Friday, December 19, 2014

Catholic family happiness begins here

Time-tested strategies
to help you strengthen your
marriage and raise good kids!


Here's the book you need to help shield your family from the effects of our selfish secular culture which destroys families and poisons relationships.

Fr. Lawrence Lovasik, popular author of the bestselling Hidden Power of Kindness and dozens of other books, offers faithful Catholics the essential ingredients to a loving marriage and a stable, happy family.

Unlike most modern guides for parents, The Catholic Family Handbookdetails simple but often overlooked ways you can develop the virtues necessary for a good marriage, instill good character in your children, protect them from the many sinful enticements of the world, and make child-rearing truly spiritual.

Fr. Lovasik even explains how to teach your children the all-but-vanished art of good manners, and gives you common-sense tips on how to deal with misbehavior, use punishment prudently, and even discipline teenagers wisely and effectively.

You'll also learn:
  • The secret of gaining God's blessing and peace upon your family: do you know it?
  • Common mistakes fathers make that can damage their families irrevocably
  • Two sacrifices you must make if you want to have a good Catholic family
  • Ten rights your children have — and three duties you have to them
  • Sex education: how to navigate this minefield in a way that's good for your kids
  • Eleven simple steps you can take to bring harmony to your marriage right now
  • Four qualities that every good parent has
  • Plus hundreds of other helpful hints and wise suggestions to help you imbue your marriage and family with solid Catholic values

The Catholic Family Handbook will
make your family happier — and holier!


The Catholic Family Handbook
by Fr. Lawrence Lovasik
$17.95 - 240 pages

Order Online

List price of set: $37.90

Your Price: $28.99

Keeping a faithful prayer life with your family isn't easy. From herding distracted children to managing the seemingly endless litany of prayers and devotions, our spiritual life all too often feels frantic and burdensome.

This isn't the way it should be. Our prayer life, our family life, and our work life should — and can! — be in harmony. When they are, our family is a powerhouse of grace, and Our Lord transforms our home into a little Eden — a little bit of heaven on earth.

With simplicity and holy wisdom, authors David Clayton and Leila Marie Lawler show you how to bring peace to your home by integrating your family into the calm, truly joyful way of Mother Church. Her feasts and seasons, prayers and devotions are gifts that draw us closer to God and unfold before us His marvelous plan of salvation.

To help you live the liturgical life of the Church more fully, David and Leila reclaim here an almost lost tradition that families used for centuries to build a beautiful bridge between home and church: the little oratory.

Consisting of a modest table and icons, the little oratory is a visible sign of spiritual awareness and devotion. It extends the Eucharistic worship of the Mass into the heart of your home, spiritually nourishing your family and preparing them to transform the world through prayer and charity.
Building your own little oratory is simple, and in these pages you'll discover just how easy it is. In fact, you likely have most of the pieces in your home already except, perhaps, the sacred art. That's why we've included here seven full-colored icons that are ready for framing, enabling you to get started right away!

"This is one of the most beautiful books I've ever seen. How I wish I'd had it when I first became a Catholic, not just for myself, as a husband and father, but for my family, too."
Scott Hahn

"This book is a rare treasure."
Thomas Howard

"Leila Lawler and David Clayton offer wisdom and grace to Catholics seeking to make their homes a holy shelter."
Elizabeth Foss

Save 25%
when you order the set



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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Secret Torture Chambers Exposed

