Saturday, April 30, 2011

Divine Mercy Novena April 22 - 30 - Day 9

Ninth Day:

Today bring to Me *SOULS WHO HAVE BECOME LUKEWARM, and immerse them in the abyss of My mercy. These souls wound My Heart most painfully. My soul suffered the most dreadful loathing in the Garden of Olives because of lukewarm souls. They were the reason I cried out: 'Father, take this cup away from Me, if it be Your will.' For them, the last hope of salvation is to run to My mercy.

Most compassionate Jesus, You are Compassion Itself. I bring lukewarm souls into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart. In this fire of Your pure love, let these tepid souls, who, like corpses, filled You with such deep loathing, be once again set aflame. O Most Compassionate Jesus, exercise the omnipotence of Your mercy and draw them into the very ardor of Your love, and bestow upon them the gift of holy love, for nothing is beyond Your power.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon lukewarm souls who are nonetheless enfolded in the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. Father of Mercy, I beg You by the bitter Passion of Your Son and by His three-hour agony on the Cross: Let them, too, glorify the abyss of Your mercy. Amen.

Pray the Chaplet

*To understand who are the souls designated for this day, and who in the Diary are called 'lukewarm,' but are also compared to ice and to corpses, we would do well to take note of the definition that the Savior Himself gave to them when speaking to St. Faustina about them on one occasion: There are souls who thwart My efforts (1682). Souls without love or devotion, souls full of egoism and selfishness, proud and arrogant souls full of deceit and hypocrisy, lukewarm souls who have just enough warmth to keep themselves alive: My Heart cannot bear this. All the graces that I pour out upon them flow off them as off the face of a rock. I cannot stand them because they are neither good nor bad (1702).

Friday, April 29, 2011

Divine Mercy Novena April 22 - 30 - Day 8

Eighth Day:

Today bring to Me THE SOULS WHO ARE DETAINED IN PURGATORY, and immerse them in the abyss of My mercy. Let the torrents of My Blood cool down their scorching flames. All these souls are greatly loved by Me. They are making retribution to My justice. It is in your power to bring them relief. Draw all the indulgences from the treasury of My Church and offer them on their behalf. Oh, if you only knew the torments they suffer, you would continually offer for them the alms of the spirit and pay off their debt to My justice.

Most Merciful Jesus, You Yourself have said that You desire mercy; so I bring into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart the souls in Purgatory, souls who are very dear to You, and yet, who must make retribution to Your justice. May the streams of Blood and Water which gushed forth from Your Heart put out the flames of Purgatory, that there, too, the power of Your mercy may be celebrated.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon the souls suffering in Purgatory, who are enfolded in the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. I beg You, by the sorrowful Passion of Jesus Your Son, and by all the bitterness with which His most sacred Soul was flooded: Manifest Your mercy to the souls who are under Your just scrutiny. Look upon them in no other way but only through the Wounds of Jesus, Your dearly beloved Son; for we firmly believe that there is no limit to Your goodness and compassion. Amen.
Pray the Chaplet.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Pope is Worried

Can the Pope come right out and yell WAKE UP PEOPLE? .. Not likely, but if you listen to his words, he IS and has been speaking quite plainly for those that have ears to hear!

Divine Mercy Novena April 22 - 30 - Day 7

Seventh Day:

Today bring to Me *THE SOULS WHO ESPECIALLY VENERATE AND GLORIFY MY MERCY, and immerse them in My mercy. These souls sorrowed most over my Passion and entered most deeply into My spirit. They are living images of My Compassionate Heart. These souls will shine with a special brightness in the next life. Not one of them will go into the fire of hell. I shall particularly defend each one of them at the hour of death.

Most Merciful Jesus, whose Heart is Love Itself, receive into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart the souls of those who particularly extol and venerate the greatness of Your mercy. These souls are mighty with the very power of God Himself. In the midst of all afflictions and adversities they go forward, confident of Your mercy; and united to You, O Jesus, they carry all mankind on their shoulders. These souls will not be judged severely, but Your mercy will embrace them as they depart from this life.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon the souls who glorify and venerate Your greatest attribute, that of Your fathomless mercy, and who are enclosed in the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. These souls are a living Gospel; their hands are full of deeds of mercy, and their hearts, overflowing with joy, sing a canticle of mercy to You, O Most High! I beg You O God:

Show them Your mercy according to the hope and trust they have placed in You. Let there be accomplished in them the promise of Jesus, who said to them that during their life, but especially at the hour of death, the souls who will venerate this fathomless mercy of His, He, Himself, will defend as His glory. Amen.

Pray the Chaplet.

*The text leads one to conclude that in the first prayer directed to Jesus, Who is the Redeemer, it is "victim" souls and contemplatives that are being prayed for; those persons, that is, that voluntarily offered themselves to God for the salvation of their neighbor (see Col 1:24; 2 Cor 4:12). This explains their close union with the Savior and the extraordinary efficacy that their invisible activity has for others. In the second prayer, directed to the Father from whom comes "every worthwhile gift and every genuine benefit," we recommend the "active" souls, who promote devotion to The Divine Mercy and exercise with it all the other works that lend themselves to the spiritual and material uplifting of their brethren.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Divine Mercy Novena April 22 - 30 - Day 6

Sixth Day

Today bring to Me THE MEEK AND HUMBLE SOULS AND THE SOULS OF LITTLE CHILDREN, and immerse them in My mercy. These souls most closely resemble My Heart. They strengthened Me during My bitter agony. I saw them as earthly Angels, who will keep vigil at My altars. I pour out upon them whole torrents of grace. Only the humble soul is capable of receiving My grace. I favor humble souls with My confidence.

Most Merciful Jesus, You yourself have said, "Learn from Me for I am meek and humble of heart." Receive into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart all meek and humble souls and the souls of little children. These souls send all heaven into ecstasy and they are the heavenly Father's favorites. They are a sweet-smelling bouquet before the throne of God; God Himself takes delight in their fragrance. These souls have a permanent abode in Your Most Compassionate Heart, O Jesus, and they unceasingly sing out a hymn of love and mercy.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon meek souls, upon humble souls, and upon little children who are enfolded in the abode which is the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. These souls bear the closest resemblance to Your Son. Their fragrance rises from the earth and reaches Your very throne. Father of mercy and of all goodness, I beg You by the love You bear these souls and by the delight You take in them: Bless the whole world, that all souls together may sing out the praises of Your mercy for endless ages. Amen.
Pray the Chaplet.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Divine Mercy Novena April 22 - 30 - Day 5

Fifth Day:

Today bring to Me *THE SOULS OF THOSE WHO HAVE SEPARATED THEMSELVES FROM MY CHURCH, and immerse them in the ocean of My mercy. During My bitter Passion they tore at My Body and Heart, that is, My Church. As they return to unity with the Church, My wounds heal and in this way they alleviate My Passion.

Most Merciful Jesus, Goodness Itself, You do not refuse light to those who seek it of You. Receive into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart the souls of those who have separated themselves from Your Church. Draw them by Your light into the unity of the Church, and do not let them escape from the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart; but bring it about that they, too, come to glorify the generosity of Your mercy.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon the souls of those who have separated themselves from Your Son's Church, who have squandered Your blessings and misused Your graces by obstinately persisting in their errors. Do not look upon their errors, but upon the love of Your own Son and upon His bitter Passion, which He underwent for their sake, since they, too, are enclosed in His Most Compassionate Heart. Bring it about that they also may glorify Your great mercy for endless ages. Amen.

Pray the Chaplet.

