Friday, July 31, 2015

St. Ignatius of Loyola on Becoming a Saint

St. Ignatius Loyola's Quotes

"If God causes you to suffer much, it is a sign that He has great designs for you, and that He certainly intends to make you a saint. And if you wish to become a great saint, entreat Him yourself to give you much opportunity for suffering; for there is no wood better to kindle the fire of holy love than the wood of the cross, which Christ used for His own great sacrifice of boundless charity."

"Few souls understand what God would accomplish in them if they were to abandon themselves unreservedly to Him and if they were to allow His grace to mold them accordingly."

July 31, 2015 Friday: St. Ignatius of Loyola

July 31, 2015 Friday: St. Ignatius of Loyola

"What is truth?" retorted Pilate. (John 18:38)
"You will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free” (John 8:32)

“When the enemy convicts me of sin, I feel bad about myself; when God convicts me of sin I feel loved.”

THE TRUTH WILL SET YOU FREE, IF . . . Wouldn’t it be something if you could take a pill and the truth would be revealed? If Truth Tablets could be manufactured and bottled, if they could be purchased at the Tabernacle Pharmacy, the bottle would probably have wrapped around it a warning label. It might read something like this:
Warning: Use only as directed for freedom from sin and wayward pursuits, as well as relief from unnecessary pain and depression. Common side effects may include upset stomach, headaches and insomnia. You may experience heart palpitations, weakness and fatigue. Leakage of bodily fluids, including sweaty palms and uncontrollable tearing, is known to occur when taken during times of personal crisis. Identity confusion may also occur. If taken in excess, or without proper nourishment, conflict and tension may arise with intimate others. Consult Psalm 139 if side effects persist for more than a week. Lastly, do not share these Truth Tablets with others who are not seeking the truth. If they think they already know all of the truth they wish to know, these pills could be hazardous to their health!

Truth by Way of the Gospel Now, without these Truth Tablets that make truth-telling and truth-listening easy, would you really want to seek the truth? Most of us have probably come to realize through our own experience that Jesus knew what he was talking about when he said: “You will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free” (John 8:32). Indeed, the truth does set us free. Intellectually, we know this. Through our lived experience, we know this. Spiritually, we hunger for this. Emotionally, however, we dread it. We humans have a love-hate relationship with the truth. Why? Because we know the path toward spiritual enlightenment is an inherently painful one.

We know, for example, that the most important discoveries during our lifetime have been ones that disrupted our lives. These changed who we knew ourselves to be and led us to alter or leave significant relationships. The birth of new truth demands that we understand our life differently and behave in new ways. The emergence of truth requires that we make room for the “new” through a labor of letting go. What are some of the things we are asked to let go of? We are asked to let go of: • Traditions and the way things have always been; • The known, the comfortable and the familiar; • Our pride and our need to be right; • Relationships that once helped us to grow to who we are today, but can no longer assist in who we are becoming; • Ministries to which we were once called, but which no longer express how God is calling us to offer our gifts; • Our need for control, to figure things out ahead of time or be given guarantees so we don’t need to rely on our faith, one another, or God; • Our old ways of understanding our faith, who God is in our life and the reason we have been graced with the gift of life.

Recognize the value. It is important to appreciate the fact that pain is necessary for us to mature. This isn’t new information, but somehow it is easy to lose sight of this when we are in pain. We just wish it would go away. In order to motivate change, we need pain to push us. In order to attain wisdom and deeper knowledge of life, we need the experience of working through our pain. In order to experience compassion and empathy for others, we must know what pain feels like. In order to grieve and give way to new life, we must express the pain of loss. And in order to discern well and open our hearts, we must ache for God’s compassion. You don’t have to like pain, but before you react hastily and marshall your defenses, recall its value to make you whole and holy.

By Ted Dunn, PhD
Interior Freedom: Reflective Guide and Exercise

Thursday, July 30, 2015

July 30, 2015 Thursday: St. Peter Chrysologus

July 30, 2015 Thursday: St. Peter Chrysologus


"On the first day of the first month of the second year the Dwelling was erected. It was Moses who erected the Dwelling." Exodus 40:17-18
The grand finale of the book of Exodus is the completion of the Dwelling, the place on earth where God was most powerfully and intimately present. The plagues led to the Exodus, leading to the miraculous crossing of the Red Sea. This was followed by Moses' reception of the divine Law on Mt. Sinai. This finally culminated in the construction of the Dwelling.

The goal of life is to enter into God's presence most deeply and to worship Him forever in heaven. The plagues, miracles, and laws of our lives are not random. They are ordered to bringing us into the holy of holies of God's presence to worship Him. We exist "to praise His glory" (Eph 1:12).

Have you focused your life on worshipping God? Do you do "good deeds" and share what you have (Heb 13:16) so as to "continually offer God a sacrifice of praise"? (Heb 13:15) Have you offered "your bodies as a living sacrifice holy and acceptable to God, your spiritual Worship"? (Rm 12:1) You are alive today to worship the Lord. Worship is the goal of your life and the essence of eternity at God's throne in heaven. Worship Him "in Spirit and truth" (Jn 4:23).

Prayer: Father, more and more make the desire of my heart to worship You.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

July 29, 2015 Wednesday: St. Martha

July 29, 2015 Wednesday: St. Martha

Matthew 13:44-46
Jesus said to his disciples:
“The Kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the Kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls. When he finds a pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it.”
In the ancient world there were banks, but not banks such as ordinary people could use. Ordinary people used the ground as the safest place to keep their most cherished belongings.

(1) The lesson of this parable is, first, that the man found the precious thing, not so much by chance, as in his day’s work. It is true to say that he stumbled unexpectedly upon it, but he did so when he was going about his daily business. And it is legitimate to infer that he must have been going about his daily business with diligence and efficiency, because he must have been digging deep, and not merely scraping the surface, in order to strike against the treasure. It would be a sad thing if it were only in churches, in so-called holy places and on so-called religious occasions that we found God and felt close to him. There is an unwritten saying of Jesus which never found its way into any of the gospels, but which rings true: ‘Raise the stone and you will find me; cleave the wood and I am there.’ When the mason is working on the stone, when the carpenter is working with the wood, Jesus Christ is there. True happiness, true satisfaction, the sense of God and the presence of Christ are all to be found in the day’s work, when that day’s work is honestly and conscientiously done. Brother Lawrence, the great seventeenth-century saint and mystic, spent much of his working life in the monastery kitchen among the dirty dishes, and he could say: ‘I felt Jesus Christ as close to me in the kitchen as ever I did at the blessed sacrament.’

