Thursday, September 29, 2011


What does Divine Grace do for us?


What are the effects of grace?

  1. Sanctifies: Grace is a sharing in the divine life. It is the infused presence of God, a presence that is supernatural, not merely natural. Human persons are not born in a state of grace. And there is nothing we can do ourselves to earn grace. Rather, divine grace is favor, and it is freely bestowed. It is true that we can reject grace. And so we have to cooperate with it. But it is grace that renders the human person holy and favorable to God. So the first effect of grace is that it sanctifies. No one can be truly holy unless he is in a state of grace.
  2. Beautifies: Grace renders the soul beautiful. For whatever is holy is beautiful. God is the Supreme Beauty, or Subsistent Beauty Itself. If grace is a sharing in the divine life, then grace can only beautify the soul. It has been said that the eyes are the windows of the soul. There is a great deal of truth to this statement. One can readily see the difference between the soul that is elevated by divine grace. There is a splendor in the countenance, a superabundance of a certain humane quality in the eyes that renders the person very attractive.
  3. Strengthens the will: We are so wounded by Original Sin that we simply don't have what it takes to rise above our inclination to sin and do the good that is pleasing to God. Nor are we strong enough to resist evil. But divine grace enables us to resist evil, and it strengthens the will to do good.
  4. Enlightens the Mind: In order to do good or resist evil, we have to be able to discern what is truly good and evil. To the perverted mind unenlightened by grace, what is evil appears as good, and what is good appears as evil. Dulling of the intellect is an effect of Original Sin. So grace enlightens the mind, enabling us to see intuitively all sorts of things that we would otherwise be in the dark about.
  5. Inspires to prayer: Grace inspires us to good works of all sorts, but most importantly it inspires us to draw closer to God. Grace inspires us to pray, to praise God, to adore God, to trust Him, to petition Him, and to thank Him. And of course, the more we enter deeply into prayer, the more beautiful the soul becomes, which manifests physically in the eyes, and the stronger we are made to resist evil and do good, and the more enlightened the mind becomes.
The Gravity of Sin:
Mortal Sin: destroys the grace of God within the soul. Through mortal sin, a person turns his back entirely on God and rejects His friendship.
Three Conditions of Mortal Sin:
  • Serious matter - adultery, abortion, killing a person's reputation, etc
  • Full knowledge - one cannot be in sin and NOT know it.
  • Deliberate consent - one must consent freely and deliberately, as opposed to being momentarily overcome by passion.

Venial Sin: weakens the grace of God within the soul. Venial sin is forgiven through holy communion. A number of unrepented venial sins can lead to mortal sin.
Between these two is serious sin. Serious sin does not completely destroy grace, but seriously deprives a person of grace. It is more than venial sin and one should not receive communion without Confession. It's really impossible to list what sins are serious but not mortal. It depends upon the three conditions of sin. The first condition, serious matter, is obvious. But perhaps he was not as free in his decision as he otherwise would have been.

Douglas McManaman. "What does Divine Grace do for us?"
Reprinted with permission of Douglas McManaman.
Doug McManaman is a Deacon and a Religion and Philosophy teacher at Father Michael McGivney Catholic Academy in Markham, Ontario, Canada. He is currently the President of the Canadian Fellowship of Catholic Scholars. He maintains the following web site for his students:A Catholic Philosophy and Theology Resource Page, in support of his students. He studied Philosophy at St. Jerome's College in Waterloo, and Theology at the University of Montreal. Deacon McManaman is on the advisory board of the Catholic Education Resource Center.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

In God's Company 2: September 29th Feast of the Archangels Saint Micha...

In God's Company 2: September 29th Feast of the Archangels Saint Micha...: September 29th Feast of Saint Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, Archangels The liturgy celebrates the feast of these three archangels who ar..

Our knowledge of the Archangel Raphael comes to us from the book of Tobit. His mission 
as wonderful healer and fellow traveller with the youthful Tobias has caused him to be 
invoked for journeys and at critical moments in life. Tradition also holds that Raphael is the 
angel that stirred the waters at the healing sheep pool in Bethesda. His name means "God has healed". 

