30 September 2009

Relational Mysteries of the Rosary: Who is the god?

30 SEPTEMBER 2009. This post will stretch beyond the more usual examination of the Church's saints and travel through the liturgical calendar. I read a news piece that touched a sense of sadness in me today that I wanted to take a moment to share, for out of sadness can come joy--where the lessons learned are, indeed, learned well.

The news story (found here) reports that a homosexual activist group has designed, and may be in fact promoting, a variant of the Holy Rosary of Our Lady that is centered on what the group calls the "relational mysteries." The most troubling part of the Catholic News Agency (CNA) story is as follows:

According to the California Catholic Daily, [a doctoral student Eugene] McMullan and a Rev. Jim Mitulski taught a two-part class on “Praying the Queer Rosary” at an event for the New Spirit/MCC Church of Berkeley. The announcement for the class said it is “based on stories from the bible [sic] which depict Queer Families or Relationships.”

Another event was hosted at Berkeley’s Newman Hall – Holy Spirit Parish, which announced a Rosary “in solidarity with LGBT Catholics” facilitated by McMullan and Mike Campos, another doctoral student at the Graduate Theological Union.

The “Relational Mysteries” are listed as Fidelity - Ruth’s pledge to Naomi; Grief – The Parting of David and Jonathan; Intercession – Esther intercedes for her people; Restoration – the raising of Lazarus; and Discipleship – the two encounter Christ on the road to Emmaus.

It is scandalous that the Holy Rosary is being used by some to support, nominally through prayer (although the authentic intent of that prayer--true holiness--is questionable), a lifestyle that is at odds with the teachings of the Church. How terrible it is that this group has perverted a revered and ancient form of prayer--relied upon by millions through the centuries to devote themselves in humility to God, through the intercession of the Holy Virgin,--to celebrate themselves and their agenda. Who is the god that these people worship? If it is indeed the one, true, Holy God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, there is no need for such individuals to invent a perversion of the Rosary to make a heartfelt plea to Him.

Even those whose lives are mired in the context of sin can lift themselves to Christ--picking up their crosses each day--through prayer and authentically seek to love and honor God and follow Christ. No one among us is without sin. No one among us is without the need to cry to Christ for compassion, mercy, forgiveness, and love. No one among us does not long for salvation.

So, why has this group made a model for itself a perversion of prayer? Because they are, in my view (and not being any more educated on the matter than what I have read through CNA), praying not to God, but making themselves gods. Who is more important, Christ or the homosexual lifestyle (and its acceptance) to these people? Apparently their own agenda preempts authentic worship.

In my sadness I would ask that any who read this pray for the souls involved in this scandal. They must have at their core some good will and authentic intent. They are due the respect that each of us is due as creatures of our Loving Creator. I do not intend to attack anyone, nor will any comments be permitted that attack anyone, because as Christians we are called to live and love others in a way that recognizes that basic human dignity in all.

Please join your prayers with mine for these souls.

27 September 2009


27 SEPTEMBER 2009. Today's readings may be difficult to hear. In the first reading, the Spirit bestowed on Moses is divided among the elders and they begin to preach. This preaching by some leads to enmity among the followers of Moses. So too, in the Gospel there are others outside the company of Jesus that are acting in His name, which causes enmity with the Apostles.

How often do different peoples today invoke the name of God to war and hurt others?

In the second reading we hear how the riches of the world are the downfall of the rich. How many of us, especially in the United States and the Western world, are rich beyond all comparison to those in the world who are the most needy? Will our riches be our downfall, or will we follow Christ's example of radical love? We are challenged to grow in Christ and die to ourselves each day. But, do we follow faithfully that path?

Further, in the Gospel we hear how those who have lead children to sin would be better off to have great millstones tied around their necks and be thrown into the sea. And, we are told that whatever leads us to sin, even if it is a part of our body, should be severed from us.
If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed than with two hands to go into Gehenna, into the unquenchable fire.
Does this apply to parts of the Body of Christ, we believers on earth? Think about our media culture--do we allow, by our action or inaction, children to be led to sin? How difficult is the task today, in our world, to follow Christ's call? Has the enmity of division among believers broken us into groups incapable of being the true body of Christ on earth? No!

