by Father John McCloskey
Easter Sunday is a week behind us, but we have a long time yet to enjoy the Easter season after our penitential Lent. Rejoice! And on the second Sunday of Easter we will be celebrating Divine Mercy Sunday, added to the Church calendar by the great St. John Paul himself, Polish compatriot of St. Faustina, to whom Our Lord entrusted the message of Divine Mercy.
In God's Providence, it is no accident that St. John Paul died on the eve of that great feast. By early adulthood, he had already suffered greatly from the deaths of his parents and his older brother, and also from the Nazis, whose invasion of Poland in 1939 provoked World War II and whose eventual defeat and withdrawal from Poland only made room for the nation's subsequent decades-long Communist domination as a Russian satellite.
How happy St. John Paul must be in Heaven to see that his second successor as supreme pontiff, Pope Francis, has chosen to designate a Year of Mercy. Yesterday, during vespers, the pope officially announced that the Year of Mercy is to begin on December 8, 2015, the 50th anniversary of the end the Second Vatican Council (and the feast of the Immaculate Conception).
Between now and December, we should think about how we can live this year so as to better learn both to receive mercy and to give it to others. And certainly we all need it. Has the world ever been in worse shape? There are reasons you'd think not. Just look at the breakdown of marriage throughout the world and the attempt to change the definition of marriage to include something that in nature is impossible: same-sex marriage.
As if this were not enough, the world is plagued by pornography and the ongoing loss of religious freedom, not only in far-away Muslim countries (where the rise of merciless Islam is destroying traditional cultures and thousands of innocent families, Christian and Muslim) but increasingly in Europe and the United States also (look at the response to Indiana's religious freedom law).
And of course there is the ongoing legal slaughter of innocent babies in the womb, a horror that, repeated year after year, decade after decade, can dull our natural reactions or at least incline many to hopeless acceptance of the status quo.
What can be done? Of course prayer is essential, and also each one of us as citizens should do our best where we live to bring Christian mercy to those who need it most.
We should start with ourselves, however, seeking God's mercy for own sins on a regular basis in the sacrament of Confession. Then, by our actions and example we should pass on this mercy, given to us by Jesus himself in one of his sacraments at the cost of his own suffering and death. We should speak to our friends, relatives, and neighbors about the joy that comes of knowing our sins are forgiven in this truly holy sacrament.
Unfortunately, this joy has been lost to the sons and daughters of the Protestant Reformation. Talk to them about the greatness of knowing one is forgiven and also of that other great sacrament of mercy, the Eucharist, in which Jesus Christ intimately shares with us his Body and Blood in the holy Mass.
The world must be reconciled to God through the sacraments. We know neither the day nor the hour when we will be called to be judged by Christ the King and receive our place in the next life, whether that place is Hell (please, not!) or Heaven, where God wants us to be. Part of our judgment will have to do with how and to what extent we have made a gift of self to family and friends in our efforts to share our faith with others.
I believe that in the last two centuries the world has been more wicked than it has been since the coming of the Christian faith.
As we know, the Holy Father himself will be coming to the United States in September to attend the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, visit Washington, and address the world at the United Nations in New York City. What he says and does will likely give us much to reflect upon as we approach the beginning of the Year of Mercy. Therefore let us use the Sacrament of Reconciliation, which is the sacrament of mercy, and the Eucharist, and make use of the graces we receive not only to amend our own lives, but to show our love and forgiveness to all.
If we use these only real means, and share them generously with others, our joy will grow and become evident to those around us. They will ask us why we are so happy and we will be able to reply, "Because of my love of Jesus Christ and his holy Church!" May God help us to be merciful to all around us and also to ourselves.
Monday, May 11, 2015
by Father John McCloskey
Recently, Pope Francis announced an upcoming Year of Mercy that will begin on December 8, 2015, the 50th anniversary of the end of the Second Vatican Council (and of course the feast day of the Immaculate Conception, which holds special significance for us in the U.S., who enjoy the patronage of the Immaculate Conception) and conclude on November 20, 2016, the Feast of Christ the King.