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Jerrod Sessler and the Halelujah diet

Hope4Health Founders Story

The Sessler's are joyful about life these days and why not? They have three beautiful children, Jerrod is healed of advanced stage cancer and they live a vibrant existence! Their daily lives are filled with opportunities to serve others as they share their lives and the truth that has been given to them. It wasn't too many years ago, however, that much of this seemed impossible. Impossible except for one huge detail. They call it the God factor. The Sessler's did question their future after Jerrod was diagnosis with metastasized melanoma in late 1999. As explained to them, neither of them could retain hope in the pursuit of their life dreams, for Nikki to have children and for Jerrod to race. In addition to that, life expectancy for Jerrod was shortened to just the next few best. By God's grace another plan surfaced. This explains their joy and their mission perspective.
A little history... The extended family with some friends spent most of Christmas day 1999 discussing diet, lifestyle and this organization called Hallelujah Acres. This discussion included watching the 2-1/2 hour "God's Way To Ultimate Health" video by Dr. George Malkmus. Everyone sampled the green powder drink, BarleyMAX, which seemed to be a staple for success in this lifestyle.

This day marked the beginning of an era of health awareness for the Sessler's, friends and family!"The changes we have made just in kitchen hardware seemed overwhelming to me at the beginning but as we learned and grew in knowledge, Nikki and I just took it step by step and it all seemed to make sense. One key factor is that we notice improvements in our health, relationships and attitudes first hand," said Jerrod when interviewed recently.
Nikki adds, "I remember when we traveled to Chicago to see Jerrod's Uncle and Aunt several years before the diagnosis. We walked around downtown in awe of the view and the many interesting places to eat. It was in frustration however that we drove back to their home hungry because they would not eat any of the food we found. I believe this was an extreme example but it did etch an important experience in our memory. These memories later lead us to the Hallelujah Acres Diet and Lifestyle!"
The Sessler's first child, Gabe, was born in June of 2001. He unknowingly amazes everyone with his health and talent. Gabe's little sister Farrell joined the family in March of 2003 and brother Jake in May of 2005. The trio is following the healthy direction of the family and continue to amaze with their smarts, attitude and ability! None of the kids have suffered sickness or consumed any drugs via injection or pills.

After some prodding from friends, Jerrod decided to write a handbook of sorts as he told about the experiences of the first ten years after the cancer diagnosis and life as a primarily raw food vegan. From release in early 2010, Five Percent Chance has gotten a lot of attention and has been used to help thousands of people recognize the potential of making healthier lifestyle choices. "It is humbling, encouraging and exciting to get messages from people who have been helped or encouraged by the book (Five Percent Chance)" Jerrod says.
These days the Sessler's are a busy young family. They enjoy traveling, speaking and sharing the great freedom that everyone can enjoy while choosing a plant base diet. Home schooling gives them the freedom to travel, explore and meet many new people. If you would like the chance to meet the Sessler's, invite them to your even here.


Sunday, September 25, 2011, 26th Sunday Ordinary Time
Ezekiel 18:25-28, Philippians 2:1-11, Psalm 25:4-9, Matthew 21:28-32
"OBEDIENCE IS BETTER..." (1 Sm 15:22)
"Which of the two did what the father wanted?" -Matthew 21:31
We Christians have told God we will obey Him, but many of us haven't. We have persisted in mass disobedience for years. Unbelievers have told God they will not obey Him, but many of them have changed their minds and do what God wants. Jesus said: "I assure you that tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God before you" (Mt 21:31). "None of those who cry out, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of God but only the one who does the will of My Father in heaven" (Mt 7:21).
"Obedience is better than sacrifice" (1 Sm 15:22), although sacrifice is so important the Father sent His Son to be sacrificed on Calvary for us. Jesus obediently accepted even death on the cross (Phil 2:8). Through His "obedience all shall become just" (Rm 5:19). If we love Jesus, we will obey His commands (Jn 14:15). We will even lead "a life of obedience" (1 Pt 1:2) and delight in obeying the Lord's commands (Ps 40:9).
Repent. Go to Confession. Decide to obey God all the time in every way. Partial obedience is a euphemism for disobedience. No matter how weak you have been for years, God will always give you the grace to obey. Break out of prisons of disobedience. Obey God now.
Prayer: Father, give me a deeper love for You so I will want to repent of disobedience.
Promise: "At Jesus' name every knee must bend in the heavens, on the earth, and under the earth, and every tongue proclaim to the glory of God the Father: JESUS CHRIST IS LORD!" -Phil 2:10-11
Praise: Praise You, risen Jesus, obedient Son of God. Your willingness to do as the Father commands has won our salvation. Glory to You forever!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Priest preaches on mortal sin and becomes like St. Pio

