Saturday, June 26, 2010

On this the Feast Day of St. Josemaria Escrivá: Thoughts on Fr Willie Doyle, by Saint Josemaria Escriva

I recently was directed to this wonderful blog Remembering Father William Doyle, S.J. by the blog's owner. Please check out today's post regarding our saint of the day and Father Doyle.


St. Stephen's Paterson, NJ

Devotions: Touchstones of Faith

by Brother John M. Samaha, S.M. Reprinted with permission

How many popular songs in recent decades have extolled memories? In addition, how often do we find ourselves and others recalling important incidents and persons of the recent or distant past?

When we stop to think about it, we are following the same human pattern when we celebrate some aspect of the official liturgy of the Church or a popular devotion. This is part of our Christian heritage.

Memories, stories, family customs and practices, and significant persons and events in our lives are a very important part of each of us. Recalling special persons and events, and continuing time-honored rituals with family and friends nourish the human spirit. This stimulates us to imitate and to continue what our predecessors have achieved.

Thus it is with Jesus and his faithful followers. We look to Mary and the saints for models and examples of how to continue in the footsteps of our Redeemer. Therefore, we call on their help in a variety of ways.

The mystery of God becoming human and our role in this mystery is communicated to the Church not only in its official teaching, but also in its liturgy, piety, art, music, and in the religious experience of its members.

Our devotional heritage provides us with many patterns for approaching God and worshiping Jesus Christ outside of the Church’s official worship, the sacred liturgy. We insert ourselves into the ongoing plan of redemption as we make the way of the Cross, pray the rosary, follow a novena, fast, offer particular prayers, and perform charitable actions. However, from earliest times, devotion existed in the framework of the liturgy. For example, devotion to Mary has always existed in the Eucharistic Liturgy and in the Liturgy of the Hours. Mary’s close association in all the mysteries of Jesus is explicitly mentioned in those liturgical prayers.

However, as time progressed, new forms of honoring Mary and the saints, our heroes and models in the faith, were developed and practiced without the need of an ordained priest. The Bible, the liturgy, and the teachings of the Church have been the wellsprings for popular devotions that are celebrated in public or in private. From those sources, we develop other forms of celebrating God’s love for us in company with Mary and the saints.

It is imperative to keep in mind that when we call Mary and the saints we are communicating also with Jesus for they lead us to him. In honoring the saints and asking for their assistance, we honor Jesus Christ. Christ is always our focal point.

Devotions are not meant to displace the liturgy but to extend it for special occasions and circumstances. They complement our liturgical prayer life with other forms of expressing our dedication to God.

If we honor or seek the help of Mary and the saints, it is because they are human mirrors reflecting the goodness of God. All this is borne out in the creed, code, and cult of our Christian faith. What is said and believed of Jesus applies also to Mary and the saints in appropriate, lesser degrees.

Alone or in a group, in public or in private, with approved prayers or using a prayer which is spontaneous or has no special authorization, we celebrate the life and love of our Savior in many ways, most of which carry the respect of centuries: the Way of the Cross, Eucharistic adoration, honoring the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, praying the mysteries of the Rosary, special hymns and practices which highlight Mary and the saints and their attachment to God, novenas, pilgrimages to shrines, applying particular titles of holiness and protection, and similar practices. Most of us have some familiarity with such devotions.

Important to our appreciation and use of devotions is the understanding that they complement our life and further enrich our personal relationship with Jesus, sometimes directly and sometimes through the saints.

Since the second century devotion to Mary and the saints originated as a need arose, or when a priest was not available, or when a special occasion was to be marked, or when someone was inspired.

Devotions are based on faith and need a doctrinal underpinning. However, ordinary Christians at prayer are not concerned with theological nuance. Theological inquiry has produced a high Christology which tended to distance Jesus from ordinary people. He, like the Father, was king and judge. Jesus Christ was much too threatening to approach directly. Enter Mary and the saints. It made much better sense to cultivate the attention of his mother and most faithful disciple, and that of the saints. They seemed much closer to our human condition and were kindhearted enough to bend God’s ear in our favor. The Marian apparitions, even of the twentieth century, have reinforced this attitude. Mary and the saints lead to Jesus. At all approved shrines, for example, Mary directs us to her Son in the Eucharist and in the sacraments.

In terms of devotion to Mary, every age tends to shape her image according to its own needs and desires. Yet, there are certain constants in her image -- healer, intercessor, prophet and social critic, gentlewoman who is mother, comforter, nurturer, counselor, and friend. Mary is the perfect friend and mother for us.

