28 June 2009


28 JUNE 2009. Today the Church celebrates Sunday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time.

Entrance Antiphon.--
(Ps 46: 2)
Omnes gentes, plaudite manibus, iubilate. Deo in voce exsultationis.
All nations, clap your hands. Shout with a voice of joy to God.

Opening Prayer.--
you call your children
to walk in the light of Christ.
Free us from darkness
and keep us in the radiance of your truth.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

First Reading.--
(Wis 1: 13-15; 2: 23-24)
A reading from the Book of Wisdom
God did not make death, nor does he rejoice in the destruction of the living. For he fashioned all things that they might have being; and the creatures of the world are wholesome, and there is not a destructive drug among them nor any domain of the netherworld on earth, for justice is undying. For God formed man to be imperishable; the image of his own nature he made him. But by the envy of the devil, death entered the world, and they who belong to his company experience it.

Second Reading.--
(2 Cor 8: 7, 9, 13-15)
A reading from the second Letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians
Brothers and Sisters: As you excel in every respect, in faith, discourse, knowledge, all earnestness, and in the love we have for you, may you excel in this gracious act also.

For you know the gracious act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, for your sake he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich. Not that others should have relief while you are burdened, but that as a matter of equality your abundance at the present time should supply their needs, so that their abundance may also supply your needs, that there may be equality. As it is written: Whoever had much did not have more, and whoever had little did not have less.

(Mk 5: 21-43)
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Mark
When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a large crowd gathered around him, and he stayed close to the sea. One of the synagogue officials, named Jairus, came forward. Seeing him he fell at his feet and pleaded earnestly with him, saying, "My Daughter is at the point of death. Please, come lay your hands on her that she may get well and live." He went off with him, and a large crowd followed him and pressed upon him.

There was a woman afflicted with hemorrhages for twelve years. She had suffered greatly at the hands of many doctors and had spent all she had. Yet she was not helped but only grew worse. She had heard about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak. She said, "If I but touch his clothes, I shall be cured." Immediately her flow of blood dried up. She felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction. Jesus, aware at once that power had gone out from him, turned around in the crowd and asked, "Who has touched my clothes?" But his disciples said to Jesus, "You see how the crowd is pressing upon you, and yet you ask, 'Who touched me?'" And he looked around to see who had done it. The woman, realizing what had happened to her, approached in fear and trembling. She fell down before Jesus and told him the whole truth. He said to her, "Daughter, your faith has saved you. Go in peace and be cured of your affliction."

While he was still speaking, people from the synagogue official's house arrived and said, "Your daughter has died; why trouble the teacher any longer?" Disregarding the message that was reported, Jesus said the synagogue official, "Do not be afraid; just have faith." He did not allow anyone to accompany him inside except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James. When they arrived at the house of the synagogue official, he caught sight of a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. So he went in and said to them, "Why this commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but asleep." And they ridiculed him. Then he put them all out. He took along the child's father and mother and those who were with him and entered the room where the child was. He took the child by the hand and said to her, Talitha koum, which means, "Little girl, I say to you, arise!" The girl, a child of twelve, arose immediately and walked around. At that they were utterly astounded. He gave strict orders that no one should know this and said that she should be given something to eat.

Communion Antiphon.-- (Ps 102: 1)
Benedic, anima mea, Domino, et ea quae intra me sunt nomini sancto.
O, bless the Lord, my soul, and all that is within me bless his holy name.

27 June 2009

Prayer to Our Lady of Guadalupe

Our Lady of Guadalupe, mystical rose,
intercede for the Church, protect the Holy Father,
help all who invoke You in their necessities.
Since You are the ever Virgin Mary
and Mother of the True God,
obtain for us from Your Most Holy Son
the grace of a firm and sure hope
amid bitterness of life,
as well as an ardent love and
the precious gift of final perseverance.

Dearest Lady, fruitful Mother of Holiness,
teach me Your ways of gentleness and strength.
Hear my prayer, offered with deep felt confidence
to beg this favor.

O Mary, conceived without sin, I come to your throne of grace
to share the fervent devotion of your faithful Mexican children
who call to Thee under the glorious title "Guadalupe" - the Virgin
who crushed the serpent.

Queen of Martyrs, whose Immaculate Heart was pierced
by seven swords of grief, help me to walk valiantly
amid the sharp thorns strewn across my path.
Invoke the Holy Spirit of Wisdom
to fortify my will to frequent the Sacraments
so that, thus enlightened and strengthened,
I may prefer God to all creatures
and shun every ocassion of sin.

Help me, as a living branch of the Vine
that is Jesus Christ,
to exemplify His divine charity
always seeking the good of others.
Queen of apostles, aid me to win souls
for the Sacred Heart of my Savior.
Keep my apostolate fearless, dynamic,
and articulate, to proclaim the loving solitude
of Our Father in Heaven so that the wayward
may heed His pleading and obtain pardon,
through the merits of Your merciful Son,
Our Lord Jesus Christ.


24 June 2009

Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist

Saint John the Baptist, watercolor by Theophanis Strelitzas (1545-46)

24 JUNE 2009. Today is the Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist. While the feast day of most saints is celebrated on the date of the saint's death, Saint John the Baptist and the Virgin Mary, Our Mother, get an additional day in celebration of their earthly births.

Saint John the Baptist was the last and greatest prophet, sent by God the Father to herald the coming of Christ the Messiah. In the eastern Catholic rites, Saint John the Baptist is referred to as Saint John the Forerunner, depicting the role of John in salvation history.

You might notice that the Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist occurs six months before Christmas (December 25) and three months after the Annunciation on March 25. The Nativity of Saint John the Baptist was first celebrated as a part of the Church's calendar in the region of Agde (in Southern France) and was listed as a celebration of the Church by the Council of Agde in 506.

Following the Archangel Gabriel's visit to Mary (the Annunciation), Mary traveled to visit Elizabeth, who was six months pregnant with Saint John the Baptist (Luke 1:36). At the sound of Mary's greeting, the baby lept in Elizabeth's womb (Luke 1:41-42)--the first prophecy of Saint John the Baptist which is commemorated, in part, in the Angelic Salutation:

Hail Mary, full of grace,
blessed art though amongst women,

and blessed is the fruit of thy womb,

Holy Mary, mother of God,

pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death.


