In this e-weekly:
- A Small White Cross in the Front Yard ("Helpful Hints of Life")
- Sunday Mass Readings along with reflections and questions at end of e-mail (NEW FEATURE)
- Incredible website and organization to reach out to Fallen Away Catholics (under computer)
Catholic Good News
Receiving the Gospel, Serving God and Neighbor
Small Things With Great Love
"Show the wonder of your great love, you who save by your right
hand those who take refuge in you from their foes."
We are often deceived that we can do little to nothing to change the world or situation of life that we find ourselves in. But the truth is that if we do the little that God gives us to the best of our ability, the big stuff will take care of itself.
And so what are the little things that God gives us? It is being faithful to our families, it is doing our schoolwork well and playing kindly in the school yard, it is putting in a full day's work to the best of our ability and reaching out to co-workers, it is doing household duties and yes even cleaning the toilet until it sparkles. :o)
Whether it is getting up, eating, cleaning, picking up a piece of trash, smiling, saying, "I love you," or whatever the next moment of life brings you, do it with great love FOR GOD, and for your neighbor, and in this you do it for yourself and change the world!
Peace and prayers in Jesus through Mary, loved by Saint Joseph,
P.S. This coming Sunday is 28th Sunday of Ordinary Time. The readings can be found at: https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/101523.cfm
a) Jesus taught it to us
b) it dropped out of the sky from heaven
c) an angel taught it to the apostles
d) its organ’s ultimately come from a prophet of the Old Testament
579. What is the place of the Our Father in the Scriptures? (CCC 2761-2764, 2774)
a) it is found in the middle of the Sermon on the Mount
b) it is the perfect prayer
c) it is the summary of the whole Gospel
d) all of the above
580. Why is it called the “Lord’s Prayer”? (CCC 2765-2766, 2775)
a) it is the shortest title we could give it
b) it is a prayer Jesus said
c) it is a prayer Jesus taught us
d) all of the above
581. What place does the Our Father have in the prayer of the Church? (CCC 2767-2772, 2776)
a) it is optional, and not that important
b) it is secondary behind many other prayers
c) it is very important and is required to be said everyday
d) it is integral and the prayer of the Church par excellence
(Latin lubēre, libēre "to please, to be pleasing")
- to know, will, and do the good of another
-to seek the highest and best good for the other
(Truth of story is unknown, but idea for action is sound.)
When driving to, from, and through Frankenmuth, Michigan, my family was always intrigued with the many small simple crosses in the front yards of the homes we passed by. Then one day we learned that those crosses are a statement of support for Frankenmuth's Christian foundation. The men from St. Lorenze Lutheran Church were making the crosses for those who wanted one. As fast as they could make them, they flew out of the church!
Two years ago an atheist living there complained about two crosses on a bridge in town. He requested that they be removed and the town removed them. He then decided that, since he was so successful with that, the city shield should also be changed since it had on it, along with other symbols, a heart with a cross inside signifying the city's Lutheran beginnings.
At that point, the residents decided they had had enough. Hundreds of residents made their opinions known by placing small crosses in their front yards. Seeing this quiet but powerful statement from the community, the man removed his complaint. Those simple crosses remain in those front yards today.
After passing those crosses for two years, it finally hit me that a small cross in millions of front yards across our country could provide a powerful and inspiring message for all Americans passing them every day. I think it might be time to take this idea across America.
We have those who say, even high up, that "we are not a Christian nation" and everywhere you look others are trying to remove from our history and current lives any reference to God, prayer, or the fact that our country was founded on Judeo-Christian principles. The majority of Americans are Christians, why are we letting this happen to us? It's time to stand up and make a statement...a small, quiet, but powerful statement.
If you agree, place a small wooden cross in your front yard or garden for all to see that they are not alone. It would be a beautiful thing to see crosses all across America.
God has richly blessed America but America is falling short of returning thanks for it, and this is only one way that we can help to change that. Do not be afraid to unobtrusively let others know where you stand and what you believe.
P.S. It's not a bad idea to make this a worldwide effort.
"Just as Jesus prays to the Father and gives thanks before receiving his gifts, so he teaches us filial boldness: "Whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you receive it, and you will." Such is the power of prayer and of faith that does not doubt: "all things are possible to him who believes." Jesus is as saddened by the "lack of faith" of his own neighbors and the "little faith" of his own disciples as he is struck with admiration at the great faith of the Roman centurion and the Canaanite woman."
Catechism of the Catholic Church #2610
Be Bold. Be Catholic. The Dynamic Catholic Institute was founded by writer Matthew Kelly to do its part in the rejuvenation of Catholicism in the English-speaking world. Eight years ago Kelly published his book Rediscovering Catholicism, and it is the mission of the Institute to place a copy of this book in the hands of every Catholic in the United States. You can help them acomplish this or obtain a copy free as well as check out other incredible resources.