(2) The lesson of this parable is, second, that it is worth any sacrifice to enter the kingdom. What does it mean to enter the kingdom? When we were studying the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:10), we found that we could say that the kingdom of God is a state of society upon earth where God’s will is as perfectly done as it is in heaven. Therefore to enter the kingdom is to accept and to do God’s will. So, it is worth anything to do God’s will. Suddenly, as the man discovered the treasure, there may flash upon us, in some moment of illumination, the conviction of what God’s will is for us. To accept it may be to give up certain aims and ambitions which are very dear, to abandon certain habits and ways of life which are very difficult to lay down, to take on a discipline and self-denial which are by no means easy –in a word, to take up our cross and follow after Jesus. But there is no other way to peace of mind and heart in this life and to glory in the life to come. It is indeed worth giving up everything to accept and to do the will of God.
-William Barclay

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

July 28, 2015 Tuesday: 17th Week in Ordinary Time

July 28, 2015 Tuesday: 17th Week in Ordinary Time

Exodus 34:5b-9

Moses stood there with the LORD and proclaimed his name, “LORD.” Thus the LORD passed before him and cried out, “The LORD, the LORD, a merciful and gracious God, slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity, continuing his kindness for a thousand generations, and forgiving wickedness and crime and sin; yet not declaring the guilty guiltless, but punishing children and grandchildren to the third and fourth generation for their fathers’ wickedness!” Moses at once bowed down to the ground in worship. Then he said, “If I find favor with you, O LORD, do come along in our company. This is indeed a stiff-necked people; yet pardon our wickedness and sins, and receive us as your own.”

God’s Infinite Goodness in Creating Mankind from the Diary of St. Maria Faustina Kowalska

(1743) God, who in Your mercy have deigned to call man from nothingness into being, generously have You bestowed upon him nature and grace. But that seemed too little for Your infinite goodness. In Your mercy, O Lord, You have given us everlasting life. You admit us to Your everlasting happiness and grant us to share in Your interior life. And You do this solely out of Your mercy. You bestow on us the gift of Your grace, only because You are good and full of love. You had no need of us at all to be happy, but You, O Lord, want to share Your own happiness with us. But man did not stand the test. You could have punished him, like the angels, with eternal rejection, but here Your mercy appeared, and the very depths of Your being were moved with great compassion, and You promised to restore our salvation. It is an incomprehensible abyss of Your compassion that You did not punish us as we deserved. May Your mercy be glorified, O lord; we will praise it for endless ages. And the angels were amazed at the greatness of the mercy which You have shown for mankind….

(1744) May You be adored, O merciful God of ours,
O All-powerful Lord and Creator.
In deepest humility, we give You praise,
Plunging ourselves into the ocean of your Godhead.

But man did not persevere in the hour of trial.
At the instigation of the evil one, he became unfaithful to You.
He lost Your grace and gifts; only misery was left him,
And tears, suffering, sorrow and bitterness, until he would rest in the grave.

But you, O merciful God, did not let humanity perish,
And gave it the promise of a Redeemer.
You did not let us despair, despite our grave offenses,
And You sent Your prophets to Israel.

Still, day and night, mankind cries out to You,
From the abyss of misery, sin and all pain.
Hear the moaning and the tears, You who reign in heaven,
God of great mercy, God of compassion.

Man erred, but he cannot ask pardon,
Because a gaping chasm has appeared between God and man.
With the voice of his misery, he cries out, “Mercy!”
But Yahweh is silent…. And century after century passes on.

But the longing of all humankind grows deeper.
A longing for Him who has been promised.
Come, Lamb of God, take away our vile sins,
Come, illumine our darkness like a ray of light.

Humanity calls out to You unceasingly, O Lord of lords,
Calls out to Your unfathomable mercy, to Your compassion.
O great Yahweh, grant that we may make atonement,
Remember Your goodness, and forgive us our sins.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Sacred Heart of Jesus - by Seminarian Matthew Dunn

Sacred Heart of Jesus
A Talk given on July 26, 2015 at Ascension/St. Francis Churches
by Matthew Dunn (a seminarian of the Baton Rouge Diocese)

In 1673, a French nun went to the chapel of her convent to pray. While she knelt before the altar, our Lord appeared before her and held out his hand. In his palm was an image of a bright red heart burning brightly with a flame above it. It was bruised and bloody from the crown of thorns wrapped around it, but it glowed intensely. This nun, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, took this image and dedicated her entire life to it. She heeded the Lord’s request and fervently spread the devotion to Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Today, there are churches and school named in honor of the Sacred Heart, we have holy cards and medals with the image, and we see statues and stained glass windows depicting the Sacred Heart everywhere. The devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus has grown tremendously and is practiced by many. But have you ever taken a moment to look at the Sacred Heart and really think about what it means? Why such a specific—and somewhat gruesome—way of depicting it? Allow me to offer a little of my own take. Since I was little, my favorite image of Jesus was the image of the Sacred Heart. I knew nothing about the heart itself, I just liked the image of Jesus with his hands pierced by the nails, the pure white and vibrant red garments he wears, and the clouds which he typically stands on. This could have something to do with growing up as a parishioner of Most Sacred Heart of Jesus Church in Gramercy, where I saw a beautiful stained glass window of the Sacred Heart over the high altar every Sunday. There was also a statue of the Sacred Heart which stood by the door in the back of the church with his arms outstretched. I asked my friend one day after Mass if he thought Jesus had his arms outstretched to give us a hug—because we had just recently learned in Religion classes about Jesus’ love for us. He replied that Jesus actually stood with his arms out to hit you when you misbehaved during Mass, according to his grandmother. I didn’t like that explanation, because as we know, that’s simply not the case. As I grew older—in fact, it was just a few years ago—I fell in love with the Sacred Heart all over again. I realized that Jesus stretches out to us to welcome us. To bless us. To embrace us. He doesn’t stand over us to scare us or show himself as some dictator, but rather he stands over us to show his protection over us, his beloved. And right in the middle is the glowing image of his heart: bound with the sharp thorns, bleeding and bruised, yet burning so intensely with pure love for us. This image remains my favorite because of what it says to us. Our Lord stands before us, offering his love to us. It’s as if he says, “I love you. I always have and I always will. Don’t believe me? Look at the scars in my hands and feet. Look at the blood pouring forth from my heart. I did it for you. I reach out to you, even in the midst of your sharp sinfulness. It pierces my heart like these thorns and it pains me to see you fall, but that’s ok. I’ve already paid the price for you. You are mine. Just let me embrace you. Let me heal you, comfort you, love you.”

