Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Sky View: The Path for the Clean and the Unclean

Sky View: The Path for the Clean and the Unclean


TUESDAY, MAY 28, 2013

The first reading for the Mass on Monday, May 27, 2013 contains insights and answers to our shrinking churches and to the gradual decline of organized religion. A passage, from the book of Sirach, traces out the way back to God. Because it is the key to saving souls, it is likewise the answer for our hemorrhaging parishes. But what the bible mandates as the way back to God, many of today’s Catholic communities have made optional. And here I speak of repentance: the giving up and turning away from sin, especially mortal sin.

“To the penitent God provides a way back, he encourages those who are losing hope and has chosen for them the lot of truth. Return to him and give up sin, pray to the LORD and make your offenses few. Turn again to the Most High and away from your sin, hate intensely what he loathes, and know the justice and judgments of God, stand firm in the way set before you, in prayer to the Most High God...How great the mercy of the LORD, his forgiveness of those who return to him!” (Sirach 17:20-23, 24)

Not only Scripture, but nature gives us clues about the value of repentance. And quite often, our Lord draws upon the lessons agriculture affords us. For instance, every gardener and farmer knows that in order to reap a good harvest, weeds need to be uprooted. If weeds are allowed to remain when seeds are planted, the integrity of the crop is then compromised.

Moving from the natural to the spiritual, for the last fifty years we have been trying to make converts and form souls without insisting- like the Church has done for centuries –on repentance from sin. Keep in mind, conversion is a two-fold movement toward Christ and away from sin. Grace cannot take hold and do its work in the soul without a hatred and renunciation of sin. But many parishes have only focused on the need to embrace Christ without the corresponding duty to give up sexual sins such as cohabitation, contraception and adultery; just to name a few. As such, the seed of grace falls on rocky ground and souls easily fall away from grace.

Just as agricultural methods provide insights into the effective pastoral practices, Old Testament symbols prefigure New Testament realities. Circumcision, for instance, was a ritual applied to the male infant of eight days as a rite of initiation into the Old Covenant. But Christ inaugurated the Sacrament of Baptism to replace circumcision.

Another ritual in the Old Testament that traced out in symbolic fashion what was to be done in the New Testament, after the coming of Christ, is to separate the “unclean” from the “clean.” Any physical abnormality, blemish, deformity, blood, discharge of any kind and even contact with a human corpse was declared ritually “unclean.” But upon this declaration, a member of the religious community had to abstain from worship and fellowship for a certain period of time. While quarantined, the unclean member was to perform purification rites until the priest declared him or her “clean” again. For instance, in the book of Numbers and Leviticus it reads:

“The LORD said to Moses: ‘Order the Israelites to expel from camp every leper, and everyone suffering from a discharge, and everyone who has become unclean by contact with a corpse. Male and female alike, you shall compel them to go out of the camp; they are not to defile the camp in which I dwell.’" (Numbers 5:1-3) And a mother who had just given birth “shall not touch anything sacred nor enter the sanctuary till the days of her purification are fulfilled.” (Leviticus 12:4)

Now, this practice of religious exclusion possessed only symbolic value. In other words, that which was considered “unclean” was not actual sin. A physical deformity was not the cause of sin but neither did it have any spiritual effect upon the soul. And as for the purifications rites, it left the soul untouched. All of the Old Testament rituals did was forecast what was to come. But once Christ died for our sins and merited, for us, forgiveness from God, the rites became obsolete. This is exactly why the Letter to the Hebrews states the following:

“Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer offering for sin…[S]ince we have ‘a great priest over the house of God,’ let us approach with a sincere heart and in absolute trust, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed in pure water.” (Hebrews 10:18-22)

So what’s with all of the fuss in the Old Testament? Why have the Jewish people undergo rituals that had no effect upon the soul? Keep in mind that before Christ, the people of God and even the world to an extent, were on probation. Without the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, even the most loyal believers were mere servants of the Most High. They were not considered members of the household. But one very important service these Old Testament rituals performed was that they were a rehearsal for the good things to come.

In early Christianity and in the centuries to follow, the Catholic Church made repentance a prerequisite for receiving the Sacraments. The book of Sirach said, “Turn again to the Most High and away from your sin, hate intensely what he loathes…” The Church sustained this practice and perfected under the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Giving up sin and turning away from it was but first step in turning again towards the Lord. It is the condition upon which absolution by the priest is given. As Fulton Sheen would say, without a death to a lower level, we cannot arrive at a higher level of supernatural life. This was expected of every Catholic who wanted to following in the footsteps of Christ.

