Monday, September 30, 2013

Materialism robs us of our humanity, warns Pope Francis

By Kerri Lenartowick

.- Pope Francis celebrated Mass in cloudy St. Peter’s Square this morning, cautioning the faithful against the danger of losing their personal identity to materialism.

“Whenever material things, money, worldliness, become the center of our lives, they take hold of us, they possess us; we lose our very identity as human beings,” he said on September 29.

Sunday’s Mass was held at the close of an international weekend conference in Rome for catechists during the year of faith.

The Pope explained that Christians must be on guard against “the danger of complacency, comfort, worldliness in our lifestyles and in our hearts, of making our well-being the most important thing in our lives.”

When materialism takes over, we “end up becoming self-absorbed and finding security in material things which ultimately rob us of our face, our human face.”

The human person is “made in the image and likeness of God, not in the image and likeness of material objects, not in that of idols!” he exclaimed.

Too much concern for material things can lead us to “lose the memory of God.”  With this forgetfulness, Christians “become empty; like the rich man in the Gospel, we no longer have a face!”

Mary serves as an example for all because she maintains the remembrance of God.
Moreover, Mary “sees God’s wondrous works in her life but doesn’t think about honor, prestige or wealth; she doesn’t become self-absorbed,” noted the Pope.

Instead, she goes to help others.

When Mary visits her cousin Elizabeth after the Annunciation, Pope Francis said, she recalls “God’s work, God’s fidelity in her own life, in the history of her people.”

Christian catechists should seek to be like Mary, putting the remembrance of God “at the service of proclamation, not to be important, not to talk about himself or herself, but to talk about God, about his love and his fidelity.”

“The catechist, then, is a Christian who is mindful of God, who is guided by the memory of God in his or her entire life and who is able to awaken that memory in the hearts of others,” explained the Pontiff.

Yet, “this is not easy!” he acknowledged. “It engages our entire existence!”

The work of the catechist is not merely his or her own work, Pope Francis reminded the congregation. 

Rather, the gift of faith in our lives “contains our own memory of God’s history with us, the memory of our encountering God who always takes the first step, who creates, saves, and transforms us.”

An estimated 600 priests were vested for the mass, as well as cardinals and bishops from around the world, including Archbishop Rino Fisichella, President of the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization, and Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston, who is part of the group of eight cardinals appointed to advise the Pope on possible reforms to the Roman Curia.

Pope Francis concluded Mass with the traditional noon Angelus prayer and greeted the various groups present. 

He particularly thanked His Beatitude John X, the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, for his presence at the liturgy. He called the Patriarch “my brother.”
The Pope then greeted the cheering pilgrims from his Popemobile, stopping to bless babies and the disabled.

The crowds were so large that they spilled out of St. Peter’s Square, filling Via della Conciliazione, the street leading to the square.  Hand-painted flags waved with messages like “thank you for having called us” and “we go to serve without fear.”  Many people wore “Year of Faith” scarves around their necks.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Today's Mass Readings - Sunday, September 29, 2013 with Reflection

1ST READING - Amos 6:1, 4-7 (or Daniel 7:9-10.13-14 or Revelation 12:7-12)
Thus says the Lord the God of hosts: Woe to the complacent in Zion! Lying upon beds of ivory, stretched comfortably on their couches, they eat lambs taken from the flock, and calves from the stall! Improvising to the music of the harp, like David, they devise their own accompaniment. 6They drink wine from bowls and anoint themselves with the best oils; yet they are not made ill by the collapse of Joseph!Therefore, now they shall be the first to go into exile, and their wanton revelry shall be done away with.
P S A L M - Psalm 146:7, 8-9, 9-10 (or Psalm 138:1-2, 2-3, 4-5)
R: Praise the Lord, my soul!
Blessed is he who keeps faith forever, secures justice for the oppressed, gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets captives free. (R) The Lord gives sight to the blind; the Lord raises up those that were bowed down. The Lord loves the just; the Lord protects strangers. (R) The fatherless and the widow he sustains, but the way of the wicked he thwarts. 10The Lord shall reign forever; your God, O Zion, through allgenerations. Alleluia. (R)
2ND READING - 1 Timothy 6:11-16
11 But you, man of God, pursue righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience, and gentleness. 12 Compete well for the faith. Lay hold of eternal life, to which you were called when you made the noble confession in the presence of many witnesses. 13 I charge you before God, who gives life to all things, and before Christ Jesus, who gave testimony under Pontius Pilate for the noble confession, 14 to keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearance of our Lord Jesus Christ 15 that the blessed and only ruler will make manifest at the proper time, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, and whom no human being has seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal power. Amen.
Though our Lord Jesus Christ was rich, he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich.
Luke 16:19-31 (or John 1:47-51)
19 Jesus said to the Pharisees: “There was a rich man who dressed in purple garments and fine linen and dined sumptuously each day. 20 And lying at his door was a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, 21 who would gladly have eaten his fill of the scraps that fell from the rich man’s table. Dogs even used to come and lick his sores. 22 When the poor man died, he was carried away by angels to the bosom of Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried,23 and from the netherworld, where he was in torment, he raised his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. 24 And he cried out, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me. Send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am suffering torment in these flames.’ 25Abraham replied, ‘My child, remember that you received what was good during your lifetime while Lazarus likewise received what was bad; but now he is comforted here, whereas you are tormented. 26 Moreover, between us and you a great chasm is established to prevent anyone from crossing who might wish to go from our side to yours or from your side to ours.’ 27 He said, ‘Then I beg you, father, send him to my father’s house, 28 for I have five brothers, so that he may warn them, lest they too come to this place of torment.’29 But Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the prophets. Let them listen to them.’ 30 He said, ‘Oh no, father Abraham, but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ 31Then Abraham said, ‘If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead.’ ”