SUPPORT MARRIAGE AND MARRIED COUPLES
There are many resources available for Married Couples at all stages of life and situations. But most couples do not have time to get or receive those resources. Try to make those available via the parish website, bulletin, etc.
Marriage is under attack from the inside and out. Any and all efforts to support and lift up Marriages especially at difficult times are a blessing.
Make websites and items available for Married couples via website and parish bulletin. Connect couples to parish and diocesan persons who can directly help if possible.
www.foryourmarriage.org USSCB website with many resources for all stages of Married Life
https://www.helpourmarriage.org/ A Marriage program that helps couples in struggling marriages restore and rebuild a healthy and loving relationship.
www.wwme.org Worldwide Marriage Encounter is the largest pro-marriage organization in the world and promotes Weekend experiences for couples.
More at: http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/how-we-teach/catechesis/catechetical-sunday/marriage/index.cfm
The former St. Andrew’s Catholic Church in Roanoke, Virginia, is now the Basilica of St. Andrew.
The Diocese of Richmond announced the designation Thursday, several days after being informed by the Vatican’s Dicastery for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.
Some priests of the diocese have long thought it should have that title, said Father Kevin Segerblom, who in a telephone interview Friday called the basilica “living art.”
“Ours is not huge — it seats 500 — but ours is particularly beautiful. So people come in and their minds and their hearts are lifted up to the divine,” said Segerblom, who leads St. Andrew’s, and whose title has now changed from pastor to rector. “It’s important that those special churches be recognized as places of pilgrimage so that people will come here and have that experience.”
During the year-and-a-half application process, Segerblom asked church-goers to say a printed prayer to “Glorious St. Andrew” asking for his intercession with God that the church be named a basilica.
“May the beauty of this building, the reverence of the liturgies we celebrate here, and the pastoral work we engage in with charity, draw many more people, as you did, to faith in Jesus Christ and the fullness of life in the Spirit,” the prayer says.
Interior photo of Basilica of St. Andrew in Roanoke, Virginia. Credit: Ryan Hunt/Catholic Diocese of RichmondSt. Andrew’s parish was established in 1882. The current yellow-brick, twin-steeple, high Victorian Gothic church was dedicated in 1902. It recently underwent a renovation of its interior and exterior.
Longtime church-goers told CNA they are thrilled with the announcement.
“I think the beauty of the church lent itself to be a basilica. It’s quite a facility, and I’ve always been proud of it, said Mick DeSimone, 67, a retired painter who joined the parish in 1980 and currently serves the altar for expositions of the Eucharist and coordinates several Masses a week. “It’s one of the first things people see when they come into Roanoke, and I think it’s fitting that it’s happened.”
While the appearance of the building attracts newcomers, the people of the parish keep them coming back, another parishioner told CNA.
“When you come here, when you walk in, you’re just awed by the beauty of the church. I think that’s something that would draw a person to come. But the parish and the people are so welcoming,” said Donna DeSimone, 67, a retired second grade teacher, Mick’s wife, and a former Baptist who joined the Catholic Church in June 2022 through the parish’s Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults program. She is now secretary of the parish council.
Catholics not plentiful The state of Virginia is only about 8% Catholic, according to a 2021 University of Virginia study — and less so in the mostly rural southwestern part of the state.
That makes the basilica designation particularly meaningful for Catholics who attend St. Andrew’s.
“It just confirms the fact that Catholicism is alive and well in southwest Virginia. And that church has stood there for more than a hundred years as a symbol of that,” said Susan Thompson, 74, who taught for 32 years at next-door Roanoke Catholic School, most of that time running the school’s prekindergarten through grade 7 program.
The church building has a magnetic quality that draws strangers in and changes them for at least a short while, one parishioner said.
“When you come out of Mass many times you’ll just see people standing in the parking lot looking at it. They know it’s a church but they don’t know what denomination. They’re just curious. And then when they come in, it takes their breath away,” said Grimes Creasy, 62, a civil-law attorney and member of the parish council. “And then they get very reverent. That’s the interesting thing. You can see their body posture change. They recognize they’re in a holy place. They just kind of straighten up.”
Bishop Barry Knestout, who heads the Diocese of Richmond, plans to read the Vatican’s official announcement and bless physical symbols signifying the church’s elevation to basilica during a Mass at St. Andrew’s on Sunday, December 3.
“With this decree, I hope more individuals will be drawn to visit this special treasure, and in doing so, will draw more to inquire about our faith,” the bishop said in a written statement Thursday.
He tied the basilica announcement to the U.S. bishops’ current three-year National Eucharistic Revival.
“May this basilica continue to be a place of personal encounter with Christ, a place of robust faith formation, and through its beauty — externally and in the liturgy — elevate the hearts and minds of all who attend Mass here,” Knestout said.
