30 October 2009

Litania Sanctorum (Litany of Saints)

Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

Christ, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.

Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

Christ, 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 Spirit,
have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, one God,
have mercy on us.

Holy Mary,
pray for us.
Holy Mother of God,
pray for us.
Holy Virgin of virgins,
pray for us.
St. Michael,
pray for us.
St. Gabriel,
pray for us.
St. Raphael,
pray for us.
All you holy Angels and Archangels,
pray for us.
All you holy orders of blessed Spirits,
pray for us.
St. John the Baptist,
pray for us.
St. Joseph,
pray for us.
All you holy Patriarchs and Prophets,
pray for us.

St. Peter,
pray for us.
St. Paul,
pray for us.
St. Andrew,
pray for us.
St. James,
pray for us.
St. John,
pray for us.
St. Thomas,
pray for us.
St. James,
pray for us.
St. Philip,
pray for us.
St. Bartholomew,
pray for us.
St. Matthew,
pray for us.
St. Simon,
pray for us.
St. Thaddeus,
pray for us.
St. Matthias,
pray for us.
St. Barnabas,
pray for us.
St. Luke,
pray for us.
St. Mark,
pray for us.
All you holy Apostles and Evangelists,
pray for us.
All you holy Disciples of the Lord,
pray for us.
All you holy Innocents,
pray for us.

St. Stephen,
pray for us.
St. Lawrence,
pray for us.
St. Vincent,
pray for us.
Sts. Fabian and Sebastian,
pray for us.
Sts. John and Paul,
pray for us.
Sts. Cosmas and Damian,
pray for us.
Sts. Gervase and Protase,
pray for us.
All you holy Martyrs,
pray for us.

St. Sylvester,
pray for us.
St. Gregory,
pray for us.
St. Ambrose,
pray for us.
St. Augustine,
pray for us.
St. Jerome,
pray for us.
St. Martin,
pray for us.
St. Nicholas,
pray for us.
All you holy Bishops and Confessors,
pray for us.
All you holy Doctors,
pray for us.

St. Anthony,
pray for us.
St. Benedict,
pray for us.
St. Bernard,
pray for us.
St. Dominic,
pray for us.
St. Francis,
pray for us.
All you holy Priests and Levites,
pray for us.
All you holy Monks and Hermits,
pray for us.

St. Mary Magdalene,
pray for us.
St. Agatha,
pray for us.
St. Lucy,
pray for us.
St. Agnes,
pray for us.
St. Cecilia,
pray for us.
St. Catherine,
pray for us.
St. Anastasia,
pray for us.
All you holy Virgins and Widows,
pray for us.

All you Holy Men and Women, Saints of God,
make intercession for us.

Be merciful,
spare us, O Lord.

Be merciful,
graciously hear us, O Lord.

From all evil, O Lord,
deliver us.
From all sin,
deliver us.
From your wrath,
deliver us.
From sudden and unprovided death,
deliver us.
From the snares of the devil,
deliver us.
From anger, and hatred, and all ill-will,
deliver us.
From the spirit of fornication,
deliver us.
From lightning and tempest,
deliver us.
From the scourge of earthquake,
deliver us.
From plague, famine and war,
deliver us.
From everlasting death,
deliver us.
Through the mystery of your holy Incarnation,
deliver us.
Through your Coming,
deliver us.
Through your Nativity,
deliver us.
Through your Baptism and holy Fasting,
deliver us.
Through your Cross and Passion,
deliver us.
Through your Death and Burial,
deliver us.
Through your holy Resurrection,
deliver us.
Through your admirable Ascension,
deliver us.
Through the coming of the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete,
deliver us.
In the day of judgment,
deliver us.

We sinners,
we beseech you, hear us.
That you would spare us,
we beseech you, hear us.
That you would pardon us,
we beseech you, hear us.
That you would bring us to true penance,
we beseech you, hear us.
That you would deign to govern and preserve your holy Church,
we beseech you, hear us.
That you would deign to preserve our Apostolic Prelate,
and all orders of the Church in holy religion,
we beseech you, hear us.
That you would deign to humble the enemies of Holy Church,
we beseech you, hear us.
That you would deign to give peace
and true concord to Christian kings and princes,
we beseech you, hear us.
That you would deign to grant peace and unity to all Christian people,
we beseech you, hear us.
That you would deign to call back to the unity of the Church
all who have strayed from the truth
and lead all unbelievers to the light of the Gospel,
we beseech you, hear us.
That you would deign to confirm and preserve us in your holy service,
we beseech you, hear us.
That you would lift up our minds to heavenly desires,
we beseech you, hear us.
That you would render eternal blessings to all our benefactors,
we beseech you, hear us.
That you would deliver our souls and the souls
of our brethren, relations and benefactors, from eternal damnation,
we beseech you, hear us.
That you would deign to give and preserve the fruits of the earth,
we beseech you, hear us.
That you would deign to grant eternal rest to all the faithful departed,
we beseech you, hear us.
That you would deign graciously to hear us,
we beseech you, hear us.
Son of God,
we beseech you, hear us.

Lamb of God, who take away the sins of the world,
spare us, O Lord.

Lamb of God, who take away the sins of the world,
graciously hear us, O Lord.

Lamb of God, who take away the sins of the world,
have mercy on us.

Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.

Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.

Lord, have mercy.

Our Father, etc. (inaudibly).

V. And lead us not into temptation.
R. But deliver us from evil.

Psalm 69

V. Deign, O Lord, to rescue me; O Lord, make haste to help me
R. Let them be put to shame and confounded who seek my life.

V. Let them be turned back in disgrace who desire my ruin.
R. Let them retire in their shame who say to me, "Aha, aha!"

V. But may all who seek you exult and be glad in you,
R. And may those who love your salvation say ever, "God be glorified!"

V. But I am afflicted and poor; O God, hasten to me!
R. You are my help and my deliverer; O Lord, hold not back!

V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.
R. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

V. Save your servants.
R. Who trust in you, O my God.

V. Be a tower of strength for us, O Lord,
R. Against the attack of the enemy.

V. Let not the enemy prevail against us.
R. And let not the son of evil dare to harm us.

V. O Lord, deal not with us according to our sins.
R. Neither requite us according to our iniquities.

V. Let us pray for our Sovereign Pontiff Benedict XVI.
R. The Lord preserve him, and give him life, and make him blessed upon the earth, and deliver him not up to the will of his enemies.

V. Let us pray for our benefactors.
R. Deign, O Lord, for Your name's sake, to reward with eternal life all those who do us good. Amen.

V. Let us pray for the faithful departed.
R. Eternal rest give to them, O Lord; and let perpetual light shine upon them.

V. May they rest in peace.
R. Amen.

V. For our absent brethren.
R. Save your servants, who trust in you, my God.

V. Send them help, O Lord, from your sanctuary.
R. And sustain them from Zion.

V. O Lord, hear my prayer.
R. And let my cry come to you.

V. The Lord be with you.
R. And with your spirit.

Let us pray.--O God, whose property is always to have mercy and to spare, receive our petition, that we, and all your servants who are bound by the chains of sin, may, by the compassion of your goodness, be mercifully absolved.

