Jesus answered: ‘Will you lay down your life for me?’ - John 13:38

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"Young people in particular, I appeal to you: bear witness to your faith through the digital world!"

-Pope Benedict XVI

Pray for Pope Benedict's prayer intentions for this month. Find out more here.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Poems of St. John of the Cross

       I promised myself that after I returned The Time Traveler's Wife, it would be my last book for this sem. But I needed some cheering up after my midterm and it just so happened that while I was looking for a collection of Neruda poems, I chanced upon a nondescript black book: The Poems of St. John of the Cross. The book contains the original Spanish poems and their translations.

I've gone through half of it, but will probably need to take a more thorough, second look on the works of this mystic saint. I must say that his words and his use of allegory and paradoxical phrases and symbolism are simply stunning. Here are some of the ones that I really like so far:

Concerning the Divine Word

With the divinest Word, the Virgin
Made pregnant, down the road
Comes walking, if you'll grant her
A room in your abode.


Other songs concernin Christ and the soul

A shepherd lad was mourning his distress,
Far from all comfort, friendless and forlorn.
He fixed his thouht upon his shepherdess
Because his breast by love was sorely torn.

He did not weep that love had pierced him so,
Nor with self-pity that the shaft was shot,
Though deep into his heart had sunk the blow,
It grieved him more that he had been forgot.

Only to think that he had been forgotten
By his sweet shepherdess, with travail sore,
He let his foes (in foreign lands begoteen)
Gash the poor breast that love had gashed before.

'Alas! Alas! for him', the Shepherd cries,
'Who tries from me my dearest love to part
So that she does not gaze into my eyes
Or see that I am wounded to the heart.'

Then, after a long time, a tree he scaled,
Opened his strong arms bravely wide apart,
And clung upon that tree till death prevailed,
So sorely was he wounded in his heart.

Dark Night of the Soul (Stanzas)

 On a darkened night,
Anxious, by love inflamed,
-- O happy chance! --
Unnoticed, I took flight,
My house at last at peace and quiet.

Safe, disguised by the night,
By the secret ladder I took flight,
-- O happy chance! --
Cloaked by darkness, I scaled the height,
My house at last at peace and quiet.

On that blessed night,
In secret, and seen by none,
None in sight,
I saw with no other guide or light,
But the one burning in my heart bright.

This guide, this light,
Brighter than the midday sun,
Led me to the waiting One
I knew so well -- my delight!
To a place with none in sight.

O night! O guide!
O night more loving than the dawn!
O night that joined
The lover with the Beloved;
Transformed, the lover into the Beloved drawn!


Upon my flowered breast,
For him alone kept fair,
There he slept
There I caressed,
There the cedars gave us air.

I drank the turret's cool air
Spreading playfully his hair.
And his hand, so serene,
Cut my throat.
Drained of senses, I dropped unaware.

Lost to myself and yet remaining,
Inclined so only the Beloved I spy.
All has ceased, all rests,
Even my cares, even I;
Lost among the lilies, there I die.

There are some more good ones in the book. Some are very long but very much worth the time.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Defende nos in proelio!


I'd urge you to say this prayer after each Mass you attend. It's a beautiful practice and shouldn't have been discontinued.

Saint Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray;
and do Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host -
by the Divine Power of God -
cast into hell, satan and all the evil spirits,
who roam throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

We're at War: Allocutio by Brother Dominic, September 25, 2008

The Legion is an army and the purpose of any army is to do battle. So it would be good to know what kind of war we're fighting and how we can win it.

Much of this allocutio was based directly on an lecture by Catholic philosopher and apologist Dr Peter Kreeft. I will excerpt parts of that lecture and will add my own comments in red. Listen to the lecture here. It's very timely and useful and full of his characteristic wit too.

HOW TO WIN THE CULTURE WAR
Peter Kreeft


1. We Are at War

To win any war and any kind of war, I think the three most necessary things we must know are:

  1. that we are at war;
  2. who our enemy is; and
  3. what weapons or strategies can defeat him.

We cannot win a war: first, if we are blissfully sewing peace banners on the battlefield; or second, if we are too busy fighting civil wars against our allies; or, third, if we are using the wrong weapons. For instance, we must fight fire with water—not fire.

So this talk is a very basic, elementary three-point checklist to be sure we all know this minimum at least.

I assume you wouldn’t be coming to a talk entitled “How to Win the Culture War” if you thought all was well. If you are surprised to be told that our entire civilization is in crisis, I welcome you back from your nice vacation on the moon.

Many minds do seem moonstruck, puttering happily around the Titanic, blandly arranging the deck chairs—especially the intellectuals, who are supposed to have their eyes more open, not less. But in fact, they are often the bland leading the bland. I have verified over and over again the principle that there is only one thing needed for you to believe any of the 100 most absurd ideas possible for any human being to conceive: You must have a Ph.D.

For instance, take Time magazine—please do. Henry Thoreau said, “Read not the times, read the eternities.” Two Aprils ago, their lead article was devoted to the question, “Why is everything getting better?” Why is life so good in America today? Why does everyone feel so satisfied and optimistic about the quality of life in the future? I read the article very carefully and found that not once did they even question their assumption. They just wondered, “Why?” And you thought Enlightenment optimist and the dogma of progress [were] dead?

It turned out upon reading the article that every single aspect of life they mentioned, every reason why everything was getting better and better, was economic. People have more money. Period. End of discussion. Except the poor, of course, who are poorer. But they don’t count because they don’t write Time. They don’t even read it.

I suspect that Time is merely Playboy with clothes on. For one kind of playboy, the world is one great bit whorehouse. For another, it’s one great big piggy bank. For both kinds of playboy, things are getting better and better. Just ask the 75 percent of Americans who love Bill Clinton, the perfect synthesis of the two.

...

There is, however, an irrefutable refutation of the “pig philosophy”; the simple, statistical fact that suicide—the most in-your-face index of unhappiness—is directly, not indirectly, proportionate to wealth. The richer you are and the richer your country is, the more likely it is that you will find life so good that you will choose to blow your brains out. (Perhaps that is the culmination of open-mindedness.)

Suicide among pre-adults has increased 5000 percent since the happy days of the 50s. If suicide, especially of the coming generation, is not an index of crisis, I don’t know what is.

Just about everybody except the “deep” thinkers know[s] that we are in deep doo-doo. The students know it but not the teachers—the mind-molders, especially in the media. Everybody in the hospital except the doctors knows that we are dying. Night is falling. Mother Teresa said simply, “When a mother can kill her baby, what is left of civilization to save?” What Chuck Colson has labeled a “new dark age” is looming; a darkness that christened itself The Enlightenment at its birth three centuries ago. And this brave new world has proved to be only a cowardly old dream.

...John Paul the Great, the greatest man of the worst century in history [called] us the “culture of death.” That’s our culture—and his, including Italy, which now has the lowest birth rate in the entire world; and Poland, which now wants to share in the rest of the West’s great abortion holocaust. and likewise also the culture around us in Singapore.

If the God of Life does not respond to this culture of death with judgment, then God is not God. If God does not honor the blood of the hundreds of millions of innocent victims of this culture of death, then the God of the Bible, the God of Abraham, the God of Israel, the God of the prophets, the God of orphans and widows, the Defender of the defenseless, is a man-made myth, a fairy tale, a comfortable ideal as substantial as a dream.

“But,” you may object, “Is not the God of the Bible also forgiving?” He is. But the unrepentant refuse forgiveness. Forgiveness, being a gift of grace, must be freely given and freely received. How can it be received by a moral relativist who denies that there is anything to forgive? (Except unforgiving-ness. Nothing to judge but judgmentalism. Nothing lacking but self-esteem.) How can a Pharisee or a pop psychologist be saved?

But, you may object, is not the God of the Bible compassionate? He is. But He is not compassionate to Moloch and Baal and Ashtaroth and to the Canaanites who do their work, who cause their children to pass through the fire. Perhaps your god is compassionate to the work of human sacrifice—the god of your demands, the god of your religious preference—but not the God of the Bible. Read the book. Look at the data.

