Saturday, June 03, 2006

Feast of Pentecost - Happy Birthday to Our Church

Pentacost (Graphic courtesy of Catholic Homeschooling in Hawaii)
Following is from The Little White Book

(The event of Pentecost is described only in Luke's Acts of the Apostles.)

"When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place
together. And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving
wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were. Then there appeared to
them tongues like flames of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of
them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in
different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim." -(Acts 2:1-4)

Today is often called the birthday of the Church. Jesus laid the foundation of this Church, but after He ascended into heaven, we might not have lasted if the Holy Spirit had not come to be with us.

When you step back and look at the life of this Church - something often done on birthdays - you begin to appreciate the storms that this ship has ridden through and survived only because the Spirit lives with us.

Think of the early Church which knew confusion and uncertainty and dissension. But the Spirit was with them.

Think of those early centuries of persecution - how frightening that must have been. We have never seen a persecution.

Think about those early heresies. They didn't involve questions like Communion in the hand or the length of sisters' habits. They involved the most basic questions of our Creed - the divinity of Jesus, the nature of man. We have never lived through a real heresy.

Think of the fall of the Roman Empire, the barbarian invasions, the Dark Ages. Church offices were bought and sold. At one time, popes and bishops seem to be in the hands of princes and kings. One time three different popes claimed to the true pope. It must have been difficult to live in times like that. But the Holy Spirit was there.

Today we give thanks for the presence of the Spirit. Our hope and our trust and our security are not ultimately in the abilities of popes, bishops, priests. We are secure because the Spirit is with us.

Jesus does not give us a perfect Church - our sins and failures are always with us. But He gives us a Church that does not fall irretrievable into error and sinfulness.

That is enough.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Devotions to the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Sacred Heart (from the picture that hangs in our home)

As you probably already know, the month of June is dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

It seems hard to believe that in these ultra-modern days and the secularistic society that surrounds us, that traditinal Catholic devotions, like the devotions to the Sacred Heart of Jesus are being practiced by more and more Catholic families.

What is the history of this devotion?

Well, Jesus appeared to a seventeen year old girl named of Margaret Mary Alacoque. He appeared to her as He was after He had been scourged. Following the apparition of our Lord, Margaret Mary entered the Order of the Visitation.

She had a very strong devotion to our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament and she loved Him very much.

Jesus showed her His Sacred Heart in four visions. The flames that are depicted in pictures of Jesus' Sacred Heart are to remind us of his burning love for each and every one of us and of His desire for us to love Him in return.

The crowns of thorn that surround His Sacred Heart are to remind us of sacrifice for the reparation of sin.

Jesus made twelve promises to St. Margaret Mary for those who honored His Sacred Heart.

1. I will give them all the graces necessary for their state of life.

2. I will give peace in their families.

3. I will console them in all their troubles.

4. They shall find in My Heart an assured refuge during life and especially at the hour of death.
5. I will pour abundant blessings on all their undertakings.

6. Sinners shall find in My Heart the source and infinite ocean of mercy.

7. Tepid souls shall become fervent.

8. Fervent souls shall speedily rise to great perfection.

9. I will bless the homes in which the image of My sacred Heart shall be exposes and honored.
10. I will give to priests the power to touch the most hardened hearts.

11. Those who propagate this devotion shall have their name written in My Heart, and it shall never be effaced.

12. The all-powerful love of My Heart will grant to all those who shall receive Communion on the First Friday of nine consecutive months the grace of final repentance; they shall not die under My displeasure, nor without receiving their Sacraments; My Heart shall be their assured refuge at that last hour.

Another way to honor the Sacred Heart of Jesus is have to your home enthroned. When your home is enthroned, you are making Jesus the King of your family.

