Message of the Blessed Virgin Mary
July 25, 2017
VILLAGE OF MEDJUGORJE, BOSNIA HERCEGOVINA
"Dear children! Be prayer and a reflection of God's love for all those who are far from God and God's commandments. Little children, be faithful and determined in conversion and work on yourselves so that, for you, holiness of life may be truth; and encourage each other in the good through prayer, so1that your life on earth may be more pleasant. Thank you for having responded to my call."
THE COURAGE OF PRIESTS
In His homily at the recent welcome Mass for the relics of Saint Oliver Plunkett at the Chapel of the Kilmore Diocesan Pastoral Centre, the Bishop of Kilmore reflected on the downward trend of religious vocations and the persecution of the Church, recalling, in the light, the difficulties Saint Oliver faced.
The martyred Irish Saint, whose feast day was celebrated on 1 July, served as Archbishop of Armagh in the 17th century during a particularly trying time for the clergy. Pilgrims pray for his intercession as the Patron Saint of Peace and Reconciliation.
Around this time of year bishops would normally be preparing to make new parish appointments, the annual diocesan changes. The reason 'the changes' happened at this time of year was simple. Whatever vacancies might have occurred could now be filled because there were new priests, who had been recently ordained, waiting for appointment. Some of us remember a time when there were more newly ordained priests than vacancies. When that happened some of the newly ordained men would go to another diocese usually in England or Scotland, where they might spend some years before a vacancy arose at home.
Those days are long gone. We have had only one ordination for the diocese of Kilmore in the past 13 years and just one student in the seminary. Happily we now have the services of a number of overseas priests as well as some retired missionaries to boost our numbers. Still, as I contemplate the situation my successors will face in ten years’ time, I have to confess it looks bleak enough. Unless there is a dramatic change in the vocations trend, we will then have less than 30 priests, perhaps about 25, for our 34 parishes.
However, it will be far from as bleak as the situation that Archbishop Oliver Plunkett faced, when he returned to Ireland in 1670 as the newly appointed Archbishop of Armagh. He had spent more than 15 years working as a priest in Rome after his ordination because of the severe persecution of priests in Ireland under the Penal Laws.
The situation the new Archbishop faced was that most dioceses hadn't had a bishop for a generation or more.
There were very few priests and they were demoralized. In a few short years Archbishop Oliver managed to bring back a spirit of harmony and peace among the clergy.
Persecution returned in 1673, but the Archbishop continued to minister to his people, once again in disguise. He worked and travelled tirelessly, did thousands of Confirmations and ordained hundreds of priests. However, as we know he was eventually arrested, was sent to London for trail on trumped up charges, and martyred at Tyburn in 1681.
He followed literally the example of Jesus, the Good Shepherd. He laid down his life for his sheep. He is an inspiring example for every follower of Christ, but especially for bishops and priests who are entrusted with the task of pastoral ministry today.
The Church in Ireland in our times faces a crisis of vocations to the priesthood and religious life which is rooted in a deeper crisis of faith. We have to acknowledge that part of the reason for this is the sins and failures of the Church people themselves which have caused great scandal and undermined the faith of many. Another reason is surely the challenge of life-long priestly celibacy in a culture that is unsympathetic to chastity and short on long-term commitments.
However, I believe another important reason is the hostility to the Church that is now a settled part of society's culture. People are often astonished at the antipathy to the Church displayed in our country. The Church here is not subject to the kind of persecution that it experienced in the 17th century during Saint Oliver’s ministry, nor as it is in many other parts of the world today. But I don't think you have to be paranoid to believe that there is a kind of persecution of the Church taking place here all the same. It is not physical persecution but it is no less real for that. It is more subtle. There is denigration of religious beliefs, practices and institutions on radio, television and on social and other media. There is often a focus on bad news about the Church to the almost total exclusion of any good news.
In this kind of situation it would almost be a surprise that anyone would want to consider devoting their lives to being a priest or religious. It would take real courage, deep faith and strong conviction to offer oneself as a candidate for the priesthood or religious life in a culture as hostle to faith as ours.
We pray for a renewal of faith and hope in all our people and that the faith our fathers and mothers will continue to live and flourish in the future as it has in the past.
Each year thousands of pilgrims visit Saint Oliver Plunkett's shrine in Saint Peters Church, County Louth, in the Archdiocese of Armagh, to venerate his relics and to learn about the saint’s extraordinary life story. Pilgrims pray for the sick and troubled, for family and friends. They fittingly turn to Saint Oliver, who was martyred for his faith in a time of political, religious and social turmoil, to pray for his intercession concerning conflict areas at home and abroad.
