Readings & Reflections: Saturday of the Seventh Week of Easter & St. Gregory VII, May 23,2015

Readings & Reflections: Saturday of the Seventh Week of Easter & St. Gregory VII, May 23,2015


Today’s readings reveal yet another integral link between the holy Apostles Peter and Paul. Jesus tells Peter that his only true “concern” is this: “You follow me.” Paul as well witnesses to such supreme following: In his chains he received all who came to him, proclaiming Jesus Christ “with complete assurance.”
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Opening Prayer
“May the power of your love, Lord Christ, fiery and sweet as honey, so absorb our hearts as to withdraw them from all that is under heaven. Grant that we may be ready to die for love of your love, as you died for love of our love.” Amen. (Prayer of Francis of Assisi, 1182-1226)

Reading 1
Acts 28:16-20, 30-31

When he entered Rome, Paul was allowed to live by himself,
with the soldier who was guarding him.

Three days later he called together the leaders of the Jews.
When they had gathered he said to them, “My brothers,
although I had done nothing against our people
or our ancestral customs,
I was handed over to the Romans as a prisoner from Jerusalem.
After trying my case the Romans wanted to release me,
because they found nothing against me deserving the death penalty.
But when the Jews objected, I was obliged to appeal to Caesar,
even though I had no accusation to make against my own nation.
This is the reason, then, I have requested to see you
and to speak with you, for it is on account of the hope of Israel
that I wear these chains.”

He remained for two full years in his lodgings.
He received all who came to him, and with complete assurance
and without hindrance he proclaimed the Kingdom of God
and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ.

The word of the Lord.

Responsorial Psalm
Ps 11:4, 5 and 7

R. (see 7b) The just will gaze on your face, O Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.
The LORD is in his holy temple;
the LORD’s throne is in heaven.
His eyes behold,
his searching glance is on mankind.
R. The just will gaze on your face, O Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.
The LORD searches the just and the wicked;
the lover of violence he hates.
For the LORD is just, he loves just deeds;
the upright shall see his face.
R. The just will gaze on your face, O Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Gospel
John 21:20-25

Peter turned and saw the disciple following whom Jesus loved,
the one who had also reclined upon his chest during the supper
and had said, “Master, who is the one who will betray you?”
When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about him?”
Jesus said to him, “What if I want him to remain until I come?
What concern is it of yours?
You follow me.”
So the word spread among the brothers that that disciple would not die.
But Jesus had not told him that he would not die,
just “What if I want him to remain until I come?
What concern is it of yours?”

It is this disciple who testifies to these things
and has written them, and we know that his testimony is true.
There are also many other things that Jesus did,
but if these were to be described individually,
I do not think the whole world would contain the books that would be written.

The Gospel of the Lord.

Reflection 1 – What concern is it of yours?”

In today’s gospel we are all witness to Peter’s brokenness and his jealous attitude towards the disciple whom Jesus loved, the one who had also reclined upon his chest during the supper and had said, “Master, who is the one who will betray you?” In time, Peter blurted out the question- “Lord, what about him?” And to this Jesus responded, “What concern is it of yours? You follow me.”

Jealousy is a deep attitude problem founded on an uncontrollable lust and desire after some possessions, what a person is, a privilege or a position of status. It naturally flows from one’s self-centeredness. Jealousy steals away one’s life and removes joy and peace in one’s heart. It also ruins relationships. It slowly creeps into one’s being and takes over like a thief in the night if one is not careful. Thus the response of Jesus to Peter’s question “Lord, what about him?” was very appropriate as He said: “What concern is it of yours? You follow me.”

Jesus needed to bring Peter to his senses as like a thief jealousy enters one’s heart unnoticed and as an uninvited guest. No one sets out with the goal of being jealous. Jealousy can begin when one desires for his life something that is outside of God’s will. It can grow from a fleshy heart as one finds difficulty in yielding to the Holy Spirit. It flows from sin as it comes with its deceitful friends: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, anger, conflicts, dissensions, factions and envy.

Jealousy was quite manifest in Peter as he always wanted to be at the head of the group, always wanting to be the first among the disciples. His jealous spirit may have led him at one instance to even desire to lead Jesus rather than follow our Lord. Certainly, what we may perceive from Peter’s actions are not far from what we may observe today among God’s people. But we should not be frustrated and give up our relationship with God and those who have believed and have decided to follow Him.

All we need to do is persevere in doing good and follow God and His will. Amidst the brokenness and sinfulness of man, even those whom God has asked to lead His church, we still have our obligation and duty. God’s order is cut and dry, very simple and not complicated. He said: “What concern is it of yours? You follow me.”

Direction
Stay focused on the Lord. Follow Him and live by His Word.

Prayer
Heavenly Father, give me the grace to just focus on You and follow You so that one day I may gaze on your face, O Lord. In Jesus, I pray. Amen.

Reflection 2 – St. Gregory VII (1020-1085 A.D.)

The 10th century and the first half of the 11th were dark days for the Church, partly because the papacy was the pawn of various Roman families. In 1049, things began to change when Pope Leo IX, a reformer, was elected. He brought a young monk named Hildebrand to Rome as his counselor and special representative on important missions. He was to become Gregory VII.

Three evils plagued the Church then: simony (the buying and selling of sacred offices and things), the unlawful marriage of the clergy and lay investiture (kings and nobles controlling the appointment of Church officials). To all of these Hildebrand directed his reformer’s attention, first as counselor to the popes and later (1073-1085) as pope himself.

Gregory’s papal letters stress the role of bishop of Rome as the vicar of Christ and the visible center of unity in the Church. He is well known for his long dispute with Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV over who should control the selection of bishops and abbots.

Gregory fiercely resisted any attack on the liberty of the Church. For this he suffered and finally died in exile. He said, “I have loved justice and hated iniquity; therefore I die in exile.” Thirty years later the Church finally won its struggle against lay investiture.

Read the source: http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1399

Comment:

The Gregorian Reform, a milestone in the history of Christ’s Church, was named after this man who tried to extricate the papacy and the whole Church from undue control by civil rulers. Against an unhealthy Church nationalism in some areas, Gregory reasserted the unity of the whole Church based on Christ and expressed in the bishop of Rome, the successor of St. Peter.

Quote:

Gregory’s words still ring true today when civil or national religion is making subtle demands: “In every country, even the poorest of women is permitted to take a lawful husband according to the law of the land and by her own choice; but, through the desires and evil practices of the wicked, Holy Church, the bride of God and mother of us all, is not permitted lawfully to cling to her spouse on earth in accordance with divine law and her own will” (A Call to the Faithful).

Related St. Anthony Messenger article(s) 

Pope Francis in Santa Marta: Learn to listen to the voice of Jesus

Pope Francis in Santa Marta: Learn to listen to the voice of Jesus

Published on May 22, 2015

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The Pope talked about embracing the mission Jesus sets out

Pope’s Morning Homily: Look to Jesus to Change Your Heart

During Mass at Santa Marta, Says Jesus’ Gaze Enables Us to Know What to Do, Repent for Sin

Vatican City State, (ZENIT.org) Deborah Castellano Lubov

To know what we must do to change our hearts, let Jesus gaze upon you. During Pope Francis’ daily morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta, he made this suggestion.

According to Vatican Radio, the Pontiff reflected on today’s reading from the Gospel of John, and discussed the three different types of looks which Jesus gave to the Apostle Peter: those of choosing, forgiveness and mission.

Like the Apostles, each one of us, the Holy Father stressed, should consider whether Jesus looks at us with a call, with a pardon or with a mission.

Turning to the first look, the Pope recalled when the Apostle Andrew told his brother Peter that they had found the Messiah and took him to see Jesus. Christ looked at him and said, “You are Simon, son of John. You will be called Peter which means rock.” The Argentine Pontiff noted how enthusiastic Peter was after that first look and how he felt compelled to follow Jesus.

From this, the 78-year-old Pontiff, also noted how–the night before Jesus was crucified–the look by Jesus after Peter denied Him three times, “changed Peter’s heart, more than before.”

After that third denial, Jesus turned and looked directly at him and Peter wept. “The Gospel of Luke says: ‘He wept bitterly,'” Francis highlighted. “That earlier enthusiasm about following Jesus had turned to grief, because he had sinned: He denied that he knew Jesus.”

That look by Jesus, the Successor of Peter said, “changed Peter’s heart, more than before.”

Jesus’ third look toward Peter was that of mission, evidenced when he asked Peter three times if he loved him and urged him to feed his sheep. Peter was hurt and saddened that the Lord would ask him a third time if he loved Him. To this Peter responded, “‘Lord, You know everything: You know I love you.’ Jesus replied: ‘Feed my sheep.’ This was the third look, a look of mission.”

This look comes with the Lord’s exhortation to ‘Feed my lambs,’ ‘Look after my sheep,’ ‘Feed my sheep.’”

“We too can reflect: what look is Jesus giving me today?  How is Jesus looking at me?  With a call? With a pardon? With a mission?”

