Sunday, April 26, 2015

Today's Mass Readings - Sunday, April 26, 2015 with Reflection

1ST READING - Acts 4:8-12
Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said: “Leaders of the people and elders: If we are being examined today about a good deed done to a cripple, namely, by what means he was saved, 10 then all of you and all the people of Israel should know that it was in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead; in his name this man stands before you healed. 11 He is the stone rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. 12 There is no salvation through anyone else, nor is there any other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are to be saved.”

P S A L M - Psalm 118:1, 8-9, 21-23, 26, 28, 29
R: The stone rejected by the builders has become the cornerstone.
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his mercy endures forever. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes. (R) 21 I will give thanks to you, for you have answered me and have been my savior. 22 The stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. 23 By the Lord has this been done; it is wonderful in our eyes. (R) 26 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord; we bless you from the house of the Lord. 28 I give thanks to you, for you have answered me and have been my savior. 29 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his kindness endures forever. (R)

2ND READING - 1 John 3:1-2
Beloved: See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God. Yet so we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we shall be has not yet been revealed. We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.

GOSPEL ACCLAMATION
I am the good shepherd, says the Lord; I know my sheep, and mine know me.
John 10:11-18
11 Jesus said: “I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 A hired man, who is not a shepherd and whose sheep are not his own, sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away, and the wolf catches and scatters them. 13 This is because he works for pay and has no concern for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I will lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice, and there will be one flock, one shepherd. 17 This is why the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own. I have power to lay it down, and power to take it up again. This command I have received from my Father.”

SABBATH


WE SHALL SEE HIM AS HE IS

In my more than 30 years as a priest, I have ministered to terminally ill patients, some of whom were close to me. Though hovering close to dying, they lived life to the full, and everything legit that earthly life could offer. Despite being ravaged and debilitated by a cruel disease, they always showed their joie de vivre, as only people of faith knew how.

       A number of them had very clear requests, as they planned carefully for the day that most people would not even hear of. But people of faith are also people of hope. They love as much as they believe and, precisely on account of their faith and charity, nurture every remaining moment of their short lives on earth with the hope of everlasting life.

       My elder sister was one such woman of hope. In her dying days, she asked us not to cry or be sad. She requested us not to take pictures of her as she lay on her deathbed. But she did ask us to pray with her, to pray by ourselves when she could no longer join us, and while still in her lucid moments, she remained for all of us, her younger siblings, the epitome of an excited child, looking forward to going home to the Father.

       I have been blessed by this and many other similar scenarios of loving, faithful and hopeful individuals proclaiming in life — as in their death — the powerful words of John: “See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God.”

       Just two days before Christmas 2013, I witnessed another enviable death of a former student. Tired, sleepy and weary of one Simbang Gabi Mass too many, I was told that he was dying. I didn’t plan to go as the hospital was far from where I was, but I eventually went. And I was glad I did, as I was once again blessed by a faith experience. He taught me in his beautiful death what it means to declare in faith: “We shall see him as he is!” Fr. Chito Dimaranan, SDB

REFLECTION QUESTION: Imagine that you are on your deathbed. Listen to your feelings and thoughts. What dominates them — joy or fear?

I long to see Your face, Lord, not just when my life is over but right here, right now.

St. Pedro de San Jose Betancur, pray for us.

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Friday, April 24, 2015

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Thursday, April 23, 2015

Miracles of the Rosary; The Rosary stops a serial killer 1978


At 3: 00 am on January 15 Bundy entered the Chi Omega sorority house at Florida State University and murdered two girls before heading off to search for more victims. When he entered a third girl’s room with a bat for a weapon, he saw a rosary clutched in her hand, dropped the bat and fled.

Later the girl told authorities that before she left for college she had promised her grandmother that she would pray the rosary every night for protection, even if she fell asleep in the process. This is what she had done that night, and she was still holding the rosary when the murderer entered her room. Bundy later confessed to over thirty murders.

