Religion and Spirituality

…If there be any virtue,if any praise of discipline, think on these things

Posted on March 22, 2009. Filed under: Benedict of Nursia, Catholicism, Christianity, Epistle to the Philippians, Religion and Spirituality, United Kingdom |

Douay-Rheims Bible Philippians 4:8
For the rest, brethren,
whatsoever things are true,
whatsoever modest,
whatsoever just,
whatsoever holy,
whatsoever lovely,
whatsoever of good fame,
if there be any virtue, if any praise of discipline, think on these things.

Happy Feast of St. Benedict to the
Congregation of Adorers of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, of Monmarte
Tyburn Convent UK

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Remembering St. Robert Southwell

Posted on February 22, 2009. Filed under: Christianity, England, London, Religion and Spirituality, Southwell, United States |

Da Mihi Animas: The Martyrs Walk: Remembering St. Robert Southwell

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Prayers for His Holiness: pass the word… 7 Penitential Psalms & Litany of the Saints

Posted on February 14, 2009. Filed under: Catholicism, Christianity, Pope, Pope Benedict, Pope Benedict XVI, Prayer and Spirituality, Religion and Spirituality |

First Friday Prayers for His Holiness: pass the word…

“The Holy Father asks to be joined by the prayers of all the faithful, so that the Lord may enlighten the path of the Church. May the effort of the Pastors and of all the faithful increase in support of the delicate and burdensome mission of the Successor of Apostle Peter as «custodian of the unity» in the Church”.


7 Penitential Psalms Latin & English

The Seven Penitential Psalms: Psalms 6, 31, 37, 50, 101, 129 and 142

To download these Psalms in Microsoft Word format (10 pages),

in both English and Latin, with Antiphons and Glorias, click here

Litany of the Saints

Litany of the Saints (3 pages): English Latin

To download an mp3 of this litany prayed in Latin, right click here

Novena of Prayer for Pope Benedict XVI




Hermenuetic of Continuity

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16th World Day of the Sick- message of Pope Benedict XVI

Posted on February 13, 2009. Filed under: Christianity, Pope Benedict XVI, Religion and Spirituality |

Message for World Day of the Sick

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 22, 2008 ( Pain is the door by which the faithful can enter into the mystery of redemption, and reach with Christ peace and happiness, says Benedict XVI.

The Pope said this in his message for the 16th World Day of the Sick, to be celebrated on the diocesan level Feb. 11, which has as its theme “The Eucharist, Lourdes and Pastoral Care for the Sick”

The Holy Father said the theme connects three events of the Church — the World Day of the Sick, the 150th anniversary of the Marian apparitions at Lourdes, and the celebration of the International Eucharistic Congress, to be held Jun 15-22 in Quebec City.

By contemplating the mystery of the Eucharist in connection with the World Day of the Sick, said the Pontiff, “not only will the actual participation of human suffering in the salvific work of God be celebrated, but the valuable fruits promised to those who believe can in a certain sense be enjoyed.”

“Thus pain,” he added, “received with faith, becomes the door by which to enter the mystery of the redemptive suffering of Jesus and to reach with him the peace and the happiness of his resurrection.”

He also said that reflecting on the three events is “a remarkable opportunity to consider the close connection that exists between the mystery of the Eucharist, the role of Mary in the project of salvation and the reality of human pain and suffering.”


“Mary is a model of total self-abandonment to the will of God,” he said. “To reflect upon the Immaculate Conception of Mary is thus to allow oneself to be attracted by the ‘yes’ that joined her wonderfully to the mission of Christ, the redeemer of humanity.

“It is to allow oneself to be taken and led by her hand to pronounce in one’s turn ‘fiat’ to the will of God, with all one’s existence interwoven with joys and sadness, hopes and disappointments, in the awareness that tribulations, pain and suffering make rich the meaning of our pilgrimage on earth.”

