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

"Whenever anything disagreeable or displeasing happens to you, remember Christ crucified and be silent."— St. John of the Cross

Eucharistic Reflection

O Blessed Host, in whom is contained the testament of God’s mercy for us, and especially for poor sinners.

O Blessed Host, in whom is contained the Body and Blood of the Lord Jesus as proof of infinite mercy for us, and especially to poor sinners.

O Blessed Host, in whom is contained life eternal and of infinite mercy, dispensed in abundance to us and especially to poor sinners.

O Blessed Host, in whom is contained the mercy of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit toward us, and especially toward poor sinners.

O Blessed Host, in whom is contained the infinite price of mercy which will compensate for all our debts, and especially those of poor sinners.

O Blessed Host, in whom is contained the fountain of living water which springs from infinite mercy for us, and especially for poor sinners.

O Blessed Host, in whom is contained the fire of purest love which blazes forth from the bosom of the Eternal Father, as from an abyss of infinite mercy for us, and especially for poor sinners.

O Blessed Host, in whom is contained the medicine for all our infirmities, flowing from infinite mercy, as from a fount, for us and especially for poor sinners.

O Blessed Host, in whom is contained the union between God and us through His infinite mercy for us, and especially for poor sinners.

O Blessed Host, in whom are contained all the sentiments of the most sweet Heart of Jesus toward us, and especially poor sinners.

O Blessed Host, our only hope in all the sufferings and adversities of life.

O Blessed Host, our only hope in the midst of darkness and of storms within and without.

O Blessed Host, our only hope in life and at the hour of our death.

O Blessed Host, our only hope in the midst of adversities and floods of despair.

O Blessed Host, our only hope in the midst of falsehood and treason.

O Blessed Host, our only hope in the midst of the darkness and godlessness which inundate the earth.

O Blessed Host, our only hope in the longing and pain in which no one will understand us.

O Blessed Host, our only hope in the toil and monotony of everyday life.

O Blessed Host, our only hope amid the ruin of our hopes and endeavors.

O Blessed Host, our only hope in the midst of the ravages of the enemy and the efforts of hell.

O Blessed Host, I trust in You when the burdens are beyond my strength and I find my efforts are fruitless.

O Blessed Host, I trust in You when storms toss my heart about and my fearful spirit tends to despair.

O Blessed Host, I trust in You when my heart is about to tremble and mortal sweat moistens my brow.

O Blessed Host, I trust in You when everything conspires against me and black despair creeps into my soul.

O Blessed Host, I trust in You when my eyes will begin to grow dim to all temporal things and, for the first time, my spirit will behold the unknown worlds.

O Blessed Host, I trust in You when my tasks will be beyond my strength and adversity will become my daily lot.

O Blessed Host, I trust in You when the practice of virtue will appear difficult for me and my nature will grow rebellious.

O Blessed Host, I trust in You when hostile blows will be aimed against me.

O Blessed Host, I trust in You when my toils and efforts will be misjudged by others.

O Blessed Host, I trust in You when Your judgments will resound over me; it is then that I will trust in the sea of Your mercy.

(Prayer of St. Faustina while in Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament from Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska (356))

(Credit also goes to Kevin who reminded me of this most beautiful prayer last night)

Stop What You Are Doing!

Run to your local theater and see OCTOBER BABY as soon as you are able! Bring as many of your family and friends with you as possible!

This film completes the incomplete public discussion of abortion and the dignity of all human life. The frank beauty and power of its message will anger some but change countless lives. It will cause many to look at this issue with different eyes - the eyes of a woman who survived a botched abortion, the eyes of the nurse who saved her life, the eyes of an aborted child whose life was so abruptly and needlessly ended, the eyes of adoptive parents, the eyes of a birth mother, and the eyes of Christ.

In between the tears, you will the see the power of faith, forgiveness, healing, and love. The awesome power of God's love for all Whom He has created will be evident to everyone. Reason and Truth will reign supreme. 

No one who views this film with an open mind and loving heart can continue to be ambivalent about the value of all human life and the obligation to protect such life from the moment of conception.

Don't you dare leave the theater until the credits have completely come to an end!

Oh, what great use God has made of the talents of the men, women and groups behind this movie!

Cinema is the battleground upon which the Truth can be shared and through which hearts, minds and lives can be changed.

Bravo! Praise God!

Seeking the Eucharistic Face of Christ

Father Mark at Vultus Christi offers another treasure trove for contemplation:

What Seek You?

Men Called to a Hidden Life
Our Lord continues to call souls to a hidden life of adoration and reparation. Jesus desires to have, close to His tabernacles on earth, men who will imitate His own hidden sacramental life in the adorable Mystery of His Real Presence. He is calling these men from a variety of backgrounds, saying to each one, "Come and see" (John 1:39).