Sept. 23, 2011
An aged Roman Catholic priest who offered objective moral truth to his parishioners has been relieved of his office. Bishop Valery Vienneau of the Diocese of Bathurst, in New Brunswick, Canada, removed Eudist Father Donat Gionet (left) from his ministry because he gave sermons about homosexuals, abortion, and fornication, clearly enunciating Roman Catholic teaching on the subjects.
Nervous church authorities, under pressure from “the community,” cashiered Gionetbecause he was not “sensitive” enough in articulating the faith.
So because of the “community,” Gionet says he must now celebrate Mass in secret.
Stop the Sin
Gionet’s trouble arose, reported, from his homilies in August, during which he denounced three of the key issues facing the Catholic church: abortionfornication, and homosexuality. Even worse, he did so on the weekend of the local  "pride" march. “Pride” is a word homosexuals use to describe their festivals and other public gatherings.
The offending homilies included remarks that the “gates of hell” are attacking the church, but that alleged Catholics threaten the church more immediately, the website reported.
He [Gionet] pointed to the high number of abortions among Catholics and the presence of homosexuality in the Church. He emphasized that cohabitating couples and homosexuals ought not to receive the Eucharist, but are still welcome to join the Church at Mass.
“After these reflections, there were no other allusions whatsoever,” he says, adding that in the homily he went on to speak of the power of forgiveness offered through the Church.
Catholics in a state of mortal sin may not receive Holy Communion until reconciling through sacramental confession.
So the good priest laid down the law, divine and natural, the website reported, which upset the powers that be. The website reported that parishioners accused Gionet of “homophobia” and other crimes against thought. “His loudest critic,” the website reported, “was the mayor of Saint-LeolinJoseph Lanteigne, an openly homosexual member of the parish council, who demanded the priest’s suspension.”
Thus, Gionet’s removal.
"Lack Of Respect"
In other words, Gionet’s homilies did not trespass the teaching of the church. He was, to use the argot of the homosexual lobby, “intolerant.”
“It was mainly the pastoral approach that was lacking,” the Rev. Wesley Wade told Radio Canada,LifeSiteNews reported. Wade added:
A lack of respect, perhaps, for the people identified, for the groups of people as well, which caused a division in the community. It was a difficult decision.
According to the Canadian Broadcasting Company, the bishop and priests around Gionet tried something like an “intervention” to get him to stop. But the elderly priest was unmoved.
Reported the CBC, “Representatives from Gionet's diocese said they have heard mixed reactions from the priest's congregation, with some supporting his message but others uncomfortable with his sermons.”
“That’s always the challenge in today's world: to be faithful to the callings of Christ and yet respecting people where they are,” said Father Wesley Wade of the Bathurst diocese.
“Unfortunately with Father Gionet, with what we were hearing, it was dividing a community.”
Gionet Steadfast
For his part, the tough old priest won’t budge. According to LifeSiteNews, “In an open letter Thursday, Fr. Gionet laments that the diocese did not give him an opportunity to explain himself before suspending him.”
“To you, the diocesan authorities: did you ask me what I said exactly during the homily in question?” the priest asks. “They did not, but only listened to people who are frustrated.”
When asked if he would continue making similar comments, he says he can only respond “yes.” “And if they asked me about the homily, in its entirety, I could not say ‘no’ because for me it is important to speak the truth,” he insists.
Because Gionet stood steadfast, Bishop Vienneau sacked him. He also apologized to the “faithful” at Gionet’s church.
Gionet admits he offered unvarnished objective truth, LifeSiteNews reported, but said he reminded the congregations to whom he spoke that forgiveness for sin is available through the church.
He told the CBC, “We have to try to fight [homosexuality], destroy it, or do our best to invite people to change their life.” He added:
And that's something which is from my duty as a priest. I have to teach the truth to the people. I have to tell them how they should live to be with the church because if you're gay you're not with the church.
As well, he told LifeSiteNews, his life now harks back to the what the first Christians did at the beginning of the church: "They had to hide in the catacombs to pray or celebrate the Eucharist.”

Friday, September 23, 2011

In God's Company 2: Model and TV presenter Ania Golędzinowska tells Pa...

In God's Company 2: Model and TV presenter Ania Golędzinowska tells Pa...:

Ania Goledzinowska: I left Itlay without telling anyone.

Model and TV presenter Ania Golędzinowska tells Paolo Gambi why she left the world of glitzy celebrity for Medjugorje

By Paolo Gambi on Thursday, 22 September 2011

The model who gave up Chanel for a life of prayer

As Silvio Berlusconi grapples with the greatest crisis the Italian republic has ever seen, a member of his extended family has gone on a long retreat to Medjugorje. Ania Golędzinowska, the Polish girlfriend of Paolo Enrico Beretta, the Italian prime minister’s nephew (he is the son of Silvio Berlusconi’s late sister, Maria Antonietta), has moved to the town in Bosnia and Herzegovina to lead a life of prayer.

How did you end up in Medjugorje?

