Sunday, October 24, 2010

Auguri di una Buona Domenica da Cefalu

Best wishes for a blessed Lord's Day from Cefalu, Sicily.

I am working with a very slow internet connection today from the Collegio di Maria where we have rooms overlooking the Tyrhennian Sea.

I celebrated Mass this morning at the cathedral of Cefalu and prayed for the intentions of my parishioners at Saint Frances de Sales Church in Benedict, Maryland.

Yesterday we drove across the island from the south coast at Agrigento after touring the valley of the temples to this point on the northern coast west of Palermo.

Unable to upload photos at this time. Thank you for visiting APL.


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Itinerario Italiano: Il traghetto fra Napoli e Palermo

Italian itinerary: the ferry from Naples to Palermo.

Departing in the evening and arriving early the next morning on the northwestern side of Palermo. Possible sightseeing to hilltown of Erice and within Palermo the Capella Palatina and crypt of the Capuchins with embalmed and lifelike remains of the dead.

More info here.

Pope Benedict's Letter to Seminarians: "the world needs priests, pastors, today, tomorrow and always, until the end of time"


Dear Seminarians,

When in December 1944 I was drafted for military service, the company commander asked each of us what we planned to do in the future. I answered that I wanted to become a Catholic priest. The lieutenant replied: “Then you ought to look for something else. In the new Germany priests are no longer needed”. I knew that this “new Germany” was already coming to an end, and that, after the enormous devastation which that madness had brought upon the country, priests would be needed more than ever. Today the situation is completely changed. In different ways, though, many people nowadays also think that the Catholic priesthood is not a “job” for the future, but one that belongs more to the past. You, dear friends, have decided to enter the seminary and to prepare for priestly ministry in the Catholic Church in spite of such opinions and objections. You have done a good thing. Because people will always have need of God, even in an age marked by technical mastery of the world and globalization: they will always need the God who has revealed himself in Jesus Christ, the God who gathers us together in the universal Church in order to learn with him and through him life’s true meaning and in order to uphold and apply the standards of true humanity. Where people no longer perceive God, life grows empty; nothing is ever enough. People then seek escape in euphoria and violence; these are the very things that increasingly threaten young people. God is alive. He has created every one of us and he knows us all. He is so great that he has time for the little things in our lives: “Every hair of your head is numbered”. God is alive, and he needs people to serve him and bring him to others. It does makes sense to become a priest: the world needs priests, pastors, today, tomorrow and always, until the end of time.

Clicke here to read the full text of the Letter to Seminarians.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Corso a Villa Borghese, Le Figlie di San Giuseppe, Santa Maria in Trastevere

A run in the Villa Borghese, the Daughters of Saint Joseph and the church of Santa Maria in Trastevere

Early today I ran in the park of Villa Borghese and took in the panoramic view of Roma available along its western edge. The air was crisp but warmed up quickly with the sky largely clear of cloud cover to hamper the effect of the strong October sun.

The Villa is spread over the Pincian hill and you can get an idea of some of the views available from the top photo of Piazza del Popolo spread out below the park with Saint Peter's dome beyond. At other points you can look south to the Alban Hills on the left and the Vatican Observatory perched on a hilltop to your right.

I trekked to Trastevere for a visit with the Figlie, the Daughters of Saint Joseph, who make vestments among other apostolates. I enjoyed some joking and laughter with these humble women who glorify God in a unseen way by making beautiful things for the glory of God in the celebration of Mass. I was not permitted to take photos of some of the beautiful work they are doing to restore antique vestments and church furnishings but can tell you that they do some of the finest and most exacting detail work you could imagine for many different churches including the Vatican.

I made a visit to Santa Maria in Trastevere with its ancient and beautiful mosaics and devotional art (lower photo) such as the icon of Theotokos from the end of the seventh century which you can see by clicking here.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Teflon Pontiff

Papa Ratzinger has consistently turned troubles into triumphs.

