Sunday, November 30, 2008

Feast of St Andrew the Apostle - click for link

As in the case of all the apostles except Peter and John, the Gospels give us little about the holiness of Andrew. He was an apostle. That is enough. He was called personally by Jesus to proclaim the Good News, to heal with Jesus' power and to share his life and death. Holiness today is no different. It is a gift that includes a call to be concerned about the Kingdom, an outgoing attitude that wants nothing more than to share the riches of Christ with all people.

“The Twelve called together the community of the disciples and said, ‘It is not right for us to neglect the word of God to serve at table. Brothers, select from among you seven reputable men, filled with the Spirit and wisdom, whom we shall appoint to this task, whereas we shall devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word’” (Acts 6:2-4).

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Saturday, November 29, 2008

First Sunday in Advent - click for link

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Saturday - Day of Our Lady

Mine is the heavens and mine is the earth. Mine are the nations, the just are mine, and mine the sinners. The angels are mine, and the Mother of God, and all things are mine, and God Himself is mine and for me, because Christ is mine and all for me. What do you ask then, my soul? Yours is all of this, and all is for you. Do not engage yourself in something less, nor pay heed to the crumbs which fall from your Father's table. Go forth and exult in your Glory! Hide yourself in It and rejoice, and you will obtain the supplications of your heart.

From St John of the Cross 'Prayer of the Soul Taken with Love'

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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Our Lady of Miraculous Medal and St Catherine Laboure - click to visit website of the Chapel and shrine at rue du Bac in Paris

Story of St Catherine and Miraculous Medal - by Fr Joseph Dirvin

alternatively for 'busy-busy' or 'lazy bones' - Youtube short movie by Bob and Penny Lord

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

In the liturgy today we can read invaluable words that may be consolation for those chosen souls discerning their vocation:

Mt 19:27-29.
Then Peter answering, said to him: Behold we have left all things, and have followed thee: what therefore shall we have? And Jesus said to them: Amen I say to you, that you who have followed me, in the regeneration, when the Son of man shall sit on the seat of his majesty, you also shall sit on twelve seats judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
And every one that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall possess life everlasting.

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Summorum Ponificum in the Parish - interesting lecture

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Week of St John of the Cross

Vain cares and necessary solicitudes - continued

It is especially on the subject of vain cares and desires, that we may profitably remember the sublime maxims of St John of the Cross on renouncement of one's self and temporal goods; for as one of the holy Fathers has said, the desire of earthly things is still more hurtful to the soul than their enjoyment.
1. To enjoy all, take emjoyment in nothing.
2. To attain to know all, desire to know nothing.
3. To obtain possession of all, wish to possess nothing.
4. To attain to being all, desire to be nothing.
5. To arrive at that which you do not relish, proceed by that which displeases you.
6. To acquire that which you do not know, go by the way do not know.
7. To attain that which you do not possess, traverse that which you do not possess.
8. To become that which you are not, pass by that which you are not.

Means by which not to impede the All.

1. When you stop at something, you cease to give yourself up to the All.
2. For to proceed from all to the All, you must renounce yourself wholly in all.
3. And when you attain the possession of All, you must possess it without desiring anything;
4. For if you desire to have anything at all, you have not purely your treasure in God.
Endeavour to arrive at this state where all creatures shall be of no importance whatever to you, nor you to them; in order that, in the forgetfulness of all things, you may be alone with your God, in the secret of your retreat.
He who does not allow himself to be carried away by his desires, will take his flight as lightly as the bird, who has not lost a single feather.

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Sunday, November 23, 2008

Cardinal Stafford comments on American Election of the most pro-abortion President in recent years - click for link

I encourage and ask prayers for good Cardinal Stafford who had a courage to criticise the election of the new US President. I have read somewhere, long time ago, the number of human casualties in the second World War equaled the number of aborted children.

It is clear we live in Apocalyptic times, we need to reflect on our lives, we need to pray more and change for better ways of life in better conformity to God's will. There is no doubt God loves us but He is also just, even in this life. I have read in the weekly Catholic newspaper, "The Universe" praising hymns for the election of the first black President of the biggest and richest country in the world, that the era of racism is finally at the end, everybody loves President elect, and those words were written by three Catholic commentators in their weekly columns. The pro-choice stance of the new President does not seem to bother them at all. It is amazing the Catholic commentators has only imaginative issue of racism on their minds in the ruling era of political correctness, nothing else bothers them at all. I feel repulse to buy this Catholic weekly again, although I will miss Lord Alton's, who is dedicated pro-life supporter, weekly column there. We must then remember these words of Saint Paul: "For there it will come a time when they will not endure sound doctrine: but, according to their own desires, they will heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears." "Preach the word: be instant in season, out of season: reprove, entreat, 'rebuke in all patience and doctrine."

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Saturday, November 22, 2008

Last Sunday after Pentecost - click for link

Beautiful picture 'Last Judgment' by Jacob de Becker

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Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Memorial - click for more

NOVENA in Preparation for the Feast of Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (12th - 21st November)
By Rev. Lawrence G. Lovasik, S.V.D.

Meditations and Prayers
Days 1, 4 and 7
Mary, Mother of God, tradition tells us that when you were three years of age, your parents, Joachim and Anne, took you to the Temple in Jerusalem to fulfill their vow. The holy couple offered you to God by the ministry of the priest in charge, who invoked the blessing of God upon you and your parents. How fervently your mother and father thanked God for having given you to them and begged Him to accept the offering which they were making! They then left a small offering of silver required by the Law of Moses.What a beautiful example for parents to imitate! Their children also belong to God, for they are His gift. Teach parents to care for their children as God’s sacred trust, to guard them from sin and to lead them in the way of virtue. May they consider it to be the greatest privilege bestowed upon them by God to dedicate their sons and daughters to His holy service. Help them to become worthy of this blessing through their ownprayers and good example.
Mary, My Mother, your first presentation to God, made by the hands of your parents, was an offering most acceptable in His sight. Let my consecration of myself to God be made under your patronage and assisted by your intercession and in union with your merits. Amen.

