Posted in MARTYRS, ON the SAINTS, PAPAL HOMILIES, SAINT of the DAY, St Pope JOHN PAUL, The HOLY CROSS

Thought for the Day – 23 July – Hail, O Cross, our only hope!

Thought for the Day – 23 July – The Memorial of Blessed Vasil’ Hopko (1904-1976) Bishop and Martyr

Excerpt from St Pope John Paul’s Beatification Homily
Bratislava, Esplanade of Petržalka
Sunday, 14 September 2003

“O Crux, ave spes unica!   Hail, O Cross, our only hope!”

On the Cross, human misery and divine mercy meet.   The adoration of this unlimited mercy, is for man, the only way to open himself to the mystery which the Cross reveals.

The Cross is planted in the earth and would seem to extend its roots in human malice but it reaches up, pointing as it were to the heavens, pointing to the goodness of God.   By means of the Cross of Christ, the Evil One has been defeated, death is overcome, life is given to us, hope is restored, light is imparted.   O Crux, ave spes unica!

O Crux, ave spes unica!   Saint Paul speaks of the same theme in the letter to the Ephesians which we have just heard.   Not only did Christ Jesus become man, in everything similar to human beings but He took on the condition of a servant and humbled Himself even more, by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross (cf. Phil 2:6-8).

Yes, “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son” (Jn 3:16).   We admire – overwhelmed and gratified – the breadth and length and height and depth of the love of Christ which surpasses all knowledge (cf. Eph 3:18-19)!   O Crux, ave spes unica!

4. Certainly, it was meditation on this great and wonderful mystery that sustained Blessed Bishop Vasil’ Hopko and Blessed Sister Zdenka Schelingová in their choice of the consecrated life and, especially, in the sufferings endured, during their terrible imprisonment.

Both shine before us as radiant examples of faithfulness, in times of harsh and ruthless religious persecution.   Bishop Vasil’ never repudiated his attachment to the Catholic Church and to the Pope.   Sister Zdenka did not hesitate to risk her life so as to assist God’s ministers.

Both faced up to an unjust trial and an ignoble condemnation, to torture, humiliation, solitude, death.   And so the Cross became for them, the way that led them to life, a source of fortitude and hope, a proof of love for God and man.   O Crux, ave spes unica!

Blessed Vasil’ Hopko, Pray for Us!BL VASIL HOPKO PRAY FOR US 23 JULY 2019.jpg

Posted in CHRIST, the WAY,TRUTH,LIFE, EASTER, Papa FRANCIS, PAPAL HOMILIES, The RESURRECTION, The WORD

Quote of the Day- 5 May – “…Become witnesses of His Resurrection”

Quote of the Day- 5 May – Third Sunday of Easter, Year C

“The Gospel of Easter is very clear –
we need to go back there, to see Jesus risen
and to become witnesses of His Resurrection.
This is not to go back in time, 
it is not a kind of nostalgia.
It is returning to our first love,
in order to receive the fire which Jesus
has kindled in the world
and to bring that fire to all people,
to the very ends of the earth.”

Pope Francis

(Easter Vigil Homily, 2014)pope-francis-easter-vigil.20 april 2017 and again 5 May 2019.jpg

“…He certainly meets us
where we are in life – and –
He will never leave us
where He found us!”

Fr Mark J Hunt STDhe certainly meets us where he found us - 5 may 2019.jpg

Posted in PAPAL HOMILIES, QUOTES of the SAINTS, SAINT of the DAY

Thought for the Day – 14 March – God’s Works

Thought for the Day – 14 March – the Memorial of Blessed Giacomo Cusmano (1834-1888)

St Pope John Paul on the Beatification of Blessed Giacomo, 30 October 1983

“To heal the wounds of poverty and misery which were afflicting such a large part of the population because of recurring famines and epidemics but also because of social inequality, (Blessed Giacomo Cusmano) chose the way of charity – love for God which was translated into effective love for his brethren and into the gift of himself to the most needy and suffering in a service pushed to the point of heroic sacrifice.