Ever since he was elected in April 2005, the media have been expecting Pope Benedict XVI to be tripped up and rejected by the masses that flocked to John Paul II, his outgoing, charismatic predecessor. But it hasn't happened.

Indeed, possibly as a legacy of John Paul's outreach to the entire world, in the first few years of his papacy Benedict drew even larger crowds than Karol Woytjla did. The crowds have subsided a bit, but again and again, Pope Benedict has advanced, gliding unharmed through hoops of fire, around traps and past ambushes.

From the Convention of the Church in Italy, held at Verona in 2005, which the media had ominously suggested might burst the bubble of existing divisions within the Church, to the controversy over the speech at Regensburg, which ended up in meetings and inter-religious dialogue of the highest level, Josef Ratzinger has consistently turned troubles into triumphs.

His trips to North America, Australia, France and most recently the United Kingdom, were all preceded by months of serious challenges and even provocation. Atheist campaigners even called for his arrest upon his arrival in Britain. But every dispute, every trip, has ended with the acclaim of the people, of the authorities and - most miraculously - of the media.

Even the priestly sex scandal turned into a boomerang, when it was revealed that it had been none other than Cardinal Ratzinger who had insisted on rigorously cleaning house once the abuses had come to light, under his watch at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Ironically, the fact that it had been he who had prevailed over more lenient policies, might never have come to light had not part of the press insisted on pinning the blame on him.

One entertaining example of the uncanny reversals of booby traps was seen in March 2009 on Channel Three of RAI, the Italian state-run television. In her regular Sunday afternoon show "In Half An Hour" (a bit like BBC World's Hardtalk), anchorwoman Lucia Annunziata, formerly President of RAI itself, interviewed US Jesuit Fr Thomas J. Reese. She introduced him as a priest who had resigned as Editor-in-chief of America Magazine when Cardinal Ratzinger was elected pope.

Annunziata, who had recently interviewed rebel theologian Hans Kung, introduced her guest as "hugely important”, “high calibre” and “immensely prestigious". She clearly expected Fr Reese to tip the bucket on the Pope.

But her plan backfired. Not only did Fr Reese not attack the Pope, but he matter-of-factly validated every one of his doctrinal positions. His criticisms were limited to reflecting that the Holy Father should surround himself with people who are more expert with the media.

Flustered, Annunziata broached one issue after another in an increasingly pleading tone: "Surely on this matter you must differ with the Pope?” and “You must be willing to at least admit that not everyone approves of the Pope these days?" Reese smilingly parried every lunge.

Finally she played her trump card: "What about the little girl in Brazil who was raped by her stepfather? Do you support even the decision to excommunicate the family who took her to an abortion clinic?"

But Reese laughed pleasantly and pointed out: "I'm not an enemy of the Pope. I think he's right on all of the issues you mentioned." And then the mortal blow: "I like the Pope!"

Thus a potentially disastrous interview turned into unexpected publicity for the Pope, thanks to the ability of an honest priest, when the time came, to set aside past differences and stand shoulder to shoulder with him -- on prime time TV. The attacks won't stop, of course. But in the five and a half years of Benedict's Papacy, they have all led to an increase in the prestige of the Catholic Church.

In a final irony, the man derided as "God's rottweiler", a stern and distant intellectual, connects with the people, drawing crowds from every age, background, and walk of life. Take the traditional summer appearances in Castel Gandolfo. Quite often Pope Benedict returns to Rome for the Wednesday audiences, because the square could not hold all of the people who sought to be there.

Far from marking its demise, under Josef Ratzinger’s watch the Catholic Church has been recovering its reputation and, along with it, the ability to spread its message. Whoever would have thought that this quintessential intellectual, 83 going on 84, would rewrite the public relations textbooks?

Alessandra Nucci is an Italian writer and freelance journalist. In 2007 she won the Golden Florin in the essay sector of the Premio Firenze [Florence Award] for her book on gender feminism as an instrument of class warfare, La donna a una dimensione [One-Dimensional Woman], published by Marietti 1820.

