Friday, December 30, 2011

Sky View: In a word: Judging others

Sky View: In a word: Judging others
In a word: Judging others

In a Word is a feature of Sky View which provides a short commentary or reflection on life, on a current event or a particular book. 

People judge others based on who, or rather, what they are. If a politician, for instance, is accustomed to lying and cheating others for short term gain, then when there is a question of someone else’s motive or character he will frequently judge others as he sees himself. This goes for the unjust, narcissistic and bad people in general. Because they are guided only by their own lights and refuse to conform themselves to God's law- a higher standard outside of themselves -it is difficult for them to consider other ways of thinking. And so they project their own ways of thinking and doing unto others.

The gift of faith, on the other hand, trains the mind to see morality and the world from a perspective other than our own. After all, our Lord bids us to take the plank out of our own eye before we attempt to remove the speck out of our brother’s eye. This requires that we take a second look at ourselves; especially from someone else’s vantage point.

With that said, those who are innocent like doves can make the same mistake as people with tainted motives. Those with a well-formed conscience sometimes get into the habit of assigning pure and innocent motives to those who do not merit it. For these who are pure of heart, it is difficult to imagine that someone can deliberately do something we consider to be evil. Perhaps, this is why Jesus said, “Be as simple as doves and wise as serpents.” Simple in that we should do good deeds with honorable motives; wise in that we realize, often painfully, that many in world do not aspire to high moral standards.

The Saints often assumed the best in others and the worst in themselves. Yes, they assume the best in others...until proven otherwise. When evil or immorality can no longer be denied and when trust has been broken, they more than anyone, took strong measures to deal with the evil at hand. They were wise as serpents in that they spared no sacrifice to eliminate and purge the evil in their midst (cf. I Corinthians 5:13). Three motives inspired such moral habits: 1. Love for the sinner. 2. Love for those who would be harmed by the sin 3. And out of love for God and his good will.

Christ calls each of his followers to spiritual and moral vigilance. To think with him is to think big. And to think big brings us to the realization that human beings can achieve the heights of sanctity, and, sadly, fall into the depths of great evil. With informed faith we see the world as it really is and act accordingly.

Friday, December 23, 2011



Posted: 22 Dec 2011 09:40 PM PST

If only Christians would anticipate hardship as a given, if only they were aware that God’s calling, by design, is not furnished with red carpets and smooth roads, I believe that the Gospel of Life would be accepted by more people. In recent years I have come across both priests and lay people who were inspired by a kind of boldness of faith at the outset of their ministry. Yet, when they encountered rejection and hardships they drew back and had second thoughts about their mission. Indeed, they even asked themselves: “Is this supposed to happen? Is it supposed to be this hard?”

Yes, the best of Catholics have been rattled to the core when it became clear to them that they might have to sit by themselves at lunch or be rebuffed by fellow Catholics or that they might lose some privileges. Sadly, the lives of the Saints and their multiple hardships escape them. Even the inspiration that came with hearing the words of Christ is a distant memory: “Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you (falsely) because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven. Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:10-12)

If anyone’s vocation deserved to be free from the hardships it was St. Joseph’s. After all, he was given the exalted task of protecting God and the Blessed Virgin. Yet from the word “go!” he encountered one hardship after another that could have been easily been prevented by God. In fact, he was given four hardships that gave him great anguish of spirit. If we but seriously meditate on his life we will never approach the work God has for us with the expectation that it should be without hardships. Rejection by our own people, scorn from others, the disappointment of failures, waiting for long periods of time, detours and even the appearance that the Lord himself has abandoned us will not throw us for such a loop. These obstacles will cease to be an excuse not to act and do the right thing! Following the example of St. Joseph, we too can press on and fulfill the mission the Lord has called us to.

Estrangement from His Spouse:

As I mentioned, there are at least four hardships St. Joseph had to endure. As for the first one, here is a short excerpt from a previous Sky View post entitled, St. Joseph and the Sword of Conflict:

“Have you ever wondered why, after appearing to the Blessed Virgin to announce the coming of Christ, the angel Gabriel did not immediately appear to St. Joseph in order to inform him that the Messiah would be conceived of the Holy Spirit; that God would make it possible for Mary to be both virgin and mother?

Instead, there was an interim period of misunderstanding and anguish on the part of St. Joseph. God could have prevented this misunderstanding but he chose not to. And the reason he chose not to was due to some moral and spiritual benefit St. Joseph would gain. Certainly, a lot of tears could have been spared; but often tears can be every bit as redemptive as the blood of martyrs which, as the early Christian adage goes, is the “seed of the Church.”

