Advent JoyJohn is the voice, but the Lord is the Word who was in the beginning. John is the voice that lasts for a time; from the beginning Christ is the Word who lives for ever. Take away the word, the meaning, and what is the voice? Where there is no understanding, there is only a meaningless sound. The voice without the word strikes the ear but does not build up the heart.

However, let us observe what happens when we first seek to build up our hearts. When I think about what I am going to say, the word or message is already in my heart. When I want to speak to you, I look for a way to share with your heart what is already in mine. In my search for a way to let this message reach you, so that the word already in my heart may find a place also in yours, I use my voice to speak to you. The sound of my voice brings the meaning of the word to you and then passes away. The word which the sound has brought to you is now in your heart, and yet it is still also in mine. […]

The voice of one crying in the wilderness is the voice of one breaking the silence. Prepare the way for the Lord, he says, as though he were saying: “I speak out in order to lead him into your hearts, but he does not choose to come where I lead him unless you prepare the way for him.”

To prepare the way means to pray well; it means thinking humbly of oneself. We should take our lesson from John the Baptist. He is thought to be the Christ; he declares he is not what they think. He does not take advantage of their mistake to further his own glory. If he had said, “I am the Christ,” you can imagine how readily he would have been believed, since they believed he was the Christ even before he spoke. But he did not say it; he acknowledged what he was. He pointed out clearly who he was; he humbled himself. He saw where his salvation lay. He understood that he was a lamp, and his fear was that it might be blown out by the wind of pride.

From a sermon by Saint Augustine, bishop

Posted on Ave Maria

 

Win One for God!Win One for God

Almighty and ever-living God, our fortress and our strength, be with us and bless us as we launch this campaign in the name of Your Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, to evangelize all peoples, one person at a time, to Win One for God!

Inspired by Your Holy Spirit, though sinners we are, we call ourselves Warriors of God, to join the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Jesus and Our Mother, in her battle against Satan and the evil spirits who prey upon souls, that we may help Mary to Win One for God!

Father in heaven, give us the courage and the perseverance to combat evil in all its forms, to engage each soul we encounter with the love, mercy, and compassion of Christ that we may Win One for God!

Almighty God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Preserve us in our Faith. Confirm us as we pledge our Love for You and as we commit ourselves to this battle for souls to Win One for God!

Amen. Amen. Amen.

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by Marina McCoy in ignatianspirituality.com

In many discussions of Ignatian indifference by Jesuit colleagues, the paradigmatic stories revolve around leaving behind jobs, projects, and relationships for the sake of mission. But I struggle to make sense of indifference in that way, since I live the life of a layperson where my intimate relationships are long-term. I’ve been married for 25 years, am the mom of two, and my closest friendships span many years. If life is not that of a soldier “on the road,” and instead our closest relationships are an extension of “home,” then what might indifference look like?

Mary's fidelity, flexibility and faith

Mary and Ignatian indifference

Mary can be a model of indifference in the context of long-term relationship. She exhibits two virtues needed for the freedom of continued intimacy over time: fidelity and flexibility as a response to change. When we are flexible, we have the freedom to let go of particular moments or phases of relationships while still continuing in the faithfulness that love requires.

When the angel first asks Mary if she will bear God’s son, she responds with faith, although she also feels confusion. Mary has no idea of what this life that she has promised to God will entail, yet her promise does not require knowing in advance so much as adapting to the pushes and pulls of changing relationships. As Jesus grows older, and Mary witnesses his growth, ministry, and finally his death and Resurrection, Mary remains faithful. But along with this fidelity is an ability to let go of different times in her relationship to her son. For example, when she and Joseph leave Jerusalem only to find Jesus has stayed behind in the Temple, they must learn anew to love a dramatically changed Jesus. Mary’s faithfulness is not limited to her family relationships; she is also a central presence to the disciples both in sorrow at the foot of the Cross and in the joys of Pentecost.

This fidelity and faithfulness can also be qualities that we can cultivate in long-term relationships. Moms know well that being a parent is a life filled with family fun and laughter and also putting up with the temper tantrums of toddlers or the sulking of teenagers. My husband and I find ourselves in periods of both mutual delight and boredom, while adapting over the years to the changes of being newlyweds, parents, or now, almost-empty nesters. My best friend and I relate differently now that she is married, but there are new possibilities for how we relate now married woman to married woman. Here the interior freedom to live out a life of love is found in flexibility within the context of a deeper, long-term fidelity.

