Jeremiah, Chapter 32, Verse 39-40
39 I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear me always, for their own good and the good of their children after them. 40 With them I will make an everlasting covenant, never to cease doing good to them; I will put fear of me in their hearts so that they never turn away from me.
We should have a holy fear of our Priest and Bishops. We should follow their guidance as we would a beloved father or brother. To give us one heart and one way the Bishop of Phoenix asks us men to enter into the breach.
Sometimes we are tempted to follow any leader who is popular. We forget God’s warning about following the proud and evil hearted, For lo, the day is coming, blazing like an oven, when all the proud and all evildoers will be stubble, and the day that is coming will set them on fire, leaving them neither root nor branch, says the LORD of hosts.(Mal 3: 19)
We may think that following the leadership of our bishops is a waste of time. You have said, “It is useless to serve God; what do we gain by observing God’s requirements, and by going about as mourners-before the LORD of hosts? But we call the arrogant blessed; for evildoers not only prosper but even test God and escape.” (Mal 3:14-15)
God is not a God of the past and continues to this day in the action of raising a man up and He does so in our Priests and Bishops. Just like an architect that uses rocks and sticks to become temples or bridges God uses men to build his Kingdom. Strive therefore to be God’s man or women.
The Practices of a Committed Catholic Man
Given these reflections on Catholic manhood, we move to the practical, that is, how to live like a Catholic man. What practices can help us to take up our cross and follow our King?
If we think of soldiers who do not remain in strong physical and mental shape and who fail to practice the essential combat arts, we know they will not be ready for battle and will be a danger to themselves and their comrades in arms. The same is true for Catholic men; those who do not prepare and strengthen themselves for spiritual combat are incapable of filling the breach for Christ.
While there are many habits and devotions that a Catholic man can form, I charge you with keeping these seven basic practices on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. If these practices are not (yet) part of your life, start now!
Pray every day. Each Catholic man must start his day with prayer. It is said, “Until you realize that prayer is the most important thing in life, you will never have time for prayer.” Without prayer, a man is like a soldier who lacks food, water, and ammunition. Set aside some time to speak with God first thing each morning. Pray the three prayers essential to the Catholic faith: the Our Father, the Hail Mary, and the Glory Be. Pray also at every meal. Before food or drink touches your lips, make the Sign of the Cross, say the “Bless us, O Lord” prayer, and end with the Sign of the Cross. Do this no matter where you are, with whom or how much you are eating. Never be shy or ashamed about praying over meals. Never deny Christ the gratitude that is due to Him. Praying as a Catholic man before every meal is a simple but powerful way to keep strong and fill the breach.
Examine your conscience before going to sleep. Take a few moments to review the day, including both your blessings and sins. Give God thanks for blessings and ask forgiveness for sins. Say an Act of Contrition.
Go to Mass. Despite the fact that attending weekly Mass is a Precept of the Church, only about one in three Catholic men attend Sunday Mass. For large numbers of Catholic men, their neglect to attend Mass is a grave sin, a sin that puts them in mortal danger. The Mass is a refuge in the Spiritual Battle, where Catholic men meet their King, hear His commands, and become strengthened with the Bread of Life. Every Mass is a miracle where Jesus Christ is fully present, a miracle that is the high point not only of the week, but of our entire lives on Earth. In the Mass, a man gives thanks to God for his many blessings and hears Christ send him again into the world to build the Kingdom of God. Fathers who lead their children to Mass are helping in a very real way to ensure their eternal salvation.
Read the Bible. As St. Jerome so clearly tells us, “Ignorance of the Sacred Scriptures is ignorance of Christ.” When we read God’s word, Jesus is present. Married men, read with your wife and your children. If a man’s children see him read the Scriptures, they are more likely to remain in the Faith. My brothers in Christ, this I can assure you: men who read the Bible grow in grace, wisdom, and peace.
Keep the Sabbath. From the creation of Adam and Eve, God the Father established a weekly cycle ending with the Sabbath. He gave us the Sabbath to ensure that one day out of seven we will give thanks to God, rest, and be refreshed. In the Ten Commandments, God asserts anew the importance of keeping the Sabbath. With today’s constant barrage of buying and selling and the cacophony of noisy media, the Sabbath is God’s respite from the storm. As Catholic men, you must begin, or deepen, keeping the holiness of the Sabbath. If you are married, you must lead your wives and children to do the same. Dedicate the day to rest and true recreation, and avoid work that is not necessary. Spend time with family, attend Mass, and enjoy the gift of the day.
