Friday, August 22, 2014

My Heart Is Yours by Kristian Stanfill

Balthasar on Sin and Expiation

"The believer knows that, on the cross, Jesus 'took away the sins of the world.' Guilt cannot simply be blown away; it must be expiated; it must be dissolved in the pain of sorrow for sin and the confession of guilt. We have an embryonic grasp of this, even if what happens on the cross remains infinitely mysterious and can only be accepted in faith."

Hans Urs von Balthasar (Fulness of the Faith)

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Wanderer by Johnny Cash and U2

Tim Staples: How are we saved?

Tim Staples is a great apologist!  He is a great witness to our Catholic faith!

St. John Paul II and Friendship

The following comes from

The friendship between Stanislaw Nagy and Karol Wojtyła began on a train from Lublin to Krakow.
It would continue for 30 years, though Wojtyła would be taken far from their homeland and be weighted with the responsibility of the world. It was a 30-year friendship characterized by passionate discussions on theology and the Church, often with skis on their feet, during snowy excursions in God's creation.
Stanislaw Nagy was born in 1921, the year after Wojtyła. He was ordained a priest of the Congregation of the Priests of the Sacred Heart in 1945, as the war was ending. And some years after his friend was elected Pope, he was made a cardinal though he wasn't yet a bishop. The cardinal appointment was John Paul II's recognition of his old ski companion's contributions to ecclesiology studies.
Cardinal Nagy was not in St. Peter's Square this month on the day of his friend Karol's beatification, but in Zakopane, where they skied together so many times. And he celebrated a liturgy of thanksgiving at the Shrine of the Virgin of Fatima -- almost at the same time that Benedict XVI was celebrating Mass in Rome -- in which he consecrated the first altar in Poland dedicated to John Paul II.
He was not in Rome either when Cardinal Wojtyła began his pontificate on Oct. 22, 1978. The Pope chided him for this fact, with the light irony that characterized him. "I was very astonished," recalled Cardinal Nagy, "when one of the Polish priests who had been present at the inauguration of the pontificate gave me a letter from the newly elected. In it he wrote: 'What kind of theologian studies the Pope and his role in the Church and does not come to see him?'"
Despite their contact as university companions and later when Wojtyła was archbishop of Krakow and called him for advice on theological questions and to prepare the diocesan synods, "I did not consider myself his friend, so great was the distance that it seemed to me separated us," Cardinal Nagy said.
"I considered him a very intelligent man, of exceptional capacities, marked by a high sense of morality," he explained. "I did not feel capable of reaching him, because he was higher than me."
Leaving home
The cardinal remembers how Wojtyła was already known and esteemed in the Vatican long before becoming Peter's Successor: "Paul VI knew him and liked him; he called him to preach the Lent spiritual exercises of 1976 for the Pontiff and the Roman Curia."
The Poles, too, were conscious of his worth, but not even Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski, primate of Poland, thought that Wojtyła could become Pope, Cardinal Nagy said.
John Paul I's death was a blow for his friend, the cardinal remembered. "One could perceive the anxiety that went through him."
And he added: "I learned of his election through Free Europe, the clandestine radio, which was more surprised than I was. I was in Lublin and among the students there was a great explosion of joy: At that moment I realized that the Wojtyła I knew was becoming another person."
But the future cardinal would discover he was mistaken: Pope Wojtyła was still the same ski companion Nagy had always known.
The year of his election, John Paul II invited him to Rome for the consecration of the new archbishop of Krakow, Franciszek Macharski.
"While coming down the steps of the plane, a man approached me and told me I was invited to dine with the Pope and he then accompanied me to him. I saw Wojtyła for the first time dressed in white," Cardinal Nagy remembered. "He was the same as before: simple, open, cordial -- as the brother who had spent so many hours with me on the mountain talking about this or that topic -- and, at the same time, he was full of majesty. An aura of seriousness and holiness emanated from him."
Blessed friendship
Cardinal Nagy said he has continually asked himself when he first realized "that I was dealing with a candidate to the altar."
"I think the first indication was the intensity of his prayer," he offered. In the mountains "I saw his simple and open nature, but at the same time I saw how he always tried to retire to pray. Already then he was a mystic. This impression was strengthened in the subsequent 26 years of his pontificate."
"When he approached the altar," the cardinal continued, "it seemed as if he belonged to another world and when he was already old and suffering, this transfiguration was even more evident."
The Pope's friend, now 89 years old, reflected that another sign of John Paul's sanctity was his "way of enduring suffering with infinite patience, so that it wouldn't interrupt his work."
Cardinal Nagy saw the Polish Pontiff for the last time on Jan. 21, 2005, the day before he was hospitalized for the last time in "Vatican III," as he called the Gemelli Polyclinic.
"I was not present at his death, but a few days later, I was able to speak with direct witnesses who told me how the last moments were and what his last words were: 'Let me go to the Father,'" the cardinal said. "Those words represent the seal of a life, because he lived all his life in the encounter with God."