Saint Oliver, a former Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, was martyred in Tyburn, England, in 1681: hanged, drawn and quartered.
Excerpts of article by Phi Leo O'Reilly, L'OSSERVATOR ROMANO, JULY 28, 2017
This 'Persecution of the Church' is mentioned in the 3rd secret of Fatima but Our Lady stated, "In the End my Immaculate Heart will Triumph.'
Our Lady's message to Mirjana Soldo of August 2nd, 2017
"Dear children, According to the will of the Heavenly Father, as the mother of Him who loves you, I am here with you to help you to come to know Him and to follow Him. My Son has left you His foot-prints to make it easier for you to follow Him. Do not be afraid. Do not be uncertain, I am with you. Do not permit yourselves to be discouraged because much prayer and sacrifice are necessary for those who do not pray, do not love and do not know my Son. You help, by seeing your brothers in them. Apostles of my love, harken to my voice within you, feel my motherly love. Therefore pray, pray by doing, pray by giving, pray with love, pray in work and thoughts, in the name of my Son. All the more love that you give, so much more of it you will also receive. Love which emanates from love illuminates the world. Redemption is love, and love has no end. When my Son comes to the earth anew, He will look for love in your hearts. My children, many are the acts of love which He has done for you. I am teaching you to see them, to comprehend them and to thank Him by loving Him and always anew forgiving your neighbors. Because to love my Son means to forgive. My Son is not loved if the neighbor cannot be forgiven, if there is not an effort to comprehend the neighbor, if he is judged. My children, of what use is your prayer if you do not love and forgive? Thank you."
St. Paul was the man who first brought the Gospel to Ephesus. It was a great joy for him to realize that many Ephesians were touched by his preaching in a way that led them to conversion.
He knew it was not a result of his eloquence or his persuasion. However, he knew that he was sent by Christ to carry the message of the kingdom of heaven.
He was an instrument that Christ used for his work, and Christ's power surrounded the work of the development of a Christian community in Ephesus.
In the third chapter of his letter is one of the most beautiful of his prayers. It includes: May God give you the grace for your hidden self to grow strong May you be rooted in love and grounded in love. May you know Christ's love which surpasses all knowledge so that you may be filled with the fullness of God."
Some people are afraid that if their "hidden self" grew strong there would be another monster on the planet. From some past experience or from the pressures they feel about vindictiveness or self-hatred or anger and frustration, they feel that they have to stomp their "inner selves."
And there are many who feel that they are unworthy of God's direct intervention in their lives. Either they have distanced God because of the sense of guilt, or they are unable to hope or expect his mercy.
What frightens me further is the inner program some arrive at that "I need to do something to become worthy."
The basic notion of grace is that it is given freely. An act of God's mercy is that we are loved not because we are so good, but because God is so good.
When he touches our inner selves, his forgiveness clears away the debris and he finds in us the likeness of his eternal goodness.
In loyalty to God's will, we grow strong by an obedience which is not a servant's conformity, but a choice to let God's love have it's full way with us.
Our loyalty to God's will as we discern it, gives glory to God; it does the best thing we can possibly do for the good of the whole world, and it makes us grow in holiness.
That's it! To grow in holiness. In his will is our peace. That is the path to holy living.
May Christ give all of us that grace. Mshr. Peterson: Deceased. Pray for his canonization.
RASH OF INCIVILITY HAS DEEP ROOTS
The lead story in this issue of Catalyst is disturbing on many fronts. The rash of incivility is bad enough, but the uneven response to these moral outrages is also a serious problem. The etiology of this phenomenon runs deep in our culture.
The coarseness of our culture exploded in the 1960s and has only gotten worse. There are many causes.
Just prior to the 1960s, Harvard economist, John Kenneth Galbraith, wrote about the success of the private sector in his book, The Affluent Society. Released in 1958, it detailed how prosperity was transforming the nation following World War II. While "pockets of poverty" remained, middle class Americans were booming.
Affluence, historically speaking, is associated with moral relaxation. When times are tough, there is little time for anything but work; this instills a sense of self-discipline. When times get better, our moral muscles tend to atrophy as our leisure time expands. This is what happened in the 1960s-we got soft, dropping our moral guard.
The spike in the birth rate following World War II was significant, and by the 1960s the baby boomers were in high gear. Young people have always been prone to risk, so when their ranks swell, certain behaviors follow. Sexual experimentation, drug use, crime-these are all associated with youth. They certainly marked the culture of the 1960s.
