Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Duty of the Moment is the Duty of God

"The duty of the moment is what you should be doing at any given time, in whatever place God has put you. You may not have Christ in a homeless person at your door, but you may have a little child. If you have a child, your duty of the moment may be to change a dirty diaper.

"So you do it.

"But you don't just change that diaper, you change it to the best of your ability, with great love for both God and that child. There are all kinds of good Catholic things you can do, but whatever they are, you have to realize that there is always the duty of the moment to be done. And it must be done, because the duty of the moment is the duty of God." ~ Servant of God Catherine Doherty

The Root of All Evil is This

"That which seems to Us not only the greatest evil but the root of all evil is this: often the lie is substituted for the truth, and is then used as an instrument of dispute. On the part of not a few religion is passed by as a thing of no importance, and elsewhere absolutely prohibited in family and social life as a remnant of ancient superstitions; public and private atheism is exalted in such a way that God and His law are being abolished, and morals no longer have any foundation. The Press also too often vulgarly reviles religious feeling, while it does not hesitate to spread the most shameful obscenities, agitating and with incalculable harm leading into vice tender childhood and betrayed youth.

"By means of false promises a people is deceived and provoked to hatred, rivalry and rebellion, especially when the hereditary faith, the only relief in this earthly exile, is successfully torn from its heart. Disturbances, riots and revolts are organized and fomented in continuing series, which prepare for the ruin of the economy and cause irreparable harm to the common good." ~ His Holiness Venerable Pius XII, "Anni Sacri"

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Proclaiming with Humble Firmness

"It can be foreseen that this teaching will perhaps not be easily received by all: Too numerous are those voices — amplified by the modern means of propaganda — which are contrary to the voice of the Church. To tell the truth, the Church is not surprised to be made, like her divine Founder, a “sign of contradiction”, yet she does not because of this cease to proclaim with humble firmness the entire moral law, both natural and evangelical." ~ His Holiness Pope Paul VI, "Humanae Vitae"

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Greater Love Than This No Man Hath

"A woman of exceptional love, an outstanding wife and mother, she gave witness in her daily life to the demanding values of the Gospel”. In his homily on the occasion of her beatification, April 24, 1994, Pope John Paul II proposed Gianna Beretta Molla as a model for all mothers: “By holding up this woman as an exemplar of Christian perfection, we would like to extol all those high-spirited mothers of families who give themselves completely to their family, who suffer in giving birth, who are prepared for every labor and every kind of sacrifice, so that the best they have can be given to others".

"In canonizing Gianna Beretta Molla this spring (2004), the Church officially recognized the extraordinary sanctity of a woman who chose to live an ordinary life – as a professional and, later, as a wife and mother. Though she had once considered entering a religious order, instead she practiced medicine (receiving her medical degree in 1949, and her specialty in pediatrics in 1952). She devoted herself to caring for her patients, and her selflessness and dedication as a physician endeared her to the people. But it was not only her practice of medicine that influenced them. She regarded her profession as a mission through which she could aid and nurture both bodies and souls. The young doctor’s devotion to her Catholic faith was well known in her community, and especially her instruction of young Catholic girls in their faith.

"Gianna meditated long and prayerfully on God’s will for her. “What is a vocation?”, she wrote: “It is a gift from God – it comes from God Himself! Our concern, then, should be to know the will of God. We should enter onto the path that God wills for us, not by ‘forcing the door’, but when God wills and as God wills” (in Blessed Gianna Beretta Molla: A Woman’s Life. Boston: Pauline Books, 2002, p 71, 72). Gianna believed she was called to marriage and family life, but she waited patiently for God’s will to be revealed.

"Gianna Beretta did not marry until she was thirty-three years old – to an engineer ten years her senior, Pietro Molla, whose sister had earlier been a patient of the young Dr. Beretta. Letters Gianna wrote during their year-long courtship reveal her deep commitment to this new vocation. The couple married in September 1955. Several days before their wedding, Gianna wrote to Pietro, reflecting on their vocation to marriage: “With God’s help and blessing, we will do all we can to make our new family a little cenacle where Jesus will reign over all our affections, desires and actions. … We will be working with God in His creation; in this way we can give Him children who will love Him and serve Him”.