What is mercy? One dictionary defines it in the following way: "kind or forgiving treatment of someone who could be treated harshly; kindness or help given to people who are in a very bad or desperate situation."
The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us:
Christ has willed that in her prayer and life and action his whole Church should be the sign and instrument of the forgiveness and reconciliation that he acquired for us at the price of his blood. But he entrusted the exercise of the power of absolution to the apostolic ministry which he charged with the "ministry of reconciliation." The apostle is sent out "on behalf of Christ" with "God making his appeal" through him and pleading: "Be reconciled to God." The greater the sin standing between us and reconciliation with God, the greater God's mercy in extending to us the offer of reconciliation.
It seems to me, then, that deliberately taking innocent life by deliberate abortion of the child in the womb is one of the greatest sins possible. The guilt may lie with the father, the boyfriend, the woman who allows it, and most particularly the doctor who performs it; nonetheless, God's mercy never fails, if asked for.
Therefore, what is needed during this time of grace and mercy is a crusade to outlaw all elective abortions by all legal means and of course ongoing efforts to help people perceive doctors who perform abortions as who they really are: killers who deserve punishment. At the same time we should never stop praying for abortionists to undergo a change of heart, because no category of sinner is excluded from God's mercy. And they will receive that mercy if they ask for it. Recall Dr. Bernard Nathanson, the notorious abortionist who was responsible for thousands of unborn deaths and even aborted his own child. After he became convinced of his wrongdoing and, by the mercy of God, repented of it, he spent the rest of his life attempting to convince others of the evil of abortion through books, presentations, and his film The Silent Scream. God is merciful, and great sinners, being in most obvious need of that mercy, are sometimes more willing to recognize and take hold of that mercy than someone who considers himself or herself in good spiritual health.
However, it seems to me that the greatest effort to extend Christ's mercy should be directed toward helping those millions of women in our country who are suffering in their hearts knowing they have been instrumental in destroying life that they brought into existence. We must pray for them, console them, and bring them to repentance. If they are Catholic, we should encourage them to seek mercy and healing in the confessional, where they can begin their recovery as women who have come to know that God loves and forgives them even of the most grievous of crimes, as he forgave the Good Thief on Calvary. We also should not forget the men who share the guilt of abortion if they collaborated with and/or even forced the mother into aborting their child.
Don't forget that by the time this year of mercy concludes in November 2016, a new United States president will have been elected. We as Catholics should do everything possible to help elect a truly pro-life (with no exceptions) president who will not be afraid to go further than merely paying lip service to the cause of the unborn. Any president who could put an end to legalized abortion would surely go down as the greatest in our history. And perhaps our example could then spread throughout the world, reviving the realization that all conceived children should be safeguarded because, after all, children are the hope of the future.
We thank Pope Francis for this year and we also thank him for giving us such a great example of what it means to be pro-life in every way, not only extending mercy to those who are already alive and developing in the womb, but also recognizing and proclaiming that, while marriage has several purposes, including the holiness of the spouses, God has established it as the best means for couples to bring children into the world. And those couples who cooperate with God's purposes will strive to raise children who will give glory to God and by fulfilling his loving purposes on earth and then enjoying an eternity in heaven. True mercy is to give them the same chance of doing so that you yourself have received!
First appeared on The Truth and Charity Forum in March, 2015.
Friday, May 8, 2015
Wednesday, May 6, 2015
God our Father,
Your power brings us to birth,
Your providence guides our lives,
and by Your command we return to dust.
Lord, those who die still live in Your presence,
their lives change but do not end.
I pray in hope for my family,
relatives and friends,
and for all the dead known to You alone.
In company with Christ,
Who died and now lives,
may they rejoice in Your kingdom,
where all our tears are wiped away.
Unite us together again in one family,
to sing Your praise forever and ever.
Tuesday, May 5, 2015
Posted by omeng at 10:30 AM
Friday, May 1, 2015
Posted by omeng at 8:30 AM