Oct 9, 2015

Discovery Day - "Jesus I trust in you"

God has a plan for my life and wants me to trust Him. He asks me to place my past, present and future in his hands.

• What does it mean to trust in Jesus?
• How do I grow in trust?
• Why do I find trust difficult?
• The graces of trust

For young women between 20-40

If you are seeking to come closer to God and to grow in trust, come for a Discovery Day on Saturday 10th October 2015 to the Disciples of the Divine Master, Whites Cross, Newtownpark Avenue Blackrock, Co Dublin.

Times: 10 am until 8pm with the possibility to stay on for personal quiet prayer and Eucharistic Adoration until 10 pm

Contact: 087 317 0964 or Sr. Louise at

 Presenters: Fr Michael Goonan SSP and the Disciples of the Divine Master.

There are limited places for accommodation for those who may be travelling to the event.

Oct 8, 2015

Priestly celibacy is not just ‘part of the package’ - Bishop Brendan Leahy

From CatholicIreland.net:

The vocation to priesthood and celibacy have been conjoined in the Catholic Church "for a very long time and for good reasons" - Bishop Brendan Leahy.

Priestly celibacy should not be regarded merely as part of a package deal in priesthood as it has deep roots, the Bishop of Limerick has said.

If the Church was purely imposing celibacy on men to be pragmatic, that would be wrong, said Bishop Brendan Leahy, former Professor of Systematic Theology at St Patrick’s College Maynooth.
“You have to go back to the deeper roots,” he suggested.

Unfortunately sometimes men had gone along with celibacy because they saw it as part of a package.
“It isn’t as if someone wants to become a priest and therefore has to put up with celibacy. It should be the other way around – you wants to follow Jesus and you see the gift of celibacy is a way of living being offered to you by God for you to live as a priest.”

The Bishop of Limerick has said that it is not specifically necessary for the vocation to priesthood and celibacy to be conjoined but that in the Latin Rite (most of the Roman Catholic Church), this has been the case for a very long time and for good reasons.

“The main reason is that at a certain point reflecting on the life of the Gospel and on what priesthood is, people saw there is a logical link between priesthood and celibacy. For instance, at Mass the priest says words such as ‘This is my body given up for you’.”

“People came to understand that it was good that men who felt they had a gift to be able to live a celibate lifestyle like that of Jesus, should be the ones who would be priests,” Bishop Brendan Leahy told the CatholicIreland.net.

In other rites of the Catholic Church like the Greek Catholic and Coptic Catholic Church, the vocations to priesthood and celibacy are not joined and men can marry before ordination though bishops must always be celibate.

Bishop Leahy explained that while compulsory celibacy came into the Catholic Church as a universal norm in the 12th century, from the times of the apostles there were people who lived their lives as celibates.

“We know that right from the 3rd and 4th centuries we have local areas, like a synod in Spain, which are legislating for celibacy for priests,” he said.

Bishop Leahy said generally he was happy to live as a celibate, but he did not live his life “as a bachelor on my own”.

“Celibacy reminds you all the time of what is the focus of your life – to be a follower of Jesus and the kingdom of God, and concretely to love people.”

“In general I’ve been happy with the lifestyle I’ve lived,” he said, “also through my discovery that I can’t live this on my own. I’ve to live with other people.”

Celibacy did not cut him off from women but like a married man who has taken on a life commitment he too had to be faithful to his and in relationships with women be pure in his love.

Six major issues for Church selected as themes for 2016 Limerick Diocesan Synod

Feedback from 4,000 questionnaires sets out challenges ahead for the church

Six themes, considered to be among the biggest issues facing the Catholic Church today, have been selected for Ireland’s first diocesan synod in half a century following a meeting at the weekend.
A gathering of over 300 delegates – 70% of whom were lay people – to the Limerick Diocesan Synod, which takes place next year, selected the six themes from a shortlist of 12 compiled over a ‘Listening Process’ in the first half of 2015.  The process connected with 5,000 plus people, from primary school children to the elderly and drawn from all socio economic backgrounds and ethnicities, across the Diocese.
The Listening Process included a questionnaire responded to by 4,000 people, amounting to the largest poll of the faithful in relation to issues facing the Church in Ireland in the modern era, as well meetings attended by over 1,500 individual people.  All 60 parishes engaged in the process, as well as 25 other groups, including primary, secondary and third level education, healthcare workers, members of the travelling community, the migrant community and people with disabilities.
It culminated at last weekend’s Delegate Day when the six themes were voted for after a day of intense reflection and discernment.
The themes, in order as they were selected by the delegates at the weekend, for the Diocesan Synod are:

