St John Paul II: The Pope Who Changed History

pope-john-paul-ii

YouTube Preview Image

Book Review: Trusting God with St Therese

51VkusZ+voL BO2 204 203 200 PIsitb sticker v3 big TopRight 0 55 SX278 SY278 PIkin4 BottomRight 1 22 AA300 SH20 OU01

You can buy a copy of Trusting God with St Therese here

 

Does news of ISIS, the Ebola virus and the Synod on the Family fill you with anxiety?

Are you downcast and disheartened by the unraveling of our society and its descent into amoral self-destruction?

Maybe your problems are closer to home.

Do you worry about your children’s friends? Are you caring for a sick child or an elderly relative? Does it seem that you’ll never make enough money to get ahead? Do you fear for your job? Are you faced with a scary health problem?

Is life beating you to the ground on a daily basis?

Trusting God with St Therese is for you.

Connie Rossini does a good job of teaching St Therese’ “little way” in a comprehensible manner that makes it easy to apply to our daily lives. Since reading the book, I’ve been reminding myself to say “Jesus I trust you,” whenever I consider the problems that face me. It helps me a great deal to remind myself that I am not in this life alone. I have a companion who will never desert me, and who, ultimately, has already claimed the victory over all that assails me.

St Therese practiced a life of sanctity based on living each day for Him and through Him. She did not focus on being sinless, but on trusting God for her salvation. She did not attempt great deeds, but entrusted her every action to Him on a daily, and even momentary, basis.

It’s so simple, really. When my mother interrupts me for the 50th (I’m not exaggerating when I say 50; over the course of a day it’s accurate) to ask me something she’s already asked me 49 times and I snap at her, What do you want? St Therese reminds me to turn to God and ask Him for a kiss, or a bit of comfort rather than falling into guilt and despair.

She teaches us to view God as a loving parent, which, for me, is a good analogy. In that way, my own imperfect Daddy is a good model for God. I understand unconditional love because I had it all my life from my Daddy and from that elderly Mama I now care for.

St Therese teaches God as that same sort of loving parent, only writ eternal and almighty.

Think about it for a moment. Is there anything you can do, any accomplishment you can accomplish, that will make God love you? Conversely, is there anything you can do that will make Him stop loving you?

Too often, people come to the conclusion that the answer to the last question is yes. Yes, you can make God stop loving you.

But that simply is not true. Hard as it is to fathom, God loves the murderers of ISIS as much as He loves you and me. They have rejected Him, and sadly, they’ve done it in His name. They are running away from Him and from salvation as hard as they can, and they are laying waste whole areas of the world in the process. They have made themselves the servants and the disciples of satan.

But that does not cancel out God’s love for them. It does not change His willingness to forgive them and change them from sons of darkness to children of Light. The message of the Cross is that no matter what we’ve done, Jesus has paid the eternal price for it. All we need to do is say “yes” to His offer of forgiveness and newness of life.

God’s love lets us roam free, even of Him. We can do our worst. He will still love us.

And if we turn back to Him, the rejoicing in heaven will fill us with love and peace enough to change our souls.

For those of us who do not commit the ghastly barbarisms of ISIS and their fellow mass murderers, this may seem like an odd example. After all, what does me, speaking tartly to my Mama when she interrupts me repeatedly to ask me what day it is or where she put her cane, have to do with the destroyers of life and civilization?

Nothing. And everything.

God’s love for them is the same as His love for me. It is, in both cases, unconditional.

Which is why St Therese and her little way are true. The Bible tells us that God remembers our frame, He knows that we are dust, which is a poetic way of saying that He knows our weaknesses, our tiredness, our sadness; our anxiety and our fears.

He knows us. All the way through. And He loves us with an everlasting love.

We can go to Him like disobedient children because that is exactly what we are.

Connie Rossini has written a fine book, explaining how to live the Little Way in our daily lives. I recommend it.

God Uses Us in the Broken Places. All We Have to Do Is Let Him.

1451394_10152365559883303_2515308386147693647_n.jpg

Catholic Patheosi Sisters in Christ. Lisa Hendey, Kathy Schiffer, Margaret Rose Realy. I’m the one in front, sitting down.

 

Where do I start?

Last week was the best. I’m still a wee bit tired from it, still absorbing and processing it. Where do I begin to tell you about it? I guess I’ll begin with the high point.

The high point wasn’t spending time with my Catholic Patheosi sisters in Christ, although I can tell you that was a blessing all in itself. The high point wasn’t meeting other Catholic writer/publishers/artists from all over the country, although again, that was an immersion in generous and loving like-mindedness that this outlier in the Oklahoma wilderness has never experienced before.