Then there is heartbreak. Mary’s heart is pierced when her son suffers and dies. Loss is a part of life. Family members can die, friendships can be broken, or we can suffer betrayals. Here, too, Mary is a model. Mary loses Jesus not once, but twice, in his death and then again when he ascends into heaven, leaving her behind. Still, Mary remains faithful to God and does not abandon her faith. Instead, these piercings open her heart to greater compassion and faithfulness to others. Mary stands by us just as she stood faithfully at the foot of the Cross. Fidelity, flexibility, and faith are all parts of Marian indifference.

Posted on Ave Maria

 

Advent-peace“Today there is a need for people who are witnesses of the mercy and tenderness of the Lord, which shakes up those who are resigned, revives the discouraged, [and] ignites the fire of hope.”

In his address, the Holy Father reflected on the first reading of Sunday’s liturgy from the prophet Isaiah. “Comfort, give comfort to my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her service is at an end, her guilt is expiated,” the reading states.

The Pope said that with these words, a time of consolation has come where the Lord “will guide his people on the path of freedom and salvation.”

“In what way will He do this?” he asked. “With the care and tenderness of a shepherd who takes care of His flock. He will give unity and security to the flock, they will graze, the scattered sheep will be gathered safely, He will pay special attention to the most fragile and weak.”

“So many situations require our consoling witness. To be joyful people, consoled,” the Holy Father said. “I think of those who are oppressed by suffering, injustice and abuses; those who are enslaved by money, power, success, worldliness. Poor things, they have a false consolation, they do not have the true consolation of the Lord!”

The 77 year old Pontiff lamented that many times, people are afraid of being consoled, preferring to feel “safer in sadness and desolation” since mankind feels like the protagonist.

“In consolation, the Holy Spirit is the protagonist!” he exclaimed. “It is He who consoles us, it is He who gives us the courage to come out of ourselves. It is He who brings us to the source of every true consolation, that is, the Father. And this is conversion.”

more from zenit.org

Posted on Pope Francis Support

 

Advent-hopeThis journey never comes to an end. Just as in each of our lives we always need to begin again, to get up again, to rediscover the meaning of the goal of our lives, so also for the great human family it is always necessary to rediscover the common horizon toward which we are journeying. The horizon of hope! This is the horizon that makes for a good journey. The season of Advent, which we begin again today, restores this horizon of hope, a hope which does not disappoint for it is founded on God’s Word. A hope which does not disappoint, simply because the Lord never disappoints! He is faithful! He does not disappoint! Let us think about and feel this beauty.

The model of this spiritual disposition, of this way of being and journeying in life, is the Virgin Mary. A simple girl from the country who carries within her heart the fullness of hope in God! In her womb, God’s hope took flesh, it became man, it became history: Jesus Christ. Her Magnificat is the canticle of the People of God on a journey, and of all men and women who hope in God and in the power of his mercy. Let us allow ourselves to be guided by her, she who is mother, a mamma and knows how to guide us. Let us allow ourselves to be guided by her during this season of active waiting and watchfulness.

from Pope Francis’ Angelus, 1st Sunday of Advent, 1 December 2013

Posted on Pope Francis Support

 

When we pay honor to the princely dignity of Christ, men will doubtless be reminded that the Church, founded by Christ as a perfect society, has a natural and inalienable right to perfect freedom and immunity from the power of the state; and that in fulfilling the task committed to her by God of teaching, ruling, and guiding to eternal bliss those who belong to the kingdom of Christ, she cannot be subject to any external power. The State is bound to extend similar freedom to the orders and communities of religious of either sex, who give most valuable help to the Bishops of the Church by laboring for the extension and the establishment of the kingdom of Christ. By their sacred vows they fight against the threefold concupiscence of the world; by making profession of a more perfect life they render the holiness which her divine Founder willed should be a mark and characteristic of his Church more striking and more conspicuous in the eyes of all.

Nations will be reminded by the annual celebration of this feast that not only private individuals but also rulers and princes are bound to give public honor and obedience to Christ. It will call to their minds the thought of the last judgment, wherein Christ, who has been cast out of public life, despised, neglected and ignored, will most severely avenge these insults; for his kingly dignity demands that the State should take account of the commandments of God and of Christian principles, both in making laws and in administering justice, and also in providing for the young a sound moral education.

