National Sanctity of Human Life Day

From the President

Today, we focus our attention on the love and protection each person, born and unborn, deserves regardless of disability, gender, appearance, or ethnicity. Much of the greatest suffering in our Nation’s history — and, indeed, our planet’s history — has been the result of disgracefully misguided attempts to dehumanize whole classes of people based on these immutable characteristics. We cannot let this shameful history repeat itself in new forms, and we must be particularly vigilant to safeguard the most vulnerable lives among us. This is why we observe National Sanctity of Human Life Day: to affirm the truth that all life is sacred, that every person has inherent dignity and worth, and that no class of people should ever be discarded as “non-human.”

Science continues to support and build the case for life. Medical technologies allow us to see images of the unborn children moving their newly formed fingers and toes, yawning, and even smiling. Those images present us with irrefutable evidence that babies are growing within their mothers’ wombs — precious, unique lives, each deserving a future filled with promise and hope. We can also now operate on babies in utero to stave off life-threatening diseases. These important medical advances give us an even greater appreciation for the humanity of the unborn.

Today, citizens throughout our great country are working for the cause of life and fighting for the unborn, driven by love and supported by both science and philosophy. These compassionate Americans are volunteers who assist women through difficult pregnancies, facilitate adoptions, and offer hope to those considering or recovering from abortions. They are medical providers who, often at the risk of their livelihood, conscientiously refuse to participate in abortions. And they are legislators who support health and safety standards, informed consent, parental notification, and bans on late-term abortions, when babies can feel pain. These undeterred warriors, many of whom travel to Washington, D.C., every year for the March for Life, are changing hearts and saving lives through their passionate defense of and loving care for all human lives. Thankfully, the number of abortions, which has been in steady decline since 1980, is now at a historic low. Though the fight to protect life is not yet over, we commit to advocating each day for all who cannot speak for themselves.

— President Donald Trump, January 19, 2018

Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children

Collect for Mass

God our Creator,
we give thanks to you,
who alone have the power to impart the breath of life
as you form each of us in our mother’s womb;
grant, we pray,
that we, whom you have made stewards of creation,
may remain faithful to this sacred trust
and constant in safeguarding the dignity
of every human life.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, you Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity
of the Holy Spirit,
one God for ever and ever.

Psalm 139

For the leader. A psalm of David.

Lord, you have probed me, you know me:
you know when I sit and stand;
you understand my thoughts from afar.
You sift through my travels and my rest;
with all my ways you are familiar.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
LORD, you know it all.
Behind and before you encircle me
and rest your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
far too lofty for me to reach.
Where can I go from your spirit?
From your presence, where can I flee?
If I ascend to the heavens, you are there;
if I lie down in Sheol, there you are.
If I take the wings of dawn
and dwell beyond the sea,
Even there your hand guides me,
your right hand holds me fast.
If I say, “Surely darkness shall hide me,
and night shall be my light”—
Darkness is not dark for you,
and night shines as the day.
Darkness and light are but one.

You formed my inmost being;
you knit me in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, because I am wonderfully made;
wonderful are your works!
My very self you know.
My bones are not hidden from you,
When I was being made in secret,
fashioned in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw me unformed;
in your book all are written down;
my days were shaped, before one came to be.

How precious to me are your designs, O God;
how vast the sum of them!
Were I to count them, they would outnumber the sands;
when I complete them, still you are with me.
When you would destroy the wicked, O God,
the bloodthirsty depart from me!
Your foes who conspire a plot against you
are exalted in vain.

Do I not hate, LORD, those who hate you?
Those who rise against you, do I not loatheWith fierce hatred I hate them,
enemies I count as my own.
Probe me, God, know my heart;
try me, know my thoughts.
See if there is a wicked path in me;
lead me along an ancient path.

Abortion Poisons Human Society

In our times a special obligation binds us to make ourselves the neighbor of every person without exception and of actively helping him when he comes across our path, whether he be an old person abandoned by all, a foreign laborer unjustly looked down upon, a refugee, a child born of an unlawful union and wrongly suffering for a sin he did not commit, or a hungry person who disturbs our conscience by recalling the voice of the Lord, “As long as you did it for one of these the least of my brethren, you did it for me” (Matt. 25:40).

