Sunday, June 8, 2014

Marian Day of Prayer Follow Up - A "Cinematic Pilgrimage"

Zaid Jazrawi, the producer of The Triumph and me

On May 31st I attended the Marian Day of Prayer event at Canada Christian College presented by the Ave Maria Centre of Peace. It was a grace filled event that included: the screening of the Medjugorje documentary film, The Triumph, testimonials from four guest speakers who shared their personal experiences on how Our Lady Queen of Peace in Medjugorje changed their lives, and the recitation of the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary and the Divine Mercy Chaplet. In addition there was an impressive selection of print material and DVD's, Rosaries, devotional pamphlets, prayer cards, medals, posters, t-shirts and Medjugorje newsletters from the early days of the apparitions. As one of the official volunteers of the event, it truly was a gift to assist with the day's program schedule. Today's post is not only a follow up to my previous post, Marian Day of Prayer - A Grace Filled Day WIth Our Lady Queen of Peace, but also a sharing of what I experienced that day.

Saturday's event was in part a "cinematic pilgrimage," as it began with the screening of the Medjugorje documentary film, The Triumph. As one of two individuals co-ordinating the audio and visual includes for this event, my vantage point afforded me the opportunity to observe the audience reaction to the film. It became abundantly clear from the first few minutes that everyone was captivated by it. The showing of the movie was well placed in the program schedule as it ushered in the spirit of Medjugorje to our location here in Toronto and set the tone for the remainder of the day. 

Watching The Triumph that day was my fourth screening. It is an incredibly well made film whose importance and significance for today's world can not be overstated. My compliments and full marks to Zaid Jazrawi, the producer and Sean Bloomfield who directed the documentary. The Marian Day of Prayer event this year was especially blessed to have one of these two gentlemen with us, Zaid Jazrawi. Zaid was the first guest speaker and his effort that day really gave glory to God and honoured Our Lady right from the beginning. Admitting that he needed Our Lady's assistance, Zaid asked all of us to join him in a Hail Mary, so that Our Lady would guide him as to what he would say. It was my first time hearing Zaid speak and I was impressed by the certainty with which he responded to Our Lady's call. What a wonderful gift it was for us to hear about his life changing experiences that took him from being a successful businessman and millionaire leading a very secular life, to his conversion that resulted in the selling of all his businesses and using those assets for the making of The Triumph. 

Me, Tammy Willis and Wayne Weible

During his talk, Zaid allowed for audience feedback and questions. It was during this time, that we all received another special gift, the testimonial of a young woman who was healed in Medjugorje. This young woman, Tammy Willis, within the span of approximately three minutes relayed to the audience what had happened as a direct result of Our Lady's intercession in her life. Tammy, a mother of four children was diagnosed with brain cancer three years ago. Because of its location, the medical doctors could not have offered her any viable treatment except a surgery. To have proceeded with the surgical option would have left her dead, or severely mentally disabled. She and her husband decided to wait on The Divine Physician. In the mean time, the cancer became significantly more aggressive just this past March, leaving her very little hope. It was at this time that Tammy was called, and not by her own accord, to Medjugorje. With very little opportunity to plan and not knowing anyone or where to stay, Tammy contacted two Canadians who now live in Medjugorje about her situation. Upon reading Tammy's email, she was immediately invited to stay with these two Canadians as long as necessary. It was obvious that Our Lady not only invited her to Medjugorje, but cleared the way for her. Tammy returned from Medjugorje completely filled with peace, and also, healing. Tammy's MRI, taken the day after her arrival back home and confirmed by medical reports, concluded that her brain cancer went into remission. Tammy's presence at the event, a living Medjugorje miracle became the fifth testimonial. 

If you are somewhat new to the Medjugorje apparitions, Our Lady Queen of Peace as she entitled herself, appeared in Medjugorje on June 24, 1981 on the Feast of St. John The Baptist to the first two of six visionaries, Ivanka Elez (formerly Ivankovic) and Mirjana Soldo (formerly Dragicevic). The next day, Our Lady appeared to the other four: Marija Lunetti (formerly Pavlovic), Jakov Colo, Ivan Dragicevic and Vicka Mijatovic (formerly Ivankovic). At these apparitions, Our Lady Queen of Peace, has prayed with the visionaries, granted blessings and given messages for the world. At my blog's sidebar, you will find the "little stones" message, current messages and videos of three of the six visionaries. I have also published separate blog posts for each "little stone" which you can find at the "Medjugorje" label.

The Medjugorje apparitions not only caught the attention of the local Bosnian villages, but that of the whole world. Today, over 50 million pilgrims have gone to Medjugorje. Many are "searching souls" seeking clarity for important life questions. Some go to Medjugorje for spiritual, physical and/or psychological healing. Medjugorje is a place of many graces: where confessions are provided for each day, where the Rosary is recited daily, where vocations are found to the priesthood, religious life and secular paths as well. Some have gone to Medjugorje fully aware of this, while others have not. Some have visited it reluctantly, upon the insistence of a family member or friend, only to find out later that Our Lady was the true source of the invitation. 

Michael Russell O'Brien speaking at the event

Michael Russell O'Brien, one of the four guest speakers at this event was one such reluctant invitee. Upon his acceptance of the invitation and subsequent pilgrimage to Medjugorje, his life changed forever. O'Brien's experiences in Medjugorje included some unforeseen occurrences, that were the beginning of his being purged from his previous life. You might think that a testimonial on Medjugorje, one's conversion and the experience of it all is a totally serious matter, and it certainly is, but add to this O'Brien's comical narration and the result is one of the most hilarious pilgrimage stories I have ever heard.

Right from the very beginning he set the tone and added the comic relief by revealing the awkwardness, confusion and uncertainty he experienced. It seemed to be a standard part of his daily schedule. It was all apart of Our Lady's plan for him, his conversion and the new life that was about to be revealed to him. I will not recount all that O'Brien spoke about, but I would like to share one particular story, the appearance of the Blessed Virgin Mary to him. It was during one night, well into the pilgrimage that O'Brien had to go to the washroom. Back in the early days of the apparitions, pilgrims had to use an "outhouse" to go the washroom. It was during one night, on a full moon, that as he left the outhouse, and only a few feet away from him was a woman clothed with a white veil and blue dress before him. O'Brien was awe struck and amazed as he immediately knelt down with hands clasped viewing the beautiful Blessed Virgin Mary appearing before him. His mind racing with thoughts, "Oh, I can't believe it, I'm the seventh visionary..." Then, he looked down at the Blessed Virgin Mary's feet and saw she was wearing Reebok running shoes. He looked up again and realized the woman appearing to him, was in fact his own mom, who had accompanied him on the pilgrimage. At that point, the audience broke out into another loud laughter.

