Pastoral Sharings: "All Saints"

WeeklyMessageHomily from Father Alex McAllister SDS  
All Saints
Posted for November 1, 2015

When I went to India earlier in the year I visited a very interesting Church in Nagaon in the North East built by one of our priests. All around the walls there were statues of the saints. Indeed apart from it having the typical layout of a Church it resembled nothing so much as a Hindu Temple with its many Gods.

Of course, this was the idea since the Church was located in a predominantly Hindu area. The priest realized that if he was to convert any people from Hinduism he had to present them with a Church which looked somewhat familiar to them.

But, of course, his idea had other benefits since he could point to the various saints when preaching the homily and tell the people about their life stories. Neither did he neglect the Old Testament since I also saw statues of Adam, Noah, Moses, Abraham and a number of the Prophets.

Another benefit was that the people worshiping in this Church would feel very much part of the Communion of Saints since they would be worshipping God surrounded by the images of a host of wonderful saints.

We have the statues of a few saints in our Church. Outside on the façade we have carvings of Our Lady and St John either side of the Calvary accompanied by St Thomas More and St Peter.

Inside the Church we’ve got very nice statues of St Joseph, St Patrick and St Anthony of Padua as well as statues of Our Lady and the Sacred Heart. All these statues have been restored in the past year and we take this opportunity to thank those benefactors among us who have enabled this work to take place.

Throughout the Catholic Church you will find great affection for the saints among the people with many images of the saints to be found in our Churches. But this was something that the Reformers of the 16th century and the Puritans of the 17th centuries had particular difficulties with and as a result English churches suffered several severe bouts of iconoclasm, meaning the destruction of images, down through the centuries.

If you go to almost any medieval Church in England you will see empty niches which formerly housed statues of the saints. And in some places, especially those high up in the Church which couldn’t easily be reached, you will see statutes with their heads knocked off.

The accusation was of idolatry; that we Catholics worshipped images. But this is far from the truth; we see religious imagery as giving us a window through to heaven. Statues and holy pictures enable us to keep in contact with the saints and to see them as worthy followers of Christ.

The whole point of religious images is to lead us to a deeper worship of God. We don’t worship the saints or their images in themselves, what we do is to ask the saints to pray to God for us. We regard the saints as our supporters and not as objects of worship.

Also when we consider the saints we begin to feel within ourselves a great desire to be like them, to live our lives solely for God just as they did, and we find within ourselves a deep yearning to experience the glories of heaven. When we hear the stories of the saints we are inspired by their great deeds and we wish to imitate their heroic faith in God.

The task of the Church is to produce saints, to encourage each of its members to become inflamed with love for Christ and to live lives wholly dedicated to God. And the way the Church achieves this goal is principally through the sacraments.

Each Christian is invited to come ever closer to God through their celebration of the sacraments. We begin with the sacraments of initiation: Baptism and Confirmation which set us off on the right path in life and dedicates us to God’s service. Later on we are helped to achieve our vocation in life through the sacraments of Matrimony or Ordination. We are enabled to repent of our sins through the Sacrament of Reconciliation and to recover from illness or prepare for death through the Sacrament of the Sick.

But the sacrament that helps us most to achieve the stature of a saint is the Blessed Eucharist. It is through our frequent reception of the Eucharist that we are enabled to achieve closer and closer union with God. It is good to meditate frequently on the fruits of the Eucharist in order to come to a fuller appreciation of this wonderful sacrament.

Probably it is the Beatitudes which give us the clearest guide as to how to attain heaven and so join the company of the Saints. It is no mistake therefore that the Church gives us St Matthew’s account of the Beatitudes for our Gospel reading on this great feast.

The Beatitudes are like a manifesto of what it is to be a Christian. We could do no better than to take the Beatitudes as our rule of life.

It is interesting how they are phrased. Jesus does not present them as commandments or instructions or rules but rather he congratulates those who live in this way. He declares how happy or blessed are the ones who are poor in spirit or who are gentle or who mourn and so on.

By phrasing the Beatitudes in this way Jesus helps us to realize that the Christian life is truly joyous. When we hear the Beatitudes we are naturally drawn to them, we find that we want to live like this: we want to become peacemakers, or to be merciful or to hunger and thirst for what is right. We find these desires deep within ourselves and we want to make them an essential part of our lives.

Membership of the Church is the way to become a saint, belonging to the family of God and seeing ourselves as part of the Mystical Body of Christ these are the sure way to attain heaven.

The agenda of sanctity is something we should all adopt, and not just because it will carry us to heaven but also because it will make us more perfect human beings. Sainthood is not merely a spiritual reality it is also something very earthly because acquiring sainthood means that we have become fully developed human beings, more perfect citizens of this earth as well as of heaven.

The saint has all the qualities necessary to be the ideal human being. We are drawn to the saints for many reasons but one of them is certainly because they are extremely attractive people. The saint is a person who demonstrates all the qualities we regard as being those of the ideal human being, which means that they are eminently likable.  

So on this Feast of All Saints let each one of us rededicate ourselves to the life of holiness, let each one of us make it our personal ambition to become one of God’s saints. Amen.http://www.catholicwealdstone.org/wordpress/?p=2306

SaintJohnChurchMiddletown.com

Digest of Articles from Catholics Blogs and Websites
November 1, 2015

Solemnity of All Saints: Heroes

Sports are a big part of our culture here in America, as well as in many other parts of the world.   I was raised following the latest achievements of Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris.  My parents following the triumphs  of Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth.  Your children follow the success of Mike Trout and Albert Pujols.  We are all tempted to join the newspapers in making heros of these people.  But what they do on the playing field had little to do with who they are. 

…more

Feast of All Saints

Matthew 5: 1–12

Gospel Summary

For the feast of All Saints we are asked to reflect on the first, and perhaps most important, verses of Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount. These verses have come to be called the Beatitudes. Since Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount represents the moral ideals taught by Jesus, it is most appropriate to ponder their implications when we honor all the saints, that is, those who lived those ideals in an exemplary way.

The Beatitudes strike the keynote for all of the teaching that follows in the three lengthy chapters that make up the Sermon on the Mount. It is also true that the first Beatitude offers a key to the meaning of the seven remaining Beatitudes in Matthew’s account.

…more

Solemnity of All Saints, Year B—November 1, 2015

It has been said that the saints are God’s most beautiful works of art in human flesh and blood.  Our readings today tell us why that is true.

Gospel (Read Mt 5:1-12a)

On the day when the Church calls us to remember the long, continuous line of saints who have lived in every age since Christ walked the earth, our Gospel points us to the beatitudes.  This makes all the sense in the world, because there is perhaps no clearer picture of what is exquisitely beautiful in human life in all of Scripture than what we find here.

…more

Pope Francis to Youth: The Bible Can Change Your Life.

Now Read It!

In a prologue for a new youth Bible, the Holy Father shared his own personal experience of daily encountering God and Jesus Christ through the Scriptures.
VATICAN CITY — The Bible is so dangerous that some Christians risk persecution to have one. But for Pope Francis, its life-changing role in daily life is important too.

“The Bible is not meant to be placed on a shelf, but to be in your hands, to read often — every day, both on your own and together with others,” he wrote in the prologue to a Bible for youth in Germany.

…more

Why it is Great to Be Catholic

Our mothers taught us to count our blessings.

That’s not Pollyanna denial of the troubles in the world.  It’s healthy Christian faith, hope, and love.  After all, the Church herself was born in a crucible of sins and troubles when her Lord was crucified and died under a heap of shame that made Him an outcast to both Jew and pagan.  The shame only deepened in that His closest, hand-picked disciples all abandoned Him in the most cowardly way.  If there was ever a dark time in history, that day was it.

…more

Fool Me Once, Fool Me Twice: I Still Forgive You

In Christ’s relatively short ministry here on earth, He passed many teachings on to His followers. Often those whom He taught could not commit to following those teachings. His teachings were revolutionary and went against much of what the Jews had been taught all their lives.

Still, even when followers would turn away, unable to accept His instruction, Christ continued to preach God’s love, mercy, and expectations.

…more

The Joyful Mysteries of the Holy Rosary

The Holy Rosary is often mistaken for mere vain repetition, racking up points by saying as many “Hail Marys” as possible. This could not be further from the truth. The Rosary is a way of meditating on the mysteries of the life of Jesus Christ, seen through the lens and guided by the hand of His Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary.

This is the first in a series of reflections on the mysteries of the rosary, with each installment focusing on five of the 20 decades. The Joyful Mysteries cover the earliest events in the life of Our Blessed Lord, from the Incarnation through His childhood years.

…more

Why Pray?

Hope is the thing with feathers,
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all…
∼ Emily Dickinson

If hope is a virtue we cannot reach heaven without, where then is the handle we need to take hold of to get there? The answer is prayer, which is the voice of hope. It is the language we use to drive home the deepest desire of all, which is for ultimacy, for God. I like to think of it as a missile, a warhead aimed at the heart of God, propelling us straight into his kingdom.

…more

Does Scripture Teach Us to Pray for the Departed, and to Pray to the Saints?

In regards to prayer and the Saints, Catholics do two things to which Protestants tend to object:

Praying to the Saints: Asking the Saints to pray for us, etc.

Praying for the Saints: Praying for the dead, commending their souls to God. Monday, I talked about some of the common Protestant arguments against praying to the Saints: particularly about how these objections tend to be rooted in faulty views of the afterlife. But I didn’t address what’s perhaps the most common objection to both types of prayers, which is some variation of “But where do we see that in the Bible?” We saw Monday that Scripture doesn’t condemn these prayers, but neither does it commend them … right?

…more

Five Ways to Improve Your Prayer Life

How much time and energy is exerted in obtaining a degree from some prestigious University?  How much blood, sweat and tears are expended to win a trophy from some sporting event? How much time and energy can even be consumed in preparing for a surprise Birthday party?   If we can expend so much time, money, emotional and physical energy for such natural pursuits, should we not at least expend more of our time and energy in what is the greatest of all arts, “The art of all arts” and that is learning the Practice of Prayer?

…more

What is a Charism? (Part I of II)

The mere title itself begs a definition but that definition is dependent on the context in which the word is used. Most persons, if at a loss for an exact definition, would perhaps at least associate the word with charisma or charismatic. But each of these words has its own fine tuning of definition.

Charism is frequently associated with the spirituality of religious institutes and this understanding of it will be addressed at another time. Here we will define it as a gift of the Holy Spirit given in a particular way to an individual or to a group to build up the Kingdom of God for the good of the Church.

…more

The Stumbling Block of False Apparitions

I love my Catholic faith so much that the idea of knowing inside information attracted my attention.  Since the Church approved messages of Fatima and Lourdes impacted my life in a positive way it seemed that more would be better.  But false apparitions are fool’s gold—all the glitter of heaven but underneath they are not from God.

After enthusiastically following messages that eventually unraveled, I’ve come to realize that the Church ultimately provides all that I need.

…more

Why Doesn’t the Church Infallibly Interpret Every Verse of Scripture?

Protestant apologists will often pose this question to Catholics: If your Church is really infallible, why does it not just interpret every last verse of Scripture for us? It has had two thousand years to do so. If it cannot do so, what good is infallibility to me?

Most often they will raise this question in the context of a discussion of authority. The Catholic will say, “Without the infallible Magisterium as a guide, all you have is your private interpretation of Scripture. That is why there are so many countless denominations out there.”

The Protestant will counter, “Unless your Church will interpret every verse of Scripture for you, you have no more than your private interpretation, either.”

It seems to be an impasse. How does one work through it?

…more

Top Twenty St. John Paul II Quotes

October 22 is the feast of Saint John Paul II. Here are my all-time top twenty favorite quotes from Saint John Paul II:

1.  “Do not be afraid. Do not be satisfied with mediocrity. Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.”

2. “True holiness does not mean a flight from the world; rather, it lies in the effort to incarnate the Gospel in everyday life, in the family, at school and at work, and in social and political involvement.”

3.  “When the cross is embraced it becomes a sign of love and of total self-giving. To carry it behind Christ means to be united with him in offering the greatest proof of love … the choice is between a full life and an empty existence, between truth and falsehood.”
~ Pope St. John Paul II, World Youth Day, February 2001.

…more

On “Divine Knowledge”

In an “inquiry” addressed to Thalassius (a Syrian hermit), Maximus the Confessor (d. 662 A.D.) states: “He (Christ) has designated holy Church the lampstand, over which the word of God sheds light through preaching, and illuminates with the rays of truth whoever is in the house which is the world, and fills the minds of all men with divine knowledge.” We read such ancient words and ask ourselves: What is this “divine knowledge” of which Maximus speaks?

…more

The Saints and Overcoming Grief

You will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice;
you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy….
I will see you again and your hearts will rejoice,
and no one will take your joy from you.

John 16:20, 22

A talented painter once gave an unforgettable performance in front of an admiring audience. With rapid strokes of his brush, he quickly and skillfully painted a beautiful country scene, replete with green meadows, golden fields of grain, farm buildings in the distance, peaceful trees, and a friendly blue sky punctuated with soft, white clouds. As he stepped back from his easel, the audience burst into appreciative applause — only to be silenced by the art­ist, who announced, “The picture is not complete.”

…more

Purgatory 101

If terms like hell, sin, and judgment have become unpopular in our culture, the idea of purgatory is positively radioactive.

Many people have a hard time grasping how an all-good God could allow people to spend eternity in damnation. It may be even harder to understand how people who are saved from such damnation end up suffering punishment anyways on their way to heaven—which is not an all-together unfair characterization of what purgatory is.

As confounding as it may at first seem, the doctrine of purgatory is actually simple at its core and also has a solid foundation in the Bible. Here are the essentials of what the Church has taught on purgatory.

…more

Seventh Spiritual Work of Mercy: Praying for the Living and Dead

The final spiritual work of mercy is surprisingly simple and accessible to all: “pray for the living and the dead.” However, at the same time it is very easy to forget in a culture where we are taught to be independent and divorced from our past.

First of all, while “praying for the living” is a practice accepted by almost all Christians, the modern world is constantly telling us to feed our own appetites before even thinking about other people. Unknowingly, we revert to a “me” centered prayer life. We ask, and ask, and ask, and ask and get annoyed with God when He does not give us what we want.
…more

A Woman Gave a Great Dinner to Which She Invited Many

Kari Duane inherently understands the parable of the wedding banquet.

And I think we all can learn something from her.

Kari Duane is the 53-year-old mother of Quinn Duane. Quinn was engaged to a young man named Landon Burop, and they had planned to be married October 17 in a lavish California wedding.

Just days before the wedding Landon got cold feet and called off the wedding.

…more

Help Me Understand Attacks of the Devil (Part II of II)

Editor’s Note:  In part I, we looked at the first strategy of the devil in the spiritual struggle: corrupting the heart.  Today, we will examine the second and third strategies: turning aside the will and getting us to give up.  Here is the question we are considering:

Dear Father John,  I seem to be constantly tempted to, or away from, one thing or another.  I would like to arm myself as much as possible against this spiritual darkness.  Would you help me understand attacks of the devil?

…more

Burying the Dead as an Affirmation of Life

The growing tendency to resort to cremation is eroding the longstanding Christian tradition of burying the dead. One who considers both the sources of this tradition and Church teaching finds good reason for the Church’s belief that burial is strongly recommended over cremation. Regardless of what the supposed benefits of cremation may be, we would do well to consider both relevant Church teaching on the matter and possible unintended effects of the trend toward cremation. In truth, a reverent burial of the dead is consonant with, and supportive of, a pro-life worldview.

…more

Fearing the Silence

Why do we fear coming to God? Why does turning to God come only once we have no where else to turn in our trials?

Rather than God being first, we turn instead to friends, family, spouses, culture, society, and only when other sources are exhausted do we turn to Christ in prayer. Obviously, these all could very well be God-given avenues of advice and comfort, but He wants us to bring all things to Him, especially in the moments we are most afraid to come to Him.

…more

When Death Knocked on Her Husband’s Door

Beth stared out the hospital blinds as the sunrise crept through. The beauty of it did not register with her as her thoughts raced, wondering how her husband was doing, and how long it would be until things were back to normal. Finally, the doctor came in. “Please step out into the hallway with me,” he said.

