MARY, OUR MOTHER

Monday, April 30, 2007

Son of the Virgin Mary

LIFE AT NAZARETH

2. The Son of God.
On the other hand, Mary saw in Jesus not only Her own Son but also the Son of God. Hence all Her affection, immense though it was, was always mixed with the highest respect and veneration.

It is a sublime inference that God placed in the heart of the Virgin Mother all the love, all the fond tenderness that the whole of mankind ought to have had for Jesus. Mary Herself loved Her Son more than the rest of all creatures. From the very first moments with Her ardent love She was able to atone for all the forgetfulness and ingratitude of all men who out of ignorance or malice, would not accept their Saviour. Thus Mary in Her heart represented all mankind and on their behalf She performed the functions of Mother, since indeed Her Son was not for her only but for all of us. He equally belongs to us all.

[Excerpted from 'MARIAN MEDITATIONS' Book by Rev. Dr. Ildefonso R. Villar, Salesian Philippine Province, Nihil Obstat; Imprimatur]



A NEW MEDJUGORJE WEB SITE AND A NEW BOOK!

Caritas of Birmingham, Alabama has published a New Book titled:

"Look What Happened While You Were Sleeping"!

You can obtain it from their new Web Site mej.com.

I'm expecting mine to come any day now and after I read it, I will give you a review! But I understand it's a blockbuster and should be read by everyone!

Blessings+
Deacon John





















Meditation 58

LIFE AT NAZARETH

1. Mary and Jesus.
We shall try to fathom the kind of relation which existed between Jesus and Mary, during the thirty years hidden life of Nazareth. It was, first of all, the relationship of mother and son. Jesus, the Son of God, was also the Son of Mary and was to Her all that a good son can be towards his mother. Mary had to do for Him all the services which a mother does for her child. And the Child Jesus, like any other, had to depend on His Mother to such an extent that the life of one was the life of the other. Mary lived all for Jesus while Jesus was wholly dependent on Mary, His Mother. What a sweet compenetration of lives between Mother and Son!

Everything in the life of Jesus had its repercussion in the heart of Mary. It would sometimes be a joy, a desire, or an anxiety, a loving caress, or an effort; or as in the case with all the earthly mothers a preoccupation to feed Him, clothe Him and rear Him. Only all in a way far more loving, more tender and devoted. none even among the children of kings and emperors had ever enjoyed such exquisite care as Jesus received from His most loving Mother.

[Excerpted from 'MARIAN MEDITATIONS' Book by Rev. Dr. Ildefonso R. Villar, Salesian Philippine Province, Nihil Obstat; Imprimatur]




NEW BOOK ON
POPE BENEDICT XVI

"The Gospel of life, the family and suffering " at the beginning of the Pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI

Roma (Agenzia Fides) - On Monday 30 April at 6.30pm, at the Sala Conferenze "Maria SS.ma Bambina" (via Paolo VI, 21 Roma), there will be the presentation of a book by Mgr. Vincenzo Di Muro "The Gospel of life, the family and suffering ", teaching and spiritual elevations of Pope Benedict XVI at the beginning of his Supreme Pontificate.

Speakers will be Bishop Karl Josef Romer, secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Family; Bishop José Luis Redrado Marchite, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care; Senator Giulio Andreotti, former prime minister of Italy; Hon. Carlo Casini, member of the European Parliament. (S.L.) (Agenzia Fides 28/4/2007)

Sunday, April 29, 2007



THE LIFE AT NAZARETH

4. Seeking Jesus.
You too must learn how to seek Jesus. You may lose Him through sin, but sometimes even without sin Jesus may hide from you just to try you as His Mother was tried. It is then that the devil will take the opportunity to tempt you with discouragement, with despondency, with tiredness, with mistrust, perhaps with despair.

Look then to Mary. Though She did not find Jesus immediately, yet she did not stop looking for Him. This you also should do. Suffering and sorrow must not diminish the earnestness of your search. On the contrary, you must miss Jesus much more than Mary did. Like Mary you must not stop or rest, until by fervor and perseverance you manage to find Him again.

And when we find Jesus again, what joy and happiness comes to us. How spontaneously those words of the Canticle of Canticles spring from our heart: I have found the One that my soul loves. I shall keep Him well and shall never let Him go. Ask Mary to learn how to fulfill the will of God. Implore from Her that Jesus should never punish you by quitting your heart and hiding away from you. Ask to learn how to work without rest in Her company, since you know well that it is with Her and through Her that Jesus is found and will abide with you for ever.

[Excerpted from 'MARIAN MEDITATIONS' Book by Rev. Dr. Ildefonso R. Villar, Salesian Philippine Province, Nihil Obstat; Imprimatur]

Saturday, April 28, 2007



THE LIFE AT NAZARETH

3. Our Model.
Here Jesus gives us a model of the highest virtues. He teaches us that we must obey God rather tan man. He shows us how to follow our vocation and divine inspirations always and everywhere. However much the heart may bleed, we must listen to His invitations wherever He wants, whenever He wants, whatever He wants.

Moreover, we must obey God as He deserves, that is with readiness, energy and exactitude. Very often, strong will-power is necessary since only thus can we overcome the difficulties which crop up. Look then at your Model: there you will find the encouragement and steadfastness that you require. Jesus does not sugar-coat His parent's sacrifice. He does not even prepare them for the separation. He does not take one step to meet them when they are in search for Him. And even when they find him He does not console them with sweet and affectionate words. No, He simply tells them the truth; what has happened is the Will of His Father, Who is their superior and Whose will they must accept. Mary and Joseph bow their heads in humble submission. They speak no further word, put no further question.