“One cannot contemplate Mary without being attracted by Christ,” continued Benedict XVI, “and one cannot look at Christ without immediately perceiving the presence of Mary. There is an indissoluble link between the Mother and the Son, generated in her womb by work of the Holy Spirit, and this link we perceive, in a mysterious way, in the sacrament of the Eucharist.”

Mary is a “woman of the Eucharist,” noted the Pope, explaining that this why at Lourdes the devotion to the Virgin Mother “is joined to a strong and constant reference” to the sacrament.

The Pontiff continued: “The presence of many sick pilgrims in Lourdes, and of the volunteers who accompany them, helps us to reflect on the maternal and tender care that the Virgin expresses toward human pain and suffering.

“Mary suffers with those who are in affliction, with them she hopes, and she is their comfort, supporting them with her maternal help.”


Speaking of the International Eucharistic Congress in Canada, the Holy Father said the event “will be an opportunity to worship Jesus Christ present in the sacrament of the altar, to entrust ourselves to him as hope that does not disappoint, to receive him as that medicine of immortality which heals the body and the spirit.”

He said the theme of the congress — “The Eucharist, Gift of God for the Life of the World” — emphasizes how the Eucharist is the gift that the Father makes to the world of His only Son, incarnated and crucified.”

Benedict XVI continued: “It is specifically from the Eucharist that pastoral care in health must draw the necessary spiritual strength to come effectively to man’s aid and to help him to understand the salvific value of his own suffering.

“Mysteriously united to Christ, the man who suffers with love and meek self-abandonment to the will of God becomes a living offering for the salvation of the world.”

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St Catherine de Ricci, OP

Posted on February 13, 2009. Filed under: Catholicism, Christianity, Dominican Order, Religion and Spirituality |

St Catherine de Ricci, Virgin, Order of Preachers

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Reading Today

Posted on February 12, 2009. Filed under: Catholicism, Christianity, English language, Johansen, Liturgy, Our Lady of Lourdes, Religion and Spirituality, Sacred Music, Vigneron |

Victim souls: a perspective from Lourdes bloggingLOURDES
Père Georges David Byers, Chapelain des Sanctuaires Notre-Dame de Lourdes
The Immaculate Conception is the victim soul par excellence. She had no dark nights of the senses or soul to go through, for she never had any effects of original sin or personal sin. However, by her very purity, her clarity of vision, her perfect love of God, of her Divine Son, and of the many, she witnessed the infinite gulf between God’s charity and our need. This occasioned in her the knowledge of the way she would be if she were without grace. To know this, she only had to look at her Son on the Cross. Although sinless, immaculate from the first moment of her conception, she knew that that grace only came about because of what Christ was doing on the Cross. Her sorrow was perfect. Her heart was pierced by a sword of sorrow. She saw all the sins of all men of all time in looking upon her Son of the Cross, but she also knew what she would be like. Because of this, she also knew how to thank God perfectly, how to intercede for us perfectly, as our coredemptrix. She’s not our Redeemer, but her intercession matches the grace of redemption perfectly. In this way, ever so simple, so full of love, she is our Mediatrix of all graces as she stood under the grace.

Pledge prayers by poll for the intentions of the Holy Father (closes LATE 11 February 2009)

Ideas for the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes

Vigneron on LiturgyFr.Rob Johansen – Thrown Down “The single greatest problem is the tendency to turn the Liturgy into a focus on the self, rather than on God. Archbishop Vigneron believes these tendencies are misguided, because they “obscure the Christological and Trinitarian focus inherent in liturgy.”

“Liturgy”, he says, “is not entertainment, it is not self-validated. Liturgy is the experience of heaven, not something that happens to me in some sort of emotional-personal state.”
Suffering from chronic lack of hope – Fr. Bill Bellrose, CPM – Seminarians for Life
Bishop Juan Antonio Martinez Camino, warned (this week) that European society “has made science almighty, it has made progress a substitute for salvation and suffers a chronic lack of hope, where the culture of death gains ground everyday on the culture of life.”

