Friday, October 31, 2008

All Hallow's Eve


When I was a child, my family always did the traditional Halloween thing...dress as ghosts and witches, go trick-or-treating, and attend school carnivals. All seemed well until seventh grade. I was attending a non-demoninational Christian school and most people there viewed Halloween as "Satan's Holiday." I asked my mom about this and she said that was going overboard. Ok, that made sense to me as a Catholic, especially since our own parish always had the typical run-of-the-mill Halloween Carnivals. I thought that solved the issue. However, when I was in college, I began notiving that some of my dear friends with whom I attended daily Mass also thought Halloween was "Satan's Holiday." Ok, by now I was confused. Sincde then, I have done some research to find out what the Church really thought about this...and I have found mixed opinions. I tend to like to use EWTN as a trustworthy resource when it comes to matters of Faith, so I looked in their FAQ section. Basically, it said that while doing traditional Halloween customes are fine, All Saints' Day Parties are becoming more and more popular. Below, I have posted some links to ideas for such parties, costumes, etc. Tell me what you think!
Alternative Halloween Party
Saint's Costumes

Friday, October 24, 2008

Saint Anthony Claret

Anthony Claret was the founder of the Claretian order. He was born in 1807 in Spain. Saint Anthony was a weaver by trade, like his father, but studied Latin in his spare time. At 22, he entered the seminary and was ordained in 1835. He preached missions for 10 years before founding the Claretians in 1849. Shortly thereafter, he was named archbishop of Santiago, Cuba, where he reformed the clergy and the laity. In 1857, he returned to Spain to be Queen Isabella II’s confessor, to oversee his growing congregation, and to publish books.

In 1868, with the Spanish Revolution, both Archbishop Claret and the queen were exiled. After Vatican I, the archbishop sought refuge at a Cistercian monastery in France, where he died in 1870. He was canonized in 1950.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

St. Luke the Evangelist

Patron of Physicians and Surgeons

Luke, the writer of the Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles, has been identified with St. Paul's "Luke, the beloved physician" (Colossians 4:14). We know few other facts about Luke's life from Scripture and from early Church historians.

It is believed that Luke was born a Greek and a Gentile. In Colossians 10-14 speaks of those friends who are with him. He first mentions all those "of the circumcision" -- in other words, Jews -- and he does not include Luke in this group. Luke's gospel shows special sensitivity to evangelizing Gentiles. It is only in his gospel that we hear the parable of the Good Samaritan, that we hear Jesus praising the faith of Gentiles such as the widow of Zarephath and Naaman the Syrian (Lk.4:25-27), and that we hear the story of the one grateful leper who is a Samaritan (Lk.17:11-19). According to the early Church historian Eusebius Luke was born at Antioch in Syria.

In our day, it would be easy to assume that someone who was a doctor was rich, but scholars have argued that Luke might have been born a slave. It was not uncommon for families to educate slaves in medicine so that they would have a resident family physician. Not only do we have Paul's word, but Eusebius, Saint Jerome, Saint Irenaeus and Caius, a second-century writer, all refer to Luke as a physician.

We have to go to Acts to follow the trail of Luke's Christian ministry. We know nothing about his conversion but looking at the language of Acts we can see where he joined Saint Paul. The story of the Acts is written in the third person, as an historian recording facts, up until the sixteenth chapter. In Acts 16:8-9 we hear of Paul's company "So, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas. During the night Paul had a vision: there stood a man of Macedonia pleading with him and saying, 'Come over to Macedonia and help us.' " Then suddenly in 16:10 "they" becomes "we": "When he had seen the vision, we immediately tried to cross over to Macedonia, being convinced that God had called us to proclaim the good news to them."

So Luke first joined Paul's company at Troas at about the year 51 and accompanied him into Macedonia where they traveled first to Samothrace, Neapolis, and finally Philippi. Luke then switches back to the third person which seems to indicate he was not thrown into prison with Paul and that when Paul left Philippi Luke stayed behind to encourage the Church there. Seven years passed before Paul returned to the area on his third missionary journey. In Acts 20:5, the switch to "we" tells us that Luke has left Philippi to rejoin Paul in Troas in 58 where they first met up. They traveled together through Miletus, Tyre, Caesarea, to Jerusalem.

