Saints We Love

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Doubter's Novena - by Mike Aquilina

Making a Novena - Nine Steps to Trust

A Doubter's Novena: Nine Steps to Trust with the Apostle Thomas 
As with all of Mike Aquilina's books, and I think I now own all of them, I have such a difficult time writing a review. I don't know why, but it seems as though I may think too much, too hard, too deeply when I read Mike's books. That is not a bad thing - it is a good thing. I am not a surface reader with any of Aquilina's books. Why is that? They are not difficult reading but, I believe, as a convert to the Catholic Church, they are all life changing for me. I may need "thinking" time. 

The Doubter's Novena, Nine Steps to Trust with the Apostle Thomas, is a good place to begin to write a review, that is if I plan to write reviews, and I do! I have The Doubter's Novena on the corner of my desk with other books written by Mike Aquilina. I was thinking this morning, after seeing a Priest on Facebook say, "Only 45 days until Christmas!" that I need books for gifts and here is one. Everyone needs a good Novena book. This book is small, it is good for everyone, it is a perfect size for a gift and the price is so right! Under $10.00 and I get free shipping from Amazon. 

Doubter's Novena? So many people don't make it through a Novena - perhaps because they doubt? I don't know. However, I plan to give this to some friends. 

I liked the titles of the nine days: hear now, 1) The Idea of Thomas, 2) The Blessings and Burdens of History, 3) Less than Perfect, 4) What the World Knows, 5) Mountains and Oceans, 
6) Spice and Silk, 7) Flattery and Success, 8) Opposition and Defeat, 9) Trusting God. 
Before I began, I was certain to read 3) Less than Perfect,  as a sneak peek. Guess what it said? It said, "Just Like Thomas." Sounded like a good Novena for me. Sounds like a good Novena for every one. I don't doubt it, don't doubt it at all.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Hidden Life of Jesus - Henri Nouwen

He once was a little boy . . .

The largest part of Jesus' life was hidden.  Jesus lived with his parents in Nazareth, "under their authority" (Luke 2:51), and there "increased in wisdom, in stature, and in favour with God and with people" (Luke 2:52).  When we think about Jesus we mostly think about his words and miracles, his passion, death, and resurrection, but we should never forget that before all of that Jesus lived a simple, hidden life in a small town, far away from all the great people, great cities, and great events.  Jesus' hidden life is very important for our own spiritual journeys.  If we want to follow Jesus by words and deeds in the service of his Kingdom, we must first of all strive to follow Jesus in his simple, unspectacular, and very ordinary hidden life. 

He once was a little boy . . .

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Life of St. Teresa of Avila

The Life of St. Teresa of Jesus (c.1565)

It will be as well, I think, to explain these locutions of God, and to describe what the soul feels when it receives them...
Teresa's autobiography, The Life of St. Teresa of Jesus, of The Order of Our Lady of Carmel (c. 1565) as translated by David Lewis (1904) at Project Gutenberg
The words are very distinctly formed; but by the bodily ear they are not heard…
The evil spirits keep us in terror, because we expose ourselves to the assaults of terror by our attachments to honours, possessions, and pleasures.
May it please our Lord that I be not one of these; and may His Majesty give me grace to take that for peace which is really peace, that for honour which is really honour, and that for delight which is really a delight. Let me never mistake one thing for another — and then I snap my fingers at all the devils, for they shall be afraid of me.
I saw an angel close by me, on my left side, in bodily form. This I am not accustomed to see, unless very rarely. Though I have visions of angels frequently, yet I see them only by an intellectual vision...
  • One of my brothers was nearly of my own age; and he it was whom I most loved, though I was very fond of them all, and they of me. He and I used to read Lives of Saints together. When I read of martyrdom undergone by the Saints for the love of God, it struck me that the vision of God was very cheaply purchased; and I had a great desire to die a martyr's death, — not out of any love of Him of which I was conscious, but that I might most quickly attain to the fruition of those great joys of which I read that they were reserved in Heaven; and I used to discuss with my brother how we could become martyrs. We settled to go together to the country of the Moors, begging our way for the love of God, that we might be there beheaded; and our Lord, I believe, had given us courage enough, even at so tender an age, if we could have found the means to proceed; but our greatest difficulty seemed to be our father and mother.

True Followers of Christ . . . Servant of God Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

“True followers of Christ; Be prepared to have a world make jokes at your expense. You can hardly expect a world to be more reverent to you than to Our Lord. When it does make fun of your faith, its practices, abstinence's, and rituals-then you are moving to a closer identity with Him Who gave us our faith. Under scorn, Our Lord "answered nothing". The world gets amusement from a Christian who fails to be Christian, but none from his respectful silence”.

Servant of God Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

"But perhaps it is true after all . . ." Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger

‎"But perhaps it is true after all..."

Joseph Razinger on Uncertainty and Doubt from An Introduction to Christianity

Writing the "Introduction to Christianity"the then, Joseph Cardinal Ratzing, now Pope Benedict XVI, cited a famous story by Kierkegaard, about "the clown and the burning village" - to best sum up the difficulty faced by any Christian attempting to communicate theology to young people.

