Sunday, April 29, 2007

Fr. James's Homily

The Good Shepherd

One of my favorite movies is The Delta Force. American tourists are hijacked by Arab terrorists who hold the hostages in Beirut. Lee Marvin and Chuck Norris lead an elite team of U.S. Special Forces that rescue the endangered travelers.

At the beginning of the tragedy, the two Arab terrorists aboard the jetliner begin to separate the few Jewish tourists from the rest of the hostages. One of the most moving moments of the film is when Fr. William O’Malley, a priest from Chicago played by George Kennedy, gets up from his seat and walks into the First Class compartment where the Jews are being held. Kennedy courageously walks into the compartment where he is disdainfully met by the leading terrorist.

The terrorist asks what his name is and Kennedy responds that his name is William O’Malley. Perplexed by the situation, the terrorist asks what the priest wants. He responds that since he is a Catholic priest and a follower of Jesus Christ, that he too is Jewish. “If you take one, you have to take us all”, answers the priest who willingly accompanies the Jewish hostages.

“I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish” (John 10: 28).

The main part of the Holy Land was a large central plateau about 35 miles long. The ground was for the most part rough and rocky. It was impossible for sheep just to stay in one area for grazing. Large areas for grazing simply did not exist. Every flock had to have a shepherd who led his flock every day to places where the sheep could eat.

The life of a shepherd was very difficult. A flock of sheep never grazed without his presence and therefore, the shepherd was on duty every day of the week. Since the sheep always had to travel in order to find grass to eat, they were never left alone. Sheep could get lost, or they could be attacked by wolves or stolen by robbers.

Sheep were seldom used for regular food by the people of the Holy Land; rather sheep were cultivated for the use of their wool. Thus, the shepherd was with his sheep for a very long time. He gave each one of them a name, and they all knew his voice. In fact, it is said that each shepherd had a peculiar way of speaking to the sheep that allowed them to know that he was their shepherd.

During the warm weather, it was common for the sheep to spend the night away from the village farm. The shepherd watched over them throughout the night. In these circumstances, the sheep stayed in open areas surrounded by a low rock wall. In these areas, the sheep entered and left through an open space which had no door or gate of any kind. During the night, the shepherd would sleep stretched out within the empty space so that no sheep could get out except by crossing over his body. At the same time, a wolf or a robber could not get in, expect by crossing over his body as well. Here we can see a prime example of how the shepherd would give his life for his sheep.

Jesus is the Good Shepherd. The Easter Season is a continual celebration of the one central mystery of Christianity; that Jesus gave his life for us by dying on the Cross. He saved us from our sins.

“For the Lamb who is in the center of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to springs of life-giving water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes” (Revelation 7: 17).

Applied to our practical lives, the message is clear. Whatever our state in life may be, we are all called to shepherd the sheep that have been entrusted to our care. This is most especially true for priests, parents and grand-parents.

Shepherding a diocese, a parish, or a family is very demanding. Dedication, commitment, sacrifice and vigilance are needed every day. Just like Jesus the Good Shepherd, shepherds are called to love unconditionally.

One of the many things that I admire about my own Bishop is the fact that he is always at his post. Whenever I have a question or I need some advice or a word of encouragement, he either answers my call immediately or returns my phone call within a very short span of time. Before he ends his busy day, he gets back to me or invites me to visit with him personally in his office.

Rather than unveiling plans for massive parish closings, our diocese is creating new parish communities and even a new Catholic High School is finishing its first year which has been a great success.

Should not we be asking some vital questions? Are homes being visited? Are priests being available for their people? Can they be reached for emergencies, even throughout the night?

If the majority of people have no church home or the demographics of a particular area have changed, it may seem more economical to close parishes, but is this what a shepherd should do?

Despite the many challenges of modern life, diocesan families, parish families, and families living in neighborhoods are vibrant, healthy, happy and strong when these families are led by people who are true shepherds, shepherds who lovingly tend their sheep.

If we are going to be true disciples of the Good Shepherd, we must forget ourselves completely and be totally dedicated. Jesus calls us to love one another unconditionally.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Limbo reflects 'unduly restrictive view of salvation,' Vatican theological commission says

By John Thavis
Catholic News Service (

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – After several years of study, the Vatican's International Theological Commission said there are good reasons to hope that babies who die without being baptized go to heaven.

In a document published April 20, the commission said the traditional concept of limbo – as a place where unbaptized infants spend eternity but without communion with God – seemed to reflect an "unduly restrictive view of salvation."

Please read entire article from Catholic News service here.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Mother's Womb Unsafe in Mexico

From Catholic News Service:
Womb now most dangerous place in Mexico, bishop laments

Mexico City, Apr 27, 2007 / 09:58 am (CNA).- The president of the Committee on the Family of the Mexican Bishops’ Conference, Bishop Rodrigo Aguilar Martinez, warned that the new law legalizing abortion the Mexican capital now makes the womb, “which should be the safest place in life,” the “most dangerous place” for the unborn.

Please see entire story here.

Connecticut legislature one step closer to forcing chemical abortions on Catholic hospitals

Connecticut legislature one step closer to forcing chemical abortions at Catholic hospitals

Hartford, April 27 (CNA).- The Connecticut state Senate overwhelmingly approved a bill Wednesday that would require all hospitals — including the four Catholic facilities — to provide the Plan B emergency contraceptive to rape victims. The abortifacient drug is also known as the morning after pill.

"This bill is a violation of the separation of Church and State," wrote Bishops Henry Mansell of Hartford and William Lori of Bridgeport in a letter to lawmakers on Wednesday. "The Catholic Bishops of Connecticut are responsible for establishing and determining what moral guidelines Catholic institutions should follow; not the Connecticut General Assembly."

Please see entire article here.

Pope Benedict coming to the United States

From Catholic News Service:

Vatican confirms: Pope Benedict has accepted invitation to visit United Nations HQ in New York

Vatican City, Apr 27, 2007 / 09:08 am (CNA).- The Director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J., confirmed recent rumors that Pope Benedict XVI has accepted an invitation to visit United Nations headquarters in New York City.

In a short press conference yesterday afternoon Fr. Lombardi announced that “The Pope has accepted the invitation in general terms, and has expressed his willingness to visit the U.N. headquarters, although as yet there is no date or program for the trip.”

The invitation was extended by U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on his recent audience with the Holy Father.

Several news sources reported Ban’s declaration yesterday that the Pope had accepted his invite.

Servant of God John Paul II visited the U.N. headquarters in 1979, and again in 1995 for the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the foundation of the organization.

The Vatican said that during last week's 20-minute private meeting in the pope's library, Ban and Benedict "dwelled on topics of common interest," including strengthening dialogue between cultures and how the Holy See might contribute to solving international conflicts.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

"Sad State of the Constitution State," By Bishop Lori

Sad State of the Constitution State

"While we celebrate the joy of the Easter season (actually 50 days, leading up to Pentecost), there remain important day-to-day issues to address. And, as this blog is a forum to teach, inform and motivate action and support, I must share news on a timely and important legislative issue that faces the Church here in Connecticut."
Read the remaining part of The Reverend Bishop William Lori's blog post here.

"Stop Abortion in Mexico" from Catholic News Agency

Mexico City, Apr 26, 2007 / 08:08 am (CNA).- Various civil groups in Mexico have announced they will defer to the official reaction of the Archdiocese of Mexico City, expected to come this Sunday, regarding the legalization of abortion, and they anticipated acts of civil disobedience would take place, as well as a new media campaign in support of life.