Luke is the loyal comrade who stays with Paul when he is imprisoned in Rome about the year 61: "Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends greetings to you, and so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, my fellow workers" (Philemon 24). And after everyone else deserts Paul in his final imprisonment and sufferings, it is Luke who remains with Paul to the end: "Only Luke is with me" (2 Timothy 4:11).

Luke's inspiration and information for his Gospel and Acts came from his close association with Paul and his companions as he explains in his introduction to the Gospel: "Since many have undertaken to set down an orderly account of the events that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed on to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, I too decided, after investigating everything carefully from the very first, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus" (Luke 1:1-3).

Luke's unique perspective on Jesus can be seen in the six miracles and eighteen parables not found in the other gospels. Luke's is the gospel of the poor and of social justice. He is the one who tells the story of Lazarus and the Rich Man who ignored him. Luke is the one who uses "Blessed are the poor" instead of "Blessed are the poor in spirit" in the beatitudes. Only in Luke's gospel do we hear Mary 's Magnificat where she proclaims that God "has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty" (Luke 1:52-53).

Luke also has a special connection with the women in Jesus' life, especially Mary. It is only in Luke's gospel that we hear the story of the Annunciation, Mary's visit to Elizabeth including the Magnificat, the Presentation, and the story of Jesus' disappearance in Jerusalem. It is Luke that we have to thank for the Scriptural parts of the Hail Mary: "Hail Mary full of grace" spoken at the Annunciation and "Blessed are you and blessed is the fruit of your womb Jesus" spoken by her cousin Elizabeth.

Forgiveness and God's mercy to sinners is also of first importance to Luke. Only in Luke do we hear the story of the Prodigal Son welcomed back by the overjoyed father. Only in Luke do we hear the story of the forgiven woman disrupting the feast by washing Jesus' feet with her tears. Throughout Luke's gospel, Jesus takes the side of the sinner who wants to return to God's mercy.

Reading Luke's gospel gives a good idea of his character as one who loved the poor, who wanted the door to God's kingdom opened to all, who respected women, and who saw hope in God's mercy for everyone.

The reports of Luke's life after Paul's death are conflicting. Some early writers claim he was martyred, others say he lived a long life. Some say he preached in Greece, others in Gaul. The earliest tradition we have says that he died at 84 Boeotia after settling in Greece to write his Gospel.

A tradition that Luke was a painter seems to have no basis in fact. Several images of Mary appeared in later centuries claiming him as a painter but these claims were proved false. Because of this tradition, however, he is considered a patron of painters of pictures and is often portrayed as painting pictures of Mary.

He is often shown with an ox or a calf because these are the symbols of sacrifice -- the sacrifice Jesus made for all the world.

Luke is the patron of physicians and surgeons.

Taken form

Friday, October 17, 2008

St. Ignatius of Antioch


St. Ignatius was a convert to the Faith and a disciple of St. John the Evangelist. St. Chrysostom says that St. Peter appointed him Bishop of Antioch, which See he governed for forty years. The saint longed to shed to shed his blood for Christ but the opportunity was not granted him during the persecution under Domitian. While the short reign of Nerva lasted the Church was in peace, but under Trajan persecution broke out anew. In the year 107, the Emperor came to Antioch. St. Ignatius was seized and brought before him. Having confessed Christ, he was condemned to be taken in chains to Rome, there to be exposed to the wild beasts. During this last journey he was welcomed by the faithful of Smyrna, Troas, and other places along the way. He arrived in Rome just as the public spectacles in the amphitheater were drawing to a close. The faithful of the city came out to meet him. He was at once hurried to the amphitheater, where two fierce lions immediately devoured him. He ended his saintly life by a glorious death, exclaiming, "May I become agreeable bread to the Lord." His remains were carried to Antioch, where they were interred. In the reign of Theodosius they were transferred to a church within the city. At present they are venerated in Rome. During his long journey he addressed seven epistles to various congregations, in which, as a disciple of the Apostles, he testifies to the dogmatic character of Apostolic Christianity.