Remembering Our Lady of Knock!

August 21st is the Feast of Our Lady of Knock! The following summary comes from the Catholic Tradition site.

On the evening of August 21, 1879 Mary McLoughlin, the housekeeper to the parish priest of Knock, County Mayo, ireland, was astonished to see the outside south wall of the church bathed in a mysterious light; there were three figures standing in front of the wall, which she mistook for replacements of the stone figures destroyed in a storm. She rushed through the rain to her friend Margaret Byrne's house.

After a half hour Mary decided to leave and Margaret's sister Mary agreed to walk home with her. As they passed the church they saw and amazing vision very clearly: Standing out from the gable and to the west of it appeared the Blessed Virgin, St. Joseph and St. John. The figure of the Blessed Virgin was life-size, while the others seemed to be neither as large nor as tall. They stood a little away from the gable wall about two feet from the ground. The Virgin was erect with her eyes toward Heaven, and she was wearing a large white cloak hanging in full folds; on her head was a large crown.

Mary Byrne ran to tell her family while Mary McLoughlin gazed at the apparition. Soon a crowd gathered and all saw the apparition. The parish priest, Archdeacon Cavanaugh, did not come out, however, and his absence was a disappointment to the devout villagers. Among the witnesses were Patrick Hill and John Curry. As Patrick later described the scene: 'The figures were fully rounded, as if they had a body and life. They did not speak but, as we drew near, they retreated a little towards the wall.' Patrick reported that he got close enough to make out the words in the book held by the figure of St. John.

An old woman named Bridget trench drew closer to embrace the feet of the Virgin, but the figure seemed always beyond reach. Others out in the fields and some distance away saw a strange light around the church. The vision lasted for about three hours and then faded.

The next day a group of villagers went to see the priest, who accepted the their report as genuine; he wrote to the diocesan Bishop of Tuam; then the Church set up a commission to interview a number of the people claiming to witness the apparition. The diocesan hierarchy was not convinced, and some members of the commission ridiculed the visionaries, alleging they were victims of a hoax perpetrated by the local Protestant constable! But the ordinary people were not so skeptical, and the first pilgrimages to knock began in 1880. Two years later Archbishop John Joseph Lynch of Toronto made a visit to the parish and claimed he had been healed by the Virgin of Knock.

In due course many of the witnesses died. But Mary Byrne married, raised six children, living her entire life in Knock. When interviewed again in 1963 at the age of eighty-six, her account did not vary from the first report she gave in 1879.

The village of Knock was transformed by the thousands who came to commemorate the vision and to ask for healing for others and themselves. The local church was too small to accommodate the crowds. In 1976 a new church, Our Lady Queen of Ireland, was erected. It holds more than two thousand and needs to, for each year more than a half million visitors arrive to pay their respects to the Blessed Virgin.

