Thursday, December 03, 2020
Sunday, March 09, 2014
From the PastorThe first Sunday of Lent is an opportune time to examine how Lent can aid us in drawing closer to Christ and dying more to self. These two go hand in hand if we are to succeed in practising virtues that help us in our relationship with Christ and in overcoming vices that pull us away from Him. I suggest that in establishing Lenten goals you focus on the physical, the spiritual, and acts of charity.
Our fallen nature has a tendency to want to be babied; it cries and whines so that we will give it what it desires. If we deny it food, it seeks compensation with extra sleep; when we deny it rest, it looks for food. It is never satisfied, and when we give in to it, it cries out all the more. Lent provides us an opportunity to deny ourselves something, and not necessarily just food. We should examine what attachments we might have – such as pushing the snooze button, getting our own way, our afternoon sugar, particular foods, and so on – and practise true mortification by giving up that which we are particularly attached to.
Giving up something that is physical must be accompanied by something spiritual for we are made of body and soul. We can have a supernatural motive for giving up physical things, such as offering the sacrifice for one’s spouse or future spouse or for the Holy Father, but we should also take on a spiritual exercise for Lent. This exercise could consist of five minutes of meditation on eternal life or on the temporal nature of this life, praying the chaplet of Divine Mercy, or reading Scripture for a few minutes each day. Use the spiritual exercise to draw closer to Our Lord so that when Lent is over you will continue with it. It will also help you persevere with your physical mortification.
Finally, we should perform acts of charity, as this helps us reach out to others. Our Lord fasted and prayed in the desert for forty days before He began His public ministry, which consisted of spiritual and corporal works of mercy. Throughout these forty days, perform an act of charity daily – pray a Memorare for someone who offended you, pick up after someone else without being seen, or perhaps offer to do something for another person. There are so many opportunities to perform acts of charity within the context of the home, for charity begins at home. Take advantage of the season of Lent to reach out to help others.
St. John Chrysostom said: “Do you fast? Give me proof of it by your works. If you see a poor man, take pity on him. If you see a friend being honoured, do not envy him. Do not let only your mouth fast, but also the eye, and the ear, and the feet, and the hands, and all the members of our bodies. Let the hands fast, by being free of avarice. Let the feet fast, by ceasing to run after sin. Let the eyes fast, by disciplining them not to glare at that which is sinful ... Let the ear fast ... by not listening to evil talk and gossip ... Let the mouth fast from the foul words and unjust criticism. For what good is it if we abstain from birds and fishes, but bite and devour our brothers?”
Sunday, April 01, 2012
Monday, September 12, 2011
This story is so interesting that I shamelessly ripped it from the Aquinas & More Catholic Goods newsletter. Saint Helen is my patron saint, as well.
First, a quick quiz:
The true cross was carried through Jerusalem by ______.
B. Simon of Cyrene
C. The Holy Roman Emperor
D. All the Above
Every Christian and non-Christian alike knows that Our Lord carried the cross through Jerusalem, and if you've ever said the Stations of the Cross then you probably know that Simon of Cyrene was coerced into helping Him for part of the way. What you might not know is that the True Cross would one-day be carried through the streets again on the back of the Holy Roman Emperor.
There is a fascination with the True Cross that on some levels exceeds other mysterious artifacts like the Ark of the Covenant and the Holy Grail and the legend is better than anything Spielberg could concoct. Monsignor Ronald Knox says of the cross that it bears many symbolic similarities with things in the Old Testament. It reminds us of the Ark, the healing serpent of Moses, and the tree in Eden.
The first legend says that when Adam lay on his death bed, the Archangel Michael appeared to his son Seth and gave him a seed from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Seth placed this seed in the mouth of Adam when he was buried.
From Adam's mouth grew a tree which was chopped down centuries later. For an unknown reason, the wood couldn't be used for anything so it was thrown across a river to serve as a bridge. On her journey to see Solomon, the Queen of Sheba was approaching this bridge when she received a vision which prephesied that Our Saviour would one day hang upon this wood. The queen hurried to King Solomon to tell him the story, which he immediately understood as a warning message.