Taken from

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque

Look at this Heart which has loved men so much, and yet men do not want to love Me in return. Through you My divine Heart wishes to spread its love everywhere on earth."
from Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque’s vision of Jesus

Born at Lehautecour, France, July 22, 1647; died at Paray-le-Monial, France, October 17, 1690; canonized by Pope Benedict XV in 1920.

Margaret Mary was born to virtuous parents, and was herself an uncommonly pious child, being intensly drawn to silent prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. She practiced severe physical mortifications after her first Communion at age nine until she was struck with paralysis and bed-ridden for four years.

After she made a vow to the Blessed Virgin to enter religious life, she was instantly cured. However, in the ensuing years she had become intent on living in the world following a request of her mother.

On returning from a ball one night she had a vision of Jesus during His scourging at the pillar, in which he reproached her for her infidelity to her vow. He had usually appeared to her throughout her childhood as the Crucified or being condemned to death. She decided to fulfill the vow she made to Mary and entered the Visitation Convent at Paray in 1671.

Her life in the convent was marked by intense suffering stemming from the harsh work she opted to do, and also by frequent visions and visits to her by Jesus who soon confided to her the mission to establish devotion to His Sacred Heart.

He promised that, in response to those who consecrate themselves and make reparations to His Sacred Heart, that:

· He will give them all the graces necessary in their state of life.
· He will establish peace in their homes.
· He will comfort them in all their afflictions.
· He will be their secure refuge during life, and above all, in death.
· He will bestow abundant blessings upon all their undertakings.
· Sinners will find in His Heart the source and infinite ocean of mercy.
· Lukewarm souls shall become fervent.
· Fervent souls shall quickly mount to high perfection.
· He will bless every place in which an image of His Heart is exposed and
· He will give to priests the gift of touching the most hardened hearts.
· Those who shall promote this devotion shall have their names written in His

· In the excessive mercy of His Heart that His all-powerful love will grant
to all those who receive Holy Communion on the First Fridays in nine
consecutive months the grace of final perseverance; they shall not die in
His disgrace, nor without receiving their sacraments. His divine Heart
shall be their safe refuge in this last moment.

The initial opposition and criticism she received from her congregation at the outset of this mission eventually turned into support due to her heroic example of obedience and charity, especially to the sisters most opposed to her. The devotion was violently opposed by the Jansenist heretics (who rejected the truth of God’s merciful love), but it is credited as having decisively defeated Jansenism in France.

When the tomb was opened after Margaret Mary’s death, miracles immediately took place, and she has obtained countless graces from the millions of pilgrims who have visited her resting place in the chapel of Paray-le-Monial since her death.

This divine heart is an abyss filled with all blessings, and into the poor should submerge all their needs. It is an abyss of joy in which all of us can immerse our sorrows. It is an abyss of lowliness to counteract our foolishness, an abyss of mercy for the wretched, an abyss of love to meet our every need.
Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

St. Teresa of Avila


“Let nothing trouble you, let nothing make you afraid. All things pass away. God never changes. Patience obtains everything. God alone is enough.”

Saint Teresa of Avila

Born at Avila, Old Castile, Spain on March 28, 1515; died at Alba de Tormes, October 4, 1582; canonized in 1622 by Pope Gregory XV; proclaimed Doctor of the Church in 1970 by Pope Paul VI.

Saint Teresa mother died when she was 14, leaving Teresa with her father, a holy man with serious intellectual interests.

On reading works of Saint Jerome, she decided to enter religious life, at the age of 20, believing it to the the safest path to salvation for someone like her. She suffered a serious illness in her youth from which she never fully recovered, it caused physical suffering for the rest of her life.

