Mothers’ Day

Happy Mother’s Day!Giulio_Romano_500

Nothing can ever overcome that one enormous sex superiority, that even the male child is born closer to his mother than to his father. No one, staring at that frightful female privilege, can quite believe in the equality of the sexes. Here and there we read of a girl brought up like a tom-boy; but every boy is brought up like a tame girl. The flesh and spirit of femininity surround him from the first like the four walls of a house; and even the vaguest or most brutal man has been womanized by being born. Man that is born of a woman has short days and full of misery; but nobody can picture the obscenity and bestial tragedy that would belong to such a monster as man that was born of a man.

G.K. Chesterton: What’s Wrong With the World

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Mary our Mother

May is dedicated to Mary, Mother of God, Queen of Heaven, Protectress of America.

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Mary attains a union with God that exceeds all the expectations of the human spirit. It even exceeds the expectations of all Israel, in particular the daughters of this Chosen People, who, on the basis of the promise, could hope that one of their number would one day become the mother of the Messiah. Who among them, however, could have imagined that the promised Messiah would be “the Son of the Most High”? On the basis of the Old Testament’s monotheistic faith such a thing was difficult to imagine. Only by the power of the Holy Spirit, who“overshadowed” her, was Mary able to accept what is “impossible with men, but not with God” (cf. Mk 10: 27).

…When Mary responds to the words of the heavenly messenger with her “fiat”, she who is “full of grace” feels the need to express her personal relationship to the gift that has been revealed to her, saying: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord” (Lk 1:38). This statement should not be deprived of its profound meaning, nor should it be diminished by artificially removing it from the overall context of the event and from the full content of the truth revealed about God and man. In the expression “handmaid of the Lord”, one senses Mary’s complete awareness of being a creature of God. The word “handmaid”, near the end of the Annunciation dialogue, is inscribed throughout the whole history of the Mother and the Son. In fact, this Son, who is the true and consubstantial “Son of the Most High”, will often say of himself, especially at the culminating moment of his mission: “The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve” (Mk 10:45).

At all times Christ is aware of being “the servant of the Lord” according to the prophecy of Isaiah (cf.Is 42:1; 49:3, 6; 52:13) which includes the essential content of his messianic mission, namely, his awareness of being the Redeemer of the world. From the first moment of her divine motherhood, of her union with the Son whom “the Father sent into the world, that the world might be saved through him” (cf. Jn 3:17), Mary takes her place within Christ’s messianic service. It is precisely this service which constitutes the very foundation of that Kingdom in which “to serve … means to reign”.21 Christ, the “Servant of the Lord”, will show all people the royal dignity of service, the dignity which is joined in the closest possible way to the vocation of every person.

Mulieris Dignitatem, St. John Paul II

Saints Today!

27 April 2014, Feast of the Divine Mercy, two new brothers in the Community of Saints.

Pope St. John XXIII

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Following the death of Pius XII, [Pope John XXIII] was elected Pope on 28 October 1958, taking the name of John XXIII.  In the five years of his pontificate he appeared to the world as an authentic image of the Good Shepherd.  Meek and gentle, resourceful and courageous, simple and ever active, he undertook various corporal and spiritual works of mercy, visiting prisoners and the sick, welcoming people of all nations and religions, demonstrating an exquisite sense of fatherhood to everyone.  His social magisterium was contained in the Encyclicals Mater et Magistra (1961) and Pacem in Terris (1963).

He convoked the Synod of Rome, instituted the Commission for the Revision of the Code of Canon Law, and convened the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council.  As Bishop of Rome, be visited parishes and churches in the historical centre and in the outskirts.  People saw in him a reflection of benignitas evangelica and called him the “good Pope”.  A profound spirit of prayer sustained him. He embodied, as the driving force behind a movement of renewal of the Church, the peace of one who trusts completely in the Lord.  He advanced resolutely along the paths of evangelization, ecumenism and dialogue, and showed a paternal concern to reach out to those of his children most in need.