Today’s Gospel has become the basis of the Theology of Crumbs popularized by the Archbishop Emeritus of Manila, Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales whose brainchild, Pondo ng Pinoy, finds its inspiration from the story of the rich man and Lazarus. The rich man would feast at his table while Lazarus was at his doorsteps, waiting for the crumbs that would fall from his table. But he was deprived even of the crumbs. Dogs would occasionally come and lick the sores on Lazarus’s body. Finally, both Lazarus and the rich man died. Lazarus went to the bosom of Abraham where he found his just reward while the rich man went to the netherworld where he experienced indescribable torment.

       It is clear that Lazarus, who suffered in silence and lived a destitute life without any complaint, was given the reward of a much-deserved afterlife. His only concern for survival were the crumbs which, ironically, were taken away from him due to the rich man’s indifference and insensitivity.

       The rich man went to the netherworld because he already had his fill on earth. He was not punished because he was rich but because he failed to feel the needs of those who were asking for his help. He could have given a portion of his bountiful meal to the beggar, but he chose not to.

       The First Reading speaks of complacency of people who lay upon beds of ivory, drinking the best wine and anointing themselves with costly oil. The Second Reading suggests that we should “pursue righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience, and gentleness.”

       Paul’s challenge to Timothy is to “compete well for the faith.” And it can only be achieved if we learn to share whatever we have, not those we do not need but the ones important to us. Competing for the faith means painfully sharing a part of ourselves to others.

       Learn to share. And share more. It’s the beginning of a grand investment and you’ll be assured of a real good life — in the bosom of Abraham! Fr. Erick Y. Santos, OFS
REFLECTION QUESTION: How do you follow in your life the principles of Pondo ng Pinoy?
Lord, show me Lazarus every day that I may be able to feed and nourish him. Amen.

Sts. Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, archangels, pray for us.

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Saturday, September 28, 2013

Demonic or diseased? How the Church decides

Sr. Marie-Thérèse Noblet

Unhinged or unholy?

Fiend or fraud?

That’s what authorities had to decide about the Carmelite nun Marie-Thérèse Noblet (1889-1930).

She suffered sudden diseases that were as suddenly cured, chokings, night beatings, unclean visions of blasphemous scenes, violent shakes witnessed by onlookers, foul assaults from filthy beasts, including one she recalled as “full of terrible beauty with eyes full of hate.”

Sr. Jeanne of the Angels
Then there’s Sr. Jeanne of the Angels, the 17th-century prioress of her Ursuline convent, plagued by diabolical visits with an explicitly erotic element, which spread, epidemic-like, to the Ursuline sisters under her care, whose convulsive attacks and obscene contortions scandalized all who witnessed them.

Were these sisters possessed?


Or merely deceitful?

That’s the first question exorcists must answer — the question addressed in True or False Possession? by the world-famous French neuropsychiatrist Jeanne Lhermitte, a man not only conversant with the tangled workings of the human mind but also a pious Catholic, convinced that demons exist and that they can — and do — afflict and even infest humans.

Genuine demonic possessions, admits Lhermitte, evade the explanations and exceed the competence of even the wisest physicians: they must not be handled in the clinic, but by the Church.  At the same time, exorcisms will not help the symptoms of those who are mentally ill.
With sober clarity and reserve, he reviews the detailed clinical records of scores of cases that alarmed our forefathers as well as the cases of people he’s examined personally.

By means of these cases, Lhermitte illuminates the criteria the Church holds to be decisive signs of genuine possession . . . and those other cases that assure us that the influence of the demon is sought in vain—despite the filth and fits, shrieks and slobbering.

"If you want to know the difference between true demonic possession and mental illness, then this is the book for you."
Msgr. John Cihak, S.T.D.
Pontifical Gregorian University

"This book is essential reading for anyone involved in the Church's ministry of exorcism, and for readers who want to better understand the mysterious phenomenon of demonic possession."
Dr. Aaron Kheriaty
Author of The Catholic Guide to Depression

"This book contains much to be considered both by medical experts as well as those engaged by the Church in deliverance ministry."
Abbot Eugene J. Hayes
St. Michael's Norbertine Abbey

"As a psychiatrist, Lhermitte builds on the Catholic understanding of true possession and helps to treat the always troubling mixture of illness, sinfulness, and the demonic present in such patients."
Rev. Dennis McManus
St. John the Evangelist Seminary