While life is difficult, our salvation is Christ! The Love of God is beyond all the damage that humanity can inflict. We can never get too big for God. He continues to be available to all--loving us, calling us, and offering us the eternal reward if we, but follow Him. Through the Church, we have that path to God.

22 September 2009

233 Martyrs of Valencia, Spain

22 SEPTEMBER 2009. Today the Church remembers the 233 martyrs of Valencia Spain (referred to collectively as Jose Aparicio Sanz and 232 companions), beatified by the great Pope John Paul II on March 11, 2001.

Experts believe that in the early months of 1936 more than 10,000 priests, brothers, nuns, and Catholic lay persons were killed in the Spanish Civil War, as leftists attempted to wipe out what they saw as the Catholic resistance. The Spanish Civil War (1936-39) pitted the progressive government, supported by communists, anarchists, socialists, labor groups and other leftist causes, against a Nationalist movement, which was attempting to keep intact authoritarian Spanish society. Eventually, the Nationalists, led by General Francisco Franco, prevailed. However, the horrible, bloody conflict was particularly costly for Catholics in Spain.

The written material collected in support of the beatification on March 11, 2001, ran more than 4,000 pages. This material offers stirring accounts of the heroic and virtuous conduct of the martyrs. For example, seminarians who were shot left behind a note scrawled on a chocolate wrapper: "We die forgiving those who are taking away our life and offering it for the Christian ordering of the world."

In his homily on March 11, 2001, this is how the late Holy Father described the martyrs:
They were men and women of all ages and states: diocesan priests, men and women religious, the fathers and mothers of families, young lay people. They were killed for being Christians, for their faith in Christ, for being active members of the Church. Before dying, all of them, as stated in the canonical processes for their declaration as martyrs, forgave their executioners from their heart.

The list of those who are being raised to the glory of the altars today for confessing their faith and dying for it is long. There are 38 priests from the Archdiocese of Valencia, with a large group of men and women, members of Catholic Action, also from Valencia; 18 Dominicans and two priests from the Archdiocese of Zaragoza; four Friars Minor and six Friars Minor Conventual; 12 Friars Minor Capuchin with five Capuchin women religious and a Discalced Augustinian; 11 Jesuits with a young lay man; 30 Salesians and two Daughters of Mary Help of Christians; 19 Third Order Capuchins of Our Lady of Sorrows with a laywoman cooperator; one Priest of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (Dehonian); the chaplain of La Salle College of Bonanova, Barcelona, with five Brothers of the Christian Schools; 24 Carmelite Sisters of Charity; one Servite Sister; six Sisters of the Pious Schools with two laywomen cooperators from Uruguay, who are the first blesseds of this Latin American country; two Little Sisters of the Abandoned Elderly, three Third Order Capuchins of the Holy Family; a Claretian Missionary Sister; and lastly, Francisco Castelló y Aleu, a young member of Catholic Action in Lleida.

The testimonies we have received speak of honest, exemplary people whose martyrdom sealed lives that were interwoven with work, prayer and religious commitment in their families, parishes and religious congregations. Many of them in life had already enjoyed a reputation for holiness among their countrymen. It could be said that their exemplary conduct prepared them in a way for the supreme confession of faith that is martyrdom.

How can we not be deeply moved at hearing the accounts of their martyrdom? The elderly María Teresa Ferragud was arrested at the age of 83 with her four contemplative religious daughters. On 25 October 1936, the feast of Christ the King, she asked to accompany her daughters to martyrdom and to be executed last so that she might encourage them to die for the faith. Her death made such an impression on her executioners that they exclaimed: "This is a true saint". No less edifying was the witness of the other martyrs, such as the young Francisco Castelló y Aleu, 22 years old, a chemist by profession and a member of Catholic Action. Realizing the gravity of the situation, he did not want to hide but to offer his youth as a loving sacrifice to God and his brethren; he left us three letters, an example of strength, generosity, serenity and happiness, written a few moments before his death to his sisters, his spiritual director and his fiancée. Or the newly ordained priest, Germán Gozalbo, 23 years old, who was shot only two months after celebrating his first Mass, after endless humiliations and abuses.