Reminding those gathered how Jesus is now coming on the altar, he invited them to feel the Lord’s presence and to ask Him to “Fix your gaze on me and tell me what I must do: how I must repent for my mistakes, my sins; what courage do I need to go forward on the path that You first created.”

As we live our lives, the Pontiff stressed, we are to realize we are always under Jesus’ gaze. “He always looks at us with love. He asks us something, forgives us something and it gives us a mission.”

Msgr. Oscar Romero was killed while celebrating Mass … and so were these four other priests

Msgr. Oscar Romero was killed while celebrating Mass … and so were these four other priests

Published on May 22, 2015

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The list includes a pope and two bishops from different eras.

Pope Francis: The challenge for Christians is to remain united

Pope Francis: The challenge for Christians is to remain united

Published on May 21, 2015

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He said at Casa Santa Marta that the grace of God is what keeps the Church together, not “glue.” During his homily at Casa Santa Marta on Thursday, the Pope reflected on the unity of the Church. He stressed that it is critical for Christians to remain united and always avoid gossip and labels, two things that only cause division.

Pope’s Morning Homily: Church Has Need for Unity

Reflects on Jesus’ Prayer to Be ‘One’ During Mass at Casa Santa Marta

By Junno Arocho Esteves

Vatican City State, May 21, 2015 (ZENIT.org)

“Jesus prays so that we may be one. And the Church has so much need of this prayer of unity.”

These were the words said by Pope Francis during his homily at Casa Santa Marta this morning.

According to Vatican Radio, the Holy Father reflected on Jesus’ prayer for unity among his followers in St. John’s Gospel.

“I pray not only for these, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me,” Jesus says.

The Pope noted that in his prayer, Christ not only prays for his disciples, but those who will follow after ‘through their word’.

“Maybe we are not that attentive to these words: Jesus has prayed for me!” he said. “This is precisely a source of trust: He prays for me, He prayed for me…I imagine – but it is an image – how Jesus is in front of the Father in Heaven. Like this: He prays for us, He prays for me. And what does the Father see? The wounds, the price. The price He paid for us. Jesus prays for me with his wounds; with his wounded heart He continues to do so.”

The Spirit of Division

However, Pope Francis lamented that the greatest challenge for Christians today is to not give way “to divisions among us.” This spirit of division, he said, allows “the father of lies to enter into us.”

“Always look for unity,” he stressed. “Each one is like they are, but always look to live in unity. Has Jesus forgiven you? He forgives everyone. Jesus prays so that we may be one […]. And the Church has so much need of this prayer of unity.”

This unity that Jesus prays for, the Jesuit Pope went on to say, is not some mere ‘glue’ that bonds people but “a grace of God”.

Concluding his homily, Pope Francis reminded the faithful of another piece of advice given by Christ: to remain in Him.

“He asks for this grace, that we all remain in Him. And here He tells us why, He says it clearly: ‘Father […] I wish that where I am they also may be with me.’ That is, that these remain there, with me. To remain in Jesus, in this world, ends in remaining with Him, so ‘that they may see my glory.'”

Read it online

Today’s Vortex: The Plan To Destroy

Today’s Vortex: The Plan To Destroy

Published on May 21, 2015

They count on the masses being stupid.

Transcript:

As civilization continues to shake apart along its moral fault lines, it’s clear that none of this has happened by accident.

The Master Plan is, of course, engineered by Satan, but it is executed by men who for the most part think that they are running the show and never even give a thought to the idea that they are being used by the diabolical. As far as they are concerned, they run the show.

And what these men have done is create a cultural environment through the use of money, media and marketing whereby major movements are launched which change societies for the bad. They count on the masses being stupid, unable to think critically. It’s an incredibly devilish way of approaching change. Heck, Obama even used the word to get elected.

Let’s look at a group responsible for corrupting the morals of Catholic Ireland and bringing about the eventual success of gay marriage in the land of St. Patrick. The name of the group is Atlantic Philanthropies, a group with the self-admitted aim of changing the culture. It poured tens of millions of dollars into the effort to get Obamacare passed by a strategy of media, messaging and marketing. It also created a movement of various liberal groups who wanted to use forced healthcare to gain more control over the culture. That movement became known as HCAN — Healthcare for America Now — 1000 groups that worked night and day to advance Obamacare by producing TV commercials, internet and publishing propaganda pieces all with an aim to create a cause.

The marketing plan worked perfectly. All of a sudden everyone was talking about healthcare and the great need for reform, when at the beginning of the journey, poll after poll revealed that 85–90 percent of Americans were more than satisfied with their existing healthcare. This created the necessary background noise to fire up the necessary political machinery to get legislation passed.

But notice the sequence: ideology, money, marketing, movement and then the desired resultant change. This has been the pattern for all societal change in the past 60 years. It is in fact why there has been such a crush of changes at such lightning speed in such a short amount of time. And it is precisely why there has been such a lag behind in the response from the faithful laity and clergy of the Catholic Church.

The enemy plays this game way better than we do. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Many in the Church have just accepted it.

The Church has the ideology not just to save the world, but souls. What we do not have is the willingness to donate our money to advancing the ideology. Without that money, that all-in commitment that the other side has — it’s almost a lost cause before we begin.

Without the dollars, the marketing savvy will never emerge. And without the marketing savvy, no movement with a message can really get off the ground. Yet for the first time in human history, regular Catholics have a chance to truly make a difference, at least among their fellow downtrodden Catholics.

That chance is the Internet — while we still have access. There is a window here, at this moment of history, to galvanize faithful Catholics committed to the cause of the Faith by means of the technology at our disposal. There is the chance to begin a real movement, a groundswell among faithful Catholics to fight back.

While it would be nice to have the giant media conglomerates on our side, that isn’t going to happen. But the opportunity to do an end-run around them has emerged. The Internet needs to be seen by faithful Catholics as the moment having arrived.

Outfits like Atlantic Philanthropies — with its hundreds of millions — can buy access to the giant media outlets and twist people’s intellects. We don’t need hundreds of millions, as nice as it would be; we just need hundreds of thousands owing to the considerably cheaper costs of the Internet.

Our efforts at Church Militant are living proof of this. In less than seven years, this apostolate has reached more than 50 million people with thousands upon thousands every day. True, it’s not millions every day like Big Media -— but it is a targeted message reaching the desired audience of Catholics.

We must sense the moment here, the opportunity that Our Lord is opening up to us. For the first time we can fight back. Even David had his sling shot and rock. And now so do we.

Please consider making a donation to our work here. Just click on that blue donate button. But more than that — at your barbecues this holiday weekend, talk openly and clearly about the great struggle unfolding before us. Engage your family. Engage your friends. Lay aside the junk that the culture says you should concentrate on and pick up this challenge.

Talk to people this weekend. Bring it all up, every hot button you can think of. The civilization is tumbling down all around us, and you and I need to step up and shoulder our share.

The rules have changed; they changed a couple generations ago. As long as Catholics are unwilling to sacrifice, to support efforts to fight against the culture of evil, then the culture of evil will keep advancing.

We are the ones now who need to trumpet change. Please make a donation and get involved.

Readings & Reflections: Friday of the Seventh Week of Easter & St. Rita of Cascia, May 22,2015

Readings & Reflections: Friday of the Seventh Week of Easter & St. Rita of Cascia, May 22,2015

 

Born of peasant stock in Roccaporena, Italy, Rita desired to remain a virgin from her youth, but her parents insisted that she marry. The husband they chose proved to be a man of violent temper. Rita courageously abided his cruelty. Upon his death, she entered the Augustinian convent of Saint Mary Magdalene in Cascia, taking the veil in 1413. Rita gave herself over to prayer and mortification in reparation for the sufferings of Christ. She received a mystical wound in her forehead as though from a crown of thorns. Rita died of tuberculosis in 1457 A.D.

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Opening Prayer

Dear Jesus, We receive the work that You have assigned to St Peter as our commission to love your people and bring them closer to You. Thank you for giving us an opportunity to demonstrate our love for You. Lord, we see this task as beyond us as it involves giving our all to You. When times become difficult and trials inundate our lives, we are not sure if we can give our all to You. A lot times, we doubt if we can do it.
Lord in all this, we need not fear for we believe that You are always there to take care of us. Allow us to always listen to You and to be sensitive to your leadings so that we may know what You truly want from us. Yes Lord our lives are ultimately not ours but yours and we pray that we learn to love You deeply so that even death cannot scare us away from sharing our lives with your people. Lord with the power of your Spirit, enable us to truly live your life so that even in our own small way, each of us who claim to be your disciple may be able to really tend and feed your lambs. In your Name, we pray. Amen.

