Thursday, November 28, 2013

The search and rescue of St. Peter's bones


Eight bone fragments from the body of St. Peter were held aloft by Pope Francis at mass on Sunday—the first time the relics have been shown to the public.

Until last century, St. Peter's bones
were thought to have been lost forever!

After Roman authorities executed St. Peter for being an enemy of the state, he was denied a proper burial and his friends were not allowed to recover his body.


For centuries, tradition held that to honor and preserve the mortal remains of this true Prince of the Apostles, the emperor Constantine erected old St. Peter's Basilica right over what was reputed to be St. Peter's grave, dumping a million cubic feet of dirt over the site to make the hillside flat.

A thousand years later, Pope Julius II replaced Constantine's Basilica with the present St. Peter's Basilica . . .

. . . placing millions of tons of marble over the million cubic feet of dirt that already covered the claimed resting place of St. Peter's bones!

Stories about those bones continued to circulate for centuries.  Then, in 1939, shovels of workmen preparing a burial place for Pope Pius XI in the grotto under St. Peter's accidentally broke through to a previously unknown mausoleum there.  Probing further, they found under the dirt a complete street of second-, third-, and fourth-century burial vaults.

The chase was on!

Researchers, scholars, and scientists won permission from Pope Pius XII to begin sustained, systematic efforts to discover whether, as legend claimed, the bones of St. Peter lay somewhere among those tombs.

For more than 30 years and in utmost secrecy, they worked in this incredibly cramped subterranean space, unearthing ancient structures . . .

. . . uncovering and twisting through dark passageways, and tunneling under ancient walls.  Slowly, patiently, deliberately, they unraveled the secrets surrounding the burial of St. Peter.

On June 26, 1968, Pope Paul VI joyfully announced the results of 30 years of work that had enlisted scores of archaeologists, historians, forensic detectives, medical researchers, graffiti experts and others: the bones of St. Peter had been found!

John Walsh's book, The Bones of St. Peter, tells the engrossing true story of how these determined researchers finally solved the puzzle of St. Peter's burial and rescued his bodily remains from centuries of oblivion.

The Catholic Herald says that The Bones of St. Peter "reads like an Agatha Christie thriller, as clue after clue is found and solved."

Biblical Archaeology Review calls it "a marvelously interesting tale."

But it's more than an archaeological detective tale: in order to tell its story, The Bones of St. Peter takes us back to Rome in the time of Peter himself when Nero was still persecuting Christians, acquaints us with Constantine and the building of the first St. Peter's, and brings us forward to the Renaissance when, in the face of great opposition, Pope Julius II commissioned the glorious Basilica that stands to this day.

The Bones of St. Peter
256 Pages - $18.95
(Includes more than 50 photographs and diagrams to clarify the steps in the complex excavations.)

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Here’s an unabashedly Catholic history that documents scores of sustained and unprecedented assaults on our Catholic Faith these past five centuries and delineates our Church’s brave response to each one.

For five hundred years, from Luther to Marx, through Darwin, Hitler, and Rousseau, wave after wave of cynical anti-Catholic men and movements have wrought havoc even worse than that of Attila the Hun and Genghis Khan, leaving our once noble Christendom a ruined city, devastated politically and spiritually, morally and intellectually.

They’ve ripped the heart from our culture’s chest: the Catholic Faith that once gave life and strength to her body. They’ve wounded even the Church herself.

Celebrated Catholic historian Diane Moczar counters here with an unflinching sketch of these five woeful centuries with sound reasons for hope. For, as she demonstrates, even after five hundred years of sustained persecution, our Church has not merely survived but continues in many places to flourish.

Almost two thousand years ago, Tertullian noted that the “blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church,” a truth borne out these past five hundred years.

