Monday, August 31, 2009

Pope Benedict and St. Monica

Castel Gandolfo, Italy, Aug 30, 2009 / 11:14 am (CNA).- At Sunday’s Angelus prayer in the courtyard of Castel Gandolfo’s apostolic palace, Pope Benedict XVI recalled the previous week’s liturgical memorial of St. Monica, mother of St. Augustine of Hippo and model and patron of Christian mothers.

“Much is recounted about her in her son’s autobiography ‘The Confessions,’ a masterpiece among the most read works of all time,” Pope Benedict said. “There, we understand that St. Augustine imbibed the name of Jesus with maternal milk and was educated in the Christian religion by his mother, the principles of which remained impressed on him even in the years of spiritual and moral wavering.”

Monica, Benedict XVI explained, never stopped praying for her son and his conversion and she had the consolation of seeing him return to the faith and receiving baptism. The Pope added, “God heard the prayers of this holy mother, to whom the Bishop of Tagaste said: ‘It is impossible that a child of so many tears should go lost.’ In truth, St. Augustine does not only convert, but decides to embrace the monastic life and back in Africa, and himself establishes a community of monks.”

“The final spiritual conversations between him and his mother in the quiet of a house in Ostia, in anticipation of departure for Africa, are moving and edifying,” the Holy Father explained. “By then St. Monica had become for this her child ‘more than a mother, the source of his Christianity.’ Her lone desire had been for years the conversion of Augustine, who then was positively oriented toward a life of consecration to God’s service.”

She could only die content, the Pontiff said, on August 27, 387, 56 years old, after having asked her children to not worry about her burial, but to remember her, where ever they were, at the altar of the Lord. St. Augustine repeated that his mother had “twice given birth” to him.

Pope Benedict continued: “The history of Christendom has numerous examples of holy parents and authentic Christian families, who accompanied the life of generous priests and pastors of the Church.”
He recounted Sts. Basil the Great and Gregory Nazianen, who both came from families of saints, and spouses Luigi Beltrame Quattrocchi and Maria Corsini, who lived from the end of the nineteenth century to the middle of the twentieth century and were beatified by Pope John Paul II in October 2001 on the twentieth anniversary of his Apostolic Exhortation “Familiaris consortio.”

“This document,” the Pope expounded, “in addition to illustrating the value of marriage and the responsibilities of the family, calls spouses to a particular task on the way of holiness that, drawing grace and strength from the Sacrament of Matrimony, they follow their entire life.”

“When spouses dedicate themselves generously to the education of children, guiding them and orienting them to discover the design of God’s love, they prepare that fertile spiritual terrain where vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life spring and mature.

Pope Benedict concluded his Angelus message by asking the faithful to seek the intercession of St. John Mary Vianney and the Blessed Virgin Mary in this Year for Priests.
Addressing English-speaking pilgrims and visitors after the Angelus, he singled out the first year seminarians from the Pontifical North American College.
“May your time here at Castel Gandolfo and in Rome deepen your integral understanding of our faith and strengthen in you the desire to be consistent in word and deed, following the heart and mind of our Lord. Upon each of you present and your families, I invoke God’s blessing of peace and joy!”

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Senator Ted Kennedy's advocasy for abortion

From Fr. James's blog:

"HYANNIS PORT, Massachusetts, August 28, 2009 ( - The public Catholic funeral of Senator Ted Kennedy - whose long career of abortion advocacy helped sever the American Catholic identity from the Church's pro-life teaching - will be a source of immense scandal, says Human Life International (HLI) president Fr. Tom Euteneuer. In addition, he said, Obama's scheduled eulogy at the event amounts to a "perfect absolution" whitewashing Kennedy's opposition to Catholic moral teaching.

A funeral mass has been scheduled for Saturday morning at the Boston Archdiocese's Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, following the Senator's death Tuesday night after a battle with brain cancer.

Kennedy is well-known for dissenting from Catholic Church teaching in the latter decades of his public life, advocating unrestricted abortion as well as embryonic stem-cell research and same-sex "marriage."

"Ted Kennedy's positions on a variety of issues have been a grave scandal for decades, and to honor this 'Catholic' champion of the culture of death with a Catholic funeral is unjust to those who have actually paid the price of fidelity," said Fr. Euteneuer in a statement Thursday. He continued, "There was very little about Ted Kennedy’s life that deserves admiration from a spiritual or moral point of view. He was probably the worst example of a Catholic statesman that one can think of. When all is said and done, he has distorted the concept of what it means to be a Catholic in public life more than anyone else in leadership today." "It is not enough for Kennedy to have been a 'great guy behind the scenes' as we have seen him referred to even by his political opponents.".