At last we’ll get some answers and figure out what we need to do to get through this, Beth thought. She stepped out and the nurse that was with her followed. The doctor’s thick Kenyan accent made him difficult to understand. Without emotion, as if it were a trivial matter, the doctor said, “You’re husband has six months to live.”
…more

SaintJohnChurchMiddletown.com

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Pastoral Sharings: "Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time"

WeeklyMessageHomily from Father Alex McAllister SDS
30th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Posted for October 25, 2015

The story of the curing of Blind Bartimaeus in today’s Gospel is so vividly drawn by St Mark in his Gospel that we can see the scene unfolding before our very eyes. We can quite easily bring up an image in our mind of this blind man sitting on his cloak at the side of the road begging for alms. In our mind’s eye we can also see him spring up to call out to Jesus using the messianic title ‘Son of David.’ 

We can also imagine the crowd scolding the blind man and telling him to keep quiet. Actually this little point is interesting and demonstrates how fickle a crowd can be. Often we see in the Gospels how the crowd wanted to see miracles particularly of healing and how they would usually push sick people forward to Jesus for healing. 

But on this occasion for some reason they hold the blind man back, not seeming to want him to be healed. Maybe there were just so many blind people around that they took his blindness for granted and didn’t think he needed healing. 

Normally in the Gospels we don’t hear the names of those who were healed by Jesus but here Mark makes quite sure to tell us that it was Bartimaeus. This could be because Bartimaeus was already a well-known figure, which is a bit unlikely, or more probably because he later became an important figure in the Early Church and would therefore be known to Mark’s readers.  

What we are dealing with here is a story of discipleship and if Bartimaeus truly became a disciple then he certainly would have been an important figure in the newly formed Church being someone who was actually cured by Jesus.

Interestingly although we are talking about discipleship nowhere does Jesus actually say to Bartimaeus the words, ‘Follow me’. Nevertheless Bartimaeus spontaneously follows Jesus along the road. It is as if the healing itself was an explicit call to discipleship. 

Another little detail in the story comes in the words, ‘throwing off his cloak.’ It was very common for a beggar to wear a large cloak and while they might be actually wearing the cloak most of it would have been spread around them so that they could catch in it the coins dropped to them by passers-by. 

But here in this story Bartimaeus throws off the cloak as a sign that he has given up his former role as a beggar, even perhaps leaving a few coins on the ground. 

The vocabulary in this text is also interesting. It is very strong. Bartimaeus ‘shouts’, he is ‘scolded’, then he ‘throws off’ his cloak and he ‘jumps’ up. And his sight returns ‘immediately’ and he ‘straight away’ takes after Jesus along the road. 

There is no ambiguity here. Bartimaeus doesn’t get up; no, he jumps up. It is as if he was waiting all his life for this moment and the people trying to hold him back prove to be no obstacle to him. 

The words are strong, the actions are positive and there is absolutely no ambiguity about what is happening here. It is a well-crafted account of a wonderful healing.

Of course, the most important thing about the story is that it involves the restoration of sight. In the Gospels sight is a very important concept since it is a sign of the insight a disciple has into the Gospel of Jesus. 

This sight, or insight, is something that each of us needs to acquire. We want Jesus to open our eyes to the secrets of the Gospel, to the message of eternal life. In the scriptures to see is to understand and here in the story of Bartimaeus his healing comes about because he understands who Jesus is. The title that he gives Jesus is Son of David which was a title at that time commonly understood to mean the Messiah. 

Bartimaeus’ eagerness to jump up and follow Jesus is the best indication you could get that he has accepted Jesus teaching and chooses to follow him as a disciple. 

One would have to conclude that this was not the first time that Bartimaeus had come across Jesus. Either he had heard Jesus’ teaching already or he had heard someone else explaining what Jesus was telling the people. In order for him to proclaim Jesus as the Messiah he would certainly have to have known something about him beforehand. 

I suppose that sitting there by the side of the road all day also meant that Bartimaeus had plenty of time to think about things. He surely had the time to reflect deeply on the message of Jesus and come to the conclusion that he was the Messiah and someone who was really worth following. 

Then Bartimaeus leaves his former life and follows Jesus. We don’t hear about him anywhere else in the scriptures so this following of Jesus cannot have meant him literally following Jesus around for the next year or so. But certainly it meant he joined the crowd that went around listening to Jesus as he preached and healed in that immediate neighborhood. 

Probably when Jesus left the district Bartimaeus stayed at home but he would do so as a changed man, as someone with a new way of life, as someone with a completely different motivating force in his life. 

We should see Bartimaeus as a parable of discipleship. He is blind, he cannot see, he is dependent on the generosity of others. But once he encounters Jesus he finds sight and with it freedom. Now he can move around independently, now he can earn his own living, now he has acquired insight into the meaning and purpose of life. In short, he is a completely new man. 

The same thing happens to us when we accept the Gospel; we rejoice in the fact that we are now liberated and that our life is transformed. We now see the world through different eyes. We have found the Messiah and our lives are filled with meaning and new purpose. 

The Gospel has liberated us from our former way of life and we now walk in the light of the Lord.
http://www.catholicwealdstone.org/wordpress/?p=2299

SaintJohnChurchMiddletown.com

Digest of Articles from Catholics Blogs and Websites
October 25, 2015

Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time: A Practical Guide to Understanding the Priesthood

This week I would like to concentrate on the second reading, which I would call the Practical Guide to Understanding the Priesthood. 

First of all the reading comes from the Letter to the Hebrews, a lengthy sermon written to shore up the faith of  second and third generation Christians of Hebrew ancestry.  When the writer begins by mentioning High Priests, he is speaking about two groups of people.  He is referring both to the Temple priests of the Old Covenant and Christian bishops and priests, the priests of the New Covenant.  He says that every high priest is taken from among men and made their representative before God to offer gifts and sacrifices for sin. 

…more

Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Mark 10: 46–52
Gospel Summary

The curing of a blind man in today’s gospel passage is remarkable for several reasons. First of all, it is quite unusual in the gospels to give a name to the person healed, and this suggests that Bartimaeus was a recognizable member of the early Christian community from which Mark’s gospel came.

Secondly, the blind man refers to Jesus as “son of David,” a clearly Messianic title, but Jesus does not correct him, as he does elsewhere in Mark’s gospel out of concern that he be seen as a political Messiah. No doubt the fact that he has by now made it clear that “the Son of man must suffer greatly” (Mark 8: 31), there is less danger of mistaking him for one who will lead them in a war of liberation against the Romans.

…more

Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B—October 25, 2015

A blind man insists on crying out to Jesus, getting on everyone’s nerves. How was his vision better than theirs?

Gospel (Read Mk 10:46-52)

As Jesus, His disciples, and “a sizeable crowd” were leaving Jericho (a city about 17 miles northeast of Jerusalem), they encountered a blind beggar, Bartimaeus, sitting by the roadside. The buzz from the crowd told Bartimaeus that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by. He began to cry out, “Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me.” This was a very unusual way for a person who didn’t know Jesus to address Him. It was full of Messianic significance. The Jews believed that the Messiah for whom they waited would be a descendant of King David and his rightful heir (see Isa 9:7; Ezek 34:23-24). In addition, Jewish tradition expected the Messiah to heal and exorcise demons, as it was believed that King Solomon once did (see Wis 7:20). So, in one loud cry, the blind beggar identifies Jesus as the One for whom all Jews longed. The crowd wasn’t amused: “And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent.” This raises two questions: (1) How did Bartimaeus know who Jesus was? (2) Why was the crowd so impatient with him?

…more

A Review of Head and Heart: Becoming Spiritual Leaders for Your Family

As the Synod on the Family continues in Rome, Catholic families around the world are refocusing on the importance of transmitting the faith in a vibrant, intentional way at home. At this particular moment in history, spiritual leadership and growth in holiness within the family really demands our attention as sons and daughters of the Church, and as spouses and parents within our families.

If there is one thing I’ve discovered as a Catholic wife and mother of six children, it’s this: there are no prescriptions for holiness.

…more

Pope Francis: New Saints Point to Humility — not Worldly Power

In his canonization homily for four new saints, including the parents of St. Therese of Lisieux, the Holy Father highlighted the Christian ‘path of love and service.’

VATICAN CITY — On Sunday, Pope Francis canonized four new saints, whose greatest legacy he said was their tireless imitation of Jesus in humble service to others, which is something each of us are asked to emulate.

“The men and women canonized today unfailingly served their brothers and sisters with outstanding humility and charity, in imitation of the divine Master,” the Pope said Oct. 18.

“The radiant witness of these new saints inspires us to persevere in joyful service to our brothers and sisters, trusting in the help of God and the maternal protection of Mary,” he told pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the Mass.

…more

Pray For Me: Understanding Pope Francis

The pope is always one-of-a-kind on the world stage, and has no competition except for Satan and his followers. If there are any human contenders for his position in the Church, those would have to keep that ambition a secret from fellow Cardinals, because self-promotion is not exactly a Christian virtue in this role.

He had just been elected pope, and finished his greeting to the assembled crowed by saying, “Pray for me”. This phrase is now a world famous tag line, but not from an actor or politician looking for a unique identity in a crowded field of contenders. Ever since he uttered those words on the library balcony of St. Peter’s Cathedral in Rome, just after his election, Pope Francis has been the subject of analysis by the entire world.

…more

13 Surprising Facts from the Inspired Life of St. John Paul II

October 22nd is the feast of the great St. John Paul II!

Here are 13 amazing facts about his incredible life that you may not have known:

[See also: Why Satan Is So Scared of St. John Paul II, According to Rome’s Chief Exorcist]

[See also: The Little-Known Story of Pope St. John Paul II’s Ferraris]

1) At age 15, he was almost killed in an accidental shooting by a friend

…more

Apostolic Maturity

Presence of God – Your love, O my God, matures my soul and renders it capable of giving itself fully to the service of souls.

MEDITATION

We may ask if the apostle can devote himself freely to the apostolate when he has reached the degree of union with God in which the flame of zeal bursts forth spontaneously. The fact is that, at this point, he cannot and should not evade the gift of self. Whether he is consecrated to contemplation or to action, whether he lives in the cloister or in the midst of the turmoil of the world, his life consists henceforth in giving himself unceasingly: in giving himself to God for the good of his neighbor, in giving himself to his neighbor for the glory of God.

…more

All in the (Catholic) Family

Recently, Vatican officials announced that Léonie Martin, St. Thérèse of Lisieux’s sister and fellow nun, was to join her illustrious sister and parents in attaining sainthood.

Her canonization cause is under way as her beloved parents, Louis and Zélie Guérin, are to be canonized Oct. 18. Is this unprecedented?

No. Throughout Church history, holy people have sought each other out, married and shared their moral and spiritual example with their children. Among them are:

…more

Drinking the Cup of Hope

“The Cup that I drink, you will drink.”

I was on a flight from Los Angeles to Manila a few weeks after the tragic air disaster of 24th March 2015 in which a Germanwings Airbus A320 crashed in the French Alps while travelling from Barcelona to Duesseldorf leaving more than 140 passengers dead. Thinking of that tragic flight few weeks earlier, I prayed my Rosary more earnestly for a safe trip for us. Just as I finished my Rosary, the man sitting at my side asked me, “If you die today, do you know where you are going?” Talk about getting my attention! I later on learned that he was a Baptist minister. I replied, “I hope to enter into full and perfect communion with the Triune God and the Saints (especially Mother Mary) and Angels in heaven.” He answered, “You only hope?” I knew what hope meant for him, coming from his Christian tradition that teaches “Once saved, always saved.”

…more

Seven Aspects of Mary’s Sanctity

Now, except on the one issue of “praying to” saints, most of the differences between us [Catholics and Fundamentalists] are matters of emphasis or sensibility rather than doctrine. But when it comes to Mary, the greatest saint, doctrine sharply divides. Fundamentalists call Mariology “Mariolatry.” Passions run higher on this than on any other issue.

Yet here too there’s a difference in sensibility behind the dispute. Fundamentalists would be much more open to the Marian doctrines (the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption) if they understood the motives behind devotion to Mary.

…more

The Holy Rosary: Satan’s Nemesis

October is known as the month of the Holy Rosary. In honor of this recognition, let’s examine some of the history of the rosary, what it is and what it is not, how to say it, and answer some common objections to its use.

Rosary History

The origin of the Holy Rosary is somewhat cloudy.  Originally, monks recited all 150 psalms in prayer (how anyone could memorize all 150 psalms is a miracle!).  This proved to be very hard for most people to do, so eventually 150 “Hail Mary’s” were said instead, interspersed with the “Our Father” between every ten Hail Mary’s. Small pebbles were used as counters.  Over time, meditations on the life of Jesus and Mary were added to every five decades of the Hail Mary’s, and the pebbles were strung together.

…more

Abide with me, Lord

Deep within each of us is a hunger and thirst. For some, the feeling is so strong that it is never quite out of mind. For others, the feeling is repressed and hardly noticed, although it remains a part of them.

The simple fact is that the very space we take up and all that is around us did not always exist. There was a beginning for space, just as there was a beginning for you and me. We move from one place to another and just as we move through and occupy our particular space, we also move through time. Time did not always exist either; there was a beginning even for time.

…more

Beauty as a Sign of Hope

There are in life certain things which everyone agrees need to be paid for, even if sacrifices must be made in order to do so. Most will agree that even if something is not necessary but still useful, it is worth the money.  However, far fewer willingly make sacrifices for things that are worthy in and of themselves–like beauty.  Sometimes one needs to experience the joys of such a sacrifice, in order to understand its value.  If ever you should happen to be in Jackson, Michigan, drop into St. Mary Star of the Sea Church, to help with that understanding.  Look up at the magnificent high altar, and behind you at the rose window of St. Cecilia above the choir loft.  Walk forward and turn to your left to view the World War I window in the transept.  Then kneel at the altar rail and soak in all of this beauty in the presence of the King.

…more

The Saint Knows: God is All You Need

My mind has been calmed by, among other things, a bookmark and a simple prayer.

I’m writing these thoughts late in the evening Thursday, October 15. For the Catholic Church, this has been the Feast Day of St. Teresa of Avila. Among those in the Discalced Carmelite order – be they priests/friars, nuns or lay seculars – the 16th-century Spanish nun is known by her name in Carmel: St. Teresa of Jesus. Or even more fondly, she is called Holy Mother, for indeed she reformed the Carmelite order and gave it the direction Carmelites enjoy pursuing today.

…more

On Living Intentionally

“Will-power. A very important quality. Don’t despise little things, for by the continual practice of denying yourself again and again in such things—which are never futile or trivial—with God’s grace you will add strength and resilience to your character. In that way you will first become master of yourself, and then a guide, a chief, a leader: to compel and to urge and to inspire others, with your word, with your example, with your knowledge and with your power.” (St. Josemaria Escriva, The Way 19)

Do you ever catch yourself in a moment of candid realization that you have developed bad habits, neglected your faith and created distance between yourself and Christ? This happens to me all too frequently and after realizing I was off course during a recent visit to Eucharistic Adoration, I decided to do something about it. What I needed was to toughen my resistance and develop new “muscles” to fight my patterns of spiritual failure. I committed to introduce more intention into my life and show stronger willpower.

…more

Sanctifying the Present Moment

Occasionally on Fridays I will be posting excerpts from the writings of the great American bishop and media evangelist, Ven. Fulton J. Sheen. Call them #FultonFridays!

[One] remedy for the ills that come to us from thinking about time is what might be called the sanctification of the moment—or the Now. Our Lord laid down the rule for us in these words: “Do not fret, then, over tomorrow; leave tomorrow to fret over its own needs; for today, today’s troubles are enough.” (Matt. 6:34)

This means that each day has its own trials; we are not to borrow troubles from tomorrow, because that day, too, will have its cross. We are to leave the past to Divine Mercy and to trust the future, whatever its trials, to His Loving Providence.
…more

Sixth Spiritual Work of Mercy: Comfort the Afflicted

The sixth spiritual work of mercy highlights an act of charity that we too often neglect. In American society we tend to avoid, “comforting the afflicted,” and either try to solve the “problem” or dismiss a person’s suffering entirely. We are even told that suffering is a sign of weakness and so many of us will never bring up our affliction in front of others.

Simply put, we are afraid of suffering. It makes us feel uncomfortable.

…more

Do We Choose toGo to Purgatory?

Last week we examined the dire results of turning our backs away from God. This week we will take a look at a place for those on the road to Heaven, but who need to be cleansed before they are able to enter into the Wedding Feast of the Lamb.

First of all, let us see how the Church describes this place, called “Purgatory:”

…more

Do Ghosts Exist? Should We Fear Them?