Source: MercatorNet

Photo: Pope Benedict XVI waves to the crowd during his weekly general audience in St Peter's Square at the Vatican in Rome. / AP

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Dangerous Loss of Objectivity and the Destructive Results of TMI*

When you find out you have a medical problem and you seek a cure do your research criteria include finding a doctor riddled with the same disease which you are suffering? If you have AIDS, does the doctor you seek out for a cure lose credibility in your eyes if he or she cannot prove they also suffer the same malady? Of course not.

When a person wants to find a good doctor their last concern, if it is even considered at all, is that the doctor needs to have the same disease as the patient in order to prove they are capable of curing it. This might prove a capacity for sympathy or fellow-feeling, but that is all it might promise to guarantee. The typical medical bill is a high price to pay for a mere shoulder to cry on.

This mode of reasoning which considers emotions of least importance is called objectivity: the good doctor for me is the one with the knowledge, experience and skills to cure my illness. But this experience does not come best or only through having the disease itself. The kind of medical experience that is of benefit to a patient is the objective viewpoint and expertise built up through seeing the disease firsthand in others in various modes of development or occurrence, the observation of various cures and their results, the long process of trial and error made possible by professional and vocational commitment and longevity. This is readily seen and instantly understood by the patient who has confronted the evidence of his or her illness.

Such objectivity seems to be lacking in other areas. Does a priest have to publish emotional rantings about a love affair to prove he understands the lovelorn? Does a married person have to go into tear-soaked confession of past indiscretions in a public forum in order to aid the fidelity of engaged couples? Wallowing in such emotional displays and self-aggrandizement might demonstrate such persons to be confused and leave them vulnerable to making asinine errors in judgment which endanger their vocations and the faith of those who seek them as an example, but that is all. And in the end such self-revelations boil down only to so much selfishness.

Unfortunately many Catholics, who make loud and prolonged protestations of support for the priesthood, hold to this and other errors which undermine the very priesthood and the vocations which they so vociferously seek to convince themselves and others that they so value.

Please do for priests, the Church and yourself the service of seeking them out, not so that they might prove that they are capable of sympathizing with your particular situation because they are able with great detail recount their own foibles, errors and sins and thus prove their capacity for fellow-feeling. Rather seek them out in order to seek out Christ who alone is capable of never confusing sympathy with self-seeking, but who loves only as God, completely for the other. Redeeming love and mercy in Christ for the believer in need of salvation is the purpose of the priesthood.

The disease of gossip and the gluttony for information about the private lives of others which feeds emotional fantasy is dangerous. Lives, families and vocations founder on the rocks of the anti-culture of TMI*. Think before you post on Facebook. Think and PRAY.

And frequent confession wouldn't hurt either: objective, factual confession. Not more emotional spluttering and babbling. Leave that to Facebook.

*Too Much Information

Good News on Stem Cells

Baltimore Families Given Chance to Save Lives through Cord Blood Donations

Are stem cells saving lives? Yes. Adult Stem Cells.

For proof, look at little Mason Shaffer, one of thousands saved by adult stem cells thanks to umbilical cord blood.

Baltimore Archbishop Edwin O'Brien, with officials from Mercy Medical Center and Community Blood Services of New Jersey, launched the first public cord blood program in Maryland on October 11. The free program enables new mothers at Mercy to donate their child's umbilical cord to a public blood bank. Until now, their only options were to throw the cord away or pay for private banking.

"Allowing parents to make the harmless and life-saving donation of their baby's umbilical cord fits beautifully with Catholic hospitals' mission of providing life-affirming health care," said Archbishop O'Brien.

For more information, read the press release and articles in the Catholic Review and Baltimore Sun. Or view video from Ch. 13 WJZ and Ch. 11 WBAL.

