27 July 2009

Blessed Robert Nutter, martyr

27 JULY 2009. Today is the optional memorial of Blessed Robert Nutter, beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1987.

Blessed Robert Nutter was born in Burnley, Lancanshire in 1550. (Some resources give his birth year as 1557.) Blessed Robert entered Brasenose College, Oxford, England, in the mid-1560s and was a seminarian at the English College, Rheims, France. He was ordained as a priest at Soissons, France, on December 21, 1581. Blessed Robert returned to England to minister to covert Catholics and was imprisoned in the Tower of London and later exiled for the crime of being a Catholic priest. After a few months of rest in France, Blessed Robert again returned to his ministry in England in 1584-85, where he was almost immediately arrested again. Following his second arrest in England for being a Catholic priest, Blessed Robert spent 15 years in prison, suffering torture. But, it was in prison that Blessed Robert joined the Dominican Order, and was received into the order by the Provincial of Portugal.

In March 1600, Blessed Nutter managed to escape from prison, but was recaptured in May. He was hanged and quartered with Blessed Edward Thwing on July 26, 1600. Blessed Robert Nutter's capital crime: being a Roman Catholic Priest.


Almighty, ever-living God,
you gave your martyrs Robert Nutter
and his companions grace
lay down their lives for Christ.
Help our weakness too:

give us the strength to live for you,
even as they did not shrink
from dying for your sake.

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.


IMAGE: Tower of London, Wikimedia Commons

26 July 2009

A Renewal Prayer

Help me Lord, I beseech thee,
to return to the life that is in union
with thy Word.
For, while thy grace is always
my self is too weak and the temptation
too powerful to rely on my own efforts.
So, trembling before Your majesty,
I beg forgiveness for trying to win this
battle on my own.
I pray for the humility to love You more,
and to be a more perfect servant of Yours.

Jesus Christ, Your command to love
as You did challenges me.
With a humble and contrite heart,
may I always meet this challenge.

My soul longs for You Dear Father, but my
body pines for the desires of the world.
So, I open myself contritely to your Love,
I pray for the humility to truly submit
myself to You.
For in that submission, I hope to achieve
greater love of you , and
greater service to You in Your Name.

Holy Trinity, I adore you and thank You.
All praise and thanksgiving is due to You.
With the assistance of all the Saints,
on whom I rely for their intercession,
and especially with the assistance
of Our Holy Mother, may my prayers
find their way to You. And may
You hear them with a loving heart, for
this your poor, sinful, and damaged

Not only for myself do I pray Lord, but
for Your glory, please allow me to offer my petitions.


23 July 2009

Ave, Joseph

Hail, Joseph, filled with divine grace,
in whose arms the Savior was carried
and under whose eyes He grew up:
blessed art thou among men
and blessed is Jesus,
the Son of thy dear Spouse.

Holy Joseph, chosen to be the father
of the Son of God,
pray for us in the midst of our cares
of family, health and work,
and deign to assist us
at the hour of our death.


21 July 2009

The Right to a Good Death?

21 JULY 2009. Recently I have been reading news stories about individuals who have traveled from the United Kingdom to Switzerland to end their lives.

Sir Edward Downes and, his wife, Lady Downes, have recently received a lot of media attention for their joint assisted suicide on July 10, 2009. Apparently Lady Downes (74) was terminally ill and Sir Edward Downes (85) was suffering from a loss of hearing and sight. So, they made the decision to end their lives together in Switzerland, where assisted suicide is legal, or at least permitted to take place.

As a part of the public debate of this topic in England, Archibishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols, in an article published in The Telegraph last week, reminds us that: "dying is the most important step a person takes." "It is a step towards the ultimate fulfillment of our innate spiritual nature," Archbishop Nicols explains, "our capacity to know God, to know the fullness of the mystery of all things."