By Fr. Shay Cullen
PREDA Foundation
This handout photo that was released by the Commission on Human Rights on January 28, shows a roulette wheel that was allegedly used to pick a list of torture techniques used on prisoners in a house converted into a prison in Biñan, Laguna. Ten police officers have been suspended for running a secret prison where jailors wearing wigs and masks beat and abuse inmates. AFP/CHR
This handout photo that was released by the Commission on Human Rights on January 28, shows a roulette wheel that was allegedly used to pick a list of torture techniques used on prisoners in a house converted into a prison in Biñan, Laguna. Ten police officers have been suspended for running a secret prison where jailors wearing wigs and masks beat and abuse inmates. AFP/CHR
Who would ever imagine that a secret torture squad attached to the Philippine National Police would use a crudely made “wheel of fortune” to select the torture technique they would use on their victims? Torture is outlawed by international convention and the Philippine Penal Code yet in 2009 a special law Republic Act 9745 was passed to totally ban.  However, it is still common practice. The recently launched investigative report by Amnesty International stated that police torture “is commonplace in the Philippines and impunity for it is the norm . . .” Titled “Above the Law: Police Torture in the Philippines,” the Amnesty International researchers with local human rights defenders uncovered secret detention centers and the notorious “Wheel of Fortune” in a torture chamber in Laguna, South of Manila.
The shocking discovery indicated that this trained squad used torture for a sordid and sick kind of entertainment. While the suspects screamed through their gags from the excruciating pain of electric shock the torturers laughed.
The US senate report on torture and disappearances of suspects details shocking torture and abuse and many of the torture techniques detailed in the report are similar to what the Philippine Police use also. The Philippine Police trained in Fort Bragg and elsewhere in the USA may have learned their torture techniques from their US trainers. We
sincerely hope not.
As many as forty three prisoner survivors, some rescued by Filipino human rights campaigners who risk their lives to help the victims, said they suffered grave torture. Twenty three of them were courageous and defiant enough to file criminal charges against the police.
There is not much hope either among them that justice will ever be seen.  The police enjoy a high level of impunity. Death squads also murder suspects. They are set up by military and local mayors, governors and other powerful politicians to protect their interests, eliminate political rivals or protect their secret criminal enterprise from
take-over by a rival. They also sow terror among the people and ensure the reelection of the politician.
In May 2014 this year Human Rights Watch published a 71-page report titled “One Shot to the Head: Death Squad Killings in Tagum City, Philippines.” It documented interviews with the killers who said they received text messages from the former mayor whom and when to kill someone .They got paid as little as a hundred dollars. This week on
December 11 we honor Rogelio Butalid, a broadcast commentator, shot at point blank range outside his radio station in Tagum City, Mindanao, just one of many journalist murders over the past ten years by death squads.
No one has been held responsible or accountable for the many deaths. Human rights advocates are calling for a law to hold the local mayors responsible and blame-worthy. They will be penalized by being removed from office for gross incompetency and dereliction of duty for torture and death squad killings in their town or city.
The Amnesty International report on torture is no less horrific. It reports that with the help of local human rights defenders and advocates they interviewed as many as 55 torture victim-survivors, 21 of them were children when abused and tortured. Two victims of torture were then shot and left for dead but miraculously survived.
As many as 36 cases were referred to the Office of the Ombudsman but unsurprisingly none were indicted. The investigating officers were likely to have been threatened with a “shot to the head.”
The survivors of torture reported having been beaten, kicked, punched, water-boarded (a near drowning torture technique), nearly suffocated with plastic bags over their heads, given electric shocks, deprived of sleep and forced to take stressful physical squatting. In one videotape, one old man was seen naked with wire tied around his genitalia being pulled by a police officer. The victim was later found beheaded.
Children too have been tortured, starved and killed in jails and prisons that are renamed “Juvenile Homes” where the children are neglected, abused, mistreated and jailed behind bars and metal screens.
A shocking and horrible photo of abused children was taken in the Manila Reception Action Center (RAC), a place described as a Auschwitz-like concentration camp in the heart of Manila five minutes from the office of Mayor Estrada. The photo is that of a boy we named Francisco. His naked, emaciated skeletal body was left thrown on the ground, allegedly left to die without medical help. He was found with facial bruises when rescued by charity workers.
The excuse of the staff is that they had no money to help him, that is a lie and fabrication. Its the story line to get more money which is disappearing in mysterious ways and too little going to feed, clothe and support the children. The boy Francisco only had to be given a t-shirt and shorts and taken to the hospital with other children in a similar half-starved condition . The truth is that the money is allegedly misappropriated and the Commission on Audit (COA) need to audit the facility. Also they need a clean, well managed facility in the countryside under the supervision of the trusted office of Secretary Corazon Soliman of the Department of Social Welfare and Development.  Manila is so rich it could build and maintain two such centers.
Other children too were left in similar conditions. The report documents 21 children who were tortured. All this is difficult to read and comprehend how humans can inflict such terrible cruel torture on children and adults. The psychological torture of threats and fear is equally abhorrent. One thing is clear, we cannot remain inactive, silent, non-supportive and indifferent to these grim realities exposed by children’s rights and human rights defenders working with Amnesty International.
The truth is there for all to see and read .We have to act as best we can to save more victims and put an end to these evil practices. We can help by speaking out, joining campaigns for human rights, join a rally, by taking a stand with victims of illegal detention and children in jails. We can inspire others by showing respect for the rights of others. That’s what Jesus did and taught. That’s why we have Christmas.