True or False Possession?:
How to Distinguish the Demonic from the Demented

List Price: $14.99  -  160 pages
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In Who is the Devil?, Nicolas Corte gives you incontrovertible proof that Satan exists, that he and his legions of devils assault you daily, and that by means of relentless attacks — overwhelming and subtle — they intend to corrupt you, damn you, and drag you into Hell along with those you love and all the rest of mankind.
With God’s help — and the help of the good angels, who are truly your friends and guardians — you can repel the Devil; but to succeed, you must first come to understand Satan’s devious ways and recognize his subtle paths of attack. Armed with that knowledge, which Nicolas Corte gives you here, you’ll soon be able to identify temptations early and equip yourself to repel them long before they grow strong enough to overthrow you.
Soon, the Devil’s trials will cease to be for you occasions of sin, becoming instead (as they did for scores of saints) providential opportunities for genuine spiritual victories. In the pages of Who is the Devil? Nicolas Corte will also show you:
  • Why, if you are Christian, you must believe in devils
  • Your own personal devil? Did you know it’s not just Satan trying to bring you down?
  • A simple way to banish fear of the Devil . . . no matter how scarlet your sins
  • How far the “kingdom of Satan” extends into this world (You’ll be surprised!)
  • Why even as we fall into sin, we remain “like unto angels”
  • How some angels sinned, and why — unlike our sins — theirs are unforgiveable
  • Witches and sorcerers: the powers they don’t really have (and the dangerous ones they do!)
  • How, long before the Internet, the Devil assaulted St. Anthony with obscene images. The saint repelled them (and shows how we can, too)
  • Satanism: what it really is and how — unknowingly — even ordinary folks like us fall into it
  • Exorcisms and the priests who perform them: actual cases considered
  • The eye-opening dangers of Black Magic and Black Masses
  • The even greater perils involved in doubting Satan’s existence
  • Finally: how, despite the subtlety and raw power of Satan and his minions, you can be assured of salvation

Order the set HERE
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Friday, September 27, 2013

Pope: Digital domain needs loving dialogue, not spiritual engineers

By Carol Glatz
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Helping the church get the Gospel message out to the digital world depends more on a loving passion for reaching out to others than being tech savvy or a verbal warrior, Pope Francis told Catholic communicators.

"I believe that the goal is to understand how to enter into dialogue with the men and women of today in order to appreciate their desires, their doubts and their hopes," he said in his talk Sept. 21.

Despite the temptation that exists today, dialogue and bringing people to Christ have nothing to do with hounding others into submission in a kind of "theological brainwashing," he said.

The pope's comments, which included a number of off-the-cuff remarks, came during a special audience with participants of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications' plenary assembly meeting Sept. 19-21 at the Vatican. The discussions focused on the church and digital communication.

In a world of rapidly changing methods of communication, "the issues are not principally technological," the pope said.

He said it is important "to know how to dialogue and, with discernment, to use modern technologies and social networks in such a way as to reveal a presence that listens, converses and encourages."

Some people "sometimes feel let down by a Christianity that to them appears sterile and in difficulty as it tries to communicate the depth of meaning that comes with the gift of faith," the pope said.

He emphasized that meeting Christ requires a personal encounter that cannot be forced or engineered.

"We have a great temptation in the church today" to engage in "spiritual harassment, the manipulation of conscience, a theological brainwashing," which, in the end, he said, only leads people to an encounter with Christ in name only and not with the living person of the Lord.

Meeting Christ involves the living Christ and the individual experiencing the encounter, "not what's wanted by the 'spiritual engineer,' who wants to manipulate people," the pope said.

"Are we up to the task of bringing Christ into this area and of bringing others to meet Christ," he asked.

People are searching for the "precious treasure" of the Gospel, which brings light and hope to a world that often lacks meaning, direction and purpose, he said.

Communicators need to portray "the face of a church, which is 'home' to all," and convey the beauty of faith and joy of meeting Christ.

"The church must warm the hearts of men and women. Do our presence and plans measure up to this requirement?" he said, "or do we remain mired in technicalities?"

"Thorough and adequate formation" is key, he said, because religious and lay Catholic communicators need to be able to venture into the darkness of indifference without losing their way; "to listen to (people's) dreams without being seduced; to share their disappointments without becoming despondent; to sympathize with those whose lives are falling apart without losing our own strength and identity," he said.

In fact, "we ourselves are means of communication," he said and "the real problem does not concern the acquisition of the latest technologies, even if these make a valid presence possible."

No matter how outdated or inadequate the tools, God loves people so much that he "wants to reveal himself through the means at our disposal, however poor they are, because it is he who is at work, he who transforms and saves us," he said.

The pope ended his talk by asking for people's prayers "because I have this mission, too," of communicating Christ to the world.

Toronto Cardinal Thomas Collins told Catholic News Service that "in many ways we're made to be analog Christians in a digital world."

The digital world is in many ways very abstract, and it can be isolating and disorienting," he said. While it has many benefits, people cannot forget that human beings are meant "to be in relationship, personal relationship" with others.

Analog, he said, comes from "'analogy,' which means connectedness, relationship, and we always have to maintain that."

Christians need to keep real human connections and personal presence alive "in the midst of a world which, if left to itself and its own dynamics, will dry us out, make us abstract and disconnect us from one another."