Reading 1
Acts 25:13b-21

King Agrippa and Bernice arrived in Caesarea
on a visit to Festus.
Since they spent several days there,
Festus referred Paul’s case to the king, saying,
“There is a man here left in custody by Felix.
When I was in Jerusalem the chief priests and the elders of the Jews
brought charges against him and demanded his condemnation.
I answered them that it was not Roman practice
to hand over an accused person before he has faced his accusers
and had the opportunity to defend himself against their charge.
So when they came together here, I made no delay;
the next day I took my seat on the tribunal
and ordered the man to be brought in.
His accusers stood around him,
but did not charge him with any of the crimes I suspected.
Instead they had some issues with him about their own religion
and about a certain Jesus who had died
but who Paul claimed was alive.
Since I was at a loss how to investigate this controversy,
I asked if he were willing to go to Jerusalem
and there stand trial on these charges.
And when Paul appealed that he be held in custody
for the Emperor’s decision,
I ordered him held until I could send him to Caesar.”

The word of the Lord.

Responsorial Psalm
Ps 103:1-2, 11-12, 19-20ab
R. (19a) The Lord has established his throne in heaven.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Bless the LORD, O my soul;
and all my being, bless his holy name.
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits.
R. The Lord has established his throne in heaven.
or:
R. Alleluia.

For as the heavens are high above the earth,
so surpassing is his kindness toward those who fear him.
As far as the east is from the west,
so far has he put our transgressions from us.
R. The Lord has established his throne in heaven.
or:
R. Alleluia.

The LORD has established his throne in heaven,
and his kingdom rules over all.
Bless the LORD, all you his angels,
you mighty in strength, who do his bidding.
R. The Lord has established his throne in heaven.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Gospel
John 21:15-19

After Jesus had revealed himself to his disciples and eaten breakfast with them,
he said to Simon Peter,
“Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?”
Simon Peter answered him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.”
He then said to Simon Peter a second time,
“Simon, son of John, do you love me?”
Simon Peter answered him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
He said to him, “Tend my sheep.”
He said to him the third time,
“Simon, son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was distressed that he had said to him a third time,
“Do you love me?” and he said to him,
“Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.
Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger,
you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted;
but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands,
and someone else will dress you
and lead you where you do not want to go.”
He said this signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God.
And when he had said this, he said to him, “Follow me.”

The Gospel of the Lord.

Reflection 1 – Do you love me?

Peter was distressed that he had said to him a third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.”

It remains a fact that God expects us not only to love Him but love His people and be responsible for all whom He brings into our lives and for which we must render an accounting.  In John 15 Jesus said: “It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you. This I command you: love one another.”

Our culture has fast developed into a model for unreal commitments where infidelity has become more of a norm rather than the exception. Infidelity does not work and it leaves no one happy or at peace.  A spouse caught in the middle of another relationship, be it a passing fancy or something real, is in for a difficult situation.  Along with remorse and guilt over having hurt one’s lifetime partner, fear and anxiety can grip one’s heart. “Does she still love me? Will she ever forgive me?  Will she trust me again?  Will she do the same to me?”

Today’s gospel reading just made me think of how Peter felt after the resurrection of our Lord.  Was he so ashamed to face Jesus? After affirming His love for Jesus, three times he denied Him and went His way.  He failed to show his loyalty to Jesus when it counted most.  Did the cock’s crow haunt him?  Did he ever feel unworthy to lead God’s flock?  We all know that Jesus did not condemn Peter but gave him a chance to re-affirm his love.  He even affirmed His confidence in Peter by entrusting Peter with the care of His flock.

Jesus provided us with the kind of love we should have for one another as He was and is absolutely faithful even amidst rejection.  Even when His fidelity is undeserved, He remains true and unchanging.  In my own life, I can only say that Jesus has treated me just like He did Peter. Unfaithful and sinful, I am surprised that God is still willing to love me and care for me, not only from time to time but time and time again.

The three times Peter verbally affirmed his love for Jesus, His responses were: “Feed my lambs. Tend my sheep. Feed my sheep.”  Today, Jesus calls us to be like Him and to do the same to those He sends into our lives. He wants us to give more and more of ourselves and draw His people closer to Him.  It is only in our faithful self-giving that we will ever find the joy and peace we need in our lives, no matter how hurtful it can be at times.  Amidst conflict and rejection by people who are close to us, how have we reciprocated?  How have we been in our fraternal relationships within God’s church?

Feeding and tending God’s sheep is our honest and unbiased sharing of God’s Word by always speaking and witnessing to the TRUTH.

However being political and speaking half-truths according to how the winds of the times blow, neither does merely being consistent with what one professes, constitute total truthful witnessing.  Feeding and tending God’s flock with the truth means not only speaking out about what is wrong but pro actively seeking out the right thing to do and not passively waiting for a situation to present itself. It means taking a definite position even when such is not popular and does not conform to the great majority.

As servants of the Lord and leaders of God’s flock, feeding and tending God’s sheep means calling everyone to high standards of integrity and truthfulness and be bound by them without exceptions.

Direction

Serving and caring for God’s people by feeding them His Word is loving God.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, give me all that it will take so that I may remain faithful to You especially during difficult times when I may be prone to compromise and half-heartedness as my way of life.  In Jesus, I pray. Amen.

Reflection 2 – Your love must be sincere.

In Fiddler on the Roof, Tevye asks his wife, Golde, “Do you love me?” She’s taken aback by the question. After all, they’ve been married for twenty-five years. But Tevye persists and finally, after having considered all they’ve been through, Golde replies, “I suppose I do.”

Tevye’s question is a difficult one to ask; it leaves the questioner quite vulnerable. It is perhaps even more difficult to answer, for to say, “Yes, I love you” carries with it commitment and responsibilities. Jesus asked Simon Peter the question, but Peter answered too quickly. So Jesus asked again, and again. He wanted Peter to realize the consequences of his “Yes!”

Every Christian worthy of that name knows that love of God and love of neighbor are the two major requirements for discipleship. One of the major themes of the New Testament is the demonstration of God’s love for his people – “God so love the world that he gave his only Son” (Jn 3:16). “No greater love hath a man than that he be willing to lay down his life for his friends” (Jn 15:13). In response to such a great show of love from God, human beings are expected to love in return, and there is the great trap of being Christian. “Anyone who says he loves God but hates his neighbor is a liar!” (1 Jn 4:20). The challenge is: “Christ gave his life for us. We too, then, ought to give our lives for others” (1 Jn 3:16).

Time and again the respected social activist Dorothy Day, known for her service to the poor and broken, wrote in her diary of that immense difficulty she had in being open, receptive and loving to the needy people who came to her. “To see Jesus in the poor, to welcome, to be hospitable, to love!” she wrote, “This is my need. I fail every day.”

The two great pillars of the Church, Peter and Paul, failed too, but God did not give up on them. Sometimes gently, sometimes bluntly he asked them, “Do you love me?” It is the same question he often puts to us as well. In trials and persecution, in temptations and failures, in the demands people place upon us, our vulnerable God is asking, “Do you love me?” And however surprised we are by the question, we muster a half-hearted, “I suppose I do.” The consequences of that response, however, awaken us anew to the commitment and responsibilities of being Christian! (Source: Norman Langenbrunner, Weekday Homily Helps. Ohio: St. Anthony Messenger Press, May 29, 2009).

Reflection 3 – Feeding Jesus’ Sheep

Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me? . . . Feed My sheep. —John 21:17

What will keep us serving the Lord in our church and community when the going gets tough? Although we may be sensitive to the needs of others, that alone isn’t enough. Nor should we be driven by a need that we have—a desire to be appreciated or loved by others. Our needs are deep, and only God can satisfy them. The more we try to satisfy them with anything else—even God’s work—the more dissatisfied we will become.

Even love for God’s people, His sheep, won’t keep us going. People can be unlovable and insufferable. We may come to resent them.

No, the only sufficient incentive for service is our love for the Lord, and it’s the love of Christ that compels us (2 Corinthians 5:14). No other motivation will do. In My Utmost For His Highest, Oswald Chambers wrote, “If we are devoted to the cause of humanity, we shall soon be crushed and brokenhearted, . . . but if our motive is to love God, no ingratitude can hinder us from serving our fellowmen.”

In one of His last conversations with Peter, Jesus asked him, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” Peter answered, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus then said, “Feed My sheep” (John 21:17).

Are you motivated by love for Christ?

More love to Thee, O Christ, more love to Thee!
Hear Thou the prayer I make on bended knee;
This is my earnest plea: More love, O Christ, to Thee,
More love to Thee, more love to Thee!

To love Christ is to serve Christ Are you motivated by love for Christ?  — David H. Roper (Source: Our Daily Bread, RBC Ministries).

Reflection 4 – Don’t Give Up

Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep.” –John 21:17

On the last day of spring training in 1979, baseball player Steve Kemp of the Detroit Tigers was hit in the head with a pitched ball and taken to the hospital. But on opening day of the regular season he stepped up to the plate with confidence. Taking fastballs from a veteran pitcher, he smacked a single. The next time at bat he hit a home run.

During a postgame interview he said, “After I was hit, I just told myself, ‘I can’t let it bother me.’ If you let it bother you, you’re not going to be any good to yourself or your team.”

