Monday, January 14, 2019

9 Days for Life


 

Dan Lynch
January 14, 2019

The US Bishops 9 Days for Life Novena begins today and continues through Tuesday, January 22, 2019. It is a multi-faceted novena for the respect and protection of every human life.

Please join us and thousands of Catholics nationwide in this novena for a Culture of Life through the Intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Unborn.

Here is the link to the novena with the daily intercessions, reflections and suggested acts of reparation.

For more information visit www.9daysforlife.com)

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Pope Francis to U.S. bishops on retreat: Abuse crisis requires conversion and humility

Pope Francis walks in front of a candle in memory of victims of sexual abuse as he visits St. Mary's Pro-Cathedral in Dublin Aug. 25. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The clerical abuse crisis and the "crisis of credibility" it created for the U.S. bishops have led to serious divisions within the U.S. church and to a temptation to look for administrative solutions to problems that go much deeper, Pope Francis told the U.S. bishops.

Without a clear and decisive focus on spiritual conversion and Gospel-inspired ways of responding to victims and exercising ministry, "everything we do risks being tainted by self-referentiality, self-preservation and defensiveness, and thus doomed from the start," the pope wrote.

In a letter distributed to the bishops at the beginning of their Jan. 2-8 retreat, Pope Francis said he was convinced their response to the "sins and crimes" of abuse and "the efforts made to deny or conceal them" must be found through "heartfelt, prayerful and collective listening to the word of God and to the pain of our people."

"As we know," he said, "the mentality that would cover things up, far from helping to resolve conflicts, enabled them to fester and cause even greater harm to the network of relationships that today we are called to heal and restore."

The "abuses of power and conscience and sexual abuse, and the poor way that they were handled" continue to harm the church and its mission, he said, but so does "the pain of seeing an episcopate lacking in unity and concentrated more on pointing fingers than on seeking paths of reconciliation."

Such a division, which goes well beyond a "healthy" diversity of opinions, is what caused him to recommend a retreat because, the pope said, "this situation forces us to look to what is essential and to rid ourselves of all that stands in the way of a clear witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ."

The pope said he had hoped "to be physically present" with the bishops for the retreat, but since that was not possible, he was pleased they accepted his suggestion to have the gathering be led by Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher of the papal household.

Pope Francis originally had suggested the bishops make a retreat in November instead of holding their annual general meeting. But the scope of the abuse crisis and the intense pressure the bishops' felt to act led them to keep the November meeting and plan the retreat for January.

The pope said he had hoped "to be physically present" with the bishops for the retreat, but since that was not possible, he was pleased they accepted his suggestion to have the gathering be led by Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher of the papal household.

Plans for the November meeting and for the retreat came after a summer of shocking news: revelations of credible abuse accusations against Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick, retired archbishop of Washington; the release of a Pennsylvania grand jury report accusing more than 300 priests in six dioceses of abusing more than 1,000 children in a period spanning 70 years; and accusations published by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, former apostolic nuncio to the United States, that Pope Francis had known about and ignored allegations that Archbishop McCarrick had sexually harassed seminarians.

In his letter to the bishops, Pope Francis said he suggested the retreat "as a necessary step toward responding in the spirit of the Gospel to the crisis of credibility that you are experiencing as a church."

"We know that, given the seriousness of the situation, no response or approach seems adequate," the pope wrote. Still, pastors must have the wisdom to offer a response based on listening to God in prayer and to the suffering of the victims.

Pope Francis said church leaders must "abandon a modus operandi of disparaging, discrediting, playing the victim or the scold in our relationships," and instead listen to the "gentle breeze" of the Gospel message.

Encouraging the bishops to continue taking steps "to combat the 'culture of abuse' and to deal with the crisis of credibility," he warned that credibility "cannot be regained by issuing stern decrees or by simply creating new committees or improving flow charts, as if we were in charge of a department of human resources. That kind of vision ends up reducing the mission of the bishop and that of the church to a mere administrative or organizational function in the 'evangelization business.'"

A restored credibility, he said, can only be "the fruit of a united body that, while acknowledging its sinfulness and limitations, is at the same time capable of preaching the need for conversion. For we do not want to preach ourselves but rather Christ who died for us."

"We want to testify that at the darkest moments of our history the Lord makes himself present, opens new paths and anoints our faltering faith, our wavering hope and our tepid charity," the pope said.