I often wonder what kind of love this could be—this pure, selfless, merciful love which we receive so freely and unreservedly from our Lord. It’s the love that pushed Jesus to the top of Calvary. He carried his cross—the cross he didn’t deserve or earn in any way—out of love for us. He got up when he fell and pushed on, just to meet his most painful death out of love for us. It’s the love that made him give his mother to the church as he hung on the cross. It’s the love that instituted the Church in the first place. Through this Church comes the Sacraments, and through the Sacraments comes the graces we need to keep going in life—to keep walking the road to God. Yes, we fall. Yes, we sin. Sometimes we feel as if we just can’t go any further because the weight of our cross is too much to bear. In times like this, it’s important for us to meditate on the pictures hung along the walls of our churches. In the stations of the cross, you’ll see that not once, not twice, but three times Jesus fell under the weight of his own cross. It’s ok that we fall, but only if we love the Lord enough to get back up and continue to him. Jesus fell too. We’re reminded that during the Eucharistic Prayer of the Mass. The priest genuflects three times while the Eucharistic Prayer is said to commemorate the three times Jesus fell but got up again. Why? Because it all points to the love of the Sacred Heart. That love which pushed our Lord to get up again and walk to Calvary. That love which gives us the Eucharist. If you’ve never heard of Eucharistic Miracles, by all means I encourage you to look them up. A Eucharistic miracle is when a consecrated host from Mass miraculously turns to actual, living, bleeding human flesh. There have been tests done on some of these hosts, and they all come back to say the same thing: the tissue which miraculously appeared is actual living human flesh. In recent years, advanced medical technology is now able to pinpoint which part of the body the flesh comes from. I’ll give you one guess as to which organ the flesh typically comes from. The heart. The heart that bled for us—bled with the blood so pure and perfect that it saved each and every one of us. The heart that still burns so intensely and brightly with loving mercy for us. That’s the flame which is rekindled in our own hearts each time we receive the sacrament of Reconciliation. When we receive the Anointing of the Sick, our sins are forgiven and our soul is ready to meet our Lord. Why? Because Jesus Christ gives us—gives his Church—everything we need to make the journey back home to him. He loves us so intensely and yearns to have us spend eternity with him that he gives us ample opportunity to be able to do so.

Briefly, I’d like to share with you a little of what the Sacred Heart has done for me in my life. First, it taught me patience. When we have those days when that sibling, that coworker, or that friend just seems to enjoy working our last nerve and being the thorn in our side, we have to love them anyway—because Christ did. It taught me forgiveness. When we’re wronged by others to the extent that we feel we could—and should—hold the grudge forever, we have to forgive them. Because that’s what our Lord does out of the mercy of his Sacred Heart. It taught me how to pray. When Jesus went to the garden before his arrest, he prayed for us. “Father, you gave me your children and entrusted them to me. By my own sacrifice on the cross, I’m giving them back to you. I love them as you love them.” If Jesus Christ himself knelt in prayer for us, what excuse can we possibly have not to do the same for ourselves and for others? Above all, the Sacred Heart taught me love. True love. Not the emotions and affections we claim as love. “I love pizza, I love my dog, I love this movie, this car, this book, this song.” That is not love. You can enjoy those things—but you can’t love them. Love is when you care so deeply about something or someone that you’re happily willing to put their needs and interests before your own. Love is such an intense endearment that you’re ready to lay down your very life for the beloved—just as Christ loves us so much that he gave us the greatest gift—himself. He literally gave us himself in the Eucharist, he gave us himself on the cross, and he gives us himself in the merciful love we receive in Confession. THAT is the love we are ALL called to. We’re called to accept it, we’re called to embrace it, and we’re called to allow it to change us. Most of all, we’re called not only to have that love, but to BE that very love to everyone—the rich, the poor, the sinner, the saint, the Christian, the atheist, and even the bitter person who hates everything and everyone that moves. Why? Because Jesus Christ did and still does.

The next time you see an image of the Sacred Heart, stop for just a moment and look at our Lord’s heart. Ponder the intense meaning of such a simple image. Thank him for his merciful and gracious love, and ask him for the special grace to conform your own heart to his. It’s only when our own hearts are transformed by the Sacred Heart that we can burn with love, that we can bleed with merciful forgiveness to others, that we can embrace our brother even in his sinfulness. THAT is when we’re truly living our Christian mission. Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make our hearts like unto thine. Amen.
-Matthew Dunn (a seminarian of the Baton Rouge Diocese)

Saturday, July 25, 2015

July 26, 2015: 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time B

July 26, 2015: 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time B

Click to hear Audio Homily
Do you ever dream about eating fermented napa cabbage slathered in red hot chili paste made with green onions, ginger, salt, fermented shrimp sauce, and fermented fish sauce? Is your mouth watering? Kimchi as it’s called is what I wanted to eat first when I got to my parents’ house this past weekend. There is a Korean saying, “The tour of the beautiful mountain view will need to wait until after we eat.” You’ve heard of a tag line for a candy bar commercial, “You’re not you when you’re hungry.”

