Years ago I saw a poster that said: “One person with a belief is equal in force to ninety0nine people who merely have an interest.” When we believe in our faith, rather than merely have an interest in it, we become a witness and a source of strength to others. You might be the only person in your office who refuses to curse and who won’t participate in things that aren’t right. You may be criticized. You may be shunned. But gradually some will begin to respect you and even in some cases imitate you because you are willing to be a sign. At any rate, your sacrifices will count for much in the spiritual warfare in which we are engaged.
Christ said, “I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Is the power of Satan stronger than the power of Christ? Not at all, so don’t be afraid. Be faithful in prayer for others and offer sacrifices for them.
Often, when I think of the redemptive nature of suffering, I recall the story of Jesus feeding the crowd of five thousand with the five loveaves and two fish that a boy in the crowd offered. Such a meager food supply seems unlikely to do much good. Yet Jesus in a real sense made Himself dependent on this boy who gave so generously; Jesus multiplied the food and fed that immense group. That is what He also does with our prayers and sufferings. They seem very little in the face of the needs of the world, yet joined to His own sufferings, they take on that redemptive quality. Jesus uses them to redeem the world. This is redemptive suffering.
Jesus needs our suffering to use in redeeming souls. We need our suffering so that we can share with Him in the co-redemptive mission. The world need it that none may be lost eternally from God’s love.
Fr. Andrew Apostoli, CFR
Walk Humbly With Your God
I had some unexpected space free up in my weekend, courtesy of a change in a church calendar, and my husband being away on a business trip. So I asked the Lord — what should I do with my time?
I think I was one of the last ones to sign up for the Catholic Apologetics Academy being held in Massachusetts. I was fortunate that there was a seat available, because the meeting room at St William Church in Tewksbury was full of 100+ eager students from around MA, New England, and some folks coming even farther distances!
From Thursday night, to two full days on Friday and Saturday, and Mass and a morning program on Sunday, all three gentlemen offered talks to help us learn to defend the faith better, and to do it all with love and gentleness and reverence for Christ and the other. (See 1 Peter 3: 15.) And they did it all — from offering lectures, to taking questions and tackling thorny problems — without an ounce of ego between them. What very calm, yet strong teachers. I’m grateful for their service and commitment to passing on their knowledge and conversational tips and etiquette to the rest of us.
I think Patrick said it best when he offered: “This is not about winning arguments, it is about winning souls… authenticity must accompany our apologetics.” That could be a billboard for New Evangelization 101.
Finally, adding a touch of class and aural beauty to our experience, was the unexpected gift of Anna Maria Mendeita, a world-class harpist, who sat in on the weekend talks — and sat behind a harp she borrowed from a generous local person. Anna Maria played at Masses, and accompanied our meals and wine and cheese gatherings. Magnificent!
Some photos courtesies of Catholic Apologetics Academy website.
I always love kid jokes. Clean, fun, silly. Here’s a neat website I found that specializes in clean jokes submitted by children.
Insert your own comic rim shot after each one.
Here’s a sample:
Q. How do you make seven an even number?
A. Take the s out!
Q. What dog can jump higher than a building?
A. Anydog, buildings can’t jump!
Q: What’s black and white and makes a lot of noise?
A: A zebra with a drumkit.
Q. How do you make a fruit punch?
A. Give it boxing lessons.
Q. Where can you find an ocean with no water?
A. On a map!
Q. What animal needs to wear a wig?
A. A bald eagle.
Q. Why did the Oreo go to the dentist?
A. Because he lost his filling.
This week on Among Women, in our first segment, we look at a miraculous conversion story taken from the life of St Catherine of Siena wrought through the power of prayer. In a similar vein, in our second segment, we meet a modern woman with her own story of transformation.
Life with Jesus Christ has the power to change every aspect of our lives. University of Miami Campus Minister Michelle Ducker candidly shares her life and work in this extended interview. Michelle’s story shows us that when we let Jesus do the heavy lifting, he’ll heal our hearts and minds and bring us joy, truth, and true beauty — the kind that shines from the inside out! Michelle reflects on several years of her life, including her walking away from a modeling career, dealing with illness, and wrestling with body and self-image issues. Today she shares what she has overcome in and through Christ, and how she walks with others so that they may experience friendship in Christ, and discover true beauty and love.
