Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Catholic Family: Yesterday and Today

The Holy Family with the Infant St. John the Baptist by Paolo Veronese


Picture source

It does appear that the family is declining.  Family life seems to be a thing of the past.  Has the Catholic family remained intact?  Sadly, no.  Maybe your family is like the Catholic family of old but how about our friends or siblings and their families?  Yesterday's Catholic family would keep holy the Sabbath.  It would be a day to start with Mass, then a special breakfast, relaxing as a family and then looking forward to a special dinner.  This is no longer true in most homes.  It is not unusual for Catholic parents to miss mass because of work obligations.  Sad.

It is clear that if we are concerned with saving our family life, we have to make our homes Christ-centered. Even if our worldly society makes it difficult for Catholic families, it is the parents' obligation to see that they raise their children in a Catholic home.

The following is from the latest Christian Mothers newsletter.

YESTERDAY'S CATHOLIC FAMILY

Two parents, both Catholic

Many children

PARISH-CENTERED

Control of influences

WEEKLY CONFESSIONS AND MASS

Parochial school or CCD attendance

Strong home-religious life

Much parent-child contact

Front porch pace of life

Supportive of pastor

Now compare the way Catholic family life used to be with Today's Catholic family:

Might have two sets of parents:
4 million Catholics presently in second marriages and another 4 million divorced but un-remarried

Nearly half of the marriages are interfaith

Fewer children:  almost identical with national average

Mom probably works outside as well as inside the home.

PARISH IS NOT CENTER OF FAMILY LIFE

Only one out of three Catholics attend Sunday Mass regularly

NEARLY 8 MILLION CHILDREN HAVE NO FORMAL RELIGIOUS INSTRUCTION

Galloping pace of life

MINIMAL  HOME-RELIGIOUS ACTIVITY

Not necessarily supportive of pastor or parish

Not as concerned with the religious future of t heir children as with their marital and job opportunities.




THE LEGACY OF SAINT JOHN PAUL II Witness to Hope

Shared by Brother John Samaha, S.M.

He participated in all four sessions of the Second Vatican Council, and worked on the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World.

The most traveled pope in history, he covered 748,568 miles to visit his flock and engage the world.

He made five pastoral visits to the USA.

His apostolic visits to 130 countries made him the most well-known person of the late 20th century.

During his reign 87 countries established diplomatic relations with the Holy See for the first time.

He was influential in the collapse of communism in his native Poland and in other countries,   and in the destruction of the Iron Curtain and the Berlin Wall.


He beatified and canonized more persons than his predecessors combined: 482 saints and 1,338 beati.  

SAINT JOHN PAUL II Beyond Doctrine and Politics

Brother John M. Samaha, S.M.


            Karol Wojtyla (1920-2005) served as Pope John Paul II (1978-2007) in a lengthy, whirlwind, and remarkable papacy.   He passed to eternity April 2, 2005.  In 2011 he was beatified by his successor, Pope Benedict XVI.  October 22, the date of his installation as pope in 1978, has been assigned as his festival day in the liturgical calendar.  And now our current Holy Father, Pope Francis, has raised him to sainthood.

            What do you recall about this remarkable pontiff? 

            Saint John Paul II was born to lead and to inspire, to bridge the human and the divine.  More than one observer characterized him as “man of the century” during his lifetime.  And even before his passing to eternity some commentators were assigning to him the encomium “John Paul the Great.”

            But John Paul II also drew a considerable share of criticism
and a wide variance of opinion.  Then what can we say with certainty, in the absolute, about the 264th successor of St. Peter.  Looking beyond doctrine and politics we see a truly extraordinary person.

            Above all, he mattered in his period of history.  He changed the face of Europe, stopped several wars and protested others, traveled the equivalent of three-and-a-half times to the moon.  He has been seen in person by more people than anyone else in history.  John Paul II most certainly must be numbered among the titans of his time.  This pope was a magnet for humanity.

            As a “sign of contradiction” and one who mattered in human and church arenas, he also divided.  The wide range of varying opinions might be the most convincing sign of his impact.  John Paul II made over 100 trips outside Italy, canonized about 500 saints, beatified about 1400, and authored more than a dozen landmark encyclicals and numerous other instructions.  He worked to bring together East and West .   The list of his activities seems endless.  He exhibited boundless energy for work and for engaging people.  All of this made him famous, but it also made him controversial.  His was a bruising, polarizing pontificate.

