(Photo©Father Lawrence Lew, O.P. Used With Permission)

"Among creatures no one knows Christ better than Mary; no one can introduce us to a profound knowledge of his mystery better than his mother." - St. John Paul II

Ultimately Our Faith Must Rest In The Lord

It's been awhile since we've ended a Sunday on this blog with a song.

Thanks to  Chris Tomlin, YouTube and "The Happy Priest" - Father James Farfaglia, the drought is ended.

It's nice to be reminded of what awaits us when the spirtual combat on this earth comes to an end.

God's blessing on all those who visit this blog.

"For Evil To Prevail Good Men and Women Need Do Nothing!"

Now is the time to stand up for religious freedom. Begin by visiting the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops here. Take action NOW!

If you do not understand why contraception is such a serious evil and sin and why God and His Church prohibit artificial contraception get a copy of Pope Paul VI's EncyclicalHumanae Vitae. Prayerfully read and ponder it.

Share it with the many other Catholics you know who may never have read or understood this vital teaching.  If you had previously read this prophetic document, re-read and study it more carefully.

Humane Vitae is not very lengthy and very easy to understand. Equip yourself and those you love for the battle that lies ahead.

If you are among the substantially large number of Catholics in this country who reportedly are engaging in or have  engaged in this eternally lethal practice, this is God's clarion call for you to ask Him for the grace to accept His teaching and for His forgiveness in Sacramental Confession.

Remembering St. Thomas Aquinas

Thomas Aquinas was born to a noble family in Aquino (Italy) in 1225. They objected to his entering the Order of Preachers (Dominicans) but he did so in 1244. At the age of nineteen, he went on to study under Saint Albert the Great.  His life is succinctly but beautifully summarized in today’s “Supplement to the Liturgy of the Hours for the Order of Preachers”:

 “He devoted all his energy to the service      of  truth,  eagerly searching it out, lovingly contemplating it, and imparting it to others through his writing, his teaching and his preaching. His life was marked by devotion to the Passion of the Lord, to the mystery of the Eucharist, and to the Virgin Mary, Mother of God.”

Known as the Angelic Doctor, he is often described as one of the greatest philosophers, theologians and Catholic teachers of all time. This is the man who produced the Summa Theologiae, the theological master piece that has survived centuries of scrutiny, continues to guide the Church, and is the foundation upon which Dominican friars and countless priests, religious and lay men and women have been and are currently being formed.

St. Thomas began working on the Summa in 1266. But in 1273, three months before his death, he abruptly and intentionally chose not to complete this work. It has been reported that he “underwent an experience so intense” while saying Mass on the feast day of St. Nicholas (December 6, 1273), that after that Mass, he stated he could no longer write “because all that I have written seems to me so much straw”. 

As brilliant, learned, and insightful as St. Thomas Aquinas was he was above all things:  humble. Less we forget that learning can often lure us to excessive pride, he left us these pearls of wisdom: “The highest form of teaching comes not from books written, but from lives lived.”

Thomas died on March 7, 1274. He was canonized in 1323 and declared a Doctor of the Catholic Church in 1567. Pope Leo XII declared him Patron of all Universities and Catholic Schools.

No discussion of St. Thomas Aquinas, even such a short inadequate summary as this, should end without some mention of the beautiful Eucharistic hymns that he left for his beloved Church. Only a man who intimately loved his Eucharistic Lord could have been used by that loving God to compose Adoro te Devote, Pange LinguaPanis Angelicus or Tantum Ergo. Why not spend a few quiet minutes today listening to and allowing the majestic nature of these songs stir your heart and soul?

[Today there are many ways to access the Summa Theologiae. New Advent has an online-searchable version. My Lay Dominican sister, Faith Flaherty, at The One True Faith blog, recently linked to other contemporary resources.

