Saint Charles Borromeo – 4th Nov

Saint Charles Borromeo, Bishop
1538 – 1584

November 4 – Memorial
Liturgical Color: White
Patron Saint of  bishops, cardinals, and seminarians

A young nobleman becomes a Cardinal, exemplifies holiness, and reforms the Church

Today’s saint was born in a castle to an aristocratic family. His father was a count, his mother a Medici, and his uncle a pope. This last fact was to determine the trajectory of Charles Borromeo’s entire life. Pope Pius IV (1559–1565) was the brother of Charles’ mother. At the tender age of twelve, Charles received the external sign of permanent religious commitment, the shaving of the scalp known as tonsure. He was industrious and extremely bright and received advanced degrees in theology and law in his native northern Italy. In 1560 his uncle ordered him to Rome and made him a Cardinal at the age of just twenty-one, even though Charles was not yet ordained a priest or bishop. This was brazen nepotism. But in this instance it was also genius. The Cardinal-nephew was a man of rare gifts and his high office afforded him a wide forum to give those gifts their fullest expression.

At the Holy See, Charles was loaded down with immense responsibilities. He oversaw large religious orders. He was the papal legate to important cities in the papal states. He was the Cardinal Protector of Portugal, the Low Countries, and Switzerland. And, on top of all this, he was named administrator of the enormous Archdiocese of Milan. Charles was so bound to his Roman obligations, however, that he was unable to escape to visit Milan’s faithful who were under his pastoral care. Non-resident heads of dioceses were common at the time. This pained Charles, who would only be able to minister in his diocese years later. Cardinal Borromeo was a tireless and methodical laborer in the Holy See who nevertheless always found ample time to care for his own soul.

When Pope Pius IV decided to reconvene the long suspended Council of Trent, the Holy Spirit placed Cardinal Borromeo in just the right place at just the right time. In 1562 the Council Fathers met once again, largely due to the energy and planning of Charles. In its last sessions the Council completed it most decisive work of doctrinal and pastoral reform. Charles was particularly influential in the Council’s decrees on the liturgy and in its catechism, both of which were to have an enduring and direct influence on universal Catholic life for over four centuries. Charles was the driving force and indispensable man at the Council, yet he was still just in his mid-twenties, being ordained a priest and bishop in 1563 in the heat of the Council’s activities.

In 1566, after his uncle had died and a new pope granted his request, Charles was at last able to reside in Milan as its Archbishop. There had not been a resident bishop there for over eighty years! There was much neglect of faith and morals to overcome. Charles had the unique opportunity to personally implement the Tridentine reforms he had played such a key role in writing. He founded seminaries, improved training for priests, stamped out ecclesiastical bribery, improved preaching and catechetical instruction, and combatted widespread religious superstition. He became widely loved by the faithful for his personal generosity and heroism in combating a devastating famine and plague. He stayed in Milan when most civil officials abandoned it. He went into personal debt to feed thousands. Charles attended two retreats every year, went to confession daily, mortified himself continually, and was a model Christian, if an austere one, in every way. This one-man army for God, this icon of a Counter Reformation priest and bishop, died in Milan at the age of forty-six after his brief but intense life of work and prayer. Devotion to Charles began immediately, and he was canonized in 1610.

Saint Charles Borromeo, your personal life embodied what you taught. You held yourself and others to the highest standards of Christian living. From your place in heaven, hear our prayers and grant us what we ask for our own good and that of the Church.

Purgatory

The following excerpt is from Chapter 8 of My Catholic Faith!:

As we celebrate the Commemoration of All Souls, let’s reflect upon our Church teaching on Purgatory:

The Church Suffering:  Purgatory is an often misunderstood doctrine of our Church.  What is Purgatory?  Is it the place we have to go to be punished for our sins?  Is it God’s way of getting us back for the wrong we’ve done?  Is it the result of God’s anger?  None of these questions really answer the question of Purgatory.  Purgatory is nothing other than the burning and purifying love of our God in our lives!

When someone dies in God’s grace they are most likely not 100% converted and perfect in every way.  Even the greatest of saints most often would have some imperfection left in their lives.  Purgatory is nothing other than that final purification of all remaining attachment to sin in our lives.  By analogy, imagine that you had a cup of 100% pure water, pure H2O.  This cup will represent Heaven.  Now imagine that you want to add to that cup of water but all you have is water that is 99% pure.  This will represent the holy person who dies with just some slight attachments to sin.  If you add that water to your cup then the cup will now have at least some impurities in the water as it mixes together.  The problem is that Heaven (the original cup of 100% H2O) cannot contain any impurities.  Heaven, in this case, cannot have even the slightest attachment to sin in it.  Therefore, if this new water (the 99% pure water) is to be added to the cup it must first be purified even of that last 1% of impurities (attachments to sin).  This is ideally done while we are on Earth.  This is the process of getting holy.  But if we die with any attachment, then we simply say that the process of entering into the final and full vision of God in Heaven will purify us of any remaining attachment to sin.  All may already be forgiven, but we may not have detached from those things forgiven.  Purgatory is the process, after death, of burning out the last of our attachments so that we can enter Heaven 100% freed of everything to do with sin.  If, for example, we still have a bad habit of being rude, or sarcastic, even those tendencies and habits must be purged.