Go to Confession. At the very start of Christ’s public ministry, Jesus calls on all men to repent. Without repentance from sin, there can be no healing or forgiveness, and there will be no Heaven. Large numbers of Catholic men are in grave mortal danger, particularly given the epidemic levels of pornography consumption and the sin of masturbation. My brothers, get to Confession now! Our Lord Jesus Christ is a merciful King who will forgive those who humbly confess their sins. He will not forgive those who refuse. Open your soul to the gift of our Lord’s mercy!
Build fraternity with other Catholic men. Catholic friendship among men has a dramatic impact on their faith lives. Men who have bonds of brotherhood with other Catholic men pray more, go to Mass and Confession more frequently, read the Scriptures more often, and are more active in the Faith. Proverbs tells us: “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” (27:17). I call on each of our priests and deacons to draw men together in their parishes and to begin to rebuild a vibrant and transforming Catholic fraternity. I call on laymen to form small fellowship groups for mutual support and growth in the faith. There is no friendship like having a friend in Christ.
The Bible is a weapon and in the hands of the untrained, “You could shoot your eye out kid”. Therefore the Bible should be handled with care. We should approach scripture reading in light of the liturgy and church Dogmas. “Dogma is by definition nothing other than an interpretation of Scripture.”(Pope Benedict XVI) Dogmas are the Church’s infallible interpretation of Scripture. In the 1970’s the Catholic Church revised its lectionary—the order of scriptural readings for the Mass. The readings now unfold in a three-year cycle and include almost all the books of both testaments of the Bible. The great thing about lectionary is that it presents the scriptures and also teaches us a method of understanding the Scriptures: Showing us a consistent pattern of promise and fulfillment. The New Testament is concealed in the Old, and the Old is revealed the New. Perhaps a good practice would be for us to read the daily scripture in the lectionary; maybe even before Mass.
"Lectio Divina", a Latin term, means "divine reading" and describes a way of reading the Scriptures whereby we gradually let go of our own agenda and open ourselves to what God wants to say to us. In the 12th century, a Carthusian monk called Guigo, described the stages which he saw as essential to the practice of Lectio Divina. There are various ways of practicing Lectio Divina either individually or in groups but Guigo's description remains fundamental.
1. He said that the first stage is lectio (reading) where we read the Word of God, slowly and reflectively so that it sinks into us. Any passage of Scripture can be used for this way of prayer but the passage should not be too long.
2. The second stage is meditatio (reflection) where we think about the text we have chosen and ruminate upon it so that we take from it what God wants to give us.
3. The third stage is oratio (response) where we leave our thinking aside and simply let our hearts speak to God. This response is inspired by our reflection on the Word of God.
4. The final stage of Lectio Divina is contemplatio (rest) where we let go not only of our own ideas, plans and meditations but also of our holy words and thoughts. We simply rest in the Word of God. We listen at the deepest level of our being to God who speaks within us with a still small voice. As we listen, we are gradually transformed from within. Obviously this transformation will have a profound effect on the way we actually live and the way we live is the test of the authenticity of our prayer. We must take what we read in the Word of God into our daily lives.
These stages of Lectio Divina are not fixed rules of procedure but simply guidelines as to how the prayer normally develops. Its natural movement is towards greater simplicity, with less and less talking and more listening. Gradually the words of Scripture begin to dissolve and the Word is revealed before the eyes of our heart. How much time should be given to each stage depends very much on whether it is used individually or in a group.
The practice of Lectio Divina as a way of praying the Scriptures has been a fruitful source of growing in relationship with Christ for many centuries and in our own day is being rediscovered by many individuals and groups. The Word of God is alive and active and will transform each of us if we open ourselves to receive what God wants to give us.
Easter Wednesday Picnic Breakfast
This Easter picnic is a festive way to spend time with your family and watch the signs of new life in nature, associated with the Resurrection.
"Come and breakfast!" That is the invitation Christ gave to Peter and John when they landed their great catch of fish, so mysteriously bestowed. They were elated and humbled and weary. It must have been a comfort to find a fire waiting on shore, a fish on it, and bread ready. To commemorate this Gospel of Easter Wednesday, why not a picnic breakfast in our home, or, better, out of it?
A party at this hour can be more fun than the usual afternoon-evening spreads, so hard on tired babies and so short on mothers' nerves. By now you can smell and feel spring throughout the land, even under the crusty layer of leftover snow. The voice of the turtle may not be heard, but all the mittens are lost, and nobody cares. In those sections of our country where spring has really arrived and the violets are lying in wait to be discovered, this can be a picnic of sudden beautiful surprises for everyone. Children who might never have noticed will be amazed that mother isn't as old as they thought. She even knows how to turn a jump rope. If you live where winter hasn't yet given up the ghost, or if the little ones are really too little to do more than curdle the atmosphere, a picnic on the back porch (or basement, if you have that kind of basement) will be just as exciting to the children. Scrambled eggs with hot ham or bacon in buns wrapped in aluminum foil, individual boxes of dry cereal with companion boxes of raisins, thermoses of cocoa or orange juice — whatever it is in your house that makes a special breakfast should be on the menu. If we mothers are to be catchers of (little) men, we must look to our lures! City families might breakfast in a nearby park, even if it does shock the squirrels and pigeons. They just have to learn we humans can be carefree too. And our explanations to passers-by, openly curious at our cavorting, may be, for all we know, a chance for spiritual seed-sowing. For apartment-dwellers, patio-less and too far from a park, breakfast on the rooftop can be just as exhilarating as a penthouse cocktail party. More so, since Christ is the Host and the small talk is never boring.