Euteneuer faulted Kennedy for putting "a Catholic rhetorical veneer" on liberal politics that "did nothing to advance true justice as the Church sees it or to advance the peace of Christ in this world."

"He will not be missed by the unborn who he betrayed time and time again, nor by the rest of us who are laboring to undo the scandalous example of Catholicism that he gave to three generations of Americans."

Euteneuer told (LSN) in a Thursday interview that the best course of action for the Boston Archdiocese's Cardinal Sean O'Malley would be "Private funeral, family only - period."

While O'Malley issued a statement this week praising the senator's "commitment to public service" and offering his prayers, he has not directly commented on the funeral plans.'s phone and email requests for comment from the Boston Archdiocese were not answered.

Euteneuer noted that "we don't really know" if Kennedy repented of his public position before death. "So just because he received the sacrament of reconciliation, doesn't mean he was actually reconciled with the Church and with God," he said. "We just don't know that. We hope for it."
However, said Euteneuer: "We know that Sen. Kennedy did not repent publicly, therefore any kind of public funeral or appearance by public figures like President Obama only reinforces the scandal. It does not do anything to undo the damage that Sen. Kennedy has done."
Pro-life leaders, including HLI and the American Life League, were dismayed that President Obama is scheduled to deliver a eulogy at Kennedy's funeral Mass. Obama and Kennedy have been close allies ever since Kennedy threw his weight..." (Continued here)

Friday, August 28, 2009

Monday, August 24, 2009

Fr. James's Sunday Homily

"Throughout the past few weeks, the Catholic Sunday liturgy has presented us an opportunity to meditate upon the mystery of the Eucharist. Each week we have heard, verse by verse, the proclamation of chapter six of the Gospel of St. John. The entire chapter of John's Gospel is a catechesis on the Eucharist.

Chapter six is divided into three parts: the miracle of the loaves and fishes (verses 1-15); the walking on the water (verses 16-21); the discourse in the synagogue at Capernaum (verses 22-71). The two miracles that precede Jesus' discourse are essential to a correct understanding of the discourse on the Eucharist.

The two miracles illustrate that Jesus is truly God. Because of his divine nature, he can multiply the loaves and the fishes, and he can walk on water. These two miracles testify to the fact that as God, he can do as he pleases with physical reality.

The point made here is very clear. If Jesus can intervene within these physical realities, he can also change bread and wine into his own body and blood.

Those who heard Jesus' discourse on the Eucharist understood exactly what he was saying. For this reason they rejected his teaching. "As a result of this, many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him” (John 6: 66).

It is true that during the Middle Ages, the Catholic Church adopted the term, "transubstantiation" from the highly advanced philosophical and theological thought of the time. However, this does not mean that the Church did not believe in transubstantiation until this particular moment in time.

As I have been explaining for the past weeks, transubstantiation means "change of substance", or "change of reality." When the priest repeats the words that Jesus spoke at the Last Supper, the bread is no longer bread, and the wine is no longer wine. Instead, the entire substance of the bread and the entire substance of the wine have been changed into the substance of The Body and Blood of Christ.

Transubstantiation occurs only by the power of God, and in a way that we cannot empirically detect. We know that transubstantiation takes place through the certainty of faith. Jesus, the Son of God; Jesus the Messiah; Jesus the Lord and Savior of the universe said: "This is my body"; "This is my blood". Faith is a vision superior to reason, but it does not contradict reason, precisely because faith relies upon the authority of God who does not deceive, nor can be deceived. Jesus is the truth and He cannot lie. "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life" (John 14: 6).

When it comes to the Eucharist, the bottom line is this: either Jesus Christ is true God and true Man, the Incarnate Word of God, or he is a complete and total lunatic. Either the Catholic Church possesses the greatest gift known to humanity, or we are idol worshippers.

"Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink" (John 6: 52-55).

There is no doubt that Jesus was not speaking symbolically. "I am the living bread which has come down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live for ever; and the bread that I shall give is my flesh for the life of the world” (John 6: 51).