My thoughts of Mary's visit with Elizabeth and Elizabeth's greeting always turn warmly to the joy with which Elizabeth and her unborn Child greeted Mary and Our Savior. The joy of Elizabeth is evident in her words:
When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the holy Spirit,cried out in a loud voice and said, "Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
(Luke 41-43) The joy of Saint John the Baptist, however, is evident only in his action--leaping in his mother's womb at the greeting of Our Holy Mother and the Messiah. Where John is silent, he still speaks of the joy of the presence of Christ in his actions.

May we too pray to live--to act--with the same joy for the presence of Christ in our lives that was modeled for us by Saint John the Baptist!

23 June 2009

Saint Thomas More

22 JUNE 2009. (I apologize for the delay.) Yesterday was the optional memorial of St. Thomas More, an English martyr, who is the patron saint of lawyers. My law practice is quite busy this week, so I offer below a few of my more favorite images of the St. Thomas More.

The traditional portrait.

St. Thomas More saying goodbye to his daughter.

22 June 2009

Litany of Humility

I have heard it said: pride is the root of all sin. For those, like me, who need to constantly keep in check our own pride, this Litany of Humility is a prayer that brings you to the Heart of Christ, the One who truly humbled Himself for all of us--for me.

Litany of Humility
By Rafeael Cardinal Merry del Val

O Jesus! Meek and humble of heart,
Hear me.

From the Desire of being esteemed,
Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being loved,
Deliver me Jesus.
From the desire of being extolled,
Deliver me Jesus.
From the desire of being honored,
Deliver me Jesus.
From the desire of being praised,
Deliver me Jesus.
From the desire of being preferred to others,
Deliver me Jesus.
From the desire of being consulted,
Deliver me Jesus.
From the desire of being approved,
Deliver me Jesus.
From the fear of being humiliated,
Deliver me Jesus.
From the fear of being despised,
Deliver me Jesus.
From the fear of suffering rebukes,
Deliver me Jesus.
From the fear of being calumniated,
Deliver me Jesus.
From the fear of being forgotten,
Deliver me Jesus.
Fromt the fear of being ridiculed,
Deliver me Jesus.
From the fear of being wronged,
Deliver me Jesus.
From the fear of being suspected,
Deliver me Jesus.

That others may be loved more than I,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be esteemed more than I,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That, in the opinion of the world,
others may increase and I may decrease,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be chosen and I set aside,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be praised and I unnoticed,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be preferred to me in everything,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may become holier than I,
provided that I may become
as holy as I should,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

21 June 2009


21 JUNE 2009. Today is the twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time. Below are today's readings and a reflection on today's mass.

Entrance Antiphon.--
God is the strength of his people. In him, we his chosen live in safety. Save us, Lord, who share in your life, and give us your blessing; be our shepherd for ever.

Opening Prayer.--
guider and protector of your people,
grant us an unfailing respect for your name,
and keep us always in your love.
Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

First Reading.--
(Jb 38: 1, 8-11)
A Reading from the Book of Job

The LORD addressed Job out of the storm and said: Who shut within doors the sea, when it burst forth from the womb; when I made the clouds its garment and thick darkness its swaddling bands? When I set limits for it and fastened the bar of its door, and said: Thus far shall you come but no father, and here shall your proud waves be stilled!

Second Reading.--
(2 Cor 5: 14-17)
A reading from the second Letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians

Brothers and sisters: The Love of Christ impels us, once we have come to the conviction that one died for all; therefore, all have died. He indeed died for all, so that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.

Consequently, from now on we regard no one according to the flesh; even if we once knew Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know him so no longer. So whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come.

(Mk 4: 35-41)
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Mark

On that day, as evening drew on, Jesus said to his disciples:

"Let us cross to the other side." Leaving the crowd, they took Jesus with them in the board just as he was. And other boats were with him. A violent squall came up and waves were breaking over the boat, so that it was already filling up. Jesus was in the stern, asleep on a cushion. They woke him and said to him, "Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?" He woke up, rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, "Quiet! Be still!" The wind ceased and there was great calm. Then he asked them, "Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?" They were filled with great awe and said to one another, "Who then is this whom even the wind and sea obey?"

Communion Antiphon.--

The eyes of all look to you, O Lord, and you give them food in due season.


The Twelfth Sunday of Ordinary Time.

This is no ordinary time. The description of this part of the liturgical year is deceiving to the ear, but it is indeed an extraordinary time of grace. Society around us has left Easter behind. Lent is a faded photograph now forgotten. Yet, Advent and Christmas are still too far off to prepare for. So, what do we do? We busy ourselves with our everyday concerns. God—the Church—may be forgotten by some in this season, but it is an extraordinary gift to continue our journey with the Church through this Ordinary Time. In a sense, this is for us the most pilgrim journey of all; probably the smallest number of us are journeying with the Church in this season. Yet, the life of the Church moves on. Saints are celebrated each week, and each Gospel reading brings us more fully alive in Christ.

Today we hear a threefold message: the Lord is our strength and our Shepherd, what we cannot accomplish for ourselves, the Lord does for us; Christ has died for all so that none need ever die again, conquering death once and forever; and we are to be in humble awe of God because all are destined to live with Him, and be fully satisfied.

The entrance antiphon for today’s mass begins: “God is the strength of his people. In him, we his chosen live in safety.” God is indeed our strength. His grace preserves us and by the power of the Holy Spirit and His Love are we perpetuated day-to-day. Our lives are carried onward by Him. To rely on our own strength is folly. We have no strength without the strength of His love. And, then, we are reminded that if we live in Christ we have nothing to fear. His strength protects and holds us. Nothing we can do is too big for God.