The first time I was invited by a friend who also paid for the trip. I had a sort of an allergy for priests and the Church. But that first trip changed my life, so much so that for the following two years I was no longer able to live serenely, because I realised that I had never been really happy in my entire life. What I was living was an illusion, not true happiness. I became depressed. I had a privileged life that I no longer liked. Instead, I wanted simple, normal things. One morning I woke up, called a friend and asked him to find me a place to stay in Medjugorje – or I would have jumped out of the window. I left Italy with two bags without telling anyone. And here I am.

How long have you been in Medjugorje and when are you going to come back to Italy?

I’ve been here almost three months. Actually, my first thought was to come here just for a few days, because on June 25 I should have started a PR job in Porto Cervo, Sardinia, at the billionaire Flavio Briatore’s club. But June 25 was also the 30th anniversary of the apparitions in Medjugorje. After five days here I terminated the contract and have decided to remain. I am in a Marian community and I live with priests and nuns.

How do you spend your day?

I wake up at five in the morning. We climb the mountain Podbrdo to recite a rosary, then we go down, we have prayers, then Holy Mass. Until noon we work. I clean the rooms and bathrooms, then I do the ironing, or peel potatoes. We also have a vegetable garden and chickens. After that we recite another rosary. In the afternoon we rest, then at six there are other prayers.

You’re spending the summer in a place of prayer, far enough away from everything and everyone. Don’t you miss Formentera, Sardinia and other places like that?

Absolutely not. Many of my old friends cannot comprehend what I am doing. They don’t understand how I can be happy doing what maybe my cleaning lady did before. In fact, I think I have never been so happy. I feel like when I was a child, when I was little and I lived with my poor and simple family. Everything

I do makes me feel satisfied. I feel loved by God and by those around me, without having to disguise myself by what I have never been. I know that people are close to me for who I really am, not for profit. I left everything. I get dressed with the “clothes of Providence”, which sometimes the pilgrims leave here, because my clothes did not fit in Medjugorje. I could not come here wearing Chanel shoes…

What was the reaction of your boyfriend, Paolo Enrico Beretta?

At first he was shocked. For almost two weeks he did not know where I was. We met again a month later, when I returned to Milan to terminate the lease of the house and to sell the car: I decided to move permanently to Medjugorje. We met, we talked a lot and he understood my choices. He told me he respects them and that he will always and in any case be close to me until I will be ready to come back. And he knows very well that this can happen in a year as in four. Meanwhile, he is preparing to visit me. Now I do what the Lord wants from me. If the Lord wants me to come back, I shall come back to Italy. But I do not think this will happen in the near future.

In the newspapers we read that you have chosen chastity. Again, one would wonder if your boyfriend welcomed your choice.

He is perhaps the only man who has always respected me. We have had a chaste relationship, even though we have known each other for three years. Maybe that’s why our relationship is so deep. I decided to create an association “pure hearts” for those who have chosen to live in chastity until marriage, respecting God and themselves. As a sign recognition there are numbered rings for all members.

Why do so many people in the Italian showbusiness world go to Medjugorje?

I don’t know. Some do it for advertising, but there are also those who really need to find answers. In the end we are all people, and newspapers usually don’t tell stories about regular people. I believe that today’s world urges us to seek the truth, because we live in a false reality.

Where did your story begin?

It’s a long story and I have written about it in the book Con occhi di bambina (“Through the eyes of a child”). It begins when I was a little princess who dreamed of a castle and of her prince, but I found myself kicked out of the enchanted castle when I was four years old. I had to struggle with insincere people, harassment, abuse, drugs and much else besides.

It’s reported that in 2008, wearing just a bikini, you came out of a cake donated to prime minister Silvio Berlusconi and sang “Happy birthday” to him. After Medjugorje would you do that again?

After Medjugorje I would not do many things, but I do not regret anything. I had to live the good and the bad things of my past in order to give testimony today that you can change, that real life is something else. Jesus came and died for sinners, not for healthy people. I am the first of sinners. I do not want to lose the privilege of enjoying the mercy of the Lord.

From parties, perhaps with cocaine, to Our Lady… Do you think you want to escape from the world?

I have had nothing to do with drugs for about six years. I do not want to escape from the world, I know that the real battle is out in everyday life. But first I have to heal my soul to help others, to fight in the battlefield for the only true King, who is God.

From Medjugorje what do you want to tell our readers?

Three things: love, forgive and do not judge. Just as you want to be forgiven, also others have the right to a second chance. Forgive, but do not do it for others: do it for yourself. You must empty the hatred and the resentment that you hold in your heart. Only then can God work in you. Otherwise he has nowhere to put the graces that he has reserved. If you decide to come to Medjugorje do not expect to see the sun spinning or other miracles. The real miracle is your departure. Our Lady will take care of all the rest.