Pope St. John Paul the Great

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Bishop Wojtyla [future Pope John Paul II] took part in the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) and made a significant contribution to the drafting of theConstitution Gaudium et Spes.  He also took part in the five assemblies of the Synod of Bishops prior to the start of his Pontificate.

On 16 October 1978, Cardinal Wojtyla was elected Pope and on 22 October he began his ministry as universal Pastor of the Church.

Pope John Paul II made 146 pastoral visits in Italy and, as the Bishop of Rome, he visited 317 of the current 322 Roman parishes.  His international apostolic journeys numbered 104 and were expressions of the constant pastoral solicitude of the Successor of Peter for all the Churches.

His principle documents include 14 Encyclicals, 15 Apostolic Exhortations, 11 Apostolic Constitutions and 45 Apostolic Letters.  He also wrote five books: Crossing the Threshold of Hope (October 1994); Gift and Mystery: On the Fiftieth Anniversary of My Priestly Ordination (November 1996); Roman Triptych, meditations in poetry (March 2003); Rise, Let Us Be on Our Way (May 2004) and Memory and Identity (February 2005).

Pope John Paul II celebrated 147 beatifications, during which he proclaimed 1,338 blesseds, and 51 canonizations, for a total of 482 saints.  He called 9 consistories, in which he created 231 Cardinals (plus one in pectore).  He also presided at 6 plenary meetings of the College of Cardinals.

From 1978, Pope John Paul II convoked 15 assemblies of the Synod of Bishops: 6 ordinary general sessions (1980, 1983, 1987, 1990, 1994 and 2001), 1 extraordinary general session (1985) and 8 special sessions (1980, 1991, 1994, 1995, 1997, 1998 [2] and 1999).

On 3 May 1981, an attempt was made on Pope John Paul II’s life in Saint Peter’s Square.  Saved by the maternal hand of the Mother of God, following a lengthy stay in the hospital, he forgave the attempted assassin and, aware of having received a great gift, intensified his pastoral commitments with heroic generosity.

Pope John Paul II also demonstrated his pastoral concern by erecting numerous dioceses and ecclesiastical circumscriptions, and by promulgating Codes of Canon Law for the Latin and the Oriental Churches, as well as the Catechism of the Catholic Church.  He proclaimed the Year of Redemption, the Marian Year and the Year of the Eucharist as well as the Great Jubilee Year of 2000, in order to provide the People of God with particularly intense spiritual experiences.  He also attracted young people by beginning the celebration of World Youth Day.

No other Pope met as many people as Pope John Paul II.  More than 17.6 million pilgrims attended his Wednesday General Audiences (which numbered over 1,160).  This does not include any of the other special audiences and religious ceremonies (more than 8 million pilgrims in the Great Jubilee Year of 2000 alone).  He met millions of the faithful in the course of his pastoral visits in Italy and throughout the world.  He also received numerous government officials in audience, including 38 official visits and 738 audiences and meetings with Heads of State, as well as 246 audiences and meetings with Prime Ministers.

Additional information and materials related to the canonization event are available at the Vatican website and from the USCCB.

Divine Mercy

The first Sunday after Easter, the Octave of Easter, is the Feast of the Divine Mercy, Divine Mercy Sunday.  To receive the Extraordinary Graces of this Feast, the only condition is to receive Holy Communion worthily on Divine Mercy Sunday (or the Vigil celebration) by making a good confession beforehand and staying in the state of grace and trusting in His Divine Mercy.

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The devotion to Jesus as the Divine Mercy is based on the writings of Saint Faustina, a Polish nun who wrote a diary of about 600 pages recording the revelations she received about God’s mercy.  On May 5, 2000, five days after the canonization of St. Faustina, the Vatican decreed that the Second Sunday of Easter would henceforth be known as Divine Mercy Sunday.