The Lord is not strength in some abstract sense. He is the shepherd of our lives. Referring to the entrance antiphon again, it ends with the plea that the Lord “be our shepherd for ever.” We pray not only that Our Lord’s strength sustain us, which is unfailing in His love, but also that we receive the shepherd’s care and attention for each one of us, especially the lost sheep in need of being returned to the fold. That is why the opening prayer today begins with our attempt to vocalize a description of God, describing the Lord as the: “guider and protector of your
people . . . .” It is the shepherd that guides and protects his flock. And before the doxology of the opening prayer, we pray, “keep us always in your love.” Humbly we acknowledge our reliance on God’s strength and his watchfulness for us as our shepherd. We acknowledge that His Love is what gives us life. And so we pray, ever knowledgeable of our faults, that the Lord will always keep us in His abundant love.

As the communion antiphon says: “The eyes of all look to you, O Lord, and you give them food in due season.” We are all reliant on the Lord, and His grace is enough to satisfy each of us in proportion to our needs.

Such is the Lord’s strength, that He accomplishes for us what we cannot accomplish, and brings all His works to completion. In this realization, we pray to have true respect for the name of the Lord. In the first reading from the Book of Job, the Lord is hidden from Job, but speaks to him. The Lord asks: “Who shut within doors the sea, when it burst forth from the womb; when I made the clouds its garment and thick darkness its swaddling bands?” The sea is a force incapable of being suppressed by humanity. So, the Lord asks who, but I, can put the sea behind doors, “when it burst forth from the womb”? In this question, too, the Lord reveals that he has made the clouds as garment for the sea and given it “thick darkness” for swaddling clothes.

This descriptive question appears to have two purposes. For Job, the question presupposes an answer that the Lord is capable of doing what humanity cannot accomplish, and that the Lord is so capable from the beginning of His creation, providing all that is necessary (i.e., the sea’s garments) for His creation with loving care (i.e., the swaddling bands). For us people blessed with the knowledge of Christ, we see an additional message in this question. The Lord’s question could be paraphrased this way for us: “Who shut the doors on death, when Christ came forth from the womb of the Virgin; when I provided all that is necessary for the salvation of my people, with the loving care of the Good Shepherd?”

The Lord answers the question with an affirmative statement. In the language of the reading, the Lord shut the doors of the sea, “[w]hen [He] set limits for it and fasten[s] the bar of its door, and said: Thus far shall you come but no father, and here shall your proud waves be stilled!” Again, the strength of the Lord is an awesome presence. He commands the sea, and it is limited by His command—His Word, Christ. Here the sea is a metaphor for death, which cannot be overcome by man himself, but is overcome by Christ. Not only does the Lord set the sea behind doors, but he sets limits for it and bars the door. Man can no more set limits for the sea than he can exercise control over it. God, by his loving actions accomplishes what humanity is incapable of. With words, the Lord commands the sea. This is Job’s experience, but we also know the rest of the story. Death is the great end over which man has no control, but Our God has acted in His love to shut the doors on death. Again, God accomplishes what man is incapable of. It is the Word of God, Christ Himself, that commands and destroys death by his own holy passion, death and resurrection! We will see later in the mass that Christ commands the sea as well, the physical and the metaphorical are under the control of the loving Shepherd, who acts out of Love for us.

Certainly humanity was not entitled to Christ. Humanity is the creation of God, but He is a loving God, and we are blessed by that love. So, just as a shepherd acts to seek out the lost sheep, Our God acts to benefit humanity with Christ. Shutting the doors on death, and giving all the hope of salvation which is our destiny.

The second reading from Saint Paul makes clear Christ’s role as the pinnacle of salvation history. “[O]ne died for all; therefore, all have died.” We need not die because Christ, once and for all, died for us. Our God, having the strength to accomplish what humanity cannot, humbled Himself to serve as a sacrifice for us, His creation. By his Love, not by our merit, we have been offered salvation through Christ. That is why we pray for unfailing respect for the name of Christ. As Saint Paul says: “He indeed died for all, so that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.” Having died with Christ, all those who live now live for Christ. He has taken our place in death, and by doing so has called us to salvation with Him.

The consequence of this is profound. We can no longer live just as we want, considering only our own selfish desires. We cannot live as though God has not given us this greatest gift. We must (as Saint Paul says: “The Love of Christ impels us . . . .”) live for Christ, the Greatest Gift, and regard no one according to our own will, but bow our will to the will of God in how we conduct ourselves. Saint Paul says this is so even for those who knew Christ as a man, but now he is hidden from us a man. The fact that the humanity of Christ is now hidden is an aide to us because we are to love him not merely as a man, but as true man and true God. Saint Paul says: “Consequently, from now on we regard no one according to the flesh; even if we once knew Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know him so no longer.”

We are new creations in Christ. Not merely humans, but called to the divine destiny of life everlasting with Christ, our God. We are no longer held captive by death; the old days of captivity to death are gone. Today, by the power of Christ, we are all made new to live forever in Him. “[W]hoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come.”

The Gospel reading opens with Christ addressing his disciples. His beloved is who he converses with in an intimate way. Our Lord tells his disciples: “Let us cross to the other side.” He does not command them, but entreats them. He has the strength to command all, as will be witnessed later that night, but he entreats his disciples to journey with Him.

Then the Gospel tells us that the disciples, “took Jesus with them in the boat just as he was.” This makes it sound as though Jesus is passive in the action, being taken by His disciples. Indeed. He humbles Himself to us as a sacrifice, and relies on our Love in return. While capable of accomplishing what humanity cannot, our Savior allows himself to be carried by humanity. And, they take him “just as he was.” Without fanfare or triumph, Christ travels with His disciples. Notice too that the Gospel tells us that “other boats were with him.” Although Jesus withdraws and it taken by His disciples, he does not abandon the remainder of the people.

As Jesus and his disciples are traveling across the sea, a storm arises that frightens them and makes the danger of harm appear imminent. Where is Christ? The Gospel tells us that he is asleep on a cushion. He has nothing to fear, He knows the truth. This world cannot overcome God. But, the disciples are frightened, and so are forced to wake Our Lord and beg for Him to do something. Notice, that Christ is not detached from their plight, after all He is in the boat too, but he is not frightened as they are. Christ knows that He, God, can accomplish what the people around Him cannot. He can save them this night, and He has come to give them salvation once and forever. Upon rising, Christ “rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, ‘Quiet! Be still!’ The wind ceased and there was great calm.”

