Wednesday, April 30, 2014


1. The garden of Eden was in Iraq.
2. Mesopotamia, which is now Iraq, was the cradle of  civilization!
3. Noah built the ark in Iraq.
4. The Tower of Babel was in Iraq.
5. Abraham was from Ur, which is in Southern Iraq!
6. Isaac's wife Rebekah is from Nahor, which is in Iraq.
7. Jacob met Rachel in Iraq.
8. Jonah preached in Nineveh, which is in Iraq.
9. Assyria, which is in Iraq, conquered the ten tribes of Israel.
10. Amos cried out in Iraq!
11. Babylon, which is in Iraq, destroyed Jerusalem.
12. Daniel was in the lion's den in Iraq!
13. The three Hebrew children were in the fire in Iraq
(Jesus had been in Iraq also as the fourth person in
the fiery furnace!)
14. Belshazzar, the King of Babylon saw the "writing
on the wall" in Iraq.
15. Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, carried the Jews
captive into Iraq.
16. Ezekiel preached in Iraq.
17. The wise men were from Iraq.
18. Peter preached in Iraq.
19. The "Empire of Man" described in Revelation is
called Babylon, which was a city in Iraq!

And you have probably seen this one. Israel is the nation most often mentioned in the Bible. But do you know which nation is second? It is Iraq!

However, that is not the name that is used in the Bible. The names used in the Bible are Babylon, Land of Shinar, and Mesopotamia.

The word Mesopotamia means between the two rivers, more exactly between the
Tigris and Euphrates Rivers.

The name Iraq, means country with deep roots. Indeed Iraq is a country with
deep roots and is a very significant country in the Bible. Here's why!

  •  Eden was in Iraq - Genesis 2:10-14
  • Adam & Eve were created in Iraq - Genesis 2:7-8
  • Satan made his first recorded appearance in Iraq - Genesis 3:1-6
  • Nimrod established Babylon & The Tower of Babel was built in Iraq - Genesis 10:8-97; 11:1-4
  • The confusion of the languages took place in Iraq - Genesis 11:5-11
  • Abraham came from a city in Iraq - Genesis 11:31; Acts 7:2-4
  • Isaac's bride came from Iraq - Genesis 24:3-4; 10
  • Jacob spent 20 years in Iraq - Genesis 27:42-45;31:38
  • The first world Empire was in Iraq - Daniel 1:1-2;2:36-38
  • The greatest revival in history was in a city in Iraq - Jonah 3
  • The events of the book of Esther took place in Iraq - Esther
  • The book of Nahum was a prophecy against a city in Iraq - Nahum
  • The book of Revelation has prophecies against Babylon (Iraq's former name) - Revelation 17 & 18

No other nation, except Israel, has more history and prophecy associated to
it than Iraq.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Think about....

Today is another gracious gift from GOD.
His mercies are new every morning.  
His love remains....

So keep a happy spirit.  A person that 
has a happy spirit does not easily get 
tired and is always disposed to do good.

We have been created for a greater
purpose so we should never allow our-
selves to fall into things that remove the
kindness from our hearts.

