The editor was hoping for a full recovery but the allergy from all the pollens backed up into his nasal passages and then the lungs and prompted a type of pneumonia with the chills and a fever. The various medicines and prescriptions have really helped, but also made him groggy and still not fully operative to publish a full issue. Therefore this weekend's issue is also abbreviated. We apologize for any inconvenience and hope to be back at full strength soon. On behalf of the editor, thank you for the many, many e-mails of prayers and best wishes for his speedy recovery. Naturally, he is still too weak to respond to them but he takes each in his heart in prayer during this time of Lent and accepts the illness as a way of expiation.
In her column this week, Sister Mary Lucy Astuto brings into focus how God perceives us when we pray if it is half-hearted: It comes across cold - the same way we perceive people who are shallow and insincere towards us. In applying the golden rule, Sister shows how we should pray and reminds us this is what Our Lady continues to hammer home at Medjugorje and elsewhere when she says "Pray with and from the heart." She also reasserts the importance of making a good confession individually with a priest for proper absolution and not the "community confessions" that some parishes sponsor especially during Lent, which do not fulfill the full characteristics of the Sacrament of Reconciliation For her column, Pray with your heart...with your whole heart! see GETTING TO THE HEART OF THE MATTER
It's an insult to have someone address us this way. It says in effect that we are not important to the one speaking to us - that something or someone else (that's the real object of attention) is more important at that moment than we are.
One might as well not try to talk with that person, as they are not really paying attention to what we are saying. It is half-hearted talk on their part; it is easily recognized, and it is a put-down to us.
God does not like lip service either. When we pray, that is, when we speak to Him, He wants our words to come from our hearts. He wants us to mean what we say and be humble and sincere. He does not want us to be DELIBERATELY distracted and half-hearted in what we say to Him. Such prayer would be an insult to God. Those prayers would be "dead," as though they came from a grave.
God said: "If you are neither hot nor cold, I will vomit you from My mouth" in Revelation/Apocalypse 3: 16. Lukewarmness is detestable to God. Lip service is part of being lukewarm.
Our Lady of Medjugorje is always saying: "Pray with your heart!" In other words, pray with meaning. Concentrate and be humble and sincere.
Distractions occur to all of us. I don't think most people can pray an Our Father without a distraction. Being distracted against our will is not displeasing to God. If, however, we want to be distracted; if we choose to think about something else when our lips are saying "prayers," then God is not pleased with our prayers. This can even be sinful for we are making something else "god;" something else is more important to us at that moment than God Himself. So when the distractions come, gently pull your mind and heart back to attending to what you are saying to God.
That struggle, like an infant who struggles to crawl to his father, increases our love for God and shows God that we choose Him and not the distraction.
God is not far from us. He is close to us. He is near us all the time. He wants us to be intimate with Him while remembering that He is God. He wants us to take Him "with us" wherever we go and to seek His advice in everything. If we form the habit of talking with God about everything we do during the day, we shall be living a true life in God. If we talk to Him as we would our best friend, if we speak to Him from our hearts, sincerely and humbly, He will be so pleased with us. We will become His delight.
Don't forget, dear reader, to make a good confession before Easter. Go to confession individually not accepting a communal absolution, which has become an abuse in the Church.
God bless you!
Today we continue with our new series in the search to uncover the wonderful treasures of the Church contained in the great Deposit of Faith. Today we present, appropriately in following up the Holy Father's visit to Bethlehem a few weeks ago, the second part of the catechesis on The Nativity which would inexorably link the wood of the manger to the wood of the cross as explained in My Catholic Faith for a Savior is born to us. For the 148th installment, see APPRECIATING THE PRECIOUS GIFT OF OUR FAITH
Many churches and homes set up a crib at Christmas. This custom, athough of very ancient origin, was popularized by Saint Francis of Assisi. In the year 1223, he visited Pope Honorius III and sought approval of his plans to make a scenic representatio nof the Nativity. Having obtained the Pope's consent, Francis left Rome, and arrived at Greccio on Christmas Eve. There in the church he constructed a crib, grouping around it images of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint Joseph, of the shepherds, the ox, and the ass. At the midnight Mass St. Francis acted as deacon. After singing the words of the Gospel, "And they laid Him in a manger", he knelt down to meditate on the great gift of the Incarnation. And people around saw in his arms a Child, surrounded by a most brilliant light.
Since then the devotion to the crib has spread far and wide. The crib remains in church until the octave day of the Epiphany. At the proper time the images of the Three Kings and their retinue are added, making a daily advance towards the crib.