The faithful, moreover, by meditating upon these truths, will gain much strength and courage, enabling them to form their lives after the true Christian ideal. If to Christ our Lord is given all power in heaven and on earth; if all men, purchased by his precious blood, are by a new right subjected to his dominion; if this power embraces all men, it must be clear that not one of our faculties is exempt from his empire. He must reign in our minds, which should assent with perfect submission and firm belief to revealed truths and to the doctrines of Christ. He must reign in our wills, which should obey the laws and precepts of God. He must reign in our hearts, which should spurn natural desires and love God above all things, and cleave to him alone. He must reign in our bodies and in our members, which should serve as instruments for the interior sanctification of our souls, or to use the words of the Apostle Paul, as instruments of justice unto God.[35] If all these truths are presented to the faithful for their consideration, they will prove a powerful incentive to perfection. It is Our fervent desire, Venerable Brethren, that those who are without the fold may seek after and accept the sweet yoke of Christ, and that we, who by the mercy of God are of the household of the faith, may bear that yoke, not as a burden but with joy, with love, with devotion; that having lived our lives in accordance with the laws of God’s kingdom, we may receive full measure of good fruit, and counted by Christ good and faithful servants, we may be rendered partakers of eternal bliss and glory with him in his heavenly kingdom.

from QUAS PRIMAS, Encyclical of Pope Pius XI
On The Feast of Christ The King

Posted on Ave Maria

 

St.Leo the GreatPope Saint Leo the Great here (excerpt from Sermon 92, 1.2.3: PL 54, 454-455) comments on the right use of earthly treasure to store up heavenly treasure.  This reflection appears in the Roman Catholic Church’s Office of Readings for Monday of the last (34th) week of the liturgical year with the accompanying biblical reading taken from 2Peter 1:1-11.

The Lord says: Unless your justice exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter into the kingdom of heaven (Mat 5:20). How indeed can justice exceed, unless compassion rises above judgement? What is as right or as worthy as a creature, fashioned in the image and likeness of God, imitating his Creator who, by the remission of sins, brought about the reparation and sanctification of believers? With strict vengeance removed and the cessation of all punishment, the guilty man was restored to innocence, and the end of wickedness became the beginning of virtue. Can anything be more just than this?

This is how Christian justice can exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees, not by cancelling out the law but by rejecting earthly wisdom. This is why, in giving his disciples a rule for fasting, the Lord said: Whenever you fast do not become sad like the hypocrites. For they disfigure their faces in order to seem to be fasting. Amen I say to you, they have received their reward. What reward but that of human praise? Such a desire often puts on a mask of justice, for where there is no concern for conscience, untruthful reputation gives pleasure. The result is that concealed injustice enjoys a false reputation.

For the man who loves God it is sufficient to please the one he loves; and there is no greater recompense to be sought than the loving itself; for love is from God by the very fact that God himself is love. The good and chaste soul is so happy to be filled with him that it desires to take delight in nothing else. For what the Lord says is very true: Where your treasure is, there also will your heart be (Luke 12:23). What is a man’s treasure but the heaping up of profits and the fruit of his toil? For as a man sows, so will he reap (Gal 6:7), and each man’s gain matches his toil; and where delight and enjoyment are found, there the heart’s desire is attached. Now there are many kinds of wealth and a variety of grounds for rejoicing; every man’s treasure is that which he desires. If it is based on earthly ambitions, its acquisition makes men not blessed but wretched.

But those who enjoy the things that are above and eternal rather than earthly and perishable, possess an incorruptible, hidden store of which the prophet speaks: Our treasure and salvation have come, wisdom and instruction and piety from the Lord: these are the treasures of justice. Through these, with the help of God’s grace, even earthly possessions are transformed into heavenly blessings; it is a fact that many people use the wealth which is either rightfully left to them or otherwise acquired, as a tool of devotion. By distributing what might be superfluous to support the poor, they are amassing imperishable riches, so that what they have discreetly given cannot be subject to loss. They have properly placed those riches where their heart is; it is a most blessed thing to work to increase such riches rather than to fear that they may pass away.

from crossroadsinitiative.com

Posted on Ave Maria

 

Why is this such an important feast that it takes precedence over the 31st Sunday of Ordinary Time?

