Saturday, May 20, 2006

Today I Taught My Child

mother and child
Thank you for sharing this Marcella.

When I got mad today and hit my child
"For his own good, " I reconciled,
and then I realized my plight...
Today, I taught my child to fight.

When interrupted by the phone,
I said, "tell them I'm not home."
And then I thought, and had to sigh...
Today I taught my child to lie.

I told the tax man what I made,
forgetting cash that was paid,
And than I blushed at this sad feat...
Today I taught my child to cheat.

I smugly copied a cassette,
To keep me from one more debt,
But now the bells of shame must peal...
Today I taught my child to steal.

Today I cursed another race,
Oh God, protect what I debase,
for now, I fear it is too late...
Today I taught my child to hate.

By my example, children learn
That I must lead in life's sojourn
In such a way they are led
By what is done and not what is said.

Today I gave my child his due
By praise for him instead of rue.
And now I have begun my guide;
Today I gave my child his pride.

I now have reconciled and paid
to IRS all that I have made.
And now I know that this dear youth,
Today has learned from me the truth.

The alms I give are not for show,
And yet, this child must surely know
That charity is worth the price:
Today he saw my sacrifice.

I clasp within a warm embrace
My neighbor of another race.
The great commandment from up above.
Today I taught my child to love.

Someday my child must face alone
This fearsome undertone,
But I have blazed a sure pathway:
Today I taught my child to pray.

-- Author Unknown

The Hail Mary

Shared by Catholic Answers Forum
Thank you Di of Catholic Community for sharing this beautiful story of the Hail Mary.

Hail Mary,
Full of Grace,
The Lord is with Thee.
Blessed art Thou among women,
And Blessed is the Fruit
Of Thy Womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary,
Mother of God,
Pray for us sinners now,
And at the hour of death.

Millions of Catholics often say the Hail Mary. Some repeat it hastily not even thinking on the words they are saying. These following words may help some say it more thoughtfully. They can give God's Mother great joy and obtain for themselves graces that she wishes to give them.

One Hail Mary well said fills the heart of Our Lady with delight and obtains for us indescribably great graces.

One Hail Mary well said gives us more graces than a thousand thoughtlessly said.

The Hail Mary is like a mine of gold that we can always take from but never exhaust. Is it hard to say the Hail Mary well? All we have to do is to know its value and understand its meaning.

St. Jerome tells us that "the truths contained in the Hail Mary are so sublime, so wonderful that no man or Angel could fully understand them."

St. Thomas Aquinas, the Prince of Theologians, "the wisest of Saints and holiest of wise men," as Leo XIII called him, preached for 40 days in Rome on the Hail Mary, filling his hearers with rapture.

Father F. Suarez, the holy and learned Jesuit, declared when dying that he would willingly give all the many learned books he wrote, all his life's labors, for the merit of one Hail Mary prayerfully and devoutly said.

St. Mechtilde, who loved our Lady very much, was one day striving to compose a beautiful prayer in her honor. Our Lady appeared to her, with the golden letters on her breast of: "Hail Mary full of grace." She said to her: Desist, dear child, from your labor for no prayer you could possibly compose would give me the joy and delight of the Hail Mary."

A certain man found joy in saying slowly the Hail Mary. The Blessed Virgin in return appeared to him smiling and announced to him the day and hour that he should die, granting him a most holy and happy death. After death a beautiful white lily grew from his mouth having written on its petals: "Hail Mary."

Cesarius recounts a similar incident. A humble and holy monk lived in the monastery. His poor mind and memory were so weak that he could only repeat one prayer which was the "Hail Mary." After death a tree grew over his grave and on all its leaves was written: "Hail Mary."

These beautiful legends show us how much devotion to Our Lady was valued, and the power attributed to the Hail Mary devoutly prayed.

Each time that we say the Hail Mary we are repeating the very same words with which St. Gabriel the Archangel saluted Mary on the day of the Annunciation, when she was made Mother of the Son of God.

Many graces and joys filled the soul of Mary at that moment.

Now when we say the Hail Mary we offer anew all these graces and joys to Our Lady and she accepts them with Immense delight. In return she gives us a share in these joys.

Once Our Lord asked St. Francis Assisi to give Him something. The Saint replied: "Dear Lord, I can give You nothing for I have already given you all all my love." Jesus smiled and said: "Francis, give Me it all again and again, it will give Me the same pleasure."

