from ucatholic.com

“Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown his great mercy toward her, and they rejoiced with her.”

We all want joy. Joy is the great gift that God gives to us, and this gift opens our hearts and minds to believe in him more, to hope in him more, and to love him more. And one of the most powerful aspects about true joy is that it enables us to rejoice with others.

Luke points this out in today’s Gospel. Elizabeth’s neighbors rejoice when they hear of the Lord’s great mercy in her life. They could have reacted crabbily and asked themselves “Why did she receive that great gift? Why didn’t receive something like that?” Instead they rejoice with her.

In my ministry as chaplain at the Institute for the Psychological Sciences, I’ve been given the great gift to share in the students’ lives, in their hopes and in their dreams. And I’m discovering the power of participating in someone else’s joy. Life is not a zero-sum game – if you win, I lose. On the contrary. The gifts of one are the gifts of all, and if we rejoice with others it opens wonderful new windows in our own lives to the action of God.

Christmas is a reminder that God gives us His own joy as a gift. What’s my first reaction when I hear of someone else’s success? How do I respond to the joys of my friends? How do I react to the joys of those who have offended me? Let’s ask the Lord to show us any roadblocks in our hearts that impede us from sharing in others’ joy, and to help us to truly rejoice with them.

— Fr. John Pietropaoli, LC, Chaplain, Institute for the Psychological Sciences.

Posted on Ave Maria

 

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. Cardinal Tagle gave Pope Francis this welcome message upon the latter’s visit to Manila last January 2015 and here is an insight he shared :

Fachada de la Catedral de Manila, 1863

The Manila Cathedral was the first cathedral church in the Philippines. It can be considered a symbol of the Filipino people. Fire destroyed the first cathedral. The succeeding five cathedrals were either partially or totally damaged by earthquakes, the most massive of which struck in 1863 burying in rubble the members of the cathedral chapter, the choir and lay faithful. The seventh cathedral was mercilessly bombed along with other edifices in the Walled City of Manila (Intramuros) during the battle of liberation in 1945. We are gathered today in the eighth cathedral building that we closed three years ago for repairs. Now it warmly welcomes you. This cathedral has been razed to the ground many times, but it refuses to vanish. It boldly rises from the ruins – just like the Filipino people. Yes, Holy Father, we bishops, priests and religious men and women have seen and lived the suffering and determination of our people. “We are afflicted in every way possible, but we are not crushed.” (2 Corinthians 4:8).

FrancisPH3What is the secret to the resilience of Filipinos? Fr. Horacio de la Costa, SJ, historian, writer, priest, religious and nationalist provided an insight. He said that the Filipino has two treasures: music and faith. Our melodies make our spirits soar above the tragedies of life. Our faith makes us stand up again and again after deadly fires, earthquakes, typhoons and wars. And now, as many of our poor people are just beginning to rise from recent natural and human-made calamities, you, Holy Father came to us. You bring fire, not to destroy but to purify. You bring an earthquake, not to shatter but to awaken. You bring weapons, not to kill but to assure. Indeed, “you are Peter, the Rock upon which Jesus builds His Church” (Matthew 16:18). You are Peter who comes “to strengthen your brothers and sisters in faith” (Luke 22:32). We welcome you, successor of Peter, to this blessed land of untiring hope, of infinite music and of joyful faith. With your visit, we know Jesus will renew and rebuild His Church in the Philippines. Mabuhay!

Posted on Ave Maria, Pope Francis Support

 

from Letter #40, 2015: HOMILY ON ST. MICHAEL by Robert Moynihan

The first reading, taken from the book of Revelation, begins with a powerful phrase: “War broke out in heaven.”

(Here is an image of these verses from Revelation.)
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And then it says how this war was: it is the final war, the last war, the War of the End.

It is the war between the angels of God led by St. Michael against Satan, that old serpent, the devil.

This is the last (war), and there it all ends, there remains only the eternal peace of the Lord with all his children who have been faithful.