For her first twenty years in the convent, Teresa, in her own words, lived a mediocre prayer life. She said she had tried mental prayer but discontinued it because she could not tear herself away from the pettiness and worldliness of her conversations and desires, such as her desire to be held in good esteem by others.

However, an intense prayer experience before an image of Christ crucified helped her renounce her worldy attachments. Soon after, God began visiting her with tremendous “intellectual visions and locutions.”

The visions were so numerous and intense that it was thought they were the work of the devil. But on being examined by Saint Francis Borgia and Saint Peter of Alcantara, they were discerned to be God’s mystical action in her soul.

Her account of her spiritual life in her autobiography is extraordinary, even for a mystic. Her experience of intimate union with God manifested in her “spiritual espousals” and “mystical marriage,” and the “transverberation of her heart” (her heart was pierced as if by a surgeon’s knife while she was in prayer; upon her death it was discovered to have a scar – in an age when open heart surgery obviously did not exist – thus confirming what she recounted).

She also had a vision of the place destined for her in hell in the event that she be unfaithful to grace, which determined her to seek a more perfect life.

On August 24, 1562 she founded the convent of Discalced Carmelite Nuns, a reform of the Carmelite order so radical and strict that it caused much violent opposition. With the grace of God she prevailed and founded many other similar convents.

She befriended Saint John of the Cross and with him undertook similar reforms with the Carmelite friars.

Teresa died on October 4, 1582, having suffered to the end with painful illnesses and exhausted from carrying out God’s work. Her body and her transverberated heart are still incorrupt in Alba, Spain, where she died.

St. Teresa's writings on mystical theology are unique among spiritual writers in that she she is intensely personal, her system going exactly as far as her experiences, but not a step further.

On September 27, 1970 she was proclaimed the first ever woman Doctor in the history of the Church by Pope Paul VI.

“O my God! Source of all mercy! I acknowledge Your sovereign power. While recalling the wasted years that are past, I believe that You, Lord, can in an instant turn this loss to gain. Miserable as I am, yet I firmly believe that You can do all things. Please restore to me the time lost, giving me Your grace, both now and in the future, that I may appear before You in "wedding garments." Amen.”
Saint Teresa of Avila

Taken from

Monday, October 13, 2008

Our Lady of Fatima

+JMJ+ I posted this video in honor of Our Lady of Fatima and the miracle of the sun that occured on this day, October 13, 1917.

Columbus Day


The Consequences of Columbus
A condescending noblesse oblige continues to cloud our discussions of European and Native cultures.