The Gospel continues in Mary and the saints -- and in us. We, the Church, are the continuation of Jesus Christ in our time, place and circumstances. Consequently, we need these saints and heroes as our models. Christian life without the saints is unthinkable. The saints are for the ages, ours no less than others, because they proclaim by their lives that life is worth living, that a provident God cares for us. Mary and the saints personify this hope.

However, the accolade that “never enough honor can be given to Mary” (De Maria nunquam satis) must be placed in proper perspective and understood accordingly, The Second Vatican Council moved in this direction by adapting Catholicism to the modern world, re-emphasizing the Biblical foundations of faith and worship, and directing us to the call of the social gospel.

Vatican II moved to correct abuses and excesses in liturgical worship and in popular devotions. The Council undertook a theological re-shaping of the image of Mary and the popular impulses of devotion to her and to the saints. It should be noted that in every age Mary’s image tells us as much about ourselves as it does about Mary.

Balance is what we seek. Blessed Pope John XXIII once remarked: “The Madonna is not pleased when she is put above her Son.” We must not over-humanize or over-divinize the cult of Mary and the saints. Devotion should rest on a sure theological and historical footing without neglecting the needs of our affective piety for images of Mary and the saints, who are healers, intercessors, prophets, and friends. The saints and Mary do for the faithful what friends do for friends. Mary does for us what mothers do for children. What theologians may sometimes overlook, we ordinary Christians will provide.

Participating in and continuing honored practices of devotion are an important part of our faith-life. Devotions are touchstones of faith. They are part of our Christian heritage.

Remember, and be faithful.

The above article, "Devotions: Touchstones of Faith," was published in THE FAMILY DIGEST, Spring 2010.

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Wife Advertisment

Back in 1920, a 43 year old German policeman was getting concerned that he had not met the right woman to marry. In desperation, he placed the following advertisement in the newspapers.

"Middle-ranking civil servant, single, Catholic, 43, immaculate past, from the country, is looking for a good Catholic, pure girl who can cook well, tackle all house­hold chores, with a talent for sewing and homemaking, with a view to marriage as soon as possible. Fortune desirable, but not a precondition."

A woman named Maria Peintner answered the ad. She was 36 years old, a trained cook, and had been born "out of wedlock". While carrying her, her mother, whom it is suggested was also born "out of wedlock", spent some time in a home for pregnant girls. The mother later married a baker with whom she had five more daughters.

Maria did not have a fortune, but she herself was a treasure, and they married four months later. In spite of their somewhat advanced years, they had three children: two boys and a girl. The youngest child received the same name as his father: Joseph Ratzinger, better known today as Pope Benedict XVI.

After his election, someone dug up the "wife-wanted" advertisement and showed it to the Pope, who, of course, smiled. They were the best of parents to their children.

The important thing is that he knew his parents really loved each other, and the children, very much. Pope Benedict often speaks about that love. In fact, his first encyclical is entitled, "God is Love," and it describes marriage as the preeminent figure of God's love for us.

Thus, know that, even being ille­gitimate, every child is a gift.

from Curate's Diary, 3/10 by Fr. T. Doyle

Thanks to Sue Cifelli

St. Josemaría Escrivá

An Exorcist's Most Difficult Case

Thanks to Sue Cifelli.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

On Lasting Love and Life

This is so sweet and beautiful!

H/T to Betty Beguiles

Zenit Q & A: Interruption of Consecration & Overhead Projectors

Sts. Peter and Paul Church, Honolulu

Q: If, after the consecration of the bread, the priest dies or forgets the consecration of the wine, do we have a Mass? I know that the consecrated host is the Body of Christ. Is the consecration of the wine absolutely necessary for a valid Mass?
Read the answer here.

Pope Urges Faithful to Fall in Love With Eucharist

Sacred Heart Church, Honolulu
..."Speaking of the sacraments [in the third part of the Summa], St. Thomas pauses particularly on the mystery of the Eucharist, for which he had a very great devotion, to the point that, according to the ancient biographers, he used to lean his head on the tabernacle, almost as if to hear the beating of the divine and human Heart of Jesus," the Pope recalled...
Read the entire Zenit article here.

"Never Call a Man's Baby Ugly"

Matthew Warner addresses his recent post Bishops Very Troubled by Some Catholic Blogs in Bishops and Babies.

I often wonder why it is so hard for some bloggers to be civil when writing about others, especially certain bishops or priests. If in doubt whether one's words could wound or cause us to commit the sin of detraction, it may be best to keep silent. Let those words go unwritten.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


From Catholics Come Home

ATLANTA, Ga. (June 22, 2010)—The new lay Catholic outreach effort™ has just launched its new interactive and expanded website to support priests. The apostolate launched on Holy Thursday and the new interactive website went live this Father’s Day, June 20, 2010.

