Carrying the Cross

The fourth sorrowful mystery we focus on the carrying of the cross. It is mentioned in passing in all the Gospels and is the entirety of the Stations of the Cross. The fruit of this mystery is patience. Carrying the cross is a task that we are all called to do and it take patience. Jesus calls us all in the Gospel “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” This is difficult for many of us to do denying ourselves and then taking up a cross to follow Jesus. So many of us struggle with both or either one, we need to be willing to risk everything. Pope John Paul II has a wonderful message on this for the 16th World Youth Day back in 2001 in which he reflects on this quote. John Paul breaks it down into easy pieces to deny oneself giving up one’s own plans that are trite while accepting God’s plan. He continues talking about taking up our crosses doesn’t have to mean a physical thing that leads to death but it is the ultimate sign of love that is the cross that we should bear. There is nothing else of more importance beside love and it is a lasting thing as well unlike the ephemeral nature of everything with instant gratification especially with all the social media where things don’t mean anything. As St. Paul writes in his first letter to the Corinthians (13:4-8) “Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth.  It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.” This is how we should be living our lives, I hope that we can all strive for this simple little thing.

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Scourging

The second Sorrowful Mystery is the Flagellation of Christ, the Scourging at the pillar is one of the early parts of the Passion Narrative.   The fruit of the mystery is Purity and mortification.

This is the sixth station is the Scriptural Stations of the Cross and the fourth of the New Stations of the Cross used in the Philippines which is also based on the Scriptures but I’ll get to these during Lent. The event appears in all the Gospels but in different ways Mark and Luke have it taking place with the High Priest guards blindfolding and spitting on Jesus asking “Who hit you?”, while Matthew and John have it take place after Pilate had Jesus who had him flogged. This happens immediately before the next mystery with the Crowing with Thorns. It’s more about looking inward than outward we’ve got to forget about the things of this world as Louis de Montfort put it we need “to suffer joyfully without human consolation; to die continually to myself without respite”. Sure we in general are good at doing this in Lent with our fasting and giving something up but perhaps we should be doing this more often. Most of the time when you hear mortification your mind turns to the extremes the lashing oneself and wearing a hairshirt, yet there is joy in suffering as John Paul II points out Jesus tells us to take up our cross and follow, it is supposed to be struggle. Let us all reflect on how we struggle at carrying our crosses and what we can do to try and lead a more pure life.

Fatima 100 (July)

On 13 July 1917, the children shepherds yet again were visited by the beautiful lady. This time around the children had a vision in which they saw three things, the Fatima Secrets and these weren’t nice things. The first two secrets were first written by Sister Lucia in 1941 in her third memior, the final one was kept a secret until 1944 when she wrote it down and it was eventually sent to the Vatican, which finally revealed it in 2000. The lady told them to continue praying the Rosary adding the Fatima prayer, to come back next month and the next until October when the Lady said she will tell them who she it.

The first secret that they saw was a vision of Hell “…we saw as it were a sea of fire. Plunged in this fire were demons and souls in human form, like transparent burning embers, all blackened or burnished bronze, floating about in the conflagration, now raised into the air by the flames that issued from within themselves together with great clouds of smoke, now following back on every side like sparks in huge fires, without weight or equilibrium, amid shrieks and groans of pain and despair, which horrified us and made us tremble with fear. (it must have been this sight which caused me to cry out, as people say they heard me do). The demons could be distinguished by their terrifying and repellent likeness to frightful and unknown animals, black and transparent like burning coals….”

The second secret comes from the first the Lady continued “You have seen hell where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them, God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved and there will be peace. The war is going to end: but if people do not cease offending God, a worse one will break out during the Pontificate of Pope Pius XI. When you see a night (28 January 1938) illumined by an unknown light, know that this is the great sign given you by God that he is about to punish the world for its crimes, by means of war, famine, and persecutions of the Church and of the Holy Father.” To prevent this, she asks for the Consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart, and the Communion of reparation on the First Saturdays. If these suggestions are heeded Russia will be converted and there will be peace if not Russia will spread “her errors throughout the world” yet in the end “My Immaculate Heart will triumph. Now this secret has some problems with it as there is the mention of Pius XI who wasn’t Pope until 1922.

The final secret is different as it starts with an Angel with a flaming sword, it cried out “Penance, Penance, Penance!” while pointing toward the earth. “Then they saw a bishop dressed in white (the Holy Father) along with a crowd of other bishops, priest, as well as men and women religious going up a steep mountain, at the top of which there was a big Cross of rough-hewn trunks…before reaching the cross the Holy Father went through a big city half in ruins and half trembling with halting step, afflicted with pain and sorrow, he prayed for the souls of the corpses he met on his way; having reached the top of the mountain, on his knees at the foot of the big Cross he was killed by a group of soldiers who fired bullets and arrows at him, and in the same way there died one after another the other Bishops, Priests, men and women Religious, and various lay people of different ranks and positions.” Now the Vatican has implied that this is about the assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II on 13 May 1981, however added to this reveal was a commentary by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (Benedict XVI) which he says “the vision is not to show a film of an irrevocably fixed future. Its meaning is exactly the opposite: it is meant to mobilize the forces of change in the right direction.”

Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan

We have made our way through one of the mysteries and now it is on to the newest one introduced by Pope John Paul II in his apostolic letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae (October 2002). These are the Luminious mysteries or mysteries of Light. The first Luminious mystery is the Baptism of Jesus. It can be found in the three synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) where we hear from the sky “This is/You are my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” and in John’s Gospel while it doesn’t have the baptism story it does have John the Baptist testifying about Jesus saying that “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him.  And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.” The fruit of the mystery is openness to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is something that we all should be praying for to come into our lives and inspire all our actions.