Since we are currently looking at the mysterious world of spiritual creatures, it would be beneficial to examine the popular topic of “ghosts.” October is a month where we see “ghosts” everywhere, in front of houses, at work and all over school.

But do they actually exist? Or is it a silly superstition?

In discussing angels and demons, a common question arises in regards to ghosts. What are they? Angels, demons, souls in purgatory, another type of spiritual creature?
…more

What Attachments Are and What They Are Not

For most of us, attachments to this world are THE struggle that most hinders our spiritual growth. 80% of the spiritual life is a battle about desire and the fundamental question, “What do you want most, the world and its pleasures, or God and his Kingdom?” So easily this world gets its hooks into us and we become attached to it. It is hard to break free from inordinate desires.

But what are attachments, and what are they not?

…more

The reality of sin

386 Sin is present in human history; any attempt to ignore it or to give this dark reality other names would be futile. To try to understand what sin is, one must first recognize the profound relation of man to God, for only in this relationship is the evil of sin unmasked in its true identity as humanity’s rejection of God and opposition to him, even as it continues to weigh heavy on human life and history.

387 Only the light of divine Revelation clarifies the reality of sin and particularly of the sin committed at mankind’s origins. Without the knowledge Revelation gives of God we cannot recognize sin clearly and are tempted to explain it as merely a developmental flaw, a psychological weakness, a mistake, or the necessary consequence of an inadequate social structure, etc. Only in the knowledge of God’s plan for man can we grasp that sin is an abuse of the freedom that God gives to created persons so that they are capable of loving him and loving one another.
…more

SaintJohnChurchMiddletown.com

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Pastoral Sharings: "Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time"

WeeklyMessageHomily from Father Alex McAllister SDS  
29th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Posted for October 18, 2015

I suppose one of the lessons of life is to be slightly wary of anyone who asks you to do them a favor. If the favor was easy to grant then they would just ask what they want outright and not require a promise in advance. 

Most often when people ask for a favor they are just employing a polite preamble to their request and mean nothing by it, it is just a manner of speaking. 

But sometimes when a person very formally asks for a favor, just as James and John do in today’s Gospel, they do so because what they want is difficult or impossible for you to grant. That’s why they are asking you to commit yourself in advance.

In this case Jesus very wisely doesn’t say yes or no but simply asks them what they want. 

It turns out that they want the biggest favor anyone could possibly ask for; they want seats immediately on the left and right of Christ when he comes into his glory. They are giving vent to their own unbounded ambition and asking the utterly impossible. 

This is cheek of the very highest order! No wonder the other Apostles were angry with them! 

And it shows that these two disciples, who were among the very first to be called by Christ and who form part of his inner circle, have completely and utterly failed to understand what Jesus has been teaching them for months.

In the immediately preceding paragraph Jesus made the third very explicit prediction of his passion and it is clear that these two Apostles missed the point here too. 

They fail to understand the nature of the Kingdom and they fail to understand the way to get there.

The Kingdom is about the very antithesis of power and authority; in the Kingdom the poor and lowly are lifted up, the weak become strong, the very opposite of the values of this world. 

And the way into the Kingdom is not the road of worldly ambition and glory but the way of love, sacrifice and suffering. 

Jesus points this out to them very clearly by asking them if they can drink the cup that he will drink. James and John blithely reply that of course they can, but we know that they haven’t the least notion of what this will involve.

Actually Jesus is remarkably patient with James and John unlike their confreres. I’m sure anyone else would have been a lot sharper with them. Nevertheless this question, ‘Can you drink the cup that I must drink?’ draws them even deeper into their error. 

This constant misunderstanding of Jesus’ mission and the nature of the Kingdom goes on through the entire period of his public ministry. And most famously at the most crucial moment of his death on the Cross the Apostles abandon him completely, with the interesting exception of John, who remains at the Cross together with Mary the Mother of Jesus. 

In the end, of course, they do drink the cup that Christ drinks. In fact James was the very first of the Apostles to be martyred. He was beheaded by Herod Agrippa in the year 42 AD. John was the only Apostle not to be martyred and lived to a great age but he too suffered many persecutions and undoubtedly also drank the cup of suffering. 

This leads us to the important question of the Christian attitude to suffering, something which is an obstacle for many unbelievers. People often ask you the question: If there is a God, how can he allow the innocent to suffer? 

This is indeed a difficult question, however the assumption that usually lies behind it is that suffering has no meaning or if it has it is entirely negative. What those who ask this question betray is a lack of understanding of the concept of sacrifice, something that is at the very heart of Christianity. 

We understand that sacrifice willingly undertaken is an expression of love. But sacrifice also must always involve some privation or suffering otherwise it is not a sacrifice at all. We voluntarily undergo suffering for a higher end.

Occasionally when I worked in a women’s prison I come across a mother who was doing time for her daughter.  

Whatever the rights and wrongs of the original event (and usually it is something very wrong) the mother might confess to the police that she committed the crime so that her daughter can go free in order to be with her own children who are at a very critical age and need the care that only a parent can give. 

She unhesitatingly makes the sacrifice of several years of her own life for the good of her daughter and grandchildren. 

Now that might be a particularly dramatic example, but most parents routinely make huge sacrifices for their children. And later in life the children often also go to great lengths to care for their parents in their vulnerable last years. Most people instinctively understand sacrifice and are prepared to undergo a great deal of suffering and hardship for the good of those they love. 

Jesus did the same; he loves us so much that he gives his life for us. He is the Son of God; he is entirely innocent and deserves nothing of what was dished out to him by mankind. Yet, he chooses to drink this cup of suffering on our behalf, to redeem us from our sins, to redeem us from a punishment we undoubtedly deserve. 

We do not, indeed we cannot, replicate Christ in the manner of his death. But we can accept the hardships and struggles of this life and offer them to God in imitation of the sacrifice Christ made. 

We can take any pain or hardship and through an act of love accept it as our share in Christ’s suffering. In this way our sufferings are transformed and filled with meaning. 

Another important thing to take into account is that our sufferings ultimately bear fruit. Christ’s sufferings brought the incomparable benefit of salvation for the whole human race. But our sufferings too bring benefit to us and those we love. 

We know that love is a force which extends far beyond the limits of this earthly life; as St John himself tells us, ‘Love is eternal.’ And since sacrifices are essentially acts of love their fruits extend into eternity and ultimately bring us to the joy of heaven. 

James and John show here how venal human beings can get; and yet because of the sacrifices they made later in life and because of the love Christ showed them they undoubtedly reached the goal of heaven. 

Perhaps they did not make it to precisely the two seats they asked for, but they have achieved eternal joy in God’s presence nonetheless.http://www.catholicwealdstone.org/wordpress/?p=2292

SaintJohnChurchMiddletown.com

Digest of Articles from Catholics Blogs and Websites
October 18, 2015

Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time: Authority and Service

James and John had it all wrong.  They wanted authority.  They wanted to sit at the right hand and left hand of Jesus when the Kingdom of God was established on earth.  They wanted to lord it over others.  They wanted to be powerful and feared because of their power. They looked forward to being in authority. 

They had it all wrong.  In the Kingdom of God, authority would come through service, not through power.

…more

Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Mark 10: 35–45
Gospel Summary

James and John ask that when Jesus enters his glory he would grant them positions of honor and power. Jesus responds that they do not understand the cost of what they are asking. When the ten hear about the ambitious request, they become indignant. Jesus then summons the Twelve and reveals the meaning of the divine mission for the kingdom that he has come to fulfill. Those who are rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them and make their authority felt. Among his disciples, however, whoever wishes to be great will become a servant, and whoever wishes to be first will be the slave of all. Then follows perhaps the most radical and most revealing saying of Jesus about himself and about discipleship in the entire gospel: “For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

…more

Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time,

Year B—October 18, 2015

Two disciples from Jesus’ inner circle make a request that irritates the others but allows Him to reveal one of His kingdom’s greatest mysteries. What is it?

Gospel (Read Mk 10:35-45)

St. Mark tells us about a bold moment when James and John (two of Jesus’ closest friends, the other being Peter) ask “that in Your glory, we may sit one at Your right and the other at Your left.” Recall that in St. Matthew’s Gospel, their mother was with them, too (see Mt 20:20). It is interesting to watch Jesus respond to this request. First, He says, “You don’t know what you are asking.” Yet, surely James and John believe they do. Jesus asks of them:

…more

Year Of Mercy, Year Of Extraordinary Graces

In less than two months, thanks be to God through the Holy Father, Pope Francis, the Church will be passing through the threshold of an extraordinary year of grace—The Year of Mercy.

The year of mercy will start on one of the most important Marian Solemnities in the Church Liturgical Year—the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception.  This most sublime Marian Feast teaches us one of the most important Marian privileges: the reality of Mary’s Immaculate Conception.

…more

What Our Lady Can Do with a Little Bag of Beads

The Miraculous Closing of the Last Abortion Facility in Corpus Christ, Texas

For many years the pro-life community of Corpus Christi, Texas and surrounding areas prayed in front of the last remaining abortion business left in the town. There were countless novenas and Masses offered along with visitations of a relic from the tilma of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Women and men spent many hours in silent prayer standing on the sidewalk at the busy intersection of Morgan Avenue and the Crosstown Freeway.

…more

15 Super Promises of Our Blessed Mother for Faithfully Praying the Rosary

Some people make promises that are too good to be true. But not our Blessed Mother. When she makes a promise, it is absolutely 100% true and worthy of belief.

The feast of Our Lady of the Rosary on Oct. 7 — indeed, all of October which is celebrated as the month of the Holy Rosary — is a perfect time to remind ourselves of her 15 in-and-out-of-this-world promises she made to those who pray the Rosary faithfully.

Or to learn about them for the first time. And take our Blessed Mother at her word.

…more

Front Row With Francis: How the Family Evangelizes

What is the best social network for the New Evangelization?  Is it Facebook or Twitter?  Or perhaps Instagram and Pinterest better reflect our modern lives?  Or are you a Snapchat aficionado?  Forget it, Pope Francis just rebooted this conversation.  At his Wednesday General Audience on October 7, 2015, he revealed his social network of choice for evangelization: the family.

“When Jesus called Peter to follow him, he told him that he would make him a ‘fisher of men’,” Francis recalled, “and for this, a new type of nets is needed. We could say that today families are one of the most important nets for the mission of Peter and of the Church.”

…more

3 Simple Steps to Reclaim Your Family Life

Moms and dads, I want to let you in on a secret. You don’t need permission from your children’s coaches, teachers, youth ministers, scout leaders, etc, etc, etc, to have a family life. All those people have to ask YOU permission to borrow your kids. NOT the other way around.

At my wife and my recent presentation at the World Meeting of Families, the above statement earned an unexpected ovation. In our talk, we asserted the completely counter-cultural and Catholic idea that family life, itself, is an activity and not an accessory. We are used to having a family life but working  at everything else; school, sports, work, lessons, you name it. We have time for everything except working, praying, talking, and praying as a family. Worse, we have all come to accept this as normal and necessary when it is anything but.

…more

The Psalms Brings Us to the Cross

Planted near running waters, the tree never thirsts, always bearing fruit in season, forever flourishing.

Psalm 1:3 paints an image of utter tranquility in describing the righteous man. It seems a world away from the bloodied scene at Golgotha, where the body of a dying man hung on dead wood, his hands and feet pierced by unfeeling iron, his thirst never quite slaked, and his very life slowly draining out of Him.

Yet it is exactly to the cross that some Church Fathers believe Psalm 1:3 points, seeing in the image of the tranquil tree a foreshadowing of the cross. (The technical term is a ‘type.’)

…more

Some Hard Spiritual Truths That Will Set You Free – A Meditation on a Teaching by St. John of the Cross

I am in Avila today, meditating on the great teachings of St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross. The following is a re-post of a blog I wrote two years ago:

In this post I would like to ponder some hard spiritual truths that will set us free.

…more

“A saint whose capacity to forgive shames most Christians”

Listers, “what does a Catholic approach to Scripture study look like?” This is the question Dr. Steven C. Smith takes up in his work 7 Essential Principles for Catholic Scripture Study: The Word of the Lord. The book strikes an excellent balance between academic insights and a tone/format that is easily accessible to the everyday Catholic. His Eminence Cardinal George comments, “this is a helpful book at a time when the relations between Scripture and Tradition and Scripture and Divine Revelation are background for many other conversations in the Church today.”

…more

“A saint whose capacity to forgive shames most Christians

St Maria Goretti showed no hesitation in forgiving her killer – and later appeared to him.

Presently America has the honour of having the relics of St Maria Goretti tour from church to church, the virgin-martyr born 125 years ago this month.

Poverty had a vice-like grip on St Maria Goretti’s family. When she was six, her parents lost their farm and had to up sticks and earn a meagre living working for other farmers. Following the untimely death of her father, Maria, her mother and siblings moved again, and not begin able to afford a house of their own, had to share with the Serenelli family, which is where little Maria Goretti got to know their son, Alessandro.

…more

Loving the Elderly Requires the Blessing of Presence

Elderly persons who suffer from dementia and Alzheimer’s are “living in a world that gets dimmer and dimmer,” and the steps their loved ones can take to make their lives brighter will make a difference, said Janet Smith, a moral theologian, who spoke at a Sept. 23 talk at the World Meeting of Families Congress in Philadelphia.

With affection and humor, Smith shared insights and stories of caring for her 89-year-old mother, who suffers from dementia, in her talk entitled, “Loving the Elderly.” She identified ways to be sensitive to the needs of sufferers, along with practical tips for caring for them — and the caregiver.

…more

The Impractical Catholic’s Guide to Infallibility

There are two common and distinct approaches to the question of the infallibility of the Church’s teaching authority. Non-Catholics deny that any human person or institution can be infallible in any meaningful way. Many Catholics, by contrast, hold that the Church can and does teach infallibly on matters pertaining to faith and morals — except when she teaches something they don’t want to believe.

Infallibility is at the same time one of the most controversial and least understood dogmas of the Catholic Church. Even people who do understand infallibility argue over what teachings it covers and doesn’t cover, while others make errors of distinction between dogma, to which infallibility does apply, and discipline, to which it does not.

…more

The Spirituality of Waiting Around

“Time,” the man said, “is God’s way of keeping everything from happening at once.” Another way of looking at the same thing is Arnold Toynbee’s remark that some people think “history is just one damned thing after another.”

As Christians, we believe that time, history, and the sequence and interplay of events in human affairs is not merely one damned thing after another but is, like all created things, grist for grace. God doesn’t just bless things and sacramentalize them; He blesses time itself and makes it sacramental, too. He doesn’t just hallow spaces in space like temples and churches; He hallows spaces in time (like Sabbaths and feast days).
…more

The Golden Rule In The Workplace

“Do to others whatever you would have them do to you. This is the law and the prophets.” – Jesus (Matthew 7:12)

The Golden Rule. We can all repeat it to others, and we are quick to point out when someone violates that rule, but how much conscious effort do we spend trying to apply it on the job? What type of ownership do we take of this tenet of our faith?

Each of us knows how things at work are when the Golden Rule is not applied. Unfortunately this occurs all too often. It is like many adults forget the Rule at the door or think it only applies to kids at Sunday school.

Now take a moment and imagine how our companies, industries and culture would benefit from a more intense application of the Lord’s directive. Start by considering how you want to be treated in the office or on the job site:

…more

What Do (Catholic) Women Want?

Sigmund Freud is remembered for many reasons, but one of his most quoted remarks is this: “The great question that has never been answered, and which I have not yet been able to answer, despite my thirty years of research into the feminine soul, is ‘What does a woman want?'”

I believe that prayerful Catholic women hold great power with God, and as they awake to that intercessory power and mobilize their great intelligence, piety, and love of family and marriage, they will overcome and conquer the Evil Empire that abuses them and their families throughout what was once the Catholic West.

…more

Thinking Twice about Hell

I still vividly remember the nuns who taught my elementary CCD classes, and the impression they made on me and my fellow students. They hammered the implications of the Ten Commandments into us, as well as the consequences for disobedience, with a heavy seriousness that made its mark on my memory. Our pastor, Father (now Monsignor) William Carr, was likely surprised to hear the confessions of so many 8-year-olds begging forgiveness for the sin of adultery. After our lesson on the 6th commandment, I’m sure we all believed ourselves to be in violation of Jesus’s teaching about adultery delivered during the Sermon on the Mount, and, though we might have been a little fuzzy about what lust really was, we were made sensitive to the fact that through it we were doomed to incur guilt in one way or another. While scrupulosity is a real disorder, which for some may be rooted in the hyper-rigidity of their formative catechesis, I suspect that many more suffer from a lethargic view towards sin and judgment, perhaps caused in part by the hyper-laxity (or non-existence) of religious instruction.
…more

Do Exorcism Movies Give Satan Too Much Credit?

