Sunday, April 29, 2012

Today's Gospel - April 29, 2012 with Reflection

1ST READING - Acts 4:8-12
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.
1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his mercy endures forever. 8 It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man. 9 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) 26Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord; we bless you from the house of the Lord. 28 I will 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

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.”1st READING 2n


Today the Church celebrates Good Shepherd Sunday. The readings refer to the Good Shepherd, a popular and well-loved image. It is also celebrated as Vocation Sunday where we are encouraged to pray for vocations to priesthood and religious life. The sheep listen to the voice of the shepherd and follow him. Let us pray this day for followers of the Good Shepherd who imitate Him by giving their lives for the sake of the Gospel.
The Father loves Jesus since He lays down His life for His sheep. The Father loves us all, but He is especially drawn to the man and woman who seek a life of loving service. Jesus tells us that He lays His life down freely. His will is completely surrendered to the will of the Father. He knows the Father gives Him power to lay it down and take it up. This is the power of the Resurrection.
By virtue of our baptism, we are called to lay down our life for service in the Kingdom of God. Many are called but few are chosen to the religious life and the call to priesthood. We live in a world that is very egocentric — all about me. The one who follows the Lord as priest or religious is swimming against the tide of the world. So many things claim the attention of the youth today to distract them and turn them away from serving God. So, when we witness and hear a call to the religious life, we are amazed at what the Lord, the Good Shepherd, can achieve in weak human beings whose hearts are open to Him. His is the power at work in them, offering their lives to the glory of His name. Countless men and women have served the Lord in this way. Still the Lord calls His people.
Let us pray for vocations. Let us especially call to mind those whom we know or whom we should approach to discover the call of God in their lives. Perhaps they are waiting to be asked. Sometimes, all it takes is an invitation to consider a call to religious life. It happened to me. It could happen to you. Be open. Fr. Brian Steele, MGL
REFLECTION QUESTION: Are you willing to lay down your life for the Lord in religious, married or single life?
Thank You, Lord, for Your mercy and love. Thank You for calling me to serve You. Amen.
St. Catherine of Siena, virgin and doctor of the Church, pray for us.

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Friday, April 27, 2012

95 Bible verses that confound Protestant


In 1517, the rebel
monk Martin Luther nailed ninety-five
anti-Catholic theses
to a church door in
Germany, igniting a Protestant rebellion that to this day,
continues to confuse
Catholics and lures
many of them out
of the Church.

Now comes Dave Armstrong, countering
Protestant attacks on the Church with
ninety-five pro-Catholic passages from
an authority far greater than Luther:
the Bible itself.
Protestants (and even many Catholics) will be surprised
to see the beliefs of Catholics confirmed so forcefully
by these ninety-five Bible verses.
Not Armstrong!
As a Bible-believing Protestant, he studied Scripture
intently, seeking to come to know God and His will.
There Armstrong encountered so many Catholic verses
that he came to realize that, contrary to popular belief,
the Bible is a Catholic book, a book that:
  • was written by Catholics 
  • was preserved by Catholics for
    1,400 years before Luther was born
    and even today, 

  • confirms the claims of the Catholic Church.
"No wonder," says Armstrong, "early Protestant opinion was
virtually identical to today's Catholic beliefs."
To share his discoveries with others and help them
find the Church that Christ established for them,
Armstrong has now written a remarkable book,
The Catholic Verses: 95 Bible Passages
that Confound Protestants
Catholic Verses cover
Here, with humility and care, Armstrong explains
ninety-five key Bible passages that confound all
who would use Scripture to attack
the Church and Her doctrines.
Nor are these ambiguous passages
plucked from the recesses of the Bible.
On the contrary, each is a major passage:
clear, powerful, and central to
Christ's life and message
in the Bible.
No wonder the Catholic verses in the Bible
have drawn so many serious believers
— including Armstrong — out of their Protestant
congregations and into the Catholic Church.
For in every case, a fair-minded reading
of these passages supports the Catholic position
on the key issues that divide
Protestants from Catholics.
For example, in The Catholic Verses
you'll find incontrovertible Biblical evidence
that Catholicism is right about:
  • The nature of baptism
  • The communion of saints
  • The Eucharist and the Church
  • The authority of the Pope
  • The Bible and tradition
  • The salvific role of faith good works,
    relics, purgatory, and Mary

  • The immorality of divorce
    and contraception

  • And much more.
The Catholic Verses — essential reading
for all who seek to know and understand
God's word in the Bible and to discover
His will for us today.

