Message of the Blessed Virgin Mary
June 25, 2021
"Dear Children! My heart is joyful because through these years I see your love and openness to my call. Today I am calling all of you: pray with me for peace and freedom, because Satan is strong and by his deception, wants to lead away all the more hearts from my motherly heart. That is why decide for God so that it may be good for you on the earth which God gave you. Thank you for having responded to my call.
Baseball: Americas Pastime
The Power of Witness Found In Baseball and Faith
Baseball is a game of witness. There's personality, humor, character and quotes. Think of Yogi Berra — "Baseball is ninety percent mental and the other half is physical. Babe Ruth—"Every strike brings me closer to the next home run." Pete Rose — I’d walk through hell in a gasoline suit to play baseball." There's something about these players that just captivates us.
Consider Joe DiMaggio's beautiful quote. "I played my best every day. You never know when someone may be seeing you play for the first time." DiMaggio knew that the game of baseball wasn't just for his entertainment. He understood that there were little eyes watching him play. DiMaggio also realized that he and his teammates represented a generation — The Greatest Generation.
Every time I read DiMaggio's words I can't but think of one of my spiritual role models —Pope St. Paul VI. He was pope from June 1963 to August of 1978. Paul VI and DiMaggio both understood the power of seeing another person in action (whether it be a baseball player or a believer in Christ). Paul VI wrote, "Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses." He stated this in 1975, but it's even more relevant today.
I'm not convinced every young ball player is interested in the rules, the drills, the analytics, and the specific techniques of baseball. But I firmly believe every ball player was interested in the game of baseball when watching DiMaggio's remarkable swing. And, these young kids sprinted home after seeing DiMaggio play at the stadium, picked up their bats from inside the garage and played baseball. These young kids unknowingly entered deeper into the rules, drills, analytics, and techniques of baseball. DiMaggio's witness spoke to them and sent them on mission.
The same follows in the Christian life — not everyone is interested in the doctrines, dogmas, papal documents, and history of Catholicism. But, everyone is engaged with the witness of Mother Teresa's charity in feeding the poorest of the poor in Calcutta, India. Everyone is attracted to the witness of Pope St. John Paul II when he forgave the man who tried to assassinate him. Everyone is intrigued by the witness of Pope Francis kissing the forehead of a severely disfigured man. Witnesses speak.
And, like the young ball player who picks up his bat in the garage after seeing DiMaggio play, the Christian picks up his Cross with a renewed focus after encountering a witness of Christ. Like the ball player who unknowingly enters deeper into the rules, drills, etc. of baseball, the Christian also enters into the great tradition naturally beautifully, and powerful. Such is the power of witnesses — they send us on mission. DiMaggio said, "I played my best every day. You never know when someone may be seeing you play for the first time." The same goes for the Christian — you never know when someone may be seeing an authentic Christian for the first time.
*Ben Daghir is a transitional deacon for the Diocese of Erie from St. Marys, Pa. He played pitcher for the Elk Catholic Crusaders in 2010-2011 and coached SM Little League for 4 years. Ben was a pitcher for 2009 St. Mary's Senior League State Championship team. He currently studies at St. Mary's Seminary in Baltimore. His favorite team is the Pittsburgh Pirates and favorite baseball players are former Tim Lincecum and Sandy Kou fax.
*This article is an adapted version of a homily preached by Deacon Ben Daghir on July 4, 2021.
Today we celebrate Independence Day as a nation. It’s beautiful to see so many of you wearing red, blue, and white. You know, throughout Catholic history red and blue have always signified humanity and divinity. Take a moment and look at an image of the Virgin Mary - she's always wrapped in blue. This is because she is the Mother of God – it’s only fitting that she's wrapped in blue. Notice, too, that Jesus is often portrayed with both red and blue. Jesus is both human and divine. "The word was made flesh and dwelt among us" - we hear these words in the opening of John's Gospel. The word and flesh (blue and red) embrace in the person of Jesus without any mixing, mingling, or confusion.
Here's an image to ponder: there is a remarkable encounter in the Old Testament between God and Moses. Moses sees a burning bush that is on fire, but the fire is not consuming the bush.
Moses, of course, hears God from this strange, intriguing bush. God answers him with, "I am who I am." The early Church Fathers saw this image as a perfect illustration to understand how divinity and humanity are not at odds with one another, but rather can fit together without any mixing, mingling, or confusion.
In other words, when God enters into creation he does not diminish the integrity of the creature he becomes. Also, God does not lose any of his divinity in the process. This image of the burning bush points to the most peculiar, interesting, strange, and remarkable doctrine of the Catholic faith - the Incarnation. God enters into our human condition in the person of Jesus Christ. Like the burning bush, the divinity of God is not undermined in the Incarnation and the human he becomes is also not diminished.
The red and the blue, much like the United States flag, can be side by side - without mixing, mingling or confusion.
This incarnate movement of God enters into our humanity through the sacraments. We receive God, and our humanity is not diminished, restricted, or manipulated. Rather, we become fully alive. St. Irenaeus once stated, "Gloria Dei est homo vivens" (The glory of God is the human being fully alive). In other words, just as God entered into the burning bush without diminishing the bush itself; God became human without diminishing the human being he became. So too, God enters into our lives without diminishing us but rather enabling, illuminating, and enhancing who we truly are.
I immediately think of St. Paul's words in his letter to the Galatians, "I no longer live, but Christ lives in me." Paul understood this encounter with God - that he could become fully alive and be filled with the virtues of faith, hope, and charity. In other words, he could have remained just a bush, but he accepted the invitation to be on fire. Such is the power of Christ.