The Church approved the the apparition in 1971 as being quite probable, although it has never been formally stated. The Shrine at Knock is opened year round. In 1994 three life-sized statues were erected of Our Lady, St. Joseph and St. John.

Form more information of Our Lady of Knock please click here!

Here are the lyrics to this beautiful song:
There were people of all ages
gathered ‘round the gable wall
poor and humble men and women,
little children that you called

We are gathered here before you,
and our hearts are just the same
filled with joy at such a vision,
as we praise your name

Golden Rose, Queen of Ireland,
all my cares and troubles cease
as we kneel with love before you,
Lady of Knock, my Queen of Peace

Though your message was unspoken,
still the truth in silence lies
as we gaze upon your vision,
and the truth I try to find

here I stand with John the teacher,
and with Joseph at your side
and I see the Lamb of God,
on the Altar glorified

And the Lamb will conquer
and the woman clothed in the sun
will shine Her light on everyone

and the lamb will conquer
and the woman clothed in the sun,
will shine Her light on everyone

Don Bosco's Popes: St. Pius X

The following comes from

Joseph Sarto was born at Riese (Treviso) on 2nd June 1835. He was elected Pope on 4th August 1903. He died on 20th August 1914 and was canonised on 29th May 1954. Not just as Pope, but also as priest, bishop and patriarch, he gave evidence of his good will towards the Salesian Society When he was a Canon, he met with the Founder in Turin on 15th August 1875; he sat at table with the Saint, was enrolled amongst the Salesian Cooperators and left much edified. A few days after he became Pope, he sent Don Rua a letter with a blessing on the Salesian Society. On 23rd July 1907 he signed the decree introducing the apostolic process for John Bosco, and on the 10th February 1914, did the same for Dominic Savio. In 1903 he promoted Bishop Cagliero as the titular Archbishop of Sebaste and in 1908 nominated him as Apostolic Delegate to Central America. He was the first Salesian Cooperator to be elevated to the honour of the Altars.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Overcome by Digital Age

Who Was The Most Influential Saint of His Time?

The following comes from the Catholic Exchange site:

Reread that headline carefully. The question is not who is the most influential saint of all time, but rather of his or her time. The answer to the former is probably easy. I imagine many of us would tick of one of the following—St. Francis, St. Catherine, St. Patrick, St. Anthony, St. Joseph, St. Therese of Lisieux, St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Dominic, to name just a few—it’s a long list. But the second question—who was most influential in his lifetime?—is a bit of a head-scratcher.

Think of your own answer to this question and e-mail me ( your thoughts before reading further. (Please, in addition to listing your nominee, give a reason. I may post the runners-up in a follow-up, but I’ll keep your names out of it!) I imagine that few of us, including yours truly, would have come up with the answer that noted Catholic historian Warren Carroll does:

Answer: St. Bernard of Clairvaux.

Here’s what Carroll writes of him:

No man before or since who held no office of power throughout his life bestrode his age as did this monk of genius and of leashed but flaming passion, juridically only one of the many hundreds of abbots in the Church, yet the terror and inspiration of emperors and kings, the shield and sword—and where necessary the goad—of Popes. No historical determinist theory, no calculations of material or institutional power and influence can begin to account for St. Bernard of Clairvaux and what he did.

This is high praise, even for a saint, but St. Bernard deserves it. During his life, he launched a sweeping reform of the religious life in Europe, squashed a major anti-trinitarian heresy, nearly single-handedly averted a schism in the Papacy, and sparked a new crusade to Jerusalem, according to Carroll’s account. His achievements do not stop there. St. Bernard, among other things, also drew up the rule for the legendary Knights Templar and was one of the founders of the Cistercian order. He is also credited with writing about ten treatises. And, it is to him, that we owe prayers like the “Memorare” to Mary and hymns such as “O Sacred Head Surrounded.” Indeed, it is hard to think of a saint whose do deeply touched so many different areas of the social, political, and spiritual life of his time.

