Saturday, March 03, 2007

Mental Prayer for March 4, Vocation to Parenthood

Mental Prayer Meditation Helps

Presence of God

Grace I Ask: Holy Trinity, that I may see mar­riage through your eyes.

Mental Picture: See the Holy Trinity talking over the creation of man. "How shall we people the earth? Shall we keep creation for ourselves? No, let us have man help us; let him have some of our power. Let us make man and woman to be help­mates to each other. Let us make man and woman so they need each other to complete them­selves. Let them help each other to find their way back to us. Let us bless their cooperation and love with our own sublime power of giving life, with a share in the creation of people for the earth with souls that will one day be with us."

My Personal Application: Do I look at marriage as a way of saving souls, my soul and the soul of my spouse? Do I see that God's intention in mar­riage is to bless the love of a man and woman with a great trust: bringing new life into the world for heaven? In marriage a man and woman sanctify themselves through their love for each other, and by that very love, bring forth new life which they can teach to love the good God.

I Speak to God: Dear God, my Father, and holy Mary, my Mother, help me to see the wonderful vocation of parenthood as you do. Teach me to see the folly of the world's view of marriage as only sentimental or worse, changable, even as purely selfish. Help me to see marriage as a means of sanctity for myself and my future spouse, and as a way to cooperate in filling heaven with souls for your glory.

Thought for Today: My God, teach me that love is a way to sanctity.
Adapted from Mental Prayer, Challenge to the Lay Apostle
by The Queen's Work,(© 1958)

The Transfiguration

The Transfiguration marked a climax in the public life of Christ. It was the synthesis and summary of His Divine claims. False Judaism had despised and rejected Him. "He came unto His own and His own received Him not." Now true Judaism in the persons of Moses and Elias, the law and the Prophets, the embodiment of all revelation and inspiration of the past, is invoked to acknowledge and adore Him. But greater testimony than that of the elect of earth is requisite. The infinite dignity of the Divine Victim demands it. The majesty of heaven is concerned and the Godhead in all three Persons intervenes, the Father by His declaration, the Son by His glory, and the Holy Ghost by His manifestations. Other earthly heights had been the theater of sacrosanct happenings, but Thabor is preeminently the Holy Mount for the sublimity of the vision it has witnessed and the measureless significance and stupendous solemnity of the events it has known.

Various reasons are given for the fitness of the mystery of the Transfiguration, but the proximate and, according to St. Leo and other holy doctors, the principal aim was to confirm the Apostles against the scandal of the Cross, so that the humiliation of our Lord's voluntary Passion might not perturb the faith of those who had witnessed the excellence of His hidden dignity. The years of Christ's public life were drawing to a close. In a short time He would be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified. He had already foretold His disciples of His approaching sufferings and death, but "Foolish and slow of heart to believe in all things which the prophets had spoken," the allusion to such a dread possibility only filled them with misgivings and dejection. This condition of mind on the part of the disciples was not due to any lack of faith in their Master. They believed Him to be the Son of the living God, but the element of faith in them was tinctured by their natural inclinations and yearnings, and their spiritual vision was, accordingly restricted. They had erroneous views concerning the Kingdom He had come on earth to establish, not yet realizing that His Kingdom was not of this world.

With all the ardor of their race they cherished the hope of seeing Israel restored to her place of power and pride among the nations, and they were also in expectation of being themselves rewarded with positions of dignity and authority in the new regal government. The death of Christ would constitute the destruction of their ambitious designs, as it was to Him they looked for their accomplishment. To further disillusion the witnesses doubtless it was that the converse, which St. Luke tells us Christ held with Moses and ,Elias, concerned His decease to which He again referred, and in still plainer terms, when on the descent from the Mount He enjoined secrecy till the Son of Man be risen from the dead. Because of their greater zeal and devotion, Peter, James and John were His best beloved and singularly favored disciples. They were the chosen witnesses of His Transfiguration, as they had been of other striking incidents in His life. They alone would be with Him in Gethsemane and witness His agony. The memory of Thabor rendering them so conscious of the wonderful condescension and excess of love which led the Majesty of heaven to hide itself in human form and to suffer the death of the Cross would strengthen them against the ignominy of that sacrilegious tragedy which the enemies of Christ devised, to overwhelm His Kingdom with destruction and to cover His followers with disgrace. But there was an ulterior and a more significant reason for the Transfiguration.

The glimpse of luminous and ravishing beauty which our Lord permitted the Apostles was in part an image of the wonderful transformation the bodies of the just will undergo at the resurrection; and this, it was intended, would animate them to support with constancy and courage the trials and persecutions they would have to undergo in the execution of the work for which He had destined them, in the hope of sharing a like glory with Him in His heavenly kingdom. After the descent of the Holy Ghost, the Apostles with minds no longer dimmed by visions of earthly greatness, but elevated to a true appreciation of the supernatural, turned to Thabor as a source of inspiration, hope and joy. Long years after the Transfiguration we find St. Peter exhorting the faithful to greater fervor and faith in virtue of that glorious event, assuring them that when he had made known to them the power and presence of Jesus Christ, he did not follow cunningly devised fables, but had been made an eyewitness of His majesty on the Holy Mount.

And St. John concludes the sublime exordium of his Gospel with the memory of Thabor suggesting the exquisite passage: "We have seen the glory, the glory as it were of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." Thabor, and more especially the endless bliss which its glory imaged, was the light that shone for the Apostles, one and all, until their day star arose. It infused into their souls an ardor that no time nor place nor circumstance could diminish. It impelled them to deeds of most heroic daring. It beamed for them in the gloom of the prison and in the dreariness of the desert places. It was their mainstay in privations, perils and persecutions; in torture, contempt and death.

The Transfiguration holds the same lesson for us: It inspires the same hope and points to the same reward. God has solemnly pledged Himself to give eternal life to all who love and serve Him on earth. The love and service which God demands are rendered in a pilgrimage of which conflict and suffering are inseparable concomitants. From the first cry in infancy to the last sigh of agony the path of life is filled with many miseries. The clouds of sorrow are hovering everywhere. Sometimes they threaten from afar. Sometimes, unexpectedly, they come dismal and dense, blinding the vision and rending the heart. Yet we must suffer and contend. It is our portion ordained by an All Wise Providence as a punishment for sin and a means of Salvation. Natural virtue alone is inadequate to support many of the ills of life. There are griefs which no human power can assuage and afflictions for which no human sympathy can bring consolation. But Thabor and Calvary stand not far apart. The glory of one mingles with the gloom of the other. The sufferings and death of Christ are our hope. By them He has purchased for us the rewards of Eternal life. Our life and light, our joy and hope, spring from His grave. If we must suffer, we need not suffer in vain; and if we must sorrow, we need not sorrow as those who have no hope.

There are some who suffer like the penitent thief and some like the impenitent thief. But, as the Cure of Ars pointedly remarks, one knew how to make his sufferings meritorious; he accepted them in the spirit of resignation, and, turning to Jesus crucified, received from Him these beautiful words, "This day thou shalt be with Me in Paradise." The other, on the contrary, cried out, uttered imprecations and blasphemies and expired in the most frightful despair.

Calvary, or the way of the Cross, is our road to Thabor. If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow me (Matthew. 16:24), was the admonition of Christ to His disciples just a few days before the Transfiguration. "If thou carry the Cross willingly;" says the author of the Imitation, "it will carry thee, and bring thee to thy desired end, where there will be an end of suffering. There is no health of soul, nor hope of eternal life, but in the Cross." Wherefore if we die with Christ we shall live with Him; and if we be His companions in suffering we shall be His companions in glory.

It was the hope of enjoying eternal glory with a body free from suffering, that animated and sustained holy Job amid the terrible calamities and afflictions with which he was visited. How inspiring are his beautiful words: "I know that my Redeemer lives, and that on the last day I shall rise out of the earth, and I shall be clothed again with my skin, and in my flesh I shall see my Lord. This my hope is laid up in my bosom." The world marvels at the patience and resignation of Job. The saints imitate him. The same desire founded on the same hope causes them to become fools for Christ and to regard present tribulation as momentary and light, knowing that it works above measure exceedingly and eternal weight of glory.

Wretched indeed are those on whose labors the light of Thabor never shines. They fill up their measure of time, deprived of the most precious hope and the greatest consolation it is given to mortals to know. These are they of whom holy Job has said "Tribulation shall terrify them and distress shall surround them." They suffer like the impenitent thief; and when suffering has no motive but the endurance of pain it becomes intolerable. They refused to drink of the chalice with Christ, and now they must drain their portion of gall and. wormwood to the dregs. It is inexpressibly sad to contemplate the miseries of such souls weighted with burdens and sorrows, without a ray of heavenly light to cheer them or a tribute of earthly power to relieve them. But "What things a man sows, those shall he reap" (Gal. 11:8).