O'Brien's comical narrative continued with his experiences with Vicka, one of the six Medjugorje "real" visionaries. Building up to this segment of his pilgrimage, O'Brien shared how he was mysteriously led from wandering on a street, not knowing where exactly where he was going, to being surrounded by a crowd of non-English speaking pilgrimages who hovered over him, to being led up a staircase of an unknown residence. Eventually, he got to the part of arriving to listen to Vicka speak about Our Lady. It was at Vicka's residence that O'Brien was summoned by Vicka herself to approach her. As O'Brien stated, it was another awkward moment and he was somewhat reluctant and hesitant. Our Lady remedied this by inspiring the crowd to clear a "walking path" for him, which left him no choice but to go to Vicka. In front of Vicka, with everyone watching, he wondered what was the purpose of all this as he anxiously awaited to see what was to happen next. This was the moment of his new direction in life. Vicka began writing on a piece of paper a personal message for him from Our Lady. The message was in Croatian and upon translation, O'Brien received his instructions, that Our Lady wanted him to use his musical and creative gifts to sing for Her, to spread Medjugorje to the world. O'Brien's response to Our Lady was "yes." Praised be Jesus and Mary, because at the Marian Day of Prayer, we all became the beneficiaries of his "yes" to Our Lady.

At the conclusion of O'Brien's talk, I felt encouraged and strengthened in my devotion to Our Lady. Michael is a passionate man with great musical talent. His talk coupled with his singing made for an uplifting experience. To give you an example of what we experienced that day, I captured a short segment of Michael singing which you can view on YouTube. You can find more of his songs at his web site,

Fr. Rick Wendell during his talk

The third guest speaker, Father Rick Wendell shared his dramatic conversion experience with the audience. Father Rick's secular life of sin ended with his physical death. Upon his mom's prayer, God restored him to life and he began a new life living for God and Our Lady. How moving it was to listen to some of the details of his secular life, told to us as a priest. Our Lady in Medjugorje stated that it is through the clergy that Her Immaculate Heart will triumph. The clergy are the bridge between Our Lady and the world, in which God's greater glory will be realized. Father Rick demonstrated his importance in Our Lady's plan for us that day, by his wonderful talk, by generously hearing many confessions and providing a special blessing that was enthusiastically received by many.

As for the fourth guest speaker, Wayne Weible, it was particularly gratifying to have finally met him. Prior to this event, I had only known of him. I discovered his Marian calling through one of his newsletter publications, Miracle at MedjugorjeIt was given to me during my volunteer effort at one of the previous Toronto screenings of The Triumph. Eventually, I visited Wayne's web site Medjugorje Weible and quickly understood that he was chosen by Our Lady to be one of her main vessels to spread Medjugorje throughout the world. To give you a sense of just how significant Wayne's life has become in Our Lady's plan, I would like to quote Wayne in his own words from his new book, Medjugorje The Last Apparition - How It Will Change The World:
For more than 26 years, I have been immersed in all aspects of the apparitions, including constant scrutiny of the messages given from the first day to the present. Much time, professional and personal, has been spent with the visionaries and others directly involved, through formal interviews and casual conversations. I have written eight books about Medjugorje and travelled millions of miles across the globe lecturing on the specific message of the apparitions. It is a mission, and its purpose is to attempt to make people aware of this greatest of spiritual graces, which allows Mary to be the messenger, teacher and spiritual mother to all who will listen. (p.10) 
Upon knowing of Wayne as one of the four guest speakers, it certainly built up my enthusiasm for this event. To have met and chatted with him was a gift. In addition, I not only purchased his new book, but I had the pleasure of having dinner with him, Michael O'Brien, Zaid Jazrawi, and others given by the Ave Maria Center of Peace, to a select group as part of a celebration of what proved to be a very successful day.

On a personal note, I feel very blessed to have been apart of the Marian Day of Prayer. Not only did It strengthen my devotion to Our Lady and encourage my faith journey, but I met so many wonderful people. It is always great to be among like minded individuals. I hope that those who are new to Medjugorje and did not attend the Marian Day of Prayer, will be encouraged to discover and learn more about Our Lady's messages.

The Marian apparitions in Medjugorje are considered to be the "most important event in the world today." Wayne Weible in his aforementioned book provides three main reasons for this. The first, is that this small Bosnian town is place of abundant graces where many spiritual fruits have been harvested. (p.6) Second, the fact that Our Lady has been appearing for 33 years to so many visionaries "with such profound global impact" is like no other apparition in the history of the Catholic Church. (p.21) Third, Our Lady stated that Medjugorje is the last time she will be appearing to the world as an apparition. Why is this so? Our Lady has stated that once the ten secrets come into effect, apparitions will no longer be necessary. (p.21)

To discover Medjugorje is but the first step of a renewed faith journey, the impetus to a greater conversion. The process of discovery must be accompanied by prayer, as Our Lady has stated in her August 25, 1993 message, "Dear children! I want you to understand that I am your Mother, that I want to help you and call you to prayer. Only by prayer can you understand and accept my messages and practice them in your life..." Rest assured that I will include in my daily recitation of the entire Rosary, all those who have been spiritually adopted by Medjugorje and as a special mention, those who will endeavour to discover Medjugorje!

Our Lady Queen of Peace, pray for us.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Marian Day of Prayer - A Grace Filled Day With Our Lady Queen of Peace

Mirjana Soldo's Monthly Apparition - Scene From The Triumph

The month of May is the "Month of Mary" in the Catholic Church and I hope that most of you who are reading this blog post have made that extra effort to honour Our Blessed Mother during this time. For those of you who have wanted to, but have not done so and would like an opportunity to make up for it, today's post is definitely for you.

In a few days time on Saturday, May 31st, there will be a Marian Day of Prayer at Canada Christian College, a wonderful Marian event organized and presented by the Ave Maria Centre of Peace. It will be a grace filled day that will include: the recitation of the Joyful and Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary, the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, confessions available through the day and Mass. In addition, there will be four guest speakers providing testimonials on how Our Lady Queen of Peace in Medjugorje changed their lives: Zaid Jazrawi, a millionaire businessman who sold his businesses to produce The Triumph, Michael O'Brien a converted rock and roll musician who now performs for Our Lady, Father Rick Wendell, a lay Catholic that was called to the priesthood after living a life mired in sin and Wayne Weible, a former newspaper publisher, journalist, and non-practicing Lutheran who sold his publishing business and devoted his life to spreading awareness on the importance of Medjugorje. The program schedule will begin with the screening of the Medjugorje movie, The Triumph. If you missed this documentary's previous screenings here in the Toronto area this past winter, Saturday's Marian event will be an opportunity to view one of the most inspiring films on Medjugorje. For those of you who have honoured Mary in an increased way this month, the Marian Day of Prayer is a perfect way to conclude May's Marian theme.

