May Our Country's Patroness Take Care of Us: Thursday, October 1, 2015

J.M.J. We thank God for today's Saint, the Little Flower, and for Pope Francis! For your reflection, courtesy of the Website of the Holy See (

Philadelphia International Airport
Sunday, 27 September 2015

Dear Friends,

My days with you have been brief. But they have been days of great grace for me and, I pray, for you too. Please know that as I prepare to leave, I do so with a heart full of gratitude and hope.

I am grateful to all of you and to the many others who worked so hard to make my visit possible and to prepare for the World Meeting of Families. In a particular way I thank the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, the civil authorities, the organizers, and all the many volunteers and benefactors who assisted in ways large and small.

I also thank the families who shared their witness during the Meeting. It is not so easy to speak openly of one’s life journey! But their honesty and humility before the Lord and each of us showed the beauty of family life in all its richness and diversity. I pray that our days of prayer and reflection on the importance of the family for a healthy society will inspire families to continue to strive for holiness and to see the Church as their constant companion, whatever the challenges they may face.

At the end of my visit, I would also like to thank all those who prepared for my stay in the Archdioceses of Washington and New York. It was particularly moving for me to canonize Saint Junípero Serra, who reminds us all of our call to be missionary disciples, and I was also very moved to stand with my brothers and sisters of other religions at Ground Zero, that place which speaks so powerfully of the mystery of evil. Yet we know with certainty that evil never has the last word, and that, in God’s merciful plan, love and peace triumph over all.

Mr. Vice-President, I ask you to renew my gratitude to President Obama and to the Members of Congress, together with the assurance of my prayers for the American people. This land has been blessed with tremendous gifts and opportunities. I pray that you may all be good and generous stewards of the human and material resources entrusted to you.

I thank the Lord that I was able to witness the faith of God’s people in this country, as manifested in our moments of prayer together and evidenced in so many works of charity. Jesus says in the Scriptures: “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me”. Your care for me and your generous welcome are a sign of your love for Jesus and your faithfulness to Him. So too is your care for the poor, the sick, the homeless and the immigrant, your defense of life at every stage, and your concern for family life. In all of this, you recognize that Jesus is in your midst and that your care for one another is care for Jesus Himself.

As I leave, I ask all of you, especially the volunteers and benefactors who assisted with the World Meeting of Families: do not let your enthusiasm for Jesus, His Church, our families, and the broader family of society run dry. May our days together bear fruit that will last, generosity and care for others that will endure! Just as we have received so much from God--gifts freely given us, and not of our own making--so let us freely give to others in return.

Dear friends, I embrace all of you in the Lord and I entrust you to the maternal care of Mary Immaculate, Patroness of the United States. I will pray for you and your families, and I ask you, please, to pray for me. May God bless you all. God bless America! 

A True Son of Mary: Wednesday, September 30, 2015

J.M.J. Here is the Homily of Pope Francis during Sunday's Mass in Philadelphia, courtesy of the Website of the Holy See (

B. Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia
Sunday, 27 September 2015

Today the word of God surprises us with powerful and thought-provoking images. Images which challenge us, but also stir our enthusiasm.

In the first reading, Joshua tells Moses that two members of the people are prophesying, speaking God’s word, without a mandate. In the Gospel, John tells Jesus that the disciples had stopped someone from casting out evil spirits in the Name of Jesus. Here is the surprise: Moses and Jesus both rebuke those closest to them for being so narrow! Would that all could be prophets of God’s word! Would that everyone could work miracles in the Lord’s Name!

Jesus encountered hostility from people who did not accept what He said and did. For them, His openness to the honest and sincere faith of many men and women who were not part of God’s chosen people seemed intolerable. The disciples, for their part, acted in good faith. But the temptation to be scandalized by the freedom of God, Who sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous alike (Mt 5:45), bypassing bureaucracy, officialdom and inner circles, threatens the authenticity of faith. Hence it must be vigorously rejected.

Once we realize this, we can understand why Jesus’ words about causing “scandal” are so harsh. For Jesus, the truly “intolerable” scandal is everything that breaks down and destroys our trust in the working of the Spirit!