Furthermore, whatever is opposed to life itself, such as any type of murder, genocide, abortion, euthanasia or wilful self-destruction, whatever violates the integrity of the human person, such as mutilation, torments inflicted on body or mind, attempts to coerce the will itself; whatever insults human dignity, such as subhuman living conditions, arbitrary imprisonment, deportation, slavery, prostitution, the selling of women and children; as well as disgraceful working conditions, where men are treated as mere tools for profit, rather than as free and responsible persons; all these things and others of their like are infamies indeed. They poison human society, but they do more harm to those who practice them than those who suffer from the injury. Moreover, they are supreme dishonor to the Creator.

— Pope Paul VI, Gaudium et Spes, 27, December 7, 1965

Advertisements

A light that will never go out

Advent Meditation of the Day
In Conversation With God, Vol. 1, by Frances Fernandez

16.1 The purity of heart that Christmas calls us to. The fruits of this virtue. Internal acts.

Shower, O heavens, from above, and let the skies rain down righteousness: let the earth open, that salvation may spring up. (Isaiah  45:8)

Christmas is a light in the darkness, a light that will never go out. Everyone who looks toward Bethlehem can contemplate the baby Jesus, with Mary and Joseph, that is to say, everyone who looks with a pure heart, because God shows himself only to the pure in heart (Matthew 5:8).

Christmas is a summons to purity of heart. Perhaps many men see nothing wonderful when this feast comes around because they are blind to what is truly important, their hearts are full of material things, or of filth and misery. Uncleanness of heart produces insensitivity to the things of God, and to much that is humanly good as well, including compassion for the unhappiness of other people.

16.2 Guarding one’s heart.

Keep custody of your heart with all vigilance: for from it flows the springs of life, says the book of Proverbs (4:23). And from it too flow joy and peace, the ability to love and do apostolate. … How carefully we must guard our hearts! Because otherwise they always tend to attach themselves in the wrong way to people and to things.

Among all the aims of our lives, there is only one which is truly necessary: it is to reach the goal which God has set for us, to attain to heaven, by living our own individual vocation to the full. In order to achieve this, we have to be ready to lose everything else, to clear away anything which would obstruct our way. Everything must be a means for reaching God, and if anything whatever proves to be an obstacle, then we must put it right or give it up in sacrifice.

16.3 The pure of heart will see God even in this life and fully in the life to come.

‘The pure in heart shall see God.’ It is with good reason that the beatitude of seeing God is promised to the pure in heart. A life that is defiled can never contemplate the splendor of the true Light, because the very same thing which is the joy of pure souls will be the punishment of those that are defiled. (St Leo the Great, Sermon 95 On the Beatitudes)

If our hearts are pure they will know how to recognize Christ in the intimacy of silent prayer, in the busy middle of our work, in the everyday events of ordinary life. He lives and goes on acting within us. A Christian who sincerely searches for Our Lord will find him, because it is this same Lord who is looking for us.

If we lack inner purity the clearest signals will mean nothing to us, and we shall interpret them all wrong, as the Pharisees did, even to the point of being scandalized by them. God himself and his works in the world can only be seen by those whose dispositions are good.

The contemplative life is within the reach of every Christian. But there has to be a firm, serious decision to look for God in every circumstance, to purify oneself, and to make reparation for one’s sins and errors. It is always a grace from God, and he does not deny it to anyone who humbly asks for it. Advent is an especially propitious time to ask for this gift.

To be perfected in God’s grace

The Commemoration of All Souls

Today the Church prays for the souls being purified in Purgatory. As we remember our deceased loved ones, let us also pray in a special way for the assistance of today’s “holy innocents,” those whose lives were ended — in their mothers’ wombs — through the sin of abortion, and who in their innocence bypass Purgatory. Through their union with God, may they pray for us and assist us in building a culture of life in America and throughout the world.

Quotes of the Day

No one is barred from heaven. Whoever wants to enter heaven may do so because God is all-merciful. Our Lord will welcome us into glory with his arms wide open. The Almighty is so pure, however, that if a person is conscious of the least trace of imperfection and at the same time understands that Purgatory is ordained to do away with such impediments, the soul enters this place of purification glad to accept so great a mercy of God. The worst suffering of these suffering souls is to have sinned against divine Goodness and not to have been purified in this life.