According to the newspaper “La Jornada,” Jose Antonio Fernandez of the organization Dignidad Ciudadana, announced that some 40 organizations “will soon begin a radio and television campaign to warn young people about the risks of the practice of abortion, and they will put in motion a support system for women who are in danger of having abortions.”

Fernandez said that Catholic groups like the Knights of Columbus would unite behind the Archdiocese and its position and would support National Action Party (PAN) in its lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the law.

Likewise, pro-life groups said they would intensify efforts to promote adoption as an alternative to abortion and to support laws that prevent employers from firing pregnant women.

The president of the College of Catholic Lawyers, Armando Martinez, told La Jornada that his organization would request the involvement of the Attorney General of Mexico in the legal challenge of the law’s constitutionality.

Jorge Serrano Limon, president of the group Pro-Life, warned of acts of civil disobedience in the Mexican capital.

Official reaction

The Archdiocese of Mexico City’s news office indicated that the archdiocese would not make any public statements about the new law “until the Episcopal Council of the Archdiocese of Mexico has the chance to evaluate the moral consequences of the reforms that have been passed in light of the Gospel and consult with various experts.” An official statement approved by Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera is expected to come this Sunday.

According to “La Jornada,” the National Confraternity of Evangelical Christian Churches said it would respect the decision of the majority in the Mexico City assembly, “whatever it is.” “Arturo Farela, president of the organization, said Evangelical churches would accept the legalization of abortion, because they respect Mexican law,” the newspaper reported.

See entire story from the Catholic News Agency here.

The Colors of Spring!

Visit Suzanne at Blessed Among Men for her lighthearted photo depiction of "The Colors of Spring!"

Find the Lord in every moment

Please visit: Standing Under the Sky for a beautiful reflection very similar to my post yesterday about finding Jesus in our midst.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

A new day to find Jesus right in our midst

Thank you dear Lord for this new day! A new day in which to serve you and to love my neighbor.

Mother Teresa once said, "It is very possible that you will find human beings, surely very near you, needing affection and love. Do not deny them these. Show them, above all, that you sincerely recognize that they are human beings, that they are important to you. Who is that someone? That person is Jesus himself: Jesus who is hidden under the guise of suffering!"

Mother Teresa served Jesus in all whom she met. Her work amongst the poor was extraordinary, but we too are called to serve the poor - the "poor" in our own families first and foremost, then we go out and serve the "poor" in our neighborhoods and communities. Yes, these poor are Jesus himself!

That grouchy person who may live in our own households, that "annoying" person we may know, that inconsiderate driver who almost ran us off the road, that co-worker who belittles our faith, that sister, brother or priest in our convent or rectory that we do not see "eye to eye" with, that homeless person we see almost everyday; these are the poor around us that we must love, serve, and pray for. Jesus calls us to a radical love. When we allow Jesus to love through us and when we truly see Jesus living in others--then the miracles will begin. Sometimes the love that we need to give others is shown in silence, in listening to the other's worries, concerns, even ranting, showing we care. In some cases, this love may be in not retaliating, rather "holding our tongue," showing love in exchange for the "dart," at other times we may offer some words, gestures or something more tangible. Of course, prayers offered in every situation are always beneficial.

Along with the miracles and transformations of hearts that occur when we allow Jesus to love through us will also come much grace for us and for our neighbor. We should find comfort in one of Mother Teresa's favorite Gospel messages: "'Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me,ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.' Then the righteous will answer him and say, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?' And the king will say to them in reply, 'Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for the least brothers of mine, you did to me.'" (Matthew 25: 24-40)

We must remember that it is no coincidence that God has put us where we are in our lives, with the various people that surround us. Self knowledge unfolds for us in our dealings with others and in our responses to them. Let us look around us and open our eyes to see who we may be forgetting to show our love to or are having difficulty doing so. We must love until it hurts. God will always give us sufficient grace. Every ordinary day is yet another opportunity to serve our Lord and his "poor" in an extraordinary way.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Kids and trampolines...a bad mix in my opinion

In case you are wondering about the conversation that I had with Charlie Chautin about trampolines that I just discovered she mentioned in her blog, Friends for the Journey...

Charlie and I were having a discussion about trampolines and their safety or lack thereof. I told her that probably (because I am a Mom) the point that stands out most clearly in my mind after writing an article about Dana and Christopher Reeve after attending Dana's talk was that so many children have ended up paralyzed because of falling off or falling on their heads on a trampoline. Dana said that she and Christopher encountered so many paralyzed children at the hospitals and therapy places that Christopher attended. She said the causes of their accidents were in most of the cases from trampolines.

You can never be too careful when it comes to trampolines. Kids always want to play bouncing games on a trampoline involving another child bouncing at the same time. This is dangerous because children can collide with one another in this way due to the unpredictability in their bouncing. I have seen this with little children and with teens. I believe that trampolines should have a safety netting around them for children and that there should be very strict rules regarding trampolines. Parents should not let their children play unsupervised on a trampoline. And let's not forget that a trampoline in your yard is very tempting to neighbor kids who might go on it when you are not home and may get hurt.

Interestingly, after Charlie and I had that conversation, she and her father-in-law were watching Charlie's little daughter, Abby AKA "Little Miss Cautious" happily play on their trampoline. Charlie had been discussing trampoline safety with her father-in-law in light of our conversation. As Abby jumped, Charlie carefully and attentively spotted Abby, always telling her to bounce in the middle, and then suddenly Abby went flying almost clear off the edge of the trampoline. It was a miracle that Charlie and her father-in-law were able to catch Abby before she could fall on her head on the ground. Charlie told me that the trampoline is now off limits after that frightening incident until they install a safety net. They are very thankful that the mishap did not end in a disaster.

So, all of the trampoline lovers may hate me for being outspoken about this, but I would rather be hated and help to prevent heartache and possibly save lives.

"Losing" Limbo?

"Catholics United for the Faith" offers a very fine and informative article addressing the results of the International Theological Commission just released on Limbo.

The artcle begins:

News reports present misleading information about a newly-released document

The International Theological Commission (ITC) has, with Pope Benedict XVI’s permission, released the results of their study on "The Hope of Salvation for Infants Who Die Without Being Baptized." The study examines the question of what happens to the souls of infants who die without having received the Sacrament of Baptism.

Many news reports on the ITC study contain information that is misleading at best and false at worst. Below are answers to common questions that will help readers to sift the wheat from the chaff as they read and listen to the news or discuss the topic with family, friends, or coworkers.

Please read entire article here.

What is a Good Catholic?

Please take a few moments to read a very fine article by Leon J. Suprenant, Jr. He speaks about what makes a good Catholic and what we are required to do.

He writes:

"All that is necessary for evil to succeed is that good men do nothing."

This quote, attributed to the 18th-century British philosopher Edmund Burke, is often used as a rallying cry when it comes to attacks against the Catholic Church. Perhaps we can fine-tune the quote this way for our purposes: "All that is necessary for anti-Catholicism to succeed is that good Catholics do nothing."