Most homes also set up a decorated Christmas tree. It is a reminder of the tree of the cross. The boxes of Christmas gifts remind us of the great Gift that God sent us. Santa Claus, the jolly and beloved distributor of Christmas gifts, is an American adoption of Saint Nicholas, Bishop of Myra, of the fourth century. This Saint is popular in Germany, Switzerland, and the Netherlands, where he is made the secret purveyor of gifts to children on December 6, his feast day. The custom was brought to New York by the Dutch, quickly spread throughout the United States and became absorbed into the Christmas celebration. Again, pagan and secular interests have greatly obliterated the meaning of gift-giving and the traditions of "jolly St. Nick."
The following incidents in Our Lord's life were closely connected with the Nativity: the Circumcision, the Presentation, and the flight to Egypt. The Child received the name Jesus when He was eight days old. He was circumcised, according to the custom of the Jews. At the Circumcision Jesus began His role of Mediator between God and man, shedding His blood for the first time for us. "Thou shalt call His name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins" (Matthew 1:21). "Therefore God has bestowed upon Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus, every knee should bend, of those in Heaven, on earth, and under the earth" (Philippians 2:9,10). "If you ask the Father anything in My name, He will give it to you" (John 16:23). The feast of the Circumcision used to be celebrated on New Year's Day, but has since been supplanted by the Solemnmity of Mary, Mother of God as the Octave of Christmas and a Holy Day of Obligation and fitting considering that no circumcision could have taken place, no redemption by the shedding of the Savior's blood, no resurrection without the cooperation of Mary as His Mother through her fiat at the Annunciation. In everyway Mary directs all attention to her Divine Son and thus the Church teaches us to begin everything in the name of Jesus.
When Jesus was forty days old, His Mother presented Him in the Temple at Jerusalem. The feast of the Presentation is celebrated on February 2. It is also called the Purification of the Blessed Virgin, or Candlemas Day. On this day candles are blessed and carried in procession, in memory of the words of holy Simeon, when Jesus was presented in the Temple. He said Our Lord was "a Light of revelation to the Gentiles".
Mary and Joseph took the Child Jesus to Egypt to save Him from King Herod, who wanted to kill Him. An angel appeared to Joseph and told him to take the Child Jesus and His mother away to Egypt. They stayed in Egypt until the death of King Herod. Then an angel appeared to Joseph and bade him return to the land of the Jews.
Monday: The Hidden Life of Jesus Christ part one
Saturday is the anniversary of the election of two Popes. First is Pope Urban VI, the former Archbishop of Bari, Italy who on April 8, 1378 became the 200th successor of Peter and first Roman Pontiff chosen at the Vatican after the papacy was returned from exile in Avignon. Secondly, less than a century later Pope Callistus III was selected the 209th in the line of Peter. This Spanish Pope from the Borgia family, instituted the great Feast of the Transfiguration of Our Lord and his pontificate lasted three years. He also ordered the universal tradition of ringing the bells at noon for the Angelus every day. For other time capsule events that happened in Church history on this date, see MILLENNIUM MILESTONES AND MEMORIES
Death of King Charles VIII, monarch of France during the reign of Pope Alexander VI.
Birth of Saint Francis Xavier, close friend of Saint Ignatius Loyola and one of the first Jesuits. He is known as the "Apostle of the Far East" and, along with Saint Therese the Little Flower, is the patron saint of missions.
The explorer and navigator Ferdinand Magellan arrives in the Philippines at the port of Cebu, bringing the faith to the edge of Oceania.
One of the last Roman Catholic abbeys in England is forced to turn over jurisdiction to King Henry VIII who had bolted from Rome the same year.
Death of the Spanish master painter Dominico Teotocopulo, better known as El Greco who was born in Crete.
The first conclave at the Vatican since 1303, due to the Avignon exile, the College of Cardinals elect the Archbishop of Bari, Cardinal Bartolomeo Prignano as Pope Urban VI, the two hundred second successor of Peter.
Spanish born Cardinal Alfonso de Borgia is elected the 209th successor of Peter and takes the name Pope Callixtus III. It was Callixtus who instituted the Feast of the Transfiguration.
Pope Paul III decrees the Apocrypha or body of writings on religious matters outside the canon of Scriputre which are accepted by Holy Mother Church as the basis for many of the documents at the Council of Trent.
Birth of Philip IV, the future King of Spain, to the acting head of Spain King Philip III during the earliest days of Pope Leo XI's papacy.