When Jesus saw a crowd of hungry and tired people who followed him all day walking several miles to hear him, he did the most logical thing-- he fed them. While the people were focused on physical hunger, Jesus had in mind something else; Jesus wanted to prepare them for a greater miracle -- his own body and blood--the spiritual food of life. But his compassion drew him to fill their physical needs first--he multiplied the loaves of bread and fish to satisfy their hunger. He gave them food to eat until they couldn’t eat any more. Only then did he teach them the Good News. Mother Teresa said, “This is what we must often do in our work: We must first satisfy the needs of the body, so we can then bring Christ to the poor.”

What do we hunger in our lives? What’s our deepest hunger? Our human heart is hungry--hungry for love. Nothing else will satisfy. We look to other things to fill that deepest need--our work, our toys, sports, drugs, evil ways. When evil fills us or when we are distracted, we can't love. We’ve seen in the past few weeks, the consequence of when man’s heart is filled with evil--tragedy of Chattanooga, tragedy of Lafayette, and what continues in Middle East. We are only happy when we are filled with love. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matt 6:21)

What should be the greatest hunger in our lives? Eucharist. Jesus said to St. Faustina about Communion, “My great delight is to unite Myself with souls. Know, My daughter, that when I come to a human heart in Holy Communion, My hands are full of all kinds of graces which I want to give to the soul. But souls do not even pay any attention to Me; they leave Me to Myself and busy themselves with other things. Oh, how sad I am that souls do not recognize Love!” Our response should be like that of St. Faustina, "O Treasure of my heart, the only object of my love and entire delight of my soul, I want to adore You in my heart as You are adored on the throne of Your eternal glory.” When we can embrace that prayer with sincerity, we are one step closer to finding satisfaction of our deepest hunger.
-Fr. Paul Yi

Friday, July 24, 2015

July 24, 2015 Friday: Saint Sharbel (Charbel) Makhlouf

July 24, 2015 Friday: Saint Sharbel (Charbel) Makhlouf

Most of us are familiar with European saints, such as St. Bernadette, St. Therese and Padre Pio. Less well-known, but still popular in his own area, is Saint Charbel, a monk from the Lebanon who lived much of his life quietly as a hermit, achieving fame only after his death.

Charbel Makhlouf was born on 8th May, 1828, in the small village of Biqa-Kafra in the high mountains of Northern Lebanon. His parents were poor but religious, and their fifth child was attracted at an early age to prayer and solitude. In spite of the opposition of his family, he left home at the age of twenty-three and entered the Monastery of St. Maroun at a place called Annaya. Ordained priest in 1859, he spent sixteen years there before receiving permission from his reluctant superiors to retire to the nearby hermitage of Saints Peter and Paul.

It had taken over seven years for his wish to be granted. Only exceptional monks were allowed such a privilege. A sign that he was ready to leave the secure environment of the monastery came about in a strange way. Given a request to prepare an urgent report, Charbel sat down at night to work on it. To his dismay he found his lamp had run out of oil. He asked one of the monastery’s lay servants to fill it for him. By way of a joke the servant filled it with water, but was amazed to see that the lamp lit up immediately and continued to burn brightly. The Superior, when advised of this, removed the lamp to check it for himself. To his amazement he found it was indeed full of water. He took this as a sign from above that Charbel was ready to live the severe life of a hermit.

For the remaining twenty-three years of his existence Charbel lived an extemely hard life, one of severe mortification. He wore a hair shirt, slept on a straw mattress with a plank for a pillow, and for his one meal of the day was content to eat the meagre left-overs from the monastery,. He displayed a remarkable devotion to the Eucharist, spending hours in preparation for saying Mass and hours in thanksgiving afterwards.

The Miraculous Light
In 1898 Charbel suffered a massive stroke while saying Mass and died just eight days later on Christmas Eve. He was seventy years old. After three days he was buried in the monastery cemetery, and as was the custom, without the benefit of a coffin. Like many a holy monk before him he would soon have been forgotten were it not for a very strange happening. For the next forty-five nights his tomb was surrounded by a dazzlingly bright light. This was witnessed by an increasingly large number of people, none of whom could provide an explanation. Permission was sought from the ecclesiastical authorities for the monk’s body to be exhumed.

On the night he died the monks from the monastery nearby had rushed to the hermitage to kiss his hands and to be blessed by touching his body. Many spent the whole night kneeling in prayer beside him. The snow was falling heavily and it was extremely cold, which was not surprising since the hermitage was fourteen hundred metres above sea level. Those keeping vigil asked each other : ‘If we’re suffering so much for only one night, how was Father Charbel able to live here for twenty-three years?’
They could see that he must have endured fatigue, hunger, poverty and cold with the courage of a martyr. The local villagers, many of whom had received communion over the years at his hands, recalled his holiness, his continuous prayer and hard work, his meekness and his prudent silence.

His Holy Remains Are Found Incorrupt
Eventually permission for his exhumation was given and four months after Charbel’s death a crowd gathered to witness it. To everyone’s surprise his body was found to be perfectly preserved, in spite of the fact that the grave had been flooded by heavy rains, leaving the body floating on a sea of mud. Charbel was lifted out and given fresh clothing before being placed in a wooden coffin in a corner of the monastery’s private chapel. However, it was found necessary to change his clothing twice per week because of a strange liquid exuding continually from the pores of the body. Described as a mixture of perspiration and blood, it just kept coming. Pieces of cloth soaked in this fluid were soon being distributed as relics and credited with effecting cures.

His Incorrupt Remains Are Examined By Physicians
In 1927, more than twenty-eight years after his death, Charbel’s still incorrupt body was examined by two physicians of the French Medical Institute at Beirut, then transferred to another coffin lined with zinc, before being placed in a new tomb inside the wall of an oratory. In the Holy Year 1950, pilgrims to his shrine reported seeing liquid oozing from a corner of the tomb. When the tomb was opened up it was found to be dry and the coffin also, except for a viscous liquid which was seen seeping through a crack at its base. Two months later, after permission had been obtained from the ecclesiastical authorities, the seal on the coffin was broken and the body was examined. Once again it was found to be free of any trace of corruption and the strange fluid continued to issue from its pores.
Editors Note:

Below is some updated info from Joan Carroll Cruz, the author of the book "The Incorruptables":
"...In writing to the shrine in Lebanon I was informed by one of the priests
there that the saint is no longer incorrupt, but that his bones are an
unusual shade of red. The fluid, however, is still produced by the bones.
You might want to check a later edition of my book, "The Incorruptibles",
for this update. Since the saint's beatification, the body was no longer

Miraculous Cures and the Road to Canonisation
Since then the shrine has been besieged by thousands of pilgrims from all over the world. In 1950, the monastery started keeping records of miracles attributed to Charbel. In less than two years it accumulated more than twelve hundred such claims.