After opening a first “House for the Poor”, he began a broader work of social promotion by instituting the “Morsel for the Poor” Association, which was like the mustard seed from which a very vigorous plant sprung up.   Making himself poor with the poor, he did not disdain begging in the streets of Palermo, soliciting everyone’s charity and collecting food which he then distributed to the innumerable poor who gathered around him.

His work, like all of God’s works, encountered difficulties which severely tested his will but with immense confidence in God and with his indomitable will power, he overcame every obstacle, giving origin to the Institute of the “Sisters Servants of the Poor” and to the “Congregation of Missionary Servants of the Poor”.

He led his spiritual sons and daughters to the practice of charity in fidelity to the evangelical counsels and in striving for holiness.   His rules and spiritual letters are documents of an ascetic wisdom in which strength and gentleness are merged.   The central idea was this – “To live in the presence of God and in union with God, to receive everything from God’s hands, to do everything out of pure love and the glory of God.”

Blessed GIACOMO CUSMANO, PRAY for US!bl giacomo cusmano pray for us 14 march 2019.jpg

Posted in LENT 2019, LENTEN THOUGHTS, Papa FRANCIS, PAPAL HOMILIES

Lenten Thoughts – 8 March – “‘Return to me,’ says the Lord. ‘To me.’”

Lenten Thoughts – 8 March – “‘Return to me,’ says the Lord. ‘To me.’”

HOMILY OF HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS

Basilica of Santa Sabina
Ash Wednesday, 6 March 2019lent is the time to free ourselves - pope francis ash wed 6 march 2019 - 8 march 2019.jpg

“Blow the trumpet […] sanctify a fast” (Joel 2:15), says the prophet in the first reading. Lent opens with a piercing sound, that of a trumpet that does not please the ears but instead proclaims a fast.   It is a loud sound that seeks to slow down our life, which is so fast-paced, yet often directionless.   It is a summons to stop, to focus on what is essential, to fast from the unnecessary things that distract us.   It is a wake-up call for the soul.

This wake-up call is accompanied by the message that the Lord proclaims through the lips of the prophet, a short and heartfelt message:   “Return to me” (v 12).   To return. If we have to return, it means that we have wandered off.   Lent is the time to rediscover the direction of life.   Because in life’s journey, as in every journey, what really matters is not to lose sight of the goal.   If what interests us as we travel, however, is looking at the scenery or stopping to eat, we will not get far.   We should ask ourselves – On the journey of life, do I seek the way forward?   Or am I satisfied with living in the moment and thinking only of feeling good, solving some problems and having fun?   What is the path? Is it the search for health, which many today say comes first but which eventually passes?   Could it be possessions and wellbeing?   But we are not in the world for this. Return to me, says the Lord. To me.   The Lord is the goal of our journey in this world.   The direction must lead to Him.

Today we have been offered a sign that will help us find our direction – the head marked by ash.   It is a sign that causes us to consider what occupies our mind.   Our thoughts often focus on transient things, which come and go.   The small mark of ash, which we will receive, is a subtle yet real reminder that of the many things occupying our thoughts, that we chase after and worry about every day, nothing will remain.   No matter how hard we work, we will take no wealth with us from this life.   Earthly realities fade away like dust in the wind.   Possessions are temporary, power passes, success wanes.   The culture of appearance prevalent today, which persuades us to live for passing things, is a great deception.   It is like a blaze – once ended, only ash remains Lent is the time to free ourselves from the illusion of chasing after dust. Lent is for rediscovering that we are created for the inextinguishable flame, not for ashes that immediately disappear;  for God, not for the world;  for the eternity of heaven, not for earthly deceit, for the freedom of the children of God, not for slavery to things.   We should ask ourselves today – Where do I stand?   Do I live for fire or for ash?

