Thursday, January 1, 2015

J.M.J. "O Queen of Heaven and earth, O Mother of the Lord of the world, O Mary, creature most grand, most exalted, and most loving, it is true that many here on earth do not know or love You. But there are millions of Angels, millions of Saints in Heaven, who do love You and constantly sing Your praises. Even here on earth, how many souls there are who burn with love for You and go through life enamored of Your goodness! O most loving Mother, would that I could also love You! Oh, that I could always remember to serve You, to praise You, to honor You, and make You loved by everybody! You have attracted the love of God, Whom, by Your beauty, You have, so to speak, torn from the Bosom of His Eternal Father and drawn to earth, to become man and to be Your Son. Why can I, poor worm of the earth, not love You, too? Sweetest Mother, I, too, want to love You and love You very much. I want to do all in my power to make You loved by others. And so, O Mary, graciously grant that I may love You, and help me to do so. 

"I know that God looks with a benevolent eye on all who love You. Besides His own glory, God desires nothing more than Your glory, to see You honored and loved by all. From You, O Mary, I hope for every grace. You must obtain for me the forgiveness of all my sins and the gift of perseverance; You must assist me in the hour of my death; You must rescue me from Purgatory; and finally You must lead me to Heaven. Your lovers expect all this from You and are not disappointed. I also, who love You with so much affection, who love You above all other beings after God, I also expect the same." (Saint Alphonsus Mary Liguori [1696-1787])

Thanks to Missy for sharing this magnificent Prayer from Saint Alphonsus Mary.

Happy Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, Happy 48th World Day of Peace and Happy New Year Anno Domini 2015!

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

J.M.J. The last day of the Year of Our Lord 2014 calls forth from our hearts gratitude and praise, repentance and reparation.

As we anticipate the Year of Our Lord 2015, we ask God for all that we need and beg His gracious assistance.

May Our Blessed Lady, Saint Joseph and Saint Sylvester intercede for us before the Throne of the Lamb.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

J.M.J. Did you see any excerpts from the Homily of Pope Francis during the Midnight Mass?

"On this holy night, while we contemplate the Infant Jesus just born and placed in the manger, we are invited to reflect. How do we welcome the tenderness of God? Do I allow myself to be taken up by God, to be embraced by Him, or do I prevent Him from drawing close? “But I am searching for the Lord”--we could respond. Nevertheless, what is most important is not seeking Him, but rather allowing Him to seek me, find me and caress me with tenderness. The question put to us simply by the Infant’s presence is: do I allow God to love me?

"More so, do we have the courage to welcome with tenderness the difficulties and problems of those who are near to us, or do we prefer impersonal solutions, perhaps effective but devoid of the warmth of the Gospel? How much the world needs tenderness today! The patience of God, the closeness of God, the tenderness of God.

"The Christian response cannot be different from God’s response to our smallness. Life must be met with goodness, with meekness. When we realize that God is in love with our smallness, that He made Himself small in order to better encounter us, we cannot help but open our hearts to Him, and beseech Him: 'Lord, help me to be like You, give me the grace of tenderness in the most difficult circumstances of life, give me the grace of closeness in the face of every need, of meekness in every conflict'.

"Dear brothers and sisters, on this holy night we contemplate the Nativity scene: there 'the people who walked in darkness have seen a great light' (Is 9:1). People who were unassuming, people open to receiving the gift of God, were the ones who saw this light. This light was not seen, however, by the arrogant, the proud, by those who made laws according to their own personal measures, who were closed off to others. Let us look to the crib and pray, asking the Blessed Mother: 'O Mary, show us Jesus!'." 

Monday, December 29, 2014

J.M.J. This Fifth Day in the Octave of Christmas is also the Commemoration of Saint Thomas Becket, Bishop and Martyr.

One day, we will "pal around" with these Saints in Heaven. Come to think of it, we can pal around with them now--and we should!

Mary, Mother of the Word made flesh, pray for us.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

J.M.J. During Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation we chant or recite the Nicene Creed, in which we profess: "and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man."

Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary, who retained her virginity even while giving birth to Him!

The Church embraces Our Blessed Lady's "Perpetual Virginity." 

