One of our favorites, Msgr Charles Pope, of the Washington Archdiocese, has a fascinating blog post that gives us a good flavor of what ancient masses were like before the Edict of Milan (which legalized Christianity in the Roman Empire in 313 AD). The main thing that strikes me about the description of the ancient mass is how formal it was together with the fact that the laity and the priest ALL faced east (Ad Orientum). Thank God the Church is getting back to the basics.
A Muslim Imam has converted to Catholicism! Could this be the start of something big? It is not an accident that our blessed mother, in 1917, appeared in a town named after Mohammed’s daughter Fatima. Check out the link below:
I pray for this man’s safety and that his witness spreads throughout the middle east and the world. Our Lady of Fatima please pray for us!
The English Catholic stud, GK Chesterton, in his book “Everlasting Man,” writes the best way to be an accurate judge of something is to be close enough to love it, but far away enough to not hate it. Chesterton states:
“The worst judge of all is the man now most ready with his judgements, the ill-educated Christian turning gradually into the ill tempered agnostic, entangled in the end of a feud of which he never understood the beginning, blighted with a sort of hereditary boredom with he knows not what, and already bored of hearing what he has not heard.”
Does this describe most Americans these days or what?
“Deny your desires and you will find what your heart longs for. For how do you know if any desire of yours is according to God?”
– St. John of the Cross
Saint Kolbe has always been one of my heroes. My daughter’s homeschool program is named after him and we have a very strong family devotion to him especially because of his study and devotion to Our Lady. We are all members of his army, the Militia of the Immaculata.
Father Kolbe is a martyr of charity for his actions at Auschwitz when he volunteered to give up his life for a fellow prisoner. He is a witness for us in this age of selfishness in which we live. His legacy will live on forever.
Below is a great article by author Cari Donaldson about Saint Kolbe that alerted me to some facts about his parents of which I was unaware. For almost every saint there are humble and devout parents that helped raise them.
Father Kolbe please pray for us.
We stand on the shoulders of giants. All the saints, our brothers and sisters in Christ, are giants, living in the infinite heart of God. And it’s that infinite nature of God, His boundless love and generosity and strength that shines through in the giants we call saints.
But sometimes there is a holy person whose love for God is played out against a backdrop of extraordinary times, with extraordinary events swirling around him. Sometimes, a holy person is so larger-than-life on this side of life, that it’s hard to wrap your head around it.
St. Maximilian Kolbe was one such saint. As a child, he was visited by an apparition of the Blessed Mother, who held out two crowns to him- a white crown of purity, and a red crown of martyrdom. Famously, Kolbe chose both, and both he was given.
Wholeheartedly embracing the communications technology of the time, Kolbe organized the Militia Immaculata- the Army of Mary- to work for the conversion of sinners, to strengthen the faithful, and to speak out against growing atrocities of the Nazi regime. He published tracts, newspapers, magazines, and even had an amateur radio license.
This giant of a saint traveled to Japan, and set up a monastery in Nagasaki- a monastery that was one of the few buildings to withstand the blast of the atomic bomb dropped on the city.
From Japan, Kolbe returned to Poland, where he sheltered thousands of refugees from the Nazi regime. He was eventually, inevitably, arrested and ultimately was sent to Auschwitz. There, he offered to die in place of another prisoner, and spent his final days in what was termed “The Hunger Pit”- an underground bunker where Kolbe and nine other men were left to die of dehydration.
For two weeks Kolbe led the other men in Mass and prayers and hymns. He stayed with each of the men as they left this world and went to meet God face to face. For two weeks, Kolbe endured, until finally his jailors decided that this giant of a saint needed to die to make room for more victims. A lethal injection of carbolic acid was administered, and St. Maximilian Kolbe, a giant among giants, returned to God, undoubtedly carried there in the arms of his beloved Mary.