*Our Lord's original words here were "heretics and schismatics," since He spoke to Saint Faustina within the context of her times. As of the Second Vatican Council, Church authorities have seen fit not to use those designations in accordance with the explanation given in the Council's Decree on Ecumenism (n.3). Every pope since the Council has reaffirmed that usage. Saint Faustina herself, her heart always in harmony with the mind of the Church, most certainly would have agreed. When at one time, because of the decisions of her superiors and Father confessor, she was not able to execute Our Lord's inspirations and orders, she declared: "I will follow Your will insofar as You will permit me to do so through Your representative. O my Jesus, I give priority to the voice of the Church over the voice with which You speak to me" (Diary, 497). The Lord confirmed her action and praised her for it.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Divine Mercy Novena April 22 - 30 - Day 4

Fourth Day:

Today bring to Me  *THOSE WHO DO NOT BELIEVE IN GOD AND THOSE WHO DO NOT YET KNOW ME. I was thinking also of them during My bitter Passion, and their future zeal comforted My Heart. Immerse them in the ocean of My mercy.

Most compassionate Jesus, You are the Light of the whole world. Receive into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart the souls of those who do not believe in God and of those who as yet do not know You. Let the rays of Your grace enlighten them that they, too, together with us, may extol Your wonderful mercy; and do not let them escape from the abode which is Your Most Compassionate Heart.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon the souls of those who do not believe in You, and of those who as yet do not know You, but who are enclosed in the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. Draw them to the light of the Gospel. These souls do not know what great happiness it is to love You. Grant that they, too, may extol the generosity of Your mercy for endless ages. Amen.

Pray the Chaplet.

*Our Lord's original words here were "the pagans." Since the pontificate of Pope John XXIII, the Church has seen fit to replace this term with clearer and more appropriate terminology.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Divine Mercy Novena April 22 - 30 - Day 3

Third Day:

Today bring to Me ALL DEVOUT AND FAITHFUL SOULS, and immerse them in the ocean of My mercy. In this way you will console Me in the bitter grief into which the loss of souls plunges Me.

Most Merciful Jesus, from the treasury of Your mercy, You impart Your graces in great abundance to each and all. Receive us into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart and never let us escape from It. We beg this grace of You by that most wonderous love for the heavenly Father with which Your Heart burns so fiercely.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon faithful souls, as upon the inheritance of Your Son. For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, grant them Your blessing and surround them with Your constant protection. Thus may they never fail in love or lose the treasure of the holy faith, but rather, with all the hosts of Angels and Saints, may they glorify Your boundless mercy for endless ages. Amen.

Pray the Chaplet

Happy Easter

A most blessed and joyful Easter to everyone. Remember we have an army to pray for and with in the Communion of Saints, consisting of the Church Triumphant in Heaven, the Church Militant here on Earth and the Church Suffering in Purgatory (who can't pray for themselves). Let us always include these along with our family, friends and those we hold dear as well as those that are yet to be converted.

ALLELUIA! 
HE IS RISEN! 
HE IS TRULY RISEN!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

While Jesus Is Away Today .......

........ let's take this time to really review and reconsider what we have in the Blessed Eucharistic Presence ... the REAL & TRUE PRESENCE. Let us wake up tomorrow, Easter morning, renewed and on fire with love of God, giving Him the honor and glory befitting of the King of the Universe. After all, did He not give ALL FOR US, even at our WORST?!

Gabriel is a young man I've been familiar with for some time now. His love and devotion is a blessing to witness as he touches many many people, both young and old. He speaks from the heart and his heart is filled with the Holy Spirit. A very wise man for his years indeed. Enjoy this video and take his message to heart.

Let us begin anew with the Eternal Flame, the Eternal Hope, our Eternal Triune God, King of Endless Glory, to Him be all praise, honor and glory in time and through eternity!

And may you, your friends, family and all those you hold dear share in the blessings and joy of this Easter Season!



As an aside here, those of us that are disabled and cannot even go to Mass let alone daily adoration, can always do our adoration where ever we are. There's even an online Adoration Chapel where we can have our 'Holy Hour' at home. You will find that shortly after you begin ... your 'hour' grows all by itself ;)

Divine Mercy Novena April 22 - 30 - Day 2

Second Day:

Today bring to Me  *THE SOULS OF PRIESTS AND RELIGIOUS, and immerse them in My unfathomable mercy. It was they who gave Me strength to endure My bitter Passion. Through them as through channels My mercy flows out upon mankind.

Most Merciful Jesus, from whom comes all that is good, increase Your grace in men and women consecrated to *Your service, that they may perform worthy works of mercy; and that all who see them may glorify the Father of Mercy who is in heaven.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon the company of chosen ones in Your vineyard—upon the souls of priests and religious; and endow them with the strength of Your blessing. For the love of the Heart of Your Son in which they are enfolded, impart to them Your power and light, that they may be able to guide others in the way of salvation and with one voice sing praise to Your boundless mercy for ages without end. Amen.

Pray the Chaplet.

*In the original text, St. Faustina uses the pronoun "us" since she was offering this prayer as a consecrated religious sister. The wording adapted here is intended to make the prayer suitable for universal use.

Friday, April 22, 2011

We Adore You oh Christ and we Praise You ....

         ... because by Your Holy Cross,
You have redeemed the world!
How often have we gazed upon a Crucifix in our lives? If we grew up in a Catholic family, we likely can't even count how often our eyes fell upon this sometimes uncomfortable Image. But why do we sometimes feel an uncomfortableness? How many times have we looked at it as if it were nothing more than a picture or statue of some familiar object? How many have really taken just 5 solid minutes to seriously LOOK at a Crucifix and meditate on the Savior of the world, thinking how He hung there for all humanity, knowing how He'd be ridiculed, scorned and despised? This Good Friday, I challenge EVERYONE to pray for the grace to truly behold His Suffering and not take it for granted because we're used to seeing it from children. To really study, consider and open our hearts to the Truth of His Eternal Love and Mercy. Yet while we were still sinners He suffered and died for us.

Do we sometimes look away from the Cross? Do we know we've perhaps put worldly plans and ambitions ahead of Jesus and our souls eternal salvation? Do we want to *forget* about the fact that one day we will all meet Him and account for our actions? If we have true love and are in awe of His Immense Sacrifice, we need have no fear of our actions just judgements. For if we have love, we know HIS LOVE is bigger and His Mercy is without bounds ... like Peter, if we trust in His Mercy with a heart full of contrite love, wishing to console Him ... how would He not look tenderly upon us whom He gave ALL for?

We need to CLING to the Cross, not flee from it. We all have our daily little crosses. Doesn't matter what they are ... how big, how small. We need to unite all our actions and yes, even our failings to His Holy Passion. How wonderful that Jesus can even make good out of our failed efforts! Our lives and our very next breath is a gift from our glorious Triune God ... so if we offer our breaths, heartbeats, joys, sorrows, tears, etc., we are praying as we breath, as our heart beats, even as our minds are occupied with the daily routine of jobs or life. This is to pray without ceasing. Let us this Easter beg for the grace to offer grateful hearts to the One that was obedient to the Father, even to death on a Cross, that we may learn to imitate Him and our blessed Mother in bowing to the Father's Will in all things, knowing that all that is below is merely a temporary affliction and that which awaits us is joy beyond measure ...

"Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him."


Still unable to locate parts 2 & 3, but wanted to get this up for now anyway. God bless!

Divine Mercy Novena April 22 - 30

Divine Mercy Sunday falls on May 1 

In the Diary of St. Faustina, Jesus asked that the Feast of Divine Mercy, known today as Divine Mercy Sunday, be preceded by a Novena to The Divine Mercy. A Novena is nine days of prayer in preparation for a feast. In the case of the Novena to The Divine Mercy, we pray the Chaplet of The Divine Mercy each day for a specific intention.