As early as 1925 the monk’s name had been put forward in a petition to Pope PiusXI to begin canonical proceedings leading to his beatification, but this did not happen until 1965 during the reign of Pope Paul VI. Two cures accepted as being miraculous were necessary and both selected for the purpose had taken place in 1950.

The first of these concerned a nun by the name of Sister Maria Abel Kawary. She had suffered serious intestinal problems for fourteen years and had been given up by doctors as a hopeless case, but after praying all night beside Charbel’s grave she was cured instantaneously. The doctor who examined her at the time recorded her cure as ‘a supernatural happening which is beyond man’s power to explain.’
The second miracle accepted by the Sacred Congregation was the restoration of sight to a blacksmith named Iskandar Oubeid. He had lost the sight in one eye after suffering a blow to it while at work. Eminent eye specialists announced that the damage to the iris was so severe that he would never see through it again. Thirteen years later he took the advice of friends to visit the tomb of Father Charbel. On returning home he had a dream in which a monk appeared, promising to cure him. The next morning he found he could see perfectly out of both eyes. No medical explanation could be found.

The most famous of Charbel’s cures also occurred in the year 1950. It caused a stir not only in Beirut, but in the whole of Lebanon. The recipient was a fifty-year-old seamstress named Mountaha Daher Boulos who had been a hunchback since the age of one after contracting typhoid fever. Her story is rather touching. While visiting the monk’s tomb she stood some distance off and prayed for her two orphan nephews who were in need of help. The only request she made on her own behalf was that she might keep her sight so that she could continue working as a seamstress.

Three days later, after returning home, she woke up in the morning to discover that the hump on her back had disappeared. Her doctor confirmed this, while her parish priest testified to the fact that ‘her silhouette has suddenly become perfectly normal!’

On 9th October, 1977, just twelve years after his beatification, Pope Paul VI presided over the canonization proceedings and announced to the world that Blessed Charbel had joined the ranks of saints in heaven. The saint’s body, however, did not remain incorrupt. By 1965 it was found to have succumbed to the laws of nature, leaving only bones of a reddish colour. Evidently the previous years were sufficient to prove the good monk’s sanctity, while miracles attributed to his intervention have continued to this day.

One of the most recent took place in 1993 when Nohad El Shami, a fifty-five-year-old woman suffering from partial paralysis caused by a severe hemiplegia, reported seeing two monks in a dream. One of these, whom she identified as Charbel, ‘operated’ on her neck, and when she awoke she discovered she was completely healed. The second monk in her dream was believed to be Saint Maroun, a fifth century Syrian Christian martyr who founded the Maronite Order.

As Joan Carroll Cruz relates in her excellent study entitled ‘The Incorruptibles’, pilgrims ‘continue to climb the cedared hills of Lebanon to the shrine of this once perfectly preserved saint.’ She goes on to say : ‘May the veneration now deservedly lavished on the memory of Saint Charbel be renewed in equal measure in favour of all those incorruptibles from past ages who await in the shadows of their reliquaries the day of their glorious resurrection.’
No doubt this humble monk will be surprised to find himself included in their number.

-Jim Dunning

A Prayer for the Intercession of St. Sharbel

O Merciful Father, through the Holy Spirit, you chose Saint Charbel as a voice crying in the wilderness. His monastic life is an example to Your Church. In the Scriptures he discovered Your Holiness as Word Made Flesh, and darkness gave way to light. In the Eucharist he encountered Your Divinity as Bread of Life, and the poverty of this world gave way to the treasures of Your Kingdom. In prayer he experienced Your Silence as Mystery Present, and lonelieness gave way to communion. Through the Virgin Mother he embraced Your Son as Lover of Mankind, and hostility gave way to hospitality. We now beseech You, through his intercession, to change our hearts of stone to hearts of flesh, and to grant our special request …. We give praise to You, Your Only Begotten Son, and to Your Holy Spirit. Amen.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Trust - Diary of St. Faustina Talk 5, July 22, 2015

Trust - Diary Faustina - Talk 5 - 7-22-15
Opening Prayer (Please turn to Diary #832)
O merciful Jesus, how longingly You hurried to the Upper Room to consecrate the Host that I am to receive in my life. Jesus, You desired to dwell in my heart. Your living Blood unites with mine. Who can understand this close union? My heart encloses within itself the Almighty, the Infinite One. 0 Jesus, continue to grant me Your divine life. Let Your pure and noble Blood throb with all its might in my heart. I give You my whole being. Transform me into Yourself and make me capable of doing Your holy will in all things and of returning Your love. O my sweet Spouse, You know that my heart knows no one but You. You have opened up in my heart an insatiable depth of love for You. From the very first moment it knew You, my heart has loved You and has lost itself in You as its one and only object. May Your pure and omnipotent love be the driving force of all my actions. Who will ever conceive and understand the depth of mercy that has gushed forth from Your Heart?  (Diary #892)

Today in this class, we will cover the message of Divine Mercy, including the request from Jesus for Sr. Faustina to help paint the image of Divine Mercy, to spread the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, and to help establish the Feast of the Divine Mercy Sunday. Up to now, the past four classes, we covered the life of St. Faustina from the very beginning of her life to her entrance in the Congregation of Our Lady of Mercy, and her experience through the “Dark Night of the Soul.” Was it necessary to cover her life? Could we not just skip over and focus on the message of Divine Mercy, the image, the Chaplet, and the special Feast of Divine Mercy Sunday?

