The Catholic Defender: 375 A.D. Veneration of Saints

Posted by Donald Hartley - October 31st, 2015

saintsRecently, I wrote an article about the veneration of angels and saints that anti-Catholics have accused the Catholic Church of manufacturing in 375 A.D.

Since writing the article, a good question was asked of me about the Saints.

The question is a simple one really, but well worth responding to, “So explain to us why you venerate saints?”

That is a simple question that deserves a simple response. First, I think it is important to define what “veneration” means.

So many times, non-Catholics have a way of redefining what a word means to make a false implication, a straw man.

So, what does veneration really mean? “Veneration (Latin veneratio or dulia, Greek δουλεία, douleia), or veneration of saints, is the act of honoring a saint, a person who has been identified as having a high degree of sanctity or holiness. Angels are shown similar veneration. Philologically, “to venerate” derives from the Latin verb, venerare, meaning to regard with reverence and respect.”

saints 1When looking at the Saints, veneration then simply means to show honor and respect for those who gave their lives to God in heroic fashion.

I have always enjoyed reading the lives of the Saints who are our role models. Adoration, which is known as latria, is the worship and homage that is rightly offered to God alone.

That is the highest act of reverence and worship. Veneration, is also known as dulia, which is the honor and reverence appropriately due to the excellence of a created person. In other words a Saint.

Jesus has something to say about the saints in heaven, He said, “The children of this age marry and remarry, but those who are deemed worthy to attain to the coming age and to the resurrection of the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. They can no longer die, for they are like angels; and they are the ones who will rise. That the dead will rise even Moses made known in the passage about the bush, when he called ‘Lord’ the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; and he is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.”

saints 2Another question I want to make a point is that there are Saints in heaven.

The souls who are saved already share in eternal happiness as they await for the resurrection of the dead when the soul and the body will be reunited.

The risen body will have a glorified state of being and we will be like Jesus. St. Paul writes, “What eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, and what has not entered the human heart, what God has prepared for those who love him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9)

Little Compton Fair_01I really like St. Paul’s writing, 1 Corinthians 9:24-25 states, “Do you not know that the runners in the stadium all run in the race, but only one wins the prize? Run so as to win. Every athlete exercises discipline in every way. They do it to win a perishable crown, but we an imperishable one.”

What a great gift from God to have those role models who point the way to God by their example and lives. That is as simple as it gets why we honor the Saints.

Do the Saints have a cause and affect in heaven? The answer may surprise people. I love the story of Rich Mullin’s Conversion to the Catholic Faith.

Rich was raised a Quaker with a solid anti-Catholic background. As he developed his faith, he came to the conclusion that it was not the Catholic Church that over-rated the Saints as much as it was that Protestants under-rated the glory of God.

Rich Mullins interest in Saint Francis of Assisi led him to the Catholic Faith. He died on a tragic car accident on September 19, 1997 as I was putting together a “Jesus Fest” at Oak Grove KY at St. Micheal’s Catholic Church. I’ll never forget it as we honored Rich Mullins when we received the news.

RichRich would say this not long before his death: “A lot of the stuff which I thought was so different between Protestants and Catholics [was] not, but at the end of going through an RCIA [Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults] course, I also realized that there are some real and significant differences. I’m not sure which side of the issues I come down on. My openness to Catholicism was very scary to me because, when you grow up in a church where they don’t even put up a cross, many things were foreign to me. I went to an older Protestant gentleman that I’ve respected for years and years, and I asked him, “When does faithfulness to Jesus call us to lay aside our biases and when does it call us to stand beside them?” His answer to me was that it is not about being Catholic or Protestant. It is about being faithful to Jesus. The issue is not about which church you go to, it is about following Jesus where He leads you.”

rich 1The night that Rich died, he was traveling southbound on I-39 north of Bloomington, Illinois, to a benefit concert at Tabor College in Hillsboro, Kansas.

After this concert, he was to receive his first Holy Communion in the Catholic Church by Fr. McGinness, vocations director of the Diocese of Wichita.

Rich Mullins is missed by all his friends and fans and his music continues to have a great impact in Christian Contemporary Music.

I respect the advice that was given to Rich, but that underlines a serious problem within Protestantism.

This has the heresy of “Indifferent-ism” written all over it. With indifferent-ism, there are no absolutes, truth becomes subjective.

I think that in it’s heart, it is a sincere attempt to respect people of varying faiths, but the Church that Jesus founded has absolute authority.

In matters of faith and morals, the Catholic Faith is responsible in safeguarding the “deposit of faith” that the Lord entrusted to it.

There is an interesting connection between this authority and the Saints in heaven. Revelation 5:8-10 states, “When he took it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each of the elders held a harp and gold bowls filled with incense, which are the prayers of the holy ones. They sang a new hymn: ‘Worthy are you to receive the scroll and to break open its seals, for you were slain and with your blood you purchased for God those from every tribe and tongue, people and nation. You make them a kingdom and priests for our God, and they will reign on earth.”

altarThe Saint’s prayers are represented by the incense offered to God and they are singing to the Lord who established the Church, making it a kingdom and the priests who serve the Lord will reign upon the earth.

That is taking place now in the current age and will continue until the Lord’s return at the Parousia.

Revelation 14 creates this very scene represented by the 144,000 Saints who sang the song of the Lamb.

Their voices were like the sound of rushing water of a loud peal of thunder. These Saints were not defiled by women, they were virgins who followed the Lamb.

Revelation 14:13 states, “I heard a voice from heaven say, ‘Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’ ‘Yes,’ said the Spirit, ‘let them find rest from their labors, for their works accompany them”. The prayers of these holy ones is a great fragrance to God. St. Paul writes (Ephesians 5:1-2), “So be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and handed himself over for us as a sacrificial offering to God for a fragrant aroma”.

jesus-christ-and-angels-in-heaven-wallpaperRevelation 8:3-4 states, “Another angel came and stood at the altar, holding a gold censor, along with the prayers of all the holy ones, on the gold altar that was before the throne. The smoke of the incense along with the prayers of the holy ones went up before God from the hand of the angel.”

The Altar before the throne according to 2 Corinthians 12:2 is the “third heaven” where the glory of the Lord pours out among all of creation.

The prayer of the Saints has great impact as there “were the peals of thunder, rumblins, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake (Rev 8:5).

It is at this scene that St. John records a vision stating, “Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant could be seen in the temple. There were flashes of lightning, rumblings, and peals of thunder, an earthquake, and a violent hailstorm. The ark of the covenant in this setting would be the Blessed Virgin Mary who by this time had Assumed into heaven (Revelation 12:1).

Angel-kneelThe Bible teaches us to invoke those in heaven and ask them to pray with us. Consider Psalms 103, we pray, “Bless the Lord, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, hearkening to the voice of his word! Bless the Lord, all his hosts, his ministers that do his will!” (Palms. 103:20-21).

And in Psalms 148 we pray, “Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord from the heavens, praise him in the heights! Praise him, all his angels, praise him, all his host!” (Palms. 148:1-2).

The real answer to give to those who wants you to think that the Catholic Faith created all this in 375 A.D. is that the Church had always valued the prayer and the memory of the Saints.

Maybe the idea of praying to the Saints is a bit strong for some Protestants so I like the idea of praying with the Saints who intercede on our behalf in their praises to God.

In our human nature, we are always looking for heroes. Football’s hall of fame is located in Canton Ohio, Basketball’s hall of fame is located in Springfield Massachusetts, Baseball’s hall of fame is located in Cooperstown, New York, the U.S. Military hall of fame is located in Petosky Michigan, and the Catholic Hall of Fame is located in Heaven.

Just as we honor some of the great sports legends and war heroes, we especially honor those who lived for God and are in Heaven.

prophet“Whoever receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and whoever receives a righteous man because he is righteous will receive a righteous man’s reward.” (Matthew 10:42)

James 5:16 states in part, “The fervent prayer of a righteous person is very powerful”, those in heaven at the throne of God has very important prayers offered up for us.

Hebrews 12:1 is the kicker, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us…”

November 1 is All Saints Day and November 2 is All Souls Day.   God’s glory radiates upon his people.

Father, All-Powerful and ever-living God, today we rejoice in the holy men and women of every time and place.  May their prayers bring us your forgiveness and love.  We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

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The Catholic Defender: Halloween Revisited

Posted by Donald Hartley - October 30th, 2015

TrHalloween 9ick or treat or not to trick or treat? That is the question!

There are many people who feel that Halloween is a demonic celebration, others believe that today Halloween is more of a secular holiday loaded with harmless fun for the family.

Some church groups use the occasion to have celebrations of harvest, while others use the occasion to conduct Judgement House which is a christian example of a haunted house.

Still,some churches put on some of the best “Haunted Houses” in the town.

Originally, Halloween was part of a Celtic festival based from a Celtic celebration known as “Sanhain”, meaning “for the harvest”. This was a period after summer and before winter.

Halloween 1The Pagan belief that at this time, the barrier between the living and the dead narrowed and opened.

