation from rules and being “told what to do.” He cloaks himself in the false righteousness of being “tolerant” and “not judging others.” He exalts us by telling us we have finally come of age and can disregard the “hang-ups” and “repression” our ancestors had of sex and pleasure. He flatters us by extolling our scientific knowledge and inflates us by equating it with wisdom and moral superiority over our “primitive” fore-bearers. He reassures us by insisting we are merely the victims here, victims of biological urges, bad parenting, economic injustice, that we are not depraved, just deprived. He humors us by making us laugh at sin, making light of it in comedian’s routines, sitcoms, music and otherwise turning sin into a form of entertainment. He anesthetizes the pain of guilt and sin by sending us teachers who tickle our ears and assure us that what we know deep down to be wrong is actually fine, even virtuous. He affirms us by insisting that whenever shortcomings in us have been called to our attention it is simply unfair since other people are surely worse, that self esteem is something owed to us and others who lessen it are unkind. He sings us the lullaby of presumption assuring us that consequences and judgment will not be our lot and with this lullaby we drift off into a moral sleep of indifference and false confidence.
But in the end, there is a wolf under the sheepskin. Satan is ugly. He enslaves, condemns, ridicules and ensnares. His “reassurances” bring pain and grief as the awful effects of sin unwind: hatred, fear, resentments, revenge, suffering, disease, addiction, bondage, strife, divorce, estrangement, war, insurrection, disloyalty, scorn, bitterness, depression, anxiety, depletion, poverty, loss and deep, deep sorrow.
Beware, Satan has many disguises and he seldom presents as he really is. The movie The Passion of the Christ brilliantly presented Satan in the Garden. At first there was almost a strange beauty. But a closer look revealed increasingly hideous details: cold, fixed eyes, sharp and discolored nails, sickly pale skin, suddenly androgynous qualities, and a disgusting maggot crawling in and out of the nose. An audible moan came from the audience in the theatre where I first saw it. Would that, beyond the movie, we could sense this revulsion and clarity as to the evil of Satan and his truest reality.


Sunday, August 29, 2010

Analysis of Catholicism

**  **This article was sent to me as an email from a friend, Adele. I try and verify my emails through snopes.com.  I could not find anything on this. So, please, take from it what you may.
On a personal note: I have been involved with the Catholic Church all my life (58 yrs). We had priests spend holidays with us when growing up in the Bronx. As an adult, I have had Spiritual Directors (priests) and involved in numerous Catholic programs...I currently work for the Church (13 years)...I have NEVER experienced one moment of impropriety or have been made to feel uncomfortable..this goes for my son, husband, brother, sisters, parents and so on. I say this because I have friends who believe that all (or most) priests are evil, waiting to pounce on any innocent victim..man, woman and child. This is so NOT true. Yes, we have made our fair share of mistakes, but our Church is trying very very hard to right the wrongs that have been done. It is much more strict about selecting priests into the priesthood, weeding out the "bad" guys and punishing those who have committed a crime. God forgive and have mercy on those who have committed evil and God protect, heal and give justice to true victims.
I know first-hand that many wonderful and innocent priests have been falsely accused of wrong-doing in every form. Many of the "victims" point a finger at priests for financial gains, for sensationalism, and just plain evil. A priest once stated that the evil one will try to take the Church down through the elect, and the evil one is working overtime.
There are more pedophiles and those behaving inappropriately in our educational system than in any other institution...but we don't stop sending our kids to school, do we? Yes, I know it's not a religious institution, but isn't it, too, supposed to be a safe haven for our children?
I ask everyone to pray for our priests...to pray for our Church, and for a change...give it a break, already...we are human after-all! No institution is perfect...and even the family tree of Jesus had its "bad-guys", but that didn't stop Abba Father from creating a Diamond. The Catholic Church continually says, "Mea Culpa" publicly, but that will never be enough for many, esp. the Catholic bashers. I have found that many are looking for an excuse not to attend church, and through the scandals they have found it. As for me, "Long Live the Catholic Church" and it's beautiful dogmas, doctrines and Traditions....God Bless her people, religious or laity and as it is written....nothing will prevail against Her. ** **

Excerpts of an article written by non-Catholic Sam Miller - a prominent Cleveland Jewish businessman:

"Why would newspapers carry on a vendetta on one of the most important institutions that we have today in the United States , namely the Catholic Church?