“Trust,” is the title and the essence of these classes. Trusting in Jesus Christ is a free act of the will, a believing faith in Him. It means to abandon oneself to the truth of the word of the living God. To trust is a decision, an act of our free will. It is this free-will act that God asks for, expects, and waits for. God waits for our act of trust, our “yes” to His plan, in order to flood us with His love with His love and eternal life. Jesus grants to certain souls, like Sr. Faustina, special graces of union with Himself in order to do some great work that is, humanly speaking, absolutely beyond their power.

We saw in Sr. Faustina’s Diary that her “yes”, her trust in God’s plan for her was essential part of the message of Divine Mercy.   Jesus said to St. Faustina:

Know, My daughter, that between Me and you there is a bottomless abyss, an abyss which separates the Creator from the creature. But this abyss is filled with My mercy. I raise you up to Myself, not that I have need of you, but it is solely out of mercy that I grant you the grace of union with Myself (Diary, 1576).

Imagine, even for a pure and saintly soul like Sr. Faustina, there exists an abyss between her and God. What about us? Do we ever see ourselves better than those who do not attend church or appear to live a sinful life? No matter how good we think we are, bottomless abyss is the gap between us and God. Our efforts will not fill this gap; only God’s mercy, His forgiveness can fill this gap. How do we initiate this process of God filling the bottomless abyss with His mercy? It is our trust in Him. Think of how many souls in this world do not trust Him? Should that bother us? Yes! Some of our own family members and friends do not trust God. And we are saddened and even pained that they do not have relationship with God. If we feel saddened about this situation, can you imagine how God feels? He expressed this to Sr. Faustina. She wrote:

November 19. After Communion today, Jesus told me how much He desires to come to human hearts. I desire to unite Myself with human souls; My great delight is to unite Myself with souls. Know, My daughter, that when I come to a human heart in Holy Communion, My hands are full of all kinds of graces which I want to give to the soul. But souls do not even pay any attention to Me; they leave Me to Myself and busy themselves with other things. Oh, how sad I am that souls do not recognize Love! They treat Me as a dead object. I answered Jesus, "O Treasure of my heart, the only object of my love and entire delight of my soul, I want to adore You in my heart as You are adored on the throne of Your eternal glory. My love wants to make up to You at least in part for the coldness of so great a number of souls. Jesus, behold my heart which is for You a dwelling place to which no one else has entry. You alone repose in it as in a beautiful garden. (Diary, 1385)

Once we experience God’s generous mercy upon our own soul, our response in gratitude is to offer ourselves in service of God to be merciful to others and forgive them. We know through our own experience how difficult it is to be merciful and forgiving of others. We cannot do this on our own. We need God’s grace.

Sr. Faustina, out of gratitude to God for His mercy upon her soul, she greatly desired do something for Jesus. Jesus in turn asked her to unite herself to His Passion for the sake of saving souls. Our Lord invited her to the exclusive privilege of drinking from the cup that He drank (Diary, 1626).  Jesus made clear to Sr. Faustina that she was participating in the great work of salvation:

I am giving you a share in the redemption of mankind (Diary, 310).

Help Me, My daughter, to save souls. Join your sufferings to My Passion and offer them to the heavenly Father for sinners (Diary, 1032).

On Holy Thursday of 1934, after hearing Jesus ask her to make an offering of herself for sinners, she made an act of oblation (an act of offering herself as a sacrifice):

Before heaven and earth, before all the choirs of Angels, before the Most Holy Virgin Mary, before all the Powers of heaven, I declare to the One Triune God that today, in union with Jesus Christ, Redeemer of souls, I make a voluntary offering of myself for the conversion of sinners, especially for those souls who have lost hope in God's mercy. This offering consists in my accepting, with total subjection to God's will, all the sufferings, fears and terrors with which sinners are filled. In return, I give them all the consolations which my soul receives from my communion with God. In a word, I offer everything for them: Holy Masses, Holy Communions, penances, mortifications, prayers. I do not fear the blows, blows of divine justice, because I am united with Jesus. O my God, in this way I want to make amends to You for the souls that do not trust in Your goodness. I hope against all hope in the ocean of Your mercy. My Lord and my God, my portion-my portion forever, I do not base this act of oblation on my own strength, but on the strength that flows from the merits of Jesus Christ. I will daily repeat this act of self-oblation by pronouncing the following prayer which You yourself have taught me, Jesus:

"O Blood and Water which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus as a Fount of Mercy for us, I trust in You!"  (Diary, 309)

Sr. Faustina’s mission included not only offering herself as a sacrifice, but also spreading the message of Divine Mercy. The mission included helping (a) to spread devotion to the image of Divine Mercy, (b) to help establish a Feast of Mercy, (c) to spread the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, (d) to encourage souls to seek the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

The Image of Divine Mercy
On February 22, 1931, in the convent in Plock, Sr. Faustina wrote:

In the evening, when I was in my cell, I saw the Lord Jesus clothed in a white garment. One hand [was] raised in the gesture of blessing, the other was touching the garment at the breast. From beneath the garment, slightly drawn aside at the breast, there were emanating two large rays, one red, the other pale. In silence I kept my gaze fixed on the Lord; my soul was struck with awe, but also with great joy. After a while, Jesus said to me, Paint an image according to the pattern you see, with the signature: Jesus, I trust in You. I desire that this image be venerated, first in your chapel, and [then] throughout the world. (47)

48 I promise that the soul that will venerate this image will not perish. I also promise victory over [its] enemies already here on earth, especially at the hour of death. I Myself will defend it as My own glory. (48)
Through this image, Jesus made known His great desire that all come to the rays of mercy, all come to His Heart, pierced for us and flowing with blood and water. Sr. Faustina’s spiritual director, Fr. Michael Sopocko, then asked for the meaning of the two rays. She wrote:

During prayer I heard these words within me: The two rays denote Blood and Water. The pale ray stands for the Water which makes souls righteous. The red ray stands for the Blood which is the life of souls...

These two rays issued forth from the very depths of My tender mercy when My agonized Heart was opened by a lance on the Cross.

