Friday, February 11, 2011

Why Go to Confession Anyway?

"The Confession" by Pietro Longhi
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There has been so much chatter about the new iPhone App for Confession (which by the way is an aid to help one examine their conscience; not a replacement for confession to a priest. But I guess you knew that.) One of my Twitter friends has posted an excellent explanation of why the Sacrament of Reconciliation is vital.

Sister Lisa:
...In the confessional, the priest represents both Christ the Head, and in the members of Christ’s body – the Church. When a penitent comes for confession, she recognizes her actions, words and/or deeds has caused harm to another, wounding the body of Christ; when one sins, all suffer from it, even when the sin seems hidden or is unknown to others....
You can read Sister Lisa's post over at her blog nunspeak. Thank you Sister!

A Priest's Examination of Conscience from the Imitation of Christ

"St. Jerome Penitent" by Antonello da Messina

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Some good thoughts here for us to remember.

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ABOVE all, God’s priest should approach the celebration and reception of this Sacrament with the deepest humility of heart and suppliant reverence, with complete faith and the pious intention of giving honor to God.

Carefully examine your conscience, then. Cleanse and purify it to the best of your power by true contrition and humble confession, that you may have no burden, know of no remorse, and thus be free to come near. Let the memory of all your sins grieve you, and especially lament and bewail your daily transgressions. Then if time permits, confess to God in the secret depths of your heart all the miseries your passions have caused.

- You must be full of grief and regret that you are still so attached to the flesh and the world, your passions so unsubdued, your heart so full of the stirrings of evil desire;

- so unguarded in your outward senses,

- so often immersed in foolish fancies;

- so keen on what happens outside you,

- so careless of your inner life;

-so lightly given to laughter and levity,

- so hard when it comes to bewailing your sins;

- so eager for relaxation and bodily ease,

- so slothful to do penance and to arouse your zeal for good;

- so avid for the latest news, for lovely things to look at,

- so backward in welcoming humiliation and contempt;

- so anxious to have a lot of possessions,

- so mean in giving and

- so stubborn in holding on to things;

- in speech so heedless in silence so unrestrained;

- in manner so disorderly, in action so inconsiderate;

- so lavish with food, so deaf to the world of God;

- so swift to take a rest,

- so slow to be up and doing;

- so wide awake for gossip,

- so slow drowsy for holy vigils;

- so much in a hurry to be finished, so wandering in attention;

- so careless in saying your office;

- so lukewarm in saying Mass,

- so wanting in fervor at Communion;

- so easily distracted,

- so seldom completely recollected;

- so easily put out of temper,

- so ready to take umbrage;

- so ready to pass judgment,

- so harsh in rebuke;

- so cheerful when things go well with you,

- so despondent when t hey don't;

- so often making lots of good resolutions and doing so little to keep them.

When you have confessed and deplored these and other faults with sorrow and great displeasure because of your weakness, be firmly determined to amend your life day by day and to advance in goodness. Then, with complete resignation and with your entire will offer yourself upon the altar of your heart as an everlasting sacrifice to the honor of My name, by entrusting with faith both body and soul to My care, that thus you may be 231 considered worthy to draw near and offer sacrifice to God and profitably receive the Sacrament of My Body. For there is no more worthy offering, no greater satisfaction for washing away sin than to offer yourself purely and entirely to God with the offering of the Body of Christ in Mass and Communion.

If a man does what he can and is truly penitent, however often he comes to Me for grace and pardon, “As I live, saith the Lord God, I desire not the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live”* *Ezek. 33:11. I will no longer remember his sins, but all will be forgiven him
"Madonna of the Book" by Sandro Botticelli
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The Imitation of Christ by Thomas A Kempis, Book IV, Chapter 7

The list of sins and failings source is The Imitation of Christ by Thomas A. Kempis, translated by Robert Knox, Sheed and Ward.

Our Lady of Lourdes

'I promise you happiness not in this world, but in the other.'"

Quote source EWTN

Blessed be the holy and Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary, Mother of God.

Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us.
Our Mother, have pity on us.
Our Lady of Lourdes, heal us, for the love and honor of the Holy Trinity.
Our Lady of Lourdes, heal us, for he conversion of sinners.
Health of the sick, pray for us.
Succor of sufferers, pray for us.
O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.

(The above invocations were actually said at Lourdes).

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Prayer to Our Lady of Lourdes

O ever immaculate Virgin,
Mother of mercy,
health of the sick,
refuge of sinners,
comfort of the afflicted,
you know my wants, my troubles, my sufferings,
deign to cast upon me a look of mercy. 
By appearing in the Grotto of Lourdes,
you were pleased to make it a privileged sanctuary,
whence you dispense your favors, and
already many sufferers have obtained the cure of their infirmities,
both spiritual and corporal.
I come, therefore,
with the most unbounded confidence, to implore your maternal intercession.
Obtain, O loving Mother, the grant of my requests.
Through gratitude for your favors,
I will endeavor to imitate your virtues,
that I may one day share your glory.