Basilian Father Thomas Rosica, CEO of Salt and Light Television and adviser to the social communications' council, said the pope "is the best example of what the new evangelization is all about."

The priest said the pope's success in making the media pay attention does not stem from studying communication theories.

"He didn't hire an ad company or a public relations firm, he is communicating with his person, the credibility of his person, the gestures, the desire to be with people," Father Rosica said.

The pope "has put a lot of us to shame because we can spin our theories, but as long as we continue to do that without establishing human relationships, all of our efforts are in vain," he said.

"What he's doing is he's touching the hearts of people, and the world has stopped and the world is listening," said the priest.

Greg Erlandson, president and publisher of Our Sunday Visitor Publishing Division, said Catholic communicators can learn some lessons from Pope Francis.

"We have to live the faith in a very authentic way and a very physical way. We can't just write encyclicals about it, we just can't issue documents about it," he said.

However, this personal approach is not new to Christianity, "it's really the witness of the Gospel, the Acts of the Apostles, so maybe we have to keep rediscovering this," he said.


Copyright (c) 2013 Catholic News Service/USCCB. All rights reserved.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Pope Benedict challenges atheist, says he never hid abuse cases

By Carol Glatz
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- In a letter to an atheist Italian mathematician, retired Pope Benedict XVI defended his own handling of allegations of the sexual abuse of minors by clergy and politely criticized the logician's total reliance on scientific facts for meaning.

"I never sought to conceal these things," the pope said of cases of clerical abuse, and lamented the scholar depicting the church as the only place where such "deviation" and "filth" occur.

The publication of the retired pope's comments Sept. 24 to an atheist scholar came the same month a written letter by Pope Francis to an Italian journalist concerning dialogue with nonbelievers was published. Both letters were published, with the two popes' permission, by the Italian daily La Repubblica.

The paper released long excerpts of Pope Benedict's original 11-page response to Piergiorgio Odifreddi, a prolific science writer who authored the book, "Dear Pope, I Write to You" in 2011. The book, presented as a letter to Pope Benedict, proposes the superiority of a worldview in which belief should stem only from things that can be understood and empirically known over worldviews that include belief in things that cannot be fully understood or known.

The pope's response, dated Aug. 30, thanked Odifreddi for seeking to juxtapose his ideas against the pope's own writings "and, thus, with my faith."

The pope, who has long engaged in dialogue with nonbelievers, most notably with his "Courtyard of the Gentiles" initiative and his 2011 Assisi gathering, said he appreciated Odifreddi's efforts to engage in a frank and open dialogue with the Catholic faith.

However, the pope said he met "with deep dismay" Odifreddi's unspecified comments about the clerical abuse scandals.

The pope, who was the first pontiff to meet with abuse victims, had spoken out forcefully against "the filth" in the church, clarified church laws to expedite cases, and mandated bishops' conferences put in place stringent norms against abuse, among a number of other initiatives.

In his letter, the pope said he never tried to cover up allegations.

"That the power of evil seeps all the way into the inner world of the faith is a source of suffering for us." Not only must the church bear the burden of this evil, but it also must "do everything possible so that such cases never repeat themselves," he wrote.

While there "is no reason to find solace in the fact that, according to research by sociologists, the percentage of priests guilty of these crimes is no higher than those present in other similar professional fields," neither should people "ostensibly present this deviation as if it were filth pertaining only to Catholicism," Pope Benedict wrote.

Just as it is wrong "to be silent about the evil in the church," it is wrong to remain silent about the good, holy and loving service the church has offered, he said.

Pope Benedict said he read Odifreddi's book "with pleasure and benefit."

However, he also offered some sharp criticisms against Odifreddi's arguments as well as his neglect of and lack of explanation for very real and observable phenomena such as love, liberty and evil.

The pope said it was curious that someone like Odifreddi, who considers theology to be nothing but "science fiction," would even consider the pope's works as "worthy of such a detailed discussion."

The retired pope said one of the things the two men have in common is a belief in a First Cause to the universe, only Odifreddi replaces God with "Nature" as the origin.

"But the question remains, who or what is this nature," the pope asked.

Nowhere does the scholar offer a definition, making "it appear, therefore, as an irrational divinity that explains nothing."

Concerning Odifreddi's "religion of mathematics," the pope said nowhere does this belief system consider three major human realities: "freedom, love and evil."

"I'm amazed that with just one stroke you eliminate freedom, which has existed and is the fundamental principle of the modern era."

"Whatever neurobiology says or doesn't say about freedom, this is present as a decisive reality in the actual unfolding of our history, and it must be taken into consideration."

Odifreddi's religion of mathematics also lacks any thought or discussion about love and evil, too, the pope said.

"A religion that neglects these fundamental questions remains empty," he said.

The pope, who has also long-supported the compatibility of faith and science as both being dedicated to the truth, underlined that the task of theology is to keep religion and reason closely connected.

One without the other will lead to certain dangerous "pathologies" in either religion or reason, he said.

Pope Benedict said science fiction exists in many areas of science, especially in some theories about the beginning and end of the world.