Very true. Very true indeed. Death is not a mere physiological step that simply ends life, ends suffering, and ends our consciousness. Death is the final step of this life--based upon the patchwork of our actions, thoughts, deeds, failures, and omissions, as the prayer says, "what we have done and what we have failed to do"--that brings us into the presence of the true and living God. To deny this is to deny truth itself, to deny the reality of God and of love in our world. To deny this is to render everything and everyone in our lives to be nothing more than given to us by chance of biology and physics for our own, selfish needs and pleasures.

A good death is taking the faith filled step towards God at the end of our mortal lives in accordance with God's commands, given to us by the Church. Taking control of the timing of our own death is not a good death--it is selfishness. And, outwardly at least, it is the rejection of God and of His love.

How truly sad that the Western world appears to be taking a societal, devolutionary step towards granting each person, under the rubric of a perversion of law, total control over his or her own life, to the point of being able to determine when life ends--out of convenience, self concern, and self control.

Where is God left in that calculus? No where.

There is an effort underway to systematically eliminate God from our lives by individuals, groups, movements, who find truth, love itself, to be inconvenient or imposing.

Please pray for these people, and pray for our society. Pray too for those who have taken their own lives, that God, who only in His majesty can truly know anyone's heart, will have mercy on their souls.


God our Father,
Your power brings us to birth,

Your providence guides our lives,
and by Your command we return to dust.

Lord, those who die still live in Your presence,

their lives change but do not end.

I pray in hope for my family,

relatives and friends,

and for all the dead known to You alone.

I pray especially,

for those souls most in need of prayer.

In company with Christ,

Who died and now lives,
may they rejoice in Your kingdom,
where all our tears are wiped away.

Unite us together again in one family,

to sing Your praise forever and ever.


IMAGE: Mt. Olivet Catholic Cemetery retrieved from Willard Library, Battle Creek, Michigan

12 July 2009

What about Saint Benedict?

12 JULY 2009. What is that? What happened to a post on Saint Benedict's feast day, which was yesterday? Well, I apologize for the delay, but our family has had a difficult weekend. Suffice it to say, the economic downturn became very personal on Friday.

So, I did not neglect to think about a post on Saint Benedict, but the ability to write one escaped me. In lieu of a tardy, and what are always my feeble attempts, a well done summary of Saint Benedict, thanks to EWTN, can be found here.


Glorious St. Benedict, sublime model of virtue,
pure vessel of God's grace!
Behold me humbly kneeling at your feet.
I implore you in your loving kindness
to pray for me before the throne of God.
To you I have recourse
in the dangers that daily surround me.
Shield me against my selfishness
and my indifference to God and to my neighbor.
Inspire me to imitate you in all things.
May your blessing be with me always,
so that I may see and serve Christ in others
and work for His kingdom.

Graciously obtain for me from God
those favors and graces which I need
so much in the trials, miseries, and afflictions of life.
Your heart was always full of love,
compassion, and mercy toward those who were afflicted
or troubled in any way.
You never dismissed without consolation and assistance
anyone who had recourse to you.
I therefore invoke your powerful intercession,
confident in the hope that you will hear my prayers
and obtain for me the special grace
and favor I earnestly implore (mention your favor).

Help me, great St. Benedict,
to live and die as a faithful child of God,
to run in the sweetness of His loving will,
and to attain the eternal happiness of heaven.


IMAGE: Saints.SQPN.com

We Pray

However improbable anyone of a political bend might say that it is, we pray for a conversion of the heart and mind of the President on abortion, embryonic stem cell research, and all the issues relating to protecting the sanctity, and respecting the dignity, of human life. For nothing is impossible with God.

A Prayer and Congratulations for Archbishop Di Noia!

12 JULY 2009. At 2:00 p.m. this afternoon Father Joseph Augustine Di Noia will be ordained as Titular Archbishop of Oregon City and officially ascend to the role of Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. The Vatican announced Father Di Noia's appointment as Secretary for the Congregation on June 16.

We offer our prayers for the work of Archbishop Di Noia and pray that the Lord bless him and all his efforts.

Congratulations Archbishop Di Noia!