In his temporary emotional estrangement, St. Joseph, when having the wrong impression about his betrothed, had to rely on God. Indeed, during this short period of time not even the Mother of God could help him because, after all, she was the object of his suspicion and doubt. Alone he stood, confounded over God’s plan and anguished in spirit.”

However, the angel appeared to St. Joseph in a dream in order to vindicate the virginal integrity of Mary’s pregnancy. At last, his anguish was relieved. With a sigh of relief St. Joseph concluded that in good conscience he could remain the Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary. And to be sure, his joy of doing so was revived. But in a matter of a few short months two things were to happen simultaneously that would make his calling as a protector and bread-winner of the Holy Family that much more difficult. Indeed, his hardships were only beginning. After he weathered the first hardship, the second one was soon to follow.

The Edict: Leaving Home

The census edict was issued by Caesar Augustus enjoining the head of each household to register in their hometown just when Mary was due to give birth. From a human point of view, the timing could not be worse. And as for St. Joseph, he probably hadn’t been to his hometown in Bethlehem, where he was to comply with this edict, in quite some time. After all, the traveling distance between Nazareth and Bethlehem was at least a two to three day walk, maybe even more. And because of the edict, traveling from one town to another would be like traveling on a busy holiday. Scores of people would be frequenting the roads and the inns. By the time the Holy Family would get to Bethlehem, St. Joseph’s innate instinct as a husband and father to provide for his Family would be greatly challenged.

St. Joseph's second hardship then was leaving the security of his work and the comforts of his home when his Spouse needed the best kind of care for the birth of her first born child. Such was God's will. But as Jesus would say some thirty years later, "No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God." This man of God would be forced to totally rely on Divine Providence. Once the Holy Family arrived in Bethlehem, another hardship awaited him.

Failure to Provide:

Certainly a man as good as St. Joseph would deserve the hospitality of Bethlehem, his hometown, and any accommodations it could afford to provide. Certainly a nice warm room or a spacious house would be made available to him. And certainly if he was called to make these sacrifices for the Son of God he would get a little cooperation from Divine Providence. God's ways are not our ways. The third hardship that was imposed on St. Joseph was certainly not to his liking. After all, there is no worse feeling for a man than to not be able to provide room and board for his family. A quick glance at this story and images of that cold Christmas night may give the average person warm feelings. But when one really sits down and meditates on the real historic details of that story, one cannot help but consider the angst and worry St. Joseph must have felt after having encountered one closed door after another. It is even conceivable that he was tempted to despair. What a failure he must have felt!

Regarding God’s chosen servants, Fr. Paul Marie de la Croix said that “sometimes they encounter a failure which he permits even though he has first assured victory; sometimes, for no apparent reason, they experience a reversal of God’s relationship to them. They seem to be permanently abandoned or even rejected, though divine favor and friendship had been theirs before. They have not been guilty of the slightest infidelity, but they must become fit for the final mystery of faith.” Indeed, in the eyes of the world being forced to seek shelter in a cave right outside of Bethlehem is not a blessing but a curse. However, it was the will of Jesus Christ himself, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, to be born in humble circumstances. It was fitting that the King of Kings be born in a grotto so that even the despised and yet humble shepherds would approach him and do him homage. Hence, little did St. Joseph know that what appeared to be a failure on his part was a great blessing for the world. The simplicity of the crèche and the manager was not only an invitation for the lowly but it would inspire virtues of detachment and a love of poverty among many Christians.

Off to a Foreign Land:

St. Joseph’s resignation to the designs of providence would pay off. Soon after Christmas night, the Magi brought with them gifts for the newborn Messiah. Among these gifts was gold. This would come in handy for yet another hardship St. Joseph would have to endure. Due to the three kings (the Magi) seeking the new born Messiah in Jerusalem, the jealousy of King Herod was provoked. He launched a military campaign to kill every last child under the age of two in the town of Bethlehem. However, God was one step ahead of this ruler. This is when St. Joseph’s fourth hardship kicked in. “The angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, ‘Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you. Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him.’"

“Wait a minute! Where are we going to stay? Just how long do we have to be in Egypt How am I going to provide for Mary and Jesus?” These were just a few of the unanswered questions St. Joseph could have asked. There was no indication as to how long they would have to stay. A short meditation of this episode will bring to our attention how difficult that must have been! Taking refuge in a foreign land amidst a foreign people for safety is one thing; but to do so without knowing for how long is a real test of faith. After six months in Egypt there was no dream telling him to go home; after several months- no dream; and after a year- again, no dream! Ancient tradition has it that the Holy Family lived in Egypt anywhere from two and half years to seven years. The Fathers of the Church differ on this point.