The apostle Peter responded to a bitter experience in much the same way. He had been hit hard by a “pitch” from the enemy. He had promised earlier that he would follow Christ, even if it meant death (Matthew 26:33-35). But just a little while later, facing unexpected pressure, he denied his Lord (vv.69-75).

That devastating blow could have caused him to quit. But Peter didn’t give up—because Jesus didn’t give up on him. After the Lord encouraged him (John 21:15-19), Peter boldly proclaimed the gospel, and many people trusted in Christ.

Have you been hit by failure? The Lord wants to restore you and make you useful again.

Our Savior does not cast us off
Because we fail to stand the test;
Instead, He draws us back through love
That in Him we may find our rest.

God can transform tragedies into triumphs (Source: Our Daily Bread, RBC Ministries).

Reflection 5 – St. Rita of Cascia (1381-1457 A.D.)

Like Elizabeth Ann Seton, Rita of Cascia was a wife, mother, widow and member of a religious community. Her holiness was reflected in each phase of her life.

Born at Roccaporena in central Italy, Rita wanted to become a nun but was pressured at a young age into marrying a harsh and cruel man. During her 18-year marriage, she bore and raised two sons. After her husband was killed in a brawl and her sons had died, Rita tried to join the Augustinian nuns in Cascia. Unsuccessful at first because she was a widow, Rita eventually succeeded.

Over the years, her austerity, prayerfulness and charity became legendary. When she developed wounds on her forehead, people quickly associated them with the wounds from Christ’s crown of thorns. She meditated frequently on Christ’s passion. Her care for the sick nuns was especially loving. She also counseled lay people who came to her monastery.

Beatified in 1626, Rita was not canonized until 1900. She has acquired the reputation, together with St. Jude, as a saint of impossible cases. Many people visit her tomb each year.

Read the source: http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1391

Comment:

Although we can easily imagine an ideal world in which to live out our baptismal vocation, such a world does not exist. An “If only ….” approach to holiness never quite gets underway, never produces the fruit that God has a right to expect.

Rita became holy because she made choices that reflected her Baptism and her growth as a disciple of Jesus. Her overarching, lifelong choice was to cooperate generously with God’s grace, but many small choices were needed to make that happen. Few of those choices were made in ideal circumstances—not even when Rita became an Augustinian nun.

Quote:

For the Baptism of adults and for all the baptized at the Easter Vigil, three questions are asked: “Do you reject sin so as to live in the freedom of God’s children? Do you reject the glamor of evil, and refuse to be mastered by sin? Do you reject Satan, father of sin and prince of darkness?”

Archbishop Martin in Lourdes: In Defending Marriage, We Are Not Trying to Hurt or Offend

Archbishop Martin in Lourdes: In Defending Marriage, We Are Not Trying to Hurt or Offend

We want to protect and promote the uniqueness of that special relationship between a wife, a husband and their children which is sanctified by Our Creator, endorsed by Jesus, and which is such a powerful and prophetic beacon of hope for society

By Staff Reporter

Lourdes, May 20, 2015 (ZENIT.org)

Here is a homily given last week on the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima, by Archbishop Eamon Martin at Mass in Lourdes on his first pilgrimage to the Marian shrine as Archbishop of Armagh

At Mass in Lourdes Archbishop Eamon Martin remembered and acknowledged the faithful in Ireland, and around the world, who are praying, fasting, doing penance and praying novenas for the special intention of marriage and the family, saying, “when we pray for, and speak up for the institution of marriage as it has been understood across cultures and down the ages, we are not trying to hurt or offend anyone – thank God, in His great mercy He loves all of us equally, and so should we … we want to protect and promote the uniqueness of that special relationship between a wife, a husband and their children which is sanctified by Our Creator, endorsed by Jesus, and which is such a powerful and prophetic beacon of hope for society.”

Homily

My dear brothers and sisters, here we are, many miles from home, gathered in the foothills of the Pyrenees at the beautiful grotto in Lourdes.  There is something very special about this place.  No wonder millions of people have come here in procession, and hundreds of thousands have returned again and again.  And yet, if it wasn’t for Mary’s appearances here 157 years ago, most of us wouldn’t even have heard of Lourdes, never mind travelled here.  And it is the same with the other places our Blessed Mother chose to visit – they were not the grand squares of the world’s great cities, the splendour of royal palaces or the bustling centres of learning or civilisation; they were often the remote and isolated places, like lonely Lourdes, forgotten Fatima or the windswept Irish hillside hamlet of Knock.

Neither did Mary choose to appear to great thinkers or theologians, powerful politicians or rich and influential business people. Her chosen ones were the little people of the world who knew the struggles of living with nothing except their trust in God and his providence – people like young and innocent Bernadette who couldn’t read or write, or the down-to-earth parishioners at Knock, or the little shepherd children of Fatima: Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta. Today, on the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima we are linked through prayer with the hundreds of thousands of pilgrims who are gathering at Fatima to celebrate the feast.

Down the centuries Mary’s chosen hosts must have wondered, like Elizabeth: How is it that we should have been honoured by a visit from the mother of our Lord?  But I like to think that, in appearing, Mary was fulfilling the dying wishes of Jesus, when he entrusted her to be the mother of all the living: ‘Woman, behold your Son’.  And at the same time, Mary’s apparitions encourage us to remember that Jesus also said from the cross: ‘Son, behold your mother’, and that our heavenly mother is there for us when we need her help.

Why have you come to Lourdes this year?  Do you come in joy and hope, in sickness or worry?  Is it out of deep devotion, or perhaps curious questioning?  Have you come  here to ask Mary’s help and intercession, or to thank her for favours already granted?  I know that we all carry with us, in our heartfelt thoughts and prayers, the petitions and needs of so many others, family, friends, loved ones, neighbours.  Perhaps this morning you are thinking about someone who has asked you to pray for them at Lourdes: perhaps a child, brother, sister who is sick or worried, maybe a friend who is depressed or weighed down by anxiety, a neighbour who has been bereaved recently, a parent who has tragically lost their son or daughter, or a couple struggling with their marriage or family.  Perhaps you are thinking about a young person who is taking exams, or a friend or relation who is looking for work. Maybe you or someone you know is struggling with some problem or addiction, a sinful habit, an important decision or a tense relationship.

Whatever our reason for coming to Lourdes, we should not be afraid to be drawn to Mary’s gaze and comforting arms, because as the Memorare prayer puts it: ‘never has it been known that anyone who fled to her protection, implored her help, or sought her intercession was left unaided by her’.

Neither should we be surprised if Mary asks something of us here at Lourdes.  Remember she was the one who gave herself totally to God’s will at the Annunciation, and at Cana she said: ‘Do whatever he tells you’.

A common theme from her apparitions around the world has been the call to conversion, to do penance, and to make reparation. Her messages are often direct and challenging. ‘Penance, penance, penance’, she told Bernadette, and her final words to the children of Fatima were: ‘People must amend their lives, ask pardon for their sins, and not offend Our Lord any more for he has been already too greatly offended’.

My dear brothers and sisters, our pilgrimage to Lourdes will call us to change, and to deep inner healing of mind, body and Spirit, for ourselves, our families and loved ones, for our countries and for the world.  In praying for this conversion and healing, we need not be afraid, for Mary our Mother is there to protect us.

It was on this day, 13 May, back in 1981 that her ‘unseen hand’ shielded Pope Saint John Paul II from almost certain death in Saint Peter’s square.  Today, 13 May 2015, Mary is ready to shield us too, from dangers in our lives, from fears and anxieties, and from the snares and attacks of sin and evil on our spirit.

I would like to ask you to remember a special intention with me this year at Lourdes.  In the coming days the people of Ireland will be asked to vote in a referendum which will change the meaning of marriage and family in the Constitution of Ireland.  The Bishops of Ireland are clear that they cannot support this amendment and they have asked the people of Ireland to reflect and pray very carefully before voting.

I know that many people in Ireland and around the world are beginning a novena today, or praying the Rosary, or fasting and doing penance for the special intention of marriage and the family.

In his message for World Communications Day this coming Sunday, Pope Francis describes the family as a ‘privileged place of encounter with the gift of love’.  The Holy Father says, ‘families, at their best, actively communicate by their witness the beauty and the richness of the relationship between man and woman, and between parents and children’.

So when we pray for, and speak up for the institution of marriage as it has been understood across cultures and down the ages, we are not trying to hurt or offend anyone – thank God, in His great mercy He loves all of us equally, and so should we.  We simply want to respect the dignity of difference between male and female.  We want to protect and promote the uniqueness of that special relationship between a wife, a husband and their children which is sanctified by Our Creator, endorsed by Jesus, and which is such a powerful and prophetic beacon of hope for society.