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O my Mother,
O immaculate,
O pure, O holy, O spotless
virgin Mary!
if& we only knew thee,
how many hearts would cease to be wicked,
how many souls viewing the dazzling splendors of they graces
would hasten to walk in thy footsteps.
Then O dear Mother, show thyself to the world,
lost in the darkness of sin.
O resplendent Morning Star,
remove from our eyes the veil which sin has placed there;
open them to the divine light and
may its heavenly influence blot out our stains,
enliven our actions, and increase in our hearts a pure and ardent love for Jesus,
thy Divine Son, by the sweet and delightful tears of holy penance.
O Mary, thy immaculate heart was Jesus' earthy home;
deign to make my heart also His home.
O Mary, be by me when Jesus comes to judge me.
May my last words in this life and my first in the next be
"Jesus, my Savior; and Mary, my Mother."

- Above prayer source: The Prayer Book, The Catholic Press

The above quote is from an editorial which appeared in the Catholic weekly America, January 1958. Source: Bernadette and the Beautiful Lady by Frances Parkinson Keyes, A Woman Clothed with the Sun, Image Books

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"Few indeed are those who...are present as eyewitnesses of one of those rare but terribly real occurrences in which the omnipotence of God strikes through the shadows of time and space to bind up and heal the broken bodies of men.  But the evidence of these visitations is indisputable.  During the last century it has pleased God so to visit His people time after time at a remote grotto in the French foothills of the Pyrénées, where the Blessed Virgin Mother of God appeared in 1858 to little Bernadette Soubirous.  God of course chooses His own time and places and occasions for the miraculous, but His power shines forth  most frequently where His Mother is honored and venerated." 

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Novena Prayer to Our Lady of Lourdes

O Mary, Our Lady of Lourdes,
may your beauty and your smile warm our hearts!

That is your call for repentance you find us available and generous!
That our communities rely on the faith of Peter and commit to follow Christ!
By your Immaculate Conception do we hope to rediscover innocence and desire holiness!
May the light of Easter rekindle in us the flame of charity!
Mary, Queen of Peace:
look to the people who are victims of war!
Mary, "salus infirmorum":
give to the sick, strength and hope!
Mary, you who have experienced poverty:
come to aid, to help the poorest!
Mary, Mother of the Church:
like you that everyone says: yes" to the call of God!
Mary, Mother of God:
Help us to sing the Magnificat
since the Kingdom of God is open!

Say the prayer of the novena.
Pray a decade of the rosary followed by
- Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us
- Saint Bernadette, pray for us!
-O Mary, conceived without sin,
pray for us who have recourse to you.

Source: Prayer card from Lourdes . At the website you can watch live webcam at Lourdes and also place your prayer intentions at the shrine.

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Prayer and Quotes by St. Bernadette

O My God, I beg You, by Your loneliness,
not that You may spare me afflictions,
but that You may not abandon me in it.
When I encounter afflication,
teach me to see You in it as my
sole comforter.
Let alliction strengthn my faith,
fortify my heope,
and purify my love.
Grant me the grace to see Your hand in my affliction, and
to desire no other comforter but You.

"What will be the crown of those who, humble within and humiliated without, have imitated the humility of our Savior in all its fullness!"

"I must be holy, because my Jesus wants it."

Source Catholic Prayer Cards

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Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Lone Surviving Monk at Monastery of Tibihirine

Brother Jean-Pierre is an 88 year old monk in a monastery in Morocco. He is the only survivor left from the Monastery of Tibihirine which is the subject of the film by Xavier Beauvois, Des hommes et des dieux

You will recall that the film relates the events surrounding the killing and beheading of seven monks there in 1996...
I was reminded of Charles De Foucauld as I read Terry's blog post Talk With All, With Everyone

I will be remember Brother Jean-Pierre in my prayers.

Google Translation of the first part of the interview:

"How do you interpret the current tightening of some Muslims against Christians, including the recent attacks were a sign?

This comes from the extremists. True Muslims say, it is not us that. They are ashamed of what happened to the brothers. This is not "religion. " On the other hand, we do not know enough. It sees itself through violent and this creates a tendency to cluster between oneself and a fear of contact. The solution is to cultivate friendship, even if we can get rolling.

The Trinity that Molds the Catholic Family

"The Church, the Home and the School--these are the trinity that mould our lives, fashion our character and fit us for the knighthood of heaven and the knighthood of earth.