Catholic Verses cover
The Catholic Verses
95 Bible
that Confound Protestants
by Dave
256 pgs ppbk

Order Here
or call
Sophia Institute Press
Box 5284
NH 03108

Dave Armstrong was a Protestant campus missionary before he
converted to Catholicism in 1991. He is the author of numerous books and has written many articles on the Faith for Catholic periodicals.

The Catholic Verses isn't Dave Armstrong's only book.  
Book jacket
In fact, in A Biblical Defense of Catholicism, Armstrong undertook nearly two decades of study to resolve, once and for all, the core issues that divide Catholics and Protestants:
1. Is the Bible (as Protestants claim) the sole rule of faith? (Or does it actually direct us elsewhere for answers about disputed questions of faith?)
2. Does the Bible teach, as many Protestants claim, that believers can be saved by faith alone? (Or is the Catholic Church right: there's more that we must do.)
3. Does the Bible forbid us to honor Mary? (Or does it explicitly call us to venerate her, as Catholics do?)
4. Does the Bible clearly teach, as Catholics claim, that at the Last Supper (and in the Mass) bread and wine literally become the body and blood of Jesus? Or do they remain just symbols?
5. Does the Bible forbid (or encourage) prayer to saints?
In A Biblical Defense of Catholicism, Armstrong details the surprising discoveries he made — discoveries that will help you see, as Armstrong now does, that Catholicism is the biblical church par excellence, discoveries that will help you convince your friends of this truth, too.
And that's not all!
Book jacket
In Bible Proofs for Catholic Truths, Armstrong gathers under 115 thematic headings all the passages in Scripture relating to key Catholic doctrines.
This arrangement makes it easy for readers to consider systematically — as the Church does — all the parts of the Bible that relate to any particular Catholic belief.
Whether you’re a Protestant seeking to understand Catholicism, or a Catholic wanting to defend Catholic teaching or learn more about its biblical basis, these three books are precisely what you need to understand — and defend — the Catholic Faith more fully.

Set of three books.
Click here to order all three books and save 15%
when you 
enter code HLDA15 at checkout.
(*Shipping not included. Not eligible for any other discount.
Offer ends 4/30/12.

Order online now or call
Sophia Institute Press
Box 5284, Manchester, NH 03108

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Click to donate through paypal or donate directly through our website: www. 

Sophia Institute Press
is the publishing division of

The publishing division of Thomas More College of Liberal Arts and of Holy Spirit College.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Seven Fatima Prayers

 Fatima Crusader (Philippines)

During the course of the apparitions at Fatima, the three child seers were taught five unique and powerful prayers, two by the Angel of Peace and three by the Mother of God. Later, appearing to Sister Lucy at Rianjo, Spain, Our Lord Jesus Christ dictated two further prayers. For millions of people, these prayers are today a living embodiment of the Message of hope and peace which Our Lady gave the world at Fatima.

In the past few years, through the efforts of Our Lady's Apostolate, a pious practice has developed of reciting one (or more) of these prayers on a daily basis. The following schedule of prayers is a suggestion only; please feel free to recite them in any order which you find most comforting and appropriate.

My God, I believe, I adore, I hope and I love You! I ask pardon of You for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope and do not love You!

O Jesus, it is for love of You, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

O my Jesus, forgive us, save us from the fire of hell. Lead all souls to Heaven, especially those who are most in need.

O Most Holy Trinity, I adore You! My God, my God, I love You in the most Blessed Sacrament!

Sweet Heart of Mary, be the salvation of Russia, Spain, Portugal, Europe and the whole world.

By your pure and Immaculate Conception, O Mary, obtain for me the conversion of Russia, Spain, Portugal, Europe and the entire world.

Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Ghost, I offer You the most precious Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, present in all the tabernacles of the world, in reparation for the sacrileges, outrages and indifference by which He Himself is offended. And through the infinite merits of His most Sacred Heart and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I beg of you the conversion of poor sinners."