So with our dearest Mother, she accepts from us each time we say the Hail Mary the joys and delight she received from the words of St. Gabriel.

Almighty God gave His Blessed Mother all the dignity, greatness and holiness necessary to make her His own most perfect Mother. But He also gave her all the sweetness, love, tenderness and affection necessary to make her our most loving Mother. Mary is truly and really our Mother.

As children when in trouble run to their mothers for help, so ought we to run at once with
unbounded confidence to Mary.

St. Bernard and many Saints said that it was never, never heard at any time or in any place that Mary refused to hear the prayers of her children on earth.

Why do we not realize this most consoling truth? Why refuse the love and consolation that God's Sweet Mother is offering us?

Is it our lamentable ignorance which deprives us of such help and consolation.

To love and trust Mary is to be happy on earth now and afterwards to be happy in Heaven.

Dr. Hugh Lammer was a staunch Protestant, with strong prejudices against the Catholic Church. One day he found an explanation of the Hail Mary and read it. He was so charmed with it that he began to say it daily. Insensibly all his anti-Catholic animosity began to disappear. He became a Catholic, a holy priest and a professor of Catholic Theology in Breslau.

A priest was called to the bedside of a man who was dying in despair because of his sins. Yet he refused obstinately to go to confession. As a last recourse the priest asked him to say at least the Hail Mary after which the poor man made a sincere confession and died a holy death.

In England, a parish priest was asked to go and see a Protestant lady who was gravely ill, and who wished to become a Catholic. Asked if she had ever gone to a Catholic Church, or, if she had spoken to Catholics, or if she had read Catholic books? She replied, "No, no." All she could remember was that------when a child------she had learned from a little Catholic neighbor
girl the Hail Mary, which she said every night. She was Baptized and before dying had the happiness of seeing her husband and children Baptized.

St. Gertrude tells us in her book, "Revelations" that when we thank God for the graces He has given to any Saint, we get a great share of those particular graces. What graces, then, do we not receive when we say the Hail Mary while thanking God for all the unspeakable graces He has given His Blessed Mother?

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

BOOK REVIEW - Understanding Medjugorje

Written by Donal A Foley
Theotokos Books

Reviewed by Francis Phillips

Not long ago, a news item in the press that attracted worldwide coverage was a report that Cardinal George Pell of Sydney had refused to allow one of the Medjugorje visionaries to speak on the subject in a church in his diocese. This was because to grant her permission would have given tacit official approval to the apparitions that are allegedly taking place in this Croatian village. What was the reason that lay behind his decision? This important new book provides the answer.

From 24 June 1981 five teenagers and a younger boy from a small village in Bosnia-Herzegovina called Bijakovici near Medjugorje first began seeing apparitions on a local hill of someone they called “Gospa” – Croatian for “Our Lady”. By 2004, when Bishop Ratko Peric of Mostar, the local diocese, addressed a conference at Maynooth on the subject, 33, 000 alleged visions had been seen and a possible 57 “secrets” had been imparted. As these sightings are still occurring daily to some of the original group, monthly or annually to others, the figures need constant revision. It is this phenomenon that Foley, author of the scholarly Marian Apparitions, the Bible, and the Modern World, seeks to investigate.

The question he addresses is: are these visions from heaven or are they a religious illusion? Referring to the subject of the apparitions diplomatically as “the Vision”, he has conducted a painstaking and thorough investigation of every aspect of the case and, in an area fraught with strong, even aggressive opinions his tone is moderate and charitable throughout. He begins by surveying the historical background to this turbulent patch of the Balkans: the centuries of isolation when Franciscans kept the faith alive; the 20th century violence between the Serb Chetniks and the Croat Ustasha; the mixture of heresy and pagan religion which has historically characterised the region; and, most significant, the long-running dispute between the local Church authority, vested in the Ordinary, and the Franciscan friars. These resented Pope Leo XIII’s re-establishment of the secular clergy’s authority. This resentment has never been resolved.

Foley draws attention also to the close links between the Charismatic Renewal movement and the Medjugorje story. Fr Jozo Zovko, the Franciscan parish priest in June 1981, was very involved in charismatic prayer-groups. Charismatic channels undoubtedly helped initially to spread the phenomenon; these channels have continued to broadcast the regular messages from the Vision around the world. The Marian theologian, Fr Rene Laurentin, an eloquent supporter of the movement who has helped to give it credibility, is also a committed charismatic. Youth 2000, one of the Church’s new movements, has been linked to Medjugorje. But Foley points out that its founder, Ernest Williams, received his initial inspiration in Fatima in 1989 and that the CTS booklet on Youth 2000 states that it “awaits the definitive ruling of the Church” on the matter.