Time after time, as Moczar shows, persecution has not snuffed out the Faith but has brought forth great saints whose holy deeds and brave examples frustrated their persecutors by communicating to the besieged Church a vigor greater than that of her persecutors.
These pages will renew your confidence that the Church is indeed Christ acting in the world and that no matter how strong or ruthless or vicious her opponents, she will not be vanquished but will endure to the end of time.
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Monday, November 25, 2013

Why America Needs Social Conservatism

The Case for Polarized Politics

by Jeffrey Bell - published by Encounter Books, 2013

A Book Review by Father John McCloskey
Jeffrey Bell is perhaps the most experienced conservative political advisor in Washington, D.C. Once a key Reagan campaign advisor, Bell later became a political candidate himself, scoring a stunning primary upset against a seated Republican senator in New Jersey only to lose in the general election to Democrat Bill Bradley. Bell, a graduate of Columbia University and Vietnam veteran, has a depth of experience in the culture wars of the last 40 years that is almost unrivaled among fellow pundits on the right.
His new book, The Case for Polarized Politics: Why America Needs Social Conservatism, comes 20 years after his earlier Populism and Elitism: Politics in the Age of Equality, which drew the attention of the Democratic pro-life Pennsylvania Gov. Robert Casey, who recruited Bell as an advisor when he was considering a run against Bill Clinton for the 1996 Democratic presidential nomination.
In the Introduction to his new book, Bell writes,
The central contention of this book is that social conservatism is not only unlikely to collapse, but that it is becoming increasingly unified and coherent. It is already driving much of the national debate, and its issues are playing a steadily greater role in voters' decisions on whether to vote Republican or Democratic. This is happening in America, and in America only, for a reason. Social conservatism has been, in recent decades, the only mass-based political persuasion that fully believes in and defends the core ideas of the American founding. It has taken over that role from the parties, professions, and institutions that used to perform it, and as a result, it is touching a deep chord in millions of American voters.
This argument may be seen as a further development of Bell's belief that American exceptionalism is closely linked to the American founding, based on the generally religious background of the Founding Fathers, all of whom, according to Bell, "saw themselves as men of the Enlightenment," but with a difference:
They envisioned God not as an archaic holdover deity from unenlightened times, but as the only conceivable authority capable of demolishing humanity's immemorial rule by blood elites&ellip; Humans are innately equal because God created us that way. This view of equality as equal human dignity, they believed, was what mandated republican self-rule, in North America and (eventually) everywhere else.
Bell's description of the Founding Fathers recalls Pope John Paul II's emphasis on "the dignity of the human person from conception until natural death," which forms the foundation of the Church's teaching on social justice in government and society. Loyalty to America's founding principles, which are based on the natural law and social conservatism, is necessary for America's future existence.
Bell argues that the conservative branch of the enlightenment as a system of optimistic belief dominated the American founding, transformed the English-speaking world, and affected the shape of politics in the United States throughout her history. Not only is it necessary to our nation's current and future health, but, from a political viewpoint, this system prevailed in the past and can again in future.
Bell offers a history of the political and cultural wars in the United States as far as the Obama administration. For this reason alone his book is invaluable in tracing year by year, administration by administration, and Supreme Court by Supreme Court, the decisions and appointments that have marked the polarization of politics. Bell writes,
In an important sense, &ellip; the charge of polarization is not only true but inarguable. The existence of an American political movement called social conservatism is the main factor that triggers political polarization&ellip; What would happen instead—what has happened in Western Europe—is a peaceful social revolution, utterly changing the face of society in ways that would have been both recognizable and pleasing to Rousseau and his heirs, history's first leftist politicians in the French National Assembly of the 1790s.
The United States is clearly a different case. Bell quotes from M. Stanton Evans' The Theme Is Freedom:
The American Revolution was conservative not simply in its allegiance to Western civilization's theistic origin, but in its tendency toward separate spheres for religion and politics, a tendency rooted in medieval Europe as well as in biblical texts familiar to all Christians.
Equally clearly, America, judging at least by her elites, has traveled far from her largely Christian roots. Consider the Supreme Court's 5-4 decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey. In the majority opinion, the Court not only upheld the claim of a universal right to abortion established 19 years earlier in Roe v. Wade, but, adding insult to injury, continued, "At the heart of liberty is the right to define one's own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life. Beliefs about these matters could not define the attributes of personhood were they formed under compulsion of the State."
Bell comments, "From the founders' belief in ‘created equal' resulting in ‘unalienable rights,' this language travels to the furthest opposite pole of individual self-definition, verging on self-creation." The Casey decision appears to be a throwback less to 1973 than to the 1960's and 70's, the era of psychedelic experiences described by Tom Wolfe.
The Case for Polarized Politics does not confine itself to the United States. Unfortunately, Europe may now be sinking not to rise again in our lifetime, or the lifetimes of our foreseeable descendants. There is no sign of a De Gasperi, De Gaulle, or Adenauer— all of them Catholic statesmen who, after the cataclysm of World War II, rebuilt their severely damaged countries— in waiting. In the decades following the exit of these men, Europe developed into the European Union, which has increasingly shown itself to be a disaster for the member countries. How did this happen?
Bell recounts the story of Rocco Buttiglione, an influential and experienced member of the Italian cabinet who was nominated to be a European commissioner. He was turned down on the grounds that, as an orthodox Catholic, he could not be trusted to enforce policies with which he disagreed. Bell proceeds to recall how:
John Paul II pressed for an acknowledgment of Europe's Christian roots to be included in the European constitution during its drafting phase. With minimal debate among European elites, the Pope was firmly rebuffed. Instead they concluded that even a mention of Christianity in the 70-thousand-word document would put at risk the tolerance needed to sustain modern democratic institutions.
If Bell is right, America may return to her roots and flourish. If not, the American empire will collapse, to be succeeded by a probably less-benign replacement. This book emphasizes the seriousness of the situation and the starkness of the alternatives in question.
First appeared in Chronicles Magazine, December 2013.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Today's Mass Reading - Sunday, November 24, 2013 with Reflection

