Friday, March 27, 2015

Clues to the mystery of paradise

Do you know
why it's necessary that
scandals beset the Church?

Do you know how to
 tell if you're responding to the
unique gifts God has given you?

God speaks to you.
Are you drowning him out?

*   *   *

Christ hid the
answers to all these 
questions in His Parables.

He knew we couldn't
handle full knowledge of
the state of our souls, or even
what heaven is.

So he gave us His
parables as clues to
the mystery of paradise.

Those clues are revealed
to you in this new book by
popular author and EWTN
television host, Fr. George Rutler

In these pages, Fr. Rutler
guides you through all 24 parables,
unveiling their hidden meanings and
unlocking profound spiritual advice. 

When you join Fr. Rutler on
this enriching tour of Christ's
parables, you'll learn:

The Mustard Seed
Why it gave hope to the early Church
and prefigures her glorious future.

The Hidden Treasure
Are you responding to the
unique gifts Christ has given you?

The Unmerciful Servant
Not only must you forgive, you must
convert the offender. Are you a channel
for God's grace?

Laborers in the Vineyard
Are you letting selfishness and pride get
in the way of the salvation of your neighbor's soul?

The Two Sons
The dangers of agnosticism.
Are you guilty? You may be astonished at the answer.

The Ten Talents
God has given you a special gift.
Do you know what it is, and how you should use it?

The Good Samaritan
Do you know the most overlooked
element of this parable? It may surprise you.

The Rich Man and Lazarus
Learn the evils of self-sufficiency,
and the dangers of taking gifts for granted.

"Fr. Rutler uncovers for us
the light of Christ's parables."
Fr. James V. Schall, S.J.

"This is a book to be
dwelt upon and treasured."
Dr. Anthony Esolen

Order Online

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order the set:

Original Price: $34.90
Sale Price: $19.99!

How to know when miracles are
from God, the devil, or the imagination

There are more false claims about miracles than nearly anything else — claims by skeptics and believers alike, few of whom know what the Church actually says about miracles.

The result is a popular culture whose muddled concepts of miracles deny us any sense of the real character, meaning, and majesty of those events, and leaves us blind to compelling evidence that miracles still occur regularly, even in our day.

Now comes the remedy: Understanding Miracles, the book that gives you the most comprehensive, careful, and thoughtful discussion of miracles available today.

In reading Understanding Miracles your eyes will be opened as you finally discover what the Church really teaches about miracles and you'll learn:

  • What a miracle is (there is a good chance your understanding is wrong)
  • The particular miracles we are required to accept; and those we are free to doubt.
  • The five kinds of miracles (and why it makes a difference)
  • The seven marks of every authentic miracle (can you name even two?)
  • The benefits that miracles always bring (and the "benefits" that lead the Church — and should lead you! — to doubt that an inexplicable even is miraculous)
  • The Eucharist: it's a mystery but not strictly-speaking a miracle. Do you know why?
  • And countless other topics to deepen your knowledge and understanding of miracles, and draw you closer to the Author of them all.
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Thursday, March 26, 2015

Prayer to Defeat the Work of Satan

O Divine Eternal Father,
in union with your Divine Son and the Holy Spirit,
and through the Immaculate Heart of Mary,
I beg You to destroy the Power of your greatest enemy –
the evil spirits.

Cast them into the deepest recesses of hell
and chain them there forever!
Take possession of your Kingdom which You have created
and which is rightfully yours.

Heavenly Father,
give us the reign of the Sacred Heart of Jesus
and the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

I repeat this prayer out of pure love for You
with every beat of my heart and with every breath I take.