Graciously hear, we beg you, O Lord, the prayers of your suppliants, and pardon the sins of those who confess to you, that in your bounty you may grant us both pardon and peace.

In your clemency, O Lord, show us your ineffable mercy, that you may both free us from all our sins, and deliver us from the punishments which we deserve for them.

O God, who by sin are offended and by penance pacified, mercifully regard the prayers of your suppliant people, and turn away the scourges of your anger, which we deserve for our sins.

Almighty, everlasting God, have mercy upon your servant N., our Sovereign Pontiff, and direct him according to your clemency into the way of everlasting salvation, that by your grace he may desire those things that are pleasing to you, and perform them with all his strength.

O God, from whom are holy desires, good counsels, and just works, give to your servants that peace which the world cannot give, that our hearts be set to keep your commandments, and that, being removed from the fear of our enemies, we may pass our time in peace under your protection.

Burn our desires and our hearts with the fire of the Holy Spirit, O Lord, that we may serve you with a chaste body, and with a clean heart be pleasing to you.

O God, the Creator and Redeemer of all the faithful, grant to the souls of your servants and handmaids the remission of all their sins, that, through devout prayers, they may obtain the pardon which they always desired.

Direct, we beg you, O Lord, our actions by your holy inspirations, and carry them on by your gracious assistance, that every prayer and work of ours may begin always with you, and through you be happily ended.

Almighty and everlasting God, you have dominion over the living and the dead, and you are merciful to all who you foreknow will be yours by faith and good works; we humbly beg you that those for whom we intend to pour forth our prayers, whether this present world still detain them in the flesh, or the world to come has already received them out of their bodies, may, through the intercession of all your Saints, by the clemency of your goodness, obtain the remission of all their sins. Through Christ our Lord.
R. Amen.

V. O Lord, hear my prayer.
R. And let my cry come to you.

V. May the almighty and merciful Lord graciously hear us.
R. Amen.

V. And may the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.
R. Amen.

29 October 2009

Prayer to the Holy Trinity

Most holy Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I adore you and thank you for the blessings received throughout my life, especially for the gift of today. United with the entire Church, I offer you, through the hands of Mary, Queen of the Apostles, my thoughts, words, works, and sufferings of this day, and I renew my desire to grow to be perfect in your love, so that, united by the love of the Father, by the grace of Jesus Christ and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, I may be totally committed to the work of building up the Body of Christ on earth.

Blest be the one true God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I ask you to assist our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, and I join with him in prayer for the whole Church, for my Christian brothers and sisters, for those who profess a different faith, for unbelievers, and for all people of the world. I entrust my family to your infinite love, especially those individual members who need your grace. Watch over bishops, priests, sisters, brothers and all who have committed their lives to your work. Bless all who have asked for my prayers. Through your infinite mercy, recall to your love those who have strayed, and grant eternal life in your kingdom to my deceased friends and relatives, and to all the faithful departed. Amen.

Franciscan Prayer for the Spirit of Penance

O seraphic father, St. Francis,
I venerate in you the living image of Christ crucified.
Your love transformed your whole life
into one long martyrdom.
It made you strive by means of severe penances
to satisfy the ardor of your desires,
until at last it impressed on your body
the wounds it had long before engraved deeply in your heart.
It thus made you a living crucifix,
preaching sweetly to all people the sufferings and love of Jesus.

Obtain for me, O holy father,
that I too may banish from my heart the spirit of the world;
that I may esteem poverty and humiliation
above wealth and honor;
that I may mortify my passions and advance daily
in the knowledge and love of God,
until at last, detached from myself,
from the world and from all creatures,
I may live for God alone,
and like you say with my whole heart,
"My God and my all,"
my God, my inheritance and my joy in time and eternity.


(Secular Franciscan Companion, Franciscan Press, 1998)

Liturgy of the Hours: A Gift of the Church

The Church has given us a great gift in the Liturgy of the Hours. While ordained ministers are obligated to pray at least some of the hours each day, and many religious communities focus their daily regimen around the Liturgy of the Hours, the laity to can also gain a great deal from the daily community prayer of the Church.

The Liturgy of the Hours divides the day into different hours and sanctifies each of those hours of the day through prayer. Each of the seven hours revolves around readings from the Book of Psalms. The hours are as follows: Office of Readings, Morning Prayer, Midmorning Prayer, Midday Prayer, Midafternoon Prayer, Evening Prayer (aka Vespers), and Night Prayer. There is also an Office for the Dead which can be prayed at anytime. While the structure of each of the hours remains static, the particular psalms, antiphons, readings, and individulaized prayers change each day and move one through the year in reflection of each liturgical season including every feast, solemnity, and memorial. The Liturgy of the Hours is the same throughout the Church for every hour every day. So, even in private prayer, praying the Liturgy of the Hours joins one's voice with the whole Church.

Trying to regularly pray the Liturgy of the Hours was a devotional practice that I took up several years ago. It is sometimes tough to make time in a day to sanctify the hours of the day with prayer, but the daily office is worth the effort. My first introduction to the Liturgy of the Hours was awkward, as I had never focused before on the psalms as a manner and exercise of prayer. Deeper reflection on the psalms, though, and additional reading about the Judaic basis for praying the psalms, has brought them alive in my prayer life as a source of reliable approach to God. Consider this, Christ himself prayed the psalms--even uttering words from Psalm 22 while in his agony on the Cross. (Matthew 27:46) One can then approach Jesus in prayer using the same form of prayer (probably the same words--all other things being equal with translations) that He used. What a blessing! What a gift!

If you have never before prayed the liturgy of the hours, I will warn you that the structure can be a bit daunting at first. However, there are any number of resources that can guide you.

Do not be turned off by the structure of the Liturgy of the Hours. If one prays the Liturgy of the Hours using the four volume set, as I do, there will be some page turning involved in praying each office. However, the structure can quickly become a familiar vehicle of prayer. And, shorter adapted versions of the Liturgy of the Hours are available. In fact, my introduction to the Liturgy of the Hours came through the booklet published by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) entitled: Night Prayer. I provides an adapted version of Night Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours, that can be used by any lay person, and does not require page flipping or ribbon markers. In fact, it provides a wonderful opportunity to experience the universal daily prayer of the Church, the structure of the Liturgy of the Hours, and the gift of santcifying the hour of the day just before retiring (each of the daily hours sanctifies a particular hour of the day) without being too rubricly heavy for an uninitiated lay person. For example, nightly examination of conscience, a part of the formal structure of Night Prayer, has been very helpful in my spiritual development, and will I am sure continue to be so.

If you have not experienced prayer with the Liturgy of the Hours, I would encourage you to open your prayer life to this wonderful gift. If you have prayed the Liturgy of the Hours, continue to do so and to use the variety of prayers, and the different hours to guide you through the liturgical year on a journey that will enliven your love of God. I would also recommend for anyone the Church's General Instruction of the Liturgy of the Hours (available here), as a tremendous introduction, overview, and explanation of this wonderful blessing.