Personally, I have never doubted. However, I think that aside from the volumes of beautiful theology and spirituality that have been written about the Eucharist, and even aside from the countless number of our brothers and sisters, who throughout the centuries, have shed their blood to defend the Eucharist, my favorite proof of the Eucharist is contained in this Sunday's Gospel reading.

Had Jesus been telling his disciples that the Eucharist was merely a symbol of his presence among us, he would have begun calling after them, asking that they return even as they were departing from his company. He would have attempted to explain his words to them and to assure them that they must have misunderstood him. Instead, what did he do? He stood firm and watched them leave.

Then with majesty and self-dominion he turned to his Apostles and asked an amazing question: "Will you also go away?" (John 6: 67). Without hesitation, Peter, the first Pope of the Catholic Church, pronounced some of the most powerful words of the Bible: "Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God" (John 6: 68-69).

The real difficulty of Catholicism is two-fold. Catholicism demands an act of total surrender to Jesus, the Lord and Savior of the universe, with a complete acceptance of him as the final authority; and Catholicism also demands a moral standard of the highest level. The difficulty for the first disciples and for many of his disciples today, is to accept the Eucharist as true, with all its implications. Many refuse Christ, not because he puzzles the intellect, but because he challenges our lives.

Every Sunday or even during the week, we worship at our parishes and receive the gift of the Eucharist without even considering the thousands upon thousands of our brothers and sisters who throughout the history of the Catholic Church have given their lives precisely to defend what we do without any obstacles at all. Here is one story that is very moving and happened not to far from our own country.

During 1920’s there was a brutal persecution against the Catholic Church throughout Mexico. Churches were closed and the land was drenched with the blood of thousands of martyrs made up of priests, religious and lay people. The persecution went on for the next two decades and even to this day, there are many vestiges of a pervasive anti-catholic mentality.

One group of ladies, among many examples of heroism that were prevalent throughout Mexico, showed their love for their parish priest one day in 1934.

Maria de la Luz Camacho, an attractive twenty-seven year old woman was standing by the front doors of her parish church of Coyoacan, Mexico. Maria stood led a group of young women to guard the church because she had learned that a large group of men from the anti-Catholic Red Syndicate had planned to burn down the church, and carry the priest off to jail and kill him.

When the group of revolutionaries arrived at the parish church, Maria, her sister, and a small group of valiant young women stood at the doors of the church. “We are not afraid. If it becomes necessary, we are ready to die for Christ the King”, cried out Maria. “Those who wish to enter this church must first pass over my body”. Shortly after the initial confrontation, the Red Shirts opened fire and Maria de la Luz Camacho was killed.

Word spread quickly about her martyrdom. 30,000 people assembled in the small town..." (Continued here)

Friday, August 21, 2009

Teresa Tomeo's weekly "NOISE" feature on EWTN TV

All Next Week: Don’t Miss ‘Noise’: An EWTN Original Production

"Are you sick of much of the secular media and its biased agenda, but feeling helpless about how you and your family can respond? Then tune into our new series, “Noise” with EWTN Favorite Teresa Tomeo.

Each weekday evening next week at 6:30 p.m. ET, watch Media Expert Teresa Tomeo as she presents a highly entertaining series on Catholicism and the media.

Monday, she looks at the problems created by the negative media saturation of our culture; Tuesday, she considers the cultural problems created by the saturation of violent imagery in the media; Wednesday, she looks at what the Church teaches about the proper use of the media; Thursday, she looks at how the media can be used as a tool for evangelization; and Friday, she sums it all up by giving us ways we can combat negative media saturation and make a positive difference! Each 30-minute episode will also air at 3 a.m.

Help spread Goodness and Truth in the world by taping this program and showing it to your friends or in your parish.

The series is based on Teresa Tomeo’s book by the same name. To purchase a copy, go to: And tune into EWTN Radio Network every weekday morning at 9 a.m. ET to hear Teresa Tomeo on 'Catholic Connection.'"
(Taken from EWTN release)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

On the subject of purity...

