Archive for March, 2011

Let’s Us Pray This Psalm Together….

Posted: March 31, 2011 by CatholicJules in Life's Journeys

Dearest Sisters & Brothers In Christ,

God is our Hope and he is always present when we reach out to him.  Pray this Psalm together with me as we draw closer to Celebration of life at the end of his Lenten journey.

Psalm 63

Comfort and Assurance in God’s Presence A Psalm of David, when he was in the Wilderness of Judah.

2 O God, you are my God– for you I long! For you my body yearns; for you my soul thirsts, Like a land parched, lifeless, and without water.

3 So I look to you in the sanctuary to see your power and glory.

4 For your love is better than life; my lips offer you worship!

5 I will bless you as long as I live; I will lift up my hands, calling on your name.

6 My soul shall savor the rich banquet of praise, with joyous lips my mouth shall honor you!

7 When I think of you upon my bed, through the night watches I will recall

8 That you indeed are my help, and in the shadow of your wings I shout for joy.

9 My soul clings fast to you; your right hand upholds me.

10 But those who seek my life will come to ruin; they shall go down to the depths of the earth!

11 They shall be handed over to the sword and become the prey of jackals!

12 But the king shall rejoice in God; all who swear by the Lord shall exult, for the mouths of liars will be shut!

 

The Spiritual Offering Of Prayer

Posted: March 31, 2011 by CatholicJules in Memory Book

From the treatise On Prayer by Tertullian, priest

Prayer is the offering in spirit that has done away with the sacrifices of old. What good do I receive from the multiplicity of your sacrifices? asks God. I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams, and I do not want the fat of lambs and the blood of bulls and goats. Who has asked for these from your hands?

What God has asked for we learn from the Gospel. The hour will come,he says, when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. God is a spirit, and so he looks for worshipers who are like himself.

We are true worshipers and true priests. We pray in spirit, and so offer in spirit the sacrifice of prayer. Prayer is an offering that belongs to God and is acceptable to him: it is the offering he has asked for, the offering he planned as his own.

We must dedicate this offering with our whole heart, we must fatten it on faith, tend it by truth, keep it unblemished through innocence and clean through chastity, and crown it with love. We must escort it to the altar of God in a procession of good works to the sound of psalms and hymns. Then it will gain for us all that we ask of God.

Since God asks for prayer offered in spirit and in truth, how can he deny anything to this kind of prayer? How great is the evidence of its power, as we read and hear and believe.

Of old, prayer was able to rescue from fire and beasts and hunger, even before it received its perfection from Christ. How much greater then is the power of Christian prayer. No longer does prayer bring an angel of comfort to the heart of a fiery furnace, or close up the mouths of lions, or transport to the hungry food from the fields. No longer does it remove all sense of pain by the grace it wins for others. But it gives the armor of patience to those who suffer, who feel pain, who are distressed. It strengthens the power of grace, so that faith may know what it is gaining from the Lord, and understand what it is suffering for the name of God.

In the past prayer was able to bring down punishment, rout armies, withhold the blessing of rain. Now, however, the prayer of the just turns aside the whole anger of God, keeps vigil for its enemies, pleads for persecutors. Is it any wonder that it can call down water from heaven when it could obtain fire from heaven as well? Prayer is the one thing that can conquer God. But Christ has willed that it should work no evil, and has given it all power over good.

Its only art is to call back the souls of the dead from the very journey into death, to give strength to the weak, to heal the sick, to exorcise the possessed, to open prison cells, to free the innocent from their chains. Prayer cleanses from sin, drives away temptations, stamps out persecutions, comforts the fainthearted, gives new strength to the courageous, brings travelers safely home, calms the waves, confounds robbers, feeds the poor, overrules the rich, lifts up the fallen, supports those who are falling, sustains those who stand firm.

All the angels pray. Every creature prays. Cattle and wild beasts pray and bend the knee. As they come from their barns and caves they look out to heaven and call out, lifting up their spirit in their own fashion. The birds too rise and lift themselves up to heaven: they open out their wings, instead of hands, in the form of a cross, and give voice to what seems to be a prayer.

What more need be said on the duty of prayer? Even the Lord himself prayed. To him be honor and power for ever and ever. Amen.