We can not hope to escape tribulation and sorrow in this life, but we can make them meritorious and earn by them the rewards of eternal life. We can drink of the chalice of the Lord lovingly. We can unite them with His and bear them patiently for His sake. The heaviest burden becomes light and the most bitter yoke sweet when endured for Christ. Thus will the glory of Thabor or the still greater glory it imaged, dispel the gloom of our calvaries. It will be our solace in sorrow, it will give patience in adversity and infuse a hope that will live through the darkest hours of affliction. It will help us to realize more sensibly and to appreciate more fully the import of St. Paul's divinely inspired words, "That the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory to come, that shall be revealed in us” (Rom. 13:18).

The Transfiguration did not disclose any of the essential glory of the Divine nature which cannot be seen by mortal eyes, but a ray of one of the qualities of glory proper to the sacred humanity of our Lord, which would always cause "His face to shine as the sun," if this effect were not suspended during His lifetime for the sake of the work of redemption. The accidental glory of God may be increased or diminished, but His substantial glory endures forever. With Him there is no "change or shadow of change." A cloud will obscure the brightness of the sun, but behind the cloud the sun still shines. We may descend into the caverns of the earth, and we cease to feel the warmth of the sun's rays and to feast our eyes on the features of the landscape they embellish. Above us still, but now no longer visible, are the same glow of the sunshine and the same scenes of beauty. The sun, constant in his own intrinsic glory and ceaseless in his wonted influence, proceeds on his course, from year to year, from day to day, from minute to minute, never losing his bearings, never arriving a moment late at his appointed places. So with the Sun of Justice. We may change in our relations to Him. Our visions may be obscured by other objects. We may hide ourselves from His light, but He was in the plenitude of His perfections in the beginning, is now, and forever shall be.

It was a very great favor for Peter, James and John to have been taken up to the Holy Mount to hear the voice of the Father, to gaze upon the rapturous beauty of the Son, and to witness the manifestations of the Holy Ghost in the bright cloud that overshadowed them. Prostrate in the very presence of the Triune God, the privileged witnesses of a scene earth had never known might well exclaim with Jacob: "How terrible is this place; this is no other than the house of God and the gate of heaven (Gen. 28:17). But we should do violence to the teachings of faith and reason, were we not to feel that the unseen God whose voice was audible on Thabor is just as close to us every moment of our existence as He was to the Apostles when He proclaimed the glory of His well-beloved Son. Everything in nature, animate and inanimate, attests the living presence of God. He permeates all space. The universe is only His shadow. We are surrounded and immersed In the ocean of His immensity. "In Him we live, move, and have our being." "Whither shall I go from Thy Spirit? Or whither shall I fly from Thy face? If I ascend into heaven Thou art there; if I descend into hell Thou art present. If I take my wings early in the morning and dwell in the uttermost ends of the sea even there also shall Thy hand lead me; and Thy right hand shall hold me" are the beautiful and expressive words of the Psalmist contemplating the Omnipresence and Providence of God (Ps. 138:7-10).

We should fail to appreciate the first principles of our holy religion were we to forget that we have been made the living temples of the Holy Ghost; that He is the source of our supernatural life; that we are the recipients of His most precious gifts; that He illuminates our intellects, strengthens our wills and floods our hearts with the fire of His love in an unseen but as real a manner as He manifested Himself to the three on Thabor or to the eleven on Pentecost Sunday.

We should be ungrateful for the sufferings and unmindful of the merits of Christ were we not to acknowledge ourselves the recipients of a greater favor than He accorded on Thabor to the chosen witnesses of the Transfiguration, by the abiding testimony of love He has given us in the Sacrament of the Blessed Eucharist.

We cannot, like Peter, James and John accompany Him to Thabor or to Calvary, but we can give other proofs of our devotion, gratitude and love. We can often come to visit Him in His dwelling places where, beneath the Sacramental veil, He is present in all the majestic glory of Thabor and the condescending humility and excess of love of Calvary. We can often partake of the banquet of His own Body and Blood, to which He invites us in the most persuasive and pressing manner. "Come to me all who labor, and are burdened, and I will refresh you." "He who comes to me shall not hunger." "How lovely are Thy tabernacles, O Lord" where, with eyes of faith, we behold the glory of the Begotten of the Father, and experience the effects of love greater than which no man has!
Adapted from Plain Sermons by Practical Preachers, Vol. II(©1916)
Homily by Rev J. J. Hurst
Nihil Obstat: Remegius Lafort, S.T.D
Imprimatur: John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York

2nd Sunday of Lent-Temporal Duties to Parents

"This is My Son, My Chosen; listen to Him!" St. Luke, 9:35.

Circumstances seem to indicate that this story happened in Russia. There was a great famine. Crops had failed for several years and people were starving by the thousands. A young king of the time had the idea that only young people were of any value. He had no respect for old people. They were worse than useless when food was scarce; they ate what might feed the young and healthy.

In the third year of the famine this foolhardy ruler made a heartless proposal: "Let us drown all the old people. They are no good to anybody. They are a drag."

"Suppose," asked one young advisor, "that the friends or children of an old person hide him?"

"Then," declared the king, "he who hides him shall be put to death with the one who is hidden. Those are my orders. Go carry them out."

And the orders were fulfilled, with a cry of woe rising in every corner of the land. Three young men, brothers, came to their aged father with the dreadful news.

"So be it, my boys," the old man sighed, "my life is nearly over. If I go away there will be more food for you."

"No, father," they cried, "we will not obey the king's order."

They pulled up part of the floor in their barn, made a cozy den and concealed their father, bringing him bits of black bread, and occasionally pulling him out for exercise and fresh air.

There they kept him all winter. In spring everyone, including the three brothers, was eager to grow something. But almost all the grain had been eaten and there was none to plant. The boys told their father.

"Go," he said, "to our cottage roof, and pull down the thatch. Perhaps among the old straw you will find some seeds. Plant them."

They did. In a short time the sprouts appeared. Their fields became fair and promising, while every other farm was barren and brown. News reached the king who called the brothers for an explanation. Before leaving the boys asked their father what they should tell the king.

"Tell him all, sons, tell him everything," he ordered.

When the king asked how they had grain when others did not, the boys answered: "Our dear old father told us to get seed from the thatch."

"Is your father still alive?" asked the king.

"He is."

"You have kept alive an aged person against my will?"

"We have," replied the boys.

"You knew you were running the risk of death?"

"Yes, your majesty, we knew it."

Everybody expected the king to sentence the boys to death, but instead he admitted his serious mistake in killing off the old people. The three devoted sons were rewarded with offices in his service.

That story is repeated in countless ways in real life. Right here in the United States we have thousands of thankless children who neglect their temporal duties to their parents. At the same time we have many who take care of their parents. They are like the loyal sons of our story. The King of kings will reward them. Consider your temporal duties to your parents:

1. You must provide for your parents when they are poor. Often they are poor because of the expenses they lavished on you. They gave you every­thing. Give them something in return.

I have seen many parents in a poorhouse or old folks' home whose chil­dren could easily have provided for them. How will God deal with such heartless, unnatural children.

2. You must take care of your parents when they are sick. Old age brings many infirmities. Father and mother need little attentions, they need medicine and certain kinds of food. Every child should delight in supplying these things, remembering the years when mother and father watched over them, and gave up many luxuries and good times for them.

3. Sympathize with your parents in their sorrows and share their troubles. Often old folks have difficulties and misfortunes which are due to their failing to understand modern methods and ways. If parents have a son or daughter on whom they can rely, they have a staff to lean upon, a trusted adviser, aide and helper.

4. You are bound to take care of your parents in their old age. Old people are a trial and a care. They become feeble, blind, deaf, lame, and sometimes
quite crabby--Right here it might be well for some old folks to examine their conscience. Are you trying to be pleasant and as little care as pos­sible?

Still, you children were once a care to them. Did you ever hear the expression "second childhood"? It helps understand your duty. Your aged parents are going through a second childhood. They took care of you in your childhood; now take care of them in their "childhood."

May I here offer a public tribute to the many men and especially women who have sacrificed their lives in caring for an aged parent. Almost every parish, as well as ours, can boast of such heroes and heroines. Usually they wind up as bachelors and old maids. I know of dozens who had excellent chances for marriage and a career, but they sacrificed all to take care of mom and pop. By the time mother and dad passed away, it was too late for their devoted child to make his or her way in the world or in marriage. But it will never be too late for the good Lord to reward such devoted children. He always rewards those who "honor" their parents, who take care of them.