If you are somewhat new to Medjugorje and The Triumph movie, I have published several posts on both, but perhaps a brief introduction would be in order. Our Lady first appeared in Medjugorje on June 24, 1981 on the Feast of St. John The Baptist to the first two of six visionaries, Ivanka Elez (formerly Ivankovic) and Mirjana Soldo (formerly Dragicevic). The next day, Our Lady appeared to the other four: Marija Lunetti (formerly Pavlovic), Jakov Colo, Ivan Dragicevic and Vicka Mijatovic (formerly Ivankovic). At these apparitions, Our Lady Queen of Peace as she has entitled herself, has prayed with the visionaries, granted blessings and given messages for the world. The four basic messages of Our Lady are: prayer, peace, fasting and penance. Here is Our Lady's basic messages in Her own words on June 6, 1988:
Dear children, it’s going to be seven years soon that I have been coming to you. I ask you to renew in yourselves the messages I have given to you. These are messages of prayer, peace, fasting, and penance. Make some penance yourselves. All of the other messages come from these four basic ones, but also live the other ones. Thank you for responding to my call. I am your Mother. Open your heart to the grace.
Our Lady's messages are so important and have received so much international attention, that today over 40 million pilgrims have gone to and become spiritually adopted by Medjugorje. There is so much peace and hope emanating from Medjugorje that it has clearly become the spiritual center of the world. Medjugorje is a place of many graces where: confessions are heard daily, where the entire Rosary is recited daily, where pilgrims arrive daily, where people find the answers to life questions, where conversions occur, where faith and hope is restored and strengthened, where there are vocations to the priesthood and religious life, where there are all types of healing, where miracles occur everyday, all of which are just some of the fruits harvested in this spiritual orchard we affectionately refer to as Medjugorje.

The messages from Our Lady continue to this day. Immediate access to the current messages and Our Lady's "little stones" (core messages) are available at my sidebar. In addition there are videos from three of the six visionaries: Mirjana Soldo, Jakov Colo and Vicka Mijatovic speaking about Our Lady's messages. I also have published posts on each "little stone" which you can find by clicking on the "Medjugorje" label.

The documentary film, The Triumph produced by Zaid Jazrawi and directed by Sean Bloomfield, is a must see movie for anyone who has a serious devotion to Our Lady. The documentary is presented in the form of a narrative of a young man's life, Ben, who is searching and seeking clarity for his life. Ben accepts Our Lady's invitation to Medjugorje and he quickly experiences a conversion in which he cooperates with Our Lady's plan by entering into the Cenacolo Community, a community for troubled young men who work, live and pray together, beginning life anew.

This ever important documentary of the Marian apparitions at Medjugorje includes a host of various individuals providing their testimony and commentary. An actual apparition, Mirjana Soldo's second of the month apparition is filmed. Bloomfield does a wonderful job capturing the spirit of Our Lady's visit to Mirjana and the joy experienced by the myriad of pilgrims in attendance. In addition to her apparition, the film provides the viewer with an opportunity to get to know Mirjana a bit with the inclusion of an unexpected interview she grants to Ben. As well, the viewer is exposed to the panoramic scenes of the beautiful wine vineyards, Cross Mountain, Apparition Hill, a visit to the Cenacolo Community, Serbian Orthodox Monastery and the Annual Youth Festival. This is but a partial list of what this documentary includes. If you would like to view the trailer, I have it available at my sidebar.

Saint Louis De Montfort in his book, True Devotion To Mary states that, Mary being our model and guide is our most surest and quickest way to Jesus. Mary is a Mother who knows and understands us and who can perfectly guide us on our earthly pilgrimage. Attending the Marian Day of Prayer will be a great opportunity to further experience Mary's love and will no doubt help you to further open your heart to Our Lady and her role in your life.

Our Lady Queen of Peace, pray for us.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

The Rosary - Its Importance For Your Salvation

Saint Pope John Paul II reciting the Rosary

With May being the "Month of Mary" today's post is an encouragement to spend more time in prayer with Our Blessed Mother. Some of you may have already responded to May's Marian theme, while others have yet to do so. If you fall into the latter group, I hope today's post will help open your heart and mind to consider a new or renewed devotion to Our Lady. 

Have you thought much about Mary this month? Have you recited any Marian prayers? If you do not pray the entire Rosary, that is, all four sets of mysteries, have you considered adding to the sets of mysteries you currently recite? Have you yet to begin reciting the Rosary each day? Have you ever prayed to Mary? If you find some of these questions intriguing, I hope you will feel encouraged to read further? There are many Marian prayers that you could recite, but today's post focusses on the most Holy Rosary of The Blessed Virgin Mary and its importance for your salvation.

What sets the Rosary apart from other prayers is the efficaciousness of this method of prayer. Next to the Holy Mass, the Rosary is the most powerful prayer available for us to recite. The Rosary is a meditation on the life of and passion of Christ, on Mary's life, on the Gospel lessons and virtues contained within. Mary has been encouraging us to pray the Rosary for centuries. Saint Dominic first received the Rosary in 1214 as a powerful means to convert the Albigensians and combat all sin. Since St. Dominic's time, many other Apostles of Mary have recited and propagated the Rosary including: St. Louis De Montfort, St. Jean Marie Vianney, St. Pio of Pietrelcina (Padre Pio) and St. Pope John Paul II.