The bishops as a group, he said, must have a "collegial awareness of our being sinners in need of constant conversion, albeit deeply distressed and pained by all that that has happened.

Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God

Tomorrow, the Bishops of the United States will assemble at Mundelein Seminary for a seven-day retreat of prayer and reflection.

In dealing with the sexual abuse crisis in our Church, the bishops were expecting to implement reforms at their annual meeting this past November. At the last minute, Pope Francis forbade any official act of the U.S. Bishops to deal with the sexual abuse scandal (Rocked to the Core – Again!). Instead, Pope Francis called the Bishops to a spiritual retreat.

Was the Pope correct in insisting that communal prayer and reflection should come before action at this grave moment in salvation history? Only time will tell, but a good outcome of this retreat is far from certain.

Since the Church was established by Jesus Christ, there has been a constant and ferocious battle for its soul. Each generation has had to rise to the challenge of protecting and supporting her. Some generations have failed, others have triumphed.

Those generations who have failed did not recognize or call upon the great gifts of aid offered by Heaven: the Sacraments, and the intercession of Our Lady and all the Angels & Saints. The generations that accept these gifts invoked their grace and through perseverance triumph.

What will history say about our response at this moment? Will we fail or be among the triumphant?

So many times, throughout history, calling upon the intercession of Our Lady has been the difference: Lepanto, Fatima, Guadalupe. Now, in our time Our Lady has already shown us the way through this challenge to the Church. Our Lady of America, the Immaculate Virgin calls us all (especially Bishops and priests) to seek purity in all things, imitate the Holy Family and frequently receive the Sacraments. Not only does she give us the methods, but she promises the graces to succeed as well. All we must do is earnestly seek her intercession.

As our Bishops’ meet, pray and reflect we must cover them in prayer and invoke the intercession of Our Lady of America, the Immaculate Virgin on their behalf.

Our Lady of America, please open their eyes, hearts and intellect to the graces you promise and the plan you have put forth. Through our prayer we beg your intercession.

Let us not be among the generations who have failed, but rather among those that turn to Our Mother and triumph!

Please do everything you can to pray and to spread this devotion so more will join the chorus.

By thy Holy and Immaculate Conception O Mary, deliver us from evil!

Spread the devotion through our free prayer card program. Order your free prayers cards today. If we do our part, I am confident the bishops will do theirs!

Thursday, December 27, 2018

St. John, the Builder of Mary’s House

By: Dan Lynch
December 27 is the feast of St. John, the Beloved Disciple. From the day of the crucifixion, when Jesus entrusted His mother to the care of John, he took her into his heart and cared for her. After the persecution under King Herod Agrippa I in the year 42, John left Jerusalem and sailed over the Mediterranean Sea with Mary to safety to Ephesus, in what is now Turkey. Ephesus was the rich center of the Roman Empire in the East with a population of a quarter million. There he built her a house where she lived and from which she was assumed into heaven.

In the 18th century, Pope Benedict XIV accepted the accumulated evidence and tradition and wrote in his Treatise on the Holy Mysteries on Holy Friday that “St. John leaving for Ephesus, took Mary with him and it was there that the Blessed Mother was assumed into heaven.”
          
In the early 1820s, Blessed Sister Catherine Emmerich saw visions of the life of the Blessed Virgin Mary and of her house in Ephesus. Blessed Catherine was a German mystic who was bed-ridden with the stigmata. She never left Germany. Her visions were extraordinarily extensive and detailed. They contained facts and places that she could not have naturally known. She described her visions in detail to her secretary, Clemens Brentano. He published a book about them.

Dan Lynch at Mary’s House

Blessed Catherine said that after Our Lord's Ascension, Mary lived on Mount Zion in Jerusalem, then in Bethany, and then was taken by St. John to Ephesus, where she lived for nine years in the house that he built for her. Several Christian families had already settled there in caves or rustic huts in a scattered village where they lived a simple, natural life.

In 1890, Brentano's book was read by some priests in Izmir, Turkey, near Ephesus. They were curious to see whether they could confirm Blessed Catherine’s description of Mary's House from the evidence on the ground. So, they went up the mountain in the summer of 1891. After searching in the mountains, they came upon some natives who led them to the remains of a small house near the summit of an isolated peak. The site and the remains corresponded accurately to Blessed Catherine’s description.