But is not the God of the Bible revealed most fully and finally in the New Testament rather than in the Old? In sweet and gentle Jesus rather than wrathful and warlike Jehovah? The opposition is heretical. It is the old Gnostic–Manichean–Marcionite heresy, as immortal as the demons who inspired it. Our data refuted; our live data, which is divine data and talking data. Thus His name is the “Word” of God. This data refuted the heretical hypothesis in question when He said, “I and the Father are one.”

...

But, is not God a lover rather than a warrior? No, God is a lover who is a warrior. The question fails to understand what love is, what the Love that God is is. Love is at war with hate and betrayal and selfishness and all Love’s enemies. Love fights; ask any parent.

Yuppie love, like puppy love, may be merely compassion [in] the fashionable world today, but father-love and mother-love is war. God is love indeed, but what kind of love? Back to our data. Does Scripture call Him “God the puppy” or “God the yuppie” or is it “God the Father”? In fact, every page of this Book bristles with spear-points, from Genesis 3 through Revelation 20. The road from paradise lost to paradise regained is soaked in blood. At the very center of the story is a cross, a symbol of conflict if there ever was one. The theme of spiritual warfare is never absent in Scripture and never absent in the life and writings of a single saint. But it is almost never present in the religious education of my students at BC. “BC,” by the way, stands for “Barely Catholic.”

Whenever I speak of this, they are stunned and silent, as if they have suddenly entered another world. They have. They have gone through the wardrobe to meet the lion and the witch. Past the warm fuzzies—the fur coats of psychology disguised as religion—into the cold snows of Narnia, where the white witch is the lord of this world and Aslan is not a tame lion but a warrior. A world where they meet Christ the King, not Christ the kitten. Welcome back from the moon, kids.

...

Knowing we are at war at all times, but especially in such times as these, is the first prerequisite for winning it.

2. Knowing Our Enemy

The second prerequisite is knowing our enemy. Who is our enemy?

For almost half a millennium, Protestants and Catholics have thought of each other as the problem and have addressed the problem by consigning their bodies to graves on battlefield[s] and their souls to hell.

Gradually, the light dawned. Protestants and Catholics are not enemies; they are separated brethren who are fighting together against the same enemy. Who is that enemy?

For almost two millennia, Christians thought it was the Jews and did such Christ-less things to our Fathers in the Faith that we made it almost impossible for the Jews to see their God—the true God—in us.

Today, many Christians think it is the Muslims. But they are often more loyal to their half-Christ than we are to our whole Christ, and live more godly lives following their fallible scriptures and their fallible prophet than we do following our infallible Scriptures and our infallible Prophet. If you compare the stability of the family and the safety of children among Muslims and among Christians in today’s world; or if you compare the rate of abortion, divorce, adultery, and sodomy among Muslims and Christians in today’s world; and if you dare to apply to this data the principles announced by the prophets in our own Scriptures when they say repeatedly that God blesses those who obey His law and punishes those who do not, then I think you will know why Islam is growing faster that Christianity today. [Ed. note: These remarks were delivered in 1998.]

Faithful Muslims serve under the same general God, though through a different and more primitive communications network. And the same, I think, is true of the Mormons and the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Quakers.

...

Our enemies are not even the anti-Christian bigots who want to kill us, whether they are Chinese communist totalitarians who imprison and persecute Christians or Sudanese Muslim terrorists who enslave and murder Christians. They are not our enemies; they are our patients. They are the ones we are trying to save. We are Christ’s nurses. Some of the patients think the nurses are their enemies, but the nurses must know better. Our word for them is, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

Our enemies are not even the canker worm within our own culture—the media of the culture of death, the Larry Flynts and Ted Turners and Howard Sterns and Time-Warners and Disneys. They, too, are victims, though they too are our patients—thought they hate the hospital and go running around poisoning other patients. But the poisoners are our patients, too, for whoever poisons was first poisoned himself.

This is true also of gay and lesbian activists and feminist witches and abortionists. If we are the cells in Christ’s Body, we do what he did to these people. We go into their gutters and pick up the spiritually dying and kiss those who spit at us and even shed our blood for them, if necessary. If we do not all physically go into the gutters as Mother Teresa did, we go into the spiritual gutters, for we go where the need is. If we do not physically give our blood, yet we give our life in giving our time. For life is time—“life-time.” Our time is our life’s blood. (Please don’t have children unless you understand that.)

Our enemies are not the heretics within the Church—the cafeteria Christians, the a la carte Christians, the I-did-it-my-way Christians. They are also our patients, though they are quislings. They are the deceived. They are the victims of our enemy—not our enemy.

Our enemies are not the theologians in some so-called Christian theology departments who have sold their souls for 30 pieces of scholarship and prefer the plaudits of their peers to the praise of their God.

Not even the Christophobes who wear spiritual condoms for fear Christ will make their souls and the souls of their students pregnant with His alarmingly active Life. Not even the liars who deny their students elementary truth in labeling—the robber teachers who rob their students of the Living Christ. They, too, are our patients. And we, too, do what they do—though unwillingly—in each of our sins.

Our enemy is not even the few really wicked ministers and pastors and priests and bishops and rabbis, the abusive babysitters who corrupt Christ’s little ones whom they swore to protect and merit Christ’s Millstone-of-the-Month Award. They, too, are victims in need of healing.

Who, then, is our enemy? Surely you must know the two answers. All the saints throughout the Church’s history have given the same two answers. For these answers come from the same two sources, from the Word or God on paper and the Word of God on wood—from every page of the New Testament and from Christ. They are the reasons He went to the cross.

Yet they are not well known. In fact, the first answer is almost never mentioned today outside so-called fundamentalist circles. Not once in my life can I recall ever hearing a sermon on it from a Protestant or a Catholic pulpit.

Our enemies are demons. Fallen angels. Evil spirits.

Our secular culture believes that anyone who believes this is at least an uneducated, narrow-minded bigot and probably mentally deranged. It follows logically, therefore, that Jesus Christ is an uneducated, narrow-minded bigot and mentally deranged.

Most of our religious culture is simply embarrassed at this idea, therefore it is embarrassed at Christ. For He is the One who gave us this answer: “Do not fear those who can kill the body and then [have] no power over you. I will tell you whom to fear: Fear him who has power to destroy both body and soul in hell.” That is Satan, of course, not God, who work is to save souls, not to destroy them. Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, Simon, Satan hath desired to have you that he might sift you as wheat.” And Peter learned the lesson and passed it on to us in his first epistle: “Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary the devil as a roaring lion walketh about seeking whom he may devour. Whom resist, steadfast in the faith.”

Paul, too, knew that we are not contending against flesh and blood but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

Pope Leo XIII saw this truth. He received a vision of the coming 20th century—a vision that history has proved terrifyingly true. He saw Satan at the beginning of time allowed one century to do his worst work in, and Satan chose the 20th. This Pope Leo, with the name and the heart of a lion, was so overcome by the terror of this vision that he fell into a swoon like a Victorian lady. When he revived, he composed a prayer for the whole Church to use throughout this century of spiritual warfare:

St. Michael, archangel, defend us in battle. Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, O prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan and all the evil spirits who roam through the world seeking the ruin of souls.

This prayer was known by every Catholic and prayed after every Mass—until the 60s. Exactly when Leo’s Church was struck with the incomparably swift disaster, which we have not yet named, but which future historians must: The disaster that has taken away half of our priests, three-quarters of our nuns, and nine-tenths of our children’s theological knowledge by turning the Faith of Our Fathers into the doubts of our dissenters in a miraculous reversal of Christ’s first miracle at Cana, turning the wine of the gospel into the water of psychobabble. An anti-miracle by the anti-Christ.

The restoration of the Church, and thus the world, might well begin with the restoration of the Lion’s prayer and the Lion’s vision. Because this is the vision of all the saints, all the apostles, and Our Lord Himself—the vision of a real Satan, a real hell, and a real spiritual warfare.