10307166_617722885014748_207578862047430568_n.jpg

Margaret Rose Realy, being interviewed by EWTN.

The high point, the Everest, of this entire week was the Thursday mass.

I almost didn’t go.

It had been such a full day. I “pitched” a book to an editor, presented an hour-long presentation and participated in a panel discussion. Between lunch and the panel discussion, I went to my room to take off my blazer and sat down in a chair.

Just for a moment.

I woke up an hour and half later. I had to scoot to get to the panel discussion in time and my neck was in permanent crick from sleeping pretzel-sytle in that chair.

Soooo, after the panel, I thought I’d just go up to my room, put on something comfy, order up room service and relax. No reason, I decided, to go to mass.

I got as far as the elevators, and in that hotel, the distance between our conference rooms and the elevators is a good hoof. I punched the up button. Then, while I was waiting for the door to open, I turned around and hoofed it back to the conference rooms.

I didn’t make a decision to go to mass. I just automatic-piloted my way down the hall, over the connector tunnel and then clomped down the stairs.

Father Frank Pavone, who was the celebrant, was already processing in when I slid into the last vacant seat on the back row between a couple of nuns and an elderly gentleman. I sometimes have mass troubles, and I braced myself, as tired as I was, for major mass troubles that day.

My mass troubles have been hitting me hard the past few months. What happens is that I sit in mass and am overwhelmed by a pounding sense that I am too unworthy to be in that room. It can, and sometimes does, reduce me to tears. It can and sometimes does, drive me away from mass. There are days when I get up and leave, mid-mass.

I’ve learned that if I can hang on and force myself to go forward and accept the Host, Jesus will heal me. When my mass trouble comes on me hard, I am like the woman with the hemorrhage who touched the hem of His garment and was healed, over and over, mass after mass, week after week.

But getting there, making it through mass without running away and then progressing up to the front of that line, many times making a humiliating spectacle of myself because tears keep leaking out of my eyes and dripping down my cheeks, can be an act of endurance, and, since I’ve learned that the Host heals, trust.

I’m like that woman from long ago, thinking If I can just touch the hem of His garment; if I can only touch Him; I will be healed. 

I slipped into that room, sat on that chair at the very back, and, while I didn’t think it in words, the thought was there: I hope I can get through this. There was safety in that door, a few steps away. I could leave if I had to, before anyone was the wiser.

But, after months of this on-going battle with the devil every time I go to mass, this time was different. There were no hants rising from the swamps of memory, no feeling of unworthiness. It was just me; solid and whole, standing in a roomful of other Jesus lovers, participating in the sweet miracle of heaven touching earth in bread and wine.

I have memories of such a solid sense of self as I felt then, but I have to go far back to find them.

Father Pavone brought a gift to us at that mass. He had what I think he called a “First class relic” of St John Paul II. I’m not up on my relic rules, but I think that’s what he said. It was a small spot of blood on a postage-stamp sized bit of cloth. The blood came from St John Paul’s body the day he died.

10338229_10202653741045773_2223903078314365685_n.jpg

Kathy Schiffer and Gary Zimak.

Father Pavone took the time — and it was quite a bit of time — to stand at the front of the room and give each of us an opportunity to venerate this relic. It worked out that I was the last person in the last line, the last one to do so.

I brought home a lot of work to do. I now have two books to write instead of just one, and I have a real hope that they both will be published. I’m not excited. I am … sure.

I am sure that this is what I’m supposed to be doing, and that Our Lord has both me and this work in the palm of His hand. This morning, while I was praying my Rosary, I felt St John Paul, sort of coaching me about what I should do. It neither surprises nor awes me that he came home with me from that mass.

That is the order of things. The spiritual world is as real and reliable as our physical world we inhabit in this life. An ice cube will melt in a glass of warm water. Always. And God comes to those who love Him. Always.

Sometimes, in fact, quite often, He sends His helpers by. My fellow Catholic Patheosi Kathy Schiffer, Margaret Rose Realy and Lisa Hendey are just such helpers. So, is St John Paul II.

I’m telling you this intensely personal story for one reason. I want the people who are reading this post — and I trust that the Lord will send the right ones by — to know that, to paraphrase St Paul, nothing, not the things we do, not the things done to us, can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus.

God uses us in the broken places. All we have to do is let Him.

10568837_10204260887184500_7399200664516861084_n

The panel I almost slept through. Gary Zimak, Kathy Schiffer, me, Margaret Rose Realy.

 

Book Review: Saints and Social Justice, a Guide to Changing the World.

To join the discussion about Saints and Social Justice, A Guide to Changing the World, or to order a copy, go here

Saints and Social Justice is an inspiring book.