This quote appropriately exhorts all of us to fight against the vices of laziness and cowardice and do our part in standing up for the Church. However, there is another implied exhortation embedded in this quote: We can't take for granted that any of us, let alone the majority of Catholics, are "good." While we might disagree as to what precisely constitutes a "good" Catholic, we can say that ordinarily a "good" Catholic would not sit by idly while the Church is attacked. And even if he or she did so temporarily, that person should easily be stirred to action when confronted with the reality of anti-Catholicism. But, given the inroads anti-Catholicism has made in our culture with relatively little resistance, it's fair to ask, are the "good" Catholics doing nothing, or are many Catholics not as "good" as we're called to be? At the end of the day, what is a "good" Catholic?

More of the article here.

Visit Catholics United for the Faith here.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

My "Video Conversation" with Earle at "Standing Under the Sky"

It was a gorgeous day here yesterday in Connecticut. Earle Sanford, D. Min. came to visit me and to have a "video conversation" with me filmed by his Producer, Sandy Carlson. I am told that the windy day drowned out a lot of the clarity of the sound in the footage. Nevertheless, Sandy expertly put together a video and we are left with some ideas to ponder and a bit of information about my books and work. I hope you enjoy the film clip which you will see by going to "Standing Under the Sky."
(photo credit: Sandy Carlson)

Fr. James's Sunday homily: Third Sunday of Easter

Lessons From Failure
Every sin is a failure. However, there is a lot that we can learn every time we say no to the Lord. Every moment of sin is a moment to love more. During the Last Supper, Peter assured the Lord of his love. Nevertheless, Jesus predicted that he would deny Him three times.

Sometimes pride causes us to sin. We feel confident that we can handle certain situations. Pride can even blind us from the memory of past experiences, and we fall in the same hole over and over again.

In this Sunday’s gospel narrative, Jesus asks Peter three times if he really does love him. The triple profession of love that Peter makes after the Resurrection overcomes his threefold denial before the Passion.

When Peter denied the Lord, the Scriptures tell us that he went away and wept bitterly. Through repentance and compunction, Peter was able to mistrust his own abilities and put his trust entirely in the Lord. He discovered that left to his own abilities, he would continue to fall. However, united to the power of God’s grace, he could overcome himself and persevere in fidelity.

There must be a reason why Jesus chose Peter to be the head of his Apostles. He trusted Peter and knew that he would return loving even more. Perfect people do not exist. God always chooses the weak in order to bring about great tasks. People who recognize their weaknesses, sinfulness and limitations are humble. Humility allows them to rely on God’s grace and not on their own capabilities. The arrogant do not allow God to work in their lives, or through them, in the lives of others.

“Peter, do you love me”? Peter was asked this question three times. Three times Peter assured the Lord that he loved him, and three times Peter was commissioned to show his love by feeding the flock. This reminds us that love is not comprised of empty promises. Love is made manifest in giving ourselves to others.

Easter is all about the new way of life called Christianity. Feeding lambs and feeding sheep means that because of Jesus, we no longer can live for ourselves. We need to be kind to each other, affirm and encourage one another, serve and forgive one another.

Every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future. Many of the greatest saints of the Catholic Church were at one time great sinners. Simply consider the sins of David, Magdalen, Paul, and Augustine. Nevertheless, they, like many others, were able to turn their lives around and love even more.

This Sunday’s gospel passage reminds us that our own personal sin is never the end of the story. Every day God gives us a blank piece of paper to write the history of a new day.

“Peter, do you love me?” Jesus asks us the same question: Do you love me? Every day, we have many moments to show Jesus how much we really do love him.

“Peter, do you love me more than these?” Do you love me more than your possessions. Do you love me more than your money? Do you love me more than your house? Do you love me more than you spouse, your children, your mother and your father? Do you really love me more than yourself?

Unless we are able to go into the desert, which is a terrible and difficult journey, we will never experience true love. And why is this true? This is true because in order to really love the way Jesus call us to love, we must truly die to ourselves. Only those who are free from any attachment, any obsession and any addiction can truly love. When you really die to yourself, than love possesses you. When you can truly love, you will never fear failure and sin because failure and sin become opportunities to love even more intensely.

For all those who call themselves disciples of Jesus, failure is an opportunity to love better and stronger. By beginning again and again, failure is an opportunity to love God and neighbor even more.

Visit Fr. James's here.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

I'd like to introduce you to my friend, Fr. James!

I'd like to introduce you to my friend, Fr. James Farfaglia
from St. Helena of the True Cross Parish in Corpus Christi, Texas. We both grew up in the same hometown in Connecticut and now he is a Catholic priest and pastor in Texas. He is also a frequent contributor of articles to Catholic Exchange. I plan to post his Sunday homily each Sunday here for all of you. Stop back tomorrow to be inspired by his homily.

Lyrid Meteor Shower

North America observers will be able to catch the rising and falling phases of this meteor shower in the early morning hours of April 22nd and also April 23rd. For more information read this article.

Comet Lovejoy, a newly discovered comet

Terry Lovejoy of Thornlands, Queensland, Australia discovered a new comet but not with a telescope. He made this discovery with his digital camera! Check out this article to find out more and also where it can be viewed from April 20 to 26th.

How to talk with teens after the Virginia Tech incident

Catholic Mom, Lisa Hendey from Catholic Mom.Com wrote an article after speaking with Mark Hart regarding talking to your kids about tragedies. She felt troubled by the Virginia Tech incident and wanted to go to someone she considered to be an expert on the subject. Read her article here.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

U.S. Supreme Court upholds partial-birth abortion ban

Pro-life leaders praise court's decision

Washington DC, Apr 18, 2007 / 11:18 am (CNA).- In a stunning victory for life, the Supreme Court of the United States today upheld a 2003 law passed by Congress and signed by President George W. Bush, which bans the procedure known as partial-birth abortion.

In a 5-4 decision the justices ruled that the 2003 law does not violate a woman’s right to procure an abortion and, as such, is in line with the court’s precedent set by 1973 decision in Row v. Wade.

The opponents of the act "have not demonstrated that the Act would be unconstitutional in a large fraction of relevant cases," Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion.

The court accepted arguments on behalf of the legislation which claimed that the procedure, which involves partially removing the child then crushing or cutting its skull, qualifies as infanticide and not as abortion.

According to the AP the cases constitutes the first time the court banned a specific procedure in a case over how - not whether - to perform an abortion.

The decision found President Bush's two appointees, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito, siding with the majority. Justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia also were in the majority.

All five of the majority-voting Justices are Catholic.

See entire story here.

New "Catholic Mothers Online" blog list

If you are a Catholic Mother and you are Online, you may want to check this out. Also check my left column to see the blue icon of a hand holding a Rosary with a list of mother's blogs.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Thank you, Charlie Chautin at "Friends for the Journey"

Thank you, Charlie for posting a review about my book, The Heart of Motherhood: Finding Holiness in the Catholic Home on your blog, "Friends for the Journey."

Pope Benedict prays that God will send consolation and spiritual strength to all involved in Virginia Tech killings

Vatican City, Apr 17, 2007 / 10:30 am (CNA).- The Vatican made public this morning a message from Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, on behalf of Pope Benedict XVI. The Holy Father has assured Richmond Bishop Francis DiLorenzo of his “heartfelt prayers” for all the victims, their families, and the Virginia Tech community.

“Deeply saddened by the news of the shooting at Virginia Tech,” the statement begins, “His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI has asked me to convey the assurance of his heartfelt prayers for the victims, their families and for the entire school community.”