In our recent times, Our Lady Queen of Peace in Medjugorje has been emphasizing the importance of prayer for thirty three years. So important is the Rosary for our faith journey, that Our Lady in Medjugorje has included the Rosary as one of the "five little stones," which I have written about in my post entitled, Pray With The Heart The Rosary Everyday. The reference of "little stones" is part of an analogy of the little stones God gave to David to defeat Goliath (1 Samuel 17). In our time, Our Lady has given us "five little stones" to defeat our modern day Goliath, the Evil One. All five stones are listed at my sidebar for your immediate reference and you can find detailed posts on each one by clicking on the "Medjugorje" label. In one of her many Medjugorje messages on the Rosary, Our Lady stated, "I would like the people to pray along with me these days. And to pray as much as possible! And to fast strictly on Wednesdays and Fridays, and every day to pray at least one Rosary: the joyful, sorrowful and glorious mysteries." (August 14, 1984) 

The Rosary is a wonderful daily opportunity to draw closer to Jesus and Mary. It is an invitation from a Mother who loves her children dearly and who wants them to be sanctified and saved. If you are somewhat new to the Rosary, below is a list that reveals the benefits granted to those who recite the Rosary. Saint Louis De Montfort's book, The Secret of The Rosary the Twenty Seventh Rose - Benefits, contains this list: 
  • It gradually brings us a perfect knowledge of Jesus Christ; 
  • It purifies our souls from sin; 
  • It gives us victory over all our enemies; 
  • It makes the practice of virtue easy; 
  • It sets us on fire with the love of our Lord; 
  • It enriches us with graces and merits; 
  • It supplies us with what is needed to pay all our debts to God and to our fellowmen, and finally, it obtains all kinds of graces from God.
For those of you who have never heard of or read The Secret of the Rosary, it is a must read book for anyone who is serious about the Rosary. In the Secret of the Rosary, St. Louis De Montfort endeavours to express the importance and relevance of the Rosary in our lives, both during our earthly pilgrimage and its significance for our eternal salvation. The Secret of The Rosary contains everything that can be said about the Rosary, in terms of its content, form, real worth and the necessary instruction for its application and use. The Secret of The Rosary will bring to the reader not only a better understanding of the Rosary as a form of contemplative prayer, but especially as a guide to the spiritual life. 

From my own experience, it seems that many consider the Rosary as one of many prayers that could be recited, with no particular importance placed upon it. Unfortunately, those that do think this way do not understand the Rosary and why we have been given it. The Rosary is an especially important opportunity for the faithful to accept Our Lady's invitation to sanctity and holiness, to have as our intercessor a Mother who loves us beyond our understanding and who also reads and knows our hearts, who will journey with us, protect us and lead us in the most efficacious and quickest manner to Jesus, Our Saviour and Redeemer. Let us not forget that the primary purpose of our earthly pilgrimage is our salvation. With this in mind, who would not want a powerful intercessor as the Blessed Virgin Mary to obtain for them all that they need for the journey? Many do not think in such terms, but this is exactly how we should view Our Lady's role in our lives.

To further spot light the significance of the Rosary for our salvation, I would like to share an anecdote of a Roman woman's confessional experience with Saint Dominic. I am certain it will serve as a great encouragement for those who have yet to embrace the Rosary and its daily recitation. This anecdote can be found in The Secret of The Rosary's Twenty Sixth Rose - Sublime Prayer. Below is an excerpt from this chapter:
Whatever you do, do not be like a certain pious but self-willed lady in Rome, so often referred to by speakers on the Rosary. She was so devout and fervent that she put to shame by her holy life even the strictest religious in the church. 
Having decided to ask St. Dominic's advice about her spiritual life, she made her confession to him. For penance he gave her one Rosary to say and advised her to say it every day. She excused herself, saying that she had her regular exercises, that she made the Stations of Rome every day, that she wore sackcloth as well as a hair-shirt, that she gave herself the discipline several times a week, that she often fasted and did other penances. Saint Dominic urged her over and over again to take his advice and say the Rosary, but she would not hear of it. She left the confessional, horrified at the methods of this new spiritual director who had tried so hard to persuade her to take up a devotion for which she had no taste. 
Later on, when she was at prayer she fell into ecstasy and had a vision of her soul appearing before the Supreme Judge. Saint Michael put all her penances and to her prayers on one side of the scale and all her sins and imperfections on the other. The tray of her good works were greatly outweighed by that of her sins and imperfections. 
Filled with alarm, she cried out for mercy, imploring the help of the Blessed Virgin, her gracious advocate, who took the one and only Rosary she had said for her penance and dropped it on the tray of her good works. This one Rosary was so heavy that it weighed more than all her sins as well as her good works. Our Lady then reproved her for having refused to follow the counsel of her servant Dominic and for not saying the Rosary every day. 
As soon as she came to herself she rushed and threw herself at the feet of Saint Dominic and told him all that had happened, begged his forgiveness and promised to say the Rosary faithfully every day. By this means she rose to Christian perfection and finally to the glory of everlasting life. 
The lesson to be learned from this anecdote is abundantly clear, we need to pray the Rosary every day. If you are new to the Rosary or you have never prayed it daily, it is not something that you can embark on and hope to accomplish so quickly. To pray the entire Rosary daily may appear to be quite a daunting "task" for those that have never or infrequently recited it, but there is a way to accomplish this. The successful daily recitation of the entire Rosary requires a heart felt commitment and an adjustment to your daily calendar. 

One of the fundamental aspects of reciting the Rosary that must be understood from the very beginning is that it is an expression of love and not a "task." Praying the Rosary should not be considered as a forced obligation or recited with the aim of completing all the prayers. Not always being properly disposed does not excuse you from praying the Rosary. The recitation of the Rosary should be a continuous act of love, an extension of your love for Our Lady. The Rosary is "praying with the heart," and an intention you should include each day at each recitation, in order to receive the graces to do so. Praying with the heart is one of Our Lady's most consistent Medjugorje messages to us, her children.

On your part, cooperation with grace must be your daily effort to pray the Rosary, striving to increase your capacity to pray. Reaching your daily goal of reciting the entire Rosary is much like an athlete training for a marathon. As an athlete begins to train for a marathon by running only a few kilometres, so too must you do likewise, by praying only a decade or two and building upon that. As an athlete builds up his or her capacity to run farther, so too will your capacity increase to pray more decades. Eventually, much like an athlete that ran the distance and crossed the finish line, so too will you "pray the distance" and cross the spiritual finish line.

May Our Lady Queen of Peace inspire you to recite the Rosary daily and guide and protect you as you train for the Marathon of Grace.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Saint Pope John Paul II - My Tribute To An Extraordinary Soul

Karol Józef Wojtyła - Saint Pope John Paul II

Pope John Paul II has profoundly influenced my life in so many ways that to include the complete details would entail the publishing of a series of blog posts. My post of today and my previous posts under the new label "Saint Pope John Paul II" have already begun to create that series. It would take several more posts to capture the vast contributions he has made to the Church and the world. To do so, would be part of a fitting tribute for such an extraordinary soul whose life example shall forever remain as a treasure for humanity to draw from.

For those of us who have come to know this wonderful saint and have benefitted from his life example, his canonization has been a time for joy and gratitude. Today's post is an expression of my joy and gratitude, my tribute to an extraordinary soul. It is one that I unite to all Catholics and Christians alike and all people of good will, who are remembering the life of a great man, a friend to humanity. 

