The Biggest Catholic News Stories of 2014

December 17, 2014

Tens of thousands of pro-lifers, mostly young people, ‘March for Life’ in Washington, D.C.

A report by a U.N. committee on children criticizes the Church’s teachings on homosexuality, contraception, and abortion.

Nearly 200 associated Catholic groups file a class-action lawsuit against the HHS contraceptive-abortifacient-sterilization insurance coverage mandate.

Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul the Great are canonized by Pope Francis, with Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in attendance.

A planned satanic ‘Black Mass’ at Harvard University is canceled following a strong public outcry.

Vatican theologians approve a miracle for the beatification of Bishop Fulton Sheen (however, the process is indefinitely suspended in September due to an inter-diocesan impasse.)

The U.S. Supreme Court rules 6 to 3 in favor of Hobby Lobby’s religious liberty (boding well for Catholic religious conscience cases.)

After atrocities against Christians and Muslims, the U.S. begins airstrikes on ISIS.

Bishop Blase Cupich of Spokane, WA is named the new archbishop of Chicago, replacing the ailing Cardinal Francis George.
Extraordinary Synod on the Family at the Vatican, October, 2014
The Extraordinary Synod on the Family meets at the Vatican and reaffirms Catholic teachings.

Cardinal Raymond Burke is appointed the new patron of the Knights of Malta.

Pope Francis announces a consistory to name new cardinals in February of 2015.

Who is John? — 3rd Sunday of Advent—Year B

December 15, 2014

St. John the Baptist PreachingGospel: John 1:6-8, 19-28

Who are you?
“I am not the Christ.”
Are you Elijah?
“I am not.”
Are you the Prophet?

While St. Peter denied Christ three times to his shame, St. John the Baptist denied himself three times to his glory.

Questions & Answers About Advent

November 26, 2014

What is an “advent?”

An “advent” is a coming or arrival, especially of something extremely important. It comes from the Latin word for “arrival.”

What does Advent season prepare for?

The coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas and at the end of the world.

How many years ago was Jesus born?

About 2,014 years ago. That event is fittingly the basis our calendar, for Jesus’ Incarnation is the center of history.

When will Jesus come again in glory?

We do not know precisely, so we must always be ready and prepared for Him.

Why do Isaiah & St. John the Baptist feature in our Sunday readings?

These two prophets preached the coming of the Jewish Messiah and the Kingdom of God He would establish.

What does purple symbolize?

Purple is an ancient symbol for royalty. Jesus will come to us as the King of kings.

Gaudete Sunday Advent CandlesWhy an Advent wreath?

The evergreen branches woven into a circle symbolize eternity and everlasting life.

Why four Advent candles?

They count the four Sundays that precede Christmas.

Why is one candle different?

One candle is rose-colored to mark the 3rd Sunday of Advent.

What is special about the 3rd Sunday?

It marks (more or less) the halfway point on our journey to Christmas. It is called Gaudete Sunday.

What does “Gaudete” mean?

Gaudete means “rejoice” in Latin.

“Long Live Christ the King!”

November 22, 2014

     We tend to think of Mexico as one of the most Catholic countries around, but for a time in 1920’s it was illegal to celebrate the Mass there. That did not stop priests like Blessed Miguel Pro, S.J. from ministering to people clandestinely. After many close calls, Fr. Pro was captured by the police and sentenced to death on false charges that he was somehow connected to a bombing assassination plot.

Blessed Miguel Pro before the firing squad, November 23, 1927.

     When he was led out for his execution by firing squad, Fr. Pro blessed the soldiers, knelt and quietly prayed for a time. He declined a blindfold and faced his executioners with a crucifix in one hand and a rosary in the other. He held out his arms in imitation of the crucified Christ and shouted, “May God have mercy on you! May God bless you! Lord, you know that I am innocent! With all my heart I forgive my enemies!” Just before the firing squad was ordered to shoot, he proclaimed, “Viva Cristo Rey!” (“Long live Christ the King!”) When the initial shots failed to kill him, a soldier shot him point-blank. The anti-Catholic government had a photographer on hand to capture these moments for propaganda purposes, but soon after the images were published their possession was made illegal; seeing the Catholic priest, dying bravely and faithfully, was an inspiration to the oppressed people.