Our Father will not be outdone in generosity and He continues to scatter seeds. He scatters the seeds of His presence in our world, for “love consists in this, not that we have loved God but that He loved us” first (1 Jn 4:10). That love gives us the profound certainty that we are sought by God; He waits for us. It is this confidence which makes disciples encourage, support and nurture the good things happening all around them. God wants all His children to take part in the feast of the Gospel. Jesus says, “Do not hold back anything that is good, instead help it to grow!” To raise doubts about the working of the Spirit, to give the impression that it cannot take place in those who are not “part of our group”, who are not “like us”, is a dangerous temptation. Not only does it block conversion to the faith; it is a perversion of faith!

Faith opens a “window” to the presence and working of the Spirit. It shows us that, like happiness, holiness is always tied to little gestures. “Whoever gives you a cup of water in My Name will not go unrewarded”, says Jesus (cf. Mk 9:41). These little gestures are those we learn at home, in the family; they get lost amid all the other things we do, yet they do make each day different. They are the quiet things done by mothers and grandmothers, by fathers and grandfathers, by children, by brothers and sisters. They are little signs of tenderness, affection and compassion. Like the warm supper we look forward to at night, the early lunch awaiting someone who gets up early to go to work. Homely gestures. Like a blessing before we go to bed, or a hug after we return from a hard day’s work. Love is shown by little things, by attention to small daily signs which make us feel at home. Faith grows when it is lived and shaped by love. That is why our families, our homes, are true domestic churches. They are the right place for faith to become life, and life to grow in faith.

Jesus tells us not to hold back these little miracles. Instead, He wants us to encourage them, to spread them. He asks us to go through life, our everyday life, encouraging all these little signs of love as signs of His own living and active presence in our world.

So we might ask ourselves, today, here, at the conclusion of this meeting: How are we trying to live this way in our homes, in our societies? What kind of world do we want to leave to our children (cf. Laudato Si’, 160)? We cannot answer these questions alone, by ourselves. It is the Spirit Who challenges us to respond as part of the great human family. Our common house can no longer tolerate sterile divisions. The urgent challenge of protecting our home includes the effort to bring the entire human family together in the pursuit of a sustainable and integral development, for we know that things can change (cf. ibid., 13). May our children find in us models and incentives to communion, not division! May our children find in us men and women capable of joining others in bringing to full flower all the good seeds which the Father has sown!

Pointedly, yet affectionately, Jesus tells us: “If you, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” (Lk 11:13). How much wisdom there is in these few words! It is true that, as far as goodness and purity of heart are concerned, we human beings don’t have much to show! But Jesus knows that, where children are concerned, we are capable of boundless generosity. So He reassures us: if only we have faith, the Father will give us His Spirit.

We Christians, the Lord’s disciples, ask the families of the world to help us! How many of us are here at this celebration! This is itself something prophetic, a kind of miracle in today’s world, which is tired of inventing new divisions, new hurts, new disasters. Would that we could all be prophets! Would that all of us could be open to miracles of love to benefit our own families and all the families of the world, and thus overcome the scandal of a narrow, petty love, closed in on itself, impatient of others! I leave you with a question for each of you to answer – because I said the word “impatient”: at home do we shout at one another or do we speak with love and tenderness? This is a good way of measuring our love.

And how beautiful it would be if everywhere, even beyond our borders, we could appreciate and encourage this prophecy and this miracle! We renew our faith in the Word of the Lord which invites faithful families to this openness. It invites all those who want to share the prophecy of the covenant of man and woman, which generates life and reveals God! May the Lord help us to be sharers in the prophecy of peace, of tenderness and affection in the family. May His word help us to share in the prophetic sign of watching over our children and our grandparents with tenderness, with patience and with love.

Anyone who wants to bring into this world a family which teaches children to be excited by every gesture aimed at overcoming evil – a family which shows that the Spirit is alive and at work – will encounter our gratitude and our appreciation. Whatever the family, people, religion or region to which they belong!

May God grant that all of us may be prophets of the joy of the Gospel, the Gospel of the family and family love, as disciples of the Lord. May He grant us the grace to be worthy of that purity of heart which is not scandalized by the Gospel! Amen.