— Saint Catherine of Genoa, Treatise of Purgatory, 12

How sweet will death be for the person who has fully repented of all personal sins and can leap over Purgatory. — Saint Teresa of Avila, Way of Perfection

Do not ever forget that after death you are going to be welcomed by Love itself. Within the love of God you will find implicit all the noble human loves on earth as well. Our Lord has arranged for us to spend this brief day of our earthly existence working, and like his only-begotten Son, ‘doing good.’ Meanwhile we have to be on our guard and alert to the call St Ignatius of Antioch felt within his soul as the hour of his martyrdom approached: ‘Draw close to your Father. Come to him who is so desirous of your company.’

— St Josemaria Escriva, Friends of God, 221

Catechism of the Day: I believe in life everlasting

1030 All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven.

1031 The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned. The Church formulated her doctrine of faith on Purgatory especially at the Councils of Florence and Trent. The tradition of the Church, by reference to certain texts of Scripture, speaks of a cleansing fire:

As for certain lesser faults, we must believe that, before the Final Judgment, there is a purifying fire. He who is truth says that whoever utters blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will be pardoned neither in this age nor in the age to come. From this sentence we understand that certain offenses can be forgiven in this age, but certain others in the age to come. (St Gregory the Great)

1032 This teaching is also based on the practice of prayer for the dead, already mentioned in Sacred Scripture: “Therefore [Judas Maccabeus] made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin.” From the beginning the Church has honored the memory of the dead and offered prayers in suffrage for them, above all the Eucharistic sacrifice, so that, thus purified, they may attain the beatific vision of God. The Church also commends almsgiving, indulgences, and works of penance undertaken on behalf of the dead:

Let us help and commemorate them. If Job’s sons were purified by their father’s sacrifice, why would we doubt that our offerings for the dead bring them some consolation? Let us not hesitate to help those who have died and to offer our prayers for them. (St John Chrysostom)

Scriptures of the Day

Old Testament: Wisdom 3:1–9

The souls of the just are in the hand of God,
and no torment shall touch them.
They seemed, in the view of the foolish, to be dead;
and their passing away was thought an affliction
and their going forth from us, utter destruction.
But they are in peace.
For if before men, indeed, they be punished,
yet is their hope full of immortality;
chastised a little, they shall be greatly blessed,
because God tried them
and found them worthy of himself.
As gold in the furnace, he proved them,
and as sacrificial offerings he took them to himself.
In the time of their visitation they shall shine,
and shall dart about as sparks through stubble;
they shall judge nations and rule over peoples,
and the LORD shall be their King forever.
Those who trust in him shall understand truth,
and the faithful shall abide with him in love:
because grace and mercy are with his holy ones,
and his care is with his elect.

Responsorial Psalm: 23

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
In verdant pastures he gives me repose;
beside restful waters he leads me;
he refreshes my soul.
R. Though I walk in the valley of darkness, I fear no evil, for you are with me.

He guides me in right paths
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk in the dark valley
I fear no evil; for you are at my side
with your rod and your staff
that give me courage.
R. Though I walk in the valley of darkness, I fear no evil, for you are with me.

You spread the table before me
in the sight of my foes;
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
R. Though I walk in the valley of darkness, I fear no evil, for you are with me.

Only goodness and kindness follow me
all the days of my life;
and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD
for years to come.
R. Though I walk in the valley of darkness, I fear no evil, for you are with me.

New Testament Epistle: Romans 5:5–13

Brothers and sisters:
Hope does not disappoint,
because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts
through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.
For Christ, while we were still helpless,
died at the appointed time for the ungodly.
Indeed, only with difficulty does one die for a just person,
though perhaps for a good person
one might even find courage to die.
But God proves his love for us
in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.
How much more then, since we are now justified by his Blood,
will we be saved through him from the wrath.
Indeed, if, while we were enemies,
we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son,
how much more, once reconciled,
will we be saved by his life.
Not only that,
but we also boast of God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
through whom we have now received reconciliation.

Gospel: John 6:37–40

Jesus said to the crowds:
“Everything that the Father gives me will come to me,
and I will not reject anyone who comes to me,
because I came down from heaven not to do my own will
but the will of the one who sent me.
And this is the will of the one who sent me,
that I should not lose anything of what he gave me,
but that I should raise it on the last day.
For this is the will of my Father,
that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him
may have eternal life,
and I shall raise him on the last day.”