"Gianna’s faith and her communion with Christ were profound, and from this grace she drew deeper understanding of the dedication and self-giving love that is fundamental to Christian marriage and family life.

"After her marriage and even after she had children Gianna continued her medical practice, extending her gifts beyond her immediate family to the children of others. Three children, a son and two daughters, were born between 1956 and 1959, and Gianna had two miscarriages before conceiving another baby in 1961. Pietro and Gianna referred to their children as their “treasures”.

"In his own account of these years, Pietro Molla says that he did not object to Gianna’s continuing her medical practice, because she was so deeply attached to her patients, though after she became pregnant with their fourth child, Pietro and Gianna had agreed that she would stop working outside the home after the baby was born.

"Early in the pregnancy it was discovered that Gianna had a fibroma, a benign tumor, on her uterine wall. Surgery that would involve aborting the baby was suggested, but the Mollas instantly and firmly rejected this idea, and chose surgery that would remove only the tumor. Because of her medical knowledge, Gianna understood more fully than most the risks involved in this delicate surgery – both to her and to her unborn child. She insisted that the baby be protected at all costs.

"The surgery successfully removed the fibroma, and the pregnancy continued, apparently normally, and the family made plans for the future in joy and hope. But all was not well, and a few days before the baby was born, Gianna realized it would be a difficult – possibly life-threatening delivery. She asked her husband to promise that if it were necessary to choose between saving her and saving the baby, he should choose the baby. “I insist”, she said.

"On Good Friday, Gianna entered the hospital. And a lovely, healthy baby daughter, Gianna Emanuela, was born the next day, April 21, 1962. But the mother had developed a fatal infection – septic peritonitis. (Modern antibiotics most likely would have saved her.) The inflammation caused immense suffering during her final week on earth. In the midst of her terrible pain, Gianna called to her own mother, Maria, who had died in 1942 – and she prayed. As she lay dying, she repeated, “Jesus, I love you”, over and over.

"Her agony ended on April 28 – at home. She was 39. The tiny infant, Gianna Emanuela, was exactly one week old.

"The bereft Pietro was left to raise four very young children without their mother: Pierluigi, the eldest, was not yet six; Mariolina, four; Laura, nearly three; and of course the new baby. In this book are Pietro’s own reflections on the difficult years that followed, and how the example of his wife’s serene and joyous faith helped sustain him through his grief at Gianna’s death; when their little daughter, Mariolina, died only two years later; and through all the ordinary difficulties of raising a family alone – with the added extraordinary challenges of raising children whose absent mother had already become a revered public figure.

"Almost immediately upon her death a devotion to Gianna arose among those whose lives she had so deeply touched, and who knew her heroic devotion to her faith and her family.

"Her “cause” was introduced formally in 1970. She was beatified April 24, 1994; and canonized on May 21, 2004 – forty-two years after her death.

"That her husband, now 91, and three children attended her canonization ceremony is one of several historic “firsts” connected with her canonization. (Pierluigi, an engineer, is married; Laura is a political scientist; Gianna Emanuela is a physician who specializes in Alzheimer’s disease.)

"Gianna Beretta Molla is the first married laywoman to be declared a saint (though there are many sainted widows). She is also the first canonized woman physician — a professional woman who was also a “working mom” four decades ago, when this was unusual.

"Her witness of abiding faith in Christ, and her example of generous, loving, self-donation — wherever and however she was called to serve the Lord — provide particular inspiration for women of our time and in our culture, where conflicting demands and confusing signals are a daily part of our lives.

"There is another aspect of this new saint’s life that is worth pondering – and this book affords a glimpse of it. That is, the role of her family – the example of her parents – in her formation as a committed, active young Catholic. Her family was outstanding for its deep Christian faith, expressed not only in worship, in private prayer and family devotions, but in generously extending their gift of faith to others.