1ST READING - 2 Samuel 5:1-3
In those days, all the tribes of Israel came to David in Hebron and said: “Here we are, your bone and your flesh. In days past, when Saul was our king, it was you who led the Israelites out and brought them back. And the Lord said to you, ‘You shall shepherd my people Israel and shall be commander of Israel.’” 3When all the elders of Israel came to David in Hebron, King David made an agreement with them there before the Lord, and they anointed him king of Israel.
P S A L M - Psalm 122:1-2, 3-4, 4-5
R: Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.
I rejoiced because they said to me, “We will go up to the house of the Lord.” And now we have set foot within your gates, O Jerusalem. (R) Jerusalem, built as a city with compact unity. To it the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord. (R) According to the decree for Israel, to give thanks to the name of the Lord. In it are set up judgment seats, seats for the house of David. (R)
2ND READING - Colossians 1:12-20
12 Brothers and sisters: Let us give thanks to the Father, who has made you fit to share in the inheritance of the holy ones in light. 13He delivered us from the power of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. 15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For in him were created all things in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers; all things were created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 He is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things he himself might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile all things for him, making peace by the blood of his cross through him, whether those on earth or those in heaven.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that is to come!
Luke 23:35-43
35 The rulers sneered at Jesus and said, “He saved others, let him save himself if he is the chosen one, the Christ of God.” 36 Even the soldiers jeered at him. As they approached to offer him wine 37they called out, “If you are King of the Jews, save yourself.” 38Above him there was an inscription that read, “This is the King of the Jews.” 39 Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us.” 40The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply, “Have you no fear of God, for you are subject to the same condemnation?” 41And indeed, we have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this man has done nothing criminal.” 42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 He replied to him,  “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” 



Today we remember in a special way the King of kings and Lord of lords: Jesus Christ Himself. It’s the last Sunday of the liturgical year, and it is as if we are crowning the year with this powerful affirmation of Jesus’ majesty and kingship.

       It is said that when Julian the Apostate lay on his deathbed, he had only one thing to say. All his years of persecuting the Church as Emperor of Rome went to naught. “Thou hast conquered, O Galilean!” He could only throw up his hands in despair and surrender.

       But look at the strange conquests of Christ the King, the “Galilean.” Practically all of them were outcasts, the muck of society. We have, among others, a thief (see today’s Gospel reading); a couple of tax collectors (the repentant sinners, Matthew and Zacchaeus), and a number of foreigners (the Samaritan woman, the Syro-Phoenician lady, the Samaritan leper, the Roman centurion, etc.).

       The King’s conquest was actually already there from the start. Merely a newborn babe, yet already kicking off the unique pattern of strange conquests: shepherds (at the birth of the King), astrologers (the Magi), infants and toddlers (the so-called Holy Innocents). And then up to the end, at the Crucifixion in Calvary, it was still the same. There He was on His throne (the cross): with a crown of thorns, His title identified by a makeshiftsign on the space on top of His head, and placed between two thieves.

