Blessings Returned

Monday, November 24, 2014

Prayer for Healing


Lord, 

You invite all who are burdened to come to you.  Allow Your healing Hand to heal me.  Touch my soul with Your compassion for others; Touch my heart  with Your courage and infinite Love for all; touch my mind with Your wisdom, and may my mouth always proclaim You praise.  Teach me to reach to You in all my needs, and help me to lead others to You by my example.

Most loving heart of Jesus, bring me health in body and spirit that I may serve You with all my strenght.  Touch gently this life which You have created, now and forever. 

AMEN.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Solemnity of Christ the King - Sunday, November 23, 2014 with Reflection


1ST READING - Ezekiel 34:11-12, 15-17
11 Thus says the Lord God: I myself will look after and tend my sheep. 12 As a shepherd tends his flock when he finds himself among his scattered sheep, so will I tend my sheep. I will rescue them from every place where they were scattered when it was cloudy and dark. 15 I myself will pasture my sheep; I myself will give them rest, says the Lord God. 16 The lost I will seek out, the strayed I will bring back, the injured I will bind up, the sick I will heal but the sleek and the strong I will destroy, shepherding them rightly. 17 As for you, my sheep, says the Lord God, I will judge between one sheep and another, between rams and goats.

P S A L M - Psalm 23:1-2, 2-3, 5-6
R: The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. In verdant pastures he gives me repose. (R) Beside restful waters he leads me; he refreshes my soul. He guides me in right paths for his name’s sake. (R) You spread the table before me in the sight of my foes; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. (R) Only goodness and kindness follow me all the days of my life; and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord for years to come. (R)

2ND READING - 1 Corinthians 15:20-26, 28
20 Brothers and sisters: Christ has been raised from the dead, the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through man, the resurrection of the dead came also through man. 22 For just as in Adam all die, so too in Christ shall all be brought to life, 23 but each one in proper order: Christ the firstfruits; then, at his coming, those who belong to Christ; 24 then comes the end, when he hands over the kingdom to his God and Father, when he has destroyed every sovereignty and every authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 28 When everything is subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to the one who subjected everything to him, so that God may be all in all.

GOSPEL ACCLAMATION
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that is to come!

Matthew 25:31- 46
31 Jesus said to his disciples: “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, 32 and all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. 34 Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, 36naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’ 40 And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’ 41 Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.’ 44Then they will answer and say,  ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?’ 45 He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’ 46 And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

SABBATH


SHEPHERDING RIGHTLY
Today’s feast is reminiscent of the first part of the Palm Sundayliturgy. The crowds welcomed the Lord excitedly. Today, we gather to acclaim Him as King of the universe, as Lord of all Lords, and as the fulfillment of the promised Kingdom of our father David.

       But this kingship and His kingdom have nothing to do with pomposity and power, but about humble service and solicitude: seeking out the lost, bringing back the strayed, binding up the injured, healing the sick — what He, too, is calling us to do, to shepherd His people rightly.

       How did He do all this? St. Paul speaks in terms of “destroying every sovereignty and every authority and power,” along with “putting all his enemies under his feet.” The high point of this victorious feat is about destroying the last enemy, which is death.

       The Gospel passage from Matthew offers us a passing glimpse of the glory associated with the Son of Man. But all three readings say precious little of the glories that are due to Him. Instead, they devote many more words to what the glorious Son of Man will do at the end of time. He will “separate the sheep from the goats.” But what criteria will the King use? This is where things get really interesting. We will all be judged on the basis of whether we have shepherded others rightly or not. Right shepherding has to do with loving care and solicitude for others, like what Ezekiel told us: feeding the hungry, welcoming strangers, clothing the naked, caring for the sick, and visiting the imprisoned.

       Honoring the King does not end with joining a procession and acclaiming His glories at Mass. They are important, but authentic devotion has to pave the way to humble service and solicitude for others. This, the Lord did, as can be gleaned from the readings.

       Today, let us honor Christ the King by resolving to become exactly like Him who did His Kingly role by shepherding others rightly. Fr. Chito Dimaranan, SDB

REFLECTION QUESTION: Are you shepherding rightly the people God has put under your care?

Form me into a good shepherd, Lord. May my heart be as compassionate as Yours.

St. Clement I, pope and martyr, pray for us.

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Friday, November 21, 2014

Anti-Catholic: 500 years of world history


"History is a set of lies agreed upon,"
said Napoleon.  


More lies have been aimed at destroying the good
name and holy work of our Roman Catholic Church
than any other institution in the world.


Even most Catholics believe the lies they were
taught in high school or have seen on television.