Just when we were convinced that Newsweek, like its counterpart Time, is an essentially superficial magazine for hurried people who want information without having to think, the mail brought the Fall/Winter 1991 Columbus Special Issue. Produced in collaboration with the “Seeds of Change” exhibit on display at the Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History in Washington, the magazine provides over eighty pages of generally sound history and analysis of Columbus and of the vast changes in flora and fauna, diet and cultural patterns that followed 1492. Whatever else may be said of Columbus, write the editors, he had consequences, and those consequences “hold the key to the meaning of Columbus’ voyages.”
In strictly philosophical terms, this argument may come dangerously close to the consequentialism favored by some suspect philosophers and theologians. Newsweek and the Smithsonian clearly feel ill-equipped to face the partisan firestorm over Columbus per se and have taken the prudent course of describing instead 1492’s consequences, good and bad. Whatever the shortcomings of this approach, it at least has the merit of examining closely and impartially a wide variety of facts about the last five hundred years in the Americas and the world.
By comparison, the National Council of Churches’ document “A Faithful Response to the 500th Anniversary of the Arrival of Christopher Columbus,” published in 1990 amidst much controversy, was a far less morally serious text. Newsweek amply demonstrates the wealth of interesting and morally relevant material on Columbus, Native Americans, the Spanish settlements, disease, slavery, and a host of other issues available to anyone who takes the trouble to look. The NCC, however, apparently thought a “faithful response” means moralistic denunciation on the basis of a few vague references to what we all, of course, recognize as the historical impartiality of Howard Zinn and the moral finality of “Black Elk Speaks.”
In December of 1990, the National Conference of Catholic Bishops (NCCB) issued a far better informed and reasoned pastoral letter, “Heritage and Hope: Evangelization in America.” In it, besides proper rejection of past atrocities and present neglect of Native Americans, a picture emerges of the complex interaction between European and native peoples that began after 1492. Yet even the Catholic bishops tread gingerly around various questions. They seem so concerned to show their solidarity with the current plight of Native Americans that they make blanket statements about pre-Columbian Indian cultures that do not accurately reflect historical reality. In the bishops’ reading, the hundreds of different Native American cultures all had a natural piety already. The missionaries had only the modest task of explaining “how Christianity complemented their beliefs and challenged those things in their culture that conflicted with Christ’s message.”
The high Indian civilizations of the Aztecs, Mayas, and Incas in fact needed a far more vigorous spiritual liberation than that (see my “1492 and All That,” First Things, May 1991). And even some less-developed tribes were engaged in activities we would not speak about in the bishops’ measured tones were they still practiced today. For example, almost everyone deplores Columbus’ mistreatment of the gentle and peace-loving Arawaks he encountered in the Caribbean. But how many people are aware that one of the reasons the Arawaks welcomed the Europeans so warmly was their fear of the Carib Indians who were, as one modern historian puts it, “then expanding across the Lesser Antilles and literally eating the Arawaks up”?
A condescending noblesse oblige continues to cloud our discussions of European and Native cultures. Whether the issue is natives carrying out human sacrifice, torture, cannibalism, and environmental damage in the past, or Indians poised (in age-old custom) to burn tropical rain forests in the present, the tendency is to paint European sins all the blacker by whitewashing their native counterparts. Native spokesmen and their advocates in institutions like the NCC have a point, but fail at the morally important responsibility of identifying not only Europe’s sins, but those aspects of Native cultures that have been changed for the better by the encounter with Europe.
In fact, the very form of the typical moral argument against the European arrival presupposes some European principles that we have wrongly come to take for granted. European behavior in the New World is usually denounced for its cultural arrogance and its violation of universal human and political rights. Yet no other culture in the world conceived of universal respect for human persons and the embodiment of that principle in international law prior to European development of these doctrines-prodded in part by the encounter with American natives. We now blithely assume that all two-legged creatures who look like us are persons deserving human treatment, including a proper valuing of their cultures. But that realization was won by hard thinking in the face of some difficult circumstances.
China, for example, was a high ancient civilization that until the last century knew little about other cultures. It regarded itself as normative for the rest of the world and worried little about “rights.” Most other cultures felt more or less the same, particularly tribal societies, which were often at perpetual war with one another. Before 1492, Europe had had some contact with Jews, Muslims, and Asians, which forced it to develop some ideas about tolerance and pluralism in civic life. But the contact with America was the event that caused a profound rethinking of everything.