On this Lenten journey, back to what is essential, the Gospel proposes three steps which the Lord invites us to undertake without hypocrisy and pretense – almsgiving, prayer, fasting.   What are they for?   Almsgiving, prayer and fasting bring us back to the three realities that do not fade away.   Prayer reunites us to God;  charity, to our neighbour; fasting, to ourselves.   God, my neighbour, my life – these are the realities that do not fade away and in which we must invest.   Lent, therefore, invites us to focus, first of all on the Almighty, in prayer, which frees us from that horizontal and mundane life where we find time for self but forget God.   It then invites us to focus on others, with the charity that frees us from the vanity of acquiring and of thinking that things are only good if they are good for me.   Finally, Lent invites us to look inside our heart, with fasting, which frees us from attachment to things and from the worldliness that numbs the heart.   Prayer, charity, fasting – three investments for a treasure that endures.

Jesus said: “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Mt 6:21).   Our heart always points in some direction, it is like a compass seeking its bearings.   We can also compare it to a magnet, it needs to attach itself to something.   But if it only attaches itself to earthly things, sooner or later it becomes a slave to them, things to be used become things we serve.   Outward appearance, money, career or hobby, if we live for them, they will become idols that enslave us, sirens that charm us and then cast us adrift.   Whereas if our heart is attached to what does not pass away, we rediscover ourselves and are set free.   Lent is a time of grace that liberates the heart from vanity.   It is a time of healing from addictions that seduce us.   It is a time to fix our gaze on what abides.lent is a time of grace - pope francis - friday after ash wed 8 march 2019.jpg

Where can we fix our gaze, then, throughout this Lenten journey?   Upon the Crucified One. Jesus on the cross is life’s compass, which directs us to heaven.   The poverty of the wood, the silence of the Lord, His loving self-emptying show us the necessity of a simpler life, free from anxiety about things.   From the cross, Jesus teaches us the great courage involved in renunciation. 

We will never move forward if we are heavily weighed down.  We need to free ourselves from the clutches of consumerism and the snares of selfishness, from always wanting more, from never being satisfied and from a heart closed to the needs of the poor.   Jesus on the wood of the cross burns with love and calls us to a life that is passionate for Him, which is not lost amid the ashes of the world, to a life that burns with charity and is not extinguished in mediocrity.

Is it difficult to live as He asks?   Yes but it leads us to our goal.   Lent shows us this. It begins with the ashes but eventually leads us to the fire of Easter night;  to the discovery that, in the tomb, the body of Jesus does not turn to ashes but rises gloriously.   This is true also for us, who are dust.   If we, with our weaknesses, return to the Lord, if we take the path of love, then we will embrace the life that never ends.   And we will be full of joy.

Posted in DOCTORS of the Church, PAPAL HOMILIES, Pope BENEDICT XVI, PRACTISING CATHOLIC, QUOTES of the SAINTS, SAINT of the DAY, The HOLY CROSS, The SIGN of the CROSS

Thought for the Day – 21 February – Peter, Servant of the Servants of the Cross of Christ

Thought for the Day – 21 February – the Memorial of St Peter Damian OSB (1007-1072) Doctor of the Church

Excerpt from Pope Benedict’s Catechesis on St Peter Damian
General Audience
Wednesday, 9 September 2009

One detail should be immediately emphasised – the Hermitage at Fonte Avellana was dedicated to the Holy Cross and the Cross was the Christian mystery that was to fascinate Peter Damian more than all the others.   “Those who do not love the Cross of Christ do not love Christ”, he said (Sermo XVIII, 11, p. 117) and he described himself as “Petrus crucis Christi servorum famulus Peter, servant of the servants of the Cross of Christ” (Ep, 9, 1).
Peter Damian addressed the most beautiful prayers to the Cross in which he reveals a vision of this mystery which has cosmic dimensions for it embraces the entire history of salvation: “O Blessed Cross”, he exclaimed, You are venerated, preached and honoured by the faith of the Patriarchs, the predictions of the Prophets, the senate that judges the Apostles, the victorious army of Martyrs and the throngs of all the Saints” (Sermo XLVII, 14, p. 304).
Dear Brothers and Sisters, may the example of St Peter Damian spur us too always to look to the Cross as to the supreme act God’s love for humankind of God, who has given us salvation.