To be forgiven by God, contrition is necessary. But contrition is not just a movement of the heart, that is, a feeling of sorrow for one’s sins. No. Contrition must be followed with repentance in order for conversion to be genuine before the Lord. By mandating repentance, a clear distinction is made between holiness and sin. However, if repentance becomes optional- as it has in many parishes today –even the most serious of sins is perceived as being compatible with holiness. In other words, that which pleases God and that which offends God have existed side by side in the Church without the two being clearly separated. As such, what it means to be a good Catholic has never been less clear.

For centuries, the Church managed to separate- for all to see –the life of Christ from the life of sin. And when serious sin was committed by a Catholic, sin was left outside of the Church through repentance; sometimes public repentance. To forfeit serious sin was expected if one wanted to be a Catholic in good standing. And when obstinate sinners refused to repent, he or she was declared “unclean” and was “expelled from the camp.” This was so that the contagion sin would not be communicated to the Mystical Body of Christ, the Church. St. Augustine, in his Rule, puts it simply: “Should he refuse to perform his penance, and has not departed of his own accord, he must be cast out of your society. Nor is such treatment cruel, but merciful, for many must not be suffered to perish by the pestilent example of one.”

One may charge that expelling anyone from the Church- even if he refuses to repent- is unchristian and unloving. Quite the contrary! Our Lord, in no uncertain terms, laid down this pastoral mandate long before St. Augustine promulgated it in his Rule. Referring to obstinate sinners, he said, “If he refuses to listen even to the church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector.” (Mathew 18:17) That is, treat him as an "unclean." or as an outsider. This, no doubt, is reminiscent of what God told Moses in the book of Leviticus and the book of Numbers. But in this context, we are dealing with real moral and spiritual realities; not just ritualistic symbolism. “Unclean” members of the Church who refuse to be made “clean,” are to be made outsiders. If the Christians in Corinth suspected otherwise, St. Paul removed any doubts when he said: “I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people…But I now write to you not to associate with anyone named a brother, if he is immoral.” Then he adds: “Purge the evil person from your midst.” (I Corinthians 5: 9, 11, 13)

God has traced out a path that leads to him. He did this in the Old Testament for the express purpose that this same path would be traveled with the aid of the Spirit during the Christian era. For the longest time, that path was well trodden by the Catholic pastors. After all, our Lord Jesus, the Pastor of pastors, told his Church to take this path when confronted with serious sins and obstinate sinners. But recently, this path has been abandoned. The result is that Catholics have a hard time telling the difference between what is “unclean” and “clean.” Her local parishes shines less brightly because of it.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

MEDJUGORJE HEALING TESTIMONIES FROM FR. PERE GLAS


MEDJUGOJRE HEALING TESTIMONIES FROM FR. PERE GLAS

Published on May 22, 2013
Fr. Peter Glas shares amazing healing testimonies from Medjugorje. 
Bob Evans also shares of his own conversion in Medjugorje. 
Fruit of Medjugorje is an on going series of webshows giving witness to the incredible graces of healing and conversion in Medjugorje. 
As Christ said in the Gospels, you will know a tree by its fruit, this webshow testifies to God's incredible blessings in Medjugorje by giving voice to the myriads of pilgrims whose changed lives ARE the fruit of Medjugorje
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Sunday, May 26, 2013

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Sky View: The Impact of Pentecost on Morality

Sky View: The Impact of Pentecost on Morality: when the Holy Spirit descended on Mary and the Apostles, the Real Thing was at last made available to the world. The Real Thing was none other than the Holy Spirit. He is the living, breathing Law of God.

This is the key to living the moral life. This is the key to restoring morality in our society. We will not find it in legislation or the communication of ideas alone, but rather it has everything to do with getting a new heart from God. T

ST. CLELIA'S HEAVENLY VOICE IS STILL HEARD TODAY


A voice from heaven -The miraculous voice of St Clelia Barbieri


Voices from the afterlife: The Voice of Saint Clelia Barbieri (1847-1870) –The youngest founder in the history of the Catholic Church whose voice is miraculously still heard today.

“I shall remain always with you and I shall never abandon you!” –St Clelia to her religious sisters at her deathbed

Saint Clelia Barbieri was born in Bolgna, Italy on February 13, 1847 and she died at age 23 on July 13, 1870. Her short life edified everyone who came into contact with her. She is the founder of the Congregation of the Suore Minime dell'Addolorata (Sisters Minims of Our Lady of Sorrows) and she is the youngest foundress of a religious community in the history of the Catholic Church.