How does this happen?  We do not know.  We only know it does.  But we also know it’s the result of God’s infinite love that frees us of these attachments.  Is it painful?  Most likely.  But it’s painful in the sense that letting go of any disordered attachment is painful.  It’s hard to break a bad habit.  It’s even painful in the process.  But the end result of true freedom is worth any pain we may have experienced.  So, yes, Purgatory is painful.  But it’s a sort of sweet pain that we need and it produces the end result of a person 100% in union with God.

Now since we are talking about the Communion of Saints, we also want to make sure to understand that those going through this final purification are still in communion with God, with those members of the Church on Earth, and with those in Heaven.  For example, we are called to pray for those in Purgatory.  Our prayers are effective.  God uses those prayers, which are acts of our love, as instruments of His grace of purification.  He allows us and invites us to participate in their final purification by our prayers and sacrifices.  This forges a bond of union with them.  And no doubt the saints in Heaven especially offer prayers for those in this final purification as they await full communion with them in Heaven.  It’s a glorious thought and a joy to see how God has orchestrated this entire process for the ultimate purpose of the holy communion to which we are called!

Lord, I pray for those souls going through their final purification in Purgatory.  Please pour forth Your mercy upon them so that they may be freed of all attachment to sin and, thus, be prepared to see You face to face.  Jesus, I trust in You.

1st of November…..

From Daily Catholic.com

Friday, 1st of November 2019

Today we honour those holy men and women who have gone before us in faith and have done so in a glorious way. As we honor these great champions of faith, let’s reflect upon who they are and what role they continue to play in the life of the Church. The following excerpt is from Chapter 8 of My Catholic Faith!:

The Church Triumphant: Those who have gone before us and now share in the glories of Heaven, in the Beatific Vision, are not gone. Sure, we do not see them and we cannot necessarily hear them speak to us in the physical way they did while on Earth. But they are not gone at all. St. Thérèse of Lisieux said it best when she said, “I want to spend my Heaven doing good on Earth.”

The saints in Heaven are in full union with God and make up the Communion of Saints in Heaven, the Church Triumphant! What’s important to note, however, is that even though they are enjoying their eternal reward, they are still very much concerned about us.

The saints in Heaven are entrusted with the important task of intercession. Sure, God already knows all our needs and He could ask us to go directly to Him in our prayers. But the truth is that God wants to use the intercession, and therefore, the mediation of the saints in our lives. He uses them to bring our prayers to Him and, in return, to bring His grace to us. They become powerful intercessors for us and participators in God’s divine action in the world.

Why is this the case? Again, why doesn’t God just choose to deal with us directly rather than go through intermediaries? Because God wants all of us to share in His good work and to participate in His divine plan. It would be like a dad who buys a nice necklace for his wife. He shows it to his young children and they are excited about this gift. The mom comes in and the dad asks the children to bring the gift to her. Now the gift is from her husband but she will most likely thank her children first for their participation in giving this gift to her. The father wanted the children to be part of this giving and the mother wanted to make the children a part of her receiving and gratitude. So it is with God! God wants the saints to share in the distribution of His manifold gifts. And this act fills His heart with joy!

The saints also give us a model of holiness. The charity they lived on Earth lives on. The witness of their love and sacrifice was not just a one time act in history. Rather, charity is living and continues to have an effect for the good. Therefore, the charity and witness of the saints lives on and affects our lives. This charity in their lives creates a bond with us, a communion. It enables us to love them, admire them and want to follow their example. It is this, coupled with their continuing intercession, that establishes a powerful bond of love and union with us.

Lord, as the saints in Heaven adore You for eternity, I beg for their intercession. Saints of God, please come to my aide. Pray for me and bring to me the grace I need to live a holy life in imitation of your own lives. All saints of God, pray for us. Jesus, I trust in You.

 

Think of someone gone before you from this world who you believe is a Saint but who may never have been recognised by the Church here on earth as such, because of the quiet and unassuming way they went about their tasks.  They may have been someone involved in community life of one description or another. They may have been a relative or friend. Pray today to this person asking that they intercede before God on your behalf. Think of a way that you can grow more like them……..

Teaching our Children of new ways to pray…

This article is adapted from 77 Ways to Pray for Your Kids.

Meditation is one of the three “expressions of prayer” described by the Catechism (the others are vocal prayer and Contemplative Prayer).

