Demonic Entertainment

A very troubling phenomenon came to my attention yesterday, and I felt the need to share about it on Facebook and also via a letter to the parents and teachers of my parish school. I am going to go ahead and share the relevant portion of that letter with you here as well, so that more will be made aware of this dangerous trend.

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It was recently brought to my attention that there is a new “challenge” that has become “viral” among young people, called “Charlie Charlie”. It involves summoning a Mexican demon named Charlie and asking it to manifest itself in a certain way — similar to using a ouija board.

I am warning you about this so that you can be vigilant with your children about it. Anything having to do with the demon is very serious and to be avoided at all costs. It is never “entertaining” to summon a demon. Asking the Devil to entertain us is a sure recipe for disaster.

Exorcists regularly note that one of the causes of demonic possession and other serious spiritual afflictions is the use of ouija boards and the like. These things are promoted as “innocent fun” but are anything but. Please be vigilant with your children and instill in them a healthy fear of evil and the occult. I hate to think that any of the children of our community might be harmed because of these wicked things that are promoted as fun and glamorous.

While we must not give undue attention or curiosity to things of the occult, on the other hand we must be aware of it so that we can avoid it.

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If you (reader) have participated in such activities, I urge you to pray earnestly,repent of it, and go talk to a priest; he will help you determine if it is matter for Confession (if you are unsure) and can also give you advice on how to protect yourself from evil.

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An Ill-Advised Practice

I have posted here on various occasions about the ill-advised practice of Communion in the Hand (use the blog’s search function to find previous articles). I note today that Crisis Magazine has a fine article about the same. Do take a look. We need to continue to raise awareness about this issue so that reverence and respect for the Most Blessed Sacrament will increase in our country and throughout the world.

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Bouncing Baby Girl

Once again, many thanks to all of you for your prayers. As you know, I’ve posted here from time to time about my sister’s difficult pregnancy. This morning at 11:42am Eastern Time, she was delivered of a healthy baby girl weighing 8 pounds 9 ounces, 20 inches in length! Catriona Dawn is beautiful and we are all so excited!

Mother and child are doing well!

Mother and child are doing well!

I am relieved that both mom and baby are doing well, given the various health problems – some extremely serious – that were involved along the way. In the end, my sister Sarah was able to carry the baby to full term and the labor was very quick, with everything going smoothly. I’ll be going home in early August for a family reunion and can’t wait to meet my new niece then. Again, many thanks for your prayers! Thanks be to God!

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Another Homily on Vocation Boom

The web site “Vocation Boom!” asked me to record another homily for them – this one, for the Solemnity of the Ascension. If you’re interested, you can listen to it by clicking here.

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Latin Conferences

A Latin-speaking priest friend has notified me of two important Latin conferences that will be held this summer. These will be great opportunities to turbo-charge your knowledge of the Latin language and meet other people with similar interests. If you might be interested in attending or have questions, please send me a message through the contact form on the blog and I will forward it to this priest friend so that he can follow up with you.

The first will be held in Menlo Park, California from July 27 to August 1. More info here.

The second will be held in Washington, DC from August 2 to August 8. More info here.

My friend added, “Keep in mind that the one in Menlo Park is open to anyone, even non-Catholics, but the one in DC is for ‘Catholic priests, seminarians, and those men and women belonging to religious orders.'”

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Our Lady of Fatima

Today we celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima. I share with you a homily that I gave at a high school in my diocese at a Mass of Thanksgiving for the Beatification of Pope John Paul II, a few years back. Now he is a saint. There is much in this homily that I think applies even more to our situation now than it did then.

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DO NOT BE AFRAID

“Do not be afraid” – the first words of the Blessed Virgin Mary, when she appeared on this day in 1917 to three poor shepherd children in Fatima – in the countryside of Portugal. From there she would appear to them five more times on the thirteenth of each consecutive month until October. Our Lady would answer their petitions for the cures of many people; she would produce a miracle, with the sun spinning and dancing around in the sky, which was witnessed by over 70,000 people and reported on in the secular press; and she would leave those three children with a message to share with the whole world: the message of prayer (especially prayer of the rosary) and reparation for sin. Today, May 13, we celebrate the feast day of Our Lady of Fatima.