Before arriving at the most exciting part of exorcism (theology) let’s do some comparison of world religions (philosophy.)  A couple sentences should be enough for us to understand the differing views of good and evil.  In Eastern religions, like Taoism, evil and good are co-equal forces that balance each other in order to keep the universe in tension:  black/white, good/evil, earth/sky, woman/man, etc.  However, in Judaism and Christianity, evil is only the deprivation of good, just as darkness is the lack of light.

…more

Every Life Is Worth Living

October is Respect Life month in the United States. It begins a new, year-long cycle of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Respect Life Program. The theme for this year’s Respect Life Program is “Every Life is Worth Living.” What an appropriate theme in light of many current events including the continued release of undercover Planned Parenthood videos, declarations of children as “incompatible with life,” and the legalization of physician-assisted suicide in California. This theme provides us a thought-provoking lens through which to consider the worth of a human life. Indeed, society offers us many other ways to value human life which has manifested itself in current events.

…more

‘It’s Truly a Miracle’ — Kidnapped Syrian Priest Escapes from ISIS Clutches

HOMS, Syria — A Syrian priest captured by Islamic State (ISIS) militants in May thought he would die for his faith. Now, he credits the Virgin Mary and the help of a Muslim friend for his escape.

“This is the miracle the Good Lord gave me — while I was a prisoner I was waiting for the day I would die, but with a great inner peace,” the Syriac Catholic priest, Father Jacques Mourad, told Italian TV 2000. “I had no problem dying for the name of Our Lord; I wouldn’t be the first or the last, just one of the thousands of the martyrs for Christ.”

…more

Missionaries of Charity Stand Firm on Decision to Withdraw From Adoptions

NEW DELHI — Indian Church leaders and other prominent Christian and political leaders have endorsed the unprecedented decision of the Missionaries of Charity (MC) congregation founded by Mother Teresa to withdraw from the government-controlled adoption process in India, in order to protest objectionable clauses in its new adoption policy.

The MCs object to controversial provisions like granting adoption rights to single parents (separated, divorced or unwed mothers) and giving prospective parents the freedom to select child of their choice from the adoption centers.

…more

Looking for Transcendence in All the Wrong Places

The dictionary defines transcendence as “existence or experience beyond the normal or physical level.” For all human beings, self-transcendence is a constant and profound spiritual need. We only learn about the world, about things, by reaching out with our senses. But contrary to widespread assumptions in our culture, sensory experience alone will never satisfy beings constituted as we are, who seek truth, beauty, love. We reach out to other people and grow inestimably in the process. The richest part of our human growth comes from this kind of reaching out to others, and ultimately to God.

…more

SaintJohnChurchMiddletown.com

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Pastoral Sharings: "Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time"

WeeklyMessageHomily from Father Alex McAllister SDS  
28th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Posted for October 11, 2015

  We have for our Gospel today the wonderful account of the rich young man and his encounter with Jesus.

This incident is common to the three Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke). If you want to read an extended commentary on Matthew’s version then go no further than Pope John Paul’s Encyclical Veritatis in Splendor of 1993 which gives in chapter one the Pope’s own reflections on this marvellous story from the Gospels. 

The question of the young man is also our question: What must I do to inherit eternal life? And the answer of Jesus to the young man is also his answer to us: Keep the commandments. 

Jesus lists the commandments for him and even adds one in which is not in the Ten Commandments —You must not defraud. I suppose he adds this to show that the young man’s wealth was achieved honestly and that he was entirely blameless. The fact that the young man ran up to Jesus is also to illustrate his enthusiasm and heighten the fact of his goodness. 

The young man says that he is keeping the commandments. He is obviously living a moral life, a life of integrity. And like the young man we have no real difficulty in accepting the commandments, for they are the basic rules of life for anyone who wants to call themselves a Christian. 

But then comes the rub. Jesus says to him: There is one thing you lack, go sell everything you have give it to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven, then come follow me. Even Jesus later acknowledges to his disciples that this is very difficult: How hard it is for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God. 

Jesus is saying that even wealth can become an encumbrance to the life of a Christian. We tend to think of wealth as liberating, why else would so many people buy lottery tickets each week? We think of poverty and problems of every kind preoccupying us. Surely if we had the money we wouldn’t have to go to work, we wouldn’t have to worry about anything and we could devote ourselves to studying the scriptures and to prayer. But it never seems to work like that, does it? 

Jesus is telling us that anything, even wealth, can be a distraction from true discipleship. 

The disciples, however, have done precisely what Christ asked of them. They left everything they had and quite literally followed him. This is what those who enter a religious order do even today. You give up the possibility of marriage, of a career, of a salary and you devote yourself to prayer and to witnessing to the Good News. 

But the Apostles, as we have often seen, were slow on the uptake and jockeying for position and when-push-came-to-shove even managed to deny Christ. So even doing this one thing that the rich young man lacked —leaving everything and following Christ— does not guarantee entry to the Kingdom. 

With the very best of intentions we still manage to let ourselves down. For example those of us who have entered the priesthood or the religious life are still very human, still prey to envy and despite many sacrifices still frequently fall down on the job. 

Jesus tells the Apostles, in the memorable phrase: It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God.  

This is a grotesque image and probably because it is so grotesque we can be fairly certain that Jesus said it. Some have suggested that it was a copyist’s error because if you transpose one of the Greek letters the word for camel becomes the word for rope. Others relying on a note in a 9th century commentary say that the needle was a very small gate in the Jerusalem city wall.

People can try to explain it away but it is futile to do so. Jesus is asserting the utter impossibility of attaining heaven through one’s own efforts, that’s the point and the bizarreness of the image he uses merely strengthens his point.

The Apostles were right to say: In that case who can be saved? And we could and probably would say exactly the same thing. 

The truth that Jesus teaches is that it is impossible for any of us to get to heaven by our own efforts. Yes we are bound to keep the commandments and some are called to the more radical form of discipleship like the apostles through entering a religious order or some such equivalent. But only divine grace can enable us to enter the Kingdom of God. 

Entry to the Kingdom is entirely in the free gift of God. There is nothing we can do which will earn us entry to the Kingdom. 

Yes, God will, as Jesus says, reward us a hundred-fold for the sacrifices we make on his behalf. But these sacrifices are quite unacceptable if they are made merely to earn our way into heaven. When made for love, when made as an expression of true faith in God, when made freely and generously without thought of reward only then they will gain us the treasure we seek. 

Even though this sounds like the Catch 22 of the Gospels it isn’t really. Jesus is only testing our motives, he wants us to love him without strings attached. He wants us to love him for his own sake. 

So we are invited to step into the unknown, invited to take the plunge of faith, invited to commit our whole lives to God freely and without thought of reward. 

We are invited to do no less than to imitate Christ himself. And what did Christ do? He took the plunge and came down from his place in heaven to enter our world and take on human form. And he allowed himself to be subjected to all the idiocy, ridicule and meanness our fellow human beings could impose on him. 

He asks us to take a similar plunge, to leave our human world-view to renounce ourselves and to do things his way. This too will earn us ridicule and will put us under attack from those around us. 

But we will be free; we will be living a new kind of life, a life in the Spirit. We will be living a life of love, a life without dependence on material things, a life without worry because we have placed our entire reliance on Divine Providence. 

This is the kind of life the Saints live; it is the kind of life we ought to live.
http://www.catholicwealdstone.org/wordpress/?p=2289

SaintJohnChurchMiddletown.com

Digest of Articles from Catholics Blogs and Websites
October 11, 2015

Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time: What Do We Need?

How sad!  The man had the wonders of the Lord right there in front of him.  He could have become one of the Lord’s closest disciples.  Jesus heard him say that he had kept the commandments.  Jesus knew that he was a good man.  He loved him.  But he also knew that something was holding the man back.  His possessions were the reason for his life.  All his life he had worked hard to have a lot, or, perhaps, he had been born into a wealthy family and had been falsely taught that the family’s wealth would guarantee his happiness.  The man thought that he was on the top of society.  Then he received a shock.  True greatness was being offered to him.   Was he willing to change the focus of his life?  Was he willing to step away from his material possessions? Evidently not.  He left the Lord saddened.
…more

Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Mark 10: 17–30
Gospel Summary

In today’s gospel passage, the rich young man who approaches Jesus asks the universally felt human question about the possibility of reaching a life beyond death. In other words, why do we humans have such a strong yearning for life and are nonetheless created mortal? This young man is obviously very confident and he uses ingratiating language as he addresses Jesus. When Jesus replies that only God is good, he is simply stating a truism of the Jewish tradition.

Jesus then reminds this young man of the traditional teaching in the Ten Commandments about the kind of moral behavior that promises eternal life. The young man replies in effect: “Been there, done that!” Jesus in turn seems to be captivated by his self-confidence and tells him that there is indeed more to be done if he really is serious about eternal life.
…more

Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B—October 11, 2015

Today, a man runs to Jesus and seeks an answer to life’s deepest question. Yet this did not end well. Why?

Gospel (Read Mk 10:17-30)

St. Mark describes for us an unforgettable exchange Jesus had with a man who earnestly seeks Him out. The man “ran” up to Him and “knelt down before Him.”   When we hear the man’s question (“Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”), we have to be impressed with his honest seriousness. This man has a burning desire for spiritual truth, and he expects Jesus to reveal it.
…more

Jesus Christ is the Same Yesterday, Today and Forever

Last year’s Synod on the Family was the low point in my Catholic faith.

It wasn’t the dueling cardinals and their clashing press comments that got to me. What pushed me close to despair was the fear that the Church might actually walk away from Jesus.

After I converted, I found a few of the Church’s teachings difficult to accept. But I hung in there and slowly came around to acceptance and a profound gratitude for the Church’s fidelity to Christ down through the centuries.
…more

The Power of a Positive Pope

What was the greatest takeaway from Pope Francis’ visit to America? It was simply that he seemed to be a happy person. He laughed without being flippant or sarcastic. He was relaxed without being laid back. He was profound without being pompous. He was loving without being sentimental and confident without being arrogant. In a world of controlled messages, artificiality, political cunning and cynical spin, everything Pope Francis said and did was natural, transparent, simple and authentically positive.

Where does Pope Francis’ positive outlook come from?

Is he just a nice grandfatherly figure, or is there more to it than that?
…more

Our Age Needs Wisdom

The whole Church is obliged to a deep reflection and commitment, so that the new culture now emerging may be evangelized in depth, true values acknowledged, the rights of men and women defended, and justice promoted in the very structures of society. In this way the “new humanism” will not distract people from their relationship with God, but will lead them to it more fully.
…more

Please Mind My Own Business

Fraternal correction is defined as the admonishing of one’s neighbor with the purpose of reforming him, or, if possible, preventing his sinful indulgence in the first place.  The very idea of this makes America 2015 ™ cringe, because even to most Christians, those who are responsible for fraternally correcting each other, the concept of evaluating the behavior of another person is absolutely taboo if not wholly laughable.
…more

Struggling with a Restless Heart

“Thou movest us to delight in praising Thee; for Thou hast formed us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless till they find rest in Thee”

(St. Augustine, Confessions).

I think most writers are naturally introspective and reflective.  While in Eucharistic Adoration a week ago I prayed for many things, including strength and courage to stay focused on the path Christ wants me to follow and that my heart and mind would be prepared for Lent.  As I sometimes remember to do, I let my mind grow quiet and tried to listen as much as I prayed.  The quote from St. Augustine above, which is one of my favorites, crossed my mind and I thought of little else for the rest of my time in the parish chapel.  The word from the quote which resonated most with my desire to stay on the right path was restless.  Why “restless”?
…more

Sin and the Reception of the Eucharist

In Evangelii Gaudium Pope Francis reminds us that the Eucharist is “not a prize for the perfect but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak.” Amen to that. It is also true, however, that the Eucharist is not magic dust. The Eucharist, like Jesus during his ministry, “works” in relationship with the faith of the recipient. Again and again Jesus heals, telling people “your faith has healed you” (MK 10:52) and where there is no faith, as in his hometown, “he could do no miracles there” (MK 6:5). There is the miraculous self giving of Jesus and the acceptance of that gift by the recipient of the miracle. This is, as Henri De Lubac reminds us, not magic, which works independently of the will of the person but grace, which works with the person, perfecting nature not annihilating it. The Eucharist is grace, not magic.
…more

Fourth Spiritual Work of Mercy: To Bear Wrongs Patiently

The fourth spiritual work of mercy is one that is simple in theory, but difficult in practice: “to bear wrongs patiently.” We all know how to be charitable and patient to those who are pleasant, kind and humble. However, our initial reaction is not “patience” when someone cuts in line in front of us after waiting for an hour at the DMV.

Jesus had much to say in regards to this spiritual work of mercy.  He said,
…more

Fifth spiritual work of mercy: To forgive offenses willingly

The fifth spiritual work of mercy is one that will greatly prepare us to embrace the Jubilee Year of Mercy: “to forgive offenses willingly.” This particular work of mercy is one of the hardest, as it requires a great deal of humility to perform it.

Before we look at the practical side of this work of mercy, let us see what Jesus had to say about forgiveness:
…more

The Prophetic Voice of the Catholic Church — Dignity of the Human Person and the Right to Life

“Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence to get what it wants.” (Blessed Teresa of Calcutta)

We live in an age that is filled with signs and wonders, many of which are ominous and terrifying—our economies continue in turmoil, wars and the fears of terrorism rage, our environment is being polluted in ways unseen before, our families, youth and societal institutions continue their collapse. Some people see these and try to discern their meaning. Others seem to hardly notice at all. The writer of the New Testament Letter to the Hebrews opens with verses that emphatically proclaim that God has spoken to us through His Son. We should listen:

“In many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets; but in these last days He has spoken to us by a Son, whom He appointed the heir of all things, through whom He also created the ages. He reflects the glory of God and bears the very stamp of His nature, upholding the universe by His word of power…” (Hebrews 1:1-3 RSV-CE).
…more

Why You Should Love Your Guardian Angel

(And Not Name Him)

I remember learning about guardian angels as a child, and being completely freaked out by it. In my spiritual immaturity, the idea of a being that I could not see following me around wherever I went was unsettling.

As I grew and matured, of course, I began to not only understand the beauty and importance of guardian angels, but I also came to love, respect, and appreciate mine.

It’s the very thing that originally freaked me out – the constant presence of a being I could not see – that eventually endeared him to me. Given to me by God, my guardian angel is always there, loving me, caring for me, and guiding me.
…more

Worried About the Church? Become a Child

I’ll be honest.

I’m tired of the grumbling, grousing, griping and gossip.

Why are there so many Catholics who are down on Pope Francis, biting their nails over the Synod on the Family and searching the skies for signs of the world’s end?

To be sure we live in uncertain times.

Read history. When were the times certain?

To be sure the church seems to be under threat–undermined by corruption and heresy within and attacked by persecution and infidels without.

Read your history. When was it otherwise?
…more

You Have The Rite To Remain Silent

I didn’t start attending the “Latin Mass” out of some strange, retrograde desire to unring the bell of the liturgical changes brought on by the Second Vatican Council. Nor did I first darken the door of the local Chapel staffed by the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter because I was shocked— shocked!— by the liturgical abuses of my juridical parish. Rather, when Benedict XVI issued his motu proprio Summorum Pontificium in 2007— and my liberal Catholic friends started gnashing their proverbial teeth, rending their clichéd garments, and literally wringing their hands— I thought I’d find out what all the skull-clenching was about.
…more

Lesson One in Prayer

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.
…more

The Beads and Repetition of the Rosary

We should begin with what is most obvious in the Rosary. An aid is used in this prayer: a string or a chain of beads. Some of these beads are larger or are marked apart from the others by a greater distance. Ten smaller beads follow a larger one and form a decade. The whole chain has five such decades. The decades taken together are preceded by a sort of preface, formed by a little crucifix and followed by one large bead and then by three smaller beads.
…more

The Catholic Church: Never Changing and Ever Changing

As the synod meets in Rome there is much talk about the Catholic Church changing.

The reason the Catholic Church is still here after 2,000 years is that she has not changed according to every fashion that comes along.

The Catholic Church’s role is not to adapt to the fashions and ideologies of the world, but to challenge the fashions and ideologies of the world.