Acknowledging Christ As Our King

November 22, 2014

Sophie Scholl Arrest     Imagine if the United States of America had no protections for religious freedom. Imagine if on your way to Mass today you were pulled over by secret police and put under arrest. When you ask, “What have I done,” they reply, “You’re accused of being a believing Catholic Christian.” The police have had you under intense surveillance for several weeks; wire-tapping your phone, monitoring your computer, searching your personal belongings, and recording your movements and activities. Imagine yourself in this situation and consider this question: when all of the evidence is presented against you at trial, will there be enough evidence to find you guilty of being a believing Catholic Christian?

Could their informants testify that you observe Fridays as a day of penance and Sundays as a day of rest, that you faithfully go to Mass and frequent the sacrament of reconciliation? Could anyone testify that they heard you say positive things about Jesus Christ or speak up for the Catholic faith when it was mocked or criticized in your presence? Could they put into evidence some rosary, Bible, or other Catholic book marked with your fresh fingertips? Would they have hidden-camera footage of you praying before meals at a restaurant? Would they have grainy night-vision footage of you praying before going to bed, or first thing in the morning, making the tell-tale sign of the cross.

Sophie Scholl TrialThe judge, looking down from his bench, says, “It is alleged that you were picked up on your way to Mass. We realize that people get mixed-up with these hateful superstitions for different reasons. Maybe you went there unthinkingly, out of custom or habit. Perhaps you felt pressured by your relatives or neighbors. The punishment for being found guilty of being a believing Catholic is grave, but if you would simply acknowledge your mistake and renounce Jesus Christ we will let you go.”

How would you answer? Our Lord Jesus Christ tells us:

Everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father. But whoever denies me before others, I will deny before my heavenly Father.” (Matthew 10:32-33)

We may never face red martyrdom, but we decide whether or not to acknowledge Jesus Christ as our King in many little ways. As Jesus says:

The person who is faithful in very small matters is also faithful in great ones; and the person who is dishonest in very small matters is also dishonest in great ones.” (Luke 16:10)

Prayers of the Faithful / Petitions / Intercessions (Year A)

November 22, 2014

1st Sunday Advent, Year A (Dec 1, 2013)

3rd Sunday Advent, Year A (Dec 15, 2013)

4th Sunday Advent, Year A (Dec 22, 2013)

Christmas, Year A (Dec 25, 2013)

Feast of the Holy Family, Year A (Dec 29, 2013)

Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, Year A (Jan 1, 2014)

Solemnity of the Epiphany, Year A (Jan 5, 2014)

Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, Year A (Jan 12, 2014)

3rd Sunday Ordinary Time, Year A (Jan 26, 2014)

Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, Year A (Feb 2, 2014)

5th Sunday Ordinary Time, Year A (Feb 9, 2014)

6th Sunday Ordinary Time, Year A (Feb 16, 2014)

7th Sunday Ordinary Time, Year A (Feb 23, 2014)

8th Sunday Ordinary Time, Year A (Mar 2, 2014)

1st Sunday Lent, Year A (Mar 9, 2014)

2nd Sunday Lent, Year A (Mar 16, 2014)

3rd Sunday Lent, Year A (Mar 23, 2014)

4th Sunday Lent, Year A (Mar 30, 2014)

5th Sunday Lent, Year A (Apr 6, 2014)

Palm Sunday, Year A (Apr 13, 2014)

Holy Thursday, Year A (April 17, 2014)

Easter Sunday, Year A (Apr 20, 2014)

Divine Mercy Sunday, Year A (Apr 27, 2014)

3rd Sunday of Easter, Year A (May 4, 2014)

4th Sunday of Easter, Year A (May 11, 2014)

5th Sunday of Easter, Year A (May 18, 2014)

6th Sunday of Easter, Year A (May 25, 2014)

7th Sunday of Easter, Year A (June 1, 2014)

Pentecost Sunday, Year A (June 8, 2014)

Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity (June 15, 2014)

Solemnity of Corpus Christi (June 22, 2014)

Solemnity of Saints Peter & Paul (June 29, 2014)

14th Sunday Ordinary Time, Year A (July 6, 2014)

15th Sunday Ordinary Time, Year A (July 13, 2014)