Days 2, 5 and 8:
Mary, Mother of God, already in your childhood you dedicated yourself to the love and service of God. Led by divine inspiration to His house, you prepared yourself for your sublime dignity of Divine Motherhood in silence and solitude with God. Though the designs of God were unknown to you, you, nevertheless, detached your heart from the world in order to give all your love to God. I can picture you alone with your God, following with devotion the life led in common by the virgins of God’s house. You were trained there with other girls, under the care of holy women, and with deepest reverence you assisted at the sacred functions. But the true sanctuary in which you dwelt with God was not the palace of worship at Jerusalem but the immaculate temple of your heart. You may have remained in the Temple till the age of twelve. When you later returned to your home, you were under the loving care of your mother, Saint Anne. With her you loved to sing the psalms and canticles of the inspired authors of your nation. From Anne you heard the touching story of the chosen people. You learned to read the sacred books by yourself and tried to penetrate their hidden meaning. You often discussed the coming of the Messiah, since you knew He would be of your race and family. I cannot even imagine the heavenly beauty that adorned your innocent soul as you were being prepared by the Eternal Father to be the Mother of His Divine Son and the Spouse of the Holy Spirit. The wisdom and power of God was constructing a living temple for the Savior of the world.
Mary, My Mother, you were laying the foundation of that hidden life in which, by the practice of the highest virtues, you were to reach that sublime degree of holiness to which you were predestined as Mother of the Son of God and Mother of all the souls for whom He was to die. Attentive to the voice of the Holy Spirit, you diligently gathered up all His lessons, preserving them in your soul with zealous care. Amen.

Days 3, 6 and 9:
Mary, Mother of God, may the perfect gift of yourself to God through love in your presentation in the temple be an inspiration to me. You loved God with your whole heart and mind and strength. Obtain for me the grace to love God with my whole heart—so that all the love my heart is capable of may be consecrated to Him, and all other affection subordinated to the love I owe God. Help me to love God with my whole soul—so that all the faculties of my soul may be consecrated to Him, and that I may make use of them only to make Him known, loved and served. Help me to love God with my whole mind—so that my mind may be habitually occupied with God and that I may value His good pleasure above everything else—above my convenience, above all earthly treasures, above all knowledge and friendship, above health and life. Help me to love God with my whole strength—so that I may consecrate undividedly, unreservedly and continually to His service, my life, my health and all I am and have.
Mary, My Mother, pray that the love of God above all things and detachment from the world and its false pleasures, may also make my soul the temple of the living God. After your example, I desire to be known to God and unknown to men, to possess God and to be forgotten by creatures. May God dwell in me and may I live to Him alone through frequent Holy Communion and still more frequent prayer so that God may direct my whole life—my thoughts, words and actions—to His greater honor and glory. Amen.

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

St Edmund, King and Martyr - click for EWTN link

Today is memorial of St Edmund, King of England and martyr. St Edmund pray for England!

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Week of St John of the Cross

Vain cares and necessary solicitudes

The third cause of distractions is, first, unnecessary cares and desires. The distractions that come from this source are much more grievous than those caused by vain thoughts; these have their origin in the mind, and affects less the will; but cares take hold of the heart, draw away the will and entirely divert its attention from God. The soul that allows herself to be drawn away by temporal cares, endures the sufferings of a rude slavery. The pains and anguish of this soul increase in direct proportion to the disorderly desires which she seeks to satisfy. He who possesses the science of renouncement, is safe from solicitudes at the hour of prayer, as well as when not engaged in this holy exercise; without loss of time he gathers with great ease abundant spiritual riches. He who is ignorant of this sublime science, exhausts himself by useless efforts to escape from the net in which he is held captive, and in spite of all his care, can scarcely turn away his thoughts from the sad object of his affections for an instant. If the spiritual man perceives that these vain cares are springing up in his heart, he ought at once to suppress this first movement and reflect that his whole endeavor must be to love God above all things, and to renounce himself.

more to come...

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Week of St John of the Cross

For the coming Feast of St John let me present his thoughts about distractions in prayer. It is the most common problem and reading the Saint explanations and advice may help us to overcome difficulties and become more focused in prayer (St John's text in italics).

Distractions and dryness in prayer can come from several causes; we must carefully seek them that we may be able to apply a remedy, especially if they are culpable. These causes may be reduced to seven:
Distractions that come from faults and tepidity.Those caused by the mobile nature of the imagination, and unstability of mind.
Temporal cares and solicitude arising from our state of life.
Corporal indispositions.
The aridity which happens by the will of God, to try us, or to draw us on to a higher state of prayer.
Distractions which come from several of these causes united.

Tepidity and Faults.
These are the ordinary causes of the distractions of persons who, before beginning mental prayer, through the duty of their state, neglect to employ the means for acquitting themselves well in it and deriving from it great fruit. Such are also the distractions of those who are accustomed to neglect preparation for prayer, and do not take pains to keep habitually recollected and in the presence of God during their ordinary actions.
Those who do not restrain the liberty of the eyes or the tongue, who give themselves too much freedom in their looks and conversations, fall necessarily and by their own fault, into dissipation and a multitude of distractions during prayer. Those who seek
after or joyfully permit themselves luxuries, who satisfy their greed, plunge their mind into torpor and make themselves incapable of desiring or relishing spiritual things.
For distractions of this kind, the remedy is easy to find: these faults must be repented and corrected.
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Sunday, November 16, 2008

SAINT MARGARET - Queen of Scotland (1046-1093)

Spiritual Bouquet: He who is unfaithful in the little things is unfaithful also in much (St. Luke 16:10).

Saint Margaret’s name signifies pearl, “a fitting name,” says Theodoric, her confessor and her first biographer, “for one such as she.” Her soul was like a precious pearl; a life spent amidst the luxury of a royal court never dimmed its luster or estranged it from Him who had bought it with His blood. She was the granddaughter of an English king; in 1070 she became the bride of Malcolm of Scotland, thereafter reigning as Queen until her death in 1093.

How did she become a Saint in a position where sanctity is so difficult? First, she burned with zeal for the house of God. She built churches and monasteries; she occupied herself by making vestments; she could not rest until she saw the laws of God and His Church observed throughout her realm. Next, amid a thousand cares, she found time to converse with God, ordering her piety with such sweetness and discretion that she won her husband to sanctity like her own. He would rise at night to pray with her; he loved to kiss the holy books she used, and sometimes would take them away with him, bringing them back later to his wife covered with jewels. Lastly, despite Saint Margaret’s great virtue, she wept constantly over her sins and begged her confessor to correct her faults.

