God's Word and Daily Life

A simply man named Pio

A simply man named Pio

By Mel Jasmin

On September 23, the Catholic Church celebrate the feast of Saint Padre Pio. In the Philippines, Saint Padre Pio is known to be a great miracle worker. Many could testify how Padre Pio interceded in their prayers.

 

The amazing miracles associated with Padre Pio are usually seen with the great saints of the Middle Ages: levitation, bilocation, heavenly visions, and the stigmata -- the bloody Five Wounds of Christ. But Pio of Pietrelcina is most definitely a 20th century saint. Born in 1887 as Francesco Forgione, he died in 1968 and was canonized by Pope John Paul II in 2002.

 

Young Francesco grew up in a hardworking farming community. His happy childhood consisted of daily chores and the simple joys of a loving family. Perhaps as a sign of his future calling, Frencesco looked after his family’s flock of sheep at the age of 10. He knew as a child that God was calling him to the priesthood and he entered the Franciscan Capuchin novitiate at Morcone. At first vows, he took the name Pio to honor Pope St. Pius I. With God’s grace, he completed his studies and was ordained a priest in 1910 at the age of 23.

 

As a priest, Padre Pio became known as a master in spiritual direction, and crowds of people would visit from miles away to go to confession and hear his wise counsel. He preached holiness and perfection of spirit. It was on September 20, 1918 that the wounds of Jesus’ crucifixion began to appear on his hands, feet and side while he was hearing confessions. These bleeding wounds were painful and would continue for the next fifty years until the end of his life. Padre Pio preferred to suffer silently but word got out about the stigmata and that drew even larger crowds of people who were eager to hear this holy man and be in his presence.

 

Padre Pio’s whole life was filled with suffering but that did not prevent him from carrying out his ministry of preaching and spiritual direction. In his hometown of San Giovanni Rotondo, he founded a hospital and medical research center, the Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza (Home for the Relief of the Suffering), whose adoption of modern technology and practices has made it one of the most efficient hospitals in Europe. The Casa serves an average of 57,000 inpatients a year.

 

May the life of Saint Padre Pio inspire us all the time. Saint Padre Pio, pray for us!

 

A time for courage

A time for courage

By Father Bernard Holzer, aa

 

« This is not the time for despair but courage! »

                              

We are in a difficult time. Thousands of people are suffering around us. Because of the pandemic which has affected the health, life, education, economy, future, hope and faith…

 

In a joint Pastoral Message, three Archbishops of Northern Luzon encourage us to stand up for God, to bear witness to truth and life! Let us be on their side to “overcome evil by the power of good. Our help is from the Lord!”

 

Click the link of the pastoral message here: https://cbcpnews.net/cbcpnews/joint-pastoral-message-on-the-culture-of-murder-and-plunder-from-the-metropolitan-archbishops-of-northern-luzon/

 

This message was released last Sunday, as Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski (1901-1981) was beatified in Warsaw, Poland, former Primate of the Catholic Church of Poland, friend of St. John Paul II. He experienced being in the communist prisons for having defended the rights of God and the Church. May he give us the courage to defend the values of the Gospel in our today society!

Healing of the heart begins with listening

Healing of the heart begins with listening

By Fr. Bernard Holzer, aa

 

Again, the confinement is extended until September 15! We will celebrate the longest lockdown in the world: 18 months! We are tired and isolated despite all our gadgets.

How do we find our inner peace? How do we still hope amid desperation?

 

Last Sunday, before the prayer of the Angelus, Pope Francis recalled the Gospel when Jesus restores the hearing and speech of a deaf man with a speech impediment.

He invites us to ask Jesus to touch and heal our own “interior deafness.”

 

For him, “the healing of the heart begins with listening”: “Starting a dialogue often happens not through words but silence”, he pointed out, and that requires patience to listen to others about their challenges and hopes. This confinement is a chance to listen!

 

During the days to come, let us take time to cherish silence, to listen to my husband or wife, to my children or parents, my neighbors and my friends… and to listen to the poor and to Jesus.

 

Let us read the news and the Bible to open our mind and our heart.

Let us reread some paragraphs of the encyclical “Fratelli Tutti” about communication and encounter (§ 47-50). This confinement is a chance to open ourselves!

God’s creation is ours

God’s creation is ours

By Mel Jasmin

 

The Christian tradition has taken one aspect of the Genesis account of creation and distorted it in such a fashion as to have contributed to a cosmology that supports the exploitation of the environment. By focusing on the twin themes of our being made in the image of God and having been given the responsibility of subduing the earth and all creatures, our tradition has sustained an image of humanity having an unlimited sovereignty and dominion over creation. Even what would appear to be a counter-balance, namely the concept of stewardship, contributes to the problem. This is because the purpose of stewarding God's creation in the end is to provide for the good of humanity. Is it any wonder then that it was the Christian West, which was the cradle of an industrial revolution, that uncritically began an assault on the environment?