Our Lord told St. Faustina, "I desire that during these nine days you bring souls to the fountain of My mercy, that they may draw ... strength and refreshment and whatever grace they need in the hardships of life, and especially at the hour of death" (Diary, 1209).

First Day:

Today bring to Me ALL MANKIND, ESPECIALLY ALL SINNERS, and immerse them in the ocean of My mercy. In this way you will console Me in the bitter grief into which the loss of souls plunges Me.

Most Merciful Jesus, whose very nature it is to have compassion on us and to forgive us, do not look upon our sins but upon our trust which we place in Your infinite goodness. Receive us all into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart, and never let us escape from It. We beg this of You by Your love which unites You to the Father and the Holy Spirit.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon all mankind and especially upon poor sinners, all enfolded in the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. For the sake of His sorrowful Passion show us Your mercy, that we may praise the omnipotence of Your mercy for ever and ever. Amen.

Pray the Chaplet.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Bishop Paprocki authorizes St. Michael Prayer after Masses

His Excellency the Most Reverend Thomas John Paprocki, Bishop of Springfield in Illinois, has authorized the public recitation of the Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel - originally composed by the Holy Father Pope Leo XIII in 1886 - following the dismissal at the end of Mass and before the recession.

He announced this authorization to the priests of the Diocese at a dinner preceding the Chrism Mass Tuesday evening and to the people of the Diocese at the conclusion of the Chrism Mass.

Prayer cards with the text of the Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel were distributed after every Mass with the newly blessed and consecrated oils to be place in the pews of the parish churches throughout the Diocese.

In a letter to parish leaders accompanying the cards, Bishop Paprocki explained the reason he has authorized this practice.  He wrote:
One of Satan’s greatest assets is his camouflage, the belief that he doesn’t exist. Disbelief in Satan and the forces of evil leave us unable to resist them. That is why it is good to remember the Prayer to Saint Michael the Archangel. We need to remember that each time we pray we work to defeat our real enemies, not each other, but rather the devil and his evil spirits...

In recent years, a number of parishes have begun reciting the prayer once more, and many individual Catholics have kept up the practice. Both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI have urged the faithful to pray it daily, and especially after Mass.
On the back of the prayer cards to be placed in the pews, Bishop Paprocki explains his vision for the Diocese, using some of the homily he preached at the Masses of Welcome celebrated in each of the Diocese's seven deaneries:
I envision a local Church where Catholics seek to grow in holiness, attend Mass every Sunday and participate regularly in the sacramental life of the Church.  I see Catholics, who love God with all their heart, mind and soul and love their neighbors as themselves.  I see the faithful who bear witness to Jesus Christ in their daily lives and promote respect for all human life from conception to natural death.

I envision an abundance of vocations with priests sufficient to staff and serve our parishes with virtuous commitment.  I see dedicated deacons, nuns, brothers and lay people teaching the faith, caring for the sick, reaching out to the poor and dying.  I see communities where family life is valued, homes where mothers and fathers love their children and whose children love them.  In short, I envision God's kingdom already foreshadowed in the life of the Church and a foretaste of the heavenly banquet in the Eucharistic feast.
 
Everything that I have described is attainable.  The only real obstacle in our lives is sin.  Original sin is our inherited condition.  The spiritual treasures of paradise were forfeited by our human ancestors.  While Jesus Christ's death and resurrection have restored the gifts of heavenly treasures for us, we also have to recognize that the devil, Satan, is real, and he will do everything in his power to deflect us from our goal, which is eternal life with Christ in His kingdom.  This reality should not frighten us nor lead us to despair, for Christ is more powerful than Satan.
 
Prayer and the sacraments are an essential part of what Saint Paul called the "armor of God" in his letter to the Ephesians.  The Saint Michael prayer can help us "stand against the deceits of the devil" (Ephesians 6:11) by "taking the shield of faith" (Ephesians 6:16).  God permits us to be tempted by the devil but gives us the grace to resist him through prayer in our daily lives.  We can and should say the prayer to Saint Michael the Archangel at church with the assembly or on our own during the day for spiritual protection for ourselves and for others.
 
May God bless our diocese and our mission with every grace we need to grow in faith, hope and love.  May Saint Michael the Archangel protect us from all evil, harm and temptation. Amen.

A wonderful practice for every parish and every home and every soul! 

Servitude, Sacrament, Suffering, Sellout




Let all Christians remember to pray the Rosary tomorrow on Good Friday between noon and 3pm.
Praying the Rosary is praying the Gospel, particularly the Sorrowful Mysteries on Good Friday to honor His Perfect and Holy Sacrifice for the salvation of humanity.


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Harry Potter - Innocent Entertainment??

Father Donald Calloway Answer’s Harry Potter Questions

What is the difference between Harry Potter and the Lord of the Rings?
Is All Fantasy Good?
Will Reading Harry Potter Make Your Kids Saints?
Does Harry Potter Follow the World or the Cross?
Will you watch all of this before dismissing it?

The Courageous Priest Site lost 60 subscribers with their last Harry Potter Post. Be warned, this one has much stronger language.
This is a follow-up to How Harry Potter Corrupts Our Children?

Friday, April 15, 2011

More states restrict abortions; group says trend 'unparalleled'

  1. Kansas bans abortions after 21 weeks under "fetal pain" law
  2. Arizona bans tax credits for donations to Planned Parenthood
  3. Abortion rights group Guttmacher Institute says "hostility" to abortion is sweeping statehouses
(CNN) -- As two states imposed the latest rounds of laws against abortion or its providers this week, a new study contends "hostility" toward abortion rights is on the rise in legislatures across the country, according to the Guttmacher Institute.
The trend has been buoyed by GOP victories in last year's elections, as well as how federal health care reform encouraged states to adopt their own laws regarding abortion coverage under plans offered by health exchanges, said Elizabeth Nash, public policy associate at the Guttmacher Institute, an advocacy group for abortion rights.
"It's pretty much an all-out, anti-abortion, free-for-all out there," Nash told CNN. "I've been doing this for almost 12 years now, so I feel like I have some historical sense. This year is just unlike any other year we've seen before."

Add the success of states' anti-abortion laws passed in the last couple of years with the Republican sweep of statehouses last fall, "and you end up with a year that is unparalleled in what we have been seeing in regard to abortion restrictions," Nash said.
Just this week, Kansas became the second state in the nation, following Nebraska, to sign a "fetal pain" law that bans abortions after 21 weeks based on the viewpoint that "fetuses can feel pain beginning after the 21st week of pregnancy," according to a statement by Republican Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback's office.
New law: Wait 72 hours before abortion
Brownback also signed into law Tuesday a bill requiring minors who seek abortions to obtain consent from both parents. The law also places certain prohibitions on late-term and partial birth abortions.

Meanwhile, in Arizona, Gov. Jan Brewer, a Republican, also signed into law Tuesday a ban on state tax credits for donations to Planned Parenthood or other abortion providers. The law also prohibits public funding for abortion training at universities and hospitals for physicians, said state Rep. Debbie Lesko, a Republican who was the prime sponsor of the new laws.
Lesko disputed Guttmacher's characterization that a trend of "hostility" against abortion is running through state legislatures.

"I certainly wouldn't say there's hostility," Lesko told CNN. "I think it's a severe word. I think it's passionate. Pro-life people are passionate about what they believe in. They believe that the fetus is a human, and they do not believe it should be killed."
Lesko called the ban on tax credits for Planned Parenthood -- which is also being considered in Kansas -- as closing "a loophole" in state laws.
"Planned Parenthood was opposed to this bill," Lesko said. "If they truly want the money to be used for other services besides abortions, they could set up a whole other business entity that wouldn't have anything to do with abortion."
A Planned Parenthood Arizona leader said the law discriminates against his organization. The tax credit allowed for donations to fundamental safety-net health care, such as annual gynecological exams, breast cancer screenings and Pap smears, the group said.
"This bill discourages generous, community-minded Arizonans from giving to Planned Parenthood, where their money is being used to provide low-income women, men and teens with essential health care," Bryan Howard, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Arizona, said in a statement. "Abortion services are not funded by these donations. There are other funds provided by donors specifically for abortion care."