“In the aftermath of this senseless tragedy,” the message continues, the Pope, “asks God our Father to console all those who mourn and to grant them that spiritual strength which triumphs over violence by the power of forgiveness, hope, and reconciling love.”

The university and police officials confirmed this morning that Cho Seung-Hui, 23, a Virginia Tech senior and South Korea native is thought to be responsible for the killing of two people at a university dormitory and the subsequent murder of at least 30 people locked inside a classroom building.

The murders constitute the deadliest shooting rampage in modern U.S. history.

Bishop DiLorenzo will visit the Virginia Tech campus this coming weekend, and offer a Mass for the entire community.

Prayers, please

Please pray for the victims and families involved in the terrible tragedy at Virginia Tech as well as for all college students and students all over.

Monday, April 16, 2007

What's all of the NOISE about?

Teresa Tomeo, Ave Maria Radio Host of the "Catholic Connection" wrote an incredible eye opening book called, Noise published by Ascension Press. Her twenty years in TV and radio exposed her to the negative effects of the mass media on individuals and families, compelling her to do something about it. Mrs. Tomeo invested years of research so that she could offer a "one stop shopping" book that will help the reader understand the dangers of our media saturated culture while also giving them the tools to deal with it.

"This book is meant to outline the problem of media noise and its impact on individuals, families, and society. The research is compiled from a variety of sources including research groups, universities, and professional organizations that have been studying the effect of the media for many years. In these pages, though, we go even further by offering practical suggestions on how to silence the noise, which even the U.S. Census Bureau concedes continues to get louder and louder. According to a report released in December 2006, both adults and teens will spend nearly five months (or about 3,500 hours) surfing the Internet, watching television, listening to the radio, or using other media devises," Mrs. Tomeo tells us in her Introduction. She also gives us a bit of hope about the situation and says, "Be assured that ours is not an easy mission, but we can take comfort in Jesus' promise that 'In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.' (John 16:33)."

Noise is a must have book for today's Catholic and Christian families. For more information, visit Ascension Press or Teresa Tomeo's website.

Saint Bernadette

St. Bernadette was born at Lourdes, France. Her parents were very poor and she herself was in poor health. One Thursday, February 11, 1858, when she was sent with her younger sister and a friend to gather firewood, a very beautiful Lady appeared to her above a rose bush in a grotto called Massabielle. The lovely Lady was dressed in blue and white. She smiled at Bernadette and then made the sign of the cross with a rosary of ivory and gold. Bernadette fell on her knees, took out her own rosary and began to pray the rosary. The beautiful Lady was God's Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary. She appeared to Bernadette seventeen other times and spoke with her. She told Bernadette that she should pray sinners, do penance and have a chapel built there in her honor. Many people did not believe Bernadette when she spoke of her vision. She had to suffer much. But one day Our Lady told Bernadette to dig in the mud. As she did, a spring of water began to flow. The next day it continued to grow larger and larger. Many miracles happened when people began to use this water. When Bernadette was older, she became a nun. She was always very humble. More than anything else, she desired not to be praised. Once a nun asked her if she had temptations of pride because she was favored by the Blessed Mother. "How can I?" she answered quickly. "The Blessed Virgin chose me only because I was the most ignorant." What humility! Her feast day is April 16th.
(from Catholic Online)

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Divine Mercy Sunday!

CHECK HERE for information on Divine Mercy Sunday from the National Shrine.

"Eternal Father, I offer You the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your dearly beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world; for the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world" (Saint Faustina's Diary, 476).

"The Message of Divine Mercy has always been near and dear to me… which I took with me to the See of Peter and which it in a sense forms the image of this Pontificate."-Pope John Paul the Great

A meditation from From "One Bread One Body"
Jesus, if you would give us the grace of true understanding of
Your love for us, we would just kneel before You, and praise You,
and adore You out of sheer wonder at Your unconditional love.

We would be astounded at the mercy of Your love, and cry out in
awe at "Your mercy, mercy, mercy".

Yes, Jesus, You are a God of justice, but Your heart is full of
compassion and mercy.

Thank You oh Christ, for Your love, and thank You for Your
constant giving us of the graces that we might love You and all
in return.

Christ, Your heart is on fire with the love.

Please, with this flame of love, melt our human heart, and let
it become one with You.

Let our hearts beat in union with You, and let us see others
with Your eyes, and see their needs with Your heart. Thank You,
Amen and Amen.

Thank you, Lord Jesus, for loving us totally.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Divine Mercy

Please, please, please watch this video!

A Reflection on Jesus' Ressurection

Acts 4:1-12, Psalm 118, John 21:1-14
Link to Readings -->

From Presentation Ministries:

"They brought Peter and John before them and began the interrogation in
this fashion: 'By what power or in whose name have men of your stripe done
this?' " —Acts 4:7

Possibly the greatest proof of the resurrection is not the empty tomb or
Jesus' various appearances but the transformation of His disciples. Before
His resurrection and Pentecost, Peter denied Christ three times, and the
other apostles, with the exception of John (Jn 19:26), didn't even have
enough courage to put themselves in a dangerous, "deniable" position.
Peter was the most courageous of the lot but still a coward.

After Pentecost, however, Peter and the disciples boldly stood before
thousands and proclaimed the risen Christ. Even in court, before judges
and dignitaries, Peter and John were not intimidated. They boldly
proclaimed Jesus as the Stone rejected by the builders that became the
Cornerstone, and the only Name by which the world can be saved (Acts

This dramatic transformation can be explained only by the reality of the
resurrection. We need to see and be the same kind of
resurrection-witnesses today. The world is secretly watching us Christians
to see whether we will walk like we talk. It doesn't believe we really
believe. We must change and boldly proclaim the risen Christ. Then the
world must take notice and begin to entertain the thought that Jesus'
resurrection is real and the most important event in world history.

Prayer: Jesus, may I burn with a desire to tell people about You and Your

Promise: They "took so many fish they could not haul the net in. Then the
disciple Jesus loved cried out to Peter, 'It is the Lord!' " —Jn

Praise: Alleluia! Praise the Risen Jesus, Who calls us each by name!

Divine Mercy Sunday coming up this Sunday!

Words of Pope John Paul II
" I give thanks to the Divine Providence that I have been enabled to contribute personally to the fulfilment of Christ's Will, through the Institution of the Feast of Divine Mercy. I pray unceasingly that God will have Mercy on us and on the whole world."

Pope John Paul II (7/6/97)
Shrine of Divine Mercy, Cracow, Poland.

Visit here for preparations for Divine Mercy Sunday.

GO TO: Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) for special presentations offered for Divine Mercy Sunday.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

My interview with Teresa Tomeo on Catholic Connection on Ave Maria Radio

I just found out that we can access my radio interview with "Catholic Connection" through the archives of Catholic Connection at Ave Maria Radio.

Here is the link.

If you are interested, to listen to the show, you will need to put March 2007 in and then scroll down to the March 9th date, and the second hour of the show, the 4th segment. It is clearly labeled.

Pope Benedict will turn 80. Is he just a "caretaker pope" or is he making his mark?

VATICAN CITY (National Catholic Register) – Pope Benedict XVI turns 80 April 16, just three days before he completes the second year of his pontificate. Having become pope at such a mature age, some believed he would accomplish little and would be merely a “caretaker pope.”