Meditate on this extraordinary passage of the Gospel and ask Jesus to give you the same steadfastness and the same courage that you too may obey with exactness and humble submission the Holy Will of God.

Here too Mary is a model of great virtues. How well in the hard trial does She bear Her sorrow. Stop to consider Her patience, Her submission to God's will, Her humility, how She deems Herself unworthy to have Jesus; how She blames Herself for His loss. Admire Her perseverance and activity in the restless search. She would have gone to the end of the world had that been necessary in order to find Jesus.

[Excerpted from 'MARIAN MEDITATIONS' Book by Rev. Dr. Ildefonso R. Villar, Salesian Philippine Province, Nihil Obstat; Imprimatur]


Friday, April 27, 2007



THE LIFE AT NAZARETH

2. Maternal Remonstrances.
In fact, our Lady could not contain Her feelings; and with an immense maternal love She asked Him My Son, why has Thou treated us so? Think what anguish of mind Thy father and I have endured searching for Thee!

What reason had you to search for Me? Could you not tell that I must needs be in the place which belongs to My Father?

Mary was unable to recover from Her astonishment on that day. Everything was so extraordinary. How was it that Jesus, Her Jesus, until now so submissive and obedient, He who had never given them any motive of complaint could now behave like this? Had He not been aware that He had caused them such cruel torments? What was the explanation? We can easily guess the torture of Her motherly heart which causes Her to give vent to Her feelings. And Jesus up to now silent, now, out of respect for His Mother, speaks and explains.

These are the first words of Jesus recorded in the Gospel. How sublime they are! What a deep mystery they enclose! Whatever He has done, has been done on orders from His Father, before whose Divine Will there is no other course than to obey, even when obedience is bitter and brings with it, as in this case, a trial of suffering. Jesus knew well the anguish of Mary and Joseph, His Heart suffered with their's; yet because His father so wanted it, He too desired it.

[Excerpted from 'MARIAN MEDITATIONS' Book by Rev. Dr. Ildefonso R. Villar, Salesian Philippine Province, Nihil Obstat; Imprimatur]

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Pope Benedict says "Thanks!"


Acknowledgement for the messages sent
to His Holiness,

Pope Benedict XVI

The Holy Father was pleased to receive the greetings sent to him for Easter and for his anniversary celebrations.

His Holiness is grateful for the kind thought, which he reciprocates. In this holy season of Easter he invokes upon all people of goodwill abundant divine gifts of peace and joy, and cordially imparts his Apostolic Blessing.

Archbishop Leonardo Sandri
Substitute of the Secretariat of State
Painting hung above altar.

Close-up of painting

OUR LADY OF GOOD COUNSEL
THURSDAY, APRIL 26, 2007

On the Feast of St. Mark, April 25, 1467, at the close of a festival in Genazzano, Italy, a cloud descended upon an ancient 5th-century deteriorated church, dedicated to Our Lady of Good Counsel. When the cloud disappeared, the festive crowd found a small, fragile image of the Blessed Virgin and Child on a thin sheet of plaster. The painting hung in mid-air, suspended without support, floating, on a small ledge. This particular fresco is said to date to the time of the Apostles. It had long been venerated in Albania’s capital city, Scutari.

Much of the church of Our Lady of Good Counsel was destroyed in World War II, but the image remained intact and in place. The miraculous image is still today, after more than 500 years, suspended in the air by itself. Countless miracles have been attributed to the prayerful intercession of Our Lady of Good Counsel.

Many pilgrims visit the church in Genazzano, and take part in the annual spring celebration, observed on April 25. Elsewhere in the world, the feast is celebrated April 26.



Meditation 57

THE LIFE AT NAZARETH

1. The Finding of the Child.
It took them three days to find Him. What long days! What long nights! All day long they would run from one place to another, enquiring here and there. This intense activity would to some extent mitigate the sufferings of Mary. But at nightfall when She would retire to Her rest, tired and exhausted by the sorrow and the days fatigue, what would She think on finding Herself alone! How Her imagination would picture Jesus, perhaps already suffering His passion and death for men. Accompany your Mother during those terrible nights, try to fathom the depth of Her sorrow at the loss of Jesus. Know how to imitate Her if one day you too are visited by the same tribulation, if you too one day lose Jesus or run the risk of losing Him.

At last, the day of rejoicing dawns. Mary and Joseph come back to Jerusalem, search the courtyards and annexes of the Temple and finally they find their Life! They see Jesus peacefully talking to the doctors. What a variety of feelings floods the heart of Mary. On the one side immense joy because She has found the Child safe and whole, on the other gratitude to God for having granted them again the possession of their Child. Feelings too of admiration and astonishment on seeing their Child, always so modest and humble, entering into public discussion with the doctors of the Law and teaching them. What was the meaning of it all?

[Excerpted from 'MARIAN MEDITATIONS' Book by Rev. Dr. Ildefonso R. Villar, Salesian Philippine Province, Nihil Obstat; Imprimatur]

The Hour of Glory

Here is another great posting from my friend Mark Mallett!


Pope John Paul II with his would-be assassin

THE measure of love is not how we treat our friends, but our enemies.