Monday, April 28, 2014

John Ford: Poet in the Desert

by Joseph Malham - published by Lake Street Press, 2013

A Book Review by Father John McCloskey
Over 30 years ago, when I was a seminarian in Rome, one of my professors exclaimed, "John Ford is the Thomas Aquinas of the 20th century." Fortunately, at Columbia University I had studied under Andrew Sarris, the famed "auteur" film critic, so I knew the context. In any case, Ford's reputation as certainly one of the best directors of cinema is unquestioned by serious critics in the United States and Europe, given the longevity, number, and wide variety of outstanding film classics (he won six Oscars and probably deserved more) in which he explored the role of myth, history, tradition, and war in epic dramas of the individual, family, and community. Joseph Malham is a professional artist with deep insight into Ford's vision and the artistry with which he incarnated that vision in film. Over a long and complicated life, Ford directed over 400 films, silent and sound. As Malham notes:
John Ford made films for half a century and defined the land- scape. However he spent his life angrily rebuffing even the slightest suggestion that he was a poet or the Old Grandpa of the Western Saga. Ford saw himself as a working stiff blessed by a great eye for composition and surrounded by other talented individuals who simply did a job to pay his bills, support his family and spend as much as time as possible sailing and drinking on his beloved yacht.
Like millions of Americans, Ford was born on American shores as a direct result of the Irish potato famine in the late 1840's. Ford's parents met and married in Portland, Maine. One of the various de- lights of this relatively brief book is the entwinement of the experiences of Ford's early life into Malham's discussion of the films, Ford being arguably the most personal of directors. "For example," Malham writes,
Ford was heroically devoted to his mother Abby throughout his life. He evolved Abby into a combination of Gaia, Sophia, and the Blessed Virgin Mother as the repository of all wisdom, strength, nurturing and love, upon which we stand and to whom we ultimately return. Indeed one can hopscotch through Ford's films to actresses such as Jane Darrell (Grapes of Wrath), Sarah Allgood, and assorted Mildrid Natwicks and May Marshes to see the ghosts of Abby wafting behind the silvery frames in the dark.
However one takes this obsession, it was certainly healthier than his fellow Catholic director Alfred Hitchcock's obsession with blonde leading ladies. Ford married Mary McBryde Smith, a ravishing monied Irish-American beauty with English blood. The marriage was successful and lasting. She bore him two children who were largely neglected by their father, so often away either on Hollywood sets or, in later years, overseas or carousing with friends on his yacht. In any case, although the family practiced their Catholic faith, they are unlikely candidates for canonization. John's older brother Frank was responsible for introducing him to Hollywood. Succumbing however to the Irish predilection for alcohol, Frank faded from the scene after having enjoyed great success in the early years of silent motion pictures. In later years, his brother used him as an extra. While Malham primarily examines Ford's magnificent and arguably unique contribution to world cinema, his book is also a fine short history of the motion-picture business itself, running through the early efforts of Melies in France and those of Edison in New York and New Jersey, the migration from the East Coast to Los Angeles, and the development of the studio systems. The largest and most important part of the book, however, is Malham's analysis of dozens of Ford's finest movies, all of which he examines not only for the source of their popularity and success but for their artistic achievement. Malham clearly has a preference for many of the Westerns, but he devotes considerable space to Ford's wartime work in the South Pacific. As is well known, Ford had his own traveling troupe of actors whom he trusted and on whom sometimes, in a sly and brutal way, he exercised his calculated temper in order to maintain control. Although he could not get away with such behavior today, he certainly got the best from Ward Bond, John Wayne, Katharine Hepburn, Henry Fonda, Richard Widmark, Maureen O'Hara, and many other stars with whom he worked. Joseph Malham's book includes a treasure trove of photos of Ford and his troupe on location. Many of Ford's films are available online or on DVD. Now excuse me, as I go off to watch The Quiet Man once again.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Today's Mass Reading - Divine Mercy Sunday, April 27, 2014 with Reflection

Divine Mercy Sunday

1ST READING - Acts 2:42-47

42 They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of bread and to the prayers. 43 Awe came upon everyone, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. 44 All who believed were together and had all things in common; 45 they would sell their property and possessions and divide them among all according to each one’s need. 46 Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple area and to breaking bread in their homes. They ate their meals with exultation and sincerity of heart, 47 praising God and enjoying favor with all the people. And every day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.
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.
2 Let the house of Israel say, “His mercy endures forever.” 3 Let the house of Aaron say, “His mercy endures forever.” 4 Let 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 Peter 1:3-9
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who in his great mercy gave us a new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you 5 who by the power of God are safeguarded through faith, to a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the final time. 6 In this you rejoice, although now for a little while you may have to suffer through various trials, 7 so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold that is perishable even though tested by fire, may prove to be for praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8 Although you have not seen him you love him; even though you do not see him now yet believe in him, you rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, 9 as you attain the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
You believe in me, Thomas, because you have seen me, says the Lord; blessed are they 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.” 24 Thomas, 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.” 26 Now 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.


It is striking to note that the usual greeting of the Risen Lord to His disciples was “Peace be with you!” By this, He indicates peace that is not external, or peace that is without problems and conflicts. In truth, the disciples will have more of the conflicts and tensions as they go about spreading the Gospel of Jesus to nations. All the Apostles, except John, will in fact suffer violent death through martyrdom. John himself will be caught, tortured, imprisoned and exiled. Jesus, thus, refers to peace in one’s heart and spirit.

       With Jesus simple words — “Peace be with you” — He was ministering to each of the disciples. The crucifixion shattered their confidence. They saw their Master die, and they were all living in constant fear that they will soon be next. The narrative that we read today says that the doors were locked where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews. Thomas had even deeper wounds to nurse. He had put his trust and his everything in Jesus. Once, in the midst of threats on Jesus’ life, Thomas was able to say before all the disciples: “If the Master goes to Jerusalem to die, let us go to die with him” (cf John 11:16). This much he believed in the power of Jesus. But then, the crucifixion and death of Jesus shattered his confidence in Jesus’ power. Depressed by everything, he uttered: “Unless I see... I will not believe” (v. 25).

       Jesus breathed on the disciples, reminiscent of Genesis 2:7, when God breathed on the first man to communicate His life to him. With His words that seemed like a customary greeting in those times, Jesus restores confidence and inner peace to the disciples. From this, they draw the strength to go and preach the truth about Jesus, no matter what.

       This Sunday, as we celebrate the Divine Mercy Sunday, let us ask Jesus to visit us and all our beloved with His best gift — inner peace. Fr. Domie Guzman, SSP
REFLECTION QUESTIONS: Are you at peace now? Is this peace outside or within? What does this peace give you? How do you nurture the gift of inner peace? How can you share the gift of inner peace with your friends and family?
Grant me Your peace, Lord — the peace that transcends all tribulations and conflicts.

St. Louis Mary de Montfort, pray for us.

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Friday, April 25, 2014

End mind-wandering during Mass

Do you struggle to
focus your attention during Mass?

Does Mass sometimes
become boring and routine?

Do you grow spiritually
at each Mass or does it seem stale?

The profound wisdom found in Meditations Before Mass will help you to quiet your soul, concentrate your mind, and grow more receptive to God's grace in the Holy Mass.

Written for ordinary Catholics who are struggling to become closer to Christ, this classic book by Romano Guardini is full of wisdom and offers practical, straightforward advice that will help you overcome distractions and restlessness while leading you into a more enriching experience when you enter into Holy Communion with God.


Over fifty years ago, Msgr. Romano Guardini resolved to help his parishioners move beyond petty hindrances — to which we are all prone — to full participation in the Mass. Just before Mass each Sunday, he gave a brief talk on some aspect of the Mass, teaching his congregation week by week, topic by topic, how to prepare themselves to participate more prayerfully.

So helpful were these talks that they were soon published and have since been reprinted countless times in numerous countries and languages, helping generations of Catholics to deepen their devotion during Mass.

In these pages, you'll discover:
  • What to do when Mass becomes boring and "routine"
  • How to achieve a genuine — not superficial — stillness
  • The one indispensible element for living a liturgical life
  • How to gain control over your wandering attention
  • One tendency we must overcome when listening to Scripture readings
  • The real meaning of "keeping holy" the Sabbath — and its special importance for the family
  • The importance of listening, and the inner barriers that prevent it
  • Why it's good to arrive early at Mass whenever possible
  • The true significance of standing and kneeling in church
  • And dozens of other practical ways to enrich your worship
"I encourage you to prayerfully read these reflections to help you participate more fruitfully in the Mass, the 'source and summit of the whole Christian life.'"
Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila
Archbishop of Denver

"Insightful and inspiring."
Rev. Michael Scanlan

"You will encounter in these reflections one of the most important spiritual writers of this century."
Fr. Henri Nouwen

Meditations Before Mass
by Msgr. Romano Guardini
List Price: $12.95 - 208 pages

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If you still drag your feet about going to Confession, here's the help you need to overcome your reluctance and open your soul to the vast reservoir of mercy found in Confession.

This down-to-earth, practical guide shows you how to transform your confessions from embarrassing moments in a dark room into profound experiences of God's love.

The author, Fr. John Kane, provides solid guidelines for how you can (and must) make the most effective possible use of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Even better, he shows you how to carry the grace of Confession into your daily life, so that you'll start winning — consistently — your battles against sin.

This is a book you can return to again and again in order to renew your sense of God's mercy — as well as to gain Fr. Kane's help in examining your conscience and bringing your life into greater conformity with the light of the gospel.

Get Fr. Kane's help to confess well and avoid sin:
  • How to tell whether you're sorry for your sins — even if you don'tfeel sorry
  • The embarrassment of going to Confession — how it can actually help you imitate Christ!
  • One truth you must realize, or you'll never drive sin from your soul
  • Three characteristics of the truly forgiven sinner: do you have them?
  • Your past sins: startling ways they can help you love God more today
  • True repentance and its counterfeits: three ways to find the genuine article
  • Two reasons why God forgives sin, but still punishes the sinner
  • The heavy price of your sins: no, you probably don't realize it, andyes, it's worse than you think
  • Why hating sin does not mean hating the sinner
  • Why true saints will always consider themselves sinners
  • Sorrow for sin: how it deepens your compassion for others
  • How to take advantage of Lent each year to overcome your sins
  • And much more that will help you get more spiritual fruit out of Confession than you may even have thought was possible!
"It is a great thing to make a good confession, and this is a good book about how to do it."
Fr. George William Rutler

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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Knowing when to die

Tita Valderama

During a homily in one of the Masses I attended last week, the priest asked Mass goers if they would want to know when they would die. Only two of about a hundred people present mustered the courage to raise their hands.

It may be a simple question, but a tough one to answer. Wouldn’t you want to be given time to repent for your sins and to do good to prepare for a happy death and be welcomed in heaven?

On the other hand, knowing the date of your death would probably stress you out and cause you anxieties that could further complicate situations and advance your passing.

Obstetricians know how to compute the birth date of a child, based on the calculation of the mother’s ovulation period. I am not convinced though that doctors can tell when a patient will die, regardless of the severity of illness.

The priest’s question reminded me of our long-time family doctor’s advise to the daughter of a patient who was diagnosed with lung cancer. Trying to hold back her tears, the daughter asked the doctor how longer her father would live.

The doctor said he couldn’t tell. He related a story about a lady who was told by another doctor that her husband would only have three months at most to live because the cancer was rapidly spreading in his frail body.

The wife went out of the hospital. She was devastated. They have four young children and she was jobless. The husband’s hospital bills were increasing by thousands of pesos each day and the couple’s savings accounts had been depleted. While crossing the highway, a speeding truck hit her and she died instantly.

That was a true story, the doctor said. The wife who was healthy died way ahead of the seriously-ill husband who lived longer than three months.

My sister and I were next to the patient who asked the doctor about her father’s fate. We were there to settle the doctor’s fee. That was a few days after we buried our father in November 1996.

Tatay had emphysema. He battled with the disease for about 20 years. He was a chain smoker in his younger days. He inhaled pesticides, insecticides, fertilizers and other toxic substances while farming.

The farm was our only source of livelihood. We were 11 siblings that he had to feed and send to school so he really had to work hard, spending at least 12 hours a day in the farm every day.

Tatay stopped tending the farm when he was around 60 years old and Kuya was old enough to till the land. Kuya had to stop schooling after finishing Grade 6 to assist Tatay in the farm while Ate and Ditse were staying with our mother’s cousin and helping in the household chores in return for the free full board.

Since the time I heard the doctor’s story, I never asked when somebody would die. I don’t believe doctors who predict a patient’s death.

I put my trust completely in the Lord for He is the only one who knows when to take back the life that He had lent us.

When Ate was diagnosed with Stage 4 gingival cancer in August 2011, we constantly prayed and begged that she be restored to full health although we knew the cancer was at a terminal stage already.

We believed and we trusted in the magnificent powers of prayer and in God’s mercy. We still do so even after He had taken back Ate into his arms after two years and two months since she was diagnosed with the dreaded cancer.

We keep the same faith even when Ditse was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer barely three months after Ate passed on last October. We trust that the Lord will keep Ditse in His graces and grant her Divine Healing in His time.

Early this year, I, too, was advised by a naturopathic doctor to watch over my health as cancer cells were beginning to form in my pancreas. Contradicting findings from different doctors were confusing and stressful.

Alternative medicines cost a fortune so I stopped taking any after spending almost all of my salaries for two months to tablets, capsules and powders that did not seem to make a progress on my health. I just took a switch in my eating habits and tried to handle stressful situations with prayers. I just take vitamin supplements to address my nutritional deficiencies and I try to stay away from cancer-causing food. Now I feel better.

The Holy Week that passed gave me time to reflect on my life better. It strengthened my belief that the difficult trials coming our way are mere challenges, and never intended as punishment for our wrongdoings.

As my father uttered in his death bed, I believe that these trials are opportunities to help Jesus carry the cross. Only God knows when one should join Him in His Kingdom.
How about you? Would you want to know when you will die?

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Meaning of Easter

By Fr.Shay Cullen


This is the sacred time of year when we recall the life and death and resurrection of Jesus,the man from Nazareth. His life commitment to goodness and self-sacrifice as a champion of the poor and the oppressed led to his arrest torture and execution at the hands of the unjust and cruel authorities. He and his mission did not die and disappear forever nailed to the cross of the Roman execution squad.

His person and his mission lives on in people of faith.He rose from the dead and the life giving values he gave the world ; unselfish love,compassion, justice,mercy, human rights and dignity has changed the lives of millions. By his example, his teaching,story telling and wisdom he inspired generations to be his followers. He called everyone to repent,change their lives and become people of God not people of the selfish greedy world. But the powers that ruled were hard of heart,they opposed him,they spied on him,they sought ways to accuse him of heresy or an act of subversion so they could stop his transforming and liberating work.

He had no riches,exercised no power,only that of love and friendship,he challenged the rich and the powerful,he called them to repent,have compassion for the poor, the sick, hungry, dispossessed and downtrodden people. He challenged them to share their wealth, help those striving to reform society, make it into a”Kingdom”,not of selfish pleasure seeking people, but the Kingdom of people that love goodness,justice and the poor. He wanted a complete change of mind and heart and equality for all.

When asked by those seeking his favor and wanting to be named as the most important, he shocked them all when he selected a child from the fringes of the crowd.Children were without status or position and he selected a child and said “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me”(Matthew 18)

The most forgotten and most vulnerable of all were the children and he established their inalienable rights and dignity above all else.

This great truth revealed by Jesus of Nazareth has been downplayed and forgotten throughout history and the rights of the child have been established only in our generation. The Convention on the Rights of the Child and many national and international laws are now protecting them. But not being well implemented. They are much too late for millions of abused and neglected and starving children throughout history and even until today. Not all people or societies respect and implement child protection laws and give them the respect and care they are due.

Pope Francis has made strong statements and actions to apologize on behalf of the church as an institution for the abuse of children and youth by clergy and bishops. He took responsibility for the child abuse crimes of the past and asked forgiveness of the victims and survivors. 

Asking forgiveness is an admission of guilt but a heavy burden,undeserved, for Pope Francis.
But most victims want justice and strong action against all abusers,whether they be clergy, parents or members of any profession.Hundreds of priests have been fired others jailed in recent years. Guidelines are in place to stop the abuse and church authorities must act quickly to secure the evidence against any alleged abuser and bring him to justice as the evidence so warrants. They must never cover up a crime.

Jesus was clear about this while preaching forgiveness and compassion for the repentant sinner. He also said that the guilty should be given punishment. In the Gospel of Matthew 18; 6 it refers to tying a millstone around the neck of the child abuser proven guilty and thrown into the deepest ocean. I am not advocating the death penalty but the end of impunity for many child abusers especially clergy and those who protect them. Good non-corrupt Investigators,prosecutors and judges can do justice for the children.The corrupt authorities are bribe takers and let them go free to abuse more children.It will be bad for them who cause such injustice against children and the innocent, Jesus said. Hell on earth or in the after life waits them he warned.

Jesus of Nazareth died so that there would be a just society and where protection ,dignity and justice for all and especially the victims of abuse and oppression would be respected and upheld.

The authorities could not accept the truth he spoke that they were oppressing and exploiting the poor and vulnerable people and so they had Jesus falsely accused ,arrested and executed. It was murder arranged by false allegations.Throughout history the corrupt rich are doing the same. Hundreds of human rights advocates and defenders,pastors,priests,social workers,have been assassinated for following the example of Jesus of Nazareth. In the catholic Philippines hundreds including priests have been shot dead for taking a stand for social justice and human rights.

We have to think of these realities of life today when we look on a crucifix.Its not a piece of jewelry but was a cruel instrument of death and is now symbolic of the murder of good people working for justice.Yet just as he overcame death his message lives on so too the death of his followers today will not be forgotten but will inspire many more to step into the gap and continue working for equality, freedom, justice and human rights for all.That’s the meaning of Easter and the resurrection. ,

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Pope Francis on the Family and Human Life

by Father John McCloskey

What a first year this has been for Pope Francis and for the Church! From Pius XII to the current pontiff, the Church and the world have been exceptionally blessed with a string of pontiffs who have been outstanding in the area that is most important for all of us – holiness. All these popes have been proposed for canonization with the exception of the still-living Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, and I would not count him out after he leaves this vale of tears.
Pope Francis' situation is unusual. Perhaps never has a pope in modern times been both so attractive to the world press and so misquoted especially on the topic of sexuality. The motivation appears obvious. In fact, the secular media is hoping against hope that somehow Francis wants to or is capable of changing infallibly proclaimed Church teaching in this area. Sadly, much of the misinformation comes from poorly formed Catholics who dismiss the moral teaching of the Church on matters such as birth control, the permanence of marriage, abortion, sex (whether heterosexual or homosexual) outside of marriage, and the definition of marriage as a faithful union of one man and one woman for life.
It is no surprise that much of this wishful thinking comes from the Western world, which is now pagan in fact and in practice. The positive side of this rejection of natural law norms and collapse in Christian belief may be the potential for the Church's new evangelization to attract millions to union with Rome, including even large numbers of our separated brothers in Christ. In this way the Church could substantially realize one of our soon-to-be-Saint John Paul the Great's greatest dreams and hopes: reunion! Given the drastic and continued shrinkage in the mainline Protestant churches, in the near future (perhaps even by 2017, the 500th anniversary of the pounding of Luther's theses onto the Cathedral door in Wittenberg), the Catholic Church may have effectively completed the Counter-Reformation, although the numbers of the unchurched will likely remain substantial.
Among other profound challenges confronting the era in which Pope Francis has the responsibility of guiding the barque of St. Peter is the failure of much of the world, especially Europe and the U.S., to reproduce in sufficient numbers to replace their populations. This is both a crisis of faith in the future and a crisis in Catholic faith that, despite media disinformation, our pope does not share. As Cardinal Raymond Burke points out, the pope has spoken "unambiguously in defense of Catholic teaching on abortion, contraception, euthanasia and marriage," and it is clear that the Holy Father firmly supports all Catholic moral teaching. As Cardinal Bergoglio, for example, he called efforts to redefine marriage "an anthropological regression." More recently, in his Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis has written:
Among the vulnerable for whom the Church wishes to care with particular love and concern are unborn children, the most defenceless and innocent among us. Nowadays efforts are made to deny them their human dignity and to do with them whatever one pleases, taking their lives and passing laws preventing anyone from standing in the way of this. Frequently, as a way of ridiculing the Church's effort to defend their lives, attempts are made to present her position as ideological, obscurantist and conservative. Yet this defence of unborn life is closely linked to the defence of each and every other human right. It involves the conviction that a human being is always sacred and inviolable, in any situation and at every stage of development. Human beings are ends in themselves and never a means of resolving other problems.
No, the pope will not and cannot change fundamental church doctrine, no matter how eager the secular media are to record the revolution.
The feast of St. Joseph, marks the one-year anniversary of Pope Francis inauguration Mass. At that time he presented the Holy Family as the model for marriage in these words:
How does Joseph exercise his role as her protector? Discretely, humbly, and silently. But with an unfailing presence and utter fidelity, even when he finds it hard to understand. From the time of his betrothal to Mary until the finding of the twelve- year old Jesus in the temple of Jerusalem, he is there at every moment with loving care. As the spouse of Mary, he is at her side in good times and bad, in the journey to Bethlehem for the census and in the anxious hours she gave birth: amidst the drama of the flight into Egypt, during the frantic search for their child in the Temple and later in the day to day life of the family of Nazareth, in the workshop where he taught his trade to Jesus.
Happily, therefore, we can conclude that this first pope from the Americas (although only one generation removed from Italian soil) will guard the integrity of the family in the Church as Joseph protected Mary and her Son. Pope Francis remains recognizably pope and Church doctrine is still Church doctrine. And the gates of hell—not to mention the media and those eager to dilute demanding teachings—will not prevail against it!
First appeared on Truth and Charity Forum in March, 2014.

Monday, April 21, 2014

L’Osservatore Romano Press Office  Vatican 

VATICAN – Pope’s Easter Message: “Christ is hope and comfort to the Christian communities suffering most for their faith on account of discrimination and persecution … is close to all human situations of suffering and injustice”


Vatican City (Agenzia Fides) – “If Jesus is risen, then – and only then – has something truly new happened, something that changes the state of humanity and the world. Then He, Jesus, is someone in whom we can put absolute trust; we can put our trust not only in his message, but in Jesus himself, for the Risen One does not belong to the past, but is present today, alive.”

These are the words spoken by Holy Father Benedict XVI at noon on Easter Sunday, April 8, from the central loggia of St. Peter’s Basilica. In his Easter Message, followed by the Easter wishes in 65 languages to peoples and nations throughout the world, and the Blessing Urbi et Orbi, the Pope said: “Christ is hope and comfort to the Christian communities suffering most for their faith on account of discrimination and persecution. And he is present as a force of hope through his Church, which is close to all human situations of suffering and injustice. ” 

Benedict XVI continued: “May the Risen Christ grant hope to the Middle East and enable all ethnic, cultural and religious groups in that region to work together to advance the common good and respect for human rights. Particularly in Syria, may there be an end to bloodshed and an immediate commitment to the path of respect, dialogue and reconciliation, as called for by the international community. May the many refugees from that country who are in need of humanitarian assistance find the acceptance and solidarity capable of relieving their dreadful suffering. May the Paschal victory encourage the Iraqi people to spare no effort in pursuing the path of stability and development. In the Holy Land, may Israelis and Palestinians courageously take up anew the peace process.” A particular memory on behalf of the Pope went to the African continent: “May the Lord, the victor over evil and death, sustain the Christian communities of the African continent; may he grant them hope in facing their difficulties, and make them peacemakers and agents of development in the societies to which they belong.

 May the Risen Jesus comfort the suffering populations of the Horn of Africa and favour their reconciliation; may he help the Great Lakes Region, Sudan and South Sudan, and grant their inhabitants the power of forgiveness. In Mali, now experiencing delicate political developments, may the Glorious Christ grant peace and stability. To Nigeria, which in recent times has experienced savage terrorist attacks, may the joy of Easter grant the strength needed to take up anew the building of a society which is peaceful and respectful of the religious freedom of all its citizens.” (SL) (Agenzia Fides 11/04/2012)

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Today's Mass Readings - Easter Sunday, April 20, 2014 with Reflection

1ST READING - Acts 10:34, 37-43 -
34 Peter proceeded to speak and said, 37 “You know what has happened all over Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached, 38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power. He went about doing good and healing all those oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. 39 We are witnesses of all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree. 40 This man God raised on the third day and granted that he be visible, 41 not to all the people, but to us, the witnesses chosen by God in advance, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42 He commissioned us to preach to the people and testify that he is the one appointed by God as judge of the living and the dead. 43 To him all the prophets bear witness, that everyone who believes in him will receive forgiveness of sins through his name.”
P S A L M - Psalm 118:1-2, 16-17, 22-23
R: This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad.
1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his mercy endures forever. 2 Let the house of Israel say, “His mercy endures forever.” (R)16 The right hand of the Lord has struck with power; the right hand of the Lord is exalted. 17 I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord. (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. (R)
2ND READING - Colossians 3:1-4 (or 1 Corinthians 5:6-8)
1 Brothers and sisters: If then you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. 2 Think of what is above, not of what is on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ your life appears, then you too will appear with him in glory. 
Christ, our paschal lamb, has been sacrificed; let us then feast with joy in the Lord.
John 20:1-9 (or Luke 24:13-35)
1 On the first day of the week, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark, and saw the stone removed from the tomb. 2 So she ran and went to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they put him.” 3 So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb. 4 They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter and arrived at the tomb first; 5 he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in. 6 When Simon Peter arrived after him, he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there, 7 and the cloth that had covered his head, not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place. 8 Then the other disciple also went in, the one who had arrived at the tomb first, and he saw and believed. 9 For they did not yet understand the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead.


We speak of the resurrection of Jesus as a most important event. It is the vindication of Jesus in the face of all His detractors. The heavenly Father, opting to be silent in the duration of the passion, now rewards Jesus with new life, power, glory and exultation. Later, Paul writes that the resurrection of Jesus also becomes the most important seal for the preaching of the Christian faith. He says, “If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is our faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God” (1 Corinthians 15:14-15).

       Belief in the Risen Jesus, however, was not easy and automatic for the first disciples. Obviously traumatized with the passion of Jesus, where they saw Him going through every blow and torture, the disciples were skeptical and suspicious of every report they received about Jesus being seen alive. Two disciples decided to take a break from everything by distancing themselves — away from Jerusalem, away from the circle of disciples, away from the issue of Jesus. They could have been so depressed and so caved in with their emotions that they failed to recognize with their eyes the presence of Jesus, who walked with them for a long time on the road to Emmaus. It was not enough that Jesus had come. He had to instill faith anew in them, explaining to them the mysterious plan of God written in the Law and the prophets about the suffering Messiah, and letting their hearts burn again in hope.

       In our time, this touch of faith, which can only be a gift of the Risen Jesus, is what many need. True, there are many among us who are “disciples” and “apostles” of Jesus. Many bear the name Christian, and some even claim to be “born-again Christians.” But many — in an instant of trials and difficulties, in an encounter of frustration, or in an exposure to the seemingly dominant forces and manifestations of evil — easily give up their enthusiasm, their passion and conviction for Jesus. Fr. Domie Guzman, SSP
REFLECTION QUESTIONS: What are the personal fruits of your own belief in Jesus as risen from the dead? Is there someone you know who needs a boost in his or her faith in Jesus as Lord? What can you do for this person?
Dearest Lord, open my eyes to Your presence in my life. May I shine Your presence, too, in the lives of the people around me.

St. Beuno, abbot, pray for us.

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Saturday, April 19, 2014


Life isn't meant to be easy, it is meant
to be lived..... Sometimes happy, other
times rough... But for every up and 
down, you learn lessons that make 
you strong...

Good day! 

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Passion Begins

by Father John McCloskey

Today's is a challenging assignment: To write on the beginning of Christ's Passion this evening, the deicide by which (you all know the back story) mankind's Original Sin in Eden and (conservatively speaking) the subsequent millennia of accumulated personal sins were atoned for. I've often thought that, when I reach heaven (Deo volente), I want to sit down with Adam and Eve and ask them: "What were you thinking!"

Yes, our sins have been forgiven, but at what a price! Our yearly liturgical baptism in the events of Holy Week makes the agonizing exchange evident in excruciating detail.

As we advance from Palm Sunday to Good Friday, we have to be candid that we may find it hard to enter fully into the mentality of the disciples. We, after all, share something of the perspective of Jesus – not because we are any better than the disciples or Mary Magdalene, but because we know how things turn out.

In particular, we know how the Palm Sunday euphoria gives way, a few days later, like a stage trap-door, to the emotional descent into the Agony in the Garden, the Sanhedrin's kangaroo court, Pilate's miscarriage of justice, the scourging, the mocking, the Via Dolorosa, and the Crucifixion.

Why didn't the disciples understand better what was coming, after the hints and flat-out prophecies of Jesus as he "set his face" towards Jerusalem to be sacrificed as the Lamb of God? Did the crowds, the acclaim, the miracles, and the triumphal entry into Jerusalem all get in the way?

Here, midway through Holy Week, we unite ourselves to the Passion of Christ, and particularly those final hours on the Cross. But how do we do this? Day by day, we are called to live out the meaning of Calvary in the middle of the world, where most of us find ourselves. Yet too often we complain about even the smallest crosses or fail to recognize them as veritable mother lodes of grace for ourselves and for others.

The disciples, being only human (and fallen humans at that), could, perhaps understandably, get carried away by being the hand-picked leaders of the Messiah's upcoming New World Order and, consequently, overlook the predicted doom and gloom. After all, so many things Jesus said to them sailed right over their heads – just look at their inability to comprehend the point of the simplest parable without his help.

Why wouldn't they also resist the implications of Christ's very hard sayings about his upcoming suffering and death?

For us it should be different. One purpose for the Church's yearly re-presentation of the events of our salvation is to make it easier for us to take up our crosses, big and little, offering them up in love and thanksgiving to Our Savior who out of love for us endured a cross beyond our comprehension. As Catholics, we know that God's divine condescension permits us a share in his redeeming action, "filling up what is lacking," as St. Paul daringly put it to the Colossians, in the sufferings of Christ.

We do this when we embrace our daily challenges and opportunities to help others, from the spiritual to the mundane. For instance, we can offer our Communion with a special intention for sinners or the deceased. We can also offer up work in the office or at home for sinners and the souls in purgatory; we can practice self-denial in food and drink and entertainment and engage in corporal or spiritual works of mercy (you can read about them in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which no doubt is on the table beside you as you read this).

We can pray the Holy Rosary and the Divine Mercy Chaplet, picket or pray before an abortion clinic, make pilgrimages to holy places with family and friends. We can read books on the Passion by saints, mystics, and sound spiritual authors (Pope Emeritus Benedict's concluding volume on Jesus offers great insights).

And of course there is the Way of the Cross itself, available with commentary in dozens of worthwhile versions, including those of (soon-to-be) St. John Paul and St. Josemaria Escriva. The intercessory value of such offerings to God, even the smallest, can be immeasurable, since that value comes from Christ.

In any event, none of us will escape life without suffering. Whatever form it takes – bodily pain, mental illness, addiction, poverty, loneliness, bereavement, persecution. It is in experiencing this suffering that we truly are able to identify to some extent with HIS Suffering, which was both incalculably worse (because he bore the sum total of human sin and suffering) and completely unmerited.

It is then, in our own affliction, that we grasp something of how he – true God and true Man – suffered for each one of us.

(As the old hymn goes: Let me love you more and more.)

So in this momentous season for the Church, but also for an unsuspecting world, we all have a part: share your mercy and love of the suffering Christ with everyone you meet.

First appeared on The Catholic Thing, April 2014.