1.      Community & Sense of Belonging
2.      Faith Formation
3.      Pastoral Care of the Family
4.      New Models of Leadership
5.      Liturgy & Life
6.      Young People

Community & Sense of Belonging was not alone the first theme selected by delegates but was also the most frequently mentioned (3,689 times) in questionnaire responses.  Topics referenced here included ‘cliques’, how to build communities, declining numbers in communities, encouraging volunteerism, generating a caring ethos in communities and stimulating more social gatherings.
The theme featured prominently across parish discussions and other groups such as the Polish community, the traveller community, people with disabilities and third level students.
Faith Formation was the second theme selected by delegates and the biggest single issue emerging under this theme in the questionnaires was reconciling Church teaching and the ‘lived reality’.  This was particularly evident in responses from young people as well as people with disabilities and those in healthcare.  Adult Faith Formation and Religious Education are also key topics across parishes and young people.
Pastoral Care of the Family was the third Theme selected by delegates.  Areas of concern referenced by respondents included the role of parents and guardians in passing on the faith, separation and divorce, second relationships and caring for children, gay marriage and equality for gay people all very much on the agenda.  Issues under the Pastoral care of the Family theme came up across parishes, in particular, but also all other groups engaged in the process and was particularly strong in primary, secondary and third level education groups.
Trying to address issues around shortage of clergy was one of the topics in the ‘New Models of Leadership’ theme – the third most referenced (2,451) of the six in responses to questionnaires.    Delegates, particularly drawn from parishes and third level students, talked of the need for new, skilled leadership models.  Personal skills of pastoral leaders, the shortage of vocations, married clergy and the role of women in leadership were the highest ranking issues under this theme.
The fifth Synod theme selected by delegates and the second most referenced (2,606 times) in questionnaires was Liturgy & Life – how we pray as Church and how this connects with daily life.  Respondents referenced concerns about having meaningful and joyful liturgy.  Having music in liturgy/Mass was the highest ranking topic in the Liturgy theme, particularly amongst young people.
Language in liturgy is also a concern, particularly for the Irish speaking community, while the Church environment was also particularly important to people with disabilities and the traveller community.
The sixth theme will be Young People and here the engagement and empowerment of young people was of concern across all groups.  The disenfranchisement of young people, their negative experience of Mass and their competing interests were of greatest concern in this theme. Accessible language is also of concern, particularly to children, teenagers and third level students
Reflecting on the selection of the themes, Bishop Brendan Leahy said,  “The listening process we set out on earlier this year has been an extremely positive one.  The first thing we take from it is the sense of belonging that the laity still has with their Church.   The clergy know that the Church faces many issues but so does the laity and it wants to play its part in regenerating the Church for the future.
“That is very encouraging as it shows that despite the issues of the past and challenges of the future, people still have a love of God and want to celebrate that.  They see the role the Church has in society, with the family and in the community and essentially there has been a collective hand up from thousands of people who have said ‘I belong to the Church and I want to play my part’.”
Said Director of the Limerick Diocesan Synod Fr. Eamonn Fitzgibbon,  “Due to the drop in vocations but also because it is the right thing now for the Church, there will be a far greater role for the laity going forward.  In the Limerick Diocese, the listening process for the Synod is really the start of this as together we will charter a
course for the Church of tomorrow.
“I am really heartened by the response and our role now is to harness this energy, this sense of belonging to make sure we have a Church and pastoral care in our diocese going forward that meets the needs and wishes of the faithful.”

Some web browsing.......

October is the month of the Rosary and over at Patheos, the Crescent is doing a series on the Rosary in Art - check it out.

15 Super Promises of Our Blessed Mother for Faithfully Praying the Rosary

Where did the rosary originate? “Turn then most gracious advocate …"

For Men Only: A Call to Battle

Look to the Liturgy (not Twitter) for Answers (about the Synod)

10 Things To Do Instead Of Reading About The Synod

 Pope Francis Always Brings Mary Flowers, but Why?