I said there were two enemies. The second is even more horrible than the first. There is one nightmare even more terrifying than being chased by the devil, even caught by the devil, even tortured by the devil. That is the nightmare of becoming a devil. The horror outside your soul is terrible enough, but not as terrible as the horror inside your soul. The horror inside the soul, of course, is sin. Another word, which, if any dare to speak it today, elicits embarrassment from Christian and condemnation from the secularist, who condemns only condemnation, judges only judgmentalism, and believes the only sin is believing in sin.

All sin is the devil’s work, though he usually uses the flesh and the world as his instruments. Sin means doing the devil’s work, tearing and damaging God’s work. And we do this. That’s the only reason why the devil can do his awful work in our world. God won’t allow him to do it without our free consent.

And that’s the deepest reason why the Church is weak and why the world is dying. Because we are not saints.

3. The Weapon

And that gives us our third necessary thing to know—the weapon that will win the war and defeat our enemy. All is takes is saints.

Can you imagine what 12 more Mother Teresas or 12 more John Wesleys would do for this poor old world? Can you imagine what would happen if just 12 people in this room did it? Gave Christ 100 percent of their hearts with 100 percent of their hearts 100 percent of the time and held back nothing, absolutely nothing?

No, you can’t imagine it—any more than anyone could have imagined how 12 nice Jewish boys could conquer the Roman Empire.

You can’t imagine it, but you can do it. You can become a saint. Absolutely no one and nothing can stop you. It’s your free choice.

Our founder Servant of God Frank Duff told us this decades ago in his great pamphlet titled Can We Be Saints?:

Thus, there is another definition of what a Saint is. It is this: One who, with the object of pleasing God, does his ordinary duties extraordinarily well. Such a life may be lived out without a single wonder in it, arouse little notice, be soon forgotten, and yet be the life of one of God's dearest friends.

It is obviously an encouragement to look on sanctity in this way. When we see that those things which so terrified us in the lives of the Saints, because we felt we could not do them ourselves, are not the important part of their sanctity at all, we should feel heartened to begin to-day and make a serious effort for great holiness. Believe this: it is only the first few wrenches given to the will that really hurt. Perhaps the following words of Cardinal Newman will tempt us to take a step forward on the road:

"If you ask me what you are to do in order to be perfect, I say, first do not lie in bed beyond the time of rising; give your first thoughts to God; make a good visit to the Blessed Sacrament; say the Angelus devoutly; eat and drink to God's glory; say the Rosary well; be recollected; keep out bad thoughts; make your evening meditation well; examine yourself daily; go to bed in good time, and you are already perfect."

Who are Called to be Saints?

Every person that is born is called to be a Saint. Take it as most certain that you -- no matter how unfitted your life may seem for holiness -- are being given graces sufficient, if corresponded with, to bring you to sanctity. We have already seen that nothing beyond our strength is expected; neither is sanctity the exclusive property of any grade or manner of life. Among the Saints canonised by the Church are kings and beggars, and representatives of every trade, slaves, hermits, city people, mothers of families, invalids, soldiers, and persons of every race and colour.

Here is one of the most wonderful and terrifying sentences I have ever read, from William Law’s Serious Call, “If you will look into your own heart in utter honesty, you must admit that there is one and only one reason why you are not even now a saint. You do not wholly want to be.”

That insight is terrifying because it is an indictment, but it is wonderful and hopeful because it is also an offer, an open door. Each of us can become a saint. We really can. We really can. I say it three times, because I think we do not really believe that deep down. For if we did, how could we endure being anything less?

What holds us back? Fear of paying the price. What is the price? The answer is simple. T. S. Eliot gave it when he defined Christianity as “a condition of complete simplicity (costing not less than everything).” The price is everything—100 percent. Martyrdom, if required, and probably a worse martyrdom than the quick noose or stake, the martyrdom of dying daily, dying every minute for the rest of your life. Dying to all your desires and plans—including your plans about how to become a saint.

Or rather, not dying to your desires but dying to the you in your desires. I think this sounds much more mystical than it is. It is simply giving God a blank check. It is simply islam, complete submission. Fiat. Mary’s thing. Look at what it did 2000 years ago when she did it; it brought God down from heaven and thus saved the world.

It was meant to continue. If we do that Mary thing, that islam, and only if we do that, then all our apostolates will work—our preaching and teaching and writing and catechizing and mission-ing and fathering and mothering and studying and nursing and business-ing and pastoring and priesting—everything.

...

But how? We always want to know how. Give me a method, a technology, a means to this end. What does that question mean, “How can I become a saint?” Or “Give me a means to the end of sanctity.” It means, “Give me something that is easier than sanctity, which will cause sanctity. So that if I do this something or attain this something, then this something will be the middle term, the link between me and sanctity.”

No. There is none. No prayers, no meditations, no 12-steps programs, no yogas, no psychological techniques, no techniques at all. There can be no button to push for sanctity, any more than for love. For sanctity is simply love: loving God with all your soul and mind and strength.

How do you love? You just do it. A cause cannot produce an effect greater than itself. And nothing in the world is greater than sanctity, nothing greater than love. Therefore, no cause, no human cause, can produce sanctity. There can never be any technology for sanctity.

Of course, God is its cause. Grace is its cause. The Holy Spirit is its cause. “Oh well, why doesn’t God cause it then? If sanctity isn’t a do-it-yourself thing but an only-God-can-do-it thing, then why doesn’t God make me a saint? If only grace can do it, why doesn’t He give me that grace?”

Because you don’t want it. If you wanted it, He’d give it. He promised that: “All who seek find.” It’s back to “just say yes.” It’s infinitely simpler than we think, and that’s why it’s hard. The hard word in the formula “just say yes” is the word “just.”

We are comfortable with Christ and theology or Christ and psychology or Christ and America or Christ and the Republican Party or Christ and the Democratic Party or Christ and phonics or Christ and dieting. But just plain Christ, all Christ, Christ drunk straight, not mixed, we find far too dangerous for our tastes.

Aslan is not a tame lion. Just say yes to Him? You never know what he’d do with you!

I conclude with a claim to infallibility. I give you two infallible prognoses: One, if you we do not use this weapon, we will not win this war. Two, if we do use this weapon, we will win this war. Or more subtly, insofar as we use this weapon, we will win this war, and insofar as we do not, we will not.

We can win, because we wield here the world’s most unconquerable weapon, the strongest force in the universe. To translate it from the abstract to the concrete, the weapon is Christ’s Blood. Not Christ without blood, not merely a beautiful ideal. And not blood without Christ, not a merely human sacrifice and martyrdom, but Christ’s Blood.

Back when there were more communists in Russia than in American universities, Archbishop Fulton Sheen used to say that the difference between Russia and America was that Russia was the cross without Christ, and America was Christ without the cross.

Neither will win. Neither will work. Neither sacrifice without love nor love without sacrifice. But the Blood of Christ will work. For that blood flows from His Sacred Heart, and the heart of that Heart is agape, divine love. That is why it will work—because love never gives up.

And that is why we will never give up and why we will win. Why we whose food is this Blood are invincible.

The hard-nosed, successful, secular lawyer Gerry Spence writes: “A small boy and a bully meet. When the small boy is knocked down, he gets up and attacks again, over and over, until at last he will win. For nothing in the world is as fearsome as a bloody, battered opponent who will never surrender.” Never.

Winston Churchill delivered the shortest and most memorable commencement speech of all time at his alma mater during World War II: “Never, never, never, never, never, never, never, never, never give up.” That’s all.

We will win the war, because no matter how many times we fall down, no matter how many times we fail at being saints, no matter how many times we fail at love, we will never, never, never, never, never, never, never, never, never give up.

Pope Benedict tells us that since Mary acccepted God's proposal in our name, we should turn to Her and ask Her to guide us as we struggle to remain faithful in the life-giving relationship that God has established with each of us. In this war against the culture of death, may the Mother of Life Himself be our sword and our shield. May she be as terrible as an army set in battle array to our enemies. And may St Michael and her Legion of Angels be always with us in battle.