Prayer of the Day
Saint Gertrude the Great’s Prayer for the Holy Souls in Purgatory

Eternal Father, I offer Thee the Most Precious Blood of Thy Divine Son, Jesus, in union with the masses said throughout the world today, for all the holy souls in purgatory, for sinners everywhere, for sinners in the universal church, those in my own home and within my family. Amen.

More

Song of the Day: Danny Boy performed by Eva Cassidy (d. Nov. 2, 1996)
Say an Ave for me

The greatest gift par excellence

Feast of Saint Faustina

First Quote of the Day

I do not desire to punish aching mankind but I desire to heal it pressing it to My merciful heart… — Jesus to Saint Faustina, Diary #1516

Questions of the Day

Do we expect God to work miraculously?

Are we open to receiving the gifts God wants to give us?

Second and Third Quotes of the Day

Life in the Spirit is never dull. I love to tell people ‘God is full of surprises.’ People ask me ‘Is your life boring? Is your life monotonous?’ And I say ‘No two days are ever the same.’ I think when we really dare to give ourselves over to the Holy Spirit, that’s when things get exciting, that’s when things get really fun. It can be a little scary because you do lose control in a sense of my plans, my ideas. But when you can get beyond that, of my goodness, the hundredfold of it is just incredible. … We just need to let Him be in charge, and have fun. — Sister Maris Stella Vaughn, OP

God was waiting for me to release my control, so He can show me His love. — Bishop Sam Jacobs

Video of the Day
The Wild Goose #5: The Gifts of the Holy Spirit

Prayer of the Day

Come, Holy Spirit and fill us. Pour out your gifts upon the world. Heal and restore broken bodies and hearts. Illuminate darkened minds. Set free those bound by sin. Bring peace and hope to those disturbed and who feel uncertain in the world. Give us the grace to surrender to and embrace your holy will. Give us strength and courage to do what we must do and faith to step back and allow you to do all that you want to do. Enliven us that we may enjoy the fullness of life that Jesus came to give.

Challenge of the Day
Dare to give your life over to the Holy Spirit.

A free heart where God can dwell

Quote of the Day
excerpt from chapter 2 of The Gift of Faith by Tadeusz Dajczer

And you, in whom or in what do you place your hope? What do you count on? Who is your God? If you place your hope in a false god, then you will know bitterness and disappointment, because it is a matter that sooner or later will disappoint you. This will be a great grace for you because then your trust in mammon will begin to crumble.

What can this mammon that enslaves your heart be? It can be material as well as spiritual goods. For example, it can be attachment to money, to your children, to your work, or to something you are presently creating or working on. It may be attachment to peace or even to one’s own perfection. All these attachments cause your bondage and bring you slavery. As a human being you can choose to attach yourself to the one and only reality — the will of God. Everything that enslaves you closes you off from God and diminishes your faith.

How can you uncover your mammon? Are the tension, stress, restlessness, rushing, and sadness that accompany you through life signs that you serve some kind of mammon? There are people, for example, who live under constant stress. How great then must be their attachment to something opposed to God. People free from attachments are filled with the peace of God. The peace of God builds and strengthens mental health, which in turn reflects on physical health. In this way, the soul, the psyche, and the body participate in a person’s great freedom. A person free form attachments is also free from facial wrinkles, from stress, and from the diseases of civilization. Mammon systematically destroys a human person. It not only blocks your way to Christ and your adherence to Him, but it also destroys your health and your psyche.

An obvious sign of attachments is also your sadness in situations when God takes something away from you. He will, therefore, take that to which you are enslaved; hence, He will take everything that is your greatest enemy — whatever causes your heart not to be free for Him. It is only when you start to cheerfully accept these kinds of situations, and submit with serenity, that you will become more and more free.

While standing before the Lord during prayer, show Him not only your empty hands, but also your dirty hands defiled by your attachments to mammon, and pray that He will have mercy on you. Prayer can develop only in the atmosphere of freedom. As a disciple of Christ, you are especially called to contemplative prayer. For your prayer to become contemplation — a loving gaze on Jesus Christ, your beloved — it is essential to have a free heart. That is why Christ fights so much for your heart to be free. He fights through various events, difficulties, and storms, all the while giving you the chance to cooperate intensely with grace. In all these situations, Christ expects that you will try to cleanse your heart soiled by attachments and servitude to mammon. Hence, all these difficult moments and all the storms are graces for you. They are the passing by of the Merciful Lord who loves you so much that He wants to give you the magnificent gift — the gift of the total freedom of your heart. Your heart should not be divided; it should be a heart solely for Him.