Saints Simon and Jude, Apostles

28 OCTOBER 2009. Today the Church celebrates the feast of Saints Simon and Jude, apostles of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

The name of Saint Simon usually appears tenth or eleventh on lists of the Apostles. (see Matthew 10:2-4; Mark 3:16-19; Luke 6:14-16; Acts 1:13) Other than being listed as an apostle, Saint Simon is not mentioned in the New Testament.The only things that we know for sure about Saint Simon is that he was born at Cana and his surname was "the zealot." Some ancient writers provide that Saints Simon and Jude traveled to Persia preaching the Gospel and were martyred there. If that is correct, it explains why the two are mentioned together in tradition.

Saint Jude, also called Thaddeus, was the apostle that asked Our Lord why he manifested Himself only to the Apostles, and not the whole world. (John 14:22) Saint Jude is the patron saint of desperate cases and lost causes. Saint Jude received these patronages because his New Testament espistle exhorts the faithful the persevere in difficult and harsh circumstances, just as our forefathers did before us. Thus, desperate cases are entreated to Saint Jude's intercession.

Prayer to Saint Jude:

Most holy apostle, Saint Jude,
faithful servant and friend of Jesus,
the Church honours and invokes you universally,
as the patron of hopeless cases,
of things almost despaired of.
Pray for me, I am so helpless and alone.
Make use I implore you,
of that particular privilege given to you,
to bring visible and
speedy help where help is almost despaired of.
Come to my assistance in this great need
that I may receive the consolation and help of heaven
in all my necessities, tribulations, and sufferings,
particularly (here make your request) and
that I may praise God with you and all the elect forever.
I promise, O blessed Saint Jude,
to be mindful of this great favour,
to always honour you as my special and powerful patron, and
to gratefully encourage devotion to you.


20 October 2009

Prayer for the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit

O Lord Jesus Christ,
before ascending into heaven you did promise
to send the Holy Spirit to finish your work
in the souls of your Apostles and Disciples,
deign to grant the same Holy Spirit to me
that He may perfect in my soul,
the work of your grace and your love.

Grant me the Spirit of Wisdom
that I may despise the perishable things of this world
and aspire only after the things that are eternal,
the Spirit of Understanding to enlighten my mind
with the light of your divine truth,
the Spirit of Counsel that I may ever choose
the surest way of pleasing God and gaining heaven,
the Spirit of Fortitude that I may bear my cross
with you and that I may overcome with courage
all the obstacles that oppose my salvation,
the Spirit of Knowledge that I may know God
and know myself and grow perfect in imitation
of the Saints,
the Spirit of Piety that I may find
the service of God sweet and amiable, and
the Spirit of Fear that I may be filled with
a loving reverence towards God and
may dread in any way to displease Him.

Mark me, dear Lord with the sign of your true disciples,
and animate me in all things with your Spirit.


18 October 2009


18 OCTOBER 2009. Today the Church celebrates the Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time. Today's readings are found here.

The second reading for today's mass struck me. It gives recognition to Christ as the great high priest, and reminds us that Our Lord Jesus knew all the temptations that we know, indeed He suffered those same temptations, but remained sinless. Therefore, Christ is the mediator that brings the abundance of God's love, through His priestly ministry, to us.

The text of the Epistle (Hebrews 4:14-16) is as follows:
Brothers and sisters:
Since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens,
Jesus, the Son of God,
let us hold fast to our confession.
For we do not have a high priest
who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses,
but one who has similarly been tested in every way,
yet without sin.
So let us confidently approach the throne of grace
to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help.
The reading begins with a call to the faithful to hold fast to "our confession" which was set out in verse one of the previous chapter: "Therefore, holy 'brothers,' sharing in a heavenly calling, reflect on Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession . . . ." (Heb 3:1) The believers confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the great high priest--"who has passed through the heavens"--and who is above all the high priests of the temple.

Given that Christ is the great high priest from heaven, one might be led to think that Christ cannot relate to us and our failures, but the author sets the minds of the faithful at ease. We hear that, like us, Christ has been tested by the temptations and weaknesses that each of us suffers from, but is "yet without sin."

We have a great high priest in Christ Jesus that is approachable. He knows and loves us, despite our weaknesses which He himself has also felt. Therefore we can approach the "throne of grace"--that is, the throne of God the Father--with confidence that Christ, through His priestly ministry, has prepared the way for us, all sinners, to receive from God Our Father "mercy and to find grace for timely help."

Two aspects of this reading touched me particularly. First, no matter what sin or temptation plagues us, we can rely on the love of Christ to be an approachable and faithful love. Christ Himself has felt the same temptations, yet He persevered through them without Sin. To be Christian, then, I need to also persevere through the temptations and low points of life too without sin. But, the immediate question arises: I am not Christ, how can I live up to this ideal? How can I live in a manner that avoids sin despite the world around me? The Epistle also answers these questions.

The second point that touched me is that Christ was, indeed, a priest--a minister to the people: to me--who by his life, passion, death, and resurrection has made all the necessary assistance available to me to live a truly Christian life. The answer to my questions is right there: because of Christ, I can confidently approach God the Father and receive the grace for timely help. And, when I fail in Christian living, which will certainly occur, I can turn to God the Father for His mercy. All of this is made possible by and through Christ, the great high priest.

Praise Our Lord Jesus Christ!

A Prayer for Priests

Dear Lord,
we pray that the Blessed Mother
wrap her mantle around your priests
and through her intercession
strengthen them for their ministry.

We pray that Mary will guide your priests
to follow her own words,
“Do whatever He tells you” (Jn 2:5).

May your priests have the heart of St. Joseph,
Mary’s most chaste spouse.

May the Blessed Mother’s own pierced heart
inspire them to embrace
all who suffer at the foot of the cross.

May your priests be holy,
filled with the fire of your love
seeking nothing but your greater glory
and the salvation of souls.


O Mary Queen of Priests, pray for us.
Saint John Vianney, pray for us.

17 October 2009

Saint Ignatius of Antioch, bishop and martyr

17 OCTOBER 2009. Today the Church celebrates the memorial of Saint Ignatius of Antioch, one of the early Apostolic Fathers and the third bishop and Patriarch of Antioch (following Saint Peter and Saint Evodius). Saint Ingnatius was condemned to death by being eaten by lions and was martyred in the Flavian Ampitheatre in 108 A.D.

Saint Ignatius was a disciple of Saint John the Apostle. And, tradition tells that Saint Ignatius was one of the children that Jesus took into his arms and blessed. as described in Mark 9:36.

After his arrest by the Roman authorities, Saint Ignatius was transported to Rome for his martyrdom. The journey to Rome was a long and difficult one and along the way Saint Ignatius wrote seven letters (six to the churches in the region and one to Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna). The Letters of Saint Ignatius have been preserved and are one of the earliest examples of Christian theology, touching on subjects such as ecclesiology, the sacraments, and the role of bishops. Online translations of Saint Ignatius' letters can be found here.