The subject of purity has been popping up a lot lately, so I thought I'd share this marvelous post I came across. Also, be sure to check out an upcoming blog post at my blog, "View From the Domestic Church" (later today or tomorrow) because I'll be featuring something on purity in the Catholic classrooms or lack thereof. But first, take a look here:

The Purity of Mary

"Lately I have had any number of discussions with various friends and acquaintances about whether the Blessed Virgin Mary struggled with the concupiscence of the flesh..." ( Continued here at Tea at Trianon)

Planned Parenthood and U.S. Catholic Bishops

Washington D.C., Aug 20, 2009 / 06:19 am (CNA).- Cecile Richards, President of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, has criticized the U.S. Catholic bishops’ work to exclude abortion coverage from health care legislation. In response, an official with the conference insisted that taking human life is not health care and warned that pro-abortion politics are endangering the entire proposal.

Writing in an August 18 opinion piece at the Huffington Post, Cecile Richards characterized the bishops’ desire to exclude abortion coverage from health care reform as one that denies “comprehensive reproductive care” which she claimed to be supported by the majority of Americans.

She also argued that the Catholic position was an ongoing effort to eliminate... (Continued at Catholic News Agency here)

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Sunday Homily from Fr. James

"True parents would never be content to be simply bringing children into the world. They would want to do everything possible to nourish and educate their children. In the same way, we must understand that for the good of our spiritual life, like these true parents we must do everything possible to nourish our souls. Thus frequent reception of the Eucharist is necessary if we are to participate in the life of grace that begins at Baptism.

"Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink" (John 6: 52-55).

The readings for this Sunday taken from the Book of Proverbs and from St. Paul's letter to the Ephesians urge us to put into practice precisely what Our Lord Jesus Christ has instructed us to do. If we fail to listen, if we choose to reject His teachings, we will prove ourselves both foolish and ignorant. "Forsake foolishness that you may live" (Book of Proverbs 9: 6). "Watch carefully how you live, not as foolish persons but as wise, making the most of the opportunity because the days are evil. Therefore, do not continue in ignorance, but try to understand what is the will of the Lord" (Ephesians 5: 15-16)." ( Continued here)

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Words of wisdom...

St. Josemaria Escriva sure knew what he was talking about...

"You're not humbled when you humble yourself, but when you are humbled by others and you bear it for Christ."

~St. Josemaria Escriva

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Strong meteor showers tonight!

(Aug. 11) - The annual Perseid meteor shower is expected to put on a good show this week for those willing to get up in the wee hours of the morning and wait patiently for the shooting stars.

In North America, the best time to watch will be between midnight to 5 a.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 12, but late Tuesday night and also Wednesday night could prove fruitful, weather permitting.

The Perseids, most of them no bigger than a pea, shoot through Earth's atmosphere every year in late July and early August. Here the shower is seen on August 12, 2008.

The Perseids are always reliable, and sometimes rather spectacular. The only things that puts a damper on the August show are bad weather or bright moonlight. Unfortunately this week, as the Perseids reach their peak Tuesday and Wednesday nights, the moon will be high in the sky, outshining the fainter meteors.
Still, skywatchers around the globe will have a good chance of spotting the brighter meteors. Some already are enjoying the show.

The Perseids are bits of debris from Comet Swift-Tuttle, which has laid down several streams of debris, each in a slightly different location, over the centuries as it orbits the sun. Every August, Earth passes through these debris streams, which spread out over time... (Continued here)

Monday, August 10, 2009

Pope Benedict recalled some saints of memory...

Castel Gandolfo, Italy, Aug 9, 2009 / 10:35 am (CNA).- Before the recitation of Sunday’s Angelus prayer at Castel Gandolfo, Pope Benedict XVI recalled some saints whose memory will be celebrated by the Church in the upcoming weeks. He said that St. Edith Stein, St. Maximilian Kolbe, St. Pontian, St. Lawrence, are witnesses to "Christian humanism," differing greatly from "atheistic humanism."

"What wonderful models of holiness, the Church proposes to us! These saints are witnesses to that love that loves ‘to the end,’ and ignores the evil received, but fights it with the good," Pope Benedict explained. "From them we can learn, especially we priests, the evangelical heroism that inspires us, without fear, to give our life for the salvation of souls. Love conquers death!"

St. Edith Stein and St. Maximilian Kolbe will celebrate their feast days this week. Both died at Auschwitz in the 1940s...( Continued here)

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

St. John Vianney

From Fr. James's blog...

"Pope Benedict has declared a special Year for Priests. Here is a sermon from St. John Vianney, the patron saint of Catholic priests.

My children, we have come to the Sacrament of Orders. It is a Sacrament which seems to relate to no one among you, and which yet relates to everyone. This Sacrament raises man up to God.