A basilica in the Catholic Church is a church building singled out for honor by the pope for its beauty and renown. Most are large.
A basilica doesn’t need to be a cathedral — a word that comes from the Latin cathedra, or chair, which symbolizes the authority of the bishop. Most basilicas aren’t cathedrals. And most cathedrals aren’t basilicas. But some churches are both.
The “mother church” of the Catholic Church is St. John Lateran, the cathedral of the Diocese of Rome, which has the pope’s cathedra. It is a so-called “major basilica,” along with the more famous St. Peter’s Basilica. The other two major basilicas are St. Paul Outside the Walls and St. Mary Major. All four are in Rome.
Outside Rome, a diocese’s cathedral “holds the first place and the greatest dignity” in a diocese, because the bishop’s chair in the cathedral is “the sign of the bishop’s teaching authority and power, as pastor of the same diocese, and the sign of communion with the Roman cathedra of Peter,” according to a 1989 Vatican document called Domus Ecclesiae (“House of the Church”).
But certain church buildings may be honored by the pope with the title “minor basilica” because of their “particular importance for liturgical and pastoral life,” according to the Vatican document, which sets out criteria for applying for minor basilica status.
The document mentions “appropriate size,” “a sufficiently large sanctuary,” “historic value or importance,” “worthiness of its art,” “celebrations of the seasons … carried out in a praiseworthy manner,” “an appropriate number of confessors” to offer the sacrament of penance, and an “adequate” choir “to encourage the participation of the faithful with sacred music and singing.”
How many basilicas are there in the United States?
There are 93 minor basilicas in the United States, according to GCatholic.org, which keeps a list. Of those, 19 are cathedrals or co-cathedrals.
The first church in the country designated a basilica is the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis, which was so named in 1926. The most recent (before now) is the Basilica Shrine of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal in Philadelphia, which was named a basilica in January 2023.
Virginia has two other minor basilicas: the Basilica of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception in Norfolk (Diocese of Richmond), and the Basilica of St. Mary in Alexandria (Diocese of Arlington).
New York state has the most basilicas among U.S. states, at eight. Pennsylvania, Ohio, and California have seven. Florida has six. Texas has four. Massachusetts, Kentucky, North Carolina, Louisiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Missouri have three.
Ibarra is the author of the book “Emilia, the Basket Maker, Martyr of the Rosary,” which tells of her life and death. He said that Emilia’s devotion to the rosary led her to love Jesus Christ more.
According to the historian, Emilia “died from her sufferings, for being faithful to her faith, for bringing a life into the world and did not give in to her jailer’s desire that she apostatize.”
For Ibarra, Emilia “teaches us with her life that God is at our side, especially in the midst of difficulties. Emilia went to prison hardly knowing the faith and when she died, she did so as a friend of God and a martyr of the rosary. That is beautiful.”
She was beatified in a group of martyrs from Almeria, Spain on March 25, 2017. The group included cathedral dean Father Jose Alvarez-Benavides y de la Torre and 114 companion martyrs: 95 priests, 20 laymen and two women, including Emilia.
Emilia is the first Romani woman to be beatified. The first male Gypsy blessed, Ceferino Giménez Malla, known as El Pelé, was beatified by Saint John Paul II in 1997. He died in the religious persecution of the Spanish Civil War for protecting a priest. Before his persecutors shot him, he held a rosary in his hand and cried out “Long live Christ the King!”
Ibarra characterized both Emilia and Ceferino as “martyrs of the rosary” because both of them refused to stop praying it.
“This demonstrates that the Virgin leads us to God. For those two martyrs, she was the Gate of Heaven,” he said.
“To be always united with Jesus, this is my life program,” Carlo Acutis wrote at the age of seven.
The young Italian computer whiz, who died of leukemia at 15 offering his suffering for the pope and the Church, was beatified Oct. 10 in a Mass at the Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi.
Born in 1991, Acutis is the first millennial to be beatified by the Catholic Church. The teen who had an aptitude for computer programming is now one step away from canonization.
“Since he was a child … he had his gaze turned to Jesus. Love for the Eucharist was the foundation that kept alive his relationship with God. He often said ‘The Eucharist is my highway to heaven,” Cardinal Agostino Vallini said in his homily for the beatification.
“Carlo felt a strong need to help people discover that God is close to us and that it is beautiful to be with him to enjoy his friendship and his grace,” Vallini said.
During the beatification Mass, Acutis’ parents processed behind a relic of their son's heart which was placed near the altar. An apostolic letter from Pope Francis was read aloud in which the pope declared that Carlo Acutis’ feast will take place each year on Oct. 12, the anniversary of his death in Milan in 2006.
Masked pilgrims spread out in front of the Basilica of St. Francis and throughout the different piazzas in Assisi to watch the Mass on large screens as only a limited number of people were allowed inside.