"According to the story," he wrote, "a travelling circus in Denmark had caught fire. The manager sent the clown, who was already dressed and made-up for the performance, into the neighboring village to fetch help, especially as there was a danger that the fire would spread across the fields of dry stubble and engulf the village itself. So, the clown hurried into the village and requested the inhabitants `come as quickly as possible' and help put the fire out.

"But the villagers took the clown's shouts simply for an excellent piece of advertising, meant to attract as many people as possible to the performance; they applauded the clown and laughed till they cried. The clown felt more like weeping than laughing; he tried in vain to get people to be serious, to make clear to them he was speaking in bitter earnest, that there really WAS a fire! His supplications only increased the laughter; people thought he was playing his part splendidly -- until finally the fire DID engulf the village, and both circus and village were burned to the ground."

And that, said Father Ratzinger, almost 40 years ago, is the "theologian's position today . . . the appearance of a clown trying in vain to make people listen to his message!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Pope Speaks of God's Presence During "times of darkness"

Vatican City, Sep 7, 2011 / 11:12 am 

Pope Benedict at a general audience in St. Peter's Square
Pope Benedict XVI told pilgrims in St. Peter's Square that they should look to the Bible's third psalm to recall that God is near “even in times of difficulty, problems, and darkness.”

“In the Psalmist's lament,” Pope Benedict observed in his September 7 general audience, “each of us may recognize those feelings of pain and bitterness, accompanied by faith in God, which, according the biblical narrative, David experienced as he fled from his city.”

Pope Benedict presided over the Wednesday general audience at the Vatican before returning to Castel Gandolfo, his summer vacation residence.  

His discussion of Psalm 3 served as the beginning of his treatment of the Psalms – which he called “the book of prayer par excellence” – as part of his continuing series of lessons on “the school of prayer.”

Psalm 3, Pope Benedict recalled, comes from “one of the most dramatic episodes” in the life of King David, to whom the Church has traditionally ascribed the entire book of Psalms. It represents David's cry for help after his son Absalom usurped his throne, forcing David to flee from Jerusalem in fear.

The incident prompts David to exlaim: “How many are my foes, Lord! How many rise against me! How many say of me, 'God will not save that one.'”

David's persecutors, Pope Benedict noted, not only threaten his life, but “also seek to break his bond with God and to undermine the faith of their victim by insinuating that the Lord cannot intervene.”

Their aggression against “the central core of the Psalmist's being” subjects David to one of the most serious temptations a believer can suffer, “the temptation of losing faith and trust in the closeness of God.”

But the author of Psalm 3 also recalls that God is “a shield around me,” and declares: “Whenever I cried out to the Lord, I was answered from the holy mountain … I do not fear, then, thousands of people arrayed against me on every side.”

“By praying this Psalm,” Pope Benedict told the crowd of pilgrims, “we share the sentiments of the Psalmist: a just but persecuted figure which would later be fulfilled in Jesus. In pain, danger and the bitterness of misunderstanding and offense, the words of this Psalm open our hearts to the comforting certainty of faith.”

“God is always close, even in times of difficulty, problems and darkness,” the Pope taught. “He listens, responds and saves.” David's cry of desperation, then, is also “an act of faith in God's closeness and His willingness to listen.”

Pope Benedict explained that the third psalm, like the entirety of the Old Testament, points to Jesus' experience of suffering, death, and final deliverance.

Through the words of this psalm, Christians can learn to “recognize (God's) presence and accept his ways, like David during his humiliating flight from his son Absalom … and, finally and fully, like the Lord Jesus on Golgotha.”

When darkness and pain arrive, the ability to recognize God's presence makes an immense difference, as it did when Christ died in circumstances that seemed to have no redeeming value.

“In the eyes of the unrighteous it appeared that God did not intervene and that his son died,” the Pope said. “But for believers it was at that precise moment that true glory was manifested and definitive salvation achieved.”

“May the Lord give us faith,” Pope Benedict concluded. “May he come in aid of our weakness and help us to pray in moments of anguish, in the painful nights of doubt and the long days of pain, abandoning ourselves trustingly to him –  our shield and our glory.”

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Sunday, September 4, 2011

Angelic Doctor - Saint Thomas Aquinas

"A person is disposed to an act of choice by an angel ... in two ways: Sometimes, a man's understanding is enlightened by an angel to know what is good, but it is not instructed as to the reason why ... But sometimes he is instructed by angelic illumination, both that this act is good and as to the reason why it is good."

Saint Thomas Aquinas, the "Angelic Doctor"

Friday, September 2, 2011

Saint Joan of Arc

“Hold the cross high 

so I may see it through the flames!”

Saint Joan of Arc

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Pope Benedict XVI . . . be open to beauty

Sistine Chapel
St Peter's in Rome 

The Holy Father concluded: 

“I invite you to rediscover the importance of this path for prayer, for our living relationship with God. The cities and towns all over the world preserve works of art that express the faith and remind us of our relationship with God. Visiting places of art, it is not only an occasion for cultural enrichment, but above all it can be a moment of grace, an encouragement to strengthen our relationship and our dialogue with the Lord, to stop and contemplate, in the transition from simple external reality to a deeper reality, the ray of beauty that strikes us, that almost wounds us in our inner selves and invites us to rise towards God. "