Do you know—and are you able to—
defend the true history of our Catholic Church?

Here's a test . . .




Is this really how Cortez and other Catholic
Spaniards treated the Aztecs?





Do you know why Galileo really 
faced the Inquisition?




Europe was once united.
Do you know what event led to divisions,
revolutions, and even to modernist thinking?




Do you know which democratic revolutionaries were
considered to be the enemies of the Church?

*       *       *

Many books have been written about the
history of the Catholic Church.

But few history books have been
written from a Catholic perspective.

That is, until now:


Here is an unabashedly Catholic history that documents
scores of assaults on our Catholic Faith these past five
centuries—and it delineates our Church's
brave response to each one.

 
For 500 years, wave after wave of cynical anti-Catholic men
and movements have wrought havoc on the Faith—men like
Luther, Marx, Darwin, Hitler, and Rousseau.

 
Together, they ripped the heart from our culture’s
chest, leaving our once noble Christendom a ruined city,
devastated politically and spiritually, morally and intellectually.

 
Celebrated Catholic historian Diane Moczar counters
here with an unflinching sketch of these five woeful centuries
with sound reasons for hope, for even after 500 years of
sustained persecution, our Church has not merely survived,
but continues in many places to flourish.

Almost 2,000 years ago, Tertullian noted that
the “blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church,”
a truth borne out these past 500 years.

Time-after-time, as Moczar shows, persecution has not
snuffed out the Faith, but brought forth great saints whose
brave examples gave strength to our besieged Church. 

 
These pages will convince you that
the Church is, indeed, Christ acting in the world.


And this book will convince you that no matter how
strong or ruthless or vicious her opponents, Christ's Church
will not be vanquished, but will endure to the end of time.

 
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The Church Under Attack
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The Church Ascending
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Celebrated author and veteran historian Diane Moczar takes you on a fast-paced and provocative ride through the development of Christian civilization from its emergence within the Roman Empire through its medieval springtime and summer.

Indeed, within five hundred years of Nero’s persecutions of the first disciples, Christian civilization permeated every aspect of European culture with kings and commoners alike paying allegiance to the Catholic Church.

A master storyteller with an entertaining and evocative style, Dr. Moczar introduces you to the celebrated intellectuals and mystics, the magnificent artists and writers, and the greatest heroes and villains who forever changed Christianity and the West.

You’ll also explore the dreadful heresies and sinful practices—both inside the Church and out—that developed cracks that would become great fissures, leading to the bitter autumn that followed a most glorious age.

Most of all, these pages will increase your love of God—who is the source of all truth—through a deeper understanding of Catholic history. And they will renew your confidence that the Church is indeed Christ acting in the world and that no matter how many Neros are sent her way by Satan, she will not be defeated but will endure until the end of time.

 

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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Fair Trade and the social teaching of the Catholic Church.