"Her family’s example of unselfish love set the direction of young Gianna’s life. It gave her the firm foundation upon which, through the grace of God and her trusting acceptance of His will for her, she confidently built her life – a life that would shelter, nurture, guide, and inspire countless others. Gianna’s plans for raising her own children in the faith was influenced by her own experiences growing up. Her understanding of motherhood came from her own mother. Even though her own children could not know her tender motherly presence while they were growing up, she interceded for them. At the very end of her life, as Gianna suffered mortal pain, she sought her mother’s prayers. As we – especially mothers of young families – may now seek hers.

Saint Gianna, pray for us." ~ Helen Hull Hitchcock, Feast of Saint Joachim and Saint Anne, July 26 2004, Ignatius Press

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin

"The Holy Rosary is not a pious practice banished to the past, like prayers of other times thought of with nostalgia. Instead, the Rosary is experiencing a new Springtime. Without a doubt, this is one of the most eloquent signs of love that the young generation nourish for Jesus and his Mother, Mary. In the current world, so dispersive, this prayer helps to put Christ at the centre, as the Virgin did, who meditated within all that was said about her Son, and also what he did and said. When reciting the Rosary, the important and meaningful moments of salvation history are relived. The various steps of Christ’s mission are traced. With Mary the heart is oriented toward the mystery of Jesus. Christ is put at the centre of our life, of our time, of our city, through the contemplation and meditation of his holy mysteries of joy, light, sorrow and glory." ~ His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, "Recitation of the Holy Rosary"


"The Rosary, though clearly Marian in character, is at heart a Christocentric prayer. In the sobriety of its elements, it has all the depth of the Gospel message in its entirety, of which it can be said to be a compendium. It is an echo of the prayer of Mary, her perennial Magnificat for the work of the redemptive Incarnation which began in her virginal womb. With the Rosary, the Christian people sits at the school of Mary and is led to contemplate the beauty on the face of Christ and to experience the depths of his love. Through the Rosary the faithful receive abundant grace, as though from the very hands of the Mother of the Redeemer." ~ His Holiness Pope Venerable John Paul II, "Rosarium Virginis Mariae"


"When the impious Mohammedan power, trusting in its powerful fleet and war-hardened armies, threatened the peoples of Europe with ruin and slavery, then — upon the suggestion of the Sovereign Pontiff — the protection of the heavenly Mother was fervently implored and the enemy was defeated and his ships sunk. Thus the Faithful of every age, both in public misfortune and in private need, turn in supplication to Mary, the benignant, so that she may come to their aid and grant help and remedy against sorrows of body and soul. And never was her most powerful aid hoped for in vain by those who besought it with pious and trustful prayer." ~ His Holiness Pope Pius XI, "Imgravescentibus Malis"


Q: "Can a rosary be worn as a piece of jewelry?"
A: "Sacred objects, set aside for divine worship by dedication or blessing, are to be treated with reverence. They are not to be made over to secular or inappropriate use, even though they may belong to private persons" (CIC 1171).
"Essentially, sacramentals such as rosaries must be treated with respect, particularly if they have been blessed. Reverence is the attitude of awe or respect that is most often given to sacred things. By its very definition, it is an interior disposition that usually cannot be determined by onlookers by appearances alone. A person may be wearing a rosary as a statement of faith, to keep it handy for praying throughout the day, or to avoid losing it. Those reasons would be indicative of reverence and would not interfere with the canon’s directive that sacramentals must be treated reverently.
Ordinarily speaking, then, if someone is spotted wearing a rosary, he should be charitably presumed to be wearing it for just reasons. Only if the rosary is being put to an objectively sordid use (e.g., a rock star is using it as a prop in a music video, obscenely contrasting the symbolic purity of the rosary with the immodest or immoral actions of the performers) can we be sure that the rosary is being treated irreverently." ~ "Quick Questions: This Rock Oct. 2004"

Saturday, May 15, 2010

He Knows What He is About

"God has created me
to do Him some definite service,
He has committed some work to me
which He has not committed to another.
I have my mission.
I may never know it in this life,
but I shall be told it in the next.
I am a link in a chain,
a bond of connection between persons.