Vocal prayer is usually the first way kids learn to pray as they begin to imitate and repeat the meal prayer, prayers during Mass, or prayers they memorize. As they grow older, kids (hopefully) learn to express their thoughts and feelings, hopes and desires in spontaneous prayers to God.

But too many kids are never introduced to meditative or contemplative forms of prayer, which is too bad, because then they miss out on the many fruits of those prayer forms. When those kids grow up, they may seek a deeper spirituality in other religious traditions without realizing that their Catholic faith has its own ancient tradition of meditation, contemplation, and mystical prayer.

Meditation is a prayerful quest for God “engaging thought, imagination, emotion, and desire” (Catechism #2723). We go out and seek God, usually by focusing our thoughts on some object: a Scripture text (as in lectio divina and imaginative prayer), a mystery of faith (as in the rosary), sacred art (such as a sacred icon), or even the natural world. Prayerful meditation is different from intellectual study or analysis of the Scripture, artwork, mystery of faith, or whatever the object of meditation might be. It is different because its goal is not to understand, grasp, or intellectually “possess” the object, but to use it as a sort of doorway through which one passes in order to meet God.

Contemplative prayer sometimes flows out of meditative prayer. If meditative prayer is about actively seeking God by meditating on something holy, then contemplative prayer might be described as letting God seek us. In contemplative prayer, we quiet our thoughts and become open and receptive to God’s presence.

Parents are sometimes daunted by the prospect of teaching their kids meditative and contemplative prayer. For starters, both forms of prayer usually involve being still and quiet, which isn’t most kids’ strong point. Also, parents can easily evaluate the quality of their kids’ vocal prayers; not so with meditative and contemplative prayer.

The good news is that it is possible for kids to learn these “quieter” forms of prayer. The Catholic Diocese of Townsville, Australia, offers a comprehensive website on teaching meditation and contemplation to children; check it out at cominghome.org.au. It offers ample evidence that it is possible to teach kids these important forms of prayer.

It’s also possible to evaluate your kids’ meditation experience by processing with them afterward. During this processing you can share your experience and invite your child to share his or hers. You can also coach your child. Don’t expect overnight proficiency, and don’t worry about “off” days. For the first few months or years (depending on the child), you may have more “strikes” than “hits.” Just remember that even if your child’s meditative prayer looks fruitless, you are planting seeds that may sprout down the road in their life.

 

A Simple Process for Meditation

The meditation that follows is a method that has been practiced by Christian masters of prayer throughout the history of the Church. For other methods of meditation, see our articles on Lectio DivinaImaginative Prayer, and Meditation on Sacred Art, as well as the Rosary.

Plan on meditating for about five minutes with younger children (beginning about age five) and fifteen minutes with older children and teens.

  1. If your family is new to Christian meditation, briefly describe it and preview these steps.
  2. Invite your family to choose an invocation, or a holy word or phrase, to silently repeat throughout the meditation (see Invocations: Super-short Prayers for When Life Gets Crazy). Or suggest the invocation: “Come, Lord Jesus.”
  3. Invite your family to assume a comfortable (but respectful) posture, and to relax their bodies and minds.
  4. Begin with a Call to Prayer such as thirty seconds of silence, a bell, the sign of the cross, or the Lasallian prayer of presence.
  5. Use these or similar words to begin the period of meditation.

Let’s close our eyes and begin our meditation.
Silently repeat the invocation in your heart. It may help to picture God, or Jesus.
If you realize that you have stopped saying your invocation because your mind has wandered from your prayer, don’t worry. Simply begin saying the invocation again.
If you feel engulfed in the presence of God, you may feel prompted to stop saying your invocation. That’s okay; just give yourself over to God’s presence.
We’ll meditate for about __ minutes; I will let you know when our time of prayer is finished.

  1. At the end of your period of prayer, close with a short prayer of thanksgiving and the Sign of the Cross.

 

9 more ways to do meditative prayer

There are many different ways to do meditative prayer, and you might want to introduce your child to several different forms. With older kids and teens, offer a short explanation of meditative prayer each time you try it, so that over time they begin to get a deep understanding of what they’re aiming for. More spiritually mature kids might also benefit from hearing short readings from the saints and mystics about meditative prayer.

Here are a few strategies for meditative prayer that you can try with kids of any age; click through to the article (if available) for ways to adapt the method for children.

Daily examen. The daily examen is a prayerful meditation that focuses on how God was present in the events of the day—and how we responded to God’s presence. It’s a hugely valuable prayer for spiritual growth. “Highs and Lows” is a family-friendly way of adapting the daily examen to the dinner table.

Imaginative prayer. In Ignatian imaginative prayer, you prayerfully “enter” a particular scene from the Bible, using your imagination to interact with the people and environment and in many cases, entering into conversation with God or someone who speaks for God. It’s a powerful form of meditation especially suited for children.