To begin with, there was a religious question. One of the controversies from the Middle Ages that Columbus’ voyage reignited was not whether the world was round (every educated person knew that), but whether people could exist at the antipodes (the ends of the Earth). Far from being the kind of idle speculation that some anti-medievalists associate with angels dancing on the heads of pins, this question had profound repercussions. Would God have created any people outside of all contact with the Old and New Testaments? One of the consequences of such a creation would be that the people would have been left without at least potential knowledge of what was needed for salvation. The problem arose, thus, not from ignorance, but from profound concern about the form of God’s universal charity.
This dispute had immediate importance for moral reflections on the Indians. Having lived separate from the Old World, they could not be held responsible for failure to accept the Gospel (as some thought Jews and Muslims could be held responsible). Bartolomea de las Casas, the widely acclaimed Dominican priest who defended the Indians, went so far as to argue that even human sacrifice and cannibalism among the natives should not be held against them because both practices showed deep reverence and a spirit of sacrifice towards the Almighty.
Las Casas’ defense was noble and in part effective, even though we may now think somewhat differently about the full moral and religious significance of these native practices. His work, however, forced Europe into unprecedented reflections on what constituted a rational being. Native religion and life were, whatever their shortcomings, clearly not the creation of irrational brutes. The Spanish crown was so sensitive to these moral arguments that in 1550 it ordered all military activity to cease in the Americas and created a royal commission at Valladolid to examine Spain’s behavior in the New World. No other growing empire in history has ever similarly interrupted itself to take up moral issues. Ultimately, greed and ineffective Spanish administration led to the abuses we know of, but the commission did bring about penalties for some of the worst offenders, as well as certain reforms in administration and policy.
At Valladolid, Las Casas argued against Juan Gineas de Sepualveda, another theologian, that Indians were human beings. Sepualveda rejected that argument, but to establish his case he had to try to prove that reason was so weak in the Indians that, left to themselves, they could not live according to reason. By commonly accepted Christian principles, only rational incapacity, not (as is often assumed) the mere assertion of European cultural superiority, could justify Spanish control of natives, and even then only for the good of the Indians. The judges of the debate did not reach a definite conclusion, but Valladolid represents a consolidation of Spanish and papal misgivings going back to 1500, and gross mistreatment of the Indians gradually lessened.
The second great moral result of the European arrival in the New World came in the area of international law. Again, we now take it for granted that even nations deeply alien to us have a right to their own territory and culture, but it is largely due to the reflections begun by Francisco de Vitoria, a Dominican theologian and friend of Las Casas, that we have such principles. Vitoria was highly respected by the Spanish king, who appointed him to several royal commissions (unfortunately, he died before the great debate at Valladolid). But Vitoria did not hesitate to tell the monarch that he had no right to lands occupied by Indians, nor could he make slaves out of rational beings. Furthermore, Vitoria went so far as to call the 1494 Treaty of Tordesillas, in which the Pope ceded lands to the Spanish and Portuguese, improper because the pontiff did not have temporal sovereignty over the earth, particularly over lands already occupied by natives.
In this, Vitoria was developing principles that were also coming to have an influence over Pope Pius III, who in response to reports from the New World proclaimed in his 1537 encyclical Sublimis Deus:
Indians and all other people who may later be discovered by the Christians are by no means to be deprived of their liberty or the possession of their property, even though they be outside the faith of Jesus Christ; and they may and should, freely and legitimately, enjoy their liberty and the possession of their property; nor should they be in any way enslaved; should the contrary happen it shall be null and of no effect. . . . By virtue of our apostolic authority we declare . . . that the said Indians and other peoples should be converted to the faith of Jesus Christ by preaching the word of God and by the example of good and holy living.
Christian sentiments like these led Vitoria to the elaboration of the beginnings of that system of global law that has borne fruit today.
Perhaps the most telling sign of the new moral reflection stimulated by contact with natives, however, is a little-known proposal by the first viceroy of New Spain, the shrewd and competent Antonio de Mendoza. In an attempt to deal with the various factions contending over the Indian question in the New World, Mendoza suggested a simple solution: “Treat the Indians like any other people and do not make special rules and regulations for them. There are few persons in these parts who are not motivated in their opinions of the Indians by some interest, good or bad.” In this early wisdom, the seeds of fair and impartial treatment for all, regardless of origin, begin to sprout-a strongly, almost uniquely, American trait necessitated by the rich mixture of various peoples on these shores.
When we are tallying up the moral accounts of the last five hundred years, a good practice periodically for any people, we should recall that ethical developments, too, are a consequence of Columbus. Newsweek and the Smithsonian might have treated more fully the significant stages in that story. Is it too much to hope that our churches, even in their current condition, will come to appreciate and to remind us how Christianity, in spite of a tortuous and tangled history, has contributed to the moral development of our still sadly underdeveloped humanity?