That’s why, although she has remained for 2,000 years she has also been persecuted for those 2,000 years.
…more

25 Things You Should Know About the Rosary

In honor of Our Lady of Fatima, Our Lady of the most Holy Rosary, we have composed a very simple list of 25 things that we should know about the most Holy Rosary. Hopefully upon reading this short list you will be motivated to get to know the Rosary better. Better yet we hope that you will be motivated to pray the Rosary all the days of your life. Follow the style of Saint Pope John Paul II: “To contemplate the Face of Jesus through the eyes and heart of Our Lady.
…more

Out of the Darkness They Came

The best stories often just happen. Frequently, they begin as a series of unplanned, spontaneous occurrences that no one sees coming; events that work together to first form a memory then quickly evolve to reveal a story worth telling.

Such were the origins of this story.
…more

The Joys and Challenges of Modern Fatherhood

Sometimes I can almost imagine myself as a great father to my children… then I do something to mess it up. I vividly recall a past October when the boys and I welcomed my wife home from a five-day trip to California where she had been visiting her sister. What started out as my great adventure with the kids at the beginning of her trip turned into exhaustion at the end, and I guiltily looked forward to my wife’s coming home so I could escape to my work and other activities. I had just experienced a great time with my sons (we really did have fun), and now I was looking to flee the scene and go back to activities that aren’t nearly as important. What was my problem?
…more

The Joy of the Gospel of Life

When I was about middle school age, I participated in a life chain with my mom. We lined up shoulder-to-shoulder with hundreds of other pro-life people along a busy stretch of road in my hometown. We held up pro-life signs and prayed.  I don’t remember much about the day, except where we were standing, and the fact that a lady drove by us and yelled out the window, “You’re the ones who are killing!” I don’t think I had any idea what she meant by that comment at the time, but I did understand that she was angry. Very angry.
…more

The Pope, the Rosary and the Battle of Lepanto

On October 7, Catholics remember Our Lady of the Rosary.

The feast was actually instituted under another name: In 1571 Pope Pius V instituted “Our Lady of Victory” as an annual feast in thanksgiving for Mary’s patronage in the victory of the Holy League over the Muslim Turks in the Battle of Lepanto. Two years later, in 1573, Pope Gregory XIII changed the title of this feastday to “Feast of the Holy Rosary.” And in 1716, Pope Clement XI extended the feast to the whole of the Latin Rite, inserting it into the Roman Catholic calendar of saints, and assigning it to the first Sunday in October. In 1913, Pope Pius X changed the date to October 7, as part of his effort to restore celebration of the liturgy of the Sundays.
…more

Who (or What) Was Lucifer?

Recently I got a query from someone wondering about an anti-Catholic video that claimed “the pope’s deacon” invoked Lucifer during the Easter Vigil liturgy and referred to Jesus as his Son.

Of course, that’s not what happened, but to understand what really did happen, you need to know a few things about “lucifer.”

What does the word lucifer mean?
 …more

SaintJohnChurchMiddletown.com

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Pastoral Sharings: "Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time"

WeeklyMessage Homily from Father Alex McAllister SDS  
27th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Posted for October 4, 2015 

In this Sunday’s Gospel we are presented with the 
essential elements of Christ’s teaching on marriage. He 
stresses that this unique union is a sign of the Kingdom of 
God and therefore is an eternal sacrament which cannot 
be broken by divorce.

This is one of the most difficult of the teachings of Christ and is a question that all the Christian Churches have had to wrestle with over the centuries. The Protestant Churches have in recent years accommodated themselves to the reality of divorce and they have mostly accepted the possibility of divorced members remarrying in Church.

The Orthodox Churches have approached this question in a slightly different way. If there is an irretrievable breakdown in marriage the Orthodox will permit a second marriage in Church but this has a penitential character and is not generally regarded as a full sacramental marriage, however the parties are permitted to receive Holy Communion.

The only problem with this is that some people come back even for a third marriage, the second one also having broken down.

In the Catholic Church, however, we take quite a different approach and try to remain as faithful as we can to the teaching of Christ. In the case of a permanent breakdown of marriage what we do is examine that marriage to see if all the essential elements of the Sacrament of Matrimony were present.

If one of these essential conditions is found to be lacking then that marriage is declared null, meaning that it was never a true marriage in the eyes of God and the parties are then free to contract a new sacramental marriage.

Some of the conditions that need to be met to ensure that a marriage is truly valid are the following. It must be the completely free choice of the couple, which means that neither can be coerced into the marriage under pressure from a parent or anyone else. There must also be true consent and both parties must be sufficiently mature and able to freely give that consent.

There must be no deception involved; so for example if one party concealed alcoholism or drug addiction this would not meet the conditions for a valid marriage. The marriage also must take place in a Church before a priest with all the necessary permissions having been obtained beforehand.

The parties must also be free to marry, so if one partner has already been married then the new marriage can be declared null. There are other requirements such as consummation, openness to children and several more.

When an annulment is applied for the marriage in question is examined by a Church Tribunal which takes evidence and studies the matter very closely. If it is satisfied that one of the essential elements of marriage is missing it will issue a Decree of Nullity and the parties will be able to enter into a new marriage should they so wish.

You will have heard through the media that Pope Francis has recently relaxed the rules for the granting of annulments. It is true that he has made some changes but these are more procedural in nature and do not affect any of the reasons why an annulment might be granted.

The first change is that there is no automatic appeal. In the past once an annulment was granted it had to be automatically appealed to the Tribunal of a neighboring Diocese for confirmation of the judgement and this necessarily lengthened the process. This is no longer the case and once an annulment is granted it takes effect immediately without any appeal.

Another change is that of the appropriate Tribunal to hear the case. This was formerly the one in the Diocese where the marriage took place but now it is the Diocese where the petitioner lives.

This will help us greatly here in London where people from many different countries are living. It is no longer necessary to have the marriage examined by the Tribunal in one’s homeland but instead the whole thing can be dealt with here by our own Diocese.

One other small change is that where no proper tribunal has been set up the Bishop himself can shorten things by hearing the case or assign this duty to a qualified priest. This is something which will help those living in developing countries but is not very relevant for our situation.

What the Catholic Church is attempting to do therefore is to see whether the first marriage was a true one in the eyes of God. If not, then the marriage can be annulled and the parties are free to marry again. This is our way of remaining faithful to the demands of Christ while coping with the reality of marriage breakdown in the modern world.

Of course, after examination a number of these broken marriages might be judged to have been truly valid. This would leave those involved no further forward and they may end up in a new marriage not recognized by the Church and therefore barred from receiving Holy Communion.

While this is regrettable it should not mean any definitive separation from the Church but simply reflect the unfortunate consequences resulting from the breakdown of a marriage. In these circumstances the person involved should not receive Holy Communion but they should still come to mass and at the time of Communion come for a blessing.

There is also something called Spiritual Communion which might help us here. When we are prevented from receiving Holy Communion for whatever reason we can during mass still pray to God saying to him that we are sorry for all our sins and that although we are unable to receive Holy Communion we desire to be completely united to God and offer him our whole heart and soul. This act of Spiritual Communion can be very consoling.

Those who find themselves in irregular marriages or in other difficult situations which may lead them to feel separated from the Church should realize that while they may feel cut off and may actually be prevented from going to Holy Communion they should understand that they are still a full member of the Church and deeply loved by God.

God loves us very deeply whatever our situation. When we have made mistakes in life God does not love us any less but actually he loves and treasures us all the more. If we have this deep realization in our hearts we will, despite all our difficulties, understand that we are deeply cherished children of God.
http://www.catholicwealdstone.org/wordpress/?p=2283

SaintJohnChurchMiddletown.com

Digest of Articles from Catholics Blogs and Websites
October 4, 2015

Twenty Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time:

The Sacrament of Matrimony

Recently, I attended a meeting about Catholic marriage that began by noting that over the last seven years there has been a significant decline in Catholic marriages, almost by 25%.  Since the Catholic population keeps growing, it is obvious that either many people are not aware of the obligation to get married in the Catholic Church or the concept of a Catholic marriage does not carry significant meaning in their lives. With the continual attack on marriage and the family by our society, and in light of the readings for this Sunday, I thought that this would be a good time to consider this sacrament.

…more

Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Mark 10: 2–16

Gospel Summary

Some Pharisees, wanting to involve Jesus in current controversies about divorce, ask him whether it is lawful for a husband to divorce his wife. Jesus replies that only because of the hardness of the human heart, Moses permitted a husband to write a bill of divorce and dismiss his wife. At the beginning, however, God created humans, male and female, to be joined together as one in marriage. Jesus says that what God has joined together, a man cannot separate by writing a bill of divorce. And if he attempts to do so and marries another woman after dismissing his wife, he commits adultery.

…more

Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time,

Year B—October 4, 2015

The Pharisees ask Jesus a question about divorce. Why did He answer their question with one of His own?

Gospel (Read Mk 10:2-16)

In Mk 10:1, we read that Jesus “went to the region of Judea and beyond the Jordan, and crowds gathered to Him again.” This tells us that Jesus left the northern territory of Galilee and returned to the area near Jerusalem and the Jordan River. “Beyond the Jordan” was a region also called “Perea.” It was governed by Herod Antipas and was the location of John the Baptist’s ministry. Knowing this helps us understand why the Pharisees asked Jesus a question about divorce to “test” Him. Recall that when John the Baptist preached against the divorces that Herod and his wife, Herodias, had obtained in order to leave their spouses and marry each other, he wound up in jail. The Pharisees were hoping the same thing could happen to Jesus if He took a similar stand. They were waiting for the trap to spring shut.

…more

The meaning of Creation

1. Who made us?
    God made us.
    In the beginning, God created heaven and earth. (Genesis 1:1)

2. Who is God?
    God is the Supreme Being, infinitely perfect, who made all things and 
    keeps them in existence.
    In him we live and move and have our being. (Acts 17:28)

3. Why did God make us?
    God made us to show forth His goodness and to share with us His
    everlasting happiness in heaven.
    Eye has not seen nor ear heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man,
    what things God has prepared for those who love him. (I Corinthians 2:9)

…more

Practical Steps to Love Jesus More Deeply

We live in difficult times as Catholics. Quite possibly it has always been this way. The culture sends messages to us that are very harmful to our spiritual life. If we have become blind to this truth, it is likely that we are pursuing success as defined by the secular world instead of pursuing the holiness God has called us to live.

Here is how the world measures success:

…more

Pope Francis to New York City: Jesus still walks our streets. Tell everyone!

Pope Francis on Friday had a brief, but urgent, reminder for the Catholics of New York City. They must proclaim the joy of God and remember to care for all those who go unnoticed in their metropolis, because they have seen the “great light” of Jesus Christ.

“Knowing that Jesus still walks our streets, that he is part of the lives of his people, that he is involved with us in one vast history of salvation, fills us with hope,” the Pope said during his homily at Mass at Madison Square Garden Sept. 25.

…more

Answer God’s Call Now, For You Never Know When He’ll Call Again

We never know when we’ll be called.

That’s the message that rang true in my heart as I meditated on Pope Francis’ homily during his private Mass with bishops, clergy, and religious at the Cathedral Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul in Philadelphia.

The Holy Father cited the example of St. Katherine Drexel’s calling by Pope Leo XIII. He related the story of Katherine approaching the elderly Pope and expressing her concern about the needs of the missions.

Pope Leo’s wise and thoughtful response to St. Katherine was, “And what about you? What are you going to do?”

Those words made Katherine realize that she was being called to do her part, changed her life and set her on the road to sanctity.

But, it’s not only the canonized saints who are called to do their part. It’s you and me as well.

…more

The Cross, Our Only Hope

While I was a student at the University of Notre Dame, I had the opportunity to get to know the men in the Congregation of Holy Cross. Under the patronage of Our Lady of Sorrows, the motto of the congregation is, “Ave crux, spes unica,” which translates to, “Hail, the cross – our only hope.”

As a college student, I was captivated by that rallying cry. It is a call to arms that defies the logic of the world we live in. Not only does it declare the cross to be a cause for hope, but it claims it to be our “only hope.” (And no, this is not an allusion to Star Wars, my fellow fans.)

…more

Are You Headed to Heaven or Hell?

There is a troubling phenomenon noted by several Doctors of the Church regarding the common waning of spiritual development after a period of progress. It often happens after a fervent soul makes notable gains against habitual mortal and then venial sin. It can also happen on the back side of any virtue-based victory.

The soul becomes satisfied with itself and then reaches for the cruise control button to relax at a pace that seems “reasonable.” Usually this “reasonable” pace is an easy one and though, at first glance, it is perceived as a continued commitment to progress, it may mark the beginning of a fall.

…more

The Angels and the Spiritual Life

The assistance of the angels that is given to the soul at Baptism is to continue throughout the whole course of its life. Not even sins can suppress it. They can only sadden the angel of the soul. But angels do not merely protect the soul against the attacks of the Devil; they also try to make it progress in the spiritual life. This is the first aspect under which the spiritual life appears in relation with the angels. On the other hand, following a teaching that has its source in the Gospel itself, the spiritual life appears as an imita­tion of the life of the angels and a participation in their life.

…more

A Grief Remembered

I have a memory of  the day my grandfather died in 1962. My father came home from the hospital where my grandfather was being treated for what we thought was a relatively minor ailment but he unexpectedly died.

I was waiting at my grandfather’s house with other family members when my dad came in the door. In his typical WASP way he told us that Granddad died then went to the basement of the house. We were stunned!

…more

Ten Reasons to Pray the Rosary

Motivation is the key to carrying out any worthy enterprise. Great men and great women have clear goals and strong motivations. They know what they want and they have a clear plan before their eyes.

CEO’s in successful companies know what they want, have goals, deadlines, and concrete steps to attain those goals. Professional athletes have a determined determination to win.  They study their opponents weak points, capitalize on their own strengths and play for victory.  Therefore, to attain to any goal there must be a clear plan and strong motivations.
…more

Where is Christ in All These?

I received a phone call during Holy Week two years ago from a lay Catholic group in Manila inviting me to give them a talk on the Seven Last Words of Jesus Christ on GoodFriday of that Lenten season. I told the host that it was an honor to give this talk and I would gladly do it. His next words left me speechless, “Father, we have this talk every Good Friday and we usually invite a particular bishop to give the talk, we pay all his travel and lodging expenses, and give him a stipend for the talk. We cannot afford all that this year so we are inviting you instead.” Zing! I never knew I had the reputation of being the cheap priest in town. I had great peace as I gave this talk to this group. But I cannot help but chuckle whenever I recall this conversation. God can even use humor to remind us of very important lessons in life.

…more

Three Virtues For A Happier Family Life and Better Relationship with God

Pope Francis’ visit for the World Meeting of Families has sort of had me sitting at home thinking how I can better serve my husband, my family, and the friends and families nearest to us.

Thankfully, Pope Francis has pretty much already spelled it out for us…

Six months ago, he gave a general audience reflecting on what makes for a happy family life, and his words were so simple, and yet also very profound. I keep coming back to them again and again, and now seems like the perfect time to think about them once more.

Pope Francis said there are three phrases that are key to building a happy family life.

They are:

…more

How Do You Know What Belongs in the Bible?

The most overlooked part of the Bible, apologetically speaking, is the table of contents. It does more than just tell us the pages on which the constituent books begin. It tells us that the Bible is a collection of books, and that implies a Collector. The identity of the Collector is what chiefly distinguishes the Protestant from the Catholic.
…more

The Four Mini-Gospels

I.
The Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit (Is 11:2,3).

1  Fear of the Lord
2.  Piety
3  Knowledge
4  Fortitude
5  Counsel
6  Understanding
7  Wisdom

II.
The Seven Beatitudes (Mt 5: 1-9). 

…more

The Urge to Prophesy

Back when I was in high school (Cascade High 1976: Home of the Bruins, School of Pride), one of the trendier ideas being talked about was Futurism — literally, the “study of the future.” I remember watching some film with Orson Welles narrating it at his most pompous “I am from the elite, and this is what we are all talking about at our wine and cheese parties” best. And being a dumb kid from the suburbs, I took him at his word because he had a beard, an important-sounding voice, and his thoughts seemed really smart, almost English smart, which, as every American high schooler knows, is as smart as a person can get. The only thing more potent than getting Welles to intone something about The Future was to get an English guy to do it. That more or less established whatever was being asserted as a Scientific Fact.

…more

“What is Truth?” Said the Scientist to the Theologian.

“Pilate therefore said to Him, ‘Are You a king then?’

