- e5 Men (Catholic Website Classic of the Week)
- Time is like a River (Helpful Hints for Life)
Receiving the Gospel, Serving God and Neighbor
Prayer, FASTING, and Almsgiving
“"When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure
their faces to show men they are fasting.
I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.” (Matthew 6:16)
The three tools to truly change this Lent are prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Fasting must often be added to prayer.
When he entered the house, his disciples asked him in private, "Why could we not drive it (the demon) out?"
He said to them, "This kind can only come out through prayer and fasting." Mark 9:28-29
Food is the most primordial drives of the human being. If food is not available to someone, all other desires will be subordinated to it. So when one struggles with the sometimes disordered desires and passions of the human person, ordering the desire for food is one of the best places to start to gain strength to order the rest. We must master our passions or they master us.
Namely, fasting on bread and water at least once a week (a Wednesday or Friday is the best day) has been the practice along with prayer that have made saints and given countless people mastery over unruly passions (i.e. vices, bad habits, etc.). One can also fast by not eating in-between meals or saying no to sweets. Try this ‘hammer of the spiritual life’ and you will not be disappointed!
Peace and prayers in Jesus through Mary, loved by Saint Joseph,
P.S. This coming Sunday is the Laetare Sunday-Fourth Sunday of Lent. > > > Readings
- to abstain from food for a time
[From the first century Christians have observed fasting days of precept, notably during the season of Lent in commemoration of Christ's passion and death. In the early Church there was less formal precept and therefore greater variety of custom, but in general fasting was much more severe than in the modern Church. In the East and West the faithful abstained on fasting days from wine as well as from flesh-meat, both being permitted only in cases of weak health. The ancient custom in the Latin Church of celebrating Mass in the evening during Lent was partly due to the fact that in many places the first meal was not taken before sunset.]
Time is like a river. Enter Into Every Moment
You cannot touch the water twice, because the flow that has passed will never pass again. Enjoy every moment of life. As a Bagpiper, I play many gigs. Recently I was asked by a funeral director to play at a graveside service for a homeless man. He had no family or friends, so the service was to be at a pauper's cemetery in the Nova Scotia back country.
As I was not familiar with the backwoods, I got lost and, being a typical man, I didn't stop for directions.
I finally arrived an hour late and saw the funeral guy had evidently gone and the hearse was nowhere in sight. There were only the diggers and crew left and they were eating lunch. I felt badly and apologized to the men for being late. I went to the side of the grave and looked down and the vault lid was already in place. I didn't know what else to do, so I started to play.
The workers put down their lunches and began to gather around. I played out my heart and soul for this man with no family and friends. I played like I've never played before for this homeless man. And as I played "Amazing Grace", the workers began to weep. They wept, I wept, we all wept together. When I finished, I packed up my bagpipes and started for my car. Though my head was hung low, my heart was full.
As I opened the door to my car, I heard one of the workers say, "I never seen nothing like that before and I've been putting in septic tanks for twenty years."
Apparently I'm still lost....it's a man thing.
“The New Law practices the acts of religion: almsgiving, prayer and fasting, directing them to the "Father who sees in secret," in contrast with the desire to "be seen by men." Its prayer is the Our Father.”
Catechism of the Catholic Church #1969
HUSBANDS FASTING FOR THEIR WIVES.
The e5 Man fasts for his bride as a way to imitate Jesus as
described by Saint Paul in his letter to the Ephesians, chapter 5 (for ...
Pope Francis Goes to Confession
Vatican City, Mar 17, 2017 / 12:47 pm (EWTN News/CNA)
At the end of his annual Lenten penitential service on Friday, Pope Francis was the first to go to the sacrament of confession, afterward hearing the confessions of seven laypeople, three men and four women, in attendance.
Instead of giving a homily during the service, which he has done in years past, Pope Francis led people in a lengthy silence following the readings in order to reflect and pray prior to receiving the sacrament of confession.
Earlier on March 17, Francis spoke with participants of the Apostolic Penitentiary’s annual course on the internal forum about the importance of confessors being available to people and spiritually well-formed.
In his speech, the Pope said that to be a good confessor, a priest must be a man of prayer, a man who is attentive to the Holy Spirit and knows how to discern well, and who also is a good evangelizer.
Held in St. Peter's Basilica, the penitential service usually takes place on the fourth Friday of Lent, in anticipation of the “24 Hours for the Lord” initiative held yearly on the fourth Friday and Saturday of Lent.
This year, however, the Pope's penitential service was moved to the week prior, March 17. In addition to going to confession and hearing the confessions of seven others, the service included prayers, songs and readings from Scripture.
Afterward, almost 100 priest and bishops were available to hear the confessions of those in attendance.