16th Sunday Ordinary Time, Year A (July 20, 2014)

17th Sunday Ordinary Time, Year A (July 27, 2014)

18th Sunday Ordinary Time, Year A (Aug 3, 2014)

19th Sunday Ordinary Time, Year A (Aug 10, 2014)

Solemnity of the Assumption, Year A (Aug 15, 2014)

20th Sunday Ordinary Time, Year A (Aug 17, 2014)

21st Sunday Ordinary Time, Year A (Aug 24, 2014)

22nd Sunday Ordinary Time, Year A (Aug 31, 2014)

23rd Sunday Ordinary Time, Year A (Sept 7, 2014)

Feast of the Holy Cross, Year A (Sept 14, 2014)

25th Sunday Ordinary Time, Year A (Sept 21, 2014)

26th Sunday Ordinary Time, Year A (Sept 28, 2014)

27th Sunday Ordinary Time, Year A (Oct 5, 2014)

28th Sunday Ordinary Time, Year A (Oct 12, 2014)

29th Sunday Ordinary Time, Year A (Oct 19, 2014)

30th Sunday Ordinary Time, Year A (Oct 26, 2014)

Solemnity of All Saints, Year A (Nov 1, 2014)

Feast of All Souls, Year A (Nov 2, 2014)

Feast of the Dedication of St. John Lateran (Nov 9, 2014)

33rd Sunday Ordinary Time, Year A (Nov 16, 2014)

Solemnity of Christ the King (Nov 23, 2014)

Was the Book of Revelation Written for Us?

November 17, 2014

Monday, 33rd Week in Ordinary Time—Year II
Readings: Revelation 1, Luke 18:35-43

     The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave to him, to show his servants what must happen soon. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who gives witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ by reporting what he saw. Blessed is the one who reads aloud and blessed are those who listen to this prophetic message and heed what is written in it, for the appointed time is near.

Revelation’s island of Patmos and its seven churches in Asia Minor (or modern-day Turkey)

        So begins the most misunderstood book of the Bible. The Book of Revelation speaks of “what must happen soon” and of an appointed time which is “near,” but to whom is it speaking? Some answer this question historical-critically; it is addressing seven particular churches in Asia Minor during the first or second century. Others answer eschatologically; it is describing the wonders and travails awaiting the generation which will immediately precede Jesus’ return. But what about the many generations who come and go between those two bookend eras of Christian history? Was Revelation addressed or applicable to them? In what sense was its prophetic message truly “near” or “soon” for all that time? The Book of Revelation involves specific historical contexts in the past and describes a historical climax (apparently) still to come, but it also speaks to Christians of every age.

        Consider today’s gospel: Jesus heals a blind man and declares the saving power of his faith or faithfulness (“pistis” in the Greek.) How narrowly should we interpret this gospel? Are the miracles and message of Jesus Christ intended only for the people of His time and place? Is the Gospel of Luke meant only for the first century Christians to whom it was written? Rather, the whole of Sacred Scripture, co-authored and inspired by the Holy Spirit who sees all of history simultaneously, speaks to the life and times of every Christian. Corruptions of the world, persecutions of the Church, manifestations of God’s power, and triumphs of His people belong to every age. The Book of Revelation truly tells “[God’s] servants what must happen soon” because these realities are always “near.”

Three Crosses Line Break

The Dying Words of Jesus & His Saints

November 14, 2014

Each November, when the dark nights lengthen and trees become bare skeletons, we especially pray for the souls of those who have gone before us in death. This is also a fitting time of year to remember and consider the certainty of our own mortality. How did Jesus and his holy ones face the end of their lives? Their dying words can both instruct and inspire us:

“Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.”

—Our Lord Jesus Christ, c. 33 AD

“Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. Lord, do not hold this sin against them.”

—St. Stephen, martyr, c. 34 AD

“Glory to God for all things!”

—St. John Chrysostom, 407 AD

“Your will be done. Come, Lord Jesus!”

—St. Augustine, 430 AD

“May God forgive you, brother.”

—St. Wenceslaus, martyr, 935 AD

“I have loved justice and hated iniquity. Therefore I die in exile.”

—Pope St. Gregory VII, 1085 AD

“If all the swords in England were pointed against my head, your threats would not move me. I am ready to die for my Lord, that in my blood the Church may obtain liberty and peace.”

