Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Saint Augustine on Saint Monica's Alcoholism

Chapter 8. Of the Conversion of Evodius, and the Death of His Mother When Returning with Him to Africa; And Whose Education He Tenderly Relates.

17. You, who makest men to dwell of one mind in a house, associated with us Evodius also, a young man of our city, who, when serving as an agent for Public Affairs, was converted unto You andbaptized prior to us; and relinquishing his secularservice, prepared himself for Yours. We were together, and together were we about to dwell with a holy purpose. We sought for some place where we might be most useful in our service to You, and were going back together to Africa. And when we were at the Tiberine Ostia my mother died. Much I omit, having much to hasten. Receive my confessions and thanksgivings, O myGod, for innumerable things concerning which I am silent. But I will not omit anything that mysoul has brought forth as to that Your handmaid who brought me forth—in her flesh, that I might be born to this temporal light, and in her heart, that I might be born to life eternal. I will speak not of her gifts, but Yours in her; for she neither made herself nor educated herself. You createdher, nor did her father nor her mother know what a being was to proceed from them. And it was the rod of Your Christ, the discipline of Your only Son, that trained her in Your fear, in the house of one of Your faithful ones, who was a sound member of Your Church. Yet this good discipline did she not so much attribute to the diligence of her mother, as that of a certain decrepid maid-servant, who had carried about her father when an infant, as little ones are wont to be carried on the backs of elder girls. For which reason, and on account of her extreme age and very good character, was she much respected by the heads of that Christianhouse. Whence also was committed to her the care of her master's daughters, which she with diligence performed, and was earnest in restraining them when necessary, with a holyseverity, and instructing them with a sober sagacity. For, excepting at the hours in which they were very temperately fed at their parents' table, she used not to permit them, though parched with thirst, to drink even water; thereby taking precautions against an evil custom, and adding the wholesome advice, You drink water only because you have not control of wine; but when you have come to be married, and made mistresses of storeroom and cellar, you willdespise water, but the habit of drinking willremain. By this method of instruction, and power of command, she restrained the longing of their tender age, and regulated the very thirst of the girls to such a becoming limit, as that what was not seemly they did not long for.
18. And yet— as Your handmaid related to me, her son— there had stolen upon her a love ofwine. For when she, as being a sober maiden, was as usual bidden by her parents to draw wine from the cask, the vessel being held under the opening, before she poured the wine into the bottle, she would wet the tips of her lips with a little, for more than that her inclination refused. For this she did not from any craving for drink, but out of the overflowing buoyancy of her time of life, which bubbles up with sportiveness, and is, in youthfulspirits, wont to be repressed by the gravity of elders. And so unto that little, adding daily littles (for he that despises small things shall fall little by little), she contracted such a habit as, to drink off eagerly her little cup nearly full of wine. Where, then, was the sagacious old woman with her earnest restraint? Could anything prevail against a secret disease if Your medicine, O Lord, did not watch over us? Father, mother, andnurturers absent, Thou present, who hast created, who callest, who also by those who are set over us work some good for the salvation of our souls, what did Thou do at that time, O my God? How did You heal her? How did You make her whole? Did You not out of another woman's soul evoke a hard and bitter insult, as a surgeon's knife from Your secret store, and with one thrust remove all that putrefaction? For the maidservant who used to accompany her to the cellar, falling out, as it happens, with her little mistress, when she was alone with her, cast in her teeth this vice, with very bitter insult, calling her a wine-bibber.Stung by this taunt, she perceived her foulness, and immediately condemned and renounced it. Even as friends by their flattery pervert, so do enemies by their taunts often correct us. Yet You render not unto them what You do by them, but what was proposed by them. For she, beingangry, desired to irritate her young mistress, not to cure her; and did it in secret, either because the time and place of the dispute found them thus, or perhaps lest she herself should be exposed to danger for disclosing it so late. But You, Lord, Governor of heavenly and earthly things, who convertest to Your purposes thedeepest torrents, and disposest the turbulent current of the ages, healest one soul by the unsoundness of another; lest any man, when he remarks this, should attribute it unto his own power if another, whom he wishes to be reformed, is so through a word of his.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

The natural and supernatural "Keys to the Kingdom"

Today in the Gospel we hear again the beautiful and consoling words by which the Lord consigns a gift to Peter and his successors for the benefit of us all: the "Keys of the Kingdom". We learn that these "keys" open the doors of heaven to us because of the grace of the sacramental life made possible through Christ in the Church.

In the Church we are able to have our sins forgiven, "unbound", through the ministry of Peter and of all men who share the priesthood with him. Thus, the priesthood which Christ confers through apostolic succession is a source of supernatural life.