Amen

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Thoughts on today's Traditional Latin Mass

From my own blog:

I attended Low Mass in the extraordinary form this afternoon. Having grown up experiencing the Novus Ordo I was lost in quite a few places and found it odd that the I couldn't hear most of what Fr Augustine Tay was praying. But I guess that's because I'm not used to it. I think I need to learn more about the significance of the Mass and especially on the congregation's role - how best to concentrate and immerse oneself in the Tridentine Mass.

The level of reverence and dignity is certainly very beautiful. The most moving moment was during the consecration: the priest genuflects and then elevates the consecrated Host and the bells start ringing and so does the main chapel bell as if announcing to the world that something wonderful was taking place inside - the greatest miracle on earth was taking place. Beautiful!

The prayers too are very rich and I feel excellent even as personal prayers or to reflect upon outside Mass.

Here's the picture that was on the cover of the misalette. It's so full of meaning:

http://www.cukierski.net/Purgatory.jpg

When a Mass is celebrated, we pray for and with the whole world. We are joined by all the saints, the angels and our Blessed Mother worshipping the Triune God. And the merits of that Mass are used to help our brothers and sisters in Purgatory. Wonderful!

Accept, most Holy Trinity, this offering which we are making to Thee in remembrance of the passion, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ, Our Lord; and in honor of blessed Mary, ever Virgin, Blessed John the Baptist, the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, and of (name of the Saints whose relics are in the Altar) and of all the Saints; that it may add to their honor and aid our salvation; and may they deign to intercede in heaven for us who honor their memory here on earth. Through the same Christ our Lord.


Here's another picture I found that I love very much. I think it represents the words of a prayers also found in the First Eucharistic Prayer (the Roman Canon) of the Novos Ordo

http://www.aquinasandmore.com/images/tridentinemass.gif

Father, we celebrate the memory of Christ, your Son. We, your people and your ministers, recall his passion, his resurrection from the dead, and his ascension into glory; and from the many gifts you have given us we offer to you, God of glory and majesty, this holy and perfect sacrifice: the bread of life and the cup of eternal salvation.

Look with favor on these offerings and accept them as once you accepted the gifts of your servant Abel, the sacrifice of Abraham, our father in faith, and the bread and wine offered by your priest Melchizedek.

Almighty God, we pray that your angel may take this sacrifice to your altar in heaven. Then, as we receive from this altar the sacred body and blood of your Son, let us be filled with every grace and blessing. [Through Christ our Lord. Amen.]

Finally, I know this is a prayer which the priest is supposed to say during the Mass, but I found it a wonderful prayer before communion for myself too:

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, Who, by the will of the Father, with the cooperation of the Holy Ghost, hast by Thy death given life to the world: deliver me by this Thy most sacred Body and Blood from all my iniquities and from every evil: make me always cling to Thy commandments, and never suffer me to be separated from Thee, Who with the same God the Father and the Holy Ghost, livest and reignest, God, world without end. Amen.

Let not the partaking of Thy Body, Lord Jesus Christ, which I, though unworthy, presume to receive, turn to my judgment and condemnation; but through Thy loving kindness, may it be to me a safeguard and a remedy for soul and body, Who with God the Father in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, forever and ever. Amen.


And finally we had one of my favourite prayers after Mass:

Saint Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray;
and do Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host -
by the Divine Power of God -
cast into hell, satan and all the evil spirits,
who roam throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

The vespers and benediction were beautiful too! The Litany of Loreto in Latin was a first (I've heard it on EWTN but never actual prayed it live).

Hopefully I can attend Tridentine Mass more often.


Happy Feast day of the Archangels!

Tomorrow will be the feast of the Holy Archangels..

St Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, and on the 2nd October will be the feast day of the Guardian Angels :)

I havent been writing for sometime, but just a short one for now..


I found this feast will be special for us as legionaries, since the Archangels, specially st Michael and St Gabriel which are mentioned in our Handbook, are our Legion's Patrons!! I remember Dom's last allo, we as legionaries are always at war.. who else will be best guarding us in the battle if it is not St Michael, the prince of all the heavenly court, the commander of the army of the Lord (Josh 5:14)..


St Gabriel, recalling fr Joe's meditation, must have been somehow special amongs the Angels since God entrust in him the special duty, which is to convince our Lady to be the Mother of God, as a special messanger. The Handbook said that it was through him that the compliments of the Holy Trinity were addressed to Mary, that the mystery of the Trinity was first stated to man!


and St Raphael's name means God heals. It was related to the story of Tobit, Tobiah, and Sarah. The one who shows the way for Tobiah to find the girl he would be married to and the one healing his father.. so, ask him to help us 'finding our way'.. :)


One more thing.. What I found special about this feast day for us as Legionaries is that we should remember that our Lady is the Queen of the Angels, Regina Angelorum. The Handbook said that our Lady would always been ceaselessly accompanied by legions of angels! She was crowned by the Father to be the Queen of Heaven, then She is also the general armies of God, She is our Queen also. So...since we have the same Queen, let's start asking the Holy Angels, specialy the Holy Archangels whose feast we celebrated in d next 3 minutes (now you know what time I wrote this...haha), to fight with us in the battle!!


Holy Archangels, pray for us :)



Saturday, September 27, 2008

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Secret Story of Padre Pio's Stigmata

Volume Reveals Report of Vatican Investigator


By Mirko Testa

ROME, SEPT. 22, 2008 (Zenit.org).- A volume detailing the report of a Vatican investigator into Padre Pio gives new information on the wounds of the Passion that the friar suffered.

Padre Pio da Pietrelcina received the stigmata from the crucified Christ, who in an apparition invited the Capuchin friar to unite himself to his passion so as to participate in the salvation of others, particularly consecrated persons: This is what we can know with certainty thanks to the recent opening -- at the request of Benedict XVI -- of the archives of the former Holy Office up to 1939, which contain information on revelations to Padre Pio that were not previously published.

These revelations have been released in a book titled "Padre Pio Sotto Inchiesta: l''Autobiografia Segreta'" ("Padre Pio Under Investigation: The 'Secret Autobiography'"). The volume is prefaced by Vittorio Messori and edited by Father Franceso Castelli, historian for the beatification cause of Pope John Paul II and professor of modern and contemporary history of the Church at the Romano Guardini Institute for Religious Sciences in Taranto, Italy.

Until the publication of this book, many assumed that Padre Pio -- whether for reasons of modesty or because he thought himself unworthy of the charisms he had received -- had never disclosed to anyone what happened on the day he received the stigmata.

The only known reference to these events was in a letter Padre Pio sent to his spiritual director, Father Benedetto da San Marco in Lamis, in which he speaks of the appearance of a "mysterious person" but does not offer any details.

The new book, which contains the first complete version of the report penned by Bishop Raffaele Rossi of Volterra, (later cardinal), apostolic visitor sent by the Holy See to secretly investigate Padre Pio, clarifies that on the occasion of the reception of the stigmata the saint had a conversation with the crucified Christ.

The book also contains a number of statements that Padre Pio made under oath, which provide an interpretive key to Bishop Rossi's report.

Asked to swear on the Gospel, Padre Pio for the first time revealed the identity of the one from whom he received the wounds.

It was June 15, 1921, and in answer to a question posed by Bishop Rossi, Padre Pio said: "On Sept. 20, 1918, I was in the choir of the church after celebrating Mass, making the thanksgiving when I was suddenly overtaken by powerful trembling and then there came calm and I saw Our Lord in his crucified form.

"He was lamenting the ingratitude of men, especially those consecrated to him and favored by him."

"Then," Padre Pio continued, "his suffering was apparent as was his desire to join souls to his Passion. He invited me to let his pains enter into me and to meditate on them and at the same time concern myself with the salvation of others. Following this, I felt full of compassion for the Lord's pains and I asked him what I could do.

"I heard this voice: 'I will unite you with my Passion.' And after this the vision disappeared, I came back to myself, my reason returned and I saw these signs here from which blood flowed. Before this I did not have these."

Padre Pio then said that the stigmata were not the result of a personal request of his own but came from an invitation of the Lord, who, lamenting the ingratitude of men, and consecrated persons in particular, conferred on Padre Pio a mission as the culmination of an interior mystical journey of preparation.