I would like to conclude with a prayer of entrustment to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, written by Pope Saint John Paul II, who was affectionately known as the ‘Pope of the Family':

O Mary, Mother of all men and women, and of all peoples, you who know all our sufferings and our hopes, you who have a mother’s awareness of all the struggles between good and evil, between light and darkness, which afflict the modern world, accept the cry which we, moved by the Holy Spirit, address directly to your Heart. Embrace us with the love of the Mother and Handmaid of the Lord, and this human world of ours, which we entrust and consecrate to you, for we are full of concern for the earthly and eternal destiny of individuals and peoples.

“We have recourse to your protection, holy Mother of God!’  Despise not our petitions in our necessities”.

Our Lady of Lourdes; Fatima; Knock; pray for us.

Amen.

Read it online

Related Articles/Videos:

Here-under are some articles about marriage for you to read or watch: 

  1. Getting to know you, please click this link: http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/?p=284
  2. Be Positive, please click this link: http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/?p=288
  3. Love and Marriage, please click this link: http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/?p=292
  4. Endless Love – Marriage after all, please click this link: http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/?p=294
  5. Say it with love, please click this link: http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/?p=298
  6. Quality family moments, please click this link: http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/?p=300
  7. Secret of successful marriage, please click this link: http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/?p=302
  8. The vocation of marriage, please click this link: http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/?p=1968
  9. Marriage as Covenant, please click this link: http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/?p=1974
  10. Humility: Foundation for Marital Happiness, please click this link: http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/?p=1986
  11. Gratitude: Foundation for marriage, please click this link: http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/?p=1980
  12. True Meaning of marriage, please click this link: http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/?p=1972
  13. Marriage and incompatibility, please click this link: http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/?p=2112
  14. Love is a garden, please click this link: http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/?p=2116
  15. Three kinds of love, please click this link: http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/?p=2095

“God himself is the author of marriage” (GS 48:1). The vocation of marriage is written in the very nature of man and woman as they came from the hand of the Creator. Marriage is not a purely human institution despite the many variations it may have undergone through the centuries in different cultures, social structures, and spiritual attitudes (CCC:1603)

FBI Homosexuality. Many believe the Freemasons are simply a centuries-old charitable fraternity. However, the Catholic Church has consistently condemned Freemasonry more than any other error in its history because it promotes indifferentism, naturalism, communism, and other dangerous philosophies.

Please click this link to watch the video on FBI Homosexuality by Michael Voris

Homosexuality, the Grave Evil Presented as Good, Part 1

Please click this link to watch the video on Homosexuality: Grave Evil Presented as Good, Part 1

Homosexuality, Question and Answer Part 2

Please click this link to watch the video on Homosexuality, Q & A

Homosexuals and Freemasons inside the Church

Please click this link to watch the video on Homosexual and Freemasons inside the Church by Michael Voris

“The Rite of Sodomy” Homosexuality in the Roman Catholic Church

Please click this link to watch the video on “The Rite of Sodomy” Homosexuality in the Roman Catholic Church

Mic’d Up “Pink Money and the Homosexual Mafia” 

Please click this link to watch the video on Mic’d Up “Pink Money and the Homosexual Mafia”

Michael Voris gives a series of short talks, answering questions coming in response to his talk on homosexuality in Nigeria.

In this talk from Nigeria, Michael Voris speaks about the grave evil presented as good – homosexuality. “Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity (cf. Gen 19:1-29; Rom 1:24-27; 1 Cor 6:10; 1 Tim 1:10), tradition has always declared that ‘homosexual acts are intinsically disordered” (CDF, Persona humana 8). They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved” (CCC: 2357).

Pope Francis speaks about educating children during his general audience

Pope Francis speaks about educating children during his general audience

Published on May 20, 2015

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He also reflected on complex issues like separated parents.

General Audience: On the Education of Children

“The Christian communities are called to offer support to the educational mission of families, and they do so first of all with the light of the Word of God.”

By Staff Reporter

Vatican City State, May 20, 2015 (ZENIT.org)

Here is the translation of the Holy Father’s address during his Wednesday General Audience in St. Peter’s Square.

* * *

Today, dear Brothers and Sisters, I wish to welcome you because I have seen so many families among you. Good morning to all the families! We continue to reflect on the family. Today we pause to reflect on an essential characteristic of the family, namely, its natural vocation to educate the children so that they grow in responsibility for themselves and for others. What we heard from the Apostle Paul at the beginning is so beautiful: “Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not exasperate your children, lest they become discouraged” (Colossians 3:20-21). This is a wise rule: the child is educated to listen to his parents and to obey his parents who must not command in a bad way, lest they discourage the children. The children, in fact, must grow without being discouraged, step by step. If you parents say to the children: “Let’s go up that flight of steps” and you take them by the hand and step by step you make them go up, things will go well. But if you say: ”Go up! – ‘But I can’t” – “Go!” this is called exasperating the children, asking the children to do what they are not capable of doing. Therefore, the relation between parents and children must be one of wisdom, of very great balance. Children, obey your parents, this pleases God. And you, parents, do not exasperate your children, asking them to do things they cannot do. And this must be done so that the children grow in responsibility for themselves and for others.

It would seem to be an obvious observation, yet even in our times, difficulties are not lacking. It is difficult for parents to educate their children when they see them only in the evening, when they return home tired from work – those who have the good fortune of having work! It is even more difficult for separated parents, who are weighed down by their condition: poor souls, they have had difficulties, they have separated  and so often the child is taken as hostage and the father speaks badly to him of his mother and the mother speaks badly to him of the father, and so much harm is done. But I say to separated parents: never, never, never take the child as hostage! You have separated because of many difficulties and motives, life has given you this trial, but the children must not bear the weight of this separation, they must not be used as hostages against the other spouse. They must grow hearing the mother speak well of the father, even though they are not together, and the father speaking well of the mother. For separated parents this is very important and very difficult, but they can do it.

However, above all, is the question: how to educate? What tradition do we have today to transmit to our children?

“Critical” intellectuals of all kinds have silenced parents in a thousand ways, to defend the young generations from harm — real or imagined — of family education. Among other things, the family has been accused of authoritarianism, favoritism, conformism, and of emotional repression that generates conflicts.

In fact, a rupture has been opened between the family and society, between the family and school; today the educational pact has been broken. And thus, the educational alliance of society with the family has entered into crisis because reciprocal trust has been undermined. The symptoms are many. For instance, relations between parents and teachers in the school have been damaged. At times there are tensions and mutual mistrust and the consequences naturally fall on the children. On the other hand, the so-called “experts” have multiplied, who have taken the role of parents even in the most intimate aspects of education. On emotional life, on personality and on development, on rights and duties the “experts” know everything: objectives, motivations, techniques. And parents must only listen, learn and adapt themselves. Deprived of their role, they often become excessively apprehensive and possessive in dealing with their children, to the point of not correcting them ever: “You can’t correct your child.” They tend increasingly to entrust them to the “experts,” even for the most delicate and personal aspects of their life, putting themselves in the corner, and thus parents today run the risk of excluding themselves from the life of their children. And this is very grave! Today there are cases of this type. I don’t say it happens always, but there are cases. The schoolteacher reprimands the child and writes a note to the parents. I remember a personal anecdote. Once when I was in the fourth year of elementary school I said a bad word to the teacher and the teacher, a good woman, had my mother called. She came the next day, they spoke together and then I was called. And, in front of the teacher, my mother explained to me that what I had done was a bad thing, which I must not do, but my mother did so with such gentleness and she asked me in front of her to ask the teacher for forgiveness. I did so and then I was happy because I said: the story ended well. However, that was the first chapter! When I returned home, the second chapter began … Imagine if today the teacher does something of the sort, the next day the two parents or one of the two reprimands her, because the “experts” say that children must not be reprimanded like that. Things have changed! For this reason parents must not exclude themselves from the education of their children.

Evidently this approach is not good: it isn’t harmonious, it isn’t dialogic, and instead of fostering collaboration between the family and the other educational agencies, the school, it opposes them.

How have we arrived at this point? There is no doubt that parents, or better, certain educational models of the past had some limitations, there’s no doubt. However, it is also true that there are mistakes that only parents are allowed to make, because they can compensate for them in a way that is impossible for anyone else. On the other hand, we know it well, life has become stingy of time to talk, to reflect, to deal with one another. Many parents are “kidnapped” by work – father and mother must work – and by other preoccupations, hampered by the new needs of the children and the complexity of present-day life – which is like this, we must accept it as it is – and they feel paralyzed out of feart of making a mistake. However, the problem is not only to speak. In fact, a superficial “dialogism” does not lead to a true encounter of the mind and of the heart. Rather, we should ask ourselves: do we try to understand “where” the children really are in their journey? Do we know where their heart really is? And, above all: do we want to know it? Are we convinced that, in reality, they don’t expect something else?