Father Joseph M. Esper says in his book With Mary to Jesus, “Ironically, when Ted Bundy was on death row, awaiting execution for his crimes, he asked Monsignor Kerr to serve as a spiritual counselor, and the priest took the opportunity to ask about that terrible night. Bundy explained that when he entered the girl’s room, he had fully intended on murdering her; some mysterious power was preventing him.”

Father Esper adds, “And not only does it (the rosary) aid our own spiritual growth — it also undermines the kingdom of Satan. The famous Vatican exorcist Father Gabriele Amorth testified, ‘One day a colleague of mine heard the devil say during an exorcism, “Every Hail Mary is like a blow on my head. If Christians knew how powerful the Rosary was, it would be my end.”‘

Pray the rosary daily for protection and to defeat the forces of Satan!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Marcus C. Grodi – What Is Truth?


Marcus Grodi - Founder of CHN

What Is Truth?

Marcus C. Grodi, former Presbyterian minister

I am a former Protestant minister. Like so many others who have trodden the path that leads to Rome by way of that country known as Protestantism, I never imagined I would one day convert to Catholicism.
By temperament and training, I’m more of a pastor than a scholar, so the story of my conversion to the Catholic Church may lack the technical details in which theologians traffic and in which some readers delight. But I hope I will accurately explain why I did what I did, and why I believe with all my heart that all Protestants should do likewise.
I won’t dwell on the details of my early years, except to say that I was raised by two loving parents in a nominally Protestant home. I went through most of the experiences that make up the childhood and adolescence of the typical American baby-boomer.
I was taught to love Jesus and go to church on Sunday. I also managed to blunder into most of the dumb mistakes that other kids in my generation made. But after a season of teenage rebellion, when I was twenty years old, I experienced a radical reconversion to Jesus Christ. I turned away from the lures of the world and became serious about prayer and Bible study.
As a young adult, I made a recommitment to Christ, accepting Him as my Lord and Savior, praying that He would help me fulfill the mission in life He had chosen for me.
The more I sought through prayer and study to follow Jesus and conform my life to His will, the more I felt an aching sense of longing to devote my life entirely to serving Him. Gradually, just as dawn’s first faint rays peek over a dark horizon, the conviction began to grow that the Lord was calling me to be a minister.
That conviction grew steadily stronger while I was in college and then afterward during my job as an engineer. Eventually I couldn’t ignore the call. I was convinced the Lord wanted me to become a minister, so I quit my job and enrolled in Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in suburban Boston. I acquired a Master of Divinity degree and was shortly thereafter ordained to the Protestant ministry.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

A SPECIAL PRAYER IN TIME OF TRIBULATION


O Lord, hear my cry pouring out from a troubled heart. The sorrow which clutches at my soul has driven me to You my protector, my True Friend in time of need. You know, my God, all my failings, my faults and my sins as well as the torment gripping my soul. My greatest sorrow should be for my disregard of Your holy commandments in the past, and I sincerely hope that you will grant me the grace of true contrition.

O my Savior, hide not Your Face from me in this tribulation, let the light of Your Countenance shine upon me that I may be illuminated by Its love. If it be Your will, lighten this burden from me, yet should it be a means of my salvation, help me, help me O Lord, to carry this cross, for alone I can do nothing. 

Radiate Your love upon Your prodigal child O Lord, this beggar who knocks at Your door seeking shelter in Your Sacred Heart; this once proud earthen vessel made of clay seeks You, O Christ, and in a newly found faith, firmly believes that you will receive him in Your limitless Love and Mercy. Amen