Royal, Robert. “Consequences of Columbus.” First Things 20 (February, 1992): 9-11.

Reprinted with permission of First Things, published by the Institute on Religion and Public Life, 156 Fifth Avenue, Suite 400, New York, NY 10010. To subscribe to First Things call 1-800-783-4903.
Robert Royal is president of the Faith & Reason Institute in Washington, D.C. Among his books are The Catholic Martyrs of the Twentieth Century: A Comprehensive Global History, Dante Alighieri: Divine Comedy, Divine Spirituality, The Pope's Army: 500 Years of the Papal Swiss Guard, 1492 and All That: Political Manipulations of History, The Virgin and the Dynamo: The Use and Abuse of Religion in Environmental Debates, and most recently, The God That Did Not Fail: How Religion Built and Sustains the West. Robert Royal is on the advisory board of the Catholic Education Resource Center.

Copyright © 1992 FirstThings
For more information, please visit
Why Did Columbus Sail?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Our Lady of Victory

Here is a good homily relating to Our Lady of Victory and modern times:

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Respect Life Sunday


Cardinal Rigali's Statement for Respect Life Sunday
Zenit News Agency (

We face the threat of a federal bill that, if enacted, would obliterate virtually all the gains of the past 35 years and cause the abortion rate to skyrocket. The "Freedom of Choice Act."

"In this Respect Life Month, let us rededicate ourselves to defending the basic rights of those who are weakest and most marginalized: the poor, the homeless, the innocent unborn, and the frail and elderly who need our respect and our assistance. In this and in so many ways we will truly build a culture of life."
VATICAN CITY (Zenit) - Here is the statement ofCardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia,Chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Pro-Life Activities for this weekend's Respect Life Sunday. The theme for this year is "Hope and Trust in Life."

"On October 5, 2008, Catholics across the United States will again celebrate Respect Life Sunday. Throughout the month of October, Catholic parishes and organizations will sponsor hundreds of educational conferences, prayer services, and opportunities for public witness, as well as events to raise funds for programs assisting those in need. Such initiatives are integral to the Church's ongoing effort to help build a culture in which every human life without exception is respected and defended.

Education and advocacy during Respect Life Month address a broad range of moral and public policy issues. Among these, the care of persons with disabilities and those nearing the end of life is an enduring concern. Some medical ethicists wrongly promote ending the lives of patients with serious physical and mental disabilities by withdrawing their food and water, even though -- or in some cases precisely because -- they are not imminently dying. This November, the citizens of Washington State will vote on a ballot initiative to legalize doctor-assisted suicide for terminally ill patients. In neighboring Oregon, where assisted suicide is already legal, the state has refused to cover the cost of life-sustaining treatments for some patients facing terminal illness, while callously informing them that Oregon will pay for suicide pills. Such policies betray the ideal of America as a compassionate society honoring the inherent worth of every human

Embryonic stem cell research also presents grave ethical concerns. The Catholic Church strongly supports promising and ethically sound stem cell research -- and strongly opposes killing week-old human embryos, or human beings at any stage, to extract their stem cells. We applaud the remarkable therapeutic successes that have been achieved using stem cells from cord blood and adult tissues. We vigorously oppose initiatives, like the one confronting Michigan voters in November, that would endorse the deliberate destruction of developing human beings for embryonic stem cell research.

Turning to abortion, we note that most Americans favor banning all abortion or permitting it only in very rare cases (danger to the mother's life or cases of rape or incest). Also encouraging is the finding of a recent Guttmacher Institute study that the U.S. abortion rate declined 26% between 1989 and 2004. The decline was steepest, 58%, among girls under 18. An important factor in this trend is that teens increasingly are choosing to remain abstinent until their late teens or early 20s. Regrettably, when they do become sexually active prior to marrying, many become pregnant and choose abortion -- the abortion rate increased among women aged 20 and older between 1974 and 2004, although the rate is now gradually declining.

Today, however, we face the threat of a federal bill that, if enacted, would obliterate virtually all the gains of the past 35 years and cause the abortion rate to skyrocket. The "Freedom of Choice Act" ("FOCA") has many Congressional sponsors, some of whom have pledged to act swiftly to help enact this proposed legislation when Congress reconvenes in January.FOCA establishes abortion as a "fundamental right" throughout the nine months of pregnancy, and forbids any law or policy that could "interfere" with that right or "discriminate" against it in public funding and programs. If FOCA became law, hundreds of reasonable, widely supported, and constitutionally sound abortion regulations now in place would be invalidated. Gone would be laws providing for informed consent, and parental consent or notification in the case of minors. Laws protecting women from unsafe abortion clinics and from abortion practitioners who are not physicians would be overridden.