Fatima Centenary

On this upcoming Saturday one hundred year ago Lúcia Santos and her cousins Jacinta and Francisco Marto were herding sheep outside of Fátima, Portugal. Pope Francis will be canonizing Jacinta and Francisco when he travels to Fatima this Friday and Saturday. Saturday will be the hundredth year since the shepherd children first saw a woman “brighter than the sun, shedding rays of light clearer and stronger than a crystal goblet filled with the most sparkling water and pierced by the burning rays of the sun.” This woman asked the children to devote themselves to the Holy Trinity and to pray the Rosary every day, to bring peace to the world and an end to the war (World War I). This was the first of six appearances to the children between May and October of 1917, now these were about once a month and I’ll go into those during their months.

EWTN has a nice website up about the Fatima Apparitions.  If you want an easy overview of all the apparitions take a look at their site. I think that if Mary were to come today she’d ask us to do the same thing devote ourselves to the Trinity and to pray the Rosary for world peace. I hope that as we reflect on the events in Fatima this year we are compelled to pick up a Rosary and pray it.  Pope John Paul II also has a connection with Fatima as on May 13 in 1981 John Paul was shot and critically wounded, and John Paul believed that it was through the intercession of Our Lady of Fatima that his life was spared.  Next week we will reflect on what Pope Francis did and said in Fatima.

Immaculata prayer

This is a prayer written by Maximilian Kolbe, one of the Saints of World War II. Maximilian Kolbe was a Conventual Franciscan (Greyfriars) who volunteered to die in the place of a stranger at Auschwitz. He is a pretty cool saint and Pope John Paul II named him “The Patron Saint of Our Difficult Century”. The prayer is a consecration to the Immaculata, Mary the Immaculate. I hope that we all can remember to turn to Mary of Mother when we are in need. The prayer comes in two forms the long one is:

Immaculata, Queen of Heaven and earth, refuge of sinners and our most loving Mother, God has willed to entrust the entire order of mercy to you. I, (name), a repentant sinner, cast myself at your feet, humbly imploring you to take me with all that I am and have, wholly to yourself as your possession and property. Please make of me, of all my powers of soul and body, of my whole life, death and eternity, whatever most pleases you.

If it pleases you, use all that I am and have without reserve, wholly to accomplish what was said of you: “She will crush your head,” and “You alone have destroyed all heresies in the whole world.” Let me be a fit instrument in your immaculate and merciful hands for introducing and increasing your glory to the maximum in all the many strayed and indifferent souls, and thus help extend as far as possible the blessed kingdom of the most Sacred Heart of Jesus. For wherever you enter you obtain the grace of conversion and growth in holiness, since it is through your hands that all graces come to us from the most Sacred Heart of Jesus.

V. Allow me to praise you, O Sacred Virgin       R. Give me strength against your enemies

Or there is a shorter version of the prayer for daily renewal of the consecration which is as follows:

Immaculata, Queen and Mother of the Church, I renew my consecration to you for this day and for always, so that you might use me for the coming of the Kingdom of Jesus in the whole world. To this end I offer you all my prayers, actions and sacrifices of this day.

Prayer to Saint Michael

I’ve got a soft spot for this prayer, growing up I went to school at Saint Michael’s from first to eight grade. I’m sure at some point we were taught the prayer and we’d pray it like when we would attend one of the daily Masses during like Lent not on a first Friday or something, It’s been a while since I was there. Anyways the prayer is one of the Leonine Prayers that Pope Leo XIII added after the celebration of a low mass, now this tradition was ended during Vatican II, however to this day we still have some individuals who pray some type of prayer after a low Mass.  This prayer is as follows:

Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle,
be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil;
may God rebuke him, we humbly pray;
and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly host,
by the power of God, cast into hell
Satan and all the evil spirits
who prowl through the world seeking the ruin of souls.

Although no longer prescribe for after a low Mass, Pope John Paul II in one of his Regina Caeli addresses on 24 April 1994 where he said “‘Although this prayer is no longer recited at the end of Mass, I ask everyone not to forget it and to recite it to obtain help in the battle against the forces of darkness and against the spirit of this world.” So if you have some time learn this prayer it a pretty neat prayer and as the world seems to be on the brink it is always nice to have an archangel on our side.

World Youth Day 2016

For the past five or so days young pilgrims from around the world have gathered together in Krakow, Poland. This World Youth Day had added significance as Krakow was where Karol Wojtyla later Pope John Paul II, current Saint John Paul served as Archbishop before he became Pope. World Youth Day is one of the ideas that John Paul developed and this is the thirty-second World Youth Day and the fifteenth global celebration. As every year since 1984 there have been celebration at the diocesan level and about every three years there is a International gathering. The next World Youth Day will be in Panama in 2019. Hopefully the next World Youth Day will take place in like Africa or

On the final day (Sunday) at Mass the Gospel reading was the Zacchaeus story and in his homily Pope Francis talked about how we are all like Zacchaeus. If you have some time read the whole homily. It was what Francis said towards the end that caught my mind, it was what Jesus says to Zacchaeus “Come down, for I must stay with you today.” it isn’t asking to stay it’s Jesus saying I must stay. This is the same message to us all Jesus must stay with us. Pope Francis notes that “The Lord doesn’t want to remain in this beautiful city, or in cherished memories alone.  He wants to enter your homes, to dwell in your daily lives: in your studies, your first years of work, your friendships and affections, your hopes and dreams.”  At our baptism we are given a special name and the Good Shepherd uses this to calls us to draw nearer to him. Let us all listen for our names and remember that World Youth Day continues tomorrow in our lives at our homes, outside of the “mountaintop experience” of something like a World Youth Day.  We can’t be like Peter asking to put us tents to prolong the Transfiguration we should take what we got and bring it into our lives to use.