Led by Pope Francis, “24 Hours for the Lord” is a worldwide initiative which points to confession as a primary way to experience God's merciful embrace. It was launched in 2014 under the auspices of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization.
Taking place on Mar. 24-25, this year's theme is “I Desire Mercy” (Mt. 9:13). The theme is taken from the verse in Matthew which says: “Go and learn the meaning of the words, 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”
Starting in the evening on March 24, churches throughout Rome will remain open for 24 hours to give pilgrims the opportunity to go to confession and take part in Eucharistic Adoration.
While parishes in Rome will be open overnight, churches elsewhere in the world are invited to participate as well, adapting the initiative to suit their local situations and needs.
Additional information on the “24 Hours for the Lord” can be found at the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization's website, www.novaevangelizatio.va.
This Priest from Oklahoma was a Martyr – Here's His Powerful Story
By Mary Rezac
Oklahoma City, Okla., Feb 18, 2016 / 05:02 am (EWTN News/CNA) -
Those were some of the last words heard by Father Stanley Francis, spoken by someone staying at the mission in Guatemala who had been led, at gunpoint, to where “Padre Francisco” was sleeping.
It was 1:30 in the morning on July 28, 1981, and Guatemala was in the throes of a decades-long civil war. The three ski-masked men who broke into the rectory were Ladinos, the non-indigenous men who had been fighting the native people and rural poor of the country since the 60s. They were known for their kidnappings, and wanted to turn Father Stanley into one of “the missing.”
But Father Stanley refused. Not wanting to endanger the others at the parish mission, he struggled but did not call for help. Fifteen minutes and two gunshots later, Father Stanley was dead and the men fled the mission grounds.
“How a 46-year-old priest from a small German farming community in Oklahoma came to live and die in this remote, ancient Guatemalan village is a story full of wonder and God’s providence,” writes Maria Scaperlanda in her biography of Father Stanley, “The Shepherd Who Didn’t Run.”
The five-foot-ten, strawberry-blonde-bearded missionary priest was from the unassuming town of Okarche, Okla., where the parish, school and farm were the pillars of community life. He went to the same school his whole life and lived with his family until he left for seminary.
Surrounded by good priests and a vibrant parish life, Stanley felt God calling him to the priesthood from a young age. But despite a strong calling, Stanley would struggle in the seminary, failing several classes and out of two seminaries before finally finishing.
Hearing of Stanely’s struggles, Sister Clarissa Tenbrick, his 5th grade teacher, wrote him to offer encouragement, reminding him that the patron Saint of all priests, St. John Vianney, also struggled in seminary.
“Both of them were simple men who knew they had a call to the priesthood and then had somebody empower them so that they could complete their studies and be priests,” Scaperlanda told CNA. “And they brought a goodness, simplicity and generous heart with them in (everything) they did.”
When Stanley was still in seminary, Pope St. John XXIII asked the Churches of North America to send assistance and establish missions in Central America. Soon after, the diocese of Oklahoma City and the diocese of Tulsa established a mission in Santiago Atitlan in Guatemala, a poor rural community of mostly indigenous people.
A few years after he was ordained, Fr. Stanley accepted an invitation to join the mission team, where he would spend the next 13 years of his life.
When he arrived to the mission, the Tz'utujil Mayan Indians in the village had no native equivalent for Stanley, so they took to calling him Padre Francisco, after his baptismal name of Francis.
The work ethic Fr. Stanley learned on his family’s farm would serve him well in this new place. As a mission priest, he was called on not just to say Mass, but to fix the broken truck or work the fields. He built a farmers' co-op, a school, a hospital, and the first Catholic radio station, which was used for catechesis to the even more remote villages.
“What I think is tremendous is how God doesn't waste any details,” Scaperlanda said. “That same love for the land and the small town where everybody helps each other, all those things that he learned in Okarche is exactly what he needed when he arrived in Santiago.”
The beloved Padre Francisco was also known for his kindness, selflessness, joy and attentive presence among his parishioners. Dozens of pictures show giggling children running after Padre Francisco and grabbing his hands, Scaperlanda said.
“It was Father Stanley’s natural disposition to share the labor with them, to break bread with them, and celebrate life with them, that made the community in Guatemala say of Father Stanley, ‘he was our priest,’” she said.
Over the years, the violence of the Guatemalan civil war inched closer to the once-peaceful village. Disappearances, killings and danger soon became a part of daily life, but Fr. Stanley remained steadfast and supportive of his people.
In 1980-1981, the violence escalated to an almost unbearable point. Fr. Stanley was constantly seeing friends and parishioners abducted or killed. In a letter to Oklahoma Catholics during what would be his last Christmas, the priest relayed to the people back home the dangers his mission parish faced daily.