On December 1, 1891, Archbishop Timoni of Smyrna declared in a formal document that those remains were truly the remains of the house inhabited by the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The priests learned that the natives were descended from the early Christians of Ephesus and that the house had been venerated since time immemorial. They called the house Panaya Kapulu– “The House of the Holy Virgin”.
          
Archaeologists discovered that the foundation of Mary’s House dated to the first century. Later archeological excavations corresponded with Blessed Catherine’s description and diagrams. They proved that her visions in fact showed reality and eventually Mary's House was rebuilt upon the original foundation.

Eusebius wrote in his chronicle that St. John died in peace at Ephesus, in the third year of the reign of the Roman Emperor Trajan and the hundredth of the Christian era at the age of approximately 94. He was buried in a graveyard on Ayasuluk Hill in what is now the city of Selcuk.

In September 2001, soon after the 9/11 attack on America, I flew to Muslim Turkey with three companions on an almost empty airplane. Many people were afraid to fly for fear of more airplanes being hijacked.

Pilgrims of all faiths come to visit Mary's House, especially Muslims. They call the House, Meryem Anna Evi, Mother Mary's House.

Pope Pius XII said, “The holy House should be a Marian center which is unique throughout the world, a place where Christians and Muslims of all rites and denominations and of all nationalities can meet each other to venerate the Mother of Jesus, and make true the prophecy, ‘All Generations will call me blessed.’ ” (L’Osservatore Romano, April 24, 1954).

St. John XXIII, St. Paul VI, St. John Paul II and Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI all made pilgrimages to Mary’s House. Over one million visitors journey there each year.

I went to Ephesus to pray for reconciliation and peace with Muslims. I also went there to walk in the footsteps of St. John to Mary’s House. The early morning sun beat down on me as I prayed at his tomb located in the ruins of the Basilica devoted to him on Ayasuluk Hill outside of the city of Ephesus. John wrote his gospel and his letters in Ephesus and he often walked through the ancient city and up the mountain to Mary’s House.

I walked in the footsteps of John's likely route down from his Basilica and west to the ancient city of Ephesus. I stopped there for a visit at the ruins of Mary’s Church. This was the first church in the world that was dedicated to Mary. The Council of Ephesus was held there in 431. It proclaimed the first Marian dogma that Mary is the Mother of God.

After a refreshing drink of water, I continued through the magnificent ruins of Ephesus and began the climb up the highway of Nightingale Mountain, from which I could see the powder blue sky, the cobalt blue Aegean Sea and the Island of Samos glistening like a diamond in the sea. As I climbed the road up the mountain, I passed the huge statue of Mary that overlooks the valley below. I took it as a sign that she was encouraging me to keep climbing up to her House.

Three and a half hours after I left St. John’s Basilica, I reached a plateau hidden on the back of the mountaintop. As the sweat poured off my face, I stood before Mary’s House which is nestled in the mountainside. The restored House is made of stone and its foundation has been there for almost 2000 years. This House was the fountain of grace from which sprang the dogma of Mary Mother of God and the great basilicas of Ephesus dedicated to Mary and to St. John. From here her body and soul were assumed into heaven.

I walked up to her House and entered the chapel which was once Mary’s living room. I prayed there and then exited through what was once Mary’s bedroom.

Then I walked behind her House and prayed while on the path of the Stations of the Cross that Mary herself made, according to the visions of Blessed Sister Catherine Emmerich, and then at the likely place of her assumption. I reflected on her House that had lain here in ruins for almost 1900 years, little known by the world except for local venerators, until the Church ruled in the late 19th century that the ruins were the remains of Mary’s House.


You may read the full story of the life of St. John and Mary’s House in my book The Gospel of Lovefound here.

Father Peter Damian Fehlner, O.F.M Conv. S.T.D. wrote about the book, “You will experience John’s life as if you were with him nearly 2000 years ago. You will experience John’s innermost thoughts and doubts as he struggles to accept Jesus Christ as the Messiah, the Son of Man and the Son of God, and his teachings that constitute the Gospel of Love. You will see John’s transformation from tempestuousness to tranquility as he gradually comes to know and believe in the love that God has for all of us. Our thanks to Dan Lynch for this inspiring work!”

Father James McCurry, Minister Provincial of the Order of Friars Minor Conventual, gave the homily at Father Peter’s funeral.  He said that he was a “scholar, theologian and genius.” He said that Father Peter was “genuinely a true genius, one of the greatest scholars in the 800 year history of the Franciscan Order.”