In 649, the Lateran Council under Pope Saint Martin I declared: "If anyone does not, in accord with the Holy Fathers, acknowledge the Holy, Ever-Virgin and Immaculate Mary as really and truly the Mother of God, inasmuch as she, in the fullness of time, and without seed conceived, by the Holy Spirit of God, Jesus the Word Himself, Who before all time was born of God the Father, and with integrity brought Him forth (incorruptibly bore Him), and after His Birth preserved her virginity inviolate, let him be condemned."

Mary, the Church insists, is the "Ever-Virgin": before, during and after the Birth of Jesus.

Before time began God decreed that the Mother of the Son would continue in her virginity. Therefore, Mary's virginal state was never altered even while giving birth to the Savior. The term "Virgin Birth" signifies Mary's virginity during the Birth. (Often, "Virgin Birth" is inaccurately used when discussing Jesus' conception in the womb of Mary by the Holy Spirit.)

What the Baby Jesus left His chaste Mother's womb, He did so miraculously without opening it or any part of her body. There were no lesions or ruptures. As light goes through a windowpane without shattering it, so the Messiah departed from Our Lady's body without changing her virginal state.

The Prophet Isaiah (7:14) prophesied thus: "The virgin shall conceive and bear a son and He shall be called Emmanuel." The woman who conceived virginally would bear virginally.

Several scholars understand Saint Luke 1:35 as relating to the Virgin Birth: "Hence He Who will be born holy ("in a holy way") will be called Son of God."

No Father of the Church argued against the Virgin Birth and certain ones from the first five centuries--Saints Ignatius of Antioch, Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Zeno of Verona, Ephrem, Ambrose, Jerome, Augustine and Peter Chrysologus--wrote favorably of it.

The Church's Teaching Authority ("Magisterium") has defended the Virgin Birth: the letter dated 392 Bishop Anysisus that scorned the notion "which holds that He (Jesus) could not be born of a virgin"; the 449 Tome to Flavian, Patriarch of Constantinople by Pope Saint Leo the Great, asserting that Mary "brought Him forth without the loss of virginity, even as the conceived Him without its loss"; the 553 Second Ecumenical Council of Constantinople, referring to the Madonna with the Greek aeiparthenos ("Ever-Virgin"); the 649 Lateran Council cited above; the 1555 Bull of Pope Paul IV, which rejected a Unitarian concept that Mary relinquished her virginity during Christ's Birth.

The November 21, 1964 Dogmatic Constitution on the Church (Lumen Gentium) of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council (1962-1965) emphasized that "Jesus, at His Birth, did not diminish His Mother's virginal integrity but sanctified it" (#57).

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (1992) stated: "The deepening of faith in the virginal motherhood led the Church to confess Mary's real and perpetual virginity even in the act of giving birth to the Son of God made man" (#499).

What may we conclude?

God the Father willed that His Son's Mother always remain a virgin. This unique facet of "virginity-maternity" calls attention to Christ's Divinity. Jesus is a Divine Person with two natures, one divine and the other human. He is the Second Person of the Most Blessed Trinity and shares the same essence as His Eternal Father and the Holy Spirit.

God chose Mary of Nazareth to become the Mother of Jesus, preserving her from Original Sin and then arranging that she would conceive virginally and retain her virginity while giving birth. It is no exaggeration to claim that Mary the Mother is Mary the Virgin. Clearly, Our Lady has no human equals because God established her as both Virgin and Mother.

(Adapted from a pamphlet published by the Queenship Publishing Company)

Saturday, December 27, 2014

J.M.J. Venite, Adoremus.

Another Christmas Day has dawned. We joyfully commemorate the salvific Birth of Jesus Christ, the Redeemer awaited throughout the long ages.

The sublime mystery of the Incarnation is our focus. The Second Person of the Most Blessed Trinity took flesh, thereby becoming man so that we would be reconciled to God.

The General Council of Chalcedon in 451 explained precisely what we recall especially each December 25th: " . . . our Lord Jesus Christ, the same perfect in divinity and perfect in humanity, the same truly God and truly man composed of rational soul and body, the same one in being (homoousios) with the Father as to the divinity and one in being with us as to the humanity, like unto us in all things but sin (Hebrews 4:15)."

In His Sacred Divinity, Jesus has existed from before the beginning of time; He is "the Begotten from the Father." In His Sacred Humanity, Jesus, at an exact moment in history, was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary; "in the latter days for us and our salvation" Jesus was born.