“The reality is that we are in danger. But we don’t know when or what form the government will use to further repress the Church…. Given the situation, I am not ready to leave here just yet… But if it is my destiny that I should give my life here, then so be it.... I don’t want to desert these people, and that is what will be said, even after all these years. There is still a lot of good that can be done under the circumstances.”
He ended the letter with what would become his signature quote:
“The shepherd cannot run at the first sign of danger. Pray for us that we may be a sign of the love of Christ for our people, that our presence among them will fortify them to endure these sufferings in preparation for the coming of the Kingdom.”
In January 1981, in immediate danger and his name on a death list, Fr. Stanley did return to Oklahoma for a few months. But as Easter approached, he wanted to spend Holy Week with his people in Guatemala.
“Father Stanley could not abandon his people,” Scaperlanda said. “He made a point of returning to his Guatemala parish in time to celebrate Holy Week with his parishioners that year – and ultimately was killed for living out his Catholic faith.”
Scaperlanda, who has worked on Fr. Stanley’s cause for canonization, said the priest is a great witness and example, particularly in the Year of Mercy.
“Father Stanley Rother is truly a saint of mercy,” she said. “He fed the hungry, sheltered the homeless, visited the sick, comforted the afflicted, bore wrongs patiently, buried the dead – all of it.”
His life is also a great example of ordinary people being called to do extraordinary things for God, she said.
“(W)hat impacted me the most about Father Stanley’s life was how ordinary it was!” she said.
“I love how simply Oklahoma City’s Archbishop Paul Coakley states it: ‘We need the witness of holy men and women who remind us that we are all called to holiness – and that holy men and women come from ordinary places like Okarche, Oklahoma,’” she said.
“Although the details are different, I believe the call is the same – and the challenge is also the same. Like Father Stanley, each of us is called to say ‘yes’ to God with our whole heart. We are all asked to see the Other standing before us as a child of God, to treat them with respect and a generous heart,” she added.
“We are called to holiness – whether we live in Okarche, Oklahoma, or New York City or Guatemala City.”
In June 2015, the Theological Commission of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints voted to recognize Fr. Stanley Rother as a martyr. The next step will be for his cause to go before a panel of cardinals and archbishops of the Congregation of the Causes of Saints.
The fifth precept ("You shall help to provide for the needs of the Church") means that the faithful are obliged to assist with the material needs of the Church, each according to his own ability.
The faithful also have the duty of providing for the material needs of the Church, each according to his own abilities."
Catechism of the Catholic Church #2043
“It’s not the money—it’s the principle,” she insisted. “My husband took those pencils from work.”
Ivy League Music
A month after Donald MacDonald started at Harvard, his mother called from Scotland. "And how are the American students, Donald?" she asked.
"They’re so noisy," he complained. "One neighbor endlessly bangs his head against the wall, while another screams all night."
"How do you put up with it?"
"I just ignore them and play my bagpipes."
Kids in Church 2
THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD
A Sunday School teacher decided to have her young class memorize one of the most quoted passages in the Bible - Psalm 23. She gave the youngsters a month to learn the chapter. Little Rick was excited about the task - but he just couldn't remember the Psalm. After much practice, he could barely get past the first line. On the day that the kids were scheduled to recite Psalm 23 in front of the congregation, Ricky was so nervous. When it was his turn, he stepped up to the microphone and said proudly, 'The Lord is my Shepherd, and that's all I need to know.'
A father was at the beach with his children when the four-year old son ran up to him, grabbed his hand, and led him to the shore, where a seagull lay dead in the sand. "Daddy, what happened to him?" the son asked. "He died and went to Heaven," the dad replied. The boy thought a moment and then said, "Did God throw him back down?"
At Sunday School they were teaching how God created everything, including human beings. Little Johnny, a child in the kindergarten class, seemed especially intent when they told him how Eve was created out of one of Adam's ribs. Later in the week his mother noticed him lying as though he were ill, and said. "Johnny what is the matter?" Little Johnny responded, "I have a pain in my side. I think I'm going to have a wife....!"
O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, make this time of prayer and fasting
truly fruitful in my life that I may hunger for only you. Amen.
'The interior penance of the Christian can be expressed in many and various ways. Scripture and the Fathers insist above all on three forms, fasting, prayer, and almsgiving, which express conversion in relation to oneself, to God, and to others. Alongside the radical purification brought about by Baptism or martyrdom they cite as means of obtaining forgiveness of sins: effort at reconciliation with one's neighbor, tears of repentance, concern for the salvation of one's neighbor, the intercession of the saints, and the practice of charity ‘which covers a multitude of sins’”
-Catechism of the Catholic Church #1434