Restrictions on partial-birth and other late-term abortions would be eliminated. FOCA would knock down laws protecting the conscience rights of nurses, doctors, and hospitals with moral objections to abortion, and force taxpayers to fund abortions throughout the United States. We cannot allow this to happen. We cannot tolerate an even greater loss of innocent human lives. We cannot subject more women and men to the post-abortion grief and suffering that our counselors and priests encounter daily in Project Rachel programs across America.

For twenty-four years, the Catholic Church has provided free, confidential counseling to individuals seeking emotional and spiritual healing after an abortion, whether their own or a loved one's. We look forward to the day when these counseling services are no longer needed, when every child is welcomed in life and protected in law. If FOCA is enacted, however, that day may recede into the very distant future.

In this Respect Life Month, let us rededicate ourselves to defending the basic rights of those who are weakest and most marginalized: the poor, the homeless, the innocent unborn, and the frail and elderly who need our respect and our assistance. In this and in so many ways we will truly build a culture of life.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Prayers of St. Francis of Assisi

The following are some of the prayers that St Francis composed.

Peace Prayer of Saint Francis
Lord make me
an instrument of your peace

Where there is hatred,
Let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, Joy.

O Divine Master grant that I may
Not so much seek to be consoled
As to console;
To be understood,
As to understand;
To be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned.
And it is in dying that we are
Born to eternal life.

Salutations to the Blessed Mother:

Hail, O Lady,
Mary, holy Mother of God:
you are the Virgin made Church
and the one chosen by the
most holy Father in heaven
whom He consecrated
with His most holy beloved Son
and with the Holy Spirit the Paraclete,
in whom there was and is
the fullness of grace and every good

Hail His Palace!
Hail His Tabernacle!
Hail His Home!
Hail His Robe!
Hail His Servant!
Hail His Mother!

And (hail) all you holy virtues which through the grace and light of the Holy Spirit are poured into the hearts of the faithful so that from their faithless state you may make them faithful to God.

Prayer Before the San Damiano Crucifix
Most high, glorious God,
enlighten the darkness
of my heart and give me Lord,
a correct faith, a certain hope,
a perfect charity, sense and knowledge,
so that I may carry out
Your holy and true command.

Here is a link to a beautifully orthodox, Franciscan and Marian community: Franciscans of the Immaculate.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The Holy Guardian Angels


GOD does not abandon to mere chance any of His handiworks; by His providence He is everywhere present; not a hair falls from the head or a sparrow to the ground without His knowledge. Not content, however, with yielding such familiar help in all things, not content with affording that existence which He communicates and perpetuates through every living being, He has charged His angels with the ministry of watching and safeguarding every one of His creatures that behold not His face. Kingdoms have their angels assigned to them, and men have their angels; these latter it is whom religion designates as the Holy Guardian Angels. Our Lord says in the Gospel, "Beware lest ye scandalize any of these little ones, for their angels in heaven see the face of My Father." The existence of Guardian Angels is, hence, a. dogma of the Christian faith: this being so, what ought not our respect be for that sure and holy intelligence that is ever present at our side; and how great should our solicitude be, lest, by any act of ours, we offend those eyes which are ever bent upon us in all our ways!
Taken from Lives of the Saints p. 328, by Alban Butler, Benziger Bros. ed. [1894], at
Guardian Angel Prayer

Angel of God, my guardian dear,
to whom God's love commits me here.
Ever this day be at my side,
to light and guard,
to rule and guide. AMEN.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

St. Therese of the Child Jesus


The following is a tribute to Saint Therese, The Little Flower. If you haven't seen the movie of Therese, check it out!