“Do not be afraid”. These were also the same words with which Blessed John Paul II began his pontificate. They were words he would repeat many times. The first non-Italian pope in 455 years, he was called by God to be the Bishop of Rome and the Universal Pastor of the Church. It’s a big task, and that’s why there is a place in the Sistine Chapel called the “Room of Tears”. The Sistine Chapel, as you know, is where the papal election takes place, and after the new pope is elected, they go into that room to “put themselves together” so that they can then go out on the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica and greet a waiting world. Often they go into that room to weep, thinking about the new burden that they have to bear. When Pope John Paul proclaimed those words to the whole world – “Do not be afraid” – surely he was saying them to himself as well.

“Do not be afraid”. On this very day, 30 years ago, the year 1981, a man with evil intent – a man named Mehmet Ali Agca – went into St. Peter’s Square for the Wednesday Papal Audience. He opened fire on Pope John Paul II, attempting to assassinate him; a total of four bullets hit the Holy Father, two of them lodging in his lower intestine, the others hitting his left hand and right arm. There were screams of panic in the crowd; they rushed the pope, who was in the popemobile, back inside the Vatican walls and then off to the hospital. Meanwhile, some bystanders subdued Ali Agca, and he was taken away by police. He would receive a life sentence, though he was pardoned in the year 2000. There is a marker in the pavement of St. Peter’s Square that shows where the assassination attempt took place.

“Do not be afraid”. A year after the shooting, in 1982, Pope John Paul – fully recovered from the attempt on his life – would go to Fatima in Portugal. He noted that the attempt happened on the feast of Our Lady of Fatima, and he believed firmly that it was because of the Blessed Mother’s intercession and protection that he was saved. So he wanted to make an act of homage, and give thanks. He placed one of the bullets in the crown on her statue there – similar to the one you see here. It was one of the many public acts of homage and devotion to Mary that he would make during his almost 27 years as pope: he had a deep love for the Mother of God. His papal motto was “Totus Tuus” – all yours, Mary; he knew that any affection shown to the Blessed Mother was also shown to her Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

“Do not be afraid”. In December of 1983, Pope John Paul would go to meet with Ali Agca in his prison cell – there are some moving photographs of that meeting. Soon after the shooting the pope had already asked everyone, “Pray for my brother, whom I have sincerely forgiven”; now he went to forgive him in person. This whole scene was astounding to many. Think about how you would feel if someone tried to kill you: forgiving them from a distance would be hard enough, never mind meeting them in person! But the Holy Father knew that he was the Vicar of Christ – Christ’s representative on earth – and that his action was not only the right thing to do from the standpoint of our faith, but also a necessary teaching moment for people of goodwill everywhere. Whenever you are having difficulty forgiving someone, think of Pope John Paul; think of Christ on the Cross – “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do”.

“Do not be afraid”. These words were spoken some 94 years ago by the Blessed Mother, near the beginning of the 20th Century, and they were spoken often by Pope John Paul II, from near the end of that same century, right into this new millennium. They are a necessary preface to the times in which we live. “Do not be afraid” – this world has become a scary place, and in the modern age, evils never before seen or even imagined have been visited on individuals and nations. Are things getting any better? It’s hard to say for sure. But do we have hope? The answer is most certainly: Yes. We can live in this world and not be afraid, because we have faith in Jesus Christ, and hope that he has prepared something unimaginably better for us, if we follow him faithfully. The path that we must take is the path of love: that path first taken by our Blessed Mother when she said “Yes” to the angel, then went on her way to visit her cousin, and ultimately followed the way of the Cross. It is the path that Pope John Paul II showed to us as he continually, in the words of our psalm, went “out to all the world to tell the good news”.