How Do We Welcome Mary's Son?: Monday, September 21, 2015

J.M.J. Here is a homily for the Twenty-fifth Sunday (Year B).

How could Jesus have known what His disciples were arguing about on the way to Capernaum? When Christ asked His Disciples, they were silent.

But Jesus knew.

Jesus is God. He is the Second Person of the Most Blessed Trinity Who became man for us when He was born of the Virgin Mary.

Jesus knows what we are thinking. He knows our hopes and fears even if we don’t speak about them.

It is a good thing that Jesus knew what His disciples were arguing about because then He could put them straight.

The passage that we just heard from the Holy Gospel according to St. Mark is a treasure for us. In it, we are advised to become humble.

The virtue of humility allows us to know how we stand before God. We are weak; He is strong. He knows everything; we know very little. He can do everything; we have serious limitations.

Humility gives us the right perspective. With it, we comprehend. Without it, we are deluded.

Jesus told us that we must welcome a child. For married couples, that means always being receptive to conception. For priests, it means teaching and forming children in the way of Christ and His Church. For all of us, it means recognizing the gift of God present in children.

Our hearts broke when we learned about the sale of infant body parts by Planned Parenthood and the tragic murder of a tiny girl in Massachusetts whose name we now know: “Bella.” Bella is Italian for “beautiful.” This child—and all children—are beautiful even when they are hungry or cry or disobey or are disrespectful.

Our Lord was very clear: “Whoever receives one child such as this in My Name, receives Me; and whoever receives Me, receives not Me but the One Who sent Me.”

If we want to go to Jesus, then receive a child in His Name.

If we want to go to the Father, then receive Jesus in the Father’s Name.

There is a terrible war within us, as Saint James mentioned in our Second Reading. Where do the wars and where do the conflicts among you come from? Is it not from your passions that make war within your members? 

To win this war, we must turn to Jesus. We must pray daily, go to Confession often, attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation and ask Our Lady to help us. The war is too fierce for us alone. We need the strength of the Holy Spirit.

We hope that God will never say to us what Saint James said to his listeners: “You ask but do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.”

Instead let us strive to hear: “`Come, O blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”

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Due to the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, this will be the last post until Wednesday, September 30th.

May Mary Help Us to See Our True Destiny: Sunday, September 20, 2015

J.M.J. "19. Our thoughts turn to all the lands of this earth. We see all mankind striving for a better future; We see the awakening of a mysterious force, and this permits Us to hope that men will be drawn by a right conscience and a sense of duty to advance the real interests of human society. That this goal may be realized in the fullest sense--that is, with the triumph of the kingdom of truth, justice, peace, and charity--We exhort all Our children in Christ to be 'of one heart and one soul'' and to pour out ardent prayers in October to our Queen in heaven and our loving Mother, reflecting upon the words of the Apostle: 'In all things we suffer tribulation, but we are not distressed; we are sore pressed, but we are not destitute; we endure persecution, but we are not forsaken; we are cast down, but we do not perish; always bearing about in our body the dying of Jesus, so that the life also of Jesus may be made manifest in our bodily frame.'"

--Saint John XXIII, Encyclical Grata Recordatio (September 26, 1959).

Invoking the Refuge of Christians: Saturday, September 19, 2015

J.M.J. "10. And now it is a pleasure also to recall that this same Predecessor of Ours (Pope Pius XII) urged all the faithful to pious recitation of the Rosary during October in the Encyclical Ingruentium malorum. We would like to repeat one admonition from that Encyclical: 'Turn in spirit with ever greater confidence to the Virgin Mother of God, the constant refuge of Christians in adversity, since she 'has been made a source of salvation for the human race'.'"

--Saint John XXIII, Encyclical Grata Recordatio (September 26, 1959).

A Venerable Marian Prayer and a New Pope: Friday, September 18, 2015

J.M.J. "3. These pleasant memories of Our younger days have not faded or vanished as the years of Our life have passed. On the contrary, We want to declare in complete frankness and simplicity that the years have made Mary's Rosary all the dearer to Us. We never fail to recite it each day in its entirety and We intend to recite it with particular devotion during the coming month.