Monday, April 20, 2015

The Traditional Case for Capital Punishment


by Father John McCloskey
A group of Catholic publishers recently issued a joint statement urging an end to capital punishment. I have great respect for all of them – I have written for all of them at one point or another. I disagree with them on this issue, however. And it may be good to give some background about why I and many others disagree.
Most importantly, the Catholic Church's Magisterium does not and never has advocated unqualified abolition of the death penalty. The U.S. bishops have conceded that Catholic teaching has accepted the principle that the state has the right to take the life of a person guilty of an extremely serious crime. Even the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin – hardly a conservative – never stated that every criminal has a right to continue living, nor did he deny that the state has the right in some cases to execute the guilty. St. John Paul II, although opposed to most applications of the death penalty, thought the same.
Let's hear what St. Augustine had to say on this topic: " . . . there are some exceptions made by the divine authority to its own law, that men may not be put to death. These exceptions are of two kinds, being justified either by a general law, or by a special commission granted for a time to some individual. And in this latter case, he to whom authority is delegated, and who is but the sword in the hand of him who uses it, is not himself responsible for the death he deals. And, accordingly, they who have waged war in obedience to the divine command, or in conformity with His laws, have represented in their persons the public justice or the wisdom of government, and in this capacity have put to death wicked men; such persons have by no means violated the commandment, You shall not kill." (City of God, Bk I, 21)
Augustine also said that capital punishment protects those who are undergoing it from further sinning, which might continue if their life went on.
If this is not enough, consider the thoughts of the Angelic Doctor, St. Thomas Aquinas, on this topic. Citing Exodus 22, which specifies that certain categories of wrongdoers shall not be permitted to live, Aquinas unequivocally states that civil rulers can execute justly to protect the peace of the state. St. Thomas finds frivolous the argument that murderers should be allowed to live in hopes of their repentance, questioning how many innocent people should have to suffer death while waiting for the guilty to repent. While capital punishment is not justifiable as an act of vengeance, according to Aquinas it is justifiable to help secure the safety of the community by removing a dangerous wrongdoer and deterring others from his example; in addition, it is an act of justice, allowing expiation for the wrongdoer's sin.
St. Paul in his hearing before Festus says, "If then I am a wrongdoer, and have committed anything for which I deserve to die, I do not seek to escape death." (Acts 25:11) Very clearly this constitutes an acknowledgment on the part of the apostle to the gentiles that the state continues to have the power of life and death in the administration of justice. And of course when we first encounter Paul (Saul at that point), he is cooperating in the stoning to death of St. Stephen for the crime of blasphemy.
Pope Pius XII said, "In the case of the death penalty the State does not dispose of the individual's right to life. Rather public authority limits itself to depriving the offender of the good of life in expiation for his guilt, after he, through his crime, deprived himself of his own right to life."
The Catechism of the Council of Trent, composed under the supervision of St. Charles Borromeo, stated: "Far from being guilty of breaking this commandment [Thou shall not kill], such an execution of justice is precisely an act of obedience to it. For the purpose of the law is to protect and foster human life. This purpose is fulfilled when the legitimate authority of the State is exercised by taking the guilty lives of those who have taken innocent lives."
None of the figures mentioned above were bloodthirsty individuals. All probably would have agreed with several modern popes that great care be used in modern conditions in applying the death penalty. But it's doubtful they would have supported abolishing it.
Indeed, for any son or daughter of God, it is a great grace to know the time of one's death, as it gives us the opportunity to get right with the Lord who will judge us at our death. Perhaps many people have been saved in this way by the death penalty. Who knows what would have happened if they had been allowed to linger in this life, one day possibly killing other people?
And there are other, utterly unexpected effects. The great Catholic convert and evangelist Frank Sheed wrote a book called The Map of Life. In one edition of the book, he tells of a man sentenced to death for murder. After reading Sheed's book, the man wrote Sheed that, if what he had put down in that book about heaven and forgiveness was true, though he was offered clemency by the State, he decided to allow the execution, because he would be going to heaven now as a Catholic convert.
First appeared on The Catholic Thing in March, 2015.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Today's Mass Readings - Sunday, April 19, 2015 with Reflection


1ST READING - Acts 3:13-15, 17-19
13 Peter said to the people: “The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our father, has glorified his  servant Jesus whom you handed over and denied in Pilate’s presence, when he had decided to release him. 14 You denied the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. 15 The author of life you put to death, but God raised him from the dead; of this we are witnesses. 17 Now I know, brothers, that you acted out of ignorance, just as your leaders did; 18 but God has thus brought to fulfillment what he had announced beforehand through the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer. 19 Repent, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be wiped away.”