            In the final analysis, we can confidently say that John Paul, deeper than his politics and his Polish Catholic cultural formation, was an extraordinary person of sterling character, a genuine mensch. He was a strong, intelligent, caring human being.  His integrity and dedication to duty present a standard by which other leaders can be measured.

            Above all, John Paul was a selfless human being in a me-first world.  Cardinal Roberto Tucci, who planned the pope’s trips and briefed him hundreds of times on trips long and short, observed that never did the pope ask what conveniences or creature comforts to expect.  That indifference to himself was noticeable every time he entered the public stage.   The very motto of this dedicated apostle of Mary indicated this: “Totus tuus” (I am all yours).

            This is the key to his personal magnetism that drew enormous crowds everywhere, even in places where his political or doctrinal stands were unpopular.  Deeper than either secular or religious concerns was his personal integrity -- goodness and holiness, the qualities we prize most highly in others.  A person may be regarded as liberal or conservative, avant-garde or traditional, but let that person be decent, and that suffices.

            John Paul II’s authentic humanity was the source of his appeal.  The most important lesson he offered is the coherence of his own life.   When he urged Christians, in the words of Jesus, “duc in altum” (set off into the deep), that resonated even with those who sought different shores.

            Saint John Paul’s admirers and critics alike can say of him what Shakespeare’s Hamlet said of his father: “He was a man.  Take him for all in all, I shall not look upon his like again.”



 Posted with permission.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

ACN News - Syria – Hear the cries of the children

NOTE:  There is also recent news reporting of starvation by the Christians in Syria.  Please keep them in your prayers.

The leader of Catholics in Syria has issued a desperate plea for international help, describing how one child was killed and 60 others were injured when a bomb landed on a school playground during a series of attacks in Damascus.

Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch Gregorios III reported that several children received ‘life-changing’ injuries in the blast that took place while they were singing the Syrian National Anthem during early morning assembly at the Armenian Catholic School in Damascus’ Old City.

Describing how the children suffered injuries to the face, chest, eyes and stomach, the Patriarch said that a further 10 children were injured at about the same time during other blasts in Damascus, one in front of St. Abraham’s Melkite Church and another in the suburb of Duel’a.

He said that in another suburb, Jaramana, up to 40 shells had fallen within 48 hours.

In a report sent to Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need Patriarch Gregorios said after the attacks on Tuesday, April 15th: “May the world heed the cries, tears and the prayers of the children of Syria.”

The Patriarch, who is President of the Assembly of Catholic Hierarchs (bishops) in Syria, added, “What is the point of all this carnage tantamount to a war of extermination?”

“These attacks on our schools, children, churches and homes are criminal attacks with the aim of intimidating Christians who find themselves increasingly targeted.”

Appealing to the “world’s conscience in the name of our children,” the Patriarch called for help from the United Nations and the European Union.

The Patriarch, who is based in Damascus, said, “Where are the United Nations and the European Union? Do you want to kill this nation?”

He went on to call on Pope Francis to intervene. He said, “Syria, appeals to you, Most Holy Father Francis. Help [Syria] out of this crisis.”

“We need your prayer, your strong speech, your bold interventions. Send your messengers West and East into the world’s capital cities, to bring your message of peace for Syria.”

In his report to ACN, the Patriarch described how the disaster had followed the “general rejoicing” over news the day before (Monday, April 14th) that the largely Christian town of Ma’alula, had been “liberated” by the Syrian army.

He wrote: “The inhabitants of Ma’alula are exultant. Lift up your heads, your deliverance is nigh.”

Late last year, Aid to the Church in Need provided emergency support for children who fled Ma’alula and went to Damascus, receiving help in a program organized by Patriarch Gregorios.

The charity has provided emergency help for Christians and others both displaced in Syria and those living as refugees in neighboring Lebanon and Jordan.

Among those ACN supported were people trapped in the Old City of Homs cared for by Jesuit priest Fr. Frans van der Lugt, who was murdered on Monday, April 7th.


Editor’s Notes:



Directly under the Holy Father, Aid to the Church in Need supports the faithful wherever they are persecuted, oppressed or in pastoral need.  ACN is a Catholic charity - helping to bring Christ to the world through prayer, information and action.

Founded in 1947 by Father Werenfried van Straaten, whom Pope John Paul II named “An Outstanding Apostle of Charity,” the organization is now at work in over 145 countries throughout the world.