"He has not created me for naught.
I shall do good, I shall do His work,
I shall be an angel of peace,
a preacher of truth in my own place
while not intending it
if I do but keep His commandments.

"Therefore I will trust Him.
Whatever I am, I can never be thrown away.
If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve Him,
in perplexity, my perplexity may serve Him,
if I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve Him.

"He does nothing in vain,
He knows what He is about.
He may take away my friends,
He may throw me among strangers,
He may make me feel desolate,
make my spirits sink,
hide my future from me,
still He knows what He is about."


His Eminence Venerable John Henry Cardinal Newman.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Holy Father's Address to the Bishops of Portugal

"Dear Brother Bishops,

I thank God for giving me this occasion to meet all of you here at the Shrine of Fatima, the spiritual heart of Portugal, where multitudes of pilgrims from all over the world come looking to discover or to reinforce their certainty in the truths of Heaven. Among them has come from Rome the Successor of Peter, accepting the oft-repeated invitations and moved by a debt of gratitude to the Virgin Mary, who herself transmitted to her seers and pilgrims an intense love for the Holy Father which has borne fruit in a great multitude which prays, with Jesus as its guide: Peter, "I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren" (Lk 22:32).

As you see, the Pope needs to open himself ever more fully to the mystery of the Cross, embracing it as the one hope and the supreme way to gain and to gather in the Crucified One all his brothers and sisters in humanity. Obeying the word of God, he is called to live not for himself but for the presence of God in the world. I am comforted by the determination with which you too follow me closely, fearing nothing except the loss of eternal salvation for your people, as was clearly expressed in the words of greeting spoken by Archbishop Jorge Ortiga upon my arrival in your midst, and which testify to the unconditional fidelity of the Bishops of Portugal to the Successor of Peter. From my heart I thank you. I thank you as well for all the attention that you have given to organizing my Visit. May God reward you, and pour out the Holy Spirit in abundance upon you and your Dioceses so that, with one heart and with one soul, you may bring to completion the pastoral work which you have begun, that is, offering each member of the faithful an exacting and attractive Christian initiation, one which communicates the integrity of the faith and genuine spirituality, rooted in the Gospel, and capable of forming free and generous labourers in the midst of public life.

In truth, the times in which we live demand a new missionary vigour on the part of Christians, who are called to form a mature laity, identified with the Church and sensitive to the complex transformations taking place in our world. Authentic witnesses to Jesus Christ are needed, above all in those human situations where the silence of the faith is most widely and deeply felt: among politicians, intellectuals, communications professionals who profess and who promote a monocultural ideal, with disdain for the religious and contemplative dimension of life. In such circles are found some believers who are ashamed of their beliefs and who even give a helping hand to this type of secularism, which builds barriers before Christian inspiration. And yet, dear brothers, may all those who defend the faith in these situations, with courage, with a vigorous Catholic outlook and in fidelity to the magisterium, continue to receive your help and your insightful encouragement in order to live out, as faithful lay men and women, their Christian freedom.

You maintain a strong prophetic dimension, without allowing yourselves to be silenced, in the present social context, for "the word of God is not fettered" (2 Tim 2:9). People cry out for the Good News of Jesus Christ, which gives meaning to their lives and protects their dignity. In your role as first evangelizers, it will be useful for you to know and to understand the diverse social and cultural factors, to evaluate their spiritual deficiencies and to utilize effectively your pastoral resources; what is decisive, however, is the ability to inculcate in all those engaged in the work of evangelization a true desire for holiness, in the awareness that the results derive above all from our union with Christ and the working of the Holy Spirit.