How many examples of serenity and Christian hope! All these new blesseds and many other anonymous martyrs paid with their blood for the hatred of the faith and of the Church which was unleashed by the religious persecution and the outbreak of the Civil War, the immense tragedy that Spain experienced in the 20th century. During those terrible years many priests, religious and lay people were killed simply because they were active members of the Church. The new blesseds being raised to the altars today were not involved in political or ideological struggles, nor did they want to be concerned with them. This is well known to many of you who are their relatives and are taking part in this beatification today with great joy. They died solely for religious motives. Now, by this solemn proclamation of their martyrdom, the Church wishes to recognize these men and women as examples of courage and constancy in faith, helped by God's grace. For us they are models of consistency with the truth they professed, while at the same time they honour the noble Spanish people and the Church.
The words of our late Holy Father cannot but touch our hearts. If we allow the Holy Spirit to fill us, to infuse our hearts with the very love of God, Himself, we cannot but have our hearts of stone softened and remade into an image of the Sacred Heart of Christ--open to hurt, and offered-up to Our Lord as an offering for those in our world. That is how these Spanish martyrs died, offering themselves to God and forgiving their executioners.

Blessed Jose Aparicio Sanz and 232 companions, pray for us!

21 September 2009

Litany of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

Christ, hear us.
Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.

God, the Father of Heaven,
have mercy on us.
God, the Son, Redeemer of the World,
have mercy on us.
God, the Holy Ghost,
have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, one God,
have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, Son of the Eternal Father,
have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, formed in the womb of the Virgin Mother by the Holy Ghost,
have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, united substantially with the word of God,
have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, of infinite majesty,
have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, holy temple of God,
have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, tabernacle of the Most High,
have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, house of God and gate of heaven,
have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, glowing furnace of charity,
have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, vessel of justice and love,
have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, full of goodness and love,
have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, abyss of all virtues,
have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, most worthy of all praise,
have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, king and center of all hearts,
have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, in whom are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge,
have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, in whom dwelleth all the fullness of the Divinity,
have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, in whom the Father is well pleased,
have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, of whose fullness we have all received,
have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, desire of the everlasting hills,
have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, patient and rich in mercy,
have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, rich to all who invoke Thee,
have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, fount of life and holiness,
have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, propitiation for our sins,
have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, saturated with revilings,
have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, crushed for our iniquities,
have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, made obedient unto death,
have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, pierced with a lance,
have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, source of all consolation,
have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, our life and resurrection,
have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, our peace and reconciliation,
have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, victim for our sins,
have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, salvation of those who hope in Thee,
have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, hope of those who die in Thee,
have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, delight of all saints,
have mercy on us.

Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world,
spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world,
graciously hear us, O Lord,
Lamb of God who takest away the sins of the world,
have mercy on us.

V. Jesus, meek and humble of Heart.
R. Make our hearts like unto Thine.

Let us pray,

Almighty and everlasting God, look upon the Heart of Thy well-beloved Son and upon the acts of praise and satisfaction which He renders unto Thee in the name of sinners; and do Thou, in Thy great goodness, grant pardon to them who seek Thy mercy, in the name of the same Thy Son, Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with Thee, world without end.


18 September 2009

What is needed urgently: Prayer for Government Leaders

God of power and might, wisdom and justice,
through you authority is rightly administered,
laws are enacted, and judgment is decreed.
Assist with your spirit of counsel and fortitude
the President and other government leaders of these United

May they always seek
the ways of righteousness, justice and mercy.
Grant that they may be enabled by your powerful protection
to lead our country with honesty and integrity.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.


Saint Juan Macias

18 SEPTEMBER 2009. Today we celebrate the memorial of Saint Juan Macias, a lay brother who was born in Spain and evangelized Peru through his prayer and good works.