Open your heart.

Paolo Gambi is a contributing editor of The Catholic Herald

Padre Pio, St. Pio, A story in his life

St. Pio, incorrupt body

Every September 23, the Catholic Church celebrates the feast day of St. Padre Pio. This holy Capuchin priest from Pietrelcina, Italy was widely known for his supernatural gifts of bi-location, reading souls and the bodily marks of Christ, better known as stigmatas. What may be less known, however, was the debt he willing to pay in order to save souls.
As one being baptized in Christ’s death, he willingly suffered as a victim priest for sinners. Indeed, Jesus did not die on the Cross to exempt us from redemptive suffering; on the contrary, His Passion enabled us to participate in it. This truth is confirmed by St. Peter who wrote: “Love covers a multitude of sins” and that “for whoever suffers in the flesh has broken with sin.” (I Peter 4:1,8) It was this kind of love and sacrifice that made St. Pio’s ministry so fruitful. His biography contains a long litany of stories which convey profound lessons for life’s spiritual journey.
One such story took place before St. Pio became a priest in 1905. At the time he was a divinity student at Sant’ Elia a Piansi. While in a choir at church, at 11:00 p.m. at night, he was mystically transported to an enormous house looking much like a mansion. In this house was Giovanni Battista Rizzani, a man who was on his deathbed. His wife, Leonilde Rizzani, who was eight months pregnant, was at his bedside but was unaware that she was about to give birth prematurely to a baby girl. As a committed Mason and opponent of Christianity, Giovanni had his friends stationed outside his house so as to prevent any priest from coming in. He knew that his wife, a devout Catholic, wanted him to receive Last Rites. Sure enough, a priest soon arrived at the house but was unable to get in thanks to the efforts of Giovanni’s friends. Matters went from bad to worse when Leonilde went into labor and gave birth to a baby girl named, Giovanna.
It was during this time the Blessed Virgin appeared to St. Padre Pio (miles away from the mansion) in order to brief him about his mission in this regard. She said: “I am entrusting this child to you. Now she is a diamond in the rough, but I want you to work with her, polish her, and make her as shinning as possible, because one day I wish to adorn myself with her.”
St. Pio simply asked, “How is this possible?” He reasoned that he was not a priest yet (out of his humility, he did not presume he would be a priest). Also, at the time, the Rizzani family lived some 350 miles away. Needless to say, the young Pio couldn’t see how he could possibly carry out this mission. Nevertheless, the Madonna simply replied, “Do not doubt. She will come to you at St. Peter’s Basilica.”
"Do not doubt!" St. Pio would have to learn this lesson time and time again- as we all do. The circumstances which daily press upon us and the difficult circumstances which demand recognition may seem meaningless and even an obstacle to what God has called us to. Still, heaven bids us “not to doubt.” We are to trust that Divine Providence brings order out of disorder, meaning from what seems meaningless and interior joy out of painful circumstances. St. Padre Pio would later say we are like little children who, while sitting on the floor, look up at the bottom of the embroider our mother is working on. From the bottom view, the embroider is full of uneven threads and knots. But from the top view, however, a beautiful design is emerging; one that is pleasing to the eye.
Back to the mansion: The priest waiting outside managed to convince Giovanni’s friends that he should at least be able to baptize the newly born Giovanna. As the priest entered the home, Giovanni, the unbelieving Mason, was breathing his last. But before he died he asked God for forgiveness. Several years later, St. Pio would tell Giovanna that her father’s soul was saved through the intercession of Mary.
Fast forward to 1922. Leonilde had moved to Rome with her children. Giovanna was seventeen or eighteen at the time. In high school, Giovanna’s teachers had sown some seeds of doubt in her mind about the Holy Trinity. She was troubled by this, so she went to confession at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. However, confessions had just ended and the security personnel were trying to usher the people out of the basilica. Giovanna was told to go home. Nonetheless, a voice from within one of the confessional's said that he would hear her confession. She then confessed her sins and the doubts she entertained about the Trinity were dispelled by the confessor. Giovanna, inspired by the good counsel she received, wanted to wait for the priest who, she thought, was still in the confessional so she could have a word with him. At this point, the security personnel were growing more irritated with Giovanna because she had not left yet. After expressing her wish to talk with the confessor, one of the guards opened the confessional curtain and said to her, “See, no one is there.” Indeed, it was true. The confessional was empty.
A year later in 1923, Giovanna, her aunt, and several friends of hers wanted to go see St. Padre Pio in San Giovanni Rotondo. At this point, Giovanna did not know much about the holy priest. The following account is taken from the book, "Padre Pio: The True Story" by C. Bernard Ruffin:
It was late afternoon when, standing in the crowd of people in the sacristy of the church, Giovanna caught her first glimpse of Padre Pio. To her amazement, he came right up to her and extended his hand for her to kiss, exclaiming, “Why, Giovanna! I know you! You were born the day your father died.” She did not know what to say. The next day, after hearing her confession, Padre Pio said to her, "At last you have come to me, my dear child. I have been waiting for you for so many years." Giovanna replied, "Perhaps you’re mistaken and have confused me with some other girl.”
Padre Pio assured her by saying, “No, I am not mistaken. I knew you before…Last summer, one summer afternoon, you went with a friend to St. Peter’s Basilica and you made your confession before a Capuchin priest. Do you remember?”
“Yes, Father I do.” “Well," Padre Pio replied, "I was that Capuchin!”
Padre Pio went on to explain, “Dear child, listen to me. When you were about to come into the world, the Madonna carried me away to Udine to your mansion. She had me assist at the death of your father, telling me: ‘See, in this very room a man is dying. He is the head of a family. He is saved through the tears and prayers [italics added] of his wife and through my intercession. The wife of the dying man is about to give birth to a child. I entrust this child to you.’ Padre Pio concluded by insisting, ‘And now let me take care of your soul, as the heavenly Lady desires.’”
Giovanna burst into tears and asked Padre Pio, “Tell me, what I must do? Shall I become a nun?” “By no means,” he said. “You will come often to San Giovanni Rotondo. I will take charge of your soul, and you will know the will of God.”
This story is important because it says a lot about how indispensable we are in carrying out the mission that God has given us. The Blessed Virgin could have ministered to Giovanna herself; the young girl was a diamond the Blessed Virgin easily could have shined herself. Nevertheless, Divine Providence had preordained from all eternity that St. Pio should take under his wing his spiritual daughter who was about to be born. At the time, St. Pio couldn’t even imagine how such a thing could be done, given the distance and all the imagined obstacles. But the crosses he carried and the sufferings he offered up was precisely the thing Jesus Christ wanted to use to ransom the soul of Giovanna. We cannot forget her father either. Giovanni, a penitent at death but a Mason during his life, was rescued from eternal darkness through the tears of his wife, Leonilde, and the intercession of the Madonna.
Another point to consider is this: The story of Giovanna and St. Pio reveals at what lengths the Lord and the Blessed Virgin will go to save a soul. As for us, the sheer number of people in this world overwhelms the human mind. As such, we see ourselves as one soul out of six or seven billion. But for God - as well as for the Angels and the Saints in heaven (which is beyond time and space) - gazing upon the multitude in no way subtracts from the love and knowledge they have of each and every individual.
A dying father and a fatherless girl needed help. Heaven took notice and sent St. Padre Pio. We too are called to provide the kind of help to people no one else can provide. God may even send you in what seems like an impossible situation. Nonetheless, we should have faith and be resolved to help carry our neighbor's cross, to offer spiritual sacrifices and to pay their debts. To every soul who owes a moral and spiritual debt, our Lord says, "I say to you, you will not be released until you have paid the last penny." (Lk 12:59) The life of St. Padre Pio teaches us that we can free our neighbors from their spiritual and moral prisons by helping them pay back those pennies.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Roman Catholic Priest gets silenced for preaching truths about abortion and homosexuality