On Sickness and God’s Healing Love “We Are Made for Life”– Zenit

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New Age ideas: how Catholics should respond – Fr Peter Joseph

Posted on February 9, 2009. Filed under: Christianity, Communion of Saints, Evangelism, Jesus, New Age, Pope Leo XIII, Pope Paul VI, Religion and Spirituality, Roman Catholic Church |

New Age ideas: how Catholics should respond
Fr Peter Joseph

Among these are some mixed-up notions about curses exorcisms and baptising the dead.

Last month, when I dealt with the notion of “healing your family tree,” I said that today’s confusion in the Church has led some people to take up New Age ideas unawares. Among these are some mixed-up notions about curses, exorcisms and baptising the dead.
Often, healing your tree is meant to liberate you or your family from some curse. But do curses work? Unlike the sacraments of the Church, curses or spells do not work ex opere operato (by virtue of the rite itself). God has not given the devil such unfailing power. His influence is limited, sporadic and determined by God.
The rituals and formulas prescribed by the devil and his agents have no intrinsic force, but are mere devices employed by the devil: to deceive and degrade the gullible; to increase his hold over his victims and extract their subservience; to ape the rituals of the Church; and to gain for himself the worship due to God alone.
So it is that curses and superstitions seem to work only on those who believe in them! In other words, they are purely psychological, or if demons are at work, they can work only where the recipient of the curse starts to worry about it. So, in either case, the answer is to despise any attempt to curse you, trust in God, practise your religion faithfully and be at peace.
The faithful practising Catholic need fear nothing from the witchcraft and sorcery practised by others. A man from Kenya told me how, where he lived, the witch-doctors lamented the impotence of their sorcery against Christians, because the priests told the catechumens that once they are baptised they will have put on Christ who has conquered all evil powers and they are protected as his family members. Pope Paul VI said, in one of his famous 1972 discourses on the devil: “Everything which defends us from sin protects us of itself from the invisible Enemy. Grace is the decisive defence.”
What did Our Lord say to do if people curse you? “Bless those who curse you” (Lk 6:28). That is all. Charity in deed. He never advised seeing some expert to get it “lifted”.
In a book on the conversions to Christianity in the first centuries AD, Gustave Bardy sets out three main reasons why the Greco-Roman world converted to Christ: desire for the truth; the Christian integrity of life; and liberation from fatalism and superstition. Missionaries today can tell you how primitive peoples experience conversion to the Christian religion as a wondrous deliverance from a whole oppressive world of superstitions, fatalism, curses and fears.
The true Catholic vision of our links with our ancestors is found in our doctrines of Purgatory and the Communion of Saints. To teach people that their ancestors are to blame for present spiritual ills, and need pacifying or whatever, is a reversion to pre-Christian paganism and fatalism.
To try those whom He loves, God may allow evil spirits to afflict them seriously, but these exceptions are extremely rare. St Paul was among them. He was harassed by an angel of Satan and three times prayed for deliverance, but was told, “My grace is sufficient for you” (2 Cor 12:9). Paul says himself that he had to suffer this, “to keep me from being too elated by the abundance of revelations” (v 7).
God’s designs
Like the desire to know the unknowable is the desire to escape the inescapable. If we have prayed with persistence, and done what we can, and still have something to endure, we must then abandon ourselves to the hidden designs of God. Continuation and growth in grace is a life-long struggle. There are no secret prayers or formulas to lift burdens off us as if they are a spell. And to attempt to do so through “white magic” is as illicit as using black magic.
It is a mistake to think that every illness and trial is contrary to the gracious will of God. Normally we never know in this life how much good our crosses are doing to ourselves and to others. Practices of self-denial and the generous acceptance of suffering offered to God do much for the Church, for in this way, as St Paul says, “in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of His Body, that is, the Church” (Col 1:24).
The Church is the dispenser of the treasures of the Redemption, and Christ in a mysterious and awesome fashion has made Himself dependent on us, so to speak. Pius XII sums it up so powerfully in Mystici Corporis: “This is truly a tremendous mystery and one which can never be sufficiently meditated: namely, that the salvation of many souls depends upon the prayers and voluntary mortifications offered for that intention by the members of the mystical Body of Jesus Christ”. To escape all suffering is to flee salvation.