Eucharistic adoration. Eucharistic adoration is a form of meditative prayer in itself, and many people spend part of their time during Eucharistic adoration meditating on sacred reading as well. Yes, you can take kids to Eucharistic adoration! In addition to reading about strategies for doing Eucharistic adoration with kids, you might want to also read about Heidi Indahl’s experience doing Eucharistic adoration with an infant and Becky Arganbright’s experience of praying for a home within biking distance to Eucharistic adoration.

Lectio divina. Lectio divina is an ancient way of praying with sacred reading, especially Scripture. In addition to the main lectio divina article, you may be interested in reading about bite-sized biblical prayerssacred story time, and answering the questions Jesus asks.

Meditate on sacred art. Meditating on sacred art is an especially good introduction to imaginative meditation for children.

Meditate in nature. Sometimes Christians are wary of nature-related prayer because of the connection to New Age practices as well as the well-worn trope that “nature is my Church.” However, many, many saints extol the natural world as another “book” that reveals God to us. Click through to the article for ways to place this type of meditation within a Catholic context.

Rosary. The rosary is probably the single most familiar way of doing meditative prayer. However, in order for it to be a fruitful form of meditation for your kids, you will need to emphasize contemplation of the mysteries. Praying a Scriptural rosary can help in this regard, as can praying the rosary with sacred art (see The Illuminated Rosary for an excellent resource).

Stations of the cross. The stations of the cross are yet another form of meditative prayer familiar to most Catholic families. Click through to the article for ideas about how to adapt it for children.

Sung prayer. Song can be a form of meditation, depending on the music and the attitude of the singers. “Silly Songs with Larry” is not exactly meditative; instead, look for simple, repetitive liturgical music or praise and worship music. You might also explore Taize.

 

 

 

Contemplative prayer is one of the three “expressions of prayer” described by the Catechism of the Catholic Church (the others are Vocal Prayer and Meditative Prayer). Contemplative prayer is a simple resting in the love of Christ. Rather than taking the initiative (as with vocal prayer and meditation), contemplative prayer is about silencing ourselves so God can work in us. “In it the Father strengthens our inner being with power through his Spirit ‘that Christ may dwell in [our] hearts through faith’ and we may be ‘grounded in love’ (Ephesians 3:16-17)” (Catechism 2714). St. Thérèse of Lisieux described contemplative prayer as a close sharing between friends, while St. John Vianney described it as gazing at Christ and allowing Christ to gaze at us.

Theresa of Avila famously described her experience of contemplative prayer in this way:

“When picturing Christ in the way I have mentioned, or sometimes even when reading, I used unexpectedly to experience a consciousness of the presence of God, of such a kind that I could not possibly doubt that he was within me or that I was wholly engulfed in him. This was in no sense a vision: I believe it is called mystical theology. The soul is suspended in such a way that it seems to be completely outside itself. The will loves; the memory, I think, is almost lost; while the understanding, I believe, though it is not lost, does not reason—I mean that it does not work, but is amazed at the extent of all it can understand; for God wills it to realize that it understands nothing of what his majesty represents to it. This is a favor neither wholly of sense, nor wholly of spirit, but entirely the gift of God.”

Contemplation may not seem suited to wiggly, squirmy, eye-rolling, “Are-we-done-yet?” kids. But this intimate basking in Christ’s love is something kids deserve to know about. Even if they aren’t mature enough to fully enter into the experience, being exposed to the practice might lead them to try it later in life. And they might just surprise you—after all, Jesus did tell his disciples to “let the little children come to me” (Matthew 19:14).

How can you practice contemplative prayer as a family? Because
it is a gift, it is not something you can “do.” But you can make your children aware of what it is, and you can create conditions that are
favorable to entering contemplative prayer. Generally, contemplative prayer begins with and emerges from meditation. (See Meditative Prayer for Catholic Kids: 10 Ways to Get Started.) You may also find it helpful to light a candle, display an icon of Jesus, or take your children to Eucharistic adoration.

Here are more strategies to try with your kids.

Young Children
With younger kids, focus on modeling prayerful silence, e.g., “Mom and Dad are going to be quiet to listen to God now. You be quiet, too, and listen to what God (or Jesus, or the angels) might be saying to you”—and then close your eyes and really pray quietly for a minute or so. Ignore their chatter and noise (it might help to strap them into a high chair first!). Your goal with very young children is to simply model this form of prayer. With enough repetition, even very young children will eventually begin to imitate your example. In the meantime, this moment of silent resting in God’s presence might just become a refreshing “reset button” that makes it easier to deal with your kids patiently.

Older Children and Teens
With older children, try contemplation for increasingly longer periods of time: three minutes, then five, then ten, and fifteen minutes or longer for teens who have more training with this spiritual exercise. When first beginning this practice, their goal might be to simply maintain an attitude of quiet alertness.