Planned Parenthood suggests the measure won't stand legally, saying the Arizona and U.S. Supreme Courts have ruled that tax credits are private contributions not owed to the state and aren't public funds because they pass directly from taxpayer to private organization.
Because the new Arizona law also prohibits tax credits to any organization that even provides referrals to abortion providers, it will "gag" other charitable organizations such as domestic violence agencies from referring their clients to Planned Parenthood Arizona, the group said.
"Ninety percent of the services Planned Parenthood Arizona provides are prevention health care and education," Howard said. "Women and families of Arizona should not have their access to this life-saving care overlooked because of a politically motivated bill."
In a statement to CNN, Brewer said government should never allow public funds or tax credits to subsidize abortion providers or train medical professionals to perform abortions.
"I look forward to the day when there is enough support in the Congress and White House to emulate Arizona's example," Brewer said.

Arizona's ban against state taxpayers taking a credit for donations to Planned Parenthood and other groups serving the working poor comes after a congressional Republican effort failed this month to strip $317 million in federal funding from Planned Parenthood.
At the same time, congressional Democrats turned back Republican attempts to get federal dollars currently set aside for family planning and women's health turned into block grants for states -- which would give states more ability to cut services opposed by conservatives.
Now, states are taking up anti-abortion measures on their own initiative -- and enjoying success, according to Guttmacher's Nash.
Brownback called his signing of this week's two abortion restrictions "an historic day."
"So many determined people have worked long and hard to get these bills passed and I am happy to sign them into law," Brownback said in a statement. "These bills are a reflection of the culture of life that is being embraced all across Kansas. They represent a mainstream, bipartisan and common-sense approach to a divisive issue."
Sixteen other states are now considering a law patterned after Nebraska's law, one of the most stringent abortion restrictions in recent years, according to a Guttmacher report this week.

In those 16 states plus Kansas, a total of 35 proposals were introduced, and 27 of them paralleled Nebraska's abortion ban beginning at 20 weeks. Two would ban abortion beginning at 18 weeks, and the other six would restrict abortion after 22 weeks, according to the Guttmacher report.
Twenty-nine of the bills allow "the extremely narrow health exception included in the Nebraska law," according to the Guttmacher report. The other six measures would permit "a slightly broader exception," typically permitting abortion where the woman's mental health is threatened.
The states seeking laws mirroring Nebraska's are Idaho, Indiana, Iowa and Oklahoma, where at least one legislative chamber in those states has already passed a similar measure, Nash said.
"They want to ban abortion in any way they can: if they can do it at 20 weeks, they will do it at 20 weeks," Nash said. "There are other scientific reports that say fetuses cannot feel pain at 20 weeks.

"It flies in the face of Supreme Court holdings," Nash added. "What the Supreme Court has said is you cannot ban abortion beyond viability. What's different about these bans is that they are much earlier than viability, which tends to be between 24 and 28 weeks."
Every fetus develops differently, Nash said, "so using a specific cutoff doesn't make sense."

By Michael Martinez, CNN

 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My note:  These are at least steps in the right direction. Surely we have a long way yet to go, but perhaps the tides are turning. We need to praise God for this turnabout and the tireless efforts of Fr. Frank Pavone who has urged so very many to take up this most important cause and at the very least, inspired so many to storm heaven on the behalf of these little ones that are BABIES, *not* fetuses and who most certainly DO FEEL PAIN. May ALL ABORTIONS END and may we put on sackcloth and ashes to profess our contrition for having lived in a society that fought so vehemently to continue this most evil and insidious practice! 

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Just Absolutely UN-FRIGGIN-BELIEVABLE!!!



This program is from RealCatholicTV.com

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Living Together and Receiving Holy Communion??

Bishop Michael Sheehan: No Communion For Cohabitating Couples!

Pastoral Care For Couples Who Are Cohabitating

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Cohabitating Relationships Are Not In Accord With The Gospel

We are all painfully aware that there are many Catholics today who are living in cohabitation. The Church must make it clear to the faithful that these unions are not in accord with the Gospel, and to help Catholics who find themselves in these situations to do whatever they must do to make their lives pleasing to God.

First of all, we ourselves must be firmly rooted in the Gospel teaching that, when it comes to sexual union, there are only two lifestyles acceptable to Jesus Christ for His disciples: a single life of chastity, or the union of man and woman in the Sacrament of Matrimony. There is no “third way” possible for a Christian. The Bible and the Church teaches that marriage is between one man and one woman and opposes same sex unions.

Cohabitating Couples Are Either Ignorant Or Indifferent As To Their Sin

We have three groups of people who are living contrary to the Gospel teaching on marriage: those who cohabit; those who have a merely civil union with no previous marriage; and those who have a civil union who were married before. These people are objectively living in a state of mortal sin and may not receive Holy Communion. They are in great spiritual danger. At the best – and this is, sadly, often the case – they are ignorant of God’s plan for man and woman. At the worst, they are contemptuous of God’s commandments and His sacraments.

Of these three groups, the first two have no real excuse. They should marry in the Church or separate. Often their plea is that they “cannot afford a church wedding” i.e. the external trappings, or that “what difference does a piece of paper make?” – as if a sacramental covenant is nothing more than a piece of paper! Such statements show religious ignorance, or a lack of faith and awareness of the evil of sin.

The third group, those who were married before and married again outside the Church, can seek a marriage annulment and have their marriage blessed in the Church. Please remember that divorce still is no reason to refrain from Holy Communion as long as they have not entered into another marriage or sinful relationship. Many Catholics are confused on this point.

Christ our Lord loves all these people and wishes to save them – not by ignoring their sin, or calling evil good, but by repentance and helping them to change their lives in accordance with His teaching. We, as His Church, must do the same.

In accord with this, I would remind you of the following:

Pastoral Care Of Those Living In Mortal Sin

1. People in the above three situations cannot receive the Sacraments, with the important exception of those who agree to live chastely (“as brother and sister”) until their situation is regularized. Of course, those in danger of death are presumed to be repentant.

2. These people may not be commissioned as Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, not only because of scandal, but even more because one commits the sin of sacrilege by administering a Sacrament in the state of mortal sin.

3. Nor are such people to be admitted to the role of sponsor for Baptism or Confirmation, as is clearly stated on the Archdiocesan Affidavit for a Sponsor. It is critical for the sponsor to be a practicing Catholic – and can anyone be seriously called a practicing Catholic who is not able to receive the sacraments because they are living in sin?

4. When it comes to other parish ministries and organizations, I feel it best to leave these situations to the judgment of the pastor. Prudence is needed, avoiding all occasions of scandal. We must see their involvement in the parish as an opportunity to work urgently to bring such people to repentance and the regularization of their lifestyle.

5. Many of these sins are committed out of ignorance. I ask that our pastors preach on the gravity of sin and its evil consequences, the 6th and 9th Commandments of God, and the sacramental nature and meaning of Christian marriage. Our catechetical programs in our parishes – children, youth, and adult � must clearly and repeatedly teach these truths. A Church wedding does not require some lavish spectacle and entertainment costing vast sums of money (Indeed, how often we have seen the most costly weddings end in divorce in but a few months or years!). While beauty and joy should surround a Christian wedding, we must remind everyone that it is a sacrament, not a show.