Friday, December 12, 2014

One of Saint Pius X's favorite books

Satan never rests from
setting traps along our path.

So the more we seek to win souls,
the more we risk losing our own.

That's why nearly a century ago,
the Trappist monk Jean-Baptiste
Chautard sat in the silence of his cell
and wrote this classic book.

It sat on the bedside of
St. Pius X . . .

. . . and has been praised by
Pope Benedict XV and countless
cardinals and bishops.

It's been read with gratitude
by hundreds of thousands of
busy parents, teachers, preachers,
catechists, and other Christians
working in the world.

You'll find here the wise
spiritual guidance you need
to live in the noise of the world
and win more souls for Christ.

Fr. Chautard explains how to avoid
self-righteousness and pride that
bring down successful apostles . . .

. . . and the indifference and
despair that cripple unsuccessful

Relying on the spiritual
wisdom of the greatest saints
and mystics, he shows you how
to achieve success in
your apostolic efforts.

Read this book and
you'll grow in holiness . . .

. . . and you'll lead ever
more souls to Christ.

Spiritual Handbook for Catholic Evangelists:
How to Win Souls Without Losing Your Own

by Fr. Jean-Baptiste Chautard
List Price: $14.95 - 192 pages

Order Online

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Regular Price: $33.90

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St. Francis de Sales carried a
copy of this book in his pocket for 18 years!

Its wisdom formed St. Francis's soul, and it helped him become one of the Church's greatest saints.

Now this book can do the same for you.

It's no longer fashionable to speak of the Christian life as a "battle," but there's actually no better way to describe the tug-of-war for your soul that's raging right now between the forces of light and darkness.

Here, Dom Lorenzo Scupoli helps you take your proper part in this spiritual battle so that you can win — decisively — the war for your soul.

This book has been loved by saints and sinners alike ever since it was written four hundred years ago. Why? Because it offers sensible advice to help you overcome spiritual obstacles and achieve spiritual perfection.

Best of all, Spiritual Combat doesn't just tell you what you ought to be doing in order to live a truly Christian life — it also shows you how to do it.

These directions include: 
  • Seven reflections to help you be sorry for sinning
  • Twelve ways to think about death — they'll help you live better today!
  • Prayer: seven ways to achieve its full benefits
  • What to do when prayer is dry and burdensome . . . or simply impossible
With wise spiritual guidance like this and much more, you'll soon be winning all your spiritual battles — battles that most people concede without a fight!

Order the set

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Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Universal desire for Justice