Photo courtesy Owen Sweeney III/The Catholic Review

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Holy Father has heard the cries of persecuted Christians in the Middle East

NASHVILLE, TN (Catholic Online) - The Holy Father has heard the cries of persecuted Christians in the Middle East. After papal visits to Turkey, the Holy Land, and Cyprus last year briefly turned the Church's attention to the extreme struggles of Christian communities there, Pope Benedict summoned bishops to the Vatican for a somewhat unexpected synod October 10-24 to focus more measured, international attention on the urgent plight of Christians in the Middle East, particularly Iraq.


Thursday, October 14, 2010

Boston Fare

Local libations and frutti di mare help pass the time between flights.

A special shout out to all oyster lovers.

Next stop Roma se Dio vuole.

Arrivederci a presto and thanks for visiting APL today.


Preghiamo/Oremus/Let us pray

Holy Mass today offered for Lisa Ann O'Neill on the second anniversary of her death.  RIP.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Mine Rescue in Chile: "O LORD, you preserved me from among those going down into the pit."

I will extol you, O LORD, for you drew me clear
and did not let my enemies rejoice over me.
O LORD, you brought me up from the nether world;
you preserved me from among those going down into the pit.
Sing praise to the LORD, you his faithful ones,
and give thanks to his holy name.
For his anger lasts but a moment;
a lifetime, his good will.
At nightfall, weeping enters in,
but with the dawn, rejoicing.
“Hear, O LORD, and have pity on me;
O LORD, be my helper.”
You changed my mourning into dancing;
O LORD, my God, forever will I give you thanks.
-- Ps 30

Photo: First Rescued Miner. In this screen grab taken from video, Florencio Avalos, the first miner to be rescued, center, is greeted after his rescue Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2010 at San Jose Mine near Copiapo, Chile. (AP Photo)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Monday, October 11, 2010

Sr. Carol Keehan and the Obamacare "Protection Racket"

When will someone rap this woman's knuckles and inform her that her behavior is incompatible with that of a Catholic woman religious?

She goes to the mat against the people who run the health care system she purports to represent and for the man who is responsible for the first rumblings of the collapse of the Catholic health care system for which she poses as advocate?


Breaking News
The President's Nun: Obamacare Scranton Scandal Explodes

By Jeffrey Lord on 10.11.10 @ 6:09AM

Can you say "October Surprise"?

A mushrooming political battle over ObamaCare involving the White House, two incumbent Pennsylvania congressmen, three Catholic hospitals and a nun has just exploded in, of all places, Scranton, Pennsylvania. Charges from the Scranton medical community of intimidation by the Obama White House and its allies are filling the air.

All of this just as Vice President Joe Biden arrives in Scranton today to raise money for one of the participants.

There are two issues at the core of the controversy.

1. ObamaCare and the sale of three Scranton-area Catholic hospitals.

2. The re-election prospects of the two House members, Democrats Paul Kanjorski and Chris Carney, both of whom cast key votes to pass ObamaCare.

Here's the list of players -- major and minor -- so far.
• The President of the United States.
• The Vice President of the United States.
• Three Scranton-area Catholic hospitals suddenly for sale.
• The CEO of the three Scranton-area Catholic hospitals for sale.
• ObamaCare, otherwise known as "health care reform" or the "Affordable Care Act."
• A Catholic nun.
• Michigan Congressman Bart Stupak.
• A pen.
• Victoria Reggie Kennedy, widow of the late Senator Ted Kennedy.
• Time magazine.
• The Scranton Times
• The two Scranton-area House members Kanjorski and Carney, both losing in the polls.
• U.S. Senator Bob Casey, Jr., a native and resident of Scranton.
• Congressman Joe Sestak, the Democrats' nominee for the Pennsylvania U.S. Senate seat.

Where to start? That would be….

Click here for the rest of the story at The American Spectator.