In his letter to the Romans, Saint Ignatius writes:
I am writing to all the Churches and I enjoin all, that I am dying willingly for God's sake, if only you do not prevent it. I beg you, do not do me an untimely kindness. Allow me to be eaten by the beasts, which are my way of reaching to God. I am God's wheat, and I am to be ground by the teeth of wild beasts, so that I may become the pure bread of Christ.
After his death, Saint Ignatius' friends received permission to recover his remains and took them back to Antioch. Today, the remains of Saint Ignatius are entombed beneath St. Peter's Basilica.

Saint Ignatius, pray for us!

IMAGE: Icon of Saint Ignatius of Antioch, central Russia, 17th century.

16 October 2009

Prayer for Souls in Purgatory

Lord Jesus, have mercy on the souls detained in Purgatory. It was for their salvation that you took on our human nature and suffered a most painful death. Have mercy on their burning desire to see you, have mercy on their tears of repentance. Through the merits of your passion, remit the sentence they incurred by their sins. Dear loving Jesus, may your blood descend on those dear souls! May it shorten their time of atonement and may they soon be called to eternal happiness in your presence! Amen.

15 October 2009

Litany of Saint Teresa of Jesus

For private use only.

Lord, have mercy on us!
Christ, have mercy on us!

Lord, have mercy on us!
Christ, 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, the Sanctifier,
Have mercy on us.

Holy Trinity, one God,
Have mercy on us.

Holy Mary, Mother of God,
Pray for us.

Holy Mary,
Pray for us.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel,
Pray for us.

Saint Teresa of Avila,
Pray for us.

St. Teresa, whose heart was transverberated by the love of God,
Pray for us.

St. Teresa, most humble servant of God,
Pray for us.

St. Teresa, most zealous for the glory of God,
Pray for us.

St. Teresa, woman truly strong in mind,
Pray for us.

St. Teresa, truly detached from all created objects,
Pray for us.

St. Teresa, great light of the Catholic Church,
Pray for us.

St. Teresa, reformer and glory of the Carmelite Order,
Pray for us.

St. Teresa, Queen of Mystical Theology,
Pray for us.

St. Teresa, lustrous name of Avila and Spain,
Pray for us.

St. Teresa, who didst forever glorify the name of Teresa,
Pray for us.

St. Teresa, wishing to suffer or to die,
Pray for us.

St. Teresa, exclaiming, O Lord, how sweet and pleasing are Thy ways,
Pray for us.

St. Teresa, desiring so much the salvation of souls,
Pray for us.

St. Teresa, tasting and seeing how sweet is the Lord, even in this vale of miseries,
Pray for us.

St. Teresa, exclaiming, O death, who can fear thee who art the way to true life!
Pray for us.

St. Teresa, true lover of the Cross of Christ,
Pray for us.

St. Teresa, who didst live to love, died to love, and wilt love eternally,
Pray for 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:
Hear us, O Lord.

Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world:
Have mercy on us.

V. Pray for us, O holy Saint Teresa:

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray.

O God, Who didst replenish the heart of Thy blessed servant St. Teresa with the treasures of Thy divine love: grant that, like her, we may love Thee and suffer all things for Thee and in union with Thee; that we may gain souls to Thee, and secure our own; and this we beg through the merits of our Saviour and the intercession of Thy glorious virgin Teresa.

R. Amen.

Saint Teresa of Jesus, virgin and doctor of the Church

15 OCTOBER 2009. Today the Church celebrates the memorial of Saint Teresa of Jesus. Saint Teresa was born into a Spanish noble family in 1515, just after Columbus opened the Western Hemisphere and just before the Protestant Reformation.

Saint Teresa lived a life, as a young woman, far from the ideals of sainthood. She enjoyed parties, boys, and flirting. but Saint Teresa's father was a very strict and pious man. Saint Teresa's mother was a fan of books, which in those days were the equivalent of our contemporary romance novels. Saint Teresa' father did not approve of his wife's reading materials. However, Saint Teresa also enjoyed reading her mother's books. To read them, though, Saint Teresa, had to sneak around her father's watchful eye.

As a teenager, it is said that Saint Teresa was assured that she was a horrible sinner. Many of us that rebel in our teenage years, through whatever means, can certainly relate to this self-critique.

Thinking that his daughter needed more discipline in her life, Saint Teresa's father sent her to a convent at the age of 16. At first Saint Teresa hated the convent. However, after a couple of years, Saint Teresa actually grew to enjoy the convent, as it seemed to be full of women who lived comfortably, had little worldly cares, and cared for one another. Besides, the convent was less strict than her father.

As Saint Teresa came of age she had to choose between marriage and the convent. Convinced of her own sinfulness, Saint Teresa ultimately embraced the life of the convent--deciding it was the best place for a sinner such as herself.

However, after a period of time, Saint Teresa began to hear the voice of God asking her to examine her convent life. Saint Teresa became convinced that the convent life needed more structure and, most importantly, needed to be focused on devotion to Christ--not comfortable living. In those days, women who had nowhere else to go often ended up in convents, regardless of vocation. Saint Teresa's convent often had parties where she engaged in gossip and flirting. And, Saint Teresa was an outgoing person whom everyone liked. While not serious sins, as far as we know, these sins kept her from really developing a relationship with God.

This lack of a relationship with Our Lord was born out in the fruitless years of Saint Teresa's mental prayer. For eighteen years, off and on, Saint Teresa engaged in mental prayer, without ever feeling the spiritual results of her prayer.

Then Saint Teresa fell ill with malaria. Saint Teresa was so sick that a grave was dug for her. But, she eventually recovered to a point. Afterwards, she was paralyzed for three years and never completely recovered. However, instead of strengthening her prayer, her illness led Saint Teresa to practically stop praying. She went years hardly praying at all. At the age of 41, a priest convinced Saint Teresa to return to prayer, but she did so with great difficulty. However, as she struggled with prayer, God began to bless her with the fruits of that prayer, including raptures which began to cause others around her to question her and poke fun.

Though her prayer life was growing, Saint Teresa still maintained many friendships until one day the Lord spoke to her: "No longer do I want you to converse with human beings but with angels." From that point onward, Christ was the first person in Saint Teresa's life. Now Saint Teresa's journey from a point that was very distant from God to and intimate relationship with Christ was completed, but the hardships had only begun.

There was a great deal of hostility toward Saint Teresa and gossip about her. Once, complaining to Christ, Jesus told her: "Teresa, that's how I treat my friends" Teresa responded, "No wonder you have so few friends."

However, at this point Saint Teresa came to truly unit herself to the will of Our Lord. And, in this union, she decided to reform her convent, in fact, the whole Carmelite order.Saint Teresa started a new convent, St. Joseph's, based upon a simple life of poverty devoted to prayer. However, there was open hostility, even from within the Church, to her new convent. To this, Saint Teresa replied: "May God protect me from gloomy saints."

Undaunted, and trusting in the Lord, Saint Teresa continued in her efforts. Saint Teresa believed and taught that the spiritual life is an attitude of love, not rules. Indeed, she believed in penance less than obedience to God. For Saint Teresa, if you did something wrong, one should not focus on punishing one's self--instead, change.

