Saturday, April 26, 2014

Pope John Paul II Encyclical on Divine Mercy


Mary is also the one who obtained mercy in a particular and exceptional way, as no other person has. At the same time, still in an exceptional way, she made possible with the sacrifice of her heart her own sharing in revealing God's mercy. This sacrifice is intimately linked with the cross of her Son, at the foot of which she was to stand on Calvary. Her sacrifice is a unique sharing in the revelation of mercy, that is, a sharing in the absolute fidelity of God to His own love, to the covenant that He willed from eternity and that He entered into in time with man, with the people, with humanity; it is a sharing in that revelation that was definitively fulfilled through the cross. No one has experienced, to the same degree as the Mother of the crucified One, the mystery of the cross, the overwhelming encounter of divine transcendent justice with love: that "kiss" given by mercy to justice. No one has received into his heart, as much as Mary did, that mystery, that truly divine dimension of the redemption effected on Calvary by means of the death of the Son, together with the sacrifice of her maternal heart, together with her definitive "fiat."

Mary, then, is the one who has the deepest knowledge of the mystery of God's mercy. She knows its price, she knows how great it is. In this sense, we call her the Mother of mercy: our Lady of mercy, or Mother of divine mercy; in each one of these titles there is a deep theological meaning, for they express the special preparation of her soul, of her whole personality, so that she was able to perceive, through the complex events, first of Israel, then of every individual and of the whole of humanity, that mercy of which "from generation to generation" people become sharers according to the eternal design of the most Holy Trinity

Divine Mercy - No Escape (Movie)

This movie premiered at Radio City Music Hall.

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.


Two parents, both Catholic

Many children


Control of influences


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.


Only one out of three Catholics attend Sunday Mass regularly


Galloping pace of life


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.


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.

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