The birth control pill became commercially available in 1960. This had a huge impact on sexual mores; allowing men and women to engage in premarital sex without fear of creating a family. They now felt free to indulge themselves, abandoning responsibilities attendant to intercourse.
The rights revolution of the 1960s initially focused on justice for African Americans, but it quickly became a rights crusade that helped to spur radical individualism. Court rulings undermined the locus of authority in civil society, awarding rights that undercut the ability of parents, teachers, community leaders, and the police to do their job. From relaxing the obscenity statutes to anointing prisoners with new rights, these judicial decisions wreaked havoc in the culture.
Prayer in the schools was banned in 1963, the effects of which were not readily apparent. Subsequently, the schools embraced values clarification, a "non-judgmental" approach to ethics which undercut traditional sources of morality. Everyone was now free to make up his own mind about right and wrong, setting in motion a crazy quilt pattern where right and wrong switched places. Moreover, the right of teachers to discipline unruly students broke down.
In the 1950s, TV viewers never saw the bedroom of Ralph and Alice in "The Honeymooners." A decade or two later, unmarried guys and gals were shown bed hopping. Next came a string of shows with gay characters, all of whom were depicted in a positive light. By contrast, Hollywood's depiction of priests and of Catholicism in general, was almost always negative.
The 1960s witnessed the beginning of the end of the mainline Protestant churches. One by one the Episcopalians, Methodists, Lutherans, Presbyterians - succumbed to the pressures of the dominant culture, adopting its secular values. They couldn't even stand up to abortion in the 1970s. Almost as bad, the Catholic Church relaxed its moral structures, and by the 1970s promiscuous gays entered the seminaries in droves, the result of which was the sexual abuse scandal. In addition, too many priests sought to be liked, thus abdicating their role as moral leaders.
These seven factors help to explain why our society is in deep trouble. The damage done to the culture is not irreversible, but it will take a massive shift in public opinion to reverse course.
Netflix, Sarah Silverman, Kathy Griffin, the New York Public Theater, Bill Maher-they are all a reflection of a society gone mad with radical individualism; elementary standards of decency have been violated with impunity. But at least the reaction against Griffin and Maher, and to a lesser extent the theater group, shows there is still a moral pulse.
The absence of outrage at Netflix and Silverman is a different story. We can blame the cultural elites all we want-they deserve to be fingered-but we must also point to Christians. Why are so many reluctant to speak out against these assaults on their religion?
Many are no longer practicing Protestants and Catholics, so they really don't care about the Christian bashing. Others just want to get along: their common refrain is, "it is what it is"- as if that were a mature way to deal with bigotry. Still others think that by pushing back they will look defensive and parochial in front of their "open-minded" colleagues and neighbors.
Even though the roots of incivility run deep, they are not cast in stone-they can be uprooted if enough people take action. If we remain passive, we can only expect more of the same. Better to fight than yield. William A. Donohue, Ph.D. President
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Bishop Fulton J. Sheen on the impact of the Fatima Apparitions
The Miracle of the Dancing Sun on October 13
Bishop Sheen stated, "The event itself might almost be called the birthday of the modern world because it was on that day the forces of good and evil seemed to reach their peak."
An important message in Lourdes is the Cross: The Blessed Mother repeats that the most important thing is to be happy in the other life, even though it is necessary to accept the Cross to achieve happiness.
Many who are sick will pray to the Lord and leave it into his hands. While this shows faith, scripture reminds us that we should call upon the elders of the church: James 5:14-15: Is any sick among you? Let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he has committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.
As we also read in I Corinthians 12: 9, 10 that the manifestation of the spirit is used for the general good In verse, 9 and 10 it states that some are given the gift of healing, through this one Spirit and toothers the gifts of miracles. Father Ralph A. DiOrio, Jr.
...but you will receive the power of the Holy Spirit which will come on you, and then you will be my witness not only in Jerusalem but throughout Judaea and Samaria, and indeed to earth's remotest end.
Mary, Undoer of Knots
O Virgin Mary, faithful Mother who never refuses to come to the aid of your children; Mother whose hands never cease to help, because they are moved by the loving kindness that exists in your Immaculate Heart; Cast your eyes of compassion upon me, and see the snarl of knots that exist in my life.
You know all the pains and sorrows caused by these tangled knots. Mary, my Mother, I entrust to your loving hands the entire ribbon of my life. In your hands there is no knot which cannot be undone.
Most holy Mother, pray for Divine Assistance to come to my aid. Take this knot (mention need) into your maternal hands this day; I beg you to undo it for the glory of God, once and for all.
In the name of your divine Son, Jesus Christ.
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