Thursday, August 31, 2017

Augustine and the Heretics

St. AugustineI missed posting this in St Augustine’s feast day this week, but with all the talk about this great doctor of the church it is easy to neglect his battle against three particular heresies that were prevalent in his day and which plague us still.
A heresy is never totally wrong. Its just that it is never totally right. A heresy is a half truth or a truth twisted. The reason a heresy is attractive is that it always seems to make perfect sense. A heresy is a religious truth you would make up if you were making up a religion. However, Catholic truth is stranger and subtler than that, and it takes sound teaching to expose and battle the heresy.
Heresies are persistent because they are attractive, and they are persistent because they usually console the heretic in some way. In other words, it is easier to believe the heresy than the fullness of the Catholic truth. The fullness of the Catholic truth is either difficult to believe or difficult to obey or both. The heresy always offers an easy way out–either an easier way of believing or an easier way of behaving.
The first heresy Augustine battled was Donatism. The Donatists were a schism in the North African Church that were sort of like Puritanical Protestant or Jansenists. They thought the church should be pure, and should be a church of saints, not sinners. They were unwilling to accept back those Christians who, out of weakness, compromised their faith during the persecutions and they insisted that for sacraments to be valid the priest had to be faultless.
While this sort of rigorism is understandable, it doesn’t take much to see where it leads. It leads to unbearable self righteousness. “We few, we holy few. We are the remnant, the true church, the only real Christians…” Nonsense. If you think the core error of Donatism does not exist today, look a little harder. Although the name “Donatism” is now a footnote of church history there are plenty of rigorist schisms and sects and plenty of the attitude within individuals and groups in many different churches.
The fact is, most heresies, while seeming attractive, can be countered very easily with a passage from the gospel. Donatists should read the parable of the wheat and tares. The sinners and the saints grow together and God will sort it out.
The second heresy Augustine battled was Manicheanism. This false religion was started by a Persian prophet named Mani (2. 274) He blended elements of occult Judaism, Zoroastrianism and Christianity and came up with a complicated New Age kind of religion. His core heresy was dualism. He taught that the physical world was evil and the spiritual world was good. Manicheanism had a huge influence in the 3-4 centuries. We can see it in the harsh asceticism of the early monks for example.Augustine’s teachings on the nature of evil countered this. He taught that the created world is good because God does not make evil. Instead evil is good twisted, distorted or destroyed.
While Manicheanism is also a footnote in church history, the idea that the physical world is bad and the spiritual world is good continues today. It is present in some New Age teachings and in Eastern religions and philosophies. It also lingers like an echo in elements of Christianity. It is tempting to look down on physical pleasures, and the right embrace of holy poverty can be twisted into a hatred or disgust or guilt about the goodness of the physical world.
The third heresy is Pelagianism. This is named for the British monk Pelagius (d. 420) His teaching was probably misunderstood, but if so, the misunderstanding was that he taught that the human will was not so tainted by original sin that it lost its power to do good. In other words, you can do good without God’s help. This led to the conclusion that you can get into heaven through good works.
Augustine corrected this heresy with his teachings on grace. It is God’s grace, continually working in and through creation and in and through our own lives that empowers our faith, empowers our good works and empowers the supernatural transformation of our lives.
These three heresies do us the service of bringing to light the true Catholic teaching. The created world is beautiful, good and true. If this is true, then we also, created in God’s image are good. However, that goodness is wounded by original sin. While we don’t have to be perfect at once, that is our destiny, our calling and the hard adventure on which we must embark. God’s good grace gives us the power to do this. Without his grace we are paralyzed by sin and locked in darkness. With his grace we can be free.

 August 30, 2017 by Fr. Dwight Longenecker

A Year in the Seminary

Lets keep the seminarians in prayer and, in a particular way, we lift up the three men who reside here in our rectory, Vianney House: Joe Moynahan, Mike Niemaszyk and Dan Simard, as they begin their retreat today (8/30/17) through Sunday in preparation for the year ahead! Enjoy this insightful video! ~Fr Gary; Corpus Christi Parish

Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Novena - Day 2

Oh most holy daughter of Adam, your precious Son chose you as the vessel for His entry to the world. Where our first mother, Eve, fell short, you fulfilled God’s call for a Mother’s holiness. Pray for me today that the feast of your birth may give great joy to my soul that I may be born to new life through your Son.
Dearest Mother, please pray for me and for these my intentions…
(State your intentions)
Hail Mary…

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

A Gentle Reminder From Pope Francis

This life will go by fast.

Don't fight with people, don't criticize your body so much, don't complain so much.

Don't lose sleep over your bills. Look for the person that makes you happy. If you make a mistake, let it go and keep seeking your happiness.

Never stop being a good parent. Don't worry so much about buying luxuries and comforts for your home, and don't kill yourself trying to leave an inheritance for your family. Those benefits should be earned by each person, so don't dedicate yourself to accumulating money.