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

10 Frequently Asked Questions About Fatima

from  Fatima Crusader (Philippines)


The Message of Fatima consists of a number of precise predictions, requests, warnings and promises concerning the Faith and the world which were conveyed by the Blessed Virgin Mary to three shepherd children--Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco--in a series of apparitions at Fatima, Portugal from May to October 1917.


You should believe the Message of Fatima because:

(1) It was confirmed by an unprecedented public miracle, the Miracle of the Sun, which occurred at precisely the moment Lucia said it would. More than 70,000 people, including Masons, communists and atheists, saw the sun, contrary to all cosmic laws, twirl in the sky, throw off colors and descend to earth. The event was reported in newspapers around the world, including the New York Times.

(2) All of the Popes since the Fatima Miracle have recognized that the Message is authentic. Several Popes have gone to Fatima in person, including Paul VI, John Paul I and John Paul II. John Paul II said at Fatima in 1982 that "the Message of Fatima imposes an obligation on the Church."

(3) Many other miracles have been performed by God authenticating the Fatima Message as coming from Him, not only at the time of the Miracle of the Sun, October 13, 1917, but down the years to the present day, miracles of conversions and cures which science cannot explain by natural means.

(4) The Message of Fatima accurately predicted world events, which proves that it is a true prophecy.


The Message of Fatima accurately predicted in 1917 all of the following events which came to pass:

(1) the end of World War I;

(2) the emergence of Russia as a world power which would "spread its errors (including Communism) throughout the world ... raising up wars and persecutions against the Church";

(3) the election of a Pope who would be named Pius XI;

(4) the waging of a second World War following a strange light in the night sky.

The Message of Fatima also predicted that if the requests of the Virgin Mary at Fatima are not honored, many souls will be lost, "the Holy Father will have much to suffer", there will be further wars and persecutions of the Church and "various nations will be annihilated." The annihilation of nations predicted at Fatima has not yet occurred, but many fear that it will soon happen, given the growing immorality and corruption of the world.


At Fatima Our Lady said that God wished to establish in the world devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Our Lady said that many souls would be saved from Hell and the annihilation of nations averted if, in time, devotion to Her Immaculate Heart were established principally by these two means:

1) the Consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary by the Pope together with the world's bishops in a solemn public ceremony, and

(2) the practice of receiving Holy Communion (and other specific devotions of about 1/2 hour in duration) in reparation for the sins committed against the Blessed Virgin Mary, on the first Saturdays of five consecutive months--a practice known to Catholics as "the First Saturday" devotion.


No, not entirely. A number of the Faithful practice the "First Saturday" devotion, but Russia has yet to be consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in a solemn public ceremony conducted by the Pope together with the world's Catholic bishops.

In 1982 the last surviving Fatima seer, Lucia, who is now a cloistered nun living in Coimbra, Portugal, was asked if an attempted consecration by Pope John Paul II had sufficed. She replied that it did not suffice, because Russia was not mentioned and the world's bishops had not participated. Another attempted consecration in 1984 likewise did not mention Russia or involve the participation of many of the world's bishops, and Sister Lucia stated immediately afterwards that this consecration, too, had failed to meet Our Lady's requirements.


It warns that if the requests of Our Lady of Fatima for the Consecration of Russia and the First Saturday devotion are not honored, the Church will be persecuted, there will be other major wars, the Holy Father will have much to suffer and various nations will be annihilated. Many nations will be enslaved by Russian militant atheists. Most important, many souls will be lost.


The Message of Fatima promises that if the requests of Our Lady of Fatima are carried out "My Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to Me, which will be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to mankind."


No, it is not true. We know it is not true because:

(1) On March 25, 1984, after the consecration of the world, Pope John Paul II said twice that Our Lady of Fatima's request for the Consecration of Russia was not done.

(2) Soon after the attempted Consecration of 1984, which did not mention Russia or involve the participation of the world's bishops, Sister Lucia stated it was insufficient because it did not meet the requirements specified to her by Our Lady.