—St. Thomas Becket, martyr, 1170 AD

“When you see that I am brought to my last moments, place me naked upon the ground just as you saw me the day before yesterday; and let me lie there after I am dead for the length of time it takes one to walk a mile unhurriedly.”

—St. Francis of Assisi, 1226 AD

“Be assured that he who shall always walk faithfully in God’s presence, always ready to give him an account of all his actions, shall never be separated from him by consenting to sin.”

—St. Thomas Aquinas, 1274 AD

“Leave the doors open, so that everyone may enter and see how a pope dies.”

—Bl. Pope Urban V, 1370 AD

“Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.”

—St. Bridget of Sweden, 1373 AD

“Blood! Blood! Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.”

—St. Catherine of Siena, 1380 AD

“Jesus, Jesus, Jesus!”

—St. Joan of Arc, martyr, 1431 AD

“I die the king’s good servant, but God’s first.”

—St. Thomas More, martyr, 1535 AD

“O, my God!”

—St. Ignatius of Loyola, 1556 AD

“After all I die as a child of the Church. My Lord, it is time to move on. Well then, may your will be done. O my Lord and my spouse, the hour that I have longed for has come. It is time for us to meet one another.”

—St. Teresa of Avila, 1582 AD

“Jesus, I love you.”

—St. Kateri Tekakwitha, 1680 AD

“In all things I adore the will of God in my regard.”

—St. Jean Baptiste de la Salle, 1719 AD

“Be children of the Church.”

—St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, 1821 AD

“My immortal life is on the point of beginning. Become Christians if you wish to be happy after death, because God has eternal chastisements in store for those who have refused to know Him.”

—St. Andrew Kim Taegon, martyr, 1846 AD

“Holy Mary, pray for me, a poor sinner.”

—St. Bernadette Soubirous, 1879 AD

“I have reached the point of not being able to suffer any more, because all suffering is sweet to me. My God, I love you.”

—St. Therese of Lisieux, 1897 AD

“To restore all things in Christ.”

—Pope St. Pius X, 1914 AD

“Long live Christ the King!”

—Bl. Miguel Pro, S.J., martyr, 1927 AD

“Jesus. Maria.”

—St. Pio of Pietrelcina, 1968 AD

“Jesus, I love you. Jesus, I love you.”

—Bl. Mother Teresa of Calcutta, 1997 AD

“Let me go to the house of the Father.”

—St. John Paul the Great, 2005 AD

What do you want to be your dying words?

Ghost Stories From Sts. Augustine & Gregory

October 31, 2014

In 398 AD, St. Augustine shared the following story about a probable visitor from beyond the veil in a letter to his friend, Evodius:

“Our brother, Gennadius … told us that he doubted once … whether there was any life after death. As God would not abandon a man of his disposition and works of mercy, there appeared to him in sleep a handsome youth of dignified appearance, who said to him: ‘Follow me.’ He followed and came to a certain city, where he began to hear, on his right, singing of such exquisite sweetness that it surpassed all known and ordinary sweetness. Then, as he listened, he asked what it was and his guide said it was the hymns of the blessed and the saints. I do not clearly remember what he said he saw on his left. When he awoke, the dream vanished and he thought of it only as one does of a dream.

But, on another night, behold, the same youth appeared to him again and asked whether he recognized him; he answered that he did so fully and perfectly. Then the youth asked where he had known him. He remembered what to reply to that, too, and described the whole vision and the hymns of the saints which the other had led him there to hear, recalling them with ease as a recent experience. Thereupon, the youth asked whether he had been asleep or awake when he saw what he had described. He answered: ‘It was in a dream.’ The other said: ‘You remember well, it is true, that you saw all that in a dream, but you must know that even now you see, although you are asleep.’ When he heard that, he believed it was so and expressed it by his answer.

Then the one who was teaching him continued and said: ‘Where is your body now?’ He answered: ‘In my bedroom.’ ‘And do you know,’ said the other, ‘that in that same helpless body, your eyes are fast shut and useless, and that you see nothing with those eyes?’ Gennadius answered: ‘I know it.’ His guide went on: ‘Then, with what kind of eyes do you see me?’ He fell silent at this, finding no reply, and, as he remained in doubt, the youth made known what he was trying to teach by these questions.