       Of those two, one asked to be taken down, the other asked to be taken up. It is such a consoling thought that the very first one to break into heaven (with the death of Jesus on the Cross) was a poor thief. Perhaps he was never religious or spiritual at all. He gambled with probably the only prayer he ever uttered in his life, and he won. He was able to steal nothing less than salvation itself, through his sincere repentance.

       And Christ the King indeed rewarded him. So, too, will He reward us, if we remain His loyal and sincere subjects. Fr. Martin Macasaet, SDB
REFLECTION QUESTION: How loyal are you to Jesus Christ, the one true King of kings?
Jesus, my Lord, my God, my King, like the “good” thief, remember me when it is my turn to leave this world.

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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Pope Francis certifies miracle performed by our friend!

ACTUALLY, the Pope and the Vatican’s Congregation
for the Causes of the Saints recently certified not just
one miracle, but four . . .

. . . four miracles performed by two friends of
Sophia Institute Press: two miracles apiece!

Better yet: the Vatican has accepted their four miracles as confirmation of their holiness, and has declared both saints! (How’s that for friends in high places?)

You see, when in the 1980s these good Catholics—a man and a woman—came to know of our work for the Faith, they each took time from their grueling schedules personally to write letters praising and encouraging us—letters I recently found in the files of our founder, John Barger.

Next April (just five months from now), Pope Francis will officially canonize the first of these friends of Sophia Institute Press, from whom we received some years ago a hand-typed letter letting us know that he prayed that God would grant success to one of the new books we had just published. Praise of our work by this miracle-working saint continues to help us sell copies of this and other books.

I also found in John Barger’s files a number of handwritten letters from another friend of ours, the other miracle worker who has already been declared a saint. In one of them, she says to John: “I am convinced of the good that the books published by Sophia Institute Press can do in helping people grow closer to God.”

Now we have published Nothing Short of a Miracle, a remarkable book that, in great and fascinating detail, brings you the story of these two good souls as well as stunning details about each of their four miracles. Packed into its 295 pages are carefully documented reports of scores of other recent Vatican-approved miracles, most of which were performed in your lifetime and many of them even in North America!

Miracles. Hundreds of modern miracles!

Frankly, as a convert who entered the Church a little less than a decade ago, I found this book to be an eye-opener.

On the one hand, before reading it I’d not known how rigorously—even skeptically—the Church investigates the thousands of reports of alleged miracle cures She receives each year.

Few survive the first glance.

Those that do must then fulfill seven severe medical criteria, providing, among other things, incontrovertible evidence that the cure wasinstantaneous, complete, and permanent. Moreover, the reliability of the evidence is not decided by prelates, but by scientists and physicians, among whom there are often atheists, serving together on panels whose task is to root out any claims that are tainted in the least by gullibility, confusion, error, or fraud.

(These investigations of proposed saints and alleged miracles can fill many file cabinets in many countries: testimony for the canonization of St. John Bosco amounted to more than 30,000 pages!)

Few civil trials consider evidence as rigorously as do these examinations of evidence for miracles.

That’s why, after learning of the seven criteria, I was stunned to learn from the pages of Nothing Short of a Miracle about the countless cures each year that fulfill all seven, yielding hundreds of cures that the Vatican is compelled to acknowledge as medically and scientifically inexplicable.

Even more surprising: of these hundreds of certifiable miracles each year, you and I generally hear nothing – except when we encounter rare books like Nothing Short of a Miracle.

For with a caution that exceeds by far that of the most skeptical of atheists, the Sacred Congregation for the Causes of Saints simply refuses to declare miraculous over 99% of the cures it finds inexplicable. Instead, it submits to the Pope for his approval only those that are beyond the shadow of any doubt nothing short of a miracle.

Those are the ones that fill the nearly 300 pages of this remarkable new book by veteran Catholic author/investigator Patricia Treece. Generations of Catholics are familiar with her lifetime of articles and books that document for skeptics and for believers alike the evidence for miracles and the holiness of the modern saints who perform them. In those works—as in this one—she delights readers with the care with which she proceeds and the richness of details she provides. Of all her many books, this is the greatest, and the most important:

Almost 300 pages of rigorously documented miracles occurring in our time: that’s good news if ever I heard it, for if our age needs anything, it needs miracles, and lots of them . . . which is what you’ll find reported HERE, by the hundreds and in great detail.