In downplaying curses, I am not denying the power of the Evil One. I have written before on his power to cause disturbances, false visions, and false miracles.
Apart from genuine exorcisms, which are always beneficial, what about benefits claimed through healing your family tree? In some cases, it might be the removal of demonic influence through renunciation of a sin (e.g., attending seances) – and then the peace and release obtained is mistakenly ascribed to the departure of some deceased ancestor.
In fact, the Church’s classic rules for exorcism issued in 1614 specifically say that the exorcist “should not believe the demon if he pretends to be the soul of a deceased person” (Rule 14).
At other times, where something genuine seems to take place – the instantaneous removal of a malady, for example – this can be explained by the devil removing what he himself had caused, as a ploy to make people fall for the whole ancestral spirits business.
It is the same game when unauthorised people try to cast out demons. The devil then is free to play all sorts of tricks on them, even pretending to leave, since he is being commanded without authority. Read Acts 19:13-17 where Jewish exorcists were overpowered by the demon when they tried to use the name of Jesus without authority.
Canon 1172 lays down that only a priest lawfully deputed by his bishop may perform an exorcism. It is presumptuous, dangerous and disobedient for a layman to undertake such a ritual. Lacking authority from the Church to exorcise, he may expose himself to the power of the demon, whom he imitates by disobedience. The well-known lengthy prayer of Pope Leo XIII against Satan and the rebellious angels is not for use by the laity, said the Holy Office in 1985.
I am aware of lay Catholics claiming to have a charismatic gift to deliver people from evil spirits. However much they may be in good faith, their good faith will not protect them. If you know of anyone who might need an exorcist, inform your parish priest or bishop.
Another thing doing the rounds is a ritual for baptising aborted or miscarried babies (months or even years after the event), involving recital of a prayer and sprinkling Holy Water into the air. I have met people who have followed this ceremony in good faith. But I must say here that baptising miscarried babies is pure fantasy. Sacraments are for the living. No one can baptise the dead. That idea comes straight from the Mormons, who try to baptise all their dead ancestors, back as far as one can go.
No one knows for sure what St Paul is referring to when he mentions Corinthians “baptising on behalf of the dead” (1 Cor 15:29) – but the Church’s teaching rules out any ceremony of baptism administered to those dead and buried. To attempt to do so is the illicit practice of simulating a sacrament.
I have even seen a pamphlet saying that women worrying about miscarriages are impeding the happiness of their babies. Nonsense! Babies who die in the womb are in the hands of God. They are certainly not being detained from happiness because of their mothers’ worry. The author was probably unaware that he had implied in that pamphlet that such babies were suffering in Hell or Purgatory. Both are impossible here.
Naming guardian angels
Another New Age practice which has made its way into the Catholic Church is naming your guardian angel. I have heard some people speak of it as if it were a necessary thing to name your angel, and as if it were an age-old practice. It is in fact a New Age fad, never practised or taught by a single Pope or Saint or any notable writer in the whole history of the Church.
The Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy issued in 2002 by the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship says, “The practice of assigning names to the holy angels should be discouraged except in the cases of Gabriel, Raphael and Michael whose names are contained in Holy Scripture” (n. 217).
Behind it is a desire to tame and control the spirit world. It is disordered to name your angel: the higher names the lower, not the other way around. Parents name their children, not vice versa. We are entrusted to our guardian angels; they are not entrusted to us. I fear that some people, in their mind, have turned their angel into some human friend or pet.
In all these matters, there is no better advice than that of St Paul in 2 Thess 2:15: “Stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us”. Neither subtract from nor add to the teaching of the Church. Many novelties are really the re-appearance of ancient gnostic errors parading as piety, for as St Paul also warns (2 Cor 11:14), “even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light”.
Fr Peter Joseph is serving as Chancellor for the Maronite Diocese of Australia for the next three years.