Matt Fradd on Evangelizing

The following comes from Matt Fradd:
When evangelizing we ought to keep three things in mind. Those three things are summed up nicely in a single verse of the first letter of Peter:
“but in your hearts reverence Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to make a defense to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence” (1 Peter 3:15).

1. Sanctity

“In your hearts reverence Christ as Lord.”
Evangelization without a sincere desire and effort on the part of the evangelizer to grow in holiness will inevitably be ineffective.
One may be funny, entertaining, compelling, and even moving, but without the grace of God it will all come to naught.
Pope Paul VI in his decree on the apostolate of the laity wrote “Since Christ, sent by the Father, is the source and origin of the whole apostolate of the Church, the success of the lay apostolate depends upon the laity’s living union with Christ, in keeping with the Lord’s words, ‘He who abides in me, and I in him, bears much fruit, for without me you can do nothing’” (John 15:5).

2. Reasonableness

“Always be prepared to make a defense to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you.”
The word used for defense in the original Greek is apologia, which is where we get the word apologetics. I can’t tell you how many people initially think that my job is to travel the country apologizing for the Catholic Church (it’s always fun to disappoint them).
Are you prepared to make a defense for the hope you have? To Atheists? To non-Christians? To Protestants?
The Catholic Church is a champion on reason. Did you know that the first Vatican council define infallibly that one can come to know with certainty that God exists wholly apart from Divine Revelation?
If you’re not yet an apologist. Here are three free resources you should look into: – a site containing great articles on the existence of God and the historicity of Jesus Christ. – the first site you should visit if you have any questions about Catholic teaching.
Catholic Answers Live - Catholic Answers Live is a daily, two-hour radio program dedicated to Catholic apologetics and evangelization. It’s amazing. Start downloading their podcasts. Listen to them while you’re driving to work, working out, making sandwiches (I don’t know), and start educating yourself!

3. Gentleness

“yet do it with gentleness and reverence.”
In other words, don’t be a jackass (dynamic equivalence version?). People don’t generally hold to beliefs which they know are in direct defiance of truth. They have their reasons for believing it, reasons with which, though you can’t agree, you can sympathize.
For 5 tips on how to be gentle and reverent, see my article, How to Argue Without Being a . . . Male Donkey

Saint of the Day: Bernard of Clairvaux

Today is the feast of St. Bernard of Clairvaux! a Cistercian and founder of the abbey at Clairvaux. The following is from the Ecole Glossary:

St. Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153 AD) was born into nobility in Burgundy, France and was educated at the school of secular canons in the town of Chatillon-sur-Seine. At the age of twenty-three, he entered the Cistercian abbey of Citeaux near Dijon. Bernard spent a short time at Citeaux before being asked to found the monastery of Clairvaux and become its abbot. His success at Clairvaux prompted Pope Innocent II to call on him to intervene in a conflict between Innocent and the antipope Anacletus in 1133 and 1137. Once again successful, Bernard was drawn further from the cloister into the public life of the Church. He spent the next fifteen years condemning heretics and instituting religious reform until 1147 when Pope Eugenius III asked him to organize the Second Crusade. He lived to see the crusade fail and died shortly thereafter in 1153 at Clairvaux. Bernard wrote many spiritual treatises, including the celebrated On Loving God.

You can read more about St. Bernard at the Patron Saints Index!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Desert Soul by Rend Collective Experiment

Don Bosco: "Be brave...!"

"Be brave and try to detach your heart from worldly things. Do your utmost to banish darkness from your mind and come to understand what true, selfless piety is. Through confession, endeavor to purify your heart of anything which may still taint it. Enliven your faith, which is essential to understand and achieve piety."

~Don Bosco

“How could a man this smart be a Catholic?”

The following comes from Roman Catholic Spiritual Direction:

I shudder to think of it now. There I was at a CS Lewis conference and the esteemed teacher Peter Kreeft had been talking about ten things to learn from JRR Tolkien about evil. A brilliant talk. And, at the break, I had a chance to corner Kreeft to ask him a few questions. In the course of that short conversation, he mentioned to me how he had become a Catholic while attending Calvin College.