Saint Margaret did not neglect her duties in the world even if she was not of the world. God blessed this marriage with eight children, six princes and two princesses who did not fail to respond to their mother’s teaching and examples. Never was there a better mother; she spared no pains in their education, and their sanctity was the fruit of her prudence and her zeal. And never was there a better queen. She was the most trusted counselor of her husband, who always found her counsels of great utility, and she labored with him for the spiritual and material improvement of the land. Malcolm, after having pacified his domains for several years, saw to the building of the cathedral of Durham and founded a monastery at Dumfermlin.

Living in the midst of all the world’s pleasures, Saint Margaret sighed for the true homeland and viewed death as a release. On her deathbed she learned that her husband and their eldest son had been slain in battle. She thanked God for sending this last affliction as a penance for her sins. After receiving Holy Viaticum, she repeated the prayer from the Missal, “O Lord Jesus Christ, who by Thy death didst give life to the world, deliver me.” And at the words “deliver me,” says her biographer, her soul took flight to Christ, in 1093, in her forty-seventh year.

All perfection consists in keeping a guard upon the heart. Wherever we are, we can make a solitude in our hearts, detach ourselves from the world, and converse familiarly with God, as Saint Margaret did.

Sources: Les Petits Bollandistes: Vies des Saints, by Msgr. Paul Guérin (Bloud et Barral: Paris, 1882), Vol. 6; Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, a compilation based on Butler’s Lives of the Saints, and other sources by John Gilmary Shea (Benziger Brothers: New York, 1894).
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Twenety seventh Sunday after Pentecost - parable of mustard seed and leavened bread

Grant, we beseech Thee, Almighty God, that ever fixing our thoughts on such things as are reasonable, we may both in our words and works do what is pleasing in Thy sight. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, etc.

EPISTLE (1Thess. 1: 2-10.) Brethren, we give thanks to God for you all, making a remembrance of you in our prayers without ceasing; being mindful of the work of your faith, and labor, and charity, and of the enduring of the hope of our Lord Jesus Christ before God and our Father: knowing, brethren, beloved of God, your election: for our gospel hath not been unto you in word only, but in power also, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much fullness, as you know what manner of men we have been among you for your sakes. And you became followers of us and of the Lord, receiving the word in much tribulation, with joy of the Holy Ghost: so that you were made a pattern to all that believe, in Macedonia and in Achaia. For from you was spread abroad the word of the Lord, not only in Macedonia and in Achaia, but also in every place, your faith, which is towards God, is gone forth; so that we need not to speak anything. For they themselves relate of us what manner of entering in we had unto you; and how ye turned, to God from idols, to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven (whom he raised from the dead), Jesus, who both delivered us from the wrath to come.

The apostle gives thanks to God in prayer for those inhabitants of Thessalonia, who have been converted to Christianity by his words, and declares to them his joy at their Christian life which they prove by their good works and their perseverance, even through all trials, in expectation of eternal reward through Christ. He assures them also of their salvation, (election) because God had caused the preaching of His gospel, which they so willingly received, to produce in them such extraordinary fruit. He praises them not only for having listened to the gospel and abandoned idolatry, but for having regulated their lives in accordance with the faith, and having become a model to distant nations, for the report of their faith had spread far, and everywhere their zealous reception of the gospel was spoken of. Would that the same could be said of all Christians!

GOSPEL (Matt 13:31-35)
At that time, Jesus spoke this parable to the multitudes: The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard-seed, which a man took and sowed in his field: which is the least indeed of all seeds; but when it is grown up, it is greater than all herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come, and dwell in the branches thereof. Another parable he spoke to them: The kingdom of heaven is like to leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, until the whole was leavened. All these things Jesus spoke in parables to the multitude, and without parables he did not speak to them, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying: I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter things hidden from the foundation of the world.

What is here understood by the kingdom of heaven?
The Church and the doctrine of Christ.

Why is the Church compared to a grain of mustard-seed?

Because there is a great similarity between them. The mustard-seed, though so small, grows in Palestine so high and so rapidly, that it becomes a broad tree, in which birds can build their nests. In like manner the Church of Christ was in the beginning very small like the mustard-seed, but it soon spread so wide that numberless people, even great philosophers and princes, came to find peace and protection under its branches.

Why is Christ's doctrine compared to leaven?
Because like the leaven, which quickly penetrates the flour, and makes it palatable bread, the doctrine of Christ, spreading with surprising swiftness over the then known parts of the globe, gave the Gentiles a taste for divine things and for heavenly wisdom. Thus Christ’s doctrine penetrates him who receives it, sanctifies all his thoughts, words, and deeds, and makes him pleasing to God.

By what means, in particular, was the Church of Christ propagated?
By the omnipotence of God and the miracles which He so frequently wrought to prove the truth and divinity of the Christian religion; the courageous faith, and the pure moral life of the early Christians, which led many pagan minds to accept the doctrine of Christ; and the persecution of Christianity, for, as Tertullian says: "The blood of the martyrs was the seed of the Church." The false doctrine of Mahomet, the erroneous teachings of Luther, Calvin, and earlier and later heretics have, it is true, also spread quickly far and wide; but this is not to be wondered at, for it is easy to lead people to a doctrine that encourages sensuality, and to which they are carried by their evil inclinations, as was the case with the doctrine of the impostor Mahomet, and three hundred years ago with the heresy of Luther; but to spread a doctrine which demands the subduing of the carnal, earthly inclinations, and to bend the will to the yoke of obedience to faith, something more than human eloquence is required. Thus, the Chancellor of England, Thomas More, who gave his blood for the true doctrine of Christ, wrote to Luther, who was boasting of the rapid increase of his sect: "It is easy to descend; seducing the people to a bad life is nothing more marvellous than that a heavy stone should fall of its own accord to the ground;" and Melanchton, a friend of Luther, in answer to his mother's question, whether she should remain a Catholic or receive Luther's doctrine, wrote : "In this religion it is easy to live, in the Catholic it is easy to die."

Why did Christ always speak in parables?
That His teaching by being simple might be more easily understood, and better remembered. He who is called upon to teach others, should, as did Christ, always speak to them according to their ability to understand, and by no means seek his own honor, but the honor of God, and the benefit of those who hear him.