He went on: ‘As those eyes of flesh are now inactive and perform no function while your body lies asleep in bed, yet you have eyes with which you behold me and a sight of which you make use, so, when you die and the eyes of your flesh see nothing, there will be in you another life by which you will live and sense by which you will perceive. See to it that henceforth you do not doubt of the life which remains after death.’ Thus this faithful man says that his doubt on this matter was removed, and what was his teacher but the providence and mercy of God?”

In 593 AD, Pope St. Gregory the Great related this story in his Dialogues:

“Bishop Felix…said that he had been told of such a case by a saintly priest who was still living two years ago in the [Italian] diocese of Centum Cellae as pastor of the Church of St. John in Tauriana [on the toe of Italy.] This priest used to bathe in the hot springs of Tauriana whenever his health required. One day, as he entered the baths, he found a stranger there who showed himself most helpful in every way possible, by unlatching his shoes, taking care of his clothes, and furnishing him towels after the hot bath.

After several experiences of this kind, the priest said the himself: ‘It would not do for me to appear ungrateful to this man who is so devoted in his kind services to me. I must reward him in some way.’ So one day he took along two crown-shaped loaves of bread to give him.

When he arrived at the place, the man was already waiting for him and rendered the same services he had before. After the bath, when the priest was again fully dressed and ready to leave, he offered the man the present of bread, asking him kindly to accept it as a blessing, for it was offered a token of charity.

But the man sighed mournfully and said, ‘Why do you give it to me, Father? That bread is holy and I cannot eat it. I who stand before you was once the owner of this place. It is because of my sins that I was sent back here as a servant. If you wish to do something for me, then offer this bread to almighty God, and so make intercession for me, a sinner. When you come back and do not find me here, you will know that your prayers have been heard.

With these words he disappeared, thus showing that he was a spirit disguised as a man. The priest spent the entire week in prayer and tearful supplications, offering Mass for him daily. When he returned to the bath, the man was no longer to be found. This incident points out the great benefits souls derive from the Sacrifice of the Mass. Because of these benefits the dead ask us, the living, to have Masses offered for them, and even show us by signs that it was through the Mass that they were pardoned.”

Praying with a “Marked Deck”

October 19, 2014

The Queen of HeartsMeditating on the Gospels helps us to grow closer to Jesus, but which passage should we bring to our time of prayer?

With the 1st Sunday of Advent (coming liturgically the evening of November 29th, 2014) we’ll begin exploring the Gospel of Mark in our Cycle B Sunday readings. One option for prayer is to meditate on next Sunday’s Gospel in order to enter more deeply into the Mass.

Or, to contemplate Mark’s entire Gospel, you can pray with it bit by bit, day by day, from start to finish.

On the other hand, you can let yourself be completely surprised by whatever divine providence deals you. In my Holy Hours, I’m planning to randomly draw my Marcan passage for lectio divina from this list, and you can do the same:

2♠   Mark 1: 1-15
3♠   1: 16-31
4♠   1: 32-45
5♠   2: 1-12
6♠   2: 13-22
7♠   2: 23 – 3: 6
8♠   3: 7-19
9♠   3: 20-35
10♠ 4: 1-9, 14-20
J♠   4: 10-13, 21-25
Q♠  4: 26-34
K♠  4: 35-41
A♠  5: 1-20

2♥   5: 21-24, 35-43
3♥   5: 25-34
4♥   6: 1-16
5♥   6:17-29
6♥   6:30-44
7♥   6:45-56
8♥   7: 1-13
9♥   7: 14-30
10♥ 7: 31-37 & 8: 22-26
J♥    8: 1-10
Q♥   8: 11-21
K   8: 27 – 9: 1
A♥   9: 2-13

2♦   9: 14-29
3♦   9: 30-37
4♦   9: 38-50
5♦   10: 1-16
6♦   10: 17-31
7♦   10: 32-45
8♦   10: 46 – 11: 11
9♦   11: 12-25
10♦ 11: 27 – 12: 12
J♦   12: 13-27
Q♦  12: 28-37
K♦  12: 38-13:2
A♦  13: 3-23

2♣   13: 24-37
3♣   14: 1-11
4♣   14: 12-26
5♣   14: 27-42
6♣   14: 43-52
7♣   14: 53-65
8♣   14: 66-72
9♣   15: 1-15
10♣ 15: 16-24
J♣   15: 25-38
Q♣  15: 39-47
K♣  16: 1-13
A♣  16: 14-20

By Satan’s Power — Friday, 27th Week in Ordinary Time—Year II

October 10, 2014

Readings: Galatians 3:7-14; Luke 11:15-26

Some in the crowd said of Jesus, “By the power of Beelzebul, the prince of demons, he drives out demons.” In a certain sense, those people would be right.