Do you know - the Catholic Church educates 2.6 million students everyday at the cost to that Church of 10 billion dollars, and a savings on the other hand to the American taxpayer of 18 billion dollars.

The graduates go on to graduate studies at the rate of 92%.

The Church has 230 colleges and universities in the U.S. with an enrollment of 700,000 students.

The Catholic Church has a non-profit hospital system of 637 hospitals, which account for hospital treatment of 1 out of every 5 people -
not just Catholics - in the United States today.

But the press is vindictive and trying to totally denigrate in every way the Catholic Church in this country. They have blamed the disease of pedophilia on the Catholic Church, which is as irresponsible as blaming adultery on the institution of marriage!

Let me give you some figures that Catholics should know and remember. For example, 12% of the 300 Protestant clergy surveyed admitted to sexual intercourse with a parishioner; 38% acknowledged other inappropriate sexual contact in a study by the United Methodist Church, 41.8% of clergy women reported unwanted sexual behavior; 17% of lay-women have been sexually harassed.

Meanwhile, 1.7% of the Catholic clergy has been found guilty of pedophilia, 10% of the Protestant ministers have been found guilty of pedophilia.

This is not a Catholic Problem. It is a culture problem.

A study of American priests showed that most are happy in the priesthood and find it even better than they had expected, and that most, if given the choice, would choose to be priests again in face of all this obnoxious PR the church has been receiving.

The Catholic Church is bleeding from self-inflicted wounds. The agony that Catholics have felt and suffered is not necessarily the fault of the Church.

Millions have been hurt by a small number of wayward priests who have probably been totally weeded out by now.

Walk with your shoulders high and your head higher.

Be a proud member of the most important non-governmental agency in the United States ..

Then remember what Jeremiah said: 'Stand by the roads, and look and ask for the ancient paths,
where the good way is ... and walk in it, and find rest for your souls'..

Be proud to speak up for your faith with pride and reverence and learn what your Church does for all other religions.

Be proud that you're a Catholic."

Saturday, August 28, 2010

How About Me?

This comes from the Pastor's Desk of Fr. Floyd Rotunno of The Immaculate Heart Of Mary Church, Mahwah, NJ...bulletin 29 August 2010

There is a popular song that tells the story of a boy and his girlfriend. All the girlfriend talks about is herself. She talks about her hair, the latest style of clothes she is wearing, her manicure appointments, her figure, her diet, her shoes and "on and on" about herself.
He reaches the point where he has had enough and shouts, "How About Me!" He has reached the breaking point and say, "It's all about YOU, it's all about YOU, YOU, YOU, When is it going to be all about ME?"
Is it fair to say this relationship was going nowhere except into the dead end zone? A lot of us Catholics are this way in the way we practice our faith and in our prayer life. We ask, ask, ask. We complain, complain, complain. We treat God, in all His splendor, Father, Son and Holy Spirt, like one of those candy machines we see in the stores. We put our quarter in and expect our candy in return. Yes, we treat God as impersonal as that! No wonder many such relationships also wind up in the dead end zone.
Jesus invites us to a relationship with Him, the Father, and the Holy Spirit when He says, "Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest," (Mt 11:28) In this relationship He tells us what He will do for us. It is a caring relationship based on one who is "meek and humble of heart." He expects the same in return. This is the basis for a long and blessed life together.

Amen, Fr. Floyd!

Saint of the Day: St Augustine

I have special interest in St. Augustine. 12 years ago I was professed as a Secular Augustinian Recollect...a lay ministry that follows the "rule" of  St. Augustine. The Monastery that I attend is the Tagaste Monastery in Suffern, NY. The grounds are beautiful in a country setting, so serene. The Good Samaritan Hospital is across the street and the priests visit the patients there and celebrate Mass in the hospital chapel.

  A Brief History of St. Augustine

A Christian at 33, a priest at 36, a bishop at 41: many people are familiar with the biographical sketch of Augustine of Hippo, sinner turned saint. But really to get to know the man is a rewarding experience.