These rays shield souls from the wrath of My Father. Happy is the one who will dwell in their shelter, for the just hand of God shall not lay hold of him. I desire that the first Sunday after Easter be the Feast of Mercy. (Diary, 299)

The Feast of Mercy
Jesus’ request for the image of Divine Mercy was immediately followed by a request for a Feast of Mercy:

When I told this to my confessor, I received this for a reply: "That refers to your soul." He told me, "Certainly, paint God's image in your soul." When I came out of the confessional, I again heard words such as these: My image already is in your soul. I desire that there be a Feast of Mercy. I want this image, which you will paint with a brush, to be solemnly blessed on the first Sunday after Easter; that Sunday is to be the Feast of Mercy. (49)

+I desire that priests proclaim this great mercy of Mine towards souls of sinners. Let the sinner not be afraid to approach Me. The flames of mercy are burning Me - clamoring to be spent; I want to pour them out upon these souls. (50)

The Chaplet of Divine Mercy
In September 1935, God revealed to Sr. Faustina a powerful prayer for mercy on the whole world: the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. Said on the beads of the rosary, the prayer pleads for God’s mercy on the world, offering Him the sacrifice of His beloved Son, Jesus Christ.

The chaplet, the Act of Oblation, the abandonment to God’s will, the stigmata, and her close identification with Jesus’ Passion all point to Faustina’s role in the Church. On September 30, 1935, Faustina wrote in her Diary that she was sure of her mission to the Church and the world: She was to spend her life pleading for mercy for the world.

She was given a premonition of this through an earlier vision.
Once I saw a big crowd of people in our chapel, in front of the chapel and in the street, because there was no room for them inside. The chapel was decorated for a feast. There were a lot of clergy near the altar, and then our sisters and those of many other congregations. They were all waiting for the person who was to take a place on the altar. Suddenly I heard a voice saying that I was to take the place on the altar. But as soon as I left the corridor to go across the yard and enter the chapel, following the voice that was calling me, all the people began to throw at me whatever they had to hand: mud, stones, sand, brooms, to such an extent that I at first hesitated to go forward. But the voice kept on calling me even more earnestly, so I walked on bravely.

When I entered the chapel, the superiors, the sisters, the students, and even my parents started to hit me with whatever they could, and so whether I wanted to or not, I quickly took my place on the altar. As soon as I was there, the very same people, the students, the sisters, the superiors and my parents all began to hold their arms out to me asking for graces; and as for me, I did not bear any grudge against them for having thrown all sorts of things at me, and I was surprised that I felt a very special love precisely for those persons who had forced me to go more quickly to my appointed place. At the same time my soul was filled with ineffable happiness, and I heard these words, Do whatever you wish, distribute graces as you will, to whom you will and when you will. Then, instantly, the vision disappeared. (Diary, 31)

Sr. Faustina serves as a model of all of us disciples of Jesus on how our hearts need to be transformed to be merciful to others.
My daughter, I desire that your heart be formed after the model of My merciful Heart. You must be completely imbued with My mercy. (Diary, 167)
How can we best respond to God’s unfathomable mercy?

Way of the Cross with Jesus and St. Faustina

First Station: Jesus is Condemned to Death
Jesus: (Celebrant) Do not be surprised that you are sometimes unjustly accused. I Myself first drank this cup of undeserved suffering for love of you (289). When I was before Herod, I obtained a grace for you; namely, that you would be able to rise above human scorn and follow faithfully in My footsteps (1164).
S. Faustina: (People) We are sensitive to words and quickly want to answer back, without taking any regard as to whether it is God’s will that we should speak. A silent soul is strong; no adversities will harm it if it perseveres in silence. The silent soul is capable of attaining the closest union with God (477).
All: Merciful Jesus, help me to know how to accept every human judgment and do not allow me ever to render a condemnatory judgment on You in my neighbors.

Second Station: Jesus Carries His Cross
Jesus: (C.) Do not be afraid of sufferings; I am with you (151). The more you will come to love suffering, the purer your love for Me will be (279).
S. Faustina: (P.) Jesus, I thank You for the little daily crosses, for opposition to my endeavors, for the hardships of communal life, for the misinterpretation of my intentions, for humiliations at the hands of others, for the harsh way in which we are treated, for false suspicions, for poor health and loss of strength, for self-denial, for dying to myself, for lack of recognition in everything, for the upsetting of all my plans. (343).
All: Merciful Jesus, teach me to value life’s toil, sicknesses, and every suffering, and with love to carry my daily crosses.

Third Station: Jesus Falls the First Time
Jesus: (C.) Involuntary offenses of souls do not hinder My love for them or prevent Me from uniting Myself with them. But voluntary offenses, even the smallest, obstruct My graces, and I cannot lavish My gifts on such souls (1641).
S. Faustina: (P.) My Jesus, despite Your graces, I see and feel all my misery. … O my Jesus, how prone I am to evil, and this forces me to be constantly vigilant. But I do not lose heart. I trust God’s grace, which abounds in the worst misery (606).
All: Merciful Lord, preserve me from every, even the tiniest but voluntary and conscious infidelity.
Fourth Station: Jesus Meets His Sorrowful Mother
Jesus: (C.) Although all the works that come into being by My will are exposed to great sufferings, consider whether any of them has been subject to greater difficulties than that work which is directly Mine — the work of Redemption. You should not worry too much about adversities. (1643).
S. Faustina: (P.) I saw the Blessed Virgin, unspeakably beautiful. She held me close to herself and said to me, I am Mother to you all, thanks to the unfathomable mercy of God. Most pleasing to me is that soul which faithfully carries out the will of God. Be courageous. Do not fear apparent obstacles, but fix your gaze upon the Passion of my Son, and in this way you will be victorious (449).
All: Mary, Mother of Mercy, be near me always, especially in suffering as you were on your Son’s way of the cross.

Fifth Station: Simon Helps Jesus Carry His Cross
Jesus: (C.) Write that by day and by night My gaze is fixed upon him, and I permit these adversities in order to increase his merit. I do not reward for good results but for the patience and hardship undergone for My sake (86).
S. Faustina: (P.) Jesus, You do not give a reward for the successful performance of a work, but for the good will and the labor undertaken. Therefore, I am completely at peace, even if all my undertakings and efforts should be thwarted or should come to naught. If I do all that is in my power, the rest is not my business (952).
All: Jesus, my Lord, let my every thought, word, and deed be undertaken exclusively out of love for You. Keep on cleansing my intentions.