1) We celebrate with Our Holy Mother Church as the family of Christ. 
Today we celebrate Sancta Mater Ecclesia, or Holy Mother Church. Christ founded the visible Church, and she is the Bride of Christ. The Church acts as a mother, taking care of her flock with tender, loving, maternal care. The Supreme Pontiff is the bishop or shepherd of the whole universal church with St. John Lateran is his cathedra, or throne seat. The physical church is a symbol of the relationship of Christ and our connection with the Mystical Body. We turn to the pope as our Holy Father, and celebrate this closeness of the family of Christ, united by our baptism. How awesome to think that though we are so diverse and widespread, we are also closely connected spiritually through Holy Mother Church. The physical figurehead of the pope and his cathedral reminds us of the care and protection of the Church and our intimate family connection in Christ.

2) We celebrate the birthday of a church.
Every diocese has a cathedral or “mother church” and St. John Lateran is the cathedral or physical “mother church” of all Christians. It is our universal cathedral, so to speak. St. John Lateran is “the mother and mistress of all churches of Rome and the world.” We celebrate the birth or nameday of this church, recalling the dedication and consecration to God. The ceremony of the dedication of a church is very beautiful and rich. This readings today recall theliturgy of the consecration.

3) We see the the significance of our parish, diocese and bishop
This feast we see the larger picture of the pope and his cathedra (seat), but we can also see how this applies to us in our local level. Canon Law is one of the Church documents that explains the structure and laws concerning the hierarchy of the Church, such as dioceses, bishops, pastors and parishes. Canon Law also shows the rights and obligations as lay faithful to pastors, such as:

Can. 212 §1. Conscious of their own responsibility, the Christian faithful are bound to follow with Christian obedience those things which the sacred pastors, inasmuch as they represent Christ, declare as teachers of the faith or establish as rulers of the Church.

4) We connect with the history of the Church. 
There was no “St. John Lateran”; this basilica has been dedicated to both St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist.
The history of this physical church reflects so much of the history of the entire Church. From its foundations by Constantine we can follow the rises and falls, the highs and lows, the sinners and saints throughout the history of this basilica.

from catholicculture.org

Posted on Ave Maria

 

Solemnity of All Saints

During this time of the year, the dead are often associated with spooky ghosts and scary poltergeists. The Catholic Church instead celebrates the feasts of All Saints and All Souls, a time to reflect on those who have passed from the this life to the eternal life in Christ. But what is the importance surrounding these two feasts..?

On Zenit.org, Cardinal Piacenza answers the question: Is this the reason why the Solemnity of All Saints and the Commemoration of All Souls are so reconciling? On the first and the second of November?

Since her origins, the Church certainly prayed for the deceased faithful belonging to the early Christian communities.

Whether they were martyrs or ordinary faithful who died a natural death, the community understood immediately the suffrage for the deceased as a structural dimension of their life, of their prayer and, above all, of the Eucharistic celebration.

As if to signify that the profound unity with Christ and in Christ, created with Baptism, and the sharing of the Eucharist itself, lived in the Christian community, could not be severed not even with death.

Moreover, thinking correctly, if death has been overcome by Christ, he who is reborn in Christ can no longer be separated by anything, not even by that death that Christ has already overcome!

The Solemnity of All Saints in fact brings to light the truth of the communio sanctorum, of the union of all the baptized. As Pope Francis has reminded us many times: “time prevails over space.”

Therefore, the union in time of all the baptized, of the very first Christians, up to those that tomorrow morning will receive Baptism and until the end of history, is a union that nothing will be able to affect and which determines that journeying of the Church in time, which is a real anticipation, here on earth, of the Kingdom of Heaven.

We belong to the one ecclesial Body that, uninterruptedly, from Jesus Christ, through the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Apostles, comes to us and it is for this reason that the heavenly Church is much more numerous, much more interesting, much more expert and much more “influential” than the earthly Church.

Posted on Ave Maria

 

A fundamental truth that the solemnity reminds us of is expressed when we profess “the communion of saints” in the recitation of the Creed

When we celebrate the Eucharist “we encounter the living Jesus and his strength, and through him we enter into communion with our brothers and sisters in the other life, the life without end.”