O most benign Jesus. How much do we give Thee thanks that Thou hast permitted us to be born in Thy holy Church, and instructed in Thy holy doctrine, which, like the mustard-seed, has grown to be a large tree, spreading over the whole earth. Grant that under the shadow of this tree, in Thy holy Church, we may ever rest securely, cling to her faithfully, and penetrated, as by leaven, with her doctrine may bring Thee pleasing fruits of faith and virtue. Amen.

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Saturday, November 15, 2008

Saturday - Day of Our Lady. Second part of Bl Titus Brandsma lecture - "The Brothers of Our Lady" - click for part one.

Today we continue to meditate on the Beauty of Carmel, Our Lady, ever gracious Protectress of Carmelite Order. Our Lady should be in the heart of every devout Carmelite, she is the example to follow in the Order devotion to her. This truth is often forgotten and neglected nowadays.

In that distress the Saint again had recourse to Mary and his confidence was not betrayed. How could it be otherwise? In the night of the 16th of July, 1251, Mary appeared to the General of the Order, who was in Cambridge at that time.

He was kneeling, as was his wont, far into the night before the statue of Our Lady; from his lips flowed again the devoutly insistent Flos Carmeli. He begged privileges for the Order. In answer to his fervent prayer, Our Lady appeared in the habit of the Order and pointed to it as a pledge of her special protection. Whosoever should die in that habit should not suffer the eternal fire.

This apparition left the Saint enraptured with joy. The Order's habit, hitherto a token of devotion to Mary, now became likewise a pledge of her special protection. The disclosure of this motherly promise in a short time modified the attitude towards the Order. People vied with each other to beg the Order's habit, either to live or to die in it. In receiving the habit of the Order they secured Our Lady's motherly help in those times which were so rich in devotion to Mary. A stronger confirmation of the Marian character of the Order was hardly imaginable and very soon, therefore, it was regarded preeminently as the Marian Order.

It is quite certain that the title became more and more known and recognized, and especially in the Netherlands, where the stock-title of the Order became "Our Lady's Brethren." By that name the Carmelites are usually, nay, nearly always called. This quite outstanding name of Brothers of Our Lady led to a rapid extension of the Order, while at the same time many people living in the world received the habit of the Order to participate in its privileges. In the Order of Carmel, the Scapular supplied the whole habit. Hence, the stamp of Mary was put more and more on the Order.

Our Lady Especially Venerated as Mother of God.
We ought, however, to discuss for a moment the character of the devotion to Mary. This devotion has marks and traits of its own in the Order of Carmel. Whereas in the Order of St. Francis of Assisi Mary's Immaculate Conception is especially regarded, in our own Order attention is focused upon Mary as Mother of God. As such she had already been foreshadowed in the little cloud above Carmel; as such she was honoured on Carmel; and as such she has ever been invoked in our Order. When the first members of the Order looked out from their high mountain towards the country, their looks met first of all Nazareth, and this little town recalled to their minds the coming of the Angel to Mary and the accomplishment of the mystery of the Incarnation in the overshadowing of the Holy Ghost. The contemplation of this mystery has led to a twofold devotion to Mary, which we had better describe as an imitation of Mary, gradually deepening into a closer union with her. We may see the same in the Imitation of Christ in the 14th and 15th centuries, which matured in the 16th century into a close union with Christ. One should not think of the imitation without thinking of the union, nor of the union without the thought of the imitation. Both flow into each other, but in one period the former is more prominent, in another more attention is paid to the latter. One should rather see both trends blended together into one harmonious whole.

Mary Before Us as our Example.
The imitation of Mary, the most elevated of all creatures, set as an example before us by God Himself, shows Mary as the pattern of all virtues. She is the mirror in which we should ever watch ourselves, the Mother whom her children ought to resemble ever more. A remarkable treatise on this has come down to us in the collection of old manuscripts of the first part of our Order's history, collected by the Spanish Carmelite, Philippus Riboti, and printed in the beginning of the 16th century. How old this utterance of devotion towards Mary may be cannot be solved satisfactorily. At any rate, it is older than the end of the 14th century, when it already belonged to old manuscripts. Father Gabriel Wessels ascribes it without any hesitation to the famous English Carmelite, John Baconthorpe, who lived in the early part of the 14th century.

The author gives a brief outline of the Rule of the Order and concludes that the Carmelite, in order to observe this Rule, has only to look at the example of Our Lady. He thinks that our Order is fully entitled to bear the name, Order of Brothers of Our Lady, seeing that Mary already practised before us everything that is prescribed in the Rule. Then he praises her obedience, purity and apostolic poverty. Just as the Order's Rule commanded, she had chosen her places of residence far from the turmoil of the world: in the loneliness of the little house of Nazareth, in the solitary cave of Bethlehem, in the poverty of Egypt. As to the observance of silence, he points out how few words spoken by Mary have been noted down in the Scripture. And thus he goes on with his examples. Sometimes his parallels are somewhat farfetched, but on the whole his explanations are in keeping with the words and intentions of the Rule. All these facts of Mary's life are pictured to the Carmelite in order to show him how he follows Mary's life closely by observing his Rule.

For those interested in Marian Devotion of Discalced Carmelites I invite to read essay on the subject published by General House of Discalced order in Rome and entitled The Virgin Mary in Our Life"

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Friday, November 14, 2008

All Saints of Carmelite Order

On this day the Order celebrates the memory of all its saints, those known and those unknown.
Let us pray
Lord, may the patronage of the Blessed Virgin Mary, our Mother, and the prayers of all the saints of Carmel help us to walk steadfastly in their footsteps, and by our prayers and good works to further the cause of your Church. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen

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Thursday, November 13, 2008

St Frances Xavier CABRINI (1850-1917)

Extraordinary woman born in Italy, she was the first US citizen to be canonized. She traveled thousands of miles to work for Italian immigrants in New York.

She encountered a lot of disappointments and difficulties but her deep trust in God helped her doing the work of Christ. In 35 years Frances Xavier Cabrini founded 67 institutions dedicated to caring for the poor, the abandoned, the uneducated and the sick. Seeing great need among Italian immigrants who were losing their faith, she organized schools and adult education classes.