5. Carry out their last wishes. See that they make a clear and just will. God the Father was pleased with His beloved Son. May the Father be pleased with every son and daughter here, for taking care of mother and father. Amen.
Adapted from Talks on the Commandments
by Fr. Arthur Tonne, OFM (© 1948)

2nd Sunday of Lent-The Little Flower and the Linnet

From Talks for Children
"Master, it is good that we are here..." St. Luke, 9:33

All. or at least most, of Catholic boys and girls have heard of the Little Flower of Jesus. Her name was Therese. When she was a little girl she one day found a tiny bird floundering on the sidewalk. It had fallen out of its nest and was badly bruised and battered. It was a linnet, a small bird that sometimes has gray or red or white feathers.

"We must take it home," said Therese. "If we leave it here it will die or be killed."

She petted the little head of the poor bird, which looked up at her with its big brown eyes as she whispered: "Never mind, little linnet, soon you will have a nice home. . . you can have Goldie for a playmate."

Goldie was a beautiful canary. You have all seen a canary. Don't they have a bright, shiny coat? Goldie had plenty to eat and even had his own little bath tub. And could he ever sing!

Soon the little linnet grew well and strong. He and Goldie became great friends. He even tried to sing like Goldie, but at first the linnet's voice was weak and squeaky, because the linnet is not a good singer like the canary.

But every day he tried again, and every day the little fellow sang better. One day Therese asked her father to listen. A bird was singing in the other room. Her daddy thought it was Goldie.

"I think Goldie's voice is getting better every day," he said.

Therese smiled as she took her daddy by the hand and said: "Come with me."

Mr. Martin, that was Therese's father, looked and looked. It wasn't Goldie singing; it was the linnet. "I never heard of anything like this," he said, "but it only proves what you can do if you try hard enough."

Therese grew up to become a great saint, the Little Flower of Jesus, and no doubt she often thought of her little linnet and how hard it was for him to sing like Goldie. She thought of that when she found it hard to be like Jesus. She kept on trying.

Birds are like that. If one kind of bird stays with another kind of bird, he starts to act and fly and sing like the other bird. Boys and girls are like that, too. If you live and play and walk to and from school with other boys and girls you gradually talk like them and do everything like them. That is why it is so important to pick the right kind of friends to play with.

We have often told you to avoid, to keep away from bad company. Today I want to tell you to find and go with good boys and girls. There are plenty of them.

There are boys, for instance, who like good, clean sport. They like to play baseball and football and basketball. Go with those boys. Others like to talk about airplanes and to make them and fly them. Go with those boys. Ask them all about their airplanes. Ask to see where and how they make them.

Then there are boys who like to work with radio. They know quite a bit about it. And it is so interesting. Ask them to show you how a radio works.

Other boys like to hike and hunt and fish and swim. Some have a hobby like cutting wood into all kinds of shapes. Some boys like to collect stamps. Talk to those boys.

You wilI have more fun with them, I promise, than with boys who don't know how to do those things, or who don't want to learn.

And there are girls, too, who like to do interesting things. Some of them know a little about sewing and making dresses, even if it is just for their dolls. Play with those girls. Others like to cook and some like to play the piano or the violin. That is the kind of girl you want to go with.

Choose for your playmates boys and girls who go to confession and Holy Communion often, boys and girls who like to have fun at home instead of roaming around the streets. Play with children who like to read or play music or sing. Play with those who do not curse or tell dirty stories.

Be with the best and you will be among the best. Today we see Jesus taking three of His special friends up on a mountain. There Jesus showed Himself to them in a shining, radiant brightness, something like He will look in heaven.

St. Peter was so happy that he cried out: "Master, it is good that we are here..."

St. Peter knew it was good to be with Jesus. Stay close to Jesus and those who love Jesus, and you will be happy like St. Peter, St. James and St. John.

May you always be able to say, no matter where you are, no matter what company you keep, may you always be able to say: "Lord, it is good for me to be here."

Remember the linnet of the Little Flower. He learned to sing by living with a canary. You can learn to be good by living and playing with good boys and girls. That is what Jesus wants you to do. Amen.
Adapted from Talks for Children
by Fr. Arthur Tonne, OFM (© 1948)

2nd Sunday of Lent - Evil

"...a cloud came and cast a shadow over them,
and they became frightened ..."
St. Luke 9:34.

You may have heard the story about the wealthy gentleman of many years ago who advertised for a coachman to drive his team and carriage. In the daily paper he put the following ad: WANTED, A COACHMAN WHO KNOWS HIS BUSINESS. NONE BUT THOSE WITH STEADY HANDS AND COOL HEADS NEED APPLY.

Three candidates applied for the position. To each one he put this question: "How near can you drive to the edge of a cliff without throwing the car­riage over?"

"Within a yard," confidently answered the first applicant.

When the same question was put to the second candidate he answered: "I can go within a foot of the edge."

The third man received the same test question. "Well, sir," he slowly answered, "I never tried to see how near I could drive to a dangerous place. I always try to keep as far away as I can."

"You are the man for me," declared the employer, as he took the man into his service.

Getting to heaven is something like scaling a mountain. It is a continual climb. Often the road is littered with the rocks and ruts of temptation. Frequently there are sharp turns and narrow, dangerous spots. We can't always avoid temptation. But we can stay away from evil, the perilous precipice, which brings death to the soul. The trick is not to get as near as we can without taking a tumble. The sensible course is to stay as far away from it as we can. To do this in spiritual life is impossible without the help of God. That is why in the last petition of the Our Father we ask our heavenly Father to "deliver us from evil."

"Deliver" here means to keep all evil away from us as much as possible, and to keep us away from evil, too. It means that, should we fall into it, or come perilously near, we want the Lord to save us from it.

Again we use the word "us," because we want ourselves delivered first but not ourselves alone. We want the Lord to deliver our friends and rela­tives and benefactors from evil also. We ask the Lord to deliver everyone from sorrow and trouble and affliction. It is a prayer of all of God's chil­dren for all of God's children.

By "evil" we mean first of all the devil with all his works and all his boasting. We mean harm of any kind and all kind. Trials and crosses are included in this evil, in so far as they might lead us into sin. Often God permits affliction as a means of merit and reward. In particular, the word "evil" includes evils of the soul and evils of the body:
1. Deliver us from evil of the soul:
A. This means above all from mortal sin, which is the death of the soul, the precipice over which the soul falls when it seriously, knowingly and intentionally offends Almighty God.

B. Loss of grace and hardness of heart are also spiritual evils.

C. Deliver us from religious persecution and from dangers to our faith, so numerous about us, especially in this day when dissent and public repudiation of the Church's teaching are practiced daily.

D. Deliver us from an unprovided death and from the greatest evil­
eternal damnation.
2. Deliver us from evil of the body. This prayer, of course, is conditioned upon the will of God, who sometimes permits physical evils to work a greater spiritual good.
A. There are private evils, like sickness, bad health, poverty, the ill-will of associates, and accidents of all kinds. Do you ever say an Our Father as you start on a trip?

B. We also ask the Lord to spare us from public calamities like famine, revolution, depression and war. These days, when war threatens all around the world, we should ask the Lord to please deliver the world from the evils of war.
It is most natural and necessary that we ask God to spare us suffering and affliction. Yet, many neglect to do this. They pray to God only when human resources fail. All too frequently priests will have people, Catholics and non­Catholics, go to them with some difficulty or problem, some marriage misunderstanding and the like, who, in answer to my question: "I guess you have prayed over it, haven't you?" will answer frankly: "No, Father, I suppose I should."

They neglected the best and often the only means for solving their problem, the only way of delivering themselves and their loved ones from some threatening evil.

They were near the edge of the cliff of spiritual or physical evil, and failed to take the guiding hand of the good Lord.

Say the Our Father from now on with increased understanding and attention, say it often and say it well. Then you will not be afraid, as our Lord today told His Apostles not to be afraid.
Adapted from Prayers, Precepts and Virtues
by Fr. Arthur Tonne, OFM (©1949)

2nd Sunday of Lent - Trials before Pilate and Herod

"Master, it is good that we are here..." St. Luke, 9:33

"He suffered under Pontius Pilate." Creed.

In the Metropolitan Museum of New York City there are several paint­ings by a Hungarian, Michael Munkacsy. Born in 1844, he produced in 1881 his masterpiece, "Christ Before Pilate," which was purchased by John Wanamaker, and exhibited in Europe and America.

One day a veteran missionary was studying this picture as it hung in a New York Church. Three rollicking, tipsy men came up behind him, to see what was going on. They slowly removed their hats, while one re­marked: "I think I'll go up closer and get a better look at that picture."

Half turning, the missionary told him: "Yes, by all means, come closer. The nearer you get to Jesus, the better it will be for you."

"Do you really think so, governor?" asked the interested one.

"I know so," answered the priest.

"But, just how do you know, governor?"

"Well," the priest explained, "I have known Him for over forty years, and He has never let me down. That picture tells just part of what He went through for you and me."

"If you don't mind, would you te1l me something about Him?" begged the now rather sober visitor. Briefly the priest reviewed the story of Jesus before Pilate, and what it meant for all of us. When he concluded he.saw tears in the eyes of his listener, and heard him mutter: "It's a good thing we came in here."