Acutis’ beatification drew an estimated 3,000 people to Assisi, including people who personally knew Acutis and many other young people inspired by his witness.
Mattia Pastorelli, 28, was a childhood friend of Acutis, who first met him when they were both around the age of five. He remembers playing video games, including Halo, with Carlo. (Acutis’ mother also told CNA that Super Mario and Pokémon were Carlo’s favorites.)
“Having a friend who is about to become a saint is a very strange emotion,” Pastorelli told CNA Oct. 10. “I knew he was different from others, but now I realize just how special he was.”
“I watched him while he was programming websites … He was truly an incredible talent,” he added.
In his homily, Cardinal Vallini, the pontifical legate for the Basilica of St. Francis, hailed Acutis as a model of how young people can use technology at the service of the Gospel to “reach as many people as possible and help them know the beauty of friendship with the Lord.”
For Carlo, Jesus was “the strength of his life and the purpose of everything he did,” the cardinal said.
“He was convinced that to love people and do them good you need to draw energy from the Lord. In this spirit he was very devoted to Our Lady,” he added.
“His ardent desire was also that of attracting as many people to Jesus, making himself herald of the Gospel above all with the example of life.”
At a young age, Acutis taught himself how to program and went on to create websites cataloguing the world’s Eucharistic miracles and Marian apparitions.
“The Church rejoices, because in this very young Blessed the Lord's words are fulfilled: ‘I have chosen you and appointed you to go and bear much fruit.’ And Carlo ‘went’ and brought the fruit of holiness, showing it as a goal reachable by all and not as something abstract and reserved for a few,” the cardinal said.
“He was an ordinary boy, simple, spontaneous, likeable … he loved nature and animals, he played football, he had many friends of his age, he was attracted by modern means of social communication, passionate about computer science and, self-taught, he built websites to transmit the Gospel, to communicate values and beauty,” he said.
Assisi is celebrating the beatification of Carlo Acutis with more than two weeks of liturgies and events Oct. 1-17. During this time images of a young Acutis standing with a giant monstrance containing the Eucharist can be seen in front of churches all around the city of St. Francis and St. Clare.
People stood in line to pray before the tomb of Carlo Acutis, located in Assisi’s Sanctuary of the Spoliation in the Church of St. Mary Major. The church extended its hours until midnight throughout the beatification weekend to allow as many people as possible to venerate Acutis, with the social distancing measures in place to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Fr. Boniface Lopez, a Franciscan Capuchin based at the church, told CNA that he noted that many people who visited Acutis’ tomb also took advantage of the opportunity to go to confession, which is being offered in many languages throughout the 17 days when Acutis’ body is visible for venation.
“Many people are coming to see Carlo to ask for his blessing … also many young people; they come for confessions, they come because they want to change their lives and they want to come near God and really experience God,” Fr. Lopez said.
At a youth vigil the evening before the beatification, pilgrims gathered outside of the Assisi’s Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels while priests heard confessions inside.
Churches throughout Assisi also offered additional hours of Eucharistic Adoration to mark Acutis’ beatification.
Lopez said that he had also encountered many religious sisters and priests coming on pilgrimage to see Actutis. “Religious come here to ask his blessing to help them to cultivate a greater love for the Eucharist.”
As Acutis once said: “When we face the sun we get a tan ... but when we stand before Jesus in the Eucharist we become saints.”
“These priests and scholars were talking about him and his life and what a holy man he was, and what a tremendous influence he had on the church and on other people in his life,” Villalobos told CNA.
“I was really taken by it and I thought, ‘This man is so amazing,’” she said. But it wasn’t until a year later, when her husband brought home two holy cards of Cardinal Newman, that Villalobos’ devotion to him really began.
She displayed one of the cards in the living room, the other in her bedroom, and “I would pass by his image every day, and I would look into his eyes and I would pray to him and I would just talk to him as a mother,” she said. “And I felt like his expression was matching my emotions at the time. If I felt sad for some reason he looked sympathetic, if I felt joy, he looked pleased, and I just felt like we were really living life together,” Villalobos recalled. She invoked Cardinal Newman often, and considered him one of her closes spiritual friends. Eventually she started looking up his writings online, and described the experience like “finding gold in the backyard.”
“He was every bit as holy and loving as I had suspected he was by looking at his face. He had such a tremendous affection for ordinary people, which I discovered by reading his letters, and I felt like I could be one of those ordinary people in his life.”
Born in 1801 in London, John Henry Newman was originally an Anglican priest before his conversion to Catholicism in 1845 at the age of 44. He would soon become a renowned Catholic priest, theologian, poet, homilist, and, in 1879, a cardinal. His works are considered among the most important contributions to the thought of the Church in recent centuries.