(3) Since 1984 the moral and spiritual state of the world has obviously grown far worse: In the past 14 years there have been 600 million abortions, and wars have broken out all over the world. Mercy-killing and homosexual acts have been "legalized". In Russia itself a new law has just been passed which discriminates against the Catholic Church and in favor of Islam, Buddhism, Judaism and the Orthodox churches which forcibly occupied Catholic parishes under the Communists. Thus it is clear Russia is not converted to the Catholic Faith as Our Lady of Fatima promised would happen if Her request was done.

(4) There have been very few conversions to Catholicism in Russia over the past fourteen years. In all of Russia today there are only 300,000 Catholics--much less than one percent of the Russian population. By comparison, after Our Lady appeared at Guadalupe, Mexico in the 16th Century, more than 7 million Mexicans converted from paganism to the Catholic Faith within nine years and Mexico became a Catholic country.


The Message of Fatima is important to you and your family because it involves the salvation of souls, peace in the world and, if the requests of Our Lady of Fatima are not carried out, the consequences are the annihilation of nations and the enslavement of all mankind under militant atheists of Russia.


No, it is not just a private revelation. It is a public, prophetic revelation given by the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God. It is not to be confused with "Revelation" or as it is also called, the Deposit of the Faith, which ended with the death of the last Apostle. But public, prophetic revelation must not be despised. The Virgin Mary's prophecy was confirmed by a public miracle and authenticated by a whole line of Popes. Also, its predictions have come true.

So, while belief in the Message of Fatima may not strictly be required of Catholics as an article of faith, one would be very foolish to disregard such an obviously authentic message from Heaven. As St. Paul taught: "Despise not prophecies, but prove all things; hold fast to that which is good." (1 Thess. 5:20-21) The prophecy of Fatima has been proven worthy of belief. We should not despise it, but rather hold fast to what Our Lady told us at Fatima.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Today's Gospel Reading - April 22, 2012 with Reflection

1ST READING  - Acts 3:13-15, 17-19
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

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 he 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.” 37But 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.”

We Catholics live in a world of signs. Signs are basically material, ordinary things that point to spiritual and extraordinary realities. Andrew Greeley calls them all as part of the “Catholic imagination.” Objects such as statues, water, oil, bread, wine, candles, incense, and so many others, make up this rich world of sacramentality. They are accessible to touch, smell, taste and hearing. But they point to a whole new world distinct from and higher than the world we are used to.
As a little boy, I looked forward to getting sick. Funny, but I did at times want to be sick because I got special attention from my grandmother. Apart from some special treats that she would get me from the neighborhood store, the most awaited one was her caring touch. She would gently rub my head with her gnarled hands and massage my body all over.
In retrospect, I don’t know exactly at this point whether it was the Medicol (or Cortal) or the natural resiliency of a child that healed me fast enough, but I do know one thing. The healing process was hastened by the loving touch of someone who made me see not my sickness but the love that ultimately healed me of other things worse than a raging fever.
Our loving and saving God touches us in both the natural and supernatural planes. This happened when He became one like us. This still happens when we partake of this whole complex of signs that the sacraments of salvation are. We get to the level of the supernatural by passing through the world of the natural.
The Gospel passage today invites us to do what we often take for granted: to go and touch the Lord the way He wanted us to — approach the sacraments, be healed by His loving forgiveness in confession, reach out and touch Him bodily, sacramentally, spiritually and truly in the Holy Eucharist, hear His mystical Body, the Church, and rally behind Her teachings. Taste and see the goodness of the Lord. “Touch and see!” Fr. Chito Dimaranan, SDB
REFLECTION QUESTIONS: What is your form of connection to God? How do you feel and touch Him?
Lord Jesus, thank You for giving us the sacraments that allow us to reach out and feel Your care and love for us.
St. Adalbert of Prague, pray for us.