Enjoy, travel, enjoy your journeys, see new places, give yourself the pleasures you deserve. Allow dogs to get closer. Don't put away the fine glassware. Utilize the new dinnerware; don't save your favorite perfume, use it to go out with yourself; wear out your favorite sport shoes; repeat your favorite clothes.

So what? That's not bad. Why not now? Why not pray now instead of waiting until before you sleep? Why not call now? Why not forgive now? We wait so long for Christmas; for Friday; for Reunions; for another year; for when I have money; for love to come; when everything is perfect...look...

Everything perfect doesn't exist. Human beings can't accomplish this because it simply was not intended to be completed here. Here is an opportunity to learn.

So take this challenge that is life and do it more, forgive more, embrace more, love more intensely and leave the rest in God's hands.  Amen.

Novena for Marriage and Family/Nativity of Our Lady - Day 1

Prayer for Marriage and Family
Jesus, I trust in You. Please grant through Your mother’s intercession that I may always bring Your hope into my family.
Jesus, I trust in You. Please grant through Your mother’s intercession that I may always bring Your love into my family.
Jesus, I trust in You. Please grant through Your mother’s intercession that I may always bring Your mercy into my family.
Our Lady, on this feast of your birth, please pray for stronger and holier marriages.

Day 1 – Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Novena
Most lovable Mother Mary, our Father in Heaven created you with delight. You are His creature whom He made worthy to become the holy Mother of His Son. You were born into a family of Saints. Pray for me today that my joy in your Son will increase and that my family may become more holy.
Dearest Mother, please pray for me and for these my intentions…
(State your intentions)
Hail Mary…

Monday, August 28, 2017

Feast Day of St. Augustine

St. Monica and St. Augustine
On this seriously important feast day we must celebrate motherhood and the rewards of fervent prayer especially that of a mother. It is good to take note of the bad boy she was praying for. Politically he was set against the church. He had more than a few relationships with women and in fact fathered a son he loved very much.

Because I have five sons and spend hours that have turned into years praying for their conversion and subsequent service to Jesus and His Church, I for a time, built up resentment towards
Augustine for his delay in responding to the love of God and his mother. To be honest I still get a bit tight when confronted with my own sons and their lack of response reflecting on the life of St Augustine. I hope some day to have a talkwith this great Saint about just what took him so long!

For now I am almost content with waiting,  praying and wondering why most
of the world is taking such a long time to bend their knees.

God is always loving and pouring out grace on all of us.

~Margaret of Souls for Jesus

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The Most Powerful Woman in the World


The magazine, the official journal of the National Geographic Society, boasts a global circulation of 6.4 million.

Written by Maureen Orth and photographed by Markosian, National Geographic’s December cover story, “How the Virgin Mary Became the World’s Most Powerful Woman,” details how Mary’s “image and legacy are found and celebrated around the world.”

The issue is currently available at print newsstands as well as online.

In her piece, Orth researches Mary’s appearances around the world – and explains the common devotion to Jesus’ mother.

“As a universal symbol of maternal love, as well as of suffering and sacrifice, Mary is often the touchstone of our longing for meaning, a more accessible link to the supernatural than formal church teachings,” Orth wrote. “Her mantle offers both security and protection.”

“Pope Francis,” she added, “when once asked what Mary meant to him, answered, ‘She is my mamá.’”

For the story, National Geographic asked photographer Markosian to capture “people’s relationship with Mary.”

As she traveled around the world, Markosian, raised Christian, realized she had her “own questions about my faith.”

“I was brought up in a family who believed in Mary, but I didn’t know what to feel,” she said in a promo for the project. “I guess I didn’t necessarily understand my relationship with Mary. I didn’t understand whether I had one and that’s why I struggled with this topic for so long.”

“I spent most of this time traveling to all these places frustrated because I couldn’t feel – I couldn’t feel a connection towards Mary,” she added.

The turning point came when she photographed a mother and her baby bathing in the sacred Saut d’Eau falls in Haiti.

“She embodied Mary. She represented what Mary meant. And that was enough,” she stressed. “That was more than a picture.”

That scene inspired her to return to her church.

“I knew that I had to go back to the church where my grandmother used to sing in and I was baptized,” she said. “And it didn’t have to do with the story. It just was something that I – I knew I had to do for myself.”

Monday, August 21, 2017

The Queenship of The Blessed Virgin Mary

"We are taught that Mary, the Virgin Mother of God, reigns with a mother’s solicitude over the entire world, just as she is crowned in heavenly blessedness with the glory of a Queen."
~Pope Pius XII, Encyclical Letter, Ad Caeli Reginam (To the Queen of Heaven)

from Dan Lynch
In his encyclical Ad Caeli Reginam, (To the Queen of Heaven) Pope Pius XII wrote, “The Blessed Virgin Mary should be called Queen, not only because of her Divine Motherhood, but also because God has willed her to have an exceptional role in the work of our eternal salvation.”

Our Lady of America identified herself to Sister Mildred, the mystic, and said, “I am the Immaculate One, Patroness of your land.” She appeared as our Queen wearing her crown, manifesting her Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart and holding out to us the lily of purity.