This astounding truth of our faith is captured succinctly in the Holy Name, Emmanuel. Jesus, the Son of God and the Son of Mary, is "God-with-us." He is our Redeemer and Savior, our Brother and Friend.

During the recitation of the Nicene Creed at any of the three Masses on Christmas Day, we genuflect at the words: "and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man." (If the Nicene Creed is chanted, we kneel.) By bending the knee, we symbolically illustrate how Jesus descended from the loving bosom of His Beloved Father through the powerful action of the Holy Spirit to heal us from the ongoing misery caused by the audacious transgression of our ancestors, Adam and Eve.

Jesus has come to us. He has pitched His tent among us and draws us to Himself. His precious invitation to go to Him is one that we must not forego; we must not dally in responding affirmatively. He knows what will make us happy and holy. Only by clinging to Him and His wise commands will we know genuine contentment.

We ourselves cannot satisfy the deepest longing of our souls for Everlasting Life. Jesus is the only Savior. Without Him, we will not enter Heaven.

Jesus' coming to us, if it is to have the fullest effect that He desires, must be met with our receptivity. Our souls must yield to the God Who has become man. Our surrender to the Messiah is particularly demonstrated by our daily prayer, frequent and worthy reception of the Sacraments and acts of charity and penance.

The Incarnation is one of the chief tenets of our Christian Faith. The more we understand it, the more we can permit it to have a profound and abiding significance in our lives.

Our Blessed Mother, Saint Joseph, and the shepherds and Magi who hurried to the rustic manger to behold the Prince of Peace were on to something. They knew that not just anyone occupied that humble bed of hay. The God-Man, the Incarnate Word (Logos) of the Father, had come to earth.

"Come, let us adore Him." 

Friday, December 26, 2014

J.M.J. Jesus Christ first came to our world more than 2,000 years ago. Each Christmas is a privileged opportunity to welcome Him once again into our hungry hearts. No matter how we behaved during 2014, we may benefit spiritually from this festive commemoration of His Birth if we only turn to Him, accept His abundant grace and be reconciled to Him.

The mere prospect of Jesus' arrival should do something positive deep within us. We should be excited to receive Him. And we must recognize how unworthy and unprepared we really are to embrace fully the Prince of Peace.

But despite our painful and real sinfulness, we pray that we may welcome Him with joy and enthusiasm, recognizing that the long-awaited Emmanuel--"God-with-us"--is in our midst.

Decades ago, G. A. Studdert-Kennedy wrote a poem that was later referred to by the Venerable Fulton J. Sheen in one of his many conferences that compared how Christ was treated on Golgotha with how He may be regarded if He came today to Birmingham, England. We can substitute our hometown--or any town--for Birmingham.

---   ---   ---   ---

When Jesus came to Golgotha, they nailed Him to a tree. 

They crowned Him with a crown of thorns, red were His wounds, and deep.
For those were crude and cruel days, and human flesh was cheap.

When Jesus came to Birmingham, they only passed Him by.

They would not hurt a hair of His, they only let Him die.
For men had grown more tender, they would not wish Him pain.
They only passed down the street, and left Him in the rain--the winter rains that drenched Him through and through.

And when all the crowds had left the street, Jesus crouched against a wall, and sighed for Calvary.

---   ---   ---   ---

Perhaps Our Blessed Lord would rather be rejected with gusto than be ignored. Let us do neither. Instead, let us immediately open our arms to Him and give Him the attention, love and obedience that He roundly deserves.

How will we welcome Jesus? Each of us must now decide.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on us.

Ever-Virgin Mary, Mother of the Redeemer, pray for us.

Saint Joseph, Foster-father of the Christ, pray for us.

Saint Stephen, Protomartyr, pray for us.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

J.M.J. "He humbled Himself, becoming obedient unto death, even to the death of the cross" (Philippians 3:8).

At a very tender age, many of us learned the sacred truth undergirding the solemn celebration of Christmas: the Second Person of the Most Blessed Trinity became incarnate--one of us--to save us from the terrifying sin and everlasting death ushered into our human condition by Original Sin.

The Eternal Son of the Father willingly took on our human flesh. He is Jesus Christ, the God-Man and our long-awaited Redeemer.