6. Those who are married outside the Church because of a previous union are urged to seek an annulment through our Marriage Tribunal. If it can be found that the first marriage lacked some essential quality for a valid marriage, the Tribunal can grant an annulment. Your pastor can help someone start a marriage case for this purpose. It is important for such couples to continue to pray and get to Mass even though they may not receive Communion, until their marriage can be blest in the Church.

Our popular American culture is often in conflict with the teachings of Jesus and His Church. I urge especially young people to not cohabitate which is sinful, but to marry in the Church and prepare well for it.

I congratulate and thank those thousands of Catholic married couples who role model the Sacrament of Marriage according to the teachings of Jesus and his Church.

by: Bishop Michael Sheehan
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

my note:
Which is more kind:
To permit someone to remain in sin and smile so they don't feel badly about it or UNCOMFORTABLE, or to tell them the truth, hard though it be, to save them from ETERNAL CONDEMNATION!?!??!

ADDITIONALLY: If we knowingly confirm someone else in their sin for any reason, we take on that sin as if we've committed the sin ourselves .. we are THAT GUILTY!

THINK ABOUT THIS... remove the log from your own eye so you may help your brother remove the speck from his!

God bless!

Addition: 4/14/11:


This program is from RealCatholicTV.com

Friday, April 8, 2011

UNLEASH THE POWER OF GOD .....

 ..... BY MAGNIFYING HIM INSTEAD OF DWELLING ON PROBLEMS AND ILLNESS

Too often, we let evil get the best of us. We allow negativity to prevail. We give it force. We feed it. That's because -- as a preacher recently pointed out -- we magnify darkness -- illness, bad luck, accidents, family difficulties -- instead of magnifying God.

Thus, a question: what do we place more faith in, the disease or the Person Who created the body -- and, hence, can cure any illness?

It is important to recognize, isolate, and quash evil, but really, do we always have to obsess on the "bad"? Should we ever concede defeat? Might it even be wise at times to ignore an issue once we have done what we can (leaving it now to faith)?

"Obsession" has the hiss of the snake, and when we become too immersed in a dilemma, it's like using a magnifying glass; the details grow out of proportion; we're consumed.

Magnify, magnify, magnify God instead. Praise Him. Praise is your great defense. See God as larger than the Empire State Building (while the devil is smaller than a grain of sand, which is the way, in comparison, it really is).

Don't "entertain" the negative or it will perform like a broken record and eat away at you. There will be no end. Instead of a magnifying glass, instead of a microscope, instead of dwelling on every dark detail, use a telescope -- looking at your problem through the wide end of it, so your problem appears small and distant. Soon, that will be the reality.

God created everything. All is under His domain. And it is a great test of life to see if we can abandon our troubles and sufferings and ourselves to Him as did Jesus at Calvary. When we do, we open the way for potential miracles. We can move the "mountain." The Lord breathes our way. We ascend. Perhaps better put: His power intensifies around us.

Now, to repeat, when we become fixated on an problem is when we give it power. This is hard not to do -- correct?

A financial adviser shows you a red ledger. A child fails at school. There is a crisis in a relationship. A doctor comes in and announces: "terminal" cancer!

(Who on earth is not "terminal"?)

As the same evangelist pointed out, this actually happened to his mom, who was diagnosed with that disease and given five weeks to live. She pushed aside an obsession with the dark "finality" of the disease; filled her home with healthy, smiling photographs of herself; and stepped into the role of victor instead of victim.

That was thirty years ago. Recently, she attended the funeral of the doctor.

We know another woman who had breast cancer that spread to the lymph nodes. She simply refused to accept the disease. She allowed a prudent measure of medical intervention and then blocked thoughts of the disease out -- in effect convincing herself it did not exist. She has lived years beyond the expectations.

Recently, there was a report in the news of a woman who knew how to abandon herself. "Helen Dunsford, 66, was a customer at a Bank of America in Oakland Park, Florida, when a woman reached in her purse, said she had a gun and yelled for everyone to get on the ground," we are informed. "As other customers listened to the orders, Dunsford tackled the would-be robber, and held the suspect down until authorities arrived. 'She got on my last nerve,' Dunsford said. 'I have cancer, stage 4, and I figured if I'm gonna die it's God Will when I die. She's not gonna shoot me.'"

Same with the evil one: Don't let him rob you of hope, don't let him reach into the purse of your blessings, because when he does, he's robbing you of the chance to tap into the Power that created not just this planet, but the universe. Unleash God's Power, not the enemy's.

If you saw a tsunami coming, would you seek higher ground or dive into the murky waters to study it? What we need to do is lift our eyes to the Lord and above the floodwaters. Hit the high ground of Scripture. Pull out the Bible every day. Become consumed by His Word, instead of the whisperings of the devil. And he does whisper -- constantly! You'll never be able to do that. You are going to fail. You'll be embarrassed. Why try? It's not for you. You can't be cured. You will die in agony.

Baloney!

He is around every corner with a bat; he sticks out his foot every time he can. Yet we fall only when he diverts our attention. He can only defeat us if we play by his rules.

Play by God's. Look up, not down; look up at the Crucifixion. Look at the way Jesus locked His Eyes on the Heavens before He died. And the glory afterward!

The Blessed Mother has said that with enough prayer, we will not even feel the passage into Heaven.
Magnify the Lord, not illness, not hardship, not fear, not brokenness. Lord, I love You. My God, You are my Everything. To You and You only are my eyes fixed -- oh Great One, Lord of Lords, praise You, Creator not just of earth but of the cosmos, and eternities beyond.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Sister Josefa Menendez The Way of Divine Love

Jesus' Message to the World of His Mercy for All
Sr. Josefa Menendez (1890-1923)

“It is My intention also, to show souls that I never refuse grace, even to those who are guilty of grave sin; nor do I separate them from the good souls whom I love with predilection. I keep them all in My Heart, that all may receive the help needed for their state of soul.” -Jesus to Sr. Josefa Menendez

Sister Josefa Menendez and Jesus' Message of mercy for sinners

Sister Josefa Menendez was born on February 4, 1890 in Madrid, Spain. Being of Spanish descent, she initially sought to enter the religious life in Spain, but God’s Providence lead her elsewhere and eventually, after many trials, she entered a French Convent and became a Coadjutrix Sister of the Society of the Sacred Heart in 1920 at age 29. As far as external appearances go, nothing signalized that Josefa was in any way fitted for so high a mission as to bring forth a Message of Jesus to the world. She was a religious Sister for only 4 years before her death and prior to this she repeatedly delayed entering into the religious life. Then if we take in consideration her humble rank in the Community, her status as a mere novice, her reserved natures and great love of retirement, and the very real obstacle of her ignorance of the language of the country (French), -all these hindrances combined would at first sight appear insurmountable to the proclamation of a Message to the world.

In reality however they were signs of God's choice. Though she was but a simple novice, often reserved and quite meek, she would show later an unconquerable strength of will. In the blinding light of divine revelations, she only crept deeper into her littleness, and the closer God drew to her the more she humbled herself. In spite of the evidence of God's action, she was ever fearful of being deceived herself, and of deceiving her Superiors. In reality her Superiors had rarely met with a more obedient and docile subject, or one more deferential, more eager to submit to their authority, more ready to sacrifice herself.

In her devotions, as in everything else, there was no exaggeration; she was sincere, straightforward and simple. She was mentally healthy and had a well-developed spirituality and devotion. The supernatural graces and gifts, whose weight was often crushing, purified her to the depths, though her spiritual equilibrium was at times shaken by the extraordinary visions and communications, which at times required an almost superhuman endurance. All this was in reality the best guarantee to Superiors that her communications were divine in origin.