 

March 27th, 2011 – 3rd Sunday of Lent

Posted: March 25, 2011 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections

Sunday Bible Reflections with Dr. Scott Hahn

Striking the Rock

Readings:

Exodus 17:3-7
Psalm 95:1-2, 6-9
Romans 5:1-2, 5-8
John 4:5-15,19-26,39-42


The Israelites’ hearts were hardened by their hardships in the desert.

Though they saw His mighty deeds, in their thirst they grumble and put God to the test in today’s First Reading – a crisis point recalled also in today’s Psalm.

Jesus is thirsty too in today’s Gospel. He thirsts for souls (see John 19:28). He longs to give the Samaritan woman the living waters that well up to eternal life.

These waters couldn’t be drawn from the well of Jacob, father of the Israelites and the Samaritans. But Jesus was something greater than Jacob (see Luke 11:31-32).

The Samaritans were Israelites who escaped exile when Assyria conquered the Northern Kingdom eight centuries before Christ (see 2 Kings 17:6,24-41). They were despised for intermarrying with non-Israelites and worshipping at Mount Gerazim, not Jerusalem.

But Jesus tells the woman that the “hour” of true worship is coming, when all will worship God in Spirit and truth.

Jesus’ “hour” is the “appointed time” that Paul speaks of in today’s Epistle. It is the hour when the Rock of our salvation was struck on the Cross. Struck by the soldier’s lance, living waters flowed out from our Rock (see John 19:34-37).

These waters are the Holy Spirit (see John 7:38-39), the gift of God (see Hebrews 6:4).

By the living waters the ancient enmities of Samaritans and Jews have been washed away, the dividing wall between Israel and the nations is broken down (see Ephesians 2:12-14,18). Since His hour, all may drink of the Spirit in Baptism (see 1 Corinthians 12:13).

In this Eucharist, the Lord now is in our midst – as He was at the Rock of Horeb and at the well of Jacob.

In the “today” of our Liturgy, He calls us to believe: “I am He,” come to pour out the love of God into our hearts through the Holy Spirit. How can we continue to worship as if we don’t understand? How can our hearts remain hardened?

Photos : EMC 2010 & 2011

Posted: March 24, 2011 by CatholicJules in Photos

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DVD St Anthony – The Miracle Worker Of Padua

Posted: March 21, 2011 by CatholicJules in DVD Review

 

DVD Details

Actors: Daniele Liotti, Enrico Brignano, Jose Sancho

Directors: Umberto Marino

Format: Full Screen, Closed-captioned,

NTSCLanguage: ItalianSubtitles: English

Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)

Number of discs: 1Rated: NR (Not Rated)

Studio: Ignatius PressDVD

Release Date: January 1, 2005

Run Time: 95 minutes

Product Description

The first major feature length drama on the life of St. Anthony of Padua, one of the most popular saints in Christian history. Made in Italy with top-notch acting talent, and superb cinematography, this is an outstanding film on the inspiring life of St. Anthony. It presents Anthony as a strong and appealing person who sacrificed wealth, popularity and looks for the Kingdom of God. It beautifully portrays the power of his preaching, the holiness of his life, his love for the poor and oppressed, and the wonders of his miracles. Sure to be a very popular film!

Personal Review

I love this movie for the actors, storyline and cinematography, though I cannot comment on the historical accuracy of the film.   Still the life and the Scripture knowledge of this remarkable Saint is inspiring and I have developed a deep fondness for St Anthony.  I definitely recommend watching it!

Perhaps this extract of a review done by Madeline P Nugent will help with the historical accuracy bit in this movie.

Here are just some of the things that the movie portrayed that are not in any of the histories:

1. That Anthony killed a man in knightly combat.
2. That Anthony had a girl friend by any name (she is called Teresa in the movie)
3. That Anthony was depressed

Here are some wonderful, true incidents in the life of St. Anthony that were not in the movie but, in my opinion, should have been:

1. The power of his preaching. The preaching he is shown giving is sappy, in my opinion, when we actually have volumes of his stirring sermon notes and lofty and beautiful theology. I could have preached better than he did in the movie.
2. The confrontation with heretics (he was called the Hammer of Heretics) yet his love for them. We have hints of this in the movie but don’t get a good sense of why he had enemies (the religious and political controversy involving Catharism is not explained well enough).
3. His miracles such as the poor woman’s broken wine glass restored or the maid that ran through the rain with vegetables for the friars and didn’t get wet or the band of robbers that went to hear him and were all converted.