For more information on these devotions, check out the following:

EWTN's Sacred Hearts Page

Miracle of the Rosary Mission

Fr. John Hardon's Devotion to the Holy Eucharist Advances Devotion to Jesus' Person


Marian Catechists - Home Enthronement of the Sacred Heart

EWTN Family Enthronement Ritual

Steve Woods' Beginning a Men's Apostolate with Home Enthronements of the Sacred Heart

(Brief history of the Sacred Heart is by Father Lovasik)

Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion. General Principles

Thanks to Sharon of Catholic PSP for sharing the following:

(From Priests for Life )

[Note: The following memorandum was sent by Cardinal Ratzinger to Cardinal McCarrick and was made public in the first week of July 2004.]

Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion. General Principles

by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger

1. Presenting oneself to receive Holy Communion should be a conscious decision, based on a reasoned judgement regarding one’s worthiness to do so, according to the Church’s objective criteria, asking such questions as: "Am I in full communion with the Catholic Church? Am I guilty of grave sin? Have I incurred a penalty (e.g. excommunication, interdict) that forbids me to receive Holy Communion? Have I prepared myself by fasting for at least an hour?" The practice of indiscriminately presenting oneself to receive Holy Communion, merely as a consequence of being present at Mass, is an abuse that must be corrected (cf. Instruction "Redemptionis Sacramentum," nos. 81, 83).

2. The Church teaches that abortion or euthanasia is a grave sin. The Encyclical Letter Evangelium vitae, with reference to judicial decisions or civil laws that authorise or promote abortion or euthanasia, states that there is a "grave and clear obligation to oppose them by conscientious objection. [...] In the case of an intrinsically unjust law, such as a law permitting abortion or euthanasia, it is therefore never licit to obey it, or to ‘take part in a propoganda campaign in favour of such a law or vote for it’" (no. 73). Christians have a "grave obligation of conscience not to cooperate formally in practices which, even if permitted by civil legislation, are contrary to God’s law. Indeed, from the moral standpoint, it is never licit to cooperate formally in evil. [...] This cooperation can never be justified either by invoking respect for the freedom of others or by appealing to the fact that civil law permits it or requires it" (no. 74).

3. Not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia. For example, if a Catholic were to be at odds with the Holy Father on the application of capital punishment or on the decision to wage war, he would not for that reason be considered unworthy to present himself to receive Holy Communion. While the Church exhorts civil authorities to seek peace, not war, and to exercise discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on criminals, it may still be permissible to take up arms to repel an aggressor or to have recourse to capital punishment. There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia.

4. Apart from an individuals’s judgement about his worthiness to present himself to receive the Holy Eucharist, the minister of Holy Communion may find himself in the situation where he must refuse to distribute Holy Communion to someone, such as in cases of a declared excommunication, a declared interdict, or an obstinate persistence in manifest grave sin (cf. can. 915).

5. Regarding the grave sin of abortion or euthanasia, when a person’s formal cooperation becomes manifest (understood, in the case of a Catholic politician, as his consistently campaigning and voting for permissive abortion and euthanasia laws), his Pastor should meet with him, instructing him about the Church’s teaching, informing him that he is not to present himself for Holy Communion until he brings to an end the objective situation of sin, and warning him that he will otherwise be denied the Eucharist.

6. When "these precautionary measures have not had their effect or in which they were not possible," and the person in question, with obstinate persistence, still presents himself to receive the Holy Eucharist, "the minister of Holy Communion must refuse to distribute it" (cf. Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts Declaration "Holy Communion and Divorced, Civilly Remarried Catholics" [2002], nos. 3-4). This decision, properly speaking, is not a sanction or a penalty. Nor is the minister of Holy Communion passing judgement on the person’s subjective guilt, but rather is reacting to the person’s public unworthiness to receive Holy Communion due to an objective situation of sin.

[N.B. A Catholic would be guilty of formal cooperation in evil, and so unworthy to present himself for Holy Communion, if he were to deliberately vote for a candidate precisely because of the candidate’s permissive stand on abortion and/or euthanasia. When a Catholic does not share a candidate’s stand in favour of abortion and/or euthanasia, but votes for that candidate for other reasons, it is considered remote material cooperation, which can be permitted in the presence of proportionate reasons.]

