Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Blessed Maria Troncatti: Missionary Salesian

The following comes from the Salesian News Agency:

The Daughters of Mary Help of Christians and with them the entire Salesian Family are in happy expectation for the Beatification of Sr Maria Troncatti. It will be possible to follow the event by direct streaming broadcast tomorrow at 10 a.m. Ecuador time. Cardinal Angelo Amato, sdb, Prefect of the Causes of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, will be presiding

Macas is where it will take place and many Salesian Sisters and Salesians are gathering there from Ecuador and elsewhere in Latin America, along with young people and Salesian Family members.

Mother Yvonne Reungoat arrived in Ecuador on 20 November with Sr Piera Cavaglià, Secretary General. Representing the Rector Major, tied up in Rome with the USG assembly, is his Vicar, Fr Adrian Bregolin, and the Postulator for Causes of Saints in the Salesian Family, Fr Pierluigi Cameroni. The President of Ecuador has made a military aircraft available for guests of honour to come to Macas.

There are various events in Ecuador marking preparations for Sr Troncatti's Beatification.
Sr. Maria Troncatti – born at Corteno Golgi (Brescia, Italy) on 16 February 1883 died in a plane crash at Sucùa (Ecuador) on 25 August 1969 – she is an example of a Religious and missionary vocation, filled with Marian devotion and dedication to the apostolic mission she had received. Hers was a life given to evangelisation and social and human development of the Shuar people in the Amazonian jungles of Ecuador. What stands out is her strong love for and fidelity to the Church expressed also in her care for God's ministers: she was always ready to lend them a hand in the difficulties of the mission.

Salesian missionary Fr John Vigna, who had occasion to get to know Sr Troncatti, says of her: “She was the very embodiment of simplicity and Gospel shrewdness. With what exquisite motherliness she won over hearts! For every problem she found a solution that was, in the light of the facts, always the best one. She never overlooked the fact that she was dealing with weak and sinful human beings. I have seen her deal with human nature of every kind, including the most miserable: she treated them with the kindness that was just natural and spontaneous for her. What surprised me was that she remained exquisitely the woman in everything and always. I would say that the more virginal she was the more she was the mother”.

There are various resources available for getting to know Sr Maria Troncatti better: and

The Salesian Sisters in Ecuador have a new section on their site dedicated to Sr Maria Troncatti. On this site, on Saturday morning 24 November at 10:00 (GMT-5) it will be possible to follow a direct broadcast of the Beatification at which Cardinal Angelo Amato, sdb, Prefect of the Congregation of Causes of Saints will preside.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Quotable Ratzinger

“The church will become small and will have to start afresh more or less from the beginning. She will no longer be able to inhabit many of the edifices she built in prosperity. As the number of her adherents diminishes . . . she will lose many of her social privileges. . . As a small society, [the Church] will make much bigger demands on the initiative of her individual members.” 

--Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) in 1970

Saint of the Day: Andrew Dung Lac and the Vietnamese Martyrs

Today the Church remembers St. Andrew Dung Lac and the Vietnamese Martyrs. The following comes from American Catholic:

St. Andrew was one of 117 martyrs who met death in Vietnam between 1820 and 1862. Members of this group were beatified on four different occasions between 1900 and 1951. Now all have been canonized by Pope John Paul II.

Christianity came to Vietnam (then three separate kingdoms) through the Portuguese. Jesuits opened the first permanent mission at Da Nang in 1615. They ministered to Japanese Catholics who had been driven from Japan.

The king of one of the kingdoms banned all foreign missionaries and tried to make all Vietnamese apostatize by trampling on a crucifix. Like the priest-holes in Ireland during English persecution, many hiding places were offered in homes of the faithful.

Severe persecutions were again launched three times in the 19th century. During the six decades after 1820, between 100,000 and 300,000 Catholics were killed or subjected to great hardship. Foreign missionaries martyred in the first wave included priests of the Paris Mission Society, and Spanish Dominican priests and tertiaries.

Persecution broke out again in 1847 when the emperor suspected foreign missionaries and Vietnamese Christians of sympathizing with the rebellion of one of his sons.

The last of the martyrs were 17 laypersons, one of them a 9-year-old, executed in 1862. That year a treaty with France guaranteed religious freedom to Catholics, but it did not stop all persecution.