"I would define (Odifreddi's thoughts on this) as science fiction in the good sense of the word -- they are views and forecasts in order to reach real understanding, but they are, in fact, only (products of) imagination with which we try to get closer to reality."

The pope also gave Odifreddi some recommended readings to address the mathematician's doubts about being able to know anything for certain about the historical figure of Jesus.

Just because there is shoddy research out there "doesn't compromise the importance of serious historical research," which has brought real and certain knowledge about the figure of Jesus, the pope said.

He said "historical-critical exegesis is necessary for faith, which doesn't propose myths" out of historical figures and events, but demands a history that is based on truth and facts, and presents such findings with scientific rigor.

"All of my efforts have been aimed at showing how the Jesus described in the Gospels is also the real historical Jesus; that it is history that has really taken place," Pope Benedict said, referring to his writings on Jesus of Nazareth.

The pope ended his letter admitting he may have been harsh in some of his criticisms, but that "frankness is part of dialogue."


Copyright (c) 2013 Catholic News Service/USCCB. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

About Scripture memorization....

Hey it's Don and Dawn here again.
There was once a restaurant that had a very peculiar promotion for their “All you can eat” buffet. 

If you can eat in 30 minutes or less, you get a 50% discount on the final tab. 

People rushed to the restaurant hoping to avail of such a treat. 

You can see the place packed with people who rushed towards the food line, dumped the food on their plats, and ate like it was a marathon.
Most people finished eating in less than 30 minutes and only paid half the price. 

A TV reported interview one of the patrons after he ate. He said that, as much as he paid half the price, he did not enjoy his meal because he was in a hurry.
He just stuffed everything in his mouth. He was too conscious of the clock rather than tasting the goodness of every bite. 

Sometimes, that is how we treat reading the Bible. 

We open up the book hoping to find an inspirational verse or two. Then, we’re off to our first appointment. We just read for the sake of reading. But did we enjoy it? No we didn’t. 

Speed reading will not work with God’s Word. When reading the Bible, you need to take it slow. Take time to ponder what the verse is about. Memorize a verse and meditate it. Some even write in a journal. 

All these cannot be rushed. If we seek God truthfully, then we need to honor Him with time. 

David captures this thought in Psalm 63:1 (New International Version) - “You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water.” 

God offers an “All You Can Eat” buffet in the Bible. To truly enjoy it, you must take it slow, take pleasure in every bite, and leave satisfied. 

Lastly, take God’s word with you by memorizing it. 

Scripture memorization is a fun, fulfilling, and faith-building habit you can develop. 

That’s why we’re encouraging to check out the resource we develop to help you memorize God’s word regardless of your age or situation. 

Check it out here. 

In Him, 
Don and Dawn 
P.S. Scripture memorization is a common habit by spirit filled Christians. 

So don't let the enemy stop you and begin your journey today and… 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Writing from Left to Right: My Journey from Liberal to Conservative

by Michael Novak - published by Image Books Press, 2013

A Book Review by Father John McCloskey
At the ripe age of 80, Michael Novak has written a new book, Writing from Left to Right: My Journey from Liberal to Conservative.
Although the author probably would not agree, his book is both a memoir and a conversion story. In the decades ahead, it may rate a spot beside Thomas Merton's Seven Storey Mountain and Whittaker Chambers' Witness as capturing a certain political and spiritual moment in the United States.
Novak's era incorporates the last half of the 20th century and the early years of the new millennium.
As Novak puts it, "At eighty, I look back over the events I have witnessed, and I revisit the lessons I learned the hard way. Events and facts forced me to change my mind about ideas with which my education imbued me."
A little background for those who are not very familiar with him: Though not easy to categorize, Novak prefers to be described as "a social philosopher." What this means becomes clearer as you read the book. Since the '60s, he has played a prominent role in American political life, writing on everything from the ethics of the free market and welfare reform to the faith of the Founding Fathers. He has taught at Harvard and Stanford and held chairs at Syracuse, Notre Dame and, most significantly in recent decades, the American Enterprise Institute, a leading free-market think tank. In 1994, he received the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion.
To suggest the gamut of people he has known and worked with through the years, I culled this selection of names from the index:
Both Presidents Bush, President Jimmy Carter, President Bill Clinton (for whom he has some surprisingly kind words), Gov. Michael Dukakis, publisher Steve Forbes, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, Czech politician Vaclav Havel, Sen. Scoop Jackson, President Lyndon Johnson, Rep. Jack Kemp, the three Kennedy brothers, Martin Luther King Jr., French philosopher Gabriel Marcel, Sen. Eugene McCarthy, President Richard Nixon, Gov. Edward Muskie, Father Richard John Neuhaus, politician pundit Norman Podhoretz, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, American ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick and President Ronald Reagan.
However, this A-list roster does not make Novak an elitist. A native of Johnstown, Pa., he early identified himself as a proud ethnic (Slovak) Catholic Democrat — and retains all of those allegiances, except for the Democratic part.
I spoke earlier of Novak's gradual "conversions," which are somewhat related. His background and early years made him a union man, an ethnic Democrat in the Roosevelt/Truman mold. Through experience, observation and study, he came to adopt the conservative economics of the Austrian School of Friedrich von Hayek, perceiving that a free-growth economy benefited not only the entrepreneurs, but the general population, since, as the saying goes, "A rising wave lifts all boats." In the 1970s and '80s, he became an ardent supply-sider and Reaganaut, much to the surprise and, in some cases, anger of his Democratic liberal friends.
The second conversion, which he might not call by that name, was from National Catholic ReporterCommonweal and America "Catholicism" to a more traditional understanding of the Second Vatican Council — personified by his fellow Slav, soon-to-be-canonized John Paul II. He recounts in detail his relationship with Pope John Paul in the final chapters of this stimulating book.
I heartily recommend this fine memoir of the religious, political and economic events of our era, concluding with a man who comprehended them all, John Paul the Great.
First appeared in The National Catholic Register, September 2013.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Today's Mass Readings - Sunday, September 22, 2013 with Reflection