ONE of the most well-known success stories of Preda Fair Trade is its action to alleviate poverty and oppose the evil trade of human trafficking by implementing the social teaching of the Church. Living out in action these spiritual and social values is a great challenge to Catholics and Christians of all denominations.
Pope Francis has spoken clearly on the need for economic justice in the world. He said that he wants “a Church that is poor and for the poor.” In his apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, he grounded this goal in Jesus Christ, “who became poor and was always close to the poor and the outcast” (186)
The selling of young people into bars and brothels under the guise and cover of “entertainer” is a modern form of human slavery. Thousands of Filipinos are being sold into this evil form of trade in Asia and Korea is one major destination. Ten thousand Filipinos are reported to be trafficked into Korea according to one university study. Weekly? Monthly? Annually?
Unless we act for chidlren and the youth and they are allowed to be exploited and abused without our action to help them then our faith, teaching, and evangelization will have little impact and inspiration for the youth today. Perhaps that is why so few go to Church. That is why Fair Trade is the long term sustainable vehicle for delivering social and economic justice to the poorest of the poor. It makes them independent and self reliant.
Korea and Japan are prime destinations for these young girls, many said to be minors but disguised as adults with fake documents and make up. The goal is to save victims and uphold the dignity of women and children and provide economic alternatives in their home villages in the Philippines.
The goal of Fair Trade is to curb human exploitation of every kind and promote the human rights of rural poor, of workers. Help the exploited and the oppressed people. This is at the heart of the teaching of Jesus of Nazareth. The Preda Fair Trade project aims to prevent human trafficking and sex slavery by teaching the people the gospel values and the dignity and rights of every person especially the rights of women and children.
It also provides livelihood projects to the poor families such as organic mango production, fair prices and bonus payments for every small scale farmer for their mango fruit. The fair trade also provides water pumps, tri-bikes, educational assistance to the children. The small scale farmers are given mango tree saplings and coconut seeds to improve their production. A portion of the earnings from the sales of Preda dried mangos of Preda fair trade goes to help child victims of sex trafficking and abuse in Preda therapeutic homes. Preda dried mangos are widely available in Ireland and UK supermarkets.
By buying the mangos of small farmers and indigenous people at high fair prices and paying a bonus to each farmer Preda Fair Trade is slowly eliminating the exploitation and poverty. It is the cruel poverty and social injustice that makes so many impoverished villagers eager to allow their chidlren go to work in cities in the Philippines and abroad. Most don’t know the dangers.
The practice and example of economic justice in Fair Trade is a form of evangelization in word and action. It is by example of giving justice and fairness that Preda and has credibility with the people and society. As St. James writes “Faith without action for justice is dead.” The Church has a duty to implement the social teaching proclaimed by Jesus and the Popes for generations and Fair Trade is one great way to do it, and Pope Francis in particular.
The work to protect women and children from sex slavery is a priority. Preda has homes that are therapeutic healing centers for the child victims and a Preda legal office prosecutes the abusers and traffickers through the courts. A percentage of the earnings from the sale of the dried mangos and other fair traded products help fund these services for the victims rescued from Filipino sex bars and brothels.
The evil trade begins when the young women and children are recruited in Filipino villages or towns by human traffickers by giving promises of good jobs in factories and hotels, or as singers and dancers in Korea and elsewhere. They pay part of a salary in advance to the parents and relatives of the young women so they are obligated and become victims of “bonded” labor.
The sex bars are situated near the former US bases like Camp Stanley. The girls have to sell a certain number of “juicy” drinks to customers and are pressured to give sexual favors to the customers in small rooms at the back of the bars or in nearby cheap hotels. In some cases it is rape as the girls have never expected this and do not consent to it.
The development and promotion of Fair Trade is a most effective way for Catholics to use their buying power to make a strong faith based commitment and statement for social justice. Faith can be more alive every time they choose to buy a Fair Trade product knowing it is not the product of child labor, exploitation or cheating the producers. They will know it is based on fairness and concern. They will learn too from the information given with the products about the needs of the poor and the positive help that Fair Trade gives to them and what more they can do to help.
shaycullen@preda.org

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Newman and the Importance of Catholic Literature