Common theme

Father Castelli, the book's editor, noted that the theme of the ingratitude of men and especially those favored by God is not something new in the Capuchin friar's private revelations.

He told ZENIT: "What is decisive is that Padre Pio made no request for the stigmata. This helps us to understand the freedom and the humility of the Capuchin who is clearly completely uninterested in making a show of the wounds.

"Padre Pio's humility also manifests itself in his reaction to seeing the signs of the Passion traced in his flesh once he had come back to himself. In fact, in the conversation with the bishop, once the mystical scene has finished, it is not elaborated on further."

From the conversation with Padre Pio, from the letters, from the witnesses questioned by Bishop Rossi and finally from his own report, it is plain that the friar was unhappy about the signs of the Passion, that he tried to hide them and that he was uneasy in showing them at the request of the apostolic visitor, the editor explained.

A 6th wound?

The book conveys Bishop Rossi's conclusions about the stigmata, of which there had only been partial information, and so provides new information, especially about the form of the wound in the side and a rumored sixth wound on the friar's back.

In his report the apostolic visitor says that there was no festering in Padre Pio's wounds, they did not close and did not heal. The remained inexplicably open and bloody, despite the fact that the friar had tried to stop the bleeding by treating them with iodine.

"Bishop Rossi's description of the wound in the side," Father Castelli told ZENIT, "is decisively different from those before and after him. He did not see it as an upside down or slanted cross, but as having a 'triangular form' and so therefore with definite edges."

Contrary to what certain doctors have said, Bishop Rossi concluded that the wounds did not appear to be externally inflicted.

"This speaks in favor of the authenticity of the stigmata," Father Castelli explained, "because carbolic acid -- which according to some was what Padre Pio might have used to cause the wounds -- after it has been applied, consumes the tissue and inflames the surrounding area. It is impossible to think that for 60 years Padre Pio could have caused himself these wounds of the same definite shape.

"Further, the wounds emitted the intense odor of violets rather than the fetid stench that degenerative processes, tissue necrosis or infections usually cause."

According to the report, Padre Pio said that apart from the stigmata in his hands, feet and side, there were no other wounds, and therefore no wound on his back as Jesus might have had from carrying the cross. Some have suggested that Padre Pio might have had this wound.

Father Castelli maintains that it is not possible to speculate beyond the information gathered in Bishop Rossi's 1921 investigation and attribute to Padre Pio any other sign of the Passion.

From Zenit


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Allocutio - 18 Sept

Patience and Perseverance
Written by Ferdinand Peter

In Galatians 5:22-24, we are told by St Paul that the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trustfulness, gentleness and self-control. As Christians, we know very well how God loves us so much he sent his son to earth to die for us. We are taught by Jesus’ example to love one another and in order for us to be able to love one another; we have to develop the spirit of patience. For with love, comes great patience.

In chapter 3 of the Legion handbook, it is mentioned that the spirit of the Legion of Mary is that of Mary herself. It is inspiring to know that we are called to follow her footsteps; to learn from her humility and obedience, to mirror her angelical sweetness, to grow a self-sacrificing courageous love of God, and to have a heroic patience. Here, I would like to emphasize on the spirit of patience which Mother Mary has.

Indeed it is hard to find an example of Mary’s patience through the Bible as she was a humble person and not many things about her has had been recorded in the Bible. However, most of the recorded events with Mary in it actually show us how patient she was (Beginning of the Gospel of Matthew). One example was right after she was conceived by the Holy Spirit, when she had to explain to Joseph about how she became pregnant. Being an upright person, Joseph wanted to divorce her informally until an angel came to him and told him that indeed she was bearing Jesus who was the Son of God and he was to take her home as his wife. Imagine how patient Mary must have been to bear the burden as a mother without a husband after Joseph left her to go back to his house. How about when Mary was trying to convince Joseph that it was the work of the Holy Spirit and she is fulfilling the will of God? Do you think Mary just told Joseph that she was pregnant and did not explain to him what had actually happened? So, how patient did you think Mary was at that time?

From here, I would like to shift back the topic to our work as legionary and how patient has to come in. Indeed many times when we encounter difficulties, we will feel discouraged. Be it when people do not show up for events which we organized such as Patrician Meetings due to circumstances or fear or even not having the desire to attend such an event. (Having studies as our main priority and forgetting God in many aspects of our lives). However, it is okay to feel sad at those times, but do not be discouraged. Even our founder Frank Duff says that we will always have heavy crosses to carry and thus, we should not avoid any form of sufferings that are present. It is very important for us ourselves to have a strong spiritual life to back these things up, so that we can persevere with a patient and loving heart.


"Are not Jesus and Mary the new Adam and Eve, whom the tree of the Cross brought together in anguish and love for the repairing of the fault committed in Eden by our first parents? Jesus is the source and Mary the channel of the graces which give us spiritual rebirth and aid us to win back our heavenly home."


From these sentences, we know the importance of Mary’s intercessions who is the Mediatrix of all graces in our daily work in “winning back our heavenly home”. A home is empty without a family and thus we are all asked to reach out to our brothers and sisters who are straying away from our earthly home, ‘the Church’. And so again I repeat prayer is important and should be the backbone in everything we do. And in order to start or even continue praying, discipline and perseverance comes in, and thus, patience is needed.

‘ 7 Now be patient, brothers, until the Lord's coming. Think of a farmer: how patiently he waits for the precious fruit of the ground until it has had the autumn rains and the spring rains! 8 You too must be patient; do not lose heart, because the Lord's coming will be soon. 9 Do not make complaints against one another, brothers, so as not to be brought to judgment yourselves; the Judge is already to be seen waiting at the gates. 10 For your example, brothers, in patiently putting up with persecution, take the prophets who spoke in the Lord's name; 11 remember it is those who had perseverance that we say are the blessed ones. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and understood the Lord's purpose, realizing that the Lord is kind and compassionate. 12 Above all, my brothers, do not swear by heaven or by the earth or use any oaths at all. If you mean 'yes', you must say 'yes'; if you mean 'no', say 'no'. Otherwise you make yourselves liable to judgment. 13 Any one of you who is in trouble should pray; anyone in good spirits should sing a psalm. 14 Any one of you who is ill should send for the elders of the church, and they must anoint the sick person with oil in the name of the Lord and pray over him. 15 The prayer of faith will save the sick person and the Lord will raise him up again; and if he has committed any sins, he will be forgiven. 16 So confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another to be cured; the heartfelt prayer of someone upright works very powerfully. 17 Elijah was a human being as frail as ourselves -- he prayed earnestly for it not to rain, and no rain fell for three and a half years; 18 then he prayed again and the sky gave rain and the earth gave crops. 19 My brothers, if one of you strays away from the truth, and another brings him back to it, 20 he may be sure that anyone who can bring back a sinner from his erring ways will be saving his soul from death and covering over many a sin.’-(James 5:7-20)


Here we learn how we should be patient, how we should pray. Since we know how important it is to trust God and to have faith in him, does that mean we should not initiate certain things and let destiny carries us through our life? Are we called to just pray when we know we can do something about certain things? “If I have to do work, God will provide me with the work so I shall not search for any work to do.” Is that how a legionary should be thinking? No! Indeed we should not have that kind of mentality.

‘Now and then, fault has had to be found with branches or members who did not appear to be making sufficient effort in connection with the ordinary Legion work or with extension or recruiting. Sometimes this kind of answer is forthcoming: "I distrust my own powers. I rely altogether on Our Blessed Lady to bring about the right result in her own way." Often this reply proceeds from earnest persons who are inclined to ascribe to their own inactivity a sort of virtue, as if method and effort implied a littleness of faith. There may be, too, a certain danger of applying human ideas to these things and of reasoning that if one is the instrument of a simply immense power, the exact degree of one's own effort does not so greatly matter. Why, it may be argued, should a poor man who is in partnership with a millionaire, exhaust himself to contribute an extra penny to the already overflowing common purse?’-Legio Mariae

It is mentioned here that method and effort does not equate to having a little faith. Having faith in Jesus, does not mean we do not put in any effort or method. We still need to persevere and that is why patience is necessary. It is due to the trust that we have in the Lord, that we are able to achieve many great things.