P S A L M - Psalm 4:2, 4, 7-8, 9
R: Lord, let your face shine on us.
1 [2] When I call, answer me, O my just God, you who relieve me when I am in distress; have pity on me, and hear my prayer! (R) 3 [4] Know that the Lord does wonders for his faithful one; the Lord will hear me when I call upon him. (R) 6 [7] O Lord, let the light of your countenance shine upon us! 7 [8] You put gladness into my heart. (R) 8 [9] As soon as I lie down, I fall peacefully asleep, for you alone, O Lord, bring security to my dwelling. (R)

2ND READING - 1 John 2:1-5
My children, I am writing this to you so that you may not commit sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous one. He is expiation for our sins, and not for our sins only but for those of the whole world. 3The way we may be sure that we know him is to keep his commandments. Those who say, “I know him,” but does not keep his commandments are liars, and the truth is not in them. 5But whoever keeps his word, the love of God is truly perfected in him.

GOSPEL ACCLAMATION
Lord Jesus, open the Scriptures to us; make our hearts burn while you speak to us.

Luke 24:35-48
35 The two disciples recounted what had taken place on the way and how Jesus was made known to them in the breaking of the bread. 36 While they were still speaking about this, he stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 37 But they were startled and terrified and thought that they were seeing a ghost. 38 Then he said to them, “Why are you troubled? And why do questions arise in your hearts? 39 Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have.” 40 And as he said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. 41 While they were still incredulous for joy and were amazed, he asked them, “Have you anything here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of baked fish; 43 he took it and ate it in front of them. 44 He said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. 46 And he said to them, “Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day 47 and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things.”

SABBATH


MADE KNOWN IN THE BREAKING OF BREAD

There was a time when footprints only had to do with real feet. As kids, we traced our foot in mud, on sand, or on the newly waxed wooden floor smudged by one’s dusty bare feet. After doing what every kid in the boonies used to do on Saturday mornings — that is, wax and polish the floor — we knew whose feet were the first to spoil our Saturday morning masterpiece. Footprints pointed to the careless and insensitive culprit in the household.

       Today, we talk of carbon footprints, collective signs of humanity’s careless use and abuse of nature. As a certified  “provinciano” (from the province), I have seen the footprints that point to the progressive degradation of the environment in the name of ubiquitous development.

       We also talk now of digital footprints. Our identities are embedded in cyberspace visible to digital sleuths. Our digital footprints are not only our trademarks. They are also the benchmark of who we are in cyberspace, and our impact on the digital natives. Our digital imprints are unique.
       Footprints, whether real or virtual, show who we are and manifest our unique selves. Those in the know, those closest to us, those who belong to the right crowd, can tell easily if it is us or someone else masquerading as us, just by looking at our footprints.

       The two disciples on the way to Emmaus suffered from a memory lapse. Grief, sorrow and disappointment may have blinded them for a while. The Lord did His trademark preaching and explaining, using texts from Scripture. But it was when He did His benchmark act of memorial that everything made sense to the grieving disciples. “Jesus was made known to them in the breaking of the bread.” This was the Risen Lord at His trademark and benchmark best! This was the Savior in His unique spiritual, Eucharistic and unmistakable imprint. “It is the Lord!” Fr. Chito Dimaranan, SDB

REFLECTION QUESTIONS: Whose footprints are you following in your life? Is it safe for others to follow the footsteps you leave behind?

Lord, how good it is that You have left us Your footprints — the Eucharist — to forever nourish us and guide us in our journey.

Blessed Luchesio and Buonadonna, pray for us.

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