An elderly priest on the Acadian Peninsula has been barred from performing church services in the Bathurst diocese after he made remarks about homosexuals and women who have had an abortion.
Click to Enlarge
Photo: Réal Fradette/Canadaeast News Service
Donat Gionet
Rev. Donat Gionet, 85, gave the sermon at the Roman Catholic church in Saint-Léolin while replacing the regular parish priest late last month.
He stands by the comments he made in Saint-Léolin, a village of about 730 people located about 50 kilometres east of Bathurst.
Reached in Caraquet on Wednesday, Gionet declined an interview but did provide a written statement.
In a letter written in French that he provided to the Telegraph-Journal, Gionet stated the sermon in question was about the destruction of the Church and the need to seek forgiveness for past sins:
"I said: 'Today, it is we Catholics who are destroying our Catholic Church. We need only look at the number of abortions among Catholics, look at the homosexuals, and ourselves.' (That's when I pointed at my chest - through that action I wanted to say, we the priests) and I continued saying: We are destroying our Church ourselves. And that's when I said that those were the words expressed by Pope John Paul II. At that point, in the St-Léolin church only, I added: 'We can add to that the practice of watching gay parades, we are encouraging this evil' ... What would you think of someone who seeing what was happening on (Sept.) 11, 2001, the crumbling of the towers, had begun clapping? We must not encourage evil, whatever form it takes."
Bishop Valéry Vienneau has revoked Gionet's rights to serve mass across the Diocese of Bathurst, a decision welcomed by Joseph Lanteigne, the openly gay mayor of Saint-Léolin.
"The action taken by the diocese is good and I know it isn't easy for the diocese."
Since the incident, Gionet has quit his position on the Saint-Léolin parish's pastoral committee.
Rev. Wesley Wade, vicar general of the Diocese of Bathurst, said Gionet's teachings don't meet the diocese's goal of following Christ's example of loving unconditionally.
"We have to respect people on their own journey," Wade said.
"The first message of Christ was to reveal to us a loving father and a merciful father and that we are all called to be his children and that we are all loved unconditionally by Him."
While the Church gets criticized as a judgmental institution, Wade said the reality is "it's full of compassion."
In a letter to parishioners earlier this week, Vienneau said Gionet had been pulled from active ministry.
At a meeting last week, Gionet told Vienneau that he had no plans to change or temper his comments.
Gionet also said, as a priest, he has a duty to encourage those who aren't living their lives according to Catholic teachings to mend their ways.