At her canonization on July 7, 1946, Pius XII said, "Although her constitution was very frail, her spirit was endowed with such singular strength that, knowing the will of God in her regard, she permitted nothing to impede her from accomplishing what seemed beyond the strength of a woman."

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I think this is the most accurate picture of the president-elect I came across.

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Consoling words from Our Lord -
Amen, amen, I say to you you will weep and mourn, while the world rejoices; you will grieve, but your grief will become joy (John 16:20).
So you also are now in anguish, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you (John 16:22).

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Monday, November 10, 2008

Spiritual or worldly riches?

How profitable for the soul is spiritual richness that comes from trials and humble practice of virtue and how superior it is to worldly riches always corruptible.

Sirach 31:8-11
Blessed is the rich man that is found without blemish: and that hath not gone after gold, nor put his trust in money nor in treasures.

Who is he, and we will praise him? for he hath done wonderful things in his life. Who hath been tried thereby, and made perfect, he shall have glory everlasting. He that could have transgressed, and hath not transgressed: and could do evil things, and hath not done them: Therefore are his goods established in the Lord, and all the church of the saints shall declare his alms.

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Sunday, November 09, 2008

Feast of Dedication of the Archbasilica o Our Saviour - click for link

Today we celebrate the end of persecusion of Christians in ancient Rome - the patriarchal Basilica of St John Lateran or Our Saviour Basilica was built and consecrated when Christian were allowed to practice openly their faith. St John Lateran is the parish church of all Catholics, for it is the Pope's parish, the cathedral church of the Bishop of Rome. This church is the spiritual home of the people who are the Church. This is what Dom Gueranger writes about the Feast (link to full post in the title):

The Emperor Constantine had placed the imperial treasure at the disposal of the bishops; and he himself stimulated their zeal for what he called in his edicts the work of the churches. Rome, the place of his victory by the Cross, the capital of the now Christian world, was the first to benefit by the prince’s munificence. In a series of dedications, to the glory of God and the holy Apostles and Martyrs, St. Sylvester, the Pope of peace, took possession of the eternal city in the name of the true God. Today is the birthday of the mother and mistress of all churches, called “of Our Savior, Aula Dei (God’s Palace), the golden basilica” (Ancient inscription once found on the greater apse. It is also called ‘St. John Lateran’—‘Lateran’ after its location in Rome and ‘St. John after St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist, who are both specially honored therein). It is a new Sinai, whence the apostolic oracles and so many Councils have made known to the world the law of salvation. No wonder that this Feast is celebrated in the Universal Church calendar.

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Saturday, November 08, 2008

Borat paroding Barack Hussein Obama hopeful candidate for American President

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Carmelite Mysticism Historical Sketches - The Brothers of Our Lady

Cloud seen by Elias, Symbol of the Mother of God
We have already mentioned the pious tradition in the Order of Carmel that the Prophet Elias saw in the little cloud bearing the redeeming rain for the parched land of Israel a prototype of Our Lady, the Mother of the Redeemer, a revelation of the mystery of the Incarnation.

Long before the order became definitely established under St Berthold, there was a sanctuary in honour of Our Lady on Mt Carmel. This sanctuary became the centre of the Order in its new form and the first members of the Order were called after it "the Brothers of Our Lady of Mount Carmel".

Name, "Broters of Mary", Inspires to Devotion.
This gave ample scope to their piety and while they daily hurried to Our Lady's Chapel and before her altar performed their divine Office and meditation; while they led their lives of prayer under the very eye of their heavenly Mother, so to say, their devotion to Mary became more and more fervent and earnest. It was a wonderful dispensation of Providence that the first monastery of the Order should be built round a little chapel which had long been a centre of devotion to Mary. That dispensation of Providence enjoined on the Brothers the devotion to Mary as something intimately allied to their institution, and the name with which the neighbouring population called them after this sanctuary, stamped the former crusaders, who had laid down their swords on the altar of Mary, as Knights of Our Lady.

When the second General of the Order, St. Brocard, lay on his death-bed, he gathered the hermits about him to address them with some parting words of farewell and exhortation. The words he spoke to them excited the Brothers to honour Mary by deeds tried in virtue, "You are called," he said, "Brothers of Our Lady. Take care that after my death you prove worthy of that name." Evidently he had during his life, more especially during the twenty-five years of his office as General, always insisted on this. He had even looked to it that they should remain worthy of that name. His generalship, therefore, must have especially fortified and confirmed that devotion in the hearts of his brethren.

Devotion to Mary Confirmed in Europe.
When Pope Innocent IV admits the Order to the West and adapts its Rule to fit the changed circumstances, he retains the name, Order of the Brothers of Our Lady, and confirms it officially. With the expansion of the Order in Europe this special devotion to Mary will be its beloved characteristic, a title of which the Brothers are proud and which they put forward time and time again when they have to defend their rights. Pope and Bishops, even in that first century, affix indulgences to the use of that name and moreover endeavor to grant to the Order a distinction by which it may more easily be recognised. In Northern Europe, we see this being done by the Bishop of Cologne in 1271.
The tradition of the first Generals was splendidly maintained by the man of divine election, St. Simon Stock, who figured so largely in the Order's removal to Europe. The Order has preserved two fine prayers of his which he is said to have recited many times each day. Our Order still recites them daily in imitation of the Saint. The first is the Ave stella Matutina; the second is the beautiful Flos Carmeli. This latter was his favourite prayer. He realised that devotion to Mary was a feature of highest value to the Order, that the title must render the Order loved by the people, and that if Our Lady should confirm the title by special privileges the future of the Order would be assured. The Pope had already favoured the Order, but their authority had not succeeded in breaking entirely the resistance the Order experienced when settling in Europe. However much the Saint appreciated the privileges of the Popes, having recourse again and again to the Holy See, he nevertheless appealed incessantly to the Holy Virgin with unswerving faith, convinced that she would not withhold her special help and protection from the Order which, with the Pope's approval, was called the Order of her Brothers and which tried to live in accordance with this title. Times were hard. We are told so not only in the life of St. Simon Stock, but also an account of William de Sanvico written at the end of the 13th century emphatically confirms this. Not only the local clergy, but even the bishops did not realise the necessity of a new Mendicant Order and did not see in what respects this Order was distinguished from the Orders already approved. The foundation of new monasteries in the various countries was everywhere attended with serious difficulties. Not only was the Order threatened from within by the loss of her vital, original power through the difficulty of attuning itself to new circumstances and through the increasing demands of the active life, but from the outside also there were enemies who had to be taken into account and whose resistance was not so easily broken, even though the Brothers presented commendations of the Pope and of Bishops and Prelates who were kindly disposed towards them.