At St. Joseph's, Saint Teresa spent most of her time outside of prayer writing her life story. Saint Teresa was ordered to write about her Life by Christ. However, she had to camouflage much of her writings with text that would pass the intense scrutiny of those who were hostile to her. For example, after a profound statement, she would write: "But what do I know. I'm just a wretched woman." Though she was brought before the Inquisition, she was ultimately cleared.

At the age of 51 Saint Teresa decided it was time to spread her reform movement. Through a great deal of difficulty and hardships, Saint Teresa went about sowing the seeds of reform, admitting postulants, and founding convents for a reformed life of simple poverty and prayer.

In poor health, Saint Teresa died at the age of 67 on 4 October 1582.

Saint Teresa is the founder of the Discalced Carmelites. She was canonized on 12 March 1622 by Pope Gregory XV and declared a Doctor of the Church in 1970 by Pope Paul VI.

There is much more that could be written here about Saint Teresa of Jesus. This post offers only the briefest sketch of Saint Teresa.

What can be said, however, is that Saint Teresa is a wonderful example of two principles that each of us can take into our daily lives. First, do not despair at your sin, but continue to fervently grow in your love of Christ. Nothing is too big for the Lord. Even a person who considers herself a loathsome sinner can be raised to the heights of glory with Our Lord. Second, the path of Christ is not an easy one, but one that must be walked faithfully. In many ways, the great Pope John Paul II showed the sanctification of illness and hardship. So to, did Saint Teresa show that perseverance through hardship is a path to Christ. So, no one should wallow in self-pity, but thank the Lord for the hardships that come our way in life.

Pray that by the intercession of Saint Teresa of Jesus, our hardships will be a blessing of sanctification of our lives to Christ!

IMAGE: by Peter Paul Rubens. On display in the Museum of Art History, Vienna Austria.

12 October 2009

Saint Francisco Coll y Guitart

12 OCTOBER 2009. Yesterday, Pope Benedict XVI canonized a new Dominican saint. Although today is not his feast day, let's take this opportunity to learn about, now, Saint Francisco Coll y Guitart.

Born in 1812 in Grombeny, Catalan Pyrenees, Spain, Saint Francisco was one of ten children, and only 4 when his father died. Saint Francisco was confirmed at the age of 6 in 1818, and entered the seminary in Vichy, France in 1822 at the age of only 10. Saint Anthony Mary Claret was a fellow seminary student.

As a child, Saint Francisco taught grammar and catechism to local children in France. He joined the Dominican Order in 1830 at the age of 18. When religious orders were suppressed in France, Saint Francisco continued his studies covertly.

Saint Francisco was ordained on 28 March 1836. Assigned to Moya in 1839, an area ravaged by war, Saint Francisco established charitable organizations to feed and house the many refugees. Saint Francisco worked with the poor and displaced for 10 years. In 1850 Saint Francisco re-opened a suppressed Dominican monastery, and began a program of preaching throughout the Catalan region.

When the cholera epidemic struck in 1854, Saint Francisco worked to minister to cholera victims. He founded the Congregation of the Dominican Sisters of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (La Annunciata) in 1856, a teaching branch of tertiaries

Saint Franciso was struck blind while delivering a homily given at Sallent on 2 December 1869. After that event, Saint Francisco's health never fully recovered, but he refused to retire. When the suppression of religious orders was lifted in 1872, and the Dominicans officially returned, they found that Saint Francisco has kept the necessary structures--physical and administrative--in place. Therefore, the Order could take up their ministry where it had been left off.

Saint Francisco was a popular preacher of missions in various dioceses of North Eastern Spain. Those who knew him characterized his life by his fervent zeal for preaching; he prayed long hours, studied, and dedicated a great deal of time to preparing the sermons for his missions.

Saint Francisco died on 2 April 1875 in Vic, Barcelona, Spain. By the time of his death, the order he had founded had grown to 50 houses; today there are over 140 in Europe and America.

Saint Francisco was beatified by the great Pope John Paul II on 29 April 1979. He was canonized yesterday by Pope Benedict XVI. Saint Francisco's feast day is 2 April.


God of all truth, you chose Saint Francis to make known the name of your Son and to instruct Christian people in holiness. By the help of his prayers may the true faith be continually sustained and grow through the ministry of preaching. 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. Amen.

IMAGE: Wikimedia Commons

Five New Saints!

11 OCTOBER 2009. Pope Benedict XVI today celebrated the canonization of five new saints. As the great Pope John Paul II said, the saints are the true exegesis of the Gospel. Meaning, the explanation of the Gospel is brought forth in the lives of the Saints. We look to the examples of the saints, and we see the Gospel put into action in our world.

As told by Vatican Information Service.--

VATICAN CITY, 11 OCT 2009 (VIS) - At 10 a.m. today the Holy Father celebrated the Eucharist in the Vatican Basilica. During the ceremony he canonised five blesseds: Zygmunt Szczesny Felinski, Polish former archbishop of Warsaw and founder of the Congregation of Franciscan Sisters of the Family of Mary; Francesc Coll y Guitart, Spanish professed priest of the Order of Friars Preachers and founder of the Congregation of the Dominican Sisters of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary; Jozef Damian de Veuster, Belgian professed priest of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, and of the Perpetual Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar (PICPUS); Rafael Arnaiz Baron, Spanish oblate friar of the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance, and Mary of the Cross Jugan (nee Jeanne), French virgin and foundress of the Congregation of the Little Sisters of the Poor.

Concelebrating with the Pope were seven cardinals, nine archbishops, fourteen bishops and twenty priests. Five of the concelebrants had been involved in the causes of canonisation of the new saints: Cardinal Godfried Danneels, archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels, Belgium; Archbishop Kazimierz Nycz of Warsaw, Poland; Archbishop Pierre d'Ornellas of Rennes, France; Bishop Roman Casanova Casanova of Vic, Spain, and Bishop Jose Ignacio Munilla Aguirre of Palencia, Spain.

In his homily the Holy Father outlined certain aspects of the personality of the new saints, and the causes for their canonisation.

"'Come, follow me!' This is the Christian vocation that flows from a proposal of love by the Lord, and that can be fulfilled only if we reply in love", he said. "The saints welcome this demanding invitation. ... Their perfection, in the logic of a faith that is at times humanly incomprehensible, consists in no longer placing themselves at the centre, but choosing to go against the tide and live according to the Gospel. This is what was done by the five saints who today, with great joy, are being put forward for veneration by the Universal Church: Zygmunt Szczesny Felinski, Francesc Coll y Guitart, Jozef Damian de Veuster, Rafael Arnaiz Baron and Mary of the Cross Jugan (nee Jeanne).