Stop here to reflect again on the first reading from the Book of Job. Just as the Lord, then hidden, tells Job that He commands the sea, and in doing so tells of the coming of Christ, now Christ Himself, visible, in fact does command the sea. In both instances, God’s strength does for humanity what it cannot do, and brings completion to that work. In both instances, Our Lord loves and protects his people as a shepherd care for his flock. This story, though, is not over. Christ now asks his disciples: “Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?” And, the Gospel tells us, “[t]hey were filled with great awe and said to one another, ‘Who then is this whom even the wind and sea obey?’” Of course Christ knew the answer to His question before he asked it. Christ is asking the question to draw the disciples to Himself through His love, not by mere command. He has the power to command, but Our God draws us to Himself through his Love. The same love—strength—that sustains our very lives.

Just as the disciples respond to Christ with awe. We too should be in awe of Christ. Our awe, however, is different. We have the Church, with her truthful teaching, to give us the knowledge of the truth that the disciples, at that point, still failed to grasp. We do not ask in awe: “Who then is this whom even the wind and sea obey?” We know Christ is God. We know that He came to die once and for all, so that all may live forever in Him. We know that although he can command us, Our Lord asks for our love in return instead. We know that the strength of God can and has done what humanity cannot do. We know that Christ is the Good Shepherd who leads and protects us, giving us what we need to sustain us. And, we know that our very existence is dependent on His Love. We are to be humble before Him. We are to live different lives because of this knowledge.

Not for the mere miracle of commanding the sea, but for this knowledge which the Church proclaims, we stand in reverent awe of Our Lord.

20 June 2009

The Immaculate Heart of Mary

O most pure heart of Mary, full of goodness, show your love towards us. Let the flame of your heart, O Mary, descend on all people. We love you immensely. Impress on our hearts true love so that we may long for you.

O Mary, gentle and humble of heart, remember us when we sin. You know that all people sin. Grant that through your most pure and motherly heart, we may be healed from every spiritual sickness. Grant that we may always experience the goodness of your motherly heart, and that through the flame of your heart we may be converted.


(Dictated by Our Lady to Jelena Vasilj of Medurgorje, 18 November 1983.)

19 June 2009

The Holy Father's Letter to Priests

On the eve of the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart, the Holy Father sent a letter to all priests, welcoming them to celebrate the Year for Priests which the Pope will officially open at Vespers this evening. Here is the text of the letter in full:

Dear Brother Priests,

On the forthcoming Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, Friday 19 June 2009 - a day traditionally devoted to prayer for the sanctification of the clergy - I have decided to inaugurate a "Year for Priests" in celebration of the 150th anniversary of the "dies natalis" of John Mary Vianney, the patron saint of parish priests worldwide. This Year, meant to deepen the commitment of all priests to interior renewal for the sake of a more forceful and incisive witness to the Gospel in today's world, will conclude on the same Solemnity in 2010. "The priesthood is the love of the heart of Jesus", the saintly Cure of Ars would often say. This touching expression makes us reflect, first of all, with heartfelt gratitude on the immense gift which priests represent, not only for the Church, but also for humanity itself. I think of all those priests who quietly present Christ's words and actions each day to the faithful and to the whole world, striving to be one with the Lord in their thoughts and their will, their sentiments and their style of life. How can I not pay tribute to their apostolic labours, their tireless and hidden service, their universal charity? And how can I not praise the courageous fidelity of so many priests who, even amid difficulties and incomprehension, remain faithful to their vocation as "friends of Christ", whom He has called by name, chosen and sent?

I still treasure the memory of the first parish priest at whose side I exercised my ministry as a young priest: he left me an example of unreserved devotion to his pastoral duties, even to meeting death in the act of bringing viaticum to a gravely ill person. I also recall the countless confreres whom I have met and continue to meet, not least in my pastoral visits to different countries: men generously dedicated to the daily exercise of their priestly ministry. Yet the expression of St. John Mary also makes us think of Christ's pierced Heart and the crown of thorns which surrounds it. I am also led to think, therefore, of the countless situations of suffering endured by many priests, either because they themselves share in the manifold human experience of pain or because they encounter misunderstanding from the very persons to whom they minister. How can we not also think of all those priests who are offended in their dignity, obstructed in their mission and persecuted, even at times to offering the supreme testimony of their own blood?

There are also, sad to say, situations which can never be sufficiently deplored where the Church herself suffers as a consequence of infidelity on the part of some of her ministers. Then it is the world which finds grounds for scandal and rejection. What is most helpful to the Church in such cases is not only a frank and complete acknowledgement of the weaknesses of her ministers, but also a joyful and renewed realisation of the greatness of God's gift, embodied in the splendid example of generous pastors, religious afire with love for God and for souls, and insightful, patient spiritual guides. Here the teaching and example of St. John Mary Vianney can serve as a significant point of reference for us all. The Cure of Ars was quite humble, yet as a priest he was conscious of being an immense gift to his people: "A good shepherd, a pastor after God's heart, is the greatest treasure which the good Lord can grant to a parish, and one of the most precious gifts of divine mercy". He spoke of the priesthood as if incapable of fathoming the grandeur of the gift and task entrusted to a human creature: "O, how great is the priest! ... If he realised what he is, he would die. ... God obeys him: he utters a few words and the Lord descends from heaven at his voice, to be contained within a small host". Explaining to his parishioners the importance of the Sacraments, he would say: "Without the Sacrament of Holy Orders, we would not have the Lord. Who put Him there in that tabernacle? The priest. Who welcomed your soul at the beginning of your life? The priest. Who feeds your soul and gives it strength for its journey? The priest. Who will prepare it to appear before God, bathing it one last time in the blood of Jesus Christ? The priest, always the priest. And if this soul should happen to die [as a result of sin], who will raise it up, who will restore its calm and peace? Again, the priest. ... After God, the priest is everything! ... Only in heaven will he fully realise what he is". These words, welling up from the priestly heart of the holy pastor, might sound excessive. Yet they reveal the high esteem in which he held the Sacrament of the Priesthood. He seemed overwhelmed by a boundless sense of responsibility: "Were we to fully realise what a priest is on earth, we would die: not of fright, but of love. ... Without the priest, the passion and death of our Lord would be of no avail. It is the priest who continues the work of redemption on earth. ... What use would be a house filled with gold, were there no one to open its door? The priest holds the key to the treasures of heaven: it is he who opens the door: he is the steward of the good Lord; the administrator of His goods. ... Leave a parish for twenty years without a priest, and they will end by worshipping the beasts there. ... The priest is not a priest for himself, he is a priest for you".