There was nothing for the Son to gain for Himself by becoming man. He was already perfect--and perfectly happy. But He obeyed His Beloved Father and came to earth to pull us out of the spiritual misery caused by the disastrous sin of Adam and Eve.

By being miraculously conceived in His Ever-Virgin Mother's chaste womb by the Holy Spirit, Jesus demonstrated His unbounded love for His Father and for us--His needy brothers and sisters.

The virtue of humility was clearly evident in all that Jesus said and did. He came to glorify His Father, not Himself. But in glorifying the Father, Jesus was glorified by His Father!

All disciples of Christ desperately require humility, that resplendent virtue which allows them to see: a.) themselves as the Lord sees them; and b.) their personal part to play in the Kingdom of God.

We must beg from God that authentic humility so that we may be pleasing to Him and more able to do whatever He desires of us.

Cardinal Raphael Merry del Val (1865-1930) was the Papal Secretary of State under Pope Saint Pius X (1903-1914). Born in London of Spanish lineage, this devout and learned priest recited the "Litany of Humility" after he offered the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

We may benefit greatly from this poignant prayer, which serves as a profound meditation on the splendor and necessity of humility.

O Jesus! meek and humble of Heart, hear me.
From the desire of being esteemed, deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being loved, deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being extolled, deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being honored, deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being praised, deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being preferred to others, deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being consulted, deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being approved, deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being humiliated, deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being despised, deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of suffering rebukes, deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being calumniated, deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being forgotten, deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being ridiculed, deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being wronged, deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being suspected, deliver me, Jesus.

That others may be loved more than I, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be esteemed more than I, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That in the opinion of the world, others may increase, and I may decrease, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be chosen and I set aside, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be praised and I unnoticed, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be preferred to me in everything, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

O Mary, my Mother, how greatly I love Thee! And yet, how little is my love! Thou teachest me all that is necessary for me to know, because Thou teachest me what Jesus is for me and what I ought to be for Jesus.

This Christmas, we ask the Prince of Peace to give us the inspiring humility that shone through in His remarkable life and in that of His undefiled Mother. May we be all for the Baby Jesus, knowing that we are--and have--nothing apart from Him. 

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

J.M.J. This is one of my favorite articles that I have published--and most of it doesn't come from me!

Please read on.

During this last day before Christmas, our hearts turn more than ever to Jesus and His Coming among us.

He is still present among His brothers and sisters two thousand years after His initial appearance. We know that Christ is with us in several ways: through His Word proclaimed, by the ministry of His priests, whenever two or more gather in His Sacred Name and in a most unique and exalted fashion in the Most Holy Eucharist.

These final Advent days afford us an excellent opportunity to reflect well on the Most Blessed Sacrament and to ask ourselves how we reverence the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of the God-Man, Jesus Christ.

Jesuit Father Segundo Llorente (1906-1989) was an outstanding missionary to the faithful of Alaska. A brilliant and humble priest, Father Llorente spent himself in the service of the indigenous of Alaska for decades.

Years ago, in a meditation entitled "Strange Things Happen on the Night of Christmas," this Spanish religious offered his thoughts on the adoration due the Most Holy Eucharist. This powerful essay, which was published in the February 1998 newsletter of the Catholic Society of Evangelists, seems more pertinent now than when it first was penned.

---   ---   ---   ---

"Strange Things Happen on the Night of Christmas"

"A priest told me what happened to him once in his first parish. 

"After the Midnight Mass on Christmas Day he personally locked the church. With the keys in his pocket he went to his room and had a good sleep. 

"At 7:30 in the morning he got up and went back to the church intending to have one hour of prayer all to himself. He opened the side door leading to the sacristy, turned on a light and then turned on the lights for the church. As he opened the sacristy door and walked into the church, he literally froze. Strange people clad in the poorest of clothes occupied most of the pews and all were in total silence. No one so much as wiggled and nobody cared to look at him. A small group was standing by the Nativity Scene contemplating the manger in total silence.

"The priest recovered quickly and in a loud voice asked them how they got in. Nobody answered. He walked closer to them and asked again. 'Who let you in?' A woman answered totally unconcerned: 'Strange things happen on the night of Christmas.' And back to total silence.