In fact, when, in the view of many people, the Catholic faith is no longer the common patrimony of society and, often, seen as seed threatened and obscured by the "gods" and masters of this world, only with great difficulty can the faith touch the hearts of people by means simple speeches or moral appeals, and even less by a general appeal to Christian values. The courageous and integral appeal to principles is essential and indispensable; yet simply proclaiming the message does not penetrate to the depths of people’s hearts, it does not touch their freedom, it does not change their lives. What attracts is, above all, the encounter with believing persons who, through their faith, draw others to the grace of Christ by bearing witness to him. The words of Pope John Paul II come to mind: "The Church needs above all great currents, movements and witnesses of holiness among the ‘Christifideles’ because it is from holiness that is born every authentic renewal of the Church, all intelligent enrichment of the faith and of the Christian life, the vital and fecund reactualization of Christianity with the needs of man, a renewed form of presence in the heart of human existence and of the culture of nations (Address for the XX Anniversary of the Promulgation of the Conciliar Decree "Apostolicam Actuositatem", 18 November 1985). One could say, "the Church has need of these great currents, movements and witnesses of holiness…, but there are none!"

In this regard, I confess to you the pleasant surprise that I had in making contact with the movements and the new ecclesial communities. Watching them, I had the joy and the grace to see how, at a moment of weariness in the Church, at a time when we were hearing about "the winter of the Church", the Holy Spirit was creating a new springtime, awakening in young people and adults alike the joy of being Christian, of living in the Church, which is the living Body of Christ. Thanks to their charisms, the radicality of the Gospel, the objective contents of the faith, the living flow of her tradition, are all being communicated in a persuasive way and welcomed as a personal experience, as adherence in freedom to the present event of Christ.

The necessary condition, naturally, is that these new realities desire to live in the one Church, albeit with spaces in some way set aside for their own life, in such a way that this life becomes fruitful for all the others. The bearers of a particular charism must feel themselves fundamentally responsible for communion, for the common faith of the Church, and submit themselves to the leadership of their Bishops. It is they who must ensure the ecclesial nature of the movements. Bishops are not only those who hold an office, but those who themselves are bearers of charisms, and responsible for the openness of the Church to the working of the Holy Spirit. We, Bishops, in the sacrament of Holy Orders, are anointed by the Holy Spirit and thus the sacrament ensures that we too are open to his gifts. Thus, on the one hand, we must feel responsibility for welcoming these impulses which are gifts for the Church and which give her new vitality, but, on the other hand, we must also help the movements to find the right way, making some corrections with understanding – with the spiritual and human understanding that is able to combine guidance, gratitude and a certain openness and a willingness to learn.

This is precisely what you must foster or confirm in your priests. In this Year for Priests now drawing to a close, rediscover, dear brothers, the role of the Bishop as father, especially with regard to your priests. For all too long the responsibility of authority as a service aimed at the growth of others and in the first place of priests, has been given second place. Priests are called to serve, in their pastoral ministry, and to be part of a pastoral activity of communion or oneness, as the Conciliar Decree Presbyterorum Ordinis reminds us, "No priest is sufficiently equipped to carry out his mission alone and as it were single-handed. He can only do so by joining forces with other priests, under the leadership of those who govern the Church" (No. 7). This is not a matter of turning back to the past, nor of a simple return to our origins, but rather of a recovery of the fervour of the origins, of the joy of the initial Christian experience, and of walking beside Christ like the disciples of Emmaus on the day of Easter, allowing his word to warm our hearts and his "broken bread" to open our eyes to the contemplation of his face. Only in this way will the fire of charity blaze strongly enough to impel every Christian to become a source of light and life in the Church and among all men and women.

Before concluding, I would like to ask you, in your role as leaders and ministers of charity in the Church, to rekindle, in yourselves as individuals and as a group, a sense of mercy and of compassion, in order to respond to grave social needs. New organizations must be established, and those already existing perfected, so that they can be capable of responding creatively to every form of poverty, including those experienced as a lack of the meaningfulness in life and the absence of hope. The efforts you are making to assist the Dioceses most in need, especially in Portuguese-speaking countries, is praiseworthy. May difficulties, which today are more deeply felt, not make you shrink from the logic of self-giving. Let there continue and flourish in this country, your witness as prophets of justice and peace, and defenders of the inalienable rights of the person. Join your voice to the voices of the least powerful, whom you have wisely helped to gain a voice of their own, without ever being afraid of raising your voice on behalf of the oppressed, the downtrodden and those who have been mistreated.