The Mystic who wore an apron
Her daily life within the Convent was very ordinary as she carried out her humble tasks and chores with grace and humility. Her fellow Sisters did not know of the extraordinary graces and lights that God was bestowing upon His humble servant, nor did they know of the inner struggle Josefa was undergoing as the devil tempted her to doubt God's voice and her Religious calling, but through it all Josefa maintained a strong prayer life, which aided her in resisting the deceitful voice of the evil one.

It was because of her simplicity, humility and ordinary life that our Lord said to Sister Josefa: "You yourself shall be My sign." And elsewhere our Lord said to her: I will reveal to you the burning secrets of My Heart and many souls will profit by them. I want you to write down and keep all I tell you. It will be read when you are in Heaven. Do not think that I make use of you because of your merits, but I want souls to realize how My Power makes use of poor and miserable instruments."
Sister Josefa Menéndez, died a holy death at age 33 on December 29, 1923, at the Convent of Les Feuillants, Poitiers, France. She lived as a sister in the Society of the Sacred Heart only four years, and in so hidden a way that the world ought never to have heard of her, and even in her own community she should have soon been forgotten. It was not until after her death that her fellow religious Sisters heard of all the extraordinary graces that God had bestowed upon her.

On November 13, 1923 shortly before her death, our Lord had said to Sister Josefa: "My words will be light and life for an incalculable number of souls, and I will grant them special graces of conversion and enlightenment." These words have been verified, for as soon as the first volume of Sister Josefa’s writings appeared, it was eagerly read and promulgated, and was quickly reprinted several times, while letters from all parts of the world gave testimony to the profound impression it created and to the signal graces that followed on the delivery of the Message.

Within a few months the book had been translated from the original Spanish into French, then into Portuguese, Italian, English, Chinese, and Hungarian, thus helping to fulfill our Lord's wish that His call to the way of love and devotion to His Sacred Heart should be known everywhere.

Message of the mercy of Jesus for all, especially those living a sinful life
-Some excerpts from the book "The Way of Divine Love" by Josefa Menendez:

"The world does not know the mercy of My Heart. I intend to enlighten them through you.… I want you to be the apostle of My love and mercy. "

“I would like these [those living with sin] to understand that it is not the fact of being in sin that ought to keep them from Me. They must never think that there is no remedy for them, nor that they have forfeited for ever the love that once was theirs.... No, poor souls, the God who has shed all His Blood for you has no such feelings for you!”

“Come all of you to Me and fear not, for I Love you all... I will wash you in My Blood and you shall be made whiter than snow. All of your offences will be submerged in the waters in which I myself shall wash you, nor shall anything whatsoever be able to tear from My Heart its Love for you."

"Oh, all you who are steeped in sin, and who for a time more or less long have lived as wanderers and fugitives because of your crimes ... if the offences of which you have been guilty have hardened and blinded your hearts . . . if to grant satisfaction to one or other of your passions you have sunk into evil ways ... Ah! when the motives or accomplices of your sin have forsaken you, and you realize the state of your soul, oh then, do not yield to despair! For as long as a breath of life remains a man may have recourse to mercy and ask for pardon.

"If you are still young, if already the scandals of your life have lowered you in the eyes of the world, do not be afraid. . . . Even if there is reason to treat you as a criminal, to insult and cast you off . . . your God has no wish to see you fall into the flames of hell. ... On the contrary He ardently desires you to come to Him so that He may forgive you. If you dare not speak to Him, at least look at Him and let the sighs of your heart reach Him, and at once you will find His kind and fatherly hand stretched out to lead you to the springs of pardon and life.

"Should it happen that you have spent the greater part of your life in impiety and indifference, and that the sudden approach of the hour of death fills you with blinding despair . . . Oh! do not let yourself be deceived, for there is still time for pardon. If only one second of life remains to you, in that one second you can buy back eternal life!

"If your whole life has been spent in ignorance and error . . . if you have been a cause of great evil to other men, to society at large, or to religion, and if through some set of circumstances you have come to realize that you have been deceived ... do not allow yourself to be crushed by the weight of your sins and of the evil of which you have been the instrument; but with a soul penetrated with deep contrition throw yourself into an abyss of confidence, and hasten to Him who awaits your return only to pardon you.

"The case is the same for a soul that has been faithful to the observance of My law from childhood, but who has gradually cooled off into the tepid and unspiritual ways of an easy life. She has so to say forgotten her soul and its higher aspirations. God was asking of her greater efforts, but blinded by habitual failings, she has fallen into tepidity worse than actual sin, for her deaf and drowsy conscience neither feels remorse nor hears the voice of God. "

"Then, perhaps, that soul awakens with a shock of realization: life appears to have been a failure, empty and useless for her salvation .... She has lost innumerable graces, and the evil one, loath to lose her, makes the most of her distress, plunges her into discouragement, sadness and dejection ... and finally casts her into fear and despair."

"Oh soul whom I love, pay no heed to this ruthless enemy ... but as soon as possible have recourse to Me, and filled with deepest contrition implore My mercy and have no fear. I will forgive you. Take up again your life of fervour, and you will have back your lost merits, and My grace will never fail you. "

"Finally, shall I speak to My chosen souls? Supposing that one has spent long years in the constant practice of the Rule and of her religious duties......a soul that I have favoured with My grace and instructed by My counsels . . , a soul long faithful to My voice and to the inspirations of grace . . . and now this soul has cooled in her fervour on account of some petty passion . . . occasions of faults not avoided ... some yielding to the claims of nature and a general relaxation of effort . . . and in conse­quence has fallen to a lower level . . . to a commonplace kind of life ... then lastly, to give it its true name, tepidity."

"If, for one cause or another, you awake from this torpid state, the devil will instantly attack you in every way, jealous of a soul he. hopes to claim. He will try to persuade you that it is too late, and that my effort is useless, he will accentuate your repugnance to make an avowal of your state of soul ... he will, so to speak, throttle you to prevent you from speaking and accepting the light he will do his best to stifle trust and confidence in your soul."

"But listen rather to My voice, and let Me tell you how to act:
As soon as your soul is touched by grace, and before the struggle has even begun, hasten to My Heart; beg of Me to let a drop of My Blood fall on your soul. . . . Ah! hasten to My Heart . . . and be without fear for the past; all has been swallowed up in the abyss of My mercy, and My love is preparing new graces for you. The memory of your lapses will be an incentive to humility and a source of merit, and you cannot give Me a greater proof of affection than to count on My full pardon and to believe that your sins will never be as great as My mercy, which is infinite.
"Remain hidden, Josefa, in the abyss of My love, praying that souls may be filled with the same sentiments."


A Beggar for love
On Saturday,the 20th of November, He came to her, as a beggar, destitute and asking for love. He appeared with all His wounds...
"Many little wounds were lacerating His Heart," she wrote.

'Tell Me, would you not attempt the impossible to comfort Me, Josefa? . . . Share with Me for a moment the bitterness of My Heart.'
'Listen,'
He said, 'I want you to give Me souls. Only love in all you do is required. Suffer because you love, work because you love, and above all abandon yourself to love. When I let you feel anguish of spirit and great loneliness, suffer in love. I want to make use of you as a tired man uses a stick to lean upon. . . . I want to possess you, to consume you entirely, but all in great sweetness, so that enduring a martyrdom of love, you thirst to suffer more.'