St Peter Damian, who was essentially a man of prayer, meditation and contemplation, was also a fine theologian – his reflection on various doctrinal themes led him to important conclusions for life.   Thus, for example, he expresses with clarity and liveliness the Trinitarian doctrine, already using, under the guidance of biblical and patristic texts, the three fundamental terms which were subsequently to become crucial also for the philosophy of the West – processio, relatio and persona (cf. Opusc. XXXVIII: PL CXLV, 633-642; and Opusc. II and III: ibid., 41 ff. and 58 ff).
However, because theological analysis of the mystery led him to contemplate the intimate life of God and the dialogue of ineffable love, between the three divine Persons, he drew ascetic conclusions from them for community life and even for relations between Latin and Greek Christians, divided on this topic.   His meditation on the figure of Christ, is significantly reflected, in practical life, since the whole of Scripture is centred on Him.
The “Jews”, St Peter Damian notes, “through the pages of Sacred Scripture, bore Christ on their shoulders as it were” (Sermo XLVI, 15).   Therefore Christ, he adds, must be the centre of the monk’s life:  “May Christ be heard in our language, may Christ be seen in our life, may he be perceived in our hearts” (Sermo VIII, 5).   Intimate union with Christ engages not only monks but all the baptised.   Here we find a strong appeal for us too not to let ourselves be totally absorbed by the activities, problems and preoccupations of every day, forgetting that Jesus must truly be the centre of our life.

Communion with Christ creates among Christians a unity of love.   In Letter 28, which is a brilliant ecclesiological treatise, Peter Damian develops a profound theology of the Church as communion.   “Christ’s Church”, he writes, is united by the bond of charity to the point that just as she has many members so is she, mystically, entirely contained in a single member – in such a way that the whole universal Church is rightly called the one Bride of Christ in the singular, and each chosen soul, through the sacramental mystery, is considered fully Church”.   This is important – not only that the whole universal Church should be united but that the Church should be present in her totality in each one of us.   Thus the service of the individual becomes “an expression of universality” (Ep 28, 9-23).
However, the ideal image of “Holy Church” illustrated by Peter Damian does not correspond as he knew well to the reality of his time.   For this reason he did not fear to denounce the state of corruption that existed in the monasteries and among the clergy, because, above all, of the practice of the conferral by the lay authorities of ecclesiastical offices; -various Bishops and Abbots were behaving as the rulers of their subjects rather than as pastors of souls.   Their moral life frequently left much to be desired.   For this reason, in 1057 Peter Damian left his monastery with great reluctance and sorrow and accepted, if unwillingly, his appointment as Cardinal Bishop of Ostia.   So it was that he entered fully into collaboration with the Popes in the difficult task of Church reform.   He saw that to make his own contribution of helping in the work of the Church’s renewal contemplation did not suffice.   He thus relinquished the beauty of the hermitage and courageously undertook numerous journeys and missions.

Dear brothers and sisters, it is a great grace that the Lord should have raised up in the life of the Church a figure as exuberant, rich and complex as St Peter Damian.   Moreover, it is rare to find theological works and spirituality as keen and vibrant as those of the Hermitage at Fonte Avellana.

St Peter Damian was a monk through and through, with forms of austerity which to us today might even seem excessive.   Yet, in that way he made monastic life an eloquent testimony of God’s primacy and an appeal to all to walk towards holiness, free from any compromise with evil.   He spent himself, with lucid consistency and great severity, for the reform of the Church of his time.  He gave all his spiritual and physical energies to Christ and to the Church but always remained, as he liked to describe himself, Petrus ultimus monachorum servus, Peter, the lowliest servant of the monks.