History repeats itself

Are the same peculiar religious currents at work today as in 1706 when Grace Sherwood was accused of witchcraft, picture here in a Virginia monument?  In the current attempt to stir up hysteria by accusing Christine O'Donnell of being a "witch", whatever that is supposed to mean, are we seeing history repeat itself?

For Christine O'Donnell

It's happened before.  Hopefully you won't end up with a bronze monument like Grace Sherwood, jailed after being accused of witchcraft in 1706.


The widespread phenomenon of reacting with words of attack and accusations of illegal discrimination or hatred when a Catholic or other Christian simply states their beliefs in a public forum.

About Overcoming Sexual Addiction

Pornography is the worst kind of perversion because Satan takes God’s most beautiful creations and twists them. Satan cannot create anything–he can only distort those good things which God has already made.

Most men know that pornography and lust are evil. Even if they have convinced themselves that these evils are okay to do, deep in their hearts they know it is shameful and wrong. Nonetheless, the addiction to pornography can be incredibly strong and hard to break. I don’t pretend to have the magical recipe for breaking the addiction, but I have some ideas about it from my own struggle against pornography addiction.

Some ideas to put into practice

  • First, don’t ever give up in your fight to be pure.
    • The key to overcoming this addiction is perseverance.
    • God will help you to persevere and help you all the more when you persevere.
  • “God won’t forgive me–I’ve fallen to this sin countless times and don’t think I can stop.”
    • This lie is Satan’s favorite. God will certainly forgive you if you repent and ask him to. Don’t believe the lies. His mercy is greater than this lustful sin, period.
  • “It’s not that bad. Other men do far worse things than this.”
    • Wrong. It IS that bad. You are degrading God’s beautiful daughters and the gift of sexuality he gave you. And when you face God in your judgment, he won’t ask you if you did less worse things than your next door neighbor. He will only ask what you have done, and you will have to answer for it.
  • The same Satan who delights in torture, kidnapping, brutality, abortion, and abuse, delights in men lusting after women in pornography.
  • “I can handle watching TV when I want, and even if I see some women in immodest dress or in sexual situations, it doesn’t really affect me.”
    • Oh really? If you’re like me, this just ain’t true.
    • These images stick like glue in your mind and accrue, and inevitably those images will return to your mind and the seeds of temptation will be planted. You are not as strong as you think you are. The slightest temptation would overcome you if God did not help you, but he also requires we do our utmost to avoid these temptations. Turn off the TV except for movies you know are clean or special programs you want to watch, and only with someone you trust close by.
  • Pray everyday.
    • Are you tempted in the morning while lying in bed? Get up! Immediately when you wake up, ask the Virgin Mary to pray to God for you for the grace to protect and respect all of His daughters.
    • Renew your resolutions to be pure throughout the day, and ask for the Holy Spirit to give strength to your resolutions.
    • Thank God for giving you the grace to be pure at night.
  • Make good friends who share in your beliefs and struggle against this manifestation of evil and spend time with them and your family.
  • When the first tempting thoughts come into your mind, pray immediately for God to protect you and set your mind on another matter.
    • If they persist, pray even more and keep trying to steer your mind to other things.
    • Avoid idleness!
  • If you feel a strong temptation, pray even more for help and grace, confess your weakness and nothingness to God, and your desire to be pure.
    • If you are alone, go somewhere and meet up with friends or family, or go do something where you interact with people.
    • Quickly go over in your mind why pornography and lust are evil, and why you do not want them.
  • Make yourself accountable with a brother in Christ who also is striving to be pure.
    • Pray with him, pray for him, everyday, and keep each other accountable for your actions.
    • Within good judgment, tell him of your struggles and victories, and if you fall to temptation, let him know and ask for even more prayers.
  • All of this is in addition to praying, receiving the Sacraments (if Catholic) and striving after God in your daily life.