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The Worth of a Mother

The most important Person on earth is a mother. She cannot claim the honor of having built Notre Dame Cathedral. She need not. She has built something more magnificent than any cathedral – a dwelling place for an immortal soul, the tiny perfection of her baby's body¦ The angels have not been blessed with such a grace. They cannot share in God's creative miracle to bring new saints to Heaven. Only a human mother
can. Mothers are closer to God the Creator than any other creature; God joins forces with mothers in performing this act of creation… What on God's good earth is more glorious than this: to be a mother.

Cardinal Mindszenty of Hungary

A Mother's Influence

Thanks to Sue of Catholic Community for sharing the following.

A mother cannot always directly influence a son or daughter whose faith or moral conduct is at risk, but at any time of the day or night she can use the invisible communication network of the guardian angels. An angel, mobilized by his mother, can suddenly remind a young man of some resolution or promise. And this reminder can be of decisive importance. Sometimes it
takes very little to influence an indecisive will. The guardian angels are there precisely to serve men as they make their way towards God.


Beatitudes for Mothers

Thank you Sue of Catholic Community.

Blessed are the Mothers who love God, for their children shall
not be ignorant of their Creator and His plans concerning them.

Blessed are the Mothers who love the word of God, for their
children shall know of the way, the truth and the life.

Blessed are the Mothers who love the house of God, for their
children shall enter there and sit with them in the presence of God.

Blessed are the Mothers who love to pray, for their children
shall feel the power of prayer and many shall find salvation.

Blessed are the Mothers who love to give to the cause of Christ,
for their children shall become tithers and supporters of the Kingdom of God.

Blessed are the Mothers who love the family altar, for they
shall have their reward in this world and in the world to come.

Blessed are the Mothers who love to speak kind words to their
neighbor's children, for thereby they shall win
other boys and girls besides their own to Jesus Christ.

Blessed are the Mothers who love to be companions to their
children, for they shall be called understanding Mothers.

Blessed are the Mothers who love to fight life's battles
bravely with a strong and steadfast faith in God, for their
children shall know where to find strength in time of need.

Blessed are the Mothers who, when they are old and gray,
can look back upon memory's wall with no regret and can say,
"I brought my children up in the fear of the Lord."
Theirs are the mansions in glory.

Author unknown

The Media and the Family

JP2(Photo courtesy of New Ind Press)

Thanks to Dave of Catholic Community for sharing the following:

A message of Pope John Paul II

Here are excerpts from the message John Paul II wrote for
the 2004 World Communications Day, dated January 24, 2004, called "The
Media and the Family: A Risk and a Richness":

Thanks to the unprecedented expansion of the communications market in recent decades, many families throughout the world, even those of quite modest means, now have access in their own homes to immense and varied media resources. As a result, they enjoy virtually unlimited opportunities for information, education, cultural
expansion, and even spiritual growth — opportunities that far exceed those available to most families in earlier times.

Yet these same media also have the capacity to do grave harm to families by presenting an inadequate or even deformed outlook on life, on the family, on religion, and on morality. This power either to reinforce or override traditional values like religion, culture, and family was clearly seen by the Second Vatican Council, which taught that "if the media are to be correctly employed, it is essential that all who use them know the principles of the moral order, and apply them faithfully" ("Inter Mirifica," 4). Communication in any form must always
be inspired by the ethical criterion of respect for the truth and for
the dignity of the human person.

The family and family life are all too often inadequately portrayed in the media. Infidelity, sexual activity outside of marriage,and the absence of a moral and spiritual vision of the marriage covenant are depicted uncritically, while positive support is at times given to divorce, contraception, abortion, and homosexuality. Such portrayals, by promoting causes inimical to marriage and the family, are detrimental to the common good of society.

