Blessed Pope John Paul II and the Catholic Family @ LovingTheChurch.com

A look at Familiaris Consortio, The Role of the Christian Family in the Modern World.This week at LovingTheChurch.com, I discuss Blessed Pope John Paul II and the Catholic Family. Turning to his Apostolic Exhortation, Familiaris Consortio (The Role of the Christian Family in the Modern World), I consider the questions:

What exactly is the Catholic family?

What practical things can the Catholic family do to remain faithful to Christ?

Blessed Pope John Paul II and the Catholic Family

May God bless you and keep you! Blessed Pope John Paul II, pray for us. Amen.


The Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus: A Girl, a Priest, and the Promise of the Sacred Heart

The Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of JesusToday is the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a solemnity near and dear to my heart.

Growing up, we would all gather each night to pray the rosary in our family prayer room around a little prayer altar over which hung a picture of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (the same as the one I’ve included here).

The image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus had a profound effect on me; our Lord’s eyes would appear to follow me. Regardless of where I would sit or knee in the room, Jesus was always watching me with His Heart wrapped in thorns and burning with love.

You don’t forget things like that. It’s a testimony to the importance of sacred images in the home. Children need that sense of wonder and mystery that only images of our Lord, His mother, and the saints can give.

Click here for more on the history of Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Today, I would like to share with you an amazing story told by Fr Jorge Bugallo García, LC about life & death, the priesthood, and the mercy of the Sacred Heart of Jesus:

A Girl, a Priest, and the Promise of the Sacred Heart

A Girl, a Priest, and the Promise of the Sacred Heart

June 9, 2010. San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy. A priest’s life is full of unique and unrepeatable experiences. He is “taken from among men and chosen to represent them” (Heb. 5:1). Unlike other more “ordinary” moments, this one marked my life in a profound way from its very beginning—and also marked my incipient priestly ministry.

I was ordained to the priesthood on December 12, 2009, on the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, in Rome. That day, at 10:30 in the morning, Christ had made me his priest forever. It was a Saturday, the 12th of December, in the Year for Priests. I could not have asked for more. That night, I couldn’t sleep a wink from the excitement and the reality of what I had lived that morning. Well, God was already in a hurry, and Our Lady did not waste the opportunity.

On Sunday, December 13, I celebrated my first Mass, right on the altar of Our Lady of Guadalupe, next to the tomb of St Peter, and just a few meters from John Paul II’s tomb. What an immense grace! I felt profoundly happy and could not contain myself in the homily. Amidst tears and emotions, I kept repeating “Thank you!” to God, to our Mother in heaven, and to all those who accompanied me in these twenty-some years of preparation and formation. And yet, even then, heaven was carefully preparing a great event for the following day.

On Monday, December 14, I went with my family to San Giovanni Rotondo, where Padre Pio’s monastery and tomb are located. It was over five hours away from Rome, but it was worth the effort, because I had reserved an altar to celebrate Mass there, and we wanted to visit the place. We arrived around midday and I was able to celebrate Mass at the appointed time. By six in the afternoon—we had already fully enjoyed the day—and it was getting dark out. We got into the car to come back to Rome. My brother asked if he could stop by a shop to fix his cell phone, since it wasn’t working. It was already late and starting to drizzle. But we stopped to look for a shop so that my brother Luis could solve his problem. One thing led to another, and half an hour later, he bought a phone card and that took care of it.

The clock showed that it was 6:45 when we finally started heading down the mountain along the national highway, heading toward the freeway that would lead us to Rome. The going was slow because of the darkness and the rain. Added to that was the fact that a motorcycle, driven by a young woman at a very prudent speed, was setting the pace for the (at least) seven vehicles behind her. While we prayed the Rosary, halfway down the mountain, I suddenly noticed that the motorcycle had disappeared after one of the countless “tornanti” or hairpin curves.

I noticed because the line started to move more quickly and the motorcycle was no longer visible. But a few curves down the road… I saw the motorcycle! It was about five meters from the highway, with its headlight on, lying down with its front wheel turned in the wrong direction. At that moment, something inside me told me: “Stop and go down!” I stopped the car on the side of the highway and told my mother and my brother to wait for me, that it would be something quick. I got out of the car.

It was still raining and the only light guiding me was from the headlight of the partially dented motorcycle. I noticed, from the state of the motorcycle, that whoever was driving it had suffered an accident or at least a bad fall. I called out to see if anyone heard me. There was no answer. I tried again, a little stronger, with the best Italian I could muster. No one answered. As it was the forest, full of overgrown shrubs, and hard to see, I imagined the worst.