We want to paint that same scene this week, not upon unfeeling canvas, but upon the warm and worshipful walls of our hearts. The nearer we get to Jesus the better it will be for us. When that sobered drunkard declared it was a good thing he had come in to see the picture, he was echoing the words of St. Peter we just quoted: "Lord, it is good for us to be here." Both were near Christ. In the transfiguration Jesus appeared in all His glory; before Pilate He appeared in all His agony. The first makes us happy; the second makes us sad. But both are necessary, the sad and the glad picture of Christ, to make a complete portrait of Him.

About eight o'clock on the morning of the first Good Friday, the soldiers led our Lord to Pilate. They repeated their charges: this man leads the people astray; He forbids to give tribute to Caesar; He calls Himself Christ the King. Pilate questions Christ privately: "Art thou the king of the Jews?"

Jesus answered that He was, but His kingdom was not of this world. When the governor, heard that Jesus was from Galilee he sent Him to Herod, who was pleased; he wanted to meet Christ and see a mira­cle, if possible. To Herod's questions, as to Pilate's questions, Jesus an­swered not a word. He was mocked, dressed in a white garment, the gar­ment of a fool, and sent back to Pilate.

Herod and Pilate, former enemies, were made friends that day; neither wanted to take the responsibility, yet neither wanted to free our Lord.

Pilate declared Christ innocent. To please the Jews he consented to torture Our Lord and release Him. He had an idea. Every year on the pasch the Jews released a criminal. One of the most notorious was Bar­abbas. The Jews could choose: Jesus or Barabbas. Persuaded by their leaders, the people chose Barabbas, and to the governor's query as to what they should do with Christ, the mob cried out: "Let him be cruci­fied." St. Matthew, 27:23.

Seeing that his feeble efforts to release Christ were of no avail, Pilate called for water, washed his hands and exclaimed: "I am innocent of the blood of this just man: see to it yourselves." St. Matthew, 27:24. Pilate permits the cruel scourging and crowning with thorns, the mocking and torture by the soldiers, but still the crowd cries out for a crucifixion.

Again Pilate made an effort to free Christ by asking Him where He came from. When Jesus did not answer Pilate reminded Him that he had power to condemn Him and he had power to release Him. But the eternal Judge simply told His earthly judge that all power was from above. The Jews kept screaming that the governor could not be a friend of Caesar if he set this man free. Worn, weary and wounded, Jesus was brought forth upon the balcony, where Pilate announced to the Jewish mob: "Behold your king." "We have no king but Caesar," they shouted back. The sen­tence was passed.

In this picture of a weak and wavering man who should have stood up for simple justice, we have a picture of ourselves. When Jesus and His principles stand trial, we often act like Pilate. We shift responsibility; we avoid blame; we carry water on both shoulders; we try to be friends and enemies of Christ at the same time; we try to release Him and we also con­demn Him, in the same breath.

When you pray those words of the Apostles' Creed: "He suffered under Pontius Pilate." be sure that you are not another Pilate. Now that you have studied this scene, however briefly, stand with that converted drunk­ard, who resolved to do better when he saw the picture of "Christ Before Pilate." Realize that it is good for us in every way to be present at this scene.
Adapted from Talks on the Creed
by Fr. Arthur Tonne, OFM (© 1946)

Gospel for Saturday, 1st Week of Lent

From: Matthew 5:43-48

Jesus and His Teaching, the Fulfillment of the Law (Continuation)

(Jesus said to His disciples,) [43] "You have heard that it was said, `You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' [44] But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. [45] So that you may be sons of your Father who is in Heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. [46] For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? [47] And if you salute only your brethren, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? [48] You, therefore, must be perfect, as your Heavenly Father is perfect."


43. The first part of this verse--"You shall love your neighbor"--is to be found in Leviticus 19:18. The second part--"hate your enemy"--is not to be found in the Law of Moses. However, Jesus' words refer to a widespread rabbinical interpretation which understood "neighbors" as meaning "Israelites". Our Lord corrects this misinterpretation of the Law: for Him everyone is our neighbor (cf. the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37).

43-47. This passage sums up the teaching which precedes it. Our Lord goes so far as to say that a Christian has no personal enemies. His only enemy is evil as such--sin--but not the sinner. Jesus Himself puts this into practice with those who crucified Him, and He continues to act in the same way towards sinners who rebel against Him and despise Him. Consequently, the saints have always followed His example--like St. Stephen, the first martyr, who prayed for those who were putting him to death. This is the apex of Christian perfection--to love, and pray for, even those who persecute us and calumniate us. It is the distinguishing mark of the children of God.

46. "Tax collectors": the Roman empire had no officials of its own for the collection of taxes: in each country it used local people for this purpose. These were free to engage agents (hence we find reference to "chief tax collectors": cf. Luke 19:2). The global amount of tax for each region was specified by the Roman authorities; the tax collectors levied more than this amount, keeping the surplus for themselves: this led them to act rather arbitrarily, which was why the people hated them. In the case of the Jews, insult was added to injury by the fact that the chosen people were being exploited by Gentiles.

48. Verse 48 is, in a sense, a summary of the teaching in this entire chapter, including the Beatitudes. Strictly speaking, it is quite impossible for a created being to be as perfect as God. What our Lord means here is that God's own perfection should be the model which every faithful Christian tries to follow, even though he realizes that there is an infinite distance between himself and his Creator. However, this does not reduce the force of this commandment; it sheds more light on it. It is a difficult commandment to live up to, but along with this we must take account of the enormous help grace gives us to go so far as to tend towards divine perfection. Certainly, perfection which we should imitate does not refer to the power and wisdom of God, which are totally beyond our scope; here the context seems to refer primarily to love and mercy. Along the same lines, St. Luke quotes these words of our Lord: "Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful" (Luke 6:36; cf. note on Luke 6:20-49).

Clearly, the "universal call to holiness" is not a recommendation but a commandment of Jesus Christ.

"Your duty is to sanctify yourself. Yes, even you. Who thinks that this task is only for priests and religious? To everyone, without exception, our Lord said: `Be ye perfect, as My Heavenly Father is perfect'" ([St] J. Escriva, "The Way", 291). This teaching is sanctioned by chapter 5 of Vatican II's Constitution "Lumen Gentium", where it says (40): "The Lord Jesus, divine teacher and model of all perfection, preached holiness of life (of which He is the author and maker) to each and every one of His disciples without distinction: `You, therefore, must be perfect, as your Heavenly Father is perfect' [...]. It is therefore quite clear that all Christians in any state or walk of life are called to the fullness of Christian life and to the perfection of love, and by this holiness a more human manner of life is fostered also in earthly society."
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland. Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Alter Christus-Devotion to the Passion of Our Lord

Lent and the coming Passion tide afford us a good oppor­tunity to strengthen our devotion to the Passion of Our Lord. This devotion ought at all times to be one of the mainsprings of our fervour in the spiritual life. At every stage of that life the Christian soul can draw a most powerful inspiration from the sufferings of Christ: whether to atone for sin and carry on the fight against unruly passions, or to progress in the exercise of virtue, or to grow in the life of union with God. The Passion of Our Lord is a school of perfection for sinners and saints alike: "Et ego si exaltatus fuero a terra omnia traham ad meipsum."

If, then, we are solicitous for our perfection, and for the sanctification of our flock, we must endeavour to cultivate in ourselves and to spread around us a solid, habitual devotion to the Passion. Let us try to arouse ourselves to renewed confidence and generosity in that devotion, by considering some of its advantages and some means to grow in it.


A deep spirit of compunction is one of the most solid fruits of devotion to the Passion. Alas! how superficial our compunction often is : we hardly realize the grievousness of sin and feel but little sorrow for it ; our penance performed, we soon lose sight of our infidelities. But if we live in the remembrance of Christ's sufferings, and train ourselves to read in His bruised body the story of our sinful life, our callousness will melt away and we shall nurse in our soul an abiding, burning regret for having inflicted those wounds on our Beloved, and from this will flow into our spiritual life the inestimable benefits that accompany true com­punction of heart.

Strength and courage - the great need of all souls that would follow after Christ in the imitation of His virtues - ­the lack of which is responsible for so much mediocrity in spiritual lives: where shall we find them more effectively than in Christ's sacred Passion?

True, Our Lord has given us throughout His life the example of every virtue: but in His Passion He did it in a heroic degree which cannot but stir all noble souls. Can we behold the lengths to which He went without being spurred on to fervour and generosity and feeling ashamed of our own cowardice and of the low standards to which we have sunk?

How soon we think we have done enough, - relax in our fight against temptations and evil inclinations, - and give up aiming at Christ's ideals because we lack the courage to do the hard thing! If only we could keep our eyes habitually fixed on our crucified Saviour: "Christus passus est pro nobis, vobis relinquens exemplum ut sequamini vestigia ejus."