This opening peaked on October 31, the spirits of the dead would come back and cause mischief destroying crops or haunting family members.

These superstitions may of had a basis from droughts or terrible hunger due to bad harvest seasons.

In time and space, the Catholic Church would branch out throughout the world. Many customs and traditions of the people were transformed to the gospel message as Christ light delivered them from darkness.

The Catholic Church institutes “All Saints Day” on November 1 to honor all the martyrs and Saints.

Because of the Christians veneration and honor of the Saints, October 31 became known as “All Hallows Eve”.

The Catholic Church continues to seek to promote Christ to a Pagan world where superstition and legends give way to the light of truth.

Christ is the Light of the World. By the 12th century, this celebration, “All Saints Day”, became very popular throughout Europe.

Halloween 2The intent of this major Feast Day, was to counter the Pagan practices of the Celtics and the “worship of the spirits”.

By the 16th century, with the advent of the Protestant Revolution, Halloween was attacked because of their opposition to the teaching on Purgatory.

In the 19th century, because of the Puritan influence, Halloween was viewed similarly like other Christian celebrations such as Christmas and Easter as Pagan.

Anti-Catholics particularly hold to this view. In America, Halloween was originally celebrated by Scottish and Irish immigrants that would host dinners and parties.

In the early going, because of the Protestant opposition in America, these celebrations were attacked by those who viewed these celebrations as evil.

Sometimes there were violence committed by the Protestants. Households would have their own celebrations where children would have games, pranks, and mischief.

Halloween 4By 1915, post cards began to feature hundreds of designs popularizing Halloween, the Dennison Manufacturing Company published the first Halloween catalog in 1909.

Soon afterward, Halloween began to emerge in America as a national Holiday. In our times, the practice of “Trick or Treat” is said to come from the old Pagan beliefs of offering gifts to the spirits so they would not harass the living or their crops.

English Christians began a custom on “All Souls Day”, November 2, where the faithful would take “soul” cakes and give them to the hungry, many suffering from starvation.

Out of gratitude, the poor would offer prayers for the family heritage of those offering the blessing of the cakes.

What a wonderful tradition to foster aid to the poor and to develop prayer for the poor souls of Purgatory. Just this past two weeks, I was helping my college club “sife” raise 2500 lbs of food for the hungry in our area. What a blessing it is to help those in need!

The tradition of dressing up in costumes seems to originate in England, it was based from a Pagan belief that the spirits would haunt and torment living family members.

Halloween 6The people began the tradition of dressing up in costumes to hide from these spirits. For the Christian, we recognize Christ judges our hearts and will not be fooled by masks.

From the Christian experience, there is no connection to the earlier Pagan practice. The Jack-o-Lantern, originally seen with a tulip, originates in the United States due to the influx of Irish Immigrants in the latter 1840′s.

The pumpkins became popular because of their size and availability.

The legend begins with a wager between “Stingy Jack” and the Devil. Through a trick, the Devil had no rights for Jack’s soul, but Jack had to wonder aimlessly in Purgatory until that day when the Lord returns to judge the living and the dead.

Until that time, Jack travels endlessly in darkness.

Halloween 7The Devil gives him a chunk of burning coal from hell to provide Jack light. On October 31, Jack joins the other spirits to torment mankind.

It seems that witchcraft originally becomes associated with Halloween sometime before 1900, witches for a long time have been viewed like other fictitious characters such as Dracula, warewolves, Frankenstein, the Mummy, and hundreds of other monsters.

I’m a bit more apprehensive towards witchcraft because of the rise of the Wiccan movement today.

Harry Potter and company seems to have aided in peoples facination with the Occult and witchcraft. Many dress up in all kinds of costumes from movie characters, games, even Saints. All Christians would certainly oppose anything that involves the Devil or evil.

I remember in the 1980′s as I paid close attention to one of my favorite bands, “Petra”, it took a while for Christians to accept Christian Rock.

Halloween 8Some thought that the music was evil and from the Devil. The Catholic Faith has always been about taking Christ to the world where they can see him!

Halloween, even though there might be a demonic reality to October 31st, this has nothing to do with the harmless fun people give to Halloween. (Editors note) My point I am making here is that in no way are the vast majority of Americans who participate in Halloween activities are taking part in any Pagan, or Occultic rituals as some have proclaimed. The major concern continues to be that families go where it is safe to do so and follow the guidelines of their local establishments.

Because there are deranged individuals who prey upon the innocence, it is best to “trick or treat” in safe neighborhoods, church sponsored events, school lead events, even shopping malls that offer a safe environment for children.

Parents must be with their children at all times as they go house to house. Mom and Dad, as you plan to take your children out to have a good time, please give them the foundation of our holy Catholic Faith. If you do, you will be giving them a firm foundation.

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The Guardian Angel: Eucharistic Miracle Siena, Italy — 1730

Posted by Donald Hartley - October 28th, 2015

Pio 9Because there is such a treasure in our Faith and what was happening from the feet of Peter until the present day, even among all the evil that was attacking the church both externally and internally then and now, I will start adding as I can some of the great saints and theologians thoughts which are much greater than mine. Why, because Satan wants you to be distracted from the truth, and weaken your family and friends in every way possible to separate them from God for eternity. Bear everything in peace as ST. Padre Pio said, “and be vigilant, as our God is infinitely loving, and merciful and HE is in control, while our part is to follow Mary’s example and give ourselves totally to her Son.” Listen to the wisdom in the words of the holy Cure of Ars, “Let us, therefore, pray for the souls in Purgatory and free them from their pains by hearing many Holy Masses and having Masses celebrated. ‘All Good works taken together, cannot equal the value of one Holy Mass; because they are the works of men, whereas Holy Mass is the work of God.” That is Absolute Truth.

supper-at-emmaus-raneYet don’t be discouraged if you or your family and friends have a lack of understanding of the Mass or the Eucharist, that is nothing new, Christ’s closest friends didn’t understand. Remember Emmaus, where he walked with friends that did not recognize Him and they were confused and depressed. Their eyes were veiled, because of their lack of belief, and did not recognize Him until the breaking of the bread. Pray that you may see more and more, Trust in HIS Mercy and HE will not leave you an orphan, as it is HE who will open the eyes so that we will daily want to know, love, and serve HIM even more until we come into HIS presence for eternity. Now before the Eucharistic Miracle, let us start with one of the early Church Fathers on the Eucharist:

St_Ignatius_of_AntiochST. IGNATIUS OF ANTIOCH

St. Ignatius became the third bishop of Antioch, succeeding St. Evodius, who was the immediate successor of St. Peter. He heard St. John preach when he was a boy and knew St. Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna. Seven of his letters written to various Christian communities have been preserved. Eventually, he received the martyr’s crown as he was thrown to wild beasts in the arena.

“Consider how contrary to the mind of God are the heterodox in regard to the grace of God which has come to us. They have no regard for charity, none for the widow, the orphan, the oppressed, none for the man in prison, the hungry or the thirsty. They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they do not admit that the Eucharist is the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ, the flesh which suffered for our sins and which the Father, in His graciousness, raised from the dead.”

“Letter to the Smyrnaeans”, paragraph 6. circa 80-110 A.D.

“Come together in common, one and all without exception in charity, in one faith and in one Jesus Christ, who is of the race of David according to the flesh, the son of man, and the Son of God, so that with undivided mind you may obey the bishop and the priests, and break one Bread which is the medicine of immortality and the antidote against death, enabling us to live forever in Jesus Christ.”

Eucharist 2-”Letter to the Ephesians”, paragraph 20, c. 80-110 A.D.

“I have no taste for the food that perishes nor for the pleasures of this life. I want the Bread of God which is the Flesh of Christ, who was the seed of David; and for drink I desire His Blood which is love that cannot be destroyed.”

-”Letter to the Romans”, paragraph 7, circa 80-110 A.D.

“Take care, then who belong to God and to Jesus Christ – they are with the bishop. And those who repent and come to the unity of the Church – they too shall be of God, and will be living according to Jesus Christ. Do not err, my brethren: if anyone follow a schismatic, he will not inherit the Kingdom of God. If any man walk about with strange doctrine, he cannot lie down with the passion. Take care, then, to use one Eucharist, so that whatever you do, you do according to God: for there is one Flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ, and one cup in the union of His Blood; one altar, as there is one bishop with the presbytery and my fellow servants, the deacons.”

Eucharistic Miracle Siena, Italy — 1730

siena 1The second Eucharistic miracle of Siena has roots in the 13th century when special services and festivities were introduced in honor of the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. These observances became traditional and were still conducted at the time of the miracle. So it was that on August 14, 1730, during devotions for the vigil of the feast, while most of the Sienese population and the clergy of the city were attending these services, thieves entered the deserted Church of St. Francis. Taking advantage of the friars’ absence, they made for the chapel where the Blessed Sacrament was kept, picked the lock to the tabernacle and carried away the golden ciborium containing consecrated Hosts.