Since the motorcycle headlight was pointing toward some trees, I walked toward them. I was completely taken aback when a few meters ahead, I saw the girl who had been on the motorcycle just a few minutes earlier while we were descending the mountain. I was horrified to see that her left arm had been completely amputated, and her shoulder was bleeding nonstop. She had only half of her other arm, from her shoulder to her elbow, and it was also bleeding profusely. Her legs were thrown up toward her shoulders, and both were completely broken. She seemed like a broken doll, but in reality she was a living person. It was a spectacle that you wouldn’t wish on anyone.

I came closer. Her face was only half visible, since the helmet had been smashed onto her head, crushing the entire right side of her head and face. Only her left eye was visible. I spoke into her ear, saying, “I’m a priest… can you hear me? If you want, I can give you the absolution… If you agree, it’s enough for you to make some small movement…” I saw her head move a little.

Meanwhile, my mother had come closer, and she screamed. My brother also came, alerted by the scream. I asked my brother to use his cell phone—which was now working—to call an ambulance from the town. Fifteen minutes later, the ambulance came. During that time, I was with the girl, accompanying her and trying the best I could to squelch the flow of blood from the places in her body where she was bleeding. And most importantly, I gave her the absolution. She was the first person to whom I gave this sacrament—only 60 hours had gone by since my ordination.

The paramedics came and took her pulse. She was very week. “Non ce la fa,” one of them whispered to me. “She’s not going to make it.” I took the girl in my arms, and while I was carrying her to the ambulance, she looked me in the face, closed her visible eye, and her head fell forward on her neck: she left this world. She went to heaven while she was in my arms. Her name was Rosanna and she was 17 years old.

That’s how it happened. Among the girl’s belongings, we found her cell phone, and we were able to call her mother. She lived in a town ten kilometers away from the accident. Imagine what it is like to tell a mother that her daughter has just died in a road accident. In our conversation, I also told her:

“Ma’am, I am a priest. I was just ordained on Saturday. Look, I had the opportunity to share your daughter Rosanna’s last moments of life, and I am very happy to begin my priestly ministry this way.”

In between tears and with her voice breaking, the mother thanked me for the call and among all the words she said, which I was not fully able to understand (she spoke a kind of regional dialect), I did hear her say:

“Father, you are a priest. Father, you should know that my daughter was very devoted to the Sacred Heart. I am a believer like my daughter. And I don’t know why, but I do know one thing. Rosanna did the novena to the Sacred Heart twice. She had Communion and confessed on the first nine Fridays of the month a few times. That is why she could not die without the help of the Heart of Jesus. Thank you, Father, and may God bless you always.”

The words speak for themselves. I do not remember them all exactly, but that was as much as I remember.

That night, we got to Rome around dawn. I could not sleep. I kept thinking about everything I had lived a few hours earlier. It is not easy to explain the things that happen to you sometimes, at least, not like that. I was just starting to assimilate the priesthood I had received a few hours earlier and God was already asking for my help.

Two paths crossed that night: Rosanna’s and mine. And Christ was in a hurry that night. My brother’s cell phone, which hadn’t been working, had slowed down our departure. Then the accident happened while we were praying the Rosary. Thanks to my brother’s cell phone, which was now working, we were able to call the ambulance and Rosanna’s mother.

It’s very clear. There are no coincidences in life. Just God’s hand and the intercession of the Blessed Virgin were enough to work the miracle, to bring a person to heaven.


Marriage Between One Man & One Woman, G.K. Chesterton & The Father’s Role @LovingTheChurch.com

G.K. Chesterton on the role of the father as head of the houseThis week @ LovingTheChurch.com, I reflect upon an article written by G.K. Chesterton, The Head of the House and how it is so applicable to what is unfolding in our modern culture.

Marriage Between One Man & One Woman, G.K. Chesterton & The Father’s Role

May God bless you and keep you!


Archbishop Fulton Sheen on the Philosophy of Pleasure

The Way to Happiness by Fulton SheenMost of you know my love for Archbishop Fulton Sheen and how his writings have radically impacted my life.

Yesterday I read the following in his book, The Way to Happiness. Archbishop Sheen provides a proper, dare I say, Catholic understanding of pleasure and why when we make pleasure our goal we inevitably wind up more unhappy. Enjoy!

CHAPTER 13: THE PHILOSOPHY OF PLEASURE

We all want happiness. We should all take the sensible step of learning that there are three laws of pleasure which, if followed, will make the attainment of happiness immeasurably easier.