There quickly surfaces the intensity with which he lived his life, whether his path led away from or toward God. The tears of his mother, the instructions of Ambrose and, most of all, God himself speaking to him in the Scriptures redirected Augustine’s love of life to a life of love.

Having been so deeply immersed in creature-pride of life in his early days and having drunk deeply of its bitter dregs, it is not surprising that Augustine should have turned, with a holy fierceness, against the many demon-thrusts rampant in his day. His times were truly decadent—politically, socially, morally. He was both feared and loved, like the Master. The perennial criticism leveled against him: a fundamental rigorism.

In his day, he providentially fulfilled the office of prophet. Like Jeremiah and other greats, he was hard-pressed but could not keep quiet. “I say to myself, I will not mention him,/I will speak in his name no more./But then it becomes like fire burning in my heart,/imprisoned in my bones;/I grow weary holding it in,/I cannot endure it” (Jeremiah 20:9).

Our Charism: The "chante love" of contemplation, the "ordered love" of community life, and the "diffusive love" of the apostolate are the essential elements of the Augustinian Recollect Charism.

Contemplation: in St. Augustine, is communitarian and apostolic. By dint of being ordered toward God, the human being is essentially contemplative. By means of a process of interiorization and transcendence, man's and will encounter God, who is the highest Truth and the greatest Good. The Augustinian person feels totally dependent upon God in his or her origin, and ordered toward him is destiny. He is from God and for God. He loves God disinterestedly and without measure. The is the amor castus of Augustinian contemplation.
Community: a second love plays its essential part in the communitarian aspect of the charism. It is the "ordered love" through which we "use" material things, and "rejoice" in God and in rational creatures. The vow of poverty is the communitarian vow par excellence.

Apostolate: the "chaste love" of contemplation, besides being a force for union, also is a force for diffusion, and is thus apostolic. The Augustinian person commits himself to service of all. He is available to dent to the needs of the Church.

Augustine is still acclaimed and condemned in our day. He is a prophet for today, trumpeting the need to scrap escapisms and stand face-to-face with personal responsibility and dignity.

“Too late have I loved you, O Beauty of ancient days, yet ever new! Too late I loved you! And behold, you were within, and I abroad, and there I searched for you; I was deformed, plunging amid those fair forms, which you had made. You were with me, but I was not with you. Things held me far from you—things which, if they were not in you, were not at all. You called, and shouted, and burst my deafness. You flashed and shone, and scattered my blindness. You breathed odors and I drew in breath—and I pant for you. I tasted, and I hunger and thirst. You touched me, and I burned for your peace” (St. Augustine, Confessions).

Friday, August 27, 2010

Saint of the Day: The Feast of St. Monica: August 27th

The circumstances of St. Monica’s life could have made her a nagging wife, a bitter daughter-in-law and a despairing parent, yet she did not give way to any of these temptations. Although she was a Christian, her parents gave her in marriage to a pagan, Patricius, who lived in her hometown of Tagaste in North Africa. Patricius had some redeeming features, but he had a violent temper and was licentious. Monica also had to bear with a cantankerous mother-in-law who lived in her home. Patricius criticized his wife because of her charity and piety, but always respected her. Monica’s prayers and example finally won her husband and mother-in-law to Christianity. Her husband died in 371, one year after his baptism.

Monica had at least three children who survived infancy. The oldest, Augustine, is the most famous. At the time of his father’s death, Augustine was 17 and a rhetoric student in Carthage. Monica was distressed to learn that her son had accepted the Manichean heresy and was living an immoral life. For a while, she refused to let him eat or sleep in her house. Then one night she had a vision that assured her Augustine would return to the faith. From that time on she stayed close to her son, praying and fasting for him. In fact, she often stayed much closer than Augustine wanted.

When he was 29, Augustine decided to go to Rome to teach rhetoric. Monica was determined to go along. One night he told his mother that he was going to the dock to say goodbye to a friend. Instead, he set sail for Rome. Monica was heartbroken when she learned of Augustine’s trick, but she still followed him. She arrived in Rome only to find that he had left for Milan. Although travel was difficult, Monica pursued him to Milan.