If you don’t feel up to tackling the Summa head on right now, then consider a great classic -  one of my favorite books - My Way of Life (Pocket Edition of St. Thomas, The Summa Simplified for Everyone) by Walter Farrell, O.P. S.T.M. and Martin J. Healy, S.T.D. Easy to understand and only $8.50 (plus postage) it is a spiritual steal. You can go directly to the Confraternity of the Precious Blood in Brooklyn, N.Y. and arrange to purchase your copy. You will not regret the purchase. I am not affiliated with the Confraternity of the Precious Blood and will receive no remuneration for making this recommendation. This is just a “must have resource” for any Catholic serious about studying his/her Faith.]

Sources: Picture of St. Thomas -Jared Dees; Supplement to the Liturgy of the Hours for the Order of Preachers; Thomas Aquinas: Summa Theologiae; Thomas Aquinas’ Big Pileof Straw by Fred Sanders, and You Tube

Eucharistic Reflection

"..Jesus has been the Bread of life for so many centuries, and yet during all those centuries countless souls have died of hunger. many never knew Him, many never saw him again once the day of their First Holy Communion was over. Even now there are many who are at once sick and tired of it, not to say disgusted, when you begin to speak to Him; many only then make up their minds to receive Him when a threatening voice speaks within them and fills them with fear...So there He is, the God who has loved them from all eternity and Who ceases not to love them now; and He must look upon them while they waste away and die of hunger. He can do nothing for them; their sad indifference repels Him when He would approach, bind those divine hands that would bless and do good. The Savior without souls! Poor Jesus!"

(Eucharistic Whisperings, Father Winfrid Herbst, SDS)
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The Wisdom of St. Francis de Sales

Today we commemorate the life of St. Francis de Sales, Bishop and Doctor of our Church. His Introduction to the Devout Life is a timeless spiritual treasure that has had a profound impact on many a searching soul - including myself. I am indebted to my first spiritual director for having given me his personal copy of this classic and for putting me on a solid spiritual path. I consider this one of the most important and life changing spiritual books that I have ever read. 

 To wet your appetite, take a reflective look-see at how Saint Francis so exquisitely puts our ability to accept suffering in its proper perspective:

“The Everlasting God has in His wisdom foreseen from eternity the cross that He now presents to you as a gift from His innermost heart. This cross He now sends you is considered with His all-knowing eyes, understood with His divine mind, tested with His wise justice, warmed with loving arms and weighed with His own hands, to see that it be not one inch too large and not one ounce too heavy for you. He has blessed it with His Holy Name, anointed it with His grace, perfumed it with His consolation, taken one last look at you and your courage, and then sent it to you from heaven, a special greeting from God to you, an alms of the all-merciful love of God.”

He is just as clear about our need to be ever mindful of eternity:

“Oh my soul, you must one day part with this body, but when shall that day be?  Shall it be in the winter, or in the summer?  In the city, or in the country?  By day, or by night? Shall it be suddenly, or on notice given you?  Shall you have leisure to make your Confession?  Shall you have the assistance of your spiritual father?  Alas, of all this, you know nothing at all!  Only certain it is that you must die.  In fact, as it almost always happens, much sooner than you imagine.”

Read this and let me know if the good Bishop believes we are much too casual with our speech and the impact it has on people’s reputations and lives:

“Whenever I speak of my neighbor, the tongue in my mouth is like a scalpel in the hands of a surgeon who wishes to cut between the nerves and the tendons. The stroke I give must be neither more nor less than the truth.”

Even this cursory view of his writings should help you understand how it upsets me  whenever I hear anyone suggest Introduction to the Devout Life is too antiquated and of little value to the contemporary, post-Vatican II Catholic. Hogwash! Nothing could be further from the truth!

Today’s feast day of this great saint would be a perfectly good day to find out for yourself. If you have never read it, get a copy and dive right into it. If it has been awhile since you had your nose in between its pages, dust it off and get back into it.

And while you are at it, consider taking a look at Forgotten Truths To Set Faith Afire! –Words to Challenge, Inspire and Instruct – another treasure trove of sound tidbits of spiritual nourishment.