He arrived in Ars, a village of 230 souls, warned by his bishop beforehand that there he would find religious practice in a sorry state: "There is little love of God in that parish; you will be the one to put it there". As a result, he was deeply aware that he needed to go there to embody Christ's presence and to bear witness to His saving mercy: "[Lord,] grant me the conversion of my parish; I am willing to suffer whatever you wish, for my entire life!". With this prayer he entered upon his mission. The Cure devoted himself completely to his parish's conversion, setting before all else the Christian education of the people in his care. Dear brother priests, let us ask the Lord Jesus for the grace to learn for ourselves something of the pastoral plan of St. John Mary Vianney! The first thing we need to learn is the complete identification of the man with his ministry. In Jesus, person and mission tend to coincide: all Christ's saving activity was, and is, an expression of His "filial consciousness" which from all eternity stands before the Father in an attitude of loving submission to His will. In a humble yet genuine way, every priest must aim for a similar identification. Certainly this is not to forget that the efficacy of the ministry is independent of the holiness of the minister; but neither can we overlook the extraordinary fruitfulness of the encounter between the ministry's objective holiness and the subjective holiness of the minister. The Cure of Ars immediately set about this patient and humble task of harmonising his life as a minister with the holiness of the ministry he had received, by deciding to "live", physically, in his parish church: As his first biographer tells us: "Upon his arrival, he chose the church as his home. He entered the church before dawn and did not leave it until after the evening Angelus. There he was to be sought whenever needed".

The pious excess of his devout biographer should not blind us to the fact that the Cure also knew how to "live" actively within the entire territory of his parish: he regularly visited the sick and families, organised popular missions and patronal feasts, collected and managed funds for his charitable and missionary works, embellished and furnished his parish church, cared for the orphans and teachers of the "Providence" (an institute he founded); provided for the education of children; founded confraternities and enlisted lay persons to work at his side.

His example naturally leads me to point out that there are sectors of co- operation which need to be opened ever more fully to the lay faithful. Priests and laity together make up the one priestly people and in virtue of their ministry priests live in the midst of the lay faithful, "that they may lead everyone to the unity of charity, 'loving one another with mutual affection; and outdoing one another in sharing honour'". Here we ought to recall the Vatican Council II's hearty encouragement to priests "to be sincere in their appreciation and promotion of the dignity of the laity and of the special role they have to play in the Church's mission. ... They should be willing to listen to lay people, give brotherly consideration to their wishes, and acknowledge their experience and competence in the different fields of human activity. In this way they will be able together with them to discern the signs of the times".

St. John Mary Vianney taught his parishioners primarily by the witness of his life. It was from his example that they learned to pray, halting frequently before the tabernacle for a visit to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. "One need not say much to pray well" - the Cure explained to them - "We know that Jesus is there in the tabernacle: let us open our hearts to Him, let us rejoice in His sacred presence. That is the best prayer". And he would urge them: "Come to communion, my brothers and sisters, come to Jesus. Come to live from Him in order to live with Him. ... "Of course you are not worthy of him, but you need him!". This way of educating the faithful to the Eucharistic presence and to communion proved most effective when they saw him celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Those present said that "it was not possible to find a finer example of worship. ... He gazed upon the Host with immense love". "All good works, taken together, do not equal the sacrifice of the Mass" - he would say - "since they are human works, while the Holy Mass is the work of God". He was convinced that the fervour of a priest's life depended entirely upon the Mass: "The reason why a priest is lax is that he does not pay attention to the Mass! My God, how we ought to pity a priest who celebrates as if he were engaged in something routine!". He was accustomed, when celebrating, also to offer his own life in sacrifice: "What a good thing it is for a priest each morning to offer himself to God in sacrifice!"

This deep personal identification with the Sacrifice of the Cross led him - by a sole inward movement - from the altar to the confessional. Priests ought never to be resigned to empty confessionals or the apparent indifference of the faithful to this Sacrament. In France, at the time of the Cure of Ars, confession was no more easy or frequent than in our own day, since the upheaval caused by the revolution had long inhibited the practice of religion. Yet he sought in every way, by his preaching and his powers of persuasion, to help his parishioners to rediscover the meaning and beauty of the Sacrament of Penance, presenting it as an inherent demand of the Eucharistic presence. He thus created a "virtuous" circle. By spending long hours in church before the tabernacle, he inspired the faithful to imitate him by coming to visit Jesus with the knowledge that their parish priest would be there, ready to listen and offer forgiveness. Later, the growing numbers of penitents from all over France would keep him in the confessional for up to sixteen hours a day. It was said that Ars had become "a great hospital of souls". His first biographer relates that "the grace he obtained [for the conversion of sinners] was so powerful that it would pursue them, not leaving them a moment of peace!". The saintly Cure reflected something of the same idea when he said: "It is not the sinner who returns to God to beg his forgiveness, but God Himself who runs after the sinner and makes him return to Him". "This good Saviour is so filled with love that He seeks us everywhere".