Source: AD2000
see also
Fr. Mitch Pacwa, SJ: Catholics and New Age
Holy See
Directory on popular piety and the liturgy. Principles and guidelines

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‘Healing the family tree’: New Age under the guise of religion (Part One)

Posted on February 8, 2009. Filed under: Divine grace, Evangelism, God, Holy Spirit, Jesus, Religion and Spirituality |

‘Healing the family tree’: New Age under the guise of religion (Part One)
Fr Peter Joseph

In the state of confusion in the Church today, some people have taken up new age or Protestant fundamentalist ideas without being aware of their real origin or falsity.
A major example of this is the current fad for “Healing the family tree”. There is a book with that title by an Anglican psychiatrist Kenneth McAll. Much of the book is quite acceptable to Catholics but the summary on the back cover also states that Dr McAll “tells how through his medical and religious experiences he has discovered a remarkable new method of healing. He believes that many supposedly ‘incurable’ patients are the victims of ancestral control. He therefore seeks to liberate them from this control. By drawing up a Family Tree, he can identify the ancestor who is causing his patient harm. He then cuts the bond between the ancestor and patient”.
There is myriad literature on the subject, much of it contradictory. Picking the reliable book is a bit like picking a book on astrology or some other nonsensical esoteric topic: which one will you believe? There are so many, and they are irreconcilable with each other!
There are variations galore on the ancestral spirit theme. I have heard some say that if you have a cot death in the family, it means that there was a witch in your ancestry. If you have bowel cancer, it means there was a Freemason, and so on. Some claim to have linked every possible malady to every possible class of ancestral sinner who is the cause of its passing down the line!
Others teach that you or your family are victims of the demon of anger, or the demon of lust, or of gambling, or of drug abuse, or of mental breakdown; in other words, there are special demons who pursue families down the generations to cause particular vices.
The Apostles too at one time had the common Jewish notion that every affliction could be traced to a specific sin. So it was they asked Our Lord, “Who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus’ answer is very enlightening and very important: “It was not that this man sinned or his parents, but that the works of God might be made manifest in him” (Jn 9:3).
Our Lord at another time discounted the idea that certain misfortunes come upon certain people because of their sins, while others are spared because they are less guilty. Referring to a group butchered under Pilate, and to eighteen others killed by a falling tower in Siloam, Jesus said, “Do you think they were worse offenders than all the others in Galilee and in Jerusalem? I tell you, No” (Lk 13:2,4).
Where did the Jews get this notion? Partly from the provisional Revelation given them by God. In the book of Exodus, God says, “I am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me” (20:5; 34:7). But is this meant to apply for all time unto the end of the world, like the Ten Commandments? No; many things in the Jewish Revelation were for the Jews only, such as circumcision, animal sacrifices, and other ritual and judicial laws. St John Chrysostom says explicitly that the declaration of punishment unto later generations “is not to be universally applied, but was made with regard to those going out of Egypt” (Homily 56 on St John).
Even within the Old Testament itself, God changed this arrangement. See all of chapter 18 in Ezekiel. God says, “What do you mean by repeating this proverb concerning the land of Israel, ‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge’? As I live, says the Lord God, this proverb shall no more be used by you in Israel.” Further on, God says, “Yet you [Jews] say, ‘Why should not the son suffer for the iniquity of the father?’ When the son has done what is lawful and right, he shall surely live. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself” (18:19-20). Jeremiah 31:29-30 says the same.
If someone in your family has an illness, there is no need to search your family tree for sinners, as the Apostles were trying to do!
Holy Spirit
Instructive in this regard is the reply of Our Lord to St Teresa of Avila. In her Life, chapter 19, she describes how she was meditating on Psalm 119, “Righteous are You, O Lord, and upright are Your judgements.” Then she began to wonder, “how You could with justice allow so many faithful servants to remain without those gifts and mercies that You conferred on me. You answered me, O Lord: Do not pry into this but serve Me.”