The theft went undiscovered until the next morning, when the priest opened the tabernacle at the Communion of the Mass. Then later, when a parishioner found the lid of the ciborium lying in the street, the suspicion of sacrilege was confirmed. The anguish of the parishioners forced the cancellation of the traditional festivities for the feast of Our Lady’s Assumption. The Archbishop ordered public prayers of reparation, while the civil authorities began a search for the consecrated Hosts and for the scoundrel who had taken them.

siena 3Two days later, on August 17, while praying in the Church of St. Mary of Provenzano, a priest’s attention was directed to something white protruding from the offering box attached to his prie dieu. Realizing that it was a Host, he informed the other priests of the church, who in turn notified the Archbishop and the friars of the Church of St. Francis.

When the offering box was opened, in the presence of local priests and the representative of the Archbishop, a large number of Hosts were found, some of them suspended by cobwebs. The Hosts were compared with some unconsecrated ones used in the Church of St. Francis, and proved to be exactly the same size and to have the same mark of the irons upon which they were baked. The number of Hosts corresponded exactly to the number the Franciscan friars had estimated were in the ciborium — 348 whole Hosts and six halves.

priestchaliceSince the offering box was opened but once a year, the Hosts were covered with the dust and debris that had collected there. After being carefully cleaned by the priests, they were enclosed in a ciborium and placed inside the tabernacle of the main altar of the Church of St. Mary. The following day, in the company of a great gathering of townspeople, Archbishop Alessandro Zondadari carried the Sacred Hosts in solemn procession back to the Church of St. Francis.

During the two centuries that followed it has sometimes been wondered why the Hosts were not consumed by a priest during Mass, which would have been the ordinary procedure in such a case. While there is no definite answer, there are two theories. One explanation is that crowds of people from both Siena and neighboring cities gathered in the church to offer prayers of reparation before the sacred particles, forcing the priests to conserve them for a time. The other reason the priests did not consume them might well have been because of their soiled condition. While the Hosts were superficially cleaned after their discovery, they still retained a great deal of dirt. In such cases it is not necessary to consume consecrated Hosts, but it is permitted to allow them to deteriorate naturally, at which time Christ would no longer be present.

sign 8To the amazement of the clergy, the Hosts did not deteriorate, but remained fresh and even retained a pleasant scent. With the passage of time the Conventual Franciscans became convinced that they were witnessing a continuing miracle of preservation.

Fifty years after the recovery of the stolen Hosts, an official investigation was conducted into the authenticity of the miracle. The Minister General of the Franciscan Order, Father Carlo Vipera, examined
the Hosts on April 14, 1780, and upon tasting one of them he found it fresh and incorrupt.  Since a number of the Hosts had been distributed during the preceding years, the Minister General ordered that the
remaining 230 particles be placed in a new ciborium  and  forbade further distribution.

A more detailed investigation took place in 1789 by Archbishop Tiberio Borghese of Siena with a number of theologians and other dignitaries. After examining the Hosts under a microscope, the commission declared that they were perfectly intact and showed no sign of deterioration. The three Franciscans who had been present at the previous investigation, that of 1780, were questioned under oath by the Archbishop. It was then reaffirmed that the Hosts under examination were the same ones stolen in 1730.

Eucharistic Miracle. 2As a test to further confirm the authenticity of the miracle, the Archbishop, during this 1789 examination, ordered several unconsecrated hosts to be placed in a sealed box and kept under lock in the chancery office. Ten years later these were examined and found to be not only disfigured, but also withered. In 1850, 61 years after they were placed in a sealed box, these unconsecrated hosts were found reduced to particles of a dark yellow color, while the consecrated Hosts retained their original freshness.

Other examinations were made at intervals over the years, the most significant being that of 1914, undertaken on the authority of Pope St. Pius X. For this inquiry the Archbishop selected a distinguished panel of investigators, which included scientists and professors from Sienna and Pisa, as well as theologians and Church officials.

Eucharistic Miracles 0Acid and starch tests performed on one of the fragments indicated a normal starch content. The conclusions reached from microscopic tests indicated that the Hosts had been made of roughly sifted wheat flour, which was found to be well preserved.

The commission agreed that unleavened bread, if prepared under sterile conditions and kept in an airtight, antiseptically cleaned container, could be kept for an extremely long time. Unleavened bread prepared in a normal fashion and exposed to air and the activity of micro-organisms would remain intact for no more than a few years. It was concluded that the stolen Hosts had been both prepared without scientific precautions and kept under ordinary conditions which should have caused their decay more than a century before. The commission concluded that the preservation was extraordinary, “…e la scienza stessa che proclama qui lo straordinario.”

Eucharist d 3Professor Siro Grimaldi, professor of chemistry at the University of Siena and director of the Municipal Chemical Laboratory, as well as the holder of several other distinguished positions in the field of chemistry, was the chief chemical examiner of the holy particles in 1914. Afterward, he gave elaborate statements concerning the miraculous nature of the Hosts, and wrote a book about the miracle entitled Uno Scienziato Adora (A Scientific Adorer). In 1914 he declared:

The holy Particles of unleavened bread represent an example of perfect preservation … a singular phenomenon that inverts the natural law of the conservation of organic material. It is a fact unique in the annals of science.

In 1922 another investigation was conducted — this one in the presence of Cardinal Giovanni Tacci, who was accompanied by the Archbishop of Siena and the Bishops of Montepulciano, Foligno and Grosseto. Again the results were the same: the Hosts tasted like unleavened bread, were starchy in composition and were completely preserved.

In 1950 the miraculous Hosts were taken from the old ciborium and placed in a more elaborate and costly one, which caught the eye of another thief. Thus, despite the precautions of the clergy, another sacrilegious theft occurred on the night of August 5, 1951. This time the thief was considerate enough to take only the container and left the Hosts in a corner of the tabernacle. After counting 133 Hosts, the Archbishop himself sealed them in a silver ciborium. Later, after being photographed, they were placed in an elaborate container which replaced the one that had been stolen.

Eucharist 6The miraculously preserved Hosts are displayed publicly on various occasions, but especially on the 17th of each month, which commemorates the day they were found after the first theft in 1730. On the feast of Corpus Christi the Sacred Hosts are placed in their processional monstrance and triumphantly carried in procession from the church through the streets of the town, an observance in which the whole populace

Among many distinguished visitors who have adored the Hosts was St. John Bosco. They were likewise venerated by Pope John XXIII, who signed the album of visitors on May 29, 1954, when he was still the Patriarch of Venice. And although unable to visit the miraculous Hosts, Popes Pius X, Benedict XV, Pius Xl and Pius Xll issued statements of profound interest and admiration.

siena 5With a unanimous voice, the faithful, priests, bishops, cardinals and popes have marveled at and worshiped the holy Hosts, recognizing in them a permanent miracle, both complete and perfect, that has endured for over 250 years.

By this miracle the Hosts have remained whole and shiny, and have maintained the characteristic scent of unleavened bread. Since they are in such a perfect state of conservation, maintaining the appearances of bread, the Catholic Church assures us that although they were consecrated in the year 1730, these Eucharistic Hosts are still really and truly the Body of Christ. The miraculous Hosts have been cherished and venerated in the Basilica of St. Francis in Siena for over 250 years.

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The Catholic Defender: The 25 Verses Of Saint Jude

Posted by Donald Hartley - October 24th, 2015

Jude1 Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James, to those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ:

2 May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.

3 Beloved, being very eager to write to you of our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.

4 For admission has been secretly gained by some who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly persons who pervert the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

5 Now I desire to remind you, though you were once for all fully informed, that he who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe.

6 And the angels that did not keep their own position but left their proper dwelling have been kept by him in eternal chains in the nether gloom until the judgment of the great day;

7 just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise acted immorally and indulged in unnatural lust, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.

8 Yet in like manner these men in their dreamings defile the flesh, reject authority, and revile the glorious ones.

Michael 19 But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, disputed about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a reviling judgment upon him, but said, “The Lord rebuke you.”

10 But these men revile whatever they do not understand, and by those things that they know by instinct as irrational animals do, they are destroyed.

11 Woe to them! For they walk in the way of Cain, and abandon themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam’s error, and perish in Korah’s rebellion.

12 These are blemishes on your love feasts, as they boldly carouse together, looking after themselves; waterless clouds, carried along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted;

13 wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars for whom the nether gloom of darkness has been reserved for ever.

14 It was of these also that Enoch in the seventh generation from Adam prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord came with his holy myriads,

15 to execute judgment on all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness which they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”

16 These are grumblers, malcontents, following their own passions, loud-mouthed boasters, flattering people to gain advantage.

jesus_washing_apostles_feet_parson_l17 But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ;

18 they said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.”

19 It is these who set up divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit.

20 But you, beloved, build yourselves up on your most holy faith; pray in the Holy Spirit;

21 keep yourselves in the love of God; wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.

22 And convince some, who doubt;

23 save some, by snatching them out of the fire; on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.

24 Now to him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you without blemish before the presence of his glory with rejoicing,

Jude 725 to the only God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and for ever. Amen.

