Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Thriving, Not Just Surviving

Fr. John Riccardo is one of my favorite priests - I really enjoy listening to his homilies and talks and I would encourage you to listen to them as well.  I will start linking to some of his talks more regularly on here and we'll start with this one.  This is a homily Fr. Riccardo gave at his parish in Michigan which was directed at new college students in which he gives them nine very practical tips on thriving rather than simply surviving.  These tips are very important for college students, but they are just as important for anyone really, whether a student or not and regardless of age, so let's all thrive the way God has made us to!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

"Don't let your life be barren....Make yourself felt. Shine forth with the torch of your faith and your love...Don't flutter around like a hen, when you can soar to the heights of an eagle!" - St. Josemaria Escriva (Feast Day June 26)

Real Living

Something so right about this commercial:

Mother Gives Her Life for her Unborn Child

Many are familiar with the story of St. Gianna Beretta Molla who after discovering a tumor on her uterus, chose to do whatever she could to save her unborn child.  After the birth of her baby Gianna died about a week later.  Now comes a very similar story about Chiara Corbella, the 28-year-old wife of Enrico Petrillo and mother of three (two of whom died from birth defects) who postponed cancer treatment to protect her third unborn baby.  Baby Francisco was born in May 2011 and Chiara passed away this month.  I won't be surprised if a canonization cause is opened for this young mother - what a great intercessor and example of a life well-lived (from CNA):
“I am going to heaven to take care of Maria and David, you stay here with Dad. I will pray for you,” Chiara said in a letter for Francisco that she wrote one week before her death....

...“The truth is that this cross – if you embrace it with Christ – ceases to be as ugly as it looks. If you trust in him, you discover that this fire, this cross, does not burn, and that peace can be found in suffering and joy in death,” Enrico explained.

“I spent a lot of time this year reflecting on this phrase from the Gospel that says the Lord gives a cross that is sweet and a burden that is light. When I would look at Chiara when she was about to die, I obviously became very upset. But I mustered the courage and a few hours before – it was about eight in the morning, Chiara died at noon – I asked her.

I said: 'But Chiara, my love, is this cross really sweet, like the Lord says? She looked at me and she smiled, and in a soft voice she said, 'Yes, Enrico, it is very sweet.' In this sense, the entire family didn’t see Chiara die peacefully, but happily, which is totally different,” Ernico said.

When his son grows up, he added, he will tell him “how beautiful it is to let oneself be loved by God, because if you feel loved you can do anything,” and this is “the most important thing in life: to let yourself be loved in order to love and die happy.”

“I will tell him that this is what his mother, Chiara, did. She allowed herself to be loved, and in a certain sense, I think she loved everyone in this way. I feel her more alive than ever. To be able to see her die happy was to me a challenge to death.”
"how beautiful it is to let oneself be loved by God, because if you feel loved you can do anything", "the most important thing in life: to let yourself be loved in order to love..." - are you allowing yourself to be loved by God and the people he has put in your life? are you choosing to love God and the people he has placed in your life?  Don't let this day go by without asking yourself these questions and taking them to prayer - these questions will profoundly effect your life because they deal with the very meaning of your existence.  You were made to be loved and to love.  If something seems awry in your life I can guarantee it can ultimately be traced back to this truth and these questions - are you allowing yourself to be loved and are you choosing to love? 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Today Starts the Fortnight for Freedom!

The fourteen days of prayer, fasting and action proposed by the U.S. bishops begins today.  Find out how you can participate by clicking on the Fortnight for Freedom image.

Prayer for the Protection of Religious Liberty

O God our Creator,
Through the power and working of your Holy Spirit,
you call us to live out our faith in the midst of the world,
bringing the light and the saving truth of the Gospel
to every corner of society.
We ask you to bless us
in our vigilance for the gift of religious liberty.
Give us the strength of mind and heart
to readily defend our freedoms when they are threatened;
give us courage in making our voices heard
on behalf of the rights of your Church
and the freedom of conscience of all people of faith.
Grant, we pray, O heavenly Father,
a clear and united voice to all your sons and daughters
gathered in your Church
in this decisive hour in the history of our nation,
so that, with every trial withstood
and every danger overcome—
for the sake of our children, our grandchildren,
and all who come after us—
this great land will always be "one nation, under God,
indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."
We ask this through Christ our Lord.

One action item you can do is to contact Gov. Nixon and ask him to sign SB 749 to protect religious liberty in Missouri - click here to see what SB 749 is and click the image to send him an pre-composed email from the Missouri Catholic Conference.