We cannot understand or justify the ways of God. To seek a personal explanation for each major thing will lead to obsession and distrust of God. Such things are not among the fruits of the Holy Spirit.
Some of this pseudo-charismatic business is really an attempt to unravel and explain the inexplicable. Why was this man born blind? Why was this girl born handicapped? Why did that good woman die so young of cancer? Why does this family have mental illness? Normally, the answer has to be, “I don’t know” or, in a good sense, “God knows.” All these and other mystifying things are the result of the inscrutable designs of Divine Providence.
Padre Pio was asked once why he did not heal a close relative, a young man, of an ongoing illness. He replied, “If he were cured, he would come to love this life too much and his soul would be lost.” It is not given to ordinary mortals to know the secret designs of Providence, but a simple story like this one gives us a glimpse into God’s ways and into how He draws good from evil, even if we do not see it in this life. The illness of St Pio’s relative was his opportunity to share in the Cross and so save his soul.
In the Catholic schema of things, we need to remember that sin is the greatest of all evils. God has not promised to heal us or release us from all ills in this life, but He has promised absolutely to forgive our sins if we repent.
The belief in ancestral or generational curses, etc, is a perversion of the Catholic doctrine of Original Sin, which suffices to explain the evils and imperfections in this world. The remedy is baptismal regeneration and the life of Grace, not special exorcisms and healing rites, etc.
If people make a good confession of the past, make reparation for their sins, keep the Commandments, receive the Sacraments regularly, and avoid the occult and superstitions, and so on, then they can be certain that any afflictions are not by reason of some occult cause.
Some Catholics claiming to expel the influence of troublesome ancestors are really just misled by New Age influences, which play upon desperate people’s sensitivities and susceptibilities. It is typical of the new agers to teach others to look elsewhere than themselves for the source of their problems. This is a big problem in today’s world, namely refusing to take responsibility for our own choices and decisions. So some seek to blame their parents, or ancestors, or evil spirits, or a curse that was placed upon them.
It is also extremely imprudent to tell people afflicted with fears that their problems are caused by demons or ancestors binding them. Such explanations are only calculated to make them worse. What they do need is formation in the virtues of fortitude and trust in God.
We all know that in certain families there is a bigger tendency to alcoholism or gambling or reckless daring or other vices or whatever. But we also know that within a single family there are some siblings who are like chalk and cheese. Our basic temperament may be a given, but our character, which is what we do with it, is up to us. If we co-operate with the grace of God, we can overcome temptation, unhealthy proclivities and bad example. We can acquire new virtues. From sinful parents, God can and does produce saints! Only mindless determinism tries to lock people into a box for the rest of their lives.
Beliefs without foundation
A few years ago, a nun wrote to Bishop Brennan of Wagga Wagga to ask if she could come and do a seminar on “healing your family tree”. He replied, as he told me himself, that he did not believe in any such doctrine, and that it was contrary to Scripture and the Fathers.
There is a book by an Italian theologian, Father Renzo Lavatori, on the demonology of the Fathers of the Church. In that thorough book, and in other learned tomes on the teachings of the Fathers, you will not find a single Father of the Church who taught anything about evil spirits following your ancestral line, or healing your family tree by identifying the ancestor who is holding you bound.
I would go further and say that no Father, no Doctor of the Church, no Saint, no Pope, no Council ever taught or even implied any such thing. It is a pure fiction without foundation in Sacred Scripture or Sacred Tradition. There is not a word on the subject in the 688 pages of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It is a mythical notion imported from sects outside the Church.
Next month I will look at right and wrong approaches to curses, exorcisms, and baptism of the dead.
Fr Peter Joseph, the vice-rector and a lecturer in dogma at Vianney College, the diocesan seminary of Wagga Wagga, is serving as Chancellor for the Maronite Diocese of Australia from February 2003 for the next three years.