St. Jude was one of the original Apostles who followed the call of Jesus, traditionally recognized as one of the cousins of the Lord, St. Jude was identified as one of the “brothers” of the Lord. Matthew 13:55

St. Jude’s Mother, Mary, the wife of Clopas (Mark 15:40, John 19:25) was at the crucifixion scene and also a close relative of the Virgin Mary. Cousins were close relatives that are regarded as brothers in the New Testament. Tradition also says that Clopas was a brother of St. Joseph.

St. James, one of the Apostles, Joses, Judas, and Simon were brothers of St. Jude. The name Jude means to be a giver of joy, Thaddeus is a name associated with St. Jude means generous and kind.

St. Jude is often depicted with an ax or club that indicates his martyrdom. It was about 65 A.D. while in Persia or Syria, he received the crown of being a martyr. Today, little has changed as the attack on the Church has been renewed by Islamic militants. St. Jude’s remains were brought back to Rome where he lies beneath St. Peter’s Basilica and is visited by people the world over.

St. Jude is often seen carrying an image of Jesus close to his chest. There is a unique connection to the Shroud of Turin, the burial cloth of Jesus, King Abgar of Edessa (Turkey) was suffering from leprosy prayed for Jesus to heal him. With the Shroud of Jesus, King Abgar touched the image and was completely cured. The image of Jesus left on the Shroud has been a great source of interest with the scientific scrutiny given it. The Shroud has a negative affect when seen with the naked eye. When photographed, there is the positive effect.

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The Catholic Defender: St Maria Goretti’s Forgiveness Of Alessandro Serenelli.

Posted by Donald Hartley - October 22nd, 2015

Pope Pius XII once wrote, “It is often said almost with passive resignation that fashions reflect the customs of a people. But it would be more exact and much more useful to say that they express the decision and moral direction that a nation intends to take: either to be shipwrecked in licentiousness or maintain itself at the level to which it has been raised by religion and civilization.”

It does not take long for anyone today to see how the Western culture has declined attacking religion, family, and society. Young people imitate whom they admire and the grow towards those whom they imitate.

Why is the media silent concerning the dangers of sexually transmitted disease, why does the media support left wing agendas such as abortion and homosexuality?

Yet, we see an attack on religious faith in America.

Little Jacita of Fatima said, “Fashions will much offend our Lord. People who serve God should not follow the fashions”. Jacinta also said, “The sins which cause most souls to go to hell are the sins of the flesh”.

This was given to her by the Blessed Virgin Mary who appeared to the Children of Fatima.

When you do a study about domestic violence, especially violence directed towards women, they become a random statistic.

Every 2 minutes someone is sexually assaulted in the United States, 44% of them under the age of 18. 80% under the age of 30.  After watching a few episodes of ID, this is a horrific problem that is essentially a spiritual problem.  People are in essence walking dead.

There is something to say about the effect of pornography and immodest dress. Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery. But I say to you, everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:27).

Remember when former Governor Rick Perry first entered into the Republican Presidential Race (2012), he was challenged by Michele Bachmann because of his mandate in the State of Texas to give 12 year old girls and older a vaccine against HPV virus.

Recent studies have shown that women have been exposed and diagnose with a sexually transmitted disease at a rate of 1 in 4 down to the age of 12. This is an amazing statistic?

Governor Perry sought to safeguard these girls from the HPV Virus recognizing the threat as a serious problem.

One of the greatest role models in the early 20th century was a young girl named Maria Goretti. She was a 12 year old girl who was brutally murdered by Alessandro Serenelli.

Maria goretti’s Father had a lumber business with a partner, who had a son, Alessandro Serenelli, who was 20 years old at the time of the murder.

Maria’s Father had died and her Mother tried to hold up the business when Alessandro began to make sexual advances toward Maria, each time refusing him.

On July 5, 1902, Alessandro attacked Maria while she was at home. He tried to sexually seduce her but she refused crying, “No, no, Alessandro, God does not want it. It is a sin. You would go to hell for it”.

Maria had always been drawn to her Catholic Faith, she loved the Lord Jesus Christ. Alessandro stabbed her 14 times and left her there to die. Maria lived through the night and when the Priest asked her what she thought of Alessandro, her last words were: “I forgive him”.

Alessandro was sentenced to 30 years in prison when after 8 years he received a vision of St. Maria gathering lilies in a field. She turned to him and the lilies became radiant and she gave them to him. There were 14 lilies representing her 14 stab wounds.

This so much affected his life that he became a model prisoner and was released from Prison after 27 years time served. Pope Pius XII canonized St. Maria in 1950 with a huge crowd at the Vatican. Alessandro was among the vast throng who were there to honor St. Maria Goretti.

Pope Pius XII gave a stern warning to the world that has proved to be prophetic. The Pope warned that in the latter half of the 20th century, to be a Christian you would have to be a living martyr because the attacks on the family and faith will be so strong.

A great example of this can be seen at the New Hampshire Primary (2012) where former Senator Rick Santorum was speaking before a group of supporters when Gay Activists began to chant him down. Because Rick Santorum is a dedicated Catholic, the media has gone after his Catholic values.

The Obama administration has been waging a war against the Catholic Church in America. Former Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, another Republican Candidate for President of the United States (2012), referred specifically how the State of Massachusetts because of the Obama mandate for Homosexuals, took away the Catholic Church’s ability to help adoption of children because the Church does not recognize Gay parents.

Even though the Church had helped thousands of Children find homes, more than 50% of any other agency. The attack on religious liberty by the Progressives in our Country is tearing at the fabric of our society.

Unfortunately, many 12 year old girls today admire the likes of Lady GaGa, Madonna, who are far from modest. St. Maria Goretti should be a role model that encourages young people to follow and serve Our Lord Jesus Christ and His holy Catholic Church.

Consider the following two questions,“Girls, have you, in any manner whatsoever, made immodest use of your bodies to draw to yourself attention from the opposite sex? Boys, have you, by subtle means or otherwise, sought to induce a girl to sin? If so, you have made yourself an instrument of destruction to any soul you have tempted to sin gravely, since grave sin causes a soul to be lost forever (unforgiven-unconfessed in Confession). You have made yourself an actual companion of Satan, who has vowed to destroy every soul, every temple of God, he possible could”.

St. Paul warns, “Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for the temple of God, which you are, is holy” (1 Corinthians 3:16-17).

In repeating what Pope Pius XII said, “It is often said almost with passive resignation that fashions reflect the customs of a people.” And remember little Jacita’s warning, “Fashions will much offend our Lord. People who serve God should not follow the fashions”. Jacinta also said, “The sins which cause most souls to go to hell are the sins of the flesh.”

Plato once said, “Musical innovation is full of danger to the State, for when modes of music change, the laws of the State always change with them.” Plato’s Republic: The Theatre of the Mind

America is not innocent, we knew what the effect of the Democratic Party and the Obama Administration would be.  As a nation, we have chosen the direction our Country is following.  We are turning farther and farther away from our Judeo/Christian roots.

Remember Alessandro, years later, after serving as a Capuchin Monk, would say, “I am an old man, almost eighty, nearing the end of my days. Looking back over the past, I realize how, as a youth, I set out on the wrong road, the way of evil, which led me to ruin. I was persuaded to believe-by what I read in the press, or saw in shows, or noticed in bad example of some-that many young men follow that path without giving it much thought. And I, too, did not let it bother me. There were around me those who believed in and practiced goodness and virtue, but blinded by the brute force which pushed me onto the way of evil, I committed, at the age of twenty, the passionate crime which today fills me with horror just to remember. Maria Goretti, now a saint, was the good angel that Providence had sent before my steps to save me. I still bear, imprinted on my heart, her words of reproof and pardon. She prayed for me. She interceded for me, her murderer. Thirty years in prison followed. Had I not been a minor, I would have been condemned for life. But I accepted my well-deserved sentence, resigned to expiating my sin. Little Maria was truly my light, my protectress. With her help I conducted myself well and tried to live honorably when society again accepted me among its members. The sons of St. Francis, the Friars Minor (Capuchin) of the Marches, with seraphic charity, have received me among them, not as a servant, but as a brother. I have been living with them since 1936. And now I serenely await the moment of my being admitted to the vision of God, of again embracing my loved ones, of being near my angelic protector and her dear Mamma, Assunta. Those who read this letter will, I hope, take from it the lesson of fleeing evil and of always following the good, even from childhood. Let them realize that religion, with its precepts, is something one cannot affort to do without. It is a true comfort and the only secure way in all the circumstances of life, even the saddest. Peace and goodness. Alessandro Serenelli.”

There is so much that Alessandro says in his farewell letter. Some people seem to have to learn the hard way, if they ever learn at all.

One thing that Alessandro says that is so true, we are to avoid evil, to flee from it. 1 Peter 5:8-10 warns, “Be sober and vigilant. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in faith, knowing that your fellow believers throughout the world (The Catholic Church) undergo the same sufferings. The God of all grace who called you to his eternal glory through Christ Jesus will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you after you have suffered a little. To him be dominion forever. Amen.