God, in giving us life, gives each of us a mission to accomplish and a role to fulfill in his eternal plan. The most important thing, then, is to recognize this particular mission, to discern the divine will in our life, and then to work to make of our entire life and death a means of salvation for ourselves and our brothers and sisters.
We are the good God’s humble workers, the laborers of the Father, and when night falls, we must be able to say confidently that the harvest is ready and that the living Sun may now cause the seeds we have sown to grow.
“Thus you will know them by their fruits.” (Mt 7: 16, 20)
God knows us in all our depths; he is aware of our least desire, the least impulse of our hearts, and the least movement of our will. But others see only what we show on the outside. That is why our actions and words and even our bearing must be the harmonious and truth expression of our interior depths. Others will judge our depths, or what is more important, God will judge them on the basis of the fruits he produces in us and the works he inspires us to do.
From today’s Office of Readings:
On the morning of the fourteenth of September a great crowd gathered at the Villa Sexti, in accordance with the order of the governor Galerius Maximus. That same day the governor commanded Bishop Cyprian to be brought before him for trial in the court of Sauciolum.
After Cyprian was brought in, the governor asked him: “Are you Thascius Cyprian?”
And the bishop replied: “Yes, I am.”
The governor Galerius Maximus said: “Have you posed as the pontiff of a sacrilegious group?”
The bishop answered: “I have,”
Then the governor said: “Our most venerable emperors have commanded you to perform the religious rites.”
Bishop Cyprian replied: “I will not do so.”
Galerius Maximus said: “Consider your position.”
Cyprian replied: “Follow your orders. In such a just cause there is no need for deliberation.”
Then Galerius Maximus, after consulting with his council, reluctantly issued the following judgment: “You have long lived with your sacrilegious convictions, and you have gathered about yourself many others in a vicious conspiracy. You have set yourself up as an enemy of the gods of Rome and our religious practices. The pious and venerable emperors, the Augusti, Valerian and Gallienus, and Valerian the most noble of Caesars, have been unable to draw you back to the observance of their holy ceremonies. You have been discovered as the author and leader of these heinous crimes, and will consequently be held forth as an example for all those who have follow you in your crime. By your blood the law shall be confirmed.”
Next he read the sentence from a tablet: “It is decided that Thascius Cyprian should die by the sword.”
Cyprian responded: “Thanks be to God!”
After the sentence was passed, a crowd of his fellow Christians said: “We should also be killed with him!”
There arose an uproar among the Christians, and a great mob followed after him. Cyprian was then brought out to the grounds of the Villa Sexti, where, taking off his outer cloak and kneeling on the ground, he fell before the Lord in prayer. He removed his dalmatic and gave it to the deacons, and then stood erect while waiting for the executioner. When the executioner arrived, Cyprian told his friends to give the man twenty-five gold pieces. Cloths and napkins were being spread out in front of him by the brethren. Then the blessed Cyprian covered his eyes with his own hands, but when he was unable to tie the ends of the linen himself, the priest Julian and the sub-deacon Julian fastened them for him.
In this way the blessed Cyprian suffered, and his body was laid out at a nearby place to satisfy the curiosity of the pagans. During the night Cyprian’s body was triumphantly borne away in a procession of Christians who, praying and bearing tapers and torches, carried the body to the cemetery of the governor Macrobius Candidianus which lies on the Mappalian Way near the fish ponds. Not many days later the governor Galerius Maximus died.
The most blessed martyr Cyprian suffered on the fourteenth of September under the emperors Valerian and Gallienus, in the reign of our true Lord Jesus Christ, to whom belong honor and glory for ever. Amen.
From the proconsular Acts of the martyrdom of Saint Cyprian, bishop
(Acta, 3-6: CSEL 3, 112-114)
St Cyprian, and St Cornelius, pray for us!!
The number of persons dying for the Christian faith in the last hundred years is staggering, so said this report from 2002.
In two millennia of Christian history, about 70 million faithful have given their lives for the faith, and of these, 45.5 million — fully 65% — were in the last century, according to “The New Persecuted” (“I Nuovi Perseguitati”).
12 years later, we are seeing an increase in persecutions. Just last year, John L. Allen, Jr. wrote a book, A Global War on Christians, in which he said, this “global war on Christians is in many ways the greatest story never told about the 21st century.” His report, it seems to me now, to be prophetic.
Two months ago, Pope Francis talked about the recent persecutions, especially in the Middle East.