Nevertheless, in order for St. Joseph to fulfill his mission he had to have strength of character, the endurance of faith and a spirit of detachment. For a short period of time, he thought he would have to say good-bye to Mary, his Spouse. And Scripture indicates he was willing to do just that. He also was called to say good-bye to his work and home because of Caesar’s edict. And finally he was forced to say good-bye to his fatherland, namely, his country.

Yet, for all of his sacrifices the Lord blessed him with many years in Nazareth with Mary and Jesus as his companions. What a paradise that Nazareth home must have been! The family conversations, the love and the peace of that household had to be a microcosm of heaven. And just as important, he was blessed with Mary and Jesus at his side on his deathbed. Indeed, the Lord compensated for every hardship St. Joseph was willing to endure for his sake.

For us Christians who are called to protect and advance the causes of God how can we not expect hardships? But if we endure them faithfully and press forward as St. Joseph did, how can we not expect his blessings?

Monday, December 19, 2011


For eight months, 2 years old Joshua battled a last stage cancer that brought him through a transplantation, 80 chemotherapy cures, and 17 radiotherapy sessions. When nothing worked, his parents took their son to Medjugorje. Back home, tests showed 19 tumors and all bone metastases to be gone as the beginning of Joshua’s now complete recovery.
elizabeth joshua de nicolo healed medjugorje
Joshua de Nicolo with his mother, Elizabeth
Before he turned three years old, Joshua de Nicolo had experienced more hardships, drama, and obvious grace than many people do in an entire life.
The boy from Putignano in southern Italy was born with an un-discovered neuroblastoma, the most common form of infancy cancer, in February 2007. It took 22 months for Joshua’s true condition to be found in January 2009 when the illness had progressed to its last stage, 4D, where long-term survival rates are poor despite aggressive multimodal therapy.
Doctors gave Joshua only days or weeks to live when his parents took him to Medjugorje in June 2009. Just before departure, the boy’s white blood cell numbers dramatically improved, and Joshua immediately felt well in Medjugorje, his parents testify. Joshua felt even better after Mirjana Dragicevic-Soldo’s apparition on July 2nd 2009 when he was placed beside the visionary. After that, he seemed relieved from pain.

THE ENDING -One year after their first visit, the family returned to Medjugorje to give thanks. For Joshua, that meant one more unusual experience:

“After twelve months, we returned with a cured child” Elizabeth de Nicolo tells.
“There I saw Joshua lift up his eyes and smile. I knew something special was taking place. When I asked him why he smiled and looked at the sky and said “Have a peaceful and joyful Christmas”, he told me he was seeing the Madonna and beside her was Padre Pio who was smiling at him.”

Friday, December 16, 2011

In God's Company 2: A Family On Our Route

In God's Company 2: A Family On Our Route: Fr. Kevin Scallon & Sr. Briege Mc Kenna A family on our route Recently, we rejoiced over Sr. Briege McKenna's presence at our home. S...

Sunday, December 11, 2011

In God's Company 2: The Virgin Mary Appears In Prison.

In God's Company 2: The Virgin Mary Appears In Prison.: The Virgin Appears In Prison The Medjugorje Sentinel, by Padraig Caughey In 1982, when I was 26 years old, I was captured by the Britis...

I said in despair, "Padre Pio, go to God, and ask Him to prove to me that He really exists in the space of one 'Hail Mary.' If He does not, I will know for certain that He does not exist, and I can go ahead and kill myself."

Our Lady Appeared! As soon as I had said, "Hail Mary," my

Saturday, December 10, 2011

In God's Company 2: The Disappearing Priest

In God's Company 2: The Disappearing Priest: Saint Elijah's Church The Disappearing Priest By Tony Zuniga Fr. Jozo is considered by many to be a living saint. He went to prison t...

At the moment of Consecration, when the bread and wine are changed into the Body and Blood of Christ during the Mass, Fr. Jozo repeated Jesus’s words, “This is My Body!” As he slowly raised the Sacred Host, I heard two loud thumps to my right. Startled, I turned my head in that direction. Two women who were standing nearby had just dropped hard on their knees, as if hit by a two by four. I found out later that one of them did not believe in Jesus, and the other one did not believe in Mary. Apparently their conversion took place in an instant. tant.