Here is one way to teach older and children contemplative prayer:

1. Prepare. If you are able, create a prayerful environment by lighting a candle or striking a bell (see Smells and Bells).

2. Listening to “sheer silence.” Explain to your children that contemplative prayer is all about creating a space inside of ourselves to meet the loving presence of Jesus. This involves a quieting of our minds and an alert attentiveness to God’s presence. As an example, you might read this passage about the prophet Elijah waiting for the presence of the Lord:

[The Lord] said [to Elijah], “Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.

3. Enter contemplation via meditation. Even people who have long experience with contemplative prayer rarely enter directly into it—it’s not like flipping a light switch. Many people find it helpful to enter contemplation via meditation. For instance, your children might choose a sentence or phrase to occasionally repeat interiorly to help them focus on Jesus, or to call on the assistance of the Holy Spirit. Another technique involves focusing on a mental picture of Jesus—perhaps even in a peaceful setting. See Meditative Prayer for more ideas.

4. Let go of outcomes. As much as possible, spend the time praying rather than monitoring your kids’ prayerfulness . . . and don’t worry too much about results. Focus on simply introducing them to this spiritual exercise; the invitation to contemplative prayer may be one they respond to at a time of conversion or crisis later in life.

Besides trying this type of prayer during your family prayer time, you can suggest that older children practice contemplative prayer after receiving the Eucharist, during Eucharistic Adoration, or before falling asleep.

See also:
Catechism 2709-2719
Christian Meditation for Young People: This is a comprehensive website from the Catholic Diocese of Townsville (Australia), which has been teaching meditation and contemplation to children for years. See especially Stations of Contemplation and Children, a resource originally used at World Youth Day in 2008. You may also be interested in the Catholic FAQ, which addresses questions Catholics may have about meditation and contemplation.

St. Nathy’s diocese….

Found online…….

 St Nathy (6th century) holy man and patron of Achonry diocese

09 August, 2012

The image (left) shows the present Catholic Cathedral of the Annunciation and St Nathy at Ballaghdereen, Co Roscommon. St Nathy was a native of Leyney in Co Sligo. A pupil of St Finian of Clonard, he had a reputation for holiness. St Finian put him in charge of a monastery at Achonry. It is probably […]

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe image (left) shows the present Catholic Cathedral of the Annunciation and St Nathy at Ballaghdereen, Co Roscommon. St Nathy was a native of Leyney in Co Sligo. A pupil of St Finian of Clonard, he had a reputation for holiness. St Finian put him in charge of a monastery at Achonry. It is probably for this reason that, sometime after the diocese was formally erected at the Synod of Kells in 1152, Nathy was named as the patron of Achonry diocese. Patrick Duffy explains his place in the Irish Church.

Achonry diocese
Along with Saint Attracta, St Nathy is patron of the diocese of Achonry. Achonry (Irish Achadh Chonaire, “the field of Conaire”) is a village between Ballymote and Tubbercurry in Co Sligo and was the site of the original monastic foundation in the area. The diocese was formally erected by the Synod of Kells (1152) and includes parishes from the counties of Sligo, east Mayo and north-west Roscommon.

A church of the people during Penal times
From 1603 till the mid-eighteenth century the diocese had no resident bishop. During this time of persecution, the faith was preserved by the people without churches or institutional infrastructure – in their homes, through house Masses, christenings, confessions, wakes, “patterns” and pilgrims to holy wells.

Only in the mid-nineteenth century under Bishop Patrick Durcan (1852-75) was the diocesan see transferred to Ballaghdereen, Co Roscommon and the Cathedral of the Annunciation and St Nathy built there.

The Church of Ireland Cathedral of St Crumnathy is still located at Achonry.

Native of Leyney, Co Sligo
Few details are known from records about the life of Saint Nathy or, as he is often called, Crumther Nathy or Cromnathy (Irish Cruimhthir, a priest). He was a native of Lugne territory, now commensurate with the barony of Leyny in Co Sligo.

In charge of monastery at Achonry
He studied under St Finian at Clonard, who established a monastery at Achonry shortly before his death in 552. Finian appointed his pupil Nathy in charge of the monastery, which became a school of piety and learning. St Fechin, probably born in the locality, was its most famous disciple; he went on to found his own monastery at Fore in Co Westmeath.

The Félire of Oengus tells us St Nathy is buried at Achadh Cain. His feast day – along with St Felim of Kilmore – is kept on 9th August.

Sanctity
In his two volume History of County Sligo (1889), local historian Archdeacon Terence O’Rorke wrote:

Other Irish saints are noted for characteristic virtues: Columbkille for love of churches, Finian of Clonard for zeal in teaching, Brendan for pious voyages, Columbanus and others for missionary activity; but the patron of Achonry shines chiefly by preeminent sanctity. It is a great distinction.