Satan’s power in the world led to Jesus’ Passion. The devil probably thought he was winning by getting Jesus crucified, for ‘cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree.’ Yet Jesus surprised him by turning this curse into ‘a blessing for all nations.’ Jesus suffered Satan’s power, but brought good out of the evil. In this way, by the power of Beelzebul, the prince of demons, Jesus drove out demons from the world.

Originally posted on October 8, 2010

Popes Are Not Perfect — Wednesday, 27th Week of Ordinary Time—Year II

October 8, 2014

Readings: Galatians 2:1-2,7-14; Luke 11:1-4

[W]hen Cephas came to Antioch, I [Paul] opposed him to his face because he clearly was wrong. For, until some people came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he began to draw back and separated himself, because he was afraid of the circumcised. And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy. But when I saw that they were not on the right road in line with the truth of the Gospel, I said to Cephas [Peter] in front of all, “If you, though a Jew, are living like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?”

Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples.” He said to them, “When you pray, say: Father, …forgive us our sins….”

Christ Handing the Keys to St. Peter by Pietro Perugino (detail)The Church on earth is both human and divine — it is holy, yet made up of and led by sinners. When the apostles asked Jesus how they should pray he told those men who were to become the Church’s first leaders to always ask that God the Father would forgive their sins.

Some bulk at the doctrine of papal infallibility asking, “How can a pope, a sinful man, be infallible?” (One could likewise ask how sinful men could write the Sacred Scriptures.) A pope is infallible when he proclaims a doctrine by a definitive act as supreme pastor and teacher of all the faithful regarding faith or morals, but nothing guarantees that he and the Church’s other leaders will never make sincere yet unwise decisions, or that they will never commit serious sins. Infallibility is not the same as impeccability. Imagine the Church as car on the interstate. The Holy Spirit provides guard rails to prevent us from crashing, but we do not always drive as straightly and speedily as we could.

In today’s reading from Galatians, St. Paul recalls the time he gave some fraternal correction to the first pope. St. Peter had not been teaching error regarding the Gentiles and the Mosaic Law, but his personal example (withdrawing from their company so as not to offend the circumcised) was sending a mixed and wrong signal. Even St. Peter could make a mess of things sometimes. Popes, bishops, and priests need the help of our prayers. Like St. Augustine observed: for you, they are leaders; but with you, they are Christians. They are disciples of Jesus Christ who, like yourself, must strive and follow after Him daily.

Bible Verses for your 2015 Calendar

September 26, 2014


“I know well the plans I have in mind for you… plans for your welfare and not for woe, so as to give you a future of hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)


“Stern as death is love, relentless as the nether world is devotion; its flames are a blazing fire.” (Song of Songs 8:6)


Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38)


On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were… Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” (John 20:19)


The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” (Psalm 14:1)


“When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, behold, your son.’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother.’” (John 19:27)


“From the rising of the sun to its setting let the name of the LORD be praised.” (Psalm 113:3)


“Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof.” (Leviticus 25:10)


“A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.” (Revelation 12:1)


“The LORD will guard you from all evil; he will guard your soul.” (Psalm 121:7)


“Behold, I stand at the door and knock.“ (Revelation 3:20)


“Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, his mercy endures forever!” (Psalm 107:1)


“A child is born to us, a son is given to us… they name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:5)

Our Lady’s Wisconsin Message: The Meaning of the Two Trees

September 25, 2014

In the Garden of Eden, there were many fruit-bearing trees, but Genesis mentions only two by name: the Tree of Life, and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. By partaking of the Tree of Life the human race could keep living forever, but the Lord warned that to eat from the other tree would mean our certain death. On October 9th, 1859, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared near Green Bay to a 28 year-old Belgian immigrant named Adele Brise while she was walking eleven miles home from Sunday Mass. Interestingly, Our Lady chose to appear to Adele not in a church, or a thousand other places, but between two trees: a Maple and a Hemlock.