Clelia was born into a poor family of hemp farmers. Her father Giuseppe died during a cholera epidemic that swept through Italy in 1855 when Clelia was only eight years old. Without him, Clelia's mother, her two sisters and her seventy-five-year-old grandfather were faced with a difficult future. But Clelia was a great consolation for her mother and assisted her by learning to use the loom and weave hemp. Even at this age Clelia was devout and learned all she could about the Catholic faith from her mother and the parish priest. After she had learned to read and write, Clelia's favorite book was her catechism, because it taught her about God and encouraged her in the way of virtue.

When she was fifteen, her parish priest, Father Gaetano Guidi, formed a group known as "The Christian Doctrine Workers," [or “Workers of the Christian Catechism”] which was a group of young teachers of which Clelia was a member. She taught children their catechism and ran a small primary country school in which the students were only a few years younger than herself. Eventually, both men and women attended her classes along with their children.

Clelia becomes the youngest founder in the history of the Church
Having given herself completely to Jesus, she refused at least two marriage proposals and in prayer she asked God for a spiritual friend who would join her and help her to live fraternally together a life in common. Theodora Beraldi who was six years older than Clelia became that special friend, and inspired by Clelia’s exceptional virtue and piety, she encouraged other girls to join them. During this time, Clelia took private vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience under the guidance of her parish priest and spiritual director, Father Guidi.

Clelia was only twenty years old when she inspired this small group of young ladies of similar religious ideals to join her in the performance of charity and good works. After acquiring a small house near a church in LeBudrie, Italy they began living a community life, but they retained their secular status throughout Clelia's lifetime. They devoted their energies to the teaching of Christian doctrine, to sewing, to aiding the sick, and to providing all forms of charitable assistance to those in need. One of Clelia’s ideals for her community was that there would be no need for a dowry, so that even the poorest of aspirants might join her Community.

Amidst the founding of her community in 1867 she became very ill with tuberculosis, and upon examination by a physician it was discovered that she was wearing a penitential chain with spikes on it that was wound three times around her body. Thus one of the penances that she practiced became known.
She became so ill that her family called a priest to give her the last Sacraments, and just as he was about to do so she recovered her senses and said to her family and those gathered “Why are you weeping? Don’t be afraid; the Lord will not take me away this time. He is still expecting more from me.”

The first religious house was opened on May 1, 1868. The girls lived in common and all wore a grey dress and they slept on a wooden beds with hay mattress. They spent the day alternating between prayer, spiritual reading and work, which consisted of sewing, spinning and weaving.

Some remarkable miracles in the life of Clelia
Soon after the foundation of the Community, many unusual things began to take place. When there was no food in the house, led by Clelia the community prayed, and moments later the doorbell rang, and a gift of food was given to them. Clelia took St. Francis of Paola to be the Communities heavenly patron, and by praying to him for his intercession there were several occasions were they obtained bread, flour, wine and other staples in a most extraordinary manner.

Clelia was blessed with other mystical favors, as was demonstrated when she was given a quantity of apples from the mother of Anna Forni, a member of the community. Clelia placed them on a table and divided them into three parts, saying, "I will keep these you picked in your orchard, and those you found on the ground, but I cannot accept this third group because you did not come by them honestly." In fact, the woman had gathered some of the apples from the trees on someone else's property. In addition, “Mother” Clelia, as she was then known, cured many people by using the oil from the lamp that burned before the portrait of St. Francis of Paola.

One day, while standing at the window of the community's house, she pointed to a nearby field and prophesied, "Do you see that field next to the church? There the new house will rise. I will no longer be here ... You will increase in number and will spread out on the plains and in the mountains to work in God's vineyard. Many will come with carriages and horses...”

“I shall remain always with you and I shall never abandon you!”
All of what Clelia had prophesized to her companions was eventually realized. Clelia died of tuberculosis on July 13, 1870 when she was only 23 years old. Her last words were prophetic: "Be brave because I am going to Paradise; but I shall always remain with you, too; I shall never abandon you!" This prophecy was also realized, since she soon proved her presence by the sounding of her voice. The miraculous phenomenon of her voice first took place during the evening of July 13, 1871, exactly one year after Clelia's death, while the sisters were at prayer in the chapel. The Sisters declared that:
“Suddenly there was the sound of a high-pitched, harmonious and heavenly voice that accompanied the singing in the choir; at times it sang solo, at other times it harmonized with us in the choir, moving across from right to left; sometimes it passed close by the ears of one or other of the sisters. The joy which it brought filled our hearts with a happiness impossible to put into words. This wasn't of this world. We lived that day in paradise. From time to time, one had to leave the room ... The emotion that we experienced was so strong that it left you breathless until one had to call out: "Enough, dear Lord, enough!"