To have faith means to see and understand the meaning of your life in accordance with the Gospel, and that God is most important. Your life is to be oriented toward Him — primarily to seek and to build His kingdom, with faith that everything else will be given to you (cf. Mat 6:33). God wants to bestow each person with all His love. However, He can bestow this on a person only to the extent of his openness and his readiness to be stripped of his attachments so that room may be made for Him. It is faith that creates the emptiness and vacuum in us where God can dwell.

He wants to pardon everyone

Nineteenth Week of Ordinary Time – Wednesday

Gospel of the Day: Matthew 18:15–20

Jesus said to his disciples:
“If your brother sins against you,
go and tell him his fault between you and him alone.
If he listens to you, you have won over your brother.
If he does not listen,
take one or two others along with you,
so that every fact may be established
on the testimony of two or three witnesses.
If he refuses to listen to them, tell the Church.
If he refuses to listen even to the Church,
then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector.
Amen, I say to you,
whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven,
and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
Again, amen, I say to you, if two of you agree on earth
about anything for which they are to pray,
it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father.
For where two or three are gathered together in my name,
there am I in the midst of them.”

Quote of the Day
In Conversation With God, Vol. 4, Francis Fernandez

60.1 The promise of the sacrament of Penance and its institution. Giving thanks for this sacrament.

Jesus is well aware of our weaknesses and failings. That is why he instituted the sacrament of Penance. He wanted us to be able to straighten out our ways whenever necessary. Christ had the power to forgive sins and He exercised it on a number of occasions — with the woman taken in adultery (John 8:11), with the good thief hanging from the cross (Luke 23:43), with the paralytic of Capharnaum (Mark 2:1–12) … He came to seek and to save the lost (Luke 19:10), just as he does now in our own day.

The prophets had prepared the way and foretold this restoration of all things in Christ and the reconciliation of man with God. It is reflected in the words of Isaiah: Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool (Is 1:18). This was  also the mission of the Baptist, who came to preach a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins (Mark 1:4). How is it then that people wince when the Church preaches the need for Confession?

Jesus shows his mercy above all in his approach to sinners. I know the plans I have for you, plans for peace and not affliction (Jer. 29:11). This was God’s promise through Jeremiah. The liturgy applies these words to Jesus, for it is through him that God reveals his infinite love for us. He did not come to condemn us, to remind us of our pettiness and lack of virtue. He came to save us, to pardon us, to excuse us, to bring us peace and joy (St Josemaria Escriva, Christ is passing by). He sought to pardon those men and women he met on the roads and in the villages of Palestine. He wants to pardon everyone who lives on the earth for the rest of time. …

60.2 Reasons for our gratitude

… In Confession we encounter Jesus, in the same way that the good thief met him, as did the woman caught in adultery, the Samaritan woman and so many others. We meet Jesus as Peter did after his denials. Inasmuch as the remission of sins is an action of Christ, it is at the same time an action of the Mystical Body, the Church.

We should also give thanks for the universality of this power granted to the Church in the person of the Apostles and their successors. The Lord is ready to forgive everything in everyone, always, as long as he finds the proper dispositions. …

Jesus says to us: I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. In Confession he gives us the opportunity to empty all worldliness from the soul, to have a thorough cleaning out. Imagine that God wants you to be overflowing with honey, but you are full of vinegar. Where can God put the honey? asks Saint Augustine. First you have to empty and clean out the container. … The Holy Spirit will increase the sensitivity of our souls if we make the little effort required to confess our sins frequently, to examine our consciences diligently and make good resolutions. We will acquire an interior refinement of soul characterized by a horror of mortal sin. We will flee from the occasions of mortal sin while we grow in our hatred of venial sin. In this manner, Confession fills us with confidence in the struggle. Those who practice it have found it to be “the sacrament of joy.”

…With this aid we make progress in humility. We combat un-Christian customs. We confront lukewarmness head on. We strengthen our will and increase sacramental grace in ourselves by the virtue of the sacrament of Penance. How mamy benefits we receive from the Lord through this wonderful sacrament!

Learn more