“Do not be afraid”. The message of Our Lady of Fatima was prayer – especially the prayer of the Rosary – and penance; that is, reparation for sin. These are themes that Pope John Paul II continually taught on as well. He even added a whole new set of mysteries to the Rosary so that we could go even deeper in our meditation and reflection on the life of Christ and the life of our Blessed Mother. He was, I think it is fair to say, the image of a real man: a man who knew who he was, where he was going, and why he was going there; a man who loved God and his Church, and wasn’t bashful about being religious or sharing his beliefs with others; a man with a generous spirit, who taught us in his own person how to live.

“Do not be afraid”. Today we give thanks, because we now call Pope John Paul II “Blessed”. The pope who named so many people saints during his pontificate has now been declared blessed as well, the final step before being canonized a saint. He has shown us that radical holiness is possible in this scary world. He has shown us that Christ is real, and that it is wonderful to be in his Church. He has shown us how to embrace the cross in carry it, as none of us can forget those images of his final months and days, how he suffered under his illness but never gave up. What a blessing it is for us that our school is named after him – that we have such an inspirational example to follow in our work here!

“Do not be afraid”. On this Feast of Our Lady of Fatima, we recall those first words that our Blessed Mother then spoke – those first words that our namesake, Pope John Paul II, spoke as well – and we gather in thanksgiving. May Our Lady watch over and protect us, our families, and our school in a special way, leading us courageously into a deeper relationship with her son, Jesus Christ. And may Blessed John Paul II ever inspire us and help us with his prayers, so that each and every one of us may embrace all the blessings and challenges of this life and join with him and all the saints in heaven.

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More on Sick Call Crucifixes

My post on Sick Call Crucifixes from last June has been a regular favorite here, with folks regularly arriving through internet searches and sharing it around the web.

A priest in California, Fr. Jack Kearney, emailed me today about a web site he has set up – a virtual Sick Call Set Museum, reflecting the brick-and-mortar version of the same that he has in California. Take a look at it via this link. Looks like there are lots of interesting photos of all different types of sets. (NOTE: the music controls are at the bottom of each page, if you want to mute it.)

To my previous post, I might add a suggestion: Now that you know about this item (if you didn’t before), if you see one in a yard sale or flea market, you might buy it (after a suitable amount of haggling, if necessary!), to “rescue” it and put it into more pious use. This is the sort of thing that should ideally be handed down in families.

Thanks to Fr. Jack for making me aware of his site!

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Masses for Benefactors

I have been meaning to blog this for a while, but have had difficulty either finding the time, or remembering to do so when I do have the time… So, in the spirit of “better late than never”…….

Mass last Wednesday at Holy Rosary, as well as this Wednesday (tomorrow morning as I write this), is offered for the Benefactors of the Parish. I greatly appreciate all your support, and continue to pray for you all. Be sure to read the update below.

The image of Our Lady of Lourdes in our altar with her May "crown" (which came out looking more like a "hat" this time).

The image of Our Lady of Lourdes in our altar with her May “crown” (which came out looking more like a “hat” this time).

To give everyone an update (for newcomers, get some of the back story here), our youth soccer team has really grown this spring and the children have benefited greatly from being able to practice on our home field (located on the back half of our parish property). I hope we can have a small set of bleachers next year to encourage people to come and watch the games. Meanwhile, our youth reading program is growing as well, as we move towards having a “Reading Room” – an inviting place where area youth will want to come and relax while improving their literacy skills and developing a love for reading.

Our Food Pantry distributed approximately 360 large boxes of food last month – perhaps the biggest month ever. We are currently very low on our stock of fresh meat, and I am praying that a good solution will arise for that (read: maybe a donation or fire sale price from a meat supplier). We usually have a stock of frozen chicken or other meat so that we can provide some good protein in our food boxes. In the area of the “clothes closet” – our trailer where we distribute clothing and household supplies – some recent adaptations to the trailer have made it possible for us to have an increase of much-needed space.