You Have The Rite To Remain Silent

Confessions of a New Confessor

NYT - The Pope’s Confounding Consistency

On abstaining from Communion

An interesting reflection on the "Francis effect" in the USA - Immune to the Francis Effect and Caught up (A Little) in the Francis Effect

Catholic whistleblower Charasma can't be held up as a martyr to his sexuality

In-Churching Russia - Journeying through the efforts of Orthodoxy to return Russia to faith

The slow death of purposeless walking

Oct 5, 2015

A new image of the Coptic Martyrs of Libya

From New Liturgical Movement:
I recently stumbled across this interesting new piece of work by Mr Nikola Sarić, a Serbian artist currently living in Hannover, Germany. It represents the martyrdom of the Coptic Martyrs of Libya, a group of Egyptian Copts who, as I am sure most of our readers will remember, were working in Libya when they were captured by Islamic fanatics, and had their throats cut on the seashore this past February. With them was a man named Matthew Ayariga, from the Subsaharan nation of Ghana, who was not himself a Copt, but on witnessing the martyrs’ courage in choosing death over denial of their Christian faith, joined them in confessing Christ, and professing their faith as his own, saying “Their God is my God. ” The Coptic Pope, His Holiness Tawadros II, officially recognized them as martyrs, and ordered that their commemoration be inserted into the Synaxarium; their feast is kept on February 15th.

Notice how the waves of the sea stained with the martyrs’ blood are shown around the edge of the image; Matthew Arayiga is distinct among the group on the top right. The men were killed wearing orange prisoners’ jumpsuits; all them are looking at Christ except for the one at the bottom, who is looking out at us.The original 100x70 cm watercolor is currently displayed at the Brenkhausen Monastery in Höxter, a town in the Westphalia region of Germany; this is a former Cistercian house which since 1994 has been a Coptic Orthodox monastery and the seat of the Coptic bishop of Germany. Mr Sarić plans to sell the work and donate the money to the families of the martyrs.You can read more about Mr Sarić and his various works at his website (in both German and English.)
Work on church honouring murdered Egyptian Copts to begin in days
Work will begin in the coming days in Minya on a church that was planned to honour the deaths of 20 Egyptian Coptic Christians who died in a brutal sectarian attack by militants in Libya earlier this year.

Plans and licences for the ‘Church of the Martyrs’ have been finalised to begin the work, head of the Samalout municipality in Minya said, as reported by MENA state news. Major General Gamal Mubaral Qinawy confirmed that the church will be built in the village of Al-Awar, in the district of Samalout.

Qinawy said that work on the construction of the church will begin in the coming days, with the project having secured EGP 5m so far, out of a total required cost of EGP 10m. The rest of the money will be collected while construction is underway. He noted that the work was initially stalled due to a required licence from the Ministry of Agriculture.
 Continue reading here.

Prayer Is the Sharing of Presence

From Ignatian Spirituality:
When I spend time with a friend, I want that person’s presence. After a while, a phone call or an e-mail just isn’t good enough—I want a body to hug, a face to gaze upon, the whole person behind the phone voice and the written words. God wants our whole presence, not just our thoughts flung heavenward when we have a second and just our emotional overflow when the day has gone sour. Prayer is the sharing of presence.
 One reason prayer can seem unnatural is that we don’t go about it naturally at all. We feel that we must assume a certain physical position, or that we must use some words and phrases but not others. It’s all right to feel joy and gratitude, but we try to push the anger and sadness back and out of the way.
Actually, sometimes we’re tempted to pray sort of the way we’d go through a job interview—putting out our best appearance and conversation, and presenting the self that we think will make the best impression.
Or, we are so used to other people judging and shaming us that we bring to God the self that is least likely to get us into trouble.
What do you bring to prayer? What language? What emotion? What facial expressions? What movements of body?
Are you entering a conversation with a tricky deity who is impossible to please? Or are you entering a conversation with someone who loves you better than the “bestest” friend?
Try this: After you have enjoyed a conversation with a friend, reflect on your part of the conversation. Write down what you said, what tones of voice you used, which physical gestures. Write about how you felt and how you expressed those feelings.
Then, when you pray, remember that marvelous self that you shared with your friend. Try to bring that self into conversation with the Divine friend, and see what happens.

Pope opens the Synod: No ideologies. This is not a parliament to negotiate

Oct 4, 2015

October - the month of prayer for the missions - The Work of the Pontifical Mission Societies - iCatholic

October is the month dedicated to prayer and support of the missions of the church through out the world with a special focus on the work done by missionaries on Mission Sunday which this year in Ireland is 18th October.