THE WAY OF FEAR

As I wrote in The Great Scattering, the enemies of the Church are growing, their torches lit with flickering and twisted words as they begin their march into the Garden of Gethsemane. The temptation is to run—to avoid conflict, to shy away from speaking the truth, to even hide our Christian identity.

And they all left him and fled… (Mark 14:50)

Yes, it is much easier to hide behind the trees of tolerance or the leaves of complacency. Or lose the faith altogether.

A young man followed him wearing nothing but a linen cloth about his body. They seized him, but he left the cloth behind and ran off naked. (v.52)

Still others will follow at a distance—until pressed.

At that he began to curse and to swear, "I do not know the man." And immediately a cock crowed… (Matt 26:74)

THE WAY OF LOVE

Jesus shows us another way. With His betrayal, He begins to overwhelm His enemies with love.

He expresses his sadness rather than a rebuke as Judas kisses His cheek.

Jesus heals the ear cut off from the high priest’s guard—one of the very soldiers sent to arrest Him.

Jesus turns the other cheek as the high priests slap and spit upon Him.

He is not defensive before Pilate, but condescends to his authority.

Jesus begs Mercy upon his executioners, "Father, forgive them…"

While bearing the very sins of the criminal crucified next to Him, Jesus promises the good thief Paradise.

Directing the entire proceedings of the crucifixion is a centurion. Upon seeing the responses of Jesus toward all his enemies, he exclaims, "Truly this man was the Son of God."

Jesus overwhelmed him with love.

This is how the Church will shine. It won’t be with pamphlets, books, and clever programs. It will be, rather, with the holiness of love.

Holy people alone can renew humanity. —POPE JOHN PAUL II, Vatican City, Aug. 27, 2004

THE HOUR OF GLORY

As the rhetoric increases, we must overwhelm our enemies with patience. As the hatred sharpens, we must overwhelm our persecutors with gentleness. As the judgments and falsehoods mount, we must overwhelm our detractors with forgiveness. And as violence and cruelty spill upon our soil, we must overwhelm our prosecutors with mercy.

So we should begin this very moment overwhelming our wives, husbands, children, and acquaintances. For how can we love our enemies if we do not forgive our friends?

Whoever claims to abide in Jesus ought to live just as he lived… love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. (1 John 2:6, Luke 6:27-28)

Mercy is the garment of light which the Lord has given to us in Baptism. We must not allow this light to be extinguished; on the contrary, it must grow within us every day and thus bring to the world God’s glad tidings. —POPE BENEDICT XVI, Easter Homily, April 15th, 2007

Wednesday, April 25, 2007



Just a note to let you know that today is my 20th anniversary of my ordination to the Diaconate!
It's been a long twenty years with many ups and downs, with much suffering regarding my ministry. I served in four parishes in the Brooklyn Diocese until moving to Florida in 2002. I love serving as deacon and miss the action of assisting at Holy Mass, especially proclaiming the Gospel! The picture above was taken right after my ordination at Most Precious Blood Parish in Astoria, Queens, New York. I miss all those wonderful priests whom I assisted and hope that they are all well in spirit and body! I hope to meet them again in Heaven!

Deacon John G.
APRIL 25, 2007 MEDJUGORJE MESSAGE




Dear children! Also today I again call you to conversion. Open your hearts. This is a time of grace while I am with you, make good use of it. Say: “This is the time for my soul.” I am with you and love you with immeasurable love. Thank you for having responded to my call.


LIFE AT NAZARETH

3. The Loss.
One would say that God listened to Her prayer; that He had accepted Her immolation and gave the chalice of bitterness to sip.

When returning home from Jerusalem, the Child through nobody's fault was lost. Mary trusted to Joseph; while Joseph imagined that Jesus was with Mary, for the two were inseparable. But the fact remains that at the end of the first stage home, God permitted that they should find themselves without the Child. What frightful sorrow! What an excruciating trial for the heart of Our Lady!

When Joseph and Mary realized that the Child was not with any of the group, and when, after having questioned all the returning caravans they had to admit that Jesus had been lost, who could fathom their desolation? O, sword of Simeon! how steadily you penetrate and fiercely destroy the heart of the Mother! Mary without Jesus! The Mother without Her Son! We cannot possibly fathom the magnitude of that sorrow. For that we would need the heart of Mary, possess Her love, and experience what Jesus meant for Her" Her Son, Her God, Her All. What would you have done? Throw the blame on others? Vent your feelings against your neighbor? From Mary comes not a single word of complaint. As for St. Joseph She says that he has done well. She Herself it was that was overconfident and imprudent. She reproaches Herself alone. See Her weep in silence. Yet She gives way to no dramatic exaggerations, the prey of a boundless sorrow! Go you and console Her, Go and promise always to share Her sorrows. Promise never by your behavior to increase Her sufferings, since whatever She suffers, She suffers for you.

[Excerpted from 'MARIAN MEDITATIONS' Book by Rev. Dr. Ildefonso R. Villar, Salesian Philippine Province, Nihil Obstat; Imprimatur]

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Hi Friends,
I'm posting this from my friend Mark, a lay preacher and spiritual singer. His insights are powerful reading!
Deacon John
Mark

The Great Scattering

Father, the hour has come. Give glory to your son, so that your son may glorify you. (John 17:1)

I believe the Church is approaching the time when it will leave the Garden of Gethsemane and enter fully into its passion. This, however, will not be the hour of her shame—rather, it will be the hour of her glory.