The new website comes on the heels of the “Year for Priests” in an effort to extend the Holy Father’s call for the laity to show our love and support for the many holy Catholic priests around the world.

“This audacity of God who entrusts himself to human beings – who, conscious of our weaknesses, nonetheless considers men capable of acting and being present in his stead – this audacity of God is the true grandeur concealed in the word ‘priesthood,’” said Pope Benedict XVI.

Collar-HollerThe mission of™ is to promote vocations and support ordinary men who do extraordinary work as Catholic priests, celebrating Mass and the sacraments, preaching, evangelizing and tirelessly serving the needs of their communities and the world.

On the new™ website, visitors can learn more about the priesthood and vocations through audio, visual and written material on the site and on the blog. People will also find resources to show their gratitude for the priests in their lives through spiritual bouquets, written and video greetings, and short “Collar-Holler℠” e-cards. Encourage Priests™ can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.™ has already been welcomed by priests and lay Catholics around the country. “Great concept…Will be a tremendous help to the morale of priests,” said Bishop Sam Jacobs from the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux. Several Catholics have submitted words of encouragement about their priests, like Rose who said, “He is truly a great priest who is always there for God's people, no matter what. His presence alone is a blessing to his parish and ours. I pray that he stays strong throughout his priesthood to continue to be a great priest.”

St. Thomas More

The following are excerpts from The Spirituality of Saint Thomas More: A Summary by James Monti, from the June issue of the Magnificat.

On the Holy Eucharist:

Now when we have received our Lord and have him in our body, let us not then let him alone, and get us forth about other things, and look no more unto him...but let all our business be about him. Let us by devout prayer talk to him, by devout meditation talk with him. Let us say with the prophet...'I will hear what our Lord will speak within me.'"

On the Reserved Eucharist:

...just as God supported the Israelites in their earthly pilgrimage by "walking with them in the cloud by day and in the pillar of fire by night," so much more does he now "assist and comfort us with the continual presence of his precious Body in the Holy Sacrament."

On death:

He stresses the remembrance of death as a medicine for the soul, prescribed for us by God, "The Divine Physician" as an antidote to the false allurements of sin and earthly pleasure.

On devotion to the Sacred Heart:

..."think on his precious Heart carved in twain." He sees Christ's love manifested at the Last Supper as a revelation of "his wonderful loving Heart."
On devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary:

In his last work The Sadness of Christ, St. Thomas More names among the greatest of our Lord's mental sufferings in Gethsemane the thought of "the ineffable grief of his beloved Mother."

In his Dialogue of Comfort Against Tribulation, St. Thomas More writes of the souls in purgatory receiving comfort from the Blessed Mother.

On the vocation of Marriage:

"Saint Paul here (Eph 5:25-27) exhorteth men to love their wives, so tenderly that they should be of the mind, that to bring them to heaven they could find in their hearts to die for them, as Christ hath died for Christian people to bring them to heaven, and that men, to that intent that they may bring their wives to the glorious bliss of heaven, shoudl here bring them well up in faith, in hope and charity, and in good works, like as God hath washed his Church of all Christian people..."

On fatherhood (from a letter to his children):

"It is not so strange that I love you with my whole heart, for being a father is not a tie which can be ignored. Nature in her wisdom has attached the parent to the child and bound their minds together with a Herculean knot...Ah, brutal and unworthy to be called father is he who does not himself weep at the tears of his child...But now my love has grown so much that it seems to me I did not love you at all before."

On prayer and meditation in our own home:

"Let him also choose himself some secret solitary place in his own house as far from noise and company as he conveniently can. And thither let him some time secretly resort alone, imagining himself as one going out of the world even straight unto the giving up his reckoning unto God of his sinful living. Then let him there before an altar or some pitiful image of Christ's bitter Passion, the beholding whereof may put him in remembrance of the thing and move him to devout compassion, kneel down or fall prostrate as at the feet of almighty God, verily believing him to be there invisibly present as without any doubt he is. There let him open his heart go God, and confess his faults such as he can call to mind and pray God of forgiveness. Let him call to remembrance the benefits that God hath given him, either in general among other men, or privately to himself, and give him humble hearty thanks therefore. There let him declare unto God the temptations of the devil, the suggestions of the flesh, the occasions of the world, and of his worldy friends much worse many times in drawing a man from God than are his most mortal enemies."

On his lifelong quest for heaven:

"Make us saved souls in heaven together."