But throughout all of history, this war is fought every day. Every day.

It is fought in the hearts of men and of women, it is fought in the hearts of Christians and non-Christians…

It is a war between good and evil where we must choose what we want, the good or the evil.

But the method of warfare, the methods of war of these two enemies, are totally opposite.

In the opening prayer, in the Collect, we ask for the grace to be defended by the Archangel Michael against the “snares” of the demon, of the devil.

And this is one of the methods of the devil, snares.

He is a sower of snares, never does a seed of life fall from his hands, a seed of unity, always snares, snares: it is his method, to sow snares.

Let us pray to the Lord to protect us from this.

Then another method, another way of making war, we heard in the first reading, the Satan who seduces: he is a seducer, he is one who sows snares and a seducer. He seduces with charm, with devilish charm, he leads you to believe all.

He knows how to sell with this charm, sells well, but he pays badly in the end!

It is his method.

Recall that the first time this gentleman appears in the Gospel, it is a dialogue with Jesus.

Jesus is praying for 40 days in the wilderness, fasting, and the end he is a little tired and hungry.

And he comes, moving slowly like a serpent, and makes those three proposals to Jesus: “If you are God, son of God, there are stones, you’re hungry, change them into bread”; “If you are the Son of God, why so much effort? Come with me to the terrace of the temple and thrown yourself down, and people will see this miracle and effortlessly you will be recognized as the Son of God”; the devil tries to seduce him and, in the end, as he could not seduce him, the last temptation: “Let’s be clear: I will give you all the power of the world, but you give adoration to me. Let’s make an agreement.”

These are the three steps of the method of the ancient serpent, the devil.

First, to have things, in this case bread, riches, the riches that will slowly lead to corruption — and this corruption is not a fairy tale! It is everywhere. There is corruption everywhere: for two cents many people sell their souls, sell their happiness, sell their life, sell everything. It is the first step: money, riches.

Then, when you have money, you feel important. This is the second step: vanity. What the devil said to Jesus: “Let’s go onto the terrace of the temple, throw yourself down, make a great show!”

Living for vanity.

The third step: power, arrogance, pride: “I will give you all the power of the world, you will be the one in charge.”

This happens even to us, always, in the little things: we are too attached to riches, we love it when we are praised, like the peacock.

And many people become ridiculous, many people. Vanity makes you ridiculous.

Or, at the end, when you have power, you feel like God, and this is the great sin.

(Here is an image of the third and final temptation of Jesus. Satan offers Jesus all power in this world, if only Jesus will bow down and worship him. Jesus refuses, points to heaven and, citing Scripture, says God alone is worthy of human worship. Here is the passage from Matthew:”Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world, and their glory. And he said to Him, “All these things will I give you if you fall down and worship me. Then Jesus said to him, “Begone, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.’” (Matthew 4:8-10))

This is our struggle, and that’s why today we ask the Lord that, through the intercession of the Archangel Michael, we may be defended from the snares, the charm, the seductions of this ancient serpent called Satan.

You who work, you have a job a little bit difficult, where there are always conflicts and you have to put things in their place and avoid many times thefts or crimes.

Pray much that the Lord, through the intercession of St. Michael the Archangel, may defend you from every temptation, from every temptation of corruption for money, for riches, for vanity and pride.

And the more humble, like Jesus, the more humble is your service, the more fruitful and more useful it will be for all of us.

The humility of Jesus. And how do we see the humility of Jesus — with this I finish so as not to be too long — how do we see Jesus’ humility?

If we go to the account of the temptations of Jesus, we never find a single word of his own.

Jesus does not respond with his own words, he responds with the words of Scripture, all three times.

This is what he teaches us: that we cannot dialogue with the devil, and this helps very much, when temptation comes: “With you, I do not speak — the word of the Lord only.”

May the Lord help us in this daily struggle, but not for us, it is a struggle for service, because you are men and women of service: service to society, service to others, service to increase goodness in the world.