"The priest went to check the main door and found it locked just as he had left it. He was now determined to get the facts and turned his face to the pews; but they were empty. The people had vanished.

"He kept this puzzle to himself for some time. Unable to hold it in any longer, he told me just what I have told you. Could I help with any plausible explanation? Let me hurry to say that the priest in question is a model of sanity and is as well educated academically as most of the priests I know, if not better.

"My explanation was and still is as follows. Those were dead people who were doing their purgatory, or part of it, in the church. 

"It is safe to assume that we atone for our sins where we committed them. Those people were immersed in total silence. Why? Consider the irreverences committed before the Blessed Sacrament; how many people act out in church: chatting, giggling, and looking around. After Mass some people gather in small groups around the pews and turn the church into a market place with no regard for Christ's Real Presence in the tabernacle. Why did they vanish? They did not vanish. They simply became invisible; but they remained tied to their pews unable to utter one single word to atone for their disrespectful chatter while living.

"The Blessed Sacrament is no laughing matter. There is a price tag to all we do or say. In the end it is God Who gets the last laugh--so to speak. Those people had to give the Blessed Sacrament the adoration and respect that Christ deserves. For how long? Only God can answer that. Why did the priest see them? So he could pray for them and for all other Poor Souls detained in other churches. Why other priests do not see these people? Well, perhaps they already know in theory that souls can be detained in churches as well as anywhere else, so they do not need a miracle.

"Why were they clad in such poor clothes? To atone for their vanity while living. People often use clothes not so much to cover their nakedness but as a status symbol to impress others. But God is not impressed by, say, mink coats. Also people walk into church with hardly any clothes. In the summer months it is not unusual for people--mostly women--to go to receive Holy Communion in the most indecent clothing. The pastor may or may not put up with it; but God will have His day in court about this. Rags could be an appropriate punishment for these excesses."

---   ---   ---   ---

Absent an official declaration from the Church that the above episode recounted by Father Llorente is true, one may dismiss it. But the deeper meaning cannot be summarily rejected, namely, that the Sacred Heart of Emmanuel, Who comes to us, is really, truly and substantially present in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar and is to be "praised, adored and loved with grateful affection at every moment in all the tabernacles of the world, even until the end of time. Amen." 

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

J.M.J. “Our Lady's Son was born in a stable. Courage, then: Let us prepare a place for this holy Infant. Our Lady loves only places that are made low by humility, common by simplicity, but large by charity. She is willingly near the crib and at the foot of the cross.”

Saint Francis de Sales, Bishop and Doctor (1567-1622), as quoted in the electronic newsletter of The Central Association of the Miraculous Medal

Monday, December 22, 2014

J.M.J. I love this! From Mary in Doctrine (Dayton, Ohio: Marianist Publications, 1962) by the Reverend Emil Neubert, S.M., S.T.D., quoting Saint John Damascene (+749):

"It is a customary practice that the wealth of the parents pass to their children. But here, as was said by a wise man, the springs of the sacred waters flow toward the height: the Son, in fact, has submitted the entire creation to the dominion of His Mother." (page 7)

Mindless exaggeration? No. Unfortunate hyperbole. Again, no.

There is a reason that we call Our Lady "Queen." It isn't merely a pleasant title.

Jesus Christ has seen fit to adorn His Ever-Virgin Mother with power and dominion. She exercises both with humility and love.

Should you wish, during these late Advent days, to extend some charity in the Holy Name of the Babe of Bethlehem and of that of His Chaste Mother:

The Lamb Catholic Radio Network

The Bishop Dudley Hospitality House 

Sunday, December 21, 2014

J.M.J. The Fourth Sunday of Advent always signals that Christmas Day is very near.

As Advent passes, so does life. 

Are we ready for Christmas? Are we ready for eternity?

The Servant of God John Anthony Hardon (1914-2000), the great Jesuit theologian, during a conference entitled, "We Are Immortal" that was part of a retreat that he gave to the Handmaids of the Precious Blood, said: 

"How we need perspective. To see everything in this life from the viewpoint of eternity, how unimportant, how trifling the apparently big things in this life, especially the trials and hardships. ( . . . ) Saint Aloysius used to keep asking himself, pardon the Latin, Quid hoc ad Aeternitatem? What relation has this to do with eternity? Does it help me to live in immortal happiness? Then no matter how heavy the price, I’ll pay it. Oh, how many souls I’ve struggled with, how many priests, how many religious, how many husbands and wives. In God’s Name I plead with them: Don’t you see this is as nothing compared to the Heaven for which you’re made?"