The Christian communities are called to offer support to the educational mission of families, and they do so first of all with the light of the Word of God. The Apostle Paul reminds us of the reciprocity of duties between parents and children: “Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged” (Colossians 3:20-21). At the base of everything is love, what God gives us, “it is not arrogant or rude, does not insist on its own way, is not irritable or resentful, … bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:5-6). Even in the best families it is necessary to endure one another, and so much patience is needed to endure one another! But life is like this. Life is not made in a laboratory, it is made in reality. Jesus himself went through family education. In this case also, the grace of the life of Christ leads to fulfillment what is inscribed in human nature. How many wonderful examples we have of Christian parents full of human wisdom! They show that a good family education is the spinal cord of humanism. Their social radiation is the resource that makes it possible to compensate for the lacunae, the wounds, the voids of paternity and maternity that touch less fortunate children. This radiation can do genuine miracles. And these miracles happen every day in the Church.

I hope that the Lord will give Christian families the faith, the freedom and the courage necessary for their mission. If family education rediscovers the pride of its leadership, many things will change for the better, for hesitant parents and for disappointed children. It is time that fathers and mothers return from their exile – because they have exiled themselves from the education of their children –, and reassume fully their educational role. We hope that the Lord will give parents this grace: not to exile themselves from the education of their children. And only love, tenderness and patience can do this.

* * *

Speaker:

Dear Brothers and Sisters: In our catechesis on the family, today we consider the vocation of families to educate their children, to raise them in the profound human values which are the backbone of a healthy society. This educational mission, essential as it is, nowadays encounters a variety of difficulties. Parents spend less time with their children and schools are often more influential than families in shaping the thinking and values of the young. Yet the relationship between family and school ought to be harmonious. Our children need sure guidance in the process of growing in responsibility for themselves and others. Christian communities are called to support the educational mission of families. They do this above all by living in fidelity to God’s world, cultivating faith, love and patience. Jesus himself was raised in a family; when he tells us that all who hear the word of God and obey are his brothers and sisters, he reminds us that for all their failings, our families can count on his inspiration and grace in the difficult but rewarding vocation of educating their children.

Pope Francis (In Italian):

I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s Audience, including those from Great Britain, Finland, Norway, South Africa, China, India, Korea, Canada and the United States of America. In a special way, I greet these young musicians, you played well! Upon all of you, and your families, I invoke an abundance of joy and peace in the Lord Jesus.  God bless you all!

* * *

Dear Italian-speaking pilgrims:

Welcome! I am happy to receive all those taking part in the course of missionary formation of the Pallotine Family; in the course promoted by the Auxilium Pontifical Faculty of Sciences of Education, and the Matera-Altamura-Bari Meeting of Peace and Culture. I greet the officers and military men of the Italian Army; the Associations and students, in particular the <bulgare> schools of several nations. I greet the parish groups, especially the faithful of Sparanise that are carrying the effigy of the Sorrowful Virgin of Torello. May the visit to the Tombs of the Apostles enhance in you the Easter joy of the Resurrection and predispose you to celebrate with faith the Solemnity of Pentecost.

A particular thought goes to young people, the sick and newlyweds. Today we celebrate the liturgical Memoria of Saint Bernardine of Siena. May his love for the Eucharist indicate to you, dear young people, the centrality of God in your life; may it encourage you sick to face with serenity your moments of suffering and stimulate you, dear newlyweds, to found your family on the love of God.

[Original text: Italian]

[Translation by ZENIT]

APPEAL

On the 24 May, the Catholics in China will implore with devotion Our Lady Help of Christians, venerated in the Shrine of Sheshan in Shanghai. In the statue, which towers above the Shrine, we see Mary who holds her Son high, presenting him to the world with arms opened wide in a gesture of love and mercy. We too will ask Mary to help Catholics in China to be always credible witnesses of this merciful love among their fellow citizens and to live spiritually united to the rock of Peter upon whom the Church is built.

* * *

The Italian Episcopal Conference has proposed that, on the occasion of the Vigil ff Pentecost, Dioceses remember the many brothers and sisters exiled or killed because of the sole fact of being Christians. They are martyrs. I hope that this time of prayer will make awareness grow that religious freedom is an inalienable human right, increase sensibility over the drama of persecuted Christians in our time and that an end be put to this unacceptable crime.

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Pope Francis advises separated parents on how to educate their children

Published on May 20, 2015

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Do not take your children “hostage,” he said. It does “great damage” to involve them in fights.

Pope Francis on Education of Children: ‘It is Time for Parents to Return from Their Exile’

Denounces Role of “Experts” Who Occupy Role of Fathers and Mothers during General Audience

By Junno Arocho Esteves

Vatican City State, May 20, 2015 (ZENIT.org)

Pope Francis continued his series of catechesis on the family at today’s General Audience in St. Peter’s Square. The Holy Father made his way around the square in his Popemobile with the sounds of musical bells by a group of children from Asia.

Beginning his address, the Holy Father expressed his joy at seeing so many families present with their children. “I would like to welcome you because I see so many families,” he said, “Good morning to all the families!”

The Pope dedicated today’s catechesis to an important aspect in the family: the education of children. Sympathizing with the difficulty that families have to make time with their children during the week, especially single parent homes.

The Holy Father noted that in today’s world, the family is under attack, saying that “intellectual ‘critics’ have tried to silence parents from the damage – real or imagined – of family education.”

“The family was accused, among other things, of authoritarianism, cronyism, of conformism, of emotional repression that generates conflicts,” he said. For this reason, he continued, this mutual trust between society and the family has been broken, causing a crisis between the educational alliances between them.”

The Holy Father lamented the rise in so-called “experts” who have occupied the role of parents “in the most intimate aspects of education.

On emotional life, on personality and development, on rights and duties, the ‘experts’ know everything: objectives, motivations, techniques. And parents only have to listen, learn and adapt,” he said. “Deprived of their role, [parents] become over-burdened and possessive of their children, never even correcting them.”

To explain this, the Holy Father recalled an episode from his childhood in which a teacher corrected him for disrespect. During a parent-teacher meeting, his mother explained to him why he should never again disrespect his teacher.

“Today, on the contrary, if a teacher does something like that, the next day either one or both parents will reproach the teacher because the ‘experts’ say that children should not be corrected in that way,” he said. “It is evident

“It is evident that this approach is not good,” the Pope said. “It is not harmonious, it is not dialogical, and rather than favoring the collaboration between families and other educational agents, it opposes them to one another.”

The Educational Mission of the Family

Regarding the role of the Church, Pope Francis stressed that the mission of the Christian community is to provide support to the educational mission of the family, particularly in the “light of the Word of God.”

“Even the best families need support and so much patience!” he exclaimed. “That is how life is! Life is not made in a laboratory, it is made in reality.”

Good family education is the backbone of humanism. Its influence is the social resource that allows you to make up for the drawbacks, the wounds, the gaps of parenthood that affect less fortunate children. This influence can do real miracles. And in the Church these miracles happen every day.”

Concluding his address, Pope Francis expressed his hope that the Lord will grant families the faith, freedom and courage that is necessary to their mission. “It is time for fathers and mothers to return from their exile, because they have self-exiled from the education of their children, and to fully reassume their educational role,” he said.

The Vortex—The End of Civilization

The Vortex—The End of Civilization

Published on May 20, 2015

It won’t be long now — just a few days.

When the barbarian hordes descended on Europe in the fourth and fiftth centuries, crushing underfoot what was left of cultural antiquity, it looked as if civilization was at an end. Irish monks, in their monasteries and scriptoriums, preserved the writings from antiquity by transcribing them for posterity. They kept the classics alive, safe in their isolation, keeping a secure touchstone to the civilization their faith had transformed. For this reason, the Irish are largely credited by historians with saving civilization.

This week, 1500 years of civilization will come to an end.

Indications are very strong that after hundreds of millions of U.S. dollars poured into the Irish nation by pagan Americans, homosexuality will win a national referendum as being equal to traditional marriage. Surveys do show the gap narrowing as we get down to the Friday vote, but the margin is still somewhere around 10 percent in favor of sodomite unions becoming legalized. This will be the first time in the history of the world that the issue will have been approved by a national referendum of voters.

It was Ireland — through St. Patrick —  that cemented the overthrow of homosexuality as an acceptable practice as it was engaged in regularly by the Celtic warriors. The rise of Catholicism brought an end to that. Now 1500-plus years later, homosexuality is being embraced and is evidence of Catholicism coming to an effective end in Ireland.

How did this happen? Two causes: the failure of Catholic leaders, and huge financial pressure from America.

First, the money: The grant foundation Atlantic Philanthropies has funneled hundreds of millions of dollars into Ireland to change the culture toward evil. Huge sums of money have been given in grants by AP to groups advocating for sodomite marriage. And if you’ve never heard of Atlantic Philanthropies, don’t worry. Many people haven’t. But you’ve heard of many things they’ve caused to happen — like Obamacare, for example. They were the leading bankroller of lobbying groups to push through the immoral legislation. And who said politicians couldn’t be bought? It should come as no surprise then that AP is also spending a fortune on all the illegal immigration efforts that keep coming up.

So, pro-homosexuality, pro-contraception/abortion, pro-illegal immigration — does anyone sense a civilization destabilization effort at work here?