In relation to the question in the handbook concerning the argument of the partnership between the poor and the rich, we can find the answer in the Bible (Mark 12:41-44). Jesus himself pointed out that a poor widow who gave a penny was giving more than a rich man who was putting in a huge sum of money. The poor widow was giving less than the rich man but it was more valuable as compared to the rich man who had abundance of wealth. And putting into our daily context, we as students have very little time to spend with others and it is time that is deemed valuable to us. As students, we are always fighting against time but do not be afraid of sparing a bit of your time for your neighbors. Be warned that this does not mean neglecting your studies. “For a poor can only give what he has and not more than that.” We have to strive to give and be patient in continually giving regardless of how small our gifts are. For in the eyes of God, our small gifts are magnified in effects.

Next, we should not seek for direct results whenever we do our contact work as only God knows when is the proper time for Him to touch the heart of our contacts.

‘God is easy to discover in at least a confused and primitive sort of way through every striving and aspiration of our will and our heart. For the great difference between an animal and a human is that an animal have its desires satisfied but a human cannot. All that an animal wants is to have its immediate needs granted; this is never the case with man.’-Fulton J. Sheen


Furthermore, we always pray for a sign from God, and when we don’t get any signs through lectio divina or Mass, we use our human reasoning. Do not apply human ideas as Frank Duff has pointed out but all we have to do is persevere in faith and in prayers. Perhaps we were not aware of the signs or forgetting to listen to our brothers and sisters who are brought by God to teach us certain things. Sometimes we know that we will not be able to obtain certain things, like running for Presidency in a club. We should not refuse a nomination immediately as people has put some faith and trust in us. Therefore, if you think you can spare the time and commitment, do try go for it although you are not ‘famous’ and might lose in votes. Or after running for it and failed to obtain the post, do not feel discouraged and says that it is God’s will that this happened and I should not run for it in the first place. For we do not know what is God’s will unless we constantly discern and take initiatives in wanting to know what God has planned for us instead of just running away from doing the work which you are supposed to do. Pray to God that everything you do will be of his will and for his glory; go ahead to do what you think or feel is right. God has given everything that we have now and we should use fully everything that we own. Be it our hands to assure others, our ears to listen to our loved ones, and our hearts to simply love our brothers and sisters. So, brothers and sisters in Christ, thank you so much for being so patient in listening to my allocutio. Before I end off, I want all of you to reflect back whether you have given your best whenever you do your contact work. If you have given up on certain people in bringing them back to the faith, do you just forget about them or do you pray for them? Whenever you encounter difficulties, do you complain about it or share with others in the hope of finding a solution? How about your own spiritual journey? Have you been patient in growing your own relationship with God through prayers?

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Bella (2006) - Bellissima!


I have wanted to see Bella ever since I read about it in the AmericanPapist blog. But because it was an independent film, it was not released widely to the international audience. Yesterday, I finally managed to watch the movie.

Bella is beautiful. I mean that in every way possible. It is a touching story of two hurt, guilt-stricken people who, in one day, manage to heal each other's wounds. Eduardo Verastegui plays Jose, a soccer star-turned-chef who works in his older brother's restaurant, and Nina, a struggling young woman who recently found out that she is pregnant.

Tammy Blanchard's performance of Nina was perfectly spot-on. Beautiful, and yet haunted with grief; independent and yet vulnerable. She is pregnant and the father of the child wants her to "take care of it." When she shows up late for work for the second day in a row, Jose's brother fires her. She is completely broke and has no family to support her. All in all, her world is crumbling and she can only watch helplessly as the whole deck of cards collapses. She considers aborting her child because she is not ready, and she doesn't want to bring a child into this world without any love to surround it.

But then enters Jose, who is flawlessly played by Eduardo Verastegui. He himself carries a heavy guilt. As penance, he has shunned his former ways and now lives as a nondescript guy. But even with all of his inner self-recriminations, he reaches out to Nina and helps her in her time of need. He doesn't tell her a lot of things. Instead, he shows her that there is hope. He brings her to his family and shows her that there can be joy if she allows things to run their natural course. Most of all, he was willing to act. To actually do something instead of just spouting words.

I think what I love most about this movie is that it handles the issue of abortion masterfully. It doesn't simply gloss over the issue, but instead shows how painful the decision is for women who consider it. Their anguish, their fears are real. The film is not preachy. Jose never directly tells Nina what she is supposed to do. But he shows her that there are other options. And he doesn't stop there. In the end, he actually gives her the option.

The point of Bella is simply this. Life is beautiful; it must be preserved at all cost. There are many options to help deal with unwanted pregnancies, but the killing of an innocent life can NEVER be one of them.

Friday, September 19, 2008

"I'll pray for you" :)

Actually I've been inspired to write this post since yesterday. But I don't have time yesterday to write because I'm busy. lol. Anyway, yesterday I attended the Science CG, and apparently the topic for CG that day was Praying with The Community.

When I was sharing with them about the topic in CG, actually what really is inspiring me (to write this especially) is not really the bible passage. But more about my own reflection, my own experiences which I can appreciate more after the CG, after listening to others' sharing as well.

Well, yesterday's CG really reminded me of how lucky am I to have you all, in the CSS, ICy, Legion; to be in a community who is always supporting me anytime. I can really feel how people are really care about one another, how they love each other. And I guess that's how people get attracted to Catholic community like us :)

And also, especially from Legion.. I have learned about this pray with the community thing. Starting from the exam prayer I experienced in the beginning of my journey with this community. And actually, from the sharing yesterday.. I found that not a lot of people are used to pray for each other like how we did in Legion. and how they are really feel very special when they heard someone say, "I'll pray for you.", which is not very often for them.

So, the point is.. this post is actually more like a 'thanksgiving post' from me for having you all, who are always saying "I'll pray pray for you" to me. And, maybe.. we need to say that, "I'll pray for you." more often to others. Cause.. i guess, prayer is always and always the best gift from God right? And, how beautiful it is if we can share that gift to others as well :)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Whaaaaat???!!

Texas High School Student Told Rosary Is 'Gang Symbol'


A Texas teen claims she is forbidden from wearing a rosary around her neck in school because the Catholic prayer beads are a gang symbol, MyFOXDFW.com reported.

Tabitha Ruiz was stopped by security guards at Seagoville High School in Dallas last week and told to take off the silver and ruby beaded rosary, a gift from her mother. On Monday, the same thing happened when she again came to the school wearing the beads.

"I went to school, walked through the metal detectors and they told me to take it off," the teen said. "I asked them why and they said because it's gang-related."

Ruiz and her mother, Taire Ferguson, said they had no idea that rosary beads were a gang symbol. Police, however, are well aware.

"Lately they’ve been seen wearing religious jewelry such as the rosary worn by gang members, so it is a factor," Sr. Cpl Kevin Janse of the Dallas Police Department told the FOX affiliate.

While rosaries are not specifically banned in area schools, a spokesman for the Dallas Independent School District said that whether or not they're allowed is at the principal’s discretion.

Ruiz and her mother have vowed to take the district to court if necessary.

Patrician Meeting: Good Catholics in a Secular Workplace - Can or Not?

This is what I love when I love my God.

But what is it that I love in loving thee? Not physical beauty, nor the splendour of time, nor the radiance of the light -- so pleasant to our eyes -- nor the sweet melodies of the various kinds of songs, nor the fragrant smell of flowers and ointments and spices; not manna and honey, not the limbs embraced in physical love -- it is not these I love when I love my God.

Yet it is true that I love a certain kind of light and sound and fragrance and food and embrace in loving my God, who is the light and sound and fragrance and food and embracement of my inner man -- where that light shines into my soul which no place can contain, where time does not snatch away the lovely sound, where no breeze disperses the sweet fragrance, where no eating diminishes the food there provided, and where there is an embrace that no satiety comes to sunder. This is what I love when I love my God.