"4. During Our first year as pope--a year which is almost over--We have several times had occasion to urge the clergy and laity to public and private prayer. But today We make this same request with even greater emphasis and earnestness, for reasons which this Encyclical will set out very briefly."

--Saint John XXIII, Encyclical Grata Recordatio (September 26, 1959).

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In your charity, please pray for the recently deceased Mother of the Very Reverend Scott Traynor.

Acknowledging Our Lady's Unique Position: Thursday, September 17, 2015



The Christian people have never ceased to invoke and experience the Blessed Virgin Mary's assistance, and therefore they have, at all times, venerated her with ever growing devotion.

2. And so, because love when it is true and deeply felt tends of its own nature to manifest itself through ever renewed demonstrations, the faithful have vied with one another all through the centuries in expressing at all times their ardent piety toward the Queen of Heaven. In our opinion, this is the reason why, for a long time past, numerous petitions (those received from 1849 to 1940 have been gathered in two volumes which, accompanied with suitable comments, have been recently printed), from cardinals, patriarchs, archbishops, bishops, priests, religious of both sexes, associations, universities and innumerable private persons have reached the Holy See, all begging that the bodily Assumption into heaven of the Blessed Virgin should be defined and proclaimed as a dogma of faith. And certainly no one is unaware of the fact that this was fervently requested by almost two hundred fathers in the Vatican Council.

3. But We, who are charged with the care of defending and developing the Kingdom of Christ, have at the same time to exercise continual care and vigilance to keep away everything adverse to this Kingdom, and to support whatsoever may promote it. Therefore, from the beginning of Our Pontificate, we had to examine most carefully whether it would be lawful, convenient and useful to support with Our authority the above mentioned petitions. We have not neglected and do not at present neglect to offer insistent prays to God that He might clearly manifest the will of His ever-adorable goodness in this instance.

4. In order that We may receive the gift of heavenly light, do you, Venerable Brethren, in pious competition, unite your entreaties with Ours. But, while paternally exhorting you to do this, thus following the example of Our Predecessors, and particularly that of Pius IX when about to define the dogma of the Mother of God's Immaculate Conception, we earnestly beg you to inform us about the devotion of your clergy and people (taking into account their faith and piety) toward the Assumption of the most Blessed Virgin Mary. More especially We wish to know if you, Venerable Brethren, with your learning and prudence consider that the bodily Assumption of the Immaculate Blessed Virgin can be proposed and defined as a dogma of faith, and whether in addition to your own wishes this is desired by your clergy and people.

5. We shall be most grateful for your prompt response and we entreat an abundance of divine favors and the favorable assistance of the heavenly Virgin upon you, venerable brothers, and upon yours, while we most lovingly impart our apostolic blessing in the Lord as a token of our fatherly affection to you and to the flocks committed to your care. 

--Venerable Pius XII, Deiparae Virginis Mariae (May 1, 1946)

Recognizing Our Debt to the Two Hearts: Wednesday, September 16, 2015

J.M.J. "In order that favors in greater abundance may flow on all Christians, nay, on the whole human race, from the devotion to the most Sacred Heart of Jesus, let the faithful see to it that to this devotion the Immaculate Heart of the Mother of God is closely joined. For, by God's Will, in carrying out the work of human Redemption the Blessed Virgin Mary was inseparably linked with Christ in such a manner that our salvation sprang from the love and the sufferings of Jesus Christ to which the love and sorrows of His Mother were intimately united. It is, then, entirely fitting that the Christian people--who received the divine life from Christ through Mary--after they have paid their debt of honor to the Sacred Heart of Jesus should also offer to the most loving Heart of their heavenly Mother the corresponding acts of piety, affection, gratitude and expiation. Entirely in keeping with this most sweet and wise disposition of divine Providence is the memorable act of consecration by which We Ourselves solemnly dedicated Holy Church and the whole world to the spotless Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary."

--Venerable Pius XII, Encyclical Haurietis Aquas (May 15, 1956), 124.

Our Lady Below Her Son's Cross: Tuesday, September 15, 2015

J.M.J. On this the Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows, we ponder the Mercy that Jesus gave to us on Calvary--the gift that Mary witnessed and in which she actually participated.


Of all the things that Pope Francis has said and done during his still brief Pontificate, his insistence that we extend mercy to others as God has shown mercy to us remains front and center.