On September 26, 1956, Our Lady appeared to Sister Mildred and called her children in America to dedicate their lives to her purity. She said:
My child, I entrust you with this message that you must make known to my children in America. I wish it to be the country dedicated to my purity. The wonders I will work will be the wonders of the soul. They must have faith and believe firmly in my love for them. I desire that they be the children of my Pure Heart. I desire, through my children in America, to further the cause of faith and purity among peoples and nations. Let them come with confidence and simplicity, and I, their Mother, will teach them to become pure like to my Heart that their own hearts may be more pleasing to the Heart of my Son.
However, America has not dedicated itself to Our Lady’s purity, as she requested, but has dedicated itself to the idol of “choice” that has brought forth the fruits of legalized contraception, abortion, sodomy, false same sex marriage and suicide, all of which are symptoms of what St. John Paul II called a Culture of Death.

All of these symptoms of our Culture of Death arise from worshiping the idol of “choice.” As the United States Supreme Court wrote, fundamental rights “extend to certain personal choices central to individual dignity and autonomy, including intimate choices defining personal identity and beliefs.” This is bizarre and abstract language that is the basis for legalizing all sexual acts outside of God’s design and the killing of the unborn children that result from them. According to God’s design, sexual acts are reserved for a man and a woman, husband and wife, in a marriage in which the acts unite them and are open to the reception of new life.

The Court’s bizarre language is the basis for its inventions of these new false fundamental rights, all or any of which people are now free to choose. So, what was always evil, is now good. However, as the prophet Isaiah said, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil.” (Isaiah 5:20).

So, what are we to do?

May we turn to Our Lady of America, our Queen, may we dedicate ourselves to her purity and practice her devotion; may America be converted and may Tobit’s prophecy be fulfilled in our time by our Culture of Death’s abandonment of “their idols which have deceitfully led them into error.” (Tobit 14:6).

Visit our website to learn how to practice the devotion to Our Lady of America, to wear her medal of protection and how to host Visitations of her image with holy hours of prayer to obtain her promised purity, peace and protection!

May we speak the truth in love to our friends and family about same-sex attraction and false same-sex marriages and act without unjust discrimination and pray for those in same-sex relationships and their friends and families who support their immoral choices because of false love. It is not true love to support anyone in immorality. We all want everyone to love, to be loved and to be in loving relationships, but it must be according to God’s design. Those with same-sex attraction may truly love others without engaging in immoral sexual acts outside of God’s design.

Our Lady of America revealed her medal of protection with the ejaculation, “By thy holy and Immaculate Conception, O Mary, deliver us from evil.” The darkness that is enveloping our country is covering the light of the Christian principles upon which it was founded. Our Lady is the River of Light who can dispel this darkness. “There is hope for your future, says the Lord.” (Jer. 31:17).

Friday, August 18, 2017

Melancholic Temperaments, Desires versus Temptations and Discerning God’s Will

Melancholic Temperaments, Desires versus Temptations and Discerning God's WillDescription: Today, Dan Burke and Melissa Elson answer your questions about melancholic temperaments, desires versus temptations, and discerning God's will.
Topics/Questions covered in the show:
  • How can someone keep a melancholic, emotional temperament under control?
  • What is wrong with the Buddhist practice of “mindfulness” popularized by Jon Kabat-Zinn?
  • What is the examen prayer?
  • What is the difference between desires and temptations?
  • When do our desires come from God?
  • How can I know that my will is aligned with God's will?
What is Divine Intimacy Radio?
The Divine Intimacy Radio Show is a haven of rest and wellspring of spiritual life for those seeking intimacy with God and the enlightened path of Catholic mystical and ascetical wisdom.
Every week, Dan Burke and Melissa Elson explore topics related to the interior life and Catholic teaching, including prayer, spiritual direction, meditation, contemplation, and holiness.
Divine Intimacy Radio Show and EWTN!
This radio show can also be heard every Sunday on EWTN Radio Sundays at 6:30 am1:30 pm, and 11:00 pm Eastern time. We are grateful to EWTN for their support!
  • Please click on the arrow below to listen to this week’s show! Don’t forget to tell your friends about the show and help us get the word out. Click HERE for mobile devices or on the arrow below to listen to the show:

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Food for Thought: The Great American Eclipse Occurs on the Eve of Mary's Feast

That's right! But not just any feast day. It's the eve of the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in the traditional liturgical calendar and the feast of the Queenship of Mary in the modern calendar.

Remember what Mary told the children at Fatima? "In the end my Immaculate Heart will triumph." Is her Son, the Light of the World, using this heavenly event to remind us to listen to and honor His Mother as Queen of heaven and earth?

 And consider this. August was the month the little shepherd children were kidnapped by the mayor of Ourem on the day of the scheduled apparition, August 13th. Instead of being at the Cova de Iria with the "beautiful lady" the children were being interrogated by the mayor and threatened with being boiled in oil. They experienced a virtual martyrdom. Mary appeared to them later on August 19th. These two events graphically illustrate the battle between godless secularism and the Catholic faith.