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The Catholic Defender: Spirits, Ghosts, and Saints, Are They All The Same?

Posted by Donald Hartley - October 22nd, 2015

Jesus walking on waterNovember 2nd is “All Souls Day” and so the past few days this subject about life after death has been playing on my mind, I’ve been pondering to put this article together, and what really lead me to do so was reading this Gospel Reading.

Matthew 14:22-33 states, “After he had fed the people, Jesus made the disciples get into a boat and precede him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. After doing so, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When it was evening he was there alone. Meanwhile the boat, already a few miles offshore, was being tossed about by the waves, for the wind was against it. During the fourth watch of the night, he came toward them walking on the sea. When the disciples saw him walking on the sea they were terrified. “It is a ghost,” they said, and they cried out in fear. At once Jesus spoke to them, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” Peter said to him in reply, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw how strong the wind was he became frightened; and, beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught Peter, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” After they got into the boat, the wind died down. Those who were in the boat did him homage, saying, “Truly, you are the Son of God.”

Jesus pulling Peter up“Truly, you are the Son of God”! What a scene, can you imagine what you might of thought if you were among the Apostles? Would you have thought this image walking on the water midst the storm a Ghost as the Apostles themselves exclaimed? Did the Apostles really even believed in ghosts? What would you have thought if you witnessed Jesus walking on the water?, Obviously, this was all beyond human understanding.

Jesus is not a ghost, he is the “Son of God” as the Apostles finally concluded from the scene.

At the time before the Resurrection of the Lord, Spirits of the dead were not able able to enter into heaven. 1 Peter 3:18-21 states, “For Christ also suffered for sins once, the righteous for the sake of the unrighteous, that he might lead you to God. Put to death in the flesh, he was brought to life in the spirit. In it he also went to preach to the spirits in prison, who had once been disobedient while God patiently waited in the days of Noah during the building of the Ark, in which a few persons, eight in all, were saved through water. This prefigured baptism, which saves you now”.

These Spirits were alive, they were not dead as if they were simply waiting for the end of time. They were alive in this State that was called Sheol, or the Netherworld.

purgatory 3Consider the following: 1 Samuel 28: 8-19 states, “So he (King Saul) disguised himself, putting on other clothes, and set out with two companions. They came to the woman by night (The Witch of Endor), and Saul said to her, Tell my fortune through a ghost; conjure up for me the one I ask you to. But the woman answered him, You are surely aware of what Saul has done, in driving the mediums and fortune-tellers out of the land. Why, then, are you laying snares for my life, to have me killed? But Saul swore to her by the Lord, As the Lord lives, you shall incur no blame for this. Then the woman asked him, Whom do you want me to conjure up? and he answered, Samuel. When the woman saw Samuel, she shrieked at the top of her voice and said to Saul, Why have you deceived ME? You are Saul! But the King said to her, Have no fear. What do you see? The woman answered Saul, I see a preternatural being rising from the earth. What does he look like? asked Saul. And she replied, It is an old man who is rising, clothed in a mantle. Saul knew that it was Samuel, and so he bowed face to the ground in homage. Samuel then said to Saul, Why do you disturb me by conjuring me up? Saul replied: I am in great straits, for the Philistines are waging war against me and God has abandoned me. Since he no longer answers me through prophets or in dreams, I have called you to tell me what I should do.

To this Samuel said: But why do you ask me, if the Lord has abandoned you and is with your neighbor? The Lord has done to you what he foretold through me: he has torn the kingdom from your grasp and has given it to your neighbor David. Because you disobeyed the Lord’s directive and would not carry out his fierce anger against Amalek, the Lord has done this to you today. Moreover, the Lord will deliver Israel, and you as well, into the clutches of the Philistines. By tomorrow you and your sons will be with me, and the Lord will have delivered the army of Israel into the hands of the Philistines”.

purgatory 52 Kings 13:21 there is another interesting story that occurred when a band of Moabites were conducting a raid in Israel. Some people were in the process of burying a man when they witnessed the raid. In fear, they tossed the dead man into the grave of Elisha and they took off for fear. When the dead man came into contact with the bones of Elisha, “he came back to life and rose to his feet”. Now, the text does say that “everyone went off”, was it for fear of the Moabites or was it from Elisha (2 Kings 13:21)?

Mark 9:2-10 states, “After six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves. And he transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no fuller on earth could bleach them. The Elijah appeared to them along with Moses, and they were conversing with Jesus. Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, Rabbi, it is good that we are here! Let us make three tents: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah. He hardly knew what to say, they were so terrified. Then a cloud came, casting a shadow over them; then from the cloud came a voice, This is my beloved Son. Listen to him. Suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone but Jesus alone with them. As they were coming down from the mountain, he charged them not to relate what they had seen to anyone, except when the Son of Man had risen from the dead. So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what rising from the dead meant.”

transfiguationThe examples of Samuel, Elisha, Moses and Elijah shows that the Spirits of the dead were alive, waiting for the Resurrection. Consider Matthew 27:51-53, “And behold, the veil of the sanctuary was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth quaked, rocks were split, tombs were opened, and the bodies of MANY saints who had fallen asleep were raised. And coming forth from their tombs after his resurrection, they entered the holy city (Jerusalem) and appeared to many”. Wow, think about that Scene!

From the Resurrection of Jesus, many spirits were released from this “prison” and they entered the heavenly host. But this State, this prison was not completely done away with. Matthew states that many were released, but not all. This State in the New Testament is called Purgatory, it is a temporary state that spirits of the dead go through a purging process to enter heaven, these are saved. They are not damned.

Today, there are a lot of people who believe in ghosts, there are a lot of movies that entertain us about ghosts, there are literally ghost chasers who travel with high tech equipment searching for energy they can detect. Recently, while I was visiting Tombstone Arizona, I took my Grandson, Matthew, to see the sights and plays of what it was like in the old west. At the end of the day, there was this tour that tells of ghosts who have been seen from the time when Tombstone was a boom silver town in the early 1880′s.

ghostsWe went with a small group and took the tour and the tour guide presented their story of ghosts that still are known to be there. If you go there today, you can take that tour and actually participate with one of the shows where they have equipment that they tell you shows ghosts being present. For me, this was simply entertainment, but I think some really believe this stuff. So I played along. In doing this, there was no witchcraft taking place, nor were there any kind of seances, that would have been my invitation to leave.

The hosts of the event placed flashlights on a table nearby in front of us, they set up their equipment and from that, turned off all the lights. I have always felt that manifestations of ghosts were basically demonic impersonations, that was how I always have viewed those that could be supernatural. This particular evening, it was my Grandson and I that were present, and I asked the hosts if they had ever encountered anything that could be violent? They replied no, that they would not go anywhere that something evil or violent was known.

Just asking them questions, I was interested if they thought that ghosts were trapped in another dimension. That’s when one of the flashlights popped on without anyone touching the flashlight. I looked around wondering how they did that? The host informed me that a ghost was giving an affirmation to that question. Then the flashlight turned itself off. Well, this lead me to ask further questions. I asked a question concerning if these ghosts were able to transport throughout the world, or are they exclusively there in Tombstone. What sounded like static on their speakers seemed to imply no, they were not able to move about freely.

flashlightI asked if these “ghosts” were part of purgatory, if there was a connection some how and the flashlight turned on again. I really began to share a lot of scripture just to see how the hosts thought about that. It would seem that the ghosts were happy about the scriptures I was sharing. I shared 1 Corinthians 2:9, “What eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, and what has not entered the human heart, what God has prepared for those who love him…” It was interesting, this flashlight would turn on and off another time and finally, there was another flashlight on the table before us that did the same thing. When the presentation was done, I examined the flashlights and I was stumped how those lights turned itself on and off like that. It wasn’t possible that someone was personally doing that, there had to be some kind of gimmick they had, but for entertainment value, I couldn’t figure that out.

The hosts actually record all these presentations and they were very positive about this session. As Christians, it is important that we understand that when a person dies, their soul lives on. A ghost, if it should be a true miracle of God, a true manifestation, we are not to use occult means: “All forms of divination are to be rejected: recourse to Satan or demons, conjuring up the dead or other practices falsely supposed to “unveil” the future. Consulting horoscopes, astrology, palm reading, interpretation of omens and lots, the phenomena of clairvoyance, and recourse to mediums all conceal a desire for power over time, history, and, in the last analysis, other human beings, as well as a wish to conciliate hidden powers. They contradict the honor, respect, and loving fear that we owe to God alone” (CCC 2116).

lucifer-angel-of-light-0022 Corinthians 11:14-15 gives this warning, “And no wonder, for even Satan masquerades as an angel of light. So it is not strange that his ministers also masquerade as ministers of righteousness. Their end will corresponds to their deeds.”