In Milan, Augustine came under the influence of the bishop, St. Ambrose, who also became Monica’s spiritual director. She accepted his advice in everything and had the humility to give up some practices that had become second nature to her (see Quote, below). Monica became a leader of the devout women in Milan as she had been in Tagaste.

She continued her prayers for Augustine during his years of instruction. At Easter, 387, St. Ambrose baptized Augustine and several of his friends. Soon after, his party left for Africa. Although no one else was aware of it, Monica knew her life was near the end. She told Augustine, “Son, nothing in this world now affords me delight. I do not know what there is now left for me to do or why I am still here, all my hopes in this world being now fulfilled.” She became ill shortly after and suffered severely for nine days before her death.

This piece is taken from American Catholic.org http://www.americancatholic.org/

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Under Mary's Mantle

There are so many beautiful images of Our Lady. Who couldn't love Our Lady of Grace so sweet and gentle, or want to fall into the arms of Our Lady of Consolation, one's heart goes out to the weeping Our Lady of La Salette, and you can almost smell the fragrant roses of Our Lady of Guadalupe. All so different, yet so much the same...a mother-loving, kind, caring and crazy about her Son. She always points the way to Jesus, something only Catholics seem to grasp about her.
I have a special devotion to Our Lady of Fatima. Besides, the wonderful story that surrounds this image, I had the opportunity to have her visiting statue in my home some 15 years ago. It was a beautiful experience, a prayer-filled evening, and the beginning of my friendship with the Mother of God. I think being the mother of an only child, a son, connects my heart with Our Lady's. When I think of how she must have felt during His final days, my heart breaks. I can only imagine how she protected her boy from the taunts of "bastard" whispered about Him. She must have wanted to shake those who misunderstood, criticized and ridiculed her perfect child. I certainly would have...Mary never would have. Perhaps, this is why many of her titles begin with, Lady.
As my son, Jared, grew, I shared my affection for the Blessed Mother of Fatima with him, always speaking of her great power of intercession. I think because I loved her, and he loved me...he loved her. I often reminded Jared that he should chat with her if he had a concern and to pray to her...she was always listening just like her Son.
Seven years ago, Jared struck out on his own...leaving NY and moving in with cousins in Florida. I felt as though there was a hole in my heart when he left.  It wasn't easy for him either, adjusting to a new lifestyle, being totally on his own, finding a job. When his cousins moved to another part of the state, he considered coming home, but didn't. He needed to see this through, he said. So in time, he got a job as a front desk clerk in a hotel, then became a front office manager, met Kelly, married, and bought a lovely home. The USA housing and job market took a hit, and Jared made his first mortgage payment...then lost his job. He was devastated. Kelly's job as a Realtor wasn't too solid either. Pray, pray, pray and hit the pavement was the advice his dad and I gave him. Don't lose faith.
Jared started attending Mass on Sundays. It gave him something to look forward to, he explained. And the months dragged on. Then one day, he and Kelly were at a mall, a mall mind you that they rarely shop at, and he bumped into a hotel manager he knew. Sean said he'd been thinking about Jared and planned to call him. Was he still out of work? If so, he needed a manager at another property...would Jared be interested? Interested! Jared nearly did a back flip. The new position was a step up from his previous one, better pay and the pick of the litter as far as properties go.
When Jared met Juliet, the then current manager, she told him she was moving to Bermuda to help with a family matter. She loved her staff, co-workers, that particular hotel, and found it hard to leave. She had been praying mightily to Our Lady of Fatima that the perfect person would come along and she'd be at ease about leaving. She took him into her office, and there was a statue of Our Lady of Fatima. Jared said he got goosebumps. He told Juliet that Our Blessed Mother had been listening to both of their prayers. They knew that Our Lady of Fatima had interceded and God was blessing them. It amazed him that God had to get him out of the first position to get him into a better position. God had never forsaken him. He had honored the fact that Jared regularly sought Him in the Eucharist and made time for prayer.
Each day, Jared asks the Blessed Mother of Fatima to put her blue mantle of protection around his hotel, its guests and staff....around his life and those in it.  We should do the same. Our Lady will intercede to the Holy Spirit asking Him to help us make good and godly decisions. Jared knows, we all should know, that the Queen of Heaven is a special lady who goes before the King of Kings--her Son Jesus Christ--and pleads for those who honor her and loves her Boy.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