St Augustine, Confessions, Book X:VI

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Love :)

finally, i think it's time for me to write my first post *even though most of the things in this post is copied from The Soul of Apostolate. lol*

i've been thinking on what topic should i choose for my first post, and finally.. i decided! i'll write about love :) there are many reasons why i chose this topic. because today's reading is about love, my spiritual reading's topic today was about love, my cg topic yesterday was about love, my last allocutio also about love (and apostolate actually), and soo.. yes, i think i should share about this. :)

An ardent love of Christ and true flair for saving souls will give an apostle all the daring compatible with tact and prudence. Here is a story that was told us directly by an eminent layman. On the occasion of a conversation with Pius X he chanced to let fall a few biting words against an enemy of the Church. "My Son," said the Pope, "I do not approve of the way you talk. For your penance, listen to this story. A priest I used to know very well had just arrived in his first parish. He thought it is his duty to visit every family, including Jews, Protestants, and even Freemasons. Then he announced from the pulpit that he would repeat the visits every year. His confreres got very excited at this, and complained to the Bishop, and the Bishop, in turn, sent for the culprit and reprimanded him severely. 'My Lord,' answered the priest modestly, 'Jesus orders his pastors, in the Gospel, to bring all His sheep into the fold. How are we going to do that without going out after them? Besides, I never compromise on principles, and I confine myself to expressing my interest and my charity towards all the souls entrusted to my by God, even the ones that have gone furthest astray. I have announced from the pulpit that I would make these visits; if you formally desire me to give them up, please be good enough to give me this prohibition in writing, so that everybody may know that I am simply obeying your orders.' Moved by the justice of this appeal, the Bishop did not insist. And in any case, the future proved that the priest was right, because he had the happiness to convert a few of these strays, and inspired all the others with a great respect for our holy religion. This humble parish priest, by the will of God, eventually became the Pope who is now giving you this lesson in charity, my son! Therefore, cling firmly to principles through thick and thin, but let your charity go out to all men, even the worst enemies of the Church."


humm.. dunno about you all, but for me, I think this is a very nice stories which reflect the power of love. and for me myself, after these 2 years serving in the CSS and in the Legion, it is really love that has been sustained me in doing this apostolate works. and i think, this quote from St Josemaria can conclude my very long first post :P

And what is the secret of perseverance? Love. Fall in Love, and you will not leave him.

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Present is the point at which time touches eternity

Randomly opened the Screwtape Letters by Lewis (which I borrowed from Dom long long time a go) [yes Dom, will return to you this Thursday during mtg] and apparently God wants me to read the one very applicable to me now.

So this is senior devil advising to younger one. Enemy means God, so 'our good' means the good for the devil's side. This is really good, esp. when your project is not going well even though you have invested your time and love. While the other project envies the previously mentioned project.

15

MY DEAR WORMWOOD,

I had noticed, of course, that the humans were having a lull in their European war—what they na├»vely call "The War"!—and am not surprised that there is a corresponding lull in the patient's anxieties. Do we want to encourage this, or to keep him worried? Tortured fear and stupid confidence are both desirable states of mind. Our choice between them raises important questions.

The humans live in time but our Enemy destines them to eternity. He therefore, I believe, wants them to attend chiefly to two things, to eternity itself, and to that point of time which they call the Present. For the Present is the point at which time touches eternity. Of the present moment, and of it only, humans have an experience analogous to the experience which our Enemy has of reality as a whole; in it alone freedom and actuality are offered them. He would therefore have them continually concerned either with eternity (which means being concerned with Him) or with the Present—either meditating on their eternal union with, or separation from, Himself, or else obeying the present voice of conscience, bearing the present cross, receiving the present grace, giving thanks for the present pleasure.

Our business is to get them away from the eternal, and from the Present. With this in view, we sometimes tempt a human (say a widow or a scholar) to live in the Past. But this is of limited value, for they have some real knowledge of the past and it has a determinate nature and, to that extent, resembles eternity. .It is far better to make them live in the Future. Biological necessity makes all their passions point in that direction already, so that thought about the Future inflames hope and fear. Also, it is unknown to them, so that in making them think about it we make them think of unrealities. In a word, the Future is, of all things, the thing least like eternity. It is the most completely temporal part of time—for the Past is frozen and no longer flows, and the Present is all lit up with eternal rays. Hence the encouragement we have given to all those schemes of thought such as Creative Evolution, Scientific Humanism, or Communism, which fix men's affections on the Future, on the very core of temporality. Hence nearly all vices are rooted in the future. Gratitude looks to the past and love to the present; fear, avarice, lust, and ambition look ahead. Do not think lust an exception. When the present pleasure arrives, the sin (which alone interests us) is already over. The pleasure is just the part of the process which we regret and would exclude if we could do so without losing the sin; it is the part contributed by the Enemy, and therefore experienced in a Present. The sin, which is our contribution, looked forward.

To be sure, the Enemy wants men to think of the Future too—just so much as is necessary for now planning the acts of justice or charity which will probably be their duty tomorrow. The duty of planning the morrow's work is today's duty; though its material is borrowed from the future, the duty, like all duties, is in the Present. This is not straw splitting. He does not want men to give the Future their hearts, to place their treasure in it. We do. His ideal is a man who, having worked all day for the good of posterity (if that is his vocation), washes his mind of the whole subject, commits the issue to Heaven, and returns at once to the patience or gratitude demanded by the moment that is passing over him. But we want a man hag-ridden by the Future—haunted by visions of an imminent heaven or hell upon earth—ready to break the Enemy's commands in the present if by so doing we make him think he can attain the one or avert the other—dependent for his faith on the success or failure of schemes whose end he will not live to see. We want a whole race perpetually in pursuit of the rainbow's end, never honest, nor kind, nor happy now, but always using as mere fuel wherewith to heap the altar of the future every real gift which is offered them in the Present.

It follows then, in general, and other things being equal, that it is better for your patient to be filled with anxiety or hope (it doesn't much matter which) about this war than for him to be living in the present. But the phrase "living in the present" is ambiguous. It may describe a process which is really just as much concerned with the Future as anxiety itself. Your man may be untroubled about the Future, not because he is concerned with the Present, but because he has persuaded himself that the Future is, going to be agreeable. As long as that is the real course of his tranquillity, his tranquillity will do us good, because it is only piling up more disappointment, and therefore more impatience, for him when his false hopes are dashed. If, on the other hand, he is aware that horrors may be in store for him and is praying for the virtues, wherewith to meet them, and meanwhile concerning himself with the Present because there, and there alone, all duty, all grace, all knowledge, and all pleasure dwell, his state is very undesirable and should be attacked at once. Here again, our Philological Arm has done good work; try the word "complacency" on him. But, of course, it is most likely that he is "living in the Present" for none of these reasons but simply because his health is good and he is enjoying his work. The phenomenon would then be merely natural. All the same, I should break it up if I were you. No natural phenomenon is really in our favour. And anyway, why should the creature be happy?

Your affectionate uncle
SCREWTAPE

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Let the little ones come to me...

Here's yet another funny picture from AmericanPapist.com:


And here's a very nice video about The Catholic Vote:

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Marian Papacy of Benedict XVI

By John Allen Jr

By conventional standards, Jesus’ mother is not a major figure in the New Testament. Her name appears barely a dozen times; famously, Mary is mentioned more often in the Qur’an than in the Christian Bible. Yet despite that relatively low profile, few figures in Scripture have been the subject of greater controversy.

For some Protestants, Mary has long loomed as a symbol of Catholicism’s penchant for “adding” to the gospel, in this case an almost blasphemous level of devotion to a mere human being. For some feminists, veneration of Mary as both virgin and mother sets an impossible standard for women, thereby perpetuating male dominance. For many secularists, the body of miraculous lore surrounding Mary, especially her reported apparitions in various parts of the world, strains credibility in a special way.

In part, perhaps, Mary has been a lightning rod precisely because she is such a uniquely Catholic figure. Catholics share Christ, the gospels, prayer and sacrifice, even the sacraments, with many other forms of Christianity. Yet even though other Christians treasure Mary in their own ways, she is strongly associated in the popular imagination with the Catholic church.