1 John 4:1 gives this teaching, “Beloved, do not trust every spirit but test the spirits to see whether they belong to God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” This for me is the overriding factor. I do not know of any sighting of ghosts that the Church has endorsed. There are Saints who are in heaven that have been seen, but these are not ghosts trapped in a time warp or other dimension. At best, then, the idea of ghosts might fall into the category called, Opinio tolerata, which are beliefs with a very low degree of theological certainty, but tolerated by the Church. So, are ghosts simply disembodied spirits? That is any incorporeal supernatural being that can become visible (or audible) to human beings… Are they saved spirits waiting for the General Judgement? The whole question is more problematic as I do not see a lot of spiritual benefit.

The real question is the Communion of Saints, those spirits who have made it to their heavenly reward. The Saints are sometimes the focus by anti-Catholics, they will challenge you to why you pray to dead people?

I find this a very interesting development coming from people who might believe in the Resurrection of Jesus. How can you believe in the resurrection of Jesus and not recognize the power that it represents?

moses 1Luke 20:37-38 states, “That the dead will rise even Moses made known in the passage about the bush, when he called ‘Lord’ the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; and he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.”

The Saints in heaven are like the angels, they can no longer die. At the General Judgement, the body will rise again as did Jesus, and the soul and the body will be reunited, we will have a glorified body.

1 Corinthians 15:51-52 states, “Behold, I tell you a mystery. We shall not all fall asleep, but we will all be changed, in an instant, in the blink of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” One of the signs the Lord gives us are the many Saints whose bodies have not decayed in the normal natural process. Their bodies are called “incorruptible” as if they are waiting for the resurrection of the dead.

But, until that time comes, the soul continues to live on. In heaven, they make up the great cloud of witnesses who are caught up to the third heaven. Here, at the Altar of God, Tobit 12:12 States, “I (the angel Raphael) can now tell you that when you, Tobit, and Sarah prayed, it was I who presented and read the record of your prayer before the Glory of the Lord (Revelation 5:8/8:3-4); and I did the same thing when you used to bury the dead.”

Revelation 5:8 states, “When he took it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each of the elders held a harp and gold bowls filled with incense, which are the prayers of the holy ones.”

cloud-incense-prayerRevelation 8:3-5 states, “Another angel came and stood at the altar, holding a gold censer. He was given quantity of incense to offer, along with the prayers of all the holy ones, on the gold altar that was before the throne. The smoke of the incense along with the prayers of the holy ones went up before God from the hand of the angel. Then the angel took the censer, filled it with burning coals from the altar, and hurled it with burning coals from the altar, and hurled it down to the earth. There were pearls of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake.”

The Catholic Church is given the chrism by the Holy Spirit to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without the threat of error, it is impeccable because God is impeccable. People are not impeccable, but the Church is entrusted with infallibility that the Deposit of Faith will be preserved down to the final generation.

According to Father Daniel Maher, “The Catholic Church recognizes that the making of saints is ultimately God’s work. That is to say, only with the help of God’s grace can one who has received the universal call to holiness successfully respond to that call and enter into eternal life with God. The Church, however, is entrusted with the responsibility of acknowledging those whose lives have been exemplary models of holiness and heroic virtue. This acknowledgment of holiness serves the mission of the Church by edifying and encouraging the faithful, while also pointing to powerful intercessors who can assist us on our journey towards eternal life.”

What a great joy it is for the Church to remember the Catholic Hall of Fame who are in heaven. The Church Triumphant.

bernadetteThe Saints are those who are recognized as being heaven’s Catholic Hall of Fame. Their stories of how God worked in their lives are an inspiration, they are great role models that encourages us to stay the course of faith.

So, at the end of the day, the Spirits who lived in the Old Testament, we were not damned, many of them are in heaven. There are many since the resurrection of Christ who are in heaven in perfect happiness. In purgatory, there are those who are awaiting for their entrance into heaven, we can pray for those in Purgatory as those in heaven can pray for us. This is the communion of Saints. The question of ghosts, well, I’ll leave that for entertainment and leave it at that. Go with what we know for sure!

As the Saints pray for us, the Church Militant, let us remember to prayer for those in Purgatory, the Church Suffering.  Let charity and love prevail in our hearts.

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The Catholic Defender: The Five Sullivans

Posted by Donald Hartley - October 21st, 2015

Sullivans 1Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 states, “There is an appointed time for everything, and a time for every affair under the heavens. A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to uproot the plant. A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to tear down, and a time to build. A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance. A time to scatter stones, and a time to gather them; a time to embrace, and a time to be far from embraces. A time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away. A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to be silent, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time for peace.”

Parents are called to teach and instruct their children giving them a strong foundation in the Faith. “Decide today whom you will serve… As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15)

Sullivans 3This is the foundation that Thomas and Alleta Sullivan had built within their family.

The Sullivans were a strong faithful Catholic family who were followers of Jesus Christ from the very beginning of their marriage. Perhaps they were the typical family living in middle America, Waterloo Iowa.

Thomas Sullivan worked as a freight conductor on the Illinois Central Railroad that gave the family support during the Great Depression, while his wife Alleta was the nest builder. She had five sons and one daughter raising them as strong Catholics.

Their sons George, Francis, Joseph, Madison, and Albert, grew up at a time when family life in America was centered on faith and patriotism. Their sister, Genevieve learned from her mother what a Christian woman was to be.

Being typical boys, they would be involved with everything, rebuilding a boat to have fun sailing, even if it did sink, running up a tower to watch their Father passing by on the train, they were close as brothers.

Philippians 3:17 states, “Join with others in being imitators of me, brothers, and observe those who thus conduct themselves according to the model you have in us.” St. Paul is giving us the call to follow holiness, first to follow the example of the Apostles, the first followers of the Lord. We are to imitate their example of proclaiming liberty setting the captives free.

sullivan2Growing up, the boys worked at Waterloo’s Rath Packing Co living the American dream.

Al, the youngest son, was the only one of the brothers that married and has a young son.

On December 7, 1941 the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and with the news of a close friend’s death all five brothers enlisted in the Navy on January 3, 1942 getting the opportunity to serve together.

The ranks of the brothers were: George Thomas Sullivan, Gunner’s Mate Second Class, Francis “Frank” Henry Sullivan, Coxswain, Joseph “Joe” Eugene Sullivan, Seaman Second Class, Madison “Matt” Abel Sullivan, Seaman Second Class, Albert “Al” Leo Sullivan, Seaman Second Class.

Despite the Navy’s policy of not having close relatives serve in the same unit, the five Sullivans were granted to serve together and all five served on the light cruiser USS Juneau (CL-52).

Following a number of skirmishes during the months long Battle of Guadalcanal, it was on 13 November 1942 that the Juneau was struck by a Japanese torpedo.

Crippled, the Juneau was forced to withdraw leaving the Solomon Islands where it was hit by a second Japanese submarine torpedo.

Sullivan 5This second torpedo did the damage, the ship sank quickly.

Nearly 700 men aboard the Juneau died in the attack.  For eight days Sailors waited in the cold Pacific until rescue teams found ten survivors who reported of the Sullivans;  Frank, Joe, and Matt died instantly, Al drowned the next day, and  George, badly wounded  hung on to life climbed on a life raft and survive four or five days before slipping into shark-infested waters.

Despite the fact that the Sullivan Brothers had died in middle November, their parents were not notified of their sons’ deaths until January.

This news was a crushing blow to the Sullivan family, Thomas and Alleta Sullivan began touring the country to help raise war bonds making appearances at defense plants, shipyards and bond rallies so that their loss would not be in vain.

No other family in American history has suffered a wartime loss like that of Waterloo’s Sullivan family.  With the aftermath of the death of the Sullivans, the US War Department adopted the Sole Survivor Policy.

Sullivan 4The Sullivan Brothers were paid the highest honor by the Navy by naming two destroyers after them.

The Sullivans (DDG-68) and The Sullivans (DD-537) were the first American navy ships ever to be named after more than one person. The motto of the Sullivan brothers, “We stick together” became the motto for the crews of the Battleships.

James Sullivan, Al Sullivan’s son, would follow his fathers footsteps and join the Navy.  He would serve on the USS The Sullivans and His grandmother (Alleta) christened the first ship.  Thomas had passed away in 1947 just five years after his son’s deaths.

The Sullivan’s sister, Genevieve served in the WAVES. She lost all five Brothers, and also a promised husband who died at Pearl Harbor.

I just watched for the first time the 1944 movie “The Sullivans” (later renamed The Fighting Sullivans) which inspired the 1998 movie, “Saving Private Ryan.”  President Franklin Roosevelt sent a letter of condolence to Tom and Alleta and Pope Pius XII sent a silver religious medal and rosary with his message of regret.   There have been many honors given the Sullivans for the bravery and honor the five brothers had demonstrated, but ultimately, the greatest reward comes from their Savior, Jesus Christ.

Sullivan-brothers-uss-JuneaMatthew 19:29 states, “And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands for the sake of my name will receive a hundred times more, and will inherit eternal life.”  