You can see the logic that flows from here: the bush, Christ himself, and Christ living in us.
The same logic flows for God entering into our country and helping us to thrive as a united nation. The blue and the red (as our American flag suggests) can be together - divinity and humanity are not at odds with one another. Every one of the Founding Fathers had a Christian, biblical worldview. They understood that it is only with God (who is the source of life, liberty, and happiness) that a nation such as the United States of America could become a reality.
President Abraham Lincoln, who brought this nation together during her most vulnerable, weakened chapter. had a Christian, biblical worldview. He understood that God is not a threat to our human flourishing but rather the sheer grace, the sheer fire of this nation.
Think of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. - he also had a Christian, biblical worldview. Consider his remarkable "I have a Dream" speech from 1963, "When we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children...will be able to join hands." Only the biblical imagination can conceive of this vision - of humanity and divinity in an embrace which endures.
All divisions can only be cured and healed through the embrace of humanity and divinity. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. knew this deep within his mind and heart.
It’s this biblical vision of humanity and divinity embracing which brings us to the roots of America on this Independence Day.
Our nation has many threats, and I have no desire to be a prophet of doom. Predictions of doom are simply not helpful. There are false philosophical ideas though which have bled into this nation and throughout the world.
I think of Ludwig Feuerbach who stated that God is simply a projection of our own, idealized self. In other words, "I wish I were all powerful" so I project this image of an omnipotent God. Or, "I wish I were all knowing" so I project this image of an omniscient God. He even went as far to say that the "no to God is the yes to humanity." Feuerbach encouraged people to throw out the projections, stop praying to a fantasy, and go realize yourself. For Feuerbach, the burning bush was simply a figment of Moses imagination.
I also think of Jean-Paul Sartre who saw the embrace of divinity and humanity as a threat to the human person’s freedom. He stated it in this syllogism, "If God exists, then I am not free. But I am free, therefore - God does not exist" Simply put, God is a threat to Sartre's understanding of freedom. Blue and red cannot be side by side but rather one restricts and even chokes the other.
These philosophical ideas of Feuerbach and Sartre are no longer simply ideas in university classrooms, but rather have bled into every facet of society. These ideas are quite present in the United States of America today.
The great Christian claim is that God became man and that humanity and divinity are not at odds with one another. Paul articulates this downward trajectory of God entering into our humanity like this, "Though he was in the form of God, Jesus did not deem equality with God something to be grasped at. Rather, he emptied himself and took the form of a slave...it was thus that he humbled himself obediently accepting even death, death on a cross" (Philippians 2:6-11).
Peace. Justice. Equality. Liberty. Unity. Sacrifice. Truth. All of these virtues and values that we hold so dear to our American hearts are found in the embrace of divinity and humanity - in and through the person of Christ. It’s the sacrificial, downward movement of divinity into our fallen state and the upward movement of humanity toward the heavens which provides the true soil for our nation.
Take a look at our American flag when you get the chance - notice how the blue and the red only compliment one another. Christianity, philosophy, and history couldn't agree more. Happy Independence Day.
Seminarian of the Diocese of Erie
"History is God's Providence in Human Affairs" St. Pope John Paul II
Our Lady's Message July 25, 2021
"Dear children! I am calling you to be prayer for all those who do not pray. Little children, witness with your lives the joy that you are mine and God will heed your prayers and give you peace in this peaceless world where pride and selfishness reign. Little children, you be generous and be the love of my love, so that pagans can feel that you are mine and convert to my immaculate Heart. Thank you for having responded to my call."
Deacon Ben's Corner
'What does it mean to say 'Amen' when the priest or extraordinary minister gives me Communion?' We know how Communion works: the priest or extraordinary minister says, "The Body of Christ" and we respond with "Amen." But, what does that response 'Amen' really mean?
The Body of Christ (the Eucharist) is the source and summit of our faith. Everything draws its strength and meaning from it and everything is oriented to it. The response 'Amen" is an acceptance and an acknowledgement not only of the body and blood of Jesus in the Eucharist, but also the doctrines of the Catholic faith.
That is why, for example, non-Catholics do not receive the Eucharist. You may have wondered this at weddings which are the most common places to witness this type of situation. People often ask, 'Well, wouldn't we want everyone to receive Jesus?' This is a great question and it requires a certain perspective to understand the Church's teaching.
Imagine a Catholic priest holding the Body of Christ in front of a non-Catholic and saying, 'The Body of Christ."
This question is implied to the non-Catholic, 'Do you believe in the Catholic Church's doctrine on the Trinity, scripture, sacraments, original sin, morality, the Virgin Mary, ethics, the saints, Catholic Social Teaching, sexuality, the papacy, human nature, etc.' It would be incredibly unfair to put a non-Catholic in this type of situation.
In other words, when we respond with 'Amen' to 'The Body of Christ" we are acknowledging that this is, in fact, the Body and Blood of Jesus and that we are in communion with the Roman Catholic Church. We all may have to broaden our understanding of what we are really saying when we hear 'The Body of Christ." We are accepting the truth of Catholicism in all its fullness. I challenge you this week to take some time and think about the response -"Amen" - when receiving the Eucharist.
To hear Our lady's Message, very early, by phone, call 1-814-787-5683 (LOVE). Usually available the 26th of each month. Prayer requests received at this number are given to the visionary, VICKA, so that she may offer them to Our Lady. Prayer petitions can also be hand written and sent in a sealed envelope to: The Holy Family, Inc. P.O. Box 442, St. Marys, PA 15857-0442. They are forwarded to Vicka who presents them to Our Lady.
St. Pope John Paul II "...Be not afraid-Go out into the deep...