Conscientious reflection on the ethical dimension of communications should issue in practical initiatives aimed at eliminating the risks to the well-being of the family posed by the media, and ensuring that these powerful instruments of communication
will remain genuine sources of enrichment. A special responsibility in this regard lies with communicators themselves, with public authorities, and with parents.

It is not so easy to resist commercial pressures or the demands of conformity to secular ideologies, but that is what responsible communicators must do. The stakes are high, since every attack on the fundamental value of the family is an attack on the true good of humanity.

Public authorities themselves have a serious duty to uphold marriage and the family for the sake of society itself. Instead, many now accept and act upon the unsound libertarian arguments of groups which advocate practices which contribute to the grave phenomenon of family crisis and the weakening of the very concept of the family.Without resorting to censorship, it is imperative that public authorities set in place regulatory policies and procedures to ensure that the media do not act against the good of the family. Family representatives should be part of this policy-making.

Parents also need to regulate the use of media in the home. This would include planning and scheduling media use, strictly limiting the time children devote to media, making entertainment a family experience, putting some media entirely off limits, and periodically excluding all of them for the sake of other family
activities. Above all, parents should give good example to children by their own thoughtful and selective use of media.

The media of social communications have an enormous positive potential for promoting sound human and family values, and thus contributing to the renewal of society. In view of their great power to shape ideas and influence behavior, professional communicators should recognize that they have a moral responsibility not only to give
families all possible encouragement, assistance, and support to that end, but also to exercise wisdom, good judgment, and fairness in their presentation of issues involving sexuality, marriage, and family life.

John Paul II

Monday, May 29, 2006

How to Make Your Own Mary Garden

From BeliefNet

A Mary Garden is a garden dedicated to Mary, the Mother of God. In a Mary Garden, which can be as small as a clay pot or as large as a city block, a statue of Mary is surrounded by herbs and flowers related to her through legends or naming.

Your personal Mary Garden can grow in a secluded corner of your garden or backyard, or be open to the neighborhood in front of your house. It can be in a pot on your windowsill, on a patio, or on an indoor table.

A Mary Garden can be formal or wild, sunny or shady, and contain annuals and perennials, herbs, ground covers, and shrubs. It can be planted with bulbs to bloom in the early spring, flowering plants that continue into the fall, and evergreens that give color in winter.

Mary's image may be a statue, plaque, holy card, or icon. Ann Duffy of Annapolis, Md., painted the likeness of Mary's face from a holy card onto a piece of wood and waterproofed it for her outdoor garden. A large concrete statue of Mary, found in a garden-ornaments shop, graces my own Mary Garden.

The location, size, and soil of the site will determine what can be planted in an outdoor garden. After that, personal preference, and sometimes Divine Providence, is the guide. Since the Mary names of hundreds of flowers and herbs have survived--Our Lady's Shoes for columbines, Mary's Tears for lilies of the valley, and so forth (see the main story for more)--your garden may contain many of your favorite flowers, planted with the intention of honoring Mary and representing her many attributes. An indoor garden may be planted in a dish, planter, glass, or fishbowl.

Although I do not know the original source, the following which goes into a little more detail, was shared by Kaylan of Catholic Community.

Mary Garden

The joy over the appearance of new plants and flowers in spring prompted man to attribute to them a special power of protection and healing. People planted special spring flower gardens; they brought branches of early-blossoming plants, like pussy willows, into their homes; they decorated themselves and their living rooms with wreaths of flowers and clusters of blossoms. A striking Christian variation of these nature rites was the medieval custom of planting "Mary gardens," which were made up of all the flowers and herbs that are ascribed by love and legend as a special tribute to the Blessed Virgin. This charming and inspiring tradition has been revived in many places in Europe and more recently in this country.

In a typical Mary garden the statue of the Madonna occupies a place of honor, either in the center or in a grotto against the wall, with, usually, a birdbath or bubbling fountain built in front of it. Some of the more familiar plants of the many that belong in a typical Mary garden are:

Columbine and Trefoil are said to have sprung forth at the touch of Mary's foot, and consequently bear the popular names Our Lady's shoes or Our Lady's slippers.
Marigold (Mary's bud) has bell-shaped blossoms of vivid yellow. An old legend says, "Her dresses were adorned with Marigold." This flower was used to decorate her shrines for the Feast of the Annunciation (March 25) and during the month of May.

