God's Word and Daily Life

Saint John Paul II and World Youth Day

Saint John Paul II and World Youth Day

By Ada Escopete

 

God has truly blessed me with the privilege of allowing me to attend my first World Youth Day (WYD) here in the Philippines in 1995. Twenty-seven pilgrims, including our bishop, left our humble parish for a trip to Manila.

Several weeks prior to leaving Palawan, our group of young people met for lectio divina, faith-sharing and fun. It was a time of deepening our relationship with God and each other. By the time we began our pilgrimage, we were very excited to see and meet Pope John Paul II. Our minds and hearts were also open to encountering God in a new way.

 

Palawan has a small population so I was totally amazed by the number of young people as well as older adults attending the event. It was such a joy to meet and share life with people from various countries, cultures and languages. I was overwhelmed by the diversity among us, yet felt the unity of one faith. It did not matter whether you were red, white or green, we all shared one great faith. There was a strong sense of the presence of God among us. The experience gave a sense of rootedness and connection with the universal Church.

 

The catechesis sessions were very rich and challenging. We addressed the needs of our world and how we as young people could respond to these needs. In looking at the theme, “Go and Make Disciples of all Nations”, what stayed with me throughout my experience was the call to encourage each other to unite and remain faithful to ourselves as well as to God – even if it means being criticized and attacked. Listening to the Word each day and the passion with which it was read moved me to want to respond to the Gospel with courage and at the same time remain non-violent.

As we celebrate the feast of Saint John Paul II on October 22, let us remember his great legacy in founding the World Youth Day. Saint John Paul II, pray for us!

October 12: First Memorial of Blessed Carlo Acutis  “a witness of Christ for younger generations” – Pope Francis

October 12: First Memorial of Blessed Carlo Acutis “a witness of Christ for younger generations” – Pope Francis

With his beatification, the Catholic Church has now its first “Blessed” who had loved Super Mario and Pokémon, but not as much as he loved the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. The young Italian computer whiz, who died of leukemia at 15 offering his suffering for the Pope and the Church, was beatified on Oct. 10 in a Mass at the Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi.

 

“Carlo was an ordinary boy, simple, spontaneous, likable … he loved nature and animals, he played football, he had many friends of his age, he was attracted by modern means of social communication, passionate about computer science and, self-taught, he built websites to transmit the Gospel, to communicate values and beauty… A model of how young people can use technology at the service of the Gospel to “reach as many people as possible and help them know the beauty of friendship with the Lord.” – Cardinal Agostino Vallini, in Assisi.

 

Let us pray for today’s youth:

 

O God, who have sent the power of the Gospel

like leaven into the world,

grant that the youth of today

whom you have called to live amid the world and its affairs,

may be fervent with the Christian spirit

and, through the tasks they carry out in this present age,

may constantly build up your Kingdom with enthusiasm and joy.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Our Lady of the Rosary

Our Lady of the Rosary

by Fr. Bernard Holzer, AA
 
Our celebration today and the whole of October invites us to meditate upon the mysteries of Christ, following the example of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who was singularly associated with the incarnation, passion and glorious resurrection of the Son of God.

 

“The Angel Gabriel brought Good’s message to Mary, and she conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

“His mother stood beside the cross.”

“Rejoice, O Virgin Mother, Christ his risen from the dead, alleluia.”

(Antiphons from the Vespers of the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary)

 

“Hail Mary full of Grace, the Lord is with you.

Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb Jesus.

Holy Mary Mother of God,

Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.”
Angels of God

Angels of God

By Ada Escopete

“See that you do not despise one of these little ones; for I tell you that in heaven their angels always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 18:10).

“Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to serve, for the sake of those who are to obtain salvation?” (Hebrews 1:14)

The culture in which we live can have a great and deleterious effect on us. Eternal truths  and realities can become obscured, particularly in our time, when the seven deadly sins of pride, avarice,  envy, wrath, sloth, lust and gluttony rule as supreme.

So, we need to remind ourselves of these realities and learn to live them throughout our ordinary moments. God is real. He exists. He loves us and calls us to be with Him. He sent His Son to save us and by His Holy Name — Jesus — we attain salvation and become sons and daughters of the Most High God. We are composite beings, comprised of body and soul, yet there is another realm, the spiritual realm, in which the angels — spirits — live.