In October and especially on Mission Sunday Catholics are invited to be specifically conscious of the Church's missionary activity abroad (ad gentes) through prayer, sacrifice and financial contributions. The funds collected in all Churches throughout the world on Mission Sunday, is coordinated by the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, founded by Pauline Jaricot 190 years ago. The funds are used to assist Churches who need financial support and directed towards communities in need, both spiritually and materially.

In October 2014, Irish Catholics contributed more than €1.78 million on Mission Sunday. The Mission Sunday collection is made available to be distributed to as many as 1,100 young Churches who are supported by the generosity of Churches that have been blessed with a greater quantity of financial and material gifts. Our Mission Sunday figures for October 2014 are available to view in the Mission Sunday magazine.

Contributions will be used to build simple mission churches, to educate seminarians as well as female religious novices. Your support also assists in the formation of catechists and lay leaders. The Mission Sunday gift may also be used for building health facilities for children and adults as well as for providing emergency aid in times of war or natural disaster or to assist missionaries in their efforts to care for refugees.

The theme for Mission Sunday 2015 is ‘Abundant Life’.

On Mission Sunday, in a special way, we celebrate the work circa 1,300 Irish born missionaries and all missionaries throughout the world. We thank God for them, for all who support them in our own country and during mission month we unite ourselves in prayer with them and with the communities with whom they work.

Click on link to get the 2015 reflection and information sheet.

To find out more about World Mission Ireland please go HERE.

Why Medjugorje matters - Crux

In the early 1980s, six children in the Yugoslavian town of Medjugorje reported seeing visions of the Virgin Mary. Since that time, millions of people have made the pilgrimage to Medjugorje and countless others still follow messages attributed to the Virgin Mary that are revealed by the original seers.

This summer, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) completed its investigation of the apparitions at Medjugorje and submitted its findings to Pope Francis. While rumors have long swirled that the report on Medjugorje
will be negative, no one — to my knowledge — has gone on record confirming a negative judgment.

And so a full accounting will have to wait until the CDF report is made public.

The story of Medjugorje is complex and complicated. It involves not only claims of supernatural occurrences, but also Catholic infighting and allegations of scandal. Celebrations of miracles exist alongside suspicions of fraud, and the continuing popularity of Medjugorje has raised difficult spiritual and administrative questions for three different popes.

But why does Medjugorje matter?

If you ask different Catholics, you will get wildly different answers.
Continue reading here.

Has the world gone mad or is it me?

Over at Humblepiety, Fr Patrick asks the questions which a lot of us probably ask ourselves a lot.
Has the world gone mad or is it me?

This week October arrived, it was expected, announcing its arrival with an advert campaign behind it to “Stoptober” If you want to give up smoking, it is a good month for you. If you don’t smoke, it, depending on your life outlook, is just another month on the treadmill of life, or another month to engage in, while on the gifted journey and miracle that is life! So it is here and it presents opportunities for reflection......

There seems to be a different ends of the spectrum trying to influence to their way of thinking the outcome of the synod. Those who have expectations for wholesale changes are unrealistic. The Church seeks ways to accompany people, but not on a high speed train, rather a steam train, gently rattling beside the journey taken. The Church does not flatter the prevailing whim of the times, or bow down to the spirit of the day, she preserves and safeguards the values that Christ instituted, and that is how it should be. I do not have a right, to do what I want all of the time, and just because I can, does not mean that I should! The Church is not here to cause pain, it may seem that way to many, but the healing balm of Christ is the essence and heart of the Church.
Read the full reflection HERE.

Synod on the Family 2015 - Rome Reports

Vatican Radio -Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri explains how the Synod on the Family will unfold
Vatican Radio - Changes to Synod of Bishops on Family unveiled

Vatican Radio - Pope's Homily at Opening Mass of the Synod of Bishops

Crux - Pope Francis faces an uphill climb to get the synod he wants plus: A primer on the Synod of Bishops on the family

Vatican Radio follows SS102fm to a story.........

Of interest on Vatican Radio this morning is an interview with Cathal Barry of the Irish Catholic newspaper about the study guide written by Fr Eamon Conway and himself to help people work through the papal encyclical "Laudato Si". We kindly refer you to SS102fm interview with Fr Eamonn Conway here.

4th October 2015 - Pope Francis speaks to families in Philadelphia - 27th Sunday in Ordinary time

On this weeks programme John is joined by Ann, Martina and Micheal Keating. We have a recording of Pope Francis talk in Philadelphia. We have our regular reflection on the Sunday gospel as well as some other liturgical odds and ends.