Solomon feared that the death of the Messiah would also mean the destruction of his kingdom so he ordered that the tree be removed from the river and hidden. But a thousand years later the wood was found and it was used to make the Cross.
After Our Lord's crucifixion, the Emperors saw Christianity as a threat and tried to eradicate the memory of the Passion from people's minds by building over the places of veneration. By the early second century Golgotha was no longer a desolate hill top used for executions. Instead there stood a statue of Jupiter and a temple to Venus where pagans offered their sacrifices.
It was in 313 after the Edict of Milan had been signed that Christianity became legal again in the Roman Empire. Emperor Constantine received a vision of a cross high in the sky and saw the words, “By this sign you shall conquer.” Enthusiastic about the promise, Constantine sent his mother, Helen, to Jerusalem to find the Cross which had not been seen for three hundred years.
In Jerusalem there was only one man who knew where the cross was hidden: a Jew by the name of Judas. After heavy persuasion the Jewish man revealed that the cross was buried under the temple of Venus. Dedicated to her mission, St. Helen ordered the demolition of the temple and the excavation of the ground underneath.
They found the tomb of Christ and only a short distance away, instruments of the Passion and all three crosses used on Calvary that day. Legend says that the True Cross was exposed by touching the crosses to a boy who had just died. When the True Cross touched the boy, he was brought back to life.
This miraculous event was witnessed by many and caused many Jews, including Judas, to seek baptism. (Judas quickly changed his name to Kyriakus.) He would eventually be appointed bishop of Jerusalem and suffer a martyr's death under the tyrannical reign of Julian the Apostate in 363.
Upon the excavation site, Constantine ordered that a Christian church be built to house the venerable relics. The Church of the Holy Sepulcher was built and would be consecrated on September 13, 335.
For three hundred years the cross sat in peace until the Persian Emperor Khosrau II defeated the Roman army and sacked the holy city of Jerusalem and turned thousands of Christians into slaves. Among the plundered items were the instruments of the Passion and the Holy Cross. The relics remained in exile for fourteen years when in 627 Emperor Heraclius conquered the Persian army and recaptured the Cross. (Some sources indicate that he received the Cross as part of the negotiations after the war.)
In any case, the Emperor returned to Jerusalem to reinstate the Cross with great fanfare. The legend says that Heraclius was initially going to carry the Cross by horseback, but as he entered the city, the weight became too great. It was only after he attempted to bear the weight himself that it was light enough to carry.
Then, when he reached the gates Golgotha, he found his way blocked by an angel. The angel said that since Christ carried the Cross in all humility, he must follow in the same manner. When he had removed his golden crown, purple robes and shoes, the way was opened and he was able to carry the Cross into the church.
Little is known about the True Cross after this period. Splinters of it were dispersed and can be found wherever Christians are found. The largest pieces can be found in Notre Dame, Pisa Cathedral, Florence Cathedral, and Santa Croce in Rome.
Thursday, August 25, 2011
Jesus, Lover of chastity, Mary, Mother most pure, and Saint Joseph, chaste guardian of the Virgin, to you I come at this hour, begging you to plead with God for me. I earnestly wish to be pure in thought, word and deed in imitation of your own holy purity.
Obtain for me, then, a deep sense of modesty which will be reflected in my external conduct. Protect my eyes, the windows of my soul, from anything that might dim the luster of a heart that must mirror only Christlike purity.
And when the “Bread of Angels becomes the Bread of me” in my heart at Holy Communion, seal it forever against the suggestions of sinful pleasures.
Heart of Jesus, Fount of all purity, have mercy on us.
Thursday, May 19, 2011
THE "GOLDEN ARROW" PRAYER
MAY the most holy, most sacred, most adorable, most incomprehensible and unutterable Name of God be always praised, blessed, loved, adored and glorified, in Heaven, on earth, and under the earth, by all the creatures of God, and by the Sacred Heart of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar. Amen.
There is much more information on this devotion here.
Monday, May 16, 2011
I received an article on organ donation today, that was published in August, 2008 in the New England Journal of Medicine. I am not an advocate of organ donation, and I have come under fire in previous posts from those who are. You can click on this link to read it, or just read what I copied below.