This miraculous event dismissed all thoughts of sleep. Instead, since the Blessed Sacrament was not then reserved in their chapel, they decided to pass the night adoring the Blessed Sacrament in a nearby church. They again declared, "But how great was our surprise when we realized that the voice had followed us and accompanied us as we began our prayers!" Clelia's voice prayed with them until dawn. It was precisely the one year anniversary of her death. Since that day she has never left them, joining them in the most diverse surroundings and conditions.

There were only ten girls who lived in the community at the time of Clelia's death. After the Rule of the Order was approved by the Vatican, more members joined the community, many being inspired by the voice of the holy foundress. After the Second World War there were 236 members. During the 1950's the sisters numbered almost three hundred. In recent years the flourishing order maintained over thirty-five institutions throughout Italy. Feeling called by those abroad, the Sisters then began missions abroad, and houses of the order were opened in Keralia, India and in Tanzania, Africa with a number of the local young women in these area joining in practicing the virtues and ideals of the holy foundress.

Clelia’s heavenly voice is still heard today
In the communities of Usokami and Wadakanchery, the Sisters hear Clelia's voice which sings and prays with them in Swahili and Malayalam. When they pray in Latin, Clelia prays in Latin as well.

During the past one hundred and twenty-five years since her death, Clelia's heavenly voice has been periodically heard in the houses of the order. Especially at LeBudrie, the voice is heard accompanying the sisters in their hymns, in religious readings, and in their conversations. It is also heard accompanying the priest during the celebration of Holy Mass, and during the sermons. Even in the parish churches it is heard lingering among the faithful.

In 1970, the Mother Superior of the order in LeBudrie stated the following to Joan Carroll Cruz, the author of the book “Mysteries, Marvels and Miracles in the Lives of the Saints”, 1997, Tan Books: "... this prodigious gift stimulates us to do well, increases our faith, is a relief to the trials of life, and gives us a great desire for heaven."

In a more recent letter received before publication of the aforementioned book, the Mother Provincial of the order, Sr. Silvana Magnani, confirms that the prodigy is still taking place. She writes that "The voice accompanies us in our prayers which are in Italian, and with prayers that are in diverse languages: in Tanzania where we have a mission, the voice speaks in the language of Swahili; in India, the language is Malayalam."

The voice of St Clelia Barbieri been described as one unlike any of this earth. Always sweet and gentle, it is sometimes accompanied by angelic strains. Numerous witnesses of unquestionable integrity, including her original companions, various superiors and sisters of the order, priests and lay workers in the order's hospitals have adequately testified that they have heard the voice. Moreover, many witnesses have given sworn testimony before ecclesiastical tribunals who investigated the prodigy prior to Clelia's solemn beatification on October 27, 1968, and before her canonization by Pope John Paul II on April 9, 1989.

The heavenly voice of St Clelia confirms the promise made by her to her companions before her death, "Be brave, because I am going to Paradise; but I shall always remain with you, too; I shall never abandon you!"

In the book “A Song of Love-Saint Clelia Barbieri” by Paolo Risso [“Un canto d’amore- Santa Clelia Barbieri”, Torino, 1989] St. Clelia's biographer states:
“And St. Clelia continues to let us hear her voice like that first anniversary of her death. Her nuns, together with many others, continue to hear her voice which prays, sings and intercedes. It is a voice full of happiness when announcing good news for her "family," the Church and the world. It is full of sadness when suffering is nearby. It is always calm and encouraging, a true sign that God never leaves us.”

Her relics are housed in a beautifully crafted urn at the Communities religious house in Le Budrie (Bologna), Italy. Many come to visit this sanctuary devoted to her, and to pray before her relics, and it is from here that many blessings have gone forth throughout Italy and the world.
________________________________

"Oh great Lord God, You see that my will is to love You, and to try to avoid offending You. Oh Lord, open Your Heart and send forth the flames of love. Enkindle my heart with these flames and burn me with love" -St Clelia Barbieri

Primary sources:
-"Mysteries, Marvels, Miracles in the Lives of the Saints", by Joan Carroll Cruz, Tan Books and Publishers, 1997
-"Faces of holiness: modern saints in photos and words, Volume 1" by Ann Ball, Our Sunday Visitor, 1998.

~St Clelia Barbieri, pray for us!

Monday, May 13, 2013

SKY VIEW - OUR LADY OF FATIMA - MAY 13 FEAST DAY


God's Answer to World Revolution: Our Lady of Fatima

Originally posted as three seperate blogs in 2010, this year's version of "God’s Answer to World Revolution: Our Lady of Fatima" is combined into one post with additional subtitles. 