'I come to rest in you, for I am so little loved,'
He said. 'I am in search of love and meet only with thankless neglect. Rare are the souls that truly love Me.' Then to console Him, I offered Him the love of Our Lady, of the Saints, of all faithful souls, and even mine.
"'Yes, Josefa, love Me and never tire of telling Me of your love.' "
"I tried," she wrote next day, "to say over and over again 'My Jesus I love Thee.'
" 'And so do I love you,' she heard Him answer during her prayer.
"He came with no radiance round Him, looking like a beggar; I was silent. But as He continued to gaze sadly at me I ventured to speak, and I told Him how much I longed to comfort Him.
" 'Yes, do comfort Me, today; I will stay beside you all the time, so that you may not forget.'
"At the end of my prayer, as He did not go away, I said to Him: 'Lord, it is time for me to go to my sweeping, but Thou knowest that I love Thee, and that all I do is done solely to please Thee.'
"Twice in the course of my work He asked me again whether I loved Him. 'Say it often, to make up for the forgetfulness of so many.' "
That day, Monday, and of November, she spent entirely in that divine company.
"He stayed all the time," wrote Josefa; "we were not separated a single instant. From time to time He stopped me in my work, and once while I was sweeping the old cloister of Les Feuillants, with its primitive tiled pavement, He asked: 'Why are you doing that?'

"He seemed to take delight in the answer He forecast: 'Lord, I do it because I love Thee. See all the tiles of this corridor?-as many as there are is as many times I say: 'I love Thee, Lord!.' "
Later on she had to go and fetch some coal from the garden: , "What are you going to do?' our Lord asked her.
"I am going to try and prove my love for Thee by all these little things." she replied.

"Josefa, all I ask of souls is their love, but they give me only ingratitude. I would like to fill their souls with grace, but they pierce my Heart through and through. I call them, and they turn away from Me. If you accept, I will give you charge of souls, and by your sacrifices and love you will win them for Me."
He said to me: 'Souls are crucifying Me anew; comfort Me, Josefa. My Heart is steeped in woe . . . sinners despise Me and trample Me under their feet....there is nothing of less value in their eyes than their Creator.' He left me His Cross and disappeared. "

"That night, at about ten o'clock, He returned, a heavy Cross on His shoulders; He was crowned with thorns and His face was streaming with blood. 'See the state I am reduced to. . . .How many sins are committed,' He said, 'how many souls are lost . . . that is why I come to obtain relief from those who live only to comfort Me.'
"He remained a moment in silence and with joined hands. He looked so sad and at the same time so beautifull His eyes spoke more than His lips.
"After a while, He said to me: 'Souls run to perdition, and My Blood is lost for them. But souls that love Me are sacrificing and consuming them­selves as victims of reparation, and they draw down God's mercy, and that is what saves the world.'

"He vanished. I think it must have been about one o'clock, and I kept His Cross till a little after four."
__________________________________________________
Sister Josefa Menedez feast day is December 29. The diocese of Poitiers, France opened the diocesan process for the cause of canonization of Sister Josefa Menendez del Moral on November 30, 1948.

Sister Josefa Menendez, pray for us!

"Gold is purified in fire. So, suffering purifies and fortifies the soul....Love and suffering unite a soul with God, and make her one with Him."  -Jesus to Sr. Josefa Menendez

Source for this information is from the book “The Way of Divine Love”, by Sr. Josefa Menendez

A Non Catholic Observes Lent

Catholics traditionally mark the start of Lent on Ash Wednesday,
but Lent is for Protestants too, Mark Batterson writes.
When I was a seminary student, my wife and I went to downtown Chicago for a taping of “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” When the producer came out to prep us for the show, I was embarrassed for him because he had dirt on his forehead. Didn’t he look in the mirror that morning? Why didn’t someone tell him? My embarrassment for him turned into embarrassment for myself when I discovered it was Ash Wednesday and the dirt on his forehead was actually ashes that symbolized the day of repentance that begins Lent.
I grew up going to a wide variety of Protestant churches, but none of them practiced or even mentioned Lent. It wasn’t until a few years ago, well into my tenure as lead pastor of National Community Church, that I discovered the value of Lent. It has since become a meaningful season in the cycle of my spiritual life. During the last few Lenten seasons, I’ve incorporated a fast into my routine. One year I gave up television. Another year I gave up soda. I’ve also done a variety of food fasts for Lent.

Mark Batterson
In my experience, giving something up for Lent has made the Easter celebration far more meaningful and even helped me develop the spiritual discipline of fasting. Fasting during Lent has helped me identify with the sacrifices Christ has made for me, and it’s also helped me focus on the reason for the season. The celebration of the resurrection of Christ has become far more meaningful since I started observing Lent.
The church I pastor is a rather non-traditional Protestant church. We are absolutely orthodox in theology but a little unorthodox in practice. We meet in five different theaters around the metro D.C. area. We own and operate a coffeehouse on Capitol Hill that gives all of its net profits to local community projects and humanitarian causes in other countries.
Along with new innovations, however, we’ve also rediscovered the value the ancient traditions. While we may not practice Lent the same way the Catholic church does, we are reinventing it in a way that is meaningful to us. We put our unique fingerprint on those traditions, and that keeps them from being empty rituals.

I’m afraid that many Protestant churches have a very short-term memory. For them, church history only goes back to the Protestant Reformation and Martin Luther. While we may have our theological differences, we share a long history, and I believe there are things that Protestant and Catholic churches can learn from each other in ways that don’t compromise their core beliefs.
I for one am thankful for the Lenten tradition that has been cultivated, celebrated and cherished within the Catholic church. I think more Protestant churches will re-adopt some of those traditions that are part of our common church history from before the Protestant Reformation.
I think of Lent as a spiritual pre-season of sorts. The six Sundays leading up to Easter are considered mini-Easters. Like pre-season games, they prepare us for the ultimate celebration in Christendom: the resurrection of Jesus Christ. And one of the benefits, not unlike the Advent celebration surrounding Christmas, is that the celebration is extended to a longer period of time.

A few years ago I came up with a formula for spiritual growth: change of pace + change of place = change of perspective.
Let me explain what it means.
The key to spiritual growth is developing healthy and holy routines. They are called spiritual disciplines. But once the routine becomes routine, you need to disrupt the routine via a change of pace or change of place. Why? Because sacred routines can become empty rituals if you forget why you started doing them in the first place.
I’m certainly not suggesting that routines are bad. Most of us practice a morning ritual that includes showering, brushing our teeth and putting on deodorant. On behalf of your family and friends, continue practicing those routines.
But here’s the spiritual catch-22: good routines can become bad routines if we don’t change the routine. When you start going through the motions spiritually, it’s time to mix up the routine. And Lent is a great opportunity for a natural change of pace.
Lent disrupts the status quo. It can get us out of an old routine and into a new routine.
In physical exercise, routines eventually become counterproductive. If you exercise your muscles the same way every time you work out, your muscles start adapting and stop growing. You need to disorient your muscles by changing your routine. And the same is true spiritually.

When I’m in a spiritual slump, I often snap out of it by a change of pace or a change of place. And it was Jesus who modeled this practice. He would often walk the beach or climb a mountain. I think those changes in geography are not disconnected from the practice of spirituality. It is a simple change of place that precipitates many of the epiphanies that happen in Scripture.
To snap out of a slump, sometimes all it takes is a small change in routine. Volunteer at a local homeless shelter or nursing home. Start keeping a gratitude journal. Get plugged into a small group or Bible study. Take a day off and do a personal retreat. Or just get up a little earlier in the morning and spend a little extra time with God.
One of the small changes in routine that has helped me rejuvenate me is picking up a new translation of Scripture. New words help me think new thoughts. And while you can institute those changes at any time, Lent is a perfect excuse to mix up your spiritual routine.
Why not leverage Lent by mixing up your routine? If you do, you’ll celebrate Easter like you never have before.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Mark Batterson 

Mark Batterson is lead pastor at the National Community Church in Washington, D.C. He is the author of “In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day,” “Wild Goose Chase” and “Primal: A Quest for the Lost Soul of Christianity.”