Archbishop Fulton Sheen credited with baby's stunning recovery :: Catholic News Agency (CNA)

1975, Miami
Archbishop Fulton Sheen credited with baby's stunning recovery :: Catholic News Agency (CNA)

.- Bonnie Engstrom remembers praying silently to Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen over and over again after her baby son was born lifeless and without a pulse for 61 minutes.
“I held him for a moment, he was blue and limp,” she told CNA. “I just kind of sat there in shock.”
Little James Fulton was the third child that Bonnie and her husband planned to give birth to at home, and everything had been going perfectly in the early hours of Sept. 16, 2010.
“It had been a healthy pregnancy, it was a healthy labor, everything was good,” Bonnie recalled.
But what the couple and attending midwife and birth assistant did not know was that there was a knot in James' umbilical chord which tightened while he was descending the birth canal.
Her son, 9 lbs. 12 oz., was a stillborn.
Bonnie held her motionless baby for a few brief moments before he was quickly taken away for CPR while an ambulance was called.
“I have a memory of repeating Sheen's name, in my head, not out loud, but just kind of saying over and over again 'Fulton Sheen, Fulton Sheen' while they were still doing CPR,” she said.
Bonnie's husband also baptized the baby James Fulton—“the name we had agreed upon”—before he was rushed to the St. Francis Medical Center in Peoria. During the transport to the hospital, a friend who had attended the birth called others to pray, with some of them invoking Sheen's name as well.
“The intercession for my son with Archbishop Sheen began when I was still pregnant with him,” she explained. “We knew that we were going to name him after Fulton Sheen and so I was praying to him and asking him to watch out for my son to be his kind of patron.”
In the ambulance, paramedics gave the baby two doses of epinephrine to try to restart his heart, “and neither one of those worked,” Bonnie said.
But at the hospital, a full 61 minutes after he was born and while doctors were preparing to declare the time of death, James Fulton suddenly had a pulse.
Although the medical team was stunned, they refrained from being optimistic and simply told Bonnie's husband that the baby had a heartbeat, but that was all they could say.
“My husband interpreted that as 'he's alive, but just for now,'” Bonnie recalled.
Doctors expected James Fulton to die within the week, or at the very least, be on a ventilator or feeding tube—blind and strapped into a wheelchair—for the rest of his short life. 
What happened in the following days, however, was nothing short of extraordinary.
“Two days after he was born, we had a Mass and a Holy Hour at the cathedral where Sheen was ordained, and we prayed the intercessory prayer asking for Sheen's prayers that James would be completely healed,” Bonnie said.
The Engstrom family was surprised to be surrounded by over a hundred people gathered together with them at Mass that day.
“People I didn't even know—friends of friends, or they saw it on Facebook and they came.”
Over the next few days, friends and strangers alike held Holy Hours at Newman centers and parishes across the U.S. Multiple Protestant churches also participated in prayer chains.
“There were people from all over the world who e-mailed me and left comments on my blog saying 'we're praying for your son and we are asking for Sheen's intercession,'” Bonnie said. “It was really powerful and humbling.”
Within a week of his birth, doctors were shocked to find that James Fulton was breathing on his own.
“Everyone was just amazed by that—that wasn't supposed to happen.”
And day by day, after all of his vital organs were seen to be functioning properly, it became more apparent that little James Fulton was going to be just fine.
“Definitely by the time we were discharged,” and when the baby was seven weeks old, “the doctors and nurses were already pretty impressed with how far he had come,” she said.
When the follow-up MRI came in three months later in December 2010, the medical team was extremely pleased by what they saw.
James Fulton, a normal, happy little boy, celebrated his first birthday on September 16, 2011.
The Engstrom's were recently sworn into a tribunal of inquiry where members of Bishop Sheen's cause for beatification and canonization will investigate the alleged healing.
At a Sept. 7 ceremony at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Chapel in Peoria, the family was joined by Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, Dr. Andrea Ambrosi—postulator for Archbishop Sheen’s cause—and members of the Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen Foundation board.
“Because my family believes that James was healed in part because of the intercession of Sheen, there is now an investigation into whether or not this is a real miracle,” Bonnie said. “We don't know what's going to happen, but they are investigating for the beatification.”
Archbishop Sheen died in 1979 and his cause for sainthood was officially opened in 2002. He is presently referred to as a “Servant of God.” The next major step toward being declared a saint would be his beatification by the Pope.
Investigators are also evaluating the case of a 72-year-old Illinois woman who recovered from major complications during lung surgery after her husband prayed for the late archbishop's intercession.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Medjugorje Apparitions will be Approved after Visionaries have died