by Father John McCloskey

Over the years, I have often written on the importance of spiritual reading for growth in holiness. Good Catholic books are also a great outreach to family, friends, and multitudes of ignorant and fallen-away Catholics, not to mention the millions of our countrymen who are pagans at best and atheists in practice.
But in addition to what we might technically consider "spiritual" reading, I would like to offer some recommendations of a rather different kind of book. Many people are not fully aware of the depth and breadth of Christian literature covering two millennia and every genre of writing.
Of course, Christian literature goes back to the Scriptures and the first centuries of the Faith. A lot of that is well enough known or at least appreciated. My emphasis here is on recommendations from Catholic poetry and fiction, including great novels from all over the world that are generally available in translation and easily accessible via your iPad or Kindle. Some of these may even be gathering dust in your attic or basement, just waiting to be rediscovered.
Blessed John Henry Newman gave a classic justification for paying attention to such works. In his lectures to the students at the Catholic university that he founded in Dublin in the mid-1800s (later published as The Idea of the University), he discusses the meaning and purpose of Catholic literature. And he draws very interesting distinctions – and lessons from them:
When a "Catholic Literature in the English tongue" is spoken of as adesideratum, no reasonable person will mean by "Catholic works" much more than the "works of Catholics." The phrase does not mean a religiousliterature. "Religious Literature" indeed would mean much more than "the Literature of religious men;" it means over and above this, that the subject-matter of the Literature is religious; but by "Catholic Literature" is not to be understood a literature which treats exclusively or primarily of Catholic matters, of Catholic doctrine, controversy, history, persons, or politics; but it includes all subjects of literature whatever, treated as a Catholic would treat them, and as he only can treat them.
Newman was clearly trying to stake out a particular kind of writing that would not be the usual apologetics or spiritual works or theology. In his day, he could assume most people would understand what he was getting at: "Why it is important to have them treated by Catholics hardly need be explained here. . . .For it is evident that, if by a Catholic Literature were meant nothing more or less than a religious literature, its writers would be mainly ecclesiastics; just as writers on Law are mainly lawyers, and writers on Medicine are mainly physicians or surgeons."
The point has a bearing far beyond what might apply in professional groups or academic disciplines: "if this be so, a Catholic Literature is no object special to a University, unless a University is to be considered identical with a Seminary or a Theological School."
For Newman, the importance of literature stems from our very nature and God-given powers as human beings, especially language:
if by means of words the secrets of the heart are brought to light, pain of soul is relieved, hidden grief is carried off, sympathy conveyed, counsel imparted, experience recorded, and wisdom perpetuated,—if by great authors the many are drawn up into unity, national character is fixed, a people speaks, the past and the future, the East and the West are brought into communication with each other,—if such men are, in a word, the spokesmen and prophets of the human family,—it will not answer to make light of Literature or to neglect its study; rather we may be sure that, in proportion as we master it in whatever language, and imbibe its spirit, we shall ourselves become in our own measure the ministers of like benefits to others, be they many or few, be they in the obscurer or the more distinguished walks of life,—who are united to us by social ties, and are within the sphere of our personal influence.
In the desire to propagate these and other benefits of Catholic literature, some years ago I hosted two series on Catholic authors. (They are still available from EWTN, online as MP3s or may be purchased in DVD format.) I chose men and women much more knowing than I as my guests (people like Ralph McInerny, Joseph Bottom, and The Catholic Thing's own Robert Royal). So if you want to get a flying start into Catholic literature, you won't go wrong here: St. Augustine, Dante, Pascal, Manzoni, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Sigrid Undset, Bernanos, Tolkien, Walker Percy, Flannery O'Connor, Sienkiewicz, Calderon de la Barca, Hilaire Belloc, Fr. Ronald Knox, Fr. Robert Hugh Benson, G.K. Chesterton, Shakespeare, Edwin O'Connor, Ralph McInerny, Fr. Thomas Merton. And there are dozens upon dozens more for you to encounter.
With the general decline in knowledge of Catholic culture, it's a good time to start that Catholic Book club with your friends, as well as pagans, agnostics, or fallen-away and potential Catholics. And there are plenty more great works where these came from. Who knows? Maybe you will one day write one yourself!
First appeared on The Catholic Thing in November, 2014.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Be all that you can be!