Sixth Station: Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus
Jesus: (C.) Know that whatever good you do to any soul, I accept it as if you had done it to Me (1768).
S. Faustina: (P.) I am learning how to be good from Jesus, from Him who is goodness itself, so that I may be called a [child] of the heavenly Father (669). Great love can change small things into great ones, and it is only love which lends value to our actions (303).
All: Lord Jesus, my Master, grant that my eyes, my hands, my lips and my heart may always be merciful. Transform me into mercy.

Seventh Station: Jesus Falls the Second Time
Jesus: (C.) The cause of your falls is that you rely too much upon yourself and too little on Me. But let this not sadden you so much. You are dealing with the God of mercy (1488). Know that of yourself you can do nothing (639). Without special help from Me, you are not even capable of accepting My graces (738).
S. Faustina: (P.) Jesus, do not leave me alone in suffering. You know, Lord, how weak I am. I am an abyss of wretchedness, I am nothingness itself; so what will be so strange if You leave me alone and I fall? (1489). So You, Jesus, must stand by me constantly like a mother by a helpless child — and even more so (264).
All: May Your grace assist me, Lord, that I may not keep falling continuously into the same faults; and when I fall, help me to rise and glorify Your mercy.

Eighth Station: Jesus Meets the Women of Jerusalem
Jesus: (C.) O how pleasing to Me is living faith! (1420) Tell all, that I demand that they live in the spirit of faith (353).
S. Faustina: (P.) I fervently beg the Lord to strengthen my faith, so that in my drab, everyday life I will not be guided by human dispositions, but by those of the spirit. Oh, how everything drags man towards the earth! But lively faith maintains the soul in the higher regions and assigns self-love its proper place; that is to say, the lowest one (210).
All: Merciful Lord, I thank You for holy Baptism and the grace of faith. Continuously, I call: Lord, I believe, increase my faith.

Ninth Station: Jesus Falls the Third Time
Jesus: (C.) My child, know that the greatest obstacles to holiness are discouragement and an exaggerated anxiety. These will deprive you of the ability to practice virtue. Do not lose heart in coming for pardon, for I am always ready to forgive you. As often as you beg for it, you glorify My mercy. (1488).
S. Faustina: (P.) My Jesus, despite Your graces, I see and feel all my misery. I begin my day with battle and end it with battle. As soon as I conquer one obstacle, ten more appear to take its place. But I am not worried, because I know that this is the time of struggle, not peace (606).
All: Merciful Lord, I give over to You that which is my exclusive property, that is, my sin and my human weakness. I beg You, may my misery drown in Your unfathomable mercy.

Tenth Station: Jesus Is Stripped Of His Garments
S. Faustina: (P.) Jesus was suddenly standing before me, stripped of His clothes, His body completely covered with wounds, His eyes flooded with tears and blood, His face disfigured and covered with spittle.
Jesus: (C.) The bride must resemble her Betrothed.
S. Faustina: (P.) I understood these words to their very depth. There is no room for doubt here. My likeness to Jesus must be through suffering and humility (268).
All: Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make my heart like unto Your heart.

Eleventh Station: Jesus Is Nailed To The Cross
Jesus: (C.) My pupil, have great love for those who cause you suffering. Do good to those who hate you (1628).
S. Faustina: (P.) O my Jesus, you know what efforts are needed to live sincerely and unaffectedly with those from whom our nature flees, or with those who, deliberately or not, have made us suffer. Humanly speaking, this is impossible. At such times more than at others, I try to discover the Lord Jesus in such a person and for the same Jesus, I do everything for such people (766).
All: O purest Love, rule in all Your plenitude in my heart and help me to do Your holy will most faithfully (328).

Twelfth Station: Jesus Dies on the Cross
Jesus: (C.) All this is for the salvation of souls. Consider well, My daughter, what you are doing for their salvation (1184).
S. Faustina: (P.) Then I saw the Lord Jesus nailed to the cross. When He had hung on it for a while, I saw a multitude of souls crucified like Him. Then I saw a second multitude of souls, and a third. The second multitude were not nailed to [their] crosses, but were holding them firmly in their hands. The third were neither nailed to [their] crosses nor holding them firmly in their hands, but were dragging [their] crosses behind them and were discontent.
Jesus: (C.) Do you see these souls? Those who are like Me in the pain and contempt they suffer will be like Me also in glory. And those who resemble Me less in pain and contempt will also bear less resemblance to Me in glory (446).
All: Jesus, my Savior, hide me in the depth of Your heart that, fortified by Your grace, I may

Thirteenth Station: Jesus Is Taken Down From the Cross
Jesus: (C.) Most dear to Me is the soul that strongly believes in My goodness and has complete trust in Me. I heap My confidence upon it and give it all it asks (453).
S. Faustina: (P.) I fly to Your mercy, Compassionate God, who alone are good. Although my misery is great, and my offenses are many, I trust in Your mercy, because You are the God of mercy; and, from time immemorial, it has never been heard of, nor do heaven or earth remember, that a soul trusting in Your mercy has been disappointed (1730).
All: Merciful Jesus, daily increase my trust in Your mercy that always and everywhere I may give witness to Your boundless goodness and love.

Fourteenth Station: Jesus Is Placed In the Tomb
Jesus: (C.) But child, you are not yet in your homeland; so go, fortified by My grace, and fight for My kingdom in human souls; fight as a king’s child would; and remember that the days of your exile will pass quickly, and with them the possibility of earning merit for heaven. I expect from you, My child, a great number of souls who will glorify My mercy for all eternity (1489).
S. Faustina: (P.) Every soul You have entrusted to me, Jesus, I will try to aid with prayer and sacrifice, so that Your grace can work in them. O great lover of souls, my Jesus, I thank You for this immense confidence with which You have deigned to place souls in our care (245).
All: Grant, Merciful Lord, that not even one of those souls which You have entrusted to me be lost.