08 July 2009

Summary of Caritas in Veritate

A summary of the Encyclical released by the Holy See Press Office explains that in his introduction the Pope recalls how "charity is at the heart of the Church's social doctrine". Yet, given the risk of its being "misinterpreted and detached from ethical living", he warns how "a Christianity of charity without truth would be more or less interchangeable with a pool of good sentiments, helpful for social cohesion, but of little relevance".

The Holy Father makes it clear that development has need of truth. In this context he dwells on two "criteria that govern moral action": justice and the common good. All Christians are called to charity, also by the "institutional path" which affects the life of the "polis", that is, of social coexistence.

The first chapter of the Encyclical focuses on the message of Paul VI's "Populorum Progressio" which "underlined the indispensable importance of the Gospel for building a society according to freedom and justice. ... The Christian faith does not rely on privilege or positions of power, ... but only on Christ". Paul VI "pointed out that the causes of underdevelopment are not primarily of the material order". They lie above all in the will, in the mind and, even more so, in "the lack of brotherhood among individuals and peoples".

"Human Development in Our Time" is the theme of the second chapter. If profit, the Pope writes, "becomes the exclusive goal, if it is produced by improper means and without the common good as its ultimate end, it risks destroying wealth and creating poverty". In this context he enumerates certain "malfunctions" of development: financial dealings that are "largely speculative", migratory flows "often provoked by some particular circumstance and then given insufficient attention", and "the unregulated exploitation of the earth's resources". In the face of these interconnected problems, the Pope calls for "a new humanistic synthesis", noting how "development today has many overlapping layers: ... The world's wealth is growing in absolute terms, but inequalities are on the increase", and new forms of poverty are coming into being.

At a cultural level, the Encyclical proceeds, the possibilities for interaction open new prospects for dialogue, but a twofold danger exists: a "cultural eclecticism" in which cultures are viewed as "substantially equivalent", and the opposing danger of "cultural levelling and indiscriminate acceptance of types of conduct and lifestyles". In this context Pope Benedict also mentions the scandal of hunger and express his hope for "equitable agrarian reform in developing countries".

The Pontiff also dwells on the question of respect for life, "which cannot in any way be detached from questions concerning the development of peoples", affirming that "when a society moves towards the denial or suppression of life, it ends up no longer finding the necessary motivation and energy to strive for man's true good".

Another question associated with development is that of the right to religious freedom. "Violence", writes the Pope, "puts the brakes on authentic development", and "this applies especially to terrorism motivated by fundamentalism".

Chapter three of the Encyclical - "Fraternity, Economic Development and Civil Society" - opens with a passage praising the "experience of gift", often insufficiently recognised "because of a purely consumerist and utilitarian view of life". Yet development, "if it is to be authentically human, needs to make room for the principle of gratuitousness". As for the logic of the market, it "needs to be directed towards the pursuit of the common good, for which the political community in particular must also take responsibility".

Referring to "Centesimus Annus", this Encyclical highlights the "need for a system with three subjects: the market, the State and civil society" and encourages a "civilising of the economy". It highlights the importance of "economic forms based on solidarity" and indicates how "both market and politics need individuals who are open to reciprocal gift".

The chapter closes with a fresh evaluation of the phenomenon of globalisation, which must not be seen just as a "socio-economic process". Globalisation needs "to promote a person-based and community-oriented cultural process of world-wide integration that is open to transcendence" and able to correct its own malfunctions.

The fourth chapter of the Encyclical focuses on the theme: "The Development of People. Rights and Duties. The Environment". Governments and international organisations, says the Pope, cannot "lose sight of the objectivity and 'inviolability' of rights". In this context he also dedicates attention to "the problems associated with population growth".

He reaffirms that sexuality "cannot be reduced merely to pleasure or entertainment". States, he says, "are called to enact policies promoting the centrality and the integrity of the family".