By 1954 there were over a million and a half Catholics—about seven percent of the population—in the north. Buddhists represented about 60 percent. Persistent persecution forced some 670,000 Catholics to abandon lands, homes and possessions and flee to the south. In 1964, there were still 833,000 Catholics in the north, but many were in prison. In the south, Catholics were enjoying the first decade of religious freedom in centuries, their numbers swelled by refugees.

During the Vietnamese war, Catholics again suffered in the north, and again moved to the south in great numbers. Now the whole country is under Communist rule.

A Tribute to Mother Teresa Of Calcutta and Pope John Paul II

Monday, November 23, 2015

Cristo Rey, Blessed Miguel Agustin Pro and the Cristeros

"Viva Cristo Rey", "Long live Christ the King!"On November 23 we remember Blessed Miguel Pro. Fr. Pro was a hero for the faith during the persecution of Mexican Catholics in the early 20th century. I found some of these images at A Catholic Mom in Hawaii blog. His story would make a wonderful movie! Like St. Edmund Campion, Padre Pro had to dress up in disguise to outfox those who were chasing him down. He secretly brought the sacraments to the Catholic people of Mexico while it was illegal to do so under the Anti-Catholic government. The following is from

Born on January 13, 1891 in Guadalupe, Mexico, Miguel Agustin Pro Juarez was the eldest son of Miguel Pro and Josefa Juarez.

Miguelito, as his doting family called him, was, from an early age, intensely spiritual and equally intense in hi mischievousness, frequently exasperating his family with his humor and practical jokes. As a child, he had a daring precociousness that sometimes went too far, tossing him into near-death accidents and illnesses. On regaining consciousness after one of these episodes, young Miguel opened his eyes and blurted out to his frantic parents, "I want some cocol" (a colloquial term for his favorite sweet bread). "Cocol" became his nickname, which he would later adopt as a code name during this clandestine ministry.

Miguel was particularly close to his older sister and after she entered a cloistered convent, he came to recognize his own vocation to the priesthood. Although he was popular with the senoritas and had prospects of a lucrative career managing his father's thriving business concerns, Miguel renounced everything for Christ his King and entered the Jesuit novitiate in El Llano, Michoacan in 1911..
He studied in Mexico until 1914, when a tidal wave of anti-Catholicism crashed down upon Mexico, forcing the novitiate to disband and flee to the United States, where Miguel and his brother seminarians treked through Texas and New Mexico before arriving at the Jesuit house in Los Gatos, California.

In 1915, Miguel was sent to a seminary in Spain, where he remained until 1924, when he went to Belgium for his ordination to the priesthood in 1925. Miguel suffered from a severe stomach problem and after three operations, when his health did not improve, his superiors, in 1926, allowed him to return to Mexico in spite of the grave religious persecution in that country

The churches were closed and priests went into hiding. Miguel spent the rest of his life in a secret ministry to the sturdy Mexican Catholics. In addition to fulfilling their spiritual needs, he also carried out the works of mercy by assisting the poor in Mexico City with their temporal needs. He adopted many interesting disguises in carrying out his secret mininstry. He would come in the middle of the night dressed as a beggar to baptize infants, bless marriages and celebrate Mass. He would appear in jail dressed as a police officer to bring Holy Viaticum to condemned Catholics. When going to fashionable neighborhoods to procure for the poor, he would show up at the doorstep dressed as a fashionable businessman with a fresh flower on his lapel. His many exploits could rival those of the most daring spies. In all that he did, however, Fr. Pro remained obedient to his superiors and was filled with the joy of serving Christ, his King.

Falsely accused in the bombing attempt on a former Mexican president, Miguel became a wanted man. Betrayed to the police, he was sentenced to death without the benefit of any legal process.

On November 13, 1927, President Calles gave orders to have Pro executed under the pretext of the assassination, but in reality for defying the virtual outlawing of Catholicism. Calles had the execution meticulously photographed, and the newspapers throughout the country carried them on the front page the following day. Presumably, Calles thought that the sight of the pictures would frighten the Cristero rebels who were fighting against his troops, particularly in the state of Jalisco. However, they had the opposite effect.

On the day of his execution, Fr. Pro forgave his executioners, prayed, bravely refused the blindfold and died proclaiming, "Viva Cristo Rey", "Long live Christ the King!"