To be continued...

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Friday, November 07, 2008

A new dawn, the Carmelite nuns and Bl John Soreth - by Bl Titus Brandsma O.Carm

The Benedictine Abbot, Trithemius, calls the Blessed John Soreth "a mirror of monastic life, an honour and glory for the Order of Mount Carmel, a reformer such as the future will seldom see, absolutely bound to God and the furthering of his order, in contemplation and prayer."

The Dominican, Magister Rolandus Briso, praises him at his election as General, 1451, as the most worthy priest of God's church, and father Brugman, a Franciscan, although loving his own Order, exclaimed: "Father Soreth firm leader, light and prop not only for his own Order but for all mendicants. O immortal God, how I wish the Order of Friars Minors had received from Thy bounty such a governor. How our affairs would prosper, how my beloved Order would grow and flourish."
Indeed, he was God's man for our Order in this difficult age, and above all things, elected to give life to so elevated an institution as the Order of Carmelite Sisters, St Teresa says that God always grants special grace to the founders of an Order. They have to give so much that unless they themselves have richness and affluence of spiritual goods, they cannot share with those whom they have to lead and support. Was there still another intention, besides that of letting a new group of soul partake in all the gracious privileges of the Order of Mount Carmel? I will have to answer this question in the negative and history confirms my statement. No, the object was not merely to swell the numbers, but to let thousands of women share in what thousands of men enjoyed in the Order.
It cannot be denied that through contact with the world the Order had lost much of its original fervour, in spite of having at its head a man who had no peer in his age and in spite of the fact that the order numbered among its ranks several hidden saints, whose holiness time has revealed and the Church confirmed. Portugal had a Blessed Nonius, the father of the royal house of Braganza, who became a lay brother in the Carmel of Lisbon. Italy had an Angelus Augustinus Mazzinghi, the chief instrument of the Italian reforms; a Blessed Bartholomaeus Fanti and a Blessed Baptista Mantuanus, chief actors in another North-Italian reformation of the Order; the blessed Avertanus and Romaeus, pious pilgrims dying on the way from home and revered as saints in Luca; Blessed Jacobinus, a lay brother, a miraculous example of obedience. But the list grow to an inordinate length if I called to mind the names of all those of this age whose memory is blessed for the sanctity of their lives.
We may say that on the one hand the sanctity of many of its members earned for the Order new graces and favours from God; on the other hand, that the institution of the Sisters was a free and entirely voluntary gift conferred by God on the Order. Blessed John Soreth put a high value on this insitution as the Sisters through their stricter contemplative life could supply in the Order what the Fathers, because of their growing activity in the world, not precisely forgot, but put more ot less into the background, in spite of the fact that it was a salient characteristic of the Order.
Not only was the Community increased by the access of new members, so essential to its being, but the mystical God-bound life received at once a great number of new aspirants to its delights. A large number of saintly women joined the Fathers to emphasize yet more the contemplative elelment in the Carmelite vocation. Yet we should not conclude that by this displacement the fathers left contemplation and its joys to the sisters entirely - the life of the Bl John Soreth himself shows the contrary. As before, the contemplation of the Law of God remained the chief aim of the Order, but there is no room for doubt that the increasing active life often left the fathers little time to devote to contemplation and the fullness of a mystic life and that it distracted them from the high ideal.
The institution of Carmelite Sisters as a second Order in an organization that from then onwards should contain both men and women gave the assurance that the first and highest aim of the order was henceforth to be worthily striven after. The Sisters were not only called upon to supply what the Fathers in the stress and trouble of pastoral duties in the world were likely to forget, but they are called upon to do even more. Their service was to strenghten and confirm the mystical character, to make it more brilliant than ever.
Being much stricter in their seclusion from the world, they could easily occupy themselves with more intensity with God and God accordingly rewarded their intercessory efforts. They were, so to speak, the crown and glory of the Order. They proved that the most blessed thing on this earth, the contemplation of God, was again Carmel's own. They were an untiring group of women who considered it their vocation to be a Mary in the solitude of their convent, a Mary who chose the better part, which should not be taken from her.

Thus, not only was a formidable shortcoming made good, a telling want filled, but there was a positive gain to be set down because the Order now again fulfilled its calling in the greater part of its members. It is best to try to see things in a positive light and the surety of the attainment of its set purpose, be it only a restricted number of its members, must be called an inestimable gain.

So we welcome the Carmelite Sisters of Geldern and of all convents that came after, with unmitigated joy. We see with our mind's eye the interminable procession of Sisters as so many soldiers, and succesful ones, for the ideal of our Order. Together we feel stronger and safer; with them we may go through the world sharing the same ideal. Generally, the Fathers are called upon to keep the memory of this ideal green in the souls and hearts of the Sisters; conversely, the example of the Sisters will stimulate the Fathers to a more complete striving after their mutual ideal. When Holy Scripture says that brother aided by brother is strong, like a fortified town, how strong is the Order, how strong the brothers, now that they see at their side, since the founding of Geldern, this numberless host of Sisters. It is as if the vision of the prophet Eliseus displays itself before my eyes, as if I see the Order surrounded and enclosed by a numberless armed host who banish the fear from my heart that the spirit of this world will one day drag them down.

To be continued..
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Fr Corapi summary on American Election and on Catholic pro-Obama voters

The American people have now made it abundantly clear who they want to lead them, and the policies and practices that this president-elect has represented for some time, they can now claim as their own.

Actions have consequences, and I am sure God has duly noted what our priorities are in the US of A. Economic matters would seem to take precedence over moral matters; money more important than life itself to most people (I guess they don’t consider almost 50,000,000 innocent children murdered by abortion part of life).
Now we shall see what the fruit of such a tree will be. I predict that we won’t have to wait long. In recent months we have seen “corrections” in the stock market, housing market, and banking industries. Now we’ll see if God orchestrates a “correction” in a country and a world that has demonstrated quite clearly that it prefers convenience and wealth to life itself.
Regardless of whatever happens next, remember there is still a God in Heaven and He loves you. He is infinitely merciful—and He is infinitely just as well.