Brother Macias was born at Ribera del Fresno, Estramadura, Spain on 2 March 1585. At the age of 4 he was orphaned. Then, raised by an uncle, the Saint was trained as a young man to be a shepherd. At the age of 25, Juan Macias went to work for a wealthy business man who offered him the opportunity to travel to South America. Although it took some time, he traveled from Spain to South America, finally arriving in Lima, Peru where he observed the work of the Dominican missionaries there. Apparently, Brother Macias had a vision some twenty years earlier that commanded him to go to Peru. So, upon arriving in Lima and witnessing the work of the Dominicans he expressed a strong desire to join the Order.

However, first in Peru, having worked as a shepherd in Spain, Juan Macias worked with the local shepherds on the outskirts of town. During this time of work as a shepherd, Juan Macias was known for his piety, and eventually gave all that he owned to the poor. On 23 January 1622 Brother Macias was admitted to the Order, at the friary of Santa Maria Magdalena, as a cooperator brother and accepted the habit. He professed his final vows a year later on 25 January 1623.

For 20 years Brother Macias was the friary porter. He strongly desired a solitary life, once confessing this desire to Father Abbot Ramirez, but his faithfulness to his vow of obedience overcame his natural inclinations. As the friary porter, Brother Macias was continually helping the poor and needy that daily arrived at the friary's gates. He provided material assistance and was known too for his good and kind counsel. While the poor and needy daily flocked to Brother Macias at the friary gates, he was also sought out by the rich and powerful for his counsel.

In addition to his work as the friary porter, Brother Macias was known for his visions and endlessly praying the rosary. He offered all of his prayers for the release of the souls in purgatory, and tradition tells that more than a million souls were freed with the assistance of his prayer. Saint Martin de Porres was a contemporary and friend of Brother Macias.

Saint Juan Macias died on 16 September 1645 at the age of 60. In 1837 he was beatified by Pope Pius VII. Several miracles were attributed to Saint Juan Macias both during his life and after his death. Pope Paul VI canonized Saint Juan Macias in 1975.
IMAGE: Statue of Saint Juan Macias.

17 September 2009

Man vs. God: The Myth

17 SEPTEMBER 2009. In the weekend edition of the Wall Street Journal for September 12 and 13, the paper ran what (from the title) I hoped to be an insightful and thoughtful debate of God's role in the life of humanity today. Indeed, the premise of the essay seemed promising:
We commissioned Karen Armstrong and Richard Dawkins to respond independently to the question "Where does evolution leave God?" Neither knew what the other would say. Here are the results.
However, it did not take even a complete read of the two responses to recognize that something essential was missing--a protagonist for the faithful--for God. Dawkins, being Dawkins, said that God has never existed. His essay is littered with poor reasoning in support of his unbelief. But, worse, is that opposite Dawkins (where one would supposedly find the opposite view--that of the faithful), was a piece by Karen Armstrong who, among other things, boils down the bible to a type of primitive psychology and condenses religion into merely a human panacea to address the hardships of life with a degree of serenity.

Where is God? Where is the beautiful vision of faith and love and salvation that so many billions of us around the world experience through the sacraments and the Church?

All of that is sadly missing. The paper should have described the two pieces in this fashion:
Two prominent thinkers discuss how Darwin's theory of evolution has influenced their view that God does not exist, one takes a limited scientific approach and the other places the idea of God in the context of socially addressing a sense of comfort to combat human suffering.
While a fine publication for business and political news, the Wall Street Journal really failed to provide a thoughtful and balanced essay that lives up the standards that we readers have come to expect. I was truly disappointed.

16 September 2009

Act of Faith

O my God, I firmly believe that you are one
God in three divine Persons, Father, Son,
and Holy Spirit; I believe that your divine
Son became man and died for our sins, and
that he will come to judge the living and
the dead. I believe these and all the truths
which the Holy Catholic Church teaches,
because you revealed them,
who can neither deceive nor be deceived.

IMAGE: Saint Dominic (the eighth way of prayer).