It is no wonder, then, that the Holy Father has announced for the Universal Church the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy that will begin on Tuesday, December 8, 2015—the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception—and extend through Sunday, November 20, 2016—the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe.

Pope Francis writes, in his letter of September 1, 2015 to Archbishop Rino Fisichella, the President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, that he wishes “that the Jubilee be a living experience of the closeness of the Father, whose tenderness is almost tangible, so that the faith of every believer may be strengthened and thus testimony to it be ever more effective.”

This Holy Year of Mercy has as its special focus the words of Jesus, “Be merciful, even as Your Father is merciful.” (Saint Luke 6:36)

While indicating concrete directions for how all the Faithful, wherever they may be and in whatever situation they may find themselves, may benefit from the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, the Holy Father states: “I have asked the Church in this Jubilee Year to rediscover the richness encompassed by the spiritual and corporal works of mercy.”

Furthermore, according to Pope Francis, “The experience of mercy, indeed, becomes visible in the witness of concrete signs as Jesus Himself taught us.”

The Faithful are encouraged to seek additional information about how the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy will be commemorated, including how to obtain the Jubilee Indulgence, from the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization ( as well as from their Local Bishops and Pastors.

A Lasting Legacy Of Mercy

We, the followers of Jesus Christ, have inherited a rich patrimony of mercy. The virtue of mercy is well attested to in both Sacred Scripture and the Apostolic Tradition.

Christ Himself has summoned us to be merciful. Who of us can forget the parable of the unmerciful servant? In his Gospel (18:21-35), Saint Matthew recounts Our Lord’s words to Saint Peter and His disciples about the man who was forgiven but then refused to grant that mercy to his neighbor who owed him money.

Centuries ago, Saint Thomas Aquinas (1225?-1274) wrote in his Summa Theologica that mercy “takes its name ‘misericordia’ from denoting a man’s compassionate heart (miserum cor) for another’s unhappiness.” The Angelic Doctor continued: “. . . Mercy signifies grief for another’s distress.”

In the Dictionary of Moral Theology published in 1962, Dom Gregory Manise, O.S.B., asserted: “Mercy, founded on compassion, differs from compassion or the feeling of sympathy insofar as mercy implements this feeling with a ready desire to render assistance—the essential element of mercy. The works of mercy are the methods or actions which express this desire.”

Saint John Paul II (1978-2005), in his Encyclical Dives in Misericordia (November 30, 1980), joined in the analysis of mercy. “Jesus Christ taught that man not only receives and experiences the mercy of God, but that he is also called ‘to practice mercy’ towards others: ‘Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.’ The Church sees in these words a call to action, and she tries to practice mercy. All the beatitudes of the Sermon on the Mount indicate the way of conversion and of reform of life, but the one referring to those who are merciful is particularly eloquent in this regard. Man attains to the merciful love of God, His mercy, to the extent that he himself is interiorly transformed in the spirit of that love towards his neighbor.”

May we be grateful for the clear voice of the Church and that of her sons and daughters in enunciating the pressing need that we have to be merciful as Jesus is merciful to us.

How Do We Increase In The Virtue Of Mercy?

Look no further than the Seven Sacraments of the Church. By our participation in the Sacraments of Penance and the Most Holy Eucharist, our souls become more immersed in grace—the very life of God.

Learn Sacred Scripture; live the Teachings of the Church.

Embrace those opportunities to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, visit the sick, visit the imprisoned, bury the dead, instruct the ignorant, counsel the doubtful, admonish sinners, bear wrongs patiently, forgive offenses willingly, comfort the afflicted and pray for the living and the dead.

Our Mother Of Mercy

In his remarkable book, The Mother of the Savior and Our Interior Life, Father Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P. (1877-1964) addressed the subject of Our Lady as the Mother of Mercy. “The title of Mother of Mercy is one of Mary’s greatest. Mercy is not the same thing as mere emotional pity. Mercy is in the will, pity is but a good inclination of the sensibility. Pity, which does not exist in God Who is a pure spirit, leads us to suffer in unison with our neighbor as if we felt his suffering in ourselves. It is a good inclination but usually a timid one, being accompanied by fear of harm to ourselves and often helpless to render effective aid.”