1ST READING - Amos 8:4-7
Hear this, you who trample upon the needy and destroy the poor of the land! “When will the new moon be over,” you ask, “that we may sell our grain, and the sabbath, that we may display the wheat? We will diminish the ephah, add to the shekel, and fix our scales for cheating! We will buy the lowly man for silver, and the poor man for a pair of sandals; even the refuse of the wheat we will sell!” The Lord has sworn by the pride of Jacob: Never will I forget a thing they have done!
P S A L M - Psalm 113:1-2, 4-6, 7-8
R: Praise the Lord who lifts up the poor.
Praise, you servants of the Lord, praise the name of the Lord. Blessed be the name of the Lord both now and forever. (R) High above all nations is the Lord; above the heavens is his glory. Who is like the Lord, our God, who is enthroned on high and looks upon the heavens and the earth below? (R) He raises up the lowly from the dust; from the dunghill he lifts up the poor to seat them with princes, with the princes of his own people. (R)
2ND READING - 1 Timothy 2:1-8
Beloved: First of all, then, I ask that supplications, prayers, petitions, and thanksgivings be offered for everyone, for kings and for all in authority, that we may lead a quiet and tranquil life in all devotion and dignity. This is good and pleasing to God our savior, who wills everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth. For there is one God. There is also one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as ransom for all. This was the testimony at the proper time. For this I was appointed preacher and apostle —I am speaking the truth, I am not lying — teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth. It is my wish, then, that in every place the men should pray, lifting up holy hands, without anger or argument.
Though our Lord Jesus Christ was rich, he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich.
Luke 16:1-13
Jesus said to his disciples, “A rich man had a steward who was reported to him for squandering his property. He summoned him and said, ‘What is this I hear about you? Prepare a full account of your stewardship, because you can no longer be my steward.’ The steward said to himself, ‘What shall I do, now that my master is taking the position of steward away from me? I am not strong enough to dig and I am ashamed to beg. I know what I shall do so that, when I am removed from the stewardship, they may welcome me into their homes.’ He called in his master’s debtors one by one. To the first he said, ‘How much do you owe my master?’He replied, ‘One hundred measures of olive oil.’ He said to him, ‘Here is your promissory note. Sit down and quicklywrite one for fifty.’ Then to another the steward said, ‘And you, how much do you owe?’ He replied, ‘One hundred kors of wheat.’ The steward said to him, ‘Here is your promissory note; write one for eighty.’ And the master commended that dishonest steward for acting prudently. “For the children of this world are more prudent in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light. I tell you, make friends for yourselves with dishonest wealth, so that when it fails, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings. 10 The person who is trustworthy in very small matters is also trustworthy in great ones; and the person who is dishonest in very small matters is also dishonest in great ones. 11 If, therefore, you are not trustworthy with dishonest wealth, who will trust you with true wealth? 12 If you are not trustworthy with what belongs to another, who will give you what is yours? 13 No servant can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”



St. Francis, a privileged son of a wealthy merchant, Pietro Bernardone, was a happy-go-lucky young man who, together with his friends, spent boisterous nights of drinking and fun in ancient Assisi. Until, as a knight, he saw the horrors of war. Upon his conversion, he decided to give and throw away to an excited mob of poor people the expensive textiles his father was selling. He left the Bernardone household, recognizing God as his only Father. He and his eventual followers decided to embrace Lady Poverty.

       The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “A theory that makes profit the exclusive norm and ultimate end of economic activity is morally unacceptable. It is one of the causes of the many conflicts which disturb the social order.” Furthermore, “a system that subordinates the basic rights of individuals and of groups to collective organization of production is contrary to human dignity. Every practice that reduces persons to nothing more than a means of profit enslaves man, leads to idolizing money, and contributes to the spread of atheism” (CCC no. 2424).

       You cannot serve both God and mammon. Many relationships have been adversely affected by money. Friends and families have been divided because of worldly cares. Even siblings have come into conflict against each other because of how their parents’ wealth should be divided.

       I once told my parents, “Tatay, Nanay, thank you for teaching us, your children, to love one another and avoid having quarrels. We assure you that we, your children, will never go against one another just because of our parents’ riches and money — because we have nothing to quarrel about.”