- Each of this trinity has its great work to do. The Church pours upon the new-born the regenerating waters of baptism and makes it a child of God and heir to the Kingdom of Heaven;

- The home represented in the father and mother keeps watch over the seedlings of grace implanted at baptism in the garden of the infant heart and nourishes those seedlings,

- while the school trains will and heart and mind to follow the precepts of truth and hearken to the voice and admonitions of God..."

The foregoing is from a paper that was read at the International Eucharistic Congress in Montreal, September 1910. It was compiled into a book entitled Essays on Catholic Life by Thomas O'Hagan.

We need to remember that back when these talks were first given, in the early part of the 20th Century, almost all Catholic schools in the United States taught solid Catholic doctrine. It would be interesting to find out if any Catholic families during this time period homeschooled their children. 

As I read the essays contained in this book, I will share other excerpts from this very useful handbook for Catholic life.

26 Years of World Youth Days

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

St. Josephine Bakhita

"Mary protected me even before I knew her!"

St. Josephine Bakhita is in the center of the group photo

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“Bakhita has left us a witness of evangelical reconciliation and forgiveness, which will surely bring consolation to the Christians of her homeland, the Sudan, so sorely tried by a conflict that has lasted many years and reaped so many victims. Sister Bakhita has been given to us by the Lord as a universal sister….” - Venerable Pope John Paul II at her canonization

Canossian Daughters of Charity
Saint Mother Josephine Margaret Fortunata Bakhita
c. 1869 - 1947
Southern Sudan - Italy
Died Age 78

According to Catholic author Ann Ball*, no one knows the exact date of Josephine Bakhita's birth because she was stolen away from her family and her country by Arab slave traders as a young girl.

*Modern Saints: Book Two by Ann Ball

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"If I were to meet the slave-traders who kidnapped me and even those who tortured me, I would kneel and kiss their hands, for if that did not happen, I would not be a Christian and Religious today…"

Quote source: The National Black Catholic Congress

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Other quotes by St. Josephine Bakhita also from the NBCC.

I have given everything to my Master: He will take care of me… The best thing for us is not what we consider best, but what the Lord wants of us!

I received the Sacrament of Baptism with such joy that only angels could describe…

O Lord, if I could fly to my people and tell them of your Goodness at the top of my voice: oh, how many souls would be won!

The Lord has loved me so much: we must love everyone… we must be compassionate!

I can truly say that it was a miracle I did not die, because the Lord has destined me for greater things…

When a person loves another dearly, he desires strongly to be close to the other: therefore, why be afraid to die? Death brings us to God!

O Holy Trinity,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
we thank you for the gifts
of humility and charity
which you bestowed on
Saint Josephine Bakhita
Deign to glorify her
for her singular virtues
and grant the prayers
of those who invoke her,

St. Josephine Bakhita, pray for the Sudan!

Monday, February 07, 2011

"Hell is full of Good Intentions"

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There are two sorts of good wills. The one says, "I would do well, but it give me trouble, and I will not do it." The other, "I wish to do well, but I have not as much power as I have will; it is this which holds me back." The first fills Hell, the second Paradise. The first only begins to will and to desire, but it does not finish willing. Its desires have not enough courage; they are only abortions of will, and that is why it fills Hell. But the second produces entire and well formed desires; it is for this that Daniel was called a "man of desires..."
- St. Francis de Sales, Thy Will Be Done, Sophia Press

Intercessory Prayer for the Souls in Purgatory

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Ye souls of the faithful! who sleep in the Lord;
But as yet are shut out, from your final reward!
Oh! would I could lend you, assistance to fly;
From your prison below, to your palace on high.

O Father of mercies! Thine anger withhold;
These works of Thy hand in Thy mercy behold;
Too oft from Thy path, they have wandered aside:
But Thee, their Creator, they never denied.

O tender Redeemer! Their misery see;
Deliver those souls that were ransomed by Thee;
Behold how they love Thee, despite of their pain:
Restore them, restore them to favour again.

O Spirit of grace! O Consoler divine!
See how for Thy presence they longingly pine;
Ah, then, to enliven their sadness, descend;
And fill them with peace, and with joy in the end.

O Mother of mercy! Dear soother in grief!
Lend thou to their torments a balmy relief;
And temper the rigour of justice severe;
And soften their flames with a pitying tear.

All ye who would honour the Saints and their Head,
Remember, remember, to pray for the dead;
And they, in return, from their misery freed,
To you will be friends in the hour of need.

Shared by Sue Cifelli

A village of vocations on the Silk Road

Our Lady of She-Shan pray for China

A small village on Silk Road, inhabited by 660 people, of whom 400 are Catholic (about 130 families), has given 14 vocations to the Church in recent years: 7 priests, 1 deacon, 3 religious sisters, 2 major seminarians and 1 minor seminarian. The village is Zan Jia Cun, Fu Feng district in the Diocese of Zhou Zhi, Shaan Xi province.
Read the rest here.