Here comes Our Lady. She, along with her Divine Son, Jesus, offers to us a pattern for our efforts to be merciful. In fact, the Son and the Mother are the template for our attempts to pardon others. “She teaches us, though, that if mercy is not justice it is not opposed to it as injustice is, but unites itself to it and goes beyond it: most of all in pardoning, for to pardon is to go beyond what is demanded by justice in forgiving an offense.”

Father Garrigou-Lagrange explained that Our Mother of Mercy, to whom Pope Francis has entrusted the preparations for the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, “reminds us too that God often gives us His mercy more than we need, more than He is obliged in justice to Himself to give; that He gives us more than we merit—the grace of Holy Communion, for example, which is not merited.”

Reflect on how the merciful Ever-Virgin is for us, in the words of the Litany of Loreto, Health of the sickRefuge of sinnersComforter of the afflictedHelp of Christians.

Wait No Longer

We desperately need God’s Mercy. And our brothers and sisters desperately need that we extend it to them. Pope Francis is profoundly aware of various “serious problems” today that call forth mercy from us, especially that regarding the lack of respect for human life.

Our sacred duty is before us. Receive God’s mercy and convey it to everyone.

Nihil Obstat: Christopher T. Burgwald, S.T.D.

Imprimatur: +Paul J. Swain, D.D.
                    The Bishop of Sioux Falls
                    Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross
                    September 14, 2015

Jesus on the Cross, His Mother at Its Foot: Monday, September 14, 2015

J.M.J. Today's Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross only reaffirms our love and appreciation for Christ and for His Holy Mother.

"It is true that Mary was not present (when Jesus suffered in the Garden of Gethsemane, was scourged, etc.), but she was keenly and fully aware of those selfsame events. When Mary functioned as handmaid and mother, and when she offered herself completely to God together with her Son in the temple, she was already a participant with Him in the painful atonement on behalf of the human race. We may not doubt, therefore, that she suffered along with His most bitter sufferings and with His torments in the very depths of her soul. Finally, with Mary present and before her very eyes, the divine sacrifice for which she had borne and nurtured the Victim was to be finished . . . . We see 'His mother Mary, weeping, standing by the cross of Jesus.' She experienced this immense love for us so that she might receive us as her children. Insofar as her Son was concerned, she offered Him to the justice of God. In her heart she died with Him, her heart transfixed with a sword of suffering."

--Pope Leo XIII, Iucunda Semper Expectatione (September 8, 1894), 3.

A Special Daughter of Mary--Blessed Mary Teresa of Calcutta: Sunday, September 13, 2015

J.M.J. Thanks to the Catholic News Agency, we present the following.

Our Lady's Most Holy Name and Her Salutary Influence Over All of Us: Saturday, September 12, 2015

J.M.J. On this the Memorial of the Most Holy Name of Mary, ponder this great episode from the life of Saint John Bosco that appeared in Saint John Bosco, Blessed Friend of Youth (pages 184-185) and was recounted in "Never Withhold a Sin During Confession" in the September/October 2015 issue of Crusade Magazine (page 2).

"A fifteen-year-old boy in Turin was about to die. He called for Don Bosco, but the saint was not able to make it in time. Another priest heard the boy's confession and the boy died. When Don Bosco returned to Turin, he set out at once to see the boy. When told that the boy was dead, he insisted that it was 'just a misunderstanding.' After a moment of prayer in the room of the dead child, Don Bosco suddenly cried out: 'Charles! Rise!' To the utter amazement of all present, the boy stirred, open his eyes, and sat up. Seeing Don Bosco, his eyes lit up. 

"'Father, I should now be in Hell!' gasped the boy. 'Two weeks ago I was with a bad companion who led me into sin and at my last Confession, I was afraid to tell everything . . . Oh, I've just come out of a horrible dream! I dreamt I was standing on the edge of a horrible pit of flames surrounded by a horde of devils. They were about to throw me into the flames when a beautiful Lady appeared and stopped them. 'There's still hope for you, Charles,' she told me. 'You have not yet been judged!' At that moment I heard you calling me. Oh, Don Bosco! What a joy to see you again! Will you please hear my confession?'