To give your life for your Country and pay the highest sacrifice for the love of God, family, and Country, the Lord promises, “For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love you have demonstrated for his name by having served and continuing to serve the holy ones.” (Hebrews 6:10)

All Powerful God, We honor today those men and women—Our sons and daughters, Husbands and wives, Fathers, brothers, sisters, mothers—Who have laid down their life for their country. Whether weary or emboldened, quiet or defiant, Vulnerable or ready when You called them home, Their sacrifice is too humbling for words except these uttered in prayer. Loving Lord, bless them forever in Your eternal peace. Let the sounds of strife, the cries of battle, the wounds of war be calmed for all eternity in Your loving and endless grace. Let these great warriors find rest at last, Ever reminded that we who are left behind Cherish their spirit, honor their commitment, send them our love, and will never forget the service that they gave. Amen.

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The Catholic Defender: Drums Among The Mohawks

Posted by Donald Hartley - October 17th, 2015

bs 1Recently, I was able to participate at a Marian Conference held in Blue Springs Missouri and St. Joseph’s Radio recorded a talk I gave entitled, “Drums Among The Mohawks” which is about the true story of St. John La Lande.

For me this was a great joy as it was a kind of home coming. I was baptized at age 4 there in 1960, I began grade school there in 1963, and I received my first Confession and Holy Communion there in 1964. I was also received my Confirmation there on September 28th, 1968 by Bishop Sullivan.

I dedicated my talk to my Mother who had passed away August 2006 before I deployed to Iraq in October. My Mother sacrificed greatly sending her children to St. John La Lande Catholic School in Blue Springs Missouri.

Drums among the Mohawks came to me as an idea because few people are aware of St. John La Lande. I assumed that St. John was related to the early Church, I never really knew much about him.

bs 2St. John La Lande was only 18 years old when he joined French Jesuit missionary, Father Isaac Jogues to go to the land of the Mohawks. As a young boy, St. John had been captivated by the heroine stories told of Father Jogues.

Father Jogues shared his tales and experiences of being a missionary among the Mohawks, bringing Christ and the gospel message to the people of the New World.

St. John’s enthusiasm to do God’s work was recognized by all who knew him, he spoke of the exploits of the missionaries who gave their lives as martyrs in Indian Territory and longed to go there.

Father Jogues originally arrived in North America for the first time in 1636 where he landed off the shore of Quebec. Father Jogues told his companion, Rene Goupil, “A century ago a Norman sea captain gave this place its name. He was on a ship here in the harbor, just as we are—only his ship was carrying the first white men to come up the Saint Lawrence River. When he saw the cliff there, the captain of that little ship was amazed. He cried out in his rough farmer’s French, ‘Que bec’ meaning ‘what a rock”.

The dangers among the Mohawks were well known. The Indians there were animist in their religious practice. They were polytheistic believing in many gods. Much of their rituals and ceremonies were superstitious.

The Sky-woman was to the Mohawk, their mother goddess who had fallen from the heavens through a hole in the sky.

bs 3The maple sapling and the flint were known as the “twin gods”, the maple represented the god of life and creator of humans, and the flint represented the god of death and destruction. These to the Mohawk were the birth of good and evil.

The Sky-holder was the teacher and the caretaker of the world.

The Thunders was called the “Hinon” who was the eldest brother of thunder and lightning.

Stonecoat was a giant believed to be hard as rock.

Flyinghead was a monster that appeared in the form of a giant disembodied head. This represented murder among the Mohawks.

Monster bear was a giant hairless bear that was connected to the creation of the big dipper in the night sky.

The Onyare, a dragon-like horned serpent that lived in the Great Lakes, feared for capsizing canoes and feeding on mankind.

The Tareya-wagon was the god who liberated the Mohawks from below the surface of the earth and led them to the Valley of the Mohawks on the surface of the earth.

bs 4The great peacemaker, a title given to Indian prophets like Hiawatha, these were the heroes of old among Mohawk legends.

To the Mohawk, religion was closely related to the natural world. There were rituals and ceremonials that were accompanied with the drums and dancing. Mohawk drums were typically filled with water giving them a unique percussion sound.

To the enemies of the Mohawk, they were a fierce people who specialized in torture and fighting. They instilled fear with the beating of the war drums heard coming from the mountains in the distance.

This was the reality and danger the missionaries encountered as they journey to reach out to the Mohawks with the gospel of Christ.

Father Jogues would be captured by the Mohawks in 1641 and was forced to run the “gauntlet” because the Iroquois blamed his chest of religious articles for causing a bad crop that year. The gauntlet was a form of Indian torture that few survived especially if the use of deadly weaponry were used.

bs 5The Indians would have their captives run between two lines of braves who might be armed with tomahawks, clubs, and knives. Sometimes clubs and sticks might be used for the fortunate ones. Well known settlers such as Daniel Boone, John Stark, and others ran the gauntlet.

Father Jogues wrote of his experience of running the gauntlet, “Before arriving at the Iroquois village we met the young men of the country, in a line armed with sticks… (Father Jogues and Companions were forced to walk slowly) for the sake of giving time to anyone who stuck us.”

Rene Goupil was not so fortunate as he would suffer martyrdom at the hands of the Mohawks. The Indians pulled out their hair and beards, Father Jogues right hand; his index finger (first digit) was literally burned while another finger was crushed by a warriors teeth.

Father Jogues would eventually be freed and returned home to France but he longed to return to the land of the Mohawks, all these stories were known by St. John La Lande who also wanted to go to the New World as a Missionary like Father Jogues. Finally, in 1646, St. John could hardly believe it that he would not only get the chance to go to Quebec, but to accompany Father Jogues on his second missionary journey.

To test the young 18 year old companion, Father Jogues asked St. John La Lande if he wanted to take this trip. Father Jogues personally didn’t believe he would survive this second time around. He warned St. John how others were permanently crippled and maimed even if they did survive. Father Jogues warned him, “If you have any fear, don’t come.”

bs 6None of this deterred St. John, his response was simply, “I’ll go with you”, so the mission was set.

On September 27, 1646, Father Jogues, John La Lande, and three Huron Indians set out from Quebec by canoe heading for the Mohawk village of Ossemenon. As they traveled, the Mohawk drums spoke through the canyons that they were on the warpath. Indian drums rang in the distance and two of the Huron Indian guides abandoned the missionaries fearing what was ahead of them.

Father Jogues and John La Lande would be captured; they were stripped, beaten, and taken to the village. In October 17, the Indians cut strips of flesh from Father Jogues neck and arms. Because of the Indian superstition, they blamed Father Jogues for an epidemic because of their religious items.

The Indians planned a mock feast inviting Father Jogues to attend one of the lodges where he was surrounded and attacked with tomahawks. He didn’t stand a chance. The Indians took the body of Father Jogues and paraded him throughout the village as a trophy. They ultimately decapitated the missionary priest.

bs 7St. John La Lande was separated from Father Jogues and placed in another lodge, when he learned of the Martyrs fate; St. John went out looking for the body only to suffer the same fate. St. John was martyred on 19 October, 1646.

Both Fr. Jogues and John La Lande were beaatified by Pope Pius XI on June 21, 1925 and canonized on June 29, 1930. St. John La Lande’s feast day is October 19, the day he was martyred.

The stories of the brave Jesuit missionaries had a large impact in the North Eastern wilderness. I was watching an episode of Daniel Boone, staring Fess Parker, with my Father. In this episode, Israel Boone, Daniel Boone’s son, saved his father’s life that had been bitten by a rattle snake.

I became curious about the story line of Israel Boone and wondered if he was a fictitious character or if he was really Daniel Boone’s son. I found out that not only did Israel really exist; his story really touched my heart.

bs 9Israel Boone died at the battle of Blue Licks, Fayerre Co., Ky which was the last Shawnee Indian victory of the Revolutionary war.

The American’s were attacked by 350 Indians and their allies causing a retreat to flee down a hill, they were quickly surrounded fighting hand-to-hand with other Indians who had surrounded them. Boone’s company was now surrounded and Boone ordered his men to retreat. He ordered his men to cross back over the river downstream while he continued to fight and cover his men. Daniel was able to grab a running horse and ordered his 23-year-old son, Israel Boone, to retreat. but out of love, Israel disobeyed. “Father, I won’t leave you,” As Daniel turned to look for a horse for himself, Israel suddenly fell to the ground when a musket ball caught him in the neck. Boone realizing Israel was dead, mounted the horse and joined in the retreat. Daniel would say that Israel’s death was the hardest blow he ever felt.

John LalandeWhat a joy it was to learn that Daniel’s father, Squire Boone was a convert to the Catholic Faith who had been a Quaker.

This means that Daniel Boone would have a Catholic background as well as family who were Quakers.

What a joy it is to find the Catholic Faith being spread about through those missionaries like Father Jogues and St. John La Lande to the Indians as well as the rank and file Catholics who bear witness every day to their homes and neighborhoods.

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The Catholic Defender: Pornography Destroys

Posted by Donald Hartley - October 15th, 2015

CD Mass 1It was August 22, 1984, I was rather anxious about this particular evening. The past year I was part of a Charter member of Council No 8410 (Harrison Arkansas), the Grand Knight was a good friend of mine, Walter Israel.