It was the Lord’s will that… we who have been redeemed by His precious blood should constantly be sanctified according to the pattern of His own passion. —St. Gaudentius of Brescia, Liturgy of the Hours, Vol II, P. 669

THE HOUR OF SHAME

The hour of shame is drawing to a close. It is that hour in which we have witnessed within the Church those "high priests" and "pharisees" who have conspired for her death. They have not sought the end of the "institution," but have tried to bring about the end of Truth as we know it. Hence, in some churches, parishes, and dioceses there has been not only a disfiguring of doctrine, but even a concerted effort to remold the historical Christ.

It is the hour when clergy and layman alike have fallen asleep in the Garden, slumbering through the night watch as the enemy advances with the torches of secularism and moral relativism; when sexuality and immorality have penetrated the very heart of the Church; when apathy and materialism have distracted her from her mission to bring the Good News to the lost, resulting in many within her losing their own souls.

It is the hour when even some cardinals, bishops, and renowned theologians have risen to "kiss" Christ by a more tolerant and liberal gospel, to "liberate" the sheep from "oppression."

It is the kiss of Judas.

They arise, the kings of the earth, princes plot against the Lord and His Anointed. "Come, let us break their fetters, come, let us cast off their yoke." (Psalm 2:2-3)

THE KISS OF JUDAS

There is approaching a time when there will be a kiss—an overture from those who have fallen prey to the spirit of the world. As I wrote in Persecution, it may take the form of a demand that the Church cannot concede.

I had another vision of the great tribulation… It seems to me that a concession was demanded from the clergy that could not be granted. I saw many older priests, especially one, who wept bitterly. A few younger ones were also weeping… It was as if people were splitting into two camps. —Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich (1774–1824); The Life and Revelations of Anne Catherine Emmerich; message from April 12th, 1820.

It will be the Faithful vs. the "revised" church, the Church vs. the anti-church, the Gospel vs. the anti-gospel—with the International Criminal Court on the side of the latter.

Then they will deliver you up to tribulation, and put you to death; and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. (Matt 24:9)

Then will begin The Great Scattering, a time of confusion and anarchy.

And then many will fall away, and betray one another, and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because wickedness is multiplied, most men’s love will grow cold. But he who endures to the end will be saved. (vs. 10-13)

And here the glory of the faithful flock of Jesus—those who have entered the refuge and ark of His Sacred Heart during this time of grace—begins to unfold…

THE GREAT SCATTERING

Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, against the man who is my associate, says the LORD of hosts. Strike the shepherd that the sheep may be dispersed, and I will turn my hand against the little ones. (Zechariah 13:7)

Once again, I hear the words of Pope Benedict XVI at his inaugural homily ringing in my ears:

God, who became a lamb, tells us that the world is saved by the Crucified One, not by those who crucified him… Pray for me, that I may not flee for fear of the wolves. Inaugural Homily, POPE BENEDICT XVI, April 24, 2005, St. Peter’s Square).

In his deep humility and honesty, Pope Benedict perceives the difficulty of our days. For the times ahead will shake the faith of many.

Jesus said to them, "This night all of you will have your faith in me shaken, for it is written: ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be dispersed.’" (Matt 26:31)

As I drove through America on our concert tour this Spring, I could feel in my spirit a general underlying tension wherever we went—something about to break. It brings to mind the words of St. Leopold Mandic (1866–1942 A.D.):

Be careful to preserve your faith, because in the future, the Church in the U.S.A. will be separated from Rome.Antichrist and the End Times, Fr. Joseph Iannuzzi, St. Andrew’s Productions, P. 31

St. Paul warns us that Jesus will not return until "the apostasy" has taken place (2 Thess 2:1-3). That is the time when symbolically the apostles fled the garden… but it began even before that as they dozed off in the slumber of doubt and fear.

God will permit a great evil against the Church: heretics and tyrants will come suddenly and unexpectedly; they will break into the Church while bishops, prelates, and priests are asleep. —Venerable Bartholomew Holzhauser (1613-1658 A.D.); Ibid. p.30

But there will be a remnant who will move forward. A portion of the flock who will remain faithful to Jesus at all costs.

What glorious days are coming upon the Church! The witness of love—the love of our enemies—will convert many souls.

THE SILENCED LAMB

Just as the earth’s magnetic poles are currently in the process of reversing, so too there is a reversal of "spiritual poles." Wrong is being perceived as right, and right is seen as intolerant and even hateful. There is a growing intolerance toward the Church and the Truth it speaks, a hatred which even now lies just beneath the surface. Serious movements are afoot in Europe to silence the Church and erase its roots there. In North America, the judicial system is increasingly muzzling freedom of speech. And in other parts of the world, Communism and Islamic fundamentalism seek to eradicate the faith, often through violence.

Last summer during a brief visit, Louisiana priest and friend, Fr. Kyle Dave, stood up in our tour bus and exclaimed under a powerful anointing,

The time of words is coming to an end!

It will be a time when, like Jesus before His persecutors, the Church will remain silent. Everything said will have been said. Her witness will be mostly wordless.

But love will speak volumes.

Yes, days are coming, says the Lord GOD, when I will send famine upon the land: Not a famine of bread, or thirst for water, but for hearing the word of the LORD. (Amos 8:11)

THE BODY OF CHRIST… VICTORY!

In this new Gethsemane where the Church presently finds itself, the faithful are symbolized, not so much in the Apostles, but as in the Lord Himself. We are the body of Christ. And as the Head entered His passion, so too His Body must pick up its cross and follow Him.