But today, on this man’s feast day, this giant of a saint upon whose shoulders we get to stand every time we ask for his intercession, I want to talk about somebody else. Specifically, two somebody elses, who raised up this larger-than-life saint.
Julius and Maria Kolbe were poor laborers. Julius was German, Maria was Polish. Together they had four sons, and worked a number of grueling jobs to make ends meet for the family. They rented their housing. They rented the land Julius grew vegetables on. They knew the pain of losing a child young, and the pain of losing another child even younger.
Their second child, Raymond, was a handful, and was known to be quite mischievous. One day, out of the exasperation all parents know, Maria looked at her high-spirited son and said, “Honestly, what will become of you?”
Those words hit home, because it was that evening that young Raymond was visited by the Blessed Mother and hear her offer of two crowns. From here, Raymond seems to have changed, and, taking those twin crowns seriously, entered a junior Franciscan seminary, applying himself to his studies.
Raymond had a gift for both science and military strategy. He also had a great love for Poland, and he decided that he would better spend his life as a soldier, fighting for his homeland’s independence, rather than becoming a priest.
The story goes that on the very day he was going to leave the seminary, and tell his parents about his plans to enlist in military life, his mother paid him an unexpected visit at the school. She revealed to him that since she and Julius had raised up all their children, they were now going to enter religious life. This story and his parents’ decision affected Raymond greatly, and so he abandoned his military plans, entered the Franciscan Order, and became Maximilian Kolbe.
What the world would have lost without the example of St. Maximilian. Certainly, Raymond Kolbe would have continued to do good as a Polish soldier, but there would have been so much lost, on such a broader scale, had Maria Kolbe not showed up that day with her news.
This is how it goes, I think. A saint does not exist apart from God, but neither does he exist apart from his community, his family. So while we, the Church Militant, get to stand on the shoulders of giants, if we look carefully, we see that those giants stand on the fragile shoulders of their loved ones, who, in a thousand different, unplanned ways, helped raise up a holy man for God.
The people you meet today, tomorrow, next week, family, friends, strangers, all of them were placed in your life on purpose. So while you may never be asked to wear the red crown of martyrdom, your actions may be building up a new giant for God, and surely there’s a crown for that, too.
Posted below, Sean McAfee has written an excellent blog post about the Catholic Church and suicide in response to the tragic and sad news of the death of funny man Robin Williams. The post has an outstanding story about St. John Vianney as well that was eye opening to me. I hope Mr. Williams’ death, God rest his soul, will spark serious change in the Church regarding how to deal with mental ill parishioners and the public at large.
The mentally ill belong in the Catholic Church. The Church truly is the Solution of all Problems and it is the only safe place the mentally ill have on this earth. The Church is the only organization that can make the ill understand their pain, suffering and lack of hope. The messages of hope, love and piety, that are great and inspiring for healthy people, tend to isolate even further the mentally ill which could cause them to leave the safe confines of the mystical body of Christ. The Church needs to figure out ways to administer to the mentally ill before more souls are lost.
For example, Catholics often hear from the pulpit the message of you “love others.” However for the mentally fragile, the things people do wound the mentally ill much deeper than others. Plus most of the time the mentally ill have difficulty even loving themselves which makes it impossible to love others.
Another common message is “life is a gift!” For the mentally ill, life never seems like a gift, but rather a constant steam of pain that never ends and it takes everything the ill person has to simply drag themselves out of bed and get through the day.
We often hear “look inward and change your sinful self.” All the mentally ill DO is look inward and what others may call sin and weakness is really a debilitating automatic facet of themselves that they could scarcely change if they tried.
Finally, and the big message we often hear is “Don’t despair and have hope!” For the mentally ill, hope comes about as easy as changing their eye color.
Please pray for the mentally ill that they find the strength to stay faithful while remaining in the bosom of Holy Mother Church
How does the Church Respond to Suicide?