Magnanimity in sacrifice and immolation. . . The perfection of Christian souls, of priests especially, is not confined to resisting evil and practising virtue; it must lead us on to union with Christ "and Him Crucified". This spells magnanimity, the complete surrender to a life of sacrifice and immolation: such, undoubtedly, is the ideal of a fervent priest. But how difficult it is to brace oneself to continued heroism; how soon we fall away from once cherished ideals! If we want to persevere in that magnanimity, let us seek it where all Saints have found it: at the foot of the Cross. Let us take our stand there with the Queen of Martyrs: "juxta Crucem tecum stare", and live in the habitual remembrance of what His love has done for us and calls us to: "In fide vivo Filii Dei qui dilexit me et tradidit semetipsum pro me."

This leads us to the most precious of all fruits of devotion to the Passion: a passionate love for Christ. In as far as such a love takes hold of our soul, so far shall we be generous in dying to sin, practising virtue and living a life of sacrifice and immolation. And surely there is no greater incentive to that love than the devout contemplation of what Christ suffered for our sake: as the love of the Sacred Heart for men is the key to that suffering, so a tender devotion to the sacred Passion will unlock our heart to love for Christ.

"Calvary is the mountain on which sacred lovers are formed" (St Francis de Sales).

Briefly, here are some of the means:
Meditating on the Passion: frequently, - intimately. Many Saints made this subject of meditation the most habi­tual food of their soul. - To enter into intimate communion with Christ, we must endeavour always to bear in mind that He suffers for the love of us and with the thought of each one individually present to His Sacred Heart.

The Way of the Cross, one of the easiest manners to derive abundant fruit from our contemplation on the Passion and to associate ourselves with Christ's sufferings. Abbot Marmion goes so far as to say: "After the Sacraments and liturgical worship there is no practice more useful for our souls than the Way of the Cross made with devotion."

The cult of our crucifix: living in its companionship, ­handling it devoutly, - loving it dearly. . . What revelations and what inspirations will not come to us from this contact with our "Love Crucified".

Holy Mass, of all the means of union with the Passion by far the most efficacious. The renewal of the Sacrifice of Calvary at every Consecration, the partaking of the immolated Victim in every holy Communion, will bring the fervent priest, every morning, nearer to his ideal of oneness with Christ crucified: "Christo confixus sum Cruxi".

Union with Our Lady: when we say the rosary or make the Way of the Cross or meditate on the Passion, try to share the sentiments that filled her soul when she saw Jesus suffer; and through her ask for the grace of understanding and compassion. - "Eia, mater, fons amoris, me sentire vim doloris fac, ut tecum lugeam . . ."
"Pro omnibus mortuus est Christus ut et qui vivunt iam non sibi vivant sed ei qui pro ipsis mortuus est et resurrexit" ( 2 Cor 5:15 ).
Adapted from Alter Christus, Meditations for Priests
by F.X. L'Hoir, S.J. (1958)
Meditation 27.

Please pray for our priests and pray for vocations to the priesthood.

Mental Prayer for the First Saturday of March

Third Joyful Mystery - Birth of Jesus

Mental Prayer Meditation Helps

Presence of God

The Memorare

Grace I Ask:
To trust in Mary at all times.

Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession, was left unaided.

Inspired by this confidence: Mine is not a half-trust but a wholehearted trust. I may feel nothing emotionally, but I know I have solid reasons for confidently expecting your aid. You have my best interests very much at heart and will obtain what I most need.

I fly unto thee: My first thoughts are ever of you. Without hesitation I come directly to you, my Mother.

O Virgin of virgins: So pure, so holy, so completely dedicated to God! How wonderful you are!

My Mother: Here is the whole basis for my confidence. You mean everything to me. I love you, Mother!

To thee I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful: I am ashamed of how disappointing I have been to you as a son or daughter. But I know how greatly you and God love the repentant sinner. If only I acknowledge my faults and my needs, you will run to help me!

O Mother of the Word Incarnate: Your great title to glory and to power. What son can refuse anything to his mother - and such a mother! Your humility and lovableness have made your intercession all-powerful with your Son.

Despise not my petitions: I know that nothing regarding me is too small or too big to provoke your concern.

But in thy mercy hear and answer me : I know that your loving concern and mercy are without limit. Have pity on one so helpless as me. If what I ask is not for my best interests, then obtain for me what is. Amen.

Thought for Today: To you I come, Mary.
Adapted from Mental Prayer, Challenge to the Lay Apostle
by The Queen's Work,(© 1958)

The Celestial Kingdom Wants More “Harmony,” and with the Church, Too (Chiesa)

It is the new approach of the Chinese government, against the failed plan to create a “patriotic” Church independent from Rome. An upcoming letter from Benedict XVI will consecrate the full return to unity of Catholics in China, and will propose an agreement with Beijing.
by Sandro Magister

Immigration in Missouri

Immigration justice


The article, "Resolution Seeks Dialogue on Immigration" (Jan. 26) featured the concurrent resolution by Rep. John Bowman and Sen. Joan Bray on illegal immigration.

Unfortunately this resolution does not "seek dialogue" but rather engages in name-calling. The resolution accuses those concerned about illegal immigration of being motivated by "extremism," "racial hatred," "organized bigotry" and "dangerous vigilantism."

During my 2006 campaign for state representative, I met literally hundreds of voters concerned about illegal immigration. None of them appeared to be motivated by racism or bigotry. Their motivations included a concern for the rule of law — people coming to our country should not be breaking our laws — and concern for the economic impact of 12 million illegal aliens on our education, health care and social welfare systems.

Most expressed concern for the unfairness of illegal immigrants "jumping ahead in line" while tens of thousands of others wait their turn to immigrate legally.

Others were union members concerned that large numbers of illegal workers working for low wages undermined their own unions’ efforts to negotiate a living wage.

Indeed we should, in the words of Archbishop Burke, "receive the stranger into our midst as one of our own." Scripture tells us to "love him as yourself" (Leviticus 19:33). However, neither Scripture nor Tradition teaches that nations should not secure their borders. Nor is there anything in Church teaching that dictates that an unlimited number of people illegally in a nation must be given preferential treatment over those who followed the law to immigrate legally.

While Christian charity dictates that we should treat all people humanely, our elected officials have a duty to enforce our laws and protect our borders.

State Rep. Robert F. Onder
Vice chairman,
House Special Committee on Immigration
Lake St. Louis
Mr Onder is right.

However, the best that amnesty supporters can do is attempt to vilify those who seek fairness for immigrants and security for the country and its citizens. An example of what Mr Onder is referring can be seen in this excerpt:

The resolution introduced in the House and Senate states that "tax-paying immigrants embody our Missouri values of hard work, faith and family. ... We reject the extremism of anti-immigrant groups that seek to use fear to confuse and divide our communities."

The resolution cites connections between many anti-immigrant groups and white nationalist organizations and calls for a unified voice against "their organized bigotry and dangerous vigilantism."

Those crying out like banshees, as in the above, are the ones who are divisive and openly display their bigotry...Those of us who want our borders protected from an invasion of criminals and others who choose to ignore the laws of the country can hardly by classified as bigots and fear mongerers. I believe we all know who those are who work so hard on confusing and dividing our communities.

Gospel for Friday, 1st Week of Lent

From: Matthew 5:20-26

Jesus and His Teaching, the Fulfillment of the Law (Continuation)

(Jesus said to His disciples,) [20] "For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven. [21] "You have heard that it was said to the men of old, `You shall not kill; and whoever kills shall be liable to judgment.' [22] But I say to you that every one who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother shall be liable to the council, and whoever says, `You fool!' shall be liable to the hell of fire. [23] So if you are offering your gift at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, [24] leave your gift there before the altar and go; first to be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. [25] Make friends quickly with your accuser, while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison; [26] truly, I say to you, you will never get out till you have paid the last penny.


20. "Righteousness": see the note on Matthew 5:6 (see below). This verse clarifies the meaning of the preceding verses. The scribes and Pharisees had distorted the spirit of the Law, putting the whole emphasis on its external, ritual observance. For them exact and hyper-detailed but external fulfillment of the precepts of the Law was a guarantee of a person's salvation: "If I fulfill this I am righteous, I am holy and God is duty bound to save me." For someone with this approach to sanctification it is really not God who saves: man saves himself through external works of the Law. That this approach is quite mistaken is obvious from what Christ says here; in effect what He is saying is: to enter the Kingdom of God the notion of righteousness or salvation developed by the scribes and Pharisees must be rejected. In other words, justification or sanctification is a grace from God; man's role is one of cooperating with that grace by being faithful to it. Elsewhere Jesus gives the same teaching in an even clearer way (cf. Luke 18:9-14, the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector). It was also the origin of one of St. Paul's great battles with the "Judaizers" (see Galatians 3 and Romans 2-5).