13 September 2009


13 SEPTEMBER 2009. Today the Church celebrates the twenty-fourth Sunday in ordinary time. Today's readings challenge us in two ways. First, we must hand ourselves over faithfully to God, trusting in Him, and die to our own selfish, human desires. The Book of Isaiah tells us to give "my back to those who beat me . . . ." (Is. 50:6) And, in the words of Christ: "take up [your] cross, and follow me." (Mk. 8:34) Second, our faith must be manifest in our works, for faith alone without works of mercy for others is not faith at all; it is dead. (cf. Jas 2:17)


Father in heaven, Creator of all,
look down upon your people
in their moments of need,
for you alone are the source of our peace.
Bring us to the dignity which distinguishes
the poor in spirit
and show us how great is the call to serve,
that we may share in the peace of Christ
who offered his life in the service of all.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.


09 September 2009

Saint Peter Claver

9 SEPTEMBER 2009. Today the Church celebrates the memorial of Saint Peter Claver a Jesuit priest and missionary. Canonized in 1888 by Pope Leo XIII, Saint Peter Claver's story is remarkable.

Saint Peter Claver was born in 1581, the son of a Catalonian farmer. He was educated at the University of Barcelona, and at the age of 20 joined the Jesuit novitiate. During his studies, Saint Peter Claver was continually exhorted to evangelize the Spanish possessions in the new world (it is said that the door keeper at Saint Peter Claver's college received a vision of the Saint's future from God and continued to exhort him to go to the new world).

In 1601 Saint Peter Claver landed in Cartagena, where for more than 40 years he ministered to the needs of the Africans that were being hideously sold and trafficked there as slaves bound for the United States. At the time of Saint Peter Claver's work in Cartagena, it was the hub of the slave trade for the U.S., which had already been in existence for 100 years. As many as 10,000 slaves from the coast of Africa were brought into Cartagena each year. It is said the one-third to half of the slaves died in transit to Cartagena, as the conditions on the slave ships was so inhuman and terrible. Pope Paul III condemned the slave trade and Pope Pius IX referred to the slave trade as "supreme villainy," but it continued to flourish.

Each time a slave ship reached Cartagena, Saint Peter Claver would enter its hold to minister to the slave captives. After the slaves were herded out of the ship, Saint Peter Claver would continue to work among them, going into the pens where they were kept, to offer them medicine and food and to tend their other material needs. As the minister to those most in need, Saint Peter Claver was known for often saying: "We must speak to them with our hands before we try to speak to them with our lips."

With help from interpreters, Saint Peter Claver gave basic instructions in religion to all those he encountered who were being hideously bought and sold as the possessions of others. During his 40 years of ministry in Cartagena, the Saint instructed and baptized more than 300,000 slaves.

Saint Peter Claver publicly declared himself to be "the slave of the slaves forever."

Beyond his ministry to the slaves, Saint Peter Claver was also known as the apostle of Cartagena, preaching in the city square and giving missions to sailors and traders. However, during those missions, he avoided accepting the hospitality of planters and slave owners and, instead, lodged in the slave quarters. In fact, Saint Peter Claver became a moral force in Cartagena that slowly improved the state of the slaves there. But, his strong stands against the oppression and mistreatment of the African peoples made many enemies for Saint Peter Claver.

Not only were those directly involved in the slave trade his enemies, but Saint Peter Claver was often accused of indiscreet zeal, and of profaning the Sacraments by giving them to Africans, whom many at the time said did not possess a soul. Fashionable women of Cartagena even refused to enter the churches where the Saint assembled African peoples for instruction and the Sacraments. Even Saint Peter Claver's superiors were influenced by the many criticisms that reached them about the zealot missionary to the slaves. But, Saint Peter Claver persisted in his ministry; forsaken by men, Saint Peter Claver was sustained by God.

After a long illness, Saint Peter Claver died on September 8, 1654. Although the city's leaders had been aggravated by Saint Peter Claver's constant entreaties on behalf of the enslaved Africans, they nonetheless ordered that Saint Peter Claver be given a burial at public expense and with great pomp. Only after his death did the people of the city truly recognize the magnitude of the missionary work that Saint Peter Claver had undertaken for so many years among them, to those most in need.

It is said that many came to believe that God only spared Cartagena from disaster because of Saint Peter Claver's presence.


God of mercy and love,
you offer all peoples
the dignity of sharing in your life.
By the example and prayers of Saint Peter Claver,
strengthen us to overcome all racial hatreds
and to love each other as brothers and sisters.

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.