We priests should feel that the following words, which he put on the lips of Christ, are meant for each of us personally: "I will charge my ministers to proclaim to sinners that I am ever ready to welcome them, that my mercy is infinite". From St. John Mary Vianney we can learn to put our unfailing trust in the Sacrament of Penance, to set it once more at the centre of our pastoral concerns, and to take up the "dialogue of salvation" which it entails. The Cure of Ars dealt with different penitents in different ways. Those who came to his confessional drawn by a deep and humble longing for God's forgiveness found in him the encouragement to plunge into the "flood of divine mercy" which sweeps everything away by its vehemence. If someone was troubled by the thought of his own frailty and inconstancy, and fearful of sinning again, the Cure would unveil the mystery of God's love in these beautiful and touching words: "The good Lord knows everything. Even before you confess, He already knows that you will sin again, yet He still forgives you. How great is the love of our God: He even forces Himself to forget the future, so that He can grant us His forgiveness!". But to those who made a lukewarm and rather indifferent confession of sin, he clearly demonstrated by his own tears of pain how "abominable" this attitude was: "I weep because you don't weep", he would say. "If only the Lord were not so good! But He is so good! One would have to be a brute to treat so good a Father this way!". He awakened repentance in the hearts of the lukewarm by forcing them to see God's own pain at their sins reflected in the face of the priest who was their confessor. To those who, on the other hand, came to him already desirous of and suited to a deeper spiritual life, he flung open the abyss of God's love, explaining the untold beauty of living in union with Him and dwelling in His presence: "Everything in God's sight, everything with God, everything to please God. ... How beautiful it is!". And he taught them to pray: "My God, grant me the grace to love You as much as I possibly can".

In his time the Cure of Ars was able to transform the hearts and the lives of so many people because he enabled them to experience the Lord's merciful love. Our own time urgently needs a similar proclamation and witness to the truth of Love. Thanks to the Word and the Sacraments of Jesus, John Mary Vianney built up his flock, although he often trembled from a conviction of his personal inadequacy, and desired more than once to withdraw from the responsibilities of the parish ministry out of a sense of his unworthiness. Nonetheless, with exemplary obedience he never abandoned his post, consumed as he was by apostolic zeal for the salvation of souls. He sought to remain completely faithful to his own vocation and mission through the practice of an austere asceticism: "The great misfortune for us parish priests - he lamented - is that our souls grow tepid"; meaning by this that a pastor can grow dangerously inured to the state of sin or of indifference in which so many of his flock are living. He himself kept a tight rein on his body, with vigils and fasts, lest it rebel against his priestly soul. Nor did he avoid self- mortification for the good of the souls in his care and as a help to expiating the many sins he heard in confession. To a priestly confrere he explained: "I will tell you my recipe: I give sinners a small penance and the rest I do in their place". Aside from the actual penances which the Cure of Ars practised, the core of his teaching remains valid for each of us: souls have been won at the price of Jesus' own blood, and a priest cannot devote himself to their salvation if he refuses to share personally in the "precious cost" of redemption.

In today's world, as in the troubled times of the Cure of Ars, the lives and activity of priests need to be distinguished by a forceful witness to the Gospel. As Pope Paul VI rightly noted, "modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses". Lest we experience existential emptiness and the effectiveness of our ministry be compromised, we need to ask ourselves ever anew: "Are we truly pervaded by the Word of God? Is that Word truly the nourishment we live by, even more than bread and the things of this world? Do we really know that Word? Do we love it? Are we deeply engaged with this Word to the point that it really leaves a mark on our lives and shapes our thinking?". Just as Jesus called the Twelve to be with Him, and only later sent them forth to preach, so too in our days priests are called to assimilate that "new style of life" which was inaugurated by the Lord Jesus and taken up by the Apostles.

It was complete commitment to this "new style of life" which marked the priestly ministry of the Cure of Ars. Pope John XXIII, in his Encyclical Letter "Sacerdotii nostri primordia", published in 1959 on the first centenary of the death of St. John Mary Vianney, presented his asceticism with special reference to the "three evangelical counsels" which the Pope considered necessary also for priests: "even though priests are not bound to embrace these evangelical counsels by virtue of the clerical state, these counsels nonetheless offer them, as they do all the faithful, the surest road to the desired goal of Christian perfection". The Cure of Ars lived the "evangelical counsels" in a way suited to his priestly state. His poverty was not the poverty of a religious or a monk, but that proper to a priest: while managing much money (since well-to-do pilgrims naturally took an interest in his charitable works), he realised that everything had been donated to his church, his poor, his orphans, the girls of his "Providence", his families of modest means. Consequently, he "was rich in giving to others and very poor for himself". As he would explain: "My secret is simple: give everything away; hold nothing back". When he lacked money, he would say amiably to the poor who knocked at his door: "Today I'm poor just like you, I'm one of you". At the end of his life, he could say with absolute tranquillity: "I no longer have anything. The good Lord can call me whenever he wants!". His chastity, too, was that demanded of a priest for his ministry. It could be said that it was a chastity suited to one who must daily touch the Eucharist, who contemplates it blissfully and with that same bliss offers it to his flock. It was said of him that "he radiated chastity"; the faithful would see this when he turned and gazed at the tabernacle with loving eyes". Finally, Saint John Mary Vianney's obedience found full embodiment in his conscientious fidelity to the daily demands of his ministry. We know how he was tormented by the thought of his inadequacy for parish ministry and by a desire to flee "in order to bewail his poor life, in solitude". Only obedience and a thirst for souls convinced him to remain at his post. As he explained to himself and his flock: "There are no two good ways of serving God. There is only one: serve him as he desires to be served". He considered this the golden rule for a life of obedience: "Do only what can be offered to the good Lord".

In this context of a spirituality nourished by the practice of the evangelical counsels, I would like to invite all priests, during this Year dedicated to them, to welcome the new springtime which the Spirit is now bringing about in the Church, not least through the ecclesial movements and the new communities. "In his gifts the Spirit is multifaceted. ... He breathes where He wills. He does so unexpectedly, in unexpected places, and in ways previously unheard of, ... but he also shows us that He works with a view to the one body and in the unity of the one body". In this regard, the statement of the Decree "Presbyterorum Ordinis" continues to be timely: "While testing the spirits to discover if they be of God, priests must discover with faith, recognise with joy and foster diligently the many and varied charismatic gifts of the laity, whether these be of a humble or more exalted kind". These gifts, which awaken in many people the desire for a deeper spiritual life, can benefit not only the lay faithful but the clergy as well. The communion between ordained and charismatic ministries can provide "a helpful impulse to a renewed commitment by the Church in proclaiming and bearing witness to the Gospel of hope and charity in every corner of the world". I would also like to add, echoing the Apostolic Exhortation "Pastores Dabo Vobis" of Pope John Paul II, that the ordained ministry has a radical "communitarian form" and can be exercised only in the communion of priests with their bishop. This communion between priests and their bishop, grounded in the Sacrament of Holy Orders and made manifest in Eucharistic concelebration, needs to be translated into various concrete expressions of an effective and affective priestly fraternity. Only thus will priests be able to live fully the gift of celibacy and build thriving Christian communities in which the miracles which accompanied the first preaching of the Gospel can be repeated.