Supernatural life, the grace of eternal life or salvation, is important we all agree. But it would not do us any good without a prior gift: natural life. So, there is another gift that must be conferred first, that made possible through our parents: they are "key" to the process by which children gain access to the Kingdom in Christ.

We have seen in recent days the unbreakable faith of Catholics and other Christians in Iraq and other places in the Middle East. Parents have led their children into exile away from the safety and security of their homes and everything familiar in order to lead them to the Lord. These parents are also a kind of "keys to the kingdom" who enable their children to receive the gifts of the Lord.

Father Aphorism on Twitter
Parents give life: because closest to God for children on earth, powerful leading them to God in heaven as family worships Sundays together.
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Parents give life: because they do they are the closest to God for children on earth, and thus have a powerful role leading them to God because of the indispensable witness they provide as they lead their children to heaven most importantly by worshiping together with them on the Lord's Day.

All of our families faced challenges to the faith which must be overcome by the leadership of our parents if our children are to know and love the Lord by practicing their faith throughout life. Parents are the keys to the kingdom when they:

- lead their children to Sunday Mass despite distractions, opportunities to work, and childish disobedience
- ensure their children receive adequate education through Faith Formation
- get to Confession at a minimum in case of mortal sin
- prayer in the home which is grounded in and leads to Eucharistic devotion and reception on Sundays, holy days and at other times.

The life story of James Foley, the journalist who was brutally killed by evil men in Iraq this week, is an example of the ways in which parents are "key" for their children to the life of the Kingdom.

James learned, and was inspired to pray the rosary during a period of earlier captivity, because of the example of parents and grandparents. The natural relationship with these witnesses of faith were the keys of the kingdom for James in a most difficult period when he did not have access to the ordinary means of grace, through Peter and apostolic succession as all of us are able to here today, in the holy Mass, Confession and the other sacraments. He describes the experience of following the example of his family by praying:

“If nothing else, prayer was the glue that enabled my freedom, an inner freedom first and later the miracle of being released during a war in which the regime had no real incentive to free us. It didn’t make sense, but faith did.”

Let us pray for and support all of our parents, the natural "keys to the kingdom" for all of our children and families.

Praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Sharing violent images and videos on social media: a "social sin"?

What is our responsibility in the use of social media? As moral agents and Christians are we called to moral discernment as to whether we choose to view, use and share videos and images that portray violence? Should we take into account our cooperation in the immoral manipulation and violation of human beings and the dignity of others on social media?

"Thus sin makes men accomplices of one another and causes concupiscence, violence, and injustice to reign among them. Sins give rise to social situations and institutions that are contrary to the divine goodness. "Structures of sin" are the expression and effect of personal sins. They lead their victims to do evil in their turn. In an analogous sense, they constitute a 'social sin.' "CCC 1869

We are meant by God to see and do good. Perhaps our choice to view violence and share it could be added to examination of conscience and confessed when necessary.

The power of social media confers responsibility as well as privilege.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Statement of Cardinal Wuerl on Persecution of Christians, Religious Minorities in Iraq

