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Beheaded Journalist James Foley On Praying The Rosary In Captivity

Posted on Aug 21 , 2014 in Articles

Beheaded Journalist James Foley On Praying The Rosary In Captivity

James Foley an American journalist beheaded by the brutal, evil Islamic State in a video posted online. Before being captured in Syria in 2012, Mr. Foley had been a captive in another conflict area, Libya. After being released from his LIbyan captivity, Foley wrote an article for his alumni mater, Marquette University’s magazine about his experience in captivity and praying the rosary:

I began to pray the rosary. It was what my mother and grandmother would have prayed. 
I said 10 Hail Marys between each Our Father. It took a long time, almost an hour to count 100 Hail Marys off on my knuckles. And it helped to keep my mind focused.

Clare and I prayed together out loud. It felt energizing to speak our weaknesses and hopes together, as if in a conversation with God, rather than silently and alone. …

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The Story of Shrek the Sheep

Posted on May 05 , 2014 in Articles

The Story of Shrek the Sheep

This is Shrek the sheep. He became famous several years ago when he was found after hiding out in caves for six years. Of course, during this time his fleece grew without anyone there to shorn (shave) it. When he was finally found and shaved, his fleece weighed an amazing sixty pounds. Most sheep have a fleece weighing just under ten pounds, with the exception usually reaching fifteen pounds, maximum. For six years, Shrek carried six times the regular weight of his fleece. Simply because he was away from his shepherd.

This reminds me of John 10 when Jesus compares Himself to a shepherd, and His followers are His sheep. Maybe it’s a stretch, but I think Shrek is much like a person who knows Jesus Christ but has wandered. If we avoid Christ’s constant refining of our character, we’re going to accumulate extra weight in this world—a weight we don’t have to bear.

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Popes Clearly Say Who Can and Can’t Receive Communion

Posted on May 05 , 2014 in Articles

Popes Clearly Say Who Can and Can’t Receive Communion
Reading the comments to John’s excellent post about Bishop Paprocki, I sense a kind of amnesia. So, for the record: There is already lots of clarity about communion and pro-abortion politicians.
 
And, lest we let ourselves off the hook while  scorning those awful no-good pro-aborts, there is also lot of clarity about how maybe many of us  shouldn’t be receiving communion, either.
 
First, take the “Aparecida Document” edited by Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, who is now Pope Francis, and approved by Pope Benedict (it was the final report of the Bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean meeting in 2007).
 
Pro-abortion politicians should not receive communion, it says:
 
“We should commit ourselves to ‘eucharistic coherence,’ that is, we should be conscious that people cannot receive holy communion and at the same time act or speak against the commandments, in particular when abortion, euthanasia, and other serious crimes against life and family are facilitated.  This responsibility applies particularly to legislators, governors, and health professionals.”
 
For further clarity there is the 2004 letter from Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, just before he became Pope Benedict XVI.
 
He says such politicians should be told not to present themselves, and told they will be denied the Eucharist.
 
Cardinal Ratzinger wrote to Washington, D.C., Cardinal Theodore McCarrick:
 
“Regarding the grave sin of abortion or euthanasia, when a person’s formal cooperation becomes manifest (understood, in the case of a Catholic politician, as his consistently campaigning and voting for permissive abortion and euthanasia laws), his pastor should meet with him, instructing him about the Church’s teaching, informing him that he is not to present himself for holy Communion until he brings to an end the objective situation of sin, and warning him that he will otherwise be denied the Eucharist.”
 
But that doesn’t mean that others need to be vetted for their votes while they are in the communion line, said Cardinal Ratzinger:
 
“If a Catholic were to be at odds with the Holy Father on the application of capital punishment or on the decision to wage war, he would not for that reason be considered unworthy to present himself to receive holy Communion,” wrote Cardinal Ratzinger. “While the Church exhorts civil authorities to seek peace, not war, and to exercise discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on criminals, it may still be permissible to take up arms to repel an aggressor or to have recourse to capital punishment. There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia.”
 
Does it seem harsh that these politicians are denied communion? Not if you consider that this is the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ we’re talking about.
 