You can listen to the podcast of this weeks podcast HERE.

Pope Francis address to the World Meeting of Families 2015

You can listen to the Pope's address excerpted from the main programme HERE.

Pope thanks families for witnessing to truth, goodness and beauty.
UPDATE: Text of Popes address:
Dear brothers and sisters, dear families,

Thank you to those who have given their testimonies. Thank you to those who have brought us joy with their art, with beauty, which is the path to reach God. Beauty brings us to God. And a true testimony brings us to God, because God also is the truth, He is beauty, He is goodness, and a testimony given to serve is good, it makes us good people, because God is good. It brings us to God. All that is good, all that is true, all that is beautiful brings us to God. Because God is good, God is beautiful, God is the truth.

Thank you to everyone who gave us a message here and [thank you] for the presence of all of you, which is also a testimony, a true testimony that it is worthwhile to live as a family, that a society grows strong, grows in goodness, grows in beauty and truly grows if it is built on the foundation of the family.

Once, a boy asked me — you know that children ask hard questions — he asked me, “Father, what did God do before He created the world?” I can tell you that it was hard for me to come up with an answer. I told him what I’m saying now to you. Before creating the world, God loved, because God is love. But there was so much love that He had within Himself, this love between the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, it was so great, so overflowing that — I don’t know if this is very theological, but you’ll understand what I mean — it was so great that He couldn’t be egotistical. He had to come out of Himself so as to have that which He could love outside of Himself.

And there God created the world. There God made this marvel in which we live and, since we’re a little mixed up, we are destroying it. But the most beautiful thing that God made, the Bible says, was the family. He created man and woman, and He gave them everything. He gave them the world! Grow, multiply, cultivate the earth, make it produce, make it grow. He presented to a family all of the love that He made in this marvelous creation.

Let’s go back a bit. All of the love that God has in Himself, all of the beauty that God has in Himself, all of the truth that God has in Himself, He gives to the family. And a family is truly a family when it is able to open its arms and receive all of this love.

Obviously, earthly paradise is here no longer. Life has its problems. Men, because of the devil’s astuteness, learned to have divisions among themselves. And all of this love that God had given was nearly lost. And shortly thereafter, the first crime, the first fratricide. A brother kills another brother: war. The love, the beauty, and the truth of God — and the destruction of war. And between these two poles, we walk today. We have to decide. We have to decide on which path to walk.

But let’s go back. When the man and his wife made the mistake and distanced themselves from God, God did not leave them alone. There was so much love, so much love that He began to walk with humanity. He began to walk with His people, until the fullness of time arrived, and He gave the greatest sign of His love, His Son.

And His Son, where did He send Him? To a palace? To a city, to start a business? He sent Him to a family! God came into the world in a family.

And he was able to do this because this family was a family that had its heart open to love, that had the doors open to love. Let’s think of Mary, this young woman. She couldn’t believe it. “How can this be?” And when it was explained to her, she obeyed. Let’s think of Joseph, full of dreams to form a household. He finds himself with this surprise that he doesn’t understand. He accepts. He obeys. And in the obedience of love of this woman, Mary, and of this man, Joseph, a family is created into which comes God.

God always knocks at the door of hearts. He likes to do this. It comes from His heart. But, do you know what He likes best? To knock on the doors of families and find families that are united, to find families that love each other, to find the families that bring up their children and educate them and help them to keep going forward and that create a society of goodness, of truth, and of beauty.

We are in the Festival of Families. The family has a divine passport, is that clear? The passport that a family has is issued it by God, so that within its heart, truth, love, and beauty would grow more and more.

Sure, one of you could say to me, “Father, you speak this way because you’re single.” In families, there are difficulties. In families, we argue; in families, sometimes the plates fly; in families, the children give us headaches. And I’m not even going to mention the mother-in-law. But in families, there is always, always, the cross. Always. Because the love of God, of the Son of God, also opened for us this path. But, in families as well, after the cross, there is the resurrection. Because the Son of God opened for us this path. Because of this, the family is — forgive the term I’ll use — it is a factory of hope, of hope of life and of resurrection. God was the one who opened this path.

And the children. The children make us work. We, too, as sons and daughters also created work.