Dear Friends,
Every day we learn more about the atrocities perpetrated against Christians, Yezidis and others in Iraq and other parts of the Middle East.  It is almost incomprehensible that today, in organized military action, Muslim extremists are torturing and killing innocent unarmed women and children, attempting forced conversions to Islam and inflicting every type of inhumanity on fellow human beings, including crucifixion.
In light of this growing crisis, Pope Francis and agencies of the Holy See, together with other religious leaders, have been increasingly insistent in their calls for peace and for humanitarian response to the new waves of refugees fleeing terror and death.  Yesterday, our Holy Father wrote to Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, saying that the situation “cannot but awaken the consciences of all men and women of goodwill to concrete acts of solidarity by protecting those affected or threatened by violence and assuring the necessary and urgent assistance for the many displaced people as well as their safe return to their cities and their homes.”
Earlier this week, the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue said that followers of all religions and all men and women of goodwill could only “unambiguously denounce and condemn these practices which bring shame on humanity.” As reported by the world media, the long list of atrocities includes: the despicable practice of beheading and hanging bodies in public places; the choice imposed on Christians and Yezidis of conversion to Islam, the payment of a “jizya” tax, forced exile or death; the forced expulsion of tens of thousands of people, including children, elderly, pregnant women and the sick; the abduction of girls and women belonging to the Yezidi and Christian communities as spoils of war; and the list goes on.   No cause, and certainly no religion, can justify such barbarity. 
Pope Francis has spoken out often to demonstrate his closeness to the Iraqi population, especially those who have been severely affected by the continuing conflict and are in dire need of help and encouragement.  Recently he also met with Cardinal Fernando Filoni, his personal envoy to Iraq, and gave him a significant sum of money to be used for urgent assistance to the people who have been most severely affected.  This is a concrete sign of the Pope’s concern in responding to this dramatic situation. 
Members of the Christian community, including the Catholic Church and the World Council of Churches, are taking a strong stand in defense of the Iraqi Christians and their right to survive and to live in peace in their own homes, where for the last 2,000 years they have been active and contributing to the development of the region. In the face of this systematic, organized and well-funded push by extremists to drive Christians and others from their homes, none of us can remain idle bystanders, whatever one’s religious beliefs.
People of faith turn to God in prayer on behalf of all of those who are suffering so much in this present crisis.  The Archdiocese of Washington will hold a special Mass for peace tomorrow, August 15, at the Cathedral of Saint Matthew the Apostle, and host aninterfaith service later that day at the Saint John Paul II National Shrine.  At the request of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, local Catholics will join in a national day of prayer for peace in Iraq this Sunday.
In addition to prayer, we can support the work of groups like Catholic Relief Servicesand the Knights of Columbus to provide humanitarian relief to displaced Iraqi families, including emergency food, water and bedding, and planning in the longer term for resettlement needs.
We all need to raise our voices in an expression of human solidarity, calling on allpeople of goodwill to recognize this overwhelming human tragedy, to speak out against it.  We urge the international community to stir itself to find ways to protect the innocent.  And we implore the changing of hearts so that in that troubled part of the world toleration and religious freedom become accepted characteristics of whatever political order is established.
Peace can only come when there is mutual toleration among and between differing religious and political groups, and when there is the recognition of religious freedom, religious liberty.  The branding of people, their religious heritage and ethnic backgrounds as “enemies” only fosters the intolerance that leads to hatred and that breeds violence.
Christians realize that true peace can only come out of hearts possessed of God’s grace and love, even while, as disciples of Christ, we also clearly recognize the right and sometimes the obligation to defend ourselves and others from unjust aggression, especially the weak and innocent.  In working for genuine peace, our hearts must be touched with compassion and courage.  We mustnever allow violence, extremism, intolerance and hatred to infect us and our response to it.
Our prayers, material assistance and united voices are a sign of our communion with all those in Iraq who suffer so cruelly at the hands of these extremists.  Today let us join together in making another impassioned appeal that the whole world raise up with one voice a cry for peace, religious liberty, toleration and security in Iraq and throughout the region.  Those who are being assailed are no strangers, they are our brothers and sisters, children of God, and they need our help.     
With every good wish, I am                                
                                                                               Faithfully in Christ,

                                                                               Donald Cardinal Wuerl
                                                                               Archbishop of Washington


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Prayer for Peace by His Beatitude, Patriarch of Baghdad, Louis Sako

The plight of our country
is deep and the suffering of Christians
is severe and frightening.
Therefore, we ask you Lord
to spare our lives, and to grant us patience,
and courage to continue our witness of Christian values
with trust and hope.
Lord, peace is the foundation of life;
Grant us the peace and stability that will enable us
to live with each other without fear and anxiety,
and with dignity and joy.
Glory be to you forever.

    Monday, August 11, 2014

    How Dating a Non-Catholic Can End In Making Catholics Practical Protestants

    No practicing Catholic I know would ever say that Jesus Christ is not the most important Person in their lives. With that being the case, though, many fail the test of making their actions match their words. God is truly present in the Eucharist, but many Catholics end up living without the Eucharist.

    Dating a non-Catholic often begins very serenely, often with the non-Catholic attending Mass. Couples in love very seldom choose to discuss issues that threaten to divide them. But when the engaged couple start making choices as to ceremony and venue they may be putting down roots of division without realizing it.

    Outdoor weddings are popular, but the Church will not grant a dispensation in order to recognize the ceremony. This makes a second Catholic convalidation ceremony necessary: a further complication and possible source of marital friction. Also, if the non-Catholic party will not agree to raise the children Catholic the dispensation necessary for a convalidation cannot be granted.

    The result of all this is that the Catholic ends up a practical Protestant: attending Mass but unable to receive Communion. In such a case, choices for unnecessary things, such as an outdoor ceremony, have led to the loss of the one thing necessary: the Lord Jesus Christ truly present in the Eucharist.

    Wednesday, August 6, 2014

    Missa Cantata for Solemnity of Assumption on 15 August in Benedict, Maryland

    Mass for the Solemnity of the Assumption
    Missa Cantata

    15 August 2014
    8 pm
    at the church of Saint Francis de Sales

    Benedict, Maryland






    Tuesday, August 5, 2014

    Christian Genocide in Iraq: An urgent message of Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako

    An urgent message of Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako Chaldean Catholic Patriarch of Baghdad Mosul Christians:

    Whither? To all who have a living conscience in Iraq and all the world

    To the voice of moderate brother Muslims who have a voice in Iraq and all the world

    To all who have a concern that Iraq could remain a country for all His Children

    To all leaders of thought and opinion

    To all who announce the freedom of the human being

    To all protectors of the dignity of human beings and of religion PEACE AND MERCY FROM GOD!