And the only force able to counter this kind of organized evil is the Catholic Church. And where were Catholic leaders these last 20–30 years in Ireland? Nowhere to be found.

They were busy not teaching the Faith, covering up homosexual priests who raped altar boys, advancing the militant homosexual cause by talking like sissies about having to find a way to accommodate the disordered love between members of the same sex. Not totally surprising, that, since they counted so many active homosexuals in their own ranks.

Mark the date and put a big red circle around it: May 22 — the day that in all likelihood civilization comes to end, on the very shores that preserved it, brought on by a foreign invasion — and this time left undefended by a clergy who had forsaken the Faith and embraced the very evil their patron saint had defeated.

Pray that whatever Almighty God has to do to rid the world of these evils that He commence so that justice may be established.

Readings & Reflections: Thursday of the Seventh Week of Easter & St. Cristobal Magallanes & Companions, May 21,2015

Readings & Reflections: Thursday of the Seventh Week of Easter & St. Cristobal Magallanes & Companions, May 21,2015

The Mexican Constitution implemented in 1926 A.D. outlawed any public worship outside a church, closed Catholic schools, denied the Church’s right to hold property, and made it a crime to dress in clerical garb. With the cry of “Long live Christ the King and the Virgin of Guadalupe!” a three-year protest began against the revolutionary government. Mexican soldiers were charged with putting down the Catholic peasants, the Cristeros. Thousands were slaughtered. Twenty-five celebrated today were priests and laymen, preaching and teaching in rural areas. They never took up arms. One by one, they were abducted, tortured, and killed, the first in 1915 and the last in 1937.

AMDG+

Opening Prayer

Heavenly Father, there are so many divisions among your people. There are divisions within ourselves, our families, our church and  our nation. We live in a world full of divisions which have matured to be oppositions. Lord God, we pray not only for our tolerance, our getting along, or just being nice to each other. He hope and pray that our differences would be eliminated and that we be one Body in Jesus’ Name. We pray that we be one as You and Jesus are one so that our oneness may be the revelation of your presence amongst us. Bless  us  with your unity and oneness as we pray in the Mighty Name of Jesus. Amen.

Reading 1
Acts 22:30; 23:6-11

Wishing to determine the truth
about why Paul was being accused by the Jews,
the commander freed him
and ordered the chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin to convene.
Then he brought Paul down and made him stand before them.

Paul was aware that some were Sadducees and some Pharisees,
so he called out before the Sanhedrin,
“My brothers, I am a Pharisee, the son of Pharisees;
I am on trial for hope in the resurrection of the dead.”
When he said this,
a dispute broke out between the Pharisees and Sadducees,
and the group became divided.
For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection
or angels or spirits,
while the Pharisees acknowledge all three.
A great uproar occurred,
and some scribes belonging to the Pharisee party
stood up and sharply argued,
“We find nothing wrong with this man.
Suppose a spirit or an angel has spoken to him?”
The dispute was so serious that the commander,
afraid that Paul would be torn to pieces by them,
ordered his troops to go down and rescue Paul from their midst
and take him into the compound.
The following night the Lord stood by him and said, “Take courage.
For just as you have borne witness to my cause in Jerusalem,
so you must also bear witness in Rome.”

The Word of the Lord.
Responsorial Psalm
Ps 16:1-2a and 5, 7-8, 9-10, 11

R. (1) Keep me safe, O God; you are my hope.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Keep me, O God, for in you I take refuge;
I say to the LORD, “My Lord are you.”
O LORD, my allotted portion and my cup,
you it is who hold fast my lot.
R. Keep me safe, O God; you are my hope.
or:
R. Alleluia.
I bless the LORD who counsels me;
even in the night my heart exhorts me.
I set the LORD ever before me;
with him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed.
R. Keep me safe, O God; you are my hope.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Therefore my heart is glad and my soul rejoices,
my body, too, abides in confidence;
Because you will not abandon my soul to the nether world,
nor will you suffer your faithful one to undergo corruption.
R. Keep me safe, O God; you are my hope.
or:
R. Alleluia.
You will show me the path to life,
fullness of joys in your presence,
the delights at your right hand forever.
R. Keep me safe, O God; you are my hope.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Gospel
Jn 17:20-26

Lifting up his eyes to heaven, Jesus prayed saying:
“I pray not only for these, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you,
that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me.
And I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may be brought to perfection as one,
that the world may know that you sent me, and that you loved them even as you loved me. Father, they are your gift to me. I wish that where I am they also may be with me, that they may see my glory that you gave me, because you loved me before the foundation of the world. Righteous Father, the world also does not know you, but I know you, and they know that you sent me. I made known to them your name and I will make it known, that the love with which you loved me may be in them and I in them.”

The Gospel of the Lord.

Reflection 1 – Oneness with the Father

While Jesus was on earth, He lived in total oneness with the Father.  He was in constant union with the Father as He always opened Himself up to Him and was completely responsive to His will. As members of His Church, we are asked to imitate what Jesus did. If we remain open to Him and be responsive to His will, we can be His Church united in word and deed, one in mind, heart, soul and spirit and strengthened only by our love for God and one another.

A church that is in union with God has a Guide and Mentor Who sees all and knows all what is best for His people. If we remain in Him and abide by His will, He blesses our work for Him. He speaks to us through the affairs in community from deep within and brings unto us wisdom, peace, and joy. He is constantly with us and shows us the way to draw the good even from what may seem lopsidedly absurd and quite distant from His word.

If all of us are one with Christ, then we can only be a church that is one in our work, one with the Father as Jesus and the Father are one.  As such we will have the peace of seeing all things in the light of our profound conviction that we have pursued God’s will for His people and have been faithful to our calling.

One of the greatest fears that can prevail within a church is for its brethren to be at odds with one another and be separated from God through conflict and self-focus. But God will not allow this to happen to His people as our Lord loves us, walks with us, and guides us till the end of time. If we remain in Him and are obedient to His word, we can only bear much fruit and be assured of peace and serenity as Jesus long ago promised that He will never leave us alone and will send His Holy Spirit. Through the Holy Spirit, God is encouraging, strengthening, guiding, and healing His church so that we may all be brought to perfection as one, as Father and Son are one!

Lord as one community made up of members with diverse gifts, needs and backgrounds, make us one so we may be united in our ministry/apostolate, so we may be one in heart, mind and spirit in setting our vision and mission as God’s church and community and pursuing the same with same zeal and commitment.

Let us pray to the Father just as Jesus did…lifting up his eyes to heaven and prayed: “I pray …for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that they may be brought to perfection as one, and that you love them even as you loved me.

Direction

Be one with Christ. Endeavor a personal relationship with Jesus through a ministry or apostolate. Examine one’s commitment to community goals and objectives. Witness your oneness in Christ as a community by reaching out to the poor and the persecuted.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, help me take courage. Give me the grace to be always faithful and be one with You as I endeavor to witness for you. In Jesus, I pray. Amen.

Reflection 2 – May all be one

In this gospel reading, which is taken from Jesus’ prayer at the Last Supper, he makes two assertions that are both astounding and troubling. He says that his followers are to be one, and they are to convert the world. At first sight, it looks as though things haven’t worked out that way at all. Christians are divided into many different churches: Roman Catholic, Episcopalian, Eastern Orthodox, and many different kinds of Protestants. Even the Catholic Church suffers from deep and painful divisions among our members. As for converting the world – well, we have a long way to go, to say the least.

That’s the bad news. If you look more closely, though, you’ll see a lot of good news, too. Yes, the Christian churches are separated from one another. We can never be happy about that, and never settle for it; we have to keep striving for reunion. Jesus himself wanted there to be “one flock and one shepherd.” But let’s not exaggerate our divisions. Remember what unites all these churches. They all acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior; they share the same baptism; and they accept the same creed that we recite every Sunday. Whatever divides us is less than what unites us. They are our “separated brothers and sisters” – separated, yes, but still our brothers and sisters one household of the faith. Families sometimes break up, but the members never stop being family.

And what about that other prayer that Jesus made: his followers should convert the world? Well, we certainly have tried! And by “we” I don’t mean just the Catholics. Those other Christian churches have always sent missionaries to all parts of the world and have won converts to faith in Christ. When Jesus was leaving this earth, he told his disciples to go teach all nations and baptize them. That effort still goes on. Young men and women among us still leave home to labor in distant lands, and you yourselves have always made generous contributions to their efforts. Those missionaries today see their work not only as making converts but also as working for the poor, ministering to the sick, and improving the lives of those whom they serve. These are things that must bring joy to the heart of God.

And what about the divisions within the Catholic Church itself? That’s a sad story, and we have to try to do better and live in harmony and mutual respect. But, once again, let’s not exaggerate. We Catholics disagree about a lot of things: birth control, women’s ordination, homosexuality, capital punishment, and even war and peace. But we all come together on Sunday to hear God’s word, to say the creed, and to receive Jesus Christ in Holy Communion. That’s a lot! It’s a lot bigger than all our disagreements.