 

In an address to a 1997 convention on the environment and health, Pope John Paul II noted humanity's "inconsiderate exploitation of creation that is a result of human insensitivity." He called for a review of lifestyles based on "firm points of reference and inspiration: a clear knowledge of creation as a work of God's provident wisdom and the awareness of human dignity and responsibility in the plan of creation." Nearly five years later, he spoke in a general address of an "ecological conversion which in the last few decades has made humanity more sensitive to the catastrophies we are moving toward." John Paul II added that such conversion must go beyond protecting the physical environment and aim at creating a "human ecology which makes the existence of every creature more dignified, protecting the radical good of life in all its manifestations and preparing for future generations an environment closer to that which God planned. . . . Men and women will once again walk in the garden of creation, working to ensure that the goods of the earth are available to all, and not just to a privileged few."

Augustine, sinner and saint

Augustine, sinner and saint

By Mel Jasmin

 

On August 28, the Catholic Church celebrates the feast of one of its greatest saints. But I believe what makes this person great is not so much about his works as philosopher and theologian but on how he turned away from sin and the world and embraced God.

 

St. Augustine uses his focus on the fact that God may exists in the same extent which wisdom and truth exists, which is as concepts or ideas in the mind but not reality. He shows that there is evidence of God but not a powerful creator. To Augustine, God exists but requires him to exist for the basis of his argument. St. Augustine focuses on memory as an unconscious knowledge, which eventually leads him to his knowledge of God. Augustine is no longer telling events of the past, but only of present time.

 

Augustine starts his analysis of memory in a description of a house. The storehouse is a place where objects are retrieved, deposited, and re-stored; just like the memory where images are kept, and in need recovered. Augustine gives a characterization of memory as if it was materialistic; it is reliable, everything has its own place in it, and it can contain unlimited information.

 

His works challenge us to look into our memory and see the presence of God there. Augustine believes that God’s identity is intrinsically present in the mind. And so, he teaches us to reflect and to encounter God deep within our mind and soul. Saint Augustine, pray for us.

The patron saint during pandemic

The patron saint during pandemic

By Mel Jasmin

 
On August 16, the Catholic Church celebrates the feast of Sant Rock or San Roque as he is popularly known in the Philippines.
 
Scarcely 32 years old when he died, it is generally accepted that Saint Roch was born about 1295 in Montpellier, France and died in 1327. St. Roch was the only child of rich and noble parents in southern France. John, his father, descendant of the kings of France, was also governor of their home city of Montpel­lier. He and his wife, Libera, were good Christian people. They had one cross. It was that they were aging and still childless. God at length heard their prayer. In due time a child was born, a boy, whom they named Roch, (pro­nounced rock).
 
Roch responded to the virtu­ous training his parents gave him. He was twenty when the turning point came to his life. It was the death of his parents. First there was his Christian father. He had hardly laid his aged father to rest amid the pomp due his rank and fortune, when Almighty God asked of him also the sacrifice of the dearest soul he still had on earth, his good mother.
 
The plague was abroad in Italy when Roch went afoot on his pilgrimage. Reaching a town called Aquapendente, he found St. John's hos­pital filled with the plague stricken. He offered his as­sistance to the head of the hospital. What time was left over from his day's work in the hospital, Roch spent in visiting and waiting on the sick in their homes. The peo­ple were agape at what they saw. Amazement gave way to veneration for this youth who was like the Archangel St. Raphael in the flesh to these people.
 
Secretly he stole away and went to Rome. There he satisfied his devotion to the holy Apostles. But he found more of the same kind of work waiting for him there. The mortality from the plague was frightful in Rome.
 
To all other suffering, there was now added that of complete abandonment by every­body when they should have helped him in his need as he had helped them in theirs.
 
The images of St. Roch show him either ministering to the sick or alone, attired in pilgrim's cloak and cap. A staff is in his hand, with the traditional pilgrim's wallet, sometimes indicated as· a scallop on his shoulder. A dog is at his side, recalling the story of his rescue on the Trebbia at Piacenza. At times, he points to a mark on his side or his thigh, indi­cating either the storied birthmark or the pain which attacked him at Piacenza.
 
Today St. Roch is one of the popular saints, as a patron against diseases, notably as a healer of contagion of all kinds. San Roque, pray for us!
ECQ again

ECQ again

By Fr. Bernard Holzer, AA

 

Maybe we are tired, discouraged to go back to this strict confinement.

But we are now experienced. We know what to do, how to prepare ourselves for this lockdown. Here are some tips or guidelines that we can follow:

 

1.     Pray, if possible, with others.

2.     Remain in touch with your family, relatives and friends: call them, text them, take care of them.

3.     Don’t use too much social media, but take time to read the Bible, to be with God who is always with his people, and especially with Jesus: “Don’t be afraid, I am with you. Believe only.” And why not read the last encyclical of Pope Francis “Fratelli Tutti” on fraternity and social friendship?

4.     Share the little you have so that your neighbor who has nothing will remain alive and well.

5.     See the good news around you and in the world: “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” (Romans 12: 15)

6.     Take care, stay safe, and observe the guidelines. Be vaccinated to protect yourself, your loved ones and the whole society.