And A Little Child Will Lead Them...

I joined more than a hundred others individuals in Syracuse, New York today in the annual March For Life. It was cold - an insignificant inconvenience in comparison to the innocent ones in our community and throughout this nation and the world who have lost their lives at the hands of an abortionist.

May our physical witness there today be a source of consolation to them and encouragement for more Catholics to become engaged in this essential battle to protect and save lives.

I stood in the back of the group as it assembled after the march to hear the words of local pro-life leaders that included, among others, a mother of eight, the local coordinators of Forty Days For Life, and this area's stridently pro-life and courageous Congresswoman, Ann Marie Buerkle. Thank God they are among us. Pray for these women and for who sacrifice and suffer much in their efforts to protect and save lives.

As inspiring and encouraging were the words of these women and of the prayers offered there today, it was the silent homily that occurred right in front of me but behind and outside the view of the assembled crowd that most touched my heart and left me filled with hope.

Two little girls about 4 and 6 years of age built a snow canvas on a nearby tree trunk. Both carefully and meticulously packed the snow as tightly as their little hands would allow them. Then with just as much attention and care, one of the girls carved out the image of the cross you see in the picture accompanying this post. She went back and repacked the snow around the now created cross to make sure the image would remain on this tree. She left but returned seconds later to get another look at her handiwork. After a brief pause, she waved good-bye to the image she had created and left the area with her family.

What prompted such a young child to create such a powerful image? Only God knows but I would like to think the Holy Spirit used this little angel to remind us older folk of these immutable truths - the price Jesus paid for our sins, the suffering each of us will experience (and hopefully learn to embrace) in this lifetime, the promise of God's forgiveness for those who seek it, and the gift of eternal life for those who come to love and serve Him.

With little angels like the one I saw today, success in the battle to defend the dignity of all human life must be closer than we think.

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He Had A Way With Words!

Yes, I’ll admit it. I love everything I ever read that was written by the late Servant of God, Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen. You will find more than two dozen of his gems included in my book, Forgotten Truths To Stir Faith Afire! –Words to Challenge, Inspire and Instruct”. 

The following, however, is one that got away. I don’t know how I overlooked it:

"America is suffering not so much from intolerance, which is bigotry, as it is from tolerance, which is indifference to truth and error, and a philosophical nonchalance that has been interpreted as broad-mindedness."

(Servant of God, Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen)


Eucharistic Reflection

“I told Him this morning in Holy Communion that I want to belong wholly to Him and that always…What a loving glance He gave me then!...O how far away from Him my thoughts already are…how far away my heart…how far!

O why do I treat Him so? Poor Jesus! He always thinks of me, and I think so seldom of Him.”

(Eucharistic Whisperings, Father Winfrid Herbst, SDS)

I Could Not Have Planned A More Appropriate Follow-up

In my last post, building upon the observations of the late Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, I suggested he would agree that many who flocked to pyschologists and psychiatrists would be better served by spending less time on the couch and more time at the foot of Jesus’ Cross, on their knees in front of His tabernacle and in the confessional from which flows the spiritual cleansing and healing graces they seek and which our loving and merciful Lord offers in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Today, a friend Mary T. shared this with her Facebook friends, of which I am one. I don't think I could have found a more appropriate follow-up to my previous blog.

May many more come to discover the mercy, forgiveness, and graces that flow from the Sacrment of Reconcilation!

(Video credit to RomanCatholic33 and YouTube.com)

Have We Forgotten?

We marvel at the physical miracles, big and small, that Jesus performed during His time here on earth – for example raising Lazarus from the dead and healing St. Peter’s mother-in-law of her fever. And well we should.

But what we often overlook is the frequency with which Jesus spoke to and expelled demons – as is mentioned in today’s Gospel. Isn’t it foolish to think that there is less demonic presence in our current times then when Jesus walked this earth?