Thank you, and may God bless you,

Charlie McKinney

P.S. Oh, and our friends who performed miracles? I put them on the front cover of the book: he’s the handsome fellow in the center and she’s the lovely lady next to him. Click HERE to see them both.

Friday, November 15, 2013

The best St. Nicholas Statue ever!

St Nicholas fresco
From the artistic tradition that created the magnificent icons that grace the great cathedrals of Russia—where, for centuries,
St. Nicholas has been particularly revered and loved—comes . . .


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St. Nicholas Statue

Statue facing left.

It's over 12" tall

Back view of statue.

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(Look closely: note the delicate gradation of tones in the blues and greens, and the warmth captured in St. Nicholas's face. See how carefully even his eyes are painted.)
St. Nicholas face

Look closely at
the Nativity Tableau:

With the Star of Bethlehem shining down on the Holy Family
(and half-a-dozen other bright stars come down from
Heaven to gaze upon them, too) . . .
Detail of Nativity.

. . . St. Joseph lifts his hand to bless the Newborn . . .
Detail of St. Joseph.

. . . who Himself blesses His adoring mother as
she gazes down upon Him:
Detail of the Virgin Mary.

Finally, turning His face directly to us, the Baby Jesus
blesses you and me, too:
Detail of the Baby Jesus.

Nowhere else will you find a statue of St. Nicholas as handsome as this, or as well-crafted.

Take it in hand.
Examine it closely.
It's virtually impossible to find statues of this style and quality at an affordable price.

This is not one more item to clutter your home; this statue is thoughtfully designed to call to mind the profound beauty of the Nativity of Our Lord.
Statue facing right.

If you want this handsome St. Nicholas Statue to grace your home this Christmas (and for many Christmases to come), click the link below or call our toll-free number right away.

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Front view of statue
Holy Family
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What better way to keep Christ in Christmas than to display this stunning wood-carved styling of the Holy Family. At just over a foot tall, this nativity scene fits with any decor, and shows the Holy Family encircled by the tree of life.
Angel Figurines
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At 10 inches tall, this gorgeous set of wood-carved style Christmas angels will add a special holiday touch to your home or office. This set tastefully combines tradition with an updated style, making it a perfect gift for family and friends. 


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Monday, November 11, 2013

True or False Possession

How to Distinguish the Demonic from the Demented

by Jean Lhermitte - published by Sophia Institute Press, 2013
A Book Review by Father John McCloskey
This update of an earlier work is entitled True or False Possession: How to Distinguish the Demonic From the Demented. The author, French neurologist Jean Lhermitte, originally wrote this book in the 1960s; this new edition has been edited and updated by Dr. Aaron Kheriaty, bestselling author of The Catholic Guide to Depression.
Written primarily for health professionals, True or False Possession is nonetheless of interest to any educated Catholic, in that it recounts from a Catholic viewpoint genuine suspected demonic possession and helps the layman, priest, psychiatrist and even family members to distinguish the real thing from mental illness and fakery. However, when and if it is necessary to bring the victim to an exorcist for treatment, Dr. Kheriaty points out, "This author knows the permanent limitations of his science: This book does not attempt to detail cases of what may be considered true possession, for these by their nature would be outside the scope of the author's clinical expertise. In such cases, the physician and priest need to collaborate responsibly and with respect for the insights of both science and theology."
Not surprisingly, given the profession, the medical emphasis of the book is paramount, yet the author writes as a convinced Catholic and, as such, gives what is almost a short history of diabolical possession from the time of Christ's exorcisms, as recorded in the Gospels, up to his own time. The author recounts examples of saints to whom the devil appeared, such as doctor of the Church St. Teresa of Avila: "She depicts the evil one as possessing hideous form, with a terrifying mouth and a regular proteus, able to transform and to multiply himself."
Nevertheless, while there are many spine-chilling accounts of true diabolical possession, in particular of well-known nuns who rose to be prioresses of their monasteries while under the control of Satan, I will spare you the gruesome details.
Many seeming cases of diabolical possession were in fact cases of simple insanity or mental illness, as Lhermitte explains. And many more were simply frauds that, in turn, caused mass hysteria in others who simply suffered from neurological illnesses that produce symptoms having nothing to do with the devil or hidden demons.
Somewhat disturbing is this quotation towards the end of the book: "In 1948, a celebrated demonologist under the aegis of London University revealed that, in all districts of London, there are hundreds of men and women of excellent education and intellect and high social position who worship the devil and offer him a regular cult." I shudder to think of what such a survey might reveal in our country.
Keep some holy water by your side as you read this book, and remember that Satan and his fallen angels are the biggest losers in the history of God's creation. Though more powerful than we are in our natural state, we are under Divine protection, so simply scorn them, use all sacramental means possible to reject them, and through your friendships, bring your friends and family members to the Lord.
First appeared in National Catholic Register, October 2013.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Today's Mass Reading - Sunday, November 10, 2013 with Reflection