POPE WAVES AS HE ARRIVES FOR GENERAL AUDIENCE – Pope Benedict XVI waves as he arrives for his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican April 4. The pope turns 80 April 16, just three days before he completes the second year of his pontificate. (CNS/Reuters)
But that’s not how this pontificate is turning out: The holy father has already made his mark, powerfully reminding the world in his first encyclical that Christianity is primarily about God’s love, reaching out to a spiritually stricken Europe and Islam, and taking careful but firm steps toward Christian unity.

See the entire article appearing on Catholic Online today

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

"Were not our hearts burning within us...?"

In today's Gospel: LK 24:13-35 we read the account of the Walk to Emmaus. Do these words speak to our hearts? “Were not our hearts burning within us
while he spoke to us on the way and opened the Scriptures to us?” Words for us to ponder today within all of our walks of life. Shouldn't our hearts be burning within us? Especially when we are at Mass, at a holy hour, and when we receive our Lord in Holy Communion?

Monday, April 9, 2007

My New book--Prayerfully Expecting: A Nine-Month Novena for Mothers-To-Be

NEW AND EXCITING NEWS! Here is the NEW cover image of my book. Although we will have to wait a bit longer, Prayerfully Expecting will be even more beautiful. The publisher decided to make a few appearance changes to my book. We can expect a May 2007 release. You may still pre-order this book and I will send it to you as soon as I get them.

This unique pregnancy prayer journal book which is published by the Crossroad Publishing Company bears a foreword by Blessed Teresa of Calcutta whom I knew personally.

My artist daughter, Chaldea illustrated this book which I wrote while I was on complete bedrest during a high risk pregnancy for her little sister, Mary-Catherine. During that time, I was blessed with Blessed Mother Teresa's prayers for my baby and me. I feel that God graced me with much inspiration during that pregnancy and placed the words on my heart, compelling me to write them down to be shared with others. I shared my manuscript with Mother Teresa. She read it and had her spiritual director go over it, and she then gifted me with a foreword for all of you! She told me that she would pray that it does "much good." I wish to pass on these many blessings to expectant mothers around the world so that they may discover and experience the holiness found within their pregnancy as they are helped to see their pregnancy as a prayerful retreat with the Lord while their baby grows within them.

Book Description
Your feet are swollen, your hormones are a mess, and you still crave too much ice cream. For every mother-to-be, the nine months of pregnancy can be demanding. Competing with the joy of anticipation is the frustration of bodily pain and limitation. In this intimate book, Donna Marie Cooper O'Boyle invites pregnant women everywhere to see their pregnancy not as a burden but as a living prayer to God. Connecting the nine months of pregnancy with the nine-part novena prayer tradition known to Catholics everywhere, Donna Marie shows how each month of pregnancy connects the mother to the great Catholic saints and teachers. Alongside the devotional and the catechetical helps are pointed references to the development of the child in the womb as the months of pregnancy progress.

You may pre-order your autographed copy through this website (and may receive it prior to the release date), through Crossroad Publishing Company or
To pre-order through this website, please use the PAY PAL by going to the link in the left column, "Donna-Marie's Store" or send a check or money order for $21.50 which includes shipping and handling to: Donna Cooper O'Boyle, PO Box 773, New Milford, CT 06776. Please include the name you would like inscribed in the book.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Holy Saturday

On Holy Saturday the Church waits at the Lord's tomb, meditating on his suffering and death. The altar is left bare, and the sacrifice of the Mass is not celebrated. Only after the solemn vigil during the night, held in anticipation of the resurrection, does the Easter celebration begin, with a spirit of joy that overflows into the following period of fifty days.

Holy Saturday (from Sabbatum Sanctum, its official liturgical name) is sacred as the day of the Lord's rest; it has been called the "Second Sabbath" after creation. The day is and should be the most calm and quiet day of the entire Church year, a day broken by no liturgical function. Christ lies in the grave, the Church sits near and mourns. After the great battle He is resting in peace, but upon Him we see the scars of intense suffering...The mortal wounds on His Body remain visible....Jesus' enemies are still furious, attempting to obliterate the very memory of the Lord by lies and slander.
Mary and the disciples are grief-stricken, while the Church must mournfully admit that too many of her children return home from Calvary cold and hard of heart. When Mother Church reflects upon all of this, it seems as if the wounds of her dearly Beloved were again beginning to bleed.

"According to tradition, the entire body of the Church is represented in Mary: she is the "credentium collectio universa". Thus, the Blessed Virgin Mary, as she waits near the Lord's tomb, as she is represented in Christian tradition, is an icon of the Virgin Church keeping vigil at the tomb of her Spouse while awaiting the celebration of his resurrection.
"The pious exercise of the Ora della Madre is inspired by this intuition of the relationship between the Virgin Mary and the Church: while the body of her Son lays in the tomb and his soul has descended to the dead to announce liberation from the shadow of darkness to his ancestors, the Blessed Virgin Mary, foreshadowing and representing the Church, awaits, in faith, the victorious triumph of her Son over death." — Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy

Although we are still in mourning, there is much preparation during this day to prepare for Easter. Out of the kitchen comes the smells of Easter pastries and bread, the lamb or hams and of course, the Easter eggs.
There are no liturgies celebrated this day, unless the local parish priest blesses the food baskets. In Slavic countries there is a blessing of the traditional Easter foods, prepared in baskets: eggs, ham, lamb and sausages, butter and cheeses, horseradish and salt and the Easter breads. The Easter blessings of food owe their origin to the fact that these particular foods, namely, fleshmeat and milk products, including eggs, were forbidden in the Middle Ages during the Lenten fast and abstinence. When the feast of Easter brought the rigorous fast to an end, and these foods were again allowed at table, the people showed their joy and gratitude by first taking the food to church for a blessing. Moreover, they hoped that the Church's blessing on such edibles would prove a remedy for whatever harmful effects the body might have suffered from the long period of self-denial. Today the Easter blessings of food are still held in many churches in the United States, especially in Slavic parishes.

If there is no blessing for the Easter foods in the parish, the father of the family can pray the Blessing over the Easter foods.

It is during the night between Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday that the Easter Vigil is celebrated. The service begins around ten o'clock, in order that the solemn vigil Mass may start at midnight.


Today we remember Christ in the tomb. It is not Easter yet, so it's not time for celebration. The day is usually spent working on the final preparations for the biggest feast of the Church year. The list of suggested activities is long, but highlights are decorating Easter eggs and attending a special Easter food blessing.

For families with smaller children, you could create a miniature Easter garden, with a tomb. The figure of the risen Christ will be placed in the garden on Easter morning.

Another activity for families is creation of a paschal candle to use at home.

The Directory on Popular Piety discusses some of the various devotions related to Easter, including the Blessing of the Family Table, Annual Blessing of Family Home, the Via Lucis and the Visit to the Mother of the Risen Christ.

(from Catholic Culture)

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Good Friday Devotions

Visit here for Good Friday of the Lord's Passion

Visit Catholic Culture for Stations of the Cross and Good Friday devotions.

Mother Angelica's Stations of the Cross.

Check here for details about possibly receiving a Plenary Indulgence on Mercy Sunday, the Sunday after Easter.

Divine Mercy Novena
First Day - Today bring Me all mankind, especially all sinners.

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.

Visit here for details on the Divine Mercy Novena which should be started today.