The Hidden Dynamism of the Most Blessed Sacrament
The work of such men, their role in the Mystical Body of Christ, is, and will always be to seek the Eucharistic Face of Jesus, and to allow Him to reproduce the traits of that Face in their souls. Without leaving the enclosure of their monastery, without much speaking, and without appearing to do anything of value in the eyes of the world, such men enter into the hidden dynamism of the Most Blessed Sacrament.

The Little Way
A man called to this life will beseech the Our Lord to unite him inwardly to His Eucharistic humility, to His silence, His hiddenness, and His ceaseless prayer to the Father. A man called to this life will ask Our Lord to unite him to the uninterrupted oblation that, in the Sacrament of His Love, He makes of Himself to the Father. And then, he will go about the ordinary and often monotonous routine of monastic life, content to apply himself to the practice of obedience and to the service of the brethren in love. He will talk sparingly, smile readily, forgive promptly, love chastity, and, at the sound of the bell, move on to the next thing in the order of the day and embrace it manfully as the concrete expression of God's will for him. It's simple. It's the little way.

Transformed Into the Same Image
There is no moment in which Our Lord is not offering Himself, no moment in which the immolation of the Cross is not being re-presented to the Father from the silence of His tabernacles all over the earth. A man united to the mystery of Our Lord's Eucharistic life will find himself, even when he is not singing in choir, or kneeling before the tabernacle, in a state of perpetual adoration in spirit and in truth. In such men the Father takes delight because on their faces He recognizes the Face of His Son and in their voices His own Son's voice. And all of this is the work of the Holy Ghost, according to the word of Saint Paul: "But we all beholding the glory of the Lord with open face, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, as by the Spirit of the Lord" (2 Corinthians 3:18).

Eucharistic Reflection

"We pass the church and have no greeting for our amiable Savior; we meet Him on the street and are almost ashamed to recognize Him as God. Great sinners, notorious criminals, are treated better than He...Poor Jesus!"
(Eucharistic Whisperings, Father Winfrid Herbst, SDS)
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How's This For Clarity in Preaching?

At some point in the lives of far too many people, they no longer recognize or believe in the existence of sin. They  look right at it, desire it, engage in it, but don't see it for what it actually is - a grave offense and injustice to God, an act of immense ingratitude to He Who created them, and a conduit for eternal damnation.

When sin becomes that entrenched, love and zeal for the salvation of souls dictate that sinners be confronted with the Truth and  offered an opportunity to see and repent of the sin in which they are mired.

Such was the case in the 16th century when Dominican missionaries in the Americas were unable to convince their fellow countrymen to cease their abuse and mistreatment of the native populations. In order to protect those natives and to save the souls of their abusers, they had to preach the Truth with clarity and with no concern about "hurting" the "feelings" of their listeners. This is how one Dominican preacher confronted that evil head-on:

"I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness. In order to make your sins known to you I have mounted this pulpit, I who am the voice of Christ crying in the wilderness of this island; and therefore it behooves you to listen to me, not with indifference but with all your heart and senses; for this voice will be the strangest, the harshest and hardest, the most terrifying that you ever heard or expected to hear…. This voice declares that you are in mortal sin, and live and die therein by reason of the cruelty and tyranny that you practice on these innocent people. Tell me, by what right or justice do you hold these Indians in such cruel and horrible slavery? By what right do you wage such detestable wars on these people who lived mildly and peacefully in their own lands, where you have consumed infinite numbers of them with unheard of murders and desolations? Why do you so greatly oppress and fatigue them, not giving them enough to eat or caring for them when they fall ill from excessive labors, so that they die or rather are slain by you, so that you may extract and acquire gold every day? And what care do you take that they receive religious instruction and come to know their God and creator, or that they be baptized, hear mass, or observe holidays and Sundays? Are they not men? Do they not have rational souls? Are you not bound to love them as you love yourselves? How can you lie in such profound and lethargic slumber? Be sure that in your present state you can no more be saved than the Moors or Turks who do not have and do not want the faith of Jesus Christ."

(Homily of Fr. Antón de Montesino O.P. – 21st December 1511 from the January 2012 Issue of International Dominican Information)

Certainly, the intrinsic evils so prevalent in our day - abortion, contraception, embryonic stem cell research, euthanasia and the active homosexual lifestyle - deserve no less attention and clarity in current preaching than the issues addressed by Father Antón in the 16th century.

So where is that clarity? Where is the concern and zeal for the salvation of souls?