Shamash, sun god of the Babylonians
All of these events should make us look at the eclipse with Christian eyes. Remember, we've been

 told there will be signs in the heavens, and certainly this rare event of a solar eclipse is a big sign! People are paying attention, but are they only considering nature? Or will they recognize that the sun is once more being used by God as a wake up call for His people? Remember, the day of the crucifixion there was a solar eclipse as well, a reminder that God rules nature.

There's certainly symbolism here. We have seen the Son eclipsed in our times, often by people who have replaced the Creator with his creatures. The sun and moon played (and continue to play) significant roles in many pagan religions. The Babylonians had a sun god, Shamash, who was adopted by the Assyrians and other pagan civilizations. In Egypt Ra was the god of the sun often depicted with a solar disc. Among many pagans the moon was even more important because of its changing cycles. It continues to be central to the pagan practices of Wicca, the New Age, and Freemasonry.

Symbols in freemasonry include the sun & moon.
In Christianity, however, the sun serves the Creator. It is used metaphorically as in the image of Christ as the "light of the world." The moon also, sometimes called "Mary's lantern," is an image of her reflecting the light of her Son. We don't worship these heavenly objects any more than we worship photographs of beloved family members. They are simply reminders to turn our hearts and minds to worship the Creator, not the creature.

So, as we prepare for the great cosmic even of August 21st, which is the first solar eclipse since 1776 where the "path of totality" takes place completely within the confines of the U.S., let us read "the signs of the times" with a Christian outlook. This is surely an invitation from Jesus Christ to listen to the requests of His Mother 100 year ago at Fatima to pray the rosary and do penance for the conversion of souls and peace in the world. Will we listen this time? In view of the very serious international threat from North Korea and the devastating moral situations all over the world, we should be mindful of Mary's warning:
You have seen hell where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them, God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved and there will be peace. The war is going to end: but if people do not cease offending God, a worse one will break out during the Pontificate of Pope Pius XI. When you see a night illumined by an unknown light, know that this is the great sign given you by God that he is about to punish the world for its crimes, by means of war, famine, and persecutions of the Church and of the Holy Father. To prevent this, I shall come to ask for the Consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart, and the Communion of reparation on the First Saturdays. If my requests are heeded, Russia will be converted, and there will be peace; if not, she will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church. The good will be martyred; the Holy Father will have much to suffer; various nations will be annihilated. In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, and she shall be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world.[9]
Miracle of the sun at Fatima

In May, Cardinal Raymond Burke called for the collegial consecration of Russia:
"The teaching of the Faith in its integrity and with courage is the heart of the office of the Church’s pastors: the Roman Pontiff, the Bishops in communion with the See of Peter, and their principal co-workers, the priests. For that reason, the Third Secret is directed, with particular force, to those who exercise the pastoral office in the Church. Their failure to teach the faith, in fidelity to the Church’s constant teaching and practice, whether through a superficial, confused or even worldly approach, and their silence endangers mortally, in the deepest spiritual sense, the very souls for whom they have been consecrated to care spiritually. The poisonous fruits of the failure of the Church’s pastors is seen in a manner of worship, of teaching and of moral discipline which is not in accord with Divine Law."
...For those who may still object to calling for the consecration of Russia, Cardinal Burke recalled the words of Pope St. John Paul II who in 1982 during his consecration of the world to the Immaculate Heart noted: “Mary’s appeal is not for just once. Her appeal must be taken up by generation after generation, in accordance with the ever new ‘signs of the times’. It must be unceasingly returned to. It must ever be taken up anew.”
Join me in prayer for praying that Pope Francis with all the bishops of the Church will carry out the consecration explicitly mentioning Russia. In the meantime, let us do our part by praying the daily rosary, making the five First Saturdays, and doing penance for the conversion of sinners and peace in the world.

Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us.  Read more here about the "Great American Eclipse"....

Monday, August 14, 2017

St. Maximilian Kolbe - August 14th

The deathcamp Auschwitz became the killing centre during WWII where the largest numbers of European Jews were murdered by the Nazis. One Christian man who died here became a martyr to the truth of evils of Nazism - a true hero for our time, a saint who lived what he preached, total love toward God and man ...
Maximilian Kolbe was a Polish priest who died as prisoner 16770 in Auschwitz, on August 14, 1941. When a prisoner escaped from the camp, the Nazis selected 10 others to be killed by starvation in reprisal for the escape. One of the 10 selected to die, Franciszek Gajowniczek, began to cry: My wife! My children! I will never see them again! At this Maximilian Kolbe stepped forward and asked to die in his place. His request was granted ...
The story begins on 8 January, 1894 - Raymond Kolbe was born the second son of a poor weaver at Zdunska Wola near Lodz in Poland. In his infancy Raymond seems to have been normally mischievous but one day, after his mother had scolded him for some mischief or other, her words took effect and brought about a radical change in the child's behaviour. Later Raymond explained this change:'That night I asked the Mother of God what was to become of me. Then she came to me holding two crowns, one white, the other red. She asked if I was willing to accept either of these crowns. The white one meant that I should persevere in purity, and the red that I should become a martyr. I said that I would accept them both.' 