Fr. Shay Cullen
Seoul, Korea
MV Sewol (Wikipedia)
MV Sewol (Wikipedia)
It was frosty cold standing in the center Island of the broad avenue in Seoul, Korea leading to the the historical palace and presidential house. There I met one of the grieving parents of the Korean ferry disaster. There is a protest encampment set up there where supporters and sympathizes come and stay and pray and demand justice for the families and victims of this terrible tragedy. There is a high sense and awareness of human rights and frequent democratic protests are held here in Seoul. But all are allowed to demonstrate continuously, peacefully or noisily without police crackdowns.
At the solidarity camp on the traffic island the father of a child who was killed by the sinking of the ferry boat told me through an interpreter how the parents cannot accept the inaction of government. They want government to redress fully the injustice and the terrible wrong behind the sinking of the ferry and the loss of so many children and adults. He handed me a solidarity badge, a yellow folded ribbon. The children who died look out from the assembled 300 photographs at the temporary shrine to their memory.Their silent stares tell us of the enormity of their loss and greatness of the crime.
The ferry Sewol, on 16 April 2014 with a complement of 500 passengers and crew. The ferry boat was bought from a Japanese ferry company with only two years of life left as a passenger ferry but the shipping company used questionable methods to force through a change in the law so the ferry could get a license to carry passengers beyond its normal life. Together with illegal structural alterations to carry more cargo , the ferry was top heavy and capsized. The Captain, crew have been jailed and the family of the owner are being arrested and charged. Justice is the overwhelming desire of the families of the children who died.
MV Dona Paz (Wikipedia)
MV Dona Paz (Wikipedia)
In the Philippines justice is hard to come by. As many as 4,386 Filipinos perished in the greatest peacetime maritime disaster ever when the MV Doña Paz a ferry boat ,owned by Sulpicio Lines, out of Tacloban ,Leyte, sank after colliding with the oil tanker MT Vector on December 20, 1987, only 24 people survived. The ship was way over its seaworthy life and built for 608 passengers.
The ship was rebuilt after a fire, unlicensed, grossly over-loaded and had no qualified captain or officer on duty on the bridge when the collision occurred leading the deaths of thousands. The Philippine Board of Marine Inquiry eventually cleared Sulpicio Lines of all liability, fault and negligence for the accident stopping short of sympathizing with the owners of the shipping line.
No one was arrested, tried or found guilty of negligence or held responsible for the deaths of so many. Everything is negotiable in the Philippines if you are rich and powerful. Little compensation was paid to the family members of 4,386 people who perished.
The families of the 162 victims who died and 93 severely burned people of a Manila disco fire had to wait 18 years and 8 months to get justice this past week. Small as it is with the sentences of seven Quezon city engineers and two businessmen to ten years each. Philippine Justice is hard to come by,all is negotiable except for the poor.
Last week a child ,Angie, from Botolan, Zambales with the mental capacity of 9 years old ,as testified by the resolution of the prosecutor Emelyn T,Nacin-Catolico in April 2011. had been cruelly raped with fear and threats by a paedophile and the case referred to the Regional Trial court Iba, Zambales .
Now three years later a new prosecutor, Olivia V.Non-Finones, instead of prosecuting the rapist pressured the child to sign an affidavit withdrawing her compliant. Such an affidavit of desistance is forbidden by order the Philippine Department of Justice and the Supreme Court has ruled many times that such affidavits of desistance have no weight what-so-ever.
Nevertheless the judge Marifi P.Chua accepted the affidavit in court and stated in dismissing the rape charge against the accused that since the affidavit was based on the fact the rapist undertook and promised not to rape again the lady judge dismissed the case and the accused was allowed to walk free to do it again.The child was denied justice,more children are at risk.
Here in Seoul many welcome the UN resolution, approved by 111 countries, to send the leaders of North Korea to the International Criminal Court in The Hague for crimes against humanity. Investigations and interviews with escapees from repressive North Korea led to a special UN report in February 2014 that provides evidence for the allegations of the crimes of systematic murders, torture, beatings, starvations, rape, and forced abortions and unjust imprisonment of up to 120,000 people.
These issues and revelations have given a increased sense of obligation among the many South Koreans to do more to help the less fortunate in North Korea and in developing countries. The desire for justice is universal and a nation without it is not a full civilized nation but close to a failed state.
This is perhaps why South Koreans are embracing and expanding their interest in social justice and buying Fair Trade products from developing nations like the Philippines dried mangos fo small farmers and the indigenous people. They have a growing moral conscience about the exploitation of the poor and the duty to help.
Fair trade is a rapidly growing sector in civil society and among Christians in many countries UK and Ireland Germany and Austria are among the most active. The movement in Seoul has a strong supporter in Mayor Won Soon Park who hosted in Seoul The Global Social Economic Forum this month to boost the social commitment of Koreans and foster international cooperation and Fair Trade. All of us can do our share to help make justice the heart of faith and life.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Fathers, Daughters and St Therese

Today we are pleased to introduce Nancy Ward to you.  Nancy is a convert to Catholicism and a widely published writer.  In this post, she interviews Connie Rossini, who has written for us in the past.  Please welcome Nancy warmly and make her feel at home!
Fathers. Daughters and St Thérèse
An interview with Connie Rossini, author of Trusting God with St. Thérèse.
Connie gives practical advice for overcoming fears and frustrations that hamper our relationship with God. I asked her about her father-daughter relationship as compared to that of Louis Martin and his daughter St. Thérèse of Lisieux.

Nancy: Thérèse was blessed with parents who were “more worthy of heaven than of earth.” Thérèse had a special relationship with her father, who called her, “my Queen.” She formed her image of God from her father who never denied her love, affection and care. How did your father-daughter relationship compare to this?