To learn a bit more about the Cristero War in Mexico you can click here and watch the impressive video below!

Paul Harvey: "If I were the Devil"

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Do Not Be Discouraged

Do Not Be Discouraged from Renewal Ministries on Vimeo.

This Is Hardly the Stuff of Kingship ... Or Is It?

The following comes from

Today's solemn feast of Christ the King, the grand finale to Liturgical Year C, gives us an opportunity to lay aside a lot of cultural baggage about kings and kingdoms, and discover how Jesus Christ can be a true king, unlike earthly rulers.

Over the past year, we have seen the important Lukan theme of the imitation of Jesus, especially in his ministry of forgiveness and reconciliation. In Luke's moving Gospel story of the crucifixion, this theme reaches its apex.

Jesus' final moments

Today's Gospel (23:35-43) is recounted only by Luke. The penitent sinner receives salvation through the crucified Jesus. Luke's moving scene of the crucifixion is filled with details typical of his portrayal of Jesus. He is crucified with the two criminals surrounding him, fulfilling Jesus' own prediction at the supper table (23:37). Just as Jesus had repeatedly taught his disciples not to respond to violence with more violence and to be forgiving, so he forgives the very men who had condemned him and who drive the stakes into his body (23:34).

When one of the crucified criminals joins in the chorus of derision that accompanies Jesus to his death, the other confesses his sin and asks for mercy (23:39-43). It is Luke's prescription for authentic conversion as exemplified in the story of publican and the sinner (18:9-14) and so Jesus promises this man not only forgiveness but also a place at his side that very day as his journey to God triumphantly reaches its home in paradise.

Only Luke describes this poignant scene (23:39-43): One of the criminals who hung alongside Christ derided him, saying, "Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!" But the other rebuked the other criminal, saying, "Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong." This one then said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." Christ replied, "Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise."

The image of the dying Jesus jars us with such a sense of shame and powerlessness in Luke, who describes the death of the Son of God, the King of the Jews. Luke gives us a lexicon of abuse and humiliation: criminals, condemnation, crucifixion, nakedness, scoffing, mocking, taunting, deriding, reviling, sneering ... hardly the stuff of kingship, and no crowns here except one of thorns. We are face-to-face with agony and grief, and a cacophony of insults instead of songs and praise.

A kingship that embraces

Kingship, when God is involved, does not ask people to ignore the failures, but embraces those experiences and redeems them. Throughout salvation history, God's promise to the people was a king who is righteous, deals wisely, executes justice and righteousness in the land, and enables the people to live securely. In Jesus, God has fulfilled that promise.

In the story of Jesus, kingship is recast. The miracle lies in the fact that God shares the potential hopelessness of the human situation, but does so as king, as the source of our hope and life. That is what the criminal on the cross with Jesus in today's Gospel scene (23:35-43) partly grasped. He asked Jesus to remember him when he came into his kingdom. He was looking to a future reign, but Jesus handed out the royal pardon immediately. This was simply the culmination of the way Jesus lived: He never dressed as we think a king should, or did things properly by our standards. Jesus' kingdom is unlike the one that Pilate knows and is willingly or unwillingly part of. The Roman kingdom was one of arbitrariness, privileges, domination, vengeance, vindictiveness, and occupation. Jesus' kingdom is built on love, service, justice, reconciliation and peace.

Very few can measure up to Christ's kingly stature, remaining powerless in the face of the powerful. Many of us resist with power, even though we resort to very refined forms of pressure and manipulation. As we contemplate Christ crucified, we understand something of why Christ has remained a king, even up to modern times: He didn't bow down. He never responded to violence with more violence. He forgave until the end.

God's agent in history

Today's second reading from Paul's letter to the Colossians (1:12-20) is a summary about redemption by God the Father. The imagery echoes the Exodus experience and Jesus' theme of the kingdom. Redemption in this text is explained as forgiveness of sins (cf. Acts 2:38; Romans 3:24-25; Ephesians 1:7).

The lines of this reading are most likely an early Christian hymn, known to the Colossians and taken up into the letter from liturgical use. They present Christ as the mediator of creation (1:15-18a) and of redemption (Colossians 1:18b-20). Christ (though not mentioned by name) is preeminent and supreme as God's agent in the creation of all things, as prior to all things.