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Friday, April 20, 2012

Quick Catholic answers to Bible-quoting foes

Catholic answers

to common Protestant challenges

If you're looking for solid Catholic answers to common Protestant challenges, but don't have lots of time, reach for The One-Minute Apologist.
One Minute Apologist jacket
Here renowned Catholic apologist Dave Armstrong (author of A Biblical Defense of Catholicism and The Catholic Verses) has assembled over sixty of the arguments that Protestants (of all stripes) most frequently
level against the Church.
Using the Bible, and in just two pages each, Armstrong decisively refutes common Protestant claims such as that:
The Bible is the only infallible source
of theological truth

• Peter is not the "rock" to which Jesus referred

• Celibacy for priests is unnatural and unbiblical

• The Catholic Mass is an abomination

• True Christian believers cannot fall away from salvation

• Mary had other children besides Jesus

• Indulgences allow Catholics to "indulge" in sin

• Venerating the saints is a form of idolatry
Drawing on a lifetime of study -- in Scripture, history,
and the works of Catholic and Protestant theologians -- Armstrong delivers the essential Catholic replies to each
of these claims, and to more than 50 other pervasive Protestant objections to Catholic doctrine and practice.
Packing centuries of learning and wisdom into just a few tightly structured pages, The One-Minute Apologist deals with major criticisms of Catholic teachings about:
 The Church
 The Papacy
 The Priesthood
 The Sacraments
• Mary and the Saints
 The Theology of God
 And much more!
And since he's a convert from Evangelicalism, Armstrong presents anti-Catholic claims with an insider's accuracy -- using the special terms, references, and follow-up arguments that you're mostly likely to hear in real-world encounters -- and he responds to them in a way Protestants can understand and appreciate.
The One-Minute Apologist is concise, but never superficial. It quotes or cites more than a thousand Scripture verses,along with the words of scores of saints and scholars -- including many respected Protestant sources.
More accessible than thick theological tomes, more substantial than tracts, and better organized than other "quick answer" books, The One-Minute Apologist 
is the one source you'll turn to whenever you need to explain the Faith, or defend it quickly, credibly, and well.

One Minute Apologist jacketThe One-Minute Apologist:
Essential Catholic Replies
to Over Sixty Protestant Claims

by Dave Armstrong
160 pages ppbk $18.95

Dave Armstrong is a Catholic writer, apologist, and evangelist who has been actively proclaiming and defending Christianity for more than twenty years. Formerly a campus missionary, as a Protestant, Armstrong was received into the Catholic Church in 1991 by the late, well-known catechist and theologian
Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.
Order The One Minute Apologisttoday along with the The One Minute Philosopher and save 15%!
The One Minute Philosopher shows you how to understand and explain -- in less than a minute each -- over 175 fundamental notions that form the basis of any truly fulfilling human life.
By reading this book, you will learn why truth is more than just someone's opinion, and you will understand the difference between justice and law ... love and lust ... judgment and prejudice ... equality and fairness ... happiness and pleasure ... and many other key realities of daily life that are often confused with one another.
Set of both books.
Click here to order BOTH books and save 15%
when you e
nter code HLAOM15 at checkout.
(*Shipping not included. Not eligible for any other discount.
Offer ends 4/22/12.

Order online now or call
Sophia Institute Press
Box 5284, Manchester, NH 03108

We always welcome contributions to our non-profit apostolate. If you would prefer not to use the PayPal button below, you can add a contribution  directly to your shopping cart at our on-line store.

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Sophia Institute Press
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The publishing division of Thomas More College of Liberal Arts and of Holy Spirit College.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Prayer to The Healing Heart of Jesus

Healing Heart Of Jesus
By expressing our deep faith before You
Love us and forgive our unworthiness
Englighten and direct our troubled minds
Strengthen and energize our vulnerable  bodies
Sanctify and purify our restless spirits.

Allow Your healing energies to penetrate and
Nourish our minds, bodies and spirits as You
Deliver us from evil and any kind of sickness.

Hear our prayers and bestow Your blessings upon us
Empower and inspire us in times of our woundedness
Lead and accompany us in times of our difficulties.

Unconditionally, may we also love and serve You
So be it...... through Your Healing Heart.


(in silence, with all humility mention your petition.....
then pray 1 Our Father, 3 Hail Mary's, 1 Glory be and
say Jesus 12 times.)

HEALING HEART OF JESUS, have mercy on us!