Divine Mercy Novena
Sixth Day - Today Bring Me the Meek and Humble Souls and the Souls of Little Children.
Most Merciful Jesus, You Yourself have said, "Learn from Me for I am meek and humble of heart." Receive into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart all meek and humble souls and the souls of little children. These souls send all heaven into ecstasy, and they are the heavenly Father's favorites. They are a sweet-smelling bouquet before the throne of God; God Himself takes delight in their fragrance. These souls have a permanent abode in Your Most Compassionate Heart, O Jesus, and they unceasingly sing out a hymn of love and mercy.
Eternal Father turn Your merciful gaze upon meek and humble souls, and upon the souls of little children, who are enfolded in the abode of the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. These souls bear the closest resemblance to Your Son. Their fragrance rises from the earth and reaches Your very throne. Father of mercy and of all goodness, I beg You by the love You bear these souls and by the delight you take in them: bless the whole world, that all souls together may sing out the praises of Your mercy for endless ages. Amen.
Novena for the Poor Souls
O Mother most merciful, pray for the souls in Purgatory!
PRAYER OF ST. GERTRUDE THE GREAT O Eternal Father, I offer Thee the Most Precious Blood of Thy Divine Son, Jesus, in union with the Masses said throughout the world today, for all the holy souls in Purgatory and for sinners everywhere— for sinners in the Universal Church, for those in my own home and for those within my family. Amen.
PRAYER FOR THE DYING O Most Merciful Jesus, lover of souls, I pray Thee, by the agony of Thy most Sacred Heart, and by the sorrows of Thine Immaculate Mother, to wash in Thy Most Precious Blood the sinners of the whole world who are now in their agony and who will die today. Heart of Jesus, once in agony, have mercy on the dying! Amen.
ON EVERY DAY OF THE NOVENA V. O Lord, hear my prayer, R. And let my cry come unto Thee. O God, the Creator and Redeemer of all the faithful, grant unto the souls of Thy servants and handmaids the remission of all their sins, that through our devout supplications they may obtain the pardon they have always desired, Who livest and reignest world without end. Amen.
WEDNESDAY O Lord God Almighty, I beseech Thee by the Precious Blood of Thy divine Son Jesus that was shed in the streets of Jerusalem, whilst He carried on His sacred shoulders the heavy burden of the Cross, deliver the souls in Purgatory, and especially that one which is richest in merits in Thy sight, so that, having soon attained the high place in glory to which it is destined, it may praise Thee triumphantly and bless Thee forever. Amen. Our Father. Hail Mary. Glory Be.
International Day of Reflection on the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda History
International Day of Reflection on the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda seeks to remember the lives that were lost in the genocide. In 1994, the deaths of the Presidents of Burundi and Rwanda sparked a several month-long retaliatory attack. More than 800,000 lives were lost over this period. Most of the victims were the Tutsi, an ethnic group who made up close to 14% of the country. This day remembers the victims and pledges to prevent future genocides. International Day of Reflection on the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda was established in 2003 by the UN General Assembly. It is observed annually on April 7th
April 20 has become a counterculture holiday in North America, where people gather to celebrate and consume cannabis. Some events have a political nature to them, advocating for the legalization of cannabis. North American observances have been held at Hippie Hill in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park near the Haight-Ashbury district, the University of Colorado's Boulder campus, Ottawa, Ontario, at Parliament Hill and Major's Hill Park, Montreal, Quebec at Mount Royal monument, Edmonton, Alberta at the Alberta Legislature Building, as well as Vancouver, British Columbia at the Vancouver Art Gallery. The growing size of the unofficial event at UC Santa Cruz caused the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs to send an e-mail to parents in 2009 stating: "The growth in scale of this activity has become a concern for both the university and surrounding community."
Up in Smoke
Q: I have a question regarding the use of marijuana and whether it is considered a sin to smoke it recreationally now that it is legal in Washington state. I have a Catholic friend who smokes it and doesn’t seem to think that there is anything wrong with doing so. What does the church teach about using marijuana recreationally — is it a sin?