A cancer survivors story

What does Christ have to do with cancer? One woman’s path to peace

By Mary Farrow

Los Angeles, Calif., Nov 21, 2015 / 04:02 pm (CNA).- Heather King never cared much for doctors.

After years of relatively good health despite a 25-year stint as a functioning alcoholic, King had always taken her physical health somewhat for granted. She viewed her body as a “dependable tractor” that simply required exercise and a balanced diet to function, and considered nutritionists, chiropractors, acupuncturists and their ilk “to be a bunch of overpaid quacks.”

So when she dutifully showed up to Mercy General Hospital for her yearly mammogram, squeezing the appointment in on a Friday after several other errands, she shook with fear when the technician came back from the lab asking for a second picture of her left breast.

“Immediately right then I just thought ‘Cancer! Cancer! Cancer!’” King told CNA.

Although she’d have to wait two weeks for the final word, King immediately made her way down to the chapel in the Catholic hospital after her appointment. A devout convert after years of drinking and promiscuity, King attempted to piece together a prayer amid her anxiety.

“I’m pretty sure I really heard Him that afternoon because after a while, there in that sterile chapel, I experienced a moment of peace such as I never had known before and never have quite known since,”

At that moment, she had a deep sense that whatever happened to her, even if it was death, Christ would be with her.

That moment of peace and surrender to Christ was what she clung to in the subsequent moments of fear and panic – the actual diagnosis, deciding what further treatment she would accept, a struggling marriage that further crumbled under the stress.

Throughout her immersion in the world of the oncology ward, King was struck by what she saw as a very militant response to cancer from the medical world and the culture at large.

“What I object to is the implication that when you get a cancer diagnosis, right away you’re supposed to put on your fatigues and pick up your gun and do battle with it,” she said.

“And that’s the word we use, a ‘battle’ with cancer, and it’s always in obituaries, it’s odd.”

Despite her tumor’s small size – and her cancer’s stage one, grade one diagnosis – a mastectomy, chemotherapy, and radiation were all recommended to her as courses of treatment, as well as five subsequent years of a heavy-hitting estrogen medicine.

But after doing a lot of research and soul-searching, King opted to forgo most of the traditional treatments. She had the tumor removed and spent not even one night in the hospital, returning to her normal life the next day.

It’s not because she had a death wish, King insists. It’s not because she was expecting some radical, miraculous healing from God. It’s not because she distrusts doctors and the medical field.

Rather, she said, it was about how she wanted to live and offer the rest of her life, and death to God.

It means fighting the battle that St. Paul fought when he says ‘I have stayed the course, I have run the race.’

That race, she said, is being able to love life without clinging to it through extreme medical measures out of fear. It means coming to some sort of peace with the ultimate mystery of life, with the paradox that good people suffer and die, with “the deepest questions of human existence.” It means not being afraid to die out of the fear that you haven’t fully lived.

Earlier in life, King was looking for answers and thought they could be found in the world of law. As a functioning alcoholic, she made it through law school, passed the bar, and went on to a high-paying but ultimately unfulfilling job as a lawyer.

She’d recently kicked her salary and benefits to the curb in order to pursue the life she felt God was truly calling her to – a quiet life centered around the sacraments and silence. In a way, she’d already surrendered much of her worldly security to God.

The fact that she had the presence of mind to call upon faith during the diagnosis, and the tumultuous aftermath, came as somewhat of a surprise to King herself.

“I always thought if this happened, I’d be so scared that I wouldn’t bring my faith to it,” King said.

“But there’s always an element of surprise, like the woman at the well who runs back to the town yelling ‘People, people! I think I’ve met him! I’ve met the Messiah.’”

It’s been 15 years since King’s original diagnosis, and she’s still doing well.

“I had a mammogram for the first time in a long time, it came back normal, so everything’s been fine,” she said.

King said her advice to anyone facing a new cancer diagnosis would be to not be afraid to listen to their own bodies, hearts and souls when it comes to making the big decisions, despite outside pressure from family, friends or even doctors.

Having faith in something bigger than yourself, even if it’s simply in the power of love, is also invaluable when facing something so drastic, she said.

“The word accompany and the word companion come from the Latin ‘com panis,’ or ‘with bread’” King said. “And if you’re already a follower of Christ, this bread, he accompanies you, he walks with you. You’re not alone.”

Today’s Gospel 29.8.19

The girl hurried back to the king’s presence and made her request, “I want you to give me at once on a platter the head of John the Baptist.”  The king was deeply distressed, but because of his oaths and the guests he did not wish to break his word to her. So he promptly dispatched an executioner with orders to bring back his head.  Matthew 6:25-27

This sad story, of the beheading of John the Baptist, reveals much to us.  It reveals, above all, the mystery of evil in our world and God’s permissive will in allowing evil, at times, to flourish. Yes, God has clearly allowed those whom He loves to suffer greatly throughout history.  What does this tell us?