The apparitions in Medjugorje will be approved by The Catholic Church, three of the visionaries say. Ivan believes the medical-scientific tests of the seers “will greatly influence the rulings and decisions of the Church”. Mirjana, too, links approval to proof.

Mirjana Dragicevic-Soldo: "When my Church proves what I see, then the Church will approve what I see"
The Catholic Church will be able to prove the Virgin Mary’s apparitions in Medjugorje. The scientific tests will greatly influence the Church’s ruling on the matter. But official recognition will come only when the visionaries no longer live.
According to Medjugorje visionaries Mirjana Dragicevic-Soldo, Ivan Dragicevic and Marija Pavlovic-Lunetti these are some of the future perspectives for Medjugorje, since March 2010 under study by a Vatican Commission headed by Cardinal Camillo Ruini.
Ivan believes the results of the medical-scientific tests conducted on the visionaries throughout the years and now in the custody of the Vatican Commission “will greatly influence the rulings and decisions of the Church”. At first reluctant towards the tests proposed to him, in Medjugorje author Kresimir Sego’s new book “A Conversation with the Visionaries” Ivan explains how consultations with the Virgin Mary during apparitions made him go through with the tests:

Ivan Dragicevic: "All these results are carefully looked after and have been forwarded to the International Commitee founded by the Vatican. I believe they will greatly influence the rulings and decisions of the Church"
“Yes, we have talked about this. I asked her whether or not I should go through with them. We agreed that I should because this was what the Church wanted. All these results are carefully looked after and have been forwarded to the International Commitee founded by the Vatican. I believe they will greatly influence the rulings and decisions of the Church. Our Lady told us to accept these examinations and that we shall understand later why they were important”, Ivan tells Kresimir Sego.
“I went through all this even though I found it difficult particularly because some of these tests were repeated up to four times. Nevertheless, we agreed to do them because Our Lady advised us so”, Ivan adds.
The Church will recognize Medjugorje but only when the visionaries no longer live, visionary Marija Pavlovic-Lunetti said to the Croatian newspaper Slobodna Dalmacija on July 21st 2010:
“The act of forming the Commission was a positive act. The Church is often not interested in the sensations. It has its own position and is not in a hurry. It took decades until the official recognition of the shrine in Lourdes or Fatima. So it is with Medjugorje. I am convinced that the Vatican recognizes the authenticity of the apparitions, but only when they stop and when we visionaries have died”, Marija told Slobodna Dalmacija.

Marija Pavlovic-Lunetti: "I am convinced that the Vatican recognizes the authenticity of the apparitions, but only when they stop and when we visionaries have died"
Visionary Mirjana Dragicevic-Soldo is confident, too, about the final ruling of the Church. Interviewed in 2007, three years before the Vatican Commission was formed, in Kresimir Sego’s new book Mirjana says that the Church will come to “prove” what she sees:
“I like the fact that our Church is cautious because there are many apparitions reported in the world and, in the end, it turns out that they are not authentic. I was never worried about the fact that the Church is waiting and examining the events because I know what I see. When my Church proves what I see, then the Church will approve what I see”, Mirjana tells Kresimir Sego.
In June this year Ivanka Ivankovic-Elez became the first Medjugorje visionary to testify before the Vatican Commission. Both Vicka Ivankovic-Mijatovic and Mirjana Dragicevic-Soldo have been reported next in line to be summoned by the Commission.