We would do well to make Quid hoc ad Aeternitatem--"what does it mean for eternity"--our motto.

Queen of Heaven, pray for us. 

Saturday, December 20, 2014

J.M.J. One of my favorite passages from the Office of Readings in the Liturgy of the Hours is today's selection from a Homily entitled, "In Praise of the Virgin Mother" by Saint Bernard, Abbot (1090-1153).

"You have heard, O Virgin, that you will conceive and bear a son; you have heard that it will not be by man but by the Holy Spirit. The angel awaits an answer; it is time for him to return to God Who sent him. We too are waiting, O Lady, for your word of compassion; the sentence of condemnation weighs heavily upon us.

( . . . . )

"Answer quickly, O Virgin. Reply in haste to the angel, or rather through the angel to the Lord. Answer with a word, receive the Word of God. Speak your own word, conceive the divine Word. Breathe a passing word, embrace the eternal Word.

"Why do you delay, why are you afraid? Believe, give praise, and receive. Let humility be bold, let modesty be confident. This is no time for virginal simplicity to forget prudence. In this matter alone, O prudent Virgin, do not fear to be presumptuous. Though modest silence is pleasing, dutiful speech is now more necessary. Open your heart to faith, O blessed Virgin, your lips to praise, your womb to the Creator. ( . . . ). "

Of course, Saint Bernard was not really scolding Our Lady. His beautiful hyperbole calls our attention to just how holy is the Ever-Virgin. She, far beyond any other human person, wanted our reconciliation to God that was demanded by the tragedy of Original Sin.

Yes, Mary did consent to become the Mother of God. Her cooperation with the Lord would be in lifelong display, especially thirty-three years later on Calvary when she participated again in our reconciliation to God by offering her Divine Son to His Heavenly Father. This is what we call "Coredemption."

Friday, December 19, 2014

J.M.J. When the Second Person of the Most Blessed Trinity became man in the chaste womb of the Virgin Mary, which we call the Incarnation, Jesus Christ became a member of this human community as you and I are members.

Christmas is so special. Now we can rightly call God our Brother. 

Who else has God like our God, supreme in Heaven, supreme on earth?

Advent remains for us a time of preparation for the commemoration of His Birth. Yes, we have done so many times before in past years. But each Advent affords us a fresh opportunity to consider carefully just what happened when God became man--and now what our response must be to that mystery.

May Our Lady, who pondered in her Immaculate Heart what God was doing in and around her, pray that we may allow ourselves to be caught up in the love and mercy of God as never before.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

J.M.J. Only one week before Christmas Day . . . how will we spend these next few days?

How about 

"to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?" (Isaiah 58:6-7)

If we do that, then what can we expect?

"Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you, the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer; you shall cry, and He will say, 'Here I am.' If you take away from the midst of you the yoke, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness, if you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday. And the LORD will guide you continually, and satisfy your desire with good things, and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters fail not. And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called 'the repairer of the breach,' 'the restorer of streets' to dwell in. If you turn back your foot from the sabbath, from doing your pleasure on My holy day, and call the sabbath a delight and the holy day of the LORD honorable; if you honor it, not going your own ways, or seeking your own pleasure, or talking idly; then you shall take delight in the LORD, and I will make you ride upon the heights of the earth; I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken." (Isaiah 58:8-14)

Mary, Comforter of the afflicted, pray for us.


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

J.M.J. Is there any hope for me, what with all my sins? 

"But when the time had fully come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, 'Abba! Father!' So through God you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son then an heir." (The Letter of Saint Paul to the Galatians 4:4-7)

Daily, we beg God to forgive our sins. How delighted He must be when we ask Him for pardon with such sorrow and humility!

Today, we enter into the final period--the last week--of Advent. The "O Antiphons" are used as the Verse to the Alleluia during the Holy Mass and as the Antiphon to the Magnificat during Vespers.