Thursday, June 7, 2012

What I Didn't Know at 16

Yesterday Pope Benedict said, "Sunday is the Lord’s day and man’s day, a day when everyone should be able to be free, free for family and free for God. In defending Sunday, we defend man’s freedom!".   I wonder if he had just read this story of 16-year-old Margeaux Graham who was selected to attend the American Legion Girls' State event in Florida.  After inquiring as to where she would be able to attend Sunday Mass during the nine day event she was told by organization officials that she would not be allowed to attend Mass, rather she could attend the "non-offensive" and non-denominational service offered to everyone at the conference - even though there is a Cathedral right across the street.  In inspiring fashion, she therefore declined the invitation to the event if it meant missing the most important aspect of the Catholic faith: Sunday Mass & Eucharist.  Her letter correspondence with officials regarding the situation is quite impressive actually.  Read her first letter in which she informs them that she will not be attending Girls' State followed by the shocking response here.  After being told in the response that if she wants to attend Girls' State she would have to make the "sacrifice" of missing Mass (that's ironic, huh?), she responded by providing a wonderful catechetical instruction on the importance and obligation of attending Mass which you can read here.

When I was younger I didn't understand what the Mass really was or it's true importance.  Like most young Catholics in the Americas and Europe I went to Mass because that's what we do on Sunday, but I didn't know the fullness of why and if I was travelling or something out of the ordinary was going on that weekend, then no big deal, we'll just skip it this week - I mean, it's just one day right?  And what's so special about the Mass anyway?  Why not just go to any other Christian service?  Mass is pretty boring most of the time anyway.  Those are statements I remember saying to myself back in the day.  I just didn't get it.  And the reality is that those are the same statements that most youth and young adults and, frankly, adults say to themselves quite often.  So the questions would get asked (mostly just in my head) but I wasn't getting any real answers. 

Then years later, by the grace of God, I met some people who knew the answers and shared them with me - but the thing is they didn't just share facts and rules, they shared the 'why behind the what' with excitement, joy and love - and they led me to an authentic encounter.  It wasn't like there was one single moment, rather it was a gradual process of scales falling away; a movement from seeing the same things I had seen all my life in the Church like the Eucharist on the surface to slowly coming to see it with new eyes; of seeing behind the veil of the appearance of bread and wine to the reality that this is truly Jesus; of recognizing him 'in the breaking of the bread'.  These people introduced me to Jesus and His Bride, the Church, whereas before I had kinda just been in the same room but never really knew him or his bride - and you can't have the fullness of one without the other. 

It was during this time that I started to appreciate and understand the beauty of the Mass. I started seeing the Mass not as an obligation of boring rules, but as an obligation of happiness.  If I want to be truly happy, I need the Mass.  Why?  Because I was made to love and be loved - that is my purpose, and yours, as a human being made in God's image.  And the Mass is where the greatest exchange of love between God and humanity is made present to each of us personally and communally.  God who is Love itself and who loves you perfectly comes to prove his love for you and beseeches you to love him back because your heart was made for nothing less.   The human heart longs for an infinite love and the only one who can fulfill that longing is the Infinite One.  He loves you so much that he wanted to always give you a way to remember his love for you - "do this in remembrance of me" - not just as a thing of the past, but in the here and now.  Mass is the unbloody re-presentation of the one sacrifice of Christ on the cross for love of you.  In the Mass Jesus says, "I love you" and he simply wants you to say, "Thank you.  I love you too".  The Eucharist is the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of the Risen Jesus - God himself coming to commune with you - what could possibly be more important than that?  Certainly not Girls' State, as Margeaux clearly understands.

Monday, June 4, 2012

The Fruits of the Holy Spirit and You

Mario Bros. and Pedro (you know, Napolean's friend) Meet Jesus

In looking at the modern world, it's not hard to see that something's awry.  And if you look deep down to the root it's really not too hard to see what's going on - in a word: sin, of course, but we see a particular focus on a lack of faith and the breakdown of the family.  The pontificates of John Paul II and Benedict XVI are very much focused on building these things up again. 

The dictatorship of relativism is rampant and the degradation of the person is like a plague.  Pope Benedict has therefore called for a Year of Faith beginning in October and is intensely interested in the New Evangelization.  We who call ourselves Christian must again avail ourselves of the opportunity to fall in love with God and learn what it really means to be Christian.  How many of us have been presented with a water-downed version of the Gospel and don't even realize that we're missing out on something?  We've forgotten the power of the Gospel, or in many cases, we never even knew how powerful the Gospel really is in the first place.  Are we surprised then that even we Christians often don't seem much different from the culture?  If we receive a less-than-full-and-authentic-Gospel we won't even know that there's a beauty beyond our wildest dreams just waiting to be discovered, so since we don't know it's there we spend our time searching in all kinds of other places trying to satisfy a deep hunger, trying to figure out what the hunger is for and continually being thoroughly disappointed when we can't figure it out.  Wow, tangent - that's not even what I was planning on saying, but ok (haha).  The point is we Christians need to truly encounter Christ and the fullness of the Gospel. 