Lily-of-the-valley (Our Lady's tears). This delicate flower is still widely used in Germany, there it is called Maiglockchen (May bells), to decorate the Mary shrines in churches and homes during the Virgin's month (May).

Foxgloves thrive in moist and shaded places; they blossom in many colors and present a most attractive sight with their clusters of little bells, which were called Our Lady's thimbles in medieval times.

Snowdrop. This charming flower is the first herald of spring in Europe. It often blossoms as early as Candlemas (February 2) between batches of melting snow; hence the name. In Germany it is called "Snow bell" (Schneeglocklein). Little bouquets of snowdrops are the first floral tribute of the year at the shrines of the Madonna on Candlemas. It is a popular emblem of Mary's radiant purity and of her freedom from any stain of sin.

Lily. This stately and dignified flower has been associated from ancient times with Jesus and Mary, and is called Madonna lily in many parts of Europe. At Easter its brilliant and fragrant blossoms symbolize the radiance of the Lord's risen life. Later in the year it is used to decorate the shrines of Mary, especially on July 2, the Feast of the Visitation. It also is an old and traditional symbol of innocence, purity, and virginity.

Rosemary produces delicate and fragrant blossoms of pale blue color in early spring. according to legend, the plant originally bloomed in white; however, it turned blue (Mary's color) in reward for the service it offered when Our Lady looked for some bush on which to spread her Child's tiny garments after having washed them on the way to Egypt. The bushes do not grow very tall but as they grow older they spread out and thicken, forming a dense bush. There is an old superstition that "the rosemary passeth not commonly the height of Christ when he was on earth."

Violets are dedicated to Mary as symbols of her humility. They are said to have blossomed forth outside her window when she spoke the words, "Behold, I am a handmaid of the Lord." Leaving her, the angel of God blessed the little flowers in passing, thus endowing them with the tenderest and most beautiful fragrance of all plants.

Roses were associated with Mary from early times. Saint Dominic (1221) is credited with the spreading of the familiar devotion called the "Rosary (rosarium) of the Blessed Virgin Mary." The word "rosary" originally meant a rose garden but was later used in the sense of "rose garland." Three colors are especially consecrated to Mary: white roses as symbols of her joys, red roses as emblems of her sufferings, and yellow (golden) roses as heralds of her glories.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Coverage of the Holy Father's Trip to Poland


(Photo courtesy of CBS News)

Well, our Holy Father's trip to Poland ended today. And, thanks to the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN), people around the world were able to follow this moving trip.

Here in Hawaii, Oceanic Cable does not carry EWTN. They are under the impression they carry sufficient Christian networks. But fortunately, we were able to watch it live via the internet.

This particular trip was poignant for many reasons. One was the Pope Benedict XVI was traveling to the homeland of his predecessor and beloved son of Poland, Pope John Paul II. He visited the hometown of John Paul II and visited his childhood home which is now a museum.

The people in Poland greeted this holy father as lovingly as they had welcomed John Paul II when he visited his homeland.

Another reason this trip was so meaningful was the fact that Benedict XVI, a German pope, made a point to visit Auschwitz-Birkenau, the infamous death camps where innocent men, women and children were put to death simply because they were Jews or because they helped the Jews.

At an interfaith prayer service, the survivors of the death camps listened as his Holiness read a message to those assembled there as well as listening to him pray in his native German. There were also words and prayers offered by the head Rabbi of Poland. This was all done as the haunting music played in the background.

Again, a big Mahalo nui loa to EWTN, Raymond Arroyo for his fantastic coverage, the two priests who were there with Raymond, Frs. Sebastian and Marian and of course, Mother Angelica, who made this all possible.