Posted on Pope Francis Support

 

The Archangels Michael, Raphael, GabrielToday is the feast of the ArchAngels, Saint Michael, Saint Gabriel and Saint Raphael.  It is unusual that the readings today do not mention any of these three ArchAngels.  Both readings do describe the angels in heaven that constantly served God the Father, before His throne, though.

Isn’t the first reading for Mass quite powerful?  The images that form in our mind is almost incomprehensible.  We can’t really visualize God the Father, but this reading gives us a good idea what He must be like:

“The Ancient One took his throne.  His clothing was bright as snow, and the hair on his head as white as wool.”

The reading continues to say that thousands upon thousands were ministering to Him and myriads and myriads attended Him.  This reading is unusual as it does not mention the angels specifically, but we do know that the ArchAngels surround the throne of God.  The second half of this reading does tell us about the Son of Man though, who received an everlasting dominion over all nations and all people.

Saint Michael the ArchAngel went to battle against Satan and his demons and cast them out of heaven.

Saint Raphael cured Tobit’s father of his blindness in the Old Testament.

Saint Gabriel announced to Mary that she would conceive a child by the Holy Spirit, and he would be God’s own son.

The angels are God’s messengers.  Jesus speaks of them in the gospel:

“Amen, amen, I say to you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”

This wasn’t something he read in the Old Testament, it was something he knew.  If you remember, Jesus existed before the world began.  John 17:5:

“So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed.”

The angels exist.  Even if we are not aware of their presence, they are with us none the less.  They protect us, and those we love too, from danger.  Sometimes they help guide us to make the right decisions in life.  Sometimes they are messengers sent by God, to tell us something that He wishes to say to us.  Often, it is simply to make His presence known.  At other times though, there might be something God asks you to do.

Angels appeared to many people in the bible through dreams.  Saint Joseph is the most famous and trustworthy example of this.  The thing that is honorable about Joseph, is that he listened to the angel in his dream and obeyed him, without question.  It happened twice.  The first time an angle told Joseph not to be afraid to take Mary for his wife, and the second time an angel appeared in a dream to him, was to warn him that Herod was trying to kill baby Jesus and they needed to leave.  Jesus’s life was in danger.

Many people disregard their dreams.  Would you have the faith to trust a dream that you are certain came from God?  What if the request made in the dream was pretty radical?  Like when the angel told Joseph and Mary to escape to Egypt?  Would you have the faith to pick up everything, leave behind all that you have ever known, and venture into a strange land to begin a new life?  This was a pretty drastic thing for Joseph and Mary to do, especially based on a dream.

Is your faith deep enough to trust your instincts?  The ‘gut feeling’ people sometimes have about an unusual occurrence, a dream, or perhaps a profound coincidence?  Are you willing to bet your life on it, the same way Saint Joseph did?  Perhaps that is why Saint Joseph is a saint.  He had complete trust, confidence and faith in God.  Saint Joseph accepted the ways that God makes His presence, and His will known to us.

Baby Jesus survived because Saint Joseph trusted the angel who appeared to him in a dream.  This is something worth thinking about today.

How deep is your faith in God’s holy messengers?

from A Catholic Moment

Posted on Ave Maria

 

“The word that hit me hard: dream,” Pope Francis said. “A Latin American writer used to say: ‘People have two eyes, one made of flesh and one made of glass. With the eye of flesh, we see what we look at. For the eye made of glass, we see what we dream of.’ That’s nice, isn’t it?”

“We have to allow for the ability to dream. The young person who is not capable of dreaming is closed in on himself,” he said.

The Pope also responded to the young people’s concerns about the need to learn how to work with others who think differently than themselves in Cuba, a one-party communist country.

“Let us not close in on the culture of ideologies,” Pope Francis said. “When I have my ideology, my way of thinking, and you have yours, I close in on the ideology.”

“Open hearts, open minds!” the Pope continued. “If you think differently than I do, why shouldn’t we talk? Why do we throw stones over that which separates us, that which makes us different? Why don’t we shake hands over that which we have in common?”