The news of Robin Williams’ death is heartbreaking, as is any news of the death of one of our heroes. Just as was the news of mega-church pastor Rick Warren’s son’s suicide.
I can understand Williams and I feel pity and sorrow for those souls. I really can and do. Between the time I was 14-17 I tried on three separate occasions to kill myself. All three times I couldn’t even overdose correctly. That, or my guardian angel was purifying the poison I had consumed inside my body. That was an awful time of my life; I hated who I was, what I was addicted to, and certainly believed I had no reason to live and didn’t want to.
The problem with depression is that those who have it don’t know it, ignore it, or play it down. I’ve always been the funny guy. I’ve always been the “life” of any social situation, but on the inside, for years, I was hurting. To be honest, I can’t give credit to anything other than God for having dragged me out of that burning building I was trapped inside. Nothing can surpass the understanding of the grace of God.
But on the subject of suicide we acknowledge the crime of taking ones own life. It’s the direct rejection of what God has created us for, a violation of the 5th commandment, but is it always a mortal and grave circumstance?
For those who haven’t familiarized themselves with it, the Cure of Ars is the book that contains the incredible works of St. John Vianney. This book played a brilliant part in my own conversion to the Church. You have to know that John had several mystical gifts. You name it, he likely had it. One in particular that stopped me cold in my conversion process was his ability to know details of confessors when hearing confessions. I didn’t believe in confession at the time but there was an amazing story about Vianney I was stupefied by.
In it, there is a woman who told St. John Vianney that she was devastated because her husband had committed suicide. She wanted to approach the great priest but his line often lasted for hours and she could not reach him. She was ready to give up and in a moment of mystical insight that only a great saint can receive, John Vianney exclaimed through the crowd, “He is saved!” The woman was incredulous so the saint repeated, stressing each word, “I tell you he is saved. He is in Purgatory, and you must pray for him. Between the parapet of the bridge and the water he had time to make an act of contrition.”
This story is powerful. First of all, we can never understand and know the hearts and actions of others to the degree that God does. Second, and this is really first, we will never and can never understand the mercy and peace of God.
This all speaks just as well to the need for the confessional in the modern world. Society preaches that we are all fine but we spend millions on self-help books and services. The psychologist’s couch has replaced the confessional bench and curtain, and we wonder why western society is hurting, suicide rates are up, and people feel more judged and jailed than ever. When we do approach God in confession we approach the embassy of God’s Kingdom. There, we are not on earthly soil, but are in a place that God has reserved for us to heal and recover from our pain and suffering. The problem is, we don’t always think we are suffering. We get used to the pain. We need to know and remind ourselves that the door to healing and conversion is always open; the light is always on.
The Catechism says:
❝2282 – “…Grave psychological disturbances, anguish, or grave fear of hardship, suffering, or torture can diminish the responsibility of the one committing suicide.”
2283- “We should not despair of the eternal salvation of persons who have taken their own lives. By ways known to him alone, God can provide the opportunity for salutary repentance. The Church prays for persons who have taken their own lives.”
Suicide is a product of such a deep pain and torment that nobody can understand it. From the Church, you won’t find anything in that teaching about going to hell for the act. How should we respond to suicide then? With pity, and prayers. So long as we do this, we have hope and give others who are on the same road a hope to talk to someone.
St. Paul was certainly convinced.
❝“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:38-39).
If you haven’t read up on St. John Vianney, I encourage you to amble down to the Catholic book store and grab a book on this most holy priest. Like most Saints he was a humble man who was very vocal about owing all his talents to God. He reminds us of Padre Pio because of his ability to read souls in the confessional. He had the amazing ability to mind the one confessing about long forgotten sins.
Here is a great article on the Cure’ of Ars:
And here is a great quote from the great Saint:
“When people want to destroy religion they begin by attacking the priest; for when there is no priest, there is no sacrifice: and when there is no sacrifice, there is no religion.”
— St. John Vianney
Pray for more holy priests! God knows we need them!