Zygmunt Szczesny Felinski, archbishop of Warsaw, "was a great witness of faith and pastoral charity in very difficult times for the nation and for the Church in Poland", said the Holy Father. "Prior to the insurrection of January 1863 against the Russian annexation, he warned the people against futile bloodshed. However, when the uprising occurred and was put down, he courageously defended the oppressed. Under the rule of the Russian Czar he spent twenty years in exile in Jaroslaw in Siberia, and was never able to return to his diocese. In all situations he maintained his unshakeable trust in Divine Providence".

Francesc Coll y Guitart's "passion was preaching, mostly itinerant preaching following the form of 'popular missions', with the goal of proclaiming and reviving the Word of God in the villages and towns of Catalonia, thus leading people to the profound encounter with the Lord. ... His evangelising activity included great devotion to the Sacrament of Penance, an outstanding emphasis on the Eucharist and a constant insistence on prayer".

The missionary activity of Jozef de Veuster, who took the name Damian, "reached its apex in charity. Not without fear and repugnance, he chose to go to the Island of Molokai to serve the lepers abandoned there, thus exposing himself to the disease. ... This servant of the Word thus became a suffering servant, a leper among lepers during the last four years of his life. ... St. Damien leads us to choose the good fight, not the fights that lead to division, but those that bring people together. He invites us to open our eyes to the forms of leprosy that disfigure the humanity of our fellows and calls, more than for our generosity, for the charity of our serving presence".

Rafael Arnaiz Baron "said 'yes' to the proposal to follow Jesus, in an immediate and decisive way, without limits or conditions. ... Brother Rafael remains close to us and, through his example and his works, continues to offer an enticing proposal, especially for young people who are not easily satisfied, but who aspire to the fullness of truth".

"Through her admirable work in the service of poor elderly people, Mary of the Cross is like a beacon guiding our societies, which must always rediscover the place and unique contribution of this period of life. ... Her charism remains relevant as so many elderly people suffer different forms of poverty and solitude, sometimes even abandoned by their families. ... For the elderly, may St. Jeanne Jugan be a living source of hope and, for the people generously placing committed to serving them, a powerful stimulus to pursue and develop her work".

Benedict XVI concluded his homily by calling on everyone "to let yourselves be drawn by the shining example of these saints, allow yourselves to be guided by their teachings, so that our whole lives may become a hymn of praise to the love of God".

HML/CANONISATIONS/... VIS 091012 (850)

IMAGE: Reuters

07 October 2009

Our Lady of the Rosary

7 OCTOBER 2009. Today the Church celebrates the memorial of the Our Lady of the Rosary. This commemorative feast was established by Pope Pius V in 1571. The celebration of this day invites all of us to mediate on the mysteries of the Holy Rosary and to follow the Virgin Mary as the perfect example of Christianity on earth--totally loving and devoting Herself to Christ Her son.

The great Pope John Paul II said this of the Rosary in his Apostolic Letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae in 2002:
The Rosary of the Virgin Mary, which gradually took form in the second millennium under the guidance of the Spirit of God, is a prayer loved by countless Saints and encouraged by the Magisterium. Simple yet profound, it still remains, at the dawn of this third millennium, a prayer of great significance, destined to bring forth a harvest of holiness. It blends easily into the spiritual journey of the Christian life, which, after two thousand years, has lost none of the freshness of its beginnings and feels drawn by the Spirit of God to “set out into the deep” (duc in altum!) in order once more to proclaim, and even cry out, before the world that Jesus Christ is Lord and Saviour, “the way, and the truth and the life” (Jn 14:6), “the goal of human history and the point on which the desires of history and civilization turn”.

The Rosary, though clearly Marian in character, is at heart a Christocentric prayer. In the sobriety of its elements, it has all the depth of the Gospel message in its entirety, of which it can be said to be a compendium. It is an echo of the prayer of Mary, her perennial Magnificat for the work of the redemptive Incarnation which began in her virginal womb. With the Rosary, the Christian people sits at the school of Mary and is led to contemplate the beauty on the face of Christ and to experience the depths of his love. Through the Rosary the faithful receive abundant grace, as though from the very hands of the Mother of the Redeemer.
(Footnotes omitted)

IMAGE: The Virgin Presenting the Rosary to St. Dominic, Murillo 1638

Reconciliation with a child: How Our Lord Must See Us!

7 OCTOBER 2009. The Lord speaks to us in a whisper. To hear Him we need to have our heart attuned to Him through prayer, good works, and an earnest love of Christ. So, I am usually surprised when I hear God in the voice of another or through some event. When I least expect it, our Lord speaks to me. Today was one of those events. And, the dad in me wants to share it.

I arrived home from the office tonight to find my wife kissing me on the way out the door to a meeting at our parish church. Ugh, dinner and bedtime with the two children by myself. Oh well, I thought, let's get some mac-n-cheese and green beans cooking. To me, it sounds like a fine meal for a 5 year old and a 3 year old. Well, while preparing dinner, my daughter did something that really disappointed me. Not anything terrible (she's only 5), but something that she knew she should not have done, and her little brother was the victim. I stopped stirring elbow maccaroni to go handle the situation.

Now, I had heard the entire episode from my vantage in the kitchen. There was nothing about what happened that I didn't know. So I gathered them together to ask what happened, first reproaching my boy for doing the thing that started the chain of events. Then, turning to the five year old, I asked her what she did. She knew that I knew everything. But, she stood there, first mad and then frustrated and then overwhelmed with sadness trying to tell me, but not able to articulate the words. Finally, I intentionally lost my patience and said: "Just say it!" And she did, immediately wilting into my arms for reassurance. In that moment I heard Our Lord.

I will stop hear and clarify. I do not portend to say that God gives me personal revelations. I do not have deep insightful conversations with Our Lord. I struggle. I pray. I try to listen. Sometimes I hear God. Never in loud tones. Never in a spark of light or a clap of thunder, but in the smallest of ways.

God speaks to us all if we but listen.

My daughter was sobbing on my shoulder, sorry for her offense, sorry for not being able to confess her transgression to me right away--just wanting to be loved; just seeking comfort. And, the image was shown to me: this must be how God sees us. Indeed, he knows everything, even those things that we think no one else knows. He already knows, and is ready to forgive us and love us, if we but come to Him.

Why would a child fear admitting to her parent her wrong doing and, then, receiving reproachment and love from her parent? The parent knows it is important for the child to admit what she has done wrong, even if the parent already knows the whole story. But, still the child hesitates. In that hesitation is fear, self-doubt, questioning, rationalization, and on and on. The parent will not stop loving the child because of the error.

I would not--could not--stop loving my daughter no matter what she does. I see her struggle to reconcile and it hurts me. It must hurt God to see us struggle too. Instead of readily admitting our sin and reconciling ourselves to God and the Church, how many of us avoid the Sacrament of Reconciliation? How many of us struggle and hesitate, and in that hesitation we feel fear, self-doubt, questioning, engage in rationalization, and on and on? God cannot stop loving us. Nothing we can do--no matter what--is too big for God, our Loving Father.

What I heard the Lord say in this moment is this: look how you act like a child. See how it hurts you as a parent and how needless the whole exercise is! God says: "I love you more than you are capable of loving your daughter. Just ask for My forgiveness--you always have My love."