In my view, one of the most intriguing aspects of Saint Pope John Paul II's life has been his positive response to the negativity and evil of this world, which he personally experienced in so many ways. As a teenager and young adult, he responded to the circumstances of his life as an actor, philosopher, poet, playwright, but his greatest response to the enormity of evil that he witnessed was, as a priest. The ministry of the priesthood allowed him to broaden his reach and in a greater and more fundamental way, live his life in communion with others as a sincere and total gift of self. It was because he positively responded with love that he effectively tackled the many evils facing the Church and the world: war, totalitarian regimes, secularism, consumerism, the trappings, lies and deception brought on in part by modernity and the attacks on the family, the dignity and respect for the human person and the value and inviolability of human life. 

Saint Pope John Paul II's life was one deeply rooted in prayer. He had complete trust in Divine Providence, one that was centered on Christ and strengthened through the maternal intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary. So great was Pope John Paul II's trust in God and devotion to Mary that it had permeated his entire life and pontificate. He revealed this in many ways. His papal moto, Totus Tuus (Totally Yours), was borrowed from St. Louis De Montfort, another great saint in the history of the Catholic Church whose devotion to Mary produced two Marian classics: True Devotion to Mary and The Secret of The RosaryOne of the most inspiring examples of his trust in God and devotion to Mary was when he commented one year after being shot in St. Peter's Square, "In the designs of Providence, there are no mere coincidences." His statement was an acceptance of God's plan that was fostered by his firm belief in the Blessed Mother's intervention in deflecting one of the bullets that otherwise would have caused massive internal bleeding and his death within a few minutes. Saint Pope John Paul II's trust in Divine Providence was nourished, strengthened and sustained by his prayer and devotions, by his relationship with the Holy Trinity and Mary that can be aptly described as Divine Intimacy. The result of which was a blessed and grace filled life that allowed him to tackle the many challenges he faced, both on a personal level and in his priestly ministry, from his first parish assignment at St. Florian's in Kraków to his election as Pope in Rome in 1978. 

Karol Józef Wojtyła, better known to the world as Saint Pope John Paul II was born on May 18, 1920 in Wadowice, Poland which is several kilometers south west of Kraków. Early in his childhood, he experienced tragedy on two fronts: the first was the death of his mother when he was nine, the other was the death of his older brother Edmund in 1932 a doctor who contracted scarlet fever from a patient he was treating. With such losses, the principle figure in the young Karol's life was his father, the elder Karol Wojtyła, who was known to everyone in Wadowice as "the Captain." The elder Karol was a retired army officer whose profound Catholic faith and integrity left a lasting impression on the young Karol as an example of manly piety.

During his exceptional years in high school, he had a through interest in literature of Polish Romanticism, which began to nurture a life long interest with the theater. In 1938, the young Karol and his father moved to Kraków where he began his studies in Polish philology at Jagiellonian University. Although his university life was interrupted by the double occupation of Nazi Germany and Communist Russia, he continued with clandestine studies at the same university, which for a while had become an underground institution. There was some benefit to this interruption. During World War II, Karol spent his war years as a manual labourer. Forced to acquire a work permit, he worked in the Zakrzówek rock quarry in Kraków, then in the Solvay chemical factory in the southern part of Kraków. The experience gave him a profound understanding of manual labour and the dignity and rights that should be accorded to labourers.

Part of his university days were not only a time of study, but also a time discovery of Polish culture, which he helped to spread and promote through reading, poetry and acting. The Jagiellonian University sponsored the Rhapsodic Theater, a five member troupe that without costumes or props, practiced theater ensuring that classic Polish drama and poetry was not forgotten. This was vital in the effort to keep Polish culture alive in the minds and memories of Poles. It was a culture that was under attack by the Nazi occupiers who were attempting to eradicate all Polish culture and thus, any tangible reality of Poland. It was at this time that he also took on the role of leader in the Living Rosary groups and discovered Carmelite spirituality.

Further trying times entered the young Karol's life. First, he narrowly escaped capture on two occasions from the Gestapo, the official secret police of Nazi Germany. Then, one night while walking home, he was hit by a truck and suffered a broken shoulder and concussion, left in a roadside ditch, only to be rescued by a local woman and German officer who took him to the hospital. The wartime experience was a vocational struggle that was accelerated by the death of his father in the fall of 1942. After some time and a lot of prayer, he discerned that his life was not mean to be lived as a lay person in the theater, but instead he was being called to a greater dramatic role, that of a Catholic priest.

After resolving his vocation struggle over months of prayer, Karol Wojtyla presented himself to archbishop of Kraków, Adam Stefan Sapieha, who accepted him as a candidate for the priesthood. In 1942, Sapieha gave Karol a place in the clandestine seminary he was conducting. It was young Karol Wojtyla's "yes" to the priesthood that officially began a life long journey as a pastor to many parishes in Poland and eventually throughout the world.

Saint Pope John Paul II's vocational discernment and correct response to God's call to became a priest, began a life of service to Church which all of humanity has benefited from. His meteoric rise in the hierarchy of the Church was a clear sign of the greatness of his life response to God's call. Saint Pope John Paul II's deep faith, moral courage, heroic virtue, unwavering refusal to make any compromise against the truth, and firm belief in the power of God's word to cut through the world's lies, in my view has left us with one of the most important examples in recent Church history for millions around the world to follow.

I think it is most fitting to include in my tribute today an encouragement to learn more about the extraordinary life of Saint Pope John Paul II. The Vatican web site has a dedicated section, Holy See - Pope John Paul II, that provides a complete list of his documents, speeches, homilies and travels during his pontificate. In addition there is the Vatican Biography page of His Holiness John Paul II. You may want to consider reading a book or two on his life. I would like to recommend George Weigel's Witness To Hope and the sequel, The End and The Beginning. George Weigel is Distinguished Senior Fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, a Catholic theologian and one of America’s leading public intellectuals. He holds EPPC’s William E. Simon Chair in Catholic Studies. He was also personally selected by Saint Pope John Paul II to write his biography.

As we endeavour to better understand Saint Pope John Paul II's life and learn from it, let us set out anew following his words of encouragement to the world from his inaugural homily in October'1978, "...To all people of today I once again repeat the impassioned cry with which I began my pastoral ministry: “Do not be afraid! Open, in deed, open wide the doors to Christ!..."

Saint Pope John Paul II, pray for us.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Divine Mercy Novena and Chaplet Begins On Good Friday

Pope John Paul II at Rome’s Rebibbia Prison on December 27th,1983 visiting Mehmet Ali Agca,
the man who tried to assassinate him on May 13th, 1981 
in St. Peter's Square. 