His conversion to Catholicism was controversial in the birthplace of Anglicanism, and he lost many friends as a result, including his own sister, who refused to speak to him again. Newman was also a devoted educator and founded the Oratory of St. Philip Neri in England in two locations. He died in Birmingham in 1890 at the age of 89. The Vatican announced his Oct. 13 canonization date in July. The more Villalobos learned about Newman, the closer she felt to him, and she would eventually come to rely on his intercession in a major way. In 2013, more than a decade after first hearing about Newman on EWTN, Villalobos was pregnant with her fifth child and was experiencing serious complications. In her first trimester, Villalobos started bleeding continuously, and she learned she had a condition called subchorionic hematoma, a blood clot between the placenta and the uterine wall that causes the placenta to be “partially ripped and detached from the uterine wall.” “It was a life-threatening problem because I could hemorrhage to death,” Villalobos recalled.
The prognosis was grim. There was no cure to be found in medicine or surgery. Villalobos was ordered to be on strict bed rest to give her baby the best possible chance. She did the best she could, but Villalobos was still caring for her other four young children in the meantime. On the morning of May 15, less than a week after being diagnosed with the condition, Villalobos woke up in a pool of her own blood.
With her husband away on a work trip, Villalobos debated when she should call 9-1-1. She decided to give her kids some breakfast first, and then she locked herself in the bathroom to figure out what to do. But by then, Villalobos had lost so much blood that she collapsed on the floor.
“Unfortunately though, somehow I did not have my cellphone with me,” she recalled. “I couldn’t believe it.”
She considered shouting for one of her kids to bring her phone, but worried that the shouting would cause more bleeding or a miscarriage. Desperate, she called out to her old friend, Cardinal Newman. “I said, ‘Please Cardinal Newman, make the bleeding stop.’ And just then, immediately it stopped. And I stood up and I smelled roses that filled the bathroom air.”
The smell of roses is often considered the “scent of holiness”, with many stories of saints leaving a rosy scent in places where they have intervened in prayer. “And I said, ‘Oh Cardinal Newman, did you just make the bleeding stop? Thank you!’ And then there was this second burst of roses. And I knew I was cured, and I knew Gemma my daughter was ok,” Villalobos said. Villalobos had an ultrasound scheduled for that afternoon, and the doctor found what Villalobos attributes to Cardinal Newman’s intercession: the bleeding had completely stopped.
“The doctor saw that there was no more bleeding and he was amazed, and he said, ‘the baby looks perfect.’”
It was vastly different than Villalobos’ previous experience in the pregnancy.
“The doctors (had) said you will probably miscarry if you’re lucky, the placenta could barely hold up to the third trimester, and she’ll be born but she’ll be really small and she’ll have medical problems,” Villalobos recalled. “Thanks be to Cardinal Newman and to God that I was cured and Gemma was born completely healthy.”
Villalobos said she waited until after Gemma was born to report the miracle to Fr. Ignatius Harrison, the postulator for Newman’s cause for canonization. After receiving her letter, Fr. Harrison came to Chicago to meet with Villalobos, her husband, Gemma, and the doctors. He examined medical records and conducted interviews, and told Villalobos to keep the potential miracle a secret until it could be investigated by the Vatican. She got brief updates about twice a year, she said, but for the most part, she did not really know how the cause was advancing, she just prayed with her family that Newman would soon be canonized.
“There was really no one to ask to say, ‘Well how does this usually work?’ You know sometimes if you’re going through something in your life you say ‘Oh, well how did it work for you?’ But there was no one to ask to say ‘Well, when you were miraculously cured, how long did it take to hear from the postulator?’” she said.
Then in February 2019, Villalobos received the news that Pope Francis signed the degree recognizing the miracle.
“I’m surprised at how many people tell me that they’re happy to know that God still performs miracles,” Villalobos said, “I’m glad they know that. I feel like I’ve known that, and I want other people to know that God has never abandoned us. I know it’s hard to believe in miracles because we don’t always get what we want, but we know that God the Father in his love always gives us what’s best for us.” Villalobos, Gemma, and the rest of the family traveled to Rome to be there for Newman’s canonization, which will take place this Sunday.
“I just love him dearly and I hope that anybody who needs help, whether you’re a mother, or a student...or a convert, he can really touch the lives of so many people. I just hope they’ll reach out to him and see a friend in him. He’s so loving and amazing.”
Kate Veik contributed to this report.
Fatima, Portugal, Oct 12 (EWTN News/CNA)
On “the day the sun danced,” thousands of people bore witness to a miracle that not only proved the validity of the Fatima Marian apparitions, but also shattered the prevalent belief at the time that God was no longer relevant, according to one theologian.
What crowds witnessed the day of the miracle was “the news that God, in the end, contrary to what was said in the philosophy books at that time, was alive and acting in the midst of men,” Dr. Marco Daniel Duarte told EWTN News.
