Friday, 29 October 2010

"In a world that glorifies horror and ugliness, the beauty of the saints fascinates today's young,"

Report  found here. ROME...Instead of dressing up as black cats or zombies, young faithful from some 30 Italian cities will spend October 31 hanging pictures of saints from their windows and balconies to celebrate the eve of All Saint's Day.  "We're not against Halloween as such, it's just that we celebrate All Saint's Day and want to share it with other young people," said Sara Bidinost, 23, a student from the Sentinels of the Morning group behind the initiative...The head of Sentinels of the Morning, Father Andrea Brugnoli said he got the idea to hang up images of saints from the modern obsession with appearance.
"These days people understand the language of beauty.... In a world that glorifies horror and ugliness, the beauty of the saints fascinates today's young," Brugnoli told Zenit Catholic news agency in Rome.

The pictures for this post, were found on this Wonderful blog, 'Under Her Starry Mantle'. This blog is so good for the heart, that cardiologists should prescribe a reading of it.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Padre Pio: "Don't let temptations frighten you, they are the trials of those souls whom God wants to put to the test..."

Mulier Fortis: Happy Feast Day...

Mulier Fortis: Happy Feast Day...

The novena prayer to St. Jude that has never been known to fail

Here is part of Mulier Fortis’ account of St. Jude’s miraculous intercession in her life.  “I was seriously ill when I came back to the Church: in constant pain, and almost immobilised, needing crutches to get around. I'd had several years' worth of attention from various doctors, surgeons and hospitals and I'd been told that it was probably all in my head... I finally had discovered a surgeon who believed I was suffering from something physically wrong, and duly went on the waiting list for an operation that might just work. Eventually.

After about a year on the list I rang the hospital to find out how things were progressing. The bed manager at the hospital had only bad news: due to funding problems, the theatre time for the whole orthopaedic department had been slashed to 25% of the normal caseload. She reported that I would be lucky to be called in for an operation before another nine months had passed, and more probably not before a year.

As I put the phone down, I thought that the situation was hopeless... which made me remember St Jude. I had a copy of the novena prayer from the Shrine of St Jude in Faversham, and I decided to give it a go.

I was so ill that I didn't actually manage to complete the novena (I was taking morphine tablets and concentrating on anything for any length of time was a little difficult) but on what would have been the ninth day, a letter arrived from the hospital telling me that I was scheduled for surgery at the end of the month, and asking me to ring to confirm.

Unsurprisingly, I rang back immediately. I spoke to the bed manager again, and asked her why there had been the sudden change - she had been so definite the last time we spoke. She told me that she had no idea why I had been bumped to the top of the queue, the surgeon had just told her that I would be next.

I was just managing to go to Mass each day at this point, so I went to say "thank you." I was utterly convinced that I had experienced a miracle, though part of me was still terrified that nothing would actually work. You can imagine how I felt when the Gospel was read out, with words that went straight to my heart: "Pick up your bed and walk."  Read the full account here.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Acquaint your family and friends with Padre Pio in less than three minutes

This tiny video gives an essential sketch of Padre Pio’s life, and in under three minutes, you may present his life to your family and friends, who may know nothing of this great saint. Padre Pio’s character and personality is very clearly presented – the video includes that Padre Pio underwent an operation without anaesthetic. He feared that if he was drugged, the surgeon could and would sneak a peek at his stigmata. So greatly ‘embarrassed’ was Padre Pio on account of visibly carrying Christ’s wounds, that he prayed to God to make them invisible.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Padre Pio’s Advice: Pray to St. Michael the Archangel Part Two

For Part One see here. A possessed child shouted at all hours of the day and night in the hotel in St. Givoanni Rotondo. The little girl’s mother brought her to Padre Pio, in the hope that Padre Pio would free the afflicted child from the demon. The child shrieked in the Church too. One day when Padre Pio had finished hearing confessions, he met the child that howled so pitifully in front of him. The child was being held back with difficulty by some men. Padre Pio commanded, “stop! Enough!” The child dropped to the floor as if sleeping. Padre Pio instructed a doctor to bring the little girl to St. Michael, a sanctuary of Monte Sant’Angelo.  A group took the child to this cave where St. Michael had appeared. The child woke up but no one was able to bring her near the altar of the the Archangel. A monk placed the little girl’s hand and touched the altar. The child sank to the ground.
  Minutes later she got up as if nothing had happened and asked her mother; ‘could you buy me an ice-cream?’ The group returned to speak to Padre Pio and thank him for telling them to go to the altar of St. Michael. But Padre Pio cautioned the child’s mother, ‘say to your husband not to curse anymore, otherwise the demon will return.’There are two important points from this account. One is that St. Michael chases demons away. Two – fallen angels are close to those who curse. Here is a more detailed version of this account.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

The Simpsons – Catholic?