Young Maximilian Kolbe
Thus early did the child believe and accept that he was destined for martyrdom. His belief in his dream colored all his future actions.
In 1910 he became a Franciscan, taking the name Maximilian. He studied at Rome and was ordained in 1919. He returned to Poland and taught Church history in a seminary. He built a friary just west of Warsaw, which eventually housed 762 Franciscans and printed eleven periodicals, one with a circulation of over a million, including a daily newspaper.
In 1930 he went to Asia, where he founded friaries in Nagasaki and in India. In 1936 he was recalled to supervise the original friary near Warsaw. When Germany invaded Poland in 1939, he knew that the friary would be seized, and sent most of the friars home. He was imprisoned briefly and then released, and returned to the friary, where he and the other friars began to organize a shelter for 3,000 Polish refugees, among whom were 2,000 Jews. The friars shared everything they had with the refugees. They housed, fed and clothed them, and brought all their machinery into use in their service.
Inevitably, the community came under suspicion and was watched closely. Then in May 1941 the friary was closed down and Maximilian and four companions were taken to the death camp Auschwitz, where they worked with the other prisoners. 
On June 15, 1941, he managed to write a letter to his mother:
'Dear Mama, At the end of the month of May I was transferred to the camp of Auschwitz. Everything is well in my regard. Be tranquil about me and about my health, because the good God is everywhere and provides for everything with love. It would be well that you do not write to me until you will have received other news from me, because I do not know how long I will stay here. Cordial greetings and kisses, affectionately. Raymond.'and kisses, affectionately. Raymond.'
One day an SS officer found some of the heaviest planks he could lay hold of and personally loaded them on the Franciscan's back, ordering him to run. When he collapsed, the SS officer kicked him in the stomach and face and had his men give him fifty lashes. When the priest lost consciousness the Nazis threw him in the mud and left him for dead. But his companions managed to smuggle him to the camp infirmary - and he recovered. The doctor, Rudolph Diem, later recalled:'I can say with certainty that during my four years in Auschwitz, I never saw such a sublime example of the love of God and one's neighbor.'

Prisoners at Auschwitz were slowly and systematically starved, and their pitiful rations were barely enough to sustain a child: one cup of imitation coffee in the morning, and weak soup and half a loaf of bread after work. When food was brought, everyone struggled to get his place and be sure of a portion. Father Maximilian Kolbe however, stood aside in spite of the ravages of starvation, and frequently there would be none left for him. At other times he shared his meager ration of soup or bread with others.
In the harshness of the slaughterhouse Father Kolbe maintained the gentleness of Christ. At night he seldom would lie down to rest. He moved from bunk to bunk, saying: 'I am a Catholic priest. Can I do anything for you?' 
A prisoner later recalled how he and several others often crawled across the floor at night to be near the bed of Father Kolbe, to make their confessions and ask for consolation. Father Kolbe pleaded with his fellow prisoners to forgive their persecutors and to overcome evil with good. When he was beaten by the guards, he never cried out. Instead, he prayed for his tormentors.

Maximilian Kolbe the Saint
A Protestant doctor who treated the patients in Block 12 later recalled how Father Kolbe waited until all the others had been treated before asking for help. He constantly sacrificed himself for the others.
In order to discourage escapes, Auschwitz had a rule that if a man escaped, ten men would be killed in retaliation. In July 1941 a man from Kolbe's bunker escaped. The dreadful irony of the story is that the escaped prisoner was later found drowned in a camp latrine, so the terrible reprisals had been exercised without cause. But the remaining men of the bunker were led out.
'The fugitive has not been found!' the commandant Karl Fritsch screamed. 'You will all pay for this. Ten of you will be locked in the starvation bunker without food or water until they die.' The prisoners trembled in terror. A few days in this bunker without food and water, and a man's intestines dried up and his brain turned to fire.
The ten were selected, including Franciszek Gajowniczek, imprisoned for helping the Polish Resistance. He couldn't help a cry of anguish. 'My poor wife!' he sobbed. 'My poor children! What will they do?' When he uttered this cry of dismay, Maximilian stepped silently forward, took off his cap, and stood before the commandant and said, 'I am a Catholic priest. Let me take his place. I am old. He has a wife and children.'
Astounded, the icy-faced Nazi commandant asked, 'What does this Polish pig want?'
Father kolbe pointed with his hand to the condemned Franciszek Gajowniczek and repeated 'I am a Catholic priest from Poland; I would like to take his place, because he has a wife and children.'
Observers believed in horror that the commandant would be angered and would refuse the request, or would order the death of both men. The commandant remained silent for a moment. What his thoughts were on being confronted by this brave priest we have no idea. Amazingly, however, he acceded to the request. Apparantly the Nazis had more use for a young worker than for an old one, and was happy to make the exchange. Franciszek Gajowniczek was returned to the ranks, and the priest took his place.