But this is not the end! This is not the end! Awaiting the Church is an era of great peace and joy when God will renew the whole earth. It is called the "Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary" for her triumph is to assist her Son—Body and Head—to crush the serpent beneath His heel (Gen 3:15) for a symbolic period of a "thousand years" (Rev 20:2). This period will also be the "Reign of the Sacred Heart of Jesus," for Christ’s Eucharistic presence will be universally recognized as the Gospel reaches the ends of the earth in the blossoming of the "new evangelization." It will coincide with an outpouring of the Holy Spirit in a "new pentecost" which will inaugurate the reign of the Kingdom of God on earth until Jesus, the King, comes in glory upon the clouds to claim His Bride, commencing the Final Judgment, and ushering in the New Heavens and the New Earth.

They will deliver you up to tribulation… And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, as a testimony to all nations; and then the end will come. (Matt 24:9, 14).

Now when these things begin to take place, look up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near. (Luke 21:28)

FURTHER READING:

Read responses to letters on the timing of events:

Follow Jesus Without Fear
Time Out!

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Published in: DAILY JOURNAL, SIGNS Edit|| on April 24th, 2007 |
Here's a link to a beautiful presentation on creationism . . .

I pray you enjoy THE WATCHMAKER.


Orlando Virgin Mary appears to shed tear

A statue of the Virgin Mary shipped from overseas to a Central Florida business has grabbed the attention of the Orlando Catholic Diocese and groups of worshipers after it apparently shed a black tear inside the store.

Castle Designs in Orlando received the marble statue weeks ago from overseas, according to the report.

The statue is a reproduction of the Pieta -- one of Michelangelo's greatest works of art depicting the Virgin Mary cradling the body of Christ.

The black tear was just recently noticed at the store and owners said it appears to be coming from inside the statue.

"We started noticing that there was a small gray line every day that kept getting darker and darker," Castle Designs CEO Les Roberts said.

"It doesn't appear to be stained from the outside so it's kind of unusual because it does appear to be coming from the inside," Castle Designs representative Chris Wilson said.

Store owners said the members of the Orlando Catholic Diocese plan to come to the business and look at the statue.

"It could have been anywhere on this entire statue, why on that one spot?" Roberts said. "That's what's amazing."

Groups of people have already traveled to the store to worship.

"Some people are asking for private prayers," Roberts said. "When somebody's here kneeling at the statue, I try to give them some time away because it's between them and their God."

The store has roped off the area where the statue is located and owners have decided not to sell it.

The business has also offered the Orlando Catholic Diocese the chance to display the statue if they so chose, the report said.



LIFE AT NAZARETH

2. In the Temple.
See them arrive in the Temple, the house of their Father, the place where God dwells and communicates Himself to souls. How pained they feel to witness the abuses committed in the Temple! The want of respect for the sacred place shown by the shop-keepers and mercenary-minded people who have taken their merchandise and commerce into the sacred premises. Was not Jesus tempted to do now what He did later on, namely, to drive them out at the point of a cracking whip? But His hour has not still come. How injurious to Jesus is a fault committed in a sacred place.

They enter the Temple and first Jesus and then Mary and Joseph begin to pray. It was their first prayer together in the Temple. Let us join them. Let us keep close to Him. Let us stand close to Our Lady. The Mother does not lift Her eyes from Him but full of love and admiration imitates His way of praying and speaking to God. What does He tell His Father? How great is the fervor of His Heart! How He shares it with Mary and She too is all ablaze with fervor! And then they take part in all the sacred ceremonies with great attention following the development of the liturgy. No vain curiosity, no unnecessary questions, no comment, no frivolous demeanor in the presence of so much splendor. It is thus that you too take part in the liturgy or do you occasionally allow yourself some light remark?

And when the Child saw the Pascal Lamb and witnessed its immolation and when He watched the priests gathering its blood in golden vessels in order to pour it on the altar of the holocausts, what would His Heart feel? Nothing foreshadowed the Redeemer and His Sacrifice better than the innocent little lamb. Well did Jesus know that that blood was too poor and insufficient to wash away our sins and give atonement to His Father. And He would once again repeat in His Heart: "My Father, here I am ready, I shall take away the sins of the world." And Mary, His Mother, so used She was to reading that Heart, would certainly guess all the thoughts that were crossing the mind of Jesus. And She too would renew with Her Son the desire of that Sacrifice for the salvation of men.

[Excerpted from 'MARIAN MEDITATIONS' Book by Rev. Dr. Ildefonso R. Villar, Salesian Philippine Province, Nihil Obstat; Imprimatur]

Here's today's laugh!

Angry Preacher

A pastor had had a bad week. On Sunday he was very frustrated and he began his sermon, "All members of this parish are going to hell if they don't change their ways."

One man in the back began to laugh.

So the pastor said it again louder.

The man continued to laugh.

The pastor went back to him and asked him why he was laughing.

He answered, "Because I don't belong to this church!"

Received from Pastor Tim.


From http://www.GCFL.net: The Good, Clean Funnies List
Remember when the funniest jokes were the clean ones? They still are! Good, clean funnies five times a week, FOR FREE! ... AND NO ADS IN THE MAILINGS!