Finally, pray for hope in overcoming this addiction. God CAN do it. He can do anything and regularly works miracles in peoples’ lives who call upon him for help. He has worked wonders in my life to overcome this addiction, and if he can do it in me, he can do it in you. Satan wants you to despair, for when you despair, his work is made much easier, but our Lord never wants us to despair.

When I say I have “overcome this addiction”, that doesn’t mean that I am not tempted still. I am tempted almost everyday, and every minute and every hour of every day, I am vigilant over my heart and mind and eyes to protect my soul from impurity. I am always on guard against it and ready to fight it. As Jesus said, if the man knew at what time of night the thief would come to rob him, he would stay awake and be ready for him. We must do the same in this matter!.

I encourage you to learn more about the Theology of the Body. Learn about how beautifully God created sex and marriage, and how good it is to enjoy it as God intended it. God’s Truth is the antidote for Satan’s lies. We hear the lies 24/7 on the TV, the newspapers, and in the confused thoughts of people who have been duped by the world’s perversion of God’s greatest gifts.

Finally, if you’re a single man, pray for your future wife everyday! Imagine the joy of getting to give yourself to her in purity, as a real man. Imagine the joy she will feel in being joined to a husband who has fought so hard to be pure–not perfect, but striving to be perfect. Imagine the goodness of being a man of purity for your children, teaching your daughters what to look for in a man, and being a model of true manhood for your sons.

Imagine looking deep into your holy and beautiful wife’s eyes and telling her with passion, “My love, I’ve been so pure, for you.”

St. Joseph, pray for us! And may our Lord bless you with His grace to be pure.

Source: Thanks to Devin Rose.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Tickets for "Salome" performance 20 October on auction to benefit SFDS Church Sanctuary Fund

On auction are two tickets, value $110.00, to a performance of the Strauss opera "Salome" at the Kennedy Center Opera House in Washington, DC, on Wednesday, October 20, 2010 at 7:30 pm.

Auction ends 13 October at 12:00 noon when tickets will be mailed to the highest bidder.

Funds go to support the Saint Francis de Sales Catholic Church "Sanctuary Fund".

Please bid by email to The highest bid emailed by 12 noon on 13 October wins. Thanks for your prayers and support.

For more information on the performance, visit this link.


Friday, October 8, 2010

Thank You Archbishop Nienstedt!

Minnesota's Archbishop John Nienstedt needs your prayers and support.

Just a few days ago, homosexual activists wearing rainbow sashes and buttons attempted to receive Holy Communion from him during Mass. The activists even bragged: "We were making a statement during the Eucharist."

His Excellency stood firm, blessed them, but charitably denied them the Eucharist.

Sign our petition in support of Archbishop Nienstedt here!

Anti-marriage activists in Minnesota are furious at the Archbishop for backing a statewide mailing of DVD's to every Catholic in Minnesota urging them to support a constitutional amendment to protect marriage. The media is hounding the Church, calling the effort 'too political' and demanding to know who paid for the mailing (a private donor paid for the DVD's).

As Americans, we acknowledge that citizens are free to disagree with the Church. But a Catholic bishop has every right to speak to the Catholics in his diocese – even during election season!

And those that disagree with the Church have no right to scandalize the faithful by turning the "source and summit" of our life as Catholics into a political spectacle.

Our Bishops get criticized a lot -- sometimes legitimately, sometimes unfairly. For this reason, we believe it is all the more important that the laity encourage and applaud the courage of Bishops when they boldly stand up for the teachings of our Church, and in this case – to protect the Holy Eucharist.

We have a simple message for Archbishop Nienstedt --- THANK YOU! We stand with you. We are praying for you. May Our Lord grant you the graces necessary to resist the attacks, and the courage to stand firm in defense of His Church and the Holy Eucharist.

Add your name to our letter to Archbishop Nienstedt here --


Brian Burch

Follow us on: Facebook Twitter, P.O. Box 2709, Chicago, IL 60690 - Tel: 312-201-6559
Support CatholicVote by clicking here.