21. Verses 21-26 gives us a concrete example of the way that Jesus Christ brought the Law of Moses to its fulfillment, by explaining the deeper meaning of the commandments of that Law.

22. By speaking in the first person ("but I say to you") Jesus shows that His authority is above that of Moses and the prophets; that is to say, He has divine authority. No mere man could claim such authority.

"Insults": practically all translations of this passage transcribe the original Aramaic word, "raca" (cf. RSV note below). It is not an easy word to translate. It means "foolish, stupid, crazy". The Jews used it to indicate utter contempt; often, instead of verbal abuse they would show their feelings by spitting on the ground.

"Fool" translates an ever stronger term of abuse than "raca"--implying that a person has lost all moral and religious sense, to the point of apostasy.

In this passage our Lord points to three faults which we commit against charity, moving from internal irritation to showing total contempt. St. Augustine comments that three degrees of faults and punishments are to be noted. The first is the fault of feeling angry; to this corresponds the punishment of "judgment". The second is that of passing an insulting remark, which merits the punishment of "the council". The third arises when anger quite blinds us: this is punished by "the hell of fire" (cf. "De Serm. Dom. in Monte", II, 9).

"The hell of fire": literally, "Gehenna of fire", meaning, in the Jewish language of the time, eternal punishment.

This shows the gravity of external sins against charity--gossip, backbiting, calumny, etc. However, we should remember that these sins stem from the heart; our Lord focuses our attention, first, on internal sins--resentment, hatred, etc.--to make us realize that that is where the root lies and that it is important to nip anger in the bud.

23-24. Here our Lord deals with certain Jewish practices of His time, and in doing so gives us perennial moral teaching of the highest order. Christians, of course, do not follow these Jewish ritual practices; to keep our Lord's commandment we have ways and means given us by Christ Himself. Specifically, in the New and definitive Covenant founded by Christ, being reconciled involves going to the Sacrament of Penance. In this Sacrament the faithful "obtain pardon from God's mercy for the offense committed against Him, and are, at the same time, reconciled with the Church which they have wounded by their sins" ("Lumen Gentium", 11).

In the New Testament, the greatest of all offerings is the Eucharist. Although one has a duty to go to Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation, an essential condition before receiving Holy Communion is that one be in the state of grace.

It is not our Lord's intention here to give love of neighbor priority over love of God. There is an order of charity: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your strength. This is the great and first commandment" (Matthew 22:37-38). Love of one's neighbor, which is the second commandment in order of importance (cf. Matthew 22:39), derives its meaning from the first. Brotherhood without parenthood is inconceivable. An offense against charity is, above all, an offense against God.

[Note on Matthew 5:6 states:
6. The notion of righteousness (or justice) in Holy Scripture is an essentially religious one (cf. notes on Matthew 1:19 and 3:15; Romans 1:17; 1:18-32; 3:21-22 and 24). A righteous person is one who sincerely strives to do the Will of God, which is discovered in the commandments, in one's duties of state in life and through one's life of prayer. Thus, righteousness, in the language of the Bible, is the same as what nowadays is usually called "holiness" (1 John 2:29; 3:7-10; Revelations 22:11; Genesis 15:6; Deuteronomy 9:4).]
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland. Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

German Girl Seized in Homeschool Crackdown

This is outrageous!
NUREMBERG, Germany, February 28, 2007 ( - A group of parents, alarmed by German authorities’ decision to seize a girl from her family home in a battle over home schooling, has launched an online petition calling for an international boycott of German goods in protest of the situation.

Parents of the World is calling for the immediate restoration of 15-year-old Melissa to her family, after she was taken away from her parents by police and placed in foster care. The girl had been receiving educational instruction at home after a dispute with her school over home-tutoring led to her expulsion.

Home schooling is illegal in Germany, under a law instituted by Adolf Hitler, and officials have recently increased the pressure on families attempting to educate their children themselves.

Madmen and women are still trying to rule the world and usurp for themselves rights and powers which rightly belong to this case, the parents.

More information is here.

And it another "rights" related story, Walter Cronkite and others want Christians to be deprived of their 1st Amendment rights:
Walter Cronkite endorses Campaign to Force Christianity out of U.S. Public Life

Cardinals' Accusers Fail to Appear in Court

From Zenit:
Last week a hearing was scheduled as part of the private prosecution initiated by SNAP against Cardinals Rivera and Mahony. The accusers did not attend the hearing.
. . .
In an editorial in the weekly Desde la Fe, the Archdiocese of Mexico asserted that SNAP is trying to blackmail the Catholic Church.
. . .
The archdiocesan paper stated that SNAP has no proof of its accusations, and spent six months organizing "a media campaign against Cardinal Rivera based on lies, contradictions and downright slander."

No surprise here - SNAP seems to make questionable accusations quite often. It's a group which lacks any credibility...

Mental Prayer for the First Friday of March

What Makes the World Go Round

Mental Prayer Meditation Helps

Presence of God

Grace I Ask: To realize my possibilities of making reparation to the Sacred Heart.

The Idea: You have heard it said: "Love makes the world go round." This is far truer than we realize. When we love something, we want it, don't we? Well, should God stop loving - ­wanting - things, they would, faster than a snap of the fingers, simply cease to be. If God stopped loving the world, the world would stop - and vanish. Do I realize then that God loves me constantly? God so much loves me that He became man for me; and to remind me of His love, Christ gave to me the devotion to His Sacred Heart, the symbol of love.

My Personal Application: What return of love do men give to Him? From my own experience, of myself and of what other men do, I know that the return is mainly one of indifference and even of rejection. Can I help change that return, by telling our Lord that I want to make up for the coldness, the indifference, the hate of so many men? Can I help repair the injury done... by my prayers... by my expressions of loyalty in place of betrayal... by a few extra ejaculations, a few minutes before the Blessed Sacrament, a Mass more devoutly heard, a Holy Hour once in a while, the Litany of the Sacred Heart... and by so many other prayers? Can I? Shall I?

I Speak to God: To speak to you is a prayer, Lord, and here I want to make that talking a prayer of reparation for the neglect you so often have to endure. Love makes the world go round... help me to get into that circle by giving back to you what you continually give to me.

Thought for Today: Love makes the world go round.

Adapted from Mental Prayer, Challenge to the Lay Apostle
by The Queen's Work,(© 1958)

Bishop Vasa: It's "Categorically Impossible" to be Catholic and Claim Abortion is "Just a Choice"

Bishop Vasa is one of my favorites. He doesn't pull any punches.

From Lifesitenews:

PORTLAND, OR, March 1, 2007 ( - "It is categorically impossible for the same person to state that he or she believes simultaneously both what the Catholic Church teaches and that abortion is just a choice," says Bishop Robert Vasa in a column released today by the Catholic Sentinel, the diocesan newspaper of the Archdiocese of Portland and the Diocese of Baker.

Although Vasa, the Bishop of Baker, did not mention her by name, he was referring in his column to Democrat Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi specifically, and to all politicians of a similar ilk in general.
Bishop Vasa's complete column is here.

Pope's Retreat Preacher Speaks on Antichrist as a "pacifist, ecologist and ecumenist"

Connecticut Parish Changes to Boys Only Altar Servers

And as expected, there are a few cries of weeping and the gnashing of teeth...but overall, the pastor's policy seems to be accepted, albeit with reluctance and some confusion by a few of the uncatechized. One 12-year-old girl does not agree with the policy change and called it "profiling"...she represents another educational opportunity for enlightenment.

The pastor said that a handful of parishioners complained, and one family left the parish. But this courageous pastor also started a group for the girls - the Handmaids of the Altar program.

An interesting story and, God willing, maybe a trend will be started to get us back on track elsewhere.

Article here.

The Holy Father's Prayer Intentions for March

VATICAN CITY, MAR 1, 2007 (VIS) - Pope Benedict's general prayer intention for March is: "That the Word of God may be ever more listened to, contemplated, loved and lived."

His mission intention is: "That the training of catechists, organizers and lay people committed in the service of the Gospel may be the constant concern of those responsible for the young Churches."

Gospel for Thursday, 1st Week of Lent

From: Matthew 7:7-12

The Effectiveness of Prayer

(Jesus told His disciples,) [7] "Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. [8] For every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. [9] Or what man of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? [10] Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? [11] If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in Heaven give good things to those who ask Him!

The Golden Rule

[12] "So whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them; for this is the law and the prophets."


7-11. Here the Master teaches us in a number of ways about the effectiveness of prayer. Prayer is a raising of mind and heart to God to adore Him, to praise Him, to thank Him and to ask Him for what we need (cf. "St. Pius X Catechism", 255). Jesus emphasizes the need for petitionary prayer, which is the first spontaneous movement of a soul who recognizes God as his Creator and Father. As God's creature and child, each of us needs to ask Him humbly for everything.