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A cheerful heart is good medicine... (Prov 17:22a)

Monday, April 23, 2007



Apostolic Preacher to Help Priests at Problem Pilgrim Centre

One of the Papal Household's private preachers is to visit the troubled pilgrimage site at Medjugorje to conduct a retreat for priests in July this year. The Vatican has been supportive of some aspects of life among the pilgrims. This is a very open endorsement of the importance both of the pilgrim centre, and of getting proper pastoral support for the pilgrims.

Camberley, Surrey, England (PRWEB) April 23, 2007 -- The Pope's own private preacher at the Vatican, Raniero Cantalamessa, will be conducting a retreat for priests in July this year at the heart of Catholicism's most controversial pilgrimage centre -- Medjugorje in the south of the Muslim-Croat Federation of the FYR of Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Fr. Cantalamessa has been the "Apostolic Preacher" since 1980, officially known as the Preacher to the Papal Household, giving a meditation each Friday in Advent and Lent in the presence of the Holy Father, the Cardinals, the Bishops, the prelates and the General Superiors of religious orders.

The reasons for this choice may be several:
-to calm speculation about the truth of the happenings in Medjugorje and their probity;
-to ensure that pilgrims who go there are properly catered for ministerially -- most pilgrims want to make a confession there, often for the first time for many years and great care is needed over this;
-to make certain that the rules laid down by the local Bishop Ratko Peric are kept -- Monsignor Peric doesn't believe anything supernatural is happening and is striving to keep reaction to events there healthy and spiritually well-ordered;
-maybe perhaps to look at the Muslim-Christian, and the Catholic-Orthodox splits and work out with the clergy who attend a modus operandi which is positive and peaceful.

Whatever the motive, whichever of the speculations about the reasons for sending the Apostolic Preacher on this mission, it is a bold step, one which should help regularise the curious situation at Medjugorje. By some accounts this venue for pilgrims attracts more visitors than any other Catholic shrine in the world, yet it is not officially recognised. Pilgrims are allowed to go there, but not officially.

The attraction of Medjugorje is the series of reported apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary which have taken place more or less daily since the summer of 1981. In addition most of those returning for a second time state that they come to "learn to pray". The message coming out of Medjugorje is one which the Vatican can hardly avoid applauding: the promotion of Peace, of Prayer, of the practice of humble Penance, of regular, properly managed, Fasting and the development of a Firm Faith.

For priests attending, the chance to get feedback and help on these matters from someone so close to His Holiness, Pope Benedict, and away from carping critics must surely be the chance of a lifetime. For their Bishops, and those bishops and archbishops who make pilgrimage to Medjugorje, it should bring some peace of mind that the Vatican seems to have taken an interest in helping everybody concerned with Medjugorje in such an open manner.

recognised centre for personal devotional development.

For further information contact www.medjugorje.org, or www.medjugorje.hr.

CONTACT INFORMATION

The Reverend Doctor Edward Baty, IMM,
Camberley Medjugorje Centre,
(UK + 44) (0)1276 20315



Meditation 56

LIFE AT NAZARETH

The Loss of the Child.
The culminating point of this hidden life, and even apparently in contradiction with it, is when Jesus, so obedient, so submissive and so retiring suddenly manifests Himself and, so it would appear, declares Himself independent. Let us meditate on the profound mysteries of this behavior and its bearing on Mary.

1. He goes up to the Temple.
Jesus is already twelve. He is no longer a little child. He is an adolescent who with irresistible beauty and the fascination of incomparable charm, draws to Himself the love of all. Look at Him, the desire of the eternal hills. Since He is twelve, He is subject to the Law. As such, He must go to Jerusalem three times a year and take part in the ritual feasts. Many days before, Mary would so tell Him and He would begin to rejoice and look forward to the journey although He did not reveal what was going to happen.

When the appointed day arrives Joseph and Mary take the Child and set out on their journey. Let us follow them and listen to their conversation. Let us see what they do. Let us feel their fervor as they go to the Temple to pray and offer sacrifice.

Compare this journey with the previous ones. Gone are the hardships and preoccupations of the journey to Bethlehem. The nightmare flight to Egypt is finished. Today they proceed happy and contented and yet it is during this journey that a greater bitterness, a far greater trial than on any previous journey awaits them. Adore the divine plans, respect God's Holy Will, which often, when they least expect it, prepares a trial by sorrow for His dear ones.

[Excerpted from 'MARIAN MEDITATIONS' Book by Rev. Dr. Ildefonso R. Villar, Salesian Philippine Province, Nihil Obstat; Imprimatur]

Sunday, April 22, 2007



LIFE AT NAZARETH

4. Your Own Growth.
Your body no doubt has similarly developed but what about your soul? Can you say that it has grown every day, every month, every year? Do you feel that it is indeed growing? Do you, following St. Peter's invitation, grow up in grace and in the knowledge of our Saviour Jesus Christ, strive to grow in the knowledge of Jesus and in that of His Mother? Do you try to strike deeper roots in those two hearts?

If life is growth, can you say that your soul lives, or is it not rather languishing away? In the past were you not more innocent, more simple, more fervent? Indeed have not your passions, your self-love, your temper, increased in intensity rather than diminished? Have your virtues grown? Ask Our Lady the grace of growing. May She teach you to advance as fast as She did. Ask Her to teach you lest your soul becomes something monstrous or languishes on the verge of death. Storm the throne of Our Heavenly Mother, ask Her that everyday you may increase and advance along the path of sanctity. May She especially give you this lesson during Holy Communion, when She gives you Her Son, the greatest Food on which to feed and grow.