Pope John Paul II insisted that there are many people who shouldn’t receive communion. In his final encyclical, Ecclesia de Eucharistia, Pope John Paul II made this almost formal declaration:
 
“I therefore desire to reaffirm that in the Church there remains in force, now and in the future, the rule by which the Council of Trent gave concrete expression to the Apostle Paul’s stern warning when it affirmed that, in order to receive the Eucharist in a worthy manner, one must first confess one’s sins, when one is aware of mortal sin.” [Emphasis mine]
 
It came at the end of a flurry of John Paul exhortation about confession and communion.
 
When Pope John Paul II spoke about the crisis in the Church in our time, he meant the crisis in the confessional. When communion lines are long and confession lines are non-existent, there is a serious problem: We have lost the sense of sin.
 
And people who have lost the sense of sin are capable of doing terrible, terrible things.
 
In the midst of the scandals of 2002, John Paul wrote a Holy Thursday letter to priests in which he said three times that people in a state of sin should not receive Communion without going to confession first.
 
That year on Divine Mercy Sunday he released an urgent “motu proprio” (from his own hand) document, Misericordia Dei, insisting:
 
•  Priests should be available at set times, not by appointment only.
•  Confession times should be convenient.
•  Confession should be available before Mass, and even during it, when possible.
He ended with: “I decree that everything I have set down in this Apostolic Letter issued Motu Proprio shall have full and lasting force and be observed from this day forth, notwithstanding any provisions to the contrary.”
 
Boom.
 
The U.S. bishops took him at his word.
 
In their 2006 document, “Happy Are Those Who Are Called to His Supper: On Preparing to Receive Christ Worthily in the Eucharist,” the bishops pointed out that communion is not just  for Catholics only, but only for Catholics who:
 
— Went to confession in the past year, at least, or after they committed a serious sin.
 
— Fasted for an hour first “refraining from food and drink (except for water and medicines) for at least one hour prior to receiving Holy Communion.”
 
— Are wearing “modest and tasteful dress” — “clothes that reflect our reverence for God and that manifest our respect for the dignity of the liturgy and for one another.”
 
— Are in a recollected and prayerful state of mind.
 
The statement even spells out some common serious sins. These are sins that constitute grave matter. When we do them deliberately and with knowledge of their sinfulness, they put us in a state of mortal sin.
 
•  Abortion and euthanasia. “Committing murder, including abortion and euthanasia, harboring deliberate hatred of others.”
•  Any extra-marital sex. “Engaging in sexual activity outside the bonds of a valid marriage.”
•  Theft, including “serious fraud, or other immoral business practices.”
•  Slander, Hatred and Envy. “Speaking maliciously or slandering people in a way that seriously undermines their good name. … Harboring deliberate hatred of others. … Engaging in envy that leads one to wish grave harm to someone else.”
•  Pornography. “Producing, marketing, or indulging in pornography.”
 
So don’t think the Church is being mean for denying communion to politicians who reject the right to life for the unborn. Communion with Our Lord is a precious privilege, not a common right. Every one of us should be more careful about approaching it worthily. (Catholicvote.org)
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How Does The Church Choose Saints?

Posted on Apr 22 , 2014 in Articles

How Does The Church Choose Saints?
Canonization is the process the Church uses to name a saint. The process begins after the death of a Catholic whom people regard as holy. The local bishop investigates the candidate's life and writings for heroic virtue (or martyrdom) and orthodoxy of doctrine. Then a panel of theologians at the Vatican evaluates the candidate. After approval by the panel and cardinals of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, the pope proclaims the candidate "venerable."
 
The next step, beatification, requires evidence of one miracle (except in the case of martyrs). Since miracles are considered proof that the person is in heaven and can intercede for us, the miracle must take place after the candidate's death and as a result of a specific petition to the candidate. When the pope proclaims the candidate beatified or "blessed," the person can be venerated by a particular region or group of people with whom the person holds special importance.
 
Only after one more miracle will the pope canonize the saint (this includes martyrs as well). The title of saint tells us that the person lived a holy life, is in heaven, and is to be honored by the universal Church. Canonization does not "make" a person a saint; it recognizes what God has already done.
 