Holy Thursday

Holy Thursday

Such sadness and such beauty today. Also of course, Jesus gave us the Commandment to love others as He loves us. He instituted the Eucharist and the Priesthood.

Catholic Culture has this to offer:
The last three days of Holy Week are referred to as the Easter or Sacred Triduum (Triduum Sacrum), the three-part drama of Christ's redemption: Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday.

Holy Thursday is also known as "Maundy Thursday." The word maundy comes from the Latin word mandatum (commandment) which is the first word of the Gospel acclamation:

Mandátum novum do vobis dicit Dóminus, ut diligátis ínvicem, sicut diléxi vos:
"I give you a new commandment: Love one another as I have loved you." (John 13:34)
These are the words spoken by our Lord to His apostles at the Last Supper, after he completed the washing of the feet. We should imitate Christ's humility in the washing of the feet.
By meditating on the Gospels (cf. Matt 26:1 ff.; Mark 14:1 ff.; Luke 22:1 ff.; John 13:1 ff.), we can recall to mind Jesus' actions of that day. Father Bernard Strasser summarizes all the events of that first Holy Thursday:

...They included: (1) The eating of the Easter lamb or the paschal meal; (2) The washing of the disciple's feet; (3) The institution of the Most Holy Eucharist (the first Mass at which Jesus Christ, the eternal high priest, is the celebrant; the first Communion of the apostles; the first conferring of Holy Orders); (4) The foretelling of Judas' betrayal and Peter's denials; (5) The farewell discourse and priestly prayer of Jesus; (6) The agony and capture of Jesus in the Garden of Olives. — ©1947, With Christ Through the Year
In all the German speaking countries, Slavic nations and in Hungary this day is also known as "Green Thursday." The word is a corruption of the German word grunen (to mourn) to the German word for green (grün). Many people believe they must eat green at today's meal, which is probably derives from from the Jewish Passover meal that included bitter herbs.

Chrism Mass
There are only two masses allowed on Holy Thursday, the Chrism Mass and the evening Mass of the Lord's Supper. In each diocese there is a Chrism Mass or Mass of the Holy Oils, usually said in the morning at the cathedral of the diocese. Catholics should make an effort to participate at the Mass at least once in their lives, to experience the communion of priests with their bishop. All the priests of the diocese are invited to concelebrate with the bishop. The holy oils to be used throughout the diocese for the following year in the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Orders and the Sacrament of the Sick are blessed by the bishop at this Mass. This Mass also celebrates the institution of the priesthood.
Mass of Lord's Supper
During the evening of Holy Thursday, the Mass of the Lord's Supper is celebrated. It is celebrated in the evening because the Passover began at sundown. There is only one Mass, at which the whole community and priests of the parish participate. This is a very joyful Mass, as we recall the institution of the Holy Eucharist and the priesthood. The priests wear white vestments, the altar is filled with flowers, the Gloria is sung and the bells are rung. After the Gloria, we shall not hear organ music and the bells until the Easter Vigil. The Liturgy of the Mass recalls the Passover, the Last Supper, which includes the Washing of the Feet. The hymn Ubi Caritas or Where Charity and Love Prevail is usually sung at this time. After the Communion Prayer, there is no final blessing. The Holy Eucharist is carried in procession through Church and then transferred into a place of reposition, usually a side chapel. The hymn Pange Lingua is also usually sung at this time.

After the Mass, we recall the Agony in the Garden, and the arrest and imprisonment of Jesus. The altar is stripped bare, crosses are removed or covered. The Eucharist has been placed in an altar of repose, and most churches are open for silent adoration, to answer Christ's invitation "Could you not, then, watch one hour with me?" (Matt 26:40)

The Altar of Repose
When the Eucharist is processed to the altar of repose after the Mass of Lord's Supper, we should remain in quiet prayer and adoration, keeping Christ company. There is a tradition, particularly in big cities with many parishes, to try and visit seven churches and their altar of repose during this evening.

Washing of Feet and a Seder Meal
In imitation of Christ's last supper, many Christians prepare a seder meal or the pasch. Celebrating a paschal meal helps us comprehend the plan of redemption. We see the lamb, cooked whole, with no bones broken, foreshadowing the death of Christ, the Lamb of God. We eat the unleavened bread and recall to mind the Eucharist. We eat the whole meal in prayerful reminder of that Last Supper that Jesus spent with His apostles, His friends, instituting Holy Orders and leaving His greatest gift, the Holy Eucharist.
A typical paschal meal includes the roast lamb, bitter herbs, haroset, matzoh and wine. The meal can be as authentic or representative as desired. There are numerous sources, both Christian and Jewish, that can give recipes, prayers and procedure for an authentic paschal feast.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Pope Benedict reminded the faithful of Jesus' victory over sin and death

Vatican City, Apr 4, 2007 / 09:45 am (CNA).- Pope Benedict XVI gathered today with tens of thousands of pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square on the day before the Church enters its most solemn and holy season. The Holy Father reminded the faithful that what the Holy Triduum celebrates Jesus Christ’s victory over sin and death.

"What we are celebrating over the coming days," he said, "is the supreme confrontation between Light and Darkness, between Life and Death. We too must place ourselves in this context - aware of our own night, our own sins, our own responsibilities - if we wish to gain spiritual benefit from reliving the Paschal Mystery, which is the heart of our faith."

The Holy Father recalled how on Holy Thursday, during the Chrism Mass, diocesan bishops and priests "renew the promises they made on the day of their priestly ordination," and "the oils used for catechumens, to anoint the sick and for confirmation" are blessed. During Mass "in Cena Domini" the Christian community relives "the events of the Last Supper. In the Cencacle, the Redeemer wished, in the Sacrament of the bread and wine transformed into His Body and Blood, to anticipate the sacrifice of His life, His definitive gift of self to humanity."

Read entire story here.

Wednesday of Holy Week

Then one of the twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, "What will you give me if I deliver him to you?" And they paid him thirty pieces of silver. And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray him (Mt 26:14-16).

Wednesday is also known as Spy Wednesday because on this day Judas made a bargain with the high priest to betray Jesus for 30 silver pieces (Matt 26:14-16; Mark 14:10-11; Luke 22:1-6). In Poland, the young people throw an effigy of Judas from the top of a church steeple. Then it is dragged through the village amidst hurling sticks and stones. What remains of the effigy is drowned in nearby stream or pond.