[Excerpted from 'MARIAN MEDITATIONS' Book by Rev. Dr. Ildefonso R. Villar, Salesian Philippine Province, Nihil Obstat; Imprimatur]

Saturday, April 21, 2007



VATICAN - Clement of Alexandria “continues to mark with decision the path of those who intend to ‘explain the reason’ for their faith in Jesus Christ. He is an example for Christians, catechists and theologians of our day”: the Pope’s General Audience catechesis

Vatican City (Agenzia Fides) - After reflecting on the Twelve Apostles and then on the disciples of the latter, Pope Benedict XVI continues to focus his teaching during the weekly General Audiences on major figures in the early Church. During the audience in St Peter’s Square on Wednesday April 18 the Pope spoke about the great theologian Clement of Alexandria, born probably in Athens about the middle of the 2nd century. “From Athens he inherited a marked interest for philosophy which was to render him a herald of dialogue between faith and reason in the Christian tradition” Benedict underlined recalling while still young Clement reached Alexandria, where he was a disciple of Pantaenus, and then succeeded him as head of the Alexandrian School of Catechesis. Numerous sources say he was ordained a priest. During the persecution of 202-203 he left Alexandria and went to Cesarea, in Cappadocia, where he died in 215. The three most important works he left are the "Exhortation", "The Tutor", the "Miscellanies".
“As a whole Clement’s catechesis - the Holy Father explained - accompanies the path of the catechumen and the baptised Christian step by step because, so that with two "wings" of faith and reason, they may reach intimate knowledge of the Truth, who is Jesus Christ, the Word of God. Only this knowledge of the Person who is the truth, is ‘authentic gnosis’, the Greek word for ‘knowledge’ ‘intelligence’. This is the building constructed by reason under the impulse of a supernatural principle. Faith itself constructs authentic philosophy, that is authentic conversion on the path to be taken in life … Knowledge of Christ is not only thought it is also love which opens the eyes, changes the person and builds communion with the Logos, with the - Divine Word who is truth and life. In this communion, which is perfect knowledge and love, the perfect Christian attains contemplation, unity with God.”
The Pope then underlined that Clement upheld the doctrine according to which the ultimate destiny of man is to become similar to God. “We are truly created in the image and likeness of God however this is also a challenge, a journey; in fact the purpose of life, the final destination is really to become like God. This is possible thanks to co-naturalness with Him, which man received at the moment of creation, and therefore is already in himself,- already in himself - an image of God. This co-naturalness enables man to know divine reality and which, accepted first of all out of faith and, through lived faith, the practice of virtue, can grow and reach contemplation of God”. In the process of perfection Clement gives the moral requisite the same importance as the intellectual one: “The two go together because we cannot know without living and we cannot live without knowing. Assimilation to God and contemplation of God cannot be reached only with rational knowledge: they require a life according to the Logos a life according to the truth. And consequently good works must accompany intellectual knowledge as the shadow follows the body.”
The moral ideal of ancient philosophy, namely liberation from passions, is redefined and conjugated by Clement with love, in the continual process of assimilation with God. Thus he constructs “the second great occasion of dialogue between Christian proclamation and Greek philosophy”. As John Paul II wrote in the Encyclical Fides et ratio, “Clement of Alexandria interprets philosophy as ‘instruction which prepared for Christian faith (n. 38). And in fact Clement even goes as far as to say that God gave philosophy to the Greeks ‘as their Testament (Strom. 6,8,67,1). For him Greek philosophic tradition, almost equal to the Law for the Jews, is a source of ‘revelation’, they are two rivulets which definitively flow into the Logos. So Clement continues to mark with decision the path of those who intend "to explain the reason" of their faith in Jesus Christ. He can be an example for Christians, catechists and theologians of our day.” (S.L.) (Agenzia Fides 20/4/2007 - righe 46, parole 662)

Links:
See the Pope’s teaching in Italian
http://www.evangelizatio.org/portale/adgentes/pontefici/pontefice.php?id=767



LIFE AT NAZARETH

3. How Jesus Grew.
a) In His Body.
This was practically the only growth open to Him. That tender and delicate body of the Child Jesus every day appeared more robust and beautiful, more fitted for His impending apostolic labors, for His preaching, for His passion. Therefore, even His physical and natural growth tended towards the plan of His redemption, towards the fulfillment of the Will of His Father, towards the salvation of souls. Towards this same end too, must we direct our health, our strength, the whole of our life, even considered from a physical and corporal stand point.

b) He Grew in Wisdom.
This was two-fold: one, His human wisdom by which He appeared to know, every day more and better, all that was necessary for life, for His work and for the purpose of helping His parents. Moreover, He knew every day better what men are, what is in the human heart; and this knowledge made Him suffer at seeing their inconstancy, their selfishness, their incomprehension of real love. He would see the hearts of all mankind and He would find, alas!, a similar substratum also in your own heart. The other was the divine wisdom which every day revealed itself more clearly as for instance when in the Temple it caused the doctors of the Law to admire. Our Lady derived much fruit from these divine lessons. And you, do you too listen to the inspirations of God? Do you profit by them? As He grew in wisdom day by day, He would do works more and more pleasing to His Father, more and more profitable for us. How great would be His uprightness and purity of intention! What love did He not bring to His actions! Imitate this growing sanctity of Jesus which goes on increasing ever more, until the Eucharist and the Cross, until the end of life.