 

“A worldwide tragedy like the Covid-19 pandemic momentarily revived the sense that we are a global community, all in the same boat, where one person’s problems are the problems of all. Once more we realized that no one is saved alone; we can only be saved together.” – Pope Francis (“Fratelli Tutti”, 32)

 

This ECQ is a time to cultivate kindness. “Those who do so become stars shining in the midst of darkness.” - Pope Francis (“Fratelli Tutti”, 222)

 

Mary Magdalene, the apostle of Christ

Mary Magdalene, the apostle of Christ

By Mel Jasmin

 

Pope Francis has given Mary Magdalene a canonical rank equivalent to that of the apostles.

 

The most important woman in human history was Mary, the Mother of God. No mere mortal has ever been so richly honored as she who bore God in her own flesh and truly named him her son.

 

Who was the second-most-important woman? It’s more debatable, but a strong case could be made for St. Mary Magdalene. This July 22, for the first time, Catholics will celebrate her feast.

 

By formally elevating her memorial to a feast, Pope Francis has given Mary Magdalene a canonical rank equivalent to that of the apostles. He has many times mentioned his wish that Catholics might reflect more deeply on the role of women in the Church. Now, with this change to the Roman calendar, he has taken a concrete step towards that goal.

For such an important person, it’s amazing how little we really know. She must have come from Magdala, a village in Galilee. That means she grew up along those same sandy shores where the apostles were called to be fishers of men.

 

From there, speculation begins. The Gospels are full of Mary’s, but we aren’t sure which was she. Was Mary Magdalene the woman caught in adultery, rescued by Jesus with his demand that a sinless person cast the first stone? Was she the sister of Martha, who sat by Christ’s feet to hear his teachings? Did she anoint him before his death, weeping and wiping his feet with her hair?

 

We do know this: St. Mary Magdalene came to Christ’s tomb on the third day, found it empty and ran to tell the apostles. Then, as she wept by the tomb, the Risen Christ came to her and addressed her by name (John 20). She was the first to see him alive. She was the first ever to share the Good News with the world.

 

It’s beautiful to reflect on the parallels: Both at his birth and at his rebirth, Jesus’ first intimate moments were shared with a woman named Mary.

Amazing Saints!

Amazing Saints!

By Father Bernard Holzer, aa

 

During this week, the Church celebrates several saints and she invites us to become like them.

 

We started the week with Saint Benedict (July 11), the founder of monasticism in Europe with his famous rule of life: “Work and pray”. This was followed by Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, the first Native American Saint and Saints Louis and Zélie Martin, the parents of saint Therese of Child Jesus (July 12), Saint Henry emperor of the Holy Roman Empire (July 13), Saint Camille de Lellis, founder of the Camilians (July 14), Saint Bonaventure, Franciscan and doctor of the Church (July 15), and Saint Marceline, the sister of Saint Ambrose of Milan. The Church also celebrates several Blesseds, some killed for their faith or social commitment.

 

Saints are from every century, from different social classes – emperor, indigenous peoples, a nurse, from different continents… so different yet united in Christ, searching and serving Him in their own responsibilities. Nobody is excluded. They are not “supermen” who are born perfect. Rather they are ordinary people who followed God with all their heart.

 

“They are like us, '' says Pope Francis, they are like each of us, they are people who before reaching the glory of heaven lived a normal life, with joys and griefs, struggles and hopes… They spent their lives in the service of others, they endured suffering and adversity without hatred and responded to evil with good, spreading joy and peace.”

 

We are all called to be saints! Sanctity is a vocation for everyone.

 

“The saints are men and women who have joy in their hearts and spread it to others. Never hating, but serving the other, is the greatest need. To pray and to live in joy: this is the way of sanctity!” – Pope Francis

 

Let us ask the grace to follow their path!

Be artisans of peace, pray for peace! Now.

Be artisans of peace, pray for peace! Now.

By Father Bernard Holzer, aa

 

Around the world, heads of state are using increasingly violent and hostile words, sowing hatred and division.

It’s time to sow peace through simple gestures, and to pray for peace.

Please, find the time to be kind to others, to say “excuse me”, “pardon me”, “thank you”… show interest, give the gift of a smile, speak a word of encouragement, listen amid indifference. 

 “Kindness facilitates the quest for consensus; it opens new paths where hostility and conflict would burn all bridges.” (“Fratelli Tutti”, 224).

Let's always pray and live the prayer Pope Francis composed in his encyclical « Fratelli Tutti » (Brothers and Sisters, All).

 

Lord, Father of our human family,

you created all human beings equal in dignity:

pour forth into our hearts a fraternal spirit

and inspire in us a dream of renewed encounter,

dialogue, justice and peace.

Move us to create healthier societies

and a more dignified world,

a world without hunger, poverty, violence and war.

May our hearts be open

to all the peoples and nations of the earth.

May we recognize the goodness and beauty

that you have sown in each of us,

and thus forge bonds of unity, common projects,

and shared dreams.

Amen.

 

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