O Mary, Mother of Divine Grace, pray for us.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

J.M.J. One of the essential aspects of Advent is the need that we have to be converted and return to Our Lord. The Chosen People, while awaiting the Messiah, prayed and performed penance for their sins.

This is a great time for us to go to Confession during Advent. If we have not yet, then today let us make the intention to receive the Sacrament of Penance before Christmas Day.

Mary, Mother of the Incarnate Word Who redeemed us and saves us from our sins, pray for us. 

Monday, December 15, 2014

J.M.J. Yesterday, on the Third Sunday of Advent, Pope Francis had distributed a booklet of prayers to those who joined him for the recitation of the Angelus in Saint Peter's Square.

In any other year, December 14th would be the Memorial of Saint John of the Cross, Priest and Doctor (1542-1591)--one of my favorites!

How can anyone tire of the extraordinary wisdom found in the writings of this extraordinary man?

Holy Mary, Cause of Our Joy, pray for us.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

J.M.J. In commenting upon today's Holy Gospel from Saint John (1:6-8, 19-28), Father Gabriel of Saint Mary Magdalen, O.C.D., in Divine Intimacy, wrote: 

"John, a man of faith, was telling the Jews with full conviction that Jesus had been living among them for thirty years and that they did not know Him because He had not yet manifested Himself by miracles." (Page 45)

On this the Third Sunday of Advent, we listen carefully to Father Gabriel's continued reflection.

"His words have value for us, too; Jesus is really present in our midst: present in our tabernacles by the Eucharist, present in our souls by grace. But who recognizes Him? Only those who believe. Revive, then, your faith; you will find Jesus, and will know Jesus according to the measure of your faith in Him. Sometimes He conceals Himself from you, and you think that you will never find Him, never feel Him again. This is the time to redouble your faith, to walk 'in pure faith.'" (Ibid.)

Our author concludes:

"But Mary did believe, and by her faith, God's words were accomplished in her. And so shall they be in you; you will see all your hopes fulfilled, you will be able to realize your ideal of intimate union with God--if you have faith in Him and in His promises." (Ibid.)  

Saturday, December 13, 2014

J.M.J. Our Lady, as always and especially each Saturday, and Saint Lucy, Virgin and Martyr (+circa 303), occupy our focus today.

A brief passage from The Catholic Encyclopedia (1913):

"Like so many of the early martyrs, Lucy had consecrated her virginity to God, and she hoped to devote all her worldly goods to the service of the poor. Her mother was not so single-minded, but an occasion offered itself when Lucy could carry out her generous resolutions. The fame of the virgin-martyr Agatha, who had been executed fifty-two years before in the Decian persecution, was attracting numerous visitors to her relics at Catania, not fifty miles from Syracuse, and many miracles had been wrought through her intercession. Eutychia was therefore persuaded to make a pilgrimage to Catania, in the hope of being cured of a hæmorrhage, from which she had been suffering for several years. There she was in fact cured, and Lucy, availing herself of the opportunity, persuaded her mother to allow her to distribute a great part of her riches among the poor.

"The largess stirred the greed of the unworthy youth to whom Lucy had been unwillingly betrothed, and he denounced her to Paschasius, the Governor of Sicily. It was in the year 303, during the fierce persecution of Diocletian. She was first of all condemned to suffer the shame of prostitution; but in the strength of God she stood immovable, so that they could not drag her away to the place of shame. Bundles of wood were then heaped about her and set on fire, and again God saved her. Finally, she met her death by the sword. But before she died she foretold the punishment of Paschasius and the speedy termination of the persecution, adding that Diocletian would reign no more, and Maximian would meet his end. So, strengthened with the Bread of Life, she won her crown of virginity and martyrdom."

Although little is known about the life of Saint Lucy, what is most important is known: she was faithful to the end.

O Mary, Virgin most faithful, pray for us. 

Saint Lucy, pray for us. 

Friday, December 12, 2014

J.M.J. Happy Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe!

Here is something that I authored ten years ago for Catholic Online (

"The alluring story of the apparitions of Our Blessed Lady to Juan Diego in 1531 is increasingly better well known throughout the world. Seemingly more and more persons are coming to realize that even though these noteworthy appearances occurred in North American, their deep significance is universal.