Organ Donation after Cardiac Death
In this issue of the Journal, Boucek et al. (pages 709–714) report on three cases of heart transplantation from infants who were pronounced dead on the basis of cardiac criteria. The three Perspective articles and a video roundtable discussion at www.nejm.org address key ethical aspects of organ donation after cardiac death. Bernat and Veatch comment on the cases described by Boucek et al.; Truog and Miller raise a fundamental question about the dead donor rule. In a related Perspective roundtable, moderator Atul Gawande, of Harvard Medical School, is joined by George Annas, of the Boston University School of Public Health; Arthur Caplan, of the University of Pennsylvania; and Robert Truog. Watch the roundtable online at www.nejm.org.
Since its inception, organ transplantation has been guided by the overarching ethical requirement known as the dead donor rule, which simply states that patients must be declared dead before the removal of any vital organs for transplantation. Before the development of modern critical care, the diagnosis of death was relatively straightforward: patients were dead when they were cold, blue, and stiff. Unfortunately, organs from these traditional cadavers cannot be used for transplantation. Forty years ago, an ad hoc committee at Harvard Medical School, chaired by Henry Beecher, suggested revising the definition of death in a way that would make some patients with devastating neurologic injury suitable for organ transplantation under the dead donor rule.1
The concept of brain death has served us well and has been the ethical and legal justification for thousands of lifesaving donations and transplantations. Even so, there have been persistent questions about whether patients with massive brain injury, apnea, and loss of brain-stem reflexes are really dead. After all, when the injury is entirely intracranial, these patients look very much alive: they are warm and pink; they digest and metabolize food, excrete waste, undergo sexual maturation, and can even reproduce. To a casual observer, they look just like patients who are receiving long-term artificial ventilation and are asleep.
The arguments about why these patients should be considered dead have never been fully convincing. The definition of brain death requires the complete absence of all functions of the entire brain, yet many of these patients retain essential neurologic function, such as the regulated secretion of hypothalamic hormones.2 Some have argued that these patients are dead because they are permanently unconscious (which is true), but if this is the justification, then patients in a permanent vegetative state, who breathe spontaneously, should also be diagnosed as dead, a characterization that most regard as implausible. Others have claimed that “brain-dead” patients are dead because their brain damage has led to the “permanent cessation of functioning of the organism as a whole.”3 Yet evidence shows that if these patients are supported beyond the acute phase of their illness (which is rarely done), they can survive for many years.4 The uncomfortable conclusion to be drawn from this literature is that although it may be perfectly ethical to remove vital organs for transplantation from patients who satisfy the diagnostic criteria of brain death, the reason it is ethical cannot be that we are convinced they are really dead.
Over the past few years, our reliance on the dead donor rule has again been challenged, this time by the emergence of donation after cardiac death as a pathway for organ donation. Under protocols for this type of donation, patients who are not brain-dead but who are undergoing an orchestrated withdrawal of life support are monitored for the onset of cardiac arrest. In typical protocols, patients are pronounced dead 2 to 5 minutes after the onset of asystole (on the basis of cardiac criteria), and their organs are expeditiously removed for transplantation. Although everyone agrees that many patients could be resuscitated after an interval of 2 to 5 minutes, advocates of this approach to donation say that these patients can be regarded as dead because a decision has been made not to attempt resuscitation.
This understanding of death is problematic at several levels. The cardiac definition of death requires the irreversible cessation of cardiac function. Whereas the common understanding of “irreversible” is “impossible to reverse,” in this context irreversibility is interpreted as the result of a choice not to reverse. This interpretation creates the paradox that the hearts of patients who have been declared dead on the basis of the irreversible loss of cardiac function have in fact been transplanted and have successfully functioned in the chest of another. Again, although it may be ethical to remove vital organs from these patients, we believe that the reason it is ethical cannot convincingly be that the donors are dead.