For years I went to Mass and received Communion, went back to my pew and thought about how I'd really rather be playing tennis or hanging out with friends - I had no real understanding that I had just received Jesus nor did I understand that Jesus was who I was hungry for.  Was my heart ready to receive the fullness of the Gospel at that time?  Would I have been open to know the truth and let it set me free?  I don't know.  Maybe.  Maybe not.  What I do know in looking around is that many hungry hearts exist and most of them are starving for the fullness of the Gospel and ready to receive it if only someone would lead them to truly meet Jesus.  Encountering Jesus is not about a social program or having the latest gadgets to assist us - those things are helpful but that's really not what's it's all about. Encountering Jesus is about transfiguration - receiving the grace of an open heart, welcoming the One who is knocking and becoming transfigured to Him.  It's really about falling in love with the only One who's really ever held the key to your heart. 

Can we get excited about our faith please??  Everything your heart has ever searched for is present and ready to be given here:

Jesus healed the blind man in the Gospels and he can do it for us too - good Lord take off our blinders and help us see!  This ---------->
is JESUS!!!
I'm saying this to myself just as much as anyone else - we need to constantly evangelize one another so we can all come to know Jesus ever more deeply.  

This little light of mine...forget that! 
I want a blazing fifty foot tall fire ball!
Then I wanna do this: a spiritual sense, of course. I've never thought of Mario as an evangelist before, but hey, even Mario needs the new evangelization and once he receives the "fire power" he's able to pass it on to others (I know the analogy isn't perfect cuz in the game he uses his fire power for other reasons, blah blah blah - just go with me here). 

Like Mario, we need the fire power of the Holy Spirit for our own transfiguration and that of others to help each other know that when we truly have an authentic encounter with Jesus...

7 Quick Takes Monday

Ok, so we've been doing this 7 Quick Takes Friday thing with Conversion Diary lately and I was just about ready to put this up Friday, but then, surprise, surprise, I got a little busy and ergo, the posting was, uh, postponed - no pun intended, well maybe a little intended (haha).  Anyway, so long story short, this time we're doing a 7 Quick Takes Monday instead, so enjoy it while it lasts :)

1.  Imagine:

2.  Sr. Helena Burns, FSP who some of you graduates and upper classmen/women will remember from her visit to CCM in 2009, has written a new devotional book called "He Speaks to You".  It looks awesome! Take a peek:

Bl. Jose Sanchez del Rio
Bl. Jose Anacleto Gonzalez Flores
3.  "For Greater Glory" was released in theaters on Friday and features the stories of many martyrs during the Cristero war in Mexico in the late 1920s in which Catholics were persecuted by the government.  Two such martyrs featured in the film are Bl. Jose Sanchez del Rio and Bl. Anacleto Gonzalez Flores.  The portrayal of 14 year old Jose's martyrdom was quite accurate as he was captured during a battle, tortured by having the soles of his feet cut off and then forced to walk on salt before being shot.  Anacleta's martyrdom was somewhat accurate in that he was captured at the home of the Vargas family and eventually shot, however what was not shown was that after being captured at the home he was taken to a prison where he was tortured and then shot with three other men, two of which were captured at the home with him.  To read more about the stories of Jose and Anacleta click here where you can read the Vatican biographical descriptions of these men along with six other martyrs who were all beatified by Pope John Paul II in 2005.

4.  June is traditionally a month dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  Jesus appeared to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque in the 17th century.  Click on the link to learn about devotion to the Sacred Heart and the 12 promises for those who practice the devotion. 

Fr. Brian Fallon
5.  This time of year is filled with many ordination anniversaries (including Fr. Patrick's 10 year anniversary on June 7th and Fr. William Hennecke's 5 year anniversary June 1st) and new ordinations:  there are 160 men being ordained to the priesthood during this time, including Fr. Brian Fallon who some of you may remember visited CCM about three years ago.   

6.  Say howdy to SEMO's new FOCUS missionaries:

7.  Remember St. Drogo?  Meet one of his best friends: Bl. Dodo.

Enjoy your Monday!