see also: Fr. Mitch Pacwa,SJ: Catholics and New Age

Directory on popular piety and the liturgy. Principles and guidelines Holy See

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Lectio Divina as School of Prayer among the Fathers of the Desert

Posted on February 8, 2009. Filed under: Christianity, John Cassian, lectio divina, Prayer, Religion and Spirituality |

:en:St Anthony the GreatImage via Wikipedia

Lectio Divina as School of Prayer among the Fathers of the Desert By Abbot Armand Veilleux, O.C.S.O.

A scholarly piece, with lots of quotations, like this from St. John Cassian: “Brought to life by this food (that of the Scriptures) on which he does not cease to nourish himself, [the monk] penetrates to the point of all the sentiments expressed in the psalms, which he recites henceforth not at all as having been composed by the prophet, but as if he himself were the author, and as a personal prayer…This is, in fact, what the divine Scriptures reveal to us most clearly, and it is their heart and in some way their marrow that are shown to us, when our experience not only allows us to know, but makes us anticipate this very knowledge, and the sense of the words is made known to us, not by some explanation, but by the proof that we ourselves have made of them.”



First : Job 7:1-4.6-7; Second: 1 Cor 9:16-19.22-23; Gospel: Lk 24:13-
Suffering, sickness and weakness are words that appear in the readings of today’s liturgy. Others accompany them as a response: care, preaching, service. The Gospel presents a typical day in Jesus’ apostolic ministry: he preaches, he heals, he retires to pray, he leaves for other places to preach and cast out devils. In the first reading, Job complains: “I have assigned to me nothing for my own but nights of grief… My life is but a breath, and … my eyes will never again see joy.” Finally, Paul makes himself weak with the weak to save the weak, he makes himself a slave of everyone to win as many as he can (second reading).


Human suffering. When Job likens man’s life to military service, he is not focusing on the heroic or glorious aspects of the militia as much as on the meaning of struggling, pain, suffering and punishment. Whether one wants it that way or not, pain is present at the origin, middle and end of human life. There is the pain of the daily toil of work, and the nightmares that molest people from dusk to dawn. There is the reality of illness in all its various forms and the anguish of dying, of having to die and of feeling apprehensive about eternity. There is physical suffering with its cruel, disturbing face, and the suffering of the soul which upsets one’s inner self and tumbles one into a bottomless pit. There is obligatory renunciation because of superior and beautiful decisions, but which as a renunciation continues nevertheless to be painful; and there is voluntary renunciation for the good of others which also brings its own load of suffering. Above all, there is the pain of sin, that pain whose traces linger in the soul even when the sin has been forgiven. How immense is humanity’s pain! The infinite meaninglessness of life and the horrible absurdity! The awareness that pain and suffering will last as long as time, however many breakthroughs are made in medicine and biomedical technology.
The mystery of pain. Pain is a reality outside our door and in our inner selves. Pain is also a mystery. That is, it is something outside the human being’s grasp, however great his extraordinary capacity for understanding; it is something incomprehensible to all. It is also something which in escaping from your grasp you cannot dominate or manage as you will, but which imposes itself upon you and subjugates you. Neither Job nor Peter’s mother-in-law, nor those “possessed by devils” of which the Gospel speaks, sought suffering or sickness; rather, they were the passive subjects of a superior power that was imposed upon them against their will. Pain is also a mystery because it refers us to something or someone superior, above us and far beyond us, who enters into our lives and on whom we must depend. It is a mystery, lastly, because it requires “treatment” by a specialist, not to understand it, but rather to integrate it in our life and to succeed in giving it meaning. For us Christians, the specialist in pain is Our Lord Jesus Christ. It is only he who can introduce us to the science of pain; only he can preach the Gospel or the good news of suffering to us with authority.
The Christian Way. In the liturgical texts there are indications of a Christian reaction to the reality of pain and the mystery of suffering. First of all, as Job teaches us, we must adopt a stance, not of resignation but of a quest for meaning. Far more important than seeking tranquilizers for suffering is the search for its meaning. A search which endures throughout life, because pain accompanies us to the grave. Secondly, we Christians must try to alleviate human pain. The discovery of pain is not an excuse in order to do nothing to soften and alleviate people’s pain. Since suffering is an evil closely linked to sin, we must fight it with determination and efficacy. Jesus did not fold his arms when faced with so many sick people, possessed by devils or terrified by some pain or other. The attitude of service in the face of suffering, as exemplified by Paul who made himself the servant of all, is a quintessentially Christian imperative. Teaching the meaning of pain and bearing authentic witness when facing one’s own suffering in the light of Christ’s mystery, is a high point of the Christian way.