In his Angelus address for the Solemnity of All Saints, Pope Francis said that it is a joy to have a spiritual family living in eternity, and stressed that Mary is the first of the saints who guides us to her son.

“In the great assembly of saints, God has wanted to reserve the first place for the Mother of Jesus,” the pontiff said before his Nov. 1 weekly recitation of the traditional Marian prayer.

Mary, he said, “is the center of the communion of saints, as the singular guardian of the bond of the universal Church with Christ.”

Whoever wants to follow Jesus on the path of the Gospel can find a secure guide in Mary, the Pope explained, saying that she is an attentive and caring mother with whom we can entrust every desire or difficulty.

Pope Francis referred to how the first two days of the month of November are dedicated to the saints in heaven and to all of the faithfully departed, saying that because of this the whole month constitutes “an intense moment of faith, of prayer and of reflection on the ‘last things’ of life.”

By celebrating the saints and commemorating the departed, the Church on earth, through her liturgy, expresses the spiritual bond that unites it to the heavenly Church, the Pope observed.

On the feast of All Saints, he said, we praise God and give thanks for the holy men and women of all time, who were “ordinary, simple and sometimes ‘the least’ of this world, but ‘first’ for God.”

The Bishop of Rome noted how we commemorate our own loved ones who have departed this life by visiting them in the cemetery, saying that a great source of consolation lies in the fact that they are now resting in the company of Mary, the Apostles, the martyrs, and all holy men and women in heaven.

A fundamental truth that the solemnity reminds us of is expressed when we profess “the communion of saints” in the recitation of the Creed, he noted.

“It’s the communion which is born of faith and unites all of those who belong to Christ by reason of their Baptism. It is a spiritual union which is not broken by death, but continues in the next life,” the Roman Pontiff continued, saying that there is an “indestructible bond” between the living and those who have experienced death.

Together with those in heaven, we form “one big family” of faith, the Pope continued, saying that the communion between heaven and earth is brought to fruition is the celebration of the Eucharistic Liturgy, which expresses the profound union between members of the Church.

When we celebrate the Eucharist “we encounter the living Jesus and his strength, and through him we enter into communion with our brothers and sisters in the other life, the life without end,” he said, explaining that this communion should fill us with joy.

“It’s beautiful to have so many brothers and sisters in the faith who walk at our side” and sustain us with their help, and who walk with us along the same road to heaven, the pontiff observed.

A great consolation for us on our journey to eternal life is knowing that we have brothers and sisters who have already attained heaven, and who pray for us and wait for us to join them in adoring “the glorious and merciful face of the Father.”

Mary, he said, is the greatest of the saints, and the one around whom all the others are gathered. He concluded by offering prayers to “the Queen of all the saints, because she helps us respond with generosity and fidelity to God, who calls us to be holy as he is holy.”

from catholicnewsagency.com

Posted on Pope Francis Support

 

Ave Maria Online Magazine
Extravagant displays of devotion to Mary gets curtailed as world culture emphasizes the rational, scientific and technological aspects of life. There seems to be no more time for the more affective expressions of religion.

  Then, after a while, people get fed up with the absolutely rational and logical culture, and rediscover religion and the affective part of the human soul and its needs.

  And Mary is one of those.

Pledge to pray the rosary
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Love and support for Pope Francis
The Church is certainly a human and historical institution with all that entails, yet her nature is not essentially political but spiritual: the Church is the People of God, Holy People of God making its way to encounter Jesus Christ. Only from this perspective can a satisfactory account be given of the Church's life and activity.

  Christ is the Church's Pastor, but his presence in history passes through the freedom of human beings; from their midst one is chosen to serve as his Vicar, the successor of the Apostle Peter.

  Yet Christ remains the center, not the Sucessor of Peter: Christ, Christ is the centre.

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3 Hail Marys for Pope Francis
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2012-2013 The Year of Faith
May every Christian rediscover the journey of faith so as to shed ever clearer light on the joy and renewed enthusiasm of the encounter with Christ.

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A Million Roses for the World
A gift of love, faith and goodwill from the people of the Philippines. Pope Pius IX once said: “Give me an army praying a million rosaries a day and we will conquer the world.” We are not out to conquer the world…but to save it for God to whom it rightly belongs.

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