There is a second, very important point at the heart of this section of Paul's letter to the Colossians. Pauline usage is to speak of the church as the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12-27; Romans 12:4-5). Some think that the author of Colossians has inserted the reference to the church here so as to define "head of the body" in Paul's customary way. When Christ was raised by God as firstborn from the dead (cf. Acts 26:23; Rev 1:5), he was placed over the community, the church, that he had brought into being, but he is also indicated as crown of the whole new creation, over all things. His further role is to reconcile all things (Colossians 1:20) for God or possibly "to himself." The blood of his cross (20) is the most specific reference in the hymn to redemption through Christ's death, a central theme in Paul (cf. Colossians 2:14-15; 1 Corinthians 1:17, 18, 23).

The kingdom and the Church

As we celebrate the feast of Christ's kingship today, let me leave you with this one thought that has been on my mind for the past year in particular. If we follow the example of the prophets of ancient Israel who worked within the framework of the structures of the faith of God's people of their day, then we in our day cannot marginalize Christian revelation and its ecclesial transmission by proposing a non-Christian vision where misuse of the terminology "Kingdom or Reign of God" is a substitute for Jesus Christ and his Church. The Church is the necessary vehicle, and privileged instrument for us to encounter Jesus Christ, to receive his life through the sacraments, to hear his Word mediated through preaching and the interpretation of the Church, and to journey toward the fullness of the kingdom of heaven, which lies ahead of us.

Jesus Christ is our great prophet. He is the only full revelation of God and he is the Lord and Savior of all men and women. We must be watchful and vigilant that the Christian terminology is never emptied of its theological meaning so as to be better integrated into a "vision" or a supposedly "new wisdom" of this age.

On this great feast, let us remember that Jesus took his wounds to heaven, and there is a place in heaven for our wounds because our king bears his in glory. Perhaps we need to cry out: "Where are you, God?" And today we are given the answer: God is hanging on a tree, in the broken body of a young man -- arms outstretched to embrace us, and gently asking us to climb up onto the cross with him, and look at the world from an entirely new perspective. Or perhaps we need to cry out for mercy, asking that he not forget us in the New Jerusalem: "Jesus, remember me, when you come into your kingdom."

And from the depth of our own darkness and shadows, we might have to pray with the Cleopas and his companion on the road to Emmaus, "Stay with us, Lord, for it is almost evening and the day is far spent." Or maybe in the midst of our despair, we recognize the source of our hope and echo the words of Jesus, "Father, into your hands I commend my spirit."

What a strange form of kingship Christ offers us today! May today's feast force us to remember the appalling fact of our salvation. When all around us seems to be darkness, destruction, night, and even death, let us never forget that we are not alone. In our midst hangs the Crucified One, arms outstretched in loving mercy and welcome. May we have the courage to ask our benevolent king to remember us in his kingdom, and the peace to know that paradise is already in our midst even when every external sign indicates darkness and death. This is abundant life on the Royal Road of the Cross.

[The readings for the solemnity of Christ the King are 2 Samuel 5:1-3; Colossians 1:12-20; Luke 23:35-43]

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Canon of Scripture: What criteria did the early Christians use to determine it?

Thomas Merton on Priesthood

If you are afraid to love, never become a priest, never say Mass.  The Mass will draw you down upon your soul a torrent of interior suffering which has only one function:  to break you wide open and let everybody in the world into your heart.  For when you begin to say Mass, the Spirit of God awakens like a giant inside you and bursts the locks of  your private sanctuary.  If you say Mass, you condemn your soul to the torrent of a love that is so vast and insatiable that you will never be able to bear it alone.  That love is the love of the Heart of Jesus, burning within your own heart and bringing down upon you the huge weight of His compassion for all the sinners of the world.

How can we know Jesus is really present in the Eucharist?

Friday, November 20, 2015

Anima Christi

Padre Pio: "The Madonna is the shortcut to get to God"

The following comes from Zenit:
Padre Pio said that "The Madonna is the shortcut to get to God."
There is no doubt that in order to see the face of Jesus, we must turn to His Mother, and it is to Her who we look to heal our diseases, to turn our tears into prayer. To Her, we offer our suffering and concern for the salvation of souls , our loneliness so that it becomes contemplation, and our fears to turn into hope.
We are confident, as written by St. Bernard of Clairvaux in his prayer, Memorare, that never was it known that anyone who fled to Mary's protection, implored her help, or sought her intercession was left unaided.
We wish you, dear readers, your families, your friends, and your loved ones a Happy Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

Discovering Catholicism: Saved from a Life of Drugs

Tim Staples: How to share the truths of faith with others

Thursday, November 19, 2015

After All by David Crowder

Why Are Some Saints Called Doctors of the Church?