Though canonization is infallible and irrevocable, it takes a long time and a lot of effort. So while every person who is canonized is a saint, not every holy person has been canonized. You have probably known many "saints" in your life, and you are called by God to be one yourself. (catholic.org)
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Brothers in Arms: St. Benedict and St. Francis

Posted on Mar 13 , 2014 in Articles

Brothers in Arms: St. Benedict and St. Francis

The long papacy of John Paul II means that many of us have not lived with a variety of popes. Now, within eight years we have gotten used to three popes, and with the retirement of Pope Benedict, some Catholics are finding it difficult to accept Pope Francis.

It's therefore helpful to remember that in the divine economy the saints all have different parts to play according to their own charisms and personalities. St Therese of Lisieux wrote, "How different are the variety of ways through which the Lord leads souls! Souls are as different as faces!" The variety of saints are like different flowers, trees and shrubs in a garden. Studying the saints helps us understand God's wonderful ways of working in the world. Therefore looking at St Benedict and St Francis will help us see how Pope Benedict and Pope Francis complement one another.

St Benedict was born into a society in chaos. At the end of the fifth century the Roman Empire was crumbling. The Roman world had drifted into decadence, despair and pessimism. The armies had been pulled back and the barbarians were invading. In the midst of the encroaching darkness Benedict established little core communities of radical disciples. Men withdrew from the world with Benedict to live quiet lives of prayer, study and work. Those core communities became the seeds of what flowered into the great civilization we know as medieval Christendom.

As we understand St Benedict we will understand Pope Benedict. Joseph Ratzinger has always been a reserved and scholarly person. When he was elected pope he admitted that he had been looking forward to retiring to a little house to live with his brother in obscurity. When he took the name "Benedict" Joseph Ratzinger was doing more than identifying with his predecessor Benedict XV. He was also doing more than identifying the great saint who is the patron of Europe and the founder of the Benedictine order. 

By taking the name Benedict, Joseph Ratzinger was also embracing a monastic way of looking at the world. Despite being on the world stage as pope, Benedict XVI was always essentially a reserved, scholarly and retiring man. We should not be surprised that he made history by retiring from the papacy. With hindsight we can see that it was on the cards from the beginning of his papacy.

What gifts did Benedict XVI bring to the Petrine Office? He brought the Benedictine love of beauty and tradition in the liturgy. He contributed the Benedictine love of study, scholarship and teaching. He brought a quiet, studious and prayerful mood to the papacy. He brought reverence and respect and a depth of dignity to the celebration of Mass and the church's work in the world. Anyone who has visited a Benedictine monastery will notice this same mood reflected in the papacy of Benedict.

What about St Francis? Francis was also born into a church in chaos. In the twelfth century the Catholic Church was besieged by corruption from within and threatened with persecution from without. St Francis came on the scene with his famous vow of poverty, a life of joyful simplicity and an outgoing personality. Francis also followed the religious life, but it was lived out not in a Benedictine monastery, but in the burgeoning cities and in wandering through the world.

As we saw St Benedict alive in Pope Benedict, so we are already seeing, (and can expect to see more of) St Francis alive in Pope Francis. The two are not contradictory, but complementary, and the way to see how they work together is to see the big picture of the different gifts these two saints bring to the church, and therefore the different gifts each Pope will bring to the church.

As a friar, Francis represents the active religious life. As a monk, Benedict represents the enclosed life of prayer. They're like the two sisters of Bethany: Francis is the busy Martha. Benedict, the contemplative Mary. If the church is going to work she needs both. The body of Christ needs both.

How amazingly providential, then that we now have two popes: Pope Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict! Pope Benedict following the Benedictine way by retiring to a life of prayer, study and work while Pope Francis steps on to the world stage to live the life of activity, reform and renewal. The two popes are meeting today, and I am convinced that when Pope Benedict moves to his hermitage in the Vatican, that the two of them will meet on a regular basis to support one another as brothers in arms.

Finally, there is a lesson for the whole church in the two popes: we all need to run on the path of God's commandments on these two legs: the contemplative and the active. We desperately need more time in prayer, more time in contemplation, more time with God. Then we also desperately need to get up off our knees and move forward to not only "talk the talk" but to "walk the walk" in the great adventure of following Christ the Lord. (Catholic Online)