I entrust all of you to Our Lady of Fatima, and I ask her to sustain you with her maternal care amid the challenges which you face, so that you will be promoters of a culture and a spirituality of charity, peace, hope and justice, faith and service. To you, to the members of your families and to your diocesan communities I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing.
" ~ His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI

Saturday, May 8, 2010

The True and Solid Peace of Which He is the Author

"It is mainly by faith that a man sets out on the straight and sure path to God and learns to revere in mind and heart His supreme Majesty, His Sovereignty over the whole of creation, His unsounded Power, Wisdom, and Providence. For he who comes to God must believe that God exists and rewards those who seek Him.

"God's eternal Son assumed our humanity and lived before us as the Way, the Truth, and the Life; our faith must embrace the deep mysteries of the Trinity and the Incarnation of the only-begotten Son. In fact, this is eternal life: that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, Whom You have sent.

"God gave us a most precious blessing when He gave us faith. By this gift we are not only raised above the level of human things, to contemplate and share in the divine nature, but are also furnished with the means of meriting the rewards of heaven.

"Therefore the hope is encouraged and strengthened that we shall one day look upon God, not in the shadowy images of His creatures, but in the fullest light, and shall enjoy Him forever as the Supreme Goodness.

"Faith without works is dead because faith draws its life from charity and charity flowers forth in a profusion of holy actions. Thus the Christian will gain nothing for eternal life from his faith unless his life is ordered in accordance with what faith prescribes. What shall it profit, my brethren, if a man says he has faith, but has not works? Shall faith be able to save him?

"A man of this sort will incur a much heavier rebuke from Christ the Judge than those who are, unfortunately, ignorant of Christian faith and its teaching. Unlike the former, who believes one thing and practices another, they have some excuse or at least are less blameworthy, because they lack the light of the Gospel.

"Contemplation of the mysteries of the faith should bring forth a rich harvest of fruits while the heart is wonderfully enkindled by them to make virtuous resolutions. Now, the work of salvation accomplished by our Lord Jesus Christ is the highest model for us to contemplate.

"Almighty God, in the excess of His love for us, takes upon Himself the form of lowly man. He dwells in our midst as one of the multitude, converses with us as a friend, instructs and teaches the way of justice to individuals and to multitudes. In His discourse He is the Teacher unexcelled; in the authority of His teaching He is God. To all He shows Himself a doer of good; He relieves the sick of the ills of their bodies and, with paternal compassion, heals the most serious sickness of their souls.

"Those above all whom sorrow troubles or whom the weight of worry crushes, He comforts with the gentle invitation: Come to Me, all you that labor, and are burdened, and I will refresh you.

"When we rest in His embrace, He breathes that mystic fire which He has brought to all men. Lovingly He imbues us with the meekness and humility of His own Heart. That, by the practice of these virtues, we may share the true and solid peace of which He is the Author: Learn of Me, because I am meek and humble of Heart; and you shall find rest for your souls.

"Christ, in return for that light of heavenly wisdom and that stupendous abundance of blessings which only He could merit for mankind, He suffers the hatred of men and their most atrocious insults; and, nailed to the Cross, He pours out His Blood and yields up His Soul, holding it to be the highest glory to beget life in men by His death.

"It would be utterly impossible for anyone to meditate on and attentively consider these most precious memorials of our loving Redeemer and not have a heart on fire with gratitude to Him. Such is the power of a faith sincerely practiced that, through the light it brings to man's mind and the vigor with which it moves his heart, he will straightway set out in the Footsteps of Christ and follow them through every obstacle, making his own a protestation worthy of a St. Paul: Who then shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or persecution, or the sword? I live, now not I; but Christ lives in me." ~ His Holiness Pope Leo XIII, "Magnae Dei Matris"