From the Diary of St. Mary Faustina Kowalska (1905-1938):

My Heart overflows with great mercy for souls, and especially for poor sinners. If only they could understand that I am the best of Fathers to them and that it is for them that the Blood and Water flowed from My Heart as from a fount overflowing with mercy. For them I dwell in the tabernacle as King of Mercy. I desire to bestow My graces upon souls, but they do not want to accept them. You, at least, come to Me as often as possible and take these graces they do not want to accept. In this way you will console My Heart. Oh, how indifferent are souls to so much goodness, to so many proofs of love! My Heart drinks only of the ingratitude and forgetfulness of souls living in the world. They have time for everything, but they have no time to come to Me for graces. (Diary, 367)

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The Image of the Divine Mercy originated from a vision St. Faustina had on Feb. 22, 1931.:

In the evening, when I was in my cell, I saw the Lord Jesus clothed in a white garment. One hand [was] raised in the gesture of blessing, the other was touching the garment at the breast. From beneath the garment, slightly drawn aside at the breast, there were emanating two large rays, one red, the other pale. In silence I kept my gaze fixed on the Lord; my soul was struck with awe, but also with great joy. After a while, Jesus said to me, Paint an image according to the pattern you see, with the signature: Jesus, I trust in You. I desire that this image be venerated, first in your chapel, and [then] throughout the world. (Diary, 47)  By means of this image I will grant many graces to souls. (Diary, 742). 

Devotion to The Divine Mercy also includes a Chaplet that can be recited any time, a Novena, and the Hour of Great Mercy, observed daily at 3 o’clock.

In addition to the Graces flowing from the Feast of Divine Mercy, Pope St. John Paul the Great attached an additional Plenary Indulgence to its observation.  His Encyclical, Dives in Misericordia (Rich in Mercy) was offered on 30 November 1980.  According to one biographer, the Pope felt very close to St. Faustina when he began writing.

More on The Divine Mercy is available from the USCCB.

He is Risen!

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Easter Antiphon

He is risen, Why seek ye the living among the dead?
Alleluia!

Remember how He spake unto you:
The Son of Man must be crucified and the third day rise again.
Alleluia! Alleluia!

Thou crownedst Him with glory and honor;
Thou madest Him to have dominion over the works of Thy hands.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost;
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end. Amen.

He is risen, Why seek ye the living among the dead?
Alleluia!

Remember how He spake unto you:
The Son of Man must be crucified and the third day rise again.
Alleluia! Alleluia!

Water in the Desert

Lent is a time of penitence and sacrifice.  It is also a time of promise and of grace.

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Jesus said to them,
“My food is to do the will of the one who sent me
and to finish his work.
Do you not say, ‘In four months the harvest will be here’?
I tell you, look up and see the fields ripe for the harvest.
The reaper is already receiving payment 
and gathering crops for eternal life, 
so that the sower and reaper can rejoice together.
For here the saying is verified that ‘One sows and another reaps.’
I sent you to reap what you have not worked for; 
others have done the work, 
and you are sharing the fruits of their work.”  (JN 4:34-38)

The seasons and days of penance in the course of the liturgical year (Lent, and each Friday in memory of the death of the Lord) are intense moments of the Church’s penitential practice.  These times are particularly appropriate for spiritual exercises, penitential liturgies, pilgrimages as signs of penance, voluntary self-denial such as fasting and almsgiving, and fraternal sharing (charitable and missionary works).

The process of conversion and repentance was described by Jesus in the parable of the prodigal son, the center of which is the merciful father: the fascination of illusory freedom, the abandonment of the father’s house; the extreme misery in which the son finds himself after squandering his fortune; his deep humiliation at finding himself obliged to feed swine, and still worse, at wanting to feed on the husks the pigs ate; his reflection on all he has lost; his repentance and decision to declare himself guilty before his father; the journey back; the father’s generous welcome; the father’s joy – all these are characteristic of the process of conversion.  The beautiful robe, the ring, and the festive banquet are symbols of that new life – pure, worthy, and joyful – of anyone who returns to God and to the bosom of his family, which is the Church.  Only the heart of Christ who knows the depths of his Father’s love could reveal to us the abyss of his mercy in so simple and beautiful a way.

CCD

Our Religious Education department is looking for volunteers to teach next year.  Two longtime teachers are ready to retire and need to be replaced.  Religious Education is also in need of a new Co-Director.  Please contact Earl McPhail at 805 901 1045 if you are interested.