Jesus answered, ‘You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.’
Pilate said to Him, ‘What is truth?’  And when he had said this, he went out again to the Jews, and said to them, ‘I find no fault in Him at all.’ ” John 18:37-38 (KJV)

…more

Speaking Truth

“This is great stuff!” the friend sitting next to me said, smacking the top of the bar to emphasize the point, which summoned the bartender over to ask if we wanted another round. My friend explained that he’d been talking about a book, but yes, now that you’re here we’ll have another.

An Old Testament scholar, he’d been raving about St. Augustine’s de Magistro and Augustine’s profound answers to questions about truth he was pursuing. Indeed, Augustine asked questions he had not known to ask. He said he had found himself, not by conscious intention and a little to his surprise, reading more and more of the classics—even, though he’s an Evangelical, St. Thomas—and fewer and fewer contemporary books. The old books answered the questions he was asking much better than the modern ones.

…more

Beyond Good & Evil

Somewhere in a novel by Louis-Ferdinand Céline is a description of the happiest man in the world. He is sitting in the rubble of an obliterated railway station, somewhere in Germany at the end of the War. Details of time and place are unimportant.

For the sun is shining, and the man has a crust of stale bread, and some dirty but drinkable water.

The moment is baked into my memory as if I’d seen it myself. Perhaps I have. For I’ve had, in a journalistic way, glimpses of refugees, especially those from Cambodia who crawled somehow into eastern Thailand in the time of the Khmer Rouge. Many arrived without having eaten for days.

Too, I have felt hunger myself, and can attest it is the best sauce.

…more

Are You Spiritually Neglecting Your Children?

Blessed Cardinal Newman once said that “Faith is illuminative, not operative; it does not force obedience, though it increases responsibility; it heightens guilt, but it does not prevent sin. The will is the source of action.” When you take a moment to analyze Blessed Newman’s words, they can easily be directed toward the spiritual relationship between parent and child.

…more

Catholicism: the Original Mega Church

This picture of Madison Square Garden last night reminded me of the pictures you sometimes see of Joel Osteen’s church and other mega churches.

Permit us a bit of triumphalism, but the Catholic Church is the original mega church.

We are full of faults and flaws because we are full of sinners, but a papal visit reminds the world that there are more people who care about religion than those who don’t and even in decline, the Catholic Church is a force to be reckoned with.

…more

SaintJohnChurchMiddletown.com

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Pastoral Sharings: "Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time"

WeeklyMessageHomily from Father Alex McAllister SDS  
24th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Posted for September 13, 2015

Jesus puts to his closest disciples a crucial question, “Who do people say that I am?” and then another even more to the point, “Who do you say that I am?”

These questions are at the very heart of the Gospel. If you take Gospels as a whole they give an account of the life of Jesus and explain his message; but having read and understood all this material about Jesus the question still hangs in the air, “Who do you say that I am?” 

It is a question for Peter, a question for the disciples and it is a question for each one of us. 

Of course, Peter gives absolutely the right answer, “You are the Messiah.” In St Matthew’s account Jesus goes on to tell Peter that he is a happy man because this was revealed to him by the Father and then continues with the familiar passage about Peter being the rock on which Christ will build his Church. 

This extra bit is not in either Mark’s or Luke’s account. In fact each of the Evangelists treats this particular exchange between Jesus and Peter in their own way and put it in different contexts. 

This is not something that should surprise us since we know that the Gospel writers were working quite a number of years after the events they are recording and were faced with a vast mass of material. They each tried to put the accounts handed down to them in a logical sequence so that it would be intelligible to their readers, hence the discrepancies between the different Gospels. 

Here Mark does not record Jesus making any remark about the truth of Peter’s statement of faith or the great blessing that this was for him.  

One explanation for this lack is that it is thought that one of the main sources for Mark’s Gospel was actually the preaching of Peter himself. If this is so, and Mark is more or less presenting what Peter said, then it is not surprising that he does not make a big thing of his profession of faith.

One can imagine that Peter in relating what happened on that day wants to emphasize what Jesus said and did that was most significant and so omits any praise he was given, as if not wanting to draw attention to himself. 

This statement of faith by Peter is actually followed in Mark’s Gospel, as we can see, by a rather dramatic prediction by Christ of his Passion. This is the first time he makes this prediction and it is all the more significant for that. It is followed by two other predictions which come in chapters nine and ten. 

Here in chapter eight Peter takes Jesus aside and remonstrates with him. This prediction of the Passion is quite incomprehensible to Peter and he cannot believe that anything like this could actually happen, but Jesus reproves him in the most severe terms.  

Then in the line about taking up one’s Cross and following him Jesus tells the disciples that death on the Cross or something very similar is not just going to be for him but for most of them as well.  

All in all this is a very salutary passage from the Gospel. Although not just salutary but significant as well since it contains the first unambiguous statement about Jesus being the long foretold Messiah and the first prediction of his Passion and Death. 

So what are we expected to take from this text? Well, the warning that each of us will face the Cross is crucial. We might not face the exact same circumstances as Christ but we know we are all going to face suffering and death.

The thing we should realize though is that embracing Christ as our Savior will mean that the suffering we will face in life will be redemptive; it will be one of the things which will help to bring us to eternal life. We should accept this as good news since it will benefit our eternal salvation. 

The traditional Catholic interpretation gives a very wide understanding to the Cross. Yes, it includes all the suffering and agony that is a natural part of life especially as we experience sickness and aging, but it includes many other things including all the irritations and problems that we will have to deal with in life.

Catholics regard all these things as being part of the Cross and realize that by consciously uniting them with the sufferings of Christ all of them can become redemptive. 

I am not saying that we should go out and seek suffering or bear pain when there are obvious ways of relieving it.

What I mean is that where we come up against unavoidable suffering then the best thing to do is to embrace it and to unite it with what Christ suffered on the Cross of Calvary. In this way it will rebound to our everlasting benefit and will actually help to build up the world. 

The same goes for the shortfalls and annoyances of others that we often have to experience. Sometimes the people closest to us have extremely irritating habits or do things that cause us aggravation or infuriation. These too can be offered up and so benefit us in eternal terms. 

By dealing with annoyances and the faults of others, and indeed our own faults, in this way we inevitably become more patient and tolerant human beings and this is something that brings a blessing on us and on everyone we live with.

  I think one of the most important lines in this particular text is where Jesus says to Peter, “The way you think is not God’s way but man’s.” 

I think that our biggest problem in dealing with our faith is to move from thinking in man’s way to thinking in God’s way. We are all too often preoccupied with ourselves, with our own interests and concerns. We find ourselves drawn to material solutions to our problems: if only I had more money, or buying this or that new thing will make me happier, or I’d like to get my own way at work or in the home. 

God sees things completely differently; his perspective is that of eternity. And this is the perspective we need to adopt. 

We need to look at our sufferings, our irritations and indeed our desires through the perspective of eternity. When we do this we see that our greatest concerns fade away and other values seem more important: values such as patience, endurance, hope, love and trust. 

It is these things that will bring us joy; it is these things that will lead us to life eternal.http://www.catholicwealdstone.org/wordpress/?p=2245

SaintJohnChurchMiddletown.com

Digest of Articles from Catholics Blogs and Websites
September 13, 2015

Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time: Which Peter Are We?

This Sunday’s Gospel reading is familiar, but it seems to be missing some verses.  We hear Jesus asking his disciple: “Who do people say I am.” We hear Peter’s answer, “You are the Christ,” but then Jesus moves on to speak about how he would suffer greatly.  We are missing something.  Actually, we are missing a lot. There are no references to Jesus changing Simon’s name to Peter, no references to Peter being the rock on which the Church will be built, no references to Peter being entrusted with the Keys of the Kingdom.  All this is found in the Gospel of Matthew, but today’s reading is from the Gospel of Mark. Mark’s gospel emphasizes the demands of Christianity.  For example, where in the Gospel of Matthew Jesus says, “Anyone who loses his life for my sake will find it.”  Mark expands this to “Anyone who loses his life for my sake and the sake of the gospel will save it.”  The good news of Jesus Christ demands sacrifice, even the sacrifice of our lives.
…more

Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Classic

Mark 8: 27–35
Gospel Summary

Today’s gospel passage gives us an account of the most critical turning-point in the public ministry of Jesus. The stage is set by the seemingly innocent questions of Jesus about his identity. Peter speaks for all the disciples when he declares confidently, “You are the Messiah.” In view of the miracles of Jesus in Galilee that would seem to be an obvious conclusion.

Jesus, however, is deeply disturbed by this answer and the reason is immediately revealed: “He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer greatly…” The clear implication is that he is not a Messiah in the political sense that the disciples understood. He is not interested in leading them into a war of liberation from the  Romans, but hopes instead to liberate them in a far more radical way from the bondage of sin and death.

…more

Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B—September 13, 2015

The disciples tell Jesus that people don’t know His true identity, but Peter, who did, was told not to tell them. Why?

Gospel (Read Mk 8:27-35)

St. Mark describes a conversation Jesus had with the disciples about His identity. He asked about the buzz on the street: “Who do people say that I am?” The answers were all wrong. Pressing the point, He asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter got it right: “You are the Christ.” One might think Jesus would be eager to get the misperceptions cleared up. Why not commission Peter, on the spot, to go out and spread the good news? Instead, “He warned them not to tell anyone about Him.” Curious.

…more

Meeting the Real Jesus – The question of who He was then can’t be separated from who He is today

You’ve heard of it, maybe: higher critical method, also called historical-critical method? It is the “tool” used in what is called the Quest for the Historical Jesus. As a method, it is a process of “deconstructing” the New Testament to get at the “real” Jesus of history, an attempt to reconstruct his earthly life to see if it matches up with what the Church says about him.

The essential question it asks is: Has the Church remembered Jesus accurately? Is there an actual continuity between a real Jesus, alive, teaching, and gathering followers, and a Jesus resurrected and exalted to God? Are both the same Jesus? It’s a way of asking “how did a nice Jewish boy like you end up savior of the world?”

…more

The Epic Quest for Eden

What must it have been like for the first man and woman, to be expelled from paradise?

Beyond the unbearable guilt, there was must have been the sheer horror of it all: banishment from the presence of God, not to mention from a habitable garden with abundant food to a world of scarcity and wild beasts. Then there was the terror of death.

Scripture itself says little of what went through the minds of Adam and Eve or their descendants as they contemplated the loss of Eden, and, with it, everlasting life.

But we don’t have to imagine: One of the oldest texts in the world gives us a moving depiction of one ancient king and his epic quest for Eden.

…more

Why Obedience Always Matters

At a recent Mass for college students in Manila, I began my homily by exclaiming, “God is good…!” and the students responded in unison and with great energy and enthusiasm, “All the time!” I then exclaimed, “All the time…!” and they responded with the same energy as before, “God is good!” My next statement had a completely different reaction from the previous ones. I said, “So God is good all the time; what about His commandments? Are they good for us all the time?” They were reluctant to answer in the affirmative with enthusiasm as they did before. We easily attest to God’s constant goodness but we are less convicted that His commandments are equally good for us all the time.

…more

Finding God’s Holy Presence … Everywhere

Hourly every weekday and frequently during weekends, I stop everything I’m doing for a few minutes of intercessory prayer. I have a constantly open invitation to friends, family, acquaintances, my Facebook community and, well, pretty much the whole world to pray for anyone’s particular needs. So I have a long list of folks for whom I pray.

For a long time, I opened those moments with words such as, “My God, please accept me into your Holy Presence.” I thought it would be cool to lift up the people on my list while surrounded by all God’s angels and saints – with God looking on.

Then, while praying with Psalm 139, these words grabbed my attention in a new way:

…more

Five Ways Catholics Can Make a Difference

Do we sometimes feel overwhelmed in the face of the relentless assault on the Church, our beliefs and our families by the media and modern culture? Is it difficult to stand up for what we believe? Do we ever feel like we can’t make a difference? Many Catholics I encounter are struggling through daily battles to live out their faith and protect their loved ones… all in the midst of very difficult economic climate. It would be easy to throw in the towel and give up or remain silent, but that is not an option for us. We are called to do more. We are called to be holy: “Therefore in the Church, everyone whether belonging to the hierarchy, or being cared for by it, is called to holiness, according to the saying of the Apostle: ‘For this is the will of God, your sanctification.’” (Lumen Gentium, Second Vatican Council, 39)

…more

Understanding Christ’s Temptation

After John the Baptist baptized Jesus, the Christ was called into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit where He humbled Himself so profoundly that in the company of wild beasts and beleaguered by ravenous hunger after a forty day fast, He suffered the devil’s temptations. Jesus’ reasons for doing this on our behalf are many concerning the economy of Salvation, but let us recognize at the least that this unmerited act of mercy is vital component of the Gospel message. Fr. Gerald Vann instructs us, “in its symbolism we can see represented the whole life and ministry of Jesus.” Indeed, Christ’s temptation in the wilderness is worthy of arduous study and has been a prominent subject of Biblical exegesis from the early Church until the present.

…more

Jerusalem Carmelites Live Where Jesus Once Prayed

JERUSALEM—“Welcome to our new reception room;” Sister Agathe offered her visitor a warm greeting. The nun is in charge of finances for the Carmelite Sisters’ convent on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem. Substantial renovations were just completed. Everything is clean and bright.

“The renovations help us to receive guests better, while at the same time protecting our enclosure,” the young French woman said. “After all, we usually do not leave the convent. However, many people come to us. We are deeply grateful to our benefactors and we can thank them best through our prayers.”

…more

Hidden Glory: beautiful birthplace of prayer

The glory of God shines though hidden in both the fleeting joys and the difficult exigencies of this life.  Divine immensity disguises itself in what seems small and inconsequential: the haunting glance of a despised and marginalized neighbor — whether threatened by danger or death, whether in the public square or in the womb. Hidden here is God’s self-disclosure in my neighbor.

In a single moment this mysterious glory can shake the heart from slumbering indifference.  In an instant, we are moved away from the temptation to simply pass by and into the overwhelming need to be implicated and inconvenienced by the plight before us – whether a young person aching to find some reason for their existence or someone disenchanted by the unrelenting cycle of this world’s misery.

…more

A Contemplation that Hears Heaven

Beyond every psychological experience in prayer, however enlightened it might be, there is a contemplation of the Gospel of Christ rooted in a whole new outpouring of truth. This ceaseless outpouring of love on broken humanity is always new because the Word of the Father, though unchanging, is never old. His voice echoes with unique and unrepeatable harmony – the harmony that causes all things to be, that saves them from every danger and that orders them all to their great purpose. Though hidden in weakness and vulnerable to every kind of evil, the Word constantly puts the eternal plan of the Father into motion.

…more

Balancing Justice and Mercy

In the realm of religion there seems to be two categories of people according to two personality types. The first you might call the merciful. They say with Jesus, “Neither do I condemn you.” The second are the judgmental. They scold the person saying, “Go and sin no more.” The first are inclined to be too soft and let people off the hook. The second demand that wrongdoing receive a just punishment. Those who follow the way of Jesus Christ must attempt the same balance he achieved in which the demand for justice is balanced by the need for mercy.

In two recent decisions Pope Francis has showed the world that the Catholic Church does the same work as Jesus Christ in the world today.

…more

A primer on where pope stands on gays, divorce, abortion

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis is expected to raise issues ranging from climate change to income inequality when he visits Cuba and the United States Sept. 19-27. Francis has launched an agenda of reform in the Vatican and in the global Church, prioritizing different issues, and counseling a more merciful message. Here’s a primer on where the pope stands on key issues.

…more

So what does the new annulment process mean?

Someone asked me this morning if I knew anyone personally who would benefit from the changes announced today, and I had to say, “Honestly, it’s all too new to tell.” I serve as an advocate in my diocese, helping newly divorced work their way through the annulment process; people who have already begun an annulment will likely have to continue under the old process, though, because the new law doesn’t take effect until December. And, frankly, I expect the rollout may have a glitch or two, as dioceses and their lawyers continue to figure it out.

But what are people saying about it all? Analysis is trickling in from all over.
…more

Preparing for the ‘Big Transfer’

My father grew up as an extremely poor child in South Boston (aka “Southie”). He basically lost his father at the age of 8 to heart disease. He was one of those boys who literally wore holes in his shoes and lined them with newspaper in order to keep pebbles out. He also experienced having to move from apartment to apartment in the middle of the night when they didn’t have enough money to pay the rent. And although he was one of the top students in his class, he was forced to leave school in the eighth grade in order to earn money to help support his family.