The charity undertakes thousands of projects every year including providing transport for clergy and lay Church workers, construction of church buildings, funding for priests and nuns and help to train seminarians. Since the initiative’s launch in 1979, 43 million Aid to the Church in Need Child’s Bibles have been distributed worldwide.

For more information contact Michael Varenne at michael@churchinneed.org or call 718-609-0939 or fax718-609-0938. Aid to the Church in Need, 725 Leonard Street, PO Box 220384, Brooklyn, NY 11222-0384.  www.churchinneed.org

Monday, April 21, 2014

Easter Triduum for Syrian Catholics

My friend received the following email from the archbishop.  Pray for our persecuted Church!

                                    ARRIVAL IN PORT!

Our Church in Damascus celebrated the evening of Palm Sunday liturgy
The arrival at port on the boat of the Church traveling in time to Lent,
arriving at Holy Week, a haven of salvation.
The faithful gather in front of the closed door of the church, lighted lamps in hand as Wise Virgins (Mt.25 1-13) awaiting the Bridegroom. The door of the church is struck three times before it is open to let in the faithful of the Paschal Lamb who will live the sufferings of Holy Week which culminate in the Empty Tomb.

This holy week was introduced by the murder of Father Franz Homs
in the fourth year of war and violence.
Shells raining down on our neighborhoods, schools closed, we can not give an account of the victims. We are abandoned to Providence.

This small Syrian people, so kind, generous and patient, become accustom to suffering and die in silence.  It is in this spirit that we live Holy Week and Easter holidays, knowing that the Way of the Cross that has marked our lives for three years, accompanies the fourth year ... the end of the tunnel is invisible.

At the opening of the door of the Church the congregation implores:

"O Lord, Mercy Gate, open to those who knock
and ask your saving grace, bring us into the light
of your kingdom, we are the children of your Church come to
our port of welcome, our lamps lit to anchor at your house. "

Our eyes fixed on the Risen Jesus Christ, haven of peace;
we entrust ourselves to Our Lady of Martyrs.

Easter 2014.
                                                                                                      +Samir Nassar
                                                                                       Maronite Archbishop of Damascus


Saturday, April 19, 2014

Happy Birthday Mother Angelica!


How lovely that Mother's birthday falls on Easter!  As a gift to her, I will offer up a spiritual bouquet throughout the day.

May God bless you abundantly dear Mother!

Happy Easter!



I hope you and your family have a very blessed an joyous Easter!  May our Risen Lord bring joy to all of you.

Monday, April 14, 2014

EWTN - EWTN To Air Divine Mercy Events On Same Day “Mercy Pope” Will Be Canonized



Irondale, AL – If not for the support of soon-to-be St. John Paul II, the Divine Mercy devotion might never have been officially approved by the Catholic Church. It is fitting, therefore, that the late Pope, also known as the Mercy Pope, not only be canonized on this feast day, but that EWTN Global Catholic Network broadcast events celebrating the Feast of Divine Mercy from the National Shrine of Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, Mass., official promoters of the Divine Mercy message.
 
Join more than 20,000 people on the grounds of the Shrine and millions more who will follow the Divine Mercy Celebration and more on EWTN. 
 
This year’s lineup includes:
  • “Divine Mercy Preview Show:” The theme for this year’s program, hosted by Fr. Michael Gaitley, MIC, and Fr. Joseph Roesch, MIC, is “Mercy in Action.” Learn how Popes John Paul II and John XXIII lived mercy and how you can too. The program airs live at noon ET, Sunday, April 27, from the National Shrine of the Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, Mass., with an encore at midnight.
  • “Mass & Celebration of Divine Mercy:” Airs live from the National Shrine of Divine Mercy at 1 p.m. ET, Sunday, April 27, with an encore at 1 a.m. ET, Monday, Sept. 28.
  • “Divine Mercy Holy Hour:” Airs live from the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Hanceville, Ala. at 4 p.m. ET, Sunday, April 27, with encores at 3:30 a.m. ET, Thursday, May 12 p.m. ET, Friday, May 2.
  • “Living Mercy:” Our Lady of Mercy Catholic Church's amazing impact on the Baton Rouge, Louisiana community, through their devotion to the Chaplet of Divine Mercy and especially their annual Lenten Novena, which draws Catholics and even non-Catholics by the thousands. This half-hour program airs 5 p.m. ET, Sunday, April 27.
Learn more about the Divine Mercy Devotion at http://www.ewtn.com/devotionals/mercy/index.htm.
 