"The economy needs ethics in order to function correctly", the Holy Father goes on, and "not any ethics whatsoever, but an ethics which is people-centred". This centrality of the human person must also be the guiding principle in "development programmes" and in international co-operation. "International organisations", he suggests, "might question the actual effectiveness of their bureaucratic and administrative machinery, which is often excessively costly".

The Holy Father also turns his attention to the energy problem, noting how "the fact that some States, power groups and companies hoard non-renewable energy resources represents a grave obstacle to development in poor countries. ... Technologically advanced societies can and must lower their domestic energy consumption", he says, at the same time encouraging "research into alternative forms of energy".

"The Co-operation of the Human Family" is the title and focus of chapter five, in which Pope Benedict highlights how "the development of peoples depends, above all, on a recognition that the human race is a single family". Hence Christianity and other religions "can offer their contribution to development only if God has a place in the public realm".

The Pope also makes reference to the principle of subsidiarity, which assists the human person "via the autonomy of intermediate bodies". Subsidiarity, he explains, "is the most effective antidote against any form of all-encompassing welfare state" and is "particularly well-suited to managing globalisation and directing it towards authentic human development".

Benedict XVI calls upon rich States "to allocate larger portions of their gross domestic product to development aid", thus respecting their obligations. He also express a hope for wider access to education and, even more so, for "complete formation of the person", affirming that yielding to relativism makes everyone poorer. One example of this, he writes, is that of the perverse phenomenon of sexual tourism. "It is sad to note that this activity often takes place with the support of local governments", he says.

The Pope then goes on to consider the "epoch-making" question of migration. "Every migrant", he says, "is a human person who, as such, possesses fundamental, inalienable rights that must be respected by everyone and in every circumstance".

The Pontiff dedicates the final paragraph of this chapter to the "strongly felt need" for a reform of the United Nations and of "economic institutions and international finance. ... There is", he says, "urgent need of a true world political authority" with "effective power".

The sixth and final chapter is entitled "The Development of Peoples and Technology". In it the Holy Father warns against the "Promethean presumption" of humanity thinking "it can re-create itself through the 'wonders' of technology". Technology, he says, cannot have "absolute freedom".

"A particularly crucial battleground in today's cultural struggle between the supremacy of technology and human moral responsibility is the field of bioethics", says Benedict XVI, and he adds: "Reason without faith is doomed to flounder in an illusion of its own omnipotence". The social question has, he says, become an anthropological question. Research on embryos and cloning is "being promoted in today's highly disillusioned culture which believes it has mastered every mystery". The Pope likewise expresses his concern over a possible "systematic eugenic programming of births".

In the conclusion to his Encyclical Benedict XVI highlights how "development needs Christians with their arms raised towards God in prayer", just as it needs "love and forgiveness, self-denial, acceptance of others, justice and peace".

SOURCE: V.I.S. - Vatican Information Service

Blessed Adrian Fortescue

8 JULY 2009. Today is the optional memorial of Blessed Adrian Fortescue, husband and father, lay Dominican, and martyr.

Born around 1476, Blessed Adrian Fortescue, the son of Sir John Fortescue of Punsborne, Hertfordshire (England) was made a Knight of Bath in 1503, and apparently was regarded highly by King Henry VIII. Some sources say that Blessed Adrian took part in the Wars of England against France in 1513 and 1523, while other sources make his participation in those campaigns more passive. Blessed Adrian was noted for his personal piety, which is evidenced by his Book of Hours, which survives to this day, which includes hand written devotional maxims.

Blessed Adrian, besides being highly regarded at one time by King Henry VIII, was also the cousin of Anne Boleyn, and was present when she was crowned Queen of England in 1533.

Being twice married, Blessed Adrian had seven children. He became a lay Dominican in 1533.

In 1539 Blessed Adrian was accused (some sources say "attainted") of high treason without trial by an act of Parliament. The same act of Parliament also attainted 49 others with the general commonality of being opposed to Henry VIII's ecclesiastical policies. Blessed Adrian was beheaded on Tower Hill in London on 9 July 1539.