    The control exercised by the Islamist Jehadists upon the city of Mosul, and their proclamation of it as an Islamic State, after several days of calm and expectant watching of events, has now come to reflect negatively upon the Christian population of the city and its environs. The initial sign was in the kidnapping of the two nuns and 3 orphans who were released after 17 days. At the time, we experienced it as a flash of hope and as a clearing of the sky after the appearance of storm clouds.

    Suddenly we have been surprised by the more recent outcomes which are the proclamation of an Islamic state and the announcement calling all Christians and clearly asking them to convert to Islam or to pay the joziah (the tax all non- Muslims must pay while living in the land of Islam) – without specifying the exact amount. The only alternative is to abandon the city and their houses with only the clothes they are wearing, taking nothing else. Moreover, by Islamic law, upon their departure, their houses are no longer their properties but are instantly confiscated as property of the Islamic state.

    In recent days, there has been written the letter ‘N’ in Arabic on the front wall of Christian homes, signifying ‘Nazara’ (Christian), and on the front wall of Shiite homes, the letter ‘R’ signifying ‘Rwafidh’ (Protestants or rejecters). We do not know what will happen in future days because in an Islamic state the Al – sharia or Islamic code of law is powerful and has been interpreted to require the issuance of new I.Ds for the population based on religious or sectarian affiliation. This categorization based upon religion or sect afflicts the Muslims as well and contravenes the regulation of Islamic thought which is expressed in the Quran which says, “You have your religion and I have my religion” and yet another place in Quran states, “There is no compulsion in religion”. This is exactly the contradiction in the life and history of the Islamic world for more than 1400 years and in the co – existence with other different religions and nations in the East and in the West.

    With all due respect to belief and dogmas, there has been a fraternal life between Christians and Muslims. How much the Christians have shared here in our East specifically from the beginnings of Islam. They shared every sweet and bitter circumstance of life; Christian and Muslim blood has been mixed as it was shed in the defense of their rights and lands. Together they built a civilization, cities, and a heritage. It is truly unjust now to treat Christians by rejecting them and throwing them away, considering them as nothing.

    It is clear that the result of all this discrimination legally enforced will be the very dangerous elimination of the possibility of co – existence between majorities and minorities. It will be very harmful to Muslims themselves both in the near and the distant future. Should this direction continue to be pursued, Iraq will come face to face with human, civil, and historic catastrophe.

    We call with all the force available to us; we call to you fraternally, in a spirit of human brotherhood; we call to you urgently; we call to you impelled by risk and in spite of the risk. We implore in particular our Iraqi brothers asking them to reconsider and reflect upon the strategy they have adopted and demanding that they must respect innocent and weaponless people of all nationalities, religions, and sects.

    The Holy Quran has ordered believers to respect the innocent and has never called them to seize the belongings, the possessions, the properties of others by force. The Quran commands refuge for the widow, the orphaned, the poor, and the weaponless and respect “to the seventh neighbor.” We call Christians in the region to act with reason and prudence and to consider and to plan everything in the best way possible. Let them understand what is planned for this region, to practice solidarity in love, to examine the realities together and so be able together to find the paths to build trust in themselves and in their neighbors. Let them stay close to their own Church and surround it; endure the time of trial and pray until the storm will be over.

    † Louis Raphael Sako Patriarch of Babylon for the Chaldean 17 July 2014

    The original "framily": the Church

    There are friends and family plans to save you money on your phone bill. There is also the friends and family plan of Jesus Christ to save you loneliness as you seek to live in this world in faithfulness to him; it's called the Church, the original "framily". "The Church is one because of her source: 'the highest exemplar and source of this mystery is the unity, in the Trinity of Persons, of one God, the Father and the Son in the Holy Spirit.' The Church is one because of her founder: for 'the Word made flesh, the prince of peace, reconciled all men to God by the cross, . . . restoring the unity of all in one people and one body.' The Church is one because of her 'soul': 'It is the Holy Spirit, dwelling in those who believe and pervading and ruling over the entire Church, who brings about that wonderful communion of the faithful and joins them together so intimately in Christ that he is the principle of the Church's unity.' Unity is of the essence of the Church: ' 'What an astonishing mystery! There is one Father of the universe, one Logos of the universe, and also one Holy Spirit, everywhere one and the same; there is also one virgin become mother, and I should like to call her "Church." ' " (CCC 813)

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