From Jay: Latest News from UK: Surprise result as Labour candidate Lindsay Roy beat the SNP's representative in the Glenrothes by-election in Scotland. We, Catholic voters, should keep in mind the moral issue first - as Fr Corapi well pointed out all morally flawed ideas may become our own choice when we vote and elect candidate who supports them.

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Thursday, November 06, 2008

Bl Titus Brandsma on Bl John Soreth and Carmelite Nuns, practical advice on prayer, meditations and rules of spiritual life in pre-Teresian Carmel

Frances d’Amboise and Her House. Example of Observance.

The convent of Geldern (Spanish Netherlands at that time) did not long remain the only one. The foundation of many convents and religious houses in Belgium, in the Northern provinces of Holland and the Northern part of France followed after. A little later they sprang up in Italy and Spain as well.

A very favourable circumstance, such as Our Lord often allows to happen at the beginning of an Order, occurred in the north of France. It was the entrance into the Order of a saint who drew much attention to the new Order and made it known in wider circles. I refer to Frances d'Amboise, Duchess of Brittany, who scorned all earthly love after the early death of her husband, and completely dedicated herself to Our Lord.

God had intended the ways of Blessed John Soreth and Frances d'Amboise to cross and the two saintly souls at once understood each other. Notwithstanding all opposition, even of the royal house, Frances entered the Order and received the veil at the hands of John Soreth. Her example attracted many followers and soon the community where she had been received had grown so large that a second house had to be founded. This house, Les Couets, near Nantes, came under her direction only because the Pope commanded her under Obedience -- on no other account could she be moved to accept the leadership. Under her direction this place became known for its heroic virtue and God rewarded it by many a mystical experience. For long years it was looked upon as the prototype of Carmelite convents. Not only during her lifetime, but many years after, it maintained its splendid reputation. When in later times St. Teresa, contemplating a stricter observance of her Rule, as she writes in one of her books, thought of going to a convent in the North where the Rule was better observed and which flourished in an exceptional way, it is thought that she meant the convent of Nantes, set on this path of virtue by Blessed Frances d'Amboise.

Explanation of the Rule. Solitude in Interior and Exterior Cell
Blessed John Soreth, also wrote, as an aid to his attempts at reformation, an exposition of the Rule after its new mitigation in 1431. It is worthy of note that BI. John Soreth founded the Carmelite Nuns under this mitigated Rule and that the observance of this Rule brought the Sisters to the highest heights of mystical life and the greatest perfection. We can in some chapters see what was foremost in his mind when he founded the Carmelite Nuns. It strikes us at once that he is lavish in his praise of solitude and the high value in sanctifying the appointed cell. He makes a play on the Latin word, coelum , and points out how the fervent intercourse with God in the silent cell is found to life the mind to God. But he at once distinguishes between an internal and an external cell. The latter is the means of communing as much as possible with God; to know Him as present. Besides he indicates that the cell must be a positive good, not only to keep us tree from the world and its shortcomings, but above all to bring us nearer to God, to give us peace and quiet of heart and total surrender.

Threefold Subject of Meditation
This treatment of contemplation, to which the life in the cell must be primarily devoted, is especially noteworthy. He distinguishes a threefold meditation and calls special attention to all three forms. In the first place, he proposes the admiration of Nature, then the reading of the Sacred Scriptures and finally an introspection of our own lives. These three kinds of contemplation he does not regard as necessarily connected but rather as subjects deserving a separate treatment in various hours of meditation. Only now and then they will have to be retarded in their relation to each other.

Admiration for the wonderful works of God is the very first thing to which he calls our attention. If we call up these feelings of admiration, the question as to the secret designs of God, why He created all this, forces itself upon our minds and from this problem we shall deduct and understand the intention and the meaning of all creation.

Six Steps of Meditation on Holy Scripture and Books
The second form of meditation is reading the Sacred Scriptures and spiritual books. Here as well, he distinguishes various steps by which we can mount upwards: (1) Primarily we must read to get to know truth and to extend our knowledge of heavenly things. Love for this knowledge must urge us to take up Holy Writ and edifying books. (2) Not only must we read to know, we must let ourselves be caught by truth, we must invite it to work its influence upon our minds by mentally pondering the words. Only then will our reading be not a barren knowledge but a power to lift us up and support us. (3) Truth should not be something that only illumines our mind and satisfies our craving for knowledge; it should be a motive power lifting us above ourselves, not keeping us shut up in our own minds. (4) The fourth step is not to remain inactive, but to turn that which we have read over and over in our minds, to combine it with what has been read or heard before, that it may grow into a living whole, giving a certain direction to our acts. (5) After we have assimilated it, we must again make it the subject of our contemplation so as to find joy in the possession of truth. (8) This contemplation should vivify our love for God's laws, should deepen our sense of that same law and our sense of God's grace, so that we may be inclined to do those things that, though not obligatory, yet tend to God's honour and glory and which we ought to do if we truly love God. This love for the divine law and the glory of God will in the end bridle our passions and, ever freer and less hampered by our evil inclinations, we shall cleave to God and serve only Him.

Six Steps of Meditation on Ourselves
The third form of meditation, the inspection of our own life, also calls for a six-fold explanation. It has, to start with, always a double aspect, an inner and outer way of approach. We must keep our conscience spotless so that we always can account for our acts before God. Yet externally we must ever think of leading an exemplary life in the eyes of our neighbours. We have been placed here among our brethren by God to strive together toward the high ideals which He placed before our mind's eye but unless we guard jealously the purity of our conscience, we cannot gather merits internally.

The second point is a most perfect knowledge of ourselves. We must not only know what we are doing but we must also account for the motives which prompt our deeds, the inclinations to which we are subject when acting and try to find out where they are able to lead us. Secret inclinations are to be revealed before our own minds and above all the end to which they tend should be distinguished. This knowledge of ourselves, of our deepest being, though it is difficult, is absolutely necessary.