“Today – [Pope Francis said] – we look upon the Church of Rome that grows, fed by the blood of martyrs. So it is right – he continued – that our thoughts turn to the many martyrs of today, the many martyrs who give their lives for faith. It is true that during the times of Nero many Christians were persecuted, and today – he said – there are just as many.”
“There are many martyrs today, in the Church, many persecuted Christians. Think of the Middle East where Christians must flee persecution, where Christians are killed. Even those Christians who are forced away in an ‘elegant’ way, with ‘white gloves’: that too is persecution. There are more witnesses, more martyrs in the Church today than there were in the first centuries. So during this Mass, remembering our glorious ancestors, let us think also to our brothers who are persecuted, who suffer and who, with their blood are nurturing the seed of so many little Churches that are born. Let us pray for them and for us”.
In the days since then, we’ve seen an escalation of epic proportions. There are calls for prayers, and for help for the victims and refugees who have had to flee persecution.
“It has shocked the conscience of the world that people are systematically being purged from the region where their families have lived for millennia simply for their faith. It is imperative that we stand in solidarity with them in defense of the freedom of religion and conscience, and provide them with whatever relief we can.”
Carl Anderson, Supreme Knight, Knights of Columbus
The Order of the Knight of Columbus has a long history of providing humanitarian relief and has long supported persecuted Christians. You can donate here.
Catholic Relief Services continues to provide help too, donate here.
Nothing, then, must keep us back, nothing separate us from him, nothing come between us and him.
At all times and seasons, in every country and place, every day and all day, we must have a true and humble faith, and keep him in our hearts, where we must love, honor, adore, serve, praise and bless, glorify and acclaim, magnify and thank, the most supreme and eternal God, Three in one, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Creator of all, and Saviour of those who believe in him, hope in him, and who love him; without beginning and without end, he is unchangeable, invisible, indescribable and ineffable, incomprehensible, unfathomable, blessed and worthy of all praise.
-St Francis of Assisi-
Rule of 1221, Ch. XXIII*
I’ve had a few days to relax and retreat (and yes, work) while at Chiara Center in Springfield, IL. It’s a lovely place, and the Sisters are very hospitable and this is a very modern facility. I love the Franciscan heritage and the profoundly beautiful St Francis of Assisi church on the property. (Read all about it, with photos. in this PDF.)
My prayer times have been very special. And, well, my Catholic geeky side has been enthralled, much like when I’ve been at other cathedrals, basilicas, or shrines. Thought you’d like to share in the fun.
Of course the oldest things in here, beside the dirt the church is built on, are the relics. Let’s start with the church’s patron, St Francis.
There’s wonderful marbles and stained glass and art all through the church.
All photos taken by me, Pat Gohn, with my trusty iPhone 4s.
I’m praying today. I’m remembering. I’m committing this nation in prayer to our Blessed Mother, the Patroness of the Americas. Let us pray for America’s leaders that they might have renewed resolve to fight terror threats and fight for the dignity of human persons everywhere.
“Terror attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot shake the foundation of America. These acts shatter steel but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve.”
- President George W. Bush-
“The moment to spend with a husband who loves me, or a sick friend, or a delicious new grandchild is here and now. Not some time later …. The nation learned this lesson all at once that horrible day in September 2001. The pictures stay with us — the fires and falling debris, and, most hauntingly, the faces. Look how young so many of them were, people who thought there would be much more time, a lot of ‘later’ when they could do all the things they really wanted to do. I grieve for their families — especially for those, like me, who haven’t found any trace of the people they loved. But I grieve even more for the people who died that day. They couldn’t know what we know now about the precious gift of time.”
- Cokie Roberts- contributing senior news analyst for NPR News-
Sept. 11, 2001, stands as the defining event of the 21st century. For me, 9/11 remains puzzling. It was the worst day of my life and the best day. It was the worst day because of the incomprehensible death, destruction and evil. Very soon after the attacks, we began to understand the threat posed by Islamic extremist terrorism.
Sept. 11 was also the best day because it put on display the very finest human instincts — compassion, courage, kindness, selflessness. First responders rushed into what they knew was a life-threatening emergency. Neighbors helped neighbors, and aid poured from good people all over the country and the world.
When people endure a traumatic event, they are either defeated or made stronger. On Sept. 11, I told New Yorkers, “I want you to emerge stronger from this.” My words were partially a hope and partially an observation that people in New York City handle big things better than little things. I could not be more proud of the way my city responded.
- Rudi Giuliani, former NYC mayor-