1ST READING - 2 Maccabees 7:1-2, 9-14
It happened that seven brothers with their mother were arrested and tortured with whips and scourges by the king, to force them to eat pork in violation of God’s law. One of the brothers, speaking for the others, said: “What do you expect to achieve by questioning us? We are ready to die rather than transgress the laws of our ancestors.” At the point of death he said: “You accursed fiend, you are depriving us of this present life, but the King of the world will raise us up to live again forever. It is for his laws that we are dying.” 10 After him the third suffered their cruel sport. He put out his tongue at once when told to do so, and bravely held out his hands, 11 as he spoke these noble words: “It was from Heaven that I received these; for the sake of his laws I disdain them; from him I hope to receive them again.” 12 Even the king and his attendants marveled at the young man’s courage, because he regarded his sufferings as nothing. 13 After he had died, they tortured and maltreated the fourth brother in the same way. 14When he was near death, he said, “It is my choice to die at the hands of men with the hope God gives of being raised up by him; but for you, there will be no resurrection to life.”
P S A L M - Psalm 17:1, 5-6, 8, 15
R: Lord, when your glory appears, my joy will be full.
Hear, O Lord, a just suit; attend to my outcry; hearken to my prayer from lips without deceit. (R) My steps have been steadfast in your paths, my feet have not faltered. I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God; incline your ear to me; hear my word. (R) 8Keep me as the apple of your eye, hide me in the shadow of your wings. 15 But I in justice shall behold your face; on waking I shall be content in your presence. (R)
2ND READING - 2 Thessalonians 2:16-3:5
16 Brothers and sisters: May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting encouragement and good hope through his grace, 17 encourage your hearts and strengthen them in every good deed and word. 3:Finally, brothers and sisters, pray for us, so that the word of the Lord may speed forward and be glorified, as it did among you, 2and that we may be delivered from perverse and wicked people, for not all have faith. But the Lord is faithful; he will strengthen you and guard you from the evil one. We are confident of you in the Lord that what we instruct you, you are doing and will continue to do. May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the endurance of Christ.
Jesus Christ is the firstborn of the dead; to him be glory and power, forever and ever.
Luke 20:27-38
27 Some Sadducees, those who deny that there is a resurrection, came forward and put this question to Jesus, 28 saying, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us, ‘If someone’s brother dies leaving a wife but no child, his brother must take the wife and raise up descendants for his brother.’ 29 Now there were seven brothers; the first married a woman but died childless. 30 Then the second 31and the third married her, and likewise all the seven died childless. 32 Finally the woman also died. 33 Now at the resurrection whose wife will that woman be? For all seven had been married to her.” 34 Jesus said to them, “The children of this age marry and remarry; 35 but those who are deemed worthy to attain to the coming age and to the resurrection of the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. 36 They can no longer die, for they are like angels; and they are the children of God because they are the ones who will rise. 37 That the dead will rise even Moses made known in the passage about the bush, when he called ‘Lord’ the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; 38 and he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.”



These days of November seem shorter, with evenings starting earlier. They are like reminders for us of the end of our earthly lives — which is death — as the inevitable reality awaiting all of us without exception. Besides, this entire month is dedicated to the memory of (and prayer for) our departed loved ones.

       We have in various cultures many different expressions to confront or to mitigate the realities of death and the afterlife. Our faith likewise does for us the same service, but on a much higher level or from a deeper perspective.

       Our Gospel reading gives us a hint as to the form our earthly bodies will take after undergoing the normal processes of death, decay and decomposition: “They can no longer die, for they are like angels; and they are the children of God because they are the ones who will rise.”

       Indeed, we all eagerly look forward to such a glorious status. In the meantime, of course, we just have to pass through the required transition of death. It’s just like a door one has to pass through to get inside a magnificent banquet hall.

       It is very interesting to note how an entire industry has evolved nowadays regarding funeral observations and arrangements — all to help us cope with the reality of death. Not to mention memorial plans, insurance policies, and the like — all to help us prepare somehow for death.

       But the best preparation for death is the very lives we lead. Yes, our life itself. If we but take care of our life, God will take care of our death. And we need not fear anymore. After all, “he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.” Fr. Martin Macasaet, SDB
REFLECTION QUESTION: Is the way you live preparing you well for death?
Lord Jesus, I pray that when my time comes, You will give me special strength to make the great passage to new life.

St. Leo the Great, pope and doctor of the Church, pray for us.

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Friday, November 8, 2013

How to make this your holiest Advent yet

Are you among the few who emerge from
the Christmas season holier than before?

Or are you like most of us...

...running from one activity to another,
never able to celebrate Christmas in the way your soul yearns.


A prayerful Advent is the key to a holy and peaceful Christmas.  That's why the Church has set aside the month of Advent as a time to pray, reflect, and anticipate the coming of our Lord.  

To help make this Christmas your holiest yet, Sophia Institute Press presents Meditations for Advent—a collection of forty short meditations that will lift your soul to God in those hectic days that stretch from Thanksgiving to Christmas.

These pages will keep you mindful of the real meaning of Christmas while affording you an admirable distillation of the doctrines and piety of our Holy Catholic Church.
Meditations for Advent
by Bishop Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
192 Pages - List Price: $12.95

These meditations were translated and compiled from the rich collection of prayers by French Bishop Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet, the Court Preacher to Louis XIV and widely considered to be one of the greatest homilists in the history of the Church.

With the help of Bishop Bossuet—and the sense of God’s grandeur and love that permeates his every word—all through the rush toward Christmas...
  • you’ll stay mindful of the holy words of Isaiah foretelling the birth of our savior;
  • you’ll find yourself marveling at the Annunciation and the Visitation;
  • you’ll rejoice in anticipation of the coming birth of Jesus;

...and, finally, you’ll look forward to kneeling with St. Joseph and the Blessed Virgin in silent adoration of the incarnate Son of God.

This year, you won’t (as so often happens) arrive at Midnight Mass distracted, exhausted, and frazzled, having neglected your Advent devotions and your ordinary prayers, too. Instead, you’ll find yourself stepping lightly into church, ready and eager to adore the newborn King, with your soul what it should be: a fit dwelling place for the Redeemer.
Don’t waste another Advent!

Let Meditations for Advent keep you prayerful amidst the worst distractions of the holiday season. Let it draw you daily closer to Jesus, whose birth the season celebrates, and whose birth your soul yearns to celebrate, too.

Meditations for Advent
by Bishop Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
192 Pages - List Price: $12.95

Save 25% on all Christmas Items
when you order Meditations for Advent

(Gift items can ship to U.S. addresses only)

What better way to keep Christ in Christmas than to display this stunning wood-carved styling of the Holy Family. At just over a foot tall, this nativity scene fits with any decor, and shows the Holy Family encircled by the tree of life.

Click here to order
List Price: $74.95  
Sale Price: $55.95

This beautifully hand-painted statue of St. Nicholas hails from the artistic traditions that created the magnificent icons that grace the great cathedrals of Russia.  Nowhere else will you find a statue of St. Nicholas as handsome as this, or as well-crafted.
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List Price: $60.00
Sale Price: $45.00
At 10 inches tall, this gorgeous set of wood-carved style Christmas angels will add a special holiday touch to your home or office. This set tastefully combines tradition with an updated style, making it a perfect gift for family and friends.
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List Price: $39.95 for the set
Sale Price: $29.95

Most important is that you keep mindful of the real meaning of Christmas.  Our newly released Meditations for Advent will serve as an indispensible guide to making this your holiest Christmas yet!

Meditations for Advent
by Bishop Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
192 Pages - List Price: $12.95

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