Connie: In some ways, my relationship with my father when I was growing up was miles apart from the relationship between Thérèse and Louis. I am very quiet and reserved. As a child, I was also timid. My dad, in contrast, was outgoing and frank. He was also the primary disciplinarian. My mom often said, “Wait till your dad gets home!” I grew nervous around him. I avoided talking to him about any serious subjects.

In my book, I tell how my dad left me home alone when I was about five. When he returned about an hour later, he didn’t show any sympathy for my fears. So that didn’t help my relationship with him or God.

Nancy: In Trusting God, you convey many lessons about God Thérèse learned from her father. One of my favorites is:
By rejecting the notion that she had to do lots of good works in order to earn God’s friendship, Thérèse became free to trust in God’s goodness, rather than her own. His faithfulness did not depend on hers. She could trust him as her all-loving Father. Would Louis withhold his love from his girls unless they did great things for him? Of course not! Then neither would God.
She did not have to work wonders in order to please God. She simply had to love him. Her confidence in him was childlike. She left more childish attitudes behind.
What is your favorite lesson about God that you learned from your father?

Connie: You might think that my dad only gave me negative experiences when it came to trust. He was a great model of trusting God in some areas of his life. When I was ten, my parents felt that God was calling them to join a Catholic charismatic community or form a new one. They were thinking about moving from southeastern Washington to Seattle. But after some prayer and talking with others, my dad believed God was calling us to move to Minneapolis instead. And my parents obeyed without hesitation.

My dad believed God was working in his life as he did in the life of Abraham–whom I also wrote about. Like Abraham, my dad said yes to a move before he knew the destination. I love that example.

Nancy: When your father returned home such a different man after the accident affected his memory, did your view of him change significantly? Did it change how you saw God?

Connie: At first the accident had a very negative impact on our relationship. I was seventeen and apt to be hypercritical of my parents. My dad initially had total memory loss, then permanent problems with short-term memory. I lost respect for him. Instead of being compassionate, I was angry.

On the other hand, he became more relaxed and understanding. Over time—a matter of several years—I began to see that my view of God, as always being exacting and looking to punish our sins, might be flawed. I began to long for another view of God, a more loving relationship with him.

Nancy: Thérèse tells a story to Fr. Bellière about how she perceives the love of Jesus toward his disobedient children.
“I would like to try to make you understand by means of a very simple comparison how much Jesus loves even imperfect souls who confide in Him: I picture a father who has two children, mischievous and disobedient, and when he comes to punish them, he sees one of them who trembles and gets away from him in terror, having, however, in the bottom of his heart the feeling that he deserves to be punished; and his brother, on the contrary, throws himself into his father’s arms, saying that he is sorry for having caused him any trouble, that he loves him, and to prove it he will be good from now on, and if this child asked his father to punish him with a kiss, I do not believe that the heart of the happy father could resist the filial confidence of his child, whose sincerity and love he knows. He realizes, however, that more than once his son will fall into the same faults, but he is prepared to pardon him always, if his son always takes him by the heart.”
This practical story impressed me greatly. How did it change your image of God the Father and increase your trust in him?

Connie: This was the passage that started me on the road to true trust. I read in other saints’ writings that we should remain calm when we sin, but I had never understood that on an emotional level. I began to look at my sins from God’s perspective. Since I am a parent, I could relate to the father’s response in Therese’s story. My youngest son, who is three, loves to give kisses. About a year ago when I first started disciplining him, he would respond a lot like the son in the story. When I reprimanded him, he would immediately throw his arms around my neck and say, “I’m sorry, Mom.” Then he would kiss me all over my face. What parent could be harsh after that? I realized God would react the same way to my expressions of childlike trust and love.

Connie Rossini gives whole families practical help to grow in holiness. She is the author of the free e-book Five Lessons from the Carmelite Saints That Will Change Your Life. She writes a spirituality column for The Prairie Catholic of the Diocese of New Ulm, Minnesota, and blogs at Contemplative Homeschool. She is also a columnist for Connie and her husband Dan have four young sons.