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Prayer for the Dead

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, March 24, 2015

The miracle of the Eucharist in Amsterdam (1345) –Thrown into a fire, the Eucharist miraculously is not burned

In 1345, Amsterdam was a tiny fishing village consisting of four streets and a few alleys lined up along the main canal. There were small modest fishermen’s huts, a church, and a monastery. The monastery was the largest building in the city. The Eucharistic Miracle given to this tiny village on March 13, 1345, was the beginning of the growth for which Amsterdam is now famous. In fact, on the 600th anniversary of the miracle, March 13, 1945, the Dutch Catholics attributed all the growth and progress of their city to the Eu¬charistic Miracle which we will now present.
The Eucharistic miracle occurred in a house on Kalverstreet where a fisherman named Ysbrant Dommer on his deathbed called for a priest to come to his home to give him the last rites of the Church and Holy Communion. After having heard the man’s confession, the priest blessed him with the oils of Extreme Unction, and gave him Communion.
The priest had no sooner left than the sick man began coughing violently. His wife ran over to him in an effort to help him, but the husband, gagging and choking beyond control, vomited the contents of his stomach, including the Host, still intact. The wife reacted instinctively. She swept up the Host and threw It into the fireplace. She soon realized her grave mistake, but the fire was raging, and she was not about to put her hands into it for fear of burning herself. That night she slept fitfully, tossing and turning. She was afraid she had committed a terrible sin and had nightmares about the Sacred Host that she had thrown into the fire.
The following morning, as soon as she got out of bed, she went over to the fireplace. The fire was not extinguished yet, and the coals were still quite hot. She stoked the coals, looking for the Eucharist. To her amazement she suddenly saw the Host sitting atop a burning ember. It was not burned at all. It had not even turned color. The Host was fresh and brilliant, lying among the coals. She immediately snatched the Host from the fire, and carefully wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and placed it in a chest for safekeeping.
She then called the priest who had been to her house the previous night and told him the story. The priest then placed the Host into a pyx and washed the cloth in which it had been wrapped. He then carried the Host to the parish church of St. Nicholas. The priest thought it best not to tell anyone about the incident, so as not to stir up gossip involving the woman or her husband. He took the Host, wrapped in the cloth, and returned It to the church, where he placed It in the tabernacle.
The following morning, the priest found the pyx empty to his amazement, but the Host was soon discovered by the same woman when she opened the chest to remove some linens. She was stunned and confused as she knew the priest had taken It away the day before. Had she committed such a terrible sin, that the Lord brought back the proof to punish her with the sight of It? She ran to the Church, and explained what had happened to the priest. Again the priest placed the Eucharist into a pyx and returned it to the church. Then, after yet another disappearance and discovery, the priest contacted other members of the clergy for consultation. All agreed that the occurrences were a direct proof of God’s intercession, and apparently a sign that the miracle should be openly honored. Jesus wanted to use this miracle to awaken His sleeping people. The Miraculous Host was a light which was to shine all over Europe.
The priest told his fellow friars about the miracle, and the story of which soon spread about the town and the surrounding countryside. When the priest formed a procession to go to the fisherman’s house for the Sacred Host, a huge crowd followed him and his fellow priests. They carried the Sa¬cred Host back to the church of St. Nicholas affording Our Lord the honor He deserved for giving such a rich gift to these humble people.
Another wonderful element to the story is that the fisherman who had been dying, the one whom the priest brought the Eucharist on that first night, didn’t die. To the contrary, he recovered, thanks be to God. However, when word of the miracle reached the ears of the townspeople, and those from other villages, they all went to the fisherman’s house to see where the miracle had taken place. It soon became sort of a shrine, and soon afterwards, a Chapel.
Official inquiries were made by the civil magistrate and also the city council, and upon investigation all were satisfied with the truthfulness of the witnesses. They affirmed the occurrence as fact and also endorsed the miracle in official City documents. The Church authorities, too, headed by the Bishop of Utrecht, held an extended inquiry before permitting the clergy to spread information about the event.
In a Pastoral letter, the Bishop officially declared that an authentic miracle had occurred in the little town of Amsterdam. In the same pastoral letter, he authorized veneration of the Eucharistic Miracle of the Host. The little house of the fisherman was soon converted into a Chapel, called Nieuwe Zijds, or Holy Place and the Miraculous Host was placed upon the main altar, for the adoration of the people. The fireplace of the fisherman’s hut was kept intact, and became a permanent part of the new shrine.

Miracle upon Miracle –The second miracle of 1452

A second miracle took place 100 years later. Amsterdam had grown considerably in the century since the first miracle had taken place. On May 24, 1452 the entire city of Amsterdam was engulfed in fire. Most of the buildings were destroyed by the blaze. When the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament (the former fisherman’s hut) caught fire, some of the parishioners made an at¬tempt to save the Miraculous Host from destruction by the flames. They tried to force open the tabernacle. The Host had been placed in a beautiful monstrance, which was inside the tabernacle. The heat of the Church was becoming unbearable. The workers worked feverishly, but to no avail. The heat of the fire had made it impossible to get the door open. As the roof of the Chapel began to cave in, the men ran out of the Church to safety, their mission a failure.
The entire Church collapsed and burned to the ground, including the tabernacle. Upon seeing this, there was a great sadness among the faithful of the city, especially those who had tried in vain to rescue the Eucharistic Miracle. The next day, they sifted through the ashes of the Church, hoping against hope, that something remained of their precious Host. Their grief turned to joy as soon they spotted the Monstrance, completely unscathed, there among the ashes of the Church. Even the silk veil which covered the Monstrance had been saved from the fire. So, once again the Lord saved the same Host from fire in the same house in Amsterdam.
Soon afterwards, a new chapel was built, more elaborate and more beautiful than the previous one. The fame of the Eucharistic Miracle of Amsterdam, now recognized as a twofold miracle, spread beyond the Netherlands to all of Europe. The Hapsburg Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, Maxmillian, went to Amsterdam in pilgrimage to the Eucharistic Miracle. He prayed for a healing at the shrine, which was granted to him because of his faith. He showed his thanksgiving by donating beautiful gifts to the Chapel of the miracle. Amsterdam and the Eucharistic Miracle became a major place of pilgrimages and processions.
Eucharist-Miracle-Amsterdam-caseIn 1665 the city council authorized Father Jan Van der Mey to convert one of the houses of the former convent of the Beghine into a chapel. After completion, the precious monstrance was transferred, but unfortunately was shortly afterwards taken by unknown thieves. Even today there is perpetual exposition of the Blessed Sacrament in memory of the miracle. The only objects that remain from the Eucharistic miracle are the case that contained the Sacred Host (pictured in the photo to the left), the documents that describe the miracle, and some paintings housed in the Historical Museum of Amsterdam. Every year there is a silent procession (Stille Omgang) in honor of the miracle on the eve of Palm Sunday.

Monday, March 23, 2015

The Great Reformer: Francis and the Making of a Radical Pope

by Austen Ivereigh - published by Henry Holt, 2014
A Book Review by Father John McCloskey
For many, our Holy Father, Pope Francis, is still a puzzlement, to use the words of the song from that great musical The King and I. If you are among them, this is the book you have been waiting for to really understand where he is coming from.
Well-known British Catholic journalist Austen Ivereigh has researched his subject and conducted dozens of interviews with no axe to grind to present our current pope. The author does a fine job of helping the reader understand the complicated history and contentious politics of Argentina, a very Latin-American country, so foreign to the American or English mind. He correctly paints Pope Francis as a man on a mission to reform the Curia; however, Francis also wants to make the Curia more efficient to better serve a growing global Church in this still-new millennium, one that may (perhaps sooner than we might think) see the reunion of Christianity into one flock shepherded by the successor of Peter.
In this book, you will learn much about Catholicism in South America, past and present. Because Pope Francis is the first Jesuit pope in history, you will also learn much about his joys and sorrows in the Society of Jesus. St. Ignatius of Loyola's order has done so much good in the Church and the world, but some believe it, too, is in need of reform, and who better to tackle that job than a fellow Jesuit?
Ivereigh covers Jorge Bergoglio's life from birth to his election as pope. It has been a life full of challenges, sufferings and serious persecution from the Argentine government and even his brother Jesuits. All the while, Bergoglio was growing in holiness — and having mystical insights that helped him direct his life to work with the poor, even as cardinal and archbishop of Buenos Aires.
Ivereigh traces the current pope's worldview to his willingness to go back to the essentials of the Gospel. "Despite his powerful intellect, his political mind and his theological sophistication," writes the British journalist, "his belief is primitive, undiluted: God is sovereign, the devil is active, and the power of prayer can act as a vehicle of God's grace."
The writer concludes by quoting Pope Francis: "'Listen up,' Francis told thousands of people in St. Peter's Square on Pentecost. 'Listen up: If the Church is alive, it must always surprise. … A church that does not have the capacity to surprise is a weak and sickened and dying Church. It should be taken to the recovery room at once!'"
First appeared on National Catholic Register in Februrary, 2015.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Today's Mass Readings - Sunday, March 22, 2015 with Reflection

1ST READING - Jeremiah 31:31-34
31 The days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. 32 It will not be like the covenant I made with their fathers the day I took them by the hand to lead them forth from the land of Egypt; for they broke my covenant and I had to show myself their master, says the Lord. 33 But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord. I will place my law within them, and write it upon their hearts; I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 No longer will they have need to teach their friends and relatives how to know the Lord. All, from least to greatest, shall know me, says the Lord, for I will forgive their evildoing and remember their sin no more.

P S A L M - Psalm 51:3-4, 12-13, 14-15
R: Create a clean heart in me, O God.
1 [3] Have mercy on me, O God, in your goodness; in the greatness of your compassion wipe out my offense. 2[4Thoroughly wash me from my guilt and of my sin cleanse me. (R) 10 [12] A clean heart create for me, O God, and a steadfast spirit renew within me. 11 [13] Cast me not out from your presence, and your Holy Spirit take not from me. (R) 12 [14] Give me back the joy of your salvation, and a willing  spirit sustain in me. 13 [15] I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners shall return to you. (R)

2ND READING - Hebrews 5:7-9
In the days when Christ Jesus was in the flesh, he offered prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered; and when he was made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.

Whoever serves me must follow me, says the Lord; and where I am, there also will my servant be.

John 12:20-33
20 Some Greeks who had come to worship at the Passover Feast 21 came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we would like to see Jesus.” 22 Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. 23 Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit. 25 Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life. 26Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there also will my servant be. The Father will honor whoever serves me. 27 “I am troubled now. Yet what should I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But it was for this purpose that I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it and will glorify it again.” 29 The crowd there heard it and said it was thunder; but others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” 30 Jesus answered and said, “This voice did not come for my sake but for yours. 31 Now is the time of judgment on this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. 32 And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.” 33 He said this indicating the kind of death he would die.



A group of Greeks came with a request, “Sir, we would like to see Jesus.” Do we still make that same request? Perhaps we even received that same request from people who see us serving in Church or actively involved in a community or parish organization.

       What do we do to help such seekers?

       We can take a hint from the Apostle Philip, who was the one who first received the request. In the Gospel, it is stated, “Philip went and told Andrew, then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus.”

       That’s it — something like a ripple effect or a chain reaction. We don’t have to do it all alone anyway. That’s why there’s community, a place where we are there for one another. Together, we draw near to Jesus — our only goal. He said, “And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.”

       “I will draw everyone to myself” — including Greeks and Galileans, including seekers and searchers, active and passive; including the likes of us, poor servants of the Lord. Jesus Christ acts like a magnet — attracting, pulling, drawing all of us unto Himself. And this He does in a most unique way, in complete contrast with the ways of the world: through the “law,” that is, of dying and rising. “Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.”

       For Jesus, we are all worth dying for — and we are all worth rising for. Let us die with Jesus. And let us rise with Him. Fr. Martin Macasaet, SDB
REFLECTION QUESTIONS: Do you seek Jesus? How?
Lord Jesus, let me seek You with all my heart and let me find You.

St. Nicholas Owen, pray for us.

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Friday, March 20, 2015

How St. Thérèse of Lisieux can bring peace to your soul

From the desk of John Barger,
Publisher Emeritus

"Do you reject Satan?"

"I do," I answered.
But trembled at the
mention of that Name.

"And all His works?"

"I do," I said again,
looking the bishop in the eye
and praying fervently that I would.

"And all His
empty promises?"

"I do!"
(But my soul cried out,
No! I don't! I'll never be
able to reject them!)

It was the fall of 1974.
I was the only grownup in a pew
filled with teenaged Confirmation
candidates reciting their nervous "I do's."

As a recent convert, ex-druggie,
long-time drunk, and former soldier,
I was acquainted with the night. Memories
of past sins danced in my mind.

Nonetheless, that evening
— and with all my strength —
I chose goodness.

*     *     *

Confirmation didn't banish temptation,
didn't drive out despair. Weeks later,
troubled by my continued sinfulness and
seeking distraction, I happened on the Confirmation
gift my sponsor had given me . . .

. . . Fr. Jean D'Elbée's beloved book
on the spirituality of St. Thérèse of Lisieux,
who spent most of her life in a cloistered convent.

What could such
an innocent teach me?

My eyes fell on this passage:

"I ask that from now on, you never let your past sins be an obstacle between you and Jesus. It's a ruse of the devil to keep putting our sins before our eyes in order to make them like a screen between the Savior and us."

A ruse of the devil?

"Think of your past sins to persuade yourself of your weakness; think of them to confirm your resolution not to fall again — that's necessary — but think of them mainly to bless Jesus for having pardoned you, for having purified you, for having cast all your sins to the bottom of the sea."

"Do not go looking for them at the bottom of the sea! He has wiped them out; He has forgotten them."

But I haven't forgotten them
— and I continue to fall.

"I'm not saying that you believe too much in your own wretchedness. I'm telling you that you don't believe enough in merciful love."

God's greatest pleasure is to pardon us. The good Lord is more eager to pardon a repentant sinner than a mother to rescue her child from the fire."


This makes sense of Our Lord's
words to a holy soul:

"Not a single soul
falls into Hell that has not
torn itself out of my arms."


No wonder St. Thérèse was
able to say, just before her death:

"Even if I had committed all possible crimes, I would still have the same confidence; I would feel that this multitude of offenses would be like a drop of water thrown into the flaming furnace of God's love."

"This classic beautifully reveals God's
deep love for each of us and awakens
in us a burning love for him. If you want
to grow in love of God, this book is a must."
Fr. Benedict Groeschel

*   *   *  

Are you troubled by your sins?
Afraid you don't love enough?

"In the same way that Jesus said to St. Augustine, 'You would not seek me if you had not already found me,' He will say to you, 'You would not have this great desire to love me if you did not love me already.' He cannot fail to fulfill, beyond even our greatest hopes, a desire that He himself has inspired."

In just a few hours, this singular book,
aptly entitled I Believe in Love, showed me
I had to quit relying on my own efforts,
and even had to cease judging myself.

Certainly, as I had promised that day
so long ago, I still had to reject Satan,
all his works, and all his empty promises.

But that was only the beginning.

From Fr. D'Elbée and St. Thérèse I
learned I must embrace my own
littleness, my poverty, my nakedness,
and powerlessness, and seek but a single
treasure: abandonment to God's mercy.

In three decades now as a Catholic
convert, that's the only program for the
interior life I've found to be within my reach.

Today, it's within your reach, too.

John Barger
Publisher Emeritus, Sophia Institute Press

I Believe in Love:
A Personal Retreat Based on
the Teachings of St. Thérèse of Lisieux
by Fr. Jean C.J. D'Elbée
$18.95 — 304 pages

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I Believe in Love
Study Guide

This study guide will help you explore the teachers of St. Therese of Lisieux more deeply while inspiring you to integrate them into your daily life.

Although this guide is published primarily for book clubs and small group discussions, individuals will find it to be an important resource for deepening your spiritual life.

By using this guide and reading I Believe in Love, you will embark on the way to the Father and learn how to focus on Him throughout each day, rest in him amid your troubles, and live joyful with Him at every moment.
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