These experiences affected him deeply for the rest of his life. When he had children, he vowed that they would never experience that level of poverty and insecurity.

…more

Counting Prayer: We pray, and the mind, the intention, the awareness, all become rooted in that moment

A few years ago a friendly evangelical woman who had become a regular reader of my blog sent me an email.

She wrote that after several years of reading blogs and social media, she no longer thought of Catholics as idolaters. She was even becoming convinced that Mary, as the mother of the Christ, had a substantial and essential role to play in the salvation of the world, and is thus due appropriate homage. “I still can never approve of the Rosary, though,” she wrote, “because Jesus condemned it in Matthew 6:7, when he said, ‘… use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do.’”
She wondered how we Catholics can ignore that point of Scripture.

…more

Made to Complement

Our culture today often fights the distinctions between men and women, between the masculine head and the feminine heart of the family.

Contrary to certain secular opinions, husbands and wives and mothers and fathers cannot easily fulfill one another’s roles. As Christians, we know that the God-designed differences between men and women contribute to the enrichment of family life, as Pope Francis has been addressing in his general audiences.

God created men and women to complement one another, which works to our advantage in our spiritual lives and families. If married couples seek to capitalize on this complementarity, their efforts to be better spouses to each other and better spiritual leaders for their children work together with their God-given, natural inclinations, allowing them to better spiritually lead and love their families toward heaven.

…more

Ten Things That Make A Catholic Marriage Valid

Catholic marriage?

No. Frankly, you can’t Do it your Way.

I am constantly amazed at how many Catholics think it is perfectly okay to be plan a wedding service however they want it.

I’m sorry. If you are a Catholic you can’t do it your way. You have to do it the church’s way.

If you’re Catholic here are ten things that are required for your wedding to be valid:

…more

“Instruct the Ignorant”: The First Spiritual Work of Mercy

In preparation for the Jubilee Year of Mercy, Pope Francis has repeatedly stressed the importance of the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. In the Bull of Indiction he wrote, “It is my burning desire that, during this Jubilee, the Christian people may reflect on the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.”

He brought the subject up again in a letter to the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization. He gave his appeal even more weight by confirming the promise of a Jubilee Indulgence for performing such merciful acts:

…more

So Many Voices… Who Should I Listen To?

There are so many voices in our day claiming to speak to us with authority, it is no wonder that so many are confused and misled. These voices come to us through our news and talk-show media, our entertainment industry, our government, our schools and universities, our religion and even from our friends and associates. And even from the Blogosphere!

Sometimes, the cacophony is so overwhelming, I find myself simply wanting to press some magical mute button to shut it all out. But the reality is that the messages conveyed are often planted in our minds without a second thought and the consequences to us can be dire if we do not discern what is true from what is false.

…more

Is Hell Eternal?

Let me say right up front that I hope hell is not eternal.

I hope God finds a way to offer his forgiveness even to those who are in hell.

In fact, I’ll jump on the speculative theological bandwagon and propose that

God’s mercy–since it is everlasting–will extend even to hell.

…more

SaintJohnChurchMiddletown.com

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Pastoral Sharings: "Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time"

WeeklyMessage Homily from Father Alex McAllister SDS  
23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Posted for September 6, 2015
 

The miracles of Jesus never cease to make us wonder. If 
we were in the place of the onlookers on that day we too 
would be utterly amazed and our admiration would, like
theirs, be unbounded. 

And in a certain sense we today actually are onlookers to that miracle, even if at the distance of 2000 or so years. Down the ages those words resonate: He has done all things well, he makes the deaf hear and the dumb speak. 

Even as we read the words of the scriptures as they tell of that great miracle those words seem as if they were our own words; he certainly has done all things well! 

There is no doubt in our minds that Jesus was the Son of God and that he can perform great miracles, both when he walked this earth and indeed also in our own day. But miracles and signs and wonders are not really what Jesus is about. They are not his primary purpose. They are not what he came among us to achieve. 

What he came for was to give his life in sacrifice for our sins so that we might be saved and have the way to eternal life opened up for us. In other words, he came to bring us salvation. The miracles of Jesus are not, however, some sort of temporary sideshow in the life of Jesus. They are not merely incidental.   

They are filled with meaning because the miracles are signs indicating clearly who Jesus is. They also point to the salvation he brings us and let us know what form it takes. 

In the first reading we hear the prophecy of Isaiah which gives a list of the things that will accompany the coming of the Savior: the eyes of the blind will be opened, the ears of the deaf unsealed, the lame leap like a deer and the tongues of the dumb sing for joy.  

In performing miracles Jesus confirms these and other prophecies and shows himself definitively to be the Messiah so long expected. That he comes in a gentle and unobtrusive way, that he is a Messiah who refuses the trappings of power, that he is no conqueror but rather a peacemaker does not bring him to the attention of the religious authorities. 

They fail to recognize that he is the true Messiah but yet the signs are there if they would but only look. And that is what the miracles of Jesus are, signs. They are metaphors for the salvation he brings. In the Kingdom of God the dumb speak, the deaf hear, the lame walk, the possessed are freed, the sick healed, the water becomes wine, all are fed and the dead are raised to life. 

The particular aspects highlighted in today’s Gospel passage are speech and hearing. Jesus opened that man’s ears but in a real sense he opens all our ears. He opens them to the Word of God, to himself in other words. 

Jesus speaks to us. He does so in a myriad of ways: through his words in scripture, through the mouths of our brothers and sisters, through signs and events, and seeming coincidences in our own lives. He quite often has to break through a lot of barriers to make himself heard. We put up many obstacles such as our prejudices, our treasured opinions, our so-called experience. 

Frequently we actually make ourselves deaf to the Word of God, especially if we feel that on hearing it we might be obliged to make some changes in our lives. We easily delude ourselves into making exceptions to the Gospel to suit our own particular circumstances. 

Jesus, however, can break through all this. He only has to say ‘be opened’ and we will hear his saving words despite all the self-generated ‘wax’ that has blocked our ears for so long. 

But we do not have to wait for Jesus himself to decide to intervene. We can ask him now to help us to hear his Word. We can ask him to unblock our senses, enabling us to hear his Good News afresh. We can ask him to speak again to us in ways that we can easily understand. 

Here is a new prayer to add to your list: Lord, unblock my ears; help me to hear what you have to say to me.

And the dumb speak. It is not only our ears that need to be put to proper use but also our tongues. There are few people who are truly dumb. There are, however, a lot of us who put our tongues to improper use. 

The man in the miracle spoke clearly. The people took up the refrain and told everyone they could about what had happened. They praised God and proclaimed his wonders. 

God gave us the gift of speech to tell the truth and to make known the wonders of the salvation he won for us. Let our second prayer today be: Lord loosen my tongue so that I may bring your Good News to all I meet.  

We are speaking of a miracle that occurred when Jesus walked this earth. What about the miracles that he performs in our midst right now? We do not speak about them much and tend to think that the miraculous belongs to the past or to Lourdes or some other far off place. We don’t think much about miracles today here in Wealdstone. 

And if we don’t think about miracles we won’t expect them. And if we don’t expect them then we’ll fail to recognize them when they do occur. And if we don’t expect them then we would never think of asking for a miracle, a serious error indeed. 

If you were a priest you would frequently hear about miracles, not every day but often enough for you to realize that they are happening all around. Almost everyone you meet has a story to tell of some extraordinary intervention in their life. 

As a priest people tell you in private all sorts of remarkable things. Sometimes they realise the meaning of what has occurred, other times they are puzzled and need you to help them interpret these events. Very often the outsider can see what the person involved cannot, and often what is there to be seen is the hand of God working in a truly remarkable way in their lives. 

There are healings, there are divine interventions, there are extraordinary coincidences, and there are what at first seem to be terrible tragedies but which bring untold blessings in their wake. There are all sorts of things going on around us that can only be the work of God. 

Let our third prayer today be: Lord, help me to see your hand at work in the world and in my life.

If we frequently say this prayer, or one like it, we will begin to realize one of the most important truths of our religion: salvation is not something only for the end of the world, salvation is a present reality. 

The saving work of Christ is going on now in the present—his miracles are only the signs and indicators of it. We need to open our eyes and ears to see this great work being achieved among us and to loosen our tongues to tell the world about the glory of God that is being made manifest here and now.

Lord, unblock my ears; help me to hear what you have to say to me.
Lord, loosen my tongue so that I may bring your Good News to all I meet.
Lord, help me to see your hand at work in the world and in my life.
Amen
http://www.catholicwealdstone.org/wordpress/?p=2238.

SaintJohnChurchMiddletown.com

Digest of Articles from Catholics Blogs and Websites
September 6, 2015

Twenty-third Sunday of Ordinary Time:

Listen and Proclaim the Good News

He put his fingers into the man’s ears, and he spat and touched his tongue; and looking up to heaven, he sighed, and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” And the man’s ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. 

This was a sign of the Messiah.  Isaiah had said, in our first reading, that the eyes of the blind would be opened, the ears of the deaf be cleared, the lame would leap like a stag and the tongue of the mute would sing. The people realized that Jesus was performing these signs.  With a joy beyond comprehension, they realized that the Messiah was among them.

…more

Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time, Classic

Mark 7: 31–37

Gospel Summary

Jesus leaves the district of Tyre, and by way of Sidon goes into the district of the Decapolis. People beg him to cure a deaf man with a speech impediment. Jesus puts his finger into the man’s ears, touches the man’s tongue with his spittle, looks up to heaven, groans, and heals the man, saying, “Ephphatha!” (that is, “Be opened!”) The people are astonished and say, “He has done all things well. He makes the deaf hear and [the] mute speak.” 

…more

Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B—

September 6, 2015

When Jesus heals a deaf, mute man, He fulfills an old prophecy in a startling, unexpected way. How?

Gospel (Read Mk 7:31-37)

St. Mark describes for us an episode that took place while Jesus was ministering in a primarily Gentile region (the Decapolis). “People brought to Him a deaf man who had a speech impediment and begged Him to lay His hand on him.” We don’t know if these were Jews or Gentiles, but we do know that this was an earnest intercession for a needy person. Because so much of our own prayer lives, as well as that of the whole Church, is taken up with intercessions of exactly this sort, we would do well to pay careful attention to the outcome.

…more

We Are Saved by Christ, Not by Rules

Sometime back, the media got itself all in a tizzy about “the Vatican” supposedly issuing “seven new deadly sins”.  As one particularly egregious headline put it “Recycle or go to hell, warns Vatican”.

Given this view of the Faith, discussions in the press then break down into inane prattle about mortal and venial sin.  Here, for instance, is  Slate explaining it all for you:

…more

The Holy Bible and Sacred Tradition comprise the

Word of God

One of the “pillars” or founding principles of the Protestant Reformation is the teaching of Sola Scriptura. Simply defined, Sola Scriptura is the belief that the Bible alone is the sole rule of faith for the believer. In other words, if a teaching is not contained in the Bible, then it is to be rejected as having no authority over the individual Christian. Therefore, according to Sola Scriptura, the Church’s teachings (or a pastor’s—or anyone’s teachings, for that matter) are true only as far as they are found in the bible. Another aspect of Sola Scriptura is that each believer, guided by the Holy Spirit, will be led to the proper interpretation and understanding of what he reads in the Bible.

There are several problems with this teaching:

…more

To Teach as Jesus Taught – A Reflection on the Qualities of Jesus as Preacher and Teacher

As a priest I am called to preach and teach, and as such I must look to Jesus Christ as my model. In this I refer to the real Jesus of Scripture. Too many people today have refashioned Jesus into a sort of “harmless hippie,” an affable affirmer, a pleasant sort of fellow who healed the sick, blessed the poor, and talked about love but in a very fuzzy and “anything goes” manner. But absent from this image is the prophetic Jesus, who accepted no compromise and called out the hypocrisy in many of His day.

…more

Lessons From A Monastery: Love is a Call to Action

What does it mean to partake of the life of the Holy Trinity? What does it mean to have communion with God? Think of a married couple. In this marriage, the couple fulfills all their duties. They are good to each other, respectful. They build a home where all obligations on both sides are met. There is even love for one another. Years go by and nothing changes. The couple never grows in love nor do they ever try to know anything more about one another than what was necessary to begin the marriage. They never move beyond pleasantries in their marriage.

…more

Pope Francis: Families’ Faith and Love Can Change the World

VATICAN CITY — Encouraging families to hear God’s word and to put it into practice, Pope Francis said Wednesday that the family, by being allied with God, is called to counteract the “desertification” found in today’s cities.

“Our cities are becoming desertified for lack of love, for lack of smiles,” the Holy Father said, addressing the crowds gathered in St. Peter’s Square Sept. 2 for his general audience.

…more

Why Bother Attending Mass? Because Of Its Power

I hate the Sunday mornings when I am in such a bad mood as we leave the house until it has me questioning why we are even going to church in the first place.

Our morning starts off good enough, but then Leo gets into the cereal, spreading it all over the kitchen, while another one won’t share the brush, and someone else looks like they wore their church clothes to bed and then slept in them for three days, despite me telling them the night before to let me know if they need anything ironed. And then there is the argument that nearly causes World War III because someone looks at someone else in a wrong way. Then I come unglued and I start to yell. Meanwhile, as we are finally ready to get out the door (later than I had hoped), someone has lost their shoes and is in tears.

…more

What is mercy?

As we prepare for Pope Francis’ visit to the United States, we should also be preparing for the usual spin on his message.  One of the messages of Pope Francis that is often skewed is his call for mercy and compassion.  Mercy has definitely been a theme of Francis’ pontificate, as he repeatedly comes back to it in homilies and addresses, and has now called for the Jubilee Year of Mercy to be celebrated next year.  It’s one of the reasons the culture today loves him.  But sadly, many people love Pope Francis for what they think he’s saying, and it’s not always what he actually said.  Perhaps it’s because they only listen to part of what he’s said, or they’ve only heard his message from a third party, or they’ve misunderstood him completely.  But to many modern ears, the Pope’s call for mercy seems to be a carte blanche to do what the Church once condemned.

…more

Beware the Error of Those Who Proclaim Mercy Without Repentance

As we prepare for the Year of Mercy, a blessed declaration from our Holy Father to be sure, permit me to express one concern. Fundamentally it concerns a flawed notion of mercy that is widespread in the world today, and also to some extent in the Church.

A simple way of describing the problem is to say that one of the great errors of our day is the proclamation of mercy without repentance, without reference to our sinful condition. So many pulpits have gone silent on sin! And therefore they are silent on the true glory of mercy and the astonishing gift that it is! Ah, mercy! Divine mercy! Perfect mercy! But only when we know and acknowledge our sins can this joyful cry be deep and authentic.

…more

Tradition is not a four-letter word!

One of the great battle cries of the Protestant Reformation was “sola scriptura!”  Many thought that the Catholic Church had cluttered up the simple Christian faith by adding all sorts of practices, customs and doctrines over the centuries. They thought the Church in their day was guilty of exactly the same Pharisaical obsession with traditions condemned by Jesus in this Sunday’s gospel (Mark 7:1-23). The solution, it seemed, was simple. Let’s purify the Church by ditching all these traditions and keeping the Bible alone.

But if we read this portion of the Bible closely, the Lord is not telling us that tradition is a dirty word.  His apostle Paul, in fact, tells us in 2 Thessalonians 2:15 to “hold fast to the traditions you received from us, either by our word or by letter.”

…more

Blessed are the Pure of Heart – A Reflection on an Often Misunderstood Beatitude and Virtue

One of the beatitudes taught by Jesus is often misunderstood, largely due to the popular translations of it from the Greek text: “Blessed are the pure of heart,” or “Blessed are the clean of heart.” Let’s look at three facets of the beatitude: its fundamental meaning, its focus, and the freedom it gives.

…more

Forming A Healthy Conscience

Each one of us is born with and endowed with a singular conscience by which we are obliged to form, to cultivate, and to follow in order to live a richer and more moral life. However, this necessitates a properly formed conscience within the soul.

If we do not properly form a conscience we will most likely end up with a bad one, or what is more properly called a mal-formed conscience.  So, in order to arrive at a well formed conscience, it will take vigilance and ultimately reforming our soul to be properly ordered to the good.

…more

Without God, Everything is Permissible

“If God does not exist, everything is permitted.”

  Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

A civilization where belief in God is on the wane, is a civilization where people are merely objects and will be treated as such.  The greatest thinkers of the human race have understood this.  Benjamin Franklin, who was far from being an orthodox Christian, saw what the world would be like without religion in a letter dated December 13, 1757:
…more

He Delights in You

Pitter patter the little feet came running from around the corner at the sound of my voice. Being a grandmother is the next best thing to being a mom. While my husband of thirty-five years is always happy to see me, I might think he was after something if he ran to me every time he heard my voice. Experiencing such an enthusiastic display of love and authentic joy really puts a smile on my face and indescribable delight in my heart.

You can’t find this ready to serve at the local grocery store or field fresh from the farmer’s market. It is a pure, generous, free gift, which expects nothing in return. At least at twenty-two months anyway.

…more

Full-Time Mother: My Decision Of Vocation

I have recently taken the plunge of quitting my job and officially becoming a full-time mother. This might sound cliché on these circles of Catholic blogs, but for me, especially living in Portugal, it is outrageous. While about 29% of mothers stay at home in the USA, only 6.3% do so in Europe. Plus, Portugal has the lowest birth rate in Europe.

The Catholic Church is wonderfully diverse in the way people live their vocations. Whether to work outside the home or not is up to the woman, and both options are considered equally wonderful. There are working mom saints and “stay-at-home mom” saints. Yet in this anti-motherhood culture, the right to stay at home should be not only valued but defended.

…more

Truth and Consequences

The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us, in paragraph 2051, that apart from the teaching authority of the Church, it is impossible to maintain the “saving truths of the faith:”

The infallibility of the Magisterium of the Pastors extends to all the elements of doctrine, including moral doctrine, without which the saving truths of the faith cannot be preserved, expounded, or observed.

Too many Catholics take for granted the great gift of the Magisterium of the Bishops in union with the Bishop of Rome that has safeguarded the truth of the Faith for 2,000 years. In fact, there is no human way to explain the reality of “one Lord, one faith, one baptism” (Eph. 4:5) that we have experienced in the Catholic Church for two millennia apart from this supernatural gift. But perhaps even fewer of us consider some of the consequences that have come as a result of the absence of this great gift.

…more

Love, Honor and Obey

From the time of my first Communion in 1964 to the turbulent 1970s of my adolescence, the Catholic family values I learned as a child had been all but replaced with an attractive new ideology of “free love” and contraception. It wasn’t long before I followed the popular wisdom of the sexual revolution into personal disaster: My involvement with an older man ended with a pregnancy and a secret abortion. After that life-shattering event, I found myself on a path of self-destruction that ultimately led to a second abortion.

Some years later, I settled in with the man who would become my husband. When we started to think about having children, we finally decided to marry, a second marriage for him. Within the next three years, our daughter and son were born.

Witnessing the miracle of my children’s births brought tremendous joy, but also awoke buried sorrow and regret for my abortions.

…more

Pope Francis: Families’ Faith and Love Can Change the World

VATICAN CITY — Encouraging families to hear God’s word and to put it into practice, Pope Francis said Wednesday that the family, by being allied with God, is called to counteract the “desertification” found in today’s cities.

“Our cities are becoming desertified for lack of love, for lack of smiles,” the Holy Father said, addressing the crowds gathered in St. Peter’s Square Sept. 2 for his general audience.

…more

Why Bother Attending Mass? Because Of Its Power

I hate the Sunday mornings when I am in such a bad mood as we leave the house until it has me questioning why we are even going to church in the first place.

Our morning starts off good enough, but then Leo gets into the cereal, spreading it all over the kitchen, while another one won’t share the brush, and someone else looks like they wore their church clothes to bed and then slept in them for three days, despite me telling them the night before to let me know if they need anything ironed. And then there is the argument that nearly causes World War III because someone looks at someone else in a wrong way. Then I come unglued and I start to yell. Meanwhile, as we are finally ready to get out the door (later than I had hoped), someone has lost their shoes and is in tears.

…more

What is mercy?

As we prepare for Pope Francis’ visit to the United States, we should also be preparing for the usual spin on his message.  One of the messages of Pope Francis that is often skewed is his call for mercy and compassion.  Mercy has definitely been a theme of Francis’ pontificate, as he repeatedly comes back to it in homilies and addresses, and has now called for the Jubilee Year of Mercy to be celebrated next year.  It’s one of the reasons the culture today loves him.  But sadly, many people love Pope Francis for what they think he’s saying, and it’s not always what he actually said.  Perhaps it’s because they only listen to part of what he’s said, or they’ve only heard his message from a third party, or they’ve misunderstood him completely.  But to many modern ears, the Pope’s call for mercy seems to be a carte blanche to do what the Church once condemned.

…more

Beware the Error of Those Who Proclaim Mercy Without Repentance

As we prepare for the Year of Mercy, a blessed declaration from our Holy Father to be sure, permit me to express one concern. Fundamentally it concerns a flawed notion of mercy that is widespread in the world today, and also to some extent in the Church.

A simple way of describing the problem is to say that one of the great errors of our day is the proclamation of mercy without repentance, without reference to our sinful condition. So many pulpits have gone silent on sin! And therefore they are silent on the true glory of mercy and the astonishing gift that it is! Ah, mercy! Divine mercy! Perfect mercy! But only when we know and acknowledge our sins can this joyful cry be deep and authentic.

…more

Tradition is not a four-letter word!

One of the great battle cries of the Protestant Reformation was “sola scriptura!”  Many thought that the Catholic Church had cluttered up the simple Christian faith by adding all sorts of practices, customs and doctrines over the centuries. They thought the Church in their day was guilty of exactly the same Pharisaical obsession with traditions condemned by Jesus in this Sunday’s gospel (Mark 7:1-23). The solution, it seemed, was simple. Let’s purify the Church by ditching all these traditions and keeping the Bible alone.

But if we read this portion of the Bible closely, the Lord is not telling us that tradition is a dirty word.  His apostle Paul, in fact, tells us in 2 Thessalonians 2:15 to “hold fast to the traditions you received from us, either by our word or by letter.”

…more

Blessed are the Pure of Heart – A Reflection on an Often Misunderstood Beatitude and Virtue

One of the beatitudes taught by Jesus is often misunderstood, largely due to the popular translations of it from the Greek text: “Blessed are the pure of heart,” or “Blessed are the clean of heart.” Let’s look at three facets of the beatitude: its fundamental meaning, its focus, and the freedom it gives.

…more

Forming A Healthy Conscience

Each one of us is born with and endowed with a singular conscience by which we are obliged to form, to cultivate, and to follow in order to live a richer and more moral life. However, this necessitates a properly formed conscience within the soul.

If we do not properly form a conscience we will most likely end up with a bad one, or what is more properly called a mal-formed conscience.  So, in order to arrive at a well formed conscience, it will take vigilance and ultimately reforming our soul to be properly ordered to the good.

…more

Without God, Everything is Permissible

“If God does not exist, everything is permitted.”

  Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

A civilization where belief in God is on the wane, is a civilization where people are merely objects and will be treated as such.  The greatest thinkers of the human race have understood this.  Benjamin Franklin, who was far from being an orthodox Christian, saw what the world would be like without religion in a letter dated December 13, 1757:
…more

He Delights in You

Pitter patter the little feet came running from around the corner at the sound of my voice. Being a grandmother is the next best thing to being a mom. While my husband of thirty-five years is always happy to see me, I might think he was after something if he ran to me every time he heard my voice. Experiencing such an enthusiastic display of love and authentic joy really puts a smile on my face and indescribable delight in my heart.

You can’t find this ready to serve at the local grocery store or field fresh from the farmer’s market. It is a pure, generous, free gift, which expects nothing in return. At least at twenty-two months anyway.

…more

Full-Time Mother: My Decision Of Vocation

I have recently taken the plunge of quitting my job and officially becoming a full-time mother. This might sound cliché on these circles of Catholic blogs, but for me, especially living in Portugal, it is outrageous. While about 29% of mothers stay at home in the USA, only 6.3% do so in Europe. Plus, Portugal has the lowest birth rate in Europe.

The Catholic Church is wonderfully diverse in the way people live their vocations. Whether to work outside the home or not is up to the woman, and both options are considered equally wonderful. There are working mom saints and “stay-at-home mom” saints. Yet in this anti-motherhood culture, the right to stay at home should be not only valued but defended.

…more

Truth and Consequences

The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us, in paragraph 2051, that apart from the teaching authority of the Church, it is impossible to maintain the “saving truths of the faith:”

The infallibility of the Magisterium of the Pastors extends to all the elements of doctrine, including moral doctrine, without which the saving truths of the faith cannot be preserved, expounded, or observed.

Too many Catholics take for granted the great gift of the Magisterium of the Bishops in union with the Bishop of Rome that has safeguarded the truth of the Faith for 2,000 years. In fact, there is no human way to explain the reality of “one Lord, one faith, one baptism” (Eph. 4:5) that we have experienced in the Catholic Church for two millennia apart from this supernatural gift. But perhaps even fewer of us consider some of the consequences that have come as a result of the absence of this great gift.

…more

Love, Honor and Obey

From the time of my first Communion in 1964 to the turbulent 1970s of my adolescence, the Catholic family values I learned as a child had been all but replaced with an attractive new ideology of “free love” and contraception. It wasn’t long before I followed the popular wisdom of the sexual revolution into personal disaster: My involvement with an older man ended with a pregnancy and a secret abortion. After that life-shattering event, I found myself on a path of self-destruction that ultimately led to a second abortion.

Some years later, I settled in with the man who would become my husband. When we started to think about having children, we finally decided to marry, a second marriage for him. Within the next three years, our daughter and son were born.

Witnessing the miracle of my children’s births brought tremendous joy, but also awoke buried sorrow and regret for my abortions.

…more

Pope Francis: Families’ Faith and Love Can Change the World

VATICAN CITY — Encouraging families to hear God’s word and to put it into practice, Pope Francis said Wednesday that the family, by being allied with God, is called to counteract the “desertification” found in today’s cities.

“Our cities are becoming desertified for lack of love, for lack of smiles,” the Holy Father said, addressing the crowds gathered in St. Peter’s Square Sept. 2 for his general audience.

…more

Why Bother Attending Mass? Because Of Its Power

I hate the Sunday mornings when I am in such a bad mood as we leave the house until it has me questioning why we are even going to church in the first place.

Our morning starts off good enough, but then Leo gets into the cereal, spreading it all over the kitchen, while another one won’t share the brush, and someone else looks like they wore their church clothes to bed and then slept in them for three days, despite me telling them the night before to let me know if they need anything ironed. And then there is the argument that nearly causes World War III because someone looks at someone else in a wrong way. Then I come unglued and I start to yell. Meanwhile, as we are finally ready to get out the door (later than I had hoped), someone has lost their shoes and is in tears.

…more

What is mercy?

As we prepare for Pope Francis’ visit to the United States, we should also be preparing for the usual spin on his message.  One of the messages of Pope Francis that is often skewed is his call for mercy and compassion.  Mercy has definitely been a theme of Francis’ pontificate, as he repeatedly comes back to it in homilies and addresses, and has now called for the Jubilee Year of Mercy to be celebrated next year.  It’s one of the reasons the culture today loves him.  But sadly, many people love Pope Francis for what they think he’s saying, and it’s not always what he actually said.  Perhaps it’s because they only listen to part of what he’s said, or they’ve only heard his message from a third party, or they’ve misunderstood him completely.  But to many modern ears, the Pope’s call for mercy seems to be a carte blanche to do what the Church once condemned.

…more

Beware the Error of Those Who Proclaim Mercy Without Repentance

As we prepare for the Year of Mercy, a blessed declaration from our Holy Father to be sure, permit me to express one concern. Fundamentally it concerns a flawed notion of mercy that is widespread in the world today, and also to some extent in the Church.

A simple way of describing the problem is to say that one of the great errors of our day is the proclamation of mercy without repentance, without reference to our sinful condition. So many pulpits have gone silent on sin! And therefore they are silent on the true glory of mercy and the astonishing gift that it is! Ah, mercy! Divine mercy! Perfect mercy! But only when we know and acknowledge our sins can this joyful cry be deep and authentic.

…more

Tradition is not a four-letter word!

One of the great battle cries of the Protestant Reformation was “sola scriptura!”  Many thought that the Catholic Church had cluttered up the simple Christian faith by adding all sorts of practices, customs and doctrines over the centuries. They thought the Church in their day was guilty of exactly the same Pharisaical obsession with traditions condemned by Jesus in this Sunday’s gospel (Mark 7:1-23). The solution, it seemed, was simple. Let’s purify the Church by ditching all these traditions and keeping the Bible alone.

But if we read this portion of the Bible closely, the Lord is not telling us that tradition is a dirty word.  His apostle Paul, in fact, tells us in 2 Thessalonians 2:15 to “hold fast to the traditions you received from us, either by our word or by letter.”

…more

Blessed are the Pure of Heart – A Reflection on an Often Misunderstood Beatitude and Virtue

One of the beatitudes taught by Jesus is often misunderstood, largely due to the popular translations of it from the Greek text: “Blessed are the pure of heart,” or “Blessed are the clean of heart.” Let’s look at three facets of the beatitude: its fundamental meaning, its focus, and the freedom it gives.

…more

Forming A Healthy Conscience

Each one of us is born with and endowed with a singular conscience by which we are obliged to form, to cultivate, and to follow in order to live a richer and more moral life. However, this necessitates a properly formed conscience within the soul.

If we do not properly form a conscience we will most likely end up with a bad one, or what is more properly called a mal-formed conscience.  So, in order to arrive at a well formed conscience, it will take vigilance and ultimately reforming our soul to be properly ordered to the good.

…more

Without God, Everything is Permissible

“If God does not exist, everything is permitted.”

  Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

A civilization where belief in God is on the wane, is a civilization where people are merely objects and will be treated as such.  The greatest thinkers of the human race have understood this.  Benjamin Franklin, who was far from being an orthodox Christian, saw what the world would be like without religion in a letter dated December 13, 1757:
…more

He Delights in You

Pitter patter the little feet came running from around the corner at the sound of my voice. Being a grandmother is the next best thing to being a mom. While my husband of thirty-five years is always happy to see me, I might think he was after something if he ran to me every time he heard my voice. Experiencing such an enthusiastic display of love and authentic joy really puts a smile on my face and indescribable delight in my heart.

You can’t find this ready to serve at the local grocery store or field fresh from the farmer’s market. It is a pure, generous, free gift, which expects nothing in return. At least at twenty-two months anyway.

…more

Full-Time Mother: My Decision Of Vocation

I have recently taken the plunge of quitting my job and officially becoming a full-time mother. This might sound cliché on these circles of Catholic blogs, but for me, especially living in Portugal, it is outrageous. While about 29% of mothers stay at home in the USA, only 6.3% do so in Europe. Plus, Portugal has the lowest birth rate in Europe.

The Catholic Church is wonderfully diverse in the way people live their vocations. Whether to work outside the home or not is up to the woman, and both options are considered equally wonderful. There are working mom saints and “stay-at-home mom” saints. Yet in this anti-motherhood culture, the right to stay at home should be not only valued but defended.

…more

Truth and Consequences

The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us, in paragraph 2051, that apart from the teaching authority of the Church, it is impossible to maintain the “saving truths of the faith:”

The infallibility of the Magisterium of the Pastors extends to all the elements of doctrine, including moral doctrine, without which the saving truths of the faith cannot be preserved, expounded, or observed.

Too many Catholics take for granted the great gift of the Magisterium of the Bishops in union with the Bishop of Rome that has safeguarded the truth of the Faith for 2,000 years. In fact, there is no human way to explain the reality of “one Lord, one faith, one baptism” (Eph. 4:5) that we have experienced in the Catholic Church for two millennia apart from this supernatural gift. But perhaps even fewer of us consider some of the consequences that have come as a result of the absence of this great gift.

…more

Love, Honor and Obey

From the time of my first Communion in 1964 to the turbulent 1970s of my adolescence, the Catholic family values I learned as a child had been all but replaced with an attractive new ideology of “free love” and contraception. It wasn’t long before I followed the popular wisdom of the sexual revolution into personal disaster: My involvement with an older man ended with a pregnancy and a secret abortion. After that life-shattering event, I found myself on a path of self-destruction that ultimately led to a second abortion.

Some years later, I settled in with the man who would become my husband. When we started to think about having children, we finally decided to marry, a second marriage for him. Within the next three years, our daughter and son were born.

Witnessing the miracle of my children’s births brought tremendous joy, but also awoke buried sorrow and regret for my abortions.

…more

SaintJohnChurchMiddletown.com

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment