Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Soulmate Prayer

Dear God, Loving Essence of all there is. Please fill me with your sacred presence.

I ask for your Love and Guidance And for your blessings
As I explore the deep reaches of my heart I ask for you assistance In releasing that which stands in the way of true love.

My heart is pure; my intentions clear. lease bring to me my most perfect partner. I seek a partner who enhances me by his/her very being.

Who brings more love, joy, peace and prosperity to my life,
Who I can love fully and who can fully receive my love,
Who loves, honors and cherishes me completely, and always.

May my heart be open and my head be clear.
May my life be ready to welcome True love.
May I be embraced in a circle of your love.
And uplifted by your grace. And so it is.


Monday, March 30, 2015


Anne Hendershott and Christopher White's new book, "Renewal: How the New Generation of Faithful Priests and Bishops Is Revitalizing the Catholic Church," delivers much more than even its title promises.

It may in fact deliver too much, in that excessive space is devoted to acquainting or reacquainting the reader with the names and stories of a multitude of bishops, priests, religious and academics — stories that include accounts of failings that I do not doubt are true but are not necessary.

Much more to the point is the book's quotation from St. John Paul II on "the problem of democratization and the blurring of the distinction between the ordained and the non-ordained" from way back in 1987, when he was speaking on American soil: Discussing "… the danger of confusing the role of the clergy with that of the laity, the pope spoke supportively of the lay participation in parish life but warned [that by] 'empowering the laity in ministry, we run the risk of clericalizing the laity and laicizing the clergy.'"

Here, I think the authors "get it," by using the pope's words to convey that clericalism, whether exhibited by bishops, priests or laity, "must be changed so that the New Evangelization can be actualized, so the promise of the Council and the extraordinary run of holy and learned popes' wishes are finally fulfilled."

As for that good news, as the authors do a nice job of documenting, vocations of priests and faithful religious are booming, and their average age is lowering.

In addition, we should remember the crucial importance of the laity to the vocation crisis: The good example of faithful Catholic families is the most effective way to ensure a growing number of such vocations to the priesthood and religious life, not to mention raising up a new generation of laypeople living faithfully in the middle of the modern world.

With prayers and affection,

Fr. John McCloskey

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Today's Mass Readings - Palm Sunday, March 29, 2015 with Reflection


1ST READING - Isaiah 50:4-7
The Lord God has given me a well-trained tongue, that I might know how to speak to the weary a word that will rouse them. Morning after morning he opens my ear that I may hear; and I have not rebelled, have not turned back. I gave my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who plucked my beard; my face I did not shield from buffets and spitting. The Lord God is my help, therefore I am not disgraced; I have set my face like flint, knowing that I shall not be put to shame.

P S A L M - Psalm 22:8-9, 17-18, 19-20, 23-24
R: My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?
7 [8]All who see me scoff at me; they mock me with parted lips, they wag their heads: 8 [9] “He relied on the Lord; let him deliver him, let him rescue him, if he loves him.” (R) 16 [17] Indeed, many dogs surround me, a pack of evildoers closes in upon me; they have pierced my hands and my feet; 17 [18] I can count all my bones. (R) 18 [19] They divide my garments among them, and for my vesture they cast lots. 19 [20] But you, O Lord, be not far from me; O my help, hasten to aid me. (R) 22 [23] I will proclaim your name to my brethren; in the midst of the assembly I will praise you: 23 [24] “You who fear the Lord, praise him; all you descendants of Jacob, give glory to him; revere him, all you descendants of Israel! (R)

2ND READING - Philippians 2:6-11
Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross. Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Christ became obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name.

Mark 14:1–15:47:47
The Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread were to take place in two days’ time. So the chief priests and the scribes were seeking a way to arrest him by treachery and put him to death. 2They said, “Not during the festival, for fear that there may be a riot among the people.” When he was in Bethany reclining at table in the house of Simon the leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of perfumed oil, costly genuine spikenard. She broke the alabaster jar and poured it on his head. There were some who were indignant. “Why has there been this waste of perfumed oil? It could have been sold for more than three hundred days’ wages and the money given to the poor.” They were infuriated with her. Jesus said, “Let her alone. Why do you make trouble for her? She has done a good thing for me. The poor you will always have with you, and whenever you wish you can do good to them, but you will not always have me. She has done what she could. She has anticipated anointing my body for burial. Amen, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed to the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.” 10 Then Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, went off to the chief priests to hand him over to them. 11 When they heard him they were pleased and promised to pay him money. Then he looked for an opportunity to hand him over. 12 On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, when they sacrificed the Passover lamb, his disciples said to him, “Where do you want us to go and prepare for you to eat the Passover?” 13 He sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the city and a man will meet you, carrying a jar of water. Follow him. 14 Wherever he enters, say to the master of the house, “The Teacher says, ‘Where is my guest room where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’” 15 Then he will show you a large upper room furnished and ready. Make the  preparations for us there.” 16 The disciples then went off, entered the city, and found it just as he had told them; and they prepared the Passover. 17 When it was evening, he came with the Twelve. 18 And as they reclined at table and were eating, Jesus said, “Amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me, one who is eating with me.” 19 They began to be distressed and to say to him, one by one, “Surely it is not I?”20 He said to them, “One of the Twelve, the one who dips with me into the dish. 21 For the Son of Man indeed goes, as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed. It would be better for that man if he had never been born.” 22While they were eating, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, and said, “Take it; this is my body.” 23Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, and they all drank from it. 24 He said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed for many. 25 Amen, I say to you, I shall not drink again the fruit of the vine until the day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.” 26 Then, after singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. 27 Then Jesus said to them, “All of you will have your faith shaken, for it is written: I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be dispersed. 28 But after I have been raised up, I shall go before you to Galilee.” 29 Peter said to him, “Even though all should have their faith shaken, mine will not be.” 30 Then Jesus said to him, “Amen, I say to you, this very night before the cock crows twice you will deny me three times.” 31 But he vehemently replied, “Even though I should have to die with you, I will not deny you.” And they all spoke similarly. 32 Then they came to a place named Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” 33 He took with him Peter, James, and John, and began to be troubled and distressed. 34 Then he said to them, “My soul is sorrowful even to death. Remain here and keep watch.” 35 He advanced a little and fell to the ground and prayed that if it were possible the hour might pass by him; 36 he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible to you. Take this cup away from me, but not what I will but what you will.” 37 When he returned he found them asleep. He said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour? 38 Watch and pray that you may not undergo the test. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.” 39 Withdrawing again, he prayed, saying the same thing. 40 Then he returned once more and found them asleep, for they could not keep their eyes open and did not know what to answer him. 41 He returned a third time and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? It is enough. The hour has come. Behold, the Son of Man is to be handed over to sinners. 42 Get up, let us go. See, my betrayer is at hand.” 43 Then, while he was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived, accompanied by a crowd with swords and clubs who had come from the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders. 44 His betrayer had arranged a signal with them, saying, “The man I shall kiss is the one; arrest him and lead him away securely.” 45 He came and immediately went over to him and said, “Rabbi.” And he kissed him. 46 At this they laid hands on him and arrested him. 47 One of the bystanders drew his sword, struck the high priest’s servant, and cut off his ear. 48 Jesus said to them in reply, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs, to seize me? 49 Day after day I was with you teaching in the temple area, yet you did not arrest me; but that the Scriptures may be fulfilled.” 50 And they all left him and fled. 51 Now a young man followed him wearing nothing but a linen cloth about his body. They seized him, 52 but he left the cloth behind and ran off naked. 53 They led Jesus away to the high priest, and all the chief priests and the elders and the scribes came together. 54 Peter followed him at a distance into the high priest’s courtyard and was seated with the guards, warming himself at the fire. 55 The chief priests and the entire Sanhedrin kept trying to obtain testimony against Jesus in order to put him to death, but they found none. 56 Many gave false witness against him, but their testimony did not agree. 57Some took the stand and testified falsely against him, alleging, 58“We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple made with hands and within three days I will build another not made with hands.’”59 Even so their testimony did not agree. 60 The high priest rose before the assembly and questioned Jesus, saying, “Have you no answer? What are these men testifying against you?” 61 But he was silent and answered nothing. Again the high priest asked him and said to him, “Are you the Christ, the son of the Blessed One?” 62 Then Jesus answered, “I am; and ‘you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power and coming with the clouds of heaven.’” 63 At that the high priest tore his garments and said, “What further need have we of witnesses? 64 You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?” They all condemned him as deserving to die. 65 Some began to spit on him. They blindfolded him and struck him and said to him, “Prophesy!” And the guards greeted him with blows. 66 While Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the high priest’s maids came along. 67Seeing Peter warming himself, she looked intently at him and said, “You too were with the Nazarene, Jesus.” 68 But he denied it saying, “I neither know nor understand what you are talking about.” So he went out into the outer court. Then the cock crowed. 69 The maid saw him and began again to say to the bystanders, “This man is one of them.” 70 Once again he denied it. A little later the bystanders said to Peter once more, “Surely you are one of them; for you too are a Galilean.” 71 He began to curse and to swear, “I do not know this man about whom you are talking.” 72 And immediately a cock crowed a second time. Then Peter remembered the word that Jesus had said to him, “Before the cock crows twice you will deny me three times.” He broke down and wept. 15:As soon as morning came, the chief priests with the elders and the scribes, that is, the whole Sanhedrin, held a council. They bound Jesus, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate. Pilate questioned him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” He said to him in reply, “You say so.” 3The chief priests accused him of many things. Again Pilate questioned him, “Have you no answer? See how many things they accuse you of.” Jesus gave him no further answer, so that Pilate was amazed. Now on the occasion of the feast he used to release to them one prisoner whom they requested. A man called Barabbas was then in prison along with the rebels who had committed murder in a rebellion. The crowd came forward and began to ask him to do for them as he was accustomed. 9Pilate answered, “Do you want me to release to you the king of the Jews?” 10 For he knew that it was out of envy that the chief priests had handed him over. 11 But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release Barabbas for them instead. 12Pilate again said to them in reply, “Then what do you want me to do with the man you call the king of the Jews?” 13 They shouted again, “Crucify him.” 14 Pilate said to them, “Why? What evil has he done?” They only shouted the louder, “Crucify him.” 15 So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released Barabbas to them and, after he had Jesus scourged, handed him over to be crucified. 16 The soldiers led him away inside the palace, that is, the praetorium, and assembled the whole cohort. 17 They clothed him in purple and, weaving a crown of thorns, placed it on him. 18They began to salute him with, “Hail, King of the Jews!” 19 and kept striking his head with a reed and spitting upon him. They knelt before him in homage. 20 And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the purple cloak, dressed him in his own clothes, and led him out to crucify him. 21 They pressed into service a passer-by, Simon, a Cyrenian, who was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to carry his cross. 22 They brought him to the place of Golgotha — which is translated Place of the Skull. 23 They gave him wine drugged with myrrh, but he did not take it. 24 Then they crucified him and divided his garments by casting lots for them to see what each should take. 25 It was nine o’clock in the morning when they crucified him. 26 The inscription of the charge against him read, “The King of the Jews.” 27 With him they crucified two revolutionaries, one on his right and one on his left. 28-29 Those passing by reviled him, shaking their heads and saying, “Aha! You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, 30save yourself by coming down from the cross.” 31 Likewise the chief priests, with the scribes, mocked him among themselves and said, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. 32 Let the Christ, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross that we may see and believe.” Those who were crucified with him also kept abusing him. 33 At noon darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. 34 And at three o’clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which is translated, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” 35Some of the bystanders who heard it said, “Look, he is calling Elijah.” 36 One of them ran, soaked a sponge with wine, put it on a reed, and gave it to him to drink, saying, “Wait, let us see if Elijah comes to take him down.” 37 Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last. 38 The veil of thesanctuary was torn in two from top to bottom. 39 When the centurion who stood facing him saw how he breathed his last he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!” 40 There were also women looking on from a distance. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of the younger James and of Joses, and Salome. 41 These women had followed him when he was in Galilee and ministered to him. There were also many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem. 42 When it was already evening, since it was the day of preparation, the day before the sabbath, 43 Joseph of Arimathea, a distinguished member of the council, who was himself awaiting the kingdom of God, came and courageously went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. 44 Pilate was amazed that he was already dead. He summoned the centurion and asked him if Jesus had already died. 45 And when he learned of it from the centurion, he gave the body to Joseph. 46 Having bought a linen cloth, he took him down, wrapped him in the linen cloth and laid him in a tomb that had been hewn out of the rock. Then he rolled a stone against the entrance to the tomb. 47Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses watched where he was laid.



This start of Holy Week is a truly dramatic one, with the account of the Lord’s Passion. Along with this is a commemoration of Jesus’ entry to Jerusalem. It marked a decisive moment: a triumphal procession, somewhat evoking the days of old when conquering Roman generals led the march on their glittering chariots and elegant stallions, with their officers in polished armor behind them, bearing the banners of the conquered armies. Last in the procession is a ragtag group of slaves and prisoners of war — all in chains, vanquished and dejected, living proof of what happens to those who defy the earthly power of the Roman empire.

         In stark contrast to this is Jesus’ procession and entry to Jerusalem. He rode a miserable donkey, escorted by His motley group of Apostles, of children, peasants from Galilee, and others. Crowds shouted in adulation, “Hosanna! Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that is to come!” But in less than a week, those very same shouts became “Take him away! Crucify him! We have no king but Caesar...” (John 19:15).

         Then there is a small but very intriguing detail in today’s Marcan account of the Passion. In Mark 14: 51-52, we read about the young man who got caught in the confusion of Jesus’ arrest in Gethsemane. He managed to escape but in the process lost his clothing “and ran off naked.”

         This is like a symbol for finding yourself in an embarrassing situation because you were unprepared. Such is the sorry state of a poor disciple of the Lord who has been exposed for his unreadiness.

         As we commence this Holy Week, hopefully we will not be caught unwary or ill-prepared. There’s a lot that will happen with Jesus, which we will all commemorate these days. Rather than remain just passive fence-sitters, flippant members of the rabble, or indifferent floaters and drifters, let us be determined and active followers of Christ — all the way unto the Cross. Fr. Martin Macasaet, SDB

REFLECTION QUESTION: Imagine you’re among the crowd who followed Jesus’ entry to Jerusalem. What feelings surface in you? Talk to God about those feelings.

Lord Jesus, help me to make this Holy Week a more meaningful one for me. Bless me with a repentant heart that I may turn away from my habitual sins.

Blessed Ludovico of Casoria, pray for us.

Do you want to receive this in your email. To get Bo Sanchez to send it to you personally, register and log-on to http://kerygmafamily.com.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

The Fertility Blessing: Prayer for a child

You know my deep desire for a child
A little one to love and to hold, to care for,
to cherish. 

Grant that my body may conceive
and give birth to a beautiful, healthy baby in
Your holy image.

Guide me in all my choices so that this
conception, my pregnancy and my baby’s birth
are in line with Your will.

Heavenly Father and Holy Mother,
hear this prayer of my heart, mind and spirit.


Friday, March 27, 2015

Clues to the mystery of paradise

Do you know
why it's necessary that
scandals beset the Church?

Do you know how to
 tell if you're responding to the
unique gifts God has given you?

God speaks to you.
Are you drowning him out?

*   *   *

Christ hid the
answers to all these 
questions in His Parables.

He knew we couldn't
handle full knowledge of
the state of our souls, or even
what heaven is.

So he gave us His
parables as clues to
the mystery of paradise.

Those clues are revealed
to you in this new book by
popular author and EWTN
television host, Fr. George Rutler

In these pages, Fr. Rutler
guides you through all 24 parables,
unveiling their hidden meanings and
unlocking profound spiritual advice. 

When you join Fr. Rutler on
this enriching tour of Christ's
parables, you'll learn:

The Mustard Seed
Why it gave hope to the early Church
and prefigures her glorious future.

The Hidden Treasure
Are you responding to the
unique gifts Christ has given you?

The Unmerciful Servant
Not only must you forgive, you must
convert the offender. Are you a channel
for God's grace?

Laborers in the Vineyard
Are you letting selfishness and pride get
in the way of the salvation of your neighbor's soul?

The Two Sons
The dangers of agnosticism.
Are you guilty? You may be astonished at the answer.

The Ten Talents
God has given you a special gift.
Do you know what it is, and how you should use it?

The Good Samaritan
Do you know the most overlooked
element of this parable? It may surprise you.

The Rich Man and Lazarus
Learn the evils of self-sufficiency,
and the dangers of taking gifts for granted.

"Fr. Rutler uncovers for us
the light of Christ's parables."
Fr. James V. Schall, S.J.

"This is a book to be
dwelt upon and treasured."
Dr. Anthony Esolen

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In reading Understanding Miracles your eyes will be opened as you finally discover what the Church really teaches about miracles and you'll learn:

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  • The five kinds of miracles (and why it makes a difference)
  • The seven marks of every authentic miracle (can you name even two?)
  • The benefits that miracles always bring (and the "benefits" that lead the Church — and should lead you! — to doubt that an inexplicable even is miraculous)
  • The Eucharist: it's a mystery but not strictly-speaking a miracle. Do you know why?
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Thursday, March 26, 2015

Prayer to Defeat the Work of Satan

O Divine Eternal Father,
in union with your Divine Son and the Holy Spirit,
and through the Immaculate Heart of Mary,
I beg You to destroy the Power of your greatest enemy –
the evil spirits.

Cast them into the deepest recesses of hell
and chain them there forever!
Take possession of your Kingdom which You have created
and which is rightfully yours.

Heavenly Father,
give us the reign of the Sacred Heart of Jesus
and the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

I repeat this prayer out of pure love for You
with every beat of my heart and with every breath I take.


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Prayer for the Dead

God our Father,
Your power brings us to birth,
Your providence guides our lives,
and by Your command we return to dust.

Lord, those who die still live in Your presence,
their lives change but do not end.
I pray in hope for my family,
relatives and friends,
and for all the dead known to You alone.

In company with Christ,
Who died and now lives,
may they rejoice in Your kingdom,
where all our tears are wiped away.
Unite us together again in one family,
to sing Your praise forever and ever.


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The miracle of the Eucharist in Amsterdam (1345) –Thrown into a fire, the Eucharist miraculously is not burned

In 1345, Amsterdam was a tiny fishing village consisting of four streets and a few alleys lined up along the main canal. There were small modest fishermen’s huts, a church, and a monastery. The monastery was the largest building in the city. The Eucharistic Miracle given to this tiny village on March 13, 1345, was the beginning of the growth for which Amsterdam is now famous. In fact, on the 600th anniversary of the miracle, March 13, 1945, the Dutch Catholics attributed all the growth and progress of their city to the Eu¬charistic Miracle which we will now present.
The Eucharistic miracle occurred in a house on Kalverstreet where a fisherman named Ysbrant Dommer on his deathbed called for a priest to come to his home to give him the last rites of the Church and Holy Communion. After having heard the man’s confession, the priest blessed him with the oils of Extreme Unction, and gave him Communion.
The priest had no sooner left than the sick man began coughing violently. His wife ran over to him in an effort to help him, but the husband, gagging and choking beyond control, vomited the contents of his stomach, including the Host, still intact. The wife reacted instinctively. She swept up the Host and threw It into the fireplace. She soon realized her grave mistake, but the fire was raging, and she was not about to put her hands into it for fear of burning herself. That night she slept fitfully, tossing and turning. She was afraid she had committed a terrible sin and had nightmares about the Sacred Host that she had thrown into the fire.
The following morning, as soon as she got out of bed, she went over to the fireplace. The fire was not extinguished yet, and the coals were still quite hot. She stoked the coals, looking for the Eucharist. To her amazement she suddenly saw the Host sitting atop a burning ember. It was not burned at all. It had not even turned color. The Host was fresh and brilliant, lying among the coals. She immediately snatched the Host from the fire, and carefully wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and placed it in a chest for safekeeping.
She then called the priest who had been to her house the previous night and told him the story. The priest then placed the Host into a pyx and washed the cloth in which it had been wrapped. He then carried the Host to the parish church of St. Nicholas. The priest thought it best not to tell anyone about the incident, so as not to stir up gossip involving the woman or her husband. He took the Host, wrapped in the cloth, and returned It to the church, where he placed It in the tabernacle.
The following morning, the priest found the pyx empty to his amazement, but the Host was soon discovered by the same woman when she opened the chest to remove some linens. She was stunned and confused as she knew the priest had taken It away the day before. Had she committed such a terrible sin, that the Lord brought back the proof to punish her with the sight of It? She ran to the Church, and explained what had happened to the priest. Again the priest placed the Eucharist into a pyx and returned it to the church. Then, after yet another disappearance and discovery, the priest contacted other members of the clergy for consultation. All agreed that the occurrences were a direct proof of God’s intercession, and apparently a sign that the miracle should be openly honored. Jesus wanted to use this miracle to awaken His sleeping people. The Miraculous Host was a light which was to shine all over Europe.
The priest told his fellow friars about the miracle, and the story of which soon spread about the town and the surrounding countryside. When the priest formed a procession to go to the fisherman’s house for the Sacred Host, a huge crowd followed him and his fellow priests. They carried the Sa¬cred Host back to the church of St. Nicholas affording Our Lord the honor He deserved for giving such a rich gift to these humble people.
Another wonderful element to the story is that the fisherman who had been dying, the one whom the priest brought the Eucharist on that first night, didn’t die. To the contrary, he recovered, thanks be to God. However, when word of the miracle reached the ears of the townspeople, and those from other villages, they all went to the fisherman’s house to see where the miracle had taken place. It soon became sort of a shrine, and soon afterwards, a Chapel.
Official inquiries were made by the civil magistrate and also the city council, and upon investigation all were satisfied with the truthfulness of the witnesses. They affirmed the occurrence as fact and also endorsed the miracle in official City documents. The Church authorities, too, headed by the Bishop of Utrecht, held an extended inquiry before permitting the clergy to spread information about the event.
In a Pastoral letter, the Bishop officially declared that an authentic miracle had occurred in the little town of Amsterdam. In the same pastoral letter, he authorized veneration of the Eucharistic Miracle of the Host. The little house of the fisherman was soon converted into a Chapel, called Nieuwe Zijds, or Holy Place and the Miraculous Host was placed upon the main altar, for the adoration of the people. The fireplace of the fisherman’s hut was kept intact, and became a permanent part of the new shrine.

Miracle upon Miracle –The second miracle of 1452

A second miracle took place 100 years later. Amsterdam had grown considerably in the century since the first miracle had taken place. On May 24, 1452 the entire city of Amsterdam was engulfed in fire. Most of the buildings were destroyed by the blaze. When the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament (the former fisherman’s hut) caught fire, some of the parishioners made an at¬tempt to save the Miraculous Host from destruction by the flames. They tried to force open the tabernacle. The Host had been placed in a beautiful monstrance, which was inside the tabernacle. The heat of the Church was becoming unbearable. The workers worked feverishly, but to no avail. The heat of the fire had made it impossible to get the door open. As the roof of the Chapel began to cave in, the men ran out of the Church to safety, their mission a failure.
The entire Church collapsed and burned to the ground, including the tabernacle. Upon seeing this, there was a great sadness among the faithful of the city, especially those who had tried in vain to rescue the Eucharistic Miracle. The next day, they sifted through the ashes of the Church, hoping against hope, that something remained of their precious Host. Their grief turned to joy as soon they spotted the Monstrance, completely unscathed, there among the ashes of the Church. Even the silk veil which covered the Monstrance had been saved from the fire. So, once again the Lord saved the same Host from fire in the same house in Amsterdam.
Soon afterwards, a new chapel was built, more elaborate and more beautiful than the previous one. The fame of the Eucharistic Miracle of Amsterdam, now recognized as a twofold miracle, spread beyond the Netherlands to all of Europe. The Hapsburg Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, Maxmillian, went to Amsterdam in pilgrimage to the Eucharistic Miracle. He prayed for a healing at the shrine, which was granted to him because of his faith. He showed his thanksgiving by donating beautiful gifts to the Chapel of the miracle. Amsterdam and the Eucharistic Miracle became a major place of pilgrimages and processions.
Eucharist-Miracle-Amsterdam-caseIn 1665 the city council authorized Father Jan Van der Mey to convert one of the houses of the former convent of the Beghine into a chapel. After completion, the precious monstrance was transferred, but unfortunately was shortly afterwards taken by unknown thieves. Even today there is perpetual exposition of the Blessed Sacrament in memory of the miracle. The only objects that remain from the Eucharistic miracle are the case that contained the Sacred Host (pictured in the photo to the left), the documents that describe the miracle, and some paintings housed in the Historical Museum of Amsterdam. Every year there is a silent procession (Stille Omgang) in honor of the miracle on the eve of Palm Sunday.

Monday, March 23, 2015

The Great Reformer: Francis and the Making of a Radical Pope

by Austen Ivereigh - published by Henry Holt, 2014
A Book Review by Father John McCloskey
For many, our Holy Father, Pope Francis, is still a puzzlement, to use the words of the song from that great musical The King and I. If you are among them, this is the book you have been waiting for to really understand where he is coming from.
Well-known British Catholic journalist Austen Ivereigh has researched his subject and conducted dozens of interviews with no axe to grind to present our current pope. The author does a fine job of helping the reader understand the complicated history and contentious politics of Argentina, a very Latin-American country, so foreign to the American or English mind. He correctly paints Pope Francis as a man on a mission to reform the Curia; however, Francis also wants to make the Curia more efficient to better serve a growing global Church in this still-new millennium, one that may (perhaps sooner than we might think) see the reunion of Christianity into one flock shepherded by the successor of Peter.
In this book, you will learn much about Catholicism in South America, past and present. Because Pope Francis is the first Jesuit pope in history, you will also learn much about his joys and sorrows in the Society of Jesus. St. Ignatius of Loyola's order has done so much good in the Church and the world, but some believe it, too, is in need of reform, and who better to tackle that job than a fellow Jesuit?
Ivereigh covers Jorge Bergoglio's life from birth to his election as pope. It has been a life full of challenges, sufferings and serious persecution from the Argentine government and even his brother Jesuits. All the while, Bergoglio was growing in holiness — and having mystical insights that helped him direct his life to work with the poor, even as cardinal and archbishop of Buenos Aires.
Ivereigh traces the current pope's worldview to his willingness to go back to the essentials of the Gospel. "Despite his powerful intellect, his political mind and his theological sophistication," writes the British journalist, "his belief is primitive, undiluted: God is sovereign, the devil is active, and the power of prayer can act as a vehicle of God's grace."
The writer concludes by quoting Pope Francis: "'Listen up,' Francis told thousands of people in St. Peter's Square on Pentecost. 'Listen up: If the Church is alive, it must always surprise. … A church that does not have the capacity to surprise is a weak and sickened and dying Church. It should be taken to the recovery room at once!'"
First appeared on National Catholic Register in Februrary, 2015.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Today's Mass Readings - Sunday, March 22, 2015 with Reflection

1ST READING - Jeremiah 31:31-34
31 The days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. 32 It will not be like the covenant I made with their fathers the day I took them by the hand to lead them forth from the land of Egypt; for they broke my covenant and I had to show myself their master, says the Lord. 33 But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord. I will place my law within them, and write it upon their hearts; I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 No longer will they have need to teach their friends and relatives how to know the Lord. All, from least to greatest, shall know me, says the Lord, for I will forgive their evildoing and remember their sin no more.

P S A L M - Psalm 51:3-4, 12-13, 14-15
R: Create a clean heart in me, O God.
1 [3] Have mercy on me, O God, in your goodness; in the greatness of your compassion wipe out my offense. 2[4Thoroughly 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) 12 [14] Give me back the joy of your salvation, and a willing  spirit sustain in me. 13 [15] I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners shall return to you. (R)

2ND READING - Hebrews 5:7-9
In the days when Christ Jesus was in the flesh, he offered prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered; and when he was made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.

Whoever serves me must follow me, says the Lord; and where I am, there also will my servant be.

John 12:20-33
20 Some Greeks who had come to worship at the Passover Feast 21 came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we would like to see Jesus.” 22 Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. 23 Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit. 25 Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life. 26Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there also will my servant be. The Father will honor whoever serves me. 27 “I am troubled now. Yet what should I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But it was for this purpose that I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it and will glorify it again.” 29 The crowd there heard it and said it was thunder; but others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” 30 Jesus answered and said, “This voice did not come for my sake but for yours. 31 Now is the time of judgment on this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. 32 And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.” 33 He said this indicating the kind of death he would die.



A group of Greeks came with a request, “Sir, we would like to see Jesus.” Do we still make that same request? Perhaps we even received that same request from people who see us serving in Church or actively involved in a community or parish organization.

       What do we do to help such seekers?

       We can take a hint from the Apostle Philip, who was the one who first received the request. In the Gospel, it is stated, “Philip went and told Andrew, then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus.”

       That’s it — something like a ripple effect or a chain reaction. We don’t have to do it all alone anyway. That’s why there’s community, a place where we are there for one another. Together, we draw near to Jesus — our only goal. He said, “And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.”

       “I will draw everyone to myself” — including Greeks and Galileans, including seekers and searchers, active and passive; including the likes of us, poor servants of the Lord. Jesus Christ acts like a magnet — attracting, pulling, drawing all of us unto Himself. And this He does in a most unique way, in complete contrast with the ways of the world: through the “law,” that is, of dying and rising. “Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.”

       For Jesus, we are all worth dying for — and we are all worth rising for. Let us die with Jesus. And let us rise with Him. Fr. Martin Macasaet, SDB

REFLECTION QUESTIONS: Do you seek Jesus? How?
Lord Jesus, let me seek You with all my heart and let me find You.

St. Nicholas Owen, pray for us.

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Friday, March 20, 2015

How St. Thérèse of Lisieux can bring peace to your soul

From the desk of John Barger,
Publisher Emeritus

"Do you reject Satan?"

"I do," I answered.
But trembled at the
mention of that Name.

"And all His works?"

"I do," I said again,
looking the bishop in the eye
and praying fervently that I would.

"And all His
empty promises?"

"I do!"
(But my soul cried out,
No! I don't! I'll never be
able to reject them!)

It was the fall of 1974.
I was the only grownup in a pew
filled with teenaged Confirmation
candidates reciting their nervous "I do's."

As a recent convert, ex-druggie,
long-time drunk, and former soldier,
I was acquainted with the night. Memories
of past sins danced in my mind.

Nonetheless, that evening
— and with all my strength —
I chose goodness.

*     *     *

Confirmation didn't banish temptation,
didn't drive out despair. Weeks later,
troubled by my continued sinfulness and
seeking distraction, I happened on the Confirmation
gift my sponsor had given me . . .

. . . Fr. Jean D'Elbée's beloved book
on the spirituality of St. Thérèse of Lisieux,
who spent most of her life in a cloistered convent.

What could such
an innocent teach me?

My eyes fell on this passage:

"I ask that from now on, you never let your past sins be an obstacle between you and Jesus. It's a ruse of the devil to keep putting our sins before our eyes in order to make them like a screen between the Savior and us."

A ruse of the devil?

"Think of your past sins to persuade yourself of your weakness; think of them to confirm your resolution not to fall again — that's necessary — but think of them mainly to bless Jesus for having pardoned you, for having purified you, for having cast all your sins to the bottom of the sea."

"Do not go looking for them at the bottom of the sea! He has wiped them out; He has forgotten them."

But I haven't forgotten them
— and I continue to fall.

"I'm not saying that you believe too much in your own wretchedness. I'm telling you that you don't believe enough in merciful love."

God's greatest pleasure is to pardon us. The good Lord is more eager to pardon a repentant sinner than a mother to rescue her child from the fire."


This makes sense of Our Lord's
words to a holy soul:

"Not a single soul
falls into Hell that has not
torn itself out of my arms."


No wonder St. Thérèse was
able to say, just before her death:

"Even if I had committed all possible crimes, I would still have the same confidence; I would feel that this multitude of offenses would be like a drop of water thrown into the flaming furnace of God's love."

"This classic beautifully reveals God's
deep love for each of us and awakens
in us a burning love for him. If you want
to grow in love of God, this book is a must."
Fr. Benedict Groeschel

*   *   *  

Are you troubled by your sins?
Afraid you don't love enough?

"In the same way that Jesus said to St. Augustine, 'You would not seek me if you had not already found me,' He will say to you, 'You would not have this great desire to love me if you did not love me already.' He cannot fail to fulfill, beyond even our greatest hopes, a desire that He himself has inspired."

In just a few hours, this singular book,
aptly entitled I Believe in Love, showed me
I had to quit relying on my own efforts,
and even had to cease judging myself.

Certainly, as I had promised that day
so long ago, I still had to reject Satan,
all his works, and all his empty promises.

But that was only the beginning.

From Fr. D'Elbée and St. Thérèse I
learned I must embrace my own
littleness, my poverty, my nakedness,
and powerlessness, and seek but a single
treasure: abandonment to God's mercy.

In three decades now as a Catholic
convert, that's the only program for the
interior life I've found to be within my reach.

Today, it's within your reach, too.

John Barger
Publisher Emeritus, Sophia Institute Press

I Believe in Love:
A Personal Retreat Based on
the Teachings of St. Thérèse of Lisieux
by Fr. Jean C.J. D'Elbée
$18.95 — 304 pages

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Although this guide is published primarily for book clubs and small group discussions, individuals will find it to be an important resource for deepening your spiritual life.

By using this guide and reading I Believe in Love, you will embark on the way to the Father and learn how to focus on Him throughout each day, rest in him amid your troubles, and live joyful with Him at every moment.
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