Sometimes, at home, I see some of my collaborators who come into work with dark circles under their eyes. They have a baby who is a month old, or two moths old, and I ask them, “You didn’t sleep?” “Oh no, he cried all night long.” In families, there are difficulties, but these difficulties are overcome with love. Hate doesn’t overcome any difficulty. Division of hearts doesn’t overcome any difficulty. Only love is capable of overcoming difficulties. Love is a festival. Love is joy. Love is to keep moving forward.

And I don’t want to continue talking, because this will get too long. But I would like to stress two points regarding the family which I would like you to pay special attention to. Not only would I like you to do this, but we must pay special attention to this: the children and the grandparents. Children and young people are the future, they are the strength, those who take us forward. They are the ones in which we place our hope. Grandparents are the memory of a family, they are the ones who gave us the faith, transmitted to us the faith.

To take care of the grandparents and to take care of the children is the sign of love — I don’t know if it’s the greatest but I would say the most promising [sign of love] of the family, because it promises the future. A people that does not know how to care for the children and a people that does not know how to care for the grandparents is a people without a future, because it doesn’t have strength and it doesn’t have the memory that will carry it forward.

And well, the family is beautiful, but it is costly. It brings problems. In the family, sometimes there is enmity. The husband fights with the wife or they give each other dirty looks, or the children with the parents … I advise one thing: Never end the day without making peace in the family. In a family, a day cannot end at war.

May God bless you. May God give you strength. May God strengthen you to keep moving forward. Let us care for the family. Let us defend the family, because there, there, our future is in play. Thank you, may God bless you and pray for me, please.

Gospel - Mark 10: 2-16

Reflections on this weeks gospel:

Word on Fire
Sunday Reflections
English Dominicans
Centre for Liturgy

Liturgical odds & ends

Liturgy of the Hours - psalter week 3; 27th week in ordinary time

Saints of the Week

October 5th - Saint Faustina Kowalska - Seer of the Divine Mercy
October 6th - St Bruno - founder of the Carthusians
October 7th - Our Lady of the Rosary
October 8th - Bl John Adams (martyr)
October 9th - Bl John Henry Newman; also St Denis & Companions
October 10th - St Daniel Comboni

Pope's Intentions for October 2015

Sep 29, 2015

Michael, Raphael, Gabriel; Members of the Family

Over at Aleteia, the Anchoress reflects on todays feast day of the Archangels:
At morning prayer, the psalms seem suited to the archangels. Psalm 29 for Michael, the power of God: “The Lord’s voice resounding on the waters, the God of Glory thunders; the Lord on the immensity of waters…” And for Gabriel, Psalm 25, a quiet prayer of hope and trust. For Raphael, a psalm that I love, 147: “The Lord builds up Jerusalem, and brings back Israel’s exiles. And heals the broken-hearted; and binds up all their wounds.” 
Michael – who is as God; Gabriel – God’s messenger; Raphael – God’s healing. They say what angels always say, “Do not fear.”
– Kathleen Norris, The Cloister Walk

My younger son has a particular devotion to the Archangel Michael, and took his name at his confirmation. Even when he was very small he would “talk” to Michael, and on the rare nights when he would awaken from a bad dream, we would whisper together about the powerful angel of God, the mighty warrior who puts down all that is evil and scary — dragons and prideful beings and such — and my son would be able to drift back into sleep having been consoled by the knowledge that such a warrior was on the job.

Once, when he was about eleven-years-old, my son ushered at a wedding and was gifted for his trouble with an Icon of the Archangel Michael. Bride and groom were both amused, nay, stunned, to watch him beam and clutch the treasure to his chest in heartfelt gratitude. That night, he fell asleep, still clutching Michael to his breast. “I’ve never seen a kid react to something religious like that,” the groom said. But my son and Michael go back a long way. There is history, there; it’s personal and private history, but it does a parent’s heart good, particularly when a son is grown into a man, to know that an angel plays a real and important role in the life of a family member.

An angel was standing near the altar in the temple; in his hand was a golden censer, and a large amount of incense was given to him. From the angel’s hand the smoke of the incense went up before God…
– Revelation, Chapter 8

When my elder son left for college, I slipped into his packs an Icon of Gabriel, God’s messenger. He put it up in his room, but wondered about it. Why Gabriel? I wondered about it, too, until I remembered that Gabriel is the messenger. My firstborn was going away, and I’m sure on some level, I was afraid I would never hear from him again. I think I hoped Gabriel would help keep the communication lines open.
 Continue reading here.

Year of Mercy - Two great confessors chosen for the Jubilee of Mercy: Saint Pio and Saint Leopold