"After hearing the boy's confession, Don Bosco said to the boy, 'Charles, now that the gates of Heaven lie wide open for you, would you rather go there or stay here with us?' The boy looked away for a moment and his eyes grew moist with tears. An expectant hush fell over the room. 'Don Bosco,' he said at last, 'I'd rather go to Heaven.' The mourners watched in amazement as Charles leaned back on the pillows, closed his eyes, and settled once more into the stillness of death."

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Please pray for Bishop Swain today as he thanks God for another year of life.

Pleasing Our Lady with Our Prayer: Friday, September 11, 2015

J.M.J. Recently, a friend asked if I would write the following regarding "prayer cenacles."

“The Cenacle” refers to the Upper Room where Jesus ate The Last Supper with His Apostles, who often stayed in the Upper Room when they were in Jerusalem. On the first Pentecost Sunday, God the Father and God the Son sent God the Holy Spirit upon Mary and the Apostles who were together in the Upper Room invoking the Coming of the Paraclete as promised by Jesus Christ.

A “cenacle” is a place of prayer where followers of Our Risen Lord Jesus Christ gather to assure Him of our love, to adore Him, to praise Him, to thank Him, to ask His Blessings and to seek His forgiveness and protection.

Many Catholics find “cenacle prayer,” that is prayer in common outside of the Holy Mass, to be a source of strength. The words of Jesus are very familiar to us: “Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it shall be done for them by My Father in Heaven. For where two or three are gathered in My Name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Saint Matthew 18:19-20)

Prayer alone is very important. So is prayer in common. We want—and need—God to be with us and to speak to us whether we are alone or with others.

Experiencing cenacle prayer encourages those who gather together to draw closer to God themselves as well as with the group with whom they pray. And our prayer, be it personal or in common, is to lead us to more frequent and worthy participation in the Holy Mass and in the Sacraments of the Church.

Cenacle prayer also assists us in caring for those with whom we pray . . . extending mercy to them . . . and lifting them up to our Father, Who loves us and supports us in our joys and sorrows.

Cenacle prayer helps to transform us into selfless, cheerful and charitable servants of Christ who express concern for all who suffer and who engage in the Corporal and the Spiritual Works of Mercy.

The Queen of Heaven is the Patroness of all true prayer cenacles. She delights when we turn to her Son with confidence in His love and mercy. May we pray always when we are alone and when we are in common, for we are the sons and the daughters of the Living God Who calls us to Himself. Oremus. Let us pray.

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Let us never forget to pray for all those who lost their lives on September 11, 2001 and during the aftermath as well as for those who continue to mourn them.

Our Lady and Saint Nicholas of Tolentino: Thursday, September 10, 2015

J.M.J. The previous liturgical calendar before that published during the Pontificate of Blessed Paul VI (1963-1978) listed Saint Nicholas of Tolentino (circa 1245-1305) on September 10th.

The story is told that this Italian priest and religious, one day when he was gravely ill, saw Our Lady, Saint Monica and her son Saint Augustine in a vision. The Trio exhorted him to dip into water a roll that had a cross on it and then to eat it. After he was cured of his malady, he took similar bread, recited over it prayers to the Ever-Virgin and then administered it to others. The rolls became known as "Saint Nicholas Bread."

How do you and I, in the Most Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, serve the sick?

The Many Roles of Mary: Wednesday, September 9, 2015

J.M.J. "By her maternal charity, Mary cares for the brethren of her Son, who still journey on earth surrounded by dangers and difficulties, until they are led into their blessed home. Therefore, the Blessed Virgin is invoked by the Church under the titles of Advocate, Helper, Benefactress, and Mediatrix."

--Lumen Gentium (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church), from the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council (November 21, 1964), 62    

Our Blessed Lady's Birthday: Tuesday, September 8, 2015

J.M.J. "The origin of this Feast is sought in Palestine. It goes back to the consecration of a church in Jerusalem, which tradition identifies as that of the present basilica of St. Ann.