Pope Pius IX releases his 20th Encyclical on this day to the Bishops of the Oriental Rite Amantissimus on the care of the churches of the Eastern rites in union with Rome.
Historical Events in Church Annals for April 7:
Attila the Hun plunders France and the city of Metz, signaling an alarm to all of Europe.
Historical Events in Church Annals for April 8:
Death of John II, the King of France in England. He was known as "the Good."
1498 A.D. Death of King Charles VIII, monarch of France during the reign of Pope Alexander VI.
1506 A.D. Birth of Saint Francis Xavier, close friend of Saint Ignatius Loyola and one of the first Jesuits. He is known as the "Apostle of the Far East" and, along with Saint Therese the Little Flower, is the patron saint of missions.
1521 A.D. The explorer and navigator Ferdinand Magellan arrives in the Philippines at the port of Cebu, bringing the faith to the edge of Oceania.
1537 A.D. One of the last Roman Catholic abbeys in England is forced to turn over jurisdiction to King Henry VIII who had bolted from Rome the same year.
1614 A.D. Death of the Spanish master painter Dominico Teotocopulo, better known as El Greco who was born in Crete.
1378 A.D. The first conclave at the Vatican since 1303, due to the Avignon exile, the College of Cardinals elect the Archbishop of Bari, Cardinal Bartolomeo Prignano as Pope Urban VI, the two hundred second successor of Peter.
1455 A.D. Spanish born Cardinal Alfonso de Borgia is elected the 209th successor of Peter and takes the name Pope Callixtus III. It was Callixtus who instituted the Feast of the Transfiguration.
1546 A.D. Pope Paul III decrees the Apocrypha or body of writings on religious matters outside the canon of Scriputre which are accepted by Holy Mother Church as the basis for many of the documents at the Council of Trent.
1605 A.D. Birth of Philip IV, the future King of Spain, to the acting head of Spain King Philip III during the earliest days of Pope Leo XI's papacy.
1862 A.D. Pope Pius IX releases his 20th Encyclical on this day to the Bishops of the Oriental Rite Amantissimus on the care of the churches of the Eastern rites in union with Rome.
1483 A.D. Death of Edward IV, King of England. His brother Richard becomes the "Protector" of Edward's son - twelve year-old Edward V.
1486 A.D. Maximilian I is crowned King of Germany during the reign of Pope Innocent VIII
1944 A.D. His Holiness Pius XII issues his sixth encyclical on St. Cyril, Patriarch of Alexandria in Orientalis Ecclesiae.
1990 A.D. Pope John Paul II decrees the beatification of Blessed Juan Diego that is confirmed at ceremonies on May 6th, 1990 in Rome.
This weekend we observe the Fifth Sunday of Lent as well as the FIRST FRIDAY of April and the Optional Feast of Saint John Baptist de la Salle, Priest and Founder of the Christian Brothers. For the readings, liturgies, meditations, and profile on him, see DAILY LITURGY.
"For the poor you have always with you, but you do not always have Me...If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am there also shall My servant be. If anyone serves Me, My Father will honor him."
Special Prayer for Friday in the Fourth Week of Lent
Special Prayer for Saturday in the Fourth Week of Lent
Special Prayer for Sunday in the Fifth Week of Lent
A Plenary Indulgence is attached to this devotion according to article 194 of the Raccolta.
"The Son of Man is destined to suffer grievously, to be rejected, and to be raised up on the third day. If anyone wants to be a follower of Mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross every day and follow Me. For anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for My sake, that man will save it" (Luke 9: 22-24).
MEDITATION: Lord Jesus, often I judge others and fail to be understanding or loving. Help me to see the people in my life through Your eyes, not the eyes of Pontius Pilate.
MEDITATION: Lord Jesus, You embraced Your cross to redeem the world. Help me to embrace the crosses in life-the hardships, struggles, disappointments, and pain. Only by recognizing my own weakness, can I discover Your strength.
MEDITATION: Lord Jesus, You know how often I fall trying to follow You. Yet, You are always there to life me up. Help me always to trust in Your loving care for me.
MEDITATION: Lord Jesus, Your mother Mary's grief was surpassed by her love for you. So often You come to me in others and their love gives me new life. Help me to see how often You love me through the people in my life.
MEDITATION: Lord Jesus, sometimes I am indifferent to the needs of others in my life. I even neglect those whom I love. Help me to see that loving others is the surest way to find You in my life.