If you have not been following my blog or if you have not visited it in quite some time, today's post continues with a series of posts on Divine Mercy Sunday, a feast that is celebrated on the Sunday after Easter. Jesus requested this feast be established to a Polish nun, Sister Faustina Kowalska who published a diary several hundred pages long documenting all that Jesus communicated to her. The core message of Divine Mercy Sunday is nothing new as it has been taught by the Church through scripture and tradition: that God is merciful and we too must be merciful. Divine Mercy Sunday emphasizes this in a greater way, calling people to a deeper understanding that God's love is unlimited and available to everyone, even the greatest sinners. 

Prior to the Feast of Divine Mercy Sunday, Jesus asked that it be preceded by a Novena to The Divine Mercy, to begin on Good Friday. Jesus gave a specific intention to Sister Faustina for each day of the novena, with the last day the most difficult intention of all, the lukewarm and indifferent souls. Sister Faustina's diary noted this as follows, "These souls cause Me more suffering than any others; it was from such souls that My soul felt the most revulsion in the Garden of Olives. It was on their account that I said: 'My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass Me by.' The last hope of salvation for them is to flee to My Mercy." 

Each day of the novena, we bring to Jesus' heart a different group of souls to be immersed in his ocean of mercy as is noted in Sister Faustina's diary, "On each day of the novena you will bring to My heart a different group of souls and you will immerse them in this ocean of My mercy ... On each day you will beg My Father, on the strength of My passion, for the graces for these souls." Below are the different groups of souls prayed for each day of the novena:
  1. DAY 1 (Good Friday) - All mankind, especially sinners
  2. DAY 2 (Holy Saturday) - The souls of priests and religious
  3. DAY 3 (Easter Sunday) - All devout and faithful souls
  4. DAY 4 (Easter Monday) - Those who do not believe in and do not yet know Jesus 
  5. DAY 5 (Easter Tuesday) - The souls of separated brethren
  6. DAY 6 (Easter Wednesday) - The meek and humble souls and the souls of children
  7. DAY 7 (Easter Thursday) - The souls who especially venerate and glorify Jesus' mercy
  8. DAY 8 (Easter Friday) - The souls who are detained in purgatory; 
  9. DAY 9 (Easter Saturday) - The souls who have become lukewarm.
During the Solemn Novena leading to Divine Mercy Sunday, the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, should be offered each day for the above noted daily intentions. That is, on Day One in addition to the novena prayer, recite the chaplet for that day's same intention. This would mean that For Day One, both sets of prayers (novena and chaplet) would be offered up for "All mankind, especially sinners. On Day Two the prayers would be offered up for "The souls of priests and religious" and so forth. This pattern would continue until all the intentions for the novena were completed. It is important to note that a proper spirit of prayer must accompany the recitation of the novena and chaplet. It would not suffice to mechanically recite the prayers, content on completing them without true devotion. 

Here is what Jesus told Sister Faustina about the importance and significance of the Divine Mercy Chaplet:
"Say unceasingly this chaplet that I have taught you. Whoever will recite it will receive great Mercy at the hour of death. Priests will recommend it to sinners as their last hope of salvation. Even if there were a sinner most hardened, if he were to recite this Chaplet only once, he would receive grace from My Infinite Mercy. I desire that the whole world know My Infinite Mercy. I desire to grant unimaginable graces to those who trust in My Mercy...." (Diary 687)

"....When they say this Chaplet in the presence of the dying, I will stand between My Father and the dying person not as the just judge but as the Merciful Savior".
An end note regarding the selected photo associated with today's post. As the caption mentions, it is Pope John Paul II visiting the Turkish assassin who tried to kill him. What the photo further spot lights about the Divine Mercy Devotion, that Pope John Paul clearly demonstrated, as followers of Christ we must be merciful. This is a requirement of the Divine Mercy Devotion. Jesus stated to Sister Faustina, "...there must also be deeds of mercy, which are to arise out of love for Me. You are to show mercy to our neighbours always and everywhere. You must not shrink from this or try to absolve yourself from it. (Diary 742)

Jesus, have mercy on us. Our Lady Queen of Peace, pray for us.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Divine Mercy Sunday - An Opportunity To Obtain A Plenary Indulgence

Sister Faustina, Pope John Paul II and
the image of Divine Mercy
Today's post builds upon and is a continuation of my previous post, Divine Mercy Sunday - The Message of Mercy From Jesus. The message of mercy from Jesus is a beautiful expression of Our Saviour and Redeemer's love for us. It is a love so great that we can not fully comprehend it, but He has made in known in part through Divine Mercy Sunday which comes with it an opportunity to receive a plenary indulgence. 

Jesus communicated this wonderful gift of a plenary indulgence to Sister Faustina Kowalska, the young Polish nun who wrote a diary of several hundred pages, documenting all that Jesus communicated to her about His message of mercy. Part of that message was concerning the plenary indulgence, which was noted as follows: 
On one occasion, I heard these words: My daughter, tell the whole world about My Inconceivable mercy. I desire that the Feast of Mercy be a refuge and shelter for all souls, and especially for poor sinners. On that day the very depths of My tender mercy are open. I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who approach the fount of My mercy.The soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion shall obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment. On that day all the divine floodgates through which grace flow are opened. Let no soul fear to draw near to Me, even though its sins be as scarlet. My mercy is so great that no mind, be it of man or of angel, will be able to fathom it throughout all eternity. Everything that exists has come forth from the very depths of My most tender mercy...(Diary 699)
An important point to note regarding the Divine Mercy Devotion is the requirement that we strive not only to properly prepare to receive mercy from Jesus, but we must extend His mercy to others through our deeds. Jesus was very specific about this as noted in Sister Faustina's diary:
Yes, the first Sunday after Easter is the Feast of Mercy, but there must also be deeds of mercy, which are to arise out of love for Me. You are to show mercy to our neighbours always and everywhere. You must not shrink from this or try to absolve yourself from it. (Diary742)
A plenary indulgence is the full remission of temporal punishment due to sacramentally forgiven sins. This is granted by the merits of Jesus Christ, the Blessed Virgin Mary and all the saints. There are two kinds of punishment attached to sin, eternal and temporal. Sacramental confession absolves us and forgives the eternal guilt of sin, but it does not necessarily remove the temporal punishment. It depends on our degree of sorrow, which may result in the expiation of all the temporal guilt of our sins. For what ever is lacking in our sorrow and with it any remaining temporal punishment, we must expiate through prayer, penance and other means. What temporal punishment remains after death must be made up for in Purgatory.