Trusting God with St. Thérèse is available as an e-book and paperback at The paperback is also available at

About Nancy Ward

Nancy HC Ward is a Spirit-filled convert, journalist, blogger and speaker who shares her joy in the Lord, her conversion, the Catholic Church and Christian community in Texas. On, she hosts the Joy Alive Network of spiritual support and inspiration. She earned a journalism degree, wrote, edited and managed corporate, non-profit and educational publications for 25 years. She is published in Charisma, Our Sunday Visitor, New Covenant, St. Anthony Messenger, Vocations Magazine, Shalom Tidings and nine websites. She facilitates the Dallas/Fort Worth Catholic Writers and a critique group for the Catholic Writers Guild, where she serves as a board member.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Equipped for One-on-One Evangelization

by Father John McCloskey

It is the love of Christ that fills our hearts and impels us to evangelize (2 Corinthians 5:14). Today, as in the past, he sends us through the highways of the world to proclaim his Gospel to all the peoples of the earth (Matthew 28:19). Through his love, Jesus Christ attracts to himself the people of every generation. ... Today, too, there is a need for stronger ecclesial commitment to new evangelization in order to rediscover the joy of believing and the enthusiasm for communicating the faith.
        —Pope Benedict XVI, from his apostolic letter Porta Fidei.

… The Second Vatican Council emphasized in a special way how the missionary task, that of broadening the boundaries of faith, belongs to every baptized person and all Christian communities. … Each community is therefore challenged, and invited to make its own, the mandate entrusted by Jesus to the apostles, to be his "witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8).
— Pope Francis, from his 2013 Message for World Mission Day.

The Year of Faith is over. We have celebrated the great Solemnity of Christ the King, and as we enter Advent, we are ready to continue the work of the New Evangelization openly and joyfully, one-on-one, like the first Christians who are our role models. Or perhaps we are venturing out into “mission territory” for the first time. In either case, we need to feed those we hope to evangelize with good readings to help them see the beauty of our Holy Church.

The materials of the reading list you see below have worked for me and many others, but back them up with prayer and deep friendship, and soon you will find yourself someone’s sponsor at baptism or confirmation; and there are few better experiences this side of heaven!

For Gentiles of Good Will


Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

A Map of Life by Frank Sheed (Reprint Ignatius Press)

Everlasting Man by G.K. Chesterton

Christianity for Modern Pagans: Pascal’s Pensees by Peter Kreeft and Blaise Pascal


Choose one of the first three and also No. 4 (as a reference book):

Fr. Smith Instructs Jackson by Archbishop John Francis Noll (Our Sunday Visitor)

The Gift of Faith by Bishop Donald Wuerl and Fr. Ron Lawler (Our Sunday Visitor)

Faith of Our Fathers by Cardinal Gibbons (FQ Books)

Catechism of the Catholic Church (Reference book)

Catholic History

Catholic History From the Catacombs to the Reformation by Diane Moczar (Our Sunday Visitor)

Ten Dates Every Catholic Should Know by Diane Moczar (Sophia Institute Press)

History of the Catholic Church by Msgr. Philip Hughes (McMillan)

Great Moments in Church History, Host: Father C. John McCloskey with Harry Crocker (EWTN Series,, Toll-Free: 800-854-6316, orfree audio downloads)

Catholic Culture

Why Do Catholics Eat Fish on Friday? by Michael P. Foley Palgrave (McMillan)

Why Do Catholics Do That? by Kevin Orlin Johnson (Random House)

Catholic Lifetime Reading Plan by Fr. John McCloskey


The Spirit of Catholicism by Karl Adam (Angelico Press)

The Spirit and Forms of Protestantism by Louis Bouyer (Scepter)

Conversion Stories

Confessions by St. Augustine

Seven Story Mountain by Thomas Merton

Apologia Pro Vita Sua by Bl. Cardinal John Henry Newman

Rome Sweet Home by Scott Hahn (Ignatius Press)

Spiritual Journeys edited by Robert Baram (Pauline Publications)

Surprised by Truth (3 volumes) by Patrick Madrid (Sophia Institute Press)

Crossing the Tiber: Evangelical Protestants Discover the Historical Church by Stephen Ray (Ignatius Press)

Born Fundamentalist, Born Again Catholic by David Currie

For Jews Open to Catholicism

Salvation Is From the Jews, by Roy Schoeman (Ignatius Press)

Honey From the Rock, edited by Roy Schoeman (Ignatius Press)

Second Exodus, by Martin Barrack (Magnificat Institute Press)

Revelation of the Son of Man, by Levi Khamor (BenYamin Press)

The Ingrafting, edited by Ronda Chervin (Remnant of Israel)

Bread From Heaven, edited by Ronda Chervin (Remnant of Israel)

Before the Dawn, by Eugenio Zolli (Ignatius Press)