This is also the day that Jesus was anointed with an expensive jar of alabaster by the woman at Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper (Matt 26:6-13; Mark 14:3-9; John 12:1-19).
(from Catholic Culture)

We are healed by His bruises! O heavenly Physician, who takes upon Himself the sufferings of those He comes to cure! But not only was He bruised for our sins; He was also slaughtered as a lamb: and this not merely as a Victim submitting to the inflexible will of His Father who hath laid upon Him the iniquity of us all, but (as the prophet here assures us) because it was His own will. His love for us, as well as His submission to His Father, led Him to the great Sacrifice. Observe, too, how He refuses to defend Himself before Pilate, who could so easily deliver Him from His enemies: He shall be dumb as a lamb before his shearers, and He shall not open His mouth. Let us love and adore this divine silence, which works our salvation. Let us not pass over an iota of the devotedness which Jesus shows us—a devotedness which never could have existed save in the heart of a God. Oh! how much He has loved us, His children, the purchase of His Blood, His seed, as the prophet here calls us. O holy Church! thou long-lived seed of Jesus, who laid down His life, thou art dear to Him, for He bought thee at a great price. Faithful souls! give Him love for love. Sinners! be converted to this your Savior; His Blood will restore you to life, for if we have all gone astray like sheep, remember what is added: The Lord hath laid upon Him the iniquity of us all. There is no sinner, however great may be his crimes, there is no heretic, or infidel, who has not his share in this precious Blood, whose infinite merit is such, that it could redeem a million worlds more guilty even than our own. — The Liturgical Year, Abbot Gueranger O.S.B.
(from Catholic Culture)

(from One Bread, One Body)
Betrayal starts with the little things. A little drop of your guard, a
little taking your eyes off Jesus (e.g. Mt 14:30), accompanied by a lack
of repentance, and soon you break faith with Jesus about a little thing,
such as misuse of money. This is how Judas, who literally followed Jesus
for three years, started on his path to becoming a spy and a betrayer.
Judas was trusted to be the treasurer of the apostles, but started helping
himself to the money (Jn 12:6) and did not repent.

If you can't be trusted in little things, like faithfulness with money,
you can't be trusted in greater things (see Lk 16:10), such as being
faithful to Jesus no matter what. After failing enough little tests, Judas
soon regarded Jesus as a "little thing." Amazingly, Judas sold the Son of
God for the pittance of a month's pay! (Mt 26:15) Some wanted criminals
fetch greater bounties than that!

There's a little Judas in each of us. We all have the potential to use the
benefits of discipleship for selfish purposes. If we start down that path,
we begin changing from a disciple to a "spy" (see Gal 2:4). Then it's only
a "little" step to the act of betraying Jesus.

During Holy Week, Judas looked for opportunities to betray Jesus (Mt
26:16), rather than looking to be discipled by Him. During this Holy Week,
Jesus is asking you: "What are you looking for?" (Jn 1:38). Repent! "Fix
your eyes on Jesus" (Heb 3:1). Don't miss what Jesus wants to do in your
life this week.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

The Fragrance of Pope John Paul II has filled the whole Church, Pope Benedict XVI said

Vatican City, Apr 2, 2007 / 11:00 pm (CNA).- Presiding at a Mass Monday afternoon in St. Peter’s Basilica to commemorate the second anniversary of the death of John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI remarked that “the fragrance of his love has ‘filled the whole house,’ that is, the whole Church.”

"Before the thousands of pilgrims gathered - many of them Polish - along with various Cardinals, Bishops, and others, the Holy Father recalled that this second anniversary of Pope John Paul’s death falls in the midst of Holy Week. The Holy Father noted that today’s Gospel speaks of Mary of Bethany’s anointing of the feet of Jesus with aromatic oils (Jn 12:1-9)."

Check here for the article about yesterday's Mass to commemorate Pope John Paul II.

Tuesday of Holy Week

Tuesday of Holy Week

Today's Gospel is packed with deep meaning. We know that Peter is told by Jesus that he will deny Him three times before the cock crows. We know that Judas is about to betray Jesus. Both will essentially deny Jesus but one will be humble and repentant and one will not. We have much to ponder when meditating on today's Gospel.

Jn 13:21-33, 36-38

Reclining at table with his disciples, Jesus was deeply troubled and testified,
“Amen, amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me.”
The disciples looked at one another, at a loss as to whom he meant.
One of his disciples, the one whom Jesus loved,
was reclining at Jesus’ side.
So Simon Peter nodded to him to find out whom he meant.
He leaned back against Jesus’ chest and said to him,
“Master, who is it?”
Jesus answered,
“It is the one to whom I hand the morsel after I have dipped it.”
So he dipped the morsel and took it and handed it to Judas,
son of Simon the Iscariot.
After Judas took the morsel, Satan entered him.
So Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.”
Now none of those reclining at table realized why he said this to him.
Some thought that since Judas kept the money bag, Jesus had told him,
“Buy what we need for the feast,”
or to give something to the poor.
So Judas took the morsel and left at once. And it was night.

When he had left, Jesus said,
“Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him.
If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself,
and he will glorify him at once.
My children, I will be with you only a little while longer.
You will look for me, and as I told the Jews,
‘Where I go you cannot come,’ so now I say it to you.”

Simon Peter said to him, “Master, where are you going?”
Jesus answered him,
“Where I am going, you cannot follow me now,
though you will follow later.”
Peter said to him,
“Master, why can I not follow you now?
I will lay down my life for you.”
Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me?
Amen, amen, I say to you, the cock will not crow
before you deny me three times.”

Catholc Culture has this to offer us today:

"False witnesses have stood up against me, and my enemies threaten violence; Lord, do not surrender me into their power!" Our Lord calls upon His heavenly Father to shield Him against His enemies. In God's providence, however, the Cross of Christ was destined to be a sign of glory and not an emblem of shame: from that Cross came victory over Satan, from it came life, resurrection and salvation: "It behooves us to glory in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ in whom is our salvation, life and resurrection, by whom we are saved and delivered".

On the Cross Our Lord expiated our avarice by His extreme poverty, our sensuality by His most bitter sufferings, our pride by His profound humiliations, our disobedience by His most perfect submission to the Will of God. Embracing us with His extended arms He draws us into the path which He has trod and which alone leads to life eternal. — Cathedral Daily Missal


Today, again, our Savior sets out in the morning for Jerusalem. His intention is to repair to the temple, and continue His yesterday's teachings. It is evident that His mission on earth is fast drawing to its close. He says to His disciples: "You know that after two days shall be the Pasch, and the Son of Man shall be delivered up to be crucified."
On the road from Bethania to Jerusalem, the disciples are surprised at seeing the fig-tree, which their divine Master had yesterday cursed, now dead. Addressing himself to Jesus, Peter says: "Rabbi, behold, the fig-tree, which Thou didst curse, is withered away." In order to teach us that the whole of material nature is subservient to the Jesus replies: "Have the faith of God. Amen I say to you, that whosoever shall say to this mountain: Be thou removed and cast into the sea! and shall not stagger in his heart, but believe that whatsoever he saith shall be done, it shall be done unto him."

Having entered the city, Jesus directs His steps towards the temple. No sooner has He entered, than the chief priests, the scribes, and the ancients of the people, accost Him with these words: "By what authority dost Thou these things and who has given Thee this authority, that Thou shouldst do these things?" We shall find our Lord's answer given in the Gospel. Our object is to mention the leading events of the last days of our Redeemer on earth; the holy volume will supply the details.

As on the two preceding days, Jesus leaves the city towards evening: He passes over Mount Olivet, and returns to Bethania, where He finds His blessed Mother and His devoted friends. — The Liturgical Year, Abbot Gueranger O.S.B. (from Catholic Culture website)

Monday, April 2, 2007

Pope John Paul the Great: We miss you still!

Dear Pope John Paul II, you like Peter stepped out of the boat in faith and "walked on water" in our world as you shepherded your flock. Thank you for your love for all of us pilgrims. Please continue to light the way for us from your place now in Heaven. Help us to "Be not afraid" as you often told us. We love you our father, brother and friend! We miss you!

Pope Benedict XVI today said at the solemn memorial Mass that Pope John Paul II "died praying." His life was a prayer and so it was fitting that he died with a prayer on his lips. Check here for the official Vatican coverage.