Gajowniczek later recalled:
'I could only thank him with my eyes. I was stunned and could hardly grasp what was going on. The immensity of it: I, the condemned, am to live and someone else willingly and voluntarily offers his life for me - a stranger. Is this some dream?
I was put back into my place without having had time to say anything to Maximilian Kolbe. I was saved. And I owe to him the fact that I could tell you all this. The news quickly spread all round the camp. It was the first and the last time that such an incident happened in the whole history of Auschwitz.
For a long time I felt remorse when I thought of Maximilian. By allowing myself to be saved, I had signed his death warrant. But now, on reflection, I understood that a man like him could not have done otherwise. Perhaps he thought that as a priest his place was beside the condemned men to help them keep hope. In fact he was with them to the last.'‘
Franciszek Gajowniczek
Father Kolbe was thrown down the stairs of Building 13 along with the other victims and simply left there to starve. Hunger and thirst soon gnawed at the men. Some drank their own urine, others licked moisture on the dank walls. Maximilian Kolbe encouraged the others with prayers, psalms, and meditations on the Passion of Christ. After two weeks, only four were alive. The cell was needed for more victims, and the camp executioner, a common criminal called Bock, came in and injected a lethal dose of cabolic acid into the left arm of each of the four dying men. Kolbe was the only one still fully conscious and with a prayer on his lips, the last prisoner raised his arm for the executioner. His wait was over ...
A personal testimony about the way Maximilian Kolbe met death is given by Bruno Borgowiec, one of the few Poles who were assigned to render service to the starvation bunker. He told it to his parish priest before he died in 1947:
'The ten condemned to death went through terrible days. From the underground cell in which they were shut up there continually arose the echo of prayers and canticles. The man in-charge of emptying the buckets of urine found them always empty. Thirst drove the prisoners to drink the contents. Since they had grown very weak, prayers were now only whispered. At every inspection, when almost all the others were now lying on the floor, Father Kolbe was seen kneeling or standing in the centre as he looked cheerfully in the face of the SS men.
Father Kolbe never asked for anything and did not complain, rather he encouraged the others, saying that the fugitive might be found and then they would all be freed. One of the SS guards remarked: this priest is really a great man. We have never seen anyone like him ..
Two weeks passed in this way. Meanwhile one after another they died, until only Father Kolbe was left. This the authorities felt was too long. The cell was needed for new victims. So one day they brought in the head of the sick-quarters, a German named Bock, who gave Father Kolbe an injection of carbolic acid in the vein of his left arm. Father Kolbe, with a prayer on his lips, himself gave his arm to the executioner. Unable to watch this I left under the pretext of work to be done. Immediately after the SS men had left I returned to the cell, where I found Father Kolbe leaning in a sitting position against the back wall with his eyes open and his head drooping sideways. His face was calm and radiant ..'

So it was that Father Maximilian Kolbe was executed on 14 August, 1941 at the age of forty-seven years, a martyr of charity. The death certificate, as always made out with German precision, indicated the hour of death 12.30.
Father Kolbe's body was removed to the crematorium, and without dignity or ceremony was disposed of, like hundreds of thousands who had gone before him, and hundreds of thousands more who would follow.
The heroism of Father Kolbe went echoing through Auschwitz. In that desert of hatred he had sown love. A survivor Jozef Stemler later recalled: 'In the midst of a brutalization of thought, feeling and words such as had never before been known, man indeed became a ravening wolf in his relations with other men. And into this state of affairs came the heroic self-sacrifice of Father Kolbe.' Another survivor Jerzy Bielecki declared that Father Kolbe's death was 'a shock filled with hope, bringing new life and strength ... It was like a powerful shaft of light in the darkness of the camp.'
The cell where Father Kolbe died is now a shrine. Maximilian Kolbe was beatified as Confessor by Paul VI in 1970, and canonized as Martyr by Pope John Paul II in 1981.

Franciszek Gajowniczek
But what happened to Gajowniczek - the man Father Kolbe saved?
He died on March 13, 1995, at Brzeg in Poland, 95 years old - and 53 years after Kolbe had saved him. But he was never to forget the ragged monk. After his release from Auschwitz, Gajowniczek made his way back to his hometown, with the dream of seeing his family again. He found his wife but his two sons had been killed during the war. 
Every year on August 14 he went back to Auschwitz. He spent the next five decades paying homage to Father Kolbe, honoring the man who died on his behalf.

Friday, August 11, 2017


Q: I have a question regarding the use of marijuana and whether it is considered a sin to smoke it recreationally now that it is legal in Washington state. I have a Catholic friend who smokes it and doesn’t seem to think that there is anything wrong with doing so. What does the church teach about using marijuana recreationally — is it a sin?

A: During the period of continuing formation following my ordination, I was introduced to Stephen Covey’s well-known book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. The second habit has always stuck with me: “Begin with the end in mind.” It means that before we start something, we need to think it out and make sure our present actions will help us toward our future goals.

Covey’s second habit can be applied to the spiritual life. The goal of our spiritual lives is ultimately to love God and others to the fullest possible extent, and ultimately to make it to heaven. What we do in the present should assist us in these spiritual goals.