This will give, in the third place, a fixed direction to our life and show us the road along which we can most easily make progress. Our successes, as well as our defeats, should be subjects of medita-tion, so as to evolve at the end the most perfect schemes for success in the campaign of life What we intend to do should not be left to the inspiration of the moment but our whole life should be planned beforehand in such a way that we are sure of victory. Many people work and labour and achieve many things which perhaps appear meritorious in the sight of others, whereas they are not keen on searching out what is asked of them for their own welfare and improvement.

A fourth introspection makes us see over and over again what we have undertaken in choosing this life which we live by our vows and by the orders of our superiors. The obligatory acts should always have precedence over such deeds as we perform of our own free will. Naturally we should not restrict ourselves to meeting only the obligations; charity should urge us to go beyond this; but never should such free acts be undertaken at the cost of duty.

The fifth point is more or less a warning. It goes without saying that in those meditations which are the result of the review of our life we should neither undervalue ourselves so that we too easily despair of attaining our goal, nor overrate ourselves and attempt too much. There are hazards on both sides and we are to keep on the middle of the road.

Blessed John Soreth concludes with a sixth consideration which forces us to shut our eyes to everything except what the moment demands, so that we may not break off what we are doing under the pretext of doing some other good work.

Methodical Spiritual Life
From what I cited here from the exposition on the Rule, it is evident that BI. John Soreth had a very systematic way of practising virtue and using prayer; this is in perfect keeping with the time in which he lived and the school which he represented. The question has been raised whether St. Teresa in her wonderful writings about the Way of Perfection and the Interior Castle has not undergone in some degree the influence of the Dutch school of the Devotio Moderna which brings methodical prayer and systematic practice of virtue strongly to the fore in its Exercitia. I am inclined to see some influence but should like to look farther than the works of Thomas à Kempis, Zerboldt van Zutphen and Garcia de Cisneros and look to BI. John Soreth and the influence which he has had in the Order. His mysticism is doubtless very firmly bound up with that of the Devotio Moderna. He lays great stress on active holiness and the exercise of virtues and in this he proves himself a child of his time and of the country in which he laboured for the benefit of the Order. But in this case, the connection which is found between the demand for a more methodical mode of prayer and the school of St. Teresa is at the same time an indication that St. Teresa built on the foundations of John Soreth, on what he had stressed so particularly in his reformation and his institution of the Carmelite Sisters.

Position of Prayer in Life
He inserts a whole chapter to recommend both the practice of virtue as well as the preparation for prayer, followed by the practice of prayer. He speaks of a very slow and deliberate raising up of the building of our spiritual life and of the lasting influence of its foundations. He rejects the idea that the hours of prayer should be like oases in the desert of life but affirms strongly that prayer should be woven into our lives, grafted into it, so that our prayer is proof of our life and conversely our life proves the sincerity of our prayer. Before we begin to pray, we should first get into such a mental state as we should wish to be found in while praying. Therefore, the Rule says that we are first to contemplate the Laws of God and our own life in order to obtain the required state before beginning to pray. That which is to dominate our prayer should first be evoked by meditation. Speaking later about the spiritual armour, he reverts to this image. He points to David, who had to take off the armour which Saul had given him because he had not practised in it. That is the reason, he says, why our Rule demands a never-ending activity, both of body and soul. We must exercise all our faculties and in this con-nection he points out to us the two sublime examples which should be ever inthe mind of a perfect Carmelite; Our Lady and Elias the Prophet.

The Precious Pearl
Blessed John Soreth compares the practice of the Rule, in the section about the weekly chapter, with the precious pearl of the gospel which keeps its value in spite of its being despised by some. The wise merchant sells everything he possesses in order to buy the field in which the treasure is hidden. Then the treasure must be dug for. I should like to apply this image here, to explain how we are to draw ever farther back into ourselves to find Christ and live with Him. BI. John Soreth has made the Rule known to us like the pearl of the Gospels and has taught us to sell everything to obtain it, but at the same time he has taught us how to dig up the treasure by living a life of the greatest possible piety. Therefore, this life has to be aided, borne upward and nourished through a never flagging exercise of virtue. In the shining of these virtues the glory of the pearl will be set off.

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Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Commentary on American Presidential Election form the 'Remnant' Catholic Trad newspaper

Reflections on the Presidential Election from Ken at Hallowedground

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Tuesday, November 04, 2008

US Election Novena - 27 October to 4th November -click for link

"That kind is only driven out by prayer and fasting" (Mark 9:29)

This is the rest of the post

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Monday, November 03, 2008

Update from SPUC

It is suggested that a law which Senator Barack Obama would sign if elected president could lead to the closure of Catholic hospitals.
The Freedom of Choice Act would make abortion a right and Mr Michael Moses, the American Catholic bishops' lawyer, says it would not allow conscientious objection. Every medical facility would have to provide abortion, making it impossible for Catholic hospitals to function. Catholic Family News said clergy should warn people about this. [LifeNews, 2 November]

The Scottish government opposes a parliamentarian's proposal to bring in a law next year which would legalise assisted suicide. Ms Nicola Sturgeon MSP, health minister, says it would not be possible to have "sufficient safeguards" but she welcomes the debate begun by Ms Margo MacDonald, independent MSP for Lothians, who has Parkinson's disease. Ms MacDonald says it is inhumane not to have such a law. [Herald, 2 November] A disabled person has warned of eugenic activities resulting from the legalisation of assisted suicide. Dr Alison Morton-Cooper of Dumfries and Galloway says disabled people are "socially negated" and that their suffering could be alleviated if others tried to understand their difficulties. People's fears of becoming disabled played a part in support for such policies. She concludes: "However bad my disability gets, I want to be living when I die, and that depends on the rest of you being enlightened and prepared enough to take that on board." [Herald, 3 November]
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Sunday, November 02, 2008

American Presidential election - hopefully America will wake up on time!!

The eyes of the whole world are turned to America.

Could that be possible the nation will chose the most liberal, communist-like and pro-choice

person who appeared on political scene out of nowhere, the very presidential candidate with more than dubious citizenship who does care for America/Americans possibly less than he actually cares for the snow on his backyard that fell there last year winter? Is that possible???
If he is chosen this is what we can feel afterwards....

More Obama cartoons from Paul Nichols' Catholic Cartoons blog

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Commemoration of the faithful departed - All Souls Day, click for link

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