       While we can use money to a good end, like serving God, our hearts should never be divided between God and money. The end should always be for the common good, for a better life and a more solid relationship with God. Money is temporary. God is forever. And we’re bound to love and serve only that which will never end. Fr. Erick Y. Santos, OFS
REFLECTION QUESTION: How do you deal with money and how important is it to you?
Lord, allow me to see You more clearly, follow You more nearly, and love You more dearly. Amen.

St. Lawrence Ruiz and Companions, pray for us.

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Friday, September 20, 2013

The conversion of a hateful Englishman

He was once a leader of a
British-nationalist, white-supremacist group . . .

. . . now he’s the world’s foremost Catholic biographer.

He once disseminated literature
extolling the virtues of the white race. . .

. . . now he publishes books
celebrating the great Catholic cultural traditions.


Joseph Pearce’s remarkable story from racial hatred to rational love is a testament to God's infinite grace and active hand among us.

Becoming involved in radical politics at the age of fifteen, Joseph quickly found himself at the center of the racial and national tensions—often violent—that swirled around London in the late-1970s and early 80s.

In fact, he became a top member of the National Front and the editor of its newspaper, Bulldog.
So deep was he in racial causes that he traveled to Ireland and became involved with Protestant Irish Loyalist groups, fighting in the streets against Catholics.

A lengthy prison sentence for inciting racial hatred (for a second time) caused him to explore more deeply an already nascent—and, to him, troubling—attraction to the Catholic Church.

In Race with the Devil: My Journey from Racial Hatred to Rational Love, Pearce will take you through his journey from racist revolutionary to loving Christian, including . . .

  • The youthful influences that lead him to embrace the National Front and their racist platform.
  • His dark, angry, exhilarating—but ultimately empty—days as a revolutionary on the front lines.
  • His friendship with Skrewdriver front-man and neo-Nazi hero, Ian Stuart.
  • His days as a literary, musical, and political mover of England’s racist underground.
  • His imprisonment and subsequent “dark night of the soul.”
  • The role that Catholic luminaries such as G. K. Chesterton, Hilaire Belloc, and C. S. Lewis played in his conversion from racist radical to joyful Christian.
  • And his eventual reception into the Catholic Church. 
Race with the Devil is one man's incredible journey to Christ, but it is also much more. It is a testament to God's hand active among us and the infinite grace that Christ pours out on his people, showing that we can all turn—or return—to Christ and his Church.

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We are all destined to face Death, Judgment, Heaven, and Hell. Here you'll explore these realities in the context of Christian hope and come to see them as beautiful elements within God's Providence.
Here you'll gain a more complete picture of Our Lord through a reflection on Matthew's emphasis on Jesus' kingdom, Mark's on His discipleship, Luke's on His humanity, and John's on His divinity. 
Here is a fascinating exposition on a wide variety of scientific topics, including the Big Bang, Evolution, Darwinism, Aliens, and more. Discover how the Church protects the humanity of scientists, their moral dignity, and their real freedom to choose good or evil.
Tolkien himself stated that The Lord of the Rings is a "fundamentally religious and Catholic work". In this course, Joseph Pearce shows that those words apply likewise to The Hobbit as Bilbo Baggins' adventures can serve as a mirror for our pursuit of heaven. 
Here Joseph Pearce presents evidence proving the Bard's adherence to the true Faith in a time of persecution and upheaval in Elizabethan England. You'll learn little-known details of Shakespeare's life, including his Catholic education, openly Catholic father and daughter, and his purchase of a known hub for underground Catholic liturgy.
Fr. Alfred McBride gives you three keys to understanding the Book of Revelation and offers sustaining hope for Christians who have or who will experience the trials and persecutions that have always accompanied members of the Church.
Discover what it takes to develop friendships ordered to love of God and love of neighbor - friendships that will bring great joy to you and countless others.
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Sunday, September 15, 2013