The evolving cosmos.There were a lot of upset people when Pope Francis declared that we live in a convergent universe where evolution is the way of life. Only those with a static view of the world and the human being were aghast at the declaration of Pope Francis. We inhabit a convergent universe where change is integral to life. In this evolving cosmos, all life unfolds towards greater complexity. The direction of this cosmic unfolding is towards greater unity—simple, isolated structures give way to more complex relationships which become more and more conscious. Nothing is static and all things are interrelated and tend towards a center.
By “convergent universe” here is meant that all things in the cosmos are impelled by an inner dynamism to become more complex and more conscious in the process of evolution. This convergent universe is an open system where new things can happen; it is a single, organic, evolutionary flowing. This process began with the Big Bang and will continue until the end of time through the continuous convergence of contingency, selection and self-organization. This is the way God chose to create the universe and everything in it. It is in this dynamic context that we have to understand what a human being is.
This convergent reality, this dynamic cosmos, requires a new way of understanding the world. This is what the Parable of the Talents in the Gospel this Sunday seeks to teach. “Talents” in current usage usually mean a person’s natural abilities. Closer to the intent of the parable, however, talents symbolize the giftedness bestowed by God on each person who has been graced with life that grows and develops.
The parable teaches us that in a convergent universe, the ultimate goal of life does not consist of catering only to one’s own ego and desires or amassing material things, but of becoming all that one can be. In an evolving universe, the real goal is “becoming” – each one becoming the best, most competent and successful person he or she can possibly be.
The Christian tradition has always maintained that we should grow in our spiritual life. St. Teresa of Avila’s Interior Castles and St. John of the Cross’ The Ascent to Mt. Carmel are indicative of this way of thinking. Our forefathers also thought that we grow in our humanity—Madali maging tao, mahirap magpakatao. Our life is a constant struggle to grow in our humanity because we are frail human beings—sapagka’t tayo’y tao lamang.
Jean Vanier, who spent his life ministering to people with disabilities, says that life’s great existential pull is the struggle to become human, which is a long and sometimes painful process. Becoming human “involves a growth to freedom, an opening of our hearts to others, no longer hiding behind masks or behind the walls of fear and prejudice. It means discovering our common humanity.”
Human Self-transcendence
What kind of person should one strive to become in the light of the human yearning for wholeness? In a darkened world, what values should we embrace to live a life of hope and anticipation? To cope with the challenges confronting the planet at present, what kind of understanding of what it means to become human should we propose and act on?
In an evolving universe, we have to accept the radical uncertainty of the future yet meet the challenges that an era of irresponsible human domination of the planet have placed before us—the unjust distribution of the planet’s resources, war and terror, and the unsustainable policies of our political and economic systems. Integral human growth means learning more meaningful and satisfying ways to live, a greater network of social relationships, and leaving a legacy that makes the world a better place than when one became conscious of inhabiting it.
Karl Rahner, one of the preeminent theologians of the 20th century, understood the human person as the being that is already beyond. The background for this reflection on humanity is a universe in process, an evolving cosmos, where the lower ascends to the higher. In the human being, evolution becomes conscious of itself. We are always already beyond and we become ourselves only by becoming more than ourselves. The more abundant life that Christ came to bring (Jn.10:10) is the capability to live life to its fullness in this evolving world and to develop fully as a human being.
With their transcendence, according to Rahner, human beings question every aspect of reality, including themselves. God is implicitly present in their questioning as the horizon of their interrogation. They know the finite only because they implicitly know the Infinite as the condition of possibility. In the act of knowing objects in the world, they know themselves and God, hence all theological statements are anthropological statements. The question of God and the question of the human being are two banks of the same river.
Since human freedom is a transcendental dynamism toward the Infinite, no finite object is ever able to fill up the dynamism that a human being is. In recognizing the limits of finite goods, human beings reach out to God, the absolute value, in the restlessness of their heart. Thus human beings are in the depths of their humanity oriented towards ultimate value. Without this orientation to the Infinite, human beings cannot grasp their life as a totality of becoming.
Losing the self to find it
Every person bears the mystery of God within. The first task of every creature is to complete and perfect this icon of the divine within. Every time we become our true selves, we reclaim identity and integrity, and new life can grow within, between and around us.
We project ourselves into the future, dream and make plans because of the innate drive towards self-determination, wholeness and fulfillment. We are carried away by the movement towards what we are not yet. This is the reason why most human beings can hardly tolerate boredom. They are always driven by a sense of purpose to constantly explore or create something new. They have to do something, surmount the limits necessary for growth in engaging the complexity of the world, and imagine what is not, or not yet, present to immediate experience. They become anxious in anticipation and the fear of what may happen.
To become all that we can be is a hard and painful task. In order to become all that they can be, Christians obey the mandate to carry the story of Jesus forward in history, and by doing that, to make his presence real. Without this sense of cosmic purpose, their possibilities become stifled. We grow in humanity as we assimilate the idea that change is essential to the human condition.
To proclaim that Jesus is the Son of God is to declare that the divinity of Jesus lays bare not so much the mystery of God as the majesty of what it is to become human.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Free talk to discuss ‘relic spirituality’



QUEZON City, Nov. 8, 2014—Those devoted to relics or simply curious about them are invited to a free talk on this form of popular piety on Nov.10, Monday, 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., at the Pro Life Philippines Main Office, Horseshoe Village, Quezon City.
The discussion to be headed by Br. Dave Dela Cruz, chairman of the Totus Tuus Tour, is part of the sendoff rites for the sacred relics of saints known for defending life—most notably St. John Paul II—exhibited at the venue.
Br. Dave Dela Cruz, chairman of the Totus Tuus Tour
“The talk will focus on the significance of the saints in our faith and their relics [given] that November is a month dedicated to them,” he shared.
Dela Cruz told CBCPNews he intends to give the Biblical and theological foundations of the veneration of saints and their relics, as well as its pastoral implications, in the light of the Year of the Laity and the upcoming visit of Pope Francis to the country.
While confirming that the veneration of relics has recently become popular again among Filipino Catholics, he lamented that few are catechized enough to understand the spirituality behind the practice.
According to the Catechism of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), the veneration of relics is one of the various forms of piety surrounding the Church’s sacramentals in which the religious sense of the Christian people has always found expression (1674).
CCC 1676 adds that pastoral discernment is needed to sustain and support popular piety and, if necessary, to purify and correct the religious sense which underlies these devotions so that the faithful may advance in knowledge of the mystery of Christ.
Besides studying for the priesthood, Dela Cruz Is the Vice Postulator for the cause for canonization of the Croatian Blessed Ivan Merz.
His best-selling book “More Precious Than Gold” won the Jaime Cardinal Sin Catholic Book Awards in 2013.
For inquiries, contact (02)655-62-02, (02)571-65-50, or visit www.facebook.com/stjohnpaulrelics(Raymond A. Sebastián)