God has given each of us a guardian angel to protect us and lead us to Him. The first step for those in a state of Sanctifying Grace to become more attuned to these spiritual realities is to practice humility.
Padre Pio, pray for us!

Padre Pio, pray for us!

by Ada Escopete
As I was reflecting on this mystical saint of the last century, I was reminded about the fact that, while he was alive, he was often misunderstood. In fact, for many years, he was forbidden to celebrate Mass and was not allowed to communicate with those outside the monastery walls.

 

Let us remind ourselves over and over again that holiness has to do with very ordinary things: truthfulness, courtesy, kindness, gentleness, consideration for others, contentment with our lot, honesty and courage in the face of life, reliability, dutifulness. If we were to offer advice to those who want to advance. . .it would be to set the compass, so to speak; to aim at this gathering up of the self so as to be able to give that self to God. 

 

Dealing with this hardship led him to an even deeper relationship with God. How many of us, when dealing with difficulties, simply give up, believing things will not get better?

This quote from Padre Pio is a gentle reminder that we should not give up in our prayers. God’s timing is perfect, and worrying about the outcome of our situation won’t do any good.

 

“Pray, wait, and do not worry. Worrying is useless. God is merciful and will listen to your prayer… Prayer is the best weapon we have; it is the key to the heart of God. You should speak to Jesus, not with your lips but with your heart.”

 

Today, as we remember this modern saint, let’s lift up our concerns to Jesus, not just with our lips, but with our hearts. Let’s trust that our prayers are being heard.

We Exalt Jesus' cross

We Exalt Jesus' cross

by Ada Escopete
What a glorious feast we celebrate today!  It’s the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross!

Does the Cross truly make sense?  If we could separate ourselves from all we have learned about the Cross of Christ and just look at it from a secular and historical perspective, the Cross is a sign of great tragedy.  It’s connected to the story of a man who became quite popular with many, yet was vehemently hated by others.  In the end, those who hated this man arranged for His brutal crucifixion.  So, from a purely secular point of view, the Cross is an awful thing.

But Christians do not see the Cross from a secular point of view.  We see it from the divine perspective.  We see Jesus lifted up on the Cross for all to see.  We see Him using horrible suffering to eliminate suffering forever.  We see Him using death to destroy death itself.  Ultimately, we see Jesus become victorious on that Cross and, therefore, forever we see the Cross as an exalted and glorious throne!    

Moses’ actions in the desert prefigured the Cross.  Many people were dying from snake bites. Therefore, God told Moses to lift up the image of a snake on a pole so that all who looked upon it would be healed.  And that’s exactly what happened.  Ironically, the snake brought life instead of death!

Suffering occurs throughout our lives in various ways.  Perhaps for some it’s daily aches and pains from ill health, and for others it may be on a much deeper level, such as an emotional, personal, relational or spiritual one.  Sin, in fact, is the cause of the greatest suffering, so those who struggle deeply with sin in their lives suffer deeply from that sin.

Happy Birthday, Mama Mary!

Happy Birthday, Mama Mary!

By Fr. Bernard Holzer, AA

 

Today is a day of great celebration in the Philippines and around the world.

We celebrate the birth of the Virgin Mary.

What a gift for humanity! What a gift for all of us!

What a sign of the goodness and the tenderness on the part of God, our Father:

He gives us a mother, a Mom or Mama!

 

The "Hail Mary" best sums up the deep meaning of this feast:

 

“Hail Mary full of Grace, the Lord is with thee.

Blessed are thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb Jesus.

Holy Mary Mother of God,

Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen. »

 

During that day,

with the angels and all the saints,

with men and women of all times and of all races,

let us simply associate ourselves with Mary's song:

 

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;

my spirit rejoices in God my savior.

For he has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness;

behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed.

The Mighty One has done great things for me,

and holy is his name.

His mercy is from age to age

to those who fear him.

He has shown might with his arm,

dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart.

He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones

but lifted up the lowly.

The hungry he has filled with good things;

the rich he has sent away empty.