[Excerpted from 'MARIAN MEDITATIONS' Book by Rev. Dr. Ildefonso R. Villar, Salesian Philippine Province, Nihil Obstat; Imprimatur]

Friday, April 20, 2007



LIFE AT NAZARETH

2. The Model.
Jesus advanced in wisdom and in grace, says the Gospel. Jesus appeared to grow and advance, yet in reality He was the only One in no position to increase or grow for from eternity He possessed all in an infinite degree. Consequently He could not acquire any new perfection. Yet, since He wanted to be our model and teach us practically that we must grow, He so manifested Himself as to appear to be advancing and growing.

The sun is always the same, it does not increase or decrease, yet its light grows from dawn to midday in intensity and brightness. So did Jesus daily intensify the brightness of some perfection as though perfection were rally growing and increasing in Him. How great must be the desire of God that we should grow since His Divine Son, the only one not susceptible of increase, decides on appearing in a constant development. He certainly wants us to imitate Him and to work at our own perfection. Our Lady, the one who drew most profit from the teachings of Jesus, certainly did follow His example. It is sweet for us to think how She every day appeared more graceful and beautiful in the sight of God and man.

[Excerpted from 'MARIAN MEDITATIONS' Book by Rev. Dr. Ildefonso R. Villar, Salesian Philippine Province, Nihil Obstat; Imprimatur]


Thursday, April 19, 2007

Peter, Do You Love Me?

by: Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio

Pope John Paul II, Catholic Church, Vatican, Rome, Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio, The Holy See

On many occasions I’ve heard non-Catholics object to the papacy. Often, they say something like this: “I just can’t believe that one man on earth, the Pope, is holier than everyone else.” So who ever said that being sinless is either a prerequisite or a consequence of being named Pope?

For the Pope, the bishop of Rome, is the successor of Peter, who spent the last years of his life leading the Christians of the eternal city. And here is an interesting fact. None of the four canonical gospels (not to mention Acts and Galatians) try to hide the fact that Peter sinned often and sinned big. By the way, if the “patriarchal, controlling” leaders of the early Catholic Church altered the story about Jesus as the DaVinci Code suggests, don’t you think they would have “fixed” these embarrassing stories?

Yet while all agree Peter was weak and imperfect, they all also agree that he was given a unique responsibility. Only he got a name-change from Jesus himself (from Simon to “Peter” meaning rock). Only he was told by Christ on Holy Thursday night “I have prayed for you that your faith never fail and when you’ve repented, go and strengthen your brethren” (Lk 22: 31-32). And when Jesus, after the resurrection, cooked a fish breakfast for the apostles (Jn 21), it was only to Peter that Jesus put the question “do you love me?”

Good Shepherd, Catholic Church, Holy See, Pope, Vatican, Rome, Marcellino D'Ambroiso, PhD

But why did Jesus ask him the same question three times? Perhaps Peter needed to atone for his three-fold denial of Christ by a three-fold profession of love. Perhaps, given Peter’s track record of getting it wrong, the Lord really wanted to be sure he got his point across. Here’s the point–

“Peter, your way of expressing penance for your sin and love for me will be to feed my sheep. Remember, they are not your sheep, but mine. Take care of them for me. Do for them what I did for them. Don’t just feed them. Protect them. Lay down your life for them if necessary.”

Peter’s role as a Shepherd is, in a way, unique because it is universal. Despite his human frailty, he is given care of all the Churches. And, if we take Lk 22:31-32 seriously, he is called to be the shepherd of all the shepherds. That’s a big responsibility. In fact, it is a crushing burden which he could never fulfill on his own power. That’s why we pray for the Pope (meaning “Papa” or father) in every Catholic Eucharist across the globe – He needs the grace of the Holy Spirit to fulfill his role. The bit about Peter stretching out his hands with others leading him where he does not want to go – it does not just refer to his crucifixion under Nero, but to the daily laying his life down for his flock, the “white martyrdom” that we can saw so clearly in the weary but relentless witness of John Paul II.

Catholic Church, Peter, St. Peter, Rome, Holy See, Pope

In another way, though, Peter’s role of a Shepherd is not unique. It is exemplary for all of us sheep who are called to become ourselves shepherds and leaders, despite our own frailty and sinfulness. Some are called to be bishops, successors of the apostles, entrusted with pastoral care of a portion of Christ’s flock. Some are called to be priests and deacons, who assist a bishop in his apostolic mission. Some are called to be catechists, youth ministers and teachers, who also play a role in the feeding of the sheep.

And most of us are called to be parents, shepherds of what the Second Vatican Council calls “the domestic church.” Parents, say St. Thomas Aquinas and John Paul II, have a pastoral role much like that of a parish priest. In fact John Paul II, in his letter Familiaris Consortio, says that the Catholic parent exercises “a true ministry of the Church.”

Holy Spirit, Good Shepherd, ROme, THe Vatican, Holy See, Rome, Pope, Dr. Marcellino D'Ambroiso

On whatever level, the call to feed and care for the sheep is a call to sacrifice, not privilege. It has its moments of exaltation and profound satisfaction, but it has its moments of agony as well. But if we’ve learned anything from the passion, it’s that suffering is the true and necessary test of love, as well as love’s most authentic and powerful expression. So let us not be afraid to be shepherds. The Good Shepherd will empower us with His Spirit. And let’s pray with gratitude and compassion for those who shepherd us.



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