In speaking of the effectiveness of prayer, Jesus does not put any restriction: "Every one who asks receives", because God is our Father. St. Jerome comments: "It is written, to everyone who asks it will be given; so, if it is not given to you, it is not given to you because you do not ask; so, ask and you will receive" ("Comm. in Matth.", 7). However, even though prayer in itself is infallible, sometimes we do not obtain what we ask for. St. Augustine says that our prayer is not heard because we ask "aut mali, aut male, aut mala." "Mali" (= evil people): because we are evil, because our personal dispositions are not good; "male" (= badly): because we pray badly, without faith, not persevering, not humbly; "mala" (= bad things): because we ask for bad things, that is, things which are not good for us, things which can harm us (cf. "De Civitate Dei, XX", 22 and 27; "De Serm. Dom. In Monte", II, 27, 73). In the last analysis, prayer is ineffective when it is not true prayer. Therefore, "Pray. In what human venture could you have greater guarantee of success?" ([St] J. Escriva, "The Way", 96).

12. This "golden rule" gives us a guideline to realize our obligations towards and the love we should have for others. However, if we interpreted it superficially it would become a selfish rule; it obviously does not mean "do utdes" ("I give you something so that you will give me something") but that we should do good to others unconditionally: we are clever enough not to put limits on how much we love ourselves. This rule of conduct will be completed by Jesus' "new commandment" (John 13:34), where He teaches us to love others as He Himself has loved us.

Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland. Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

On the Mass - The Collect

"Amen, amen, I say to you, if you ask the Father anything in my name, he will give it to you." St. John, 16:23.

In the story of Moses we read that he and the chosen people of God were attacked by enemies under the leadership of Amalec. After appoint­ing Josue to lead the fight against Amalec, Moses went up to the top of a hill to pray the Lord for victory.

"And when Moses lifted up his hands. Israel overcame: but if he let them down a little, Amalec overcame." Exodus, 17 :11.

The arms of Moses grew heavy and weary. He could hold them up no longer. Calling Aaron and Hur, he bade them hold up his arms as he prayed. They did so until sunset, when the armies of God's people won the day.

That is a picture of your spiritual leader, your priest. In every Mass he holds up his arms like Moses, begging God to help the children of God win over the enemies of God. In particular, when the priest holds up his hands to pray the Collect or Proper Prayer he is like Moses on the mount praying with uplifted hands.

1. After the Gloria and Dominus Vobiscum (The Lord be with you) the priest goes to the Epistle side of the altar, bows to the tabernacle, extends and joins his hands as he says: "Let us pray." That is a call for all present to join with him in the official prayer which is to follow. It is a notice that this prayer is by all and for all. The priest faces the Missal with his hands the height and breadth of his shoulders, with his fingers pointing heavenward, the direc­tion of his prayer.

This raising and extending of the arms is like that of Moses on the mount. Very especially it is in imitation of Christ with His arms extended upon the cross. Christ alone has the right to be heard by the heavenly Father. If man wishes to be heard, he must make himself one with his crucified Redeemer, he must unite himself with Christ on the cross by penance and sacrifice.

The priest is another Christ (Alter Christus), particularly at the altar. The priest is one with Christ; he takes the very place of Christ. He even extends his hands as did Christ on the cross. This was a favorite posture of prayer of the early Christians. It was the favorite position of prayer of St. Francis of Assisi and his followers. Think of Christ on the cross when you see the priest with extended arms praying for you.

2. The Collects are distinguished by their beauty and perfection of form, and for the variety and depth of their contents. They express the number­less needs of soul and body. In them we ask Almighty God for all manner of favors and blessings, and the turning away of evil.

Notice some of the things we ask for: We ask for the grace to serve Him, to let the light of divine faith shine in our works, to know our duty and fulfill it, to be renewed in the image of our Savior, to be supported by His continual help, to grow strong in body and soul, to be rescued from trials, to be protected from false teachings, to love the Commandments and to keep them, to grow in every virtue and to walk according to God's pleasure.

Each Collect has some special request, depending on the day or season or feast. Through the year the history of redemption is repeated and renewed in the Mass. In the life of our Lord and His Blessed Mother, in the lives of His saints, there is a rich source and school of supernatural life. Each week day, each Sunday, each feast has its special grace. For that grace we beg in the Collect.

3. The form of the Collect is quite uniform, amid all the variety and diver­sity of the contents. We do not merely ask God for things; we also praise, adore, thank Him, and beg His pardon. Usually all four of the principal kinds of prayer are found in each Collect.

4. Here we might consider an objection often made to Catholic worship:
"You Catholics have to pray formal prayers, don't you?"

By that the questioner implies that we always say prayers found in
a book, or composed by others; we never pray in our own words.

Mother Church has a place for prayer in one's own words. She wants us to do more of it. She wants us to pray for things as we see the need and in our own language.

However, for official services I much prefer to say a prayer - like the Collect - which has been composed by some saint or scholar, with thought and meaning, than to hear a prayer on the spur of the moment. I don't want to belittle or ridicule the prayers offered in public by our friends of other faiths, but I have had to listen to prayers which murdered the Bible, murdered the teachings of Christ, and murdered the king's English, prayers with incomplete sentences and incomplete thoughts. I repeat: Give me a prayer that has taken time and talent in its making. The Collects are just that.

5. The conclusion of the Collects is a request that our prayer be granted in the name of Jesus. Christ Himself told us to ask the Father in His Name. That is why every official prayer of the Church, and particularly the proper prayer of Mass, ends with the petition:
"Through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with Thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit, world without end. Amen."
There are several variations of this conclusion, but they are essentially the same.

During the Mass watch the priest. When you see him with his hands raised like this, you must remember that he is taking the place of Christ. He is making himself one with Christ on the cross.

Remember too, the story of Moses, who was successful in prayer for his people as long as they helped him hold up his hands. Hold up the arms of your priest by praying with him, by uniting yourself with him, especi­ally during the Holy Sacrifice. Then we will win over the enemies of our soul. Amen.
Adapted from Talks on the Mass
by Fr. Arthur Tonne, OFM (© 1950)

When is enough, enough?

A new article in the Adoremus bulletin by Fr. Ralph Wright, a Benedictine monk of the St. Louis Abbey, asks the question, "What Words Will We Use in God's Word?" and one can only wonder when Liturgiam authenticum will be followed.

Fr. Wright reminds us that the International Commission for Preparing an English Lectionary (ICFPEL) is to produce a Lectionary for the other English speaking regions of the world and that it (ICFPEL) it to use the (gag) NRSV.

As an aside, the Liturgy Office of England & Wales reported in February of 2006 that:
The Holy See has granted the request of the Bishops’ Conferences of England and Wales, Ireland, Scotland and Australia and agreed to the establishment of an International Commission (ICPEL) to prepare a fresh translation of the Lectionary for Mass. The Holy See has agreed that the NRSV translation should be used as the basis of the new edition. The NRSV translation will need a certain amount of adaptation so that it conforms to the expectations of the Church as presented in Liturgiam authenticam.

One has to wonder how it can be possible that the Holy See granted its approval to use the NRSV texts as a basis for the Lectionary when, in 1994, it (the Holy See) revoked its 1992 confirmation of a U.S. bishops' decision to permit liturgical use in the United States of the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) translation of the Bible.

Fr Wright has documented(space permitting, I'm certain) several examples of the horrid translations conrtained in the NRSV. Many are they who have followed the frenzied neutering of the Holy Scriptures to satisfy radical feminism, and the apparent desire to promote other agendas. And the insanity continues to this day.

Having refused to waste even spare change on a copy of the NRSV, I have chosen to rely on others to remind me of its defects, and Fr. Wright gives us this, among numerous others:
Another case where the NRSV opts for the non-memorable at the expense of the memorable for no apparent reason is in the translation of Caesar by the word “emperor”. In Chapter 22 of Matthew’s gospel (Mt 22:17) Jesus is asked the question “Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”, which becomes “Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor or not?” And in the NRSV, His answer has become “Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s and to God the things that are God’s”, in place of “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s” in the RSV. The loss in terms of euphony or memorability is self-evident.

Again, in the dialogue with Pilate during the Passion narrative, the NRSV says, “If you release this man you are no friend of the emperor. Everyone who claims to be a king sets himself against the emperor”; and a few lines later Pilate says “Shall I crucify your king?”, to which the answer is given “We have no king but the emperor” (Jn 19:12).

Perhaps "Caesar" was removed from the text because few today have heard of him. Many may not even have a rudimentary knowledge of basic history for that matter. What can one expect after decades of a concerted attack on authentic education, resulting in a process to "dumb-down" children, stripping them of the necessary skills to be able to think and reason properly?

What might be more upsetting for some is the fact the the NRSV uses "emperor," a "male" noun rather a generic term like 'leader'. And again, how many even understand what an "emperor" is or was?