The Order of St. John of Jerusalem has considered Blessed Adrian a martyr and promoted devotion to him since the early seventeenth century. Pope Leo XIII declared him Blessed on 13 May 1895. Blessed Adrian Fortescue's place of burial is unknown.

The Dominican supplement to the Liturgy of the Hours provides this:
After King Henry VIII broke with Rome, Sir Adrian observed the obligations of his religion and served the king as faithfully as he could. Although arrested in 1534, no charge was made, nor was any reason given for his subsequent release. In 1539 he was again arrested and placed in the Tower. The sentence of death was passed upon him and he was beheaded on July 8 or 9, 1539.

O God,
you specially strengthened Blessed Adrian
with a wonderful spirit of holiness and courage.
Hear the prayers of your people
and from his renowned example
may we learn to be obedient to you
rather than to human authority.
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.


IMAGE: www.Saints.SQPN.com

07 July 2009

Caritas in Veritate!

The long awaited (and delayed) social encyclical of Pope Benedict XVI was released today. A full version of the encyclical can be found at Whispers in the Loggia. In the coming days I will be posting on this, but at the moment this excerpt from an interview with Supreme Knight Carl Anderson today seems most appropriate:
Anderson also responded to some analyses of the encyclical that try to describe it as promoting either a liberal or conservative political viewpoint by saying, “I think that’s precisely the wrong way to look at the encyclical, and I think that Benedict would be very disappointed if that’s the kind of analysis we give it.”

“What we ought to be doing is reading the encyclical and seeing what we can learn from it, what we might change as a way of doing our work as a result from it, and not to see whether or not it validates one position,” he added.

Anderson explained that when we divide the encyclical or use it to justify one position over another, “we fall into an error that I think Benedict himself would be the first one to attempt to correct.”

He observed that the issues dealt with by the Pope, such as defense of marriage, protection of human life, and a call to reform the United Nations, are not really questions of the political right or left. Rather, they flow from a comprehensive and consistent understanding of the human person.

In addition, Anderson noted that many Americans may see the Pope’s call for “just redistribution” as a left-leaning proposal, but when viewed in a global perspective, the idea takes on a new light.

“When you look in Africa where you see dictators that are presidents of countries that retire from office with billions of dollars in their Swiss bank accounts while their people are living on one dollar a day, is that just redistribution? Is that a question of the left or is that a question of the right?”

Explaining that these topics are human issues rather than those belonging to any political party, Anderson said that discussions of right and left have no place in analyzing the Pope’s encyclical and putting it into practice.

“I think Christians, particularly Catholics, have to move beyond that if they want to truly see with the eyes of the Gospel,” he told CNA. “Because there was a Gospel before there was a left and a right, and there will be a Gospel after.”
SOURCE: Catholic News Agency (http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/new.php?n=16487, retrieved 7 July 2009)

Blessed Pope Benedict XI

7 JULY 2009. Today is the optional memorial of Blessed Pope Benedict XI. Born Nicola Boccasini, in 1240, Pope Benedict XI had a short pontificate lasting only eight months from October 22, 1303 until July 7, 1304. Pope Benedict XI was a Dominican and, prior to becoming pope, was made Master of the Order in 1296.

Pope Benedict XI took the papal throne in a period of great tumult. Prior to his election as pope, his predecessor, Pope Boniface VIII, was facing great adversity. King Philip IV of France and Boniface engaged in an open conflict, resulting in Philip's excommunication by Pope Boniface VIII, and Philip slapping Boniface, who was then beaten and later died. Upon becoming pope, Benedict XI removed the excommunication of Philip IV and restored peace with the French royal court. However, Benedict XI did not lift the excommunication of Guillaume de Nogaret, who was responsible for the attack on Pope Boniface VIII.

When Pope Benedict XI died after only eight months as pope, there was suspicion that he had been poisoned by Guillaume de Nogaret, but no direct evidence was ever found linking Nogaret to the death of Benedict XI.