Maybe Our Lord has allowed me a glimpse of how He sees humanity. I pray, and ask your prayers, that I can learn from the experience, loving God more and opening myself to Him more readily.

05 October 2009

Blessed Raymond of Capua

5 OCTOBER 2009. Today we celebrate the optional memorial of Blessed Raymond of Capua, Friar, Priest, and Master of the Dominican Order.

Quite often the lives of saints are filled with some hardship through which the saint bears the cross of calvary with Christ. However, it is not many saints that are indeed the spiritual advisor to a saint. Not that this is a particularly difficult hardship, but image the depth of spiritual resource and faith one must have to serve in that ministry. That is the case for Blessed Raymond of Capua, who was the spiritual advisor to Saint Catherine of Siena.

Raymond delle Vigne was born in Capua, Italy in about 1330. He studied at the University of Bologna, and entered the Dominican Order there in 1350. After entering the Order, Blessed Raymond held several positions in Rome, Florence, and Sienna. Through his work in Sienna, Blessed Raymond was assigned to be the spiritual advisor of Saint Catherine of Sienna, and became her friend, confidant, biographer, guide and disciple.

Father Raymond and Catherine met for the first time when she was assisting him at mass on the feast of St. John the Baptist. During the mass Catherine heard and inner voice saying: "This is my beloved servant. This is he to whom I will entrust you." Blessed Raymond later wrote an extraordinary biography of Saint Catherine of Sienna.

In May 1380, Blessed Raymond was elected as Master of the Order for that portion of the Dominicans that remained faithful to the Roman Pontiff, Urban VI. In his role as Master of the Order, Blessed Raymond worked hard to restore peace to a Church rent by schism and to bring discipline to the Order of Preachers. In fact, Father Raymond's reforms of the Order were considered so important, that some history refers to him as the second founder of the Dominicans.

Blessed Raymond worked with plague victims in Sienna and eventually caught the disease itself. However, he lived until the age of 69, dying of natural causes in Nuremburg, Germany on 5 October 1399.

Pope Leo XIII beatified Father Raymond on 15 May 1899.

IMAGE: Saint Catherine of Sienna dictating to Blessed Raymond of Capua. Detroit Institute of Arts.

04 October 2009

Litany to Mary, Mother of Life

Mary, Mother of all Life,
help us to respect human life
from the moment of conception
to the moment of natural death.
Mary, pray for us.

Mary, Mother of Compassion,
You showed us how valuable a single life can be;
Help us to guard and protect the lives
of all people entrusted to our care.
Mary, pray for us.

Mary, Mother of the Child Jesus,
with St. Joseph you formed the Holy Family.
Guard and protect all families in this earthly life.
Mary, pray for us.

Mary, Mother Most Holy,
You sanctified the vocation of motherhood;
Pour out your heavenly aid on all mothers
and help them to be holy.
Mary, pray for us.

Mary, Mother of Sorrows,
Simeon’s prophecy foretold that a sword of suffering
would pierce your heart;
Bring comfort and hope to all mothers
who suffer over their children.
Mary, pray for us.

Mary, Full of Grace,
You had a choice in responding to God’s call;
Help us always to say “Yes” to the will of God in our lives,
And strive always to do whatever he tells us.
Mary, pray for us.

Mary, Comforter of the Afflicted,
Pour forth your heavenly grace
on all who are in need of God’s healing,
Especially those involved in abortion;
Help them to experience the love and mercy of Christ, your Son.
Mary, pray for us.

Mary, Intercessor and Advocate,
We lift up the poor, the displaced, the marginalized and
vulnerable members of society;
Help them to never abandon hope,
but to place their trust in the God who gave them life.
Mary, pray for us.

Mary, Mother of the Word Incarnate,
you bore in your womb him whom the heavens cannot contain;
Help us to bear witness to Christ by the example of our lives
And show the world the extravagant love of God.
Mary, pray for us.

Let us pray:

Remember, o most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to your protection, implored your help, or sought your intercession was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, we fly unto you, O Virgin of virgins, our Mother. To you we come, before you we stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not our petitions, but in your mercy hear and answer them.



4 OCTOBER 2009. Today the Church in the United States celebrates Respect Life Sunday. The theme for this year's celebration is "Every Child Brings Us God's Smile." The message for this year's Respect Life Sunday, from Cardinal Justin Rigali, is provided below:
Cardinal Justin F. Rigali
Chairman, USCCB Committee on Pro-life Activities September 29, 2009

Respect Life Sunday, this year celebrated on October 4th is a day set aside for Catholics in the United States to reflect with gratitude on God’s priceless gift of human life. It is also an occasion to examine how well we, as a nation and individually, are living up to our obligation to protect the rights of those who, due to age, dependency, poverty or other circumstances, are at risk of their very lives.

In the current debate over health care reform, it has become evident that a number of Americans believe that the lives and health of only some people are worth safeguarding, while other classes of people are viewed as not deserving the same protection. Such an attitude is deplorable, all the more so in the context of health care. Sanctioning discrimination in the quality of care given to different groups of people has no place in medicine, and directly contravenes the ethical norms under which Catholic hospitals and health care providers operate.

Unborn children remain the persons whose lives are most at risk in America: Over one million children each year die in abortion facilities. The Roe v. Wade decision in 1973 rendered states powerless to halt this killing. Thankfully Congress and most states acted to prevent public funding of abortions (with narrowly defined exceptions). Yet despite the opposition of 67% of Americans to taxpayer-funded abortion, all current health care proposals being considered by Congress would allow or mandate abortion funding, either through premiums paid into government programs or out of federal revenues.

It bears repeating: Abortion – the direct, intentional killing of an unborn girl or boy – is not health care. Abortion robs an innocent child of his or her life, and robs mothers of their peace and happiness. For 25 years, the Project Rachel post-abortion ministry of the Catholic Church has helped women move beyond their grief and remorse after abortion, helping them find peace by accepting God’s forgiveness and by forgiving themselves and others involved in the abortion decision. Abortion funding can only increase the number of dead and grieving.

Unborn children are not the only human beings disfavored under current proposals. Many people insist that undocumented persons living and working in the United States should not be allowed in any new system to purchase health-care coverage, and that poor legal immigrants be denied coverage for the first five years they are in the United States. Do immigrants forfeit their humanity at the border? How can a just society deny basic health care to those living and working among us who need medical attention? It cannot and must not.

While most Americans agree that those who cannot afford health insurance should have access to health care, some commentators have gone so far as to suggest offsetting the cost of expanded coverage by curtailing the level of care now given to elderly Americans. Other pundits have suggested that treatment decisions should be based not on the needs of the elderly patient, but on the patient’s allegedly low “quality of life” or the cost-effectiveness of treatment calculated over the patient’s projected lifespan. Such calculations can ignore the inherent dignity of the person needing care, and undermine the therapeutic relationship between health professionals and their patients.

It should not be surprising that the neglect, and even the death, of some people are offered as a solution to rising health care costs. Population control advocates have long espoused aborting children in the developing world as a misguided means for reducing poverty.