This ability to talk and find common ground, which the Pope called “social friendship” is a safeguard against enmity, which he said always brings destruction and death.

“The greatest enmity is war–the world today is being destroyed by war because we are unable to sit down and because we are unable to talk.”

“When there is division, there is death. Death in the soul. We’re killing social friendship, and so I ask you, be able to create social friendship.”

Pope Francis also spoke about hope, drawing from the event’s opening remarks from two young people.

“The young people are the hope of a country. We hear that all over the place,” the Pope said.

However, hope is not to be confused for naive optimism. Rather, it is the ability to work and suffer in order to achieve something greater.

“Hope is hard at work,” he said.

For Pope Francis, one of the biggest obstacles to hope for youth throughout the world is unemployment. He said this is a symptom of the “throwaway” culture in today’s world.

“This throwaway culture is hurting us all, is depriving us of hope,” he said.

“Children are thrown away, because they are not liked, they are killed before they are born. The elderly are thrown away… because they aren’t productive. Some countries have enacted euthanasia, and how many others have a ‘hidden euthanasia’?” he asked.

“Young people are thrown away because they don’t find work,” the Pope said, warning that this phenomena leads to despair and even suicide.

He urged young people to not give in to despair and defeatism, but rather to travel along the path of hope in a culture of encounter with others.

“An African proverb says: ‘If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go with others,’” the Pope said.

“Cuban youth, even though you may think differently, have different points of view, I wish that you go together, seeking hope, seeking the future.”

“Please, let us go together in a culture of encounter, even though we think differently, there is something greater than ourselves, which is the greatness of our people, our fatherland, the beauty, that sweet hope of the fatherland that we have to reach and realize,” he continued.

The Pope concluded his address by assuring the young people of his prayers and asking for theirs.

“I wish the best for you, I will pray for you, and I ask you to pray for me,” he said, “and if any one of you is a nonbeliever and cannot pray, at least wish me good things.”

from Pope Francis’ response to the dreams and hopes of young people who spoke to him in Cuba via catholicnewsagency.com

Posted on Pope Francis Support

 

There is a worldly compassion which is useless. You expressed something like this. It’s a compassion that makes us put our hands in our pockets and give something to the poor. But if Christ had had that kind of compassion he would have greeted a couple of people, given them something, and walked on. But it was only when he was able to cry that he understood something of our lives. Dear young boys and girls, today’s world doesn’t know how to cry. The emarginated people, those left to one side, are crying. Those who are discarded are crying. But we don’t understand much about these people in need. Certain realities of life we only see through eyes cleansed by our tears. I invite each one here to ask yourself: have I learned how to weep? Have I learned how to weep for the emarginated or for a street child who has a drug problem or for an abused child? Unfortunately there are those who cry because they want something else.

This is the first thing I want to say: let us learn how to weep as she has shown us today and let us not forget this lesson. The great question of why so many children suffer, she did this in tears. The response that we can make today is: let us really learn how to weep.

In the Gospel, Jesus cried for his dead friend, he cried in his heart for the family who lost its child, for the poor widow who had to bury her son. He was moved to tears and compassion when he saw the crowds without a pastor. If you don’t learn how to cry, you cannot be a good Christian. This is a challenge. When they posed this question to us, why children suffer, why this or that tragedy occurs in life – our response must be either silence or a word that is born of our tears. Be courageous, don’t be afraid to cry.

from Pope Francis’ impromptu speech, as delivered during the encounter with the youth at the University of Santo Tomas in Manila on Sunday, January 18, 2015

Posted on Ave Maria

 

Thy birth, O Virgin Mother of God,
heralded joy to all the world.
For from thou hast risen the Sun of justice,
Christ our God.

Destroying the curse, He gave blessing;
and damning death, He bestowed on us
life everlasting.

Blessed art thou among women
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.
For from thou hast risen of Sun of justice,
Christ our God.