Communion Services -Their Origin and Future

In response to a question posed in the Zenit Daily Dispatch some time ago, Father Edward McNamara wrote that “a Catholic who has even an inkling of the full meaning of the Mass would never voluntarily settle for a Communion service.”   Far too many Catholics have no clear understanding of what is happening and who is present at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.  Until this lack of clarity is resolved, any discussion about Communion services will have very limited value. Out of necessity then we must begin with these questions: What is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass?  What happens at the Mass?  Who is really present there?  What benefits do we receive by participating at the Mass?

In his powerful book, The Way to God, the late Father Winfrid Herbst, S.D.S. tells us that the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, “is not a mere commemoration of the Sacrifice of the cross.  No, it is the same, the actuality, the renewal, the continuation, the representation of the Sacrifice of the cross… so that when I assist at Mass I am present at the Sacrifice of the cross as much as Mary, John and Magdalen were.  It is the unbloody renewal of the bloody Sacrifice of the cross.”  How often we Catholics come to Church to socialize with friends, families and acquaintances. Should we not come primarily to worship, adore, and give honor and glory to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords? When we understand what the Mass is, we shall!

When properly understood and when participated in with proper intent, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass “is offered,” as Father Herbst reminds us, “to give God Honor and Glory, to give God thanks for his benefits, to obtain the remission of our sins and make reparation for them, to obtain the precious grace of conversion by which a person is led to make repentance and reconciliation with God, to obtain victory over temptations, either by getting more efficacious actual graces or by having the temptations themselves lessened or eliminated all together.” But there is more, much more to this magnificent gift (see § 1322-1372 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church).

St. John Marie Vianney taught, “There is nothing so great as the Eucharist. If God had something more precious, He would have given it to us" and “If we really understood the Mass, we would die of joy.” In current times, Father William Casey of the Fathers of Mercy reminds us that “the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is the most important event that occurs every day on the face of the earth.”   

 “Mass,” Pope Pius VI tells us, “is the most powerful form of prayer.” “The celebration of Holy Mass,” St. Thomas Aquinas writes, “is as valuable as the death of Jesus on the cross.”  St. Padre Pio also reminded us of four beautiful truths: (1) “It would be easier for the world to survive without the sun than to do so without the Holy Mass” (2) “The heavens open and multitudes of angels come to assist in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass” (3) “If we only knew how God regards this Sacrifice we would risk our lives to be present at a single Mass” and (4) “The best preparation for a happy death is to assist at Mass daily.”

“The Eucharistic Sacrifice, the memorial of the death and resurrection of the Lord, in which the sacrifice of the cross is forever perpetuated, is the summit and the source of all worship and Christian life” according to Canon 897. Next in Canon 898, we are reminded: “Christ's faithful are to hold the Blessed Eucharist in the highest honor. They should take an active part in the celebration of the most august Sacrifice of the Mass; they should receive the sacrament with great devotion and frequently, and should reverence it with the greatest adoration.”

That We May Have Eyes to See and a Heart to Respond

In today’s Gospel we are reminded of the form God’s justice will take – each of us will be held accountable for the things we have done and that we have failed to do, the manner in which we have loved others or failed to do so. It really is that simple.

Stop acting like others are there to serve us; serve others first. There are Lazarus’ all around us - most of the time we either don’t see them or consciously chose to ignore them. 

If we don’t open our eyes and lend a helping hand now, we will be in the same plight as the rich man in today’s Gospel. When we know the truth and fail to act on it, we condemn ourselves to eternal punishment. Is it time to change the way we live?

Revisiting "Your Presence Makes A Difference"

My wife, I and four strangers spent an hour outside the local Planned Parenthood (PP) center one fall morning in 2010, witnessing to and praying for all those entering that building - staff and client alike. That had been only the fourth time over the past two years that we had participated in the Forty Days for Life prayer vigil in front of this place of deception and death.

The majority of the cars entering the facility’s driveway while we were there sped up immediately when they saw the signs and leaflets we carried and the rosaries in our hands.   Most avoided having any eye contact with us, perhaps in a last ditch effort to prevent their consciences from awakening them to the horror of what they were about to do. It was like we were lepers.

We continued to pray. We sang softly and sometimes off key.  We listened to God’s Word.  We encouraged each other and prayed that these women, their escorts and the facility’s staff would know that we were there out of love for them and as instruments of a loving and merciful Lord.  We trusted God would use our presence to make a difference in someone’s life that day.

We also watched as cars pulled out, driver and passengers again refusing for the most part to glance at us, anxious to get away from this place – that is with the exception of an obviously distraught young woman in the front passenger seat of a jeep. She used a crumpled tissue to capture the slow trickle of tears flowing from her eyes, receiving no apparent comfort or solace from her male companion.