The author devotes much space to an analysis of the original 17 taped interviews with the seers, conducted by Fr Zovko and Fr Cuvalo, the parochial vicar, between 27-30 June1981. These have certain disquieting features and are usually ignored in the copious Medjugorje literature. Vicka, one of the girls, mentions touching and kissing the Vision, who “kept laughing”; Ivan, the older boy, said the Vision’s hands were “trembling”. The Vision told the seers she would stay “as long as you wish!” She obligingly moved into the parish church (and then the presbytery) when the Communist authorities opposed the growing crowds on the hillside. All this, Foley suggests, is contrary to the comportment of Our Lady in her approved apparitions. His methodology includes close comparisons between the Medjugorje story and Fatima, two of whose seers have been beatified and whose spirituality has been profoundly influential in the teaching of John Paul II. He also makes the point that Our Lady’s role in the economy of salvation has always been just that; economical: few apparitions, succinct messages.

To my mind the most disturbing feature of this affair is not the charismatic element with its attendant publicity machine; nor is it the lifestyles of the seers, with their large houses and constant foreign tours; nor is it even the odd behaviour of the Vision, who is alleged to have appeared on fences, in fields, on a bell tower, in a bus, with her banal messages and their occasional dubious theology. It is simply the flagrant disobedience of the local Franciscans towards proper Church authority – their Bishop. After a lengthy investigation of the events the Ordinary of Mostar, Bishop Zanic, sent his definitive negative conclusions to the then Cardinal Ratzinger, Prefect of the CDF, in April 1986. Even before this, the former head of the CDF, Cardinal Seper, had stated. “When the Franciscans obey the decrees of the Holy See, then I shall consider this phenomenon, not before.” In 1991 the Yugoslav Bishops’ Conference effectively supported Bishop Zanic’s conclusions by 19 votes with one abstention, in stating that after nearly ten years of alleged visions, it could not be affirmed that “supernatural apparitions and revelations” had taken place.

In October 1994, when attending the Synod of Bishops, Bishop Peric, Zanic’s successor, referred to many irregularities in Medjugorje: unauthorised religious communities establishing themselves; churches being built without permission; local Franciscans acting in disobedience. By 1997, more than 40 Franciscans were engaged in pastoral work in the diocese without faculties (i.e. diocesan permission). Adherents of Medjugorje always emphasise its “good fruits” – but surely the discord and divisiveness generated by such disobedience is very bad fruit? After all, it was disobedience – and a rotten apple – that drove our first parents out of Eden.

On the question of “good fruit”, Foley comments that conversions and renewed spiritual zeal are always good if they are genuine, lasting and not a transient emotional experience. He asks: in 25 years have the thousands of apparitions led to a renewal of parish life, fervour for the sacraments, increased vocations in our declining Western congregations? Or have they often led to an insatiable desire for more signs, wonders and messages - and to conflict and scandal? He quotes a priest-critic of those who adopt a too credulous attitude: “The devil is willing to tolerate some real good, so long as he has hope of accomplishing greater evil out of the affair in the long run.” The author is at pains to emphasise that the thousands of visitors to Medjugorje over the years have come in good faith, ignorant of the dissensions and scandals that surround the place; but their sincerity is no guarantee of authenticity. Further, he believes that the frenetic activities at the site have distracted attention from Fatima, the most spiritually significant of the approved apparitions of the 20th century. Foley’s sober presentation of facts is laborious and his style pedantic; but this very pedantry matters where rumour, unsubstantiated claims, fierce partisanship and rank disobedience are rife. This summer marks the 25th anniversary of the sightings, and there is no end in sight. Huge crowds, hungering for the supernatural, are expected at Medjugorje. Are they being led closer to God – or astray by his adversary? This is the question readers of this judicious and informative book must ask themselves.

Donal Anthony Foley has been researching Marian apparitions, and Marian theology, since the mid-1990s. He has degrees in Humanities (BA) and Theology (BD), and his book on the subject - Marian Apparitions, the Bible, and the Modern World - was published by Gracewing in 2002. He has written articles for a number of Catholic magazines, including the Homiletic and Pastoral Review, and also maintains a related website at:

Francis Phillips is married with eight children and reviews extensively forCatholic publications in the UK and also for Mercator, an Australian on-linemagazine.