A great deal of the movie concerned fiction that is not in any of the biographies of the saint while leaving out some of the major and powerful aspects of his life. The movie is worth seeing, but it falls short of the saint. I hope someone remakes a movie of St. Anthony and sticks close to his life as we have it historically because such a movie would be stirring indeed.

March 20, 2011 – 2nd Sunday of Lent

Posted: March 19, 2011 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections

Sunday Bible Reflections by Dr. Scott Hahn

Listen to Him

Readings:

Genesis 12:1-4
Psalm 33:4-5,18-20, 22
2 Timothy 1:8-10
Matthew 17:1-9

Today’s Gospel portrays Jesus as a new and greater Moses.

Moses also took three companions up a mountain and on the seventh day was overshadowed by the shining cloud of God’s presence. He too spoke with God and his face and clothing were made radiant in the encounter (see Exodus 24,34).

But in today’s Lenten Liturgy, the Church wants us to look back past Moses. Indeed, we are asked to contemplate what today’s Epistle calls God’s “design…from before time began.”

With his promises to Abram in today’s First Reading, God formed the people through whom He would reveal himself and bestow His blessings on all humanity.

He later elevated these promises to eternal covenants and changed Abram’s name to Abraham, promising that he would be father of a host nations (see Genesis 17:5). In remembrance of His covenant with Abraham he raised up Moses (see Exodus 2:24; 3:8), and later swore an everlasting kingdom to David ‘s sons (see Jeremiah 33:26).

In Jesus’ transfiguration today, He is revealed as the One through whom God fulfills his divine plan from of old.

Not only a new Moses, Jesus is also the “beloved son” promised to Abraham and again to David (see Genesis 22:15-18; Psalm 2:7; Matthew 1:1).

Moses foretold a prophet like him to whom Israel would listen (see Deuteronomy 18:15,18) and Isaiah foretold an anointed servant in whom God would be well-pleased (see Isaiah 42:1). Jesus is this prophet and this servant, as the Voice on the mountain tells us today.

By faith we have been made children of the covenant with Abraham (see Galatians 3:7-9; Acts 3:25). He calls us, too, to a holy life, to follow His Son to the heavenly homeland He has promised. We know, as we sing in today’s Psalm, that we who hope in Him will be delivered from death.

So like our father in faith, we go forth as the Lord directs us: “Listen to Him!”


I had a strong desire a few years ago to serve in our Church in whatever Ministry that allowed me some form of flexibility in managing my time.  The reason for this, is because I am doing shift work at my employ and so it is almost impossible to commit to a fixed weekly schedule.   To my limited knowledge at that time, I knew a few ministries and almost all of them would require a rather fixed schedule.  So I shelved the idea, thinking it best that I wait till either I find an office hour job or serve when I retire.   Deep in my heart I wanted to serve as an Extraordinary Minister Of Communion, but felt that I was not worthy as I led a rather sinful life.  So in my mind I was considering an alternative, and that it would likely be to serve  in the capacity of a warden.

After a few years had passed and as my elder son was preparing that year to receive his first Holy Communion.  Parents had to meet regularly with the Parish Priest so that all of us could equip ourselves with the knowledge necessary to share our faith with our kids.  While this was going on, our Parish Priest was also started a basic bible knowledge course of which both my wife and I made a commitment to attend, as we were learning so much from him.  That was how I received my calling to the EMC.

I desperately needed to change my lifestyle and my life! But how?  So I prayed earnestly to God to for help and His guidance and was led to join the LISS seminars.  Needless to say that it was life changing, thereafter I developed a deeper and closer relationship with the one triune God.

Close to a year now since I started this journey, I am now serving as EMC.  On the first two occasions that I served during Mass, it was slightly overwhelming because not only was I elated to serve, but had to observe and remember quite a fair bit all while being reverent.  I have pondered and prayed and still pray everyday on how I can serve our Lord to the best of my ability.  The other day as I prayed on how to always remain focussed on Jesus especially when I am serving Mass as EMC, the Holy Spirit led me with this thought, “You are holding Jesus in your hand” then I had a vision of St Anthony holding the child Jesus.  I teared with joy in my heart…….and uttered a resounding AMEN.

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I extracted this from a book which I think is wonderful and does an incredible job in describing what it truly means to be a Eucharistic Minister of Holy Communion….