He has helped Israel his servant,

remembering his mercy,

according to his promise to our fathers,

to Abraham and to his descendants forever.” (Luke 1: 46-55)

The healing power of Jesus

The healing power of Jesus

by Father Bernard Holzer, aa

 

 

During the first days of the week, the liturgy invites us to listen to the Gospel according to Saint Luke (Chapter 4). Saint Luke offers us to accompany Jesus in his healing ministry.

 

On the day of the Sabbath, he did not perform a miracle in Nazareth. But the following week, in the City of Capernaum at the crossroad of the nations, he cast out a demon and then, in front of the synagogue and the house of Simon Peter, healed his mother-in-law with a fever. At sunset, he cured a lot of sick people with various diseases.

 

Let us reread and meditate on this chapter. Imagine the different scenes. Let us become actors in these stories... Note that Jesus cannot heal when there is no welcome, when there is no faith, when one remains selfish, without compassion and love for others, without accepting the Good News.

 

So when we pray for Jesus to come and heal us and those we love, let us open our hearts and hands. Let us ask for the grace of faith. Let us become like children confident in his parents.

 

O Lord, teach us how to love, to be compassionate and kind like you!

 

“The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and of great kindness.

The Lord is good to all and compassionate toward all his works…

The Lord is faithful in all his words and holy in all his works.

The Lord lift up all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down.” – Psalm 145

Prepare the way of the Lord

Prepare the way of the Lord

By Ada Escopete

With the Passion of St. John the Baptist on August 29, we reflect upon the life and legacy of he who was “great in the sight of the Lord.” St. John is perhaps best known for his baptism of Jesus in the Jordan, marking the beginning of Jesus’ public career.

John was born to Elizabeth, who had been barren for years and advanced in age when she conceived. When the angel Gabriel appeared to her husband Zechariah to tell him of John’s conception, he declared of the child:

 [H]e will be great in the sight of [the] Lord. He will drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will be filled with the holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb, and he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. He will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah to turn the hearts of fathers toward children and the disobedient to the understanding of the righteous, to prepare a people fit for the Lord.” (Luke 1:15-17)

A child of the desert, John grew up and lived as a hermit in the Judean wilderness, eating a diet of locusts and wild honey, and clad in camel hair clothing – details which may be reflective of strict commitments to Nazarite law (Matthew 3:4). In his late twenties John left and began his ministry preaching by the Jordan River, yet the wilderness of Judea remained a definitive aspect of John’s identity. In John 1:23, when the Pharisees ask him who he was, he answered with the language of Isaiah, saying:

I am ‘the voice of one crying out in the desert, make straight the way of the Lord.’

SAINT ROCH, Patron Saint in time of pandemic

SAINT ROCH, Patron Saint in time of pandemic

By Ada Escopete

 

Scarcely 32 years old when he died, it is generally accepted that Saint Roch (San Roque) 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.

 

Led by the loss of his par­ents, he renounced his principality and whatever property there was in favor of his uncle. The rest of his rich in­heritance he sold and distributed among the poor. He kept nothing for himself but a "PILGRIM'S GARB" and pittance. It is not known how he meant to spend his life; only that his thought for the time being was of making a pilgrimage to Rome, to visit the tomb of the Apostles.

 

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.

 

But God did not abandon him. Tradition has it that rainfall helped refresh him and slaked his thirst, and when he at length felt the appetite for something to eat, a well-groomed hound appeared with a fresh roll between his teeth.

 

Learning that the plague had flared up again in Piacenza, yet hardly able to get about, he went to town daily to tend the victims, returning each night to his dilapidated hut.

 

Miraculous happenings fol­lowed Roch's death. Not only did the governor and all the surviving members of the relationship come forward to acknowledge their kinsman with a magnificent funeral, there was a steady issue of cures upon invocation of his name. A special church was built to enshrine the remains. Many years later in 1414, when the plague broke out at the General Council of Constance, it was a ready thought to invoke the aid of the saintly "pilgrim." His image was carried about in procession with the astound­ing result that the plague abated at once. The fame of this event was spread by the members of the Council to every corner of Europe and devotion to Roch increased rapidly.

 

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, we pray to him in the Oratio Imperata to deliver us from the Covid-19 pandemic. Saint Roch, pray for us!