Friday, April 1, 2011

Our Greatest Danger As A Catholic Community Is Apathy!

Catholics Need To Stand Strong With Courage And Conviction!

Bishop Thomas J. Tobin of Providence, Rhode Island, was born and reared in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He is the youngest of four children from an observant Catholic home, and his father was a manager at Sears, Roebuck & Co.
Tobin was attracted to the priesthood from a young age, and remembers pretending to celebrate Mass at home as a small child. “God was interested in having me be a priest,” he recalled. “And it was nourished by the Catholic faith in our household.”
Tobin has fond memories of the priests and Benedictine nuns who were his teachers at the Catholic schools in which he was enrolled as a child. He attended seminaries both in Pennsylvania and Rome, and was ordained a priest in 1973. In 1992 he was ordained an auxiliary bishop for the Diocese of Pittsburgh, and went on to serve as bishop of the Diocese of Youngstown, Ohio from 1996 to 2005, when he became the eighth bishop of Providence.

Bishop Tobin has been an outspoken defender of Catholic teaching, and has tangled with prominent political figures over such hot-button issues as abortion and same-sex marriage. He regularly pens a column, “Without a Doubt,” for his diocesan newspaper, and has written two books on faith, Without a Doubt: Bringing Faith to Life and Effective Faith: Faith that Makes a Difference. He recently spoke with CWR.

CWR: You have been a leader against the effort to legalize same-sex marriage in your state of Rhode Island. Who is behind this effort, and what arguments do you make in opposition to them?
Bishop Thomas Tobin: Rhode Island is a very liberal state politically. The vast majority of our General Assembly in both houses are Democrats. The question of gay marriage has been on the horizon for many years. Fortunately, in recent years, we had a governor, Governor Donald Carcieri, who promised to veto it.  Governor Carcieri is a practicing Catholic. Also, both our previous Speaker of the House and the president of the Senate kept the lid on same-sex marriage in the General Assembly.
That scenario has changed.
Our newly elected governor, Lincoln Chafee, is an Independent. He made promotion of same-sex marriage one of his priorities, even mentioning it in his inaugural address. And the new Speaker of the House, Gordon Fox, is an openly gay man who has also made it one of his priorities.
The arguments we’ve been making against same-sex marriage are well known. While the Catholic Church has respect, love, pastoral care, and compassion for people with homosexual orientation, we believe that homosexual marriage is wrong because it gives state approval of an immoral lifestyle involving immoral sexual activity.
Also, it is an attempt to redefine the institution of marriage as it has been understood since the beginning of time. Marriage is a relationship between one man and one woman and is meant to foster life and love. Homosexual marriage can never do that. It is an ill-advised attempt to redefine something God has given us and what is one of the building blocks of human society.
Additionally, the passage of homosexual marriage presents a challenge to religious freedom and conscience protection, as has been the case in other places in the country. Our neighbors in the Archdiocese of Boston in Massachusetts, for example, had to get out of the adoption business because they were being forced to place children in situations where there were two gay people living in a home in an alleged marriage. The Archdiocese of Washington had to stop giving family medical benefits because they were being forced to provide them to gay couples who tried to get married in civil marriages.
And there are situations where ancillary Catholic facilities such as reception halls must be made available to gay couples as they attempt to marry. All these things are on the radar screen if you go down this road of approving homosexual marriage.

CWR: How has the Catholic community in Rhode Island responded to efforts to legalize same-sex marriage?
Bishop Tobin: Historically there has been some apathy about it among the citizenry of Rhode Island, including among the Catholic population. But recently, because our political landscape has changed, we’ve done a better job in getting our pastors involved, rallying the Catholic faithful against it. I’m proud of what our pastors and people have done, both in reaching out to our legislators and making their voices heard in the media, saying this is not something that is acceptable to us.
We need our people to understand that this is a serious issue. Our greatest danger as a Catholic community is apathy. If we’re not aware of the situation, don’t care about it or make it a priority, gay marriage will pass in Rhode Island. But if we’re galvanized and make our voices heard, we’ll keep it out of our state.
It is important to emphasize that this is not just an exercise in partisan politics. This is an expression of our faith. We have to be involved in this issue as disciples of Christ and members of his Church.
Recently, the Providence Phoenix, a liberal-leaning, gay-friendly newspaper here in Providence, ran a lead story by David Scharfenberg, “Will the Catholic Church kill gay marriage?” They gave us a left-handed compliment by saying that we’ve been rather effective in our opposition. We have a long road ahead of us, and a tough fight. I don’t know what the outcome will be. But we’re doing our best.

CWR: What have people said to you about your leadership on this issue?
Bishop Tobin: I get both support and criticism. From practicing Catholics, as well as members of other religious communities, I’ve been getting a lot of support. They say, “Thank you for leading the charge,” “Thank you for speaking out,” or “This is what we expect the bishops to do.”
There are also those on the other side of the issue who are upset and angry that the Church is so visible and vocal about this issue. They talk about separation of church and state and say we shouldn’t be involved in it, or that we’re “homophobic,” bigoted, and interfering in other people’s lives. These are all the predictable reactions that you hear surrounding this issue, and they’re leveled time and again against me and the Church. I’m sure such complaints will continue.

CWR: You also spoke out against the Obama administration’s decision in February not to defend traditional marriage.
Bishop Tobin: The Obama administration directed the Justice Department to not defend the Defense of Marriage Act. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a statement, and I did as well in response to a media inquiry, saying that the president overstepped his authority and abdicated his role and sworn duty to uphold the laws of our nation. It was just another attempt to impose a liberal, politically-correct agenda on our nation. It was disappointing.

CWR: How should a bishop best approach a Catholic politician who publicly opposes Church teaching?
Bishop Tobin: The teaching of the Church should be public and the issues should be discussed publicly. But in regard to someone’s personal sacramental practice, I think a personal, confidential approach is the best way to begin.

CWR: Many people admire you for the leadership you’ve provided to the Church. Who do you admire and who has been an influence in your ministry?
Bishop Tobin: My strongest influence has been our late Holy Father, Pope John Paul II. For a good part of my priesthood and my life as a bishop, he was our pope, the Vicar of Christ. He is also the one who chose me to be a bishop; I have a photograph of him presenting me with my pectoral cross when I was first appointed.
Not only am I impressed by his life and ministry, but I’ve been greatly influenced by all that he has written. He gave us a blueprint for approaching the world from a perspective of faith. I often, for example, refer to Pope John Paul’s Evangelium Vitae [a 1995 encyclical concerning the value and inviolability of human life] and Pastores Dabo Vobis [a 1992 apostolic exhortation concerning the formation of priests]. And Pope John Paul’s writings have been beautifully complemented by Pope Benedict, who has given us some wonderful reflections about many things, including charity and hope.
As far as saints, the one I refer to often is St. Thomas the Apostle. The title of my column and first book, Without a Doubt, is derived from the fact that we call St. Thomas “doubting Thomas.” I often think about how he worked through his doubts to become a faithful and effective witness of Jesus Christ and his Resurrection. I also like Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, who gave us many wonderful writings and modeled a holy Catholic life.
When people ask me why I’m getting involved in public debates with politicians, I think about St. Thomas More, how he professed his faith and challenged the government of King Henry VIII, which had become immoral. I also think of St. John the Baptist standing outside the palace of Herod, challenging Herod on his immoral lifestyle. Both ended up giving up their lives for their witness to the truth.
Saints who challenge an established political order in witness to the truth of the Gospel and a common, decent morality appeal a great deal to me. We need to rediscover this courage and conviction in our own time.

Interview by Jim Graves of The Catholic World Report:
Edited for Length.  Read entire interview here.