Some environmentalists now claim that the most efficient way to curb global climate change is to make “family planning” more widely available in the developing world. They report that an average of 2.3 pounds per day of exhaled carbon dioxide can be eliminated from the atmosphere by eliminating one human being. As used by population control advocates, the innocuous term “family planning” includes abortifacient contraceptives, sterilization, and manual vacuum aspiration abortions.

Oregon, where health care for low-income patients is rationed by the state, has denied several patients the costly prescription drugs needed to prolong their lives, while reminding them that the assisted suicide option is conveniently offered under Oregon’s health plan.

Many scientists justify the manipulation and killing of embryonic human beings in stem cell research, based on unsubstantiated hopes of finding new cures. Yet the facts increasingly show this approach to pose risks to patients, and to women who may be exploited to provide eggs for the research.

Death is not a solution to life’s problems. Only those who are blind to the transcendent reality and meaning of human life could support killing human beings to mitigate economic, social or environmental problems.

The antidote to such myopia is to recover an appreciation for the sanctity and dignity of each unique human being. One could begin by spending a day with a young child. The average child is a wellspring of joy and giggles, capable of daring leaps of imagination, probing curiosity, and even reasoned (though sometimes self-centered) appeals for justice. Children delight in God’s creation and love their family unconditionally. God gave every human being these marvelous aptitudes, and children can help us recover and appreciate them anew.

Since the advent of widespread contraception and abortion, a cultural hostility to children has grown. They are often depicted as costly encumbrances who interfere with a carefree adult life. No fewer than six recent books are dedicated to defending the childless-by-choice lifestyle – for selfish reasons, or to counter “overpopulation,” a thoroughly discredited myth. In fact, if married couples were to have more children, Medicare and Social Security would not be hurtling toward bankruptcy. Since 1955, because of fewer children and longer life spans, the number of workers has declined relative to the number of beneficiaries, from 8.6 to only 3.1 workers paying benefits to support each beneficiary. Without substantially more young people to enter the work force as young adults, in 25 years, there will be only 2.1 workers supporting each beneficiary. Eliminating our young does not solve problems even on pragmatic grounds. It adds to them.

Children, and those who are dependent on us due to disability or age, offer us the
opportunity to grow in patience, kindness, and love. They teach us that life is a shared gift, not an encumbrance. At the end of life, we will be judged on love alone. Meanwhile, in the midst of so many challenges to life, we look to "Christ Jesus our hope" (1 Timothy 1:1), who offers to all the world a share in his victory over death.
Cardinal Rigali's words are on point. In the context of health care reform, our county must not loose sight of the fact that every person, regardless of health, age, developmental achievement, background, or immigratory status, is due respect as a beloved creation of God, imbued with the very presence of God in each of our immortal souls. As each of us is created in the image of God, let us not place that image, and God Himself, under attack in any manner in the name of making health care more available or more affordable.

Let each of us this pray for the unborn, the aged, the infirm, the dying, the condemned, and all those whose fundamental right to have the dignity of their lives' respected and protected is today in danger.

03 October 2009

Blessed Dominic Spadafora, Friar and Priest

3 OCTOBER 2009. Today we celebrate the feast day of Father Dominic Spadafora, who was beatified by Pope Benedict XV in 1921.

From the Dominican supplement to the breviary we read the following:
Born at Randazzo in Sicily about the year 1450, Dominic Spadafora received the habit at the priory of St. Zita at Palermo and became a zealous preacher of the Word in Sicily and throughout Italy. He had a special devotion to the passion of our Lord and by his charity and humility converted many to the Lord, even attracting some to the Order. He founded the priory of Our Lady of Grace in Monte Cerignone, Sicily, where he remained as superior until his death on December 21, 1521. This commemoration recalls the date of the translation of his remains in 1677.
Tradition tells that Blessed Dominic revealed to his community that he knew he was about to die, and attended all the religious exercises of the community that day up to the hour of his death. We are told that Blessed Dominic died as every Dominican hopes, with his community around him, singing the "Salve Regina."

What we learn from Blessed Dominic is that there is extraordinary graces that come from living an ordinary life very well. Father Dominic Spadafora is an obscure figure in the history of the Church, but he was beatified and remains venerated because he went about his daily life with such devotion and great love for Christ. How well all of us can learn from such a man.

Blessed Dominic Spadafora, pray for us!


God of truth,
in Blessed Dominic you made the apostolate
marvelously fruitful through his constant zeal and prayer
and the observance of regular life.
By following his footsteps
may we be worthy to receive the abundant fruits of salvation.
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.


02 October 2009

Memorial of the Guardian Angels

2 OCTOBER 2009. Today the Church celebrates the memorial of the guardian angels. Every believer has a guardian angel who watches over us and helps each one to strive more perfectly to attain salvation with Christ. Our angelical guardianship begins at the moment of birth and continues throughout our whole life, ceasing only at the moment of death. God has given each of us a guardian angel as a protector and guide for our individual benefit, and we praise Him for this eternal blessing.

The idea that each of us has guardian angel assigned by God is a long-held truth of the Catholic faith. The feast of the guardian angels first appeared in the Church in Spain during the sixteenth century, and was made universal and obligatory in 1670 by Pope Clement X.

And, while tradition and scripture tell us that angels are spiritual, non-corporeal beings, they are usually depicted as having a human form with wings. The depiction of wings is meant to regonize that angels are dispatched by God for our protection--figuratively, flying from heaven to earth.

For those who may not be familiar with this part of the Church's teaching, let us examine the Catechism.

The glossary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church defines angel as "[a] spiritual, personal, and immortal creature, with intelligence and free will, who glorifies God without ceasing and who serves God as a messenger of his saving plan." Guardian Angels, in particular, are further described as "[a]ngels assigned to protect and intercede for each person."

Then, looking at the text of the Cathechism itself we find the fullness of the Church's teaching on guardian angels:
Angels have been present since creation and throughout the history of salvation . . . .
(CCC 332)
From the Incarnation to the Ascension, the life of the Word incarnate is surrounded by the adoration and service of angels.
(CCC 333)
They will be present at Christ's return, which they will announce, to serve at his judgment. (Cf. Acts 1:10-11; Mt 13:41; 24:31; Lk 12:8-9.)
(Id. Footnote provided as a (parenthetical).)
From its beginning until death, human life is surrounded by their watchful care and intercession. (Cf. Mt 18:10; Lk 16:22; Ps 34:7; 91:10-13; Job 33:23-24; Zech 1:12; Tob 12:12.) "Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life." (St. Basil, Adv. Eunomium III, 1: PG 29, 656B.) Already here on earth the Christian life shares by faith in the blessed company of angels and men united in God.
(CCC 336. Footnotes provided as (parentheticals).)

So, in the celebration of today's memorial the Church venerates the guardian angels that protect and intercede on behalf of each one of us and praises God for his love in granting each of us our guardian angel.


Angel of God, my guardian dear
to whom God's love commits me here.

Ever this day/night be at my side

to light, to guard, to rule, and to guide.