Pope Benedict XI is probably best remembered for his volume of sermons and commentary on the Gospel of Matthew, the Book of Psalms, the Book of Job, and John's Apocalypse.

POST SCRIPT - Pope Benedict X is now considered to be an antipope. At the time, however, the antipope status of Benedict X was not recognized, so Nicola Boccasini took the papal name of Benedict XI, rather than Benedict X. This advanced the lineage of all future Benedicts by one. So, Pope Benedict XI through the current Benedict XVI, are in fact the tenth through fifteenth pontiffs to officially use the name Benedict.

IMAGE: Wikimedia Commons

04 July 2009

Our Lady of Good Counsel

4 JULY 2009. While today is not the feast of Our Lady of Good Counsel (April 26), Saturday is Our Lady's day, and today we in the United States celebrate Independence Day, commemorating the birth of our Republic--formed on the basis of tolerance and freedom for all.

Our world, and our nation, are far from perfect. While we in the United States are the product of high ideals, we as Americans often fail to live up to those ideals. So on this holiday that celebrates the founding of our nation, let us invoke Our Lady of Good Counsel as the intermediary and intercessor for all who serve in public office, especially at the highest levels:

God of wisdom and love,
you have sent your Son Jesus to be the light of the world,
and continue to send your Holy Spirit among us
to guide us into the way of truth.

Open our hearts to your word

and let us ponder your actions among us.
Give us your Spirit of wisdom and knowledge,
of understanding and counsel.
With Mary, may we rejoice in your gifts,
and walk in the way of truth and love.

With all your people on earth and in eternity,

we ask this prayer through our Lord Jesus Christ,
in the unity of your loving Spirit,
one holy God, for ever and ever.


01 July 2009

Blessed Junipero Serra

1 JULY 2009. Today, in the United States, is the optional memorial of Blessed Junipero Serra, priest.

The American Revolution began in the east in 1776, but at the same time on the other side of the continent, the catholic missions were spreading into what would become the State of California. That same year, 1776, the Franciscans founded Mission San Juan Capistrano, which is famous now for its annually returning swallows. In fact, San Juan Capistrano was the seventh of nine missions established under Father Serra.

Father Junipero Serra was born in Spain on the island of Majorca on November 24, 1713. In 1730 Serra joined the Franciscan order and was soon noted for his academic abilities. Even before his ordination to the priesthood, he was appointed as lector of philosophy. Father Serra later received a Doctor of Theology and was a professor at the Lullian University at Palma and the missionary college of San Fernando, Mexico. But, Father Serra suddenly gave up his academics and, following his yearning, set out for the new world to convert the native peoples to Christianity.

After arriving in Vera Cruz, Mexico, Father Serra and a companion walked the 250 miles to Mexico City. Along the way Father Serra injured his leg (it is told his leg became infected from an insect bite) and the injury plagued him the rest of his life. For 18 years Father Serra worked to establish missions in Central Mexico and the Baja Peninsula.

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia:
At his own request Father Serra was assigned to the Sierra Gorda Indian Missions. He served there for nine years, part of the time as superior. He learned the language of the Pame Indians and translated the catechism into their language. Recalled to Mexico, he became famous as a most fervent and effective preacher of missions. His zeal frequently led him to employ extraordinary means in order to move the people to penance. He would pound his breast with a stone while in the pulpit, scourge himself, or apply a lighted torch to his bare chest. In 1767 he was appointed superior of a band of fifteen Franciscans for the Indian Missions of Lower California.
In 1769 Father Serra joined a land expedition going north into California. The first mission founded in California was at San Diego. In San Diego food ran short and the mission was in danger of being cancelled. Father Serra and another friar, vowing to stay with the native people began a novena in preparation for St. Joseph's Day, March 19, the scheduled day of departure. And, on that day the relief ship arrived at San Diego.

Other missions followed: Monterey/Carmel (1770); San Antonio and San Gabriel (1771); San Luís Obispo (1772); San Francisco and San Juan Capistrano (1776); Santa Clara (1777); San Buenaventura (1782). Twelve more were founded after Serra’s death.