Today's Mass Readings - Sunday, September 15, 2013

1ST READING - Exodus 32:7-11, 13-14
7 The Lord said to Moses, “Go down at once to your people, whom you brought out of the land of Egypt, for they have become depraved. 8 They have soon turned aside from the way I pointed out to them, making for themselves a molten calf and worshipping it, sacrificing to it and crying out, ‘This is your God, O Israel, who brought you out of the land of Egypt!’ 9 I see how stiff-necked this people is,” continued the Lord to Moses. 10 “Let me alone, then, that my wrath may blaze up against them to consume them. Then I will make of you a great nation.” 11 But Moses implored the Lord, his God, saying, “Why, O Lord, should your wrath blaze up against your own people, whom you brought out of the land of Egypt with such great power and with so strong a hand? 13 Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac and Israel, and how you swore to them by your own self, saying, ‘I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky; and all this land that I promised, I will give your descendants as their perpetual heritage.’” 14 So the Lord relented in the punishment he had threatened to inflict on his people.
P S A L M - Psalm 51:3-4, 12-13, 17, 19
R: I will rise and go to my father.
1 [3] Have mercy on me, O God, in your goodness; in the greatness of your compassion wipe out my offense. 2 [4] Thoroughly wash me from my guilt and of my sin cleanse me. (R) 10 [12] A clean heart create for me, O God, and a steadfast spirit renew within me. 11 [13] Cast me not out from your presence, and your Holy Spirit take not from me. (R) 15 [17] O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth shall proclaim your praise. 17 [19] My sacrifice, O God, is a contrite spirit; a heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn. (R)
2nd READING - 1 Timothy 1:12-17
12 Beloved: I am grateful to him who has strengthened me, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he considered me trustworthy in appointing me to the ministry. 13 I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and an arrogant man, but I have been mercifully treated because I acted out of ignorance in my unbelief. 14 Indeed, the grace of our Lord has been abundant, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 15 This saying is trustworthy and deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. Of these I am the foremost. 16 But for that reason I was mercifully treated, so that in me, as the foremost, Christ Jesus might display all his patience as an example for those who would come to believe in him for everlasting life. 17 To the king of ages, incorruptible, invisible, the only God, honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.
God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.
Luke 15:1-32
1 Tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to Jesus, 2 but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” 3 So to them he addressed this parable. 4 “What man among you having a hundred sheep and losing one of them would not leave the ninety-nine in the desert and go after the lost one until he finds it? 5 And when he does find it, he sets it on his shoulders with great joy 6 and, upon his arrival home, he calls together his friends and neighbors and says to them, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’ 7 I tell you, in just the same way there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance. 8 Or what woman having ten coins and losing one would not light a lamp and sweep the house, searching carefully until she finds it? 9 And when she does find it, she calls together her friends and neighbors and says to them, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found the coin that I lost.’ 10 In just the same way, I tell you, there will be rejoicing among the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” 11 Then he said, “A man had two sons, 12 and the younger son said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of your estate that should come to me.’ So the father divided the property between them. 13 After a few days, the younger son collected all his belongings and set off to a distant country where he squandered his inheritance on a life of dissipation. 14 When he had freely spent everything, a severe famine struck that country, and he found himself in dire need. 15 So he hired himself out to one of the local citizens who sent him to his farm to tend the swine. 16 And he longed to eat his fill of the pods on which the swine fed, but nobody gave him any. 17 Coming to his senses he thought, ‘How many of my father’s hired workers have more than enough food to eat, but here am I, dying from hunger. 18 I shall get up and go to my father and I shall say to him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I no longer deserve to be called your son; treat me as you would treat one of your hired workers.’ 20 So he got up and went back to his father. While he was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion. He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him. 21 His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you; I no longer deserve to be called your son.’ 22 But his father ordered his servants, ‘Quickly bring the finest robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Take the fattened calf and slaughter it. Then let us celebrate with a feast, 24 because this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again; he was lost, and has been found.’ Then the celebration began. 25 Now the older son had been out in the field and, on his way back, as he neared the house, he heard the sound of music and dancing. 26 He called one of the servants and asked what this might mean. 27 The servant said to him, ‘Your brother has returned and your father has slaughtered the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’ 28 He became angry, and when he refused to enter the house, his father came out and pleaded with him. 29 He said to his father in reply, ‘Look, all these years I served you and not once did I disobey your orders; yet you never gave me even a young goat to feast on with my friends. 30 But when your son returns who swallowed up your property with prostitutes, for him you slaughter the fattened calf.’ 31 He said to him, ‘My son, you are here with me always; everything I have is yours. 32 But now we must celebrate and rejoice, because your brother was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’”



There was a competition among the angels in heaven. They were to look for the most beautiful thing they could find on earth. So they all went off and flew down. The first one saw a beautiful flower and picked it. The second angel went to a house where a baby was sleeping. Such innocence melted the heart of the angel. The third angel lost his way and found himself in a beer house where beautiful ladies were dancing. He was amazed, without a trace of malice, at the women’s beauty. Finally, the fourth angel went to my former parish to look for me. He wasn’t lucky enough though. I was not there. He proceeded to the church and saw somebody kneeling before the Blessed Sacrament. He was a most hardened sinner wanting to be reconciled with the Lord. In deep despair and sorrow for his sins, he cried unabashedly. The angel, on cue, caught the crystalline tears coming from the eyes of the repentant sinner. All four angels then brought their “beautiful discoveries” to heaven for final judging. The fourth angel won the competition, for nothing can be more beautiful than the tears of a repentant sinner.
The Lord who came to cure the sick considers the return of a lost son as a cause for rejoicing. He never gets tired of looking for wounded souls.

       The father of the prodigal son never lost hope. After his son left and squandered all his inheritance, he never stopped waiting for his return. He hoped against hope that one day his son would return home. Because he was his son whom he loved unconditionally, he never gave up on him, gave him a new lease in life, and restored him to his dignity as his son. 

       God’s love is total and unconditional. He does not postpone His forgiveness. Even Paul in the Second Reading admits that he “was once a blasphemer, persecutor and arrogant. But he has mercifully treated me.” God did not give up on Paul. And as cliché as it may sound, God loves us. He does not give up on us, lowly sinners. Fr. Erick Y. Santos, OFS
REFLECTION QUESTION: What keeps you from going back to God now? Try Him. He will not turn His back on you.
Lord, in shame, I thank You for bearing with me and loving me unconditionally.

Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us.

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