Something even more puzzling and disturbing is the fact that the evangelists used improper grammar in the Scriptures. Apparently, it seems, they were not under the inspiration when they recorded Jesus' own words, for we see numerous instances in the NRSV where the translators, after having received some divine gift of some sort, give us the true words of Jesus:
John 14:23
NRSV - Those who love me will keep my word, (ean tis agapei me) and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.

RSV - If a man loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.

There are all sorts of problems with changing the singular to the plural, especially when one is tinkering with the Holy Scriptures. This type of 'revision' contributes to the error of individuals becoming more accomodating to the notion of "collective" sin rather than the "individual" sin - so that, over time, one loses any and all sense of "individual" sin - sin has morphed into a group thing...requiring, of course, "communal" penance services to the exclusion of an individual, auricular confession.

And the surface has barely been scratched! The issue of gender neutering is rampant in the NRSV - so rampant as to be an assault of the worst kind on the eyes and ears of a Christian. The "spirit"-filled translators, again having to correct the evangelists and others, tells us what God truly meant to reveal to us:

Matthew 4:19
NRSV - Follow me, and I will make you fish for (anthropoi) people.

RSV - Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.
Fishers of "People"? That's a keeper, for sure!

or this one:
John 2:11
NRSV - But whoever hates another believer is in the darkness, walks in the darkness, and does not know the way to go, because the darkness has brought on blindness.

RSV - But he who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.
It's difficult for me to uunderstand how one could even have the audacity to presume to be able to retranslate the Scriptures in a manner which changes the intended meaning. I cannot help but wonder if this may not be the result of some sort of mental disease. But then, I suppose not being filled with the "spirit", I am unable to grasp what's truly going on here. Then again, I do hope and pray that I never succumb to that "spirit" which seems to have overtaken so many others. Perhaps the best thing to do is to pray for those who have become slaves of that "spirit" whose intent is to bring confusion and darkness into the world.

In the meantime, I'll stick with my Ignatius Bible (RSV-CE) or the Douay and pray that the voices of those like Fr Wright and so many others might be heard far and wide.

Mental Prayer for March 1, Monthly Check-Up for March-On the Mass

Mental Prayer Meditation Helps

Presence of God

Grace I Ask: Lord, help me to understand the wonderful gift you have given me in the Mass.

The Idea: Few things hurt as much as ingratitude. Imagine a young father who loves his child very much. The father wants to give the child a bicycle for a birthday present, but he finds it will take much more money than he has. So he works long hours to earn the money. At last the big day arrives. The child receives the bicycle without comment, rides it for a time, then puts it away. Occasionally he rides it after that, but only when he has to. More often he lets it lie in the corner unused. He lets it become broken and dirty through his carelessness. How does his loving father look on all this?

My Personal Application: Christ's wonderful gift, the Mass, was purchased for me with His blood. He gives me a chance to use it for my happiness in this world and for my salvation in the next. How do I actually make use of it? Do I go to Mass only when I have to? Do I go to Mass only occasionally? Or do I try to attend Mass as often as I can? Do I let the way I attend Mass become careless and sloppy? Do I own and use a missal? Do I run the risk of going through my whole life missing the marvelous opportunities that the Mass offers because I do not understand the Mass as well as I should?

I Speak to God: I am grateful for your wonderful gift of the Mass which cost you so much to give me, and I promise to use it more perfectly by going to Mass more often, even daily, and praying with attention and devotion.

Thought for Today: "Few things hurt as much as ingratitude."
Adapted from Mental Prayer, Challenge to the Lay Apostle
by The Queen's Work,(© 1958)

San Diego Diocese Files for Bankruptcy

So sad...Another one bites the dust, so to speak...

After four years of legal wrangling in the clergy-abuse scandal, attorneys for Bishop Robert Brom filed for Chapter 11 protection last night, making San Diego the largest Roman Catholic diocese in the nation to declare bankruptcy.

In a brief electronic filing just before midnight, the diocese said it had assets of more than $100 million and estimated debts of more than $100 million.

Brom's action halts the first trial, set to start today, of about 150 lawsuits alleging sexual abuse of children by 60 priests in incidents dating back decades.

Brom said in a statement: “We put money on the table that would have stretched our financial capability to the limit, but demands were made which exceeded the financial resources of both the diocese and our insurance carrier.”

Gospel for Wednesday, 1st Week of Lent

From: Luke 11:29-32

The Sign of Jonah

[29] When the crowds were increasing, He (Jesus) began to say, "This generation is an evil generation; it seeks a sign, but no sign shall be given to it except the sign of Jonah. [30] For as Jonah became a sign to the men of Nineveh, so will the Son of Man be to this generation. [31] The queen of the South will arise at the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them; for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than
Solomon is here. [32] The men of Nineveh will arise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here."


29-32. Jonah was the prophet who led the Ninevites to do penance: his actions and preaching they saw as signifying that God had sent him (cf. note on Matthew 12:41-42).

[Note on Matthew 12:41-42 states:
41-42. Nineveh was a city in Mesopotamia (modern Iraq) to which the prophet Jonah was sent. The Ninevites did penance (John 3:6-9) because they recognized the prophet and accepted his message; whereas Jerusalem does not wish to recognize Jesus, of whom Jonah was merely a figure. The queen of the South was the queen of Sheba in southwestern Arabia, who visited Solomon (1 Kings 10:1-10) and was in awe of the wisdom with which God had endowed the King of Israel. Jesus is also prefigured in Solomon, whom Jewish tradition saw as the epitome of the wise man. Jesus' reproach is accentuated by the example of pagan converts, and gives us a glimpse of the universal scope of Christianity, which will take root among the Gentiles.

There is a certain irony in what Jesus says about "something greater" than Jonah or Solomon having come: really, He is infinitely greater, but Jesus prefers to tone down the difference between Himself and any figure, no matter how important, in the Old Testament.]
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland. Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Mental Prayer for February 28, Single Life

Mental Prayer Meditation Helps

Presence of God

Grace I Ask: Christ, help me see how doing the duties of my state in life can help me toward sanctity.

The Idea: Everyone knows Catholic men and women who are neither married nor priests or religious. Although single they do not enter the priesthood or religious life. Their life centers around their work: teaching, nursing, being a clerk or office helper, or working quietly around the house of a relative. Their work is their life. It absorbs their interest. It makes demands on their time and energy. Through it they do a vast amount of good. Interest in and devotion to it serve to give them the spiritual inspiration that marriage or the religious or priestly life gives to other Catholics.

My Personal Application: A young person should seek serious advice before deliberately choosing to remain single without the helps of organized religious life. But it may be that God calls me to this kind of life. Have I ever considered it? Have I ever considered how much I could do for others in this way, especially if I were leading a deeply spiritual life? Have I ever heard about
"secular (lay) institutes"? They might be just the life for me if I am considering the single state.

I Speak to God: Lord, even though I may not choose this state in life, there are two things I can learn from it: (1) a great respect for those who do choose it and (2) the great importance work has for my sanctification and for the good of my neighbor.

Thought for Today: To work is to pray.
Adapted from Mental Prayer, Challenge to the Lay Apostle
by The Queen's Work,(© 1958)

Catholics Commemorate St. Gabriel Possenti

On February 27, Catholic and other religionists commemorate the Feast Day of St. Gabriel Possenti, an Italian seminarian who died 145 years ago on this date in Isola del Gran Sasso.

Today, Isola is about a two or three hour automobile drive east of Rome.

In 1860, Possenti rescued villagers in Isola from a terrorizing gang of renegade soldiers with a striking one-shot demonstration of handgun marksmanship.

The renegades had separated from the main body of Garibaldi's army following the battle of Pesaro.

The 20 or so renegades ransacked and pillaged Isola.

At the time, Possenti was a seminarian in a Passionist monastery adjacent to Isola. Prior to entering the Passionist religious order, he had become a pistol, rifle and shotgun marksman. When the renegades were doing their dirty work in Isola, Possenti entered the center of the village in an attempt to help out the terrorized townspeople.

Possenti wrested a handgun from the holster of a soldier attempting rape and rescued the soldier's intended young female victim. He grabbed a second pistol from one of that soldier's associates.

The rest of the renegade gang approached Possenti, thinking they could make short shrift of this religious figure.

At that point, a lizard ran across the road. Possenti fired one shot at it, killing it. He then pointed the two handguns at the gang and let them know in no uncertain terms that he meant business. He ordered the now-terrified cutthroats to disarm, which they did, and forced them to put out the fires they had started and to return the property they had stolen. Then, he marched the whole lot of them out of town. The grateful townspeople accompanied Possenti back to his monastery in triumphal procession, calling him, "Savior of Isola!"

Possenti died two years later of consumption. Pope Benedict XV canonized him in 1920.


For more information, visit the St. Gabriel Possenti Society, Inc.