Happy First Friday! Below is a brief history of the Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus as well as a prayer at the end of the entry.
“Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is a devotion that focuses attention on the physical Heart is the symbol of His redemptive love. Although tradition often situates the beginning of the practice of the devotion to the year 1000, it might be more accurate to place its birth during the time of the great mystics [St. Anselm and St. Bernard] between 1050 and 1150. By the Medieval Period, because of a strong emphasis on the Passion of our Lord, and because of the efforts of St. Bonaventure and St. Gertrude the Great, the devotion became popularized as a means of worshipping the mystery of Christ, living in the Church.
This devotion was promoted by great Saints, including St. Albert the Great, St. Catherine of Siena, St. Francis de Sales, as well as the great religious orders, such as the Benedictines, the Dominicans, and the Carthusians. However, it must be recorded that the Saint who is most often associated with this devotion is St. Margaret Mary Alacoque [1647-1690]. After she received the Vision of the Sacred Heart, which popularized the devotion, she was scorned by her mother superior who thought her to be delusional. The Saint took ill. Mother superior told St. Margaret Mary that she would believe the miracle of the vision if the Saint were cured. She was and St. Margaret was able to promote the devotion under the guidance of her spiritual director, St. Claude Colombiere. Several books have been published on her extensive letters, sayings and the revelations given to her by Our Lord.
Her private revelations promoted the establishment of a liturgical feast day and the practice of offering reparation for the outrages committed against the Blessed Sacrament on the First Fridays and the Promises of the Sacred Heart.
St. Alphonsus was heavily influenced by St. Margaret Mary in his own devotion to the Sacred Heart.
In modern times it was Pope Pius IX who, in 1856, established the Feast of the Sacred Heart and encouraged the efforts of the Apostleship of Prayer, a confraternity of faithful Catholics who encourage groups, families, and communities to consecrate themselves to the Sacred Heart. In 1928 Pope Pius XI issued his encyclical Miserentissimus Redemptor on reparation to the Sacred Heart. In 1956 Pope Pius XII published his encyclical Haurietis Aquas on the nature of devotion to the Sacred Heart.
The devotion is usually practiced in preparation for the Feast of the Sacred Heart following the Second Sunday after Pentecost. It is also practiced in conjunction with the monthly First Friday observance that is traditional in many parishes.”
Traditional Prayer of Reparation From the Irish
Most Sacred Heart of Jesus,
have mercy on me.
O God, forgive me for all the sins of my life;
The sins of my youth and the sins of my age,
The sins of my body and the sins of my soul,
The sins I have confessed and the sins
I have forgotten,
The sins against others in thought,
word, and deed,
My sins of omission.
O, my God, I am sorry for all my sins,
because You are so good;
And I will not sin again with the help of God.
God be merciful to me, a sinner.
Divine Heart of Jesus, convert sinners,
save the dying,
Deliver the holy souls in purgatory.
Alex Kupper is an offensive lineman for The Houston Texans. He also happens to be a committed Catholic. He was interviewed recently and has many good things to say. The one thing that struck me is how he has ordered his life the proper way. This is what he said:
“When I started playing football in junior-high school, I had a coach, Paul Passafiume, who had a big impact on me. He’s part of SportsLeader, a group which tries to associate sports with virtue. They want athletes to see that sports are not a separate compartment in life, but that your values should shape who you are on the field as well. We were taught by Paul that God is above everything; family follows, then school, then sports and others things. That’s a great hierarchy to have in your mind from the start, because it keeps you from taking lesser things too seriously.”
I personally work with people everyday who take lesser things way too seriously. Without putting God first, one’s priorities are all out of whack. Virtue takes a backseat for most people these days. But not for this kid.
I hope he continues to use his fame to evangelize and be a solid witness for the One True Faith . . . The Solution of All Problems . . . The Barque of Peter! The more committed Catholics there are in the world the better place it will be.