The “beautiful” face of Christian suffering. Can pain be “beautiful”? Is it really the absolute evil in which there is no spark of beauty? Is it possible that a beautiful act can be reflected in the mirror of pain? For some people today, pain is more horrible than death, which is why euthanasia or suicide seem to solve the possible dilemma. For doctors, whose profession is to combat pain and for whom it is an enemy, it must be difficult to think of the beautiful side of suffering. I think telling the relatives of a dying person – of a patient with a terminal illness or of someone who has suffered a gruesome accident – that there can also be a beautiful side to pain, runs the risk being insolent or, at the least, inappropriate. Altogether, suffering has a certain human and Christian “beauty”. Physical or moral pain humanizes and dignifies man in his humanity and makes him more fully man when he accepts it and lives it with nobility of spirit, although his whole body may be contorted with the most unspeakable convulsions. It dignifies those who suffer it and their loved ones, when they bear with it and live it with noble elegance. Above all pain “Christianizes”, that is, it likens us to the great master and artist of pain who is Jesus Christ. His pain is beautiful because it embellishes all humanity, purifying it from the leprosy of sin and instilling in the old body of a fallen humanity the splendor of purity and innocence. A pastoral approach to suffering cannot do without this beautiful aspect of pain. What are the most appropriate ways and times to preach the good news, the beautiful face of suffering?
At the service of the suffering. Jesus Christ was a doctor of bodies and souls. The priest must follow in Christ’s footsteps. By his vocation he must always be available to alleviate human suffering as best he can. Accompanying those who suffer, comforting them with words or simply by being present, sharing an anxiety or a very deep sorrow, praying for those who suffer and getting them to pray with him about their suffering condition… Listening to the sinner in his inner anguish, speaking to him simple but true and authentic words which come from the heart, encouraging the despairing and the depressed, imbuing serenity in those who are overwhelmed and, as it were, devoured by pain… The priest should be, like Christ, a loving and compassionate doctor of bodies and souls. A full-time doctor, tireless, committed to all without reserve, like Jesus Christ, as this Sunday’s Gospel portrays him. Do I visit the sick and the elderly? Do I bring them the comfort of my words and especially the sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist? Do I believe that service to the sick in body and mind is a fundamental element of my ministry? What can be done in my parish, in my religious community, to give a “beautiful” face to suffering?

– Library – Homilies

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Posted on February 8, 2009. Filed under: Catholicism, Christianity, Consecration, Devotions, Golden Prayer, Immaculate Heart, Marian, mp3, Prayer and Spirituality, Religion and Spirituality, Rosary, Sacred Heart, Triumph |

Real Life Rosary – My Favorite to pray with -mp3

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Golden Prayer audio & pdf entire 20 mysteries

Downloads from Book ‘Real Life Rosary’


Rosary Army Downloadable mp3 rosaries – Scriptural & regular – all 20 mysteries
Rosary Army – Audio Entire Preparation for Consecration St. Louis de Montfort
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