She turned and looked right at me.  I was drawn to her watery eyes and immediately saw in them the anguish and pain I suspect I would have seen in the eyes of my crucified and suffering Lord had I been at the foot of His cross.  Silently and earnestly I starred deeply into her eyes, hoping that God would allow her to see in us, even now, the image of her forgiving, healing, loving and merciful Lord and His desire to give her new life.
We have been back on a number of occasions since that fall day in 2010. We’ve stood outside in rain and snow as well as in the bright sunshine - always praying to be conduits of God’s hope and love. We have had the joy of seeing women respond to the sidewalk counselors and choose life. We have cried as one of our leaders in tearful prayerful anguish gave a name to the baby one woman had just chosen to abort. Oh, how painfully close she came to saving that life!

We’ve been called morons, idiots, women haters and less publishable things. We have been thanked by those passing by for being there and cursed by others. We’ve watched in utter disbelief and pain as Dads or boyfriends brought their young children with them as their mother entered to abort a sibling they will never see or know. We have watched correctional officers escort a handcuffed pregnant inmate from the County jail for an abortion – our tax dollars at work.

We’ve been blessed to have a woman with young children pass by our prayerful line, thank us for being there, and tell us how the people in that building had twice tried to convince her to abort the two children by her side. It’s amazing how many individuals simply walking past this facility would either thank us for being there or stop and share words of encouragement and support. Their supportive gesture is in stark contrast to those shouting vile words at us from passing vehicles as they prominently thrust their middle fingers into the air.

Things have changed since our first visit to this place. For one thing, this facility formerly displayed a banner that pictured a female toddler covering her face with two open hands next to these insane words: “If you do not defend her freedom, she’ll never know she lost it". Talk about “fuzzy” thinking – killing those whose freedom you claim to be defending!

The sidewalk counselors are more numerous and increasingly more effective in their work of love. This PP facility has recognized their success and now employs “escorts” in an attempt to thwart the counselors’ effectiveness.

For the first time since Forty Days for Life has had a prayerful presence at this abortion clinic, PP has resorted to calling the police in an unconstitutional attempt to limit these same counselors from talking to women as they arrive. How surprised they must have been when we sought legal counsel and had our right to do so upheld.

But one thing has not changed – not enough of God’s people are coming to pray and give witness to His love. Where are you?

God is using us. We are having a positive impact. Women are choosing life and this particular facility may be losing money.  Other clinics have actually closed. Come. Pray. Your presence makes a difference.   

Be the eyes of Christ.

(This a revised and updated version of a previous post.)

Are We Comatose or Just Suffering From Amnesia?

(From the Introduction to Forgotten Truths To Set Faith Afire! Words to Challenge, Inspire and Instruct)

“After 20 centuries of miracles from Cana to Fatima, after 20 centuries of martyrs, after 20 centuries of sanctity in every walk of life, after centuries of intellectual brilliance (Augustine, Aquinas, Bonaventure, Scotus), after all the truth that has been poured out by the Fathers, Doctors and ecclesiastical writers, by the 20 Ecumenical Councils of the Church, the infallible pronouncements of our Pontiff…after all this, the world is as pagan today as when Christ was born and had to flee.  Perhaps more so... God, in his world today, is as hidden to most people as he was when in Egypt's exile.” 

            Father M. Raymond, O.C.S.O. made these observations in a 1954 book entitled, “God, A Woman and the Way”.  This gifted Cistercian priest warned us then that we Catholics were suffering from amnesia – that we had forgotten the purpose of our lives and much of what it means to be Catholic.

           Sadly, the same comments can be made as I write this introduction more than fifty-seven years later. One might even argue that we Catholics are now comatose. We are not living as we should.  We have forgotten that we were made in the image of God, that as a result of original sin we are prone to sin ourselves, and that without God’s grace we will never overcome our sinful propensities.  We do not know basic fundamental truths of our Faith.  We are not taught our Faith.  We do not live our Faith. 

            Too many reject major teachings of the Church.  Much of what we hear is only partially true and therefore evilly deceptive. There is no objective moral good or evil, some voices shout.  One church is just as good as another goes the refrain.  And frequently, the invisible devilish forces whisper in our ears: “You don’t need God!” We substitute lies for the Truth!

            We no longer value marriage and procreation. Our children, we are told, do not need both a father and mother – any one will do.  We see children as a punishment and an unwanted burden instead of a priceless treasure. We have a great sense of outrage over the abuse of animals or the intrusion upon their natural habitats – but little umbrage over the more than fifty million children in this nation who have been killed in their mothers’ wombs. Schools cannot give our children an aspirin without our written permission, but they can give contraceptive assistance and take them for an abortion without our knowledge.