The Pauline Year now coming to its close invites us also to look to the Apostle of the Gentiles, who represents a splendid example of a priest entirely devoted to his ministry. "The love of Christ urges us on" - he wrote - "because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died". And he adds: "He died for all, so that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for Him Who died and was raised for them". Could a finer programme be proposed to any priest resolved to advance along the path of Christian perfection?

Dear brother priests, the celebration of the 150th anniversary of the death of St. John Mary Vianney (1859) follows upon the celebration of the 150th anniversary of the apparitions of Lourdes (1858). In 1959 Blessed Pope John XXIII noted that "shortly before the Cure of Ars completed his long and admirable life, the Immaculate Virgin appeared in another part of France to an innocent and humble girl, and entrusted to her a message of prayer and penance which continues, even a century later, to yield immense spiritual fruits. The life of this holy priest whose centenary we are commemorating in a real way anticipated the great supernatural truths taught to the seer of Massabielle. He was greatly devoted to the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin; in 1836 he had dedicated his parish church to Our Lady Conceived without Sin and he greeted the dogmatic definition of this truth in 1854 with deep faith and great joy". The Cure would always remind his faithful that "after giving us all he could, Jesus Christ wishes in addition to bequeath us His most precious possession, His Blessed Mother".

To the Most Holy Virgin I entrust this Year for Priests. I ask her to awaken in the heart of every priest a generous and renewed commitment to the ideal of complete self-oblation to Christ and the Church which inspired the thoughts and actions of the saintly Cure of Ars. It was his fervent prayer life and his impassioned love of Christ Crucified that enabled John Mary Vianney to grow daily in his total self-oblation to God and the Church. May his example lead all priests to offer that witness of unity with their bishop, with one another and with the lay faithful, which today, as ever, is so necessary. Despite all the evil present in our world, the words which Christ spoke to His Apostles in the Upper Room continue to inspire us: "In the world you have tribulation; but take courage, I have overcome the world". Our faith in the Divine Master gives us the strength to look to the future with confidence. Dear priests, Christ is counting on you. In the footsteps of the Cure of Ars, let yourselves be enthralled by Him. In this way you too will be, for the world in our time, heralds of hope, reconciliation and peace!

18 June 2009

Solemnity of the Sacred Heart

19 JUNE 2009. Today the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart, in adoration of the heart of Christ who loved us so much, freely giving us His heart for our salvation.

Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus can be traced to the 11th century. However, devotion to the Sacred Heart remained a private devotion, usually tied to the devotion to the Five Wounds of Christ, until the 16th century. The first celebration of the Feast of the Sacred Heart was reportedly celebrated on August 31, 1670, in Rennes, France. While the devotion to the Sacred Heart spread from Rennes, it took St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, of the Order of the Visitation, for the devotion to become public and universal.

Christ himself was St. Margaret Mary's director and, appearing to her frequently, conversed with her. In all of these visions of Christ, the Sacred Heart played a central role. The “great apparition,” which occurred on June 16, 1675, during the octave of the Feast of Corpus Christi, is the source of the contemporary Solemnity of the Sacred Heart. In that vision, Christ asked St. Margaret Mary to request that the Feast of the Sacred Heart be celebrated on the Friday after the octave (or eighth day) of the Feast of Corpus Christi, in reparation for the ingratitude of men for the sacrifice that Christ had made for them. On that day, showing her His Sacred Heart, Christ said to St. Margaret Mary: "Behold this Heart, which, notwithstanding the burning love for man with which it is consumed and exhausted, meets with no other return from the generality of Christians than sacrilege, contempt, indifference and ingratitude."

Devotion to the Sacred Heart became popular after St. Margaret Mary’s death in 1690, but, because the Church initially doubted the validity of St. Margaret Mary’s visions, it was not until 1765 that the feast was celebrated officially in France. In 1856, the Feast of the Sacred Heart was instituted as a solemnity by Pope Pius IX.

The Sacred Heart of Jesus represents not simply His physical heart, but His love for all mankind. That heart of love burns for us, and is injured and insulted by our failure to follow His commands and love Him as we should. It was His Sacred Heart that was filled with love for us on the cross while his body was racked with pain. And it was His Sacred Heart that, as the most perfect offering for our benefit, poured forth water and blood when pierced by the lance on Calvary. His Sacred Heart, loving all of humanity without limit, must then receive our unfailing praise and honor.

The Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI speaking of the solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in 2005 told us: “In biblical language, 'heart' indicates the center of the person where his sentiments and intentions dwell. In the Heart of the Redeemer we adore God's love for humanity, his will for universal salvation, his infinite mercy. Practicing devotion to the Sacred Heart of Christ therefore means adoring that Heart which, after having loved us to the end, was pierced by a spear and from high on the Cross poured out blood and water, an inexhaustible source of new life.” (Benedict XVI, Angelus, 5.VI. 2005).

In His visits with St. Margaret Mary, Christ told her of the specific ways that He wanted the devotion to His Sacred Heart manifested through acts of consecration, reparation, and adoration. Those include:
  • frequent reception of Holy Communion, especially on the First Friday of the month;
  • the observance of a Holy Hour of adoration before the Blessed Sacrament, especially on Thursdays (remembering the hour of agony He spent in the Garden, while His Apostles slept);
  • consecration of oneself (and family) to the Sacred Heart; and
  • enthronement of an image of the Sacred Heart in the home.
If it has grown weary or routine, or if you are just now learning of the Devotion the Sacred Heart, take up the Devotion with a renewal spirit. Consider his Sacred Heart, the very center of Himself which he offered for all of us. Endeavor, through the assistance of God's grace, to love Christ, as He loved us.

Today also marks the beginning of the Year for Priests called by Pope Benedict XVI.