During this past week, an Irish newspaper (not on-line) invited me to ponder whether or not Homer et al are Catholics. Here are some light-hearted, off-the-cuff reflections.
Homer Simpson’s had a full week – posters of him decorated giant parcels of drugs seized in Mexico. The posters had the caption ‘I’m going to get high, dude!’ And L’Osservatore Romano proclaimed Homer (and Bart) to be ‘true’ Catholics.
Some infuriated Catholics stayed up all night writing on the internet to complain that Homer is not Catholic! Their beef is how a Vatican newspaper can even suggest that Homer – the beer bellied, blathering buffoon with an IQ of 2 is one of us! But steady on! Homer isn’t the devil incarnate.
Are the Vatican journalists tripping on too much vino or is there any truth to support that Homer and Bart are Catholics? During one 2005 episode, Bart had a Catholic awakening after meeting the sugary-sweet Fr Sean, who was voiced by Irish actor Liam Neeson. Bart was drawn by the Catholic comic books, puh-please, the boy who is anything but innocent is drawn by comics? Homer is enticed to become a Catholic by pancakes and bingo. As usual – Homer is lured by food, not faith. Homer then spends hours confessing millions of sins to Fr. Sean. The wife Marge is terrified by all this because she doesn’t like the Catholic ban on contraception and is worried that she will go to Protestant Heaven while Homer will go to Catholic Heaven. Marge enlists the help of the Protestant Reverend Lovejoy, and together they kidnap Bart and Homer while they are getting instruction First Holy Communion.

But Bart wasn't quite altar boy material, having once said to Marge ‘Mom, can we go Catholic so we can get Communion wafers and booze?’ No wonder the Vatican newspaper previously praised The Simpsons for showing ‘the spiritual confusion of our times’! There’s more hope for Homer since he made such an honest confession. But Homer endlessly humiliates supercilious, scrupulously sola scriptura Ned… Cartoon character Ned Flanders is thought to be the best known TV Christian of all time and foremost among his fans is the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams! This is one reason why the Vatican acknowledged The Simpsons major influence – most ordinary people are more likely to know the life details of Ned than they are to know their own neighbours.
But according to the Vatican newspaper, Homer keeps his Catholicism secret. I’m not convinced of Homer’s closet Catholicism. There was the time Homer decided to become a Christian missionary in the South Pacific and was put on a plane with water coolers of holy water. When Homer arrives he opens a casino which he calls “The Lucky Savage.” Soon all the natives are miniature Homers; they gulp down beer, gamble and throw punches. Homer feels remorse for ruining the native’s unspoiled and moral way of life and in penance he builds a chapel. Unfortunately, Homer rings the chapel bell too loudly and starts an earthquake.

But would Homer make an devout Catholic? The fact that he divorced Marge so that he could re-marry her would count against him. Homer in a bid to make a quick buck became was an internet ordained minister and opened a gay wedding chapel in his garage. The devil previously took Homer to court demanding Homer’s soul. Homer had previously promised the devil his soul in exchange for a doughnut. Really, Homer needs an exorcist.
But Homer’s ‘conversion’ to Catholicism isn’t meant to be serious. Nothing on The Simpsons is ever serious! The Simpsons are puppets that takeoff all aspects of society. They are a lippy and political version of The Muppets. It’s not that we’re meant to imitate The Simpsons – Homer and family are too busy imitating and ridiculing us. Homer represents the fast food lifestyle, while Bart and his ‘eat my shorts’ back-chat is the rude, crude and proudly brash boy of today. Some years ago, I did an English essay for uni where I compared some sober, severe Victorian characters with the boisterous and bratty Bart. I got high marks/a good grade (rare for me…) because the person marking my essay said he had never understood the Victorian characters to be so austere and bleak before they were put against The Simpsons.
L'Osservatore Romano's report claiming that Homer is a Catholic was optimistic and a bit too hopeful! Because – brace yourselves – Homer et al are just pixels transformed into cartoons. They don’t have eternal souls and we may as well be arguing that Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck are good Catholics. Real life Homers are, however welcome in the Catholic Church. But if anyone were to eat as many doughnuts and guzzle gallons of Duff they would hardly fit in a church door, never mind a confession box. D’oh!