In the church, we are enjoying the use of our new vestments and altar ware. Thanks to the generosity of a benefactor we have fresh roses on the altar each week (outside of Lent) and so Our Lady is honored with a sort of living “rosary” at all times. There are some major structural repairs needed to the church and a recent donation will make that possible – now we will begin seeking additional evaluations/quotes from contractors so that we can get the job done right, for the right price.

With the school year winding down we are now shifting in our planning toward our summer youth program. For several weeks during the summer the area youth will be able to come for the entire day (on weekdays) and participate in activities and field trips. Thanks to generous donations from a local Little Caesar’s we can feed them pizza and, with the good planning of our food pantry workers, we will have other special treats for them each day out of the many fresh items that are donated. This summer a seminarian will be on hand to participate in some aspects of this summer youth program as well.

To all of our benefactors, my heartfelt thanks! And to all: please pray for us at Holy Rosary! God reward you!

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May Crowning

Did your parish have a May Crowning this morning?

Here is the result from one of my parishes, St. Barnabas:

 

The Memorare

Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary,
that never was it known
that anyone who fled to thy protection,
implored thy help, or sought thy intercession
was left unaided.
Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee,
O Virgin of virgins, my mother!
To thee do I come, before thee I stand,
sinful and sorrowful.
O mother of the Word Incarnate,
despise not my petitions,
but in thy mercy hear and answer me.
Amen.

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Profession of Faith in the Real Presence

About this time six years ago, I was planning for the Corpus Christi procession that we would have on that feast in the parish that I was then assigned to. And it seemed “truly right and just” to me at the time that we should recite together an Act of Faith in the Real Presence.

As I recall (and I have an awful memory), I decided to adapt and expand the Profession of Faith that Pope Gregory VII (Hildebrand) had written and required the first eucharistic heretic, Berengar, to recite in order to be reconciled to the Church. Perhaps you will be interested in reading it – and making it your own profession of faith as well. And perhaps any priest readers who might be out there will be inspired to have their parishioners recite this profession of faith or some adaptation thereof as part of this year’s Corpus Christi devotions – just over a month away.

PROFESSION OF FAITH IN THE REAL PRESENCE
OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST IN THE MOST BLESSED SACRAMENT

I believe in my heart and profess with my lips that the bread and wine, which are placed upon the altar, are really and substantially changed by the mystery of the sacred prayer and by the words of our Savior, spoken by the priest, into the true and life-giving Flesh and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. After the Consecration there is present the true Body of Christ, which was born of the Virgin Mary and offered up for the salvation of the world: which hung upon the Cross for us, and now sits at the right hand of the Father in glory; and there is present the true Blood of Christ which flowed from his side.

I believe that his Precious Body and Blood are really and truly present, even though the appearances of bread and wine remain. I reaffirm this faith every time I say “Amen” before receiving Holy Communion, and every time I genuflect towards the tabernacle. And before this great Sacrament I bow down in worship as before God himself, for I know by my Catholic faith that it truly is God himself, the second Person of the Holy Trinity, who for our sake became man, taking to himself a human body and soul, and now continues his Presence among us as he promised, hidden under these humble appearances.

I pray that our loving Savior, before whom I now kneel, will until the day I die preserve and deepen my faith in his Real Presence in the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar, and that after I die, the veil that now hides his glorious Presence from me may be lifted, and I may rejoice to see him face to face for ever, together with all the saints in heaven.  Amen.

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I Have Other Sheep

Here is my homily for this Good Shepherd Sunday:

Our responsorial psalm on this Fourth Sunday of Easter is a prophecy about the Messiah – “the stone rejected by…the builders, which has become the cornerstone”. Jesus, in fulfillment of this psalm, is the one who was not only rejected but put to death, and then rose again by his own power, showing himself to be Lord of all: cornerstone and foundation of the eternal Kingdom. This psalm verse, in fact, is quoted a total of six times in the New Testament, including in our first reading today where Peter, “filled with the Holy Spirit”, preaches to the authorities, who were among those who had rejected Jesus. Not only does Peter quote the psalm but he also adds to it, saying: “There is no salvation through anyone else, nor is there any other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are to be saved”.