            Many do not know, accept or follow the Ten Commandments.  We have banned them and prayer from our schools and our Courthouses. Where once cohabitation and out-of-wedlock births were a source of embarrassment, we now ridicule and scorn marriage and sexual abstinence. We confuse sexual deviancy with human freedom. We glorify sexual activity outside of marriage and between individuals of the same sex and deem such conduct a right. Cleavage and sexually provocative dress are in; chastity and purity are rarely esteemed. Some of our children cannot read or write but can recite verbatim the lyrics of songs so vile and offensive as to turn one’s face red. We have lost any sense of guilt, shame or sin.

            Since we have been told that we can not “judge” anyone, we tolerate unspeakable conduct and behaviors lest we “offend” others.  We no longer consider the immoral public conduct of our elected officials a valid measure of their integrity and trustworthiness.

           Crime and lack of respect permeates every level of our society.  We infrequently see random acts of kindness.  Our society spends more money per capita to house inmates in our jails and prisons than we spend on the education of our children.  Everyone succeeds; no one fails.  Self-esteem is more important than learning and growing from our mistakes. Mediocrity rather than excellence is our goal.

            We have little or no time or inclination to help the less fortunate, but limitless hours to spend on the computer, in front of the TV, on our cell-phone or listening to our MP3 players or I-Pods.  

            War and ghastly weapons of destruction proliferate, as millions of children die from malnutrition, lack of clean water, disease, and basic medical care.

            Despite the clear and unambiguous teachings of our Lord and His Catholic Church, many who profess to be “Catholic” are as supportive of abortion, pre-marital sex, co-habitation, contraception, sterilization, in-vitro fertilization, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, human cloning, the active homosexual life style, and homosexual marriage as their non-Catholic neighbors.

            In the early days of the Church, Christians risked their lives just to attend Mass and to receive Holy Communion. Today, the majority does not attend Sunday Mass.  Rarely do they or the thousands who only come on Christmas and/or Easter hear of the eternal consequences for skipping Mass.  In some places, it is more important not to offend their “feelings” than to evidence zeal for the salvation of their souls. 

            Among those Catholics who do attend Sunday Mass, a majority no longer believes in the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist they receive or in the Sacred hosts reserved in their Church’s tabernacles. The prayerful and reverent silence evidencing such a belief is often missing. Many ignore He Who is Love to engage in inane chatter on topics more appropriately discussed at social and sporting events. Some remove our Lord out of bowls as if He were a potato chip and not the Son of God. The actions and demeanor of these individuals are inconsistent with one who professes to believe that Jesus Christ is really and truly present on the altar and in their hands.

            Given this current state of confusion and the reluctance of many to invest any time in spiritual reading, I have sorted through my personal collection of timeless truths from Sacred Scripture and the Catechism of the Catholic Church, as well as from the spiritual insight of Popes, Church Doctors, Saints, sinners, and regular folk. I have assembled all of this material by topic in Forgotten Truths To Set Faith Afire! Words to Challenge, Inspire and Instruct .

            While recognizing how overly simplistic this approach is, one must begin somewhere.  May this small effort help penetrate the amnesia and forgetfulness that Father Raymond wrote of so many years ago. It is my hope that something you read here will awaken a hunger in you to know, study and live more fully the Truths of the Catholic Faith.

(Soft cover copies of this book can be purchased here. A Kindle version is available here.)

Eucharistic Reflection

Listen. Jesus is speaking…Being in heaven I came down to earth; and then I instituted the Blessed Sacrament in order to be with you always. In Holy Communion I really and truly come to you…And you?...When do you come to Me? In Holy Communion I visit you; but, tell Me, My child, when do you visit Me? Perhaps our sacred meeting in the morning satisfies you; it does not satisfy Me. I long to see you here in My presence again before evening. My child. That is why I now invite you. Won’t you accept the invitation?

(Eucharistic Whisperings, Father Winfrid Herbst, SDS)

Image credit to Pat Gohn

For Our Priests

     A Reflection On The Priesthood

“To live in the midst of the world without wishing its pleasures; to be a member of each family, yet belonging to none; to share all sufferings, to penetrate all secrets; to heal all wounds; to go from men to God and offer Him their prayers; to return from God to men bring pardon and hope; to have a heart of fire for charity and a heart of bronze for chastity; to teach and to pardon, console and bless always –what a glori-ous life! And it is yours, O Priest of Jesus Christ!”

(Father Jean Baptiste Henri-Dominque Lacordaire, O.P.)