So let’s keep working for Christian unity. Let’s keep building bridges to one another. And let’s keep bringing the gospel to people far away. All we can do is our best. The rest is up to God.

How important is it for Christians to strive for unity? What can I contribute? (Source: Fr. James DiGiacomo, SJ. Sundays with Jesus: Reflection for the year of Luke. New York: Paulist Press, 2006, pp. 40-42).

Reflection 3 – My ways are not your ways, says the Lord

The Bible does not try to prove the existence of God; it takes it for granted. Remember the opening verse, “In the beginning God…” (Gen 1:1; Jn 1:1). Neither does the Bible try to define God; it simply describes God in a variety of ways: the Almighty One (Gen 17:1), the Creator (Ecc 12:1), the Father (Jer 3:19; Mt 6:9). God is and always will be a mystery to us. We cannot see the totality of the divine being. Protestant theologian Karl Barth put it bluntly, “All we think we know when we say ‘God’ does not reach and comprehend Him who is called ‘God.’” The best we can hope for is an occasional glimpse or a momentary insight.

You have probably heard the observation that “God created man in his image, and man has been returning the compliment ever since.” We all struggle with the concept of God and in frustration often create a God in our own image. We all are tempted to break the First Commandment, putting some strange or alien god before the real one (Ex 20:1-6). Today’s Gospel (Jn 17:20-26) account contains the early church’s admission that God is different, other, beyond us.

Catholic theologian Hans Kung explain, “God is by definition that which cannot be understood.” Even if we can by reason posit the existence of God by our observation of creation and human nature, we still cannot know God on our own. God must reach across to us, must invade our lives, must reveal himself if ever we are to grow in our appreciation of the Divine One. And that is precisely what Jesus did, when God became man and dwelt among us. We needed God to take us beyond reason to revelation, to move us from the merely human to the truly divine.

For most of the Easter season we have been reading from the Gospel of John. His account is more challenging than the other three; his is concerned less about what Jesus says and does, and more about who Jesus is. His theology penetrates more deeply into the mystery of Jesus and the Father. Today’s Liturgy of the Word invites us to have faith so that we may understand. For a moment we catch a glimpse of God, and how awesome it is to discover that God is love! (Source: Norman Langenbrunner, Weekday Homily Helps. Ohio: St. Anthony Messenger Press, May 28, 2009).

Reflection 4 – They may all be one

Do you pray as Jesus did for the unity of all Christians? Jesus prays, “That they may be one… that their unity may be complete… Father, all those you gave me I would have in my company…” All those terms: oneness, unity, company, I-in-them, you-in-me intimacy. This is the religion Jesus left us: a religion of connectedness, of community – with one another and with him. The point of Jesus’ prayer is God’s love that is to be discovered in relationship. And that takes time and sacrifice but this is the gospel priority Jesus preaches. This can be well explained in the following story:

A woman’s happiness was shattered by the loss of her brother, a good man, dearly loved. Torn by anguish, she kept asking God, “Why?” But hearing the silence, she set out in search of an answer. She had not gone far when she came upon an old man sitting on a bench. He was weeping. He said, “I have suffered a great loss. I am a painter and I have lost my eyesight.” He too was seeking an answer to the question, “Why?” The woman invited him to join her and, taking him by the arm, they trudged down the road. Soon they overtook a young man walking aimlessly. He had lost his wife, the source of his joy, to another man. He joined in the search of an answer to the “why” question. Shortly they came up a young woman weeping on her front doorstep. She had lost her child. She too joined them. Nowhere could they find an answer. Suddenly they came upon Jesus Christ.

Each confronted him with their questions, but Jesus gave no answer. Instead, he began to cry and said, “I am bearing the burden of a woman who has lost her brother, a girl whose baby has died, a painter who has lost his eyesight, and a young man who has lost a love in which he delighted.” As he spoke, the four moved closer and they embraced each other. And they grasped Jesus’ hands. Jesus spoke again saying, “My dominion is the dominion of the heart. I cannot prevent pain. I can only heal it.” “How?” asked the woman. “By sharing it,” he said. And then he was gone. And the four they were left standing holding each other.

That story gives us a lesson of how to handle ourselves against the pain of separation and disunity among our loved ones. In the gospel, Jesus prays for us that as members of his body the church we would be one as he and his Father is one. The unity of Jesus and his Father is a unity of love and obedience and a unity of personal relationship. And one of the greatest fears that can prevail within a church is for its brethren to be at odds with one another and be separated from God and through conflict and self-focus. But God will not allow this to happen to His people as our Lord loves us, walks with us, and guides us till the end of time. If we remain in Him and are obedient to His word, we can only bear much fruit and be assured of peace and serenity as Jesus long ago promised that He will never leave us alone and will send His Holy Spirit. Through the Holy Spirit, God is encouraging, strengthening, guiding and healing His church so that we may all be brought to perfection as one, as Father and Son are one!

“Lord God, have mercy on your people and heal the divisions in the body of Christ. May, all Christian people throughout the world attain the unity for which Jesus prayed on the eve of his sacrifice. Renew in us the power of the Spirit that we may be a sign of that unity and a means of its growth. Increase in us a fervent love for all our brothers and sisters in Christ.”

Reflection 5 – The glory Jesus gives us

On one occasion, Saint Alphonsus Rodriquez, S.J., was praying before an image of Mary. His heart became inflamed with love for her and he cried out: “My dearest Mother, I know that you love me, but you do not love me as much as I love you.” Mary, offended, as it were, on a point of love, immediately answered: “What are you saying, Alphonsus? My love for you is greater than any love you could have for me. The distance between heaven and earth is not so great as the distance between your love and mine.”

Saint Bonaventure then was right in exclaiming: “Blessed are the hearts that love Mary! Blessed are those who serve her!” Yes, for Mary will never allow herself to be surpassed in love by her clients. “In this contest, she will never be worsted by us. She return our love and always adds some new favors to past ones.” In this respect Mary imitates our most loving Redeemer. She returns to those who love her their love doubled and redoubled in favors and benefits.

With Saint Anselm, so enamored of Mary, I also exclaim: “May the love of you, O Mary, make my heart languish and my soul melt!” May my heart always burn and my soul be consumed with love for you, my dear Savior, and for you, my dear Mother Mary. Through your merits therefore, and not because I deserve it grant my suppliant soul a love that is worthy of you. Therefore, through your merits and not my own, O Jesus and Mary, grant my soul the grace to love you as much as you deserve. O lover of souls, you were able to love guilty men unto death. Will you then refuse love for yourself and for your Mother to one who prays for it? (Source: Saint Alphonsus Liguori, +1787 A.D., Magnificat, Vol. 17, No. 3, May 2015, pp. 322-323).

Reflection 6 – St. Cristóbal Magallanes and Companions (d. 1915-1928 A.D.)

Like Blessed Miguel Agustín Pro, S.J., Cristóbal and his 24 companion martyrs lived under a very anti-Catholic government in Mexico, one determined to weaken the Catholic faith of its people. Churches, schools and seminaries were closed; foreign clergy were expelled. Cristóbal established a clandestine seminary at Totatiche, Jalisco. Magallanes and the other priests were forced to minister secretly to Catholics during the presidency of Plutarco Calles (1924-28).

All of these martyrs except three were diocesan priests. David, Manuel and Salvador were laymen who died with their parish priest, Luis Batis. All of these martyrs belonged to the Cristero movement, pledging their allegiance to Christ and to the Church that he established to spread the Good News in society—even if Mexico’s leaders once made it a crime to receive Baptism or celebrate the Mass.

These martyrs did not die as a single group but in eight Mexican states, with Jalisco and Zacatecas having the largest number. They were beatified in 1992 and canonized eight years later.

Read the source: http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1913

Comment:

Every martyr realizes how to avoid execution but refuses to pay the high price of doing so. A clear conscience was more valuable than a long life. We may be tempted to compromise our faith while telling ourselves that we are simply being realistic, dealing with situations as we find them. Is survival really the ultimate value? Do our concrete, daily choices reflect our deepest values, the ones that allow us to “tick” the way we do? Anyone can imagine situations in which being a follower of Jesus is easier than the present situation. Saints remind us that our daily choices, especially in adverse circumstances, form the pattern of our lives.

Quote:

During his homily at the canonization Mass on May 21, 2000, Saint John Paul II addressed the Mexican men, women and children present in Rome and said: “After the harsh trials that the Church endured in Mexico during those turbulent years, today Mexican Christians, encouraged by the witness of these witnesses to the faith, can live in peace and harmony, contributing the wealth of gospel values to society. The Church grows and advances, since she is the crucible in which many priestly and religious vocations are born, where families are formed according to God’s plan, and where young people, a substantial part of the Mexican population, can grow with the hope of a better future. May the shining example of Cristóbal Magallanes and his companion martyrs help you to make a renewed commitment of fidelity to God, which can continue to transform Mexican society so that justice, fraternity and harmony will prevail among all.”