So to your question, with the understanding that marijuana is a legally prescribed therapeutic drug for certain mental and physical conditions: Does recreational marijuana use help or hinder us in reaching this goal of our Christian life?

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, quoting Vatican II, says the following: “God willed that man should be ‘left in the hand of his own counsel,’ so that he might of his own accord seek his Creator and freely attain his full and blessed perfection by cleaving to him.” (1730) God doesn’t force us to seek and love him; it is something that he has left us free to do.

Marijuana affects the limbic system of the brain, which deals with emotion, behavior, motivation, long-term memory, and sense of smell and time. Using this substance, as many studies show, causes both physical and psychological effects in the user, including heightened heart rates, short-term memory loss, delayed reaction, depression and even anxiety. When a person smokes marijuana, they are placing chemicals in their nervous system that alter their consciousness and have the potential to produce future emotional and physical damage.

Marijuana certainly is not beneficial to the spiritual life, and if it becomes a serious impediment to growth in the spiritual life and drawing closer to God and our ultimate goal, heaven, the church would consider its recreational use a sin. It’s important to remember that there is a big difference between recreational and therapeutic drug use and this understanding does not apply only to marijuana.

YouCat, the youth catechism of the Catholic Church, says: “Every time a person loses or forgets himself by becoming intoxicated, which can also include excessive eating and drinking, indulgence in sexual activity, or speeding with an automobile, he loses some of his human dignity and freedom and therefore sins against God. This should be distinguished from the reasonable, conscious, and moderate use of enjoyable things.” (389)

When we forget ourselves in this way through “intoxication” of any kind, we run the risk of forgetting what the purpose and goal of our lives are, and certainly are not considering this ultimate goal in the present.

St. Paul says, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?” (1 Corinthians 6:19) We were created to be good and responsible stewards of God’s creation, including our bodies, which are sacred. Recreational marijuana use can be an impediment to the fullness of life that God wants to share with us and so can become a hindrance to being a good steward of what God has created.

May God’s blessings be with you today and always!
~by Father Cal Christiansen

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

The Benefits of Spiritual Formation

The Benefits of Spiritual Formation
from the Avila Institute - DI Radio Show and Podcast

August 8, 2017 by   
Description: Today, Dan and Melissa speak with Dr. Anthony Lilles about the benefits of spiritual formation from the Avila Institute on the soul.The Benefits of Spiritual Formation from the Avila Institute
Topics/Questions covered in the show:
  • What is the Avila Institute?
  • What courses are coming up this Fall?
  • What is spiritual theology?
  • What impact does the Avila Institute have on the prayer lives of the students?
  • How does the international reach of the Avila Institute affect the students?
  • How can holy conversations enhance one’s prayer life?
  • Should Catholics try to develop a personal relationship with Jesus?
What is Divine Intimacy Radio?
The Divine Intimacy Radio Show is a haven of rest and wellspring of spiritual life for those seeking intimacy with God and the enlightened path of Catholic mystical and ascetical wisdom.
Twice a week, Dan Burke and Melissa Elson explore topics related to the interior life and Catholic teaching. On Tuesdays, they interview various authors about their spiritual books and about the authors’ own insights on those books.  On Fridays, they get specific on subjects which, primarily include prayer, spiritual direction, meditation, contemplation, and holiness.
Please click on the arrow below to listen to today’s show! Don’t forget to tell your friends about the show and help us get the word out. Click HERE for mobile devices or on the arrow below to listen to the show:

Could President Trump Be Another Cyrus?

Amidst the chaos of President Trump's appointments and firings and, without any evidence of a crime, the allegations against him about Russian collusion in the Presidential election, it is hard to discern God's hand in any of this. However, God can write straight with crooked lines and, despite the crooked lines of our President's apparent character defects, nevertheless God can use him to write straight.

Like a pencil, President Trump may be an instrument in the hands of God. President Trump is certainly not a messianic savior figure, but could he be another Cyrus? Cyrus the Great returned the Jews from their Babylonian Captivity and helped them to rebuild their Temple and culture. Could President Trump return America and help to rebuild its foundational principles and a Culture of Life?

Cyrus the Great was the King of Persia. In 539 BC, he conquered the Babylonian Empire that had destroyed the first Temple in Jerusalem and that had brought the Jews from Jerusalem to captivity in Babylon. God chose Cyrus, who didn’t even know the one true God, to be the deliverer of the Jews from their 70 years of exile in the Babylonian Captivity. Cyrus enabled them to return to their homeland in Jerusalem and provided funds for them to rebuild their Temple and culture.

The book of Isaiah sets forth a prophecy about Cyrus, “Thus says the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have grasped to subdue nations before him and strip kings of their robes, to open doors before him—and the gates shall not be closed. I will go before you and level the mountains, I will break in pieces the doors of bronze and cut through the bars of iron,  I will give you the treasures of darkness and riches hidden in secret places, so that you may know that it is I, the Lord, the God of Israel, who call you by your name.” (Isaiah 45:1-3).