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Padre Pio thanked Pope Paul VI for Humanae Vitae; St Pio praised Humanae Vitae’s ‘clear and decisive words’ Part One

In October 1968 L’Osservatore Romano published a letter that Padre Pio wrote to Pope Paul VI. Padre Pio wrote;
‘I know that Your heart suffers much these days on account of the happenings in the Church: for peace in the world, for the great needs of its peoples; but above all, for the lack of obedience of some, even Catholics, to the lofty teachings which You, assisted by the Holy Spirit and in the name of God, have given us. I offer Your Holiness my daily prayers and sufferings, the insignificant but sincere offering of the least of your sons, asking the Lord to comfort you with His grace to continue along the direct yet often burdensome wayin defense of those eternal truths which can never change with the times.In the name of my spiritual sons and of the "Praying Groups" I thank Your Holiness for the clear and decisive words You have spoken in the recent encyclical, "Humanae Vitae", and I reaffirm my own faith and my unconditional obedience to Your inspired directives. May God grant truth to triumph, and, may pence be given to His Church, tranquility to the people of the earth, and health and prosperity to Your Holiness, so that when these disturbing clouds pass over, the Reign of God may triumph in all hearts, through the Apostolic Works of the Supreme Shepherd of all Christians.’ For the full text of the letter, see here.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Satan went into Padre Pio's confessional and pretended to confess his sins

The prince of darkness acted as a suavely dressed, courteous young man and went into Padre Pio’s confessional…  This is beloved St. Pio’s own account:  “One day, while I was hearing confessions, a man came to the confessional where I was. He was tall, handsome, dressed with some refinement and he was kind and polite. He started to confess his sins, which were of every kind: against God, against man and against the morals. All the sins were obnoxious! I was disoriented, in fact for all the sins that he told me, but I responded to him with God’s Word, the example of the Church, and the morals of the Saints.   But the enigmatic penitent answered me word for word, justifying his sins, always with extreme ability and politeness.  He excused all the sinful actions, making them sound quite normal and natural, even comprehensible on the human level.. He continued this way with the sins that were gruesome against God, Our Lady, the Saints, always using disrespectful round-about argumentation. He kept this up even with with the foulest of sins that could be conjured in the mind of a most sinful man.  The answers that he gave me with such skilled subtlety and malice surprised me. I wondered: who is he? What world does he come from? And I tried to look at him in order to read something on his face. At the same time I concentrated on every word he spoke, trying to discover any clue to his identity.. But suddenly; through a vivid, radiant and internal light I clearly recognized who he was. With a sound and imperial tone I told him: “Say long live Jesus, long live Mary!” As soon as I pronounced these sweet and powerful names, Satan instantly disappeared in a trickle of fire, leaving behind him an unbearable stench.” 

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Pro-life cartoon reminiscent of Padre Pio’s chilling words of warning

Paul Nichols' excellent cartoon (found here) reminds me of a chilling warning from Padre Pio. When someone told Padre Pio that they didn't believe in hell, he would be very straight with them and say, "you'll believe in it when you get there." I called this a 'chilling' warning, maybe it would be better described as  'fiery'.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Benedict XVI: Media Must Form and Inform

The Christian faith, the Pope has said, shares a fundamental structure with communication: the fact that the means and the message coincide. Indeed the Son of God is, at one and the same time, the…

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Rabbi Boteach: 'The contempt shown to parents of large families'

By Rabbi Boteach
A funny thing happened to me the other day when my wife and I had, thank God, another baby (a boy). Many of my friends didn't seem all that happy for me. Sure, they went through the motions of smiles and congratulations. But it was evident that many thought me insane. Why would a young man and his wife ruin their lives with eight children? Who could afford the Jewish day-school bills? Didn't we want to live life a little, and not just be burdened with kids?
It got downright surreal when a European film company, pressed me, while my wife was in labor, to finish shooting a segment that had an urgent deadline (I obviously told them they were insane). And the next day, I was mildly criticized by a Jewish organization which was supposed to be hosting me for a lecture for having to cancel on them because the lecture clashed with the baby's bris.
I don't mind that the world doesn't really love babies, just that it pretends to....As a father of a large family, I find myself apologizing wherever I go, as if I committed a crime. The frequent and loaded stares from scornful onlookers imply that the famine in Africa was caused by my selfish insistence on overpopulating the earth...Rich countries, by contrast, prefer to increase their standard of living rather than the number of the living....A Christian mother of six once wrote to me, "I find it troubling to worry about getting pregnant again ... because I don't want to face the criticism of friends and family. Why do people not see children as a blessing?" A fair question which deserves a fair response....A world that has lost its innocence has trouble appreciating beings who are innocent....By just looking at my children, I become more innocent. By loving them, I become more noble. By spending my money on them rather than myself, I find transcendence....I am often asked by women dating men how to tell whether they are marriage material. I tell them, "See if he enjoys children." A man who loves children is playful. He will spend his life joking with his wife because he loves to see her laugh, and will flirt with her because he loves to see her smile. Read the full article here.