St Peter Damian,

‘Peter, Servant of the Servants of the Cross of Christ’

Pray for the Church, Pray for Us All!st peter damian pray for us 21 feb 2019.jpg

Posted in Papa FRANCIS, PAPAL HOMILIES, PRACTISING CATHOLIC, QUOTES on CONSCIENCE, QUOTES on CONVERSION, QUOTES on ENVY, QUOTES on FORGIVENESS, QUOTES on GOSSIP, QUOTES on LOVE, QUOTES on PEACE, QUOTES on REPENTANCE, QUOTES on TEMPTATION, QUOTES on the CROSS of CHRIST, QUOTES on the DEVIL/EVIL, QUOTES on UNITY, SAINT of the DAY, The WORD

Thought for the Day – 18 February – “However, you killed at the beginning”

Thought for the Day – 18 February – Monday of the Sixth week in Ordinary Time, Year C, First Reading – Genesis 4:1-15

“Cain said to Abel his brother, “Let us go out to the field.”   And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him.   Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?”   He said, “I do not know;  am I my brother’s keeper?”   And the Lord said, “What have you done?   The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground.   And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand.   When you till the ground, it shall no longer yield to you its strength;  you shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth.” …Genesis 4:8-12

“Cain favoured instinct – he preferred to let this feeling stew inside him, festering and allowing it to grow. This sin, which he will later commit, which is couching behind the feeling, grows.

This, is how hostilities grow between you – they begin with something small – jealousy, envy and then this grows and I pull away from my brother, saying this person is not my brother, this one is an enemy, this one must be destroyed, driven away… and so people are destroyed -it is thus that animosity destroys families, populations, everything.   It is that eating away at you, that being constantly obsessed with that person.

No!… there is no brother.
It is just me;  there is no brotherhood – it is just me.
What happened at the beginning, can happen to all of us – it is a possibility. For this reason, it is a process which must be stopped immediately, at the beginning, at the first sign of bitterness.   It must be stopped, because bitterness is not Christian – pain, yes, bitterness no.
Indeed, resentment is not Christian – pain yes, resentment no.
Instead, how much hostility and how many cracks exist and it ends in a war that kills.

However, you killed at the beginning.   This is the process of blood and today the blood of many people in the world is crying to God from the ground.

And it is all connected – that blood has some connection, perhaps a small droplet of blood that I caused to ooze out with my envy and jealousy when I destroyed a brotherhood.”

Pope Francis – Santa Marta, 13 February 2017genesis 4 10 and the lord said what have you done - and it is all connected - pope francis 18 feb 2019.jpg

It is not enough to simply “follow the rules” and stay out of trouble.   If that is all we do then we are trying to achieve heaven by our own merits. God wants more from us than that.   God invites us into a relationship of friends and family, a relationship of love.   This type of relationship is a living, dynamic one.   To love Christ and to want to be near Him is to be crucified with Him.

It means standing up for the Truth even when it is unpopular.   It means finding time to pray.   It means that we stay faithful to the teachings of Jesus.   And it means that when we fail, we humbly confess our sins as we would apologise to a friend we have hurt, so that that relationship can be restored.   It means that we must reflect Christ to the whole world, so that when people look at us they do not see us, they see Christ.

But in the end that is what it means to live for Christ and not for ourselves, to love for Christ and not for ourselves, to give of ourselves for Christ!

Blessed Fra Angelico, you gave your all for Christ, please Pray for Us!bl fra angelico pray for us 18 feb 2019.jpg

Posted in Papa FRANCIS, PAPAL HOMILIES, SAINT of the DAY

Thought for the Day – 10 February – The Memorial of Blessed Aloysius Stepinac (1898–1960) Martyr

Thought for the Day – 10 February – The Memorial of Blessed Aloysius Stepinac (1898–1960) Martyr

Excerpt from the Beatification Homily of
THE HOLY FATHER AT MARIJA BISTRICA
FOR THE BEATIFICATION OF THE
VENERABLE SERVANT OF GOD
CARDINAL ALOJZIJE STEPINAC
3 October 1998

For all of us, a particular cause for comfort is today’s Beatification.   This solemn act takes place in the Croatian national shrine of Marija Bistrica on the first Saturday of the month of October.   Beneath the gaze of the Most Blessed Virgin, an illustrious son of this blessed land is raised to the glory of the altars, on the hundredth anniversary of his birth.   It is an historic moment in the life of the Church and of your nation.   The Cardinal Archbishop of Zagreb, one of the outstanding figures of the Catholic Church, having endured in his own body and his own spirit the atrocities of the Communist system, is now entrusted to the memory of his fellow countrymen with the radiant badge of martyrdom.