Prayer to the Sacred Heart
by Saint Francis De Sales

May Thy Heart dwell always in our hearts!
May Thy Blood ever flow in the veins of our souls!
O sun of our hearts, Thou givest life to all things by the rays of Thy goodness!
I will not go until Thy Heart has strengthened me, O Lord Jesus!
May the Heart of Jesus be the King of my heart!
Blessed be God.


17 June 2009

Blessed Osanna of Mantua

18 JUNE 2009. Today we celebrate the memorial of Blessed Osanna of Mantua. The Dominican supplement to the Breviary tells us this:
Blessed Osanna Andreassi was born at Mantua in 1449 and received the habit of the Sisters of Penance of Saint Dominic as a young girl. With great wisdom she blended the practice of good works and pursuit of secular occupations with a life of contemplation. She enjoyed many extraordinary mystical graces during her life and many came to her for advice and consolation. She died on June 18, 1505.
Looking at other sources, it seems that Blessed Osanna had her first mystical experience at the age of five, like Catherine of Sienna a century before her. Both of Osanna's parents were from noble families. She was the eldest of many children, and had significant responsibility for the care of her younger siblings. When she died at the age of 56, Osanna was still caring for some of her siblings. Osanna's parents died during her childhood.

When Osanna was 18 she had a vision of the Blessed Virgin, who betrothed her to Christ, placing a ring on her finger. Although no ring was visible to the eye, she said that she could still always feel the ring on her hand. While Osanna's father wanted her to marry, she instead was called to join the Third Order of St. Dominic. In her late twenties, Osanna had additional visions of the pain of Christ's crucifixion and the sublimity of heaven. Osanna tried to attend local Dominican tertiary meetings, but they were scornful of her and rejected her as too outside the norm.

Blessed Osanna spent long hours in prayer and penance. Often Osanna would go into trances which alarmed those around her. While her father refused to have her learn to read of write, it appears she learned all the same.

After her parents died, Osanna continued to care for her younger siblings. In addition, Duke Frederick of Mantua asked Osanna to care for his wife and family while he was away on campaign. Becoming more than merely a maid or nanny, Osanna developed a deep relationship with the Duke's family and became a trusted friend. Throughout her life of service to the Duke's family and her own siblings, she managed to allot her time to her occupation, but still reserve long periods of time for prayer and penance.

At the age of 30, Blessed Osanna received the stigmata on her head, her feet, and on her side. However, her wounds did not bleed. Instead they appeared as red, intensely painful swellings, that were all the more painful on Wednesdays and Fridays.

Osanna was deeply distressed by the state of the Church under Pope Alexander VI. She prayed to Our Lady to deliver the Church from its crisis, but felt her prayers were left unheaded:
God ever kept motionless, with aspect and countenance of wrath, and he gave no reply to anyone who prayed: not to the Madonna, not to the apostles, not to my soul.
Near the end of her life, Blessed Osanna met and befriended a reformed Benedictine, Father Jerome. Osanna and Fr. Jerome shared many letters, and she often refers to him as her spiritual son, "conceived in the Blood of Christ." While known for her charity and cheerfulness to others, Osanna's letters detail a spiritual life that is marked by intense pain and suffering, lightened only by her mystical ecstasies in union with God.

Blessed Osanna was finally professed as a tertiary in the Third Order of St. Dominic in 1501, but died four years later.

Prayer of Blessed Osanna of Mantua

O God, giver of all good things,
you led Blessed Osanna to prefer the unsearchable riches of Christ
above all else and to so teach others.
By following her example and teaching
may we grow in knowledge of you
and faithfully live according to the light of the gospel.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Why the title "Acta Sanctorum"?

For several years the call to a third order religious vocation has been stirring in me. As I began a year, or so, ago truly working through prayer to discern that vocation, the lives of the Saints were continually being opened to me by others. With the materials available online, and the breviary supplements produced by the Franciscans, Dominicans, and other orders, it is amazing to me the plenitude of saints that are venerated by the faithful.

The people of God have an amazing assortment of models in faith to follow in their daily trials and struggles, blessings and graces, successes and achievements. Many of the saints were not perfect by any description. In fact, many of them led lives opposite to the Gospel of our Lord, but turned their lives to Our Lord and their loving devotion to God in such a complete way that we now profess their place in heaven with our Heavenly Father.

Yes, the saints struggled as we do. For example, Saint Augustine lived a life of all the world's pleasures, without hardly a thought for God before his conversion. In the saints we can see both an expression of what we are--sinners in the world, and an expression of what we can become. saints ourselves.

In fact let's look at how the Catechism of the Catholic Church defines a saint: "The 'holy one' who leads a life in union with God through the grace of Christ and receives the reward of eternal life. The Church is called the communion of saints, of the holy ones." (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2d ed. (hereinafter CCC), glossary) Further, paragraph 823 of the Catechism provides: "The Church, then, is the 'holy people of God,' and her members are called 'saints.'" And, "[t]he communion of saints is the Church. (CCC, 946)

Thus, the Church is recognized as the communion of saints--the holy ones. Each of us is called to holiness. In fact each of us is called personally by Christ to live out, in devotion to Christ, the example of radical love that He gave the Church, His bride. Achieving that perfection though, through the graces that Our Lord provides, is beyond the mere abilities of anyone. But, we still are called to strive. In that effort, then, we are to give our best effort at achieving holiness--saintliness.

Each of us is called to be a saint. Indeed, the destiny that we were created for is to become a saint because we are each the loved creation of the Our Lord. So, acta sanctorum is not only a title, but is also a living description of we the faithful. It is a description of our striving each day to live holiness, failing, returning to God with contrite hearts, and trying again.

How many reading this blog will ever be canonized? I know that I will never be, wretched sinner that I am. For our lives today, however, striving to live in holiness, and in communion with others striving to live in holiness, is truly acta sanctorum.

And, who better to follow as examples of holiness and overcoming our faults and difficulties, but those who have come before us whom the Church has recognized as saints. Thus, it is important to keep in the front of our spiritual eyes these saints' examples. Acta sanctorum, in title and in action, is the faithful! We the Church!