The programs above may be watched or listened to live on EWTN television by cable or satellite (www.ewtn.com/channelfinder), streaming audio or video on the Internet (http://origin.ewtn.com/audiovideo/index.asp), shortwave (http://www.ewtn.com/radio/freq.htm), EWTN mobile (http://www.ewtnapps.com/), on the EWTN Radio Network via our affiliates, (http://www.ewtn.com/radio/radioaffiliatemap), on SIRIUS satellite radio channel #130 (http://www.sirius.com/ewtn), or on iHeartRadio (www.ewtn.com/radio) , as well as on EWTN’s own YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/ewtn).
 
EWTN Global Catholic Network, in its 33rd year, is available in over 230 million television households in more than 140 countries and territories. With its direct broadcast satellite television and radio services, AM & FM radio networks, worldwide short-wave radio station, Internet website www.ewtn.com, electronic and print news services, and publishing arm, EWTN is the largest religious media network in the world.

Friday, April 11, 2014

ACN News - The calvary of Julienne: When a Catholic woman marries a Muslim man

By Jean-Claude Gaston


“Six years ago, when I first started college, I met my husband-to-be,” says Julienne, a young Congolese woman in her early thirties. A fervent Catholic, she has just emerged from four years of intense moral, physical and emotional suffering that marked her marriage to a Muslim man whose initial respect and tolerance of her faith turned out to be lie.

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Christians form the overwhelming majority, with Muslims accounting for less than 10 percent of the population. Here, as is common of many cultures across the world, marriage is a goal and dream for many girls and their families, as it provides a significant social boost.  It is a source of great pride for the parents and provides economic gain.

Some young women are obligated to change their religion and practices in order to join the faith of the husband. When they object, it is often their impoverished parents who pressure them to accede. Under such circumstances, unions do not last long and the young bride has a very bad time of it. For Julienne, her marriage was a nightmare.

“He was a science student, a few years older than me, at the same school,” she recalls.

“I gave him all my heart and I loved him dearly. All seemed to be going well. I continued to regularly attend Mass and sometimes he would come with me to Church Sunday evenings.”

“There was not a hint of violence in his demeanor. On the contrary, he showed himself to be generous and loving. He only went to the mosque on the great feast days and swore that he would never oppose my Catholic faith.”

“A year after the start of our relationship, he came to visit me and my parents along with his own father and stepmother. My parents agreed and gave him my hand.”

“He took the fact of our relationship now being official as a carte blanche.  I began to notice changes in his behavior and in his attitude toward me. Little by little, he began to forbid me going to Church. ‘You know very well that I’m Muslim and so you must stop attending that Church where you worship “statues and pictures,” he would say.

“He began to plan his visits, our walks, almost always on Sundays and at such times that prevented me from going to Mass,” says Julienne, continuing her story.

“As time went by and the date of our wedding approached, he became more demanding and insistent: ‘There is no question of you attending that ‘Church of 666 [in an allusion to the Book of the Apocalypse],’ he’d say. ‘You have to start coming with me to the mosque and change the way you dress.” That became an almost daily refrain.”

“At that point I began to have serious doubts; insecurity and fear got a hold of me. I started to circumvent his vigilance to go to Mass some Saturday evenings. Sometimes I even pretended to escape our Sunday outings just so that I could go to Mass.”

“I decided to speak to my parents, to tell them of my intention to break off the engagement and give up on our impending marriage. But instead of finding comfort with my parents, they reprimanded me severely and threatened to disown me if I were to proceed with my plans.”

“They were strengthened in their opposition by my aunts and uncles who also were hoping to reap the benefits of my marriage to this son of a well-off family.”

“Despite my determination and the bond to my faith, I was forced to give in and had a traditional wedding according to traditional Muslim rites.”

This was the beginning of the calvary of Julienne, who suffered bitter humiliation, physical and emotional abuse, the denigration of her faith, and descent into near despair.

“I had all the comforts I could want in our home and even had a Jeep at my disposal. I lacked nothing, I had everything, except peace,” she recalls. 

“In the four years of our marriage, I knew no happiness in our household. On days that he was not traveling, my ex-husband would come home for lunch. Hearing the sound of his car on approach gave me chills.”

“It often happened that when he got home he wanted to make love, in always very rough and inappropriate ways, and right where he found me, and he would be extremely brutal.”