Brandon Vogt, who is donating — tithing sounds more like it — 100% of his royalties from this book to Catholic Charities, has put the faces and stories of several saints on the universal call to social justice that comes to us from Our Lord. By doing this, he shows us how the Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes and the parable of the Good Samaritan have been acted out in the 2,000 year history of our faith.

Reading this book made me want to be a better person and a better Christian.

This is going to be a short review, because I don’t need to say a lot.

Saints and Social Justice, A Guide to Changing the World is well-researched, well-written, inspiring and enjoyable to read.

I recommend it.

Chaplet of St Michael

In these times, we probably should pray this more often.

YouTube Preview Image

Convert to Islam or You Will Be Crucified Like Christ

Christian Crucified In Syria1 610x400

Photo Source: watchmen-news.com

Don’t let this story fill you with hate.

That is exactly what the devil wants.

Let it fill you with awe at the faith of our brothers and sisters in Christ. Consider the depth of faith and the power of the Holy Spirit to sustain them, even in this. Consider also the great trust God has given them and how fully they lived up to that trust.

They are saints.

The Daily Mail broke a story, complete with graphic photos, of two men who were crucified by Syrian rebels. The rebels put signs on the men saying that they were crucified for using explosive devices against the rebels. It does not say if these men were Christians, but considering their crucifixions, that seems likely. This story has all the sex appeal any publication could want: Graphic photos, horrific suffering and rage-inducing injustice.

The bad guys, it seems are very bad indeed.

But there is another story that, as usual, is not being reported. Christians have been threatened with crucifixion and have been martyred at the hands of the Syrian rebels for refusing to deny Christ and convert to Islam for quite a while now. Mainstream news organizations don’t report this, even though it would be a ratings getter for them.

According to FrontPage Mag, Sister Raghad, the former head of the Patriarchate School in Damascus, has testified that she personally witnessed this. The rebels are telling Christians, “Convert to Islam or you will be crucified like Christ.”

These reports make me even more certain that the American people did the right thing by opposing the plan to use Tomahawk missiles on Syria. If we had done that, it would have destroyed the remaining infrastructure and stability of the country and almost certainly have led to the rebel’s victory in this war.

Soldiers 12724 1

Photo Source: News.Naij.com

The question of who is funding these rebels so that they can wage war against the nation of Syria is a serious one. That kind of money does not come from individual wealth. Even Bill Gates would find himself going broke if he was personally funding a war against an established government, especially a government that is being supported by another government, in this case, Russia.

I’ve read reports that the United States is funding these rebels. That makes a kind of sense. After all, (1) Not many nations have the spare cash to fund whole wars on the side, and (2) Why else would we have been so eager to launch Tomahawk missiles into Syria and thus help these rebels win?

I’m raising these political issues because they lead to a couple of important questions: (1) To what extent, if any, are our tax dollars, which come directly from the money we make by going to work every day, being used in support of the violent persecution of our brothers and sisters in Christ? (2) If we are funding the rebels, who is benefitting from it? It’s not the American people or the people of Syria.

Our brothers and sisters who die for Jesus are in heaven. They have joined the long line of martyrs for Christ that goes back to Stephen.

What would you do if someone who meant it and could do it told you Convert to Islam or you will be crucified like Christ?

Before you give a glib answer, think how hard it is for you to stand up for him against television networks and people on your job. Consider how often students in school convert to the trendy anti-Christian babble the teachers and the other students are peddling, not because they will be crucified, but because they will be shunned and made fun of?

When was the last time you denied Jesus by keeping silent when someone disparaged Him or made a cutting comment about Christians?

Now, answer again. What would you do if someone who meant it and who had the power over you to do it told you Convert to Islam or you will be crucified like Christ?

The people who refuse to deny Jesus in the face of persecution, torture, and certain death are His chosen ones. They are His saints. Their blood is the blood of martyrs.

Don’t let their passion, which is so much like His passion, provoke you to hatred and rage. Let it provoke you to awe and respect.

And action.

If our government is funding these rebels, we the people need to know why our government is allowing them to persecute Christians. We have the right, as citizens of this country to ask and be answered about this.

In the meantime, I intend to pray and ask these martyred ones to intercede for persecuted Christians, everywhere.

Because they, like Him, have been lifted up.

Syria

Photo Source: Archbishop Nassar, Maronite archbishop, Damascus

From FrontPage Mag:

Sister Raghad, the former head of the Patriarchate School in Damascus who currently resides in France, told Vatican Radio how she personally witnessed jihadi rebels terrorize Ma‘loula, including by pressuring Christians to proclaim the shehada—Islam’s credo that there is no god but Allah and Muhammad is his messenger—which, when uttered before Muslim witnesses transforms the speaker into a Muslim, with the death penalty for apostasy should the convert later “renege” by returning to Christianity.