Let us place ourselves in Peter’s shoes and enter into the scene. Imagine standing before a large and diverse crowd and proclaiming to them that salvation only comes through Christ – in effect, that he is their only hope. It must have taken a great deal of courage and fortitude. And we know Peter’s history: he had not always been the strongest of characters. But filled with the Holy Spirit, he could stand there and proclaim this truth, and then face the reaction that it might very well have provoked. And note well that I said that Peter proclaimed a truth: to stand before this crowd and say that salvation only comes through Jesus Christ was not a mere rhetorical device that he was using to grab their attention. No, this is what he – and we – really believe. It is what the Church has professed from the beginning. Jesus Christ is the savior of the human race; there is no other name under heaven by which we may be saved.

Perhaps what would make it so difficult to stand before a similar crowd today and proclaim this message would not be so much a fear of the reaction, as a lack of our own conviction in the belief. Do we really believe that Christ is the only savior of man? After all, there are in our day millions of followers of Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and of so many other non-Christian religions – or, to put it another way, millions of people who do not follow Jesus Christ. Not to mention the fact that somehow, after so many centuries of Christian missionary work, there are still places in the world where they have never heard of Jesus, or where, with the passage of time, he has been forgotten. So we hear what the scripture tells us – Christ is the only savior of man – but we also grapple with the fact that so many people do not follow him. What will happen to them? The Church does teach that they can be saved also. God is able to reach them; he is able to touch their hearts. But if they are saved, they are saved through Christ, the only savior – even if they do not realize it in advance. Jesus is the one redeemer of the human race. He died for every single human person.

In my experience, this teaching is taken by many Catholics today even to be scandalous. A teaching which used to motivate generous men and women to embark on missionary work, convicted that the gospel needed to be shared with all, has now become something of an embarrassment for many. “Indifferentism” has set in and is now quite common: one hears people say things like, “All religions are basically the same”. But this is not what we are hearing in the testimony of St. Peter. He stood before the crowd and boldly proclaimed salvation in Jesus Christ, through the Church that he established. In the process of doing so, he put his own life on the line, and indeed, he would ultimately go to his death for preaching this message.

The gospel about the Good Shepherd this Sunday adds another layer of clarity to the message. Christ himself declares: “I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice, and there will be one flock, one shepherd”. The Good Shepherd calls everyone to be part of his one flock, to be a part of his Church. This places a burden on all of us, the burden of doing what Peter did: of evangelizing, of sharing the faith – of sharing what we have received. There is no room for indifferentism here! Each and every one of us is called to share the faith. Sometimes it means drawing deeply on the help of the Holy Spirit, with whose gifts we were filled in the Sacrament of Confirmation. In a culture that combines indifferentism with an aggressive secularism; in a culture that has enshrined other gods, such as money and power; in a culture that so frequently does not respect even the most fundamental value, life itself – it can be very difficult to stand up and share the gift that we have received. But it is imperative that we do so, because the souls of many are at stake.

So I want to leave you with a question this Sunday: Whom will you invite to join the Church? Whom will you invite to join RCIA this coming August? It will be here before we know it. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, wants everyone to be saved, but not simply in some sort of passive way: no, he wants them to hear his voice, his call to be part of his one flock. Since we are all his members, we have the opportunity to be his voice, to share his love, to touch the hearts of others. Not by watering down the gift, somehow embarrassed or timid about it, but by boldly proclaiming it in all its integrity. May our encounter with the Risen Christ in this Holy Eucharist give us confidence in his power to work through us, and so help us more boldly to lead others and ourselves to life eternal in heaven. Amen.

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36 Weeks and Counting! | Momma’s Finding Her Balance

Another update from my sister on her difficult pregnancy… Thank you for your prayers, and please keep them coming!

http://mommafindingbalance.com/2015/04/24/36-weeks-and-counting/

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