If one were to open philosophy books during that period, they would likely read something akin to the concept conceived by German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, who boldly asserted in the late 1800s that “God is dead.”
Yet as this and other philosophies like it were gaining steam in the life and thought of society, the Virgin Mary appears and tells three small shepherds that “God is alive and still attentive to humanity, even though humanity is waging war with one another.”
Duarte, a theologian and director of the Fatima shrine museums, spoke about the cultural significance of the Miracle of the Sun given the atheistic thought prevalent in Portuguese society at the time.
In 1917, Portugal, like the majority of the world, was embroiled in war. As World War I raged throughout Europe, Portugal found itself unable to maintain its initial neutrality and joined forces with the Allies, in order to protect colonies in Africa and to defend their trade with Britain. About 220,000 Portuguese civilians died during the war; thousands due to food shortages, thousands more from the Spanish flu.
Compounding the problem, government stability in the country had been rocky at best following the revolution and coup d’état that led to the overthrow of the monarchy and subsequent establishment of the First Portuguese Republic in 1910.
A new liberal constitution separating Church and state was drafted under the influence of Freemasonry, which sought to omit the faith – which for many was the backbone of Portuguese culture and society – from public life.
Anti-Catholicism in Portugal had initially begun in the 18th century during the term of statesman Marquês de Pombal, and flared up again after the drafting of the new constitution.
Catholic churches and schools were seized by the government, and the wearing of clerics in public, the ringing of church bells, and the celebrating of popular religious festivals were banned. Between 1911-1916, nearly 2,000 priests, monks and nuns were killed by anti-Christian groups.
This was the backdrop against which Mary, in 1917, appeared to three shepherd children – Lucia dos Santos, 10, and her cousins Francisco and Jacinta Marto, 9 and 7 – in a field in Fatima, Portugal, bringing with her requests for the recitation of the rosary, for sacrifices on behalf of sinners, and a secret regarding the fate of the world.
To prove that the apparitions were true, Mary promised the children that during the last of her six appearances she would provide a “sign” so people would believe in the apparitions and in her message.
What happened on that day – Oct. 13, 1917 – has come to be known as the “Miracle of the Sun,” or “the day the sun danced.”
According to various accounts, a crowd of some 70,000 people – believers and skeptics alike – gathered to see the miracle that Mary had promised. After appearing and speaking to the children for some time, Mary then “cast her own light upon the sun.”
The previously rainy sky cleared up, the clouds dispersed and the ground, which had been wet and muddy from the rain, was dried. A transparent veil came over the sun, making it easy to look at, and multi-colored lights were strewn across the landscape.
The sun then began to spin, twirling in the sky, and at one point appeared to veer toward earth before jumping back to its place in the sky.
Duarte said the miracle was a direct, and very convincing contradiction to the atheistic regimes at the time, which is evidenced by the fact that the first newspaper to report on the miracle was an anti-Catholic, Masonic newspaper in Lisbon called O Seculo.
The Miracle of the Sun, he said, was understood by the people to be “the seal, the guarantee that in fact those three children were telling the truth.”
Even today, “Fatima makes people change their perception of God,” he said, explaining that for him, one of the most important messages of the apparitions is that “even if man has separated God from his existence, God is present in human history and doesn’t abandon humanity.”
With World War I raging, a war the likes of which the world had never seen, Mary appeared to tell the children that “that story can have another ending, when the power of prayer is stronger than the power of bullets.”
The Miracle of the Sun is also the heart of a special exhibition called “The Colors of the Sun” the shrine is offering for the duration of the centenary year of the apparitions, which focuses on the symbolic nature of the miracle and its cultural significance.
Displayed are “various objects, some older, others more contemporary, some more modern, some made of textile, others of organic materials, paintings, sculptures,” but which are all “placed with a narrative,” he said.
Beginning with a set of black umbrellas used by people who had gathered at the Cova de Iria (Cave of Iria) where Mary appeared Oct. 13, the exhibit aims to build a narrative of what people saw that day, and is supplemented with different works that express the various elements of Mary’s message to the children.
It also shows developments of how the shrine developed over the years, showing the transformation of what used to be a small, simple chapel into what is now two basilicas: the Basilica of Nossa Senhora do Rosario (Our Lady of the Rosary) and Basilica da Santissima Trindade (Basilica of the Holy Trinity), with an open chapel in between where the statue of Our Lady of Fatima resides.
Pieces come from all over the world – some from the Fatima shrine, some from the State of Portugal, and some even hail from Germany and France.
One of the highlight pieces is a giant heart made by Joana Vasconcelos, a well-known Portuguese artist who crafted the piece entirely out of red plastic ware, such as spoons and forks.
“It’s material that isn’t important for anyone, but which after everything is united, forms the image of a heart and can be the image of reparation,” Duarte said.