According to the nun, those Christians who refused to embrace Islam were

killed in atrocious and violent ways that cannot be described.  If you want examples, they crucified two youths in Ma‘loula for refusing to proclaim Islam’s credo, saying to them: “Perhaps you want to die like your teacher [Christ] whom you believe in?  You have two choices: either proclaim the shehada or else be crucified.  One of them was crucified before his father, whom they also killed.”

In fact, according to earlier media reports from October 2013, soon after Ma‘loula fell to the jihadis, one “shaky voiced” elderly Christian man had reported that he heard the invading jihadis shouting, “Convert to Islam, or you will be crucified like Jesus.”

It is, of course, a documented fact that some Christians in Ma‘loula were put to death for refusing to convert to Islam, such as Minas, an Armenian man, while other families succumbed to pressure and converted to Islam at the tip of the sword.

Polish Pilgrims Run 1,200 Miles to JP2′s Canonization

Polish pilgrims who ran to Rome for the April 27 2014 canonizations of John Paul II and John XXIII pause for lunch after the Mass Credit Alan Holdren CNA CNA

Polish pilgrims who ran to Rome for the April 27, 2014 canonizations of John Paul II and John XXIII pause for lunch after the Mass. Credit: Alan Holdren/CNA.

John Paul II, the Polish pope who brought down Communism.

Now, he’s a saint, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he doesn’t soon become the new patron saint for Poland. I imagine he already is the patron Saint of most polish households.

From what I’ve read, Pope John Paul II retained a deep love and constant connections with his homeland to the day of his death. He had a Polish cook at the Vatican who prepared Polish meals for him, and he had friends from Poland nearby throughout his papacy.

Saint John Paul was so completely a pope for the whole world that we tend to forget that he came from a particular place and time and that this history shaped him in profound ways. The sufferings of Poland taught Saint John Paul about the cruelty and weaknesses of fallen humanity, the dangers of unjust governments and the sanctity of human life.

In this way, the whole world owes Poland a debt. The painful experiences of Poland, as the country was overrun from the West and then the East, were not in vain. They imbued this son of Poland with the great heart of a saint. He became the light of Christ for people everywhere. His teachings will echo down the generations.

It is no wonder that the good people of Poland wanted to do something special for the canonization of Saint John Paul II. I think their idea to run the 1,200 miles from Poland to Rome for the event is especially apt. It is a difficult thing to take on such a long run. It requires unselfish love of others, courage and perseverance in the face of difficulties to endure to the end of the race.

How can anything be more emblematic of Saint John Paul II than that?

From Catholic News Agency:

.- A group of Polish friends decided to run the whole way to Rome to be present for the canonizations of Saints John Paul II and John XXIII, explaining that their key motivation was to give “thanks.”

“We don’t have any (official) group. We are friends,” Tomasz Pietnerzak told CNA April 27, explaining that when another friend suggested “why don’t we run to Vatican? I said ok, we run. Let’s go!”

Having run a grand total of about 1,200 miles (2,000 kilometers) in order to be present at the Vatican on Divine Mercy Sunday for the papal canonizations, the group consists of 22 men of varying ages, who collectively ran about 185 miles (300 kilometers) a day.

When asked about the primary motivation driving the initiative, Pietnerzak simply stated that they “Run for thanks,” pointing to the word “Thanks” printed on the back of the matching athletic jerseys they wore.

“We run because we can’t do anything else,” the pilgrim explained, emphasizing their gratitude for John Paul II first of all because he is “from Poland,” but also because “he changed world, and Poland.”

“He’s a good man, good man,” they reflected, “he changed Europe.”

Despite the group’s fondness of the sport, they replied with a firm “No, no!” when asked if they would run on the way back, stating that they would most likely return by car – a “come back car,” they jested.

The Mass for the canonization of now-Saints John Paul II and John XXIII was held April 27 at 9:30 a.m. in St. Peter’s Square, where huge numbers of pilgrims gathered, spilling out onto the main road and overflowing into the surrounding squares.

What was it like at the canonization?

Thanks to television, we were all pilgrims at the canonization. But what was it like to actually be there?

These videos reveal that it was exhausting, beautiful, joyous and hopeful.

YouTube Preview Image YouTube Preview Image

John Paul II Taught Us What It Means to Follow God to the End

Cardinal Sandri reflects on John Paul II’s courage as he followed Our Lord through to the end of his pontificate.

YouTube Preview Image

Bishop Fulton Sheen Discusses Pope John XXIII

Bishop Fulton Sheen discusses Pope John XXIII from the viewpoint of one who knew him.

YouTube Preview Image

Young Pope John XXIII


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X