At the dawn of organ transplantation, the dead donor rule was accepted as an ethical premise that did not require reflection or justification, presumably because it appeared to be necessary as a safeguard against the unethical removal of vital organs from vulnerable patients. In retrospect, however, it appears that reliance on the dead donor rule has greater potential to undermine trust in the transplantation enterprise than to preserve it. At worst, this ongoing reliance suggests that the medical profession has been gerrymandering the definition of death to carefully conform with conditions that are most favorable for transplantation. At best, the rule has provided misleading ethical cover that cannot withstand careful scrutiny. A better approach to procuring vital organs while protecting vulnerable patients against abuse would be to emphasize the importance of obtaining valid informed consent for organ donation from patients or surrogates before the withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment in situations of devastating and irreversible neurologic injury.5
What has been the cost of our continued dependence on the dead donor rule? In addition to fostering conceptual confusion about the ethical requirements of organ donation, it has compromised the goals of transplantation for donors and recipients alike. By requiring organ donors to meet flawed definitions of death before organ procurement, we deny patients and their families the opportunity to donate organs if the patients have devastating, irreversible neurologic injuries that do not meet the technical requirements of brain death. In the case of donation after cardiac death, the ischemia time inherent in the donation process necessarily diminishes the value of the transplants by reducing both the quantity and the quality of the organs that can be procured.
Many will object that transplantation surgeons cannot legally or ethically remove vital organs from patients before death, since doing so will cause their death. However, if the critiques of the current methods of diagnosing death are correct, then such actions are already taking place on a routine basis. Moreover, in modern intensive care units, ethically justified decisions and actions of physicians are already the proximate cause of death for many patients — for instance, when mechanical ventilation is withdrawn. Whether death occurs as the result of ventilator withdrawal or organ procurement, the ethically relevant precondition is valid consent by the patient or surrogate. With such consent, there is no harm or wrong done in retrieving vital organs before death, provided that anesthesia is administered. With proper safeguards, no patient will die from vital organ donation who would not otherwise die as a result of the withdrawal of life support. Finally, surveys suggest that issues related to respect for valid consent and the degree of neurologic injury may be more important to the public than concerns about whether the patient is already dead at the time the organs are removed.
In sum, as an ethical requirement for organ donation, the dead donor rule has required unnecessary and unsupportable revisions of the definition of death. Characterizing the ethical requirements of organ donation in terms of valid informed consent under the limited conditions of devastating neurologic injury is ethically sound, optimally respects the desires of those who wish to donate organs, and has the potential to maximize the number and quality of organs available to those in need.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the policy of the National Institutes of Health, the Public Health Service, or the Department of Health and Human Services.
No potential conflict of interest relevant to this article was reported.
Dr. Truog is a professor of medical ethics and anesthesia (pediatrics) in the Departments of Anesthesia and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School and the Division of Critical Care Medicine at Children's Hospital Boston — both in Boston. Dr. Miller is a faculty member in the Department of Bioethics, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD
Sunday, March 27, 2011
The opening lines that we are so familiar with are supposed to go like this:
Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.
But now they read:
Amazing grace how sweet the sound, that saved and strengthened me.
Excuse me, I'm about to be sick. Good old Catholic Book of Modern Worship.
Thursday, March 17, 2011
Lord Jesus Christ, my God, I adore Thee and thank Thee for all the blessings Thou hast conferred upon me this day. I offer Thee my rest and all the moments of this night, and I beseech Thee to protect me from all sin. Therefore I place myself within the most Sacred wound of Thy side, and under the protecting mantle of Mary, my Mother.
May Thy holy angels assist me and preserve me in peace. May Thy blessing be upon me forevermore.
Monday, March 14, 2011
Nope, this year I am not depriving myself of any temporal pleasures, because I have something better to offer God. On the advice of a good priest, I am putting into practice a spiritual mortification. Remember I posted here about Psalm 140 (3&4) in a post called A Prayer for Loose Lips? The psalm goes like this, and my Lenten penance is to perfect the practice of this psalm.
Set a watch , O Lord, before my mouth, and a door around my lips. May my heart not incline to evil words, to make excuses for sins.
The first few days were indeed hard, but it is getting easier to remember not to be so quick to answer every question or statement, and to actually keep silent on many things that really don't need a response. It's not my nature to do this, and it is indeed hard!
How is your Lent going?
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
May I ask everyone to pray for a special intention of mine?