“He said to me openly: ‘You are my pleasure object; you have to do what I want and if you don’t want to, you can leave her and join the nuns. And even those nuns are there just to pleasure the priests.’”

Nonetheless, Julienne remained firm in her faith. “Whenever he was away from home traveling, I would spend two or three days intensely praying to Jesus, beseeching Him to transform my husband and return him to his senses.”

“I had my Bible and rosary, which I kept hidden where our food supplies were kept, in a part of the house where he almost never went.”

“A year into our marriage, he married a second woman, a Muslim this time. My suffering greatly increased. He did not spend every night in our home; he spent nearly every day with his second wife. He came to me only to satisfy his physical desires and in the brutal way he preferred.”

“He also began to beat me violently. ‘Your Church has made you silly and a hypocrite,’ he would say. ‘Continue praying to your fake virgin and ask her to help you.’”

Almost five years later, Julienne decided to end the marriage and sought refuge with one of her aunts. “When I had reached my limit and began to risk getting gravely ill, I left him without saying goodbye.”

“Taking advantage of his nearly always being away from home, I took three months to get ready to separate from this man. With my aunt’s help I escaped and moved in with her in Kigali. I didn’t even tell my parents I fled.”

“My aunt treated me with lots of affection and made sure I received psychiatric care to address my deeply traumatic experiences. Bit by bit, I came back to life, becoming a radiant woman again.”

“I kept going to Church, now in complete freedom, and renewed my relationship with the sacraments, including Communion, which I had to do without for several years.”

“A year later I went back to college and I have since graduated. I feel proud, free and independent.”

“Little by little, I have rebuilt my life,” Julienne affirms, “with determination, conviction and a big smile.”


For privacy and security reasons, names of both protagonist and author are altered. The writer who recorded this testimony is a correspondent for Aid to the Church in Need.


Editor’s Notes:


Directly under the Holy Father, Aid to the Church in Need supports the faithful wherever they are persecuted, oppressed or in pastoral need.  ACN is a Catholic charity - helping to bring Christ to the world through prayer, information and action.

Founded in 1947 by Father Werenfried van Straaten, whom Pope John Paul II named “An Outstanding Apostle of Charity,” the organization is now at work in over 145 countries throughout the world.

The charity undertakes thousands of projects every year including providing transport for clergy and lay Church workers, construction of church buildings, funding for priests and nuns and help to train seminarians. Since the initiative’s launch in 1979, 43 million Aid to the Church in Need Child’s Bibles have been distributed worldwide.

For more information contact Michael Varenne at michael@churchinneed.org or call 718-609-0939 or fax718-609-0938. Aid to the Church in Need, 725 Leonard Street, PO Box 220384, Brooklyn, NY 11222-0384.  www.churchinneed.org

Anti-Catholic imagery in Christian movies

For a while now, I have been watching and recommending movies by Protestant film companies, otherwise referred to as Christian films.  We have watched many movies by Christian Films as well as PureFlix. However, this recommendation came to the end the other evening.

I had enjoyed a movie produced by the latter film company entitled The Book of Daniel. I thought it was good timing seeing as the reading of the day was about the three  young Jewish youths being placed in a very hot fire by King Nebuchadnezzar because they refused to bow down to the statue of the king.

However, it was before Mass the following morning that my mom brought something to my attention.  She asked me if I thought the statue looked a little like a pope.  I looked at her quite quizzically and responded with an emphatic "NO", that it was the statue of Nebuchadnezzar.  She insisted to me that it was an image of a Catholic pope.

Later that day, I fast forwarded to the image of the statue in the movie (which we watched via Netflix).  To my surprise, I saw that my mother was correct! (Although, to me, it looks more like St. Patrick without his bishop's mitre).

See for yourselves:

Statue of King Nebuchadnezzar from movie Book of Daniel
Since when is a pagan king depicted with a shepherd's staff, two fingers raised in blessing and with crosses on priestly vestments?

The following is how I pictured Nebuchadnezzar and I'm sure many others did too:



Picture source.

You can see there is a huge difference between the depiction by Pureflix and a Protestant bible illustration.

To be fair and to give the producers the benefit of the doubt, I contacted them via Twitter. But they did not respond.

In these times where forces of evil are persecuting Christians everywhere, I was hoping this persecution would unite us.  Sadly, it looks like Catholics are still not considered Christians by some who call themselves Christians, and who knows, something even worse perhaps.