Sunday Rest and Mass: taken for granted?

It is common to see many in Christian societies failing to observe the sacred rest commanded by God on Sundays as well as the profanation of the Lord's Day on the part of the many who shun Sunday Mass, sometimes in favor of work that could be put off to other days of the week.

Here is a reminder that might help us to better appreciate and observe the Christian covenant rest and worship on Sundays and the privilege of living in a free country where we can exercise our right to worship for the most part without fear.

Catholic migrant in Saudi Arabia: Three years without a day of rest and mass

by Santosh Digal

In the Islamic country there is no freedom of religion. In order to keep her faith alive the woman took refuge in her room to pray. Filipino bishops call on the faithful to pray and reflect on the plight of workers abroad.

Manila (AsiaNews) - "During my three years working in Saudi Arabia I was never allowed to leave the house or have a day off to go to mass”. This is the story of Rebeka Perlas, a 35 year old from the Philippines, who until last week was employed as a maid in a Muslim family in Riyadh to maintain her two sons. "The only thing I could do – she adds – was get up every morning at 3 and recite the rosary on my knees in my room, before beginning my days work."

Toward inclusion of families affected by divorce

Toward Christians who live in this situation, and who often keep the faith and desire to bring up their children in a Christian manner, priests and the whole community must manifest an attentive solicitude, so that they do not consider themselves separated from the Church, in whose life they can and must participate as baptized persons:

They should be encouraged to listen to the Word of God, to attend the Sacrifice of the Mass, to persevere in prayer, to contribute to works of charity and to community efforts for justice, to bring up their children in the Christian faith, to cultivate the spirit and practice of penance and thus implore, day by day, God's grace.
-- CCC 1651

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Love is all we have ...

Love is all we need: the love that defends, respects, even offers self unto death, giving all for the other.  This is the Love that saves, Love Incarnate, God Himself in Jesus Christ.

Praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever! Amen.


Monday, October 4, 2010

St. Francis of Assisi

Francis of Assisi was a poor little man who astounded and inspired the Church by taking the gospel literally—not in a narrow fundamentalist sense, but by actually following all that Jesus said and did, joyfully, without limit and without a mite of self-importance.

Serious illness brought the young Francis to see the emptiness of his frolicking life as leader of Assisi's youth. Prayer—lengthy and difficult—led him to a self-emptying like that of Christ, climaxed by embracing a leper he met on the road. It symbolized his complete obedience to what he had heard in prayer: "Francis! Everything you have loved and desired in the flesh it is your duty to despise and hate, if you wish to know my will. And when you have begun this, all that now seems sweet and lovely to you will become intolerable and bitter, but all that you used to avoid will turn itself to great sweetness and exceeding joy."

From the cross in the neglected field-chapel of San Damiano, Christ told him, "Francis, go out and build up my house, for it is nearly falling down." Francis became the totally poor and humble workman.

He must have suspected a deeper meaning to "build up my house." But he would have been content to be for the rest of his life the poor "nothing" man actually putting brick on brick in abandoned chapels. He gave up every material thing he had, piling even his clothes before his earthly father (who was demanding restitution for Francis' "gifts" to the poor) so that he would be totally free to say, "Our Father in heaven." He was, for a time, considered to be a religious "nut," begging from door to door when he could not get money for his work, bringing sadness or disgust to the hearts of his former friends, ridicule from the unthinking.

But genuineness will tell. A few people began to realize that this man was actually trying to be Christian. He really believed what Jesus said: "Announce the kingdom! Possess no gold or silver or copper in your purses, no traveling bag, no sandals, no staff" (see Luke 9:1-3).

Francis' first rule for his followers was a collection of texts from the Gospels. He had no idea of founding an order, but once it began he protected it and accepted all the legal structures needed to support it. His devotion and loyalty to the Church were absolute and highly exemplary at a time when various movements of reform tended to break the Church's unity.