       Heart of Jesus Healing Ministry
Archdiocese of San Fernando, Pampanga, Philippines

Nihil Obstat : Rt. Rev. Msgr. Jose R. dela Cruz, STD, JCB
Imprimatur   : Most Rev. Paciano B. Aniceto, D.D.
Date            : Feat of St. Clare of Assisi (August 11, 2004)

(If you experience healing through this prayer, you can send your
testimony at

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Today's Gospel Reading - April 15, 2012 with Psalm and Reflection

Today is Divine Mercy Sunday. The Feast of the Divine Mercy.

1ST READING - Acts 4:32-35

P S A L M - Psalm 118:2-4, 13-15, 22-24

R: Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, his love is everlasting.
Let the house of Israel say, “His mercy endures forever.” 3Let the house of Aaron say, “His mercy endures forever.” 4Let those who fear the Lord say, “His mercy endures forever.” (R) 13 I was hard pressed and was falling, but the Lord helped me. 14 My strength and my courage is the Lord, and he has been my savior. 15 The joyful shout of victory in the tents of the just: (R) 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. 24 This is the day the Lord has made; let us be glad and rejoice in it. (R)
2ND READING - 1 John 5:1-6

You believe in me, Thomas, because you have seen me, says the Lord; blessed are those who have not seen me, but still believe!
John 20:19-31
19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.” 24Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples said to him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nailmarks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” 26Now a week later his disciples were again inside and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, although the doors were locked, and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe.” 28 Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.” 30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples that are not written in this book. 31 But these are written that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in his name.GOSPEL PSALM



The second Sunday of Easter always has as its main character Thomas, who was made famous, or infamous, by his refusal to  believe: “Unless I see the scars of the nails in his hands and put my finger in those scars and my hand in his side” (John 20:25). But Thomas was more than just a doubting Apostle. The synoptic Gospels may be scant in their accounts of Thomas’ exploits, but John was more generous in giving Thomas coverage in his account of the life of Jesus and His disciples.

In John 11, Jesus learned of the death of His close friend Lazarus who was in Bethany. The disciples knew that Bethany was a dangerous place for Jesus. Some hostile men have already attempted to stone Him there. When Jesus insisted that they go to His friend Lazarus, Thomas bravely said, “Let us all go along with the Teacher, so that we may die with him” (John 11:16). This is a clear indication of the kind of stuff that Thomas was made of. He was a man who was loyal to his master and would go to great lengths to show his faith and fidelity to Him.

In John 14, the simplicity of Thomas’ faith and his honesty in inquiring, “Lord, we do not know where you are going, how can we know the way?” (John 16:5) paved the way to one of the more important self pronouncements of Jesus, “I am the way, the truth and the Life” (John14:6).

But it’s in the third time that John mentions him that Thomas is forever dubbed as the Doubter (cf. John 20:19-31). It is a scene that we should all be familiar with, lest we fall into the same malady. Thomas was not in the Upper Room, the place where the rest of the disciples were as they mourned the loss of their beloved Master, but Thomas chose to dwell on his sorrow alone. And because he was away, he failed to see what the rest of them saw. This is a great teaching about the importance of Christian fellowship. Christ is present in His mystical body, His church, and its members will do well in experiencing and seeing Jesus as they live within its communion. Fr. Sandy V. Enhaynes
REFLECTION QUESTION: Do you belong to a community? If not, what’s keeping you from joining one?
Lord Jesus, lead me to the right community for me.

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Friday, April 13, 2012

St. Therese, the hermit, and the bet you'll surely lose

Some years ago,
a young man visited
a hermit with a reputation
for great holiness, seeking
to learn from him.
This desert father
taught the young man
many ways to pray.

One day the disciple asked,
"What can I do to attain God?"
The master responded,
"What can you do
to make the sun rise?"

The young man grew angry:
"Then why are you teaching me
all these different ways of praying?"