The exhibit closes with white parasols, rather than umbrellas, in order to show the fruit of the miracle, Duarte said, adding that it can also signify “the presence of God, the Eucharistic Christ.”
In this sense, the parasols “can be for us a symbol that also we can be God’s tabernacles and can be the place where God dwells,” he said. “This is the true shrine that God wants. The shrine of Fatima is precisely the image of what God wants: to dwell among men.”
Catechism of the Catholic Church #1399
--Little Johnny complains to mom at home, “Mom, our teacher really doesn’t know anything. He keeps asking us!”
--"And, Johnny? How did your school report turn out?” asks mother. “Come on mom, the most important thing is that I’m healthy!”
--I hope the children will never find out why I say ‘oooops….” so often when I vacuum their rooms.
--What an amazing, clever dog we have, darling. - He brings in the newspaper every day, and we’ve never even subscribed to any!
THE OUR FATHER
A mother was teaching her 3-year-old the Our Father. For several evenings at bedtime she repeated it after her mother. One night she said she was ready to solo. The mother listened with pride as she carefully enunciated each word, right up to the end of the prayer.
"Lead us not into temptation," she prayed, "but deliver us some e-mail, Amen."
After the Baptism of his baby brother in church, little Johnny sobbed all the way home in the back seat of the car. His father asked him three times what was wrong. Finally, the boy replied, "That priest said he wanted us brought up in a Christian home, but I want to stay with you guys."
Love Your Sibling As You Love Yourself.A PSR teacher was discussing the Ten Commandments with her five and six year olds. After explaining the commandment to 'honor thy father and thy mother', she asked, "Is there a commandment that teaches us how to treat our brothers and sisters?" Without missing a beat, one little boy answered, "Thou shall not kill."
It was raining hard and a big puddle had formed in front of an Irish pub.
An old man stood beside the puddle holding a stick with a string on the end and jiggled it up and down in the water.
A curious gentleman asked what he was doing.
'Fishing,' replied the old man.
'Poor old fool' thought the gentleman, so he invited the old man to have a drink in the pub.
Feeling he should start some conversation while they were sipping their whisky, the gentleman asked, And how many have you caught?'
'You're the eighth".
-I hope the children will never find out why I say ‘oooops….” so often when I vacuum their rooms.
-What an amazing, clever dog we have, darling.
He brings in the newspaper every day, and we’ve never even subscribed to any!
Catechism of the Catholic Church #1073
SUNDAY BIBLICAL MASS READINGS AND QUESTIONS
for Self-Reflection, Couples or Family Discussion
28th Sunday of Ordinary Time – Sunday, October 15th, 2023
The First Reading - Isaiah 25:6-10A
On this mountain the LORD of hosts will provide for all peoples a feast of rich food and choice wines, juicy, rich food and pure, choice wines. On this mountain he will destroy the veil that veils all peoples, the web that is woven over all nations; he will destroy death forever. The Lord GOD will wipe away the tears from every face; the reproach of his people he will remove from the whole earth; for the LORD has spoken. On that day it will be said: "Behold our God, to whom we looked to save us! This is the LORD for whom we looked; let us rejoice and be glad that he has saved us!" For the hand of the LORD will rest on this mountain.
The prophet Isaiah wrote words of encouragement in a time of threat. Jerusalem, the holy mount of the Lord, would be a place of peace and equality. The city would be a space for mutual respect and mutual worship.
Adults - How do you encourage mutual respect in your daily life?
Teens - How do you treat those that disagree with you?
Kids - How can you show others your love for God?
Responsorial- Psalm 23:1-3A, 3B-4, 5, 6
R.I shall live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
In verdant pastures he gives me repose;
beside restful waters he leads me;
he refreshes my soul.
R. I shall live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.
He guides me in right paths
for his name's sake.
Even though I walk in the dark valley
I fear no evil; for you are at my side
with your rod and your staff
that give me courage.
R. I shall live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.
You spread the table before me
in the sight of my foes;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
R. I shall live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.
Only goodness and kindness follow me
all the days of my life;
and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD
for years to come.
R. I shall live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.
Reading this Psalm (Ps 23:6) in the context of today’s readings gives it new meaning - we can see it referring to Jesus. Jesus invites us to a banquet, the Eucharist, and goodness and love will pursue us all the days of our life and we look forward to dwelling in the house of the Lord for eternity. (Ps 23:6) Thank the Lord for the gift of the Eucharist in prayer this week.
The Second Reading- Philippians 4:12-14, 19-20
Brothers and sisters: I know 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 can do all things in him who strengthens me. Still, it was kind of you to share in my distress. My God will fully supply whatever you need, in accord with his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father, glory forever and ever. Amen.
Reflection - In his letter to the Philippians, St. Paul held himself to the community as an example of Christian living. He pointed to God's constant care in his experience of the ups and downs of life.