Monday, 4 October 2010

Rosary Crusade from Victoria to South Kensington October 16th

Rosary Gardens is very near where I live, and it's comforting that a beautiful street is called after the prayer that means 'Garden of Roses'.Praying the Rosary keeps the mysteries of our salvation alive in our hearts and minds. On October 16th when we walk through the London streets on a bustling Saturday afternoon, peacefully reciting our Rosary, we will demonstrate the importance that this prayer has in our lives. Many times I have wanted to take photos of the street but the English weather was too dark and  wet, thankfully a sunny day dawned and I took the photos for this blog. 

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Padre Pio Quotes that have eternal significance

"If we only knew how God regards this Sacrifice, we would risk our lives to be present at a single Mass."
"Prayer is the best weapon we possess. It is the key that opens the heart of God."
"It would be easier for the world to survive without the sun than to do so without the Holy Mass."
"Pray, hope, and don't worry. Worry is useless. God is merciful and will hear your prayer."

"Hold on tightly to the Rosary. Be very grateful to the Madonna because it was She who gave us Jesus."
"In my greatest sufferings, it seems to me that I no longer have a mother on this earth, but a very compassionate one in Heaven."
"Always keep close to God. In Him I am with you more than you can know."
"Place your heart gently in Our Lord's wounds. Have great confidence in His mercy for He will never abandon you."
'I love my Spiritual Children as much as my own soul and even more.'
'Once I take a soul on, I also take on their entire family as my spiritual children.'
'If one of my spiritual children ever goes astray, I shall leave my flock and seek him out.'

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Funerale di Padre Pio a San Giovanni Rotondo

Confession: I felt tears circle my eyes during the close-up of Padre Pio in his coffin. But we may be comforted by his words, 'my real mission will begin after my death"

Padre Pio refused absolution to some women whose sin was abortion

Some people are horrified that Padre Pio told some women that they were not contrite enough to receive absolution. This is one account: One day, Padre Pellegrino asked Padre Pio: "Father, this morning you denied absolution to a lady who confessed to an abortion. Why have you been so rigorous with this poor unfortunate? ". Padre Pio said: "The day, in which people, frightened by the economic boom, from physical damages or from economic sacrifices, will lose the horror of the abortion, it will be the most terrible day for humanity. Abortion is not only homicide but also suicide. And with these people we see on the point of committing two crimes…do we want to show our faith? Do we want to save them? "
"Why suicide?” Padre Pellegrino asked.
"You would understand this suicide of the human race, if with the eye of reason, you could see the Heart populated by old men and depopulated by children: burnt as a desert.”
It wasn’t as simple as saying that Padre Pio wasn’t ‘nice’ because he declined absolution to the woman. Padre Pio could read souls, and from reading this woman’s soul he knew that she was not ready to receive absolution. Perhaps she was not contrite enough.
Women that I have grown up with have had abortions, gone to confession, received absolution...These same women have remarked to me “my abortion was a good thing because I was able to think more about myself.” Or, “it’s just too bad that so many can’t have kids, and I thought of adoption but abortion got it over and done with sooner.” While I am no one to judge, do they sound contrite? Many years ago a girl said to me ‘you know my abortion helped me grow…it was grand.’ She shrugged and smiled.
In my spontaneously rude and blunt way I blurted, ‘but it stopped your baby growing forever…’
‘How would you know, you’ve never had an abortion?’
But personally I, the writer of this blog was refused absolution because I vowed in the confessional that I would never forgive some girls who had bullied me at school. I snorted and told the priest that ‘it’s not a sin never to forgive a bully’. I mocked the sacrament to the priest. I was fourteen at the time, and sassy, cheeky and had no clue about the meaning of absolution. The priest, a good Franciscan in a brown habit, asked me ‘you need to rethink that. You must forgive them.’
He was right. Confession is for people to confess the wrong they have done – not to defend the wrong they wish to persist in.

And as a woman who was refused absolution, I’m grateful that the priest had the guts and the fortitude to stand his ground, and tell me – gently – that he could not give me absolution.
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