"It was a lady dressed all in white more brilliant than the sun, shedding rays of light, clear and stronger than a crystal glass filled with the most sparkling water pierced by the burning rays of the sun." 

-Lucia, Oldest seer of Marian apparitions
"Heaven was so pretty…there were many wild ponies."

-Jacinta, Youngest seer of Marian apparitions

A World Turned Away from God:
In 1917, when our Lady paid three children a visit in Fatima, Portugal, she brought eternity with her. Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco were privileged to experience, in a profound way, heaven and hell. The children’s foretaste of heaven and the glimpse of hell has a great deal of historical significance, considering that Western Civilization had already begun to close in on itself. Indeed, modern man had ceased to see his life within the backdrop of eternity. In part, this was due to great technological achievements and its consequent prosperity. Of course, when conditions are comfortable it is harder to see life as a pilgrimage to heaven. 


The Encyclical of 1917:
Just one month after Our Lady appeared in Fatima on May 13th, 1917 Pope Benedict XV wrote an encyclical entitled, On the Preaching the Word. In this encyclical he made the following observation: If people honestly considered “the state of public and private morals, the constitutions and laws of nations, we shall find that there is a general disregard and forgetfulness of the supernatural, a gradual falling away from the strict standard of Christian virtue, and that men are slipping back more and more into the shameful practices of paganism.” Indeed, in 1917 there was a lot of soul searching among Christians and Westerners. After all, World War I was still raging and the Russian Revolution was just getting underway. 

What led up to this new chapter in world history? For one, Christian civilization had gradually been chipped away over four centuries. The Protestant Reformation in 1517, the French Revolution in 1789, and the revolt of many European States against the Catholic Church, i.e. the annexation of the Papal States (territory belonging to the Holy See) by Italian nationalism, were just a few historic turning points in which the Western world declared its independence from God. This movement away from the Christian religion then culminated in the twentieth-century with World War I, the Russian Revolution, World War II, the Holocaust, and the Sexual Revolution.

Pope to Catholics: Do Examination of Conscience
At the onset of these unfortunate events in the twentieth-century, we find Pope Benedict XV, in so many words, asking Catholics to do an examination of conscience. He proposed the following question to them in his encyclical: “Has the Word of God then ceased to be what it was described by the Apostle, living and effectual and more piercing than any two-edged sword? Has long-continued use blunted the edge of that sword?” He then answers his own question: “If that weapon does not everywhere produce its effect, the blame certainly must be laid on those ministers of the Gospel who do not handle it as they should. For no one can maintain that the Apostles were living in better times than ours, that they found minds more readily disposed towards the Gospel or that they met with less opposition to the law of God.”

Therefore, with regard to the ever increasing movement of mankind away from God and the world revolutions which followed, the blame- at least in part -must be attributed to the dereliction of Catholics. What were twentieth-century Catholics lacking as compared to their spiritual ancestors of the early Church? Why did they not, up to this point, enjoy the same success of converting the world to Christ like the early Fathers of the Church? This is where Our Lady of Fatima comes in. Her appearance to three Portuguese children in Fatima gives a profound and yet subtle answer to these questions.

Revolution of 1910: Years Leading Up to Apparitions
In 1910, Portugal had undergone its own revolution which resulted in the persecution of the Catholic Church. Churches, convents and monasteries were shut down; priests and the religious were arrested. The following year, the persecutions came to a peak with the law of Separation of Church and State. The author of these anti-religious laws, Alfonso Costa, said: "Thanks to this law of separation, in two generations Catholicism will be completely eliminated in Portugal." By 1917 the Portuguese people were well acquainted with a government unfriendly to religious freedom. It was within this local milieu, not unrelated to the international crisis -that Our Lady of Fatima appeared to the three Portuguese children.

Fatima Message: Atheism and Materialism:
In visiting Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco, the Mother of God impressed upon these three souls that the world was closing itself off to eternity! The message that the Blessed Virgin had come to deliver was one which linked the breakdown of faith and prayer with the two World Wars, the spread of Communism and the afflictions the popes would have to endure. Indeed, the widespread failure of people to aspire towards heaven as their permanent home, the most noble incentive to live a holy life, gave rise to wars, genocides and dictatorships of the twentieth century. In a word, without the daily meditation and the anticipation of eternity, the proper perspective of life is lost and the material things of this world become the reality people live for. Pope Pius XI would go on to say five years after the apparitions that "...worldly possessions can never satisfy all in equal manner nor give rise to a spirit of universal contentment, but must become perforce a source of division among men and of vexation of spirit." 