The Divine Mercy Sunday indulgence is an opportunity for the complete remission of all temporal punishments resulting from our sins. Dependent upon this in part, is our openness to God's grace. It is important that we perform the conditions of the Divine Mercy Sunday indulgence in a proper manner, that is with true devotion and sincerity in our desire to receive the indulgence.

It is also important that we be detached from our sins, that is, truly detest our sins. In so doing, we orient our will away from creatures and direct it toward God. This is a necessary condition that must be satisfied to receive the plenary indulgence. In this way, we open our will to God's mercy flowing into our souls, which alone is able to effect the complete remission of all temporal punishment. 

To receive a plenary indulgence, the following are the usual conditions:
  • Sacramental Confession, within abut 20 days before or after
  • Eucharistic Communion, preferably on the day, or the days before or after
  • Prayer for the intentions of the Supreme Pontiff (Pope Francis)
The specific conditions for the Divine Mercy Sunday indulgence that must be satisfied in addition to the usual conditions are:
  • in any church or chapel, in a spirit that is completely detached from the affection for a sin, even a venial sin, take part in the prayers and devotions held in honour of Divine Mercy
  • or, in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament exposed or reserved in the tabernacle, recite the Our Father and the Creed, adding a devout prayer to the merciful Lord Jesus (e.g. Merciful Jesus, I trust in you!")

f any of the above conditions are not fulfilled, the indulgence is not considered a plenary indulgence, but a partial indulgence. As a friendly reminder, Divine Mercy Sunday is celebrated on the Sunday after Easter.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Divine Mercy Sunday - The Message of Mercy From Jesus

Pope John Paul II, the Divine Mercy image and Sister Faustina Kowalska

Mark your calendars Divine Mercy Sunday is April 27th. I decided to publish today's post well in advance of the feast day to afford those who have never heard of or practiced this devotion, the time to become familiar with it. If you are such an individual, I hope today's post will help you to understand and embrace this beautiful devotion.

The Divine Mercy message was nothing new, but it was a powerful reminder of what the Church has always taught through scripture and tradition: that God is merciful and forgiving and that we too must show mercy and forgiveness with others, always and everywhere. With the Divine Mercy Devotion, this message takes on a greater focus, calling the faithful to a deeper understanding that God’s love is unlimited and available to everyone, especially the greatest sinners.

The Feast of Divine Mercy Sunday which had initially been granted to Poland and celebrated within Vatican City, was extended to the Universal Catholic Church on April 30th, 2000 by Pope John Paul II. The origin of the Divine Mercy Devotion comes from the writings of Sister Faustina Kowalska, a young uneducated Polish nun who in obedience to her spiritual director, wrote a diary of approximately six hundred pages recording the revelations she received from Jesus about God’s mercy. On February 22, 1931 Jesus appeared to Sister Faustina as was noted in her diary:
In the evening, when I was in my cell, I became aware of the Lord Jesus clothed in a white garment. One hand was raised in blessing, the other was touching the garment at the breast. From the opening of the garment at the breast there came forth two large rays, one red and the other pale. In silence I gazed intently at the Lord; my soul was overwhelmed with fear, but also with great joy. After a while Jesus said to me, 'paint an image according to the pattern you see, with the inscription: Jesus, I trust in You.'
The dialogue continued later as Jesus explained the significance of the coloured rays emanating from His heart:
The pale ray stands for the Water which makes souls righteous; the red ray stands for the Blood which is the life of souls. These two rays issued forth from the depths of My most tender Mercy at that time when My agonizing Heart was opened by a lance on the Cross....Fortunate is the one who will dwell in their shelter, for the just hand of God shall not lay hold of him.
The message of mercy is that Jesus loves all of us, no matter how great our sins may be. Jesus wants us to recognize that His mercy is greater than our sins. With this recognition, we are to call upon Him with trust, that we will receive His mercy and let it flow to others. The result will be that everyone will come to share His joy. The following are three fundamental aspects of the Divine Mercy Devotion: 
  • Ask Jesus For His Mercy. Jesus wants us to approach Him in prayer constantly, with a spirit of true repentance, imploring His mercy upon us and the entire world. 
  • Be Merciful - Not only does Jesus want us to receive His mercy, but He wants us to let it flow to others, extending His love and forgiveness that we received.
  • Completely Trust in Jesus - Jesus wants us to understand that the graces of His mercy are dependent upon our trust in Him. The more we trust in Jesus, the more we will receive.
Living the message of mercy is essential to the Divine Mercy Devotion. The devotional practices associated with the Divine Mercy Devotion are but vessels of mercy through which God's love can be poured out upon the world. It does not suffice for us to recite the Divine Mercy Chaplet, nor to hang a picture of the Divine Mercy image in our homes or pray at 3:00pm each day, the Divine Mercy hour. We must strive to put mercy into action. This is not an option of the Divine Mercy Devotion, it is a requirement. Jesus made this abundantly clear in his direct communication to Sister Faustina, "I demand from you deeds of mercy which are to arise out of love for me. You are to show mercy to your neighbours always and everywhere. You must not shrink from this or try to excuse yourself from it (Diary, 742). 

If you are new to this devotion, showing mercy always and everywhere may seem somewhat difficult if not impossible under certain circumstances, but Jesus assures us that it is possible, "When a soul approaches Me with trust," He explains, "I fill it with such an abundance of graces that it cannot contain them within itself, but radiates them to other souls" (Diary, 1074). This is something we should not only strive for, but pray for daily that we may fulfill the Gospel command, "Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful" (Luke 6:36).

The question remains, how do we radiate God's mercy to others? We do this in three ways: by our actions, by our words and by our prayers. In these three degrees, Jesus told Sister Faustina, "is contained the fullness of mercy" (Diary 742). This threefold practice of mercy is what Jesus is calling us to, but we are not all called in the same way. Jesus who understands our personalities and individual circumstances in our lives, knows perfectly how to help us recognize the ways with which we can show mercy in our daily lives, therefore, we must pray for this imploring Jesus to show us the way. 

In our sincere desire to live the message of mercy, we must completely trust in Jesus and His mercy. In so doing, we can be assured that He will grant us all the graces we need to fulfill the devotional requirements of being merciful with others. It is with such sincerity that we can be confident that Jesus will not categorize us as one of those people who "...draw near with their mouths and honour me with their lips, while their hearts are from from me..." (Is 29:13)

Today's post is but an introduction to the Divine Mercy Devotion. There are other aspects of this devotion that I have reserved for subsequent posts. If after today's reading, you have welcomed Jesus' mercy in your life, then this post has accomplished its goal. For if we truly receive God's mercy and extend it to others, we will be deserving of Christ's wonderful promise, "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy" (Matthew 5:7).


Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Eighth Commandment - "You Shall Not Bear False Witness Against Your Neighbour"

Bishop Philip Egan, Diocese of Portsmouth, England

As we enter into the Third Week of Lent, I thought it appropriate to share a pastoral letter for Lent that in particular addresses bloggers, those who use Facebook, Twitter and engage in other social networking. The pastoral letter, Sin, Lent, Redemption was written by Bishop Philip Egan from the Diocese of Portsmouth, England. For those who are from Portsmouth, have been to the Diocese of Portsmouth, visited the web site and know of Bishop Egan, I am sure you will enjoy reading today's post. 

In the pastoral letter, Bishop Egan sets the tone immediately by stating, "I need to raise with you a very serious matter, one that it is appropriate for us to consider during this season of Lent." This initial sentence is sure to intrigue the reader and as one who has read this document, I can assure you that it will not disappoint those who will do likewise. In the first paragraph, it is made clear that Lent is a time of "Christian warfare," when we journey with Christ in the desert during the great combat. In addition to explaining mortal and venial sin, the necessity to be reconciled with God and neighbour, to listen to the word of God, convert and remember our Baptism, Bishop Egan asks the reader to consider the 8th Commandment, "You Shall Not Bear False Witness Against Your Neighbour," not least within the context of today's digital age. Bishop Egan provides a concise explanation as to how the Eighth Commandment should guide our thinking and actions when blogging and social networking: 
The Ten Commandments make explicit the natural law written into every human heart. They tell us to love God (Commandments One to Three) and to love our neighbour (Commandments Four to Ten). The Eighth Commandment says this:“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour.” In other words, we must exercise discretion, respect others and their privacy, and not engage in slander, gossip and rash judgment. We must avoid calumny, that is, slurring and damaging people, and not spread abroad their sins and failings. How do I use Facebook or Twitter? Am I charitable when blogging? Do I revel in other people’s failings? All this is grave matter.
In my view, Bishop Egan has spot lighted a very important aspect of today's culture in the internet age we live in. How subtle can the temptation be to slander some one, to gossip, to spread rumours, to criticize and in essence, to condemn? Some times such sins occur in a very nonchalant manner amongst family, friends, colleagues, neighbours and with those who we briefly communicate and come into contact with. We must be on guard against such subtleties and demonstrate the moral courage and certitude to completely remove them from our interactions with others, including our on line activity. This also ensures we are not guilty of any one of the Nine Ways of Being An Accessory To Another's Sins.

By putting forth such a diligent effort to be ever on guard against the subtlety of sin, we strive to live the truth. We must not make any compromises against the truth and this may require us to be very candid and direct with those who initiate gossip, rumours and criticism with us. Such sinful activity should be rebuked and rightly considered as Offenses Against Truth. Here is one part of the Catechism of The Catholic Church that I would like to spot light, that specifically details some of the offenses against the truth, Article 8, No. 2477 states:
Respect for the reputation of persons forbids every attitude and word likely to cause them unjust injury. He becomes guilty:
  • of rash judgment who, even tacitly, assumes as true, without sufficient foundation, the moral fault of a neighbour; 
  • of detraction who, without objectively valid reason, discloses another's faults and failings to persons who did not know them;
  • of calumny who, by remarks contrary to the truth, harms the reputation of others and gives occasion for false judgments concerning them.
I encourage everyone to read Article 8 in its entirety for a complete and thorough understanding of, as Bishop Egan rightly states, a very grave matter in today's digital world. By so doing, it will better your understanding of the truth and further encourage you to never make any compromises against it. Understanding the truth is important if we desire to live it. Bishop Egan states, "The truth is always graced. When we speak the Truth, our words are always laden with the Holy Spirit, piercing the heart of the listener and inviting them to accept our words and put them into action."

As one continues to read on, Bishop Egan focusses on something that we all need to remember during Lent, the need to think about "our choices, our sins and our redemption." We must journey through Lent with a focus of purifying our desires through prayer:
In Lent, we think about serious things, our choices, our sins, our redemption. In this season, the Church invites us to purify our desires, especially our deepest desire for happiness, for love, for goodness and truth. In making a moral decision, we cannot choose simply on the basis of what gives us pleasure and what causes us pain. We must also take account of our values, of what is right and what is wrong, recognizing that often, to do the right thing involves self-sacrifice. This is why to purify our desires, to be happy in life, to be psychologically healthy, we must pray. We must be people of prayer. We must develop a personal relationship with God. St. Theresa of Lisieux once said: “For me, prayer is a surge of the heart, a simple look towards heaven, a cry of recognition and love.” We must find time and space every day to pray our morning and night prayers, from the heart to the Heart of Jesus. We cannot be saved unless we pray. We must read the Gospels, use a prayer book, visit the Blessed Sacrament, listen in silence, say the Rosary and the Angelus, maybe recite part of the Divine Office, and take part in the greatest prayer of all, the Sacrifice of the Mass.
In addition to prayer, Bishop Egan urges the faithful to revisit the Sacrament of Reconciliation as there is, "no better way to effect Lenten renewal than to meet Jesus One to one, Face to face, in the Sacrament of Penance, burying our sins in Him and rising with Him to new life."

This pastoral letter is a much needed reminder for everyone. One does not need to blog, use Facebook, Google Plus, Twitter and other social networks to break the Eighth Commandment, but due to the nature of the social networking and the ease with which a negative and uncharitable comment can be posted, it can at times represent a greater occasion of sin. From my experience, the temptation to be uncharitable can increase when visiting certain news sites that publish negative and condemning reports, especially when accompanied by on line forums for visitors to post comments. Even amongst some fellow Catholics, I find some journalists and writers to be somewhat pharisaical in their reporting on Church matters, issues and controversies. In other words, there can be a lack of mercy and charity in their writing. It also begs the question, should they be publishing this information, truthful as it may be? By doing so, does it cause harm to anyone's reputation, cause scandal for the Universal Catholic Church and incite hatred and anger? Are they breaking the Eighth Commandment? 

Lastly, I wanted to point to out that Bishop Egan's pastoral letter includes eighteen endnotes citing many references for further reading including: scripture, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, wisdom from different saints and Canon Law.  

May Bishop Egan's pastoral letter and this blog post better your understanding of the truth and strengthen your resolve to live it.