I invite you to visit Heidi and read her beautiful reflection of Pope John Paul II today on the second anniversary of his death. It's hard to believe that two years have passed since our dear Papa's death. However, we feel his presence and know that we can call on him at any time for his powerful intercession.

Monday of Holy Week

Monday of Holy Week

"Here is my servant whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom my soul delights. I have endowed him with my spirit that he may bring true justice to the nations. He does not cry out or shout aloud, or make his voice heard in the streets. He does not break the crushed reed, nor quench the wavering flame (Is 42:1-2)."

Meditation - Mary and Judas
Today the liturgy presents two noteworthy characters who play dissimilar roles in the Lord's passion. One fills us with solace and comfort; the other with uneasiness and wholesome fear. Their juxtaposition produces a powerful effect by way of contrast. The two characters are Mary of Bethany and Judas.
Jesus is in the house of Lazarus, at dinner. Mary approaches, anoints the feet of her Savior for His burial and dries them with her hair. Judas resents her action and resolves upon his evil course. These two persons typify man's relation to Christ. He gives His Body to two types of individuals: to Magdalenes to be anointed, to Judases to be kissed; to good persons who repay Him with love and service, to foes who crucify Him. How movingly this is expressed in the Lesson: "I gave My body to those who beat Me, and My cheeks to those who plucked them. I did not turn away My face from those who cursed and spit upon Me.

The same must hold true of His mystical Body. Down through the ages Christ is enduring an endless round of suffering, giving His body to other Marys for anointing and to other Judases to be kissed, beaten, and mistreated. Augustine explains how we can anoint Christ's body:

Anoint Jesus' feet by a life pleasing to God. Follow in His footsteps; if you have an abundance, give it to the poor. In this way you can wipe the feet of the Lord.
The poor are, as it were, the feet of the mystical Christ. By aiding them we can comfort our Lord in His mystical life, where He receives Judas' kisses on all sides-the sins of Christians.
The Gospel account may be understood in a very personal way. In everyone's heart, in my own too, there dwell two souls: a Judas-soul and a Mary-soul. The former is the cause of Jesus' suffering, it is always ready to apostatize, always ready to give the traitor's kiss. Are you full master over this Judas-soul within you? Your Magdalen-soul is a source of comfort to Christ in His sufferings. May the holy season of Lent, which with God's help we are about to bring to a successful conclusion, bring victory over the Judas-soul and strengthen the Magdalen-soul within our breasts. — The Church's Year of Grace, Pius Parsch

For more, visit Catholic Culture.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

The Legacy of John Paul the Great

Two years ago, on April 2, the Vigil of Divine Mercy Sunday, Pope John Paul II went home to God. In his writings and homilies, Pope John Paul II described Divine Mercy as the answer to the world's problems and the message of the third millennium. The following is an excerpt from the definitive edition of John Paul II: The Great Mercy Pope, (Marian Press, 2006), by Fr. George Kosicki, CSB — a book that describes how the message of Divine Mercy shaped the pontificate of John Paul II:

Among the many legacies of John Paul II, his legacy of Divine Mercy stands out as exceptional. Among the two dozen marvelous legacies of John Paul II which I have read about, only in the legacies of Divine Mercy and in the apostolic letter At the Beginning of the New Millennium (January 6, 2001) where he gives the prayer "contemplate the face of Jesus with Mary" does he specifically say that he is passing them on to the whole world as the message and prayer for the Third Millennium:

At the canonization of St. Faustina, John Paul II said in his homily:

Sister Faustina's canonization has a particular eloquence. By this act I intend today to pass this message on to the new millennium. I pass it on to all people, so that they will learn to know even better the true face of God and the true face of their brethren (Homily of Canonization, Divine Mercy Sunday, April 20, 2000).

A year later another expression of John Paul II's legacy of Divine Mercy was given at his Regina Caeli talk, following the Mass of Divine Mercy Sunday (April 22, 2001) honoring the anniversary of the canonization of St. Faustina. Again, he passes on this message of hope to the third millennium:

Filled with joy we present ourselves before the Risen One today and say with faith: "Jesus, I trust in You!" May this confession full of love strengthen everyone on the path of daily life and encourage them to undertake works of mercy for their brothers and sisters. May this be a message of hope for the entire new millennium.

The Pope then challenges us to collaborate with the plan of Divine Mercy for the whole world:

See continuation of article here.

Mercy Novena: Day Three

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.

Palm Sunday of the Lord's Passion

Palm Sunday of the Lord's Passion

So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying, "Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!" And Jesus found a young ass and sat upon it; as it is written, "Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your king is coming, sitting on an ass's colt (Jn 12:13-15)!"

Today we commemorate Christ's entry into Jerusalem for the completion of the Paschal Mystery. In the old calendar before Vatican II, the Church celebrated Passion Sunday two Sundays before Easter, and then Palm Sunday was the beginning of Holy Week. The Church has combined the two to reinforce the solemnity of Holy Week.

The Palm Sunday procession is formed of Christians who, in the "fullness of faith," make their own the gesture of the Jews and endow it with its full significance. Following the Jews' example we proclaim Christ as a Victor... Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord. But by our faith we know, as they did not, all that His triumph stands for. He is the Messiah, the Son of David and the Son of God. He is the sign of contradiction, acclaimed by some and reviled by others. Sent into this world to wrest us from sin and the power of Satan, He underwent His Passion, the punishment for our sins, but issues forth triumphant from the tomb, the victor over death, making our peace with God and taking us with Him into the kingdom of His Father in heaven.

Blessed Palms in the Home

The procession at Mass with the palms was a public display of homage and loyalty to Christ our King and Redeemer. Christ is the King of our home, so we should incorporate the blessed palms and a family prayer service as part of this day.

Palm trees aren't readily available in some vicinities, there are other plants like olive branches, box, yew, spruce, willows and pussy-willows that are blessed and used the same way as palms for Passion Sunday.

Reverence for Blessed Palms
Because the palms are blessed, they are now sacramentals, which "are sacred signs instituted by the Church. They prepare [us] to receive the fruit of the sacraments and sanctify different circumstances of life" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1667). Sacramentals should be treated with respect and never be thrown away. Palms may only be burned or buried.

Palm Crosses
Family members can gather the palms from Mass and make little palm crosses, one for each member of the family and one for each room in the house. There are a variety of ways to make the cross. The simplest is to take two small pieces, one a little longer than the other, crisscross the pieces in shape of a cross and staple at the middle. Another way is to make two small slits near the top (where the crossbeam would be) in the longer piece of palm and slide the cross beam through the slits. This could be a challenging project for the family members to try various methods.
Each person is given a palm cross to wear on their coats or clothing throughout Holy Week, to remind us to carry our cross patiently so we may share Christ's Easter glory.

Prayer Service
The family then gathers together. The father reads the account of the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem (from the Gospel of Mark 11:1-10 or Matt 21:1-11 or John 12:12-16 or Luke 19:28-40). Then the mother, with a lighted candle, leads the procession through all the rooms of the house. All sing the hymn All Glory, Laud and Honor and place a palm cross either above the door in each room, or behind the crucifix.

Palm Weaving

Palm Weaving is a tradition found in many countries, such as Italy, Philippines, and Poland. Here are some links for instructions, from the simple cross to the elaborate flowers.

Check here for an excellent and step by step article about Palm Weaving.