First of all, we should not forget the obvious fact that the Father allowed the Son to suffer greatly and to be murdered in a horrific way.  Jesus’ death was brutal and shocking.  Does this mean the Father did not love the Son?  Certainly not.

The fact of the matter is that suffering is not a sign of the disfavor of God.  If you suffer and are given no relief by God it is not because God has abandoned you.  It is not that he does not love you. In fact, the opposite is most likely true. Some day we will truely understand the reasoning for all this suffering here on earth. We need trust God that all this suffering is for a greater purpose and offer our sufferings up to him, in the same way that we offer our prayers to him.

John the Baptist’s suffering is in fact, the greatest sermon John the Baptist could have preached.  It illustrates his unwavering love of God and from God’s perspective, John’s fidelity is infinitely more valuable than his continued physical life or the physical sufferings.

The Father’s response to Jesus, John and outselves is a call to enter into the mystery of our sufferings in this life with faith, hope, confidence and fidelity.  Never let the hardships of life deter us from our fidelity toward the will of God.

Lord, may I have the strength of Your Son and the strength of St. John the Baptist as I carry my own crosses in life.  May I remain strong in faith and filled with hope as I hear You calling me to embrace my cross.  Jesus, I trust in You. Amen

Leaving Mass Early

Leaving Mass Early

Found this online – well worth reading…….

We hope our pastor and friends won’t notice if we leave early, but Someone does

We make a beeline for the door with our heads down after receiving communion because we have something important to do.

We hope our pastor and friends won’t notice. And perhaps they don’t. But Someone does.

As a religious sister who has moved around quite a bit, I am surprised by how drastically different parishes in some areas of the country are from others. I am from Oklahoma and rarely see people leaving Mass early. I used to live in California, and in the parish I attended, people came late and sometimes left early. I am now in the northeast and am surprised by how many people leave Mass early. But these patterns also depend on the parish. It is an interesting phenomenon. An isolated incident is not that concerning to me. But when half the parishioners have disappeared to the parking lot before the closing song has ended, it makes my heart a little sad.

Sometimes I want to run after the people I see walking briskly out of church straight from the communion line and shake them and say, “You have Jesus inside you! Take a minute to talk to him, to thank him, to love him!”

Do you need some motivation to stay a little longer to attend the entire Mass? Do you know some other people who might?

Here are some reasons I stay until the end of Mass, (besides the fact that I am a nun and it would be scandalous if I ran out right after communion every Sunday):

1. Communion Is About Communing: When we receive communion, we receive Jesus himself. When we eat and run it is like visiting a friend and the moment he is able to sit down and be present to us we jump up and run out the door yelling, “It was so great to spend time with you, see you next week!” Communion is about communing with our Lord and Savior. In order to commune, we have to actually savor this special time with him and take a few moments to be with our Lord.

2. It’s Not Nice to Be Rude: Before Mass in the convent, we have a half hour of silent meditation on the Gospel. Sometimes I am late. I walk quickly in with my head down, embarrassed that everyone can see that I slept in. Recently, I realized that my motivation to be on time should not be to avoid embarrassment but because I am going to see Jesus. Why are we often more concerned with other people’s reactions than we are with Jesus’? We think, I have to run because I have so much to do, so-and-so is waiting for me! But why is it easy for us to leave early and come late when it is the Creator of the Universe who is hoping to see us?

3. Mass Is Not An Activity on a To-Do List: Often when I see people running out of Mass, it seems like they are checking off an activity on their to-do list and want to be done with it. The Christian life is not a to-do list. It is an invitation to be in relationship with God. If we are going to Mass out of a sense of responsibility, sure we may be avoiding mortal sin, but barely scraping by in the avoidance of mortal sin is not the calling of our spiritual life. We are called to much more. We are called to relationship, to holiness, to transformation.

4. The Final Blessing Is Important: On the Day of Atonement, Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, had the honor of going into the holy of holies on the day the angel told him that he and his wife would have a child. The people eagerly waited outside for him to give them a blessing after he offered incense. When Zechariah came out mute because he did not believe the angel’s message, the lack of a blessing amplifies the dishonor and the tragedy of losing his voice. I am sure the people went home very disappointed. Blessings are precious. When a priest, who by his ordination is configured to Christ, gives his final blessing, we are being blessed by God himself. If Jesus were standing ready to give us a blessing before we left Mass and went back out into the world, wouldn’t you wait for it?

5. You Get MORE Grace: According to the Catechism, “the fruits of the sacraments … depend on the disposition of the one who receives them” (CCC 1128). There is a power in the sacraments in and of themselves, but how much of that power seeps into our souls and plays out in our lives depends on our disposition. If we are rushing out of church after communion, chances are our disposition is not such that we are reverentially aware of the amazing fact that we are consuming the body, blood, soul and divinity of God himself. It’s heavy stuff. And it deserves a disposition of great respect, if only because we all need all the grace we can get.