The reality of Satan and the never ending spiritual battle to which we are subjected during our earthly lives are two topics rarely discussed or considered these days. Too few among us recognize that we are engaged in spiritual combat with the unseen demons roaming the world in search of our souls.

This is not, according to Father George P. Schommer, O.P., a good thing:

“The devil is real.  We fail to recognize the reality of his existence and power and therefore we often fall prey to his many tricks.  Satan’s goal is to lead us away from God and to separate us from Him for all eternity…Satan wants us to despair, to give up, to separate us from God and lead us to hopelessness.  We cannot fight this spiritual battle on our own.  We fail because we rely on our own resources.  We fail to grasp that a missile is coming in from the enemy.  We try on our own to defeat Satan.  We cannot succeed on our own.”

This good Dominican is not alone. The late Servant of God, Archbishop J. Sheen, insisted that many seeking the assistance of psychologists and psychiatrists suffer not from mental illness, but from their failure to recognize and repent of the sin in their lives. They would be better served by spending less time on the couch and more time at the foot of Jesus’ Cross, on their knees in front of His tabernacle and in the confessional from which flows the spiritual cleansing and healing graces they seek and which our loving and merciful Lord offers in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Let’s be clear then. Satan and his cohorts are real. Just look around you. There is abundant and irrefutable evidence.

We don’t. Consequently, evil often roams unimpeded and countless souls are lost.

Eucharistic Reflection

That we may show fitting reverence when entering Your holy temple.

We beseech You hear us!

That we may make suitable preparation before approaching the Altar.

We beseech You hear us!

That we may receive You frequently in Holy Communion with real devotion and true humility.

We beseech You hear us!

That we may never neglect to thank You for so wonderful a blessing.

We beseech You hear us!

That we may cherish time spent in silent prayer before You.

We beseech You hear us!

That we may grow in knowledge of this Sacrament of sacraments.

We beseech You hear us!

That all priests may have a profound love of the Holy Eucharist.

We beseech You hear us!

That they may celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in accordance with its sublime dignity.

We beseech You hear us!

That we may be comforted and sanctified with Holy Viaticum at the hour of our death.  

We beseech You hear us!

That we may see You one day face to face in Heaven.

We beseech You hear us!

(Litany of the Most Blessed Sacrament – St. Peter Julian Eymard)

Forgotten Truths To Set Faith Afire! - Words to Challenge, Inspire and Instruct-Update

Great news!

The Kindle version of Forgotten Truths To Set Faith Afire! - Words to Challenge, Inspire and Instruct just became available on Kindle. It will take a few days for it to appear along side the soft copy currently available on Amazon.com.

You don't have to wait for Amazon to merge the two, You can go right here and buy your Kindle copy right now.

Would you help pass the word?

Pondering The Purpose of Our Lives

One of the many pearls you will find in Forgotten Truths To Set Faith Afire - Words to Challenge, Inspire and Instruct is this beautiful prayer  attributed to  Blessed John Cardinal Newman:

God has created me to do Him some definite service; He has committed some work to me, which He has not committed to another. I have my mission – I never may know it in this life, but I should be told it in the next. Somehow, I am necessary for His purposes, as necessary in my place as an Archangel in his – if, indeed, I fail, He can raise another, as He could make the stones children of Abraham. Yet, I have a part in this great work; I am a link in the chain, a bond of connection between persons. He has not created me for naught. I shall do good, I shall do His work; I shall be an angel of peace, a preacher of truth in my own place, while not intending it, if I do but keep His commandments and serve Him in my calling.

Therefore I will trust Him. Whatever, wherever I am, I can never be thrown away. If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve Him; in perplexity, my perplexity may serve Him; if I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve Him. My sickness, or perplexity, or sorrow may be necessary causes of some great end, which is quite beyond us. He does nothing in vain; He may prolong my life, He may shorten it; He knows what He is about; He may take away my friends; He may throw me among strangers; He may make me feel desolate, make my spirits sink, hide the future from me - still He knows what He is about.