Everyone else probably knew it, but I didn’t. And I was surprised. But here’s the thing that surprised me and makes me shudder to think of it now: my immediate thought was, “How could a man this smart be a Catholic?”

By the grace of God, I didn’t actually say that to him. I sometimes wonder how he would have reacted if I had. But I didn’t.

And, by the grace of God, my reaction didn’t stop there. I moved on to a pivotal question: “What does he see that I don’t see?”

It was a pivotal question because I then realized my own bigotry and ignorance about Catholicism. All I knew about it was what I had been told by well-meaning (and not so well-meaning) Protestants – or what I had seen in the lives of a few Catholics. I’d read the Chick Tracts. I’d seen The Godfather. What else did I need to know?

I had concocted a lot of answers without ever asking the right questions. I had already rejected something I knew nothing about. And a very short conversation made me realize it.

At any other time of life, I might have left it there – acknowledged my ignorance and gotten on with my life. But at that moment I was already wrestling with some important issues. I was an Anglican and had been watching the implosion of the Episcopal Church in America. I began to wonder, who has the authority to interpret Scripture and establish doctrine?

I thought back to my formative years as a Baptist. There it was mostly a “me and my Bible” sensibility, as it is for so many Protestants. Every individual with his own leather-bound Word of God got to be his own Pope. That was easy.  Just me and Jesus. And if I belonged to a community of believers, that was all right, too. But it was an optional extra.

That didn’t ring true for me. How did millions of “little churches” line up with Jesus’ prayer for unity? Was that only wishful thinking on His part? And who had the authority to say that my interpretation of the Bible might actually be wrong? Very few, and only if I agreed with them.

As an Anglican I had conceded to – no, I actually desired – some semblance of authority and structure. But the founders of Anglicanism were determined not to repeat the “mistakes” of Rome. The reigning Monarch was the head of the Church of England. And the Archbishop of Canterbury would not be the Pope, but the spiritual head of the Anglican Communion worldwide. In other words: no authority, apart from a sweet grandfatherly influence. We have seen in the last decade or so what that really means.

It wasn’t on my mind to leave Anglicanism. I was in for the fight. But the questions nagged at me and I had to wonder what I was fighting for. Catholicism wasn’t an option. Nor was the Eastern version. And yet… that encounter with Peter Kreeft was like a slap in the face. What does he see that I don’t see?

I was determined to find out. I couldn’t imagine myself ever becoming a Catholic, but it was a decent compromise to explore the Ancient Church, believing it was neither Catholic nor Eastern Orthodox.  That was a safe bet. I could be objective and without prejudice. And so I made the effort. As John Henry Newman has pointed out, to go back into history is to find oneself in staunch Catholic territory. Beware!

Since becoming Catholic, I have encountered a lot of people with the same sensibilities I had at that meeting with Peter Kreeft. They think they know Catholicism, but they don’t. They think they know Catholics, but they don’t. And it’s up to us to show them who we really are and truly believe.

And such is life as I find it.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Alive Again by Mark Maher

A Vocation Prayer by Saint John Paul II

Lord Jesus, once you called the first disciples in order to make them fishers of men. Continue to let resound today Your sweet invitation: "Come and follow me." Grant to young men and young women the grace of responding promptly to Your voice. Sustain our bishops, priests and consecrated souls in their apostolic work. Give perseverance to our seminarians and to all those who are fulfilling an ideal of a life of total consecration to Your service. Enkindle in our communities a missionary zeal. Send Lord, workers into Your fields and do not let mankind be lost because of a lack of pastors, missionaries and people dedicated to the cause of the Gospel.

Mary, Mother of the Church, Model of Vocations, help us say "Yes to the Lord Who calls us to collaborate in the Divine Design of Salvation." Amen.

Discovering God's Will

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Restless by Audrey Assad