The Letter of Lucia:
It is important to keep in mind that the decline of prayer and neglecting "to seek what is above" would later be the plague of religious orders. Indeed, spiritual apathy would not only be a problem exclusively attributed to the world, but it also found its way in the Church. Lucia would later write a letter to her nephew, Fr. Valinhoin in 1971. In the letter she said, "I am convinced that the principal cause of evil in the world, and the falling away of so many consecrated souls, is the lack of union with God." "It is indeed sad," she continued, "that so many are allowing themselves to be dominated by the diabolical wave that is sweeping the world, and they are so blind that they cannot see their error. But their principal error is that they have abandoned prayer." 

Lack of prayer enfeebles the soul and weakens life's foundation. As such, when the cultural revolution of the 1960's rocked the Catholic Church, the vocation of many priests and consecrated men and women in religious orders simply collapsed.

More Important Than the Sun:
Our Lady of Fatima, in her series of six apparitions from May 13th through October 13th of 1917, spoke to this plight the world found itself in. To be sure, in profound and yet subtle ways, she used the three poor children of Fatima to teach a world-gone-wrong that life takes on the greatest value when seen in light of eternity.

When considering the series of events at Fatima, there can be a temptation to focus on October 13th, the day 75,000 plus people witnessed the sun spin and dance. There is a lot to be said for that supernatural phenomenon. However, what is even more worthy of our attention, and more relevant to Catholics in the twenty-first century, is what happened to the souls of Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco during that six month period.

The spiritual direction Our Lady of Fatima gave to Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco and the affect it had on their souls speaks to the heart of the Gospel. It also explains why the Church of the early centuries were able to set the world a blaze and why today's world had grown cold to God. Indeed, just when Pope Benedict XV was asking his questions about why the world had fallen away from the Catholic Faith, Our Lady was answering them.

If Catholics of this century can take in and grasp what the Mother of Jesus Christ communicated to three children in the last century, then the Church can have the life-giving influence she once enjoyed over civilizations.

Heaven Accompanies the Blessed Virgin:
Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco, the three young seers of the Marian apparitions at Fatima in 1917, were introduced to the very depths of Christianity and to the heart of the Gospel. The Mother of God, who spent countless hours on earth in conversation with her divine Son, and who continues to commune with her Son in eternity, formed these three young souls with the most favorable spiritual direction any Christian could receive. The love of God and the expectancy of heaven was so deeply impressed upon their souls that all three children lost their natural fear of death.

In coming in contact with the Blessed Virgin, the children encountered the very presence of God in a profound way. And during their experience of the Divine Presence, they were able to see themselves in a new light. Lucia, the oldest of the children, reported that in one appearance the Lady opened her hands and shed upon the children a highly intense light. “This light penetrated us to the heart and its very recesses, and allowed us to see ourselves in God, Who was that light, more clearly than we see ourselves in a mirror…” Just as Mary mediated the Holy Spirit to her pregnant cousin Elizabeth upon her greeting at Zacharias’ house, in Fatima, she similarly mediated the presence of God, as in a ray of light, through her hands. Lucia would go on to describe, as best she could, the utter beauty of this Visitor from heaven: “It was a lady dressed all in white more brilliant than the sun, shedding rays of light, clear and stronger than a crystal glass filled with the most sparkling water pierced by the burning rays of the sun.” 

It is important to note that with our Lady’s appearance, the three children experienced heaven. Jacinta, the youngest of the three, excitedly told her parents, “Heaven was so pretty…there were many wild ponies.” Lucia would later say that “before the Divine Presence we felt exaltation and joy.” It is under reported, to be sure, that after each visit with the Madonna they were supremely happy. This explains why Lucia asked Mary to take them to heaven; not later, but immediately. It also explains why, for them, a short life on earth was a blessing. Their detachment from earthly things was complete. Their thoughts were no longer preoccupied with what was below but instead they sought what was above. No sacrifice was too much, no suffering too unbearable, knowing that heaven awaited them. 

Sacrifice, Reparation and Death in a New Light:
In 1916, an Angel of Lord appeared to the three children to prepare them for what would ensue the following year. He asked them to “Offer up everything within your power as a sacrifice to the Lord in an act of reparation for the sins by which he is offended; and of the supplication for the conversion of sinners…Above all, accept and bear with submission the sufferings that the Lord may send you.” The Blessed Virgin repeated this request several months later when she asked, “Do you want to offer yourselves to God to endure all the sufferings that he may choose to send you, as an act of reparation for the sins by which he is offended and as a supplication for the conversion of sinners?” Lucia answered for the other two by saying, “Yes, we want to.” After which, Our Lady said, “Then you are going to suffer a great deal but the grace of God will be your comfort.” Soon after, in the month of July in 1917, Our Lady of Fatima showed them the fires of hell where countless souls descend. According to Lucia, demons and reprobate souls were engulfed in the torment of despair. They were deeply moved by this vision; it gave them a fresh determination to offer themselves as a living sacrifice to the Lord.