This evening was specific to me because I was being honored as “Knight of the Year” by the Council.

I was a committee chairman who was responsible for a number of volunteer work: orchestrating prolife events, conducting presentations on contemporary music, fighting pornography, fund raising, putting together the local bulletin, established a church softball team, organizing Christian music concerts for our youth, and several other tasks for the Council.

Looking back, I can see where the experience helped shape me from being an energetic young college guy to being a community organizer, a leader representing the Church. The fight against pornography was one that was very rewarding to me because of the impact we had for the community.

porn-ruins-marriageAt this time, pornography was working itself into the minute marts, the video stores, and ordinary outlets. I was able to get a number of these x-rated videos from such outlets and through the (then)Prosecuting Attorney, Gorden Webb.

We were successful in getting the pornography out of these stores. I would have women showing up to my door with pornography to give to me to help fight porn. They began finding this porn in their homes after discovering their husbands had been hiding it between the mattresses under their beds. So my name was getting out there in the public eye.

Letters to the editor began showing some discontent with the success we were having. There is no question that pornography plays a vital role in the destruction of the moral foundation of America, the moral decline of America.

Pornography has played a role in attacking marriage causing untold divorce. Romans 1:20-27 states, “Ever since the creation of the world, his invisible attributes of eternal power and divinity have been able to be understood and perceived in what he has made. As a result, they have no excuse; for although they knew God they did not accord him glory as God or give him thanks. Instead, they became vain in their reasoning, and their senseless minds were darkened. While claiming to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for the likeness of an image of mortal man or of birds or of four-legged animals or of snakes. Therefore, God handed them over to impurity through the lusts of their hearts for the mutual degradation of their bodies. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie and revered and worshiped the creature rather than the creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. Therefore, God handed them over to degrading passions. Their females exchanged natural relations for unnatural, and the males likewise gave up natural relations with females and burned with lust for one another. Males did shameful things with males and thus received in their own persons the due penalty for their perversity”.

pornoSo much of the Scripture speak of the poison that we place in the heart, the obvious results. Ephesians 5:1-5 warns, “So be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and handed himself over for us as a sacrificial offering to God for a fragrant aroma. Immorality or impurity or greed must not even be mentioned among you, as is fitting among holy ones, no obscenity or silly suggestive talk, which is out of place, but instead, thanksgiving. Be sure of this, that no immoral, or impure or greedy person, that is, an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God”.

During the middle 1990′s, while stationed at Ft. Campbell Kentucky, I became involved in a fight against pornography. There was a porn store opening up in the Clarksville community near a park, a school, and a church.

In a 90 day period, I would go stand at the sidewalk arm in arm with several other groups carrying signs saying “Pornography destroys”. I stood out there in the rain and heat making a difference in this fight.

I would bring my video camera which really thwarted many who did not want to be pictured in front of this store. The local college, Austin Peay University held a debate about pornography and my video camera became a sore subject of discussion for the pro-porn crowd.

porno 1We were able to get passed into legislation that no porn store could open up within 2,000 feet of a park, a school, or a church. “What it takes for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing”.

This is a major fight for the soul of America.

The past few years we have been conditioned by the media and the liberal outlets i.e. higher places of learning, judicial system, politicians with no backbone, and the destruction of the family contributes to the problem.

porn 2We are fast moving to a society that is seeing porn and homosexuality as rights while the Church is being pushed more and more into a corner. If we do not wake up soon, we may find ourselves in a very different America.

St. Paul encourages us writing, “Working together, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For he says: ‘In an acceptable time I heard you, and on the day of salvation I helped you’. Behold, now is a very acceptable time; behold now is the day of salvation”.

dth30Do not put off for tomorrow what should be done today. We need to strengthen our families, teach our youth the ways of the Lord or else they will fall into an others manipulation with impure motives.

It was an honor to have received this “Knight of the Year” award from among my peers but the fight is far from over. We must work to reverse the gains that the porn industry has made.

Women are enslaved by it, it creates an underworld where people lurk in the darkness destroying untold lives robbing them of their youth. Families are torn apart by human trafficking, this must be stopped and then defend laws that stand for true Justice.

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The Catholic Defender: Be The Miracle

Posted by Donald Hartley - October 15th, 2015

Water-pouringActs 2:17-21 states, “It will come to pass in the last days, God says, that I will pour out a portion of my spirit upon all flesh. Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, your old men shall dream dreams. Indeed, upon my servants and my handmaids I will pour out a portion of my spirit in those days, and they shall prophesy. And I will work wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below…”

Think about what Our Lord is saying here through the prophet Joel (Chapter 3) and St. Luke! Obviously this is great news.

First things first, “It will come to pass…” when your going through tough times it is great to know that things will pass and can get better. This is offering us hope! Proverbs 24:14 states, “Such, you must know, is wisdom to your soul. If you find it, you will have a future, and your hope will not be cut off.”

Our hope is in the Lord for Romans 12:12 states, “Rejoice in hope, endure in affliction, persevere in prayer.” “It will come to pass in the last days, God says, that I will pour out portion of my spirit upon all flesh.” That is good news, we are not orphaned.

Benedict_verbum_domini_front “Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy…” This is promised for the Church. God will use His servants to proclaim God’s word proclaiming liberty to the captives setting them free. “Be doers of the word and not hearers only, deluding yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his own face in a mirror. He sees himself, then goes off and promptly forgets what he looked like. But the one who peers into the perfect law of freedom and perseveres, and is not a hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, such a one shall be blessed in what he does.” James 1:22-25

The Lord is calling each and everyone of us to utilize His Spirit as He wills for us to accomplish.

Be the miracle that God brings to those who are captives. See God’s work in the natural as well as the supernatural happenings around you. When a teenager turns from drugs and accepts Confirmation, that is a miracle. When a woman decides to have her child for the love of her child, that is a miracle. When you give aid to the poor, God can work all kinds of wonders in the lives of those forsaken by society.

Visions“Your young men shall see visions…” we are known principally by three major ways. First, we are known by what we say. People will take what you say and watch you. Jesus warns, “A good person brings forth good out of a store of goodness, but an evil person brings forth evil out of a store of evil. I tell you, on the day of judgment people will render an account for every careless words they speak. By your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” Matthew 12:35-37

Not only are you being watched by your peers and acquaintances, but the Lord is very much involved and holding you accountable. So, you are known for what you say. Secondly, then you are also known for what you do. How does your actions follow along with your words? James 2:26 states, “For as a body without a spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.” Faith can move mountains, however, “He who is slack in his work is a brother to him who destroys.” Proverbs 18:9

Be the miracle that allows the Lord to work in your life. Proclaim good news to those around you by your praise of others and the good that you do. There is a third major thing that people will observe in you. Not only are you known for what you say and what you do, but your also known for the things you love. What is most evident in your life?

Be the miracle! When others around you show indifference, be committed, be faithful going to Mass each and every Sunday and holy day. Go during the week when you can. That is a great miracle of blessing. Your faithfulness speaks louder than words.

love_they_neighborFinally, Jesus told the Scribe, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.” Then Jesus says, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Mark 12:30-31

St. Paul says something than many of us can identify, most certainly yours truly, “Not that I say this because of need, for I have learned, in whatever situation I find myself, to be self-sufficient. I know indeed how to live in humble circumstances; I know also how to live with abundance. In every circumstance and in all things I have learned the secret of being well fed and of going hungry, of living in abundance and of being in need. I have the strength for everything through him who empowers me.”  Philippians 4:11-13

St. Luke is promising that you will be empowered (like St. Paul) by God with His Spirit giving us signs and wonders to encourage us and strengthen us.

Be the miracle that others might see the goodness of God in your life so that they will also come to desire the things of God. If you have not been practicing your Catholic Faith, if you have been sitting on the fence or even placing yourself in another pasture, please take another deeper look at Jesus and Mary and come home to the Faith that the Saints have given testimony throughout the ages.

For-God-So-Loved-The-World“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life”. John 3:16

Be the miracle, live out the Sacraments in your life, center yourself on Jesus and renew the Covenant with Him (Eucharist) to maintain your strength, and He will renew your strength.

O Lord, hear my cry pouring out from a troubled heart. The sorrow which clutches at my soul has driven me to You my protector, my True Friend in time of need. You know, my God, all my failings, my faults and my sins as well as the torment gripping my soul. My greatest sorrow should be for my disregard of Your holy commandments in the past, and I sincerely hope that you will grant me the grace of true contrition. O my Savior, hide not Your Face from me in this tribulation, let the light of Your Countenance shine upon me that I may be illuminated by Its love. If it be Your will, lighten this burden from me, yet should it be a means of my salvation, help me, help me O Lord, to carry this cross, for alone I can do nothing. Radiate Your love upon Your prodigal child O Lord, this beggar who knocks at Your door seeking shelter in Your Sacred Heart; this once proud earthen vessel made of clay seeks You, O Christ, and in a newly found faith, firmly believes that you will receive him in Your limitless Love and Mercy. Amen

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