What is a priest! A man who holds the place of God -- a man who is invested with all the powers of God. "Go, " said Our Lord to the priest; "as My Father sent Me, I send you. All power has been given Me in Heaven and on earth. Go then, teach all nations. . . . He who listens to you, listens to Me; he who despises you despises Me. "

When the priest remits sins, he does not say, "God pardons you"; he says, "I absolve you. " At the Consecration, he does not say, "This is the Body of Our Lord;" he says, "This is My Body. "

Saint Bernard tells us that everything has come to us through Mary; and we may also say that everything has come to us through the priest; yes, all happiness, all graces, all heavenly gifts. If we had not the Sacrament of Orders, we should not have Our Lord. Who placed Him there, in that tabernacle? It was the priest. Who was it that received your soul, on its entrance into life? The priest. Who nourishes it, to give it strength to make its pilgrimage? The priest. Who will prepare it to appear before God, by washing that soul, for the last time, in the blood of Jesus Christ? The priest -- always the priest. And if that soul comes to the point of death, who will raise it up, who will restore it to calmness and peace? Again the priest. You cannot recall one single blessing from God without finding, side by side with this recollection, the image of the priest.

Go to confession to the Blessed Virgin, or to an angel; will they absolve you? No. Will they give you the Body and Blood of Our Lord? No. The Holy Virgin cannot make her Divine Son descend into the Host. You might have two hundred angels there, but they could not absolve you. A priest, however simple he may be, can do it; he can say to you, "Go in peace; I pardon you. " Oh, how great is a priest!

The priest will not understand the greatness of his office till he is in Heaven. If he understood it on earth, he would die, not of fear, but of love. The other benefits of God would be of no avail to us without the priest..." (Continued here.)

Monday, August 3, 2009

Angels of God

"You’re going to want this book on your bookshelf or night table. Angels of God: The Bible, the Church and the Heavenly Hosts is a wonderful inspirational book, which draws us deeper into the fascinating lives of angels..." Check out my review for Angels of God over at Catholic Exchange today.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

"I am the Bread of Life..".

From Fr. James Fargaglia...

“I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst” (John 6: 35).

Last week we began our consideration of the 6th chapter of the Gospel of John. The entire chapter is a catechesis on the awesome mystery of the Eucharist.

The first part (verses 1-21) consists of two miracles. The second part (verses 22-71) contains the body of teaching on the Eucharist. The miracles are an important introduction to the teaching. John the Evangelist is focusing in on the divinity of Jesus. Only God can perform miracles. If Jesus can multiply the loaves and the fishes; if Jesus can walk on the water, he can also change bread and wine into himself.

As we journey through chapter 6 of John’s Gospel, we need to be crystal clear what we mean by transubstantiation and real presence. Let us quickly review what we discussed last Sunday.

Transubstantiation means "change of substance", or "change of reality." When the priest repeats the words that Jesus spoken at the Last Supper, the bread is no longer bread, and the wine is no longer wine. Instead, the entire substance of the bread and the entire substance of the wine have been changed into the substance of The Body and Blood of Christ. Transubstantiation occurs only by the power of God, and in a way that we cannot empirically detect. We know that transubstantiation takes place through the certainty of faith. Jesus, the Son of God; Jesus the Messiah; Jesus the Lord and Savior of the universe said: "This is my body"; "This is my blood". Faith is a vision superior to reason, but it does not contradict reason, precisely because faith relies upon the authority of God who does not deceive, nor can be deceived. Jesus is the truth and thus is incapable of lying.

Real presence refers to the presence of our Eucharistic Lord. We read the following in the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

“The mode of Christ’s presence under the Eucharistic species is unique. It raises the Eucharist above all the sacraments as the perfection of the spiritual life and the end to which all the sacraments tend. In the most blessed sacrament of the Eucharist the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ and, therefore, the whole Christ is truly, really and substantially contained. This presence is called real – by which is not intended to exclude the other types of presence as if they could not be real too, but because it is presence in the fullest sense: that is to say, it is a substantial presence by which Christ, God and man, makes himself wholly and entirely present” (Catechism of the Catholic Church #1374).

Now, that we have reviewed the essential points from last week’s Sunday homily, let’s turn our thoughts to the Catholic priesthood. There is an old saying that affirms: without the priest there is no Eucharist and without the Eucharist there is no priest... Continued here)