With great patience,
the hermit explained,
"To make sure you're awake
when the sun rises."
* * *
Awake when the sun rises?
Once there was a farmer traveling
with St. Bernard, who asked the holy abbot
why he kept his eyes downward instead of
looking at the beautiful countryside.
"To avoid distractions while I pray,"
responded Bernard.
"I'm never distracted when I pray,"
boasted the farmer.
"Let's make a bet,"
said the saint:
"'If you can say the Our Father 
without one distraction,
I'll give you this mule I'm riding.'"
The farmer agreed and
began praying aloud,
"Our Father, who art in Heaven,
hallowed be Thy name . . . ."
Then he paused,
looked at St. Bernard,
and said, "Does that include
the saddle and bridle, too?"
* * *
Saintly Solutions tells these two charming stories, and then relates how St. Thérèse of Lisieux kept herself awake
until the sun rose and transformed her own
distractions into spiritual gold:
"While praying I have many distractions,"Thérèse admitted, "but as soon as
I'm aware of them, I pray for those people,
the thought of whom is diverting my attention. 
In this way, they reap the benefit
of my distractions."
St. Thérèse's wise remedy for distractionsin prayer is just one of more than 1,000
solutions to common spiritual problems
found in this book, and every one of them
comes directly from a saint (which is
why it's called Saintly Solutions).
* * *
So many are the helpful tales
in this 400-page book, and so helpful are they
each and every one, that as St. Bernard did
with the farmer, we'll make a bargain with you:
If you can read any page of this book
without encountering spiritual advice
which is immediately helpful to you,
we'll give you the book for free.
"Does that include
postage and handling, too?"
You bet!

* * *
But hold on a moment
before you accept our wager!
On page 70 of Saintly Solutions,
St. Francis de Sales tells us:

"Always be impartial and just.
When you buy, act as though
you were the seller, and when you sell,
act as though you were the buyer,
and you will buy and sell with justice."
O.K. That means we've got to warn
you about how much wisdom is packed
into this powerful volume.
For starters, glance at the list of saints
in the left and right margins of this page.
(Have you heard of more than a few of them?)
These jampacked pages bring you
over a thousand tales by or about
these holy men and women,
or quotes by them, with many of
these saints appearing scores of times
as they show us how to deal with
the manifold problems that afflict us
as we seek to know God and love Him.
That's an average of
three saints a page!
* * *
Do you still want to take our bet?
Even when we tell you that
among the scores of topics discussed by
these saints are the following,
some of which you surely struggle with (as do we):
Anger, anxiety, argumentativeness, boredom, broken friendships, business difficulties, conception and pregnancy difficulties, concern for departed loved ones, criticism, depression, dishonesty, distractions during prayer, distrust in god, doubts, drunkenness, envy, failure, false accusations, family difficulties, financial difficulties, giving up, gloominess, gluttony, gossip, greed, grief, guilt, illness, impatience, irreligious children, irritations, judgmentalness, loneliness, lust, marital problems, old age, pride, profanity, self-indulgence, sloth, spiritual dryness, tardiness, temptations, timidity and aggressiveness, uncertainty, unforgiveness, unpopularity, and many others.
* * *
Will you still want to bet after we tell you
that Fr. Esper, who gathered these tales and
passages from the saints, appends to each chapter
a section he calls Something You Might Try
(addressed to readers of this book in particular)?
For each topic, he includes a list of books for
Further Reading
 (from Scripture, the classics
of our Faith, and Contemporary Works).
And he ends each section with a Prayer 
to help you overcome the difficulties
and acquire the virtues that are the
focus of the saints in each section.
* * *
After all this talk of hundreds of saints
and thousands of quotes, were you to ask us
(as the young man asked the hermit),
"What can I do to attain God?,"
we would say back to you:

What can you do
to make the sun rise?"

So why are we trying to convince you
to turn to the wisdom of the hundreds
of saints in this book?
To make sure you're awake
when the sun rises.
* * *
And you know what?
If we fail to convince you that
Saintly Solutions will help
you do that,
that's o.k.
We'll just open our own copy to page 103
and listen to the consoling words
of Mother Teresa found there:
"God does not call us to be successful;
He calls us to be faithful."
In trying to convince you of the importance
of Saintly Solutions to your spiritual life,
we may not have been successful,
but we have been faithful.
May God bless you!

Sophia Institute Press
Saintly Solutions Cover
Saintly Solutions
to Life's Common Problems 

by Fr. Joseph Esper
400 pages ppbk $21.95
Can you believe that Fr. Esper compiled
TWO books filled with saintly solutions?  
Set of both books.
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