-How can Saint Paul be an example in your life?
The Holy Gospel according to Matthew 22:1-14
Jesus again in reply spoke to the chief priests and elders of the people in parables, saying, "The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son. He dispatched his servants to summon the invited guests to the feast, but they refused to come. A second time he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those invited: “Behold, I have prepared my banquet, my calves and fattened cattle are killed, and everything is ready; come to the feast.”’ Some ignored the invitation and went away, one to his farm, another to his business. The rest laid hold of his servants, mistreated them, and killed them. The king was enraged and sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city. Then he said to his servants, 'The feast is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy to come. Go out, therefore, into the main roads and invite to the feast whomever you find.’ The servants went out into the streets and gathered all they found, bad and good alike, and the hall was filled with guests. But when the king came in to meet the guests, he saw a man there not dressed in a wedding garment. The king said to him, 'My friend, how is it that you came in here without a wedding garment?' But he was reduced to silence. Then the king said to his attendants, 'Bind his hands and feet, and cast him into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.’ Many are invited, but few are chosen."
Reflection Jesus continues to use parables to challenge the chief priests and elders to see what is happening before their eyes and to change. Last week, He used the traditional image of Israel as the beloved vineyard of God - this week, He draws on the symbol of the Wedding Feast. As is customary, those invited to the wedding are those closest to families of those getting married. As is not so customary, Jesus says that those who were invited thought that they had better things to do - working on the farm or going about their business. Some were so incensed about being disturbed that they attacked those bringing the invitations. Understandably, the king who issued the invitation is furious and deals harshly with those who have murdered his servants. The feast is to go ahead - but now, he offers his invitation to the crowds in the streets - an open invitation to anyone who wants to come. Again, what was offered to - and rejected by - one group of people, is now passed on to another. The wedding hall, we are told, was full of guests - bad and good alike. Among the crowds, though, the king spots one who has not dressed for the occasion - and who cannot explain why. Here is someone who has responded to the invitation - but who still does not belong.The guest refuses to explain why not - and so suffers the same fate as those who rejected the first invitation - to be left outside - realising what they were missing. The invitation into the Kingdom is now open to everyone. We accept the invitation - but also need to make ourselves ready to attend the feast. We do this by putting on our “wedding garment” - in St Paul’s words, we put on Christ - we clothe ourselves in love - in gentleness - in all that is worthy of the Kingdom.
Adults - Pray about and choose a virtue that you need to work on in your life, commit to one month of working on it.
Teens - How can you be more gentle in your daily life?
Kids - Why is it important for us to be gentle with others?
LIVING THE WORD OF GOD THIS WEEK! - We have the invitation to the wedding feast; in fact, we are already in the banquet hall, since our baptism; but are we wearing the wedding garment of virtue and grace? If not, we are no better off than those who rejected the invitation. The king may come in at any moment and cast out those who are not properly dressed. Being a member of the Church on earth is a wonderful privilege, and a sure guarantee that we will reach heaven, if we receive the gift of Jesus. But the same obstacles which prevented the Pharisees from entering the kingdom—love of this world, its wealth and its pleasures—can impede us too, unless we are on our guard. The world with its allurements is very close to us; heaven seems very far away. This implies a daily carrying of the cross, a daily struggle against our evil inclinations, a daily endeavor to acquire true love of God and neighbor. This may sound superhuman, but Christ did not ask anyone to do the impossible. He led the way, and millions have followed him to eternal glory. He has called us too and has placed within our easy reach in his Church all the grace we need. We have been called with the many. We can be among the "chosen."
578. What is the origin of the Our Father? a) Jesus taught it to us; Jesus taught us this Christian prayer for which there is no substitute, the Our Father, on the day on which one of his disciples saw him praying and asked him, “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1). The Church’s liturgical tradition has always used the text of Saint Matthew (6:9-13).
579. What is the place of the Our Father in the Scriptures? d) all of the above; The Our Father is the “summary of the whole Gospel” (Tertullian), “the perfect prayer” (Saint Thomas Aquinas). Found in the middle of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), it presents in the form of prayer the essential content of the Gospel.
580. Why is it called the “Lord’s Prayer”? c) it is a prayer Jesus taught us; The Our Father is called the “Oratio Dominica”, that is, the Lord’s Prayer because it was taught to us by the Lord Jesus himself.
581. What place does the Our Father have in the prayer of the Church? d) it is integral and the prayer of the Church par excellence; The Lord’s Prayer is the prayer of the Church par excellence. It is “handed on” in Baptism to signify the new birth of the children of God into the divine life. The full meaning of the Our Father is revealed in the eucharist since its petitions are based on the mystery of salvation already accomplished, petitions that will be fully heard at the coming of the Lord. The Our Father is an integral part of the Liturgy of the Hours.