For special ministers of Holy Communion, there is another dignity and responsibility: you must become what you give.  You must become and live as the Body of Christ that you give to your brothers and sisters.  In you as in the bread and wine of the Eucharist, God the Father starts with the human and brings out the beyond-the-human.  God the Father gives you a share in a ministry that humans could not deserve and would not dare ask for their own! Your call to serve is as unexpected and as undeserved as the young boy’s at the multiplication of the loaves and fishes out of thin air. (John 6:1-15) He could have, but didn’t.  When Jesus wanted to feed the large, hungry crowd of his hearers, he didn’t ask the Father to create loaves and fishes out of thin air.  He could have, but he didn’t.  Jesus began this great miracle with loaves and fishes provided by a young boy.  How happy and surprised that boy must have felt in knowing that Jesus had chosen to use his loaves and fishes in so great a miracle!  The boy and the crowd that shared his lunch realized that God likes to start with the human when he is acting for and with human beings,  God starts with the human-with-us to lead us beyond human possibilities.  That is what Jesus did for the hungry crowd on the hillside in Galilee; that is what Jesus does for us who accept God’s call to ministry and for those we serve.

Through your humble service as minister of Communion, God unites you to your fellow members of the Body of Christ and actually forms all of you into that Body.  But God doesn’t do this without the human: God loves the human too much to ignore it! A special minister’s human, personal, interior qualities will either build up or tear down the Body of Christ, that temple for God in the Spirit made up of brothers and sisters in Christ.  The “Rite of Commissioning Special Ministers of Holy Communion” contains words that are worth recalling often: “In this ministry, you must be examples of Christian living in faith and conduct; you must strive to grow in holiness through this sacrament of unity and love.  Remember that, through many, we are one body because we share the one bread and one cup.”

There must be an essential unity between your life inside and outside the liturgy, as the liturgical scholar Aidan Kavanagh states: “The common end for which the diverse liturgical ministries work is not a ceremony but a corporate life in faithful communion with all God’s holy people and holy things.  For this reason liturgical ministers should never be seen to do in the liturgy what they are regularly seen to do outside the liturgy.”  To put his another way: your service as ministers inside the liturgy should only make visible the faith and love you are seen to manifest outside the liturgy.  Generous self-giving, conformed to the pattern of Chris’s self giving unto death, must mark both your interior and exterior life both inside and outside the liturgy.

St Augustine exhorted his hearers to such self-giving while praising St Lawrence , deacon and martyr , who had ministered the chalice of the Lord’s Blood:”Just as he had partaken of a gift of self at the table of the Lord, so he prepared to offer such a gift. In his life he loved Christ; in his death he followed his footsteps.”  Similarly, your love for Christ present in the Eucharist and in his people will make the bread and wine you minister to others genuine signs of Christ’s self-sacrifice and your own.  The bread and wine that you minister to others will be outward signs of the love that flows from the heart of Christ and from your own heart.

“If then, you want to understand the body of Christ,” says Saint Augustine, “remember what the Apostle says: ‘You are the body of Christ and members thereof’(1Cor 12:27).  If, then, you are the body of Christ and his members, it is your mystery which is set forth on the Lord’s table; it is your own mystery that you receive.  You say ‘Amen’ to what you are, and in saying ‘Amen’ you subscribe to it.  For you hear the words ‘The body of Christ,” and you answer ‘Amen.’ Be members of the body of Christ then, so that your ‘Amen’ may be authentic.”  As special ministers of Holy Communion, you join with your brothers and sisters to say “Amen” to Christ as you receive him in the Eucharist; you also lead your brothers and sisters, through their “Amen,” to make a personal act of faith in the Christ who is present in the Eucharist and in themselves. Let your “Amen” to being a member of the Body of Christ be true, so that you can help make others’ “Amen” to being members of the Body of Christ also be true.  This true “Amen” is a Christian Commitment: the liturgical ministries, ”As special ways of living out the baptismal life of faith….demand a renewal of faith in view of the new charge given by the community to the individual.  These moments of personal dedication demand reflection, prayer, and discernment so that the decisions to be made may be truly responsive to God’s call.

Such reflection, prayer, and discernment are not one-time only nourishment, but a necessary diet for sustaining a life of generous service to God’s people, both inside and outside the liturgy.  Your life as a special minister of Holy Communion must be one of both being and giving the Body of Christ .  Let your “Amen” to that life of service be real and complete.  Then you will find great joy in the Lord who chooses to be present in you, in those your serve, and in the Eucharist that forms you into his Body.