John Bosco Among Us...USA & Canada Pilgrimage 2010


The Relic of St. John Bosco will visit the USA and Canada from September 11, 2010 to October 9, 2010. Mark Your Calendar!
Unlike most pilgrimages, which usually involve an individual going to a sanctuary to venerate a saint, the Pilgrimage of Don Bosco’s Relic brings the relic of Don Bosco to the people! The relic of Don Bosco will be transported to the US to grant individuals an opportunity to honor and respect St. John Bosco. Adults & children will be given the chance to pray before the casket and ask St. John Bosco to intercede for them.
It is important to respect and pray to saints for they are role models which all Christians should strive to imitate. Devotion to saints provides hope, and encourages us to ask the saints to intercede for us before God
A relic is an object of religious veneration. In Acts 19:11-12 it states: “Meanwhile, God worked extraordinary miracles at the hands of Paul. When handkerchiefs or clothes which had touched his skin were applied to the sick, their diseases were cured and evil spirits departed from them.” It is not magic, but symbolizes how God works through the saints even after they have died.
St. John Bosco founded the Salesian Society, named after St. Francis de Sales, because he wanted Salesians to follow St. Francis’ kind and gentle ways. This society’s mission is to be a friend to poor kids, abandoned kids, at risk kids and thus, be a friend of Christ. The educational philosophy is reason, religion & kindness, and basic principle of the system is deep understanding and love for young people and their problems.
For complete schedule of the Relic Pilgrimage of St. John Bosco in USA and Canada go to www.DonBoscoAmongUs.org

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Fire

I received this as an email from Fr. Tomas del Valle-Reyes of New York. I wanted to share it with all of you. What a wonderful reminder of a parent's love for her children...Abba's love for us. It made me wonder...if it is an instinct among animals to protect their young...how can it be so easy for a human to destroy her own?

An article in National Geographic several years ago provided a penetrating picture of God's wings.

After a forest fire in Yellowstone National Park, forest rangers began their trek up a mountain to assess the inferno's damage. One ranger found a bird literally petrified in ashes, perched statuesquely on the ground at the base of a tree.
Somewhat sickened by the eerie sight, he knocked over the bird with a stick. When he struck it, three tiny chicks scurried from under their dead mother's wings.
The loving mother, keenly aware of impending disaster, had carried her offspring to the base of the tree and had gathered them under her wings, instinctively knowing that the toxic smoke would rise.
She could have flown to safety but had refused to abandon her babies. When the blaze had arrived and the heat had singed her small body, the mother remained steadfast. She had been willing to die so those under the cover of her wings would live.
He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. Psalm 91:4

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Why The Crooked Halo?

Why the Crooked Halo, you might ask? Years ago, I received a Christmas card with three adorable angels on it, one had a mischievous twinkle in its eyes and wore its halo to the side, a crooked halo. That's me, I thought, wedged between two sisters whose halos were always on straight.
Tess and Judey were obedient, proper, quiet--truly angel-like....me? rampuncious, a tom boy, a rule breaker who my dad said was the reason he lost his hair!
But, let's admit it, aren't most of us...angels with a crooked halo? Saintly one day, a bit devilish the next?
God asks us to strive to be the saints we are called to be. Is this an impossible command? Think about it, what is a saint? An ordinary person who has done the extraordinary for Christ's sake. An impossible command, no. A challenging command, yes.
I fight against the current every day because of original sin. I fight against a liberal society with its immorality, materialism and distaste for all that is sacred and holy. So how do I keep my halo from completely slipping off? Only by the grace of God. No matter how I stray in thought, word or deed, I make a sincere act of contrition. I ask forgiveness with the image of the repentant tax collector in my mind, "Lord, have mercy on me a sinner." I beg God to help me not to sin, to be more tolerant, less judgmental, to give me another chance to straighten my crooked halo....and He always does!
Thank you, Abba.