Saturday, November 27, 2010
Hey, Tom, you wanna play?
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Tribulation worketh patience; and patience trial; and trial hope.
Trials produce hope. Without trial there is no hope. Pretty simplistic, isn't it?
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Saturday, November 20, 2010
This week, join EWTN host Doug Keck and translator Susan Conroy in a discussion of the prophetic book that led St. Thérèse of Lisieux into the convent.
9:30 am & 11:30 pm
Over a decade ago, Susan Conroy, one of Mother Teresa's helpers in Calcutta, embarked on a remarkable seven-year quest to find a copy of the book that (in her autobiography) St. Thérèse of Lisieux called "one of the greatest graces of my life": The End of the Present World and the Mysteries of the Future Life.
Thérèse first read this book by Fr. Charles Arminjon in May of 1887, when she was only fourteen years old. She said that it "immersed her in a happiness not of this world." It gave her a "presentiment of what God reserves eternally for those who love Him."
It inspired her to love our Lord Jesus even more ardently --- to love Him, she said, "with passion."
Very shortly after reading this book, with her heart aflame with the desire to give everything to God, Thérèse requested and obtained her father's permission to enter the cloistered Carmelite Monastery in Lisieux.
Yet, mysteriously, soon after Thérèse entered the convent, Fr. Arminjon's book fell into obscurity. One hundred years after Thérèse read it, it took Susan Conroy almost a decade to find even one single copy!
But time had not diminished its force. Reading that French edition enkindled in Susan a spiritual fire akin to that experienced by Thérèse, and Susan devoted the next eleven years to getting it translated into English and finally published.
and the Mysteries of the Future Life
by Fr. Charles Arminjon.
336 pgs ppbk $17.95
End of the Present World
The End of the World:
The Signs that Will Precede and the Circumstances That Will Accompany It
The Persecution by the Antichrist and the Conversion of the Jews
The Resurrection of the Dead and the General Judgment
The Place of Immortal Life and the State of Glorified Bodies after the Resurrection
Eternal Punishment and the Unfortunate Destiny
Eternal Beatitude and the Supernatural Vision of God
Christian Sacrifice, the Means of Redemption
The Mystery of Suffering in its Relationship with the Future Life
To order online now or call
On EWTN this weekend and next week, Susan tells of her long quest and of this remarkable book, particularly those parts that enflamed Thérèse with a love of God that led her into the convent, and that, over a century later, drove Susan herself to find the book and make it available to modern readers.
Don't miss Susan
--- and St. Thérèse! ---
this week on EWTN:
9:30 am & 11:30 pm
Don't miss it!
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
And the hot tub (in the picture above) will be even more welcoming. I just need to brave the cold to get the courage to step outside into its warmth. It always amazes me how one does not feel cold in an outdoor hot tub, even in very cold weather.
Today is my day off, as I teach catechism on Tuesdays, but I have already heard the ambulance go screeching out several times. The first snowfall of the year tends to catch drivers off guard and they rush into intersections, forgetting they need more time and distance to come to a stop. It pays to be a defensive driver, and I hope everyone has their snow tires on by now.
Friday, November 12, 2010
It's almost time for Christmas shopping, as well. For the last few years, I have been in the habit of saving money all year long in a separate account that is earmarked for Christmas. I much prefer that to the scrambling to make ends meet that I have done in the past. I find I don't miss the money I am placing in this account, and by this time of year, I can start my Christmas shopping without any concern for credit card bills in January.
A few years ago at this time of year, the funniest thing happened. I bought my husband a gift I knew he wanted. It was a record player that also converted old records to CD's. I brought it home and showed it to our daughter to see what she thought. She burst out laughing! It took a full five minutes to find out why she thought it was so funny. Eventually she stopped laughing and told me that both her parents had each gone out and bought a gift for the other that they had already bought for themselves.
Just the week before I had purchased a beautiful nativity set that was on sale for half price. I couldn`t resist it, as I had always wanted one like it. It turned out my husband had also seen it, and knowing I would like it, he bought it for me. That`s what had my daughter in stitches! Knowing each others tastes so well, we had both bought the exact thing that each of us had just purchased for ourselves!