The meaning of calling Cyrus “anointed” in the prophecy was not that he would be a messianic savior, but that God in his divine providence would choose him to be an instrument of his divine plan of deliverance of the Jews from their Babylonian Captivity. It did not mean that Cyrus was an especially holy or virtuous man, but that he would be God’s instrument whom God would lead to the victory of justice as a witness to all of the glory of God. Although Cyrus did not know God, God foreknew him and called him by name to deliver the Jews from their captivity and to help them to restore their Temple and culture. Could President Trump be another Cyrus? Could he help to deliver us from the captivity of our secular Culture of Death and restore us to a Culture of Life?

I know an American priest who was concerned about what kind of a President Donald Trump would be. His concerns were somewhat alleviated when he was contacted by a leader of a prayer group from Australia. The leader said that most of those in the prayer group had received in prayer the prophecy of Isaiah 45 and that God would raise up President Trump to be another Cyrus.

The priest was rather skeptical, but he tested God at a seminary that he visited. An open Bible was present in the foyer upon which he placed his finger without looking. He opened his eyes to see his finger pointing at Isaiah 45. Still somewhat skeptical, he visited another seminary. Again, he saw in the foyer another opened Bible upon which he again blindly placed his finger on what he saw again to be Isaiah 45! This was a confirmation of the message from the Australian prayer group leader.

Another prophecy from the 1980s might help to confirm that perhaps God in his Divine Providence chose our President Trump to be an instrument of his divine plan of deliverance and saving justice from our Culture of Death with its atheism, secularism, socialism, sexualism, materialism, consumerism, sterilization, contraception, abortion, no-fault divorce, same-sex false marriage, so-called transgenderism, addictions, euthanasia and suicide. Perhaps President Trump may be instrumental in returning our country to its foundational principles and a Culture of Life.

In his first six months, President Trump has handpicked cabinet members who meet with him in a Cabinet Bible Study Group that will be explained in Part 2 of this article. He has appointed a pro-life United States Supreme Court Justice and other pro-life federal judges. He has ended federal funding for foreign abortions and continues to work towards defunding Planned Parenthood. Manufacturing, jobs and the economy are up while unemployment is down.

1980s Hermit’s Prophecy about Donald Trump

Father Giacomo Capoverdi, an American priest, shares an amazing prophecy about Donald Trump in a video that Father Capoverdi produced. In his video he tells the story  about his encounter with Tom Zimmer, the Hermit of Loreto, At the site of the Holy House of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Loreto, Italy. Tom was born in America, but he lived a life of prayer and penance as a hermit for many years at Mary’s House. He joked that he had lived in Mary’s House longer than St. Joseph. In his video, Father Capoverdi relates that this hermit had prophesied all the way back in the 1980s that Donald Trump would lead America back to God.

“The millionaire playboy from New York?” asked an incredulous friend of Tom’s. “Yes,” responded Tom. In fact, Tom was so convinced that Donald Trump would become a great  leader of America that as an act of faith he wrote his name on a brick and had it placed in the 1980s inside St. Peter’s Holy Door in Rome in order that Mr. Trump would receive blessings from the many Masses that would be said there.
Holy Hermit Tom Zimmer at Mary’s House
Fr. Capoverdi said that he wanted to get this message out after he saw President Donald Trump’s wife Melania begin a political rally in Florida by praying the Our Father.

You may see Fr. Capoverdi’s video about the Holy Hermit here.

Let us pray the Novena that, through the intercession of Our Lady of America, God will bless America and us so that we might have true hope and change and return to our foundational principles with a Culture of Life.

To be continued in Part 2.


Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Maria Esperanza Novena

Dear Friends,

On the occasion of the 13th anniversary of the passing of our Servant of God,  Maria Esperanza Medrano Bianchini on August 7, we invite you to pray the beautiful prayer written by Father
Timothy Byerley and approved by the Bishop of Metuchen, NJ, USA, Bishop Paul Bootkoski.

We will pray it as a novena, for nine (9) days, ending each day with an Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be.

The intention of this novena is for the cause of beatification and canonization of the Servant of God, Maria Esperanza and for peace in Venezuela.

The novena begins today - reciting the prayer twice daily.

Nine Day Novena
Merciful Father, You blessed Maria Esperanza with an abundance of
spiritual gifts for the consolation of your people. She served You as
wife, mother, and missionary to promote the unity of the family and
the reconciliation of all peoples. You enabled her to be the central
figure in the manifestations of the Virgin Mary, under the title of
Reconciler of all Peoples and Nations, in Betania. Grant us the grace
to follow her example of humility, hope, and unconditional love.

Through the intercession of your servant, Maria Esperanza, we pray for
the healing and reconciliation of our families, and for the fraternal
unity of the entire human family.

Especially, we beseech You to grant us the favors we now request
(mention your intentions here) through the merits and prayers of your
servant. Likewise, we humbly implore that she be inscribed in the
Church's catalogue of saints, as a universal model of the beatitudes.

We pray all this according to your holy will, cherished by your
servant until the end, through Jesus Christ, your Son, Our Lord.

Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory be.