He was torn between a life devoted entirely to prayer and a life of active preaching of the Good News. He decided in favor of the latter, but always returned to solitude when he could. He wanted to be a missionary in Syria or in Africa, but was prevented by shipwreck and illness in both cases. He did try to convert the sultan of Egypt during the Fifth Crusade.

During the last years of his relatively short life (he died at 44) he was half blind and seriously ill. Two years before his death, he received the stigmata, the real and painful wounds of Christ in his hands, feet and side.

On his deathbed, he said over and over again the last addition to his Canticle of the Sun, "Be praised, O Lord, for our Sister Death." He sang Psalm 141, and at the end asked his superior to have his clothes removed when the last hour came and for permission to expire lying naked on the earth, in imitation of his Lord.


Francis of Assisi was poor only that he might be Christ-like. He loved nature because it was another manifestation of the beauty of God. He did great penance (apologizing to "Brother Body" later in life) that he might be totally disciplined for the will of God. His poverty had a sister, humility, by which he meant total dependence on the good God. But all this was, as it were, preliminary to the heart of his spirituality: living the gospel life, summed up in the charity of Jesus and perfectly expressed in the Eucharist.


"We adore you and we bless you, Lord Jesus Christ, here and in all the churches which are in the whole world, because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world" (St. Francis).

-- Source:

Art: Tempera on wood, Cosentini, 2002. MCITL collection.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Sunday, 27C. "Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving": the obligations of servanthood are the door to the love of God's friendship

"... do not be ashamed of your testimony to our Lord"
-- 2 Tm 1:6-8, 13-14

"Participation in the communal celebration of the Sunday Eucharist is a testimony of belonging and of being faithful to Christ and to his Church. The faithful give witness by this to their communion in faith and charity. Together they testify to God's holiness and their hope of salvation. They strengthen one another under the guidance of the Holy Spirit."
-- CCC 2182

" 'Sunday . . . is to be observed as the foremost holy day of obligation in the universal Church' (CIC, can. 1246 § 1). 'On Sundays and other holy days of obligation the faithful are bound to participate in the Mass' (CIC, can. 1247)."
-- CCC 2192

"The first precept ('You shall attend Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation and rest from servile labor') requires the faithful to sanctify the day commemorating the Resurrection of the Lord as well as the principal liturgical feasts honoring the Mysteries of the Lord, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the saints; in the first place, by participating in the Eucharistic celebration, in which the Christian community is gathered, and by resting from those works and activities which could impede such a sanctification of these days.

"The second precept ('You shall confess your sins at least once a year') ensures preparation for the Eucharist by the reception of the sacrament of reconciliation, which continues Baptism's work of conversion and forgiveness.

"The third precept ('You shall receive the sacrament of the Eucharist at least during the Easter season') guarantees as a minimum the reception of the Lord's Body and Blood in connection with the Paschal feasts, the origin and center of the Christian liturgy."

-- CCC 2042

" 'We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do.' "
-- Lk 17:5-10

"The affirmations of Sacred Scripture and the teachings of the Church on the subject of hell are a call to the responsibility incumbent upon man to make use of his freedom in view of his eternal destiny. They are at the same time an urgent call to conversion: 'Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few.'

"Since we know neither the day nor the hour, we should follow the advice of the Lord and watch constantly so that, when the single course of our earthly life is completed, we may merit to enter with him into the marriage feast and be numbered among the blessed, and not, like the wicked and slothful servants, be ordered to depart into the eternal fire, into the outer darkness where 'men will weep and gnash their teeth.' "
-- CCC 1036

"Faith in God's love encompasses the call and the obligation to respond with sincere love to divine charity. The first commandment enjoins us to love God above everything and all creatures for him and because of him."
-- CCC 2093

Thank you for visiting.


Kamsahamnida, Dziekuje, Terima kasih, Doh je, Grazie, Tesekur, Gracias, Dank u, Shukran

free counters