Plan Out A New Life in Christ

The following comes from the Catholic Exchange:

As a result of Original Sin we all experience disorder in our lives. Emotional disorders, dysfunctional families or family disorder, mental disorder, social disorders, economic disorders, personal disorders, work disorders, and finally the most serious of all disorders are moral and spiritual disorders which springs from Original Sin and personal or actual sin.
Saint Ignatius of Loyola in the Spiritual Exercises invites us through prayer, meditation, contemplation and Examination of Conscience to work on overcoming the disorder in our life so as to know God’s will and to carry it out faithfully. This will give us great peace of heart, mind, and soul. For this reason the Augustinian definition for peace hits the mark:  “Peace is the tranquility of order.” That is to say a prerequisite for peace is interior and even exterior order—a well-ordered life.
The Holy Spirit, being the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity, is a God of order. He wants to help us to order our lives. Now is the time! When Our Lady appeared to Saint Juan Diego in Mexico Dec. 12th, 1531, she told him to climb the hill and to cut and gather the roses and then to put them in his tilma. Obedient to her, she beckoned Juan Diego to come close to her and with her own hands she ordered the roses that were simply cast in a disarrayed fashion in his tilma. Devotion and prayer to Our Lady can be a sure and efficacious means to overcoming the moral disorders in our lives and experiencing a deep peace of soul.
This presentation will suggest ten specific areas in our personal, family and professional life that we can examine closely and honestly and see if we can make some modification so as to order and improve our lives.  If done well and offered as a gift in prayer to Jesus through the hands of Mary, this plan can be a powerful motivation to grow in our spiritual lives and pursue a pathway that leads to sanctity. Jesus commands us: “Be holy as your heavenly Father is holy.”
These then will be ten areas in our lives that we can look at, examine and see what we can do to improve, so as to order the disordered and thereby achieve true peace of heart, mind and soul.
1. “It is necessary to pray always without giving up,” (Lk. 18:1). Examine your prayer life with objectivity. Now, it’s a good time to write down at least one concrete way that you can improve your prayer life after each point.
2. “Unless you do penance you will perish,” (Lk. 13: 5).  For an eagle to soar to the heights of the highest mountains, he must have two strong and health wings. For a follower of Jesus to be faithful he needs the two wings: prayer and penance, which will give power, patience, perseverance and ultimate peace of presence in a painfully morally poor planet!
3. “Be reconciled to God,” (II Cor. 5:20). Confession! We are all sinners and have fallen short of the honor and glory of God. Thanks be to God that Jesus instituted a Sacrament in which we can always filled with hope start again—that is the Sacrament of Penance or Reconciliation. Make better confessions and work on a better preparation.
4. “I am the Bread of life. Whoever eats the bread I give will have everlasting life and I will raise him up on the last day,” (Jn. 6: 22- 71—The  Bread of Life discourse). Make better Holy Communions. Starting now, receive Holy Communion as if it were your first, last, only and on which you will be judged for all eternity.
5. “Love one another as I have loved you,”(Jn. 13:34).  Rewind the film on your social relations. Maybe some relations are harmful more than they are helpful. Get the axe and cut. Sometimes better to sever rather than cultivate.  True friends should help us to get closer to God.
6. “Be slow to quick to listen and slow to speak.” (Read entire chapter of James 3) The saints teach us this principal with respect to speech, speak on three occasions:
  • 1) to praise God
  • 2) to accuse yourself (of your own shortcomings)
  • 3) to edify your neighbor—using words to build up rather than tear down
7. “You are the light of the world… let your light shine before men so that by seeing your works they may give glory to your Father who is in heaven,” (Mt 5: 13-16—Sermon on the Mount). Permanent Formation.  It is incumbent upon all followers of Christ, who is the Light of the world, to work assiduously and constantly on their own permanent formation in the faith.  The more we fill ourselves with the knowledge and love of Christ the more we can give to others.