In 1773, Father Serra made the long trip to Mexico City to settle differences that he had with the expedition's military commander. Of the 32 articles that Father Serra brought, all but two were decided in his favor. These included the famous "Regulation" which protected the native peoples and missions. In fact, this regulation is said to have been the basis for the first significant legislation in California, a "Bill of Rights" for Native Americans.

Because the Spanish considered the Native Americans to be living inhuman lives, Father Serra and the other friars were made their guardians. Father Serra kept the Native Americans at the missions, lest they be corrupted to return to their non-Christian manner of living. While Father Serra was criticized by some "moderns" for his paternal treatment of the native peoples, their grief at his death was a witness to their love for him. Father Serra died in Montery, California on August 28, 1784 and is buried at Mission San Carlo Borromeo, in Carmel.

All of Father Serra's missionary life was marked by struggle with physical ailments, cold and hunger, and unsympathetic military commanders. Through this, Father Serra managed to hold on to an unquenchable zeal, which he fed by nightly prayer, often from midnight to dawn. In his missionary work, Father Serra baptized more than 6,000 and confirmed more than 5,000.

Besides extraordinary fortitude, Father Serra was most known for his zeal, love of mortification, self-denial, and absolute confidence in God. His executive abilities has been especially noted by non-Catholic writers. There is a granite monument erected to him at Montery (the patron of which was a non-Catholic). A bronze statute of heroic size represents him as the apostolic preacher in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco. And, in 1884 the California Legislature passed a concurrent resolution making 29 August of that year, the centennial of Father Serra's burial, a legal holiday.

In 1988, Pope John Paul II beatified Father Serra.

IMAGE: serraus.org

The July Heat

This month is very hot in North Florida. Today, as I left the office, my car thermometer read 104 degrees Fahrenheit. And, today's humidity was about 92% (maybe an exaggeration, but it sure felt like it), making it feel hotter than it actually was--imagine wrapping yourself in a very warm, wet blanket and then going outside to do your usual activities.

This is the time of year where the anticipation of something to come starts to pull at us, but today all we have is the heat. We have celebrated the Resurrection of Our Lord, Pentecost, Trinity Sunday, and the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart. Those liturgical celebrations are now behind us. But, we know that other great feasts are ahead, so we begin to feel a sense of pulling--a grasping, tugging at our soul. So we offer up this period of perseverance to Our Lord.

Perseverance. Many saints have said they suffered periods of spiritual dryness--a lack of response from God. Recently, Mother Theresa's writings were referenced extensively in the media for describing this dark night of the soul. Does this show that persons who so suffer are less faithful than others? Does it cause us to doubt that there is a God, if we do not receive the spiritual refreshment that we expect from our prayer and the sacraments? NO!

Quite the contrary, those who persevere in God's commands through the dark night of the soul are made more perfect in their union with Christ on the cross. To suffer, but to still persevere--to not receive the reward, but still obey the commands--to struggle, and not know when the struggle will end--is a most tremendous gift from Our Lord. Jesus suffered for our sins in ways that we in the Western World find particularly difficult to imagine, given our high standards of living. The true humility of Christ is beyond our ability to comprehend. Yet, Christ's own suffering and humility were the gifts of sacrifice that God gave to us sinner by sending his Only Son, Our Lord. To share that gift of suffering, while sometimes a seemingly undue, unfair, and terrible hardship (in merely human eyes), is actually instead a great gift that so many of our Saints have persevered and been made holy by.

So, in this period of heat and dryness--as we wait for the turning of the Liturgical calendar to bring us the seasons of Advent and Christmas that lay ahead--let us reflect on the gift of this season of Ordinary Time. Rejoice that this time has been given us to dwell more certainly on our Love for God. Take heart in the examples of the saints in living lives of perseverance in God through their difficulties. Love our Lord even more than you thought possible in this season!

Pray to persevere.