Maple LeavesYou’re familiar with the beauty and goodness of the Maple. In the fall, its leaves turn the most striking colors, and in the spring its sap yields sweet syrup. But do you know about the Hemlock tree? The poison that the Greek philosopher Socrates was condemned to drink came from this plant. Ingesting just six or eight fresh Hemlock leaves can kill a healthy adult. The Maple is a tree of life while the Hemlock is a tree of death. Mary, the New Eve, stood between the two.

Three Conium Maculatum (or Poison Hemlock), Cedar Bog, Champaign CoMary told Adele, “I am the Queen of Heaven, who prays for the conversion of sinners, and I wish you to do the same. You received Holy Communion this morning, and that is well. But you must do more. Make a general confession, and offer Communion for the conversion of sinners. If they do not convert and do penance, my Son will be obliged to punish them.” Our Lady’s message between the two trees is akin the words of Moses, who told the Israelites: “I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life, then, that you and your descendants may live, by loving the Lord, your God, heeding his voice, and holding fast to him. For that will mean life for you, a long life for you to live on the land….

Peshtigo Fire MapApparently, Our Lady’s warnings were not sufficiently heeded. In October of 1871, exactly twelve years later, disaster came. Both in terms of size and number of lives lost, the Peshtigo Fire remains the worst recorded forest fire in U.S. history. Between 1,200 and 2,400 lives ended in that firestorm which saw, according to an eyewitness, “large wooden houses torn from their foundations and caught up like straws by two opposing currents of air which raised them till they came in contact with the stream of fire.” This seems to be the punishment due to sin that Mary spoke of, yet this does not mean that everyone who perished in that fire was condemned. We should remember that at harvest time, the wheat and the weeds are pulled up together in a moment, but their future fates are not the same. Once uprooted, the good are gathered and kept in the barn, while the bad are thrown away forever.

The firestorm came and surrounded the shrine of Our Lady, where hundreds had come for refuge with their families and herds, beseeching her intercession before God. As many as fled to her there were saved. The shrine’s consecrated earth was an emerald-green island in an ocean of smoldering ashes as far as eyes could see.

Mary, the Queen of Heaven, prays for the conversion of sinners and she wishes you to do the same. You receive Holy Communion, and that is well. But you must do more. Begin by receiving the sacrament of reconciliation regularly, because it is powerful for growing in holiness. The sinner whose conversion you are most responsible for is your own.

Parallelism & Padre Pio — Monday, 25th Week of Ordinary Time—Year II

September 23, 2014

Readings: Proverbs 21:1-6, 10-13; Psalm 119:1, 27, 30, 34-35, 44

We see within today’s readings a literary structure often found in the Bible: parallelism. A verse states an idea and is immediately followed by a line reexpressing that same truth (or contrasting it.) For example, in our psalm we read:

The way of truth I have chosen;
I have set your ordinances before me.

And in Proverbs:

The soul of the wicked man desires evil;
his neighbor finds no pity in his eyes.

When the arrogant man is punished, the simple are the wiser; when the wise man is instructed, he gains knowledge.

Parallelism is a providential gift to translators and readers of the Bible because it helps them to understand Scripture’s meaning better than they would through a singular statement alone.

St. Padre Pio PortraitSt. Padre Pio (or Pius of Pietrelcina) is among the most famous saints of the past century. Like Jesus, large crowds were drawn to him and religious authorities were cautiously wary of him, but he always remained obedient. Like Jesus, Padre Pio possessed the mystical ability to read peoples’ souls — to know strangers’ stories, sins, and struggles. He spent long hours in the confessional, being firm with the hardened and gentle with the weak, just like Jesus was with the Pharisees and the woman at the well. Also, by God’s gift, Padre Pio bore the stigma, the wounds of Christ, in his hands, feet, and side.

God uses parallelism to help us to fathom His Word better. In both Sacred Scripture and in the saints of Jesus Christ, parallelism helps us to understand the Lord better.


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