The three children would have to bear a heavy cross in the months that followed. Francisco and Jacinta, just two to three years after the apparitions, died at a young age. Poor little Jacinta even died alone in the hospital; this, she did for the conversion of sinners. Indeed, the heavenly-mindedness of all three children and their memory of hell inspired a great love for people and their willingness to suffer for them. They valued inconveniences, sufferings and contradictions as opportunities to make reparation for sinners. As St. Peter wrote, “whoever suffers in the flesh has broken with sin” and then adding, “love covers a multitude of sins.” (I Peter 4:1,8) Their early death, as sad it was for loved ones and unfortunate as it appeared to the world, speaks volumes about what God wants us to know about this life and the life to come. Indeed, the passing nature of this earthly life of ours and the enduring reality of heaven and hell is at the heart of the Fatima message.

Our Lady's message to Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco was God's answer to the question Pope Benedict XV asked in 1917 regarding the effectiveness of Catholic witness. To be sure, the eager anticipation of heaven, making reparation for sinners and seeking the Blessed Virgin's spiritual guidance is God's answer to the "diabolical wave" (as Sr.Lucia would write in 1971) of world revolution, atheism and war.  
SKY VIEW - OUR LADY OF FATIMA

Monday, May 6, 2013

Bishop Tobin – “Gay Marriage” Can Never Be Condoned


Bishop Tobin – “Gay Marriage” Can Never Be Condoned

Bishop Thomas J.Tobin: “Homosexual Relationships Are Not
Marriage – Never Have Been, Never Will Be.”

This was such a strong message we are posted it for you again.
Providence, RI, 2009 (CNA). – “Abysmal” Catholic apathy must be overcome to oppose those who are “fiercely determined” to impose homosexual “marriage,” Bishop of Providence, Rhode Island Thomas J. Tobin has warned. Reasserting Catholic teaching on sexual morality, he also said that same-sex “marriage” will endanger religious freedom.
Bishop Thomas J.Tobin, Bishop TobinBishop Thomas J.Tobin: Defender of Marriage
Writing in his April 23 column in The Rhode Island Catholic, Bishop Tobin spoke of a “relentless” political march towards homosexual marriage, with New England leading the way. “The supporters of gay marriage in Rhode Island are well-organized and well-funded. They’re fiercely determined to impose their politically correct agenda on all the citizens of the state – human history, culture and moral principles not-withstanding. Anyone who opposes them is quickly labeled a bigot,” the bishop observed.
However, he said the typical Rhode Island Catholic’s response was indifferent and cited not wanting to judge people. Tobin also said that Catholics give rationalizations about the decline of Catholic influence.
“Gay marriage will affect you and you should be concerned. And there’s a lot we can do,” the bishop wrote, proceeding to review reasons Catholics oppose same-sex “marriage.”
Bishop Tobin explained that “homosexual activity is unnatural and gravely immoral. It’s offensive to Almighty God. It can never be condoned, under any circumstances. Gay marriage, or civil unions, would mean that our state is in the business of ratifying, approving such immoral activity.
The movement for same-sex “marriage,” he added, “seeks to radically redefine the most fundamental institution of the human race, the building block of every society and culture. From the beginning, marriage has been defined as the stable union of man and woman, designed by God to continue the human race through the procreation of children.
“Homosexual relationships are not marriage – never have been, never will be.”
Bishop Tobin introduced what he called the “champagne principle.” Saying that not every wine has the unique characteristics of champagne, the bishop argued that someone who relabeled a bottle of Chianti and tried to sell it as champagne would be arrested for fraud.
Similarly, those who seek to redefine marriage and “to usurp the title ‘marriage’ for their morally bankrupt relationships,” are “committing an act of fraud,” he charged. “It’s insulting to those who have entered the authentic, sacred and time-honored institution of marriage over the years.”
“The gay culture continues to seep into our popular culture, cleverly claiming credibility,” he said. He charged that President Barack Obama’s special invitations to homosexual families to participate in the White House Easter Egg Hunt was “just another not-too-subtle attempt to ignore the objective immorality of the situation and present gay couples as normal and happy as every other couple.”
He closed with a warning about the implications the recognition of same-sex “marriage” would have for religious liberty.
“We’re familiar with other examples of the gay agenda infringing on religious freedom,” he said, noting how Massachusetts required the Catholic Church to place children for adoption with homosexual couples and how some countries have charged Christian preachers of hate crimes for voicing Christian doctrine about homosexual practices.
“Proponents of gay marriage say that the Church won’t be forced to witness such marriages. Don’t believe it,” he said, warning that the Church may be required to admit homosexual couples as sponsors for baptism, to rent its facilities for homosexual wedding receptions, or to hire employees despite their immoral lifestyles.
“For simply maintaining its teachings in these and many other possible scenarios, the Church will be accused of bigotry and unlawful discrimination. The threat to our religious freedom is real, and imminent,” he said.
Crediting Rhode Island’s governor, its Speaker of the House, and its President of the Senate for avoiding homosexual marriage, he said they have been “consistent and courageous” in deflecting the “onslaught” of homosexual activists.
Bishop Tobin said that if only five or ten percent of Rhode Island’s Catholic population became involved on this issue “we could have an enormous impact and help Rhode Island maintain its moral sanity.”
He encouraged Catholics to become aware of political action on the issue, to write letters to the editor, and to encourage their representatives to “defend marriage and family values.
“And you can pray fervently that God will help us in this critical struggle on behalf of morality and common sense,” he added.
If the imposition of homosexual marriage happens in Rhode Island, the bishop concluded, “It’ll be our fault… simply because our abysmal apathy allowed it to happen.”