"The 'Guadalupe event' was quite straightforward: the Ever-Virgin Mother of God showed herself to an unlettered peasant and directed him to approach the local Bishop. Although wary of such a spectacular claim on the part of Juan, the Bishop believed when he saw the delightful roses (in December!) and the image of Our Blessed Mother on Juan's tilma.

"What has always intrigued this writer about Mary's appearances in Guadalupe is the long-term and profound effect that they had on the people nearby as well as on their behavior. In the ten years following the apparitions, an estimated nine million Aztec Indians were converted to the True Faith, and the abominable practice of child sacrifice to the pagan deity--which had been performed with horrifying regularity--abruptly ceased.

"Such a halt to this indescribable sin, however, was not unexpected. Why? Because Our Lady was involved! It was her firm gentleness that impressed those responsible for this abhorrent act. They soon realized that Mary would never countenance any sin against human life. Hence, they knew that they needed to make a break with this reprehensible tradition.

"Our Blessed Mother's visitation to Guadalupe teaches us about many things: the utter goodness of the Madonna in appearing to the human race (thanks to the mercy of our Creator), the heroic patience of Saint Juan Diego, the humble willingness of the Bishop to accept the divine sign. But let's not forget another important lesson: the strength of Mary's example and the power that comes from her heavenly intercession.

"The people in the area near Guadalupe were changed by the apparitions. These men and women, boys and girls came to know the unique person of Mary. They marveled at her--the loving Mother of Jesus. And very soon they accepted a vital truth: the Mother of the Messiah really does care how we act. It is not enough that we believe in her and venerate her as the Immaculate Virgin now assumed into Paradise. Our words and deeds must mirror our belief. We must permit the Virgin's example and prayers to convert us.

"In our difficult age, when it is easy--and even anticipated--to speak virtuously for the public eye but to act immorally, we desperately need a forceful corrective to this disturbing schizophrenia. The appearances of Our Lady of Guadalupe remind us that once we have heard the message of the Lord, we are, like the Aztecs, to put it into practice. It does not suffice to say 'yes' with out mouths but to remain resistance in our souls.

"As the Church--the Mystical Body of Christ on earth--commemorates once again the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, we beg for the divine grace that Mary distributed nearly five centuries ago: the courage to assent to what she asks of us and to live anew in Christ, thanks to the Holy Spirit for the glory of the Father."

Prayer to Our Lady of Guadalupe

(Pope John Paul II at Puebla, Mexico in January 1979)

O Immaculate Virgin Mother of the true God and Mother of the Church! You, who from this place revealed your clemency and your pity to all those who ask for your protection: hear the prayer that we address to you with filial trust, and present it to your Son Jesus, our sole Redeemer. Mother of Mercy, Teacher of hidden and silent sacrifice, to you, who come to meet us sinners, we dedicate on this day all our being and all our love. We also dedicate to you our life, our work, our joys, our infirmities, and our sorrows. Grant peace, justice and prosperity to our peoples; for we entrust to your care all that we have and all that we are, our Lady and Mother. We wish to be entirely yours and to walk with you along the way of complete faithfulness to Jesus Christ in His Church: hold us always with your loving hand. Virgin of Guadalupe, Mother of the Americas, we pray to you for all the bishops, that they may lead the faithful long paths of intense Christian life, of love and humble service of God and souls. Contemplate this immense harvest, and intercede with the Lord that He may instill a hunger for holiness in the whole People of God, and grant abundant vocations of priests and religious, strong in faith and zealous dispensers of God's mysteries. Grant to our homes the grace of loving and respecting life in its beginnings, with the same love with which you conceived in your womb the life of the Son of God. Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Fair Love, protect our families, so that they may always be united, and bless the upbringing of our children. Our hope, look upon us with compassion, teach us to go continually to Jesus and, if we fall, help us to rise again, to return to Him, by means of the confession of our faults and sins in the Sacrament of Penance, which gives peace to the soul. We beg you to grant us a great love for all the holy Sacraments, which are, as it were, the signs that your Son left on earth. Thus,. Most Holy Mother, with the peace of God in our conscience, with our hearts free from evil and hatred, we will be able to bring to all true joy and true peace, which comes to us from your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, Who with God the Father and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.

From Manual of Prayers, compiled by the Reverend James D. Watkins (Rome: Pontifical North American College, 1998).