The first law: If you are ever to have a good time, you cannot plan your life to include nothing but good times Pleasure is like beauty; it is conditioned by contrast. A woman who wants to show off her black velvet dress will not, if she is wise, stand against a black curtain, but against a white backdrop. She wants the contrast. Fireworks would not delight us if they were shot off against a background of fire, or the blaze of the noonday sun; they need to stand out against the darkness. Lilies bring us a special pleasure because their petals rise, surprisingly, on the waters of foul ponds. Contrast is needed to help us see each thing as being vividly itself.

Pleasure by the same principle, is best enjoyed when it comes to us as a “treat,” in contrast to experiences that are less pleasurable. We make a great mistake if we try to have all our nights party-night. No on would enjoy Thanksgiving if every meal were a turkey dinner. New Year’s Eve would not delight us if the whistles blew at midnight every night.

Fun rests on contrast, and so does the enjoyment of a funny situation…

Our enjoyment of life is vastly increased if we follow the spiritual injunction to bring some mortification and self denial into our lives. This practice saves us from being jaded; it preserves the tang and joy of living. The harp strings of our lives are not thin, made slack by being pulled until they are out of tune; instead we tighten them and help preserve their harmony.

The second law: Pleasure is deepened and enhanced when it has survived a moment of tedium or pain: this law helps us to make our prized pleasure last for whole lifetime. To do so, we must keep going at anything we do until we get our second wind. One enjoys a mountain-climb more after passing through the first moment of discouraged exhaustion. One becomes more interested in a job or work after the first impulse to drop it has been overcome.

In the same way, marriages become more stable only after disillusionment has brought the honeymoon to an end. The great value of the marital vow is in keeping the couple together during the first quarrel; it tides them over their early period of resentment,
until they get the second wind of true happiness at being together. Marriage joys, like all great joys, are born out of some pain. As we must crack the nut to taste the sweet so, in the spiritual life, the cross must be the prelude to the crown.

The third law: Pleasure is a by-product, not a goal. Happiness must be our bridesmaid, not our bride. Many people make the great mistake of aiming directly at pleasure; they forget that pleasure comes only from the fulfillment of some duty or obedience to a law – for man is made to obey the laws of his own nature as inescapably as he must obey the laws of gravity. A boy has pleasure eating ice cream because he is fulfilling one of the “oughts” of human nature: eating. If he eats more ice cream than the laws of his body sanction, he will not longer get the pleasure he seeks, but the pain of a stomach ache. To seek pleasure, regardless of law, is to miss it

Shall we start with pleasure or end with it? There are two answers to the question: the Christian and the pagan. The Christian says, “Begin with the fast and end with the feast, and you will really savor it.” The pagan says, “Begin with the feast and end with the morning-after headache.”


Why Fathers Need Prayer @ LovingTheChurch.com

Blessed John Paul II with his fatherThis week at LovingTheChurch.com, I discuss why, as a father, I need to pray – Why Fathers Need Prayer.

Christ said “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Mt 11:28). Life comes at me every day, prayer helps me to live life on life’s terms; to live in the present moment; to place my trust in God.

John Thavis, the Rome Bureau Chief for Catholic News Service, once wrote the following about Blessed John Paul II and his father:

“The future Pope would sometimes wake in the middle of the night and find his father praying on his knees. At his death, friends say Karol knelt for twelve hours in prayer at his father’s bedside.”

At the end of the post I include a prayer – A Father’s Prayer for Guidance. It is an excellent prayer and worth passing on to any fathers in your life.

May God bless you and keep you.


Fatherhood, Softball, and the Greatest Lesson I Ever Learned @ LovingTheChurch.com

Lesson for Fathers with kids playing sportsThis week at LovingTheChurch.com, I share a great story a good friend of mine once told me about fatherhood and little kids playing sports – Fatherhood, Softball, and the Greatest Lesson I Ever Learned

Enjoy!

May God bless you and keep you.


The Joe & Joe Show: Episode 3 – IS ANXIETY NORMAL?

Are you anxious? Joe and Joe discuss anxiety.This week on THE JOE & JOE SHOWIS ANXIETY NORMAL?

Do you suffer from anxiety?

Is anxiety normal?

What does Jesus Christ say about anxiety?

What is at the root of anxiety?

Joe & Joe discuss these and other questions surrounding the ever popular topic of anxiety. So listen in as they answer the question – IS ANXIETY NORMAL?

May God bless you and keep you.


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