Other Bishop Tobin Articles

Letter to Catholics on the Approval of “Same-Sex Marriage” in RI


Letter to Catholics on the Approval of “Same-Sex Marriage” in RI

coatarmsAs the Rhode Island General Assembly prepares to pass “same-sex marriage” legislation and the Governor scheduled to sign the bill this afternoon, Bishop Tobin offers the following pastoral letter to Catholics in Rhode Island.  The contents of this letter will be printed in the May 9, 2013 edition of Rhode Island Catholic Newspaper.
My dear Brothers and Sisters,
Since the legislative approval of “same-sex marriage” in Rhode Island, a number of people have requested that I offer some guidance on this development. It is for that purpose that I write at this time. In particular I wish to invite members of the Catholic Church in Rhode Island to a moment of prayer and reflection as we respond to this new challenge of the post-Christian era into which, clearly, we have now entered.
First, like many others, I am profoundly disappointed that Rhode Island has approved legislation that seeks to legitimize “same-sex marriage.” The Catholic Church has fought very hard to oppose this immoral and unnecessary proposition, and we are most grateful to all those who have courageously joined us in this effort. When all is said and done, however, we know that God will be the final judge of our actions.
As I have emphasized consistently in the past, the Catholic Church has respect, love and pastoral concern for our brothers and sisters who have same-sex attraction. I sincerely pray for God’s blessings upon them, that they will enjoy much health, happiness and peace. We also offer our prayerful support to families, especially parents, who often struggle with this issue when it occurs in their own homes.
Our respect and pastoral care, however, does not mean that we are free to endorse or ignore immoral or destructive behavior, whenever or however it occurs. Indeed, as St. Paul urges us, we are required to “speak the truth in love.” (Eph 4:15)
At this moment of cultural change, it is important to affirm the teaching of the Church, based on God’s word, that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered,” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #2357) and always sinful. And because “same-sex marriages” are clearly contrary to God’s plan for the human family, and therefore objectively sinful, Catholics should examine their consciences very carefully before deciding whether or not to endorse same-sex relationships or attend same-sex ceremonies, realizing that to do so might harm their relationship with God and cause significant scandal to others.
Despite this serious regression in the public morality of our state we need to recognize that there are other major issues that demand our attention. We must continue to engage our culture, remembering that Jesus called us to be “the salt of the earth and the light of the world.” (Mt 5:13-14) Be assured, therefore, that the Catholic Church in the Diocese of Providence will continue its mission of preaching the Gospel, advocating for what is right and just, and serving the needs of our community to the very best of our ability.
Without a doubt this is a time of challenge, even disappointment for many of us, but it is also an opportunity to be steadfast and courageous, and to renew our commitment to Christ and His Church. As our Lord Jesus Christ told us, “In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world.” (Jn 16:33)
Dear brothers and sisters, through the intercession of our Blessed Mother, the Virgin Mary, may God be with you as you continue your journey of faith, and may He bless you and your families with His finest gifts, now and always.
What do you think of the passage of “same-sex marriage” in Rhode Island?  Send a letter to the editor of Rhode Island Catholic newspaper at editor@thericatholic.com.