Mary’s centrality in Catholic tradition may help explain why the last two popes, John Paul II and Benedict XVI, have been so committed to reawakening Marian devotion in the church. For both popes, defending Catholic identity in a highly secular age has been job number one, and nothing says ‘Catholic’ quite like the Blessed Virgin Mary.

John Paul’s motto was Totus Tuus, “all yours,” a phrase from the book True Devotion to Mary by the 17th and 18th century French saint Louis de Montfort. As for Benedict XVI, so far he’s made nine foreign trips, and virtually all have pivoted on a major Marian shrine. While in Brazil, for example, Benedict went to the shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida; the heart of his trip to Austria was a stop at the sanctuary of Mariazell.


Please read the rest here

John Allen mentions five points that the Holy Father made in his recent trip to Sardinia.
  • Mary points to Christ, above all to his incarnation.
  • Mary is a symbol of the beauty and tenderness of God.
  • Mary is a forerunner and a model for all disciples of Christ.
  • Mary is a model for mothers, children and spouses, and thus a patron of the family.
  • Mary is the “star of the new evangelization,” a patron for efforts to bring Christ to the world.
Via the AmericanPapist

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Allocutio on 4 Sept - HOPE

In the antiphon of last Sunday’s mass, we are called as Christians to live in hope. In the First Letter from Peter: “Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence” (1 Pet. 3:15)

The Second Letter of St Paul to the Corinthians: “The God who said, “Out of darkness the light shall shine!” is the same God who made his light shine in our hearts, to bring us the knowledge of God’s glory shining in the face of Christ.”

He has called us to live with hope, to account for the hope in us and to see the hope in the midst of undesirable situations. And we do these with the knowledge of God’s glory shining in the face of Christ.

The Olympics had just ended. On the outset, with the mimicking of a little girl’s voice of joy, it was a game glorifying the more “perfect” sportspeople, a game glorifying the more “beautiful”. But beyond this superficial glorification, we are reminded about the poverty that lies within the rural areas of China. We recall the joy of the original singer in the opening ceremony and lastly, we remember the sportsman running in campaign for life. (Lopez Lomong who ran in campaign against the Darfur genocide)

We affirm hope with the knowledge of God’s glory shining in the face of Christ and we strive to be a prophetic voice speaking out to protest injustices and indignities.

“The Catholic Church strives to be a prophetic voice, speaking out to protest injustices and indignities against the human person. Catholics will continue in this work, whether our words are popular or unpopular.”

Whether our thinking is popular or unpopular, we shall continue in this thinking of hope that is in communion with the knowledge of God’s glory shining in the face of Christ. St Augustine warned against misusing the limited knowledge of biology to risk committing homicide. With firmness and clarity in the light of truth, the Church teaches us what is morally right. St Augustine rejected acts against life at every stage for he believed with hope in God having “the power to make up all human deficiencies or lack of development in the Resurrection”. (www.catholiconline.com)

Even knowing at the beginning that her Son would die, our Mother embraced and loved Christ. She did not perform euthanasia on Christ but brought him up and remained with him till the end at the foot of the Cross. Our Lord knew He would die but did not choose an easier means of doing so. His agony at the Garden was one of hope in our salvation. "If this cup cannot pass by, but I must drink it, your will be done!" It was a prayer in communion with the knowledge of the Father’s glory..

Thence, with reverence to Him and with gentleness like our Mother, we remind ourselves to be a living account of hope..
And Happie Bdae Mummy! :)

We Catholics are VERY creative :p

Watch these!











Saturday, September 6, 2008

From St Augustine

Here's a beautiful message from St Augustine. When you go to meet God, bring along with you as many souls as you can!

If physical objects please you, praise God for them, but turn back your love to their Creator, lest, in those things which please you, you displease him. If souls please you, let them be loved in God; for in themselves they are mutable, but in him firmly established--without him they would simply cease to exist. In him, then, let them be loved; and bring along to him with yourself as many souls as you can, and say to them: “Let us love him, for he himself created all these, and he is not far away from them. For he did not create them, and then go away. They are of him and in him. Behold, there he is, wherever truth is known. He is within the inmost heart, yet the heart has wandered away from him. Return to your heart, O you transgressors, and hold fast to him who made you. Stand with him and you shall stand fast. Rest in him and you shall be at rest. Where do you go along these rugged paths? Where are you going? The good that you love is from him, and insofar as it is also for him, it is both good and pleasant. But it will rightly be turned to bitterness if whatever comes from him is not rightly loved and if he is deserted for the love of the creature. Why then will you wander farther and farther in these difficult and toilsome ways? There is no rest where you seek it. Seek what you seek; but remember that it is not where you seek it. You seek for a blessed life in the land of death. It is not there. For how can there be a blessed life where life itself is not?”
Confessions, Book IV, Chapter 12

Thursday, September 4, 2008

How to Stay Catholic in College

Friday, August 22, 2008
By Father Mark

Dr. Christopher Kaczor was recently on the Life on the Rock discussing how to stay Catholic in college. Dr. Kaczor is a college philosophy professor and author of various books and articles. I thought he had well-reasoned insights into why many drift away from their faith during the college years. I would like to point out here a few points we discussed on the show.

To go to college is a privilege. We take it for granted now, but it is a privileged time to study and grow as person. We should approach this time with gratitude for an opportunity to develop ourselves.

Approaching college with an attitude of thankfulness and of humility for receiving this gift makes us good stewards of what we have been given. When we lose sight of college being a gift and make it just a time to follow whims and hedonism, we are wasting time and money.

Make friends in college who have good values and who will help you to stay on the right track. If we are around people who are immersed in the party scene, not serious about school work, or are of bad morals, we will be tempted to do the same. I often hear from college students that one can find what one wants on a college campus. There is a full spectrum on campus. You can find people who share your faith, and this can be a big help to you keeping yours. My first roommate in college was Catholic and he would drive me to Mass with him on Sundays. It was a big help for me.

Frequenting the sacraments and a daily prayer life are necessary for staying close to the Lord. It is good to go to confession at least once a month, and more if you are struggling with sin. Dr. Kaczor made a great point that if we are getting our hair cut more often than we are going to confession, we should probably be paying more attention to the beauty of a virtuous life.

A prayer life is necessary for a Christian. Don’t let the perfect spoil the good. Short prayers said with fervor can help us stay on track. A morning offering, examination of conscience at night, and short prayers during the day are a way of asking God for the grace to remain faithful to him.

The rosary, longer periods of meditation and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament are great sources of peace and grace in our lives. We should always be striving for a deeper prayer life, but don’t lose confidence in even a quick prayer.

We must also be aware that relativistic notions of truth and a philosophy of materialism dominate our college campuses today. Simply put, we have lost confidence in finding the truth, especially moral truth. We have made it purely subjective today. We simply define our own truth today. We have lost any sense of discovering or receiving a truth that is outside of “me,” a law that does not come from me. We have given up the search, the seeking of truth. How can we find it, if we are no longer searching?

Materialism denies a spirit world – or a spirit world of any consequence. We have reduced truth to what we can measure in the lab or experience with our senses. But philosophy and faith are real sources of knowledge and should not be discounted. Maybe we minimize these sources of truth to be free of their demands upon us, but we strip ourselves of the real drama of life where evil and goodness are possible and heroism is called for.

Frequently, in academic settings, the Church is discounted on account of her past failings. Holiness is of her essence, but we sinners find in her a home of forgiveness. We are a communion of sinners. The Catholic Church has made great contributions to civilization and she has had her failures. We acknowledge these failures and ask forgiveness. The Church has the fullness of Truth and Grace in this world. Her members are always subject to human frailty, but we do not dismiss the Church because of the errors of a few.

One final point is that the truth, found in any discipline of knowledge, can never be a threat to our faith. God is the source of all truth, and He cannot contradict himself. We are not afraid of nor do we stifle the truth.

College is a marvelous time in people’s lives to learn and grow into adulthood. Young people’s hope and idealism should be fostered at school and guided by our faith. Our faith takes nothing away from us that is true, good and beautiful. Our Catholic faith leads us to the one who is truth, goodness and beauty itself.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Monday, September 1, 2008