Family Observance of the Feast of the Birth of Mary

Mary’s Birthday Cake

All children love birthday cakes — so today, let’s make a birthday cake for the Blessed Virgin Mary. A white layer cake or angel food cake would be appropriate, with white icing and blue icing for trim (white is a symbol of purity; blue symbolizes fidelity, and is a color especially used for Mary). We suggest letting the children help with the decorations, if possible. If you have a small statue of Mary, it could be placed in the center of the cake, which can be surrounded by 10 candles — one for each “Hail Mary” prayer in a decade of the Rosary. (If you don’t have a little statue, you can write Mary’s name on the cake in blue icing.)

At the end of the evening meal, each child could take turns lighting the 10 candles as the whole family prays together a “Hail Mary” for each candle, ending with the Lord’s Prayer.

If the children are too young to light candles, mother could light the candles, then the adults could pray one Hail Mary at the end, just before the cake is cut. After eating the birthday cake, the prayer below could be said (this prayer, the concluding prayer from “Matins” of the Divine Office, could also be said with the children at bedtime).

Lord God,
the day of our salvation dawned
when the Blessed Virgin gave birth to your Son.
As we celebrate her nativity
grant us your grace and your peace.
Through Christ our Lord, Amen.

from wf-f.org

Posted on Ave Maria

 

St. Gregory

The proof of love is in the works. Where love exists, it works great things. But when it ceases to act, it ceases to exist.
- St. Gregory the Great

Posted on Ave Maria

 

Queen of all creation

Mary, the Mother who cared for Jesus, now cares with maternal affection and pain for this wounded world. Just as her pierced heart mourned the death of Jesus, so now she grieves for the sufferings of the crucified poor and for the creatures of this world laid waste by human power. Completely transfigured, she now lives with Jesus, and all creatures sing of her fairness. She is the Woman, “clothed in the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars” (Rev 12:1). Carried up into heaven, she is the Mother and Queen of all creation. In her glorified body, together with the Risen Christ, part of creation has reached the fullness of its beauty. She treasures the entire life of Jesus in her heart (cf. Lk 2:19,51), and now understands the meaning of all things. Hence, we can ask her to enable us to look at this world with eyes of wisdom.

Laudate Si, Chapter 6, Part 8, Par. 241

Posted on Ave Maria

 

She is the believer, the great believer; she knows – and says – that the violence of the mighty, the pride of the rich, the hubris of the arrogant weighs down in history. Still, Mary believes and proclaims that God does not abandon His humble and poor children, but helps them with mercy, with care, overthrowing the mighty from their thrones, scattering the proud from the plots in their hearts. This is the faith of Our Mother; this is the faith of Mary!

The Canticle of Our Lady also lets us sense the full meaning of the story of Mary: if the mercy of the Lord is the motor of history, then He could not “allow Her who generated the Lord of life to know the corruption of the sepulchre” (Preface). All this is not only about Mary. The “great things” done in Her by the Almighty profoundly touches us, it speaks of our journey in life, it reminds us of the destination that awaits us: the house of the Father.

Our lives, seen in the light Mary’s Assumption into Heaven, is not a wandering without meaning, but a pilgrimage that, with all its uncertainties and sufferings, has a sure destination: the house of Our Father, who awaits us with love. It is beautiful to think of this: that we have a Father who awaits us with love, and that also our Mother Mary is there and She awaits us with love.

more on Pope Francis’ Angelus, August 2015

Posted on Pope Francis Support

 

Locutions to the World

The beginning locutions are very special; focusing on the Fatima Vision (released by the Vatican (June 2000).

Concerning Private Revelations: These are private revelations and there is no need to believe them. If these revelations help your faith, then receive them. If not, you can set them aside. We are called to believe only public revelations.

The locutions are posted twice a week. Visit their site at www.locutions.org.

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
For Our Lady of Fatima
How often will you 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.

Pledge 3 Hail Marys for Pope Francis
3 Hail Marys for Pope Francis
Offer up 3 Hail Marys for Pope Francis today

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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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