The Episcopate of your country asked that the Beatification of Cardinal Stepinac take place here, in the Shrine of Marija Bistrica.   I know from personal experience the significance that the Shrine of Jasna Gora had for the Polish people at the time of Communist rule, a Shrine closely linked to the pastoral ministry of the Servant of God Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski.   I am not surprised that this Shrine, or that of Solona which I shall visit tomorrow, have had a similar importance for you.   For some time I have wanted to visit the Shrine of Marija Bistrica.   And so I gladly accepted the proposal of the Croatian Episcopate and today celebrate the solemn beatification ceremony in this significant place.682px-Marija_Bistrica.jpg

“If anyone serves me, he must follow me” (Jn 12:26).   Blessed Alojzije Stepinac took the Good Shepherd as his sole Teacher, following His example to the end and offering his life for the flock entrusted to him at a particularly difficult period of history.

The person of the new Beatus sums up, so to speak, the whole tragedy which befell the Croatian people and Europe in the course of this century marked by the three great evils of fascism, national socialism and communism.   He is now in the joy of heaven, surrounded by all those who, like him, fought the good fight, purifying their faith in the crucible of suffering.   Today we look to him with trust and invoke his intercession.

Significant in this regard are the words spoken by the new Beatus in 1943, during the Second World War, when Europe was in the grip of unheard-of violence:   “What system does the Catholic Church support today, while the whole world is fighting for a new world order?   We, in condemning the injustices, all the killing of innocent people, the burning of peaceful villages, the destruction of the labour of the poor, … give this answer: the Church supports that system which is as old as the Ten Commandments of God.   We are for the system which is not written on impermanent tables but which has been written by the hand of the living God on the consciences of men” (Homilies, Addresses, Messages, Zagreb, 1996, 179-180).

“Father, glorify your name!” (Jn 12:28).   In his human and spiritual journey Blessed Alojzije Stepinac gave his people a sort of compass to serve as an orientation.   And these were its cardinal points – faith in God, respect for man, love towards all even to the offer of forgiveness and unity with the Church guided by the Successor of Peter.   He knew well that no bargains can be made with truth, because truth is not negotiable.   Thus he faced suffering rather than betray his conscience and not abide by the promise given to Christ and the Church.

In this courageous witness he was not alone.   He had at his side other courageous souls who, in order to preserve the unity of the Church and defend her freedom, agreed to pay with him a heavy price in imprisonment, mistreatment and even bloodshed  . To these generous souls – Bishops, priests, men and women religious and lay faithful – we offer today our admiration and gratitude.   Let us listen to their urgent call for forgiveness and reconciliation.   To forgive and to be reconciled, means to purify one’s memory of hatred, rancour, the desire for revenge, it means acknowledging as a brother even those who have wronged us, it means not being overcome by evil but overcoming evil with good (cf. Rom 12:21).
May you be blessed, “Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Father of mercies and God of all comfort” (2 Cor 1:3), for this new gift of your grace.

May you be blessed, Unbegotten Son of God and Saviour of the world, for your glorious Cross, which in the Archbishop of Zagreb, Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac, has won a splendid victory.

May you be blessed, Spirit of the Father and the Son, Paraclete Spirit, who continue to manifest your holiness among men and unceasingly carry on the work of salvation.

Triune God, today I wish to thank you for the strong faith of this your people, despite the many trials encountered through the centuries.   I wish to thank you for the countless martyrs and confessors, men and women in every age, who have arisen in this blessed land.

“Father, glorify your name!” (Jn 12:28).

Blessed be Jesus and Mary!

HIS HOLINESS JOHN PAUL II

Blessed Aloysius Stepinac, Pray for Us!blessed sloysius stepinac pray for us 10 feb 2019 .jpg