Sir Anthony Hopkins – faith

 

Anthony Hopkins opens up about faith, alcoholism, and success

The illustrious actor’s whole life changed when a woman asked him, “Why don’t you just trust in God?”

For many of us, it’s hard to think of Anthony Hopkins without bringing to mind his chilling portrayal of Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs, a performance for which he won the Academy Award for best actor. Sure, he can act the part of an unrepentant evil man unblinkingly, but in reality he is a humble man with a strong Christian faith.Hopkins was recently invited to be the guest speaker at the 11th annual Leadership, Excellence and Accelerating Your Potential conference (LEAP), where he talked to a crowd of nearly 500 high school and college students. He advised them:

“If you chase the money, it’s not gonna work. And if you chase success, it’s not gonna work. You just have to chase whatever you want to be, but live it as if it is happening now. Act as if you’re already there, and it’ll fall into place.”

Later in his speech, while recalling the early years of his career, he opened up about his struggle with alcoholism, describing himself at that time as “disgusted, busted and not to be trusted.” Hopkins said the theater culture didn’t help:

“Because that’s what you do in theater, you drink,” the 80-year-old actor explained. “But I was very difficult to work with, as well, because I was usually hungover.”

In 1975, when he was 37, the Welsh actor realized that he was a danger to himself and others when he drank and so he turned to Alcoholics Anonymous. In an interview with CNN’s Piers Morgan, Hopkins described his alcoholism:

“It was like being possessed by a demon, an addiction, and I couldn’t stop. And millions of people are like that. I could not stop.”

It was at an AA meeting that a woman made a suggestion that changed his life: “Why don’t you just trust in God?”

The woman’s idea almost seemed too simple to work, and Hopkins might have rejected it, as he considered himself an atheist at the time. Be it touched by grace, or in the depths of desperation, he took the advice and as he tells it the desire to drink was taken from him, “never to return.” He has held fast his faith ever since.

Shortly before the release of his 2011 film The Rite, where he played a priest, he spoke with The Catholic Herald about atheism, which he compared to “living in a closed cell with no windows”:

“I’d hate to live like that, wouldn’t you? We see them, mind you, on television today, many brilliant people who are professional atheists who say they know for a fact that it’s insanity to have a God or to believe in religion. Well, OK, God bless them for feeling that way and I hope they’re happy.”

He added: “But I couldn’t live with that certainty, and I wonder about some of them: why are they protesting so much? How are they so sure of what is out there? And who am I to refute the beliefs of so many great philosophers and martyrs all the way down the years?”

Hopkins’ career has spanned nearly six decades and he is widely regarded as one of the greatest living actors of his generation. This year, after starring in the second season of Westworld, Hopkins will be portraying Pope Benedict XVI in the upcoming Netflix feature, Pope.

Today’s Gospel reflection 13.8.19

Todays Gospel reflection

Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the Kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me.”  Matthew 18:3-5

How do we become like children?  What is the definition of being childlike?  Here are a few synonyms that most likely apply to Jesus’ definition of becoming like children:  trusting, dependent, natural, spontaneous, awe-inspired, without airs, and innocent.  Perhaps some of these, or all of them, would qualify for what Jesus is talking about.  Let’s look at a few of these qualities in regard to our relationship with God and others.

Trusting: Children trust their parents without question.  They may not always want to obey, but there is very little reason for children to lack trust that a parent will provide and care for them.  Food and clothing are presumed and not even considered as a concern.  If they are in a large city, or shopping mall, there is safety found in being close to a parent.  This trust helps eliminate fear and worry.

Natural: Children are often free to be who they are.  They are not overly concerned about looking silly or being embarrassed.  They will often naturally and spontaneously be who they are and not worry about the opinions of others.

Innocent: Children are not yet skewed or cynical.  They do not look at others and presume the worst.  Rather, they will often see others as good.

Awe-inspired:  Children are often fascinated by new things.  They see a lake, or mountain, or a new toy and are amazed at this first encounter.

All of these qualities can easily be applied to our relationship with God.  We must trust God to care for us in all things.  We must strive to be natural and free, expressing our love without fear, not worrying if it will be accepted or rejected.  We must strive to be innocent in the way we see others not giving into prejudice and bias.  We must strive to be continually in awe of God and of all the new things He does in our lives.

Reflect, today, upon any of these qualities in which you find yourself most lacking.  How does God want you to become more childlike?  How does He want you to become like children so that you can become truly great in the Kingdom of Heaven?

Lord, help me to become childlike.  Help me to find true greatness in the humility and simplicity of a child.  Most of all, may I have absolute trust in You in all things.  Jesus, I do trust in You.