A: During the period of continuing formation following my ordination, I was introduced to Stephen Covey’s well-known book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. The second habit has always stuck with me: “Begin with the end in mind.” It means that before we start something, we need to think it out and make sure our present actions will help us toward our future goals.
Covey’s second habit can be applied to the spiritual life. The goal of our spiritual lives is ultimately to love God and others to the fullest possible extent, and ultimately to make it to heaven. What we do in the present should assist us in these spiritual goals.
So, to your question, with the understanding that marijuana is a legally prescribed therapeutic drug for certain mental and physical conditions: Does recreational marijuana use help or hinder us in reaching this goal of our Christian life?
The Catechism of the Catholic Church, quoting Vatican II, says the following: “God willed that man should be ‘left in the hand of his own counsel,’ so that he might of his own accord seek his Creator and freely attain his full and blessed perfection by cleaving to him.” (1730) God doesn’t force us to seek and love him; it is something that he has left us free to do.
Marijuana affects the limbic system of the brain, which deals with emotion, behavior, motivation, long-term memory, and sense of smell and time. Using this substance, as many studies show, causes both physical and psychological effects in the user, including heightened heart rates, short-term memory loss, delayed reaction, depression and even anxiety. When a person smokes marijuana, they are placing chemicals in their nervous system that alter their consciousness and have the potential to produce future emotional and physical damage.
Marijuana certainly is not beneficial to the spiritual life, and if it becomes a serious impediment to growth in the spiritual life and drawing closer to God and our ultimate goal, heaven, the church would consider its recreational use a sin. It’s important to remember that there is a big difference between recreational and therapeutic drug use and this understanding does not apply only to marijuana.
YouCat, the youth catechism of the Catholic Church, says: “Every time a person loses or forgets himself by becoming intoxicated, which can also include excessive eating and drinking, indulgence in sexual activity, or speeding with an automobile, he loses some of his human dignity and freedom and therefore sins against God. This should be distinguished from the reasonable, conscious, and moderate use of enjoyable things.” (389)
When we forget ourselves in this way through “intoxication” of any kind, we run the risk of forgetting what the purpose and goal of our lives are, and certainly are not considering this ultimate goal in the present.
St. Paul says, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?” (1 Corinthians 6:19) We were created to be good and responsible stewards of God’s creation, including our bodies, which are sacred. Recreational marijuana use can be an impediment to the fullness of life that God wants to share with us and so can become a hindrance to being a good steward of what God has created. Do you want to be a Dude or a Dud?
Catechism of the Catholic Church
PART ONE: THE PROFESSION OF FAITH
SECTION ONE "I BELIEVE" - "WE BELIEVE"
CHAPTER THREE MAN'S RESPONSE TO GOD
Article 2 WE BELIEVE
III. Only One Faith
172 Through the centuries, in so many languages, cultures, peoples and nations, the Church has constantly confessed this one faith, received from the one Lord, transmitted by one Baptism, and grounded in the conviction that all people have only one God and Father. St. Irenaeus of Lyons, a witness of this faith, declared:
173 "Indeed, the Church, though scattered throughout the whole world, even to the ends of the earth, having received the faith from the apostles and their disciples. . . guards [this preaching and faith] with care, as dwelling in but a single house, and similarly believes as if having but one soul and a single heart, and preaches, teaches and hands on this faith with a unanimous voice, as if possessing only one mouth."
174 "For though languages differ throughout the world, the content of the Tradition is one and the same. the Churches established in Germany have no other faith or Tradition, nor do those of the Iberians, nor those of the Celts, nor those of the East, of Egypt, of Libya, nor those established at the centre of the world. . ." The Church's message "is true and solid, in which one and the same way of salvation appears throughout the whole world."
175 "We guard with care the faith that we have received from the Church, for without ceasing, under the action of God's Spirit, this deposit of great price, as if in an excellent vessel, is constantly being renewed and causes the very vessel that contains it to be renewed."
Every Wednesday is Dedicated to St. Joseph
The Italian culture has always had a close association with St. Joseph perhaps you could make Wednesdays centered around Jesus’s Papa. Plan an Italian dinner of pizza or spaghetti after attending Mass as most parishes have a Wednesday evening Mass. You could even do carry out to help restaurants. If you are adventurous, you could do the Universal Man Plan: St. Joseph style. Make the evening a family night perhaps it could be a game night. Whatever you do make the day special.
Porters of St. Joseph by joining them in fasting: Today's Fast: Reparations for offenses and blasphemies against God and the Blessed Virgin MaryUnite in the work of the
· Litany of the Most Precious Blood of Jesus
 Hahn, Scott, Signs of Life; 40 Catholic Customs and their biblical roots. Chap. 16. Bible Study.
Schouppe S.J., Rev. Fr. F. X.. Purgatory Explained