"At Rome the Feast began to be kept toward the end of the 7th century, brought there by Eastern monks. Gradually and in varied ways it spread to the other parts of the West in the centuries that flowed. From the 13th century on, the celebration assumed notable importance, becoming a Solemnity with a major Octave and preceded by a Vigil calling for a fast. The Octave was reduced to  a simple one during the reform of St. Pius X and was abolished altogether under the reform of Pius XII in 1955. The present Calendar characterizes the Birth of Mary as a "Feast," placing it on the same plane as the Visitation.

"For some centuries now, the Birth has been assigned to September 8 both in the East and in the West, but in ancient times it was celebrated on different dates from place to place. However, when the Feast of the Immaculate Conception (which has a later origin than that of the Birth) was extended to the whole Church, the Birth little by little became assigned everywhere to September 8: nine months after the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception."

--The Reverend Alberto Valentini, S.M., S.S.D., "Birth of Mary" in Dictionary of Mary: "Behold Your Mother" (New York: Catholic Book Publishing, 1985), 35-36.

Our Lady's Consistency: Monday, September 7, 2015

J.M.J. "And it seems to Us that the Blessed Virgin, who throughout the whole course of her life--both in joys, which affected her deeply, as in distress and atrocious suffering, through which she is Queen of Martyrs--never departed from the precepts and example of her own Divine Son, it seems to us, We say, that she repeats to each of us those words, with which she addressed the servers at the wedding feast of Cana, pointing as it were to Jesus Christ: 'Whatsoever He shall say to you, do ye' (John. 2. 5)."

--Venerable Pius XII, Encyclical Fulgens Corona (September 8, 1953), 24.

Our Lady's Privilege near Her Divine Son in the Light of the Truth: Sunday, September 6, 2015

J.M.J. "In fact, in the method followed by the Fathers (of the Church) and in the entire development of the Council of Ephesus in opposing the heresy of Nestorius, three dogmas of the Catholic Faith especially brighten the eyes of the world in their full light, and these We treat in a particular way. They are: that in Jesus Christ, there is only one Person, and this being Divine; that all must recognize and venerate the Blessed Virgin Mary as the true Mother of God; and finally, that in the Roman Pontiff resides, by Divine Institution, the supreme, highest and independent Authority on every and each Christian, in questions concerning faith and morals."

--Pope Pius XI, Encyclical Lux Veritatis, December 25, 1931.

Some of Our Lady's Words on July 13, 1917: First Saturday, September 5, 2015

J.M.J. "Sacrifice yourselves for sinners, and say many times, especially whenever you make any sacrifice: 'O Jesus, it is for love of You, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.'"

--Our Blessed Mother to the Little Shepherds of Fatima, July 13, 1917

Are the Church's Marian Doctrines Worthy of Our Trust?: First Friday, September 4, 2015

J.M.J. Absolutely! The Church is the Bride of Christ whose head on earth--the Sovereign Pontiff--and the Bishops in union with him have the charism, which includes the authority, to teach in the Name of Christ. 

We have every confidence that what the Magisterium of the Church teaches about Our Lady is true.

May we learn more about the sinless Mother of God daily.

Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us.

Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us.

Saint Joseph, pray for us.

An Exhortation by Saint Pius X Regarding Sincere Love for Our Lady: Thursday, September 3, 2015

J.M.J. "If then God has such a horror of sin as to have willed to keep free the future Mother of His Son not only from stains which are voluntarily contracted but, by a special favor and in prevision of the merits of Jesus Christ, from that other stain of which the sad sign is transmitted to all us sons of Adam by a sort of hapless heritage: who can doubt that it is a duty for everyone who seeks by his homage to gain the Heart of Mary to correct his vicious and depraved habits and to subdue the passions which incite him to evil?"

--Saint Pius X, Ad Diem Illum Laetissimum (February 2, 1904), 19.

His Mother in Nature and Our Mother in Grace: Wednesday, September 2, 2015

J.M.J. "As Mother of God and mother of all God's children, Mary is exalted above all creatures on the throne of glory; maternity itself is glorified through her. As Virgin, she manifests in incomparable beauty pleasing to God, along with their fruitfulness and virginal purity. As Queen, she evidences the conquering power of a serving love and of purity intact. Every woman who wants to fulfill destiny must look to Mary as the ideal."
--Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, Virgin and Martyr (1891-1942)