Completed Jew, by Andrew Sholl (Comsoda Communications)

En Route to Eternity, by Ronda Chervin (The Miriam Press)

First appeared on National Catholic Register in November, 2014.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary - Today's Mass Readings - December 8, 2014 with Reflection

1ST READING - Genesis 3:9-15, 20
After the man, Adam, had eaten of the tree, the Lord God then called to the man and asked him, “Where are you?” 10 He answered, “I heard you in the garden; but I was afraid, because I was naked, so I hid myself.” 11Then he asked, “Who told you that you were naked? You have eaten, then, from the tree of which I had forbidden you to eat!” 12  The man replied, “The woman whom you put here with me — she gave me fruit from the tree, and so I ate it.” 13 The Lord God then asked the woman, “Why did you do such a thing?” The woman answered, “The serpent tricked me into it, so I ate it.” 14 Then the Lord God said to the serpent: “Because you have done this, you shall be banned from all the animals and from all the wild creatures; on your belly shall you crawl, and dirt shall you eat all the days of your life. 15 I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will strike at your head, while you strike at his heel.” 20 The man called his wife Eve, because she became the mother of all the living.

P S A L M - Psalm 98:1, 2-3, 3-4
R: Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous deeds.
Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done wondrous deeds; his right hand has won victory for him, his holy arm. (R) The Lord has made his salvation known in the sight of the nations he has revealed his justice. 3He has remembered his kindness and his faithfulness toward the house of Israel. (R) All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation by our God. Sing joyfully to the Lord, all you lands; break into song; sing praise. (R)

2ND READING - Ephesians 1:3-6, 11-12
Brothers and sisters: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens, as he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish before him. In love he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ, in accord with the favor of his will, for the praise of the glory of his grace that he granted us in the beloved. 11 In him we were also chosen, destined in accord with the purpose of the One who accomplishes all things according to the intention of his will, 12 so that we might exist for the praise of his glory, we who first hoped in Christ.

Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women.
Luke 1:26-38
26 The angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And coming to her, he said, “Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you.” 29 But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. 30Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, 33 and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” 34 But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” 35 And the angel said to her in reply, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. 36 And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; 37 for nothing will be impossible for God.” 38 Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.


Catholic convert Scott Hahn narrated an exchange he had with a professed atheist. One day, he was lecturing on the philosophical proofs for the existence of God. After the talk, an avowed atheist spoke up and said, “Professor, if God did not exist, we would invent Him anyway.” In response, Scott Hahn remarked, “If God does exist, we would invent atheism anyway.”

       What do we make of the atheist’s remark? For him, God was just an invention of the human mind, an infantile projection of human insecurity, of man’s inability to cope up with the mysteries of life. What do we make of Scott Hahn’s reply? Now, why would we invent atheism? It is because we do not want a demanding God. We do not want a God who will challenge us or tell us things that we do not want to hear. It would have to be a convenient God, who will never make us feel uncomfortable or bring us out of our comfort zone. That is the God of atheism. And that is no God at all.

       Mary, in today’s Gospel, is a corrective to the modern-day attitude of rebelling against a God who can make us uncomfortable. We have heard the Gospel of the Annunciation countless times, yet sometimes we fail to appreciate how disturbing it was for Mary. With the revelation that she was to be the Mother of God, her life was turned upside down. Surely she must have been branded as a lunatic with her claim of a virginal conception. Her reputation must have been besmirched. She was put in real danger of being stoned to death, were it not for Joseph’s selfless sacrifice of not exposing her to the Law. In the face of all this, Mary’s response was, “I am the handmaid of the Lord, be it done to me according to Your Word.”

       What can we learn from Mary’s openness to the Divine interference in her life? God comes to us not only to make us feel good; He comes to make us good. And it is only after being good, that we shall genuinely feel good about ourselves. Being good entails a decisive choice of the good over the bad. That will entail purification, purgation, a dying to one’s self. And that is difficult. Therein lies the beauty of Mary, the Immaculate One! Fr. Joel Jason
REFLECTION QUESTIONS: Describe your brand of Christianity. Is it the cafeteria brand where you only choose to follow those things that appeal to you?
Today, make this prayer your own: “Lord, if I am disturbed, comfort me. But when I am too comfortable, disturb me.”

Blessed Virgin Mary, pray for us.

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